Now that he was crammed between two burly men, Li Chengfeng had no choice but to yield and swear that he wasn’t going to escape. This time, he was actually a little mad. These two were no ordinary people, they were experienced fighters who could even trap him like a sandwich… It was going to be impossible to slip away without putting up an intense fight.
Li Chengfeng regarded them from head to toe. “Are you two… new?”
The muscular man on the left grinned and nodded.
“My mother brought you two here?”
A timid sound came from nearby. It was Zhao Xiaobao.
He had hidden behind a tree so he carefully peeked his head out. “Young master, Madam bought three strong servants recently!”
Li Chengfeng did not turn to look at him, merely huffed, “Shut up!”
Zhao Xiaobao retracted his head. “Okay…”
Chengfeng thought to himself, ‘If Mother was the one who bought them, then I definitely cannot put up a violent fight. I’ll have to beat them with my mind.’
He thought for a moment. “My mother is the Madam but she sometimes listens to me too. And so, that’s why you must listen to me. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
The strong man grinned. “No, I don’t.”
He raged, “Are you dumb?!”
The strong man’s grin widened. “Eh! How did you know? Mother calls me Two Dumb.”
Li Chengfeng’s heart sank. Were they really stupid? Or was it just an act? He turned to the other strong man. “Hey, you! Your name is…”
The other strong man turned around and grinned the same stupid grin. Li Chengfeng had the sudden realisation: oh my goodness, this idiot’s grin is the same as Two Dumb’s!
Li Chengfeng didn’t know to cry or laugh. “Wait, wait! I know! You must be Big Dumb then!”
The man chuckled. “You’re wrong!”
He was delighted to hear this. “You’re not Big Dumb? Oh, you’re not stupid… Come help me…”
The strong man let out a hearty guffaw, “I am Three Dumb!”
Three Dumb grinned at Two Dumb and said, “Second Brother, you were wrong so you’d better pay up!”
Two Dumb fished out a few coppers unwillingly and handed it to him. “Here… One, two, three, four…”
Li Chengfeng had some hope. “Eh? Y’all know how to gamble, I know you’re not that stupid! Not bad for an act though!”
Two Dumb said, “That’s a game our mother taught us to play! When one person is wrong, he has to pay up.” He then continued to count his coppers, “Four, four, four…”
Once again, Chengfeng wasn’t sure to laugh or cry so he said, “Wait, wait, that’s not right! Why do you keep saying ‘four’? What about five, six, seven and eight?”
Two Dumb looked at him blankly. “Huh? I can only count till four…” He turned around and continued handing more copper coins to Three Dumb and counted carefully, “Four, four, four, four…”
Three Dumb counted with the same intensity, “Four, four, four, four… Second Brother, you’d better not give me a copper less! We agreed on eight coppers!”
Two Dumb nodded solemnly. “Yeah, I won’t miss any! Four, four, four…”
Chengfeng had a mental breakdown. “What the h*ll is this?! You’ll never get to eight if you count like this! Hey, you, stop counting! If you’re Two Dumb, and he’s Three Dumb, where’s Big Dumb?”
They turned to look behind Li Chengfeng. Stunned, he turned to see a big man sitting on the roof with a stupid grin on his face.
Chengfeng could not even get himself mad when he saw such a stupid grin. Dejected, he sighed, “Alright, I see there’s one up there. You all win this time!”
But he was only sad for one moment, for he had a new idea. “What about this- you all let me go out for a while- I just need to pee. I’ll go pee, and then I’ll give you all ten silvers! What do you think? They’re silver pieces, ya know? Have you seen silver pieces before?”
Two Dumb and Three Dumb looked at each other and smiled. “Alright! Pay us the ten silvers first!”
Li Chengfeng patted himself down but realised he did not have a single coin on him. All he could do was give them his scented cloth bag that was embroidered with golden thread. “Here, this is a top-grade scented cloth bag, you won’t be able to buy this anywhere! It’ll cover the payment, what do you think?”
The two men looked at each other and turned to Big Dumb. Two Dumb asked, “Big Brother, what is this?”
Big Dumb: “Are you dumb, don’t you know what that is? Isn’t this the handkerchief that Old Zhang’s daughter uses to wipe her nose?”
Li Chengfeng: “Huh?”
Two Dumb: “Oh, right, right! Looks like it! But it’s so small, how do we use this?”
Li Chengfeng: “HUH?!”
Three Dumb: “Are you dumb? Can’t you just rip the thread off? Then it’ll work!”
Li Chengfeng: “...”
Big Dumb: “Rubbish! You’re both idiots! This is meant to be rammed up your nose to wipe the mucus out!”
Two and Three Dumb clapped and grinned. “Right! Big Brother, you’re right! You’re so smart!”
Li Chengfeng was dumbfounded as he stood in silence. He suddenly yelled in Zhao Xiaobao’s direction. “Zhao Xiaobao, did you f*cking tell my mother about what happened at Zhixi’s place?!”
Xiaobao did not even dare peek his head out. Almost in tears, he yelled, “Everyone will know sooner or later, Young master!”
Li Chengfeng was furious. “Zhao Xiaobao, I’ll kill you!”
He swore he had not met anyone he hated as much as these three idiots! These three stupid, dumb and disgusting idiots!
Since he could not talk to them, beat them in a fight or slip away, within two days, Li Chengfeng had completely gone into a mental breakdown. He lay on his bed and stared into space, his eyes as hopeless as a dead dog’s and watched the three brothers hugging a giant wooden bucket each. They were busy stuffing rice into their mouths.
He wailed, “Mother, where did you find these rice buckets from?! They’ll bankrupt our family!”
