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Thread: The Deer and The Cauldron - Unabridged Thread

  1. #41
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 6 - Part 2

    Hai Laogong asked what had happened that day, Wei Xiaobao told him how he went to Oboi's home to search the house and confiscate his possessions. However, he did not mention anything about how he embezzled some treasure, gold and silver, dagger, et cetera. He concluded his narrative by saying, "The Empress Dowager sent me to Oboi's home to get hold of two copies of the 'Forty-two-chapter Sutra' ..."

    Hai Laogong suddenly sprang up and asked, "Oboi has two copies of ‘Forty-two-chapter Sutra'?"

    "That's right," Wei Xiaobao replied, "It was the Empress Dowager and His Majesty who sent me to fetch the books; otherwise I would have fetched it for you, other people do not need to know."

    Hai Laogong's countenance darkened. "Humph," he grunted, and then coldly said, "So it fell into the Empress Dowager's hands. Very good, very good!"

    A moment later the kitchen delivered their dinner. Hai Laogong only ate half of a small bowl and then he stopped eating altogether, he rolled his eyes until only the white part was visible, looked up to the ceiling and was lost in thought.

    After dinner, Wei Xiaobao was thinking of a short nap before leaving on the third watch to see that little palace maid to chat and have fun. Seeing Hai Laogong was sitting unmoving while staring blankly into the space, he went to bed, fully clothed, and fell asleep.

    After sleeping fitfully for a while, he quietly got up and tucked the small box containing the cake and pastry into his pocket. Afraid to wake Hai Laogong up, step by step he quietly tiptoed out. He reached the door, quietly opened the latch, and quietly pushed one door leaf; suddenly he heard Hai Laogong ask, "Xiao Guizi, where are you going?"

    Wei Xiaobao was startled. "I ... I want to pee," he said.

    "Why don't you pee in your room?" Hai Laogong asked.

    "I couldn't sleep," Wei Xiaobao replied, "I want to take a walk in the garden." Afraid Hai Laogong might stop him, without saying anything he stepped out. But his left foot had just moved one step when he felt the collar behind his neck tightened as he was grabbed by Hai Laogong and lifted up.

    "Ah!" Wei Xiaobao screamed, then he had a thought, "Bad, bad, the old turtle knew I was going to see that little palace maid and stop me from going." Before he finished his thought, Hai Laogong had already thrown him onto the bed.

    "Gong-gong," Wei Xiaobao said with a laugh, "Are you testing my martial art? You haven't taught me anything these past several days. What do you call that grab?"

    "Humph," Hai Laogong said, "It is called 'Catching a Bie [freshwater soft-shelled turtle] in the Jar', it's very easy. A bie is an armored fish, so I can catch you, a little armored fish."

    "Old armored fish caught little armored fish!" Wei Xiaobao said in his heart, but of course he did not dare to say it out loud. He rolled his eyes, trying to find a way to escape.

    Hai Laogong sat on the side of the bed and gently said, "You are bold yet cautious, smart and witty; although you are unwilling to steadfastly train martial art, yet if I polish and refine you well, you may be considered as a good material. It's too bad, really too bad."

    "Gong-gong, why is it too bad?" Wei Xiaobao asked.

    Hai Laogong did not answer, he only heaved a sigh. After half a day, he said, "Your Beijing accent is not bad, you learned well. If several months ago you were able to speak like this, without any Yangzhou accent at all, it would not be easy to detect."

    Wei Xiaobao was really shocked. In a split second all the hair in his body stood up; he was unable to stop his body from trembling, and his teeth from chattering lightly. With a forced laugh he said, "Gong-gong, tonight you ... you speak really ... hee hee ... really strange."

    Hai Laogong heaved a sigh again and asked, "Child, how old are you this year?"

    Hearing his gentle tone, Wei Xiaobao's fright and panic somewhat diminished; he said, "I ... I am thirteen, I think."

    "Thirteen is thirteen, fourteen is fourteen," Hai Laogong said, "Why is it 'thirteen, I think'?"

    Wei Xiaobao said, "My mother did not remember it too clearly, of course I won't have any way of knowing." It was a true statement, his mother was actually muddle-headed, she could not ascertain Wei Xiaobao's real age.

    Hai Laogong nodded and coughed several times before saying, "During martial art training several years ago, I accidentally suffer a fire deviation, and thus triggered up this coughing illness. The longer I cough, the worse it is, so for the last few years I know I won't get better."

    Wei Xiaobao said, "I ... think recently ... recently your cough is getting better."

    Hai Laogong shook his head, "What do you mean better?" he said, "Not better at all. My chest hurts very bad, how would you know that?"

    "How do you feel now?" Wei Xiaobao asked, "Do you want me to get the medicine for you to take?"

    Hai Laogong sighed, "My eyes can no longer see," he said, "Medicine cannot be taken randomly."

    Wei Xiaobao did not dare to breathe loudly; he was wondering the real reason behind those words.

    Hai Laogong continued, "Your luck is very good, you managed to curry the Emperor's favor, actually, you might achieve great things. Your body has not been cleansed, but it's not a big deal, I can purify you myself. It's just that, ay ..., it's too late, too late."

    Wei Xiaobao did not understand the meaning of 'purification', he only felt that somehow the way Hai Laogong speaking tonight was very strange. He said in a gentle voice, "Gong-gong, it's late, you should sleep."

    "Sleep? Sleep!" Hai Laogong said, "Ay, after I wake up from sleep, then what? Sleep in the morning, sleep at night, I want to sleep without waking forever. Child, an eternal sleep, no need to wake up, no pain in the pit of your stomach, no bad cough, won't that be extraordinarily beautiful?" Wei Xiaobao was so frightened that he did not dare to make any noise.

    "Child," Hai Laogong continued, "Who else is there in your home?"

    It was such a boring, ordinary question, but Wei Xiaobao had such a hard time to answer it. He did not know who else were in the dead Xiao Guizi's home; if he gave a random answer, he would most likely give himself away, but he could not not answering it. He was hoping that Hai Laogong did not know the situation in Xiao Guizi's home, and thus the reason he asked. Thereupon he said, "There is only my Laoniang[1] at home; as for the rest of my family, over these last few years, ay, I don’t want to talk about it.” He spoke in such a way that he mentioned the top part, but did not continue to the bottom. Supposing Xiao Guizi still had a father, older brother, older sister or younger brother, there was no harm in him using ‘I don’t want to talk about it’ as an excuse.

    Hai Laogong said, “Only your Laoniang. In your Fujian dialect, is that how you call your mother?”

    Wei Xiaobao was again very shocked. “What Fujian dialect?” he mused, “Could it be that Xiao Guizi is from Fujian? He said earlier that I have Yangzhou accent, perhaps … perhaps … the fact that his eyes were blinded by me, he still does not know?” In a flash, innumerable thoughts flitted through his mind; he said vaguely, “This … this … why did you ask?”

    Hai Laogong sighed and said, “You are still young, yet so bad. Hey, in the end, do you look like your father, or like your mother?”

    Wei Xiaobao giggled and said, “I don’t look like anybody. Good, I am not very good, bad, I can’t be considered outstandingly bad.”

    Hai Laogong coughed several times before saying, “I was already a grown-up when I was purified and became a eunuch …”

    Wei Xiaobao groaned inwardly, “Turns out to become a eunuch one must be purified; that is cutting off your peeing thing. He knew I haven’t been purified, if he purifies me, that will be sending the dragon nicely to the east …”

    He heard Hai Laogong continued, “Actually, I had a son, what a pity he died when he was eight. If he were alive today, my grandson would be about your age. That man surnamed Mao, Mao Shiba, is not your father, is he?”

    With a trembling voice Wei Xiaobao said, “No … he is not! Hot piece mama, of … of course he is not.” In his fright, he blurted out Yangzhou slang.

    Hai Laogong said, “I don’t think he is. If you were my son, and I lost you trapped in the imperial palace, even if there were great dangers, I would still try to help you out.”

    Wei Xiaobao forced a laugh and said, “Too bad I don’t have a father as good as you.”

    Hai Laogong said, “I taught you two sets of martial art, the first one was the 'big grappling technique', the second one was the 'Great Compassion Great Sorrow Thousand-Leaf Hand'. I have not learned both sets of technique entirely, naturally you haven’t mastered the sets, perhaps you only learned a tenth, half a tenth. Hey hey, hey hey.”

    “That’s right,” Wei Xiaobao said, “You, Senior, better teach me so that I may master these two sets or technique entirely. You have this kind of number-one-under-the-heavens martial art skill, if you have someone to pass your skill on, he may make you famous, it’s the sensible thing to do.”

    Hai Laogong shook his head. “These words ‘number one under the heavens’, how do I dare to accept? I don’t know how many people have superior martial art skill in the world. These two sets of martial art skill, even in all my life I won’t have enough time to learn it entirely.” He paused for a moment, then said, “Take a breath, put your hand on the left side of your lower abdomen, about three cun away from your belly button, and press hard, how do you feel?”

    Wei Xiaobao put his hand according to his instruction and pressed hard. Instantly a pain penetrated his heart and liver; “Ah!” he could not help but scream. In a flash his brow was beaded with sweat and he could not stop panting. For nearly more than half a month he had occasionally felt a dull ache on the left side of his lower abdomen, but he always thought it was because he ate something bad, moreover, the pain only appeared momentarily and immediately subsided, thus he had never given it any further thought. Who could have imagined that with a hard press like that the pain could be this severe?

    With a gloomy voice Hai Laogong said, “Isn’t it amusing?”

    Wei Xiaobao cursed fiercely in his belly, “Dead old turtle, stinky old turtle!” But what he said was, “Just a little pain, what’s so amusing about it?”

    Hai Laogong said, “Every morning when you go gambling and training martial art with His Majesty, the food is always delivered before you come back. I thought that the soup is not tasty enough, so every day I took a bottle of medicine from the medicine chest and added a little bit of stuff into your soup. Only a little tiny bit; if I added too much, the toxicity would be too heavy, it would not be appropriate for your body. You are a very careful person, but I have never taken the soup, don’t you have the least bit of suspicion?”

    Wei Xiaobao was absolutely terrified, he said, “I … I thought you didn’t like the soup. You … you said that when you drink the soup, you … you … will cou … cough …”

    “Actually, I really like to drink soup,” Hai Laogong said, “But if the soup is poisoned, although the dose is very light, and you take it daily, over a long period of time, it will be a little bit dangerous, won’t it?”

    Wei Xiaobao angrily said, “Absolutely, absolutely! Gong-gong, you are really formidable.”

    Hai Laogong sighed. “That’s not necessarily true,” he said, “Actually, I wanted you to take the poison for three more months before I’d let you out of the Palace, so that you will feel the stomach pain gradually worsen. At first you will feel about an hour of pain every day, and the pain won’t be so severe. Later, the pain will be more and more severe, the duration will also be longer and longer. Roughly in about a year, you will feel great pain all day long; a pain so terrible that you will want to dash your own head against the wall, a pain so severe that you will want to bite your own hands, your own legs, piece by piece.” Speaking to this point, he sighed before continuing, “It’s a pity than my body is deteriorating fast, I am afraid I cannot wait much longer. The poison in your body, nobody else has the antidote, I am the only one who has it. Little baby, who sent you? Who has thought about this plan to blind me? If you answer me truthfully, I’ll give you the antidote right away.”

    Wei Xiaobao might be young, but he knew that even if he mentioned the name of the person who sent him, in no way Hai Laogong would spare his life; much less there was indeed nobody sending him; thereupon he said, “Of course somebody has sent me, but I am afraid as soon as I say it, you would jump in fright. Turns out you knew it early on that I am not Xiao Guizi, and have thought this method to torture me. Ha ha, ha ha! You are the one who has fallen into my trick! Ha ha, ha ha!” While laughing heartily, his body made a random movement; bending his right leg, his right hand grabbed the hilt of the dagger. Very slowly he pulled the dagger from its scabbard, without making any noise at all. Even if there were some noise, he was confident his laughter would cover it.

    “What trick of yours did I fall into?” Hai Laogong asked.

    Wei Xiaobao was talking nonsense; he only wanted to distract him. So he simply continued talking nonsense, “From the first day I have already tasted the poison in the soup. I discussed it over with Xiao Xuanzi, and he said that you are poisoning me …”

    Hai Laogong was startled, “His Majesty knew about it?” he asked.

    “How could he not know?” Wei Xiaobao replied, “It’s just that at the time I did not know he was the Emperor. Xiao Xuanzi told me not to make a word or movement, just to be careful, so when I took the soup, I only put it in my mouth and spit it out again to the bowl; you could not see anyway.” While speaking, he raised the dagger half a cun by half a cun up, with the tip of the dagger aimed at the pit of Hai Laogong’s stomach. He thought that if he failed to kill him in one stab, even if the dagger stabbed Hai Laogong, with just a palm strike Wei Xiaobao’s own life would be gone.

    Hai Laogong was half believing half doubting; with a cold laugh he said, “If you did not drink the soup, how come with one press on your left abdomen, the pain was unbearable?”

    Wei Xiaobao sighed and said, “I supposed even though I spat the soup out, I did not rinse my mouth afterwards, the poison is still going down my stomach.” While saying that, the dagger was moved several cun closer.

    “That’s very good, then,” he heard Hai Laogong said, “In any case, the poison cannot be neutralized. Your poisoning is somewhat lighter, it will flare-up somewhat slower, your suffering can only be worse.”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed aloud; in the midst of the long laughter, he brought his entire strength into his right arm as he lunge the dagger violently toward the pit of Hai Laogong’s stomach. He had already planned that as soon as the dagger hit, he would promptly roll toward the corner of the bed, and then from the corner of the bed he would scuttle out.

    Hai Laogong felt a burst of cold air hitting his face; he was slightly surprised, but knew that the opponent had already made a move. He did not have time to think about the nature of the attack; his left hand swept forward to block the incoming blade, his right palm struck out, ‘Bang!’ it hit Wei Xiaobao, sending him flying out, crashing through the window frame, and falling straight onto the flower garden outside the window. Right away he felt severe pain on his left hand; four of his fingers were severed by the dagger.

    If not for Wei Xiaobao’s dagger emitted a strong cold air, while he did not have the slightest sign of the incoming attack beforehand, by this time the pit of his stomach would have been stabbed. However, if the dagger was an ordinary one, with the discrepancy between the two persons’ strength being too far, even if the dagger stabbed his chest, it would only be a superficial injury. His internal strength was everywhere; his palm was like iron, as it struck a saber or sword, or shook a flying dagger, he could not possibly injure his own palm. But in all honesty this dagger was simply too sharp. Hai Laogong’s painstaking dozen of year’s cultivation of internal strength unexpectedly could not shake this incoming dagger away, instead, it cut off his four fingers noiselessly. However, his right palm hit Wei Xiaobao squarely on the pit of his stomach; this palm strike was able to break an upright stone tablet and could split a rock, it was not a small matter at all. He guessed that Wei Xiaobao’s internal organs were completely smashed and that he had already died before even flying outside the window.


    [1] Old mother, old lady.

