Chapter 299: Dowry Changes Lives [Volume 5 – A Distance Within Reach]
Qianye walked out of the armory and found Song Zining talking to a certain young lady.
Behind the counter, Elder Lu was still dozing off with his back against the chair and snoring subtly. But the old man’s eyes suddenly opened just a tiny slit the moment Qianye stepped out of the alloy door. His gaze immediately fell upon the East Peak in Qianye’s hands accompanied by an unnoticeable flash of light.
At this moment, the personal guard walked over to the counter and said while passing over two tokens, “Elder Lu, we’ve chosen our equipment. Please look over them.”
Elder Lu shifted his sitting position and opened his eyelids completely. He then shot a glance at the tokens and, seeing that they belonged to a grade-five origin gun and the ancient sword East Peak, he began to record the name An Renyi in the data column along with the date and purpose of withdrawal.
Elder Lu’s vision seemed somewhat blurred—he brought the tablet closer with shaky hands until it was almost at his nose. During this process, his pinky finger rubbed against the tablet lightly—the name “ancient sword East Peak” suddenly faded away and was replaced by the words “incomplete heavy sword”.
Elder Lu tossed the two tablets to the nearby armory steward to be filed. He then yawned and waved his hands toward Song Zining who seemed to want to say something. “All is well, your men have always been meticulous in their work. You can go now. This old man still has to sleep a bit longer for that all-night gambling match. I’ll definitely have old man Fu leave without his pants!”
Song Zining said with a smile, “I have to accompany my friend for a drink tonight and won’t be there to cheer for you. I wish you a big victory over the other three parties.”
Elder Lu’s eyes had already closed at this moment, and after waving, he began to snore once again.
At this time, the young lady beside Song Zining said, “Brother Zining, you’ve not come back for a long time. Are you sure you’re drinking tonight? Don’t tell me you’re going to fool around with little brother?”
Song Zining’s smile was as gentle as the warm breeze in spring. “I only arrived this afternoon. I haven’t even met Zhiyuan yet!”
He looked up and found Qianye looking at them curiously. A strand of evil flashed through his eyes as he waved and said, “Xiao An, this way.” He then said to the young lady, “This is my brother, An Renyi.”
The young lady turned around and glanced expectantly at Qianye with her large watery eyes. She was about 14 or 15 years of age, with a petite figure and was only as tall as Qianye’s chest. Her countenance possessed a certain type of bewitching charm and this contrast formed an extremely unique sense of beauty.
The young lady said in an outgoing manner, “Big brother An!”
Qianye was startled and, having no idea what to say, uttered a random response. Song Zining said with a laughing tone, “Yunqing is my clan sister and Honorary Count Gu’s daughter.”
At this moment, there was a group at the door who seemed to have been waiting for some time. A person among them called the young lady’s name. Consequently, Song Zining said his farewells to the lady with a smile and dragged Qianye out of the door with his arm over the latter’s shoulder.
The leader of that group was a champion. Only after seeing Song Zining move away did he go forward and said respectfully to the sleeping old man, “Elder Lu, the guest warriors of Young Master Zhihe and Young Mistress Jingchu have arrived to withdraw equipment. Also, Young Mistress Yunqing wishes to enter the third-grade weapon area to change armaments.”
Judging from the champion’s announcement, the group belonged to a side branch of the Song clan. The Song clan currently has 20-odd people on its successor list. Among them, not even half were direct descendants. Although the side branches gaining the clan lord’s position was unprecedented, they could still contend for the position of an elder.
At this time, Elder Lu was snoring continuously and seemed to have no intention of waking up. The leader didn’t seem very concerned as if he had known it would turn out this way. He opened the book on his own and found the records related to the guest warriors. A steward soon walked out from behind and took them into the armory.
The leader didn’t follow them in. He stayed outside and whispered to the manager, “Manager Li, how come Elder Lu came out today?”
Manager Li said in a soft voice, “How will I know? Elder Lu’s actions are full of profound meanings. But judging from his intentions, it’s possible that he wants to observe the youngsters participating in this examination and see if there are any moldable talents he can guide.”
The group leader’s eyes lit up and said enviously, “If that is the case, then it’s truly a great fortune. I wonder which brat has such a good luck.”
