Galloping A Thousand Miles – Ancient Book
Hong Jiu still felt unsettled. He swept his gaze around and happened to catch sight of Princess Jingan, who noticed his gaze on her, and thus, made eye contact with him. The moment the two made eye contact, Jingan revealed a subtle smile, one that was bewitching and clearly intended for Hong Jiu, consequently nearly stealing his soul.
Hong Jiu shook his head out of instinct and mentally thumped himself. “Shit, shit, why does her smile look so nice? Don’t tell me she has a crush on me! Isn’t she married? Shit me. Shit me. I couldn’t resist her charm! Wait! I’m in a disguise. Did she catch something perchance? Look at the beauty. How did my disguise fail?”
“Please examine it, Your Majesty!” exclaimed Jin Wangsun, shaking his body. He was giddy and smiling as if he was in a play.
“This is a rare item. It comes from a very faraway place. It is very rare to find in the Central Plain,” reported Jin Wangsun, not forgetting to shoot Tang Ye a berating glance. “It is a splendid item that others will not be able to find.”
Tang Ye and Hong Jiu began to lose control over their emotions. “Ours is rare, too… too rare and too splendid, in fact… so splendid that I’m getting an upset stomach…”
The Emperor grabbed the item Jin Wangsun submitted and clicked his tongue. “Indeed, this, I have never seen before. May I ask what this is? Is it very rare and precious?”
The old prime minister and inspector whispered to each other and kept exchanging opinions. They seemed to be in a dilemma and weren’t convinced of its authenticity. Frankly, it wasn’t just the Emperor who thought Jin Wangsun would win the round without any hitches. All of the royal family members in attendance and the prime minister, who hoped Ming Feizhen would win, believed that Jin Wangsun would win for sure.
With the wealth and influence that Gold and Silver Sect had, they were always in possession of countless rare and precious items. Therefore, Jin Wangsun had an almost unfair advantage in Thousand Miles. Gold and Silver Sect still had an advantage even if they didn’t count hidden items. The fact that Gold and Silver Sect originated as a business with their influence in business stretching to every corner of the Kingdom – and even further South to the border – was the factor that convinced everyone Jin Wangsun would unquestionably win. There was no logical reason to think that they couldn’t bring the best item to the Emperor if Jin Wangsun gave the command.
In terms of transportation, the steed that Jin Wangsun brought to the capital demonstrated how amazing his horses could be. After all, Gold and Silver Sect certainly wouldn’t lack quality horses or equestrians. As long as time allowed, they’d be able to bring things back no matter how far away it may have been. There was nothing to suggest that Ming Feizhen had any hope for the round.
Despite the prime minister having prepared himself mentally for the defeat, his expression was still stirred by the sight of the object…
After a long discussion with the serious looking inspector, they finally reported back to the Emperor. “Your Majesty, after a lengthy discussion with inspector Li, we both conclude that this item comes from Lizhe Kingdom.
The Emperor’s expression changed to surprise owing to what he heard. “Lizhe Kingdom?! H-How…?”
Everybody, including Hong Jiu and Tang Ye who looked at each other, was shocked by the news.
Lizhe was one of the seven Kingdoms in the West. The current dynasty opened up to trades, but nevertheless, that didn’t change the fact that the distance from the seven Kingdoms in the West was over thousands of miles away from Nanjing, so it was perplexing to hear that it arrived at Nanjing in time. It had only been ten days since the fuma selection was announced; it made no sense that Jin Wangusn was able to obtain the item from Lizhe Kingdom.
Lizhe Kingdom was located over six-thousand miles away from Nanjing. Even with Gold and Silver Sect’s wealth and influence, it would probably take ten days alone just to reach Lizhe Kingdom from Nanjing. That was even if they used their horses that could run a thousand miles a day to run all day and night, changing horses at every rest stop. Six thousand miles would mean he’d have to cover one-thousand miles per day to arrive within six days.
A horse that could run a thousand miles per day was but a cultural quote. Even the best bred horses were limited to a thousand miles during the day and another eight hundred at night. A horse that could travel five-hundred miles in a night was considered cream of the crop. To add, a horse couldn’t maintain top speed the entire way. Going by averages, it still wouldn’t be able to last for an entire day and night. The imperial court needed to continue to switch horses to deliver urgent messages within an eight-hundred mile radius. Subsequently, it was inconceivable for Jin Wangsun to obtain the item from Lizhe Kingdom and make it back within ten days.
Hong Jiu didn’t expect Jin Wangsun to be capable of the feat, either. The amazement left his mouth dry. He picked up a pot of wine and ensured nobody was looking his way before drinking from it whilst trying to come up with a counterplan.
