Magic Sword, Sentimental Flower (幻劍情花) - Yun Zhongyue Nov 11, 2016 9:41:01 GMT
Post by JohnD on Nov 11, 2016 9:41:01 GMT
Chapter 3: Internal Strife
The word love is an enigma, the word fate is even more mysterious.
Zhuang Yiping didn’t think anything of his childhood playmate Wei Chunchun when he was young. Separated these ten years they had each grown up, Miss Wei was now a graceful and striking beauty, so it only stood to reason that he ought to fall in love with the girl he grew up with, especially since her affectionate actions showed clearly she was smitten with him.
But ever since little Yunfei’s rude behavior that time, he felt a strong prejudice against the Wei family which prevented him from thinking about getting close to Chunchun, it had set up a chasm between them he couldn’t cross over.
Young Master Gongsun and Zhuang Yiping were opposites, one look at Chunchun and he looked at her like a goddess, one look and he’d already made up his mind about feelings toward her and had settled on his strategy for winning her over.
Chunchun was extremely affectionate toward Yiping, her pretty face revealed the secrets of her heart and when Gongsun Yunchang saw this the Young Master of the Wulin really felt a strong dislike toward Yiping, murderous thoughts emerged.
Yiping was a feeling person, people’s expressions as well as the changes in their inner feelings were difficult to escape his attention.
He saw the murderous thoughts in Gongsun Yunchang’s eyes and he saw the continuous tender affection Chunchun had revealed to him.
Gongsun Yunchang stared at Yiping as the latter gradually faded away in the distance, then he turned to Wei Yunyi and asked with a forced smile, “Brother Yunyi, is that Brother Zhuang fellow a man of the wulin?”
Wei Yunyi laughed and said carelessly, “That’s hard to say. There hasn’t been many natural or man-made disasters in the Hunan region, the people are prosperous and the population is growing, so a lot of people are moving west to seek a living.
“Heading west along the Xiang River, over the river across the plains to Lingzhou, along the Li River in Guangxi down toward Guilin prefecture, even down toward the southern route the Qin army took in the old days toward Yuenan, far to the south business are cropping up. That region is a wild and untamed area, barbarian tribes abound everywhere and wild animals enter the cities and suburbs, if you don’t know any martial arts it’s difficult to defend yourself. Consequently, the villages in Hunan all have martial arts training schools.”
“Practicing self defense doesn’t count as being part of the wulin,” Gongsun Yunchang said proudly.
“Brother Yiping started out when he was six years old, his family’s training school has five master teachers, Southern Master Six Harmonies Long Fist is an orthodox school within the wulin. As far as what went on after he was abducted these past ten years, no one knows! Whether or not he stopped practicing martial arts during that time is unknown.”
“He has a robust and strong physique, such a pity appearances are better than reality.” Gongsun Yunchang wanted to tout his own prowess, “Practicing martial arts isn’t a simple matter, great teachers produce great students, how could a place like this where every village has its own school produce an above average fighter? Let alone……”
“Young Master Gongsun,” Chunchun interjected, “so you’re saying if this place were the home of the mighty Shaolin Monastery, there must be masters here, heroes all over the place? But a backwoods southern place like Hunan must have no one.”
“Haha, Miss, don’t be so sensitive,” Gongsun Yunchang laughed. “Uncle Wei is known as one of the Four Heroes of the Wulin, the Fourth Sword Sage Southern Mountain is renowned throughout the jianghu and is from a great family, not at all the same as the average person coming out of these local martial schools, for example you……”
“It’s getting late, we should head back,” Wei Yunyi broke in, trying to smooth things over. He could tell his sister didn’t think much of Gongsun Yunchang, if they kept on talking they would surely part on bad terms!
As dusk settled, visibility became limited.
As they walked the dim silhouette of Yiping rose up from the edge of the forest not too far off.
“Strange, what’s that arrogant playboy doing down here in Hunan?” Yiping mumbled to himself. “Huangfu Jun’s henchmen emerge on Zhurong Peak and this playboy is a guest here. Benefactor Wu Shiming has called on the heroes of the world to fight a bitter fight to the death with the evildoers of the world, Sword of Heaven and Earth Gongzun Zhou is a supporter of Benefactor Wu.
“Circumstances are not good, this playboy must have been sent to come lobby for Southern Mountain to leave the mountain and join up with Benefactor Wu to eliminate the villains, but was found out by Huangfu Jun and secretly followed. If Southern Mountain is really aroused by his sense of justice and resolutely assents to leave the mountain and join the alliance, I fear something bad will happen, Huangfu Jun would be the world’s stupidest *** if he doesn’t take the initiative to take the upper hand.
“Spirit Calling Envoy appeared on Zhurong Peak, but he didn’t leave because of Shifu, most likely it his target was Southern Mountain. This playboy is inviting trouble on the Wei family, I must think of a way to stop Uncle Wei from leaving the mountain, and avoid Huangfu Jun getting the advantage, I can’t let Huangfu Jun have an excuse to eliminate the Wei family.”
He retreated back into the forest and disappeared like a ghost.
Yan Maoqing was appointed by Grand Secretary Yan Song to be in charge of four salt commissions, this happened the year before last. Before that Huangfu Jun had already been following the villains for six years.
At that time that treacherous Yan’s official title was Censor of the Left, he often made inspection tours around the empire, always acting the tyrant, he’s known everywhere as one of the Four Great Evil Villains.
During this time, Wu Shiming was the leading figure among the heroes of the world, he tried many times to assassinate Yan Song, ambush him, plot his murder……but he was never successful. And Huangfu Jun’s henchmen routed the foolhardy heroes.
