Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
The wealthy merchant was at a loss for words. He had heard of the Lotus Escort, but was unaware of the extent of power they possessed. This matter made him realize clearly that if the Lotus Escort wished to eradicate his family, then it would be as simple as flipping over a palm for them. Thinking back to the events which were recounted, his mind was in a state of confusion.
At this moment, third brother Zhao said, “Big brother, there is no need to despair. Since those two good-for-nothings have already returned safely, and even compensated the victims, this matter will be not be raised to the attention of the Piaomiao sect. After all it is not a very big matter. However, big brother, you must remember to never look for trouble from these people, or if anyone from Piaomiao catches a wind of your actions…”
Those words were like holy words which drummed the ears of the wealthy merchant, and carved into his heart. He replied, “I understand, third brother, I only can’t wait to send them five thousand silvers right now. Men, get these two young masters back into the rooms and watch them closely. Do not permit them to leave the house in these three months.”
“No, do not ground them immediately,” Third brother Zhao interrupted the wealth merchant’s order. “Do not allow them to apply any ointment, just keep their faces swollen like this, and it would be even better to spank them a few more times with a wooden pad so they will not be able to walk normally. Then, let them go to the wine house that they frequent, and send men to spread rumors that you have severely punished them for assaulting those two village girls.”
The wealthy merchant was overjoyed when he heard the advice, and he gave a thumb up, saying, “Third brother, what a great plan. Men, give those two beasts a good thrashing.”
Those two pitiable short fat men had no idea why receiving an additional beating would be a good idea, but they had no choice, and thus could only curse their third uncle vehemently in their hearts.
After finishing up the matters at hand, third brother Zhao turned to Zhao Quansheng, saying, “Quansheng-ah, you have handled the matter very well today, I am very pleased. When we return, I will put in a good word for you in front of sect master Shitu.”
Hearing so, Zhao Quansheng was elated as he replied, “This is due to you providing me with excellent direction every day, Quansheng is willing to be the saddle of your horse for victory.”
The wealthy merchant also added, “Quansheng ah, this is all thanks to you. I will have to show my appreciation properly. Men, bring me a thousand silvers.”
Zhao Quansheng replied, “Please do not stand on the ceremony. The reason why I went out was to protect the young masters anyway.”
Hallmaster Zhao said, “Just take it, it is well deserved. If not for you, this matter would not be settled with a few thousand silvers.”
Zhao Quansheng then courteously received the checks and put them in his breast.
At this moment, Hallmaster Zhao spoke again, “Quansheng ah, quickly send word to sect master Shitu that Piaomiao sect has their people appearing in Lu town, although we do not know the reason for their presence.”
Zhao Quansheng accepted the orders and left the wealthy merchant’s house immediately. Not long later, he walked into a remote house and in another short while, the windows of that house opened and a pigeon carrier flew out into the sky.
The pigeon can fly pretty fast, but it flew until the sky turned dark before it reached a secluded village. As it swooped down from the air, it flew directly towards the east of the village. That was part of a humongous community, and although the surrounding fence was not too high, there were many houses scattered along the walls. These houses were constructed in the same style, being not too high with gray walls and gray rooftop. The pigeon flew into one of these houses, and upon entering the house, was uncertain of which room to enter.
Just as it landed on the window sill making its “coo coo” sounds, a well-dressed man walked out from a room and with quick steps, reached the window sill. When the pigeon saw this man, it “coo” and flew onto his arm. The man retrieved a small pipe from the pigeon’s leg, and then caressed the pigeon’s back before taking out some snacks and scattered them onto the table. Seeing the snacks, the pigeon flapped it wings towards the table and started pecking furiously. The man then took the small pipe and went out of the house.
When he walked out of the house and passed by several alleys, he finally reached the center of the community where a slightly larger house was situated. Knocking carefully on the door of the larger house, he heard a hoarse cough from inside before a severe voice saying, “Enter.”
