The Story from Qingcheng Mount, part 4

   “Ha you all! So ha your all’s shop doesn’t sell wine? Then I won’t drink ha your all’s wine. Ha you all!” Lu Dayou mimicked. 

   “Sure, sure, ha you all!” the waiter answered. He then filled all the teapots with boiled water. 

The old man continued, “Master said in the letter that he had already had the two wayward apprentices harshly punished; he would have made the two go to Mount Qingcheng themselves to offer a humble apology, but the two wayward apprentices were hurt so badly from their punishment, they could not even walk; that’s why he sent his second apprentice Lao Denuo to take the rebuke in their stead; this incident was solely caused by the wayward apprentices, he hopes Master Yu does not take too much offense for the sake of the good relationship between the Qingcheng Sword School and the Huashan Sword School; when they meet in the future, he would apologize to Master Yu personally.” 

   “So your name is Lao Denuo and you are from the Huashan Sword School, part of the Five Mountains Sword Alliance,” Lin Pingzhi thought. When he considered the words “for the sake of the good relationship between the two” in the letter, he could feel his heart beating faster. “This Lao Denuo and the ugly girl have seen me twice. I sure hope they don’t recognize me today.”

Lao Denuo’s voice rose again, “After I arrived at Mount Qingcheng, Hou Renying did not seem to hold a grudge, but Hong Renxiong was still mad about it, and ridiculed me several times to try and pick a fight….”

   “Damn! Those Qingcheng fellows are aggressive! Second apprentice brother, if he wants a fight, give him a fight! What are we afraid of? I know that fellow Hong is no match for you,” Lu Dayou said.

   “Master sent me there to apologize, not to make trouble,” Lao Denuo exclaimed. “So I swallowed my pride and stayed on Mount Qingcheng for six days. I was not received by Master Yu until the seventh day.”

   “Humph! Harsh attitude, huh! Second apprentice brother, I bet those six days and nights on Mount Qingcheng probably weren’t too enjoyable!” Lu Dayou interrupted again.

   “There certainly was a lot of baiting,” Lao Denuo said, “but I knew that Master sent me on this not because I was any better in Kung Fu skills or the like, but because I am older, so I’d do a better job staying calm. The longer I could hold my anger, the better I could accomplish the mission. Those Qingcheng people didn’t realize that keeping me waiting for six days in the Pine-Wind Temple of Mount Qingcheng wasn’t actually doing them any good.

   “During my stay in the Pine-Wind Temple, I got really bored, since they wouldn’t let me see Master Yu. On the third day, I got up early to take a walk and secretly worked on some breathing exercises to prevent my skills from getting rusty. I was wandering around when I happened to pass by the exercise field at the rear of the Pine-Wind Temple. With a glance, I saw dozens of Qingcheng apprentices, practicing their Kung Fu. Of course in the Martial World, it is considered a taboo to watch others practice their Kung Fu, so I turned around to go back to my room. But even with such a quick glance, I felt something suspicious was going on. Each of the apprentices was using a sword, and was obviously practicing the same set of sword moves. Each one seemed to have only just learned the set, because as they practiced, their moves looked quite stiff. But what sword technique was it? I couldn’t tell with my one glance very easily.

   “After I went back to my room, I mulled over what I saw, and the more I thought about it, the more suspicious I became. Qingcheng Sword School has been well known for ages. Many apprentices have been part of the school for ten or twenty years, and each apprentice would have joined at a different time, so why was everyone learning the same sword technique at the same time? Particularly since among the dozens of apprentices were the so-called ‘Four Aces of Qingcheng’: Hou Renying, Hong Renxiong, Yu Renhao, and Luo Renjie. Fellow apprentice brothers, if it were you that saw this scene, what would you think?”

   “Maybe the Qingcheng Sword School just acquired a secret sword art manual, or maybe Master Yu just invented a new set of sword techniques, and was teaching it to his apprentices,” the apprentice with the abacus suggested.

   “I was thinking the same thing in the beginning,” Lao Denuo replied, “but after I thought about it more carefully, I realized that something was not quite right. With Master Yu’s understanding of the sword arts, if these were newly created moves, then they must have been really outstanding moves. On the other hand, if they did acquire an ancient secret sword art manual, the moves it contained must have been excellent; otherwise he wouldn’t have even bothered looking at it or asked his apprentices to practice them. New sword techniques could undo the training they had already undergone. If the moves were excellent moves, then the average apprentice wouldn’t be able to understand them easily; he would have most likely chosen three or four of his top apprentices to try them out, not have over forty apprentices learn it at the same time. That’s more like having someone opening a Kung Fu school for mere profit, not something a Master of a noble Martial Arts School would do.

   “The next morning, I went to the rear of the temple again and strolled past the exercise field. Once again, they were practicing the same sword techniques. I did not dare to stop and watch. With a quick glance, I managed to memorize two of the moves. I figured I could ask the Master’s opinion regarding them later when I got back. By that time, Master Yu still hadn’t allowed me to see him, so naturally I suspected the Qingcheng Sword School was harboring a lot of hatred toward our Huashan Sword School. Perhaps they were practicing these new moves so they could use them against us. I kept telling myself I’d better be more careful.” (To be continued)

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