Ever since Yan Song took control of the salt commissions the conflicts intensified like wildfire, both sides went all out, but the bad guys won out, Benefactor Wu never held the advantage, and his accepted position as leader among his friends of the jianghu was already in a precarious state.
If Southern Mountain joined them, they might be able to come back from their inferior position.
The Four Heroes of the Wulin’s Eastern Divinity lived in seclusion on Penglai Divine Mountain, no one could find him, so he wasn’t likely to come back to the Central Plains to lend a hand to Benefactor Wu.
Western Daoist hadn’t shown his face among the jianghu in years, it was said he had penetrated deep into the western Kunlun mountains to practice his asceticism, no one knew when he would return to the Central Plains.
Their only hope of getting help against the villian Yan was Southern Mountain and Northern Mountain.
Sword of Heaven and Earth had sent his son Gongsun Yunchang to lobby Southern Mountain, that made sense. During the last surprise attack Benefactor Wu had suffered defeat. Sword of Heaven and Earth led a different group and they won victory, defeating many of Huangfu Jun’s henchmen.
Consequently, Sword of Heaven and Earth’s fame was already gradually surpassing Benefactor Wu’s, shockingly becoming the new leader of the jianghu.
Zhuang Yiping hoped he could stop Southern Mountain from leaving the mountain, at least put a halt to Gongsun Yunchang’s plan.
But he didn’t get a chance. The next day he received word that Southern Mountain has indeed been roused by his sense of justice and had agreed to help Sword of Heaven and Earth, he was duty-bound to help, and had already set about preparing for the journey.
Not long after noon, Yiping reached Mist and Rain Pavilion.
A moment later Chunchun and the Little Tyrant Wei Yunfei appeared on the little path.
Wei Yunfei was dressed even finer than before, wearing a blue satin tight jacket, on his belt he carried a dagger.
Chunchun hurried to Mist and Rain Pavilion and welcomed Yiping with a smile. She said happily, “Zhuang Gege, I brought my little brother here to apologize to you.”
Wei Yunfei strode arrogantly up to the pavilion, said angrily, “Sis, I didn’t say I would apologize to him, only if he can beat me in a round of fisticuffs.”
The little guy’s fists weren’t very big, he held them up, shaking them and curled his lip up at Yiping in a show of disdain.
Yiping didn’t wait for Chunchun to speak, but laughed, “Little brother, when I left home you were still running around in your baby pants, you have the nerve to have a go at me?”
“What do you mean ‘have the nerve?’” Wei Yunfei curled his lip in contempt. “Whoever has the hardest fists is the strongest, you know?”
“All right, all right,” Chunchun waved her hands unhappily. “Since you’re not going to apologize, you stubborn thing, I’m not looking after you. Go on back.”
“I’m not going back,” the little guy said resolutely.
“Big Brother Gongsun told me to go with you.”
“What?” Chunchun was surprised.
“He said it’s dangerous for you to go out alone.”
“What the hell! He sure is meddlesome.”
“Dad also said that an unmarried girl has to have someone accompany her when she goes out,” the little guy said with a strong sense of justice. He sat down on the pavilion railing and stared at Yiping.
Yiping sat on the stone bench and said to Chunchun, “Uncle’s worries are not without merit, having Little Brother with you is safer. Chunchun, I heard your father is getting ready for a trip?”
“Yes,” Chunchun said. She looked worried. “He’s going north with Young Master Gongsun, for what reason I don’t know.”
“Your elder brothers?”
“They’re not going.”
“Of course I’m not going. I’m really worried, Dad hasn’t worn a sword in so long, today he was personally sharpening it. I don’t know why, but this whole thing gives me the shivers, like some calamity is about to happen, this trip is not a good thing.”
“I know,” the little guy said. “He’s going to uphold justice and eliminate the villains. I heard Big Brother Gongsun say it. When I’m bigger I’m also going to go flaunt my strength with Big Brother Gongsun.”
“You watch your mouth, you’re too big for your britches, also arrogant and stubborn, so troublesome.” Chunchun glared at the little guy.
The little guy made a face at her, but he shut his mouth.
Yiping shook his head. “When is your father leaving?”
“Probably within three days.”
“Oh! So fast? These next few days your father ought to have more people out on the night watch and increased their vigilance,” he said without thinking.
“Zhuang Gege, why?” Chunchun said.
“Young Master Gongsun is famous among the jianghu, he’s made not a few enemies. It’s possible someone has followed him here to make trouble, and that could spread to your father’s house.”
“Oh go to hell!” the little guy cut in. “Big Brother Gongsun’s Heaven and Earth sword skill is not worse than my dad’s, who would dare come for him? Hmph!”
Yiping didn’t want to say more, the little guy wasn’t reliable, saying more would just cause trouble so he didn’t offer an explanation. With that kid here he had no interest in discussing family matters with Chunchun, so he made and excuse and took his leave.
Two days passed without incident.
In receiving his guest, Retired Scholar of Southern Mountain left his personal quarters and put his guest up in the big house. It was a huge residence, four rows of rooms with a courtyard plus a house for the tenant farmers, thirty houses in all.
Gongsun Yunchang was put up in the east wing of the front compound, a veranda led to the drawing room. The east wing had three rooms, the other two were empty, and with Gongsun Yunchang the only guest, there were only two servants.
Tomorrow was the day they would set off, so that night the host held a banquet in the southern compound.
The manor had only two old hired hands keeping watch at night and they were not vigilant.
