Part 2: The White Jade Tiger by Gu Long 白玉老虎英文版
The second installment of the adventure's of Willy Zhao. If you missed the first piece, go back to part 1.
After Willy Zhao had paid off everything he owed, he is feeling like a million dollars as he sets off on his steed for his special day. The only thing that is slightly troubling is that Shanna didn't protest his departure at all. In fact, she brought his horse to him. Maybe she was already out of tears.
"You've already made up your mind to leave." Shanna says, almost reading his thoughts. "Once Willy Zhao has made up his mind, no one can change it."
"Thanks for understanding me." Willy smiles. Although Willy is truly grateful for being understood, he can't help feeling responsible for Shanna's sadness.
"I know one day you will come back to see me." Shanna responds.
"I'm never coming back." Willy replies. "It's already painful enough leaving you one time." Everyone in their youth does things that they are not proud of, even things that are embarrassing. But Willy had already made up his mind that as a husband, he was going to be a brand new man.
"I'm not convinced." Shanna says smirking.
"Convinced?" Willy responds.
"I don't think there will ever be a day that Willy Zhao won't be interested in other women." Shanna confesses.
"Every man is interested in other women." Willy says. "But I will only take a glance from time to time. My interests stops there."
"But I don't think anyone one woman is enough to manage you." Shanna adds.
"There's only one person who is able to manage me." Willy responds.
"Who's that?" Shanna asks.
"Same as everyone. Only myself." Willy explains.
Chapter Four 4
As Wendy Phoenix stands in front of her make up mirror, she's quite pleased with how she looks. She's always been confident in her appearance, but on this day she is looking especially radiant. It's a rare occasion for her to wear such fancy apparel and expensive make up. She's always been very good at being reserved. After meeting Willy, she had already decided that she would marry into the House of Zhao where being reserved was a necessity.
She is well studied in all of the attributes of being a traditional woman: beauty, cooking and household chores. Her cooking was on par with a five star hotel and everyone bragged about the clothing that she made for them. Her attention to detail in all things was not in vain. Even though everyone already adored her, she made up her mind to become even more significant in the House of Zhao. Becoming a wife that Willy Zhao would be in love with forever.
Even though Willy has a bit of a temper, he's a very vigorous and handsome man. Wendy is determined to keep him all to herself. She's been well informed of all his previous relationships, including Shanna. But Wendy is well aware that Willy is an honest man, and she couldn't be more pleased that she truly has his heart. Any woman would be thrilled to call such a man her husband.
Still she is slightly nervous as the thought about the possibilities of what could happen on their wedding night. Just the thought made her heart begin to race. Or maybe she was more nervous that Willy had left early in the morning and had yet to return? As she looks at the sky darkening, she begins to feel even more upset.
"Willy's returned!" Carla exclaims in excitement, immediately soothing Wendy's troubled thoughts. Carla is Willy's little sister, known not only for her looks, but she also carries a formidable reputation in the martial underworld. Since her training as a child she has been able to defeat all of the masters in the House of Zhao with the sword. Including her older brother Willy. Even though she knew that Willy let her win, she was still quite pleased with herself.
Now she is seventeen years old and ready to become a woman, seeing the world as a cup of exotic wine that she couldn't wait to taste. Still as any seventeen year old she is filled with conflicting and partially rebellious feelings. Staring out at the sunset one spring day amongst the various delicate flowers that decorated the courtyard, she suddenly felt...alone. Just the same as the sun as it disappeared beyond the horizon.
As for anyone, the cure for loneliness might be found in a relationship. The only problem being Carla had yet to find anyone who could catch her attention. In fact, in her lifetime she's only had respect for two men: her brother and her father. The rest all seemed to be lacking something.
She cares deeply for her father, although she felt they were distant at times. Yet, she can always rely on her older brother for some good conversation. She is well aware that after the marriage, she is doomed to feel even more alone. As she waited for her brother's return, she was even more nervous than Wendy Phoenix.
"I have to go pay what I owe." Willy said to her as he left in the morning. They were siblings that never kept secrets from each other. Although concerned, she never tried to stop or persuade him not to go. She knew no one could change Willy's mind once he decided on something. This is a trait that really made her look up to her brother.
