WHD - Chapt 9 (part 1)
Posted By: faerie queene
Date: Wednesday, 31 March 2004
Martial World Lurks Tricksters
Scheming to cheat Red Pill
Clever and Extraordinary Youngster
Sincerely Asks for Sword Manual
Taoist Priest White Stone was originally surnamed “He.” Before he became a priest, he was a father to two daughters; the elder daughter He E-Hua was now eighteen years of age and his younger daughter who has just recently turned ten was named He Lu Hua. Since the wife of Taoist Priest White Stone died not long after He Lu Hua’s birth, White Stone therefore brought his two daughters to his sister and implored her to take them under her care. During the span of these last ten years, White Stone would make a trip to the TaiShi Mountain every one or two years in order to visit his two daughters. However, Zhuo Yi Hang was never aware of this fact.
But what he was even more unaware of was the real prospect that Taoist Priest White Stone had in mind for this trip. Because Zhuo Yi Hang was the Wu Tang Sect’s most extraordinary and promising second generation disciple, Taoist Priest White Stone have long yearned to marry his own daughter to him. Yellow Leaf always knew of his brother’s intentions and therefore tried to help him unite this relationship by inquiring about the object of Zhuo’s affections a few days ago.
After White Stone finished introducing his daughters to Zhuo Yi Hang, he laughed and said, “E-Hua, your martial arts brother is not an outsider, so the two of you don’t have to too formal or polite with each other. This martial arts brother of yours is skilled in both his literary and martial arts, so if there is anything you don’t understand, make sure you ask him.”
The crowd of them thus proceeded to walk towards the peak of the TaiShi Mountain. For after He Qi Xia shaved off her hair to become a nun, she took the name of Ci Hui (1) and constructed a temple on the peaks of the Tai Shi Mountain in hopes of continuing her practice in peace. Ci Hui brought them all inside the temple and was just inviting Zhuo Yi Hang to have a seat when Taoist Priest White Stone chuckled and said, “Just let the little ones go outside to play by themselves.”
He E-Hua therefore took Zhuo Yi Hang for a tour around the temple and when they felt tired, they stopped beneath an old cedar tree for a rest. The two of them conversed casually amongst each other and when they got to the topic of Abbess Ci Hui’s experience, He E-Hua remarked with a big sigh, “The fate of a woman is truly dreary!”
Zhuo Yi Hang laughed and said, “How can that be so? You can only say that Abbess Ci Hui was unfortunate in having encountered the wrong person.” He E-Hua replied, “Is that not so then? Since the beginning of time, women have had to rely on men. If they are lucky enough to marry a good husband, then that might be acceptable. But if they happen to fall into a bad marriage, their whole life would be finished! Even someone who possesses a character and martial arts abilities such as my aunt is still left to grow old by herself in a deserted mountain with nothing but the weak flicker of the oil lamps and the stillness of the ancient Buddha statues to accompany her.”
Zhuo Yi Hang remarked, “But really, she doesn’t have to make herself unhappy over such a heartless man.” He E-Hua interrupted, “But even in cases where two people were originally very much in love, sometimes it can still be very hard to avoid the mutability of affections. Take SiMa XiangRu and Zhuo Wen Jun (2) as an example, were they not a perfect match of the talented scholar and the virtuous beauty that were very much in love with each other? Can you not say that they were the kind of heavenly matches that could only be found in legends? But when Zhuo Wen Jun grew old, SiMa XiangRu still transferred his affections onto somebody else. Had Zhuo Wen Jun not written the “Bai Tou Yin,” (3) to change SiMa XiangRu’s mind, wouldn’t the heavenly couple have thus ended up as the wretched couple? And had SiMa XiangRu himself not written for Empress Chen (4) the “Chang Men Fu”? (5) But when in his own shoes, he couldn’t see the anguishes and sorrows of the broken-hearted female! Now tell me, is the fate of a woman not very pitiful?”
When Zhuo Yi Hang heard these words, a strange feeling suddenly washed over him as he uncontrollably thought of Yu Luo Cha. He felt that words such as “Women have a dreary life” would have never been uttered through the lips of Yu Luo Cha!
