Read Story: SEASON 1 EPISODE 550
“I like this place.”
Zhang Heng turned to the middleman who brought him to the house and asked, “How much is the rent?”
“The rent is really not that high. It only costs two strings of coins a month.”
The middleman scratched his head. Seemingly, he was reluctant to elaborate.
Zhang Heng walked around the house with a lantern, not paying too much attention to the brooding expressions of the middleman behind.
“When can I sign the contract? It’s a bit late now. Uh, I might have something to do tomorrow. How about early in the morning? Can the owners come and meet me here really early?” asked Zhang Heng. “No, no, no, there’s no need for all that trouble. The owner happens to be living right next door! My lord, if you have made up your mind, I can call her over now.”
“She stays so close to this house?”
Zhang Heng was a little astonished. When he thought about it, he slowly rationalized the whole thing. The family’s mansion appeared relatively large, and it was customary to rent out a part of it to make some extra money. As it happened, the wall on his left looked rather new. However, Zhang Heng did not think much about it. “Sorry for the trouble,” he nodded.
After a while, the middleman brought the landlord to meet Zhang Heng.
Before the two arrived at the door, the middleman’s voice could be heard.
“I’m doing you a huge favor now… I have found you a generous tenant. He didn’t even frown when I told him that the rent is two strings of coins every month. Now, you must not drive away another potential tenant. Otherwise, no one in this area will dare to rent your house in the future!”
Another voice snorted coldly, “What kind of tenant are you introducing this time? The man asking to rent my place previously had his hands all over me. I had to teach him a lesson.”
The middleman rolled his eyes when he heard what she said. “That is what a man likes! That guy drank too much and he simply wanted to take advantage of you. There was no need for such a fuss.”
“How is this a fuss? Just talking about it pisses me off! I ran into three samurai warriors from the Changzhou Domain at the market today. They drew their katana in the street and was about to bully the two children! But the worst part was that no men dared to stop them…”
The woman’s voice sounded uncannily familiar. After noticing that she was talking about what happened at the market earlier, Zhang Heng immediately knew who she was. She was none other than the female warrior named Akane Koyama, the one who defeated Yamada with a wooden katana. Zhang Heng wasn’t expecting to meet her again so soon after they parted ways. Now, it so happened that he was about to rent her house.
As they were talking, the two had already walked into the courtyard, and Zhang Heng’s sole opportunity to make an escape vanished. The moment they saw each other, the atmosphere became extremely awkward.
“It’s you?!” Akane Koyama raised her eyebrows. Just when she was going to say something else, something important appeared to have crossed her mind, abruptly swallowing the words about to escape her mouth. On the other hand, the middleman was proud to seal the deal, “Well, as soon as I saw this man, I knew he was destined for great things! If he becomes famous in the future, maybe your little courtyard will be recorded in history!” “How is that even possible? Let’s find some clean clothes to wear first,” replied Akane Koyama with a distinct irritation in her voice. The way Zhang Heng dressed right now was far from the generous tenant that the middleman mentioned to her earlier. Akane Koyama even suspected that he might not be able to pay the rent.
Zhang Heng could understand Akane Koyama’s concern, but he did not expect that she mentioned nothing about raising the rent. With a straight face, she said, “Since you will be living with me, you must abide by my rules. First of all, it is strictly forbidden to destroy the plants and trees here. Secondly, you are forbidden to drink and get drunk here. If you want to drink, there’s always a restaurant for that. Finally, the most important thing is not to be like the three Changzhou samurai warriors today. They use their martial arts to do evil and terrorize our residents…” she paused, “…well, disregard the last rule. You look like haven’t learned any martial arts before. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have just stood there and not help the girls.”
Zhang Heng was speechless.
“If there are no other questions, let’s enter the house and sign the contract.” Akane Koyama urged.
Zhang Heng considered the deal for a while, and he was fine with the rules she stated. They were all very reasonable, and although previous residents had been violently driven away by Akane Koyama, he wasn’t too concerned. He realized that he was too choosy when it came to picking a house to rent. It wasn’t like he didn’t walk around the area for some time, and he had also seen a few houses. Nevertheless, he was no interested in renting any of them. If he carried on searching, he might just find nothing better, so he decided to settle for this one.
Thus, Zhang Heng and Akane Koyama quickly signed the lease contract. He had already exchanged the koban with silver and copper coins, and once the contract was signed, he immediately paid off the middleman and the rent.
Akane Koyama, the owner, was a little surprised to see him take out the money.
“I didn’t have much money at that time. I earned these after that,” explained Zhang Heng and the two whose mouths were ajar.
“You earned this money?” Koyama Akane looked suspicious. “Is Kyoto a good place to earn easy money now? How did you make such a large amount in such a short time?”
“I’ve traveled to various western countries and I have a good understanding of their languages, so I just got myself a job as a translator.”
“You can understand Western languages? Well, your Japanese is a bit weird…is it because you have been in Western countries for too long?” Akane Koyama asked suddenly. She instantly saw Zhang Heng in a different light. During that time, it was unimaginable to leave home and travel thousands of miles to the west, and those who did make it abroad already had the idea of finding a way out of Japan for a long time.
This made Akane Koyama change the way she looked at Zhang Heng. She thought for a while and said, “I live in the dojo next door. If you want to practice with the sword, you can find me there.”
Zhang Heng thanked her politely. He had finally found a house for rent that he liked. After that, Ayane Koyama and the middleman left together. Zhang Heng could not do any cooking since there was no time to buy ingredients, so he settled for nearby a roadside food stall to ease the hunger. When he returned to the house, he did a simple wash-up, lay on the stack, and listened to the sound of the wind swaying the branches outside. This was how he spent his first night here.
Since he accepted a koban from Gabriel, Zhang Heng decided to take up the responsibility and rushed to the tea house between the piers early the next morning. However, by the time Gabriel woke up, it was noon. When he arrived at the tea house, he seemed relieved when he saw Zhang Heng.
Last night, Gabriel was worried that Zhang Heng might not stick to the plan after taking the money. After all, certain patriots of Japan were trained to assassinate westerners a long time ago, thinking it would help them defend home and the country. Fortunately, such crimes had dropped drastically in recent years.
Gabriel squeezed a smile on his face and said, “What we need to do today is very relaxing. Let’s have a taste of Kyoto cuisine first. After that, we will go and watch sumo wrestling. In the evening, the local merchants will hold a banquet for us. I’ll just go there by myself. That’s what you need to for the day. How does that sound? Easy money, right?”
Zhang Heng did not comment about it. He knew that Gabriel’s choice to act alone was intended. He had something conspired up his sleeve. His activities today were only a cover-up, but Zhang Heng did not expose him. Just as Gabriel said, at least the money that he earned today was easy money.