Chapter 73: Let's Drink Up
Translator: Translation Nation Editor: - -
They had all drank to slight inebriation, Pei Zi Yun clinked his glass with High Scholar Fu and they had another cup of wine. Chen Jin Chun and Yu Mao Guang knew Pei Zi Yun's talents and thus weren't silly enough to challenge him to a poem competition they knew they would lose.
At that precise moment, Shen Zhi walked up to Pei Zi Yun's table, with two people escorting him. He then placed a flask of wine and some writing materials on the table.
Shen Zhi then poured out a cup of wine for Pei Zi Yun and placed it on the table. He then smiled and said, "I've long heard of the talents and skills possessed by Top Scorer Pei. And today we chanced upon each other. If I may be so bold to request a poem by Top Scorer Pei, so that I can sample and enjoy the quality that everyone else had been raving about."
Pei Zi Yun was with High Scorer Fu, Chen Jin Chun and Yu Mao Guang. They had been eating, drinking and discussing several essays. When he had been invited to recite a poem by Shen Zhi, the rest of them didn't find it odd whatsoever. Pei Zi Yun was indeed extremely talented, and was the Top Scorer of the past examination as well. Thus, it was not strange that he would attract attention from the literary world. Over the past few days, the essays of the new batch of High Scholars had just been released. The quality of those essays were extraordinary.
When the essays' compilation was released, there were still some people who cast doubts about the quality of this batch of High Scholars. However, those people were unable to speak out openly about their opinions. This was because they lacked the necessary credentials and were only critical for the sake of being critical.
Pei Zi Yun raised his head and looked up to see Wei Ang standing beside Shen Zhi. When their gazes met, Wei Ang gave him a wink, before prompting him. Only then did Pei Zi Yun react. It was clear that Wei Ang was giving his junior brother the opportunity to make a name for himself.
This was exactly what Pei Zi Yun wanted. When Pei Zi Yun realized this, he stood up and laughed, "Reciting poems is a small matter. What's unexpected is that Mister Shen would invite me to recite a poem, but come empty handed itself. If Mr Shen were to pour me three cups of wine, I would compose and recite a poem, what do you think?"
Shen Zhi was a renowned literary student himself. Pei Zi Yun was just a small time High Scholar who had just recently rose to fame. For him to make such a demand of Shen Zhi was slightly overboard. It was clear that the mood within the hall was tense. Even Wei Ang who was standing beside Shen Zhi was somewhat astounded.
After Pei Zi Yun had been requested to compose a poem, he formed a plan in his mind. In order to become renowned, the most important thing was to be talented. The next most important thing was to have a platform or venue to express his talents. Since Pei Zi Yun had no intentions to become a Grand Scholar, he wasn't afraid of being too popular. At this point, he had no need to be modest, 'Mr Shen too is a renowned literary scholar as well. If he were to pour wine for me, that would indicate that I was superior to him. As long as I am able to compose a poem that would win the hearts of everyone here, my name would be broadcasted, and the first step of my plan would be accomplished.'
The entire hall had turned silent. The people who knew Pei Zi Yun, High Scholar Fu, Chen Jun Chun and Yu Guang Mao were all extremely anxious. They knew that if he could compose a good poem, his good reputation would spread like wildfire. However, if he could not live up to the hype, his reputation would turn into one of a selfish, ignorant brat. The difference between the outcomes were akin to the difference between heaven and earth. Everyone around him was breaking out in cold sweat.
Although Shen Zhi was just an Elementary Scholar, he had followed Ji Bei Hou for a long time. With a stroke of his pen, generals would flock towards him and obey his orders. Who would dare to look at him as just a mere Elementary Scholar?
Having not seen anything like this in a long time, Shen Zhi eyed Pei Zi Yun for an extended period before breaking out into a smile, "It's only pouring wine, nothing difficult about that. Men! Bring me the wine and some cups."
A servant appeared immediately and brought the flask of wine over. Shen Zhi took over the flask and retrieved three cups before pouring them. He then placed the three cups on a tray, and presented the tray to Pei Zi Yun.
