He woke up next day early in the morning; he saw the ancient banner flag of Yanmen pass clearly. The Buddhist priest Chao Yin said: “This is a small roadside shop seven miles to Yanmen pass. In front of us is a traveler’s inspection office for Yanmen pass.”
Yun Jing opened the curtain and asked: After “Where is hero Xie?”
Chao yin said: “brother Xie asked if Commander Zhou is coming, once he heard that he is not coming so he went to the Yanmen pass alone to notify. Once he will get the information of your arrival then he might come to receive you.”
Yun Jing laughed in spite of trying not to and said: “That Zongzhou fellow gave that brocade pouch and has made a mistake. Once Commander Zhou will know that I am coming back then obviously after the notification, he will come to welcome me.”
He asked him to stop the donkey cart and waited for them before the traveler’s office. He looked around towards the city wall for any sound but didn’t found anything astir.
Xie Tianhua was bold yet cautious as he entered Yanmen pass and notified the guard about his intention. He had earlier seen the Yanmen pass troop commander Zhou Jian. He knew well that not only he was a fellow villager and old friend of Yun Jing but also a gallant and chivalrous person with heroic spirit. The seven miles distance to the Yanmen pass passed in a flash as he saw the banner of the officials several times in and around the city. Xie Tianhua also felt inspired as he laughed in his heart and felt relived and thought: “So that Tantai Mieming was after all spouting nonsense. He was playing tricks and tried to confuse everyone including me; as long as Commander Zhou is still guarding this pass; who can dare to injure Yun Jing?”
As he sat in the tent, the banner official offered to serve him tea and said: “Commander Zhou is coming out soon, chivalrous hero…please rest for little while.”
Xie Tianhua drank that scented tea and waited for him. In a short while, suddenly he felt dizzy and cried out: “it’s not good!”
He drew his sword hastily, that banner official forestalled one step and took away his treasured sword and whistled loudly. He threw two horse-tripping ropes and trapped him.
Xie Tianhua had profound internal strength, although he was tricked and trapped, he struggled against the stupor but felt as if his whole body was incapable to move. After sometime as his thought were more focused now and he was able to open his eyes gradually. Xie Tianhua tried to concentrate and resisted the nightmare. Suddenly a blurry figure resembling a human lifted him and put him in a dark room and he heard the sounds of him locking the door.
The sedative in that bowl of tea was a extremely fierce one and would have knocked out any common person but Xie Tianhua had practiced martial art for such a long time and resisting the drug to reach his internal organs and maintaining the sobriety. He did not know how much time passed when he heard the sound of door shoved open and a person poked his head inside. Xie Tianhua fixed his eyes on that person and found this person was in fact Yanmen pass troop commander Zhou Jian.
Xie Tianhua wanted to leap at him but did not have the physical strength; he moved his palm to attack him but was swept away.
Zhou Jian called out in a low voice: “It’s me!”
Xie Tianhua didn’t have the physical strength but still managed to stagger back several steps, hits on the wall and roared angrily: “Good, One cannot know the human from outside, Commander Zhou, you used this third-grade plotting method, you are really proficient!”
Zhou Jian took two steps towards him and called out in a low voice: “Matters are critical right now, I have antidote hidden inside my cloths. We two have to go quickly and save brother Yun. I have taken your treasured sword, come on move quickly!”
Xie Tianhua was astonished and said: “What? What is your real intention?”
In dark room he was not able to see Zhou Jian but his eyes shone brightly and he said with dignity in a low voice: “What kind of a person is Zhou Jian, don’t you know me? This situation is very critical and we don’t have much time, you come quickly with me.”
Xie Tianhua cannot help but opened his mouth and swallowed down the pill which Zhou Jian gave him. As soon as he swallowed the pill, Xie Tianhua felt as if his heart has sobered and the sleepiness has all disappeared. He came outside and received the treasured sword and leapt out with Zhou Jian to go out.
As soon as they came out, he saw the official who gave him the sedated tea. He shouted loudly: “Master Zhou, you should think over this carefully before acting, you do not want to ruin your future!”
Zhou Jian said nothing, he rose with a spring suddenly and brandished his sword to cut that official is two pieces. He seized two fast horses and rode them to rush towards the outer gate with Xie Tianhua; the officials outside the pass looked at him but did not dare to keep off.
Zhou Jian was powerful; he toed the horse and raised his whip to force the horse to move quickly. He called out loudly: “They are killing outside that small roadside shop seven miles from Yanmen pass. Come through this alley to get out of here!” They get out of that place and followed the hill trail. On the main road, there were carriages and horses going outside the Yanmen pass, many people shouted aloud to call him back but Commander Zhou did not pay attention.
Yun Jing waited for them outside the traveler’s office for a long time. Suddenly he saw a big dust cloud, he saw several riders coming at them on fast horses towards them. The guards and the officials at the traveler’s office immediately dressed up to go out to welcome them. Yun Jing looked at those people. He had been traveling for some time and also was old and weak and didn’t felt physically fit but as soon as he saw them he felt great happiness however his heart was fluttering but his hands were calm. He took the diplomatic staff and marched towards them.
As he moved closer to them, he saw 16 palace guards to be divided into two teams; they were following two imperial envoys across the hall. Yun Jing immediately thought in his heart: “It looks that the emperor finally received the information that I am returning back after spending 20 years in captivity but still maintained my moral integrity and have sent the imperial envoy to greet me unexpectedly at this border pass.”
He said in a loud voice: “Yun Jing dares to meet the imperial envoys”. In the hall suddenly everyone looked at his him. The complexion of the imperial envoy changed suddenly and he said in loud voice: “Revolting feudal official Yun Jing, kneel down to meet the imperial edict!”
Yun Jing had got the shock of his life, this was no small matter, he held the diplomatic staff in his hand and said: “I Yun Jing had been sent on a diplomatic mission to foreign land for 20 years. I was held captive and have herded horses in their desert for all these time. I am innocent; I do not dare to meet this imperial edict!”
These words made no impact on the imperial envoy or palace guards at all. Two of the palace guards pushed him on his kneels and he only heard the imperial envoy reading loud: “Criminal feudal official Yun Jing, the emperor had sent you as his envoy to the Oirat but you did not feel grateful and seek to requite and commit treason against the country, you have forgotten the country of your parents. Today you are returning secretly and scheming to act as an enemy spy. This crime can not go unpunished according to the law, since you have also served the previous dynasty and are an old feudal official, his graciousness has overruled the law and gives you permission to take this poison and commit suicide. Your corpse will be put in a coffin and sent to your home town.”
Yun Jing was scared out of his wits, he saw the palace guard holding a silver bottle, it had the traditional Chinese poison called “dark red”. The envoy called out loud: “Does the criminal feudal official Yun Jing thanks the kindness of the emperor and receives the orders?”
Yun Jing thought about it was shocked at the same time. He got mad and suddenly grasped the silver bottle. He called out in a loud voice: “I want to look at the imperial edict. How do I believe that this is real!”
The imperial envoys sneered and shouted loudly: “Big courage, you want to look at the imperial edict?” The words have not even left his mouth, suddenly they heard a loud bang sound and the two front doors were flying baseless and the Buddhist priest Chao Yin appeared with his staff and shouted loudly: “It’s all a façade, they just want to kill!”
The 16 palace guards came forward to resist the enemy, how can match this mad priest? They only saw him feinting north and then suddenly all the havoc broke lose. The priest’s staff was everywhere. It looked as if he was quarrying a mountain and cracking stones. Whoever got hit either got a mortal wound and the suffering was immense.
That two imperial envoys were frightened, their lips turn blue from white with fear and their leg turned in to jelly. That Buddhist priest came across the hall and stood on front of them as a hawk catching the chicken.
He scolded: “Elder Yun gave up his life to this country and you want to kill him, is it truth?”
The staff of Chao Yin knocks on his head, waves the arms of this envoy fell and his skull cracked then and there and he died at the step. The other imperial envoy was too afraid but still called out: “he is enemy agent, he disrespects the imperial envoy, what does he deserves?”
That Buddhist priest laughed loudly and caught him, he scolded him and said: “You are a bird of the emperor the, how much worth are you now?”The monk's staff struck the ground and rips open a big crack and threw him on the ground. The palace guards escaped in abundance and blew a bugle. Corpses were scattered in that hall in the traveler’s office. Only two people were standing in the hall; the Buddhist priest and Yun Jing.
Yun Jing was dumbfounded; it was a nightmare for him and did not know what happened here. He calmed down and saw the Buddhist priest facing him and called out suddenly: “Give that imperial edict to me.”
The Buddhist priest grinned and sneered. He said: “ isn’t there any other envoy running with a imperial edict!”
Yun Jing sat cross-legged and said categorically emphasizing each single word: “Gives that imperial edict to me!”
The Buddhist priest got the imperial edict; took it to Yun Jing and said: “Good, look quickly! Look quickly!” he was very impatient now.
Yun Jing immediately looked at the imperial edict. The surface of the edict looked like the dying embers, the seal was indeed the imperial jade seal and the paper was real too. Yun Jing also remembered that before that in times when Cheng ancestor seized the position, a court eunuch once robbed the imperial jade seal; later that court eunuch dropped the imperial jade seal on the steps and the corner of the seal was broken. Afterwards they called skilled workers to make it up again but there was a subtle texture difference and one can discerns it clearly in this imperial edict so one cannot pretend that this edict was a fake one.
The Buddhist priest called out: “Looked enough?”
Yun Jing stared straight ahead as if ears have turned deaf. In a flash he relived the 20 years of misery he has received in the Mongol lands and it passed over gently and swiftly in his mind. However all this misery compared to the present pain and indignation was simply nothing. He thought that when he will return home after 20 years, he will receive admiration from everyone; the imperial government will reward him with promotion and will praise his merits. Who would have thought that the emperor will send the imperial edict unexpectedly to ask him to commit suicide? He has a person who went to one extreme and persevered against the enemy for his emperor and country but didn’t surrender but when he discovered that the same people want him to die then he was severely disappointed. He thought that what do I have left in this world after seeing this?
The Buddhist priest Chao Yin called him a couple of times but he didn’t reply and saw him in extreme despair and depression. Suddenly Yun Jing stood up slowly. He saw him going towards the diplomatic staff he kept with him for pasts 20 years in all the ice, snow and suffering and breaking it. The priest saw Yun Jing turning around and heard a “popping” sound of some bottle.
<End of prologue >
Thanks for translation.
That is a pretty long prologue.
Merry Xmas and Happy New Year.
Chapter – 1
A period of time flowed past in a flash. Ten years have passed now and this was the thirteenth year of reign of Ming emperor Zhengtong.
As the decade passed, new people came and took the position in the Yanmen pass. The Mongols horses were still neighing outside the Yanmen pass. In the past ten years, the name of Commander of the Yanmen pass Zhou Jian was gradually forgotten while no one was aware of the return of the former Imperial envoy Yun Jing and his death.
In the past several years, the area outside the Yanmen pass has seen a lot of unrest and activity after a new rebel group has become active. This rebel group was very unusual; they basically operated in the hundred miles area outside the Yanmen pass, the so called “No man’s land” between the Oirat and China. They were both anti-Mongol and anti-Ming and although the numerical strength of these rebels were not much but they hid in the region between the territory of Oirat and Ming empire. The Ming empire soldiers did not dare to venture far to the Oirat side to capture them and same the case with the Oirat soldiers. Their attitudes are also very unusual; they did not plundered the ordinary travelers who passed through that “No man’s land”. Sometimes they descend the mountain to plunder the corrupt officials or the people who have ill-gotten wealth.
These rebels had their own banner with a pair of sun and moon as their emblem. The leader of these rebels was a ferocious old man but nobody actually knew about him or even his name. Whenever he confronted the government troops, he always wore a mask and wielded a golden sword therefore in the government troop’s records; he was always referred as the “Golden sword thief”. This “Golden sword thief” was also a very strange fellow. Although the government troops were his enemy but he never actually plundered the soldier's rations and pay. Moreover each time when he was involved in a skirmish with government troops, even if he manages to defeat them, he never chased them down.
