DKWSS – Chapter 3

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Chapter 3 – Flowered Flags

Part 1

April 16. Afternoon.

For Song Changsheng, the day started like any other day. But after lunch, something happened that would never again happen in his lifetime.

Song Changsheng owned the only coffin shop in Liu Village. [1]

Perhaps because the residents of Liu Village lived simple lives, and had relatively long life expectancies, business wasn’t very good. Sometimes income wasn’t even enough to cover expenses. Who would have ever thought that he would get some business after lunch?

He sat drowsily behind the counter. The april wind blew in through the window and across his old, languid frame. It seemed as if it were not content.

Even more annoying, just when he fell asleep, he got woken up by a young beggar.

Usually, when beggars came calling, he would at least give them a couple copper coins. But today he didn’t give anything.

Who could have imagined that the beggar would pull out a bunch of silver pieces and hand them over.

It turned out the young beggar hadn’t come to ask for alms.

“I want to buy some coffins. Five of them. Is this enough silver?”

Song Changsheng stared in shock.

To be wrapped in a straw mat after death was usually good enough for a beggar, yet this young beggar wanted, not just a coffin, but five coffins.

Song Changsheng had been in the coffin business for thirty years, and had never encountered a situation as strange as this.

Even more strange, after loading the coffins onto the cart, he traveled with the young beggar outside of the village to a mulberry forest to collect the corpses, except there were no corpses to be seen.

“No corpses? Why did you buy the coffins?”

He wanted to ask this of the young beggar, but he’d already disappeared. And he’d left behind the over twenty pieces of silver he’d paid for the coffins.

You might think the young beggar was playing some kind of practical joke, but the pieces of silver were no joke.

The more Song Changsheng thought about it, the less it made sense.

Even more unimaginable, just when he returned to his shop with the five coffins, another person came looking to buy.

This time, the buyer was another beggar. And he also bought five coffins!

This beggar had a face covered with pockmarks, and looked much fiercer than the earlier young beggar.

Song Changsheng didn’t dare to ask any questions other than, “The deceased you intend to place in the coffins, where are they? Where shall I send coffins to?”

With an expressionless face, the pockmarked beggar said, “That’s a secret. A secret worth your life.” His manner of speaking solemn, he continued, “If you knew who the deceased are, I’m afraid you wouldn’t live another day.”

With that, he procured his own cart to take the coffins away. Song Changsheng was so scared he couldn’t speak.

***

He couldn’t sleep the whole night.

Part 2

The young beggar was as confused as Song Changsheng as to why the corpses by the mulberry forest suddenly disappeared.

When he’d left, they were there. And they were definitely dead.

Goiter-man had put every last drop of power into his fist, apparently expecting to die together with the young beggar. So when his attack hit the tree, he’d dropped dead.

The other four corpses were already growing cold.

Before leaving, the young beggar examined the bodies closely.

He didn’t really want to buy coffins for them.

They’d tried to steal his money and kill him, and it wasn’t easy to get silver. He’d prefer to spend silver on sweets, bread, alcohol and meat. Or maybe put into the the gong of the girl with the braids and long legs.

But he still went to buy the coffins.

If one wants to live, it’s hard to avoid situations where you have to do something you don’t really want to.

***

It was impossible for the young beggar to guess who had taken away the corpses. And even more impossible for him to know that the pockmarked beggar went to Song Changsheng to buy five coffins.

He just wanted to get away from this place as quickly as possible.

By dusk, he’d reached Jinan. After wandering around for a while, he caught sight of Wu Tao.

It seemed these two had some sort of predestined connection.

***

Part 3

The corpses in the mulberry forest had been taken away by the man in the bluish-green clothing.

That happened when the young beggar went to buy the coffins.

The man in bluish-green had of course not truly let the young beggar go free. He had continued to follow him, just hadn’t made any move on him.

When the young beggar returned and found the bodies missing, he didn’t go looking for them.

By purchasing coffins for them, he’d done all that he could. He didn’t care who took the bodies away; it didn’t have anything to do with him, and he’d lost interest in the matter.

But the man in bluish-green found the five bodies extremely interesting. He called his subordinate to go purchase the five coffins and place the bodies inside. And then he let the young beggar go.

