Chapter 26: Slaughter (Part One)
Fang Jie swayed his legs as he lay inside the horse-drawn carriage, looking casual.
Da Quan was acting as the groom, and he would grab a small piece of stewed meat that was wrapped in oilpaper on the side to eat from time to time. The meat was easy to chew, but it was also frozen.
This was one of the many packs of stewed meat from Yun’s Meat Shop, and Du Hongxian made them. These were the things in the bag that she was holding that night.
Although Fang Jie was injured and wasn’t able to leave for several days, it was cold in Fangu so that food rarely spoiled. The stewed meat would be aromatic again once heated in a brazier.
Fang Jie’s carriage was the last in the caravan fleet. The seven carriages before his were carrying the pretty girls of Beckon of the Red Sleeve, and the one before these seven were driven by the crippled old man and carried Aunt Xi and Xi Zhuxin. The guards stayed in the carriage at the very front.
“With this speed, we will need four months to get to Chang’an,” Fang Jie who was napping suddenly said and felt a little helpless.
“We won’t miss your exam,” Da Quan said as he chewed the meat. Since it was cold, the meat was tougher to chew on. “The entrance exam is at the end of June, and this is only the beginning of February. We won’t miss it even if it takes close to five months. The Martial Arts Academy of Great Sui accepts new students every three years, and various tests and interviews would begin about a year before the exam. Since Great Sui is so big, people from Yong State, which is the most southern place of Great Sui, have to begin traveling before the new year as it would take close to six to seven months to get to Chang’an.”
“I’m just worried that we might be late. After all, we need to go to the Ministry of War, the Ministry of Rites, and the Ministry of Personnel for the procedure. I wonder if people will try to be harsh,” Fang Jie said with worry, “I heard that the officials in the Capital are all arrogant and look down on the people from the outside. It feels like Great Sui is divided into two; one is the Capital that is hard to reach, and other places are much lower.”
Da Quan comforted him, “You are a participant from the military, so the Ministry of War wouldn’t make your life hard. Out of all participants, half of them are from the military, and the other half are from the public. The Ministry of War wants its people to have a smoother exam; they would be ashamed if the participants from the public are more popular. Besides, you are the first participant that came from Fangu in dozens of years. How would they disqualify you in the first round? Besides, we have money. We can give each ministry a big gift of 100 taels of silver.”
“Puff!” Fang Jie laughed, “Do you think the officials in Chang’an are bumpkins? How can 100 silver taels be enough?”
“Then how much?”
Fang Jie thought for a moment and said, “At least 300 silver taels.”
Da Quan was shocked, and he cursed, “This much? Are they vampires?”
Two bumpkins who had never experienced the fanciness of Chang’an argued about whether 100 or 300 silver taels were enough, and their faces grew all red.
Mu Xiaoyao who was sleeping in the compartment on the carriage flipped over impatiently and thought, “They are only silver taels. If it comes to it, we will gift those officials during the day and steal back the money at night.”
She was also a bumpkin who knew nothing about Chang’an.
“Da Quan, after we get to Chang’an, you have to call me ‘young master’.”
Fang Jie looked up at the clouds in the sky and said, “I need a meaningful zi. Juexiao, Juexiao… I gave myself this name, but it is too crude. I need to think of a better one. Da Quan, think for me. Whatever, judging from your name, you can’t be of much help.”
Da Quan smiled and didn’t reply.
[TL Note: There is a joke in here where biaozi, which is a courtesy name, is pronounced as b*tch in Chinese. However, after translation, this joke wouldn’t work, and it will affect the flow of the story. Therefore, I removed it from the main story. If you still want us to translate the joke, please let us know, and we will post it as a separate thing.]