It was the later part of spring season, Ministry of War has dispatched the officers to escort one batch of soldier's rations and pay. A military officer called Fang Qing was leading the troops. He has passed the military examinations of the imperial civil service and had some influential family background. He was handed down a family bow, he was adept in archery and also called “god arrow Fang Qing” and was very proud about it.
The soldier's rations and pay was worth about 402,000 silvers. All this money was for the rations and payment of soldiers in Yanmen pass was stored in wooden boxes in shape of horseshoe-shaped silver ingot. Each sheath contained 520 pieced of ingots and were carried on the back of 100 healthy mules and another ten mules were carrying the smuggled goods for the soldiers of the Yanmen pass. Only about 100 people were in this group because over the years there never was any problem with these kinds of deliveries.
This was the third month of the year, in the region south of Yangtze River, the grass was long; groups of hawks were flying randomly. In this season the weather outside the Yanmen pass was very good, no snow and very less chill in the air as compared to early spring but since the government troops have climbed mountains and crossed rivers to reach this place, they were feeling somewhat sultry. This was afternoon and sun was shining brightly, Fang Qing point raised his whip and said: “By tomorrow Noon, we will reach the Yanmen pass. We have only 100 people with this cargo and so much money and have crossed over hills and rivers without any incident, it was good fortune. If we reach Yanmen pass tomorrow without any incident then we should celebrate!”
The two official sub-ordinates who came along with him fawn over him and said: “isn’t master Fang is called the “god arrow Fan Qing”. You are mighty and invincible, who in the world does not know this? Even if there are some petty thieves, when they will hear that you are escorting then will not dare to look at us!”
Fang Qing burst in to laugher and said continually: “you are so kind!”
The government troops listened to it and found it really funny. Nearby the main road, they saw an inn and a place where traveler merchants rest and drink.
Fang Qing got happy to see it and said: “This is good, we all are tired and everyone deserves a good drink now as we are so close to the Yanmen pass. We do not need to hurry at this point, everybody rest in for a while. I ask two subordinates to drink a glass of wine with me.”
He jumps down the horseback and entered the inn. The two subordinates blindly followed him in. After Fang Qing has drunk several glasses of wine, his attitude changes and he started to blow his own trumpet. He told how his martial art skills are so great, once he when he was the chief of Dongping government office then he subdued a group of robbers with his bow.
Fang Qing kept on boasting his skill in martial art incessantly, the two subordinates supported and flattered him, how can they have missed such an opportunity for flattery, One said: “It’s a pity that master Fang is here on this assignment otherwise you could have taken part in this year's martial art contest in the imperial civil service examination. I am certain that you would have snatched the award for the foremost military personnel.” Another said: “Today the weather is clear, I dare to ask master Fang to demonstrate his technique of god arrow and widen our horizon.”
Fang Qing has drunk a big glass of wine, he laughed and took out the iron-gray bow which he carried on his back and said: “Comes along with me!” he walks out of the inn and draws out two feather arrows and said: “See carefully!”
He shot an arrow on the sky, when this arrow was turning around, he shot the second arrow. The second arrow hit the first one in the midair unexpectedly and cut it in to two as it fell in to the ground. The two subordinates went ecstatic and cheered loudly, numerous other officers and looked secretly and thought: “he is really skillful, he was not boasting at all.”
In among the cheers, they heard the sound of hoof beats as a person arrived on the horse along the road. He called out in a loud voice immediately: “Good arrow, good shot!”
Fang Qing looked at this person, he had the appearance of a scholar, he was also wearing a blue turban, his facial expressions were refined and he was actually carrying a black bow on his back. The horse he was riding was very thin and small; his bow was also unusually smaller than his, a common iron-gray bow and looked puny in front of his ancestral bow. Fang Qing laughed his heart as he saw him and thought: “This scholar probably is afraid of traveling this path and had just kept a bow to allay his fears. Actually by keeping this bow and arrow, in fact he is standing out like a sore thumb and will catch the eyes of the bandits and thieves. They will understand in a single glance that he is just scholar.
That person with scholarly appearance too stepped in side the in and after tying his horse to a nearby tree. Fang Qing honored people with literary skills, he clasped one fist in the other hand and greeted him, he asked: “Your surname….who are walking alone on this road, aren’t you afraid of bandits and thieves?”
That scholar said: “Little brother is called Meng Ji, my hometown is a faraway place beyond the mountains, I am actually going towards Yanmen pass to seek my relatives and look for kind of work.”
Fang Qing thought in his heart: “He looks like a poor person and is actually going to earn some money.”
He said: “This is good, we are also going to Yanmen pass with the rations and pay for the soldiers. Commander Ding is a senior official of our Ministry of War. He has many children; I think I can ask him to give you some job.”
That scholar Meng Ji said: “It is my good fortune that I am able to meet such an honored person on my way. I have heard that there are very fearsome bandits in this area and everyone is afraid to pass…..”
Fang Qing understood his meaning, he had already drunk several bowls of wine and was feeling tipsy, he thumped his chest and said loudly: “We have already met, why you are afraid now. I depend on this god bow, these petty thieves will actually run to evade me, since you are seeking refuge with relatives in Yanmen pass, you can travel with our group. Come along with us!”
That scholar listened to him; he was extremely happy and expressed gratitude over and over but every now and then kept looking at the bow of Fang Qing.
Fang Qing smiled at him and said: “This is a very special bow, when it is untied, it takes strength of at least 500 catties to tie a string…do you have any idea!”
The scholar surname Meng Ji said repeatedly: “really admire! Really admire!”
Fan Qing called Meng Ji for one more round of wine and they both drank several big glass of wine again. Afterwards they left the inn and departed to leave. A strong cold wind was blowing and Fang Qing was now feeling tipsy. After they moved along the main road for a long time, they approached a mountain, at this place the road was really narrow and on one side there was a deep valley. They heard the call of wild goose and saw them flying as they saw several armed man crossing through that pass.
The scholar Meng Ji said: “Here the terrain is precipitous, I am afraid this is the same region where those bandits appear and disappear.”
Fang Qing laughed and said: “If there is a bandit and he comes out then he will be responsible for his own destruction!”
Meng Ji suddenly took out the bow he was carrying on his back and looked around.
Fang Qing said with a smile: “Are you afraid?”
Meng Ji said with a smile: “I really am somewhat scared; unknowingly I have even taken the arrow and have prepared to defend myself. You might be laughing in your heart for kind of a behavior.”
Fang Qing really laughed and said: “You forgot that we are traveling together. Ha…, if those bandits are really there then what will this bow of yours will do?”
He took advantage of being tipsy and puts out a hand and said: “Let me take a look at this small gadget of yours!”
Meng Ji showed a faint smile and said: “Elder brother will laugh at me.” But he didn’t decline his advances and handed over that bow to him.
Fang Qing took that black shiny bow in his hand and only thought that this is really heavy, he cannot help but was startled, he muttered to say: “What is it actually?”
He made an effort to pull the bow but unexpectedly he was not able to even stretch it. Fang Qing always used a strong bow and his two arms really had the 500 catties strength but he was amazed that he was not able to draw the string and the complexion of his face turned red. He was startled as well as was also ashamed, the tipsy feeling was suddenly gone and he was well awake now. He said in a slow speech: “You ….you are”
Meng Ji took back his black bow and said: “Elder brother had drunk a lot; this is why you are not able to use your physical strength. Little brother shows great courage to ask elder brother to bestow his valuable bow to me to have a look.”
Fang Qing was really bewildered; he took out his precious bow and handed over to the scholar. He only saw that scholar holding that bow in his left hand very firmly and he pulled the strings of the bow as toying with the bow and said: “It is really good to bend!” he applied a bit more pressure and suddenly the they only heard a ting sound of breaking of the bowstring.
By now the tipsy feeling of all that wine was fully disappeared, fang Qing shouted loudly: “Who are you?”
That scholar threw the bow on the ground and laughed hard. Suddenly he patted his horse and that skinny looking horse ran like a wind and in an instant they were far away from him.
By the time Fang Qing yelled out: “get the Archers!” he was already out of range. They heard the sound of psst and suddenly several whistles blew around the hillside and lot of bandits came around them in a very short time. Meng Ji turned round and laughed to say: “God bow… wonderful technique…absolutely mediocre! We are here to plunder your silver coins…do you also want to dispute with me?”
Although Fang Qing has collected his ancestral bow but the bowstring was broken, he did not know how to resist the enemy, still he called loudly to everyone to take the position ad resist the bandits stubbornly.
He only heard the sound of wild laughter and the sound of bowstring, Meng Ji called out: “you know how to shout fiercely!” he took out his bow and shot a arrow, the arrow resembled like a falling star making a howling sound and struck his vice general. He called out pitifully as the arrow passed through his throat and he fell dead on the horse. Meng Ji again called out loudly and the bowstring made another sound, an arrow passed through the heart of the second vice general and he too was dead in an instant. The numerous officers were frightened and scared out of their wits, someone shouted out loudly and everyone was running here and there to save their life.
They heard Meng Ji calling out: “Do you also want an arrow through you?”
Fang Qing took his bow in the hand and made an effort to get out of that place but only heard a “zheng” sound as the arrow just nicked his bow and deflected to the other side. He never even heard the sound of the bow string as a second arrow moved towards him in a lightning pace towards his face. Fang Qing did a somersault from the horseback, rose and fell on the ground. That arrow flied just above his head by a mere three inches.
Fang Qing called out: “It looks that I am finished here…so this is my destiny!”
He actually never saw him shooting a third arrow at him but heard Meng Ji laughing and saying:”You can evade two arrows of mine, you are a courageous person and real man, I forgive your life!” by that time the group of the bandits have blocked the pass from both side by rolling down the stone from the hillside and a group of them at both end. Fang Qing rolled down the hillside in desperation and every now and then heard the sound of arrow whizzing past him but not a single arrow hit his body.
Fang Qing rolled down the mountain valley and stopped nearby the mountain stream in a rush. He heard the sound of people from above and sound of disorderly hoof beats above in the pass.
Fang Qing raised his head to sees the crescent moon in the sky, some footprints of an animal, the sound of insects chirping and the cold seeping in his body as the night grew. Fang Qing crawled his way out of that place to reach back to the pass. He saw the corpses of his two adjutants on the road in the moonlight; all the other troops have disappeared. Fang Qing was panic-stricken and thought: “I led the soldier through this pass and let them get killed and attacked by them!”
He looked out into the distance but the bandits have all gone and he wasn’t able to see anyone.
Fang Qing was frightened as he recognized the enormity of this situation. He came from the capital with thousands of silver and soldier's rations and pay, this matter was no small matter, he would be put to death for this negligence in duty. Fang Qing knew that he would be made a scapegoat in this situation and wanted to cry but couldn’t. He thought in his heart: “This is really bad, even if that robber had shot me then it would have been fortunate for me!” He sat down on the road in a sad manner and looked at the rising moon. He thought over and over and it won’t make a difference but the reality is difficult to accept. It is better to die than to run away, he sighed and took out the thick rope from a hobbling horse and tied a knot on the neck and hanged himself by a tree fork and attempted to commit suicide.
The body was hanging, the rope gradually tightened; Fang Qing was short of breath, felt a terrible burning sensation in his chest and a sharp headache as if his head would explode with pain. He thought in his heart: “If I knew that death by hanging oneself is so painful then I would have jumped in to deep water fortunately.” Actually in this northern region, jumping in cold water wouldn’t be any better. Fang Qing was committing suicide but in his heart, he didn’t want to die. As the noose tightened, his palpitation got higher and even though he wanted to call for help but could not make noise. A shadow moved towards him very slowly as he was staring at death.
Fang Qing felt a bright light and saw someone moving around, he slowly opened his eyes. He found himself lying down, breathing gently and only saw a young man wearing some homespun upper and lower garments, standing at one side. He turned toward him and smiled slightly.
Fang Qing sighed and said: “Why do you save me?”
The young man said with a smile: “How can I stand there and do nothing when I see somebody in danger…it’s against my principle.”
