Happy Heroes 12 PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 11 July 2008 11:14

Chapter 11 – The Fist of Guo DaLu

--------------------------------------------------

DiaoShi beamed at them. “If that is the case, we must go back and make preparations.”

Guo DaLu: “Hurry. The faster the better.”

DiaoShi gave a deep respectful bow. Without warning, he squinted at SaoSu and in a low voice, hissed, “Hand it over.”

SaoSu scowled back at him and huffed, “What is your rush? So this time you won.”


This time, it was Guo DaLu who could not suppress his nosiness as he asked, “What did you say?”

DiaoShi interrupted, “He didn’t say anything.” Grabbing SaoSu, he tried to slip away.

SaoSu seemed to be more honest and upfront. He appeared to be quite agitated as he said, red-faced, “We had a bet and I lost a diao qian[7] to him. He is in a hurry to collect from me.”

Guo DaLu: “How did you lose?”

SaoSu: “I was concerned that you, sirs, would not accept the invitation. But he said…” His eyes were fixed on Guo DaLu. He shook his head unexpectedly. “I don’t dare say what he said.”

Guo DaLu: “You don’t need to worry. Nobody is going to blame you.”

Looking back at him with wide eyes, SaoSu asked, “What if someone does?”

Guo DaLu: “It still does not matter. I will protect you.”

Only after hearing this could SaoSu smile. “He said, even if the others are embarrassed to accept [the favour], daye, you would most certainly go because, among this group, daye, you’re the most thick-skinned.” He had just finished his sentence before he hastily grabbed DiaoShi fled. The sounds of their snickers could still be heard as they retreated off to safety.

Guo DaLu was both annoyed and amused as he grumbled, “It turns out that little rascal isn’t all that honest. He certainly knows how to ridicule people in a roundabout way.”

Yan Qi could not hold in his giggles. “You cannot say that he’s ridiculing you. He is merely stating the truth.”

Wang Dong: “It is not really that he is thick-skinned; it’s because ‘a person’s poverty stifles his pride’.”

Yan Qi: “Plus, this person is the reincarnation of a starved ghost.”

Guo DaLu did not get angry. He answered lightly, “Alright. I am poor, starving, and thick-skinned. You guys are all junzi [*gentleman; possess character and integrity].” He suddenly gave a couple of sarcastic chuckles. “But if it were not for this thick-skinned person, you bunch of wei junzi [*wei means false; wei junzi means “false gentleman” or hypocrite] would be going to the pawnshop and making spectacles of yourselves.”

Yan Qi: “No matter what, they are still our guests. How could you have the audacity to eat their food?”

Guo DaLu replied coldly, “At the very least, he is a human being. Eating from him is better than eating from a cat. If a person can ecstatically consume the food that a cat brings, what dignity can he possibly have left to put on an air of grandeur?”

Wang Dong: “Who wants to put on an air of grandeur? I just wanted him to bring the food and wine directly here, that’s all.”

********************

There was not much food, but there was a lot of wine.

Though the amount was modest, the foods themselves were exquisite. They were arranged in a partitioned box, and even the colors were coordinated nicely so that anyone just looking at it would still feel happy.

He FengYa: “This fare may have been prepared last night, but xiaodi [*younger brother; can be a humble way of referring to yourself] frequently travels and is moderately versed in the skill of food preservation. I guarantee that it has not gone bad. But regrettably, offering provisions for journey to guests is rather impolite.”

A chuckle escaped from Guo DaLu. “You had already prepared all this food last night? Did you predict that you would be inviting guests tonight?”

DiaoShi was pouring wine as he rushed in to answer, “Our household’s gongzi enjoys company. No matter who we encounter on the road, gongzi will certainly drink a couple cups with him. That is why no matter where we go, we always have a sufficient amount of food and wine.”

Guo DaLu looked at him, winked, and whispered, “If that is the case, it seems that I’m not the only one who is thick-skinned.”

He FengYa: “Guo xiong, did you say something?”

Guo DaLu: “I said, he…” DiaoShi coughed loudly. Guo DaLu grinned. “…he is pouring the wine too slowly. I am too impatient to wait.” He was the first to raise his wine cup. Sniffing its contents, he exclaimed, “Nice wine. I will ‘present Buddha with some borrowed flowers’ [*a saying meaning, to borrow something and make it a gift] and raise my glass first to the host.”

