Joy of Life - Chapter 616 - Cutting Plums At Leisure[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:50:16]
Chapter 616: Cutting Plums At Leisure
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The old single horse carriage drove toward Dongyi. As the catkins gradually decreased, people gradually gathered together. Fan Xian and the Shadow silently watched the scene with uneasiness. Perhaps the Shadow was deeply moved, but Fan Xian was shocked by the sights reflected in his eyes.
No wonder Dongyi was the biggest city in the world. It covered a vast area. The two-person carriage drove for a long time through the city but was still very far from the agreed upon place. All along the way, they saw buildings of all colors mingled together and bustling people crowded among them. Goods from all over the world gathered here. Countless accents rang out on the streets. Countless people wearing different kinds of clothes were bargaining and using a sign language unfamiliar to Fan Xian.
Marketplaces of all kinds were plainly visible. Fan Xian sat in the carriage and gazed up the street. He found there was no item that couldn’t be found within this city. He couldn’t resist secretly sighing in admiration. When an outside traveler came to such a lively and bustling place, who would resist pulling out bags of silver?
The Qing Kingdom began to set up a large scale merchant port in Quanzhou over 20 years ago. It relied on the massive production power of the palace treasury to forcefully steal part of the market share from across the sea and foreigners. It not only caused the downfall of Danzhou port, but it also struck a great blow to Dongyi. The city still remained the center of the commerce world. In particular, the ships going out to sea were skilled in the art of controlling the waves and had a great deal of trade of the large land hovering far beyond the ocean. Thus, its trade had remained prosperous.
Even if the palace treasury wanted to take the sea route, it would not all go out to sea from Quanzhou. Many adventurers and merchants from across the sea were still used to using Dongyi to trade.
The change of such an attitude probably needed decades of time. After Fan Xian saw a dozen foreigners on the streets, he accepted this opinion in his heart. When he had been in Jiangnan, the farthest foreigners were willing to go to was Quanzhou, so he had not a single one.
“Do you find it very strange?” The Shadow asked from beside Fan Xian in a very low voice. “The foreigners only trust Dongyi. Whenever Qing people see these blue-eyed people, they always find it strange.”
Fan Xian smiled but didn’t say anything. In his previous life, he had once been the awesome person who had taught overnight mahjong in the foreign students building. How could he find seeing foreigners strange?
“Why don’t the foreigners trust the Qing Kingdom? At most, they were willing to stop at Quanzhou for a few days, but they’ve never entered deep into the land.” Fan Xian asked in a quiet voice. “Northern Qi has no suitable port, so that makes sense. But the Qing Kingdom has built three new ports in the Jiangnan region. The Quanzhou port has been around for more than 20 years. Why has it not completely supplanted Dongyi’s position?”
“I am not sure about that either.” The Shadow pulled down the brim of his straw hat. “I heard that the Quanzhou navy and foreigners had a good relationship over 20 years ago. Later, something happened to the Quanzhou navy. It scared many of the foreigners away.”
Fan Xian raised his brows and didn’t ask anymore. As they had been driving into the city, Fan Xian had kept his eyes and ears out. He finely savored the unique atmosphere of this marketplace, which was so different to the mainland, and gradually understood some of the reasons.
Dongyi was able to continue being the center of commerce was because its people’s nature leaned toward freedom. The words and actions of the merchants were guided by personal interests. On the street, other than officials of the government who were there to maintain the peace, there were not many official figures to be seen. Although he hadn’t had the opportunity to personally witness the specific process of the trading, Fan Xian already had a powerful sense that Dongyi’s trading had a prototype agreement. Regardless of whether it was the Master of the City or the Sword Hut, neither tried to control the actions of the merchants. They just set a few rough rules for the marketplace.
In comparison, although the commerce in the Qing Kingdom’s Jiangnan area was developed, the development and prosperity were, for the most part, because of the palace treasury. The Jiangnan commerce relied on the singular production of the palace treasury, so its prices could be completely set by the court or himself. There was little fluctuation.
