this one is really picking up....such a nice description of Murong location....thanks a lot Ren!
more ....want more!
this one is really picking up....such a nice description of Murong location....thanks a lot Ren!
more ....want more!
wow, it's been awhile. anyway, thanks ren, for the translations!. you're awesome, as usual.
Duan Yu burst out in laughter. Ah Bi hurriedly said to Jiumozhi, “Great master, please don’t be angry, old Uncle Huang is an old muddle-head. He thinks he’s very clever, but whenever he speaks he can’t help but offend people.”
Cui Baiquan tugged on Guo Yanzhi’s shirt-sleeves. Walking to one side, he said in a low voice, “This evil baldy claims to be an old friend of Mr. Murong, but these people here clearly are not treating him like a respected guest. Let’s not act too rashly and figure out exactly what is going on first.” Guo Yanzhi replied, “Yes!” They returned to their original seats. But Guo Yanzhi’s original seat had already been shattered by him into many pieces, leaving him no place to sit. Ah Bi carried her own seat over towards him. She said with a smile, “Great Hero Guo, please sit!” Guo Yanzhi nodded. He thought to himself, “Even if I am able to totally eradicate the entirety of the Murong family, I must spare this little girl.”
Ever since that old man entered, Duan Yu felt that something felt off and was unnatural. But as to what exactly was wrong, he could not say. He carefully examined the pavilion’s furnishings, furniture, scenery, calligraphy and paintings hanging on the walls, then looked at Ah Bi, Jiumozhi, Cui Baiquan, and Guo Yanzhi. He couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary, but more and more he felt as though something was off.
After a long time passed, the sound of footsteps could be heard, and a thin old man of fifty years or so entered. His skin was sallow in color, and a straggly mountain-goat like beard could be seen on his chin. He looked extremely shrewd and capable. The clothes he wore were very tasteful. On one hand, he wore a marble ring. Evidently, this was the steward for the Murong family. The skinny fellow bowed towards Jiumozhi and said, “This humble servant, Sun San, pays his respects to everyone. We feel extremely honored, venerable sir, that you wish to pay your respects before the mausoleum of our late master. But with our young master having left, there is no one to welcome you properly, much to our shame. I will simply convey your kind intentions to our young master, once he returns.”
At this point, Duan Yu suddenly smelled a light fragrant scent. His heart swayed. “Strange, strange.”
Earlier, when that old male servant had come to the room, Duan Yu smelled a fragrant scent. The fragrance seemed vaguely familiar to the scent which Mu Wanqing’s body also had. Although it was very different, both were feminine smells. Originally, Duan Yu thought that this fragrance was coming from Ah Bi, and so did not think too much of it. But as soon as that old servant left the room, the fragrance disappeared. But as soon as the self-claimed ‘Sun San’ entered the room, Duan Yu once again smelled this scent. Duan Yu suddenly understood that the reason he felt awkward earlier was because he smelled the fragrant scent of a seventeen, eighteen year old girl on the body of an eighty, ninety year old man. He thought to himself, “Can it be that in the inner pavilion is grown some sort of strange flowers or remarkable grass, and so anyone who comes here from that pavilion is covered by that scent? The other possibility is that both that old servant and this skinny fellow are actually women in disguise.”
Although the scent made Duan Yu feel suspicious, it was very light and nearly unnoticeable. Jiumozhi and the other two didn’t smell the fragrance at all. The only reason Duan Yu himself was able to notice it was because he and Mu Wanqing underwent a rare life-and-death situation together at the mountain cliff. Nobody else would pay any attention to this faint, virginal smell, but to him this scent made a deep impression within his heart and his very bones. It was a much stronger scent to him than that of musk, white sandalwood, or flowery perfume. Although Jiumozhi possessed an extremely deep reservoir of internal energy, he had strictly followed Buddhist prohibitions against sexual encounters all his life. Rosy cheeks and verdant temples were nothing more to him than skeletal bones and colorless skulls. Fragrant powders and rouge were even less to him. He had no idea that men and women had different scents.
Although Duan Yu suspected that Sun San was actually a woman in disguise, he couldn’t spot a single flaw or giveaway. Not only did this person have the bearing and demeanor of a man, his shape and his voice weren’t womanly at all. Suddenly, he thought to himself, “If a woman is imitating a man, she can’t fake his Adam’s apple.” He secretly glanced at Sun San’s throat, but saw that his goat-like beard perfectly covered his larynx. Duan Yu rose to his feet. He pretended to examine the calligraphy and painting on the walls, and casually strolled past Sun San’s side. He snuck a side-glance, and saw that Sun San’s throat didn’t have the slightest bulge at all, and that his chest seemed full and plump. Although Duan Yu still couldn’t be absolutely certain that Sun San was a woman, such a skinny man definitely should not have so much flesh and muscle on his chest. Duan Yu, having discovered a secret, felt very amused. “There’s a lot more to be played out in this drama. Let’s see what she has planned next.”
Jiumozhi sighed, “I met with your deceased master by the boundaries of Sichuan. We discussed martial arts and very much admired each other’s abilities, and became friends. I wouldn’t have imagined that the heavens themselves would be envious of his talents and leave such a useless, mediocre fellow as myself alive, while taking the life of your deceased master and sending him to meet Buddha in the Western Paradise. The only reason I have left Tibet and come to the Central Plains is to pay my respects before his mausoleum, due to our ancient friendship. It does not matter whether or not someone is here to welcome me properly. Steward, I would simply like to trouble you to lead the way.” Sun San wrinkled his forehead, as though he felt extremely awkward. “This…this…” Jiumozhi said, “I don’t know if there is some difficulty in my request, and humbly request your instruction.”
Sun San said, “Great master, since you are a bosom friend of my deceased master, you surely must know his temperament. My deceased master hated when people came to pay visits to him. He said that of those visitors who came to the manor, if they didn’t come on a mission of vengeance, then they came to try and convince him to take them on as a student. A level below this would be those who came to beg for money, or try to cause trouble and pilfer something from us. He said that monks and nuns were even less trustworthy…ack, sorry!” As he said this, he suddenly seemed to realize that with these words, he must have offended Jiumozhi. He hurriedly pressed his hands over his mouth.
The manner in which she acted was totally in accordance with that of a young maiden. Her round eyes widened, and the black pupils of her eyes spun. Although she quickly drooped her eyelids down, Duan Yu, who was paying close attention, couldn’t help but feel a sense of glee. “Not only is Sun San female, she’s a young girl.” Casting a side-glance at Ah Bi, he noticed a trace of a sly smile tugging at the corner of her lips. He no longer had any more doubt in his heart. “Sun San and old Huang clearly are the same person, perhaps that sister Ah Zhu she was speaking about.”
Jiumozhi heaved a sigh. “In this world, there are more deceitful people than there are honest people. It is not unreasonable for Mr. Murong to refuse to meet with most folk.” Sun San said, “Right. Our deceased master’s last words were, ‘If anyone wishes to conduct memorial ceremonies at my tomb or sweep my grave, politely turn them away. Hmph, those evil baldies probably just want to dig into my tomb.’ Ack, great master, please don’t think too much. The ‘thieving baldies’ our deceased master spoke of probably was not you.”
Duan Yu was secretly amused. “The phrase, ‘Cursing about ‘evil baldies’ in front of a monk’ applies to this situation perfectly.” Then he thought, “This evil baldy has totally maintained his composure and not batted an eyelid. The more evil and loathsome a person is, the better his temper is. This evil baldy really is a remarkable person.”
Jiumozhi said, “These last words of your deceased master are understandable. His might shook the world, and he left behind many enemies. It’s reasonable for him to guard against enemies who did not dare attempt revenge on him when he was living, but who would try to disturb his bones after his death.”
Sun San said, “If someone wishes to disturb the bones of our deceased master, haha, that would really be like ‘an elderly cat smelling salted fish.’” Jiumozhi was startled. “What do you mean, ‘an elderly cat smelling salted fish’?” Sun San replied, “This is called, ‘smelling dried fish, smelling dried fish’. Meaning, ‘don’t even think about it, don’t even think about it.’” [Obviously, this is a linguistic wordplay; the phrases ‘smelling dried fish’ and ‘don’t even think about it’ sound exactly the same in Mandarin Chinese.] Jiumozhi replied, “Ah, so that’s how it is. I was very good bosom friends with Mr. Murong. My only desire is to pay my respects before his tomb. Steward, no need to be too skeptical.”
Sun San said, “The honest truth is, I don’t have the authority to grant you your wish. If I were to go against my deceased master’s last command, when the young master returns and finds out, he’ll break my old legs. How about this, I’ll go invite the old mistress and ask her to come up with a plan. What do you think?” Jiumozhi replied, “The old mistress? Who are you referring to?” Sun San said, “Old Mistress Murong. She was our deceased master’s aunt. Every time an old friend of the old master came, they would kowtow to her and pay their respects. With the young master not at home, everything needs to go through the old mistress.” Jiumozhi replied, “That’s very good to know. Please inform the old mistress that Jiumozhi of Tibet has come to pay his respects to her.” Sun San said, “Great master, you are too polite. You flatter us too much.” As he spoke, he entered the main pavilion.
Duan Yu thought to himself, “This girl is both intelligent and strange. I wonder why she is playing all these pranks on this evil baldy?” After a long period of time, a clattering of rings and ornaments could be heard as an old lady tottered out of the inner pavilion. Before she herself arrived, that light fragrance arrived first. Duan Yu couldn’t help but smile. He thought to himself, “This time, she’s dressed up as an old lady.” The old lady wore an ancient, copper-colored satin skirt and coat, wearing jade bracelets around her wrists, and pearls and jade ornaments in her hair. Her appearance was graceful and luxurious, but had many wrinkles on her face. Her eyes seemed confused and misty, as though they could no longer see. Duan Yu secretly cheered, “This young lass is incredible. Whatever she dresses up as, she looks like. What’s even more amazing is that she was able to change in such a short period of time. Her movements are so swift. It really must be acclaimed as the height of perfection in the art.”
The old lady supported herself on her walking stick, entering the pavilion with faltering steps. She said, “Ah Bi, have friends of your old master arrived? Why haven’t they kowtowed to me?” Her head turned left and right, as though she had very poor eyesight and couldn’t tell who was present. Ah Bi gestured towards Jiumozhi and said in a low voice, “Quick, kowtow. As soon as you kowtow, the old mistress will be happy and will agree to anything.” The old lady turned her head around, cupping her hands around her ears so as to hear more clearly. She loudly said, “Girl, what did you just say? Did they kowtow yet?”
Jiumozhi said, “Old mistress, how are you? This humble monk has come to pay his respects to you.” He bowed deeply, his hands folded together. His twin hands exerted power, and a deep booming sound came from the bricks on the floor, as though someone had kowtowed.”
Cui Baiquan and Guo Yanzhi looked at each other. Both of them were equally struck dumb with amazement. “This monk’s internal energy is so profound! I fear that we won’t be able to take even a single stance from him.”
The old madame nodded. “Excellent, excellent. In this world, there are more deceitful people than there are honest people. Even for something like kowtowing, some evil scoundrels want to be deceitful. Even when they clearly have not kowtowed, they make booming sounds on the floor as though they have, so as to deceive this old lady’s bad eyes. But you, kid, you are great, you are very obedient. You kowtowed very loudly.” Duan Yu couldn’t resist a snort of amusement. The old lady slowly turned around and said, “Ah Bi, did someone just fart?” She reached out her hand and pinched her nose. Ah Bi, holding in laughter, said, “Old mistress, that isn’t the case. Young master Duan let out a laugh.” The old lady said, “Broken? What’s broken? [Duan Yu’s surname, ‘Duan’, sounds the same as the Chinese character for ‘broken’ or ‘snapped’]” Ah Bi replied, “Nothing’s broken. His surname is ‘Duan’. He’s the young master of the Duan family.” The old lady nodded. “Right, young master this and young master that. Day in and day out, you are always thinking about your young master.” Ah Bi’s face reddened. “The old mistress’s ears aren’t good. She needs to be more careful when gossiping.”
The old lady turned towards Duan Yu. “Kid, why haven’t you kowtowed yet?” Duan Yu said, “Old mistress, there’s something I want to tell you.” The old lady said, “What is it?”
Duan Yu replied, “I have a niece who is very intelligent and clever, but who is also extremely mischievious. She loves dressing up as a little monkey to mess around. One day she’ll dress up as a male monkey, the next day a female monkey. She knows how to do acrobatics too. Old mistress, you’d love to meet her. It’s too bad that I didn’t bring her along to have her kowtow to you.”
The old lady really was the other servant girl of the Murong family, Ah Zhu, dressed up in disguise. Her abilities in the arts of disguise and makeup were godlike. Not only could she make herself look different, her words and her mannerisms were impeccable as well, not revealing a single flaw. Thus, even extremely intelligent people such as Jiumozhi or experienced jianghu veterans such as Cui Baiquan didn’t suspect her in the slightest. Unexpected, Duan Yu was able to ferret out the truth, using the faint aroma which her body gave off and which she had no way of hiding.
Hearing him speak thusly, Ah Zhu was startled, but didn’t change her demeanor in the slightest, continuing to appear like a senile, doddering old lady with bad vision and half-deaf ears. She said, “Good kid, good kid, you are really smart. I’ve never met such a smart child as you before. Good kid, don’t talk too much. This old lady will definitely take care of you.”
Duan Yu thought to himself, “What she means is that she wants me to not reveal her secret. She’s trying to fend off this evil baldy, Jiumozhi. That makes her a friend, not an enemy.” He said, “Old mistress, please put your heart at ease. Now that I am at your manor, naturally I am at your disposal and will obey your commands.”
Ah Zhu replied, “You are an obedient kid to listen to my words. Great, first kowtow three times to this old lady. I definitely will give you great benefits if you do so.”
Duan Yu was startled. “I am the regal son of the Imperial Crown Brother of Dali. How can I kowtow to a little girl like you?”
Ah Zhu, seeing the awkward look on his face, sneered. “Good kid, let me tell you right now, the best choice for you is to obediently kowtow a few times to your granny.”
Duan Yu turned his head, and saw Ah Bi, lips pursed in a smile, casting side-glances at him. Her skin was as white as freshly peeled water chestnuts, and a small, fine black mole was at the corner of her lips, making her look all the more charming and lovely. His heart was suddenly stirred. “Sister Ah Bi, I heard that there is a sister Ah Zhu in your respect manor. Is she…is she was beautiful as you are?” Ah Bi smiled. “Aha! How could an ugly freak like me be worthy of such praise? If sister Ah Zhu heardja askin’ questions like that, she’d definitely be real unhappy-like, yeah? How can I compare to her? Sister Ah Zhu is ten times more beautiful than I am.” Duan Yu asked, “Truly?” Ah Bi grinned, “Why would I lie to ya?” Duan Yu said, “For a person to be ten times more beautiful than you is totally impossible, unless…unless it’s the goddess of the jade cavern. For a person to even be on your level would make them a rare beauty.” Ah Bi’s cheeks flushed red. She bashfully said, “The old mistress asked you to kowtow. Who asked you to praise me so highly?”
Duan Yu said, “The old mistress must have originally been a nationally famous, heaven-like beauty as well. To tell you the truth, I don’t really care if I get any benefits, but am more than willing to kowtow a few times to a world class beauty.” As he spoke, he fell to his knees. He thought to himself, “Since I am going to kowtow, I might as well do so loudly. I already kowtowed a few thousand times to the jade statue. What’s the big deal if I kowtow to a beautiful lady of the jianghu a few times?” He immediately kowtowed loudly three times.
Ah Zhu was extremely delighted. She though to herself, “This young master clearly knows that I’m just a little servant girl, but is actually willing to kowtow to me. This is really rare.” She said, “Good kid, very good, very good. It’s too bad that I didn’t bring you a meeting-present.” Ah Bi interjected, “Old mistress, just don’t forget about it an’ jes’ give it to’m next time.”
