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They travelled by land for ages, then took a boat upstream until they returned to where the waterways of Yangzhou converged, where You Mengzhe and Sun Bin had originally come from.
The ferry docked by the riverbank was set for Ting County, and since You Mengzhe didn’t have any specific destination in mind, he decided to go with the flow and let it ferry them there. Thunderbolt Hall was headquartered in Yangzhou, so they might run into sect people there. Even though they had Yuwen Hong who could handle the entire sect by himself, Sun Bin's situation seemed a bit unstable, so it was better to avoid trouble.
When night fell the next day, the ferry docked at the Ting County wharf. You Mengzhe carried Sun Bin down and went to search for a medicine hall to treat him. Sun Bin had already stopped vomiting blood, yet his eyes stayed open and his mouth stayed closed.
Located in the Jiangnan region, most people in Ting County were surnamed Ting. Hundreds of years ago, the Ting clan was the richest family south of the Yangtze River. One of their descendants became a top official in the capital and henceforth achieved meteoric success in his career. With a high official to support the Ting clan, Ting County had over the years gradually developed into a prosperous city not inferior to Yangzhou.
Pedestrians came and went on the main street at dusk, the atmosphere even more lively than usual. You Mengzhe asked for directions and learned that there was an old doctor in Baguye Alley who specialized in treating trauma and internal injuries, so he carried Sun Bin there.
When they arrived, they found themselves in the midst of a food market. Stalls selling vegetables, meat, fish, various jars, and soy sauce lined both sides of the street, and pedestrians scurried to and fro on the filthy, muddy dirt.
You Mengzhe knocked on the door of the medicine hall, and saw only an old doctor with graying hair and a grizzled beard sitting inside.
Sun Bin's eyes were vacant, and he hadn’t said a word this whole entire day. When asked to say something, it seemed as though he hadn’t heard a thing. You Mengzhe would try to feed him water, and he wouldn’t drink it. Even if You Mengzhe brought the bowl to the corner of his mouth, the water would only trickle down from his lips.
You Mengzhe placed Sun Bin on the chair. As Sun Bin looked in the direction of the sunset outside the window, the old doctor came to examine his pulse.
You Mengzhe anxiously explained, "He sustained an internal injury during a martial arts competition."
The doctor took his pulse, examined his eyes, and assured him, "It’s not a serious injury; it’s just that his meridians took a shock. I will write a balancing prescription for his lungs. Prepare it according to the directions, and in three days, he will be fine."
"Then why can’t he speak anymore? Is his brain damaged?"
You Mengzhe tried waving his hand in front of Sun Bin’s face, but his eyes stayed unresponsive and his expression lifeless.
"He hasn’t injured his brain," the old doctor assured him.
"Something’s wrong, look at him."
You Mengzhe lifted Sun Bin's head up, but Sun Bin did not respond. He pushed Sun Bin’s head down, but Sun Bin still did not react.
The old doctor said, "This seems to be a mental shock. Did something upset him?"
You Mengzhe frowned and asked, "Hey, ‘‘Clouds Above Land and Sea’."
Sun Bin did not answer.
The doctor went to write the prescription, leaving You Mengzhe to study Sun Bin. After a while, he finally understood. Most likely Sun Bin just didn’t feel like speaking because he had botched his revenge.
"At least move a little," You Mengzhe coaxed, "It doesn't matter if we lose. My father said that when noble men take revenge, even ten years is not too late."
Sun Bin still didn't say a word.
Then without a hitch, You Mengzhe slapped Sun Bin’s face with a PA, startling the doctor in the other room. When the doctor understood what had happened, he couldn’t help but stroke his beard and smile helplessly.
After getting slapped in the face, Sun Bin still didn’t budge.
Now with his backhand, You Mengzhe slapped him again with another PA! Sun Bin still wouldn’t speak, so You Mengzhe simply used both his hands to slap his face left then right, whipping his face back and forth with a PA PA PA PA, a dozen slaps in a row landing in quick succession until Sun Bin's handsome face turned red and swollen, like a pig's head.
You Mengzhe thought that he couldn’t afford to slap him anymore, otherwise his lips would bleed and leave behind a scar.