What did these five people have to do with him? Why would he take care of their bodies? Why did he suddenly let the young beggar go?

His subordinates didn’t dare to ask any questions, and he didn’t plan to explain anything to them. He just gave a simple order.

“No matter where you see that kid in the future, don’t do anything to him.” He had a very serious expression on his pale face. “Now get these coffins to Jinan, immediately.”

***

By the time the young beggar saw Wu Tao, the coffins had already entered the city.

Part 4

Night. For most people, it was quite different than most other nights. The business situation in Jinan was desolate. Many big shops that normally were quite successful, had long since closed their doors. Even customers that had made appointments days in advance were turned away.

Even two families who had reserved rooms for weddings at the “Great Three Yuan” restaurant had to find different locations.

No one knew why this was happening. The managers and clerks kept their lips sealed.

The only clue available was that all of the businesses were owned by the famous multi-millionaire Sun Jicheng. That, and strapping men on fine horses were constantly speeding in and out of his tightly guarded mansion.

***

When the young beggar caught sight of Wu Tao, he sat in an average sized eatery, looking a little depressed. Two dishes of fine food sat in front of him, as well as a cup of alcohol, none of which had he touched.

The young beggar stood in the street across from him, just looking at him, for quite some time. After a while, he decided to join him, try to cheer him up, and of course at the same time help himself to some of the food and alcohol.

Unfortunately, the sharp-faced man didn’t seem to appreciate his intentions, and in fact completely ignored him. It was as if he didn’t even see him standing there.

The young beggar laughed, showing off his dimples.

He was not the type of person to give up easily on the chance to have some good food and alcohol.
Even though this old fellow was stingy to death, the young beggar was confident he had a way to deal with him.

So he sat down in front of the man and said, “Did you lose your coin purse?”

He’d thought for a while about what to say, and knew that with this sentence, Wu Tao wouldn’t be able to ignore him any longer.

And of course Wu Tao fell right into his trap. He suddenly looked up and asked, “How do you know I lost my coin purse?”

“Of course I know.” Then he retorted, “Do you want me to get it back for you?”

As he spoke, he grabbed some chopsticks from the bamboo tube on the table and helped himself to the platter of pig ears and offal. [2]

Wu Tao watched him eat.

The money in the coin purse was enough to buy a whole pig.

“You can really get it back for me?”

“Absolutely. No joke.“

“When can you get it back?”

“Right now,” he said. “I can get it back immediately.”

By this time, he had already half finished the platter of Mushu pork and fried bread.

“Okay, where is it?” asked Wu Tao eagerly.

“Right here.” The young beggar continued to eat with his right hand, and pulled out the coin purse with his left. “Is this it?”

“That’s right, it’s mine.”

The coin purse was his, but sadly, it had no money in it.

“It used to have twenty three silver and change in it.”

“I know,” said the young beggar, eating even more quickly. “I promised to get the coin purse back, I never said anything about the money inside.”

“What happened to it?”

“I spent it all.” Before Wu Tao could get angry, the young beggar continued, “I’ll make a bet with you that you can’t guess what I spent it on.”

With the silver gone, there was no point in getting angry. Wu Tao just shook his head and sighed. “You could live for a month on twenty three silver. How did you possibly spend it all at once?”

“I bought something.”

“What did you buy?”

“I bought five coffins.”

Wu Tao couldn’t even heave a sigh if he wanted to. He stared at the young beggar in shock, wearing the same expression on his face that he might wear if he suddenly stepped into a pile of dog poop.

“Why did you buy coffins?” he blurted.

“I wanted to help you do something good with your silver,” replied the young beggar. “I just happened to see five dead people on the road. So I bought coffins for them and at the same time helped you build up some good karma.”

The young beggar sighed. “These kinds of opportunities don’t come along very often. You’re really lucky to have suddenly have such a chance.”

Wu Tao stared at him, gaping, not sure whether to laugh, or cry, or bite the kid.

After a while, he laughed bitterly. “When you put it that way,” he said, “it seems I’m actually really f*cking lucky.”

It turned out the man could curse.

The young beggar laughed.

