Dafeng's Night Squad - Chapter 18
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
The core principle of poetry was the usage of level and oblique tones.
As long as the same principle applied, Xu Qian’s nine years of education from the future would give him an edge.
Xu Xinnian glanced at Xu Qian and raised his chin. “A bird in the sky, a worm on the ground, the bird swooped down, the worm flew up.”
Xu Lingyue covered her mouth as she giggled. Xu Qian glared at her and she looked down, her cheeks pink.
‘I want to punch him for spitting such poison…’ Xu Qian gritted his teeth. The poem was written by the host when he was ten years old. That year, his aunt’s father had come to teach the children the basics of literature.
The topic of poetry was touched upon and thus the ridiculous poem was born.
Li Ru said mockingly, “Ningyan, not that I want to look down on you but the Xu family only birthed one scholar and that is Little Nian. You and your uncle’s penmanship can be equated to a squiggly worm. You want to craft a poem when you can’t produce a legible writing?”
She pursed her lips and rolled her eyes as a noblewoman would.
Xu Pingzhi coughed awkwardly. “Ningyan, let’s not interfere with the scholar’s affairs. Today is an off day, let’s train in the courtyard.”
His words were a discouragement to Xu Qian, effectively telling him to stay out of the scholar’s business lest he embarrassed his uncle.
Xu Qian said nonchalantly, “Thousand miles of yellow clouds darken the day.”
His aunt rolled her eyes and ate her porridge.
His uncle wiped away the stains on his youngest daughter’s lips.
Xu Xinnian frowned. A single sentence was not poetry but he was surprised Xu Qian could come up with such a proper seven-character sentence1.
“The north wind stirs the geese and snow.”
The line evoked a strong imagery in Xu Xinnian’s mind. He was stunned.
Xu Lingyue raised her head. Her soulful eyes were transfixed on her cousin.
Xu Qian picked up his bowl of porridge and kept his lips sealed.
“What’s the continuation?” Xu Xinnian asked. This was akin to a storyteller stopping at the climax of the story, a cliffhanger for everyone at the teahouse. Tune in for the next episode to know more.
It was incredibly frustrating.
“I don’t know how to compose poems.” Xu Qian threw a fleeting look at his aunt. She was a dignified woman with no intentions of apologizing.
Li Ru’s animated eyes widened as she turned to Xu Xinnian and asked, “Is the poem good?”
Xu Lingyue replied softly, “It has an artistic flair to it.”
She had limited access to education but she could tell the poem was superb.
Xu Pingzhi was surprised by his children’s responses. He turned to look at Xu Qian with a glint of hope and expectation in his eye.
Xu Qian chewed on his breadstick and effortlessly recited the last two lines of the poem. “Fear not a journey of loneliness, for you are not a stranger to the realm.”
The chopsticks in Xu Xinnian’s hand fell onto the table.
He repeated the lines and felt himself being enchanted by the poem’s meaning.
Xu Lingyue shuddered as goosebumps appeared on the back of her hand.
Xu Pingzhi bit his lip and said, “Man, the poem gave me the chills.”
Li Ru was in concordance with her husband but a part of her still disapproved of Xu Qian.
Poetry could elicit a reaction even in those outside the craft. One did not need to know about the level and oblique tones to appreciate the beauty of a poem that had been passed on for centuries.
Xu Qian understood their wonderment as he was once similarly taken aback by the rich poetry that filled his language textbook.
“Thousand miles of yellow clouds darken the day. The north wind stirs the geese and snow. Fear not a journey of loneliness, for you are not a stranger to the realm.”
Xu Xinnian rose from his seat as a red blush colored his cheeks. The color made the handsome young man look charming.
The poem was exceptional!
Although poetry was not his strong suit, as a scholar, one was inclined to drink and wax poetic with other scholars. Good poetry would get them hammering a beat and rhythm as they sang passionately.
“Wh-When did you learn to compose poems?” Xu Xinnian stared at Xu Qian with bright, curious eyes.
Xu Qian chuckled and said, “I never said I couldn’t. The poem from ten years ago cannot represent my skills today. I’ve always had talent for poetry but I never showcased it.”
“So Ningyan was scholar material. If I had known, I would have sent you to study and Cijiu to martial arts lessons,” Xu Pingzhi said with a grin.
