Flying Fish Pavilion and the Beautiful Young Girl
“The Duke of Jing has arrived! Sir Yu from the Ministry of Rites has arrived! Sir Qi from the Ministry of finance has arrived!”
The ministers of the imperial court strolled in one by one after their arrival was announced loud and clear. They wore cheerful looks. They looked like they didn’t come to watch a martial arts tournament but to attend a wedding celebration.
Well it wasn’t surprising since it was the finals of the imperial martial arts tournament after all. Officials who don’t hold ranks high enough don’t even have the right to get a glimpse of it. It was considered a great honour for officials who could watch it for the first time.
The large plaza called the Flying Fish Pavilion was a place designated specifically for the royal family to enjoy martial arts contests and similar events.
The title “flying fish” is the title the founding emperor bequeathed the founder of Liu Shan Men.
The founding emperor possessed great martial prowess. Not only did he possess profound martial arts skills, he also had a very heroic aura and thereby managed to bring together many strange men.
The three greatest fighters who served him were bestowed the titles: flying fish, ying long and Qing Lin. The three of them went on to become the three founders, and their reputation was passed down to the next generations. The “ultimate three” trio in the imperial court became a thing since their time.
It’s said that the three of them fought for three days and three nights to determine the number one fighter in the world back then at the flying fish pavilion. But it wasn’t until they determined the victor that it got the name flying fish pavilion. Besides determining the strongest fighter of the time, who was Flying Fish, the Qilin Guards, as well as the emperor’s security detail and Liu Shan Men were also formed.
From then on, the flying fish pavilion which hosted the historic battle became favoured by the royal family. From then on, they chose to host martial arts fights there.
The descendants of the founding emperor inherited his passion for martial arts. Aside from watching, they wouldn’t hesitate to go down into the ring to try their hand at it. It’s said that the current emperor also liked stories of people going into the pugilistic world to make a name for themselves and was addicted to stories of ring-fights. Now that he was older, he behaved more stably; however, his interest for ring-fights was just as strong as when he was younger. Every now and then he would ask the warriors of the imperial court or even warriors in the palace to show off their skills at the flying fish pavilion.
The emperor sat with his empress, consorts, concubines and princesses on the tower as they watched the fights and enjoyed tea. The twenty or so seats below were reserved for the invited retainers. Next to the emperor was a eunuch who commentated and added to the entertainment.
A betting zone was allocated below and the retainers were busy putting down bets for their fighter of choice. While they couldn’t gamble with real money, they could at least use objects as gambling chips. Those who were invited into the imperial city to spectate the fights were either high-ranking retainers or relatives of the royal family. Therefore, the bets were big. Nobody dared to not bet since they were worried they’d ruin the emperor’s mood.
The emperor managed gambling very well. He didn’t allow retainers to dodge gambling debts and he didn’t allow the contestants to hold back.
Such small martial arts contests were sometimes conducted once a month.
I heard the eunuch on duty say that Long Zaitian once fought a Jia level warrior on orders of the emperor. The emperor then quickly took the item that the empress gifted him as a sign of their love, which also happened to be unimaginably valuable. It was an eight white jade bead crown and he used it to bet on Long Zaitian losing. When it got placed on the table, Long Zaitian misunderstood that the emperor was hopeful of him, punched his opponent which infuriated him, and then the entire venue went dead-silent…..
It was a gift from the empress, and it was a crown for god’s sake. Would you dare to take it if you won the bet? Fortunately, the empress paid money to buy it back afterwards, otherwise the retainer that won the bet and Long Zaitian would be haunted with fear for the rest of their lives. I heard that the emperor was forbidden from entering the harem palace for seven days afterwards, but that’s just hearsay……
In any case, it’s become a norm here for an audience to sit around spectating while enjoying tea whenever there are people squaring off here. So I guess you could say the flying fish pavilion was the ultimate teahouse upgrade! But it was different today. You could tell with one glance at the grandeur around.
Before me right now were four rings. All of them were larger than a ring from the preliminaries and a ring from the semi-finals combined. Based on my count, the base was built on nine thousand nine hundred and eighty one wooden stumps, which supported the stone material above firmly. It was thick and sturdy. It didn’t move so those with strong internal strength wouldn’t have to be worried about stamping too hard. On top of each of the large wooden stumps were layers of timber and smothered in a layer phoebe zhennan coated in tar oil, so it was tougher than gold and iron. As such, you should know that even if a fighter was to possess internal strength, equal that of masters, not even one-tenth of the energy would be transferred to the people close by if they were to fight on those rings. And since there was a sculpted piece of art of a dragon and phoenix on the phoebe zhennan, which was amazing, if somebody were to accidently bump it over, they would have shattered the porcelain of the previous dynasty.
I’ve only seen a ring which could stop the power of a fighter like this twice. Once was when my shifu took me to the west to expand my horizons. The westerners have abundant mines so they love to use gold and iron. The other time was when I was play-fighting with the Shaolin abbot and a skilled fighter from an evil sect at the Shaolin temple. There’s a pure zen stone platform at the Shaolin temple. We exchanged ten palm strikes with each other on top of it. I blasted my power around randomly. Abbott Kongxu smiled as though our hearts were interlinked, and the skilled fighter from the evil sect struck intensely on his third strike, but nobody below the platform got hurt.
