AIP - Chapter 25: Fall
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"Who did this?" the lady angrily roared as she looked up at the bound Tang Jie on the tree.
The boy servants on the side all trembled in fear, not daring to speak.
In truth, this was a pointless question. Who else besides Wei Tianchong would have been so bold as to do this?
The lady had clearly realized this. She yelled, "Wen Qing, why haven't you brought him down yet? Shi Meng, go and wake up Chong'er. What time is it that he's still sleeping? Shi Mo, talk! What happened?"
Shi Mo recounted what had happened last night in a terrified and shaky voice. He naturally didn't say anything good about Tang Jie, saying only that Tang Jie had gotten in the way of Wei Tianchong's fun and even killed the young master's horse. Enraged, the young master had whipped him.
But Zheng Shufeng was a sharp lady, and she immediately knew that something was wrong.
Tang Jie had been with the estate for some time now, and she had some understanding of him. She knew Tang Jie to have a calm and composed personality, and he would never do something without a reason. Noticing the lie in Shi Mo's recount, she immediately slapped him. "Bastard thing, even daring to deceive me? Chen Yan, Chen Xin, separate these children and question them individually!"
The brothers Chen Yan and Chen Xin were the guards of the Meditation Garden.
Although she wasn't a professional interrogator, questioning the witnesses separately was something a professional interrogator would have chosen to do.
These children had little experience in the ways of the world, so a few questions soon had them spilling the beans.
When Zheng Shufeng heard that her son had gone off to the mountains to drink wine and even planned to ride up the mountain in the middle of the night, she became so angry that she started shaking.
At this time, Wei Tianchong came over.
The intoxication had faded, as had his anger. When he saw Tang Jie's body lying on the ground and his mother, he felt all of his arrogance leaving him, and he obediently walked up to his mother and said, "Mom…"
Before he could say anything, Zheng Shufeng slapped her son on the face.
Wei Tianchong was dumbfounded by this slap. Meanwhile, Zheng Shufeng began to scold her son, "Will you only be satisfied when you've angered me to death? Drinking wine and trying to ride a horse up Welcoming Dragon Mountain, and even almost whipping Tang Jie to death! How could I have given birth to such a good-for-nothing!?"
She grew angrier the more she thought about it. She took out her lash and began to mindlessly beat Wei Tianchong.
Wei Tianchong had never tasted such pain before, and he began to yowl in pain. As he ran around, he shouted, "That kid killed my horse! My horse! What's wrong with me hitting him? I'm the young master!"
"And I'm your mother!" The lady began to strike him even more savagely.
But in the end, this was her son. Once she saw that she had beaten Wei Tianchong's face into a swollen mess, even drawing blood, she hesitated and eased her strikes.
But the thought of how ignorant her son was continued to cause her to shake in rage.
The young master saw that his mother had stopped hitting him, so his courage came back, and he stubbornly said, "What's wrong with me riding a horse up the mountain? I'm very good at riding, so nothing would have happened. Besides, even if he wanted to stop me, why did he have to kill my horse? He's my servant, yet he dared to kill my horse! Why shouldn't I be able to punish him?"
"Still don't know your errors?" Zheng Shufeng pointed at her son and cursed, "Welcoming Dragon Mountain has steep slopes, and you wanted to ride up that mountain with your meager skill? You're seeking death! You had your servants stop Tang Jie, and he couldn't hit you, so what could he do except kill your horse? And you hoodlums! You were meant to serve the young master, but what have you done? You did not stop the young master from committing errors, and you even forced Tang Jie to kill the horse! Bastards, the lot of you! Leave the estate at once!"
These words caused Wen Qing and the others to turn deathly pale.
The boys all kneeled on the ground, trembling as they begged for mercy. Fortunately, the old nanny next to Zheng Shufeng said, "My lady, if you really drive all of them away, who will serve the young master? You also know that they are all servants. For some things… they truly cannot be counted on to stop. That Tang Jie was quite the bold one, daring to even kill the young master's horse. It is no wonder the young master was angry."
"You're speaking up for them," the lady said as she glared at the nanny.
This nanny was Wei Tianchong's wet nurse, who had a rather high status in the estate, so she did not fear the lady much. Smiling, she said, "I just feel that even if you drive these people away and bring another batch, the same thing will happen."
