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Sentimental Swordsman, Ruthless Sword - Chapter 6

Chapter 6: Savior at Drunken Homeland

The driver suddenly jumped up, took off his shirt, then welcomed the snow and wind with his bare chest.

Like a horse he started to pull the carriage.

Li Xun Huan did not stop him, because he knows that the driver needs a place to vent his frustrations. But as the carriage door closed, Li Xun Huan still could not help but shed a tear.

After an hour, they arrived at Cow village [the same village Guo Jing/Yang Kang’s parents lived at <IMG SRC="smilies/biggrin.gif" border="0"> Ok, not really, but...].

Cow village is a very tight little town. It’s not dark yet, but the snow has stopped. Every household is trying to shove away the snow in their front yard.

But when they saw the driver pulling the carriage running into town, they were astonished. Some even got scared and ran back to their homes.

Of course there’s a wine store in this town.

The people here have never seen anyone with such strength. So as the driver walked up to the wine store, most of the customers got scared andleft.

The driver put three chairs together. Then put a clean cloth on the chairs. Then carried Li Xun Huan into the store, so he can sit comfortably.

Li Xun Huan looks as if he has no blood left on his face. So everyone can see that he is seriously ill. The store has opened for twenty years, yet has never seen a person about to die to come drink wine. Everyone just stared at him.

The driver hit the table hard, yelling loudly, “Get me some wine. Your very best! If you watered it down just a little bit, I’ll take your heads.”

Li Xun Huan looked at him, then smiled. “You know, for the past twenty years, only today did you show the character of ‘Iron Armor Golden Steel’.”

The driver’s body flinched, as if he was shocked by this title. Yet he still managed to laugh loudly. “I can’t believe young master you still remember this name. I already forgot.”

Li Xun Huan said, “You... you should break your resolution and have a drink today.”

The driver said, “Alright! Today however much young master drink, I’ll match.”

Li Xun Huan also laughed along loudly. “The fact thatI can make you drink again means that I didn’t live this life in vain.”

Others, seeing at them laugh so happily, couldn’t help but look their way. No one can figure out how a near-death person can be so happy.

The wine isn’t the best, but at least its not watered down.

The driver said, “Young master, allow me to be so bold, I wish to propose a toast to you.”

Li Xun Huan was about to drink to it, but he couldn’t hold his cup firmly, wine spilled out. As he coughs, he also tried to get the wine off his shirt, yet still laughing, “I’ve never spilled wine before, but today...”

He laughed again, “This shirt has been with me for so many years, I really should reward it with some wine. Come, brother shirt, thank you for providing me with warmth all these years, I give you a toast.”

He then poured the rest of the wine on his own shirt.

The manager and the workers looked at him, saying to themselves, “This person’s not only ill, he’s also crazy.”

The two kept on drinking and drinking, with Li Xun Huan must use both hands to hold the cup firmly.

The driver then hit the table again. “Life is so unfair. If only I would never awaken from being drunk. Unfortunately, unfortunately...”

Li Xun Huan said, “you should be happy today. What’s all this ‘unfair’, ‘never awaken’ stuff? One should just live life the fullest [Excuse me for not really translating this proverb. I don’t even understand it fully myself.]”

The driver laughed once more. “You’re Right, Right!” Then his face hit the table with a thud.

Li Xun Huan’s face is filled with gratitude, saying to himself, “These twenty years, if it weren’t for you, I... I probably would not have survived. Although I know your reasons, but doing this really is beneath you. Hopefully you can reclaim your status and fame of old. If so, although I...”

The driver suddenly jumped up again, saying, “Young master you should not say such unpleasant words, ruining the mood.”

They suddenly laugh and suddenly cry, both cry and laugh.

The manager and the workers looked at each other. “Looks like they’re both crazy.”

At this instant, they heard person rushing in, “Wine. Wine. Get me some wine quickly.”

From his look, it seems that he’d die if not drink immediately.

The manager said to himself, “Looks like another crazy person.”

