Chapter 29 The First Signs of Danger
When Yan Liqiang left the Lu Residence, he sat in Old Master Lu’s personal luxurious horse carriage, a completely different way than how he had arrived at the Lu Residence earlier.
Head Steward Lu personally sent Yan Liqiang off, they were escorted by two guards from the Lu Clan on their rhinodrake steeds.
The sun had just set, before arriving at the Lu Residence. But now, as he was leaving the Lu Residence, the sky outside had already been decorated with countless stars.
They were sending him off in a horse carriage as a sign of courtesy and respect, but more so because Yan Liqiang was carrying the five hundred taels of gold that the Lu Clan had rewarded him. It would be inconvenient for him to have a rhinodrake steed carry the fully loaded chest.
He opened the chest and took out a shiny gold bar. It felt heavy and cold to the touch while giving off an indescribable sense of security in Yan Liqiang’s heart as he held it in his hands.
Regardless of his past or current life, this was Yan Liqiang’s first time possessing such a large amount of wealth. These shimmering gold things had caused so many people in this world to shed blood, lay down their lives, or even become a self-centered deranged person incapable of recognizing their own family and relatives.
The valuable gold bars on one side, with cheap moxa sticks on the other. It was a human life that had put an equal sign between a couple of moxa sticks and the chest that was filled with no less than five hundred taels of gold in front of him.
In this world, there were many times where things could be fantastic.
Who could truly determine whether or not valuables were truly valuable, or the cheap was truly cheap?
When he thought back to the Muscle Tendon Changing and Marrow Cleansing Manual that he had bought from the street stall, Yan Liqiang who was currently rubbing the gold bar in his hand sighed to himself.
The emotions and excitement that the gold bars had stirred up within Yan Liqiang lasted a lot shorter than he had expected, the horse carriage had only just exited the entrance of Lu Residence. Looking down at the gold bar in his hand again, Yan Liqiang had calmed down compared to before. He then grabbed a handful of gold bars from the chest, about five or six of them; without even counting, shoved them into the arms of Stewart Lu Wenbin, who was escorting him back and currently sitting across from him.
Aside from Yan Liqiang, Steward Lu was also very excited at this same moment.
The Lu Clan had sent out twelve stewards to all corners of Huanglong County in search for help. And he ended up being the one who had brought Yan Liqiang back, contrary to the other stewards who had returned empty-handed. He did not expect that Yan Liqiang, whom he had brought home, would manage to miraculously save the child in the end.
Although Head Steward Lu had yet to say a word, Steward Lu could already see that better days for him in the Lu Clan were right around the corner.
While still immersed in his own fantasy, Steward Lu suddenly felt something heavy being pushed into his arms. As he lowered his head to look, he discovered that Yan Liqiang had shoved a handful of gold bars into his arms, giving Steward Lu’s heart a sudden shock.
"Young Master Yan, I couldn’t possibly accept this…" Steward Lu lowered his voice and tried to return the gold bars to Yan Liqiang.
However, Yan Liqiang pressed Steward Lu’s hands back to him and spoke to him in an equally lowered voice, "Steward Lu, if it wasn’t for you for bringing me to the Lu Residence, I wouldn’t have been given this opportunity. In fact, I still owe you my gratitude. Therefore, these gold bars are also partly thanks to you, so we should share them. There’s no reason for you to refuse since you deserve it…"
"No, no. This is something Old Master has bestowed upon Young Master Yan…" Steward Lu shoved the gold bars back towards Yan Liqiang.
"The things that Old Master Lu had bestowed upon me are mine, so I can do whatever I want with them. You don’t have to worry, Steward Lu…" Yan Liqiang shoved the gold bars back to Steward Lu.
"If Steward Lu insists on refusing it, it would be bad if the people outside overheard us. Aren’t you supposed to be working dedicatedly in the Lu Residence for the sake of providing your family with a better life? Yet, here I am giving you something openly and honestly with sincerity as courtesy calls for reciprocity. And I’m not worried even if Old Master Hong were to find out about this, so what are you worrying about, Steward Lu?"
He wasn’t certain if it was his sincerity or his words that had moved Steward Lu. But regardless of which, Steward Lu looked at the shiny gold bars that were in his arms, then looked at the smile on Yan Liqiang’s face. In the end, he finally ceased his attempts to push away the gold bars and instead very gratefully smiled. He swallowed hard before stuffing the gold bars into the front of his clothes. "Then… Lu Wenbin thanks Young Master Yan for the gift…"
"You’re welcome. Ever since I was young, my father has taught me that great things are achieved through mass effort. Without the efforts of Steward Lu, I wouldn’t have received these rewards and Old Master Lu’s grandchild wouldn’t have been saved. This is the least I can do…" The smile on Yan Liqiang’s face grew more sincere and amiable.
