Unfortunately, my tour is via a travel agency, and they failed to arrange for us to visit Tian Long Shi.
Instead, they brought us to buy Yunan Jade so that they can get commissions.
I like translating, and especially admired John Minford's translation of the Deer and the Cauldron. Having read bother the English and Chinese versions of a few classics and wuxia novels- he's undoubtedly the best. Completely different from other translations, which is translated words for word, sentence for sentence- often resulting in clumsy sentences and long names which are confusing to the English reader and have lost their original spirit. Minford read the story and re-wrote it, to make the names, sentences and scenes smoother and more livelier, even in English. I think Moilleion did really well! But I thought I'll try and emulate John Minford (albeit poorly!) to re-inject a bit more spirit and sophistication into the translation.
I've changed Mu Wan Qing to Grace (a loose interpretation of the "Wan"), but kept Duan Yu's name (it's short, and easily remembered anyway). I've also simplified some place names. I've also knocked off terms like "guys", "bullxxxx" (terrible American slang with no place in a wuxia story), replaced numbered digits with words and edited some grammar and in general tried to make conversation more life-like in the way that the words would be spoken...
End of CHAPTER 4
"What took you two so long? Is that why my poor pupil disappeared? Because you two useless pieces of rubbish let him fall to his death?" Divine Croc viciously demanded.
The two men approached timidly, stopping a few yards away. They looked at each other- but never at the Crocodile God. Finally, one of them stammered, "We, er... we ummmm... spent half the day looking. We didn't find any bodies at the bottom of the cliff.".
"Well! So you're telling me that he just flew away? Like a bird?" The Crocodile God became sarcastic in his fury. "How dare you speak such rubbish to me?!"
The two terrified mercenaries fell to their knees, kowtowing frantically, begging for mercy with loud wails. But the Crocodile God didn't get his name (as Number Three of the Four Great Evils) by being softhearted. The men's wails were interrupted by two sharp whirls of wind as he shot two large stones in their direction, killing them both.
Grace, watching the whole drama surreptiously, felt a surge of joy when the two men died- such sweet revenge for their failure in finding her fiance!. But her happiness was short-lived as she refocused on her predicament. "If he's not at the top of the cliff, and there aren't any bodies at the bottom of the cliff, where could he be? Could it be that he had landed on some remote place on the face of the cliff where they couldn't find him, or maybe they did actually find his body but were too scared to say it?" she fell back into her previous gloom, not because she was afraid of death- she wasn't- and besides, without Yu life wasn't worth living on, anyway. And not to mention that she's now in the claws of one of the Great Evils (albeit Number Three)- so a quick, self-inflicted death would be much more preferable to the tortures that he's sure to bestow on her. No, Grace was worried because she may die without ever finding out what had happened to Yu.
In the meantime, the Crocodile God was cursing at the top of his voice, "What are those two turtle-eggs up to?" he screeched. "Hey, Numbers One and Four! Are you two bastards going to show up or not? Or are you going to keep me waiting here forever?!"
"Do you have the guts not to wait?" A female voice broke his tirade. It was Number Two, Madam Yie.
"He told me to tell you," The Crocodile God spun around to face his antagonist, "that we're to wait on this peak for seven straight days. If he hasn't appeared, then we're to head over to the Valley of Death, to Zhong Wanchou's place- and to stay there until he's met up with us."
"Did he, now?" Madam Yie said dryly. "He must've given you a thorough thrashing, a downright sound beating, before giving you those orders."
"I'm not denying that Number One is- is-" The Crocodile God searched his limited reptilian brain for the right word "-is somewhat superior to me in his martial arts skills. He is called Number One, after all. But he didn't thoroughly thrash me!"
"Whatever you say." Madam Yie seemed to have lost interest in the conversation. She turned back to the mysterious bundle in her arms, apparently talking to it. "There there, sweetie, hush! Mommy loves you... all right sweetie, shhh... there... hmmm it couldn't have been gentle beating, either... there there..."
"No, it wasn't that, either." The Crocodile God admitted, sheepishly, then turned sarcastic. "You'd be laughing out of the other side of your face, if Number One decides to go after you. You think you can escape? I should think not."
"Darling sweetie... " Madam Yie continued to mumble to the pile in her arms. "Now why would that happen? I'm not the one wanting a promotion up the ranks of the Great Evils."
"Tamady!" The Crocodile God yelled. "Stop calling him that"
"Whatever." Madam Yie smiled. "Calm down. By the way, did you know that Number Four got into a scuffle with some folks on his way here. He didn't out of it all that well, either."
"He did?" The Crocodile God was momentarily taken aback. "Who were those people?"
Madam Yie didn't answer right away. She had spotted Grace, who was listening attentively to the conversation. "Who's this wench who's giving me such insolent looks? I'll bet that she's cursing me for my little habit. Why don't you get rid of her, brother? I don't want an extra pair of ears listening to this story."
"She's my pupils fiance. I can't kill her." The Crocodile God said. "Then he'll never agree to my being his shifu!"
"I thought that pupil of yours is dead already."
"Well, I don't know that. You'd think that there should be a corpse, if he'd fallen to his death." he mused. "No, I think he's just hiding somewhere. He'll come back in no time, and beg me to take him in as a disciple."
"No, I've made up my mind. This little girl has to die. Those eyes of hers are just too pretty. I don't have eyes like that- so no one else should, either! I'll start by digging out her eyes." Madam Yie said, then chuckled. "Tell your disciple to come after me."
Grace broke into a cold sweat.
"Tamady! I'm not going to stand by and let that happen!" The Crocodile God shouted. "If you don't want her to listen in, I'll just hit her pressure points, make her sleep for a day or two." Ignoring Madam Yie, he reached out and jabbed Grace on her flank and at a spot just below her armpit.
Grace's head began to spin immediately, and the next thing she knew, she fell unconscious into a deep sleep. She didn't know how long she was out for, but when she finally came around, she was frozen stiff. In her semi-conscious state, she thought she could hear screeches of laughter. At least, it sounded like laughter- but without the expected humour in normal laughter. Varying in pitch and tone- it was a terrifying noise to behold. So, even though she had an almost insuppressibly urge to move and stretch, Grace stayed deadly still, knowing that any movement would bring immediate disaster.
Then she heard The Crocodile God's voice. "Number Four, you may as well stop your trumpet blowing. Sister Three already told me that you got upstaged by gang of folks- so stop lying and acting like a damned hero! How many of them were there?"
"Seven! There were seven of them. All top-notch too, they were." a thoroughly unpleasant voice answered. It was the same voice that generated the laughter earlier- the harsh, screeching voice, with it peculiar and random changes in tone. "It doesn't matter how good I am, I can't beat seven top-notch fighters all at once, can I?"
"So this is Number Four." Grace thought. She desperately wanted to peek out, to see for herself what kind of person he was- he who describes himself as being Thoroughly-Cruel-and-Evil. But fear kept her immobilised, and her eyes shut.
"We all know that Number Four blows his own trumpet just a bit two much." Madam Yie sighed with barely concealed impatience. "There were only two men there- where did the extra five come from? And I don't believe that they're all that skilled either- top martial artists aren't exactly commonplace!"
"How do you know?" Number Four spun on her, angrily. "Were you there?"
"How else would I know?" Madam Yie snorted. "Let me see. The first fellow used a long rod, the other a pair of double-axes. Am I correct? I didn't see the other five phantom blokes, though. What kind of weapons were they using?"
"So you were there!" Number Four screeched. "Then why were you hiding? Or were were you hoping that they'll do me in for good?!"
"For goodness, sake, Crane, can't you just run? If you can't beat them?" Madam Yie shrugged. "I thought you 'flying' kungfu is the best around. Or is your moniker a bit of a misnomer?"
"So his name's Crane." Grace noted.
Crane was becoming increasingly angry. Pacing around, his voice seemed to rise and fall in tune with his step. "It won't do you fools any good, if I'd died in that battle. Have you idiots not worked out the reason why we're gathered here? To help that loser Zhong Wanchou? I should hope not! I ain't helping no scumbag who didn't even bother to send me a woman! Hell, no! Number One wants revenge, pure and simple- and he's summoned us so that we can join forces against the might of the Emperor of Dali! Let's see who'd be laughing, once I tell Number One that all you fools could do was to laugh and spectate when I run into strife!"
"Come one, Brother Four." Madam Yie laughed lightly- her voice not betraying the concern that Crane may just tell on them, to Number One. "What's that all about? You didn't need our help. No one can 'fly' better than you- faint as a wisp of smoke, graceful as a swan. Those two guys have no chance of ever catching up to you if you'd taken off- even I can't do that! You were in no danger at all! Why else do you think that I stayed out of the fray?"
Crane appeared to be somewhat mollified by her ostentious praise. He humphed, and fell silent.
"So who were those dogs?" The Crocodile God asked. "Were they from the Dali court?"
"Mostly." Crane muttered, his anger simmering. "Who else in Dali would be of such high caliber?"
"Ha!" Madam Yie interrupted. "So much for your bravado! Did you really think you could just charge into the palace and take the Emperor's head back on a platter? What did I tell you? I was right, wasn't I? That you two were taking this whole business way too lightly!"
Crane changed the subject abruptly. "We've waited for three days past the appointed time, and Number One still hasn't shown up yet. This isn't like him at all! Could- could-"
"Could something have happened to him?" Madam Yie finished the sentence for him.
