Let Go of that Shou Chapter 2

Chapter 2

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During the descent from the mountain, Yu Changqing walked swiftly, leaving behind a considerable distance from You Mengzhe. You Mengzhe had lived a leisurely life for over a decade. How could he keep up with Yu Changqing’s pace? Yu Changqing walked intermittently. Before long, the sky had turned completely dark, and he had to spend the night at the foot of Yuheng Mountain.

Yu Changqing lit a fire. The summer night sky was filled with countless stars, and the sounds of insects chirping were incessant. The two of them rested in the mountainside by the fire.

You Mengzhe took off his boots, his feet blistered from the journey, he couldn’t help but complain.

Yu Changqing chuckled, “We can buy a horse after descending the mountain, then your
Gold Leaves will come in handy.”

You Mengzhe asked, “Brother Yu, you’re chasing after a thief, why didn’t you buy a horse? Did you run all the way here?”

Yu Changqing replied, “The pay of a tracker is meager; I can’t afford a good horse.”

You Mengzhe had never really considered money matters and casually said, “I’ll buy you a horse when we reach the bottom of the mountain tomorrow.”

Yu Changqing responded, “I appreciate the kind gesture. A fast horse is useful, but walking still requires practice. I need to train my Qigong as well.”

Suddenly, You Mengzhe thought of something and asked, “I’ve heard that those who wander the Jianghu have nicknames. What’s your nickname, Brother Yu?”

Yu Changqing sneered, “I’m not a Jianghu person, so I don’t have a self-given nickname. However, the Jianghu folks have bestowed upon me the alias ‘A Wanderer for Thousands of Miles’.”

You Mengzhe seemed to understand but not fully, so he nodded, and they went to sleep.

You Mengzhe couldn’t sleep well. He was swatting at mosquitoes and had the idea to take advantage of the night to cultivate a closer relationship with Yu Changqing. However, considering Yu Changqing’s skills and his own inadequacy, he hesitated. The “Transmuting Yang Heart Technique” required a partner… just one partner.

If he could find a skilled partner to cultivate with, he would gain martial arts skills. Then, he could easily deal with any challenges that came his way.

The challenge lay in finding that initial partner, and as the saying goes, the first step is the hardest.

“Brother Yu,” You Mengzhe decided to approach Yu Changqing emotionally and logically, asking, “Are you married?”

Yu Changqing lay on his arm, his legs crossed, smiling as he replied, “I got married two years ago.”

You Mengzhe nodded. Although he had spent most of his life secluded in the mountains, he understood the basics of love and marriage in the world. He realized that Yu Changqing’s hesitation to engage in a closer relationship might be due to his recent marriage.

You Mengzhe asked, “Do you have children? Do you miss them?”

Yu Changqing answered, “I have no children.”

You Mengzhe said, “We can address each other on equal terms since we’re close in age. You don’t have to keep saying ‘Brother’, ‘Brother.’ Why don’t you have children?”

Note: Whenever Yu Chanqing refers to himself, he always say “brother” in Chinese term but i just translated them to casual “I”

Yu Changqing smiled to himself and didn’t answer.

“Not having children is often predestined,” Yu Changqing casually remarked. “Forcing it won’t change the outcome.”

You Mengzhe thought he might be onto something. He continued, “Do you have siblings?”

Yu Changqing shook his head and looked at You Mengzhe with a smile, saying, “And what about you?”

You Mengzhe shook his head, saying, “I’m an only child, I’ve always been alone.”

Yu Changqing nodded and said, “I’m also an only child. My family has an elderly mother in her eighties.”

You Mengzhe moved closer. Yu Changqing was lying down, and You Mengzhe sat beside him, holding his knees and inquired, “Brother Yu, why haven’t you taken concubines?”

Yu Changqing chuckled, “I can’t even handle my legal wife, let alone deal with additional matters.”

As You Mengzhe listened, he sensed that Yu Changqing’s words carried deeper meaning. Curious, he asked, “Is your wife fierce?”

Yu Changqing laughed off the question. You Mengzhe continued, “What’s it like on the wedding night?”

Yu Changqing smiled mischievously, “You’ll understand when you get married.”

This response was exactly what You Mengzhe wanted. He continued probing, asking about various intimate matters, one hand wandering over Yu Changqing’s chest and abdomen. You Mengzhe wasn’t sure why he had these thoughts, but he couldn’t help himself from touching, teasing, and even wanting to get closer to Yu Changqing.

You Mengzhe asked, “How did you meet sister-in-law (your wife)?”

Yu Changqing replied, “When the time came, we naturally met.”

