The ship gradually drifted away. Maple Forest Crossing disappeared from view, the scenery turning into gloomy lights, and before Li Muyang knew it his eyes were misted with tears.
Li Muyang does not like to cry.
When he felt weak, when he was bullied, he would not shed tears even more so than normal.
If someone bullies you, it just proves you’re weak.
But the moment your tears fall when you’re bullied, you’re just too cowardly.
So, Li Muyang always gritted his teeth and borne with the pain to persist, to endure.
However, when he saw his mother Luo Qi’s eyes glistening with tears as she tried her best to smile and wave to him, and the reddened eyes of father Li Yan, a reserved man, at a loss for words, and also Li Shinian desperately leaping out of the crowd hoping to catch a glimpse of him——
Li Muyang could no longer endure.
Real men have tears that don’t easily fall; but it’s just that the moment of parting has not yet come.
“Muyang brother, men should have great ambition; going to Tiandu is a golden opportunity for you to spread your wings and fly, why are you so heart-broken? Weeping endlessly is just some little girl’s attitude.” A man in a blue-green scholar outfit cupped one hand in the other, looking at Li Muyang.
Li Muyang used his sleeves to wipe away the tears in the corner of his eyes, glanced over at the man and asked: “Do we know each other?”
“Jia County’s Zhang Linpu, I think Muyang brother should have heard of it before. “Jia County is classified as a wealthy county of Jiangnan city. Although Zhang Linpu sat the exams in the county but he achieved exceptional results. Among the thousands of scholar in Jiangnan City, Zhang Linpu was able to rise above the others and enter into West Wind University. This itself is already very impressive. The status of Zhang Linpu in Jia County is the same as Cui Xiaoxin’s position in Jiangnan City.
So, he is confident that Li Muyang will certainly know who he is.
“No.” Li Muyang said bluntly.
Before he never properly studied, so he’s not aware of any secret beauties and gifted scholars in other provinces and county. Now that he’s starting to learn, he pays no attention to outside matters and just wholeheartedly studies.
Li Muyang also cupped his hand in greeting. “I’m still a little sad, I’ll cry for a while. Please leave me.”
With that, he turned and walked towards the cabins.
“So arrogant.” Zhang Linpu pointed at Li Muyang from behind and flew into a rage, his face flushing with anger as he roared: “so arrogant, he doesn’t take notice of us just because he obtained the first place in the exams and because he has the backing of the Lord of the City, he considers everyone else beneath him——-”
“So what if he’s first in the exams? Each year there’s a first in the exam, but in the end how many people have a great future? Contrary to what everyone might expect those at the bottom of the list are much more promising——”
“Of those who’d met the government ministers how many were first place in the exams? Moreover, he’s not even admitted into West Wind University but enrolled into Starry Sky Academy——”
Zhang Linpu seized the chance to launch an attack; the crowd also, one after another, echoed what he said, criticising the first place in the kingdom, Li Muyang.
The journey is long and boring, it’s always good to have some sort of things to do. Since idle is idle, they might as well do something.
Then again, they indeed have a lot of complaints against Li Muyang. How did he obtain first place in the exam? What makes him good enough for the lord of Jiangnan City to see him off?
So what if he’s first in the exams?
They crowded together for warmth, pushing Li Muyang to the outside; when he reaches Tiandu he does not know even one fellow student and has no relatives or friends to help him. All alone, even if he did well on the tests, what’s so good about him?
“A frog in a well, you do not know the vastness of Starry Sky?” A ridiculing voice echoed over.
Everyone turned around, at the corner of the deck was a short and chubby man dressed in a bright robe.
He did not try to hide his contempt, with a disdainful sneer he looked at the numerous scholars directly facing Li Muyang making cutting remarks.
“Who are you? What qualifications do you have to say that to us?”
“We are all scholars who passed the imperial exams, what’s so extraordinary about you?”
“Jia county’s Zhang Linpu. In this exam I was ranked 179th, what about brother——what did you achieve?”
“I’m not a scholar.” The fat man said, smiling. “I always feel dizzy and fall asleep when I read, I really can’t read. However, each person has different ambitions——-”
“So what high aims do you have, say it out loud for us?”
“I can’t say. I can’t say.” The fat man in bright clothes said, shaking his head. “However, I do not agree with your attacks on Li Muyang. By fighting bravely on the battlefield one could become a famous general, but of those well-known people in the history of Starry Sky, who did not have a compassionate heart? Encountered kindness yet was not happy and not even sorrowful at a parting. Are the consciences of all you people eaten by a dog?”
“Nonsense. Who are you? What right do you have to criticise us?”
“Useless waste, you have the nerve to discuss about the big names in the history of Starry Sky?”
“Wait until you’re stronger than us before you be impudent and flippant in front of us——-”
The fat man chuckled: “No wonder Li Muyang is not willing to talk to you, we’re not even people of the same world——-Thinking about this makes me sad, they say it takes hundred years of good prayers to bring two people to travel together on the same ship, I’ve been doing good deeds for years but I met you trashes? I should have encountered a beauty instead——-”
Once the fat man finished talking, he simply ignored the scholars, turned around and headed towards the cabin.
