Or, Shenanigans with the Beggar Clan
I bet you thought that finding the Beggar Clan would solve all of Lotus and Guo Jing’s problems, didn’t you? With the power of the clan at their backs, Lotus and Guo Jing would set to righting all the wrongs that had been perpetrated on them. Foolish reader…
Still in the restaurant from the last chapter, the well-dressed beggars who had accompanied Yang Kang return to speak with Lotus and Guo Jing. The leader of the Washed beggars offers Lotus and Guo Jing an antidote to the poison they claim Surefoot Lu has dosed into their food. Ever suspicious, Lotus refuses, and asks the beggars to bring Yang Kang to them so that they may partake of the antidote together.
Their ruse discovered the lead beggar uses hypnotism/mesmerism to lull Lotus and Guo Jing to sleep.
Lotus and Guo Jing awake to find that hours have passed, and they are bound and gagged near the Terrace of the Yellow Emperor, on the shores of Dongting Lake. Guo Jing is trying to break his bonds, but they are too strong. They are guarded by sword-wielding beggars, and the Beggar Clan Assembly is about to happen.
The Assembly is led by the four elders, Surefoot Lu who leads the Unwashed, and the three elders of the Washed, Jian, Peng, and Liang, who we met in the restaurant. The Washed faction wants to live in comfort, and merely look like beggars, with clean, but patched clothing. They are ready to believe that Yang Kang is the new Chief because he seems to be aligned with their values.
The elders inform the assembled beggars of the demise of Chief Hong, as related by Yang Kang. Yang steps forward to tell the story, implicating Apothecary Huang and the Immortals of the Quanzhen Sect. He knows that Chief Hong was still alive but he’s counting on him to succumb to the injuries from Viper Ouyang’s Exploding Toad kung fu.
Bound and gagged, Lotus and Guo Jing can do nothing but silently fume at Kang’s lies. Yang stacks lie upon lie, until he finally says that Chief Hong has named him the nineteenth Chief of the Beggar Clan. The beggars are shocked that they might be led by such a young and obviously inexperienced man, but the three Washed elders are eager to support Yang’s claim.
Skeptical, Surefoot Lu asks to inspect the Dog Beating Cane, which Yang asserts as his claim to being Chief. When Lu is satisfied that it is indeed Chief Hong’s cane, he pledges his loyalty to Yang as the new chief and…
Spits in his face.
Yang Kang is then initiated into the role of Chief of the Beggar Clan, as every one of the beggars present line up to…
Spit in his face.
Yang endures this, and when it is over, he reveals that he has caught two of the accomplices to Chief Hong’s murder, Lotus and Guo Jing. The crowd erupts with calls to execute them, but Surefoot Lu knows these two, and he knows them to be disciples of Chief Hong. Vigor Li is also present, along with Prosper Yu, both men well aware of Lotus and Guo Jing’s relationship with Chief Hong. They all vouch for the young couple.
Surefoot Lu has doubts now, considering his great trust in Li and Yu. He asks to question Lotus and Guo Jing before they are punished. Yang refuses to remove their gags, only allowing them to answer by nodding or shaking their heads. In this way he uses Guo Jing’s simplicity to make him look bad by asking questions in a way to implicate him in Hong’s death. Lotus is enraged, but unable to help.
As the “evidence” mounts against him, Guo Jing seems to lose focus, staring at the stars and completely ignoring what is happening. Before they can be executed, Surefoot Lu removes Guo Jing’s gag in order to question him further, but Guo Jing doesn’t seem to hear him.
Before the swords descend on Guo Jing’s neck, the leader of the Iron Palm Gang makes a surprise appearance. It’s Qiu Qianren, and the beggars receive him as a powerful and honored guest. They stash Lotus and Guo Jing away for now in order to give Qiu the proper respect.
