Orchid Monarch Hollow Bamboo
There are a group of people that can be described as so.
They move around while avoiding attracting attention.
You’ll find them in temples as well as in the pugilistic world. You’ll find traces of them in the marketplace as well as the palace.
They go about their business extremely low-key. You may know of them, but you’ll be hard-pressed to state exactly what it is they’re doing. What’s even harder is pinpointing their location.
They may not do much, but when they do something, it’s always something huge. They’re usually elusive, but when they do appear, they appear in a shocking manner.
They serve the emperor faithfully and take orders from him directly.
They are the emperor’s entourage.
On a night with few stars. At an abandoned courtyard at the outskirts of Nanjing.
A tall handsome man stared into the courtyard. His surname was Tie, and his given name was Hanyi. People in the pugilistic world call him Tiexue Hanyi. They call him so as his martial arts have reached their peak. His internal energy is in a league of its own making him formidable. According to legend, a man once said that a large sabre weighing more than thirty kilograms was used to cut down on Tiexue Hanyi during his sleep. But when the blade was brought down, there was only a clang sound. The blade got chipped, but Tie Hanyi was perfectly fine.
Tie Hanyi is ranked twenty-first on Liu Shan’s Elites Rankings. He’s basically got a shoe in for the top twenty ranks to join those in the Jia level. He’s also one of the highly skilled fighters in the emperor’s security detail.
There was a young looking beauty standing next to Tie Hanyi. She had a silver bow strapped to her back and was covered with a black cloth to keep it hidden. She too is a highly skilled fighter in the emperor’s security detail. The pugilistic world calls her Ye Luo of the Silver Bow Falling Leaf. She may be young but her archery skills are incredible. She once shot through seven leaves which a single arrow, hence her moniker. She’s ranked just below Tie Hanyi on Liu Shan’s Elites Rankings at rank twenty-two.
Those in the pugilistic looked at the beautiful couple as a star of calamity though.
Those in the pugilistic world aren’t afraid of Liu Shan Men if they haven’t done any evil deeds. If they haven’t offended any officials or ministers, then they need not be afraid of the Qilin Guards. But everybody avoids the emperor’s security detail regardless of whether they’re with the good or bad sects, because they’re the plague. It’s literally like getting arrested for cleaning your own house.
The emperor’s security detail handles big cases of the royal family. When they take action, it’s out of necessity and when the fuse has been lit, meaning it’s too late to do anything. When they appear, you know that there’s going to be a downpour of blood. Even if you just happened to bump into them then, you won’t be able to escape unscathed.
Since Tie Hanyi and Ye Luo appeared, it means this place had caught their attention.
They were investigating an unsolved case, a case that was considered a cold case.
Cha Yuan was killed a year ago by the Demon Sect, but the reasons surrounding his death are unclear.
Cha Yuan was a member of the emperor’s security detail and was once in Tie Hanyi’s position. When he was still alive, he sneaked into the Orange Prince’s residence to gather evidence of his misdeeds. It always went smoothly, but he was somehow discovered during his last infiltration after handing over evidence, which resulted in the Orange Prince’s men trying to kill him. In the end, however, he ended up dying at the hands of the Demon Sect.
Tie Hanyi was once Cha Yuan’s subordinate so he wanted to find out the reason behind his superior’s death as well as find out who the culprit was. Based on the evidence thus far, he deduced that this courtyard was highly suspicious.
Everything was going to be come to light tonight.
Tie Hanyi pushed the door open and the two of them sneaked in. The courtyard was supposedly once the property of an official, but was then abandoned for unknown reasons. People rarely come by the place so it was fairly deserted.
But there was somebody there in that deserted place.
“It’s a beggar.” Ye Luo looked at the man sleeping with his head and face covered in the middle of the courtyard, and said: “Brother Tie, be careful, it might be a trap.”
Tie Hanyi too found it strange but didn’t comment. He just gave Ye Luo an order with his eyes. Ye Luo gracefully nodded and reached for the bow on her back.
“I’m going to speak to him.” Tie Hanyi took a few steps forward while Ye Luo stayed back outside the door to support him with her bow. That’s their tactic as a team.
Tie Hanyi took two steps forward. Then the shadow of a person from the roof came flying towards him like an arrow. In front of him was a punch, the wind was extremely strong, and the force of the strike was like thunder. His opponent wasn’t any less skilled than him.
If Tie Hanyi were to retreat now, the opponent would go for Ye Luo. Ye Luo may be skilled with her bow, but she was weak with close quarter’s combat, so she mightn’t have been able to fend against the attacker’s powerful attacks. Tie Hanyi paused, roared and then retaliated with his own punch.
