Saturday, September 15, 2018

Spring Once More ch21

Translator: ayszhang
Editor: Marcia
Beta reader: Dairytea

Spring Once More chapter 21
(Traditional Chinese cover scanned by Dairytea)

Chapter Twenty-one

A full stomach, a good night’s sleep. I don’t wake until the sun is completely up and spend the last day of the fast in top form.
Su Yanzhi
In the blink of an eye, a week or two passes just like that, and meanwhile I got to enjoy some peace and quiet. The seventeen injured masters recovered more or less. The lake-jumpers and neck-hangers recovered the very next day, and the poison-takers had their digestion and appetite sorted out within a few days. By now, even the two throat-slitters and the one wall-rammer have healed up quite well. I, on the other hand, have two things on my to-do list: one, lead all the masters in exercise drills, and two, tell stories to Hua Yingxiong every night.
The collective suicide taught me something very important, that ‘patience is everything.’ They say that even water wears the stones. A violent revolution only backfires violently, so one must find another gentle, roundabout path. So after ruminating for three days and three nights, I started this more gradual scheme of change, and so far it’s yielding satisfactory results.
My sincerity obviously touches the masters, and their attitude towards me changes for the better. I take this occasion to hang up a sandbag in the pavilion in the centre of the lake and encourage them to practise boxing, run two laps around the Wangxing Lake, do some exercises and get some fresh air.
The tanhua was intimidated by my threats to decapitate his whole house and has been cooperating fairly well. He gained some weight after being cared for in the southern courtyard and joins us for the morning exercise on some days. Satisfied with his progress, I grant him special permission to advance to learning basic weapons like staffs, clubs and batons.
The teacher, Chen Dagui, is an old man of sixty-eight years of age who was recommended by Prince Ren. He is the former trainer of the Imperial Guards, and legend says that he was able to hold down the fort by himself with his meteor hammers. In my opinion, we would have fared better if we hired some elder monk from Shaolin or Wudang to teach them some basics, and I went into the wilderness in search of a recluse. But Prince Ren said that Old Man Chen is equal if not better than Shaolin and Wudang in terms of skill. Not to mention he has tons of teaching experience and is available right away.
I knew my bro, Chai Xin, was not to be trusted, and lo and behold, disaster strikes on the first day. Right off the bat, Chen begins by belting out commands to everyone, including me, to get into the horse stance as if we were one of his Imperial Guards. Only Hua Yingxiong, Wang-tanhua and I follow the instruction. The other eighteen only stand to the side, hands behind their backs, unwilling to cooperate.
Old Man Chen is absolutely outraged. “Why are you standing there when the prince is following the exercise?!”
Master Pei replies, “Milord did not demand that we do it. His Highness said earlier that it is up to us.”
“This is anarchy!” Chen exclaims and looks to me for help. I, however, pretend to not see. I mean, the dominant policy now is gentle treatment. Old Man Chen won’t take that for an answer. He picks up a staff and swings it towards Pei Ruoshui.
I holler for him to stop and rush over without much thought. The staff lands not on Master Pei but square on my right shoulder, leaving me hissing and gritting like a pathetic shit.
The whole time, Xiao-Shun and Xiao-Zhong have been serving Prince Ren with tea, sunflower seeds and pastries while he observes all this from the walkway making sure his proposals go as planned. In an instant, he flings out a piece of pine nut crisp hitting some pressure point on Old Man Chen’s back. The ex-officer immediately becomes a dumb statue. Then Prince Ren comes over and sweeps the old guy several yards out with a wave of an arm.
“Considering your old age and your service, I shall pardon you today. Harming the precious body of the prince is a crime for which you cannot pay even if you had three thousand lives!”
As Old Man Chen hits the ground, the pressure point is released, and I persuade Prince Ren to allow two servants to escort him out of the manor. I look back at Prince Ren and the anger hits me.
“Brother! What is the big idea? Why did you recommend an uncultured brute when you are so skilled in martial arts yourself?!”
He flashes a sly smirk at me. “Well, I have to leave a few tricks hidden up my sleeves, don’t I? And there’s no free favours with me: you still owe me a drink for the recommendation!”
What the fuck!
The huge purple bruise on my shoulder doesn’t go away for several days. What’s probably worse is Pei Ruoshui, whom I advised to change his name back to his birth name, Pei Qixuan, insists on massaging my shoulder for me every night in order to thank me for taking the hit for him. Oh, does it make my little heart flutter. I can’t even concentrate on telling stories to Hua Yingxiong.
With the nation’s seedling growing into a strong tree as my goal, I’ve been telling him hero stories to slowly and subconsciously change his worldview. And this project is going extremely well. The naïve Hua Yingxiong, at thirteen years of age, is engrossed by – dare I say addicted to – tales like the White Bone Spirit which I had grown bored of when I was three! On odd days I tell Journey to the West, and on even days I tell Outlaws of the Marsh. In the beginning, the little guy was a bit afraid and would stay curled in a ball in his chair. But now his eyes shine with interest, and he doesn’t want to leave even late into the night.
And the days would continue on like this if it weren’t for this other shit.
And it really is the heavens taking a shit on me. It all starts from Fu Qingshu.

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