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Jianghu Demolition Squad

Jianghu By Jun 13, 2024 2 Comments
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Chapter 36: Aihong

Danger at The Tomb of the King (Part Six)

Yang Chun’s lightness skills were excellent, yet his skills in close combat paled in comparison, and his awareness for defense was even less developed. With a touch from Yu’er, he couldn’t move.

Attempting to diffuse the tension with a forced smile, Yang Chun pleaded, “Miss, miss, let’s have a calm discussion! They say that meeting someone is a matter of fate, and fate itself breeds friendship. So, here we are, destined to be friends. Let’s talk this through peacefully, there’s no need for—oh! Ah! Miss, please, let’s keep things proper, I pride myself on my integrity. The norms of interaction between men and women are clear, and this approach… this isn’t respectable…”

Yu’er turned over her arms and saw that the Shang Sheng was still on her. She took it out and held it in her hand. Feeling happy to have regained what was once lost, her joy was short-lived as the man in front of her kept rambling, his words becoming increasingly irrelevant. Yu’er stretched out her hand and once again pressed his vocal acupoint to silence him

Yang Chun was talkative by nature, and not speaking for even a moment made him extremely uncomfortable. It was inconceivable to him that after years of roaming jianghu, he’d be bested by a little girl. Internally, he lamented his momentary oversight and fretted over the notion of a hero’s downfall. His mind was a whirlwind of thoughts, yet his face bore a look of appeasement.

Yu’er paid him no mind, shifting Yang Chun’s body to the side.

She then retrieved a bundle. This particular bundle was waterproof, a precaution taken by Yu Hei and Yu Bai, anticipating the need to wade through water, hence they had packed a change of clean clothes for everyone. After changing her clothes, Yu’er noticed Qing Jiu was still adjusting her breath. Realizing it would take some time for her to conclude her practice and not wanting to disturb her, Yu’er chose to sit at a distance.

After sitting quietly for a while, she began to feel the unmistakable growl of hunger in her stomach. They had entered the tomb at midday, and having navigated its depths for what could only be guessed at as hours, the absence of natural light rendered time a mystery. By any sensible guess, it must have been night by now.

Yu’er sifted through their provisions and brought out some food. Then, with a quick change of focus, she produced a pill and approached Yang Chun. Grabbing his chin in a firm yet gentle grip, she deposited the pill into his mouth amidst his mix of astonishment and dread. The pill melted the moment it touched his tongue, and though Yang Chun was reluctant to swallow, his throat involuntarily complied with a pronounced gulp.

Yu’er stated, “If you don’t shout or scream, I’ll release your acupoints. Blink once if you agree.” Yang Chun, trapped in silent turmoil, had no way to voice his fear. He blinked once, a flicker of surrender.

Yu’er released his pressure points, and Yang Chun immediately knelt down and vomited, loudly demanding, “What did you give me to eat?!”

Yu’er said, “What did I tell you!”

Caught off guard, Yang Chun’s mouth opened and closed several times as if he was about to protest, but ultimately, he chose to remain silent, his lips sealing the words inside.

“Don’t interrupt her focus,” Yu’er stated firmly, her warning clearly directed towards Qing Jiu’s concentrated efforts.

Casting a brief glance at the figure deeply engrossed in meditation, Yang Chun ran his fingers through his hair, a gesture of frustration and regret. He never imagined he would suffer such a defeat at the hands of a little girl.

With his voice barely above a whisper, Yang Chun asked, “Miss, what exactly are you planning to do?”

Yu’er moved to sit beside him, pulling out a flatbread and tossing a piece to Yang Chun. “If you can manage to follow directions until we’re out of this ancient tomb,” she began with a tone that brokered no argument, “I’ll give you the antidote.”

Yang Chun gratefully received the flatbread, feeling the hollow of his stomach. After so long in the Tomb of King Cheng, hunger had crept upon him. “When you’re truly hungry, nothing else in the world matters,” he mused. Despite the uncertainty of what poison he might have swallowed, the bread tasted exceptionally delicious.

Having satisfied his hunger with the bread, he shamelessly asked Yu’er for some water. Once she handed it to him, and after he had his fill of food and drink, he let out a long sigh of relief, feeling a surge of contentment wash over him.

Yang Chun was inherently an optimist, quick to let go of misfortunes. He reasoned that being poisoned was now an unchangeable fact, and there was peace in acceptance. Now at the mercy of others, and given the little girl’s offer of an antidote for compliance, he saw no harm in waiting and observing.

His eyes lingered on Yu’er, noting her fair skin, delicate frame, and exquisite features, all hinting at an extraordinary presence. Curiosity piqued, he wondered, “Whose distinguished daughter is she? It’s strange that I’ve never seen her before. Someone of her grace should have some reputation in jianghu.”

