Here is my ambitious attempt at translating Xia Ke Xing. There are quite a few words I can't read, and so even though I can get the main gist of the story, certain things are out of my league, even with the aid of a dictionary, as I'm not very sure how to find certain words. Notable missing bits are the beginning, when the author speaks about Li Bai and the poem Xia Ke Xing, which I haven't a clue how to even start translating. The bit about the village history, and that middle word (which I don't know how to find in the dictionary) is also off, and a few details such as the descriptions of the man in white, the man in black and the tall man, also contained words which escape me, but I don't think they matter much. I apologise if I left out anything important, and for any mistakes and misrepresentations, and if anybody can append to the thread with corrections I'll be very grateful!
Here's the first 3 pages - it's much harder than I thought...
The Black Steel Symbol (Xuan Tie Ling)
There was once a small town called Hou Jian Ji, situated twenty miles east of Kaifeng. The town got its name from Hou Cheng, who was once the head of the guards guarding the eastern gate of Da Liang. (this bit is probably completely inaccurate as I can't read some of the words).
It was almost dusk on this particular day, with the peasants going about their daily business, when suddenly there came the rumble of hoofbeats from the northeast. The sounds were getting closer and closer, and judging from the noise, there were probably around 200 horses in total coming this way. "It's probably the army", guessed some, while others kept saying "get out of the way - when the army horses come, they'll run you over."
The horses finally arrived, and the hoofbeats slowed down. The whinnying of the horses could be heard in the town centre, and later on the whinnying seemed to come from all over the place, as if the whole town was surrounded. Some people were understandably concerned that these were bandits. "Oh no, it's those damned chaps" groaned one of the peasants. "Not 'chaps'...." cautioned another. "'masters'... but I've never seen this happen in broad daylight, though. How weird."
He suddenly stopped as four of the horsemen slowly approached him. At the head of the riders was a man dressed in white, carrying a large sabre. "Old peasant!" he called. "Everybody stays where they are... if anybody moves don't blame my sabre for being blind." He then galloped down the road in a western direction, and the noise of those hooves trotting over the ground made the hearts of the peasants jump.
As he was riding, another seven horses came galloping in from the west side, this time led by a man in black. He wore a hat low over his face, and he ordered "Don't move and everything will be alright. If anybody wants to taste my "sabre noodles" by all means feel free to step forward.". A peasant chuckled and said "I wonder how "sabre noodles" taste like..." he was joking, but before he had finished his sentence one of the riders lashed out with his whip, caught hold of the peasant and dragged him out onto the road with a thump. He then dragged him across the road, and another rider came across and had his horse trample the peasant to death.
About five or six doors away from all the commotion there stood a vendor hawking fried cakes. The stall had a big wok filled with oil, and a few flour dumplings were simmering in the oil. Hunched over the stall was a white-haired man tending the oil. He rolled up a ball of flour and flattened it into a cake, all the while ignoring the events happening in front of him. Taking some sesame, he scattered it over the top of the cake, and using a pair of tongs, lowered the cake into the wok of boiling oil.
By this time, the horses had stopped galloping around town. The seven to eight hundred peasants all around the streets were petrified and didn't dare make a sound. Even crying children were hushed by their parents, and all that could be heard was the leather footsteps of a man walking in slowly from the western side.
This man took his time walking, and to each peasant, each confident pounding step taken felt as if it was taken on their heads. The sun was setting, and the long shadow cast by the man, walking slowly amidst the silence, was enough to make everybody tremble. Only the cake vendor continued with his business, and the man walked right up to the cake stall, stopped, and started looking at the vendor. He then chuckled coldly.
The vendor looked up, and saw a very tall man with a very fierce look on his face. "Buy a fried cake, sir? Only one coin each." he asked. Using his tongs, he gently selected a cake from the wok and placed it on the wooden tray. "Hand it over!" ordered the tall man, sticking out his hand, and the vendor said "Yes, sir", took the cake from the tray and put it in the hand of the tall man.
The tall man's eyebrows raised up, and he said "At this stage, you still try to deceive me?" He then threw the cake at the vendor, who dodged it calmly and the cake flew past him, landing on the street behind him. The tall man then produced two hooks from his waist and brandished them wickedly before the vendor. ""Even now you refuse to hand it over? You who are surnamed Wu, do you not know when to give up?" The vendor replied "Sir, I think you made a mistake. My surname is Wang. Old man Wang the cake seller - everybody in Hou Jian Ji knows me." "Damn it" replied the tall man. "We've checked this very carefully. You can change your appearance and hide for a year or two, but you cannot hide forever!"
The vendor narrowed his eyes, and calmly said "I heard that Bandit Leader An from the Golden Sabre Bandit Camp was a man who stole from the rich and gave to the poor, and most people in the martial arts world when asked would rate him as a "heroic bandit". Why now must he send some underlings to come looking for a humble fried cake seller?" These words were said with confidence and authority, and were spoken slowly and clearly.
"Wu Daotong!" cried the tall man. "So you're not going to hand it over, are you?" The vendor then changed expression, and his muscles started to tense up, exuding an aura of menace himself. "Since you know my name, and yet you continue to address me without manners... don't you think you're being a bit too brave?" "Only now you know how brave I am?!!" shouted the tall man as he raised his left hook, and using the stroke "The hand arrives and grabs" (shou dao qin lai) hacked down towards Wu Daotong's left shoulder.