Husband and Wife to Battle – An Idea Sparked
Bai Lian didn’t see the bloody scene, for Ming Feizhen covered her vision. She shut her eyes behind his hands; slowly but surely, she calmed her emotions down. Every breath she took felt as though a long time passed. The villagers cried mournfully, but she gradually blocked them out. Once her true qi calmed down, she regained control and could bust her mental plateau.
Mental plateaus usually took more than two to four hours to overcome. It took her an entire day when she ran into her first one. Strangely, she was able to control her true qi with absolute precision this time; it was the equivalent of controlling it with ten times of her current proficiency and having her shifu guiding her by her side. She couldn’t explain the phenomenon. Regardless, she needed to capitalise on the opportunity. If it didn’t take too much time, she could reach unchartered territory. As such, she allowed Ming Feizhen to hold her close enough to hear each other’s heart beats clearly. Whenever she felt cold somewhere, she would reposition herself to close the space.
With General Manager Bai in my embrace, I steadily transferred my true qi to her in order to help her regulate her own. We were in the same position for a long time. I wasn’t sure what to make of hugging her. First and foremost, the top of her head came up to only my eyes. I had no idea how she managed to keep herself so clean all the way out here, but her hair smelt irresistible; make that her entire body. Her body was also as soft and light as a young girl. That didn’t change the reality that she was a eunuch, though!
Once Bai Lian calmed down, the red in one of her eyes faded away. Her internal energy was visibly purer. Upon opening her eyes, she gave me an unfriendly look: “What are you doing?”
It was awkward to say the least. I hugged her as tight as if I was afraid she’d disappear. Lord Zi covered his eyes. Bai Lian’s gaze reserved for me was frigid as though she was looking at garbage, while my hands on her…
‘Hey! If you weren’t… You’d be dead from qi deviation!’
I cleared my throat: “I thought you were cold…”
Bai Lian coldly responded, “You done molesting me? Can you let go now?”
“Why would I ever molest you?! Don’t go acting smug just because you smell nice, feel soft and feel great to hug! I did not hug you on purpose!” was what I thought, but my hands couldn’t let go right away.
Bai Lian: “What do you want now?”
Me: “My arms are numb…”
It wasn’t on purpose. It was hard to stay in that position for so long, okay?!
Bai Lian looked at me with a violent gaze. Suddenly, she said, “Whatever… Just stay there, then.”
Lord Zi and I: “Eh?”
Lord Zi: “Sister Lian has mutated!”
I was equally surprised: “You’re not going to hit me?”
“You like me hitting you that much?” asked Bai Lian, eyebrows pinched together. She seriously didn’t push me away. She calmly added, “You’ve already hugged me for so long, so a little longer won’t make any difference. I want to save them.”
I could sense Bai Lian’s determination of steel in her final declaration. The villagers were the ones who stirred her emotionally. Obviously, then, the desire was important to her. Lord Zi also nodded: “Indeed. Indeed!”
Bai Lian looked at me the way a kid throwing a tantrum would: “Are you joining me or not?”
What could I do? I smiled: “If we’re going to rescue them, I want you to hear me out first.”
General Manager Bai and I returned to Heaven Sector’s ring half an hour later. The audience was high as usual. Rabbit Fiend greeted us with tears, because imagine what two people could earn given what Bai Lian alone earned him. He cried: “Brother Hu! Brother Hu! My brother! Thank heavens you two are finally done resting! This way, this way, please. The opponents are nothing impressive; you two will win effortlessly!”
I spotted Lu Shangfei, who was at Heaven Sector to select three adepts. General Manager Bai and I took to the ring together. Her performance earlier in the morning had the audience in uproar. Since she had improved since then, nobody was her match.
I practically strictly evaded until I reached the perimeter of the ring and waited to find my opponent off balance so that I could easily nudge them out of the ring. My unorthodox movement and lack of offensive skills led to me creating an upset. Whenever it looked as though I was doomed, I’d reverse the tables. At first, my strategy scared Rabbit Fiend out of his wits. Owing to my consecutive wins, however, he was grateful I earned him so much. The only thing he had yet to do was kiss me.
General Manager Bai covered her mouth with her sleeve and backed off: “The eight characters of your horoscope sure is a curse. Don’t ever visit me unless it’s important. It’s not a new year yet. If you visit me, I might end up unlucky for the entire year. I certainly don’t want that.
‘You’re cute, but who you calling a curse?! It’s called unfathomably profound martial arts skills!’
I accidently made eye contact with Lu Shangfei. He gave me a respectful smile, but I felt he was signalling he was recruiting me.
After an hour of back to back wins, someone reported in. Rabbit Fiend’s eyes darted back and forth, for the joy of winning money went to hell. He mulled on the report before approaching Lu Shangfei to discuss it. Lu Shangfei was also shocked to hear the news except to a lesser extent. Once calm, he said something to Rabbit Fiend. As soon as I finished my fight, I went over to the duo: “Brother Tu, what’s wrong? This is?”
Rabbit Fiend was on edge, but he couldn’t lash out at me, his money maker. In an irritated tone, he answered, “This is Boss Lu, one of the shareholders of Feiyun Hall. He is my master’s old friend. Boss Lu, this is Brother Hu. They call him and his wife Shaanxi’s Mandarin Duck Blades. They are experts with blades. Uh, yeah, good blade skills. You two have met.”