His wife was unhappy with the situation but could not think of any smart retorts.
‘No, if that had happened, none of us would have succeeded in life.’ Xu Qian knew the host was a horrible student who would rather do hard labor.
Xu Xinnian also had no talent for martial arts. He was a delicate and frail boy who would not be able to handle the strenuous physical training that occasionally even involved weapons.
“Well, Ningyan wrote this poem. Cijiu, I’m sure you’ll come up with your own. Copying is not a scholar’s way,” Xu Pingzhi said.
Xu Xinnian let out a huff, annoyed that his father thought he would plagiarize. He turned to Xu Qian and said, “Can I borrow your poem? I will name you as the poet.”
‘More like the plagiarizer.’ Xu Qian nodded. “Go on, show it off.”
A scholar’s work had to be witnessed and acknowledged by others.
Xu Qian had intended for Xu Xinnian to use the poem to impress the Confucian elder. He cared not about who gets the writing credits.
Xu Qian was not a scholar so the poem was not useful to him. It was also why he did not use his literature knowledge for the past month.
His working environment was not suited for poetry.
He spent his day with a bunch of sword-wielding, gun-toting constables. Reciting poems to them was useless, he might as well teach them to sing ‘The Lasso Boy’.
“The title of the poem?” Xu Xinnian asked.
Xu Qian froze. He had forgotten the title. “This poem is from my heart and has no name. Just speak it as such.”
When breakfast was over, Xu Xinnian came out from the backyard with his father’s favorite horse and rushed off for the farewell. Uncle and nephew engaged in sparring in the courtyard.
“Good. Your moves have improved. The next step would be Qi training. Qi requires the heavens and earth to interact for its birth.” Xu Pingzhi took the towel offered by the servant and wiped his sweat. “Besides a herbal bath, you’ll have to find someone with seventh-rank divinity to open Heaven’s Gate. Else, you will never be able to unlock your Qi.”
Divinity was the seventh rank in the path of a martial artist.
Xu Qian wiped his forehead and asked, “Uncle, what are you saying?”
“After the Battle of Shanhai Pass, my sacrifice and merit earned me a favor from the army’s expert who opened the Heaven’s Gate, allowing me to enter the realm of Qi. A year after the battle, I had Xinnian,” Xu Pingzhi sighed. “The world today is peaceful, hence there’ll be less chance for you to prove your worth. How will you achieve Qi training? Will you not marry and build a family? Ningyan, I’m getting old. My only wish is to see you married with children, only then will I be able to face your late father.”
“One step at a time, uncle,” Xu Qian replied half-heartedly.
Other than earning merit and proving his worth, money was also a viable option.
The herbs and the expert could be bought with money.
The imperial courts had strict control over the numbers of martial artists as they could use their skills for crime. The laws dictate the seventh-ranked divinity experts were not allowed to open the Heaven’s Gate for any random person. They had to report to the courts even if they were doing it for their son.
However, the moral fabric of Dafeng was thin at that time. Corruption was rampant among the officials and the imperial courts’ power wanes with each passing day. While no one dared to break the law in broad daylight, several experts offered their services in the black market.
Xu Qian just had to make enough money—the silvers would be equivalent to a meritorious deed.
Otherwise, he would forever be stuck in the refinement state while his penis wilted away.
His aunt brought her daughters over. They stood under the roof of the corridor. “The sun is out today, why don’t you take Lingyin and Lingyue out to the markets?”
Xu Pingzhi frowned. “I have something on.”
“Isn’t today a rest day?”
“I’m meeting some colleagues soon. How about Ningyan take them out?”
The daughters of families with a literary reputation were closely guarded and not allowed to roam as they pleased.
The Xu family was a martial arts family, therefore the sisters’ upbringing was not as strict.
Xu Qian turned around and met the clear and bright eyes of his teenage cousin. Appearance-wise, Xu Lingyue had surpassed her mother and more. She chewed her lip and looked away shyly.
He nodded and said, “I have nothing on anyways.”
‘I once brought a 16-year-old girl out shopping in my previous life. I was in my prime at the age of 18. Of course, the girl in my memories is not comparable to Xu Lingyue.’