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AIP - Chapter 42: Charged with a Mission

Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr

There was no more suspense in the selection of servant students. The lady ultimately decided to task Shi Meng and Tang Jie with this duty.

With the decision made, some people celebrated while others felt dejected.

People gathered around Tang Jie and Shi Meng to congratulate them, and even Steward Qin got a few words of congratulation.

The praise for the two talents of the Wu family and Steward Qin's superb insight came thick and fast.

The more quick-witted ones snuck out of the estate to report to the Wu family, for the rejoicing Wu couple was certain to give them a monetary reward.

Today became a day of celebration. Just like the imperial examinations of antiquity or the sports drafts of the modern era, becoming a servant student was a common dream shared by all mortals.

Shi Meng and Tang Jie were surrounded by people and were being treated in a way that they had never experienced before. With one step, they had ascended through the dragon gate and got a little taste of what it meant to be a celebrity.

While the successes were the center of attention, the failures were utterly ignored.

While Tang Jie was accepting everyone's congratulations, he discovered that Shi Mo had already left the hall.

No one knew when he had left.

Just when he was wondering about this, he heard Zheng Shufeng behind him say, "Tang Jie, come here."

At this time, the master and Master Lu had gone. The only person left on the raised platform was Zheng Shufeng.

Tang Jie assented. Zheng Shufeng pointed at the seat next to her. "Sit."

"My lady is present, so this lowly one does not dare to sit."

"There is no need to be polite." Zheng Shufeng smiled. "This is your just reward."

Now that he was a servant student, Tang Jie had ceased to be an ordinary servant. According to the custom upheld by all the great clans, even the masters of the house would be much more polite to these future Immortal masters.

Tang Jie knew this, so after expressing thanks, he sat down next to Zheng Shufeng.

Zheng Shufeng carefully inspected Tang Jie. She saw that his expression was upright and that he had not grown proud and forgotten himself because of his new status. She was very satisfied, and nodded. "It's been almost three years since you first came to the Wei Estate. In these three years, I have seen how you do things and developed an understanding of you. Do you know why I selected you to enter the estate?"

"Is my lady talking about the matter of the three strings of cash?" Tang Jie cautiously asked, not knowing why Zheng Shufeng had asked this question.

Zheng Shufeng chuckled and shook her head. "The filial piety you showed to the Wu couple that day truly did play an important role in my decision to select you, but there was another important reason: your background."

Background?

Tang Jie was startled. Wasn't his background his greatest problem?

Zheng Shufeng said, "To travel all the way from the Wildgrain Plains to Canglong Prefecture, you must have gone through a lot of hardship in that time, yes?"

Hearing this caused the image of Xu Muyang to appear in front of Tang Jie. As he thought about his excruciating journey across mountains and rivers to travel from Anyang Prefecture to Canglong Prefecture, he couldn't help but reply, "Those days were the darkest days of my life. One person traveling the wilderness alone with only a few coins and nowhere to go… At times, even I find myself wondering how I managed to make such a long journey."

Tang Jie had truly gone through great suffering when fleeing the pursuit of Godhead Palace. Not even mentioning his hunger and the hardships of the journey, he had to be on his guard at any time against potential dangers.

A twelve-year-old child surviving this journey to Canglong Prefecture was a miracle in itself.

Tang Jie had never brought this up before, and no one else had noticed, but to his surprise, Zheng Shufeng had realized the extraordinary nature of his journey. Tang Jie immediately felt like he had encountered his soul mate. 

"It truly must have been difficult…" Zheng Shufeng nodded and sighed. "If my Chong'er had your persistence and tenacity, he might not have only opened four cycles. Your Jade Gate has five cycles not because of your astonishing talent, but as a reward for the arduous trial you experienced. There are probably few servants in the Wei Estate who can talk about a similar experience."

Hearing this, Tang Jie suddenly understood why Zheng Shufeng had favored him so much.

Sure enough, Zheng Shufeng said, "In truth, I also know that making Chong'er taste a little hardship would benefit him. But in the end, I am a woman, a mother, and how many mothers can truly harden their hearts and have their children taste hardship, particularly those hardships that might leave them half-dead? When Chong'er was opening his gate today, my heart ached as he wailed."

"This lowly one understands. The hearts of the parents of the world are to be pitied."

"'The hearts of the parents of the world are to be pitied'…" Zheng Shufeng considered these words, and finally, a smile appeared on her face. "An excellent phrase. Chong'er is a pampered child who has never suffered hardship. And it so happens that Wanquan City is far away from Canglong Prefecture. Once he's in school, I can't protect him even if I want to. When the son travels abroad, a mother worries. If I cannot find someone that I can truly rely on, then should I place my hope on those good-for-nothings? So my first task is to entrust you with my Chong'er. Although Shi Meng is also a diligent child, he's still very lacking compared to you."

Although Tang Jie's background was somewhat unclear, he had traveled alone from Anyang Prefecture to Canglong Prefecture, so he had the ability to survive on his own and solve problems. This was the reason Zheng Shufeng held him in such high regard.

For Zheng Shufeng, a servant student achieving meteoric success and repaying their master had never been most important.

What was most important was her son!

So long as her son was fine, everything else was okay.

From this perspective, servant students existed for two purposes, and for Zheng Shufeng, "attend and serve" was far more important than 'investment for the future'.

In truth, clans had initially selected servant students to attend on their children. The "expectation of repayment" was something that had been added on later.

Just as Tang Jie had said, when in pursuit of a goal, after many twists and turns, one would often lose sight of one's original goal.

But Zheng Shufeng had not!

She knew very well what she wanted.

