Plundering the Dao of the Immortal Journey Chapter 97
Pei Zi Yun took several strides, trying to locate the house.
The memory regarding this particular incident was hazy at best. All he could recall was that just before this year's examination, a High Scholar surnamed Zeng entered the capital. Since it was late at night, all the cheap inns had been fully rented out. Unluckily for him, he had to rent an entire mansion to live in. Fortunately for him, he managed to unearth the gold, although how he did it was unknown.
The rites examination was held in February, and the palace examination was held in April. The palace examination were also known as the Crown Prince Examination. Now that the new year has passed, it was mid-January. The gold should have been discovered around this time.
"To have the ability to bury such a huge amount of gold would mean the person was either extremely wealthy or was nobility. Furthermore he had to experience a sudden weakening of position, which would impede his ability to pass the money down to his offsprings. Hence, he had to bury the gold and didn't even have time to unearth it for his own use." Thinking this way, Pei Zi Yun had a target in his mind.
After making his decision, Pei Zi Yun walked out. He had to choose a broker for his plan, and he had to choose between a private broker or a broker regulated by the government. After thinking hard, Pei Zi Yun decided on the government broker. It was a tough decision, as private brokers would be much cheaper and advantageous. However, this was the capital and Pei Zi Yun had just arrived the day before, thus he didn't know much about the capital. A private broker would be significantly more risky.
When he left, he greeted the serving staff who had received the silver from him earlier. After asking for directions, he set off.
This brokerage firm was located in the west of the city. When he finally found the brokerage firm, he noticed that many people were walking in and out of the stall. Pei Zi Yun looked up at the signboard above before walking in.
The minute he walked in, a woman broker placed down the seeds she had been chewing on and greeted him, "This Young Master must be in the capital to take the examination? Based on your imposing and impressive appearance, it's certain that you should score well. I have several good living places I can offer you. You can take a look, and rent it if you like. Even better if you wish to buy it."
The woman broker explained in great details the options Pei Zi Yun could choose from. She even had a handbook as reference. Pei Zi Yun didn't bother explaining much, "I do not want a small house to stay in. I wish to live in a bigger house, maybe a large mansion? I want a mansion that used to house someone rich and noble. This would help me with my status. I wish to live there for a few months, so that I can stay for the examination."
When the woman broker heard this, her eyes lit up. She had no suspicions whatsoever about Pei Zi Yun's requests. It was perfectly normal that High Scholars and officials all wanted to appear wealthy and live in luxurious houses, since they were all particular about giving off wealthy impressions. It's just that most High Scholars who needed to rent a house weren't always very rich.
Someone wishing to rent a large mansion would provide a decent income. Most of those smaller houses were constantly in demand and the profit margins from those were very negligible.
Hearing that Pei Zi Yun wanted a big mansion, her eyes lit up as she smiled, "Come, come, Young Master. Please have a cup of tea as we discuss in detail."
The woman broker then ordered the serving maid in the main hall to prepare some tea.
The woman broker started getting busy, as she flipped open the book before her and pointed, "Young master, take a look at this house, it's spacious with four rooms and very wide. This house was inhabited by an old official. He was sent away to another prefecture to perform his official duties and thus it is now vacant."
"Tell me more about the story of this house" Pei Zi Yu laughed.
At this point, the serving maid served the tea. Pei Zi Yun took the cup and took a sip. The woman broker then replied, "This household managed to produce a High Scholar. Young master, how do you expect me to find a house owned by a wealthy and noble person? This person was a poet and came from a good family. Young master, will you settle on this house?"
Pei Zi Yun heard this and frowned. He did not want the house to live in, but rather to unearth the treasure. Hearing the description of this house, he knew that it did not fit the description of the house in his memory. He then replied hastily, "No, this will not do. Just keep looking."
Hearing Pei Zi Yun's words, the woman broker looked slightly agitated. She turned to the next page, "This house is good too. There are 18 rooms and the house is extremely wide and spacious. It has a beautiful view and a pavilion within. If you rent it for a month, it would cost five taels of silver. Renting it for a year would only cost 35 taels of silver. Furthermore this house has produced wealthy and noble people."
The woman broker pointed as she spoke. Hearing her say this, Pei Zi Yun then asked, "Who was the owner of the house?"
The woman broker lowered her voice and said, "The owner of the house was a man surnamed Zhang, but he's in dire straits now."
