Chapter 54: Realization
Translator: Translation Nation/chuchutrain Editor: - -
Slow River County, Inn
When Pei Zi Yun reached Slow River County, he followed his usual habit of visiting the county Magistrate and the Mentor. When he finished, it was already late. He thus searched for an inn to stay in. He stayed in the same inn during his last visit after acquiring the precious gemstones.
The innkeeper and serving staff did not know that Pei Zi Yun was the top scorer, yet remembered him from the last time. They welcomed him and said, "Welcome guest, you are here to stay the night again."
"Although my inn doesn't have a rich hundred year history, I've just renovated my entire building and have been around for almost thirty years. Everyone who had stayed here have felt comfortable and at ease!" The innkeeper welcomed Pei Zi Yun in, and showed him a room. He opened the door and lit a lantern. He then instructed the serving boy to prepare some hot water for him to wash up. After which he sent up a cup of tea as well.
Just as the the innkeeper was about to walk out his room, Pei Zi Yun said, "Do not leave yet. I just came back from a journey on board a ship, find me some food, also, I've had enough of rice wine these past few days so get me some watered down wine instead."
"That's easy, I can get the chef to cook some dishes for you, and buy some slices of beef. The eatery next door sells good food, and I heard his cow has just died. I shall get you 100 grams of beef to go along."
Pei Zi Yun smiled as he agreed. Before long, the serving boy brought up a basket of food, and took all the dishes out and placed them on the table.
There were four dishes placed before him. A plate of sliced beef, some chicken cubes, peanuts, and fried eggs.
Pei Zi Yun nodded his head in approval as he began feasting. Before long, someone shouted, "Is Young Master in? I am Chen Yuan!"
Pei Zi Yun replied, "Enter!"
It was indeed Chen Yuan. Pei Zi Yun was rather surprised, "I've been back in the county for only half a day, and you already came looking for me?"
Chen Yuan's attitude was different from the last time they had met. He took a more respectful and cautious tone, "Young Master, you've attained High Scholar status. A horse had rode all the way to your the prefecture to report the news. And people from the prefecture has been sent to Slow River County to relay the good news. People were sent again from the county to the village to share the joyous news. The minute I heard this, I came to find you at once."
"I waited at the pier for you. Although I did not see you at the pier, I asked around and heard that you ended up here."
"That's good. Have a seat. Shall we eat together?"
"No need, I've already eaten. The purpose of my visit is to report to you." Although Chen Yuan did not refer to himself as "beneath" Pei Zi Yun's status, he was extremely respectful and polite, very different from the last time.
The night was dark and a full moon cast its light overhead, shining through the trees in the courtyard.
Pei Zi Yun did not insist, and continued eating his dishes alone, "How's the task I've entrusted you with coming along?"
Chen Yuan immediately took out the land deeds and handed it over, "Young Master has given me some money to buy parcels of land. However, I've been stopped at the county. They said that Young Master was a mere Elementary Scholar, why would he need this much land?"
"They even questioned the origins of the money. They said that Young Master initially had little land, how did you manage to come up with so much money all of a sudden?"
"Even if I were to run until my legs broke, I was unable to convince them. However, a couple of days ago I managed to meet up with the official in charge of the land in the county. He took a look at the documents and was extremely polite. He approved of the request and thus I was able to proceed. I had initially thought of handing the deeds over to old madam Pei tomorrow, but Young Master showed up today, and thus here I am."
Pei Zi Yun took a look at the land deeds as Chen Yuan continued speaking, "Young Master, the deeds are divided into five pieces. The first deed is as you instructed, 50 mu for your ancestral temple."
"The second deed is for 400 mu of linked parcels of land. They are all just beside the Little East River, and are not far away from Snail Village. The price of those parcels of land was slightly more expensive than what we had anticipated."
Pei Zi Yun nodded his head in approval, "If we wish to purchase parcels of land that are linked, it's worth paying slightly more, if not we would be unable to purchase it."
"And the third deed is for fragmented parcels of land, which amounts to a total of 50 mu. Those parcels of land are extremely fertile."
