Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
Shi Niu steered the carriage expertly and crossed over several small paths before reaching the large and even highway. At that time of the day, the number of people and traffic on the road was few so Shi Niu increased his speed.
The three carriages behind were also rushing to catch up to his steed, but they naturally fell behind with the disparity in skill levels of their drivers.
Shi Niu did not seem to notice and he continued to increase the speed of the carriage he was steering while enjoying the nostalgic feeling. Fortunately, Qiu Tong was alert and she quickly stopped him, and Shi Niu apologetically explained, “It has been a while since I steered a carriage so I made a mistake. I will be slower in the future.”
Shi Niu slowed down the carriage and the other carriages behind then caught up with his. Madam Qin who was in the same carriage wrinkled her brows and said, “Shi Niu, while it is good to hurry, you must always put the villa master’s safety as your top priority. If you behave like this, who would be here to protect the villa master?”
Shi Niu did not seem to enjoy listening to these words, and he replied, “If we met an enemy, then how would the people behind be sufficient? Won’t it still be up to us to protect her?”
Madam Qin smiled and said, “I just knew that it would be difficult speaking sense to people like you. In Jianghu, martial power is not the only type of power, one must use his head more often. As the saying goes, it is easier to dodge an open spear than a hidden arrow, so it is still best to play safe.”
Shi Niu had some fear and respect towards Madam Qin so he did not refute her words and carefully controlled the speed of the carriage so the carriages behind could catch up to his.
Not long after, the procession had left quite far from Pingyang city and there were fewer passers-by and more carriages on the highway.
There were still many fields in the distance, and a village in the wilderness would occasionally appear.
The sun was hung up high in the sky and it shone its rays onto the wide ground below; the day turned out to be another good one with nice weather.
As though he was infected by the clear weather, Shi Niu began to sing as he steered the carriage, “Little sister sits on the boat, elder brother walks on shore…”
Shi Niu’s voice went as high as his tall built and everyone in the four carriages could hear his singing, they all could not help but change their perception of the man. No one would have expected such a boorish muscular man to have such a sensitive side, and gentleness appeared in the eyes of several of the female disciples.
Unfortunately, not long after, Shi Niu revealed his ugly tail as he only knew the song, and throughout the entire journey from morning to night, he only sang the same few verses of that single song. No matter how delicious the food was, one would get tired eating it every day, not to mention those few simple lines of song lyrics?
During nightfall when it was time to check into their lodgings, everyone apart from Shi Niu almost had white spit foaming in their mouths.
For a long journey, the most important was to arrange good food and lodgings to make it comfortable, and fortunately, Qiu Tong had undertaken the journey beforehand so everyone had already planned the route that they were going to take, the rest stops, the lodgings and restaurants, so all they had to do after setting off was follow the plan during their journey.
That night, the accommodation that was planned was an inn in a small town, and even though it was only an inn, it was much better than the places that Zhang Xiaohua had previously stayed when he journeyed.
The people from the Huanxi mountain villa rented out the only courtyard in the inn which made the fat owner of the inn smile until his eyes formed two slits on his face. Everyone was busy at the front and back in fear of offending such an important guest.
Unfortunately, after the people from the mountain villa entered the courtyard, two disciples stood guard at the entrance of the courtyard and prevented outside people from entering; even the owner of the inn was barred from the accommodation and the food was all purchased from specialized stores in the town. This led the owner to feel heartache as he had lost an important source of income; however, when he thought about it, the silvers paid by his guests far exceeded his own published rent so he immediately extinguished his unhappy thoughts.
Even though it was night-time, the mountain villa people were still capable enough to purchase many ingredients or the chef whom they brought along to use, and not long later, two to three tables of food was prepared and ready to be eaten. Zhang Xiaohua was not a servant but he also could not sit on the same table as He Tianshu, Ou Yan and the others, so he ate a simple meal with the rest of the people in the small room.
After dinner, the courtyard was lit up with lanterns; the courtyard was actually not small and there were many rooms, Zhang Xiaohua could actually stay in the same room with He Tianshu by themselves. After Zhang Xiaohu lit the light and was prepared to read his book, He Tianshu stopped him and said, “Zhang Xiaohua, would you like to go out for a while with me?”
