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EIF - Book 03 Chapter 025: Zither? Go?

Outside This Street’s Best Zither Pavilion:

Countless cultivators gathered there. The entire street was packed.

“What a shameless World’s Best Zither Pavilion! Even after it closes, it still tries to interfere with This Street’s Best Zither Pavilion’s business?”

“It’s that Lu An. He is Duke Lu Yang’s grandson. He is the one who got the city lord to send soldiers.”

“This is too shameless. He completely embarrasses the duke!”

“After failing to outcompete Gu Hai, he wants to use the officials to seize This Street’s Best Zither Pavilion? This is all he is capable of?”

“Mister Gu just saved all of us recently. How can we just watch as Mister Gu’s business gets seized?”

“City Lord, you are helping a villain do evil!”

Countless cultivators in the surroundings shouted in incredible indignation.

Right now, a large number of soldiers stood in the center of the street, encircling This Street’s Best Zither Pavilion. The surrounding cultivators could not get close.

This Street’s Best Zither Pavilion’s entrance:

Right now, the many Elite Hall disciples showed anxious expressions. They held nocked bows as they faced Lu An’s subordinates, who wanted to barge into the zither pavilion.

However, the Han Royal Dynasty officials that Gu Hai brought along were extremely calm.

The Acquired Realm Han Royal Dynasty officials directed the Wood Division disciples to block the entrance and not let anyone in. Then, they looked coldly at the ruins of the World’s Best Zither Pavilion.

After the World’s Best Zither Pavilion got smashed, it closed down. However, the place had been tidied up in the past few days.

Soldiers waited at the World’s Best Zither Pavilion’s entrance, and there were two chairs at the center.

Lu An sat on one of the chairs, drinking tea as he tapped his foot and indifferently eyed the anxious Elite Hall disciples on the other side of the street. A subordinate carrying a golden saber stood behind him, along with Jiang Tianyi and others.

A whiskered, stocky man sat on the other chair. This magnificently dressed person coldly scanned the surroundings.

“Scram! Scram! This piece of land and this building are ours!” Lu An’s subordinates shouted.

These subordinates were none other than the three thousand archers that had waited at the World’s Best Zither Pavilion when Gu Hai went there previously.

At this moment, the three thousand archers were pressuring the Elite Hall disciples.

The Elite Hall disciples stood at the front with bows drawn, facing the other side and preventing Lu An’s subordinates from barging in.

The two sides argued intensely while the Han Royal Dynasty officials stood at the side and watched quietly.

The vicinity of This Street’s Best Zither Pavilion turned chaotic. However, Lu An appeared to be very satisfied. He was in no rush to charge into This Street’s Best Zither Pavilion, apparently waiting for Gu Hai.

------

In a small pavilion not far away:

Sima Changkong looked at the heart of chaos from a distance, revealing a faint smile.

“Lu An? He is sufficiently domineering. It looks like this trip to Ying Province will be much easier.” Sima Changkong’s smile widened as he caressed his guqin.

“Milord, is City Lord He Shikang listening to Lu An’s orders, or is he listening to Duke Lu Yang’s orders?” one of Sima Changkong’s subordinates asked softly with a frown.

Sima Changkong narrowed his eyes and said, “He Shikang? The heavenly emperor must first give consent before anyone can become a city lord in the Qian Heavenly Dynasty. They are on the heavenly emperor’s payroll and have to be loyal to the heavenly emperor. If he dares to work for another, he will just be on a path to death.”

“Yes. However, this matter appears to be quite grave this time. Gu Hai’s This Street’s Best Zither Pavilion might not survive this.”

“Perhaps?” Sima Changkong smiled faintly.

------

This Street’s Best Zither Pavilion’s surroundings remained chaotic.

“Mister Gu is here. Quickly make way! Make a path for him!”

“Master Gu, just say the word, and this humble one will help Master Gu obtain justice!”

“Master Gu, be careful of this group of hoodlums!”

Loud commotions broke out in the surroundings. Since Gu Hai had saved these people, they naturally stood on Gu Hai’s side, cursing and scolding Lu An’s group.

“Humph!” Lu An snorted coldly.

The Silver Moon City Lord remained calm, sipping tea.

