The Imperial Court Enjoys as Many Benefits as the Turbulence Experienced in the Wulin
That’s right. Even though I’ve got good connections, possess great martial prowess, look handsome, and…
In any case, I’m sticking with my decision to retire.
Simple, life in the pugilistic world is too boring and tough.
What? You want to know why I don't go and leisurely enjoy what the world has to offer when I'm such a skilled martial artist?
You're thinking too much.
The prerequisite for enjoying what the world has to offer isn't about how good your martial arts skills are. It's about how much money you have!
Let’s say you’re so pathetic you can’t kill an ant. As long as you’re rich, you’d still be able to leisurely enjoy what the world has to offer. Even if you go about your business free and unfettered, no one will say anything.
Earn money in the pugilistic world?
You think it's easy to make money in the pugilistic world?
Famous Sects are always fighting over fame and benefits. The burden I feel when dealing with them is a pain. The more famous they are, the heavier the burden. Altogether there are over one-hundred disciples, all gathered together on one mountain. You need money for accommodation, money for weapons and money for clothes. And yet they try to feed that many people with a meagre income.
Big sects like Shaolin, Wudang and Emei get by with donations and by appointing the position of a poor landlord as the landlord to just barely get by on the daily. Other smaller sects live in poor conditions.
My shifu had his own ways of making money, but it was nothing compared to what an elderly earned in the countryside. After he found about this, he got angry and went to steal the donations at the Shaolin temple. According to the wulin rules, big sects are not allowed to bully smaller ones, so my shifu was always stealing from the bigger sects. Apparently, that didn’t count as him breaking the wulin's rules… Unless he was caught.
He really never got caught. In fact, he always brought back a bunch of who-knows-what secret manuals for me. As such, we’ve been rejected by the bigger sects, and as a result, we’ve never been allowed to attend any big wulin meetings, hero meetings and other similar money-making opportunities.
What? You think we're an evil sect?
True, evil sects to make easy-money.
But haven’t you heard?
A few years ago, Ximen ChuiDeng, the leader of the Demon Sect self-proclaimed that he was invincible and wanted to annihilate the wulin, but he still wasn’t satisfied with that. As a result, the imperial court declared that people could go after him.
Both sides of the wulin responded to the call. The Seven Major Sects of Jiang Nan, the Thirteenth Black Wind Village, the Twenty-eight Red Flames of the Caves, Qinling of the Thirty-Six Holes, Shaolin, Wudang, Emei all banded together and went to purge the Demon Sect.
Ximen ChuiDeng’s boasting and lies didn’t work, and they fucked him up. After the Demon Sect was destroyed, there was no news from them for a while. They might be running street stalls selling salted duck eggs now for all we know.
Have you heard?
Last month, the thirty-seven members of the murderous Blood Eagle clan were playing mah-jong at home, when the imperial court sent over one-hundred and forty Qilin Guards in and massacred them. The Blood Eagle’s clan leader was still holding the Three Dragons* in his hands when his head was cut off as he yelled “I won!” He didn’t even get to collect the money from his win before he died.
Now do you understand why I want to retire?
I’m thirty-eight years old this year, so I’m not young anymore. My shifu is still alive and kicking, and teasing young maidens, but he is in his sixty’s, so he’s bound to come and ask me to be his successor soon enough.
When that time comes, all the people he shamelessly owes, all the sects he stole from, all the young maidens and housewives he teased, all the kids he’s got from his affairs… All of them are going to come after me…
The most embarrassing thing is having to display the banners and plaques that have things like “Defeating the Scum of the Wulin”, “Destroying the World”, “The Precious Gem of Women” and the such, that were on display that day outside the mountain doors. How am I supposed to live that down?
Therefore, I’ve decided to retire and ignore matters related to the pugilistic world, otherwise the only thing I’ll be doing for the latter half of my life is paying back that old-snake's debts!
I sat at home looked through the ‘job search’ section in my brand new copy of the number on gossip magazine in the pugilistic world hot off the press. At the top of the recruitment section it said:
The Qilin guards are recruiting. The salary is good, you will be treated well and there are monetary rewards.