She has waited in the courtyard all day just to hear the footsteps of his horse's return. Far before anyone is able to see him, she knows that he's arrived. Only Willy can handle a wild horse like that.
Without even taking a shower, as Willy arrives, he immediately begins changing into his wedding garments. His legs are extremely sore from the ride and his body wreaks of sweat. He is discovering the difficulties of being a groom as he struggles to get into his clothes. He feels that trying to dawn the outfit is like tying shoes for a miniature doll. But he is adamant to accomplish the mentally strenuous task, knowing it would be the only time in his life he'd have to wear anything so complex.
There are three people helping him get dressed. Usually there would be three women, but Willy feeling uncomfortable with the idea of three unfamiliar ladies helping him with his clothes, insists on having three men instead.
There is a woman present, however, Willy has never thought of her as a woman. In everyone else's eyes she is quite stunning and aside from her temper a truly remarkable young lady. Carla sits on the floor in the corner watching Willy change his clothes. She's always enjoyed sitting on the floor. Even if the ground was covered in thick mud, it wouldn't stop her.
She is unconcerned with getting her clothes soiled. And when someone suggested that she shouldn't sit on the floor, she rolled her eyes, caring even less. Unlike Wendy Phoenix, Carla always does what pleases her.
"You're still sitting on the floor these days." Willy says shaking his head. "I doubt you will ever get married acting like that."
"My marriage possibilities have zero to do with what you think." Carla says, blowing her hair out of her face, slightly annoyed. "It's not like I'm going to marry you." Willy laughs awkwardly. "And in any case if someone is willing to marry a scoundrel like you, then I've still got a pretty good shot at getting married."
"But you are a woman." Willy interjects. "A woman needs to be ladylike."
"Ladylike.."Carla says smirking. "You mean like Shanna?" She asks, causing Willy to immediately shut his mouth. "Does she really smell that good." Carla continues to pry, becoming more curious after seeing Willy's reaction.
"Are there a lot of guests here today?" Willy asks, clearing his throat.
"Yup." Carla replies. "But some of the guests that should have come didn't and some of the guests that shouldn't have come did."
“Well, I'm certain that the Grand Father's son hasn't come." Willy adds.
"How did you know that?" Carla asks.
"Because he should certainly be here." Willy hints, causing Carla to blush suddenly. The Grand Father is a member of the Clan of Great Wind with considerable authority known as Scarlet Sky. His son's name is Song Sky. It is no secret that Song had feelings for Carla in all of their encounters.
"It's also unfortunate that Sara Steel couldn't attend." Carla says playfully.
"I've got nothing to do with her." Willy replies smugly. "I've never even seen her."
"True." Carla admits. "But you've always been curious about the rumors of her beauty haven't you?" Willy nods his head, unable to deny her claim. "That's why I said it is unfortunate because you have no hope of ever knowing her after today."
Willy's always wanted to see if Sara Steel was as beautiful as people say. She was said to be both incredibly intelligent as well as breathtakingly gorgeous, however no one had ever seen her. Her father, Shang Steel, kept her on an unimaginably tight leash.
Her father had sent her to Huang Mountain to study the arts under Master Rain. It's said his style of martial arts is most suitable for women. Others say that because she was a sickly child, she was sent to the mountain to be healed. Just like her mother, she always had health issues. If her illness wasn't taken care of, it's unlikely she would live to be 20 years old.
Nobody knew the real reason she was sent to Huang Mountain because no one dares ask Shang Steel. He's never been very approachable, and a sensitive issue related to his wife's death or his daughter's disappearance are something people would be too intimidated to mention. If Shang Steel doesn't bring something up, you can be sure it is something he is unwilling to discuss.
Even the leader of the Great Winds, Grandmaster Cloud, wouldn't dare mention any of these sensitive subjects. Nobody has any idea of her whereabouts. No one had the courage to bring it up. Who could ever ask about his wife's death? Even when Willy would ask Grandmaster Cloud about her, he would only respond with, "Has the Old Man had his medicine?"
