Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
Fourth master Wen finally cooled down, he gripped onto Zhang Xiaohu’s hand tightly, rushed over to the latter’s room and when he saw Zhang Xiaohua sleeping soundly on the bed personally, he truly calmed down.
Fourth master Wen stroked the remainder of his beard and nodded his head, his smile was brilliant as he muttered, “Good, good, good.”
His response made Zhang Xiaohu confused, the latter wondered if he was happy about Zhang Xiaohua’s safety or the ten thousand taels he saved.
Upon thinking back to the thick wad of check, Zhang Xiaohu’s eyes could not help but burn, it was a huge sum of money, how good would it be if it was his? However, as he looked over to Zhang Xiaohua’s sweet sleeping expression, he felt that it was also another form of happiness which he was unwilling to exchange the money or even a mountain of gold for.
Fourth master Wen became motionless after his initial response and stood in his spot quietly.
Zhang Xiaohu did not understand the other party’s intentions so he accompanied him and stood there as well.
After half a bell of time, fourth master Wen said in an annoyed tone, “Zhang Xiaohu, you shouldn’t let me stand for so long.”
Zhang Xiaohu became flustered and hurriedly pulled a stool over, he said, “Please sit, fourth master.”
Fourth master Wen stomped his feet and said, “What do you think I meant? Would I want to sit on a cold stool in your room?”
Zhang Xiaohu did not understand the other party so he said, “Please wait, fourth master Wen, I will find a butt cushion for you.”
Fourth master Wen flared up and said, “Seeing how oblivious you are, I doubt you can read your opponent’s movements in a fight, not to mention improve your skills anymore.”
Zhang Xiaohu hurriedly stepped forward and said, “Fourth master, what do you mean, aren’t I working hard right now?”
Fourth master Wen scolded, “Since I am still waiting in your room, why haven’t you called your younger brother up so I can question him?”
Zhang Xiaohu finally became enlightened as he thought secretly, “How would I know what you want if you don’t say it explicitly? I am not a tapeworm in your stomach.”
However, how would he dare to state his thoughts aloud, so he continued to smile and said, “Fourth master, it’s not that I don’t want to wake my younger brother. Unfortunately, it’s extremely hard to wake him once he falls asleep, you can try it for yourself.”
Fourth master Wen was stunned, he said, “I don’t believe what you said.”
After finishing his sentence, fourth master Wen walked to the front and nudged Zhang Xiaohua, he said to the latter’s ears, “Zhang Xiaohua, Zhang Xiaohua.”
Zhang Xiaohua’s breathing was even and he continued to sleep.
Fourth master Wen pondered and activated qi in both his hands, he lifted Zhang Xiaohua up from the bed and shook him about. Zhang Xiaohua’s stature was already small and when he was shaken by fourth master Wen in that manner, he looked just like a toy so Zhang Xiaohu had to control his laughter.
Upon seeing Zhang Xiaohua’s unaffected response, fourth master Wen gave up and placed him back onto the bed, he returned a smile and said, “It seems that you’re right, I have maligned you.”
Zhang Xiaohu hurriedly replied, “I don’t dare, I don’t dare.”
Fourth master Wen pondered again and said, “Since your younger brother has safely returned, villa master Ou would definitely want to meet him at the soonest time possible. Tell him tomorrow morning not to go anywhere, people from the mountain villa will come over to fetch him back.”
Zhang Xiaohu nodded and said, “Alright, I understand, fourth master. I will look after him and not allow him to wander about.”
Fourth master Wen smiled and said, “Good, you can take a rest too. I will look for the guard; I can’t let him off for causing you to disturb my rest so I will instruct him to go to Huanxi mountain villa right now to pass a message.”
Zhang Xiaohu nodded but he did not dare to say anything else in fear of implicating himself.
When fourth master Wen walked to the door, he turned back and looked at Zhang Xiaohua who was sleeping as soundly as a pig, he said to himself in jealousy, “Such a happy face, it’s still better to be young. I will still choose to sleep as well as him even if you give me a thousand taels in exchange.”
After finishing his sentence, he turned around and left.
Zhang Xiaohu who was behind was still silent, he thought, “Fourth master-ah, why don’t you give me a thousand taels and I will exchange my sleep with yours.”
In the morning of the next day, Zhang Xiaohua opened his eyes and studied his surroundings, he then realized that he was in the familiar room from where he nursed his injuries before. Just as he sat up on the bed, Zhang Xiaohu who was beside immediately felt his motion and got up quickly, he said, “Are you awake, Xiaohua?”
