Outside Chong Ming town.
It was noon, and the streets at the town entrance were packed with pedestrians.
Two young women stood under a willow tree and their faces were draped with a white veil, revealing only their bright eyes. Their hands were in front of their forehead while they looked in front of them. It was as if they were anticipating someone. Their green gowns and white veils swayed lightly as a gentle breeze blew past.
After a while, they finally saw what they were waiting for an old horse-drawn carriage with two riders following closely on each side of the carriage. The ladies hurriedly went forth to welcome them.
Although it had been years since they both saw each other, Sun Ping could recognize Bi Liu at first sight.
"Sis!" Sun Ping excitedly jumped down the horse, and he dashed towards her with his Light-body Technique.
Bi Liu scrutinized him from head to toe. Seeing as he was full of energy and in good health, she let out a long sigh of relief. She patted her chest and said gladly, "You scared me, you know!"
"Hehe, I almost died this time. But luckily Brother Jiang was there to save me!" Sun Ping narrowed his eyes and said, "Sister, Brother Jiang is so good at martial arts. Besides, he's a handsome fellow, could he be my future brother-in-law?"
"Nonsense!" Bi Liu stared at him anxiously. "He has a wife, and he was only sent there to help me. We've only met once, so please don't say that!"
"Oh, I see" Sun Ping sighed in disappointment.
The carriage slowed to a halt in front of them. Then, Bi Liu quickly went up and called out, "Dad, mom."
The elderly couple sitting in the carriage responded faintly, "Come in!"
With the support of one hand, Bi Liu gracefully hopped onto the carriage. She signaled the carriage to keep going before she showed the driver the way forward.
Jiang Kuai walked in front of the carriage. When he flashed his waist tag at the guards, they had seamlessly obtained entry into town.
Sun Ping led his horse as he stared in amazement at the surroundings, taking in as much as he could. Every nook and cranny of the town seemed so exciting to him.
The horse carriage finally slowed down at an alley, and it stopped in front of a tall building.
"Dad, mom. We're here." Bi Liu opened the drape and got down from the carriage.
Sun Ping's eyes stared widely at the grandiose main door of the building. There were several rows of
"Yes." Bi Liu helped Old Sun to get off the carriage. Then, she said, "Let's go in."
Jiang Kuai smiled. "Miss Bi Liu, my work here is done then. I shall leave now. Goodbye."
"Brother Jiang, why don't you come inside and have some tea before you leave?" Bi Liu asked.
Jiang Kuai gave her a fist salute as he smiled. "Not today, but maybe next time."
He then gave another fist salute towards the elderly couple.
Sun Ping immediately asked, "Brother Jiang, where can I find you in the future?"
"Just look for me at the Public House." Jiang Kuai grinned. "We'll meet again!"
Once he was done speaking, he vanished into a puff of smoke right before their very eyes.
"Brother Jiang's martial arts is awesome!" Sun Ping was full of praises about Jiang Kuai.
Bi Liu smiled. She helped the old woman get off the carriage as well.
"Master Jiang is a polite young man," Mother Sun said as she smiled broadly. "Girl, don't tell me that you've never adored him?"
"Mom, like I told my Little Brother just now, he's already married to someone. He was only summoned by a friend of mine to help us out. And I've only met him face-to-face once, so we aren't close," Bi Liu answered her mother with a serious tone. "You really shouldn't worry about that."
"Hmph!" Old Sun stared at her half-heartedly. "Who else can control what you do?"
Sun Ping then recovered to his senses and asked, "Sister, Brother Jiang's from the Yi Public House?"
"Yes." Bi Liu supported Mother Sun into the building.
The large door swung open, and four servant girls came to them to give their salutes.
Old Sun took a big step through the door, but he then found it difficult to continue walking.
It was the first time he had seen such a big mansion. The bamboo dividers were huge. The house was painted with colorful flowers and lush green trees, as well as mountains and clear streams. The stylish decorations were never-before-seen, and it was an eye-opener for him.
The original intention of scolding his daughter strangely vanished after seeing all that. He hid away his usual bullish character.
Everyone made their way into the gazebo on one of the man-made mountains to admire the scenery around them.
"This house is so lavishly decorated!" Sun Ping grinned delightedly. "Sister, how many taels did it cost you?"
"A thousand and two hundred," Bi Liu replied.
At that instant, Sun Ping stuck out his tongue and exclaimed, "Wow!"
Bi Liu gave him a smile and questioned, "What are your plans for the future, Brother?"
Sun Ping replied, "I want to try my luck at the Wu Wei Security Company!"
His martial arts skills were decent. On top of that, with his prior experience working as a bodyguard, he would have a good life if he could manage to secure a job at the security company.
"No way am I allowing you to do that!" Old Sun stared at him. "This time, if it wasn't for Master Jiang, you would've perished already. Why go to the security company and risk your life all over again? It's not worth it!"
