Chapter 16 – Big Boss Tang’s Adventure
April 19. Daybreak.
Pale rays of morning light seeped in through the window, allowing Big Boss Tang to gaze upon Ingot’s face.
He was drunk. Back when he said “I’m not drunk,” he had instantly fallen asleep, and now that he slept, he looked like a child.
He was a child, an intelligent, mischievous, charming, annoying boy, just like a boy she had known when she was young.
She had called that boy “bro,” and he had called her “kid brother.” He really had regarded her as a kid brother. Every day they would go hiking or tree-climbing together. They would curse and fight, ride cows and chase dogs, steal chickens and go fishing.
All the things that adults forbade children to do, he would take her to do. All the tricks that boys played, she had played.
Eventually, she almost forgot that she was a girl.
Then one summer day, he took her to the forest behind the mountain to go splash around in the brook.
It was a hot day, and she wore a thin outfit of woven grass cloth. The water in the brook was cool and refreshing. The two of them had shouted up a storm as they played, until her clothes were soaked through.
The clothes were tight on her body, and the afternoon summer sun shone down on her in its warmth.
She suddenly realized that he wasn’t shouting any more. He was staring at her stupidly with his large eyes.
It was at that moment that he discovered she was definitely not a boy, and furthermore, she had grown up.
She had started to get nervous.
And then she saw something on his body changing, changing in a very scary way. She wanted to run, but her legs had already grown weak.
By the time they returned home that day, the sky was dark, and dinner had long since been eaten.
From that day forward, even though he still called her “little brother,” he never again took her to play like the boys play.
From then on, she was his, all the way to the day that he decided to leave and roam Jianghu. He told her not to play with other boys, to wait for him until he returned.
But he had never returned.
She was seventeen that year, and now she was thirty-four.
In these seventeen years, she had never had a second man. And never had there been a second man who could move her heart.
She had never imagined that after those seemingly endless seventeen years, she would suddenly meet a young man like this, so intelligent, mischievous, charming and annoying.
She felt her heart beating.
Just now when Ingot had embraced her, a familiar heat had flushed her body, the same feeling she had felt on that summer evening.
If Ingot hadn’t fallen asleep drunk, what would have happened?
She didn’t dare think about it.
—How could this little scoundrel act like this? How could he be so pernicious?
Even though it was only April, it seemed to be getting hot. Uncomfortably hot.
She was sweating, sweating uncontrollably.
She couldn’t wait for the little scoundrel to wake up. She couldn’t give him another chance to mess with her, to confuse her, to hurt her.
A woman of her age should not have done something as stupid as this.
She quietly picked up her woven, golden shoes from under the bed, then pushed open the door to leave. But then she walked back quietly and covered Ingot with a thin blanket. Finally, she left.
The dimly lit courtyard outside was cool and humid. Milky, morning fog drifted about. Someone sat on the stone steps of the corridor opposite her, cheek resting on her hand, staring at her.
“Little Cai,” said Big Boss Tang, surprised. “What are you sitting there for? Why aren’t you asleep?”
Little Cai ignored her, instead staring dully at the golden shoes in her hands.
—This young girl was already growing up, and was already at the age where she would have flights of fancy. The more she shouldn’t thing about something, the more she liked to think about it. And she would always thing about the worst things.
Big Boss Tang knew what she was thinking, but couldn’t devise a way to explain herself.
—When a women stays all night in a man’s room, then leaves in the morning, disheveled, carrying her shoes, half drunk…
What would people think? What could she say?
“Go back to your room and go to sleep!” she said, avoiding Little Cai’s eyes. Then in a very level voice she said, “You should have gone to sleep a long time ago.”
“Yes, I should have. And what about you?” She stared at her. “The entire night, you didn’t go back. Why?”
Big Boss Tang couldn’t think of anything to say.
With a cold laugh, Little Cai said: “I advise you to put on your shoes as quickly as possible. Walking barefoot can lead to a cold.”
With that, she stood, turned, and walked off without a backward glance. It seemed as if she had no intention of ever looking at Big Boss Tang again.
There was a chill in the early spring air.
