113 The History of the Jing Family
Jing Jiu didn’t knock on the door, instead pushing in a green brick into the wall half an inch.
This was a mechanical system.
Jing Jiu could vaguely hear a hard object rolling behind the door. Though he couldn’t see through the wooden door, he knew it was a stone-ball rolling on a groove, rolling some distance and falling down on a ceramic bowl, which would break when being landed on.
The wooden door hadn’t opened after a while.
He waited on the stone steps, a peaceful expression on his face.
The rainfall got heavier. The raindrops falling on the conical hat streamed down from the edge of the hat like a waterfall during dry season.
The passersby in the alley walked fast in the rain, taking no notice of him.
The courtyard door finally opened with a soft clink, an elder emerging from inside.
The elder had a well-formed face, with straight eyebrows and bright eyes; his cheeks were slightly red, due either to drinking alcohol or excitement. He wore thin grey clothing that was not fully buttoned up. It seemed he put the clothes on randomly and in a hurry. His inquisitive eyes looked at Jing Jiu
Jing Jiu took out a wooden board and handed it to the elder.
The elder didn’t dare take it, and lowered his head, looking at it carefully from a close distance for some time.
After making sure the wooden board was genuine, the elder knelt down on the ground without hesitation or regard for the wet ground .
"Get up," Jing Jiu said.
The elder got up. With a humble expression, he led Jing Jiu through the door and through the courtyard, walking along the side corridor toward the deep part of it .
There were some people in the small courtyard, a family to be precise.
It was a family of old and young men and women, all eating in the open living room.
All the family members stared at the dining table, talking in low voices, and it seemed they hadn’t seen Jing Jiu and the elder at all.
This was an eerie scene.
A child of three or four years suddenly escaped from his mother’s bosom and came before the threshold, looking at Jing Jiu curiously. As the child was about to say something, his father quickly grabbed him and brought the child back to the dining table.
The child’s cry blasted through the living room.
Under the corridor, Jing Jiu took off his conical hat, looking in that direction of the living.
After seeing his face, the child was stunned, and stopped crying.
"Is that the Jing family?"
"Yes, the members of this family have worked in the Taichang Temple for generations, as the subordinates of my family."
Glancing at Jing Jiu once, the elder said, "I can guarantee that they don’t know anything, but they certainly don’t forget what they are supposed to remember."
Jing Jiu knew those people were his family in name, including his parents, the grandfather, big brother and sister-in-law, but he didn’t know if that child was his nephew or niece. All these had been arranged years ago. It wasn’t one of his strengths, but many people in the Imperial Court were good at this matter.
"How many people came to check the place over the years?" Jing Jiu asked, sitting in the chair.
Standing in front of Jing Jiu, the elder answered, "The first time was seven years ago. Shangde Peak of the Green Mountain Sect came to investigate. They would have been able find something suspicious given their abilities, so I made some immediate changes as cover-up. But it’s quite odd that they haven’t yet returned. I feel uneasy about it."
Jing Jiu knew why Shangde Peak didn’t continue investigating his case, saying, "Don’t worry about it."
"Since then, there have been two major investigations, one four years ago and one a year ago."
The elder said, "In total, twenty-one Cultivation sects have sent someone to check out secretly, and Royal Concubine Hu of the Imperial Palace has sent someone here as well."
Four years ago, Zhao Layue and Jing Jiu inherited the sword of Shenmo Peak, shocking the whole Cultivation world. The majority of the Cultivation sects focused on Zhao Layue, but they would also check on Jing Jiu at the same time. One year ago, it was because he went to the Four-Seas Banquet held by the Western Ocean Sword Sect and later participated in the Sword Trial of Green Mountain, where Jing Jiu defeated Gu Han and broke Guo Nanshan’s sword. These feats rendered the idea of those masters of Green Mountain keeping Jing Jiu as their secret talent an impossible illusion. As the personal disciple of Immortal Jing Yang and a truly superior sword talent, Jing Jiu attracted a great deal of attention.
The elder had learned all these facts, so he also knew this young man was Jing Jiu.
The Jing family had moved in this small courtyard twenty years ago, just for this young man.
"I come here to take part in the Plum Meeting. I’ll stay here for it."
Jing Jiu said, "You send this letter to the House of Zhao and let them know."
The elder knew his identity and of course also knew where the House of Zhao was. After making sure Jing Jiu didn’t have anything to ask of him, the elder left through the secret passage at the back of the house.
This secret passage led to another courtyard one hundred yards away.
That courtyard was large in size, with carved beams and painted poles, full of luxuries hidden in the ornaments and fixtures.
The elder sat in his study room silently, and couldn’t come to his senses for a long time.
Many years ago, his father gave him very serious instruction: The reason his family could have maintained their prestigious status up to that point was because of two things: one was to support the Emperor no matter what, the second was to obey the person holding the wooden board.
"What if these two come in conflict?" he couldn’t help but ask as he was young.
His father said, "The will of the Emperor will always be the same as the board holder."
As he was young and stubborn, he still insisted on asking, "But what if there is conflict?"
He remembered full well, that after a long silence, his father’s answer was to support and obey the board holder.
The elder didn’t dare or want to remove this lucky star protecting his family for hundreds of years, but he couldn’t help but be curious. However, when he had arranged that small courtyard twenty years ago, he only received a letter, telling him about the words and stamp on the wooden board and some simple instructions. He didn’t have a clue about who the board holder was.
Until recently, with all the many Cultivation sects and even the Imperial Palace started paying attention to that small courtyard, he had learned the identity of the board holder. He even used his own connections to check on Jing Jiu secretly. Yet he still couldn’t believe such a young man could be the board holder, even though he was a sword genius; the value of the wooden board was simply too much to be held by a young man.
Perhaps Jing Jiu had inherited the wooden board.
While thinking on these matters, his housekeeper reminded him in a low voice.
"My Lord, the time has come."
The spring rain fell outside. With the Formation and a glass forming two layers of shield, the guests didn’t have to worry about getting wet by rain, which instead turned into a splendid scenery. But as the time went by, the atmosphere inside became aberrant, and the sound of rain had been replaced by the sound of discussion.
In the middle of the wedding, the head of the family suddenly heard the sound of a bowl breaking up and left in a hurry, and he didn’t come back for a long time, as if he had disappeared into thin air. What was going on?
"What has happened?"
"I heard the old Lord was a troublemaker when he was a young man. Is he going back to his old ways again?"
"The old Lord loves his youngest son the most; how can he do this during his son’s wedding?"
"Don’t try to figure out what’s going on. Everybody thinks the old Lord is foolish, as he doesn’t like to get close to the people in the Imperial Palace. However, no matter what political changes the Imperial Court has had over the years, this house has always been the same, and he is still the head of Taichang Temple, an enormously noble position. This is the royal favor! Is a fool actually capable of having this?"
"The lucky hour is almost over."
As the guests were discussing, the sound of footsteps suddenly came from outside.
The crowd lifted their heads and stopped talking immediately, bowing in unison to the person coming in with a solemn expression.
"Greetings, State Duke Lu."
"Sorry, something urgent came up."
State Duke Lu had a handsome appearance, and an extraordinary aura; even his explanation had an authoritative tone. He looked like a totally different person in comparison to the humble elder as Jing Jiu’s housekeeper.
Today was the wedding day for State Duke Lu’s youngest son and the Prime Minister’s granddaughter.
In the middle of the wedding, State Duke Lu suddenly disappeared, not reappearing until now.
The guests dared not ask why.
Some observant guests noticed the unsightly gray clothing under State Duke Lu’s formal uniform, with both his knees somewhat wet. It was really hard to understand what happened to him.