Plundering the Dao of the Immortal Journey Chapter 53
It was early in the morning, and a rooster was clucking and crowing, almost as if to wake up anyone around by saying "Wake up early, wake up early."
Pei Zi Yun woke up and felt his head aching. High Scholar Fu was also elated that Pei Zi Yun was the top scorer and insisted on making him drink. And all those other Elementary Scholars kept offering him toasts, toasts that he could not refuse. Hence he could only drink. When he woke up this morning, his head was hurting.
Someone knocked on the door, and Pei Zi Yun rose up to answer it.
A servant was standing there, his face full of smiles. He was carrying a gift box and evidently had a glib tongue. When he saw Pei Zi Yun he said, "Young master Pei, the master of my house just heard that master Pei had succeeded in becoming a High Scholar and has not made any preparations. This gift box is for you to present to the teacher when you pay your respects later."
This servant said simply as he handed the gift box over.
Pei Zi Yun took a look within and saw that it had contained an inkstone and a painting. These were very suitable gifts and wanted to reject it.
The servant immediately said, "Young master Pei, my master had already prepared an oxcart for you. Young master Pei is a newly promoted High Scholar, and not just any ordinary person. Please accept this small gesture. Even Master Fu has allowed this to pass through."
Pei Zi Yun had initially thought of rejecting, but hearing that High Scholar Fu had accepted, Pei Zi Yun knew that this was an unspoken rule as well. He smiled and accepted it. When he left he saw Chen Jing Chun and Yu Mao Guang and joined up with them. The three of them smiled at each other and exchanged greetings.
"This is?" Pei Zi Yun asked.
"These are the gifts presented by my previous generations. Since some newly made High Scholars are poor, and might not be able to buy gifts when paying their respects. Hence, my previous generation has decided to pay for the gifts."
"It's nothing, just a small gesture."
Pei Zi Yun understood. This was done in order to make friends so that they would be in his debt in future. They got on the oxcart. The ox coachman whistled as they proceeded towards their destination.
Hu Ying Zhen was the Chief Examiner and the director of this examination. Hence, he was the "teacher" to whom all the High Scholars have to pay their respects.
High Scholar Fu had already made preparations to find out where his excellency Hu was residing in. When the oxcart had reached, they found that there were armed soldiers guarding his residence.
Pei Zi Yun got off and his other two companions accompanied him to announce their arrival. When they entered the yard, they found that it was very quiet. Each of the four corners had a pavement leading away from it. Right in the middle sat a well, and slightly further away from it was a huge tank.
They entered the main hall and found Hu Ying Zhen sipping tea. The three of them immediately went up to him to pay their respects and present their gifts.
Hu Ying Zhen looked at Pei Zi Yun and said, "I've read your paper and found that it was absolutely delightful. Your standards are extraordinarily high but you are still so young. As long as you continue to be conscientious, you will become a very successful person in your endeavors. This is why I broke the norm and awarded you first place, did you know?"
Pei Zi Yun was overwhelmed by the favor shown by this man and hurriedly said, "Thank you benefactor for your favor and kindness. This student will remember it for life!"
Private events like these wouldn't last for very long. There was going to be another event to attend in the afternoon. Hu Ying Zhen spoke to Chen Jing Chun and Yu Guang Mao for some time. There were some voices outside as Pei Zi Yun and the other two bade farewell to the Director of Examination.
There was a celebratory event held in the afternoon at the Academic Institution. The new High Scholars were to show their appreciation for the dynasty and it was a big matter.
When the High Scholars arrived at the Academic Institution, they saw the soldiers standing guard in all their splendor. An official led them to the hall, where once again they felt the same solemn feeling. They stood outside and waited.
An announcer raised his voice, "The new High Scholars have arrived, enter the hall!"
The new High Scholars then took a few steps in, and the doors of the great hall opened, revealing a huge signboard that said "Long live the dynasty, long live the dynasty." The signboard was golden in color and there was a flying dragon above it. The dragon was almost a meter long.
