Chapter – 11
The Medicated Wine
Shi Potian could see dark red blood stains on the ground, lying around were a few broken swords, several crows croaked and flew over his head, he picked up the saber immediately and called out: “A’Xiu, A’Xiu!” He rushed to the big tree but A’Xiu as not there.
Shi Potian thought: “She might have returned.” He quickly went back to the cave and called out: “A’Xiu, A’Xiu!” but she was not there, even Grandma Shi was not there. He got frightened, and then he saw on the ground several characters were written with coke. Of course he didn’t understand its meaning as he was illiterate and suspected that Grandma Shi and A’Xiu had left the place.
At first he was perplexed and felt lonely on the island but then he got used to it as since his childhood most of the time he had lived alone so his heart calmed. Now his chest wound was also no longer bleeding and he thought: “Everyone has gone so I should also go and look for Grandma Shi and A’Xiu.” By then his uneasiness had subsided and he was feeling a lot more relaxed. He thought about Grandma Shi and A’Xiu and unconsciously took his saber and went to the waterfront.
He saw the mighty turbulent waves, but near the shore there was no ships or any other vessels. That Azure Mist island was not really big, he walked around the island in a circle but didn’t find any trace of a ships. He raised his eyes and looked in to the river but didn’t saw even a sail.
As time passed he even hoped that Grandma Shi and A’Xiu will return so he came back to the cave. He ate some persimmons to appease his hunger and then rested a bit as darkness loomed in.
In the night suddenly he heard big booming noises on the riverside, then tears of ordinary cotton cloth, followed by a rush of water. Under the pale star light he saw a ship nearby the shore, but the curtain didn’t moved. He was afraid that either of Ding Busi or Ding Busan might be traveling on the ship so he didn’t dare to go forward, he hid behind a big tree. He heard another loud sound as a gale hit the ship, sailed got entangled but unexpectedly nobody paid any attention.
Shi Potian saw that the ship rocked again and again against the gale, curtains fluttering. He rushed to the shore and called out: “Is there someone on the ship?” He heard no sound in reply so he took a leap and landed on the bow of the ship but cannot see anything as it was quite dark.
He entered the cabin, the moment he went inside his foot stumbled and he bumped in to someone. Someone was lying on the deck.
Shi Potian said: “Sorry!” He put out his hand to hold him and pull him up but the hands were ice-cold, the person was already dead. He was surprised and struck out with his left hand reflexively; it bumped in to icy hand of another person, that person too was dead.
His heart was thumping madly, he tried to move towards the rear side of ship, his feet landed on another corpse. He called out alarmingly: “ship…in this ship some people are?” he was exceedingly terrified and only heard his sound and nothing else.
After staggering along the ship, under the star light he saw that tens of people were lying on the deck, each one bent down stiffly and obviously all dead.
By now on the river there was a very strong autumn wind, several broken sails flapped around in the wind and made large noise. The strong breeze was blowing the ship's broken bamboo pipe and creating eerie sound. Although Shi Potian has been used to be alone and was usually bold but on this night with so many corpses and such ambience he was greatly terrified. His ears start hearing different kind of sounds.
He recalled in his mind the scene in Hou Jianji when that corpse of Wu Dao Tong clutched him nearly to suffocate, he felt goose bumps on his whole body, he wanted to leap immediately and come ashore but the ship had come far from the shore. Originally this ship fluttered afloat around the Azure Mist island, but eventually ran around in circles floated along the river downstream. He didn’t dare to go in the cabin, he thought for some time and then leapt from the boat cover, grasped the mast and sat there waiting for the dawn.
The early morning sun came out, once the brightness increased then only his fear subsided, he jumped back on the deck and then saw at least 50-60 corpses inside and outside the cabin, he was alarmed as he saw that each corpse did not have a single bloodstain, also did not have any saber or sword wound. He did not know why they died.
He circled the bow; saw in the center of the cabin door two sparkling bronze medals, approximately size of the palm of a hand. On one sign was inscribed a smiling face, kind gentle, on another sign was engraved a fierce ghost god with ominous face. He saw these two bronze medals nailed on the cabin door, appearing very strange. He gazed at the bronze medals for a moment and then saw the sign with faces and felt as if they were live and didn’t dare to look at them again and turned away immediately.
He saw numerous corpses, some holding pointed weapons in their hands, some had swords in their waist; obviously these people were from the martial arts world. When he examined carefully again he saw embroidery of live wing fish with white silk on the shoulder of each person. He suspected that on this ship all these people were from same sect and somehow met a powerful enemy and all died.
That ship was suitable for the torrential river water and it went to the downstream. Around noon suddenly two surface ships rowing side by side came within the vicinity of this ship.
The helmsman of the ship saw dripping body slanting from the boat, he yelled: “pull back, pull back!”
Since no one was steering Shi Potian’s ship, as soon as other ship came close to it in the river, the anxious whirl turned on lathe and his ship moved towards the surface ship and collided with a loud sound. He only heard the sounds of people shouting and scolding filthily.
Shi Potian was frightened, he deliberately considered: “this ship has already collided and damaged that incoming ship, they will inevitably come and investigate the matter and once they will see the corpses will blame me for all these deaths, how was that be good?” he was desperate and shrinks hurriedly in to the cabin, opened the deck and hid into the bilge.