Feeling a certain destiny in their meeting, he observed a slight coldness in her eyes, yet sensed an underlying kindness. He had all but forgotten the discomfort of the poison, his interest in Yu’er piqued. He took the water bottle and sat beside her.

Yu’er gave him a sidelong glance and moved away.

With a chuckle, Yang Chun introduced himself, “I’m Yang Chun. And you are?”

“I know,” Yu’er responded, her voice tinged with a note of irritation at the name.

Rubbing his chin, Yang Chun laughed heartily, “You know me? Perhaps my reputation precedes me, and that’s why you recognize me.”

Her voice took on a deeper note, “You stole my dagger.” It was clear: she recognized him because he had stolen from her.

Embarrassment washed over Yang Chun’s face, but he laughed it off, “Well, isn’t it said that conflict leads to friendship? You haven’t yet told me your name. It’s customary in jianghu to exchange such courtesies. Since I’ve introduced myself, surely you can’t mean to keep yours a secret.”

Yu’er, unwilling to divulge her name, paid him no mind. Just then, Qing Jiu finished her meditation and opened her eyes, calling out, “Yu’er.”

“So, your name is Yu’er,” Yang Chun noted, though Yu’er paid him no mind and went over to Qing Jiu.

Qing Jiu had known that Yu’er had rescued someone and managed Yang Chun by sealing his acupoints, trusting Yu’er’s capability to handle him as she focused on her meditation. She hadn’t heard their conversation, only aware that Yu’er had brought Yang Chun up to retrieve her dagger.

As Qing Jiu made to stand, Yu’er suddenly instructed Yang Chun, “Turn your head away.”

Seeing the notorious bandit comply so readily, Qing Jiu couldn’t hide her surprise and smiled at Yu’er, curious about how she had managed to make him so obedient.

Yu’er spoke up, “Let me take a look at your injury.”

Qing Jiu, taken aback, responded quicker than she could process her thoughts, “Okay.”

Yu’er gently removed Qing Jiu’s clothes, noting the fabric was dry from Qing Jiu’s internal energy. She peeled back the bandages, revealing a swollen, pale wound – thankfully, the bleeding had stopped. Without hesitation, Yu’er fetched medicine and carefully rebandaged the injury

Regaining her composure, Qing Jiu found the situation amusing. It had been only half a year since she needed to coax Yu’er into sharing a bed. Now, Yu’er was not only comfortable around her, but unexpectedly bold and assertive. This was a side of Yu’er that Qing Jiu had never seen before.

Qing Jiu hadn’t realized how dire their situation had become. Since entering the tomb, Mo Wen and then Qing Jiu herself had been injured. They were scattered in the water, separated from their companions. Yet, despite everything, Yu’er’s focus was unwavering. She cast aside her usual caution, revealing a decisive, calm, and intelligent core.

After attending to the wound, Yu’er retrieved some dry food and water from their supplies and placed them before Qing Jiu, urging, “You should eat something first.”

Qing Jiu began to refuse, but…

Yu’er interjected, “You won’t have the strength if you don’t eat.”

Qing Jiu glanced at Yu’er, seeing the determination in her eyes, as if she would keep persuading until Qing Jiu accepted. With a smile, Qing Jiu took the food, nibbled a few bites, opened the water pouch to drink, and looked at Yang Chun still facing the wall. She asked Yu’er with a laugh, “What were you two talking about earlier?”

Yang Chun, facing the stone wall, thought about turning around but remembered Yu’er hadn’t instructed him to do so. Fearing that turning without permission might anger her, and uncertain of what pill she might feed him next, he shivered at the thought and stood obediently. Yet, deep down, he hoped Yu’er wouldn’t reveal their previous conversation, feeling it was too embarrassing. So, he called out, “Yu’er and I were just sharing some interesting stories from jianghu!”

Yu’er, oblivious to his inner turmoil and likely not to conceal anything from Qing Jiu even if she were aware, recounted the events that transpired after rescuing Yang Chun from the water.

Once Qing Jiu finished her meal, she stood up, dusted off her clothing, and with a smile suggested to Yu’er, “Let him turn around.”

Yu’er informed Yang Chun, “You can turn around now.”

Relieved, Yang Chun turned around to find a woman standing beside Yu’er. His head had been foggy from his time in the water, and upon finally reaching the shore, he barely managed to see his rescuer before Yu’er had immobilized him with an acupoint technique, followed by feeding him a pill. His interest had been solely focused on Yu’er, with his thoughts revolving around her. Although aware of another’s presence, he hadn’t paid much attention to her appearance until now, and upon seeing her clearly, he couldn’t help but be startled.

The person standing before him was tall and elegant, seemingly wrapped in clouds and mist, truly the image of a celestial.

