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Thread: Legend of the White Haired Maiden

  1. #81
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    This was the work of Yue Ming Ke who was hiding behind the rock and was able to hear everything clearly. He originally thought that this was just a simple case of inner conflicts erupting between bandits and was not planning to help out either side. But when he later heard Tie Shan Hu say that this old man was surnamed Jin and further heard the old man himself proclaim the name “Venomous Palms of Yin Winds,” he was secretly shocked as he thought to himself: Ha! Who would have thought that I would come across them here? Since I was unable to capture the old freak Jin, then I’ll capture his nephew first!

    Yue therefore gathered together a dirt ball and then with a flick of his fingers, struck the dirt ball smack on the pulse point of Jin Qian Yan’s wrist. The thought of Yu Luo Cha really arriving caused Jin Qian Yan to be so terrified out of his mind that his soul just about dissipated right there on the spot as he hurriedly turned around to flee.

    Black Pocks was helped up by his cronies and seeing the situation at hand become problematic he cried out, “There is nobody else here aside from this little rogue!” Jin Qian Yan turned his head back around and indeed saw only Tie Shan Hu standing there laughing to herself in cold contempt. But where was there even a trace of Yu Luo Cha’s shadow? Jin Qian Yan was petrified to the bottom of his heart and did not dare to return, but after observing the situation for a little while longer, he found that there indeed were no other strange occurrences. By then, Black Pocks’ men had already surrounded Tie Shan Hu but since they’ve encountered Tie Shan Hu’s martial arts before, they didn’t dare to strike out recklessly unless Jin Qian Yan returned.

    After Jin Qian Yan had a little time to calm himself down, he started to think: If that really was Yu Luo Cha, once she strikes out she never holds back and would have most definitely revealed herself by now to chase after me. He then also thought to: If Yu Luo Cha really was here, she comes and goes with such lightning speed that I wouldn’t be able to escape even if I wanted to! Since I’m going to die anyways, then why don’t I go back for another look just in case? Otherwise, if it really does turn out that it’s not Yu Luo Cha, then Black Pocks and his men will end up laughing at me for being such a gutless coward.

    When Tie Shan Hu saw Jin Qian Yan retreat one step at a come, she was lost at what to do and in her anxiety called out “Lian jiejie!” once again. Although Jin Qian Yan has already decided on what he was going to do, yet birds that are scared of the bow will by habit shrivel at the sound of its strings. Thus he snapped up his head and was frantically glancing all around him when he suddenly felt the stir of a light breeze, causing him to hurriedly bring up his palm and with a sweep cry out, “Dirty rat! Don’t even think about using projectiles!” But the very moment that Jin’s palm struck, a hoarse scream of pain immediately accompanied the action as he was suddenly seen to roll to the floor. By then, Yue Ming Ke has already revealed himself from behind the boulder!

    When Yue Ming Ke shot out the very first dirt ball, he was originally intent on shocking down Jin Qian Yan. But Jin Qian Yan’s martial arts actually turned out to be quite established so that even though he was struck on his pulse point, he could still manage to sustain the pain. Since Yue Ming Ke’s poison has just begun to exhibit the signs of being under controlled, he didn’t dare to execute his levitation skills in order to chase after Jin Qian Yan and could therefore only watch as he prepared to escape. Yet what was amusing was that this actually ended up making Jin Qian Yan suspicious, inducing him to return. In his heart, he was only afraid of Yu Luo Cha and didn’t know that Yue Ming Ke’s martial arts would turn out to be even more powerful than Yu Luo Cha! Thus when Jin turned back around, Yue Ming Ke already had three dirt balls within his hand and after picking up two more brittle twigs, he hurtled them out all at the same time. When the twig hit Jin Qin Yan’s right eye, it was as if he was suddenly shot by an arrow as blood immediately spurted out all over his face causing him to thrash about on the ground, screaming wildly in pain.

    Black Pocks and his cronies were all so terrified that they hurriedly fumbled about to raise their weapons. But Yue Ming Ke only unleashed a long laugh before suddenly extracting his Gliding Dragon sword from its sheath. With a round sweep, Yue brought about a mass of splintering sounds that was caused when all the weapons were shattered by the Gliding Dragon Sword! Black Pocks ignored his own physical pain and immediately rolled down the hill while Jin Qian Yan also swallowed up his pain as he jumped up and attempted to escape. But by then, Yue Ming Ke already had the tip of his blade pointed towards his throat!

    Yue Ming Ke asked, “What is your relationship to Jin Du Yi?” Jin Qian Yan replied, “He is my uncle” for the ages of the uncle and nephew were separated by less than ten years. Yue Ming Ke continued, “Fine. Then tell your uncle to bring his sword manual in exchange of you.” Jin Qian Yan asked, “What sword manual?” Yue Ming Ke snapped, “What are you still pretending for? Where is Yu Luo Cha’s sword manual?” Jin Qian Yan asked, “Huh? What does Yu Luo Cha’s sword manual have to do with you?” Yue pricked forward with his sword and a person suddenly dashed out from the mountain crevices around the corner while shouting out, “Let him go! I’ll give you the sword manual!”

    Yue Ming Ke pushed out with his left palm, striking Jin Qian Yan to the ground as he swerved his sword around to seal across his chest in anticipation of his enemy. By then, Jin Du Yi had already arrived with the same eerie grin as he snickered, “Hmph! You really want to knock on the gates of hell? Alright, c’mon on then! C’mon! The sword manual is right here, come get it if you have the guts!”

    You may be wondering why Jin Du Yi never turned around to combat Yue Ming Ke when he was being chased and only now did he finally reveal himself to challenge Yue to a fight? This was all due to the fact that the punch Jin Du Yi received from Zun Xing had caused him to sustain internal injuries, therefore preventing him from exchanging stances with Yue. It was only after he had escaped from Yue Ming Ke did he finally have the chance to sit down and generate his Qi in attempts to mend his injuries. After the duration of two hours, he was finally able to generate his Qi to his four limbs and bring the circulation of his breath back to its natural rhythm. Since he had already agreed ahead of time to meet his nephew at this very place, once his internal injuries got better, he immediately hastened here.

    Yue Ming Ke replied, “Good! I wanted to have another fight with you anyways! Don’t escape this time if you have enough guts!” and then with a flip of his wrist, his Gliding Dragon Sword suddenly whipped out as Jin Du Yi twisted his body around and retaliated with a palm as the two of them initiated an intense battle right there on the hillside.

    Since Yue was cautions of the potent deadliness in Jin’s Venomous palms, he swerved up a storm with his sword stances that showered down like tempestuous storms and raging winds, forcing Jin Du Yi to be unable to approach him. Jin Du Yi was similarly weary of the fierceness of Yue’s sword and therefore only weaved in and out from amongst the light shield of the sword, anticipating for the gap of where he could issue an attack with his palm.

    After battling for about an hour, each additional stance that Yue Ming Ke executed became faster than the last. As Tie Shan Hu watched from the top of the stone crag, all she could see was that Jin Du Yi was already completely encased amongst the sword’s gleam, causing her to be secretly in awe as she felt only absolute admiration and respect for Yue Ming Ke.

    This style of sword skill that Yue Ming Ke was executing was known as the “Wind Chasing” sword style belonging to the Tian Shan Sword Skill. Though it was an incredibly rapid and fierce force, this was actually Yue’s first time in employing it within combat. Upon executing it, he found that it indeed had the power to force Jin Du Yi into a continual and consistent mode of retreat. Yue Ming Ke was incredibly elated for this was an indication that all the gruelling work and high hopes that his ShiFu invested in the sword skill during these last twenty years were not wasted. Just this one style of the Tian Shan sword skill was already enough to be undefeated within the martial arts world! Though Jin Du Yi flitted, soared, thrashed and twisted about, his situation was clearly becoming increasingly dangerous. Yue Ming Ke ordered loudly, “Return the sword manual right away!”

    Jin Du Yi suddenly unleashed a strange whistle while he said with icy coldness, “If I don’t teach you a lesson by making you taste the bitter results of your own mistake, you’ll think that I’m afraid of you!” Thus with a transformation of his palms, the force of his attack suddenly raged with deadliness as every palm embodied along with it angry winds that howled in the air. The tip of Yue Ming Ke’s sword was shocked over to one side, greatly alarming him. After continuing the fight for a little longer, he suddenly felt his mouth to be parched and dried up while both his heart and body burned with agitation. Since this “Wind Chasing” sword skill was completely concerned with attacking, it requires a great deal of energy and because Yue Ming Ke’s injuries have just begun to show signs of rehabilitating, now after such an intense battle, his poison was immediately instigated again.

    Although Yue Ming Ke was silently crying with dismay, yet what he did not know was that Jin Du Yi was in even worse shape than he was. Ever since Jin Du Yi sustained Dhyana Master Zun Xing’s Shaolin fist, he has relied on his deep reserve of inner energy to circulate his inner Qi and mend his body so as to momentarily force down his injuries. But the majority of his internal damages still remained to be untreated. Now, in order to withstand Yue’s unbelievably fast and fervent sword attacks, he had no other choice but to force himself into generating his inner Qi. Therefore even though he was momentarily taking the lead, yet his five Zang organs and his six Fu organs (2) were already shocked and traumatized down to the core. After another little while, even his eyesight began to grow blurry.

    Amongst the clashing and clanging din of the fierce battle, Yue Ming Ke suddenly drove forward with a stance. Since Jin Du Yi had the ability to discern attacks through analyzing the sounds it emanates, he retaliated with a palm strike that once again caused the tip of Yue’s sword to swerve over to one side. Then with a hook of his left arm, he transformed his attack to the grappling technique, thus locking down Yue’s wrist. By that point, Yue Ming Ke suddenly felt an unbearable pain overcome his whole aching body as his legs weakened out from underneath him. As a result, he very instinctively drove his sword down towards the ground, but it just so happens that this would be the very move that would hit the nail on the spot!

    Jin Du Yi’s internal injuries were suddenly initiated, thus disabling his vision. Since he was unable to see anything and since Yue Ming Ke just happened to have lost all his strength, that very sword that he drove towards to the ground was both slow and weak in execution. As a result, Jin Du Yi was unable to discern clearly through sound the nature and direction of Yue’s attack, therefore ended up being stabbed right in his thigh bone. The Gliding Dragon Sword was incredibly sharp, which was why even though the driving force behind it was actually very weak, yet it still drove straight through Jin’s bone!

    With a loud roar, Jin Du Yi whooshed out two palms with mad frenzy and since Yue’s wrist was locked by his grasp, he had no means of escaping as Jin’s two palms landed smack on him, causing him to be shocked into the air like a ball of yarn! Yue’s body rocketed up high into the skies before it lost its momentum to hurtle head first towards the hard ground!

    ***************************

    2) “five Zang organs and his six Fu organs”: 5 Zang (Solid or also sometimes referred to as Yin) organs refers to the heart, liver, spleen, lungs and kidneys, while the six fu (hollow, Yang in nature) organs indicate the gall bladder, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, bladder and the triple (upper, middle and lower) warmers (the openings to the stomach, small intestine, and bladder).
    At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napolean -- and my ambition has steadily grown ever since.

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  2. #82
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    Upon witnessing this, an incredibly petrified Tie Shan Hu immediately leaped out and extended her arms to very concretely catch Yue Ming Ke within her embrace. Yue Ming Ke immediately vomited out a mouthful of blood before calling out hoarsely, “Hurry, bring the sword back to me!” Tie Shan Hu expression was one of hesitation as she asked, “Are you alright?” Yue Ming Ke snapped with anger, “Go! Go!”

    Jin Du Yi had fallen unconscious the moment he threw out those two palms while Jin Qian Yan having been blinded in one eye and having sustained a palm from Yue Ming Ke was similarly weakened with exhaustion. However, Jin Qian Yan was still able to move about and seeing his uncle fainted on the ground, he called upon all his strength to come forward in rescue.

    Tie Shan Hu picked up the prized sword and with a whoosh, drew out a streak of silver ray immediately followed by another stance that caused a nearby rock boulder to ignite into sparks of fire while the chunks of rocks spewed out all around them. She was afraid that Jin Qian Yan would attack Yue which was why she flourished her sword in attempts to scare them off. But what she didn’t know was that Jin Qian Yan actually did not have a single ounce of strength left in him and was afraid instead that Tie Shan Hu would be chasing after him so as to settle their scores. Therefore with his uncle in his arms, he hurriedly rolled down the hill.

    Black Pocks and his men have all ran away during Yue & Jin’s battle, therefore the only people left on the foot of the Tai Shi Mountain at that time was Yue Ming Ke and Tie Shan Hu. When Tie Shan Hu ran up to him, Yue Ming Ke said, “Help me up” and having sat down crossed-legged in silent meditation, he said with wheezing hoarseness, “You leave this place first.” Tie Shan Hu ignored these instructions as Yue Ming Ke continued, “The enemy might return! You should leave this place first! Go and inform the Shaolin temple.” Seeing how he was injured so severely and yet was still concerned about her own safety first, Tie Shan Hu was extremely touched. Yue Ming Ke reprimanded, “Why aren’t you listening to me?” Tie Shan Hu has always been like a big kid and normally, if someone had spoken to her in such a severe tone, she would have most definitely thrown a temper tantrum. But now with her face streaked full of tears, she said instead with soft tenderness, “Alright, I’ll listen to you, I’m going right now.”

    Although Yue Ming Ke tried to generate his Qi with devout concentration, yet his injuries were simply too severe and he just couldn’t circulate his breath around. He sat there for a while and by the time he opened up his eyes, the skies had already grown light and the first sight he was greeted to was Tie Shan Hu standing near him with the prized sword in her hand as she guarded beneath a cedar tree.

    Yue Ming Ke asked, “Why didn’t you leave?” Tie Shan Hu immediately jumped towards him and twisted her little mouth into a pout as she asked, “Why are you being so unreasonable?” Yue Ming Ke asked back, “How am I being unreasonable?” Tie Shan Hu replied, “You saved my life, so why won’t you allow me to do something back in return and stand guard over you? Are you the only one who’s allowed to be the valiant hero around here?” Yue Ming Ke had no argument to retort these words and therefore tried to move his limbs around instead, but he was overwhelmed by an unbearable aching pain and felt as if his whole skeleton was shattered. Tie Shan Hu offered, “I can carry you back to the Shaolin temple on my back!”

    When Yue Ming Ke looked over at her, he was immediately reminded that she was a girl disguised as a boy and therefore shook his head to say, “There’s no need” as he returned to his silent meditation in attempts to generate his Qi again. Tie Shan Hu was thinking to herself: Why does this person enjoy so much in giving others a hard time? She was of such childlike directness that she did not realize that Yue Ming Ke was refusing her offer because he was taking into account of the social proprieties between a male and female.

    But even after sitting for a very long time, Yue Ming Ke was still unable to circulate his Qi around to heal his injuries. Not only that, but even the very act of breathing was proving itself to be an increasingly difficult task. This was a result of him having eaten nothing all night compounded with the fact that his injuries were simply too serious, thus leaving him unable to use his internal energy as a method of ameliorating his own injuries. When he opened his eyes again, Tie Shan Hu was still guarding silently by his side. Yue Ming Ke sighed and Tie Shan Hu immediately said, “C’mon, let me carry you on my back.” Yue Ming Ke didn’t say anything in reply and therefore with a relieved grin, Tie Shan Hu threw him on her back and slowly walked towards the Shaolin temple.

    Although Shaolin’s monastery inspector, the Dhyana Master Zun Xing has also sustained one of Jin Du Yi’s palms, yet he also had a very deep reserve of inner energy that was above that of even Jin Du Yi’s. Furthermore, he also had the Minor Rejuvenation Pills to aid in dissipating the poison and regulating his Qi, thus freeing him from all harm after just one night’s rest.

    Having observed that Zun Xing will be fine, Taoist Priest White Stone and his sister thus expressed their intentions of departing early the next morning. Zhuo Yi Hang remarked, “I wonder how Brother Yue is doing? Why is it that he still hasn’t returned yet?” Taoist Priest White Stone said, “I’m afraid that he’ll have to chase on for a few dozen more miles before he could capture that old freak Jin.” Zun Xing also added, “That old freak was hit by one of my divine fists, I doubt that he would be Sir Yue’s match.” These words reassured Zhuo Yi Hang even though he still wanted to wait around for Yue’s return. Yet since Taoist Priest White Stone wanted to depart, Zhuo of course had no other choice but to follow after him. But in truth, Taoist Priest White Stone really had another prospect in mind. He wanted to bring his daughter along with Zhuo and him as they journeyed towards the capital because he felt that this would allow the two of them to spend some more private time together and thus get further acquainted with each other. Therefore if they suddenly had an extra Yue Ming Ke tag along with them, the situation would be far less ideal.

    With Yue Ming Ke on her back, Tie Shan Hu finally managed to arrive at the Shaolin temple by the noon hour. After the admittance monk went inside to report their arrival, the Dhyana Master Zun Xing personally came out to receive them. But upon taking one look at the situation, he was so alarmed that he hurriedly asked Tie Shan Hu for the details of last night. After Tie finished explaining, he sighed and said, “Our head abbot is so compassionate. But in the end, it only inflicted unnecessary pain on Sir Yue.”

