Chapter 46: Three Long Spears
Meng Hao had been to Yunkai County a few times before. Usually it was when he needed to buy pens, ink, paper and inkstones. Perhaps because the excess of wealth in the village prompted a demand for scholarly embellishments, the price of writing supplies was cheaper than average.
Even though three years had passed, the place looked just like before. As Meng Hao walked down the streets, he couldn’t help but notice that outside of many of the shops hung lanterns, upon which the character “Li” was written in sweeping calligraphy.
From what Fatty had said, his father was the richest person in Yunkai, and actually owned about half of the county. And it wasn’t just land they owned, but business, all of which were marked with the character “Li.”
After asking around, he determined the location of Fatty’s house and headed in that direction. The sun was beginning to sink over the horizon, turning the sky dark and covering the land with a soft glow.
It didn’t take long for him to reach the east end of Yunkai County, where he saw a massive estate, filled with a veritable forest of grand buildings. Above the main door, which was guarded by retainers, was a board inscribed with the words “Li Mansion.” The lively sound of singing and dancing could be heard from within.
Meng Hao’s body flashed, and he was inside.
The mansion was a large, surrounding an inner courtyard where singers and dancers were currently putting on a show. Meng Hao caught sight of an extremely fat, middle-aged man wearing a luxurious robe. He closely resembled Fatty; this was obviously his father. Sitting next to him was a young man whose face was covered with a prudent expression.
He seemed wildly arrogant, and wore expensive garments, yet his body looked a bit frail, as if he had worn himself out with too much wine and women. He held a wine cup in his hand, and a somewhat indecent expression shone in his eyes as he looked over the singers and dancers.
“Still not here yet?” said the young man, frowning. His tone of voice was both cold and bored.
“Any moment, any moment,” said Fatty’s father, looking extremely embarrassed, but forcing an obsequious smile onto his face. “Young Lord Zhao, please just wait a bit longer. My daughter-in-law tends to take things slowly.” Even as the words came out of his mouth, several maidservants appeared in the distance. Walking behind them was a young woman. She wore a long, gauzy garment, and her hair was put up with phoenix hairpins. Her appearance was pure and beautiful, and yet there was a look of fear on her face; as she approached she seemed to shiver as if she were cold.
“Father…” she said as she approached. She bowed in greeting.
“Xiang’er, this is the young Lord from the house of Zhao in Yunhai County,” said Fatty’s father softly. “Why don’t you toast him?” He looked at his daughter-in-law apologetically. Even though his son had been missing for years, she continued to wait for him to return, never complaining. She treated her father-in-law with utmost filial piety.
“Greetings, young Lord Zhao,” said the girl softly, lowering her head. She was afraid, but she knew that the family was not in a good position at the moment. She lifted up the wine pot and poured some wine into a cup, which she extended to him with both hands.
He looked at her, his eyes shining brightly. He swallowed hard. The girl was shockingly beautiful, and in his heart, he was already prepared to make some trouble. A lecherous smile appeared on his face. He accepted the wine up and then tried to grab her hand. The girl stepped back, frightened, causing the cup to tumble to the floor.
“How dare you!” shouted young Lord Zhao, his eyes blazing. He kicked over the table, sending wine and food scattering about. He pointed at Fatty’s father. “You listen to me, Li Dafu. My younger brother is back, and he’s an Immortal now. He wants your property, not your lives! I felt pity for you and spoke kindly of you to him, but then you humiliate me like this!?”
“Young Lord Zhao, this…” Fatty’s father hastily tried to speak.
“Shut the hell up! Let me tell you, this matter isn’t finished! If you know what’s good for you, you’ll have your daughter-in-law spend the night with me. If she pleases me, then I’ll say some more nice things about you to my younger brother….” He laughed coldly, his eyes fixed on the girl, whose face had grown pale white. A dirty look once again appeared on his face.
Fatty’s father’s face grew ashen. At first, the young man had only mentioned toasting, which he had agreed to. But this was excessive. He gritted his teeth. His son was missing, and he couldn’t even protect his own daughter-in-law. What was the point of living?
“Beat it!” he roared. “Get the hell out of here! Men, kick this man out! Even if the Li family goes bankrupt, I won’t tolerate insults from the house of Zhao!”
“How impressive,” laughed young Lord Zhao. He spun and left, his eyes filled with murder.
Watching the feast being cleared away, the young girl bit her lip, tears streaming down her face. She lowered her head and looked as if she were about to say something.
“Don’t worry about this matter,” said Fatty’s father calmly. “Law still exists in this world. Please, take the young miss back.” Servants appeared to escort the young woman away. Everything was quiet. Fatty’s father began to tremble. He staggered, suddenly seeming to grow older.
Then he shook his head and began to walk. Before long, he reached a building. He pushed the door open and walked in. It was a luxurious room, but seemed as if it would look better if everything weren’t covered with bite marks.
“Fugui, where are you?” murmured Fatty’s father as he sat down into a chair. “Why haven’t you returned…?” He looked even older than before. He gently rubbed at a bite mark on the table.