  2. #42
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 6 - Part 3

    Hai Laogong laughed coldly and muttered to himself, “He died too easily, this little demon had it too lightly.” After calming himself down, he took out some metal cut medicine from his medicine chest and applied it to his wound. Tearing off the bed sheet, he wrapped his left palm, while muttering, “What kind of weapon did that little demon use? How come it’s this fierce?” Suppressing the severe pain in his hand, he leaped out the window and groped the place where Wei Xiaobao was supposed to fall; he wanted to find the blade that he had never even heard about, the sharp blade that he had never seen before. To his surprise, however, after groping about for a long time, he did not find anything.

    Before he was blinded, he was very familiar with the garden outside his window; where the flowers were, where the rocks were, everything was etched in his heart. Obviously he heard Wei Xiaobao had fallen next to the cluster of Chinese peony; there was the possibility that the treasured blade was shaken out of his hand and flew far away, but his body could not possibly disappear, could it?

    When Wei Xiaobao was hit by the palm, his breathing was blocked instantly, there was an acute pain in the pit of his stomach, and he felt as if the hundreds of bones on his four limbs were disintegrated to a cun-size pieces. He was thrown onto the ground and nearly passed out. He knew he was at the verge of death; since he was unable to kill Hai Laogong with a single stab, the old turtle would definitely come out to pursue and attack; therefore, with the remaining strength in his body he crawled up. But after taking only two steps, his feet gave up; he slipped and fell again, and rolled down from a sloped ground all the way to the bottom.

    If Hai Laogong did not have his fingers cut, the noise of Wei Xiaobao rolling down the slope would naturally not escape his ears; however, he was severely wounded, he was distraught with anxiety, in addition, even in his dream he would not think that after being hit by his palm, this little demon did not die. Although he did hear some noise, he did not give it further thought as the cause of the noise.

    The sloping ground was quite long, Wei Xiaobao rolled for more than ten zhang before stopping. He struggled hard to stand up and slowly walked away; the muscle and bones in his entire body were unbearably painful, luckily the dagger was still tightly grasped in his hand. He rejoiced inwardly, “The old turtle hit me and sent me out the window just now, unexpectedly I did not stab myself with the dagger, I was extremely lucky.” Inserting the dagger into his boot, he thought, “My masquerade has been unmasked, the old turtle already know I am a fake goods, I cannot live in the Palace anymore. Too bad the four hundred fifty thousand tael of money has turned into an empty joy. His granny, where has there ever been one man who has this kind of stroke of luck? An ill-gotten gain worth four hundred fifty thousand taels. In other word, laozi has gained a four hundred fifty thousand tael wealth, but laozi is too extravagant, in just one night I spent it all until nothing’s left. Don’t you think it’s so awesome?” Bragging in his heart, he could not help but feeling very proud of himself.

    He also thought, “That little palace maid is still waiting for me; in any event, I cannot leave the Palace on the third watch in the middle of the night, I might as well go and see her. Aiyo …” He put his hand into his pocket to feel the small carton box, and found that the box had been squeezed flat; he thought, “I’ll still show it to her, so she won’t be too anxious waiting for me. I’ll tell her I fell down and squeeze the preserved fruits and candy mushy, turning it into a pile of cow dung. But this pile of cow dung is sweet and fragrant, and taste outstandingly good. Ha ha, hot piece mama, have you even eaten cow dung so sweet and fragrant? Laozi has.”

    The more he thought, the more he felt amused; he picked up his speed toward the Empress Dowager’s Palace of Compassion and Peace. But as he walked faster for only several steps, there was an acute pain on the pit of his stomach, forcing him to slow down. Arriving at the Palace of Compassion and Peace, he saw the palace gate was closed. “It’s bad,” he thought, “I did not think this gate would be closed; how am I going to get in?”

    While he was wondering what to do, suddenly the palace gate was pushed open noiselessly, followed by a little palace maid’s head appeared. Under the moonlight he was able to see clearly that it was indeed Rui Chu. He saw her smiling and beckoning to him. Wei Xiaobao was delighted; he slipped in quietly.

    Rui Chu closed the gate and then in a low voice whispered in his ear, “I was afraid you are not coming; I have been waiting here for a long time.”

    “I am late,” Wei Xiaobao said in a low voice, “On my way here I stumbled upon a stinky and hard-to-deal-with old turtle; I tripped and fell down.”

    “Is there any sea turtle in the garden?” Rui Chu said, “I have never seen one. You … are your hurt from the fall?”

    In his determination to come here, Wei Xiaobao was able to endure the pain, but as soon as Rui Chu asked, he felt in his entire body there was not a place where it did not hurt; he could not help but groaning. Rui Chu pulled his hand and asked in low voice, "Which part hurts?"

    Wei Xiaobao was just about to reply when suddenly he saw a shadow flitted across on the ground; when he raised his head, he saw an enormous eagle flying over the wall and gently landed on the ground. He was really shocked and nearly let out a shout. Under the moonlight he saw the giant eagle stood up like a human. Turned out it was not a giant eagle at all, but a human. This person had a slim built with a hunched back; who else but Hai Laogong himself?

    Originally, Rui Chu was facing Wei Xiaobao, so she did not see Hai Laogong had come, but seeing Wei Xiaobao turn his head and stare with terror-stricken expression on his face, she also turned her head around. Wei Xiaobao reached out with his left hand to cover her mouth and pressed rather hard to prevent her from making the least bit of noise. His right hand shook anxiously, signaling her not to make any noise. Rui Chu nodded. Wei Xiaobao slowly took his hand off her mouth while his gaze was fixed on Hai Laogong.

    He saw Hai Laogong was standing perfectly still, as if he was listening attentively to the sound of movement around him. It was a moment later that he finally walked forward slowly. Seeing Hai Laogong did not walk toward them, Wei Xiaobao let out a breath quietly. "The old turtle is really formidable," he said in his heart, "Although he is blind, unexpectedly he is able to pursue me to this place." He also thought, "As long as this little palace maid and I do not make any sound, the old turtle cannot possibly find me."

    Hai Laogong had walked several steps forward, but suddenly he jumped up and landed in front of Wei Xiaobao. Reaching out with his left hand, he grabbed Rui Chu's neck. "Ah!" Rui Chu cried, but her throat was quickly pinched that the cry was muffled.

    Something flashed in Wei Xiaobao's mind, "The old turtle is looking for me, he is not looking for this little palace maid, he could not possibly kill her." This moment he was only two chi away from Hai Laogong; he was so scared that he almost pee in his pants, but he did not move at all, because he knew that as soon as he move just one finger, Hai Laogong would hear him.

    In a low voice Hai Laogong said, "Don't make noise! You don't obey, I'll kill you. Answer my question softly. Who are you?"

    "I ... I ..." Rui Chu said in low voice.

    Hai Laogong stretched out his right hand and ran it over the top of her head, and ran it across her face. "You are a little palace maid, aren't you?" he asked.

    "Yes, yes!" Rui Chu replied.

    "It's the third watch in the middle of the night," Hai Laogong said, "What are you doing here?"

    Rui Chu said, "I ... I am here to have fun."

    Hai Laogong's face revealed a faint smile; under the dim moonlight, he looked even more gloomy and grim. "Who else is here with you?" he asked, while leaning his head slightly to listen attentively.

    Just now Rui Chu did not hold her breath nor did she know how to concentrate her breathing; in panic, she breathed loudly and thus Hai Laogong knew where she was standing. Although Wei Xiaobao was also standing close-by, he was breathing very lightly, so that for now his presence was not detected.

    Wei Xiaobao wanted to signal her not to say anything, but he did not dare to move his arm. Luckily Rui Chu was perceptive, realizing he was blind, she said, "No ... nobody."

    "Where does the Empress Dowager live?" Hai Laogong said, "Take me to see her."

    Rui Chu was frightened. "Gong-gong, please ... please don't tell Empress Dowager," she pleaded, "Next time ... next time I will not dare anymore." She only knew that this eunuch was arresting her to be reported to the Empress Dowager.

    "It's useless for you to plead with me," Hai Laogong said, "If you don't take me, I'll crush your neck immediately." His hand squeezed lightly, Rui Chu's breathing was immediately stopped, her small face bulged very red.

    Wei Xiaobao was so frightened that finally he peed in his pants, the urine was dripping from his crotch. Luckily Hai Laogong did not pay any attention; even if he heard it, he would think that it was Rui Chu who peed from the fright.

    Hai Laogong loosened his left hand slowly and said in a low voice, "Quickly take me there."

    Rui Chu did not have any choice but to say, "Alright!" She cast a glance toward Wei Xiaobao, signaling him with her eyes to quickly run away, telling him that she would not give him away. "The Empress Dowager's personal palace is on that side!" she said in a low voice, while slowly moving forward. With his hand still holding her throat, Hai Laogong walked beside her.

    Wei Xiaobao thought it over, "The old turtle must be going to the Empress Dowager to tell her that I am a fake little eunuch, that Xiao Guizi was murdered by me, that his eyes were blinded by me; he wants the Empress Dowager to issue an order to have me arrested immediately. Why didn't he report me to His Majesty? Ah right, he knew His majesty is good to me, most likely his complain will not be considered. Then ... then what should I do? I must escape from the Palace immediately. Aiyo, not good! By this time the Palace gate has been shut for a long time, how can I get out? Very soon the Empress Dowager will give her order, and then I won't be able to escape even if I grew wings."

    While he was still at a loss, he heard a woman's voice coming from the room ahead suddenly asked, "Who's that outside?" This gloomy and eerie voice, Wei Xiaobao recognized as the Empress Dowager's voice. He was frightened and wanted to lift his heels and run away, but he heard Hai Laogong say, "Your servant Hai Tianfu is paying his respect to you, Senior." This voice was also gloomy and eerie, without any sign of respect at all.

    Wei Xiaobao felt very strange, "Who does the old turtle think he is? He has the audacity to be this rude to the Empress Dowager." He had another thought, "The way the old turtle speak is so unpleasant, most likely the Empress Dowager has always loathed him, why don't I seize this opportunity to argue with him? I am not able to escape anyway." He knew it was risky, but he recalled that he had recently rendered a great merit, the Emperor and Empress Dowager were very happy, killing one or two Xiao Guizi and blinding the eyes of old turtle Hai certainly could not be considered a great crime. If he was in a serious trouble, he could still ask his sworn brother Songgotu to intercede for him. If he lifted his feet and left, the old turtle could say anything he liked, since Wei Xiaobao had already escaped, naturally he was having a guilty conscience; and thus from being innocent Wei Xiaobao had turned into the guilty party.

    He thought further, "If the Empress Dowager ask why did I kill Xiao Guizi? I'll say ... I'll say, um, I'll say I heard Xiao Guizi and the old turtle Hai saying malicious remarks against the Emperor and Empress Dowager, I'll say that they have many, many opinions, which are very unpleasant to hear; I was really angry and was at the end of my patience, hence I picked up a knife and killed Xiao Guizi. I also seized the chance to blind the old turtle's eyes. As for the malicious words, I can always make it up later. Competing with hands and feet, I cannot prevail against the old turtle. Competing in telling lies and bragging, how can the old turtle be laozi's match?" Thinking about it, he was very proud of himself, immediately his courage grew and he did not wish to escape anymore. What he was most afraid of was that if Hai Laogong could not win the argument, he would leap and strike him dead with a palm, and then Wei Xiaobao would die an unjust death. Consequently, when he plead innocence in front of the Empress Dowager, he must stand on a safe place, somewhere the old turtle was not able to reach, someplace he could not strike.

    He heard the Empress Dowager said, "If you want to pay your respect, why didn't you do it during day time? You came here in the middle of the night, what kind of propriety is that?"

    "Your servant has a secret important matter to report to the Empress Dowager," Hai Laogong said, "During the day time, there will be too many ears. If someone hears about it, it will be greatly inconvenient."

    "Hear, hear! The old turtle is about to lodge a complaint," Wei Xiaobao mused, "I'll listen to what he has to say first. When he has said most of it, it won't be too late for me to butt in. But where should I hide?" Looking at the surrounding terrain, he chose a good spot. Step by step he crept to the back of rock garden by the goldfish pond. He thought, "If the old turtle pounce on me, 'Splash!' he would've fallen into the goldfish pond first, then I would dash into the Empress Dowager's room. Even if the old turtle has an enormous guts, he wouldn't dare to barge into the Empress Dowager's room to beat people."

    He heard the Empress Dowager snorted and said, "What kind of secret important matter? You may say it right away."

    "Does the Empress Dowager have anybody else by her side?" Hai Laogong asked, "What the old servant is about to say is a top secret."

    "How about you come in here and do the search?" the Empress Dowager said, "Your martial art skill is superb; don't tell me that you cannot hear whether I have someone else by my side."

    "Your servant does not dare to enter the Empress Dowager's room," Hai Laogong said, "May I inconvenience the Empress Dowager's holy self to step out of the room? Your servant has something to report."

    "Humph," the Empress Dowager said, "You are getting more and more audacious. Whose authority do you rely on that you dare to be this unbridled?"

    Listening to this, Wei Xiaobao was greatly delighted, he cursed silently, "Old turtle, you are more and more brazen, now whose authority will you rely on? You really dare to be this unbridled!"

    "Your servant does not dare!" Hai Laogong said.

    The Empress Dowager snorted again and said, "You ... you already do not have any regards of me, tonight you suddenly appear here, what kind of trick are you playing?"

    Wei Xiaobao was even happier, he struggled hard to keep himself from shouting several curses to help the Empress Dowager scolding Hai Laogong. He said in his heart, "Old turtle, oh old turtle, you have not lodged any complaint, you have already bumped into a big nail, you are attracting trouble for yourself. Apparently laozi does not need to personally go into action, just the Empress Dowager alone is enough to lash her tongue on you and drive you away."

    He heard Hai Laogong said, "It's all right if the Empress Dowager does not wish to know any news about that person, your servant is leaving!"

    Wei Xiaobao was delighted, he said in his heart, "Go well, go delightfully, go with the blowing wind[1]. Quickly roll away, you, mother of a b@stard! Why would the Empress Dowager wants to know any news about me?"

    But he heard the Empress Dowager said, "What news do you have for me?"

    "The news from Mount Wutai[2]!" Hai Laogong said.

    "Mount Wutai? You ... what are you talking about?" the Empress Dowager said. Her voice trembled slightly.

    Under the moonlight Wei Xiaobao saw Hai Laogong stretch out a hand and poked, Rui Chu collapsed immediately. He was startled and was grieved in his heart; he thought, "The old turtle has killed this little miss. When I tell her later, the Empress Dowager will be angrier. It will be extremely difficult for the old turtle to bring up a charge against me."

    He heard the Empress Dowager asked, "You ... whom did you harm?"

    "It's a little palace maid serving the Empress Dowager," Hai Laogong replied, "Your servant does not dare to harm her, I only sealed her acupoint so that she won't hear our conversation."

    Wei Xiaobao was relieved, "Turns out the old turtle did not kill her!" Yet in the deepest part of his heart there was a faint feeling of disappointment; Hai Laogong did not kill the little palace maid, his own plight could not be considered favorable.

    "Mount Wutai?" the Empress Dowager asked again, "Why did you mention Mount Wutai?"


    [1] It's hard to capture the nuances of this: 去得好,去得妙,去得刮刮叫 'qu de hao, qu de miao, qu de gua gua jiao'.