This He E-Hua possessed a gracious demeanour while her manner of speech was likewise elegant and refined. In terms of her capabilities, education and martial arts, she could be said to be proficient in all and deficient in none. But for some reason, Zhuo Yi Hang couldn’t help but feel that she was missing something. What exactly was this “something”? Zhuo Yi Hang was unable to describe what it was, perhaps because it was that indescribable and almost mystical form of elusive “radiance” concealed within life? This form of “radiance” was something that Zhuo Yi Hang could very clearly experience through Yu Luo Cha’s presence. Yet at the same time, it was also this “radiance” that arouses his agitation or even “revulsion” towards her. But even if it was “revulsion” he was experiencing, that very feeling of “revulsion” was similarly an extremely captivating force that continues to attract him.
But all along, Taoist Priest White Stone had no idea to what Zhuo Yi Hang’s feelings were. Therefore after he and his sister had finished recounting their experiences since their last separation, he ventured outside only to see the two youngsters engaged in pleasant conversation. This caused a rush of elated joy to immediately flood into his heart.
1)“Ci Hui”: The two words Ci Hui could be roughly translated as “Compassionate” (Ci) “Intelligence/Intuition” (Hui).
2)“SiMa XiangRu and Zhuo Wen Jun”: A paired of lovers who belonged to the Western Han era. Their story has been documented by SiMa Qian’s “Shi Ji” (Records of the Grand Historian) and later, Ban Gu et. al. also incorporated it within the “Han Shu” (Book of Han). The story of these lovers goes that Zhuo Wen Jun was a beautiful and very well-educated girl belonging to a wealthy family. She married at the age of seventeen but when her husband died, she returned to live at home. SiMa XiangRu was also a very talented scholar who came across bad times when his Lord lost power. It was at SiMa XiangRu’s most desolate and financially destitute time did he meet Zhuo Wen Jun. After he played for her the song “The Phoenix Woos Her Mate,” Zhuo Wen Jun actually left her home to meet with SiMa XiangRu in the middle of the night, an action which caused quite a scandal in ancient feudal times. Despite her family’s protest and enrage, Zhuo insisted on being with SiMa XiangRu as they opened up a small tavern, living a humble but joyful existence. Later on, SiMa XiangRu’s talents were gradually recognized and rewarded; therefore their financial situation needless to say, gradually became better. But despite SiMa XiangRu’s plaguing medical condition (it is now determined that he was suffering from diabetes) which should restrict him from excessive indulgence in drinking and gluttonous feasting, once SiMa XiangRu grew wealthy, he give himself over to decadence, not only consuming excessive amounts of harmful substances, but his numerous rendezvous with beautiful and famous courtesans also became a widely known fact. Despite being heartbroken, Zhuo Wen Jun continued to withstand this behaviour from SiMa XiangRu, hoping that he will one day change his ways. But when SiMa XiangRu insisted on establishing a famous beauty as his concubine, Zhuo Wen Jun could finally take no more as she wrote him the poem “Bai Tou Yin” as her final attempt to win his heart back. When he read the poem, SiMa XiangRu was in fact so touched after being reminded of the happiness they shared in their youthful times, he abolished the notion of establishing a concubine and then reformed his ways, enabling the two lovers to be reunited. As a result, they spent the rest of their years together in happiness. Due to SiMa XiangRu’s illnesses, he did eventually die a few years later and his wife Zhuo Wen Jun followed after him shortly afterwards.
3)“Bai Tou Yin”: Roughly translated as the “White Haired Song.”
4)“Empress Chen”: Book’s footnote: the wife of the Emperor Han Xiao Wu.
5)“ChangMen Fu”: Roughly translated as “The Poetic Essay of the ChangMen Palace.” This was a long poem composed by SiMa XiangRu. It was said that when Emperor Han Wu’s wife, the Empress Chen A-Jiao lost the Emperor’s affections, she asked SiMa XiangRu to write her a poem that would bring the Emperor back to her. But her attempts would at last prove to be futile. In contrast, the poem that Zhuo Wen Jun wrote for SiMa XiangRu would indeed rekindle his affections.
Taoist Priest White Stone originally had no intentions of visiting the Shaolin temple. But during early morning of the next day, Abbess Ci Hui suddenly received two invitations from Reverend Zun Xing, the Monastery Inspector of the Shaolin Temple. One of the invitations had her name on it while the other one was addressed to Taoist Priest White Stone. Abbess Ci Hui laughed and said, “Shaolin’s Monastery Inspector has one efficient method of procuring information. You just arrived yesterday and already they have received news!”
