Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
And thus, a robbery in Jianghu concluded like that.
Zhang Xiaohua who was initially anticipating some action got a lesson from Zhang Xiaohu instead. even though he did not witness the violence and bloodthirstiness of Jianghu, the experience reinforced his idea that power was might in Jianghu.
For the following days, Zhang Xiaohua would pray fervently to not encounter any mountain bandits, and his attitude was a stark contrast from the light heartedness when he began the journey.
However, the winds and rain in Jianghu did not follow the wishes of one person and the journey was not travelled only on the safe highways. Every so often, they would meet bandits who did not have eyes and ignored the reputation of Lotus escort and Piaomiao sect, but their strengths were less than fart so they did not pose any threat to the escort team. Even though they all succumbed to the escort team led by station head Luo, but the swords do not have eyes and some of the bodyguards got injured. Although the escort team had good medicine and one of the station’s best physicians following with them, one of the bodyguards whose wrist was broken became crippled even though he managed to keep his life.
For the rest of the journey, the injured bodyguard would lie down in the carriage beside Zhang Xiaohua, and when Zhang Xiaohua occasionally glanced over at the casualty, his normally cheerful mood would dampen upon seeing the bodyguard’s dejected and listless expression.
Fortunately, the escort team’s strength was sufficient to hold on despite that single bodyguard. Even though Zhang Xiaohua was still upset, station head Luo was overjoyed and relieved from what he perceived as a smooth journey.
The small town close to the sea was very far from Pingyang city so the procession journeyed for several months before reaching the vicinity of Pingyang city. The procession was expected to reach their homeground in the afternoon but was delayed from the breakdown of one of the carriages, so they arrived at a remote village during the afternoon instead. The bodyguards seemed to be sensitive to the fact that they were reaching their destination. If it was a few days ago, the procession would set up camp in the village for the night, but on that day, everyone including station head Luo agreed to rush back even if they had to travel through the night. Thus, the procession continued to move until they arrived at a small boundary town before midnight.
After they entered the town, station head Luo took a deep breath and shouted aloud, “Brothers, we have finally reached our homeground, haha.”
Everyone was in a celebratory mood and some would look at the sleeping Zhang Xiaohua in confusion.
For the next few days, the escort team was evidently not as vigilant as before so journey became more relaxed. Thus, it was at night when the procession finally reached Pingyang city.
Even though Pingyang city was called a city beside water, it was deep inland and there was no natural defence. Hence, only one of the four city gates would be opened at night, and this was also another reason for why the procession tried to rush through the night. After all, who would not want to return to the escort station earlier, have a good wash and early sleep that night?
Of course, Zhang Xiaohua had already fallen asleep under the unhygienic conditions much earlier before the procession reached the city.
The procession rushed to the escort station but the door was already closed because of the time. Someone went up and knocked “dong dong” on the door. The person who answered immediately opened the door without complaints when he saw that the visitors were his comrades who had returned from an outside job. The twenty plus people entered the door and rushed through the field, the noise they made was not soft so the other guards were alerted straightaway. The head guard first congratulated station head Luo for bringing the procession back safely before turning to Zhang Xiaohu and said, “Zhang Xiaohu, you have finally returned. Fourth master Wen has been asking for your whereabouts for the past few days and he has instructed you to find him immediately after you returned.”
Zhang Xiaohu was surprised, what could the reason be? He confirmed his uncertainty with the guard, “Must I go over even if it is past midnight?”
The guard smiled bitterly and replied, “The fourth master did not give any particular timing restrictions in his instructions. Since you’re back now, it might be better to go over to take a look if he is awake first so that you don’t anger him.”
Zhang Xiaohu pondered and said, “Alright, thanks for the reminder.”
Zhang Xiaohu went to the field and brought the sleeping Zhang Xiaohua back into his room before packing his belongings and carrying them back as well. He then entered the inner courtyard and walked towards fourth master Wen’s room.
It was already past midnight and the courtyard was eerily quiet. Zhang Xiaohu walked stealthily to the door before deliberating again. Just as he was about to knock, and aged voice called from inside, “Who is it? What is the matter for coming here so late at night?”
The voice came out of nowhere and gave Zhang Xiaohu a fright, he felt admiration towards the elder. As the saying goes, older ginger is spicier and fourth master Wen’s inner energy was indeed one of the most profound within the Lotus escort. He was noticed straightaway just when he neared the door, Zhang Xiaohu wondered when he could ever reach this level.
On the other hand, fourth master Wen was feeling vexed by the uninvited visitor, he scolded secretly, “Where on earth did such an annoying child appear, where is his sense of respect for elders? It is difficult for an old man like me to fall asleep yet he chose to wake me up tonight of all nights when I happen to feel sleepy. You just gave my feeble heart a fright and I would have jumped out of the window if you did not raise your hand to knock on the door.”
Zhang Xiaohu straightened his back and replied respectfully, “It’s me, Zhang Xiaohu.”
“Zhang Xiaohu?” Fourth elder Wen hesitated, “Why have you come over at this time?”
