Courtyard Valley

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Courtyard Valley A Death in Chunfen
Male Yumenite A icon.png
Angry Villager
Yanese Villager Male icon.png
Angry Villager
Yanese Villager Female icon.png
Astonished Villager
Male Yumenite B icon.png
Bystander Villager
Fang Xiaoshi's Father icon.png
Yanese Villager Male icon.png
Nervous Villager
Yishan Temple
Moushan Lot
Sargon House
Yan Alley Night
The villagers are extremely wary of Fang Xiaoshi, who left the village many years ago. In order to protect him from further danger, Qiubai stays behind and learns about a past event from the Clan Elder.
<Flashback starts here>
<Background 1>
Angry Villager Fang Xiaoshi! What are you doing up on the rafters?! Get down here this instant!
This is the Yishan Temple, so take your antics anywhere else but here!
Fang Xiaoshi Not a chance!
The village is so big, why did you have to dump this lousy temple on our family's land? You're just bullying us! Zhou Liu, why not dump it at your place instead?
Angry Villager You know nothing, brat. The temple has been protecting Moushan Village for a thousand years, you don't just pick it up and move it.
The entire village agreed to this arrangement, it's not up to you!
Fang Xiaoshi Bah!
Didn't this land used to be completely barren? Why didn't you say the feng shui was good then? You're telling me after all these years my dad worked to make the soil fertile, the feng shui just happened to improve at the same time?
I'll come out and say it, you thought you could step up and bully the only outsiders in this village. Well, let me tell you, you're wrong!
Dad might just take it, but I sure won't!
You want the temple to protect the harvest? Well, I wanna blow it up so we can actually grow something to eat!
Angry Villager You wouldn't dare—
[An explosion is heard.]
<Flashback ends here>
<Background 2>
[As the villagers stood in front of Xiaoshi's house...]
Qiubai So many faces showing up at your door upon your return. I've only seen that happen to gamblers.
Fang Xiaoshi ......
Qiubai Well, I guess you were talking at least a little truth on the way here. The villagers certainly don't want you around.
Fang Xiaoshi That's why I told you to not bring me here.
Qiubai But you never said why exactly...
The small yard is packed full of people, but none of the villagers move to start a conversation. They just stare at Qiubai and Fang Xiaoshi like the two of them are strange new beasts they can't let out.
??? *cough* *cough* Let... me through...
What's everyone bumbling about here for? Even Xiaoshi's manyue wasn't this lively...
A thin and tall man stumbles out from the crowd with labored breaths. His back, carrying a log, is as bent as the bow at his hip.
The man sights Fang Xiaoshi and freezes for a second, before quickly averting his gaze and slowly turning away.
Fang Xiaoshi Dad...
Nervous Villager Hunter...
Hey, don't you forget our agreement...
Hunter I don't forget.
But Xiaoshi has been away from home for three whole years. He should have something to eat first, shouldn't he?
[Xiaoshi's father looks at the villagers before looking at Xiaoshi.]
Hunter Let's head back. We can sort things out with the village later.
The fieldwork's already been lagging lately. In just a few days, Chunfen will have been and gone.
[The villagers disperse.]
Hunter ......
Fang Xiaoshi ......
Qiubai All that babbling on the way here, and you turn mute in front of your dad?
Fang Xiaoshi Dad... I found you.
Qiubai ......
The hunter presses his pale lips together, and without answering his son goes into the house, setting his log against the wall.
The boy freezes in place. Qiubai prods him with the hilt of her sword.
Hunter Please, Miss, have a seat. Thanks for bringing the kid home, I'm sure it took some effort. And please, have a drink.
Qiubai No need. I don't want to interrupt the reunion.
I'll take a look around the village.
Fang Xiaoshi I'll give you the tour...
Qiubai You stay put.
[Qiubai leaves.]
<Background fades out and in>
[While Qiubai walks through the village...]
??? Miss, Miss... if I could have just a moment?
Qiubai ......
[An old Kuranta approaches Qiubai.]
Amiable Old Man Zhou Liu is out there talking about a heroic heroine who brought Fang Xiaoshi home, so I had to see for myself.
Taking a look at you, you must be...
Qiubai I am called Qiubai, from Jianghu.
