Book 1 Chapter 8 – Master Red Crown
While he was enjoying the earthly pleasures, Xiang Shaolong’s mind was in a turmoil.
When he arrived here, everything felt surreal, like a dream. The era he sees before him has got nothing to do with him at all, so he went all out to enjoy himself without feeling any pressure from the society or the people, because he may suddenly be captured by Crazy Ma’s machine and be sent back to the 21st century.
He’s like a child who does not need to take up any responsibility at all.
But after suffering from injuries and his wanderings, this dreamy world suddenly turned into real flesh and blood.
The martyrdom of Yuan Zong, the sufferings of Ting Fangshi, various setbacks, all threw him deeper and deeper into this world mentally and spiritually.
Although he enjoys beauties and riches now, but he lost his most treasured freedom and independence.
In this warring states period, nothing is more valuable than a talent. One legalist Li Ke and one strategist Wu Qi, is enough to make the state of Wei a strong state immediately. Shang Yang is even more formidable, he single-handedly made the state of Qin the biggest threat to all the states in the east.
And the Xiang Shaolong now, because he stopped an army of almost a thousand ferocious horse thieves with fifty men, has also become a talent.
The various states only has 2 attitudes towards talent, either to keep for their own use, or to kill without mercy to prevent them from being a powerful opponent in future.
Right now Master Wu is trying to bribe Xiang Shaolong, using riches and beauties to make him sink deeper in. Therefore if he were to reveal even a little about his intention to look for Emperor Qin, Ying Zheng, he can be sure that he’ll lose his life immediately.
To try and escape from such heavily guarded city walls is akin to a fool’s dream. If Ying Zheng’s father did not have the help of Lu Buwei, a wealthy trader similar to Master Wu, he can forget about escaping back to the capital of Qin, Xian Yang.
Even if he can find Emperor Qin, there’s no way he can get him out of the city.
Will he have to work for the Zhaos indefinitely? If Master Wu asked him to kill people from other states, what should he do?
Xiang Shaolong sighed and walked towards the hall to see Tao Fang.
Tao Fang was hugging a pretty maid in his arms, his hands roaming over her. He released her when he saw him, and warmly invited him to take a seat and to join in the scrumptious breakfast.
Tao Fang smiled slyly, “Shaolong you don’t know how much the Master likes you. Shu’er is a famed beauty from a noble family in the State of Yan, who was given to Master by the ruler of Yan. It’s obvious that he thinks of you highly since he is willing to give her to you.”
Xiang Shaolong asked in surprise, “Aren’t we at war with the State of Yan?”
Tao Fang was obviously very impressed by his choice of word ‘we’, and said frankly, “If we’re not at war, why would the ruler of Yan be willing to present such a beautiful virgin. It’s precisely because he’s not doing well in the war, so he’s trying to bribe our Master with such a huge gift, hoping that our Master will help put in some good words for him in front of our King. Hei! Now Master has given the Yan beauty to you, so it’s obvious that he will not help speak up for the Yans.”
Xiang Shaolong secretly thought to himself that this is such a complicated situation, and changed the subject to ask about Ting Fangshi.
Tao Fang smiled mysteriously, “I’ve spoken to Master about this, he’ll certainly give you an answer, so don’t worry! As long as you have more accomplishments, the King would even give you his Princess, much less a dancer.”
Xiang Shaolong thought that things are not going well, but he had no choice at all. This feeling of being controlled by others is extremely frustrating.
Tao Fang added, “Now I’ll take you to the Wu’s Mansion to meet Master, don’t accept any invitations from your beloved brothers tonight. There’s someone who wants to meet you, but I cannot reveal to you now who that person is.”
Xiang Shaolong’s heart lurched, and he remembered that Lady Ya who was hiding behind the curtains of the horse carriage.
The Wu’s Mansion was the grandest building north of the city, it might even be more appropriate to call it a castle. Tall and thick walls surround it with a moat going around, and the only entrance is a large drawbridge. There are no residential areas outside the walls, only gardens. The grandeur of the place exceeds even that of nobility.
During the journey there, it was the first time Xiang Shaolong really took notice of the people, the things in the city and the buildings. If not for the obvious fact that there are more women to men, it’s not easily detected that this prosperous city has just experienced war, and was even conquered by the Weis for 2 years.
According to Fang Tao, excluding the soldiers, there are about 100,000 families, each family has between a dozen to a few hundred people. Therefore this huge city has an estimated population of over a million people.
Inside the city there were farms, paddy fields and warehouses, so if they are being besieged, those in the city can still be self sufficient for a long time.
Xiang Shaolong followed Tao Fang and went into a side door past the drawbridge into the Wu’s Mansion huge property.
After they went in the main gate, there was enormous training field large enough for a few thousand people, and an imposing huge mansion was facing the gate at the other end. Houses lined both sides of the mansion, and it seems that one day is not enough to tour the whole place.
There were a few hundred people on the training ground separated into groups practicing swordplay, horse riding, archery, and some were even wearing newly made armor and letting others hit them with various weapons to test the sturdiness. But the most exciting place seems to be the archery field, with almost a hundred warriors watching from the side, giving out thunderous cheers once in a while.
Tao Fang’s expression suddenly looked awkward.
Xiang Shaolong unconsciously walked nearer, and saw that the archer is a heroic looking young man wearing a red crown, a yellow warrior’s robe with a dragon sewn on it and black leather warrior’s boots.
He’s almost the same height as Xiang Shaolong, maybe an inch or half inch shorter, extremely well built, muscular and full of charisma.
His eyes were shining, his forehead high and wide, his eyes and nose straight, his lips pursed into a line, with an indescribable air of arrogance and confidence.