Steward Lu secretly sighed in amazement. This fourteen-year-old youth was really great in his manners. It really didn’t seem like he was a youth but a seasoned mature adult. No wonder why Old Master had personally sent him off to the entrance of the manor. Only a distinguished, honored guest would have the privilege to receive such treatment in the Lu Residence. If the current Yan Liqiang was already a person of such caliber, he couldn’t imagine how he would be like in the future.
With their intention of making friends with each other clear, Yan Liqiang and Steward Lu chatted enthusiastically with each other and in just the blink of an eye, their friendship quickly deepened.
After Yan Liqiang’s departure from the Lu Residence in the horse carriage, Old Master Lu and Head Steward Lu once again returned to Peony Hall.
When both of them sat down, the maid served up some freshly brewed tea for them before obediently withdrawing from the room.
The two of them started to discuss the incident that happened today. After a few exchanges, Old Master Lu suddenly asked Head Steward Lu a question, "Little Seventh, what is your impression of that youth, Yan Liqiang?"
"This youth appears to be upright and honorable, he is definitely not a treacherous individual. In addition to that, the way he treats people is wise and earnest for his age and is very adaptable. Not only that but he has also passed the Horse Stance stage and possesses a strength that is beyond the measure of ordinary people. From this point alone, no youths aged fourteen to eighteen in the manor can be compared to him. In my opinion, it is unlikely for this boy to be just an average individual in the future, however…"
The hand that Old Master Lu was holding the teacup with jerked slightly. "What is it?"
"This boy claims that Liuhe Town within Qinghe County is his hometown and that he has been living with his father. However, from what I have seen today, if this boy has really been staying in his hometown over these years, he would have gained a great reputation there since long ago from the skills he had displayed to us today instead of being a nobody. Huanglong County and Qinghe County are neighbors and the Lu Clan has constantly kept an eye out for talented youths among their neighbors. Yet we have never heard of his name, so I find that a little odd!"
"You think that he is lying?"
"Or perhaps he is in some circumstances that we don’t know about!"
Old Master Lu swept the teacup’s cover over the teacup twice. "Well then, I suppose we’ll know once we send someone to ask around in Huanglong County tomorrow. Try to get more details about Yan Liqiang’s background. I’ll leave this to you, Little Seventh, I’d be worried if this was left in the hands of someone else!"
"Understood. Rest assured, Old Master, I will definitely see this to the end!" After finishing his sentence, Head Steward Lu lifted his head to look at Old Master Lu and asked, "Out of curiosity, why is Old Master so interested in this youth?"
Old Master Lu’s face broke into a smile. "What do you think about Yan Liqiang and Bei’er being together?"
"Ninth Lady..." An astonished look appeared on Head Steward Lu’s face. He was seemingly unprepared for Old Master Lu to suddenly jump so far ahead in his thoughts. The Ninth Lady, Bei’er, was the Old Master’s most beloved daughter whom he had sired at his late age. She was the one he had doted on the most. Head Steward Lu was stunned for a moment but soon recovered. "But Ninth Lady is already nineteen years old, whereas Yan Liqiang is only fourteen years old. This age gap is…"
"The year before the last, I had Grandma Steel Beak from the county town perform a divination on Bei’er’s marriage. Her response to me was that Bei’er, who is born in the year of Xin You  is matched to a man who is born in the year of Bing Chen , and that they would be a match made in heaven. A marriage of love will be the most auspicious match. Yan Liqiang is fourteen years old this year, and it just so happens that he is born in the year of Bing Chen so he will be most suitable for Bei’er. Putting aside his achievements in the future, he has a very generous and kind heart and isn’t someone who is fickle, ungrateful and treacherous. He will certainly be a good marriage candidate for Bei’er. Even if he can’t achieve much in the future, I can still be at ease because Bei’er definitely won’t be suffering if she is with him…" Speaking up to this point, Old Master Lu paused before he continued resolutely, "Even if Bei’er is a little older, I don’t see any issues with that since she is the daughter to the Lu Clan..."
Yan Liqiang had no idea, that apart from saving a life during his trip to the Lu Residence, he had also gained the ‘approval’ of Old Master Lu...