The trading in Jiangnan was a business monopolized by the Qing court. Regardless of whether it was the once illustrious Ming family, Lingnan Xiong family, or Quanzhou Sun family, they were all vassals under the palace treasury. If the court wanted these families to die, they had no choice but to die. The court did not care about the sanctity of a contract with merchants.
Dongyi’s trading business stemmed from a foundation of equal trade. No power would, like the Qing court, shamelessly force such a thing. No one could be like Fan Xian, using just the power in his hands to cause the Ming family to spray blood like a fountain and suffer innumerable losses.
For merchants, this latter kind of wealth was more reliable, longer lasting, and more trustworthy.
Dongyi was like a place for the merchants of the world to gather and rule over themselves. They used their sweat or cunning to plot for advantage. Their lives and deaths were in the hands of heaven and not an imperial power.
Fan Xian pulled his gaze back from the door of a largescale merchant. An absurd feeling suddenly surged in his heart. If Dongyi actually leaned toward the Qing Kingdom, given the Emperor’s strong desire for power, how could he be willing to keep things intact for 50 years? How could he allow so many merchants to be on the land he ruled and not be under his control?
If the Qing Kingdom’s might imperial power and glory truly descended on the head of Dongyi, would this wealthy and free, or secret and filthy, large city maintain its present vitality?
Fan Xian and the Shadow chose an unremarkable inn to stay at. After settling in the carriage, they returned to the main street and mixed in with the crowds. It was still early and inconvenient to do what they wanted. So, these two people, powerful warriors each with their own thoughts, decided to imitate a woman’s situation and began, once again, to stroll through the streets of the chaotic seaside city.
Other than the groups of merchants drawn here by the shocking amounts of trade, Dongyi was also large because it gathered all kinds of strange people here. For example, the once infamous pirate Wang Qinian and, even earlier, the young lady of the Ye family and her young blind servant at her side.
With strange people, there were stories and legends. Adding in Sigu Jian, no one could guess how many lost and wandering people had come here in search of a life, or how many young Northern Qi and Qing Kingdom people had come to travel.
Even the Hu people on the grasslands and the snowy Man people from the North had come despite the tens of thousands of li. Each year was like this. Dongyi’s population grew and grew, and the city became larger and larger.
Looking at the various styles of structures on the street, Fan Xian was astonished. He thought that Shanghai Bund was no more than this. However, the Shanghai Bund had been filled with western buildings, while the Dongyi buildings were in the style of the mainland. The black flying eaves the Northern Qi had inherited from the Wei Kingdom, the Qing Kingdom’s solemn and square buildings, the round-roofed rooms from the grasslands, Nanzhao’s gilded arrow-rain towers…
It was said that Western style buildings were popular once. However, following the rise of the old Ye family, the foreigners failed completely. The trade on this large piece of land had begun to move inward.
The silk, tea, and porcelain foreigners wanted to buy, they couldn’t make. However, the valuable glass, mirrors, and other similar goods they sold could be made by the old Ye family. Furthermore, they could make them better and sell them cheaper.
Thus, the kingdoms over the seas were struggling greatly in the trading because Dongyi no longer needed their goods and requested they make their purchases with silver. If it weren’t for the large silver mine they found somewhere in the wild lands across the sea a dozen years ago, they would probably have been emptied of their treasuries by Dongyi’s crafty and ruthless merchants, as well as the Ye family that seemed to have dropped out of the sky. It would have no longer been able to support the luxurious needs of their noblemen.
After hearing Fan Xian’s sigh, the Shadow coldly said, “There is no difference between the foreigners and us except for the fact that their martial arts are like their sorcerers, pretty to look at but useless in reality. They could only go with our exploitation and cry out bitterly every year.”
Hearing these words, Fan Xian couldn’t help but smile. He still remembered the first moment he woke up in his new life. He had seen a shadow by his side flying across like a hawk instantly killing a sorcerer.
The sun had dropped slightly, but Dongyi remained as lively as ever. Although the stalls were gradually closing for the evening, the pleasure places in the center of each street began to light their red lanterns.
