Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
Encounter on the road
Even though it can be said that they were reaching Bao town, it was only after the sky turned pitch dark when they finally arrived. The carriage stopped in front of a carriage station and the bodyguard hopped off the shack. While the two Zhang brothers were feeling confused over the current situation, the other passengers also got off the carriage, and the young scholar, upon seeing the dazed looks on their faces, smiled as he said, “If you don’t get off the carriage, then are you planning to spend the night inside it?”
Zhang Xiaohua was shocked and he asked, “Wasn’t this a straight trip to Pingyang city? Why must we take a detour?”
The scholar smiled as he said, “Even if we do not need to rest, the horses need theirs. Otherwise, they would die of exhaustion even before reaching Pingyang city. Furthermore, travelling in the night is very dangerous, unless someone has an urgent and important reason, nobody will journey in the night. This “BiaoChi” carriage station has multiple branches in different towns, and they will follow a predetermined route and schedule. Thus, we will be resting here for tonight, so come down quickly.”
The two Zhang brothers finally understood and they secretly blamed teacher Liu and Liu Kai for not sharing this important tidbit causing them to be butt of other people’s jokes. When the two finally got off the carriage and into the rest stall, the other people had already taken the best positions and have ordered their dinner for that night. The two Zhang brothers were about to find their own seats when the scholar invited them to a corner. The two exchanged glances before they walked over and sat down, while the scholar poured them some water and said, “Many thanks to these two brothers for giving up your seat to me. What do you say if I treat the two of you to dinner tonight?”
Zhang Xiaohua waved his hands and said, “There is no need, we only gave up our seats. There is no need for any kind of repayment so let’s just eat what we order.”
Upon hearing the rejection, the scholar did not insist any further and he called the waiter over to order his selections.
The two Zhang brothers have never entered a restaurant before. Fortunately, teacher Liu has shared with them the proper decorum, so they ordered a few simple dishes and looked at the silvers they spent. Although the price was not too expensive, they could not help but feel hurt at their expenditure.
While they were waiting for the dishes to arrive, the scholar and the two Zhang brothers engaged in some casual talk. They learnt that the scholar’s name was Li Jinfeng, and was a student in one of the schools in Pingyang city. Zhang Xiaohua started asking about Piaomiao sect whose reputation Li Jinfeng has heard of, but he did not know where their location was. Seeing the disappointed expression on Zhang Xiaohua’s face, Li Jinfeng patted his chest and promised that he will find news on Piaomiao sect when they arrived in Pingyang city, and Zhang Xiaohua’s mood brightened considerably.
There were guestrooms and common sleeping rooms behind the carriage station which were not included in the carriage fees. After their meals, Zhang Xiaohua and Zhang Xiaohu naturally chose the cheapest common sleeping room and they did not notice the other passengers who presumably rented the cleaner guestrooms.
The beds in the common sleeping room were naturally not as clean, and there was an unpleasant odor from the bedsheets as well. However, Zhang Xiaohua was not nitpicky about these things, he was tired and fell asleep as soon as he lay on the bed, leaving Zhang Xiaohu who carefully kept their knapsacks before he lay down and sleep as well.
Near Pingyang city inside Piaomiao discussion hall.
Candles as thick as an infant’s arm lit the entire hall until it was as bright as day.
Ou Peng sat solemnly on his chair while the other five tigers of Piaomiao were seated on the first two rows before him. All the other seats in the discussion hall were taken, and there were even quite a few people standing at attention behind the seats. Outside the discussion hall were even more people standing at attention as well as, and the atmosphere was tensed if a big battle was coming up.
The people sitting in the discussion hall were murmuring to each other and their soft chatters filled the entire room.
Ou Peng wrinkled his brow and gave a light cough. The entire hall of people immediately quietened down as they turned their attention to Ou Peng.
Ou Peng studied his audience before resting his gaze on fourth elder Shangguan. He asked, “Junior brother Shangguan, how is the plan to attack Luoshui sect proceeding?”
Fourth elder Shangguan stood up and reported, “Sect master Ou, our sect’s elites have finally infiltrated the core locations under Luoshui sect’s influence after two months of careful deployment. They are currently waiting for you orders to attack, and I believe that our chances of victory is almost certain.”
Ou Peng turned to ask Zhang Chengyue, “How is the recruitment of the new disciples going so far?”
Zhang Chengyue hurriedly went forward and performed a greeting before he said, “Sect master Ou, we have recruited in excess of four hundred children with good potential for martial arts and have allocated them among our fellow disciples who are in charge of overseeing the new recruits. Senior uncle Shangguan has deployed the whole sect causing some fellow members to feel anxious, and I have already filled up the manpower shortage with members from the Lotus escort.”
Ou Peng nodded his head in satisfaction as he said, “Our security is still paramount, we would not want to end up as the mantis which preyed on the cicada but was hunted by the oriole instead. Also remember to fill up the vacancy we have caused in Lotus escort as soon as possible.”
Zhang Chengyue replied, “Your disciple has already taken note, and we have started recruiting since the beginning of the month.”
Ou Peng said, “Not bad, you have done well this time. Zhengyue, you will be in charge of all sect matters during this period when we are away. I will leave behind you senior uncle Hu to guide you along if needed.”