    [2] Lit. 'five platforms', in Shanxi province, one of Buddhists' Four Sacred Mountains.

  3. #43
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    Default Chapter 6 - Part 4

    Hai Laogong said, "If Empress Dowager wants to know the details, I will have no choice but to ask your holy self to come out. It's the middle of the night, your servant cannot enter the Empress Dowager room; if I speak loudly here, this secret matter will be heard by the palace maids and the court eunuchs, then it won't be fun." The Empress Dowager hesitated for a moment and then said, "Fine!" The sound of door opening was heard, with a graceful steps she walked out of the room.

    Wei Xiaobao pulled back behind the rockery, he mused, "Old turtle Hai cannot see me, but the Empress Dowager is not blind." He did not dare to stick out his neck and look around. When the Empress Dowager came out, he caught of a glimpse of her and noticed that she was not tall and somewhat short and stout. He had seen the Empress Dowager twice, but both times she was sitting down.

    He heard the Empress Dowager said, "You said a moment ago that he went to Mount Wutai, is that ... is that true?"

    Hai Laogong said, "Your servant did not say anything about anybody going to Mount Wutai. Your servant only said 'Mount Wutai'. Perhaps there is someone whom the Empress Dowager cares very much?"

    The Empress Dowager paused for a moment and then said, "Very well, let's just say that you did say it that way. He ... he ... that person ... what is he doing on Mount Wutai? Is he in the temple?" Originally, her voice was very calm, but since Hai Laogong mentioned someone on Mount Wutai, she became flustered and exasperated, as if her mind was very troubled.

    Hai Laogong said, "That person is indeed in the Qing Liang[1] Temple on Mount Wutai."

    The Empress Dowager let out a deep breath and said, "Thank Heaven and thank the Earth, finally I ... I know his ... his whereabouts. He ... he ... he ..." She said the word 'he' three times, and could not continue, because her voice was trembling violently.

    Wei Xiaobao was greatly astonished, "Who are they talking about? Why does the Empress Dowager care about him so much?" He could not help but feeling anxious, "Could he be the Empress Dowager's father? Or her brother? Or perhaps her old lover? That's it, he must be her old lover. If it was her father or brother, it won't be a secret important matter, why should they worry others would hear it? The old turtle has had a hold on her anger, if he wanted her to kill me, the Empress Dowager is afraid of the old turtle, perhaps she would obey him. This is not too good. Luckily laozi is here and hear everything, if the old wh0re dares to kill me, laozi will spill out everything in full detail, I will tell His Majesty and their conspiracy will break apart. I am afraid you cannot be considered a hero or a warrior."

    Since Pan Gu[2] split the heaven and earth apart, just a very few people ever dared to call the Empress Dowager the 'old wh0re'. Even those who cursed her secretly in their belly, the number cannot be too many. Wei Xiaobao did not have such fear, even his own mother, whenever she beat him too hard, he would randomly curse her as 'rotten wh0re' or 'stinky wh0re'. Luckily his mother was indeed a prostitute, plus everybody in the brothel had always hurled obscenities to each other anyway, so nobody thought too much about it. When his mother heard the curse, she did not get angry, she only hit his little butts 30% harder, while also throwing curse back at him 'little b@stard' or 'little son of a b1tch'. Nothing more than that.

    He heard the Empress Dowager was panting anxiously; after half a day she asked, "He ... he ... he ... what is he doing in the Qing Liang Temple?"

    "Does Empress Dowager really want to know?" Hai Laogong asked.

    "Do you have to ask?" the Empress Dowager retorted, "Of course I want to know."

    Hai Laogong said, "My master has left home to become a Buddhist monk."

    "Ah!" the Empress Dowager gasped, her breathing became more rapid. "He ... he really has become a monk?" she asked, "You ... you are not deceiving me, are you?"

    "Your servant does not dare to deceive the Empress Dowager," Hai Laogong replied, "I don't need to deceive the Empress Dowager."

    "Humph," the Empress Dowager snorted, "He is so cruel, he wholeheartedly only ... only thinks about that ... that foxy charmer, so that our country, our empire, our ancestors' hundreds of battles, as well as the established foundation ... are all being thrown to the back of his head. We, mother and son, no ... no longer have any place in his heart."

    The more Wei Xiaobao listened, the more astonished he was; he thought, "What country, empire and ancestors' established foundation? The old turtle also calls that person 'my master', so this man ... this man is not the Empress Dowager's old lover?"

    Hai Laogong coldly said, "My master has seen through worldly affairs, he has attained great understanding. Ten thousand li of rivers and mountains, affection toward sons and daughters, my master said everything is like floating clouds, everything is no longer in his mind."

    The Empress Dowager angrily said, "Why didn't he leave home earlier? Why not leave home later? Why did he have to wait for that ... that foxy charmer's death before he left home? In his heart, country, dynasty, forefathers, wife and child, everything added together, still fall short of that foxy charmer; and that's the reason of his abrupt departure. Humph, since he has left, why did he send you to tell me?" The more she talked, the angrier she was; her voice was sharp and gradually growing louder.

    Wei Xiaobao was unspeakably terrified, he had a vague feeling that the person those two were talking about, as well as the circumstances surrounding it, were not a small matter.

    Hai Laogong said, "My master implored over and over again that whatever your servant say, I must not divulge anything, I must not let the Empress Dowager and His Majesty know about it. My master said: His Majesty has ascended the throne, there is peace throughout the world, there is not a problem on the four oceans, he feels relieved."

    In a harsh voice the Empress Dowager said, "Then why did you tell this to me? Originally I did not know, and I did not want to know. Since in his heart he is unable to stop thinking about that foxy charmer, whether his son ascended the throne or not, whether the world is at peace or not, what does it have to do with whether he feels relieved or not?"

    Listening to this point, Wei Xiaobao was greatly astonished, "Are they talking about the Emperor's Papa? The young emperor's Papa, Emperor Shunzhi, has given up his ghost long before the young emperor become the Emperor. Could it be that the Emperor has another Papa?" His knowledge on the imperial household and the Palace matter was very limited, other than knowing that the young emperor's father was Emperor Shunzhi, he was completely ignorant about other things. Even if the Empress Dowager and Hai Laogong spoke ten times clearer, he still could not guess the real situation correctly.

    Hai Laogong said, "Since my master has already left home, your servant ought to also become a monk in the Qing Liang Temple to attend to my master. However, my master told me that he still have something that is burdening him, and instructed your servant to return to the Capital and investigate something."

    "What matter is that?" the Empress Dowager asked.

    Hai Laogong said, "My master said, although Consort Donggo ..."

    The Empress Dowager angrily said, "In front of me, you must not mention that foxy charmer's name!"

    "Turns out that fox-spirit is called Consort Donggo," Wei Xiaobao mused, "She must be one of the Palace's Imperial Concubines. The Empress Dowager's old lover loved this flirty fox and did not love the Empress Dowager, as a result, the Empress Dowager drank a lot of vinegar [i.e. jealous[3]]."

    "Yes," Hai Laogong replied, "Empress Dowager forbids me from mentioning her name, your servant won't mention it."

    "What did he say about that foxy charmer?" the Empress Dowager asked.

    Hai Laogong said, "Your servant does not understand who the Empress Dowager was referring to. My master has never mentioned these words 'foxy charmer'."

    The Empress Dowager angrily said, "Naturally he has never mentioned these words, in his heart, it was always 'Empress Duan Jing’. After that foxy charmer died, he ... he conferred a posthumous title of 'Empress' to her. The flattering servants respectfully proposed to grant her a posthumous name, something like 'Empress Xiao Xian Zhuang He Zhi De Xuan Ren Wen Hui [4]’. But since this title did not contain the words 'heavenly sage', he threw a fit. Also, two servant scholars called Hu Guanglong and Wang Xi compiled the book 'Quotation from Empress Duan Jing' and spread it all over the world, aren't they afraid of disgrace?"

    Hai Laogong said, "Empress Dowager is right, after Consort Donggo returned to heaven, your servant should have called her Empress Donggo. About that book 'Quotation from Empress Duan Jing', your servant frequently has a copy by my side, would Empress Dowager like to take a look?"

    "You ... you ... you ..." the Empress Dowager shouted angrily; she took a step forward with labored breathing, but suddenly she seemed to be remembering something. "Hey hey," she laughed, "At that time everybody in the world wanted to curry the Emperor's favor, everybody read the 'Quotation from Empress Duan Jing', the nonsense which those two servants Hu and Wang fabricated. It was considered as 'the heaven's law and earth's principle', something even more important than 'Analects of Confucius' or 'Mencius'. But what about now? Other than a copy in your possession, and perhaps several copies by your master's side, where else can you find this 'Quotations' nonsense?"

    Hai Laogong said, "After the Empress Dowager's secret order to ban and destroy this 'Quotation from Empress Duan Jing', who would dare to have the book in his collection? As for my master, although he does not have a single copy by his side, but every single word or sentence that Empress Donggo had ever muttered in her life is firmly recorded in his heart; it definitely surpasses having a copy of 'Quotations' by his side!"

    The Empress Dowager said, "He ... he sent you to Beijing to investigate what?"

    Hai Laogong replied, "Originally my master instructed me to investigate two matters, but as your servant verified afterwards, those two matters are actually only one."

    "What two matters, one matter?" the Empress Dowager asked.

    Hai Laogong said, "The first matter was: how did Rong Wang [King Rong] die?"

    "You ... you mean that foxy charmer's son?" the Empress Dowager asked.

    Hai Laogong said, "Your servant was talking about the prince Empress Duan Jing gave birth to, Prince He Yanrong."

    "Humph," the Empress Dowager snorted, "That child only lived not even for four months, he could not be brought up; what's so strange about that?"

    Hai Laogong said, "But my master said that Prince Rong contracted acute disease so suddenly. When the summoned court physician examined him, he said that Prince Rong's Foot Yangming Channel of the Stomach, Foot Shaoyin Channel of the Kidney, Foot Taiyin Channel of the Spleen[5], had all been severed, his internal organs had been ruptured; his death was really strange.”

    "Humph," the Empress Dowager said, "Which court physician has this kind of ability? Most likely it was your fabrication."

    Hai Laogong did not deny, he simply continued, "When Empress Duan Jing passed away, everybody thought she was broken hearted over King Rong's death, but after careful investigation, it was not so. She died because someone had used 'cutting off technique' to sever her Yinwei and Yinjiao, two channels."

    The Empress Dowager coldly said, "I am surprised that he believed your fantasy."

    "At first, my master also did not believe it," Hai Laogong said, "Afterwards, your servant conducted an experiment and show it to him. It was not too long after Empress Duan Jing passed away. Within a month, your servant successively cut the Yinwei and Yinjiao, two main channels, of five palace maids. These five palace maids died with the same symptoms and appearance as when Empress Duan Jing was about to die. If it was only one palace maid, we can say it was a coincidence, but all five palace maids displayed the same condition, my master was convinced and did not have any doubt."

    "Hey, it's amazing!" the Empress Dowager said, "Unexpectedly in our Palace there is a great expert like you."

    "Many thanks for Empress Dowager's compliment," Hai Laogong said, "Your servant's technique is different from that of the assailant. However, the principle is the same."

    The two of them faced each other in silence, nobody said anything for long time. Hai Laogong coughed softly several times. After a while, he said, "My master sent your servant back to the Capital to investigate who murdered Prince Rong and Empress Duan Jing?"

    With a cold laugh the Empress Dowager said, "Do you still need to investigate? In our Palace, other than you, who else has the ability to do such thing?"

    "There is someone else," Hai Laogong said, "Empress Duan Jing had always treated your servant with kindness; your servant only wish for many good fortune and long life for her; if I had known beforehand that someone was plotting against her, your servant would risk my old life to thoroughly protect her."


    [1] Lit. 'cool/refreshing'.

    [2] Creator of the universe in Chinese mythology.

    [3] Story behind ‘drinking vinegar’: During the Zheng Period of the Tang Dynasty (627-649), Wei Zheng was conferred by Emperor Tai Zong the titles of the Left Grand Councilor and Duke of the State of Zheng for his dedication and valuable service in founding the Tang Dynasty. Indeed Wei Zheng was a man of great integrity and did not seek corrupt pleasure as many officials did. Wei refused to take any concubines or forsake his first wife. He also rejected the life of privilege, wealth and luxury, which many lesser men had greedily embraced after their rise in the social hierarchy.
    Emperor Tai Zong decided to test Wei Zheng’s fidelity. One day, after attending court, he invited Wei Zheng to stay behind and offered him some beautiful maidens to be his concubines. Wei immediately declined the offer. The emperor pressed his offer but Wei stuck to his position. During their conversation a third voice was heard, “Please Your Majesty, will you give me the concubines, since elder brother Wei does not want them?” pleaded Cheng Yao Jin, a boisterous general in the founding period. The Emperor was enraged by this insolence,and he curtly instructed Cheng to leave the court and to mind his own business.
    Cheng was infuriated and rushed to the mansion of the Duke of Zheng to tell Madam Wei put on her court dress and went to see the Emperor with Cheng Yao Jin. She asked the Emperor to give her a reason as to why he should want to break up her happy and loving marriage. Madam Wei declared that if the emperor forced Duke of Zheng to adopt concubines, she would die. The Emperor responded, “Very well then, you shall have your way.” He then asked his eunuch to bring in a bottle of poisonous wine which he had mixed himself for Madam Wei to drink. Cheng Yao Jin feared that the Emperor would really poison her. He tried to divert Madam Wei’s fate and purposefully bumped into the eunuch carrying the bottle of poisoned wine which broke into pieces. Chen then replaced the broken bottle with a bottle of vinegar. The eunuch handed it to Madam Wei and she drank it in one gulp. She then waited to die but nothing happened, except for the strong acidic taste in her mouth. Cheng Yao Jin then remarked that it was remarkable Madam Wei could drink so much vinegar. The Emperor was as confused as Madam Wei and asked the eunuch to explain what was going on. The Emperor smiled at the antics but remarked that it was a shame to have wasted the “poisonous’ hundred flower juice he had personally prepared. Actually the Emperor did not really intend to poison Madam Wei, he was merely amused to see how far her love would go.
    Cheng Yao Jin’s credulousness and replacement of the hundred flower juice with vinegar has become a story with meaning for many jealous lovers. Madam Wei’s faithful love was so strong that she would even drink poison to defend it. But over the generations it has become a vulgar adage which means being jealous of a rival in love. (Courtesy of Ace High)

    [4] Loose translation: 'Empress of solemn dedication of filial piety and majestic moral character, proclaimer of tender favor to the humankind'.

    [5] Reference: Mini Facts and Figures of HSDS Chapter 12, by Huang Yushi (wuxiapedia.com), also the 'Yinwei' and 'Yinjiao' channels on the next paragraph.
    Last edited by foxs; 04-14-13 at 04:45 PM.

  4. #44
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    Default Chapter 6 - Part 5

    "You are very loyal," the Empress Dowager said, "She was very lucky to retain the service of such a good servant."

    Hai Laogong sighed and said, "It's a pity your servant is so useless that I failed to protect Empress Duan Jing."

