The Concealed Weapon hit Tang Zhongqin's knee, which made him lost balance in the air, and before he could get on his feet, Xiao Jianping had seized his long sword and pointed it against his chest.
Everyone under the platform was dumbfounded at this time. It was the first time that they'd seen a disciple throwing a Concealed Weapon in a competition. Was it a decent victory or a violation of the rule? No one could give it an answer for a while.
Moments later, Xiao Jianping withdrew the long sword, and said coldly, "You lose!"
"Yes, I lose," Tang Zhongqin responded, his face blank.
Xiao Jianping threw Tang Zhongqin's sword to the ground and turned away when an unfriendly voice came from the audience, "How could junior brother Xiao use the Concealed Weapon?!"
It seemed to immediately resonate with some other audience, who began to talk about Xiao's behavior.
Xiao Jianping paused for a loud voice, "Could anyone tell me which rule prohibits using the Concealed Weapon during the year-end evaluation?"
The crowd turned quiet. One of the referees said, "There is no such a rule… it's the convention, in the competition, no one used it."
"Then I didn't violate any rule," Xiao Jianping said. "I violated your so-called 'convention' at best."
"In spite of everything, the Concealed Weapon shouldn't appear on the platform… as an honorable gentleman! It's…it's not a decent win! " the initial voice in the crowd came again.
"Not decent?" Xiao Jianping chuckled. "Did I assert I'm an honorable gentleman? Did I assert I'll compete in a decent way? I win. Brother Tang, am I wrong?"
He looked at Tang Zhongqin, a look full of meaning. Tang Zhongqin nodded, something meaningful on his face. He seemed to get something to say, instead, he said nothing.
Xiao Jianping didn't wait for Tang Zhongqin's next word. He silently picked up his own long sword and slid it into the scabbard, and stepped down the platform, leaving the talking behind him and the referees in embarrassment.
"I lost…" Tang Zhongqin sighed, like a deflated balloon.
In the afternoon, a glimmer of sunshine finally broke out of the embrace of the clouds and showed up in the sky, as if to celebrate the successful ending of evaluation this year.
After lunch, Wei Gaoyuan returned to his room. When he was about to comb up in his mind what had happened recently, Chu Yuntian knocked on his door.
It was not Chu Yuntian's personal visit, but Elder Wu asked it. Putting everything aside, Wei Gaoyuan quickly followed Chu Yuntian to the Palace of Dark-Feather.
As usual, Elder Wu saw Wei Gaoyuan mostly in the backyard. He expected it might not be something private. So, carefully adjusting his clothes and his hair outside the door, he kept his back straighter and walked into the Palace of Dark-Feather. There were three people in the hall, Elder Wu, and two disciples in the Cyan-Feather uniforms.
Seeing Wei Gaoyuan's arrival, the two Cyan-Feather disciples greeted first with the cupped-fist, "It's good to see you, Junior brother Wei!"
Wei Gaoyuan didn't know exactly why they were here. After giving Elder Wu a bow, he greeted with a cupped-fist in return, "Pleased to see you, brothers!"
The two Cyan-Feather disciples smiled and nodded. one of them continued, "Elder Xu send us to bring some small gifts, to express the gratitude of the Cyan-Feather."
The other took a cyan wooden box from the table, about a foot long and half a foot wide, and handed it to Wei Gaoyuan.
"It..." Wei Gaoyuan unconsciously gave a glance at Elder Wu.
Elder Wu nodded slightly. Wei Gaoyuan took the box with both hands, "Thank you, brothers! And please send my thanks to Elder Xu."
"That's good," seeing Wei Gaoyuan had accepted the gifts, the person who just talked smiled. "after that, we shouldn't disturb you any longer… "
The two bowed to Elder Wu and cupped-fisted to Wei Gaoyuan
Having noticed Elder Wu greeted with nodding then said nothing, Wei Gaoyuan, holding the box, bowed slightly, "Hope to see you again, brothers!"
