Chapter 76 – First Book
Shen Zi laughed coldly, “Master Hou, the plan with the Japanese pirates is working out well.”
“Getting them to attack the counties was just a small matter. I’ve already won the trust of the pirates, who will be willing to die for our cause if the need arises. These pirates will attack the governor. When the time is right, the pirates will start attacking the region with greater intensity, and cause greater devastation. After all these is done, Master Hou can write a letter to humbly apologize to the imperial court for failing to defend these regions. Afterall, they were the ones who removed you from your posts.”
“Now, all the authority is within the hands of the governor. He is clear about his responsibility to repel the pirates as well. When Master Hou writes the letter to apologize, it will be a simple act of loyalty to the country.”
“Furthermore the generals are a difficult bunch to deal with. Should they replace the governor with someone new, the generals will need time to adapt to him if they are unfamiliar with him. Therefore the most suitable candidate to replace him would be Master Hou yourself.”
Ji Bei Hou took a few steps forward in the great hall, “Since we already have people in positions, does this mean we can simply kill the governor whenever we wish?”
Shen Zhi turned around and replied him softly, “No, we cannot.”
He paused for some time before continuing, “Master Hou, this is all about decorum.”
“Regardless of how much stronger the pirates are, even if they invade our county, the most they can do is to rob and plunder. That’s why we chose the pirates.”
“The purpose of attacking and wounding the governor is to show how incapable and useless he is. After this is done, the imperial court will then consider sitting Master Hou on the governor’s seat. However we must not actually kill him. If we actually murder him, his death will shake the entire dynasty. The imperial court will investigate to the bottom of the matter. When that happens, nobody can take advantage of the situation.”
“Master Hou, this period of time is not the chaotic time we once knew. If it were, and Master Hou had the strength and the intention to kill him off before he became governor, it would have worked in your favor. Doing it now would be spell the end for all of us.”
“Master Hou, ever since the new dynasty had been founded, the current Emperor has been wise and strong. However, he has ascended the throne for seven years now, and rumors have been going around that his health is declining.”
“Master Hou just needs to take control of the army now. When the Emperor dies and is succeeded by the weak Crown Prince, he will not be able to remove you from your post. Then, you shall wield influence and power for a long time, making the Crown Prince your puppet.”
“And if chaos breaks out then, Master Hou can take another step up towards the throne….”
“But for now, you must not act without first considering the consequences. Also, in order to prevent the Japanese pirates from turning an act into a real crisis, I suggest sending some men over to watch them. If their bloodlust becomes too strong, and they start ignoring our orders, we can slaughter them there.”
Ji Bei Hou’s eyes were gazing far ahead, as if he was deep in thought. After a long time, he sighed, “It’s been hard on Mister Shen. I’ve had to rely on Mister Shen for some time now. If it weren’t for your devious plan, I would not know how to regain my authority.”
Shen Zhi bowed down low and replied, “Master Hou picked me up from the soil, and I am your man in this life, and shall be your ghost in the next. What is a little work to me anyway?”
Ji Bei Hou laughed, and didn’t speak for sometime. When he finally recalled something he said, “Oh right, did you say my third son asked you to find some books?”
“Yes, Pei Zi Yun, who was the Top Scorer for the last examination, is indeed a genius.”
Ji Bei Hou nodded his head before sinking into silence for sometime. He then asked, “Is he Free Cloud Sect’s man?”
“Then are we able to rope this man in? Or even rope the entire Free Cloud Sect into our ploys?”
“To rope this person in is going to be difficult. Roping the entire Free Cloud sect, I’m afraid is impossible.” Shen Zhi replied. He then paused before explaining, “Free Cloud Sect’s history can not be considered ancient, and yet their existence has stretched two dynasties. They are already established.”
“The Paradise of these sects rely heavily on Pure Qi. Although Pure Qi flows naturally, there is a way to break it. As long as the imperial dynasty passes an imperial decree, even the biggest mountains or the longest rivers can be shifted or obstructed. Doing this can block the flow of the Qi.”
“Even if the Pure Qi is altered, it will never disappear. So if we shift the flow of Pure Qi away from their Paradise, it will gradually wither and die.”
“To alter the topography of mountains, or to divert the flow of rivers require a great deal of work and effort. The imperial court would not be willing to go through the trouble unless absolutely necessary. This is another reason why the Dao sects would not interfere in matters of the imperial court.”