Zhang Xiaohua smiled and said, “That’s right, second brother. Sleep more yourself, I can’t sleep anymore.”
Zhang Xiaohu was indeed tired and he lay back on the bed, he said, “Fourth master came over last night and said that he has already informed Huanxi mountain villa of your arrival, so someone will definitely come over this morning to fetch you back, and I should not let you wander about.”
Zhang Xiaohua asked upon hearing this, “Then do you know how villa master and the rest are doing now?”
When he spoke up to here, Zhang Xiaohu sat back up on the bed with a “hurgh”, stared at Zhang Xiaohua and asked, “Since you are on this matter, I have yet to ask you. Fourth master Wen said last night that you sacrificed your life to protect the villa master, and everyone thought that you had passed away. What did he mean by this? Why haven’t you told me earlier? You have to explain all this clearly to me by today.”
Zhang Xiaohua was stunned and he replied apologetically, “It’s a long story so I rather leave it for another time. Aren’t I doing well right now, I was also too lazy to explain it to you and was afraid that you would have worried unnecessarily.”
Zhang Xiaohu looked into Zhang Xiaohua’s eyes and said with a straight face, “Xiaohua, even if you did not tell me, wouldn’t I still worry when I find out about it later?”
Zhang Xiaohua smiled forcedly and said, “I understand, second brother, I will definitely tell you about this in the future, alright?”
Zhang Xiaohu pondered and said, “Forget it, you have already grown up and have formed opinions of your own. Just do what you think is right, tell second brother if you want to or keep it to yourself if you don’t wish to tell me about it.”
Zhang Xiaohua said, “You are still my second brother no matter how much older I grow, so I will definitely find you if there is anything problem I am facing, so don’t worry about it. Oh right, the villa master should be fine from what you have said?”
Zhang Xiaohu pondered and said, “She should be, or fourth master Wen would have raised it up last night as well.”
Zhang Xiaohua nodded and said, “Then that is for the best. Alright, second brother, I shall go practice my martial arts so you can go back to sleep again.”
Zhang Xiaohu hopped out of the bed and said, “I shall follow you, I can’t get back to sleep now that I have talked to you.”
Thus, the two brothers walked one in front of the other towards the field in the escort station.
The carriages that returned the night before were still parked at the side of the field, and there were few people training since it was still early in the morning. Zhang Xiaohua felt pleased when he saw this, even though he thought that his dipper heavenly fist was perfect, it was not a fist martial art that was passed down from elsewhere, so he would feel uneasy when other people watched him perform this martial art which he tailored specifically for himself.
Zhang Xiaohua found an empty spot and took up his position, he followed the routine of the dipper heavenly fist and began to execute each stance one after the other. Zhang Xiaohu was the same, he practiced the most familiar sixth fist from the beginning to its end, and after he was done, he sighed in delight, “As the saying goes, life is in exercise, this is no lie at all.”
He turned his head and saw that Zhang Xiaohua was still practicing his fist martial art, and when he saw the stances that flowed smoothly from one to the next, he guessed that the latter’s self-created martial art must have been completed. Unsurprisingly, he found six stances that had many similarities to the sixth fist and he thought secretly, “Xiaohua’s martial art is so strange, it has been changed so much and yet can still be linked so flawlessly from one stance to the next, such a rare find indeed.”
The stranger part was before Zhang Xiaohua finished his practice, Zhang Xiaohu found himself wondering how many fist martial art stances were incorporated into this martial art. When he observed carefully, he realized that Zhang Xiaohua was practicing the whole cycle again and again.
When the number of people in the field started to grow, Zhang Xiaohua finally completed nine cycles of his dipper heavenly fist and the warm sensation appeared in his body again and flowed throughout his body. Zhang Xiaohua then stopped his practice and when he saw his second brother watching him, he ran over to the latter’s side.
Zhang Xiaohu saw his younger brother running towards him and asked in a confused tone, “Xiaohua, do you practice like this so diligently every day? How many times do you practice each session?”
Zhang Xiaohua smiled and said, “Not many, just nine times, any more would be useless.”
Zhang Xiaohu did not pay any particular attention and he commented, “As the saying goes, overworking is bad, you have to be mindful of yourself.”
Zhang Xiaohua disagreed and said, “Sometimes I would practice nine sets of nine for a total for eighty-one times, what can this count as? My breathing is even and my face is not flushed so can’t you tell that I am not worked up at all?”
Zhang Xiaohu wanted to persuade Zhang Xiaohua more but he thought back to the time he only practiced the sixth fist martial art when he would practice the same fist martial art over and over again, so he did not say anything else.
