“There’s someone in the front!” The person who walked ahead of the procession relayed the news back.
Lin Yuan’s expression changed. They had no weapons so in order to improve safety he had people with small and skinny physiques walk ahead to act as scouts. Once they noticed something out of the ordinary then they must relay the news back.
But this was after all the first time they had done scouting work so they didn’t know how to relay the news, just giving a vague ‘There’s someone’. Not even a description of what the people looked like.
“Stop.” Lin Yuan ordered. Everyone stopped in their tracks, their faces looking confused, not knowing what had happened.
Jiang Gui ilwas also scared, he asked: “Fourth brother, what should we do now?”
“Let’s not panic.” Lin Yuan said, “wait for the news from the front.”
There were too many of them so it was impossible to hide. Retreating was also not possible with this many foodstuff, they would not be able to move quickly. Unless absolutely necessary, Lin Yuan was unwilling to abandon the foodstuff. It represented the lives of so many people that depended on it before next year’s harvest.
The front relayed news again.
“It’s a group of beggars.” Lin Yuan sighed in relief. A beggar’s physical strength was not even as strong as the people he just bought. At least they had days that weren’t filled with hunger before they had no choice but to sell themselves. But most beggars did not have many good days.
Very soon, they encountered the group of beggars.
A group of the elderly, sick and/or handicapped. They passed through the woods, eating anything they could get their hands on. Every one of them were stooped over and malnourished with no light in their eyes, as if the walking dead.
They saw the carts ladened with foodstuff and every one of them took on the resemblance of wolves, their eyes gleaming. The people surrounding the carts tensed in wariness, they knew the foodstuff was also the source of their survival. Winter was coming but so long as they followed their new master to his farmstead then they would be able to continue living on.
If these beggars stole away the foodstuff, injuring their new master, then they were basically finished.
But the group of beggars did not rashly rush forward, only standing a distance away staring as if statues unaffected by the outside surroundings.
Lin Yuan also did not move. Both sides stood in a deadlock with the trees and grass between them and the wind blowing by. It had a sense of a confrontation between two expert martial artists.
After an hour or so, Lin Yuan hollered, not wanting to waste anymore time: “Do you have a leader? Come out and talk!”
Only then did the beggars react. They seemed to discuss among themselves and after awhile a young man walked out.
Lin Yuan also went forward.
Jiang Gui tugged at Lin Yuan’s wrist: “Fourth brother, you…..”
LLin Yuan patted his shoulder in reassurance: “Third brother, don’t worry, I have my own considerations.”
The young man was dressed in rags but did not stoop his back. His skin was slightly dark and body sturdy. His face had some freckles and could not be considered handsome but neither was he bad-looking. He stopped in front of Lin Yuan: “This gongzi…..”(TN: Gongzi is used to refer to the son of an official or nobility in ancient times, but now it is used as a polite reference to someone’s son)
Lin Yuan interrupted: “My foodstuff has a limit and we are currently in a hurry to return. There is a limit to the foodstuff I can spare for you all.”
His meaning was that he was willing to use foodstuff in return for them to move out of the way but they could not be too greedy.
Lin Yuan’s side did not have any weapons and neither did he truly want to fight to the death with this group of beggars. He was unsure which side would win in the end.
Only thinking of the stock of foodstuff in the granary back home made him feel a little better for parting with some foodstuff now.
The young man was rather tactful, saying suddenly: “We are planning to head towards Jiangnan.”
Lin Yuan examined him again: “Why Jiangnan?”
The man smiled: “To try our luck.”
The recent years were full of drought, famine, and plague that resulted in many people abandoning their homes and with no way of getting by. Lin Yuan saw that the other had politeness, seeming as if he had recieved some education before, so he said: “Jiangnan is likely to have danger….”
He said it out of good intentions.
The young man: “The world now, is there even a place without danger?”
“I would like to ask Gongzi’s name.” The young man said.
Lin Yuan had his people carry over a bag of foodstuff. One bag was not a lot so he was able to afford giving it away.
“My surname is Lin, Lin Yuan.” Lin Yuan also asked, “brother, what is your name?”
The young man smiled, showing white teeth: “Zhu Baba.” (Literally it translates to Zhu Eight Eight but the surname Zhu sounds the same as the Chinese word pig and the number eight in Chinese sounds like the word for dad. So it sounds like he said Pig Daddy which is what Lin Yuan hears)
Lin Yuan: “……” Someone who named their son Pig Daddy actually existed in this world? Was this taking advantage of pigs or being taken advantage of by pigs?
The man also said: “You can also call me Zhu Zhongba.”
Lin Yuan’s knees weakened, suddening kneeling down.
Zhu Zhongba, dressed in beggar rags, saw the action as a result of Lin Yuan’s legs being weak from walking too much, but he still laughed: “Lin Gongzi, of what reason are you performing such courtesy on our first meeting?”
Lin Yuan: “……” If I say you are Zhu Yuanzhang, the founding emperor of Ming dynasty, would you believe it? (TN: the birth name of Zhu Yuanzhang, Ming’s founding emperor is Zhu Zhongba)
Would you believe it if I said that you will defeat Chen Youliang and other warlords winning the empire in the end?
Would you believe it if I said Empress Ma died and you executed all of the ministers who put you on the throne?
Ai, knowing too much could be painful sometimes.
Lin Yuan’s head was a bit jumbled up, but he still speedily weighed the pros and cons.
Zhu Yuanzhang arrived at the nearby Huang Jue temple to become a monk in the fourth year of emperor Yuan Shun’s reign. Only staying for a few weeks before being dispatched out. He wandered as an errant monk for four years returning in the eighth reign of Yuan Shun.
As a monk, he gained education and culture.
On his wanderings he increased his knowledge and exprience.
Because he married Ma shi so he entered the landowning class, having the capital to raise an army.
Lin Yuan thought for awhile but could not come up with anything, only saying: “Brother Zhu is physically strong and able-bodied, I am lacking in talents like you. If you like, you can come with us. I can’t guarantee on anything else but eating and drinking your fill will be guaranteed.”
How did it go…..if he could lend a hand then he would. He didn’t truly need to grasp the other’s thigh (TN: espression similar to riding on someone’s coattails).
Besides, Zhu Yuanzhang might not even agree, after all there was a group of beggars behind him. He was probably not someone who would abandon the beggars and seek survival on his own.
“Brother Lin actually has such a kind heart!” Zhu Zhongba’s eyes gleamed. It had been several days since he had ate fully. He might be young and strong but he could not win against the experienced beggars when it came to fighting for food. Zhu Zhongba, “Let’s go!”
Lin Yuan…..wait….what happened to loving the common people as if they were his children and only executing corrupt officials?
Love the common people as a father loves his children?
He wondered when Liu Futong would rebel, he only remembered such a person but not the time.
Neither did he remember the time Zhang Shicheng and Chen Youliang rebelled either.
In any case, take the steps one at a time.
Zhu Zhongba suddenly asked Lin Yuan: “Brother Lin?”
Lin Yuan pointed at the beggars behind him: “Then these people?”
Zhu Zhongba: “Strangers coming together by chance, meeting and separating are all fate.”
Lin Yuan: “….…”
Zhu Zhongba said quietly: “I haven’t eaten fully for a long time. Don’t look at their skinny frames, they are quite good at fighting for food.”
Lin Yuan had a complicated look in his eyes, he must have met a fake Zhu Yuanzhang.
Perhaps it was just a case of the same name?
TN: One of the more important supporting characters showing up! They will all be entering the scene soon, including ML.
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