Only to see this person wear a blue shirt that’s been washed to the point its now white. His nails filled with dirt. Although wearing a scholarly hat, his hair is all messed up. His face looks both yellow and thin. A look of a poor scholar.

The worker brought a bottle of wine.

Who’d have thought that this poor scholar would not use a cup, instead holding the bottle and already drank over half of it, but then blew it back out again, yelling, “You call this wine? This is vinegar, plus it’s watered down vinegar...”

That worker said, “Its not that we don’t have good wine, but...”

That poor scholar said, “You think I don’t have money? Here, take this.”

He just waved his hand, and gave 50 teals of silver.

Every customer and worker are incredibly shocked. So this time they brought out the best wine.

Again, the poor scholar did not bother with cups, and drank the whole bottle in one gulp. Then just sat there without moving. Everyone else figured he must’ve drank too fast and something happened. But Li Xun Huan knows that he’s just savoring the taste.

After a while, he finally let out a breath. His eyes and face bright now. “Although the wine sucks, at a place like this, I guess I can’t expect anything better.”

The manager laughed along, saying, “I’ve been saving that bottle for over ten years now.”

The scholar suddenly hit the table, saying, “No wonder the taste is not thick [I’ve always thought wine tastes thicker as it ages, or does it not? I’m confused], give me some newer wine, only fermented three levels, then bring some food to go with the wine.”

“What kind of food do you want?”

“I know that in a crappy place like this, you can’t bring out anything good. Just get me a Wind Chicken and spicy fried crow intestine [yuck!], make sure the intestine’s very spicy and there’s no feather on the chicken.”

This person looks really poor, yet he really knows how to eat and drink. Li Xun Huan couldn’t help but find him really interesting. Under normal circumstances, he would at least ask this person to drink with him. But now, he might fall at any time. So he doesn’t want to meet any more people.

That person just kept drinking alone, drinking very fast.

It seems that other than wine, nothing else matters to him.

At this time, the sound of horses came, and stopped in front of the store. This person’s face suddenly changed a bit.

He got up ready to leave. Then looked at the wine on the table, then sat down again. Drinking three more cups while savoring the intestines.

Only to hear someone say, “What a drunkard, where do you think you’re going?”

Another person said, “I told you we can find him in a wine store.”

At this time, five six people came in, surrounding the poor scholar. They all look like they have pretty good kung fu.

A tall, thin man with a horse whip pointed at the poor scholar’s nose saying, “You took our gold, yet you won’t cure illness for us, escaped to here to drink, what the hell’s going on?”

The poor scholar smile, “So you don’t understand what’s going on? It’s just that I needed a drink. You should know that when Mr. Mei Er* needs a drink, he doesn’t even care if the sky falls, much less someone’s illness.”

*[The word ‘Er’ here is the number 2. So Mr. Mei Er means his last name is ‘Mei’, and he’s the second child in the family.]

A dot-faced guy said, “Big brother Zhao, did you here? We already know this drunkard is a horrible person. Once the money’s on his hand, he no longer cares about others.”

The first man said, “Who doesn’t know this drunkard’s personality? But he must cure the fourth brother’s illness. We needed to find a doctor, so what else could we have done?”

Li Xun Huan originally figured these people came for revenge, now after hearing their conversation, knows that this Mei Er is a doctor who just takes money but doesn’t cure patients.

While these people kept yelling, he still kept sitting very still. Simply kept drinking.

Zhao threw out his whip, hitting the wine bottles and cups, yelling, “Stop procrastinating, since we found you, you better come with us to help the patient. If the fourth brother gets well again, I’m guarantee you’ll have plenty of wine to drink”

That Mr. Mei Er just looked at the broken wine cups, took a deep sigh, then said, “Since you know about my temper, you should know that I won’t treat three types of people.”

“Which three?”

“Number one, I don’t treat those who don’t pay up front. If they pay a penny less, I won’t cure them.”

One of the man said, “We gave you plenty of money!”

