Chapter 87: Relay Station
Translator: Translation Nation Editor: - -
The capital city was some distance away from the prefecture city, and they rode on a mule carriage. They were supposed to indicate outside the carriage that the passengers on board were officials. However, Pei Zi Yun didn't want to attract unnecessary attention. Hence, they didn't make any special arrangements. He said, "This is better as it won't stand out and draw attention."
Liao Ge listened to him as well, and they both dressed in normal civilian robes. A pair of soldiers accompanying them dressed up as carriage drivers and were controlling the mules. They all brought along their swords, but concealed them. They were crossing a mountainous county, and the road was treacherous. Pei Zi Yun placed down the book he was holding, as if deep in thought.
This book was the result of hard work by Liao Ge and was a very detailed compilation of Free Cloud Sect matters. It even included exactly when the first title had been conferred to the leader of Green Cloud Monastery, details about the reasons for conferring the title, the official who arranged for the ceremony and even the date of the actual ceremony. All these had been prepared to facilitate the process of receiving a second title.
This Liao Ge was indeed talented. It's a pity he wasn't very high ranked, being stuck at the 9th rank. The road ahead was a long one, and Pei Zi Yun wondered what laid in store ahead.
Pei Zi Yun started to finger the soft armor he was wearing. He recalled how Yu Yu Jun and brought the magical items to him. They were a sword and the soft armor he was currently wearing. These were undoubtedly items to be used in times of mortal peril.
The soldiers in front pulled on the rope and the mules gradually pulled to a stop. The soldiers then hurriedly got off before rushing to the side of the carriage. They pulled apart the curtains, "Your excellency, we've reached a soldier relay station. It's getting late and I doubt we should continue. Let's rest here for the night."
Liao Ge pulled drew his side of the curtains to look out. Snow covered the ground, and glistened under the faint moonlight. It was indeed rather late at night. Liao Ge asked, "Master Top Scorer, what do you think?"
Pei Zi Yun smiled and replied, "That's up to your excellency to decide."
Liao Ge descended from the carriage and the both of them walked alongside each other toward the soldier relay station. The guard standing outside the station asked, "How many of you wish to lodge here? Do you have any papers declaring yourselves to be military men or officials?"
Liao Ge pulled Pei Zi Yun to the side and explained to him, "Master Top Scorer, most of the people lodging here are discharged soldiers. The imperial court has decreed that officials are allowed to stay within the quarters of the relay station. However, any accompanying members would have to pay."
Seeing that Pei Zi Yun understood, Liao Ge then handed over his identification documents for the guard to look. The guard bowed, "Your excellency, please enter."
Liao Ge led Pei Zi Yun into the station. It was well furnished and looked very new. The guard who was leading them laughed, "Your excellency, I shall feed your mule well."
The four of them entered the main hall. One glance across revealed several patrons around. There were about seven or eight people, and they were drinking wine and chatting merrily although in a slightly tipsy state. They did not pay much attention to the new group of people who had just entered.
Since the establishment of the new dynasty, there were very few motels around travelling routes. Since there was a relay station nearby, and it was guarded too, Pei Zi Yun felt that it was a safe choice.
The guard led the rest of them to register for their rooms, before showing them to their living quarters. When all this was settled, the guard smiled and said, "Your excellencies, the dining hall below is used for meals and you can all head down as and when you prefer. If you need anything, please call on the serving staff."
Liao Ge nodded his head enthusiastically and politely. It was clear that he was a good natured man who didn't want to cause a fuss for the guards. However, he wasn't a high ranking official, and thus didn't want to incur any costs for himself. Pei Zi Yun smiled, "Feed my mules well. And bring up some good food for me."
He then retrieved a piece of silver and tossed it over. The guard caught it and looked down hard at the piece of silver in his hands. It was about 3 taels worth. Grinning from ear to ear, the guard bowed deeply, "Yes, your excellency!"
Although the officials and his guests would be entitled to free food, they had a limited quota and it was rather troublesome. Giving a little silver would simplify everything. Furthermore it made the guard happy, which might prove to be useful in future.
The few of them went downstairs and sat within the dining hall. They looked to the table beside them and saw a big man and a lady. Pei Zi Yun gazed at them. They were eating free bread and drinking tea.