Since Abbess Ci Hui resided on the Tai Shi Mountain with Shaolin as her neighbours, courteous interactions would occasionally ensue between the two parties. White Stone remarked, “They sent someone over to present their respects when our sect leader past away. Out of courtesy, we should also do something to express our gratitude. Since they happen to sent us an invitation today, we may as well go and pay them a visit.” He then turned towards Zhuo Yi Hang to instruct, “Since you are our sect’s future sect leader, you should take this opportunity to meet the elders of Shaolin.”
The two mountains Tai Shi and Shao Shi were located straight across from each other, separated by a distance of about a dozen miles or so. The three people needed to walk for only an hour before they arrived beneath the Five Bosom Peak located on the Shao Shi Mountain’s Northern corner. What they saw was a field so densely populated with stone pagodas that it came to resemble a forest. And amongst the midst of this forest made out of stone pagodas, the outlines of the Shaolin temple could be seen to tower out. White Stone said, “We should first go and announce our names to the admittance monk first. You stay here and wait for a while.” Zhuo Yi Hang nodded his head to acknowledge these instructions, but just when he was about to speak, distant sounds of outcry and clamour suddenly broke out.
The three of them ran towards the front gates of the Shaolin temple and found that the doors of the temple were tightly bolted while two old men were standing on top of the large rock in front of the gate, hurtling insults and cursing up a storm. One of them shouted, “Jing Ming you old baldy! Don’t put on your pompous airs with me! Even if you are a grand master of one sect, we’re not nobodies either you know?” The other guy shouted, “From what I can see, your Shaolin sect has merely empty fame that can be backed up by nothing at all! If you really did have some true abilities, then why wouldn’t you have the guts to meddle with us?”
Zhuo Yi Hang was incredibly taken back when he heard these two people throw out such disrespectful words. For it should be understood that the two sects of Shaolin and Wu Tang were akin to the martial art world’s TaiShan and North Dipper. During that time, though Wu Tang can be said to dominate in terms of sheer numbers and thriving illustriousness, yet when judging from the perspective of the sect with the longest history and greatest production of generational talents, the Shaolin sect still holds prominence over Wu Tang. Who exactly were these two people? Why is it that they would dare to issue words of challenge right in front of Shaolin’s front doors?
When the two old fellows saw Taoist Priest White Stone and Abbess Ci Hui arrive, they immediately leaped down from the rock and bounded towards them. There was a smile on their faces as they affected a friendly expression in welcome. But they were only greeted with an icy expression from the Abbess Ci Hui who hardened her face and did not even bother to bat an eye at them. On observing his sister’s reaction, White Stone also followed suit by turning up his nose and veering over to one side with big steps and a proud expression.
Having been completely ignored by White Stone, the two old fellows were left to feel quite disappointed. But when they arrived in front of the three people, they then turned towards Zhuo Yi Hang to try and strike up a conversation, “Young brother, have you come to the Shaolin temple to pay your worship?” Zhuo Yi Hang nodded his head, causing one of the old chaps to snort with disgust and scoff, “You may as well save yourself a trip. Within that whole Shaolin temple, aside from the senior Jing Ming who can manage to withstand a few of my stances, all of their other members are not even worthy of a mention! Why waste all your energy and time to come here and pay worship?”
Zhuo Yi Hang was almost knocked over with alarm, as he hurriedly inquired with cordial respect, “Please excuse my boldness. But may I be graced with the acquaintance of revered elders’ names?” With another snort, the old man rebuffed, “You wouldn’t know my name even if I told you. In these day and times, all that the young blood knows to worship are merely figures of empty fame. Just because there so happens to be some old bones like us who didn’t bother themselves with opening up any sects or schools, all you can hear people talk about are Shaolin and Wu Tang. So in the end, how would the new generation know of our existence? But if the Wu Tang five elders were here right now, they will most definitely have insisted on taking the status of our junior!” The old man has just been rambling on and on with such frenzy that he has left Zhuo Yi Hang to be completely clueless on what to make of his mouthful of mumble jumble.
The old chap continued, “Is that Taoist Priest standing over there your Shifu?” Such a question left Zhuo Yi Hang dumbfounded as he silently thought to himself: since he says that even the Wu Tang 5 elders have to pay reverence to him as the senior, then how come he doesn’t recognize my uncle White Stone?” Therefore Zhuo answered, “He is my martial arts uncle” and proceeded to inquired about their names once again.
