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Jianghu Demolition Squad

Jianghu By Jul 05, 2024 1 Comment
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Chapter 70: Undercurrents of Conflict

Martial Arts Competition Under The Heavens (Part Fifteen)

The rain had fallen in a soft drizzle all night, and by the next day, the weather remained gloomy, forcing a temporary pause in the martial arts competition.

When Yu’er woke up, Qing Jiu was already gone. She searched inside and out but saw no sign of her.

As it happened, Jie Qianchou was stretching his body in the courtyard, practicing a few simple palm techniques. Seeing Yu’er, he was inspired to teach her a new set of moves.

The two headed towards the ginkgo forest next to Ningqing Garden. The recent rain had nearly stripped the trees of their leaves, leaving a carpet of golden foliage on the ground. Mist hung in the air, and the tree trunks were still wet.

As they walked deeper into the forest, they suddenly heard the clash of swords.

Jie Qianchou, curious, didn’t dodge or hide but walked openly towards the noise to see what was happening.

Just about ten steps ahead, two figures were engaged in a duel. One wielded a broad and powerful sword, the other a graceful and fluid sword, each demonstrating exceptionally refined techniques.

Their figures rose and fell among the ginkgo trees, ethereal and otherworldly in the thin mist.

Upon closer inspection, Jie Qianchou exclaimed, “Isn’t that Qing Jiu, that mischievous girl? And the other one, is that Hao Yun?”

Indeed, it was Qing Jiu and Hao Yun. Yu’er had been searching all morning without success for Qing Jiu, only to find her now in the forest, practicing swordsmanship with Hao Yun. Yu’er’s delicate eyebrows furrowed slightly, a prickling sensation in her heart.

“The saber technique is powerful and heavy, the swordplay light and nimble. One displays a commanding presence, solid as a rock, while the other is sharp and unstoppable, graceful as the wind. Despite their different styles, they surprisingly complement each other well.” Jie Qianchou stroked his beard and observed with narrowed eyes. After a moment, he smiled and asked Yu’er, “Disciple, you’ve been traveling with Qing Jiu. Do you know if she’s married?”

“Speaking of Hao Yun, though somewhat unkempt, he has a handsome and upright appearance, and his character is heroic and generous, truly a fine man. The only flaw is that he’s nearing his thirties without having settled down.”

“His father and I were acquaintances. He sacrificed his life for the sake of righteousness, and in the end, he couldn’t even see his son one last time. If I can arrange a marriage for his son, it would be a way to honor our friendship. I think that Qing Jiu girl is an excellent match. In many ways, she and Hao Yun complement each other. They both have an unrestrained and carefree nature, so they’ll surely get along well. Disciple, you…”

“I don’t know!”

Yu’er’s sudden outburst startled Jie Qianchou, who stared dumbfounded at his own disciple, sensing her anger but not understanding why.

Yu’er lowered her voice, “I don’t know if she’s married or not.”

She realized she was angry and understood why. Looking towards the distant figures, she felt an overwhelming tightness in her chest.

It was truly the first time she had experienced such a frustrating emotion.

“Hey, disciple! Disciple!”

The duel between Qing Jiu and Hao Yun concluded. They each took half a step back and sheathed their weapons.

Hao Yun laughed loudly, “After thinking it over, your words seemed truthful, but it was necessary to test it myself to be fully convinced.”

After finishing his laughter, Hao Yun let out a long sigh, feeling quite sentimental, “After laughing, he sighed deeply, a tinge of melancholy in his voice, “To know that the Lin family still has surviving descendants… My old man can rest peacefully now.”

Qing Jiu lowered her gaze, a faint smile on her lips. She spoke softly, “Your father was a man of righteousness and loyalty. He shed every last drop of his blood for my father, fighting until the very last moment without ever retreating or showing fear. His awe-inspiring figure still shakes my heart to this day. I’ve never forgotten his kindness to the Lin family. Last time in Jiangnan, circumstances prevented us from speaking, but now that fate has brought us together again, I feel a wish fulfilled.”

Qing Jiu paused for a moment before asking Hao Yun, “Brother Hao, is there truly nothing you wish to do?”

Hao Yun laughed heartily, “The debt of gratitude is between your family and my old man. What does it have to do with me? Even if it were a debt of gratitude, it shouldn’t fall on me. Besides, my old man called your father his sworn brother. Protecting the Lin family and being willing to lay down his life for his brother was simply his duty. There’s no need to speak of repaying favors. Lastly, when we were in Jiangnan, I acted foolishly and nearly lost my sense of righteousness. Fortunately, you all were there to enlighten me. If anything, I still owe you a debt of gratitude. Haha! With all this back-and-forth about favors, it’s getting too complicated and troublesome. Why don’t we just call it even?”

