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Jianghu Demolition Squad

Jianghu By Jun 01, 2024 3 Comments
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Chapter 18: Escape

Visible Skin, Hidden Bones (Part Seven)

The dungeon’s exit sloped upwards, seemingly endless.

As Yu’er stepped out, the vacant stares of the other imprisoned women briefly crossed her path before moving away, their spirits either numbed to indifference or perhaps deeming her too insignificant to bother with a plea for help, sparing Yu’er the worry of alerting the guards.

Reaching the exit, Banjin and Baliang stood at the cell door. Banjin remarked, “It’d be great if you could make it out.”

Baliang confidently added, “You’ll definitely make it out.”

Yu’er tiptoed through the passage. It was a long, eerily quiet tunnel, damp and stifling. She didn’t know how long she had walked before she saw an open area ahead, brightly lit and filled with the noise of people. Yu’er pressed herself against the tunnel wall, listening closely. It turned out to be the guards, drinking and gambling.

Beyond this open space were about a dozen steps leading to the surface. However, the exit was sealed with a heavy iron plate, locked and likely requiring a key to open.

Yu’er pondered how to get the key, and after a while, she heard a dull sound from the exit as the iron plate was slid open from the outside, letting a slit of white light spill through.

Yu’er shivered, realizing that the stairs were in the same direction as her passage; anyone coming down would see her immediately.

Looking towards the open area, the gamblers were on the left, and on the right, against the wall, was a low cabinet where she could hide.

Yu’er peeked out carefully, noting that everyone’s attention was focused on the dice on the table. With steps as light as a feather, she moved swiftly and silently, reaching the cover of the cabinet just as the dungeon’s exit was fully opened.

Footsteps approached and stopped not far away. The gambling guards hurriedly packed up, calling out, “Steward Qin.”

Steward Qin responded coldly, “The master is entertaining guests in the hall. Protector Yuan will come directly here to pick someone later. Make sure everything is in order, without any mistakes!”

Yu’er recognized the voice but didn’t dwell on it. Her thoughts were consumed with the ‘guest’ and ‘Protector Yuan.’ “Could Yuan Wenliu really be here? And could the guest be Yan Li?”

The sound of movement snapped Yu’er back to reality, and she saw the group heading down into the dungeon, leaving only two guards at the entrance.

Yu’er dashed to the table, thought for a moment, then grabbed a wine bottle and threw it outside. Soon after, the sound of shattering glass was heard.

One of the guards tentatively called out, “Steward Qin?”

With no response, the two went down to check and were caught off guard by Yu’er’s attack at the bottom of the stairs, stumbling forward. Yu’er then threw two wine bottles swiftly, hitting them squarely.

This was a technique in using hidden weapons taught to her by Tang Linzhi, unfortunately, without darts or similar objects at hand, Yu’er had to make do with wine bottles. Everyone thought she would need at least a year or half to be able to face someone in combat, but the unpredictability of life had her mastering the skill much sooner than expected.

As the two guards collapsed, Yu’er had already sprung up the stairs and raced towards the exit. Once outside, she was met with a burst of brightness: sunlight poured through the windows, curtains danced in the gentle breeze, and small lights twinkled above like stars. To her surprise, Yu’er discovered that the dungeon lay underneath a memorial hall, evident from the numerous plaques displayed on the stage.

Yu’er dared not stay longer and slipped out through a window. She then stealthily moved through a side gate and followed a secluded path shaded by trees and adorned with fragrant grass and exotic flowers. She encountered no one along the way, but the Qin family’s garden was vast. Yu’er wandered for ages among pavilions and towers, crossing layer upon layer, unsure of where to go.

Hiding behind an elm tree, Yu’er suddenly heard someone shout coldly “Search quickly! They must still be in the yard. If we don’t find them and disturb the master and the protector, watch your heads!”

This was immediately followed by a chorus of meek agreements.

Listening intently, Yu’er was caught off guard when a servant from the Qin household approached. Upon seeing her, he sternly demanded, “Which courtyard’s maidservant are you? Slacking off here, are you?”

Yu’er’s heart skipped a beat, silently cursing her bad luck.

Sure enough, the footsteps of the group turned towards her direction, with someone shouting, “Over here!”

Yu’er pushed off the tree trunk, climbed the branches, scaled a carved wall nearby, and with the agility of a cat, landed gracefully on the ground. This was much easier compared to her daily practice on the plum blossom poles.

By the time the pursuers turned back, Yu’er had already made her escape.

“Chase her!” they shouted.

Yu’er hadn’t run far before she was surrounded by a group familiar with the area’s shortcuts.

More than ten men, armed with long sticks and ropes, surrounded her, attempting to capture her as one would a wild cat.

Yu’er couldn’t help but feel nervous. She took a deep breath, crouched low, and as one attacker lunged with his stick, the others moved in. Yu’er deftly redirected the stick towards another assailant’s armpit, causing him to retract his arm as it went limp, dropping the rope.

Yu’er, much smaller compared to the group of men, darted among them like a slippery eel, impossible to catch.

Yu’er had picked up this tactic while at the Fanyun Fuyu Thirteen Fortresses, having seen Tang Linzhi masterfully deploy it. Despite not reaching Tang Linzhi’s level of expertise, she found it incredibly effective in her current situation. The men, try as they might, were simply unable to catch her.

