Chapter 31 – Saber and Sword Lost, People Perish
(Translated by Foxs, Edited by Eliza Bennet)
Even after the Persian medication was applied, Yin Li’s high fever did not subside; she kept talking in her sleep incessantly. During these past several days on the sea, she had been exposed to cold weather on top of her sickness. The medication was only for external wound, it was not effective to treat internal injury, or even a common cold. Zhang Wuji was very anxious. Toward the afternoon of the third day, he saw a small island in the distant to their east. He instructed the sailor to take them to that island.
Once they were ashore, their spirits lifted up. The island’s circumference was no more than several ‘li’s; and it was covered with shrubs and short trees. Zhang Wuji asked Zhou Zhiruo to look after Yin Li and Zhao Min, while he went around looking for some medicinal herbs. However, the flora on that island was greatly different from the one in the Central Earth that Zhang Wuji did not recognize most of them. He walked farther and farther away without any result until the sky gradually turned dark, he had no choice but to return to their original position. He mashed whatever herbs he could find and fed them to Yin Li.
Six people gathered around the fire, eating and drinking. The air was heavy with the fragrance of the flowers and the freshness of the grass and the forest. It was quite different surroundings from the cramped cabin.
Yin Li was also in good spirits. “Ah Niu Gege,” she said, “Why don’t we spend the night here, and not return to the ship?” They discussed her proposal and decided that it was a wonderful idea. They saw the water on that small island was warm and clear, also, there were no wild beasts around; everyone went to sleep peacefully.
As Zhang Wuji woke up early the next morning, he got up and took a step, but he staggered and almost fell down. He felt his legs were weak, which was quite unusual. He rubbed his eyes and saw the Persian ship was gone. His heart skipped a beat. Rushing to the shore he looked around without seeing any trace of the ship. This time he was really shocked.
“Yifu,” he called out, “Are you all right?” But Xie Xun did not answer. Hastily Zhang Wuji ran to the place Xie Xun slept and saw he was still asleep peacefully, which took most of his anxiety away.
The previous night, Zhao Min, Zhou Zhiruo and Yin Li went to sleep behind a large rock some distance away. He rushed to take a look, and saw Zhou Zhiruo and Yin Li were still sleeping side by side; but Zhao Min was nowhere to be seen.
In a glance he noticed that Yin Li’s face was full of blood. Stooping down to look closer, Zhang Wuji saw there were more than a dozen sharp blade cuts on her face, but she stayed unconscious. Hastily he reached out to check her pulse and was relieved when he felt faint pulses. Turning his attention toward Zhou Zhiruo, he saw that a large clump of her beautiful hair was cut, along with a piece of her left ear. Her blood had not congealed yet, but her face was smiling, as if she was having a happy dream. Under the light of the dawn, she looked like a sleeping hypericum in the spring; extremely tender and beautiful. His heart was painful was he called out, “Miss Zhou, Miss Zhou, wake up!”
Zhou Zhiruo stirred, but did not wake up. Zhang Wuji gently shook her shoulder and finally Zhou Zhiruo yawned and turned around, but she was still asleep. Zhang Wuji knew she must be drugged. There were too many strange things that happened the previous night; he fell into a deep sleep and this morning he felt weak and tired. He was certain that they were drugged.
After calling Zhou Zhiruo for a while without any result, he rushed back to Xie Xun and called out, “Yifu, Yifu!”
Xie Xun sat up in daze, “What is it?” he asked.
“It’s terrible!” Zhang Wuji said, “We have fallen into a sinister plot.” Briefly he told him about the missing Persian ship and the cuts suffered by Yin Li and Zhou Zhiruo.
“What about Miss Zhao?” Xie Xun asked in alarm.
“I did not see her,” Zhang Wuji grimly said. Taking a deep breath, he tried to circulate his internal energy, but felt that his limbs were devoid of any strength; he could not transmit his energy at all. “Yifu,” he blurted out, “We are poisoned by the ‘shi xiang ruan jin san’ [ten fragrance muscle softener powder].”
Xie Xun had heard Zhang Wuji’s narration on how the masters of the Six Major Sects were poisoned by Zhao Min with ‘shi xiang ruan jin san’ and how they were held captive in the Wan An Temple. He stood up and felt as if he was floating; as his legs were devoid of any strength. Calming himself down, he asked, “Did she take away the Tulong Saber and the Yitian Sword as well?”
Zhang Wuji looked around and sure enough, he did not see either the Saber or the Sword. He was so enraged that he almost cried. Never would he imagine that Zhao Min was capable of doing this, taking advantage when he was in grave danger and employed such a sinister plot when he was down.
He was lost in thought for a moment. Then he remembered Yin Li and hastily went back to where Yin and Zhou, two women were sleeping. He pushed Zhou Zhiruo aside, but she was still fast asleep. He thought, “My internal energy is the deepest, hence I was the first to wake up. Yifu was next. Miss Zhou’s internal energy is far below ours. It looks like she won’t wake up for a while yet.” Immediately he ripped a piece of his clothes to wipe the blood from Yin Li’s oval face. He saw seven horizontal and eight vertical thin cuts crisscrossing her cheeks. Apparently, she was cut by the Yitian Sword.
Yin Li had lost a lot of blood after being injured by Zi Shan Long Wang Jin Hua Popo. As a result, the poison of the thousand spiders accumulated in her blood was also dispersed along with her blood, causing the swelling on her face to subside considerably. Hence, for these last several days, her face had slightly returned to its former look; the pretty look Yin Li had when she was younger. But right now, with these dozen of cuts, her face looked severely fearsome.
Zhang Wuji was both grieved and angry. Gnashing his teeth he said, “Zhao Min, oh, Zhao Min, if you fall into my hand and I spare you, then Zhang Wuji has lived in vain.” Calming himself down he went to the hillside to gather some medicinal herbs to stop the bleeding. He chewed the herbs and applied it on Yin Li’s face, also on Zhou Zhiruo’s scalp and ear.
Zhou Zhiruo yawned and opened her eyes. Suddenly she saw Zhang Wuji was reaching out and groping her head. Her face turned red from shyness. Reaching up to shove his arm away, she angrily said, “You … what are you …” Before finished speaking, she had felt the pain on her ear. Immediately she touched her ear and cried out, “Ah!” and jumped to stand up. “What …?” she said, but suddenly she felt her knees weaken and she fell into Zhang Wuji’s bosom.
Zhang Wuji reached out to support her. “Miss Zhou,” he comfortingly said, “Don’t be afraid.”
Seeing Yin Li’s terrifying face, Zhou Zhiruo hastily lifted up her hand to touch her own face and asked in fear, “I … Am I also …?”
“No!” Zhang Wuji said, “You only suffer some minor wounds.”
“Did those evil Persians do this? I … How didn’t I feel anything?” Zhou Zhiruo asked.
Zhang Wuji sighed and quietly said, “I am afraid … I am afraid Miss Zhao did this. She poisoned our food and drink last night.”
Zhou Zhiruo stared blankly for half a day. She stroked what remained of her ear and broke into tears. Zhang Wuji tried to console her, “You are lucky that the injury is not heavy. Your ear is damaged, but you can always put your hair down to cover it, others won’t be able to see.”
“Still talking about hair?” Zhou Zhiruo snapped, “My hair is also gone.”
Zhang Wuji said, “You only lost some on top of your head; if you arrange the hair on both sides of your head …”
“Why do I want to arrange the hair on both sides of my head?” Zhou Zhiruo angrily said, “Up this moment you are still trying to protect your Miss Zhao.”