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unsheathed – Chapter 105: Rootless Duckweed

Chapter 105: Rootless Duckweed

Chapter 105: Rootless Duckweed

Red Candle Town was surrounded by a tall wall, and Chen Ping'an and the others needed to enter the town from the northern gate. However, they quickly came across trouble, with the armored soldiers at the gate telling them that they needed to produce identification and visiting documents if they wanted to enter. Chen Ping'an was stupefied upon hearing this he had absolutely no idea what identification and visiting documents were.

A'Liang had already received a gold ingot from Chen Ping'an a while ago, and he was all smiles as he retrieved a crinkled document from his clothes. After passing inspection, A'Liang abandoned even the white donkey as he swaggered into town by himself. When he arrived at the town gate, he didn't forget to wave goodbye to his flabbergasted companions. This caused Li Huai to let loose a torrent of abuse, saying that he would slaughter the white donkey. A'Liang laughed loudly as he walked into town.

Zhu He was at a complete loss. Before leaving the small town, the clan patriarch hadn't discussed these matters with him. In fact, Zhu He knew absolutely nothing about the outside world. In this sense, he was no better than Chen Ping'an. As for hiking through the wilderness and setting up camps, he was even more inferior than the impoverished young boy. A thought suddenly occurred to Zhu He, and he remembered that money was sometimes the best way to convince others. This was most likely the same in all places.

With this in mind, he secretly offered some loose silver to a soldier guarding the gate. To his surprise, however, the young and sturdy soldier immediately pointed his spear at his chest before scolding him in anger. Even the normally good-tempered Zhu He couldn't help but feel slightly angry. He was a Fifth Tier martial artist, so if he joined the army, it was entirely possible for him to become a middle-ranking general.

However, just as Zhu He was about to start arguing with the soldier, Zhu Lu lightly tugged his arm and quietly reminded him, "Father, the army of the Great Li Empire has extremely clear-cut military laws. Moreover, these rules are peculiar in the sense that the punishments are either extremely light or extremely severe. So, it's not a good idea to get into an argument with these soldiers. Otherwise, commoners like us will definitely come out worse for wear."

Zhu He frowned before humphing coldly and eventually deciding not to argue with the soldiers.

Zhu Lu comforted him in a soft voice, saying, "Father, let's ask the clan patriarch to find you an official position in the future. With this status and your cultivation base, I'm sure that you'll be able to make a name for yourself in no time. When that day comes, will you still have to swallow your anger like this?"

Zhu He nodded in understanding as he strode away. He then glanced back at the soldiers and sneered, "So the saying really is true. The lord of the underworld is easy to meet, but his subordinates and underlings are extremely difficult to deal with."

Everyone instinctively turned to Chen Ping'an.

Chen Ping'an pondered for a moment before saying slowly, "If push comes to shove, we can only choose to detour around Red Candle Town and camp outside tonight. We can also hire some people to buy the necessary food and goods for us. However, the biggest problem is the fact that we can't access the dock inside the town. This will force us to change our original plans. Instead of traveling north down Embroidered Flower River for 100 kilometers, we'll instead have to walk to our destination on foot. This will be far more tiring than taking a boat, and we'll also have to cover more distance."

Right at this moment, a middle-aged man in cyan official garb briskly walked out from the town gate and carefully looked Chen Ping'an and the others up and down. In the end, he looked at Zhu He and clasped his hands in greeting before asking, "I'm Cheng Sheng, the current relay station deputy at Red Candle Town's Pillow Relay Station. Dare I ask, are you Mr. Zhu He from Dragon Spring County?"

Zhu He remained silent, and there was a cautious expression on his face.

The self-proclaimed relay station deputy chuckled heartily and explained, "Your clan leader wrote a letter and directly mailed it to our county magistrate. He roughly outlined your plans and itinerary, and he asked our county magistrate to be a good host and help you to the best of his abilities. Apart from that, other letters from your family and friends have also arrived at the Pillow Relay Station.

"I especially organized a place for your group to stay 10 days ago, and I can only guarantee that it's relatively clean and tidy. However, I don't dare to say that it's a luxurious place to live. Please forgive me for this, and please don't complain to the county magistrate about this. Otherwise, if the lord becomes unhappy, I'm afraid I'll be out of work tomorrow."