The man carefully opened the door and walked into the house. The windows in the house were opened, and the oil lamps were not lit up; a slightly skinny figure was leaning out from the window, his hands on his back as looked at the scenery outside. The first man bowed before saying respectfully, “Hallmaster Shitu, Hallmaster Zhao has sent over some news.”
The figure grunted and said, “What kind of news must be passed on so urgently on New Year day? Quickly turn the lights on.”
The man lit the oil lamps, while Hallmaster Shitu turned around. The man respectfully presented the pipe which the Hallmaster Shitu casually took, and rolled out the piece of paper inside, moving closer to the light, and upon reading the contents, he wrinkled his brows muttering, “… Why would they come to such a remote town?” Then, he burnt the piece of paper and threw a glance towards the other man, saying, “Leave.”
The other man bowed respectfully before dispensing himself, leaving the hallmaster to sit by the oil lamp in solitude.
Hallmaster Shitu knew that this piece of news had to be made known to his own sect master, but he was unaware of the whereabouts of the latter, because just last night, the sect master has informed him of her absence today to deal with an important matter. When he tried to find the sect master earlier this morning, he discovered that the sect master had already left.
Just as the Hallmaster Shitu tried to guess his sect master’s possible whereabouts, the strong-willed, stubborn elder sister of his was respectfully following a brocaded-robed young man, whispering in a low voice “Gentleman Ma, this is the highest mountain peak of our Lu town, named Shiren peak, the reason being that there exists a stone which looks like a person. If we were to hasten our speed, we would be able to reach the mountains within a half incense worth of time. However, I am not clear on the location that gentleman wishes to go, so I am unable to provide a specific estimated time of arrival.”
Gentleman Ma turned his head and flashed his horse whip, and said in a warm voice, “Sect master Shitu, you do not have to be so careful around me. The sect master Wang has recommended you as a guide, and I have never treated you as an outsider ever since. After I have finished my task, you shall be rewarded. As for which part of the mountain I am heading towards, I will let you know after we enter the mountains.”
As Shitu Ping received the gaze of the gentleman with skin as smooth as jade and high thick brows, she lowered her head wordlessly. She knew in her heart that this gentleman Ma comes from a prestigious background, and despite her success using her feminine guiles on Wujian sect’s Wang Hong, since this is her first meeting with gentleman Ma, and the trip so far has been uneventful, how would she dare to attempt the same act? Instead, she planned to keep her mind clear and carefully proceed for this mission.
Thus, both people ride onward in the twilight.
On the other side of the mountain, Wen Wenhai and his junior sister was riding at full speed towards the same mountain peak.
Seeing that they are approaching the peak, Wen Wenhai slowly kept his reins and slowed the horse, before looking back at his junior sister saying, “Junior sister, the mountain in front of our eyes is our final destination. What say we grab a bite first and rest for a moment before entering the mountain fully recharged to cope with any situation, since there may be an impending tough battle ahead?”
The junior sister nodded and the couple got off their horses, took out some dry rations and started eating. After they finished their meal, they drank a bit of water, and the junior sister worryingly asked, “Senior brother, since you said that this mission was of paramount importance, why did master not make his way personally here, or at least send one of the outstanding senior disciples instead of us? His decisions are truly befuddling.”
Wen Wenhai took another gulp of water, looked at the surroundings and said in a low voice, “Senior sister, our master surely has his reasons for doing what he does. Before we left, he did inform me not to raise the attention of other sects, and the reason why he sent the second generation disciples was precisely to avoid any unwanted attention. Furthermore, an elder will be taking charge of us, and we will only know more when the time is ripe. This is a good opportunity for us to receive the praise of our master without risking our lives.”
The junior sister said, “I initially thought that this place would be secluded and highly dangerous, but along our journey, I could see fresh mountain spring flowing from it and even though I have not entered the mountain, I could already tell that it is very majestic. It is such a pity that we are here in the night and are unable to enjoy the scenery.”
Wen Wenhai slapped his forehead, “Junior sister is actually thinking this way, I as a senior brother truly cannot compare. Is this the reason why my progress in martial arts is below yours?”
