This chapter has been brought to you by me, and larkspur.
Chapter 38: He Watches The Scenery From The Tower
Jing Liuli was puzzled, but when she thought of how Ding Ning would be under her eyes, she stopped thinking about the matter and said slowly, “While I do not know the history between you and the Xie Family, but Xie Changsheng fearing the Xie Family does not dare to spend more money is for nothing. The burnt-tail letters of the Xie Family are letters to repay favors. All the Guanzhong people who have received the Xie Family’s help in the past will do their best to help, so the Xie Family will not skimp on money.”
“He worries too much, but at least, he values friendship higher than anything else.” Ding Ning looked at the fiery red pearl in his hand and said seriously, “This is one of his best traits.”
Jing Liuli frowned slightly. She thought of that person’s performance in the Min Mountain Sword Trials and felt that Ding Ning was not completely wrong.
Ding Ning smiled inexplicably, and asked looking at Jing Liuli who wore ordinary robes, “Why are you not wearing the Min Mountain Sword Sect uniform?”
“If I do, people will easily discern who I am. Not because of my cultivation, but because of my status, not many would dare to provoke me. It will be inconvenient to act when one attracts too much attention,” Jing Liuli said, looking at Ding Ning. “Also, no one would dislike having more actual battle experience.”
Ding Ning smiled. “In a place like Changling, it is easy to cause trouble and fighting. Just do not dislike me for using you when the time comes.”
Jing Liuli raised an eyebrow and her expression grew serious. “Since I am learning from you, I will be your student for this period of time. I will do what you tell me to do.”
Ding Ning thought and said, “Even have you dig soil and plant flowers?”
Jing Liuli glanced at him and said crisply, “Dig where, plant what flowers?”
Ding Ning laughed, looking at her. “Your sword is too eye-catching and sharp. You have to put it away as well.”
Being casual would not attract people’s attention. No one would think that Jing Liuli, this genius so important to Min Mountain Sword Sect’s future, would enter Changling alone without even a carriage or an accompanying teacher.
As far as anyone knew, especially the truly important people of Changling, Jing Liuli was always followed by the quickest sword in Min Mountain Sword Sect, Tantai Guanjian. In their view, Tantai Guanjian was always with Jing Liuli, not to teach, but shield her.
Jing Liuli herself had ways to conceal her movements. So, even a person like Palace Attendant Rong whose gaze could reach many corners of Changling did not know that Jing Liuli had already left Min Mountain Sword Sect and entered Ink Garden alone.
Palace Attendant Rong’s daily life was not as boring as ordinary palace attendants. From a certain perspective, she was a shadow of Empress Zheng, a standalone will who moved through Changling.
She frequently left the imperial palace, and sometimes even went to Jiaodong Commandery to take care of very secret matters. So she usually did not stay in the palace. Her usual residence was near the Celestial Vine Alley in the south of the city where many families of palace attendants lived.
Her courtyard was not large, but it was at the best spot in this alley. There was a spring near the front of her courtyard, and her abode was the one highest upstream of a stream that fed into the spring.
The attendant who served her had done so for many years, so she knew the preferences of this important personage of the palace. She knew that this important person liked to have iced drinks after waking up in the morning. So, in the mornings of hot summers, she would fetch some spring water to make lotus or mung bean soup, and then cool the soup with ice.
Drinking an iced beverage before eating fruits and vegetables in the morning was Palace Attendant Rong’s habit of many years.
When habits formed, they became natural.
Before the sun rose in the morning, Palace Attendant Rong dressed herself impeccably and walked into the courtyard to sit under the grape vines. She lifted the bamboo cover over the morning pastries. When her hand touched the clear mung bean soup, her brows instinctively furrowed.
Before she spoke, the slightly worried attendant reported in a low voice. “It is a coincidence but the Li Ice House in the south city closed, and the more distant ice house in the west finished selling their ice. So ice has been hard to find.”
People would feel displeased when something that had become natural to them was disrupted. Also, Palace Attendant Rong knew very well what it meant when an ice house which could supply many rich households for a summer sold out.
She could easily connect this to the burnt-tail letters of the Guanzhong Xie Family.
“They spend money like water so i cannot drink iced mung bean soup?”