Ah Zhu glanced at Ah Bi. She said towards Cui Baiquan and Guo Yanzhi, “Why haven’t these two guests kowtowed to me?” Guo Yanzhi let out a ‘hmph’ sound. In a rough voice and with a rough attitude, he said, “Do you know martial arts or not?” Ah Zhu said, “What did you say?” Guo Yanzhi replied, “I asked if you know martial arts or not. If you possess a high level of martial arts, then I, Guo Yanzhi, am willing to die underneath your hand, Mistress Murong! But if you aren’t a member of the wulin, then there’s no need for me to bother wasting my breath with you.” Ah Zhu shook her head. “What’s this about a hundred-legged centipede? Naturally, we have centipedes here. When they bite people, it’s very painful!” [Centipede sounds similar to martial arts]. Turning towards Jiumozhi, she said, “Great monk, I hear you want to go check out my nephew’s tomb. What type of treasure do you intend to pilfer from the tomb?”
Although Jiumozhi still did not realize that she was actually a girl, he had long sinced figured out that she was just pretending to be deaf and dumb, and that she wasn’t as near-sighted or as muddle-headed as she pretended to be. He became more guarded, and thought to himself, “Mr. Murong was such an extraordinary figure. His family members must be exceptional as well.” He pretended to not have heard the words, “pilfer from the tomb”, and said, “This humble monk was a close bosom friend of Mr. Murong. After hearing the horrible news of his passing, I have rushed here from Tibet to pay my respects before his tomb. In the past, I made a promise to Mr. Murong to bring him the manuscript for the Duan family of Dali’s ‘Divine Sword of the Six Meridians’ and let him check it out. For me to still have not carried out my promise fills my heart with shame.”
Ah Zhu and Ah Bi exchanged glances. They both thought to themselves, “Finally, this monk has brought up the relevant issues.” Ah Zhu asked, “And what happens if you are able to bring the manuscript for the ‘Divine Sword of the Six Meridians’? What happens if you are not?” Jiumozhi replied, “In the past, Mr. Murong and I made an agreement; as long as I was able to retrieve the manual of the ‘Divine Sword of the Six Meridians’ for him to read for a few days, he would allow me to read for a few days in the ‘Water Pavilion of Bestowal and Repayment’. Ah Zhu suddenly felt afraid. “For this monk to actually know the name, ‘Water Pavilion of Bestowal and Repayment’…maybe he is telling the truth after all.” She immediately pretended to be confused and said, “What’s this about porridge and boiled dumplings? Do you want some porridge and chicken broth dumplings? That’s easily done. You are a monk. Can you eat meat or fish?”
Jiumozhi turned his head towards Ah Bi. “I don’t know if this old mistress is truly confused or just faking it. For her to be so unwelcoming cannot help but to give a feeling of coldness in one’s heart.”
Ah Zhu said, “Oh, so your heart is feeling cold? Ah Bi, quick, go and make a bowl of hot chicken and duck blood soup so as to warm this great master’s heart and lungs.” Ah Bi held in her laughter. “The master doesn’t eat meat.” Ah Zhu nodded. “Then don’t use real chickens and real ducks. Use vegetarian chicken and vegetarian duck meat [usually made from tofu and veggies].” Ah Bi said, “Old mistress, vegetarian chicken doesn’t have any blood.” Ah Zhu said, “Then what are we to do?”
The two of them exchanged one phrase after another, and all their words were full of nonsense. Most people of Suzhou had quick teeth and clever mouths. In later generations, the story-telling abilities of Suzhou people became famous throughout the world because of this. These two girls were used to messing around and teasing each other, and they now rendered Jiumozhi unable to do anything.
Originally, he came to Gusu with the intention of discussing an important matter with young master Murong. Unexpectedly, the young master was not present, and everyone he met intertwined falsehoods with obfuscations, sometimes seeming to do so inadvertently, other times seeming to act in such a way on purpose, intermixing lies with truth. This rendered him unable to decide how to handle the situation. After a brief moment of pondering, he concluded that madame Murong, Sun San, old servant Huang, and Ah Bi were all trying to ward him off. Since they would not let him visit the mausoleum, they definitely would not be willing to allow him to enter the ‘Water Pavilion of Bestowal and Repayment’ and read secret martial arts manuals. At this moment, he decided, what he should do would be to clearly explain the situation and ignore their play-acting and deception. That way, in the future, regardless of whether they treated him with respect or came to blows with him, he would have already claimed the moral high ground. He immediately said in a calm, even-tempered voice, “I have brought the manuscript for the ‘Divine Sword of the Six Meridians’. Thus, I make the daring request that we act in accordance with the agreement and I be allowed to go read in the ‘Water Pavilion of Bestowal and Repayment’.” Ah Bi said, “Old master Murong has already passed away. First, there’s no evidence of this agreement. Secondly, even if you brought the manual, there is nobody present who is capable of reading it. Any agreements made in the past are naturally no longer valid now.” Ah Zhu said, “What sword manual? Where is it? Let me check it out first.”
Pointing to Duan Yu, Jiumozhi said, “Within this young gentleman’s mind lies the fully memorized manuscript for the ‘Divine Sword of the Six Meridians’. I have brought him here; this is the same as bringing an actual manuscript.” Ah Bi smiled. “I thought there really was a manual. So you were playing a joke on us, great master.” Jiumozhi said, “I wouldn’t dare. The original manual for the ‘Divine Sword of the Six Meridians’ has been burnt to ash by elder Kurong at the Heavenly Dragon Monastery. Fortunately, this gentleman has fully memorized it all.” Ah Bi replied, “If young master Duan memorized it, then it’s his business. Even if we were to invite someone to the ‘Water Pavilion of Bestowal and Repayment’ to read, it would be him. What does it have to do with you, great master?” Jiumozhi replied, “In order to fulfill my promise of latter days, I intend to immolate him in front of Mr. Murong’s mausoleum.”
Upon hearing these words, everyone was astonished. But seeing the calm, placid, serious expression on the face, he definitely did not appear to be making a joke. This astonished them all the more. Ah Bi said, “Great master, you must be jesting! How can he allow you to just casually cremate him like that?” Jiumozhi said dully, “If I want to immolate him, I don’t think he would be able to resist.” Ah Bi smiled. “Great master, you say that young gentleman Duan has memorized the manual for the ‘Divine Sword of the Six Meridians’, but that clearly cannot be true. If young gentleman Duan really memorized such a fearful martial arts as the ‘Divine Sword of the Six Meridians’, how could he be so easily controlled by you?” Jiumozhi nodded. “Miss, you know only half the story. I have sealed all of his major acupoints, and he is unable to exert any energy at all.”
Ah Zhu shook her head continuously. “I believe you even less now. Unseal his acupoints and let him show off the ‘Divine Sword of the Six Meridians’ first. I think that ninety nine percent of your words are lies.” Jiumozhi nodded. “Good idea. We can demonstrate.”
Duan Yu praised Ah Bi as being beautiful, and was absolutely charmed by her vocal and instrumental musical skills. Ah Bi naturally liked him. In addition, not only did he not reveal Ah Zhu’s disguise, he also kowtowed to her three times; this made Ah Zhu happy with him as well. Thus, upon hearing that his acupoints had been sealed, both of the girls wanted to trick Jiumozhi into unsealing his acupoints. They didn’t expect that Jiumozhi would immediately agree. He stretched out his palm towards Duan Yu’s body and tapped his hand a few times towards Duan Yu’s back, chest, and legs. Duan Yu instantly felt as though his acupoints became unsealed, and the flow of his blood became unimpeded. As soon as he generated his internal energy, he could feel his qi beginning to circulate throughout his body. He experimentally generated his energy in accordance with the directions for the ‘Zhongchong Sword’ technique, inciting his internal energy to pass to the middle finger of his right hand. He felt a roasting hot sensation at the tip of his middle finger, and knew that all he needed to do would be to extend his finger and sword qi would immediately shoot out.
Jiumozhi said, “Young master Duan, mistress Murong does not believe that you have practiced the ‘Divine Sword of the Six Meridians’. Please show off your ability. Do as I do, and chop off a branch from this osmanthus tree.” As he spoke, he sent out a slanting palm strike with his left palm. His palm released its stored up internal energy; it was a stroke from his ‘Blazing Sabre’ technique. With a light cracking sound, a single branch of the osmanthus tree broke in half and fell to the ground, as though someone had chopped it with a sabre or a sword.
Cui Baiquan and Guo Yanzhi couldn’t help but let out an ‘Ah!’ cry of alarm. Although they knew that this barbarian monk possessed some extremely unusual skills, they thought that his skills were simply heterodox and evil. Only now, when they watched him chop off a tree branch, did they realize how profound his internal energy was. His internal energy was at a level that was rarely heard of and rarely seen.
Duan Yu shook his head. “I don’t know any martial arts at all, much less any ‘Divine Sword of the Seven Meridians’ or ‘Heavenly Sabre of the Eight Channels’. Why did you have to go and ruin a perfectly fine osmanthus tree?” Jiumozhi replied, “Young master Duan, why so modest? Your level of martial arts is highest amounts the elite martial artists of Dali’s Duan family. In this day and age, aside from young master Murong and my humble self, I’m afraid no one is superior to you. Gusu’s Murong mansion is a repository of martial arts learning in the world. Why don’t you show a few stances and have the old mistress give you some advice? That would be a very good thing for you.” Duan Yu replied, “Big monk, this entire trip you have taken such wonderful care of me, tugging me here and pulling me there, dragging me all the way to Jiangnan. At first, I didn’t want to say another word to you at all. But now that I’m at Gusu and have met such beautiful, heavenly girls here, the anger in my heart has dissipated. From now on, let’s make a clean break. Neither of us needs to bother with the other.”
Ah Zhu and Ah Bi, hearing him speak in a pedantic, bookworm like manner, couldn’t help but secretly laugh. They couldn’t help but feel secretly happy as well upon hearing him praise them.
Jiumozhi said, “Young master, if you refuse to display your ‘Divine Sword of the Six Meridians’, won’t you be making me to look like a liar?”
Duan Yu said, “Well, you were full of nonsense to begin with. If you had an agreement with Mr. Murong, why didn’t you come to Dali earlier? Why would you wait until Mr. Murong passed away and became unable to refute your words before coming to the Murong manor and cause an endless ruckus? You know what I think? I think you covet the high-level martial arts skills of the Murong family of Gusu, and came up with a false story to trick the old mistress into allowing you into their library and secretly study their private martial arts, and figure out the secrets behind their ‘Using the opponent’s skills, exercising them upon the opponent’. How can you possibly not realize that these people, being of a long-standing, famous, aristocratic wulin family, would see right through this trick of yours? If you could really steal away their martial arts techniques based solely upon your lies and rubbish, wouldn’t anybody be able to? Who isn’t able to make up this sort of nonsense?”
Ah Zhu and Ah Bi agreed in one voice.
Jiumozhi shook his head. “Young master Duan, your conjectures are incorrect. Although it is true that I made my agreement with Mr. Murong a long time ago, for nine years I sequestered myself in solitary meditation while I mastered the ‘Blazing Sabre’ technique, and thus could not go to Dali. If I had not mastered the ‘Blazing Sabre’ technique, I would not have been able to leave the Heavenly Dragon Monastery alive.
Duan Yu said, “Great master, you possess great fame, great power, and such an incredible level of martial arts. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you just stayed peacefully in Tibet as its dharma king and national protector? Why come to Jiangnan to deceive people? I recommend you return as soon as possible.”
Jiumozhi said, “Young master, if you refuse to display the ‘Divine Sword of the Six Meridians’, please do not blame me for being discourteous.” Duan Yu said, “You’ve been acting impolite all along. Can it be that you’ve found a way to be even more impolite still? At worst, you can kill me with a single chop of your sabre. What’s the big deal?” Jiumozhi replied, “Very good! Ware my sabre!” He raised his left palm and a powerful wind rushed towards Duan Yu’s face.
Duan Yu had long since hatched a plan. As his martial arts was far inferior to that of Jiumozhi, whether or not he fought back made no difference at all. If Jiumozhi wanted him to show that he knew the ‘Divine Sword of the Six Meridians’, he would refuse to do so no matter what. Thus, upon seeing Jiumozhi convert his internal energy into a sabre blade and chop towards him, Duan Yu toughened his spine and neither blocked nor parried. Jiumozhi was startled. Duan Yu was his only source of the manual of the ‘Divine Sword of the Six Meridians’; no matter what, he couldn’t kill him before he acquired it for himself. He hurriedly lifted his hands higher, and with a ‘shua’ sound, a cool wind passed over Duan Yu’s head, taking with it a large chunk of his hair.
Cui Baiquan and Guo Yanzhi were simultaneously shocked. Ah Zhu and Ah Bi’s faces couldn’t help but turn pale as well. Jiumozhi said in an awe-inspiring voice, “Young master Duan, would you really rather die than fight back?”
Duan Yu had long since thrown his fear of death into the wind. He laughed loudly and said, “Greed, wrath, lust, desire, foolishness. Master monk, you possess all of these flaws, and yet you falsely claim to be an eminent Buddhist monk. You really are not deserving of the title!”
Jiumozhi suddenly hacked a palm towards Ah Bi while shouting, “Unspeakable! I’ll first kill this servant girl of the Murong manor to display my power.”
Thanks for the translations! I'm just eating up all the highly intelligent debates as the girls play ol' baldy. For a moment, I thought Duan Yu would execute his Graceful Steps to evade the fierce attack.
Anyone know if sealing acupoints for a prolonged time will cause death? Or are there different effects for different acupoints?
Thank you Ren Wo Xing for translating Demi God and Semi Devil. I love this novel.
Some point I don't quite understand. Duan Yu should be super powerful now with his internal energy. He have the following energy:
Three of the evil people
1/2 Yhong He
1/2 Divine Croc
1/2 Ye Lang
1/2 That powerful monk almost equal to the #1 evil guy
1/2 of a Cui? <- pretty powerful
Some of the energy from 5 super powerful monks
1/2 Ling's dad
7 weak people from the beginning
All together should be like 2-3 times the internal energy of the strongest person. Being so strong, nothing should be able to harm him... I wonder how the internal energy is calculated.
When Duan Yu take energy from others, do others lose the energy permanently? If they lost it permanelty, that means that the 3 of those evil people got much much weaker??
Let say when Duan Yu absorb energy from subject A. Subject A lose 5 energy. Will Duan Yu keep get to store all 5 energy or mayble 80% ( 4 energy ) of it?
did it actually say one half? or are u just guessing?
At this stage of the novel, it has been mentioned that DY's internal energy has seldom been surpassed in wulin --> meaning that his internal energy is very high.
BMSG's converts others internal energy into one's own permanently.
This stroke came very quickly. Ah Bi was shocked, and hurriedly slanted her body to avoid it. Crack! A chair behind her was split into two by this gush of internal energy. Jiumozhi followed that strike with another from his right palm. Ah Bi fell down on the floor and hurriedly rolled away. Although her movements were quick, she was already in a very precarious situation. Jiumozhi let out a fierce roar, and shot out his third sabre attack.
Ah Bi was so terrified that her face turned pale. She had no idea what to do against this invisible internal energy attack. Ah Zhu didn’t have any time to think. She shot out her palms and attacked Jiumozhi’s back. When she was earlier moving about and speaking, she had the mannerisms of a seventy or eighty year old lady. But now, when she attacked, she displayed strong, vigorous, and quick movements.
In a single glance, Jiumozhi understood everything. With a laugh, he said, “So there are sixteen or seventeen year old grannies in the world? How long, exactly, did you intend to deceive this monk?” He struck a palm backwards and with a cracking sound, shattered the wooden staff in her hands into three pieces. Following this, he once more chopped towards Ah Bi. In her terror, Ah Bi grabbed a table and used it as a shield. With two clattering sounds, the red sandalwood table instantly disintegrated, leaving only a pair of table legs in her hands.
