Here's chapter 13 early! Again this means there may not be a chapter during the weekend.
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[Chapter 13 - A scholar from Jiang Nan] The Emperor had a delightful chat with him.
When going from the capital down to Jiang Nan, Chu Yuan's hearts was filled full with concerns.
When going from Jiang Nan back to the capital, Chu Yuan's heart was also filled full with concerns.
As for the differences, the things his heart was burdened with when going down, were to prevent and defend against danger during the journey, and to guess what waves the Liu manor will make. When going back, he's more burdened with thinking how to arrange the powers in the imperial court, the imminent Xi Bei battle, and........Duan Bai Yue.
The Fen Xing is cold in his palm; no matter how long it's held in warmth, it's as if it was just taken out from ice. Chu Yuan, looked out the window, in deep thought; it seems like he remembered something, the corner of his mouth rising unconsciously.
"Your — " Eunch Si Xi, holding some fruits, pushed the door open and came in; upon seeing that he seems to be engrossed in his thoughts, he quickly swallowed the rest of his words, carefully placing the plate on the table, intending to retreat.
"Come back." Chu Yuan said, "We have something to ask you."
"Yes." Eunuch Si Xi closed the door once again.
"Dried apricots?" Chu Yuan sat by the table, picking up a dried fruit.
"Yes, it's preserved using prime honey from sophora flowers." Eunuch Si Xi said, "Your Majesty will probably think it too sweet, but this comes from the good intentions of the people; trying a fresh one will be good too."
"Bring some back to the capital." Chu Yuan said, "The Lius has fallen, and although Liu Da Jiong has nothing to do with it, he's probably uneasy inside; bring some little gifts back, it can be of some reassurance."
"Yes." Eunuch Si XI nodded, "I will go and get someone to prepare now."
"With all that has happened, the capital has become much more peaceful." Chu Yuan wiped his fingers, "When we have go back it will be the period of imperial examinations; we wonder how are the qualification of the candidates this year; if there's enough to fill up the vacancies in the court."
"No need to worry Your Majesty." Si Xi helped to massage his shoulders, "The territory of Chu is so vast, why be afraid of not being able to find someone to be officials?"
Chu Yuan nodded, but was reminded of something, and casually said: "That plum tree....."
Si Xi quickly replied: "It's planted in the cold palace right now." It's not thrown away, not thrown away.
Chu Yuan said: "Oh."
A while later, eunuch Si Xi went out and called over the stablehand, sending down the order to have someone rush back to the capital on a quick horse. Before the emperor has arrived back at the palace, the plum tree must be properly planted back.
Some noise traveled in from outside the window; Chu Yuan glanced down, and saw a group of men who look like mountain bandits, currently in chains, walking towards the local government office; the numbers are not few; people are all standing by the sides, checking out the commotion. A guard went to find out and reported back that a scholar is rushing from Jiang Nan to the capital for the imperial examinations, and met this group of bandits along the way; though they don't know how he did it, but rather than getting robbed and harmed, he even brought this bunch of men to turn themselves in at the local governmental office, earning a large reward without doing anything.
"Oh?" Chu Yuan can't hold in his laughter.
"The scholar is truly good at talking." The guard said with feeling, "The bandits have already reached the governmental office, but yet did not comprehend their situation, and kept crying and shouting to let that scholar be their leader; no one could advise them to stop."
"Where's the scholar?" Chu Yuan asked.
"According to the bystanders, after bringing the bandits to the governmental office, the scholar used the reward money to buy a few large jars of sweetmeats, and continued on his way to the capital happily." The guard said, "Is he to be brought back?"
"Never mind." Chu Yuan shook his head, "Since he's rushing for the examinations, sooner or later we will meet; we also wish to try, and see if we can identify him from all the examination scripts."
On another road, Duan Yao kicked his horse's belly, and sped up and caught up to Duan Bai Yue and walked by his side: "Are we really going back just like this?"
"Or else?" Duan Bai Yue asked.
