unsheathed – Chapter 106: People from All Walks of Life

Chapter 106: People from All Walks of Life

Chapter 106: People from All Walks of Life

Cheng Sheng told them that there was no curfew in Red Candle Town. There was also a street market on the west side of town, and even though it was small, it still contained everything that one would need. All kinds of goods and trinkets could be found there. After learning that Chen Ping'an and the others needed to buy necessities for their journey to the academy, Cheng Sheng volunteered to act as their guide and show them around. He said that this would save them a lot of trouble. At the very least, the merchants wouldn't dare to raise their prices to extortionate levels.

Chen Ping'an looked toward A'Liang who had been here once, and the man with the bamboo hat responded with a nod. He said that he was only familiar with the area around the two banks, and that he had never been to this street market before.

Cheng Sheng looked at A'Liang, and the two experienced men shared a knowing smile.

There were close to 100 decorated boats in Fu Inlet, and they were all of varying shapes and sizes. They would row out from the inlet each night, and they would follow the river and enter Red Candle Town. After making a trip around the town, the decorated boats would then return to Fu Inlet. During this time, men would continuously board these decorated boats to buy both wine and women.

Even though the boat hostesses and prostitutes in Red Candle Town were all lowly citizens of the Great Li Empire, the former were directly managed by the capital's Imperial Music Office[1]. In fact, even the local county magistrates didn't have the right to raise the status of these boat hostesses and elevate them to ordinary citizens. Thus, there was a widespread rumor in Red Candle Town that the ancestors of these women were once imperial family members and meritorious officials of the Divine Water Nation.

Following the guidance of the local official Cheng Sheng, Chen Ping'an and the others headed toward the market located on the west side of town. The further west they walked, the more lively and boisterous it became. After learning that there were towns and relay stations all along the 100-kilometer stretch of river passage toward the south, Chen Ping'an abandoned his thoughts of buying all their supplies here. He didn't overstock on rice or cured meat or any other foods.

However, he still purchased many medicinal ingredients and ointments from a pharmacy that they passed. This was to treat colds, heat strokes, scrapes, and other minor issues. Only when it came time to pay did Chen Ping'an finally notice the difference between his hometown and Red Candle Town. As it turned out, an entire tael of silver was an extremely rare item. Thus, Chen Ping'an decided to exchange the two snow-patterned silver taels for the commonly-used copper coins in the Great Li Empire Heavenly Brilliance Ingots. Because his silver taels were of superior quality, just the premium he was paid alone reached a whopping 200 copper coins. This caused Chen Ping'an to feel extremely grateful to Ruan Xiu.

Because the relay station deputy was with them, their trip to the market was especially smooth sailing. One truly couldn't treat an informal official as if they weren't an official. This was especially the case since Cheng Sheng was someone who frequently interacted with traveling officials and influential businessmen. In the eyes of the commoners in the small town, such a person was naturally a mighty and omnipotent being. Thus, the shopkeepers that Chen Ping'an and the others came across all respectfully and politely referred to him as Lord Cheng. It was as if they wanted to treat him as a Bodhisattva.

Li Huai was extremely reserved the entire time, and he only dared to hide behind A'Liang's back and occasionally poke his head out from time to time. A'Liang teased him and called him a chicken who only dared to act aggressively at home. Li Huai was just about to scream and argue with A'Liang for a good while, but when he saw the curious glances cast over by the passers-by, he immediately lowered his head and followed behind A'Liang in a listless manner. A'Liang was extremely humored by this, and he occasionally smacked Li Huai on the head. The little boy was infuriated, but he didn't dare to explode in anger. This was as suffocating as could be.

Meanwhile, Lin Shouyi continued to act in an aloof manner. Since these things had nothing to do with him, he naturally wouldn't poke his nose into it for no reason. He would presumably remain the same even when he went to the capital in the future.

Only Li Baoping walked with her head held high and her chest puffed out as she carried her green bamboo bookcase. It was as if she wanted to drag the passers-by over and flaunt her bookcase to them, telling them that it had been personally made by her junior uncle.

The street market consisted of two main streets running north to south, and after strolling down Mountain Viewing Street, Chen Ping'an and the others walked into an alley and headed toward the parallel River Viewing Street. However, when they passed a quiet bookstore in the alley, Chen Ping'an came to a stop even though Cheng Sheng continued to walk forward. He notified Cheng Sheng before turning to Li Baoping and the two other children and saying with a smile, "You three can buy a book each. It doesn't matter how expensive it is, as long as I can afford it."

