AIP - Chapter 31: Heart Like a Mirror
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Ji Ziqian left.
He had come brimming with confidence and grandeur, and left with an ashen complexion.
But the rage of Lady Wei had only just begun.
Seated on the raised platform, Zheng Shufeng coldly looked down on the servants. She said in an icy tone, "Talk! Who incited the young master against his own cousin?"
Though Zheng Shufeng had said in front of Wei Lanxin that she had intended to have Ji Ziqian take on some servant duties, which wasn't a lie, arranging things oneself was entirely different from having the servants arrange things.
If she had arranged things, she undoubtedly would have mediated with the Ji Clan first, and allowances and understanding could have been obtained for many things. But when the servants decided matters, that was truly just giving Ji Ziqian a hard time.
This question had all the servants trembling in fear, not daring to speak. Only Wei Tianchong stiffened his neck and said, "It was my own idea. Since he came here to be my servant…"
"Don't try that with me!" Zheng Shufeng slapped the back of her chair. "Ji Ziqian is still your cousin. If not for these servants egging you on, when would you have ever been so bold as to try this?"
She once more scanned the servants and snorted. "Don't think I don't know what all of you are thinking. Do you all take the servant student spot as meat in your bowl that you're free to eat? If someone tried to touch your bowl, you would naturally fight back… but this spot is the Wei Clan's, not yours!"
As Zheng Shufeng shouted, the servants dropped their heads even lower. Even Tang Jie did not dare to speak at a critical moment like this.
She was right.
This was the Wei Clan's wealth. It was no one else's business who the Wei Clan wanted to give it to.
If it was given to you, you must give thanks!
If it was not given to you, you had better not complain!
But greed would make them forget all this. All of their schemes were for something that wasn't even theirs, that they had somehow regarded as their exclusive property.
Tang Jie couldn't help but sigh at this thought.
Big Brother Xu, you were right. My bottom line as a person truly is a little low.
Ah, forget it. This chance at cultivation is no longer just about my dreams. This is about revenge for Xu Muyang!
To avenge Xu Muyang, he had wiped away his kind heart so that he could do what needed to be done. If he succeeded, he would just have to treat the Wei Clan better.
I might have a low bottom line, but at least I have one. I will repay the kindness shown to me by my benefactors, Tang Jie told himself.
Zheng Shufeng was still shouting, "Talk! Who gave you this idea?"
Wei Tianchong obstinately refused to answer.
While this kid had quite a few problems, one good thing about him was his loyalty. After all, he was in an era where promises and trust were important.
In the modern era, 'debt dodgers' could live a free and unfettered life through shamelessness, but if someone in this era became known for such conduct, even strangers would spit on them while passing by.
In this world of Immortals where a single person could be stronger than an entire army, when normal martial strength was incapable of binding those powerful inhumans, reputation could be the only restraint.
It was for this reason that the education system had emphasized reputation and loyalty for hundreds of years, making it so that even the powerful individuals of the Immortal Platform Realm were unwilling to be cursed for all time.
Of course, there were always exceptions.
Thus, storytellers normally told stories about loyalty in the martial world, about upholding promises, about friends willing to sacrifice for each other. Wei Tianchong lived in this kind of era, and the word 'loyalty' had been rooted in his bones. No matter how much Zheng Shufeng scolded him, he would never open his mouth.
Alas, Zheng Shufeng was a smart woman. She coldly snorted and said, "You think that I won't be able to guess so long as you don't talk? Who would be affected most by Ziqian's entry into the academy? Isn't it just those scoundrels who think that they have a chance at succeeding? Shi Meng, Shi Mo, Tang Jie, Bao Liang! The four of you, step forward!"
The four boy servants stepped forward together, and Zheng Shufeng passed her harsh gaze over them before ultimately placing her gaze on Shi Mo. "Shi Mo, talk! Were you the one who incited this incident?"
