Chapter 80: A Little Higher
Translator: Translation Nation Editor: - -
Within thirty minutes, Navy Admiral Chen Ping hurried over. The minute he saw the Governor he admitted his negligence.
The magistrate of the prefecture came as well, along with his constable. The minute he boarded the boat, his expression became one of fear. There were many blood trails visible the moment he stepped onto the boat. When he walked further in, he caught a glimpse of the official's corpse along with the bodies of several scholars. The minute he saw the corpses, the hair on his body stood. For the pirates to be daring enough to commit such atrocity, was indeed scary.
The Governor glanced at the magistrate, "These assailants even recruited a dancer. Check this out. You have to get to the bottom of it."
Seeing that the Governor's expression was extremely unkind, the magistrate hurriedly replied, "Yes your excellency. I shall take some men to dig into the bottom of this. We shall discover who roped the pirates into attacking you."
Chen Ping knelt down as well, "Governor, we have to investigate with all our available resources and get to the bottom of this matter."
The Governor sat on the bench, his face showed a look of extreme anger. He didn't speak. After sometime he said, "There's no need for formality here General Chen. These pirates are outrageous. Who would've thought that just a few days ago, they terrorized Wealth County and now they've attacked me. This was not something that anyone could've anticipated. You do not have to blame yourself."
As he spoke, several soldiers marched in along with their officer. The military officer knelt down and paid his respects to the Governor. Seeing his fallen brothers, lifeless on the floor, his eyes started to turn red. He stood up and started dividing his troops to start protecting the Governor.
These soldiers were sent to ensure the safety and security of the Governor and were sent by the imperial court, and came under the charge of the Governor himself. He then sighed, "For those who died defending me, I have to give them a lavish funeral."
The military officer and soldiers knelt in unison before shouting, "Thank you, your excellency!"
The Governor then ordered, "Secure the perimeters. Ensure that nobody enters or leaves until the officials from the prefecture have arrived to conduct their investigations."
He then turned to Pei Zi Yun, "It's been hard on Top Scorer Pei, you should head back to rest!"
The Governor then turned around to leave as well, as he made his way back to his mansion. When the servants saw him arriving, they ran up to receive him. He waved his hand and ordered, "The tea can wait. Now I need you to pull out the file regarding Pei Zi Yun."
He then continued, "Call all the advisors here now."
When everyone has left the room, the Governor sat back in his chair and dipped his feet into the bowl of warm water. Feeling slightly more relaxed, he sighed as color returned to his cheeks. Having been subjected to such attack, with his life hanging in the balance, his entire shirt was wet from the perspiration from earlier. Only after being back in the heavily guarded Governor's mansion did he finally relax.
The sky was getting darker, as candles were being ignited. He had a piping hot bowl of soup and felt re-energized.
"There's no evidence!"
After such a tragedy had befallen, the prime suspect to the Governor was clearly Ji Bei Hou. The Governor had been chosen by the imperial court to repossess Ji Bei Hou's authority. Who would've thought that Ji Bei Hou would resort to such underhand methods. The Governor was very suspicious of him, and yet had no evidence.
"Ji Bei Hou owned the title of Marquis and thus is hard to act against." He heard movement outside before the door burst open. A group of advisors swarmed in like a pack of fishes, and sat before the Governor.
The Governor's expression was one of unhappiness. With a stoic expression he said, "I've gathered all of you here because of the incident with the pirates. What opinions do you have? Spill."
The advisors were all stumped that they were asked to expressed their views. An elder man, who looked to be slightly older than fifty, stepped forward, "Your excellency, I shall hold my thoughts until we get further details. Could you describe it to us?"
"And, where is his excellency Chen?"
His excellency Chen was the most senior advisor to the Governor, and amongst all the advisors, he was the only who received the recommendation from the Governor to become an official. Hence, he was being addressed as his excellency.
The man who spoke, was surnamed Suo and was a High Scholar. Among the senior advisors, he was one of the most high regarded as well. Hence the Governor often gave him face and some level of respect.
"Ai!" The Governor sighed deeply and told the story from top to bottom. He mentioned how Mister Chen had sacrificed his life in order to save him, as tears started welling up in his eyes. Mister Chen was his right hand man. For him to be killed by the pirates in such a fashion, the Governor was unable to control his emotions.
"What? The pirates have the audacity to attack the Governor? Damn wretched pirates." These advisors were all surprised and yet were secretly rejoicing. Mister Chen was the chief planner among the advisors, which meant that the rest of the advisors were constantly being overshadowed by him. Now that he's dead, they have another chance to step up to the vacant role and was secretly overjoyed, but they feigned sadness and showed loyalty.
