Zong Luo immediately understood.
The Baijia Banquet was not only a venue for academic excursions and exchanges, but it was also an excellent occasion for students from other families to meet and form friends. Renowned papers were analogous to modern business cards, which can be used not only to offer to various dignitaries, but also to create acquaintances of an equal footing. In this scenario, the paper or brocade used in notable pouches was extremely valuable, and it can even reflect the owner’s taste.
It was already late when they arrived at the capital. The Baijia Banquet would take place the day after tomorrow. If one doesn’t hurry up today to buy a name and offer some conditions, it might be hard for them to make it tomorrow.
(t/n buy name-Buying a name, pronounced mǎi míng, is a Chinese word meaning to exchange money for fame)
“Okay, please wait a moment.”
Gu Ziyuan’s disguised good intentions were known to Zong Luo.
Although he accompanied the Confucianists to the Great Yuan, merely referred to as a renowned visitor of Confucianism on the surface, yet was actually identified as a Confucian disciple.
In the eyes of others, because he was blind, and if he wanted to gain benefits, he had to work harder.
Furthermore, writing was always more challenging for blind individuals. If one arrives early today, one could start preparing in the evening and not have to worry the next day.
Autumn nights were getting cooler.
Zong Luo added an outer shirt and opened the door. “It’s getting late, let’s go.”
On ordinary days, he and Gu Ziyuan were somewhat acquaintances, so he naturally accepted his good intentions.
The two walked side by side and out of the courtyard.
Zong Luo halted for a moment when he noticed a curled sleeping civet cat by the gate, then he slightly raised his boot and stepped over from the side.
Gu Ziyuan sighed quietly to himself on the side. Brother Luo’s martial arts were excellent, as were his hearing and positioning discernment.
He still remembered when the leader brought Zong Luo back to the Confucian Han Lu, he was said to be gravely hurt and needed to rest. No one was permitted to enter the courtyard where he was recuperating, and it had taken a long time for him to be able to walk outside and indulge in some activities.
A gentleman was more likely to gain the approval of others. Not only does Zong Luo’s character have nothing to criticize about, but all Confucians also treated him with respect.
When getting along with Zong Luo, Gu Ziyuan could easily feel the dignified and mature nature of the other party. Even though he didn’t seem to be too old, he always gave people a sense of stability similar to that of a teacher.
Gu Ziyuan had assumed that Zong Luo would remain in the Han Lu, but he had not anticipated that the leader would permit him to travel with them to Great Yuan. Those who don’t want to settle in a corner these days are all ambitious people.
Brother Luo really had the world in his heart. Although physically disabled, his spirit was firm. This made Gu Ziyuan admire him from the bottom of his heart.
“Speaking of which, after arriving in Great Yuan, what is Brother Luo’s plan next?”
Zong Luo threw the question back. “Ziyuan asked me so, but have you figured out where to go?”
Gu Ziyuan embarrassedly touched his nose. “I just hope I can do well at the Baijia Banquet. If I can win the admiration of the nobles, become a Menke, and carry on my Confucianism, it will be very good. If not, I can only blame my lack of talent and shallow learning. It’s not too late to return three years later, after going back to Han Lu to restudy.”
(t/n Menke (doormen)-Doormen are divided into several levels according to their different functions. The lowest level is only enough for food and clothing, while the highest level of doormen can eat fish and have a car. Doormen mainly play its role as the master’s counselor and bodyguard, and may also develop into the employer’s personal armed force when necessary.)
Gu Ziyuan really cares about Zong Luo.
He was an orphan himself, and he was picked up by the leader when he was a child. He grew up in the Confucian Han Lu since childhood. Since Gu Luo was given the Confucian word “Gu” after losing his memory, he was naturally regarded as a family.
He believed that, despite Zong Luo’s physical illness, his swordsmanship was incredibly strong. Gu Ziyuan didn’t realize how formidable he was at first, but after seeing him and King Beining reached a stalemate, he had a feeling that he was.
“Speaking of which, Brother Luo had such a fate with the Third Prince of the Great Yuan Dynasty. I didn’t notice that you both have the same name character, and you were even seriously injured a year ago. If it wasn’t for Brother Luo’s memory loss, there might be some connection.”
(t/n fate (Buddhist term)- what is far is predestined, and what is near is cause. It is an invisible connection between people; an opportunity and possibility of some inevitable encounter.)
Gu Ziyuan added, jokingly, without the smallest suspicion. “By the way, since Brother Luo has gained a favor from the King of Beining, why not make a visit to his residence?”
If “Gu Lou” can truly accept his invitation, he will advance to the top in the future, given the King of Beining’s standing in the Great Yuan. Gu Ziyuan will be relieved as long as he can secure an official position.
Zong Luo’s smile was a little stiff. “Not really.”
In order to prove it, he added another sentence. “Everyone sees things differently, but good birds choose wood to live in, and good ministers choose their masters. The King of Beining is violent and wilful, and he is not just someone to get close with.”
(t/n Good birds choose trees to perch [proverb]- The original meaning of it means that good birds will choose ideal trees as their habitats. A metaphor for outstanding talents should choose a good unit that can give full play to their talents and a good leader who makes good use of themselves.
A good bird chooses a tree, which is a metaphor for a worthy minister to choose a master. Later, “good birds choose wood to live in” is often used as an allusion for worthy ministers to choose their masters. )
Recalling the malevolent appearance of the King of Beining at the city gate, Gu Ziyuan had a lingering fear. “At first, I thought the stories were fake, but now it appears that the widely circulated rumors… should be genuine.”
Zong Luo was a little surprised. He thought that anyone who had seen Yu Beizhou in person would be affected by his charismatic aura, but he never expected Gu Ziyuan to remain sensible.