“Are you done looking?” The Shadow suddenly asked.
Fan Xian used his fingers to gently pull on his straw hat. After a moment of silence, he said, “Yes.”
He was a traveler from a foreign place. In this life, he couldn’t just be a simple traveler. After a rare half day of travel in Dongyi came to an end, Fan Xian had to return to the darkness, leaving behind the joys of sightseeing and pick up his black dagger.
The Shadow inclined his head slightly and turned to the right, sliding past a line of Pacific saury on ice and disappeared into a small alley. The straw hat disappeared without a trace.
The setting sun in the west lost the honor of shining on the East Sea. Separated tragically by the various tall buildings within Dongyi, it dissolved into pools of black shadow. Fan Xian walked into them and submerged all traces of himself.
Within Dongyi, the government building was lit up brightly. Although it wasn’t fully dark yet, particularly with the remaining warmth of the setting sun still shining on the high eaves of the government building, the servants in the building had already lit the lamps. It was if they were afraid of the arrival of night.
The Qing Kingdom and Northern Qi’s diplomatic groups were going to arrive in Dongyi in a few days. Everyone knew that the Great Grandmaster in the Sword Hut would decide the future direction of Dongyi after the opening of the Hut. Everyone knew that once the sword saint died, no matter what Dongyi chose, an endless night would descend for the common people who took joy in being free merchants.
Among these people, the one who was the most nervous was the Master of Dongyi. Regardless of whether Dongyi became part of the Qing Kingdom or Northern Qi’s territories, there was no longer any need for him, the Master of the City in name only.
The reason he was only the Master of the City in name was because the true master of Dongyi was Sigu Jian and the Sword Hut. He enjoyed the wealth and rank without lifting a single finger. He only acted on their behalf to carry out simple state affairs.
The Master of the City looked worriedly at the middle-aged swordsman sitting across from him and sighed faintly. “Master Yun, to say something inauspicious, the sword saint is not going to last much longer. As the first disciple of the Sword Hut, you must have some ideas.”
Yun Zhilan, the first disciple of the Sword Hut, lowered his head slightly, and maintained his silence. After a long time, he said, “Teacher has his plans. There is no need for you to be overly worried.”
“Even if I don’t worry for myself, I must worry for the people of this city.” The Master of the City stared into his eyes. “If we truly fall to the Qing Kingdom, I’ll simply go to Jingdou and be a free and leisurely marquis. Dongyi has worked hard to build itself to what it is today. Are we truly just going to give it up with both hands to the Qing Emperor, our great enemy?
Yun Zhilan knew the Master of the City was purposely speaking so pompously because he was worried that once the city broke and the Hut dispersed, there would be a problem of his escape. If he truly dared to go to Jingdou to be a free and leisurely marquis, there would be no need for him to ask him solemnly today. Everyone knew of the Qing Emperor’s ambitions and terrifying ruthlessness. If the Master of the City wanted to go be a leisurely marquis, he probably wouldn’t be one for long before being greeted with a goblet of poisonous wine.
Yun Zhilan had to admit that he had the same thoughts as the Master of the City. As a ninth-level ace, he wasn’t worried about his future after the city fell. Even the Qing Emperor would probably express his welcome. However, he had grown up in Dongyi and felt a love and a sense of belonging from the deepest parts of his soul toward the city and Sword Hut. No matter what, he could not accept that Dongyi would fall without a fight and be claimed into the Qing territory.
Of course, it would be the best for the future of Dongyi if it could remain outside of the two powers. If matters were irreversible, Yun Zhilan would rather join together with the comparatively weaker Northern Qi to oppose the Qing Kingdom together.
Yun Zhilan furrowed his brows slightly. His eyelids fluttered weakly a few times, revealing two streaks of cold light flashing through them. He knew there was an important figure in the Sword Hut having an important conversation with his teacher.
If this negotiation was successful, then Dongyi would stand out bravely and carry out the most decisive resistance against the Qing Kingdom.
Yun Zhilan raised his eyes. Looking the Master of the City, he said, “Some will not surrender.”
