Scheme of the Official Descendant Chapter 8- Part 1
Ren Family (1)
The Ren family started out by leasing coal mines and operating coal kilns, and settled in the province of Youzhou situated in Yanbei1 for generations.
During the decades when the sixteen prefectures of Yan were trampled by the Liao hordes,2 the family’s assets were scattered and the clan withered, but the Ren family did not leave the land to move South with the imperial court.
Later, the appointed fourth King3 of Yanbei, Xiao Qishan, did not disappoint the prestige of his ancestors and led a cadre of men to recover the sixteen prefectures of Youyan.4 He intercepted the Liao people outside the Jiajing Pass5 and returned the Yanbei region to the rule of the Da Zhou.
During that tumultuous time, the head of the Ren family, Bao Ming, took out the three gold bars his wife had hidden under the latrine compartment. Despite the opposition of his family,6 he ‘staked everything on one throw’7 and bought several barren hilltops in the Western Mountain outside Yunyang City in Youzhou.
Perhaps the Ren family was truly given a lucky break.8 The Western Mountain Ridge turned out to be a treasure trove for coal. The coal dug from the four or five hills bought by the Ren family were of particularly high quality. Although the annual output could not supply the entire Youzhou region, it could still be transported for sale to the cities around the prefecture.
The head of the Ren Family was extremely good at managing the business so it only
took a few years for the Ren family’s coal stacks to be opened all over Yanbei.
With such abundance of wealth that bordered on vulgarity, from then on the Ren Family flaunted itself as one of Yanbei’s aristocratic family.
Besides the Yanbei Wangfu,11 who was the imperial household and uncrowned king that had guarded Yanbei for generations, some of the families that had emerged included the old northern families who moved back after the war. Among them were the Yun Family and the Su Family, the latter of which became famous after following the Yanbei King to the Northern expedition, and later the Ren Family who produced wealth through all sorts of luck.
The old nobility and new aristocrats were at odds with each other. The nouveau riche families disliked the old prestigious families who were obviously poor and pedantic, but still had ‘eyes higher than the crown on their heads’.12 Likewise, the old prestigious families looked down on the upstarts for having shallow foundations and a lack of temperament that noble families should have. Both sides fought openly and maneuvered covertly, employing schemes that hindered each other.
It wasn’t until the King of Yanbei mediated to the Yun Family and Su Family, that the heads of the two faction began to reconcile and only then did the situation in Yanbei stabilize.
Although there were still occasional disputes between the two factions over the next few decades, the majority of the nobility were able to peacefully coexist under the strong pressure of the Yanbei Wangfu, and as a result, many have become in-laws.
The wife of Yonghe–the current head of the Ren Family, was born from Jizhou Prefecture’s prestigious Qiu Clan. Although Qiu-shi’s father was not of the ‘main line’,13 because the Qui Clan’s patriarch (the main branch head) was sonless so he adopted his nephew. Thus the patriarchal position eventually fell on this child. Therefore, the current Qiu Clan’s patriarch was actually Old Madam Ren’s ‘blood related’14 first brother. Qiu-shi also ‘straightened up her waist’15 in the family because of this layer of relationship. After all, even though the Ren Family could barely be included in Yanbei’s aristocratic houses due to chance, but compared to the Yun Family, Qiu Family, and the old prestigious families, in the end they still lacked a great deal of foundation.
The main residence of the Ren Family’s direct line was located in Baihe Town at the southern foot of the West Mountain, more than 90 miles away from Yunyang City. Even though Baihe Town couldn’t compare with Yunyang, the first city of Yanbei, this prosperous and thriving city was situated at the boundary of the North to South transportation route which had become a battle ground where soldiers constantly fought.
The Ren Family main estate occupied a wide area, with richly ornamented buildings, pavilions, and beautiful kiosk gardens16 that were no less impressive than the gardens in the southern capital.
It was said that this residence was once the ancestral home of a prestigious family. The residence was sold at a low price when its owners migrated with the imperial family to the South. It was purchased later by the then head of the Ren Family and they moved in after renovating it.
Ren Yaoqi has lived here since her birth. Before she left her family residence at the age of sixteen, she went out very rarely. During that time, the house was infested by worms and ants had breeded there. But now, a new roof tile has been added to the once old and decadent house. The walls had also been painted and the entire area was renovated sumptuously.