The manor was constructed against the mountain, inside the courtyard were flowers and trees, outside there was a forest, anyone could easily get in from any direction.
to be continued...
Chapter 3: Internal Strife
Even though there were people on the night watch, they still wouldn’t be able to stop a skilled fighter from entering. The southern village and the northern fortress and stockade were different, there was no danger to guard against.
Due to Gongsun Yunchang’s youth, the seating position between host and guest was arranged differently. Not long after darkness set in the lanterns in the hall were raised and lit. There was only one table set up, and according to regulations men and women could not sit together, so only Wei Anren and his sons and the guest Gongsun Yunchang sat there, along with three stewards who helped manage the country estate.
At the head of the table Southern Mountain was already half a century old, though he didn’t look old at all except for his handsome three-tuft long beard and his sky blue loose-fitting gown.
He was a handsome man in his youth, he was once jokingly called Jade Pan An. Now, although he was fifty, he still had slanting eyebrows, a pale face and red lips, no wonder his sons and daughter were all attractive.
Their guest had already been there two days so they had already talked about what needed to be talked about, so at this banquet, after his three sons each had a drink with their guest, he smiled and said to Gongsun Yunchang, “Virtuous Nephew Gongsun, these three days I have discussed things with you but my sons and daughter don’t yet know the details. In order to prepare them mentally, tonight in the study I will inform them.
Right now they must all have their suspicions, and urgently want to know the meaning behind this urgent letter your father has sent to me encouraging me to leave the mountain. Nephew, why don’t you tell them about the turn events that’s taken place within the jianghu so that they will understand why I feel so strongly about going.”
Gongsun Yunchang smiled and stood up, raising his wine cup. “The letter my father gave me ordered me to go south and invite Uncle Wei to descend the mountain to uphold justice on behalf of the wulin and help eliminate evil……”
Within the courtyard there suddenly came a ghostly howl, ear-piercingly sharp to make the hair raise on the back of your neck, cutting off Gongsun Yunchang’s speech.
Retired Scholar of Southern Mountain was stunned, his face changed, he suddenly stood up.
His eldest son Wei Yunpeng had roamed the jianghu for several years with his father, he knew something was amiss, he threw down his cup and said, “We have an uninvited guest……”
“Ha ha ha ha……” The deep laugh shook the hall, then black silhouettes suddenly appeared at the doorway of the hall.
From the back door of the hall a could snort was heard, and three black-clothed people appeared blocking the door.
The people at the front was very fast, slipping past eight people like lightning and fanning out guarding three directions, eight long swords glittering brilliantly under the lanternlight.
A light cough, and then three people wearing dark blue entered.
Without waiting for anyone to react, the leader of the three spoke up quickly, “No rash moves! Whoever gets any bright ideas will have to face hidden weapon attacks from all directions, then will have to meet receive moves from me, Merciless Sword Soul-Snatcher.”
Gongsun Yunchang had already picked up a flagon of wine intending to throw it to catch them off guard, but not he set it back down.
The entire manor has already been sealed off by over a dozen top men, anyone who doesn’t know his ability and decides to charge out will be dealt with ruthlessly.”
Another person dressed as a filthy beggar said, “No exceptions for anyone, so I, Ghost Beggar Liao Du, advise you all to not overstep your bounds.”
Ghost Beggar Liao Du was one of the Six Freaks of the Jianghu, the same generation as Zhuang Yiping’s shifu Mystical Goblin Qiu Lei.
The first one with bright hawk eyes, the tall and thin one who had called himself Merciless Sword was a well-known master among the famous people of the White Way, the unfeeling one known as Merciless Sword Luo Guangqin, he was first among the Four Great Pugilists of the capital’s Baoding prefecture. He was also known as Northern Sword, you could say he was the main representative of swordplay in the north.
These past few years, Retired Scholar of Southern Mountain rarely went out. Although last year he had went to Wuchang, the capital of the Hu-Guang area to see friends, it was a quick trip and he had very little contact with other personages of the jianghu. But he had been taken unawares and he knew tonight did not look good for him, his opponent had come prepared and had complete control of the situation.
What made him most anxious though was the eight of them carried no weapons. His heart dropped, he knew trouble was imminent!
But he still thought he was in luck, Merciless Sword Luo Guangqin was a famed follower of the White Way, surely he wouldn’t be too heartless?
“Brother Luo, what’s the meaning of this?” Retired Scholar Southern Mountain said, furtively hiding a pair of bamboo chopsticks up his sleeve. “I’m in the south, you in the north, we rarely have the chance to meet, I considered us something like friends, so what’s the meaning of you bringing this bunch of men here in the dead of night to my humble abode?”
“He bore down on us menacingly, what good does he have in mind?” Gongsun Yunchang said, gritting his teeth. “He’s one of Yan Song’s henchmen, one of that villainous Mountain Uprooting Tripod Uplifting Huangfu’s faithful lap dogs.”
Merciless Sword laughed maliciously, said gravely, “Young Master Gongsun, go on and curse me, just wait a bit and you’ll know how I deal with those who are foolhardy enough to curse me.”
“Sir, did you come here for Young Master Gongsun?” Retired Scholar Southern Mountain asked.
“No, I came for you.” Merciless Sword laughed sardonically.
“Mountain Uprooting Tripod Lifting Huangfu Jun is interested in me?”
“Wei Anren, you must know in your heart my purpose for coming here, there’s no need to waste a lot of time talking.” Merciless Sword’s face turned severe, “You’re known as one of the Four Heroes of the Wulin who considers himself benevolent and righteous, you’re not a cowardly petty man who fears for his life.”
“You’re too kind.”