“Although third master has joined the Free Cloud Sect, and the entire sect had gotten numerous benefits from our household, it’s not enough to rope the Free Cloud Sect in.” Shen Zhi said.
“I understand. You can leave me now!” Ji Bei Hou watched on as Shen Zhi left the room. He then turned around and said, “You can come out now!”
“Mister Shen is such a good military strategist!” A Daoist climbed out and started laughing. This Daoist was dressed in the Daoist robe and was wearing a bamboo cap. He had three strands of beard hanging down and looked to be about 40 years old.
Hearing these words, Ji Bei Hou sniggered and said, “With the leader of Holy Jail Sect on board with me, why should I fear failure?”
Several days later
The book merchant wiped the sweat of his forehead as he stood waiting outside Fu Mansion. After some time, someone came out and led him within the mansion. The book merchant carried several books with him and followed the servant in.
Shen Zhi was holding a quill and practicing his calligraphy strokes. When the book merchant came in, Shen Zhi did not stop.
The merchant bowed deeply, “Sir, your servant has found some books written personally by famed experts.”
He then handed the books to the servant, who passed it on to Mister Shen. Mister Shen took a look and realized that they were all written personally and matched third young master’s criteria, “Not bad, you managed to find all these within such a short amount of time. Not bad indeed!”
“Your household is a noble house, whenever people heard that Hou Mansion was buying books, very few people rejected me.” The book merchant laughed nervously as he replied.
“Regardless, you were diligent.” Shen Zhi drank a cup of tea and arranged for the butler to retrieve another 100 taels of silver. This was the final payment. These volumes seemed pretty good.
Shen Zi took these seven books and walked over to Wei Ang’s courtyard. When he entered, he noticed that Wei Ang was brewing tea. A finished painting was on the table beside him.
Shen Zhi stepped forward, “Third young master, I’ve managed to acquire the books you were looking for.”
He then handed the books over to Wei Ang, who started flipping through them immediately, “These books are indeed good books written by renowned experts. Huang Li, you are my personal maid, take these books over to Pei Zi Yun.”
“Yes master.” Huang Li replied and took the books over. She then walked over to the entrance where an ox-cart was idling. Boarding the ox-cart, she then headed towards Fu Mansion.
When the ox-cart reached Fu Mansion, Huang Li got off and knocked on the door. Before long, the guard asked, “Miss, who are you looking for?”
Huang Li then replied, “I am a maid from Ji Bei Hou’s house, under the instructions of my third young master. I am here to pass some books to High Scholar Pei.”
The guard then opened the door and said, “Please wait here miss. I shall go and report to High Scholar Pei.”
After some time, the guard then came out, “Please enter miss.”
The guard then turned around and started leading the way, with Huang Li following close behind.
Pei Zi Yun was in his room writing essays. When Huang Li entered, she saw an entire room filled with books. Books were sprawled all over the table, and many pieces of papers with writings were strewn across the room as well, ‘He’s not inclined to paintings like my own master, but is proficient in writing. Based on the way he writes, he’s really befitting of the Top Scorer status.’
As she was thinking, she stepped forward and handed the books over.
Pei Zi Yun stood up, and looked at the maid. He had seen her around before at Hou Mansion. She had bright eyes and white teeth. Although her features were plain and not what one would regard as pretty, she had a certain simplicity about her look that made her stand out. Pei Zi Yun then smiled, “Thank you master for me.”
He then received the book and felt a certain sensation across his entire body, and was overjoyed, “These books are not bad at all. Huang Li, a few days later I shall pay a visit.’
“Young master Pei, I shall return to my chores. Farewell.” Huang Li then hurriedly left the room and headed back. She was not allowed to be out for too long.
Pei Zi Yun looked at the books. From the seven books, he pulled out three and threw the other four aside, “Among these seven books, three of them contain legacies.”
“The older generation of writers really poured their blood sweat and tears into writing books. A single book could take decades of hard work to complete.”
“Zeng Jiao Qin, High Scholar”
“Lu Ji Yuan, Grand Scholar”
“Wang Zi Liang, High Scholar”
“All these were highly regarded and renowned literary experts. These three books caused a reaction within my Plum Blossom, I should try and absorb their contents.”
“Having these three books were more than enough. In fact, when it comes to knowledge, analogies were the best way to acquire them and not through sheer quantity. I shall try and absorb the first book. If it’s successful, I shall then start absorbing the other two.”
Pei Zi Yun turned into his bedroom and placed the first book under his pillow. Within seconds, he fell into a dream.