Zhang Xiaohu became surprised when he heard the elder’s question, he answered anxiously, “Fourth master, I just came back from a job outside and the guard at the door told me that you were looking for me, and I was told to report to you the moment I came back.”
“Ah!” Fourth master Wen became agitated, “So it’s for this matter, cough…”
Fourth master Wen coughed a few times from his frustration, he drank some water and continued, “Have I said that before? Even if I did, there is no need for you to come back knocking at the middle of the night.”
Zhang Xiaohu replied in an embarrassed tone, “The guard said that you sounded urgent and though it was for an important matter. If it is nothing, I shall go back and come over again tomorrow morning.”
Upon hearing this, fourth master Wen replied, “Oh, I got it. I instructed about this matter a month ago and it has almost been two months since then. Sigh, one becomes more forgetful as he grows older. Alright, you don’t need to go back, just give me a minute to get up. I guess that this night was going to be another sleepless one again.”
Zhang Xiaohu waited at the door before he was invited into the room.
The two men seated themselves and fourth master Wen poured a cup of water for Zhang Xiaohu. After Zhang Xiaohu finished the water, fourth master Wen looked at him and said, “Zhang Xiaohu, this job has taken a long while, you must have suffered much,”
Zhang Xiaohu hurriedly replied, “I dare not, fourth master. I was only assisting station head Luo as his deputy, most matters were handled by him so I did not have to do much at all.”
Fourth master Wen smiled and said, “The job ran over the New Year so there must be some unhappiness, what was the feedback from the other men?”
Zhang Xiaohu replied, “There was not much complaints but they did request for a higher pay. After all, they were away from home and unable to celebrate the holiday with their family and loved ones because of the station’s responsibilities.”
Fourth master Wen stroke his beard and said, “That much is necessary, the station will not mistreat its staff especially if they have contributed to the station. Since this job is important and ran over the New Year, they would naturally be compensated for that as well.”
Zhang Xiaohu was stunned and he thought to himself, “Goodness, what do these words mean?”
However, he replied respectfully, “Then I will thank fourth master Wen on behalf of the rest of our brothers.”
Fourth master Wen waved his hands and said, “Haha, that is unnecessary. Additional compensation is natural.”
He hesitated for a moment before asking, “How was the job, did it complete smoothly?”
Zhang Xiaohu was puzzled but he still replied, “Yes, it was quite normal. We did meet some mountain bandits but station head Luo handled them very efficiently.”
However, he thought, “What is your purpose for calling me, fourth master? Are you looking for someone to accompany you because you are unable to sleep? I am feeling very tired now and would like to go to bed as soon as possible.”
Fourth master Wen asked in a cordial tone, “So when did you return to the station.”
Zhang Xiaohu wrinkled his brows and said, “Just a while ago, after I placed my belongings back into the room.”
Fourth master Wen nodded and said, “Oh, then you must have not heard of the news yet.”
“News?” Zhang Xiaohu asked in surprise, “What news?”
Fourth master Wen pondered for a moment and switched to a sympathetic expression, “Zhang Xiaohu, I count you as part of my family and believed that it was fate that brought you to the station. I know that you are willing to sacrifice your youth, your passion, your effort, and even your life for the station.”
Zhang Xiaohu felt even more stunned as fourth master Wen continued, “I was like you in the past as well, and would not hesitate to give up myself for the station. Anyone can see that I have dedicated half my life for the station, this place is like my home and it has achieved its current accomplishments due to everyone’s combined efforts. If all of us did not think of sacrificing ourselves, the station will not be where it is today.”
Zhang Xiaohu was confused and he said carefully, “Have I done anything wrong recently? Please enlighten me on my shortcomings.”
Fourth master Wen smiled and said, “You have done well and not thrown my face.”
Zhang Xiaohu opened his mouth dumbly and asked, “Then why…?
Fourth master Wen switched back to a sympathetic expression and said, “It’s like this. I have a devastating piece of news to relay to you, so I hope that you mentally prepare yourself for it. I think that you should adopt the horse stance and listen to me seriously. Also try to remain calm while I am speaking.”
Zhang Xiaohu smiled and said, “What news is it, fourth master, I have gotten dizzy from all your words.”
Fourth master Wen nodded and said, “Not bad, I have indeed chosen the right person, you are still able to remain calm as within my expectations.”
He continued, “Actually, I believe you already know this but as the saying goes, live well and die gloriously, some people may have died but he still lives within our hearts. Some people’s death can move mount Taishan, and some people’s death can only blow chicken feathers. As long as one has a fulfilled life, death will not be regrettable.”
Zhang Xiaohu heard fourth master Wen’s flowery and sad language and wondered what the other party was trying to say.
Suddenly, he felt that something bad had happened, was it his family?
Damn, did the Xicui mountain bandits regroup again? Or was it the Lu town bullies?
Zhang Xiaohu’s mind became blank, what could he do then?