    The Empress Dowager icily said, "He worships Buddha in the morning, recites the scripture in the evening, your Empress Duan Jing will be blessed that she will reincarnate sooner from the eighteenth level of hell, and will rise to the Western Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss sooner too; and that's the end of the story." Her voice was full of 'taking joy in calamity and delight in disaster' tone.

    "Worshipping Buddha and reciting scripture are not necessarily useful," Hai Laogong said, "However, the saying 'virtue has its reward, evil has its retribution' is always true." After a short pause, he continued very slowly, "If the evil is not avenged yet, the time has yet to come." The Empress Dowager only snorted.

    Hai Laogong said, "Reporting to Empress Dowager: my master instructed your servant to investigate two matters, your servant found out that these two matters are actually one. Who would have imagined that inadvertently I found two more matters?"

    "The matters you are investigating are just too many," the Empress Dowager said, "What else did you find?"

    Hai Laogong said, "The first one is concerning Consort Zhen."

    The Empress Dowager laughed coldly and said, "The younger sister of foxy charmer is simply a little foxy charmer. Why do you mention her?"

    "When my master left the Palace, he left behind a letter saying that he would never return," Hai Laogong said, "Your Majesties, the Emperor's Grandmother and the Empress Dowager, were of the opinion that a country must not be without a ruler even for a day. Thereupon you proclaimed to the world that my master had died. In the present age, the number of persons who know this big secret is only six, namely Your Majesties, my master, Reverend Yulin, who followed my master shaving his head, and two servants who wait upon my masters. One of these two servants is the Imperial Bodyguard Chief Hebacha, who at this moment has also left home and became a monk on Mount Wutai, and the other one is your servant Hai Tianfu."

    Listening to this point, Wei Xiaobao had started to understand; turned out the one the Empress Dowager referred to as 'he' and the one Hai Laogong referred to as 'my master' was precisely Emperor Shunzhi. The world only knew that he had passed away, but actually because his beloved imperial concubine had died, in his extreme grief he had become a Buddhist monk at the Qing Liang Temple on Mount Wutai. As for the reason behind the imperial concubine's death, from what Hai Laogong has said, it seemed to be because of a martial art expert sent by the Empress Dowager to kill her. He could not help but feeling very proud of himself, thinking: "The old turtle says there are only six people in this world who are privy to this big secret, he would not know that there is another one, Wei Xiaobao. Now there are seven." But his self-satisfaction was short lived, soon afterwards it turned into dread. At first he was feeling somewhat secure in the knowledge that he had a backing; he thought that if he had to argue with Hai Laogong in the presence of the Empress Dowager, he would not necessarily lose to the old turtle. Yet this moment he knew that things had turned to the worst for him. If those two find out that he was eavesdropping, even if Hai Laogong did not kill him, the Empress Dowager definitely would not let him off. He heard two light 'clack, clack' noise; unexpectedly it was his own teeth chattering, hastily he bit hard to stop the chatter. Luckily right this moment Hai Laogong was coughing, only the sound of his labored breathing and occasional cough was heard in the quiet night.

    A moment later, Hai Laogong said, "At that time Consort Zhen committed suicide to follow her master, everybody in the imperial court commended her to no end. But there were many people who quietly said Consort Zhen was forced by the Empress Dowager to die the sacrificial death; suicide was not her original intention."

    The Empress Dowager said, "Sooner or later those leaderless, uncontrollable rebellious ministers will have to be dealt with."

    "But what they said is not entirely incorrect," Hai Laogong said, "Consort Zhen did not willingly and gladly committed suicide."

    "Are you saying that I forced Consort Zhen to die?" the Empress Dowager said.

    "This word 'force' can be omitted altogether," Hai Laogong said.

    "What are you talking about?" the Empress Dowager asked.

    Hai Laogong said, “Consort Zhen was murdered, not forced to commit suicide. Your servant had interrogated in details the undertaker, to find out about Consort Zhen’s condition when she was prepared for burial. The bones in her entire body were broken into one cun pieces, even her skull had become fragments. I seem to remember the type of skill to kill people this way is called ‘Transforming Bones Soft Palm’. Would Empress Dowager tell me if this is so?”

    “How do I know?” the Empress Dowager said.

    “Your servant heard that there is such skill ‘Transforming Bones Soft Palm’ in the world,” Hai Laogong said, “When someone is hit, there won’t be anything unusual on his entire body, but after a year or half a year, the bones in his body would slowly disintegrate. However, the assassin who killed Consort Zhen evidently has not mastered this skill to proficiency yet. At first, when the undertaker was tidying up Consort Zhen’s appearance, he did not see anything unusual, but when he put the body into the coffin that night, suddenly the body felt like it did not have any bones at all, the entire body turned soft. He was scared because he had never seen anything like it, he only knew that the corpse had undergone a change, but at that time he did not dare to say anything. Your servant threatened and bribed, I had used I don’t know how many types of tortures before he finally revealed the actual facts. After the practitioner of this skill ‘Transforming Bones Soft Palm’ hit people, two, three days later the victim’s bones disintegrate, I am afraid his proficiency cannot be considered completely profound. Empress Dowager, based on your sacred judgment, won’t you agree with me?”

    The Empress Dowager gloomily said, “Although it can’t be considered profound, somehow it accomplished its purpose.”

    “Naturally it is very useful, (cough … cough … ) very useful!” Hai Laogong said, “After killing Consort Zhen, he also killed Empress Xiao Kang.”

    “His granny,” Wei Xiaobao thought, “This old emperor’s empresses are so many; there is another Empress Xiao Kang. Perhaps the number of his empresses is more than our young misses at the Lovely Spring Courtyard.”

    The Empress Dowager’s voice trembled as she said, “You … why did you mention Empress Xiao Kang’s name?”

    Wei Xiaobao did not know that Empress Xiao Kang was Kangxi’s birth mother; hearing the huge change in the Empress Dowager’s voice, he only felt strange, but could not figure out the reason. He heard Hai Laogong said, “The undertaker who prepared Empress Xiao Kang for burial was the same one who also prepared Consorts Donggo and Zhen.”

    “That undertaker deserves to die,” the Empress Dowager said, “What other rubbish did he say? He falsely accused people in the Palace’s matters; for his crime he ought to be executed along with all his relatives.”

    Hai Laogong said, “If the Empress Dowager wanted to kill him, now it is too late.”

    “Have you killed him first?” the Empress Dowager asked.

    “It’s not that,” Hai Laogong said, “More than two years ago, your servant sent him to the Qing Liang Temple on Mount Wutai to report everything he knew to my master, and then I told him to go far away into the uncivilized territory and live incognito there, to avoid the disaster of him being murdered.”

    With a trembling voice the Empress Dowager said, “You … you … what a sinister scheme!”

    “The one with sinister scheme is someone else,” Hai Laogong said, “Your servant is ashamed of being inferior to that person.”

    The Empress Dowager was silent for half a day before asking, “You came to see me tonight, what is your intention?”

    “Your servant wanted to inquire of the Empress Dowager of one matter, so I can report it back to my master,” Hai Laogong said, "Empress Duan Jing, Empress Xiao Kang, Consort Zhen, Prince Rong, four people all died an unnatural death; consequently, my master also abandoned his position and left home to become a monk. The person responsible for this evil scheme is a martial art expert within the Palace. Braving death, your servant comes here to inquire of the Empress Dowager: who is this martial art expert? Your servant is getting old, my eyes are blind, plus I am suffering from an incurable disease; I am like a candle in the wind, yet if I cannot investigate and find out the truth, I will not die with eyes closed."

    The Empress Dowager coldly said, "Since you have been blind early on, it does not matter whether you die with eyes closed or not."

    Hai Laogong said, "Although your servant is blind, my heart is bright as snow."

    The Empress Dowager said, "If your heart is bright as snow, why do you need to come here and ask me?"

    "It's better if I can understand it clearly," Hai Laogong replied, "So that I won't mistreat the innocents. These past several months, your servant has diligently doing some investigation, I want to find out who is this martial art master who is hiding in the Palace? At first it was an extremely difficult investigation, but by lucky coincidence, I found out that His Majesty knows martial art."

    The Empress Dowager laughed coldly and said, "His Majesty knows martial art, so what? Are you saying that he killed his own mother?"

    "Sin, sin!" Hai Laogong said, "This kind of disobedience to parents must not be even mentioned. If your servant has ever said such thing, when I die I will enter the hell where my tongue will be pulled out; if I have ever had that thought, when I die I will not escape the suffering of my brain being scoured in the underworld." He coughed several times before continuing, "Your servant has a little eunuch by my side, his name is Xiao Guizi ..."

    Wei Xiaobao's heart turned cold, "The old turtle is starting to talk about me." He heard Hai Laogong continued, " ... he is about a year or two younger than His Majesty. His Majesty is very fond of him, every day they were having martial art and wrestling match, and practicing martial art together. Xiao Guizi learned martial art from your servant. Although it's not much, but for a child his age, it can be considered not easy." Hearing Hai Laogong complimenting him, Wei Xiaobao could not help by feeling very proud of himself.

    The Empress Dowager said, "A famous teacher trains a fine student, there are no poor soldiers under a good general."

    "Thank you very much for Empress Dowager's compliment [orig. 'golden mouth']," Hai Laogong said, "However, when this Xiao Guizi fought His Majesty, nine times out of ten he would lose. No matter what kind of martial art your servant taught him, His Majesty 's martial art skill was always a notch higher than his. It seems that the Shifu who taught His Majesty martial art is a lot better than your servant. Your servant had thought it over, the only martial art master in the Palace is this expert. As long as I can find this expert, then the assassin who killed two empresses, one imperial consort and one prince won't be difficult to trace."

    “I see," the Empress Dowager said, "You talk round and round in circle is just so that you can tell me this."

    Hai Laogong said, "The Empress Dowager said, 'A famous teacher trains a fine student'; the other side of the coin is also true, 'A fine student must come from a famous teacher'. His Majesty is able to use eight by eight, sixty-four styles 'Ba Gua Roaming Dragon Palm', the person who taught him this palm technique will most likely also know the ‘Transforming Bones Soft Palm’."

    "Have you found out the martial art master's identity?" the Empress Dowager asked.

    "I have," Hai Laogong replied.

    The Empress Dowager laughed coldly, "You are such a crafty schemer," she said, "You taught Xiao Guizi to practice martial art with His Majesty for the last half a year or so, is to find out His Majesty's Shifu."

    Hai Laogong sighed, "I don't have any choice," he said, "Xiao Guizi is a sinister and ruthless little scoundrel. It was he who used poison and blinded your servant's eyes. If I was not considering that I have to investigate this important matter to find the absolute truth, I would have not let this scoundrel to live until today."

    The Empress Dowager laughed aloud and said, "What a clever child that Xiao Guizi; he poisoned your eyes blind. Very good, just wonderful. Tomorrow I am going to reward him well."

    "Many thanks, Empress Dowager," Hai Laogong said, "If Empress Dowager would conduct an elaborate funeral for him, in the underworld Xiao Guizi will be very grateful for Empress Dowager's great kindness."

    "You have already killed him?" the Empress Dowager asked.

    Hai Laogong said, "Your servant has exercised patience toward him for a long, long time; after this, I won't have any other use for him."

    Wei Xiaobao was shocked and angered at the same time, he thought, "The old turtle has known all along that I am not Xiao Guizi, he also knew early on that I poisoned his eyes blind. Turns out he is only exploiting laozi; this is called striking vicious blow slowly. He taught me martial art was only so that he could see His Majesty's martial art. His granny, if I had known it, I should have not tell him His Majesty's martial art in detail. Your granny, the old turtle thinks I am dead, but laozi is clearly still alive. Later I am going to play ghost and scare you until you piss in your pants."

    Hai Laogong sighed and said, "My master has always been short-tempered, whatever he wants must be done. It's a pity that although he was the Son of Heaven, his beloved was murdered by others, and he was helpless to save her life. Even after becoming a monk, my master can never forget Consort Donggo. When your servant left the Qing Liang Temple to return to the Palace, my master has written with his own hand an imperial edict and handed it over to your servant. He wanted your servant to investigate and find out who murdered Consort Donggo, no, Empress Duan Jing. He ordered your servant to execute the assailant on the spot."

    "Humph," the Empress Dowager said, "He has become a monk, can he write any imperial edict? Those who have left home must not think about killing and harming people, don’t you think it’s not fit of his calling?”

    Hai Laogong said, “Buddhists also pay particular attention to karma and retribution. Those who harm others will not have a good end. However, your servant has damaged the passage through which my vital energy circulates when training martial art, resulting in incessant coughing and shortage of breath; my entire body is ill, and now I am blind, it’s even more hopeless for me.”

    “That’s right,” the Empress Dowager said, “You are sick and blind; even if you have this secret imperial edict, how are you going to execute it?”

    Hai Laogong sighed and said, “I can’t, I can’t! Your servant ask to be excused, I am leaving now.” Finished speaking, he turned around and slowly walked toward the exit.

    Wei Xiaobao felt as if a large stone was being lifted up of his heart; he mused, “When the old turtle has left, I will be alright. He only knows that I have died, he won’t come looking for me anymore. Laozi will slip out the Palace gate early tomorrow morning; in case the old turtle is looking for me, laozi will assume your identity, will take your surname, from now on I am Hai Xiaobao.”

    “Wait a moment!” the Empress Dowager said, “Hai Tianfu, where are you going?”

    “Your servant has reported everything clearly to the Empress Dowager,” Hai Laogong said, “I am going back to wait for death.”

    “The matter he entrusted to you,” the Empress Dowager said, “Aren’t you going to do it?”

    “Your servant has the desire yet lacking the strength to do so,” Hai Laogong said, “Moreover, I do not have the guts to start a rebellion today.”

    “Hey, hey,” the Empress Dowager laughed, “You are very understanding, your waiting upon us these many years is not in vain.”

    “Yes, yes!” Hai Laogong said, “Many thanks for Empress Dowager’s grace. This grievance is as deep as the ocean floor; it has to wait until His Majesty is older before it can be vindicated.” He coughed twice, and then said, “The way he dealt with the arrest of Oboi is very brilliant. His Majesty’s own mother was murdered, before too long, His Majesty will definitely deal with this matter. It’s a pity … it’s a pity your servant will not live until that time, I cannot wait that long.”

    The Empress Dowager took several steps forward and harsly said, “Hai Tianfu, come back here.”

    “Yes,” Hai Laogong said, “What instruction does the Empress Dowager have for me?”

  5. #45
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 6 - Part 6

    The Empress Dowager sternly said, “Just now you speak nonsense to me, this … this utterly absurd talk, have you … have you told His Majesty?” Her voice trembled, she seemed to be extremely agitated.

    Hai Laogong said, “Tomorrow early in the morning I am going to report to His Majesty; it’s just that … that I was itching to get on with it tonight that I came to report to the Empress Dowager first.”

    “Very good, very good,” the Empress Dowager said.

    Suddenly the sound of a strong gust of wind arose, followed by loud ‘Bang! Bang!’ noise. Wei Xiaobao was startled; he could not restrain himself from craning his neck to look. He saw the Empress Dowager was circling around Hai Laogong with amazingly swift footwork, palm strike by palm strike she attacked Hai Laogong. Surprisingly, Hai Laogong held his ground and counterattacked with his palms. Wei Xiaobao’s shock was not mild; “How can the Empress Dowager fight the old turtle? Turns out the Empress Dowager also know martial art.”