Seeing Ah Bi forced to the wall, without any place to flee and Jiumozhi striking with yet another palm, Duan Yu no longer cared about whether or not he could defeat Jiumozhi; his only intention was to save her life. He struck out with his middle finger, and his internal energy surged forth from his ‘Zhongchong’ acupoint with a ‘chi-chi’ sneering sound. It was the ‘Zhongchong Sword’ technique. Jiumozhi didn’t really want to kill Ah Bi; he just wanted to force Duan Yu’s hand. Otherwise, how could Ah Bi manage to dodge the wondrous, brilliant stances of the ‘Blazing Sabre’ technique for so long? Seeing Duan Yu strike out at him, he immediately sent out a hacking palm towards Ah Zhu. A powerful gust of wind roared towards her, sending her staggering back. The shoulder of her dress was mangled by his internal energy. She let out an ‘Ah!’, crying in startlement. Duan Yu followed his first attack with a ‘Shaoze Sword’ attack from his left hand, blocking Jiumozhi’s attack on Ah Zhu with the ‘Blazing Sabre’ technique.
In the blink of an eye, Ah Bi and Ah Zhu both escaped a very dangerous situation, as Duan Yu used his ‘Divine Sword of the Six Meridians’ to totally block both of Jiumozhi’s sabre strikes. Jiumozhi, wanting both to show off his own ability as well as to prove that Duan Yu really knew the ‘Divine Sword of the Six Meridians’, intentionally let Duan Yu’s internal energy block his own. Having drained the internal energy of so many elite martial artists, at this point in time, Duan Yu’s internal energy was actually more powerful than that of Jiumozhi. Unfortunately, he didn’t know any martial arts at all, and wasn’t able to execute any of the sword techniques which he had memorized at the Heavenly Dragon Monastery. Jiumozhi tricked his powerful internal energy into being dispersed east and west, to the point where the doors and the windows were filled with holes. All the while, Jiumozhi was saying, “The ‘Divine Sword of the Six Meridians’ really is very formidable! No wonder Mr. Murong admired it so much in the past.”
Cui Baiquan was extremely startled. “I always believed that prince Duan has no skill in martial arts. Who would have imagined that he possesses such a refined, exquisite technique? The Duan family of Dali really lives up to its fame. Fortunately, I did not do a single bad thing during my time at the South-Subduing Palace. Otherwise, how could this old life of mine remained for so long?” The more he thought, the more nervous he grew, until his forehead and his clothes were soaked with sweat.
Jiumozhi fought with Duan Yu for a while. With each stroke, he was capable of taking Duan Yu’s life. However, he wanted to play around with Duan Yu for a bit. But towards the end, he felt less and less contempt towards Duan Yu. He felt that Duan Yu’s internal energy was exceedingly strong and vigorous, and definitely not below his own at all. But for some reason, once the energy was actually used by Duan Yu, the end result was not that impressive at all. It was akin to a three year old kid from an exceedingly rich family who owned tens of thousands of strings of cash, but was unable to use it properly. After throwing out a few more strokes, Jiumozhi’s heart was suddenly shaken. “What if in the future, he grows intelligent, suddenly learning how to properly use his abilities as well as the fundamentals of martial arts? With his level of internal energy and this sword technique, what an extremely fearful opponent he would be!”
Duan Yu had long known that his continued existence lay solely under the control of Jiumozhi. He shouted, “Sister Ah Zhu and Ah Bi, hurry up and run away! If you take any longer, you won’t have a chance to escape!” Ah Zhu asked, “Young master Duan, why are you rescuing us?” Duan Yu replied, “This monk relies on his high level of martial arts to bully and oppress others. Unfortunately, I don’t know any martial arts at all. It is difficult for me to fight him off. Hurry up and run away!”
Jiumozhi laughed. “Far too late for that.” Taking a step forwards, he struck out with the fingers of both hands, pointing towards Duan Yu’s acupoints. Duan Yu let out a cry. “Aiyo!” He tried to avoid the attack, but how could he? Once more, three of his vital acupoints were sealed, and his limbs immediately felt numb and heavy. Falling on the floor, he shouted loudly, “Ah Zhu, Ah Bi, hurry up and leave!”
Jiumozhi laughed, “You are at the brink of death and unable to protect yourself. You still have the desire to enjoy perfume and cherish jade?” He returned to his original seat and said to Ah Zhu, “Young miss, there’s no need for you to continue play-acting and fooling around. Who, exactly, is in charge of the manor’s matter? Young master Duan fully memorized the entirety of the ‘Divine Sword of the Six Meridians’, but does not know martial arts and thus finds it difficult to actually use it. Tomorrow, I will take him to Mr. Murong’s mausoleum and burn him in sacrifice. In the underworld, Mr. Murong will understand that his old friend did not renege upon their earlier agreement.”
Ah Zhu knew that no one currently at the Pavilion of Zither Melodies was a match for this monk. Wrinkling her forehead, she laughed. “Fine! Master monk, we’ll believe your words. The old master’s mausoleum is a day’s journey away by water. Tonight, it is too late to leave. Tomorrow morning, the two of us will personally escort you and young master Duan to pay your respects at the tomb. The four of you, please wait just a short moment. Dinner will be served soon.” After she spoke, she grabbed Ah Bi by the wrist and retreated into the inner pavilion.
After an hour passed, a male servant came out and said, “Miss Ah Zhu would like to invite the four of you to the ‘Dwelling for Listening to the Rain’ for supper.” Jiumozhi said, “Many thanks!” Stretching out his hand, he seized Duan Yu’s arm and followed the man in. They winded their way through hundreds of feet of paved cobblestone alleys and a few stone parks before arriving by the waterside. Beneath the willow trees lay a small boat. The male servant pointed to a cabin with windows on all four sides that was situated in the middle of the water. “It is right there.” Jiumozhi, Duan Yu, Cui Baiquan, and Guo Yanzhi stepped onto the boat, and the male servant rowed them there. They arrived after a brief period of time.
Duan Yu walked up the wooden oak stairs of and entered the ‘Dwelling for Listening to the Rain’. He saw Ah Bi waiting to attend to the guests, wearing light green clothing. By her side stood a young maiden who wore a light red yarncloth garment. She was also around sixteen or seventeen years of age, and she aimed an expression that seemed like a smile yet wasn’t quite towards Duan Yu. Her face was full of mischieviousness and cleverness. Ah Bi had a ‘melon seed’ face and was elegant and beautiful. This maiden had a ‘goose egg’ face. Her eyes were lively and intelligent, and she displayed a different type of stirring aura.
As soon as he entered the room, Duan Yu once again smelled that faint fragrance. Laughing, he said, “Sister Ah Zhu, you are such a beautiful woman. It must have been tough for to so convincingly portray an old lady.” That maiden was indeed Ah Zhu. She batted him a glance, then laughed, “You kowtowed to me three times and aren’t content in your heart. Am I right?” Duan Yu shook his head repeatedly. “There was a lot of reason for me to kowtow three times to you. Only, my guesses were a bit off.” Ah Zhu asked, “What did you guess wrong?” Duan Yu replied, “I guessed from the beginning that you were just like Ah Bi, that both of you were beauties the likes of which are rarely seen in the world. But in my heart, I imagined that you must have been about on par with Ah Bi. I didn’t imagine that upon actually seeing you…well…well…” Ah Zhu interjected, “You found that I was far inferior to Ah Bi?” Ah Bi said at the same time, “You were greatly startled, because she is ten times more beautiful than me, right?”
Duan Yu shook his head. “Neither. I just felt that the heavens are really capable and are truly worthy of mankind’s admiration. After wracking their brains and creating such a beautiful girl as sister Ah Bi, they should have totally exhausted all of their ability to portray the spirit and beauty of Jiangnan. Who would have imagined that they would be able to create a sister Ah Zhu as well? The two of you look totally different, yet each of you possess you own unique beauty. It makes me want to say a few things in praise, but I couldn’t manage to say a single word at all.”
Ah Zhu laughed. “Bah! You glibly just said a lot of things in praising us, and still want to claim that you couldn’t manage to say a single word?”
Ah Bi smiled slightly, then turned her head and spoke to Jiumozhi and the rest. “I’m afraid that we don’t have the resources to properly welcome you four esteemed personages. I’ll have to ask that you just make do with our watery wine and do your best to enjoy some of our local Jiangnan dishes.” She immediately invited the four of them to be seated, with her and Ah Bi taking seats to the right.
Duan Yu saw that the ‘Dwelling for Listening to the Rain’ was surrounded by water on all four sides. Glancing out the window, he saw mist covering the waters of the lake. Turning back to the table, he saw that all of the dishes on the table were made of exquisite porcelain. In his heart, he couldn’t help but exclaim in praise.
Shortly afterwards, the male servants brought some dishes made from fruits and vegetables. Four vegetarian dishes were especially prepared for Jiumozhi. Next came a number of cooked dishes; white water chestnuts with shrimp meat, lotus leaf and winter bamboo shoot soup, cherry ham, dragon well vegetable leaves with chicken, and the like. Every dish was extremely unique. In the middle of the fish, shrimp, and meat were intermixed flower petals and fresh fruit. The dishes were extremely beautiful, and gave off a natural, pure fragrance. Duan Yu tried a few chopsticks of every single dish. All of them were wonderful and tasty. He praised, “Only such a wonderful landscape as this place can produce such talented people. In turn, only such talented people can be so intelligent and wise as to produce such elegant dishes.”
Ah Zhu said, “Guess if I cooked the dishes, or if Ah Bi cooked the dishes?” Duan Yu replied, “The cherry ham and the plum blossom duck are fragrant, tender, and rosy. I think you made them. The lotus leaf and winter bamboo shoot soup and the round jade fish slices are verdant and cleanly chopped. Naturally, they were made by sister Ah Bi.”
Ah Zhu clapped her hands and laughed. “Your guessing abilities are really good! Ah Bi, what should we reward him with?” Ah Bi smiled. “If young master Duan has any instructions for us to carry out, we would naturally do so to the best of our abilities. What’s all this talk about giving him ‘rewards’ and ‘awards’? We’re just servant girls. We aren’t worthy of such.” Ah Zhu replied, “Hah, as soon as you open your mouth you flatter others. No wonder every says you’re good and I’m bad.” Duan Yu laughed, “Gentle and refined, lively and clever. The two are equally good. Sister Ah Bi, earlier, when I heard you playing songs on the soft whip, I felt relaxed and carefree. I’d like to ask you to play some melodies on actual instruments. If you do so, even if I am turned into ash tomorrow by this great monk, my time on this earth won’t have been spent in vain.
Ah Bi slowly rose to her feet. “As long as you don’t find it unpleasant to hear, I am willing to embarrass myself to give some joy to our guests.” As she spoke, she went behind a screen, then came out with a precious jade zither. Ah Bi sat up straight on a brocade seat and placed the jade zither in front of her. She waved towards Duan Yu and laughed, “Young master Duan, why don’t you come over and see if you can identify what type of zither this is.”
Walking to her, Duan Yu saw that her zither was a foot shorter than ordinary seven-stringed zithers. In addition, it had nine strings, each of which had a different color. He muttered to himself, “This is the first time I’ve seen this nine-stringed zither.” Ah Zhu walked towards them and plucked a single string on the zither. The sound was very loud and clear. The string was made out of metal. Duan Yu said, “Sister, this zither is…”
Just as he spoke these four words, the floor suddenly disappeared underneath him. His body fell straight down. He couldn’t help but let out a loud cry of alarm. Next, he felt as though he landed on a soft location. At the same time, he seemed to hear someone else say ‘Aiyo!’ and ‘Not good!’, followed by two splashing sounds. His body suddenly swayed, as the thing he was resting on began to move. This strange event happened very quickly and was totally unexpected. Startled and frightened, he hurriedly sat up. He saw that he was sitting in the middle of a small boat, with Ah Bi and Ah Zhu each sitting on one end of the boat. Each of them had an oar and were hurriedly paddling. Turning around, he saw that Jiumozhi, Cui Baiquan, and Guo Yanzhi’s heads had just popped above the surface of the water. After but a short period of rowing by Ah Bi and Ah Zhu, the small boat was far away from the ‘Dwelling for Listening to the Rain’.
Suddenly, a drenched person shot up from the surface of the lake. It was Jiumozhi. He landed on the side of the ‘Dwelling for Listening to the Rain’. He easily snapped off part of a wooden pillar, aimed it at Ah Bi, then urgently cast it towards her. The makeshift missile made a whirring sound as it tore through the air with great force. Ah Bi cried out, “Young master Duan, duck!” Duan Yu and the two girls ducked at the same time, as half of a wooden pillar flew right over their heads. The powerful wind made by its passing actually hurt their neck.
Flexing her body, Ah Zhu turned the boat slightly sideways. Suddenly, a series of loud splashing sounds could be heard, and the small boat suddenly lifted up in the air before immediately falling down again. A large amount of lake water entered the boat and all three of them became wet. Turning his head, Duan Yu saw that Jiumozhi had already wrecked the wooden portion of the ‘Dwelling for Listening to the Rain’, and was repeatedly tossing stone vessels, incense burners, and other objects towards them. Watching the trajectories of the missiles, Ah Bi turned the boat to avoid them. Meanwhile, Ah Zhu kept on paddling forward with all her might. With each stroke of the oar, the boat travelled several feet further away from the ‘Dwelling for Listening to the Rain’. Jiumozhi continued to lob missiles at them, but the distance between the boat and where they landed grew greater and greater. Even if his strength was greater, he couldn’t compete with the ceaseless tugging of the oars by the two maidens. Turning his head again, Duan Yu saw that Cui Baiquan and Guo Yanzhi had managed to scramble onto the steps of the ‘Dwelling for Listening to the Rain’. He felt delighted, but upon seeing Jiumozhi leap into a small boat, let out a cry of alarm.
Ah Zhu cried out, “That evil monk is following us!” She exerted all her might to paddle as fast she could, but after turning her head to take another glance, burst into loud laughter. Duan Yu also turned his head and saw that Jiumozhi’s boat was just spinning in place. Evidently, although Jiumozhi possessed a very high level of martial arts, he didn’t know how to row a boat.
The three of them immediately felt relieved. But after a short period of time, they saw that Jiumozhi had managed to stabilize the boat and was now hurriedly paddling after them. Ah Bi sighed, “This great master is really intelligent. Anything he doesn’t know, he learns in a flash.” Ah Zhu replied, “Let’s play hide and seek with him.” Tugging on her oar, she brought the boat into the middle of a dense forest of water chestnuts. The great lake had hundreds of harbors and thousands of waterways. After making several turns, their boat entered a small river. They thought to themselves that it was very unlikely that Jiumozhi would be able to locate them.
Duan Yu said, “Unfortunately, my acupoints are sealed, and I can’t help you two row.” Ah Bi comforted him, “Young master Duan, don’t be worried. The monk won’t be able to chase after us, yeah.”
Duan Yu said, “The secret mechanism in the ‘Dwelling for Listening to the Rain’ is really interesting. This boat was precisely placed underneath the location where you play the zither, right?” Ah Bi smiled. “Right. That’s why I invited you to come check out the zither. Sister Ah Zhu’s plucking of the zither was the sign for the male servants outside to remove the planks underneath us and have everyone go plop, plop, plop!” The three of them laughed loudly in unison. Ah Bi hurriedly covered her mouth and said with a smile, “Don’t let that monk hear us.”
From far away, a voice could be heard. “Miss Ah Zhu, Miss Ah Bi, please row the boat back. Please hurry back, I am a friend of your master and definitely will not give you a hard time.” It was Jiumozhi’s voice. His voice was gentle and amiable, capable of causing people to naturally obey his instructions.
Ah Zhu was startled. “The great master asked for us to come back and says he definitely won’t hurt us.” As she spoke, she stopped paddling, as though she was seriously considering it. Ah Bi chimed in, “If that’s the case, let’s go back!” Duan Yu’s internal energy was very strong, and so wasn’t bewildered in the slightest by Jiumozhi’s voice. He hurriedly said, “He’s lying. How can you trust his words?” Jiumozhi’s pleasant, amiable words entered their ears. “Young misses, your master has returned. He says he wants to see both of you, and that you are to return immediately. Yes, return immediately.” Ah Zhu was compelled to agree. “Yes!” Lifting up the oar, she turned the boat around.
Duan Yu thought to himself, “If young master Murong had really returned, he himself would call out to Ah Zhu and Ah Bi. Why would he rely on Jiumozhi? This is no doubt an evil technique meant to delude the minds of others.” Having come to this conclusion, he reached down and grabbed a few water chestnut leaves, rolled them together, then stuck them into Ah Bi and Ah Zhu’s ears.