The relay station deputy suddenly remembered something, and he added, "If Mr. Zhu doesn't believe me, I can call someone over from the relay resting station right away. This person is from Dragon Spring County's Fortune Street, and he even said that he's worked for the kiln supervision official before. In fact, one of the letters from the capital was personally brought over by him, and he said that he needs to personally hand it over to a young master called Lin Shouyi."

Lin Shouyi walked forward with the proud expression of a wealthy noble descendant, and he asked, "I'm Lin Shouyi from Dragon Spring County. Dare I ask, relay station deputy, what's that person's name?"

The maidservant Zhu Lu was slightly dazed. At this moment, Lin Shouyi appeared completely different from the quiet and aloof young boy in her impressions.

Li Baoping and Li Huai exchanged a quick glance before softly nodding to themselves.

There was no hesitation in the relay station deputy's voice as he replied, "If I remember correctly, his name should be Tang Shutou. He's around 40 years old, and he's not very adept at the official dialect of the Great Li Empire. Mhm, he especially likes drinking, but his temper after drinking..."

Lin Shouyi nodded before casually asking, "Have you been waiting for us at the southern gates for the past few days?"

The man smiled and replied, "Even though I want to say yes, I'm truly not shameless enough to do so. Truth be told, Pillow Relay Station is located in the north of Red Candle Town, and not far from here, there's a beacon tower on a mountain peak close to another small town. I have a good relationship with the official there, so I asked him to keep an eye on the nearby relay road for me. Once he saw Young Master Lin and Mr. Zhu pass, he would dispatch one of his subordinates to enter the town and notify me."

A look of realization spread across Lin Shouyi's face. He didn't say anything else, and he turned around to look at Chen Ping'an. Chen Ping'an nodded at him.

Zhu He smiled and thanked the relay station deputy, saying, "Thank you for going to all this trouble for us, Lord Cheng."

Cheng Sheng hurriedly waved his hands and said, "Please don't refer to me as lord. I'm nothing but a subordinate who's responsible for serving nobles and other esteemed guests. I'm truly not worthy of such a lofty title. Alright, enough chit chat for now. I'll notify the garrison soldiers first, and I'm sure that they'll let you into our small town in no time."

The position of relay station deputy was subordinate to the Great Li Empire's imperial court, but it couldn't be regarded as an official position of the imperial court. These positions were lowly, and there was a huge gulf between them and the officials in the imperial court.

It wasn't long before Cheng Sheng led them to the town gate. Even though the soldiers let them pass, the expressions on their faces still remained solemn and unfriendly.

Cheng Sheng walked out of the shady and cool gate in the town wall first, and he turned to Zhu He and explained in a low voice, "The garrison soldiers are all retired soldiers from the front lines. Their abilities are only so-so, but they're truly stubborn and inflexible people. Sometimes, even the county magistrate is unable to deal with them. Mr. Zhu, please don't take offense at their actions."

Even though Zhu He wasn't a well-traveled person, he at the very least understood the notion of not engaging in deep conversations with unfamiliar people. Thus, he didn't offer a reply.

They walked past a chilly shop where young and strong men continued to walk in and out. From time to time, a flash of white would also light up inside the shop.

Li Huai's eyes were drawn to this shop, so much so that he refused to budge another step. Zhu He couldn't help but glance over as well. However, he quickly lost interest.

"This is a weapon shop that specializes in swords and sabers," Cheng Sheng explained. "In terms of other weapons, they do occasionally sell some as well."

"Doesn't the government care? Are they not afraid of the commoners wielding weapons and brawling?" Lin Shouyi asked in curiosity.

The relay station deputy smiled and replied, "The government doesn't care too much about these things. However, if conflicts really do occur, the government will treat it with utmost seriousness. If there aren't enough officials and soldiers, then the county magistrate will mobilize all the sects in his jurisdiction to help."

