When leaving the Jimo Villa, Cui Keli bowed three times on the ground towards the villa in front of the gate. When this Confucian scholar looked up, his expression had returned to normal, however, Li Ye and the others wouldn't know what he had sworn in his heart.
In the carriages carrying goods, Yang Feng held a straw plucked from the roadside in his mouth and rested his hands on the piled goods of the carriage. A tiny smile appeared on his face as he saw his fellows follow the carriages with dusty faces.
These fellows were armed with knives. Some of them were young, only in their teens and some were old, in their 30s and 40s. They were all sweating under the hot sun.
Two days ago, just like them, Yang Feng wasn't qualified to sit in a carriage, let alone ride a horse, and he could only follow the carriages with a dusty face. When the road was uneven, he had to push the carriage along. Summer was coming and the heat of the ground was rising, so he felt very uncomfortable under the sun like in the bamboo steamer.
Since his childhood, Yang Feng had been living in the carriage gang. It had been six years and nine months since the age of thirteen when he started delivering goods. And for almost ten months of every year, he was on the road, so his skin was tanned.
But from two days ago, Yang Feng didn't have to follow the carriages with a dusty face because he had successfully achieved the Warrior Mentor Realm at the night before yesterday, only one step away from the Qi-refining stage!
For the transportation of all kinds of goods and supplies, the grain gangs were responsible for the grain transportation, the river gangs were responsible for the river transportation, and of course, the carriage gangs were responsible for the road transportation.
Yang Feng felt very satisfied. There were fifty or sixty people in the carriage gang, but only the Big Master, who was in his forties, was a pract.i.tioner of Qi techniques. There were a few Warrior Mentors, but Yang Feng was the youngest.
Yang Feng turned to glance at the Big Master in the front of the team who was the only one qualified to ride a horse in the team. He was looking around warily. Yang Feng curled his lips secretly. It was impossible to have bandits on the flat and open official road in broad daylight. He had been in Jianghu for about six or seven years and he was sort of experienced in Jianghu. He had only encountered trouble in remote places and mountain roads.
However, the Big Master treated Yang Feng well and always regarded him as his son because Yang Feng was young and promising in the whole carriage gang and he was brought up by the Big Master since childhood and had a good relations.h.i.+p with the Big Master.
Yang Feng didn't remember how he got in the carriage gang. Later, he overheard someone say that he was sold by his parents on the street. That year, there were heavy drought and serious locust plague, so at least, tens of thousands of people starved to death.
Yang Feng didn't like to be treated as a son by the Big Master, however, if possible, he preferred to be treated as a son-in-law... His junior sister was bright and beautiful and he played with her from childhood. For the first time when he returned from delivering goods with the carriage gang, he bought a nice purse for his junior sister with all the money he earned. When his junior sister took the purse, she laughed happily, which made Yang Feng overjoyed.
But his master, the Big Master, beat his head so hard that it hurt for a long time.
"Feng Yang, why are you smirking? Do you feel very comfortable that you needn't follow the carriages with a dusty face? Otherwise, you won't daydream in broad daylight. Look, your saliva is flowing out! Who are you dreaming of? Is it the junior sister? Hehe..."
A guy, who was as thin as a monkey, ran from the front to the side of Yang Feng's carriage and winked at him.
Yang Feng touched the corner of his mouth, but there was no saliva on it, so he realized that he was played by Skinny Monkey. He immediately became furious and wanted to teach this guy a lesson. Skinny Monkey laughed and jumped away, causing the guys behind also laughed out loud.
"I just wanted to tell that Big Master was calling you over!"
Not waiting for Yang Feng jumping off the carriage, Skinny Monkey slipped away.
"What's so funny?" Yang Feng glared at the guys who were teasing him. However, he had always been kind to everyone, so his glare did nothing but caused their continuous banter.
"Feng Yang, I think Skinny Monkey is right that you have feelings for the junior sister, or why do you react so much?"
"Feng Yang, you should be more careful as I've heard that the junior sister was caught the eye of a childe who was born in a rich family. The other side is a pract.i.tioner of Qi techniques, so you have to work hard!"
"Feng Yang, come. Uncle He pa.s.ses you some experience so that you can win the heart of the junior sister..."
Yang Feng felt embarra.s.sed and couldn't stand anymore, so he fled immediately. Not surprisingly, there was another burst of laughter.