High Scholar Li, Chen Jin Chun and Yu Mao Guang were all worried. This was the make or break point for Pei Zi Yun. If he were able to compose a good poem, his reputation would soar to the heavens. However, if he could not deliver, he would be humiliated.
Pei Zi Yun reached over and took the cups of wine. He drained the three cups immediately, and felt a certain heat radiate through his entire body. He then exclaimed, "This is some good wine. Bring me a quill."
A servant behind Shen Zhi presented some pen and paper. Pei Zi Yun chose an empty table and placed the materials on them. Wei Ang then took the ink and said, "Brother Pei, it looks like you're going to compose a poem that is brilliant through the course of time. Let me do the honor of preparing your ink."
Wei Ang then retrieved the ink and started preparing it. When he was done, he placed the readied ink on the table before walking away. He then glanced at Pei Zi Yun, who had started writing. Wei Ang then read the first strokes of the poem, which was titled, .
"Do you not see, the currents of the Yellow River flowing endlessly, pouring into the ocean, without ever turning back."
"Do you not see, our elders grieving while the reflection on the mirror showed an entire head of white hair. That was once ebony, now white as snow in their twilight years."
"One's life on Earth has to be filled with happiness and enjoyment, instead of bemoaning an empty goblet of wine while facing the moon."
There was a Yellow River in this world as well, and it was a big and well known river. Pei Zi Yun copied this poem wholesale from a famous poet, Li Bai, who had yet to be born during this time. This poem rocked the entire world when it was being composed and was titled, .
For every sentence that Pei Zi Yun wrote, Wei Ang read it out loud for everyone to hear. Just after three lines, the expressions of everyone was that of shock. There were a hundred people all around, and everyone was listening to Wei Ang read the poem. There was not a sound that could be heard in between the pauses.
"As a host, why should I exempt myself by claiming I'm poor, as I would readily buy however much is required for us to drink till our heart's' content."
"I have with me five horses, and a coat worth a thousand gold taels. Take this and exchange them for praises of good wine, to relieve ourselves of the burdens we might face tonight."
When the last phrase had been read out, the entire hall was deadly silent. Immediately after, everyone exclaimed in shock before cheers erupted. Wei Ang, Shen Zhi, High Scholar Fu, Chen Jin Chun and Yu Guang Mao were all speechless and looked at Pei Zi Yun.
Shen Zhi poured another cups of wine, before sighing, "When Top Scorer Pei asked me to pour him three cups of wine, I had initially thought he was playing a joke. Only today I realized that I have met a literary genius. Your talents are feared by the immortals, and cannot be measured by the water in the oceans."
"I shall punish myself, by drinking an additional three cups." He then drained the three cups before him and continued, "I've read your essays, and you are indeed spectacular. It's a shame you've joined a Dao sect. Why don't you return to the secular world, you will rise up in ranks rapidly."
Pei Zi Yun then replied, "Life is short. The reason I've became a High Scholar was to appease my family. Now that my family is doing well, I've decided to travel the four seas and see every corner of the earth myself and live a nomadic lifestyle."
When Shen Zhi heard this, his eyes glimmered. From afar, he saw Pei Zi Yun returning the toasts of people around him and sighed deeply. He turned around and muttered under his breath, "What a shame."
Ever since the establishment of the dynasty, curfews were no longer implemented. Although the streets were quiet, and most of the lanterns hanging at each house had been extinguished, there were still some big houses with their lights on. When the banquet was concluded, everyone started making their way home. In their drunken state, many people were still reciting the poem Pei Zi Yun composed.
When High Scholar Fu reached home, the lanterns before his entrance were still lit. Seeing the ox-cart approaching, several servants rushed forward to welcome them, "Old master is back?"
"Quick, help young master Pei in, and get him some alcohol-dispelling soup."
Pei Zi Yun had composed a poem that shocked the entire hall. Regardless of whether the toasts to him were out of respect or envy, they came in numbers. Although he had managed to cultivate his inner strength, he was still heavily intoxicated.
High Scholar Fu however was still extremely alert and aware as he dished out orders.
High Scholar Fu then walked to the next block and saw that Yu Yun Jun was in a room, as the candles were lit in there. He sighed and pushed open the doors to the room.