After the two left and disappeared into the distance, Wei Gaoyuan looked at the box in his arms then at Elder Wu, wondering if he should leave or open it now.
Elder Wu smiled, "if you wanna know what's inside now, just open it."
Wei Gaoyuan gave an awkward smile, opened the box: a piece of paper folded in its half, and a palm-sized circular object, looked like a bronze mirror.
He picked up the paper first, which was full of characters and stamped, looked like some kind of bill. He opened it. It was a cheque issued by Daxuan Money House, of 100 gold coins! (20000 copper coins = 20 silver coins = 1 gold coin)
Holding the cheque, Wei Gaoyuan shuddered.
Daxuan Money House was the formal financial institution in the country of Daxuan, which operated businesses like storage and credit.
In Daxuan, most of the common people used copper coins as the currency; for the rich large family, they usually used silver coins to exchange high-end stuff; as for gold coins, it only appeared among the elite, the official or upper-level people.
The exchange rate between gold to silver was generally not fixed, as high as 1:40, occasionally, and as low as 1:8. In recent decades, the fluctuation of the rate changed not widely, at about 1:20. In spite of that, gold was still scarce. On the black market or in some undercover activities, 1 gold coin could exchange 22 silver coins.
That meant, Wei Gaoyuan could exchange this little paper for 100 gold coins in Daxuan Money House, or 2000 silver coins, or even 2200 through some unorthodox way…
That was the sound of Wei Gaoyuan's swallowing the saliva.
Except himself, no one here knew what that amount of coins meant to Wei Gaoyuan.
When in White Plain Town, he had to spend a very hard day just for a few copper coins, for two white steamed bread to fill up the two poor stomachs of the brother and sister. If possible, he also needed to save some of them for Xiaoxue's medical treatment.
2000 silver coins, it was quite enough to buy a huge house in White Plain Town, yes, and fancy food on the table, and luxury clothes in the closet.
Elder Wu coughed lightly, pulling Wei Gaoyuan back to reality.
Wei Gaoyuan scratched his head in embarrassment, holding the cheque and saying, "Master, it..."
"Yeah, I know, he's kind of stingy sometimes, just 100 gold coins..." Elder Wu snorted, with a trace of discontent. "You take it first. I'll give you a few hundreds more, it should be enough for you to visit relatives and friends after going down the mountain…"
A few hundreds more! Gold or silver?
A few hundred more silver coins were astronomical for him! Wei Gaoyuan's mind seemed to get cramped…
He thought even those high-level officials in the city could hardly possess such means. But he soon realized that his master was one of the Elders in the outer section, and one of the Nature, not less powerful than the Lord of Qizhou City. "A few hundred more gold coins" might not be a big deal for such a big master.
His guess was correct yet he'd still underestimated the real influence of one in the Nature. Unlike the Mystery, the total of the Nature within the whole Daxuan was not so many as he imagined, furthermore, the Elders should be counted as the top of those in the Nature. Once they went down the mountain into the outside, a large number of people were willing to send them a mass of gold, silver, and kinds of valuables, just for gaining some potential Positive Karma.
However, money was not as necessary as common people thought for getting acquainted with the Nature. To those wealthy big families in the town at the foot of the mountains, no more than a hundred of them might get the opportunity to send their children into the outer section by the way of donation.
For the Nature, in that stage, money was nothing but money. What they cared most now was how to enjoy and break through the stage after the stage. Hence the Elders would rather learn to be a free bird to fly amid the high and deep mountains, and one day to leave the initial mountains and soar into the higher sky.
The world outside the mountains was an ideal access to gaining experience, as well as a perfect abyss to sink original heart of martial arts.
An immortal, in that sense, was one who could succeed in walking up into the mountain from its outside after down into its outside after up into it from its outside.
("immortal": "仙" in Chinese, which consists of two parts; "亻" on the left means "a human," and "山" on the right means a mountain.)
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