“I knew you were the kind of person who can tell the difference between good and bad.” The young beggar was purposely trying to get under his skin. “If another opportunity like that comes along, I’ll do the same thing again.”

It seemed like he was trying to drive the man crazy.

Wu Tao stared at him for a while, then suddenly slapped his palm down onto the table. “Bring alcohol,” he called loudly to the waiter. “I want twenty pounds of your finest cabbage and five appetizer dishes, the finest type, nothing cheap.”

The young beggar was shocked.

The stingy old man must have gone crazy, otherwise why would he suddenly become so generous and extravagant?

When the alcohol came, Wu Tao, drank three cups in a row, then put the cup down and let out three laughs. He slapped himself on the chest and called out, “I’m happy! It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to drink so happily!”

He poured a cup for the young beggar. “Come, drink with me,” he said. “Whatever you feel like eating, just order it. Today we’re going to eat to our hearts’ content.”

The little beggar picked up the cup and poured the alcohol into his mouth.

When crazy people say crazy things, it is best to just go along with the, lest you earn yourself a beating.

After drinking three more cups, Wu Tao asked, “Do you know why I’m so happy today?”

“I don’t know.”

“Because of you.” Wu Tao laughed heartily. “You’ve made me happy. I’ve never before met a little bastard like you.”

The young beggar also laughed heartily. “There aren’t many little bastards like me.”

At this point, he could see that the old man wasn’t crazy. No, his everyday life was just too restrictive, disciplined and rigid. Now that he had the opportunity, he wanted to relax and enjoy a bit of happiness.

Wu Tao drank another cup, and then suddenly slapped the table again. “Those bastards really are good-for-nothing,” he said. “If it weren’t for you, I would have been so pissed off by them I wouldn’t have been able to sleep tonight.”

“What bastards are you talking about?”

“Those sons of b*tches from the old Xiang Tai Chou Silk factory,” said Wu Tao angrily. “I made an order of Shandong silk from them a long time ago, and the delivery date was today. I even paid for it already. But they weren’t open today. Not even a single person was there. I called out until my throat was sore, but nobody showed up.”

The young beggar slapped the table. “Those bastards really are bastards. Forget about them. Come on, let’s drink.”

“Right!” said Wu Tao, looking happy again. “Forget them. Let’s drink.”

Unfortunately, his alcohol tolerance wasn’t very good. After drinking two more cups, his tongue began to swell, and his face looked redder than a monkey’s ass. When he spoke, it sounded like he had an egg in his mouth.

But it seemed his head was still quite clear. “My surname is Wu,” he said to the young beggar. “I’m called Wu Tao. What’s your name?”

“I’m called Ingot,” said the young beggar. “You know, everyone likes ingots.” [3]

“Ingot.” Wu Tao laughed. “That’s a really f*cking good name!”

Part 5

By this time, the man in the bluish-green garment had arrived in Jinan.

The two coffins were being pulled along on two flat carts, not by pack animals, but by people.

Disciples of the Beggar Sect did not use horses or carts or sedan chairs. No matter what the endeavor, they relied only on themselves. They sweated their own sweat, used their own energy.

The pockmarked beggar and the crippled beggar pushed the carts, and the man in bluish-green walked slowly behind them, his hollow eyes staring off into the distance. Though he walked behind them, it seemed as if his heart were in another world, a world no one had ever entered except he himself.

They walked down a gloomy, remote road.

Even though the moon was full this night, it’s light did not shine on this place. The rickety carts creaked under the weight of the coffins. Soot along with the stench of garbage filled the air, and the face of the man in bluish green appeared even more frightening.

Where was he taking the coffins? And what did he plan to do with them?

No one knew, and no one dared to ask.

The cart wheels rolled along in the ash, and the beggars pushing the carts dripped with sweat in the cold wind.

Suddenly, seven or eight spears stabbed out from the darkness, jamming the wheels of the carts. Several large men in fancy costumes leaped out, surrounding them. Each and every one of them appeared to be extremely quick and agile, and their drawn swords glittered dazzlingly.

Because of his slow pace, the man in bluish-green was now cut off from the carts. Pockmark’s face changed; it seemed almost as if the pock marks on his face had begun to glow.

