Happy Heroes 22 PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 11 July 2008 11:35

Chapter 21 – Shaded Willows, Bright Flowers [11]

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To Yan Qi, dying really was quite easy. He had already died nine times. And now, surprisingly, he was alive again.

He could feel that he was lying on a soft and comfortable bed. Every item that his eyes took in was resplendent and exquisite, so much so that they did not seem to be earthly objects. If last time, the place he had awoken in was hell, then this place surely was heaven.

But without Guo DaLu by his side, what meaning could heaven possibly have to him? Where was Guo DaLu? Could he have been sent down to hell instead? Yan Qi struggled to pull himself up and at once, he saw Guo DaLu. He nearly could not believe his own eyes. In the room, there was a table, and it was covered in food and wine. Guo DaLu was sitting there feasting away. Finally setting down his chopsticks when he saw Yan Qi, he beamed, “I saw that you were sleeping so well and did not want to disturb you, so I decided to indulge first. Fortunately, there is so much food here that even ten people would not be able to finish it all.”


Yan Qi: “Did you bring me here?”

Guo DaLu: “No.”

Yan Qi: “What is this place?”

Guo DaLu: “Don’t know.”

Yan Qi glared at him and with an irritated tone, snapped, “So what do you know?”

Guo DaLu grinned back at him. “I know that the cook here is pretty good, and the wine is quite nice too. What are you waiting for?” He chuckled as he added, “To not eat would be a waste. Haven’t you learned this yet?”

Yan Qi could not stop a charming smile from spreading on his face. “I learned that long ago.”



The room not only had a door, it also had windows. Waves of the sweet fragrance of plum blossoms were carried in through the windows.

Yan Qi: “Have you gone outside?”

Guo DaLu: “Nope.”

Yan Qi frowned at him. “Why didn’t you go outside for a look?”

Guo DaLu: “If I take care of my mouth, I can’t take care of my eyes. I thought the mouth was more important than the eyes.”

Yan Qi admonished, “You should have at least first sought out the master of this place.”

Guo DaLu: “He is going to come find us anyways, so why should we be anxious about looking for him?” As he was just finishing his sentence, the sound of knocking rang on the outside of the door.

A girl, dressed in clothing as white as snow, her eyes bright, her smile enchanting, and her hands carrying two pitchers of wine, walked gracefully into the room. She really did look a little like a fairy in heaven.

Guo DaLu’s eyes were bulging out slightly while he gawked. It was only when Yan Qi threw a nasty glare in his direction that he gave a couple of dry coughs and straightened his sitting posture, but he still could not contain his grin. “Who knew that, just when I was starting to worry that there would not be enough wine, wine would arrive?”

The young lady in white hid her mouth daintily behind her hand as she giggled, “Now that you are here, whatever you want, you will have.”

Yan Qi inquired, “How did we get here?”

White-dressed young lady: “Naturally, the master of this place rescued you here.”

Guo DaLu: “You are the master of this dwelling?”

The white-dressed young lady blinked at him, “Do I look like it?”

Guo DaLu: “No.”

The white-dressed young lady smiled charmingly. “Even in my own eyes, I think I don’t look like it.”

Guo DaLu: “Then who is the master here? Do we know him?”

White-dressed young lady: “I only know with certainty that the master knows you.”

Guo DaLu: “Why?”

Giggling again, the young lady in white replied, “Because the master said that, by yourself, you can eat more than several people combined and specifically instructed me to prepare food and wine for you. Without actually knowing you, how could master understand you so well?”

Guo DaLu chortled, “If that is the case, this person does not just understand me; he is definitely a good friend of mine too.”

The white-dressed young lady blinked at him and chimed, “Anyone that treats you to wine is your friend?”

Yan Qi answered in an icy tone, “You are not one bit wrong.” The look on his face was rather unsightly and he had even set down his chopsticks. Guo DaLu glanced over at him and did not dare say another word.

White-dressed young lady: “When you two sirs have eaten your fill, I will take you to see the master of this place, who has been waiting all this time for you.”

Yan Qi abruptly rose to his feet. “I am full now.”

The white-dressed young lady’s eyes glimmered as she asked sweetly, “Why is it that the instant you saw me you were full?”

Yan Qi replied nonchalantly, “Because you are even cuter than pork shank.”



Plum blossoms. White snow. Curved hallways. Carved pillars.

The white-dressed young lady’s face was stony as she led the way in front of them. She neither spoke nor smiled. She really was very sweet, very pretty, but it was also true that she was a little bit chubby.

“Yan Qi went so far as to compare her to pork shank. I cannot believe he even thought of that.” Guo DaLu’s eyes were on Yan Qi. He wanted to laugh, yet did not dare because the expression on Yan Qi’s face was rather ugly. For some reason, he seemed to hate women, especially those who joked around with Guo DaLu. “He must have been duped or suffered some sort of loss in the past at the hands of a woman.” Guo DaLu resolved that he must find some way to enlighten him and inform him that not all women loathsome. Occasionally, there are a few among them who are much more endearing than any man.