In the courtyard just outside of the armory, Song Zining and Qianye stood at the base of the stairs as they waited for the former’s personal guard to drive the car over.
Song Zining still had his hand over Qianye’s shoulder as he whispered with a laugh, “What do you think of the girl just now? If you wish, I can play the matchmaker and let you bring her back home after the exams.”
Qianye was shocked and almost felt something was wrong with his ears. He had never thought about getting married, not to mention the other party was from a large clan. “She’s the daughter of a count, right?”
“Only an honorary count. It sounds all good and well, but the title can’t be inherited and can be obtained as long as one donates enough money to the imperial military.” Song Zining shrugged casually and spared no effort to explain the many benefits of this union.
According to his words, this was a shortcut that would spare him 30 years of hard work. This clan sister Yunqing, for instance, was the only daughter of Honorary Duke Gu and would come with an extremely abundant dowry. It would, at least, be equal in value to the equipment costs of a regular army corps.
In this day and age, those with money and equipment would easily gain an entire group fearless people to work for them. Hence, taking this wife would allow Qianye’s small mercenary corps to leap upward and expand to the level of a division. On Evernight Continent, he would at least be a city lord.
Additionally, Song Zining, in his usual immoral style, told Qianye to rest assured and that he could take more than just one wife. He could just marry again if he met another girl he really liked or one with an abundant dowry. The empire had strict rules regarding polygamy, but that was not the case on Evernight Continent.
As for the family of the original wife coming to cause trouble, that wasn’t a problem either. As long as Qianye’s martial prowess kept on improving and moved up to the ranks of brigadier general and general, who would dare speak to him with his head raised? Hence, he could marry as many wives as he had the strength to.
Song Zining’s final conclusion was: “Dowry changes lives.”
Qianye was already dumbfounded by the time Song Zining was done speaking. He only felt that this was such a preposterous argument and he didn’t even know how to retort. As it happened, Song Zining was waiting for his reply with an expectant expression. Hence, Qianye replied in a somewhat distressed manner, “That girl isn’t even of age, right?”
Song Zining was stunned. “What does that have to do with marriage?”
The two stared at each other for a while before Song Zining suddenly spoke as if he had understood something, “You like mature women?! That’s fine too. I know a couple of them.”
Qianye was already too lazy to pay attention to him.
Meanwhile, Song Zining was still going on. “Don’t tell me you’re thinking about heirs? If you find these women not very desirable, then don’t let them get pregnant. It’s not easy to make a woman give birth, but it’s even harder to make them not give birth.”
He glanced at Qianye and said suspiciously, “Don’t tell me you don’t know about these things? The slaves from the Hidden Springs Merchant Group are extremely proficient in room-craft. Have you not used them well? How about this? I’ve gotten my hands on yet another pair of sisters, I’ll let you have one tonight.”
Qianye could no longer endure and used his elbow to deal a moderate blow to Song Zining’s upper abdomen, flinging him away from his shoulders. He then walked toward the gradually approaching jeep in large strides.
When Qianye got onto the car, the entire jeep suddenly sank down and even began to emit slight creaking noises. Although this vehicle was designed for speed and not outstanding in its capacity for weight, it was still surprising to see it being pressed down like so.
Song Zining hurried over from behind and, after seeing what had happened, reached out to lift the East Peak. However, to his great surprise, he was actually unable to pick it up on the first try. He then used origin power to weigh it in his hands and said with an astounded smile, “It’s a good item. Very suitable for the arena.”
Although heavy weapons drained a fair amount of origin power, they made for powerful killing tools in the limited space of the arena. As long as the wielder was capable of controlling the situation, he would be perfectly capable of overpowering all fancy techniques.
Only on the way back did Qianye come to know why Song Zining had come back from the Enlightenment Manor so soon—it turned out he hadn’t met the elder in charge of clan affairs. It was said that some esteemed guests from another clan had arrived, and the elder was required to receive them. This matter was supposedly a top secret, but Song Zining had his own methods of obtaining information.
At this point, Song Zining couldn’t help but sneer, “What esteemed guest? It’s merely Zhao Jundu, and those old fogeys can’t focus on their own duties anymore.”