Her wits returned to her, Ah Zhu involuntarily cried out, “Ack! Close one!” Ah Bi was also frightened. “This monk knows some sort of soul-affecting technique. We almost fell for his trick.” Turning the boat around, Ah Zhu hurriedly began paddling again. She cried out, “Ah Bi, paddle as fast as you can!”
The two of them paddled the boat directly into the middle of the water chestnut fields. After a long time, Jiumozhi’s voice grew faint and indistinct, until finally he could no longer be heard. Duan Yu gestured to the two of them, signaling that they could now remove the leaves from their ears.
Patting her chest, Ah Bi let out a long sigh. “Whew, that was real scary-like, yeah! Sister Ah Zhu, whaddya think we should do?” Ah Zhu said, “Let’s just paddle around in circles and waste the monk’s time. If we get hungry, we can pluck water chestnuts and lotus roots to eat. Even if we face off against him for ten days or half a month, we wouldn’t be in the slightest danger.” Ah Bi smiled. “What an interesting idea. Young master Duan, would you be too bored though?” Duan Yu clapped his hands and laughed. “There’s no shortage of sights to see on this lake. With the two of you accompanying me in touring this place for ten days, I would be happier than a celestial being.” Ah Bi’s smooth lips gently smiled. “We’re heading towards the southeast right now. There’s a lot of tributaries to this river. Aside from local fisherman, nobody can easily remember the routes. After we enter Lake Baiqu [Baiqu means ‘Hundred Melodies’], the monk will definitely become unable to catch up to us.” Duan Yu lay down on the boat, gazing upon the many glittering stars in the sky. Aside from the rustle of the oars and the boat brushing against the water caltrops, there was no sound at all. There was a gentle breeze on the lake, which carried with it a faint aroma. He thought to himself, “Even if I lived the rest of my life like this, I wouldn’t mind.” Then he thought to himself, “With Ah Zhu and Ah Bi being such nice people, young master Murong can’t be some sort of horrible villain either. I wonder if he really was the one to kill master Xuanbei of Shaolin and Mr. Huo’s martial brother. Alas, although my family has a lot of servant girls, none of them can match sister Ah Zhu or sister Ah Bi.”
After a long time, just as he was about to close his eyes and fall asleep, he suddenly hear Ah Bi let out a quiet laugh and say in a low voice, “Sister Ah Zhu, come over here.” Ah Zhu also spoke in a low voice, “Whaddya want?” Ah Bi said, “Come over here, I have somethin’ to say.” Ah Zhu lowered the oar and walked to the stern of the boat. Ah Bi pulled her over by the shoulder and quietly laughed into her ear, “Help me think of something so I aint gonna be shamin’ mahself.” Ah Zhu laughed, “Whassa matter?” Ah Bi said, “Quiet, quiet. Is young master Duan a’sleepin’ yet?” Ah Zhu replied, “Dunno, jus’ go’n’ask’m.” Ah Bi said, “Can’t, can’t. Ah Zhu, Ah Zhu, I…I…I need to relieve myself.”
Their voices were as soft as the buzzing of mosquitoes, but Duan Yu’s internal energy was extremely profound. Naturally, he heard every word clearly. Upon hearing Ah Bi say these words, he didn’t dare move in the slightest. He pretended to let out light snores and be asleep, so as to prevent Ah Bi from being embarrassed.
Ah Zhu laughed quietly. “Young master Duan is a’sleepin’. Just go ahead and relieve yourself.” Ah Bi bashfully said, “Aint gonna try. What if I’m half-way through and young master Duan suddenly wakes up? It’d be unthinkable!” Ah Zhu couldn’t help but let out a peal of laughter. She hurriedly covered her mouth, then said in a low voice, “Whaddya mean, it’d be unthinkable? Everyone needs to relieve themselves from time to time. Nuthin’ weird about it.” Ah Bi shook her body, then said in a pleading voice, “Please, sister Ah Zhu, help me think of an idea.” Ah Zhu replied, “I’ll stand in front of you. You go ahead and relieve yourself. Even if young master Duan wakes up, he won’t be able to see nuthin’, yeah?” Ah Bi replied, “But there would be noise! I can’t have him hear either. I…I…” Ah Zhu laughed. “Yer sis is outta ideas. I guess you can just relieve yourself on yourself. He won’t smell anything.” Ah Bi said, “I can’t! When someone’s in front of me, I can’t go.” Ah Zhu said, “There’s no place to go. Just go ahead and do it.” Ah Bi was so anxious she began to cry. “I can’t, I just can’t!”
Ah Zhu suddenly let out another peal of laughter. “It’s all your fault. If you hadn’t said anything, I would’ve been fine. But now I need to go too! From here to Madame Wang’s residence lies only a half-nine away. Let’s paddle there and relieve ourselves.” Ah Bi said, “Madame Wang forbid us from entering. If she catches us, she’ll slap us upside the head a few times.” Ah Zhu said, “Aint no need to worry. Madame Wang and our old mistress cursed at and insulted each other, but our old mistress has already passed away, yeah. We’re just a pair of servant girls. How could we have offended her, and why would she slap us upside the head, yeah? Let’s just quietly sneak on land and relieve ourselves, then immediately leave. How would she ever know we were there?” Ah Bi replied, “That be so.” After mumbling to herself a moment, she said, “Then we need ta have young master Duan go ashore and relieve himself first. Otherwise…otherwise, if we just rush ashore, it’d be real awkward-like, yeah?”
Ah Zhu let out a soft laugh. “You really know how to take care of people. Careful, if the young master finds out, he’ll be jealous.” Ah Bi sighed. “How could the young master take this sorta small matter to heart, yeah? We’re just a pair of little servant girls. The young master has never taken us to heart.” Ah Zhu said, “And I don’t want you takin’m to heart, yeah? Sister Ah Bi, stop daydreaming about him day and night. Aint no use.” Ah Bi let out a quiet sigh and did not reply. Ah Zhu clapped her on the shoulder, then said in a low voice, “You are thinking of relieving yourself, but also thinking about the young master. The two thoughts are getting mixed together, yeah? Aint that a laugh!” Ah Bi let out a soft laugh. “Sis, you’re gossiping. Don’t you have something to do?”
Ah Zhu returned to the front of the boat and began paddling again. After they paddled for some time, the sky began to brighten.
Duan Yu’s internal energy was very vigorous, and his internal energy could not remain sealed forever. Previously, Jiumozhi would reseal his acupoints after every few hours had passed. Now, after so much time had passed, he gradually felt his internal energy circulation begin to smooth out as the sealed acupoints began to unlock. Letting out a lazy yawn, he sat up and said, “I took a long nap, while you two were working so hard. There’s something I need to say which is a bit inappropriate. Please don’t be offended. I, uh, I need to relieve myself.” He thought that it would be best for he himself to broach the topic first, so as to allow the girls to not feel awkward.
Ah Zhu and Ah Bi simultaneously let out a burst of laughter. Ah Zhu said, “Not too far away is the abode of a relative of ours, the Wang family. Just go ashore there to relieve yourself.” Duan Yu said, “If that’s the case, wonderful.” Ah Zhu immediately adopted a stern expression. “But Madame Wang has a very strange temperament. She doesn’t allow strange men to visit. As soon as you take care of business, immediately return to the boat. We don’t want to cause any unnecessary trouble.” Duan Yu replied, “Alright, understood.”
thanx ren! i guess we'll be adding to duan yu's collection of girls soon in the next chapter.
Chapter 12: Forevermore Intoxicated
The small boat weaved its way past a copse of weeping willows. Far in the distant, a reflection of crimson blossoming flowers could be seen in the water, as glorious as rosy clouds in the sky. Duan Yu let out an exclamatory ‘Ah!’ of appreciation.
Ah Zhu asked, “What’s wrong?” Pointing to the blossoming flowers, Duan Yu said, “These are the camellia flowers native to Dali. How is it that this type of ‘Dian tea-leaves’ exist in the middle of Lake Taihu as well?” Camellia flowers of Yunnan province were the most famous of all, and were known as ‘Dian tea-leaves’ [Dian is another name for Yunnan]. Ah Zhu asked, “Really? This place is known as the Highland Manor of the Mantuo Flowers. It’s filled with camellia leaves.” Duan Yu thought to himself, “Camellia flowers are also known as ‘jade leaves’, but a third name for them is ‘mantuo flowers’. Since this place is named after camellia flowers, it should be interesting for me to see what famous techniques they use to cultivate them here.”
Rowing the oars, Ah Zhu sent the boat speeding directly towards the midst of the camellia flowers. As soon as they reached the shore, Duan Yu cast a glance at the land, but all he could see was red and white camellia flowers, with no buildings anywhere in sight. Duan Yu was raised in Dali, where camellia flowers were commonly seen everywhere. He didn’t think the sight was particularly extraordinary at all, and thought to himself, “Although there are a lot of camellia flowers here, none of them appear to be of a high quality. I imagine that the best specimens are probably within the manor itself.
Ah Zhu pulled the boat ashore and smiled. “Young gentleman Duan, we’ll go inside for a bit. We’ll come back out very shortly.” Holding Ah Bi’s hand, she prepared to jump ashore. But suddenly, the scattered sounds of footsteps could be heard, and a servant girl dressed in green appeared.
The girl was holding a bunch of flowers and plants in her hands. Upon seeing Ah Bi and Ah Zhu, she hurriedly rushed towards them, her face filled with happiness. “Ah Zhu, Ah Bi, you two are really too daring! You snuck over here again! The madame said, ‘Use a knife to cut a cross on the faces of those two girls and ruin their flower-like, pure-as-jade complexions.’” Ah Zhu laughed. “Sister Youcao, is the madame at home?” [The exact phrase Ah Zhu uses is not ‘madame’, but ‘maternal uncle’s wife’, which is her relationship to Murong Fu.] The servant girl, Youcao, cast a few glances at Duan Yu, turned her head towards Ah Zhu and Ah Bi, then laughed, “The madame also said, ‘Those two brats also brought a strange man to the Highland Manor of the Camellias. Go and chop off that man’s legs immediately!” Before she finished the sentence, she began to laugh out loud.
Patting her heart, Ah Bi said, “Sister Youcao, don’t scare us! Is that really true?”
Ah Zhu laughed, “Ah Bi, don’t be scared. If the madame was really at home, how would this girl have the courage to be so impish and mischievious? Little sister Youcao, where did the madame go?” Youcao laughed, “Pooh! How old are you? Are you fit to be my big sister? Clever little demon that you are, you actually managed to guess that the madame isn’t at home.” She let out a light sigh. “Sister Ah Zhu and Ah Bi, it’s such a rare occasion that you two can come visit. I really want to keep you two here for a few days, but…” As she spoke, she shook her head. Ah Bi said, “I really want to spend some extra time with you too! Sister Youcao, whenever you are able to come pay a visit to us, I’ll accompany you three days and three nights without even getting sleepy, alright?” As they spoke, Ah Zhu and Ah Bi went ashore. Ah Bi whispered quietly into Youcao’s ears. Youcao let out a sudden laugh, then glanced at Duan Yu. Ah Bi immediately blushed scarlet. Pulling Ah Zhu with one hand and Ah Bi with the other, she laughed, “Let’s go inside.” Ah Bi turned her head and said, “Young gentleman Duan, please wait and rest here for a bit. We’ll be back soon.”
Duan Yu replied, “Okay!” He watched as the three girls happily walked hand-in-hand into the forest of flowers.
He too walked ashore. After first checking to make sure no one was about, he relieved himself by the side of a tall tree. He sat next to the boat for a while, slowly growing bored. He thought to himself, “Why don’t I go check out what types of extraordinary camellia flowers they have here?” He began to stroll around and view the sights. Aside from camellia flowers, there were no other flowers or plants here, not even the most commonly seen plants such as the morning-glory, climbing roses, or red roses. But all of the camellia flowers were very mundane and not the least bit extraordinary. The only thing extraordinary was their quantity. After walking for one or two hundred meters, the diversity of the camellias improved, and occasionally there were some high-quality ones, but even those were not planted properly. He thought to himself, “This manor is named after camellia flowers, but they have absolutely ruined these perfectly fine camellias.”
Then, he thought to himself, “I need to go back. If Ah Zhu and Ah Bi can’t find me upon returning, they’d be really worried.” Turning around, he headed back, but after taking a few steps, he exclaimed to himself, “How terrible!” During his journey through the sea of flowers, he had only paid attention to the scenery, and not to the path he had taken. Two small roads forked away from each other, one headed east, the other headed west. He didn’t know which one was the road he had originally taken. It would be a bit difficult for him to retrace his steps and return to the place where the boat was anchored. He thought to himself, “Let me go to the water’s edge first.”
But the farther he walked, the more he felt he was going in the wrong direction. All of the camellias he saw were new ones that he hadn’t seen previously. Just as he was starting to get worried, he suddenly heard someone speaking from a forested area to his left. It was Ah Zhu’s voice. Duan Yu was overjoyed. He thought to himself, “I’ll wait here for them a while. After they’re done chatting, we’ll leave together.”
He heard Ah Zhu say, “The young master is in good health and has a healthy appetite. These past two months, he has been practicing the ‘Dog Beating Staff’ technique of the Beggar’s Clan. It seems he will soon spar with the members of the Beggar’s Clan.” Duan Yu thought to himself, “Ah Zhu is talking about the affairs of young master Murong. I shouldn’t eavesdrop on other people’s private affairs, and should walk a bit farther away. But I can’t go too far, or else I won’t know when they are done talking.”
Just at this moment, he heard the sound of a gentle sigh from a female voice.
Instantly, Duan Yu’s entire body involuntarily trembled. His heart began to beat frantically, and he thought to himself, “What an incredibly lovely sigh that was! How can there be such a beautiful sound in the world?” That voice gently asked, “Where is he headed this time?” After having heard her let out a sigh, Duan Yu’s mind was shaken. Now, hearing her say this sentence, he felt as though all the blood in his body was boiling. He felt a sour, bitter feeling in his heart, and an unspeakable degree of envy and jealousy. “She clearly is asking about young master Murong. She’s so concerned about him and cares so much about him. Young master Murong, how is it that you have been blessed with such incredibly good fortune?”
Ah Zhu said, “When the young master left, he said he was headed to Luoyang to meet with some masters of the Beggar’s Clan. Big Brother Deng went with him as well. Miss, set your heart at ease.”
The female slowly said, “The Beggar’s Clan possesses two divine skills: The ‘Dog Beating Staff’ technique, and the ‘Eighteen Dragon-Subduing Palms’ technique. These two are secret skills which are not taught to others. Even if we compile all of the information in your ‘Water Pavilion of Bestowal and Repayment’ and our ‘Jade Cavern Library’, we would only be able to piece together some fragmentary, incomplete staff techniques and palm techniques. We would have no information at all about how the internal energy is supposed to be generated. How, exactly, does your young master practice the technique?” [Note: The ‘library’ in ‘Jade Cavern Library’ comes from a character ‘huan’ that is typically used to refer to a library of fairies and immortal sages that contains many precious, rare, and often mystical books. The name is a very elegant one, but very difficult to reproduce while being both ‘fluid’ and ‘complete in meaning’, and I have translated it on the basis of the former.]
Ah Zhu said, “The young master said, ‘The internal energy component of the ‘Dog Beating Staff’ was invented by human beings. Why can’t I figure out how it works on my own? Since I possess the staff techniques, it shouldn’t be too hard for me to understand the internal energy component.’” Duan Yu said, “Young master Murong’s words make some sense. He probably is an extremely talented, extremely ambitious person.”