"Dammit!" The Crocodile God said irritably. "He told us to wait for seven straight days! There's still four days left! You think that Number One is like you? Getting thrashed then deserting the battle?"
"There is nothing wrong with escaping if the situation calls for it." Madam Yie said haughtily. "But you never know. If a dozen-odd kungfu masters had somehow trapped him, who knows what may happen? And you know that he'll never give up- he'll fight to the death."
"What utter rubbish! How many years have we been with Number One? Have you ever seen him in trouble?" The Crocodile God hissed and spat. "Why on earth would he run into trouble now? And in Dali, too- this tiny country not worth a damn- of all places!
"And dammit! I'm starving again!" he looked around. Luckily for him, there was still a leg of beef remaining from a previous feast. He picked it up and roasted it over the fire beside him.
The mouth-watering scent of roast beef wafted through the air to where Grace was crouched behind her boulder. She desperately tried to stop her stomach from growling- to no avail. Madam Yie picked up the barely perceptible sound, and smiled.
"Hoy, little girl." she called out. "Hungry, are we? Don't pretend now- I know that you woke up a long time ago. Come out and meet Number Four."
The Crocodile God frowned. Crane was a well known "ladies man"- although the term may be too elegant for him. Predator, more likely. He leapt up, tore off a piece of semi-cooked beef and tossed it in front of Grace.
"Now get up and get lost. I don't want you eavesdropping on our conversation." He ordered.
"Has my fiance showed up yet?" she asked, disguising her voice to a hag-like cackle.
"Tamady! No!" The Crocodile God snapped. "I went back and searched the entire ridge and valley myself. There ain't even a trace of that little bastard. That little bastard is surely alive- or else somebody must have rescued him. I have waited for him here for three days now, I'm going to give him four more days. If he still doesn't show up by then, hehe, then I'm going to make a meal out of you"
He may be stupid, but Ol' Croc is pretty experienced in these matters" Grace thought with sheer relief. "If he thinks that Yu isn't dead, then he probably isn't. I wonder where he is now? Is he even worried about me? Will he come here and save me?"
She picked up the piece of meat on the ground and walked around to the other side of the huge boulder. Her legs were numb and tired and she was exhausted from hunger. She stumbled slowly- surprising herself by the lack of pain. Her wounds have all but healed from her three days of rest.
"Anyway," Madam Yie asked The Croc, "What's so special about that fellow? Why are you so desperate to snare him as your pupil?"
"Because he's exactly like me." The Croc explained. "If he becomes a member of my Southern Seas Sect, he'd be sure to become a prodigy and may even surpass me in skill, one day."
"So, even thought I'm only ranked second out of us four, my pupil will surely be Number One."
Grace continued to walk, slowly and quietly, away from the four villains. She heard the Croc boasting about Yu's potential, and she felt a surge of pride- and concern- as well as bemusement. Yu was brave- there's no doubt about that- but when it came to martial arts, he's a complete dunce. She smiled inwardly. It almost made her feel sorry for the Southern Seas Sect- if Yu somehow became Croc's disciple.
She came across another large boulder, sat down, and tucked into the beef. It was a large slab- and she was full to bursting before she was even halfway through. She put it aside, thinking, "I'll wait seven days. If he doesn't appear by then, he's obviously a heartless bastard and and completely forgotten about me. In that case, I'll be just as good as dead." her heart sank at this possibility. "On the other hand, even if I somehow survive- there'll be no point in living then, is there?"
Grace stayed on the ridge for days, mulling over her anxieties, finally understanding the old adage describing how some days can feel like years. She watched and listened, day and night, her heart leaping at the smallest sound, in the hope for some signs of life- even if it wasn't Yu. Anything is better than the torturously long days and endless nights. She became increasingly depressed with each passing hour, and her faith in Yu started to waver.
"This mountain may be tough to scale," she thought sourly, "but if you really wanted to come and rescue me, then two or three days ought to do it. So you should either have appeared by now, or you obviously have no intention in coming back at all! I know you don't want to be taken on by the Croc- but what about me?! Don't you care about me any more? Why did you make all those promises? Why did you kiss me?"
Her shifu's words came back to haunt her. "All men are heartless." she'd said bitterly. Grace tried to convince herself otherwise- Yu isn't like that! But a small voice in her head told her that she's merely deluding herself.
Luckily, over these few days, the four Great Evils had stayed away. They were too focused on waiting for Number One to bother Grace. The three of them paced around like ants on a hot stove, grumbling and bickering, the sound of their voices audible to Grace every now and then.
By day six, Grace had given up all hope. "Tomorrow's the deadline. And that heartless bastard isn't going to show up- I'm sure of it. I might as well make a run for it tonight. Now's as good a chance as any- daylight's just going to ruin whatever chance I have." She stood up, and stretched, feeling mildly pleased that, despite all that's happened, at least her wounds have healed up.
"Probably best to wait until those three idiots have started to fight again." she mused, "then make a break and find somewhere to hide, close by. Those fools probably thought I'd dash down the mountain as quickly as I can. Heh heh, they might even chase me all the way down the cliff. Once they're gone, I'll take my time, and make my mistake."
Then she thought, "Hm. What on earth am I thinking? They've got no business with me- why would they even bother chasing after me? They probably won't even care that I'm gone."
She almost started to leave, but was drawn back by the thought of Yu, whom she still cared deeply about, still nursing a faint glimmer of hope that he'd somehow turn up. "What if he really does come tomorrow and I wasn't here? What if he really does care about me enough to risk his life to come up the mountain, runs into that damned Croc, refuses to be his disciple, and gets killed? What would I do then?"
She wavered a few more times, torn between leaving and her remaining anxieties. Whilst she was still trying to come to a decision, dawn started to break.
Yu held onto Grace tightly- feelings of relief, concern- and yes, love- all rolled into one, threatening to overwhelm him all at once. Neither spoke for a while. Finally, Yu asked, "How are your wounds, Miss Mu?"
"Miss Mu?" she teased. "Is that all I am to you?" For a girl who rarely smiled, up until now, her mirth only made her even more beautiful. Yu was so happy he wanted to faint. He held her even more tightly, whispering softly, "Gracie! How about that- Gracie? Would you like me to call you that?" Dipping his head, he kissed her lips gently.
"Oh!" Grace leapt up, blushing furiously, suddenly remembering that they weren't really alone- but in fact, had a hidden audience! "Not here, not now!" she exclaimed. "There's people around, you know!" She looked around, only to see that the robed man and the four knights- Chu, Ku, Fu and Zhu- had vanished. Even Zuo Zhimu had taken his son and disappeared.
"Who's here?" Yu asked, puzzled, then gasped. "No- don't tell me that it's the Croc!"
"How long have you been here?" Grace asked.
"Hmm." Grace was perplexed. "Strange. They sure left quickly."
Her muse was broken by an eloquent voice that came from behind some boulders.
Over a thousand miles,
A word to say-"
The voice was followed by the actual speaker- Chu Danchen.
"Brother Chu!" Yu cried out happily. The latter bowed respectfully, at the same time breathing a sigh of relief. "Sir, thank God that you really are safe. This young lady here had sure given us quite a fright earlier!"
Yu nodded in reply. "So you two have met then? What a coincidence." he seemed perplexed. "How'd you get here?"
"Sir, it's definitely no coincidence that we're here." Chu smiled, amused. "The four of us have been ordered to find you and bring you home. May I be so bold to say, sir, that you really have been quite foolhardy in running off like that and travelling alone! We followed your trail to Ma Wude's place, then to Mt Wuliang. My God- you really had us worried sick!"
"Ah, well." Yu looked slightly sheepish. "Well, it hasn't really been as fun as I thought it was going to be. Say, my father and uncle must be furious- were they?"
"Well, they certainly weren't thrilled." Chu said dryly. "Although, by the time we left, their lordships seemed to have been calmed down, somewhat. And for the last few days, I'm sure they're probably just worried sick- like the rest of us! To make it worse, the Duke of Shanchan got the news that four very nasty characters have arrived in Dali! He left after us, to personally make sure that you'd be safe."
"Err... So Uncle Gao is looking for me too..." Yu shifted uncomfortably at the thought.
"Yes, sir, he has indeed. In fact, he was just here, fighting off a truly unpleasant woman. He heard you calling out, and told me to stay here, to wait for you. He and the others have gone to chase after her." Chu paused. "Sir, let's go home then, shall we? Your family is really worried about you."
Yu wasn't interested in going home. He'd just realised that Chu had bene lurking behind those rocks the whole time, while he was having (what he thought was) a private tete-a-tete with Grace! Yu's face burned with embarrassment.
Chu read his mind. He held up a bound volume. "I've been reading awhile." Grace was taken aback. She hadn't seen that many fighting men who could read- let alone carry around with them a book. What she didn't know was that Chu had only gotten to his elite rank by being not only skilled in the martial arts, but also being well versed in the classics.
"Ah." Yu changed the subject hurriedly. "Grace, this is Chu Danchen. He's one of my greatest friends! Brother Chu, let me introduce you to Grace, Grace Mu."
"Miss Mu." Chu bowed deeply.
Miss Mu was pleased by the respect he'd shown her- respect like that doesn't come her way very often! "Brother Chu." She smiled.
