AIP - Chapter 22: Learning From Nature
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The young master was delighted. "Interesting, interesting! Why don't you do it and let me have a look, then?"
"I need materials to do it," Tang Jie replied.
"That's no problem. If you need anything, talk with Wen Qing. Tell him that I wanted it. How much time do you need?"
"Ten days to half a month."
"That's too slow!"
"If I had someone to help me, the work would go faster."
"Alright, I'll have a few of them help you. They'll listen to your orders." The young master waved his hand, handing over all his boy servants for Tang Jie to use.
Shi Mo and Shi Meng glanced at each other. How had they become Tang Jie's subordinates in the blink of an eye?
Tang Jie smirked as he bowed and answered, "Yes, Young Master!"
From that point, the boy servants of the Meditation Garden began to work for Tang Jie.
Shi Mo and Shi Meng had originally worried that Tang Jie would use this opportunity to deal with them, but Tang Jie did not. Rather, he used this opportunity to get closer to everyone.
Firming up one's own foundation would always be more important than striking out at one's opponents. Forgiving one's opponents would more easily win respect than beating them down. Tang Jie was well aware of this.
Sure enough, this way of doing things won everyone's favor, and even the elders of the estate felt that Tang Jie was a decent boy. They knew very well that Shi Mo and his lot were hostile to Tang Jie, and they admired Tang Jie for not taking revenge.
The young master no longer had the boy servants to mess around with, so whenever he was free he would come by to see how Tang Jie was doing, occasionally helping a little himself.
Of course, it actually would have been better if he hadn't helped, and he only added to their work, but nobody dared to question him. As for him, the more he played, the happier he became.
For a time, the garden became the most active place of the Meditation Garden, and it wasn't long before the flower statues began to rise. Tang Jie depicted all sorts of things: humans, toys, pavilions—he made this little flower garden into a world of its own, brimming with fun and interesting things.
Of course, Tang Jie considered what everyone could accept and didn't make anything too unreasonable. He mostly stuck to common objects.
Even so, once the work was done, the Wei Estate was given quite the shock. Even the venerable master, the venerable lady, the master, and the lady all came to take a look.
This was the first time Tang Jie was seeing the venerable master and his wife.
Patriarch Wei Danbai was a middle-aged man with a very dignified appearance, exuding power even when silent. This man placed a heavy emphasis on the rules, so he didn't much like this play from Tang Jie. But the venerable master was rather amused, believing that while this was somewhat playing to the crowd, it was also very clever. The old man had spent too long in this estate and had grown bored with it. Now that he had something so fresh and new, he naturally had to praise Tang Jie a little.
Since both the venerable master and his wife liked it, Wei Danbai couldn't say that he did not.
For this effort, Lady Zheng Shufeng gave Tang Jie five taels of silver.
Tang Jie took the five taels of silver home and bought a large amount of medicine for the Wu couple so that they could stay healthy. When the lady learned of this, she became even more satisfied with Tang Jie. Besides that, Young Master Wei Tianchong also became more familiar with Tang Jie and no longer ignored his presence.
In the eyes of Shi Mo's group, this was an awful development. Even the other servants of the Wei Clan began to look at Tang Jie differently.
"You're giving this to me?" Yanzhi asked in delight as she held the cosmetic powder in her hands.
Tang Jie grinned. "Yes. I was passing by the Treasure House store and saw that some new products had come in from Endsea. I remembered that today was Elder Sister Yanzhi's birthday. Since Sister is called Yanzhi (Rouge), I thought that this cosmetic powder would be perfect for you. It just so happened that the lady rewarded me with a few taels of silver, and I still had some left after buying the medicine for my elders, so I bought it as a birthday present. Sister, please accept this."
In truth, she wasn't actually older than Tang Jie, but due to their status, the servants of the Wei Estate normally addressed the maids of the lady as 'Elder Sister'.
Yanzhi rolled her eyes at him and then smiled. "You're quite considerate, though I'm sure that it was intentional rather than a coincidence."
Tang Jie smiled and said nothing.
Of the six major sects of the Rosecloud Domain, the Thousand Passions Sect and Horizon Ocean Pavilion had the most women. For this reason, the Endsea Kingdom was renowned for its cosmetic powder. A small box of cosmetic powder, even of the most ordinary brand, would cost seven to eight hundred strings of cash. Yanzhi would never believe that Tang Jie had gotten this idea on the spur of the moment, but this only increased her good impression of Tang Jie.
Putting away the powder, Yanzhi looked at Tang Jie and said, "You seem to be a tactful person. Not bad. You've done well."
With these words, she turned and left.
She didn't give Tang Jie any promise, but Tang Jie knew that this gift meant that Yanzhi would no longer bring him any trouble.
Of course, Yanzhi had needed a gift, but he also needed to improve his relationship with the other servants.
Fortunately, he was on orders from the young master to arrange the flowers into various figures. Although the ones he had done earlier were good, children craved new things, so it wouldn't be long before he would have to change things up.
In order to constantly change up flowers, he needed many resources, needed metal wire and other such things, and Tang Jie now wielded some authority so that he could acquire these resources. However, now that Wei Tianchong's interest had cooled, he no longer cared about the process, only the result. Thus, he took back his boy servants.
Free of supervision, Tang Jie could now embezzle some of the items. He even had some purchasing power, and some merchants would give him some extras to get in his good graces so that they could do business with the Wei Estate. Thus, Tang Jie was already making some gray income. It wasn't a lot, but it was enough to buy out those servants and get closer to them.
As for embezzlement… if he didn't embezzle, how could he be a proper servant?
All those officials hoping for promotion and those people lined up in front of the room to take the civil examination… were they all doing it for the sake of the people?
After saying goodbye to Yanzhi, Tang Jie returned to the flowerbed to continue his work.
