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Jianghu Demolition Squad

Jianghu By May 25, 2024 2 Comments
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Previous: Chapter 6: Hell

Chapter 7: She is Fine

Fanyun Fuyu Thirteen Fortresses(Part Seven)

The night was cloaked in a silvery grey, with the torchlight struggling to reach far. As the monk vanished into the narrow path, his figure blurred and faded into the shadows.

In the corridor, a woman struggled fiercely, her body twisting and turning under the oppressive weight of a scar-faced man. Her kicks and punches were fueled by a visceral hatred, contorting her face into a mask of loathing.

Holding the keys, Yu’er approached the captives. She first released the person dangling from a wooden post, then methodically unlocked the iron cages. As each door swung open, the expressions on the faces of the captives were not of joy, but rather a mix of panic and confusion.

For some reason, a wave of sadness washed over Yu’er.

In the third cage, there was only one prisoner – a member of the feared Jiuxiao Manor, feared even by these bandits. Yu’er couldn’t help but be curious about this person who, despite captivity, still held an air of defiance.

The torchlight blazed, illuminating the prisoner’s features. Yu’er unlocked the cage to find a young woman seated cross-legged, her proud nose defining her face. She looked up with piercing eyes, her crimson clothes stained with dark red blood. Despite her disheveled appearance, she radiated an undeniable fierce aura.

Yu’er felt an inexplicable sense of familiarity wash over her upon seeing this woman.

The prisoner studied Yu’er and asked, “Have we met before?”

Yu’er shook her head and silently moved on to unlock the other cages. As she finished, the monk returned from the narrow path, dragging two lifeless bandits behind him.

Just as the monk was about to exit the path, Yu’er cried out in warning: “Be careful!”

The monk’s expression darkened as he spun around, hurling the corpses he was dragging at an incoming attacker.

The scar-faced man had regained consciousness and attempted a sneak attack on the monk with a drawn knife. Dodging the thrown bodies, he found himself suddenly overwhelmed by a massive hand gripping his face, crushing it with iron-like strength.

In a frantic attempt to fight back, the scar-faced man swung his knife wildly, only to be effortlessly lifted into the air by the monk and smashed against a stone wall, his skull caving in instantly, sealing his fate.

The monk, with his extraordinary external martial arts and a body as tough as iron, easily subdued the bandit. His movements were swift and decisive, leaving no room for hesitation. With the bandit’s life extinguished in the blink of an eye, the monk stood still, brought his hands together in prayer, and chanted softly, “Amitabha Buddha,” before turning to address the freed captives.

The wulin heroes, now free from their shackles, were a mix of exhilaration and rage. “Finally, I’m free! I swear I’ll skin those bastards alive!”

“Exactly, if it weren’t for the treacherous terrain and those damn sneak attacks, they wouldn’t have stood a chance against us!”

The group was outraged. These men, fearless in the face of death and eager to confront the bandits, were not willing to suffer the bandits’ humiliations. The pent-up anger had to be released now that they were free.

“Please, everyone, calm down for a moment,” the monk pleaded, bringing his hands together in a gesture of respect. “I am a secular disciple of Shaolin Temple; my Dharma name is Lu Chen.”

“So, it’s the master.”

“I understand your deep-seated hatred for the scoundrels in this fortress,” he continued, “and your desire for revenge. But now is not the time. We must first recover our internal energy and understand the layout of this fortress. Yuan Wenliu and the Meiren Gu are also inside. It would be unwise to rush out now. The priority is to recover our strength and injuries, investigate the fortress secretly, and then make a plan.”

The reputation of Shaolin Temple, known for its benevolence and unparalleled kindness, held high prestige in the wulin. Although Shaolin disciples do not kill, the monk, having returned to secular life, and given the bandits’ despicable nature, deemed their deaths unworthy of pity, and no one found it inappropriate.

Upon hearing the monk’s insightful analysis of the situation, the group readily agreed. They resolved to rest and recuperate their internal energy right there, while those with medical expertise attended to the injuries within the group.

Some looked at the women who had been caged, shaking their heads in disgust, “These bandits are worse than animals.”

A man spoke up, “If it weren’t for the chains being unlocked, we would have ended up as mere goods too. We owe our lives to that little girl. Her courage, wisdom, and composure are admirable. I am ashamed of my own helplessness against these bandits. By unlocking those chains, she not only saved my life but also preserved my dignity.”

“But speaking of which, where is that little girl now?”

The monk looked around but couldn’t find Yu’er. The person from Jiuxiao Manor interjected, “I saw her leave through the path.”