He was ready to pour the contents down his throat when He FengYa placed a hand on his and smiled. “Guo xiong, wait a moment. The first drink should be in honour of you four sirs. The four of you all …”

A black dog and a black cat suddenly scampered in together from outside and scurried onto the table, knocking the freshly poured cups of wine over.

The expression on He FengYa’s face changed, and he struck out unexpectedly.

His hands were pale and delicate, as if they had never come in contact with anything filthy before, as if, even if a wine jug tipped over, he would not reach out to support it.

This particular dog and cat, however, looked as if they had just rolled around in a puddle of mud.

Yet, the instant he struck out, he had immediately seized them both by the neck, one in each hand, and raised them high up to toss them outside.

As he was about to fling the animals away, two pairs of hands reached over and lightly caught them. Guo DaLu caught the black cat; Yan Qi caught the black dog.

Stroking the cat’s neck, Guo DaLu smiled and cooed, “Why are you here? Did you want to steal He Gongzi’s role as the host?”

Yan Qi patted the dog on the head as he said, “Why are you here? Could it be that you are like Mr. Guo, anxious to drink the wine?”

He FengYa’s brow creased as he forced a smile. “Such dirty creatures. Why would you still want to hold them against your body?”

Guo DaLu: “I like cats, especially cats that like to treat guests [to food and wine].”

Yan Qi: “I like mutts, especially ones that like to drink.” When the wine had spilled onto the table, the dog had stretched out his tongue to lick up the spoils.

Wang Dong all of a sudden said, “Too bad it’s not a golden Pekingese.”

Lin TaiPing picked up a piece of soy-sauce chicken with his chopsticks, then put it down again. “Too bad this isn’t a barbecue duck.”

Unperturbed, He FengYa smiled pleasantly. “Why is it xiaodi cannot understand what you four sirs are saying?”

Guo DaLu laughed. “Maybe we are all just speaking drunken words.”

Without warning, the dog in Yan Qi’s arms gave a tragic bark and jumped up from Yan Qi’s embrace. With a “thump,” it fell onto the table, as if someone had suddenly slit its throat before it even had a chance to cry out.

This jumpy and lively dog had all of a sudden become a dead dog.

Yan Qi gazed down at the dead dog, then lifted his eyes to look at Guo DaLu. “Do you see? This is an example of what happens when you are overly anxious to drink.”

Guo DaLu had been staring at the dog’s corpse also. He lifted up his head and addressed He FengYa, “We are not from Guangdong. Why would you invite us to eat dog meat?”

Wang Dong glanced over at He FengYa. Without a hint of expression on his face, he said nonchalantly, “I have heard that the meat from a black dog is the most nutritious.”

Lin TaiPing lips formed a cold smile. “Perhaps this isn’t a black dog, but one wearing a set of black clothes.”

He FengYa’s face was still unreadable as he slowly rose from where he was sitting. Wiping at the splatters of wine on his clothes, he said, “Please sit for a moment. I shall go change my clothes and will return momentarily.”

Guo DaLu looked over at Wang Dong. “He said he will return momentarily.”

Wang Dong: “You heard him.”

Guo DaLu: “Do you believe him?”

Wang Dong: “Yes.”

Guo DaLu: “Why?”

Wang Dong: “Because he cannot go anywhere. He will change behind that [bamboo] curtain.”

He FengYa stared at him in silence. For a long time, he did not say a word and his gaze never shifted. Unhurriedly, he turned around, picked up some chests that had been behind him, and walked behind the curtain.

The curtain hung from the middle of the sitting room. Everyone else’s attention was fixed upon that curtain; Guo DaLu’s was focused on DiaoShi.

DiaoShi’s little face had drained of color. Guo DaLu suddenly winked at him again and smiled as he asked, “Why are you two not changing as well?”

DiaoShi stammered, “I… I did not bring any clothes.”

Guo DaLu grinned at him. “If this place doesn’t have any clothes for you to change into, can you not go home to change?”

DiaoShi’s face brightened immediately. Grabbing SaoSu’s hand, they kicked up their feet and ran away quickly.