The old man remarked with smugness, “Which sect are you from? Didn’t the elders of your sect ever mention to you the two names ‘Immortal on Land’ Hu Mai and the ‘Heavenly Hands’ Meng Fei? I am the Immortal on Land, Hu Mai. Twenty years ago in a martial arts competition, I had crossed swords with Taoist Priest Purple Sun on the top of the Wu Tang Mountain. In the match of hand combat, Purple Sun very kindly allowed me to win by one stance. While in terms of sword skills, even though we were originally tied, yet since I had already beat him in hand combat I felt that I should try to reserve some face for him and therefore let him win in the end by half a stance!” Zhuo Yi Hang has truly never heard of such an occurrence before and when he considered to the humility and magnanimity of his ShiFu’s character, if such a fight truly did happen, how could it be that he has never heard his ShiFu never mention anything about it before?
The “Heavenly Hands” Meng Fei interrupted, “But that was twenty years ago! At that time, the Taoist Priest Purple Sun may still have been able to pose as a challenging opponent to my old brother Hu, but I dare say that if they had another competition today, he would be defeated in less than fifty stances! As for Shaolin, though they depend on their “Divine Fists” for their fame, yet in reality, the flaws found within this set of martial arts is extremely numerous. From what I can see, the Dhyana Master (6) Jing Ming is not even my match, so forget facing off against my old brother Hu!”
He then extracted from his traveling pouch a book which had the words “The Ten Weaknesses of Shaolin’s Fist Skills” imprinted on its cover. Turning to Zhuo, he then said, “In order to abolish the ignorance of the worldly mortals, I have purposely written this book in order to outline in detail the various deficiencies of Shaolin’s Divine Fists.” Zhuo Yi Hang thus said, “Oh I see, so you have come here with the purpose of presenting this book to Elder Jing Ming?” Meng Fei replied, “But it’s too bad that despite having such a respectable name, Jing Ming that old baldy has in reality an extremely cramped breadth of heart. We purposely came here to pay him a visit and he actually dares to lock up his doors and refuse us the right to enter!” Zhuo Yi Hang was just about to ask for permission to flip through the old man’s book when the front doors of the Shaolin temple suddenly swung wide open as two old monks walked out together shoulder to shoulder.
Hu Mai shouted loudly, “Ha! So you finally dare to show your face? Jing Ming! Do you have enough guts to exchange ten stances with me?” Standing on the left hand side was a monk with a pair of gentle eyes and a compassionate gaze who incanted, “Blessed is the divine Amitabha Buddha and his merciful guidance” before he said, “These old bones of this humble monk are already much too brittle and it has been a long time since he has taken an interest in such activities.”
But the monk standing on the left side only snickered and snapped, “I’ve been informed that over the past few days, the two of you have come to our front doors every day demanding to exchange stances with our head abbot. But our admittance monk has already informed you of Shaolin’s rules; if you have come to Shaolin with the purpose of exchanging stances, then you must start competing with our disciples of the fifth generation. You must ascend the stages one at a time, and if you really were able to defeat the representatives from each of our generations then I will naturally have to come out and meet your expertly stances! You disregard the rules of our sect and yet you still have the audacity to come around here kicking and screaming?!”
Then with a signal of his hands he shouted, “Wu Jing! Come out and exchange a few stances with these two guests.” A little novice monk of about fourteen or fifteen years of age immediately leaped out in answer to his command. Hu Mai puffed up with fury as he shrieked, “Zun Xing, you bald headed old bloke! How dare you look down on us like this? Even if you’re the Monastery Inspector, we’re also important people you know?! Are we not worthy enough to exchange a few moves with you?”
The little novice monk immediately positioned himself into a fighting position and called out, “Alright! Since you two guys are guests, I’ll let you guys execute three stances first before I retaliate!” Hu Mai squeaked with fury, “You no hair little brat, do you know who I am?” The little novice monk made a funny face and quipped back, “I know that you are a lowlife bum!” When Zhuo Yi Hang heard this, he could not refrain from bursting out into laughter, for the two words “Wu Lai” which comprises “lowlife bum” when pronounced with a HeNan accent sounds exactly like “Hu Mai”!
Hu Mai continued to rave, “Wu Tang and Shaolin are both considered as leaders of the martial art world, so Jing Ming, why is it that you don’t follow after Taoist Priest Purple Sun’s gracious example? That day, Purple Sun personally accompanied me up Wu Tang and then even after losing to me in hand combat, he still brought his four martial art brothers along with him as he personally saw me down the mountain. Now this is the kind of class that a leader of the martial art world should have!” But before he could even finish his words, a loud smack was suddenly heard as a hard slap was delivered straight across his face. Then with just a sweep of his hands, Taoist Priest White Stone has already thrown Hu Mai more than thirty feet off to the side causing Hu to roll around the ground squealing hysterically like a pig that was being slaughtered.