"Your excellency, I suspect this has something to do with Hou Mansion. He wishes to get rid of the needle in his eye." An advisor stepped up to say.
"I disagree, your excellency. I think there's an informant or a spy within the city. The minute your excellency hosted a banquet, the pirates were aware and was able to attack at such a precise timing."
"Your excellency, I feel that these aren't important. What's important are the effects of this attack. As of today, the pirates have entered An Prefecture and could kill and plunder whenever they wish. If this could happen, what about the rest of the counties? The impact could be devastating. I urge your excellency to write to the imperial court, demand for some soldiers so we can wipe these pirates out."
"Your excellency, I suggest we restrict movement along the river. At the same time, we should station the navy by the mouth of the river to prevent the pirates from going through. For if they manage to launch an attack near the city, the consequences would be dire."
There were many differing ideas and opinions that even included having discussions with Ji Bei Hou and determining how best to deal with the pirates. All the advisors were unable to agree on a common solution, and were all mocking the ideas that weren't theirs.
Hearing the discussion on the floor, the Governor shielded his eyes from the sun and said, "Mister Suo, I want you to handle this situation and give me a detailed run-down by tomorrow. I'm feeling slightly tired."
The advisors were all stumped, and their conversations started to die down. The leader amongst them now, Chen Ping, sighed. He knew that whatever they had discussed today didn't settle well with the Governor and he wasn't in a mood to entertain their squabbling any longer.
After everyone had left the hall, the Governor threw a teacup onto the ground in anger, watching it smash into smithereens. He looked up at the ceiling and sighed, "Something like that has happened, how should I explain this to the imperial court?"
"The Emperor is wise and is capable of impressive martial arts, but he's not in the best health now. I wish to level all these pirates for the crown prince, for how long will he watch me sit around idly before replacing me?"
The Governor paused for sometime, as he heard a familiar voice ring out behind him. A pair of soft and gentle hands rested on his shoulders, before they started squeezing his shoulders gently, "Husband, I heard our subordinates talking. They were saying General Han was covered in blood when he led my husband back. When I came in, I realized all the soldiers who had left with you have yet to return. I then saw you call all your advisors in. Did something untoward happen?"
As the Governor's wife spoke, her voice was quivering in fear.
The Governor had just came under attack by the pirates, and was still recovering from shock. However, he would not allow his wife to see him weak. He then smiled and said, "My wife, do not worry. It's just a botched assassination attempt by the pirates. In the blink of an eye, they were all dealt with. I am fine, and have sent some men out to investigate this matter."
The governor looked up, before casting his glance downward. He saw the fragments of teacup on the ground, as well as a pool of tea on the floor.
"Ah? Pirates." The Governor's wife exclaimed loudly. She would never have been able to guess that pirates would dare to attack this close to the city.
After she involuntarily exclaimed, she realized that she had been too loud and lowered his voice, "Husband, the river here is a part of the inner waters and is far away from the sea. And yet there were pirates attacks here. Does this mean the pirates have infiltrated past the outer boundaries?"
Hearing his wife's words, the Governor waved his hands, "That's impossible. The pirates are weak. The reason for them attacking Wealth County was to plunder and rob. How can they actually penetrate the defenses of the outer boundaries?"
"And in the midst of the attack, the guards from within the city rushed to our aid. Seeing this happen, the pirates all fell back. It's clear that they're limited in strength, if not they would've continued fighting."
"However, in order to conduct an attack like this within the inner rivers, I suspect someone with authority has been helping them."
The Governor's wife extended her hand and massaged her husband's shoulders once more, "I've been telling you not to run for Governor. You should've been happy being a regular official in the capital. Why would you want to be involved in such a mess."
"Mistress Du, although my Guo family was renowned across the nation, we were only a family of low ranking officials. In fact, my three brothers were all officials as well. If I didn't take it upon myself to serve the Emperor personally, how would I be as successful as I am today and become a third ranked official?"
"But now your life's in danger. And even Mister Chen didn't return with you. This is dangerous." Mistress Du said softly. The Governor sighed and placed his hands to his shoulder and grabbed her hands who were still massaging his shoulders, "My wife...."
The Governor didn't complete his sentence as the both of them stayed that way in silence for some time. Each pondering over different thoughts."
"Your excellency, I've brought the materials here just as instructed." A secretary knocked as he spoke.