Fang Qing suddenly remembered that he will be put to death by dismemberment for his failure and he was again adamant to suicide. He looked at that young man and said: “I will die in any case; you rescued me but won’t be able to save my life.”
The young man grasped him by his arms and said: “Why do you want to commit suicide? I won’t let you kill yourself.”
As soon as Fang Qing listened to his words, he stamped his foot and said: “Let me leave and do as I intend to, I don’t want to talk to you.”
The young man let him go and said with a smile suddenly: “Looking at your appearance, you resemble a royal government's military officer; I think you are from that convoy who were taking soldier's rations and pay and plundered by those bandits, this why you are so tense and edgy!”
Fang Qing jumped and said: “How did you know?”
The young man said: “You people come to escort the soldier's rations and pay every year and pass through here two times, the arrival of such a big convoy leads to a really chaotic situation each time, how would we not know!”
Fang Qing smiled bitterly and said: “since we are so annoying …you should not detain me here.”
The young man paid no attention to him and said: “You people, although are noisy and create chaotic situation, still you are the one transporting the rations and pay to the defending soldiers in border pass, if soldier does not defend then perhaps the Mongolian soldier will invade, therefore suicide is not such good idea!”
Fang Qing suddenly got anxious and tried to grasp the hand of that person but actually came up empty-handed, the young man said: “What is this all about?”
Fang Qing shouted to say: “Are you one of them? You knew that those soldier's rations and pay are robbed?”
The youths said: “I am a mountain person who farms here, earlier in the night a brigade of bandits passed through here and were detaining many mules and also have tied up a big string of officers, I saw them passing through here before going out towards the mountain, I am no fool, I saw them and easily understood the situation, what’s so difficult to guess?”
Fang Qing asked: “Do you know the lair of those bandits?”
The young man said: “I did not rob you convoy, how would I know?”
Fang Qing wanted him to say: “Yes…I know the robber’s lair and will lead you to them.” He was shouting loudly now and again getting really edgy, the young man looked at Fang Qing and suddenly said: “So its money…if you can retrieve it then you won’t suicide? Why don’t you want to look for the money and get it back rather than committing suicide?”
Fang Qing shook his head, suddenly he thought in his heart: “I have the physical strength far greater than any average man, however I tried to get myself freed from his grasp but wasn’t able to do so. I could even move him barely; this youth is surely is a skillful person with martial art background!”
After yesterday’s battle, the arrogance in Fang Qing has disappeared greatly, he knew that one should always strive for better and should not flaunt his superiority in front of others. When the good luck comes, the wits are sharpened, he bowed his head in greeting and said: “My skills are far inferior to you, I urge you to fight those bandits and plead in front of the chivalrous hero to help me and rescue my life.”
That youth laughed and said: “I am not any chivalrous hero…I am just an ordinary mountain person. If someone hears your words then I am afraid they would laugh at you!”
Fang Qing was quite disappointed, he again tried to say something but only heard that youth also saying: “it looks that you are in pretty pitiful condition, let me guide you towards a solution.”
Fang Qing said with great happiness: “Please advice.”
The youth said: “I, although cannot save you but not very far to this place, there is a person of outstanding ability, if you are able to convince that person then you will definitely get back the lost rations and pay.”
Thanks Abhay! Thought that Meng Ji was going to be the robber from the way the author set it up.. looking forward to seeing what happens to Fang Qing.
Fang Qing said: “This outstandingly able person…what is his name? Where does he lives? Will you take me to him?”
That youth said: “This skilled person has strange temperament; if you go and inquire about him than you might even lose your life.”
Fang Qing got scared and said: “Such being the case, I wont’ like younger brother to come with me and make things difficult for you. I have already troubled you a lot.”
The youth continued and said: “Will you consider to hang yourself again?”
Fang Qing asked: “What do you mean by that?”
The youth showed a faint smile; took Fang Qing to the place where the thick rope was lying on the ground which he has earlier used for hanging. He said: “You must commit suicide one time again!”
Fang Qing was startled, he said: “What?”
The youth said: “It’s still early but after you leave this mountain pass and walk approximately 7-8 miles toward the west, you will find a peach forest and several flowered trees, that place is called 'butterfly valley'. Behind the peach forest, there is a small house, that person lives in that house. You go near the edge of that peach forest, in front of the peach forest approximately hundred steps from that place, you will find a big rock, this stone is of dark red color and you can easily find it. There is a narrow crack in that big rock, you can hide there and can watch the surrounding. If you see that person then don’t come out at all, when the sunlight has completely passed through that crack then only come out and try to commit suicide by hanging on a peach tree casually like you were trying here. This person is highly skilled and will definitely save you. When you are hanging yourself, you cannot counterfeit in even your wildest dream. The knot should be tied entirely alike to this one and very tightly or you will give away your real intention! If you are asked about who have directed you to that place then you can’t say my name or I would be in deep trouble.”
Fang Qing had several doubts in his mind but that youth said with a smile: “I was here in time to save your life, perhaps you have good fortune from now on, you rest well for some time and then leave. I will take my leave then.”
Fang Qing called out: “You too take care!” As he blinked, suddenly that youth has walked away without any trace
Fang Qing said: “I will die in any case; this youth spoke with sincerity, although it sounds weird but I should at least try it.” In his heart he was concerned about this matter only and did not dare to sleep, he took a little nap and then looked at moon to set and thought that he should move out early. He looked at the mountain valley towards the west, the remaining stars were twinkling; He thought that it’s no point in waiting for the dawn and moved on.
Fang Qing moved in the west direction following the direction of the young man, as he went closer to the pine forest he was greeting by the delicate fragrance of the peach forest and also some other unknown red and white colored tree, the scenery was extremely beautiful and his spirit lifted as he walked down that path. He looked for that big red rock near the peach forest and indeed found it without any trouble. It was really a big rock, it was at least three people high and there was a big crack in the middle of the rock. Fan Qing took shelter in that crack but was actually frightened in his heart. He concentrated and kept peeping from that small crack waiting for a miracle.
He waited for a long time but saw no movement at all or heard any sound of something astir. However he kept on diligently waiting and looked through the crack. The light coming from the crack kept on playing tricks with him and has been varying to different shades as the first rays of dawn came in. Finally the sunlight started to pour through the clouds and turned them in to shades of red and he saw a round blood red sun revealed from the fog suddenly, the pink clouds all over the sky reflected the light and looked divine! He did not know when several colored butterfly aggregated above the tree and circled the flowers suddenly, Fang Qing was a person with military background but he also enjoyed the beauty of nature.
After some time passed, the sunlight again brightened the peach forest, Fang Qing’s eyes suddenly lit up as he saw a young girl in white feminine clothing, the sleeves floating in the air as she moved like a beautiful fairy; he did not know where she came from suddenly! That young girl turned toward the sunlight, bent the waist to put out a hand to make several movements, circled the tree to run suddenly and then again ran more vigorously. As Fang Qing looked at her, he was dazzled by this sight, although his body was cramped in the stone crack, still he felt as if he will spin and drop. Fang Qing looked at that young girl spinning like a top and controlled himself but still felt dizzy. That young girl stopped and slowly moved in a circle; suddenly she started to jump from one tree top to another in a swift motion as if like a bird or a mighty ape. That young girl jumped from one tree to another but not a single bunch of flowers fell from the peach blossom unexpectedly.
Fang Qing looked at her and thought in his heart: “That youth was saying truth; however this outstandingly able person is unexpectedly a young girl?”
When he looked again, that young girl jumped down from the tree, the long sleeves swung in the air like a flying immortal, she crossed a branch and rustled it as she went passed. The vibration resembled to a gentle spring breeze and the peach blossom fell in abundance. The young girl smiled and moved her double sleeves quickly at the falling flowers and controlled the flow of the flowers with her sleeves and the stream of peach blossoms flew along side her. He was moving around the peach trees in a leisurely and carefree manner with a smile in her face amidst the peach blossoms.
Fang Qing looked at her and thought in his heart: “In this world, I am afraid there is any other girl as beautiful as her, these peach blossoms are actually inferior to her.”
He passed through those trees where the pack of butterfly was swarming over the flowers. They were startled as that young girl flew among them with a stream of peach blossoms. That young girl suddenly raised her double sleeve and the innumerable peach blossoms depart from the sleeves in abundance, he heard a ‘psst” sound as the butterfly cried out strangely and fell there only on the ground. Fag Qing was startled, this was no small matter and thought: “I heard a strange sound as if she used the peach blossom to kill all these butterfly; this is really a matter unheard-of! He also pitied the numerous beautiful butterflies and thought: “Although he threw those flowers at the butterfly in such a refined manner but to kill those butterflies actually spoiled the fun!”
In an instant, these butterflies which have fell to the ground spread their wings to fly and he only heard that young girl to say with a smile: “Butterfly, I am sorry I frightened you, I will no longer disturb you!”
She marched out into the flowered tree clump slowly and entered the peach forest hut.
Fang Qing thought that the sunlight was fading as she entered back in to the hut. Fang Qing was unconsciously praising that young man and thought: “That youth was really that accurate, this young girl has just marched into the hut and the sunlight is fading from this crack!”
At this time Fang Qing was really curious and confused in his heart however he immediately came out of that place and took out the thick rope and quickly made a tight knot and put it on his throat and hanged himself to the tree. The rope tightened gradually, he felt suffocated and highly uncomfortable, Fang Qing tried to straighten and see if the young girl is coming out to rescue. Fang Qing tried to shout but no sound came out of his mouth as knot was getting tighter and tighter.
He only thought that one can try his luck only a certain number off time but it looks that eventually he has ran his luck out. He was not able to see even the shadow of anyone. Fang Qing regretted in his heart and thought: “Is it possible that this youth was playing some kind of trick and intentionally gave me back this rope and suggested to suicide!” Suddenly both his feet started kicking randomly and the flowers started falling piece by piece.
As he struggled more and more, the rope got tighter, Fang Qing was now not able to see anything and his brain stopped working, he felt dizzy. In a flash, suddenly he felt if some person was stroking him gently and have sheared the knot of the rope. His breath was unimpeded immediately and Fang Qing opened his mouth but actually could not speak.
After some time, Fang Qing gradually started to regain his physical strength ad opened his eyes. He saw that the person who rescued him was precisely the girl he just saw in the forest. Fang Qing expressed his gratitude in a low voice.
That girl looked at him with an icy cold stare and said to him: “You look like a high-ranking military official, why are you committing suicide?”
Fang Qing sat up on the ground and related the story of how he was escorting the soldier's rations and pay and was robbed, according to the military law; he would be now put to death by dismemberment.
The young girl flinched her brows, suddenly wielded her sleeves and said: “This matter I cannot help!”
Fang Qing was anxious, he caught her skirt but how could he pull? Fang Qing started crying and said: “I have an old mother and a child at home, this way he will end up an orphan. If you pay no attention, three more ghosts will be added to this world!”
That young girl turned her head and said slowly: “Is it true?”
Fang Qing said: “If there is even half a lie, hang me on this tree again and I won’t say anything again!”
A facial complexion of that young girl changed and she muttered: “I must look for them in any case…fine...I will handle this matter for you.”
Fang Qing was very happy and he started to thank her politely, the young girl said in anger: “I am not a dead yet, why are you doing obeisance to me? You have tried to hang yourself earlier too…isn’t it? Why did you go through all this pain again….who directed you to this place?”
Fang Qing said: “No, I haven’t …no idea what you are saying!”
The young girl said: “You have tried to hang yourself earlier too?”
Fang Qing said: “No I hung to suicide just now.”
The young girl hesitated for a moment and suddenly said with a smile: “Actually you have hung yourself earlier too…it looks that the person who saved you earlier directed you to me. Don’t worry, since I have said that I will help you so I won’t go back on my words! Hanging oneself is not very amusing, do not try it again.” She smiled and shook her head, her hair were combed into horn-shape on sides and swing slightly. Fang Qing looked at this young girl, she hardly looked about 16 or 17-year-old in appearance, her smile and speech revealed a her naivety, he was worried about her unconsciously, he was afraid that she was just a single person and might not be good enough to fight that group of robbers.
The young girls said: “Good, you come along with me!”