You Mengzhe inquired, “What should one do on the wedding night?”

Yu Changqing smiled, “Hasn’t your father taught you about this? Young brother, no touching or grabbing. What do you want to do?”

You Mengzhe’s hand was on Yu Changqing’s chest and waist, gently touching his nipple through the clothing. Yu Changqing’s uniform was thin, and his masculine physique was imposing. Seeing Yu Changqing’s lack of response, You Mengzhe’s audacity grew. Yu Changqing chuckled, capturing You Mengzhe’s hand that was teasing his waist, and said, “Lie down, don’t move.”

Yu Changqing extended his hand, inviting You Mengzhe to rest his head on it. They lay side by side on the grass.

“Venturing into the Jianghu when you’re young is good,” Yu Changqing said solemnly. “When I was sixteen and skilled in martial arts, I left my master’s sect to travel the mountains and rivers. But, little brother, you must remember, not everyone you meet by chance will treat you kindly. When encountering Jianghu people on the road, you must not be disrespectful.”

You Mengzhe looked at Yu Changqing sideways, seemingly comprehending but not fully. He rested his head on Yu Changqing’s powerful left arm as they gazed at the late summer night sky, filled with the Milky Way and countless stars.

“Why are you so polite to me?” You Mengzhe asked curiously.

Yu Changqing chuckled, “I find you quite interesting. Anyway, let’s not talk about that. Let’s rest. We have a long journey ahead tomorrow.”

You Mengzhe was descending the mountain alone for the first time. He knew nothing about the dangers of the Jianghu, but even encountering a stranger in the remote mountains seemed more interesting than the people he knew on the mountain.

The next morning, the dew was heavy, and the mist hung over the mountains. Yu Changqing and You Mengzhe rose early. Yu Changqing led You Mengzhe down the mountain, crossing the river at the ferry crossing. For You Mengzhe, it was his first time seeing this vast land and the rolling river.

From the inn, to the ferry crossing, to the riverbanks, and the boatmen, every scene held a captivating charm in his eyes.

The cold river’s water flowed just as it had for countless ages, surging and rushing towards the east in tumultuous waves. The boats by the riverbank had stopped at the ferry crossing, amidst a bustling crowd of people. Upon boarding the boat, You Mengzhe looked around eagerly, but Yu Changqing placed his hand on his shoulder and led him to the side, gesturing for him to stay put.

The boat was filled with people from all walks of life, packed tightly together. There were porters carrying goods, women holding children, and several martial artists from different regions, each wearing a bamboo hat and engaging in conversations with folded arms.

The boatman sang out his signal, and the ferry began its journey across the river. Suddenly, a man dressed in gray leapt down from a hill between the morning mist-covered mountains and called out, “Wait!”

However, that person had arrived too late and missed the boat, so he had to wait for the next ferry.

In the distance, a few Jianghu travelers were quietly discussing something. They turned their gazes toward You Mengzhe. One of them seemed inclined to approach him, but his companion whispered a few words to him, indicating that someone was standing beside You Mengzhe.

Several of them cast unfriendly glances from under their bamboo hats, but their hostile intentions were subdued due to the presence of Yu Changqing by You Mengzhe’s side, deterring any reckless actions.

Yu Changqing remained composed and glanced over at the side of the boat.

As the great river flowed eastward, water birds cried out. The boundless sky and earth stretched before them. You Mengzhe stood at the bow of the boat, gazing at the expanse of water and sky, his heart filled with an indescribable sentiment.

“Have you been to Jiangzhou before?” You Mengzhe asked.

Yu Changqing replied, “I’ve been there at least five or six times. Throughout history, Jiangzhou has been a major center for taxation in the Central Plains. During the four hundred years of the Daqing Dynasty, it was the most important tax collection point. In the past, during the rebellion of the provincial officials, Empress Fang’s blood flowed in the capital city. Emperor Chengzu and General Ying fled the capital overnight and resisted the Xiongnu army at Feng Pass in the western Sichuan. Later, in Jiangzhou, they gathered a force of fifty thousand Black Armor troops, recapturing the capital and restoring the Daqing Dynasty’s power.”

You Mengzhe nodded slowly, captivated by the description and couldn’t help but imagine the grand scenes of four centuries ago.

“Do the Black Armor troops still exist now?” You Mengzhe had read some history books in the library of Yuheng Mountain.

Yu Changqing replied, “They’ve been disbanded. Jiangzhou men have always been known for their valor. When you enter the city, observe more, listen more, and speak less. Don’t stir up trouble.”