Lacking in internal martial arts training, Yu’er knew she could not overpower these men with strength alone. Instead, she applied the essence of the sword techniques taught by Yan Li, using the principle of leveraging force against force, adapting sword techniques into hand-to-hand combat.

While others might not have worried about Yu’er’s diverse training would hinder her proficiency, but they were certainly surprised by how well she combined and utilized her knowledge.

Within the time it takes to drink a cup of tea, Yu’er had caused the entire group to stumble and fall, breaking through their encirclement without inflicting serious injury.

As the guards fell, Yu’er slipped away again.

A delicate voice rang out, “What’s all this noise about?”

A woman emerged from behind the willow trees, clad in a crimson dress, around seventeen or eighteen years old, with fair skin, bright and beautiful.

The leader quickly got up, bowing respectfully, “Miss Ye!”

With a thought, the leader gestured towards the direction Yu’er had escaped and explained to the woman, “Among the group of convicted slaves recently brought to the manor, there was a little girl who attempted to escape. We had already found a family for her, and she was to be sent there the day after tomorrow.”

“While being prepared by the old maid today, she unexpectedly demonstrated her martial arts skills, injuring the maid and running out. Miss Ye, you are a distinguished guest of the master, and we wouldn’t normally involve you in such matters. However, the family due to receive her is arriving tomorrow. If she’s not found, we fear more than just a few beatings for failing our duty; we’re more concerned about tarnishing our master’s reputation by not keeping his promise. Miss Ye, could we ask for your assistance? With your skills as a renowned martial artist, capturing her should be easy for you.”

The woman replied, “Master Qin has always treated me with great respect, so it’s only right that I assist with this trivial issue. Don’t worry, I’ll bring her back.”

Yu’er wound her way swiftly and came to a stop in front of a pavilion. Around her, willows swayed gently, and a stone path stretched out, guiding her to a round gate.

Suddenly, a sharp voice called out from behind, “You’re the little maid who escaped from the manor, aren’t you? You run fast!”

Turning around, Yu’er saw a girl lightly tapping on a willow branch, gracefully leaping forward to land just in front of her. “I advise you to go back quietly and obediently. Without rules, there’s no order. Since your family was convicted and you were sold here, live your life peacefully under your new identity. The Qin family is kind and found you a good place. You should be grateful instead of running away and causing trouble for Master Qin. This is not how one should act…”

As the girl went on, Yu’er silently retreated, her eyes fixed on the girl.

Feeling something under her foot, Yu’er glanced down to see a long stick. With a determined spirit, she flicked it up with her foot, catching it in her hands.

With a shake of the stick, she thrust it forward like a dragon emerging from the sea, aiming straight for the woman’s throat.

Having seen the girl’s lightness skill and noting the sword at her waist, Yu’er knew she was not to be underestimated. The only option was to strike first.

The stick technique she used was taught by Qi Tianzhu, from the Luohan stick methods. With no internal energy to rely on, she had to make the most of the stick’s reach advantage.

The girl, taken aback, drew her sword in defense, “You! I patiently advised you, yet you choose to attack!”

The girl was skilled, compelling Yu’er not to underestimate her. The Luohan stick technique, powerful and requiring robust internal energy to unleash its full potential, was beyond Yu’er’s current ability. She managed only a few feints, yet her aggressive posture and the ferocity of her moves intimidated the woman, throwing her into disarray.

Yu’er’s real trump card, taught by Mo Wen, was the knowledge of 409 acupoints on the human body. Although she only remembered 108 of them, it proved to be more than enough.

Yu’er targeted these acupoints with precision, forcing the girl to defend. Caught off guard at first, the girl then underestimated Yu’er—two critical mistakes in combat. As the fight progressed, the girl became increasingly panicked and passive, and her agitation intensified. Even with her strong martial arts skills, it became clear she lacked genuine combat experience.

The battle moved from the corridor to the stone path. Fearing the girl’s potential use of internal energy, Yu’er decided to end the fight quickly. Seizing a moment of negligence, she thrust her stick at a vital acupoint on the woman.

Yu’er did not hesitate in her attack. She had no intention of killing the girl, merely wishing to escape her predicament by any means necessary. Tang Linzhi had taught her that hesitation in battle was to be avoided at all costs—regrets, confusions, and doubts should be set aside until after the fight. Thus, her strikes were swift and decisive, without any hint of hesitation.

The girl had aimed her sword at Yu’er’s chest, but unfortunately for her, the staff’s reach outmatched the sword’s. Before her sword could reach Yu’er, the stick was already targeting her vital point. Too late to defend herself and too shocked to dodge, the girl seemed doomed to be struck.

Suddenly, a powerful gust of wind accompanied a figure rushing to the girl’s side. With a flick of the sleeve and a crisp snap, Yu’er’s wooden staff was reduced to splinters.

Blurred by the sudden movement, two figures closed in on Yu’er. A palm strike from each sent her flying back, crashing into the pavilion’s door and falling to the ground. The impact left her feeling as if her internal organs had turned to mush, causing her to spit out a mouthful of fresh blood.

“At such a young age, how can your martial arts be so fierce and ruthless!”

Translation notes:
              Luohan – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eighteen_Arhats

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devon
devon
1 month ago

I’m looking forward 😩

anazu
anazu
26 days ago

Ah yeah a freaking stick is ruthless 😃

Khriss
Khriss
21 days ago

Just, what, one months and this child can take down a dozen soldiers? They’re making a living weapon here! 😺
Thanks for the TL!