Chapter 2: Tenth Bandit
With over 300 years of legacy, even the lowest ranked disciple was regarded as a holy existence to the citizens of [Chufung Kingdom] — nay, the entire [Nan-Zhan Province]. Perhaps one of the most famous disciple was Xiao Jianmin, whose tales involved, on one occurrence, single-handedly infiltrating and massacring the [Guiyan Valley]’s infamous bandit group three months ago.
Xiao Jianmin laid rest to bandits, leaving behind only one survivor out of ten. And as a celebration, all nine heads of the bandits were hung at the entrance of [Guiyan Valley]. The villagers cheered and hurrahed for their hero; however, Xiao Jianmin would not celebrate as he was determined to find that missing 10th bandit. And ever since, he searched the entire range of [Mount Yandang] for the 10th bandit in vain.
It has been told that the tenth bandit was the most mysterious of the group, and no outsider had ever laid eyes on the tenth bandit.
Sadly, what Xiao Jianmin doesn’t know is that the 10th bandit will never appear in [Mount Yandang]. You see, around three months ago, the tenth bandit has already joined the [Qing-Yun Sect] to become a new Shidi. That is if you can count Daotong as a Shidi. Hahaha.
[TL Note: Shidi: 师弟, junior martial brother, or junior apprentice brother; Daotong: 道童, lit. ‘child of taoism/daoism’. The lowest rank within Qing-Yun Sect, they do not receive any formal teachings from the elders, and are usually assigned with mundane tasks such as cleaning, cooking, and farming.]
[Qing-Yun Sect]’s recruitment ceremonies occurred once every ten years in search of talents, whereas Daotong recruitment happened annually. A Datong, albeit a member of the [Qing-Yun Sect], was regarded very differently from an actual disciple. They would not receive any formal lessons from any of the elders nor received any Spirit Stones as reward for their hard work and contribution. It was estimated that there were around 10,000 Daotongs in the sect and they were often assigned tasks like menial labor, such as cleaning, cooking and/or farming.
However, it wasn’t all work and no pay. The Daotongs received a one-day holiday each month and received a thin martial arts booklet titled: [Qing-Yun Sect’s Qi Formation].
After Shijie Lin-Yun took off with Xiao-Mahn, the plump Taoist led Fang-Xing to a wooden cabin. Inside the cabin, there was a burly man with a distinctive large mole on his face. The man smiled and passed Fang-Xing a set of cyan colored robes, a thin booklet, and a small wood block with his name engraved on it.
“Aren’t you a lucky bugger? If it wasn’t for Shijie Lin-Yun, you wouldn’t even have a chance,” Large Mole laughed disdainfully, “with no connection, no money, no power, you belong at the bottom. Take this [Qing-Yun Sect’s Qi Formation] manual and study it well. Not everyone can have the chance to read this!
Only when you’ve mastered the first level, can you become one of the Outer Sect disciples.”
As the plump Taoist left the cabin, Fang-Xing looked around the room and found few other boys in the room, he assumed none were much older than he was. However, the boys would not let him know that and tried to cross their arms in hopes of looking much older than they actually were.
“How many stages of Qi have you mastered?” Fang-Xing asked.
“No one except for me here has felt the movement of Qi!” Large Mole proudly pointed his thumb at himself.
“How many years have you all been here?”
“I’ve been here six years! They’ve been here for at least three now.”
“Shit! That woman lied to me,” sighed Fang-Xing, throwing the manual aside.
“What woman?” Curious, Large Mole asked.
“Who else? That Lin-Yun! She said she’ll take me as a disciple but all I get is this stupid book!” Fang-Xing clutched his fists, “look at all of you. Six years, three years, three years… What have you achieved? That lying bitch…”
“Shijie Lin-Yun?” Shocked by Fang’s words, Large Mole reached for Fang-Xing’s collar and whispered menacingly, “Shut up you little brat. Do you know how much trouble we will be in if anyone hears what you just said?
Remember this: you are now in my herb field. If I tell you to go east, you don’t go west. If I tell you to jump, you ask me how high. Do you UN.DER.STAND?”
“That’s right! You’ll need to clean the stools and fill the tanks with fresh water every day now!” A boy with freckles chirped in.
‘He’s probably in charge of cleaning the stools and filling the water tank…”
“Haha, and the laundry, too! The newbie always take care of it”
‘That’s the laundry guy’
Fang-Xing faced everyone and slowly nodded to himself, “So, you’re all just bullying me?”
“Yea, so?” Large Mole slammed his arm against a table nearby, showing off the blue veins on his muscular arm, “what are you going to do?”
“Don’t you dare hit me! I– I can scream…” Fang-Xing appeared frightened as if even a slight touch of a finger would set him off.
At Fang-Xing’s cowardice, Large Mole laughed, “don’t you worry about that. I don’t dare touch you now, but that’s different when the night falls. We’re going to shut the doors and it’ll be just you and all of us. No one… No one will be able to hear you, even if you screamed at the top of your lungs.”
“That’s right! The Shixiong from the Yaosi Department only checks once every three months. When they’re not here, it’s all up to us,” the freckled boy threatened, “they’ll be way too busy to care about someone like you. Also… did you know that as a Daotong, you won’t be able to leave this place for ten years?”
[TL Note: Yaosi department: 药司监, it is the department or the office that oversees all herbal cultivation activities in the Qing-Yun Sect. The herb field that Fang-Xing is assigned to reports to the Yaosi department.]
‘It must be his first time threatening someone. Freckled boy seems way too excited.’
“My dear brothers, please don’t hurt me. I’m a good person. I’ll do whatever you say,” Fang-Xing pitifully begged.
“Hah, thought so.”