Qing Jiu smiled faintly, “You really are his son, you’re just like him. If that’s what you think is best, then let’s leave it at that.”

Hao Yun laughed, “What son doesn’t resemble his father?”

“Anyway, what do you plan to do now? I originally came to the World Martial Arts Competition because of the rumor that the Mingjian Manor had obtained the Fenghou Sword. Damn it, I don’t even know if it’s true. But regardless of its authenticity, if your identity is revealed, it’s going to be very dangerous. Those people from back then are probably not all gone…”

Hao Yun’s words suddenly halted as he was struck by the chilling murderous aura emanating from Qing Jiu. Such a cold and sinister atmosphere had not shown the slightest trace before, but now it abruptly poured forth, akin to the scent of blood for a blade-wielding warrior like him.

Qing Jiu laughed coldly, “Of course they haven’t all died.”

“The sword in the Mingjian Manor can’t possibly be the Fenghou Sword.”

“If you say it isn’t, then it must not be,” Hao Yun paused, suddenly realizing something, and asked, “Qing Jiu, are you traveling jianghu to seek revenge against those people?”

The autumn wind whipped their clothes as Qing Jiu spoke calmly, “There are too many of them; I can’t find them all. Besides, I promised my teachers I wouldn’t embark on a massive slaughter, just seek revenge against the person orchestrating everything behind the scenes.”

Hao Yun asked, “Do you have any leads?”

Qing Jiu shook her head.

Hao Yun said solemnly, “If you ever need my help, just say the word. My old man called your father his sworn brother, so you and I can be considered sworn siblings. I’ve been holding a grudge for many years over the Lin family’s vengeance and my old man’s grudge.”

Qing Jiu chuckled. It was Hao Yun’s loyalty and righteousness that made her comfortable enough to disclose her true identity to him without hesitation.

As they were speaking, they heard approaching footsteps. Looking up, they saw Jie Qianchou and Yu’er coming towards them.

Upon seeing Jie Qianchou, Qing Jiu naturally thought of wine. She unhooked the gourd from her waist and handed it to Hao Yun with a smile, “Even though you said we’re even, I still believe in repaying both grudges and kindness. This wine, which I brewed myself and even earned praise from Elder Jie, is yours if you’ll have it. I’ll send you more if I find the time later.”

Fearing that he would refuse, Qing Jiu added with a smile, “If you still feel that the debt of gratitude has nothing to do with you, then consider it a gift from a sworn sister to a sworn brother.”

Hao Yun, who loved his liquor, was not about to refuse such a fine gift. He took the gourd, removed the stopper, and was immediately greeted by the delightful aroma. His eyes lit up as he exclaimed, “Thank you, Sister Qing Jiu. This foolish brother won’t be shy!”

Just as Jie Qianchou arrived, he caught the scent of the wine. Seeing Qing Jiu giving the wine to Hao Yun, his face flushed with urgency and he began to protest loudly, “How can you give it to this youngster? No, that won’t do!!”

Qing Jiu said, “Elder, Yu’er, what brings you here?”

Yu’er avoided looking at Qing Jiu, her tone unusually cold. “My master and I came to the forest to practice martial arts.”

Qing Jiu was a little puzzled by her demeanor. She remained silent for a moment, then a thought flashed through her mind. The corners of her mouth curled up as if she had figured something out, but she didn’t say anything.

Meanwhile, Jie Qianchou had already lunged at Hao Yun, attempting to snatch the wine gourd. Hao Yun dodged repeatedly, protesting, “Elder Jie, even if you’re an elder, there’s no reason for you to randomly take things from your junior!”

“This wine would be wasted on you; give it back!”

“This was given to me by sister Qing Jiu, if it needs to be returned, it certainly won’t be to you!” Hao Yun declared.

Hearing this, Jie Qianchou became even more incensed. Yu’er’s expression also grew darker. Meanwhile, Qing Jiu’s smile deepened as she watched the scene unfold.

Just as Hao Yun and Jie Qianchou were about to come to blows, a figure clad in green rushed over from the direction of the manor. The speed was extremely fast, and with a few leaps, the person arrived in front of the four of them. It turned out to be Yang Chun.

He wiped the sweat from his forehead with his large sleeve, “Thank heavens, I finally found you, Miss Qing Jiu.”

