Plundering the Dao of the Immortal Journey Chapter 72
Start of Winter, Rainy Day
Pei Zi Yun sat before the window, listening to the drizzling rain beat down on his window. Once upon a time he was a youth who had risked his life, back in Snail Village, to kill off the bandits who were threatening his childhood sweetheart. And now, he had already become a Top Scorer and was a High Scholar. Furthermore, he had managed to gain entry into a sect.
'Ye Su'er, where are you now?'
Pei Zi Yun gazed outside his window, still deep in thought as he sighed. Apart from the first day of lessons at the Academic Institution, the attendance for the remaining days were very low. Everyone felt that these lessons were a waste of time.
And yet Pei Zi Yun attended religiously, learning a significant bit from the teaching official.
"During ancient times, their statuses were very straightforward. There was a monarch, a father and a son. These ranks were established very clearly. And so the rewards of harvests or hunts would be distributed in accordance to these ranks."
"And now, the statuses were still the same. There was a monarch, a father and sons as well. And the rewards of harvests or hunts were still distributed according to their seniority. However, the difference was that in the past, these rules were written and cast in stone. Now, these rules were just unspoken rules that people still follow, but were not obliged to follow. Although this was a small step forward, it was still a step."
"It can't be said that there was no improvements, and yet it can't be said that a big change took place."
"If it can be summarized in an analogy, it would be that, meat was still being consumed now as it was in the past, it's just that the way it's being consumed is more presentable."
Pei Zi Yun was aware of the benefits he had gained just by staying in the Fu Mansion. He woke up early every morning at 06:45 am, before washing up and combing his hair. He would then have breakfast before starting to read and study the book of classics.
In the afternoon, after having his lunch he would study once more before having an hour of cultivation. Since he was at the stage of cultivating inner strength, it was completely reliant on his metabolism rates. Pushing too hard would have negative consequences.
During the night, he would study once again before retiring to bed.
Without realizing it, half a month had came and gone. It was now the start of November, the second day after the conclusion of the lessons. Chen Jin Chun and Yu Guang Mao dropped by to visit, and invited Pei Zi Yun out to have some fun. Pei Zi Yun did not decline them and agreed readily.
The little girl Chu Xia had wanted to follow them out to have fun, but was chided by High Scholar Fu. This world held a rather conservative stance, and wasn't like the world he came from, where ladies could roam freely.
Having been berated by High Scholar Fu, the little girl pouted as tears started to well up in her eyes as she hid in her room.
When Pei Zi Yun returned, the little girl would always give a cold "hmph" whenever she walked past, and ignoring Pei Zi Yun completely. It was as if she felt that it was his fault, and that she would not have gotten scolded, were it not for him.
The few days where Pei Zi Yun didn't need to accompany and play with the little girl, he remained cooped up in his room studying.
"In order to succeed, I would need to wield enough influence. The people in this world are able to appreciate good poetry, and poets would always recite poems in order to make friends all around. Thankfully I failed in my stockbroking endeavors back in my previous world, which left me with too much free time. I remember using this free time to read up on old chinese poems, which I would now be able to use whenever I deem fit."
"When there's strength, there will be respect."
"In this world, the sects possesses immense strength, which was why they are able to demand for a share of the rewards. Doing a service to the imperial courts would be my chance to take advantage of this."
Pei Zi Yun opened the window and a gust of wind blew in, leaving him comfortable and satisfied. Ever since he had been dispatched to this world, he barely had anytime to relax and rest. There was always a critical moment to take advantage of, and he was forced to constantly be on his toes. Knowing that time waits for no man, he had to be swift and decisive about his actions.
While he was deep in thought, someone knocked on the door, "Young master Pei, the third master of Hou Mansion has sent you an invitation, and requests for your presence for a lunch banquet tomorrow."
Pei Zi Yun opened the door and saw a servant holding onto an invitation slip. Pei Zi Yun opened it and smiled, "I shall attend the banquet."
The next day, an ox-cart dispatched from the Hou Mansion had arrived and was waiting outside Fu Mansion for Pei Zi Yun. When Pei Zi Yun reached outside, he realized that there were two ox-carts, one for himself and one for High Scholar Fu. They thus boarded their own ox-carts. Pei Zi Yun noticed that his designated seat was right at the back, and a table was placed before him. A serving maid announced her presence and mentioned that she was here to serve him. She then took out a silver bottle, before pouring the contents out into a cup. It was a warm cup of rice wine.
