Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
After searching the entire hall, everyone set their sights on the four silver boxes on the table and the flat box on the shelf. They were clear in their hearts that the purpose of the expedition was to obtain those treasures that were currently in front of them.
However, they still had some misgivings in their heart, because of how coincidental the situation turned out to be. They were four silver boxes, which was the same number of factions they represented. If one party had gone missing in the forest, would there be one less box on the table? After deliberating for a while, they felt that it was unlikely, because these boxes have been at the same position for at least three hundred years, why would they appear or disappear without any reason?
Sir Yanming continued his cautious streak; he did not choose to open the box immediately when he reached the table. Rather, he searched left and right, then took his dagger and knocked on the chairs, and even flicked the futons off, before pointing his dagger at the position of the boxes. Despite having not observed any movements, he was still unsettled and walked over to the wall on the right to pull off the three paintings, but he still could not discover any traps. Then, he walked up to the front of the table, and faced everyone “There do not seem to be any traps around. What do you guys think?”
The rest of the party had been following Sir Yanming’s lead throughout the expedition, and since entering the hall, they did not dare to move from their position. There was a well-known story in Jianghu, which turned into a myth in their generation, that there exist some formations experts who could set up traps with just some pieces of bamboos and stones. Add that to the fact that the whole jujube forest was a large scale formation, what is not to say that a formation expert has come to this area hundreds of years ago? They had been frightened since the beginning, and already chose to obey their elders’ instructions to follow Sir Yanming. Now that the latter had asked for their opinions, what else could they do? Thus, they nodded their heads in agreement.
Sir Yanming was pleased with their attitudes, and laughed “Jianghu is an unpredictable place, it is better to be cautious. Why don’t you all look around to find any other traps in this hall, if you were fated to encounter any benefits, then it shall be yours to keep.”
The rest of the party turned and looked at each other before scattering around the hall to search for clues. In their hearts, they had some suspicions; would this Sir Yanming have any selfish intentions? Would he switch the boxes? However, the hall was spacious enough for everyone’s actions to be visible, so they were not afraid of anyone making any sneak attempts. Perhaps this elder truly was concerned for the safety for the younger generation, and there was also no loss on their part to be more careful.
After seeing everyone returned from their investigation, Sir Yanming cleared his throat and said “Following our earlier agreement, each faction shall claim a box for themselves. Even though Shitu Ping belongs to the fierce tiger sect, but she can be counted as part of hero Ma’s team and not as a separate faction. Does assistant sect head Shitu have any objections to this?”
Shitu Ping replied calmly “I do not.”
Indeed, how would she dare to object, her life was saved by the rest just now.
Sir Yanming continued “Then, we shall follow the position of the map parchments, starting from left to right and top to bottom, each of us will take a box, and whatever we managed to obtain will be left to fate.” Saying which, he stood to the side of the table.
As per order, the first to take a box should have been Sir Yanming. Wen Wenhai deliberated, and then walked up front. He carefully observed the four identical boxes, and having spotted no differences and a layer of dust above, he pondered and then took the second box from the left. Just as he was about to open the box, Sir Yanming stopped him and said “There must be some treasures in the boxes. Since there are exactly four boxes, one for each person, everyone should take one box as a reward for their accomplishment. If the boxes contain different items, then we may not be able to avoid some conflict, so what do everyone say if we were to keep the contents of the boxes a mystery for now?”
Everyone nodded in approval, so Wen Wenhai kept the box in his breast and went back to his original position.
The next person was thousand swords peak’s Ma Xiangyang, followed by Sir Yanming, the last being Tan Wu who simply took up the last box. Nobody opened their box and kept them in their breast instead.
After the distribution, everyone’s sights landed on the flat box on the shelf.
Sir Yanming walked to the far end of the shelf to pick up the box, and felt it while a puzzled look spread across his face. From his observation, it felt as if the box was carved of stone, and the box was meant to store treasures, yet he could not guess why it was not on the table and left on the shelf instead.
Sir Yanming carried the box and walked over to the table, showing the box to everyone before placing it on the table and looking at everyone’s reactions. Then, he said “The only object left in the house is this box, but we cannot share it equally. Shall we use the method we discussed before, to play scissors paper stone to decide its owner?”
Everyone looked at each other, their hearts feeling surprised. As members of Jianghu, they were going to follow such a childish method to decide such an important matter. However, towards such a precious treasure, everyone will be willing to fight through their teeth, and who knows if the fisherman would gain in the fight between the clam and stork? Hence, they were not willing to take the risk to fight.
Just as everyone decided in their hearts to follow their previous agreement, Ma Xiangyang said to Sir Yanming “Elder, I have a suggestion.”
Sir Yanming looked surprised as he said “Hero Ma, please share it with us.”