Fourth master Wen did not notice Zhang Xiaohu’s unsteady expression under the darkness and he continued to speak, “It is easy to do good deeds, but difficult to do at least a single good deed each day, or a good deed that is impactful enough to influence other people for the rest of their lives. As the saying goes, do good deeds and avoid bad ones no matter how small they are, we should commend a good deed no matter how big or small it is, not to mention those that saved other people’s life while risking his own. On behalf of Lotus escort, Huanxi mountain villa and Piaomiao sect, I toast my respect to you!”
After finishing his sentence, fourth master Wen wiped of the sweat on his forehead and said embarrassingly, “Sigh, scholar Fan’s words are so difficult to remember, I have memorized it a few times yet am unable to recall them now. It’s not entirely my fault either, I thought you would return sooner and did not expect you to be back a month later so I have not looked at the words for quite a while.”
Sigh, this old fourth master had tried his best to memorize his speech over the winter but forgotten it at the most critical time!
When fourth master raised his head and saw Zhang Xiaohu’s dark expression, he said in a hurt tone, “Zhang Xiaohu, I guess that you already know what I am trying to say. The dead may have departed but the survivors must try their best to live on, you have to turn your sorrow into strength and continue to work hard to take over your younger brother’s baton and fulfil your younger brother’s wishes. Continue to work hard for the sake of Lotus escort, and for the Piaomiao sect!”
Zhang Xiaohu’s face became lively and his eyes widened, his mouth also opened large enough for a duck egg to be squeezed inside. He said in disbelief, “My younger brother? Zhang Xiaohua?”
Fourth master Wen nodded dejectedly, he said in his lowest voice, “That’s right, it is your younger brother Zhang Xiaohua, the good employee in Huanxi mountain villa, with the good image in Lotus escort, the good friend of Piaomiao sect, our hero, who will always live within our hearts!”
Zhang Xiaohu stood up and exclaimed, “This!!! Is there a mistake somewhere?!”
Fourth master Wen replied, “How could there be a mistake? Sit down, sit down first. I was praising you earlier on how composed you were, so how did you become so hot-blooded now? I know that it is hard to accept this news which is why I prepared such a long speech, so how can you still lose your cool and stand up while I am talking to you? Be more calm, you have to be as unmoving as a mountain so we can discuss on how to proceed with this matter.”
Zhang Xiaohu smiled and sat back onto his chair, he said, “Fourth master, I was quite surprised when I heard this news so I could not help but stand up, please forgive me.”
Fourth master stroked his beard and said, “Not bad, you have recovered very quickly just like how I would if I were you. I believe in your future potential!”
TL : Laughing my *** off.
Fourth master stood up from his seat and went to retrieve a wooden box. He placed it in front of Zhang Xiaohu and said, “Even though Zhang Xiaohua had already left us, we will still remember him dearly in our hearts. His heroic act must definitely be publicized but now is not the time, there are many things happening within Piaomiao sect so we cannot spread the news of him sacrificing his life for the villa master to outside. Hence, we can only prepare some condolence money on our side. This was given to me personally by Piaomiao sect’s sect master Ou to be passed to you, and it is a token of our respect towards Zhang Xiaohua.”
Zhang Xiaohu opened the wooden box in confusion, there was a thick wad of checks inside. On a closer inspection, there were at least a hundred checks, and the first check faced up was a check for one hundred taels, was there ten thousand taels worth of check inside the wooden box?
Zhang Xiaohu got a huge shock; he had never seen such a large amount of money since birth and was almost frightened to death upon seeing such a sum. He pushed away the wooden box and said, “Fourth master, what is this for? What has happened to my younger brother, could someone have made a mistake? How do I dare to accept these hundred thousand taels without a clearer explanation?”
Fourth master Wen said, “I am unaware of the specifics since Huanxi mountain villa matters are rather secretive, but according to Qiu Tong, your younger brother was courageous and brave, and had given up his life in the process of protecting villa master Ou.”
“What?” Zhang Xiaohu was stunned, he asked in surprise, “How could there be such a thing? Why have I not heard of it? Xiaohua did not mention any of it to me!”
“To you?” Fourth master Wen smiled, “How could he inform you?”
Zhang Xiaohu replied solemnly, “Xiaohua is currently sleeping in my room, and he had followed the procession on our way back, everyone from the escort team knew this. However, he only said that he fell into the river during the night but did not mention all these.”
Fourth master Wen’s hand which was stroking his beard jerked involuntarily and pulled out some strands of his beard, causing him to stand up in pain. He looked at Zhang Xiaohu severely and asked, “Really? He is currently sleeping in your room?”
His demeanour was like a hundred and eighty about turn from his calm and collected expression from before.
Zhang Xiaohu replied, “That’s right, he is currently in my room sleeping very soundly.”
Fourth master Wen grabbed Zhang Xiaohu’s hands and said, “Go, hurry, let’s go over and show him to me.”
Zhang Xiaohu thought secretly as he was pulled up from his chair, “Cool down, cool down fourth master, you are a manager in the station after all.”