Plundering the Dao of the Immortal Journey Chapter 107
"Does Young Master wish to take a horse-cart?"
Pei Zi Yun walked past a corner and felt the cold spring wind pelt raindrops on his face. Since he was in possession of the Imperial Edict, he didn't feel like walking further. Getting it wet would be extremely unpleasant. At this point, he met the horse-cart driver, who asked him if he wanted a ride. This driver was rather old, and had several wrinkles on his forehead.
He had spotted Pei Zi Yun leave the Grand Princess's Mansion from afar and had observed him, wondering if he would need a horse-cart.
When Pei Zi Yun saw the driver, he smiled. At least he didn't have to wait for a horse-cart to pick him up. He thus hurriedly replied, "Yes, how much would it cost to travel to East Flat Street?"
"Young Master, that would cost 20 coppers. It's a fair price." The horse-cart driver opened his mouth to smile, revealing many missing teeth.
"Sure, here are 20 coppers, take me there." Pei Zi Yun reached into the folds of his robes and took out the money. He then boarded the carriage behind and saw that it had a simple layout and was rather clean. He sat upright. The driver turned around to look at Pei Zi Yun and saw that he was seated and ready to move. He then smiled, "Young Master, it's a rainy day and the weather is still quite cold. I'm wearing such thick clothes and am shivering. Why are you wearing so little?"
Pei ZI yun paused for sometime before laughing, "I'm wearing another layer within my robes."
The driver made a sound to indicate that he was moving off. The cart then started its journey. It was a dark and cold day, and yet there were quite a number of people along the roads. They were walking slowly along the roads. Pei Zi Yun could hear the sound of the wheels splashing across puddles as the raindrops pelted against the tarpaulin of the carriage.
Pei Zi Yun clutched the Imperial Edict close before scrutinizing it.
Imperial Edicts were a rather common form of messages handed down from the Emperor and were mainly divided into five different types. They were to grant a title, an order, a control decree, an ordinary decree to officials, and common messages.
The first type was an order to the masses and was to be spread. It was the highest grade of Imperial Edict. An Imperial Edict like this was only used by the Emperor if he wished to broadcast a message to his entire empire. This edict clearly was not at that level of importance.
The next type of edict was to confer a title upon an official or to grant nobility. An official would only be eligible to receive a title if he were of the fifth rank or higher.
The third type of edict was a regulation or control decree by the Emperor himself.
The fourth type of decree was a normal order given to an official who was lower than the fifth rank but higher than the seventh rank.
The final type of edict was a type of daily message of low importance. It was meant for officials who were lower than the seventh rank.
The different classifiers of Imperial Edicts, they would thus use different materials for the handles of the scroll. The highest grade of Imperial Edict - to inform the masses of an important announcement would use jade for the handles. The next two levels would use black rhinoceros horns. The lowest two levels would use black bull horns.
Since conferring a title upon the sect was of the lower priorities and were thus not very important, the handle of the Imperial Edict was thus made of black bull horns. The paper of the Imperial Edict was made up of silk, and had been dyed red. There was an auspicious crane right on top of the paper and two dragons covered the left and right side of the paper.
When Pei Zi Yun looked at the contents of the Imperial Edict, he realized that the very first sentence was the order by the Emperor, "The Dao Masters of the Free Cloud Sect were effective in their pursuit of Dao Arts and had proven themselves to the Imperial Court by contributing greatly to the people. The Imperial Court has thus decided to confer the title of True Sovereign to the sect."
Right on top, there was the Emperor stamp, and was impossible to miss. This stamp caused Pei Zi Yun to feel that this document was a precious and dignified piece of paper.
"Oh? Am I seeing things?" The rain had been unrelenting in pelting down droplets. All of a sudden, Pei Zi Yun noticed the words written started glowing and illuminated the entire carriage. The red dragon which was drawn on the left side of the edict spiralled and slithered on the page. Pei Zi Yun paused for some time, and looked away. He then looked at the document once more to ascertain if he had indeed seen the dragon moving. His heart was thumping wildly in his chest.
The rain continued assaulting the tarpaulin atop the carriage. Pei Zi Yun noticed that there were curtains draped around the carriage, warding off prying eyes. He then thought to himself, "System!"
A Plum Blossom appeared before his eyes expanding rapidly before turning into an information interface. It was almost transparent as it floated around, bearing with it a faint light perception. A line of words then appeared on the information interface.
"Mission : Establish a big achievement for the sect, become the most outstanding member within the outer sect (Completed)"
Since the mission had been completed, Pei Zi Yun tapped it, and yet it didn't budge. He frowned and thought hard to himself. Could it be that this Imperial Edict had to be delivered to the sect before it could be considered as completed?"
After sometime, Pei Zi yun sighed, "It seems like I have to protect this Imperial Edict and make my way back to Free Cloud Sect."