“I have something to ask you.”
“Yes, you would do well too listen closely. Did you or did you not agree to leave the mountain and help Sword of Heaven and Earth Gongsun Zhou rebel and murder government officials?”
“I agreed to Brother Gongsun’s request to go and meet with Brother Benefactor Wu, whether or not it’s too kill officials and revolt is too early to say.” Retired Scholar of Southern Mountain answered frankly because he figured denying it was already no use, plus he didn’t intend to deny it.
“Are you aware that Benefactor Wu and Mountain Uprooting Tripod Lifting Huangfu Jun are sworn enemies? Do you know my position?”
“I’ve heard it.”
“Then you must know the situation you’re in.”
Merciless Sword turned to Gongsun Yunchang, asked, “Young Master Gongsun, what did you offer Retired Scholar of Southern Mountain to get him to agree to go see Benefactor Wu?”
“Uncle Wei is an outstanding hero, he would never any profit, his reason for lifting his righteous sword in the name of justice is to root our the traitors and rid the country of villains, and he’d go through fire and water to do it.” Gongsun Yunchang’s voice was severe, “You’re also a hero of the White Way, you regard yourself as chivalrous, but have actually been blinded by lust for profit and have betrayed your friends and sold out your conscience to throw yourself into the role of subservience to give your all to treacherous villains, you’re three-tenths lower than a dog. Luo, do you think your swordplay is profound, really incredible?”
“My sword is Merciless……”
“Do you have the guts to try your sword on me in a fair fight to the death according to the rules of the wulin?”
Ghost Beggar Liao Du snorted and extended his dog-beating staff, laughing maliciously, “Everyone touts the rules of the wulin when seeking a fight, our matter here has no need for that. At the same time, you’re not fit to fight Brother Luo. Just wait, because of your status as Young Master I will give you the opportunity for a fair fight, but right now shut your mouth and let Brother Luo deal with this false reputationed Southern Mountain Wei here.”
“I’ll remember that. I have stated my intention clearly to seek a duel with you,” Gongsun Yunchang said loudly.
“I accept your challenge,” Ghost Beggar laughed.
Gongsun Yunchang clapped three times, said heavily, “These claps will serve to seal the deal, I’ll be waiting for you.”
Merciless Sword motioned for Ghost Beggar to withdraw, he sneered at Retired Scholar of Southern Mountain, “Wei Anren, I won’t be too hard on you, in light of our positions and past friendly relations, I will point the way to a brighter road, you mustn’t pass up this chance.”
“You want to talk terms?” Retired Scholar of Southern Mountain asked.
“There’s no terms to discuss, I want you to make known your attitude.”
“First, I want you to say in front of Little Gongsun here that you renounce your decision to leave the mountain and help Benefactor Wu. Second, you muse swear to me right here that you will withdraw from the jianghu and never again leave your manor, but will instead lock your doors to visitors and spend the rest of your days here in the country.”
For someone of Southern Mountain’s high status within the wulin these two conditions were more serious than taking his life. Merciless Sword’s prestige within the wulin was far inferior to Southern Mountain’s, to push him this hard would be unendurable for anyone with a little backbone.
“Can’t do it,” Retired Scholar of Southern Mountain point-blankly refused.
“Then don’t blame me for being cruel and merciless,” Merciless Sword said sternly.
“Sir, you think with these men you can compel me to just wait here helplessly for death?” Southern Mountain’s attitude became tougher.
“You think you still have a way out?”
“Do you have the guts to have a duel with me?”
“Sorry, I have a lot of work to do, where can I find the leisure time to waste with you?”
“Coward, strike.” Southern Mountain raged, his hand flipped out and upturned the table over, turning the large square table into a defensive wall, bowls and plates and cups and chopsticks all smashed to the floor.
The eight of them stood behind the table guarding the northwest corner, using the table to block hidden weapons, waiting for the enemy to charge and give them an opportunity to steal a weapon and break out of their encirclement.
“Ha ha ha ha……” Merciless Sword threw his head back and laughed wildly. “You all want to fight like cornered beasts? Don’t expect it to go as you hoped, Wei, I have two ways to deal with you, you must obediently bow your head and be captured. Come in!”
From outside the hall rushed in a large man, he bowed in greeting. “Your subordinate is at your service.”
“Go ask Brother Chase the Clouds to Catch the Moon Jin Cheng to bring in the Wei family prisoners.”
“Yes sir, your subordinate will pass on the message.” The large man saluted and withdrew.
Southern Mountain’s stomach dropped, he gnashed his teeth, “Luo, what are you planning? You……”
“Ha ha ha ha……” Merciless Sword laughed wildly.
“This method is most excellent for dealing with a stubborn inflexible one such as yourself,” Ghost Beggar said, immensely pleased.
“The other method is: in case you hold your wife and children to be outside your consideration and still refuse to surrender and be captured, I will seal off the dining hall and set it alight with my Merciless Fire, that would me wonderful, wouldn’t it?” Merciless Sword laughed wildly, very proud of himself.
Southern Mountain’s heart went cold, he knew he was finished. He yelled harshly, “You venomous dog!”
“Ha ha ha ha……” Merciless Sword threw his head back and laughed wildly.
If he waited for the prisoners something bad would happen! Southern Mountain clenched his teeth, raised his right hand and launched the pair of chopsticks he had hidden at the three men by the back door. At the same time he leapt up and used his blazingly fast body skill to pounce.
One of the estate stewards behind him happened to leap up at the same time.
The twelve year old Little Tyrant Wei Yunfei scurried out from the table like a little rat, shooting forth low to the ground.
to be continued...