    Each one of the Empress Dowager’s palm strike generated a strong gust of wind, a sign that her palm carried an extremely violent power. Hai Laogong’s two feet were nailed on the ground, he met each palm strike with his own palm, but his palm did not generate any noise. Yet after fighting for a long time, Empress Dowager did not seem to gain any advantage over him. Suddenly she leaped up and delivered a downward strike with both palms from the air. Hai Laogong flipped his left palm over to meet the incoming attack, while delivering a blow with his right palm toward the Empress Dowager’s abdomen. ‘Clap!’ the palms collided with each other. The Empress Dowager flew backward. Hai Laogong staggered, his body swayed and he had to get hold of a stump to steady himself.

    In a stern voice the Empress Dowager shouted, “Good servant, you … you … deceived me; it was Shaolin … Shaolin martial art you taught Xiao Guizi, but you are from Kongtong Pai.”

    Gasping for breath, Hai Laogong replied, “I don’t dare, we are even! The Empress Dowager taught Wudang Pai’s martial art to His Majesty, with the purpose of fooling your servant. But … but that ‘Transforming Bones Soft Palm’ is Snake Island’s martial art; your servant has known about it for several years.”

    Wei Xiaobao had to think hard before he could understand. “His granny,” he mused, “The old turtle is very crafty, he taught me some ‘Big Grappling Technique’ and some 'Great Compassion Great Sorrow Thousand-Leaf Hand', which are Shaolin Pai’s martial art, so that the Empress Dowager would think that he is from Shaolin, but actually he is from that hot piece mama Kongtong Pai. Too bad Empress Dowager’s fake Wudang Pai’s ‘Ba Gua Roaming Dragon Palm’ could not deceive the old turtle.” He also thought, “Turns out His Majesty’s martial art was taught by the Empress Dowager.”

    Suddenly cold sweat appeared on his back, “Aiyo, not good!” he mused, “The Empress Dowager knows the ‘Transforming Bones Soft Palm’, could it be … could it be that those four people were killed by the Empress Dowager? Aiyo! It’s alright if it were someone else, but the Emperor’s own mother was killed by her. If Hai Laogong told the Emperor, won’t it be a terrible disaster? If His Majesty did not kill the Empress Dowager, the Empress Dowager will definitely kill His Majesty. What … what should I do?” His only thought was to break into a run immediately, to escape this battleground as soon as he can, and then notify the Emperor, telling him to be extremely careful. But he was so scared that his body felt limp and painful; he desperately wanted to run away, but his feet seemed to be nailed fast to the ground that he was unable to move even for half a fen.

    He heard the Empress Dowager said, “Since it has come to this, do you still think you can escape with your life tonight?”

    Hai Laogong replied, “Empress Dowager is free to summon the imperial bodyguards. The more people come the better, then your servant can speak all kinds of things in their ears; at least one of them can convey the truth to His Majesty’s ears.”

    “Humph,” the Empress Dowager coldly laughed, “You have calculated everything.” She spoke very slowly, while constantly regulating her breathing.

    “Empress Dowager must take care of your sacred body,” Hai Laogong said, “Do not damage your vital passages.”

    “You must take care yourself!” the Empress Dowager said.

    Originally, Hai Laogong’s martial art skill was higher than the Empress Dowager’s, but since he was blind, he was not her match. However, a few years previously he had ascertained from the undertaker that the killer of Consort Donggo and Consort Zhen had used the ‘Transforming Bones Soft Palm’, a sinister and ruthless technique, which was secretly taught only by the master of the Snake Island off the coast of Liaodong peninsula. It’s just that at that time he did not know who the killer was. Thereupon he took the dangerous risk of secretly learned a special technique to counter the ‘Transforming Bones Soft Palm’. Although his body suffered major injury, he had actually mastered the technique.

    Afterwards, Wei Xiaobao and Emperor Kangxi practiced martial art together. Hai Laogong speculated that the person teaching the Emperor martial art was the assailant who murdered Consort Donggo, Empress Xiao Kang, and the others; therefore, sooner or later he would have to face the great battle. He was fully aware that Wei Xiaobao killed Xiao Guizi and poisoned his eyes blind. Yet he let Wei Xiaobao to accompany him as Xiao Guizi, thinking that this child was very young, plus they were total strangers to each other, so there must be someone else behind him. He tried to lure Wei Xiaobao in every way to reveal who had sent him here, since he believed that that person most likely was the murderer. However, Wei Xiaobao was not sent by anybody to begin with, so he really did not have anything to reveal; otherwise, even if he was ten times smarter, he was indeed very young and his experience very shallow, how could he able to evade Hai Laogong’s tactful inquiries?

    Although Hai Laogong’s inquiry did not bear any fruit, he figured the two of them could play the game, thereupon he taught Wei Xiaobao martial art. But his teachings were ridden with errors and omissions, he deliberately let the opponent to think that he was from Shaolin Pai, and that his martial art skill was average. As he made his move this time, the Empress Dowager indeed had fallen into his scheme.

    About six months ago, the Empress Dowager had guessed that Hai Laogong was from Shaolin Pai, yet Hai Laogong already knew that her Wudang Pai martial art was fake. Two people, one had seeing eyes, the other blind, they came from opposite school of thought in term of martial art study. Hai Laogong knew his opponent’s situation very well, yet the Empress Dowager had an incorrect assessment of her opponent. It was not because the Empress Dowager had a poor knowledge and experience, it was simply because Hai Laogong had found the facts from the undertaker’s mouth, while all along the Empress Dowager was in the dark. Furthermore, in Hai Tianfu’s heart, he had already considered the person who taught the Emperor martial art as his mortal enemy, while it was only now that the Empress Dowager realized Hai Tianfu intended to bring her to her doom. Otherwise, she could have issued an imperial edict to the imperial bodyguards to put Hai Tianfu to death; she did not need to personally deal with him.

    Hai Laogong thought that since his eyes were blind, he must provoke the opponent to strike first and only then would he be able to wait leisurely for the enemy to exhaust herself, and thus with several moves he could seize the victory. It so happened that after talking for half a day, the Empress Dowager did not reveal anything; in the end, he was unable to ascertain who had killed Consort Donggo, Empress Xiao Kang and the others.

    The ‘Transforming Bones Soft Palm’ was a ruthless, heretical and vicious technique from an unorthodox martial art school; by conventional reasoning, it may be assumed that unless it is trained for approximately twenty years, the practitioner won’t reach the proficiency level. Empress Dowager was the daughter of Chief Horqin of Borjigit Clan, her parents were of a royal background, for several generations her family had held high-ranking office in royal court. When she was still a maiden, it was extremely difficult for her to step out of her mansion even for a single step. From her childhood, she was waited upon by countless wet nurses and maidservants; how could she ventured far away to the dangerous Snake Island and learn this kind of heretical martial art? Even if she wanted to learn martial art, she would have learned some ‘eight-section brocade’, or ‘five-animal exercise’ and the like, some superficial techniques to strengthen her body; it was inconceivable that she would learn the ‘Transforming Bones Soft Palm’. It was more likely that among her trusted aides, the court eunuchs and palace maids, there was a martial art master who received the Empress Dowager’s order to make the move on her behalf. Who would have thought that as soon as Hai Laogong mentioned that he was going to report to the Emperor, the Empress Dowager became anxious and without careful consideration she went into action by personally confronting the enemy? This way, not only the Empress Dowager admitted that she was the murderer of those four people, but as the three palms collided, she had received serious internal injury. Hai Laogong painstakingly planned and prepared this mission for several years, once he saw the mission accomplished, he could not help but feeling greatly relieved.

    The Empress Dowager’s injury was indeed not light; several times she tried to regulate her breathing, but always failed. She slowly said, “Hai Tianfu, you love to groundlessly fabricate rumors and talk nonsense. Although His Majesty is young, he is very clear-headed. Let’s see if he would believe you, or he would believe me.”

    “Naturally at first His Majesty will not believe your servant,” Hai Laogong replied, “Most likely he will issue an imperial edict to have your servant killed immediately. However, after a few years, he may think carefully, the more he thinks, the more likely that he gain a clearer understanding. Empress Dowager, your clan has always enjoy honor and glory for generations, the empresses of the Founding Emperor, as well as my master’s, all came from your mansion. It’s a pity that this glory, splendor, wealth and rank will be finished under Kangxi’s imperial court.”

    “Humph,” the Empress Dowager snorted; she coldly said, “Very good, very good!”

    Hai Laogong continued, “My master ordered your servant, as soon as the murderer is found, no matter who it was, I am to immediately execute him. It’s a pity your servant’s is lacking, I am not the Empress Dowager’s match, without any better option, I must leave this place and submit a report to His Majesty.” Finished speaking, he slowly walked toward the exit.

    The Empress Dowager secretly cursed her luck; just when she was about leap and attack, suddenly a gust of wind came by; Hai Laogong abruptly turned around and charged toward her with a fierce palm strike. Hai Laogong had received Emperor Shunzhi’s order to execute Consort Donggo’s murderer, and he was determined to accomplish this task. He was talking about submitting a report to the Emperor and other things, his main objective was to harass the Empress Dowager’s mind, to incite her anxiety and anger, so that she could not regulate her breathing, and thus he could launch the ‘ten thousand catties thunderbolt’ strike.

    Although this strike was noiseless, it carried the entire power he cultivated all his life. Just now, by listening attentively to the Empress Dowager’s voice, he was able to locate her position with accuracy within a few cun; once he launched a palm strike, it went straight toward the acupoint on the pit of her stomach. The Empress Dowager did not anticipate he was able to move this swiftly; she moved sideways wanting to evade, as long as she was able to move quickly several times, this wicked traitor was a blind man, he would not be able to pinpoint her exact location, and then the battle would be under her control, for other than parrying the attack with his palm, he would not have the capability to counterattack. Who would have thought that as soon as she moved, Hai Laogong’s palm had already arrived? The pressure was so strong that she could not even breathe, and had no choice but sending her strength to her right palm to meet the attack. She had planned to step back immediately after delivering the strike, but Hai Laogong’s palm carried an enormous sucking force, which rendered her helpless to pull back. She had no choice but transmitting all her strength to her right palm and thus engaging him in an internal energy battle.

    Feeling the opponent’s internal strength surging in a steady stream, Hai Laogong was rejoicing secretly; his eyes were blind, if he had to fight a moving battle, he would be in a very disadvantageous situation, however, in internal energy battle, it did not matter whether he could see or was blind. Since the Empress Dowager had been injured, her chi circulation was obstructed, she could not recover even in three quarters of an hour. In this kind of internal energy battle, he must try to drain her strength, so that she would be paralyzed and die. Therefore, he sent out Yin force with left palm and Yang force with his right. After battling for a while, Yin and Yang were gradually reversed; now the left palm was sending Yang force, while the right sending Yin.

    To Wei Xiaobao who was watching, it only looked like Empress Dowager 's one palm was balancing Hai Laogong's two palms, there was not the slightest bit of danger. He did not know that Hai Laogong's palm strength was like a stone mill; it slowly turned just like stone mill grinding grain into powder, grinding the Empress Dowager's internal energy bit by bit. Wei Xiaobao was hiding behind the fake rocks, he was afraid Empress Dowager might detect his presence. Occasionally he would stick out his head to see, and would immediately hide again, suddenly he saw a flashing white light, hastily he looked out and saw the three palms of the two people were still locked to each other, however, a short blade had appeared in the Empress Dowager's left hand, the dagger was moving slowly toward Hai Laogong's abdomen. He was ecstatic; "Wonderful, wonderful!" he cheered in his heart, "Very soon the old turtle will return to the damn heaven."

    What happened was: realizing the strangeness of the opponent's palm strength, the Empress Dowager's left hand quietly fished a white moth-antennae steel spike and slowly pulled it out, the spike's point gradually moved toward Hai Laogong's lower abdomen. However, when the spike was about a chi away from the opponent's lower abdomen, she was unable to push it farther. In the meantime, the 'Yin Yang Grindstone' force from Hai Laogong's palms was getting stronger and faster, the Empress Dowager's single palm had already unable to resist the enemy, she felt her right palm was gradually losing its strength and became limp and painful, so very soon she would have to use her left palm to help her right.

    Originally she wanted to thrust the moth-antennae spike slowly so that it would not generate any wind and thus the enemy would not be able to detect it; however, this moment her right palm was almost devoid of any strength. No longer caring whether Hai Laogong would hear it or not, she sent all her strength to her left hand and thrust hard, with the hope that the moth-antennae spike would pierce its target. Who would have thought that she was unable to move her left hand even for half a cun. In the quiet night, there was a soft 'drip, drip' noise; it was the blood from the severed four fingers on Hai Laogong's left hand, which flowed out continuously and dripped down to the ground. The more Hai Laogong sent the internal energy to his hand, the faster the blood gushed out from his wound.

    Under the moonlight, Wei Xiaobao saw the moth-antennae spike was flickering continually, sometimes it flashed on his face, an indication that the Empress Dowager's left hand was trembling incessantly. The white light flickered faster and faster, yet all along the moth-antennae spike was unable to reach Hai Laogong's lower abdomen.

    A moment later, Wei Xiaobao noticed that the moth-antennae spike was being slowly pulled back. Wei Xiaobao was shocked. "Aiyo, not good!" he mused, "The Empress Dowager is going to lose to the old turtle. If I don't leave now, what am I waiting for?" He slowly turned around and step by step walked toward the exit. With each step he took, he knew that he was one step farther from the danger, so he felt relieved, and thus his steps was getting faster. Finally he reached the gate and was about to reach out the door knocker when suddenly he heard 'Aah!' from behind him, the Empress Dowager let out a long scream. "It's bad!" Wei Xiaobao mused, "The Empress Dowager has been killed by the old turtle."

    "Empress Dowager," he heard Hai Laogong coldly say, "The oil of your lamp is about to dry out. In the time needed to burn an incense stick, your strength will be depleted and you are going to die. Unless right now someone suddenly appear and attack my back so that I cannot resist, only then would he be able to kill me."

    Wei Xiaobao was about to open the door and dash out, suddenly hearing Hai Laogong's voice, he thought, "Turns out the Empress Dowager is not dead yet! The old turtle is right, both of his hands are locked with the Empress Dowager's hand, if I stab his back, how can the old turtle take his hand and block? He was the one who said it, don't blame other people."

    Before his eyes was precisely a golden opportunity like beating a dog drowning in the water; if he did not seize this readily available convenience, he would become a human being in vain. Wei Xiaobao was very fond of gambling; even if the chance was fifty-fifty, he would still gamble. If a gambling opportunity arose, where he could cheat by playing tricks so that his chance of winning was 90% or a 100%, even if his life was at stake, definitely he would not let this opportunity pass. If someone wanted him to take chances to save the Empress Dowager, he would not dare to do that no matter what. But as he heard Hai Laogong announcing his own weak point, which was the same as holding out his own hands to be tied, or stretching his own neck to be chopped, it was as if a fat meat was placed in front of his mouth; how could he not swallow?

    He reached down and pulled the dagger from his boot; with quick steps he rushed toward Hai Laogong's back, while shouting, "Old Turtle, stop harming the Empress Dowager!" Raising his dagger, he fiercely stabbed it down on his back.

