Plundering the Dao of the Immortal Journey Chapter 98
Pei Zi Yun retrieved the keys and documents and headed to the locksmith to purchase a new lock, chain and hammer to be used later on.
In the previous life, it had been rumored that the treasure was buried under a tree. On that fateful night, there were lightning showers around the area, and the tree had been struck by lightning. The next day, High Scholar Zheng went to clear up the mess created by the fallen tree and noticed something buried within. He then started digging it out and unearthed the treasure. Since he hadn't expect that, he wasn't secretive enough and was discovered by several passerbys. Rumors started spreading and the owner of the house found out about it. He then lodged a report. Most of the treasure ended up in the hands of government officials.
'A person should be able to keep certain things secret and be discreet about it. If he's unable to do that, he will lose out on plenty in life and might even be harmed.' Pei Zi Yun laughed as he returned to the mansion. The first thing he did was to change the locks. 'Whether the part about the lightning was real is irrelevant. The most important part about the rumor was that the treasure was buried beneath the tree.'
Only after replacing the locks with his own new locks did Pei Zi Yun heave a sigh of relief. The house officially belonged to him now. He could not take the chance to dig out the treasure and have someone walking in on him.
When everything had been completed, it was already evening. With a great deal on his mind, Pei Zi Yun followed the pathway to the yard. Within the yard, there stood a single tree. It looked rather unsuspecting and simple.
Pei Zi Yun then retrieved a shovel and dug around the four corners of the tree. After digging out the earth from beneath the tree, he realized that there was absolutely nothing. He frowned. Could he have been wrong, and bought the wrong house?
He was so alarmed that he started cold sweating.
'Something is not right. I'm certain the rumors from the original owner's memories were correct. The person who unearthed the treasure was High Scholar Zheng. It was a big house with a tree in the courtyard. All these matched the description. Why can't I find the treasure?'
Pei Zi Yun furrowed his brows. Could there be another tree? He started looking all over the house, but could not find another tree.
He then had an idea. Based on the rumors, the lightning struck the tree and it was uprooted and collapsed. That meant that Pei Zi Yun had to dig deeper. He thus continued digging.
After an extended digging session, he suddenly heard the sound of the shovel hitting something hard. He started clearing out more soil and found the chest buried within. There were tree roots wrapped around the box.
After seeing the chest, Pei Zi Yun understood why the owner had buried the chest in this location. He picked this lone tree so that he would not forget the placement of the chest. However he had been murdered soon after, and nobody knew that the chest had been buried. The tree kept growing bigger until its current size, so thick a man would not be able to hug it.
Pei Zi Yun dug the chest out and noticed that it had a metal lock on it. The lock had rusted quite badly. Pei Zi Yun thought for sometime before deciding to use the hammer to break open the lock.
"Pow!" Not only did the lock break, even the chest had splintered. Pei Zi Yun was somewhat taken aback, but realized that the wooden chest had already rotten after such a long time of being buried.
After taking a close look, Pei Zi Yun realized it was a simple chest. He pried it open and saw many gold bars within. He took a single bar out and tapped it against his palms, "It's indeed a 10 tael gold bar!"
After pointing at the bars and counting in his head, "300 gold bars? That would be 3,000 taels of gold. That's worth 30,000 taels of silver? A stash like that could only be accumulated by a minister."
Pei Zi Yun took out a single gold bar before dragging the entire chest inside the house. He then placed it under the bed before heading back out to cover the hole in the ground he had dug up. Retrieving such copious amounts of gold in broad daylight could cause several problems, hence he chose to dig it up at night. Should Zhang Cheng decide to return, that would cause problems as well. If he does not come today, Pei Zi Yun decided to hire someone to clear out all his belongings tomorrow.
Just as he was thinking about this matter, he heard someone shouting outside the gate, "Open up. Open the door. Who dares to enter my house and lock me out? Watch that I do not call the officials on you."
Zhang Cheng was in a drunken state, and was shouting loudly and shaking the gate that won't open for him.
Pei Zi Yun was started and started sweating, 'In the previous life, that was how High Scholar Zheng had been found out. Soon after Zhang Cheng had lodged a report against him.'
Pei Zi Yun hurriedly covered the hole in the ground before walking to the front entrance. Zhang Cheng was inebriated beyond sense. The minute he saw Pei Zi Yun he flew into a rage, "Who are you, what are you doing in my house? Don't make me take you to court."