Chu eyed Grace carefully. "She's no doubt a pretty one- obviously not too bad in kungfu, either, judging by the way she'd slapped Yu so nimbly! And he didn't seem to mind either. Huh, so this is why he'd taken off like that. And it doesn't look as if they'd just met. Hmph, next chance I get, I better warn him. A pretty face- nice times out of ten they can't be trusted."
"So!" Chu said brightly. "Should we go? Miss Mu, you're more than welcomed to come with us, as our guest." Chu had a feeling that Yu isn't overly enthusiastic in returning- but he'd be more than happy to do so, if Grace can be persuaded to go with him.
Yu looked at Grace, then at Chu, reddening. "Um, I don't know... How am I going to explain... ahhhh..." Grace turned away, uncomfortable.
"We'll deal with that question later." Chu said a little more forcefully, although maintaining his deferential tone. "Those four villains are skilled fighters, and it took Lord Gao all his power- and an element of luck!- to defeat just one of them. This place is dangerous- I strongly suggest that we leave, as quickly as possible."
Yu nodded, mentally shuddering at the thought of the return of even one of the four Evil Ones. Especially that crazy, obsessive Croc. "In that case, I'll go with Grace. Why don't you help Uncle Gao instead?"
Chu chuckled. "I'd have failed miserably in my duty, if I were to desert my post now. I trust Miss Mu's ability implicitly- however, she is obviously still significantly incapacitated, trauma from which she remains to recover fully."
Grace humphed- Chu's long words and sentences leaving her somewhat muddled. "I didn't understand half of what you were talking about."
Chu smiled. "I apologise, Miss Mu. I've always been long-winded- it's an old habit of mine. Please forgive me."
Yu didn't want to go home at all- with or without Grace. But the current situation seemed to left him with little choice. He decided to play it by ear- there'll be plenty of opportunities to make an escape later on. The three of them made their way down the hillside. Along the way, Grace peppered Yu with questions as to his whereabouts for the past week. Yu didn't want to give too much details with Chu around- he did work for his parents and uncle, after all. He hinted strongly to Grace to keep quiet.
At the bottom of the mountain, the three mounted horses that'd been left by the rest of the rescue party. Yu and Grace rode ahead, followed by Chu. They lodged at a small rural inn that night. Despite his reluctance in following Chu home, Yu was still greatly relieved at being back in civilisation, especially after he'd changed out of his dirty, tattered clothing that'd seen so much adventure in the last few weeks.
Grace, left alone in her room, was unable to sleep. She stared at the burning candle, her mind in turmoil. She was delighted that Yu had come back- he's obviously devoted to her! She felt vaguely guilty at having cursed him wrongly for the past few days. On the other hand, Yu's background perplexed her. The deference shown to him by a highly skilled and respected warrior such as Chu means that Yu is no ordinary person, but a son of highly ranked nobility. And a girl such as herself can't just become engaged to someone like that- and turn up on the doorstep, unintroduced and uninvited. To make it worse, Yu's parents and uncle seemed terribly strict.
"Huh." she tossed her head. Since when did she become timid like that? "So what if they looked down on me? I'll just kill them all. They can't stop me taking Yu, then, can they?" she thought.
A soft tap on the window made her turn. Yu was whispering outside. "Grace! It's me."
Grace blushed. It's past midnight- what did the man want? "What's the matter?"
"Open the window."
"Then come out." Yu hissed. "We've got no time left."
Grace slit the window paper with a finger. "What are you talking about?"
"Brother Chu's asleep- what are we waiting for? Let's go! And keep your voice down- I don't want to go home."
Grace was thrilled. All her anxieties about meeting Yu's parents vanished. She opened the window, and leapt out.
"I'll get the horses."
Grace shook her head. "The horses will wake Chu up." She grabbed him around the waist, and jumped lightly, "flying" over the wall of the inn's courtyard.
They headed east, hand in hand, feeling liberated and happy. No pursuers appeared. The two relaxed, and their walk slowed to a stroll.
"So why don't you want to go home?"
"Because I'll never see you again." Yu said. "As soon as I step through the door, my father and uncle will be sure to lock me up- and I'll never be able to get out again."
Grace's heart soared at his words. "That's great! You don't have to go back- ever! We'll wander the world, just you and I! Where should we go?"
"Any place where we won't be found- by Chu, Uncle Gao, or anyone else for that matter! Especially the Croc."
"You're right. How about the northwest? It's isolated there. We'll find a small village, stay there for a bit, until my wounds have healed completely, then we'll go wherever we want to!"
So decided, the two turned and headed in their chosen direction. They walked briskly, hoping to put as much distance between themselves and familiar territory, as quickly as possible.
Dawn soon broke. "Let's take a break, get something to eat, and have a rest. We'll attract too much attention by travelling during the day." Grace said. "The Wangs are still after me- we better lay low for a while." Yu readily agreed.
"After we've had a rest, you can tell me how you spent the last seven days." Grace said with mock severity. "And if you lied-" she broke off abruptly. "Wha-"
In front of them, a man was reclining against the trunk of a sweeping willow, seemingly at great leisure. He was reading a book, and appeared to be reciting verses from it. Chu! Yu gaped, grabbed Grace's hand, and hissed, "Run!"
Grace felt a stab of frustration. Chu obviously guessed that Yu would sneak out in the middle of the night, and had pre-empted him, knowing that they wouldn't have travelled far, with Yu being unschooled in the art of "flying".
"Don't be silly. He got us- where would we run to?" Grace snapped. She marched up to the knight crossly. "Hey, you. What are you reading so early? You trying to top the imperial exams or something?"
Chu smiled. "Sir, why don't you take a guess at what I'm reading?" he asked rhetorically, reciting the lines of yet another famous poem, which depicts the loyalty of a Tang warrior to his monarch. Yu recognised it right away- and its sublimal message. Chu was tactfully rebuking him for breaking his word, and deserting someone he'd claimed as his good friend, whilst the said friend remained as loyal as ever.
Grace didn't know what went on in their highbrow conversation, but guessed as much. She untied the horses from their tether, and asked, "Actually, we were on our way to Dali City. Are we going the right way?"
"From where you were, it doesn't matter which direction you head in."
Welcome to the forum and thanks for the translation.
May i suggest that the names of the characters be edited so that it is similar to the previous chapters? (makes things easier for continuity).
Thanks for the translation updates!
However, I vaguely remember that the translation was up to the point where DY, his mother, and the four ministers have just gotten back to Dali and have met the ermperor. Can anyone else confirm?
ZOMG I'm back! Did ya miss me? (yeah, probably didn't...)
I heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord.
please use mu wan qing instead of grace grace just seems . .. . . meh not very attractive
Continuing from the previous post....
Duan Yu laughingly replied, “If it weren’t for me heading out this time, how could I have brought mother back? I think I really have performed an awe-inspiring act of great merit. So let’s just consider myself as having redeemed myself. Father, don’t be angry.” The man in purple robes, upon hearing this response, answered, “Even if I don’t beat you up, your uncle will not let you off lightly!” Applying pressure to his horse’s sides, the white horse suddenly flew towards the direction of the Sage of the Hollow Jade.
Mu Wanqing saw that the squadron of cavalry was clothed in fine brocade, wearing shining helmets, and their weapons glimmering in the light. Twenty people in front held aloft a banner, upon which was written six words: “DaLi’s ‘South-Subduing Prince Duan’”. On the side of the tiger-headed banner were the words, “Great General Duan, Protector of the Country”. Even though she was a person who feared neither heaven nor earth, upon seeing this majestic, awe-inspiring show, she couldn’t help but feel great respect. Turning to Duan Yu, she asked, “Hey, this “South-Subduing Prince”, “Great General Who Protects the Country”, is your dad, right?”
Laughing, Duan Yu nodded his head. In a low voice, he responded, “Yes, that would be your father-in-law.”
Mu Wanqing reined in her horse in a daze. All of a sudden, her heart was filled with confusion. She was stupefied for a long period of time, before finally spurring her horse to gallop forward to Duan Yu’s side. On the main street, there were people everywhere. Suddenly, in her heart, she was feeling an inexpressible solitude, making her want to stay close to Duan Yu. Only then did she calm down a little.
The South-Subduing Prince slowed his horse down roughly ten feet away from the Sage of the Hollow Jade. The two exchanged glances for some time; I look at you, you stare at me. Neither of them opened their mouths. Duan Yu spoke. “Mother, dad personally came to receive you and escort you home.” The Sage of the Hollow Jade replied, “Go tell your aunt that I’m back. I’ll stay with her for a few days. After we’ve beaten off our enemies, I’ll return to the Hollow Jade Monastery.”
The South-Subduing Prince laughed. “Wife, you’re still angry at me? Let’s go home. Afterwards, I’ll slowly make everything up to you.” The Sage of the Hollow Jade’s face was unmoved. “I’m not going home. I’m entering the palace.”
Duan Yu said, “That works too. Let’s all enter the palace first and pay a visit to uncle and auntie. Mother, this time your son snuck outside to have some fun, and uncle definitely is going to be furious. Dad probably isn’t going to speak up on my behalf, this time. It’ll have to be you who begs for clemency on my behalf.” The Sage of Hollow Jade responded, “The older you grow, the less responsible you get. It is going to be necessary to allow your uncle to thrash you and teach you a lesson.”
Duan Yu laughingly responded, “The blows may fall on the son’s body, but the pain will occur in the mother’s heart. It’s best if I don’t get beaten!” The Sage of Hollow Jade let out a small laugh. “Hah! The harder you get beaten, the better. I have no sympathy for you at all!”
