Crazee, sorry ... I was a couple of hours late ... It was a hectic day. Smurf, the historical Chen Yuanyuan ... never mind. I don't want to write anything that might be construed as spoiler. Anh, Sky, Muliono, you are most welcome. Enjoy your weekend.
Actually, Wu Sangui had already surrendered to him. But as soon as he heard that he had snatched me, he borrowed Manchurian troops, leading them to breach the Pass. Ay, this is the ‘One wave of headgear-lifting anger propelled him, all for the sake of the fair-faced one’ part. Li Zicheng led his army out to meet him, he fought Wu Sangui on a slab of stone. Manchu’s elite troops suddenly appeared, Li Zicheng’s army was utterly defeated. They said that on the slab-of-stone battlefield there was blood everywhere; along several dozen li road, there were dead bodies everywhere. They said that these people died because of me; it was me who caused these several tens of thousands people’s death. Have I really heaped such a heinous sin upon myself?
After his defeat, Li Zicheng returned to Beijing and ascended the throne as the Emperor, he called himself the Emperor of the Great Shun Country. He took me fleeing to the west, Wu Sangui was hot on our trail. Although Li Zicheng was defeated, his laughter was still very much straightforward. The soldiers and officers under his command numbered less and less as the days gone by, his situation was more and more unfavorable, but he did not seem to care. He said that he started with nothing, at worst he would end up with nothing; what’s so strange about that? He said that there were three things he was most proud of in all his life: first, he had hounded the Ming Dynasty Emperor to his death, second, he had been an emperor, and third, he had slept with the number one beauty in the world. This man’s talk was very vulgar; he said that among those three accomplishments, he was most proud of the third.
Wu Sangui also wholeheartedly wants to be the Emperor; he has never said it, but I know. It’s just that in his heart he is afraid, he always hesitates; he thought about making his move, but did not dare to do so. As long as he did not die today, there will come a day that he may become the Emperor. It’s all right if he became the Emperor here in Kunming, it’s all right if he became the Emperor only for a day.
Emperor Yong Li fled to Myanmar, Wu Sangui pursued him and killed him. People say that three Emperors have died in my hands: Chong Zhen, Yong Li, and this Emperor Li Zicheng of the Great Shun Country. How did I become responsible of Emperor Chong Zhen’s account? I wonder if Wu Sangui is going to die today. If he became the Emperor in the future, will they say that I killed another Emperor? The Great Ming’s rivers and mountains, several hundred thousand soldiers, several millions common people, plus four Emperors; it was I, Chen Yuanyuan, who killed them all. Yet I have not committed even a single bad deed, I have not even uttered any harmful word to anybody.”
Her ears kept hearing the ‘bing, bing, bang, bang’ of the weapons colliding with each other; when she looked up, she saw Li Zicheng and Wu Sangui were jumping high and crouching low, their fight was very fierce. Although these two men were already old, their movements were still very agile. In all her life, she was most afraid of watching men killing each other, and right now that loathing feeling was evident on her face. She also recalled what happened in the past, “After the crushing defeat, the troops and soldiers under Li Zicheng’s command scattered everywhere. Even in the night, he was no longer with me. Wu Sangui’s subordinates found me, and hastily presented me to their commander-in-chief. Naturally he was overjoyed. He said that people cursed him as the big traitor, but for my sake, bearing this bad reputation was worth it. I really appreciate his affection. I don’t care if he is the big traitor or a big loyal minister, because he was being true to me; for my sake, he would do anything. Other than him, nobody has ever treated me this way.
At that time I thought that from now on I would live a peaceful and happy life. I don’t care about first-pin rank Madame, or second-pin rank Madame; I only hoped that I would not have to run around in circles from one man’s hand to the other. But … but … after living in Kunming for several years, he was bestowed the title Qin Wang [Prince], and a Qin Wang must have a fujin [Manchurian word for ‘wife’]. His first wife has passed away early on. His younger brother Wu Sanmei came to me and told me that because of this fujin matter, Wangye was in great distress. By right, he should have taken me as his fujin, but everybody in the world knew my family background. If he reported my name so that the Emperor could confer an honorary title by imperial edict, unavoidably he would profane the imperial court. Naturally I understood that as a Qin Wang, he resented my background as a lowly woman, a prostitute; that I was not fit to receive honorary title by the Emperor. I did not want to make things difficult for him; without waiting for Wu Sanmei to finish, I told him that it was an easy matter, I told him to ask Wangye to pick a wise and virtuous woman from a famous family as his fujin, to avoid smearing his reputation. He came to apologize to me, telling me that he had indeed been unfair to me. Humph, becoming fujin or not, what’s the big deal? It’s just that eventually I understood that his affection to me had also reached its end. I moved out from the Mansion, because Wangye wanted to officially marry, he had to establish his fujin.