His opponent didn’t cower, and took three punches and a kick head-on. When their fists collided, it was like two sledgehammers banging against each other which would worry anyone.
Tie Hanyi just took a small step back and stopped his body while his opponent used the Seven Stars Steps to retreat, putting a big distance between them. Tie Hanyi now saw clearly that the opponent was wearing clothing made of cloth and his appearance wasn’t anything shocking. In fact, he looked like a forthright man.
Tie Hanyi shouted: “Who are you?!” After he finished speaking, he noticed his inner breathing was slightly erratic. It turned out that he was unable to completely nullify the attacks of his opponent and had already suffered minor injuries. He finally realised why his opponent used the Seven Stars Steps. He did that to nullify the impact of his own punch.
Tie Hanyi was shook, and he sunk his breath to his dan tian: “Who are you? Why did you attack me?”
The beggar on the ground looked like he got woken up by the noise. He looked at Tie Hanyi and then suddenly shouted: “Heavens, please donate some money to me.”
Tie Hanyi has already been attacked so he wasn’t sure if the beggar was up to something: “Spare me the theatrics, who are you trying to fool? Get up!” He aggressively grabbed the shoulder of the beggar which shattered the shoulder bones of the beggar.
The beggar cried and shrieked. He was in so much pain he was in tears: “Oh my god, help me! I’m beating assaulted by an official, please help me! You can’t do this even if it’s the capital!”
Tie Hanyi was stunned. Does this beggar really not know any martial arts?
The beggar cried: “What did you hit me for?! It hurts! Oh my god! My shoulder is broken!”
While maintaining his guard against the strong man he fought earlier, he apologised: “Sorry sir, I thought you were a bad person. Please come over here so that my colleague can protect you.”
The beggar went from sad to happy. His sad face relaxed itself and he revealed an evil smile: “There’s no need for that then. I’m not a good person after all.” Tie Hanyi was alert once again. A silver light flashed from underneath he beggar’s sleeve and reached for his neck.
Tie Hanyi raised his right arm to guard himself, and when the blade made contact with him, a clang rang through the air.
The beggar continued with his evil laugh but didn’t stop. He slashed a hundred times at Tie Hanyi. His appearance was regurgitating, but his skills as a martial artist were genuine.
The strong man from before had returned and now it was two versus one. The surprise attack from the beggar threw Tie Hanyi off and he lost the advantage, thereby putting him on his back foot.
Unsurprisingly, after ten moves when the beggar had enough internal energy accumulated, he chopped at Tie Hanyi’s right arm again. Tie Hanyi couldn’t churn up his energy in time, resulting in a skin deep cut that revealed his bone. Blood from his wound spilled forth.
The strong man laughed and said: “How touching! I’ve heard your alias before. If you don’t spill a little blood, how can you live up to it?”
The beggar laughed evilly and said: “I once heard that someone tried to cut you with a large sabre in your sleep but couldn’t scratch you. Ignorant people would think that it’s the Qi Hardening Technique, but they wouldn’t be aware that not all sabres are created equal. A blade used by a farmer can’t compare to a formidable blade.”
Tie Hanyi had no time to respond. He was already in danger as is. He shouted: “Ye Luo! Fire consecutively to support me!” However, wait as he may, her arrows never came.
Ye Luo appeared after being unable to cope with her situation. She appeared with someone who looked like a teacher from the country side who appeared silently and the two were engaged in battle. The teacher looking man was wielding a sword. He was an expert with the sword. His attacks were successive and swift leaving her with no room to counter. After his first attack, Ye Luo was completely on her back foot. She didn’t have a single opportunity to even set her bow up.
Tie Hanyi and Ye Luo couldn’t believe their eyes. They were in the capital, not Heluo or the martial world in Jiangnan, places where martial arts fights are intense. How did they ever run into such powerful foes?
There were two cries as Tie Hanyi and Ye Luo had their meridian points sealed at the same time. Their bodies went numb as they fell to the ground.
Tie Hanyi roared like an injured lion: “Who on Earth are you people?!”
The strong man laughed and said: “You charged in here without knowing what this place is? How many lives do you think you have?”
What is this place?
Tie Hanyi was baffled. He raised his head to look at them but could only see the moonlight, which shone onto the pillars of the courtyard that had two phrases inscribed on them.
The two phrases were: I heard you liked to be refined. Do you not know of Orchid Monarch Bamboo?
A name which had long vanished came to mind.
“Orchid Monarch Hollow Bamboo!”
Dan tian – Loosely translated as “elixir field”, “sea of qi”, or simply “energy centre”. Dantian are the Qi Focus Flow Centres, important focal points for meditative and exercise techniques such as qigong, martial arts such as Tai Chi, and in traditional Chinese medicine.
1 Bonus Son-con Chapter
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