Initially, there was an aura of awkwardness between the South-Subduing Prince and the Sage of Hollow Jade. But with Duan Yu cracking jokes and being so light-hearted, he managed to get a laugh out of the Sage of Hollow Jade, breaking the icy tone of the meeting. Duan Yu said, “Dad! You have a good horse. Why aren’t you letting mother ride it?” The Sage of Hollow Jade replied, “I refuse!” With a kick, she spurred her horse to gallop forwards and away from them.
Duan Yu spurred his own horse onwards as well, overtaking her and grabbing the reins of his mother’s horse. The South-Subduing Prince had already dismounted and walked it over towards them. Giggling, Duan Yu hugged his mother and placed her on the saddle of his father’s horse.
With a laugh, Duan Yu said, “Mother, a peerless, unequalled beauty such as yourself, riding this white horse, becomes even more attractive. You are like the Bodhisattva Guanyin herself, having descended upon the mortal world!” Laughing, the Sage of Hollow Jade replied, “That girl of yours surnamed ‘Mu’ is the real peerless beauty without equal. You’re just making fun of your mother, this old lady.”
The South-Subduing Prince turned to look at Mu Wanqing. Duan Yu said, “She...she is Miss Mu. She is your son’s...your son’s...your son’s good friend.” The South-Subduing Prince saw the expression on his son’s face and immediately understood his real meaning. He saw that Mu Wanqing had a clear, pure complexion and was very beautiful, and secretly cheered. “Yu’er, you have pretty good eyesight!” He saw Mu Wanqing’s gaze was cloudy and distant, and she did not come forward to pay her respects. He thought to himself, “So she’s a girl from the countryside who doesn’t understand proprietry.”
His heart still filled with anxiety over the state of Gao Shengtai’s injuries, he quickly strode over to the latter’s side. “Younger brother Tai, how are your internal injuries?” He stretched out his finger to touch Gao Shengtai’s wrist, feeling for his pulse. Gao Shengtai replied, “My ‘du ‘ meridian received some injuries, but it’s no big deal. You...there is no need for you to waste your energy.”
Before he even finished speaking, the South-Subduing Prince had already extended the forefinger of his right hand and struck three times at the back of his neck, then pressed on his waist with his free hand.
From the top of the South-Subduing Prince’s head arose thin wisps of white smoke. It wasn’t until the amount of time it would take to drink a cup of tea had passed before he would release his hold. Gao Shengtai said, “Elder brother Chun, with powerful enemies so close by, how can you pick this time to waste your internal energy on me?” The South-Subduing Prince laughed. “Your internal injuries are not light. The sooner we start to heal you, the sooner you’ll get better. After I take you to see our elder brother, he won’t let me help you, and would involve himself instead.”
Mu Wanqing saw that originally, Gao Shengtai’s face was terrifyingly white. But in such a short time, color began to appear in his cheeks. In her heart, she wondered, “So husband Duan’s father’s internal energy has reached an extremely profound level. Why is that that husband Duan...husband Duan doesn’t know any martial arts at all?”
Chu Wanli came over with a horse, and helped the South-Subduing Prince mount. The South-Subduing Prince and Gao Shengtai moved slowly, as the former inquired in a quiet voice regarding the enemy’s status. Duan Yu talked and laughed with his mother. Under the iron-clad guardsmen’s protection, they galloped towards the city of Dali. With everyone else occupied, it was unavoidable that Mu Wanqing was neglected.
At dusk, the party entered the city of Dali via the southern gate. Wherever the two flags “South-Subduing” and “Protecting Country” went, the common people would loudly cheer, “May the South-Subduing Prince live a thousand years! May the great general live a thousand years!” The South-Subduing Prince waved to the people in response.
Mu Wanqing saw the teeming masses of people in Dali. The streets were newly paved and flat, and the marketplace was bustling. After crossing a number of intersections, they arrived at a large stone path, at the end of which was a towering palace, covered in an uncountable number of golden tiles. The sun shone off the gleaming tiles, a beautiful sight, causing one to become dazzled.
Upon reaching a memorial arch, the entire party dismounted. Mu Wanqing saw that on the memorial arch was written four large words in gold. “Saintly Road, Broad Compassion”. She thought to herself, “We must have arrived at the imperial palace of Dali. Husband Duan’s uncle lives in the middle of the Imperial Palace. He must be a very high official. Most likely, he’s also another prince, or general, or something like that.”
Passing by the memorial arch, Mu Wanqing saw an inscribed board with the words, “Palace of Saintly Compassion”, written in gold. A court eunuch quickly appeared and said, “Prince, I must report that the Emperor and the Empress are awaiting you at your home. Will the lord prince and the imperial concubine please return to the South-Subduing Palace and appear before his majesty.”
The South-Subduing Prince replied, “Understood.” Duan Yu laughed. “Marvelous, marvelous!” The Sage of Hollow Jade glanced at him, angrily asking, “What’s so marvelous? I’ll just wait at the imperial palace for the Empress to return!” But the eunuch replied, “The Empress instructed me to request that the imperial concubine immediately visit her, as she has urgent matters to discuss.” The Sage of Hollow Jade muttered in a low voice, “What type of urgent matter does she want to discuss? She’s full of devilish schemes.”
Duan Yu knew that the Empress had planned this all out. She had anticipated that Duan Yu’s mother would be unwilling to return to her own manor, and the Empress went to the South-Subduing Prince Palace herself to wait for her, with the warm intention of reconciling Duan Yu’s parents. Duan Yu was extremely pleased.
After exiting, the party remounted and headed eastwards. After traveling for two li, they arrived in front of a large mansion. Two large flags fluttered in front of the gate. On each flag was written respectively the words “South-Subduing” and “Protecting Country”. At the top of the gate were the words, “South-Subduing Palace”. In front of the gate was a large number of imperial guards. They immediately came to attention and saluted. “We respectfully welcome the Prince and the imperial concubine back to their palace.”
The South-Subduing Prince was the first to enter. After taking only one step, the Sage of Hollow Jade suddenly came to a halt. Her eyes suddenly reddening, tears began to fall. Half pushing, half tugging, Duan Yu escorted his mother through the gate. He said, “Father, your son has brought mother home! This is a deed of great merit. What award do you have for me?” His heart filled with happiness, the South-Subduing Prince replied, “Ask your mother for a reward! Whatever your mother wishes to reward you with, I will comply!” The Sage of Hollow Jade smiled between her tears. “I’ll reward you with a good caning!” Duan Yu stuck out his tongue.
Upon reaching the great hall, Gao Shengtai rose to his feet. The South-Subduing Prince said, “Younger brother Tai, you are injured. Please, sit down.” Duan Yu said to Mu Wanqing, “Rest here for a bit. After I pay my respects to the Emperor and the Empress, I’ll come keep you company.”
Mu Wanqing was unwilling to let him leave her, but had no way to stop him. All she could do was nod her head unhappily. She took a seat at the head chair. Everyone else remained standing. It wasn’t until after the South-Subduing Prince and his wife had entered the inner hall that Gao Shengtai finally sat down. But Chu Wanli, Gu Ducheng, Zhu Danchen, and the rest all remained on their feet.
Mu Wanqing paid them no attention, her eyes focused on that great hall. She saw a large horizontal plaque upon which were written the four words, “Pillar Which Supports the Nation”. It was signed by the “Imperial Pen of Dingmao”. The pillar was covered with calligraphy. It would be difficult to read it all in a short time, and some of the characters, she didn’t even recognize.
A servant brought green tea, respectfully offering it to her on a plate. Mu Wanqing thought to herself, “These people really are weird.” She saw that only herself and Gao Shengtai had been offered tea. Zhu Danchen and the others, when fighting off the enemy, had been awe-inspiring figures, but upon reaching the South-Subduing Palace, became so quietly respectful. They didn’t even dare breathe too loudly, much less have the aura of heroes who were highly skilled in martial arts.
After waiting for some time, Mu Wanqing became impatient. She loudly shouted, “Duan Yu! Duan Yu! What are you doing in there? Why haven’t you come out yet?”
The great hall was filled with people, but none of them had dared make so much as a peep. With Mu Wanqing’s sudden shout, everyone was startled for a moment. Gao Shengtai laughingly whispered, “Miss, be patient. The young prince will be back soon.” Mu Wanqing asked, “Young prince? What young prince?” Gao Shengtai responded, “Young master Duan is the son of the South-Subduing Prince. Of course he is the young prince.” Mu Wanqing mused aloud to herself. “Young prince...young prince. That bookworm is a prince? He doesn’t look the part!”
A eunuch exited the inner hall. “The Emperor has issued a request. Will the Marquis of Virtuous Enlightenment and Mu Wanqing please enter the hall.” Upon seeing the eunuch enter, Gao Shengtai had already respectfully risen to his feet. Mu Wanqing remained seated. Upon hearing the eunuch utter her name, she wasn’t happy. She muttered to herself, “He doesn’t even address me as ‘Miss’. Is my name so casually called out by the likes of you?” Gao Shengtai said, “Miss Mu, let us go pay our respects to the Emperor.”
Even though Mu Wanqing feared neither heaven nor earth, upon hearing that she was to go meet the Emperor, she was still a bit uneasy at heart. All she could do was follow behind Gao Shengtai. They passed through a long corridor and a large courtyard. It was as though they were walking through an unending room. But at last, they arrived outside a flower pavilion.