Shi Mo was startled. Knowing that he couldn't hide it from the lady, he toughened up and said, "My lady, it was truly this lowly one's idea to have the young master teach Young Master Ji, but this lowly one only suggested that Young Master teach Young Master Ji some of the rules. After all, if this lowly one is not at the young master's side, Shi Meng alone might not be able to serve two masters. I had no intention of making trouble for anyone. If my lady does not believe me, you may ask…"
"There's no need to ask. I know that you didn't try to give him a hard time in particular, for dealing with Ji Ziqian requires nothing of the sort. Some ordinary work and a few cold jeers is enough to hit his limit. You think you can deceive me?" Zheng Shufeng roared. "And also, don't think that you alone can take responsibility for everything. You aren't enough to create such a mess!"
Shi Mo lowered his head and said nothing.
Though he had promised Yanzhi that he wouldn't snitch, deep down, he was hoping that the lady would see through him with her sharp eyes, as he had no desire to shoulder all the responsibility alone.
Not only was there happiness from bringing someone down with him, but also and most importantly, the law could not punish the masses. If the majority of the Wei Estate's servants were involved in this incident, the lady would have no choice but to restrain herself.
After all, no matter how big the clan, it needed the support of its servants. This was the basic foundation on which he had dared to step forward.
Zheng Shufeng looked at Shi Mo and knew that his actions had been silently approved, and she became so angry that she began to tremble. "Good, very good! A bunch of hoodlums, all of them lawless! If I really let all of you go to the academy and become Immortals, there's no telling how you will actually treat the Wei Clan in the future! Rather than trusting in you, it might be better to trust in those Immortal Masters hired with silver! I think that none of you should go to the academy. My Wei Clan doesn't need its own Immortal Masters!"
These were heavy words, and everyone paled. In the end, Chief Steward Qin lightly coughed. "My lady, these words are inappropriate…"
Rules that could be casually broken were not rules!
And Spirit Masters raised by the clan were very different from Spirit Masters hired from the outside.
This wasn't just a question of loyalty.
Loyalty was actually one of the least trustworthy things of all.
Hundreds of years of human history had proved that when a master prospered, even surrendered soldiers were loyal, and when the master was in peril, even their own family would run out of loyalty.
The argument that Immortals from one's own clan were more loyal was just an explanation to fool outsiders. In truth, this was the part with the least value.
In terms of usability, outside Spirit Masters were more useful than clan Spirit Masters. After all, they were paid monthly, and if they didn't work, they didn't get paid.
The true difference between outside Spirit Masters and clan Spirit Masters was not loyalty, but that no matter how much money an outside Spirit Master was paid, they would never pass on their Immortal arts to you.
Only a clan's own Spirit Master had the privilege, willingness, reason, and possibility of obtaining approval to pass down Immortal arts, creating a true cultivator clan. And the families established by these Spirit Masters would often have significant connections with their originating clans, sometimes directly by marriage.
For example, if Tang Jie became a Spirit Master and wanted to continue his cultivation but could not repay the Wei Clan, the best method would be to marry a daughter of the Wei Clan and leave behind a descendant.
If the Wei Clan didn't have a marriageable daughter or the Spirit Master didn't take a liking to a girl, it was fine. They could find a maid to take as an adopted daughter, upon which the descendant would still be linked to the Wei Clan by marriage, and other kinds of blood relationships could form. Of course, the details depended on the Spirit Master's future prospects. Taking Shi Yue as an example, if Tang Jie managed to succeed and also took a liking to her, she could jump into the position of young lady of the house, her status even higher than Wei Lanxin's, and her future son might even be able to inherit the Wei Clan!
A clan that wanted to persist for a hundred, a thousand years, had to rely on this lineage. As for loyalty… did anyone really think that loyalty was worth a million taels of silver?
Moreover, the servant student rule had been passed down for several hundred years. The servants were willing to work for the lowest price precisely for this chance. The profit chain between servants meant that one loyal servant could bring up a whole host of loyal servants, with far-reaching effects. If the Wei Estate broke this rule, the servants would rebel, and even other clans would speak on their behalf and caution against it.
The complicated web of relationships between the servants meant that a matter that concerned one person concerned a large number of them. Otherwise, Ji Ziqian would not have encountered such stiff opposition, and Xu Ruogu would not have been so confident that Godhead Palace would not destroy his clan.
