Book 1 Chapter 9 – Never-ending hatred
Xiang Shaolong finally saw Master Wu at the side hall, this person who is not of the nobility, but has the powers of a nobility, controlling the economy of the state of Zhao, the extremely wealthy man who earned his fortunes from keeping livestock.
Xiang Shaolong has never seen a man more grand than him.
Just the crown on his head was encrusted with two rows of 12 glittering purple jewels of similar size.
This rich merchant is large and fat, like a mountain of flesh lying horizontally on the seat, in the arms of a beauty who was cleaning his ears. Another 4 females were carefully filing his fingernails and toenails. Such an ostentatious display, even the emperor may pale in comparison.
The yellow silk robe he wore was twined with dazzling pearls with an air of luxury, the belt around his waist was stunningly bright, with gold and silver pieces reflecting off one another.
He was on a raised platform, about 3 floors high, and below the platform there were 18 warriors standing in 2 rows. Any coward who witnesses such a display would have been scared out of his wits.
When Xiang Shaolong and Tao Fang knelt down to pay their respects, Master Wu sat up and dismissed his maids. His thin and long eyes opened, looking at Xiang Shaolong piercingly, and after sizing him for a moment, said with a cold snort, “Xiang Shaolong, why didn’t you accept Lian Jin’s challenge. Is it because you don’t live up to your reputation at all, but only relied on your commanding looks?”
Xiang Shaolong was shocked.
Tao Fang was about to speak up.
Master Wu gave a loud shout and raised his hand to signal Tao Fang to shut up. His face was already swollen with flesh, and now his features are all scrunched up even more tightly together in the middle of his face and he said with displeasure, “Lian Jin may be a valuable talent, but he’s still from the state of Wei, and not from our state. That’s why I specially ordered him to challenge you so that we Zhaos can show off our prowess. Now that you backed down from the challenge, what else do you have to say.”
Xiang Shaolong was secretly cursing him, but he said without arrogance or servility, “What Shaolong learnt was for killing, and not for such games such as exchanging pointers.”
Master Wu laughed icily, “What’s the difference between the two.”
By now Xiang Shaolong has figured out the character of this rich merchant of livestock, and said haughtily, “The way to kill, is to use all methods, to be ruthless, to kill the enemy at all costs. But exchanging pointers in a duel, is just to see whose swordplay is more beautifully executed, it’s more a game than a battle, so naturally it’s another matter altogether.”
Master Wu’s expression warmed slightly, but he was still not satisfied, and said each word clearly, “I can’t possibly ask you to kill a few of my men just like that, so how do I know if you’re really that capable?”
Xiang Shaolong’s eyes gleamed, and stared back at him without fear. He said with a slight smile, “Since Master has such expectations of me, I will have a duel with Lian Jin, but there must not be any rules on my methods of winning him.”
Master Wu stared at him for a while before bursting out into laughter and said, “Very interesting child. His Majesty has always wished that a Zhao would be able to humiliate Lian Jin and help our state of Zhao regain some face. Fine! Then let me arrange a feast, if you can defeat Lian Jin in front of his Majesty, I’ll give Fang Tingshi back to you.”
Xiang Shaolong knelt down happily, secretly thinking that if he doesn’t beat Lian Jin up like how he thrashed Black Faced Deity, he’ll write his name Xiang Shaolong backwards.
Master Wu and Tao Fang looked at each other, extremely baffled at his joy and confidence.
Could it be that he really thinks that he can defeat the unparalleled Lian Jin?
They have just returned to the guest house and Xiang Shaolong was about to slip away to find Shu’er when he bumped into Li Shan and two warriors who is quite close to him at the main door and they dragged him out to celebrate his return.
The 4 of them roamed the streets happily, flirting with the beauties they saw, thoroughly enjoying themselves.
Li Shan said with a laugh, “Handan’s beauties are famous for being easy to woo, with Brother Xiang’s capabilities, you only have to hook your fingers and I guarantee all the beauties will queue up for Brother Xiang to choose from.”
The warrior called Han Dong added, “But Brother Xiang need not find women on the streets today, we’ve especially found some sweet ladies to accompany you.”