The Old Man was referring to Willy's father (The Head Master). Cloud was well aware of Willy's temper, always changing the topic as a diversion. Calling his father the Old Man wasn't disrespectful or distasteful at all. Over time, it had become an endearing term. Something that only the closest person to his father would say. Perhaps, in other people's eyes Willy's father, Jay Zhao, was the most feared man in the world. They called him "Zhao the Blade of the Golden Dragon."
Although he is feared, he is also very loving. When the air is freezing or the rain is cold, he is the one to warmly wrap you in a blanket. His wife had passed many years before, but it didn't break his spirit of kindness. In all of his time training and teaching, he would never miss a day to fly a kite with Willy. Through time he was able to slowly gain control of his rebellious attitude.
Still, even after developing control over his mind, his body was starting to deteriorate. Taking care of the Clan of Great Wind caused him to spend many hours in the library, stressed out, isolated and unable to speak with anyone.
After all of the members of the clan noticed that his health was declining, they would offer him medicine to help him recover. He would always respond,
"Medicine is for bitches. Do I look like a bitch to you?"
Even though medicine wasn't technically for bitches, once the master had made up his mind, there was no way to persuade him otherwise.
"I snuck a little bit of medicine into the master's water today." Carla says to Willy.
"I still don't understand why he has a child's mentality regarding taking medicine." Willy responds plainly.
"I've heard that once someone gets older, they become more childish." Carla responds.
"I've also heard that Doctor Lu has been sent to help him with his condition." Willy adds. "Even though other doctors are unable to cure the master's sickness, Doctor Lu can cure anything." Doctor Lu from the Hua Mountain is famous in the martial underworld for being able to heal people with incurable conditions.
"Today after lunch, Doctor Lu gave the Old Man a little check up." Carla says while pondering a bit. "They were in there for quite some time."
"What did the doctor say?" Willy asks curiously.
"The doctor seemed very pleased." Carla says scratching her head. "He even had a few drinks with Third Master before departing." The Third Master was one of the leaders of the Clan of Great Wind. He often compliments Shang Steel as a Sword Poet. But a poet sure would talk a lot more...and would definitely be a lot more expressive with people.
"The doctor also had a few drinks with the Old Man." Carla adds. "I think he can handle his liquor even better than you." Just as Willy frowns at the remark, they hear a voice outside the window.
"Has anyone seen the Head Master (The Old Man, Jay Zhao)"?
It was Miss Ginger, a woman who has worked in the House of Zhao for decades. In her day, she had the best kicking skill of anyone in the clan, but the wear and tear of age made even getting out of bed a difficult task nowadays. Still, Willy always sees her as a respectable individual. Hearing her worry and concern, both Willy and Carla didn't even bother to respond. They just jumped out of the window, landing before her.
After landing, Carla responds, "What's wrong? Haven't you looked for him?"
"I've looked for him everywhere." Miss Ginger says a bit panicked. "I also haven't been able to find Shang Steel."
Knowing that Miss Ginger had been in the village for over forty years, she knew every nook and cranny in the area. If she couldn't find someone, it was definitely an emergency. Carla also began to panic a bit.
"I'll find him." Willy says smiling. "There are some places that only I and my father know of here." Without any concern for his wedding garments he immediately darts off.
"His attitude is just as rash as his father's" Miss Gingers says shaking her head.
"I doubt that this place could have any area that we are unaware of." Carla adds a bit frustrated.
"Actually that's not true." Miss Ginger explains. "The Old Man has areas just for his own study hidden around."
"Then why would Willy know about it?" Carla asks, slightly offended by the idea.
"Because he is to be the next successor of the clan." Miss Ginger explains tenderly.
"Why the fuck is he the only one allowed to know." Carla responds. "It's not like I'm the Master's daughter or anything."
"You are a female after all." Miss Ginger hints.
"And?" Carla says brooding.
"A girl generally finds a man, raises kids and leaves the household." Miss Ginger says. As bad as it sounded, Miss Ginger was only speaking the truth. She always spoke the truth.
"And if I don't want to get married?" Carla says crossing her arms in frustration.
"That's between you and you." Miss Ginger answers.
