Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
When Shitu Liang entered the main hall, there were already three people discussing intensely while hallmaster Zhao was sitting quietly in his original seat, sipping some tea.
Shitu Liang’s footsteps made the three pause their discussion. The three men exchanged glances, and the grey hair elderly continued to sit in his chair while the other two stood up. Of the two, one was of medium build and looked like a highly capable man, while the other was slightly taller, looked clean and neat and seemed like a forty to fifty year old wealthy man. The two walked up to Shitu Liang to welcome the latter, and the three men exchanged greetings. Shitu Liang asked, “Hallmaster Zhang, hallmaster Xing, how was your New Year?”
The wealthy-looking middle aged man replied, “Not bad, I spent my New Year with my family so it was quite meaningful. However, Xing Mou could not enjoy myself fully because I heard that hallmaster Shitu was alone in the sect.”
Shitu liang waved his hands and replied, “I am a lonely bachelor, wont it be the same wherever I go? I can’t possibly ask our brothers who are married to spend the New Year with me. I have also heard that brother Zhang has gotten himself a young wife just last year.”
The capable looking man blushed and urgently said, “Hallmaster Shitu has wronged me. Zhang Mou am only a normal person who will succumb to the temptations, unlike hallmaster Shitu who has cut off all worldly desires like an immortal.”
Upon hearing his words, Shitu Liang frowned and said, “Brother-ah, have you taken me for a monk? I am still actively looking for a partner.”
When the two men heard his response, they replied, “Okay, we shall wait for that day.”
While the three men were partaking in idle talk, elder Chu who was waiting aside became impatient and coughed lightly. Upon hearing the cough, Shitu Liang hurriedly went over and paid his respect, and waited for the former’s approval before he sat down.
Even before he was fully seated, the impatient elder Chu asked, “Little Liang, has there been any news of Ping’er?”
This elder Chu was the sect’s old man, he has watched Shitu Ping and Shitu Liang grown up. On usual days, he would address the latter two by their titles sect master and hallmaster. However on that day, he was evidently anxious as he chose to call them by the way he used to in the past.
Shitu Liang felt warmth in his heart and he quickly replied, “Elder Chu, nothing bad has happened to my elder cousin. She is just unable to return to the sect for now.”
Elder Chu continued to ask, “Then what is going on right now? Sect master has always handles matters with decorum, something big must have happened for her to be missing while unaccounted for. When I asked old Zhao, he refused to say anything until you come out, so the two of you should stop beating about the bush and tell me what you know quickly.”
Shitu Liang nodded and took out the letter from his breast, before standing up and passing it to elder Chu.
Elder Chu received the letter and read it carefully while frowning. After he was done, hallmaster Xing and Zhang took turns to read the letter.
Elder Chu was the first to speak up. He asked, “Little Liang, is this letter real?”
Shitu Liang nodded and said, “This is indeed elder cousin’s handwriting, and the timing matches, so the letter should be genuine.”
Hallmaster Zhang then continued, “But why would thousand swords peak recruit our sect master to be a disciple of theirs? Sect master has already passed the age that is most suitable for learning martial arts, and now that she is under thousand swords peak, how can we raise our heads in the future?”
Hallmaster Xing also said, “And the most suspicious part is when our sect master authorize the disciples of thousand swords peak to be her proxy, what is the meaning of that?”
Shitu Liang replied, “If our sect master has become a disciple of thousand swords peak, then we would naturally become a branch of theirs. By rights, this should be a matter of joy for the fierce tiger sect, otherwise, we would not be able to get such an opportunity even if we pray every day. If our sect master is unable to return immediately, then it may be because she is currently learning some profound martial technique.”
Elder Chu wrinkled his brows and said, “We are but a fly to the thousand swords peak, what would they see in us? Why would they even send a few disciples to take over us? I don’t think we are worthy of that much attention.”
Hallmaster Zhao pondered for a while, and said, “There are too many dubious points in this matter. It will still be best if we wait for sect master to return and relay her orders personally. Otherwise, won’t we be taking the matter too lightly by allowing some random people to take over us with a letter?”
Shitu Liang smiled bitterly and asked, “Then what should we do? Do we even have the power to object if we refuse to endure this humiliation?” The word ‘endure’ was especially emphasized.
The others could not answer him. Indeed, what can they do? Any schemes or resistance could crumble in the face of indomitable power.
Seeing that everyone had turned silent, elder Chu asked, “Where are the thousand swords peak disciples?”
Shitu Liang replied, “We have arranged for them to rest. They should have eaten their dinner by now.”
Elder Chu said, “Then call them over so we can meet and discuss in greater in detail.”
Shitu Liang nodded and sent his men to invite Qu Xiangfeng and his men over.
Not long after, the seven men from thousand swords peak arrived in the main hall together.
The people from fierce tiger sect went forward to pay their respects, and after exchanging their greetings, everyone returned to their seats.