“Don’t you dare leave, I’m not done with you——–”
“This is too much, today I must let you experience my family’s secret technique, ‘Confuse Heart Fist’———”
“Eat my sword———”
The third deck of the ship was a VIP class cabin. Before the students came on board the entire floor was already reserved by a mysterious person. To let her son live comfortably in a good room on his journey, Luo Qi raised the price but still she couldn’t do anything about it. In the end she won a room on the second floor.
The entire floor was heavily guarded; besides two men in black robes guarding the top of the flight of stairs not letting anyone through, each cabin was guarded by skilled masters.
With sentries posted every few yards, it was similar to the palace and official residences.
“Why is it so noisy downstairs?” A young man wearing a black robe on the third deck asked aloud.
“Young Lord, those students had a dispute on the ship.”
“Good-for-nothing scholars.” The young man sneered out loud. “Since ancient times, scholars could only do paperworks, write beautiful articles, what else are they capable of?”
“Young lord please speak cautiously.” A wise and knowledgeable middle-aged adviser hurriedly reminded him. All members of the kingdom’s Song family were scholars; seven generations of emperor’s teacher and six generations of imperial officials, they are known as the ‘Kingdom’s library’.
The key point is that the Song family and the Royal family are related by marriage, three successive emperors had married women of the Song family. In other words, there are three empresses from the Song family controlling the harem chambers of imperial concubines.
If young lord’s words were to spread, it might offend the Song family.
“Hmm.” The black-robed youngster also knew his words were too direct. He sneered coldly but had no intention of explaining himself and instead asked: “Is everything taken care of?”
“Everything has been handled.” His trusted adviser Su Rong bowed and replied. “No one would think that we would abandon the ship in Wu Xi, then arrive in Jiangnan on horses in advance with the detainee. We departed via a passenger ship today. The military vessel that was supposed to transport the detainee would dock at Jiangnan two days later——-When they realise, it would be too late already. Moreover, on the military vessel there’s a fake prisoner to cover for us, surely they won’t find out for quite some time.”
“Very well.” The man in black robe put down the tea in his hand. “Let’s go see the kingdom’s famous iron-wall general.”
In the middle of a tightly secured cabin was a black iron cage.
A big fellow with long hair was locked inside the cage, he was blindfolded and his mouth was blocked. He cannot speak or see.
The hefty fellow’s body was stained with blood, it seems he had suffered a series of torture before he boarded the ship.
Because his hair was draped over his face, one was only able to hear his heavy breathing like a wild beast.
The solid cabin door was pushed open from the outside, a beam of light finally shined into the dark cabin.
The man in black robe stood in front of the prison vehicle, inspecting, then said aloud: “Xu general, I need to remind you that I had specially told people to make this cabin sound-proof, no matter how loud you yell, people outside will hear nothing at all——If you don’t believe me, you can give it a try.”
The prison man did not move in the slightest, as if he did not hear anything.
The man in black beckoned his hand and commanded loudly: “Remove the blindfold on the general.”
Guards stepped forward to remove the blindfold and untied the bridle chains on his lips.
“General Xu has been battling on land all along, and is a fierce tiger from the mountains. You should not get seasick, right?” The young master asked, grinning.
“Cui Zhaoren——-” The hefty guy in prisoner clothes suddenly raised his head, his eyes, as fierce as a wolf, glared at the black robe youngster and said in an angry tone: “Using baseless accusations to frame a faithful official, you should die.”
“Xu general, I treated you with respect, you are somewhat ungrateful?” The black-clothed youngster chuckled: “Besides, what do you mean by groundless accusation? I have conclusive testimony and material evidence, the emperor himself ordered the arrest——-Don’t tell me you want to defy the imperial decree?”
“All these so-called testimony and material evidence were intentionally fabricated by your monitoring department, you have immense manpower and resources, what can you not do——-”
“Since iron-wall general saw through everything, it’s really———” An evil and stern expression emerged on Cui Zhaoren’s face as he said with a smile: “I need you to cooperate with me? You just need to sign the confession statement and I can guarantee the lives of your whole family———”
“Pah!” Iron-wall general Xu Da suddenly spat out a mouthful of phlegm and let loose a torrent of abuse: “You despicable person, you commit all sorts of crimes just to attack an opponent, there’s nothing you won’t do——I would never make false charges against Lu—–I would rather die.”
“You are indeed Lu Xingkong’s hand-picked henchmen. Xu general, you’re known by everyone as iron-wall general, you have been guarding crushed dragon pool for a decade, it’s difficult for Dawu to even step into our borders——-A faithful official and loyal general like you–I know you’re not afraid to die, but are you worried that your family may die? If you can help me pull down Lu Xingkong then I can guarantee the lives of your entire Xu family, don’t you think that’s already a huge bargain?”