Chapter 109 – The Price of Kneeling

In this world, three pills were the hardest to swallow: the bitter realities of human relations, emotions, and the situation at hand!

Wu Tianhao had lived more than half his life.
Both becoming a towering figure of the southwestern district’s underworld and remaining alive and well to this day were proof that his reputation wasn’t undeserved.

But now, bean-sized beads of sweat dripped from his forehead.
His expression went rigid as he looked at the chamberlain. Yuan Luoyu?

The chamberlain fell to his knees with a thud, then said in a quavering voice, “Boss, you’re not mistaken.
It is indeed the second young master of the Yuan Family.”

Wu Tianhao felt his mind buzz.
Then, it was as if an explosion went off in his mind, and everything went dark.

Although he remained outwardly calm, waves of shock coursed through his heart.

In the Cloudriver Prefectural Capital, there was only one Yuan Family.

And the Yuan Family only had one second young master: Yuan Luoyu!

Suddenly, Wu Tianhao realized something.
“My folding fan….
How could it possibly appear before the second young master of the Yuan Family?”

The chamberlain gulped.
“According to the Black Tiger Gang, when they went to deal with the culprit, Second Young Master Yuan was on the premises as well….”

Wu Tianhao sucked in a breath of cold air.

He was well aware that the Black Tiger Gang was a bunch of small-time thugs.
He knew what they were like, and he didn’t even need to think to know that they’d waved his fan about threateningly.
In doing so, they’d carelessly offended Yuan Luoyu.

Dammit! Wu Tianhao had refined his temperament for years, but now, he almost couldn't resist the urge to scream and curse.

The kneeling chamberlain stuttered, “Sir, Second Young Master Yuan had them pass on a message.
He said you should go… go in person….

“Apologize, right? That’s for sure.
In the Cloudriver Prefectural Capital, my prestige could be much greater than it is now, and compared to the Yuan Family’s second young master, I’d still be worth less than a fart….” Wu Tianhao let out a long sigh.
He felt inwardly conflicted.

Others might look at him and think his glory limitless.
Little did they know, an underworld boss like him was completely beneath the notice of the city’s true top-level factions.

“But this, in my life, I’ve known numerous distinguished authority figures.
If I go apologize in person, so long as I show enough sincerity, Second Young Master Yuan is unlikely to take this any further,” Wu Tianhao murmured.
He had already started considering how best to resolve this without leaving any loose ends that could lead to further disaster. 

It would, of course, be even better if he could turn this misfortune into an opportunity.

But the kneeling chamberlain looked dumbfounded.
He couldn’t help but add, “Sir, Second Young Master Yuan said that he wanted you to kneel before him in Bottlegourd Alley, and that he wanted you there within fifteen minutes, or else he’d lead his men and wipe out your entire estate….”

He said all that without pause, and by the end, he was panting for breath.

Wu Tianhao felt as if someone had smacked him over the head with a stick, hard.
His face went white, his hair stood on end, and his hands and feet quivered.

A few days ago, when the leader of the Black Tiger Gang, Lu Quan, came to beg for aid, he thought nothing of it.
He even thought he could turn a bit of a profit. 

But now….

Wu Tianhao already felt a sense of impending doom!

He’d worked without cause for alarm for years, but now, he was really panicked.
There was no trace of his usual grace or composure, nor did he have the bearing befitting of “the man behind the curtain.”


He slammed his fist against the covered bridge’s white railing, shattering it.
He was already burning up with anger, his expression murderous as he gnashed his teeth and spat, “Where is that blasted Lu Quan? How dare he do this to me? Does he really think that just because it’s been a long time since I last killed anyone, I can no longer lift my saber?”

The chamberlain sobbed, “Sir, what do we do?”

The young concubine was already so scared that the blood had drained from her face, and she collapsed to the ground in terror. When he saw this, Wu Tianhao pointed at her and shouted, “What’s that look supposed to mean? Are you planning my funeral already? Get the hell out of here!”

The concubine scampered off in a panic, but her heart filled with resentment. Weren’t you just saying something about how no scenery could outdo the beauty of my blushing face? Now you’ve turned around and insulted me for looking like I’m at a funeral!

Men really are all the same, regardless of age! None of them are any good!

Wu Tianhao took a deep breath to calm himself down.
He quickly recovered some of his usual valiant bearing, then said decisively, “Go to the storehouse and have someone bring up all the treasures I have in the hidden vault on the lowest floor!

