Yi Shi wasn’t usually at the field but visited every year at this time to check the harvest. They weren’t having good harvests- if anyone attempted to cheat the numbers, life would be worse for them. However, he was here for another reason unrelated to his family--- he took this as an opportunity to earn extra cash during harvest season.
His fast calculations were not something anyone could do. That was why after ‘accidentally’ helping his neighbour once, he became famous among landowners. During this time, landowners who couldn’t bother to check their own numbers would get him for help. He was fast, efficient and had almost a hundred percent accuracy rate. He just wanted a little compensation. This saved everyone time and caught any liars who manipulated the numbers as soon as possible. It was a win-win!
The money he earned every year from everyone was similar to the value of his own harvest.
That Mu lady was a landowner from nearby, one of his income streams. Soon after he left, another person came looking for Yi Shi. That was why he had a large table here like he was open for business. He was easy to spot, he could conveniently take jobs like that.
Ji Ju did not stay long at Yi Shi’s place. After checking the well, he went to other plots to ask a few questions. It was the same everywhere, the water levels in the wells were dropping yearly. If the current climate maintained, life was going to be difficult.
Right now, Yi Shi’s small plot of land with few wells was suffering but in one or two years, there would be more victims. Some people who thought they could save themselves with drought-resistant crops might not survive too-- the root cause of the problem was worsening.
Ji Ju was very quiet on the way back and in a sour mood. The butler did not understand so Shao Xuan explained to him in a low voice.
The butler thanked him gratefully then quickly sent someone to brew tea for Ji Ju to calm down. At the same time, he wondered how he could advise their boss. Ji Ju was their source of income, if he worried himself sick, and something happened, how would these butlers live?
According to what Shao Xuan knew, there was a river near King City. The city had already built irrigation canals to supply water into the city but this did not solve all the problems. The fields covered a vast area so if there was really a drought, these canals would dry up too. Plus, Shao Xuan felt like Ji Ju wasn’t just worried about this. There must be something else Ji Ju was unwilling to tell him.
Since Ji Ju wasn’t telling, Shao Xuan did not plan to ask either. He and Guang Yi had already stayed many days and watched the Thousand Grain Gold plants grow after passing the second block. They’d learned a lot about crops and received precious seeds. Shao Xuan planned to leave since he would just be disturbing here.
However, before he left, he had one thing to attend to.
On the next day, Ji Ju had not left his room in Qingmang Pavilion so Shao Xuan left on his own. The guards at the entrance knew Shao Xuan and after he told them he was just taking a walk, they did not stop him.
Shoa Xuan went to Yi Shi’s plot of land.
Yi Shi had just finished calculating some figures for a client on a thick roll of cloth. There were five sacks of grains next to him-- payment for his service.
A large man with an oily face left with a darkened face. The results must’ve shown that someone had cheated him of his harvest. Every step was forceful.
When Shao Xuan arrived, Yi Shi only looked up without friendliness. “What’s up? Mr Golden Grain isn’t here today.”
“No, I have a question for you,” said Shao Xuan.
“Oh? I don’t do anything without payment.”
“If you can solve this, of course you’ll receive payment.”
When he heard this, Yi Shi finally looked directly at Shao Xuan. “Tell me, what do you need me to calculate? Or you need me to check your accounts?”
“Not that.” Shao Xuan took out a light-coloured piece of fabric with two circles. There were symbols and horizontal lines on it. It was the diagram he copied from the Gongjia Mountain’s walls- they were left behind by the Yi ancestors. However, he had broken up the diagram into several sections and simplified them. After drawing them unto another piece of cloth, he had brought it to Yi Shi.
He did not understand the diagram so he couldn’t guess what this diagram was for. He’d seen how talented Yi Shi was in mathematics, and this guy didn’t look very ambitious either. After talking to Ji Ju’s butler, Yi Shi was just a minor figure in the Yi family or he wouldn’t be here watching a small piece of poor-quality land with only one usable well. Plus, Yi Shi could not perform readings so he could not set up a business at the readings street in King City. That was why he could only rely on this bit of talent for money.
