Immortal - Book 1: Chapter 26
What Zhong Shan had ordered were all the best dishes in the restaurant. He didn’t even look at the menu and ordered directly. The waiter could tell that the two people in front of him must be either rich or nobles and gladly took down the order.
The dishes came not long after.
Tianling-er absent-mindedly ate a few bites while her eyes remained fixed on the gambling table down below. Every time the gamblers yelled, it was like a constant reminder to Tianling-er, telling her how fun the game was.
Zhong Shan laughingly shook his head. For every first timer in a gambling house, the reaction was the same. Yet, they didn’t know how deadly the attraction was.
“Hurry, eat!” Tianling-er hurried Zhong Shan.
When Zhong Shan was about to say something, he frowned and looked over to a table not too far away. Since Zhong Shan had sensed that the man at that table was staring at him.
Staring at him?
The dishes on that table were as good as theirs. A vigorous man, about 30 years old, clad in a white robe sat at that table. There was a spear set on the table; a silver white long spear.
A magical item?
Zhong Shan could tell just from one look that the spear was a magical item made with a Kong Ling Gem?
That man was holding a cup of liquor at the moment. He looked over at Zhong Shan, frowned slightly, then suddenly spoke with uncertainty, “Zhong Shan?”
This man could recognize him right away? As he was now, Zhong Shan had the same appearance as when he was thirty? Even his adopted sons couldn’t recognize him?
Zhong Shan seriously looked at this man. All of a sudden, a memory came across his mind.
It was fifty-one years ago.
Zhong Shan had endured great difficulties and finally reached the gate of an Immortal School. He had knelt before the gate for three days and three nights to beg to be taken as a disciple of the school. Yet no one at the school would take him.
It was the season for the Dragon Gate Tournament which was held every fifty years.
There were streams of people coming back with their new disciples. But none of them paid any attention to Zhong Shan.
At the time, it was this same man, also clad in a white robe, who came back with his master who had chosen him at the Dragon Gate Tournament. He happened to see Zhong Shan kneeling in front of the gate.
“Master, you said this man had knelt here for three days and three nights?” This man asked.
“This person is called Zhong Shan. He’s lacking good innate talent and won’t amount to much in his lifetime.” The master said.
“But he’s tenacious. Besides, he had knelt here for three days now. Master, why don’t you take him as your disciple, whether he can make it or not will be up to him.” The white robed man said.
“Stop, Zhao Suoxiang, this is an immortal school, not your battlefield in the mortal world. The ability to persevere isn’t enough.” The master angrily scolded.
“Yes, sir.” Zhao Suoxiang nodded. He then shook his head, sighed, and followed his master into the Immortal School.
That was the day he saw this man, Zhong Shan suddenly remembered. In those days, he had visited many immortal schools, but this man was the only one who had tried to help him. Even though he didn’t successfully persuade his master, Zhong Shan had always kept him in mind.
“Zhao Suoxiang?” Zhong Shan immediately got up and looked over.
“Haha, it is really you, Zhong Shan.” Zhao Suoxiang picked up his spear and walked over. He sat down, without invitation, right next to Zhong Shan.
“Zhong Shan, who is this?” Tianling-er immediately asked.
“Iron Spear School, Zhao Suoxiang.” Zhao replied to Tianling-er directly.
“Kaiyang School, Tianling-er.” Tianling-er also introduced herself. This was common etiquette to greet other members of another immortal school.
“Kaiyang School?” Zhao Suoxiang looked over at Zhong Shan quite amazed.
It was hard to believe that Zhong Shan, who couldn’t even get into one of the lesser immortal schools in those early days, but now he was in one of the great immortal schools, the Kaiyang School.
“Zhong Shan xiong, congratulations.” Zhao Suoxiang promptly congratulated Zhong Shan.
“Same to you.” Zhong Shan replied.
“Zhong Shan, enjoy your meal. I’ll go down to take a look.” Tianling-er couldn’t wait any longer. After she told Zhong Shan, she rushed down the stairs.
Zhong Shan shook his head in amusement as he watched Tianling-er. It should be alright since he was sitting right above.
“Why are you here, Zhao xiong?” Zhong Shan turned around to look at Zhao Suoxiang.
“I was originally a general from Da Song Kingdom. Fifty-one years ago, I was fortunate enough to be taken into the immortal school. I’m now doing my training outside the school and passing through this town. Something happened here so I’m staying here for now. I come out to walk around today and didn’t expect to see you here.” Zhao Suoxiang heartily laughed.
“Indeed, it’s very unexpected. Zhong Shan still remembers that day vividly when you tried to persuade your master. Even though I didn’t get into the school, I’m still greatly appreciate your assistance that day.” Zhong Shan solemnly said.
Zhong Shan was a person who made clear distinctions between acts of kindness and animosity. Though he didn’t get Zhong Shan into the immortal school in the end, Zhong Shan still remembered his kindness when he tried to help.
“Haha, I didn’t really help you, no need to thank me. Besides, if you made it into my school, you wouldn’t have had the great fortune to get in the Kaiyang School later.” Zhao Suoxiang laughed.
“There’s no need to be so polite between us. You can just call me Zhong Shan.” Zhong Shan also smiled.
“Alright, you can call me Suoxiang also, or Zhao Suoxiang. Either will be fine.” Zhao Suoxiang said.
“Suoxiang, please.” Zhong Shan nodded and raised a cup of liquor towards Zhao.
Zhao Suoxiang also raised his cup. Both of them drank the whole cup in one gulp.