Martial arts were extremely mainstream in the Great Li Empire, and there were numerous adventurers who traveled around with their swords or sabers. There were also overconfident city scoundrels, as there were noble descendants who fought for righteous causes. Even though the imperial court prohibited all sales of arms, they were largely lax in the application of this law when it came to the sales of lower-quality blades. At the end of the day, this was all dependent on the attitude of the local officials.

If the officials were scholarly people, they would most likely apply this law in a strict and inflexible manner. If they were martial artists who had been on the front lines, however, they would often turn a blind eye to the sales of arms. Of course, the trade of powerful bows, high-quality armor, and so on was all strictly prohibited in all places.

Red Candle Town had everything that one could wish for beacon towers, relay stations, markets, taverns, brothels, theaters, and so on. This was a bustling town whose streets were filled with people. Compared to the small town that Chen Ping'an and the others were from, Red Candle Town was far more lively and boisterous. There were all kinds of stands and shops on the streets, and the sounds of hollering and haggling rose and fell.

They chatted as they walked, and after around 15 minutes, they arrived at Pillow Relay Station. Workers from the relay station quickly came over to take the white donkey and horse away for them. Sure enough, Cheng Sheng had organized some rooms for them to stay in, with both good-quality rooms and medium-quality rooms. However, he hadn't decided how to split the rooms for them, and he had instead given the five rooms to Zhu He to let them decide among themselves.

Under Chen Ping'an's arrangement, Li Baoping would share a good-quality room with Zhu Lu, while Zhu He would stay in a good-quality room by himself. As for himself, Li Huai, and Lin Shouyi, they would each stay in a medium-quality room by themselves. If A'Liang decided to return, he could choose any one of their rooms to stay in. Of course, with his temperament, he would definitely ask if he could stay in the same room as Zhu Lu. At that time, Zhu Lu would most likely roll her eyes at him.

Twilight fell, and everyone gathered in Zhu He's spacious good-quality room after putting their luggage away. Cheng Sheng quickly delivered a stack of letters to them, and he smiled and took his leave after doing this. He said that they could call for him whenever they needed. He also told them that Red Candle Town's night market was relatively renowned in the northern regions of the Great Li Empire. If they had the opportunity, it was definitely worth taking a look.

There was one letter for Lin Shouyi, and there were three letters for Li Baoping, the most out of all of them. Surprisingly, even Chen Ping'an had a letter. However, Li Huai was left empty-handed. In the end, he walked up to Zhu Lu who was in a similar situation and chuckled, "Thankfully we're not alone."

Zhu Lu pretended not to hear him, and she walked to the window to gaze outside. Pillow Relay Station wasn't large, but there were many winding roads that led deep inside, surprisingly making it feel like the garden of a wealthy clan that was deep and refined. Looking out from the window, she could see a small lake that appeared as if it were only as large as a palm. This was a lake that housed numerous fat koi that were both red and yellow in color.

Lin Shouyi's letter was only a single sheet of paper with few words, and the young boy took a deep breath before placing the letter back inside its envelope. He wore a dark expression as he left the room, with his grip on the letter extremely tight. Apart from the 30-odd characters that were scribbled and perfunctory, there was also a bank note worth 300 taels of silver in the envelope this was the largest banknote one could obtain in the Great Li Empire.

The young boy strode back to his room before lightly closing the door and placing the envelope on the table. He had an angry expression, and his chest rose and fell in an irregular manner.

Chen Ping'an picked a quiet place to sit down. Li Baoping ran over, and it looked like she wanted to say something to him but didn't know where to start. Chen Ping'an smiled and said, "I'll definitely ask you if there are any characters that I don't recognize."

Only after hearing this did Li Baoping return to the table. She started to open her letters, which had been sent by her father, her eldest brother, and her second brother.Finndd the newst ovels on n//velbin(.)com

Li Baoping opened her letters one after another. Her father's letter asked her how she was doing, and as usual, he didn't appear strict in the least. Instead, he was telling her to take care among other trivial matters. For example, the weather was getting cold now, so she needed to remember to wear more clothes. While she was still traveling around, she also didn't need to be afraid of spending too much money. Every time she arrived at a relay station, she definitely needed to write letters back to her parents as well.

