The Story from Qingcheng Mount, part 1

   “Little Apprentice Sister, it was true!” Other apprentices by the side chimed in, nodding.

   “This Qi-Gong technique was so difficult that he was the only one who was allowed to learn it. And all he could use it for was to cheat wine from a beggar,” the girl sighed in despair. Yet beneath the condemnation, there was an undercurrent of praise.

Monkey-Six continued with his story. “Big Apprentice Brother drank until the bottom of the calabash pointed to the sky; the beggar of course didn’t like it. He seized Big Apprentice Brother’s robe and kept yelling that he had agreed to only one mouthful, and how come Big Apprentice Brother had drunk all his wine? Big Apprentice Brother smiled and replied, ‘I truly only drank one mouthful. Did you see me take another breath? Without changing breaths, it only counts as one mouthful. We did not specify if it should be a big mouthful or a small mouthful. Actually, I only drank half a mouthful, not the full mouthful. One tael of silver was for one mouthful, half a mouthful should only be worth half a tael of silver. You owe me half a tael of silver!’”

   “He drank someone’s wine and still wanted to skip out on the bill?” the girl couldn’t help laughing.

   “The beggar almost cried,” Monkey-Six said. “Big Apprentice Brother then said, ‘Hey, brother, don’t be so upset, I bet you must be quite a wine connoisseur! Come on! Let’s drink our fill, my treat!’ Then he dragged the beggar into a wine house by the side of the street. Then a bowl for you, a bowl for me, and the two just drank on and on. We waited till noon, and the two were still drinking. Big Apprentice Brother then asked for the monkey and gave it to me to take care of. By afternoon, the beggar was already lying on the floor, drunk, and unable to get up. Big Apprentice Brother was still drinking by himself but not able to straighten his tongue. He told us to come to Hengshan first, and he would be right behind us.”

   “That’s why he was drinking,” The girl was satisfied. She paused for a while and then asked, “Was the beggar a member of the Beggars Clan?”

   “Nope. He didn’t know any Kung Fu and he wasn’t carrying any bags either,” the man dressed as a porter said, shaking his head.

The girl gazed at the rain outside for a while. Seeing that there was no sign of it stopping, she murmured, “If you had come together with the others, then you wouldn’t have to make your trip in the rain today.”

   “Little Apprentice Sister, you said that you and second apprentice brother saw lots of strange things on your way here; aren’t you going to tell us about them?” Monkey-Six asked.

   “What’s the hurry?” the girl asked. “Let’s wait till we see Big Apprentice Brother and then I’ll tell the story, so I don’t need to tell it twice. Where did you agree to meet?”

“We didn’t arrange anything,” Monkey-Six replied. “The town of Hengshan isn’t that big; we’ll bump into each other eventually. Come on, you tricked me into telling the story about Big Apprentice Brother drinking the monkey wine, and now you don’t want to tell us your story?”

The girl’s attention seemed to have drifted away. “Second apprentice brother, will you please tell the story to the other apprentice brothers?” She glanced over at Lin Pingzhi’s back and said, “There are all kinds of people here. Let’s find an inn first and then tell the story at our leisure.”

   “All the inns in Hengshan town, big and small, are already full,” said a tall fellow, who didn’t say much before. “Since we don’t want to disturb the Liu House, when we meet Big Apprentice Brother later, let’s go to the temple outside town and rest there. Second apprentice brother, what do you think?”

Since their senior apprentice brother had not yet arrived, it was natural that the old man was looked to as the leader among the apprentices. “Agreed. Until then, we’ll wait here for Big Apprentice Brother,” he nodded.

Monkey-Six however, was eager to hear their story. “That hunchback is probably a retard. He has been sitting there for so long without moving a bit. Why should you worry about him? Second apprentice brother, when you went to Fuzhou with Little Apprentice Sister, what information were you able to gather? The Fortune Prestige Escort House was wiped out by the Qingcheng Sword School, so does the Lin family have any true skills?” he prompted them in a low voice.

Hearing the name of the Escort House mentioned Lin Pingzhi listened even more intently.

   “Little Apprentice Sister and I met Master in Changsha,” the old man answered. “Master told us to come to the town of Hengshan to meet Big Apprentice Brother and the rest of you. Let’s not rush to the story about Fuzhou yet. Why did Great Mr. Mo use the move ‘One Thrust Nine Geese here?’ You all saw what happened, didn’t you?”

   “Yeah,” Monkey-Six immediately rushed to tell how people were talking about the Gold Basin Hand Washing ceremony of Liu Zhengfeng and how Great Mr. Mo showed up unexpectedly, and scared everybody off.

The old man nodded. After a long pause, he said, “A lot of people in the Martial World are saying that Great Mr. Mo is not getting along with Master Liu. Now that Master Liu is about to have the Hand Washing ceremony, I really don’t understand why Great Mr. Mo is acting in such an odd manner and not showing himself in public.”

   “Second apprentice brother, I heard that the Head Master of the Taishan Sword School, Priest Tian-Men himself, came, and has already arrived at the Liu House,” the man with the abacus said.

   “Priest Tian-Men came in person?” the old man said in surprise. “Master Liu is really going to look good now. Since Priest Tian-Men is staying at the Liu House, if a fight really breaks out between Liu and Mo, the two apprentice brothers of Hengshan Sword School, Great Mr. Mo won’t have such an easy job of it with such an elite fighter as backup for Master Liu.”

   “Second apprentice brother, whom will Master Yu from the Qingcheng Sword School help then?” the girl asked.

Hearing the words “Master Yu from Qingcheng Sword School,” Lin Pingzhi felt as if somebody had just punched him in the stomach.

 Monkey-Six and the others all started talking at once.

   “Master Yu is here too?”

   “It is not easy to get him off Mount Qingcheng.”   (To be continued)

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