Right around that time, Li Zicheng suddenly appeared in front of me. He has become a Buddhist monk. I was scared out of my wits. I thought he had already died, and I was grieving for him for several days; who would have thought that he is still alive? Li Zicheng said that he wore Buddhist monk attire simply to deceive people’s ears and eyes, while it also give him the excuse of not shaving his head and wearing the Tatars’ attire. He told me that for the last several years he had been thinking about me daily; he had been living in Kunming for more than three years, and had always been looking for an opportunity to see me, until that day. Ay, could it be that his affection to me was a lot deeper than Wu Sangui’s?
Every night he came to accompany me, until finally I got pregnant with this little baby girl. I could not see him anymore, I must return to the Mansion immediately. I told Wangye that I missed him very much, and I wanted him to accompany me. Wangye has never had heartfelt fondness toward his fujin anyway, he happily took me back. Afterwards the baby girl was born. I wonder if he ever had any suspicion.
When the baby girl was a little over two years old, she suddenly disappeared in the middle of the night. Although I hate to part with her, I thought it was Li Zicheng who sent someone to kidnap her. She is his child, if he wanted her, then that’s good. He was alone, he must be distressingly lonely, if there was a child by his side, he would not feel so much alone and forsaken. Who would have thought … ay, who would have thought that that was not the case …”
Suddenly a drop of liquid fell on the back of her hand; when she looked down, it was a drop of blood. She was shocked and quickly looked up to the two men who were still fighting. She saw there was blood all over Wu Sangui’s face, but he was still brandishing his lance in a hard fighting. The drop of blood naturally was splashed from his face.
Outside the room, the officers and men were shouting and cheering loudly, some were hurling threats toward Li Zicheng and Jiu Nan, but nobody dared to join the fight for fear that they would hurt their Prince.
Wu Sangui was panting continuously; there was fear in his eyes. Suddenly the tip of the lance changed direction and went straight toward Chen Yuanyuan’s chest.
“Ah!” Chen Yuanyuan cried out in alarm. “He wants to kill me!” This thought flashed in her mind.
‘Dang!’ the lance was parried by Li Zicheng. It was as if Wu Sangui had gone mad; he thrust his lance repeatedly, each one was directed to Chen Yuanyuan. Li Zicheng bellowed in rage, while desperately blocking and parrying; he was no longer able to attack Wu Sangui.
Wei Xiaobao was hiding behind his Shifu’s back, he was greatly astonished, “Why would the big traitor not attack the monk, but attacking his wife instead?” Bu he immediately understood, “Ah, right; he must be angry that his wife has sneakily met the monk, hence he wants to kill her to vent his anger.”
But Jiu Nan had been able to see Wu Sangui’s real intention, “This evil man is extremely treacherous. He cannot beat Li Zicheng, hence he resorted to this evil scheme.”
Sure enough, because Li Zicheng wanted to save Chen Yuanyuan, he was flustered and his mind was thrown into disorder, several gaps appeared in the movement of his staff. Wu Sangui’s lance changed direction again, ‘stab’, he suddenly hit Li Zicheng’s shoulder. Li Zicheng lost the strength of his right hand, his monk staff fell. Wu Sangui seized this opportunity to pounce, he pointed the lance toward the pit of Li Zicheng’s stomach. Laughing maliciously, he said, “Rebel, aren’t you going to kneel down and surrender?”
“Yes, yes,” Li Zicheng replied. Slowly he bent his knees.