Although there were many people in the surroundings, when Gu Hai’s immortal crane carriage arrived, both sides parted, opening a path to the center and letting Gu Hai in.

When the immortal crane carriage arrived in front of This Street’s Best Zither Pavilion, everyone inside got off.

When Gu Hai was about to pay, the immortal crane carriage’s driver rejected him. “There’s no need. There’s no need. Mister Gu, just go about your business. How can I accept your money?”

Gu Hai just smiled faintly and tossed a superior-grade spirit stone into the carriage.

“Hey! Mister Gu, you can’t do that. I…I…” The immortal crane carriage’s driver was immediately at a loss, not knowing what to say. 

However, Gu Hai’s group already entered.

When Gu Hai arrived, the surrounding cultivators quieted.

The argument at This Street’s Best Zither Pavilion also stopped.

“Hall Master, Division Master, Division Master Gu!” the Elite Hall disciples greeted respectfully.

The Han Royal Dynasty officials also paid their respects to Gu Hai.

Seeing that everyone was fine, he relaxed and nodded.

Nearby, Lu An showed a cold smile as though he had been waiting for Gu Hai.

City Lord He Shikang stood up slowly.

“This humble official is He Shikang. Greetings, Elite Hall Master,” He Shikang said seriously as he looked at Long Wanqing.

“Uncle He, what are you doing? Why did you bring your army here to surround my Elite Hall’s business?” Long Wanqing asked with raised eyebrows.

He Shikang showed a faint bitter smile while shaking his head. “That’s not it. I’m just here on Young Master An’s invitation to settle a property dispute.”

“Property dispute?” Gu Hai frowned slightly as he stepped forward.

“This is Mister Gu? This official has yet to thank you for saving my city’s reputation with your ‘Sonata Pathétique. Heroes truly emerge from youths!” He Shikang said as he smiled at Gu Hai.

“Youth? I’m not worthy of being called that. However, I do not understand what City Lord He means by this? What property dispute can my shop have?” Gu Hai asked, feeling confused.

Since the city lord spoke politely, Gu Hai, naturally, would not fall out with him. He merely gave the city lord a doubtful look.

“Property dispute? Hahahaha! Gu Hai, your shop is mine!” Lu An suddenly spoke.

Lu An stood up, and his subordinates quickly followed him.

“Oh?” Gu Hai narrowed his eyes.

“Young Master An, the inside of the World’s Best Zither Pavilion is your territory. However, this Silver Moon City is the Qian Heavenly Dynasty’s city. Has it become your territory as well?” Gu Hai smiled at Lu An coldly.

All the territory in the nation belonged to the sovereign and not the officials. The Qian Heavenly Dynasty’s cities could belong only to the Qian Heavenly Emperor. Who would dare to say that the city belonged to them? Even Duke Lu Yang did not dare to. Naturally, Lu An did not dare make such a public proclamation.

“Humph! Gu Hai, I have no time to play word games with you. You are occupying my land. Tell your people to scram. This zither pavilion is mine!” Lu An said coldly.

“Oh? It’s yours? Young Master An, be careful of making irresponsible remarks!” Gu Hai said, still feeling confused.

“Irresponsible remarks? Humph! You bought this pavilion from him, right?” Lu An pointed to a nearby person.

A trembling old man stepped forward, not daring to look at Gu Hai.

Just at this moment, a Han Royal Dynasty official walked over and said, “Master, when we bought the shop, we bought it from this old man and went to the authorities to register it. We also paid the fees and taxes for the sale. The receipts for all these are with us.”

Gu Hai looked at He Shikang with a slight frown.

“There’s no need to look at the city lord. Your sale receipt is fake.” A voice came from behind Lu An.

A fat middle-aged man stepped forward. This person bore a resemblance to the World’s Best Zither Pavilion’s general manager, Jiang Tianyi.

“Oh? You are?” Gu Hai asked.

“This humble one is the manager of Silver Moon’s Best Go Pavilion. General Manager Jiang Tianyi is my elder brother. I am Jiang Tianqi,” the fat middle-aged man said with a faint smile.

“Silver Moon’s Best Go Pavilion’s manager? So, you are Manager Jiang as well? What’s wrong? Is my This Street’s Best Zither Pavilion connected to you?” Gu Hai asked.

