The field in front of Ji Ju’s Golden Grain fields was not far away and had fences only as tall as a person. If one did not want to look inside, you would not be able to; but if you stood on your toes or on a rock, or just looked between the wooden blocks, you’d see through the gaps. In summary, the fences were built just to hit its minimum function.
While both farms were neighbours, most people don’t pay attention to this plot because it was small. The people here were judged by the size of their fields. A small plot of land meant they weren’t anyone important so no one bothered to look inside. Also, more importantly, the crops were subpar so anyone who looked inside would just shake their heads and get on with their lives.
After a while, no one remembered who this plot belonged to. You could see the end of the field standing at one corner, and its crops did not look healthy. These crops would not sell for a high price-- maybe they were alright for a family to eat without starving to death but they would not sell.
Ji Ju could no longer remember who this place belonged to, just that it was owned by the Yi family. However, the field was tiny and based on what he remembered, this place had switched hands several times. He also remembered there were two wells in this plot of land. One was dry, the other could barely water this field. These years had been drier so their crops did not do well. This was one of the reasons why owners were quick to pass this plot to someone else. He wondered which unfortunate person got this place now.
“Someone from the Yi family, tsk.” Ji Ju shook his head.
He did not say much but Shao Xuan understood.
To Ji Ju, the Yi family was not suited for agriculture. They could do readings and predictions at that street but they had no talent for agriculture. Plus mental disorders ran in their family. Some of them were physically weak. He had seen a Yi guy stare at the night sky once, all night. It had been cold so right after that, he fell sick and almost died. How could he withstand the cold with that physique? He was mad! Out of the aristocrats of the great six, the dumbest ones came from the Yi family!
That guy would sit for a while, his eyes glazed and unfocused then suddenly laugh to himself-- or cry hysterically. It was scary. When Ji Ju recalled this, he only shook his head with a sigh. He didn’t understand them.
However, they must have their reasons to maintain their position as one of the aristocratic families. They didn’t have muscles but they had the brains. Some of them could predict the weather, some could read your fate. Some had other mystical talents. If the Yi family targeted someone, they did not need to kill you with a knife. This was why they were a feared group of people.
However, Ji Ju wasn’t afraid. Other than the few who had actual talent, he didn’t care for the rest. They could scare people in the streets but if they put on airs in front of him, he would send his men to beat them up.
“What, curious about the Yi family?” asked Ji Ju. Many tribesmen living far from the city were curious about them.
“A little. I think they’re quite mysterious.”
“Mysterious? They’re just faking it.” Ji Ju was indifferent.
However, Shao Xuan wasn’t curious because this place belonged to the Yi family. He was curious because of the situation of the farm.
This was the peak of the harvest season in most farms, including this one. While that plot was quite small, they had a good harvest too.
In the field, the slaves were carrying full sacks to an empty part of the field. There was a wooden table with a person clad in dark clothing. Although it was not flashy, one could tell he was an educated fellow, different from the busy slaves. He was young, didn’t look like a butler. He was now writing on some cloth.
The slaves reported to him as they carried the sacks then left for the warehouse.
He must be taking inventory.
This wasn’t much but Shao Xuan was curious about his other hand. On his other hand, his four fingers were lightly curved, the tip of his thumb moved and touched the inner part of the other four joints.
“Let’s go, see what they planted!”
Ji Ju was approaching and could see the crops in the field. He thought it was pathetic, for his standards. Today, he was in the mood to pay them a visit and give a few pointers.
The person was sighing as he calculated his numbers and recorded them. When he was notified, he dropped everything to greet the visitors.
“Yi Shi of Yi family at your service. Why are you here, sir?” Yi Shi bowed respectfully, then looked at Ji Ju in surprise.
“What, I can’t visit?”
“No no no, you’re welcomed to!” Yi Shi quickly got someone to bring a chair for Ji Ju.
“You don’t have to, I’m just here for a bit.” Ji Ju waved them off and then looked at the crops in the ground and felt his anger rising. “What the hell are you planting?! I can’t even bear to look at your crops!”
‘When has any crop been up to your standards?’ thought Yi Shi though he kept a respectful, humble face.
When Ji Ju started speaking, he couldn’t stop. The plants were too close together, some were too sparse, this part’s too dry, and this soil, IS THIS EVEN SOIL?! This is as hard as rock!
Yi Shi listened silently, his head hung low.
When Ji Ju finished, Yi Shi smiled bitterly, “It needs some improvements, yes.” However, he was not in charge of the crops. His dad was. He was just here to help with inventory today.
This plot of land wasn’t doing well not just because of the well-- the soil quality was bad too. They didn’t know what crop made the soil change and they hadn’t been able to fix this problem. They’d had two poor harvests in a row even with the Ji family’s advice. They were just not cut out of this. The harvest was barely enough to keep them alive.