"You are indeed rather capable." Pei Zi Yun was very satisfied as he put down the parcel of land deed. Having not been home these past few days, Chen Yuan was able to handle his affairs for him in an orderly fashion. He was probably aware of the situation back home and thus Pei Zi Yun asked, "How is my family doing?"
He then heard Chen Yuan reply immediately, "Old madam is doing very well at home. The village has just arranged for her to have a chef to handle her needs. The last time I visited the old madam, her mood and energy was pretty good."
Chen Yuan then paused for some time before continuing, "The Pei household ancestral temple containing a shrine has finished building. Now everyone is just waiting for Young Master to return and light the first offering and to hang up the inscription plate."
At this point, Pei Zi Yun had just finished his meal. He wore his shoes and walked over to the balcony in his room. Apart from this room, most of the other rooms were small and only contained a room to sleep in. Pei Zi Yun then said, "These things I've instructed you to do, you've accomplished. Since we already have parcels of land, now I need tenants for my parcel of land. Handle this for me too."
"I understand!" Chen Yuan bowed and said.
"No you do not understand. I'll explain it to you." Pei Zi Yun thought recalled the rumors the original owner had heard. This man was not a do-gooder, 'Ever since the establishment of the dynasty, the imperial edict advised landlords to reduce the rent. Some people felt that this was not a command, but rather a word of advice, and thus chose not to obey. This is how it often was. Yet when something untoward happens, and the matter gets brought before the court, they are found to be guilty of not obeying the law.'
'It's precisely because the dynasty had been established and peace is the ultimate aim, and the parcels of land are far and wide, that finding suitable tenants is not easy!' Pei Zi Yun turned to face Chen Yuan. He looked at him as if to warn him before speaking very slowly, "Do not use my title and name to do anything immoral or dishonest."
"Yes, yes!" Chen Yuan replied as if he was caught in a dilemma.
"However to settle something like that is easy as well. I'm prepared to go to the county and buy 10 oxs for ploughing the fields. The tenants can split the costs of the ox among themselves. You can be more generous, yet not too generous with them, so that they don't think I'm a pushover and can be taken advantage of."
Pei Zi Yun spoke and paused for sometime before changing the topic, "How's the business in the county?"
"Better than it was in the past!"
Pei Zi Yun returned into his room and stood at the corridor laughing, "I've seen a particular vacant shop in the northern area of the county, facing west. Below the vacant shop are two noodle shops, and there are two rooms upstairs. Behind the shop are several rooms as well, and the price is around 80 taels of silver. Buy that for me, and transform it into a business."
"Apart from the land, I've asked you to buy the shop for me. Handle these affairs."
Morning, By the Pier
The sun had just risen and was shining brightly on both ends of the river. Mist was hovering over the surface of the river like a thin layer of smoke.
It was time for the daily market fair. Many fishermen were buying and selling fishes in order to reap a profit. A small fishing boat has stopped by the river and the fisherman was selling a horse saddle, "Ai, a good quality horse saddle selling for a cheap price."
Several people approached to take a look, but did not buy. A horse saddle has to be specially fitted for a horse. On this small street, which family is rich enough to own a horse?
Someone pushed through the crowd and took a good look at the saddle. This man was not fierce looking and wore a plain white robe. He took a closer look and realized it was indeed of fine quality. His face sunk and he said, "This is the one!"
Before the words could even be uttered, two men huge men approached him, "Move along, there's nothing to see here!"
The surrounding people dispersed immediately. The fishermen cast a glance at the approaching men and forced a smile. He knew them to be members of the gang owning this river. Before he could say anything, the two men picked him up and dragged him away. They even took the horse saddle.
A scholar was watching this unfold before him and was shocked, "What kind of people are these, to have the audacity to kidnap someone in broad daylight."
Someone around him answered, "These are gangsters of the river, and are the overlords of this area. For matters like this we should not pry, neither do we dare to pry."
As he finished, he sighed.
A horse saddle lay in front of Zhang Jie Yu. Zhang Jie Yu examined it before asking, "Is this the horse saddle?"