The cage was open, but she remained seated inside. The monk glanced at her and, with a frown, followed the path Yu’er had taken.

The path led to a slope and then to a flat area with three tents, surrounded by by fire pits, their flames flickering.

Following a rustling sound, the monk lifted the curtain of a tent and found Yu’er inside, dressing herself in bandit attire. A blood-stained iron club lay next to the bed.

Yu’er was tying her hair into a bun with a ribbon, layering several outfits to conceal her slender figure. From a distance, she could pass for a young boy.

Holding the iron club, Yu’er turned to face the monk, instinctively gripping it with both hands.

“Where are you going?” the monk asked.

“To save someone,” she replied.

The monk frowned, his voice grave, “Do you know what kind of people are in this fortress?”

Yu’er looked down, “I know them too well. I lived among them for three years.”

The monk’s heart trembled with compassion, “You… then you should know they are brutal and merciless, killing is second nature to them. You were lucky to knock out that bandit earlier, but you might not be so fortunate next time. This place is a den of dragons and tigers, filled with man-eating beasts. A little girl like you, walking in there, might not even leave enough bones behind!”

“I know, and I’m not afraid!” Yu’er’s voice was firm, her gaze steady and resolute. The brightness in her eyes was so intense that it made the monk’s scalp tingle and his blood boil.

“I’m not afraid. I’ve lost everything already…” Yu’er’s voice trailed off, her eyelids drooping. The monk understood the depth of her words, feeling as if his chest had been struck by a heavy blow.

After a long pause, the monk asked, “You said you want to save someone. Who are they to you?”

Who are they to her?

Yu’er was momentarily lost in thought. They were strangers, with no real relationship to speak of, but if she had to describe it: “She… she’s my benefactor. She saved me, and let me follow her. She’s very kind.”

The monk sighed deeply, patting his bald head with his palm.

Yu’er added softly, “You’re right, the bandits here are beasts that don’t spit out bones after eating. My mother died at their hands.”

Just recalling that scene made Yu’er shiver with cold: “I can’t let her suffer the same fate. I have to save her, no matter what. After all, this life was saved by her. If it’s lost, then so be it…”

The monk suddenly knelt in front of her, placing a hand on her shoulder, his expression solemn, “It’s right to repay a debt of gratitude, but you can’t take your own life so lightly! You must save your benefactor and keep yourself safe too!”

Yu’er was startled, “You…”

The monk firmly said, “I will go with you. Even if it costs my life, I will protect you!”

If a young girl could be so grateful, he, who had been freed from his chains by her, could not fail to repay her kindness. He couldn’t bear to let her passionate heart be chilled; he would do his best to protect her and help her save her benefactor.

The monk quickly got up, finding another set of bandit clothes in the tent. Unfortunately, his large stature couldn’t fit into them, except for a pair of Vajra armbands that fit his wrists perfectly. He then entered another tent to retrieve his own weapon – a long black iron staff.

As heavy as a pillar supporting the heavens, its movement could change the course of rivers and mountains.

Yu’er was surprised. She had always thought of Buddhist monks as non-violent, compassionate, and kind-hearted. Yet, the monk before her had skillfully slain three bandits and now stood with an iron staff, exuding an intimidating aura. “Are you really a monk?” she asked in disbelief.

The monk ran his broad palm over his smooth, bald head and grinned, revealing a hint of naivety, “Don’t I look like one?”

Yu’er shook her head, prompting the monk to explain with a smile, “Well, I’m not really a monk anymore. I’ve returned to secular life.”

“Why?” Yu’er was puzzled. Why would someone who had become a monk choose to return to secular life?

Standing against the moonlight, the monk’s figure cast a shadow over his features. Holding his iron staff, he stood as immovable as a mountain, unshaken by the fiercest storms: “To kill.”

His words were dark. When he looked at Yu’er again, his eyes were not cold but rather distant, as if looking through her to somewhere far away. “Girl, I joined the Shaolin Temple to learn martial arts precisely for this day. Many years ago, I was just an ordinary man with a family. That year, when Yuan Wenliu joined this bandit fortress and rapidly gained power, our towns were devastated. I was away for business at that time. When I returned home, I found my parents, wife, and daughter all killed by the bandits.”

“I was mad with grief and came here for revenge. I had the strength but no skill in martial arts. They beat me and threw me down the mountain. Luckily, Master Kongming found me and saved me. He wanted to convert me to Buddhism At that time, I was disillusioned and followed him, thinking that if I succeeded in my training, I would return to secular life and avenge this deep hatred. If not, I’d at least find peace in Buddha’s teachings.” He rarely spoke of these past events, sharing them with Yu’er in a rare moment of openness.