Zheng Shufeng thought it over and realized that this was right. But she was still angry, so she glared at the boys and harrumphed, "Since that's the case, I'll keep you around for now. Once the Master returns, we'll decide how to deal with them!"
The young master shouted, "For what reason!? Shi Mo and the others are my servants. No one else is allowed to touch them. Without that Tang Jie, I would have been perfectly fine yesterday!"
"Still not convinced? Alright, since you said that you would be fine, let me see it! One of you, bring over a horse and have him ride it up Welcoming Dragon Mountain! It's day now and you're not drunk, so you can see the road clearly. Let me see if you can ride a horse up the mountain!"
"Alright!" Wei Tianchong agreed.
For some things, one would never know how difficult they were unless one tried to do them!
When Wei Tianchong rode his horse up to the base of Welcoming Dragon Mountain and saw the steep mountain path and the summit that pierced into the clouds, his heart trembled.
At night, he hadn't been able to see it clearly, but now that he had another look at it, he realized that it truly was a difficult path. How was it that he had not noticed earlier?
"What? Afraid?" Zheng Shufeng asked with a cold look at her son.
Boys couldn't handle being provoked.
Wei Tianchong raised his head and said, "Who said that? I was just looking at the path… Watch me!"
He raised his whip and had the horse gallop up the mountain.
It was easy at the start, the slopes not steep and the ground rather close.
But as he got higher, the road became increasingly uneven, with stones littering the path. The slightest lack of caution would cause the horse's body to tilt.
A third of the way up the mountain, the winds began to pick up, constantly howling around. The summit was still distant, and Wei Tianchong's heart began to thump.
He no longer dared to charge forward, leading his horse to carefully trot forward. Though it was slower, it was much better than not reaching the summit.
If he could reach the summit, he could prove that he was right. This was how Wei Tianchong encouraged himself.
Alas, reality was not as pretty as his imagination. Welcoming Dragon Mountain was no servant of the Wei Clan and had no need to give face to the young master.
He wasn't even halfway up the mountain. At this time, a mountain path appeared before Wei Tianchong.
This mountain path was not too narrow, at least twenty feet in width, but both sides were steep, bare cliffs. It was far more frightening than the road that had run around the mountain.
Wei Tianchong grew fearful. He wanted to turn back, but he also wasn't willing to give up, so he rode the horse forward.
As he trotted on that unshielded mountain path, a gust blew across, causing the horse and rider to both sway.
Wei Tianchong occasionally glanced down and saw a dizzying and seemingly bottomless abyss.
"Hold!" Wei Tianchong shouted.
Although he was afraid, he had a stubborn personality and was unwilling to back down no matter what. His horse slowly pressed forward, traversing the mountain path like it was walking along a steel wire.
At this moment, the horse suddenly stepped on a rock, and its body tilted. Wei Tianchong hastily pulled on the reins to try and stabilize the horse.
But he put too much power into it, and as the horse got its footing back, Wei Tianchong lost control of his body. He fell off the horse, and after tumbling over on the ground a few times, he rolled straight off the cliff.
He actually could have stopped himself, but fear had drained his body of strength. Unable to hold on, he tumbled off the mountain path and into the abyss.
"Noooo!" Wei Tianchong wailed in fear.
Just when he thought he was dead, a beam of spiritual light shot out, wrapped around Wei Tianchong, and stopped his fall.
Wei Tianchong raised his head in shock and saw a white-bearded elder floating in the air, the spirit line in his hand wrapped around Wei Tianchong. With a pull, the elder brought Wei Tianchong to his side, after which he laughed and took Wei Tianchong back down the mountain. He moved with deceptive speed, and in the blink of an eye, he had arrived in front of Lady Wei.
The elder saluted Zheng Shufeng and said, "I have fulfilled my duty!"
"Mom!" Wei Tianchong looked at his mother. His legs were still trembling, and he suddenly felt wetness between his legs. Looking down, he saw that he had wet his pants just now.
There was a burst of muffled laughter.
Zheng Shufeng coldly snorted. "Riding a horse in the day and you weren't even able to get halfway up the mountain. You still think your horsemanship is good?"
Wei Tianchong could no longer say anything.
"Good-for-nothing son, why haven't you thanked Master Lu for saving you?"
Wei Tianchong was just about to thank him when the elder waved his hand, "Forget it. I wasn't the one who saved you; it was Tang Jie… Don't let this happen again, Young Master!"
