Heart Crushing Palm, part 7

   “He wants to play with us, like a cat plays with mice. He wants to see us squirm, until we are all frightened to death, and that’s when he will be satisfied,” Lin Zhennan answered.

   “Humph, how dare this son of a dog show such disrespect to our Fortune Prestige Escort House,” Lin Pingzhi barked.

   “He is surely looking down upon the Fortune Prestige Escort House,” Lin Zhennan stated.

   “Perhaps, he is afraid of the seventy-two moves of Father’s Evil-Resisting Sword Art. Otherwise, why does he not dare fight face to face with Father, and only sneaks around, stabbing people in the back?”

   “Pingzhi,” Lin Zhennan said as he shook his head slightly. “Your father’s Evil-Resisting Sword Art is well and fine for dealing with regular gangsters. But this man’s Heart Crushing Palm Kung Fu is much better than mine. I…I don’t normally give up so easily, but after seeing Escort Huo’s heart, I…I…well….”

Seeing the dark expression that clouded his father’s face, Lin Pingzhi did not say another word.

   “Since the enemy is so powerful, a real man should be ready to swallow his pride, so why don’t we just hide from him for a little while,” Madam Wang suggested.

   “That’s what I have in mind, too,” Lin Zhennan nodded.

   “Let’s head out to Luoyang tonight,” Madam Wang said. “Fortunately, we know who the enemy is now. It is never too late for revenge, even if we have to wait for ten years.”

   “That’s right! Father-in-law has friends all over. He will be able to come up with a solution. Let’s pack now and we’ll leave right away,” Lin Zhennan said.

   “If we leave, who’s going to take care of the people in the Escort House?” Lin Pingzhi asked.

   “The enemy has no score to settle with them. After we leave, all the others in the Escort House will actually be safer,” Lin Zhennan explained.

Lin Pingzhi thought to himself, “That’s very true! The enemy has killed so many people in the Escort House, all because of me. After I leave, the enemy will just leave all the escorts and henchmen alone.” So he went back to his room to pack. He looked at all his robes and toys; afraid that the foes might just burn the Escort House to the ground, he could not bear to part with any of them. So even after he had packed two big bags, he still felt that there were too many things left behind. He picked up a jade horse statue on the table with his left hand, and then grabbed a leopard fur with his right hand, a fur that was skinned from a leopard he himself had killed. Carrying all the bags, he strode into his parents’ room.

When Madam Wang saw him, she couldn’t help grinning.

all people were abandoning escort house at dawn
all people were abandoning escort house at dawn

   “We are escaping, not moving. What are you going to do with all this stuff?” she asked amusedly.

Lin Zhennan sighed and shook his head, thinking to himself, “Although we’ve been a Martial Arts family for generations, our son is so used to living in ease and comfort that except for the Kung Fu he has learned, he is no different from any rich, profligate son. Now, when a sudden misfortune has forced us to run away in a hurry, how can I blame him?” Love and tender affection welled up in his heart, and he could not help but try to comfort his son.

   “Grandfather’s house has everything you need. Don’t bring so much stuff. All we need to bring is enough silver, gold, and valuable jewelry. On our way, we’ll be passing by our Escort House branches in Jiangxi, Hunan and Hubei. Do you think that we have to beg the whole way? The lighter the pack, the better. The less you carry, the easier it is to move about when you fight.”

At those words, Lin Pingzhi had no choice but to put down the packages.

   “Which way shall we take, dashing out the front gate or sneaking out from the back?” Madam Wang asked.

But Lin Zhennan didn’t answer. He sat down in the armchair, closed his eyes and began smoking his pipe. A while later, he opened his eyes. “Pingzhi, go tell everyone in the Escort House to pack their belongings and get ready to leave by dawn tomorrow morning. Ask the bookkeepers to distribute money to them. After the plague is over, we’ll all come back.”

   “Yes, Father!” Lin Pingzhi answered, feeling a bit surprised that his father had changed his mind all of a sudden.

   “Are you asking everybody to just break up in chaos? Who’s going to watch the Escort House then?” Madam Wang was also confused.

   “There’s no need to watch the house anymore. This is a condemned house, haunted by demons. Who would dare come in? After we leave, who do you think would remain?” Lin Zhennan explained.

Lin Pingzhi went out to spread the message. Not long after, the whole Escort House was filled with commotion. Lin Zhennan waited until Lin Pingzhi left, and then spoke again.

   “Wife, tomorrow Pingzhi and I will change into henchman’s clothes, and you can disguise yourself as a maid. At dawn, over a hundred people will rush out and disperse at the same time; no matter how fierce the enemies are, they only have two or three people at most, and won’t know whom to pursue.”

   “Great idea!” Madam Wang applauded. She went out, and soon came back with two sets of dirty henchman garments, so when Lin Pingzhi came back, he and his father could put them on. She, herself, had changed into a set of dark blue clothes, with a piece of handkerchief decorated with blue flowers covering her hair. Now, except for her extremely white skin color, she looked just like an ordinary maid. Lin Pingzhi also changed into the henchman clothes. They stank terribly, but he had no other choice.

At dawn, Lin Zhennan had the gate opened and addressed all who had gathered in the court, “This year has not been a good year for us. We’ve suffered plagues and have been haunted by demons in the Escort House. I guess we’ll just have to stay away for a while. All brothers who still want to remain in the escorting business please go to Hangzhou and Nancang to join our Zhejiang and Jiangxi branch Escort Houses. Escort Liu and Escort Yi there will treat you well. Now let us go!”

After these words, all of the over one hundred people present mounted their horses and rushed out the gate. Lin Zhennan locked the gate and, with a howl, ten riders dashed over the bloodline. Everyone was greatly encouraged, and by now, none was as afraid as before; all were thinking the same thought the earlier they left the Escort House, the safer. So, with the thunder of hoof beats, several rode toward the north gate of the city. Most people did not have any specific plan, so they all followed and headed toward the north gate.  (To be continued)

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