The Emperor also frowned. He questioned the authenticity of Jin Wangsun’s item in a roundabout way. “Wangsun… Thousand Miles is a test of patience and sincerity. Even if you don’t personally make the trip, you must send someone to obtain it. And if you buy it, you must buy an authentic product.”
Jin Wangsun smiled. He seemingly sneaked a glance at Princess Jingan. He showered her with praise in his mind. “Her Highness is truly pure and eloquent. What a fantastic idea it was.”
“Your Majesty, you need not worry, for Wangsun personally sent someone to go and buy it,” calmly replied Jin Wangsun. Slowly and calmly, he elaborated, “Wangsun first sent a pigeon to deliver a message, switching pigeons along the way to reach Gold and Silver Sect’s business branch in the far West. Wangsun had them bring the item back from Lizhe Kingdom on horseback, following the directions Wangsun provided. As such, it was reduced to a one-way trip, making it possible to be delivered to Nanjing in time.”
“Brilliant. Brilliant,” praised the Emperor. Tone joyful, he asked, “You have done your reputation as the youngest leader of the Seven Champion White Princes proud. That was a brilliant strategy. With that said, why didn’t you purchase something from the Western border directly, and then have them transported back? Would that not have saved you time?”
Expression solemn, Jin Wangsun explained, “It is precisely because your subject wholeheartedly loves Her Highness. Had it not come from Lizhe Kingdom, how could it constitute as a rare item? This ancient book details Lizhe Kingdom’s religion that is thriving most there. Prime Minister, can you confirm the truth of my statement?”
“Your Majesty, your subject travelled all the lands in his younger years and did go to Lizhe before,” replied the old prime minister, with his hands together in front of him. “Your subject has meticulously assessed the book. Indeed, the book is from Lizhe Kingdom. The paper, text and cover are all styled after Lizhe’s style, which is exclusive to them.”
“Oh,” responded the Emperor. The Emperor then flipped through the book. What he found was that there were only images and difficult to understand text, which was read: he didn’t understand any of the contents. Thus, he scratched his head. “Is it rarely that rare? What are the contents about?”
“Your subject does not comprehend it, either. While the book does, for a fact, come from Lizhe, it does not seem to be an ancient book,” answered the prime minister.
“How is it not an ancient book?” asked Jin Wangsun, voice angry. After all, he spent a lot of effort to bring the book back from Lizhe Kingdom. He fumed, “Prime Minister, you should not try to fabricate sensationalism. The book is Lizhe Kingdoms’ most popular ancient religious book.”
“Then, may I ask if you can understand the text within, Patriarch Jin?”
“Hmph. Prime Minister, this one asks that you do not try to divert the attention to this one. This one is from the Central Plain; how would this one understand their text?”
“This old one thought about as much. If you did, you would not submit it to His Majesty so joyously.”
The prime minister glanced over to the small book that was turning yellow. He did his best to hold in his laughter and after much struggle, sighed. “This old one needs not mention the text. If you read the title backwards, it is read as, ‘Lord San Shen X Ximen Chuideng – Next Chapter’. As for the contents… apologies, but this old one’s shallow knowledge is not profound enough to understand it.”
“Lord San Shen X Ximen Chuideng…? What does that m-, huh?! Gross! Touchwood!” exclaimed the Emperor, as he hurled it as though it caught fire. “Jin Wangsun, what are you showing me on New Year’s Eve?! I was wondering why there were so many drawings of two men hugging each other!”
Jin Wangsun quickly evaded the book as it zoomed back toward his head.
“This is not it! Your Majesty, y-your subject does not know how this was bought, instead, either!”
Hong Jiu, who had been sneakily drinking while the fiasco took place, wanted to chime in when he saw the fiasco. Unfortunately, he choked on the wine. His face was red; he was forced to resort to stammering,“I, I, I… I! Ugh!”
Jin Wangsun, who was annoyed already, turned around and thundered, “You what?”
Hong Jiu blasted a mouthful of wine onto Jin Wangsun’s face…
As things had gotten completely out of hand, Tang Ye quickly stepped in, “Second Brother Hong, what exactly do you want to say?”
Hong Jiu kept coughing and rubbing his chest. He eventually took out a small book, albeit after much struggling. While panting, he said, “I… I… I… I have the previous chapter…”
*A horse that could run a thousand miles per day was but a cultural quote – refers to the Chinese phrase 千里马 (Lit. Thousand mile horse), which is commonly used to praise remarkable horses that could run long distances