You Mengzhe retracted his hand, but suddenly seized by a sense of dissatisfaction, he slapped him a few more times for good measure until he made Sun Bin’s entire face swell.
What should he do now?
The old doctor entered with the medicine, and his face turned blue when he saw Sun Bin's appearance.
"Would the young hero also like an ointment to treat a swollen face?" The doctor continued, "One silver coin for a box."
You Mengzhe asked, "Does it work?"
"The magistrate of Ting County is often slapped by his wife at home, and he buys this very ointment from this store every time.”
"Okay, I’ll take a box."
The old doctor brought it over, and You Mengzhe smeared his hand with the ointment. He then slapped Sun Bin twice more — PA PA — to apply the ointment on his face. Then he tilted his head back and examined Sun Bin.
He couldn't continue on like this; he couldn’t keep running around with Sun Bin on his back. What if Sun Bin pissed on him? If he didn’t want to eat, fine, but did he plan on holding in his pee and poo as well? Suddenly You Mengzhe had an idea.
"How much is a feather duster?"
The old doctor replied, "Feather duster? I can just lend you one to use."
He passed one to You Mengzhe from behind the counter, guessing that he would use the end of the duster to flog the other boy. He didn’t expect You Mengzhe to bring over a small bench, sit down, take off Sun Bin's boots, pluck out a chicken feather, and begin to tickle the soles of the boy’s feet.
Sun Bin: "..."
At long last Sun Bin met his opponent.
You Mengzhe first tickled lightly, then intensely, following with several strokes back and forth until Sun Bin finally snapped out of it and kicked him away, shouting "Fuck your grandma, get lost!"
"Wow. You’re finally speaking. Wait, stop, don't beat him up," You Mengzhe said as he held back Yuwen Hong who had just rushed in.
Sun Bin, whose face had swollen into a pig’s head, jumped to his feet and kicked on his boots.
You Mengzhe hurriedly paid, and ran out the door with the medicine, shouting, "Sun Bin!"
"Mind your own business!" Sun Bin shouted with bloodshot eyes, "Get lost! The farther, the better!"
Sun Bin turned towards the bustling market and fled, as onlookers whispered to each other, tongues wagging.
You Mengzhe called out, "Hey! You haven’t taken the medicine yet! What’s with the temper!"
Sun Bin rushed headlong into the street.
You Mengzhe caught up to him and shouted, "So you lost, what of it? Let’s go, let's dual-cultivate! After three days and three nights with me, you can fight him again!"
Sun Bin supported himself against a tree, bent over, and panted for breath. You Mengzhe approached, knowing that Sun Bin felt miserable at this moment, and rubbed his back.
"Ai, I finally rescued you, don't be like this..."
It would have been fine if he didn’t bring it up, but after reminding him, Sun Bin spun around and snapped, "Get lost, who asked you to save me? Don’t pester laozi with your crying."
You Mengzhe laughed and seeing something glistening in Sun Bin's eyes, asked, "Who’s crying?"
"Get the fuck out of here, don't let laozi see you again. We’re not close!" Sun Bin turned and ran off.
"Your medicine!" You Mengzhe called out again.
With a flash, Sun Bin vanished from the corner of the street.
You Mengzhe wanted to throw away the medicine, but many conflicting emotions roiled in his heart. Suddenly he understood Sun Bin's state of mind a bit; if someone had murdered You Gutian, You Mengzhe would definitely find a way to grow stronger and get revenge. But what if his enemy wore an apathetic expression the whole time, and he could no longer hope for revenge in this life? All day long, all the time, Sun Bin felt bored and listless, mostly because no matter how he played or enjoyed himself, the deep hatred over his shoulders suffocated him until he had nothing else left.
"This guy runs fast." You Mengzhe asked, "What do we do… Little Uncle, can you find him?"
"Yes. To give him the medicine?"
"When you catch him, give him the medicine, and make him take it so he doesn't give up on himself."
Yuwen Hong thought for a while. "OK."
"So I’ll wait for you here?"
"You can walk wherever you want. Even if you go to the ends of the earth, I will still find you."