"We've reached, Young Master!"
After sometime, Pei Zi Yun was awoken by the driver. When he alighted from the carriage, he noticed that the rain had stopped. Before him was Pei Mansion. Spring had arrived and the serving maid had planted a variety of flowers in his yard, making for a splendid sight. When Pei Zi Yun walked in, he saw the pair of maids sweeping his yard. They smiled and stopped what they were doing to receive him.
"Don't worry, carry on with your tasks." Pei Zi Yun said hurriedly.
"Yes, Young Master." The kitchen maid replied. Their lives here were extremely comfortable and they were glad to be here. It was a world of difference where they had been before this. Hence, they made sure to be particularly diligent in their work.
Pei Zi Yun looked at the tree before him and realized that several leaves had started to grow on the twigs. The scar within the earth which resulted from digging for the gold had almost disappeared and could barely be noticed.
Without speaking another word, he walked straight to his room and packed his items. He had not many belongings with him, only some clothes, and thus was done rather quickly. He then heard a knock on the door, it was the kitchen maid, Bai San Chu, who was knocking on his door, "Young Master will you be having dinner tonight? I shall make preparations."
(TN: Bai was her surname and San Chu meant third chef.)
Hearing Bai San Chu's words, Pei Zi Yun thought for sometime. He was about to reply, "There's no need, I'm leaving first thing tomorrow morning."
But he was distracted by the little serving maid cleaning the windows. She was trying to reach the top of the window and had climbed up to get it cleaned. "Ai, do not climb so high up. With the rain it might be slippery and if you fall it could be bad."
The little serving maid turned to look at him, "Young Master, I'm not afraid."
She then started wiping the stains diligently. Seeing her work like this made Pei Zi Yun's heartache. What he had intended to say before this got caught in his throat as he failed to vocalize the words. He thought about the first time he had seen the both of them, and compared that to how they greeted him happily at the entrance.
The lantern festival had long been over. Although there was still the occasional wind and rain, it was gradually becoming warmer. Most students of literature would take this opportunity to leave their houses and walk across green, lushy plains. Or they would carry an umbrella and scale some mountains. Or they would sit on a boat and travel out to the middle of the lake, where they could gain some inspiration for a poem while sipping tea in the middle of the rain. Thinking of these activities made Pei Zi Yun extremely happy.
And yet the normal working class citizens were unable to appreciate such good weather. They were mainly swamped with the amount of chores in order to survive and were up to their necks with their workload. In fact, when the rain comes, they will run away from it and hide under shelters.
The main reason behind this was due to their thin clothing. Should they get caught under the rain, they run the risk of falling ill. Even if they do not die of the flu, buying medication would cost much more than they can afford. The Bai household with his pair of serving maids were extremely poor before they worked for him. Their home was within a narrow alley, where polluted drain water irrigated their homes. Their hair were messy and they didn't have proper clothes to wear.
Pei Zi Yun then paused for some time before saying, "Prepare dinner for me tonight. Make it sumptuous and lavish."
"I understand, Young Master." Bai San Chu, the kitchen maid replied as she started getting busy.
Pei Zi Yun watched their shadows as they departed. He had purchased this house with the sole intention of obtaining the gold that had been hidden. Furthermore he had plans to remain within the city for some time, having a house would be very convenient for him. Now that it was time for him to leave, he didn't know when he would next return to the capital. The wise thing to do was to sell the house and get rid of the pair of serving maids. And yet he could not bear to do that. He knew he was not a mother saint, to extend a hand to everyone in need. And yet why shouldn't he, since he had the means?
Even the granny broker managed to earn a hundred taels of silver from him. What about this diligent pair?
Pei Zi Yun pondered on this matter for sometime. He then swept a glance across the courtyard of his new mansion. After some time, he strolled into the study room and randomly picked out a book to read.
Before long, the young serving maid informed him that dinner was ready. Pei Zi Yun then walked out and saw Bai San Chu arranging the dishes on the table. Seeing Pei Zi Yun enter, she smiled and invited him to take a seat. Pei Zi Yun sat at the head of the table while the young serving maid poured a cup of wine for him. He drained the cup in a gulp and looked at the dishes before him. These were delicious delicacies, not a meal that everyone can afford everyday. He then smiled, "Take a seat, let's dine together."
"Young Master, how can we eat together with you as equals." Bai San Chu immediately rejected the idea politely. Pei Zi Yun however replied calmly, "I have some instructions for you today. Sit down and listen to me."
With such an instruction, Bai San Chu then sat down reluctantly. It was evident that she was extremely uneasy, and yet Pei Zi Yun didn't seem to care. As he ate and drank his wine, he said, "I am preparing to return to Ying Prefecture. I'm afraid the next time I'll be back here might be in a year or two."
