The Eight Realms (Part 1)
Unlike his weak subordinates, the gang leader still had it in him to careen down the stairs and shout, “You win for now, wench. Just you wait. You think us Heisinas are pushovers? I’ll turn your bones into a cowl, your flesh into food, your tibia into clothes, and your pelvis will be used to give birth to my strong offspring…”
Su Xiao couldn’t even feel offended owing to the nature of the threats. He was going to finish off the gang leader when he heard the girl sobbing.
What if one of these gangsters here harms her after I chase their leader?
Due to Su Xiao’s brain stutter, the other leader made it to the door, continuing, “I’m going to call for backup. I’ll crush all of you tomorrow!”
Perhaps the leader really did have more to give because nobody dared to stop him in spite of him wobbling.
Su Xiao wiped his blood and scanned the floored men prior to asking, “Can I please trouble someone to report to an official? Just tell them ten-odd gangsters have been caught here.” Switching to a soft tone, he then inquired, “Miss, are you all right?”
The ladies of the men staring at the girl, who embodied “adorable” to the max, grabbed their men by the ears and dragged them off. On the other hand, Su Xiao spaced out as he stared at the girl, feeling she was familiar despite it being their first meeting.
“Mother?” Su Xiao uttered.
The girl juddered and stopped crying. Can anyone blame her for reacting that way to the rather “unique” way of hitting on a girl?
“S-sorry. Are you all right, Miss?”
“I, I… Had it not been for you…”
Su Xiao draped his coat on for the girl since most of her clothing had been torn off. She finally broke down and hugged him tightly as she wailed.
“I only wish I could’ve come to your aid sooner. Don’t be scared. When we get to the magistrate office, just be honest. I am familiar with the procedure, so don’t worry about a thing.”
“Young Master Su!”
The two jealous, competitive heroines still sounded as if they were in competition when they arrived on the scene. The two were searching blindly for Su Xiao until they heard people clamouring about a fight at the restaurant and saw the bald leader hurtling.
“Are you all right, Young Master Su?”
“Xiao, what happened? Why did you get into a fight?”
Su Xiao’s earnest recount failed to elicit any reaction from the two heroines for they were solely focused on the extra vixen in his arms – “extra” because the other was their existing competition. Su Xiao and the girl instinctively released each other to appease the two heroines. Only then did Luo Mingzhu notice the event on Su Xiao’s forehead. “Y-Y-Young Master Su! How come you’re bleeding so much?”
“Who hurt you?!” Ye Luo swept up a gangster, then dished out a four-hit slap combo. “Were you the one who hit him?”
A man, who had yet to catch his breath after Su Xiao folded him, wasn’t going to be able to talk when his face now resembled a contorted balloon.
Although it was only a skin-deep wound, Luo Mingzhu’s handkerchief was dyed red, and there was no telling if a scar would blemish Su Xiao’s forehead. Hence, she snatched the gangster from Ye Luo and rammed her fist into his face enough times for him to inwardly swear he’d turn over a new leaf.
“Sister Ye, Miss Luo, this is nothing. Just rub some saliva on, and I will be fine.” Su Xiao tore off some of his sleeve to use as a bandage over his forehead. “Done, right?”
Says who?! You’re supposed to apply ointments and herbs to wounds! Who taught you to rub saliva on wounds?!
Ming Feizhen, Shen Yiren, Tang Ye… It wasn’t hard to guess who taught Su Xiao to rub saliva on his wounds. Was guessing” even warranted?
The local guards finally arrived to take in the thugs, but they let Su Xiao and company go without any questioning as the gangsters had run-ins with the law so often that the guards didn’t need a testimony to lock them up.
“Keep celebrating while you still can. You’re all dead meet tomorrow, and I’ll have the last laugh,” a thug taunted as he was taken away.
Ye Luo unleashed a vicious backhand at the gangster’s jaw, breaking it. “Laugh? Show me how you’re going to laugh.”
And thus, everyone but he had the last laugh.
The quartet left the restaurant for alcoholics to chat at a teahouse. The girl had nothing in common to talk about, not that it mattered since Ye Luo and Luo Mingzhu were preoccupied with nursing Su Xiao’s wound.
Making sure to sit still, Su Xiao requested, “Miss, there is just us four now. Could you please recount what happened?”
As someone very reticent, the girl was tense around the strangers and timidly answered, “Y-yes. Three years ago, my father and I came to Xiuyu. My father sells wine to make a living. I went out to replace him in hopes of making money for his medication because his back is too sore for him to get out of bed today. I didn’t expect…”
“So you’re not a local?”
“No, I am from the Central Plain.”
Su Xiao smiled back: “What a coincidence. I’m also from the Central Plain.”
Luo Mingzhu stopped tending to Su Xiao’s wounds to freeze the room: “Who cares?”
Ye Luo looked askance at the girl.
Su Xiao scratched his head: “This is quite the pickle. I was going to offer to escort you home. May I ask where your home is located?”
“My home is in the northeast.”
“Along the Songhua River?”
Luo Mingzhu pretended to cough: “So where do we go from here? Are you we going to see her home first?”
The girl started trembling. “Pl-please do not do that! Many people recognise my father and I. C-could you let me stay the night, Young Master Su?”
How shameless! You only just got to know him, yet you want to cut in line?!