Just when Zong Luo was silent, Gu Ziyuan added another sentence. “Nevertheless, the King of Beining still honored a virtuous person, otherwise he would not have given Brother Luo his jade pendant.”
Zong Luo: “…….”
He now seemed to know why his Martial Uncle asked Gu Ziyuan to lead the students to the Great Yuan.
Although Gu Ziyuan was quick in thinking, brilliant in writing, and profound in Confucianism and Legalism and can be called a great Confucian of his generation, in the end, he was still young, building a car behind closed doors, and lacking experience in the world.
(t/n Building a car behind closed doors is a chinese idiom [bì mén zào chē]- carry out one’s idea irrespective of external circumstances; divorce oneself from the masses and from reality and act blindly; do whatever one likes individually, oblivious of the world)
Beizhou luring him with just a few of Wen Zi’s classics was really too cunning.
As the two were conversing, they had already walked together to the bookstore on the corner of the street. In the past two days, many scholars have bought notable pouches, pens and paper here. Now that the stall was about to close for the evening, horses and carriages began to arrive one after the other.
“Ah, there are so many people!”
As soon as Gu Ziyuan saw many classics displayed there, his eyes lit up. “This famous post with plum patterns is really beautiful. If you buy some, you can fumigate it with fragrant incense when you go back, and then add some dried flowers. It’s really elegant.”
(t/n famous post [mínɡ tiě]- a name card used to pass when visiting; is an indispensable tool for the communication of ancient officials. The visitor writes his name and other introduction words on the bamboo or wood (paper was not invented at the during the Warring States Period)
“Since there are so many people, then I won’t come forward. I have to trouble Ziyuan to choose a few for me.”
“That’s only natural. Brother Luo can rest assured to leave this kind of trivial matter to me!”
Obviously, Ziyuan would not back down, taking Zong Luo to a discreet spot near the storefront entrance. The two agreed on an approximate time, and he turned back, eager to enter the shop.
Zong Luo stood alone under the eaves, but he didn’t feel bored, instead began to listen to the sounds around him.
He wasn’t blind at all, and he could see with his eyes intact after removing the strips of cloth covering his eyes, but occasionally shutting one of the five senses was fascinating, and it sharpened the remaining four senses.
He could hear the chatter of the scholars in the bookshop not far away, the axles of the carriages rolling, the servants’ horse whipping, the cicadas in the autumn, and the thunder rolls in the sky as he stood here now, concentrating carefully.
“It’s going to rain,” Zong Luo sighed, took two steps back slightly, and completely shrank his body under the cover of the eaves.
After being away from Great Yuan for more than a year, he always felt that standing in the Imperial City was something of the past.
In fact, this was already his third life. Just listening to the various sounds in the imperial city, he felt like a dream of Huang Liang, as if separated from a lifetime.
(t/n as if separated from a lifetime(Chinese idiom, huǎng ruò gé shì)- refers to the feeling of great changes in people and scenery.)
(t/n a dream of Huangling (Chinese idiom derived from a fable)- According to “Records in the Pillow”, Lu Sheng met Taoist Lu Weng at the Handan inn and lamented his poverty. Lu Weng took a celadon pillow to let Lu Sheng sleep, while the owner was cooking small rice. Lu Sheng enjoyed all the glory and wealth in his dream. When he woke up, the little rice in the store was not cooked. Based on this story, later generations summed up the idiom “huangliangyimeng”, which is a metaphor for illusory dreams and unrealizable desires)
Sure enough, the trickling rain began to fall, as if someone had poured water down the sky, and it quickly developed into a downpour.
After half a column of incense time, he heard a loud noise amidst the rain in the distance.
“It’s the Xuan Cavalry! “The Xuan Cavalry has returned to the capital!”
As if echoing, a group of neat and solemn black cavalry passed by like a ghost, galloping on the road of the imperial city, splashing beads of muck everywhere they went.
The cavalry sat on black horses with upright backs, wearing black armor, helmet, and tall boots on their feet. When he listened raptly, even the horses’ rushing hooves sounded synchronized. They were extremely well-trained and amazing.
Zong Luo suddenly raised his head and looked at the intersection. Even if he can’t see anything now, he can imagine the heroic appearance of the “Xuan Cavalry” in the mouths of the people.
These were the personal soldiers he had spent years and painstakingly cultivated. Accompanying him through life and death, fighting in the surrounding countries, watching the sunset from a tower, watching the full moon in the sand sea, and wading through the sea of blood and mountain of knives. Even in his previous life, even after he committed suicide in front of the city gate, the Xuan cavalry remained united.
Even though he was claimed to have died already according to the outside world, the Chief Martial Uncle requested the Mohists to provide them with information concerning the Great Yuan from time to time while he was in the Confucian Han Lu.
Naturally, Zong Luo knew. After his death at Hangu Pass, it was his former deputy general Mu Yuanlong who took over as the General of Xuan cavalry.
Now listening to the sound of horses’ hooves falling into the rain with almost the same rhythm, Zong Luo felt a little more relieved.
For more than a year, although the main general had changed, and they had not often gone out to fight a battle, at least the training of Xuan cavalry had not lagged behind.
At the same time, the Xuan cavalry’s leading general looked back from afar, suddenly reined in the horse, and came to a complete halt in the rain.
“General Mu, what’s wrong?”
The captain of the second row was a little surprised to see him stop.
They were all covered in dark frigid armor, and the rain poured on them looking like weeping candle.
Mu Yuanlong fixedly looked at the location where he had taken a glimpse just now. Under the curtain of thick rain, an obscured person in white can be hardly seen.
He murmured to himself, “I seem to have seen His Highness, the Third Prince.”