    Hai Laogong let out a long laugh and called out, "Little demon, you have fallen into my trick!" His left foot kicked backward, 'Bang!' The pit of Wei Xiaobao's stomach was hit and he was sent flying several zhang back.

    Turned out when he was having an internal energy battle with the Empress Dowager, Hai Laogong was confident that victory was at hand. Suddenly he heard someone was walking away from behind the rockery, the footsteps sounded very familiar; immediately he recognized it to be Wei Xiaobao. Unexpectedly this little demon did not die after being hit by his palm. Hai Laogong was rather astonished; he was afraid that if Wei Xiaobao summoned the imperial bodyguards to help the Empress Dowager, it would really 'spoil the ship for half a penny worth of tar'. Hit upon an inspiration, he cried out, luring Wei Xiaobao to come and attack his back.

    Wei Xiaobao's experience in facing the enemy and adapt himself to changes was really too little, as expected, he fell into his trick. Hai Laogong's kick had hit the pit of Wei Xiaobao's stomach. He flew through the air as if soaring through the clouds or mounting the fog, vomited a mouthful of blood.

    When Hai Laogong kicked with his left foot, he had already anticipated that as his strength was reduced, the Empress Dowager would exploit the instant the pressing force went void by sending her left palm to strike his lower abdomen. Therefore, after kicking Wei Xiaobao, without thinking he sent out his right palm forward to protect his lower abdomen. Suddenly there was a cold sensation on the center of his palm, followed by a burst of severe pain on his lower abdomen. The Empress Dowager's platinum-plated moth-antennae steel spike pierced through his palm and entered his lower abdomen. After all, he was greatly disadvantaged by not able to see anything; although he had foreseen that the Empress Dowager would exploit the loophole by launching a counterattack, he could not see that the attack came not in the form of palm strike, but an extremely sharp weapon instead. As his lower abdomen was punctured by the moth-antennae spike, he gathered his strength on his left palm and shook the Empress Dowager several steps back.

  6. #46
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 6 - Part 7

    The Empress Dowager landed on her left foot, but immediately leaped several more zhang backward. She felt her chi and blood were bubbling up inside her chest that she almost fainted. Afraid that Hai Laogong would seize this chance to attack, she slowly withdrew several more steps and stood against the wall.

    Hai Laogong roared in laughter and called out, "Your luck is good! Your luck is good!" 'Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh!' he sent three palm strikes while throwing himself forward at the same time. The Empress Dowager wanted to leap to the right to evade, but her legs were limp and painful, she tumbled down to the ground. She heard a 'splotch!', half of the row of flower rack were pushed down by Hai Laogong's palm strength. The Empress Dowager's muscles were weary and her strength depleted, she was unable to move a single step. In her fright, she saw Hai Laogong's body was sprawled face down on the flower rack, unmoving.

    Propping herself up, the Empress Dowager wanted to stand up, but her limbs felt like cotton, her entire body was weak. While she was thinking of calling one of the palace maids, she heard faint noise of people coming near. She thought, "My dialogue and fight with this wicked thief were not loud, but before his death he was shouting and yelling, and overthrowing the flower rack; it must have alerted the imperial bodyguards on duty. Those guards will be here in no time, seeing me lying in here with two dead eunuchs, one old and one young, what a scandal will it be?" Mustering all her strength, she wanted to circulate her chi thru her body, but all along she failed to do so.

    She heard the noise of the guards was getting near; while feeling very anxious, suddenly someone came over and said, "Empress Dowager, are you, Senior, well? Let me help you up." It was precisely that little eunuch Xiao Guizi.

    The Empress Dowager was pleasantly surprised, she said, "You ... you ... are not killed ... by that evil man's kick?"

    "His kick did not kill me," Wei Xiaobao replied. When he was kicked by Hai Laogong just now, he landed on a flowering shrub and spurted quite a bit of blood. After calming himself, he made an effort to stand up. Seeing Hai Laogong was lying face down motionless on the flower rack, he hastily hid himself behind a tree. He picked up a rock and threw it toward Hai Laogong, 'smack!' it hit the back of Hai Laogong's head, but Hai Laogong did not stir at all. Wei Xiaobao was ecstatic, "The old turtle is dead!" he thought. But he was still scared, and thus did not dare to come near. For a moment he was unsure of what to do: shall he run away and escape, or come back and help the Empress Dowager? Suddenly he heard the hubbub as a lot of people rushing near. If he ran out, he would definitely bump into them, therefore, he went toward the Empress Dowager and stretched out his hand to help her up.

    "Good child," the Empress Dowager happily said, "Quickly help me in to rest."

    "Yes," Wei Xiaobao replied. Half dragging and half carrying, he stumbled to help her enter her room and helped her laying on the bed. His own legs felt limp and painful, so he dropped himself on the thick carpet, while gasping for breath.

    “You may lie down here,” the Empress Dowager said, “When someone is coming, you must not make any sound.”

    “Yes!” Wei Xiaobao said.

    A moment later, he heard clatters of footsteps, a lot of people were rushing in from the outside. The flame from lanterns and torches illuminated the room from the window lattice. Someone said, “Aiyo, there is a dead eunuch in here!” Another man said, “It’s Hai Laogong from the Catering Department.” One of them raised his voice and said, “Reporting to the Empress Dowager: other than the situation in the garden, wishing the Empress Dowager ten thousand good fortune and peace like gold.” By saying that, he was actually inquiring the safety of the Empress Dowager.”

    “Other than what situation?” the Empress Dowager asked.

    As soon as she said that, the imperial bodyguards and court eunuchs outside let out a deep breath. As long as the Empress Dowager was safe, although the Palace of Compassion and Peace was in a mess, it would not be too great of an offense for them. The leader of the imperial bodyguards said, “It seems like there was a fight between the court eunuchs, not a big deal. Empress Dowager please retire for the night, tomorrow your servants will investigate and submit a detailed report.”

    “Very well,” the Empress Dowager replied.

    They heard the imperial bodyguard chief lowered his voice and quietly ordered his men to take Hai Laogong’s body out. Another man also said in a low voice, “There is a little palace maid’s body in here. Ah! This little palace maid is not dead, she is only fainted.”

    The imperial bodyguard chief said, “Take both of them away, we will question her when she regains her consciousness.”

    The Empress Dowager said, “Is there any little palace maid? Take her into my room.” She was afraid when she regained her consciousness, Rui Chu would reveal what had happened that night.

    Someone outside complied, a court eunuch carried the little palace maid Rui Chu into the room and gently lay her down on the floor. He kowtowed to the Empress Dowager and then withdrew.

    By this time, all palace maids serving the Empress Dowager were already awakened, they all stood waiting outside the room, without the Empress Dowager's summon, nobody dared to enter on their own initiative. The Empress Dowager heard the imperial bodyguards and the court eunuchs gradually left; she said, "You all may go back to sleep, I don't need your service tonight." The palace maids complied and immediately left.

    The fact that the Empress Dowager knew martial art was a secret, even the palace maid attending her personally did not know. When she trained every morning and evening, without her orders, no court eunuch or palace maid was allowed to enter her room even for one step. Even touching the door curtain was strictly prohibited.

    The Empress Dowager regulated her chi for a while. In the meantime, Wei Xiaobao's strength had gradually returned that he was able to sit up. A moment later, he was able to stand up. The Empress Dowager knew that Hai Laogong's kick on the pit of his stomach was very heavy, but this little eunuch unexpectedly was able to move freely, he was even able to help her back to her room. She wondered what kind of martial art he practiced? Thereupon she asked, "Other than with Hai Tianfu, who else did you learn martial art from?"

    Wei Xiaobao replied, "Your servant only learned martial art from that evil old man for several months. Most of the martial art he taught was probably bogus. This man was very wicked, he often bragged of killing me."

    "Hmm," the Empress Dowager said, "His eyes, did you poison him blind?"

    "That old fellow day in and day out always cursed the Empress Dowager behind your back," Wei Xiaobao said, "He also cursed His Majesty. Your servant was unbearably angry, but has no ability to kill him, so I had to ... I had to ..."

    "How did he curse me and His Majesty?" the Empress Dowager asked.

    "His words were very undisciplined and out of control," Wei Xiaobao replied, "Your servant did not dare to remember it in my heart, as soon as I hear it, I forget. I have already forgotten everything early on, and did not think about it anymore."

    The Empress Dowager nodded, "You are a very smart child," she said, "Tonight, what brought you here?"

    Wei Xiaobao said, “Your servant was sleeping on my bed, I heard the evil old fellow opened the door and went out. I was afraid he was going to do something to harm me, so I quietly followed behind him, all the way to this place.”

    The Empress Dowager slowly said, “All the nonsense he told me, you have heard everything.”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “Everything that the evil old fellow said, your servant always regard as a fart. Em … Empress Dowager, please don’t blame me, your servant was using a bad language, I hate him very much. Every day he cursed me ‘little turtle’, he cursed my ancestors; I know he had never said anything true.”

    The Empress Dowager coldly said, “I asked you: the things that Hai Tianfu said to me, did you hear it? Don’t babble, give me a straight answer.”

    “Your servant was hiding far away outside the gate,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “I did not dare to come near. That evil old fellow’s ears were often very acute, if I came too near, he would hear me. I only saw he talked to the Empress Dowager; I wanted to eavesdrop, but the distance was too far, I couldn’t hear anything. Later, I saw he dared to offend Empress Dowager, he dared to commit treason and heresy, so by risking my life your servant came to help. In the end, whatever he said to Empress Dowager, your servant did not know. He … he must be complaining about your servant, telling the Empress Dowager that I poisoned his eyes blind; although it was the truth, whatever else he said, the Empress Dowager must never believe. I suppose it was because the Empress Dowager did not believe him that that servant dared to offend the Empress Dowager.”

    “Humph!” the Empress Dowager said, “You are very smart, very perceptive. It’s good if you really did not hear whatever Hai Tianfu was saying. It’s also good if you pretend you did not hear it. If in the future even half a word of baseless rumor ever reaches my ear, you know what will happen to you.”

    “Empress Dowager’s kindness to your servant is as heavy as the mountain,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “If any brazen scoundrel ever dares to say any unpleasant talk behind the Empress Dowager and His Majesty’s back, your servant will stake my life to fight him.”

    “I like it if you can be like this,” the Empress Dowager said, “Previously I haven’t treated you that good.”

    “Previously His Majesty and your servant wrestled and practiced martial art together,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Your servant did not know it was the Lord of Ten Thousand Years, my talk and actions were random and wild, but Empress Dowager and His Majesty did not hold it against me the least bit, it was truly a kindness as heavy as the mountain. Otherwise, even if your servant had a hundred heads, all of them deserved to be chopped. Every day that evil old fellow wanted to kill your servant, fortunately Empress Dowager has saved my life. Your servant is truly extremely grateful.”

    The Empress Dowager slowly said, “You know gratitude, that’s very good. Light that candle on the table.”

    “Yes!” Wei Xiaobao replied. He struck the flint and lighted the candle. The candle in the Empress Dowager’s room was very thick and unusually bright.

    “Come here,” the Empress Dowager said, “Let me look at you.”

    “Yes!” Wei Xiaobao replied. Slowly he walked toward the Empress Dowager’s bed. He saw her countenance was snowy white, without the least bit trace of blood. Her eyebrows slightly slanted upward, her eyes were gleaming, Wei Xiaobao’s heartbeat quickened; he thought, “She … is she going to kill me to close my mouth? If I move my legs and dash out, I am sure she won’t be able to catch up, but if she managed to catch me, that would be the end of me!”

    His heart was telling him to immediately rush outside, but his mind was momentarily undecided. In this slight hesitation, the Empress Dowager had already stretched out her left had to grab Wei Xiaobao’s right hand. Wei Xiaobao was shocked, his body shook. “Ah!” he gasped.

    “What are you afraid of?” the Empress Dowager asked.

    “I … I am not afraid, it’s just that … it’s just that …” Wei Xiaobao stammered.

    “It’s just that what?” the Empress Dowager asked.

    Wei Xiaobao said, “Empress Dowager’s kindness to your servant is as heavy as the mountain, your servant have received something and afraid of something?” He had heard people mentioned the expression 'overwhelmed by favor (usually from superior)’, but somehow he could only remember two out of four characters[1].

    The Empress Dowager did not understand what he was saying, she asked, "Why are you trembling all over?"

    "I ... I am not ... am not ..." Wei Xiaobao replied.

    If the Empress Dowager strike him dead with her palm right now, she would not have to worry he would reveal her secret in the future, but however hard she tried, her chi simply refused to rise; in reality, her muscles were weary and her strength depleted, although she succeeded in grabbing Wei Xiaobao's hand, she did not have the least bit of strength in her fingers. If Wei Xiaobao were to struggle a little bit, he would have been able to free himself. Thereupon she smiled and said, "You have rendered a great service tonight, I will reward you handsomely."

    "It was that evil old fellow who wanted to kill your servant," Wei Xiaobao said, "Luckily Empress Dowager came to rescue me, your servant did not have the least bit of merit."

    "You know good from bad," the Empress Dowager said, "In the future I won't treat you unfairly. You may go!" She gently let his hand go.

    Wei Xiaobao was ecstatic; immediately he dropped on his knees and kowtowed several times before retreating. The Empress Dowager saw the front piece of his jacket was drenched with blood, obviously he had vomited a lot of blood, but when he kowtowed, his movement was still quite agile; she could not help but feeling bewildered.

    When he was leaving the room, Wei Xiaobao took a glance toward Rui Chu who was lying on the floor. He noticed that her chest was fluctuating slowly, her breathing was even, as if she was in a very deep sleep. Her countenance was rosy, it did not show anything unusual. He said in his heart, "In a few days I will bring some cake, pastry and fruit for you to eat."

    In quick steps he returned to his own room, bolted the door, and let out a long breath, as if a heavy load had just been released. Recently, staying with Hai Laogong in the same room, he had been very scared and was on the edge all the time. "Now the old turtle is dead," he thought, "I don't have to worry somebody would come to harm me." Suddenly he recalled the Empress Dowager's countenance under the candle light; his body shivered violently. "Living in this Imperial Palace, there is no peace and security, but laozi still ... still .. ha ha, still have to get that four hundred fifty thousand taels of silver and then return to Yangzhou to see Mama. It will be wonderful." Thinking that he was still alive and had four hundred fifty thousand taels of silver lost and won back, he could not help but dancing and gesticulating for joy.

    He was having a cheerful mood for a while, gradually he felt weary; he lay down on the bed and fell into a very deep slumber.


    [1]Orig. 受宠若惊 (shou chong ruo jing), literal translation: receiving favor as if frightened; he only remembered the words 'receive' and 'frightened'.

  7. #47
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    Default Chapter 7 - Part 1

    Chapter 7 - Since ancient times, success or failure always involves several cause, most of the heroes under the heavens know.
    (Translated by Foxs)


    LuDingJi-07.jpg

    After taking the medicine, Oboi's sanity failed, he did not know someone was attacking him from behind. As the dagger went deep into his back, Oboi howled wildly, while randomly waving the iron chain on his hands. Outside the window, the men in black were startled and staring blankly for a moment, as if they were witnessing the most bizarre thing on earth.