Amiable Old Man Everyone here in Moushan is of the Zhou Clan. I am Zhou Shun, village headman and Clan Elder.
Clan Elder Our village is tucked away here in the northwest reaches of Yan, so we hardly ever see strangers.
Qiubai Rest assured. I'm nothing but a Jianghu wanderer. I have no ill intent.
Clan Elder Oh, Miss, that's not what I meant to imply...
Qiubai I happened to come across the boy out on his own, so I took a little detour and brought him back here.
Clan Elder Miss, you're a chivalrous one.
Dear guest from afar, a poor village like ours has nothing much to offer, but if you don't mind...
A few meters away from them stands a well.
Something crashes into the bucket above the well, sending it to the bottom.
[Qiubai runs toward the well, and...]
A long sword juts out to hold the mechanism in place, pulling the rope taut.
Qiubai drags the bucket up.
[Qiubai returns to the old Kuranta and the village's clan leader.]
Qiubai Just a scared little burdenbeast.
Clan Elder Looks like the one from Zhou Dazhi's place...
Its mother died in childbirth, leaving this poor thing to grow up alone, so it's as tame as can be. It probably just got startled.
Qiubai It's not hurt, at least. Seems like it passed out from all the water.
Clan Elder Oh, about that... how did you move to the well so fast? I feel like my vision blurred for a moment...
Was that kung fu?
Qiubai The well is full of muddy water.
Clan Elder Yes... it was raining heavily last week, and the mud has yet to settle.
*sigh*, the last two years of drought have seen most of our crops wither away.
Qiubai No wonder there are so many wells around the village.
Clan Elder Heaven can be very unreasonable at times. We either get nary a drop, or a nigh disastrous deluge.
Miss Qiu, where did you come here from?
Qiubai Yumen.
Clan Elder But I believe I detect Jiangqi accent...?
Qiubai I was born there.
Clan Elder I see... If you came from Yumen, you must have entered the village from the north. Head further south, and you'll find a section of the Chidao washed away by a mudslide.
Qiubai Life is hard here.
With two raucous grunts, the young burdenbeast wakes up. The swordswoman loosens her grip, and it bolts around a corner in a blink, leaving nothing but a withered acacia tree in front of her.
It's already late March, but spring has apparently not yet come to this small, northwestern village.
Clan Elder Indeed, this is a perilous place. You said you came across the boy all alone? He must have gone through a lot after leaving the village.
Miss, I'd like to ask you something... what sort of trouble did the lad get up to out there?
Qiubai No trouble to speak of. He was just lost out in the wilderness.
Clan Elder That boy has been particularly rowdy, ever since he was little.
Qiubai Elder, I have some questions about Fang Xiaoshi.
The villagers... they seem hostile toward the boy?
<Background 3>
Hunter ......
Fang Xiaoshi ......
After a long period of silence, the man turns around and goes into a back room. He soon returns with a pile of beasthides and bones.
Hunter Take these.
Fang Xiaoshi Dad? What for?
Hunter This is all we have. Spring has barely come, so prey has been scarce. But they're still worth something. Give them to her as payment.
Fang Xiaoshi ......
Hunter Is it not enough?
We don't have anything else, so I guess I'll beg her for mercy... although she doesn't seem like the talkative type.
Fang Xiaoshi She's not a debt collector!
Hunter You must've stolen or broken something, why else would she walk you all the way back here?
Fang Xiaoshi ......
Do you really think I can't do anything right?
Hunter You've done more than a little wrong...
<Flashback ends here>
<Background 1>
[The explosion breaks the temple's door.]
Astonished Villager Tian ah![note 1] This door... this pillar... it's been split in two...
The temple stood here for centuries, protecting us, but it's been ruined... such disrespect!
Angry Villager Well, it's lucky the ancestral tablet seems mostly fine. Enough kowtowing already, let's find whoever did this.
Astonished Villager Say... Where's Fang Xiaoshi? Gone without a trace...
Angry Villager I think the kid got caught up in the explosion, I saw him bleeding and limping out of the village. He had so many bombs on him... serves him right.
Astonished Villager What?!
All for a piece of land we could have negotiated over. We definitely could have resolved this peacefully.
Angry Villager Alright, alright. Go tell the Elder, I'll head to the hunter's place.
