The Number One Apprentice from Huashan Sword School, part 6

  “So, it is Uncle-Master He from Mount Yandang!” He bowed. “What a lack of manners on my part. Uncle-Master He, will you please come to our humble house as well?” 

He had guessed that this old wonton seller was the master from Mount Yandang, He Sanqi. He Sanqi made a living by selling wontons when he was young. Even after he became proficient in the martial arts, he still carried his wonton stove with him when he wandered about. The wonton stove was more or less like his trademark. Although he had tremendous skills, he did not seek fame or wealth, and was content to live off his small business. Everyone in the Martial World respected him. There were thousands of people selling wonton on streets and in alleys; the only one that sold wontons and also had excellent Kung Fu skills would have to be He Sanqi. 

   “I’ll go,” He Sanqi said with a smile, and started to clear off the wonton bowls on the table. 

  “We junior apprentices didn’t recognize you, respectful Master. I hope senior Master does not mind,” Lao Denuo said apologetically. 

   “Not at all, not at all. You came to me as my good customers, why would I mind? Nine bowls of wonton, ten coins a piece. That means you owe me ninety coins.” He Sanqi extended his left palm out after the words. 

Lao Denuo was very embarrassed, and wasn’t sure if He Sanqi was just kidding. 

   “Hey, pay the bill after you eat. He Sanqi never said he was letting you eat for free,” Dingyi said. 

  “Yeah, small business, cash only. No credits or late payments, not even for relatives or close friends,” He Sanqi announced. 

   “Of course, of course,” Lao Denuo answered. He dared not to give any extra, so he counted ninety copper coins carefully and handed the money over respectfully with both hands. 

He Sanqi took the money, and then turned to Dingyi, with his palm out. “You broke two of my bowls and two china spoons. That comes to a total of fourteen coins.” 

  “You penny-pinching skinflint! You even cheat money from nuns. Yiguang, pay him the money,” Dingyi chortled. 

Yiguang counted fourteen coins and handed over the money respectfully with both hands. He Sanqi took the money, threw the coins into a bamboo tube by the wonton stove, and then lifted the stove and said, “Let’s go!” 

   “We’ll take care of all the bills later. Write them up under Master Liu,” Xiang Danian said to the teashop waiter. “Ha you all, they are all Master Liu’s guests ha you all. It is an honor to have them here ha you all. Forget about the bills, ha you all. It’s on the house,” the waiter said, beaming. 

Xiang Danian distributed the umbrellas they had brought with them and then led the way at the front. Dingyi dragged the girl Lingshan of Huashan Sword School and walked side by side with He Sanqi. All the Huashan apprentices and Heng-Shan apprentices followed behind. 

Lin Pingzhi thought to himself, “Let me follow them from far behind. Let’s see if I can sneak into Liu Zhengfeng’s house by chance.” 

After the group turned a corner, he stood up and walked to the corner of the street. The group was heading north, so he followed in the heavy rain by walking under the eaves by the street. After walking three long streets, he saw a big mansion on the left side of the street. Four big lanterns in front illuminated the gate. About ten people stood in front, some holding torches and others holding umbrellas, busily greeting guests. After Dingyi, He Sanqi, and the others walked into the house, more guests approached the house from both ends of the street. 

Lin Pingzhi plucked up his courage and walked to the gate. Two groups of guests happened to be going into the mansion led by an apprentice of the Liu House. Lin Pingzhi followed them in quietly. The greeting apprentices thought he was one of the guests and greeted, “Come in please! Have some tea please.” 

Lin Pingzhi stepped into the crowded great hall. There were over two hundred people sitting at different tables and talking to each other. Lin Pingzhi calmed down a little. “There are so many people here; no one will ever pay any attention to me. I just need to find those Qingcheng villains, then I’ll be able to find out where my mom and dad are.” So he sat down at a small table in a dark corner. Soon, servants brought tea, snacks, and hot towels for him. 

He looked around, and saw the nuns of Heng-Shan Sword School sitting at a table to the left. The apprentices of Huashan Sword School were sitting around another table nearby. The girl Lingshan was also sitting there. It seemed that Dingyi had decided to let her go. But Dingyi and He Sanqi were not among them. 

Lin Pingzhi surveyed one table after another, and felt a sudden shock when he saw Fang Renzhi, Yu Renhao, and a bunch of others sitting around two tables. Obviously they were all apprentices of the Qingcheng Sword School. His parents weren’t among them. He wondered where they could be kept. Feeling both sad and angry, and also fearful that his parents were already dead, he felt a strong urge to move to a table closer to them, so he could overhear some of their conversation. But considering that it had been so difficult for him to get this far, if he acted recklessly and attracted the attention of Fang Renzhi and his fellows, he would not only have wasted all his efforts so far, but would also be getting himself into a fatal situation.

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