The Number One Apprentice from Huashan Sword School, part 5

The Huashan apprentices’ hearts were beating rapidly. That Big Apprentice Brother dragging a nun of the Heng-Shan Sword School off to a wine house to drink and staining the nun’s reputation was already a clear violation of school rules; to make matters worse, he made friends with someone like Tian Boguang! 

After a long pause, Lao Denuo was finally able to collect himself and speak again. 

  “Uncle-Master, maybe senior apprentice brother Linghu was at the same table of Tian Boguang only by chance; that doesn’t really make them friends. Senior apprentice brother Linghu has been quite drunk these days and probably was a little hazy. What one does when drunk shouldn’t really count….” 

  “A drunk still has thirty percent of his faculties. As a mature adult, can’t he even distinguish between good and evil?” Dingyi roared. 

  “Yes, Uncle-Master!” Lao Denuo said hastily, not daring to argue. “I wonder where senior apprentice brother Linghu might be right now. Let us apprentices find him and reproach him; we’ll have him come and kowtow to apologize to you first, Uncle-Master, and then report to my Master so he can administer a heavy punishment.” 

   “Am I here to discipline your apprentice brother?” Dingyi snarled. Her arm shot out suddenly and grabbed Lingshan by the wrist. Lingshan felt as if an iron hoop had bound her wrist. “Ah!” She cried out and then muttered in a trembling voice, “Uncle…Uncle-Master!” 

“Your Huashan Sword School kidnapped my Yilin. I am taking a female apprentice of your Huashan Sword School in exchange. When you return my Yilin to me, I will release your Lingshan!” Dingyi growled. She turned around and dragged Lingshan after her. Lingshan felt her upper body become sore and numb, and had to stagger along with Dingyi into the street. 

Lao Denuo and Liang Fa both jumped forth instantly to block Sister Dingyi’s way. 

   “Uncle-Master,” Lao Denuo bowed and said apologetically, “my Big Apprentice Brother offended you; naturally you would be angry, but that really has nothing to do with Little Apprentice Sister. Uncle-Master, please show mercy and let her go.” 

   “Sure, I will!” Dingyi yelled scornfully. She raised her right arm and swept it out in an arc. 

Lao Denuo and Liang Fa felt a strong burst of energy shooting toward them, so strong that they could hardly breathe. They then found themselves flying backwards. Lao Denuo landed on his back at the door of the shop across the street from the teashop. With a splintering crack, two of the door planks broke in half. Liang Fa flew straight toward a wonton stove. If he had landed on the wonton stove and knocked it over, boiling water would have splashed all over him and scalded him badly. But the old wonton seller reached out with his left hand and caught Liang Fa by his back, so Liang Fa landed safely. 

Sister Dingyi turned back and stared at the old wonton seller. “So it’s you!” she said. 

   “That’s right, it’s me,” the old man smiled. “Sister, you’ve got quite a temper.” 

   “That’s none of your concern,” Dingyi snapped.

 Right at that moment, with oilcloth umbrellas over their heads and lanterns in their hands, two men rushed toward the teashop. “Are you the respectful Sister of the Heng-Shan Sword School?” they shouted from afar. 

   “You flatter me. I am Dingyi of the Heng-Shan Sword School. Who are you?” Dingyi asked. 

When the two men came closer, the two big red words written on the lanterns in their hands also became more recognizable. It read, “Liu House.” 

   “We junior apprentices were instructed by our Master to invite Uncle-Master Dingyi and all the fellow apprentice sisters to have dinner at our humble house,” one said. “We didn’t get the news that you had already arrived at Hengshan, so we didn’t greet you at the gate. Please pardon us.” He bowed to pay his respect. 

   “That is very polite of you. Are you two apprentices of Master Liu?” Dingyi asked in a slightly softer tone. 

    “Yes. My name is Xiang Danian, and this is my apprentice brother Mi Weiyi. How are you, Uncle-Master?” The two saluted again. 

Seeing the good manners of the pair, Dingyi agreed, “All right, we were just about to go visit Master Liu, anyway.” 

   “May I ask who you are?” Xiang Danian asked Liang Fa. 

   “I am Liang Fa, apprentice of the Huashan Sword School,” Liang Fa answered. 

   “You are the senior third brother Liang of the Huashan Sword School!” Xiang Danian said happily. “I have been looking forward to meeting you. Everyone please come to our humble house. Our Master told us to greet all the heroes from different groups, but there are so many people coming, we are afraid that we have been poor hosts and offended friends. Please come this way.” 

   “We were planning to wait here until Big Apprentice Brother shows up, and then go to congratulate Uncle-Master Liu together,” Lao Denuo went over and said. 

  “You must be second apprentice brother Lao,” Xiang Danian said. “My Master always praises Huashan apprentice brothers studying under Uncle-Master Yue. Especially apprentice brother Linghu, a very outstanding young hero. Since apprentice brother Linghu is not here yet, why don’t you come first?”

Lao Denuo pondered the situation in his head. “Little Apprentice Sister is under the control of Uncle-Master Dingyi, and it seems that she won’t let her go easily. We simply have no other choice but to go with her.” At that thought, he answered, “I hope this will not be an inconvenience.” 

  “Your coming to Hengshan is an honor. Why be so modest? Please! Please!” Xiang Danian greeted. 

   “Aren’t you going to invite this one?” Dingyi pointed at the old wonton seller. 

Xiang Danian looked at the old man for a moment before he recognized him.  (To be continued)

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