Elder Chu asked in a gentle tone, “Hero Qu, we are a rural and poor village from the hills and would thus lack comfort. Are you and your men adjusting well?”
Qu Xiangfeng quickly replied, “Elder Chu is too polite, we have traveled across Jianghu and are used to eating and living simply. Therefore, we have no problems adjusting to here.”
Elder Chu stroked his beard and said, “That is good to know.”
Then, he asked again, “Can Hero Qu explain in detail the current situation of our sect master?”
Qu Xiangfeng smiled and said, “Senior sister Shitu is fortunate to have caught the eye of our thousand swords peak’s elder Yun Feng, and have become his personal disciple. She is currently in training, and since elder Yun is one of the top experts in our sect, I believe that her martial skills should have improved by leaps and bounds. As for the more intricate details, I am not too sure of them myself, and it would be better for senior sister Shitu to come back and explain personally.”
His explanation was clear and detailed, so nobody had any further questions to ask.
Qu Xiangfeng saw that everyone was remaining silent so he continued, “My party and I are here because of our orders to take over the leading of the sect’s affairs, but I wonder how all of you are feeling about it?”
Even though the words were directed to everyone, Qu Xiangfeng maintained his gaze predominantly on elder Chu who was sitting down.
Elder Chu saw that Qu Xiangfeng’s gaze was upon him, and just as he was about to answer, someone cut his words.
“Hero Qu wants all of us to listen to your orders based on a letter, how can I be satisfied with the situation?”
Qu Xiangfeng turned his head and saw that it was hallmaster Xing who spoke. He asked, “Then what does hallmaster Xing suggest?”
Hallmaster Xing replied, “You have to at least overcome the obstacle that is me, and let me experience the famed sword techniques of the thousand swords peak.”
Elder Chu hurriedly tried to stopped him and said, “Hallmaster Xing, you are not allowed to be so rude.”
Qu Xiangfeng said, “There is no harm done. It is indeed very unfair for all of you to listen to our orders just because things turned out this way, I shall accept hallmaster Xing’s proposal to exchange some pointers so that he will submit to me willingly.”
Hallmaster Shitu quickly said, “Hero Qu, hallmaster Xing, we are all on the same side now, so let’s not go too far with a formal fight. Instead, we can just exchange a few strikes in the hall, and not spoil the friendliness between us, okay?”
Both men nodded in agreement.
Hallmaster Xing shouted to the men outside, “Bring my weapon over.”
Not long after, a person brought in a one point eight zhang* iron spear, which was hallmaster Xing’s weapon.
*TN note: one zhang is about 3.5m
Hallmaster Xing received the spear using one hand, and exerted some strength to thrust the spear repeatedly, causing a “Wu Wu” sound for each thrust, while the men in the fierce tiger sect all thought in their hearts “Even though this hallmaster Xing’s body is quite fat, he did not relax in his training and has made some improvements in these few days.”
however, the expressions of the men from thousand swords peak remained unchanged.
Qu Xiangfeng drew out a large blade from his back. While using one hand to carry his weapon as well, he walked to the center of the main hall.
When hallmaster Xuing saw Qu Xiangfeng’s actions, he became slightly wary of the later. While there are as many blade users in Jianghu as there are hair on a cow, only few would use a blade of this size. Furthermore, the blade did not seem light, and since Qu Xiangfeng is able to carry it in one hand, his arm strength must be unordinary.
While these thoughts were running though hallmaster Xing’s mind, Qu Xiangfeng said, “Hallmaster Xing, please go ahead.”
Hallmaster Xing did not pretend to be courteous and replied, “Okay hero Qu, watch out for my spear.”
After finishing his sentence, both his hands gripped on the spear and he jumped forward, aiming the spear at Qu Xiangfeng’s heart. Qu Xiangfeng was not anxious, he waited until the spear was approaching his body when he side-stepped and bent his waist, while using a single hand to swing the blade to parry the oncoming spear upwards.
In the flash of an eye, both spear and blade collided, and the loud metallic clash could be heard. Qu Xiangfeng’s blade recoiled from the spear, while the hallmaster was pushed back three steps before he regained his balance. By then, he saw Qu Xiangfeng’s blade already heading towards him while using the momentum of the previous clash. Hallmaster Xing had no time to adjust his stance and could only try to defend against the oncoming attack, and with another metallic sound, the sword recoiled again. However, Qu Xiangfeng did not make any attempt to continue his strike. He leisurely stood there and looked as his opponent stepped four steps back before falling onto the ground. This time, hallmaster Xing could no longer hold on to his weapon; it was thrown aside and after he stood up, he realized that his palms were already scrapped from the impact. His heart suddenly felt frightened “This skinny body contains an enormous hidden strength. Fortunately, we were only exchanging pointers, if this was a real fight, my life would definitely be forfeited.”
Seeing hallmaster Xing’s expression that was downcast like mud, Qu Xiangfeng cupped his fists and said “Good fight.”
Hallmaster Xing returned the gesture and said, “Your skills are truly admirable.”