Striking Broadsword Wielder (Part 2)
The man sporting black attire and a bamboo hat coldly split the table before him without direct contact when he slashed down at it, and then he sheathed it before flicking his sleeve as stylishly as he could to flaunt his speed. “Ladies and gentlemen, what do you think of my gloomy broadsword wielder with a cold blade image?”
Shen Yiren: “… Bed time, everyone. We have to get moving tomorrow morning.”
Everyone else familiar with Emperor Yuansheng’s antics: “Yeah, let’s go.”
“Wait! We’re not done! Yiren, what do you think?”
Shen Yiren looked back at the fragmented table on the ground and responded, “Remember to leave compensation for the table.”
“I didn’t even touch it, though. The blade’s qi is to blame.”
Shen Yiren squatted down to grab a section of the broken table and studied the cut. “Uncle, for your image’s sake, I shall not tell them you chopped their table apart and then glued it back together. Having said that, you still must pay the village chief for damages.”
Emperor Yuansheng faked a cough: “Does nobody have the refined taste to fathom the beauty of my image? Xiao Han, you have something to say?”
Su Xiao pursed his lips and wrinkled his nose as he approached. Pointing to Emperor Yuansheng’s belt, he questioned, “Elder Huang, can I have my weapon back yet?”
“Do you think I would make off with your weapon? Hey, wait! Don’t snatch it! Three days! Okay, two days! Lend it to me for just two days! Hey!” Upon losing Ancient Cold, Emperor Yuansheng griped, “Moral degeneration is real… Ahem, uh… I’ll role play as an elite broadsword wielder until we set out. It’s a pity I won’t have a chance to display my brilliance. I plan to restart my old career. Any thoughts? Siming?”
Luo Siming replied, “All of the broadswords among Luo Sword Manor’s provisions were given to the Qilin Guards. Nobody in the retinue uses broadswords, so… how you will pose as a broadsword wielder?”
“It’s fine. I have Purple Forbidden Enclosure Dragon Slayer.”
“You… realise it is a sword, right?”
“I do. So?”
“Never mind. I am just traumatised whenever I am reminded of Brother Ming’s inability to distinguish between the two.”
“Oh. Reflect on yourself, then. Brother Bodhi.”
Although Emperor Yuansheng claimed he wanted to repay Abels for defeating Luo Ming, it was Reverend Zha who defeated Luo Ming. Therefore, Abels was technically bestowed honoured-guest treatment without rhyme or reason. Emperor Yuansheng didn’t treat Abels as a vassal for the latter was the uncle of Tiezhen Kingdom’s ruler, so a guest of honour was the next most acceptable decision. Addressing Abels as a brother was befitting for Emperor Yuansheng was a tad older.
“What do you think, Brother Bodhi?” Emperor Yuansheng enthused, overflowing with confidence.
“Brother, Li, pardon me for being candid… You are putting yourself on a pedestal.”
Emperor Yuansheng crouched down and started drawing circles on the ground.
Shen Yiren grumbled, “Uncle, can you cease this? If you do not have any legitimate issues to address, we will dismiss ourselves.”
“Okay, okay.” Had it not been for his slicked-back hairdo, Emperor Yuansheng would’ve been more convincingly serious when he got back up. “We can put my broadsword wielder character aside for the meantime. What I want to stress is that we rushed our trip. Despite having split our escort into different teams as per Brother Bodhi’s suggestion, we have only discussed what to do in the face of danger and our roles in battle. We have to hide our identities whilst fighting off problems. On top of that, it will take us nearly a month to reach our destination. If we do not draw up proper profiles, everything else will be a struggle.”
Shen Yiren opined, “You are right. Without proper profiles, people outside of Jiangnan will suspect us of posing as merchants.”
I’m so glad. Yiren really is the only one who understands me.
“This is why I have been tirelessly toiling away at this ‘Character Database’ – codename: Dapeng to the South’.” Emperor Yuansheng chucked a small but extra thick book down. “Please examine it.”
There was only one copy, making it impossible for an entire group to read at once. Thus, Shen Yiren cleared her throat and read out, “Story setting: Yizhen Company h-”
“Stop! Stop! Stop!” cried Song Ou. “What is this Yizhen Company business?!”
Emperor Yuansheng reproached, “Will you quit yapping?! Why are you interrupting a perfect reading? I came up with the name. It’s an auspicious name. We owe a lot to Constable Ming for our success, and Yiren is the one I trust most here. The name is fine. You can criticise, but the name will stay as it is.”
Shen Yiren couldn’t continue reading once steam started coming out of her head, so Emperor Yuansheng took over.