The hall gave way to portraits of venerables, some were standing while others were seated. Each of them looked different from the other. The scholars walked in astounded and in awe, gasping at the sight before them. Being able to walk these great halls lined with portraits of literary greats was every student's dream.
"Kowtow once." The announcers said, and all of the scholars knelt down and kowtowed.
They've been successfully declared as the newest batch of High Scholars. They then retreated to the lobby.
"Pay your respects to the examiners!" There were more than one sitting atop the stage. The Chief Examiner, the Assistant Chief Examiner and all the Room Examiners. 33 High Scholars bowed in unison.
Following that, speeches were given. After that was done, the High Scholars started to cheer as they were led into the banquet hall where they were served an abundance of food. Just the smell of such delicious aromas was enough to cause everyone to salivate. The High Scholars were all extremely grateful to be where they were now. After countless of years of studying, they finally had the credentials to become an official. A carp transforming into a dragon.
After sometime, the Chief Examiner smiled and said, "I still remember the year I entered these halls for the first time in my life. I was a young, hot blooded youth. In this life, we all take pride in our accomplishments. Everyone please do not be apprehensive about your futures."
When he was done, he left the stage, all the High Scholars saluted him with cupped fist. The atmosphere was significantly lightened after, people laughed and gave toasts to each other, drinking and soaking in the celebratory mood. There were plenty of laughter, and tears of joy as well.
Pei Zi Yun was the top scorer and was naturally the focus. Many people wanted to talk and toast him. Seeing everyone in such a jovial mood, it brought back memories of his previous life.
Time flew, and even the world he was in today was different.
Just then, a waiter brought some wine to the table. When he passed Pei Zi Yun, he took a good look at him. Pei Zi Yun paused in shock. When he finally regained his composure, that man was already far away, as if he had been discovered. When this man came by, he had something strange about the way he looked.
Shaking his head, Pei Zi Yun drank another cup of wine with another friend.
This man put aside the empty wine jug and turned around into the kitchen. Another man came out from the kitchen and asked, "How was it?"
The person who delivered the wine shook his head and said, "It's impossible for me to ascertain anything here, in the Academic Institution. If you wish for me to be sure, we have to check again, outside, somewhere along the pavement."
When the other person heard this, he left in a hurry.
The celebratory event lasted all the way until the late afternoon. Pei Zi Yun pushed open the doors and exited the Institution. He waved his hands hoping to get an oxcart. The dynasty didn't use sedans, where ordinary people are carried like emperors and empresses.
Pei Zi Yun was slightly tipsy as the cold wind blew right at him, waking him up a little. The oxcart driver helped him up and smiled, "Master, the wind is cold and it seems like it's gonna rain soon. Where do you wanna go?"
Pei Zi Yun paused as he sat down before peering out of the window and saying, "To Fu Mansion. Don't leave without me. I'm going to bid farewell to someone, and then I'll come back to your oxcart, and then we'll go to the pier from there."
The driver happily agreed as the cart start moving. Pei Zi Yun wanted to take a rest and closed his eyes when he abruptly sat up straight and shouted, "Who is it?"
The oxcart driver was shocked and turned around, "Master, what's the matter?"
Pei Zi Yun stared ahead, before turning around to look at his surroundings. On his right, he saw a middle aged Daoist holding a mirror in his direction. He frowned, 'Could Zhang Jie Yu have found out that I was the one who killed Li Wen Jing and have sent men to kill me?'
He touched his sword handle for some reassurance. When he looked at the exact same spot, he saw the Daoist man turning around to leave.
Capital, High Monastery
A servant came in, delivering the news to Zhang Jie Yu that someone had come to speak to him. He was in a melancholic mood and had understood that a Daoist wished to report his latest findings to him.
Zhang Jie Yu frowned, and gave consent while mumbling to himself.
A forty year old Daoist with long hair strode in. This was the man Zhang Jie Yu had sent to investigate Pei Zi Yun. Seeing that he had returned, Zhang Jie Yu creased his eyebrows and asked, "Fellow brother, is this Pei Zi Yun suspicious?"