“So that’s why you’re here…” Yu’er said, connecting the dots.

The monk gave a resigned smile, “Although my martial arts are not inferior, my strategies and schemes are no match for others, which is why I was captured.”

“I’m sorry,” Yu’er apologized.

“Why apologize?” the monk inquired.

Yu’er pursed her lips, “I brought up a painful subject.”

Feeling a warmth in his heart, the monk suddenly asked, “Girl, could I give you a hug?”

Yu’er, puzzled, looked at the monk. In his eyes, there was a deep sadness, and his broad frame seemed almost frail in the chilly night wind.

Yu’er nodded, and the monk knelt on one knee, encircling her with one arm and pulling her close. He spoke, his voice restrained, “If my daughter were still alive, she would be about your age.”

Tentatively, Yu’er patted his back, “Actually, I’m already fourteen. I just look small and thin…”

The monk released her, covering the top of her head with his palm and gently stroking it. “My secular name is Qi Tianzhu. If you don’t mind, you can call me Uncle Qi.”

“Uncle Qi.”

At Yu’er’s call, a wave of joy surged in Qi Tianzhu’s heart. He stood up, sighing, “Let’s go.”

Qi Tianzhu led the way. As a martial artist, his hearing, intuition, and sensitivity were far superior to ordinary people. He was quick to respond to any bandits they encountered on patrol. “There are four prisons in this fortress – east, south, west, and north. Girl, do you have any idea where they might be holding your benefactor?”

Yu’er, following closely behind and well-concealed, replied, “She’s probably in the upper chamber behind the meeting hall. I’ve seen the map of the fortress. I remember the way.”

She had glimpsed the map when Qing Jiu brought it out and had memorized the layout of the fortress.

Qi Tianzhu stopped and turned to look at her, surprised. “The map of this fortress isn’t something easily obtained. Where did this girl see it?”

His expression suddenly changed, and he spoke in a low voice, “Two people are coming.”

Qi Tianzhu looked around. The terrain was steep, with houses built on high stone foundations. The narrow path offered little cover. If his internal energy had been restored, he could have used his lightness skill to carry Yu’er across the stone foundations to the rooftops. Unfortunately, with his powers not fully recovered, he had to confront them head-on.

While Qi Tianzhu surveyed the surroundings, Yu’er also observed the pathway. It was steep and winding, lined with wine jars and broken wooden racks, giving it a messy appearance. Behind the wine jars, there was a narrow water channel.

Seeing Qi Tianzhu ready to fight, Yu’er quickly grabbed his hand. Engaging in combat now wouldn’t be advantageous. The two approaching men’s skills were unknown, and any rash action could alert other bandits. Their primary goal was to rescue people; it was best not to take unnecessary risks.

Yu’er pulled Qi Tianzhu towards a round arch in the stone wall. The arch was short and shallow, half-hidden by wine jars, making it a dim and inconspicuous hiding spot.

As Qi Tianzhu thought that this was a good place for Yu’er to hide, she unexpectedly pushed him, “Quick, hide in here.”

“Me?!”

“Your appearance is too distinct. You’d be recognized. I… I can fool them.”

Their voices were getting closer. Yu’er pushed him further inside. Qi Tianzhu took a deep breath, trusting her. He placed the iron staff in the drainage ditch and squeezed into the archway, “It’s too narrow.”

His large frame barely fit into the small space, almost filling up the entire arch.

Yu’er blocked the archway with a few wine jars and placed the iron staff behind them. She then held a jar in her arms.

The light from a nearby intersection cast the shadows of the two men, who were laughing as they appeared. As they approached and saw Yu’er, one of them shouted sharply, “Who’s there, sneaking around!”

Yu’er’s heart pounded fiercely, her body growing cold and heavy. The man’s shout made her tremble, and she struggled to breathe, unable to speak.

Qi Tianzhu watched from the shadows, his muscles tensed, ready to burst out and decapitate the two men at the slightest sign of trouble.

The bandits approached Yu’er. One of them said, “We’re talking to you, kid. What are you doing here, sneaking around?”

The other, stroking his chin, scrutinized Yu’er, “This kid looks unfamiliar. Haven’t seen him around much…”

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Previous: Chapter 6: Hell

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anazu
anazu
1 month ago

Uncle Qi 🔥

Khriss
Khriss
29 days ago

How wholesome ;; Uncle Qi has death flags though with all that backstory.
Tyftc!