Astonished Villager Didn't you say he ran away from the village?
Angry Villager The kid was hurt pretty bad. I'd better get the hunter to look for him!
<Flashback ends here>
<Background 2>
Qiubai He blew up the village temple with his own explosives?
Three years ago... he was probably just eleven or twelve years old?
Clan Elder His father sometimes hunted with explosives to cave in beast nests and such. That child is as smart as he is audacious, and must've figured out how to make them too.
Qiubai From my personal experience... this certainly seems like something he would do.
It's the temple at the village entrance, isn't it? It looked pretty unique, even at a glance. Who's it dedicated to?
Clan Elder Our very ancestors.
Back in the day... eight hundred years ago, or a thousand? How long ago exactly, I'm not so sure myself. The story has been passed down from generation to generation, after all.
Anyway, in those times, there was nothing here but mountains, so dense that not even fowlbeasts could fly over.
Our ancestor, alone and armed with only a hoe, dug out a mountain and turned it into arable land, eventually forming this village.
You should have seen it on the way here, Miss? Barren land in all directions, as far as the eye can see, but here we manage to farm and feed our hundred or so people. We're sheltered from most Catastrophes.
Qiubai He took a hoe and plowed out a living from Heaven itself.
Clan Elder We call it the Yishan Temple, in thanks to our benevolent ancestor, and to commemorate that he lives on in us forever.
This here temple has blessed our Moushan village with a thousand years of peace and quiet.
We all know that a few measly buildings made of wood and dirt won't affect the harvest at all.
But us Moushan villagers have lived like this for generations. We have our nostalgia, and it puts our minds at ease.
<Background 3>
Fang Xiaoshi Dad, iff[sic] you want to yell at me, just do it.
The way you're staring at me, it's awkward.
Hunter You've grown tall, but not much otherwise.
You must not have been eating well while out there, all these years.
Fang Xiaoshi Of all the things to say...
Hunter As long as you're alive... that's all that matters... I was just worried...
How did you make your way here?
Fang Xiaoshi We walked along the Chidao, and occasionally hitched a ride with merchant caravans we came across, hopping on their burdenbeasts.
Hunter How long was the journey?
Fang Xiaoshi Probably about a month.
Hunter You went so far...
Fang Xiaoshi Dad...
All these years, you...
Hunter Barely making a living
The harvest has been getting worse these past few years. First, an infestation destroyed our crops. Then came the drought, Heaven refused to give us a single drop of water, not from the sky, not from the wells, no matter how many we dug.
And now this year, Chunfen has come. It's the right time for sowing, but then we face a brutal storm.
Who knows if the land has always been this temperamental, or if Heaven has turned against us.
Or maybe the village ancestors refuse to bless us...
Fang Xiaoshi And it's because I blew up that temple. That's what you want to say, right?
Hunter That's not what I meant...
Fang Xiaoshi That's what a lazy person would say.
"Farming is all about working the soil with the tool in your hand." That's what you told me.
The idol in the temple can't move, how could it help us with the harvest?
Hunter We can't say things like that... we've got to talk it through with them. Besides, we're the ones who wronged them first...
Fang Xiaoshi Dad, the villagers bully you because they think you're a coward!
What about the mountains slowly eating up the fields? Sooner or later, even the temple is going to get washed away by a mudslide. It's just a monument, why not put it in Zhou Liu's backyard? He has so much room and he's not even growing anything.
They bully us because we're outsiders!
Hunter *sigh* Let's just drop it already, alright...?
<Background 2>
Qiubai I see, so that's why the villagers had such a visceral reaction to Fang Xiaoshi.
Clan Elder ......
Well, not exactly.
We all thought the boy was already...
Qiubai ......
Clan Elder He was injured when he fled into the wilderness after blowing up the temple.
Qiubai Did you not look for him?
Clan Elder We did.
I gathered a party overnight and we spent several days searching dozens of li, to no avail.
Qiubai ......
Clan Elder I hear the villages of Jiangnan[note 2] stand out like bright lights in the darkness.
But for us here, in the mountains, all you see is gray and yellow, or boundless white in winter. Settlements look more like perfect hiding spots.
Beasts roam freely, so the roads are not safe. Sometimes, you even run into fleeing bandits.
So a boy that small, hurt so badly...