Though the landscaping art had drawn the young master's attention, it had also increased his workload and left him without time to study the Dao of Formations.
If Tang Jie couldn't complete his study of formations before entering school, he wouldn't have much time to do so in the future.
This was a source of some frustration to him.
Today, as he was looking at the flowers and grass, he had a sudden thought.
Why not use the flower garden to research formations?
In this period of time, to avoid being discovered, he had only done theoretical study. He knew the contents of the book Xu Muyang had given to him by heart, and it could be said that all he lacked was a chance to put theory into practice.
Xu Muyang's Dao of Formations emphasized learning from nature, and this was the perfect environment.
Of course, this was the Wei Clan, so he couldn't lay down any kind of lethal formations. Illusion and maze formations, however, were fine. If necessary, he could even make a maze for the young master to play in. He just needed to be careful and ensure that no one found out.
The Wei Estate had Spirit Masters, and Tang Jie knew that he would have to work hard to hide any formation from them.
Different uses had different requirements.
Formations were mostly used for defense. Major sects used them as barriers, comparable to the walls used in ancient times back on Earth. But some formations required the enemy to be lured inside, so they needed to be perfectly concealed.
Xu Muyang's concept of learning from nature perfectly met this requirement for concealment. Thus, he had been extremely skilled in concealing his formations, which had played a major role in his ability to lay down the Eight Gates Heavenseal Formation while being pursued by He Chong and keep it hidden until it was activated.
As that was the case, he needed to study his concealment techniques well.
In Xu Muyang's treatise, he had a section specifically focused on how to hide a formation.
To conceal a formation's existence, one needed to naturally merge the formation with the surrounding environment, requiring every blade of grass to be a natural part of the formation. All things had spiritual energy running through them, and different combinations would result in different functions.
There were natural forbidden grounds in the world, and this was frequently because the surrounding environment inadvertently created a spiritual energy circuit, thus creating a natural formation.
What Tang Jie needed was to understand the attributes of the spiritual energies in the flowers and grass, how the spiritual energy flowed, and then to determine how to arrange them so that they naturally merged together.
But turning a formation into a design that actually worked was easier said than done. Even Xu Muyang's book had not contained any such records. After all, he had never needed to apply his skills to gardening. Thus, Tang Jie had to research this himself.
More than half a year went by as he continued his research.
He had focused on merging landscaping art with formations, but he had not made much progress. The servants had received gifts from him and no longer caused him any trouble. As for Shi Mo and Shi Meng, they still felt unhappy over being forced to work with him that one time. Though they had yet to take their revenge, they still wanted to teach him a lesson. It was just that they didn't know how. Besides that, the young master had recently been treating Tang Jie rather favorably, so they were wary about acting. As a result, this period of time had been very calm and peaceful.
Today, Tang Jie was still busying himself in the flowerbed, creating a garden maze.
A plant maze was one of the most difficult formations to detect. Even if those in the maze got lost, they would believe that it was the work of the maze, not a formation.
But bringing the two together was not easy. Natural mazes relied on complex and intersecting paths to confuse, but formations relied on the circulation of spiritual energy to achieve their effect. While they both had the same effect, the underlying principles were completely different. If one were to look at the composition of the formation from the outside, one would find that it had nothing at all to do with a maze.
Tang Jie had wracked his brains but had still not been able to solve the problem.
Today, he was continuing his research. Suddenly, he heard a girl ask, "Eh? What's this?"
He turned and saw a graceful little girl wearing a moon-white flowery jacket and gold-threaded shoes walk over, a jade hairpin in her hair. She was very pretty, and moved with elegance and grace. Behind her were two attending maids.
The moment Tang Jie saw the girl, he hastily bowed. "Fourth Young Lady."
This Fourth Young Lady was Wei Qingsong's daughter, Wei Die. She was Wei Tianchong's older cousin, a few days older than him. Among the seven children of Wei Danbai and Wei Qingsong, she was fourth in age, so she was called 'the Fourth Young Lady'. Tang Jie had met her twice before, but it was always from a distance, and they never had any chance to talk.
Now that she was walking over, Tang Jie naturally needed to bow.
Wei Die looked at the garden and said, "So you're Tang Jie? I've heard your name quite a lot recently. I saw your work a few days ago, and I have to say that you did a good job. But what are you working on today? I really can't tell."
Tang Jie hurriedly answered, "It's a maze."
"A maze…" A tinge of helplessness appeared in Wei Die's eyes. "Isn't the Wei Clan itself a maze? Why waste the effort in making another one?"
There was a sense of boundless resentment in her voice.
The two maids lightly coughed, but Wei Die appeared not to notice.
This girl who was about Tang Jie's age seemed to have many worries.
Tang Jie pretended not to hear, saying with a smile, "The Wei Estate is a major undertaking, so it would be no exaggeration to call it a maze. But my maze is different, meant to show the grandeur in the small. If Fourth Young Lady is interested, you can try it out."
"Forget it." Wei Die shook her head. "There are so many intersecting paths inside, I'm already dizzy from looking at it from the outside. If I really went in, I don't know what would happen, nor do I have the energy to waste on it. I hope that my little brother will like it."
She looked at Tang Jie. "You're putting in so much effort, so I presume that you have your sights set on Basking Moon Academy?"
Tang Jie bowed. "If it is possible to go, that would naturally be for the best."
He did not conceal his desires. A hint of unwillingness appeared in Wei Die's eyes as she resentfully said, "Why… why is it that even you servants can seek the Immortal path while we women don't even get that chance? 'Fourth Young Lady'? I don't even match up to a maid!"
She stomped her feet and stormed off.
As Tang Jie watched her leave, he mentally shook his head.
So that's what it was about.