Another warrior Zha Bei put his arms around his shoulder and said, “Don’t ever think that we’re finding some used goods as obligations. We’ve specially prepared for Brother Xiang the noble daughter of a high-ranking officer, who is outstandingly beautiful. She can only blame her father for antagonizing the Emperor, so she was demoted to become a prostitute for officials. I guarantee that Brother Xiang will be satisfied.”
Xiang Shaolong furrowed his brows when he heard that, and began to understand why Yuan Zong wanted to change this world. Ai! But how can he have the capability to fulfill his dream. What he can do is to give these ill fated women who has become prostitutes a little more gentleness and love, and by the time he thought of that, he was already pushed into a grand mansion by the other three.
A skinny man of about 40 wearing a splendid outfit welcomed them, “Welcome Master Xiang, Sirs please come to the guest room on the second floor.”
The 4 of them sat down on the rug in the room, and after the maids sent in wine and dishes, a procuress by the name of Hong Niangzi came is. Although she’s middle-aged, but she took great care in dolling up, and her figure is still well maintained. Coupled with her intoxicating style, she’s still able to stir some blood. On seeing such a handsome man like Xiang Shaolong, she was especially warm in her welcome and said with a coquettish smile, “The lady will be here immediately to accompany Master Xiang, would Master Li and the rest want to try someone fresh.”
Li Shan and the rest agreed with a laugh and Hong Niangzi went out of the room with her plush hips swaying.
Xiang Shaolong secretly thought that it’s no wonder that prostitution is the oldest occupation in the world, and it’s always the same method and atmosphere. But why is it that in the past when he was in the bars going after the beer ladies, he never felt his conscience pricking, but now he kept feeling this is not quite appropriate?
The sounds of jewelry clinking can be heard from the corridor outside, followed by the whiff of a fragrance and 3 pretty young ladies wearing a thin gauzes walked in with a smile. They sat in the arms of Li Shan and the rest, but were making eyes at Xiang Shaolong, obviously they were more interested in him.
By now Hong Niangzi has brought in a tall, slim and fair lady, who looked extremely pretty and bright, with a graceful air about her. Indeed she looked extremely pure.
Li Shan and the rest stared, looking greedily at the magnificent scenery beneath her thin veil of clothes.
Hong Niangzi laughed, “I did not lie to you, right? Good daughter, have you ever seen a better looking and loving man than Master Xiang?”
The beauty lowered her eyes sadly, refusing to lift her head up at all.
Xiang Shaolong couldn’t bear to see this and was about to say something when Hong Niangzi pushed her into her arms, sitting on his lap.
The thighs touching his, a wave of intoxication spread over him, and the well-proportioned body covered by a thin veil, seemingly revealing the luscious bosom, made Xiang Shaolong’s eyes blurry. He can’t help but hug her tiny waist and took a sniff of her face.
Su Nu lowered her head and did not speak.
Hong Niangzi made eyes at Xiang Shaolong, walked behind him and leaned over, pressing her bosom tightly into his back, going between the two of them and said softly, “Master Xiang is the lady’s first customer. If not for the fact that Master Li used the name of Master Wu, I wouldn’t have let this good girl accompany Master Xiang before her training is done. Because of this, if Su Nu has offended you in any way, Master Xiang please forgive her.” And she left with a smile.
Xiang Shaolong looked at the lady’s slender fingers, listening to how Li Shan and the rest were teasing her, and he felt a rush of anger in his chest. He whispered gently into the Su Nu’s ears, “Don’t worry! I won’t be disrespectful towards you like them. We’ll just chat and drink, all right?”
Su Nu was stunned for a moment, and finally lifted her head up to look at this strange man who is being so intimate with her.
Xiang Shaolong smiled at her.
Su Nu blushed and immediately lowered her head, but she’s no longer so afraid. She can’t help but steal another glance at him, and her heart started beating wildly, thinking to herself that this man is really good looking. And it’s rare that his gaze looked so upright and honorable. Oh heavens! Why did she have to meet a man like that only at a place like this?
Xiang Shaolong felt his desire rising as well, but once he thought of his promised, he hurriedly suppressed his fire.
Su Nu gritted her teeth, raised her head and looked at him shyly and said, “I thank Master for your kind intentions. Master need not feel pity that I have been reduced to such a situation, besides there’s no use in pity as well. Anyone here can tease me at will.”
Xiang Shaolong felt a sadness in his heart and sighed.