Qiubai Is still alive and well. Seems like the kid has been through a lot.
Clan Elder As long as he is safe.
Qiubai Elder, I have something to say...
Clan Elder Please, speak freely.
Qiubai I happened across Fang Xiaoshi, and brought him here. I have no reason to meddle in your village's affairs.
However, since I took on the initiative to bring him back, I am also responsible for his safety.
Clan Elder ...As you should be.
Qiubai I can't say I'm good at reading people, but after having traveled with him for a while, I at least understand him a little.
He may be stubborn and willful, but he is by no means a bad person.
So I hope you won't make things difficult for him.
Clan Elder Oh, I thought you were going to say something else.
Please, rest assured, Miss. We Moushan villagers may be poor, but we are reasonable people.
To hold a grudge... who or what exactly should we hold a grudge against? The mountains, Heaven, or...
A little boy around ten years old?
As you said, life is hard here. Moving the temple was just to put the villagers' minds at ease. Though now when I think about it, we were indeed quite inconsiderate at the time.
That is to say, I'm the one at fault here.
Qiubai You are a man of sense.
You don't have to explain it all to me. After all, Fang Xiaoshi did do wrong. If still hasn't matured, even after so much hardship these last three years, he will have to be disciplined.
Make mistakes, suffer the consequences, remember your actions and gain insight. That makes life less painful.
Clan Elder You're very perceptive.
Qiubai Not really.
I have my explanation, and I'm relieved.
Clan Elder Yes, yes...
<Background 3>
Fang Xiaoshi Yes, I bombed the temple. And after three years I, Fang Xiaoshi, have returned. If they can't get over that, they can come find me.
Even now, today, I still want to blow the thing up.
Hunter Fine, go do it! Blow it to pieces!
Three years ago, your nerve was as high Heaven itself, and now three years later, it's soared even higher.
What did you come back for? Just to blow it up and run away again?
Fang Xiaoshi ......
I'm done talking, Dad.
Hunter *sigh*
[Xiaoshi noticed a log that his father carries before.]
Fang Xiaoshi What did you bring that log in for anyway?
Hunter ......
...I'm making a coffin.
Your father's health is failing with each passing day, and all the money I saved for my burial went to rebuild the temple.
I didn't know if you were dead or alive, so I... I thought I should at least make my own coffin while I could.
Fang Xiaoshi Hey, come on, no need to talk like that...
Hunter I spent a whole month looking for you.
Fang Xiaoshi I was hurt. I passed out near the Chidao...
Hunter You sure are smart.
Fang Xiaoshi A caravan carrying goods from the mountains found me and threw me onto the back of some burdenbeast carrying fodder. By the time I came to, I was already in a nomadic city.
Hunter It's lucky some good people found you, and not a pack of beasts.
What happened after you healed up?
Fang Xiaoshi I, I decided to make a name for myself before coming back.
Why aren't you asking me what I did in the city?
Hunter If you actually accomplished something, there wouldn't have been a swordswoman escorting you home.
Fang Xiaoshi ......
Hunter I said it before, you can't bear to live here, but I'm afraid you'll suffer even more if you go out to a town or nomadic city. Returning with your life intact is already a blessing to me.
Fang Xiaoshi ......
Hunter I've never been to a city, so I have no idea of what it's like. When you feel like talking about it, you can let me know.
Fang Xiaoshi ...Okay.
Hunter So, are you going to cause a ruckus this time?
Fang Xiaoshi Only if they bully us.
Hunter You're still so stubborn...
The day you ran away, the Elder gathered up the whole village to help me look for you.
I live here alone, but the villagers don't give me a hard time. That plot of land you keep bringing up, haven't I been tending to it even now?
Fang Xiaoshi That just means they have some shred of conscience left in them.
Hunter Can you just promise your dad one thing?
Just stay here for good... and don't make a fuss about it...
Fang Xiaoshi ......
Fine, whatever you say.
<Background fades out and in>
Fang Xiaoshi So you're leaving? Going to Jiangnan?
Qiubai I have places to be. Bringing you back here has already delayed my journey by a lot.
Fang Xiaoshi Then there's no harm in delaying it a while more, right? It's dark already. Why not rest here a few more days and teach me some kung fu before you go!