Big Boss Tang stood there stupidly on the stone walkway, feeling cold spread from her feet all the way into her heart.
She hadn’t done anything wrong whatsoever, but she knew that what she had done was broken a young girl’s heart.
Dawn light spread, but the fog did not dissipate.
She let out a deep sigh from her heart, and was about to head back to her bedroom when she suddenly noticed that she was once again not alone in the courtyard. Someone sat on the stone steps in the spot that Little Cai had just vacated, check resting on hand.
The big difference was, it was not a young girl, but an old man.
A weird, little old man.
Big Boss Tang didn’t recognize the little old man, and had never seen someone as weird-looking as him before. She had never imagined she would ever see someone like this.
The little old man was not just extremely old, he was also extremely small. Some parts of him seemed older than anyone else in the world, and some parts smaller.
His head was almost completely bald. Only a few white hairs stuck out of the top of his head, and they looked almost like they had been glued on. Even the strongest wind wouldn’t blow them away.
Almost all of his teeth were gone. From the top of his mouth to the bottom, from left to right, he only had one tooth. But his tooth was not like the usual teeth of old men, dirty and yellow.
His only remaining tooth was bright white, so bright it seemed to glow and shine.
He was truly old, and yet the skin on his face was like that of an infant’s, white and soft. It was a rosy white, and a soft like tofu.
He wore a set of red clothes with gold lining, embroidered with gold flowers. Only nouveau riche playboys on their way to a brothel would wear something like this.
Wouldn’t you agree that an old man such as this is truly incredible?
Big Boss Tang just about laughed.
But she didn’t. Because this courtyard should in no way have a person such as this in it.
And yet, there he was sitting in front of her, looking at her. He gazed at her with a twinkle in his eye, the look you might expect to see on the face of a man who was twenty, or thirty, or forty or maybe fifty years old.
Luckily, Big Boss Tang knew how to keep her cool. She could do it despite being shoeless. So she nodded at him and smiled.
“Hello, how are you?”
“I’m very good,” said the little old man. “Extremely good, good beyond belief.”
“May I ask your honored family name? And what distinguished business brings you here?”
“‘Honored’ is not my family name,” he said. “And I didn’t come here on any distinguished business. What I came here to do is absolutely not distinguished at all.”
“And what is it?”
“Guess.” The little old man gave her a child-like wink. “If you guess right I’ll kowtow to you three thousand six hundred times.”
Big Boss Tang shook her head. “That many kowtows would be too tiring. I don’t need your kowtows, and I have no way to guess what you’re here to do.”
“Of course you can’t guess,” said the little old man with a hearty laugh. “If you spent your whole life you wouldn’t be able to guess correctly.”
“Then why don’t you tell me yourself?”
“If I told you, you wouldn’t believe me.”
“Give it a try.”
“Okay, I will. I’m here because my wife wants to strip off all your clothes and take a close look at you.”
Big Boss Tang laughed.
She should have been angry, but instead she laughed, because she had never in her entire life heard something so absurd and ridiculous.
She had never imagined she would ever hear something like what he’d just said.
The little old man sighed. “I knew you wouldn’t believe me. I knew all along you would refuse to believe.”
After he sighed, he flew into the air, like a child who had been wrenched into the air by an adult. He flipped ceaselessly.
Big Boss Tang was not the type of person who was easy to bully.
A woman who everyone truly believed to be a Big Boss was obviously not the type to be easily bullied.
She practiced martial arts. The martial arts she practiced were sort of a random assortment. Some she had learned after formally being accepted by a master. Some had been taught to her by men who hoped to get close to her, to flatter her. To earn her admiration, they would reveal many of their most treasured secrets.
Flying Blossom Fist, Double Duckweed Palms, Mantis Kung Fu, Flying Phoenix Finger, Greater and Lesser Qinna, Five Animals and Seven Transformations, 36 Path Long Fist, Yellow 72 Path Legs, Chain Locking Legs…
She could do at the very least thirty or forty types of martial arts. But when facing up against this little old man, she couldn’t use any of them.
There was a person in mid-air flipping constantly. But it wasn’t the little old man, it was Big Boss Tang.