Qilin guards, huh?
That's serious business.
The Qilin guards have basically taken over the job of the Wulin’s white sect*, engaging in lively battles with the evil sects. Those unaware would misunderstand that the Qilin guards' families were raped by the evil sects, and that their vicious attacks are their retaliation. It’s fair to say that the Qilin guards are ruthless with their attacks against the evil sect.
I feel as though the Qilin guards do a much better job of upholding justice and order than the Shaolin abbot that can’t stop asking for donations, and the leader of Wudang who just has to read people’s fortune whenever he meets them.
However, the evil sects are strong. They’re no pushovers. Especially since they’ve changed the way they operate these last few years. They've created connections with officials, and now that they're backed by higher ranking officials, the Qilin guards dispatched by the imperial court those same officials serve have a hard time eradicating them.
Liu Shan Men are also recruiting. They pay higher wages than the Qilin guards, they provide better treatment, there are beauties to accompany you, and you even get paid when you go on holiday leave!
They’re blatantly competing with them!
Just why do they insist on competing with the Qilin guards?!
Liu Shan Men really are a sad bunch.
If you’re human, the first thought that comes to mind when Liu Shan Men is mentioned are the famous constables, the Thirteen Constables!
Ah, no, not the Thirteen Constables, but a constable called Yan Shi San**. He and Demon Sect leader Ximen ChuiDeng are the two clowns of the Wulin. They’ve been at loggerheads with each other since they were kids. They fought until they both aged and were still at each other’s throats. Two influential figures in the Wulin fighting is like burning money. Forget the Demon Sect, whose origins are shady to begin with. But why Liu Shan Men? They’re not lacking.
Who would’ve thought that Constable Shi San would use underhanded tactics to defeat Ximen ChuiDeng. He embezzled, opened gambling joints, brothels and even bought things for low prices only to sell them at higher prices. He then used that money generously to find new recruits. In the blank of an eye, Liu Shan Men became an unparalleled force to be reckoned with.
But just as he was about to attack the Demon Sect, the old fella overdid it and screwed himself over.
Apparently he was trying to get one of his prostitutes at his brothels to do some shameless things I can’t describe, and got busted by the emperor who was out inspecting the city. The emperor ended up demoting Constable Shi San to some government office to hide the fact that he went there himself.
I heard that the Wulin’s White Sects ended up destroying the Demon Sect, while this old fella was still stuck sweeping the floors of the government office.
After Yan Shi San was demoted, Liu Shan Men was never treated the same way again. Their great constables left and joined the Qilin guards. To make up for their loss of talent, they had no choice but to spend hefty amounts of money to attract more new talent.
Let's have a look at their treatment again…
The monthly salary is seventy silver ingots?! Holy shit! I used to get paid ten silvers ingots a month! The Qilin guards only paid forty.
Even if they're getting money from both the government and citizens, this difference is insane!
What a bunch of corrupt scoundrels!
I angrily stood up and went back to my room to pack.
Alright, let's go and apply for a position at Liu Shan Men.
There’s too much bullshit in the Wulin these days. If you’re a skilled martial artist, you should answer the calls of the imperial court and try to get a position there. There’s too much turbulence in the pugilistic world. Working for the imperial court is your best option.
I made up my mind and headed for the door.
I need to leave quietly; I can’t let myself be discovered, especially by people from my sect.
Suddenly, I heard the beautiful clear voice of a woman calling from outside.
"Ming Feizhen, are you there?"
Who dares say yours truly's name like that?****
"I'm your shiyi, come the hell out here, now!"
My aura of dominance faded a little…
Fuck!… Speak of the devil.
*The red, green and white dragons in mah-jong tiles
**White sect = refers to sects which consider themselves justice
*** Shi San =十三 = thirteen in Chinese. So the joke is "there aren't thirteen constables, but he's called constable thirteen" (十三名捕 = Thirteen Constables; 十三名捕 = Constable Thirteen)
****It was uncommon to call people by their full name like that in those days. You would usually go (Surname) + (Suffix which would be a title or position etc.)