Fang Qing entered with her in that hut, the young girl said: “You certainly look hungry, I have roasted some tiger meat, eat it first!”
Fang Qing glanced up at the roof and saw the two eyes of the tiger head staring at him and unconsciously lies down in the ground. Fang Qing was startled, the young girl said with a smile: “it is already dead and has lost all his power, what do you fear? Do you even want to peel off his fierce appearance too?”
Fang Qing said: “Did you kill that tiger?”
The young girl said: “Yes, what did you take me for? I looked at the strength of your kick on that peach tree just now, that was more than 300 catties, you too can easily turn a tiger too.”
Fang Qing was startled, this young girl catches a tiger, this seemed like an extraordinary story by just looking at her physical strength and size but obviously she was a top martial art expert.
He ate that rare roasted meat, shortly it was noon, the young girl took out a very precious looking sword from the wall and said: “You come along with me; we will look for those bandits and ask them to return the money.”
They climbed up from the mountain valley and entered the remote forest, after walking for some time, they saw two peaks facing each other, the steep wall rose steeply, under the steep wall; there was a cavern and a stretch of flat land in front of the cavern.
The young girl said: “I think that this is the place they are using for hiding and stashing the plunder.” They moved straight towards the cavern, they suddenly heard a loud voice: “Please keep off this place!” All of sudden two men jumped in front of them on that thick patch of grass, wielding two clubs in their hands and a menacing expression in their face and moved towards them very swiftly!
A young girl turned around as the two clubs attacked her with brutal strength, Fang Qing only saw the two sleeves moving in dazzling motion and both men missed their attack and were off balance. The Young girl made a made her move and the legs of both men gave away and both were lying on the ground with their face in dirt. The young girl sneered at them and did not even looked at them and moved forward very quickly towards the cavern.
The cavern was surrounded by all kinds of rocks and different shaped boulders, some looked like tigers, some like cattle, some in really grotesque shape but that girl didn’t pay attention to any of these and moved incessantly and went inside the cavern.
She again heard a loud voice: “keep of this place!” Suddenly in all this chaos and confusion a blade and a spear moved towards her. The blade moved towards her bosom and spear moved towards her knees.
The young girl immediately leapt up and brandished her sleeves in downward strokes, she sneers and said: “What are you yelling repeatedly…keep off this place!”
The two people continued attacked her withier blade and spear and tried to injure her but although the sword and spear were flying all around, they didn’t manage to even touch her. In a moment suddenly that girl made her move and these two people were also lying flat on their back on the ground, just similar to the two people earlier. By this time Fang Qing was scared and trembling with fear, he did not dare to enter and only saw that young girl beckoning her hand and saying: “Come inside! You are the one who lost his money, why don't you come and ask them personally?”
Fang Qing gathered his courage and walked in to walks into the cavern, he only saw that already four people were lying on the ground and that young girl was in fight with four more people. They had surrounded her from all four sides respectively, two were wielding clubs; one was attacking with a spear and the other by a sword. The young girl had her sword hanging on her waist but has not actually drawn it yet. He saw the clubs, spear and sword attacking her from all side but she kept on moving in a dazzling speed and avoiding each attack as if a butterfly is moving around an intrinsic flower patterns, like a dragonfly playing tricks, her sleeves fluttered in the wind! Fang Qing understood martial arts but when he looked at her, he thought as if his head is spinning and felt dizziness and didn’t dare to look again.
The sword, spear and clubs were moving around her like a rain storm but they were not able to even touch a corner of her skirt let alone injure her! They all fought as single entity, the young girl sneered at them and moved her palm to gently pat the person on her left with the club. The man with the knife and spear immediately attacked her after seeing an opening.
The person with the sword attacked on one side so that other person with spear can attack her from other side. He only felt a strong breeze moving towards him and moved aside as the enemy palm missed him by a hair breadth. He was startled greatly but still rolled in a flash and attacked again. The sword and spear were now attacking in a pincer formation and tried to force the girl away from the man with club. This allowed the man with club to move aside quickly and attack from other direction. The person who got hit earlier had tumbled out several ten feet away and was shocked but rose again and was fortunate that he hasn’t got injured.
By this time the four men were still fighting but were getting discouraged, the young girl feinted to hit north and then hit south, she moved like passing clouds and flowing water, her movement were graceful and effective. Whenever Fang Qing looked at her fighting style closely, he felt dizziness and immediately looked elsewhere, suddenly his vision fell on a person standing at one side in the cavern drawing a bow to shoot, this person was the same person who pretended as a scholar yesterday and deceived him.
Fang Qing was surprised, he called out hurriedly: “It’s a trick, careful!” he heard the sound of bowstring as Meng Ji sent out an arrow!
The young girl in white clothing looked at it as if she did care unexpectedly and brushed her hair. The bowstring sound echoed in the cavern followed by another such sound. Meng Ji had already shot a second arrow in a lightning speed; Fang Qing was skilled in archery and immediately recognized it as the liánzhū archery skill and felt as if his soul is ready to leave his body. This young girl was besieged by clubs, sword and spear and is now facing such a formidable archer. He only saw her flicking two balls in the air towards the arrows. Both of them hit the two arrows in the air and both the arrows fell in the ground at the point of impact. Fang Qing was startled, this young girl had matched the strength of the arrow coming out of the bow of Meng Ji; this was really extraordinary.
Meng Ji cried out: “Good!” In a moment a third arrow moved towards her out of the blue. Fang Qing called out but only saw that the young girl spitted suddenly towards the arrow and deflected it. This was a very rare skill called “nie cu” skill and highly risky and most difficult to practice against an arrow!
The young girl in white clothing had easily deflected the three arrows of Meng Ji, he scowled and suddenly called out: “It discourteous to pay visit without invitation, please return!”
The young girl raised her hand and suddenly launched a 5-6 concealed weapons in the form of peach blossoms.
<End of chapter -1 >
Chapter – 2
Fang Qing did not see what happened clearly but heard several “Oh” repeatedly, not only Meng Ji but other four people surrounding the young girl were also lying on the ground now. Meng Ji took out the two plum blossom shaped concealed weapons and said loudly: “San Hua Nuxia! You live up to your reputation!” As he said these words, the other four men too jumped up and took out the concealed weapon and returned it to her and said simultaneously: “Many thanks to the nuxia (female chivalrous person/Heroine) to show mercy!” Originally these four people were hit by the young girl on their dǎzhòng acupuncture point by her projectiles. Although the speed of the concealed weapon was really fast but the force applied was really gentle. As soon as it hit their acupuncture point, they felt slight numbness and aching but no greater injury and understood that this girl in white clothing is intentionally showing mercy.
The young girl showed a faint smile and said: “So you knew about my origin, there is also a matter of returning my friend's money, are you willing?”
Meng Ji pointed around in the cavern and said: “Unfortunately you came late, the money is already gone in the morning.”
The complexion of the young girl changed as she heard this, Meng Ji said: “Fine …we should move now. I will prepare the fast horses. Master Fang, you were frightened last night.” The face of Fang Qing turned red.
The young girl said: “Such being the case, I will pay a visit your sect leaders. Good, we will come!”
Meng Ji scooped up a delicacy to eat as his people took out several horses. That young girl jumped up on a horseback and did not say a word and rode along with them. The mountain road was rugged, the hillside was leaning steep, and they rode the horses as they passed through the clouds and mist, although Fang Qing was riding horse from his childhood as he was from an aristocratic family but still he found this experience soul-stirring. The horses he had ridden were mostly warhorses and trained over a long period of time. Here Meng Ji was the lead and they were consistently following him and the horses were jumping gorges as if they were running on some flat land.
They moved on for a long period of time, the red glowing sun had now arrived at the culmination, Meng Ji pointed out with his whip: “There is Yanmen pass, Commander Ding is waiting for the soldier's rations and pay, he might be a little distressed if he know about the situation!”
Fang Qing was startled, he asked: “Did we cross Yanmen pass? Are you and your subordinates under the Golden swordsman?”
Meng Ji said: “we might be; why do you ask!”
Fang Qing felt as if a cold bucket of water is poured on his heart, he wanted to say: “This Golden swordsman thief does not plunder the soldier's rations and pay, why did he do that this time….what’s the exception now?
This golden sword thief is a famous bandit in these area, he does not fears the Mongols, he is even not afraid of the Ming dynasty soldiers but looting the rations and pay for the soldiers in Yanmen pass is like toying with a sleeping tiger, if these 100,000 government troops go after him then he will be in deep trouble, whatever this matter is…it is rather unfortunate and worst thing is that I am in the middle of all this.”
Suddenly the horse galloped and turned and he was out of the hills as if he found an oasis in the middle of a desert. Unexpectedly he saw the fertile plain level ground, some people were cultivating it; initially he was confused and thought that this is some kind of a mirage. He have heard that when the horse caravans are advancing on a circuitous mountain roads for a long time, they have illusions however soon he realized that this place is in fact the lair of these bandits and golden sword thief. He even saw them flaunting their banner from afar and soon arrived in front of the village.
Finally they reached their place, the entry was made out of a big mountain block and resembled its original shape, there were spectacular barriers are the entry. Fang Qing was scared and followed after Meng Ji and the young girl heavy-heartedly. As they entered in the place, they only heard loud sounds, as they crossed the main gate; they were greeted by two teams of bandits standing in arrays, fully attired with their sword and spear, their mail-armor and bright helmets. The young girl smiled at them and moved through the sword, spears and halberd calmly, Fang Qing saw all these armed people and was even more afraid now. He simply braced himself and stepped inside following the young girl blindly.
As they entered the big hall, they were expecting someone with fierce appearance waiting for them but unfortunately no one was waiting for them at all.
The complexion of that young girl changed and she asked with an air of apprehension: “Your seniors?”
Meng Ji showed a faint smile as he saw only two straightforward people opening the door and coming inside the hall.
On of the person was holding a big wine jar, the golden tinge on the jar suggested that it was made of brass, it looked pretty heavy but the man holding was giving no impression of its weight and held it casually as he walked in. Behind that man, another person was coming, he held a bulk of roasted ripe beef in his hand, the beef was steaming hot and on each side a shining sharp dagger was inserted.
Two men said in a clear vice together: “Honored guest have already arrived, we haven’t even welcomed them and offered wine. Please accept this.” Even as they were saying these words the person holding the wine jar threw that jar with his big strong hands towards the face of that young girl in white cloths.
The complexion of the young girl surface did not changed at all and she thanked them: “So kind of you.” She curved her arms and tapped the incoming jar from one side. The jar stared moving non stop in a circular motion just like top and unexpectedly did not moved ahead. This wine jar was of about 500 catties and that man has had thrown at her with his enormous power of about 3500 catties, he never expected this young girl to handle it so easily and his face turned red.
The young girl showed a faint smile, caught the jar from its edge and took a big gulp and said: “Nice wine, nice wine!”
The other person immediately moved ahead with a zheng sound a couple of steps and said in a loud voice: “Try this wine, it’s delicious too!” he moved his hands and threw the beef at her with the two daggers still inserted in them. The young girl showed a faint smile, caught the meat by her teeth, took a small bit and spat casually, the two daggers departed in a straight line and inserted in the wooden beam above. Both these person looked at each other and their face reddened.
One of them still didn’t relent, looked at the girl with menacing stare and said in a loud voice: “then we offer this jar of wine too!” his palm ascended outwards and he threw a jar of wine with amazing strength. The wine jar flew straight towards the face of that young girl; if she evaded it then she would lose her face.
Suddenly they saw a young man leapt in their way and rushed to palm away the flying jar. He patted the jar with his back of hand and unexpectedly that jar moving at that enormous speed lost its entire pace and slowly started falling on the same place. Even though the big wine jar landed on the ground but still not even a drop of wine dropped outside. This young man turned his head and reprimanded those two people: “You two stupid people, you don’t even understand the meaning of word respect; you two are a disgrace to all of us.” He held his one fist in the other hand and bowed in front of the young girl and said: “They treated the chivalrous heroine in such a way, please forgive, please forgive!”
Fang Qing looked at that young man and was shocked and somehow manages to stop himself from screaming. This was the same person who has rescued his life last night, he only directed him to look for this young girl.