The Clan of the Great Wind has always been enshrouded in mystery, they were spread throughout the plains, but known by everyone on the outside. Not only because the "Tornado God", Grand Master Cloud, whose name was always brought up in any conversation regarding presence, courage and spirit. But also because the clan was known for the three clan leaders: Scarlet Sky, Shang Steel and Jay Zhao (The Old Man), with a bond so strong they were willing to sacrifice their lives for each other at anytime.
The clan was built on the blood of these three and they shared in the victory and glory together. After the Grand Master made an announcement that he would be sealing the doors to the secrets of their sword style, the entire burden was placed upon the shoulders of these three.
They are true partners in crime: willing to go through the worst and best times without conflict. So there was never any moment of argument pertaining to authority. They are only concerned about the possible threat from outside.
But the personalty of the three leaders doesnt bare any resemblance at all. Scarlet Sky is the oldest of the three and he is known for always being calm and presentable. In the martial underworld they refer to him as the scholar. He is unwilling to ever argue with anyone, even less willing to shed someone's blood. His ideology was that in any situation, there is only a need for more wisdom, not a blade. So, many secretly refer to him as Bitch Ass Sky.
All of the members of the clan have great respect for him, but it doesnt equate to looking up to him in anyway. The younger more hot-blooded members of the clan feel his decisions are a sign of weakness. Especially his words related to their mortal enemy, the Thunder Clan. "If they haven't wronged us, we can't wrong them." He often say.
Even though both clans mutually want to spill the other's blood, if any of the young members went against the rules of Scarlet Sky, they would immediately be put to death.
Shang Steel is a master of keeping silent. Even those who had followed him for years, rarely heard him say a word. He's a man that's always felt, your personal life or problems should never be shared with others.
Standing outside of his residence felt as dangerous as being outside a prohibited military base. Nobody dared step foot inside. The same as Jay Zhao, his wife had already passed. In addition his daughter had been sent to someplace distant. He doesn't have more than a handful of friends. He keeps his distance from everyone and in return they keep their distance from him.
So of the three leaders, Jay Zhao (The Old Man), receives the most respect and admiration from the clan. There was a saying about him when he was young,
"The Vengeful teen who would hit the streets with his blade and kill his enemy in five steps."
As he grew older, his temper began to slowly milden, nevertheless, he was always a man filled with emotion. If he considers you a friend, he wouldn't hesitate to harm himself for you. He is the ideal hero to all of the youth in the clan.
Not only the entire clan admires and respects him, they have genuine affection for him. So of course on the night of his son's wedding, they would all come to celebrate and have a few drinks.
Everyone is filled with anticipation, waiting to see the groom in is fresh garbs as well as the mesmerizing bride. As soon as Willy appears, the crowd surrounds him in excitement. Before he can even make it to the dining room, he is flooded by people and squeezed by their greetings.
Seeing his new threads, they become even more filled with passionate affection. With great difficulty he manages to escape into the hallway and heads to an exit leading him into a peach blossom forest. After following a long windy and twisting road, he comes to a courtyard covered in bamboo.
When the wind travels through the bamboo, it creates a song like wind chimes that block out all of the laughter from the nearby wedding party in the distance. As Willy enters, he stares around at the 5 different rooms: two of them well-lit and three of them pitch black. Of course Miss Ginger had already come by this way. She didn't find the Old Master because obviously there was no one around. However Willy isn't disappointed because there is a secret place that only he and the lead masters shared knowledge of.
The very last room is filled with Jay Zhao's books and martial knowledge spread across four book cases along all of the walls. Though it appears empty, Willy turns toward the book case on the left wall. He isn't in a rush to go in because he understood that his father and Shang Steel are probably having a conversation about the clan's secrets.
He knocks lightly on one of the shelves. After hearing no response, he becomes a bit concerned, knocking slightly louder three more times. Still, there is no response.
Now Willy is feeling a bit frantic, abruptly removing one of the wooden boards from the shelf, dashing into a narrow passageway. He finds his father in the room, wearing a beautiful garment in preparation for his son's big day. His hand still holding his favorite pipe of tobacco. But his head is completely removed.
Willy falls to his knees. Yet he doesn't cry out. He doesn't shed a single tear. His eyes are now as red as blood.
(Stay tuned for part 3)