Zhang Chengyue nodded in understanding.
Ou Peng turned his head to first elder Hu and said, “Eldest brother, stay behind to be our backup, alright?”
First elder Hu smiled as he replied, “Fine, I need to rest these old bags of bones anyway.”
Ou Peng stood up and addressed the audience, “Alright, since all the preparations have been made, release the signal to begin our assault on Luoshui sect. After taking them down, our sect will be promoted to a first-tier sect.”
After he finished his sentence, he raised his hands and the people in the discussion hall immediately became busy as they spread the same sentence to different places, the sentence being “Begin the attack!”
Ou Peng turned to his fellow disciple brothers and the second generation disciples and said, “Come, let’s see if Luoshui sect has any triumph card to defend against us.”
Then, he took the lead as he walked out of the discussion hall.
There were already several horses prepared outside the discussion hall, and the party followed Ou Peng’s lead as they got on the horses and set off under the cover of the night.
Within Bao town’s “Biaochi” carriage station, the passengers who had travelled the entire day were deep in their sleep as they snored one after the other, making an incredible sight to see.
Suddenly, the sounds of angry voices, followed by weapon clashing broke the peace of the night. Some of the passengers were rudely awaken and thus in a bad mood. One particular man shouted even before his opened his eyes, “Which bastard is sick of living, how dare they wake this master up?”
The scuffle became louder, and even Zhang Xiaohu was woken up from the sound of the clashes. Before he could sit up, he heard a “Swoosh” sound followed by a “Peng” sound and an object was stuck onto a pillar in the room. Everyone borrowed the light of the moon to observe the object, and it turned out to be an arrow which shot through the window. Thus, everyone was startled and they lost the will to continue sleeping.
At that moment, a shout travelled from outside and said, “The fierce tiger sect brothers are conducting their business here, those who are not involved should stay where they are, those who should be sleeping better go back to sleep or at least keep their smelly mouth shut.”
Immediately, everyone became silent as their fear could be seen through their eyes.
The fight continued to sound outside, and finally, some people succumbed to their curiosity and crept to the window, while others peeped through the holes on the wall as they tried to observe the current situation.
There were two groups of people fighting out on the street, some people were wielding weapons, others were using their bare fists, and the fight was very intense. Every now and then, a sound of despair would come up, and even though the moonlight was illuminating the scene, it was still too dark to see what was happening clearly. After some time, perhaps because victory was beginning to lean on one side, someone blew his whistle and a group of people immediately scattered in different directions. Among them, some even activated their qinggong and head towards the carriage station, scaring the spectators in the room who immediately shrunk their necks and hide their bodies within the darkness. Only after the escapees have gone far, they extended their heads again and by that time, the street was peaceful again. However, there were still some black figures left, who were probably disposing of the dead bodies. However, nobody dared to go forward to verify their conjecture, and a timid voice said, “It is finished, hurry close the window and go back to sleep.”
Another braver person said “Let’s watch for a little longer to see if there is anyone who will pick up the corpse.”
Zhang Xiaohu was also observing the proceedings of the scuffle from a small hole on the wall. He walked quietly back to his bed, looked at Zhang Xiaohua who was still sleeping soundly and thought in his heart, “Ignorance is bliss indeed. Is this what Jianghu is like? To enter such a cruel battle after learning some martial arts? Is this what I wanted?”
Zhang Xiaohu was pondering over these thoughts as he slowly went back to sleep. The other people in the common sleeping area were still discussing with each other, they were too excited and could no longer go back to sleep.
In the morning of the next day, the sky was still dull but Zhang Xiaohua woke up punctually as usual. Upon seeing Zhang Xiaohu’s sore eyes and the dispirited expressions on the faces of the other travelers, Zhang Xiaohua could guess that something had happened and he asked his second brother, thus learning about the events of the previous night. By the time Zhang Xiaohua went out to search for traces of the scuffle, the streets were already swept clean and there was no longer any evidence of the events during the previous night. Only the single arrow that was stuck on the pillar served as evidence that the fight did happened.
The passengers came from different places to eat a casual breakfast before they returned to their respective rooms.
By the time Zhang Xiaohu and Zhang Xiaohua got on the carriage, they realized that the elderly couple was replaced by a middle-aged well-dressed man.
Under the expert steering of the driver, the interior of the carriage maintained its stability like before. Zhang Xiaohua continued to look at the scenery outside out of boredom while the middle-aged man engaged in some scholarly discussion with the young scholar. However, Zhang Xiaohua could not understand any part of their conversation.
The Zhang Xiaohu who was still excited on the previous day was abnormally quiet that day. Zhang Xiaohua assumed that his second brother did not get a good night sleep, but oblivious to him, Zhang Xiaohu was replaying the scene of the previous night while thinking of Zhang Xiaohua and his future.
Hence, the spacious carriage continued its journey towards Pingyang city in this manner, while the passengers continued to change as they stopped along different towns. From the original passengers, only the two Zhang brothers, the young scholar Li Jinfeng and the bodyguard remained in the same carriage. On this day afternoon, after stopping at another town, the bodyguard said to them that the town was going to be their last stop before Pingyang city. Hence, when the carriage continued its journey after lunch, it would head straight to Pingyang city and reach their destination in the night.