Yan Qi let out a little chuckle. “It seems that, though his skin may be thick, his heart is not black [*i.e. not cruel].” As he gazed at Guo DaLu, his eyes were filled with gentleness. But as he turned his head, the look in his eyes and the expression on his face turned icy cold.

He FengYa had emerged from behind the curtain. He really had changed into different clothing. Black clothing.

Black clothing, black pants, a black cloth covering his face. Even the sword that he carried on his back was sheathed in a black scabbard.

A sword, four feet seven inches in length.

--------------------------------------------------
[7] Diao qian generally means 1000 [ancient] coins, although, throughout history, it has been used to say 10 or even 100 coins

 

Outraged, Lin TaiPing cried, “It is you! You didn’t die.”

The black-clothed man replied coldly, “Only because you do not know how to kill, nor are you able.”

Lin TaiPing’s face turned pale, then flushed with color. He truly was one who did not know how to take the life of another human being. After committing the deed, he did not even check if the person was truly dead or not.

Black-clothed man: “If you really knew how to kill, even if I was actually dead, you should still have stabbed my corpse a few times.”

Lin TaiPing grated his teeth together as he spat out, “I have learned now.”

Black-clothed man: “You cannot learn it. Those who are not able to kill will never learn how to. Killing requires talent.”

Yan Qi spoke up, “From what you’re saying, could it be that you have a natural talent for killing?”

Black-clothed man: “Passable.”

Laughing, Yan Qi replied coldly, “If you, sir, really were that talented, we would all be dead by now.”

The black-clothed man pondered his words for a moment. “You should all be thanking the dog for the fact that you are still alive.”

Yan Qi looked over at Guo DaLu. “I just realized something.”

Guo DaLu: “What’s that?”

Yan Qi: “At the very least, he does have a talent for killing dogs. After all, he did just kill one.”

Guo DaLu blinked. “I just discovered something as well.”

Yan Qi: “What?”

Guo DaLu: “He is not NanGong Chou.”

Yan Qi: “Why?”

Guo DaLu: “Because he’s not ugly [*the word, chou in NanGong Chou’s name means ugly].”

Wang Dong interrupted them. “Just because the name is NanGong Chou, does not mean the person has to be ugly.”

Guo DaLu chuckled. “True. Just like someone named Wang Dong may not necessarily like to move [*dong means to move].”

Wang Dong: “Correct answer.”

Guo DaLu: “However, his face also does not have a scar.”

It was well known by many in jianghu that, though NanGong Chou may have been lucky enough to escape from beneath the Fierce Crucifix Sword with his life, a cross shape had still been cut into his face. That is why he never let anyone see his face.

Wang Dong: “Who has actually seen that NanGong Chou has a scar on his face?”

Guo DaLu: “In any case, I know I have not seen it.”

Wang Dong: “Since he never shows his true appearance, how could anyone have seen his face?”

Guo DaLu giggled. “That’s true. Maybe his scar is on his buttocks.”

The black-clothed man had been watching their whole exchange unemotionally but now, he suddenly cut in, “You are only correct about one point.”

Guo DaLu: “Which point?”

Black-clothed man: “I do not kill people, only dogs.”

Guo DaLu said with a laugh, “It turns out you are quite honest.”

Black-clothed man: “I just killed one. You will be the second.”



The night was very still. It was a perfect “moonless, windy night of murder.”

Aside from them, the mountain originally did not have many living people on it – perhaps this night, there would be one less. Perhaps, there would be four less.

There were trees in the courtyard. The wind was blowing. The trees were swaying.

But the black-clothed man was not moving. He stood there in silence, as if he had melded into this night of murder. There was nobody who would not acknowledge that he truly was a person who killed. His whole body radiated a murderous air. The sword had not yet left its scabbard, yet that deadly air already had.

Guo DaLu was still inside, slowly removing his outer clothes. The black-clothed man was outside waiting for him and seemed as if he was not the least bit anxious.

Out of the blue, Guo DaLu laughed. “This guy really does have some patience.”

Wang Dong: “You must have patience to kill someone.”

Guo DaLu: “Patience cannot kill anyone.”