    He then hurriedly brought Yue Ming Ke inside the inner meditation rooms and fed him with first grade ginseng soup before feeding him three minor rejuvenation pills. When the Reverend Jing Ming came in for a visit and noticed Tie Shan Hu standing by one side to take care of Yue, he suddenly instructed, “There’s no need for you to be here.” Tie Shan Hu was taken back by surprise but the Dhyana Master Jing Ming simply continued, “He only needs to rest in peace and quiet for two days in order to recover. I will be giving you a letter of which you can bring to the Abbess Ci Hui living on the peak of the Tai Shi Mountain. She will let you stay with her. You can come back to the front doors of the temple and meet up with him after two days.” Realizing now that the old monk has seen through her real identity, Tie Shan Hu’s almond shaped face instantaneously blushed to a deep red as she hurriedly departed after taking his letter.

    After Tie Shan Hu left, Dhyana Master Zun Xing walked out of the meditation room with his martial arts brother while whispering softly, “The martial arts of that Yue Ming Ke is not only profound and powerful, but he also harbours extraordinary promise and a heroic spirit that is rooted deep within him. When you put Zhuo Yi Hang and him beside each other, it further accentuates their distinct superiority, for both youngsters are phenomenal talents that one rarely ever has the chance of encountering. But who would have thought that his behaviour would actually turn out to be so unruly? Our Shaolin’s religious practice was almost soiled by him! If brother you didn’t manage to discover that she was a girl, we might have let her stay in the same room with Yue Ming Ke. Then if word of this gets out, wouldn’t it end up being the laughing stock of the martial arts world?” Reverend Jing Ming sighed faintly and said, “I was not concerned about this.”

    Dhyana Master Jing Ming continued, “Matters are assessed differently in serious and non-serious situations. Since he was injured so severely, it matters not whether it was a male or female who brought him to here. In such times, there is no need to insist on such strict proprieties between a male and female. And if there really wasn’t anybody to take care of him, then even if they had to share one room together, that will still be acceptable.” Zun Xing asked, “Then what are you sighing over honoured brother?” Jing Ming replied, “Yue Ming Ke has quite an intuitive understanding of the Dharmic intelligence. I feel that not only can he become a master of the sword, but he also has the potential of being a revered monk. I was just worried that he’ll end up falling into the trap of love’s net.

    Let’s put aside the private discussions of Reverend Jing Ming and his brother for now and turn our attention to Yue Ming Ke. After undergoing two full days of rest and recuperation, Yue’s poison was completely eradicated. His injuries have similarly healed so that aside from having not retained his full strength yet, all his other bodily functions have returned to normal. The early morning of the third day, the Reverend Jing Ming passed a hand-written duplicate of the “The One Hundred Constructive Arts of the Dragon Springs” onto Yue before leaving him with a few words, “All 84 000 methods of Buddhism leads back to the Pure Land. The wonderful virtue in the sands of the Ganges’ will forever exist in the fountain of the mind. If ignorance can be abolished, enlightenment will be realized.”

    After Yue Ming Ke performed obeisance and departed from the temple, the first thing he saw when he exited outside the temple’s gates was Tie Shan Hu waiting for him with a smile on her face. Thinking back to how she had carried him on his back, Yue Ming Ke couldn’t help but feel a little embarrassed as he asked, “How come you’re here?” Tie Shan Hu replied, “One: to check up on you and Two: to say thank you.” Yue Ming Ke said, “I also have to express my gratitude to you. Where are you planning to go?” Tie Shan Hu asked back, “Where are you going?” Yue Ming Ke replied, “I’m going to Beijing.” Tie Shan Hu grinned and said, “I’m also going to Beijing.” Yue Ming Ke was a little surprised as he asked, “You’re going to Beijing as well?” Tie Shan Hu quipped, “Yup! So we should travel together.” Since Yue Ming Ke had no reason to object, he could therefore only agree.
    At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napolean -- and my ambition has steadily grown ever since.

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    The two of them thus traveled Northbound together. Tie Shan Hu was full of childlike exuberance and would chat with Yue Ming Ke about anything and everything. But the only subject she wouldn’t talk about was her father, which Yue found quite perplexing. Having observed how she treated him like an older brother, those slight traces of discomfort and unease that Yue initially felt gradually dissipated.

    Although Tie Shan Hu may seem to be like an ignorant little girl who has not yet outgrown her childhood, yet because she has accompanied by her father’s side ever since she was a little child as they roamed towards the South and traveled throughout the North, she has therefore become quite acquainted with the worldly matters of the JiangHu world. All along their journey, they repeatedly came across figures of the JiangHu world, riding past their horses as they hurried towards the North.

    One day, when they came to HeBei’s major city HanDan, the two of them wandered into the street market area where Tie Shan Hu suddenly whispered, “There’s a tavern up ahead where a leader of the Black societal clans will be found.” Yue Ming Ke warned, “Don’t interfere with other people’s matters” but Tie Shan Hu said, “Can you come take a look with me? This person’s status is quite exalted. I’m afraid that all the JiangHu figures we’ve encountered during the last two days will have to bow down to this person in acquiescence.” Yue Ming Ke asked with surprise, “How do you know?” Tie Shan Hu replied, “Look over there. Drawn on the corner of that tavern wall is the picture of a plum blossom right? Count how many petals are on the flower.” Yue Ming Ke went in a little closer and then answered, “Twelve petals.” Tie Shan Hu continued, “That’s it then. That plum blossom functions as secret symbol where the number of petals on the flower determines one’s hierarchy. The most that one flower can have is only thirteen petals. Since this plum blossom has twelve petals, it is already quite a rare sighting in the JiangHu world!” Yue Ming Ke thus said, “Alright. Then we’ll go in and have a look. But you must promise not to behave recklessly or cause any trouble!”

    The two of them entered into the tavern and sat down at one of the vacant tables. Yue Ming Ke’s eyes wandered about the room and suddenly came across two people sitting by the window of the Eastern corner with their hats pulled down very low over their faces. One of them looked incredibly familiar. A shock suddenly jolted through Yue’s heart that brought him to his feet while an alarmed Tie Shan Hu cried out, “Brother, what are you doing?” But Yue Ming Ke just made a beckoning gesture with his hands and then said, “Waiter, prepare a jug of Dragon Well tea for me!” then with another wave of his palms, he blew the hat right off the head of that mysterious person. Yue Ming Ke then suddenly flitted over two tables and grasped down while shouting, “Ying Xiu Yang you old bandit! Do you recognize who I am?”

    That person suddenly revealed a tassel whip and curled it towards Yue’s wrist. Tie Shan Hu was left in a state of total confusion for she was thinking: He was the one who told me not to cause any trouble, but why is it that he would end up causing trouble himself?”

    How was Tie Shan Hu supposed to know that this man was the big villain who was secretly conspiring with the Manchurians and that he was the same head leader who once organized the “Seven Greats Formation” to surround Yu Luo Cha on the highest peak of Hua Shan? That year, when Yue Ming Ke was secretly helping out Yu Luo Cha, he just happened to come across him.

    Although Ying Xiu Yang’s martial arts were actually very good, yet upon encountering Yue Ming Ke he was still quite frightened. He tried to attack with one sweep of his tassel whip but was unable to succeed. By then, Yue’s left palm has already arrived. With a loud grunt, Ying lifted up the table to ward off the attack, thus causing all the cups, plates, drinks and food on the table to hurtle towards Yue. Yue Ming Ke managed to escape out of the way with just one leap, but Ying Xiu Yang has already jumped out the window and landed onto the streets below. Ying Xiu Yang’s accomplice had no idea how powerful Yue was and actually dared to rush forward in attempts to obstruct Yue. By grasping onto the skin of the man’s scalp, Yue flung him down towards the middle of the street!

    By the time that Ying Xiu Yang’s feet landed on the street, Yue Ming Ke has already caught up to him with his Gliding Dragon Sword glittering out icy rays as it continually attacked. Ying Xiu Yang had no other choice but to tough it out and thus with a swing of his tassel whip, he turned around to battle.

    Ying Xiu Yang’s tassel whip could be used as a 5-element sword as well as an acupoint-sealing device which also had the ability to entangle or snatch away swords and sabres. But though his stances were originally brilliant, yet Yue Ming Ke’s Heavenly Mountain Sword skill was simply too profound and boundless, compounded with the gold splintering and jade fracturing ability of the Gliding Dragon Sword, Ying Xiu Yang’s bronze-like tassel whip suddenly paled greatly in comparison.

    Such a ferocious fight between the two fighters in the middle of the street had already caused all the pedestrians to flee in fright and all the stores to bolt up their doors. Every additional stance that Yue executed was faster and more pressing than the last, forcing Ying Xiu Yang to be backed up to the point of where he only had the ability to defend and no longer to retaliate.

    Just as they were caught in this intense battle, sounds of gongs were heard to clear the streets as eight mighty steeds marched out. Eight eunuchs marched at the very back of the group banging against their gongs. In the middle of this entourage was a governmental carriage. Ying Xiu Yang cried out, “Come quickly and catch this malicious criminal!” Eight imperial guards instantaneously leaped down from their horses to simultaneously surround Yue Ming Ke. They all seemed to be very well acquainted with Ying Xiu Yang for they took turns in greeting him.

    Yue Ming Ke immediately recognized the trickiness of this situation for even though he was not afraid of these imperial guards, yet he was the secret envoy sent back to the capital by Military Commissioner Xiong. If he caused too much commotion, then this might end up creating some unnecessary inconveniencies or unwanted problems. Therefore after faking an attack with a swipe of his sword, he flitted away with a twist of his body. Even if all those people wanted to chase after him, they wouldn’t have had the ability to catch up.

    After Yue soared over two long streets, Tie Shan Hu suddenly jumped out of a dark corner and giggled, “Hey! Why did you just cause trouble back there?” Yue Ming Ke laughed and replied, “You’re quite clever! How’d you know to wait here for me ahead of time?” Tie Shan Hu answered back, “Well I knew that you wouldn’t be their match so of course I had to run away first!” Yue Ming Ke remarked, “It’s not that I wasn’t their match …” causing Tie Shan Hu to cackle with amusement as she said, “I was only kidding with you! What are you being all serious and anxious about? I know it’s not that you weren’t able to defeat them, but you were only concerned about those guards right? Hey, did you know who was sitting in that carriage?” Yue Ming Ke asked, “Who?” and Tie Shan Hu answered, “A little girl who’s now all grownup!” Yue Ming Ke scoffed, “Nonsense!” but Tie Shan Hu insisted, “Who’s kidding with you? I just asked around and found out that sitting in that state carriage was the daughter of the royal prince’s wet nurse! This wet nurse of the royal prince is known as Madam Ke and they say that she is extremely doted on by the new lord. Right after he ascended the throne, he specifically sent an entourage to her native land in order to escort her daughter here.” Yue Ming Ke asked, “What? What new lord are you talking about?” Tie Shan Hu replied, “The old Emperor has already died and now the crown prince has ascended the throne!”

    When Yue Ming Ke departed the capital the old emperor was already incredibly sick, but he didn’t expect him to pass away so soon. Yue heaved out a big sigh that caused Tie Shan Hu to ask, “What’s wrong? What good has the old emperor ever done for you that would cause you to be so saddened over his death?” Yue Ming Ke answered, “I’m not saddened because of the old Emperor. But there’s no point in discussing these matters of state and country.” With an angry “Hmph,” Tie Shan Hu huffed, “I know. It’s because you think I’m still a little kid so you think I’m not entitled to listen in on these matters of state and country right?” Yue Ming Ke answered, “No, it’s not that,” but just when he was about to continue, he suddenly saw a troop of soldiers come out from a side street, forcing Yue to hurriedly grab Tie Shan Hu by the hand and flee from the place.

    The two of them ran all the way to the outskirts of the capital before they stopped. Yue Ming Ke remarked, “After causing this ruckus, we should try to hide out for a while” before he continued to explain, “I originally thought that the crown prince was a worthy and competent ruler who would be even more scrupulous and diligent once he ascends the throne. But who would have thought that he would behave like this? Even a wet nurse is indulged upon like this! Forget how such actions have already violated the rules and regulations of our ancient ancestral system, but what I can’t further believe is how even villains were allowed to infiltrate into the palace! I pity how Military Commissioner Xiong and Brother Zhuo’s good intentions have been wasted.”

    That year, when Zhuo Yi Hang discovered that there were spies amongst the palace guards, he entreated Yue Ming Ke to relate this information onto the Emperor. It was because of this reason that Yun Yan Ping and Qin Qian Yan had to escape out of the palace for fear of having their conspiracy being revealed. Although Ying Xiu Yang was not an imperial guard, yet his name was also mentioned in the imperial courts. It’s hard to believe that once the old Emperor dies, even Ying Xiu Yang would have the guts to not only appear in public again but would furthermore dare to associate with the imperial guards!

    After this incident, the two of them took pains to be extra cautious as they went around the big cities such as ShiJiaZhuang and BaoDing before they snuck into Beijing. Yue Ming Ke brought Tie Shan Hu to Military Commissioner Xiong’s good friend, the government official Yang Lian’s home. It was there that they were informed about the details on how the Emperor Shen Zong has passed away more than a month ago and how the crown prince Chang Luo has now ascended the throne and took the regnal name of Guang Zong.

    Yang Lian remarked, “There are two strange happenings which have been shocking the capital recently. One, being the strange illness that was contracted by the crown prince right after he ascended the throne. Under the examination of the imperial doctors, they have diagnosed it as dysentery. But treating the ailment with the usual formulas used in treating dysentery has proved to be unsuccessful. It has now been a whole month and the Emperor has still been unable to attend the daily court meetings!” Yue Ming Ke remarked, “The Crown Prince has practiced some martial arts in the past and his body has always been quite healthy. Why would he suddenly contract such a strange disease? What is the second strange case then?”

    Yang Lian replied, “Recently, there have been many strange disappearances of young men within the capital. Included amongst these disappearances are even members of the rich and powerful! The Military Commandant of the Nine Gates (3) has already ordered for a thorough and serious investigation, but they have still been unable to turn up with any results. Don’t you think that this is all very strange?” Yue Ming Ke remarked with perplexity, “If it was young girls who were disappearing, then we could at least deduce that it was the works of rapists and abductors. But men disappearing? That is very strange indeed.”

    After talking for a while, Yue Ming Ke asked, “What is the situation with Military Commissioner Xiong’s case?” Yang Lian replied, “Right after you left the capital last time, a few Censor-in-chiefs (4) submitted to the Emperor official charges against Military Commissioner Xiong. In charge of this case is the vice-minister of the War Department Liu Guo Jin and the Censor-in-chief Yao Zong Wen, while the person who wrote the document is the Censor-in-chief Feng San Yuan.”

    Yue Ming Ke snorted with disgust and said, “That Liu Guo Jin used to be stationed at the Eastern LiaoNing Provinces as a Grand Adjutant. But he was avaricious and debasing the country’s laws, therefore Military Commissioner Xiong reported this to the Emperor who then had him sent home. Because of this incident, he has always harboured hatred and resentment at heart. As for that Yao Zong Wen, he’s even more despicable for he was trying to extort from our honoured Military Commissioner and requested Commissioner Xiong to give him three of the best Purple Mink Fur. But you know how Military Commissioner Xiong is an official who is as honest and pure as water, how would he be able to afford first-grade mink fur? Therefore, he could only transfer onto Yao the one piece of mink fur that was given to him and of which he hasn’t even worn yet. But that Yao Zong Wen actually has the audacity to secretly complain that we were trying to insult him! As for Feng San Yuan, I’m not familiar with his background but I’ve heard that he is in opposition to the righteous DongLin Group (5) so it can be conjectured that he’s no good either.”

    Yang Lian added, “This person has one powerful pen though. He wrote an incriminating document that actually accuses the Military Commissioner Xiong of eleven crimes – eight of which accuses Military Commissioner Xiong for being inept and thus detrimental to our country while three crimes charge him of deceiving the Emperor and his superiors.” This caused Yue Ming Ke to erupt into loud laughter as he said, “That’s strange. They actually have the audacity to say that Military Commissioner is inept and detrimental to our state? But the Manchurian troops have now been forced to retreat to XingJing, and exactly whose achievement is that? Every time that Xiong TingBi makes any changes or reforms, he would write a report and send it to the capital. Despite having military power in his possession and the Royal Sword in his hands, he still wouldn’t dare to take any advantage of this, so how can that he be charged as ‘deceiving the Emperor and superiors’?!” Yang Lian said, “That’s why I say that this Censor-in-chief Feng has one powerful pen. He has the ability to completely twist the truth around and turn what is white into black. People like us would have never been able to write such a document.” After a short pause, he continued, “But you don’t have to worry. The Emperor has been sick for more than a month now and these unread reports have all accumulated to one side. Besides, although there are indeed many bad seeds in the courts yet there are still quite a good number of upright gentlemen.”

    That night, Yue Ming Ke’s heavy heart was full of indignant anger which inadvertently induced him to consume large amounts of alcohol as a means of drowning his sorrows. He ended up drinking to the point of being stinking drunk. The next morning, he suddenly detected that there was someone sitting by his beside, blowing small puffs of cool air directly onto his forehead.

    **********************

    3) “Nine Gates”: A symbolic reference to the Imperial Capital City.

    4) “Censor-in-chief”: An official belonging to the department in the imperial government that was responsible for overseeing or investigating into the conduct and misbehaviour of officials. Headed by one or two censor-in-chiefs, they also worked along with vice-censor-in-chiefs. Their reports to the Emperor about officials’ misconduct have the power to influence or cause their impeachment.