Seeing this person standing before him in such a drunken state, trying to barge his way into the house, Pei Zi Yun gave a cold harrumph, and looked at the onlookers gathered around. He then walked up to him and gave him a good beating. Only then did Zhang Cheng come to his senses and realized that he had already sold the house. He looked up at Pei Zi Yun, who was glaring at him fiercely, "Scram!"
He was after all a High Scholar and should not allow others to trample over him. He had beaten Zhang Cheng up readily and happily.
Although Zhang Cheng was afraid, for some reason he refused to leave. Still feeling the effects of the alcohol he had drank earlier, he stuck out his chest and shouted, "I told you, my belongings are still inside. I want to take them. Let me enter and stay a few nights, I shall leave after. Whichever house you buy, they will always let the owner stay for some time. So let me sleep here for a few nights?"
Zhang Yun intended to take as much as he can get from Pei Zi Yun, and wanted to sleep in his old house for a couple of nights. From there, he intended to drag out his stay for as long as he can manage. After selling of his house, he went to the brothel to purchase the freedom of his beloved lady, but she had already been bought over by someone else. He thus returned here, only to find that he could not buy his house back.
Seeing this man without a backbone, Pei Zi Yun cleared his throat, "The title deed to this house has already been purchased by me. You still dare to call this your house? Under the laws of the imperial court, if you enter my premises without my consent, you could be beaten up to ten strokes of the paddle. Entering the house of an official warrants a heavier punishment, up to thirty strokes."
Pei Zi Yun glared into his eyes and said coldly.
Zhang Cheng was indeed afraid, and yet persisted stubbornly, "What right do you have? This is my house. My belongings are still inside. Once I get them, and stay here for a few nights, I shall leave. Besides, this house is so big, why must you be so petty? It's not like you can occupy the entire house yourself. Let me stay here for a few days."
"Get lost, if you dare to enter my house, I shall report this case to the authorities. I am a High Scholar, and am more than you can bite off. thirty strokes of the paddle will ensure that you will face the consequences of your actions. You might even die from it!" Pei Zi Yun added before shutting the gates. At this point, the chest of gold was within this house and he would never allow anyone to enter. If Zhang Cheng decides to force his way in, Pei Zi Yun might even kill him.
Zhang Cheng heard Pei Zi Yun and was shocked. Taking thirty strokes of the paddle could indeed kill a person. He then started to walk away, turning his head back to look at Pei Zi Yun several times.
The onlookers were all laughing at him. The Zhang family were a decent household and had the house befitting of a minister and lived comfortably. However, this particular wastrel only knew how to eat, drink, gamble and womanize. He had thrown away his entire fortune to these vices.
Zhang Cheng had even sold off his house to fuel his vices. The onlookers despised him, seeing as he was lazy and a failure. They were all laughing and mocking him.
When Zhang Cheng was far away, he spat on the ground in anger. He then looked for a rock to sit on, his eyes were gazing far off into the distance, as though he was thinking of a plan.
It was late at night and Pei Zi Yun purchased ten wooden boxes. He then retrieved the gold bars from beneath the bed and started dividing them, placing them into the wooden boxes.
A single wooden box had 30 gold bars worth 300 taels of gold. The gold bars were shimmering and reflecting the light from the lanterns. Pei Zi Yun looked at the gold and felt a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. This was a large fortune. After he had been rebirthed into this world, all he needed was a rumor from the previous life to win himself such a fortune. It was really too easy. After he was done, he then placed the lids over the boxes.
The streets were bustling with live and activity. There were many people walking around, going about their daily chores. Before the entrance stood a pair of intimidating lion statues. The main entrance was never open, but there was a small gate beside it. Someone had just exited the gate and Pei Zi Yun approached it and spoke to the person guarding it.
Pei Zi Yun gave a note to be passed to the Princess along with a gift. The Princess often had strangers visiting her, requesting for favors. This sight was thus not uncommon. However, for someone to come this early in the morning was not an everyday sight. The guard then took the slip from Pei Zi Yun. He looked at it and was astonished.
Pei Zi Yun smiled, "This is a little courtesy. I have something to request of the Princess, and wish that she will assist."
As he said this, he handed a silver ingot to the guard. The door guard received it and realized that it was ten taels of silver, and was shocked. Even for someone who was used to receiving tips from noble and powerful people, this amount was indeed huge. He thus understood that this person had an important and urgent request. However, he maintained a stoic expression.
