Husband and Wife to Battle – Flying Snow Stunning Green
General Manager knocked several times, but nobody opened up. I watched with my arms folded until I was eventually fed up: “Underground fighting is forbidden. They won’t open up so easily.”
“So, help out.”
I shrugged: “It is your job. Also, I’m not good at knocking on doors when I know nobody will open. So, please help yourself, General Manager Bai.”
The door was locked tight. By the looks of it, nobody had visited the place in ages. If I was correct, the entrance was elsewhere. I looked up at Feiyun Hall. The place wasn’t particularly large. It occurred to me that it wouldn’t be an ideal place for large-scale fights. Additionally, I couldn’t hear a thing from within, which was odd.
General Manager Bai eventually wore on a straight face and fumed, “If you won’t open up, I’ll open it my way.”
General Manager Bai threw a heavy impact palm at the old timber door, snapping the timber. She gave me a smug smirk: “Hmph, tell me why we need to find another way in again.”
‘You know that’s called trespassing on private property?! I don’t even have my Liu Shan Men token with me. What are we supposed to do if someone reports us?!’
General Manager Bai ran in without any regard for commoners’ logic.
As per the outside, the interior appeared to have been abandoned ages ago; there wasn’t a soul in sight, either. The interior was as small as I surmised from the outside. If it was a martial arts club, it must’ve been a miserable one. In no capacity did it resemble the place where the corrupt or thieves dwelled.
I suppose General Manager Bai was unlike her usual aloof self because she never left the imperial palace before. The number expressions she showed were sparse, but she resembled a child on an exploration adventure. She’d look at something then turn back to me and called me over. This time, she said, “Hurry, hurry. Your qinggong is poor, and you walk slowly, too?”
“I’m trying to be quick, you know? This place is tiny. One glance and you can see everything there is to see; what’s the rush? General Manager Bai, are you sure this is the right place?”
“I can’t be mistaken. This is the secret report His Majesty’s entourage submitted.”
“Enlighten me. Where are the fighters, then?”
“Umm…” General Manager Bai had to agree I wasn’t wrong.
General Manager Bai leapt up onto the roof without making a peep or kicking up any fragments, demonstrating practiced qinggong skills. I wasn’t sure what the limit of her skills was. She seemed proficient in every facet of martial arts. However, she wasn’t a hand style expert in various styles as Tang Ye was. I speculated she had yet to reveal her best skills. For that reason, I couldn’t tell what her style was. Well, I could hardly recognise any style, anyway…
Bai Lian surveyed the area below. In the end, she was disappointed: “Besides this place, it’s just more residential homes. This is all there is t-, wait… Something about the buildings is strange.”
General Manager Bai leapt down and puffed her cheeks: “This place is the main building. The dozens of other residential homes are linked up in a straight line with only a wall in between. It’s… resembles a single large abode split up instead of each house being built independently. Ming Feizhen, you might be correct; the entrance might actually be elsewhere.”
“In other words, the residential places around here are suspicious?”
“Exactly,” replied General Manager Bai, rubbing her hands as a sign of fascination. “Since we found something, let’s get going.”
‘Oi, oi, oi, don’t wear that ‘I’m not afraid of a fight’ expression! The people dwelling nearby are citizens. You can’t go searching every property! There’s bound to be someone on surveillance. By the time you find any clues, they’d have run off with everything already, my goodness gracious! That’s it. I can’t trust anyone but myself.’
I folded my arms and moulded energy to my ears, enhancing my hearing. I could hear conversations, people eating and laughter in the neighbourhood.
Bai Lian glanced over with a bewildered look: “What’s the matter? Something wrong?”
I nodded with a smile. I focused in to sift through the noise for relevant information until the conversation between a man and a woman caught my attention.
Woman: “Dear, do you think you can win?”
Man: “The fucking peasants are usually wusses, yet they’re unbelievably tough out of the blue. I have no clue what their deal is. Honey, don’t panic. We can use weapons in the underground circuit. Worse comes to worse, we can amputate one of their arms. They wouldn’t know shit about blade weaponry.”
Judging from the exchange, I was sure I found my target, so I continued listening in.
Woman: “Okay, your call. However, we’ve fought two bouts without any rest in between. Not to mention you took a blow for me before. Are you all right?”
Man: “I know what I’m doing. The next fight will be two versus two. You take the left, and I take the right. As I said, we can resort to using our blades if need be. This place is home to adepts in hiding. If outsiders see us lose, everyone would laugh at us, Shaanbei’s Mandarin Duck Blades, for losing to backwater people.”
