Chapter 300 – A New Beginning
In a plaza, an old man in an old set of clothes stood before a square table on a tall platform, eloquently telling the story of how the founding emperor conquered the tribes of the west. While the passers-by all knew about this piece of history, he managed to tell it with cadence, so it was still enough to captivate the entire teahouse full of customers such that they even forgot to eat the snacks before them.
Sun Shuping was originally a scholar, but just like most other scholars, he failed to make a name for himself through studying. There was a saying that the most useless existence was a scholar. Once any hope of scholarly or official posts were lost, those who did well would become aides or private advisors, while those who did poorly would start up a private institution and serve as a teacher. Of course, there were people who ended up as beggars on the streets too.
He did neither well nor poorly. Because of his nimble tongue, he managed to study under an old storyteller, which allowed him to become a storyteller himself. Combined with the fact that he was literate and had read extensively, he surpassed his master in this area. Before he knew it, a few decades had already passed, and he had basically made a small name for himself.
A series of harsh bird cries rang out. Sun Shuping’s mouth did not stop, but he looked over with a frown. He saw a swollen man in silks enter the plaza with a birdcage. He pushed his way to the front boldly, sitting down right in front of the platform.
As if it were frightened, the bird’s caws were even sharper now, which garnered furious gazes from everyone. However, they also seemed to be afraid of the fatty’s authority, so they dared not say anything.
Sun Shuping could not help but stop. He smiled at the fatty. “Sir, you can’t bring birds into the plaza, so please hang your birdcage outside?”
The fatty rolled his eyes. “Hang it outside? Do you know how much my bird is worth? If I lose it, are you supposed to compensate me? You tell your stories, and it’ll caw by itself. Let’s see which one is more pleasant. Don’t worry, you won’t be missing out on any money from me at all. It’ll be much more than these penniless people.”
Sun Shuping’s frown grew even wider now. With a smack, he slapped the table. “To be continued! Be sure to not miss out!” He ended with this iconic phrase that never changed, leaving with an exaggerated swing of his arm.
Praises rang out in the plaza. Clearly, it was not just because of the story that he told, but also because of the quality of the storytelling. They tossed many copper coins onto the platform.
His disciple, Li’l Rock, scurried onto the platform, picking up the money while clasping his hands and bowing. He looked just like a little monkey, which led to a roar of laughter.
“Ouch!” Li’l Rock exclaimed and fell to the ground. His forehead began to bleed as a bloody silver coin fell down on the platform.
Sun Shuping helped up his disciple in a hurry and exclaimed while pointing at the fatty. “You!”
“Keep going. Tell me some more. I have plenty of money!” The fatty sneered as he tossed a handful of silver pieces up and down in his hand. “If I support you, then you’re something, but if I don’t, you’re just a damned storyteller. How dare you turn against me? Don’t you know who I am? I’ll pelt you to death with money.”
A golden streak of light flew up from below, striking the fatty’s head before bouncing onto the platform. It was a gold piece.
The fatty’s head had already become covered in blood. He had directly fainted.
“Mister Sun? Our boss invites you to meet him.” A burly man flashed somehow and arrived right in front of Sun Shuping.
Li’l Rock saw the gold piece and rushed over while holding his head. He picked up the gold piece and bit it. He cried out in joy. “Master, it’s real gold! And what a big piece it is!” His head no longer hurt anymore. He had never touched gold before in his entire life.
Children that grew up in the plaza were not particularly precious. Sun Shuping felt rather pained instead. Storytelling was a lowly trade. Anyone could curse them if they wished. He had been through plenty of that in the past, but he did not want this child to suffer his entire life with him. He made up his mind to make him change his future profession.
As he thought about these miscellaneous things, he arrived before a private room on the second floor. He lifted up the bamboo curtain and saw an old man in glowing health seated there. The clothes on him were not particularly fancy, but he could tell with a single glance that they were made out of the best, most comfortable material. He did not give off an air of arrogance either. However, just by sitting there calmly, he stood out.
With the insight he had developed over many years, he could tell that the “noble” before him was not a person who would come to a place like this to listen to stories. It was more likely that he was a cultivator, which made him even more afraid of disrespecting him. He bowed politely. “This junior is Sun Shuping. Thank you for your assistance, sir.”
Sun Fubai studied this storyteller who was renowned in the local region of a hundred kilometers. He nodded slightly. He was satisfied with him, which only affirmed Li Qingshan’s idea. Through this storyteller, stories could become much more vivid and fascinating no matter how ordinary they were!
“Brother, have you heard of the Cloudwisp association?”
“Well, now you have. This isn’t a place for us to speak. Come with me.” Sun Fubai directly stood up and made his way out the door. Li’l Rock just happened to be rubbing his head with one hand while holding the gold in the other, craning his neck in to peer around.
“But all I know is how to tell stories!” Sun Shuping was dumbfounded. He struggled to imagine just why a “noble” like him who casually tossed gold pieces at people, a legendary cultivator, would be looking for him, a storyteller.
“Then that’s more than enough.” Sun Fubai rubbed Li’l Rock’s head. “There’ll be plenty of gold.”
Li’l Rock immediately discovered that his head had stopped aching, and he had stopped bleeding too.
After leaving the Academy of the Hundred Schools, Sun Fubai immediately gathered the managers of the major publishing houses to give an announcement that they were recruiting people in the various cities and districts of the entire prefecture. At the same time, he personally visited the few most famous storytellers and bards within the prefecture.
According to Li Qingshan’s plan, the greatest use of these people were not as storytellers and bards, but as teachers. They could impart others with the experiences they had gathered throughout their lives, becoming the very core of the Cloudwisp association.
At the same time, in a corner of the prefecture, he had also found a manor to serve as the headquarters of the association. Propelled by absolute power and absolute wealth, the Cloudwisp association that Li Qingshan envisioned was established and built up rapidly. However, they were still uncertain about just when it could come into play and how great of an impact it could make.
As Sun Fubai ran around everywhere, Li Qingshan arrived on the school of Mohism’s Divine Mechanism island, ready for his first class in the academy.
He arrived below the huge, arched doors that were symbolic of the island. Hao Pingyang and Zhang Lanqing were waiting for him there. The island was covered in various strange machines and tall structures. A group of wooden horse puppets galloped past, filled with a strange sense of vitality.
They entered a majestic, spiral-shaped structure, which unfortunately seemed more like a turd in Li Qingshan’s eyes; inside, it also swirled upwards. They basically stopped at around the height of the second or third storey and entered the room in the centre of the swirls.
The circular room was like an upside down conch. Quite a lot of people were already sitting in the stepped seating area, discussing with one another in small groups. Apart from the mohist disciples in navy blue, there were also many disciples from other schools in uniforms of different colours and designs.
Li Qingshan’s bluish-green of bamboo was unique compared to all of them, but he did not stand out in the crowd. However, all Qi Practitioners were people with sharp senses, so when they glanced over, the topic of their conversations changed silently.
“Oh? Isn’t this the primary disciple of the school of Novels, Li Qingshan?”