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AIP - Chapter 29: The Rules

Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr

Ji Ziqian got up very early in the morning, and Ji Lanxin personally took the time to help her son dress. She also reminded him, "I'm wronging you by having you serve as a servant student, but the gate to Immortality is difficult to enter, and there's no other way besides this. When you see your little brother Chong, you must remember to not conflict with him and do your best to get on good terms with him."

"Mom, you've told me twenty times now," Ji Ziqian proudly replied. "Relax. I'll handle this properly."

As the young master of the Ji Clan, Ji Ziqian truly did have things to be proud of.

Last year, a Spirit Master had been invited to open his Jade Gate, and he had achieved four cycles, which was a middling aptitude. Most importantly, sufficient perseverance and endurance was required to break through the Jade Gate. Such attributes were rare among young scions, and Ji Ziqian was rather proud of what he was able to achieve.

And as he knew how to conduct himself, being well-versed in etiquette, and was much smarter than Wei Tianchong, he considered it a trifle to get into Wei Tianchong's good graces.

In normal circumstances, it truly wouldn't have been hard.

Once they were done dressing, the two of them went out and asked for a servant to lead them to the Meditation Garden. The Clear Yang Pavilion was rather far from the Meditation Garden, and they had to pass through quite a few other places to get there. Ji Ziqian had not been here in some time, and as he strolled through the estate, he marveled at its grandeur. The boy servant leading them was a smart fellow, and spoke of the various buildings as they passed by them, explaining the Wei Estate's situation to Ji Ziqian. Ji Ziqian was newly arrived, so he naturally regarded this information with high importance and was very thankful to the boy servant.

But this slowed them down. Moreover, they also ran into various people on the way: boy servants from the other residences, maids, and even stewards. All of them were extremely polite, every meeting resulting in an exchange of pleasantries. But this slowed them down even more.

After walking some distance, they arrived at the venerable master's residence, Retiring Years House. They saw the venerable master performing punching exercises in the courtyard, and since they had seen him, Ji Ziqian had to go up and greet him.

The venerable master saw his grandnephew approaching, and there was yet another exchange of pleasantries. It was quite a while before they could finally set off again.

But all this meant that it took more than an hour for them to get to the Meditation Garden.

When they arrived, they were told that Wei Tianchong was in class and shouldn't be disturbed.

Wei Lanxin was very displeased. "Didn't someone say that since the young master was visiting today, there was no need for Chong'er to attend class?"

She was Wei Tianchong's aunt, so she naturally did not use a polite form of address when talking about Wei Tianchong.

Shi Meng put on a fake smile as he answered, "The young master truly did wait, but after waiting for almost an hour and seeing that no one had come, he thought that the two of you were not coming, and went to class."

He had not brought up how impatient Wei Tianchong had become over being kept waiting for so long, even breaking a chair. Wei Lanxin and Ji Ziqian failed to notice the problem.

Since they were late, they truly could not blame Wei Tianchong.

Fortunately, Shi Meng said, "But since the two of you have arrived, we must inform the young master. Let this lowly one lead the two of you to the classroom."

Ji Ziqian decided that this was true, so he politely answered, "As this is the case, then I must trouble you."

Though he originated from a great clan, he knew that he had come here as a supplicant. Thus, he treated the servants politely. However, he disdained to lower himself to learn the art of giving gifts of money as Tang Jie had.

"Please follow me." Shi Meng led Wei Lanxin and Ji Ziqian to the classroom.

Inside the classroom, a teacher was lecturing while ten-some children sat below. These were all children of the Wei Clan, but which one was Wei Tianchong?

Shi Meng pointed at Wei Tianchong and said, "That one is the young master. It is class time, so it is best if the two of you do not disturb him. I will go over and inform him now."

Saying this, he lightly coughed into the room.

Shi Mo heard the cough and raised his head to see three people standing outside the classroom. He knew that Ji Ziqian had arrived, so he used his elbow to poke Wei Tianchong and then motioned outside using his chin.

Wei Tianchong looked over, and his eyes met Ji Ziqian's gaze.

But Shi Mo made larger movements than necessary, so the teacher saw it. He grabbed his discipline stick and pointed it at Wei Tianchong. "Rather than looking around, focus on your studies!"

He smacked Wei Tianchong on the head with the stick, causing him to shrink his head back and look away.

The teaching style of the ancients did not emphasize pleasure and fun, nor had they put away the practice of corporal punishment.

The teacher position had the privilege of beating the young master, and the teacher of the Wei Clan was a famous scholar of Canglong Prefecture who wielded considerable prestige. He had taught many students who had risen to be influential figures.

Let alone the Wei Clan's young master, he would punish the young masters of the Jins, Zhangs, and Gus, and even the children of Immortals if they did not properly pay attention.

Thus, when the stick smacked down, not even Wei Tianchong dared to resist. But deep down, he clenched his teeth in hatred of Ji Ziqian.

Actually, after his tantrum last night, Wei Tianchong had decided that since this was his cousin, he had no reason to quarrel with him too much, so he had decided to let the matter go. But now, after being entrapped several times in a row, he had as awful an impression of Ji Ziqian as there could possibly be.