"Yan Liqiang told me that Qian Su is his uncle. I’ll find a time to have a good chat with Qian Su during his next visit to the Drunken Fragrance Inn…"
"Not you. It would be too obvious if you were to go. Let Peien go instead. He frequents the Drunken Fragrance Inn so it would be normal for him to run into Qian Su without appearing too deliberate…"
By the time Yan Liqiang got off the Lu Clan’s lavish private carriage at the Weaponsmiths Quarter, he and Lu Wenbin had pretty much become great friends despite their age gap. From Lu Wenbin, Yan Liqiang had come to know more about the Lu Clan and had gained a whole new understanding of them. He was already made well aware of the important figures within the Lu Clan and the connections between them instead of being clueless as before and only relying on hearsay.
Yan Liqiang got off the carriage with the chest full of gold bars and Steward Lu also got off the carriage to bid Yan Liqiang farewell.
This two-wheeled horse carriage was fine if used for short journeys, however, one would start to feel uncomfortable as time went by. On such a bumpy road, regardless of how well decorated the carriage was or how many cushions were in it, it would still be uncomfortable to ride in. It was even worse than a bullock cart. Due to the slow speed of a bullock cart, the shakiness wasn’t that bad compared to a galloping horse carriage.
"Oh right, Steward Lu. Why doesn’t the Old Master get himself a four-wheeled carriage for outings? With the Lu Clan’s financial resources, he can surely get a four-wheeled carriage for himself with just a word. It will be really a lot more comfortable…" Yan Liqiang casually asked Steward Lu when they were bidding farewell to each other, since he had grown closer to him by now.
"Haha, where can you find a four-wheeled horse carriage…?" Steward Lu was laughing loudly as he shook his head. It was as though he had just heard something hilarious. "How is it possible for someone as bright as Young Master Yan to be confused about this kind of thing? If a horse carriage has four wheels, how would it be possible for it to turn?!"
"Turn? What’s so hard about it? Isn’t it just…" Yan Liqiang froze abruptly as he spoke because he understood why there were no four-wheeled horse carriages in this era. Among all the carriages that he had seen, their wheels were affixed to the frame. This made it easy for two affixed wheels to change direction, but very difficult to turn if there were four wheels.
He was so used to seeing four-wheeled vehicles in his past life that he had always thought of it as nothing out of the ordinary. Yet he didn’t expect that two-wheeled carriages with affixed wheels would be taken for granted in this world.
"Young Master Yan, do you have any other issues?" Steward Lu asked when he saw Yan Liqiang standing in a daze.
"Oh. No. Nothing else!" Yan Liqiang snapped out of his trace immediately. "Thank you for sending me off, Steward Lu. Please return safely!"
"Alright, I shall take my leave then!"
After Steward Lu and the guards from Lu Clan leave, Yan Liqiang shook his head and then self-deprecatingly laughed before making his way towards the entrance of the Weaponsmiths Quarter.
Upon taking a few steps, Yan Liqiang’s expression soon turned into a frown. All of a sudden, his heart swelled with an intense sensation, it made him feel like he was being secretly watched by someone.
The main entrance of the Weaponsmiths Quarter faced the main road. The sky had already darkened and the road was nearly deserted. On either side of the main road were patches of corn fields. The corn that filled the fields reached the height of a human. There was a hill not too far away that was surrounded by a eucalyptus forest. Due to the darkness, everything in the distance was hazy, rendering Yan Liqiang incapable of determining where the peeping gaze was coming from.
Regardless, the feeling of being secretly watched by someone was definitely an extremely uncomfortable one. Yan Liqiang felt as though he was being preyed on by a ferocious viper, one that was seemingly ready to pounce on him at a moment's notice. It also seemed to be eager in trying to do so, which caused the hair at the back of Yan Liqiang's neck to stand up.
The intensity of this abrupt sense of crisis made Yan Liqiang’s heart race. Even his palms were slightly sweaty and his throat a bit parched. But he didn’t look around, instead, he swallowed hard and continued to walk at a steady pace towards the entrance of Weaponsmiths Quarter that was about twenty meters away.
The soldiers who were guarding the Weaponsmiths Quarter greeted Yan Liqiang warmly upon seeing his return. Yan Liqiang also returned the gesture with a smile.
Yan Liqiang waited until he stepped into the main entrance of the Weaponsmiths Quarter, then proceeded to walk straight for a distance before stepping onto a path inside of the Weaponsmiths Quarter. It was only then that he could feel the restlessness that was just there moments before had now vanished as if it had been suddenly cut off...