Yu Yun Jun was writing an essay, and the little girl Chu Xia was sprawled on the bed, fast asleep. Hearing the door creak open, Yu Yun Jun looked up and smiled, "Oh, my brother-in-law is back."
"Yun Jun, take a look at this poem." High Scholar Fu then handed her the paper. Yu Yun Jun was somewhat surprised. All these years of living in Fu Mansion, never once did her brother-in-law drop in on her after a long night out. This time however, he had entered her room and spoken to her. She then accepted the poem. Under the light, she read it.
"This is a good poem!" She turned around, as her eyes gleamed, "Who wrote this poem?"
"It was written by your good disciple today. You weren't there to see it for yourself, but hundreds of High Scholars and renowned characters were all astounded by the quality of his work. They were awed by him."
"Wei Ang even got Ji Bei Hou to grant him a favor, all for your good disciple."
"This was extremely unconventional. However, nobody there dared to disapprove. Even Shen Zhi could not disagree, not with a piece like this." High Scholar Li then exhaled, "This disciple of yours is a genius, and not like any other man. It's no wonder you would abruptly accept him as your disciple."
Hearing the words spoken by High Scholar Fu, Yu Yun Jun's hands trembled.
"That person!" His words were true, and she understood it. Out of the blue, a youth appeared before her eyes. The image of him was clear, and then it became blur. He had an innocent playmate before him, who eventually became his childhood sweetheart. They had plans to be married, but alas, were fated to meet but not fated to be together.
Yu Yun Jun could neither laugh or cry. She then examined the poem once more. As she read the poem, tears rolled down her cheeks.
"Ai, such a beautiful piece of work." High Scholar Fu gazed at the lights and said softly.
Yu Yun Jun was speechless. Originally, her job was to observe and lookout for any potential candidates to join the sect. Then, she was to report her findings back and the other sect elders would then recruit the person she recommended. In the end, she decided to take Pei Zi Yun under herself. She nodded her head at her brother-in-law, and understood everything.
"Seeing this person, reminded me of that year. Although they look completely different, his demeanor and aura was exactly the same."
"So, this is how I truly feel?"
It was late in the night and the ember of the lone candle was dancing and flickering. The samurai warrior was kneeling before Shen Zhi. Shen Zi was no longer excited as he was earlier. He was writing a letter and sealed it up with wax when he was done.
He then handed the letter to the samurai warrior, "Follow this address and deliver the letter. Tell them to follow the instructions carefully."
The lights in the room weren't very bright and the lone candle was flickering, causing the shadows cast to dance as well.
"Hai, don't worry Mr Shen." Once the samurai gave his assurance, he kowtowed once, before standing up and leaving, his expression could not be seen at all due to the poor lighting.
The three other samurais behind him followed as they left through the backdoor of Hou Mansion. four horses had already been prepared as the three samurais followed the main warrior, disappearing under the cloak of darkness.
The wind was blowing strongly at night, bringing with it the musky smell of sea. The currents were unrelenting as they bashed onto the rocks of the breakwater. A small boat had stopped near the coast and several samurais were standing atop the boat. A leader stood in front of them, as several ronins stood beside him. They all carried swords on them, looking alertly for any signs of suspicious activities.
(TN : Ronins were mercenary Samurais)
The sound of horse hooves shattered the silence of the nights and the few ronins drew their swords. Under the fire of a torch, a lead samurai was leading three others on horseback as they raced towards the boats.
Seeing these samurais approaching, the samurais on the boat then sheathed their swords before alighting from the boat.
Seeing them alight, the samurais didn't utter a single word. He retrieved the letter and handed it over, "This is the task Mr Shen would like you to accomplish. I hope you would complete it as soon as possible."
The warriors from the boat took the letter and read it under the fire. When he had finished reading, he burnt the letter by placing it above the torch. He then turned around and said, "Hai. tell Mister Shen that he has my guarantee. I will handle this matter."
"Hai, please do." The samurais bowed to each other.
The samurais from the boat didn't speak much as well. They boarded the boat, and with a wave of a hand, the boat started gliding with the wind, the wind was still roaring in the night.