Junior sister did not answer, and the expression of her face under the veil was also hidden. Wen Wenhai asked again, “Junior sister, the sky has turned dark, why don’t you take off the veil. There will be no people around here.”
Junior sister continued to remain silent.
Wen Wenhai has already gotten used to his junior sister, and said to himself, “Okay then, it seems like the time has almost arrived. Let us take action now, and we should be able to reach at the predestined hour.”
As Shitu Ping accompanied the brocaded-robed gentleman Ma into the mountain, and when they reached before a particular mountain, gentleman Ma stopped his horse and got off, while the sect master followed suit. Gentleman Ma said, “Sect master Shitu, do you know the direction of the five claw peak?”
The sect master Ping replied, “Of course I do, Five claw peak is the five smaller mountains beside Shiren peak. It received its name because it is shaped like a monkey’s curved fingers. There is no direct road to it, sound we cannot bring the horses in. We can only climb through these mountains to reach your destination.”
Hearing so, gentleman Ma smiled and let go off his reins, allowing the horse to gallop along a small road by itself to look for dried grass. Shitu Ping also released her hose, and it followed gentleman Ma’s horse as it seemed to have grown close to it.
Gentleman Ma said, “Then I must trouble sect master Shitu to show me the way.”
Shitu Ping did not stand on the ceremony and started to head towards the mountain peak while displaying her qinggong.
As Shitu Ping raised the qi in her dantian, she sped continuously for two incense stick worth of time, while slowly feeling her qi run out, and when it was insufficient, she slowed her pace and from behind she hear the gentle voice of gentleman Ma, “Sect master, the time is still early. Since we have been rushing overnight, shall we temporarily slow our space and recover our strength? What do you think?”
Sect master Ping heard his unhurried voice which was not the least breathless, and without needing to turn around, she could imagine gentleman Ma behind her back striding casually, thus realizing that the reputations of those prestigious sects were well deserved. Then, she replied, “Thanks gentleman for his consideration.” Then she halted and walked over to a small trail in a relaxed pace. Gentleman Ma hurriedly flew from behind until he was beside her shoulder, and asked as he paced her, “Has sect master Shitu ever come to this five claw peak?”
Shitu Ping replied, “I have done so in autumn. The mountain air here is fresh so we would often come here to seclude ourselves in training. Five claw peak has the sweetest mountain spring, so we would sometimes spend the night there.”
Gentleman Ma nodded, and followed up with another question, “Then does this five claw peak have any unusual spots?”
Shitu Ping inquired, “Gentleman has come here before? How would you know that five claw peak have strange places?”
Gentleman Ma smiled, “If I ever did come before, why would I need sect master Shitu to lead the way?”
Shitu Ping replied, “I was slightly surprised, please do not blame me for my ignorance. Speaking of this five claw peak, its scenery is not much different from Shiren peak, and its spring water is indeed much sweeter than the other mountains. However, the strange area is at the middle finger of the five claw peak. Half of the mountain has jujube trees, and its total area is frighteningly large. While other people have ever ventured in there before, not many of the mountain inhabitants at Shiren peak would dare to enter that forest. According to them, there are vicious man-eating beasts inhabiting the forest, and the people who previously went inside to pick jujubes all never came back, so very few would be brave enough to enter. Last year, I brought a group of our fellow sect disciples. To navigate inside, we let a wolfdog in but it never came back out. Hence, we did not dare to enter too deep and only searched around at the outer perimeters.”
Shitu Ping did not withhold any inside information as she shared her story with gentleman Ma, who was obviously pleased as he replied, “It is great that Shitu knows where the place is. In a short while, I may have to request your help in leading us there.”
Shitu Ping was startled, “Us? Gentleman Ma, are there more people coming?”
Gentleman Ma smiled as he said, “Naturally there will be other people. However, we will have to head towards the first peak of five claw peak to wait for their arrival. If Shitu has rested enough, then we should continue on our journey.”
Shitu Ping replied, “Sure gentleman Ma, follow me.”