Su Nu was perplexed and she hugged his neck, asking, “Master seems to be troubled!”
Xiang Shaolong looked at Li Shan and the rest, and saw that those 3 men’s hands and mouth were already roaming around the ladies in their arms, totally engrossed in doing various unspeakable things. He said with a bitter smile, “I only wish to leave now, and have no wish to witness further the sad things that happened in this world.”
Su Nu was surprised and exclaimed, “Master’s thinking is really different from the others. All the men that came here has never thought of our sadness and pain.” She continued quietly, “I’m not lying to Master, but now I really hope that Master will be impolite to me, just like that 3 friends of yours.”
This time it was Xiang Shaolong’s turn to be surprised, “Why would you think that?”
Su Nu said shyly, “Maybe I’m affected by them, and my desires have been flamed, or maybe I have fallen in love with Master. I’m not sure myself!”
The girl Li Shan was hugging stood up at this point in time and said breathlessly, “The night is short, why don’t we go up to our own rooms for more fun. Brother Xiang must not forget Master Tao’s appointment tonight.”
Just as they were about to step out of the room, Hong Niangzi came in looking miserable and said, “Sirs, I am in a difficult position!”
Li Shan was extremely surprised, and pulled the official courtesan to sit on the rug and asked in bafflement, “Hong Niangzi is in charge of the official courtesans in Handan, who would dare to make things difficult for you. Just tell us, and we will settle it for you.”
Hong Niangzi looked at Li Shan with a little disdain, and turned towards Xiang Shaolong and said, “I don’t know who leaked the news, Prince Shaoyuan just came with a dozen or so of his men to the officials brothel and demanded that I hand Su Nu to him.”
The expression on Li Shan and the rest changed, obviously this Prince Shaoyuan is someone so powerful that even they cannot afford to offend him.
Su Nu went “Ah!”, her pretty face turned pale, her body shook, like a little lamb waiting to be slaughtered.
Hong Niangzi sighed and said, “No one in Handan now can afford to offend Prince Shaojun. We can only blame Su Nu’s beauty for being so famous. Su Nu, come with me!”
Su Nu screamed, “No!” and hugged Xiang Shaolong in a death grip as she stood up crying, making others pity her even more so.
Li Shan and Han Dong exchanged looks helplessly and explained to Xiang Shaolong, “Prince Shaoyuan is the son of Prince Pingyuan, who passed away last year and the family’s power has been passed to him. Even our Master has to be careful of him and his Majesty has been protecting him on account on Prince Pingyuan. If we were to clash with him, we may not be able to win the swordsmen under him, and even if we did, Master will not forgive us. Brother Xiang, we did not expect such a killjoy would happen as well.”
Xiang Shaolong hugged Su Nu’s burning and helpless body, hot blood rushing through him and said with a cold snort, “A man has to be responsible for his own actions. You will leave immediately, and you won’t know what happened.”
The expression on the three changed.
Hong Niangzi quite liked Xiang Shaolong, so on hearing that she sighed, “Master Xiang is indeed a hero, but is it worth it to end your future and life thus? Prince Shaoyuan only wants Su Nu’s virginity, won’t it be the same if Master Xiang comes a little later to look for Su Nu?”
Li Shan and the rest tried to dissuade him as well.
Su Nu suddenly gave a hard kiss on Xiang Shaolong’s lips, a look of resolution on her face and whispered in his ear, “Don’t worry! Su Nu is going.” She stood up, her expression wooden and told Hong Niangzi, “I will follow you!” After taking a loving look at Xiang Shaolong, she walked slowly away.
Hong Niangzi sighed and ran after her.
Xiang Shaolong punched the pillar, the wood shattered, anger rising up inside him.
This is an era where power is reason. On when riding on others can one have control over their own fate and protect the woman one loves.
Looking at it from another angle, he’s only another kind of prostitute, selling his wits and skills.
The rest may have patriotic ideals and are willing to lay down their lives, but he, Xiang Shaolong will never follow orders from anyone blindly. Because half a year ago he is not even related to this era at all.
What Yuan Zong said was correct, only when all the states are unified, will there be a chance for everything to be changed and an ideal system will appear.
And the most important task now is to establish his position in the Wu family, there’s no other way besides this.
By now, their mood totally spoiled, the four of them left hurriedly.