    5) “DongLin Group”: Also known as the DongLin Faction/Society/Academy of Classical Learning, the term “DongLin” literally translates as “East” (Dong) “Forest/Woods” (Lin). The group originated from a group of scholars who shared similar political views and ideals of reform, Confucian morality, defending against foreign invaders, taking a true concern to the troubles of common peasants and eradicating the corrupt officials to establish a non-corrupt government system. A group of scholars (who later became to be known as the DongLin 8 Scholars) held classes and organized meetings at the DongLin Academy, a school in the Jiangsu city during the WanLin’s (aka Shen Zong’s) period of reign. This group eventually became an organized community (with an official declaration of their mission) that grew in power and numbers to become a crucial force in combating against corruption. The DongLin Group rose significantly in power when they assisted ShenZong’s grandson (ChangLuo’s 16 year old son Zhu YouJiao) in ascending the throne, but coming across the opposition and political attacks of the Eunuch Wei ZongXian’s faction, the DongLin faction eventually lost power and many of its members (including the official Yang Lian) suffered a dreary fate when Wei ZongXian distorted the truth to somehow tie the “3 strange cases of the Ming Dynasty” to this group.
    At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napolean -- and my ambition has steadily grown ever since.

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    Default .....

    When Yue turned around for a look, he discovered that it was Tie Shan Hu. Yue laughed and said, “Stop fooling around,” whereas Tie Shan Hu replied, “Look at you – a practitioner of martial arts and drunk out of your mind! You were out like a dead log and wasn’t even able to detect that someone has actually approached your side! Aren’t you embarrassed? Good thing it was only me, if it was that so-called female rapist who abducted you away, then oh my!” Yue Ming Ke scoffed, “Nonsense!” Tie Shan Hu retorted back, “What nonsense? Didn’t you hear Official Yang say that there have been many disappearances of young men in the Beijing area these days?” Yue Ming Ke scolded, “A girl should watch the kind of words that comes out of her mouth – your words are much too uninhibited. If you continue to spew such nonsense, I’ll have to give you a beating.” Tie Shan Hu stuck her tongue out at him and scoffed, “Alright! Even if there weren’t any female rapists you should still get up you know.”

    With a smile, Yue Ming Ke got out of his bed and said, “Today I will be visiting Brother Zhuo. I believe he should have arrived in Beijing by now but you stay here in this house. I’m afraid that Taoist Priest White Stone might have some grudge against you and your father.” Tie Shan Hu snickered, “I wouldn’t go even if you asked me to. From what I can see, that Zhuo Yi Hang is not much of a true friend.” Yue Ming Ke immediately pulled out a long face as he asked, “What?” Tie Shan Hu giggled and asked, “You’re angry because I’m talking about your friend aren’t ya? Let me ask you, if he really was a true friend, then why didn’t he come along to help you out that night at the Shaolin temple?” Yue Ming Ke replied, “He did chase after us, it’s just that he didn’t catch up.” Tie Shan Hu remarked, “Even if he couldn’t catch up he should still have continued to chase on. I think the truth is, he simply doesn’t care about you enough.” Yue Ming Ke snapped with anger, “I don’t want to hear you bad-mouth other people with such slanderous talk.” When Tie Shan Hu observed that Yue really was angry this time, she answered with a pout, “Fine. I won’t say anymore then.”

    After Yue finished his breakfast, he then went by himself to the DaiFangJia HuTong’s ShaanXi Guild Hall to ask about Zhuo Yi Hang. As he approached the DongChanAn Street, a horse carriage suddenly loomed out in front of him and throttled by. All around the horse carriage were silk embroidered decorations that added to its lavish opulence. Sitting within the carriage were two people dressed in yellow. As the carriage lumbered right past Yue, he seemed to have vaguely heard the person in the carriage say, “What a handsome young man!” Not taking much notice of it, Yue then arrived to the ShaanXi Guild Hall and asked around to discover that Zhuo Yi Hang had indeed arrived in the capital two days ago and was now staying at his father’s colleague, the Minister of the Personnel Department Yang Kun’s house. After asking for the address of Yang Kun’s mansion, Yue then hurried over there but Yang’s housekeeper reported back to him that, “Young master Zhuo has been extremely busy during these last two days. Yesterday he entered into the palace in hopes of seeing the Emperor. But since he was unable to see the Emperor, he has therefore gone back again today.” Yue Ming Ke asked, “When will he be back?” The housekeeper replied, “That I don’t know. Why don’t you come back at night and ask again?”

    With a troubled and frustrated heart, Yue Ming Ke retreated outside. Yang Kun’s mansion was located right by the LiuLiChang (6), a classical antiques street in Beijing famous for its paintings and calligraphy art market that often attracts many of the literati, artists, passing scholars on their way to an examination or other wealthy lords. Yue Ming Ke was passing by there when he suddenly discovered that the very horse carriage he had just encountered a while ago was also stationed outside the market. The weather was beautiful that day and yet the amount of people who were browsing through the market was actually not very numerous.

    Yue Ming Ke went into the Rinsing Stone Exhibition Room to look over some paintings, but after glancing around once, he realized that there really weren’t many real treasures and so just picked up one of Wen Zheng Ming’s creations, the flower-and-bird painting for a look. Suddenly someone was heard to remark beside him, “What do you see in this painting?”

    With a glance, Yue discovered that it happened to be one of the yellow-robed men from the horse carriage who had just spoken to him. He thus answered “Wen Zheng Ming’s work is not bad” while one of the yellow-robed men remarked, “Wen Zheng Ming is one of the Four Masters belonging to the early period of our dynasty. His paintings of course could not be considered as bad. But this one you have in your hand is most definitely not his best work. Your unworthy brother I have in my collection one of his masterpieces. If you, my brother are a fanatic of his paintings, then I am willing to show you the ‘Travelling by the Sacred Red Cliff’ (7) painting that he collaborated with Xie Shi Chen in order that you may also have the chance of appreciating his greatness.” The painting just mentioned by this man was one of Wen Zheng Ming’s prized works that was created during his later years and was considered as a treasured commodity in the realm of art collections. When Yue heard this, he was extremely surprised to hear that this man would be willing to invite a complete stranger over to his house to appreciate a famous painting.

    The man in the yellow garment continued, “There are some people in this world who if they have any famous paintings and calligraphy arts in their possession will hoard over them like sacred treasures and are unwilling to reveal them to others. But your humble brother I do not agree with such an attitude. If antiques and famous paintings could not be appreciated along with other fanatics, then where is all the enjoyment?” Yue Ming Ke thought to himself: this person’s passion for the arts is quite adorable.

    Yue was also thinking to himself: since he was possessive of martial arts, even if any incidents did occur, there was still nothing to be afraid of. Therefore he may as well take half a day off and follow them to their home for a look. Yue Ming Ke thus answered, “Since Brother you are kind enough to extend such an honourable invitation, then don’t mind it if your humble brother I accept your gracious offer.”

    When they introduced themselves to each other, Yue found out that the two men were surnamed Wang and Lin. After they entered into the carriage together, the one surnamed Lin took out an emerald snuff bottle and handed it over to Yue Ming Ke saying, “This snuff bottle is an import from the West. The scent is not too bad.” Yue Ming Ke expressed his thanks and said, “Your humble brother I am only an unsophisticated person who does not know how to appreciate such luxuries.” Then the one surnamed Wang took out a pipe filled with spring tobacco, inducing Yue Ming Ke to say, “Your unworthy brother is also not acquainted with alcohol or tobacco.” In truth, he did drink alcohol, but now being in the presence of strangers, he wanted to take extra caution which was why he said such words.

    The man surnamed Wang puffed on his pipe, blowing out one great cloud of smoke after another. Yue Ming Ke found the smell quite repulsive and was feeling quite annoyed when the Wang fellow suddenly blew a mouthful of smoke straight into the direction of Yue’s face, causing Yue Ming Ke to be suddenly filled with nauseating dizziness as he roars, “What are you doing?” The Wang fellow again blew another thick cloud of smoke towards him and this time Yue felt as if the whole world was spinning around uncontrollably. He struck out with his palm while shouting, “Dirty rats! How dare you use such despicable tricks?” But by then, the two men have already jumped out of the horse carriage so that Yue’s palm was unable to land on his target as he fell unconscious and crumbled to the floor of the carriage.

    Yue Ming Ke wasn’t even sure exactly how much time had past before he gradually began to awaken. But when he came to his senses, he noticed that there was a faint fragrance that enveloped around him. His bones were aching and his muscles were limb, but when he opened up his eyes, he found that he was lying on top of a brocaded mattress and on the bedside table was a small incense stove that was emanating trails of smoke. The room he was now in was decorated with an unbelievably opulent splendour, with a hanging gorilla fur and a suspending Mirror crafted in JianChang. On the wall was a scroll of painting that featured figures and a landscape that was so striking and realistic that it seemed as if it was ready to leap out of the page and enter into life. Yue Ming Ke’s eyes were sharp and after a careful examination found that it really was the “Travelling by the Sacred Red Cliff” painting that was created under the co-operation of Wen Zheng Ming and Xie Shi Chen. Yue Ming Ke felt as if he was lost in a dream or wallowing in an illusion, until his heart suddenly skipped a beat when Tie Shan Hu’s warnings of the “female rapist” suddenly rang in his head. He thought to himself: Her words couldn’t possibly end up coming true could they? But after thinking over this possibility, he laughed at himself for being so silly for how could a “female rapist” have such an extraordinary luxurious and lavish room?

    Yue Ming Ke tried to turn his body around, but felt his four limbs to be both weak and aching as he thought to himself: those few gulps of smoke were really powerful! Even my martial arts were not enough to withstand it. He then struggled to prop himself up into a cross-legged sitting position before he began to generate his inner energy. After a little while, his blood and breath gradually came to circulate about naturally as it coursed through his whole body and brought about a wave of relief to every single one of his bones.

    *************

    6) “LiuLiChang”: The name of this street literally translates as “Glazed Tile/Glass (LiuLi) Factory (Chang).” Known as the Antique Street, this market was famous for its art market especially during the Ming and Qing dynasty (when this story takes place). In the 1950s, this market was restored and expanded by the government.

    7) “Traveling by the Sacred Red Cilff”: One of Wen Zheng Ming’s “Red Cliff” series paintings. The following link leads to the one mentioned in this book: http://www.cnarts.net/cweb/arts/yish.../big/143-1.jpg (1st half) and http://www.cnarts.net/cweb/arts/yish.../big/143-2.jpg (2nd half)
    At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napolean -- and my ambition has steadily grown ever since.

    ~ Salvador Dali


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    Talking .

    Let us now turn out attention back to Zhuo Yi Hang who has along with Taoist Priest White Stone and his daughter arrived in the capital. In order to make Zhuo’s process of entering the courts more convenient, he settled down in the home of Yang Kun, the Minister of the Personnel Department. Taoist Priest White Stone and his daughter stayed in the martial arts instructor Liu Xi Ming’s house. White Stone was eager to repeatedly remind Zhuo Yi Hang, “As soon as the important matters are taken care of, we will be hastening back to the mountain. Make sure you do not take on any of those stinking job titles” to which Zhuo Yi Hang replied, “Most definitely.”

    But contrary to their expectations, the Emperor Guang Zong was bedridden within the recesses of the inner palace. The day right after his arrival in Beijing, Zhuo Yi Hang and Yang Kun took off early morning to arrive outside the gates of the Hall of Supreme Harmony where they respectfully inquired about the wellbeing of the divine lord before submitting their names and waited to be received. After waiting around for half a day, the only sight they were greeted to was the number of officials waiting to be received accumulate as the day went on. The large number of officials piled up in the Hall of Supreme Harmony and filed all the way to the outside of the Hall. The Emperor only called in one person, the official Li Ke Zhuo, leaving all the officials to be absolutely baffled. Li Ke Zhuo was only an official belonging to the second rank, for what reason would he be blessed with such a unique holy grace?

    Zhuo returned to Yang Kun’s house filled with frustration and disappointment as he thought to himself: To see the Emperor is turning out to be such a hard task, it seems that this trip will just end up being a waste of time and effort. Yet surprisingly, by nightfall, an internal security officer from the palace suddenly arrived to Yang Kun’s house and announced, “The Heavenly Lord’s sacred health has shown great improvement today. He has heard that the grandson of Supreme Commander Zhuo has entered into the capital and gives orders that he is to come to the Hall of Mental Cultivation early next morning.” Zhuo was immensely relieved upon hearing this news while Yang Kun asked, “Which imperial doctor’s miraculous formula produced such great results?” The internal security officer replied, “You would never have been able to guess. But this ailment was not cured by a doctor!” leaving Yang Kun in a state of muddled confusion.

    Whenever an Emperor falls sick, the natural custom is to have the imperial doctors be summoned in order to treat him. But if they were unable to produce a cure, then a national notice would be issued in order to enlist the help of the various regions’ famed doctors. Guang Zong has been sick for more than a month now, leaving all the imperial doctors befuddled and without a clue on how to remedy his condition. The famed doctors of all regions have also been called upon one after the other, but despite administering medicine and applying remedies, all methods have proved themselves to be ineffective. Now hearing the internal security officer say that the doctors did not administer any medicine, Yang Kun would of course be perplexed.

    The internal security officer continued, “Li Ke Zhuo has somehow fallen upon good fortune and managed to accomplish a great feat!” Yang Kun asked, “What? What accomplishment has he achieved?” The security officer replied, “He was the one who cured the divine lord’s ailment,” causing Yang Kun to exclaim with surprise, “Since when did Li Ke Zhuo know medicine? Why would the divine lord be willing to consume his medicine?” The security officer replied, “Li Ke Zhuo came highly recommended by the Prime Minister Fang Cong Zhe himself. He said that Li had a miraculous red pill that would be able to cure all ailments. Li Xuan Shi then further urged the divine emperor in consuming it.” Li Xuan Shi was the Emperor’s favoured concubine, causing Yang Kun’s eyebrows to knot together as he remarked, “Why would the Emperor listen to a woman’s words and be willing to use his sacred health to try this so-called red pill?” The security officer laughed and remarked, “But all thanks to Li Ke Zhuo’s red pill, the lord of a million years felt much better in just an hour after consuming it. He’s even got his appetite back! So the Lord of a Million years is now repeatedly praising Li for being the loyal official.” Hearing the security officer say this, Yang Kun knew it was no longer appropriate for him to comment on the matter anymore.

    Early morning of the next day, Zhuo Yi Hang and Yang Kun proceeded to the Hall of Supreme Harmony once again to wait for their names to be called. When they passed by the Meridian Gate, they bumped right into a glowing and smug Li Ke Zhuo accompanied by two attendants who waited for him outside the gates. Zhuo Yi Hang was incredibly surprised once he saw who these two attendants were. Have you guessed who they were yet? It turns out that they just happen to be the two old blokes who were whining for a duel outside the Shaolin temple gates just the other day – Hu Mai and Meng Fei!

    Hu Mai brought his hands together and said, “After honoured official finishes curing the Divine Emperor’s illness today, a promotion will be a sure thing.” Li Ke Zhuo assured, “The two of you will most definitely be getting a share of whatever advantages I obtain.” Meng Fei joyfully exclaimed, “Thank you for your generous patronage Master.” Li Ke Zhuo then whispered to them in a low voice, “The two of you must not go away. If there are any complications after the Divine Lord has consumed the medicine, I will ask the internal security officer to come out and get the two of you.” Meng Fei replied, “The Minor Rejuvenation Pill eradicates all ailments once it is consumed. Honoured official need not worry.” Li Ke Zhuo therefore proceeded through the Meridian Gate while Zhuo Yi Hang also followed after him. Meng Fei’s face bloated to the colour of beet red the moment he noticed Zhuo, but then hurriedly turned his head over to one side and pretended not to have seen him.

    This time the number of officials in the Hall of Supreme Harmony waiting to be received was even more numerous. After a while, the internal security officer came out to summon Li Ke Zhuo, Minister of the Personnel Department Yang Kun, Minister of the Rites Department Sun Shen Xing, Censor-in-chief Wang An Shun and about a dozen other officials to wait by the Tower of Manifest Benevolence. The last name to be called was Zhuo Yi Hang’s, but when the hundreds of officials witnessed Zhuo’s name being summoned despite the fact that he did not carry an official rank, they were all in respectful awe. There were some who knew that he was the grandson of the former Supreme Commander of Yun Nan and Gui Zhou Provinces Zhuo Zhong Lian, and thus began to murmur and comment amongst each other, insisting on how the Emperor was really exhibiting special favour towards him.

    The Emperor Guang Zhong was now resting inside the Hall of Mental Cultivation which was located near the Tower of Manifest Benevolence. Zhuo followed behind the crowd of officials and sat down on the chair placed at the very back of the room. The officials who were waiting to be received all crowded around Li Ke Zhuo to express their congratulations. Li Ke Zhuo was beaming when he said, “This was all due to the divine emperor’s infinite good fortune. My red pill just happened to be completed only last month!”