That female let out yet another soft sigh. “Even if he’s able to figure it out, it would take eight or ten years. How can it be accomplished in such a short time? Did you see the young master practicing the technique? Were there any sluggish, awkward-looking parts?” Ah Zhu replied, “The staff technique was executed extremely quickly by the young master. From the beginning to the end, he executed it smoothly and gracefully.” The female let out a cry. “That’s not good! He…he really executed the technique very quickly?” Ah Zhu said, “Yes, why? Is that wrong?” The female said, “Naturally, that’s wrong. Although I don’t know the internal energy component to the Dog Beating Staff, judging from the staff techniques themselves, there are several parts where the slower the techniques are executed, the better. There are some other parts which fluctuate between being slow and being fast; in the fast movements there is hidden slowness, and within the slow movements quickness is hidden. There’s no question about that. He…if he just focuses on executing the technique very quickly in fighting with the experts of the Beggar’s Clan, I fear…I fear…you two…can you think of a way to bring a message to him?”
Ah Zhu let out a groan. “We don’t know what route the young master is taking or where he is passing by. We don’t even know if he’s already met with the elders of the Beggar’s Clan. Before he left, the young master said that the Beggar’s Clan was wrongly accusing him of having murdered their Vice-Clan Leader, a man surnamed Ma. His purpose in going to Luoyang was to defend himself against these chargers, and not necessarily to fight against them. Otherwise, he and brother Deng, despite being heroes, would be unable to overcome the sheer advantage in numbers which the Beggar’s Clan possesses. I’m just worried that he wouldn’t be able to fully explain everything, and that the two sides will become estranged…” Ah Bi said, “Miss, is it really so improper for him to execute the Dog Beating Staff technique very quickly?” The female said, “Naturally, it is definitely improper. What else is there to say? He…why didn’t he come and visit me before leaving?” As she spoke, she lightly stamped her feet, seemingly very agitated and deeply concerned, but her voice remained tender, soft, and lovely to hear.
Duan Yu was extremely astonished. He thought to himself, “In Dali, everyone spoke of ‘Gusu’s Murong family’ with the utmost reverence and fear. But from the words of this girl, it sounds as though young master Murong needs her advice and her pointers on martial arts. Can it be that such a young girl possesses such an incredibly high level of ability?” Lost in thought, he suddenly bumped his head into a tree branch. He couldn’t help but let out a cry. He hurriedly shut his mouth, but it was too late. The female asked, “Who is it?”
Duan Yu knew that he was unable to hide, and so coughed and said from within the thicket, “I am Duan Yu. I was touring your respected manor’s camellias, and accidentally arrived here. Please forgive me.”
The female said in a low voice, “Ah Zhu, is it the gentleman who arrived with you two?” Ah Zhu hurriedly said, “It is. Miss, don’t mind him. We’ll leave immediately.” The female said, “Wait. I’m going to write him a letter and explain to him that if he really gets into a fight against the Beggar’s Clan, he must not use the Dog Beating Staff technique no matter what. He needs to use his own original skills. Even if he’s unable to ‘Use the opponent’s skills, and exercise them upon the opponent’, there’s no other option. Take the letter and think of a way to get it to him.” Ah Zhu hesitantly said, “This….well…the madame once gave orders…”
The female said, “What? You only obey the madame’s commands and ignore mine?” In her voice was the slightest hint of anger. Ah Zhu hurriedly said, “Miss, as long as you keep the madame from finding out, your humble servant will naturally follow your orders, especially seeing as how this is beneficial to our master.” The female said, “Come with me to the study room to prepare the letter.” Ah Zhu still seemed very hesitant, and only reluctantly said, “Alright.”
After hearing that first sigh, Duan Yu was becoming only more and more enthralled by this girl. Hearing that she was about to leave, he feared that he would never be able to meet her again. This would be something which he would regret all his life. Even if it were to mean risking being blamed as too forward and bold, he had to see this girl with his own eyes. Summoning up his courage, he said, “Sister Ah Bi, can you stay here with me for a bit?” As he spoke, he walked out from the thicket.
Upon hearing him walk towards them, the female let out a startled cry and hurriedly turned her back to him.
And so it begins....
Its just a sigh....
Thanks for the translation.
After leaving the thicket, Duan Yu saw a maiden who wore a pale, pinkish gray garment. Her face was turned towards the flowers, her form was slim and slender, with long hair hanging over her back and gently tied together with a silvery hairpin. Gazing at this maiden’s back, Duan Yu couldn’t help but feel as though she was enveloped by light mist and clouds, as though she really weren’t a person of the mortal world at all. He deeply bowed and said, “Duan Yu pays his respects to you, miss.”
The girl stamped on the ground with her left foot. “Ah Zhu, Ah Bi, this is all your fault. You know I do not associate with male strangers.” As she spoke, she walked forwards. After a few twists and turns, her form gradually disappeared within the dense growth of camellia flowers.
A small smile on her lips, Ah Bi said, “Young gentleman Duan, this young lady has a really bad temper. Let’s leave quickly.” Ah Zhu also softly laughed, “Thank you very much for rescuing us from this predicament. If you hadn’t, Ms. Wang would have forced us to deliver a message on her behalf. Our petty little lives would have been put at risk.”
Duan Yu had summoned all of his courage to rush out like that, but then was scolded by the girl. He felt deeply snubbed, and was worried that Ah Zhu and Ah Bi would blame him as well. He didn’t expect that the two of them would actually be grateful towards him instead. Only, although that maiden was by now far away, her pretty shadow still seemed to be before his eyes, filling his heart with melancholy. He dully watched as her back disappeared into the clusters of flowers.
Ah Bi gently tugged on his sleeves, but Duan Yu still remained in a daze. Ah Zhu laughed, “Young gentleman Duan, let’s go!” Duan Yu’s entire body jumped. Only after calming himself did he say, “Right, right. Are we really leaving?” Ah Zhu and Ah Bi walked in the front, leaving him with no option but to follow them. With each step he took, he looked back, filled with a reluctance to leave.
The three of them returned to their small boat. Ah Zhu and Ah Bi picked up their oars and rowed out. Duan Yu gazed at the camellias on the shore, thinking to himself, “If I, Duan Yu, am an unlucky man, how could I have had the great fortune to hear that girl’s sighs and her words, much less see her goddess-like form? But if I am a lucky man, why is it that I didn’t even have the chance to see her face?” As the camellias grew more and more distant, his heart became more and more downcast as well.
Suddenly, Ah Zhu let out a startled cry. “The madame…the madame has returned.” Turning his head, Duan Yu saw a fast ship flying towards them. In the blink of an eye, it drew near. On the front of the ship’s bow was painted an innumerable amount of multicolored flowers. When the boat drew nearer, it became evident that these, too, were camellia flowers. Ah Zhu and Ah Bi stood up, bowing their heads and staring at their feet, appearing to be extremely respectful. Ah Bi repeatedly gestured towards Duan Yu, telling him to stand up as well. Smiling, Duan Yu shook his head. “After the master comes out and speaks, I will naturally rise to my feet. A real man cannot be too humble and modest.”
A female voice shouted out from the fast ship, “What male has the audacity to charge into the Highland Manor of the Camellias? Can it be that he doesn’t know that any male who comes uninvited will have both his legs cut off?” The voice was very stately and majestic, but was also very clear, melodious, and pleasing to the ear. Duan Yu replied in a loud and clear voice, “I am Duan Yu. I temporarily took refuge in your honored abode, and had no intention of charging in. I sincerely thank you.” The woman said, “Your last name is Duan?”
In her voice was a hint of astonishment. Duan Yu replied, “Precisely so!”
The woman said, “Hmph! Ah Zhu, Ah Bi, so it’s you two brats. That boy, Murong Fu, refuses to learn how to act properly. Sneaking and sly, he specializes in doing bad things!” Ah Zhu replied, “Reporting to madame, this servant was pursued by enemies and passed by the Highland Manor of the Camellias. Our young master has left, and this matter truly has nothing to do with him at all.” The woman laughed coldly. “Hmph. Nothing more than sweet words and blandishments. Don’t be so hasty to leave. Come with me.” Ah Zhu and Ah Bi replied simultaneously, “Yes, madame.” They paddled their small boat towards the fast ship. Actually, they had not travelled too far from the manor, and in a short time both ships successively docked at the shore.
The sound of jewelry clinking against each other could be heard, and many females in green clothes exited the fast ship. All of them were dressed as servants, and each of them wielded a longsword in their hands. In the twinkling of an eye, their bared swords covered the ground like frost, light of their blades reflecting onto the flowers. Nine pairs of servants came out in total. The eighteen of them formed two lines, holding their swords at waist-level, pointed upwards. After they finished lining up, a woman left the ship.
Upon seeing this woman’s appearance, Duan Yu couldn’t help but let out an involuntarily cry of startlement. He was temporarily tongue-tied, feeling as though he had entered the dream world. This woman was dressed in light yellow. In her clothes and in her decorations, she seemed exceedingly similar to the jade statue within the cavern with Mt. Wuliang of Dali. Only, this female was a beautiful married woman who appeared to be not quite forty years of age, whereas the jade statue portrayed a girl of eighteen or nineteen. After his initial surprise, Duan Yu took another look at this beautiful woman. Compared to the jade statue, her eyebrows, lips, and nose were not as peerlessly gorgeous, and obviously there was an age difference as well. In addition, her face showed the marks of hardship suffered during her journey through life. Nonetheless, there was still a fifty or sixty percent resemblance. Seeing him stare at Madame Wang without blinking, Ah Zhu and Ah Bi felt that he was really being too impolite, and in their hearts both of them were groaning. They repeatedly gestured towards him, telling him not to stare, but Duan Yu’s eyes remained fixed on Madame Wang’s face.
The woman glanced at him, then coldly said, “This person is totally without courtesy. Later, chop off both his legs, gouge out his eyes, and rip out his tongue.” A servant bowed and said, “Yes!”
Duan Yu’s heart sunk. “If she really wants to kill me, fine. But to chop off my legs, gouge out my eyes, and tear out my tongue, putting me in a half-dead, half-living state, would be a really, really bad thing.” Only now did fear truly enter his heart. Turning around, he glanced at Ah Zhu and Ah Bi. Both of their faces had turned a deathly pale color and were transfixed with fear.
After Madame Wang left the cabin, two more servant girls followed her out, each holding a set of metal chains in their hands. They dragged two chained males from within the cabin. Both of the males were bound by their hands and appeared to be very dejected. One man had a delicate and pretty face, seeming like a scion of a wealthy family. The other person, Duan Yu recognized. He was a disciple of Mt. Wuliang’s Sword Sect named Tang Guangxiong. Duan Yu was amazed. “This person resides in Dali. How is it that he was captured by Madame Wang and brought to Jiangnan?”
Madame Wang said to Tang Guangxiong, “You are obviously from Dali. Why do you deny it?” Tang Guangxiong said, “I’m from Yunnan. My hometown is within the borders of the Great Song and is not part of Dali.” Madame Wang asked, “How far is your hometown from Dali?” Tang Guangxiong said, “Four hundred li or so.” Madame Wang said, “If you aren’t over five hundred li away, you might as well be considered a person of Dali. Bury him alive beneath our camellias as fertilizer.” Tang Guangxiong loudly shouted, “What on earth have I done? Tell me clearly, otherwise I will not be able to close my eyes even in death.” Madame Wang coldly laughed, “Anyone I meet who is from Dali or who has the surname Duan will be buried alive. Why did you come to Suzhou? After you did come to Suzhou, how dare you speak with a Dali accent and make a loud commotion at the upstairs of the tavern? Even though you aren’t from Dali yourself, you are a neighbor of Dali. I’ll treat you the same way I would treat them.”
Duan Yu said to himself, “Ah hah, you obviously are directing that to me. There’s no need for you to ask, I’ll just admit it point-blank.” He loudly shouted, “I am from Dali, and my surname is Duan. If you want to bury me, go ahead and be quick about it!” Madame Wang coldly said, “You already reported your name, saying that you are called Duan Yu. Hmph. No person from Dali who is of the Duan family will be allowed to die so easily.”
She waved her hand, and a slave girl pulled Tang Guangming away. Tang Guangming must have had his acupoints sealed or sustained severe injuries; he wasn’t able to resist in the slightest. He only shouted, “There’s no such rule in the world! There are millions of people within Dali, can you kill them all?” But as he was dragged deeper and deeper into the sea of flowers, his voice gradually grew faint, then disappeared.
Madame Wang inclined her head slightly and said to the delicate looking man, “What do you have to say yourself?” That man suddenly fell to both his knees, kneeling in front of her. “My father is an official in Beijing, and I am his only son. Madame, I beg you to spare my life. If you have any instructions, my father will definitely carry them out.” Madame Wang coldly said, “Your father is a powerful official within the imperial court. Do you think I don’t know that? There’s an easy way for you to be spared. This very day, go back to your home and immediately kill your official wife. Then, tomorrow, immediately marry your secret lover, Ms. Miao, and take her as your wife. The wedding ceremony needs to be complete and done properly; the six ceremonial rites must be conducted, and the three documents must be completed. Will you accept?” The man said, “This…I can’t really bear to kill my wife, and my father and mother would definitely not allow me to formally marry Ms. Miao. Isn’t this my…” Madame Wang said, “Take him away and bury him alive!” The servant holding his chain said, “Yes!” Tugging at the chain, she started to drag him away. The man was so frightened, his entire body quivered. “I…I agree, alright?” Madame Wang said, “Xiaocui, escort him to Suzhou. I want you to personally witness him killing his wife and marrying Ms. Miao returning.” Xiaocui replied, “Yes!” She dragged the man towards another small boat on the shore.
The man begged, “Madame, be merciful. My wife has no enmity with you, and you don’t know Ms. Miao. Why must you help her like this and force me to kill my wife? I…I’ve never been acquainted with you, much less…much less have dared to offend you.” Madame Wang said, “Since you already have a wife, you shouldn’t have entangled yourself with another maiden. Since you deceived the girl with your flower words and lies, then you definitely must take her as your wife. If I don’t hear about these types of things happening, then no matter. But if I do find out, then of course I will handle the situation. You aren’t the first one I’ve done this to. What do you have to grumble about? Xiaocui, how many times have we done this?” Xiaocui said, “I have done this seven times at places such as Changshou, Danyang, Wuxi, and Jiaxing. Xiaolan and Xiaoshi have also overseen a few of these events.”
Hearing that this was how she always handled this sort of affairs, that man could only moan and groan. Rowing the oars, Xiaocui propelled her boat off into the distance.
Seeing how this Madame Wang handled matters in totally irrational ways, Duan Yu was boggled, totally struck dumb. The only thing which filled his mind was four words. “This is absolutely preposterous.” Unconsciously, he blurted those words out. “This is absolutely preposterous. This is absolutely preposterous!” Madame Wang let out a humph. “There are even more absolutely preposterous things in the world. Many more!”
Duan Yu was both disappointed and miserable. That day, when he found the statue of his dear goddess within the jade cavern of Mt. Wuliang, his heart was filled with admiration. The person in front of him appeared similar to the jade statue, but in speech and demeanor acted as though she were a demoness or an evil spirit.
Lowering his head, he was lost in thought. Four servant girls left the cabin of the fast ship, each holding a vase of flowers. Duan Yu, upon seeing them, was startled. All four vases were filled with rare, famous, and extremely difficult to obtain breeds of camellia flowers. Dali possessed more and better camellia flowers than any other place in the world, and within the South-Subduing Palace alone were innumerable camellias. Duan Yu was long since used to seeing them. When bored, he would listen to the ten famous gardeners who served at the palace comment on and appraise the camellias. Naturally, he fully understood the differences between superb breeds of camellias and poor breeds. His understanding in this field was as deep as that of a farmer’s understanding of the differences between beans and wheat, or a fisherman’s understanding of the difference between fish and shrimp. After strolling about the Highland Manor of the Camellias for some time, he was unable to find a single truly outstanding breed of camellias, and had long since decided that the manor did not live up to its name. But at this moment, seeing those four vases, he inwardly said, “Now that is more like it.”
Madame Wang said, “Xiaocha, it was very difficult for us to obtain these four ‘Full Moon’ [Manyue] camellias. They need to be taken good care of.” The servant named Xiaocha said, “Yes!” Duan Yu felt that these words were too amateurish and let out a sneer. Madame Wang said, “Because the wind on the lake was too strong, we’ve kept these four flowers within the cabin for many days now. It’s been a while since they’ve gotten some sunlight. Quick, take them to a place where they can drink in some sunlight. Add some extra fertilizer as well.” Xiaocha repeated, “Yes!” Duan Yu could no longer hold in his mirth, and began to roar with laughter.