At that moment, there were many people in the field and as the two brothers walked slowly while in conversation, they heard a familiar voice just as they reached the courtyard entrance calling, “Zhang Xiaohua, it’s really you.”
Upon hearing the voice, Zhang Xiaohua turned back in surprise and called out, “Squad leader He, you’re still alive?”
When Zhang Xiaohu turned around, he saw squad leader He Tianshu from the herb fields in Huanxi mountain villa running towards them.
He Tianshu’s was full of joy as he ran towards the brother, but he frowned immediately upon hearing Zhang Xiaohua’s words and said, “Zhang Xiaohua-ah, why can’t I be alive since you are alive as well?”
Zhang Xiaohua’s face flushed a deep red as he replied, “I have not seen you all for a long time and not heard of any news about you, so I naturally feel happy now that you are in front of me.”
He Tianshu stroked Zhang Xiaohua’s head lovingly, he smiled and said, “It’s alright, Zhang Xiaohua, why would I mind?”
After finishing his sentence, he turned to Zhang Xiaohu and said, “Zhang Xiaohu, we have met before. I am He Tianshu from Huanxi mountain villa. The villa master was surprised when she received fourth master Wen’s message yesterday and she instructed us to come over early in the morning to fetch Zhang Xiaohua back, do you…..”
Zhang Xiaohu smiled and said, “Fourth master Wen had already informed me last night, you can bring him back to the mountain villa now.”
He turned to Zhang Xiaohua and said, “Xiaohua, you have to be more mindful of your own safety in the future, and avoid situations where you think might be dangerous.”
Zhang Xiaohua smiled and said, “I understand, second brother. Oh right, don’t you want to know what happened as well? You can come over to the mountain villa with me since elder sister villa master will definitely want me to explain it to her.”
Zhang Xiaohu pondered before shaking his head, he said, “Forget it, the escort team has only returned last night so there must still be many tasks to do today. We can talk about it later after I settled the matters over here.”
Zhang Xiaohua was surprised but he did not insist and bid Zhang Xiaohu farewell before following He Tianshu out of the escort station.
Zhang Xiaohu saw his younger brother slowly disappear before turning back towards his own room, he took out the five coins and pieces of silver from the money pouch and went to the bookkeeper’s accounts room, passed the money to the sleepy-eyed bookkeeper before heading off for breakfast and joining the rest to unpack.
After Zhang Xiaohua followed He Tianshu out of the escort station, he saw a dull and large horse carriage on the other side of the street which was at least twice as large as the previous carriages he took before. Zhang Xiaohua was frozen on the spot, and at the same moment, the curtain of the carriage was raised by someone inside and a clear voice sounded, “Xiaohua, hurry and come up.”
Zhang Xiaohua squinted, wasn’t it Qiu Tong?
Zhang Xiaohua called out, “Elder sister Qiu Tong, you have come as well?” as he ran over to her.
When Zhang Xiaohua got on the carriage, He Tianshu followed right behind him.
Zhang Xiaohua’s first sentence was, “Elder sister Qiu Tong, this carriage is really big.”
Qiu Tong smiled and said, “That’s right, this is the carriage used by the young mistress, but we took it out today specially to fetch our great benefactor.”
He Tianshu also smiled as he said, “We could also take this carriage by basking in your glory.”
Zhang Xiaohua felt slightly embarrassed, he said, “Its nothing, elder sister Qiu Tong. You all treat me well everyday so this was something I should have done.”
He Tianshu shook his head and said, “Sigh, this is also what I should have done but was unable to do. Zhang Xiaohua, I am really at a loss on how to praise you, you have exceeded our expectations this time round.”
Zhang Xiaohua responded modestly before continuing to ask, “Oh right, squad leader He, what shall we do in the future? I still would like to know how elder sister Ou is doing right now.”
He Tianshu smiled and recounted the events that occurred after Zhang Xiaohua lost his consciousness in the river.
When Zhang Xiaohua learnt that Ou Yan was fine and the black clothed people did not pursue them, he patted his chest to show his relief while Qiu Tong smiled and said, “It is all thanks to you.”
Zhang Xiaohua was surprised, he asked, “I was in the river, how could I be of any help?”
Qiu Tong smiled and said, “The black clothed people did not know that you fell into the river. You could kill their boss with just a thrust of your sword, and their boss was the most skilled expert in their midst, so they were naturally frightened of you and did not dare to pursue us any further.”