A few moments after Pei Zi Yun had fallen asleep, there was a knock on the door before it sprang open, “Junior Brother, Junior Brother. The weather is so nice today. Let’s go and fly some kites.”
The little girl Chu Xia was carrying a kite and entered the room. She looked around and found Pei Zi Yun sleeping, deep in his dreams. She then walked nearer to him and shouted loudly, “Junior Brother, Junior Brother. Wake up. Come and fly some kites with me.”
Pei Zi Yun slept soundly and did not stir at all. Seeing him so unresponsive, Chu Xia stormed out in anger.
When he had finished dreaming the first, he entered a second, and a third dream. He had absorbed all three books in quick succession. When he finally woke up, he felt his entire world spinning around him. He stood up and took a few steps forward in confusion. Extending a hand out, he reached to grab the bed to catch his breath.
“Even though the Plum Blossom second petal formed, absorbing three legacies at once was slightly too much to bear.” Pei Zi Yun regained his composure. Although the limit of the Plum Blossom wasn’t very high, Pei Zi Yun have yet to meet its ceiling. However, as with all things, it has to be taken in moderation. Absorbing legacies too must be a gradual process with sufficient rest.”
Not only does his head hurt immensely, but his train of thought was disrupted as well. This was an instance where his state of mind had been subjected to severe over exertion. Pei Zi Yun forced a laugh, and placed the books away from his pillow. He then fell onto the bed and went back to sleep.
When he woke up, he felt somewhat rejuvenated. His head was still throbbing, but at least he could walk without feeling dizzy. There were several dishes on the table, although they had turned cold. Beneath the bowl was a note. When he took it up to read, he realized that it was from his teacher. He felt a certain warmness envelop his heart.
The rumble of his tummy could be heard as Pei Zi Yun pushed open the door. He wanted to ask a servant to warm his food up for him. He noticed that they sky was dark, with over a few stars overhead. Pei Zi Yun then realized he had slept all the way till midnight.
A gust of wind blew over, and Pei Zi Yun felt somewhat chilly. The servants were all asleep. After thinking for sometime, Pei Zi Yun returned to his room and closed the door. He then ignited the stove where a pot sat in his room. After a short while, the pot started steaming. He then placed the dishes inside, filling his entire room with a delicious aroma. When the preparation was done, he started eating.
Although the food was still somewhat cold, the flavor was still there. When he finished eating, he placed the bowls aside and started writing, endless streams of thoughts gushed into his mind, inspiring him.
The original book that Pei Zi Yun had written was only seven chapters long. After he was done editing and reworking it, he realized that he had reviewed and edited it a total of 11 times. Although it was still not the most perfect work ever done, it had certain standards.
After gaining the knowledge of these three great experts, he did a complete makeover of his seven chapters, gaining insights he could never imagine. When he was done, he placed his hands on the table. He didn’t feel like sleeping yet. He started thinking about his Dao Arts, and realized that he didn’t need to practice due to the fact that he possessed the original owner’s memories. However, he needed to accumulate spiritual strength still.
In the blink of an eye, seven days went past. Pei Zi Yun had been writing every single day, and improving his work. He would then proofread the entire thing and made more changes. Whenever he took breaks, he was practicing the Hundred Beast Movements in order to accumulate spiritual strength. At the end of the seven days, he smiled to himself, “It’s done”
He then shouted, “Men, prepare an ox-cart. I shall go to Hou Mansion.”
At that time High Scholar Fu and Yu Yun Jun were bringing someone to a room. The room was locked and the corridor was exceptionally quiet. Both of them had looks that were mixed with sorrow and happiness. When they pushed open the door, they saw that several old books were on the shelves, and the curtains had been drawn. A teacup and pot were on the table. Everything was the way it once was.
“Ai, Mistress Cloud and I are here to see you again. I’ve wronged you……” High Scholar Fu said gently. There were three candles burning beside the incense burner. High Scholar Fu then whispered, “But you were in Paradise, and had no worries. It’s just that I’ve been suffering while yearning for you. I guess this is how I should make up for what happened.”
Yu Yun Jun was silent. If it weren’t for her, High Scholar Fu wouldn’t have entered the Dao as well. This was all fate.
When they backed away, High Scholar Fu paused for several seconds, his face changing color as he tried to speak. Yu Yun Jun abruptly waved her hands to stop him, as her expression changed, “Eh?”
Before revealing an expression that was hard to describe.