The eunuch reported, “The Marquis of Virtuous Enlightenment and Mu Wanqing have come to pay their respects to the Emperor and Empress.” Then he left.
Gao Shengtai gave Mu Wanqing a meaningful look, then entered the flower pavilion and knelt before a man and a woman who were sitting in the center.
Mu Wanqing did not kneel. Seeing that the male had a long beard and wore a golden robe, with a clear and intelligent appearance, she asked, “So you are the Emperor?”
The man who sat in the middle was indeed the Emperor of the country of Dali, Duan Zhengming. His imperial reign name was “Baoding”. The country of Dali was established in the second year of Heavenly Fortune, of the Later Jin dynasty of the Five Dynasties period. Thus, it was actually founded twenty three years before Zhao Kuangyin founded the Song Dynasty.
The people of Dali’s Duan dynasty was originally from the Wuwei region. Their first ancestor was Duan Jianwei. He assisted the Nanzhao’s Meng clan and became known as the “Official of Pureness and Peace.” Six generations later, his descendant Duan Siping became the governor of Tonghai. In the ‘Dingyou’ year, Duan Siping founded the nation, and became the Great Ancestor of the Duan dynasty, known as the ‘Saintly Emperor of Martial Prowess and Learning’. Duan Zhengming was the fourteenth Emperor in the line, which had been in power for a hundred and fifty years.
At this time, the Northern Song was ruled by Emperor Zhezong in the city of Bianliang [now known as Kaifeng]. Being young in years, the Empress Dowager attended to state affairs. She appointed and trusted famous statesmen and repealed severe laws, resulting in the rejoicing of the common people and pacifying the land. She was the most brilliant and humane female lord in Chinese history, which would proclaim her as being the ‘female Yao and Shun’ [famously benevolent Chinese emperors].
The country of Dali was located in southern Xinjiang, and thus every Emperor was a devout adherent to Buddhism. Even though they had raised themselves to the level of being a ruler, towards the Song dynasty, they were always deferential and unfailingly patient, never raising arms against them. Emperor Baoding had reigned for eleven years and espoused three precepts. To protect order, to uphold peace, and secure the blessings of heaven, creating a heaven-like place to live. The borders were safe, the country was prosperous, and the people lived in peace.
Emperor Baoding, upon seeing that Mu Wanqing not only did not kneel, but even cheekily asked him directly if he was the Emperor, couldn’t help but laugh. “I am indeed the Emperor. Do you find the city of Dali to be a fun place?” Mu Wanqing replied, “As soon as I entered the city, I was brought to come see you. I haven’t explored it yet.” Emperor Baoding let out a slight smile. “Tomorrow, Yu’er will take you out to tour the city and show you the sights of Dali.” Mu Wanqing replied, “Great. Will you be coming with us as well?” After she said this, everybody present couldn’t help but laugh slightly.
Emperor Baoding turned to look at the Empress who sat by his side and merrily asked, “Empress, this little sister wants us to accompany her sightseeing. What do you think?” The Empress smiled a little, but did not respond. Mu Wanqing cast a few glances at her. “Are you the Empress? You really are quite pretty.” Emperor Baoding roared with laughter. “Yu’er, this Miss Mu is very innocent and naive. How amusing!”
Mu Wanqing asked, “Why do you called him “Yu’er” [child Yu]? Are you the ‘uncle’ which he kept on talking about? He snuck out of the city to have some fun, and was very afraid that you would be angry at him. Don’t beat him, okay?” Emperor Baoding laughed. “I was going to give him fifty hard strokes of the cane, but since you ask for mercy on his behalf, I'll spare him. Yu’er, quickly thank Miss Mu!”
Seeing that Mu Wanqing had put the Emperor in a merry mood, Duan Yu was happy. He knew that his uncle had an even temperament. Duan Yu bowed deeply towards Mu Wanqing, and said, “Many thanks to Miss Mu for asking for clemency on my behalf!” Mu Wanqing returned his bow and whispered, “As long as your uncle has agreed to not beat you, my heart is at ease. There’s no need to thank me.” Then she immediately turned towards Emperor Baoding and said, “I always thought that Emperors were really fierce and scary people. I never would have imagined that you...you...you are very nice.”
Aside from being praised by his parents when he was a child, for the past ten years, everyone who met Emperor Baoding would be extremely respectful and fearful. Nobody would ever call him “very nice”. But he saw that Mu Wanqing was like a piece of muddied gold or uncut jade, totally unaware of propriety and custom, and liked her all the more. He said to the Empress, “Do you have anything to bestow upon her?”
The Empress removed a jade bracelet from her left wrist and handed it over. “I’ll give this to you as a gift.”
Mu Wanqing accepted the gift and wore it on her own wrist. Suddenly, she laughed. “Thanks! Next time, I’ll also find something pretty and give it to you!” The Empress laughed slightly. “Then I’ll thank you in advance.”
Suddenly, a ‘ge’ sound could be heard on the roof of the pavilion, followed by another ‘ge’ sound coming from the top of an adjacent room.
Mu Wanqing was startled and knew that an enemy had arrived. That person had arrived so very quickly. But suddenly, like raindrops hitting the ground, the sound of other people arriving on the roof was heard as well. Chu Wanli’s voice sounded out, “Sir, what desire do you have that causes you to arrive at the prince’s manor in the dead of night?”
A loud, coarse, husky voice replied, “I came to find my apprentice! Quick, go have my obedient apprentice come out and pay me a visit!” It was the Divine Crocodile of the Southern Seas.
Mu Wanqing’s sense of startlement deepened. Although the prince’s palace was heavily protected, with guards clustered as thickly as the clouds, and although the South-Subduing Prince, Gao Shengtai, the Sage of Hollow Jade, and Chu, Gu, Fu, and Zhu all possessed excellent martial arts, but the Divine Crocodile of the Southern Seas really was too formidable. If Yun Zhong’e and Ye Erniang, along with that as-yet unseen ‘most evil man in the world’ appeared, then the Four Evils would be working in harmony, and it would be difficult to prevent them from kidnapping Duan Yu.
Chu Wanli shouted in reply, “Sir, who is your apprentice? How could your apprentice be in the palace of the South-Subduing Prince? Withdraw and depart!” But suddenly, a mocking laugh was heard, and a large hand appeared which ripped apart the large plaque above the room, tearing it in two. Like a shadowy blur, the Divine Crocodile of the Southern Seas suddenly appeared in the middle of the pavilion.
Casting his gaze across the people present, he spotted Duan Yu and laughed loudly, then shouted, “Number four wasn’t wrong! My obedient apprentice really is here after all! Quick, beg for me to make you my apprentice, then come with me to learn martial arts!” While speaking, he extended his chicken-claw like hands and reached for Duan Yu’s shoulders.
The South-Subduing Prince saw that this claw came swiftly and with great power, and was afraid that his beloved son would be hurt. Immediately, he struck out with a counter-palm. With a ‘peng’ sound, their two hands collided and he fully blocked the energy of the strike. The Divine Crocodile was secretly alarmed and asked, “Who the heck are you? I came here to take my apprentice away, what business is it of yours?” Smiling, the South-Subduing Prince replied, “I am Duan Zhengchun. This child is my son. When, precisely, did he kowtow and accept you as his master?”
Duan Yu laughed. “He wanted to accept me as his apprentice. I told him that I had accepted another master long ago, but he wouldn’t believe me.”
The Divine Crocodile looked at Duan Yu, then looked at the South-Subduing Prince, Duan Zhengchun, and said, “The old guy’s martial arts is pretty damn good, but the kid doesn’t know any at all. I refuse to believe you two are father and son! Duan Zhengchun, we’re not bad, but even if he really is your son, you haven’t been teaching martial arts properly. Your son really is worthless! What a pity! What a pity!”
Duan Zhengchun responded, “What’s a pity?” The Divine Crocodile responded, “Your son is really similar to me. He’s an exceptionally rare prospect for studying martial arts. He only needs to study with me for ten years, and I guarantee that he will become an incredible expert in the wulin.”
Duan Zhengchun was half-furious, half-amused. From his earlier exchange of palms with the Divine Crocodile, he knew that this person’s martial arts was extremely formidable, and just as he was formulating a proper response, Duan Yu interjected.
“Yue Number Three! Your martial arts are crap. You aren’t fit to be my master! Go back to the “Ten Thousand Crocodile Island” of the Southern Seas and practice martial arts for another twenty years before coming here to discuss martial arts with others!” The Divine Crocodile angrily responded, “A little brat like you, do you have the stature to claim my martial arts are bad?!”
Duan Yu responded, “Let me ask you. ‘Wind and thunder, increase. A gentleman should act in virtuous ways, and if he commits an error, must rectify it.’ What does this mean?” The Divine Crocodile was stupefied, then indignantly responded, “That doesn’t have any meaning. You’re just talking rubbish!”
Duan Yu said, “You don’t even understand these most basic of sentences, how can you be fit to discuss martial arts philosophy? I’ll ask you another question. ‘To injure those above, to benefit those below, the people speak without boundaries. Ones self, top and bottom, below. Arriving at great brightness’. What does that mean?”
