A/N: Chapter is finally out. I've been spending more time putting the entire plotline together rather than writing chapters. Besides I only have a few hours per week to spend on this. You can expect another one by the end of the week though.
"Over here, over here!" Xiao Yan Zi yelled while banging a gong and jumping and skipping around, motioning everyone in the street to come over. A crowd gathered around in a wide circle surrounding her, Liu Qing and Liu Hong.
As soon as they were satisfied with the crowd that had gathered waiting in anticipation, Liu Qing spoke up cheerily, "Greetings everyone! Welcome. Let me introduce ourselves. I am Liu Qing, this is my sister, Liu Hong. Over there is Xiao Yan Zi, our best friend. We're from Shandong. Our parents passed away and we've travelled to Beijing to find our uncle. Unfortunately, we've hit a snag, it seems he no longer lives here, and while tracing down his whereabouts, we've run out of money. Therefore we have decided to give a performance to all of you, please offer some money so we can continue our search."
With that, Liu Qing and Liu Hong each grabbed a sword, and began sparring. Xiao Yan Zi stood off to the side, cheering them on. Liu Hong ran straight at Liu Qing, aiming her sword at his chest. Liu Qing crouched down, did a spin ducking the sword and lashed out at Liu Hong's feet, which she promptly did a backflip and slashed her sword back at Liu Qing, which he blocked with his sword. They clashed they swords over and over, lashing out and ducking blows, for quite a while. The crowd was clapping and cheering happily while yelling out encouragement.
Xiao Yan Zi started getting bored at the side and decided to join in. She grabbed a spear and aimed right in between the two just as they clashed their swords together again and started swinging the spear around like a cudgel, separating the two. The two staggered back, being unexpectedly disrupted and distracted. Liu Hong lost her balance and crashed to the ground behind her.
Xiao Yan Zi was still swinging her spear around crazily and out of control while yelling, "Ha ha ha! Liu Hong! One move and you're down already."
At that the crowd started cheering again, thinking that was part of the performance.
Liu Qing did a somersault in the air, grabbing the middle of the spear and pulled it from Xiao Yan Zi's hands and landed gently on the ground. Liu Hong had just stood up again, and sighed with her head in her hands.
Xiao Yan Zi cried out, "Hey! No fair! Give me that back!" She stood there sulking and pouting.
"What are you doing, can't you wait your turn?" Liu Qing yelled out.
"Why can't I join you? Is kicking a jianzi all you think I can do? And why do I have to do nothing while you're here having all the fun?" Xiao Yan Zi replied. "Look," she scanned the crowd, that was laughing, clapping, and yelling encouragement. They all realized by now it wasn't part of the performance. Some found it distracting but most found it even more entertaining. "They seem to be even happier since I came out."
Unbeknownst to them, off to the side, Zi Wei and Jin Suo had wandered up, hearing the commotion. They immediately recognized the three.
Jin Suo asked, "Hey weren't those the three that had crashed the wedding yesterday? What's going on here?"
Zi Wei answered, "Looks like they were performing, but it turned out to cause a huge argument instead.
Liu Qing and Liu Hong looked at each other, shook their heads. They thought they should have figured something like this would happen.
Liu Qing was finally persuaded, "Fine, fine. Let's do it empty handed though." He took all weapons and dropped them off to the side.
Zi Wei nudged Jin Suo, "Let's stay further back this time. If anything goes flying..."
The three of them then started exchanging punches, kicks, hits with the crowd still cheering wildly. It ended in disaster however, when Xiao Yan Zi did a backflip and crashed into the crowd that was unable to avoid her then rolled onto the ground.
"Ow!" she yelled, clutching her shoulder. She stood up and looked angrily at the crowd, which was now being helped to their feet by Liu Qing and Liu Hong. "Why didn't you stand back, you weren't supposed to get in my way." She proceeded to yell over and over again, this time scaring the crowd. They started to dissipate.
