Chapter 35: Han Lin
Translator: Translation Nation/chuchutrain Editor: - -
Pei Zi Yun was in the yard chanting mnemonics and practising his moves. To regular people this looked just like a person exercising, with his slow and precise movements, and thus they paid him no heed.
After going through it a couple of times, he realized he felt different from when he had first started, when he was sweating buckets. Now he just felt a certain warmth spread through his entire body and thought to himself, 'My body is perfectly fit.'
'Daoist Cultivators place a great deal of emphasis on their bodies. They told me to practice till the 10th step, but actually, the 1st and 2nd steps were to train the body. The 3rd and 4th step were to start emitting Qi energy, which when translated to martial arts was referred to as inner energy?'
'It's a pity that this step requires to possess a certain amount of spiritual roots. Everyone in this world has some degree of spiritual roots, regardless of how significant or how strong. And here I am, stuck on this step, without any spiritual roots.'
'But this inner energy isn't that extraordinary. This phase requires me to eat bigger portions in order to give me more strength. In a meal, eating a few bowls of rice and an extra pound of meat isn't an issue.'
'The fifth and sixth steps are able to build on a person's inner strength. Someone who has above average inner strength is able to survive and be revitalized in merely four hours of sleep, and can battle women the entire night with no problems.'
'The seventh and eighth steps would mean that supernatural strength can be produced. The strength would be able to snap bowstrings, lift huge rocks, and bear the weight of heavy armor. During battles he can fight and kill nonstop without needing to rest.'
'The ninth step enables the person to control his strength and fuse it with softness. Similar to the legends and stories, if a person were to have this ability and not use it, he can live to a hundred years old, and become a human immortal.'
'The 10th steps onward would enable a person to enter Dao'
'Even if I don't have any spiritual roots now, when I eventually obtain Dao Techniques, I will be extraordinary. Additionally, with this young body that isn't leaking Yang, I am making good progress. As of now, I've fully mastered the second step.'
Without getting ahead of himself, he has managed to practise up till level. He took out the pill, swallowed it with the assistance of some rice wine, and was very satisfied.
Chen Yuan had woken up early as well, seeing Pei Zi Yun all dressed up, he hurried over to greet him.
"Lead the way!" Pei Zi Yun held on a fan and waved his hand, looking extremely dignified. Chen Yuan looked down, smiled to himself and started walking.
After leaving the county town and walking a hundred meters, they reached a dam.
The air near the river was fresh and crisp. Looking across the dam, there was a village close-by, with rows upon rows of houses built. The villagers looked to be busy in their daily routines. The women and old folks were busy bundling up straws, weaving fishing nets and making clothes. They had no time to sit around and relax.
That was the life of a farmer living in a village.
Thankfully at this time, the war and chaos had just ended. There was plenty of land with little people in it. The masses have to work very hard in order to provide necessities for themselves. Therefore when Pei Zi Yun walked past they still looked happy and comfortable.
'If we walk past here in a few years time, once the population numbers had increased and the lands had became increasingly infertile, these people won't be so amicable. A few years after the stabilization of the dynasty, these villagers would often fight over lands among themselves that could turn ugly very quickly.'
After arriving at the village, they reached a particular house. They were able to hear a deep voice reading aloud, "On the academic path, one learns ethic, and how to treat people with kindness. After a person has learnt, he will understand. After a person understands he will be quiet. When a person is quiet he will have peace. When he has peace he will be able to think. When a person thinks, he will gain."
Pei Zi Yun stopped in his tracks and looked at a house, "Is it this house?"
"Yes, this house belonged to a High Scholar of the house of Gao from the previous dynasty but they are in dire straits right now. Master, I shall go and make inquiries." said Chen Yuan. The parents of this scholar were patching cloth to make ends meet and were living in a mudhouse. This house looked extremely ran down. It was clear that the family was poor. As soon as Chen Yuan entered, voices were raised.
"We're not selling, we're not selling. These books are volumes passed down from our ancestors, how can we sell it to you. Son, if you wish to sell these books, just step over my dead body!" the scholar seemed to be tempted to sell, but was being restrained by his mother.
"Who are you?"
"Oh, I wanted to buy a book from the house of Gao and was willing to pay eight hundred coins for it. But they refused to sell."
"Iya, he probably wants to become an Elementary Scholar. Selling off his ancestor's books is definitely not a good omen for passing the Imperial Examinations, no wonder he refused to sell it." Echoed the crowd that had gathered outside as they started gossiping.