Woman: “Dear, I’m sure you can win with your skill.”
Man: “Heh, of course you’d know how skilled your husband is. You sexy little thing, you want to test my skills here, too?”
Woman: “Stop it. There are people waiting.”
Man: “Wifey, it’s been a long time since w-“
I nodded with a squint. The man walked the same path as my shifu. Tell me what sort of couple would have a tryst in a room in broad daylight if they didn’t have a record for cheating.
Bai Lian came over, since I didn’t respond to her. She poked her head around to the front: “Ming Feizhen!”
The sudden scenery and character change startled me.
“What?! Who are you?! What do you want?!”
Bai Lian: “What’s the matter?”
“Eh? Eh? Eh? Oh, nothing. I didn’t do anything!” I exclaimed with both hands up to prove my innocence.
Bai Lian mumbled, “You’re always been a peculiar one, but you’re even weirder today.”
“Whatever do you mean?”
Imagine your wife catching you flipping through your intimate art magazine. That was how I felt…
“Are you coming or not?” asked Bai Lian.
“Wait. I mulled on it and realised there’s more to it. Follow me.”
I led confused General Manager Bai to an underground storehouse. Seeing the storehouse confirmed my suspicion. The storehouse was made from pure brick, so it was sturdy unlike the main door. The place didn’t stand out; however, if you meticulously inspected the entire building’s design, you’d notice it actually stuck out. In addition, the voices I heard came from the storehouse. Worth noting was I had to resort to Yijin Jing to hear them, indicating the walls were ridiculously thick.
“This place… is bizarre. They constructed it using different materials. I have the impression they emphasised safety to protect something. This storehouse is too small for a ring fight, having said that…” stated General Manager Bai. Admittedly, she was considerably perceptive to be able to discern the difference with a single glance. After further scrutinising, she remarked, “Feiyun Hall is hidden beneath this storehouse?”
I smiled: “General Manager Bai is most wise.”
With a blush, Bai Lian replied, “Hmph, you’re the one who noticed. Don’t give me credit where I didn’t earn it. I’m not the vain type of eunuch.”
I smiled as a modest man would: “May I ask how you could tell Feiyun Hall is underground, then?”
“Are you done mocking me?!” fumed Bai Lian. “There’s a big chimney at the top when it’s not necessary. That means this place is used to provide oxygen to the area below. I’ll be damned if the ring isn’t underneath. Hmph, immature!”
‘What are you angry about?! How was I supposed to know?! I was busy listening to the sensual conversation. How do you expect me to notice a chimney? Why would I ask if I knew?’ Sheesh, you’re a fierce cat. Whoever you m-, gets married to you. Wait. I give up. But what is with my stinking luck…?’
General Manager Bai glanced at me out of her peripherals then ignored me. She knocked on the bricks to find a way in. If it was an airway as she claimed it was, there wouldn’t be a way in. There were no windows, meaning the exit was elsewhere. In the end, she shook her head: “The entrance isn’t here… Ming Feizhen, back off a bit.”
I noticed Bai Lian look decisive for once. I responded, “Huh?”
“Move. Keep standing there and I won’t hesitate to go through you.”
General Manger Bai took in a deep breath and clasped her hands together. A faint, calm blue energy resembling sword aura, except that it was harder to perform, appeared at the tip of her fingers. Only adepts possessing immense control over their internal energy could perform the feat. I was thoroughly impressed her internal energy was so potent when she wasn’t even twenty yet.
General Manager Bai wore a cold expression. The blue energy from her hands covered her entire body; she churned up so much energy her sleeves fluttered when there wasn’t the presence of a wind. The sky-blue energy shrouded General Manager Bai’s hand.
“Flying Snow Stunning Green!”
General Manager Bai struck with her sleeves in tow, landing two palm strikes sequentially on a single spot! If she hit a living person with that force and the cold qi in the blue energy, they’d be history on the spot. Despite her heavy blow, the wall didn’t even budge; it wouldn’t be far-fetched to think the wall absorbed all of her force.
The attack drained General Manager Bai, evident from the sweat on her forehead. She slowly pulled her arms away from the wall. There were cracks on the wall where her hand landed. She breathed out and said, “This wall is made up of several layers of different bricks. I managed to break halfway through, but I can’t get any deeper. We’re going to need some other tricks if we want to break it. I say we start with the residents.”
*Mandarin Duck Blades – This is possibly a reference to Jin Yong’s wuxia novella of the same title – it’s also known as Blade-Dance of the Two Lovers – in 1961. Fun fact: if you read it, you will notice how tremendous the differences in themes are from then and now in Chinese fiction.