Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
Piaomiao sect was indeed far, after the carriage exited the city, it headed towards the east for the time it takes for an incense stick to burn before it reached a large highway where it finally stopped and the three passengers got off.
Qiu Tong pointed towards the highway and said, “Continue walking straight ahead, Piaomiao sect’s mountain villa is after the highway, I cannot bring you any further than this. I live in Huanxi mountain villa, you can come over and find me when you have the chance.”
Zhang Xiaohua and Zhang Xiaohu expressed their gratitude before Qiu Tong got back on the carriage which turned around and headed back. Qiu Tong waved at the two brothers from the carriage as they left.
On seeing the expansive highway and the enormous trees beside, the two Zhang brothers could not help but feel solemn as they took a deep sigh and started walking towards their destination.
Not long after, they could see a large signboard from afar, as they got closer, they could make out the two words “Piaomiao” resting on the tall entrance. Weren’t they the words on the plaque?
Their heartbeats quickened as they could see hope in front of them.
Under the signboard were a few men carrying blades, and a person who was probably the leader walking to and fro. It was already noon by then, and the sun shone mercilessly on the two brothers who were alone on the wide highway. Hence, they were already spotted from afar, and seeing the two brothers continued to walk towards them, someone went over and extended his right arm out to prevent them from advancing. His gaze was upon their two figures as he studied the two strangers, and he said, “The two of you please stop in your tracks, ahead of you is our sect grounds.”
Zhang Xiaohu stepped forward and cupped his fist. He said, “May I know if this is Piaomiao sect’s mountain villa?”
The person looked at Zhang Xiaohu suspiciously and replied, “Indeed this is Piaomiao sect’s mountain villa.”
Zhang Xiaohu was overjoyed and he said, “That is great, we are looking for Piaomiao sect’s mountain villa.”
The guard took a step back in caution and asked, “May I know what business you have with us?”
Zhang Xiaohu replied, “We came here to join Piaomiao sect and learn martial arts.”
The person was surprised as though what he heard was a joke, and he looked at Zhang Xiaohu before turning back to the other guards behind him. The other guards also looked incredulously at the two visitors.
Zhang Xiaohua asked curiously, “What is the problem? We came from Lu town to join Piaomiao sect and learn martial arts.”
The person could no longer control his temperament, he hugged his stomach and burst out in laughter while pointing to the two brothers and said, “Join Piaomiao sect? The two of you? Hahaha…..”
The other guards also started laughing until their backs bent, and some were even rolling on the floor, as though they just heard the world’s funniest joke.
The two Zhang brothers could not understand their humor, thus they stood there silently until the guards laughed their fill before asking carefully, “Why are you laughing?”
His words brought another bout of laughter from the guards, but this time, the guard leader responded, “Yet another two worms attracted by the allure of Jianghu.”
Then, he shooed them with his hands and said, “Piaomiao sect has already recruited some disciples not long ago. We are not recruiting anymore so the two of you should just go home.”
Zhang Xiaohua became anxious and he said, “We came all the way from Lu town, and journeyed for several days by carriage and spent a lot of money, how can you just chase us back?”
Zhang Xiaohu was also shocked, he had not expected the other party to reject them from learning martial arts, what should he do now?
Suddenly, Zhang Xiaohu thought of an idea and he said to the guard leader, “This elder brother, I am acquaintances with hero Wen, Wen Wenhai. Can you let us in to meet him?”
The guard leader looked at him as he replied, “Our Piaomiao sect indeed has a disciple by this name, but there are many people who has heard of him as well. How does this prove that he knows you?”
Zhang Xiaohu listened strangely and he said, “You can tell him that we are the Zhang brothers from Lu town, I trust that he will have some impression of us.”
The guard leader said, “A pity, even if hero Wen knows you, I still cannot let you in because he is not in the sect right now.”
Zhang Xiaohu felt a wave of disappointment, but Zhang Xiaohua interrupted, “What about hero Lu, Lu Yueming?”
The guard leader continued, “Ah, you do know quite a bit. However, hero Lu is not in the sect at the moment as well, and even if you know them, they will not let you join our sect to learn martial arts. Thus, you should obediently go back to where you came from and live your days farming in the fields.”
The guard leader’s gaze was sharp and incisive, he could recognize their origins immediately.
The two Zhang brothers wanted to say something else, but the guard leader interrupted them and said, “This is the mountain villa of Piaomiao sect, and we have always prohibited strangers from entering our grounds. Right now is a sensitive period for us, and I should not even explain all these things to you, so you should stop wasting our time and leave sooner.”
The two brothers felt dejected upon hearing his words, and without a choice, they turned back and walked away dispiritedly.
Just at that moment, one of the guard said softly to the guard leader, “Head-er, these two people could name two of our core disciples so easily, what if they really do recognize them? Even though joining our sect to learn martial arts is impossible, if those people know that we chased off some of the acquaintances, won’t we be in trouble?”
The guard leader started to frown, and another guard came forward and said, “Aren’t the Lotus escort are looking for near recruits? We can direct them over, and if they fail the test, they can just head home after that. If those core disciples learn of this, at least they cannot blame us for doing anything wrong.”
Upon hearing these, the guard leader nodded and his eyes brightened. He said, “Your words make sense, I guess it is still you who have the better brain.”
