Wei Xiaobao heard some scraping noise, presumably Xiao Guizi used a knife to cut the rope binding Mao Shiba's hands and feet. A moment later, the rope tying his own hands and feet was also cut, followed by the cloth covering his eyes were taken away. As he opened his eyes, Wei Xiaobao could see that they were in a large room, which was sparsely furnished. There was only a table and one chair, with a teapot and teacup on the table. The old eunuch Hai was sitting, half-reclining, on the chair; his cheeks were very deep, his eyes were half-open half-closed. By this time the sky had turned dark. There were two flaming candles on the wall, held by a couple of copper candle holders. The flame swayed, making old eunuch Hai's sallow face flicker between light and dark. Xiao Guizi took the cloth stuffed inside Mao Shiba's mouth out.
"This child's mouth is unclean, let him be gagged a while longer," old eunuch Hai said.
Wei Xiaobao's hands were free, but he did not dare to take the cloth out himself. Perhaps the obscenities he hurled in his heart were ten times worse than the old eunuch Hai could ever imagined.
The old eunuch Hai said, "Go get a chair, let him sit down." Xiao Guizi went into the next room and brought back a chair, which he set next to Mao Shiba. Mao Shiba sat down immediately. Seeing he was not given any chair, without any care Wei Xiaobao sat down on the floor.
"Laoxiong," old eunuch Hai addressed Mao Shiba, "May I know your honorable surname and your great name? Which family or school do you belong to? Your qin na technique is not bad, apparently not part of our northern style martial art."
"My surname is Mao," Mao Shiba replied, "I am called Mao Shiba. I belong to the Five Tigers Breaking the Gates Saber School of Taizhou, Jiangbei."
The old eunuch Hai nodded and said, "Mao Shiba, Mao Laoxiong, I have heard about your reputation. I heard around the Yangzhou area Laoxiong has plundered and killed some officers to escape from prison. It was quite an accomplishment indeed."
"That's right," Mao Shiba said. He could not help but to admit defeat to this sickly, tuberculosis old eunuch's astonishing martial art skill, so he did not dare to openly contradicting him.
The old eunuch Hai said, "What is the purpose of your visit to the capital, Sire? Do you care to share it with me?"
Mao Shiba said, "Since I am already fallen into your hands, you want to kill, you want to hack, I am entirely at your disposal, the one surnamed Mao is a Jianghu man, I won't wrinkle my brows. If you want to extort a confession, you are misjudging me."
The old eunuch Hai showed a faint smile as he said, "Who does not know that Mao Shiba is a firm, real man? I would not dare to extort your confession. I heard that Sire is Pingxi Wangye's trusted aide ..."
He had not finished speaking when Mao Shiba's anger rose, he shouted, "Who has anything to do with this big traitor Wu Sangui? By saying such thing, you are smearing Mao Shiba's reputation as a patriot."
The old eunuch Hai coughed several times, with a faint smile he said, "Pingxi Wangye has rendered great merit to the Great Qing, His Majesty has a really high regard of him. If Sire is Pingxi Wangye's man, by looking at Pingxi Wangye's face, such a trivial offense need not be haggled over."
"I am not, I am not!" Mao Shiba shouted loudly, "Mao Shiba and that stinky thief Wu Sangui do not have any relation whatsoever, the one surnamed Mao is unwilling to receive any favor from this big traitor to China. If you want to kill just kill, if you say I was this Wu thief's trusted aide, surnamed Mao's ancestors were all rotten and moldy."
Wu Sangui had led the Qing army entering the pass, to the extent that the Ming Dynasty was subjugated to the foreign power. At the marketplace, whenever the name Wu Sangui was mentioned, Wei Xiaobao always heard the phrases 'traitor to China', 'stinky thief', or 'his mother thief' added to his name; he thought, "From this old turtle's tone, if only Mao Dage is willing to admit that he is Wu Sangui's trusted aide, the old turtle would let us go. Too bad that Mao Dage's bones are too stiff and he is unwilling to pretend to be one. But his bones are stiff, his skin and flesh will suffer. The common saying is right, 'A real man won't be at a disadvantage from the outset', naturally those who are disadvantaged are not hero or real men. There is no harm for us to speak nonsense, saying Wu Sangui regards the two of us with such care. When we escape alive, it won't be too late to curse Wu Sangui's eighteen generations ancestors."