Pei Zi Yun then asked, "What about the previous owner of this house?"
The woman broker was somewhat reluctant to speak further, as if she was hiding something.
"Let me think, it was the Xiao household, they produced a son who became a minister in the previous dynasty. However, this house came under the attack of bandits, and the head of the house was assassinated. This house was then passed on to the Zhang household."
"Tell me more about the rest of the houses." Pei Zi Yun had to ask more to reduce his scope and increase his chances.
"Young master, this house is really not bad." The woman broken pointed at drawings of the house. The drawings of the house depicted several magnificent looking rooms. She didn't wait for Pei Zi Yun to ask this time. Knowing what he was about to ask, she hurriedly told him first, "Young master, this house was owned by an official. He's doing well too, and had just been promoted. Thus he is selling this house. Young master should buy it."
Pei Zi Yun knew that the houses were constantly being bought and sold. This was because officials were always getting promoted and deployed in other cities. Additionally, when a family member was old or passed away, the officials would usually sell off their big houses to go into mourning. Hence, there was always a high turnover of houses within the capital.
Pei Zi Yun asked in details about the houses that he had been showed. Before long, she had shown him all the available houses. Pei Zi Yun felt that the house with the highest chance was the household who produced a minister, who had been assassinated later on. However, he was still hesitant to commit.
The woman broker then said, "Young Master, you cannot hesitate. This old woman is busy too and cannot spend all her time on you."
Although she was smiling, her tone was extremely displeased. After hearing the woman broker speak did Pei Zi Yun react. He took out a tael of silver and said, "This is for your efforts. Take me to the house to take a look."
When the woman broker received the silver her eyes lit up once more and her smile became warmer, "Many thanks Young Master. I shall head outside to ready a horse-cart so that we can pay a visit to the house for your inspection."
This tael of silver was equivalent to earning the rental of a small house. Just by giving her the tael of silver, she had already earned off him. With such an extravagant client, she was looking forward to earning more money off him.
When they left, a horse cart was waiting outside. Many places around the nation still used ox-carts and yet most people within the capital used horses. Pei Zi Yun followed the woman broker up the carriage. The entire journey was filled with talks of how good and suitable the house was. Pei Zi Yun ignored them all.
The horse came to an abrupt stop. The woman broker looked out and said, "Young master we are already here. Can I trouble you to come down and take a look?"
Pei Zi Yun stepped off the carriage and followed the woman to the entrance. A pair of High Scholars were also at the entrance of the house taking a look. Seeing Pei Zi Yun and the woman broker approaching, they said "I've seen the notice stating that this house was up for rent. I wonder how much it would cost?"
When the woman broker heard this, her face turned pale. This house owner had entrusted the house to the broker to sell and rent out, and yet he had placed notices around. This clearly undermined her job. She decided to go inside and ask the owner what was happening.
Pei Zi Yun eyed the High Scholar and paused for sometime before walking up to them. He then saluted and said, "I am a High Scholar from Ying Prefecture. I am here to rent the house as well. I wonder what's this young master's name?"
The High Scholar paused for some time before answering politely, "This servant's surname is Zheng."
Pei Zi Yun's eyes lit up instantly. He was then sure that it was this particular house which contained the treasure. He then turned around and asked the woman, "This house looks very nice. I shall buy it, how much does it cost?"
The woman broker who had been hastily looking for the owner heard Pei Zi Yun and was shocked. She then smiled, "Young master wishes to buy this house?"
"That's correct. If I manage to attain Grand Scholar during this examination and become an official, I would like to spend some time here in the capital."
"Even if I do not pass, I shan't go back. I shall spend time here in the capital and wait for the next round of examination."
"Since that's the case, why should I rent, as it's wasting money. I should just buy it."
This was a foolproof reason. The woman broker looked at him happily and clapped her hands, "Young Master is indeed a wise man, and very wealthy. Do not worry, I'm confident the owner will want to sell it off too. At most it shall cost 500 taels of silver."
The both of them entered the house. Watching them, High Scholar Zheng was not very pleased, "This house is quiet and helpful for studying. I would benefit from renting this place and studying here."
The other High Scholar beside him then laughed, "Brother Zheng, it's only a small courtyard. We should go elsewhere to look. It seems like this young master wishes to buy the house. It's clear that he comes from a wealthy family. Remember how benefactor told us that the capital is full of powerful people, and we should not offend anyone if we can help it."