Pan An was a Western Jin poet known for his good looks.
Chapter 3: Internal Strife
Three people jumping out to risk life and limb, saying it takes time but actually it happened very quickly, the whole thing lasting only a second.
Who knew that as the eight people inside the room prepared, the three in front of Merciless Sword already figured they would try to make a run for it, so at almost the same time eleven people raised their left hands and hidden weapons flew, splitting the air with sharp hair-raising whistles.
“Ah……” A wild cry lit out, coming from the men guarding the back door. Two of the three men dropped, their chests pierced like fish.
“Ugh……” Retired Scholar of Southern Mountain exclaimed, landing heavily as he came down from jumping over the table, slamming into the smashed bowls and plates and cups on the floor, coiling and twisting violently.
The estate steward didn’t get a chance to make a sound, he fell on the erect end of the table. The eldest son Wei Yunpeng pulled him down.
Little Yunfei crawled at the edge of the table, trying to retreat, but a barbed bolt from a sleeve shooter stuck into his left back, at his collarbone, it hurt so bad he quickly almost lost the strength to retreat.
The table was shot through with five of six various kinds of hidden weapons, the wall was even more littered with them, every one shot with shocking power, penetrating the black bricks two inches or more, it was clear each one was a malicious toy that could bust up anyone’s internal qi.
No one else ran out, they all hit behind the table.
But Retired Scholar of Southern Mountain couldn’t retreat, he lay on the broken shards of dinnerware fighting for his life.
“Ha ha ha ha……” Merciless Sword laughed wildly. When he was done laughing he exclaimed, “Who else wants to try?”
“I want to duel with Ghost Beggar,” Gongsun Yunchang called out from behind the table.
“Come on out,” Ghost Beggar said heavily.
“First throw me a sword.”
Ghost Beggar waved his hand and a man guarding outside the hall came in and handed him a sword.
“Clang!” The long sword clattered down in the middle of the hall, about six feet away from the table.
“Come out and pick up the sword,” Ghost Beggar called out.
Gongsun Yunchang straightened his back and stood up, he took a step away from the table.
The second eldest Yunyi grabbed Gongsun Yunchang and cried urgently, “Don’t go, they’re up to something.”
“If they sincerely want to give you the chance to duel they wouldn’t leave it so far away.” Wei Yunyi pulled Gongsun Yunchang back behind the table as he spoke.
“Ha ha ha ha! If you’re not coming out then can we tie you up now?” Merciless Sword yelled proudly. Being in complete control of the situation it was hard to avoid feeling satisfied with oneself.
Wei Yunpeng pushed away the already-dead estate steward, pulled out two white tiger nails from the vital points on the right side of his belly, raised them up and grit his teeth in anger, “Come on, two white tiger nails, there must be two filthy dogs want to join me in the city of death.”
“I’m already tired of waiting,” Merciless Sword said heavily. “Enter! Is Brother Jin here yet?”
A large man entered the hall, bowed and said, “The signal has already been given……”
“Dolt! Why don’t you send someone to go check?”
“Boss, after Group Leader Hu gave the signal he personally went to the inner courtyard to get them, but til now there’s been no activity.”
“Are they coming soon?”
“I don’t know, the lanterns in the main hall are extinguished, can’t see the situation beyond or if anyone is moving about.”
“Send someone quickly to urge them on……”
He hadn’t finished speaking when two guards from outside the hall fell flat on their backs, their cries were sudden, once they fell they didn’t move, like two chunks of dead wood.
“Eh!” Merciless Sword cried out. He had been facing outside so he saw everything clearly.
A large dark figure appeared outside the hall, standing in the doorway like a door-god.
A dark blue kerchief covered his brows, ink black frightening eye sockets, nose daubed with white powder, it was as if the person didn’t have a nose.
Gaping bloodthirsty mouth, crimson hairy cheeks, in his right hand he held a long sword, in his left a dark blue gown.
“No need to send someone to check,” the strange-looking uninvited guest said clearly. “Thirty two masters have been taken prisoner and eighteen aromatic tubes have changed owners. They drugged everyone in the house, I too sniffed a lot of the stuff. Seems like the only ones left are the thirteen people here.”
Two guards on either side didn’t say a word, but raised their left arms and electricity seemed to shoot out.
The strange guy shook his dark blue gown and the hidden weapons were caught up.
“How ever much scrap copper and iron you’ve got, best bring it all out now so you can save me the trouble.” The strange guy spoke, taking strides into the hall. “Second Brother Wei, take off your shirt to ward off the hidden weapons, but don’t move yet.”
Wei Yunyi suddenly snapped out of his daydream and hurriedly took off his clothes.
At the same time, he was confused, that monster seemed like a saving star, but why did he address him so intimately, who would call him Second Brother Wei?
Ghost Beggar was wily like a ghost, he figured his chance had come, he suddenly charged forward, his dog-beating staff flashing out like lightning, the hidden weapons from his left hand shooting out before him.
The strange guy didn’t use the gown to stop the hidden weapons, instead the sword in his right hand flicked up light and quick, ding! ding! two sharp sounds and two three-edged swallowtail augers were sent flying.
The long sword spun out, the sword’s light winking in a flash and then disappearing, soundless and motionlessly knocking the dog-beating staff to the side half a foot, then the ray of light flickered again.
Just like that Ghost Beggar’s lower jaw was split open.
“Agh……” Ghost Beggar cried out, quickly stepping back.
“Again, again, the next time I will take out your eyes,” the strange guy flashed his long sword as he spoke.
Everyone on the scene was shocked.