Yang Feng curled his lips while he was running away. A bunch of guys, who didn't have girlfriends, were talking big as if they had slept with the popular queen in Zuiyue Lou...
The fellows of the carriage gang called Yang Feng Feng Yang, but Yang Feng didn't know why they would call him this name. They called him Feng Yang not because it was read smoothly, but because they wanted to call him Feng Yang (whose p.r.o.nunciation was the same as crazy goat's in Chinese).
Yang Feng at first didn't agree to be called so, but as time pa.s.sed, he got used to it.
Running to the side of the Big Master's horse, Yang Feng looked up and said, "Master, you called me?"
With a weather-beaten face, the Big Master looked particularly old and was a little bit humpbacked. He was in his forties, but he looked like in his fifties. He had no choice because life wasn't easy. Their kind of small carriage gang belonged to the bottom of the Jianghu force in Pinglu, so it wasn't easy for them to have a job.
"This is Childe Li." The Big Master introduced the young person near the horse to Yang Feng.
"Childe Li..." Yang Feng curled his lips secretly. He had already seen the black-robed young person who was talking with the Big Master for long. He was in his twenties and looked gentle and graceful. He was definitely the youth of a rich family. Yang Feng couldn't afford to buy his clothes or the jade pendant at his waist with one year's wages.
Yang Feng didn't like this kind of childes born in rich families the most, not because he envied their extravagant lives but because they were short-sighted, domineering, very bad, and they bullied the weak.
This time the Convention of Immortals and Taoism was held in Penglai, so the Jianghu cultivators, who traveled a lot, came in an endless stream. On the road, Yang Feng had seen many this kind of childes born in rich families. Last night, when stopping at the courier station, a fellow in the carriage gang was beaten so severely that his legs were broken because he accidentally b.u.mped into a childe in splendid clothes.
At that time, Yang Feng was very angry and drew his sword. But the arrogant childe was a good-for-nothing and his cultivation was just in Warrior Master Realm, so he was beaten to be like a pig's head with his teeth knocked off by Yang Feng. In the end, he cried like a pig and said the words of a "You wait till I destroy your carriage gang" maliciously, and he was carried away in disgrace.
"Your name is Yang Feng? Good name." The black-robed childe smiled at Yang Feng.
Yang Feng stuck out his chest. "Of course. My name was given by my master. Do you know what my junior sister's name is? Her name is Yang Yun. Yang Feng and Yang Yun. The wind and the cloud are clearly a pair... (Feng means wind and Yun means cloud in Chinese.)"
"Childe Li is a distinguished guest of the Cui family. For the next few days, we happen to be traveling together, so you're responsible for receiving him," the Big Master ordered Yang Feng.
Yang Feng's expression became gloomy immediately. Of course, he knew what his master meant. The Cui family was one of the four big families in Qing Prefecture. If they could take the opportunity to get familiar with the distinguished guest of the Cui family this time, did it mean that they would do business with the Cui family in the future? This was a great opportunity. Moreover, the carriage gang was based in Qing Prefecture, so if they could make good relations with the Cui family, the carriage gang would develop and grow under the protection of the Cui family.
The overall situation was important. Although Yang Feng was young and immature and he didn't like flattery, he had to sacrifice himself for the carriage gang. Yang Feng pressed down the inherent antipathy to the rich childes and smiled reluctantly. He walked aside the horse of the black-robed childe and waited for his order.
"Brother Feng Yang is in Warrior Mentor Realm? You haven't crowned yet, but you're already in Warrior Mentor Realm, so you're good." The black-robed childe on the horseback smiled gently and spoke with modest.
"I'm too ashamed to bear your praise. I..." Yang Feng smiled. He couldn't curl his lips, but he felt disdain in his heart. "As a cultivator in Warrior Mentor Realm, I feel wronged to follow and serve you. I'm afraid that you, the rich guy, haven't reached Warrior Mentor Realm yet? You're a Warrior Knight or a Warrior Master? Alas, the world is not fair. These rich childes just have good family backgrounds."
Thinking of this, Yang Feng didn't close his mouth, but he couldn't say a word. His sight fell behind the black-robed childe and he couldn't take his eyes off it anymore. "Gosh, is it a fairy coming from heaven?"