But he remained motionless.

He could see that what was truly frightening was not these men. As far as he was concerned, even combined, the sharp swords in the hands of these nine or ten men could not compare to the cup of alcohol in the hands of another man.

This man sat in a red sandalwood chair, and was being pushed forward by another man.

The wood chair had two wheels; the man held a cup of alcohol in his hand.

Arriving in this fashion, it looked almost like he had made a special trip here just to drink. He didn’t seem interested in anything at all other than the alcohol.

Someone else stood next to him, a person who seemed to be his diametric opposite.

Wearing resplendent garments and a smiling, indolent expression, he looked like a javelin, ready at any moment to shoot forth and stab you through the heart.

He stopped in front of the cart. “I’m surnamed Lian,” he said coldly. “Lian Gen. These are my men, and they are ready to die for me at a moment’s notice.”

He spoke in a direct and succinct manner, somewhat aggressive: “Therefore, you, too, can die for me at a moment’s notice.”

Pockmarks laughed. “Fortunately, we neither wish others to die, nor ourselves. We’re just two poor beggars.”

“I can see that.”

“We don’t have any money, and there’s nothing valuable on our carts, just five coffins. There are no treasures inside the coffins, just some corpses.”

“I just want to borrow some things for a while, to look at.”

“What do we have that we could lend you?”

“Coffins,” said Lian Gen. “Those five coffins you have there on your carts.”

“You think these coffins are good-looking?”

“No, they aren’t. And neither are the corpses. But I don’t need to look at anything good-looking. Things that don’t look good, however, I must examine.”

“You must?”

“Absolutely!”

“Are you sure?”

“Completely,” said Lian Gen sternly. “Even if your Beggar Sect leader Lord Xiao were here, I would still be forced to take a look.”

Pockmarks sighed. “Then you might as well ask these men to die for you right now!”

Lian Gen’s face twisted and he slowly lifted up his hand. Then his hand shot backwards, snatching the steel sword out of the hand of one of his men. He twisted the sword in his hands and it snapped in two.

Finally, the man in the wheelchair spoke up. “Very good kung fu. Very good.” He smiled. “Even Huainan’s Eagle King Clan doesn’t have anyone who can compare to you.” [4]

“Of course no one can compare to me.”

Gripping the broken end of the sword between two fingers, he waved his hand. Light flashed, and a thud sounded out as the sword fragment pierced into one of the coffins.

Pockmark’s facial expression changed. “Thankfully,” he said coolly, “the person in that coffin is already dead. Stabbing him a few more times won’t hurt.”

“He’s dead, but you’re not.”

Lian Gen still had half a sword in his hand. “This, I’m saving for you.”

As soon as he finished speaking, another person suddenly appeared between the two of them.

A man in bluish-green clothing, his face pale. It was as if he had just blown in on the wind.

Lian Gen took a step backwards. “Who are you?” he asked angrily.

It seemed as if the man in bluish-green didn’t hear him, or even see him. From within his garment, he pulled out a handful of flags, very small flags, attached to a black iron flagpoles about six or seven inches long each.

—Were these little flags some kind of deadly weapon?

Even as he gripped the sword, Lian Gen’s hand began to sweat. Everyone’s hands began to sweat.

They all could see that the man in bluish-green could kill people with anything, even a twig.

But he didn’t kill anyone.

He just stuck the flags onto the coffins.

Five coffins. Five flags.

After sticking the flags into the coffins, he began to walk off. Pockmarks and Cripple followed him, leaving behind the coffins that they moments ago had been willing to die to defend.

The sword-wielding men immediately stepped aside to let them leave.

They’d come only for the coffins. As long as the coffins stayed, they wouldn’t look to cause any trouble. The sooner they could accomplish their task, the sooner they could return, have a drink, take a shower and sleep. At the last, that was better than risking their lives on a dark, remote road.

Who could have predicted that the beggars would leave? But they did, and left behind were five flags, stuck into five coffins.

Why would they do this?

No one could figure it out, nor did they think about it closely.

On the long, dark path, underneath the pale moonlight, amidst the cold wind, Lian Gen suddenly waved his hand.