His curiosity deepened, wondering how such a remarkably beautiful person could be completely unknown to him. Observing her more closely, he noticed she carried a Taoist sword and wore Buddhist beads, shaking his head in wonder. He thought, “This must be a monastic practitioner who has not renounced worldly ties. No wonder she possesses such a serene and graceful aura. Alas, what a pity. But with elements of both Taoism and Buddhism, is she a Taoist priestess or a Buddhist nun?”

Seeing Yang Chun scrutinizing her, shaking his head and sighing, Qing Jiu guessed his thoughts and couldn’t help but smile, offering Yang Chun a formal bow, “I’ve long admired the renowned integrity of Yang Chun. It’s an honor to meet you.”

Yang Chun, pleased with her polite words, joyfully responded, “Oh, where, where, what reputation? It’s hardly worth mentioning.”

Qing Jiu inquired, “I wonder what brings the famed Yang Chun to the Tomb of King Cheng.”

“Well… Haha, naturally for treasure. The Tomb of King Cheng is filled with so many treasures, just taking one or two pieces…” Yang Chun didn’t want to confess his true intentions for entering the tomb. Though he knew he couldn’t keep it a secret forever, he hoped to deflect for the moment, laughing it off with Qing Jiu. However, years of thievery had sharpened his instincts, and as he spoke, he keenly sensed something was amiss. The smile on Qing Jiu’s face sent a chill up his spine, reminiscent of the innate fear a young rabbit feels in the presence of a predator. Unable to resist, he stiffly chuckled twice before confessing, “I came for the Aihong Sword.”

Qing Jiu slightly tilted her head, looking behind him, “The one on your back.”

Yu’er glanced at Yang Chun’s back, having previously sensed the package might be a sword or similar weapon and assumed it belonged to Yang Chun. Despite him having stolen her dagger, she had caught him but didn’t want to tamper with his belongings without cause, so she hadn’t touched the item. Thus, the sword had remained on Yang Chun’s back. She had never considered that the sword Yang Chun was carrying might be the Aihong Sword!

Without a word, Yang Chun tacitly acknowledged the truth.

“The people who were chasing you earlier seemed eager to tear you apart. It seems this sword wasn’t found by you but was taken… from them,” Qing Jiu said with a light laugh, implying, “Stolen, it seems.”

Theft had been a part of Yang Chun’s life for so long, and he usually took pride in his exploits. However, being called out by Qing Jiu made him unexpectedly blush.

“If you two are also here for the Aihong Sword, then I can only offer it with both hands,” Yang Chun said, about to unstrap the long sword from his back. Suddenly, Qing Jiu’s expression changed, and she made a gesture for silence. The three of them hid behind a tree and peered out to see a group of people approaching from the east, their footsteps light, indicating strong martial skills.

Yu’er’s eyes fixed on the two individuals leading the approach. One person had a pale complexion, a thin figure, deep-set eyes, high cheekbones, and exceptionally profound gaze. The other wore a black robe, holding a sword in his right hand, with a heroic bearing, and sharp eyes. They landed silently, their strides long and swift, embodying both speed and stability. Yu’er felt looked at these two men and felt an overwhelming pressure, as if gazing up at something vast and formidable, making her feel insignificant.

The two leaders had already noticed the group of three. Understanding the dangers of direct confrontation, Yu’er preferred to avoid them. In contrast, Qing Jiu stood still, her expression markedly cold and serious, with her gaze intently fixed on the man wielding the sword.

Qing Jiu instructed, “Yang Chun, take Yu’er and leave. Protect her.”

Yu’er, recognizing the powerful nature of the two men and noting Qing Jiu’s behavior, which was now out of character, and also considering her own injuries, was reluctant to follow her advice, saying, “Qing Jiu, come with us. We came here to find the Qing Huang Wine Cup, not to engage in unnecessary conflicts.”

“Even if we wish to avoid conflict, they won’t allow it,” Qing Jiu responded. “Listen, Yang Chun, take her and go!”

Yang Chun, seemingly familiar with this group, looked at them and felt a surge of fear, eager to escape. He quickly agreed to Qing Jiu’s request, grabbing Yu’er and making their escape.

As Yang Chun and Yu’er made some distance, Yu’er looked back to see the two men leaping over the water and landing in front of Qing Jiu. As they landed, one brandished a dagger and the other a staff, both aiming at Qing Jiu’s head. Qing Jiu reacted swiftly, drawing her sword from its sheath and counterattacking. The two men took a step back, facing each other with weapons drawn.

The swordsman sneered, “I thought I was mistaken, but it turns out it’s really you.”

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ladypmr@gmail.com
1 month ago

Qing jiu lore next :o???

Khriss
Khriss
21 days ago

Divine swords be popping up left and right, by the end of the story they’ll all have been explored lmao
Tyftc!