The bookstore was very small, with the store face only measuring six meters in width. After entering, they saw that there were only two tall shelves on either side of the store. At the other end of the store, there sat a young man dressed in a black changshan[2]. His legs were crossed, and he was resting with his eyes closed. There was also a folded fan in his hand, and he lightly tapped it against his palm as he hummed a tune.

This young store owner had a handsome yet effeminate appearance. However, he didn't smell like copper like the other merchants and store owners that they had come across before.

Zhu Lu immediately faltered upon seeing him. She most likely hadn't expected to come across such a refined and outstanding person in the street market of a small town.

Even though the mountain lord of Go Table Mountain had recovered his appearance as a mountain god after breaking free from his shackles transforming from a short old man into a tall and handsome young man Zhu Lu's impression of him was still dominated by his initially disheveled and deplorable appearance. Meanwhile, her first impression of this young store owner was the complete opposite.

Even Zhu He was astonished and puzzled. Perhaps this person was from a declining clan or sect? After all, he appeared no inferior to the two young masters of the Li Clan.

The young man didn't open his eyes, and he informed them in a lazy voice, "No haggling is allowed for the books in my store. Whether you benefit from the books or not is all up to your own observation abilities."

"This bookstore is relatively famous in Red Candle Town," Cheng Sheng explained to Zhu He. "Scholars who pass our town often like to visit this store. However, the store owner is quite eccentric, and he sells his books for much higher than market value. He also dares to directly kick people out of his store. He's an aloof person who doesn't care about his customer's status.

"One time, an official of the Ministry of Revenue was traveling undercover, and he chose to stay at this underling's Pillow Relay Station. He took a fancy to a book with only one existing copy or whatnot, and he simply tried to shave 50 taels of silver off the asking price of 300. However, he was immediately kicked out of the store without being shown any mercy. This caused him to lose face, and he was so angry that he still hadn't calmed down when he arrived back at the relay station. In fact, he almost ordered the county office to shut down this small bookstore. However, he eventually let this matter go, and I presume it's because he didn't want to gain a bad reputation because of this."

Zhu He nodded in understanding. This person was most likely a Confucian scholar who stubbornly followed the rules and didn't understand how to properly interact with people. Second Young Master always liked to ridicule these people and describe them as 'one who calmly discusses philosophy during times of peace, yet can only use death to prove loyalty during times of calamity'[3]. The second young master had also smiled and said that the Great Li Empire would become the same way within 200 years.

As a result, Zhu He had an innate dislike for scholars.

The post road that passed through Red Candle Town was one of the three main post roads that led from the southern regions of the Great Li Empire to the capital. Relatively wealthy merchants and officials who wanted to travel north and visit the capital as well as other major cities often liked to pick this post road.

Even though the two other post roads were wider, the relay stations along the way were always stuffy and filled to the brim. If one wasn't powerful or influential enough, they wouldn't be able to enter these relay stations, much less find a room to stay in. Each year, many officials and wealthy merchants would lose face and suffer humiliation because they weren't aware of this situation.

Meanwhile, scholars who were traveling to the capital to take the imperial examination also liked to pick this post road, and this was because they were yet to become officials. They often traveled in groups of two or three, and this allowed them to both take care of each other as well as enjoy the scenery and adventures together.

As for the frustrated officials who were banished to the south, they often liked to come up with poems and scribble them on the walls of the rooms that they were staying in. These officials also liked to take the post road that passed through Red Candle Town. In this way, the walls in the rooms of Pillow Relay Station were filled with the frustrated and lamenting words of scholars and officials.

Li Baoping craned her neck and started to look for a suitable book. She glanced here and there, and there was no pattern to where she was looking. It was all done on a whim. She would occasionally pull out a book and randomly flip through a few pages, putting it back if it didn't catch her interest. In the end, the little girl picked a travel journal that cost 300 copper coins. She was a bit reluctant to spend so much, but she had truly taken a liking to this book. She turned around to look at her junior uncle, who smiled and nodded in encouragement.

Lin Shouyi's gaze slowly swept across the bookshelf in an orderly manner. He was scanning the bookshelf from left to right and from top to bottom. Each time he retrieved a book, he would definitely start reading it from the title page. After flipping through a few books, he eventually settled on a feng shui book that didn't credit an author. This book cost 400 copper coins, and Chen Ping'an also agreed to Lin Shouyi's request with a nod.

After entering the bookstore and escaping the crowded and noisy streets, Li Huai immediately returned to his naughty mischievous old self he was like a wild horse who had broken free of its leash. Because he was the youngest and shortest, he stubbornly insisted on sitting on A'Liang's shoulders to pick his book. A'Liang agreed to Li Huai's request, but he threatened to abandon him on the streets afterward if he didn't pick a book to buy.