  8. #48
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    Default Chapter 7 - Part 2

    When Wei Xiaobao awoke the next day, he felt a dull ache on the pit of his stomach, he also felt his entire body was devoid of any strength. He knew it was because of Hai Laogong’s palm strike and kick the previous night. He struggled hard to stand up, and saw the widespread bloodstain on his chest. Thereupon he took off his long gown and soaked it in the water tub. When he rubbed the gown, suddenly he realized that the fabric of the gown was falling apart. Wei Xiaobao was startled. He lifted up the gown from the tub and saw two large holes on the chest of the gown, one was in the shape of a palm, the other was shaped like the sole of a foot. He was greatly amazed, “This … what ghost made these holes?”

    Thinking about ‘ghost’, instantly all the hair on his body stood up. His first thought was, “The old turtle’s ghost came back and made these two holes on my gown.” And then he thought, “I wonder if the old turtle’s ghost is blind, or he can see clearly?” When a blind person dies, will he turn into a blind ghost? This thought flashed through his mind several times, then he decided he did not want to think about it. Raising the gown in front of his face, he was staring blankly for a while before suddenly a realization hit: “It’s not a ghost! Last night the old turtle struck me with his palm and kick me with his foot. These two holes are from those strikes. Ha ha … laozi’s martial art ability is not bad, I only spit out a couple mouthfuls of blood, it’s nothing. Ay, I wonder if I suffer an internal injury? Perhaps there is an internal injury medicine in the old turtle’s medicine box, I’d better take some.”

    Since Hai Laogong had died, naturally Wei Xiaobao did not need to be polite to take over his possessions. Haughtily he imitated Hai Laogong’s coughing before opening the medicine chest. The medicine chest was full of bottles and pouches of all shapes and sizes. The bottles and pouches were labeled with many characters, but he did not recognize a single one; how could he tell which bottle contain poison and which bottle contain medicine? He found a bottle with yellow medicinal powder inside, and got quite a shock, recognizing it as the powder he used to dissolve Xiao Guizi’s body the other day, the 'Corpse Transforming Powder'. He only needed to flick a tiny amount of powder onto the wound, and soon afterwards, the body, as well as the clothes, shoes and socks, had turned into a puddle of yellow liquid. Naturally he did not dare to touch this bottle of medicinal powder.

    He also recalled how by adding a tiny bit of a medicinal powder he had blinded Hai Laogong’s eyes. So in any case he would not dare to take medicine casually. Luckily the pain on his chest was not too bad. He muttered to himself, “Damn it, laozi is proficient in martial art; won’t it be better if I don’t take any medicine?” Immediately he closed the medicine chest and went through the other objects inside the trunk. Most were old clothes, old-looking books and so on. He also found more than two hundred taels of silver, but he was not interested in that money at all, not only because Songgotu had already promised him four hundred fifty thousand taels, but also because by throwing the dice with Wen Youdao and the others, it would not be too difficult for him to win several hundred taels.

    He rummaged through Xiao Guizi’s trunk, took out a set of long gown and put it on. Seeing the light and soft black vest he was wearing, he was unconsciously startled. “The old turtle made two big holes on my gown, how come this piece of clothing did not show the least bit of damage? This is taken from Oboi’s treasure trove, if it were not a treasure, why did Oboi hide it inside the secret treasure trove?” And then he had a second thought, “The old turtle hit me and I am not dead, he kicked me and I did not turn mushy, perhaps it was not because of Wei Xiaobao’s proficiency in martial art, but because Oboi’s treasured clothes has saved my life. The other day Suo Dage urged me to wear it, he truly has a great foresight. But after putting it on, I never take it off again, my foresight is also not small.”

    While he was feeling very proud of himself, suddenly from outside came the voice of someone calling out, “Gui Gong-gong, congratulations, congratulations! Open the door, quick!”

    Wei Xiaobao opened the door while still buttoning his gown. “What’s the happy occasion?” he asked.

    There were four eunuchs standing outside the door, they all bowed and paid their respects to Wei Xiaobao. “Congratulations Gui Gong-gong,” they said together.

    Wei Xiaobao only said, “It’s too early in the morning, why are you so polite?”

    One of the eunuchs, around forty years old, laughed and said, “Just now the Empress Dowager issued an imperial decree to the Minister of Internal Affair, because Hai Tianfu, Hai Gong-gong died of his illness, Gui Gong-gong is promoted to be the Vice Manager in charge of the Catering Department.”

    Another eunuch laughed and said, “We did not wait for the Minister of Internal Affair to announce the gracious imperial decree; we rushed at once to come here and congratulate you. From now on Gui Gong-gong is in charge of the entire Catering Department. It’s indeed very good!”

    Being promoted to a eunuch position, Wei Xiaobao did not think it was anything terrific; he only thought, “The Empress Dowager promotes my rank so that I won’t reveal anything about last night’s matter. Actually, even though she did not promote me, laozi would not dare to speak too much. If my head is moving home, my mouth will follow, how can I talk too much then? But since the Empress Dowager is promoting me, it’s unlikely that she is going to kill me; that’s a great relief.” Thinking about this, he was beaming with joy. He took out some banknotes and gave each man fifty taels for their trouble in bringing the good news.

    One of the eunuchs said, “In our Palace, there has never been a Vice Manager as young as Gui Gong-gong. We have fourteen eunuch managers in our Palace, and eight eunuch Vice Managers, top people, smart people, twenty two in total. Originally, not one of those people was under thirty. Gui Gong-gong is promoted today, tomorrow you will sit as equal with Zhang Zongguan [lit. Chief Manager], Wang Zongguan and the others; it’s really terrific!”

    Another eunuch said, “Everybody only knows that Gui Gong-gong has won His Majesty’s favor, who could have thought that the Empress Dowager also regards you highly. I am afraid in less than half a year you will be promoted as a manager. And then you may help the brothers to be promoted to a higher job!”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed aloud and said, “We all are family, good brothers, why say anything about being promoted or not being promoted? It’s because of the Empress Dowager and His Majesty’s grace, what merit do lao lao … I, Gui Xiaobao, have?” He nearly blurted out the word laozi, but managed to swallow it back with difficulty. “Come, come, come,” he said, “Let’s sit inside and have some tea!”

    The middle-aged eunuch said, “Perhaps it will be later this afternoon that the Minister of Internal Affair will announce the Empress Dowager’s gracious decree. Everybody wants to invite Gui Gong-gong for a drink to congratulate Gong-gong’s meteoric rise, being promoted two grades in succession. Gui Gong-gong, now you are a fifth-grade officer; that is really not a small matter.” The other three eunuchs noisily cheering and applauding; they were adamant at pulling Wei Xiaobao along to drink wine. Although recently Wei Xiaobao had grown accustomed to people fawning on him, yet when the flattery came, he enjoyed listening to it after all. Immediately he locked the door and laughing happily he followed the four eunuchs to have a drink.

    Among the four eunuchs, two were the Empress Dowager’s personal attendants who had received the order from the Empress Dowager to convey the imperial decree to the Minister of Internal Affair, and thus they were the first to know. The other two were supervisors in the Catering Department; one was in charge of the purchasing of grains, the other was in charge of the purchasing vegetables and meat dishes, two most lucrative positions in the Palace. Very early that day both of them had heard about Hai Tianfu’s death; immediately they stood guard outside the Minister of Internal Affair’s gate, keeping their eyes and ears open, to find out who would fill Hai Tianfu’s vacant position, so that they could quickly make arrangement to preserve their own positions.

    The four eunuchs took Wei Xiaobao to a room in the imperial kitchen; they respectfully invited him to sit on the head of the table. The imperial kitchen knew that tomorrow this boy would be their immediate supervisor; therefore, with all their hearts and mind they prepared the best vegetable and meat dishes. Perhaps it was even better than the Empress Dowager and the Emperor’s daily meal.

    Wei Xiaobao was not used to drinking wine, and thus he talked rubbish freely with them. A court eunuch said with a sigh, “Hai Gong-gong was a good man, too bad his body was always not well, plus he was blind. Although he was in charge of the Catering Department for all these years, he was rarely in the imperial kitchen more than one or two days in a month.”

    Another eunuch said, “Luckily everybody handles everything with devotion, so that there has never been any significant set-back.”

    Yet another eunuch said, “Hai Laogong was an old minister favored by the late emperor. If it were not because of the old master’s grace, the Catering Department supervisor position would have been commissioned to someone else early on. Gui Gong-gong is a favorite of His Majesty and the Empress Dowager, so it is entirely a different matter. We may take shelter under the big tree’s shade, from now on the way we handle matters will be a lot more convenient.”

    The previous eunuch said, “I heard Hai Gong-gong died of his coughing yesterday.”

    “That’s right,” Wei Xiaobao piped in, “When Hai Gong-gong was coughing, often times he could not breathe easily.”

    The eunuch who waited on the Empress Dowager said, “At daybreak this morning, the imperial physician, Great Doctor Li, presented a report to the Empress Dowager, saying that the tuberculosis Hai Gong-gong suffered had entered his bones, that the rheumatism had entered his heart; the chronic illness for many years had finally break out, so that it was incurable. Afraid that his tuberculosis might spread out to other people, his body was cremated as soon as it was morning. The Empress Dowager sighed for quite some time; she said repeatedly, ‘It’s a pity, it’s a pity, this man Hai Tianfu was extraordinarily honest!’”

    Wei Xiaobao was pleasantly surprised; he knew that the imperial bodyguards, the imperial physician and the court eunuchs, were all afraid of taking responsibility, thereupon the fact that Hai Gong-gong being killed was concealed and was not reported publicly, which exactly suited the Empress Dowager’s wishes. Wei Xiaobao mused, “What tuberculosis entered his bones, rheumatism entered his heart? The old turtle had a dagger entered his belly and sharp sword entered his heart is more accurate.”

    After drinking for a while, the two eunuch supervisors of the Catering Department started to mention that life as court eunuchs was hard, that all they could rely on was to dredge up some fat or occasional income, that they wished Wei Xiaobao would not be as strict as Hai Laogong, in all matters he should be a little bit more accommodating. Wei Xiaobao understood some, but missed most of what they were saying; he simply said yes and no. After the meal, the two eunuchs stuffed a little envelope inside Wei Xiaobao’s pocket, which, upon returning to his room, he opened and looked. Turned out it was two banknotes, each one worth one thousand taels. These three characters ‘one thousand taels’ he was able to recognize. He thought, “I haven’t taken the office, and have received two thousand up front. The fat and additional income is really not bad!”

    By the ninth hour [3 – 5 pm], Kangxi sent someone to summon him to the Upper Study Room. Beaming with smile, Kangxi said, “Xiao Guizi, the Empress Dowager said that last night you rendered another great service, so she wanted me to promote you.”

    “I already know it!” Wei Xiaobao said in his heart. Immediately he feigned a surprised and delighted exclamation, before kneeling down and kowtowed, saying, “Your servant did not have any meritorious service, it’s all due to the Empress Dowager and Your Majesty’s graciousness.”

    Kangxi said, “The Empress Dowager said that last night there were several court eunuchs fighting in the garden, the disturbance startled the Empress Dowager. You happened to pass by and have handled this matter very appropriately. You may be young, but have a mature understanding.”

    Wei Xiaobao stood up and said, “Mature understanding is not necessarily true. I only know that some things should be remembered well, while other things should be entirely forgotten, and never to be mentioned forever. During the fight, the eunuchs uttered some really unpleasant words to hear, naturally anybody should not mention it too much.”

    Kangxi nodded; with a faint smile on his face he said, “Xiao Guizi, although you and I are not too old, we can achieve several great accomplishments, don’t let the ministers belittle us by saying we don’t understand anything.”

    “Absolutely,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “As long as Your Majesty has a plan in mind, you can leave the execution of it to your servant.”

    “Very good!” Kangxi said, “That servant Oboi has started a rebellion and defied his superior. Although I spare him from death, this man’s cronies are numerous; I am afraid that the ashes will burn once more, another rebellion will arise; that will be too far from good.”

    “Absolutely!” Wei Xiaobao said.

    “I knew it all along that Oboi is unyielding,” Kangxi said, “That’s why I did not send him to Punishment Ministry’s Heavenly Prison to avoid him babbling nonsense, but I have him imprisoned in Prince Kang’s mansion. Just now Prince Kang came and reported that day in day out that servant raises a clamor, shouting impertinent talks.” Speaking to this point, he lowered his voice and said, “That servant says that I used a small dagger and stabbed him on the back.”

    “Where did such thing come from?” Wei Xiaobao said, “To deal with this servant, why should Your Majesty personally make his move? It was your servant who stabbed him with a dagger. Let your servant go to Prince Kang to explain.”

    If the rumor that Kangxi personally plotting against Oboi had ever spread, Kangxi would lose his dignity as a ruler, which was the reason he was anxious. Hearing Wei Xiaobao’s recommendation, he was delighted. Nodding his head, he said, “You understand this matter very well.” After a slight hesitation he said, “Go to Prince Kang’s residence, see when that servant will die.”

    “Yes!” Wei Xiaobao said.

    Kangxi said, “I thought he would die as soon as the dagger stabbed him, that’s why I spared his life. I did not anticipate that this servant will be this robust, unexpectedly he is able to survive until now and make irresponsible remarks over there, misleading the minds of the people. If I have known it …” There was a hint of remorse in his voice.

    Wei Xiaobao grabbed Kangxi’s intention, he wanted to send him to kill Oboi quietly, thereupon he said, “I think most likely he won’t live pass today.”

    Kangxi summoned four imperial guards and ordered them to escort Wei Xiaobao to Prince Kang’s mansion on official business.

    Wei Xiaobao returned to his residence first to fetch things that he would need, and then riding a tall and big horse, under the protection of the four imperial bodyguards surrounding him all around, he went to Prince Kang’s mansion. He glanced to the left and right along the way, feeling immensely proud of himself. Suddenly he heard a man on the street said, “I heard that the one who captured that big treacherous minister Oboi was a teenage little gong-gong?”

    “That’s right,” another man replied, “His Majesty is a teenager, the gong-gong waiting on him whom he favors are all teenagers.”

    The first man said, “Could it be this little gong-gong is the one?”

    “I don’t know about that,” the other man replied.

    An imperial guard, wanted to curry Wei Xiaobao’s favor, loudly said, “Capturing that treacherous minister Oboi is this Gui Gong-gong’s great merit.”

    Oboi loved to kill Han people, he was brutal and greedy for bribery; all common people hated him to the bone. When he was arrested and his house searched, his possession confiscated, there was thunderous rejoicing inside and outside Beijing city wall. The young emperor issued an imperial decree on the capture of Oboi, and that he boldly resisted arrest, until a bunch of little eunuchs knocked him down. This matter had also spread out that everybody within the city knew about it. The common people added fuel and spices, drawing mental pictures and sounds; in the teahouses around town, the guests talked about it with splattered saliva, how Oboi attacked the Emperor with a flying kick, how each one of the little eunuchs was proficient in martial art, how using the style ‘Dry Vine Coiling the Root’ they threw down Oboi, how Oboi leaped back up using ‘Flipping Carp’ style, how the little eunuch used ‘Black Tiger Snatching the Heart’; each move and each style was described so vividly as if everybody had witnessed it with their own eyes.