You Mengzhe set his heart at rest, remembering that when he had dual-cultivated with Yuwen Hong, he had both gained Yuwen Hong's vital qi, enhanced Yuwen Hong's power, and even transferred some of Sun Bin’s vital energy to him, which had merged with Yuwen Hong’s own qi. In other words, Sun Bin’s bottleneck was actually not a problem. If he went back now to find Sun Bin to dual-cultivate with and ride him for a bit, Sun Bin would most likely then possess some of Yuwen Hong’s vital energy. True qi was like a seed; once it existed in the body, as long as you cultivated diligently, you would benefit with time...
You Mengzhe turned back in the direction of the market. It was already dinner time, so he wanted to find something to eat, and then find an inn to stay the night. And then what next?
The Alliance Leader Zhao Feihong planned to eliminate the Demon Sect’s industries by region, and since it was his own family’s businesses, he had to at least notify someone. Otherwise, everyone would be completely defenseless, and wouldn’t that make it too easy? But he didn’t know where to find the Demon Sect businesses; who should he ask? You Mengzhe strolled around the street for a while, and saw the "Soaring Dragon Weapon Shop".
There might be some news about the Jianghu in a shop like this, he thought, so he went in to take a look.
There were no lanterns inside the shop, and under the dim light, an assistant sharpened his knife behind the counter. You Mengzhe saw quite a few plum blossom darts and ‘Funeral Nails’ here, and they most likely also sold concealed weapons. He had come to the right place.
As he had guessed, someone from the Jianghu owned this shop.
"Shopkeeper?" You Mengzhe called out.
The shopkeeper, a middle-aged man in his fifties, asked, "At first glance I could tell this young hero was a man of the Jianghu. Do you want to buy a hand-held weapon or stock up on some concealed weapons? Or would you like to buy a few suits of steel armor?"
You Mengzhe answered, "Let’s talk business later. Do you know the Demon Cult?"
"Of course I know! What's the matter, young hero?"
You Mengzhe proposed, "I’ll give you five taels of silver in exchange for some information. Do you know which shops in Ting County are operated by the Demon Cult?"
"This very shop is owned by the Demon Cult! What business brings the young hero here?"
“This place is run by the Demon Cult?! Great, you’re really one of us! Do you recognize this?" he asked as he slapped his jade pendant on the counter.
The shopkeeper’s soul almost scattered as soon as he saw it, and he shouted, "Aiya, Young Master! The Young Master is here! It’s the Young Master himself!!!"
"Ai, I knew you were one of us..."
"Old cow, hurry over! Hurry and prepare the tea! The young master is here! Aiya, the Young Master is here in person... This is terrific! Will the Young Master please write an inscription for our shop…?"
Before he could even recover, You Mengzhe was ushered into the back room by the shopkeeper and a group of shop assistants. All at once, some people served tea, others poured water, and still others brought towels, while the shopkeeper offered You Mengzhe a brush and paper.
"Young Master, please inscribe a plaque for our store. This is truly the blessing of three lifetimes!"
You Mengzhe nonchalantly wrote a few unsightly, hideous words, and the shopkeeper’s wife rushed out to find someone to make a plaque out of it. The shopkeeper also ordered people to clean the guest room and buy food and wine to entertain him with.
You Mengzhe voiced, "Take your time, there’s no need to rush. Have you heard of the Martial Arts Alliance Assembly?"
The shopkeeper quickly replied, "The one hosted at Mirror Lake? Yes I do!"
You Mengzhe still took his family’s matters to heart, continuing, "The righteous sects want to destroy our Demon Cult, so you must keep your guard up."
"Ai, they can’t destroy us!" The shopkeeper explained, "Young Master, you can rest a hundred and twenty hearts. The righteous sects fight and kill each other like dogs eating dogs every day, and one tiny trick will make them go round and round. Don’t worry!”
Remembering that these people had been doing business for a long time, and most likely had their own countermeasures, he dropped his worries and said, "Let’s buy the food and wine later. How many people from our Demon Cult live in Ting County? Make a list for me…”
“…Huh? Who are you guys? How come there’s suddenly so many people here?" He didn’t notice when he was talking, but now he saw that a throng of people had gathered outside the Soaring Dragon Weapon Shop, with some even crowded out of the street trying their best to peer inside the shop.
The shopkeeper answered, "They are all members of our Demon Cult. They heard Young Master had graced us with your presence, and they all came to pay respects to Young Master!"
