The Feast – 124 – Deploying Troops to Distract

The Feast – 124 – Deploying Troops to Distract

Chapter 124: Deploying Troops to Distract

 

Translated by Gumihou

Please read this at kitchennovel dot com

 

The final line was not a real question at all, but the fierce bandits all howled their answer. “Honour before life, never give up our leaders!”

“Good, move out.”

Chen Jing let out a loud yell and bandits hidden in the woods rushed out to stand in a straight line, all facing Pushan Temple. Liu Er Niu trailed behind Chen Jing, all the while twisting his own hands as he sneered, “Boss, I do believe you’re being too serious. It’s just a little temple, even if they do have martial monks, how many are there left? If our brothers all work together, they would collapse in a short time.”

Chen Jing’s lips twitched: This second in command really have a bad way with words. Of course he knew that the Pushan Temple people are basically pushovers, but doesn’t he know anything about style? In this line of work, coolness is important, you know? We must rev up our troops with charisma.

 

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As this murderous looking bunch of bandits ‘march’ towards Pushan Temple, Su Nuan Nuan and Concubine Jing, who were still standing at the entrance, spotted them almost immediately.

“Have we displayed ourselves long enough? If we stand here any longer, won’t they take it as provocation, or think we’re up to something?”

There was a faint smirk on Su Nuan Nuan’s face as she eyed the group of bandits that were about 2 kilometres away.

Concubine Jing said mildly, “Those poor, fierce and murderous bandits probably couldn’t help themselves anymore after seeing old madam run off. They’re probably worried that we might escaped as well.” She then turned to face Su Nuan Nuan and slowly withdraw a long golden hair pin from her hair. In a low voice, she said, “Sister has a dagger from the lord, I too have this hairpin. The lord gave me this gold pin the day he redeemed me. I owe him a debt I could never repay, therefore, with this pin, I shall shed my blood in repayment…”

“Sister, what are you doing? Stop this nonsense at once!” Su Nuan Nuan was alarmed by Concubine Jing’s resolute expression and quickly snatched the pin away from her. She than looked for a place to stash this dangerous weapon, but saw nowhere safe to keep this thing. Finally, she just stabbed the offending pin into her own hair bun, she loudly exclaimed, “I’ve always thought you’re the calm and rational type, so why are you so muddle headed today? If you’re feeling depressed, you should have left with the senior madams, why stay here with me?”

Concubine Jing, “… …”

“Didn’t… sister say that… we’re sacrificing ourselves here?”

“I was just speaking randomly, you actually believe me?” Su Nuan Nuan glared at Concubine Jing and poked her fiercely in the middle of the forehead. “ Better a bad life than a good death, don’t you know this idiom?”

Concubine Jing, “… …”

The servants watching them, “… …”

At least Su Nuan Nuan was not so oblivious that she not realised just how weird the atmosphere had become. She realised of her words could demoralize the servants reflect badly on her, so she immediately coughed before turning to stare gravely at the few dozen or so female servants and said, “Though the words ‘sacrifice my life’ had been randomly said, it still remains true. However, this kind of negative thoughts is not useful when it comes to accomplishing things in critical moments. All of you keep this in mind, even if we have to die, we must pull at least one of those evil bandits with us. That way we will not sustain a loss, if we manage to drag down two, we’ll count it a profit. Remember, our lives are valuable, we must not let them simply take it from us.”

“Yes, we thank first madam for her teachings..”

When examined closely, these were merely words of encouragement meant for those struggling against death. Though they were touched by Su Nuan Nuan’s earlier performance, deep down the servants felt a sense of fury against the mistresses who had just abandoned them to their fate. In the end, everyone placed a very high value upon their own life. If this mistress did not value their life, which were like ants in the eyes of most masters and mistresses, would she even waste her breath to say these encouraging words to them?

Everyone here, mistresses, monks and servants all face one equal dilemma. Will they live to see the next dawn?

Therefore, when Su Nuan Nuan’s voice finally fell, it was as though there was a little more heat in their blood. In fact, their answer was so loud and heartfelt that she nearly leaped back in shock. Looking across at Concubine Jing, this foodie privately wondered: Just what did I say just now? Why is everyone acting like they just had a shot of chicken blood[1]? Or perhaps I have some hidden potential as a TED talk speaker or actress?

“Madam is a woman amongst all other women, this servant is ashamed of being so inferior.”

Concubine Jing beamed admiringly at her, which only caused more sweatdrops to pop out of Su Nuan Nuan’s forehead. This modern spirit had no idea that what she considered as normal and right in the modern world, that everyone’s life was of equal value, was something that was considered novel to these ancient women and slaves.

However, this was not the best time to ponder over everyone’s odd reaction. Those bandits were almost upon them. Su Nuan Nuan said to the abbot, “Great master, let’s go into the temple first. We’ll do everything as planned.”

“Amitabha, this way please, mistress.” The abbot’s respect for Su Nuan Nuan had gone up another level after seeing her inspire these dispirited group of people into a bunch of high spirited people. He bowed, and waved his hand to indicate for Su Nuan Nuan to go ahead of him.

Half of the martial monks had gone with the carriage group heading towards the Capital. Because of this, there were only a dozen or so martial monks left. This was not the Shaolin Temple after all, where every monk practice martial arts. In fact, they were lucky that a few Shaolin monks happened to be visiting their temple today, and thus bulked up their martial power quite a bit.

Thus, with these dozen or so martial monks, Su Nuan Nuan and her ragtag group of servants and monks, make a stand at the rear hall of the monastery.