Ghost Beggar was one of the Six Freaks of the Jianghu, he was one of the few masters of the jianghu who really stood out from the rest. He used a long weapon as well as hidden weapons for support, to unexpectedly take a sword swipe to the face was really difficult to believe.
No one could make out clearly how the strange guy used his sword, he was too quick.
The flash of his sword was out of the ordinary, as if it had already known where the gap between Ghost Beggar and his staff would be and had wedged itself in there. It was as if it had forced Ghost Beggar to make a fatal gap and let the sword take control.
Merciless Sword was astonished, his face dropped and he raised his sword in a defensive posture. “You……Who are you? State your name.”
“What does it matter who I am?” the strange guy asked back.
“I am Merciless Sword Luo Guangqin……”
“A hired thug! Good-for-nothing wulin scum, what are you getting so high and mighty about?”
“You……” Merciless Sword stammered.
“Aren’t you called Merciless Sword?”
“Come on! I want to see just how merciless your sword is.”
Merciless Sword clenched his teeth, gave a loud shout, brandished his sword and charged forward, his sword thundering like a tempest and screaming like the growl of a dragon, using his internal energy to drive his sword, its force extending out eight feet in a dogged deathblow. His master stroke was known as “Heaven and Earth at Peace”, the move containing an attack at the upper and lower body, fast as lightning, unsurpassingly fierce, it was truly a killing blow.
Having been hit by three hidden weapons, Retired Scholar of Southern Mountain came to and was pulled back behind the table by his eldest son Wei Yunpeng who had seized the opportunity and used his shirt to ward off any possible hidden weapon attack to risk getting his father to safety.
Just at that moment he stuck his head out from behind the table to watch the strange guy.
The strange guy stood rock-solid, the gown in his left hand hanging limply at his side, the sword in his right hand brushing easily downward, the fierce attack “Heaven and Earth at Peace” dissipated like mist and smoke.
Strange was that Merciless Sword attacks quickly, yet he suddenly slowed.
“”Clang clang!” The two swords touched twice, sending out a burst of sparks.
The four corners of the hall were ablaze with lights, but it was still difficult to see the swift soaring paths of the swords.
Merciless Sword was knocked to the side a step, he retreated hastily in shock.
This outstanding master of swordplay was finally met with something strange and terrible, the way his opponent received his moves was different from normal swordplay conventions, he saw his foe’s level was really incredible.
The sharp point of his sword barely touched his own sword’s center of gravity, completely negating the force of his strike, to his such a mark so precisely was a rare feat, but the strange guy had done so easily.
“Again, after three moves I will counter.” The strange guy said coldly, “But if you throw that Meridian Broken Spirit Nail in your left hand, I’ll make you bleed out right here. Sir, your swordplay is more than fierce, but is not nimble enough. I’m sorry to say you will never have a chance against me!”
Merciless Sword’s sword hand trembled, his face blanched, he asked horrified, “You……What kind of sword……swordplay is that?”
“Heretical swordplay from the heterodox school,” the strange guy said.
“From whose school doe you hail?”
“Your strange force of your sword is exceedingly heterodox, your level pure and refined, you’re not young?”
“Trying to sound me out?”
“If you don’t come on, I will have to go on the offensive.” The strange guy took a stride forward.
“Can you take thirteen against one?” Merciless Sword fell back.
“One against twelve, Ghost Beggar is in enough pain to fly to heaven!” The strange guy pressed forward. “The thirty two men outside are all flat on their backs now, if I can’t handle you bunch of drybones, how could I dare show my face?”
“I’ve lost today,” Merciless Sword backed off. “We’ll meet again some day, you can’t run away, Commander Huangfu Jun will flay your skin.” Having said that, he jumped like a tiger to the back door.
“If you don’t leave behind the antidote to your Meridian Broken Spirit Nail,” the strange guy said, “then I can guarantee you won’t live to see the sun rise in the morning.”
If he could just get outside the door he would have a chance to slip away. But Merciless Sword was frozen cold, he didn’t dare flee for his life. From his hundred-treasure bag he took out a porcelain bottle and set it on the floor, then clenched his teeth and said, “If you have any courage you’ll say your name and rub the ink and powder from your face.”
“You wanna talk big? All right, if you want to see my real face there’s a condition, if you see my eye I will dig out your eye; if you see my mouth I will cut off your lips. Come here, tell me which part of me you want to see, I’m very generous, I’ll give you what you want.”
Was he serious? Merciless Sword didn’t want to find out, he made a secret signal and his men all filed out.
Another called out and Ghost Beggar, his lower jaw split open, also filed out of the hall.
“Don’t forget to take the other thirty two men with you,” the strange guy said. “They’re all laying in the main hall. Light a torch and you’ll see them. Can you release their acupoints on their heads? Don’t press too hard or they will become idiots.”
Merciless Sword grudgingly withdrew from the hall, staring the strange guy down as he did, then made his quick escape.
The strange guy then went to the door set a medicine bottle down. “This is the antidote to the knockout drugs, hurry and wake up your family.”
Yunyi called hastily, “Friend, please wait……”
The strange guy was gone in a flash, soundless and motionless like a ghost.
Yunyi ran to the door but there was no trace of him in the courtyard, the night wind whistled, chilly and quiet and lonely, there was no one around.
“Son, don’t go after him,” Retired Scholar of Southern Mountain called out weakly. “Come take out these Meridian Broken Spirit Nails for me, I can’t……I can’t bear……can’t bear……”
He fainted. Merciless Sword had thrown three Meridian Broken Spirit Nails, two had hit, one in the chest, and the other in his upper rib on the right side. Without the antidote, even if they hadn’t hit vital areas he wouldn’t be able to make it til noon.