Yesterday he was dressed as a simple woodcutter but today he looked quite relaxed and dignified, in this corrupt world such a young person with such elegance and skills was pretty uncommon.
The young girl too greeted him and said: “Young master, amazing skills!”
She moved towards him and greeted him and said with a smile: “These people of yours have borrowed the money; my friend here was taking it to Yanmen pass, can you please return back it to him.”
That youth said: “This is matter of some money, it isn’t worth mentioning. Please come and take a seat.” He asked his men to bring back those chests of silvers in the hall. He turned to Fang Qing and said: “You too please, come and have a seat!” he looked at fang Qing as if greeting him and acknowledging their past acquaintance. Fang Qing kept his surreptitious facial expression and thought: “I am fine…you have already done a lot for me!”
Fang Qing stepped aside but his mind was filled with misgivings, he thought about the ground situation and couldn’t think of a solution. Since this youth was also a part of the bandit group who have plundered the money then why did he rescue him? Also why did he direct me to this young girl here? Is it possible that they wanted to bring this young girl here in their own lair and deal with her? We are right inside their hideout, they have their people in around us at this moment; it’s a dangerous situation. Matters of fortune are always unpredictable, fortune and misfortune are unknown and appear suddenly and surprise people. Fang Qing was scared as he came inside their place but now he was totally terrified.
As the time passed, he saw a team of robbers coming back with the wooden box which had silver ingots in them. He moved ahead a step and looked at the young girl.
The girl in white clothing said: “Young master is true to his words, my many thanks!”
That young person smiled suddenly, opened his hand and said: “Hold on a minute!”
The young girl was surprised, she saw the people carrying the wooden box with silvers putting the box on the ground and opened the box. One of them inserted a double flag, from one side one can see a round red glowing sun and from other side a crescent moon. Obviously this flag was the banner of this rebel stronghold.
That youth showed a faint smile, he took out a small silver wine pot and poured two cups of wine. He took one of the cups first and drank; he said with a smile: “Although these thousands of silver are indeed valuable but this banner flag is actually priceless!”
The young girl glanced around in the hall and saw that entire group of these robbers had a facial expression of deep veneration as they looked at the flag and looked at it relentless, she cannot help but was surprised and confused about this whole situation. She asked: “What you mean by that?”
That youth did not reply and only the smiled, the young girl again asked: “This is a banner of your stronghold, this wasn’t taken with the money which my friend had with him; you can keep it. What relation does this have with this money?”
That youth still the smile did not answer but the rest of the robbers actually appeared to scowl.
Fang Qing looked at them and then at the young girl and thought in his heart: “Although the martial arts skills of this young girl is extraordinary but still it looks that she is a novice in terms of customs of martial art world. Unexpectedly she doesn’t understand this basic subterfuge. These robbers have placed their flag in the silver ingots, this means that if you have the skills then tear off this banner flag and take away this money otherwise withdraw. This clearly was an implicit invitation for a fight! This was getting more and more troublesome!”
The young girl asked for two times but he does not reply, she was getting irritated and a started getting angry but saw that the others were not yet acting against her yet. She said: “Fine then, I am just concerned about this money. I will leave your banner flag here.” She moved towards the money and has just stepped forward half step when she heard that youth laughing suddenly, he raised the wine pot and came in front of her and said: “Young Miss, please take a seat and drink!”
The young girl got angry and said: “Who want to drink this wine?” he moved ahead towards the silvers again. Again the that youth pushed that wine pot in front of her with his left hand and held it in front of her face and said: “Won’t you give us some face?”
The wine pot was only thing between that girl and the silver chest. Although the young person moved the wine pot saying casual words but this was a fierce move to stop her moving towards the chest. The young girl moved ahead and took a revolution and tried to smack at the wine pot. This move of that young girl was extremely quick but that youth was also up to the task. He turned around quickly and again pressed the wine pot towards the young girl and blocked her way, the sharp mouth of the wine pot pointed at her face. The young girl was short stature but extremely quick. He again attacked the wine pot with her palm suddenly, even though the youth tried to evade her attack but couldn’t and the cover for a jar flew away and the wine splashed everywhere and the strong fragrance of wine greeted the nostrils of everyone in the hall and complexion for everyone in the hall changed but the young man still managed to hold the wine pot and gripped it tightly in his hand.
Two people have exchanged these two moves, obviously the skills of that young girl was better that youth but despite attacking with her full internal energy she was not able to dislodge that wine pot from his hand so obviously that youth was also not a weak opponent. He regarded this wine pot as a weapon now, turned his heels in a moment and said to the girl: “This pot doesn’t have any wine, I will ask you to enjoy the empty pot.” He used a move called “the meteor hammer” and attacked at her with high speed.
The young girl slanted, took an uneven two steps to evade the attack. She flinched her eyebrows and her facial expression showed her seething anger. She took out her sword. It looked as if a wisp of cold brightness moved towards the chest of that youth but he escapes the attacked and also drew back two steps, the wine pot covering his chest and gave her no opening. That young girl again brandished her sword and said in anger: “You are quite impolite; this is how you keep your words!”
Everyone in the hall moved back and gave them enough room to fight but on the other hand they also surrounded both of them so they can’t run away so easily.
Fang Qing was scared and felt as if he was standing on dying embers. He thought that even if this young girl have some kind of huge magical powers still it would be difficult to break this siege and get out of this robber stronghold. He was almost certain that both these people will be cut to hash! As he was thinking about his safety and escape route, the atmosphere of that big hall changed suddenly. Just as the two of them were on verge to start the duel, every one was scared and silent and that youth too backed away and every on everyone in the hall besieging them relaxed and took a step back.
Suddenly he heard the sound of a bugle coming from afar and someone announced: “The helmsman arrives!”
That youth moved back quickly and everyone withdrew and stood in an ordered manner as the chief of these rebels arrived. The chief entered the hall steadily, his manner was dignified and everyone showed deep respect for him. He looked over 60-year-old but was still very fit and healthy. The young girl looked at him and greeted him. She asked: “Are you the Helmsman then?”
That old person showed a faint smile and said: “I heard that the young lady has crossed the mountains to come here, I apologize that I was not here to greet you.” As he said he looked at the girl with deep interest.
The young girl looked embarrassed and said to him: “I have long heard of the reputation of Helmsman, you are chivalrous and unparalleled, today I and my friend have come here to pay a visit and also to ask for a favor to the helmsman.”
The old man spoke thoughtlessly: “yes...yes.” He asked suddenly: “Miss, can I know your date of birth?”
The young girl was not expecting such a question and was startled for a moment. He was confused and said: “Is it possible that helmsman thinks that since I am young, my skills and knowledge is shallow, I have not crossed these mountains to just ask for a favor to you?”
The old person said calmly: “Young miss, you don’t speak discreetly.”
The young girl said: “My friend here was taking 402,000 silver ingots to Yanmen pass, this was the soldier's rations and pay. Helmsman, this act of your people has not only put in the risk of his life but also several thousand officers in Yanmen pass. They won’t have anything to eat!”
The old person smile and said: “How can be it that I am not aware of these facts?”
The young girl said: “Senior helmsman, since you are aware of the seriousness of the situation, you should return the money.”
The old person stroked his beard steadily and said with a smile: “Young miss, you should be also aware of something.”
The young girl said: “I will ask the helmsman to instruct me.”
That old person pointed at the flag and said: “It is a custom for us bandits that if we have plundered something then we can’t return it back just like that. The money matter is small but this flag's prestige has to be preserved. Miss, since you asked favor for this mister, I too have to look at the interest of my fellow bandits Otherwise they won’t be convinced.”
The young girl got angry; she sneered and said: “Now I understand why it is said that knowing a person by his reputation is not as good as meeting him face-to-face, who knew that what you heard about someone is not that true. Good, good! In this case I will ask the helmsman to instruct me!”
That old person smiled and said: “Young lady, in this world, what you see sometimes is not the reality! How can it be that you act with such naivety? Do you blame me for not returning the money without any resistance?”
The young girl swiveled her eyes, did not said anything as if throwing a tantrum like a child and simply stared at him. That old person laughed and said: “Fine, I have one way out for this situation. You have already come with a sword to our place, as a matter of fact; you have profound attainments in the martial art skills. Good, I will use my golden sword and ask for your advice in swordsmanship. Although you are very young but I am sure that you have learnt from a very capable master, since you are from a younger generation my sword will be forgiving. If you mange to win then I will return these 402,000 silver and will be personally responsible for its safe delivery, I won’t go back on my words!”
As he said these words, he poured out the wine and drank two cups; he suddenly took up the two cups in his hands and said fiercely: “Why are these two daggers struck in that wooden beam?” He threw the two wine cups at the daggers. The two cups broke in to several fragments as the cup struck the daggers but the two daggers also fell on the ground and shattered. This was highly unexpected and was a casual show of the deep internal strength of this old man!
The young girl was startled for a moment, actually unconsciously she went ahead empty-handed to face the opponent but when she saw that the internal strength of this old man is extremely good, she immediately discarded the impression that this person will be easy to face. She drew out her sword and moved ahead to face him. The old man still was sitting in a huge chair, a small wine cup in one hand.
She said: “I ask the elder for some pointers.” The old person looked towards her and said in a approving sound: “Good sword!” He lifted his hand as he saw two of his sub-ordinates coming with his glittering golden broadsword. He received the broadsword and looked at his broadsword and said with a smile: “Golden blade, this time you might have bumped into your match.”
The two people stood in front of each other, the young girl knew that she is from a younger generation so didn’t wanted to attack first; she just started to caress the sword hilt, the sword pointing towards ground. This was a way for a young person to pay respect to the elder generation; the old man modestly declined o attack first with his hand and regressed backwards and said: “Fine, let’s start.”
He hears one a slight rush of breeze as that young girl made a move called “to put butterfly on flower”, the sword skill was exquisite and the style was elegant. The old man called out: “Good”, he made a counter move called “phoenix seizes the nest” and forced the young girl backwards. The young girl was startled; she did not expected that this old man with golden broadsword will be able to counter attack so quickly as if like a young person and withdrew backwards to evade the vicious attack.
The old man got the better of her in the first attack and seizes the initiative. His sub-ordinates were surrounding them from all sides now and they cheered loudly as they saw this move.
Fang Qing was the only person looking at this fight with a glum expression and was worried about this young girl.
He saw the young girl leaping high in the air and brandished sword to attack. He saw the streaks of light she attacked very swiftly. He heard a loud ringing sound as the swords collided. By the time the move completed the young girl was already about ten feet away from them and the old person was still wielding the broadsword in horizontal manner across his chest, he called out: “Sword is good, the swordsmanship is even better! No one got the better of each other this time, let’s do it again, come again!”
The martial art skills of Fang Qing were pretty mediocre so he was not able to see strength and precision of this move by that young girl. He did not understand why this old person was looking startled and cannot see the reason why he was explicitly asking her to attack again. A moment ago, that move from the young girl snatched the early advantage the old man had, the sudden diving posture and the quick sword attack in reality looked very pleasing to eye but extremely difficult to handle and that old man was barely able to block out the attack with his broadsword.
The young girl too gasped for breath slightly, although she was able to find an opening in the movement of that golden broadsword but the old man still compelled her about ten steps back. Obviously he was highly skilled too and she realized that even if he was inferior to her in sword skill but he was vastly experience and will use it to his advantage.
Both people have traded one move and were now more watchful and prepared respectively, when they fought again, the situation was much different. Fang Qing saw the young girl moving around like a butterfly moving around a flower, the sword moved extremely quickly and he was not able to keep track of her attacks. The movement of the young girl was very quick and vigorous and the people watching her felt dizziness. In the midst of this tempest, the old man stood upright like a mountain and remained unmoved. He heard the young girl scolding him fiercely and at the same time her sword moves were getting more offensive as if a stream of river is suddenly let loose in a garden, her sword moves looked insane, sometimes it was vertical. At time horizontal and the swiftness of the attack was even hard to describe!