Zhang Xiaohua was surprised, he replied, “It is already so late, why are you going out instead of turning in earlier?”
He Tianshu smiled and said, “There is naturally a reason for so, do you want to come along?”
Zhang Xiaohua wrinkled his brows and suddenly thought of Ma Jing, could this squad leader He have the same hobby as him?
Zhang Xiaohua persuaded the other party, “Squad leader He, it has already been a day so aren’t you tired? It is best to rest early, and I’ve heard that such places are unclean so it is best to not frequent them.”
He Tianshu was surprised but broke out into laughter later. He pressed his knuckle onto Zhang Xiaohua’s head and said, “You little rascal, you still know quite a lot about the world. Everyone says that scholars are knowledgeable and it is indeed true, the previous Zhang Xiaohua who did not know how to read would not have known about this.”
Zhang Xiaohua rubbed his head and said in a wronged tone, “So what if I know, it is better than you going over there.”
He Tianshu smiled and said, “Where do you want to go, I just thought that the night was not too late, and as the saying goes, the fist does not leave the hands like the songs do not leave the mouth, have you trained your fist martial arts yet today? Surely we can head out to warm our muscles?”
Zhang Xiaohua then understood He Tianshu’s intention and he said apologetically, “I rather not go, it is already so late now. I rather sleep early instead.”
He Tianshu said, “Zhang Xiaohua, when talking about the time to practice martial art, you may not know this but the best time to train is actually deep in the night when Yin and Yang energy alternates. Even though you do not train in inner energy cultivation methods, normal fist martial arts will also enjoy some benefits from training at this hour. Forget it if you do not want to go.”
Zhang Xiaohua hesitated for a moment before saying, “Squad leader He, I always sleep early and never seem to be able to stay awake past midnight. Fine, I will follow you to train since I did not practice in the afternoon and evening today.”
Hence, He Tianshu led Zhang Xiaohua out where several disciples were on guard, He Tianshu spoke to them before leaving the small courtyard.
They met the fat inn owner after exiting the courtyard who upon seeing someone exit from the small courtyard, went over with a wide grin on his face to welcome the visitors. When he heard that He Tianshu was looking for a place with a forest, he became surprised and pondered for a long while before pointing here and there to some vague location and even suggested calling an attendant to bring them over instead.
He Tianshu naturally did not want to be followed, he rejected the inn owner’s kind intentions and brought Zhang Xiaohua as they left the inn. Zhang Xiaohua could not remember the way and was not able to understand the inn owner’s directions, but he felt relieved since He Tianshu was leading the way.
However, not long after, Zhang Xiaohua felt that something was wrong and every time He Tianshu reached a junction, the latter would ponder for a moment before continuing to walk. Zhang Xiaohua began to suspect if He Tianshu was lost.
Indeed, after passing several streets, He Tianshu paused in his footsteps and turned around to ask Zhang Xiaohua, “Are we walking in the right direction?”
Zhang Xiaohua rolled his eyes and said, “It has always been you leading the way, how would I know if we are walking in the right direction or not. Furthermore, I am a natural born directions idiot who can’t even remember the way from the mountain villa entrance to the courtyard, not to mention this foreign environment.”
He Tianshu smiled bitterly and said, “It seems that we have to ask for directions now.”
However, there were very few passers-by in the middle of the night, and who knew where He Tianshu had walked to, the place was pitch black darkness so where could he find someone to ask directions from?
He Tianshu looked at his surroundings and pointed to a lantern in front, he said, “Let’s go there, perhaps there will be someone to ask directions from. If not, we can return to the inn.”
Zhang Xiaohua naturally had no objections as he followed He Tianshu towards the lantern.
By the time they walked into the light, they realized that it was actually a small weapon store. He Tianshu felt strange in his heart since the store was still open so late in the night.
As He Tianshu walked into the store, although it was not completely pitch dark, there was only a lit lantern so he could not see his surroundings clearly. However, he could smell the odour of alcohol the moment he entered, and upon a closer inspection, he saw a man dressed like a blacksmith sleeping at the counter.