Pei Zi Yun lifted the cup to his lips as he sipped on it, feeling extremely pampered and comfortable. He was thinking how luxurious life must've been for the Hou family. The journey to Hou Mansion was calm and uneventful. The minute they reached the entrance, a servant opened the door to the ox-cart and asked, "Top Scorer Pei? Young master is waiting for you."
Hearing him speak, Pei Zi Yun cast a glance around his surroundings and noticed that High Scholar Fu had not arrived. He then decided to proceed without waiting, "Lead the way."
The servant showed Pei Zi Yun in, as they crossed the courtyard. The courtyard itself was gigantic. There were flowers and trees growing in a neat fashion all around the yard. He noticed that several huge tea trees were growing by the corner as well, with a fence blocking access to the trees. It was an extremely peaceful sight.
The servant then led Pei Zi Yun to a door, where he knocked gently, "Young master, Top Scorer Pei is here."
"Brother Pei, please come in." Wei Ang's voice could be heard from within the room.
Pei ZI Yun pushed the door open to see Wei Ang immersed in his tea preparation. He held a tiny fan in his hands, fanning the heat of the stove as the tea was boiling. Pei Zi Yun cast a glance at his new surroundings and noticed that the entire room was themed with bamboo made objects. This included the tables, the chairs and bed. On the wall were several paintings and poems, all written and drawn by Wei Ang himself.
As soon as Pei Zi Yun finished observing his surroundings, Wei Ang's tea was ready. He picked up several teacups, and started pouring the tea into the teacups carefully. He looked up and saw Pei Zi Yun still standing and beckoned for him to seat, "Junior brother Pei, please take a seat. And have some tea. Tell me how my tea brewing is."
Wei Ang pushed a teacup over to Pei Zi Yun as he took a seat on the bamboo chair. He retrieved the teacup before sniffing it. The sweet aroma of tea engulfed his senses. For some reason, the fragrance of the tea reminded him of his previous world, and he felt strangely nostalgic.
"Senior brother's tea brewing methods are amazing. If I were to drink a cup of this everyday, I would live another 10 years longer." Pei Zi Yun laughed as he spoke.
"Ha ha, brother Pei you're just praising me to be polite. My tea brewing techniques have yet to reach my desired level. Next time I shall bring you to a teahouse. Anyway, sitting here drinking tea is very uninteresting. Come, let me show you around." Wei Ang laughed as he led the way, showing Pei Zi Yun out of the room.
Before they could get very far, a samurai warrior walked past them hurriedly. Pei Zi Yun glanced at him. It seems like samurai warriors existed in this world as well. Although it was particularly strange as many samurai warriors had caused problems for the An Prefecture. Unable to shake the weird feeling he got, he asked, "Brother Wei, why would there be a samurai warrior here?"
Wei Ang laughed, "There's no need to feel suspicious. My father took him in a long time ago during the chaotic wars. After peace came upon our dynasty, this samurai warrior had nowhere to go. My father showed magnanimity towards him, and didn't order him to change his customs and uniform. He's been here since, taking orders from my father."
Seeing the samurai warrior, Pei Zi Yun had some thoughts but did not vocalize them. The Hou Mansion was huge, and while they were walking, Pei Zi Yun noticed that the yard was divided into several sections, each with different variety of flowers and special looking stones.
After walking for some time, there was a bend where an entrance was located at the end of it. Once they crossed the entrance, Pei Zi Yun saw a little lake before him. There was an island in the middle of the lake, and in the middle of that island was a pavilion.
Wei Ang was in front, still leading the way. He walked across a tiny bridge from the bank of the lank to the island. This island was very small, and was about 7 meters in length. There were several weeping willows planted around the island and made for a serene feel. The both of them sat down and were speaking to each other when a serving maid ran over, "Master, master! The banquet is about to begin, I have been ordered by the butler to look for you and bring you there."
Wei Ang didn't pay much attention to the serving maid. He laughed and said, "Oh the banquet is starting soon? Sure, I shall go over with brother Pei."
He then stood up, and turned around to face Pei Zi Yun, "Brother Pei, I had originally wanted to show you more of the Hou Mansion. It looks like we can only do it next time."
"That's a small matter. Let's go for the banquet." Pei Zi Yun smiled.