The crisscrossing human network had always been the most important guarantor.
The only difference was that mortals had mortal networks and Immortals had Immortal networks.
When it came to outside Spirit Masters, the clan enjoyed the benefits of only a single person.
When it came to clan Spirit Masters, it wasn't just the one Spirit Master, but also the power of lineage and the strength of the network the Spirit Master would develop over his lifetime.
Thus, in the end, Zheng Shufeng's words were merely spoken in rage. She did not have the ability, daring, or permission to break this rule.
But her rage had yet to subside. Though Steward Qin's warning was correct, she was not willing to listen. She glared at Steward Qin and said, "Don't think that I'm blind. How was it that that pine-plum vase suddenly appeared next to the door? Why were we immediately informed when the trouble started at the Meditation Garden? How did even the venerable master find out so quickly? And how did we arrive just in time to hear Wei Lanxin speak those unbearable words? These little kids aren't enough to think of such a sinister scheme. Some of their elders might have been messing around behind the curtains, hmmm? Right, Qin Yuan, don't you think that the Clear Yang Pavilion is a little too far from the Meditation Garden? And here I thought you were loyal and honest!"
Steward Qin was so frightened that he broke out in a cold sweat, but he could only smile and say, "My lady has always been wise, but no one has the power to stop the madame from saying what she wants."
He had not explicitly denied Zheng Shufeng's accusations.
Smart servants knew when to act dumb.
Smart masters knew when to let go.
Zheng Shufeng was very smart, so she would never investigate this matter thoroughly. She only threw out these questions as a deliberate show of strength, a warning to these people to not think that she was some senile woman.
I'll play dumb for now and let you go, but you had better put an end to those petty thoughts! This spot belongs to the Wei Clan, and it's not your place to decide who it goes to!
Thus, Steward Qin did not argue, only pointing out Wei Lanxin's wrongs.
Qin Yuan was also right. Clear Yang Pavilion was rather far, but it was not so far that it was impossible to see Wei Tianchong. To tell the truth, it was because Wei Lanxin hadn't taken Wei Tianchong seriously. The difficulties Wei Tianchong had inflicted on Ji Ziqian were truthfully the most basic requirements for a servant student. Bluntly speaking, Ji Ziqian hadn't been conscious of his duty in the slightest. Moreover, while the servants had schemed against him, the servants couldn't control Wei Lanxin's mouth and her lack of self-control. She could only blame her foul mouth and her inability to act properly.
In the end, this was all because they had problems that were exploited by others.
Zheng Shufeng understood this. In any case, she didn't like Wei Lanxin, so she had used this opportunity to drive her out and put an end to the matter.
Everyone had reached a tacit understanding. The servants had helped Zheng Shufeng dispose of the troublesome Ji Clan, and in return, they were able to safely enjoy those two spots. It was only with this tacit understanding that everyone could coexist in harmony.
Thus, after venting her rage some more, Zheng Shufeng made the unprecedented decision to not punish anyone. Truly, she had raised them up high and then gently put them back down.
With an "Out!" from Zheng Shufeng, all the servants fled as if they had been granted a pardon. Steward Qin and Tang Jie left at the very end, neither of them saying a word. It was only when they were almost out of the estate that Tang Jie smiled and said, "Uncle Qin, thank you for all your help this time."
"Ah, I've boarded the pirate ship!" Steward Qin helplessly sighed, but there was no regret in his eyes.
He looked at Tang Jie. "Though you did well this time, it's had a bad effect. It's a good thing that Shi Mo took the blame for everything, so you don't need to worry too much. If all goes as expected, once the young master enters school, you will be joining him, so let me congratulate you now."
But Tang Jie lightly said, "I don't think so. Actually, Shi Mo still has a chance."
"Mm?" Steward Qin was taken aback. "After that incident last time, you said that he didn't have a chance. After this big mess, why are you now saying that he has a chance?"
"It's precisely because of this big mess that Shi Mo has a chance." Tang Jie sighed.
"A Great Heart Demon Aspiration!"