That's of course to snatch back the person you like! Duan Yao can't understand it at all, why is he so domineering in other matters, and yet so careful and hesitant in this? Moreover they traveled thousands of li this time, just to go to the capital to help the imperial court to eliminate the illness in their midst; if even a person can't be exchanged for in return, then how can Xi Nan manor still have face, still have face, still have face.
"Ke ke!" Duan Yao cleared his throat, preparing to give a long lecture.
Duan Bai Yue swung his horse whip, and pressed forward promptly, leaving him far behind his back.
Duan Yao: "....."
This time however, Nan Mo Ya didn't return with them to Xi Nan, but stayed in Qiong Hua valley instead. Today Ye Jin went to the streets to shop; the boss of the medicine shop recognized him, and greeted him cheerfully, saying that there's a bunch of new herbs from Xi Nan, quite a few of them being weird flowers and strange grasses. As anticipated Ye Jin was interested, going in to choose and buying a big bunch; the boss helped him to pack it with a smile, and forced a book of secret martial arts on him, saying that the medicine seller sold it along with the medicine, everyone desires it in Xi Nan; it's very rare.
Ye Jin received it and opened it for a glance; the title page displayed four big black words.
The Bodhi Heart Sutra.
Of course, although the name is the same, but the moves are decidedly different; Bai Lai Cai's book will cause one to become feeble, but practicing this book can strengthen one's yang.
Ye Jin , shaking his head, stuffed it into the bottom of the bag, intending to bring it back to use as firewood.
In the capital, the incidents with Liu manor have already spread far and wide; the people all feel that this emperor is truly formidable, he hasn't ascended the throne for three full years, and already could eliminate the Liu manor which has been scheming in the court for more than ten years; all their partners in crime were caught, but no one was wrongly killed; for example the interior department's Liu Da Jiong, Lord Liu; although he is distant relatives with Liu manor, but he is still sitting nicely in the sedan as a high ranking official, and even got a plaque written by the emperor himself, hanging proudly in his hall.
He doesn't know how much the matchmakers in the capital envy him.
After Chu Yuan has returned to the palace, he hasn't rested for two days, before he called over all the departmental officials to the imperial study to discuss the imperial examination.
Shen Qian Fan is focused on martial arts, doesn't understand the matters of imperial examinations and had just recovered from a great injury, and so he has a rare moment of rest; when the weather is good he goes walking in the imperial garden, and was also thinking if he can get some time off for a trip back to Jiang Nan; apparently fourth brother has fallen and hurt his head, as his brother he should also go and visit him. But before he could finish writing his message, a report from the battles of Xi Bei was rushed day and night from eight hundred li away — after hearing that Sha Da is missing, the northern desert tribes are beginning to grow restless again, recently they have been clashing continuously with Chu's troops; the intentions are clear.
Chu Yuan sighed: "General is troubled again already."
"Your Majesty flatters." Shen Qian Fan bowed his head and received the order; on the next day he personally led the guards on the journey to Xi Bei to gather with the Chu troops, guarding the borders together.
The imperial examinations went on as expected; five days later, a selection of examination scrolls are sent to the imperial study. Chu Yuan is reading each scroll closely; there are naturally people who have memorized poems by heart and have a strong writing style, but there are not many outstanding ones either, don't even think of finding his target at first sight; he can't help but be a little disappointed.
"Your majesty." Eunuch Si Xi said outside, "Lord Tai Fu is asking for an audience."
"Let him in." Chu Yuan put down the scroll in his hand.
Tao Ren De came into the imperial study, the servant bringing a chair over as usual. Chu Yuan indicated for him not to have to greet and to have a seat, and said with a smile: "Why did Tai Fu come now, is there anything that can't be discussed in tomorrow's morning court?"
"Forgive me Your Majesty, this flouts the rules, but after this old official has considered for the better half of a day, if this examination script is unable to be seen by Your Majesty, it will truly be a waste." Tao Ren De took out a stack of folded rice paper, offering it up with both hands.
"Why this does this flout the rules?" Chu Yuan asked.
"For some unknown reason, this candidate only completed half the question." Tao Ren De said, "But the words flow fluently and freely; it's a feast to the eyes, the essay is clearly unique and scholarly, if he was able to finish writing this essay, I'm afraid that Zhuang Yuan (1) will only belong to him.