It looked as if the old man with golden broadsword was actually wielded his broadsword very slowly but no matter what her sword move was or how unusual and insane it looked, he did not move unexpectedly. Although the broadsword movements were measured and conservative but the sword wind generated was actually ear-splitting and vicious. In a moment, they exchanged about 570 moves; the robbers were looking this duel with intense concentration, they were now not sure that their leader will be able to win this battle. Although Fang Qing cannot understand the strategic moves but he was able to see the change in facial expression of these people and could easily feel the anxiety of the group by now, he too was also in the same boat and his felt as if joints are shivering and he is sitting on some ice slabs.
During the moves, he heard the old person calling out fiercely: “go steady!” The golden light dodged the white light as the young girl withdrew about ten feet as she heard him, the complexion of everyone turned pale!
The young girl took several steps backward and rubbed her hands against the sword, she too was surprised that she was not able to defeat this old person even after such a fierce attack and he withstood the attack without moving a singles step. She wielded her sword again and attacked her with a different sword skill this time. People only saw her blue front splayed as if strong winds are sweeping a leaf, a sharp straight sword thrust like a rainstorm bent on destroying the flower, the sword light bent around the old man from all directions while they only saw the young girl's shadows. The sword light came from east and then suddenly from west, it gathered suddenly, and then suddenly disperses, flies fast as if it has startled a great wild goose and this time not only Fang Qing but everyone in the hall was dazzled by this sword play. This time even the old man was skeptic about her next attack and used up all his experience to fend her off;
This sword skill of this young girl was wonderful, this was an exquisite sword play, when it looked that she was going to attack then it resulted in just a fake move, in reality it was really difficult to ascertain. The old man with the golden sword decided to close all the openings and relied on the defense against such a ferocious attack. In a moment they exchanged about 350 moves again, it was actually a mixture of truth and deceit, the variations emerged one after another incessantly, although the old man did not even move half step, his facial expression were still dignified but obviously he was in big trouble and fighting was much more strenuous. The old man slanted his golden broadsword to attack the opponent.
He suddenly lowered his guard to counter attack, the broadsword used about 80% of his strength but he came empty-handed as she easily evaded her attack. The old man could resist the temptation and took two steps forward to attack her again suddenly. Until now he was holding his position and concentration on defense but this time he moved to attack and in fact gave the opponent an opening in his iron clad defense.
The young girl was slow in reacting to his sudden offensive and couldn’t take advantage of this opening. The swords again collided as the old man advanced and attacked her repeatedly. The momentum of attack was much slower now compared to earlier but the old person utilized all his experience and forced the young girl back step by step but the strength of sword play was not diminished and the two people fought without anyone gaining any further ground. Fang Qing saw that young girl was not at all afraid of any backlash. He looked around and found that the entire hall was in total silence now. Everyone was as if holding his breathe and looking at this duel and not a single person dare to emit any sound. This was completely different to the time when that old man had a slight advantage against this young girl.
All the bandits were surprised to see the sword skills of this young girl, her sword skill had the grace of the swordsmanship of Wudang and Shaolin and on the other hand she displayed a sense of primal chaos in her sword's strategic move, moving so swiftly from one place to another showing her lightness martial art and also facing the Golden broadsword without any problem showing her good internal energy too.
They were both surprised and also worried but their leader too has not showed any weakness till now and was brandishing his sword with intent and strength.
The old man with golden broadsword pressed forward steadily and cautiously, the young girl suddenly removed her sword backward, several people called out immediately: “Be careful!” In a moment the young girl sneered at them and leapt high in the air. The sword moved like a rainbow as she attacked downwards trying to stab him! The old man laughed out suddenly and shouted: “Let go!”
The young girl attack was perfect and he didn’t have many options to block this move. He suddenly brought the golden broadsword a knife to block her attack and fend her off for a moment but in reality he knew that he can’t resist her further. The old man was experienced and had abundant knowledge to let go his ego and accept the reality of his defeat.
The people in the hall were alarmed when the girl made that attack but were relived when the old man blocked her attack but their cheers were put to stop in the next instance when they saw that the golden broadsword was flying out his hand and struck the wooden beams at the ceiling. They did not know that how exactly did that young girl managed to defeat their leader. They only heard their leader saying “letting go” and in a couple of moves he lost.
Originally the young girl did not knew how to defeat this old man despite her several efforts being thwarted but he started to take the risk and went on offensive and displayed some openings. She too took a massive risk and attacked him, even though he managed to block her attack but when the golden broadsword block her sword she attacked with her leg and deflected the direction of his sword. The old man did not expect this attack and had to let go the broadsword to save him from the sword.
The young girl stood in front of them, gave a sweet smile and said in a delicate voice: “Elder, Can I take this silver now!”
She saw the old man’s smile suddenly turning to grief and a teardrop came out of his eye.
The young girl was startled for a moment and thought in her heart: “How come this old hero is crying over a duel, is he crying because his defeat?”
In her heart she actually felt sorry, she thought that he might be concerned of losing his face in front of his sub-ordinates. He only is responsible for that; in fact he only proposed this idea of duel.
The old man controlled himself and gave a smile to her; he put his hand in his long gown and slowly extracted a small banner flag, actually it was extremely short and lower….perhaps it was broken and looked really old and worn out. Above the banner flag several sparse old wools were coming out. The young girl saw that banner flag and the complexion of her face changed suddenly; she cried and kneeled in front of him.
This was shocking and beyond expectation. The old man took the banner flag in his left hand and pulled the young girl slowly with his right hand. He laughed and said with a smile: “Yun Jing has such a granddaughter; he would be content in the nether world!”
The young girls sobbed and couldn’t controlled her tears as she saw that broken flag, she remembered this flag clearly from about ten years ago when her grandfather showed him that. At that time she was only then seven-year-old child, she was returning back to china with her grandfather Yun Jing on a donkey cart, she took out this banner flag and told her the story of his misery and resilience. At the present when she saw this flag again, all the memories flooded back in an instant and she remembered his demise and couldn’t restrain herself from weeping bitterly.
The old man wiped the tears by his sleeve and said suddenly: “You are not a child any more, you have crossed mountains and are a chivalrous heroine who came to ask for the plundered money, you cannot cry! Wipe the tears quickly; we will talk about this matter later!”
The young girl turned around, took a diving posture and jumped lightly towards the cross beam and plucked out the golden broadsword sword. She arrived in front of the old man and kneeled down and lifted the broadsword and said: “Grand uncle, please accept this broadsword!”
By this time Fang Qing was sure of his death, he thought in his heart: “this is bad…this is really bad! I relied on this girl to help me but actually they are unexpectedly all related!”
The old person received the golden broadsword and said: “You get up, please hide this broken banner flag. Although I hate the sight of this banner flag but it was one of the last possessions of your grandfather.”
The young girl took the flag from her and kept it. The old man looked at Fang Qing and said: “Fang Qing, you come here!”
Fang Qing was shivering with fear, he moved towards him. The old man smiled at him and called out two people and said: “You two have to escort Fang Qing and these 402,000 silver coins to the Yanmen pass.”
Fang Qing was overjoyed, he kowtowed to express his gratitude, suddenly he remembered about his sub-ordinates and rest of the escort party?
The old man immediately understood what he was thinking and said to the nearby person to open the gate. He saw all his soldiers coming with another group of soldiers bringing the mules. They were already arranged and ready to leave.
The old man said with a smile: “Please check that we are returning all the money?”
Wow! Extraordinary speed of translation! Congratulations and thank you:)
Agreed. I check this thread every day now and am always excited to find updates :D
Fang Qing was really happy as he saw his people safe; suddenly he remembered about something and gathered his courage to say: “The soldier's rations and pay are here but there were also about 10 mules more which were loaded with cargo for Commander Ding.”
The old man laughed and said: “Commander Ding smuggles cargo? You are not taking it back with you, do you have any problem with that!”
Fang Qing was startled, he thought that although he has returned the soldier's rations and pay but he is not returning the smuggled goods. He has already saved me from death…what else can I say. He kowtowed again and said in a low voice: “Helmsman has already showed mercy, I won’t be punished severely for these. I thank you for saving my life!”
The old man said with laughter: “Give this to Commander Ding for me and you…don’t give up on me so easily.” He fished out an envelope from his bosom; it had a red ribbon tied around it.
Fang Qing looked at the envelope and saw words written on the envelope: “Offering a meager gift to Commander Ding.”
Fang Qing was startled; Commander Ding was the troop commander of Yanmen pass and a senior military officer. Unexpectedly this old man was offering him a gift. This matter was really surprising and even though he raked his mind but couldn’t see any sense in this behavior. How could he have expected that this old man with golden broadsword was in fact the former commander of the Yanmen pass, Zhou Jian and Commander Ding was actually his sub-ordinate?
Zhou Jian said with a smile: “I believe that you are done here now, Good, I will call someone to escort you.” He gave his orders to escort the military officers to Yanmen pass along with the soldier's rations and to arrange for the food for them too. Zhou Jian said with a smile: “Once you will deliver these soldier's rations and pay to Commander Ding then only you might feel relieved.” Fang Qing knew well that with his other military officers he might be able to avert any other misfortune. This was actually a blessing in disguise. If some sinister might have attacked then they would never be able to come out alive, actually they have saved him many troubles.
Zhou Jian went ahead to see the visitors out, that military officer and Fang Qing expressed gratitude over and over again, Zhou Jian said to that military officer: “You are doing a good job, fighting against the foreign intruders to save your country. Perhaps someday we might join out forces to cope against them. Don’t ever forget this incident of yesterday, do not forget.”
That military officer said continually: “Yes…yes…we won’t!”
Zhou Jian waved and said: “Meng Ji, you see them out to the mountains for me. Put that double flag for the time being in there and remove it when you are closer to the Yanmen pass.”
Fang Qing knew that inserting this double flag would be equal to this old man with golden broadsword himself escorting them and they would be safe in this region this way. He turned around to express gratitude again.
Meng Ji smiled and went ahead with Fang Qing shoulder to shoulder and said with a smile: “Master Fang, after you go back, you should try to improve your archery skills too!”
Fang Qing remembered how he boasted about his skills and ultimately directed everyone to this point. He felt embarrassed and his face turned red unconsciously.
After Zhou Jian and the rest of the people left, he turned towards the young girl and said with a smile: “A’Lei, come with me!” Yun Lei was full of suspicions, ten years ago, she and Zhou Jian had once met before at the Yanmen pass when her grandfather died but Yun Lei was only seven years old and couldn’t recall his appearance. Zhou Jian as if knew her thoughts, said with a smile: “Today, if I had plotted this whole incident then I would not have forced you to come here and saw your martial art skill. Finally I was able to recognize you!”
Yun Lei was then suddenly enlightened. In the heart she thought: “He forced me to cross these mountains to come to this place, he did all this elaborate planning just to meet me here and probably wanted to play a big joke with troop commander of Yanmen pass. Unexpectedly, this conduct of grand-uncle is really unconventional.” She was still pretty young and was naïve in the martial art realm. Although she did not say anything with her mouth but a discontent clearly showed in her facial expression.
Zhao Jian looked at her and said: “My little granddaughter, how can you know the reason that I asked my people to plunder the soldier's rations and pay?”
Yun Lei said: “Didn’t you say that you have done this to bring me here? Actually if you have asked me then I would have come myself.”
Zhou Jian said: “How?”
Yun Lei said: “Ten years ago, Taoist priest Chao Yin saved me at Yanmen pass; he brought me to North Sichuan at the XiaoHan Mountain and gave me to my master to foster.”
Zhou Jian asked: “Is your master nicknamed Flying dragon Ye Yingying?”
Yun Lei nodded and said: “I studied for ten years, after that master asked me to descend the mountain. She gave me the grandfather's letter written in blood and also told me that my grandfather truly hated that person Zhang Zhongzhou who made him to herd horses for 20 years but was actually killed because of this royal government official Wang Zhen. However the real situation is not that clear to master. She said that you are my grandfather’s best friend, in the past when my grandfather died; you took enormous risk and tried to save him near this border pass. She heard that you have left the military and joined the rebels but was not really sure about the veracity of these rumors therefore she asked me to look for you once I descend the mountain.”