In the end, Li Huai mustered his courage and picked a brand-new book sitting at the highest location on the shelf. This book cost nine taels and two coins, and upon seeing this price, Li Huai tried to sneakily put the book away in fright. However, his clumsy and hurried movements resulted in him failing to stuff the book back. Instead, the book fell to the floor with a thud.

The young store owner opened his eyes and glanced at the book on the floor before snapping, "You damage it, you buy it. The newest edition of 'Severed Water Cliff' nine taels and two coins."

Li Huai didn't dare to talk back to a stranger, so he could only put on a mopey face and carefully look at Chen Ping'an.

"Will you read it if I buy it?" Chen Ping'an asked.

Li Huai nodded vigorously.

Chen Ping'an smiled and said, "Then I'll buy it for you."

"Chen Ping'an, aren't you going to buy a book for yourself?" A'Liang asked.

The paying Chen Ping'an hurriedly shook his head and replied, "I can barely recognize any characters still, so what's the point of buying a book?"

Zhu He turned to his daughter and asked, "Are there any books you want to buy?"

Zhu Lu had been standing at the entrance of the bookstore the entire time. She took a sideways glance at the two bookshelves and shook her head.

The young store owner who was about to accept Chen Ping'an's payment stood up. His hair was held by an ebony hairpin, and the folded fan in his hand was bone-white in color. His gaze wandered past the little girl in red and the aloof young boy, eventually settling on the little boy who was timidly holding the book titled 'Severed Water Cliff'. There was an amused smile on his face.

A'Liang cracked a grin.

After leaving the bookstore, Chen Ping'an and the others walked toward River Viewing Street. Zhu He sensed something and looked back, only to see the remarkable-looking young man leaning against the doorway and farewelling them with his gaze. After catching Zhu He's gaze, he even smiled and nodded in acknowledgment.

Zhu He turned back and furrowed his brows. After leaving the small alley, he hurriedly walked up beside A'Liang and asked, "Senior A'Liang, is there something strange about that store owner?"

A'Liang fixed his bamboo hat and offered a genuinely strange response, saying, "Compared to him, the true troubles still lie ahead of us. However, it doesn't have anything to do with you guys."

The water in Rushing Tranquil River was the most turbulent, and this river was filled with hidden reefs and dangerous shoals as well as peculiar sights that were renowned in the official courts. In one section of the river, there were numerous stone columns of varying sizes poking out of the water, and this was referred to by the people as "bamboo shoots sprouting in spring". Only small and nimble boats could weave through this maze of stone columns, with large ships finding it much more difficult to navigate.

Even boatmen who had grown up by the rivers didn't dare to recklessly paddle their boats across this river. In fact, they would only dare to do so if they were paid a huge sum by refined scholars and literati who had come here after hearing of its reputation. Thus, there was also the saying, "boat like thin paper, boatmen like iron". Each year, a number of boatmen and outsiders would lose their lives attempting to navigate through the stone forest in this section of Rushing Tranquil River.

Tonight, many people were touring on Rushing Tranquil River.

The violent river water smashed against the protruding stone columns, yet there was a man sitting atop one of these columns with his chest and belly exposed. He lightly tossed an empty wine jar into the river. Beside him, there were still three unopened wine jars.

In the distance, a speck of red light drew closer and closer. As it turned out, this was a hunchbacked old man with a large red lantern in his hand. Using the stone columns as footholds, he lightly and gracefully bounded over like a dragonfly skimming the surface of the water.

A powerful figure suddenly descended from the sky and landed on a stone column. The stone column instantly exploded into pieces, unable to withstand his forceful landing. However, the person remained standing in the river just like that.

Elsewhere, a middle-aged woman walked over against the flow of the river in a relaxed manner. There was a snow-white and fist-sized pearl floating one meter above her head, and it was radiating with a brilliant glow that illuminated the entire bottom of the river, making it appear as if it were day.

She said in a lazy and bored voice, "I walked an entire 50 kilometers through this river, yet I didn't manage to find a single piece of treasure. Who told me there were valuable things to be found here?"

The man who was drinking atop a stone column glanced down into the bottom of the river and said indifferently, "Our lord has already arrived in Red Candle Town."Gett your avorite ovels at no/v/e/lbn(.)com

The old man swayed his red lantern and chuckled in a hoarse voice, "The lord has actually come by himself? Then why did he need the four of us to come? To sit here and cheer for him?"

The man drank a mouthful of wine and replied solemnly, "Hopefully that's the case."