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They had finished walking the length of that long hallway. Hanging outside the end of that hallway was a curtain made of long strings of beads. They had just walked through when they heard a voice from inside the curtain chortle, “You have come again. Please enter, please enter.”

Madam Wei.

Remarkably, it was her voice again. It turns out that she was the master of this house. She was the one who had poisoned the food, pretended to be a ghost, and even went so far as to transport in and attack them with one of those cannons that were used to lay siege on a city. Now, though, she had rescued them and furthermore, had brought out good food and wine to entertain them. Guo DaLu and Yan Qi exchanged several glances with one another, utterly unable to guess what other schemes she may have been hatching.

Madam Wei’s smile was still just as regal and alluring, and that faint smile was on her face as she fixed her eyes on Guo DaLu and Yan Qi and stated, “There is no sense in trying to speculate what my plans may be. No one has ever been able to guess my plans.”

Guo DaLu sighed, “I believe that sentence.”

Madam Wei: “There is another point that you may as well believe too.”

Guo DaLu: “What is that?”

Madam Wei: “You are both now allowed to leave at any time. No matter where you go, I will not send anyone to follow you.”

Taken aback, Guo DaLu blurted, “You don’t want to take our lives?”

Madam Wei: “No.”

Guo DaLu: “And you don’t want to know where Lin TaiPing is?”

Madam Wei: “Not at this moment, at least.”

Guo DaLu: “You spent so much effort in dealing with us, but now you are just letting us go as we please?”

Madam Wei: “Correct.”

With another sigh, Guo DaLu told her, “I really cannot believe that.”

Madam Wei: “You will not even trust my word?” She asked them unexpectedly, “Do you know who I am?”

Guo DaLu returned, “I know you are an individual who has much wealth, status, and capabilities, but people like you are usually untrustworthy.”

Madam Wei stared at him intently. She suddenly beamed at him. “You both must think that the things I do are very strange, but if you truly know who I am, you will not find any of it unusual.”

Yan Qi could not help asking, “Then who are you?’’

Enunciating each word deliberately, Madam Wei announced, “I am Lin TaiPing’s mother.”


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[11] A saying that was originally a line from a poem. The poem paints the picture where, in a setting of perilous mountains and tortuous rivers, all of a sudden, a village appears surrounded by beautiful flowers and willow trees that cast a cool shade. It means that you have shifted from an adverse circumstance to a favourable one.

 

As she finished speaking those words, Guo DaLu and Yan Qi were struck with astonishment. They dared not believe it, yet they had no choice but to believe. Even if Madam Wei was someone who had told lies before in her life, right then, she did not look as if she was lying.

Guo DaLu: “Let us say that I believe that you are Lin TaiPing’s mother, but how can a mother not know her son’s whereabouts?”

Breathing a soft sigh of sadness, Madam Wei answered, “That is the sorrow of being a mother. When a son has grown up, a mother often is not able to understand the things he does.” She gave an unexpected smile, then added, “Perhaps this is because he is gradually becoming a man.”

Guo DaLu was unable to hold in his question. “What did he actually do?”

Madam Wei said regretfully, “He did not do anything. He merely ran away from home.”

Guo DaLu was still for a minute. “Ran away from home? Why would he run away?”

Madam Wei: “He was running away from his wedding.”

In bewilderment, Guo DaLu echoed, “Running away from his wedding?”

Forcing a smile, she explained, “I saw that he was gradually growing up, so I arranged a marriage for him. Who could have known that, the night before his wedding, he would sneak out and flee?”

Guo DaLu was silent for a long while until he could no longer contain his chuckles. “I get it. He did not like the girl.”

Madam Wei: “He had never even seen the girl before.”

Guo DaLu could not help feeling puzzled. “So, if he had never seen her before, how did he know whether she is good or not?”

Madam Wei: “He does not know.”

Guo DaLu: “If he does not know whether she is good or bad, why would he run away?”

Madam Wei sighed, “For the sole reason that this marriage was something I arranged for him. That is why he detested it.”

Guo DaLu laughed in amusement. “The wife is going to be his, so he should be the one to choose anyway. Had you been willing to let him see her first, he may not have tried to escape.” His face became very stern as he told her in a serious tone, “This does not mean he is not filial. When a man becomes an adult, he should more or less have his own views and opinions, otherwise how could he be considered a man?”

Madam Wei was nodding her head slowly. “I was furious at first, but after thinking about it, I actually became quite pleased.”

Yan Qi broke in, “You should be pleased. In the world today, there are not many men who have a mind of their own as he does.”

Guo DaLu: “There may not be many now; however, slowly but surely, there will be more in the future.”