Gradually the blood in his hands and feet was able to flow again; quietly he brought his sleeve to cover his face as he take away the cloth gagging his mouth. The old eunuch Hai's gaze was focused on Mao Shiba's expression, he did not see Wei Xiaobao playing trick in secret.
Seeing Mao Shiba's stern expression, the old eunuch Hai smiled and said, "I thought Sire was sent to the capital by Pingxi Wangye; turns out I was wrong."
Mao Shiba thought, "This time I am being captured in Beijing, the footstool of the Emperor himself, obviously I won't escape with my life. A dead leopard leaves behind its skin, a dead man leaves his name. Mao Shiba's death is nothing, but I must not be an obscure person." He noticed Wei Xiaobao was looking at him helplessly, he loudly said, "Let me be honest with you, in the south I heard a rumor in Jianghu that Oboi is Manchu's number one warrior, that he is able to kill a wild bull with his palm, that he is able to kick tigers and leopard; people always give an exaggerated account of things. The one surnamed Mao refuses to accept; therefore, I came to Beijing with the special purpose of challenging him to a duel."
The old eunuch Hai sighed. "You want to have a duel with Oboi?" he said, "Oboi has reached the highest rank of officialdom. In Beijing, he is inferior only to the Emperor and Empress Dowager. Even if laoxiong waits in Bejing for eight years, ten years, you might not necessarily be able to see him, how can you have a duel with him?"
At first Mao Shiba believed the old eunuch Hai was using some kind of sorcery, afterwards the acupoint on his back was sealed, and only now did it gradually become unsealed; he knew he was facing an expert in internal energy cultivation. Looking at the old eunuch's expression and the tone of his voice, Mao Shiba guessed the old eunuch was a Manchu. If he was not an old, sickly Manchu's match, what chance did he have against the Manchu's number one warrior? When he fought Shi Song and his troops at the Victory Hill of Yangzhou, although the situation was critical, he was not in the least bit desperate; but now, facing this ghost eunuch suffering for tuberculosis, unexpectedly his heroic spirit disappeared completely. In the end, he could only heaved a deep sigh.
The old eunuch Hai asked, "Do you still want to have a duel with Oboi, Sire?"
"May I ask, how is that Oboi's martial art skill compared to Your Excellency?" Mao Shiba asked.
The old eunuch Hai smiled faintly as he said, "Oboi is a great minister who has both military and civil talents, with matchless glory and splendor. I am but a cruel-fated, despicable person. While Oboi is high in the sky, I am low on the earth, how can we be compared?" He was speaking only about the difference in two people's status, unexpectedly not one sentence about martial art ability was even mentioned.
Mao Shiba said, "If that Oboi has half of your martial art skill, I am definitely not his match."
The old eunuch Hai said with a smile, "Laoxiong is too modest. Tell me, with my shallow martial art skill, if I want to compare it to Chen Jinnan's, how do you think I will fare?"
Mao Shiba sprang up and said, "You ... you ... what did you say?"
The old eunuch Hai said, "I am talking about your respected society's Zongduozhu, Chen Jinnan. I heard Chen Zongduozhu practices ‘Blood Clotting Divine Claw’, his internal energy cultivation is unfathomably deep. It's a pity we are not destined to see each other; I am a despicable person, I do not have the fortune to pay Chen Zongduozhu a visit."
"I don't belong to Tian Di Hui, and I don't have the fortune to pay Chen Zongduozhu a visit either," Mao Shiba said, "I only heard Chen Zongduozhu's martial art skill to be very high, how high or what his technique looks like, I can't possibly know."
The old eunuch Hai sighed and said, “Mao Xiong, I have known from the start that you are a good man. With this kind of good skill, why don’t you serve the imperial household? You may be a provincial governor in the future, or even a general won’t be out of question. If you follow Tian Di Hui starting a rebellion, ay …” He shook his head, and then continued, “You won’t have a good end. Let me give you an advice, you’d better rein the horse at the edge of the precipice, withdraw from Tian Di Hui.”
