Being spurred on by the thought of gaining a daughter-in— er … a son-in-law as nice as Jing Yi, Mister Shao dove into his explanation: “A real hero has to be an incredibly brave man. He would never hesitate to face danger and he would fight for the things he believes in like righteousness or loyalty or friendship. Just like how my Xiao Hai stood up for you when that Guanyu girl was making trouble for you.”
Jing Yi pursed his lips. So, he needed to believe in such things and then fight for them if he wanted to become a hero. He knew about friendship since he had brother Ah Hai now but what about this loyalty and righteousness? “Then how do they do that?”
Shao Chen was stumped again. This child … What kind of question was that? How should he answer that? And most importantly: How should he relate that to his son? This was getting more difficult by the minute! “Well, it’s not that easy to explain. I guess it depends on opportunities? Like when that Guanyu was harassing you. Xiao Hai saw that happen and acted. That’s an opportunity.”
Jing Yi couldn’t imagine something as vague as acting upon an opportunity and somehow he couldn’t relate his brother Ah Hai to the term ‘hero’. His father wanted him to be a hero and what that man had said about the dragon kings had sounded really exciting. It couldn’t be that being a hero was as simple as what Ah Hai had done, right? No, he had to get to the bottom of this! “Then what heroes have you met, uncle Shao? What opportunities did they have?”
“Er …” Shao Chen didn’t know how to answer. There was no way to relate anything to his son any longer if Jing Yi didn’t react to it. Somehow, he regretted having said he had met real heroes. Hadn’t that only been stories to humor his son when he was younger? Now his son had brought that up with Jing Yi and that child didn’t just believe everything he said but asked so much! How should he answer now? Although, there had been that one time … He pondered and finally nodded.
“Right, right. There’s one story I can tell you. That man definitely was a hero. In fact, your uncle Shao owes him his life.”
Jing Yi’s eyes shone. The man yesterday had told him a story, too. Uncle Shao had to be getting to the important part now! The things before were probably just some sort of introduction. Thinking like that, Jing Yi sat up straight and listened attentively.
Faced with the whole attention of such an adorable child like Jing Yi Mister Shao didn’t want to disappoint him. Well, he would just modify the story a bit so that it would sound more exciting. Didn’t the boy just want to be entertained? It couldn’t be that hard to adjust his own experiences so they would make a good tale.
He cleared his throat and straightened his shoulders. “So it was like this: One day in autumn, your uncle Shao was traveling through our Long empire. I was selling my products on the markets and delivered what the people in the other big cities had ordered and looked for interesting new things I could bring back home.
“My business had been going even better than in the previous years and I was on my way back home. At that time, it was already in the middle of autumn. The sky was overcast with big, dark clouds that raced along over my head on strong winds. In fact, the winds were so strong that the trees along the road creaked and nearly bent over.
“Your uncle Shao was really afraid that day because it got harder to move forward and the clouds above started rumbling and crackling as if lightning would strike soon. I and the others from the team hurried on and finally found a small inn along the way. We stepped inside, incredibly relieved that we had escaped that vicious storm outside. We sat down at one of the tables and ordered something to eat. After all, we had been on the road for a long time and often we wouldn’t have much to eat so we were really hungry. It seemed like everything would be calm for the night and we were staring at the bowls with food that the waiter brought. But just when we picked up our chopsticks, the door of the inn was kicked open. A gust of wind blew in and nearly two dozen men stepped inside, all of them bristling with weapons. They took one look around and their mean eyes focused on our group.”
Well, this was a blatant lie. It hadn’t been two dozen people but only half a dozen. They hadn’t been armed to the teeth either and only carried a sword each. But well, considering that the mercenaries Shao Chen had hired back then had still been outside guarding the products, there had been no one to counter these men. The cowardly servants he had had with him all pulled back as far as they could, pushing their Master to the front to deal with these bandits. Could he as a lone man take out six others? Even though he was quite strong, he wasn’t that strong either. Two, yes. Maybe he’d even be able to take on three if they made some mistakes but he couldn’t even imagine to take down six grown men.
Shao Chen sighed thinking back to that day. “Your uncle Shao really thought the bell had tolled for him that day. Those men were demanding I hand over all the money I made on that trip. But how could I do that? If I went home without money my family would have had to starve. I tried to reason with them but to no avail. Just when those men were brandishing their weapons to decapitate me the door opened again and a good-looking young man stepped inside.”