Mr. Mei Er continued, “Number two, I don’t treat those who are rude to me. Number three, I most certainly don’t treat thugs, thieves, and killers.”

He then sighed, shaking his head. “You broke the last two rules, yet still expect me to treat him? You’re dreaming.”

Those people said, “If you don’t treat him, then we’ll kill you.”

“Even if you kill me I still won’t treat him!”

The dot-faced guy went up and hit him, sending him flying into the air, blood coming out of his mouth.

Li Xun Huan originally figured this doctor was hiding his skills. Now he knows that the doctor might have a tough mouth, but not a tough body.

Big brother Zhao took out his knife, saying, “If you say the ‘no’ word half more time, I’ll first cut off an arm before talking again.”

Mr. Mei Er said, “When I say no I meant no. Why would I be afraid of little thugs like you guys?”

Big brother Zhao wanted to go forward, but the driver suddenly hit the table, speaking loudly, “This is a place to drink wine, if you’re not here to drink, leave immediately!”

This sound was loud as thunder, scaring even Zhao. “Who the hell are you? You dare to butt in on my business?”

Li Xun Huan smiled, saying, “Having them just leave is no fun. Ask them to crawl out.”

“Young master asked you people to crawl out. Heard him?”

Big brother Zhao saw that this person is ill and has no energy, plus extremely drunk, so he got up the courage to say, “Since you guys are so bold, let me cut you open.”

His saber glowed, slicing towards Li Xun Huan.

The driver immediately extended his arms, trying to intercept the saber. Yet he’s already drunk, looking as if he’s trying to catch the saber with his arm.

The manager got scared, thinking his arm would get chopped off. Who would’ve thought that while the arm stayed, the saber went into midair. Even Zhao was shocked big time, saying, “This person’s kung fu can actually make him impenetrable by weapons, looks like we met a ghost.”

The dot-faced guy also got scared, forcing a laugh while saying, “Please tell us your name, my friend. Looks like we need to fight to meet. Let’s be friends from now on.”

The driver said coldly, “You’re not worthy of being my friend. Get out!”

Zhao jumped up, saying, “You should not be so rude. It’s not good to make an enemy of us, if...”

Before he can finish, the dot-faced guy suddenly side something into Zhao’s ear, looking at Li Xun Huan’s dagger at the same time.

Zhao’s face turned even whiter, saying, “It can’t possibly be him.”

“Who else can it be? I heard half a month ago from Old Turtle that he came back from the borders. Old Turtle remember him from a long time ago. He can’t be wrong.”

Zhao said, “But this drunkard...”

“This person’s very into eating, drinking, women, and gambling, plus his health has never been good. But his dagger...”

When he got to saying this dagger, his voice changed. “There’s no need to make enemy with someone like him.”

Zhao laughed, “If I knew he was here, even if someone put a knife on my neck, I still wouldn’t come in here.”

He then coughed twice and bowed while laughing. “Little me really has eyes but no eyeballs, didn’t recognize old man you. Sorry to intrude on old man your [you can tell I’m getting really lazy with all these ‘literal’ translations, eh? <IMG SRC="smilies/biggrin.gif" border="0">] drinking. Little man me really deserve to die. Now I’ll scram.”

It’s not clear whether or not Li Xun Huan heard him. He just kept drinking, kept coughing, as if nothing had happened.

Those men who came in like tigers, now had left quietly as dogs. It’s only now that Mr. Mei Er got up, yet he didn’t thank Li Xun Huan. Instead got up on the chair while yelling. “Wine! Give me some wine.”

The worker just looked confused, not believing that this was the person that just got whacked.

The other customers had already left by now, leaving only those three people. All drank continuously, not talking at all.

Li Xun Huan looked outside the window, suddenly smiling.”This wine thing is really peculiar. The more you want to stay awake, the quicker you become drunk. The more you want to be drunk, the more you can’t get drunk.”