Madame Wang felt that his laughter was weird and asked, “What are you laughing at?” Duan Yu replied, “I laugh at the fact that you know nothing about camellias, but insist on planting them. For such an exquisite specimen to fall into your hands is truly a waste, like burning a zither for firewood or cooking a crane for meat. This really disheartens me! What a pity, what a waste. I feel so sorry for it.” Madame Wang angrily said, “I don’t know anything about camellias? So you do?” But suddenly, her heart stirred. “Wait,” she said to herself, “He’s from Dali and his surname is Duan. Maybe he really does understand camellias.” But her words were still stubborn. “The name of this manor is the ‘Highland Manor of the Camellias’. Camellias populate this place, inside and out. See how exuberant and brilliant they are! Why do you say that I don’t understand camellias?” Duan Yu smiled, “Commonplace flowers of low quality will naturally flourish. But the four vases of camellias you have there are are exquisite specimens. If amateurs like you are able to properly plant and take care of them, then my surname isn’t Duan!”
Madame Wang exceedingly loved camellia flowers. She didn’t care about the cost; wherever she went, she would purchase beautiful specimens to take home. But when the new camellias arrived, not a single one of the famous and rare specimens would thrive or flourish. Usually, within a year or so, they would wither and die or be at death’s gate. She was always vexed by this problem. Now, hearing Duan Yu’s words, her anger turned to joy. She took two steps forward and asked, “What is so special about these four vases of camellias? What must I do to make them flourish?” Duan Yu replied, “If you want to consult me, then you need to follow the proper etiquette for asking advice. If you want to threaten and compel me into answering, go ahead and chop off my legs first. You can always ask me afterwards.”
Madame Wang angrily said, “What’s so difficult about chopping your legs off? Xiaoshi, chop his left foot off first!” The servant girl named Xiaoshi replied in the affirmative, then advanced towards Duan Yu, sword in hand. Ah Bi hurriedly said, “Madame, don’t ya be doin’ that, yeah. If ya hurt this fella, he’s real stubborn-like and would rather die and speak.” Madame Wang only wanted to scare Duan Yu in the first place. With a wave of her hand, she beckoned Xiaoshi back.
Duan Yu laughed, “Go ahead and chop off my legs, then place them next to those four vases of white camellias. They really will serve as a superb fertilizer. These white flowers will grow bigger and bigger. Maybe they’ll flourish into a sea of camellias! Haha, beautiful, wonderful, brilliant!”
Madame Wang originally really was thinking of doing just that, but Duan Yu’s every word was filled with irony and sarcasm, rendering her speechless. After being stunned for a moment, she said, “What are you babbling about? What, exactly, is so special about these four vases of mine? Tell me. If you are correct, I’ll pay the proper respects to you then.”
Duan Yu replied, “For starters, Madame Wang, you made the mistake of calling these flowers ‘Full Moon’ camellias. If you don’t even recognize what the exact breed of flowers you have are, how can you be said to understand flowers? One of the flowers is named ‘Red Makeup, White Wrappings’. Another is called ‘Clawing a Beautiful Woman’s Face’.” Intrigued, Madame Wang asked, “’Clawing A Beautiful Woman’s Face?’ Is there really such a weird flower name? Which one is it?”
Duan Yu said, “If you want to ask for my advice, you need to follow proper etiquette.”
Duan Yu had mocked her mercilessly, without her being able to defend herself, but upon hearing that one of her four vases of flowers had such a unique name, Madame Wang was filled with delight. Smiling, she said, “Fine! Xiaoshi, order the cooks to prepare a banquet at the ‘Pavilion of Glorious Clouds’ in order to entertain young gentleman Duan.” After acknowledging the order, Xiaoshi left.
Ah Zhu and Ah Bi gazed at each other. Seeing that Duan Yu had not only escaped death, but was also now being treated as a guest by Madame Wang, both of them were overjoyed at the surprise.
The servant who had taken Tang Guangxiong returned and reported, “That person surnamed Tang from Dali has already been buried beneath a red camellia in front of the ‘Pavilion of Rosy Clouds’.” Duan Yu’s heart went cold. Madame Wang didn’t seem to care at all. She simply nodded, then said, “Young gentleman Duan, please come this way!” Duan Yu said, “I dared to disturb you; I am very blessed indeed that you, my host, are so forgiving.” Madame Wang said, “An able and worthy person has come, bringing great honor and glory to the flowers and ramparts of the Highland Manor of Camellias.” The two of them spoke courteously to each other as they walked, not revealing a shred of the life-and-death danger Duan Yu had been in just moments ago.
With Madame Wang accompanying Duan Yu, the two passed by a forest of flowers, a stone bridge, and a small alleyway before arriving in front of a small pavilion. Below the eaves of the pavilion, Duan Yu saw an inscribed wooden board with the words, “Pavilion of Glorious Clouds”, written in blackish-green ink in the seal-script style. Camellia flowers blossomed all around the pavilion. But in Dali, these camellia flowers were considered to be third or fourth class rubbish. Their appearance totally clashed with the refined-looking and elegantly constructed pavilion.
Madame Wang actually seemed to be very pleased with herself. “Young gentleman Duan, in your Dali there are many camellia flowers, but I’m afraid that compared to my place, there still aren’t quite as many.” Duan Yu nodded. “It’s true that we don’t plant this sort of camellia flowers in Dali.” Madame Wang chortled, “Really?” Duan Yu replied, “In Dali, even country bumpkins know that these camellias are not of very high quality, and too mundane to plant.” The color of Madame Wang’s face changed, and she angrily said, “What did you just say? You say that these flowers of mine are of poor quality? Aren’t these words of yours too…too infuriating and insulting?”
Duan Yu said, “Madame, if you don’t believe me, that’s your choice.” Pointing to a gorgeous, five-colored camellia in front of the pavilion, he said, “This flower, you no doubt treat as a precious treasure, right? Hm. Actually, the jade railing next to the camellia is made from actual Hotan jade. It’s very beautiful, very beautiful.” He was gushing with praise for the jade railing next to the camellia while not saying much about the flower itself; this was akin to a person, while viewing someone else’s calligraphy, praise how dark the ink was and how famous and rare the paper was.
This camellia was both red and white, both violet and yellow. The variety of colors it possessed were magnificent and resplendent. Madame Wang had always treated it as a treasure. Now, seeing Duan Yu showing such disdain for it, she immediately furrowed her eyebrows, emitting a murderous look from her eyes. Duan Yu said, “Madame, if I may ask, what is this flower known as here in Jiangnan?” Madame Wang vehemently said, “We don’t have any particularly special name for it. We just call it the ‘Five-Colored Cammelia’.” Duan Yu smiled. “But we in Dali have a name for it. We call it the ‘Failed Scholar’.”
Madame Wang spat. “Bah! Such an ugly name! You must have made that up. This flower is gorgeous to behold. Why would it be called a ‘Failed Scholar’?” Duan Yu said, “Madame, please take a look and count for yourself. How many colors do the blossoms of this camellia flower have?” Madame Wang said, “I counted them long ago. There’s at least fifteen or sixteen.” Duan Yu said, “There are exactly seventeen colors. In Dali, there is famous camellia flower called the ‘Eighteen Scholars’. It is one of one of the highest grade camellias in the world. Each plant has precisely eighteen flowers, and each flower is of a different color. The red flower is totally red; the violent flowers are totally purple. There’s not a single hint of intermingled color. In addition, the shape of each of the eighteen blossoms is different as well, with each possessing their own unique beauty. When they bloom, they bloom at the same time; when they wither, all eighteen flowers wither at the same time. Madame, have you seen it before?” Madame Wang had been listening, stunned. She shook her head. “Camellias like this actually exist? I’ve never even heard of it!”
Duan Yu said, “Compared to the ‘Eighteen Scholars’, there are some other famous flowers that are similar to it in quality. The ‘Thirteen Grand Protectors’ are camellia plants that have thirteen blossoms, each with a totally different color. The ‘Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea’ refers to camellia plants with eight different colored blossoms. The ‘Seven Celestial Maidens’ refers to camellia plants with seven different colored blossoms. The ‘Three Heroes of Hardship’ have three blossoms, and the ‘Two Qiao Sisters’ have two blossoms; one red, one white. For all of these camellia flowers, the color of each blossom must be pure. If there’s a hint of white within a red flower, or a blush of red in a white flower, it is considered a low-grade version.” Madame Wang couldn’t help but be carried away and raptured by his explanations. Lifting her head up, she quietly whispered to herself, “Why didn’t he ever tell me this?”
[Translator’s note: All of the above refer to famous historical or mythical personages in ancient China, each with many legends attached to them. The ‘Thirteen Grand Protectors’ refers to a group of thirteen legendary warriors during the Five Dynasties period who protected Li Cunxu, who proclaimed himself Emperor Zhuangzhong of the Later Tang dynasty. The ‘Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea’ is a very famous story in its own right. The ‘Seven Celestial Maidens’ are all daughters of the emperor of Heaven. The ‘Three Heroes of Hardship’ refers to Li Jing (who later became deified) and his two sworn brothers. The ‘Two Qiao Sisters’ refers to two lengendarily beautiful sisters of the Qiao family during the Three Kingdoms period. The younger sister married Zhou Yu; the older sister was married to Sun Ce, Sun Quan’s older brother.]
Duan Yu continued, “Within the ‘Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea’, there must be a deep violet flower and a light red flower. These two represent Iron-Crutched Li and Female Celestial He. If this isn’t the case, even if all eight flowers have different colors, they cannot be called the ‘Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea’. They would simply be called the ‘Eight Precious Adornments’. They are also considered to be famous flowers, but are a level inferior to the ‘Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea’.” Madame Wang said, “So that’s how it is.”
Duan Yu continued, “Now, let’s talk about the ‘Three Heroes of Hardship’. There’s differences between high quality and low quality versions of these flowers as well. In authentic versions, the violet flower must be the largest in size, symbolizing Qiu Ranke. The white flower is second, symbolizing Li Jing. The red flower is the most delicate and the smallest, as it represents lady Hong Fu. If the red flower is larger than the violet flower or the white flower, then the flower is considered to be of a low quality, and has a much lower status ranking.” Duan Yu spoke of these flowers as though he were enumerating his own family’s valuables, because these flowers were indeed treasures of the Duan family. Naturally, he was very familiar with them. Madame Wang listened to him talk with keen pleasure. She sighed, “I haven’t even seen low quality flowers, much less high quality ones.”
Duan Yu pointed towards the five-colored camellia. “This flower not only has one less color than the ‘Eighteen Scholars’, but the flowers are not pure in color. They bloom at different times, and are all of different sizes. In every aspect, it attempts to imitate the ‘Eighteen Scholars’, but is never able to match up. Isn’t that a sad, miserable thing? Thus, we call this flower a ‘Failed Scholar’.” Madame Wang couldn’t help but let out a breath, then laughed, “This flower’s name is really too acrimonious and unkind. Most likely, you scholars came up with it.”
By this point in time, Madame Wang had full faith of Duan Yu’s knowledge of camellia flowers. She immediately escorted him into the ‘Pavilion of Glorious Clouds’. Duan Yu saw that the furnishings upstairs were rich and beautiful, with a large painting of a peacock spreading its feathers in the middle of the room and two matching poetic lines carved in wood at each side of the painting. The lines read, “A dense cloud of leaves coats the land, even the snow is jealous of the camellia’s beauty.” Very shortly, the banquet began. Madame Wang invited Duan Yu to take the seat of honor, while she herself took a right-hand seat to keep him company.
The dishes prepared at the banquet were very different from the ones which Ah Zhu and Ah Bi had earlier prepared. The dishes Ah Zhu and Ah Bi prepared were very light and refined, showing great craftsmanship in simple dishes. But the banquet dishes at the ‘Pavilion of Glorious Clouds’ emphasized luxuriousness, with such rarities as bear paws and shark fins. Every dish was made from rare and precious ingredients. Duan Yu, being a scion of the royal family, had become accustomed to eating rare and precious dishes since birth. In his mind, the banquet here was actually inferior to the food the two girls prepared at the ‘Pavilion of Zither Melodies.’
After three rounds of drinks, Madame Wang asked, “The Duan family of Dali is a famous, aristocratic family of the martial world. Why is it that you do not study martial arts?” Duan Yu replied, “There are a large number of people in Dali who have the surname Duan. Only the royal descendants of the imperial family study martial arts. Commoners like me do not study martial arts.” Whether he would live or die was wholly under the control of this woman. Being in such a humiliating position, he had decided that no matter what he could not reveal his real identity, for fear of degrading the fame and prestige of his uncle and his father. Madame Wang said, “You are a commoner?” Duan Yu replied, “I am.” Madame Wang said, “Do you know any members of the royal Duan family?” Duan Yu replied, “None whatsoever.”
Madame Wang was lost in thought for some time, then changed the topic. “Earlier, you were speaking about the various merits and qualities of camellia flowers, causing me to suddenly see the light. The flower artisans of Suzhou from whom I acquired these four vases of flowers called these flowers ‘Full Moon’ flowers, but you said that one is named ‘Red Makeup, White Wrappings’, and that another is named ‘Clawing a Beautiful Woman’s Face’. I don’t know how they can be told apart, and would like to ask for your advice.”
Duan Yu replied, “The plant with the large white flowers with faint black spots is the one known as the ‘Full Moon’ flower. Those faint black spots are the cassia twigs which grow on the moon. That other plant with white flowers which has two olive-pit sized black spots on the petals is known as the ‘Beautiful Eyes’ flower.” Madame Wang happily said, “This is a very good name.”
Duan Yu continued, “The plant with white flowers that are sprinkled with red dots is known as ‘Red Makeup, White Wrappings’. Lastly, the plant with white flowers covered by a faint green sheen and thin, hair-like strips of red is known as ‘Clawing a Beautiful Woman’s Face’. However, if too many of those red lines appear, the flower is no longer known as ‘Clawing a Beautiful Woman’s Face’, but rather it is called ‘Resting On a Lovely Railing’. Madame, please consider this. A beautiful woman must be gentle, refined, and warm. If by chance a scratch occasionally appears on her face, it can’t be because she damaged herself while putting on makeup, nor can it be that she got into a fight with someone else. The only possible explanation is that while she was playing with her pet parrot, it scratched her. This is very normal and understandable. Thus, this flower must have a green sheen, which represents the green feathers of a parrot. But if her entire face is scratched and clawed, the only explanation is that this woman always gets into fights with others, in which case, how can she be considered to be beautiful?”
Up till now, Madame Wang was repeatedly nodding as he spoke, very pleased. Suddenly, her face sunk with anger as she shouted, “How dare you! Are you mocking me?”
Duan Yu was startled, then hurriedly said, “I wouldn’t dare! I don’t know how I offended you, madame.” Madame Wang angrily said, “Whose stories did you listen to, for you to come here and concoct these wild lies to insult me? Who says that a woman can no longer be considered beautiful after learning martial arts? What’s so good about being gentle, refined, prim and proper?” Duan Yu was startled. “My words were based upon the standard, accepted explanation for the naming of this flower. There are many women who know martial arts that are both beautiful and stately.” He didn’t expect that Madame Wang found these words grating to the ear as well, as she yelled, “So are you saying that I’m not stately?”
Duan Yu replied, “Whether or not you are stately, you yourself know best, madame. How would I dare comment wildly? But for you to demand that a man murder his wife and wed another woman is definitely not proper at all.” By now, he himself was getting angry as well, and no longer cared about what he was saying.
Madame Wang gestured with her hand, and the four girls who were serving them stepped forward in unison. Bowing, they said, “Yes, madame?” Madame Wang said, “Take this man into your custody and away from my sight. I command that he be given the task of watering my camellias!” The four servants said in unison, “Yes, madame!”