“Let’s go!” he said. “Take the coffins and go.”

Four of the big men sheathed their swords and rushed forward to push the carts. However, after taking only two steps, they suddenly stopped. It was as if some unspeakable magic had stopped them, as if some invisible magical force had used eight invisible nails to affix them to the ground. They didn’t move in the slightest.

They eyes of all four of the men stared at exactly the same thing.

At the flags.

Just now, a gust of wind had blown down the path and unfurled the flags from their small flagpoles. The flags fluttered in the wind; embroidered upon them were countless colorful flowers that appeared even more vibrant in the white moonlight.

After a long moment, the four men could finally move again; but they did not move forward, they moved backward.

Furious, Lian Gen blurred into motion.

He had always managed his subordinates with military discipline; never before had they defied his orders.

Several claps rang out in succession, and the faces of the four men began to swell and grow red.

They dared not resist, nor evade. They had utmost fear and respect for Lian Gen.

And yet they could not make themselves even touch the coffins.

Lian Gen’s iron palm once again stretched out, grabbing hold of the arm of one of the men; no matter how thick and strong the arm, it would be as brittle as charcoal in his hand.

He never issued an order a second time, and he had determined to prove so through his actions.

The sound of bone snapping in the cold wind was nothing but blood-chilling. The man whose arm had been broken screamed shrilly like a wolf.

Lian Gen glared sharply at the other men. One word at a time, he said, “Is anyone going to move these coffins?

***

No one stepped forth.

Not even one.

The man in the wheelchair finally put down his cup and let out a very long sigh. “It’s useless,” he said. “Even killing them would do nothing. None of them will dare to move the coffins.”

Lian Gen turned his head, his eyes furious. “Why?”

“Because of the flags. For thirty years, no one within four hundred kilometers of Jinan Prefecture has dared to move the flags of Old Master Tian.”

Lian Gen laughed.

“What happens if you move them?”

“I don’t know,” said the man in the wheelchair. “Why don’t you try and see?”

The veins on his forehead bulging, Lian Gen said, “That’s what I’m doing right now.”

***

The carts still lay on the road; the coffins still lay on the carts.

Lian Gen walked forward slowly, the veins on the backs of his hands bulging out like vipers.

And then he actually stretched out his hand to grab one of the flags.

With his kung fu, and the superhuman power of his iron palms, even were they large trees, he should still be able to pull them out.

And yet, he couldn’t lift out these little flags.

Even as his had began to stretch out, an emaciated old man appeared in front of him. He wore black clothing, and had a head as bald as a condor. His hand, as skinny as a chicken’s foot, shot out like lightning and gripped Lian Gen’s hand.

Lian Gen’s face twisted, and though he still stood there javelin straight, beads of sweat flowed down his face like yellow soybeans.

The bald-headed man looked at him indifferently, then asked, “Are you Sun Jicheng’s chief steward, the man called “Superhuman Eagle King?”

“Yes, I am,” said Lian Gen, his voice hoarse and filled with pain. “I am Lian Gen.”

“Then you’re mistaken,” said the old man. “There are two areas in which you are mistaken.”

“Oh?”

“First, you should not have tried to move the flags.”

“And second?”

“Second, you think too much of your kung fu. It is a far cry from that of the Huainan Eagle King Clan’s.”

As soon as he finished speaking, the sound of shattering bones could be heard in the cold wind.

Lian Gen let out a wretched cry, and then shot away like a javelin into the night.

His men followed as fast as possible, leaving behind the man in the wheelchair. He smiled and clapped his hands. “Of the Three Kings of Huainan, Old Wang is the most powerful.” True admiration filled his voice. “Old Mr. Wang’s Divine Eagle Claw truly is extraordinary.”

“Extraordinary, extraordinary.” The voice of another person rang out on the dark path. He too applauded. “I never thought that ‘Great Three Yuan’ restaurant’s general manager Mr. Zheng would have such keen eyesight. With one glance he identified old uncle Wang’s kung fu. That is truly extraordinary.”

***

This man was not old. Big and tall, he was also not young, but when he smiled he looked like a child.