    The Minister of the Rites Department Sun Shen Xing remarked, “Your red pill really is a miraculous elixir from heaven. May I ask how it is prepared? If its formula could be announced to the world, then that really would be granting all living organisms with endless blessings of good fortune.” Li Ke Zhuo snickered, “You think these pills are easy to produce? It requires a thousand year old Fleece Flower Root, the Snow Lotuses of the Heavenly Mountain and the first grade Ginseng of the ChangBai Mountain as its ingredients as well as a pair of crickets who were in the midst of mating during the noon hour of the Dragon Boat Festival Day as its catalyst. I have spent over a few dozen years’ work before I was lucky enough to be able to collect together all these ingredients.” When the crowd of officials heard this, they all clucked their tongues in awe, but Zhuo Yi Hang could barely keep from laughing out when he heard Li blindly spew out such exaggerated claims for he knew that this red pill must be the Shaolin temple’s Minor Rejuvenation Pill.

    After a while, the internal security officer came out to bring Li Ke Zhuo inside and it was then that Zhuo suddenly remembered that though Hu Mai and Meng Fei have tricked away two minor rejuvenation pills, yet one of them was already swallowed on the spot. Thus there could only be one red pill left over! Assuming that the one the Emperor consumed yesterday was the real red pill, then the one being submitted today must be fake! To play around with an Emperor’s life in such a careless fashion was simply much too contemptible!

    When Yang Kun saw the anxious and worried expression on Zhuo’s face, he hurriedly asked, “What’s wrong?” Zhuo replied, “I’m afraid that Li Ke Zhuo would be blindly submitting some fake medicine.” An official standing beside Zhuo shot him an angry glance causing Yang Kun to recognize that this was a trusted man of Fang Cong Zhe, thus he hurriedly insisted, “A man that Official Fang so highly recommends most definitely could not be wrong.”

    After a while, Li Ke Zhuo came back outside with glowing face as the crowd of officials hurriedly came forward to ask about the situation. Li Ke Zhuo gloated, “My red pill is one powerful substance. Consuming just one was originally more than enough, so you can imagine what miracles consuming two can produce. The Divine Emperor’s energy has rejuvenated significantly and will be able to attend the courts to greet the various officials tomorrow!” The crowd of officials all hurriedly came forth to express their congratulations.

    But Zhuo Yi Hang was caught in a conflicting struggle between belief and disbelief. He was thinking to himself: even a real Minor Rejuvenation Pill should not have produced an effect so quickly. It was at this time that the internal security officer came out to announce, “The Divine Emperor summons Zhuo Yi Hang inside.”

    Such is: Jianghu tricksters cooks up illusion and deceit, the Lord of a million chariots’ life is fooled around with.
    At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napolean -- and my ambition has steadily grown ever since.

    ~ Salvador Dali


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    Default Post Translation Rant

    Sorry this chapter took so long in getting out ... I didn't get to spend as much time on it as I had wanted to ... and I didn't realize before that the last part would be requiring quite a bit of research!

    About the research: I had a lot of problem with translating the titles of the Officials' Rank. The online resources in this department were really deficient. But I am planning to consult this "bible" book ... which is hard to get a hold of. It's only in the reference section of the E.Asian library at my old university, so I was planning to spend a day at the library one day and research up on how to translate all the titles. Meanwhile, just take the job translations with a grain of salt and understand that some titles of the officials have not been translated (actually, I cheated on this last chapter as well ... sorry). But I figured, nobody really cares anyways (I sure don't ), so we'll move on for now.

    Also, I know that there were an overwhelming number of officials' names & titles that was introduced in this chapter. Don't worry about all those officials -- just read and move on. There will be more officals and more rankings coming up, but few are really crucial.

    Those to remember from this chapter:

    Madam Ke (the wet nurse)
    Fang Cong Zhe (the Prime Minister)
    Yang LIAN (not Yang Kun -- the guy Zhuo Yi Hang is staying with, but the guy Yue Ming Ke is staying with. He's more crucial to the rest of the story)

    And of course you should remember:
    Xiong Ting Bi (Military Commissioner Xiong -- cool man, and will soon be making his appearance! )
    Wei Zong Xian (the infamous eunuch of the Ming dynasty, very important figure in history and this story -- however, unlike what the TVB adaptation tells us, he doesn't possess any martial arts -- he's just a pudgy man who's somewhat lighter on the bottom half )

    Also, it would be nice to remember the names of the few Emperors this book touches on. Shen Zong (the one we began the novel with -- whose regnal name is Wan Li), Chang Luo (Regnal name: Guang Zong -- this guy "reigned" the throne for 2 months before he died from a red pill given to him by Li Ke Zhuo) and the 16 year old You Jiao who would soon ascend the throne (rumour has it that he was illterate -- this will be referenced in later chapters).

    All in all, the incidents of the "3 strange cases of the Ming dynasty" mentioned in this novel have more or less been taken as what happened in real history -- many of the officials I've told you to watch out for are also important historical figures that are mentioned (esp. Wei Zong Xian). The 3 strange cases have also been commented on (outside of the book) as being probably related to political struggles of power going on that time -- but what really happened and what political ties it has, have of course not been ascertained.

    The following is a link to the map of the Forbidden City:

    http://www.drben.net/TheChinaReporte...nCityMap2.html

    Hope this gives you a better idea about the spatial layout of the palace for we'll be coming back to it in the next chapter. Though Liang YuSheng wrote that the Tower of Benevolent Magnificence is close to the Hall of Mental Cultivation (which is why the officials are waiting there to be received), we see by the map that it's really not that close. Likely to be a mistake on the author's part.

    Speaking of mistakes, many thanks to those of you who left resposes, messaged or e-mailed me about the hour/"Jian" question (*low bow*) I raised last chapter. In truth, I'm still a little confused. Translating this chapter, I'm sure there's a mistake in there b/c more hours had passed during Yue & Jin battled and then even more hours past when Yue sat down in attempts to heal his injuries. But anyways, we don't have to get anal and let's just conclude that Liang scre*wed up the hours and that most writers can't do their math

    *************************

    Time for the character analysis part of the rant

    I find Yue Ming Ke to be quite an adorable character. The thing with him is that though he is powerful, smart and intelligent, yet he often makes these funny little mistakes. I think the biggest flaw w/ Yue is that he's not very good at reading others ... when he first appeared, he pissed off Yu Luo Cha right off the bat by labelling her into the "black" gangs (when he really doesn't seem to mean anything "mean" or bad about it -- unlike Zhuo and his uncles), then he inadvertently "challenged" her to a fight (thus beginning what would be a series of misunderstandings with Yu Luo Cha). When he was at Shaolin he would continually misinterpret the intentions/motives behind the monks' actions and now he misreads the character of two strangers and ends up on the bed of a female rapist. But probably the person and relationship he misreads the most: Tie Shan Hu.

    BTW., if you've seen the TVB adaptation, they have Wei Zong Xian stick this needle into Yue and this somehow controls him so he loses his memory and senses, then goes around murdering people ... no such thing in the novel. Yue is such a cool and powerful person -- he wouldn't go bonkers b/c of a needle (what a waste). But this adaptation was at least better than the Taiwanese version which cut out the character completely! (tsk tsk tsk).

    Also, I wanted to say a bit about Zhuo Yi Hang (again). Tie Shan Hu accuses Zhuo for not being a true friend b/c she thought that he didn't chase after Yue. But we all know that's not true and that Zhuo does care about Yue's well-being. So Tie's accusation is somewhat unfair to Zhuo. Later, Zhuo is also charged for being a "heartless" lover. But I also don't think that's true. I think that the problem w/ Zhuo is not that he doesn't want to be a true friend nor that he doesn't feel true love for Lian Ni Chang, but he too easily lets other things get in his way and he too easily lets himself be inhibited by external factors.

    Take chasing after Yue Ming Ke that night at the Shaolin temple -- he easily gets persuaded by White Stone (who obviously doesn't give a damn about Yue) and turns back around (which if he chased after Yue, Yue may not have ended up being placed in such a dangerous situation), he easily gets persuaded again to leave the temple the next morning even though he wanted to hang around and wait for Yue. Then in Beijing, when they're waiting to see the Emperor, Zhuo suddenly realizes that this red pill that is being submitted to the Emperor just may be a fake one -- yet he doesn't really do anything. He was ASKED what's wrong, he didn't bring up the problem. And even after he's voiced his suspicions, he doesn't go that extra step to do something about it. Which to say, the Emperor's death (he dies from this pill, that's no surprise) could have been prevented had Zhuo acted accordingly. Zhuo lacks the backbone and assertiveness of standing up on his own, thinking for himself and acting out against opposition.

    Which is ironic b/c all the Wu Tang people are so keen on having Zhuo at Wu Tang b/c they think he's their most ideal candidate for a leader (and that may be true b/c there really doesn't seem to be any "worthy" candidates), Zhuo himself has commented to himself that none of his uncles or brothers were "leader" quality ... but then neither is he! Zhuo may come across as impressive and promising, but in the end, he doesn't live up to his promise ... far from it. Though Zhuo Yi Hang and Yue Ming Ke were both praised by their seniors as being promising talents, yet in truth, Zhuo could never compare with Yue.

    *********************

    That's all I could think of to say for now. The rest of book 1 are all chapters that I enjoy -- esp. when Yu Luo Cha returns! , but at the same time, they also happen to be chapters that are tough to translate. I'll try to post the chapters in increments so you guys don't have to wait months for an update

    *********************

    Also: To C'sah & interested others: Here is a link to the translated article about the Luo Cha demons posted on the WNDF (sorry, I was too lazy to re-insert all the italics ): http://forums.cinple.net/wuxia/index.cgi?read=45413

    Hope everyone's enjoying the sunshine!
    Summer's here lah!!!!!
    At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napolean -- and my ambition has steadily grown ever since.

    ~ Salvador Dali


  7. #87
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Post Translation Rant

    Originally posted by Faerie Queene
    Sorry this chapter took so long in getting out ... I didn't get to spend as much time on it as I had wanted to ... and I didn't realize before that the last part would be requiring quite a bit of research!
    Don't apologize. We're ecstatic that you and the other translators are translating at all. Take your time, we wouldn't want you to burn out.

    As much as we'd like to chain you in front of the computer and make you translate 24 hours a day, we do recognize that you have a life outside of this.

    Again, I'd like to thank you for putting so much hard work in translating and researching this book.

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    "regnal name Wan Li"
    Hi,
    When you say the regnal name I recognize it from a book that I read, quite a while ago, called "The Wise Man from the West" by Vincent Cronin. The time period would be around the earliest part of the 1600's. It is a book about a missionary to China. That fact would go unmentioned, of course, by a purist like Liang Yusheng. The thing about that book is that there is a portrait of Wan Li and the Empress by an artist who lived in the time of this emperor. The artist had a western name: "Paul Hsu". The casting director for the recent Taiwan series (1999) of WHD did a good job of getting a good likeness for the roles of Wan Li and the empress that were in accordance with that portrait.
    Cheers,
    J
    Last edited by jotaro; 05-19-04 at 12:12 PM.

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    Originally posted by Mojo Jojo
    Don't apologize. We're ecstatic that you and the other translators are translating at all. Take your time, we wouldn't want you to burn out.
    Heh. I know I don't technically have to apologize, but I really do still feel bad when I feel like I'm not translating fast enough or if I feel like the quality's not good enough ... there's really not much anybody could do about that ... I think it's some kind of guilt complex or something

    As much as we'd like to chain you in front of the computer and make you translate 24 hours a day, we do recognize that you have a life outside of this.
    Not to mention I don't want to develop a JLo butt from sitting down in front of the computer all day (I know, so superficial ) ... I've resorted to sometimes proping my laptop ontop of my bar counter so I can stand up and translate ...

    Again, I'd like to thank you for putting so much hard work in translating and researching this book. [/B]
    The interest (and hopefully) enjoyment of readers makes it all good for me

    Originally posted by jotaro
    Hi,
    When you say the regnal name I recognize it from a book that I read, quite a while ago, called "The Wise Man from the West" by Vincent Cronin. The time period would be around the earliest part of the 1600's. It is a book about a missionary to China. That fact would go unmentioned, of course, by a purist like Liang Yusheng. The thing about that book is that there is a portrait of Wan Li and the Empress by an artist who lived in the time of this emperor. The artist had a western name: "Paul Hsu". The casting director for the recent Taiwan series (1999) of WHD did a good job of getting a good likeness for the roles of Wan Li and the empress that were in accordance with that portrait.
    Cheers,
    J
    Hi Jotaro!!! (btw., this has nothing to do w/ WHD, but every time I see your name, the theme music for "My Neighbour Totoro" goes off in my head "... totoro totoro, totoro totoro ..." um ... yeah)

    Thanks for the info ... "The Wise Man from the West" sounds kinda like one of those Colonial-themed-praised-the-great-west-in-an-improverished-country type of book ... btw your visual memory must be super amazing -- I've taken a look at the pictures of the Emperors like Wanli and Guangzhong before as well (actually, just recently) ... but they look pretty much the same to me, didn't make much of an impression ... now recalling their faces, I just remember a ... blob. So to you

    Oh, I forgot to tell you ... I made a little mistake in my remarks about the old WHD movie adaptation -- the film actually cuts off the last 5-6 chapters of the book by just stopping off at her "transformation" ... so the mountains in the movie were actually not supposed to be the backdrop to TianShan (totally my bad)

    I will be posting chapter 11 in 2 parts -- I have about 5 more pages to go for the first part and then editing -- I hope to post it by next week but ... but just got hooked up w/ a project that will probably take most of my time till mid June --- so I don't know what's going to happen, but I'll put in some turbo work during these 2 days and hopefully I'll be able to can get it out ASAP.

    and to all
    At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napolean -- and my ambition has steadily grown ever since.

    ~ Salvador Dali


  10. #90
    Senior Member Goofy's Avatar
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    Post

    Concerning Luo Cha or Rakhasa as you mentioned, if we are talking of the same term here, this Rakhasa is often major villain in Indian literatures (and those with Buddhism influence). Some use the term 'Asura' interchangeably with this 'Rakhasa' or is called simply in English as 'demon' (not the Christian type demon though). The term is generically a tribal (In religious sense implying 'the evil side' and in politic sense indicating the opposite tribe of the Arayan(a) (I forgot the exact term here, sorry) It simply indicates those that are lesser in culture and morale in ancient times

    In Ramayana, which is one of the major Indian literatures (on the same level as JTTW or RoTK in China), the story tells about the battle between human (Arayana) from the north and Asura (or Rakhasa) in the south situated in Longka (the same one as Lanka as in Sri Lanka or Ceylon).

    Rakhasa in thsese literatures are described as having large stature with scary facial structures. However, they have magic and can change into human as will. They likes to eat human (definitely not vegetarian) but also like to find sprouses from human. Curiously, the result of mating a female R with a male H (often out of magical seduction or by force) at best would produce a half man half asura whereas the features could be of human but it would have power of asura. In contrast, with a male R and a female H, the offspring seem to be a whole human (in most cases, especially if it is of female gender).


    Since I think not many people here who read Indian literatures, I humbly share some little bit of unworthy knowledge here. Hopefully, I didn't mess up that much.




    I have one comment regarding Yu Lao Cha - She must have had extremely good looking parents to come out looking this gorgeous despite living with wolves for some times - shouldn't she have some scars of sorts (thinking of Mowgli here)?

    I happen to think of Rudyard Kipling's Mowgli because both seem to have 'wilderness attractiveness' I think Yu has what Zhao lacks - loving of life, vibrancy??? and it comes from being out of strictness of society.

    I think Zhao's 'revulsion' probably comes from his inner realization that Yu is from 'evil side'. He is attractive to her yet feels guilty of it.


    When I read about Yu, I can't help thinking of Yang Guo and Yin Susu. Actually, the situation between Yu and Zhao seems to have the same setup as ZCS and YSS except that JY's wudang's elder is just not the old fools like those here.

    Was this story written before or after HSDS? Did Liang Yushen collaberate with JY at all then?


    Up to this point, I am not sure if Zhao is like ZCS in HSDS but at least, ZCS seems to be more decisive than Zhao (again his indecisive/innert reminds me of ZWJ).


    I really like Yue mingke and hope that he would have some happy ending (as oppose to some trashy tv adaptations). I enjoy reading about him more than about Zhao.

    ladies then were very easy to be impressed, weren't they? (ie a giving of a shirt)

    Thank you for your time and dedication. I really learn a lot reading your notes.
    "History's third dimension is always fiction."
    -- The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse

  11. #91
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    Red face


    I have just clicked on some links here and it seems that I just said what has already said.

    - put the pillow over my reddened face -----
    "History's third dimension is always fiction."
    -- The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse

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    hi Faerie Queene
    I would like to thanks you for translating a LYS's novel. Me being a viet, there are hardly any LYS's novel translated at least I couldn't find any on internet. I probably got check the book store next, but I doubt I would have any luck.

    I think you should just translate at a rate you desire, you don't need to rush yourself. I too sometime have alot work and actually don't even have time to read translations.

    and I would like to thanks you again

    also thanks to poster(Du gu Seeking a win, someguy44, and moinllieon, hope I didn't leave anyone out)

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    Hello,

    Farrie Queen,

    Thanks for your translation. Actually I get the VCD for this Novel three years ago as a present from one of my friend. But I was never able to understand. Now thanks to you I am enjoying the movie.
    Thanks for you great work and hope to read more.

  14. #94
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    Thumbs up HAPPY CANADA DAY!!!!!!!!!!!