Hearing this words, High Scholar Zheng knew that he made sense. And yet for some reason he felt a nagging feeling deep down, and refused to let go of the uneasy feeling. Refusing to leave he replied, "Let's go in and take a look."
He then dragged the other High Scholar as they walked in.
Pei Zi Yun entered the mansion and noticed that it was spacious and received a good amount of sunlight. Several plants were planted in the garden and grew lush leaves and flowers. It was however slightly overgrown due to some time of not maintaining and thus looked slightly messy. The woman broker was very familiar with this house. When she reached a room in the house, she started knocking on it viciously.
"Who is it?" A male voice rang out from within as he hurriedly opened the door. His facial expression was one of irritation. When he opened the door, he saw the woman broker and was evidently surprised, "So it is granny Wang. It must be that there are people here who wish to view the house. Please come in."
This middle aged man looked somewhat poor and sickly. He reeked strongly of alcohol and rouge. It was clear that he had been living a life of over indulgence in alcohol and probably women as well. He probably spent away his wealth this way.
"This Young Master likes your house and wishes to bid for it." The woman broker said plainly.
"Heh heh, granny Wang, haven't I told you my price before. I wish to rent this house for at least five taels of silver a month. An entire year would cost 35 taels of silver. It's a fair price." The man rubbed his hands together as if he was cold, and laughed.
Broker Wang's face changed, "Zhang Cheng who said anything about renting. This Young Master wishes to buy the house. Didn't you mention something about wanting to sell this out to buy the freedom of your little flower? Now's a good time for that."
"800 taels of silver. This is a good price, pay up and you can have this house." Zhang Chen laughed deliriously, his face contorting into a vulgar and uncouth smile.
Hearing this price, Pei Zi Yun's expression was grave. This house was worth 450 taels of silver at most. Asking for 800 taels is akin to daylight robbery. The minute the woman broker heard this, and seeing Pei Zi Yun's expression she hurriedly said, "Zhang Cheng, what is the meaning of this?"
"The price has risen now? I've told you, if you feel that you can find someone to sell your house for you, you can try and find."
Hearing her lash out, Zhang Cheng's expression changed as well, as if he was upset. The woman broker then continued, "If you don't sell this house off, what money are you going to use to purchase the freedom of your beloved girl? Name a price."
Zhang Cheng then looked at the two High Scholars who had just entered. However, when they heard the price that he had named, they looked rather uncomfortable as well. After sometime, Zhang Cheng realized that the two High Scholars were not going to compete for the house. He then lost his bargaining power. When he named that exorbitant price, he was waiting for an idiot amongst them to accept it so that the other party will not be able to buy it.
Zhang Cheng then gritted his teeth, "500 taels of silver. Granny Wang, you know that this is a fair price and I will not go lower than this."
Granny Wang then looked at Pei Zi Yun, "Young master do you think this price is agreeable for the house, if you think so you can buy it."
High Scholar Zheng then stepped forward, "Zhang Cheng if you rent this house out for 35 taels of silver, you can earn 350 taels back in ten years. Why should you sell it off just like this? You should keep the house to earn a steady flow of income."
High Scholar Zheng looked extremely displeased, and Zhang Cheng's face was pale as well, "If not, why don't you buy this house from me? If you can't afford to buy it please do not speak such rubbish."
High Scholar Zheng's face turned sour and was about to step forward when his friend pulled him back and dragged him out. He did not have 500 taels of silver to buy over this house, and to speak when in such a situation would offend people. After being dragged out, his friend then scolded him harshly, "What's the matter with you today brother Zheng. Why do you wish to cause harm to others without benefitting yourself?"
After the both of them left, the negotiation went much smoother. They finally settled on 450 taels as the final price.
The trio of them returned to the broker shop, where they finalized the documents and deal. Zhang Cheng then walked out with his bank notes and the woman broker was smiling too. Just a transaction like this earned her five taels of silver.
Broker Wang was extremely contented and beamed at Pei Zi Yun, "Young master, since you've purchased such a big house, would you like to buy a pair of serving maids? The serving maids I have at my disposal are very efficient."
Pei Zi Yun replied, "I do not need any for the time being. Wait until I do up my house then we shall discuss this again."
Broker Wang then walked Pei Zi Yun out. When he was far away, she held the silver in her hands and kissed it, "I really earned so much today!"