Feng Shan Jiutian is Present, Unfortunately
Someone, or some people, swiftly covered the surroundings in black cloth, so I finally managed to open my eyes properly. To be honest, brightness and darkness weren’t that impactful to me. I could see tiny insects hundreds of metres away at night, and I could accurately count the number of aerial leaves in the bright sunlight, but there was no need to flaunt those skills everywhere I went.
Shifu stressed it when I was younger, emphasising that I had to hide those skills more than ever if I was around the richest people in the world. I wasn’t aware of Feng Jiutian’s personality, but nobody trying to top the imperial exam would be someone ambitionless, right? Moreover, his companions were visibly veterans at what they did. Considering the colluding-in-secret setting I was in, I reasoned it was best to be cautious.
One thing I couldn’t get off my mind was if Feng Jiutian could actually see in such darkness from behind his sunnies…
Feng Jiutian opened his fan and grinned. “Brother Ming, this isn’t our first meeting, is it?”
“I’m over here.”
Guess he can’t see me. What does he mean this isn’t our first meeting? Does he know I knocked him out at the exam venue? I’m sure I was stealthy in my execution. If he knows about it, then he’s a genius.
“Uh, when did we meet before today?”
“Haha, at the exam venue.”
He really remembers?
I squinted. “Your memory is quite impressive.”
“Ah, it’s nothing.” Feng Jiutian folded up his fan and gently tapped the table. “On the day you entered the venue, with your retinue accompanying you, you shouted at the examiner as I would have done. I brought a dozen companions with me that day, as well, and thought it was still not sufficient to assert my dominance, but I foolishly gave up since I did not want to disrespect His Majesty. After I saw you, I went home to bring more companions with me on my entrance. Unfortunately, due to the abrupt decision, I did not get to introduce myself to you.”
… So, you don’t remember, and you’re an idiot. I have a feeling I’m not going to click with this guy. I need to fool him and make a dash.
“May I ask what you wished to see me for?”
“Let us set that aside for the meantime. I discovered a new eatery that makes some impressive food. I hear you embody the culinary spirit, as well, so I have to try it with you. Serve it up.“
“Young Master Feng, although we have never crossed paths prior… you are my brother today!”
A servant served up three big plates of cakes.
Four-Five’s cakes?! This guy must be plotting something! As if I’d fall for such an obvious ploy… but let me have five first. Let’s see how you conspire against me if there are none left!
Poison, you say? What’s that?
Feng Jiutian let me dig in without showing any signs of reservations.
“Take your time, Brother Ming. I will speak to you as you try them.”
Feng Jiutian certainly didn’t disappoint as the scion of a merchant family. It wasn’t annoying to listen to him over the sound of my chewing. After my last bite, I rubbed my belly and shook my head.
“What do you think, Brother Ming?”
What do I think?
I flicked up a thumb.
Feng Jiutian beamed. “You are on board?”
“They were great.”
Have you any idea how long it’d have taken me to line up for three plates’ worth? That was not to mention they were still warm, and the steam hadn’t softened the pastry too much. Not only was it fresh, but the fact that they were still warm meant the delivery man had to be incredibly fast on his feet.
“That’s nothing. I don’t know the owner; however, I sponsored his startup in that location and will only be sharing 50% of the profits going forward.”
I licked the grease around my lips, savoured it and then expressed, “Brother Feng, you are definitely my friend. Mention me whenever you’re out and about. There’s not a soul alive who doesn’t recognise me.”
And nobody my shifu doesn’t owe a debt to, too.
Maybe Feng Jiutian would’ve even paid off the debts for me if he was in a good mood!
“My pleasure!” Feng Jiutian slammed the table. “I have nothing besides a lot of money. I have been needing a friend willing to help me spend it all, or it would be a burden. Not only do I wish we were friends, but I wish were brothers.”
“We are brothers!” I took a swing of twenty-year-aged nv’er hong wine.
“What do you think about what I mentioned before, Big Bro?”
Feng Jiutian was the real deal. See how he won me over on first attempt? Question was, could he pull it off a second time? Why would I turn down another three plates?
“Sure. I’ll release Feng Qizhi.”
“That is only a trivial matter. I am not referring to that.”
Is there another debt between us? You didn’t know I swapped your exam paper, right? Don’t suddenly recall things!
“Qizhi is an adult now, so it’s fair for him to have his own goals. I can’t stand in his way. I am close with Brother Huangshu, however, so I have to pass on a message for him. He asked me to tell you in person that, if you are willing to accept him, he would be willing to set aside his military duties to come scatter your ashes. Do not blame him for not warning you prior when you die, he added.”
“Uh, Brother Huangshu is?”
“His Highness Yellow Prince.”
“Oooh, His Highness Yellow Prince.”
“That’s right! He doesn’t like being addressed as such, though, so he goes by Huangshu.”
Damn, just like your elder brother, huh? He’s Chengkong, and you’re Huangshu. That’s brave of you to use the same title as your brother to make a fool out of yourself. And you want to duel me? How hard can it be to be a rich daddy’s boy? Why is it that none of you can do it?
“I have passed on the message as requested. I will leave it in your hands now, Big Bro. I will be turning a blind eye.”
“Fret not. I will take care of it. With that said, I still have something I need to attend to, so I will get going.”
“Of course, of course. However, I have also booked a dance performance to entertain us. All of them are famous on Qinhuai River. Although it’s somewhat uncouth, would it interest you, Big Bro?”
“Of course not. Who cares about all that rouge, powder and colour?”
“Of course, of course. We have ten jugs of wine, as well, which are three of Jinling’s top ten. Nothing impressive, really.”
“Nothing impressive? They’re straight trash.”
“Okay, okay. Dongpo’s head chef is in the back. Tell him to shut down the kitchen, as well.”
Never even heard of no Dongpo. Don’t get in daddy’s way.
I rubbed my belly, burped, and took a silk handkerchief with me. By the time I met up with Zizi, the sun was setting.
Chengkong and Huangshu joke – There’s an extra prefix in the name that can be translated as “Emperor” if you recall from Orange Prince’s rebellion, where he referred to himself as Emperor Chengkong. Mind you, the prefix can be translated a number of ways. It’s just Ming Feizhen is choosing to define the prefix Yellow Prince uses to also be “Emperor”, hence the rebel joke.