Zhou Jian shook his head and gave a forced smile. He said: “Your grandfather has died for ten years, this matter is still unsettled and no one knows the truth. He told her about the situation at that time. He said: “Zhang Zongzhou and Wang Zhen have colluded but the death of your grandfather was really bewildering. I am not sure who was genuinely responsible for his death. I am still was also confused.”
Yun Lei said: “I treat these two people as my personal enemy, out of these two; Zhang Zongzhou is the first personal enemy.”
Zhou Jian nodded and said: “This matter is not that straight forward!”
Yun Lei said: “I carry two generations of deep hatred; I will try to take revenge until my heart stops beating.”
Zhou Jian sighed slightly; Yun lei looked at him and continued: “Before I arrived at Yanmen pass, I heard bout the reputation of Golden swordsman and the double flag, I suspected that it might be my granduncle who is leading this group. However I was not sure so I stayed in the butterfly valley and wanted to ascertain that it was indeed you and might have come to pay my respects after confirmation.”
Zhou Jian said with a smile: “This I knew from the start. You may know, after you descended the mountain, once you used the plum blossom shaped projectiles to defeat several groups of bandits therefore they started calling you San Hua Nuxia (san=throw, Hua=flower/blossom; Nuxia=heroine) in the martial art realm.”
Yun Lei said: “This name is actually pleasant to hear but I really did not know about that.”
Zhou Jian said: “You live in the butterfly valley; I already knew about that however I also wasn’t sure that you are in fact Yun lei. This is why I design this plot to direct you to come out of the valley and compare your skills in martial art.”
Yun Lei said: “But this is what I was thinking earlier and you said that I am mistaken. I thought that granduncle has plundered the Yanmen pass soldier's rations and pay so that I can come here and ask for a duel with granduncle.”
Zhou Jian smiled and said: “I always do not plunder the soldier's rations and pay, this time I have plundered but despite the fact that you were involved was not the only reason. This act of mine was for greater issue we are facing right now!”
Yun Lei asked: “What is that?”
Zhou Jian said: “This matter is related to the deconstruction of this village and might be finally related to the deteriorations of the 90,000 miles big Ming Empire!”
Yun Lei was startled; she said: “What?”
Zhou Jian looked up and said: “This is early, you have not slept at all, please recuperate by resting for some time, tonight I also want you to help me to do an important matter.” He wielded his hand to signal, immediately a bell rung and they heard the beats of a drum, in a moment that youth and another chieftain who fought with Yun Lei earlier walked in and said: “We ask the helmsman to dispatch the troops.”
Zhou Jian nodded, refers to that youth and said: “He is called Zhou Shanmin; he is actually your uncle despite the difference between your ages.”
Yun Lei greeted him and said: “I offended you earlier, my apologies.”
Zhou Shanmin said with a smile: “A woman and a chivalrous person, a chivalrous person who is so young, this niece of mine is better that her uncle.”
After that he called some people to show Yun Lei a place to rest. Yun Lei woke up when she heard the sound of the bugle to gather everyone.
She came out for the dinner in a spacious village hall. Now only a few guards were remaining in the hall, Yun Lei asked: “Are we facing the government troops?”
Zhou Jian said: “No.”
Yun Lei asked: “Then are we against the Mongolian troops?”
Zhou Jian said: “this also I don’t know.”
Yun Lei was full of suspicions, she said: “Granduncle has deployed troops, why is that?”
Zhou Jian said: “Do not ask; first come with me to a place and then we will talk.”
Zhou Jian and Yun lei went out of the village, they saw the star-studded sky, it was already night.
Zhou Jian and Yun lei climbed up the east side of the mountain peak, everywhere there were bushes, thorns, pointed rocks and complete silence. They entered deeper and went ahead, Yun Lei was full of suspicions. She thought that the granduncle is the helmsman of the stronghold, since he has mobilized soldiers to go out, what we are doing in this barren mountain. Actually no person will even think of traveling through his mountain region alone by night but despite raking her brains, she was not able to think of any valid explanation. As they went ahead she heard the sound of water flowing in a distant place. As they moved further she heard more sound of gushing water and resembled some kind of a stream. Zhou Jian put out a hand and stopped behind a rock.
Under the sparse star light, she was able to see the dignifiedly countenance of Zhu Jian. He put his ears to ground to listen of any movement and suddenly said: “Ohhh…” he said aloud: “Have I made a mistake?”
Yun Lei strained her ear too and found that she couldn’t hear any other sound. She asked: “What does granduncle hear?”
Zhou Jian said: “Look at that side. Under the cliff, there is a mountain valley which is surrounded by hills, in the valley the fields are used for cultivation; they are totally dependent on this stream. We have constructed an artificial lake dam; this stone dam is approximately two buildings high, however the bund is not big but its enough for the hundred dozens of Chinese acres of land in this valley. Here in this mountainous region, water is scarce and we are entirely relying on this lake water for irrigation, most of them cultivate for living so in reality this lake is our village's lifeline.”
In the last ten years, there is vast improvement in the population and wealth of this village, once it was a barren hill and now is a fertile farmland because of this lake.
He sounded very self-satisfied, subsequently he said: “But the Mongolian officers do not let us live in contentment, the day before yesterday I received a confidential report from a scout that Mongolians are sending a master to steal into this area and destroy this lake dam.”
Yun Lei said: “This lake dam looks strong; it will require several people of high strength to destroy.”
Zhou Jian said: “You don’t realize that this is the beginning of the spring, every spring a strong mountain torrent creates a disaster, we are in the place of upper reaches but still we also construct several blocks of embankment. Even if there is a big hole in the embankment then the torrent can flood the mountain valley. If this happens then several thousand acres of fertile farmlands will be drowned and wasted.”
Yun lei clenched her jaws and said: “This is really hateful; if they come then I will give them a sword.”
Zhou Jian said: “This is a dangerous situation; we have to continue resisting them.” As soon as he spoke, he heard a different sound and got up suddenly; Zhou Jian listened for a moment and said: “This is strange!”
Yun Lei asked: “What is strange?”
Zhou Jian said: “Listen to this sound, It looks that more than ten riders on horses are pursuing a fleeing criminal. A moment ago they were pursuing in west direction but now they are actually coming to us. Well, these people are not familiar with the path, they are kind of running in circles and taking a zigzag route. The sound was small but can you hear?”
Yun Lei shook her head, Zhou Jian said with a smile: “You will make a living as a wandering fortune-teller from now on, put your ears on the ground to listen and try to verify my words, this may need some practice.”
He moved downward and said: “I have calculated that surely they will try to destroy tonight but listening to this sound, I think they are pursuing some fleeing criminal unexpectedly, is it possible that they will change their plans?”
Yun Lei wanted to ask how Zhou Jian has calculated that they will come tonight but saw Zhou Jian making a hand signal suddenly and hinted her to keep silent. They saw a figure only seventy-eighty feet outside the mountain peak; suddenly two people appeared out of the shadows. Zhou Jian was not able to detect their arrival even by hearing the ground that suggested that their martial art skills were pretty high.
In the moonlight they saw only two people sitting side by side on the mountain top, a person raised his hand to point out: “Tomorrow by midday; this entire surrounding area… hundred miles of land and village will be razed. Ha, this will be a new chapter is the history of our country. The troop commander in Yanmen pass will seek help first. After we remove this golden swordsman then taking this Yanmen pass will be as easy as pie. Once the Yanmen pass falls then the road to the capital is not that difficult, the Ming empire, the entire 90,000 miles of landscapes will be our! Commander Tantai, this contribution of yours won’t be small!”
He laughed heartily as his laughter echoed the valley. Yun Lei was startled as he only heard the other person: “This is a divine strategy of the Khan, no one would have expected this and we also have no alternative but to be carefully, tomorrow if the troop commander of Yanmen pass doesn’t send the troops to aid then our troops are divided in four groups, it is actually dividing our forces, we might end up in a dangerous situation? If we shrink the four groups is two groups, then it would have been much more steadier.”
The other person laughed and said: “Ming Dynasty emperor wants to exterminate this Golden sword thief pretty badly, he can’t think to utilize the total military strength of Yanmen pass to encircle them, I do not fear that they will fail to keep an appointment, this is the once in a thousand years opportunity, the senior general resorts to arms, how can one fraught with uncertainty?” as he said he laughed heartily.
Yun Lei thought in her heart: “This Commander Tantai…is it possible that this is the same Tantai who fought with elder fellow-disciple of master, is his name Tantai Mieming? If so then he was the one responsible for killing my father and is enemy too, tonight I may be able to kill him.”
She only heard that person called “Commander Tantai” saying: “Khan should be careful; this place is not that far from that village.” That foreigner laughed and said: “I am afraid that they won’t come out, as we prepare to destroy the bund to put the water out, they will attack to save it. If they surround us then we are although few people but are skilled enough to hold their main forces as our four crack teams will attack from outside and will meet no resistance. By their martial art skills, how can they seized us and will be sacrificed on that dam. I will like to destroy more than ten dogfaces at that dam.”
Yun Lei criticized their ruthless treacherous plan in her heart and was also enlightened by the conduct of Zhou Jian and thought: “Originally granduncle deployed troops earlier today so he can cope with those four groups of foreigner’s troops. On the other hand he asked me to come here so I can assist him in saving the dam. This was really was a good strategy, granduncle is really worthy leader and senior general, I actually thought a few moments ago that he was the only person who was evading danger but actually he is the only one facing it.”
Yun Lei grasped her sword hilt, her facial complexion showed that she was anxious but Zhou Jian shook his head and hinted to calm down and do not act rashly. They heard that Commander Tantai saying: “How haven't they come yet?”
That Khan was walking up and down on the mountain peak and appeared anxious. Commander Tantai said suddenly: “What person are they pursuing?”
They only heard the sound of horse's hoof from be far, as they came near, they saw a person riding a horse running out in the canyon and ten riders chasing him and closing him down. The horses leap forward in the fields; that Khan scolded and said: “Damn it!”
He pulled out his iron bow. Tantai Mieming called out: “Khan, do not kill him!”
The words just came out as the Khan whizzed an arrow towards him.
In this flash, Zhou Jian patted Yun Lei and said: “Kill that Khan!” The two people leapt out, Yun Lei resembled a swallow as she flew out towards the mountain top. Yum lei took out six “plum blossom butterfly dart” and threw three at Tantai Mieming and three at the Khan. She hated that Tantai Mieming as he was responsible for killing her father so she wanted to get rid of him first and did not listen to Zhou Jian’s instruction unexpectedly and attacked both of them at same time.
She only heard Tantai Mieming laughing as he easily deflected the darts with his double hooks but actually heard a loud “Ahhh” sound from that Khan. He threw his bow and staggered a couple of steps; he then stood firm and scolded: “Good young thief, you took us unawares!” He extracted a sword from his waist and came forward, although his stature looked a bit curved as he stood.
Originally Yun Lei used her “plum blossom butterfly dart” technique, it was unique skill which Flying dragon Ye Yingying passed on to him and can hit any of the 36 acupuncture points on his body. This was an excellent martial art skill, the added advantage was that he has just shot an arrow and secondly it was highly unexpected as Yun Lei attacked with some quickness that he only was able to deflect two of the darts but couldn’t stop the third which hit his leg, near the joint, although he only applied his internal strength to keep himself from falling but moving with the injured leg was not that easy. If Yun lei had attacked with all the six darts then he wouldn’t be able to evade.
Yun Lei threw six darts and both enemies were still standing, she was surprised. She saw that Tantai Mieming still eating delicacies and moved towards her, strangely he had a cheerful personal appearance. Yun Lei took out her sword, clenched her teeth and moved her sword to stab him.
<End of Chapter-2 >
Chapter - 3
第三回 陌路遇強徒偷施妙手 風塵逢異士暗戲佳人
Tantai Mieming took out his double hook and looked at her opponent; he saw a young girl and shouted: “Call out some elders from your family; my double hook does not kill a nameless junior.”
Yun Lei moved her sword like the wind, moved quickly and tried to stab him with a straight thrust to his front, Tantai Mieming blocked this attack with his double hooks and also applied his internal energy and the sword of Yun lei bounced off him. He shouted loudly again: “Wild girl; you are courting death?”
