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Jianghu Demolition Squad

Jianghu By Jun 09, 2024 2 Comments
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Previous: Chapter 30: Koi

Chapter 31: Seven Star Lords of the Northern Dipper

Danger at The Tomb of the King (Part One)

After leaving the village, the group headed towards Yunping Mountain without rushing. As they approached their destination, Qing Jiu suffered another bout of her Gu poison and was forced to stop in the city, taking a few days to rest. With Mo Wen by her side, Qing Jiu’s suffering was much less than it had been beneath the cliff.

During their stay, Tang Linzhi was constantly out and about, always accompanied by someone since she tended to get lost when she wandered too far. Today, it was Hua Lian’s turn to accompany her. Yu’er noticed their secretive demeanor and Tang Linzhi’s seemed very happy, though it was unclear what she was up to.

Qi Tianzhu and Yan Li had gone out to scout the area, leaving Yu’er and the other two back at the inn.

Mo Wen, lying listlessly on a table in the hall, had been banned from drinking by Yan Li and Qing Jiu after several incidents caused by alcohol. After some bargaining, they agreed she could have three cups a day.

After finishing her internal energy practice, Yu’er noticed Mo Wen idly playing with her wine cup, her expression unchanged but her eyes unfocused, as if deep in thought or perhaps thinking of nothing at all.

Yu’er, always observant, had picked up from Yan Li and Qing Jiu’s conversations that Mo Wen’s drinking was not just for pleasure but seemed more like an escape from reality, a way to drown in confusion.

Seeing Mo Wen like this, Yu’er knew she was troubled and was contemplating how to comfort her when Tang Linzhi and Hua Lian returned. They walked into the inn, carrying a package, and lifted Mo Wen up, calling Yu’er to return to their room. Not long after, Qi Tianzhu and Yan Li also returned, and the seven of them gathered in the room.

Tang Linzhi placed the package on the table, announcing, “It’s done.”

Hua Lian, tucking his fan into his waist and rubbing his hands together, smiled, “We’ve waited a long time for this.”

Unwrapping the package, they found seven daggers with black hilts and scabbards bound with red cords. Hua Lian drew one, its blade flashing silver, almost slicing through the scabbard with a sharp sound.

Qi Tianzhu also examined one, noting its unparalleled sharpness, “This is…”

Tang Linzhi explained, “We melted down the Qing Huan Sword to forge these seven daggers for self-defense.”

Qi Tianzhu remarked, “This way, no one knows we possess a divine sword, avoiding envy while allowing us to use them openly. What a great idea!” Though it was a pity to melt down the divine sword, he realized that none of them were broadsword users, and carrying the conspicuous Qing Huan Sword would only invite unnecessary trouble. Melting it down into daggers was indeed the best solution.

Tang Linzhi encouraged, “I’ve tested it, and this weapon is truly a once-in-a-thousand treasure. It can cut through hair as easily as it slices through steel, and it might even pierce through the impenetrable golden silk armor. Come on, take a look.”

Qing Jiu approached the table, drew one of the daggers, and upon inspecting the blade, she saw two characters etched into it, reading aloud, “Si Ming.”

Yan Li pulled out another, finding the inscription “Si Lu” on its blade.

The rest also took a dagger each and looked at the names engraved on their blades. Hua Lian’s had the characters ‘Lu Cun,’ Mo Wen’s had ‘Yan Shou,’ Tang Linzhi’s was engraved with ‘Yi Suan,’ Qi Tianzhu’s read ‘Du’e,’ and Yu’er’s had ‘Shang Sheng.’

Tang Linzhi declared, “A good dagger deserves a good name. It would be a pity without one, so I took the liberty of engraving these names.”

Qing Jiu shook her head with a smile, “These names are rather bold.” Yu’er, puzzled, did not understand the implication.

Yan Li explained, “These are the names of the deities associated with the Northern Dipper in the heavens. The Northern Dipper governs life and death, nurturing and aiding all beings. Every sentient being, receiving the essence of heaven and earth and the order of yin and yang, whether male or female, their lifespan and destiny are all under the governance of the Northern Dipper. Along with the Emperor of Heaven and the Emperor Ziwei, they form the Nine Emperor Gods, overseeing the world’s major affairs, including the life and death of mortals. That’s why Qing Jiu thinks these names are a bit too bold.”