This was why, no matter how good Shi Mo's Heart Demon Aspiration was, since he lacked the ability to care for Wei Tianchong, Zheng Shufeng would never choose him. In Zheng Shufeng's eyes, the ability to care for the third young master was her top priority!

Thus, even if Tang Jie didn't have a five-cycle Jade Gate, his ability to survive and solve problems meant that Zheng Shufeng would still choose him. This was something that not even Tang Jie had thought about.

Tang Jie was enlightened by Zheng Shufeng's words.

Although he had considered that Zheng Shufeng would place some importance on this matter, he had never realized that she valued this category far more than any other.

To realize the problem but pay it little heed was tantamount to not realizing the problem at all. Tang Jie felt like he had made a grave mistake. If he had realized this earlier, he could have promised a little less in his Heart Demon Aspiration.

Thus, he had actually already paid the price for his mistake.

He couldn't be blamed for this. In the last three years, his opponents had all been immature children.

While weak opponents had allowed him to easily obtain victory, they did not stimulate Tang Jie's desire to fight, so it was inevitable that he would miss a few things.

Thus, the real excitement would only happen when he encountered real opponents with some heft to them.

His incompetent opponents over the last three years had dragged him down. The only bright spot was probably Ji Ziqian's appearance, which had invigorated Tang Jie a little.

Fortunately, Basking Moon Academy was a gathering place of talents, and the struggle for the Great Dao was endless and cruel. He was confident that many exciting things awaited him in the future.

"My lady, be at ease. Tang Jie will take good care of the third young master," Tang Jie hurriedly responded.

Zheng Shufeng added, "In addition, Chong'er is still a little young. Back then, he still did not understand how to conduct himself, even whipping you once. I was still there, so there was no need to worry about you being unjustly treated. If there was any trouble, I could step forward and resolve things. But once you leave the clan and head off to the land of Immortals, I might not be capable of protecting him if he causes any trouble. And if he causes a big mess, there's even a chance the clan might be destroyed. Thus, my second task is to have you keep watch over Chong'er for me and ensure that he doesn't cause any trouble that he shouldn't."

She spoke very solemnly, and Tang Jie knew that she wasn't joking.

In Basking Moon Academy, whether it was servant students, nobles, geniuses, or the Immortals, none of them could be lightly provoked.

Wei Tianchong was the little tyrant of the Wei Clan, but over there, he would have to learn to bow his head.

But a boy's personality was difficult to control, and only the heavens knew when he would get into trouble. Thus, Zheng Shufeng even bowed when speaking to Tang Jie.

Everyone saw this bow and was given a fright, Tang Jie even jumping to his feet. "My lady, you are being too polite. This lowly one does not dare to receive this bow."

"So long as you can complete these two tasks, what does a meager bow matter?" Zheng Shufeng answered with a smile.

Taking care of her son and keeping him out of trouble—these were Zheng Shufeng's two requests and her most important requests. So long as he could do these things, her investment in Tang Jie would have already paid off. As for Tang Jie's promise, that was just interest. Zheng Shufeng didn't care if she got it or not.

Tang Jie could only bitterly smile when it came to the mission Zheng Shufeng had charged him with. "My lady, I can agree to the first task and do my utmost to carry out this duty. But when it comes to the third young master's conduct, my abilities are limited."

"I know." Zheng Shufeng nodded. "After all, you are a servant. When you speak, he is not guaranteed to listen, as we can see from the incident at Welcoming Dragon Mountain. At that time, you could kill his horse to stop him, but in the future, there will be many more incidents where there will be no horse for you to kill. Ah, forget it. Since I have chosen to trust in you, I should trust you until the end… Yanzhi, bring over the clan discipline stick."

Yanzhi hastily went up to the front of the hall and took a lash that she delivered to the lady.

This lash was not the rattan lash that Wei Tianchong had used to whip Tang Jie, but a special discipline tool made from bamboo. Its lashes would not severely wound the person, but it would leave the victim in excruciating pain. It emphasized a lash that would never be forgotten by the victim.

At the same time, it was the tool the Wei Clan used to execute the clan law. It represented the majesty of the Wei Clan patriarch, and no child of the Wei Clan could resist it.

Zheng Shufeng grabbed the bamboo lash and offered it to Tang Jie. "When you arrive at the academy, I will formally hand it to you. If Chong'er dares to do anything unfilial, lash him in the name of the clan law! I trust that you will know when to use it and when to not!"

Tang Jie trembled.

This was an imperial sword!

With this in hand, he would no longer have to worry about Wei Tianchong's stubbornness or him doing something foolish.

Upon seeing the bamboo lash, Tang Jie gave the deepest bow he could, loudly saying, "The lady trusts in this lowly one, and this lowly one is endlessly grateful. My lady, be at ease. Tang Jie will not let the lady down and will take good care of the young master!"

Everyone else was stunned by the sight of this bamboo lash, and Shi Meng couldn't help but inwardly sigh. It turned out that he wasn't that important in the lady's eyes.

If Ji Ziqian had not been pushed out, the one pushed out would have been him. This thought caused him to sweat.

But there was one thing that he understood. In the future, his status in their group of three would be the lowest.

This… was truly a difficult fact to accept!

As he sighed, a boy servant suddenly ran in and cried out in panic, "My lady, my lady, it's terrible!"

"What's got you in such a panic?" Zheng Shufeng said with a frown.

"Shi Mo… Shi Mo's gone crazy. He… he…"

"He did what?" Zheng Shufeng impatiently asked.

"He took the third young master hostage!"

Hypersheep325's Notes:

Tang Jie has been entrusted with Young Master Wei's safety...and it seems like he already has to get to work!

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Written by Yuanfen 0 缘分0. Translated by Hypersheep325. Edited by Michyrr.