    Although it's a little past midnight, I'd still like to wish all Canadians a Happy Canada Day. Hope you all got a chance to relax and chill with your loved ones today while also appreciating what an awesome country we live in I was just out for the fireworks celebration around my neighbourhood, hope the rest of you also got to catch the show closest to you

    Chapter 11

    Sighing Over Putrefying Palace Chambers
    Hero Explodes With Fury
    Cicada's Song Laments Country's Problems (1)
    Chivalric Patriot left Heartbroken


    Yang Kun reminded, “Honoured brother, take caution when responding.” Zhuo Yi Hang replied, “Thank you for your guidance honoured official” before he followed the eunuch through the long corridor to enter into the Hall of Mental Cultivation. He was greeted to the sight of the Emperor inclining on his bed with a smile on his face. Zhuo Yi Hang pressed his body to the floor in obeisance while Chang Luo insisted, “You are excused of such formalities. Bring forth a seat” to which the eunuch brought over a chair as instructed.

    Having sat down and taken a good sideways glance at the Emperor, Zhuo Yi Hang discovered that the Emperor’s face was beaming with a healthy red glow where not even a single trace of illness could be found. But this only caused Zhuo Yi Hang to be even more alarmed for it should be understood that the Emperor Tai Chang (Guang Zong’s regnal name) has already been sick for a long time. Thus even heavenly elixirs and miraculous cures would probably not have been able to eradicate all illnesses upon initial ingestion. But the Emperor has only consumed one red pill and was already glowing with a red hue! If this wasn’t a sign of that final burst of life that sometimes radiates before death, then it must be that the red pill was made up of some very potent and vehement medication that functions briefly as an intense stimulant, but will only end up bringing about greater harm in the end. Zhuo Yi Hang’s heart was filled with suspicions and fears, yet he didn’t dare to voice his concerns.

    Chang Luo continued, “I heard of your arrival yesterday, but being haunted by the demons of sickness, it was unsuitable for me to receive you. Luckily, Li Ke Zhuo has just submitted two red pills that have this uncanny ability to completely cure all illnesses upon ingestion! Otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to see you today. Look at me now and tell me, how do you think I look?” Since his attitude seemed to be extremely pleased, Zhuo Yi Hang did not dare to speak his true anxieties and could only say, “Divine Lord’s good fortune is as vast as the heavens itself, you are looking extremely well my lord. But having been sick for so long, extra caution must be taken in the future in order to preserve your good health.”

    Chang Luo drank down a flask of deer’s blood before continuing, “In regards to your case, Shi Hao has already informed me of all the details. As for the two emissaries Li and Zhou, they have already returned to the capital safely and are feeling greatly indebted to you!” Zhuo Yi Hang replied, “But I’m afraid that behind the villain who furtively attacked the two emissaries, there exists a more powerful person who is supporting him.” The personal eunuch of the Emperor shot Zhuo an angry glance, causing Zhuo to insist, “Since the revered Lord of a Million Years has just recovered, I realize that I really should not be making my Lord worry at the present moment …” A Dark cloud came over Chang Luo’s face as he said to his personal eunuch, “Go to the Emerald Glory Palace and bring forth Li Xuan Shi.”

    The eunuch lowered his hands by his sides and retreated before Chang Luo laughed and said, “Sir Zhuo, you are one who harbours profound aspirations and masterful insights. Considering the depth of your observations and the alert quickness in your comprehensions, Zan (2) would very much like to enlist your help.” Zhuo Yi Hang’s heart skipped a beat while the Emperor continued, “Are you not in suspicion of Wei Zhong Xian?”

    Zhuo Yi Hang replied, “Your humble servant is merely a common civilian who dares not to interfere with the administration of the government. But the Eastern Faction and the Imperial Bodyguards have both been bestowed to the command of the castrated, I was just afraid that the order of Lord and Servant would eventually interchange. Such threats that one’s own officials poses must not be ignored.”

    Chang Luo then continued, “In regards to you being wrongfully accused, I had intended to conduct a thorough investigation from the very start. But it’s just that ever since I ascended the zenith position of power I have been tied down to this sickbed by ill-health.” Zhuo Yi Hang replied, “My own personal injustice is nothing, it is matters that concerns the state and country that is most important.” Chang Luo added, “Which is why I’ve asked you to come here today. Wei Zhong Xian is in actuality neither loyal nor honourable, (3) did you think it possible that I would be unaware of this fact? It’s only that he holds control over the Eastern faction so that all the guards within the palace are under his command, which is why I must not be hasty or impervious in my actions. Once Zan has fully recovered and can attend the court meetings, a suitable stratagem to deal with him will most definitely be designed.” Zhuo remained in absolute silence and did not say anything in response until the Emperor suddenly asked, “Sir Zhuo, would you be willing to remain within the palace?”

    Zhuo Yi Hang replied, “Your humble servant has not yet fulfilled the filial duties of my ancestral mourning rites, therefore dares not to serve the Honoured Lord.” Chang Luo laughed and said, “I am not asking you to be an official, but would just like you to remain within the palace and teach my crown prince. You Jiao has already turned seventeen, yet he still remains to be such an impish and ignorant child.”

    When Zhuo thought of his grandfather’s last words, he was just about to refuse the Emperor’s offer when he discovered that Chang Luo has already picked up an ink brush and was beginning to write an imperial edict right on the small bedside table. Once he branded the edict with the Imperial jade stamp, Zhuo was furthermore not in a position to inhibit his actions. Just as he was in the midst of panicking, Chang Luo has already handed him the imperial edict while saying, “Tomorrow you can report to the Department of Internal Affairs and ask them to make residential arrangements for you.” Zhuo Yi Hang took over the imperial edict and then knelt down to express his gratitude before announcing, “Your humble servant still does not dare to accept Your Honour’s gracious offer.” Chang Luo was greatly surprised as he asked, “Is there still a problem that is holding you back?”

    But before Chang Luo could even finish his words, he suddenly cried out with pain as the guards standing by outside all swarmed in instantaneously. With his veins almost popping out of his face, Chang Luo wheezed, “It’s not his fault, call Li Ke Zhuo inside!” before he fainted on his bed.

    Zhuo Yi Hang’s suspicions were correct. The first red pill that Chang Luo consumed was indeed the Minor Rejuvenation Pill of the Shaolin temple. But the second pill he ingested was a fake imitation! Hu Mai and Meng Fei were both houseguests (4) of Li Ke Zhuo. Hu Mai knows a bit of the martial arts basics while Meng Fei was a JiangHu conman who specializes in producing counterfeit medicine with the purpose of tricking others. When the two of them called upon their shameless extortion in front of the Shaolin temple to trick away the two Minor Rejuvenation Pills, one of them was popped into Hu Mai’s mouth right on the spot. However, the pill was actually not ingested. Right after they left the place, Hu immediately spitted it back out and then handed it over for Meng Fei to study over its properties. Meng Fei thought he was being smart when he blindly guessed at the medicinal components of the Minor Rejuvenation Pill in order to replicate a few pills. Li Ke Zhuo only thought that they were all authentic and presented them over to the Emperor for consumption, thus instigating the “Red Pill” case known within the history of the Ming dynasty.

    Seeing Chang Luo writhe about in agonized pain with drop after drop of sweat the size of yellow-beans erupting on his forehead, Zhuo Yi Hang was thrown into a state of panic when cries and sounds of clamour suddenly drifted in from outside the Hall of Mental Cultivation. One of the guards leaped out the room in one big motion while simultaneously shouting, “Who dares to disturb the peace of the Heavenly Lord?”

    ******************************
    (1) “Cicada’s Song Laments Country’s Problems”: The Cicada mentioned in the title is called the “Tiao Tang” (or perhaps more commonly known as Tang Tiao) which is a type of cicada mentioned within the Book of Songs. Because many cicadas are known to sing their songs in the fall season and die as winter arrives, their songs are thus often interpreted with a melancholic tone of gloomy sadness and pitiful laments that are often associated with the season of autumn itself. What is interesting about the “Tang Tiao” cicada is that the sound it creates is a less lively and less chirpy tune than that of which some other cicadas sings, but rather it is a more low-pitched drone that sounds like “Wu You, Wu You.” The sound of “Wu You” made by these cicadas is thus interpreted by people as a pathetic fallacy for which the cicadas songs express the feelings of human grief as embodied by the Chinese words "Wu You" which literally means something along the lines of “It is all finished,” “It is all gone,” “It has all come to nothing.” Thus to use such a cicada in the title of this chapter, Liang YuSheng is trying to call upon the cicadas’ songs as a pathetic fallacy to lament over the degeneracy of the decrepit government. The line that directly follows is: “Chivalric Patriot left Heartbroken” which not only indicates how the noble and the chivalric hero’s grief for the country is instigated by the mournful wail of these cicadas, but also how the heartache for the decaying conditions of one’s country is reflected and echoed in the hearts of living organisms from all levels of existence – where the same song of distress is found within the heart of the hero with lofty ideals as well as in the hearts of the small cicadas.
    (2) “Zan”: The Emperor’s way of referencing himself. Instead of saying “I” they use the word “Zan” instead.
    (3) “Wei Zong Xian is in actuality neither loyal nor honourable”: The two words “Zong” and “Xian” in Wei Zong Xian’s name translates as “loyal” (Zong) and honourable (Xian).
    (4) “Houseguests”: For men with a certain amount of money and power, they sometimes kept “houseguests.” If these houseguests were able and talented men, they had the duel function of being their Lord/Host’s Aides; otherwise, they were mostly known to make a living by leeching onto their hosts, taking advantage of the free accommodations and food.
    At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napolean -- and my ambition has steadily grown ever since.

    ~ Salvador Dali


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    Angry I hate footnotes

    Now turning our attention back to Yue Ming Ke, who after awakening gradually discovered that he was situated within a room decorated with the utmost opulence and extravagance. Having sat in silent meditation for a while, his head gradually cleared but he still felt as if he was caught within the webs of a dream or illusion. It was only when he looked straight into the expensive JianChang-crafted mirror suspended on the wall directly in front of him did he discover through its reflection that he had already been changed into sleeping garments. He then suddenly remembered that when he went out this morning, he had brought his sword along with him. But looking around the room right now, he found that not only were his original clothes gone but even his sword had disappeared! It should be understood that Yue’s sword was one of the two swords created by his ShiFu on the Heavenly Mountain. Such a celestial weapon having now gone missing, how could he not be thrown into a state of panic?

    He hurriedly got up to search around the room, but just when he had gotten off his bed the large mirror hanging on the opposite wall began to gradually move to one side as the traces of a subtle fragrance seeped into the room. Behind the mirror was actually a secret passageway from which a beautiful matron stepped out behind with nimble steps and giggled, “You’ve woken up?”

    Yue Ming Ke asked, “Who are you and why did you steal my sword?” The beautiful matron burst out into loud laughter and asked, “Sword? What sword could be worthy of such a big fuss? I have plenty of priceless swords here. How many did you want?” She then proceeded to open up one of the drawers at random and immediately the glow of jewels and priceless treasures spilled out to dance in front of one’s eyes. The whole drawer was brimming with all sorts of corals, precious stones, emeralds and pearls.

    The beautiful matron originally thought that Yue Ming Ke would most definitely be thunderstruck with awe, but Yue only remarked, “Even ten times the stuff you have there could not compare with my sword!” With a disdainful laugh, the beautiful matron asked, “What’s so special about treasured swords? I have plenty here. As long as you be good and listen to me, you can have whatever you want.”

    Yue Ming Ke asked again, “Who are you?” The lovely matron laughed again and said, “Look around you, does this place seem like it would belong within the mortal bounds?” Yue Ming Ke bit down lightly on his tongue and having felt a slight pain knew that he really was not dreaming, therefore snapped, “What else could this place be? The Celestial Lunar Palace?(5) ” This caused the lovely matron to peal into a fit of laughter as she said, “Just about!” before she leaned in towards Yue, causing her alluring fragrance to become even more enticing.

    An intoxicating wave washed over Yue as he found the fragrance to induce an extremely uncanny effect. Upon inhalation, it seems to drug the spirit and weaken one’s tendons. Yue’s body gradually heated up as his blood boiled and his pulse surged, burning up his face and ears. Yue Ming Ke was thinking to himself, “Could this possibly be a demon come to test out the power of my meditation? (6) And therefore sat down in cross-legged fashion and engaged in silent meditation.

    The beautiful woman leaned against Yue Ming Ke’s body and then used her fingers to stroke his eyelids. But Yue just continued to ignore her. The beautiful woman giggled, “It’s not like you’re not a monk, so what are you meditating for?” Yue Ming Ke continued to ignore her. The beautiful matron only laughed again as she said, “I’ve heard that holy monks have eyes that are not tempted by the five colours (7) and ears that are not bewitched by the five musical tones (8). But if you don’t open your eyes, how can you ever become a true revered monk?”

    Yue Ming Ke’s heart skipped a beat as he became even more suspicious of the fact that this woman was a demon. Thus he thought to himself: Though I have not yet studied the Lotus Sutra, but the Reverend Jing Ming did say that I had an intuitive dharmic intelligence and have also related to me precious words of guidance and enlightenment. Since that is the case, I’ll take this chance to test out my power of meditation. As a result, he opened his eyes and with his eyes (9) observing his nose (10) and his nose observing his heart (11) he gathered his Qi within his elixir field and began to practice his inner energy cultivation.

    Met with no reaction from Yue Ming Ke who seemed oblivious to her, the beautiful woman was feeling quite perplexed. Therefore she took to the next step by pressing her body against Yue Ming Ke and then started to blow little puffs of air towards him. Yue Ming Ke decided to call upon the martial art technique of “The 18 Falls upon Contact with Clothing” so that with a deep breath and a thrust of his chest, he caused the beautiful woman to fly right off the bed with a scream. She snapped with coquettish petulance, “What kind of black sorcery is that?”

    By using the “18 Falls upon Contact with Clothing” martial arts technique, Yue Ming Ke discovered that the woman actually did not know any martial arts and couldn’t stop himself from blurting out, “What? You’re not a demon?” The beautiful woman snapped, “You’re the demon around here!” But her attitude suddenly switched from anger to coyness as she asked, “Have you come to the capital to take the state examinations?” A thought suddenly struck Yue, causing him to ask, “Didn’t you say you had many rare swords? Can I have a look at one?”

    The faint traces of suspicion appeared on the beautiful matron’s face, but that was immediately replaced by her smile as she said, “I doubt that you would have the guts to kill me. Fine, then I’ll take this opportunity to open up your eyes.” She then pressed a switch on the wall to open up a secret door to a closet. Within it were more than 10 swords, but when Yue scanned the collection, his Gliding Dragon Sword was nowhere to be found. The beautiful matron continued, “Just any one of the swords within this closet is easily more superior than yours. Well? Are you convinced now?” Yue Ming Ke suddenly leaped up and pulled a sword off the rack, causing the weapon’s cold glint and deathlike aura to instantaneously pour out. The beautiful matron asked again, “Well? Is it not much better than your sword? Now put it back on the rack right away.”

    Yue Ming Ke was indeed lost in a state of shock for he had discovered that this sword appeared to be extremely archaic. The bronze-coloured handle of the sword was filled with variegated streaks (12) , causing Yue to conjecture that this sword must have been more than a thousand years old! Upon closer inspection, Yue found that etched within the sword’s handle were the two words “Dragon Springs” (13) and suddenly remembered how his ShiFu had once narrated to him the names of famous swords belonging to the eras of the past and present. He told him, “Although the two swords Gliding Dragon and Jade Fracturing were made from the best of the five golds, yet when compared to the swords: Gan Jiang, Mo Xie (14), Yu Chang(15) (Fish Intestine) , Dragon Springs, Heavenly Rainbow, Jue Que (16) (Giant/Hard-Iron Gap), Chun Gou (17) (Sterling Hook) and Zhan Lu (18) (Deep-Clear Rivers), they were still far from being a worthy match.” At that time, Yue asked about the current whereabouts of these eight treasured ancient swords and his ShiFu replied, “It is said that ever since the Tang dynasty, the three swords Dragon Springs, Jue Que and Zhan Lu have all fallen into the hands of the royal palaces. But the current whereabouts of the other five swords are not known.” From these words, couldn’t it then be deduced that Yue was now situated within the forbidden grounds of the imperial palaces?