Meng Fei stood by one side and wailed loudly, “Is there no room for the country’s law in the eyes of Shaolin? Can you just commit murder under the glare of broad daylight?!” Meanwhile, Hu Mai continued to quack about with pain as he rolled around all over the ground, his voice gradually becoming choked and raspy as if he really was about to die any minute. The old Dhyana Master Jing Ming’s eyebrows knitted together as he turned to the Monastery Inspector Zun Xing and said, “Give him a small rejuvenation pill to ingest.”
The Dhyana Master Zun Xing took out a silver jar to pour out a very tiny red pill and then asked the little novice monk to bring it to Meng Fei while he said, “Our merciful head abbot grants you this miraculous pill.” Meng Fei immediately grabbed the pill and delivered it into Hu Mai’s mouth. But after just a brief pause, Hu Mai began to howl out with pain again. Meng Fei barked, “My brother was secretly attacked by the evil tricks of your people, just one little red pill will not do any good! Give me two more!” Zun Xing retorted with fury, “Who do you think you’re fooling?” But the old Dhyana Master Jing Ming had a compassionate heart and was worried that Hu Mai really has been severely injured, therefore said, “Give him another pill then.” Zun Xing had no choice but to take out yet another red pill to hand over to him. With euphoric jubilation, Meng Fei greedily snatched up the pill and then hurriedly tucked it away before throwing Hu Mai on his back and with a large step, proceeded to descend the mountain.
But Taoist Priest White Stone’s rage was still unabated as he thundered out with rage, “Do you guys know who I am?” Meng Fei turned around and responded, “I was just about to ask.” White Stone snickered and said coldly, “I am the fourth martial arts brother of the Taoist Priest Purple Sun, known to others as the Dragon Slaying Swordsman, Taoist Priest White Stone! Didn’t that old lowlife bum say that I had personally accompanied him down the Wu Tang Mountain once? Why is it that he couldn’t recognize me when I’m standing right in front of his face?!” Standing around them was a crowd of little novice monks who all burst out into hysterics upon hearing this.
While still draped across Meng Fei’s back, Hu Mai suddenly lifted up his head to exclaim, “Ohhhhhh! And I was wondering who that was! So it’s one of the Wu Tang five elders, no wonder he has a bit of strength to him! I’m old now and my energy is not as vibrant as before. In three years, I will tell my disciple to come find you and settle this score!” Though his voice was not particularly vociferous, yet one could tell that there also was not a bit of hoarseness to it. White Stone found the whole incident both aggravating and amusing as he loudly bellowed, “Now get out of my sight you dirty rat!” as the figure of Meng Fei was seen to hurriedly scamper down the mountain.
With a chuckle, Zun Xing said, “Brother White Stone, you really shouldn’t have revealed your name to him.” White Stone asked, “Why is that?” Zun Xing replied, “Now that you have given him your name, it’s going to give them more material to construct their tall tales in the future. So that even when they die, they will now be able to etch upon their tombstones with big bold letters the words: Once exchanged stances with the Wu Tang five elders!”
Taoist Priest White Stone burst out with laughter and said, “What ridiculousness!” as Zun Xing continued, “But brother White Stone, I really wasn’t trying to make a joke out of all this. Within the martial arts world, there really are a countless number of frivolous people who have too much time on their hands. Take those two lowlife rats that were just here for example! They knew very well that our head abbot wouldn’t exchange moves with them. And because they were absolutely certain that the members of the Shaolin temple wouldn’t hurt their lives, they take advantage of it by causing such a huge ruckus right in front of our doors in hopes of somehow making a name for themselves!” White Stone remarked, “Only your Shaolin sect would be so graciously forgiving. Had this happened on our Wu Tang Mountain, it would have been a miracle if their two legs weren’t broken by now!” Zun Xing laughed and said, “That is why they wouldn’t dare to bother your Wu Tang sect, but they wouldn’t have thought that even when bringing out the name of Wu Tang on the Song Mountain, they would still come across their unlucky star – you.”