Qiubai Didn't I teach you enough on the way here?
Fang Xiaoshi ......
Dad, let's...
Hunter Miss, thank you so much for bringing my boy home. We have nothing to repay you with...
Qiubai It's fine.
Hunter Since you're in a hurry, I won't pressure you to stay.
Qiubai Fang Xiaoshi, we may have met by chance, but I have some parting words for you.
The Jianghu can be vicious, and you have learned something, whether you wanted to or not. But now that you're home, you should make your peace and avoid causing any more trouble.
Fang Xiaoshi Hmph, I can make a name for myself wherever I am. One day, in Jiangnan, you'll hear all about the valiant Fang Xiaoshi's deeds!
Qiubai As long as I don't hear of you making mischief.
And whoever you trouble next, she may not be as forgiving as I am.
Fang Xiaoshi You, forgiving...?
Oh hey, can you say that line the heroes always say... the one in all the novels...?
Qiubai Hm?
Fang Xiaoshi "Jianghu zai jian."[note 3]
Qiubai Jianghu zai jian.[note 3] See you around, kid.
<Background 4>
Qiubai ......
Clan Elder Miss, let me see you off.
Qiubai No need to trouble yourself.
Clan Elder It's alright.
We haven't done any work on the roads for a long time, so they're full of holes. I'll guide you to the gate.
Qiubai ......
Qiubai walks at a brisk pace, and the old man quickens his steps to catch up, ending the conversation.
The sky gradually turns dark. It may be strange to ordinary folk, but Jianghu adventurers prefer to travel at night, using the darkness to their advantage.
The newly raised grave at the entrance of the village is stubby and inconspicuous, hardly visible in the twilight.
Qiubai ......
<Background 1>
Clan Elder Zhou Si, is everyone here?
Bystander Villager I'll count again, Elder.
Aside from Dayuan who stepped on his plow out in the fields today and couldn't make it, everyone else is here.
[Xiaoshi and his father enters the temple.]
Fang Xiaoshi The whole village is here, Dad? Isn't this a bit much for a welcoming party?
We're not Zhous, after all. Even when they had that meeting at the temple back then, there was nothing for us.
Hunter *sigh*
Considering what's happened today, and how we're mixed up in it...
Fang Xiaoshi ......
Three years later, Fang Xiaoshi stands once again before the temple. This time there are no explosives, and the man beside him is even older.
The wall he blew up has already been rebuilt and the statue of the mountain digger repaired, but the craftsmanship is a little lacking, and upon seeing this slightly amusing sight Fang Xiaoshi carelessly lets out a laugh.
There are several broken tiles on the floor, with bugs in the still-damaged ceiling forming layers and layers of webbing that blends into the wood.
Perhaps it is too dark to be certain, but he can't figure out if the temple was impossible to renovate, or if it was successfully repaired but has gradually returned to a dilapidated state.
Clan Elder ......
So, this is where we stand now.
Xiaoshi has apologized. He was still a child then, and the hunter has spent the last three years doing his best to help rebuild the Yishan temple.
Bystander Villager Come on, Elder. Let's get to the point already.
Fang Xiaoshi ......
Clan Elder Hunter, how many years has it been since you first came to the village?
Hunter This year-end, it'll be twenty one.
Clan Elder Your family is the only one with a different name, but you married a daughter of ours, so all these years you have been a part of our family.
Let our previous bumps in the road, misunderstandings and conflicts, all stay in the past.
From this day forward, the clan officially accepts you into our family and our ancestors will bless you with peace and prosperity as well.
Xiaoshi may change his family name to Zhou too, if he so wishes.
Fang Xiaoshi What?!
What are you trying to pull this time...?
Nuh-uh, I like my own name just fine. Why would I change it?
Elder, just come out and say what you mean already.
Clan Elder In the end... we are all one family, and that means we face our challenges together.
I gathered the whole village here today, to make one request:
Xiaoshi, for the sake of the village... can you pretend to be dead?


  1. Hanzi: 天啊, Pinyin: tiān à; "Oh my God" in Mandarin
  2. Hanzi: 江南, Pinyin: jiāngnán; referring to the historical Jiangnan region.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Hanzi: 江湖再见, Pinyin: jiānghú zàijiàn; lit. "See you again in the jianghu world"