"Oh?" Chu Yuan became interested, and after reading closely laughed loudly, "What is this candidate's name?"
Tao Ren De said: "Wen Liu Nian, from Jiang Nan."
"Find and bring him over!" Chu Yuan said, "We want to personally meet him."
Tao Ren De is delighted inside, and hastily found the housekeeper after returning to his manor, asking him to quickly search for the person in the capital. The housekeeper's name is Tao Da Jin; agile in his tasks, not long after he found that candidate's inn, and personally brought men to find him.
"This sire is Master Wen?" Tao Da Jin is full of smiles.
"Who are you?" Wen Liu Nian is very vigilant.
"This servant's surname is Tao, and is the housekeeper of the manor of esteemed Tai Fu Tao Ren De." Tao Da Jin respectfully said, "My master asked me to come fetch Sir Wen, saying he has stuff to discuss."
"Ah ya, congratulations to Wen Xian Di!" (2) The housekeeper had just finished talking; before Wen Liu Nian could open his mouth, a bunch of scholars have already surged up and surrounded him, fighting and climbing over one another to squeeze in a word, and even wanted to hold his hand.
Didn't no one notice me before...Wen Liu Nian, shocked, quickly hid behind the housekeeper, and went out of the inn with him; first he was bought to the Tao manor, and along with Tao Ren De, was carried into the palace.
It's already very late in the day, but Chu Yuan is still waiting for the both of them in the study.
"This commoner greets Your Majesty." Wen Liu Nian curtsied.
After seeing him, Chu Yuan was a little surprised; because the scholar in front of him is elegant and pale, and looks to be around fifteen or sixteen. When reading that half-finished essay before, it can be seen that the way of thinking and logic is exceptional; he expected that the person behind it is at least thirty years old.
Wen Liu Nian, kneeling on the ground, thought why he hasn't been asked to rise after so long.
"Wen Liu Nian." Chu Yuan said.
"That is this commoner." Wen Liu Nian raised his head slightly.
"Rise." Chu Yuan asked a servant to bring over two chairs, and picked up that examination script along the way, "This is truly your work?"
"Yes." Wen Liu Nian nodded uneasily.
"Why were you unwilling to finish it?" Chu Yuan asked again.
How can it be said to be unwilling, I really wanted to make my ancestors proud and get Zhuang Yuan. Wen Liu Nian is in internal distress, and said honestly: "Because on the day of the examination, this commoner's stomach was not well." Before the start he had already ran towards to the toilet seven, eight times, not only were his legs tired, his head hurt too; in the end he really couldn't stand it anymore, and could only hand up his script in a hurry, and let a servant who was observing on the outside to bring him to the medical hall.
"So that's it." Chu Yuan had a moment of realization, "Tonight, stay in the palace."
Wen Liu Nian, shocked: "Ah?"
"Tomorrow morning, accompany us to the morning court." Chu Yuan raised the tip of his eyebrow, "If you have the ability to persuade those old officials, we will make you a Tan Hua." (3)
Wen Liu Nian kneeled in gratefulness, and thought regrettably, why is it only a Tan Hua.
I really want to be Zhuang Yuan.
The spy planted by Xi Nan manor, continued writing his records after returning to his residence on this day; the Emperor ate Xiao Long Bao for breakfast, and ate Yin Si noodles (4) for dinner.
And wrote, the plum tree wasn't dug up today; it's growing quite well.
And added a last sentence, invited a pale and delicate gifted scholar from Jiang Nan into the palace.
Talked very happily.
Did not sleep all night.
(1) Zhuang Yuan: 状元 - the person who is first place in the imperial examination.
(2) Xian Di: 贤弟 - how a person calls a younger man that they're good friends with.
(3) Tan Hua: 探花 - lit. look flower. Means third place in the imperial examination.
(4) Yin Si noodles: 银丝面 - lit. silver silk noodles. A traditional specialty in Jiang Su province and Shang Hai. Has very strict standards of making it.
Let me know if there's any mistakes!