    **************************

    (5) “Celestial Lunar Palace”: The Lunar Palace (GuangHan Gong) is also sometimes translated as the “Cold (Han) Palace (Gong)” and is in reference to the palace that according to mythological legend exists on the moon. This palace is sometimes connected to the Tang Emperor Tang Ming Huang who dreamt that he arrived on the moon and within this palace witnessed the dance of immortal goddesses wearing the “Skirt of the Rainbow, Garment made of Plumage” (NiShang YuYi – from where Lian Ni Shang derived her name). According to legend, Chang-E, the Goddess of the Moon is also said to reside on this palace, the following is a link to a painting depicting the Moon Goddess and the Lunar Palace (the name of the painting is called: GuangHong Qiu Tu, Painting of Autumn in The Lunar Palace): http://www.silkqin.com/04qart/07sqmp/25ghqw.jpg
    (6) “Power of Meditation”: “Ding Li” (samâdhibala in Sanskrit) is according to Soothill and Hodous’ online dictionary of Buddhist terms translated as the power of abstract or ecstatic meditation, also the power of mind-control. Considered as one of the five transcendental powers that holds the power to destroy the disturbing thoughts arising from the five obstacles. Also one of the thirteen transcendental powers of the Pure-land school. The term used outside the realm of Buddhism and in its general context refers mainly to concepts of willpower, restraint, control, abstemiousness and sobriety.
    (7) “five Colours”: According to Soothill and Hodous’ Online Dictionary of Buddhist terms, there are two groups of five colours, one being the primary group (blue, yellow, red, white and black) and the other group being the compound colours (crimson, scarlet, purple, green and brown). The primary and compound colours correspond to the 5 cardinal points (the 4 principal points of the compass and their intersection with the meridian) of East (blue & green), West (white & crimson), South (red & scarlet), North (black & purple) and Center (yellow & brown). The five are permutated in different ways to represent different ideas.
    (8) “Five musical tones”: According to Soothill and Hodous, the five musical tones are in reference to the pentatonic scale, which is the five musical tones of the do, re, mi, so, la.
    (9) “Eyes”: The organ of sight is recognized as one of the 22 roots or organs of power. There are also known to be ten kinds of eyes or vision (the eyes of flesh, deva, wisdom, dharma, Buddha, judgement, eyes shinning with Buddha light, immortal, unhindered, omniscient). The Deva eye is attainable by men through meditation. The above information is provided through Soothill and Hodous’ online dictionary.
    (10) “Nose”: The organ of smell is recognized as the one of the 22 roots or organs of power. The sense of smell is also recognized as one of the six perceptions. The above information is provided through Soothill and Hodous’ online dictionary.
    (11) “Heart”: the heart is synonymous with the concept of the mind. One mind of the heart brings about universal and spiritual unity.
    (12) “The bronze-coloured handle of the sword was filled with variegated streaks”: In the ancient era, swords of supreme quality (such as the Dragon Springs, Gan Jiang and Mo Xie swords – refer to subsequent footnotes) possessed markings resembling that of the cracks in turtle shells or the waves of the ocean. However, such markings were not decorations or the results of decomposition. Rather, it is the natural effect produced when bronze or steel has been repeatedly exposed under the scorching flames of the blacksmith’s forge. Only through the repeated instances of alteration, hammering and combustion can the sword achieve the toughness and resiliency of a first-grade weapon. The common phrases “Only a hundred combustions can produce steel” or “A thousand hammerings, a hundred combustions” generally used to describe how things/character/results of high grade can only be achieved after being put through numerous trials or instances of hard work/challenges, is derived from referencing this process. Thus bronze and steel which have undergone this long and repeated process of combustion and other specialized treatments will naturally develop markings of all sorts of shapes and variety – like the piling mountains, flowing waters, cracks of turtle shells, corrugated shape of fish intestines, the form that a sword will ultimately take differs from sword to sword, never to repeat itself (for the process/treatment of sword-making itself also differs from sword to sword). However, this special method of processing bronze has now become a lost art.

    (13) “Dragon Springs”: The following footnote is taken from footnote #9 of the translated chapter nine (part one) of this book. The original footnote was modified upon while more information was also added on -- “Dragon Springs”: Translated from “LongQuan,” the name of a city belonging to 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 Lord 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 Ye Zi was able to construct three priceless swords (or according to some accounts, Ou Ye Zi had constructed more than five swords including the swords: Long Yuan/Long Quan, Tai-A, Chun Gou, Zhan Lu, Yu Chang, Jue Que). Amongst the three swords of which he handed over to the Lord of Chu, it was the “Long Yuan” (Dragon Abyss) Sword which became the most famous. The Long Yuan Sword was also known as the “7 Xing (Star) Long Yuan (Dragon Abyss)” Sword (to reference the springs arranged in accordance to the seven star formation of which the sword was created from) or just Seven Star Sword. But this sword was later renamed as “Long Quan” (Dragon Spring) Sword during the Tang Dynasty. Because of these swords, the waters of the LongQuan Springs have longed been graced with the famous reputation of producing steel blades of superb quality and the LongQuan area was further known as the Homeland of Swords. The Dragon Springs sword was known for possessing four main characteristics: “Sturdy and resilient, slicing through steel with the ease of slicing through mud,” “Simultaneously hard and gentle in nature, retractable and extendable,” “Luminous in colour, imposing with cold light,” “Exquisite in its composition, elegant in its classical beauty.” Another defining trait of the Dragon Springs Sword was its “Extraordinary glow and eye-dazzling markings.” This trait is sometimes known in wuxia novels as the “Jian Qi” (sword’s aura/Qi) which is really a result of the specific circumstances imposed upon the elements/components of the sword during the process of sword-making (refer to footnote #12). But in this case, this extraordinary aura of the sword is referring to how the tone of the sword resembles the lapping waves of flowing waters and the gliding clouds of the skies to comprise a sparkling effect of fluctuating motion. Mention of the Dragon Springs sword in ancient texts often uses the following description, “shining with the streaking glow of a turtle shell and the spectral rays of the rainbow, its extraordinary glow and eye-dazzling markings could be easily discerned by the naked eye.” According to legend, it was said that even if you bury the Dragon Springs sword forty feet below ground, its “extraordinary glow and eye-dazzling markings” will still break through the earth and shine afar. Only when the sword is extracted from its shield will this strange Sword Qi disappear. It seems that not only humans will be opposed to being left alone in solitude and obscurity, even swords have the same ambition to shine.

    (14) “Gan Jiang, Mo Xie”: This pair of swords was said to be created by a pair of husband and wife sword smiths who lived during the end of the Spring and Autumn era (722BC-481BC) and were said to be apprentices coming out from the same school as the master sword-maker Ou YeZi who crafted the Dragon Springs Sword. Having crafted two of the finest swords of their career, they named these two swords after themselves Gan Jiang (literal translation: Competent General), Mo Xie (literal translation: Do not be/commit evil). There appears to be various stories and legends surrounding these two sword-makers. It was said that though they worked for the Lord of the state of Wu (He Lu), yet Gan Jiang was also unjustly executed by the Lord of Wu because he did not want Gan Jiang crafting equally superb swords for the other states. Another story posits that it was Gan Jiang who crafted the pair of swords and named them after his wife and himself. He worked for the Lord of Chu and having anticipated that his lord would kill him immediately upon receiving this sword, he voiced these fears to his pregnant wife and left behind one sword buried under a large tree so that his unborn child may one day take revenge for him. Indeed, upon presenting the Gan Jiang sword to the Lord of Chu, Gan Jiang was executed. When their son Chi Bi (literal translation: Scarlet Nose) grew up, he dug up the sword and swore revenge for his father. But unable to approach the Lord of Chu, he narrated his story to a noble warrior from the Chu state, who having been touched by his story promised to seek revenge for him. According to legend, it was this warrior who by presenting the Lord of Chu with the Mo Xie sword as a decoy, beheaded the Lord of Chu with this very sword and knowing that being surrounded by numerous soldiers he would be unable to escape, this warrior beheaded himself with the very same sword. There was yet another legend which posits that Gan Jiang collected together the essence of the highest grades of gold and metals belonging to the five mountains (probably: SongShan, TaiShan, HuaShan, Northern HengShan, Southern HengShan) and combined them together within a forge. But the heat of the forge was not enough to melt the metals and since the metals were unable to merge together, his sword was unable to be completed. Gan Jiang knew that his failure to finish the sword according to his deadline would lead to his execution by the Lord of Wu and as a result was filled with despair. Suddenly, during one night, his wife smiled at him, causing Gan Jiang to be greatly worried as he pleaded for her to not commit what he feared she would do. But she only smiled and by the time Gan Jiang woke up, he found that she had already disappeared. He ran to the place where they crafted the swords and saw his wife standing by the forge smiling at him. But before he could reach her, she had already thrown herself into the fire. Her last words to him were that of reassuring her husband that she has not died yet and that they would eventually reunite. The metals finally melted and combined together to finally complete the pair of Gan Jiang, Mo Xie swords. Gan Jiang only presented the Gan Jiang sword to the Lord of Wu and secretly kept the Mo Xie sword by his side. But the Lord of Wu eventually discovered this news and had his men surround Gan Jiang. At that time, Gan Jiang opened up the box which contained the Mo Xie sword and asked the Mo Xie sword how he could ever be reunited with his wife. But the sword instantaneously transformed into a great white dragon which suddenly disappeared along with Gan Jiang himself. Similarly, the Gan Jiang sword which was by the Lord of Wu’s side all this time mysteriously disappeared as well. Meanwhile, in a district called the Pin (destitute/impoverish) Cheng (City) located a thousand miles away appeared a young white dragon that suddenly emerged in their YanPingJin lake. This majestic dragon was not only beautiful, but also kind-hearted and by calling upon the power of rainfall and the force of wind, it enabled the destitute city to benefit from the weather and prosper in its agriculture. As a result, the city was also renamed as Feng (Prosperity) Cheng. But the inhabitants found that the white dragon seemed always to be very unhappy as it looked towards the shores as if forever waiting for or pining away for someone with eyes filled with tears. After six hundred years, a young man named Lei Huan suddenly discovered a box buried within the ground. Upon opening the box, he discovered that it concealed the legendary Gan Jiang sword. Pleased with his finding, he hung the sword by his side and one day, when he past by the YanPingJin lake, the sword that hung by his waist suddenly leaped up into the air and dived into the lake. There was a great commotion in the waters when suddenly two dragons leaped out, one white dragon and one black dragon. These two dragons danced together in joyful happiness before returning to the bottom of the lake, only to disappear forever. The next day, a husband and wife moved into the town. They were merely an ordinary couple and although the husband was a very skilled blacksmith, yet he only crafted the ordinary tools used in everyday agricultural life while his wife stood by his side, fanning him with a little fan and wiping away his sweat.

    (15) “Yu Chang”: Literally translates as “Fish Intestine” and is one of the five major swords crafted by the Master sword smith Ou YeZi at the Dragon Springs during the Spring and Autumn era. Ji Guang was the son of the Zhu Fan, the Lord of Wu. Zhu Fan’s last wishes were to pass his reign down to his three brothers (Ji Guang’s uncles). The reign was thus past on to Zhu Fan’s first brother and after his first brother’s death, it was succeeded by his second brother. But after the second brother’s death, Zhu Fan’s third brother refused to take over the throne and thus the reign of power was (according to the people’s wishes) passed onto the SON of Zhu Fan’s SECOND brother, Ji Liao. Being the son of the eldest brother and eldest lord, Ji Guang felt that he was cheated of his throne and thus secretly conspired to recapture his title. Thus during the ninth year of Ji Liao’s reign, Ji Guang invited his Lord over to his place for a feast. Ji Liao brought a big crowd of his trusted troops along with him to this feast that filled out the banquet hall, guarding over their lord. Ji Liao himself was also wearing three layers of steel armour as a safety precaution. But Ji Guang had already planned out the whole conspiracy ahead of time, so that after many rounds of alcohol, he asked to be excused. He then went to the underground kitchen where he had his own trusted troops waiting and then by concealing the Yu Chang sword within the belly of a fish, he then commanded his man Zhuan Zhu to disguise as a servant and present forth the plate of fish to the Lord of Wu. The plan proceeded smoothly, so that as the assassin Zhuan Zhu brought forth the dish, he also brought out the Yu Chang sword and with one stab, the Yu Chang sword sliced through the three layers of steel armour to end Ji Liao’s life right on the spot. Zhuan Zhu himself was killed right away by Ji Liao’s men, but Ji Liao’s men were also murdered shortly after by Ji Guang’s troops who were already standing by. From then on, Ji Guang overtook the throne to become the Lord of Wu. The unbelievably sharp Yu Chang sword thus became famous due to this incident. Some say that the Fish Intestine Sword was so named because the corrugated shape and markings on the sword resembled that of a fish’s intestine, while some also say that it derived its name due to its lightweight fineness which enabled it to be concealed within the stomach of a fish. As a result, the two characters Fish (Yu) Intestine (Chang2) Sword also became known as the Fish (Yu) Conceals (Cang2) Sword. It was also said that when the sword was first completed, the master sword expert Xue Zhu was invited over to divulge his opinion. Xue Zhu had the uncanny instinctual ability to determine the nature and “spirit” of a sword. At that time, he said that this sword “went against the natural order and cannot be pacified or tamed. The servant will use it to kill his lord and the son will use it to murder his father.” The sword was therefore later presented by the Yue State to the Wu State as a gift.

    (16) “Jue Que”: literal translation: Giant Gap or Hard Iron Gap. This was one of the five most famous swords that was crafted by Ou YeZi and presented to the Lord of Yue. It was said that when the Lord of Yue, Gou Jian brought forth this sword to the world’s number one “sword critic” Xue Zhu (refer to previous footnote), he criticized this sword for having coarse components and for being rough in its composition (more specifically, Xue Zhu pointed out that the three main components of the sword: gold, silver and tin had already shown signs of separating from each other, whereas in a sword of truly superb quality, these three components would merge into one entity and one would never be able to separate them), thus the Jue Que sword could not be considered as a sword of superb quality. After having his treasured sword so criticized by Xue Zhu, the Lord of Yue later brought forth the Chun Gou sword of which Xue Zhu highly praised (refer to subsequent footnote). According to legend, this sword derived its name from the fact that when using it to slash or pierce towards an iron pot/cauldron, it would split open a huge gash or crack on the hard iron. As a result, it was named Jue Que for the word “Jue” could be interpreted as both “giant/great” or “hard iron” (depending on which variation of the Chinese character is used) and the word “Que” can be translated as “gap.”

    (17) “Chun Gou”: As continued from above the footnote, the Lord of Yue brought forth his two prized swords (one being the Jue Que sword) to the sword expert Xue Zhu who criticized them as not worthy of being deemed as swords of true supremacy. Thus the Lord of Yue gave orders to bring forth another sword. This time, this sword was presented under the accompaniment of a hundred troops clad in iron armour. When Xue Zhu asked what sword this was that could possibly merit such attention, the Lord of Yue, Gou Jian only uttered two words, “Chun Gou” (literal translation: sterling hook). But upon hearing these two words, the sword expert Xue Zhu literally fell off his chair in alarm and remained frozen with paralyzed shock. It was only after a little while could he hasten towards the sword and after tidying up his appearance and then performing the rites of respectful reverence, he finally opened the box to study the sword, all the while remarking on the excellence of the treasured sword. The Lord of Yue then told Xue Zhu that someone had offered him a thousand majestic steeds, three wealthy towns and two great cities in exchanged for this sword, and then asked him whether he should accept the offer. Xue Zhu adamantly insisted that such commodities could not measure up to the Chun Gou sword. When the Lord of Yue asked Xue Zhu to explain himself, Xue Zhu said that such a sword was a creation that was borne from the work of both mortals and the heavens. For in order to provide the tin for this sword, the thousand year old ChiJin Mountain split open and offer tin and the RouYe River of a million years dried up in order to bring forth bronze. When Ou YeZi was in the process of crafting the sword, the Lord of Thunder hammered out the sword personally while the Mother of Rain cooled it down with her showers. A Scaly Dragon cradled the fiery forge while the Lord of Heavens himself fed the blazing ambers with coal. The sword master Ou YeZi acted under the orders of the heavens and under the help of the various gods, he slaved over this sword for ten years before it was finally completed. Once the sword was completed, all gods returned to the heavens, the ChiJin Mountain merged back together and the RouYe River filled up once again with swelling waves. Ou YeZi himself died of physical depletion and emotional exhaustion, never again to create such heavenly swords.

    (18) “Zhan Lu”: This sword derived its name from the ZhanLu Mountains in SongXi, where Ou YeZi was said to have created this sword. The characters Zhan Lu could be roughly translated as Deep-clear (Zhan) Rivers (Lu). Said to be completely black in colour, the Zhan Lu sword was also said to resemble the dark pupil of an eye that watches over you. Not known for its cutting sharpness, it is instead known for its compassion and trustworthiness. Like a pair of foreseeing eyes that judges with impartial fairness, it watches over the behaviour of its lord and the lord’s servants. There is a phrase associated with this sword that says: If the Lord is righteous and moral, the sword accompanies by his side and the country will prosper. If the Lord is immoral and corrupt, the sword abandons him and the country will fall into ruins. Comprised from the best of the five Golds, capturing the essence of the sun’s brilliance, it appears with majestic spirit and dominates with solemn authority. When Ou YeZi finished this sword, he wept with joyful tears for he had finally completed his lifelong wish of crafting a sword of indestructible sturdiness yet of which does not bear along with it a single bit of menacing deathly aura. It was said that when Ou YeZi presented this sword to the Lord of Yue, the Lord of Yue prized it highly as a priceless treasure. But after the State of Yue was defeated by the State of Wu, it landed into the hands of the Lord of Wu, He-Lu who hung it by his side and never for a moment let it out of his sight until the sword suddenly disappeared on him one day. It turns out that the sword delivered itself to the pillow-side of the Lord of Chu. When the Lord of Chu woke up to discover this sword, he called forth his high official Feng Hu Zi to ask him about the sword’s origins. Feng Hu Zi informed his Lord that this was the Zhan Lu Sword (some say that Feng HuZi was the disciple of Ou YeZi), causing the Lord of Chu to be greatly pleased. For it is known that this sword will only accompany the side of a righteous and moral ruler, thus allowing the ruler’s country to prosper. Since the Lord of Wu was immoral, the sword thus left his side. Some accounts also said that the State of Yue went to war with the state of Chu in order to repossess this sword. It was also rumoured that this sword was passed on throughout the various dynasty to eventually come into the possession of one of the most famous patriots of the Song dynasty, Yue Fei.
    At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napolean -- and my ambition has steadily grown ever since.