Hua Lian chuckled, “This dagger is, after all, a divine weapon. If we don’t choose names with a bit of boldness, how could we ever hope to master it? Besides, there are seven stars in the Northern Dipper, and we are exactly seven people, no more, no less. If you ask me, it’s fate. These names couldn’t be more appropriate.”

Qing Jiu and Yan Li were indifferent about the naming, but hearing Hua Lian put it that way, they agreed, “Since the names have already been engraved, let’s leave it at that.”

From then on, the divine weapon was split into seven, each of the group wielding a piece of this divine weapon as they ventured through the jianghu.

Soon, the seven set off, arriving at Yunping Mountain around the time of Bailu period. At the base of Yunping Mountain lay a large town, a necessary pass for those entering the mountain from the north. Not far away, the mountain range rose and fell, not as imposing as Yanying Mountain piercing the heart of the sky but still vast and majestic.

As they reached the town’s entrance, under the ancient wooden archway, two individuals approached them, greeting with a bow, Are you seven coming from the south?”

These two, with pale complexions and dressed in dark blue tight-fitting clothes, were short in stature but moved with a practiced strength and quickness, and with their bright eyes revealing a shrewd nature.

Without showing it overtly, they scrutinized the seven, and judging by their appearance, they were fairly certain these were the people they were waiting for. Thus, they introduced themselves, “Yin and Yang Pathseekers.”

One bowed, “I am Yu Hei.”

The other followed, “I am Yu Bai.”

With utmost respect, Yu Hei said, “We have been sent by our young mistress to wait for you.” The group understood that this young mistress referred to Liu Xiu, indicating these men were from the Yanyu Pavilion.

Yu’er, driven by curiosity, asked, “What is this; Yin and Yang Pathseekers?”

Yu Bai responded with a smile, “It’s a nickname we brothers earned in the underworld. We’re known for guiding others above ground, across extensive landscapes and oceans, and for our ventures below, into the realms of the dead. After many years in this profession, we’ve come to be known by this name.” Here, “above” refers to the open world, and “below” to the graves. People in their profession call the outside world the realm of the living (Yang) and the inside of the tombs the realm of the dead (Yin), hence the title ‘Yin and Yang Pathseekers.’ Yu’er, quick to understand, grasped the meaning from this brief explanation and asked no further.

Yu Hei announced, “We have already arranged accommodations for the seven of you at an inn. Please, follow us.”

Following Yu Hei and Yu Bai, the group arrived at a town inn, where they were introduced to two more individuals tasked with tomb exploration by the Yanyu Pavilion.

Yu Hei and Yu Bai specialized in navigating ancient tombs, familiar with the intricacies of such places. The other two, one named Mei Qi, a tall and thin man skilled in tunneling, and the other named Wang Hu, strong and sturdy like a tiger, a hunter from Yunping Mountain, knew the area well.

After introductions, Yu Hei and Yu Bai made sure everyone was settled in their rooms. Yu Hei said, “After the long journey from the south to Yunping Mountain, you must be exhausted. Rest today, and we’ll head into the mountains tomorrow. If you need anything prepared, just let us know.”

After Yu Hei and Yu Bai left, Hua Lian watched their departing figures and asked Qing Jiu, “What do you think?”

“Their skills are average, but they’re quick and efficient in their work. Since they’re from the Yanyu Pavilion, they’re certainly no ordinary people,” Qing Jiu replied, showing little interest in the men. After a brief comment, she gestured dismissively, “I’m going to take a walk.”

Hua Lian immediately responded, “Let’s go together!” He also pulled Yu’er along, adding, “Speaking of entering the tomb, Yu’er and I are a bit nervous. There are all these scary tales about the Tomb of King Cheng. Do you think there could really be Jiangshi or something inside? Should we prepare some dog blood and glutinous rice for self-defense?”

Tang Linzhi scoffed, “Look at you, dragging Yu’er into this. Coward!”

Hua Lian retorted, “Tiger Lady, watch your words. It’s called being prepared for anything!”

The group of four left the inn, making noise and chatting.