Mr. Mei Er suddenly also chuckled, saying, “Getting drunk solves thousands of problems, It’s best to be drunk til death. But unfortunately, heaven would not let them die so peacefully.”

The driver raised his eyebrows as Mei Er walked wobbly towards their table, looking at Li Xun Huan. “Do you know how much longer you live?”

“Not long.”

“If you know that you can’t live long, why don’t you take care the things necessary before death, instead coming here to drink?”

Li Xun Huan said, “Why should such unimportant things such as life and death get in the way of drinking?”

Mei Er clapped his hands, laughing.”Right. Right. Life and death is a small matter. Drinking is a major matter. Your words really fit my tastes.”

He then suddenly opened his eyes, saying, “I guess you know who I am now, right?”

Li Xun Huan replied, “Not yet.”

“You really don’t know me?”

The driver suddenly cut in. “If he says he doesn’t know then he really doesn’t know. Why so repetitive?”

Mr. Mei Er still stared at Li Xun Huan saying, “Looks like you didn’t save me to cure your illness.”

Li Xun Huan laughed. “If you want to drink some wine, we can drink together. If you’re here to treat an illness, then I suggest you leave. Don’t waste my drinking time.”

Mr. Mei Er continued to stare at Li Xun Huan for a long time, then said. “So lucky. So lucky. You know, you’re so lucky you met me.”

Li Xun Huan said, “I have no money to pay. Plus I’m not much different from robbers and thieves. You can leave now.”

Who would’ve thought that Mei Er would shake his head saying, “No No No. It’s okay for me not to treat others’ illnesses. But I have to treat yours. If you don’t let me treat you, you have to kill me first.”

The driver suddenly lit up his eyes. “You really can cure him?”

Mr. Mei Er said, “Other than Mei Er, no one else in the world can treat him.”

The driver got up and tugged his shirt, asking, “Do you know what illness he has?”

Mr. Mei Er said, “If I don’t know then who would know? You really think Sixth brother Flower really can come up with that ‘Cold Chicken Powder’?”

“Cold Chicken Powder? The poison is Cold Chicken Powder?”

Mr. Mei Er chuckled. “Other than the Mei family ‘Cold Chicken Powder’, what other poison can possibly kill Li Xun Huan?”

The driver’s shocked and rejoiced. “You mean, Flower Bee’s poison was made by you?”

Mei Er laughed out loud. “Other than ‘Ingenious Middle Man’ Mr. Mei Er, who could possibly mix this poison? Looks like you are not knowledgeable at all, not knowing even this.”

The driver’s now happy beyond belief. “So the poison was made by him! Young master, you’re saved!”

Li Xun Huan just laughed bitterly. “Looks like while it’s hard for a person to live, it’s also hard for him to peacefully die.”

They’re on the carriage again. The driver’s now taking care of Li Xun Huan but also keeping note of Mr. Mei Er.

He’s still not satisfied, asking, “If you can cure his poison, then why do you need to find someone else?”

Mr. Mei Er said, “I’m not looking for another person, just my big brother. He’s near. Don’t worry. If I say I would treat a person, then there’s no way that person can possibly die.”

“Why do you need to find him?”

“Because he has the antidote. Are you satisfied now?”

This time he really did shut up.

Mr. Mei Er shook his head laughing. “I can’t believe someone would practice a type of kung fu this stupid. Other than against some street thugs, its useless.”

The driver coldly replied, “Stupid kung fu is better than no kung fu.”

Oddly enough, Mr. Mei Er is not mad at all. He continued to smile. “I heard that to practice this kung fu, one must be a virgin. Don’t you think that this sacrifice might be a tad to much?”

“Humph”

Mei Er continued. “I heard that in the past fifty years, only one person was stupid enough to learn this kung fu. This person’s ‘Iron Armor Golden Steel’ Tie Zhuan Jia. But twenty years ago someone threw him over the cliffs, and no one knew from that point whether he’s alive or not. Maybe he didn’t die. Maybe he can still drink wine.”