Madam Wei broke into a smile. “And so, I have changed my mind. It is not necessary to force him to go back and get married.” Her gaze drifted off into the distance. She continued, “I believe, in the process of growing up and maturing, if a boy has the opportunity to go out and forge his own way in the world and toughen himself, overall it should be beneficial to him for the rest of his life.”

Guo DaLu heaved a sigh. With a wry smile on his face, he remarked, “It would have been very nice if you had said these words earlier.”

Madam Wei: “I did not say this before because I was still a little concerned.”

Guo DaLu: “Concerned about what?”

Madam Wei: “Concerned about his friends.”

Guo DaLu: “So you did all that merely because you wanted to test us?”

Madam Wei smiled pleasantly at him. “Since you are his good friend, I am certain you will not be upset with me.”

Guo DaLu: “Can you set your mind at ease now?”

Her voice gentle, she replied, “I know now that, for him, his friends are not only unhesitant about enduring starvation or dying, they will also reject every kind of temptation. In my eyes, that is even more difficult than dying.” She breathed a sigh of admiration. “It is his good fortune to have friends like you. How could I not set my mind at ease?”



“When a child grows up, even though he no longer belongs to his mother, a mother will still always be a mother. Therefore, no matter where he may be, he will always be your child.” If a mother can truly understand this, then her sorrows will turn into joys.

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The little city was still simple and peaceful. There are some places that will never change. Only the people change. Only people’s hearts change.

But then, there are some people who will never change either. Even when he saw that Yan Qi had returned, Wang Dong still lay on his bed and did not move. Guo DaLu could not contain himself. “It has been six or seven days since you last saw us. Don’t you have a single question that you would like to ask us?”

Only then did Wang Dong lazily give a big yawn. “What would I ask?”

Guo DaLu: “You should at least ask us whether these last few days have been good or not.”

Wang Dong: “No need for me to ask.”

Guo DaLu: “Why is there no need?”

Wang Dong: “As long as you can both return here alive, then it is already pretty good.”

Yan Qi blinked at him. “But then, you should at least ask whose skin HuoBoPi was going to flay.”

Wang Dong: “Also no need to ask.”

Yan Qi: “Why?”

With a little chuckle, Wang Dong answered nonchalantly, “For people like him, besides themselves, who else can they flay?”



Aside from the one time when he made the move to attack Feng QiWu, in everything he did, Lin TaiPing was always slower than everyone else by half a beat. Regardless of whether it was eating, talking, or walking, he would always do it sluggishly with a look on his face that was not panicked or rushed at all. He seemed to be the type that, even if flames were licking at his eyebrows, he would not get anxious. Sometimes, Guo DaLu could even believe that he was actually an elderly man. He was not like Wang Dong; he was not lazy, but he had a lukewarm temperament.

Guo DaLu and Yan Qi had returned for half a day before he walked into the room unhurriedly. His clothes were neat and in order and his hair combed until it was immaculate. Regardless of the time or the place, he was always like a hard-shelled fruit that had just been split open: fresh and clean. “At all times and occasions, this guy looks like he is ready for the king to summon him.” A glance passed between Guo DaLu and Yan Qi. They were unable to contain a pair of knowing grins because they had both suddenly thought of Madam Wei. Only a mother like Madam Wei could have a son like Lin TaiPing. “A good tree will never produce rotten fruit.”

Lin TaiPing looked over at them but could not figure out what they were smiling about. He muttered, “Judging from the look of things, the two of you must have had lots of fun and been quite happy the last few days.”

Guo DaLu chortled, “Extremely happy.”

Lin TaiPing: “Did you know that HuoBoPi has disappeared? That Li Yuan Pawnshop has changed ownership?”

Guo DaLu: “Nope.”

Lin TaiPing: “Such big news and you don’t even know? What have you been doing these last several days?”

Guo DaLu and Yan Qi exchanged another look and gave a little laugh. They had decided earlier that they would not let anyone know what had befallen them the past several days because they felt that it would actually be better if Lin TaiPing did not know. They did not wish to influence Lin TaiPing’s decision, nor did they want him to feel gratitude towards them. All they hoped was for Lin TaiPing to live with them, free from care, for a period of time. That way, he would certainly become stronger, more mature, and smarter. This was also Madam Wei’s desire for him.

Guo DaLu chuckled as he answered, “We haven't done much these few days. We merely died once after being poisoned, had one encounter with Yama, and were fired at once by a cannon. In the end, the person responsible ended up treating us to a big feast and then we came back.”

Lin TaiPing stared wide-eyed at them for a long moment before unexpectedly sniggering loudly, “I know you guys are very good at exaggerating, but this time it has gone a little overboard. Even a three year old child would never believe you.”

Settling himself in comfortably, Guo DaLu laid down, closed his eyes, and exhaled a long breath of air. With a faint smile on his face, he said, “I had known all along that no one would believe these things.”



End of Chapter 21