Having done his check, he replied, "Young master, I've checked up on him personally. Pei Zi Yun does not possess any Dao Arts. I've used the mirror, and he has no skills whatsoever. He shouldn't be the one who killed our advisor."
"I've also checked that, on the day our advisor was murdered, Pei Zi Yun was with his group of Elementary Scholar friends drinking heavily at a restaurant. He then stayed for the night at an inn nearby and did not return to Fu Mansion. He only woke up in the afternoon the next day."
When he heard this report, Zhang Jie Yu paced a few steps and felt that something was not quite right, "This person is highly suspicious. The last time at Silver Dragon temple, he was rescued by someone from the Free Cloud Sect. Fellow brother, please help me check carefully one more time."
"That's right, where is he going to now?"
"After the celebrations, he had already left the capital. He should take the ship down to Dong An Prefecture. Based on the speed of a ship heading downstream, he should reach by tonight." replied the Daoist.
"Eh?" Hearing this Zhang Jie Yu felt an idea light up in his mind. He then thought hard, but could not quite reconcile the idea to anything. He then waved his hand as he dismissed the issue, "Oh right, are you able to get some information from the capital's Daoist Records Officials?"
"Young master, that is going to be very difficult. Think about it, the Daoist Records Officials' jobs are to observe and monitor our sect. Although there are some cultivators who belong to sects working there, the high ranking officials who make big decisions are all rogue cultivators."
"The dynasty closely monitors the activities of anything that happens in this world and in the spiritual realms. There will definitely be information that is useful to us, but we are unable to get our hands on it."
"Yes that's right. But when it comes to things like these, we cannot be soft." Zhang Jie Yu stood up, his eyes were filled with determination as he gazed out through the window, "Our sect has risen to prominence not too long ago, and thus we do not have foundations that are as strong as other sects. If we were to become weak, does that not mean everyone will trample over us?"
"Which is why this matter regarding Li Wen Jing, although is not big, will have a significant impact on us."
The Daoist thought for sometime before saying, "That makes sense."
"Eh, I've got it! Men, bring the map here!" Zhang Jie Yu shouted excitedly. Instantly, a servant came in, bringing the map into the room.
This map was a taboo back in the olden days. But the Daoist just took it out anyway.
"Look!" Zhang Jie Yu waited for the servant to leave the room before he said excitedly. He pointed to the map saying, "What you've said made me realize this. From the capital to Dong An Prefecture, the river flows downward and it takes only a day."
"And Li Wen Jing's house is closer by at least 1 kilometer."
"If someone were to take a ship down, would he not have time to kill Li Wen Jing and then rush back that same night?"
The Daoist was shocked too and said, "Young master, you have a point and it's very possible. But the person who murdered Li Wen Jing was skillful. Li Wen Jing's spirit did not even get a glimpse of him before he died."
Zhang Jie Yu laughed, "Now that we've settled the issue of timing, that isn't difficult. Even if Pei Zi Yun does not have any Dao skills on him, all he needs is a magical weapon in order to kill him."
"What this means is that Pei Zi Yun's relation to Free Cloud Sect runs deep. This magical weapon is not anything out of the ordinary, and cannot be obtained easily as well." The Daoist man frowned.
"As for this, we will talk about it next time. No matter what, we shall chase this lead. Are you able to manipulate the officials patrolling by the river into giving us information?"
"Young master, Luo Gang wields a significant amount of power over the river. We can check if the ship had ferried this person."
"As for the river patrol, young master, you know that all the sects do not have a good relationships with the officials. Our sect is no exception."
"The effect of the Imperial Qi will cause them to be unable to rise up in ranks. Only those who do not wish to rise up in rank, or have no chance of rising in ranks would dare to be friendly with us."
"But we still do know some people, and can give it a shot."
"Then check it out." Zhang Jie Yu said in a firm voice.