Her father had written endlessly about these matters, and the five or six sheets of paper were filled up just like that. Li Baoping sighed and looked up at Zhu He who was sitting opposite her and sipping tea. "When will father and mother stop treating me like a little child?" she asked gloomily.

Zhu He could barely hide his amusement. Drink tea, drink tea.

Li Baoping started to read the second letter. This was from her eldest brother. He wrote that he was studying scriptures and classical works at home now, and he was preparing to attend the imperial examination next year. The contents of the letter were simple and concise, and his handwriting was also legible and neat. It was as if these characters were virtuous people sitting in an upright manner, with each stroke exuding a sense of care and caution.

His letter was also filled with the profound teachings of sages, and he told her not to be impolite to Zhu He and Zhu Lu she shouldn't view them as mere servants. He also said that she should listen to Chen Ping'an more often, and that she should learn how to be more resilient and hard-working. That way, she wouldn't be a burden to others. Only at the end of the letter did this rule-abiding older brother tell her that he had already become skilled at raising the crab that she had caught from the creek and brought home. She could be at ease.

Li Baoping waved the letter in the air and complained to Zhu He, "Big brother cares about me the least!"

Zhu He suppressed his laughter. Young Mistress, enough with the acting. Who in the Li Clan doesn't know that your eldest brother cares about you the most?

This was a bookworm that would give even the patriarch a headache when he started to talk about all the profound principles and reasoning. In fact, the first time he had drunk alcohol was when his little sister had secretly swapped his tea for spring peach blossom wine that their clan had brewed. He was so furious that he almost had a mental breakdown, and even his parents were afraid and didn't dare to calm him down. They only dared to follow after him as he stormed off to look for his little sister, afraid that their stubborn son would dish out physical punishment to Little Baoping.

However, when he arrived at the courtyard, he had seen the little girl standing there with her hands on her hips and with an expression of resignation. He couldn't bring himself to scold her, and this had left him feeling even more angry. In the end, he had turned around and left, and he had simmered with anger for several days. That year, he decided to bury a jar of spring peach blossom wine in his courtyard.

When Li Baoping asked about it, he said that it was wine for when he married her out. The little girl had been terrified, so much so that she had snuck out from home and wandered around Dragon Whisker Creek for an entire day. In fact, she had almost run into the mountains to hide.

The patriarch of the Li Clan was enraged when he learned about Li Baoping's disappearance, and he ordered everyone to spread out to look for the foolish little girl. In the end, it was her eldest brother who had righted his wrong and found her in a small shrine on the opposite side of the creek. The poor little girl had been sleeping on a long wooden bench. After finding her, he had carried her home.

Li Baoping suddenly smiled and said, "However, I still like big brother the most."

The final letter was a thick stack of paper from her second brother. He described his experiences in the capital, and these were all stories about the peculiar things that he had personally witnessed or heard. His manner of writing was elegant, and it was clear that he had put a lot of work into this area. It was as if he were a skilled poet.

In the Li Clan, this second young master was more popular than his older brother. He was handsome and graceful, and his manner of speech was also gentle and refined. He liked to read books on the art of war, and he had liked to simulate "battle" with the servants from a very young age. Compared to his stubborn and inflexible older brother, people in the residence preferred to interact with this open and cheerful second young master. When festivals came along, he would also toss a hefty pouch of coins to everyone who he came across. If they offered auspicious words that he enjoyed, he would even reward them with an extra pouch of coins.

Li Baoping read through the letter extremely quickly, and when she read up to the second-last sheet of paper, she looked up at Zhu Lu and said, "Second Brother mentioned you. Regarding the beacon towers that you two discussed before, he said that he personally witnessed the beacon towers lighting signals to notify the capital that everything was fine when camping on a mountain peak one night. Looking at it from afar, he said it was as if he were looking at a majestic dragon of flames."

Zhu Lu hurriedly walked over to the table and asked, "Young Mistress, did he say anything else?"

Li Baoping directly handed the stack of paper to Zhu Lu. Her second brother had only written about the peculiar things that he had witnessed, so there wasn't any need for her to hide these from others.

Zhu Lu accepted the letter and asked, "Can I bring it back with me to read slowly?"

As long as you don't lose it," Li Baoping replied with a nod.

