Happy Heroes 30 Print
Friday, 11 July 2008 12:07

Chapter 29 – Gold and Face


This house’s front door opened out to the south, and its pair of ringed door knockers glinted in the sunlight. Guo DaLu spotted those rings the instant he entered the lane. A long time passed, yet his eyes were still fixed on them, as if he had never before seen ringed door knockers in his life. Actually, he very rarely in his life had the chance to see something so peculiar.

Every household had a front door; every front door had ringed door knockers. This point was not the least bit peculiar. What was peculiar, though, was the door knockers on this house’s front door were actually made of gold.

All the while that Guo DaLu had been fixated by the door knockers, Yan Qi had been watching him. Lately, there almost seemed to be a rope around these two that connected them together. Wherever Guo DaLu was, Yan Qi would be there also. After a long time, Guo DaLu finally exhaled and commented, “This family must be the new-rich.”

Yan Qi blinked at him curiously. “The new-rich?”

Guo DaLu: “Only the new-rich would do something like this.”

Yan Qi: “Something like what?”

Guo DaLu: “Something that makes people laugh so hard that their front teeth fall out.”

Yan Qi: “You are wrong.”

Guo DaLu: “How am I wrong?”

Yan Qi: “This family is not only not ‘new-rich’ but moreover, they are, in fact, one of the few large, influential families of the martial society.”

Guo DaLu: “Oh?”

“It may be very tacky and funny-looking to have ring door knockers made from gold, but when he does it, no one will find it the least bit funny,” Yan Qi told him.

“I find it very funny,” Guo DaLu argued.

Yan Qi: “That is only because you do not know who he is.”

Guo DaLu: “I know.”

Yan Qi: “You honestly know?”

Guo DaLu: “He is a person, a person who reeks of the stink of copper, whose wealth is massive but his manner is crude, and who is worried that other people do not know that he has lots of money. I do not know this person, nor do I want to befriend him. I want nothing to do with anything that people of this sort choose to do.”

Yan Qi grinned at him. “But unfortunately, someone of this sort now has something to do with you?”

“What does he have to do with me?” Guo DaLu huffed. “He is not one of my loaners.”

Yan Qi chuckled, “We are not so poor that we have reached that extent.”

Guo DaLu breathed a sigh of relief. “So, don’t tell me that you made me travel for half a day and hurry to this place just to see this pair of door knockers.”

Yan Qi: “Not quite.”

A worried expression started to come over Guo DaLu again as he stared Yan Qi. “I know the idea you have could not possibly be a nice one. That is why you have not been willing to be frank and just say it out.”

Letting out an amused laugh, Yan Qi reassured him, “Don’t worry. In any case, I will not sell you to these people. I would not want to part with you.” His face suddenly seemed to redden.

Guo DaLu appeared to grow even more concerned. “If someone has not done something to make his conscience feel guilty, he would not blush.”

Yan Qi: “Who is blushing?”

Guo DaLu: “You.”

Yan Qi turned his head away quickly. “I think there is something wrong with your vision.”

Guo DaLu’s eyes lit up abruptly, and he blurted, “I understand now.”

Yan Qi: “What do you understand?”

Guo DaLu: “It must be that this family has a daughter who is an old maid. You want me to use the ‘handsome man ploy.’ ”

A “pfft” slipped out and Yan Qi could not stop himself from giggling. “You think that you are very handsome?”

Guo DaLu: “Maybe not exceedingly handsome, but I am precisely the type of man a woman would fancy the instant she laid eyes on him.”

“You are like a horse that does not know its face is long,” Yan Qi said with a sigh.

Guo DaLu exhaled a sigh as well as he remarked, “It is a pity that you are not a woman, otherwise you would definitely fancy me, too.”

Yan Qi’s cheeks seemed to grow pink again, but he purposely drew his face into a scowl. “If I was a woman, right now, I would give you a solid kick straight into the gutter.”

Guo DaLu: “No matter what you say, I am not going to fall into your trick.”

Yan Qi: “Fall into what trick?”

Guo DaLu: “That old maid must be ugly and weird and maybe even has a face covered in pockmarks, so that is why she still is not married. Even if her dowry is eight hundred silver liang, you should give up on any hope that I would take her as my wife.”

Throwing a sideways glare at him, Yan Qi asked icily, “What if she is both young and beautiful?”

Grinning widely, Guo DaLu answered, “Then that can be discussed. You are my good friends after all. For my friends, I am willing to do anything.”

Yan Qi: “Right now, I only want you to do one thing. Would you be willing or not?”

Guo DaLu: “Go ahead and say it.”

Yan Qi: “I just want you to go look at your own face’s reflection in the gutter, then go buy a stinky tofu and smash your head into it.”