You Mengzhe acknowledged the advice. As the ferry reached the shore, the crowd disembarked in a bustling manner. At the northern crossing point, more people surged forward, creating a chaotic scene. In the midst of this, Yu Changqing called out, “Mengzhe!”

Amid the crowded chaos, You Mengzhe was jostled around, his buttocks were pinched, prompting him to let out a loud shout. When he turned around, he saw a ragged and dirt-covered beggar boy. This young beggar was of similar stature but half a head taller, and he gave You Mengzhe a sly wink before cheerfully boarding the ferry.

Confused, You Mengzhe was approached by Yu Changqing, who asked, “Did you get squished?”

You Mengzhe patted his bundle, making sure everything was intact, and waved his hand, saying, “I’m fine.”

Led by Yu Changqing, they entered the city of Jiangzhou. Over the course of ten miles, the bustling and prosperous city of Hanjiang unfolded before them. Since the era when the Black Armor War God Han Canghai held sway over Jiangzhou, this place had transformed into the largest city in the southern Central Plains. The city spanned both the east and west sides, with markets extending for miles. The eastern market specialized in trading goods from all over the realm, from massive southern wild elephants to tiny cricket containers. From the coral of the East Sea to the red wine of the Western Regions, from the antlers of the northern frontier to the pearls of the southern swamps, everything imaginable was available.

There were maids who sold themselves to bury their fathers, as well as men who broke bricks with their foreheads. It was a place where you could find anything and everything.

You Mengzhe felt dizzy and disoriented several times, nearly getting lost. Yu Changqing crossed the bustling street sideways, then turned around to grab You Mengzhe by the collar and pulled him along like a little chick.

“We can take our time looking later,” Yu Changqing said, “Let’s find a place to stay first.”

Yu Changqing led You Mengzhe into an alley situated between the eastern and western markets. A shopkeeper noticed the well-dressed pair and quickly approached, greeting them. Yu Changqing said, “A room on the lower floor.”

The shopkeeper’s expression immediately soured, and he retorted, “Sorry, we’re fully booked. Please try again next time.”

Yu Changqing held his saber and clasped his fists, saying, “We have official business to attend to. Please show some consideration.”

Although You Mengzhe was unfamiliar with the ways of the world, he could still discern good from bad intentions. He sensed that the shopkeeper had a condescending attitude. He immediately retorted, “Do you look down on us?”

The shopkeeper replied arrogantly, “So what if I do?”

You Mengzhe challenged, “Do you want a beating? Come on then!”

The shopkeeper grumbled and was about to push and shove, when Yu Changqing hurriedly interjected, “Young brother! We must avoid causing trouble!”

Yu Changqing presented the official document, causing the shopkeeper to reluctantly lead them to a room on the first floor at the back of the inn. Inside, it was modest to say the least—a thin mattress, a three-legged table leaning against the wall, and a single stool.

You Mengzhe flipped the blanket and found it covered in mold. He couldn’t help but think that from the outside, this place seemed luxurious, so why were the accommodations so shabby?

Yu Changqing splashed water on his face and You Mengzhe asked, “How do you plan to capture the thief? Can I be of any help?”

Yu Changqing said, “That fellow is highly skilled in Qigong, and the city of Jiangzhou is densely populated. Capturing someone is like finding a needle in the ocean. I must go and inquire with colleagues to find a lead and lure him out. Today, you can go and enjoy yourself, but don’t cause trouble.”

You Mengzhe said, “I’ll go with you.”

Yu Changqing waved his hand and said, “You have the gold plate on you. Go to the Eastern Market and exchange it for silver coins. You can enjoy the food and entertainment in Jiangzhou city. But you must return to the inn to rest at night.”

You Mengzhe had no objections, so he put his bundle on the bed, took some Gold Leaves, and was about to leave when Yu Changqing added, “Let me hold onto your belongings for now to prevent theft.”

You Mengzhe said, “You keep them then.”

Seeing that You Mengzhe was rather carefree and naive, Yu Changqing reluctantly took charge of his belongings. In front of You Mengzhe he opened the bundle and said, “Take a good look, these are the items.”

“Hmm…” You Mengzhe said, “Heaven-Extinguishing Bone-Piercing Needle, Vermilion-eyed Ice Silkworm… Wait, where’s my manual?”

You Mengzhe hurriedly felt his chest, his waist, and then cried out, “My Transmuting Yang Heart Technique is gone!”

Yu Changqing frowned and asked, “Did you forget to put it away after drying it?”

You Mengzhe said, “I clearly had it on me earlier. I don’t know where I lost it.”