Even though Zhang Xiaohua was still young, he knew his limitations so he said, “Elder sister Qiu Tong, you are speaking too highly of me. I think that those black clothed people were more afraid of the arriving reinforcements instead.”
He Tianshu interrupted, “Forget it, everything has passed anyway and who knows what they were truly feeling then? That we are all back safe and sound is what that truly matters.”
Zhang Xiaohua seemed to recall something as he asked, “Oh right, squad leader He, do you know who are the black clothed people?”
He Tianshu wrinkled his brows and said, “I am not sure, I have passed this matter to the disciplinary hall in our sect, but am unaware as of the specifics of the progress in their investigation.”
Zhang Xiaohua nodded and did not spoke any further. Actually, he had a vague idea in his heart that since the other party had appeared to kill Ou Yan, they must have some confidence in either executing their mission or hiding their identities successfully.
Qiu Tong was still worried for Zhang Xiaohua’s injuries so she could not help but ask about it.
Zhang Xiaohua smiled as he replied, “I was knocked unconscious by that elder and only woke up again after a ten days plus later. I am already healed fully by now, see, I even practiced a little of my fist martial art earlier.”
Upon hearing this, Qiu Tong felt slightly more reassured but she said with still some lingering concerns in her heart, “We dispatched many people to look for you later on but to no avail, who knew that you would have reached the town that was close to the sea? Our estimations were too far off, and the young mistress kept on thinking that you might…”
Zhang Xiaohua opened his mouth and tried to explain but He Tianshu raised his hands and said, “Let’s not talk about this now, the villa master will want to know about it as well later on. You can save yourself the trouble and explain to us at the same time.”
Zhang Xiaohua said cheerfully, “Squad leader He’s words sound right, elder sister Qiu Tong can listen later.”
The horse carriage moved stealthily but quickly, and not long after, it reached the side door of Huanxi mountain villa. The number of guards at the door has increased and the inspection process was more careful, the passengers still had to be checked even though they were using the villa master’s carriage before they were given passage.
The carriage entered the mountain villa and did not stop until they reached the courtyard where the party began the journey from before.
This place was close to the inner courtyard, and with Qiu Tong’s lead, the three passed through several courtyards to the main hall in the inner courtyard.
There were no other people in the hall apart from elder Yu who was accompanying Ou Yan in a conversation. While Zhang Xiaohua was following Qiu Tong to enter the hall, Ou Yan was looking outside continuously as though she was anxious to meet him again.
When Zhang Xiaohua entered the all, elder Yu and Ou Yan both stood up. Ou Yan walked briskly towards Zhang Xiaohua, and how would did latter dare to let her come to him? He hurriedly walked over to her as well and called out, “Elder sister Ou, are you well?”
Ou Yan’s smile was like a blossoming flower as she looked towards Zhang Xiaohua and said, “I am doing well, Zhang Xiaohua, what about you? Let me see how serious the injuries on your body are.”
After finishing her sentence, she pulled Zhang Xiaohua’s hand looked at his front and back. Zhang Xiaohua smiled and said, “They have recovered long ago, elder sister Ou, don’t worry, I still have a long life ahead of me.”
Upon hearing his reply, Ou Yan said, “Then that’s good, we were worrying about you all the time and wondering if you had…”
Like Qiu Tong, she did not finish her sentence.
Ou Yan let Zhang Xiaohua be seated before she asked him about the circumstances after his injury.
Zhang Xiaohua pondered for a moment before recounting the events following his injuries, when he was saved and nursed back to health, searched for a way back and coincidentally met the people from Lotus escort including his second brother before following them back to Pingyang city.
However, he did not mention Master Jing Xuan and little Meng’s name, as well as the events in the mountain cave. Master Jing Xuan had reminded him time and again not to reveal her name, while the mountain cave was a chance encounter which he did not put much significance to, which is why he did not raised these matters up.
Everyone was tongue-tied after hearing Zhang Xiaohua’s experiences, Zhang Xiaohua’s encounters were wildly out of their expectations, he actually floated that far downstream and even met a family member at such a far off place. They were surprised because despite his severe injuries, Zhang Xiaohua was still able to hold on to his life as he floated that far downstream, and could still come back fully recovered then.
Ou Yan and elder Yu initially wanted to ask more about master Jing Xuan but Zhang Xiaohua had already promised the latter not to reveal her identity, and she was also his benefactor so he was even more insistent to keep her secret.
Integrity is important in the Jianghu world, so everyone did not pursue the matter any further.
Elder Yu suddenly asked, “Zhang Xiaohua, can you let me see your small sword?”