Xiang Shaolong had just stepped into the garden at the guest house when he felt the strange atmosphere. Two warriors were standing guard outside the main door, and he seemed to hear Shu’er’s cries from inside the house.
Xiang Shaolong was still fuming, and he’s not someone kind or religious, but forced by circumstances to bear with that bully Prince Shaoyuan. Now that someone is trying to climb over his head, he dashed into the door like a mad tiger.
The 2 warriors snickered and extended their hands to stop him.
Xiang Shaolong roared madly and forced his way between the two men, elbows and knees striking and the two of them fell down screaming immediately.
The scene that appeared before him was even more terrible.
Shu’er was naked from the waist and being hugged by a finely dressed gentleman on the rug, her bosom insultingly handled. However she dared not struggle but just cried piteously.
Lian Jin and another 10 odd warriors were sitting at the side, looking at this violent scene with smiles.
By now that well dressed youth was just removing his hands from Shu’er’s skirt and was about to take it off.
When the warriors saw Xiang Shaolong dashing in, they all jumped up and drew their swords, while Lian Jin was calm and composed, the corner of his mouth curled up in disdain, looking at him icily.
Because the wooden sword was too heavy, Xiang Shaolong did not carry it with him all the time, but for a man like him who has undergone the most scientific and rigorous training, would he be afraid of these men. Before his opponents are steady on their feet, he’d already dashed into the crowd of warriors and cornered one of them, throwing a heavy punch at the person’s chest and snatched his long sword from him.
He turned around with the sword, executing the Mozi swordplay that originated from the Master Mo Zhai, slashing hard at the sword of the warrior who came attacking towards his right.
“Clang!”. That person roared, and before his sword reached the ground, he was already kicked in the groin and knelt down in a painful shout.
A look of surprise flashed though Lian Jin’s eyes and he stood up, standing in front of that young master. Shu’er saw that Xiang Shaolong has come to save her and without knowing where she found her strength from, pushed that young master away and ran crying towards Xiang Shaolong.
But Lian Jin extended his feet to trip her and she immediately fell to the ground. Lian Jin stepped on her naked back, and she was unable to move at all.
Xiang Shaolong was almost bursting with anger on seeing this, and with a sweep of his sword, blocked the 5 swords that was attacking him, and with a change of his swordplay, another 2 men fell immediately.
By now he’s only about ten odd steps away from Lian Jin and that young master, but between them there are 12 fierce warriors. On seeing that Shu’er is about to fall into the hands of that young master again, Xiang Shaolong picked up a pile of swords and threw them beneath the feet of the warriors who were running towards him.
Those warriors have never fought in such a way before, the swords struck their waists and legs and they fell to the ground.
When Xiang Shaolong jumped up, he is already face to face with Lian Jin, staring into each other’s eyes.
Lian Jin kicked Shu’er aside, his hand moved and he drew his long sword from the scabbard. The sword gleamed and made its way towards Xiang Shaolong.
Xiang Shaolong did not expect his opponent’s swordplay to be so exquisite. He executed the essence of the Mozi swordplay clumsily and lashed out with his sword.
A crisp “Clang!” was heard and Lian Jian’s sword was parried off. He retracted then attacked again, as fast as a meteor.
Xiang Shaolong wanted to block that attack but 2 warriors were coming up from behind him so he had no choice but to step back and block the two opponents first.
Lian Jin smiled icily but did not give chase.
A loud shout came from the door and Tao Fang dashed in with 10 odd warriors towards Xiang Shaolong, forcing Lian Jin’s men to retreat to one side, resulting in a face-off between the two groups.
The half naked Shu’er got up and threw herself into Xiang Shaolong’s arms, crying.
Tao Fang saw the young master behind Lian Jin and his expression changed immediately, “Old servant here does not know that Grand Young Master is here, would Grand Young Master please forgive me.”
Xiang Shaolong hugged Shu’er and realization dawned. No wonder Lian Jin had the guts to create trouble here, so he has the backing of Master Wu’s grandson.
That Grand Young Master came next to Lian Jin and ignoring Tao Fang, pointed to Xiang Shaolong with a murderous look in his eye and asked, “Who do you think you are, what’s the big deal about me having some fun with your woman.”
Lian Jin smiled icily and said, “It should be his honor!”
Tao Fang smiled condescendingly and said, “It’s just a case of misunderstanding, Shaolong did not know it is Grand Young Master who has come!”