When Tang Jie awoke, he found that he was lying in a bed.
It was an extremely soft bed, the quilt made from satin, and there was even incense burning in the room. The environment was very elegant, so this was clearly not a servant's dwelling.
Tang Jie was startled, but when he tried to stand up, he discovered that he was wrapped up like a sticky rice dumpling.
At this moment, a maid came in with a wash basin. Looking at Tang Jie, she smiled and said, "You're awake."
Tang Jie recognized this maid. She was called 'Shi Yue', and she was one of the lady's maids.
"So it was Elder Sister Shi Yue. What is this place? Why am I here?" Tang Jie already had a good idea about what was going on from the smile on Shi Yue's face, but he still feigned ignorance.
Shi Yue walked over, wet a towel, and wiped Tang Jie's face. "This is Fragrant Perch, the room used for honored guests. Don't worry; it was the lady who ordered you to be brought here. You're blessed!"
Shi Yue then gave him a general account of what had happened while he was 'unconscious'.
"The lady said that you did right and did well. This time, it was because the young master was too unreasonable, and the lady harshly punished him. He's not permitted to leave his house for three months. As for Shi Mo and Shi Meng, they were originally going to be fired, but the wet nurse spoke up for them, so their punishment was put off."
Though Shi Mo and Shi Meng were slave servants, they still had a background. Just like how Tang Jie had been recommended by the chief steward, Shi Mo and Shi Meng had also managed to get in through connections with their relatives. In Shi Mo's case, he was a child of a relative of the wet nurse. Otherwise, the wet nurse would not have been able to speak up on their behalf.
As young masters usually grew up on the milk of their wet nurses, in ancient times, wet nurses enjoyed higher status in these large clans. The most famous wet nurse in history was Madame Ke, who had been the wet nurse to the Tianqi Emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Zhu Youjiao, and for a time, one could say that the balances of power had been reversed.
To all that had transpired, Tang Jie was nonchalant.
Although the wet nurse's words had prevented the lady from driving out Shi Mo and Shi Meng, after this incident, both of them had fallen in favor, and it would be very difficult to recover.
Some errors could not be committed!
As expected, Shi Yue said, "Even so, the lady plans to move Shi Mo away from the young master's side."
"Who will take Shi Mo's place?"
"Isn't that what they're talking about right now? The chief steward recommended you, saying that you're mature and composed, but the second steward and third steward have their own candidates, saying that you would be recovering for some time or that you're unqualified. Hmph! In any case, they all want to recommend their own people. The master and the lady are still discussing the matter. The lady prefers you, but the master has some apprehensions…"
Shi Yue looked around, and when she was sure that no one else was around, she whispered to Tang Jie, "Immortal Master Lu went to look at the horse you killed and said that your stab was vicious and decisive, taking the horse's life with a single blow. Such accuracy and lethality is not something an ordinary boy should have. And since your background is still somewhat murky, the master is still rather wary."
His persistent bribes had finally worked, and both Yanzhi and Shi Yue were now on friendly terms with Tang Jie. This was why Yanzhi reported to the lady immediately on seeing Tang Jie, and why Shi Yue had warned Tang Jie about what the master was thinking.
"Thank you, Elder Sister Shi. I understand."
"You're not worried?" Shi Yue saw the unperturbed look on Tang Jie's face and became rather curious.
Tang Jie smiled. "The human heart will reveal itself in time. For some things, rushing will do no good."
Shi Yue also smiled. "What a good temper you have. Oh, this is some spirit medicine the lady got from Immortal Master Lu. Once you take it, your injuries should recover more quickly."
Saying this, she took out a medicine bottle, removed a single pill, and placed the pill in Tang Jie's mouth.
The pill melted in Tang Jie's mouth, and Tang Jie felt a stream of spiritual energy flowing through his body, carrying with it an indescribably comfortable warmth. This energy flowed through his meridians, producing an effect far greater than that of the Visceral Manifestation Classic.
Tang Jie's eyes brightened. "A wonderful medicine!"
"Of course! This is an Immortal's spirit medicine. Immortal Master Lu is normally reluctant to use it. He even told me that I should bring him back the rest once you were healed."
In truth, Tang Jie could heal his wounds very quickly so long as he wanted it.
But after hearing Shi Yue's words, he suddenly felt like resting up in bed for a few days wasn't a bad idea.