“We won’t get through this unless we open up a vein! It doesn’t matter if I have to throw all my dignity away; it’s highly likely that we’ve already been pushed into the abyss.
Now that this has happened, my entire household already faces annihilation.
After all, if I fall, the wolves of the southwestern district are sure to come try and take a bite out of us!”

The chamberlain nodded repeatedly.

Murderous intent surged around Wu Tianhao.
“Go tell Zhong Wen that he’s to lead a group and raid the Black Tiger Gang.
No matter what, he’s to come back carrying that dog Lu Quan’s head!”

“Yes, sir!” The chamberlain nodded repeatedly.

Wu Tianhao left.
He no longer hesitated.

Although he seemed composed, his silhouette was incomparably desolate, and waves of confusion surged through his heart. They say the culprit is connected to the slum-dwellers of Willow Alley.
Just who could he be?


Just fifteen minutes later.

Wu Tianhao raced over on horseback and rode into Bottlegourd Alley.

When he reached Humble Tranquility Cottage, he leaped from his horse and, with no regard for how flustered and out of sorts he looked, he took a deep breath and bowed.
“Wu Tianhao has come to apologize!” 

The cottage gates were already open.
From Wu Tianhao’s position, he could see Yuan Luoyu’s hulking frame, as well as Yuan Luoxi and Cheng Wuyong.

At that moment, any lingering hope he had that this was just a misunderstanding shattered.
He felt a chill course through him, and he shuddered. 

Yuan Luoxi! The apple of the Yuan Family Head’s eye!

Cheng Wuyong! He was an elder of the Yuan Family, despite not sharing their surname, and a peak Qi Accumulation Realm expert!

Add them to the towering Yuan Luoyu, and he felt as if he faced three enormous mountains.
Just looking at them, Wu Tianhao felt as if his spine might break beneath the pressure.

As expected, an underworld boss, someone who can only hide himself in the darkness, is lower than a dog in the face of true authority. Huang Qianjun sighed to himself.

In less than fifteen minutes, the man who’d long occupied the throne of the southwestern district’s underworld, Wu Tianhao, appeared, spoke humbly, and bowed!

Beneath the gazebo, Su Yi lay sprawled in his wicker chair, eyes almost closed as he pondered the secrets and profundities of the secret soul art, the Great Void Soul Sword Incantation.

It was this very secret method that he’d used to slay a Grandmaster’s soul aboard the tower ship. 

But just unleashing the incantation once practically drained the power of his soul.

Fortunately, days and nights of refining his soul with the Universal Self-Embodiment Sutra meant that he could already freely unleash a portion of the Great Void Soul Sword Incantation’s power.

Feng Xiaoran sat obediently off to the side, waving a cattail fan to help Su Yi keep cool.

Only Feng Xiaofeng and A-Fei were surprised.
As people who’d grown up in Willow Alley, how could they not know of Wu Tianhao’s prestige?

Yet now, Wu Tianhao was as panicked as an old dog.
He’d come all the way here to apologize!

The courtyard fell silent.
No one paid Wu Tianhao any heed; it was as if they didn’t even see him.

Seeing them ignore him, Wu Tianhao’s heart only felt heavier.
His forehead and temples were practically drenched in sweat.

“I know I was wrong.
My heart is filled with trepidation, but I hope a show of my sincerity will be enough to compensate for this!” With this, Wu Tianhao gnashed his teeth and waved a distant figure over.

The chamberlain rushed over, carrying a two-foot bronze box.


Wu Tianhao opened the bronze box and placed it on the ground in front of him.
Inside were the most precious treasures he’d accumulated over the course of his life, including tier-three spiritual medicines and extraordinarily precious spiritual materials. 

Their value was enough to make even Martial Dao Grandmasters red-eyed with greed!

Then, Wu Tianhao bowed at the waist.
“This is a token of my sincerity.
I hope that it’s enough to lay your fury to rest!”

They then watched as this old man, one who’d commanded the wind and rain for years, knelt on one knee.
His chamberlain watched, feeling both terrified and aggrieved.

This was the prestige of the Yuan Family! Monstrous and terrifying!

But what chilled both Wu Tianhao and the chamberlain to the core was that no one in the courtyard paid them any heed, even now.
It was as if they didn’t exist.

Wu Tianhao’s face instantly went ashen.

There was no way he’d misunderstand: the price he’d paid was far from sufficient!