A female Taoist in a navy blue robe was riding a horse behind the black-robed childe. She was in her twenties and had beautiful features with an untainted bearing and an otherworldly temperament. Yang Feng didn't believe that she wasn't a fairy from heaven.
Next to the female Taoist, a chubby guy, who looked so round in shape, was smiling at Yang Feng, carrying a peach wood sword on his back.
Yang Feng knew that he was impolite, so he hurriedly took back his eyes and ducked his head, but in fact, he was astonished. "There is such a beauty with such a remarkable appearance in the world! A poem says, 'there is a beauty in the north who is independent outside the secular world. She just glances at the soldiers who are guarding the city so that they abandon their weapons and the city falls; she just glances at the emperor who controls the world so that he falls in love with her and the country falls...' What the poem has described is this female Taoist in the front."
Yang Feng compared his favorite junior sister with the female Taoist, but he reluctantly found that his junior sister had no way to catch up with the female Taoist. Although his junior sister had a pretty face and she was quick-witted, there was a world of difference between her and the female Taoist...
Yang Feng's mood was bad. Yang Feng knew that he couldn't compare with the imposing childe in a black robe, but he wasn't jealous of him. After all, the appearance wasn't important for a true man. But he felt unfair that the childe was followed by such a beautiful woman. Yang Feng was a teenage Warrior Mentor and he...
Yang Feng no longer thought about it because he didn't want to feel more painful.
When stopping for a rest at noon, Yang Feng was already familiar with the black-robed childe. He found the childe somewhat different from the domineering childes he had met before. He was easy-going, well educated, and well mannered, which made Yang Feng feel better. He had a good family but low cultivation, however, he had a fairy on his side, which made people envy. But he had good virtue, so there was nothing to be jealous of.
Yang Feng was thinking so, but he immediately felt unfair again as he saw the scene in front of him.
Everyone had just found a place to sit down. The female Taoist with an otherworldly temperament brought wine and food from the back carriage to the black-robed childe and poured wine for him, acting like a maid serving a childe.
Yang Feng felt depressed and looked up, speechless. "If someone else is lucky to have such a female Taoist with superb beauty, extraordinary status, and an untainted temperament, he would fear that she would get tired, treating her like Bodhisattva, and he would cherish and dote on her. But you treat her as a maid..."
What else did Yang Feng see? When the black-robed childe turned to thank her, the otherworldly Taoist felt embarra.s.sed to duck her head and flushed. She was extremely beautiful, but she obviously looked shy... "You served him respectfully, so he should thank you, but you felt shy because of this. You're a beautiful fairy, so what about your dignity and your pride?"
Out of sight, out of mind, Yang Feng decided to bury himself in eating the dry bread. The world was in a mess, so he couldn't understand.
"Brother Feng Yang, how about drinking wine with me?" The black-robed childe gave an invitation.
Yang Feng wanted to refuse because he was annoyed that this guy didn't cherish the female Taoist and wasted money, but Yang Feng was stunned at the smell of fine wine. "The smell of the wine is rich and mellow, so how good it will be? I have never seen... No. Yang Feng, you are an indomitable man, so how can you be tempted by a gla.s.s of wine?"
Yang Feng was about to shake his head, but he saw the sincere and eager look of the black-robed childe. That was a sincere look of treating a good friend, like the breeze melting the ice and snow, which made people couldn't bear to refuse. The kind Yang Feng suddenly hesitated. "He is a childe with outstanding family background, and we're familiar with each other. It isn't good to refuse his kind invitation. What's more, I have encountered different kinds of situations, so what will be wrong with a gla.s.s of wine?"
Yang Feng didn't know how he took the wineskin. He raised his head to take a sip. Immediately, his pupils dilated. "Good wine!"
"Good wine!" Yang Feng couldn't help but praise. Wiping his mouth, he gave the wineskin back to the black-robed childe. After a few sips of wine, he became bold and generous. He felt more pleased with the black-robed childe. Most of the Jianghuers were genuine people and Yang Feng was no exception.
"Since wine is good, you should drink more." The black-robed childe beckoned so that the fairy Taoist stood up, took out another wineskin from the carriage, and handed it to Yang Feng directly.
This time, Yang Feng directly stood up to take it, but he kept looking down, not daring to look at the fairy Taoist, because he was afraid that he would flush. "It will be bad if she thinks I'm rude and feels offended. What's more, I'm not a lecher."