"These are all...our people?"
The crowd outside cried out, "Yes, yes, cross our hearts! Greetings, Young Master! Aiya, so this is our Young Master…Sure enough his demeanor is dignified…”
"All of them…?" voiced You Mengzhe.
The shopkeeper confirmed, "Every single store on this street is the property of our Demon Cult! Old Wu who sells bao next door, Old Zhu who sells candied haws opposite of us, Old Yu who sells pickled food diagonally across the street, Sister-in-law Lin who sells seafood, scholar Xun who ghostwrites, and the half-immortal Ou at the fortune-telling booth... Also Doctor Bai in Baguye Alley, and even the private adviser of the yamen in Ting County, and the wife of the county’s magistrate, are all members of our Demon Cult!"
"Does everyone know martial arts?" asked You Mengzhe.
The crowd hurriedly answered, "Yes! Young master, do not worry!”
The fish-selling sister-in-law Lin assured, “Ai Young Master, don’t worry. Just putting a little poison in the fish can wipe out a whole sect. The private advisor of the yamen is also one of us. What is there to be afraid of? Am I right?”
Everyone laughed again, and Old Wu declared, "It would be better if I laced my bao with a little arsenic and sold them to the Golden Sword Sect!"
“Yes, yes,” the crowd members agreed.
The shopkeeper stared eagerly at You Mengzhe and continued, "Young Master, the yuan-yang palm practiced by the wife of the head magistrate’s family is quite impressive. One gentle slap will make the magistrate’s face so swollen..."
You Mengzhe remarked, "Then that’s great, everyone can leave now. If no one is afraid of the righteous sects’ threats, then I can rest assured!”
Everyone heeded his words, yet no one left, still gazing curiously at him.
You Mengzhe felt a little guilty and self-conscious, so he ordered, “Go back to work, and in a little while, I will visit each of your stalls!"
All of a sudden the people crowding the door scattered, all returning to their respective positions in an instant.
"I...will go out for a stroll? By the way, can you replenish my Heaven and Earth Extinguishing Bone Piercing Needles?" asked You Mengzhe.
The shopkeeper answered, "Of course I can! Isn't this our sect’s signature concealed weapon? I will immediately refill it for Young Master, which poison does the Young Master desire?”
"What poisons do you have?"
"We have the throat-sealing ‘Viper Saliva’, the tingling ‘Beauty Scorpion’, the upright woman who turns into a whore ‘Fire Begonia’, the full body petrifying ‘Smiling Half-Step Epilepsy’..."
"Uh...the ‘Beauty Scorpion’ works."
"The ‘Beauty Scorpion’ will make the victims itch all over, and it doesn't have an antidote. After seven days and seven nights, they will bleed out of all seven orifices, and they will die."
"No way ba, I’ve used it before. It will only make people itchy, it won’t suddenly kill them."
"Oh, the one that won’t kill is the ‘Little Beauty Scorpion’!"
"Then fill it up with the ‘Little Beauty Scorpion’."
The shopkeeper fetched a big metal box, the inside densely packed with needles as thin as cow hairs, and said, "The number one ‘Heaven’s Fame’ restaurant on the main street is also the property of our Demon Cult, so when Young Master is hungry, eat there. When Young Master is sleepy, stay at the Yunlai Inn. There’s also the Fragrance House, so when you are tired, you can go to enjoy the music and find a few girls and gigolos to accompany you. Our Demon Cult’s businesses span all across the Yangtze River and crisscross all over the country."
"Amazing! Then later if I travel all over the world, I won’t have to worry."
The shopkeeper finished replenishing the Heaven and Earth Extinguishing Bone Piercing Needles, looking reluctant to part with him.
"Visit us often, Young Master."
"Of course, of course."
Now You Mengzhe felt so much more at ease. As he emerged into the street, the market was as lively and bustling as before, and as the setting sun awashed the alley in its waning glow, the faces of the busy commoners seemed more intimate.
All of a sudden, You Mengzhe glimpsed the familiar silhouette of someone’s back, and at once his heart skipped a beat!
"How much is the meat today?" In a gray cloth robe, Zhao Feihong appraised the butcher stall’s meat.
The Wulin Alliance Leader had come out to buy pork! How could this be?!