“Of course. This old man had previously sold his shop to me already. It was even registered with the authorities. I also paid all the fees and taxes—the receipts for all that are with me. So, your zither pavilion is mine. I spent money to buy it!” Jiang Tianqi said with a cold smile.

When the surrounding cultivators heard Jiang Tianqi’s words, they felt slightly stunned.

“What? He sold the shop to two people?”

“That’s impossible. How can one sell the shop twice? Are the official records fake?”

“It’s Young Master An? He made use of the property sales registration office to create a fake record so that he can snatch This Street’s Best Zither Pavilion?”

“How shameless!”

The surrounding people cursed and swore.

“Uncle He, what is going on here? The shop was sold to two people? How can this be possible? When we first registered the sale and paid the fees and taxes, no one said anything about that,” Long Wanqing said with a frown.

He Shikang showed a bitter smile and said, “Facts are as such. Manager Jiang bought this place first, and you did so later. This old man did sell the place twice and indeed should be heavily punished. I’m here this time just to ensure impartiality.”

Selling the shop twice?

Gu Hai looked at Lu An and revealed a faint smile. “Young Master An, you really thought about this a lot. Snatching my zither pavilion? However, do you know, all you can get is this land? As long as I still have the ‘This Street’s Best Zither Pavilion’ brand, I can always open business somewhere else.”

However, Lu An revealed a faint smile and walked up close. Then, he whispered, “I know, but that does not matter to me. Today, you will have to move away. If you start a new business, won’t you need to renovate? Hahahaha! Today, I’ll snatch this shop. After you complete renovations one month later and reestablish your business, I’ll come and snatch it again. Do you believe that I can prevent your zither pavilion from ever opening?”

Lu An spoke very softly, so softly that the surrounding cultivators did not hear him.

Only Long Wanqing overheard those words. She immediately glared at Lu An and said, “You, Lu An!”

However, Gu Hai reached out and tugged Long Wanqing, stopping her from erupting in rage. Then, he turned his head to look at the city lord.

“City Lord He, you are here to uphold fairness. Might I ask what the fair conclusion to this is?” Gu Hai asked seriously.

“A nation has its laws, and business has its rules. This shop was sold to Manager Jiang first. Naturally, it goes to Manager Jiang. As for the money you paid to buy the shop, I will investigate and track it down, then return it all to you,” He Shikang replied seriously.

Return the money? Temporarily close?

Gu Hai showed a sullen expression. However, Lu An showed a cocky smile. Manager Jiang also smiled cockily.

Lu An’s group eyed This Street’s Best Zither Pavilion covetously. They had even brought the city lord’s army here. Were they planning to chase Gu Hai’s group out of This Street’s Best Zither Pavilion?

“Of course, I can leave you a path out of this,” Lu An said with a cold smile.

“Oh?” Gu Hai said with a frown.

Jiang Tianqi stepped forward and said, “Here is the contract for buying this shop and the various receipts. Mister Gu, if you do mind, we can make a wager.”

“What wager?”

“If you win, I’ll give the contract to you. I’ll even let you have the shop. However, if you lose, you will get out of Silver Moon City and never come back. What do you think?” Jiang Tianqi smiled coldly.

“If I win, I can continue my business. If you win, I have to leave Silver Moon City?” Gu Hai clarified coldly with a frown.

“Gu Hai, don’t listen to them. I have never seen such shameless people before. I’ll immediately write a letter to the monitor censors. Does this Silver Moon City still belong to His Holy Eminence? To think that the truth can be distorted like that, forcing one into such a situation. Also, does the Silver Moon City’s army belong to the Heavenly Qian Dynasty or Duke Lu Yang’s army?” Long Wanqing snarled.

[TL Note: The monitor censors were officials working for the censorate, a high-level supervisory agency in ancient China that reported directly to the emperor. Here is a Wikipedia link about them: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorate.] 

He Shikang’s face sank.

However, Lu An revealed a cold smile.

Lu An had gone to the trouble of forging a contract and setting this up only because he had considered the need for a justified reason. Otherwise, he would have just smashed up This Street’s Best Zither Pavilion, given his character. 