White Stone rubbed his hands together and was laughing out with satisfaction when Zun Xing suddenly interrupted, “Brother White Stone, when I watched you deliver that palm strike just a moment ago, it seemed to me that you had originally exerted your full force but then suddenly retracted all but three tenths of power when you actually came into contact with his clothing. Are my observations correct?” Taoist Priest White Stone was incredibly impressed as he replied, “Reverend, the clarity of your observational abilities is truly alarming. When I originally saw how arrogant the words of those two lowlife bums were, I struck towards him with full force. But when I actually caught a clear glimpse of his movements, I realize that he was not even worthy of my attention and therefore only used three tenths of power.” The Dhyana Master Zun Xing sighed and said, “Then we have been tricked.” White Stone asked, “What?” as Zun Xing explained, “We have let them cheat away from us an extra miraculous pill.”
But the old Dhyana Master Jing Ming said, “Brother, you must take caution not to be too miserly. Even if we have let them take away an extra pill, yet this pill could only be used to save lives and we need not worry that they will be using this pill to do bad deeds.” Meanwhile, Zun Xing only shook his head and remained silent. But who would have thought that there would be a twist of fate in store? This tiny red pill would actually ignite the second “strange case” in the history of the Ming dynasty. What is now known as the “Red Pill Case” would end up taking the life of an Emperor! But this concerns a subsequent matter and will not be presently disclosed.
Taoist Priest White Stone later beckoned Zhuo Yi Hang to come over and express his worship to the Reverend Jing Ming after he had finished officially greeting him. When the Revered Jing Ming saw how exceptional Zhuo Yi Hang’s demeanour was, he was quite full of praise.
6)“Dhyana Master”: Also known as the “Ch’an Master,” this was a title conferred upon monks who have attained a degree of enlightenment in Ch’an Buddhism. Although the Ch’an Buddhism also branched into what will later be known as Zen Buddhism in Japan, yet unlike Zen, Chan does not stress the art of meditation, but rather relied on the enlightenment that could be found in the everyday routines and events of life, as well as the humdrum simplicity of the ordinary conversations of ordinary life as their basis of achieving clarity of mind. Ch’an did not hold the scriptural study of traditional Buddhist texts as their basis of enlightenment, and similarly they did not view existence as a state of suffering that required salvation. Rather, they tried to enter into a new state of existence through a shift of the mind which could allow an opening of one’s consciousness, an “unveiling” of sorts that would occur through the patience and simplicity of ordinary living. The Chan Buddhism actually underwent a division and separated into the South and North schools. The south school was actually founded under the teachings of the monk Hui Neng, the Chan Master whose famous parable was cited in the opening poem of this book’s first chapter.
That night, the Reverend Jing Ming hosted a banquet in the “Awareness Edification Chapel” in honour of Taoist Priest White Stone’s arrival. During the banquet, they conversed to Taoist Priest Purple Sun’s recent passing and all that was heard around the table were sighs and laments coming from everyone. Zhuo Yi Hang was also secretly filled with despondency as he thought to himself: Ever since his ShiFu’s death, the Wu Tang Sect has come to resemble a crowd of dragons that were without a leader. And although the martial art abilities of his four martial arts uncle were pretty good, yet they did not possess any leadership talents. It really seems that from now on, the throne of the martial arts world’s central divinity could only be conferred upon the Shaolin sect.
The last colours of the sunset began to gradually dissipate as the luminous moon rose high above the mountains, drowning all thirty six stupas and fifty-four pagodas in a film of luminous moonlight. The Reverend Jing Ming was taking a sip of green tea when he turned towards the moonlit sky to suddenly ask with a smile, “Do you think that the nightwalker would have an easy time moving about under such a moonlit night?”
Taoist Priest White Stone asked with surprised, “Revered Dhyana Master, what do you mean by these words? Could it be that there are some night trawlers in this world who would dare to cause trouble at the Shaolin temple? Even if those two lowlife bums wanted to continue latching onto the Shaolin sect, they still wouldn’t have such remarkable abilities!” Reverend Jing Ming laughed and said, “The person who will be coming tonight is not some kind of pesky rascal, but is one of Military Commissioner Xiong’s men. Furthermore, it is I who personally invited him to come.”