"Little Brother was really badly hurt this time?"
"Sigh, even the doctor had given up his hope on him. But fortunately, Master Jiang came to the rescue. He gave him a pill and almost immediately, he was up and about again!" Mother Sun shook her head as she sighed. "But it really scared the living daylights out of your dad and I. You really have to thank Master Jiang properly!"
"Well, he's a martial artist after all!" Bi Liu furrowed her eyebrows as he looked at Sun Ping. "Little Brother, I have to remind you that it's prohibited to use martial arts when you're in town. It's a strict rule by the Public House. So please don't cause any trouble!"
"Is it really necessary for the Public House to make this rule?" Sun Ping complained. "You really can't use martial arts in Chong Ming town?"
"There are Public House Protectors on duty everywhere. If you do use martial arts, you'll be banished out of town." Bi Liu said, "Don't keep a happy-go-lucky attitude. If you really do get chased out of town, you would never get to come back in again!"
"Wow, that's strict!" Sun Ping pursed his lips. Then he laughed. "Sister, Brother Jiang is from the Public House, so how did you get to know him?"
"The Chief of the Public House's maid, Xue Ling was learning martial arts from me. This time, you only survived because of her."
"Sister, you owe her a huge favor!" Sun Ping smiled. "The medicine that I consumed was the Spirit Blessing Pill. It's a unique spirit medicine from the Public House itself. It's like trading a pill for a life."
Bi Liu nodded gently. "Chief Chu is at a high position of power and holds great influence. Hm, how about I'll plead with Xue Ling to see if she can get you into the Public House?"
"Really?" Sun Ping's eyes suddenly opened wide. "I can get into the Public House?"
Almost everyone in Chong Ming town knew about the Yi Public House. Countless people harbored the ambition to get into the Public House, but it was an insurmountable task.
The people in the martial arts world may appear to despise the Public House a lot by calling them dogs of the Imperial Court. Though in truth, if there was an opportunity to get into the Public House, they would surely put everything in line to oust their fellow competitors.
Bi Liu furrowed her brows and said, "Don't count your chickens before they hatch. We won't know for sure yet if you would succeed."
"Sister, my fate is in your hands!" Sun Ping grabbed Bi Liu's hands and said passionately, "If I really do get into the Public House, our family would not have to worry about our daily expenses anymore. You, mom, and dad could stay at home and enjoy your life. Moreover, I heard from Brother Jiang that once you get into the Public House, you would never need to worry about taels anymore!"
Bi Liu began to regret bringing up this topic. She did not expect that her Brother would be so eager to get into the Public House. If he failed, she would be the one to blame.
Old Sun looked at Bi Liu doubtfully. "Girl, can you really bring Little Sun Ping into the Public House?"
"Dad, let me try," Bi Liu said.
Old Sun scoffed, "You're just a pub girl, do you really have such authority?"
Bi Liu rolled her eyes at Old Sun. She was speechless.
Mother Sun quickly steered the topic away. Since it was rare that their whole family could reunite, she was not ready to watch things fall apart so quickly.
By evening the next day when Bi Liu returned to the house, following right beside her was the graceful Xue Ling who was donned in an elegant white gown.
At that time, the backyard was splashed in a red tint by the setting sun.
Xue Ling sat in the gazebo, and her gown was the purest of whites. Her face looked flawless, yet her expressions frosty as she scrutinized Sun Ping from head to toe.
On the other hand, Sun Ping looked uneasy under such scrutiny.
Bi Liu smiled as she asked, "Xue Ling, can he make the cut?"
"His cultivation is too shallow!" Xue Ling frowned. "I thought you said his martial arts was decent?"
"Should be decent enough, no?" Bi Liu asked again.
Xue Ling shook her head. "Another bluff! He's not even close!"
In that instant, Sun Ping was dejected.
As he stood in front of Xue Ling, he felt like thousands of chilly needles were piercing through his skin. The intensity of her inner energy was indeed beyond his expectations. If she was to throw him a strike, he knew that he would not be able to block a single hit. It was really embarrassing for him, especially since she was about the same age as him and she was a female as well!
Bi Liu stared at Xue Ling.
However, Xue Ling's expressions did not change. She still looked very unimpressed as she scoffed, "With that meager ability of yours, you still wish to get into the Public House?"
Sun Ping replied defensively, "Why can't I?"
"If someone like you gets in, it would be an embarrassment for me!" Xue Ling said as she frowned.
Sun Ping looked increasingly helpless. He glanced back at his sister desperately, seemingly pleading for help.
Bi Liu asked, "What about working as a hired labor?"
Xue Ling shook her head. "By the way I see it, he has never endured any hardships. He would not know how to adapt to situations and that would make him a burden no matter what he works as."
Sun Ping was completely dispirited. He knew that there was no hope left for him.