Yu Changqing said, “This kind of martial arts, cultivating it won’t do any good. If it’s lost, it’s lost.”

You Mengzhe said, “Fortunately, I memorized it all.”

Yu Changqing: “…”

The two of them walked out of the guest room, with Yu Changqing saying, “I don’t mean to criticize, but your family’s martial arts cultivation is quite… well, you know.”

You Mengzhe asked: “Is quite what?”

As You Mengzhe passed by the front of the shop, he suddenly noticed the shop’s earlier insolent waiter with a swollen and bruised face, as if he had just been in a fight. The waiter, who had grown plumper like a pig’s head, saw them coming out and quickly nodded and bowed, saying, “Goodbye, sirs, safe travels.”

You Mengzhe: “?”

Yu Changqing was also a bit puzzled, but he glanced at the waiter without asking further questions. He casually continued with his previous conversation, saying, “Unorthodox… sinister path.”

You Mengzhe said, “In our Demonic Sect, we’re all good people! Besides practicing martial arts, everyone is of the highest moral character. My father often sends people down the mountain to help the villagers below Yuheng Mountain by searching for lost cattle and fetching water. We have a good reputation!'”

The corner of Yu Changqing’s mouth twitched slightly, and he asked, “What does your sect rely on for livelihood usually?”

You Mengzhe said, “Everyone cultivates fields on the mountain and does some business at the foot of the mountain. The hall masters and sect masters are all in various cities, establishing some industries and regularly providing my father with food, drink, and silver.”

Yu Changqing nodded and as they walked out of the alley, the clamor and noise engulfed them once again. Yu Changqing said, “I’ll be leaving now.”

You Mengzhe bid him farewell and walked along the long street, his face filled with curiosity. He looked left and right, and when he reached the front of a silver exchange, he remembered Yu Changqing’s advice and took out some gold leaves.

One tael of gold leave was exchanged for twelve taels of silver. You Mengzhe exchanged for two five hundred-tael silver banknotes, and he spent a total of sixty taels of silver. In Jiangzhou, there was a famous restaurant called “Huan Tian Xia Lou,” known for its fish porridge, buns, and tea eggs. Legend had it that Emperor Chengzu had eaten here when he visited Jiangzhou. You Mengzhe ordered a pot of tea, a bowl of fish porridge, a plate of spicy pepper stir-fried field chicken, and a basket of crab roe buns. He ate the buns while listening to someone telling stories.

Someone poked You Mengzhe’s shoulder, and when he turned to look, there was a wall on his left.

You Mengzhe: “?”

A dirty hand reached out from the right, grabbed a bun, and walked away.

You Mengzhe continued eating, but he noticed that the number of buns had decreased.

One, two… You Mengzhe counted multiple times and realized that there were only six left. When he lowered his head to eat, his left shoulder was poked again. You Mengzhe turned his head abruptly and stared at the wall.

Then, a hand from the right side reached out and took the whole basket of buns.

You Mengzhe exclaimed, “Boss! Is your shop haunted?”

Before he could finish speaking, someone behind him groaned in pain, and then the person ran away. When You Mengzhe turned around, he saw a figure in the distance, followed by a flash of gray shadow, disappearing.

 You Mengzhe: “…”

Perplexed, You Mengzhe finished his lunch and said, “I’m ready to pay.”

He slapped a silver ingot on the table, and the waiter’s eyes widened. The waiter took the silver ingot to find the owner and after a while, the owner came out with a smile, saying, “Guest, this silver ingot of yours, we can’t provide change for it. Do you have copper coins?”

You Mengzhe said, “Can’t provide change? How do you run your business?”

The owner lamented, “Guest, please don’t be upset. This silver tael is worth five liang!”

Reluctantly, You Mengzhe took out the smallest two-tael silver piece and exchanged it with the owner. The owner gave him two large strings of copper coins. You Mengzhe’s face turned green when he saw the coins. Each string contained a thousand wen, and each wen was about half a liang in weight. The total weight of the two strings was thirty-two jin, and with both strings, it would be sixty-four jin. It felt like he was dragging his pants when walking with them.

Note; 64 jin is about 32kg.

The owner said, “Our shop mainly deals with copper coins, and we rarely see transactions in silver tael. We also don’t have broken silver for change…”

You Mengzhe sighed and said, “Never mind, I’ll give you two taels of silver. Tomorrow and the day after, bring the meals to the Yubao Inn on East Street.”