The lane they were in was quite wide, and suddenly, a large carriage drawn by four horses came tearing into it. But even though the street was wide, if Guo DaLu and Yan Qi had not skirted out of the way quickly, they would still have been struck. Guo DaLu glowered angrily at the carriage that had gone galloping by, and grumbled resentfully, “This street does not belong solely to him. Based on what right does he get to barge and rampage about as he please?”

Yan Qi: “Based on only one point.”

Guo DaLu: “Which point?”

Yan Qi: “Based on the fact that this lane does belong solely to him.” Guo DaLu was taken aback for an instant. Only then did he notice that there really was only one household in the lane.

The carriage had pulled to a stop outside the door. From within what had been a quiet entryway, more than ten people suddenly came rushing out with hurried footsteps. With the fastest speed possible, a few of them unsaddled the horses that had been pulling the carriage. The remaining ones shoved the carriage onto the carriageway beside the stone steps, then pushed it back inside.

A head protruded out briefly from the within the carriage window and cast a glance towards Guo DaLu and Yan Qi. Guo DaLu did not have a chance to catch a clear view of the person’s face. The only impression he had was that this person’s eyes seemed to be particularly bright compared to normal people. “From the looks of it, it seems like Jin DaShuai [Commander Jin] has returned,” Yan Qi commented.

Guo DaLu: “Who is Commander Jin?”

Yan Qi: “He is the one whom you said has massive wealth but a crude manner.”

Guo DaLu: “And, sure enough, my words were not wrong.” He gave a cool smirk. “Commander Jin. You only need to hear his name and you already know what kind of person he is.”

Yan Qi: “I do not see how wealthy people cannot be good people.”

Guo DaLu: “But on what basis is he allowed to call himself ‘commander?’ ”

Yan Qi: “Number one: because he carries himself with the air of a commander. Number two: because other people like to call him commander.”

Guo DaLu: “It appears that you have a high regard for him.”

Yan Qi: “Am I allowed to have a high regard for him?”

Guo DaLu: “Yes, of course you are. But am I allowed to not have a high regard for him?”

Yan Qi: “No.”

Guo DaLu: “Why not?”

Yan Qi: “Haven’t you always thought highly of yourself?”

Guo DaLu: “Heh heh.”

Yan Qi: “So you should also think highly of him. You two are basically the same type of person – very great-hearted and very ‘dalu’ [straightforward, carefree, does not take things to heart, etc]. ”

Guo DaLu: “Heh heh.”

Yan Qi: “What is ‘heh heh’ supposed to mean?”

Guo DaLu: “Heh heh means that I do not believe it.”

Yan Qi: “When you see him, you will have to believe it.”

Guo DaLu: “I never wanted to see him.”

Yan Qi: “But you do not have a choice. You must see him.”

Guo DaLu: “Why?”

Yan Qi: “Because if you do not see him, then you are going to have to face the expressions of the people you owe money to.” What is worse to look at than the face of the people you are in debt to?

Guo DaLu’s brow creased together as his thoughts turned to these people. “You….. you couldn’t possibly want me to open my mouth and ask to borrow money from a person that I do not even know?”

Yan Qi: “I know that the skin on your face is not quite that thick yet.”

Guo DaLu: “Then why are you telling me to go see him?”

In a low tone, Yan Qi explained, “Wulin has many strange people, for instance, that Sour Plum Soup’s father.”

“Are you referring to the lao qianbei [(respectfully) old elder/senior] who is called ‘The Stone God’?”

Yan Qi nodded. “Do you know how the name ‘Stone God’ came about?”

Guo DaLu: “It is because he uses weapons of stone, and he uses them very proficiently.”

“Correct answer.” Yan Qi carried on, “Stone tools and weapons were used by people of ancient times because at the time, humankind had not yet discovered how to smelt iron and produce steel. Nowadays, hundreds and thousands of bizarre weapons exist, but yet he still prefers to use those awkward and heavy stone weapons. Isn’t he a strange character?”

Guo DaLu: “Yes, but… what does he have to do with Commander Jin?”

Yan Qi: “Commander Jin is the same. He, too, is a strange character, and the weapons he uses are unusual also.”

Guo DaLu: “What weapons does he use?”

Yan Qi: “He will only use ones made of gold, and furthermore, they must be pure gold.”

Guo DaLu’s eyes were blinking now. He appeared to be starting to comprehend what Yan Qi was intending.

Yan Qi: “The weapon he is most adept in using is his Golden Bow, Godly Pellets. The pellets are fired in succession. In a single assault, a total of twenty-one of them will be shot out. Very few people in jianghu are able to evade this attack.”

Guo DaLu: “The pellets are also made of gold?”

Yan Qi: “Pure gold.”