Wei Xiaobao mused, “I always thought that Li Zicheng was such an amazing man, but actually he is greedy for life …” He had just had that thought, suddenly Li Zicheng rolled away to evade the tip of the lance, grabbed his monk staff from the floor, and swept it horizontally toward Wu Sangui’s calves. Li Zicheng then sprang up, the monk staff struck down on Wu Sangui’s shoulder, and in the third strike the staff shot down onto the top of Wu Sangui’s head.
Wei Xiaobao did not know that when the circumstance was unfavorable, surrendering in order to take a breather and then seizing the opportunity to gain an upper hand, was exactly the tactic Li Zicheng was very good at in all his life. When he was leading the rebel troops in the past, on the seventh month of his seventh year Chong Zhen surrounded him and trapped him in the bottom of Juxiang Gorge at Xing’an county of Shaanxi Province, the imperial army laid a siege all around, there was no way out, the troops had no food, the horses had no straw; at a glance it looked like a total annihilation. Li Zicheng surrendered, and was taken into the imperial army. As soon as he was out of the plank road, he rose into rebellion again immediately. When he bent his knees to feign surrender to Wu Sangui just now, it was no more than executing his old trick once again.
Jiu Nan thought, “These two men are equally ruthless and crafty, no wonder the Great Ming’s rivers and mountains were lost in these two men’s hands.”
They all saw that if Li Zicheng’s third strike hit, Wu Sangui’s brains would burst out. Chen Yuanyuan suddenly jumped and threw herself on top of Wu Sangui’s body, “Kill me first!” she called out.
Li Zicheng was shocked, the momentum of his staff strike was swift and fierce, his right shoulder was injured, he had no strength in his right hand to hold the staff. Immediately his left hand pushed to the right, ‘Bang!’ the iron monk staff struck the wall. “Yuanyuan,” he angrily shouted, “What are you doing?”
“He and I were husband and wife for more than twenty years,” Chen Yuanyuan replied, “In those years he … he was sincerely treating me very well. I cannot let him die because of me.”
“Get out of the way!” Li Zicheng shouted, “He and I have enmity as deep as the ocean. I must kill him.”
“Then kill me too,” Chen Yuanyuan replied.
Li Zicheng sighed. He said, “Turns out … turns out your heart is still leaning toward him.”
Chen Yuanyuan did not answer, but in her heart she thought, “If he wants to kill you, I will also die with you.”
From outside the room, the officers and soldiers saw Wu Sangui fell, they also cried out loudly while surging forward. A general shouted loudly, “Quickly release Wangye, or all of you will die.” It was precisely Wu Sangui’s son-in-law Xia Guoxiang. He continued shouting, “Your companions are all here, if you harm a strand of Wangye’s hair, their heads will fall to the ground immediately.”
Wei Xiaobao looked outside, and saw Mu Jiansheng, Liu Dahong and the other Mu Palace people, and Xu Tianchuan, Gao Yanchao, Priest Xuanzhen and the other Tian Di Hui people, Zhao Qixian, Zhang Kangnian, and the other Imperial Bodyguards, Valiant Cavalry Can Ling [Regimental Commander] and Zuo Ling [Company Commander]; all of them with hands tied, each of them had a Ping Xi Wang military officer behind his back, with unsheathed saber placed on his neck.
Wei Xiaobao thought, “Even if Shifu could take me out of Kunming, all these friends will inevitably die. We want to kill Wu Sangui, but there is no hurry to do it at this time.” Thereupon he pulled his dagger and put it on Wu Sangui’s back; he said, “Wangye, all of us die together, there is no sense in it; it would be better for us to do a business transaction.”
“Humph,” Wu Sangui grunted, “What business transaction?”
Wei Xiaobao said, “You promise to let everybody go, my Shifu will spare your life.”
Li Zicheng said, “This traitor is a lowly person, repeat offender; what he says cannot be trusted.”
Looking at the people with their hands bound outside, Jiu Nan also felt that she could not kill Wu Sangui today; she said, “You give an order to let everybody go, I will also let you go.”
“What about Ah Ke?” Wei Xiaobao said in a loud voice, “That female assassin?”
Xia Guoxiang shouted, “Bring the assassin here.”
Two Mansion guards pushed a young woman, which was none other than Ah Ke. Her hands were also tied behind her back, and a glittering saber was also placed on her neck.