"Master, you've seen it for yourself. The Gao family refuses to sell it. What should we do?"
Having already seen the book, he knew that it still didn't make the mark. However he felt a strange sensation in the plum blossom, and was thus certain that it was a Legacy and had contained special knowledge within. Pei Zi Yun then thought to himself, 'It's hard to locate an actual Legacy. Having searched through many houses, we didn't manage to find a single Legacy. Even if we had managed to locate some, it was either of inferior quality and thus worthless, or refused to be sold to him.'
'However since this was the case, I shouldn't press further. It was precisely because the original owner had pressed on like this that his secret had been discovered.'
He waved the fan in his hand and said, "Either way, I don't value the works of this house. There are numerous old works under the heavens. Return it to him. Let's go, we'll move on to the next house."
"Yes. In this village, I've located another house. Let's go take a look master. If we don't find anything worthwhile, we can go to another village to try our luck."
Pei Zi Yun followed him. Before long, Chen Yuan said, "Master, it's the fifth house."
As they approached, they noticed that there was a dilapidated mansion before them. There was a statue of a lion standing at the door, which was deep crimson red. A pillar was next to door and had two tiles embedded deep into it. Upon closer inspection, Pei Zi Yun realized that this indicated that its resident was an official. His curiosity was piqued. Which person living in such a mansion would be willing to sell his ancestral books?
Chen Yuan led Pei Zi Yun and said, "This particular house had ancestors with rich history. They even had someone who scored the second highest marks in the Grand Scholar Examinations in the previous dynasty and eventually became a high ranking official. However due to the chaos that ensued between dynasties, this house was completely destroyed. All they have left are a few mu of land."
"The mansion that we had walked past earlier, belonged to this house once but now belongs to someone else. They sold it off to survive. Master take a look, that place is now where he reside."
Looking in the direction pointed out by Chen Yuan, he saw several straw houses. Upon closer inspection, he realized that these houses were surrounded by a bamboo fence. An old woman was tending to her garden of crops.
The fenced up yard had contained onions, garlic, cabbages and carrots. This woman was tending to the cabbages and removing wild weed and worms from them.
At this point, the sound of pages being flipped emerged from the house, and the same sentence was read out a few times in succession before the voice moved onto the next sentence. Hearing those words was enough for someone to get a headache due to its complexity.
Chen Yuan stepped forward and shouted through the door, "Zhang Zheng, Zhang Zheng, I have a buyer here for you. Hurry on out. Once you miss an opportunity like this, another one won't come."
The voice from within the house paused, before completely going quiet as if he was suppressing a reply.
Apparently Chen Yuan knew this man and approached him. He pushed open the door and entered the room and started shouting, "Hey, Student Zhang, speak up. If you are willing take the books out and let master Pei inspect it. Master Pei is a scholar too and is well versed in the matter of books. Over the past few days he had managed to hatch a plan to exterminate the Black Wind bandits. He loves literature too, especially those that had been personally written by talented individuals and is looking for some volumes. Your house possesses works written by Grand Scholars. If you are willing, you can sell it to Master Pei. He is generous and wouldn't shortchange you."
As Chen Yuan was speaking he heard a deep sigh from inside.
This Zhang Zheng wasn't young anymore, and looked to be about thirty years old. He wore a long robe and there were some holes on his clothes that had been loosely patched up. His hair was in a mess and dark rings were noticeable around his eyes. It seemed like he had been studying and not sleeping for several nights. He seemed to be hesitating and struggling within himself.
Chen Yuan walked up to him and continued, "Student Zhang, think back to the last time your mother had meat to eat. Think about the amount of money needed for you to take the examinations. If you refuse to sell your books or refuse to do anything but rely solely on your mother for survival, what if you fail to become an Elementary Scholar again?"
Zhang Zhen opened his mouth as if he attempted to argue but no words left his lips. When he was young, there was chaos and havoc. Now that it's a peaceful era, he has taken the examinations twice in a row but failed to pass. His house was struggling with money.
Zhang Zheng sighed deeply and pointed two fingers indicating 2 taels of silver. Chen Yuan was elated and said, "This student has agreed? 2 silver taels would make a good price."
Zhang Zheng blushed and replied, "I meant 20 taels of silver. If he doesn't have 20 taels of silver, I am not selling. You have to know this volume was written by Han Lin of the previous dynasty. Without that amount, I am not selling."