It’s as if the driver’s mouth has been shut. No matter what Mei Er says or asks, he can’t respond.

Mr. Mei Er could only close his eyes, recovering some strength.

After a while, the driver opened his mouth again. “I heard that the ‘Seven Ingenious People’ all don’t care much for their faces [here it means reputation]. Yet you don’t look so.”

Mr. Mei Er said, “I took those people’s gold, then won’t agree to cure him. You think that’s not bad enough?”

“If you actually agreed to cure him, then you’ve really lost your face. Taking money can treating the patient are two different things. There’s no reason not to take money from those people.”

Mr. Mei Er said, “Looks like you’re not totally stupid.”

The driver then said, “Those that everyone thinks are devious might not all be devious. Yet of those people say are gentleman, how many really are gentleman?”

Li Xun Huan just sat on the chair smiling. As if he’s listening to the conversation, yet also seems to be wandering elsewhere.

Looking outside, the snow has turned everything white.

If one can stay alive, then it’s still a good thing.

Another person’s image suddenly appeared in Li Xun Huan’s head.

She’s wearing a purple dress. Plus she has a light purple cape over her shoulders. Standing in the pure white background, she looks like a pretty purple Luo Lan [I can’t find this word in the dictionary. It seems to be the name of a flower, though.].

He remembers that she loves snow the most. Every time there’s snow, she would pull him to the garden, hit him with a snowball, then dare him to catch her.

He remembers that day he took Long Xiao Yun home, it also snowed. She was sitting in the pavilion of the plum garden, looking at the snow on the plum trees.

He remembers that the columns are red. Yet as she’s sitting by the columns, both the columns and the plum trees all lost their color.

He did not see Long Xiao Yun’s reaction at that time. But later he can imagine, Long Xiao Yun’s heart must’ve already been broken.

Now, is that pavilion still the same? Does she still sit there often, counting the plum flowers?

Li Xun Huan raised his and smiled towards Mr. Mei Er. “There’s wine in the carriage. Let’s have a drink.”

Snow, fall sometimes stop sometimes.

Under the guidance of Mei Er, the carriage turned onto a small road, up to a small bridge. Then can’t cross over.

The driver carried Li Xun Huan over the bridge, only to see a shack within the plum forest. A sound suddenly came from the forest, as they got closer, a properly dressed man is telling two kids to pour water on the snow filled trees.

The driver said quietly, “This is Mr. Mei Da*?”

*[‘Da’ means ‘big’. In this case, it shows that he’s the eldest child of the family.]

Mei Er replied. “Other than this idiot, who would use water to clean off the ice and snow on trees?”

The driver could not help but laugh. “You mean he doesn’t know that he by pouring the water, snow will still remain the tree, while the water will become ice?”

Me Er sighed, laughing bitterly. “He can tell the authenticity of any artwork by one look. He can instantly mix the most potent poison and the most potent antidote. Yet he can’t figure out some of the most basic logics.”

As they speak, Mei Da turned his head to look at them, as if looking at a bunch of annoying kids, instantly losing the color on his face. Saying, “Hurry! Hurry up and hide all the precious paintings. Don’t let him see it, then go trade it for some wine.”

Mei Er smiled. “Big brother. Don’t worry. I already had my wine today. I just came to bring two friends...”

Before he can finish, Mei Da already covered his eyes, saying, “I don’t want to see your friends. Your friends are all terrible. If I see one, I’ll be destined to have three years of bad luck.”

Mei Er also became annoyed, saying, “Fine. You look down at me. You don’t think I can possibly find any nice friend. Come, Li Tan Hua, let’s leave.”

The driver suddenly said, “Where’s the antidote? How can we leave now?”

Who would’ve thought that Mei Da’s expression suddenly changed. “You mean that family with seven members to pass the imperial examinations, father-son three people [the third person implies Li Xun Huan’s brother] all became Tan Hua, THAT Li Tan Hua?”