Ye Luo and Luo Mingzhu always liked Su Xiao’s kindness, but for once, they wished he wasn’t the kind to protect a defenceless girl out of kindness.
Unexpectedly, Su Xiao replied, “I apologise, Miss, but I have business I must attend to. That being said, we will find a safe place for you to stay the night. Miss, do you know who those people are?”
“They are notorious gangsters in the city. Their gang is called Hei something. The worst of the bunch is the baldy who claims to be part of Heisina Tribe.”
“From what I know, their clan are criminals of Xiacang Anxi history. Over the last few centuries, all of the contemptible people of Xiacang Anxi are from their clan. I believe their clan leader is trying to instigate a war, which is why their name evokes fear now.”
“I’ve heard about that.” Hand raised, Luo Mingzhu expanded, “I did my homework before coming here. Centuries ago, their clan committed treason against their King, resulting in the nation splitting into twelve states. As far as I know, they still haven’t been exterminated and are still causing trouble.”
Ye Luo added, “Wait, they said they’re coming back tomorrow with people to get revenge on Xiao. What are we going to do? We can’t just leave things as they are, can we? Miss, don’t be scared. You can drive them off. Here. Take these as weapons.”
Su Xiao took the chopsticks Ye Luo passed to the girl: “They are only going to harass her again. Don’t worry about me. You saw me lay out over ten men, right?”
“I… I… It’s not like I’m worried for you… I’m just a teeny bit worried…” In reality, Ye Luo wasn’t the type to just dismiss the problem. As she recollected the injuries Su Xiao inflicted, she mumbled, “How did he do so much damage?”
The last time Ye Luo fought Su Xiao was less than half a year ago. In that short period, he had shown exponential growth, especially in the realm of internal strength as he demonstrated with the single slash that downed over ten men. Partitioning his energy through their bodies without damaging them was the hallmark of an internal style expert.
“I’ve never been able to tell if you’re skilled or not,” Ye Luo muttered.
Luo Mingzhu rolled her eyes: “The former. You blind?”
“And how do you know? How long have you known Xiao for?”
Luo Mingzhu perked her chest up: “You think Luo Clan has any incompetent disciples? Besides, he floored a group in one swing. How often do you see that?”
“Thanks, Captain Obvious.”
The two maidens started generating sparks between their eyes yet again.
Su Xiao opined, “To tell the truth, I’m not sure, either… I’d say I’m slightly better than Big Brother Ming, I guess?”
“I agree,” asserted Luo Mingzhu, despite being oblivious as to who “Big Brother Ming” referred to.
Ye Luo really wanted to say, “Silly boy, you can tell your Big Brother Ming is stronger than you from his behaviour,” but refrained from vocalising her thoughts. Even though she couldn’t ascertain Ming Feizhen’s true capacity, her experience told her that he couldn’t be weak when nothing could rattle him.
“Let’s not worry about him for now. Xiao, your internal strength should be mature by now. Which Realm do you focus on? Judging from your tremendous strength, I assume you focus on Hard Realm?”
Luo Mingzhu wrinkled her nose: “I wouldn’t be so sure about that. As long as you’ve trained enough, anyone can achieve the same feat regardless of Realms. If you ask me, his proficiency with his blade means he focuses on Edge Realm and is proficient at it, for that matter.”
“Is there anything you don’t know, Miss Know-it-all? Xiao, what realm have you reached? Perfection Level Three or Void Piercer Beginner?”
“Why do you always undermine Young Master Su’s competence? You’re already at level two of Void Piercer, so what makes you think he’s an entire notch below you?”
“Right back at you.”
As the two got into another verbal spat, Su Xiao raised his hand to question, “Um, what are these Void Piercers and levels you speak of?”
Ye Luo’s gaze told Luo Mingzhu she didn’t know what Su Xiao’s question implied, and Luo Mingzhu’s gaze conveyed the same message.
“Doesn’t everyone know what we’re talking about?”
“Young Master Su, which part did you not understand?”
“All of it,” answered Su Xiao, meekly. “I’ve never heard anything about these realms and levels you mentioned.”
Ye Luo and Luo Mingzhu: “You don’t know about the eight realms when your internal energy is so advanced?”
Su Xiao shook his head in slow motion: “I know Zhu Bajie. Does that count?”
The two heroines were too stunned to speak.
The young girl raised her hand: “I know Lao Gaozhuang!”
Along the Songhua River – Their responses to each other make up the first line of the song “Along the Songhua River”.
Zhu Bajie – If you know your Journey to the West, you should know the character and location. Now, let’s go back a little to see where these names come in.
Realm can be split into two characters or combined to mean the same thing. One of those characters is “jie” (fourth tone), which sounds the same as “jie” in Zhu Bajie. “Eight” in Mandarin sounds the same as “ba” in Zhu Bajie. Thus, “eight realms” sounds the same as “Bajie”.
Author-san really outdid himself with this one. I hope one person, at the very least, got this joke. It makes me wonder if he came up with eight realms for the sake of this joke or if it just came to him. Either way, it’s ingenious. If you know han-viet or Cantonese, you should’ve got it (Trư Bát Giới and bát cảnh giới with cảnh omitted; gaai3 in Cantonese).
Lao Gaozhuang – A location in Journey to the West associated with where Zhu Bajie descends and doesn’t function as anything more than to continue the gag.