Guo DaLu: “You want me to somehow get into a fight with him, catch his gold pellets, and bring them back to pay the bills?”

With a wide smile on his face, Yan Qi replied, “Supposedly, each one of his gold pellets weighs several liang, and in addition, each attack will launch twenty-one of them. You only need to be able to catch three or four of these attacks and then you will not need to face the expressions of all your creditors.”

Shaking his head adamantly, Guo DaLu objected, “I will not do it. I will absolutely not do something like that.”

Yan Qi: “Why?”

Guo DaLu: “There is no ‘why.’ Won’t do it means won’t do it.”

There was a twinkle in Yan Qi’s eyes as he gave an offhand chuckle. “Oh….. I get it. You are scared…”

“What would I be scared of?” Guo DaLu snapped loudly.

In a casual tone, Yan Qi answered, “Of course you are not scared of him. You are just afraid of getting fat.”

Guo DaLu was taken aback by this, and he repeated, “Getting fat?”

Yan Qi: “Gold may be softer than iron, but each pellet weighs five or six liang, and if it hits you, it would still hurt quite a bit.”

Guo DaLu: “Hmph.”

Yan Qi: “Once it hurts, it will swell up; once it swells, you will look fat, and it does not look nice when you look fat.” He let out another nonchalant laugh. “So even if you do not go, I will not blame you. If you suddenly get fat, I would be worried that people would say that you took some sort of pig fattening drug anyway.”

Guo DaLu glared at him for a long time. Scowling, he grumbled, “Funny. So frigging funny!”

Yan Qi: “If a person suddenly swelled up, then that would really look funny.” Guo DaLu threw another angry stare at him before turning his head and walking away. Yan Qi grabbed him and held him back. “Where are you going?”

“I am too thin from being starved lately,” Guo DaLu replied coldly. “I should have been thinking of ways to get fat anyways.”

Yan Qi’s face broke into a sweet smile. “Don’t tell me you are planning on just barging inside and picking a fight.”

Guo DaLu: “How else can I get him to fight me? Do I have to get on my knees and beg him?”

“Even if you get on your knees and beg, he still may not fight,” Yan Qi told him with a laugh.

Guo DaLu: “Oh?”

Grinning, Yan Qi explained, “After all, twenty-one pellets are worth quite a bit of money. He has not lost his mind so why would he use them on just any random person? Plus, if by chance he does kill someone, then that would not be very fun at all.”

Guo DaLu nearly screamed with frustration. “You were the one who was forcing me to go just a moment ago. Now, the person stopping me from going is also you. What trick are you trying to play?”

Yan Qi: “It is not that I do not want you to go. It is just that, if you want to pick a fight with Commander Jin, you have to have a plan.”

Guo DaLu: “What sort of plan?”

Yan Qi: “Think about it: what sort of person is able to force Commander Jin to make a move?”

Guo DaLu: “I cannot think of any, nor can I be bothered to think about it.”

Yan Qi: “Only two types of people.”

Guo DaLu: “Which two?”

Yan Qi: “The first type would obviously be his enemies. If his enemies came knocking on the door, of course he would strike out immediately. Unfortunately, though, there is not a single bit of enmity between the two of you.” He heaved a long sigh. There was a look on his face that seemed as if he was filled with regret over this point.

A dark cloud covered Guo DaLu’s face as he muttered, “So do you want me to go steal his wife from him to create some enmity between us first?”

Yan Qi giggled, “Supposedly, his wife is fat and ugly and what’s more, she is a tigress. If you really do take her away, he may actually be grateful to you.”

Guo DaLu: “Ha ha. Very funny.”

Yan Qi: “Fortunately, aside from that, there is another method.”

Guo DaLu: “Humph!”

Yan Qi: “In wulin, no one is ever willing to bow their heads and show weakness to another person. And so, if a person seeks him out in a forthright and honourable manner and challenges him to a contest of martial arts, he will have no choice but to fight.” He reached unexpectedly into his garments and pulled out a bright red card [bai tie; a card that pays one’s respects when you request to see a person] and said charmingly, “But of course, this person has to have a name for himself, for example, someone like you, Clumsy Hands, Clumsy Feet, Crawls Around Drunken, King of Losers, the Great Dim-Witted Bird…. Do you agree?”

A card, entirely red in color and very elegant-looking. Written on it, in a neat script, was a very resounding name: “Thousand-Armed Buddha, Untouchable Phantom’s Shadow, the Swift-Handed Great Drunken Hero, Guo DaLu respectfully pays a visit.”


The doorkeeper of the Jin family mansion was already quite old, and his entire face radiated the look of a sly, old fiend. After accepting the card, he had glanced over it, and not even a trace of astonishment had crossed over his face. He merely asked unenthusiastically, “And where may this Great Hero Guo be right now?”