Wang Dong: “You deliberately wanted to make him anxious. But if he doesn’t get anxious, you will get anxious. Once you become anxious, he will have an opportunity to kill you.”

Guo DaLu let out another little laugh. “That is why I’m not anxious.”

Yan Qi’s eyes had been fixed on him the whole time. He suddenly piped up, “Not only do you not need to be anxious, you don’t need to go out there alone either.”

Guo DaLu: “I may be thick-skinned, but I’m not a coward.”

Yan Qi: “We do not need to concern ourselves with morality and principles of jianghu when dealing with people like him.”

Guo DaLu: “You want to fight him four against one?”

Yan Qi: “Why not?”

Guo DaLu sighed. “I really wish we could, but unfortunately, I’m a man.”

Yan Qi lowered his head. “But do you… do you have confidence you can beat him?”

Guo DaLu: “No.”

Yan Qi: “Then you…”

Guo DaLu interrupted him. Smiling, he said, “I must go if I am confident, and I must go even if I am not confident. It is the same as, when you have money, you have to go drinking, but even if you don’t have money, you still will go.”

Wang Dong laughed. “This analogy’s logic may be complete bullcr*p, but it does illustrate one point.”

Yan Qi: “What point?”

Wang Dong: “Some things, you have no choice but to just go ahead and do it.”

Lin TaiPing suddenly spoke up. “Alright. You go. If he kills you, I will avenge you.”

Guo DaLu let out a laugh and patted him on the shoulder. “You may be a b*stard, but you have loyalty to your friends.”

All of a sudden, Yan Qi tugged on his hand and whispered, “Stand further away from him. His sword is not long.”

Smiling, Guo DaLu answered, “Don’t worry. I won’t be fooled.” He walked outside.

Yan Qi heaved a sigh. “I don’t understand. Why do some people have to force themselves to pose as heroes?”

Wang Dong replied lightly, “Perhaps he already is a hero – some people were born as heroes.”

Lin TaiPing sighed as well. “True. Regardless of whether he is a drunk or a b*stard, he is indeed a hero. One hundred percent a hero.”

Yan Qi exhaled another loud breath as he murmured, “Sadly, the majority of heroes die young.”

Guo DaLu was already outside in the courtyard. He really was standing a long ways away from the black-clothed man.

Black-clothed man: “Where is your sword?”

Guo DaLu chuckled. “My sword has already been sent into the pawnshop.”

With a cold laugh, the black-clothed man asked, “You dare to face me with your bare hands?”

Responding with another snicker, Guo DaLu answered, “Since I am going to die, it might as well be a faster death. That way I won’t have to suffer for so long and endure the pains of poverty.”

Black-clothed man: “Fine. As you please.” The word, “fine” had just left his lips, before he was already reaching behind to unsheathe his sword. His hand had just contacted the hilt when Guo DaLu darted toward him unexpectedly.

Yan Qi’s heart nearly leapt out of his chest.

Did Guo DaLu really want to meet a quicker death? He knew that the enemy was using a short sword, so why would he still rush forward and present himself for death?

Sword light flashed. The sword had left its sheathe.

It was not a short sword; it was a long sword.

The sword light filled the air with beams of rainbows, the brightness blurring their vision. But Guo DaLu was already right in front of the black-clothed man's chest. He could not see the sword, could not see the sword light. His eyesight had not been affected.

Even though he did not see the black-clothed man’s sword, he caught sight of his weakness. He saw it clearly.

“Bang!” The black-clothed man’s body was sent flying through the air. His body was soaring backwards, but the sword light flew forwards. He crashed into the wall at the back; the sword stabbed into the tree in front. He toppled down onto the ground and then was motionless.

Guo DaLu stood where he was, looking down at his fist with an astonished and perplexed expression. It was as if he himself had not believed that he could defeat his opponent in one punch.

The others had not believed it either. Yan Qi, especially, had not thought it could happen. He stood in shock for a long while before rushing over to Guo DaLu, as feelings of amazement, delight, and even a little fear filled him. Beaming, he scolded, “I told you to stay further away from him. Why did you deliberately rush towards him instead?”