“I … I … I am not a Tian Di Hui’s member,” Mao Shiba said. Suddenly he raised his voice and said, “It’s not that I am denying that I am one of them. The one surnamed Mao wishes to become a member of the Tian Di Hui, it’s just that I do not have anybody to sponsor me. There is a saying in Jianghu: ‘Whoever never knew Chen Jinnan, he calls himself a hero in vain’. Hai Laogong, I believe you have also heard this saying. The one surnamed Mao is definitely a Han, although I haven’t joined the Tian Di Hui, I am determined to fight the Qing and restore the Ming; how can you advise me to serve the Qing and become a traitor to Han instead? Just kill me quickly; the one surnamed Mao has killed and burned, my crimes are too great, I should have died early on. It’s just that I have never seen Chen Jinnan, so there’s a part of me which does not want to die with closed eyes.”
The old eunuch Hai said, “You, Han people, refuse to accept Manchu’s rule over the land under the heaven, there’s nothing wrong with that. I respect you as a real man, so I won’t kill you today. I am going to let you see Chen Jinnan first, so that you can die with your eyes closed. The earlier you see him the better. When you see him, tell him that Hai Laogong wants to see him very much, I want to try his ‘Blood Clotting Divine Claw’, I want to see how formidable it really is. I wish for him to come to the capital as soon as he can. Ay, the old man don’t have too many days left, if Chen Zongduozhu does not come to Beijing soon, I won’t be able to see him at all. Hey, hey, ‘Whoever never knew Chen Jinnan, he calls himself a hero in vain’! I want to see what kind of hero Chen Jinnan really is, why does he have such a big reputation in the Jianghu?”
Hearing that the old eunuch Hai unexpectedly agreed to let him go, Mao Shiba was taken aback. He stood motionless and did not walk out immediately. “What are you waiting for?” the old eunuch Hai said, “Why haven’t you left?”
“Right!” Mao Shiba said. He turned around and pulled Wei Xiaobao’s hand along. He wanted to say something nice, but did not know what to say.
The old eunuch Hai sighed. “In vain you have been wandering around the Jianghu for a long time, even a little bit of custom you do not understand. You just want to walk away without leaving anything?”
Mao Shiba clenched his teeth. “You’re right, the one surnamed Mao is negligent. Little brother, lend me your knife, I’ll cut my left hand for you,” he said, while pointing to the dagger by the little eunuch, Xiao Guizi. The dagger was approximately eight cun [cun is a unit of length, approximately an inch or a thumb], it was the dagger Xiao Guizi used to cut the rope binding their hands and feet.
“Just a left hand is not enough,” old eunuch Hai said.
Mao Shiba’s face turned ashen. “Do you want me to cut my right hand as well?” he asked.
The old eunuch Hai nodded. “That’s right,” he said, “Both hands. Actually, I also want your pair of eyes, (cough … cough …) but I figure you want to see Chen Jinnan. If you don’t have any eyes, you won’t be able to see him. Let’s do this: gouge your left eye, you may keep the right eye!”
Mao Shiba took two steps back and let Wei Xiaobao’s hand go. His left palm raised, his right hand slanting with palm down, in the ‘Rhinoceros Gazing at the Moon’ stance, thinking, “You want to gouge my left eye, and break my both hands, why would I want to live as a cripple? I’d rather stake everything to fight you, if I die in your palm, that will be the end of it.”
The old eunuch Hai did not even look at him; he coughed repeatedly, his coughing was getting more violent, until at last he could not breathe at all. His originally sallow face had turned red and swollen.
“Gong-gong,” Xiao Guizi said, “How about another dose?”
The old eunuch Hai shook his head repeatedly, but his coughing did not stop. A moment later he could not take it anymore, he stood up and grabbed his own neck with his left hand, his expression showed extreme pain.
