Chapter 88: Murder
Translator: Translation Nation Editor: - -
It was early in the morning of the next day, the keeper of the relay station was cleaning up the rooms and was shocked to see a mess. He raised an eyebrow and looked at Pei Zi Yun, who forced a smile, "I was practicing my sword techniques last night and accidentally knocked over some furniture. This 3 taels of silver should cover the costs of replacing the furniture. You can keep the remainder."
The keeper looked at the silver in his hands and was shocked. There were a couple of broken chairs and tables but they didn't cost so much. He laughed, "Thank you master Top Scorer for the additional money."
He then ushered Pei Zi Yun out. The clouds were overcast the night before and had drizzled slightly. Soon after, it started snowing. When they reached the landing of the staircase, they saw Liao Ge standing at the door, looking out to a patch of white snow.
Pei Zi Yun walked over and Liao Ge said, "Look at the weather master Top Scorer. It will snow heavily later in the day. I've already prepared woven raincoats for us. We should all drape it over ourselves later."
"This is the first time I'm travelling on such a long journey, and I shall follow your lead, your excellency." Pei Zi Yun obviously kept silent about the original owner and how he had undertaken journeys as long as this. The group then left the relay station, where they reached the ferry crossing not long after. They boarded a boat to cross the river.
Not long after the four of them had got on the boat, a large wind started howling and snowflakes started pouring down on them. Ripples were formed on the surface of the river as the snowflakes descended.
Liao Ge draped on the wool raincoat and went out to talk to Pei Zi Yun by the deck. They admired the scenery as they cruised down the river. The sound of snowflakes dropping onto the boat and their raincoats could be heard. Liao Ge laughed, "The view before us is magnificent and so breathtaking that it moves me."
Pei Zi Yun nodded his head, "With such a scenery before us, it inspires me to compose a poem. If only there was wine here, it would be perfect to recite a poem now."
Liao Ge laughed once more, "Haha master Top Scorer, some people have given you a nickname. They call you the Wine Immortal. This trip out, I didn't bring any wine, if not we would have some good poems to enjoy."
"It's indeed a pity that there's no wine now." Pei Zi Yun looked across the river and sighed.
Everything was still and quiet for sometime. A gust of north western wind interrupted the silence and blew the snow in a single direction. Liao Ge then said, "Actually I am very envious of master Top Scorer. I am forty-three years old this year, and took the better half of my career to be an official. This path that I took was a difficult one. I wanted to thank master Top Scorer for the opportunity to travel to the capital. For it was because of this trip that I got promoted as well."
Pei Zi Yun gazed into the distance, "This is your fate, and I did not do anything. Besides, if you weren't intelligent and capable, I believe the Governor would not have picked you anyway."
Liao Ge replied, "Master Top Scorer, I actually wanted to take this opportunity to talk to you about giving you my daughter's hand in marriage. But master Top Scorer won't even let me finish telling him of my appreciation."
Pei Zi Yun paused, and spoke regretfully, "There's someone I have in my heart, but I thank you for your love."
Liao Ge heard this and was taken aback before laughing loudly, "Master Top Scorer, my daughter is only four years old. I was only pulling your leg, I hope you didn't take offense."
Pei Zi Yun was taken aback by this as well.
Liao Ge then forced a laugh, "I was not born nobly, and thus it took me a great deal of hard work before I ended up where I am today. In fact, I am very lucky to be an official. In the previous dynasty, I would not be able to become an official with such a low birth."
"When I was in my twenties, I found myself a woman. I had no other ambitions except to become a 9th rank official. Then I can give my daughter a status so that she can marry into a good family."
"The only reason I can become a 9th rank official was because of this trip and thus I have to thank you."
Pei Zi Yun then understood. This world was very particular about people marrying into families of same statuses. After Liao Ge had been promoted, his daughter could thus marry into a better family than before. Seeing him smiling in contentment, Pei Zi Yun felt a sense of pity for this dutiful father.
There were shadows behind the dense reeds near the bank of the river. A group of people murmuring could be heard. They all had knives on them and wore woven clothes. They had leaves and grasses all over their clothes, ensuring that they could blend into their surroundings. Their camouflage was done extremely well for it was hard to tell if they were actually people or really tall reeds. They had looks of anger and killing intent etched across all their faces.
The snow was still falling, dropping down onto their bodies. White flakes could be seen on their woven clothes as well. Amongst these people, there was a young lady who was holding onto her father's hand. This pair of father and daughter were the same people Pei Zi Yun had seen in the dining hall of the relay station, having cold buns.
There was a table placed right in the middle of the reeds. Perched on the table was a chicken and many bowls of wine. Someone handled the chicken roughly before taking a knife and running it across the neck of the chicken. He then dripped the blood into each and every bowl of wine.
The father who was still holding onto his daughter raised his bowl of wine and walked in front of all the people. He then shouted loudly, "Today, we shall have revenge on the people who caused the deaths of so many from Wealth County. We shall kill these two men. The only problem is that one of them is an official, and the other is a High Scholar. Once we kill them, there's no turning back for us. This bowl of blood wine before us shall show how we are bound together. Let's all empty it."
Everyone then raised their bowls. Someone started crying, "Brother Ji, my entire family of seven had been killed by the pirates, who then fled to the sea. Let's kill off these two traitors, who collaborated with the pirates. These two dog officials. Let's kill them."
"You are right. And then there's still Hou Mansion to settle. After we kill these two dog officials, we can go and handle the people at Hou Mansion."
Hearing everyone started bursting into discussion, the young lady forced her way to the table where she took a bowl of blood wine as well. Seeing this, her father was shocked, "Guo'er, what are you doing?"