Emperor Baoding, the South-Subduing Prince, Gao Shengtai, and others, upon hearing him recite from the Book of Changes [I-Ching] to tease this person, couldn’t control their laughter. Even though Mu Wanqing had no idea what he was talking about, but guessed that it was something akin to ‘a sour scholar dropping a satchel’, and that he was mocking the Divine Crocodile.
In his startlement, the Divine Crocodile noticed that upon the face of every person present was suppressed laughter. He guessed that whatever it was that Duan Yu said, it probably was insulting. With a loud roar, he extended his palm, preparing to strike. Duan Zhengchun took a half-step forward, standing between him and his son.
Duan Yu laughed. “What I have said are all secrets of martial arts practice, and their subtleties are boundless and without end. You probably wouldn’t understand anyways. You ‘frog in a well’ [reference to a Chinese parable], actually want to be my master? The people under heaven would laugh so hard, their mouths would become permanently askew! Haha! The masters I have kowtowed to, some are Daoist immortals from jade caverns, others are elite scholars and erudites, and still others are learned elder monks. You? Even if you studied for another ten years, you might not be able to get me to accept you as my student!”
The Divine Crocodile loudly roared, “Who is the teacher you have accepted? Tell him to get out here and show me his abilities!”
Duan Zhengchun saw that only one of the Four Evils had arrived. Although his martial arts was formidable, the Divine Crocodile was still a level beneath himself. He might as well take the opportunity to allow this idiot to be teased a bit. Thus, although the Emperor, Empress, and imperial concubine were all in attendance, he did not step in to curb his son’s nonsense.
Duan Yu, seeing amusement on the face of his uncle and seeing that his father wasn’t going to step in, became even more animated. He said to the Divine Crocodile, “Fine. You have the courage to stay here. I’ll go invite my master. Don’t get scared and hop away!” The Divine Crocodile angrily replied, “I, Yue Number Two, have wandered the jianghu for such a long time. Who am I afraid of? Hurry, go!” Turning, Duan Yu left.
The Divine Crocodile took a look at every person’s face, only to see that there was a smile on each of their faces. He thought to himself, “My apprentice’s martial arts are so crappy, not worth a dog’s fart. How good can his teacher be? Your old man aint scared of him one bit!”
He suddenly heard the sound of boots as two people entered the room. From outside, Duan Yu called out, “Has that Yue Number Three fellow ran off yet? Father, don’t let him flee! My master is coming.” The Divine Crocodile roared back, “Why would I run away? Damn it! Quickly, have your teacher enter! You aren’t willing to accept such an illustrious teacher as myself, it's most likely because your current teacher won’t agree. First I’ll snap the neck of your worthless teacher. Then, without a teacher, you’ll have to accept me as your teacher! Haha, this idea of mine is so extremely brilliant!”
Just as he was praising himself, Duan Yu brought a person in. Upon seeing that person, everyone present couldn’t resist laughing their heads off.
Who is that person? Why is everyone laughing?
Brilliant! I always thought you'd make an excellent translator, RWX.
Plz continue the translation.
that was a good laugh. Duan yu is funny!
needless to say spoiled
Rose blooms best near death
You are in full bloom, Pal!
Way to go Xing'er! Now, if you'd start reading in that sexy voice of yours........lol.
I so love Daun Yu and i love you too RenWoXing for translating this novel for us the chinese illiterate it is deeply appreciated by me and im sure many others thanks for the nice long juicy update and onmce again i will reiitterate my heartfelt thanks for the translating of this novel you have done which i may add flows quite beautifully and interestingly!!! Great job RWX!!!
This person wore a small hat and a long gown, with a yellow, rat-like mustache, and squinty red eyes. He had a shrunken set of shoulders, appearing to be a humble thing. The Sage of Hollow Jade and the others recognized him as Mr. Huo, one of the palace’s accountants. This person always seemed to be half-asleep, half-awake. He loved to go gambling with the palace’s servants.
At the moment, he was covered with the scent of alcohol and his front was covered in grease. Duan Yu was grabbing his arm, trying to pull him in, but he was cowering and reluctant. As soon as he entered the flower pavilion, he knelt before the Emperor and the Empress. Emperor Baoding did not recognize him, and merely said, “Forget it.”
Holding onto Mr. Huo’s arm, Duan Yu said to the Divine Crocodile, “Yue Number Three, amongst all of my masters, this one has the most shallow martial arts. First you need to overcome him, before you can go on to challenge my other masters.” The Divine Crocodile screamed loudly, “If I can’t crush him to a pulp within three stances, I’ll accept you as my master!”
Duan Yu’s eyes suddenly gleamed. “Are you serious? A man’s word is his bond. If a man breaks his word, then he isn’t a man at all. He’s a bastard son of a turtle!” The Divine Crocodile yelled, “Come, come, come!” Duan Yu answered, “If we’re only competing three stances, then there’s no need to fight with my master. I’ll take on those three stances of yours myself.”
After hearing the report from Yun Zhonghe, the Divine Crocodile immediately rushed to Dali. His sole goal was to abduct Duan Yu and make him the heir of the martial arts of the Southern Seas sect. After exchanging a set of palms with Duan Zhengchun, his heart was filled with fear, thinking to himself that to kidnap Duan Yu while surrounded by so many elite fighters would be a difficult task indeed. He might not even be able to take his apprentice’s father.
Fortunately, at this moment, Duan Yu himself volunteered to fight him. He couldn’t ask for a better opportunity. With a single stance, he could subdue Duan Yu. After that, no matter how good Duan Zhengchun and the other’s martial arts were, they wouldn’t dare move against him. All they would be able to do would be to watch dumbly as he took his apprentice away. The Divine Crocodile replied, “Fine, come take three stances from me. I won’t use any internal energy and promise not to hurt you at all.”
Duan Yu answered, “Let’s set all the conditions now. What happens if you can’t beat me in those three stances?”
The Divine Crocodile laughed loudly. He knew that Duan Yu was a frail, scholarly weakling who didn’t even have the strength to tie up a chicken. Forget three stances, the kid couldn’t even take on one. “If I can’t hit you in three stances, I’ll accept you as my master.” Duan Yu laughed. “Everyone here can bear witness. You won’t go back on your words, will you?” The Divine Crocodile angrily replied, “The words of Yue Number Two are totally trustworthy! If I say this is this, then it is. If I say that is that, then it is.”
Duan Yu teased, “Yue Number Three!” The Divine Crocodile retorted, “Yue Number Two!” Duan Yu again said, “Yue Number Three!” The Divine Crocodile said, “Quick, make your move and stop wasting time!” Duan Yu strode forward two steps to face the Divine Crocodile.
Of the people in the palace, everyone from the Emperor and Empress on down, with the exception of Mu Wanqing, had watched Duan Yu grow up. They all knew that he loved scholastics and hated fighting. This time, Emperor Baoding and Duan Zhengchun wanted to force him to learn martial arts. Instead, he actually snuck away from home. Forget about exchanging blows with first class masters, even if he were to fight with your average bodyguard or escort, he would definitely not be a match.
Everyone present knew that he was just teasing this idiot, but in the end, his words became hard, and it looked like he was actually going to fight the idiot. Although the Divine Crocodile had promised not to harm him due to wanting to take him on as an apprentice, the Divine Crocodile’s temperament was violent and murderous. What if he suddenly became enraged and started to fight for real? Duan Yu was of royal descent, how could he possibly be allowed to take on the risk? The Sage of Hollow Jade was the first to speak and to block Duan Yu. “Yu’er, stop fooling around. There’s no need to waste time on a wild, uncouth man such as him.” The Empress also spoke. “Marquis of Virtuous Enlightenment, issue an order to have this madman apprehended.”
The Marquis of Virtuous Enlightenment, Gao Shengtai, replied, “Your servant, Gao Shengtai, will obey.” Turning, he shouted, “Chu Wanli, Gu Ducheng, Fu Sigui, Zhu Danchen! The four of you, listen to the imperial decree! The Empress orders you to apprehend this unruly man!” Chu Wanli and the other three respectfully replied, “Your servants shall follow the decree.”
The Divine Crocodile, seeing that a brawl was about to erupt, loudly shouted, “So you people want to mob me, huh? Fine! All of you, come at once! You there! Are you the Emperor and the Empress? Why don’t the two of you come as well?”
Duan Yu frantically waved his hands. “Wait, wait! Let me fight with him for three stances first!”
Emperor Baoding knew that this nephew of his was often capable of exceeding expectations. Perhaps he had some sort of plan or trick up his sleeve. The Divine Crocodile definitely would not take his life, and with himself, the Marquis of Virtuous Enlightenment, his brothers, and others present, there definitely wouldn’t be any problems. “Everybody, stop. We might as well let this uncouth madman experience the martial talents of the young prince of Dali.”
Chu Wanli and the other three were just about to charge, but as soon as they heard the Emperor’s decree, they immediately stood down.
Duan Yu repeated, “Yue Number Three, we have to agree in advance. If you can’t beat me in three stances, you’ll have to take me on as your master. Even if I become your master, you need to be aware that your intelligence is lacking. There’s no way I can teach you martial arts. Do you agree to this?” The Divine Crocodile angrily replied, “Who wants you to teach me martial arts? What type of crappy martial arts can you possibly know?”
Duan Yu said, “Good! So you’ve agreed. After I become your master, you’ll have to obey my commands. If I tell you to do something, you must do it. Otherwise, you’ll be known as an unfilial person who disobeys his master and insults his ancestors, which is totally contrary to the rules of the wulin. Do you agree?” The Divine Crocodile actually wasn’t angry; instead, he laughed. “Naturally. After you lose and take me on as your master, you also would have to obey me.”