“If I don’t leave now, what am I waiting for?” Mao Shiba mused. With a leap he pulled Wei Xiaobao’s hand and bolted toward the door. The old eunuch Hai pinched the table with his right hand’s thumb and index finger, immediately a piece of wood broke off. ‘Swish!’ he flicked it out. Mao Shiba was a large stride away from the door, the piece of wood struck the futu [crouching rabbit] acupoint on his right leg. Immediately his right leg went numb and he fell kneeling down on the floor. Another ‘Swish!’ was heard as another piece of wood flew and struck the acupoint on Mao Shiba’s left leg. Amidst the old eunuch Hai’s coughing, taking Wei Xiaobao along, Mao Shiba rolled down on the ground.
“Take half a dose,” Xiao Guizi said, “It won’t do you any harm.”
“Alright, alright,” the old eunuch Hai said, “Just … just a little bit. Too much … it’s too dangerous.”
“Yes!” Xiao Guizi replied, while reaching out to get the medicine pouch from his pocket. He turned around toward the other room, and went back out with a cup of wine. Opening up the pouch, he took a little bit of powder with the nail of his little finger. “Too … too much,” old eunuch Hai said.
“Yes!” Xiao Guizi said, returning some of the powder on his nail back into the pouch, his eyes were at the old eunuch Hai. The old eunuch Hai nodded. He bent down again and started coughing; suddenly he threw his body forward, he crawled on the floor and did not stop twisting and turning.
Xiao Guizi was greatly alarmed, he rushed forward and cried out, “Gong-gong, Gong-gong, what happens?”
Gasping for breath, the old eunuch Hai said, “Hot … it’s hot … help … help me … to water … water tub to soak … soak …”
“Yes!” Xiao Guizi replied, as he struggled to help him up. The two of them staggered together into the inner room, followed by splashing noise of the water.
All of these did not escape Wei Xiaobao’s eyes. He got up quietly and tiptoed to the table. Stretching out his little finger, he took three fingernails full of medicinal powder and dumped it into the wine. Afraid it was not enough, he took two more fingernails, and then folded the medicine pouch and re-opened it, and thus erasing the fingernail mark from the powder.
He heard Xiao Guizi in the inner room said, “Gong-gong, is it enough? Please don’t soak too long.” “Hot … I’m hot …” the old eunuch Hai said, “It feels like I am being roasted.” Seeing the dagger lying on the table, Wei Xiaobao took it in his hand, and went back toward Mao Shiba and lay down on the floor.
Not too long afterwards, the splashing noise diminished. Dripping wet, the old eunuch Hai came out of the inner room, supported by Xiao Guizi. He had not stopped coughing. Xiao Guizi took the wine cup from the table and brought it to his mouth. The old eunuch Hai was still coughing and did not drink immediately. Wei Xiaobao felt his heart was about to jump out his throat.
The old eunuch Hai said, “If I can not take … it’s best if I not … not take the medicine.”
“Yes!” Xiao Guizi said, putting the wine cup back on the table. He wrapped the medicine pouch securely and put it back into the old eunuch Hai’s pocket. But the old eunuch Hai’s coughing was getting worse. He pointed to the wine cup. Xiao Guizi picked up the wine cup and brought it to his mouth. The old eunuch Hai drank it in one gulp.
Mao Shiba was unable to remain calm and let out a cry, “Ah!”
The old eunuch Hai said, “You … if you think … you can escape alive …” Suddenly with a crash the chair collapsed. The old eunuch Hai crouched on the table, but he was leaning with such a tremendous force that, with two loud crashes, the table and the person collapsed together.
In great alarm Xiao Guizi screamed, “Gong-gong, Gong-gong!” as he rushed forward to help the old eunuch Hai up, his back was facing Mao Shiba and Wei Xiaobao. Wei Xiaobao lightly sprang up, raising his dagger he drove it ferociously on Xiao Guizi’s back. Xiao Guizi let out a low groan and died instantly. The old eunuch Hai was still twisting and turning on the floor. Wei Xiaobao raised his dagger and aimed it at the old eunuch Hai’s back, ready to drive it down again. Right this moment, the old eunuch Hai lifted up his head and said, “Xiao … Xiao Guizi, something’s wrong with the medicine.”
 Lit. 'peaceful west'. Ping Xi Wang – king who pacifies the west.