Though anxious, Rabbit Fiend did introduce us properly. Lu Shangfei, to the contrary, wasn’t anywhere near as edgy; he had the luxury of time to greet me. He held his hands in a cupped fist salute with a smile: “You truly are as striking as the legends state, Brother Hu. I am humbled. Coincidentally, I have recently opened a small Shanxi eatery at Wuhua County. I was thinking about asking an expert on Shanxi pastries to give it a try. Would you be interested?”
Lu Shangfei spoke in a friendly tone. It lacked the hearty tone those in the pugilistic world conversed in; it was more refined and sincere, giving the impression he genuinely respected the person he spoke to. Given those points, in addition to his status at Feiyun Hall, it would be odd for me to reject him. Hence, I pretended I was touched and went with my original plan… I wiped my drool: “Shanxi pastries? Such as?”
Then, I thought, “Wait a second. Why are we discussing food again?”
Lu Shangfei smiled: “We have everything we should have. As long as you request it, we will see that it is done.”
It was obvious Lu Shangfei wanted me to join him. I pondered, “Yang Lianhua was the one seeing three adepts for an assassination mission. Rabbit Fiend is his subordinate, yet here is Lu Shangfei trying to snatch Rabbit Fiend’s candidate right under his nose. He’s not recruiting me for Yang Lianhua’s job but a long-term plan. I presume this means they’re about to go to open hostility. That fits my agenda perfectly.”
Due to the sudden indirect praise I was showered with, I replied, “You are too kind, Boss Lu. I am an uncivilised individual. Heh, heh, I came here merely to earn some small change. I am nowhere near as impressive as you suggest.”
A look of delight flitted across Lu Shangfei’s face upon hearing my primary interest was money. I had yet to showcase anything, but he already saw Bai Lian’s exceptional skills. As such, if we were easy to recruit, he couldn’t be any happier. Rabbit Fiend, on the other hand, wasn’t too happy. He was far from being an idiot; Lu Shangfei’s intentions were apparent. That being said, Lu Shangfei and Yang Lianhua were possibly on equal footing as shareholders. Thus, Rabbit Fiend couldn’t make an issue out of it. That didn’t stop me from responding seriously: “It was all thanks to Brother Tu that I was able to come here. It is a privilege to demonstrate my skills and earn money from it at the same time. I could never forget Brother Tu for fulfilling my lifelong wish.”
Rabbit Fiend perceived General Manager Bai and me to be mere pawns in his money-making scheme. Being crowned our benefactor was immensely useful to him. Smiling smugly, he said, “Brother Hu, you are family. There’s no need to thank me. If you run into any trouble, mention my name. Nobody at Feiyun Hall would dare to disobey me.”
“Thank you, Brother. You truly are my blood brother,” I said.
Seeing an ace leave him just when he thought it in the bag, Lu Shangfei hurriedly said, “Ah, you wanted a platform to show your skills, Brother Hu? I see. There are different types of matches here. True adepts only join the competition in the evening. The pay is several folds higher. Unfortunately, one cannot enter without permission. If you are interested, I can act as a middleman; I can permit you to fight at night. I guarantee you will be famous after one fight.”
The offer was appealing, but Rabbit Fiend fumed, “It is not time to be engaging in idle chatter. Boss Lu, if you wish to speak to Brother Hu, speak later. We need to sort out business first.”
“What has you two so uptight? I do not carry much weight in the pugilistic world, but loyalty is absolutely important. As friends, how about telling me?”
Rabbit Fiend froze. He then said to Lu Shangfei, “Brother Hu could help out…”
Lu Shangfei: “I don’t know if your master…”
“Brother Tu, you are not treating me as family,” Noticing Rabbit Fiend was in a dilemma, I pressed on. I revealed a straight face to express my displeasure: “I must have been mistaken we were friends. I shall show myself the door.
“It is not that I do not trust you. It just so happens to be it is very secretive,” said Rabbit Fiend, catching my arm when I bowed out. He checked around: “I was planning to trouble you with this. Our fighters at Earth Sector… have gone missing for some reason. It’s no big deal if they go missing underground, since our underground area is enormous. The guards could drag them back. Nevertheless, we do not have power over all aspects of Feiyun Hall. We only operate these two areas. If those vill-, ahem, fighters run off somewhere else, it will take a long time to relocate them. The problem is the competition is starting soon…”
“I see.” I thumped my chest: “Leave it to me. It’s nothing major. Even if I cannot help, my wife certainly can. Leave it to us.”
Rabbit Fiend cheerfully replied, “Thank you, Brother Hu. I must take care of finding the, umm, competitors. I am leaving this place to you!”
I responded, “Be it water or an inferno I must enter, I will not refuse.”
Grateful, Rabbit Fiend kept prattling on about me being his brother. He wiped his tears and hastily left.
General Manager Bai and I knocked out the imprisoned villagers and took them to the airway storehouse. I predicted they would lose their cool.
Once Rabbit Fiend left, Lu Shangfei gave me a smile, and I responded in kind. He said, “Brother Hu, do you happen t-“
“I know where your brother is,” I interjected with a smile.
Lu Shangfei’s smile froze on his face.