He couldn’t count as good-looking. He had small eyes, a big mouth, a flat nose and a round face; when he smiled, his eyes disappeared. And yet, he couldn’t count as ugly either.

He too sat in a well-decorated wheelchair like Zheng Nanyuan’s [5]. He turned the wheels himself to push the chair forward.

General manager Zheng Nanyuan laughed. “So it’s Young Master Tian.” He clasped his hands in front of himself and gave a bow. “Greetings, Young Master.”

“General Manager Zheng, greetings.”

“Why is Young Master also using a wheelchair?”

“I’m imitating you,” he said, coming to rest next to the flags. “I’ve always wanted to have a wheelchair like this.”

“But, just two days ago you were as vigorous as a tiger or dragon. You could leap up the twenty or so stairs of the restaurant in just three steps.”

“My legs are as good as ever. Otherwise, how could the Old Master continue to call me Frogboy.” [6]

“Then why are you using a wheelchair?” Zheng Nanyuan asked again.

“Because I’m lazy,” replied Frogboy. “I think using energy to walk is really a horrible waste.”

Zheng Nanyuan laughed heartily. Both of them laughed.

“General Manager Zheng, don’t tell me you are also here for our five guests.”

“Guests? Which five guests?”

“Whoever the Old Master gives his flags to are our guests, regardless of whether they are dead or alive.” With a smile, Frogboy asked: “Would you mind allowing us to take them away?”

“Please do.”

Zheng Nanyuan immediately turned his wheelchair around to leave.

He was a sensible person, so he decided to leave immediately so as not to block the way of Young Master Tian.

He never imagined that Old Mr. Wang would call out, “Wait a moment!”

Zheng Nanyuan turned around and found Mr. Wang’s renowned Eagle Claws at his throat.

His two hands had just shattered Lian Gen’s iron palms with minimal effort; they could obviously pierce anyone’s throat.

Zheng Nanyuan didn’t even blink. “What is it,” he said calmly.

“Do you know who the people are in the coffin?”

“No.”

“Then why do you want them?”

“Because something happened last night at the residence of our Big Boss. Therefore, anyone who enters Jinan Prefecture today must be checked out, regardless of whether they are alive or dead.”

Part 6

By this time, Wu Tao was already drunk, really drunk, passed out like a grub on the table of the small eatery.

The young beggar called “Ingot” sat across from him staring at him, not sure whether he himself was drunk or not.

—In situations like this, for people who were in Jinan for the first time that night, perhaps being drunk was for the best.

Part 7

Everywhere could be seen huge stacks of lumber, shipped in from a multitude of locations. The fragrance of sawdust filled the air.

Everyone within 400 kilometers knew that no bigger lumber yard existed than “Forest Memory.” But few people knew it also acted as a subsidiary outpost for disciples of the Flowered Flag.

Behind the main square, which was piled full of lumber, could be found a large, spacious woodshed. The rickety carts hard already been disposed of, and now the five coffins lay inside the woodshed.

On a long table nailed together from wood planks, a lamp flickered over a tray of meat, a jug of alcohol, and three sets of cups and chopsticks. But only two people sat there.

Condor Wang stared with eagle-like sharpness at Frogboy, who sat across from him.

“Do you really believe that that guy surnamed Zheng is just the general manager of a restaurant?”

“Nope.”

“Then you shouldn’t have let him leave.”

“What would you do if he stayed?” said Frogboy with a smile. “Invite him here to drink?”

“At the least, I could test out my kung fu.”

“There’s no need to try,” he replied resolutely. “His kung fu is definitely no worse than ours.”

The Condor said nothing more. Suddenly his pupils dilated, and then he flipped into the air like a bird. One hand protecting his chest, he shot out the window.

There was no one outside the window.

The person who had been outside had already floated in. A face as a pale as a corpse’s, seemingly forever staring at a distant pair of eyes, a set of bluish-green clothing washed so thoroughly it had begun to fade. And a sleeve tucked into his waist.

Frogboy looked at him, and then looked at the coffins. With a shake of his head and a bitter laugh, he said, “Why do you always make deliveries like this to us?”

“Why don’t you ever ask someone else to?” retorted the man in bluish-green. “And why didn’t you ask those people why they were interested in the five coffins?”