Now you should know why the ring is crafted in such a complex way.
The first reason is because that the skilled fighters would manoeuvre a lot like the wind and there wouldn’t be enough room for them. The second reason is because the force behind their strikes could splash onto the audience, thereby injuring them. The spectators were all fragile old men. Nobody would want to have to take responsibility for it, so it was better to be cautious. Thirdly, which is also the most important reason, is because weapons were permitted in the finals. Weapons had to be checked by the eunuchs in the palace and then pass through all the checks at the various city gates before they could be sent to the ring.
There were many contestants in the semi-finals, so there was a bigger chance of an accident happening if weapons were to be utilised. However, there were only thirty-two people in the finals, so there were only thirty-two sabres at best. Given the smaller number, the chances of an accident could be minimised.
Take a look around. There are over a hundred guards from the Qilin Guards and the emperor’s security detail combined guarding the venue. If any of the thirty-one other people present had ulterior motives, they’d be mince-meat before they could reach the emperor. Heck, they’d be served up as a piping hot meat-stuffed dumpling, and it wouldn’t take any effort.
What? Why are there thirty one?
That’s because I’m among the thirty-two contestants. If I were the one to make an attempt on the emperor’s life, what would be placed before the emperor wouldn’t be thirty-one dumplings, but two hundred pork shoulders.
Speaking of which, I’m a little worried about Su Xiao. How are Su Xiao’s martial arts skills any different to the spectators below? If it wasn’t for Liu Zi giving him the win, he wouldn’t have qualified to be here……. I’m not so worried about him losing, but about him getting hurt badly by his opponent up there. Su Xiao arrived as I thought about that.
“Big Brother Ming!” His beautiful, smooth forehead was scrunched up. He looked angry like a mouse that just ate, “You! You played me and then ran off?! What sort of man are you?”
I suddenly noticed all the gazes around focused on us. I quickly shouted in the direction of those bastards: “Ears! Pinched ears!” They all showed their disappointment with their gaze and took their focus off us.
I could occasionally hear their whispers.
“What a plague. He doesn’t even dare to make a move.”
“Pinched his ear? How disappointing.”
Disappointed your fucking ass! What were you all hoping for?!
Bloody Su Xiao! He’s getting better and better at screwing me over without me even noticing. If I wasn’t use to this shit, I’d fall for it again.
While Su Xiao had arrived, I didn’t see General Manager Bai with him. Fair enough, I guess. She’s not as free as us. She should be busy with matters in the palace today and unable to come.
I waved my hand and greeted him: “You’re late. We were about to begin drawing lots for our opponents.”
“You don’t say! It’s all your fault! You left me behind with that vixen. I argued with her for ages before I could come here.”
You argued again?
These two people met for the first time, so why are they on such bad terms? Could it be that they hate each other for being sharing the same gender tastes?
“What did you argue with General Manager Bai about this time?”
“Move over, I want to sit too.”
Su Xiao was angry but he seemed tired from the running. He sat down and moved over towards me. I was sitting on a stone step, so I could only fit half a person next to me. With my build, there was nowhere left to sit once I sat down. Su Xiao didn’t care and forced open his own space. His vixen-like body leaned onto my chest but he didn’t seem to mind. He shifted back like a kitten. He leaned onto me and you could imagine what his white jade like neck and back were like. Because he leaned onto me, I could smell the faint flower scent on him.
“I’m exhausted.” Su Xiao’s face was reddish. It looks like he was afraid of arriving late and ran hard. You could see his slender legs through his pants which proved they were firm and smooth. Su Xiao kicked his feet like you would when performing a backstroke, which was very much like a young girl.
How does this punk always manage to cross over the gender boundary so effortlessly?!
I resisted the urge to peek at his jade-back and closed my eyes. I kept repeating in my mind that he was my good brother and that I couldn’t look, amitabha, amitabha.
But it was hard to erase the bad thought. Left with no choice, I posed like Guan Yu stroking his beard and sternly said: “Hmm, why did you two argue? It is easy to resolve the animosity between enemies, but not easy to become enemies in the first place.”
“Hahaha.” Su Xiao burst out laughing, “What are you doing? Are you pretending to be Guan Yu? I’ll be Cao Cao then, alright? Look, look.”
Su Xiao acted like Cao Cao in stage plays and pulled a face. He looked very cute with his smiling eyebrows. This punk is like a kid. It took just a tiny bit of effort to make him forget about his anger.
“So what did you argue with General Manager Bai about? You had to have a reason, right?”
To be honest, General Manager Bai doesn’t have a personality issue. It’s just that she doesn’t know how to interact with people too well. Why did they argue when Su Xiao’s got such a talkative personality?
“You still talking about that?!”
Su Xiao frowned again and pouted his mouth.
“If you’re going to help her, don’t talk to me ever again.”
*Phoebe Zhennan is a large species of tree up to 30 metres (98 ft) tall in the Lauraceae family
*Guan Yu was a general serving under the warlord Liu Bei in the late Eastern Han dynasty.
***Cao Cao was a Chinese warlord and the penultimate Chancellor of the Eastern Han dynasty.