Ji Ziqian was still unaware that he had completely failed to give a good first impression. In his view, it was only natural for the teacher to administer punishment when a student wasn't listening in class. Thus, he smiled and said, "It seems like this really isn't the time. Since that's the case, why not return to the Meditation Garden and wait? Right, Shi Meng, how long does the teacher usually teach for?"

"This…" Shi Meng appeared to be in a difficult spot. "It's hard to say. The teacher never has a set schedule. Sometimes his classes are long, and sometimes his classes are short. It all depends on his mood. Sometimes, he even teaches until nighttime."

"I see." Ji Ziqian thought it over. "That being the case, let's return to Clear Yang Pavilion. If the young master's class ends early, please inform me."

"Naturally." Shi Meng smiled.

Of course, Ji Ziqian received no notification of any sort.

In his two days in the estate, all Ji Ziqian had managed to do was see Wei Tianchong in the distance and cause him to get beaten.

His third day in the estate.

Today, Ji Ziqian got up early, put on his clothes, and made another trip over. Wei Lanxin had been planning to accompany him, but to her surprise, Yanzhi came over with an invitation from the lady.

Zheng Shufeng did not know that Ji Ziqian had not managed to get a chance to talk with her son yesterday. She believed that since both sides had met and were familiar with each other, there was no need for Wei Lanxin to go over every time. Thus, on Yanzhi's suggestion, she had called over Wei Lanxin so that they could keep the venerable lady company together.

When Wei Lanxin heard that Zheng Shufeng wanted her to come and keep the venerable lady company, she wanted to decline, but she didn't know how. Fortunately, Ji Ziqian said, "Mother should just go and keep the venerable lady company. I'll just go and see Little Brother Chong myself."

Wei Lanxin was still rather anxious about this proposition. She said, "This being the case, you should take Chai Si with you."

It wasn't proper for Ji Ziqian to bring servants with him this time, so Wei Lanxin had only brought her personal maid, Ning Cui, and the carriage driver, Chai Si. At this time, only Chai Si could fill the role.

The same boy servant from yesterday led the way, but today was free of all those incidents, and he was able to smoothly arrive at the Meditation Garden just when Wei Tianchong was admiring the flowers.

When he saw Wei Tianchong, Ji Ziqian came forward with a smile and said, "Little Brother Chong, it's been two years. How have you been?"

For Ji Ziqian, coming here to serve as a servant student was truly a last resort, and he could not possibly regard himself as a servant. This was his only weakness, but it was a weakness that no one would normally dare to use.

It was for this reason that he had planned today to try and get closer to Wei Tianchong by talking about old times, speaking of positive things. This was truthfully the same attitude with which Tang Jie had treated Xu Muyang, and there was no error in using it.

Alas, Tang Jie had already seen through his strategy, and he had relayed it through Shi Mo into Wei Tianchong's ears a day ago. Moreover, after what had happened yesterday, Wei Tianchong had a terrible impression of Ji Ziqian. Thus, when he saw him coming, he only spoke to Shi Mo and ignored Ji Ziqian. Ji Ziqian had reached out his hand for a handshake, but when he saw no reaction from Wei Tianchong, he could only awkwardly draw back his hand and scratch his head.

"Right, the weasel bristle brush in the study needs replacing. Remember to…"

"It's already been changed, Young Master. Your favorite silver needle brush from the Violet Inkstone Store."

"As quick-witted as ever," Wei Tianchong said with a chuckle. Only then did he turn to glance at Ji Ziqian. With an extremely casual tone, he said, "Oh, if this isn't Big Brother Ziqian. Long time no see! What's brought you here today?"

Ji Ziqian smiled. "How could Little Brother Chong not know? The day before yesterday, my mother came and made a formal request to the Wei Estate, hoping to obtain a student spot. The Wei Clan has a spot every year, and the Ji Clan and Wei Clan have such a close relationship. Rather than giving the spot to an outsider, it would be much better to give it to one of your own people."

His words were very normal, but alas, this was not the time, for all of the 'outsiders' were present.

Let alone Shi Mo and Shi Meng, even Tang Jie and the other servants were present. All of them mentally snorted at these words.

Wei Tianchong wasn't angered over this. He coldly said, "No one informed me, so how could I know?"

Ji Ziqian was taken aback. This didn't sound right to him.

The Ji Clan had paid its visit to the Wei Estate two days ago, and someone had informed Wei Tianchong yesterday. It was impossible for Wei Tianchong to not have known. This could only mean one thing: he was unhappy that Ji Ziqian had not visited him in the previous two days.