The [Herb Field] was one of the examples of the sheer wealth of the [Qing-Yun Sect]. Not only was it vast in size, the [Herb Field] was endowed with magic; even around fall, the garden would be filled with lush greenery.
Next day, Fang-Xing went straight to work at the field, voluntarily picking up the hardest and the dirtiest job. The field, however, spanned across three miles with only six caretakers to maintain the premise. Despite the incident, Freckle-boy responsibly taught Fang-Xing how to water, take out the weed, fertilize and control the pest.
‘Flowers such as Qinrui can only be water during the hours of sunset’
‘Moling is a herb that must be watered at the first crack of dawn, right before the dewdrops disappear…’
To the rest of the gang, Fang-Xing was maybe a coward but he was also a good learner. He was extremely polite and friendly throughout the whole day. And by dusk, Fang-Xing even brought some water to soak everyone’s dirty laundry so that it could be washed after dinner.
Appreciating the newfound attitude, everyone promised to share all their experiences and understandings of the [Qing-Yun Sect’s Qi Formation] manual with Fang-Xing.
By nightfall, the [Herb Field] rested quietly as Fang Xing was the only one up.
Sitting on his bed, Fang-Xing was fiddling with a sharp dagger that he took out of his bundle, which contained everything he owned. The dagger was a gift to him from his Third Uncle, Sanshu, along with some gold leaves that he has already spent on the purchase of Xiao-Mahn. Sanshu also taught Fang-Xing a set of close range combat Kung Fu skills to be used along with the dagger.
[TL Note: Sanshu: 三叔, yes this literally means third uncle, and yes I have pretty much called him “third uncle third uncle”, but this just makes it easier to remember. So one can see ‘Sanshu’ as a way of calling someone, or even as a name for the third uncle.]
One by one, Fang-Xing took out the items in the bundle as they were presents from his passed uncles: a cute cloth-tiger from First Uncle; some medicine from Second Uncle; Fourth Uncle gave him a snuff bottle that releases thick smog; a hidden weapon that shot out silver needles from Fifth Uncle; a treasured collection of — Chun’hwa from Sixth Uncle; a rare Wild Ginseng from Seventh Uncle; a wine gourd from Eight Uncle; and finally, Ninth uncle gave Fang-Xing the most mysterious item, a book.
[TL note: Chun’hwa, erotic art. It was however heavily influenced by illustrations in Chinese Medicine manuals. (ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shunga)]
[Editor’s notes: Sixth Uncle knows what’s “up”. Ehhhh! Can I get a clap for that?]
Fang-Xing stared blankly at all that remained of his uncles for a while. After clearing his head from all the nostalgia, he packed up the bundle and placed it safely aside.
Stealthily, while clutching his dagger, Fang-Xing neared Large Mole’s bed, who was asleep, and softly into his ears, “Brother Wang, Brother Wang…”
It took some effort until Large Mole woke up, irritate, “What the hell are you doing in the middle of the night? Do you want to die?”
“No, you will.”
Before Large Mole had any time to react, Fang-Xing stabbed his dagger straight into the body and pushing it until only the handle was visible. Large Mole let out one brief, agonizing scream and then — complete silence. Fang-Xing had quickly covered Large Mole’s mouth to prevent him from making any unnecessary noise.
After all… Fang-Xing didn’t want to disturb too many people from their sweet dreams.
Wang, Large Mole, wanted to get away but he couldn’t. The dagger pierced him so deeply that it might have even stapled Wang to his own bed. Wang, realizing that struggling was futile, stayed still and kept quite.
Fang-Xing didn’t want to disturb everyone, but he intentionally made sure that the first scream was heard by everyone in the room. And it didn’t take too long before they all realized what had just occurred, with freckle-boy letting out a sharp shriek.
“If you don’t want to die then shut the hell up!” Fang-Xing muttered in a deep tone, quite unbecoming to his ten year old body.
Despite being older by a couple of years, the freckle-boy was so shaken that he started to feel a warm, wet sensation between his legs.
Slowly… Fang-Xing withdrew the dagger out of Wang’s body, causing Wang to curl like a shrimp in pain. As Fang-Xing paced himself towards everyone on the other side of the room, the freckle-boy hid under his blanket and uncontrollably sobbed.
“How dare you try something on me? No. One. Bullies. Me. Got it?” Gently swaying the dagger in front of everyone, Fang-Xing continued, “the only bullying that will happen is from me, and me alone.
Remember this: all of you are now on my [Herb Field]. If I tell you to go east, you don’t go west. If I tell you to jump, you ask me how high. Now, if anyone decides to get silly and act up, I warn you, my hands may slip and my dagger just might–.
Do you have any idea who my sister is?” Fang-Xing let out a proud smile, “She’s the current favorite of Shijie Lin-Yun. That means I have her protection.”
“I mean– Fang-Xing Laoda! Laoda, I think we should probably bandage Shixiong Wang or he might really die.”
[TL Note: Laoda: 老大, lit. ‘old big’, this is an address used for the boss or leader.]
Fang-Xing looked at Wang who was still shriveled up in the corner of his bed and smirked, “He won’t die. Sanshu said as long as I stabbed him through the Geyu and out the Bulang, it’s not going to hurt any of his internal organs. But, of course, if my hands were to slip… You! Go bandage him up.”
Spirit Stones: 灵石, a currency used in the Xianxia world. Can also be used to aid meditation as well as spirit recovery in battles.
Geyu: 膈俞穴, a point in acupuncture. Located just below the heart and above the spleen. (ref: http://www.taozhy.com/ShuJuKu/XueWei/142.thtml)
Bulang: 步廊穴, a point in acupuncture. Located around the 5th rib bone on the chest. (ref: http://www.taozhy.com/ShuJuKu/XueWei/214.thtml)