The shopkeeper nodded and bowed hurriedly, while You Mengzhe waved his hand to indicate there was no need to thank him. Satisfied with his meal, he continued to wander the streets. As he strolled through the Eastern Market, he came across a merchant leading an elephant. You Mengzhe had heard his father talked about such creatures while on the mountain; they were known as the gentle kings of beasts. He reached out to touch the elephant’s trunk.

“Young brother, take a look. You can buy one for entertainment at home!” The merchant was a person from the Western Regions with green eyes and yellow beard, he spoke a broken version of the Central Plains dialect. He also had a speech impediment.

You Mengzhe said, “No, I can’t. It wouldn’t fit at home. How much does this thing cost? Can you actually sell it?”

The vendor replied, “One thousand taels.”

You Mengzhe casually said, “Would you sell it for eight hundred taels?”

The vendor responded, “It has to be at least nine, nine hundred and eight hundreds— taels.”

You Mengzhe pondered, thinking that riding this thing would indeed look impressive, but he had no intention of buying it. To play around with the vendor, he pretended to hesitate and said, “I only have eight… eight hundred and twenty— taels.”

While You Mengzhe was speaking, his eyes glanced towards the underside of the elephant’s belly, where he noticed a person hugging the elephant’s belly. The person was upside down, sticking closely to the underside, and was reaching out to grab the square brocade bag carried by the Western merchant. 

You Mengzhe tilted his head curiously and locked eyes with the dirty beggar youth. He vaguely felt that he had seen this person somewhere before. The beggar youth pressed a finger to his lips, signaling You Mengzhe to stay quiet.

“Shh…” The beggar youth held a finger to his lips, signaling You Mengzhe to stay quiet.

You Mengzhe: “Okay.”

The beggar youth’s expression turned serious as he hastily stuffed a pearl necklace into his pocket. The merchant interjected, “Alright, if you’re not buying, forget about it. How could you… make fun of people!”

The beggar youth then hastily stuffed a bunch of items into his pocket, darted behind the elephant’s legs, and quickly turned to run away.

You Mengzhe continued on his way. After walking a few steps, he overheard the arrival of official authorities. The merchant was lamenting with a mournful face, “It was right here… right here, and it’s gone… there was a string of them…”

You Mengzhe wandered around the street for a while. He spotted a clothing store with good-quality martial attire and bought himself a new outfit. He pondered for a moment, recalling Yu Changqing’s build, and decided to get him something as well. As night fell, he went to an old renowned shop in Jianghu and purchased some incense to conceal sweat odors, as well as a set of iron caltrops for backup. Then he returned to the inn.

Upon his return, Yu Changqing was already waiting in the inn. You Mengzhe asked, “Brother Yu, have you gathered the information?”

Yu Changqing made a thoughtful sound and said, “One of the fellow constables from Jiangzhou gave me a suggestion, and there seems to be some progress.”

As if burdened by some concerns, You Mengzhe proposed, “How about we practice the ‘Dual Cultivation’?”

Ignoring his comment, Yu Changqing continued, “In Jiangzhou, there’s a prominent martial family surnamed Long. Their senior, Senior Long, is celebrating his seventieth birthday today. Many martial artists are attending to offer gifts. We suspect that our target might take advantage of the occasion to seize an opportunity. I managed to secure two invitation cards, and I’m planning to lie in wait for him. What do you think?”

You Mengzhe asked, “You want to catch the thief at the birthday banquet?”

Yu Changqing nodded and said, “But I need to prepare some gifts for the occasion. I arrived here hastily and didn’t bring much money with me.”

Curious for some excitement, You Mengzhe suggested, “Take me with you then?”

Yu Changqing remained silent, prompting You Mengzhe to ask, “You don’t have enough money? I’ll cover the gift expenses. How much do you need?”

Yu Changqing said, “That’s precisely what I had in mind. But I can’t let you cover the expenses. Just lend me some money, and I’ll take care of the gift. You can enjoy yourself without worry, and when we return to the capital together, I’ll settle the debt with you.”

You Mengzhe responded, “Oh, it’s not a problem. How much money do you need? Tell me.”

Yu Changqing seemed quite troubled and added, “No, no, it’s not like that. Once I apprehend the criminal, I’ll repay you in full.”

You Mengzhe sighed, “Alright, let’s not discuss this further. Stop beating around the bush. How much? I just exchanged a thousand taels, and if it’s not enough, I can get more.”

Yu Changqing hesitated before finally saying, “Two… two taels.”

You Mengzhe: “…..”

Huge shoutout to @_nyanmaru_ on Discord for commissioning this! The chapter will be posted regularly, show your support for Ciacia at Kofi.

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