Taoist Priest White Stone had absolutely no idea what to make of these remarks and could only ask, “Who is Military Commissioner Xiong? Do you mean the Managing Governor of the Eastern LiaoNing Province (7) , the great general Xiong Ting Bi?” Jing Ming replied, “Where else in the world could you find another Military Commissioner Xiong?” White Stone remarked with perplexity, “But Military Commissioner Xiong is the current era’s famed warrior whose character and military strategizing abilities are admired throughout the world. Could it be possible that he would actually try to cause trouble for Shaolin?” Jing Ming laughed and said, “Of course he would not,” and after a slight pause he suddenly said, “There is one person named Yue Ming Ke. Have all of you heard of his name before?”
A jolt shocked through Zhuo Yi Hang’s heart as he said, “I know this person.” Jing Ming stated, “It is him who will be coming tonight.” Surprised, Zhuo Yi Hang asked, “Why would he come here?” Jing Ming replied, “He was sent over here by Military Commissioner Xiong.”
What had happened was that when Xiong Ting Bi was appointed as the Managing Governor of Eastern LianNing Province, the Ming Emperor also simultaneously bestowed him with the Royal Sword that grants its wielder the right to execute other members of the imperial court before reporting to the Emperor. It should be understood that the threat at the border has now reached the state of extreme concern. And of course the decadent and degenerate military power stationed at the border contributed as one big causal factor.
Therefore after Military Commissioner Xiong was granted the Royal Sword, he set off with the determination of conducting a huge reorganization of military order. Bringing along with him his personal troops, he expedited along his journey and traveled throughout the nights to arrive swiftly at the borders. Once entering LiaoYang, Xiong immediately executed the three generals Liu Yu Jie, Wang Jie and Wang Wen Ding who were all debasing the country’s laws by indulging in acts such as extortion or spoiling their troops to oppress the common peasants. Xiong then took their severed heads around to the military tents and exhibited them to all the troops. Once the troops saw the heads, they were all intimidated into a state of solemn sobriety and from them on, all the troops abided by Xiong’s commands.
Xiong Ting Bi then expanded his area of reorganization and while training his troops he was also simultaneously constructing war chariots and cannons, excavating trenches and fortifying the city’s structure. As a result, what was originally a troop of eighteen million useless soldiers that were degenerate beyond hope have suddenly been transformed into an mighty crowd of thriving and effective military troops to station at Fu Shun and face off against the Manchurian troops. Upon receiving news that Xiong Ting Bi was personally heading the military defence, the Manchurian king did not dare to advance or attack and could only retreat his troops to station in Xing Jing. While the two armies stood off against each other, no battles have broken out so far.
During this time, Yue Ming Ke was positioned within the army as a Grand Adjutant (8) , and though his post wasn’t a very high one, yet in reality, his importance to Xiong Ting Bi akin to being one of his arms.
The Northeast regions were famous for their production of white gold and exceptional bronze, compelling Xiong Ting Bi to suddenly decide that he wanted to have a noble sword custom made. He therefore asked Yue Ming Ke to be in charge of accomplishing this task. But it was also at this time that rumours started to drift in from the capital. It was said that because officials such as Fang Cong Zhe and Liu Guo Jin were jealous of the trust and military power that the Emperor has bestowed upon Xiong Ting Bi, they were therefore trying to get Xiong impeached by the imperial court.
Therefore upon Xiong’s order, Yue Ming Ke returned to the capital in order that he may investigate into what the situation was and help Xiong Ting Bi make the necessary arrangements in case anything was to happen. That was one reason behind his trip, but Yue Ming Ke was also planning to take this opportunity to try and seek out a suitable sword-maker who would be willing to travel to the borders in order to help Xiong Ting Bi make his sword.
When Yue Ming Ke arrived in the capital, he was able to discover that though the conspiracy was indeed in the midst of festering, yet there were still a bunch of upright and incorruptible high officials such as Yang Lian and Liu Yi Jing whom were all actively supporting and protecting Xiong Ting Bi. Therefore conjecturing that Xiong should be safe for the time being, Yue Ming Ke’s thoughts returned to the task of constructing a first-rate sword.
But all the famous sword makers were either dead or so old that they would be unable to travel such long distances. Though Yue Ming Ke was a master of the sword himself, yet he knew nothing about the art of sword making. After thinking over this matter for a long time, he suddenly remembered that amongst the various sects of the martial arts world, only the Shaolin sect has in their possession a book that discusses the art of sword making. This book was called “The One Hundred Constructive Arts of the Dragon Springs. (9) ” Yue Ming Ke immediately thought of asking the Shaolin temple’s head abbot to grant him the permission of copying out a duplicate of this book. That way, not only could he use this book to make a sword for Xiong Ting Bi, but they could also use the sterling bronze from the Northeast area to construct weapons for their military troops. Therefore taking advantage of the fact that the borders were not requiring any immediate attention at present, Yue Ming Ke hurriedly traveled towards the Xiao Shi Mountain’s Shaolin temple to express his intentions.