Yi Shi was surprised to see only one piece of cloth. Only one? This will be simple.
However, when Yi Shi unfurled the cloth, his pupils constricted as he looked at the diagram. He leapt up aggressively, “Why do you have the Yi family’s ring diagram?”
So these ring-shaped diagrams were really called ring diagrams.
“Forget about that. You just have to tell me how to solve this,” said Shao Xuan.
Yi Shi stared at Shao Xuan for a few seconds, then sat down, fingers rapping on the tabletop. “What do you want to know? The solution? You would never understand.”
Shao Xuan did not rebut. He merely pointed at the lines and foreign symbols so Yi Shi would explain.
Yi Shi did not refuse, explaining their meanings briefly. They did not touch the core secrets plus he did not tell him how he used diagrams. To them, it did not matter if outsiders knew all these. Many of the Yi family’s knowledge had been leaked but very few could understand the core secrets. The Yi family was as proud and confident in themselves as the Gongjia family.
However, Shao Xuan just wanted to know what calculation formulas the symbols and lines represented. That was enough.
As a confirmation, he substituted some numbers into the diagram and asked Yi Shi for the answer. On the other hand, he took out a thin stick of charcoal and spread a piece of cloth on the empty side of the table.
Yi shi calculated as he stared at the diagram while Shao Xuan did his calculations on the cloth. He wasn’t as mad as Yi Shi.
When Shao Xuan finished, Yi Shi was already waiting.
Yi Shi looked at him in surprise when he put down his pencil. “You’re done?!” A regular person should need almost half a day, no? How could he be so fast?
Shao Xuan was impressed by Yi Shi’s abilities too. Writing his calculations down was still slower than this guy and his finger calculations.
“Your answer?” asked Shao Xuan.
Sceptical, Yi Shi showed him his cloth.
Shao Xuan looked at his answer. It was the same. Although he was slower than Yi Shi, now that he knew how to utilise the diagrams, he should be able to solve the complicated diagrams.
“You really did it?!” Yi Shi was astonished. How could it be? Would this person take business away from him?
“Yeah. How much as payment?”
Yi Shi thought for a moment and showed him five fingers. “Fifty gold leaves!”
Fifty gold leaves were the same as five sacks of grains.
“But, if you tell me how you calculated, you don’t have to pay me,” said Yi Shi. “You just tell me your general methods, you don’t have to tell me details. “
Shao Xuan counted fifty gold leaves, put them on the table, kept his cloth and left.
“Wait!” yelled Yi Shi.
Shao Xuan thought Yi Shi was going to ask about the calculations but he asked, “How many fewer birds are there in the sky?”
Shao Xuan looked at him in confusion. “What do you mean?”
“You’re going to leave the fields soon right? If that’s true, be careful.” That’s all Yi Shi said.
He couldn’t do readings, yet he could come to this conclusion based on the birds in the sky?
“Thank you!” Shao Xuan left Yi Shi’s plot.
When Shao Xuan left, Yi Shi took out a piece of cloth and a brush dipped in pigment, then started writing.
If Shao Xuan was here, he’d realise Yi Shi was writing a few multiplication and division equations similar to his.
Although Yi Shi had seen him doing it upside down, Yi Shi was quick to write them down. The numbers and symbols were foreign to him, and the lines! However, the vertical calculations he wrote were all identical to Shao Xuan’s.
When he was done, Yi Shi stared at these symbols in deep thought, making annotations with symbols he was familiar with.
“Young Master, there’s someone from the An family looking for…” said a butler.
Yi Shi kept his cloth and gestured for him to bring the guy in. “After this, close the gates. We’re done for the day.”
“Huh?” The butler was still calculating how much he’d get from today’s payments.
“What about…. Tomorrow?” asked the butler.
Although it was a pity, the butler obeyed his instructions and hung a sign at the gates so other people could just go back. The Young Master was going to rest for the day but as for when the business would open again, he didn’t mention.