 

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They had expected to face a bitter fight to get into the rear hall from the back gate. However, the expedition turned out to be more like a half-hearted game of hide and seek. After combing through the obvious areas where the ladies might have hidden themselves, the Slaughter Dog Gang eyed the tall gate with its sturdy door. Instead of being shut tight, as common sense dictated, it was slightly ajar. Just wide enough for one grown man to go through. It was incredibly suspicious.

“Damn it, they’re looking down on us.”

Chen Jing studied the heavy door. Somehow, it looked like the small opening in the doorway was grinning mockingly at them. Angered, he raised his hand and was about to order people to charge in when Top Dog came over to caution him, “Boss, please think thrice. There has to be a reason why the temple had been emptied out and the door left like this. There must be some kind of plan behind it, we must not be rash.”

“What if there isn’t any plan? Are we just going to just stand around here and wait forever? Have you forgotten that Zhuge Liang’s Empty Fort Strategy[2] has been made into an excellent play recently, I bet you anything that at least some of the women in there had seen it.” snapped Cheng Jing as he grabbed Top Dog up by the collar of his shirt.

The truth was, even Cheng Jing himself was feeling a little anxious. He paced about a few times like a trapped animal, but in the end he could not fight his instincts as a bandit. He stopped, and glared at the slightly ajar door. He ground his teeth and said, “Your mom, I don’t care anymore, what could a bunch of women and monks do anyway? Egg Two, Long Horse, go and scout.”

[Gumihou is sniggering inappropriately at the names]

The two named bandits saluted loudly and strode towards the doorway. They peered through the crack and saw that the entire temple looked like it had been abandoned. Not a single sound could be heard. For some reason, these normally fearless bandits with guts that could engulf the sky suddenly felt a tingling numbness creeping up their scalp. However, they could not disobey the Boss’ orders. The two of them exchanged a look, as though to gather strength from each other and pushed open the door.

They tiptoed in anxiously, their necks twisting about to try and look in all directions at once. The kept close to the wall like thieves, when suddenly, a rush of wind sounded behind them. They turned to look, but it was too late.

[Thump, thump.]

One strike each on the head with a sturdy stick and both bandits fainted dead away.

 

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“Did we get them? Brother Dong, did we… really get them?” it was the servant boy, Shi Qi[3], that had gone down the hill to investigate matters under Su Nuan Nuan’s orders. He looked down at the fainted bandits, unable to believe his luck.

“Don’t talk nonsense, of course we got them. However, we’ve also violated madam’s orders. Let’s tie them up first and get instructions from madam on what to do next.” senior servant Wang Dong was not as excited as Shi Qi. He unwrapped a strong rope that had been wound around his waist and tied the two bandits up. They each grabbed one bandit and quickly made their way towards the rear hall where Su Nuan Nuan and the rest were hiding.

 

As expected, Su Nuan Nuan eyed the two bandits the way one might eye a rat brought in by the cat. Surprised, but not at all happy. She frowned at Wang Dong, “Weren’t you out investigating the situation? Why did you bring these two back? What if you rouse the ire of those fierce killers? Moreover, neither of you know kungfu, still daring enough to attack these two, don’t want your life anymore?”

“Madam, we really had every intention of carrying out your orders. We really had no intention of doing anything to these two. However, when they were sneaking about, walking along like crabs just two or three steps in front of us the opportunity was too great. This one’s hands began to itch, so, after exchanging a look with Brother Dong, we attacked them, and came back with success.”

As the witty Shi Qi made his explanation, he even imitated the two bandit’s sneaky way of walking, craning his neck to look about like demented bird, causing everyone to stare at him in aghast, unsure whether to laugh or cry. Qiu Ling stepped forward and said frostily, “You’ve ignored madam’s orders and still have the cheek to boast. Why don’t you hurry off and do your job properly now? What if someone really come when you’re not on lookout? Our deaths will be on your heads.”

Shi Qi grinned, “Didn’t madam say it’s fine if they come in? Our job is to stop their retreat, since our monk friends haven’t made a move yet, that means the bandits haven’t done anything yet. I’ve just helped reduce the number of enemies by two. Who dares to come in now? Aren’t they too daring if they do come?”

“Enough, stop it now. Go back outside and keep watch.”

Only after Concubine Jing had ordered him to, Shi Qi and Wang Dong cheerfully went out. Concubine Jing leaned towards Su Nuan Nuan to say, “Madam’s strategy of Deploying Troops to Distract has succeeded. The enemy will be overly cautious now. Our chances have increased.”

“It’s not enough with just this tactic.”

Su Nuan Nuan rubbed the crease between her eyebrows and muttered, “These bandits are used to killing. Once they’ve decided to simply use overwhelming force, we will lose a lot of people. We cannot frighten them too much and cause them to overreact. However, as you’ve said, we’ve bought some time.”

She had just finished speaking when the abbot said with a smile, “Madam, Mo Ji and Hui Ming are here.”

Sure enough, sounds of people coming in was heard. Then, several monks appeared at door dragging something that looked like firewood through. Concubine Jing studied the items they brought in and saw that it was the branches of Wild Jujube she had seen earlier while admiring the chrysanthemums. Because these type of trees were covered in little thorns, they were also called Thorny Jujubes. Country folk use these to make barricades around fruit or vegetable patches to guard against thieves.

 

[Gumihou: Oh no, you didn’t! Nuan Nuan, that’s so cruel!]

 

[1] A shot of chicken blood or Chicken-blood therapy – a pseudo-medical therapy popular in China during the Cultural Revolution. Here’s the wiki on it!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken-blood_therapy

[2] Zhuge Liang’s Empty Fort Strategy – Here’s a clip from the Three Kingdom on this strategy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSIQvswk4sU

[3] Shi Qi or 十七 – literally Seventeen.

 

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Translated by Gumihou from kitchennovel dot com.

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