After drinking a lot of wine, Yang Feng gradually felt relaxed and chatted with the black-robed childe freely.
He waved his hand and hiccuped. He said to the guy whom he thought was a new Jianghuer shorted of Jianghu experience, "Everyone says that Jianghu is good, but what is good in Jianghu? You may hear a storyteller say in the wine shop and the teahouse that the sword immortal is powerful, the villa is overbearing, the sect is unstained, and the people in the sword shack where swords are made spend their whole lives making swords. But in fact, this is impossible! No matter how powerful the cultivator is, he has to eat, right? The higher his cultivation is, the more resources he will need, right? If no one in your family goes out to work, how can you have money to make swords? Is iron free? Are meals free? If you don't run errands in Jianghu, how can you have money to buy magic treasures?"
"The magic treasure is very expensive, so even the Big Master doesn't have one. The poor study at school, while the rich practice martial arts. If your family doesn't have hundreds of hectare of fertile farmland, you can't be unrestrained. The master leads you into a field, while your cultivation depends on your own hard work. Therefore, you should have a master to lead you first. Even if you have great talent, how can you cultivate without the guidance of the master? Those scholars also need to be taught to read and the poor will also eavesdrop from the school window, right? Otherwise, how can they understand the esoteric Confucian cla.s.sics? In order to gain high achievement, cultivators have to be taught by the famous teacher or the Great Cultivator, and they have to cultivate advanced cultivation methods. How much will it cost?"
"So the great forces in Jianghu are the gentry's n.o.ble families, the families with officials, or the extremely rich families in a place. Those people are really unrestrained. We are, after all, ordinary people. We cultivate for making a living! And it isn't easy to make a living. Not to mention the four big families in Qing Prefecture, we also have to flatter those who are sort of powerful. At least, if we encounter them, we have to retreat and we can't argue with them. Dare not provoke them."
"Jianghu isn't the natural and unrestrained place but the secular place. We, small potatoes, have to be careful not to provoke the great forces, while the great forces have to be careful not to provoke the military and officials. Otherwise, even if you are very powerful, you will die when the elite troops have come. There is a saying that the swordsmen always violate the law by violence. If the Jianghu cultivators kill a person, they will be wanted by the government and hid in the mountains and fled everywhere, not daring to come out! Only a very few people could be truly natural and unrestrained, such as the five big Taoist sects, Penglai, and of course, the childes like you... For the rest of people, they have to make a living and they will be urged by their families to get married, so they can't travel around and have fun all day..."
Perhaps because he talked too much, Yang Feng laughed with embarra.s.sment, pointing to the fellows of the carriage gang who lived in the open air and were travel-stained. "Forget it. When you look at these people, you will understand. I say something more. If your cultivation isn't high enough, you'd better not get involved in the Convention of Penglai Immortals and Taoism. Only the big shots will get involved in the convention. You go there to have a look, and then you should go back, lest you offend those who cannot be provoked. I've heard that there are real immortals in Penglai! They won't care about your family. If they dislike you, they will kill you upon seeing you. Only the cultivation power matters, and even the government dare not manage them!"
The black-robed childe smiled without saying anything, and he only drank wine with Yang Feng together.
Yang Feng endured for a long time, but he couldn't endure anymore, so he went to the black-robed childe's side and said in a low voice, "Childe, I find that the fairy Taoist have been peeping at you. While we're drinking wine, I've counted that she has peered at you for nine times! Does the fairy Taoist have feelings for you and fall in love with you?"
His voice was so low that he thought only the black-robed childe could hear him.
However, the fairy Taoist on the side was stunned immediately and the chopsticks in her hand dropped on the ground.
Yang Feng turned his head in surprise and saw the fairy Taoist flush to her neck and fly away swiftly... She flew away, flew away...
Looking at the fairy Taoist flying away more than 30 meters in an instant, Yang Feng was dumbfounded and swallowed hard. "She, she is really a fairy?!"
Not waiting for Yang Feng saying something more, suddenly, a shrill scream sounded near the carriage of the carriage gang.
When Yang Feng looked back in shock, he saw Skinny Monkey fall in a pool of blood.
While a stream of light pa.s.sed, the Big Master's left arm immediately left his shoulder and flew up!
A group of aggressive strong men rushed over with a murderous look, surrounding a childe in splendid clothes.
Yang Feng's limbs were stiff.