“In the last four-odd decades since Yizhen Company’s inception, three owners have operated it. Mr. Ming Feizhen, who left home due to his strained relationship with his father, has been the chairman for the last three years. Owing to the economic decline taking its toll on Yizhen Company, the company has decided to take the risk of delivering goods to Xiuyu City. The company has invested all it has in this gamble. Therefore, they do not have the capital to hire a reputable escort. As a last resort, they have brought everyone in the company and home along to make up the numbers…”
Emperor Yuansheng even wrote elaborate profiles for everyone.
Chairman Ming Feizhen: Fifth son of wealthy businessman Ming Daming in Luoyang. A glazy glutton who failed to achieve anything noteworthy after pocketing money to purchase the company and now needs to take this risk in hopes of staying afloat. He has en elder brother accompanying nicknamed Second Fifth Son.
Su Xiaoxiao: Chairman Ming’s mistress who was a former famous hooker in Suzhou. She has no redeeming qualities other than her pretty face. To put it into perspective, she is so stupid that she has forgotten she is a woman.
Tang Ye: Chairman Ming’s distant cousin suffered a serious fever when he was a kid that did a number on his mental wellbeing. Because he bites people whenever he has a lapse, he needs to be isolated and is named Ye Bei.
Song Niaoren: Chairman Ming’s useless elder brother, who is trusted with security of their goods. The reason for not sharing the Ming surname is because he is Ming Daming’s illegitimate son. Since he is technically Ming Daming’s fifth son, he is referred to as Second Fifth Son.
Long Gundan: head of the guard unit of a small escort company in Huzhou. Due to unspeakable reasons, he must piss off, hence the name Gundan.
Tie Hanyi: also known as Ol’ Tie, a lousy miscellaneous worker at the company.
Ye Xiaoluo: Chairman Ming’s personal maid – in more ways than one.
Luo Zhu’er : another one of Chairman Ming’s personal maids and reportedly in an ambiguous relationship with Su Xiaoxiao.
Luo Xiaoming: artisan responsible for fixing the company’s carts and carriages.
Li Fangzhang: a mysterious, striking broadsword wielder who chose to lend the company a hand after hearing of their plight.
Abels: “Brother Li.”
“Yes, Brother Bodhi.”
“Ah, I shall be more modest.” Raising his voice once again, Emperor Yuansheng resumed, “This is just my general idea. I am still deciding on the details. We shall leave personal stories for later. Our priority is to sort out your relationships. I have not yet mentioned Brother Bodhi…”
“You are unquestionably the coach.”
River Monster looked up, ready to stick knives in Emperor Yuansheng, compelling him to immediately elaborate, “And my younger brother, Li Bodhi. You are the coach, while I am Chairman Ming’s bodyguard. Since we are close in age, nobody should catch anything as long as we are conscientious.”
Accompanying a fist-palm salute, Abels expressed, “It is my honour.”
“Now, for my precious daughter. Yiren is about the right age, so it’s not convincing if she’s not married.”
Everyone: “Indeed, even Su Xiao has gotten married.”
Su Xiao: “You’re married to dogs! I’m a man!”
“Yiren is most suited to play the role of a wife, but I have not figured out how to arrange her role, so let’s go with what makes sense.” Emperor Yuansheng cast his gaze over to Song Ou. “Her role would fit with Song Ou’s.”
Song Ou nodded profusely.
“But you two are only engaged, so it’s inappropriate for him to stay with her at night. Given there are over a thousand people travelling together, rumours will inexorably rise and damage her reputation.”
“Fret not, Your Maj-”
“What did you just call me?” Emperor Yuansheng questioned with a frown. “How many times have I stressed for everyone to be careful?! Are you being dismissive?!”
“Eld-Elder Huang, this one has been taught etiquette for as long as he can remember and is a gentleman whom respects them. Besides, there are no opportunities for him to step out of line. Being the victim of physical assault is not enjoyable in any shape or form!”
Shen Yiren yawned: “Take your time. Just tell me what you decide tomorrow. Bye.”
“Wait,” called Emperor Yuansheng. “We haven’t decided who you are staying with yet.”
“Does not make any difference to me.”
“Okay, where will your husband sleep?”
“In the snow outside of my door.”
Emperor Yuansheng pressed a hand on Song Ou’s shoulder: “The journey ahead is long. Stay strong.”
After musing over it, Emperor Yuansheng picked up his book to pen down Song Ou’s name since he couldn’t think of anyone more suitable, when he heard, “Wait, Hero Li.”
“Hero Li” was the equivalent of an aural orgasm for Emperor Yuansheng, evident from his prompt salute: “Please speak, Vice-Captain Long.”
Song Ou’s eyes stretched as wide as they possibly could.
Long Zaitian placed his hands together in a prayer and saluted everyone around: “In my opinion, the rumours are of no consequence. Although we have over a thousand people travelling with us, we are not operating together and are focused on our individual tasks. Additionally, we are all loyal, and loyal men can discern what they should and should not say.”
“Hmm, you make a good point.”
“In saying that, my concern is not without reason.”
