Chapter 201 – The Past Grievances of the Jianghu
“Your daughter is indeed a clever and polite girl. Seeing her was worth it.” The last time Li Qingshan saw her was when they were surrounded by a group of people from the martial arts society. At the time, he had to constantly remain cautious about the West Gate Granny. Even if they did end up conversing, he would have placed all of his attention on Hua Chenglu. Now that he saw Yu Zijian again, it was quite a surprise.
“You’re too kind, you’re too kind.” Yu Shukuang smiled, but he wondered, Has this Li Qingshan taken an interest in my daughter? The first thought that crossed his head was ‘absolutely not’. How could he hand his daughter to a mass-murderer?
But upon further thought, he realised that it might actually be possible for Li Qingshan to become interested in her. He had seen Li Qingshan’s original appearance before. He knew he was only sixteen or seventeen years old, around the same age as Yu Zijian. He had a somewhat dignified appearance, and he had only become like this to avoid enemies.
As previously mentioned, in the eyes of experienced members of the jianghu, Li Qingshan’s appearance was much more pleasing compared to those pale-faced, slightly more feminine scholars. Moreover, he was startlingly powerful. It would all boil down to what his girl wanted!
However, it was impossible for this thought to come to fruition.
That was because as Li Qingshan studied Yu Zijian, Yu Zijian studied Li Qingshan as well.
The shadow from the bamboo hat had almost hidden his dark face, only exposing a beardless chin. And, while the yellow robes he wore were specially made, several sizes larger than robes for regular people, they were still unable to hide his twisting muscles.
All young women thought of love, but the people they thought of were those graceful gentlemen, those handsome youths, not some supersized musclehead. Probably only desperate women would take an interest in someone like him.
When the sharp gaze swept out from the darkness, Yu Zijian could not help but shudder slightly and lower her head in a hurry. The gaze seemed to be dangerously invasive, preventing her from looking straight into his eyes.
With her head lowered, she now saw the pig and chicken bones littered on the ground. Clearly, this great hero Niu’s mouth had been busy when he had been alone.
Though, Li Qingshan was truly faultless here. The quality of the feast Yu Shukuang had prepared was extraordinary. Whether it be the whole-roasted lamb, the cold pork knuckles, or the braised beef, all of it was delicious. These were all of his favourite foods as a carnivore. There were even steamed bear paws, which were wonderful in favour.
He let his belly loose and ate plenty of it. However, not a single thing left his mouth after entering it, including the bones. He was like a wild beast, grinding the bones to dust and eating them as well.
The bones on the ground came from Xiao An. With how much time she spent by Li Qingshan’s side, her appetite had grown as well. When she ate, she took her time chewing and swallowing, eating in a sophisticated manner, but she just happened to be no slower than Li Qingshan, who wolfed everything down.
However, she simply refused to eat the bones. Although she smelted white bones, she had no interest in the bones of cooked animals. Actually, none of what she ate reached her stomach. All of it was refined by her flames. She only did it for the taste.
With how much respect Yu Shukuang had shown towards him, Yu Zijian directly treated Li Qingshan as a senior on the level of her uncles, so she obviously took no interest in him as a man.
“Zijian!” Yu Shukuang tugged Yu Zijian’s sleeve, and she returned to her senses. She raised her head, “Thank you, great hero Niu.” As she listened to Li Qingshan’s deep voice, she remained as calm as stillwater inside. However, she just found him to be slightly familiar, so she asked without further thought, “Have we met before?”
Li Qingshan shook his head and asked with a smile, “Do you have a hundred treasures pouch?”
“I don’t,” Yu Zijian answered honestly. Originally, Hua Chenglu wanted to give her one, but she was afraid that she would never be able to return the favour, so she refused it. She heard that as long as she could join the Academy of the Hundred Schools, she would be able to collect her own hundred treasures pouch.
“This was the first hundred treasures pouch that I obtained. You can treat it as a congratulating gift!” Li Qingshan took out a rather worn out hundred treasures pouch. It had come from Qian Rongzhi’s dead brother.
He found this girl to be pretty good, but he did not actually develop any improper thoughts towards her, wanting to give her something extremely precious in an attempt to please her.
However, if the gift was too insignificant, it would be inappropriate. It had to be suitable. He just happened to have many hundred treasures pouches on him, and they were items that all Qi Practitioners required. Hundred treasures pouches could not be stored in one another, so he could only fold them up and carry them on him. He had so many of them that he almost became a member of the Beggar’s gang, with an unprecedented dozen or so bags at that1. Now was the perfect time for him to get rid of one of them.
Yu Shukuang was overjoyed. He had heard about the hundred treasures pouches a long time ago. They were even rarer than spiritual artifacts. Li Qingshan was so generous as soon as it came to gift-giving, such that he felt like he had not been busying himself recently for nothing.
“That’s far too precious!” Yu Zijian turned it down in a hurry and glanced at Yu Shukuang. She wondered just what relationship this great hero Niu had with her father. How come she had never heard of him before?
Li Qingshan smiled. “I’m just afraid that you’ll find it to be far too worn out. If you don’t like it, I have others. You can exchange them with me.”
“That’s not what I meant!” Yu Zijian waved her hands in a hurry, while Yu Shukuang coughed gently. “If great hero Niu wants you to accept it, just accept it!”
Only then did Yu Zijiang happily accept the worn out hundred treasures pouch. She basically felt the same as Li Qingshan before. It was exactly because it was worn out that she could accept it calmly.
Li Qingshan said, “There’s still a lot of people waiting for you at the front, so there’s no need to waste any more time here. You’d better go!”