Duan Yu had been silently pondering ten or so steps of the “Graceful Steps Upon the Waves” [Ling Bo Wei Bu] martial arts he had learned. He felt that to avoid three stances would not be difficult. However, he had never fought with anyone before, and the Divine Crocodile’s martial arts was extremely high, leaving him without absolute confidence in victory. It’d be best to leave himself an avenue of retreat.
“Fine,” Duan Yu said. “But if you want to take me on as your apprentice, you still need to defeat my masters one by one. Only after proving that your martial arts are superior will I accept you as my master.” He thought to himself, “If I am grabbed by him underneath three stances, I’ll just point at all the elite martial artists here one by one and describe them all as being my masters, and force him to fight them one by one by one.” The Divine Crocodile replied, “Fine! Fine! You keep on talking but you refuse to fight. You aren’t like me at all! The students of the Southern Seas sect are never hesitant when it comes to a battle!”
Duan Yu pointed behind the Divine Crocodile with a faint smile. “One of my masters has been standing behind you for a long time, now.” The Divine Crocodile hadn’t sensed anyone behind him. Swiveling his head, he didn’t see anybody. At this time, Duan Yu suddenly advanced one step, moving as though he were floating on the breeze. Clumsily, he reached out towards the Divine Crocodile’s chest, attempting to strike at his Shanzhong acupoint with his thumb. This was an extremely clumsy and ungainly move, but Duan Yu’s body was filled with the internal energy of seven disciples of the Wuliang sword sect. Although he couldn’t use all of that internal energy, the power of this claw was not small.
The Divine Crocodile felt some pain at the pit his stomach as Duan Yu suddenly seized his Shenque acupoint, located at his navel, with his left hand. The scroll for the “Divine Art of the Northern Darkness” [Beiming Shengong] included drawings of numerous myriads of acupoints on it. Duan Yu, however, had only mastered the acupoints on two of the drawings. The “Ren” meridians, and the “Lunar Lung” scripture. The Shanzhong acupoint and Shenque acupoints were two major acupoints of the “Ren” meridians.
Startled, the Divine Crocodile immediately exerted his internal energy to resist. To his great shock, he felt it flow outwards from his Shanzhong acupoint, causing him to feel as though his entire body had lost half of its strength, frightening him even further. Duan Yu had already flipped him around, causing his feet to point upwards and his head to point downwards. With a ‘teng’ sound, his big bald head collided with the floor. Fortunately for him, the floor of the flower pavilion was carpeted, and so he was not injured. In his great anger, he exercised the skill “The Carp Stands Erect” and rose to his feet, then sent out his left hand in a claw attack towards Duan Yu.
Upon seeing this series of events, every person present was extremely shocked. Duan Zhengchun, seeing that the Divine Crocodile sent out that claw with extreme force, was just about to intervene when Duan Yu suddenly sidestepped towards the left. His footwork was strange to the extreme. With but a single step, he managed to dodge the opponent’s attack, which had struck with the speed of a peal of thunder or a flash of lightning. Duang Zhengchun exclaimed, “Incredible!” The Divine Crocodile’s second palm attack came slamming down towards Duan Yu, who did not try to block or counter. Instead, he took two oblique steps and once again completely dodged the attack.
The Divine Crocodile had missed two attacks in a row. He was both startled and angry. Duan Yu was standing right in front of him, not more than a meter away. Suddenly, with a crazy howl, he sent out a two-handed attack, grabbing at Duan Yu’s chest and stomach. He used all of his energy in this attack; arms, hands, and his claws. In his anger, he had completely forgotten that if this double blow connected, his “future heir to the Southern Seas sect” would suffer tremendous physical damage.
Emperor Baoding, Duan Zhengchun, the Sage of Hollow Jade, and Gao Shengtai shouted in unison, “Careful!” Only to see Duan Yu take a step to the left, then a step to the right. With breeze-like ease, he had already managed to somehow appear behind the Divine Crocodile. With his two hands, he patted the Divine Crocodile on his bald head.
The Divine Crocodile felt that his opponent’s attack was totally mysterious and unpredictable. Somehow, the kid had managed to pat him on the top of his head! He darkly exclaimed, “My life comes to an end!” But as soon as his opponent touched the top of his head, he realized that there was no power behind this blow at all. With a sneer, he reversed his left hand and sent it upwards. Suddenly, five bloody lines appeared on the back of Duan Yu’s hand. Duan Yu hastily retracted his hand, but the Divine Crocodile’s power hadn’t diminished yet. The clawing attack slid down from Duan Yu’s retracted hand, resulting in five bloody cuts also being made on the Divine Crocodile’s head.
Actually, after having avoided three separate attacks in a row, Duan Yu had already won this battle. Only, he was far too mischievous, and so patted the Divine Crocodile on his head. He wasn’t aware that his internal energy was now quite strong, and also didn’t know how to utilize it either. Consequently, he was almost captured instead. With a series of interconnected steps, he flew backwards and hid behind his father, so terrified that his face was pale and bloodless.
The Sage of Hollow Jade cast him a glance and thought to herself, “Hmph. Your father and your uncle taught you such a marvelous skill, and you’ve been hiding it from me all along.”
Mu Wanqing said loudly, “Divine Crocodile of the Southern Seas! Not only were you unable to hit him within three strokes, but you took a nasty tumble yourself instead! Quick, get over here and pay respects to your master!” Red-faced, the Divine Crocodile scratched his ear. “He wasn’t fighting with me for real. This one doesn’t count.” Mu Wanqing pointed directly at his face. “Have you no shame? If you aren’t going to accept him as your master, then you must be a bastard son of a turtle! What’s your choice? Are you going to accept him as your master, or be a bastard son of a turtle?” The Divine Crocodile angrily replied, “Neither! I want to fight him again!”
Duan Zhengchun saw that his son’s footwork was miraculous to the extreme, but was unable to discern the secret behind it. Quietly, he whispered to his son, “Don’t fight with him head on. Just take an opportunity to seize his acupoints.” Duan Yu whispered back, “Your son is afraid now. I don’t know if I can do it.” Duan Zhengchun replied softly, “Don’t be afraid. I’ll secretly assist you from the side.”
With his father supporting him, Duan Yu’s courage arose, and he reappeared from behind Duan Zhengchun’s back. “You weren’t able to hit me in three stances. Time to accept me as your master!” The Divine Crocodile let out a thunderous bellow, then struck out at him with a powerful palm.
Duan Yu took a single step towards the northeast and easily avoided the attack. With a loud sound, ‘ka-la!’, this palm attack from the Divine Crocodile shattered a tea table. With all his willpower, Duan Yu focused, then softly recited, “See my body, advance and retreat. Follow his back, do not capture him. Go to the front courtyard, see nobody present. Hide both sides of the urn, go to a strategic place. Peel, disadvantageous to go towards the construct. The ram and goat touch the border, they cannot retreat, nor can they be fulfilled.”
He ignored the origins of the Divine Crocodiles palms, focusing only on his own footwork, retreating and dodging with strange, slanted steps. The twin palms of the Divine Crocodile became faster and faster, and the force of his blows stronger and stronger. A ceaseless stream of cracking sounds continually could be heard from within the flower pavilion as the chairs, tables, teapots, and teacups were shattered one after another. But he couldn’t land a single blow on Duan Yu’s body.
Even if you don't like her translation style (and honestly, I'm not a Minford fan either), there's no need to be offensive towards her. That's extremely rude and disrespectful.
To finish out chapter 6 for you gents. Enjoy! I'll start on chapter 7 when I have a chance.
More than three stances passed in the blink of an eye. The two brothers, Emperor Baoding and the South-Subduing Prince, could easily tell that Duan Yu’s technique was shallow, and that he possessed no martial arts at all. Only, they could not discern how he received instruction from an elite martial artist and received an almost divine footwork skill, striding in the positions of Fuxi’s 64 trigrams. His first step would always be unimaginably queer. If he were really to fight with the Divine Crocodile, he would die underneath the opponent’s very first palm. But he didn’t bother to fight, and just focused on walking around. Although the Divine Crocodile palms were extremely fierce, he couldn’t lay a single finger on Duan Yu.
After watching for a while, the two brothers exchanged glances. A hint of worry had appeared on both of their faces. They both thought, “If the Divine Crocodile just closed his eyes and ignored Yu’er’s footwork, opting instead to randomly flail out with punches and palms, he’ll hit him sooner or later.” But they saw that the Divine Crocodile’s face grow more and more yellow, his eyes bulging more and more wide, not having thought of this method. His palm attacks fluctuated rapidly, but always would miss Duan Yu’s body by a third or two thirds of a meter.
If the fight continued, although Duan Yu would not be hurt, actually beating the opponent would be impossible as well. After watching a while, Emperor Baoding suddenly said, “Yu’er, slow your footsteps by a half. Face him directly, and grab the acupoint on his chest.”
Duan Yu answered, “Yes!” He slowed down his footsteps, then turned to face the Divine Crocodile and walked towards him. But upon facing the furious yellow countenance of the Divine Crocodile, fear suddenly struck him. His footsteps faltered just a little, causing him to move slightly out of position. The Divine Crocodile sent out a claw towards the left side of Duan Yu’s head, connecting and causing blood to immediately flow from his left ear. Feeling pain from his wounded ear, Duan Yu became even more timid. He increased the speed of his footsteps, hurriedly backing up and once again hiding behind Duan Zhengchun. With a forced smile, he called out, “Uncle, that won’t work!”