Such a handsome and suave man is truly rarely seen.
Sitting on his horse, he placed his arrow on an especially large bow, the hand that pulled the string of the bow was holding another 2 arrows as well.
The string of the bow clanged thrice in quick succession.
The 3 arrows went one after the other, shooting out like a meteor. The first arrow struck the bull’s eye of the target about 200 steps away, and the 2 other arrows shot right into the first arrow successively.
The audience was totally enthralled and cheered.
Xiang Shaolong was dumbstruck at the sight. He would not have believed such out of the world archery skill if he had not seen it with his own eyes.
Tao Fang whispered into his ear, “This ‘Master Red Crown’ Lian Jin is recruited by my nemesis Wu Hei. Regardless of swordplay, horse riding or archery, he’s the best in the mansion. This time I lost more than a hundred horses and Wu Hei is already spreading tales in front of Master. Luckily I now have Shaolong, so I managed to save a bit of face, but Wu Hei and Lian Jin will not let us off.” When he finished his words, his expression looked pained.
Xiang Shaolong sucked in a breath of cool air. His swordplay may be comparable to this Lian Jin now, but as for riding and archery he is far behind. He was just about to reply when he saw a white cloud floating out from amongst the audience. A lady with incomparable beauty dressed in white, with figure slightly better than Shu’er’s ran excitedly towards Lian Jin and spoke to him intimately. Lian Jin immediately handed the large bow in his hand to someone and spoke to her politely. His grace is indeed enough to enchant any beauty.
Xiang Shaolong’s breathing stopped, and he sighed appreciatively, “This must be our state’s most beautiful lady.”
Tao Fang sighed, “This is our Master’s most beloved granddaughter, Miss Wu Tingfang. She’s a little interested in Lian Jin, but Master seems to have the intention of marrying her into the royal family and Lian Jin is worried about that now. Come! Master is waiting for us.”
The two of them left the crowd and walked towards the great mansion.
Someone shouted from behind, “Master Tao please slow down!”
The two of them turned around in surprise.
That Lian Jin came towards them from the crowd, following behind him is the rare beauty Wu Tingfang.
Xiang Shaolong can’t help but look at Wu Tingfang, his eyes made contact with her lively and mischievous eyes, and he felt his heart beating wildly.
Heavens! She look even prettier than a flower, unparalleled in her beauty when seen up close.
When seen from afar earlier he only noticed her chest, waist and legs etc, and already he felt that she’s a little better than Shu’er, but she looks even more outstanding when seen close up. The unhidden freshness seems to gush towards him, taking one’s breath away. Even though Xiang Shaolong had always prided himself on being a flirt, but now on seeing her he began to feel unworthy.
Like a cottonrose emerging from the clear pond, like nature’s carving.
Her natural beauty seems to be made from the tools of the gods, her shoulder carved with a knife, her waist bounded by silk, her neck long and tender, her skin smooth and white, her bright eyes looking around prettily, her dimples sunken in a slight smile, her hair that floated like the clouds, with a jade green hairpin in it, wearing a warrior’s clothes with pearls decorating it, her feet wearing tiny calfskin boots, looking exactly like a fairy who came from heaven.
Wu Tingfang saw him staring at her and showed her unhappiness.
Xiang Shaolong was startled from his daze and immediately looked at Lian Jin.
Lian Jin was sizing him up coldly, his expression none too polite.
Tao Fang is a wily old fox indeed, and hurriedly introduced the two of them.
Wu Tingfang said coldly, “Oh! So you’re Xiang Shaolong, Grandfather is very impressed with you!”
Lian Jin moved a little closer to Wu Tingfang, to show his familiarity with this beauty, and said with a smile, “I am also very impressed with Brother Xiang, why don’t we find a good day and exchange some pointers, and let me see the divine sword that can block an army of 800 horse thieves.”
Xiang Shaolong can tell that although his words sounded polite, but it was full of sarcasm, hinting that Tao Fang had been exaggerating about this matter and he was secretly upset. He was thinking that if he can have a freestyle boxing match with this conceited man, he’ll surely beat him up until his head is swollen like a pig. But if the competition is on other things, then he’d better avoid it if possible, so he can only smile humbly and replied, “Brother Lian’s archery skills is unparalleled, I cannot be compared to you. I’m not qualified enough to exchange pointers with Brother Lian, but would hope that Brother Lian can give some advise when you’re free.”
When Wu Tingfang thought that they were going to have a duel, she was quite excited but once she heard his reply, she was disappointed and chided him, “Coward!” before turning around and leaving.
Lian Jin is obviously very satisfied with Wu Tingfang’s reaction, and he looked heavenward and laughed, “Brother Xiang really disappoints me, in that case I shall not make things difficult for Brother Xiang!” He turned around and ran after Wu Tingfang.
Xiang Shaolong was feeling calm instead, and with a nonchalant laugh, continued walking with Tao Fang towards the huge mansion.
Tao Fang nodded his head, “It’s good to tolerate for the time being. Shaolong may be highly skilled, but I’m afraid you’re still not his match.” He continued with a low voice, “That lad has been going around Handan looking for people to duel with him, and everyone is scared of him after a few fights. I really hope someone can take him down a peg or two.”
Xiang Shaolong knows that he’s trying to instigate him, so he smiled and said, “If Master Tao can make it such that there’s no restrictions in my duel with him, I am 70% confident that I can teach him a good lesson.”
Tao Fang exclaimed happily, “That’s easy, let me find a suitable location for Shaolong to show off your ability. How I wish I can see that Wu Hei’s expression immediately.”