You’ve Finally Arrived
Master Qi stole a glance Hong Jiu’s way to see his nose wrinkled. Even if he wasn’t busy thinking, she figured she’d have to figure something out since he wasn’t in any condition to fight them. She jumped down, landing in front of the large Buddha statue. As soon as she landed, she felt a strong wind blowing toward her face, so she titled her head backwards.
“Nice head movement,” praised Gu Bushang, ceasing his offence after he missed his swing with his cudgel.
Before Master Qi could steady herself, she felt a vertical and horizontal wind wave on her skin from two broadsword swings. As there was no way she could dodge attacks that were so fast, she rode the momentum of her evasion manoeuvre to draw her soft sword from her waist. Although the sword Lady Bai gifted her wasn’t insanely sharp or anything, its flexibility made it convenient to carry. To compensate for the lack of strength it had, she used her internal strength to stiffen it and then stabbed right at the centre of where the slashes crossed.
“Not half bad.” Yu Yeshan took two steps back and stopped attacking, but he had taken a position, relative to Gu Bushang, to surround Master Qi.
Mr. Ning walked over with a hand on his beard. “May this one ask what your relationship with Mount Tian’s Glacial Sword Empress is? How shall he address you?”
Gu Bushang and Yu Yeshan both impressed Master Qi with their skills, but Mr. Ning impressed her significantly for with his ability to recognise her affiliation from the single strike she performed. Based on their skills and knowledge, there was no doubt that they were respected in the martial world. The reason for a bunch of strangers from different regions – save for the Liaodong man and Mr. Ning – convening in Hangzhou, and in a place associated with Jiang Chen, raised questions.
Following some pondering, Master Qi answered, “You can address me as you fancy. I’ve been exposed already anyway.”
“It is understandable for you to hesitate. This one apologises for the thoughtless question. Howbeit, it is of great importance for us to know the purpose of your visit at this time of the night. Do please tell us,” conveyed Mr. Ning.
Besides the woman who seemed defenceless, everyone else in the hall didn’t look weak. It was impossible for Master Qi to fight her way through, meaning her only option was to buy time for Hong Jiu to call for help.”
Master Qi cracked a grin. “I also want to ask you who you are to question me. You a monk’s relative?”
“And if this old one is?”
“Strange. I met several monks earlier in the day, but he never mentioned having so many non-monastic relatives. What is the purpose of my visit, you ask? I could ask you the same question. I think we should call the head monk over before we continue.”
All of them pulled their brows together.
Mr. Ning smiled. “You wield words very skilfully. We have important business here. Though we cannot divulge details due to various reasons, none of them include illegal activity. We are not criminals. Can you answer the question now, Miss?”
Master Qi cackled behind her hands. “Why should I tell you when you won’t tell me? Besides, if it’s legal for you to be gathering here in the middle of the night, is it illegal for me, a girl, to be here in the middle of the night? Since none of us have a say here, let’s ask the head monk to give the final verdict.”
The Liaodong man voiced, “Since you insist, let us invite the head monk over.”
They heard someone enter, which was strange if they were operating secretively, and it was none other than the fat head monk.
Trembling, the head monk asked, “May this one asked what you summoned this old one f-, eh, Miss Bai? Why are you here?”
“So your surname is Bai. This old one mistook you for being Mount Tian’s Wen Clansmen.”
The Liaodong man indifferently urged, “Forget everything you heard and saw. You should leave.”
The head monk blanked out before lifelessly exiting the hall.
Master Qi subconsciously gulped. The fact that the Liaodong man could erase someone’s memories and control their mind categorised him as a Heart Realm specialist. His opponents would have to be wary of mental attacks on top of physical attacks whilst locked in combat with him.
The Liaodong man said, “You’ve seen the head monk. I take it you have no more excuses? Should you refuse to declare the reason for your presence, we will have to make you talk.”
According to Master Qi’s calculations, Hong Jiu had enough time to get away and call for reinforcements already, so she decided to end the farce. “At the end of the day, you’re just using your numbers to bully me. Fine. I’ll lay you all out.”
Gu Bushang thundered, “This old one will be more than enough to beat you.”
“She’s not alone.”
As soon as she heard the voice of the person outside, Master Qi shivered. She never picked up on their arrival, and their voice was eerily devoid of emotion. He came inside and raised his arm, knocking tiles upward and dropping someone through the gap.
Mr. Ning asked, “Master Mu, who is…”
Mr. Mu was extremely short, but he had an authoritative gaze. “… He was spying from above.”