She had no idea how she had ended up in the air flipping in circles.
She really didn’t know.
She only knew that as soon as the little old man had landed on the ground, she suddenly felt herself being tossed up.
And then she started spinning, ceaselessly, in mid-air, until everything began to go black.
And then she didn’t know anything at all.
By this time, Ingot had awakened.
He had slept like a rock, so deeply that even if someone had beat him and kicked him and dumped him in the gutter, he still wouldn’t have woken up.
But now he was awake, and as he awoke, he saw the morning sun shining on the window.
He groaned, quickly covering his head with the blanket. Any slower and his eyes would have been stabbed to death by the sunlight, his head split into two pieces.
When someone gets truly drunk for the first time, then awakens to a room full of sunshine, they will usually have a reaction like this.
But, not too long after, Ingot slowly stuck his head out from underneath the blanket.
This was because, before his eyes had been covered by the blanket, he had seen someone else in the room.
A person who was definitely not Big Boss Tang.
He hadn’t been mistaken.
It was a person wearing a black cloak and a glittering silver mask. Despite being in a room filled with sunlight, he seemed to be a shadowy demon.
He wasn’t the kind of person to fear scary people. The more scary the person, the less afraid he would be.
“That’s a great demon mask you have there,” he said. “Could you lend it to me for a day or two? I’d love to go around scaring people.”
“I’m not here to scare you,” said the person in a warm voice. “I know that you’ve been gutsy since you were small.”
“You know who I am?”
Ingot laughed again. “Fortunately, I also know who you are, otherwise I would really be in a predicament.”
“Who am I?”
“You’re Gao Tianjue,” said Ingot. “You’re the person who sapped the power from my limbs, made my whole body weak, then brought me here.”
“Correct,” said Gao Tianjue. “That was me.”
“If you know who I am, how do you dare treat me this way?” Ingot’s voice suddenly became fierce and malicious. “Aren’t you worried my family will come seeking revenge?”
“They won’t come looking for you.”
“Because they know what I did was for your own good. I think you understand that, too.”
“Sadly, I don’t understand.”
“We can never see the light of day, and should have died long ago,” said Gao Tianjue. “We carry with us cruelty and hatred which can never be dispelled.”
Though his voice was mild, it was filled with a hatred which could make one’s hair stand on end: “No matter who runs into us, it’s not a good thing for them, because what we carry with us is murder, disaster and blood.”
“You, plural?” asked Ingot. “Who are you people?”
“Perhaps we are not even people, but rather evil spirits. Therefore, I don’t wish for you to get wrapped up in our grievances and struggles.”
“In other words, you don’t want me to stick my nose where it doesn’t belong.”
“Yes,” said Gao Tianjue. “Because you come from a different background. That is why I brought you here.”
“Otherwise, you’re worried that eventually you would have to chop my head off?”
“I won’t chop your head off,” said Gao Tianjue coolly. “If you want to kill someone, you don’t necessarily need to cut off their head. There are many ways to kill someone, and that is one of the silliest.”
“How do you usually kill people?”
“I use a kind of pain.”
“A kind of pain,” said Ingot. “You cause them pain, or cause pain to yourself?”
Gao Tianjue suddenly grew silent.
“That’s not a good method,” said Ingot. “The person you want to kill is already dead, and not painfully. Therefore, the pain must be yours. Only the living can feel pain.”
Gao Tianjue said nothing, nor did he move. And yet, his cloak billowed violently like turbulent waves of a furious ocean.
Ingot kept talking: “There was a day once when I was really happy. It was like a giant meat bun had fallen from the sky straight into my mouth. I was super happy. And therefore, everyone around me was happy too. Everyone was extremely happy.”
He sighed. “Pain is the same. When you make others feel pain, then you yourself will definitely feel hurt.”
Before he even finished speaking, he felt an ice-cold hand gripping his throat.
By that time, Big Boss Tang had also awakened.
When she opened her eyes, she saw no sunlight, nor did her head hurt. But similar to Ingot, she wished she had never woken up. In fact, she wished she could drop dead and forget everything.