“What would you like to wager on?” Gu Hai asked.

“Go!” Jiang Tianqi smiled coldly.

“Zither?” Gu Hai felt slightly surprised.

[TL Note: Go is pronounced as “Qi” in Chinese, and zither is pronounced as “Qing.” The two sound somewhat similar but should still be easily distinguishable. However, if one does not pronounce it right or hear it right, they can be mistaken for each other. Gu Hai probably thought that he heard wrong and was trying to clarify it.]

Long Wanqing also felt stunned. Did I hear right? What did this Jiang Tianqi say he wanted to wager on?

“Not zither, Go! The board game Go!” Jiang Tianqi emphasized.

“Go?” Gu Hai felt stunned.

Long Wanqing also felt stunned.

“That’s right. Hahahaha! Did you think I would compete with you in music? You wish. Only a fool would compete with you in music. You will not gain a footing in Silver Moon City unless you can defeat me in Go!” Jiang Tianqi immediately said cockily.

Long Wanqing stopped kicking up a fuss, gaping in surprise as she looked at Lu An and the others.

Right now, Lu An’s group looked at Gu Hai, feeling confident of victory.

After Gu Hai brought out ‘Sonata Pathétique, everyone had concluded that Gu Hai was an incredibly skilled music Dao master. Naturally, they would not use music to fight Gu Hai; there would be no way to win.

Thus, they opted to compete in Go.

Normally, most cultivators would just focus on one branch of cultural cultivation: music, Go, calligraphy, or painting. Since Gu Hai had such a thorough understanding of the music Dao at such a young age, he had to be ignorant of the Go Dao.

Hence, Lu An thought of competing using Go.

“You want to play Go with me? Oh! I forgot. You said that you are the general manager of Silver Moon’s Best Go Pavilion? Is that also Duke Lu Yang’s business?” Gu Hai looked at Jiang Tianqi with some disbelief.

“That’s right. The Go Dao and the music Dao are vastly different. Silver Moon City mainly focuses on the music Dao. However, there are people who cultivate the Go Dao. While I, Jiang Tianqi, might not be the best Go player in Silver Moon City, I have seen many Go game records and puzzles. Not long ago, I had the fortune of seeing the Go puzzle that Ninth Young Master showed in the Qian Heavenly Dynasty. Do you know of Ninth Young Master? He is one of Guan Qi’s nine inheritors, a person who obtained Old Mister Guan Qi’s inheritance!” Jiang Tianqi smiled coldly.

“Oh? Ninth Young Master? You have seen Ninth Young Master’s Go puzzle?” Gu Hai felt slightly stunned.

“Humph! More accurately, it is a Go puzzle left by Old Mister Guan Qi, the Twenty-Eight Line-Pair World Go Puzzle!” Jiang Tianqi said cockily.

“You studied the Twenty-Eight Line-Pair World Go Puzzle?” Both Gu Hai and Long Wanqing felt shocked.

“There’s right. There is the even more incredible Twenty-Nine Line-Pair World Go Puzzle, which I was not qualified to study, but I did study the Twenty-Eight Line-Pair World Go Puzzle for three days and three nights. Although I could not solve it in the end, I managed to comprehend most of it. Humph! Gu Hai, you still have a chance. Do you want to wager against me?” Jiang Tianqi said cockily.

Gu Hai and Long Wanqing gaped in surprise, not knowing what to say.

Lu An smiled coldly and said, “If not, then take your men away from the zither pavilion now and set up shop somewhere else. When you open the shop, I’ll come and offer my congratulations. Otherwise, you play Go with Jiang Tianyi. If you win, we will even give you the shop. If you lose, scram from Silver Moon City. Make your choice!”

“Indeed. After studying the Twenty-Eight Line-Pair World Go Puzzle, I comprehended eight difficult derived Go puzzles. Gu Hai, do you dare to wager against me?” Jiang Tianqi smiled coldly as he looked at Gu Hai.

Gu Hai: “…”

Long Wanqing: “…”

DragonInWhite's Notes:

Chapters for September: 12 / 50

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Written by Guan Qi — Watching Chess. Translated by DragonInWhite. Edited by VampireCat.