There were many swords and blades on display in the store which were probably made by this blacksmith. He Tianshu did not hurry to wake the other party up, he picked up a wide blade and looked at it in interest. This was not strange actually, a scholar would enter a bookshop if he passes by one on the streets, and even if he did not purchase anything, he would at least flip through some of the books. A martial artist was no different in a weapon store, he would pick up a few weapons to admire even if they were not suitable for him. This was probably a common trait of all people no matter their occupation.
However, when He Tianshu examined the blade in his hands, his expression turned slightly more serious as he did not expect the small store to produce such good quality weapons.
Thus, He Tianshu began to browse the weapons seriously to see if he could find a better weapon for himself.
Zhang Xiaohua did not have any interests in these things but the streets were chilly compared to the interior of the store which at least had snoring sounds and another person inside. Thus, he also began to look around.
He Tianshu used a sword so he naturally looked for a steel sword.
Thus, he went to a shelf and picked one up after another but had no better find. If one was to talk about quality of the sword material, they were not bad but still slightly worse than the sword He Tianshu currently owned so he would be hard pressed to spend money on another one of those he found. When he walked to the end, he saw a dagger-like weapon placed on the shelf which was black in dull. It was unusual so he walked over and bent his waist to pick it up, the dagger felt cold to touch and was heavy for its size, and when He Tianshu brought it up to his eye level, he could tell that it was not an ordinary dagger.
Rather than a dagger, it was more appropriate to call it a small sword. A normal dagger usually had a wooden handle and a sharp blade on its other end, but this dagger was like a precious sword because its handle and blade was made from the same metallic material. However, the length proportion of the handle and blade was slightly off, the length of its cutting blade was shorter than usual. He Tianshu carefully used his fingers to feel the edge of the sword, he could not help but wrinkle his brows, what kind of item was this?
A child’s toy?
He raised his head and just as he was about to wake the storekeeper, he saw Zhang Xiaohua turning round and round in boredom, and then looked back at the little sword in his hands. He called out, “Zhang Xiaohua, come over for a while, I have something fun to show you.”
Zhang Xiaohua called out in agreement and went over to see the item which He Tianshu was showing to him, he asked in a curious tone, “Squad leader He, what is this item? It looks like a toy sword? However, it is not much bigger than the ones I played with when I was young.”
He Tianshu smiled and said, “I think the blacksmith made it for fun, you can take it and try it out. I will buy it for you if you like it.”
Zhang Xiaohua did not accept the sword and said, “I am not a child, buy me a real sword if you want to buy me a weapon.”
He Tianshu said, “How can you use a real sword if you do not know any sword martial art. Furthermore…”
When he said up to here, He Tianshu suddenly stopped because what he wanted to say was, can your hands even hold a real sword? However, he felt that these words would hurt the boy’s feelings so he quickly stopped midway in his sentence.
Zhang Xiaohua was confused and he asked, “Furthermore?”
He Tianshu quickly tried to find something else, he said, “Furthermore, I do not know how expensive this precious sword is so I am still considering if I should buy it for you.”
Zhang Xiaohua snorted and turned around, he said, “I rather not have this toy.”
However, when he turned around, he accidentally bumped into a precious sword and with a “Dang” sound, the sword dropped onto the floor with a loud clash.
Upon hearing the sound, the sleeping blacksmith woke up and shouted, “Catch the thief…..”
When he saw He Tianshu who was holding the small sword and Zhang Xiaohua, he quickly wiped the drool off his mouth and smiled as he walked over, saying, “My apologies, customers. Have you found anything you like? I was dreaming just now, really sorry about that.”
Zhang Xiaohua bent his waist and used his left hand to pick up the precious sword on the floor, he gripped it in his hands and said, “If you did not wake up, we would have really taken this weapon and gone off.”
The blacksmith smiled and said, “Seeing the heroic air on the two of you, how could you be such people? Please do not joke like that.”
From the dim light in the store, the blacksmith sight was pretty amazing to tell that his customers were not the ordinary ones he usually entertained.
The blacksmith looked at the little sword in He Tianshu’s hands and said, “This customer really has a good eye, this is the most precious item in my store, it has been passed down for a hundred years and had been caught in your eye today, perhaps my heart will have to be torn.”
