Chapter 344 – What Great Lin, What Law?
Original and most updated translations are from volare. Please don’t read elsewhere and stop supporting theft.
Zhao Qing scoffed, “What a loyal dog!”
Lang Po was enraged, his eyes turning red with anger as he drew his sword and pointed it towards Zhao Qing. The latter was not one to be belittled either – he pushed the tip of Lang Po’s sword away in a smooth motion, even throwing a fist towards Lang Po as he evaded his attack. The two of them were now engaged in battle!
Those bandits knew that their leader was highly skilled; rather than being worried for him, they began to cheer. They were drinking wine while watching the show. Pounding on the tables, banging on the ground with their swords, catcalling… anything they could think of as their emotions ran high!
While all this was happening, Da Chui and Tie San took the opportunity to slip away from the second floor where they were hiding. Tie San prodded Da Chui, “Da Chui, the Second Master’s men are rioting.”
“I know. Let’s escape quickly and return to report to our boss and have him take revenge for us.”
“Mm. We must avenge our fallen brothers. I hope the Second Master’s men kill all those bastards, saving us the trouble of soiling our own hands.”
“Fool. This is our fight – we, the Gaoshan Gang, have to collect our own debts!”
“Yes, yes, yes!” The two of them snuck out without anyone else noticing.
The first floor dining hall.
Zhao Qing and Lang Po were well into their showdown. Zhao Qing was obviously much bulkier than Lang Po was – his blows were much more heavy-handed than his counterpart’s. Lang Po was easily at a disadvantage after exchanging numerous blows. His hand quickly became numb as Zhao Qing targeted his wrist. The sword was snatched away in an instant. Before Lang Po could regain his balance, his own sword was held to his throat. Lang Po’s men rushed forward with their weapons drawn at the ready.
Zhao Qing gestured, threatening to press down harder on Lang Po’s throat, his annoying glee partially hidden by his messy fringe. He called out lazily, “Anyone moves and I’ll kill him!”
Lang Po’s men could only remain where they were, resheathing their weapons.
Zhao Qing warned Lang Po.
“If you want to leave, bring your men with you and scram. I can’t stand subservient dogs like you!”
Lang Po did not back down. He ground his teeth together before spitting out the words.
“If you want to kill me, then do it.”
“Did you think I was a coward?”
“What are you bandits not capable of? But fear not, the government will wipe you out sooner or later.”
Lang Po’s words drew the derisive laughter from the onlookers. It was clear that they had neither respect nor fear for the government.
Zhao Qing snickered, “The government could care less. In these parts, I’m the ruler!”
“Ruler?” A deep voice rumbled from the second-floor stairs.
Everyone’s gaze and attention was drawn to Jing Rong as he made his way downstairs, his icy gaze as cold as usual. His gown, crafted from the best brocades, rustled as he walked, presenting him with a regal air. The bandits looked at each other in bewilderment. Who was this rat? Zhao Qing was unafraid. He met Jing Rong’s eyes, unknowingly staring him down.
Jing Rong used only two fingers to push the sword at Lang Po’s neck away, making it look effortless to everyone watching. Only Zhao Qing could feel the force travelling down the sword and into his own fingers. His grip only loosened a little, before Jing Rong was able to push it out of his hands. The weapon spun a full 180 degrees before landing in front of Lang Po.
“Retreat,” Jing Rong commanded. Only he and Zhao Qing were left facing one another.
The hall fell unnaturally silent.
Jing Rong said, “The only one who can call himself the ‘ruler’ in this world is the ruling Qi Emperor, not you.”
Zhao Qing had no comeback.
“Shanhuai County is not far from the Capital; not sending men to rid the people of malicious bandits doesn’t mean that the government is afraid of you. This area is fraught with hidden dangers. If something goes awry, who will be responsible for the countless innocent civilians living around the Capital and Shanhuai County? But if you harm a single hair on my men today, I can promise you – none of you will leave this place alive.”
If these words came from someone else, the bandits would surely mock him, but Jing Rong was quite different.
Zhao Qing gave him a once-over.
“This one doesn’t understand any of these flowery words. What Great Lin, what law – all these mean nothing here.”
“I will give you five minutes. Leave, and do not disturb others’ peace any longer.”
“And if I were to stay?” How arrogant!
Jing Rong did not pander to him. He scanned the room, then asked, “There are two factions in the Gaoshan Gang – the First Master’s men must vastly outnumber yours, no?”
Hmm? “What are you trying to imply?”
“When your Gaoshan Gang First Master tried to rob a party near the official path today, did he lose thirty to forty men?” Ugh, Jing Rong purposely brought this matter up.
Zhao Qing was not dumb, “So those men were killed by you.”
“Correct. Hence, if I were you, I would leave with my men immediately, lest they end up like those others.”
Zhao Qing’s eyes narrowed. He scoffed.
“Are you threatening me?”
“You can interpret it however you want.”
Zhao Qing threw back his head in laughter before retreating a few steps and picking up a bowl of wine, draining it in one gulp. Crack! He then flung the bowl across the room with all his might and replied with a snort.
“I can’t believe those Gaoshan Gang men have become so useless after only a year under Zhao Huai’s command, even getting thirty to forty men killed by you lot.”
Jing Rong only stared as Zhao Qing pointed towards himself.
“My men are not weaklings like his men are! This place belongs to me; if someone were to leave, it would be you. But now… you won’t be able to.”
Jing Rong spoke calmly, “I have given you your chance.”
“It was me who gave you an opportunity!” Both sides were getting riled up.
Ji Yunshu had stepped out of her room upstairs, watching the entire affair unfold. A bloodbath would be inevitable if this situation was allowed to continue to escalate.
Just then, the innkeeper and his waiter escaped to the second floor. Ji Yunshu spotted them and called out.
“Come over here.”
The innkeeper headed over grudgingly, “Does this young master have any requests?”
“Who are those men?”
“The young master should stop asking questions and hurry inside.” He pushed his voice so low, afraid someone downstairs could hear him.
Ji Yunshu was insistent, asking again.
“Who on earth are they?”
The innkeeper sighed heavily as he explained again.
“Those men are notorious bandits in this region, with many merchants having fallen victim to them these few years. Their dirty deeds have only escalated since then, despite the official path passing through here. They treat my inn as their rest stop, eating and drinking without paying every few days. Because of them, my business has been steadily declining. If this goes on, how am I to feed my family?”
The innkeeper was at a loss!
Everyone: Fight! Fight! Fight!
JYS: … Can’t you guys be reasonable?