Chapter 8 Ambition
Ye Kong did not ask for anything else, but Ye Haoran ordered the housekeeper to give Ye Kong two taels of silver per month for living expenses, but the second wife was in charge of the account and was deciding whether to find trouble with Ye Kong when he came to get the money from her.
“Don’t give him money! He bit my brother and cheated to win! He should compensate us!” Ye Wu yelled as he entered the room.
“Yes, he is such an asshole! A shameless person! No, the most shameless person! He stood off the platform, but he refused to admit defeat!” Ye Wen scolded him while he bound the bite wound on his wrist.
Ye Wu sneered again, “That fool. He was so cheeky that he even asked dad to teach him martial arts! He has really bitten off more than he can chew as he has such a bad aptitude!”
When it came to this, Ye Wen laughed, “He wished! Ridiculous! Did you see how disappointed he was? Haha…” He jostled his injured wrist as he laughed. He snorted and glared at his wrist. “I will get back at you sooner or later!”
The second wife spoke, “We should give him the two taels, or the general will be angry if he finds out we didn’t. From now on, you must behave better than before in front of the general. Hehe, I got great news today!”
“Oh? What’s that?” Ye Wen and Ye Hu asked curiously.
Then, the three stood closely and whispered. What the second wife said made two brothers smile wide and looked at her in admiration.
“So, you two must stop picking on him and calm down. Just stay at home comfortably and I will prepare some food for you to heal your wounds and increase your aptitude!”
In the room of the third wife, something similar happened too.
“Mom, Ye Kong is really a hateful bastard! Avenge me, please!” Ye Long whined, lying in bed.
“Yes, Mom, you must avenge brother. That fool has gotten so cunning and vicious, but Father did not even punish him! So ridiculous!” Ye Hu said hatefully.
The third wife, who had practiced martial arts too and was more straightforward than the second wife, she scolded them, “Useless! The both of you! You couldn’t beat him up by yourself, but ask me to help? Why don’t you demonstrate your own abilities?”
Ye Long wailed mournfully, “Mom, it’s not that I could not beat him up! It’s because he played tricks and broke the rules!”
“I heard that Ye Kong has recovered, becoming cunning and vicious, so you have to get along well with him!” The third wife looked at her two strong sons and spoke in a low voice, “You must use your brain! Now that the fool has recovered his mental faculties and has offended the second wife, just let them fight between themselves! Understand? It’s impossible for his ugly mom to get the general’s affection. So, if the second wife is defeated, I will be the owner of the Ye Family estate!”
“Got it!” The two finally understood and praised her. “Only mom could think of something like this!”
The third wife smirked and said quietly, “I have got big news today!”
Ye Kong was upset after hearing Ye Haoran’s words.
Ye Kong felt there was no future for him to learn martial arts. He would never have standing in Cangnan.
Though Ye Kong was talkative, it would be a joke for him to abandon martial arts for literature and write an embroidered piece of literature. He had no interest in studying. Otherwise, he would not have dropped out of junior middle school.
He was hopeless and frustrated, but when he came back to his own yard and saw his mom who was waiting for him expectantly. He forced a smile and spoke to her absently.
Ye Kong had no high spirits the next morning. He had lunch and talked with his mom. Then he went to his room and sat there in a trance.
In the afternoon, the housekeeper Ye Cai came to give them money, but Ye Kong did not come out.
Though both the second wife and third wife did not find faults with Ye Kong due to the mysterious news, what Ye Haoran said was a real knock to Ye Kong’s self-confidence. He was too upset to fight with others and stayed in his room like a zombie.
Chen Jiuniang felt her son was acting strangely, but she didn’t dare to disturb him. By evening, it was time to eat dinner, but Ye Kong still did not come out, so Chen Jiuniang took her bowl to have dinner by herself.
The dining hall was ruled by a fat older lady with a nasty look plastered on her face. She was narcissistic and questioned why the general hadn’t fallen in love with her. After all, an ugly lady like Chen Jiuniang could even have a baby with the general, so why not her? This caused her to be extremely unfriendly with Chen Jiuniang.
“Please give me more food. My son has recovered, but he got hurt and he needs to eat more to stay healthy.” Chen Jiuniang said in a low voice.