Mei Er said coldly. “You know of another Li Tan Hua?”

Mei Da looked at Li Xun Huan. “This one?”

Li Xun Huan said, “Yes. I am the one.”

Mei Da looked over him up and down, suddenly held his hand, laughing loudly. “Famous for twenty years, I can’t believe I finally get to meet you. Brother Li.”

He actually became extremely nice after knowing who the guest is.

Mei Da then said, “Mr. Li, please excuse my rude remarks earlier. It’s just that much brother is so terrible. Two years ago, he led two people to my house, saying they’re art afficionados. Who’d have thought that when I showed them my precious paintings, they exchanged two with blank papers! I was so pissed I couldn’t sleep for three months.”

Li Xun Huan laughed too. “Mr. Mei Da should not blame him. When one’s drinking urges start to come out, yet don’t have money for wine, that’s also a very nasty feeling.”

Mr. Mei Da said with a smile. “Looks like brother Li is also this type of person.”

Li Xun Huan smiled along. “Drinking can make people be in heaven [this is a really bad translation of a proverb].”

Mei Da said, “Great. Qi He, stop with cleaning the tree. Go in and take that twenty yr old Zhu Ye Qing [A type of wine, roughly translated as ‘green bamboo leaf’]. Let brother Li here taste it. This wine’s been in there for all these years, the purpose is to keep someone as famous as brother Li here.”

Mei Er said, “This is actually quite true. When other guests come, not only does he not bring out wine, he doesn’t even bring out vinegar. However, brother Li is not here to drink wine.”

Mei Da just needed to take one look at Li Xun Huan, then said, “The poison is a small problem. Brother Li just don’t worry and drink. I know how to take care of the other things.”

After three rounds, Mei Da suddenly asked, “I heard that the extremely rare ‘Qing Ming Da He Tu’ [must be a famous painting, but I’ve never heard of it] is in your mansion. Is this true?”

Now Li Xun Huan knows why he’s so eager to greet them. “It is true.”

Mei Da became happy beyond belief. “So can you bring it over sometime for me to look at?”

Li Xun Huan replied, “If Mr. Mei Da wanted to see it, I really should not refuse. But alas, I gave the painting, as well as the rest of my property, to someone else.”

Mr. Mei Da looked as if someone hit him on the head with a stick. Just kept mumbling, “so unfortunate... so unfortunate...”

Then he said, “Qi He, put away the rest of the wine. Li Tan Hua here is done drinking.”

Mei Er said, “So without ‘Qing Ming Da He Tu’, there’s no wine?”

Mei Da said coldly, “My wine’s not here for people to drink.”

Not only is Li Xun Huan not mad, he actually smiled. He feels that while this person is extremely fickle, he’s also quite innocent, at least better than those fake gentlemen.

But the driver couldn’t hold his thoughts, yelling loudly, “So if there’s no ‘Qing Ming Da He Tu’, there’s no antidote?”

Mei Da said, “If there’s no wine, where does the antidote come from?”

The driver became very angry, wanting to run towards him.

But Li Xun Huan held him back, saying, “Mei Da and we are strangers, so he has no obligation to give us the antidote. We already owe him some great wine. How can we still be so rude?”

“But young master you... you...”

Li Xun Huan waved his hand and smiled. “I think it’s time for us to leave now.”

Who’d have thought Mei Da would ask, “You don’t want the antidote?”

Li Xun Huan said, “We each have our own things. I never like to force people.”

Mei Da said, “You do realize that without the antidote, you’re dead.”

“Life and death are decided by the heavens. I personally never cared much for it.”

Mei Da then stared at him again, saying, “Right. Right. If one can even give ‘Qing Ming Da He Tu’ to someone else, why would he care for his own life? People like this really are rare, Really are rare...”

He then yelled, “Qi He, bring out the wine again.”

The driver instantly became happy again. “So what about the antidote?”

Mei Da looked at him for a second, then coldly said, “Now that there’s wine, you’re afraid there would be no antidote?”