Her porcelain face showed no anger. When she slowly lifted the mung bean soup cooled in spring water, a sneer appeared. “These Guanzhong people have interesting minds.”
A bowl of iced mung bean soul could only give her momentary displeasure, and in her view, could not affect anything. Yet just as she spoke and raised the bowl to drink, her nose sniffed and then she frowned.
“What smell is this, so bad!”
The attendant next to her instinctively covered her nose and mouth as she spoke.
Many curses came out of this quiet alley along with the sounds of doors being pushed open.
Palace Attendant Rong was a powerful cultivator so she knew what had happened without even going out the door.
Multiple caravans were passing by the nearby alley.
The alley where the caravans were moving was perfectly upwind. The caravans were transporting ordinary items, but the weather was hot so the horses naturally gave off an odor.
A worse stench came from the excrement bags behind each horse.
The horse excrement gave off a scent that caused the grapes growing in the courtyard to smell like they were fermenting. People would unconsciously feel that they had a rotten presence like rice left overnight in water.
Palace Attendant Rong heard more curses. Her gaze darkened, and her expression grew ugly.
Those people who had pushed open the door to talk to the caravan would not get any results.
There were no problems with the caravans. Even the smelly excrement bags were necessary items for moving through the city. The purpose of each bag was to contain the horse excrement the horses produced when travelling so the excremement would not fall randomly onto the street.
The alleys the caravans were travelling through were their usual paths. The people in the nearby alleys had no reason to stop the caravans.
The key was, there would not be so many caravans usually, and perfectly at this time. Even more importantly, the excrement the horses produced was especially smelly. They had clearly eaten some special feed.
Someone able to recklessly buy the ice of an entire ice house could naturally have caravans make a detour around her occasionally.
This was a lowly and shameless tactic which only influenced her mood. Yet something like this occurred not long after the Xie Family sent the burnt-tail letters. This meant that all these actions were targeted towards her.
After several breaths, she looked up, and stopped the attendant preparing to go argue with the caravans. She had the other prepare a carriage.
Since the empress had promised her safety, she knew that as long as she did not accept to fight Ding Ning, she did not have to worry about her safety. She knew if these people from Guanzhong became shameless, they would have numerous tactics she could not think of. Even if she took care of these present troubles, there would be more troubles.
Since they did not want her to eat breakfast here in peace, she would change places. Changling was so large. Would the Guanzhong people be able to fill the city with caravans?
She left the courtyard and boarded the carriage.
No accidents occurred. The carriage left the smelly alley and headed towards some remote and quiet alleys.
There were many elegant food shops in this alley.
Yet before her carriage could drive into this alley, a man in short robes, who looked very rough, walked by each shop, paying each shop owner the equivalent to many days of profit just for the shops to close today and not do business.
Some of the guests eating in these shops also received generous compensations and were pleased.
The only person displeased was Palace Attendant Rong.
When her carriage headed into this small alley, the alley grew quieter as all the shops closed.
She was like a plague. Everywhere she passed seemed to become a dead area.
The sun was bright and hot.
When the carriage driver was at a loss what to do, she said after a moment of silence, “Go to Happiness Tower.”
Happiness Tower was one of the most famous restaurants in Changling, and belonged to the Jiaodong Commandery. She did not believe those Guanzhong people could stop her from drinking in that restaurant.
The carriage driver was familiar with that location and the wheels seemed to grow light again. When they were at a strone bridge not far from the restaurant, the carriage wheels jumped lightly as though they were going to fly.
But at this time, Palace Attendant Rong suddenly lifted her head inside the cabin.
She heard the sound of hoofbeats.
Previously, the places she had travelled had been dead like a plague had arrived, but now, the streets she travelled were very busy.
In many of the surrounding alleys, caravans appeared. These caravans seemed to be in a hurry and were fighting over the road.
So, in a short moment, the roads around her carriage were filled up.
Noise sounded among the caravans. Each horse had an excrement bag, and the horse excrement gave off a terrible stench.
She seemed to be within a pile of excrement.
At this time, she seemed to sense something and looked out through the crack in the window coverings.
There was Happiness Tower.
On the stair banister, a youth in ordinary robes stood and looked at her like she was the scenery. He held an iced soup, and the bowl was covered in condensed water droplets.
Translator Ramblings: The power of money and people.