"Hey, don't go! We're not done yet! You haven't paid yet. We did give a performance." She grabbed a basket and tried getting the crowd to offer up some money. Few did however, even when she chased after them.
Liu Hong ran over and grabbed Xiao Yan Zi by the arm pulling her back. "Look at what you did. You now scared everyone away. To get as much as we did was plenty. Let's go home now. This is over with." Xiao Yan Zi had no choice but to give up. However, she didn't want to go home. She sulked off and started wandering in circles all over the streets instead with Liu Qing and Liu Hong unable to persuade her to go home.
Zi Wei and Jin Suo were wandering around the streets again. They had left with the crowd that had wandered off after Xiao Yan Zi crashed into the crowd.
"I don't think I can take it anymore when those three are around. Actually that one girl in particular. She seems to cause all the trouble." Jin Suo said. "I do have one idea though. Weren't they performing for money? With our lack of funds can't we do a performance as well?"
Zi Wei pondered for a minute, "I don't know how."
Jin Suo said, "Who said we had to copy their performance? We don't know any kung fu, but you are very smart. You can impress everyone with your poems and you can play the qin. You can do a lot. We can at least try."
Zi Wei responded, "Maybe. But these people may not understand poems much. They would be impressed but they wouldn't understand the poems. And I don't have a qin right now. Mine was sold with everything else before we left Jinan."
Jin Suo replied, "We still have some money left. We can used it to buy one. We can earn the money back."
It's exactly what they did. They had managed to gather quite a large crowd while Zi Wei played and sang Shan Shui Tiao Tiao. Jin Suo was standing patiently next to her, smiling.
Xiao Yan Zi, Liu Qing and Liu Hong were in the crowd too, stuck somewhere near the back at first as the crowd was too large with everyone bumping into another. Halfway through the song, Xiao Yan Zi finally managed to make her way up to the front, yelling for Liu Qing and Liu Hong to come over. Finally she saw the performer.
"Hey, those were the girls we bumped into at the wedding. I didn't know they were so talented." Xiao Yan Zi squealed in delight. She then turned to Liu Qing. "I never heard anything like this before. It was great. What was that she was singing? Shan shui tiao tiao? I've heard of jumping water but never a jumping mountain."
"Huh?" Liu Qing replied, bewildered. "I wasn't paying that much attention to the lyrics."
Xiao Yan Zi playfully punched him in the shoulder, pouted and went to focus her attention on the two girls again.
However, they were done. Jin Suo was going around collecting money from people. One burly man refused to give any and started yelling. "Hey, only one song? More please. What kind of a performance is this." A few of his goons around him echoed the same thing. They started pushing Jin Suo away, knocking the tray full of coins over and they scattered around the ground. Zi Wei saw that there was a problem and was about to intervene when Xiao Yan Zi ran up and stared yanking the goons away from Jin Suo and kicked them to the ground. Liu Qing and Liu Hong joined in and in no time had everyone pinned to the ground and cowering, unable to get up.
"Who the hell are you? How dare you come up and start beating on us?" The burly man replied.
"Hey, who are you yourself? If you want more songs you just start bullying people? You can't just ask?" Liu Qing yelled.
At this point, Zi Wei had already ran over to Jin Suo and helped her off the ground and hung back while the fight had ensued.
Zi Wei checked Jin Suo and sighed as she was not hurt, the hint of worry escaping her mind. They stood there in the front of the crowd while watching the fight.
"Those three, they were the ones wrecking Official Liang's wedding. Of all people I never would have thought the ones helping us would be them. Are they good or bad people?"
The man and his goons accepted defeat and ran away before they were beaten to pulp.
Xiao Yan Zi ran over to Zi Wei and Jin Suo and cried out, "Are you two okay?" When they nodded, she continued, "If anyone bothers you again I'll beat them to a pulp and won't let them run. Oh, and do you remember me? We were there at the Liang residence. I saw you two try to talk to Official Liang. What for? He's very greedy and bad man. He causes everyone so much trouble. Giving him trouble was the least we can do."