Madame Wang said, “Duan Yu, you are a person from Dali, and your family name is Duan. I should have killed you long ago. For the moment, I’ll postpone your execution, but I’ll punish you by giving you the task of taking care of all of the camellias in this manor. You need to take especial care with the four which we have brought home today. Let me be clear. If a single one of these four vases of camellia flowers dies, I will chop off one of your hands. If two die, I will chop off both. If all four die, I will turn you into a limbless cripple.” Duan Yu asked, “And if all four live?” Madame Wang said, “After all four flowers begin to flourish, your job will be to cultivate other famous camellias for me. ‘Eighteen Scholars’, ‘Thirteen Grand Protectors’, ‘Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea’, ‘Seven Celestial Maidens’, ‘Three Heroes of Hardship’, and the ‘Two Qiao Sisters’. I want several of each! If you can’t accomplish it, I’ll tear your eyeballs out.”
Duan Yu loudly objected, “These famous flowers are rarely seen, even in Dali. It will be almost impossible to find them in Jiangnan. If you can get several of each just like that, how can they be considered to be rare and precious breeds? Just go ahead and kill me now! I refuse to accept the torture of having you cut off my hands today and gouge out my eyes tomorrow.” Madame Wang loudly rebuked him, “You must be tired of living, to act so rudely in front of me. Take him away!”
The four servant girls walked towards him. Two of them grabbed him by his arms, one by his chest, with the last grabbing him by the back. All five of them descended from the top floor of the pavilion. All four of the servant girls knew martial arts, and Duan Yu found himself totally unable to resist. All he could do was secretly lament, “Damnit, damnit!”
Translator’s thought: WTF? Come on, ‘Graceful Steps Upon the Waves’, idjit!
Last edited by Ren Wo Xing; 02-24-09 at 12:03 AM.
thnx for the translation. been waiting for it.
Rose blooms best near death
You are in full bloom, Pal!
I feel like reading wikipedia on Camelia Flower for this Chapter
Wow, I'm always amazed at the long updates
I don't think its a long stretch to imagine that Madame Wang is another one of Duan Yu's daddy's former lovers. She seems to be showing the same love-hate attitude towards the Duan family as the other women =)
Man is glue. You are man. How then can you step away from glue?
Pushing and tugging, the four servants pulled him to a flower nursery. One servant stuck a gardening hoe in his hand, while another grabbed a watering pail. She said, “If you listen to the madame’s orders and obediently water the flowers, you can keep your life. But the way you keep offending her, you are tremendously lucky that she didn’t immediately order for you to be buried alive.” Another servant said, “Aside from doing your duties to preserve the flowers, you aren’t allowed to run about wildly within the manor. If you break into one of the restricted areas, no one will be able to save you. It’s the equivalent of asking to die.” The four servants lectured him in extremely solemn tones for some time before leaving. Duan Yu could only blankly stand there, not sure whether he should laugh or cry.
At Dali, he was only inferior in rank to his uncle and to his father. In the future, after his father ascended to the throne, he would become the crown prince. How could it have happened that he was kidnapped and brought to Jiangnan, almost be burned to death, then risk having his arms and legs chopped off or his eyes gouged out. As if that wasn’t enough, now he was forced into being someone else’s gardener. Even though he had an amiable temperament, and, in his palace, often chatted with the gardeners while watching them prune the flowers, work the earth, and spread the fertilizer, he was still a prince. In his heart, he felt that gardener’s were very lowly people.
Fortunately, he was a happy person and a lively spirit by nature. Upon meeting any problems or setbacks, at most he would only be dispirited for a short while before becoming happy again. He said to himself, “At the jade cavern of Mt. Wuliang, I already kowtowed and accepted the dear goddess as my master. Aside from the age issue, this Madame Wang looks very similar to her. Why don’t I just think of her as my martial-uncle? It’s natural for a pupil to labor hard and obey the commands of his master. Not to mention, cultivating flowers is an artistic sort of work done by literati. It’s definitely much more elegant and sophisticated than waving around sabres or poking around with spears. And it’s definitely ten thousand times better than being burned alive by Jiumozhi in front of Mr. Murong’s tomb. The only problem is, these flowers are really too inferior in quality. Having the prince of Dali take care of them is a waste of talent, like killing a scrawny chicken using a giant blade meant for butchering cattle. Haha, actually, can I be really be considered a cattle-butchering blade? What sort of flower-planting talent do I have, anyhow?”
Then, he thought to himself, “If I stay at the Highland Manor of the Camellias for a bit longer, there’s always the chance that I might have the good fortune of seeing that girl who wore the pale pinkish grey dress. This can be called, ‘Duan Yu, how do you know that planting flowers won’t be a lucky thing for you?’”
Considering the question of whether he was lucky or unlucky, Duan Yu grabbed a handful of grass. “Let’s see how long it will be before I have the chance to see that girl.” He began to pass the grass from his left hand to his right, then from his right hand to his left, trying to tell his fortune. After divining for some time, he ended up with a ‘Gen’ divinatory symbol, with an upper ‘Gen’ and a lower ‘Gen’. He thought to himself, “‘You shall see her back, but you will not win her body; you shall go to her courtyard, but you will not see her person. No fault.’ This divination is really appropriate. Even though I won’t see her, in the end, it won’t be my fault.”
He started over. This time, he ended up with a ‘Kun’ divinatry symbol, along with an upper ‘Dui’ and a lower ‘Kan’ symbol. He inwardly groaned, “‘Hard-pressed down amongst plants, as though you had entered a secluded valley. You will not present yourself within three years.’ I won’t even see her within three years. I really am very hard-pressed.” Then he thought, “If I can’t see her within three years, that means I’ll see her in the fourth year. There’s plenty of time in the future. Why think of myself as being hard-pressed?”
Since his divinations were very unfavorable, he dared divine no more. Humming a little melody, he picked up the hoe and began to stroll about aimlessly. He thought to himself, “Madame Wang told me to make those four vases of white flowers flourish. These four plants truly are famous breeds. I need to find a very graceful place to plant them, so as to show them off in the proper setting.” While strolling about, he reviewed the local scenery. Suddenly, he burst out in loud laughter. “Madame Wang doesn’t know a damn thing about camellias, but insists on planting them, and even calls this place the Highland Manor of the Camellias. She doesn’t even know that camellias prefer the moon, not the sun, and planted them in places where there is a lot of sun. Even if the flowers manage to somehow survive, there is no way they can flourish. Then she smothers them with fertilizer, by which point, any and all famous breeds of camellias will have been killed by her. What a waste, what a waste! But so funny, so very funny!”
He avoided the sunlight, only going to shadowy areas underneath trees and other large plants. After passing a small hill, he heard the gurgling of water. To his left-hand side was a row of green bamboo plants. The entire place was very quiet and secluded. The area was hidden in the shadow of the hill, where the sun could not reach. Madame Wang, knowing that this place was not suitable for planting flowers, did not plant a single camellia here. Duan Yu was overjoyed. “There’s no better place than this.”
Returning to his starting place, he carried the flower vases one by one to where the bamboo plants were. He shattered each porcelain vase then planted each camellia along with the mud in the vases. Although he had never done this before, he had seen this done many times. Surprisingly, although he was just making it up as he went along, he did it perfectly. Within an hour’s time, he finished transplanting the four white camellias next to the bamboo. He planted the ‘Clawing a Beautiful Woman’s Face’ to the left, the ‘Red Makeup, White Wrappings’ and the ‘Full Moon’ to the right, and the ‘Beautiful Eyes’ flower right behind a large boulder. He said to himself, “This is like the saying, ‘Only after you call and entreat her to come out many times does she appear, carrying a pipa and covering half her face.’ when these plants are placed in an appropriate setting do their true beauty and charm shine.” In Chinese history, flowers have always been compared to beautiful women. The art of cultivating flowers is equivalent to the art of a beautiful woman using makeup. Duan Yu came from a royal family and read many books; naturally, his understanding of these things was a level above most people.
Stretching his hands into the small stream, he washed away the dirt and mud. Taking a seat on top of the boulder, then stared at that ‘Beautiful Eyes’ camellia plant, turning his head this way and that to view it from every angle. Just as he was feeling proud of himself, he heard the sound of footsteps coming from a distance. Two females were walking his way. One of them said, “This place is the most quiet and secluded place here. No one ever comes…”
The sound of her voice was very pleasing to the ear. Duan Yu’s heart thumped loudly. The voice obviously belonged to the girl who wore the pale pinkish grey dress which he had seen earlier in the day. Duan Yu held his breath, not daring to make the slightest sound. He thought to himself, “She said she refuses to meet with any male strangers, and I, Duan Yu, am obviously a male stranger. For me to be able to listen to her say a few words and hear her goddess-like voice is already my infinite good fortune. No matter what, I can’t let her know I am here.” His head was originally leaning towards one side; now, he didn’t even dare straighten his neck, and so he just left his head in that inclined position rather than risk his neck straightening and making even the slightest bit of noise, scaring that girl.
That maiden continued, “Xiaoming, what have you…have you heard, regarding news of him?” Duan Yu couldn’t help but feel a sour feeling in his heart. The ‘him’ the maiden was referring to obviously couldn’t be himself, Duan Yu; rather, it was young master Murong. From Madame Wang’s earlier words, young master Murong seemed to have the given name of ‘Fu’, ‘recover’. The maiden’s question seemed to be filled with concern and tender affection for him. Duan Yu could not control the feelings of jealousy from springing forth from his core as they once more hurt his heart. Xiaoming mumbled haltingly for a long time, appearing to be very uncomfortable.
The maiden said, “Tell me! I definitely will take good care of you afterwards.” Xiaoming said, “I’m afraid…I’m afraid the madame will blame me.” The maiden said, “Silly girl, after you tell me, do you really think I will go tell the madame?” Xiaoming asked, “What if the madame asks you?” The maiden said, “Naturally, I still won’t tell her.” Xiaoming hesitated for another period of time before saying, “Your cousin, the young-master went to Shaolin.” The maiden said, “Shaolin? Why is it that Ah Zhu and Ah Bi said he was going to Luoyang to meet with the Beggar’s Clan?” Duan Yu thought to himself, “Her cousin, the young master? Oh, young master Murong is her maternal cousin. The two of them must share the innocent affection of cousins, which they have had since childhood. Then…then…”
Xiaoming said, “This time, when the madame was out travelling, she came across second master Gongye. He said that the all the leaders of the Beggar’s Clan have come to Jiangnan, intending to put on a huge show of force and question the young master about something which had to do with one of their masters. Second master Gongye said that he received a letter from the young master. The young master wrote that he had arrived in Luoyang but was unable to find any of the leaders of the beggars, and so went to Mt. Song to visit Shaolin.” The maiden said, “Why did he go to Shaolin?” Xiaoming said, “Second master Gongye said that in the letter, the young master wrote that an old Shaolin monk died in Dali, and that Shaolin was falsely accusing Gusu’s Murong family of having done the deed. The young master was very angry. Fortunately, Shaolin isn’t very far away from Luoyang, so he decided to go there and clear up the matter.
The maiden said, “If he’s unable to clear things up, then won’t things end up in violence? Since the madame found out about this news, why did she come back home instead of rushing to Shaolin to help the young master out?” Xiaoming said, “This…well, I don’t know. I imagine that it is probably because the madame doesn’t like the young master.” The maiden angrily said, “Hmph. Even if she doesn’t like him, he’s one of us. If Gusu’s Murong family loses face to outsiders, will our Wang family gain anything from it?” Xiaoming did not dare to reply.
The maiden walked back and forth near the copse of bamboo plants. Suddenly, she saw the three white camellia plants which Duan Yu had planted, as well as the shattered remains of the porcelain vases. She let out a startled sound, then asked, “Who is planting camellias here?”
Duan Yu moved quickly, emerging from behind the boulder. Bowing deeply, he said, “In accordance with the madame’s orders, your humble servant came here to cultivate camellia flowers. I’m sorry to have disturbed you.” Although he bowed very deeply, he stared straight ahead at her. He was afraid that the maiden would just repeat the words, “I don’t associate with male strangers,” then leave again, with him once more missing a wonderful opportunity.
As soon as he saw the young lady, he felt a buzzing sound in his ears. He felt as though his vision was becoming blurry, and his legs went weak. He couldn’t help but sink to his knees. If he didn’t exert all of his energy to keep himself straight, he would have kowtowed to her. Finally, he managed to cry out, “Dear goddess! I…I have been so miserable, dreaming about you! Master, your disciple, Duan Yu, pays respects to you!
The girl in front of him looked totally identical to the jade statue of the jade cavern. There were no differences whatsoever. Although Madame Wang looked very similar to the jade statue, she was obviously older, and was not as beautiful. But the girl in front of him, aside from her choice of clothes, looked exactly the same as the statue. Face, eyes, nose, lips, ears, skin color, body figure, hands, feet; there was not a single difference. It was as though the jade statue had come to life. In his dreams, he had longed for the jade statue a thousand or ten thousand times. Now, seeing her before his own very eyes, he really did not know where he was. Was he on earth, or was he in heaven?
The young maiden thought he was a lunatic. Letting out a soft cry, she retreated two steps. Shocked, she said, “You…you…”
Duan Yu rose to his feet. His eyes remained locked on the young maiden, and now he saw her even more clearly than before. Only now did he realize that there were still some differences between the girl in front of him and the jade statue. The jade statue was gorgeous, seductive, and arousing; it had the power to entrance one’s senses and steal one’s soul. The maiden in front of him, on the other hand, was dignified and sedate, with a hint of childishness. In terms of appearances, the jade statue actually appeared to be more animate and alive than the girl in front of him. He said, “Ever since that day in the jade cavern, when I kowtowed to your celestial statue, dear goddess, I felt that I was the luckiest of men. I never would have imagined that today, I would be able to see your appearance with mine own eyes. Goddesses really do exist on earth. The world isn’t an empty place at all!”
The maiden said to Xiaoming, “What is he talking about? He…who is he?” Xiaoming said, “He’s that bookworm which Ah Zhu and Ah Bi brought. He claimed to know how to plant camellias. The madame actually believed his rubbish.” The maiden said to Duan Yu, “Bookworm, did you overhear the conversation I had with her just then?”
Duan Yu laughed, “Your humble servant has the surname of Duan, with the given name of Yu. I am a citizen of Dali, not a bookworm. Dear goddess, I accidentally overheard the conversation between you and sister Xiaoming. But neither of you need to worry; your humble servant won’t leak a single word of your conversation. I guarantee that I will not cause sister Xiaoming to be blamed by Madame Wang.”
The maiden’s face sank. “Who are you calling your ‘dear goddess’? You refuse to admit you are a bookworm? When did you ever meet me?” Duan Yu replied, “If I’m not to call you ‘dear goddess’, how should I address you?” The maiden said, “My family name is Wang. You can just call me Miss Wang.”
Duan Yu shook his head. “No way. There’s hundreds of millions of Miss Wang’s in the world. Miss, how could I address a celestial personage such as yourself simply as ‘Miss Wang’? But how am I to address you then? This is a really tough problem. How about Celestial Maiden Wang? That seems too vulgar. Princess of the Camellias? But the Great Song, Dali, Liao, Tibet, and the Western Xia all have many princesses. Which one can compare to you?”
The maiden felt as though his words were filled with poetic diction. She all the more felt he was a total bookworm. Nonetheless, seeing him so enraptured by her and hearing him pour forth so many praises of her beauty, she couldn’t help but be a little delighted. Smiling she said, “Your luck is not bad at all. My mom didn’t chop your legs off.”
Duan Yu said, “The madame’s looks are comparable to yours, dear goddess. Only, her temperament is a bit too weird, and she randomly wants to kill people. It’s really a bit at odds with her goddess-like appearance.”
The maiden knitted her eyebrows slightly. “Hurry up and go plant camellias. Don’t just stand here and jibber jabber. The two of us have important things to talk about.” Her attitude indicated that she thought of him simply as a common gardener.
Duan Yu didn’t think about disobeying. He just wanted to exchange a few more words with her and cast a few more glances towards her. He thought to himself, “The only way I can lure her into being whole-heartedly willing to chat with me is by discussing young master Murong. Aside from this, she won’t care about anything else.” He said, “Shaolin is the Mt. Taishan and the Big Dipper of the martial community [meaning, holds an utmost position of height and power]. Within the monastery itself, if there aren’t a thousand eminent monks and expert fighters, there are at least eight hundred. Many of them have practiced the 72 Ultimate Techniques. Recently, Master Xuanbei was violently murdered in Dali’s Luliang prefecture, within the Shenjie Monastery. The many monks there were firm in their assertion that it was Gusu’s Murong family which did the deed. For young master Murong to enter such an extremely risky situation by himself is very unwise.