The young lady had a stubborn look on her face and stepped forward, "Father, since you've drank the blood wine, I shall drink it too. Mother was killed by these pirates and I have a feud with these bandits too. Today, I shall swear a blood oath along with all of you, that I shall have revenge on these pirates. Although I am a woman, I shall do my part."
Hearing this lady speak like this, everyone in the crowd fell to silence. Who did not have a feud with these pirates?
A burly man beside her father then spoke up, "Guo'er, since you have such intentions, how can we refuse? Brother you should be proud of Guo'er. It's just that Guo'er is young and thus doesn't have strength to wield a blade. Besides, killing is not for you."
"Uncle Chen!" The girl shouted defiantly. Hearing her shouting so indignantly, the burly man laughed, "Today we shall kill that dog official and the High Scholar. After that, young girl, you can help me bury these two dog officials. That's how you can play a part in this as well."
"Thank you uncle Chen!" Smiled the young girl.
"Bottoms up, for the lives who had been lost to because of these two thugs!" This big brother Ji shouted ferociously.
"Bottoms up, for our families who had lost their lives." Everyone else shouted before they drained their bowls. After they had finished, they threw their bowls to the ground as it shattered into fragments. The sound of bowls breaking could be heard for afar, as fragments flew all over the place.
The young girl choked several times while drinking, but forced herself to finish the bowl of blood wine. She then imitated her elders, and threw her bowl down. However, it didn't break. She had to pick it up and throw it down with all her might another time before it smashed.
Her father then patted her on the head, "Guo'er, go and hide in the reeds later and do not come out. Father and your uncles will go and kill these thugs who were in cahoots with the pirates."
"Yes father. As long as you come back home safe. Mother has fallen to the bandits, I cannot do without a father." Hearing Guo'er's words, her father raised his face to the heavens, where snow mixed in with his tears.
After sometime, her father then lowered his gaze, "Guo'er go and hide behind the grass now. We are leaving. No matter what, do not come out."
After saying this, big brother Ji then hardened his face before wiping it with his sleeve, "Brothers, follow me, let's go!"
Snow and rain continued descending, as Pei Zi Yun entered the cabin of the boat. The four of them had been sitting around a fire, cooking meat. Although the scenery was amazing, it was very cold.
Just as they were chatting, they felt the boat knock into something. There was a splash, and nothing else could be heard.
"Boatman? Boatman?" A soldier started calling. He walked outside and saw that the deck was empty. All that he could see were ripples followed by bubbles on the surface. This soldier was a seasoned war veteran and knew something was wrong. He then shouted, "Not good, we are under ambush."
Hearing his shouts, followed by a rapping sound at the bottom of the boat, the other soldier inside the cabin's face fell. He then shouted loudly, "Your excellency, the boatman is trying to create a hole in the boat. He wants to drown us in this river."
"Quick, row the boat to the river bank." Liao Ge was shocked as well as he shouted loudly.
"Yes, your excellency." The soldier was extremely swift. Once the order had been issued he quickly thought of a way to row the boat and started getting to work.
"Master Top Scorer, what do you think we should do?" Liao Ge's face was ashen.
Pei Zi Yun's face was frozen from the cold. Only just yesterday he was almost killed. Today, someone else is trying to kill him aboard this boat. He heard the sound of the rapping beneath the boat continuing. Before long, there was a small hole at the bottom of the boat and water was entering rapidly.
Pei Zi Yun's eyes emanated a sort of determination as he pulled out his sword. He touched the blade before replying coldly, "Naturally, we will send him to hell."
As he said this, he went to the hole in the boat and stabbed in that direction. He felt the blade pierce through flesh, like it was beancurd. When he pulled the blade back out, it was bloody.
At the bank of the river, the people standing within the reeds were watching the boat. In a soft voice, someone muttered, "Fifth brother can swim well and is good underwater. As long as he manages to sink the boat, these dog officials will have to swim back to shore. When they do, they would have exhausted all their energy. Who knows, maybe they can't swim and fifth brother would have drowned them. Then, our revenge will have been exacted."
"Big brother, look. Some of the men are rowing the boat. It looks like a hole has been made." A burly man exclaimed. It was very obvious that the boat was sinking.
Pei Zi Yun exited the cabin and looked at the boat. He frowned. The boat was about 60 metres away from the river bank and it was covered with reeds. He was unable to get a good look and see if there's an ambush hiding within the reeds. He then shouted, "The boatman has already been killed. Let's use some cloth and seaweed from the surface of the water to stem the flow of water. We will continue rowing to the shore, where we will be safe then."
"Yes, master Top Scorer."
The people behind the reeds continued watching for afar and furrowed their brows. The boat was moving towards them. Why wasn't it sinking? Unless fifth brother failed?
They watched on as the boat inched nearer and nearer to them. Pei Zi Yun gazed into the reeds and laughed. He took off the long robe he was wearing as it hindered his movements. Beneath his robe was his leather armor.
Liao Ge was shocked, "Does master Top Scorer really wish to go and murder those thugs?"
Pei Zi Yun continued gazing into the thick, dense reeds. He then pulled out his sword, "The boat has been sabotaged and it won't be much longer before it sinks. We have to row it closer to the shore where it's not very deep near the bank. We will be alright then."
"However these reeds are dense and I'm afraid there might be an ambush within. I shall go down and take a look, the both of you protect his excellency Ge." Pei Zi Yun ordered before jumping off the boat, and landing into the reeds.
The snow and rain was extremely cold. Some of the people behind the reeds do not have any martial arts skills. Seeing someone jump off the boat, they shouted, "Brothers, come with me. Let's kill him!"
Hearing their big brother's words, a group of people held their blades up and came out from behind the reeds and rushed towards Pei Zi Yun.