After saying that, the guard leader rushed forward towards the two Zhang brothers and shouted, “These two brothers, wait a moment.”
Just as Zhang Xiaohu and Zhang Xiaohua were walking back dejectedly, they heard the voice calling them and stopped their footsteps. Zhang Xiaohua asked, “What is the matter, are you letting us in?”
The guard leader laughed as he said, “Letting you join our sect is impossible, but I can give you some directions if the two of you are looking to learn martial arts.”
Zhang Xiaohua and Zhang Xiaohu’e eyes brightened and they asked in unison, “What directions?”
The guard leader continued, “There is a place called Lotus escort in Pingyang city. They are currently recruiting so the both of you can try out. If you pass their selections, there will naturally be someone who will teach you martial arts.”
On a listen, they realized that it was the place Shangguan Yun and Yu Lun were planning to go, it seemed that Yu Lun was telling the truth. While trying to find Piaomiao sect in the morning, they had left the matter at the back of their heads, but it seemed that they would have to go back to that option.
The two brothers hurriedly thank the guard leader for his suggestion, and asked for specific directions to the Lotus escort before they waved goodbye and left.
It was already afternoon by then, and the sun was beginning to set. They had long digested their breakfast, and Zhang Xiaohua was hungry to the point of dizziness. Zhang Xiaohu was not any better, but fortunately there were some houses in front of the Piaomiao sect mountain, and quite a few households making a living there. The two brothers found a small shop and had a casual meal there.
When they came, they took the carriage and even though the trip was long, there was someone to chat to so they did not get bored. However, on their return trip on foot, they were walking one behind the other. When there was some shade, the trip was still bearable, when they had to walk under the sun, it became hot and more exhausting. There were not many people that travelled the road between Pingyang city and Piaomiao sect, and those few with carriages were in too much of a hurry to bother giving those two brothers a ride back into the city.
By the time the two brothers reached within view if Pingyang city, their backs were completely wet with sweat. However, upon seeing the city entrance, their spirits improved and pace increased.
Fortunately, the Lotus escort station was close to the city entrance and many people were able to provide them directions. Not long after, the two brothers found themselves in front of a large door.
The door was very big and two lion statues were placed at each of its sides, making it looked majestic. There was a black signboard hung outside, and four words written in gold. Zhang Xiaohua could only recognize the second word “hua (flower)”, and he guessed that the words were probably “Lotus escort station”.
There were also some people standing at the door, but they were dressed in cloths and there were no blades on their waist. When the two brothers walked up the steps, one of the guards immediately walked up to them, but upon seeing the attire of the two brothers, his brows wrinkled slightly although he maintained his smile and asked, “May I know if these two brothers are looking for a bodyguard or requesting to make a delivery?”
Fortunately, Zhang Xiaohu had heard of the jobs that escort stations take up from Yu Lun so he did not make a fool of himself. Instead, he cupped his fists and said politely that the two brothers are here to learn martial arts from the Lotus escort.”
The person studied Zhang Xiaohu from head to toe, nodded his head and said, “Wait a moment.”
Then, he turned around and shouted to the people behind, “Little four, come over and bring these two to the testing room, they are here to learn martial arts.”
A lean but sharp looking person made a sound in acknowledgment and ran over to bring the two brothers through the big door.
After stepping through the door, there was a large spacious field with many weapons placed at a side, while some stone weights and other things were put at another corner. The sun was still very strong and there were not much people in the field, so the people who came to learn martial arts were probably still resting indoors.
The attendant led the Zhang brothers to a row of rooms on the right of the field, walked to the second door and knocked slightly. After a short while, a hoarse voice came from inside saying, “Who is it, come in.”
The attendant opened the door and brought the Zhang brothers into the room, the room was similar to a study room and there was a forty plus years old man sitting behind the study desk. The man was dressed like a scholar, and his eyes were slightly puffy as though he had just woken up.
The person who was woken up forcibly was naturally not good-tempered, he asked unhappily, “Little four, what is the matter?”
The attendant hurriedly smile in apology and said, “Uncle Wen, these two are here to learn martial arts, can you arrange it for them?”
Uncle Wen heard his answer and motioned him to leave, while saying, “Understood, you can go.”
The attendant smiled and said, “I will have to trouble Uncle Wen then. I shall take my leave now.”
Before he left, he turned towards Zhang Xiaohu and said, “This person is fourth uncle Wen who is in charge of Lotus escort’s martial artist new intakes, both of you just follow his arrangements.”
Zhang Xiaohu cupped his fists in thanks and the attendant stepped out while closing door before he left.
Fourth uncle Wen looked at the attire of the two brothers and wrinkled his brow. Nevertheless, he took a book form the table and flipped it open, asked for the two brothers’ names and wrote on the book, before asking, “Do you want to stay in the escort station or outside?”
Zhang Xiaohu said, “Of course we choose to stay in the escort station.”
Fourth uncle Wen nodded his head and said, “Alright, the tuition for learn martial arts for a year is fifty taels of silver, food and lodging is thirty taels of silver. Since there are two of you, it will be a total of a hundred and sixty taels of silver, please bring the money out now.”
Upon hearing, Zhang Xiaohu and Zhang Xiaohua became dumbstruck.