After she recovered from her illness, Ren Yaoqi stepped out of Ziwei Courtyard for the first time. She walked under the ‘Juiqui cloister’17 and finally had a moment to take a look at the family residence with a different mindset.
To be honest, her paternal great grandfather, the previous Ren Patriarch, had had some vision when he purchased the residence. Putting aside the exquisite and elaborate house, the ‘feng shui’18 of the whole estate prior to the renovation was actually excellent.
The Southeast was higher up than the Northwest, with the West Mountain at its back and the Xiaobai River at the front, coalescing to the “momentum of heaven and earth” sought after in feng shui. The long, undulating and winding West Mountain became the source of the residence’s “vital energy”, making the entire residence a place where wind and qi gathered.19
The pavilions were like clouds, with houses above and below in ‘picturesque disorder’,20 the main roads and paths conforming to the ‘eight points of the compass’. The head of the family’s main house and Ronghua Garden was located at the center, with its layout resembling the tai chi’s yin and yang fish diagram and the inner and outer courtyard formed a total of eight houses to form a Bagua appearance.21
If the land was good, then seedlings would flourish, and if the residence was lucky, then the people would prosper.
The person who built this residence must have been an unparalleled master of feng shui.
It was the kind of residence where even imperial descendants could live. Although the Ren Family could temporarily borrow its fortune but it won’t be able to suppress its noble qi for the longest time and might even be overwhelmed by its fortune instead, causing it to backfire.22
It was no wonder she’d heard people talk about the decline of the Ren Family and the change of ownership of the residence a few years after she left the family.
Back then, she was no longer interested in inquiring as to where the rest of the people who lived in this residence had gone to.
Eastern W. [Translator]
A witch with a broken broom who’s struggling to fill her empty cauldron and have too much love for reading and sour foods.
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- Yanbei (燕北): Northern Yan, a vassal state of Zhou.
- Liao (辽人): or Khitan hordes/people in armored horses.
- King (王) Not the western meaning but meant ‘Wang’, ruler of vassal state and denotes his imperial lineage. Usually, they are brother/s of the (previous) Emperor. I will be using this later.
- Youyan (幽燕): This is the border/remote region of Yan.
- Jiajing Pass (嘉靖关外): This is the pass that connects the North and East.
- T/N: The family here are the elderly members of the Ren Family at that time. Despite the fact that he is the patriarch, to disregard them would mean being labeled as unfilial. It’s a crime back then. The adage, desperate times call for desperate measures pretty much sums him up.
- To stake all on one throw (孤注一掷): (Idiom) Means to gamble everything.
- Lucky break (时来运转) originally an idiom, ‘the time comes, fortune turns’ which means things change for the better.
- One simply can’t tell how many (不知凡几): Countless cases.
- Sprung up like bamboo shoots (雨后春笋): (Idiom) Many new families that emerge in rapid succession.
- Wangfu (王府): Prince Mansion/Palace.
- Eyes higher than the crown on their heads (眼高于顶): Extremely arrogant and prideful.
- Main line (嫡枝): Son of the first wife; direct inheriting/first branch.
- Blood related (嫡亲-díqīn): Both of them are di-born. Born from the first wife.
- Straightened by her waist (挺直了腰杆): Be confident and bold.
- Kiok garden: Pertaining to a chinese garden.
- Juiqui cloister (九曲回廊): Nine Promenade winding corridor.
- Feng shui (风水): Geomancy.
Just like this:[collapse]
- In picturesque disorder (错落有致): (Idiom) Irregular arrangement with charming effect.
- The eight points of the compass (八方): All directions; pertaining to the Bagua.
Bagua design overview:[collapse]
- T/N: This is not a wuxia nor does it have supernatural elements (Well, aside from rebirth, that is). This is merely to comment on her beliefs in Feng Shui. You can often find this sort of design on imperial residences. The ‘qi’ that they are talking about are vital energy that also relates to fortune. So the ‘qi’ came from nature gathered by feng shui that brings luck to the house. This luck naturally transfers to the people that dwell on it. But too much luck/qi can also be harmful, and there is a belief that only imperial descent can suppress this overabundance of qi, or else that fortune will bite back and bring you bad luck instead.