Yang Kang and Lotus remember Qiu from Roaming Cloud Manor as a fraud and charlatan. Yang, confident that he is more than a match for Qiu steps forward to take the other man’s hand, and is immediately smacked down as Qiu crushes his hand. The four elders of the Beggar Clan rush forward to protect their new chief, and Qiu stops them all with ease. He disarms Jian of his staff and flings it away, burying halfway into a massive boulder.
Lotus is shocked. This is not the kung fu fraud she has seen before. Is Qiu actually that strong, or is this more trickery? She concludes that Qiu must be employing more tricks, and he must be in league with Yang Kang.
Cowed, the beggar elder ask how they can be of service to Qiu. Qiu has come to save face as two of his men were set upon by members of the beggar clan, Vigor Li and Prosper Yu. Li and Yu claim to have adhered to their beggar clan rules, and fought with Qiu’s men in order to protect innocents. Yang just throws them under the bus, though, demanding that they beg Qiu’s forgiveness.
Caught between their new Chief, and their strict rules, Li and Yu fall on their swords rather than debase themselves to Qiu.
(This is not a good look for Yang Kang on his first day as Chief of the Beggar Clan.)
Qiu then says that he has arrived with a “suggestion” from the Sixth Jin Prince, Wanyan Honglie, that the Beggar Clan move south. Of course, this is to remove the clan’s members as obstacles to the Jin empire moving further into southern China. Yang readily agrees, as he understands his father’s plan.
Lu is shocked to see the new Chief behave as such. Chief Hong would have never bowed to Qiu Qianren! Words fly and the Washed and Unwashed begin to argue amongst themselves. Qiu grabs Lu and the two of them fight, but Qiu is far too powerful. Surefoot Lu is quickly subdued, and without any other options, rams his head into Qiu’s stomach.
Nothing. And somehow his head gets stuck in Qiu’s stomach. Thus trapped, Qiu then breaks both of Lu’s hands when he refuses to yield.
Ok, this next part is funny.
Guo Jing flies in and lands next to Surefoot Lu. Superhero landing! So picture Surefoot Lu, bent at the waist, his head stuck in Qiu Qianren’s belly. Guo Jing proceeds to spank Surefoot Lu.
Guo Jing has discovered how to strike, and transmit the force through an intermediary, without causing harm to it. The strikes harmlessly travel through Surefoot Lu, disrupt Qiu’s energy and free Surefoot Lu.
During all his stargazing and ignoring of the interrogation, Guo Jing had been studying the constellation of the Big Dipper, and thinking about what he saw when the Quanzhen Sect had combined their powers with the formation of the Northern Dipper. Guo Jing had an epiphany about two chapters in the Nine Yin Manual, Shrinking Muscles, Shortening Bone, and Transforming Muscles, Forging Bones. This allowed him to slip loose from his bonds and leap to Surefoot Lu’s aid.
Guo Jing fights the beggars, putting on a wild display of his new talents. He sends them flying left and right. He throws his shoes, striking with enough power to send men sprawling. He flies to Lotus’ side to free her. He fights with her sitting on his lap, using one hand to fight, and the other hand to untie his love and stroke her hair.
What a show off. 😊
Even when faced with the mighty Disciples of the Eight Pouches, Guo Jing still fights with Lotus in his lap and defeats them roundly.
Yang Kang rallies the beggars and the full might of the Beggar Clan advances on Guo Jing and Lotus. Row upon row of beggars march towards the young couple, forcing them towards a cliff. In a desperate/brilliant move, Guo Jing throws Lotus over the beggars, landing her right next to Yang Kang (for three!). Lotus busts out her Dog Beating Cane moves and relieves Yang of Chief Hong’s jade staff.
With the Dog Beating Cane in hand, Lotus cries for the beggars to stop attacking Guo Jing. She outs Yang Kang as the son of Wanyan Honglie, and in cahoots with the Iron Palm Gang. She also reveals that Chief Hong is actually still alive. This causes enough confusion to quell the fighting and allow Guo Jing to rejoin her.
Woo! Things are getting good now! Nearly at the end of A Snake Lies Waiting. See you next week for the final chapter!