Guo DaLu: “He is right here.”

Only then did the old doorkeeper bother to lift his head and glanced over Guo DaLu a couple of times. “So you, sir, are Guo Daxia [Great Hero Guo]. My ignorance, my ignorance.”

Guo DaLu: “Hmph.”

The old doorkeeper stared at him with a look where his skin seemed to smile but the facial muscles did not smile [phony smile] and laughed drily, “Could it be that Great Hero Guo, you are here to challenge our master to a contest in the art of projectile weapons?”

“How did you know?” Guo DaLu blurted in surprise.

The old doorkeeper smiled like an old fox as he answered in a detached tone, “Each month, there are always a few ‘great heroes’ who come here. If I still did not know by now what you sir are here for, then that would truly be strange.”

With a serious look on his face, Guo DaLu instructed, “If you already knew, then why have you not sent word that I am here?”

Assessing him up and down a few more times with his eyes, the old doorkeeper remarked, “It appears that Great Hero Guo is not drunk yet today?”

Guo DaLu replied coldly, “The Great Drunken Hero does not necessarily have to be drunk every day.”

Old doorkeeper: “Then I would advise Great Hero Guo that it would be best if you turn around and go back.”

Guo DaLu: “Why?”

That smile on the old doorkeeper’s face became even more infuriating as he said unemotionally, “Because the number of ‘great heroes’ who come here is really too large. Our master said that he grows dizzy the instant he sees a great hero. He had instructed us in the past that he will see any person. Even bastards, bandits, and pickpockets are all allowed to be invited inside, but as for ‘great heroes’… heh heh… he absolutely refuses to see any one of them.”

The card was back in Yan Qi’s hand again.

Guo DaLu’s entire face was red with fury. “This was all your brilliant idea. Never in my life have I been so humiliated before. And especially that old fox! It was as if he views me as a thief. His entire face has that skin-smiles-but-the-muscles-don’t-smile look that just maddens me to death.”

Yan Qi blinked at him. “Why didn’t you slap him a couple of times?”

Guo DaLu: “Because I am a thief to begin with. My conscience is guilty. The fact that he did not give me a couple of slaps is already very courteous of him. How could I still have the nerve to beat him up?”

Yan Qi laughed in reply. Naturally, he was much more pleasant to look at than the old doorkeeper. Once Guo DaLu saw him laugh, his anger seemed to subside a little bit. “So the face on your skin actually is not that thick. It is even slightly thinner than a city wall,” Yan Qi giggled.

Letting out a sigh, Guo DaLu said with a bitter smile on his face, “That’s why all I want to do right now is hurry away from here, the faster the better.”

But Yan Qi pulled him back again. “What is your hurry? I still have another plan.”

Guo DaLu looked terrified. With an anguished expression, he groaned, “Is it possible for you to not offer any more ideas?”

Yan Qi: “No.”

Covering his ears with his hands, Guo DaLu whimpered, “Then is it possible for me not to listen?”

Yan Qi: “No.” Seizing Guo DaLu’s hands, he yanked them off his ears, and chortled, “This plan is even better than the last one. You have to listen.”

There was an agonized smile on Guo DaLu’s face. “Your not-so-good idea is already quickly making lose all the face I ever had. I don’t think I could handle this new great idea of yours.”

Yan Qi: “You really think that this whole situation is very humiliating?”

Guo DaLu could only sigh.

Yan Qi: “Let me ask you: if Big Centipede was using projectile weapons to attack you and you caught them, would you give them back to him?”

Guo DaLu: “I am not crazy. Why would I give them back to him? For him to use them on me again?”

Yan Qi: “That’s exactly correct.”

Guo DaLu: “What is exactly correct?”

Yan Qi: “If he used projectile weapons to attack us and we were able to catch them, that would all be a result of our own skill and ability, correct?”

Guo DaLu: “Yes.”

Yan Qi: “When a person earns money through his own abilities, there is nothing shameful or humiliating about that, correct?”

Guo DaLu: “Yes.”

Yan Qi: “How many points do we have now which are correct?”

Guo DaLu: “Three.”

Yan Qi: “So do you have anything else you would like to say?”

Guo DaLu: “No.”

Yan Qi: “Then would you still like to hear my idea or not?”

With another sigh and a pained smile, Guo DaLu answered, “I am simply dying to hear it.”

In reality, it is very humiliating to buy things on credit while knowing perfectly well that you have no money to pay back, yet Guo DaLu still forced himself to do it. He had always been a person who needed to save face. Why, then, would he do something like that?

Naturally, it was for his friends. If, within a lifetime, a person is able to befriend someone who is willing to lose face for him, then even if he should die, his life would have been worthwhile already.

End of Chapter 29