He Tianshu smiled widely as he used his fingers to wipe of the layer of dust on the small blade and said, “This is the precious item of your store? Why don’t you have something to cover it at least? Furthermore, what is this weapon good for? Is it a dagger? Why is its blade so blunt? Is it a sword? Why is it so small?”
The blacksmith was questioned until he became speechless, he sheepishly said, “Alright, I will tell you the truth. A hundred years ago when my grandfather’s grandfather was still alive, an old man with white hair came into our store and said that this was an immortal treasure. If you don’t believe me, you can try weighing the thing, how could normal metal be so heavy?”
He Tianshu continued to smile as he said, “I feel strange, why would the person not go to a pawnshop if he wanted to pawn an item, why would he come over to your store instead. forget it, I was actually planning on buying a precious sword but I guess I should save myself the trouble.” While he spoke, He Tianshu placed the small sword back on its shelf and prepared to walk out.
The blacksmith immediately became flustered and he said, “Alright, customer, you are really good. I will be honest with you; this is a toy I brought back from the village. I was planning on melting and recasting it as a weapon since it was quite dense, but it would not melt for some reason so I left it there as a toy for children to play with. However, it was too heavy so no children would take a liking towards it, and it has been left there for many years instead. Customer, you can take a look around at the other weapons, and if you buy more things, I will gift this toy to you as well, alright?”
He Tianshu pursed his lips and said, “I still have to buy more things? From how remote your shop is, how many customers can you possibly have? Furthermore, I am only one person so how many swords am I able to buy? However, your workmanship is pretty good so I will look around first.”
After finishing his sentence, he casually passed the little sword to Zhang Xiaohua who received it with his right hand as his left hand was still holding on to the precious sword. Indeed, the sword was quite heavy, so no wonder no child was interested in playing with it. He then passed the precious sword in his left hand to He Tianshu.
When He Tianshu received the precious sword from Zhang Xiaohua, he inspected it and said, “This sword is pretty good, shopkeeper, how much is it?”
Upon seeing He Tianshu’s interest, the blacksmith said, “Customer has such a good eye, this weapon is our store’s…” When he spoke up to here, he quickly changed his tone when He Tianshu wrinkled his brows and apologized, “Oh, I am sorry. This sword is made by my grandfather so it has been here for quite many years, your eyes are pretty sharp to have caught it. No discounts, this cost twenty silvers.”
He Tianshu smiled and said, “Was your grandfather Ou Yezi?”
The blacksmith was surprised and he said. “Of course not.”
He Tianshu continued, “If he was Ou Yezi, I would pay two thousand silvers, not to mention twenty silvers. If not, this price is simply too high.”
The blacksmith asked, “In that case, how much does this customer think it is worth?”
He Tianshu replied, “Two silvers are enough.”
The blacksmith said angrily, “Isn’t this daylight robbery? You don’t have a shred of sincerity.”
After saying that, he tried to take the sword back.
He Tianshu did not budge and let the other party take back the sword. However, the blacksmith did not take it back, he said, “If customer is slightly more sincere, could he please consider increasing the amount?”
Zhang Xiaohua was bored as he watched the two men bargained, so he turned his attention onto the small sword in his hands.
Even though the small sword was covered in a layer of dust, it was still obviously black and slightly reflective. Zhang Xiaohua felt strange, he used his left palm to wipe off the dust on it.
However, when his left hand came into contact with the little sword, he suddenly felt a weird sensation as though the little sword had a connection with his left hand, but the feeling disappeared as soon as he moved his left hand away.
Hence, Zhang Xiaohua switched his grip to his left hand and when it entered his left grip, he felt a connection as though the little sword had become part of his left hand. However, when he used his right hand to wipe of the dust and inspected it carefully, he made no other discovery about it, except that the black surface was not reflective although some brilliance can be seen coming from within the small sword. However, he could not be sure if it was due to the light from the oil lamp.
Nevertheless, no matter what use the small sword had, whether as a toy or as a dagger, Zhang Xiaohua made his mind up to possess it.
At that moment, the blacksmith and He Tianshu had finally reached the last stage of their negotiations. He Tianshu said, “Alright, let’s not argue any further. We shall both take a step back and call it at seven silvers.”