That Grand Young Master stared at Shaolong angrily.
Xiang Shaolong stared back so unwaveringly, that even a bully like Grand Young Master felt a shiver in his heart.
Lian Jin shouted, “What audacity! How dare you be so rude to Master Tingwei, kneel down now.”
Tao Fang advised from the side, “Hurry up and apologize to Grand Young Master!”
Xiang Shaolong looked heavenward and laughed for a long time before saying, “Master is the only one whom I will obey, if Grand Young Master is not happy about that, then tell someone to kill me!” He lowered his head and said to Shu’er, “You’ll go back to the room first!”
Shu’er lifted up her tear stained face, and after taking a loving look at him, ran into the house.
The atmosphere became extremely tense.
Lian Jin hurriedly went to Wu Tingwei and whispered something into his ears.
Xiang Shaolong knows that Lian Jin has received news that he will be dueling with him in front of Emperor Xiaocheng, so he has no wish to fight with him first now.
Indeed, Wu Tingwei nodded his head and stared at him angrily, saying, “I’ll see how many more good days you low-down slave will have ahead of you.” And left with his men in fury.
Lian Jin deliberately brushed past his shoulder and said with a smile before leaving, “You blocked well with your sword, but lack experience. It’ll be rare if you can block 10 attacks of mine.”
Xiang Shaolong calmed down and was secretly dreading being reprimanded by Tao Fang, but after Tao Fang waved his men away, he sat closely next to him and sighed, “Now my fate is intertwined with yours. If you lose to Lian Jin, I won’t have the face to stay on in the Wu Family as well.”
Xiang Shaolong felt extremely guilty and apologized.
Tao Fang looked at him for a moment before he suddenly smiled, “You’re really someone who treasures relationships, but this has got nothing to do with you. Among the 12 servants, Master trusts Wu Hei and me the most, and we’ve always been on opposing ends. This time Wu Hei went arounfd spreading rumors that because I lost a hundred odd horses, I made up a story about you single handedly fighting 800 horse thieves. Now the Master is giving me no choice but to let you fight a duel with Lian Jin. Shaolong you must help me vent my anger.” He continued with a smile, “Just now you felled almost 10 of Grand Young Master’s warriors in front of Lian Jin, now that may not be a bad thing, because one news of this gets to Master’s ears, he’ll look at you differently. If you can win Lian Jin, then the world will belong to you and me.”
Li Shan hurriedly walked over and said with shock, “Before Su Nu went to see Prince Shaoyuan, she made an excuse to change and freshen up but hanged herself instead. Prince Shaoyuan is extremely furious and said that he’s going to look for Brother Xiang to vent his anger.”
Xiang Shaolong felt as if the earth has shattered, and is so livid that his limbs turned cold, his eyes and mouth opened in shock, but his tears rolled uncontrollably down the corner of his eyes.
For the first time in his life, he felt a strong, burning desire for revenge.
Xiang Shaolong made mad love with Shu’er on the rug in the room.
Only her alluring body can offer him a form of escape in this cruel era where power is everything.
Only at this moment did he understand why Mei Canniang would rather suffer the parting and pine for him then to come to Handan.
No matter how difficult it is, he will use the most brutal method to kill Prince Shaoyuan at all costs to avenge Su Nu.
The two of them held each other and lay down, their limbs entangling, enjoying the warm atmosphere in the aftermath of their coupling.
Shu’er suddenly exclaimed, “Xiang Lang*! Shu’er is really afraid that we won’t have such happy times very soon.”
*Lang – similar to the term husband
Xiang Shaolong smiled and said, “Don’t worry! Tao Fang will explain to Master Wu that if his grandson and Lian Jin keep harassing me, I will definitely lose at the imperial duel due to agitation. Therefore before the duel, you’ll be safe.”
Shu’er was a little assured, and said resolutely, “If anything bad were to happen to Xiang Lang, Shu’er will definitely follow you in death.”
Xiang Shaolong kissed her tiny lips and said gently, “Don’t worry! I definitely will not lose.”
A knock on the door was heard, and Chunying’s voice filtered in, “Master Xiang, Master Tao has ordered us to help you bath and change.”
Shu’er sat up and said happily, “Let Shu’er serve you wholeheartedly this morning.”