But this was no big deal. An explanation would clear up everything. Ji Ziqian hastily smiled and said, "Oh, Cousin, you misunderstand. It was because we were arranged to stay at Clear Yang Pavilion, which is rather far, making traveling back and forth inconvenient. Moreover, my mother was tired from the journey and needed to rest early, so we didn't come on the first day. As for yesterday, I specifically came over…"

But it probably would have been better for him to not bring up yesterday. The mention of yesterday immediately made Wei Tianchong think about how he had been beaten by the stick, and he felt a dull pain from his head. His expression immediately darkened. "Yongkang City is also rather far from Canglong Prefecture, but didn't the Ji Clan still come over for a single spot? How is it that my Wei Clan's Clear Yang Pavilion is somehow farther from my Meditation Garden than Yongkang City is from Canglong Prefecture? I didn't know the Wei Estate was that big."

The boy servants all chuckled.

Ji Ziqian immediately knew that he had said something wrong, but when he was about to explain, Wei Tianchong said, "Although the Wei Clan has a spot every year, there's always someone that wants it. We need to keep up relations with numerous parties, and there are some people who can't be offended, and there are always numerous relatives who are trying to pay us visits looking for a chance. There's only one spot, but more than a hundred people are after it every year. Thus, we can't give this spot to just anyone. So what is Ziqian bringing to the table?"

Ji Ziqian was angered by these words.

He knew that he had inadvertently offended Wei Tianchong, but not this badly. His mother Wei Lanxin was still a sister to Wei Danbai, born of the same mother, and he was Wei Tianchong's cousin, not just some random bystander off the street. Wei Tianchong's words were putting him on the same level as those money-hungry distant relatives.

His Ji Clan was still a famous clan of Yongkang City, and when Wei Lanxin had been married to his father, the Wei Clan had not been so illustrious yet. These clans had once been well-matched in social status, so why were they now like complete strangers?

But he knew that now was not the time to offend Wei Tianchong, so he restrained his anger and clarified, "The Ji Clan is not taking this spot for free. Ziqian came this time to enter as a servant student."

"I see." Wei Tianchong laughed. "Then I wrongly blamed you."

Ji Ziqian was delighted to hear this, believing that he had explained everything clearly. But to his surprise, Wei Tianchong clapped his hands and said, "Since you're a servant student, then that means you've come to be my servant, right? Great! Shi Mo, tell him the rules and have him know what he's going to do."

"What?" Ji Ziqian was dumbfounded, feeling like he had been struck by a bolt of lightning.

But Wei Tianchong had already turned around and left.

Shi Mo chuckled and walked over to stand in front of Ji Ziqian. "Young Master Ji… oh, no; I should just call you 'Ziqian' now. The estate doesn't have many rules, but each one is very important. The first thing a servant should understand is seniority and social standing. Thus, the first rule is that when you see the young master next time, you can't call him 'Little Brother Chong' or 'Cousin'. Just like us, you must call him 'Young Master'…"

Ji Ziqian was utterly dumbfounded.

Shi Mo was still talking. "In addition, what's going on with a servant bringing along a servant? That attendant behind Ziqian—where the hell did he come from? So filthy! Best to have him leave at once so that he doesn't dirty the Meditation Garden. My Wei Estate can't stand a person like this…"

On the other end, Wei Tianchong returned to his room. Sticking out his tongue, he said, "Shi Meng, did I do well?"

He no longer seemed as brash and arrogant as before.

"Naturally. Young Master's performance was flawless. Anyone who saw it would understand Young Master's words to be measured and reasonable," Shi Meng flattered.

Wei Tianchong sighed. "That's good, then. But don't you think we're doing a little too much? He's still my cousin. Having him call me 'Young Master' doesn't seem right."

Shi Mo smiled. "You're not the one telling him to call you 'Young Master'. You're just having him learn the rules. He's coming to be a servant student, so he needs to know some of the basic rules. Isn't that very normal? Even an honored guest from outside would have to be reminded about where they can and cannot go. As for the details of the rules, those are all being taught by Shi Mo, so what does it have to do with you? It's Shi Mo who's saying that he should call you 'Young Master'…"

"But when he calls me 'Young Master', how should I respond?"

"Once you get used to it, you won't care. In the end, isn't it all up to you, Young Master? Ji Ziqian is coming here as a servant student and just following the rules. If he is willing to call you 'Young Master', it can't be considered breaking the rules, right? And is there a reason you can't accept it?"

"True." Wei Tianchong nodded. "Fortunately, Auntie isn't here today. If she had been, I wouldn't have been able to say any of this."

Wei Lanxin was his aunt, and he would never be able to force his cousin to call him 'Young Master' and act like a servant in front of his aunt.

Just like the teacher, she had the authority to beat him.

He couldn't help but feel awe for those people who had the privilege to beat him!

Shi Meng giggled. "Since he's a servant now, his family… It's best to meet family as little as possible. Rules are rules, and if any random visitor suddenly means the rules don't exist anymore, what's the point of rules? So Young Master Ji must keep this rule, as must the lady of the Ji Clan!"

"Even my aunt has to follow the rules?" Wei Tianchong shouted. "You must be joking! Impossible!"

Shi Meng lowered his head. "The madame naturally does not need to follow the rules of the Meditation Garden, but she must follow the rules of the Wei Estate."

Hypersheep325's Notes:

If Ji Ziqian wants to be a servant student, he's got to act like a servant! It's only natural.

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