“Young master, they were sold by the martial arts academy because the institute couldn’t afford to maintain their appetites.”
Zhao Xiaobao was crouching by the window, half his head was visible as he spoke timidly. When he finished, a book came flying at his head, scaring him into retracting his head once more.
After a long time, Xiaobao peeked inside once again and whined, “Young master, what if I give you a few books to pass the time? Like… ‘Grass and Destiny’ or ‘The Lady Who Fled At Night’?”
Li Chengfeng was irritated. “How dare you suggest books like that?”
Xiaobao’s face reddened. “My apologies, you’re right.”
“I’ve already memorised all of them when I was ten!”
Zhao Xiaobao was digging his own hole here. After a while, he took out a sealed letter and said, “Also, Short Qiu told me to pass this to you.”
He looked up dejectedly but suddenly leapt from his bed in fury. “How dare he?! How dare he?!”
He paced around the bedroom like an irritated lion.
Zhao Xiaobao was both weirded out and worried for him. “Young master, Madam said this is a sensitive period and you must stay home.”
Li Chengfeng raged, “Nonsense, do you know what I’ll do when I get out?! So am I the Master now or are you?!”
Zhao Xiaobao felt wronged. “But that’s Madam’s orders.”
He raged, “Hmmph, now the entire Cheng’an City will suspect me as the culprit. If I hide now, isn’t that just inviting more suspicions?”
Xiaobao was shocked. “Eh, you make sense!”
He raged, “Go tell my mother that, ask her to let me out!”
Xiaobao cried, “Madam hasn’t been home these two days, Sister Green Bead is the one managing the household. Even she cannot give them orders.”
Li Chengfeng was very angry but his eyes darted at Two and Three Dumb next to him. His mind raced and he suddenly had an idea. He beckoned, “You, come in!”
Xiaobao panicked. “I’m not going in!”
Chengfeng threatened him, “Come in, I promise I won’t kill you!”
He shook his head like a rattle. “No way!”
Chengfeng raged. “Come in now! Or I’ll actually kill you!”
Xiaobao clambered inside, muttering resentfully, “All you do is bully me!”
Without waiting for him to jump, Chengfeng placed him in a headlock and whispered in his ear. Then, he said, “Do you understand?”
Zhao Xiaobao wiped his eyes and nodded.
Li Chengfeng went to the door and announced to Big, Two and Three Dumb, who were still stuffing themselves with rice, “Let me tell you this: your Young master wants to leave and none of you will be able to stop me!”
Two and Three Dumb grinned but did not answer.
Li Chengfeng said, “You don’t believe me? Watch this!” He turned and entered his house, then shut the door with a creak.
Two and Three Dumb looked at each other, then at Big Dumb. “Big Brother, can Young master really escape?”
Big Dumb scratched his head. “They said he’s always been a smart kid. If he really wants to run, I guess it’s possible we can’t stop him?
Two Dumb sulked. “But Madam said if we lose him she’ll chop off our heads!”
Big Dumb panicked. “Getting your head chopped off is very painful, you must never let anyone do that! We must watch him well, or…”
Before he finished, he heard someone yelling on the inside. “Oh no! Oh no! Young master is missing!”
Big and Two Dumb yelled at the same time, “Oh no, they’ll chop our heads! It’s gonna hurt!”
They both rushed into the house to see Zhao Xiaobao curled up in a ball, hiding his face as he screamed, “Young master is missing!”
Both of them flipped over everything in the room in search of Chengfeng. Big Dumb’s eyes darted to under the bed, then he drew the curtains open and saw a shadow. He laughed delightedly, “I found him! Young master, please come out!” He dragged the guy’s heel as if he was dragging a chicken.
However, Two and Three Dumb were shocked when they saw the guy: this was a small, skinny boy. It was Xiaobao?!
They both looked at each other but realised the previously screaming ‘Xiaobao’ had already disappeared. They yelled in unison, “Aiyo, this is bad! Big Brother, the Young master escaped!”
Big Dumb leapt off the roof and rushed into the room. “He really escaped?”
The three men looked at each other and yelled at the same time, “Aiyo, this is bad! They’re going to chop our heads off! Ouch!”
Then, they rushed out of the room and started searching.
Zhao Xiaobao craned his neck to confirm that the three men were already far away. He said in a low voice, “Young master, they’re gone!”
A gleeful man jumped out of the closet. It was Li Chengfeng.
Initially, Li Chengfeng got Zhao Xiaobao to hide under the bed while he pretended to be Zhao Xiaobao to lure Two and Three Dumb into the room. While they were flipping the place upside down, he hid in a closet they had already searched through before. So when Two and Three Dumb misidentified Zhao Xiaobao as himself, then called Big Dumb down, that was when he could successfully get all three of them out!
Li Chengfeng clapped. “Still not smart enough to fight me!”
Zhao Xiaobao muttered, “Why are you so happy about outsmarting three idiots?”
He slapped the back of Xiaobao’s head. “Shut up! Come with me!”
Xiaobao did not dare falter as he followed behind. Like thieves in their own home, they slowly travelled along the walls, dashed across the yard and flipped over the wall.
Now that they were out of the Li family estate, Li Chengfeng felt like a dragon returning to the ocean, a tiger returning to the forest. Zhao Xiaobao tagged along, immensely uncomfortable. He looked around fearfully as if Prefecture Chief Zhang’s guards would appear to capture them any moment.
Zhao Xiaobao said worriedly, “Young master, where are we going?”
“We’re going to collect Zhixi’s body!”
Zhao Xiaobao paled and blurted, “No way, no way!”