Zhu Lu left with a delighted smile.

The relay station deputy knocked on the door and entered, carrying a plate of fresh fruit and seeds in his hands.

A man wearing a bamboo hat walked in after him.

Li Huai was infuriated, and he immediately ran over and tried to push this heartless bastard out of the room.

A'Liang sat down on a chair next to the table as he pushed and shoved with Li Huai, and he said with a playful smile, "What's going on, Zhu Lu? Why do you have such a cheerful and charming expression? You look even more beautiful than normal."

Zhu He had a dark expression and didn't say anything.

Lin Shouyi returned and sat down close to Chen Ping'an. A'Liang tossed his small silver gourd to him, and the young boy caught it and took off the cap before taking a swig.

A'Liang turned to Cheng Sheng and asked, "Does Red Candle Town have an inlet called the Fu Inlet? And it isn't too far away from the dock?"

"Indeed," Cheng Sheng nodded and said. However, there was a strange expression on his face.

A'Liang clucked his tongue in wonder and remarked, "That's a money sink, I tell you, a money sink."

There was a crescent-shaped river bend in Red Candle Town, and this was where the exquisite decorated boats that were unique to the town could be found. These boats were only six to nine meters in length, and decorative purple bamboo strips or ordinary green bamboo strips would be hung around the outside of them. In terms of the internal decoration of these decorated boats, this would be decided by the wealth of their owner.

Each boat would carry two to three women, with most of them being beautiful ladies or those who were youthful and charming. These women would be skilled in at least one or two areas of musical instruments, Go, calligraphy, painting, tea art, or wine art. Apart from a refined seated area to enjoy the scenery, there was also a bedroom on these boats for obvious purposes.

These "boat hostesses" were lowly citizens of the Great Li Empire, and they would remain so for generation after generation. According to the legends, they were refugees from the overthrown Divine Water Nation. The emperor of the Great Li Empire had once issued an imperial decree forbidding them from ever going onshore they were destined to be like rootless duckweed for generation after generation.

Meanwhile, the residents of Red Candle Town also passed down a story that sang the praises of Wei Bo's actions. They lauded this mountain lord of Go Table Mountain for being loyal and upright, and this was because he had secretly protected their ancestors as they had fled from their war-torn homeland. However, this had enraged the emperor of the Great Li Empire and caused Wei Bo to be demoted from a mountain god to a mountain lord. At the same time, the emperor had also ordered the descendants of several clans to personally smash the statues of this mountain lord and throw the scraps into the river.

Cheng Sheng carefully chose his words and cautiously picked some harmless stories to tell his esteemed guests.

Red Candle Town couldn't be regarded as a main hub linking the north and south of the Great Li Empire, but it was indeed a busy dock where numerous ships came and went, bringing specialities from all corners of the empire. This was a town where three rivers converged together Rushing Tranquil River, Embroidered Flower River, and Fine Wine River. However, there were only two river gods, and each river god had a shrine built on the banks, inside which their golden statues rested. They were both navy commanders of the Great Li Empire who had been killed in that battle on the water.

Only Rushing Tranquil River didn't have a river god or shrine. A popular goddess shrine had appeared on the riverbank before, and this was a shrine that had worshipped a heroic woman from the small town who had committed suicide in the river to prove her chastity. However, the Great Li Empire had quickly declared this to be an illegal shrine and had it demolished. It lay in ruins now, and only snakes and rats continued to scurry through it.

When he heard the legend about the mountain lord of Go Table Mountain, Li Huai couldn't help but sigh and say in soft voice, "Who knew that the big baddy had such a good reputation in Red Candle Town?"

"We all have our burdens to bear, and every family has its hardships to face," Lin Shouyi commented with a nonchalant expression.

Chen Ping'an put away the letter delivered to him by Ruan Xiu.

In the letter, Ruan Xiu told him that Downtrodden Mountain had successfully gained a newly appointed mountain god who would help guard the mountain and gather spiritual energy. She also said that Downtrodden Mountain was only inferior to Cloud Drape Mountain and her father's Lamp Bearer Mountain.

Chapter end

<<Prev
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Catalogue
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
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