That maiden’s body actually trembled. Duan Yu didn’t dare look directly at her face. He thought to himself, “She cares so much about that little brat, Murong Fu. If I see her expression, I might be so pissed that I would start crying.” He watched the lower hem of her pale, pinkish grey dress gently tremble. He heard her insurpassably gentle voice say, “Why do the monks of Shaolin falsely accuse Gusu’s Murong family? Do you know? You…hurry and tell me.”
Hearing her beg him in such a trembling voice, Duan Yu’s heart softened, and he wanted to immediately tell her everything. But then, he reconsidered. “Actually, my knowledge in this matter is limited. All I really know is that master Xuanbei was killed by a blow from the ‘Great Veda Sceptre’ technique, and that everyone agreed that only the Murong family ‘uses the opponent’s skills, exercising them upon the opponent.’ I would finish explaining all of that in a few sentences. After I’m done explaining, she’ll shoo me off to go plant camellias again, by which point it will be very difficult to come up with any other topics of conversation. I need to make a mountain out of a molehill and spend a long time talking about a simple matter. I’ll just tell her a little bit each day, but also talk about all sorts of random matters and ramble on and off. I’ll stretch the conversation out as long as I can, so as to get her to come talk to me every day. If she can’t find me, her heart will itch and she’ll be discomfited.”
Duan Yu coughed and said, “I myself do not know martial arts. I don’t even know the most basic of techniques, such as ‘Golden Pheasant Stands Alone’, or ‘Black Tiger Stealing the Heart’. But I know a family friend by the surname of Zhu, whose full name is Zhu Danchen. His nickname is ‘Student of Calligraphy’. He might look like a weak and scholarly bookworm like me, but he really is very good at martial arts. One day, I saw him fold his fan, invert it, then with a puffing sound, point the fan towards the shoulder of this big muscular fellow. That fellow immediately curled up into a ball, as though he had turned into a puddle of mud, totally unable to move.”
The maiden said, “Right, this is the ‘Cool and Refreshing Fan’ technique’s acupoint sealing skill. It is the thirty eighth technique, the ‘Bone-Piercing Fan’ technique. Invert the fan, then diagonally attack the shoulder acupoint. This Mr. Zhu belongs to a branch of the Mt. Kunlun school of martial arts, and is a disciple of the Three Reasons Temple. Practitioners of this school of martial arts are even more formidable when using judge pens as opposed to fans. Let’s get back to the main topic. There’s no need to discuss martial arts with me.”
If Zhu Danchen himself had been here and heard these words, he would have admired this girl from the depths of his heart. Not only had the maiden properly identified the technique he had used, she even managed to discern the origins of his martial arts and clearly explain where he had studied it. If another famous martial arts expert, such as Duan Yu’s uncle, Duan Zhengming, or his father, Duan Zhengchun, they would have been astonished as well and wondered, “How is it that such a young girl has such a broad, deep, and incisive understanding of martial arts?” But Duan Yu did not know martial arts at all, so when the girl casually made those comments, he just casually listened, without even knowing if her words were correct or not. He stared at her thin eyebrows as they rose and her red lips as they moved. Whether or not her words were correct, he did not care one bit.
The maiden asked, “So what about Mr. Zhu?” Duan Yu pointed at a bluestone bench near the bamboo plants and said, “This story will take some time in the telling. Miss, why don’t you move over there and take a seat? Then, I’ll slowly report the events to you.” The maiden said, “You ramble on and on. Why can’t you just speak casually and quickly? I don’t have the energy to listen to you.” Duan Yu replied, “Miss, if you don’t have the time today, you can come find me tomorrow. If you don’t have free time tomorrow, it’ll be fine if we wait a few more days. As long as the madame does not chop off my tongue, all you need to do is ask and I will tell you what you want to know.”
The maiden lightly stomped her foot on the ground, then turned around and ignored him. She asked Xiaoming, “What else did the madame say?” Xiaoming replied, “The madame said, ‘Hmph, the problems are becoming bigger and bigger. He’s become foes with the Beggar’s Clan and enemies with Shaolin. I’m afraid that Gusu’s Murong family will die…die without even a place to be buried.” The maiden hurriedly said, “Mother clearly knows that my cousin is in a dangerous, critical situation. Why doesn’t she care?” Xiaoming said, “Right. Miss, I’m afraid that the madame will go looking for me. I need to leave! No matter what, please don’t tell the madame what I told you. I want to be alive to serve you for a few more years.” The maiden said, “Put your heart at ease. Why would I harm you?” Xiaoming paid her respects and left. Seeing a look of dread and fear on her face, Duan Yu thought to himself, “To Madame Wang, killing people is as big a deal as cutting the grass. She really does make others swoon with fear.”
The maiden slowly walked to the bluestone bench, then lightly and elegantly sat down, but did not ask Duan Yu to sit as well. Duan Yu naturally did not dare to rashly sit next to her. One of the white camellias was situated very close to her, only two branch-lengths away. A beautiful woman and a famous flower; the two brought out the best of each other’s beauty. Duan Yu sighed, “‘The beautiful flower collapses the country, but both are beautiful.’ Inferior, far inferior. In the past, the poet Li Bai used peony flowers as a metaphor for the beauty of Precious Consort Yang [Yang Guifei]. If he had the fortune to see you, miss, he would realize that although the flower is very beautiful, it is not tender when angry, does not have a soft voice, has no joyful laughter, and is without worries and cares. The flowers are far inferior!”
The maiden quietly said, “You keep on telling me that I am beautiful, but I don’t know if it’s true or not.” Duan Yu was totally astonished. “Only those who have no eyes cannot see beauty when beauty is placed before them. If this is the case for men, how much more must it be for you? I imagine that you have been called beautiful too many times in your life, and are bored of hearing it.”
The maiden slowly shook her head, revealing a look of loneliness. She said, “No one has ever told me whether or not I am beautiful. Within the Highland Manor of the Camellias, aside from my mother and myself, everyone here is a servant. They only know me as the young missus. Why would they care if I am beautiful or ugly?” Duan Yu said, “What about outsiders?” The maiden said, “What outsiders?” Duan Yu said, “When you go outside and others see your goddess-like beauty, surely they are startled and gasp in admiration, then prostrate themselves in reverence?” The maiden said, “I never go outside. Why would I go outside? Mother doesn’t allow me to, anyhow. When I go to my aunt’s house to read at the ‘Water Pavilion of Bestowal and Repayment’, I don’t meet any outsiders there either. Although, some of his friends, like big brother Deng, second brother Gongye, third brother Bao, or fourth brother Feng, they…they aren’t dull-witted fellows like you.” As she spoke, a small smile appeared.
Duan Yu said, “Can it be that young master Murong…that he too has never told you how beautiful you are?”
The maiden slowly lowered her head. An indescribably soft, almost inaudible sound could be heard, followed by a few more. A few teardrops fell onto the grass, crystal clear and sparkling, appearing as though they were the early morning dew. Duan Yu no longer dared to ask any more questions, nor did he dare to say any comforting words.
After a long time, the maiden let out a quiet sigh. “He…he’s a very busy person. Every day of every year, from dawn til dusk, he is always busy, without a single moment of free time. When we are together, either we are discussing martial arts or important affairs of state. I…I hate martial arts.”
Duan Yu slapped his thigh and declared, “Not bad, not bad! I hate martial arts as well. My uncle and my father both told me to learn martial arts, but I refused to learn no matter what, and chose to sneak away from home instead.”
The maiden let out a long sigh. “In order to be able to often meet with him, despite hating martial arts, I forced myself to not only read boxing treatises and sabre manuals, but also to memorize them, so that if there was something he did not understand, I could explain it to him. But I myself do not learn them. It isn’t very refined for girls to brandish sabres and wave cudgels about…” Duan Yu agreed from the bottom of his heart. “Right, right! How could a girl like you, a peerless beauty, get into physical battles with others? That’d really be totally inappropriate. Ack!...” He suddenly realized that these words he said were offensive to his own mother. The maiden didn’t really pay much attention to what he said and continued, “All of the political leaders of every dynasty have always been engaged in power struggles. Today, I try to kill you; tomorrow, you try to kill me. I really don’t want to know about those things. But he loves talking about those matters, so I have no choice but to read those types of books to be able to tell him about these things.”
Duan Yu asked curiously, “Why is it that you have to read books and then explain them to him? Can’t he read them himself?” The maiden glanced at him. “What, you think he’s an idiot? That he doesn’t know how to read?” Duan Yu hastily said, “No, no! He’s the best person in the whole wide world, alright?” Although Duan Yu said these words, in his heart he felt sour.
The maiden smiled beautifully. “He’s my maternal cousin. Aside from my aunt, my uncle, and him, very few people come to visit this place. But after my uncle passed away, my mother got into a spat with my aunt. Now, my mother doesn’t even allow my cousin to come visit. I honestly don’t know if he’s the best person in the whole world. I am not able to get to know the good people or the bad people of the world.” Duan Yu said, “Why not ask your daddy?”
The maiden said, “My father died a long time ago. He passed away even before I was born. I…I’ve never seen his face.” As she spoke, her eyes reddened as though tears once more wanted to emerge.
Duan Yu said, “Right, so your aunt would be your father’s older sister, and your uncle is your aunt’s husband, so he…he…he is your aunt’s son.” The maiden laughed out loud. “You are so muddle-headed. I’m my mother’s daughter, and he is my cousin.”
Seeing that he was able to coax a laugh from her, Duan Yu was very happy. He said, “Oh, I know! It must be that your cousin is too busy to read books, so you have to read them for him.” The maiden said, “You could put it like that, but there’s another reason as well. Let me ask you, why is it that the monks of Shaolin are falsely accusing my cousin of having killed one of their people?”
Duan Yu saw that a single tear still quivered at the end of her long eyelashes. He thought to himself, “The ancients wrote, ‘Pear flowers blossom when the spring brings rain.’ This is a metaphor for a beautiful woman crying. But although pear flowers are all very beautiful, pear trees themselves are too fat and heavy. In addition, after a rainstorm, every pear flower would have ‘tears’ on them. That’s an excessive amount of sadness. Miss Wang is like a camellia flower covered with faint dew; only this can be considered truly beautiful beauty.”
The maiden waited for a while, but Duan Yu still did not reply. She stretched her hand out and gently tapped the back of his hand. “What’s wrong with you?” Duan Yu’s entire body trembled, and he shot to his feet, calling out, “Aiyo!” The maiden was frightened for a moment, and asked, “What’s wrong?” His entire face burning red, Duan Yu replied, “When you tapped your fingers on the back of my hand, it felt as though my acupoints were being sealed.”
The maiden opened her eyes wide, not knowing that he was joking. She said, “There’s no acupoints on this side of the hand. The ‘Ye Men’ [Liquid Gate], ‘Zhong Zhu’ [Central Islet], and the ‘Yang Chi’ [Yang Moat] acupoints are all on the palm of the hand. The ‘Qian Huo’ [First Opening] and the ‘Yang Lao’ [Providing For the Elderly] acupoints are on the wrist. All of them are very far away.” As she spoke, she used the back of her own hand to demonstrate.
As Duan Yu watched as she pointed towards the tender, delicate, snowy-white back of her hand, he felt his throat become dry. His head felt dizzy and he asked, “Mi…miss, what is your name?”
The maiden smiled. “You are a really weird fellow, you know that? Fine, I guess there’s no harm in telling you. Even if I don’t tell you, those two little rascals, Ah Zhu and Ah Bi, will tell you.” Stretching a finger out, she drew three characters on the back of her own hand: “Wang Yuyan.” [Yuyan means ‘Beautiful Speech’ or ‘Beautiful Language’]
Duan Yu called out, “Wonderful, wonderful! Beautiful smiles and speech, and a kind, amiable personality.” He thought to himself, “Let’s make things clear from the start. If she’s like her mother, being perfectly fine one moment then suddenly angry the next and having me go plant flowers, then the name is insuitable for her.”
Wang Yuyan smiled. “People always have nice names. All of those vile, wicked, evil people in history had beautiful names as well. Cao Cao did not necessarily display any upright conduct [De Cao means Upright Conduct], and Zhu Quanzhong was totally disloyal [Quanzhong means Totally Loyal]. Your name is Duan Yu. Is your name, Yu, such a good name? I’m afraid you’re a little ‘buying fame…’[Gu Ming]” Duan Yu interjected, “…and fishing for praise’ [Diao Yu]!” The two of them laughed loudly together. [The phrase, ‘Gu Ming Diao Yu’, means fishing for compliments and praise.]
Wang Yuyan’s beautiful face had always seemed to carry a hint of anxiety, but now, caught in the midst of joyful laughter, she became all the more charming and beautiful. Duan Yu thought to himself, “If I can spend the rest of my life making her laugh and wreathing her face in smiles, there would be nothing more I would ask for from life.”
Unexpectedly, she was only happy for a brief period of time before once again that faint look of sorrow and worry settled across her face. She quietly said, “He…he’s always so serious. He never talks about such silly things with me. Alas! The nation of Yan, the nation of Yan…is it really that important?”
‘The nation of Yan, the nation of Yan’; these words, upon entering Duan Yu’s ears, suddenly interlinked with many previously separate terms and phrases. The ‘Murong lineage’, the ‘Basin of Swallows,’ the ‘Canhe Manor’, the ‘nation of Yan’…Duan Yu suddenly blurted out, “Is this young master Murong the descendant of Murong clan of the Xianbei people, who carved out the ‘Yan’ empire during the time when the five Hu minority nationalities spread chaos in China? He is of the Hu minority, and is not a Chinese person?”
Wang Yuyan nodded. “Right. He is the descendant of the former princes of the Murong family which ruled the nation of Yan. But that was centuries ago. There’s no need to constantly bear in mind ancient history and the affairs of your ancestors. He wants to be a Hu person, not a Chinese person. He doesn’t want to learn Chinese characters or read Chinese books. But I don’t see what’s so bad about Chinese books. Once, I said to him, ‘Cousin, if you say that Chinese books are bad, what books do the Xianbei people have? I want to take a look.’ But he immediately flew into a rage because there’s no such thing as Xianbei-language books to begin with.”
She slightly raised her head, staring at the lazy, distant clouds in the sky. In her soft voice, she said, “He…he is ten years older than me. He’s always just thought of me as a younger sister. He thinks that I don’t know anything aside from reading books and memorizing martial arts techniques. He has never realized that I read books for his sake, memorize martial arts for his sake. If it weren’t for him, I’d rather raise a few chicks to play with, or play the zither, or practice calligraphy.”
In a quivering voice, Duan Yu said, “He truly doesn’t know that you…that you are this good to him?”
Wang Yuyan replied, “Of course he knows that I am good to him. He’s always treated me very well as well. But…but it’s as though we are actual brothers and sisters. Aside from serious matters, he never discusses anything with me. He never tells me what he is thinking, nor does he ever ask me if I have anything on my mind.” Her jade-like cheeks blushed a faint red, and a bashful look appeared in her eyes and on her face.
At first, Duan Yu wanted to tease her and ask her, “What sort of things do you have on your mind?” But seeing the tender, bashful look on her beautiful face, he didn’t dare run the risk of offending this beautiful lady. He said, “You don’t need to always discuss history and martial arts with him. Aren’t there a lot of evening songs and love poems in the books you read?” As soon as he said this, he felt regretful. “Just let her continue to stare at him with soft eyes and tender glances, but be unable to communicate with him. Isn’t that a good thing? Why should I teach her techniques to communicate with him? I really am a total idiot.”
Yes, total idiot! =)
Thanks RWX for another long installment
Man is glue. You are man. How then can you step away from glue?
this is what happens when i forget to check this for a few days - i get so behind. ren, you are amazing!
& so begins duan yu's obsession - onto the stalking.