“I don’t understand.”
It dawned on Song Ou that he was in danger when he met eyes with Long Zaitian. Long Zaitian then wasted no time opining, “Talk is cheap in this day and age. Think about it: a self-proclaimed gentleman sharing a room with a beautiful woman every night. If it was a man who respects her and is sharing a room with her for legitimate business, then it is of no concern.”
“What do you want, Long Zaitian?! What are you trying to insin-”
“Second Fifth Brother, don’t interrupt me. Let me finish explaining to Hero Li.”
Hero Li voiced, “He has a strong argument. Let him finish.”
Long Zaitian continued, “If it was someone close, such as a fiancé… I am just making an example, not singling out anyone, if anyone feels I am attacking them, it is only a coincidence. So, what I am saying is, her fiancé, the sick-”
“Long Zaitian!” erupted Song Ou.
“I meant” – Long Zaitian pushed Song Ou back with his fan –“the man in the example. My bad. Imagine this man spending every night by Miss Shen’s bed, every night yearning for her, believing she will be his future wife, believing they will be living under the same roof and harbour indecent thoughts, one or two nights might be fine, but a month… There is no guarantee he will be able to resist his urges. There is no guarantee he will not spike her drink one night and rock a carriage. By the time you wake up in the morning, we will find a corpse on the ground. Nobody can guarantee this will not happen, can they?”
“How dare he?!” Emperor Yuansheng couldn’t imagine Song Ou enacting the proposed scenario when the latter flinched as soon as he looked over. Having said that, Long Zaitian had a point. “Is it really that big of a deal, V-, I mean, Guard Captain Long?”
Long Zaitian, fanning himself, rhetorically asked, “What happened when Sun Wukong was stationed as Protector of the Peaches?”
“Convinced.” Emperor Yuansheng turned over the page with Song Ou’s name and then stopped to think. “… I know. This is perfect.”
“You are most wise! Thank you for your grace, Hero Li!”
“No need for thanks. Ol’ Tie is perfect!”
“Ol’ Tie is unwaveringly loyal to me and upright, so there is nothing to worry about.”
“But… But you have to consider his appearance. Do you think it is appropriate to put someone who has a face resembling a dog’s bitten toy next to Miss Shen?”
The unwarranted low blow that came out of nowhere had Tie Hanyi flapping his eyelids.
“The fact that he is still not married at his age is all telling. Is this not tantamount to trusting a dog with guarding, uh, what was the word you used?”
“Please keep it down, or Miss Shen will have me sleep in the snow tonight.”
“I guess you have a point… According to you… this person who is handsome enough to fit Yiren…”
Long Zaitian inhaled to inflated his chest.
Emperor Yuansheng whacked the table: “Siming! Siming is upright, honest, can withstand his primal urges and has a good reputation.”
“Hero Li, can you not see how he feels about Miss Shen?”
Emperor Yuansheng had noticed Luo Siming stealing glances at Shen Yiren for some already but just didn’t point it out.
“Ahem, mm, good point.”
“Besides, trusting him with Miss Shen is tantamount to, uh… trusting Ming Feizhen with protecting pork at a pork banquet.”
“Hmm… True that… Wait, who did you just say?”
“No, I did not mention Ming Feizhen.”
“You have a point!”
“Stop! Hero Li, I did not mention Ming Feizhen. I mentioned me, Ol’ Long!”
“Perfect! Yiren is Ming Feizhen’s superior, so he wouldn’t lay his paws on her. Plus, he’s too weak to beat her. As well…” Emperor Yuansheng nodded with confidence in his judgement, “The company name fits perfect! Okay, Ming Feizhen it is!”
With one final stroke, Shen Yiren’s profile was complete.
Shen Yiren: Chairman Ming Feizhen’s main wife.
“In saying that, my concern is not without reason.” – The second part in Chinese is conveyed in an unconventional way, which is why Emperor Yuansheng doesn’t understand it. It’s one of those times where vagueness and unconventional grammar makes it hard to understand.
Sun Wukong was stationed as Protector of the Peaches – Long-story short, as the guardian, Sun Wukong (in Journey to the West) soon realised the effects of the immortal peaches if they were to be consumed – over 3,000 years of life after the consumption of a single peach – and consumed one. The rest is a story for another day.
Long Zaitian saluting everyone with his hands together – This is an ancient way of saluting people, and the term is no longer used. You’ll only come across the term if you read transcriptions of ancient texts, some wuxia novels or palace novels (it’s rare even among them if you’re reading webnovels), so don’t expect native speakers, who don’t consume those reading materials, to know what the term is; they should recognise the salute if they see it, though.
Men place their hands together before their chest and bow their heads a tad. Women place their right fingers up and left fingers down on the right side of their waist, bending at the knee. The salute is used more when there are lots of guests/visitors. Regardless of gender, you must salute the east, south, west and north.