"Young Master, you should go back first. I shall hand over this slip and gift to the Grand Princess. It's just that I can't promise you anything. It will have to depend on the Grand Princess's mood."
Pei Zi Yun then replied, "Whether or not she agrees, please do let me know."
The door guard then replied, "Of course."
There were strict rules in place regarding such matters. Pei Zi Yun had given a note to the Grand Princess asking for an audience and on that note, it wrote that Pei Zi Yun would give 1,000 taels of gold. However only if she agrees to his demands will she be allowed to keep the money.
After Pei Zi Yun had walked off, the guard looked in and saw the butler behind the door. He then bowed to him and passed the note to the butler, "Look at this note."
When the butler looked at it, his face changed too, and asked, "What's this about?"
The door guard thus explained everything in detail. Only then did the butler regain some color in his face. He then replied softly, "Conduct a thorough search on this Pei Zi Yun's background. As for other details, we cannot afford the time to do that. Take the Grand Princess's card, you will then be permitted entry into the file room. Look under Ying Prefecture's Top Scorer. There should be information regarding this person."
This file room was actually a collection of information which was only accessible to people of sufficient authority. It was a highly classified room. However, the Grand Princess's card would permit someone to enter the room and look for the required information. This clearly showed the authority and influence wielded by the Grand Princess.
The Grand Princess was sleeping in this morning, and would only wake up after 10.am. Serving maids streamed into her room, bringing clothes, milk and rose petals for the Grand Princess. They then started preparing the Grand Princess for her day. Only after that was done would she have her meal.
The serving maids all had to follow strict guidelines when serving food to the Grand Princess. The food were all steaming in this cold winter. The dishes placed before her weren't tonic, however they were food recommended and prescribed by her doctor in order to keep her healthy and young.
The latest dish to be served up was a bowl of clear chicken soup with wolfberries and ginseng roots. According to the doctor, such a soup would help strengthen bones and keep her looking youthful and radiant.
The Grand Princess drank several mouthful of soup when she heard the butler approaching, "Your Majesty, someone has delivered a note. The contents of it are rather heavy."
As he spoke, he then handed the note to her. The Grand Princess placed her spoon down before receiving the note. The smile which had been etched to her face gradually dissipated. On the note, it said that this person will include 1,000 taels of gold for her. This was not a small amount of money.
In an agricultural society, although the empire was vast, the wealth within the nation was limited as well.
The Grand Princess was an important royal figure, and she knew that as well. The lyrics sang by singers about how much the royal family had in gold was mostly untrue. The highest paid Minister, which had Duke status only had 20,000 taels in wealth. And this had been accumulated over decades. The current Emperor's grandson had an annual salary of 5,000 taels of silver a year and 5,000 stone of grain.
Princesses earn a yearly income of 1,000 stone of grain and 2,000 tales of silver.
However, she was the Grand Princess and was thus entitled to more than double of what a normal princess would earn. She has a yearly income of 3,000 stone of grain and 4,000 taels of silver.
10,000 taels of silver was the sum of money a cabinet minister would leave for himself to ensure that he is wealthy enough to sustain his family after retirement. Just a few days back, the nephew of the Emperor wanted to confer a posthumous title for his father, the Emperor's half brother. This alone cost him 10,000 taels of silver.
According to Pei Zi Yun's note, he was willing to give 10,000 taels of silver immediately. The 30,000 taels of silver he had acquired had been saved up by a minister for decades, probably even generations. And in the end, he couldn't even spend or pass it on before he was murdered.
The Grand Princess paused for sometime before smiling. She then let go of the note sent by Pei Zi Yun and said, "To post such a huge amount of money, I'm afraid his request is going to be hard to fulfil and might even violate the law."
The Grand Princess then sank deep in thought, wondering to herself what could this person possibly want to offer so much money. Could it be related to Ji Bei Hou from the west? Or was it General Han from the north. Or was it related to conflict between another country?
The Grand Princess hesitated before asking, "Where did this person come from?"
The butler hurriedly passed her all the information that he had gathered on Pei Zi Yun earlier. The Grand Princess took the documents before smiling, "So he is a High Scholar. Could he be asking about what questions are going to come out during the examinations? I can't help with that."
The Grand Princess started muttering under her breath, "To offer 10,000 taels of silver. A lot less could be donated to a Prefecture Magistrate and he would help you with the examinations, why would you come to me? Have you heard of this Pei Zi Yun?"
The butler had been prepared for this question, "Your Majesty, if this servant understands correctly, this person was the same person who composed