Yun Lei did not flinch at all and made another move called “piercing through the white rainbow” and attacked, Tantai Mieming turned his bright double hook to trap her sword. The hooks caught the sword of Yun lei at the middle, she turned quickly and bounced off her sword and attacked Tantai Mieming even though their weapons were locked. This was a suicidal move and both would have been hurt. Tantai Mieming was quite surprised, he withdrew his right hook but Yun Lei was on his wrong side so he was unsteady on his feet and was compelled to withdraw three steps continually. Yun wanted to kill his opponent, she again attacked ferociously, took a diving posture to attacked with the sword right in the face of Tantai Mieming.
He wrinkled his eyebrows and said: “Who taught you such fighting technique? You do not give a thought to your life, how will cope with some powerful enemy?”
Yun Lei said: “I must risk death to kill you!”
Tantai Mieming thought that fist I should overpower her and then only will ask why she is willing to risk her death to kill me. He moved ahead to show off his power, he made a quick double hook maneuver to attract her attack but who would have thought that this little girl won’t at all consider his move and was not swindled, she apparently made a crude attack on him again with great incoming force, Tantai Mieming truncated his move suddenly and called out: “trapped in my own net”. He moved his left hand hook unexpectedly and brushed off her attack and called out: “Good swordsmanship!”
The double hook took the advantage of her decisiveness of attack. Yun Lei thought that she was sure that he was working on some maneuver but how did he blocked her attack. She also felt numbness in her hand as the sword collided with the hooks. Now Tantai Mieming was attacking and she quickly resisted the attack somehow. He heard Tantai Mieming saying suddenly: “Are you a disciple of Xuanzi Yishi?”
As he said these words, Yun Lei attacked with her sword ferociously, he countered her attack easily. She got angry and said: “You are not good enough to utter the name of my master’s teacher?”
Tantai Meiming laughed out heartily and attacked with his double hooks. The double hooks and the sword engaged in a ruthless revolution and both were sucked in to the fight. He was compelled to take some steps back but Yun Lei continued to move forward. She was getting more and more ruthless; Tantai Mieming moved three steps back but Yun lei counter-attacked with four steps forward.
Tantai Mieming said: “You know, even your master is not my match,”
Actually this was a bit of exaggeration from Tantai Mieming as he and Xie Tianhua had a duel about ten years back but he never fought with her master flying dragon Ye Yingying. Yun Lei ignored his talk and kept her concentration on the attack, the sword and the double hook were entangled; it was more of a fight of attrition. It looked as if a silver light is being attacked by a couple of silver snakes. They moved this way for about 20 moves, the physical strength of Yun lei was weak and by this time she was feeling it pretty difficult to keep up with Tantai Mieming..
It was getting difficult for her to hold the sword and resists his attack. Suddenly Tantai Mieming removed his right hook and let go her sword from the entanglement.
Yun Lei called out: “Father, the daughter cannot revenge for you!” She kept on fighting him off but she knew perfectly well that the enemy is too powerful to defeat, just at the moment when she thought that the sword was getting heavier and she won’t be able to hold it further, Tantai Mieming released the hooks.
As soon as Tantai Mieming heard her words, she shouted: “Oh no, you are that small girl, granddaughter of Yun Jing?”
Yun Lei backhand her sword and scolded: “Traitor, you also have a face to utter the name of my grandfather!”
Tantai Mieming was suddenly filled with rage, he sneered and said: “I, Tantai Mieming will always be traitor to people like you, your kind of people are only chivalrous hero and loyal minister. Even though you are killed by your own people, even if the loyal ministers are killed by plotting for your own countrymen, I will the traitor and will be held responsible!” The double hook turned and attacked viciously. A horizontal move and then a fake move and he went for a kill. Although Yun lei had good sword skills but how could she block against this exquisite move? She knew that she won’t be able to fend off his attack for long.
As they were fighting here, they only heard some voices from the valley among the fields. As if several Mongols got killed by some invisible ghost in this dark night. Actually it was Zhou Jian who caught the soldiers unawares and killed them as Yun Lei engaged Tantai Mieming. As Yun Lei was somehow evading the ferocious outburst from Tantai Mieming, they heard that Khan calling out suddenly: “Commander Tantai, do not prolong this fight now; that Golden sword thief has come!”
As soon as he said these words, Zhou Jian came up the mountain with his golden broadsword in his hand. He immediately made a series of three moves to attack Tantai Mieming. Tantai Mieming unexpectedly moved his right hook to wards enemy sword and brushed off the attack one by one.
Tantai Meiming said: “Today I am not a traitor; I will finish this discussion once and for all. Is it also unfair Golden swordsman?"
He moved in a flash and sneered at him and attacked with his double hook and said: "Well, let me see your skills with this Golden broadsword?" he attacked all out, intercepted, tried to hook and then blocked his attack and burst out in a big laugh to say: "What Golden broadsword, in my opinion this nothing but a scrap metal." He moved and his hooks flashed like a lightening, they collided with the broadsword and a sonorous sound rang through the valley. Zhou Jian jumped out furiously. Yun Lei felt an acute pain in her head but she still moved her sword to attack Tantai Mieming.
The broadsword of Zhou Jian was heavy on the other hand the sword of Yun Lei light but extremely swift and fierce. Now he was fighting against two people with different skills. All of the three people were ferocious and attacking very boldly. Tantai Mieming was attacking with amazing swiftness, his double hooks moving like a pair of silver snakes looking for a kill, although he was fighting against two people but most of the defending was done by these two only.
Zhou Jian and Yun Lei both were not able to attack at all and were startled, they thought in their heart: “For a long time we have heard that this person is the number one fighter among the Mongols, it looks that he really lives up to his reputation. He is such a talented person; unexpectedly he is serving the foreigners, what a pity!”
Good translation Abhay....Liked the story :)
They suddenly heard the Khan calling again: “Commander Tantai, the time has arrived, no need to prolong this fight, finish it off quickly!”
Zhou Jian was suddenly awake as an idea crossed his mind and he thought: “I should get to the heart of the problem, why do I and this person have to fight so hard?”
A knife flashed passed Tantai Meiming as he furiously draws back three steps, Zhou Jian called out: “A’Lei, you deal with him for some time, be careful.”
As he said these words, he jumped towards that Khan and attacked him with his broadsword as if to cut him in to two pieces. Yun Lei immediately supplied cover for him and smartly attacked him with a clever move and entangled him to fight with her.
Although Tantai Mieming was far better in martial art skills but this move was unexpected and he actually countered her attack.
That Khan took out his sword and blocked the attack of Zhou Jian. The two swords collided and started to shake violently. Zhou Jian was startled and thought in his heart: “This Khan indeed had big strength! Even though he is wounded and bleeding, still he was able to block my attack. He looked at him and noticed that he was also bleeding from his mouth so he cannot take a vertical leap. Zhou Jian immediately attacked and made three successive fierce moves. That Khan managed to resist his first two attacks but couldn’t resist the third and let go his sword. He called out in shame: “So this is my fate!”
He did not give a thought about his injury and moved but could hold his balance and fell on the ground hitting his head first and then rolled on. Zhou Jian attacked with his broadsword to finish him off but felt a fierce block as Tantai Mieming came back to hold off his attack. A loud sound ringed as broadsword collided with the hooks. Zhou Jian felt as if each bone of his body has been shaken and felt unsteady.
He saw Tantai Mieming rushing towards the Khan, quickly inserted the hooks in his waist, emptied both his hands and carried him and ran. Tantai Mieming intruded just at the right time or Zhou Jian would have been able to kill that Khan. He held the Khan in his hand and swept with his other hand towards Zhou Jian who was attacking him. This move was actually extremely risky, not only for himself but also for the person he carrying at that time. Zhou Jian took the advantage of this situation and attacked with his broadsword.
Tantai Mieming was in really precarious situation, he put himself in danger to save the Khan. He made a very rash move exposing himself to a dangerous situation but managed to hit right hand of Zhou Jian such that he had to let go his broadsword but also heard a pang sound and was hit on his chest by his palm. Tantai Mieming felt enormous pain and for a moment everything turned dark but he quickly carried the Khan and ran away.
Yun Lei gave him chase and fought for about ten moves, she saw that her granduncle failed just when success seemed within reach and was greatly angered and ashamed. Tantai Mieming was continually retreating and was not engaging himself in fight at all. Yun lei took a diving posture, raised her hand and three plum blossom shaped darts at him. Tantai Mieming didn’t stop and caught all the darts with a sweep of his hand instead of deflecting them and threw them back at her with great strength.
The darts moved towards Yun lei with great strength creating a big hu sound in the wind, she did not dare to meet it and evaded them in a flash. She saw those three darts moving towards a big stone. They collided with the big stone and she saw several small chips of stone flying around but the dart didn’t fell down but got stuck in the stone. Yun Lei was surprised by the time she recovered he was moving like a wind and had crossed the level area in the mountains.
Yun Lei wanted to pursue but she heard a shout from the eastern mountain valley, sounds of weapons and stopped there only thinking about the seriousness of the matter. Zhou Jian called out: “A’Lei, a hard-pressed enemy should not be pursued too far, do not catch up.”
Suddenly she heard the sounds of weapons clinking from the south side and then from west and north too. She heard the sound of people fighting, crying and then getting killed. The sound of cries and shrieks had a strange ringing sound in this empty valley. Zhou Jian picked up his golden broadsword, laughed and said: “No matter what the plans of these Mongols were…at lest we thwarted their attempt.”
Yun Lei was going to say something but suddenly Zhou Jian sprinted downhill and said: “Helps me to save that one quickly.”
Yun Lei was bewildered, she followed him and descended the mountain. She only saw the corpses lying on the ground everywhere, the blood had dyed the mountain valley; these were the corpses of the Mongol soldiers Zhou Jian killed earlier. Yun Lei looked at this wretched scene and covered her face and didn’t dare to look at them again.
Zhou Jian said: “A’Lei, do you have some disintoxicating medicine or some other kind of medicine?”
He turned his head to glance and said with a smile: “A’Lei, what’s up? Are you afraid of this? How will you take revenge in the future if you can’t even look at the dead bodies of foreign invaders?
Yun Lei said: “I wouldn’t leave those thieves alive but actually it looks at some these have not died yet. It’s it cruel enough.”
Zhou Jian laughed and said: “You really have gallant and chivalrous frame of mind, a true heroine, above in the battlefield, it is more miserable compared to this! Come, come, quickly here, get used to seeing dead bodies and don’t disgust them.”
Yun Lei walked and saw that Zhou Jian was holding a person in Han clothing. He had a long arrow inserted on his back and was submerged more than 50% evidently. She remembered that this was the person who was running away from these Mongol soldiers and shot by that Khan.
Yun Lei said: “Can we save him?”
Zhou Jian said: “he is still breathing and his heart is also beating, at least we can try.”
Yun Lei said: “I have some medicines with me, they come handy.”
Zhou Jian quickly applied some medicine around the wound and drew out the long arrow gently; he only saw a black blood clot along with the arrow.
Zhou Jian said: “This arrow is quite poisonous!” He again sprinkled some medicine on the wound and put some cloths to stop the flow of blood. The injured warrior opened his eyes for a moment when Zhou Jian pulled out the arrow but could not kept it open because and then again drifted in unconsciousness.
Zhou Jian shook his head, Yun Lei asked: “How is he?”
Zhou Jian said: “This is s Mongolian poison-tipped arrow, we do not have their antidotes, we can’t treat and cure him but this person has good internal strength this is why he has managed to survive until now. I have applied your medicine and after my massage, we can help him to regain consciousness for a while but I am afraid that he won’t live past tomorrow.”
Yun Lei said in grief: “If he going to die then why is you trying to save him. This way at least he might avoid the pain he will experience once he is conscious.”
Zhou Jian said: “This person has escaped these Mongols and these soldiers were pursuing for such a long time. He had showed exemplary courage to fight against such powerful enemies. If we just let him die before the end then his death will be an injustice unaddressed.”