Gongsun Yunchang stared blankly out hall where the strange guy had just exited, then finally he mumbled, “Who was……that person? His swordplay was unlike any I have seen, so frightening.
One of the estate stewards helping Little Yunfei up forced a smile, “You should say so lovely, because he was standing on our side.”
The entire manor was busy that night, the next day funeral arrangements were made because one of the estate stewards had been killed by a hidden weapon.
The master of the house was seriously injured, so the eldest son Yunpeng took charge of things.
After the investigation they learned the villains had scouted everything out and had a person planted inside to release the knockout gas.
Inside the compound, all the women and children had been hit by the knockout gas, no one was spared.
The lady of the house, Yunpeng’s wife Miss Ge, Miss Wei Chunchun, and her wet nurse Miss Zhang had all been bound hand and foot. It was fortunate that the strange guy had come when he did, taking out the six villains within the family quarters.
Because there was six kerchiefs on the floor it was clear they had been knocked off when the strange guy had hit their acupoints in the back of their heads, so they knew there had been at least six men there.
to be continued...
 A hundred-treasure bag is a bag, usually leather or sometimes cloth, used to keep one’s necessities for traveling.
Chapter 3: Internal Strife
The rest of the family was out of the loop after they had been rescued, they were all muddleheaded and laid down to rest for a while.
After activity within the household calmed they began to speculate who their savoir could have been.
The lady of the house was also a hero of the wulin, but she was a piously devout Buddhist.
She said it well, it was a savior sent by the Great Merciful Bodhisattva Guanyin, it wasn’t a person, how could a person knock out thirty two evil villains with such stealth?
Although Merciless Sword and Ghost Beggar were no match for Southern Mountain on their own, he didn’t think he could best them within fifty moves, yet the strange guy had injured Ghost Beggar with one stroke of his sword, and with one move had frightened Merciless Sword.
Taking the various swordmasters of the jianghu into account, whose skill was that good? If it wasn’t an envoy of Guanyin’s than what was it?
The Wei family began to take precautions to guard against the unforeseen.
Gongsun Yunchang also got ready to leave, of course he couldn’t pack off and leave while Retired Scholar of Southern Mountain was injured. On the morning of the third day he saw Southern Mountain and saw the latter was out of danger, so he took his leave.
Southern Mountain had his eldest son Yunpeng hire a boat for his guest, and said that after his wounds were healed he would pick a day to leave the mountain. He was very angry, he wouldn’t be cowed by brute force.
At his sickbed, Gongsun Yunchang didn’t have much he could say.
Yunpeng led their guest outside the hall, talking with him as they walked. “Brother Yunchang, take a boat to Wuchang, it should be safe, but you have to be careful, those villains won’t be put off that easily. I hired a boat for you in secret, it will leave in the early morning.”
“I’m sorry I brought so much trouble on your father,” Gongsun Yunchang said in low spirits. “Judging by the tone of your father’s voice, it seems like as soon as he is better he is going to go find Benefactor Wu and discuss his plan for revenge and go find and settle accounts with Merciless Sword.”
“That’s certainly his plan,” Wei Yunpeng sad indignantly. “Merciless Sword is just a lackey of Yan Song’s, yet he has the audacity to attack us, you can see how arrogant they are.”
“Brother Yunpeng, I have something to say, but I wonder if I should?”
“We’re friends, if you have something to say just say it.”
“The villains were defeated, but they won’t give up, they will stage a comeback, and when they do they won’t send such second-rate people like Merciless Sword. If your father and Benefactor Wu join hands and leaves you in charge of things here, will you be able to handle them when they come again in full force?”
“Uh……” Wei Yunpeng hesitated.
“Only with your father at home will those dastards have misgivings. If they know your father won’t dare leave home then he won’t be any threat to them and won’t attack him, and your household won’t be in danger.”
“That’s all up to Father to decide……”
“But your father isn’t likely to disregard your opinion, right?” Gongsun Yunchang said sincerely, “Your father was unfortunate to suffer injury, it’s natural for him to be angry, but you’re a sensible person, you can calmly assess the situation. To tell you the truth, this incident shocked me, that is to say I wouldn’t dare ask your father to leave the mountain. If something were to happen again it would be all my fault!”
Gongsun Yunchang’s analysis was reasonable, it made the inexperienced Wei Yunpeng’s hair stand on end, he couldn’t help nod and say, “I will explain all this to Father, but who can say whether he will give up his plan, he doesn’t change his mind easily.”
Gongsun Yunchang left the Wei family the following morning, and the Wei family finally resumed its former tranquility.
Little Yunfei left shoulderblade had been hit with an arrow, fortunately the bone had stopped it and there was no internal injury, he used some medicine on the wound and in one or two days was all right.
Seeing off Gongsun Yunchang the little guy pulled on his sister Chunchun’s hand, but he wasn’t heading back home, he was heading down the small path leading to the Zhuang manor.
“Where are you pulling me to?” Chunchun said suspiciously.
“To go find Zhuang Yiping,” Wei Yunfei said loudly.
“Find him? What for? We’re still busy at home……”
“Sis, don’t you find it strange?” he said, pulling her along.
“Find what strange? You’re talking nonsense, you’re up to something foolish, aren’t you?”
“Remember that day I went with you to Mist and Rain Pavilion to see him, he said we should add more people to the night watch and be on the alrert at night. Neither you nor I paid any attention, after we went back we forgot about it, but what do you know that night something happened. Sis, don’t you think that’s odd?”