The fat lady snorted, “Your son has recovered, so you think you can get the general’s affection again? Are you trying to make me angry?”
“No, no, Sister Ma, I just want my son to stay healthy,” Chen Jiuniang looked at the braised pork in the basin sheepishly.
Sister Ma glanced and smiled coldly, “Eat more steamed buns! It’s good for the brain.”
She took some cold steamed buns from the night before that others didn’t want from the basin and threw them to Chen Jiuniang.
Chen Jiuniang was about to say something, but she just took the buns and rice. What else could she do? She could not afford to offend those in charge. Even though they were servants, they were mostly close relatives of the general’s wives. Sister Ma was a relative from the hometown of the ninth wife who the general showed the most affection for.
‘Even if I tell the general, will the general help us? Would the general help such an ugly lady? Just bear it.’
When she returned, Chen Jiuniang put the food on the table, but before she went to knock on her son’s door, Chen Jiuniang put the yellowing buns in her room quietly.
Ye Kong kept thinking for the entire afternoon, the more he thought, the deeper he felt as he had transmigrated to the wrong place.
If you want to practise martial arts to protect yourself, that’s fine, but if you want to stand out from other martial artists, it’s impossible.
No matter how hard you train, it’s impossible to achieve great success.
The words crushed, disappointed, and dispirited him.
“It’s much worse than Earth!” He did not want to stay on this shitty continent any longer. He was thinking of finding ways to go back, but there was no Miss Zhao here. He murmured, “If I die, then will I go back to my world? Maybe I can try…suicide?”
‘But even if I die, I must die from overeating!’
He looked at the food, the rice was steaming like on earth, the dish was filled with green vegetables.
Though there was no meat, it was still delicious, but he suddenly thought of something while eating.
Ye Kong put down his chopsticks and opened the door, walking outside. The moon was already up in the sky, but it still wasn’t fully dark. There was a red ring around the gigantic moon. The scenery was magnificent, it was completely different from Earth’s scenery.
“Pity that I won’t stay here for long,” Ye Kong opened the door to Chen Jiuniang’s room with a sigh.
“Son!” Chen Jiuniang was shocked, hiding her cold buns behind her back subconsciously.
Ye Kong’s eyes stared at her. He guessed that his mom would give a larger portion to him, and he wanted to ask her if she wanted to eat together, but he did not think that his mom didn’t even have food for herself and was instead eating stale buns!
“Mother, you’re just eating these?” Ye Kong was furious.
“That’s fine, I… love eating buns.” Chen Jiuniang took more bites of the buns, but the buns had hardened overnight, so she began to choke when she tried to swallow.
She didn’t give birth to him, so there wasn’t a long-standing affection between them, but Ye Kong couldn’t contain his anger when he saw this scene.
“Fuck their ancestors! I’m going to kill them!” Ye Kong turned around.
“No, son, I am fine, don’t create any trouble. I only wish for you to remain healthy! That’s enough for me,” Chen Jiuniang rushed to her son and hugged him, imploring him with tears in her eyes, “You have recovered, do you know how happy I am? But son, you are only twelve years old, you can’t win against them! What I worry about the most is you! As long as you are healthy, I can eat nothing but stale buns, but I will die if anything happens to you!”
After she finished speaking, she couldn’t hold back the tears and burst out crying.
Ye Kong was shocked. His thoughts of suicide now felt incredibly selfish and cruel. He had replaced the soul of Chen Jiuniang’s son. If he died, then she would lose all of her reason for living.
‘No! I want to live in Ye Kong’s body! Not only to live better, but also to make these vicious people pay!’
Ye Kong ground his teeth, raising his head slowly, as if he were trying to swallow something tough.
It was a bitter pill, but it restored his hope.
Enmity was also a motivation.
After a good while, he breathed out and loosened his clenched fists.
“Mom don’t worry. One day, I will tell them that they will have to spit back out every piece of food they have taken from me. If they take something from me, they should return it to me. If they bully me, there will not be enough time for them to regret!”
Cangnan was much quieter at night than on Earth. Through the broken window was a sprinkle of moonlight that landed in front of the bed, casting a layer of thin broken shadow on the ground.
“I decry bright moonlight in front of my bed,
I suspect it to be hoary frost on the floor.
I watch the bright moon, as I tilt back my head,
I yearn, while stooping, for my homeland more.”