Duan Zhengchun roared furiously, “The members of the Dali Duan dynasty face their enemies boldly. Which one is cowardly and retreats to hide? Go out there and fight! Your uncle’s instructions were good.” The Sage of Hollow Jade, doting on her son, interjected, “Yu’er has already fought with him for sixty stances or more. The Duan family has produced such a wonderful scion, and you still think it isn’t enough? Yu’er, you won long ago. No need to fight any more.” Duan Zhengchun said, “Do not be afraid. I can guarantee that he won’t die.” The Sage of Hollow Jade felt bitterness in her heart, and her eyes began to fill with tears.
Seeing his mother in such a state, Duan Yu couldn’t bear it. His courage rose again, and he boldly strode forwards. He loudly proclaimed, “I’ll fight with you some more!” This time, he hardened his heart and began to walk in a circular pattern, with each step slower than the previous. He didn’t make eye contact with the Divine Crocodile, and instead just struck out at the latter’s chest with a palm.
The Divine Crocodile saw that there was no strength at all behind his blow. With a loud laugh, he slanted his body slightly and returned a claw attack against Duan Yu’s shoulder and head. But he didn’t imagine Duan Yu’s footwork would be so incredibly profound and ever-changing that the two moved their positions at exactly the same moment. As the two ran into each other, the Divine Crocodile’s chest was somehow right where Duan Yu’s finger was. Duan Yu clearly saw the location of his acupoints, and with his right hand immediately seized the enemy’s Shanzhong acupoint, while his left hand grasped the opponent’s Shenque acupoint.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to use his internal energy at all. Although Duan Yu had grabbed two of the opponent’s acupoints, if the Divine Crocodile just ignored him and shrugged him off without the use of internal energy, there would be nothing Duan Yu could do at all. But when the vital acupoints of the Divine Crocodile were seized, the Divine Crocodile’s heart suddenly leapt, and he extended both his hands in a frontal attack against his enemy.
This attack actually served the purpose of defense. He was attacking Duan Yu’s eyes. In martial arts learning, this was considered “an attack which absolutely must be defended against”. No matter how strong the enemy was, he would still have to retract his hands to defend himself, and thus the person originally in danger would have escaped from the dangerous situation. Originally, this was a brilliant way of fighting. Unfortunately, Duan Yu didn’t understand anything about fighting an enemy. As the opponent’s claw attack arrived, he didn’t think to immediately let go and retreat backwards. His two hands remained firmly attached to the Divine Crocodile’s acupoints.
This mistake which Duan Yu made became a benefit for him instead. As a result, the Divine Crocodile’s internal energy was thrown into turmoil, the flow of which was being blocked at two separate major acupoints. At the same time, once again his internal energy began to flood out of him from his Shanzhong acupoint. As his fingers reached a distance of six inches away from Duan Yu’s eyes, they became disobedient and refused to budge a single inch further. Taking a deep breath, he once again tried to generate his internal energy.
Duan Yu suddenly felt an enormous surge of energy coming towards him from the Shaoshang acupoint on his left thumb. The Divine Crocodile’s internal energy was very powerful, on a totally different level from those seven low level disciples of the Wuliang sect. Duan Yu felt his entire body tremble and his footing became unsteady. He knew that the situation was extremely dangerous. As soon as he removed his hands from his opponent’s acupoints, his life would be in jeopardy. Although he felt extremely uncomfortable, he just forced himself to ignore it.
Duan Zhengchun and Duan Yu were no more than a meter or two’s distance away from each other. Seeing his son’s face grow more and more red, Duan Zhengchun struck out with his forefinger towards the Dazhue acupoint on his son’s back. The Dali Duan dynasty’s “Solitary Solar Finger” [Yiyangzhi] was world-renown; it really was nothing to trifle with. A sudden surge of warm, soft energy streamed towards Duan Yu, arousing the internal energy which already resided in Duan Yu’s body.
The Divine Crocodile’s entire body was shaking violently, and he slowly fell down. Duan Zhengchun supported his son and kept him standing. Duan Yu’s internal energy began to circulate and smoothed out again. The energy from the Divine Crocodile’s Shoutaiyingfei acupoint slowly and unhurriedly began to collect in the ocean of internal energy in Duan Yu’s body. For the moment, Duan Yu was unable to speak.
Duan Zhengchun secretly used his “Solitary Solar Finger” to assist his son, and with their combined efforts, managed to subdue the Divine Crocodile of the Southern Seas. Everybody in the pavilion understood this, of course, but there would nonetheless be no way for the Divine Crocodile to deny that he had lost to Duan Yu.
But this man’s ability really was incredible. As soon as Duan Yu’s hands left his acupoints, with a deep breath and circulation of his energy, the Divine Crocodile leapt to his feet. Narrowing his pair of bean-like eyes, he glared at Duan Yu. An utterly strange look was on his face, a mixture of astonishment, sadness, and wrath.
Mu Wanqing shouted, “Yue Number Three! It seems to me that you really are willing to be a bastard son of a turtle! Are you ready to kowtow to your master yet?” The Divine Crocodile angrily roared back, “I’m going to blow your mind and do something you don’t expect at all! Fine, I’ll accept him as my master. Yue Number Two will definitely not be a bastard son of a turtle!” While speaking, he suddenly immediately knelt down on the spot. Dong, dong, dong dong. Dong, dong, dong dong. His head knocking against the ground, he kowtowed to Duan Yu eight times in a row. Loudly, he proclaimed, “Master! Your disciple, Yue Number Two, is paying his respects to you!”
Stupefied, Duan Yu didn’t immediately respond. Not waiting for him to answer, the Divine Crocodile jumped to his feet then flew to the top of the pavilion. There was an “Ah!” cry from the top, followed by a “peng” sound. Suddenly, a person dropped from the top of the pavilion. It was one of the imperial bodyguards, and fresh blood dripped from his chest. His heart had already been torn out by the Divine Crocodile. His arms and legs flailing madly, he hadn’t died yet. It was an extremely frightful sight. Although this bodyguard’s martial arts was not as good as that of Chu Wanli and the others, it wasn’t ordinary either. Unexpectedly, the Divine Crocodile was able to easily rip his heart out as quickly as another man might lift his hands. Even though the Four Great Bodyguards were nearby, they were unable to save him. The faces of every person present changed color.
Mu Wanqing angrily said, “Husband Duan, this disciple you have taken acts too outrageously! Next time you meet him, you need to teach him a lesson.” Duan Yu’s heart was thumping frantically. “I won only because I was lucky, and because my father lent his aid. If I see him again, I’m afraid that it will be my heart that gets torn out by him. What ability do I have to discipline him?”
Gu Ducheng and Fu Sigui took out the corpse of the guardsman. Duan Zhengchun issued orders to provide for his bereaved family, and to arrange for a proper burial.
That Mr. Huo, who was 70% awake and 30% drunken, was so terrified that his body was trembling nonstop. He also withdrew.
Emperor Baoding said, “Yu’er, that set of footsteps you learned was derived from Fuxi’s 64 trigrams, was it not? Who taught it to you? He must truly be a brilliant master.” Duan Yu replied, “I learned it by accident in a mountain cave. I don’t know if I learned it properly or not. Will uncle please instruct me?” Emperor Baoding asked, “How exactly did you learn it in a mountain cave?”
Duan Yu then explained how he fell into the Wuliang mountain ravine and entered the cavern, and discovered the painting with the instructions for the “Graceful Steps on the Waves”. With regards to the jade sculpture and the paintings of naked women and what not, he naturally did not bring them up. These naked paintings of his Dear Goddess, how could he show them to his uncle, aunt, father, and mother? And if Mu Wanqing found out that he was infatuated with his Dear Goddess, she would be furious. Leaving out details in a story would be like Confucius whittling away at unnecessary parts of the Spring and Autumn period, just the wish of the storyteller.
After Duan Yu was finished, Emperor Baoding said, “Within this sixty four trigram footwork is hidden a first-class internal energy. Try walking the entire thing from the beginning.” Duan Yu said, “Yes!” After a moment’s thought, he began the footwork. Emperor Baoding, Duan Zhengchun, and Gao Shengtai all had very profound internal energy. But despite that, they were only able to understand twenty to thirty percent of the profound secrets of the internal energy method hidden within the footwork. After finishing all sixty four trigram footsteps, Duan Yu had walked in a circle, and was back at his original position.
Emperor Baoding exclaimed, “Superb! This set of footwork has no equal under heaven. That Yu’er was able to learn it is his incredible good fortune. Tonight, your mother will return to her palace. Yu’er, be sure to drink a few cups of wine with your mother.” Turning his head, he said to the Empress, “Let us leave.” The Empress, rising to her feet, agreed. “Yes, let’s.”
Duan Zhengchun and the others respectfully escorted the Emperor and the Empress out, all the way to the outside of the decorate arch of the South-Subduing Palace.
Another magnificent update Woxing and highly appreciated! And as to the previous translator i give them all my respect for going out of their way to at least attemp translating for us and their work 2 is highly appreciated by me! once again thank you for continuing the translation on this magnificent novel!