Husband and Wife to Battle – Hell on Earth
“You take left; I take right. You think you can handle it?!” asked General Manager Bai
“Yes!” answered Lord Zi, fists clenched and high in energy.
I learnt General Manager Bai was among the best in the imperial palace in terms of martial prowess. As such, she occasionally taught Lord Zi some skills. Technically speaking, you could argue she was his part-time shifu. I finally understood how Lord Zi ended up with his skills all over the place. To elaborate, General Manager Bai possessed a wealth of knowledge and learnt complex styles. Therefore, she chose to teach him simple skills. He had his potential and innate brute strength to credit for his skills.
Since the two of them were on the same wavelength, I’d only ruin their chemistry if I interfered. Hence, I rooted for them from the sidelines. What else could I have offered when General Manager Bai remarked, “You? Don’t get in the way. You might be worse than Lord Zi.”
General Manager Bai’s left and right strategy was sagacious. When they sprang, she deliberately positioned herself behind Lord Zi a small step for two reasons. One, she could get a clear view on the enemies from the rear, making it easier to protect him. Second, since he obstructed the enemy’s line of sight, she could leverage the momentary lapse to subdue the enemy.
Although Lord Zi never trained his internal strength, he was fast on his legs. By the time the enemy detected them, he already aimed a fly kick at the enemy’s temple with his right leg. By no means did his successful attack invalidate my statement the enemy was decently tough. The enemies were merely caught, because the duo launched a surprise attack in a place they perceived to be safe. The five didn’t let the situation impact their skills.
The enemy raised his arm to guard Lord Zi’s kick then borrowed the momentum to switch his guard to a leg grab. Finding himself in a pinch right off the bat, Lord Zi looked to me for assistance. General Manager Bai zipped past the enemy; none of his allies saw her knock him out, but I did. When she zipped past, she landed three precise finger stabs at three acupuncture points. In terms of finesse, it could compare to Tang Ye’s often-used Flower Wheel Fingers.
The five were skilled. Unfortunately, it wasn’t their day. General Manager Bai smoothly transitioned into her next attack and then the next, dispatching the remaining four swiftly. None of them had the chance to call for help.
Once the fighting was over, Bai Lian glanced back to me to flaunt her accomplishment. The duo then gave each other a high five to celebrate. However, she quickly realise her behaviour was inappropriate; hence, she wore on her straight face again: “Lord Zi, this is an exception; there will not be a next time. In the future, you will be a prince and ev-. In short, you must be mindful of everything you do.”
Lord Zi listened to Bai Lian’s lecture obediently. Only to then turn around and poke his tongue out at me similar to a kid caught doing something he shouldn’t have.
“Now, pearls and whatnot,” remarked General Maanger Bai.
Bai Lian opened the chest and confirmed the items matched the list of missing items from the imperial palace. There were, at least, a third of the stolen items on the list in the chest. Eyebrows together, she exclaimed, “This criminal must be punished.”
General Manager Bai sounded unusually livid. She squinted as part of her thinking routine. I think she was thinking about how to send all of the culprits to the room that took men’s rod of bliss. She had the type of eyes that made her look cute; however, the ideas she came up with always sent chills down spines. She turned her attention my way: “Hmph, damned man, get over here.”
“Hey, Lord Zi, Sister Lian is calling for you.”
“I called for you, Ming Feizhen!”
“I know, far out. I was just trying to improve the atmosphere,” I said to myself. And so, damned man went over to await a scolding and reported, “General Manager, this humble one is present.”
Bai Lian pointed to the chest with her chin: “Carry it. We’re leaving.”
The chest had to be, at least, dozens of kilograms. I froze in place and questioned, “Carry it? Me?”
“Who else? Me?” responded Bai Lian, sounding as if it was a given. “Lord Zi is still young. You’re a man and tall. Who else do you expect to carry it?”
‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, stop right there. This is outright bullying! We’re in enemy territory; they could catch us any time. You even said my skills are horrendous! How am I supposed to run while carrying the chest if they catch me?!’
Well, General Manager Bai didn’t care about, so… what could I do but go along with her command? I patted the chest to see how thick it was. Then, I wrapped my arm around and lifted it up onto my shoulder. Bai Lian indifferently applauded me: “You’re quite strong. Next time, you c-“
“That wasn’t me. I said you c-“
“Grab me firmly!”
Embarrassed, I inquired, “Wh-Where?”
Bai Lian went red in the face: “That wasn’t me! That’s not even my voice.”
Maybe tilting my head to fit the chest on my shoulder messed with my brain, thereby causing me to blurt exactly what was on my mind next: “Oh, true. General Manager Bai’s voice is soft and sweet. Your voice is more girly than a girl’s if you don’t control it. You’re right; that wasn’t your voice. Your voice sounds much better.”
General Manager Bai’s face turned as red as a ripe tomato. Her captivating eyes were shrouded in a mist. She stuttered, “Wh-What are you talking about?! Wh-Who said that?!”
Bai Lian gave up confronting me in the end to head in the direction the voice came from. There was something unusual about the voice, because Lord Zi didn’t hear it. Put another way, it wasn’t very loud. Only adepts who had trained their internal strength could hear it. As such, the speaker didn’t speak to General Manager Bai or I, which also implied we weren’t busted. Nevertheless, since General Manager Bai left, Lord Zi and I had to follow her.
The farther we went, the louder the voice sounded; however, we heard other voices, as well. I discerned over twenty different voices. I saw Bai Lian spacing out in front of a narrow iron prison where the voices came from.
“Ah, ah! I want powder! I want powder!”
“Pinch me! Strangle me! Hit me! Don’t stop! Stop this darn itch!”
“Kill me! Kill me now!”
There were over twenty fighters from Earth Sector incarcerated behind iron bars. Judging from their clothing, they were villagers, both women and men, who consumed five stones powder for the fights in Earth Sector. From what I could tell, they were suffering from consuming five stones powder. One of its side effects was inducing an excruciating itch. Some of them were half naked. Some had scratched their faces until they bled. They rolled around and cried in agony.
One the villagers with his mind still intact got on his knees and kowtowed repetitively: “Sir, Sir, we do not want money anymore. Please release us. We will not ask for money again. I will do anything, but please give me some five stones powder. I cannot bear it any longer.”
Heart wrenched, Lord Zi nodded: “We’ll think of something. Shifu, Sister Lian, let’s help them.”
I spun my brain cogs. Once the side effects kicked in, they were brutal. They either continued to consume and build up their addiction, or they consumed the antidote; the latter was the only escape. I, honestly, couldn’t find it in my heart to just turn my back on them. I considered finding an opportunity to concoct an antidote and come back to treat them. In saying that, General Manager Bai was unusually quiet.
“… They say one goes to hell after death, woefully crying their days away for eternity…” remarked General Manager Bai, breaking her lengthy silence. She trembled gently. She bit down on her lip hard: “Is this place hell? Who is the son of a bitch who came up with this place?!”
*I don’t know how much of a misunderstanding it can be interpreted as in English, but the “Grab me” part is the same word as “grope” (Chinese). I’m the innocent type, so I’m not sure if it’s sufficiently misleading in the translation.