The Liaodong man scoffed, “So you weren’t alone, Miss.”
“Why are you still here, you idiot?!” exclaimed Master Qi.
Hong Jiu rolled to his feet, then ducked behind Master Qi and quietly replied, “I lost awareness of my surroundings while I was thinking. What’s going on here?”
“You didn’t hear a word?!”
“There is a time and place for flirting.” The Liaodong man took two steps closer. “If you can’t explain your reasons for being here, we will be forced to make things hard for you.”
Hong Jiu offered up a cupped-fist salute. “Head chef or sous chef, they’re still chefs. The North is part of the pugilistic world and so is the South. Sure, we can tell you why we’re here, but shouldn’t you also introduce yourselves so that we can determine if it’s worth telling or not?”
The Liaodong man responded, “Fine! This old one is Mount Taixing’s Yan Liren. This is Yu Yeshan. This is Dongying’s Master Yuan Mu. Brother Gu, you don’t need me to introduce you, do you?”
Since Gu Bushang was in his own world, Mr. Ning did the honours and said, “Liaodong’s Ning Shixin. This is Gu Bushang. Pleasure to meet you.”
“Ah, Patriarch Yan of Heavenbound Valley, Cross Phantom’s successor, Dongying’s string expert Master Mu and Liaodong’s Mr. Ning. We’re friends, then.”
Yan Liren retorted, “How do we know if we’re friends or not if you don’t explain yourself?”
Hong Jiu held his hands up in salute, “Wusuli’s Honger Huz-, ow! Why’d you hit me, woman?!”
“His name is Hong Jiu.” Master Qi lowered the hand she smacked Hong Jiu over the head with. “Is it the time and place to be telling fibs?!”
“Even if I don’t l-”
Yan Liren, still not convinced he was face to face with the man of legends, responded, “Ah, the famous Ten Thousand Miles Dragon Rider, Hero Hong. May this one ask why you two are h-”
“Oh my lord!” suddenly screamed Gu Bushang. “What brings you here, Sir?! I thought I recognised your voice. Please forgive this one for not recognising you! Every one, please relax. We are all on the same side. Brothers, come greet one of the two greatest heroes in all the Nine Provinces, the undefeated-eternal winner, Night Fortress’ second in command, Second Leader, Hero Hong, Hong Jiu.”
Ning Shixin was befuddled as to why Hong Jiu didn’t mention Gu Bushang when he greeted them, but now he knew why – they were acquainted.
“What brings you here, Second Leader? I headed straight to Night Fortress as soon as I arrived in Hangzhou to see if there were any jobs that I needed to help with, but the brothers on the mountain told me that none of you were present, so I was told to stay on standby. Did you just arrived? Has Master been well?”
Owing to Gu Bushang’s attitude towards Hong Jiu, the atmosphere went from hostile to, “Uh, what are we supposed to do now?”
Yu Yeshan questioned, “Elder Gu, can you explain what is going on?”
Gu Bushang gave Yu Yeshan the “you idiot” look as he explained, “Didn’t I just introduce him? He is the undefeated-unequalled-unparral-”
“I heard. I heard,” Ning Shixin grumbled. He knew Gu Bushang was a loyal fanatic of Night Fortress’ master because he had listened to one of the latter’s never-ending speeches about him. “Brother, did you ask Hero Hong to come here to help?”
While it was inappropriate for Gu Bushang to leak their meeting location – assuming he was the one who called Hong Jiu in to help them – it was forgivable since it was well-intended.
“No. I wanted to ask the bosses of Night Fortress to help, but none of them were present. Of course, it was embarrassing to even mention the pinch we’re in.”
When Ning Shixin looked to Hong Jiu, Hong Jiu gave him a smile and voiced, “Ol’ Gu didn’t know I’d be here. As a matter of fact, I don’t even know why you are here. I’m guessing, though, that this has something to do with Fiends’ Genesis’ Jiang Chen, correct?”
Ning Shixin queried, “Does that mean… H-have there been rumours of some sort spreading in the pugilistic world?”
Hong Jiu pieced it all together when he saw how shaken they were. “You can rest assured. I didn’t come here because I heard something. I have family who has fallen into Jiang Chen’s grasp, and an elder I know received a letter from Jiang Chen, which led me…”
They were all relieved to hear Hong Jiu mention “letter”.
Yan Liren: “S-so you’re the last person! We’ve been waiting for you!”
Hong Jiu: Huh? What for?