1. During some Chinese dynasties, the Imperial Music Office also managed high-class brothels for imperial officials.

2. Changshan literally means long sleeves. It's a long robe, and it's a modification of the hanfu.

3. This is a saying that berates Confucian scholars who only know how to discuss theory during times of peace, yet aren't able to offer any tangible help during times of calamity. Thus, they can only use death to prove their loyalty to their emperor.

Chapter end

Chapter 31: Beating Around the Mountain
Chapter 32: Peach Leaf
Chapter 33: White Dragon Disguising as a Fish
Chapter 34: Gathered Together
Chapter 35: Licorice Root
Chapter 36: Ancient Book
Chapter 37: Fist Technique
Chapter 38: Ninth Tier
Chapter 39: Cursing the Locust Tree
Chapter 40: Returning the Courtesy
Chapter 42: Prodigy
Chapter 43: The Young Boy and the Old Dog
Chapter 44: Coming to Light
Chapter 45: Sunlight
Chapter 46: Skirt Dagger
Chapter 47: Going Alone
Chapter 48: The Hunter and the Hunted
Chapter 49: Porcelain Shard
Chapter 50 (1): One Who is Destined for Great Things
Chapter 50 (2): One Who is Destined for Great Things
Chapter 51: Confrontation
Chapter 52: Shudder
Chapter 53: Gift
Chapter 54: Facing the Enemy
Chapter 55: Feeling Proud in the Spring Breeze
Chapter 56: Nodding Bodhisattva
Chapter 57: Sword Nurturing Gourd
Chapter 58: Teacher
Chapter 59: Sleep
Chapter 60: There's a Ghost
Chapter 61: Helpless Pawn
Chapter 62: Falling Tree
Chapter 63 (1): So That's How It Is
Chapter 63 (2): So That's How It Is
Chapter 64: The Three Chens
Chapter 65: Jewel
Chapter 66: Looking Up
Chapter 67 (1): Long Journey
Chapter 67 (2): Long Journey
Chapter 68: Spring Under the Heavens
Chapter 69: Night
Chapter 70: Daylight
Chapter 71 (1): I’ll Like You for a While Longer
Chapter 71 (2): I’ll Like You for a While Longer
Chapter 72: Black Cloud
Chapter 73: Wooden Figure
Chapter 74: The Fire Dragon Roams the Water
Chapter 75: Mountain Selection
Chapter 76: Back to Back
Chapter 77: Entering the Mountains
Chapter 78: Another Dream
Chapter 79: Spring Welcome Seal
Chapter 80: Leaving the Mountains
Chapter 81: Imperial Preceptor
Chapter 82 (1): Master and Student, Senior Brother and Junio
Chapter 82 (2): Master and Student, Senior Brother and Junio
Chapter 83: Dreams
Chapter 84 (1): I Have a Sword
Chapter 84 (2): I Have a Sword
Chapter 85 (1): Conclusion of the Examination
Chapter 85 (2): Conclusion of the Examination
Chapter 86 (1): Walking the Same Path
Chapter 86 (2): Walking the Same Path
Chapter 87 (1): Little Teacher
Chapter 87 (2): Little Teacher
Chapter 88: Grand Entrance
Chapter 89: Two Heads
Chapter 90: Heavy Rain
Chapter 91: Jade Hairpin
Chapter 92 (1): Bamboo Bookcase
Chapter 92 (2): Bamboo Bookcase
Chapter 93 (1): There's a Character on the Wall
Chapter 93 (2): There's a Character on the Wall
Chapter 94: A Feast for the Eyes
Chapter 95: Too Small a Place
Chapter 96: Demons in the Mountains and Rivers
Chapter 97: Bowing to the Mountain
Chapter 98: The Meddlesome Mountain God
Chapter 99: The Mountain God and the Bamboo Saber
Chapter 100 (1): The World Beneath One's Feet
Chapter 100 (2): The World Beneath One's Feet
Chapter 101: Guard the Mountain
Chapter 102: Soaring White Ray
Chapter 103: Bamboo Building
Chapter 104: Sharing the Spoils
Chapter 105: Rootless Duckweed
Chapter 106: People from All Walks of Life
Chapter 107: Fishing Net
Chapter 108: Spring Hunting
Chapter 109: The Young Boy Has Some Words to Say
Chapter 110: All Good Things Must Come to an End
Chapter 111: Bamboo Hat
Chapter 112: Powerful Individual
Chapter 113: Unparalleled Might
Chapter 114: Seeing A'Liang Again
Chapter 115: There's an Old Scholar In the World (1)
Chapter 116: There's an Old Scholar In the World (2)
Chapter 117 (1): There's an Old Scholar In the World (3)
Chapter 117 (2): There's an Old Scholar In the World (3)
Chapter 118 (1): There's Righteousness In The World
Comic Sans MS
Font size