"Young Master, indeed it is. The river gangsters saw this fisherman selling this saddle by the pier. When they took it back to confirm, the people back at Li Mansion recognized it. It was indeed the saddle belonging to the horse which went missing from Li Mansion." Someone then continued his sentence, "Which is why we wasted an entire day before we were able to bring it here. Indeed this belonged to Li Mansion."
This fisherman did not understand what was happening and knelt on the ground trembling in fear. He then shouted out loud, "Master, master, I really did not steal the horse. A few days ago I let loose my fishing net early in the morning. Just then I saw someone riding a horse to the riverbank. I was still wondering which Young Master was it who would be up riding so early. Before anything else could happen, he stabbed the horse and killed it. When he dumped the horse in the river, I was too afraid to say anything. When this man was far away, I felt it was such a waste. So I greedily picked up the carcass and ate the meat. I took the saddle and wanted to sell it. I really did not steal it. It was another Young Master. Whatever I'm saying is the truth."
This fisherman was continuously kowtowing, loudly begging for his life.
"Tell me, did you get a good look at the person who stole the horse?" Asked Zhang Jie Yu through gritted teeth.
The fisherman remained kneeling and thought for sometime before saying, "I've seen his face, I've seen his face. Although I was some distance away, I was able to get a look at him for 7 or 8 seconds. If I were to see him again, I would be able to recognize him for sure."
Zhang Jie Yu waved his hand, and someone instantly brought some drawings out. There were several drawings of Pei Zi Yun. He randomly took out one and looked at it and laughed. He then asked, "Are you sure this is the man?"
The fisherman hesitated for sometime before saying with certainty, "This is the man. I can remember his features well. Those eyes were very scary. It is him."
Zhang Jie Yu flew into a rage, "It was dark at night, he took a boat down to his house. He killed the man, stole the horse and rushed back to the capital before drowning the horse! This is the truth. He really murdered him!"
"Pei Zi Yun, it really is you. My suspicions came true."
He immediately called for a servant, "Call for my fellow brothers to follow me. And call the gangsters from the river, and all the remaining people from Black Wind Sect. Gather all of them, we shall have our revenge."
At this point, the man from the monastery had some hesitation, "Young Master, this man is already a High Scholar. In fact, he's the top scorer of his batch. How can we act this way, this will ruin the Imperial Qi."
Zhang Jie Yu bit down hard on his teeth and made a loud sound. He then glared menacingly at the Daoist and said, "LI Wen Jing had worried about this and that, and now he's dead. He was murdered at the hands of this man."
"I understand that we are cultivators. And I understand the importance of Divine Will and Imperial Qi, which is why there's some apprehension within me. But my right hand man has been slaughtered by this man. Even if there are consequences, how dire can they be?"
"If we allow this person to develop and grow some more, we might have a bigger problem on our hands in future." Zhang Jie Yu's expression was faint as he shook his head and sighed.
"But..." The Daoist was still unconvinced. Normal people are ignorant and lack experience, naturally they are unafraid. Only the youths will run into danger full of pride and hot blooded confidence. Which man in their thirties would still be as daring and unafraid?
Having experienced the world for themselves, and experienced strength that do not belong to them, they understood respect and fear. It's just like a group of people within an sect against the common folk. The fear of death that's apparent in the common folk will never be seen on the faces of the people within the sect.
"Forget it, I have no use for Daoist cultivators in this situation. I will use common folk. Will that do?" Although Zhang Jie Yu was addressed as Young Master, this did not mean that the Daoist man was his slave. Zhang Jie Yu waved his hand decided that this was what he was going to do.
He had himself, and a group of people at his disposal. Killing a man without any Dao Skills would not be difficult at all.
Hearing these words, the Daoist man agreed, "I will gather the men."
Zhang Jie Yu then revealed a smile. He drew his sword and looked down at the fisherman still kneeling. He drove the sword deep into the man's chest "Pu!" The sword pierced through the man's heart as he shouted out in pain, just moments before death came.