Qing Jiu asked, “What’s the matter?”

Yang Chun replied, “Something happened in the manor. Brother Hua Lian asked me to come and get you.”

Qing Jiu immediately set off, “Explain on the way.”

Yu’er and the others quickly followed, and the five of them accompanied Yang Chun back to the manor.

On the way, they listened to Yang Chun’s explanation and finally understood what had happened.

Early this morning, the Qixian Palace approached the Mingjian Manor, reporting that two of their disciples had been missing all night. Despite searching everywhere, they couldn’t find them. The Mingjian Manor then dispatched servants and disciples to search for them. They scoured the main peak but found no trace of them. It was as if the two living people had vanished into thin air.

Moreover, upon further investigation, they discovered that several other jianghu heroes were also missing.

Since these individuals were mostly solitary travelers, their disappearance wasn’t noticed in a timely manner. No one knew exactly when they had gone missing.

At this moment, the manor was heavy with suspicion and uncertainty. The unexplained disappearances of jianghu heroes at Mingjian Manor led people to speculate about possible vendettas, but if these were indeed acts of revenge, there were no signs of struggle, and any fight within the manor would surely have drawn attention.

Regardless of the truth, with people vanishing from the manor and even involving the Qixian Palace, the Mingjian Manor, as the host, had to provide an explanation.

Therefore, the Mingjian Manor dispatched disciples to search inside and outside the manor and investigate suspicious individuals. At the same time, they invited the Master of Xuhuai Valley to examine the rooms of the missing people for clues and check for the presence of drugs.

By the time the five of them arrived, both Xuhuai Valley and the Mingjian Manor’s people were present. Among the three people from Xuhuai Valley, Qing Jiu and the others recognized two of them – Zelan and Zizhi, whom they had met in the mountain village. The woman in front of them had also been seen briefly before.

Dressed in purple robes, her pale skin and cold eyes suggested she was in her thirties, yet she radiated an elegance beyond compare, truly embodying the phrase “her grace is like the orchid.”

This person was none other than the Master of Xuhuai Valley – Bai Sang. On the first day they arrived at the Mingjian Manor, when they encountered Zelan, everyone only caught a glimpse of her. Now, having the opportunity to take a proper look, they couldn’t help but marvel at her extraordinary bearing, befitting the valley master of the world’s most renowned valley.

Mingjian Manor had three representatives. Yan Beili stood with his hands behind his back to one side. Behind him stood his two sons: his eldest, Yan Siguo, who had a clear and scholarly appearance, and his younger son, Yan Jianyu, who was bold and arrogant—the same young master who had greeted Qing Jiu and the others that morning.

Bai Sang carefully examined the tea sets in the room and searched the beds, wardrobes, and other areas.

The room, being relatively far from Ningqing Garden, was in a more secluded area, and apart from the two Qixian Palace disciples, the other missing individuals also resided in remote locations.

Hua Lian, Yan Li, and the others stood in the courtyard, keeping a distance from the house.

Qing Jiu whispered to Hua Lian, “You, Linzhi, and Yang Chun didn’t see him return to his room at midnight last night. It seems that he disappeared around that time.”

Coincidentally, the person staying in this room was none other than Wan Chao, who had challenged the Wuwei Palace and fought the first match against Yu’er. Now, he had mysteriously vanished.

Qing Jiu discreetly inquired, “Did you notice anything unusual at the time?” Hua Lian, Tang Linzhi, and Yang Chun, the three of them, had woken up in the middle of the night on the first night. During the day, they had paid attention to Wan Chao’s room. When they passed by, they had originally intended to teach Wan Chao a lesson, but the man was not in his room. The three of them were quite disappointed. By the second day, they hadn’t seen him at all.

Hua Lian shook his head and said, “If there were any drugs or the like, Tiger Lady would have been able to smell it. Since she didn’t say anything, there must not have been any.”

At this point, Qi Tianzhu and Tang Linzhi reluctantly brought Mo Wen from Ningqing Garden. I say reluctantly because Mo Wen was literally dragged over by Tang Linzhi and Qi Tianzhu, one on each side.

After all, investigating this mysterious affair would naturally involve Mo Wen, especially if drugs were suspected. Although they planned to stay out of it, they couldn’t just ignore the potential danger without understanding what was going on.

If they wanted to watch the drama unfold, they needed to see it clearly and understand fully.

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Khriss
Khriss
13 days ago

Humm missing people, how fun! Also it seems QJ, sharp as ever, noticed Yu’er’s vinegar. It’s only a little but she’s so transparent 🤣