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    Within the anecdotal writings of the Bi Guan Unofficial History, there was mention of how the princesses of the Tang dynasty liked to capture handsome men and then smuggle them into the palace for their own enjoyment. Could these shameful rumours of the illicit deeds occurring behind the walls of women’s palace chambers of the past be resurfacing again today?

    Yue remained lost in thought until he was suddenly interrupted by a few knocks coming from behind the wall and arriving with quite an urgent fervour. The beautiful matron ordered, “Quick, put the sword back now!” Yue Ming Ke pointed the sword forward and shouted authoritatively, “Who are you? Answer truthfully!” The beautiful matron’s jade-like complexion suddenly changed colours and by pressing a switch on the wall, she sealed up the secret door to the closet. Yue Ming Ke continued to approach her one step at a time until she suddenly threw herself against the wall to open up a secret passageway from which two people jumped out from behind and the beautiful woman herself disappeared from within.

    There were two people who leapt out from behind the secret door, both carrying weapons within their hands and one of them just happened to be the yellow-robed man who had used the anesthetising smoke to drug Yue Ming Ke earlier. Infuriated upon seeing him, Yue instantaneously drove his sword forward. But with a sweep of his hands, the man shot out three projectiles that exploded the moment upon release, causing the room to fill up with thick smoke. Yue Ming Ke already saw this coming though and by holding his breath, the sword in his hand lashed out with such whirlwind fury that with just one move, Yue’s sword had already arrived at the man’s throat.

    It was then when he suddenly remembered that if this place was indeed the forbidden palace, then this person must be a palace guard. This thought caused Yue to hurriedly retract his sword but by then the other person from the right side with a gong. With a back sweep of his hand, Yue Ming Ke tore away the man’s weapon and then with a loud bang, kicked open the doors to the room as he hurtled outside.

    The two people never could have expected that Yue Ming Ke’s martial arts would still turn out to be so powerful despite having just woken up. Briefly stunned, they then hurriedly clapped their hands together and clamoured for help. The moment Yue Ming Ke stepped foot outside, seven or eight guards surged forward from all four directions. But since Yue Ming Ke did not wish to hurt anybody, he only swept his sword around to ward off the attack coming from all four sides. Amongst the clatter of shattering gold and fracturing jade, the weapons in the hands of those seven or eight guards were all broken, attesting to the fact that the Dragon Springs Sword’s indomitable power was indeed alarming!

    Someone was heard to shout, “You little rogue! How dare you steal our palace’s treasured sword? Even if you can manage to force your way out, you would still have committed an unpardonable crime. So if you are willing to drop your sword right now, we can secretly let you out of the palace.” Yue Ming Ke was thinking: since things have gotten to this point, then I might as well bring this sword along with me and go to see the Emperor. I have to try my best to get to the bottom of this case even if it means my execution. Once he decided upon this, the sword in his hand danced up an angry storm that forced the guards to retreat more then twenty feet. Then with a twist of his body, Yue landed on the top of the rooftops.

    The rooftops of the imperial palace were all constructed out of yellow-coloured glazed tiles. When Yue flitted onto the top of the roof, he immediately found the surface he was standing on to be very smooth and slippery. Looking around him, he found that all the rooftops were connected together like a sea of clouds and glimmering like the iridescent scales of a fish. Yue Ming Ke still had his doubts a moment ago as to where he was, but now there could no longer be any doubt that this was the imperial palace he was situated within. Such a discovery brought forth a surge of emotions, for never in his dreams would he have imagined that the palace has actually fallen to such decadent states of debauchery. Even though Military Commissioner Xiong and him have both been painstakingly guarding over the country borders in battle after battle, yet it seems that their efforts will eventually prove itself to be useless.

    After seeing how powerful Yue Ming Ke was, those guards who had their weapons destroyed did not dare to chase after him. As a result, they could only clamour loudly for help while still situated on the ground. Yue Ming Ke targeted the ornamental columns (19) of the front doors and then charged forward with a wild, frenzied pace. Although the glazed tiles were so slippery that it disabled one from stabilizing their balance, yet Yue Ming Ke’s levitation skills were superb and just a light tap of his toes was enough to rocket him high into the air. Like a purple swallow skipping across the turbulent waves, Yue Ming Ke skimmed across the rooftops without the slightest bit of deterrence.

    However, the surface area of the imperial palace was incredibly vast, with the number of palace halls numbering past the thousands. After Yue has glided over the roofs of a few halls, a menacing snarl suddenly sounded from below as a person immediately leapt onto the top of the rooftops – it was Ying Xiu Yang! Yue Ming Ke was lamenting to himself silently: It’s over! Over! If even this kind of villain is allowed to infiltrate into the palace, what hope can there be left for the country?

    Ying Xiu Yang screamed loudly, “Come catch the assassin!” while Yue Ming Ke seethed with indignant rage as he bellowed, “Ha! Alright! Then I’ll capture you first and bring you to the Emperor himself!” With the stance “Dragon’s Coil and Wild Thrash,” his blade’s bronze streak extended for a radius of more than ten feet, forcing Ying Xiu Yang to swirl his tassel whip in defence. But the tassels of Ying’s bronze whip that came under the gleam of Yue’s sword Qi were all shorn into pieces and had Ying not managed to change his stances with such rapid dexterity, even his hand would have been slashed right off his arm!

    The force of Yue Ming Ke’s sword thrashed out like the violent waves that crashed against the gates of the Dragon King’s Underwater Palace. The sheer speed in the execution of Yue’s stances was simply indescribable for before you could even see the end of one stance, the second stance had already been thrown out! Ying Xiu Yang was not Yue Ming Ke’s match to begin with, now he was furthermore combating a Yue Ming Ke who was in the midst of his raging fury that compelled him to repeatedly execute his most obliterating moves. After just ten stances, Ying Xiu Yang had already experienced more than one instance of where he was merely a hairbreadth’s distance away from being injured under Yue’s blade.

    But by that time, the palace guards had also started to surge in from all directions upon hearing the sounds of combat, causing the pandemonium of people shouting and feet pounding to shock the air. Yue Ming Ke growled, “I’ll exterminate you first and explain later!” Thus with a swing of his treasured sword, the green glow of Yue Ming Ke’s sword immediately swirled out and enveloped around Ying Xiu Yang to trap him within the roar of its cyclonic centre. Then with a few additional swipes, Yue repeatedly attacked with deadly mercilessness.

    Ying Xiu Yang was dodging to the left and flitting towards his right when he suddenly felt a chilling breeze brush across his scalp only to find that the tuff of hair on the top of his head has been completely shorn off! Such a close call petrified Ying to the point of where even his shaken soul was about to jump right out of his body. He branded his whip and faked a defensive move before he rocketed upwards with all his might. Yue Ming Ke shouted, “Think you can escape?” and with a tap of his toe, leaped up high into the air, arriving more then thirty feet above the roof.

    His levitation skills were levels beyond that of Ying’s, thus with just that one jump, he had already managed to arrive above the top of Ying Xiu Yang’s head. Then with a flip of his body, Yue Ming Ke turned around to pierce with his long sword in a downwards direction! Ying Xiu Yang’s body was caught in mid air and he no longer had any other means of escaping. The haunting aura of death loomed up ahead as the tip of Yue Ming Ke’s blade was just about to arrive at the top of Ying Xiu Yang’s head!

    Yue Ming Ke continued to pierce downwards with a flip of his blade, but just when Ying Xiu Yang was about to lose his life a white flash suddenly zoomed out from one side. Before the figure could physically reach Yue Ming Ke, the force of this person’s palm had already arrived! With an explosion of wind, the palm’s strike surged forth with both force and fierceness, shocking the tip of Yue Ming Ke’s sword over to one side. Yue attempted to throw out one last slash with his residual momentum, but Ying Xiu Yang had already pulled his arm deep into his sleeves so that only the end of his sleeve was sliced off, enabling Ying Xiu Yang to escape alive!

    Yue Ming Ke drew up a new stance and landed on the tiles of the palace rooftops once again. By then, the person who had saved Ying Xiu Yang had already arrived and generated his palms strikes with the force of whirlwinds, bringing forth a flood of gushing and whooshing currents that forced Yue Ming Ke to retreat three sequential steps.

    Yue Ming Ke was completely abashed for he couldn’t believe that there would be a fighter of such powerful energy reserve that could be found within the imperial palace! When he had the chance to take a good look, he found that this person was wearing a mask that made him look all the more eerie and ghastly. Even under the net of rays drew by Yue’s sword, the person still dared to extend his hands in attempts to clamp Yue’s wrist! Yue hurriedly brought the blade of his sword around before coming in from the side to attack him. But this person chopped down on one side with his left palm and then slashed in from the other side with his right palm, fully employing the method of attack in defence of Yue’s attack and without any indication of holding back or harbouring caution. The two fighters exchanged a few stances, every one of them turning out to be annihilating moves. Although Yue felt the style of this person’s palms to be somewhat familiar, yet expending just that little bit of concentration in pondering over this matter almost caused him to be struck down by his opponent’s palm.

    The skilled fighters of the palace have now arrived from all directions, thus Ying Xiu Yang began to scream, “The assassin is right here!” while the mysterious masked man suddenly delivered a decoy attack and then escaped to ground level only to merge himself within the crowd of people. A brief second later, the guards who arrived from the various sectors of the place have all landed on top of the palace roofs!

    Yue Ming Ke found this whole incident very strange. For the supremacy of this masked fighter’s martial arts was not below that of the “Venomous Palms of Yin Winds” Jin Du Yi. Combating against him one on one, Yue knew that even though he may not necessarily lose to him, yet it would still be extremely hard for him to take the upper hand. If this man was one of the palace guards, then why is it that when his associates arrive, he would actually steal away secretly?

    Once the masked person left, amongst the vast number of palace guards, there were none whose martial arts were especially strong. Yue Ming Ke’s levitation skills were superb and plus he had a treasured sword by his side. Thus he did not dally in battle and only proceeded to flit away after exchanging a few stances so that shortly afterwards, he had already escaped to the outside of the Palace of Heavenly Purity. The crowd of palace guards chased after him relentlessly, creating a great ruckus of shouting and shoving, but in the midst of all this chaos, Ying Xiu Yang had already stolen away secretly.

    ***********************

    (19) “Ornamental Columns”: Sometimes also translated as “Cloud Pillars,” these were columns/pillars that were erected in front of structures of importance such as palaces or tombs. Sometimes they are adorned with decorative etchings.
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  17. #97
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    Talking

    Let us now focus our attention back to Zhuo Yi Hang who having heard sounds of shouting and fighting coming in from outside the Hall of Mental Cultivation ran to the window for a look only to discover that the person being chased by the palace guards was actually Yue Ming Ke! Shocked beyond belief, Zhuo had no time to analyze over the matter and just bounded outside instantaneously in one great leap.

    The personal guards who served the Emperor was just in the midst of extracting their swords in attempts to deter Yue from entering the Hall, but when they saw Zhuo blaze out they froze in their tracks with surprise. By then, Zhuo Yi Hang had already pulled Yue inside the Hall of Mental Cultivation as they both knelt down in front of the Emperor’s bedside.

    Chang Luo was so petrified that he broke out into a body of cold sweat all the while pointing to Yue and spluttering, “What … what … what is that sword for?” Zhuo Yi Hang hurriedly reported, “This man is the personal envoy of the Military Commissioner Xiong. Your humble servant can use my very own life to guarantee his indisputable loyalty!”

    Yue Ming Ke returned his sword back into its sheath and then reported, “Your divine Majesty, there have been debauched demons and flagitious fiends that have erupted within the imperial palace. Please allow your unworthy servant to explain in detail!”

    Having broken out into a cold sweat, Chang Luo’s thoughts actually became a bit more coherent. Xiong Ting Bi’s faithful loyalty and valiant bravery has always been something he was well aware of, thus with a sweep of his hands he ordered, “Cheng Kun, tell all those servants to retreat outside the room.”

    Cheng Kun was the name of a head palace guard. Quite honest and loyal in character, he was furthermore aware of how the members of the palace have segregated into their own cliques and how the Eastern faction had already became an established force to be reckoned with. Now hearing that this “assassin” was actually Military Commissioner’s man, he had already let down half of his guard so that when he heard the Emperor’s orders, he immediately answered, “Your menial servant obeys your order.” Thus branding his sabre, he stood guard by the room’s door, causing all the guards who chased to the Hall of Mental Cultivation to be forced back outside.

    Having just been incriminated by the Emperor, Yue Ming Ke gathered together his thoughts and then presented forth the treasured Dragon Springs sword while saying, “Divine Lord, please observe and confirm whether this is a property of the palace?” Chang Luo took over the sword for a look and then asked, “How did you get this?” Yue Ming Ke knelt in front of the bed and reported his “special encounter” to the Emperor, but just when he had gotten to the part about encountering the beautiful matron, Chang Luo suddenly interrupted, “Did this woman have a very round face and wears her hair pulled back into a pair of coiling dragon buns (20) ?” Yue Ming Ke replied, “Exactly so.” Chang Luo exploded with fury, “Is she trying to drive me to the ground with this madness?” before he fainted. Zhuo Yi Hang hurriedly came forward to resuscitate him by massaging his vital pulse points. By then, Cheng Kun had also turned back around.

    After a while, Chang Luo gradually awakened and murmured, “The two of you can retreat now, but you must not mention anything about this incident. Cheng Kun, go bring Fang Cong Zhe and Li Xuan Shi to me.” Zhuo wiped a handful of sweat from his forehead and exited the room with Yue. They could observe from afar that a group of female palace attendants were milling out from the Palace of Heavenly Purity, thus the two of them did not dare to tarry as they hurriedly return to the Tower of Manifest Benevolence.

    When the crowd of officials who were waiting there saw that there suddenly appeared an extra person who came out from inside, Yue Ming Ke suddenly found that he was being stared at by a few dozen pair of eyes. Yang Kun whispered to Zhuo, “How is the Emperor?” Zhuo Yi Hang did not dare to respond and could only shake his head. After a while, the faint traces of crying drifted out from the inner palaces as a eunuch came out to announce, “You can all go back now. The Emperor will not be seeing any of you today.”

    Once they exited the Meridian Gates, Yue Ming Ke said, “I’m afraid that the Emperor will not be able to last.” Zhuo Yi Hang remarked, “It seems that the fate of the Ming Dynasty can only be left to the mercy of the heavens.” Yue Ming Ke continued, “Although the Emperor may not be the most superb or competent ruler, yet at least he can understand and weigh the importance of matters. But the crown prince is just an ignorant little kid! When he succeeds the throne, there will be officials of powerful authority to reckon with on the outer level and castrated villains posing a threat on the inner level. Not to mention how the inner palaces are tainted by wild debauchery and licentious decadence. I’m afraid that we don’t have to wait around for the Manchurians to crash through our country’s borders and already the world would drive itself to the ground!” Observing the two of them converse about the Emperor with such bluntness and inhibition, Yang Kun hurriedly switched the conversation over to another topic. After Yue has inquired Zhuo about the address of his temporary lodging, he then promised, “I’ll come visit you tomorrow” before they waved farewell and departed from each other.

    Yet by the next day, the news of the Emperor’s passing had already been released from the imperial palace. As expected, the hundreds of officials all engaged in tearful mourning, the crown prince You Jiao also ascended the throne and established the regnal name of TianQi. The palace was in a state of utter chaos for even though Li Ke Zhuo had submitted the red pill to the Emperor that ended up taking his life, yet not only was he not penalized, but Fang Cong Zhe furthermore claimed to be relaying the last orders of the Emperor by saying that Li Ke Zhuo was a loyal official and granted him with riches. Pandemonium erupted amongst the crowd of officials when they heard about this news and those officials such as the Minister of Rites Sun Shen Xing, the Censorate Wang An Shun and Hui Shi Yang who were not afraid of being executed furthermore discussed amongst themselves in regards to how they could send forth an incriminating document to impeach Li Ke Zhuo while simultaneously charging Fang Cong Zhe with the crime of murdering the Lord. This incident created a huge ruckus that lasted for a very long time, but under the support of Wei Zhong Xian, Fang Cong Zhe was eventually able to suppress this earth-shattering case of the Red Pill. However, this concerns a later matter and will not be disclosed at present.

    For the time being, let us bring our attention back to Yue Ming Ke who after returning to Yang Lian’s home that day, began to narrate the whole incident to Tie Shan Hu with endless sighs of heavyhearted despondency. But Tie Shan Hu just laughed, “Only silly goofs like you would take upon the matters of the world as your own personal mission and then go to support such a degenerate dynasty. For me, a life wandering through the JiangHu world, standing up for justice and performing acts of heroism, living an existence comparable to the wild cranes and carefree clouds would be a much more gratifying and worthwhile experience.”

    The eyebrows on Yue Ming Ke face knotted together as he asked, “Did you think that I was doing all this for the Zhu family?” Tie Shan Hu smiled and replied, “I know, I know. You have your whole philosophy of how you must facilitate the Emperor in order to defend the country against the intrusion of foreign invaders – right? But the thing is, we don’t necessarily need an Emperor in order to defend our country against the Tartars!”