"We have something important information. We don't know who else to tell. I didn't know he was a bad official." Zi Wei replied.
"Good thing he wouldn't listen to us. I wouldn't know what he would do if we actually told him." Jin Suo replied.
Liu Qing and Liu Hong came over with a full tray of coins that they had finally picked back up and handed it over to the two girls.
Suddenly Zi Wei yelped out. "Hey where is my bundle?" She checked all around the ground next to her.
Xiao Yan Zi asked, "Huh, what bundle? I never saw a bundle."
They looked all around them, most of the crowd had disappeared. Zi Wei saw a man was kneeling at the side of one building, with a wide grin on his face, was unwrapping some cloth. "That man over there, he's got my bundle!" she yelled out and pointed. It attracted the man's attention and he hastily wrapped the bundle again and started running. "Hey that's mine, give it back," she continued to yell and run after him with Jin Suo lagging behind, as she was carrying the guzheng.
Xiao Yan Zi, Liu Qing and Liu Hong raced ahead of the two after the thief as well. They ran through an alley to the next intersection and caught a glimpse of the thief again, running into yet another alley. The three split up to gain time. The thief was running around in a circle, having got lost in the numerous alleys.
Liu Qing was first to race down one alley cutting off the exit for the thief. He ran into another alley, only to be cut off by Liu Hong. He ran into yet another alley, this time to be cut off by Xiao Yan Zi. All 3 closed in on him. Zi Wei and Jin Suo had finally caught up and were watching from one side. He got scared and threw the bundle into the air and ran away while they were distracting by the flying bundle. Xiao Yan Zi jumped up into the air, grabbing the bundle and landing on the ground. She let out a huge sigh. Everyone ran up to her. Zi Wei took the bundle and cried, "Oh, thank you. You saved my life. This bundle is my life."
"Make sure that everything's there. What if he made off with something."
Zi Wei took the suggestion and upwrapped it, revealing a fan and a scroll. "It's all here." She sighed again and wrapped them back in the bundle.
"What?" Xiao Yan Zi was shocked to see the contents. "A stupid fan and scroll? That was all that was in there? What junk. I wouldn't have run after that if I knew beforehand." She started to continue, but Liu Hong cut in with a "Shhh"
Jin Suo replied, "No matter what everyone thinks. But it's xiao jie's life. It's the most important items she carries and exactly why we are here. Helping her get that back is worth everything to her."
"Thanks so much for your help. Perhaps we'll meet again." Zi Wei replied. She and Jin Suo started to walk away.
."Where are you going?" Xiao Yan Zi asked.
"To find an inn." Zi Wei answered.
"Oh. I forgot, you have to be from elsewhere to not know how bad Official Liang is. Why don't you come stay with us. We have a house called Da Za Yuan and lots of people live there. Little children and the elderly. We look after them." Xiao Yan Zi replied.
Zi Wei looked at Jin Suo then looked back to Xiao Yan Zi. "Not a bad idea at all. I don't think we've been introduce. My name is Xia Zi Wei, this is my servant Jin Suo."
"Nice names. My name is Xiao Yan Zi. These are my best friends Liu Qing and Liu Hong. They're brother/sister." Xiao Yan Zi introduced themselves very happily. "Great to meet you. Hey could you play the guzheng for us again. I think everyone at Da Za Yuan would be delighted." Xiao Yan Zi looked at Jin Suo, "How about you, can you play or sing?"
Jin Suo was taken slightly aback, "What? No way. I'm just a servant."
Xiao Yan Zi then looked back to Zi Wei. "The song you sang earlier. It doesn't make sense. What kind of mountain can jump?" She proceeded to start jumping.
"Jump?" Zi Wei replied, and started giggling. "Not that tiao. It means faraway. The way you interpret is very new."
The entire group laughed and talked all the way back to Da Za Yuan.