“Kaiyang School sent all of you to train outside this time, is it also for that guy named ‘Hao San’?”
Zhao Suoxiang suddenly asked.
When Zhong Shan heard Zhao Suoxiang, he frowned. It sounded like everyone was looking for Hao San. He had thought that only Kaiyang School was looking for him, but now he realized it wasn’t so.
“That’s right. Who is this Hao San anyway?” Zhong Shan asked.
“Not really sure. But I heard from my master that one day, all the immortal schools knew about Hao San and all of them are looking for him. Alive or dead, there will be a great reward for anyone who can catch him. Nowadays, all the people who are training to become immortal seem to know about this person.” Zhao Suoxiang shook his head.
The two of them kept chatting.
Downstairs, at the entrance to the lobby, a man clad in a black robe, with a sword on his back, slowly walked in with several people reverently leading the way.
The doorman was going to welcome this guest, but was dumbfounded when he saw those who were leading the way. One of them was the owner of the Golden Brick House. The usually domineering boss was suddenly politely bowing to this black robed man?
“Where is Zhao Suoxiang?” The black robed man simply asked.
“He’s on the second floor. He’s eating at the second floor.” The owner instantly answered.
“En.” The black robed man nodded and was going to follow the owner to go up.
Half way on the staircase, the black robed man suddenly frowned and turned to look at a gambling table nearby in the lobby.
A group of people circled around the table. A young lady dressed in red was among them. She was very beautiful with smooth skin just like a porcelain doll. At this moment, there was a stack of silver notes plus a large amount of silver ingots in front of her and she was gambling against the person across from her.
The stack of silver notes had at least over one hundred sheets. Each sheet was one thousand ingots which was ten thousand tael of silver. One hundred sheets, one million tael?
However, to everyone’s surprise, this young lady in red kept losing money. The more she got anxious, the more she lost.
Yet, she had a lot of money. When she put all her silver notes on the table, everyone else left the table. They stood there watching the dealer win sheet after sheet.
The gamblers around all stopped gambling since it was a scene that one wouldn’t come across in a thousand years. Someone came here to lose a million silver?
“Young lady, do you still bet small?” The dealer asked.
“Yeah, I bet small, I bet small.” Tianling-er angrily threw out another ten thousand tael.
“Alright, no more bets. 4, 5, 6. 15, large.” The dealer opened the wooden box and showed the three dice in it.
“No, I want to check the dice.” Tianling-er immediately called out.
Yet, she couldn’t find any problem with the dice. There were six facets on the dice and every facet had a different number. Why then every time it came out large?
“Let’s do it again.” Tianling-er refused to budge and threw out another sheet of silver note.
On the stairs, the black robed man suddenly widened his eyes as he watched Tianling-er lose her money. However, it was not because of all the silver notes, rather it was her bracelet.
A storage bracelet?
When he saw the bracelet, the black robed man turned around to whisper to the owner.
“Yes, young master Tang, just watch me.” The owner excitedly said.
“En.” The black robed man nodded and followed the owner down the stairs.
After chatting with Zhao Suoxiang for a short while, Zhong Shan felt that Zhao was a person worth being friends with. Based on his past experiences, Zhong Shan was sure that Zhao was a honorable and reliable man. They both enjoyed their conversation.
Downstairs, however, Tianling-er was anxious. Zhong Shan gave her one million silver; though he didn’t tell her how much was one million, Tianling-er still knew she had lost big this time. She wanted to win the money back, but she lost every bet. Was she really just having bad luck?
While Tianling-er was anxious, she suddenly noticed the expressions of the onlookers’ face, sympathy, pity, and ridicule.
Though Tianling-er was naive, she was not stupid. She was sure there was something fishy going on.
Were they cheating her? She was sure there was something wrong, but where was the problem? She hadn’t seen them play any sort of trick?
In front of her, there were only two sheets left, twenty thousand tael. On the dealer side, there was a thick stack of sheets, nine hundred eighty thousand tael.
“Young lady, do you want to continue?” The owner of Golden Brick House asked with a smiling face. The dealer and the black robed man stood next to him.
Tianling-er saw the people in front of her and knew they were trying to con her money, but she just couldn’t figure out what was going on. She didn’t know what to do, the money that Zhong Shan had given to her was almost gone.
Tianling-er was extremely agitated.
“How about this, young lady, if you have anything valuable, for example your bracelet, you can use it the same as silver.” The owner said.
“Same as silver?” Tianling-er frowned. There were some good stuff in her storage bracelet, but would they recognize it?
“That’s right, I think you are the same as I. Here, I have a Kong Ling Gem plus these nine hundred eighty thousand tael of silver. If you have anything of value, we can gamble one more time.” The black robed man suddenly spoke.
The black robed man meant to tell Tianling-er that he was also from an immortal school, therefore, if she had any good stuff, he would be able to recognize it.
Looking at that thick stack of silver notes, Tianling-er clenched her teeth. She didn’t really care about that Kong Ling Gem, but those silver notes, though she didn’t know the real value of them, they belonged to Zhong Shan. Zhong Shan had let her spend them as she wish but she didn’t want to lose all of them just like this.
Tianling-er didn’t want to, really didn’t want to.
Should she bet or not? Early on, she had won a few hands, maybe, just maybe the next hand she would also win. Tianling-er struggled inside. She looked in distress, Tianling-er didn’t want to lose her own treasures, at the same time, she wanted to take back that stack of silver notes.
“Kong Ling Gem? What a generous hand. Let me do it.”
While Tianling-er was torn in anxiety, Zhong Shan’s sneer came from behind.