Yu Shukuang said, “Then we’ll be bidding you farewell. If you require anything, feel free to ask the servants.”
With their departure, Li Qingshan took off his bamboo hat and lifted Xiao An from the bamboo basket, placing her on his knee. “Let’s keep eating!”
The feast unfolded.
Yu Shukuang had already become bright red from drinking. He was currently involved in a competition of who could drink the most with his good friend, the master of the Elation sect.
At the entrance, a man with a pitted face raised his head and looked at the three words, ‘Proud Sword Manor’, hanging up above. He sneered in resentment.
He was in his forties, and he wore a magnificent set of robes. A treasured blade hung from his waist. The hilt was made from pure gold, and it was embedded with a cat’s eye gem. It was extremely stately, as if he wanted to broadcast that he was rich.
Afterwards, he barged in.
“Who are you?” “You cannot enter without an invitation.” Just when the guarding disciples wanted to stop him, the man with the pitted face waved his hand. He had not even touched the disciples, but they were all sent flying backwards.
“An innate master!” There were many people of the jianghu at the feast. They all cried out at this sight. Only inante masters could release their true qi externally.
The man with the pockmarked face stopped before the hall and barked under the gaze of several hundred guests, “Yu Shukuang, you’ve invited everyone from everywhere, so how could you have forgotten about this old friend of yours?!”
Yu Shukuang heard the disturbance outside and rushed outside with his fellow martial arts practitioners. He looked down from the steps above and gasped, “You Pitted Madman!” His fellow martial arts practitioners all changed in expression.
A young man asked on a table of individual guests, “Who’s the Pitted Madman? Why haven’t I heard of him before?”
An old man who had a thorough understanding of the matters of the jianghu whispered, “His name is Ma Chaoqun. He’s skilled in the thirty-six forms of the Mad Demon Blade style. He’s extremely vicious in battle, and he always tries to drag the opponent down with him. His face is pitted as well, which is why they call him the Pitted Madman.”
“What past does he have with great hero Yu?”
“The Proud Sword hall used to be called the Mad Blade hall!”
In the past, the two of them had once fought with each other over a woman, gambling with their lives. Ma Chaoqun was defeated in a single move, and from then onwards, he vanished into the wilderness and never appeared again. Yu Shukuang took the woman as his wife and used the Mad Blade hall as a foundation to rapidly expand his influence, uniting the entire city under him in the end.
Never did he think that this old rival of his would appear again after all these years, and he would have become an innate master already.
Yu Shukuang wavered. He put on a smile and clasped his hands. “Brother Ma, it has been several years. Have you been well?”
Ma Chaoqun was surprised at first before bursting out with laughter. “That doesn’t sound like something that the pride swordsman I know would say. What happened to your pride? Where’s Zi’er? I want to see her!” Then he suddenly called out madly, “Zi’er, your senior brother is back. I’ve already become an innate master!”
However, no one dared to mock his madness. His call was filled with innate true qi, which shook up the hall. It made everyone’s ears ring as they all became shocked.
Yu Shukuang sighed. “Zi’er she… passed away quite a few years ago.”
Ma Chaoqun was stunned. His eyes reddened as he gritted his teeth. “Sh- she’s already dead? She must have died because of you! You weren’t the one she liked. Yes, she must have discovered that you had poisoned me, right?”
“What are you saying? My father would never poison anyone!” Yu Zijian had originally been standing in the crowd. When she heard that, she refused to accept it. She immediately stood forward from the crowd and rebuked loudly.
“Zi’er?” Ma Chaoqun was dazed. Only after a closer glance did he discover that her age did not seem to match. “Who are you?”
“I’m Yu Zijian. I’m my father’s daughter. And who do you happen to be, to come and make trouble in the Proud Sword manor?”
Ma Chaoqun suddenly understood. “I will expose the hypocrite that he is before everyone. Back then, I was already a first-rate master, while your father was only at the peak of the second-rate. How could his proud sword defeat my mad blade? If it weren’t for the fact that your father poisoned me, how could he have won?”
Just when Yu Zijian wanted to rebuke him, Yu Shukuang stopped her. “That’s right. I would have never been able to defeat you back then!”
“Father?” Yu Zijian looked at Yu Shukuang in disbelief.
There was an uproar. Although Yu Shukuang was not as upright as Yu Zijian had imagined him to be, he was still a central figure within the orthodox jianghu. He had made a name for himself as a heroic figure.
Ma Chaoqun was surprised at first. He never thought that Yu Shukuang would admit it so easily. He laughed aloud. “You’ve all heard it! Girly, you heard it too. You know exactly what your father is now!”
“However, the poison didn’t come from me. It came from Zi’er.” Yu Shukuang’s next words made everyone fall silent.
“My mother?!” Yu Zijian was stunned. She did not have a particularly deep impression of her mother, who had passed away so early. She only remembered her to be an extremely gentle and beautiful woman who sighed constantly. Yu Shukuang often told her about her mother’s kind-heartedness as well.
Ma Chaoqun felt like his heart had been struck by a boulder, causing it to ripple and surge. “Impossible. You have to be lying. Junior sister has always been infatuated with me, so why would she work against me? Why would she work against me!?”
With a swish, he drew the treasured blade from his waist and pointed it at Yu Shukuang. It shone brightly. It was actually a low grade spiritual artifact.
1. The Beggar’s gang, also known as the Beggar’s sect, is an organisation frequently appearing in wuxia fiction. Each member carries a ‘bag’, and the more bags they carry, the more important they are in the gang. You can read more about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beggars%27_Sect#cite_ref-TLBB_3-2