This lady had pretty features and a nice set of white teeth. However, she looked somewhat malnourished and was quite thin. Pei Zi Yun felt that she looked rather familiar, and tried to recall where he had seen her before, but couldn't quite remember.
In the corner of the dining room, there was another lady sitting alone. This lady was wearing a woven, dark colored robe and a dark green skirt. She was glancing around the room as if looking for someone.
When Pei Zi Yun and Liao Ge sat down, the lady approached them, "Oh, it's Top Scorer Pei, how do you do."
Within the hall of the relay station, several people turned their heads over to look at them. Liao Ge was stroking his beard and was smiling, "Master Top Scorer is a famous young man. Even while we're at the soldier relay station he can meet an admirer of his, one can't help but envy him."
"Your excellency has humor. I am Luo Gu Qiu. Master Top Scorer's poems have caused an uproar around the entire region, and caused many to be envious of him. Master Top Scorer, can I have a word with you in private?"
A lady stranger coming up to him while they're travelling didn't seem right to him. Pei Zi Yun was rather suspicious. Furthermore this lady had identified him and caused him some shock. However, this was afterall a military relay point. Furthermore he had Dao Arts and fighting techniques, and thus wasn't afraid, although he was hesitant. Liao Ge smiled, "Master Top Scorer, a beautiful lady wants to talk, why not?"
Pei Zi Yun smiled and followed Luo Gu Qiu. Luo Gu Qiu poured him a cup of tea. Pei Zi Yun looked at the cup of tea before looking up at her, "Who are you? This relay station is in the middle of nowhere, and you are here alone. I find it hard to believe you're an admirer of my work. In fact, chances are higher that you're demon or sorceress."
The lady looked unperturbed and laughed sharply, "Thank you for the compliment, as indeed I am a sorceress. I wonder if Maste Top Scorer wishes to see what I'm capable of."
Pei Zi Yun scrutinized her before saying coldly, "What do you want?"
The sorceress laughed before saying, "Master Top Scorer, let's stop teasing each other. The reason I'm here today is because I have something of utmost important to speak to you about. You should know that a bounty has been placed on your head. And a big reward will be issued for the person who kills you."
Pei Zi Yun laughed coldly, "What a load of bullshit. I am a High Scholar, who would dare?"
With an expression of confidence and severity, Luo Gu Qiu paused, before picking up the cup on the table and twirling it in her hands. She then laughed too, looking at Pei Zi Yun, "So what if you're a High Scholar? The magistrate of East Tang County, Chen Yun Zhi offended someone powerful. He fell sick and died soon after. Zhou Prefecture's High Scholar Song Yong wrote a letter about his suspicions to the imperial court. While he was on the road, he met with a band out outlaws and they slaughtered all 12 of his family members. It's very common that scholars and even officials die by sickness or die to bandits and outlaws along their journey."
Pei Zi Yun heard this and his heart sank. Although he had not heard any news about these events she spoke off, it was clear that she was threatening him. In a cold tone, he replied, "Is this a threat? You should know that there's a deity watching over our deeds."
Luo Gu Qiu laughed hysterically, "The empire is vast, and it's hard for the deity to be be watching everyone and everywhere. What's more important is the presence of Yin and Yang. Although we can communicate with the Crone Deity, who's on this secular world. The higher the Deities are, the harder it will be to communicate with them. If not, the deceased wise Emperors from the past would constantly be advising the current Emperor and telling him what to do. In that case, who would be able to change their own destinies?"
These words were deep and shocked Pei Zi Yun. She then said, "Even if the issue of communication was a non factor, as long as the crime is committed in somewhere rural and deserted, and the methods involved are not spiritual, the deities would not intervene. The examples I told you off previously testify to that. However if Master Top Scorer would help me kill off someone, I will help you kill the person who's trying to do you in."
Pei Zi Yun looked at her and said plainly, "Using a lion to combat a wolf. That's very smart of you. Since someone is out to kill me, I shall kill him when he makes his move. If you are so sincere, you should kill him for me first, and then we'll discuss this topic again when it's done."
"You!" Lu Gu Qiu glared menacingly at Pei Zi Yun before turning around. Pei Zi Yun laughed before returning to his seat. Liao Ge asked enthusiastically, "Master Top Scorer, even in a place like this you managed to find yourself an admirer. I wonder what you were talking about."
The pair of soldiers sitting at the table next to them were casting him grins and smiles as well.
