Valley of Yearning (Part 2)
“Mount Daluo’s eternal enemy!” Hong Jiu poked his head out of the carriage. “Ehehe, may I ask what your grudge with Mount Daluo is? You are after them, as well?”
Guan Ning’s two seniors surveyed Hong Jiu’s face. “Ah, so that’s how it is, Brother Guan?”
“Aha, ahaha, yes, yes, I should’ve spoken faster. The three of them are enemies of Mount Daluo. The pugilistic world calls them, uh…” Guan Ning didn’t have qualms lying to outsiders, but he had yet to master the art of lying to his fellow disciples, so he sent Hong Jiu eye messages.
Receiving the distress call, Hong Jiu said, “The three of us weren’t acquainted before this. Two years ago, we were eating noodles on Subei Road, when we ran into Mount Daluo’s shameless Lian Zhuiyue. We didn’t say or do anything to him, yet he kicked the person he was duelling with into our table. We never saw it coming. As a consequence of the impact, my brother here lost his hair. My sister here bleeds monthly. I… It pains me to mention it, but the crash stuck a curse on me. Ever since then, I burn my mouth eating cakes, choke when I drink water and break the loo even when I made sure to bring paper. It has been a tragic two years.”
Hong Jiu’s heart rate didn’t rise. He didn’t trip on his words once. He didn’t bat an eye.
“In the pugilistic world, they call us, uh, ‘Bits and Pieces’.”
Suffice to say, Master Qi wanted to bludgeon Hong Jiu for the daily-life-inspired nickname.
Guan Ning’s brothers sighed. “We had no idea you are our family. From now on, you are our family. Brother Guan, bring your friends along. Shifu and Shiniang are bound to like them. May we ask for your names?”
Before Master Qi could argue, Hong Ji answered, “My name is Hong Ji. In the middle is Yu Sui. The lady is, uh, Gou Sheng.”
“You’re the dog scrap!” thundered Master Qi.
Hong Jiu quietly stressed, “I’m injured. I’m injured. I’m injured…” Once Master Qi backed down, although huffing and puffing through her nose, he smiled and continued, “There’s another member in our group named Ming Ling, but he’s not here with us at the moment.”
Fang Xiaoyu didn’t want to tell people he was a Shaolin disciple, but it was harmless for him to hide the fact. Mount Tianshan and Valley of Yearning never cut into each other’s lanes, so Master Qi didn’t have any reason to hide her identity. As such, having them suddenly assume new identities increased their likelihood of blundering. For that reason, they refrained from speaking at all.
Master Qi stealthily pinched Hong Jiu’s thigh ruthlessly. The gazes of Guan Ning’s brothers that she interpreted as, “It’s a shame that such a nice girl is called Gou Sheng,” impelled her to pinch even harder.
Whilst resisting the pain radiating from his thigh, Hong Jiu kept smiling as he conveyed, “While we have been on the run recently, we had the honour of befriending Brother Guan. He invited us here to recover out of the kindness of his heart. Had it not been for our conditions, we would not impose on you.”
“Hahaha, it is our duty to help those in need. Please don’t feel bad. Hop off the carriage. As it is difficult for horses to traverse the path ahead, we will transport you with a mule cart.”
One of them helped lead the horse, while the other cleared a path. Master Qi was taken aback at how friendly the two were; however, the main thing that stuck out to her was how they made a decision without notifying their seniors. Coming from a big sect herself, she wouldn’t do that. In contrast, Hong Jiu cheerfully thanked them as Master Qi and Fang Xiaoyu helped him down.
Fang Xiaoyu and Master Qi were shocked to see the state of Hong Jiu’s shirt. Anyone experienced would immediately recognise that Hong Jiu’s injuries were fatal if they espied his shirt. Accordingly, Master Qi went to deploy some sophistry, only to hear one of the disciples say, “Brother Hong, your injuries are quite bad. Let me take you to my shifu.”
The two disciples helped Hong Jiu up onto the mule cart, while Guan Ning, Fang Xiaoyu and Master Qi walked.
It didn’t take long before they came across several more disciples of Valley of Yearning. Once he heard the two disciples’ brief summary of the events, one of the guards gazed at Hong Jiu with concern and conveyed, “Within a vicinity of fifty square kilometres, only my shifu and shiniang could treat your wounds. Hurry on!”
While the level of enthusiasm didn’t raise Hong Jiu and Fang Xiaoyu’s eyebrows, Master Qi felt uneasy.
Guan Ning queried, “Where is Shifu?”
“If you asked that question yesterday, we wouldn’t know how to answer. Since returning from the Western Regions yesterday, he helped Shiniang search for something. Right now, he’s at Dry Flower Valley.”
Dry Flower Valley was located just beyond ten kilometres from where they were. Since Guan Ning knew the way, he led Hong Jiu and company there without his seniors. Even up to the last moment, Guan Ning’s seniors pestered him to rush Hong Jiu to their shifu.
Once she believed the disciples were out of earshot, Master Qi asked, “What’s the deal? Is every member of Valley of Yearning a god guy?”
Hong Jiu: “Let me tell y, argh!”
After she punched Hong Jiu in the face, Master Qi smirked. “I dare you to speak again, Brother Hong Ji.”
Holding his face, Hong Jiu replied, “Didn’t you ask, Sister Gou Sh-”
“Hmph. Xiaoyu, you speak.”
Because he was in the middle laughing at the comedy, Fang Xiaoyu almost choked as he went to clear his throat. “My knowledge can’t compare to Brother Hong’s because what I know is simply what I’ve read. According to my knowledge, Valley of Yearning’s disciplines focus on turning emotions into skills, so they let their emotions lead them. By the same account, rather than selecting disciples based on physical potential, they prioritise character. Through repetition of this process, they have built a sect where everyone looks out for one another and dislikes quarrels.”
Guan Ning: “Ehehe, that’s not entirely true. Before anything else, our patriarch’s temper is the most important factor. My shifu is nice, so his disciples follow in his footsteps. From what I know, we had a patriarch who was obsessed with fighting at one point, which resulted in the disciples of that generation frequently pursuing fights. If my memory does me justice, that was when we were ranked first among the Seven Champion White Princes.”
They picked up the scent of flowers as they came closer to an area where tall trees slumbered. Beyond them was a spacious world of flowers, butterflies and running water that calmed the soul.
“Bai Clan sure knows how to enjoy life,” remarked Hong Jiu.
Master Qi was visibly fond of the flowers in the valley. “I hear Bai Clan’s Bai Sanlang is one of the most handsome men in all the land. I dare say the rumours are true based on how this garden is managed.” She asked a bare-footed farmer, “Mister, may I ask if Bai Clan’s patriarch is here?”
The elder turned around. “You’re looking for me? Oh, you’re finally back, Ning’er.”
Guan Ning elatedly saluted the elder. “Your disciple’s respects, Shifu!”
Hong Jiu, Master Qi and Fang Xiaoyu: “Say what?!”
Bits and Pieces – The name is literally translated as “Chicken and dog bits and pieces”, which consists of four characters. Hong Jiu swaps out part of their names for one of said four characters for their names – with the exception of Master Qi, who received an entirely original name.