The small town at the foot of the mountain wasn’t a major thoroughfare, but the streets were bustling with people, especially with individuals carrying swords and spears—clearly, they were wulin. Qing Jiu observed, “This town has quite a few martial artists. It’s an ordinary town; what treasure could possibly attract so many people here

With that comment, everyone started paying more attention, realizing that the passersby were not locals but people from jianghu.

As they looked around, a man approached them. He had a refined appearance, dressed in green clothes that were strange-looking and tight to the body to allow ease of movement. However, the sleeves were exceptionally wide, covering his hands.

He walked over, seemingly not watching his path, and bumped into Yu’er. Yu’er stepped back a few steps from the impact, and he also exclaimed in surprise. Realizing he had bumped into a little girl, he quickly bowed and apologized, “I’m sorry, I wasn’t watching where I was going.”

Yu’er reassured, “It’s okay,” as the man turned to leave, bypassing the group.

The man had barely taken three steps when Yu’er, patting the spot where she had been bumped, suddenly looked startled. The earlier collision with the man had caught the attention of Qing Jiu and the others. Before Yu’er could take any action or say anything, Qing Jiu’s eyes sharpened, and she quickly said to Hua Lian, “Hua Lian, catch him!”

As soon as she spoke, Hua Lian leaped forward. A flash of white streaked past; the man was exceedingly alert, almost instantly using his lightness skills to escape as Qing Jiu finished speaking. With a tap of his foot, he propelled himself off a nearby object to the rooftop with incredible speed and dashed away, covering a considerable distance in just moments.

In this rapid succession of events—Qing Jiu’s command, Hua Lian’s pursuit, and the man’s escape—it was clear to all that the man’s lightness skills was on par with Hua Lian’s. This made it clear that the town was filled with hidden dragons and crouching tigers.

Yu’er reached for her waist, only to find the dagger she had been carrying was gone. A sense of emptiness and a rush of unspeakable distress and anger surged within her, “Shang Sheng is gone.” This dagger held a special significance for her, not because it was a divine weapon, but because it served as a symbol of belonging. With it, the six others were like her family, and she was a part of them, much like having the same surname in this town indicated family ties. It was a significant source of warmth and comfort. It was the first time she had received something so precious, and she cherished it dearly. Yet, in just a month, it had been stolen, lost to a thief.

Yu’er was consumed by self-blame and anger, tears welling up in her eyes, unable to take in the comforting words of Tang Linzhi and Qing Jiu.

Given Hua Lian’s exceptional lightness skill, if he couldn’t catch the thief, it was unlikely anyone else in their group could. Their frustration was futile, and so, Qing Jiu, along with the others, continued to wander the town.

This southwestern land, with its unending mountains and dense forests, offered many unique local delicacies. The snacks and foods sold on the streets were very different from those in the Jiangnan region and the Central Plains, intriguingly unique.

Qing Jiu browsed the food stalls, back and forth. Yu’er, disheartened and without an appetite, paid little attention to the offerings, unaware of what Qing Jiu might have purchased. Sulking, she followed back to the inn.

Translation note:

Bailu(白露) – Also known as “White Dew” in English. Starts at September 7 and ends September 23. Marks the deepening of autumn, and the start of harvesting for many crops. Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated around this time. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bailu_(solar_term)

The 7 names of the daggers are associated with the seven Star lords of the Northern Dipper who govern human life and destiny. These are all related to the Purple Star Astrology fortune telling.

Qing Jiu’s dagger Si Ming(司命) – Star Lord of Fate
Yan Li’s dagger Si Lu(司禄) – Star Lord of Prosperity
Hua Lian’s dagger Lu Cun(禄存) – Star Lord of Wealth
Mo Wen’s dagger Yan Shou(延寿) – Star Lord Longevity
Tang Linzhi’s dagger Yi Suan(益算) – Star Lord of Calculation
Qi Tianzhu’s dagger Du’e(度厄) – Star Lord of Protection
Yu’er’s dagger Shang Sheng(上生) – Star Lord of Elevation

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Previous: Chapter 30: Koi

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anazu
anazu
1 month ago

Noooo, not the dagger

Khriss
Khriss
28 days ago

Wuuwuw how sweet, the gang has daggers to all belong wuwuwuuw it’s like the rings of power lolol, except those only caused strife. Let’s see where this goes (and hopefully our yu gets hers back)
Tyftc!