Seeing the three of them acting like this, he smiled and replied, "It's nothing. She just asked me to recite a poem for her but I refused. She then stomped off after."
Hearing Pei Zi Yun's words, Ge Liao nodded his head, "Master Top Scorer is a renowned poet, and a single word is worth a thousand silver, how can he compose poems as and when someone demands. You did the right thing."
With money, there will be status. The food that came was very sumptuous and the four of them ate hungrily and drank wine to their satisfaction. When they had finished, they returned upstairs to sleep.
It was late in the night and the sky was laden with clouds. Pei Zi Yun was in his room, reading a book by the candles. A sudden gust of wind opened the windows, and extinguished the candles.
Pei Zi Yun frowned. He walked over to close the windows when he felt an inexplicable coldness take over him. He realized that this wasn't any other cold wind. Rather, it was the presence of Yin. Just as he was perplexed by this, a pair of white hands with long and sharp fingernails extended towards him, causing him to jump in shock. Pei Zi Yun backed away deftly from the hands, "What Magic Arts is this? Are there demons?"
Pei Zi Yun laughed and drew his sword. Just as he was about to kill whoever's behind this, he heard the sound of a spear rustling towards him, and a shocked scream rang out from the room.
Pei Zi Yun's blood rushed into his head as he dashed forward ferociously. He felt an intense pain on the left side of his back. There were two of them. He pointed a finger and a bright light appeared.
The ray of light was clear and bright. When it glowed, both these demons stumbled a few steps back. Pei Zi Yun got a good look at them. Between the two of them, one was a strange looking demon, who was carrying a large mace. The other looked like a young girl.
Pei Zi Yun raised his sword and charged towards the monstrous looking demon. The mace and sword collided into each other with a defeating sound. Sparks burst forth from the weapons as a hole formed at the head of the maze.
The monster then said, "This is strange. That's a magical weapon!"
Pei Zi Yun was astonished, 'What? This monster can even talk and react to stimulus and is self-aware of what's happening. It must be a Grass Deity.'
Grass Deities were deities who had not officially been conferred a title by the imperial court. In reality, these Grass Deities were created and reared by people. With this thought in mind, Pei Zi Yun squinted and he felt a gust of Yin energy coming from behind.
"Useless skills." Pei Zi Yun gave a cold harrumph. At first, he had been caught unprepared and thus could not make the best of their clash. Now, with a flash of the sword, he turned around and brought the blade down upon the girl with sharp claws. She tried to evade the blow, but it caught her full on the neck, where she was decapitated. With a bang, she vanished into smoke.
Following that, he raised his sword once more, and brought the wrath of the sword upon the monster lurking in front of him.
A few rooms away, Luo Gu Qiu had finished a painting, it was marred by the color red. She had ignited a candle and was chanting incantation. Suddenly, she started throwing up blood, "This is bad, this person was able to defeat my Soul Attaching Technique. Senior Brother, take me out of here."
There was a man seated across Luo Gu Qiu. Hearing his junior sister saying this, he panicked and started muttering incantations to help her overpower Pei Zi Yun. After sometime, he shouted, "Hurry, retreat!"
Within the room, Pei Zi Yun could hear a gust of Yin wind gathering and approaching him. He stepped out of the way and evaded the wind. The Grass Deity immediately transformed into Yin energy, and shot out of the window.
Pei Zi Yun gave a cold harrumph and pointed his finger in the direction of the Yin energy. A glow of white light shot out from his fingertips with a bang. It connected with the cloud of Yin energy and a shout could be heard. It then dissipated into the night sky.
"Could it be that Luo Gu Qiu was the one behind this?" Pei Zi Yun thought to himself as he sheathed his sword and jumped out of the window. He then looked around before running back up to the rooms.
He pushed open the door, and saw that several candles were still being lit. There was nobody around, and a puddle of blood was on the floor, "It really is her!"
Seeing that the night was deep, Pei Zi Yun wanted to chase after them, but held himself back, "This is the military relay station, and there are several soldiers patrolling the area. I can't attack anyone openly."
"If I were to chase after them, I would have to attack them, which might cause problems if the soldiers were to see."
"Since something like this has happened, I better start being on my guard from now on." Pei Zi Yun thought to himself. There was some movement behind him as he spun around. Someone asked, "Who is it?"
He then hurriedly retreated to his room.