This was awful!
Ji Ju grew even more furious seeing the young man give up like that. However, this person wasn’t from the Ji family so he didn’t say much. Thank goodness he wasn’t too, or he would have died from a heart attack.
Ji Ju huffed but did not speak. He gestured for Yi Shi to continue with his work while Ji Ju walked over to the well nearby.
Shao Xuan went too. It was not good.
“The water level fell again,” said Ji Ju worriedly. He wondered if it would be drier as the years passed. Even drought-resistant plants needed water!
“It’ll get better,” comforted Shao Xuan.
“No, you don’t understand.” Ji Ju looked worried. “I keep feeling like something bad is happening. The changes in the skies and the lands always come with early omens. And…”
Ji Ju did not continue. He knew a man from the Yi family- the same guy who stayed up all night freezing and got sick. He remembered that old friend sick on his bed. The sick man had said one sentence: everything united must part, everything parted must unite.
It was a pity after that incident when Ji Ju asked again, he refused to speak. Instead, he’d give a smile that made Ji Ju want to punch him.
The Ji family was on high alert after this. Any signs of rebellion were brutally flattened. They had spent so much effort reaching where they were today, how could they let anyone destroy it? They watched the other five major families closely and a few new tribes.
At this moment, a feminine voice came from the entrance of the field.
Shao Xuan looked over to see a young lady clad in exquisitely detailed silk. She was curvy but did not look swollen. She walked swaying her large hips, combing her hair that was billowing in the breeze. She smiled as she quickly walked over. Every step was small although they were quick, her dress flowing like a blooming flower.
The girl lifted a delicate hand to half-cover her lips, approaching Yi Shi with laughter in her eyes. She smiled and was about to say something when she saw Ji Ju nearby and her face froze. She hadn’t expected to see Ji Ju here so she quickly retracted her smile and straightened her posture, nodding politely. Then, she tossed a scroll to Yi Shi and then got a slave to bring a chair over.
The slaves were familiar with this lady so they were not surprised by her behaviour.
Shao Xuan looked at the patterns on her clothing and recalled Black Bear telling him about each aristocratic family’s favourite pattern. Based on these patterns, he guessed the lady was from the Mu family of the great six.
Ji Ju was very displeased by her behaviour but did not say much. To him, as long as his own Ji family wasn’t like this, he could care less. Might as well use this extra time to tend to his Thousand Grain Gold.
The Mu lady’s cloth scroll contained her field’s harvest records. She wanted Yi Shi to help double-check the numbers- she was too impatient to do it herself and it might take days. Since she might not even calculate them right, it was better to get Yi Shi.
Yi Shi did not say much either. He put down his work and opened the roll of cloth she tossed to him.
There were twenty pieces of cloth rolled up, each about half a meter long and two palms wide. They were all filled with tiny handwriting.
Yi Shi flipped the cloth with one hand while the fingers on the other hand moved quickly. His thumb was almost a shadow by now, touching the other four.
Shao Xuan realised Yi Shi seemed to only sweep his eyes across the numbers one time and took barely half a minute to scan through one piece of cloth. He scanned through twenty pieces of cloth filled with numbers, then wrote down his final result on another piece. All this in fifteen minutes.
When he was done, with admiration in his eyes, he passed his calculation results and the cloth back to the lady. “Congratulations, another bountiful harvest.”
The lady chuckled, fine lines appearing around her eyes. She was in a great mood from the harvest. However, after she read his number, her expression changed immediately. As if a piece of silk had turned into a metal knife, her eyes were suddenly deadly.
“Those rotten slaves, I can’t believe they misreported the numbers by such a large margin!”
The margin of error was small per page. They looked like mistakes due to them being bad at math. However, the accumulation of errors across so many pages caused the final value to be far from the actual number. The lady did not tell Yi Shi what the number her slaves reported was but if this was what Yi Shi got, it must be true. She was furious.
In the past, if they reported a number smaller than the true value, she was too lazy to punish them for it. However, these people must be getting greedy! If she did not raise this issue, they would grow bolder.
“Tomorrow, I will send my men over with a gift!” Without another word, the lady took the results and left, her hips swaying hard and she radiated pure anger. Perhaps blood would be spilt in her field soon.
Shao Xuan now understood that the Yi guy helped with calculations here. However, what was his brain made of? He was a human calculator!
alright guys my translation of the lady really doesn't do the original writing justice.
here's a direct translation of some of my fav phrases from the Chinese text that i didn't know how to insert into the text :
- combed her hair that looked so carefree and seemed to sway on its on accord in the wind
- looked up with 30% of a smile in her eyes
- her hand was soft but no bones
- she gave a look that was like water