[TN: “In the Still of the Night”, written by Li Bai, Tang Dynasty poet, the great Romantic poet of the Tang Dynasty, who was later known as the “Poetry”.]
Ye Kong could only remember a few poems, this poem “In the Still of the Night” was one of them. It was a good time to recite this poem as well, but he did not continue to reminisce about his former home.
Now that he had decided to live in this strange and brutal world, he had to control these feelings and forget that he was from Earth. For his honour and happiness, he had to try his best to integrate into this world without too much trouble.
Ye Kong sat on the bed with his legs crossed. He had already adapted to the heaviness of the air in Cangnan, but he could still sense the Qi within it.
Compared to the daytime, the Qi of Water was more present at night as was the Qi of Wood was greater as well. The Qi of Earth felt the same, while the Qi of Fire and Metal were too weak to feel at all.
Ye Kong guessed that it was because he was from Earth where there was less Qi. He was like a person who lived in a high-altitude hypoxic environment for a long time that had come down to a lower altitude which was filled with oxygen.
Ye Kong suddenly felt that he was not useless. He was more sensitive to the Qi than the people of Cangnan. That had to be an advantage he could use.
He has read many novels about cultivating the five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal, and water Qi to get more natural energy and attain immortality.
‘Breathe in Qi and store it within the Qihai. When you need to use it, then just send it out, isn’t that right?’
[TN: a name of meridian and acupoint, known as the Qi Sea]
‘Even though it can’t make me immortal, if I can gather Qi, or dredge meridians like the Du Mai meridian and Ren Mai meridian, that would be useful too! I could train for a few years and become a master of martial arts, travelling around and fighting for justice!’
If he did that, who would look down on him or his mother?
It sounded simple, but cultivation was hard.
How was he supposed to breathe Qi and cultivate the natural energy? What was he meant to do to activate his Qihai, Du Mai and Ren Mai meridians. He hadn’t ever read anything detailed regarding it, so he had no idea.
“I don’t care. Just sit and meditate!”
Ye Kong sat on his bed with his legs crossed, palms up and placed on his knees. He adjusted breathing, cleared his thoughts, calmed down and began to meditate.
It was difficult, but Ye Kong was strong-willed. He had no other choice but to practice as hard as he could.
After some time, Ye Kong felt his legs numb and so sleepy as if his eyelids weighed ten thousand pounds. He wanted to sleep since he felt so close to it.
‘Persistence is the key to success!’ Ye Kong drove away the thought to put off meditation until the next day. Getting off the bed, he moved his numb feet, and found the large embroidery needles Chen Jiuniang used. Ancient people used acupuncture to induce calmness, so Ye Kong figured he would try it. Ye Kong climbed back on the bed and crossed his legs again.
Sometime later, he’d randomly stabbed several embroidery needles into his legs. His pants were slowly being dyed red with the blood from these wounds, but Ye Kong didn’t stop, thinking it would help him meditate.
Another hour passed before Ye Kong had finally settled into a meditative state. When he opened his eyes, he did not see the moonlight.
He had no idea where he was. It was a vast, vacant space bordered with clouds. He couldn’t see outside, but the room inside was empty.
Ye Kong was shocked and found that he had once again become a ball of white light.
‘It’s my soul! In meditation, I came to the place where I fought for the kid’s body!’
Ye Kong did not understand why he came here and where his soul was, but he knew it was not in his Qihai or Dantian. It maybe was in his mind or maybe this is Zifu.
[TN: dāntián, literally translates as “Cinnabar Field” or “Elixir Field”, refers to the region in the body where a person’s Qi is concentrated. Zifu is a Taoist term. There are two versions of Zifu, one is the palace and realm where the external immortals live, and the other is the way humans cultivate.]
Suddenly, he found that there was not only him in that space. Above him there was a moving golden light!
‘What’s that?’ Ye Kong flew.
The golden light was in the middle. It was not big, but not small either. It was almost as big as the kid had been, but more brilliant, golden and shining like a round, red sun in space.
Ye Kong was sure that it was not a sun, as that golden object was flat. It looked like a book.
‘Why is there a book in my mind?’
When he flew to the golden light, he was surprised, ‘Oh my gosh! It was really a book! There is a book in my mind! How could it be?’