Guo DaLu answered with a smile, “Maybe it was because I’m a fool.” His smile did look somewhat idiotic. But, naturally, he was not the least bit foolish – when you think that he is a fool, he will become intelligent, and in fact, much more intelligent than most people.

Yan Qi laughed. “Who said you are a fool? It’s just that, I don’t understand. How did you see that he was not going to use a short sword this time?”

Guo DaLu: “I couldn’t see. I guessed.”

Yan Qi paused a moment in surprise. “What if you guessed wrong?”

Guo DaLu: “I knew I would not be wrong.”

Yan Qi: “Why?”

With a wide grin, Guo DaLu replied, “Because my luck has always been good.”

Yan Qi was silent for a little while again before bursting out in laughter. He guffawed, “You may not be a fool, but you are not honest either. Not one bit honest.”

Guo DaLu really was not honest. He knew how to act the part of a fool.

Of course he could tell that this occasion, the black-clothed man was not using a short sword. That was because this time, the sword hilt was carried at the left shoulder, but the man had used his right hand to draw the sword. As he drew it out of its sheathe, he had pulled back his chest and stomach, and all his strength had been placed in front. Hence, a vulnerable point had appeared between his abdomen and chest.

Guo DaLu observed this weakness. He attacked, and with one punch, struck that point.

So long as your observation is precise and your judgement is accurate, one punch is enough. There is no need for a second one. In a battle between two martial arts experts, the first punch is the most significant. If that first blow does not bring down the opponent, then you may be the one who is defeated instead.

The distinction between victory and defeat is often determined in the blink of an eye – and more often than not, is decided in a moment’s consideration.

Yan Qi cut in, “There is still something I don’t understand.”

Guo DaLu: “Oh?”

Yan Qi: “His arm is much shorter than that sword. How is he able to draw his sword in one quick motion?”

Guo DaLu contemplated over that for a while, then chuckled and replied, “I don’t understand either.”

Wang Dong: “I understand.” He walked over to them. In his hand was the black-clothed man’s scabbard.

Yan Qi took ahold of it and looked it over. Chuckling in amusement, he stated, “I understand too.”

Anyone who took a close look at the scabbard would understand. Inside, there were actually two swords: one long sword, one short sword. Yan Qi had figured this out long ago. He had never considered, however, that this was actually not a real scabbard but two pieces of wood cramped together. The sword was not ‘drawn’ out of the top but instead, was wielded out the side.

Yan Qi laughed. “This is the same as an egg.”

Guo DaLu was taken aback. “An egg?”

Yan Qi: “Do you know how to stand an egg on the table?”

Guo DaLu: “No.”

Yan Qi: “Idiot. All you need to do is crack and knock in the wider head of the egg. Then, the egg can rest on that end unsupported.”

Guo DaLu laughed appreciatively. “You are such a genius. I can’t believe you thought up such a method.”



There are many things in life that truly are just like an egg: something that you think is tremendously complicated will often turn out to be extremely simple.

Some people are also like an egg: no matter how pathetic a person is, all you need to do is knock him hard over the head and he will stand himself back up again.

********************

A grave had been added into the courtyard – a dog’s grave.

Yan Qi personally laid the dog into the coffin. Sighing gloomily, he lamented, “You came here in the coffin, now you depart in the coffin once again. If you had known this would be the outcome, why would you still come?”

Guo DaLu answered with a bitter smile on his face, “If he had not come, we would be the ones departing in the coffin.”

Lin TaiPing exhaled loudly. “When he arrived, I had given him a hard kick. Who knew he would end up saving our lives?”

Wang Dong: “Dogs are not like humans. They do not harbor grudges. All they remember is the kindness they have been shown.”

Guo DaLu: “True. You only need to give a dog one bone and the next time, it will be wagging its tail when it sees you. But there are some ungrateful people out there who, no matter how much mercy you have shown to them, will turn around and stab you in the back. Therefore…”

Lin TaiPing continued, “Therefore, dogs value loyalty and honor more than people. Or at least, more so than certain people.”

Guo DaLu: “That’s why we should erect a tombstone in his honor.”

Lin TaiPing: “What should be written on it?”

Guo DaLu: “Tomb of the righteous canine.”