"Young master, Top Scorer, let's hurry up. Mr Shen and the butler are anxiously looking for you." The serving maid said frantically.
Before long, the three of them had reached the venue of the banquet. The butler hurried ran up to them, "Ai, third young master. The banquet is starting now, and you disappeared for so long. Remember you promised Master Hou that you would be present for this banquet. Mr Shen is waiting for you, and prompted us to find you several times now."
Wei Ang heard the butler's word and said calmly, "No matter, I am here now. I was showing brother Pei the backyard. Let's go in now."
As he finished speaking, he flicked his sleeves and strolled into the venue.
"This way, Top Scorer Pei, in here." The butler led Pei Zi Yun into the main hall, where there were many tables within. Pei ZI Yun realized that there were plenty of well known High Scholars and reputable poets present at the banquets, talking and laughing with one another.
Wei Ang walked in first and was greeted by Shen Zhi. He said in hushed tone, "Third young master, we had been waiting for you. Later you will have to open the banquet, do not get stage fright!"
"It's just a mere banquet, what's so frightening about that." Wei Ang replied under his breath.
Wei Ang then walked up to organizers' table and said loudly, "Everyone, I've always been an admirer of literary works. Hence, my father decided to host a literary banquet, and invited all of you esteemed people here. Please, feel free to discuss anything literature related."
"Of course, with literature, there will always have to be wine. So let's start off by draining our first cup."
Hearing Wei Ang's opening speech, everyone raised their glasses and finished them in unison.
Literary banquets were a huge part of being a High Scholar. Many noble families often host banquets like these and invite the most reputable scholars throughout the nation. These High Scholars were the future officials of the county, and it would always be good to have friends in these positions. So in future, when the nobilities require assistance, they could always ask their official friends to help intervene.
Just at Wei Ang was speaking, Pei Zi Yun noticed there was a vacant seat beside High Scholar Fu. He was seated with Chen Jin Chun and Yu Guang Mao at the same table. Pei Zi Yun walked over and exchanged greetings before settling down onto the vacant seat.
High Scholar Fu whispered, "Where have you been? The minute I came I didn't see you and thought you met with some accident along the way."
Pei Zi Yun then replied him, whispering as well, "Brother Wei invited me to drink a cup of tea and was thus delayed as a result."
Chen Jun Chun and Yu Mao Guang then greeted Pei Zi Yun as well, "Brother Pei, glad to see you."
Pei Zi Yun returned the greeting as the four of them sat around comfortably, having all known each other before this. A lady singer then emerged, she took her place on the stage to the cheers and applause of the audiences. High Scholar Fu was whispering to Pei Zi Yun, telling him of all the popular people amidst the crowd. He then pointed to an old man, "This person was a High Scholar from the previous dynasty. He came from a familiar of scholars as well, and was extremely renowned for his works."
"And the middle aged man over there, who's holding his cup. Although he's just an Elementary Scholar, his works are well known across the entire country."
High Scholar Fu was familiar with some of these reputable people, and introduced them to Pei Zi Yun from afar. Pei Zi Yun was amazed at some of these people and what they had accomplished.
After Wei Ang had kick-started the banquet, everyone dove into literary conversations as they
drank wine. Everyone was making merry and the atmosphere was buzzing with pleasantries. Occasionally, tables of people would challenge others to poem reciting competition, where the losers were made to drink wine. It was a very lively scene.
Seeing that everyone was happily drinking and being engaged in the banquet, Wei Ang was rather displeased with the fact that he had to remain at the host's table and watch everyone having fun from afar. He then whispered, "Mister Zhen, why don't you take my place as the host instead. I wish to have some fun with the rest of them. It's extremely boring to be seated here as customaries and rules bid."
Nobody had come up to the stage, where the host's table was. Neither did anyone invite him to drink or exchange poems in competition with him. All he could do was watch from afar. It was indeed tedious not to join the throngs of people in their merry making.
"Young master, since you've already promised Master Hou you'll remain as the host for the duration of the event, please do as you've said." This third master of the Hou family had always been free spirited and had never been burdened by rules or customs. He had caused a fair bit of headache for Mr Zhen as he was growing up.
Wei Ang then turned away. Just then, an idea came to him. He then leaned in, and whispered to Mr Zhen, whose eyes turned bright as well, "Since young master has come up with such an idea, let's do it your way."