Hearing this student asking for the sky, Chen Yuan scolded him in anger, "As a poor student, do you know how large a sum is 20 taels of silver? That amount is equivalent to 2 mu of paddy fields. This is just a book, what right do you have to demand for the value of 2 mu of paddy fields?"
Due to the lashing he got from Chen Yuan, Zhang Zhen reduced his price by 2 taels of silver and wouldn't budge any lower than that. Chen Yuan was unable to grasp the concept that this book could be worth that much and huffed in anger.
Pei Zi Yun had heard it all from outside and asked, "This student refuses to sell?"
Chen Yuan looked dejected and replied, "This student has agreed to sell, but he insisted that this book was written personally by Han Lin of the previous dynasty and demanded 20 silvers for it. He said he was willing to lower the price by 2 silvers and so I've come to tell master the situation."
"He wants 20 silver taels?" Having been in this world for long enough, he understood the value of 20 silver taels. Pei Zi Yun laughed aloud. In fact a book written by Han Lin could be worth such an amount if it was a popular volume. However this particular volume wasn't worth that much. It was worth 2 taels at most.
'However, I remember this name. Zhang Zheng. I remember that in the next examinations he will become an Elementary Scholar.'
'And if Han Lin's volume was a Legacy and contained special wisdom, why wouldn't 20 silver taels be worth it?'
'And I can earn some good karma.'
With this chain of thought he said, "Tell Zhang Zhen to bring the book out. If it's suitable we can come to an agreement."
Chen Yuan went inside and told him. Shortly after, a middle-aged man came out. He was still dressed in the patched up robe and his hair was still messy. He was holding on to a book.
Zhang Zhen walked up to Pei Zi Yun and noticed that Pei Zi Yun was younger than him. A flash of envy was evident in his eyes. He handed the book over for Pei Zi Yun to inspect. He realized that the words on the cover page were proper and seemed like they had been inscribed deep into the book. Just as Pei Zi Yun flipped it open, there was a reaction from the Plum Blossom. This book was indeed a Legacy. He was elated, yet didn't show it. He clasped his hands and saluted Zhang Zhen, "Looks like it is brother Zhang. I have heard your popular name in the county. As for this book......." Pei Zi Yun paused deliberately and looked at the hut before them and continued, "Brother Zhang has some hardships."
Zhang Zhen's expression flickered to one of confusion followed by shame. Pei Zi Yun then said, "Your ancestor is Han Lin and this book is definitely worth it. I shall pay you 30 silver taels, what do you say?"
Hearing these words, Chen Yuan and Zhang Zhen were both stumped. They've only heard of people haggling to bring the price down. Who bargains for a more expensive deal? Zhang Zhen straightened up. Asking for 20 taels of silver for this book was already pushing it, 30 taels of silver even more so. With a red face, he said, "How can I do that, how can I do that?"
Pei Zi Yun sighed, "Zhang Han Lin was a renowned literary genius, and I am in awe of him. Having acquired his book, I am sure it will teach me a great deal. This 30 taels of silver I urge brother Zhang to keep it. With brother Zhang's talent, it won't be long before you live in a big house once more, by then I will need you to advise me."
As he said this, he took out 3 pieces of banknotes, each were worth 10 taels of silver.
Zhang Zhen's face was red with shame and he refused to take it. However, seeing his frail and old mother, his eyes started turning red, tears rolling down his cheeks. He sighed and said, "Brother Pei is magnanimous and generous, no words can describe your actions. I will shamefully accept it."
Pei Zi Yun saluted him, and gave up the notes before taking Han Lin's book. He was overjoyed. Han Lin of the previous dynasty was indeed a renowned Grand Scholar. Having access to his extraordinary works, he knew that he benefited greatly!
The 2 of them saluted each other as Pei Zi Yun departed. Chen Yuan's face was filled with envy. Pei Zi Yun's heart was racing as he came up with an idea, "Chen Yuan, you are rather efficient. I shall give you another job. Assist my mother in looking for some land south of the village. It's most ideal if the lands are all connected in a single stretch. When I am satisfied, I shall reward you accordingly."
As he said this, he took some silver taels and tossed it over to him, "This is 2 taels silver for your hard work. Work well for me and I won't shortchange you."
Chen Yuan was delighted. Catching the silver, he looked down and told Pei Zi Yun, "I dare not disappointed master's orders."