Qianye was rather surprised. Perhaps Zhao Jundu could, in terms of authority, half-represent Zhao Weihuang of the Zhao clan. But in any case, he was still a junior and hadn’t even received any formal title. The Song clan expressing such excessive courtesy was actually equal to throwing away their own prestige. After all, the two clans were ranked together among the four major clans—overly lowering their stance not only amounted to bad etiquette, but it also made clear their inferiority in position.
Qianye gave it some thought and asked, “Does the Song clan have anything to ask of the Zhao?”
Song Zining was momentarily startled. Qianye’s thoughts were honest and direct—although this made him inferior in strategy, it also allowed him to see things with greater clarity. More often than not, he was able to directly address the vital points in military affairs. Unexpectedly, he was also quite keen in clan politics.
Song Zining replied, “The position of my eldest brother Song Zicheng’s first wife had always been an undecided matter. Rumor has it that he was scheming to marry a lady of the imperial clan. In truth, this isn’t just so that he can claim the seat of the next clan lord. This method has already gained the silent approval of many an elder, and the Zhao clan is a faithful member of the imperial party. That was why the elders are eager to express their goodwill toward the Zhao clan. And with Zhao Jundu’s abilities, he is the most likely to become the next Zhao clan lord.”
This Song Zicheng he had spoken of just now was the eldest son of the generation and the eldest grandchild of the current clan lord. He was close to thirty years old and had broken through to become a champion three years ago. Additionally, he had participated in clan affairs for many years. As the leader of this generation in terms of age, martial prowess, and ability, he had always been ranked first as a successor.
With the Song clan’s current situation, it was likely that the clan lord position would be handed over a generation. As such, Song Zicheng was the favorite candidate for this position.
At this point, Qianye had understood the entire process.
The Song clan had already weakened to a dangerous level as there were no powerful experts in all three generations capable of supporting the general situation of the clan. For a clan with so much wealth that even a branch family’s dowry could affect the strength of a division-level force, such a situation would make them a fat sheep amidst wolves. The inferior aristocratic families might not dare to do anything to them, but those at the same level might not have any qualm.
One had to know that the great clans were neither there since the beginning nor were they the only ones to ever gain this position. In the empire’s thousand-year history, there were nine clans at their most flourishing era and three at their lowest.
There were old grudges between the ancestors of the Zhang and Song clans. Presently, the Zhang clan had made no bold moves because Duchess An was still around. However, Zhang Boqian was like a midday sun and hadn’t even reached the peak of his martial advancement. If some unforeseen events were to occur in the future, the Zhang clan would likely be the first to cause trouble for the Song clan.
From Qianye’s point of the view, however, the Song clan’s attempt to draw closer to the imperial clan wasn’t a wise choice either. The current Song clan’s situation wasn’t the same as Zhao Weihuang. Its successor marrying a lady of the imperial clan, or perhaps even a princess, might preserve his position as clan lord and duke, but would the strength of a single woman be enough to maintain the Song clan’s position in the empire?
From Song Zining’s somewhat mocking expression, Qianye knew that he didn’t approve of this matter either.
But Qianye wasn’t interested in evaluating the internal affairs of the Song clan. He did have certain other concerns, however. “Will Zhao Jundu harm you?” Since the Song clan was flattering Zhao Jundu like so, it might become fairly problematic for Song Zining if the former even slightly expressed his dissent.
Song Zining shook his head. “You need not worry about this. It’s more likely for him to kill me directly than to do something like borrowing the Song clan’s hands to suppress me.”
Qianye couldn’t help but frown after hearing this. At this time, the jeep had stopped at an extremely large courtyard at the base of the Cloud Mountains. Song Zining said with a laugh, “We’ve arrived at the Clear Melody Pavilion. We shall not return until we’re drunk. Leave all other troubles for tomorrow!”
Atop three flights of stone steps before them was a splendorous hall. The sounds of dancing and singing lingered around this building with its doors and windows opened on three sides. This was the Song clan’s most prestigious music hall. Since most businesses were concluded over banquets and feasts, the Song clan’s entertainers and delicacies were extremely famous.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
4/7 of the week ^_^ Enjoy!