“How did he know something was going to go down at our house?”
“He just got back from roaming the jianghu, he knows a lot of jianghu news……”
“Didn’t he come back at just the right time?” The little guy stared at her, eyebrows raised. “Who can guarantee he wasn’t sent ahead secretly by Merciless Sword?”
“Eh! Where do you think you’re going?” Chunchun said. “If he was sent by Merciless Sword, then why would he warn us first?”
“So I want to ask him, and he better give me a satisfactory answer,” the little guy said furiously.
“You have it out for him, I’m not going with you.” Chunchun stopped. “Based on the fact that he was kind enough to warn us I can guarantee he had nothing to do with it, you mustn’t be rude and offend him.”
“If you won’t go, I’m still going.”
The little guy took off, ignoring her shouts.
She was just about to go after him when she heard Second Brother Yunyi’s voice behind her, “Sister, hurry back, Dad is looking for you.”
She shook her head at the retreating figure of her little brother in the distance, then turned and went back home.
If she had went with him would would the subsequent problems have sprung up?
Experienced friends of the jianghu are especially vigilant against three kinds of people: foreigners, women, and children.
Children ought to be pure and innocent, lovable, guileless. Yet some have particular dispositions, are suffered from upbringing in bad environments, so that even though they still held some of their childishness, it but concealed their primeval unruliness, and it was fearful when it erupted, more violent than an adult, more ruthless and reckless, more impervious to reason.
This Little Tyrant Wei Yunfei, although he wasn’t all that bad a kid, but because he was the spoiled youngest child he had naturally grown wild and arrogant and overbearing and unreasonable, opinionated and judgmental, a detestable attitude that made others unable to put up with him.
His wound was still wrapped with a cloth so he couldn’t run fast, his mind was already ill at ease. It was not easy to find the Zhuang manor, though he bumped into several neighboring villagers.
These villagers feared the Little Tyrant as if he were a tiger, they carefully avoided him and gave way on the road, staring at him with that fearful and despising glares as he passed.
This time he was in an even worse mood, the flames of his fury more scorching.
Luckily, Zhuang Yiping just happened to be exiting the village with one of the manor’s longtime hired hands to go to the city to handle some affairs.
Zhuang Yiping saw the enraged Little Tyrant walking quickly toward him. He slowed his pace.
The hired hand was smart, he said in a low voice, “That’s the little beast who’s not been taught properly, he must be up to no good, Fourth Young Master, let’s steer clear of him.”
“No need to avoid him, that won’t solve anything.” Zhuang Yiping said calmly, “These past few days I’ve heard too many absurd stories about him, someone ought to teach him some manners for the Wei family, otherwise sooner or later he’s going to get himself into some real trouble. Just stand to the side, I’ll deal with him.”
“Fourth Young Master, you mustn’t,” the hired hand exhorted him. “That little bastard is strong as an ox, his martial arts is very solid, our martial instructors are all afraid of him, you won’t be able to reason with him. Look at him, like a ghost ready to devour someone, he’s definitely looking for trouble, maybe a goat from our village trampled some of their crops.”
“He’s come for me, you hurry on ahead, I’ll catch up to you.”
The hired hand shook his head, then left, taking a detour through the weeds.
Yiping stood with his hands behind his back, waiting for the Little Tyrant to approach.
The little guy came on arrogantly, thinking Yiping would step to the side according to circumstances, but he was entirely mistaken, Yiping just stood casually in the road waiting for him. His anger erupted like a volcano, once out it couldn’t be contained.
They met face to face, less than eight feet away from each other.
They stared at each other, for a while, it seemed neither wanted to be the first to break the impasse, like a pair of gamecocks.
The little guy glowered, insufferably arrogant.
Yiping watched him indifferently, silent, not moving.
“You did a good deed,” the little guy finally said, unable to contain himself. He clenched his teeth. “You can’t fool me.”
“Of course what I do are good deeds,” Yiping said sarcastically. “You’re really funny, what is a little kid doing handling family affairs? You’re the third brother of the Wei family, what rank do you think you hold with the Zhuang family?”
The little guy shook with anger, springing forward as if he was going to kick.
“Hold it!” Yiping shouted heavily, his voice like thunder, like a seismic wave shaking one’s liver.
His flash of anger was powerful, his tiger eyes flashed like divine lightning, his manner intimidating, like a deity guarding a pass.
The little guy was startled half to death, he stopped dead in his tracks.
“I’ll warn you,” Yiping said heavily. “You’re not a little kid anymore, from here on out you’re going to mind your place, you will behave yourself when in my presence, or else I’ll send you crying to mommy and daddy, you got it?”
This was the very first time the little guy had been lectured by someone, he was stupefied.
“Listen up,” Yiping said, softer. “Be reasonable, present your argument in a clear and methodical manner, if you want to fight you can throw down at anytime, I promise you it won’t do you any good.”
Yiping’s softer tone just raised the little guy’s cockiness, but because he was standing too close to kick, without thinking he threw a punch. His little fist was aiming for Yiping’s stomach, it was a quick and powerful strike, he didn’t seem to be bothered by his shoulder injury.
Yiping was big and tall, his arms were long, he reached out a hand and grabbed the little guy’s elbow and dug his ring finger into the tendon between his elbow joint.
The little guy felt an electric shock, his body shook, he struggled, affecting his wound, his body went limp and he cried out, “Let go, let……go……”
Yiping waved his hand and the little guy staggered back.
“Had enough?” Yiping said. “Next time I’ll pull out your tendon.”
END CHAPTER 3