“I did ask. He just said that something strange occurred last night in their Big Boss’s home.”

“Why didn’t you ask about the details of this strange occurrence?”

“I don’t need to ask, because I already know. Three people died there last night.”

“Which three people?”

“One was their chief guard Que Budao. Another was the middle-aged former imperial maid with incredible tailoring skills, Liu Jin’niang. And the other was none other than their Big Boss, Sun Jicheng.”

“Sun Jicheng is dead?” said the man in bluish-green, sounding surprised. “How could he be dead?”

“They say that he fell under Qiu Budao’s Divine Shaolin Palm. One fatal strike.”

“And Qiu Budao?”

“He died after drinking a cup of poisoned alochol,” said Frogboy. “Apparently it contained so much poison it could kill an entire barracks worth of troops.”

“And who poisoned the wine?”

“Perhaps Sun Jicheng. Perhaps Liu Jin’niang. Perhaps Qiu Budao himself. They all had reason to poison the wine. As for what really happened, I’m afraid only heaven knows.”

The man in the bluish-green garment sat silently in thought.

The Condor had returned to stand next to him, staring with his sharp, eagle eyes at the vital point on the back of the man’s head, his hands pulsing with Qi.

It seemed as if the man in bluish-green hadn’t noticed. After a long time, he asked, “Where did they die?”

“They died in Sun Jicheng’s secret cellar.”

“Did anyone else know about the cellar?”

“Nope.”

“So, therefore, no one else could have poisoned the alcohol?”

“Correct.”

Frogboy added some more information: “The secret cellar is attached to his room. Last night, some of the guards on watch saw Sun Jicheng and Qiu Budao enter together. Afterwards, no one came out.”

A sharp light suddenly shone in the eyes of the man in bluish-green.

“In these circumstances, there is only one explanation for their deaths. A crime of passion, in which everyone perished.”

“That’s what I was thinking,” said Frogboy. “That’s what everyone is thinking.”

“Given that they killed themselves, and there seems to be no other assailant, why are Sun Jicheng’s subordinates investigating strangers who are in Jinan for the first time? Even corpses? Could it be that there is some other secret to be uncovered?”

***

That question pierced to the very heart of the matter, hitting the sweet spot. [7]

**

[1] The characters that make up his name Changsheng literally mean “long life” or “longevity.” For a coffin-maker to have this name seems a bit ironic, doesn’t it? Haha.
[2] Literally it says the platter of “pig ears and pig hearts and pig intestines and pig stomach and pig liver.
[3] I debated a lot about how to translate this. This is not his real name, it’s just an alias/nickname, so I opted not to transliterate it as Yuan Bao. This is not a situation like in Milford’s Deer and the Cauldron translation where I am taking a person’s name and giving it a meaning. In this case, based on the way it is used and how he came up with the name, using “Ingot” is the best choice.
[4] Huainan is basically modern-day central Anhui province. http://tinyurl.com/mbbj5hy
[5] Zheng Nanyuan’s name in Chinese is 郑南园 zhèng nán yuán
[6] His nickname is very clever. His family name is 田, which literally also means field. When you add the character 鸡 or chicken, after that, it means frog. Another character 仔, is often translated into English as boy. I’ll always remember the apocryphal story of a Korean who moved to China, and kept eating “田鸡,” thinking that it was organic chicken, only to find out later (in horror) that it was actually frog. In any case, I know the name sounds kind of silly in English, but I think this is the best way to translate it in English. It sounds kind of silly in Chinese too. Also, Old Master Tian is clearly his father.
[7] In this sentence he makes a play on words that I don’t think can be translated into English. The original saying is “to hit a snake seven inches deep,” which means to hit a tender or important spot. Gu Long’s sentence was, “That question pierced to the very heart of the mater, just like a sharp knife piercing seven inches into the snake.” I decided to substitute for a relatively common English expression with similar meaning, considering the original has no meaning to native English speakers.


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5 thoughts on “DKWSS – Chapter 3” - NO SPOILERS

  1. “—>They<— eyes of all four of the men stared at exactly the same thing."

    Typo? should it be "the"

    at the part where the flags that the beggar elder put down block the men

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