Ma Xiangyang continued “I am agreeable with playing scissors paper stone to determine the owner, but I have a small request, which is for no matter whom to win to open the box for us to see its contents. What does everybody think of this proposal?”
Sir Yanming pondered, and nodded in acknowledgement. The other people were also feeling the same way in their hearts; while they could bring back their own silver box to check its contents, they may not be the eventual owner of the flat box, and thus would want to take a good look at whatever they were missing out on.
Then, Sir Yanming arranged the order for the people to play the fist game, and eventually, it followed the same order as when they chose their silver box, with Piaomiao and thousand swords peak playing together, and Sir Yanming and the Tan family in the second game.
Piaomiao’s sect Wen Wenhai glanced at Xue Qing and nodded towards her. An encouraging smile appeared on his face, but it was coupled with a tinge of embarrassment. Xue Qing then walked up to the side of the table, because she knew the reason for her senior brother’s embarrassment; he has lost every scissors paper stone game no matter who he was played with.
Thousand swords peak only had one representative, so Ma Xiangyang walked up and stood aside Xue Qing. Naturally, he was reluctant to let Shitu Ping play, and even if he was willing, Shitu Ping would not have dared to do so.
Seeing the two people walked forward, Sir Yanming said “The rules should be familiar to you all: Scissors beats paper, paper beats stone, and stone beats scissors. Before we begin, I will require the players to blindfold themselves, and wait for my count before they show their hand. Only after then will the player be allowed to take off his blindfold to check the results.”
In the first match between Xue Qing and Ma Xiangyang, they both threw out scissors, but in the second round, Xue Qing threw out scissors while Ma Xiangyang threw out paper. Thus, when Ma Xianyang took off his blindfold, a dejected expression formed over his face.
The match between Sir Yanming and Tan Wen only lasted a round, with Sir Yanming triumphing with stone.
The last match was also the most important game, and this time, sir Yanming was in deep though as the two players blindfolded themselves. On Ma Xiangyang’s count, they both threw out scissors in the first game. Seeing the tie, both players blindfolded themselves again, and when they realized that they tied with scissors again, Sir Yanming became frantic. In fact, Sir Yanming had his own ulterior motives when he chose the game; he had always been good in these types of guessing games that require outwitting the opponent. However, at this moment, he realized that his opponent was also an expert, and his heart grew even more frantic. Unfortunately, in the third round, he threw out paper while Xue Qing stuck with her choice and won the match.
Needless to say, Xue Qing was overjoyed, and as Wen Wenhai took the box to open, Sir Yanming stopped him and said “Hold on, just to be cautious, use your sword and open it from afar.” Wen Wenhai followed the elder’s advice and placed the box onto the table, before using his sword to pry it from afar. However, he was unable to find the lid of the box, and when he picked it up again, he realized that the box was sealed. He then tried to break it off using his strength, and everyone else tried after he failed. Sir Yanming even ignored the look of Wen Wenhai’s face as he used his dagger to stab the box, but the dagger did not even leave a mark.
It finally dawned on him why the previous occupant left the box aside at the far end of the shelf.
Then, Sir Yanming casually returned the box to Wen Wenhai who carefully put it into his breast.
Seeing that there was no more objects in the house, everyone’s thoughts returned to the medicinal fields outside. Sir Yanming led the party out, and said “We did not prepare sufficiently and hence are unable to transport all the herbs here. I suggest that we harvest the matured herbs now and split them into four portions, with each faction taking one portion, and as for the herb sprouts, we can leave them here while our factions re-discuss their distribution. What do you all think?”
No one had any objection, so under Sir Yanming’s direction, the medicinal fields were harvested one after another, and the herbs were then split into four portions and placed into four cloth bags for each of the faction.
Finally, Sir Yanming said “Since none of us had any fortunate encounter, we can only console ourselves with these herbs. Those herbs in the cloth bags are meant for our factions to use, whereas for now, we can each pick three mature herbs for ourselves.”
Saying which, Sir Yanming led the party to walk across the fields again, and because none were well-versed with medicine, they all picked out some stalks of the more renowned herbs like ginseng, Tianqi, et cetera.
After they were done, the sunlight appeared to fade slightly, which probably signaled that midday has passed. Everyone then thought of leaving this secret area, and since they took a long while to reach this place, wouldn’t it be dark by the time they finally leave? Sir Yanming smiled “To leave this place, we can casually choose a route and keep walking on in the same direction. However, from the sky, I estimate that night is coming soon so we should better leave immediately.”
Thus, everyone packed their belongings, and they then followed behind Sir Yanming and walked past the two jujube trees and left the secret area.
Unknown to the party, just as they left the secret area, a snake like beast head emerged from the hot spring lake and looked towards their direction, before submerging back into the water.