You Mengzhe only felt that his whole world had become surreal, and tiptoed over to a vegetable stall to duck behind.
"Ai hehe, greetings Young Master." The woman selling vegetables nodded and smiled.
"Shh." You Mengzhe hurriedly signaled at her not to speak, and observed Zhao Feihong in front of the meat stall across the street.
"Eight coins for a catty," said the butcher.
"What about this pork belly here?" asked Zhao Feihong.
"That's expensive, fifteen coins per catty,” the butcher replied.
"That’s too expensive, sell it to me for less, I buy my meat from here every day."
You Mengzhe: "..."
Zhao Feihong haggled with him until finally, he bought one and a half catties of meat at a discount for twelve coins, carrying it in his arms as he paid the bill. He looked like he was about to head over to buy vegetables, so You Mengzhe quickly ducked over to a neighboring store, borrowing the cover of a cage from the shop selling live chickens to stealthily escape from sight, eyes still glued on Zhao Feihong.
"Hehe, Young Master..." The owner of the chicken stall nodded and bowed.
You Mengzhe hurriedly signaled for him not to make a sound, fished out a few pieces of silver, and gestured at him to split it with the vegetable lady later. He then pushed aside a clucking chicken head in the half-a-person high cage and peeped at Zhao Feihong through the cracks.
"How much for a catty of cabbage?" Zhao Feihong squatted down to pick out a cabbage.
The vegetable seller answered, "One coin for two catties."
Zhao Feihong rummaged through the cabbages and picked out a few fresh ones, and the vegetable lady placed them on the scale.
Zhao Feihong looked at the scale carefully and said, "Your scale is not accurate.”
"It’s accurate,” said the vegetable lady with a smile, "My stall has the most accurate scale…”
"Help me weigh this pork too."
This uncle in his thirties was quite clever!
The vegetable lady weighed it—exactly one and a half catties—and relieved of his suspicions, Zhao Feihong paid her.
"The scales on our street,” the chicken seller explained to You Mengzhe in a whisper, "are all short of a few coins, including Doctor Bai’s medicine scale in Baguye Alley."
You Mengzhe exclaimed, "You guys are way too good! You really deserve to be members of my Demon Sect. "
After Zhao Feihong bought the cabbage, he carried it with some rope tied around it as You Mengzhe hurriedly ducked into the pickled food store to examine the salted eggs and pickled cabbages.
The boss greeted him with a beaming face. "Greetings Young Master, what would the Young Master like to eat?"
You Mengzhe put his finger to his lips and pointed inside the store for the boss to go back in, after which the boss knowingly walked away. Then You Mengzhe turned around and snuck a glance at Zhao Feihong, who was currently walking in his direction.
You Mengzhe quickly turned and opened a jar, stirring its contents with a spoon and pretending to look at the red pepper paste. He covered it after a moment and opened another jar to examine its contents.
He should be gone now, he thought as he turned to take a look.
In an instant his heart froze. Zhao Feihong was standing directly behind him!
"What are you doing?" Zhao Feihong asked.
You Mengzhe glanced at the jar, which contained soy sauce, and stammered, “I'm here... to get soy sauce."
Zhao Feihong placed one hand on You Mengzhe's shoulder, and casually said, "Since a guest has travelled from afar, I shall be your host. Young Master You, do me the honor of coming to my home for a meal."
You Mengzhe: "!!!"
With that casual press of Zhao Feihong’s hand, You Mengzhe felt a deep and profound internal force seal off half of his body’s acupoints.
No longer able to move, he could only let Zhao Feihong drag him away as he cried, “I was really here to get soy sauce! Hey!”
Finalllllllyyy the Daddy bonding time with Kangjin Dragon begins!
Yuwen Hong: “You can walk wherever you want. Even if you go to the ends of the earth, I will still find you.”
Me: DA to da D!!!
So my translation note kept breaking for ‘Old cow’ so I have no choice but to explain it here. 死婆娘 is a derogatory way to call a wife and directly translates to ‘dead wife’ but when it’s coming from family or close people it’s actually an intimate way to call someone. Kind of like how my mom’s nickname for me would literally be translated to ‘dead cunt girl’, except because she’s my mom it’s meant in a loving, intimate way lol.
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Ruini.