The Master of the City was startled slightly, as if he had not expected the reply to be so straightforward. To speak truthfully, the Master of the City had been in a state of unrest two years.
He looked at Yun Zhilan with hesitation and said, “What does the sword saint intend? I have not seen him in two years.”
Yun Zhilan did not reply to this question. His expression was slightly strange. Even he, the first disciple of the Sword Hut, did not know what his teacher was thinking. Were they going to fight or surrender?
He immediately calmed down as he thought of the important figure in the Sword Hut. Taking a deep breath, he said, “Presumably, teacher also does not wish for his life’s word to be ruined.”
The Master of the City locked his brows together tightly. Glancing at Yun Zhilan, he said, “Everyone in the world knows the sword saint had been injured two and a half years ago at the hands of the Qing Emperor on Dong Mountain. Originally, us common people believed that he would certainly not lean toward the Qing Kingdom. However, there has been news gradually emerging these two years that Thirteenth Wang, the sword saint’s last disciple, was close to the Qing Kingdom’s Fan Xian. I wonder if you have any opinions on this matter.”
After hearing this, Yun Zhilan’s expression became serious. He said sternly, “Thirteenth Wang is my brother disciple. All his actions are directed by our teacher.”
“It is because his friendship with Fan Xian is directed by the sword saint that I am worried,” the Master of the City looked said seriously.
Yun Zhilan fell silent. In the past, he had also felt a boundless chill about this arrangement. He had never thought his proud and ruthless teacher would, before his death, be satisfied in tossing aside his deep hatred to have secret contact with the Qing Kingdom.
Thirteenth Wang, ah… He sighed in his heart and thought, I have no objections toward you. Even if our teacher has you take over the Sword Hut, I will obey you, but…
The lantern on the table suddenly flickered and cast an unsteady darkness across Yun Zhilan’s cold face. He knew the most important thing at this time was to not allow the Qing people to disrupt the important negotiation in the Sword Hut. Outside the Sword Hut, he had already arranged for countless aces to hide in ambush. He also had many powerful warriors outside the plum garden.
Yun Zhilan raised his wine cup and took a shallow sip. “I have already made arrangements with Thirteenth Wang. Please be at ease.”
The Master of the City furrowed his brows and said, “That is good. It is fine as long as the Qing Kingdom’s Fan Xian doesn’t come personally.”
“Sir Fan junior is still on the road.” Yun Zhilan’s eyes were solemn. Calmly and resolutely, he said, “If he dares to go find my brother disciple on his own, I will have him stay there forever.”
Fan Xian had already arrived. Furthermore, he and the Shadow had enjoyed the flying eaves buildings of the government like tourists. No one in Dongyi knew about this. At the same time, Fan Xian did not know that the first disciple of the Sword Hut, Yun Zhilan, had done all he could to protect the Sword Hut because of his loyalty to Dongyi and himself. He would keep the people from the Qing Kingdom on this land forever, even if it meant hurting Thirteenth Wang.
As night fell, Fan Xian came to a courtyard near the outskirts of Dongyi. Looking at the green banner hanging above the low wall, he couldn’t resist smiling. At this time, he didn’t go straight up to the door and knock. Instead, he made a few rounds and slipped through from a plum garden behind it to see Thirteenth Wang, who had been waiting for him this whole time.
Walking through the plum trees, Fan Xian stopped his steps when he was about five or six steps away from the door. He didn’t hear the sound of a dog barking from inside the courtyard. Thirteenth Wang had once told him, as they chatted casually, that he had a local dog with the sharpest nose.
Dogs could be made into a dog meat hotpot, but plums could not fall singularly.
Fan Xian’s finger rose slightly as his eyelids lowered. Staring at the plum in front of his feet, he knew there was an ambush and that the people lying in wait were all aces. When his figure paused, he felt a wind sweep pass his body and cut down a plum. Immediately after, powerful sword intent seeped out from all around him.
He didn’t know why Thirteenth Wang had not warned him. He only sensed clearly that Dongyi did indeed mass-produce ninth-level swordsmen.