When he realized this, he smiled bleakly.
Both knees bent, and he threw himself to the ground. “This old man humbly requests your forgiveness!”

Kneeling like this wasn’t simply an affront to his dignity.
No, it represented the end of the prestige he’d spent decades building! All of it had ended here!

“That old thing actually fell to his knees…..” Not far from Bottlegourd Alley, Lu Quan peered down at the courtyard through the window of the third floor of a restaurant.
His expression shifted dramatically.

He had a sudden sense of foreboding.
Earlier, he’d thought about nothing but how joyful it would be to drag Wu Tianhao underwater too.

But he never would have guessed that Wu Tianhao, a despot of the city’s underground, wouldn’t lead his people and slaughter his way into Bottlegourd Alley; instead, he actually flung himself to his knees!

“I’m finished! Whoever it was that ripped up the old man’s folding fan, he surely has extraordinary origins! Wu Tianhao must hate me to the core by now!” Lu Quan slumped as if he’d lost his soul.

“I have to flee! I can’t stay in the Cloudriver Prefectural Capital any longer!” Lu Quan turned to run.
He couldn’t be bothered to stick around and watch the show.

But as soon as he left the room, a cold, expressionless face greeted him.

Zhong Wen! The top fighter under Wu Tianhao’s banner!

Lu Quan felt his scalp go numb. What’s he doing here?

But before he could respond, everything went dark, and awareness left him.

Meanwhile, within Humble Tranquility Cottage, Yuan Luoyu glanced at the kneeling Wu Tianhao and snorted, “You think you’re tough, but aren’t you just another old dog?”

His words were utterly disdainful.
Wu Tianhao’s expression was as grim as if he were attending his parents’ funerals, but he looked numb.

“Young Lord Su, how do you think we should resolve this?” Yuan Luoyu turned to look at Su Yi, a hint of respect on his valiant, determined features. 

Young Lord Su? Wu Tianhao’s heart shook.
He already had a premonition that the young man lazing beneath the gazebo was the one who’d trounced the thugs of the Black Tiger Gang!

But what really made his heart shake was how much the second young master of the Yuan Family seemed to respect this “Young Lord Su.”

That was far beyond his expectations!

Wu Tianhao finally understood where he’d gone wrong.
Right from the start, he’d subconsciously associated this “Young Lord Su” with the humble poor of Willow Alley! 

“Xiaoran, how do you think we should resolve this?” Su Yi glanced at Feng Xiaoran, who was busily fanning him.

She froze briefly, then said, “Big Brother Su, you can decide how best to handle this, but, well, every injustice has its perpetrator.
It was the Black Tiger Gang that kidnapped me, so If I were the one getting revenge, I’d definitely go straight for the Black Tiger Gang.”

Wu Tianhao felt like a desperate man grasping at straws; he knew this was his last chance of survival.
“Miss, please rest assured! The Black Tiger Gang will disappear from the prefectural capital by the end of the day!”

Then, as if to prove the veracity of his words, a gaunt man hurried up to Wu Tianhao’s side and respectfully proffered up a still-bleeding severed head.

“Sir, this is Lu Quan’s head!”

Seth's Thoughts

This chapter begins with a play on words that doesn’t really translate smoothly into English.
The author didn’t come up with it, and it’s not really relevant to the story, so I just kinda conveyed the basic meaning and moved on.
“In this world, three pills were the hardest to swallow: the bitter realities of human relations, emotions, and the situation at hand!”

If you’re interested in the lost play on words, I’ll explain it here in more detail. 

The full Chinese phrase is: “人生有三碗面最难吃,人面、场面、情面。”

The character “面” means “face”, but also “aspect”, “surface”, “side,” and “noodles”.
Imagine translating the “cereal killer” pun in a language were “serial” and “cereal” sounded different.
It doesn’t work, right? I'm doing my best here!

Translated as literally as I can manage, you get

“世间有三碗面最难吃” = In this world, three bowls of noodles are the hardest to eat.


人面 = human “noodles” (which I’d translate as “face”, “a human face” or “dignity” depending on context)

情面 = feeling “noodles” (ie “feelings” or “sensibilities”)

场面! = place/stage “noodles” (ie “the occasion” or “situation.”

And “eat” can mean “swallow” or “accept” in certain contexts, kind of like the English phrase “a hard pill to swallow.”

So basically, “human relations, feelings, and (the reality of the) situation are the hardest things to accept.”

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