"Ka dang!" The little serving maid was shocked, her hands trembled as she dropped a bowl as it shattered into fragments. Her face turned pale white. All these while, Pei Zi Yun had given them clothing, food and a shelter over their heads. The little serving maid had finally thought her life was changing for the better. They didn't expect that it would end this abruptly. Thoughts about where they would go filled their heads.
"Young Master, will you be back?" Bai San Chu was still composed and calm. She scolded her daughter for being careless before asking Pei Zi Yun. He smiled, "I will be back in future, it's just that I will not stay for long."
The little girl's eyes fell upon him. She had lived a life of hardships and poverty. She knew that the words of an outsider would not settle her problems easily.
"Many thanks Young Master for looking after us. We shall move out tomorrow." Bai San Chu spoke in stammers. She was trembling slightly, as her face turned pale. Just as she thought her hard days were over, she had to lose this blessing in her life. She could not bear the thought of losing this good life, and yet she had lost plenty in the past and knew that it could not be helped."
"Do not worry, I have plans. I shall arrange two options for you."
"The first option is that I will keep the house. It's just that I will not return often. You shall help me look after this place, and I might return in a year or two. For looking after my house, I will not deprive you of money." Pei Zi Yun then continued, "I shall give you 30 taels of silver and the both of you can choose any room to live in. The only rule is that you are not to enter my room."
"The next option is that you can follow me back to Ying Prefecture. I have a field mansion there and I need more manpower."
Hearing Pei Zi Yun's words, Bai San Chu Chu and her daughter paused to think for sometime. The young serving maid then plucked up her courage and asked, "Young Master, are you thinking of not returning to the capital city ever again?"
"If the answer is yes, I think mother and I would like to follow you to Ying Prefecture."
"Girl!" Bai San Chu interrupted her immediately.
"Mother, can't you tell, this Young Master pities us, that's why he developed this plan. If he isn't going to come back, how long can we stay in this mansion for before we run dry?"
The young girl spoke, as her face turned a deep shade of red. Pei Zi Yun was stumped. He did not expect this girl to have so much courage. He then asked, "Little girl, what's your name?"
"Bai San Ya."
"San Ya doesn't sound nice. Let's call you Bai Ya from now." Pei Zi Yun spoke as he patted her on her head. He then turned to Bai San Chu, who was biting her lips, "Since that's the case, we shall follow Young Master."
(TN : San Ya meant the third maid, which sounded somewhat derogatory. Bai Ya meant white teeth, which was a huge improvement to her name.)
"That works too. I've already discussed the matter of the house with the granny broker. We can rent out the rest of the rooms. With someone living in the house, it will not turn to ruins as soon. Since you've made up your minds, go and prepare yourselves!"
On that same day, Pei Zi Yun walked out in search for a horse-cart to take them to the pier. Although it was somewhat late, there were still plenty of activity on the pier. From afar, many boats could be seen docking as people came and left the pier.
Just as they was walking, a young boy approached them and asked softly, "Young Master, if you wish to take a boat, our Scenic Merchant's Boat is extremely stable and steady and is the best ride there is."
Just then, another boy from the rival boat rushed over and said, "Who says so? Only my Thousand Glory Boat can boast of being the best ride. Young Master, where do you wish to go? If you decide to take my Thousand Glory Boat, you shall not regret it."
Both the young boys started arguing among themselves.
"I wish to go to Ying Prefecture, I wonder which one among the both of you will be going in that direction? If you are, I shall take your boat." Pei Zi Yun spoke matter of factly.
The boy who was promoting Scenic Merchant's Boat gave a smile, "Young Master, this boat will be the right boat for you. We have a boat taking that route."
"Hm!" The boy from Thousand Glory Boat was unable to provide a route and thus turned around to leave.
"Young Master, after you." The boy thus showed Pei Zi Yun the boat. When they boarded the boat, Pei Zi Yun saw several maps being hung on the walls of the boat. There were several bamboo poles around as well. The boy walked up to the boat captain and said, "Captain, this Young Master wishes to go to Ying Prefecture."
The boy then turned around, "Young Master, how many rooms do you need? If you have servants or large cargo, we can accept them as well. It will all be very affordable."
"Give me the biggest room. I also have a pair of serving maids. Get them a slightly smaller room. I have no other belongings on me." Pei Zi Yun then realized that water transport was becoming an essential part of many people's lives not just within the capital city but everywhere else.
"Good, Young Master." The captain said as he took out a pair of tickets and gave it to Pei Zi Yun, "That would cost 23 taels of silver."
The captain said, smiling. When Pei Zi Yun was walking over, the captain had already seized him up. Based on his clothes, shoes and items, he was a rich man. Clearly, he would be able to afford an inflated fare.