After Reverend Jing Ming finished explaining to Taoist Priest White Stone about Yue Ming Ke’s purpose, he then said, “This was originally a good deed, not to mention this was all conducted on behalf of Military Commissioner Xiong’s request. But the rules of Shaolin have always strictly prohibited the circulation of ancient texts to outsiders. Therefore after thinking over this for a long time, I could only ask him to come here and steal the book!” Having finished these words, Jing Ming erupted into a hearty guffaw.
The Dhyana Master Zun Xing suddenly turned towards Zhuo Yi Hang and asked, “What are the martial arts of this Yue Ming Ke like?” Zhuo Yi Hang replied, “The superiority of his martial arts is at a level more than ten times beyond that of mine!” Greatly taken back by these words, a displeased expression also simultaneously appeared on White Stone’s face.
Dhyana Master Zun Xing chuckled and said, “Brother, you are much too humble. There is a reason to why I wanted to know about the degree of his martial art skills; Even though our head abbot and I hope that he will be able to attain what he wants smoothly, yet we still can’t guarantee that our fellow sect members won’t give him a hard time. Therefore if his martial art abilities were lowly, then we will not send out our first rate fighters to guard the stations.” Taoist Priest White Stone suddenly added, “Considering Shaolin’s great fame, even if you were purposely intending to let him by, you still can’t let him obtain his goal too easily.” Zun Xing smiled and said, “Most definitely. If brother you are interested, why don’t you come along tonight and have a look for yourself?”
7) “Managing Governor of the Eastern LiaoNing Province”: Some online resources translate this position as the Managing Governor of Manchuria. The original term was actually “LiaoDeng” in which the translator believes in this case, would be more accurate to translate as Eastern (Deng) LiaoNing Province. During the end of the Ming Dynasty, a great part of LiaoNing was indeed occupied by the Manchurians (who would later construct what would become known as the “ShenYang Imperial Palace,” the Forbidden Palace of the Manchurians stationed in the city of ShenYang which was the capital of LiaoNing). As the Manchurian army grew stronger by the day while the Ming dynasty became increasingly more unstable and problematic, the Manchurians took over more and more of this province. Therefore by the time that the Qing army took over the Ming dynasty completely to officially established the Qing Dynasty and enter into the Imperial Capital, LiaoNing was basically seized by the Manchurians and claimed as their land. As a result, some translations would categorize the same area as Manchuria (for it is indeed where the kingdom of the Manchurians started to prosper), but during the time when Xiong Ting Bi was in post as a Managing Governor, the power that the Manchurians held was unlikely to be as strong as the dominance they held slightly afterwards. Therefore, the translator conjectures that it may be slightly more accurate to translate LiaoDeng as simply the Eastern part of the LiaoNing Province.
8) “Grand Adjutant”: The following footnote was provided through the kind help and expertise of fellow wuxia fan Laviathan: “(in the) Ming Dynasty: Canzhan Jiwu - Grand Adjutant, third in a triumvirate to whom military control of the auxiliary capital of Najing was entrusted after 1420, normally a concurrent appointment for the Najing Minister of War.
9) “Dragon Springs”: Translated from “LongQuan,” a city in the Province of ZheJiang. It was said that during the Spring and Autumn warring period, a famous sword craftsman named Ou YeZi received orders from the King of Chu to craft a sword. Arriving by the springs of the LongQuan County, Ou YeZi found the environment and atmosphere incredibly suitable for the crafting of a sword. Not only was the quiet area peaceful and undisturbed, but there were seven separate creeks that were coincidently arranged in approximation to the positioning of the seven stars in the big dipper. The water from the creek was cold and pure, thus in the end, Ou YeZi was able to construct three priceless swords of which he handed over to the Chu King who highly valued them. Of the three swords, it was the “Long Yuan” (Dragon Abyss) Sword which became the most famous. But due to political reasons, this sword was renamed as “Long Quan” (Dragon Spring) Sword during the Tang Dynasty. And because of this incident, the waters of the LongQuan Springs have longed been graced with the famous reputation of producing steel blades of superb quality.