"Come in." The Governor sat up straight in his chair as his wife walked away. The secretary then handed a file over to him.
The file had a red stamp transfixed onto the center of it. And a note was attached to the file as well. Only after handing the file over did the secretary back away and headed for the door.
The Governor opened the file and gazed intently at the numerous and dense words all over the documents within. After reading for some time, his expression became soft, "I thought that this person was very close to the third master of Hou Mansion. Thus I was led to believe that he was abetting Ji Bei Hou. Although that seems rather unlikely after reading the file."
The Governor's wife came out from behind the screen and asked, "Husband, who were you speaking of?"
The Governor smiled, "I'm talking about our new Top Scorer Pei Zi Yun. He attended the banquet on board the boat and defended me. If it weren't for him, I'm afraid your husband would not be standing here before you."
The Governor was joking. The nature of their conversation had been dark and grim. He wanted to lighten it up by adding some humor.
"Since he helped to rescue and defend you, why are you investigating him?" The Governor's wife thought it was rather peculiar a thing to do.
The Governor gave a cold harrumph, "Maybe he was sent by someone? A person wearing a black mask and a person wearing a white mask have come to earn my trust. Furthermore this person is highly skilled in martial arts. There's no harm looking into his background."
(TN: A black mask was used to describe someone highly skilled and morally upright. A white mask was used to describe someone who was evil and had ill intent.)
"Oh, I remember now. He's the person who had composed , the poem that everyone has been talking about the past few days. In fact, the wives of several officials had dropped by to visit me, and we've spoken about this person as well. In fact, I've heard that several single ladies have been copying his poems all over the place, and wished to marry him. Who would've thought this was the same person to save your life." Mistress Du said in surprise.
"This person is indeed gifted in literature. In fact, last night he composed a poem that was of the same quality of . Just as I was about to ask for the title of the poem, we came under attack. These damn bandits are really vile."
The Governor picked up the file and continued reading. Most of the information about Pei Zi Yun before he became an Elementary Scholar were just rumors. The information that can be substantials were all after he became an Elementary Scholar. The information about him were rather detailed, and even included the fact that his name had been included in the Dao sect's registry.
The Governor raised his eyebrows. This person had even written a book.
That book was delivered by High Scholar Fu to the book merchants to be published. The author of that book was Pei Zi Yun.
The Governor picked up the book that was included in the file and flipped it open. Looking at the first few paragraphs, he was astounded. After pausing for sometime, he sighed, "The book Pei Zi Yun had written is fantastic. In fact, its quality was so good, scholars should use these materials to prepare for their examinations."
He then said, "At fifteen he became a Top Scholar, wrote a book, composed . The days after would be filled with talks of his name as he rocks the entire kingdom under the heavens."
"It's a pity that he's joined a Dao sect."
The Governor's wife then replied, "Husband, isn't this a good thing? If he didn't join a Dao sect, you would have a hard time trying to get him to serve you, for he would be carving a career on his own. Now, you can get him to become an advisor of yours."
"Advisor? Why should I employ him as an advisor? Could it be that my wife has heard rumors that he's well versed in battle strategies as well?" The Governor said hesitantly.
"Husband, this person is such a gifted man, and he's so young. If you would take him as an advisor, you would find many uses for him. Taking a step back, my husband was so enraged by his current advisors that he smashed the teacup all over the floor. I'm afraid that goes to show how you disagree with their opinions. You should give him a shot, and even if he doesn't live up to expectations, he is still a very talented young man with a bright future that you can find some use for."
Hearing Mistress Du's words, the Governor sank deep into thought. After sometime, he reached out for his wife's hands enthusiastically, "How should I get him to become an advisor of mine then?"
"For someone like this, he would not be willing to become a military advisor. Instead I would ask him to become a Teacher to teach our Pan'er during his free time. He would not be able to reject being a mentor to the Governor's daughter."
This time, it was Mistress Du who was shocked, "You want him to teach Pan'er? Husband, even if you're grateful to him for saving your life and wish to repay him, isn't this slightly overdoing it?"
"Yes, you're right. But after reading his book and seeing how brilliant it is, even if he doesn't produce any other works, he will become a respected scholar that people look to for guidance. In asking him to become our household's teacher, he will be honoured, and our children and even grand-children will gain benefits from this. In fact, I will benefit the most from his presence if he's able to offer military advice."
Hearing her husband's words, Mistress Du paused, before reaching an understanding, "Husband, you are really scheming."