Yan Qi shook his head in disagreement. “‘Righteous canine is not good enough. Don’t forget, he is the savior of all of our lives…”

Wang Dong: “The tombstone can wait until later, but the funeral oration must be given now.”

Guo DaLu: “You know how to write funeral orations?”

Wang Dong nodded. He suddenly arose and recited loudly [*Note, in the original Chinese, the oration rhymes, but my translation skills aren’t good enough to capture both the meaning and the rhyming],
Within the coffin lies a dog
Kind friend, loyal comrade
Should you not have come, we would have gone
Every first and fifteenth [of the month]
[For you] Fragrant flowers and honoring wine
A tragic loss…




A pig should not be too plump; a person should not be too smart. The fattest pig is always the first to be slaughtered. If a person wants to live a happier life, he should have a bit of silliness and do some foolish things. This does not mean that the person really is a fool.

Needless to say, they all knew that cats do not cook and dogs do not know how to climb into a coffin and close the lid. That dog and cat had to have an owner. Who could that be?

Yan Qi: “This person must have known that NanGong Chou is not dead when he sent the coffin here.”

Guo DaLu: “Correct. He sent the coffin here for the purpose of letting us know that NanGong Chou is still alive.”

Yan Qi nodded in agreement. “He likely knew about NanGong Chou’s evil plot.”

Guo DaLu: “But why would he not just tell us outright?”

Yan Qi: “Because he doesn’t want us to see him.”

Lin TaiPing: “Why? If he intends us no harm, why would his actions have to be so sneaky?”

Guo DaLu: “It seems to me that this person is actually a woman.”

Yan Qi: “What makes you think that?”

Guo DaLu: “Only a woman would do something so sneakily and without rhyme or reason.”

Glowering at him, Yan Qi retorted, “Women have to do those sorts of things only because men use even less rhyme or reason.”

Guo DaLu snorted. “Don’t forget, you are a man too.”

Wang Dong was staring at Yan Qi. He suddenly lectured, “It is an innate instinct for men to look down upon women and for women to look down on men. It is one of those unchangeable principles of life. It was like that thousands of years ago and will be like that thousands of years from now. So…”

Yan Qi: “So what?”

Wang Dong: “So there is not much to debate in this issue. I don’t understand why you guys always have such an interest in this topic.” He let out a long breath. “I had enough issues as it was. Now there is one more.”

Guo DaLu: “What issue is that?”

Wan Dong: “NanGong Chou.”

Nan GongChou was not dead because no one had been willing to kill him. None of them wanted to take another person’s life, especially a person that had already been defeated. There was one thing NanGong Chou had gotten correct: “Some people are born without the ability to kill. Furthermore, they will never be able to learn it.”

Guo DaLu: “Very true. He is an issue.”

Lin TaiPing: “But haven’t we already locked him up?”

Guo DaLu: “Yes.”

Lin TaiPing: “Are you concerned that he will escape?”

Guo DaLu: “He is not able to escape.” Anyone who has been tied up like a zongzi[8] will not have any hope of escaping.

Lin TaiPing: “If he cannot get away, what is the issue?”

Guo DaLu: “That is exactly the problem. Since he cannot escape, we have to watch over him, right?”

Lin TaiPing nodded in agreement.

With a cynical smile, Guo DaLu explained, “We can barely support ourselves. How can we feed another person?”

Lin TaiPing finally understood. His brow knit together as he suggested, “Maybe we should let him go.”

Guo DaLu: “We can’t let that type of person go free.”

Lin TaiPing: “Well, that means we will have to support him for the rest of his life.”

Guo DaLu: “That is why there is an issue.”

Yan Qi piped in unexpectedly, “We can make him support himself.”

Guo DaLu’s eyes lit up immediately in excitement. “Of course! He is much wealthier than we are.”

Yan Qi: “At the very least, he just made a large sum off of Feng QiWu.”

Rising to his feet, Guo DaLu announced, “I am going to go ask him where he hid all the treasures.”

Yan Qi: “Will you be able to get him to reveal anything?”

Guo DaLu: “I may not be JiaGun, but I have my own methods.”

A laugh slipped out from Yan Qi. “It looks like this guy has learned a few things off of JiaGun.”



End of Chapter 11

Last Updated ( Friday, 11 July 2008 12:01 )