“He’s doing well,” said a voice, breaking the silence. Fatty’s father lifted his head, and his eyes filled with fear as he realized that somehow another person was standing in the room, next to the window. He had no idea when or how he had come to be standing there.
He wore a long blue robe, and looked like a scholar. It was none other than Meng Hao.
“You…” Li Dafu stood up, looking alarmed. He took a few steps back.
“I’m Li Fugui’s friend from the Sect, Meng Hao, from Yunjie County.” Meng Hao turned. His eyes moved from some bite marks on the windowsill to rest on Li Dafu.
“Meng Hao!” said Li Dafu, shocked. He recognized the name. When he had checked into the disappearance of his son all those years ago, he’d learned that three other boys had gone missing at the same time. One of them was named Meng Hao.
“Fugui, he…” Li Dafu’s body began to tremble. Inside, he felt hesitation.
“He’s not in the State of Zhao at the moment, but I think he’ll be able to return before too long.” Meng Hao walked forward and sat down in a chair. “I saw what happened in the courtyard just now,” he said coolly. “I’ll stay here for a few days to take care of the matter.” He took a piece of paper out and placed it down onto the table. “Please forge me three spears according to these specifications. One iron, one silver, and one gold spear.” With that, he closed his eyes.
Li Dafu hesitated, but then nodded his head. Regardless of how unbelievable the situation might seem, he would rather believe what Meng Hao had just said. Without a word, he picked up the paper and hurried off.
As for young Lord Zhao, he left the Li household, and Yunkai County, his face grim. Accompanied by his retainers, he made his way back to Yunhai County in the darkness of night, gnashing his teeth. As he walked, he slapped himself hard in the face, leaving behind a clear palm print. Soon, he arrived at a large courtyard, and the expression on his face suddenly turned to one of respect, even awe. His voice low, he spoke.
“Little brother, are you awake?”
“What’s the matter!?” said a cold voice. The voice was a bit shrill, as if its owner was a boy just beginning to go through puberty.
“Not only does the house of Li refuse to listen to your suggestions, they also humiliated me. They even slapped me.” Young Lord Zhao tried to put on his most humiliated expression.
The door slowly opened, and a young man walked out. He appeared to be about twelve or thirteen, and wore a richly embroidered gown. He had finely chiseled features and looked almost beautiful. Were Meng Hao here, this young man would instantly begin to act like a toady. He was one of the disciples saved by Grand Elder Ouyang the day the Reliance Sect was disbanded. He was Meng Hao’s servant, Zhao Hai.
He had the same idea as Fatty, to become a great landowner. With Fatty gone, he had returned to this area and began plundering the properties of the local rich families. He had actually begun to plan how to deal with Li Dafu back when he was still in the Reliance Sect. Unfortunately, after returning, he’d learned that the Li family forbade its members from revealing information about family assets.
“You good-for-nothing fool,” said Zhao Hai with a cold snort. “Do you really think I’m as stupid as you? The angle of that palm print is all wrong. You obviously hit yourself.” An expression of disgust appeared on his face. But, this person was his older brother. He frowned. “Never mind. I’m about to make a breakthrough in my Cultivation base. In seven days, I’ll go with you to the house of Li.” He turned and went back into the room, slamming the door behind him. Young Lord Zhao looked pleased. His heart burned as he imagined the young girl’s plaintive cries coming from underneath him, seven days from now.
Seven days passed. Zhao Hai walked out of the house of Li in Yunhai County, his hands clasped behind his back, followed by young Lord Zhao. They brought a group of family retainers with them. Their eyes filled with killing intent as they headed straight for Yunkai County.
In Yunkai County, Meng Hao sat cross-legged in Fatty’s room, meditating in silence. Around noon-time, a light knock could be heard on the door. Meng Hao slowly opened his eyes to see Li Dafu entering the room. Behind him were ten family retainers. Three groups of three men each carried a spear, one iron, one silver, and one gold.
Networks of fine lines were carved onto their surfaces, making them appear both primitive and luxurious at the same time. Meng Hao raised his hand, and the iron spear flew through the air toward him. Li Dafu and his servants gaped in astonishment and shock.
The iron spear was extremely heavy; to see Meng Hao snatch it from such a distance frightened them.
Li Dafu’s body shook, and his eyes shone. Before, he had surmised that Meng Hao was not an ordinary person. Despite only half trusting him, he had still complied with the request to craft the three spears. But now, he thoroughly believed his previous words. This person was clearly not ordinary.
Meng Hao nodded, retrieving the silver and gold spears. He tested them out, then deposited them into his bag of holding with the flick of a sleeve. When this happened, flopping sounds sounded out as the servants dropped to their knees and bowed to him, their expressions filled with shock.
This is a series of 5 special chapters sponsored by Jon Alle, Jingping Lai, Erik Gordon, Christian Dela Cruz, Sai Pakalapat, Marco Pacheco Dera, Chris Sherman, Sheela Mugan, Tjandra Johannes, Deep Bhattacharya, Allen Porter, Daniel Delaney, Steven Melendez, Abdul azim Nasyirah Diyana, and Austin Minett