    Yue Ming Ke was speechless. He was thinking: I’ve always thought that this kid didn’t understand anything. Who would have thought that she could also have a point? Thus he did not say anything more. Tie Shan Hu added, “I don’t want to see Zhuo Yi Hang so don’t tell him I’m here.” Yue Ming Ke asked, “Why?” but Tie Shan Hu just blushed and answered, “No reason, I just don’t like seeing him.” In truth, this was all due to the fact that Tie Shan Hu had once proposed marriage to Wang Zhao Xi but failed in her efforts. Since Tie Shan Hu knew that Zhuo Yi Hang and Wang Zhao Xi were very well acquainted with each other, she figured that Zhuo must also know about this incident and therefore did not wish to see him.

    ***********************

    (20) “Coiling Dragon Buns”: Translated from “Pan Long” (commonly translated as coiling dragon) “Ji” (Bun). These kinds of hairstyles likely reflected the age or marital status of the woman in ancient times.
    At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napolean -- and my ambition has steadily grown ever since.

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  18. #98
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    Default Last part of Chapter 11 (PART UNO!)

    The next day Yue Ming Ke arrived at Yang Kun’s house according to his word. At that time, Yang Kun was already in the midst of collaborating with his colleagues in regards to how they could incriminate Fang Cong Zhe, leaving Zhuo Yi Hang alone with Yue Ming Ke.

    Yue said, “Who could have predicted that the Emperor Tai Chang (21) would pass away so quickly? Now there would be nobody left to abolish the shameful scandals of the palace.” After a long sigh, Yue continued, “This trip to the capital has opened up my eyes to many things, but it has only left me disheartened and dispirited. Once the new Emperor ascends the throne, those who will come to power will most definitely be Wei Zong Xian, Fang Cong Zhe and their allies. They’ve always been in opposition to Military Commissioner Xiong. If it wasn’t for my old commander’s sake, I really think that I would just go and join the monastery.”

    Zhuo Yi Hang remarked, “Let’s just stay here for a few days and see how everything works out. What do you think?” Yue Ming Ke replied, “The politics of the government are offensive to the ears and unbefitting to be known, I really don’t wish to bother myself with it anymore. However, I do have to steal into the palace again tonight.”

    Zhuo Yi Hang asked, “Why run such a big risk?” Yue Ming Ke replied, “My Gliding Dragon Sword was lost within the palace so I must go back again in order to investigate into this matter.” A thought struck Zhuo Yi Hang as he asked, “Then why don’t I come with you?” Yue Ming Ke knew that though Zhuo Yi Hang’s martial arts were quite good, yet he has still not reached the pinnacle of supremacy nor transcended into the boundaries of perfection yet, thus he was worried that Zhuo might not be able to escape out of the palace if they happen to come across any trouble. He therefore said, “Since I need to search the imperial palace during the night-time, it might become inconvenient if there are too many people involved. Thank you for your chivalric offer my brother, I acknowledge it with all my heart.”

    But Zhuo Yi Hang seemed lost in thought and did not say anything in reply for a very long time until he suddenly asked, “Would you like to come with me to visit my martial arts uncle?” Yue Ming Ke inquired, “Which Taoist Priest might that be?” Zhuo Yi Hang replied, “My fourth uncle, Taoist Priest White Stone.” Yue Ming Ke remarked, “I’ve long heard of the great name of the five elders of Wu Tang, not to mention he is your martial arts uncle. Since he is here, I will of course be glad to go and present my respects.”

    Taoist Priest White Stone and his daughter were staying at the home of the martial arts instructor Liu Xi Ming located about a dozen miles from Yang Kun’s house. When Zhuo Yi Hang and Yue Ming Ke arrived to the Liu household, they knocked on the door for quite some time before somebody finally came to open up the door for them. But the person who opened the door was actually not a member of the Liu family but was rather He E-Hua. Zhuo Yi Hang was slightly taken back as he thought to himself: Where have all the people of the Liu household gone? Why would they let a guest come out to open the doors?

    There was a similar expression of surprise on He E-Hua’s face, as her pair of tear-filled eyes stared intently at Zhuo Yi Hang. It seemed as if she was desirous to tell him something and yet she remained silent, causing Zhuo Yi Hang to lower his head. Seeing all this, Yue Ming Ke couldn’t help but chuckle to himself silently.

    He E-Hua brought the two of them to the guest rooms of the West wing and then knocked on one of the doors while calling out, “Father, Brother Zhuo and his friend have come to see you.” Taoist Priest White Stone opened up the door and exclaimed with surprise, “And I was wondering who it was! So it is Hero Yue!”

    Yue Ming Ke found it strangely perplexing that the Taoist Priest White Stone would know him who he was, but standing right beside him was Zhuo Yi Hang who smiled and explained, “Brother Yue, that night when you were at Shaolin to take the book, my revered uncle was also present within the temple to witness you charge through five consecutive barricades.”

    White Stone remarked, “You have an excellent command over your sword.” Yue Ming Ke replied, “Wu Tang’s sword skill is uncontested within the world, I will need to be implore reverend you for an educational lecture in the future.” But Taoist Priest White Stone remarked coldly in response, “You are being much too humble Hero Yue. It is the force of the Yellow River’s latter currents that drives the old waves forward. The sword skill of Wu Tang has already fallen behind greatly.” Because Taoist Priest White Stone had a very cramped breadth of heart, when he witnessed the Revered Jing Ming highly exalt Yue Ming Ke’s Tian Shan sword skill that night at the Shaolin temple, he became greatly displeased within his heart. Zhuo Yi Hang never would have been able to anticipate the fact that his uncle would have such a jealous nature and only felt that his manner was strangely out of the ordinary. Yue Ming Ke was furthermore left to feel embarrassed and uncomfortable.

    White Stone just uttered, “Please have a seat Hero Yue, this humble priest has a few minor matters to discuss over with my nephew” before he took Zhuo by the arm and pulled him into the inner recesses. Yue Ming Ke could only manage to blurt out, “Please help yourselves,” as he sat down stiffly in the reception area in awkward solitude, feeling extremely discomforted and humiliated. He simply could not understand why Taoist Priest White Stone would treat him with such a cool and unfriendly attitude.

    Zhuo Yi Hang was even more confounded. As he accompanied White Stone into the inner rooms, he inquired with a slightly displeased tone, “Yue Ming Ke is the heroic figure of our present era. Not to mention your disciple and him get along quite well. May I ask why uncle you are treating him with such cold indifference?” White Stone retorted, “Since he is the current era’s heroic figure, then he most definitely will not be constrained by petty customs or concerned with the common social manners. I have to speak with you about something, so what so wrong about letting him just sit around for a while?” Although White Stone’s excuse was actually quite forced, yet Zhuo Yi Hang was nevertheless residing in the position of his student, thus it was not suitable for him to retort his uncle’s words. He could therefore only ask with respectful reverence, “What orders do you have for me Uncle?”

    Taoist Priest White Stone paused briefly before continuing slowly, “Now that the Tai Chang Emperor has died and your case has also been sorted out, you should really be accompanying me back to the mountain.” Zhuo Yi Hang stammered, “Um … uh … your disciple would still like to remain here for a few days.” White Stone asked, “What for?” Zhuo Yi Hang blurted out, “Your disciple has already made a promise to meet up with Brother Yue. His treasured sword was lost within the recesses of the imperial palace and there happens to be some very strange circumstances surrounding this incident!”

    Zhuo Yi Hang thus proceeded to relate the details behind Yue Ming Ke’s encounter within the imperial palace to White Stone, whose eyebrows knitted together as he remarked, “Is that really the case?” Zhuo Yi Hang replied, “When the country is on the verge of its death, one can be sure to find fiends and felons at the root of this problem. Your disciple’s family has been graced by the country’s benevolence for many generations. Now witnessing such things happening, I really can’t help but feel sadden.” White Stone asked, “So you plan to lend a helping hand to Yue Ming Ke by accompanying him into the imperial palace in order to investigate into this matter?” Zhuo Yi Hang replied, “Indeed.” White Stone suddenly blurted out, “We haven’t even taken care of our own matters yet, why go bother ourselves with other people’s problems?” then suddenly and unexpectedly tore open the front of his shirt while shouting, “Take a look yourself!”

    As White Stone bared the front of his chest, the faint traces of a red palm imprint could be seen clearly on his chest! Zhuo Yi Hang asked with alarm, “Uncle, have you sustained a furtive attack?” Taoist Priest White Stone nodded his head and said, “This is what I wanted to discuss with you about. Will we be going back to the mountains or staying here?”

    Zhuo Yi Hang exclaimed, “This is the work of the old freak Jin’s Venomous Palms of Yin Winds! Did you encounter him?” White Stone answered, “If it was the old freak Jin that I had come across, I’m afraid that I wouldn’t have been able to see you today. This person’s martial arts was at a level below that of the old freak Jin’s.”

    White Stone drove his fist into his palm and continued, “Yesterday around sunset, I just happened to be wandering around the area of the Heavenly Bridge by myself. There was a group of martial art performers there tightrope walking against steel twine and performing these horse-riding tricks. The martial arts they used were indeed that derived through authentic practice and not the kind of which was performed through illusory tricks. I was engrossed by their performance when it was suddenly interrupted by what seemed to be a bully type of man with bushy eyebrows and big eyes that barged onto their stage and demanded for his customary fee. The old performer bowed lowly and in a very pathetic manner begged the man, “We haven’t had any business for the whole day. Please elder, I beg you, have kind mercy on us and kindly give us a little more time.” The bully was screaming and shouting as he hopped up and down with displeasure. Not being able to stand such injustice, I ran onto the stage in order to stop the bully. With just a lift of my hand, I sent the bully sprawling across the floor before he scampered away like a dog with his tail caught between his legs, causing the old performer to shower me with endless words of gratitude. But by then, the day has already reached its twilight hour and after this whole incident, all the spectators have left the scene. Thus the old man invited me over to his tent to have a glass of watered-down drink and since I didn’t have my guard set up against him, I just followed him to his place. But it actually turns out that this old man was a skilled practitioner of the Venomous Palms of Yin Winds! Just when he was handing the bottle over to me, he suddenly struck out to impact a palm right on my chest!”

    Zhuo Yi Hang exclaimed, “Oh no!” but White Stone snickered and continued, “But it wasn’t like he was able to come out of the whole thing with much of an advantage. I may have sustained one of his palms, but I made him suffer two of my fingers in return. I managed to seal his Yu Qi acupoint so that regardless of how powerful his martial arts may be, he would still be unable to avoid being crippled for life!” Zhuo Yi Hang remarked, “From this situation, it seems that the old freak Jin has also arrived here in the capital!”

    White Stone continued, “That old performer jumped out of the tent and called out before he left, “Thievish Priest White Stone, if you don’t return to the mountains within three days, there will be someone else coming to grant you with another palm!” I was afraid that he would have more accomplices with him and therefore hurried back to the Liu household only to discover with surprise that the Liu family has also been turned upside down!”

    Zhuo Yi Hang remarked, “No wonder there was nobody from the Liu family to open up the door for us today.” White Stone continued, “Martial arts instructor Liu has gone out to find help.” Zhuo Yi Hang asked, “What? The martial arts instructor Liu is highly respected within the imperial capital and is furthermore known to enjoy great popularity. Can it be that there would actually be someone who would want to take revenge on him?” White Stone explained, “At around the same time that I came across danger, a few uninvited guests also barged into the Liu household and with a very menacing and hostile attitude forbid him to accommodate us within his home. Those people did not have any personal scores to settle with Liu, but had instead come with us as their targets.”

    Zhuo Yi Hang remarked, “That’s so strange! Much like the waters of the river that does not infringe upon the waters of the well, we have always gone about our business in our own way, separate from that of the old freak Jin’s. Not to mention how well-known and respected the fame of the Wu Tang 5 elders’ fame is within the world. Why would he purposely come around to make trouble for you uncle?” White Stone answered, “I have no idea what he’s trying to get at either, which is why I wanted to discuss over this matter with you. Should we return to the mountains right away or should we remain right here and finish this fight?”

    Zhuo Yi Hang analyzed, “According to logic, in order to not drag the elder Liu into this trouble we should most definitely return to the mountain. But since the martial arts instructor Liu has already gone out to seek help, we can’t just leave like this.” White Stone exclaimed, “Right! Your thoughts are exactly that of my own. Then during the next three days, you shouldn’t return to the Yang family. Just stay right here and see what those crooks dare to do.”

    Zhuo Yi Hang remarked, “Brother Yue’s profound sword skill is not only brilliant, but his supreme martial arts is equally worthy of exaltation, so why don’t we join forces with him in order to oppose our enemy? We can first lend him a helping hand and then we can also implore him to lend us a help hand as well!” Taoist Priest White Stone’s expression instantaneously changed into a series of awful colours as he barked with severe tone, “Yi Hang! You are our sect’s future sect leader! Don’t you know what the rules of our sect are?”

    Zhuo Yi Hang stammered with alarm, “May your unworthy disciple know which sect-rule he has offended?” White Stone thought over his question for a while before suddenly chuckling, “I suppose you can’t be blamed. You’ve only completed your studies for a mere two years and since your ShiFu has never stressed this rule, I suppose he never did tell you about it.” Zhuo Yi Hang asked with perplexity, “Exactly what rule are we talking about?”

    White Stone explained, “This rule is not an official rule passed down from our ancestors but is a rule of which everyone has abided by during the last twenty years. You should know that during the last twenty to thirty years, our sect has been thriving in such illustrious eminence that it has enabled the members of our sect to spread out all over the world. And that is why whenever we run into conflicts with the other sects we’ve never needed anybody to help us out in battle. With time, this tendency has become a regular habit. All Wu Tang sect members view the act of asking other non-sect members to help in battle as a disgrace and insult! As a result, this habit has gradually become an unofficial rule.”

    Zhuo Yi Hang remarked, “But the martial arts instructor Liu has just gone to seek for help! Uncle, are you not planning to accept his assistance?” White Stone laughed and said, “That’s different. He’s not a Wu Tang disciple and though the fact that he is arranging for others to help out may indeed be related to us, yet those helpers are only coming on behalf of his request so I don’t have to feel obligated to them!” Zhuo Yi Hang was thinking to himself: what a strange rule. If I become the sect-leader I will most definitely have to abolish this rule. The martial arts world should hold the values of heroism and chivalry as its main priorities. Just resorting to arrogance through one’s prominence and power should not be the mannerism and attitude of which a leader of the martial art world takes. People of noble heroism should really be holding the act of helping out each other as their personal mission.

    White Stone continued, “The members of our sect never asks any outsiders to help out in a duel against the other sects, but if friends or family know of this incident and volunteers to help out, that is acceptable. However, we must not go and ask them to come ourselves.” Zhuo Yi Hang replied, “Since that is the case, I better not tell Brother Yue about it.” White Stone said, “Of course you shouldn’t! And that is why I didn’t want to talk about this incident with you in front of him just now. We have a dozen members of our own sect residing in Beijing who will be arriving one after the other today in order to position themselves in a secret position within the Liu household.”

    Meanwhile in the reception room, Yue Ming Ke continued to wait in awkward solitude. Only after he had waited around for a very long time did Taoist Priest White Stone and Zhuo Yi Hang finally reappear. Since Yue Ming Ke felt displeased within his heart, he gave a bow and then said, “I have bothered you for much too long.” White Stone replied, “Yi Hang, why don’t you sit here with Brother Yue for a little while longer.” Such words were obviously a hint to show his guest out, causing Yue Ming Ke to rise to his feet with bewilderment.

    White Stone continued, “Brother Yue, I have heard from Yi Hang that you are now residing at the Yang mansion. This humble priest will one day come with Yi Hang to pay our respects.” With another low bow, Yue Ming Ke said, “Your student dares not trouble you for such an honoured presence” and with a twist of his body started to walk out of the Liu household. Zhuo Yi Hang saw him to the outside of the house before whispering softly, “Honoured brother, if you still have not left the capital in three days, I implore you to please come here for a brief gathering.” Yue Ming Ke was taken back as he thought to himself: Setting a date for a meeting is a very common matter, why must he be so secretive about it? But just when he was about to ask him, Zhuo Yi Hang had already issued a very low bow and announced in a clear and loud voice, “Please excuse me for not seeing you any further” and before Yue Ming Ke could even say anything else in reply, Zhuo Yi Hang has already closed the door on him.

    *********************

    (21) “Emperor TaiChang”: Zhu Chang Luo’s regnal name.

    *************************************************


    HEY Y'ALL! HAVE TO SLEEP NOW SO THE POST TRANSLATION RANT WILL BE COMING IN A DAY OR TWO ... I'M GLAD TO SEE THE QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS FOR THE TRANSLATION AND CAN'T WAIT TO COME BACK TO ANSWER THEM

    AGAIN, HAPPY CANADA DAY TO ALL CANADIANS! (whoohooo!)
    At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napolean -- and my ambition has steadily grown ever since.

    ~ Salvador Dali


  19. #99
    Senior Member eliza bennet's Avatar
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    Thank you so much for the updates Faerie Queene

    There obviously is a connection between the man on the roof and the man who left his palm print on White Stone (what an annoying man White Stone is btw). I can not wait to know more.


    I definitely start to fall for Yue Ming Ke, he really is something and the scene with the Dragon Springs sword was excellent. I can almost hear the sounds of the sword!

    Also please do not hate the footnotes, they are great reads

  20. #100
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    thankyou, thankyou, thankyou, thankyou!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    thankyou, thankyou, thankyou, thankyou!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    thankyou, thankyou, thankyou, thankyou!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    thankyou so much faerie queene
    it is just in time for my roadtrip, now I have something to read for tommorrow

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