    In the last few days, whenever a eunuch went to the market, instantly people would crowd around him, asking about the story of Oboi’s arrest. And now they heard the imperial guard announcing that this little eunuch was the minister who had given the outstanding service in Oboi’s capture, the market street was abuzz with sensation, countless common people applauded and cheered. In all his life Wei Xiaobao had never received such honor, he could not restrain his heart from blooming with pride, he really felt like a real hero. It was only the two imperial bodyguards wielding their sabers at the front to open the way, and thus creating fear to some extent, that stopped the crowd of curious onlookers from surrounding Wei Xiaobao to get a closer look and asked endless questions.

  9. #49
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    Default Chapter 7 - Part 3

    The five of them arrived at Prince Kang’s mansion. Hearing the Emperor sending a personal envoy, Prince Kang busily opened the center gate and went out to welcome them. He arranged a table with burning incense in preparation to receive the imperial edict.

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Wangye, His Majesty sends Xiaoren to check on Oboi, there is no other important matter.”

    “Yes, yes!” Prince Kang replied. He had seen Wei Xiaobao standing by Kangxi’s side in the Upper Study Room, he also knew that Wei Xiaobao had rendered a great service in the capture of Oboi. With a happy laugh he held Wei Xiaobao’s hand and said, “Gui Gong-gong, you seldom honor us with your presence, let us drink a couple up cups first before going to see that servant Oboi.” Immediately he ordered a banquet to be prepared. The four imperial bodyguards were to have another banquet, accompanied by the military officers of the Prince’s mansion. Prince Kang took Wei Xiaobao to the flower garden where they sat face to face and drank wine. He asked Wei Xiaobao what his indulgence was.

    Wei Xiaobao thought, “If I say I like gambling, the Prince might accompany me throwing the dice, and he would definitely lose to me on purpose. Winning his money is called victory without real skill.” Thereupon he said, “I don’t like anything in particular.”

    Prince Kang pondered, “Old people like money, middle-aged and young people like women, but it’s improbable that eunuchs will like women. I wonder what will this little eunuch like? It’s hard to guess. This child knows martial art, perhaps he would like a treasured saber or a treasured sword, but then he might stir up a disaster in the Palace, then I will have to take the responsibility. Ah, I know!” He laughed and said, “Gui Gong-gong, when I first met you, I feel like we are old friends. In my stable we raise several good horses. I am inviting you to select several horses. Just consider it as a little give from Xiao Wang[1], what do you think?”

    Wei Xiaobao was greatly delighted, he said, “How can I dare to accept Wangye’s gift?”

    Prince Kang said, “We are brothers, what do you mean by ‘gift'? Come, come, come, let us look at the horses first and then come back to drink wine.” Pulling Wei Xiaobao’s hand, he led him to the stable.

    Prince Kang ordered the groom to lead out several of his best ponies. Wei Xiaobao was disappointed inwardly, “Why ask me to choose a pony?” he thought, “Do you think I am a little child who only rides on a pony?” Seeing the groom had led five, six different ponies, he laughed and said, “Wangye, my stature is not tall, I'd love to ride a big horse, so I won't look too short and small."

    Prince Kang immediately understood; slapping his thigh he laughed and said, "I am muddle-headed, I am muddle-headed." He ordered the groom, "Take Jade Flower, my buckskin horse, out, let Gui Gong-gong take a look at it."

    The groom went into the stable, and returned with a tall and big horse, its entire body was white, dappled with red spots. It raised its head high and tossed its mane, it was truly an extraordinary divine steed. It has gold bridle and gold stirrup, the edge of the saddle was inlaid with silver and precious stones. Just the accessories on the horse alone worth nobody knows how much money; if not princes and dukes or royalty, or perhaps high-ranking official or rich merchant, nobody would dare to use this kind of luxurious saddle and accessories. Wei Xiaobao did not understand anything about quality of horses; seeing this horse's handsome appearance, he could not help but cheering, "What a beautiful horse!"

    Prince Kang laughed and said, "This horse was delivered from the Western Region, a famous Ferghana horse. Don't look at its big and tall body, this horse is still very young, only a few months over two years. A beautiful horse deserves to be ridden by beautiful rider. Gui Xiongdi, how about you pick this Jade Flower buckskin horse?"

    Wei Xiaobao said, "This ... this is the horse Wangye rides, how can Xiaoren dare to desire it? I will be happy to accept any other of Wangye's horse."

    "Gui Xiongdi," Prince Kang said, "You consider me as an outsider like this, aren't looking down too much on Xiongdi? Could it be that you are unwilling to have me as a friend?"

    Wei Xiaobao said, "Ay, in the Palace Xiaoren is only a ... a lowly person, how can I dare to make friends with Wangye?"

    Prince Kang said, "We, Manchu people, are frank and straightforward. If you consider me as your friend, then you'll take this horse; afterwards, there won't be any distinction between what's mine and what's yours. Otherwise, in my heart, Xiongdi will be greatly offended!" Saying that, his beard rose on its end, he put on an appearance as if he was panting with rage.

    Wei Xiaobao was ecstatic; he said, "Wangye, you ... you treat the lowly one so good, I really don't know how to repay?"

    "What are you talking about? Repay or not repay," Prince Kang said, "You are willing to take this horse, it can be considered you are giving me a face." Walking toward the horse's rear, he gently slapped the horse's butt several times and said, "Jade Flower, Jade Flower, from now on you'll follow this Gong-gong, be a good horse." Toward Wei Xiaobao he said, "Xiongdi, why don't you try?"

    Wei Xiaobao laughed, "Yes!" he replied. Slapping his hand on the saddle, he leaped up and sat on the horseback. For the last several months he had been practicing martial art, in term of punching and kicking he might not learn too much, but jumping and leaping, his movement was vigorous and nimble.

    "Good skill!" Prince Kang cheered.

    The groom let the reins go, the Jade Flower buckskin horse trotted around the sandy ground outside the stable. Riding on the horseback, Wei Xiaobao felt the speed, as well as the steadiness of the horse. He did not have the slightest knowledge of any technique to control the horse, afraid that he might make a fool of himself, after trotting several rounds he leaped down from the horseback. The horse stopped and stood still on its own accord.

    "Wangye," Wei Xiaobao said, "Thank you very much for your generous gift! Xiaoren is going to see Oboi now, I'll come back later to accompany you."

    "Certainly," Prince Kang replied, "This is the important mission on which you are being sent. Xiao Xiongdi, please report to His Majesty that we guard him very strictly, even if this servant grew wings, he would not be able to escape."

    "That's for sure," Wei Xiaobao said.

    "Do you want me to come with you?" Prince Kang asked.

    "I do not dare to brother Wangye's honorable self," Wei Xiaobao replied.

    Every time Prince Kang see Oboi, he was always shouted at, cursed and berated by Oboi, so he did not really want to see him. Thereupon he sent eight guards to escort Wei Xiaobao to inspect the offender.

    The eight guards led Wei Xiaobao toward the rear garden, to the front of an isolated stone building. Outside the building there were sixteen guards with steel sabers in their hands; on top of that, there were two chief guards continuously going on a patrol around the building. The guarding of the prisoner was indeed very strict. As soon as the chiefs found out that the Emperor had sent a personal envoy to inspect, they led the guards to bow and salute. They opened the big lock on the iron gate, pushed open the iron gate, and invited Wei Xiaobao to enter.

    The stone building was really dark inside, on the corridor there was a kitchen stove leaning against the wall, an old servant was cooking rice. The chief of the guards said, "Normally this iron door will not be opened easily, the prisoner's food and drink is prepared in here by this man, and then delivered into the prison cell."

    Wei Xiaobao nodded. "Very good!" he said, "Your Wangye had given it a thorough thought. The iron door is not opened, it will be very difficult for the prisoner to escape."

    The chief of the guards said, "Wangye's order: if the prisoner is trying to escape, he is to be killed without question." The chief of the guards led Wei Xiaobao to enter through a small hall, and immediately they could hear Oboi's voice coming from inside, cursing the Emperor: "Your granny, from the cradle to the grave laozi has established countless heroic contribution, so that your grandfather, your father can occupy this beautiful rivers and mountains. You, little demon with no prospect, are but a child, yet you don't know kindness when you see one, you stab me in the back with a dagger, you plotted against laozi. Even if laozi becomes a malicious spirit, I will not spare you."

    The chief of the guards frowned and said, "This servant's mouth is undisciplined and out of control, he really deserved to be beheaded."

    Following Oboi's voice, Wei Xiaobao came to an iron window of a small room. He craned his neck to look inside, and saw Oboi, with disheveled hair, with shackles and fetters on his hands and feet, was walking back and forth in the room. He dragged the shackles on the floor, creating a clanking noise. Oboi saw Wei Xiaobao and shouted, "You ... you ... you deserve to die ten thousand times, pen1sless[2] little demon, come in, come in, let laozi pinch your throat!" His eyes bulging, his gaze fiery, suddenly he ran toward Wei Xiaobao. 'Bang!' his body heavily struck the wall. Although he knew that the wall was very thick, still, Wei Xiaobao was shocked and withdrew two steps back. Seeing Oboi's mean and ferocious appearance he could not help but was extremely scared.

    "Gong-gong," the chief of the guards comforted him, "Don't be afraid, this servant won't come out."

    Wei Xiaobao calmed down. He saw that the iron bars on that iron window were very thick, the stone wall was also very thick, plus the shackles and fetters on Oboi's hands and feet were very heavy. His spirit involuntarily rose up. "Why should I fear of him?" he said, "All of you may wait for me outside. His Majesty ordered me to ask him several questions." The guards complied and withdrew. Oboi was still cursing angrily.

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, "Ao Shaobao, His Majesty sent me here to see if you, Senior, are well. You are cursing people, that means your spirit is 100% alive and well, your body is very healthy; when His Majesty learns about it, he will be very happy."

    Oboi raised his hands and struck his chains against the iron window, 'dang, dang!', while roaring angrily, "Your granny, you little b@stard raised by a b1tch. Tell your Emperor, I don't need his hypocrisy, if he wanted to kill me just kill, do you think Oboi will be scared?"

    The thick iron frame of the window was shaking from his strike, Wei Xiaobao was afraid Oboi might break the window and come out, he took another step back. He said with a laugh, "It won't be that easy for His Majesty to kill you. He wanted you to stay here peacefully for twenty, thirty years. When you feel real remorse in your heart, you may crawl out and kowtow several hundred times to His Majesty, remembering your past merit, His Majesty may forgive you and let you out. But you won't be back to your high-ranking post."

    Oboi roared, "Tell him not to have a big dream in a clear autumn day; if he wants to kill Oboi, that is very easy, but he wants Oboi to kowtow to him, that is a thousand times, ten thousand times more difficult."

    "We'll wait and see," Wei Xiaobao said with a laugh, "After three or five years, when His Majesty suddenly remembers you, he may send me back to see you. Ao Shaobao Daren, please take a good care of yourself, you must never catch cold or cough, headache or stomachache."

    Oboi cursed, "Ache your mother's b@stard lamb. The young emperor was fine, it was you, raised by b1tch Han people who taught him bad things. If the old Emperor would listen to me early on, not a single one of Han official would be needed in the imperial court, not a single one of Han dog would be allowed to enter the Palace, otherwise, do you think it will be a mess such as today?"

    Wei Xiaobao ignored him completely, he withdrew toward the servant who was cooking by the kitchen stove. Seeing steam was rising from the pot, he lifted the lid to look in, and saw it was a pork and white cabbage soup. "Smells good," he said.

    "It's for the prisoner," the old servant said, "Nothing good in it."

    Wei Xiaobao said, "His Majesty ordered me to personally inspect the prisoner's food and drink, we must not let him starve."

    The old servant said, "Gong-gong please don't worry, he won't starve. "Wangye has ordered that every day we must give him a catty of meat."

    "Scoop a bowl and let me have a taste," Wei Xiaobao said, "If you mistreat the prisoner, I will ask Wangye to beat you with a board."

    The old servant was terrified; "Yes, yes!" he said, "Xiaoren does not dare to mistreat the prisoner." Busily he fetch a bowl and scooped a ladleful or pork and cabbage, which he respectfully handed over to Wei Xiaobao with both hands; he also presented a pair of chopsticks.

    Wei Xiaobao received the bowl and drank a mouthful of soup; he showed neither approval nor disapproval. Looking at the chopsticks he said, "These chopsticks are too dirty, clean it well for me."

    "Yes, yes!" the old servant busily replied. Taking the chopsticks, he went out to the courtyard, where a water jar was standing, and wipe and wash the chopsticks well.

    Wei Xiaobao turned his body around and took a package of medicinal powder from his pocket, which he poured into that large bowl of pork and cabbage, and then he put the paper wrapper back into his pocket. He shook the bowl several times to dissolve the medicinal powder into the soup. He knew that Kangxi wanted to kill Oboi, but it must be done without leaving any trace. Walking out of the Upper Study Room, he got an idea, thereupon he returned to his residence and took out about a dozen kinds of medicinal powder from Hai Laogong's medicinal chest. Without any care whether it was poison or not, he mixed them all randomly, and then wrapped it all in a sheet of paper. His thought was that among those dozen different powders, there must be two or three poison, so if he let Oboi have it, his chance of survival would be very slim.

    Finished cleaning up the chopsticks, the old servant respectfully handed it over to Wei Xiaobao. Wei Xiaobao took the chopsticks and used it to stir Oboi's bowl of pork; he said, "Um, there are a lot of pork in here. Do you usually give him this much meat? I'll say most likely you steal some for yourself!"

    "Each meal has this much meat," the old servant said, "Xiaoren does not dare to steal food." While in his heart he was astonished, "How did this little Gong-gong know that I steal the prisoner's food? That's a bit strange!"

    "Alright," Wei Xiaobao said, "You may deliver the food to the prisoner."

    "Yes, yes!" the old servant replied. He fixed three large bowls of white rice, and then along with the large bowl of pork and cabbage, he placed the bowls on a tray and deliver it to Oboi.

    Wei Xiaobao lifted his chopsticks to gently tapping the edge of the pot; in his heart, he was very proud of himself, thinking, "If that servant Oboi eats the bowl of pork and cabbage that I fixed, if blood does not flow out of his seven orifices, then ... then blood will flow from his eight orifices and he'll die." He only knew there was a phrase 'blood flowing from seven orifices', but in all honesty his knowledge was very limited; not knowing any better, he added one more to the phrase 'seven orifices'.

    Putting down the bowl and the chopsticks, he strolled outside to chat with the guards on duty. After a while he thought that by this time Oboi most like would have had eaten the bowl of pork clean; thereupon he said to the chief of the guards, "Let's go back in to take a look!"

    "Yes!” the chief of the guards replied.

    The two of them had just entered the door when suddenly they heard two of the guards outside were shouting almost simultaneously, "Who's there? Stop!" Followed by 'swish, swish!' the sound of arrows being shot. The chief of the guards was startled and busily said, "Gong-gong, I am going out to look." And he ran outside.

    Wei Xiaobao followed behind him; he heard clashing noise as about a dozen men in black, with naked blades in their hands, were fighting with the guards. Wei Xiaobao was greatly shocked, "Aiyo!" he exclaimed, "Oboi's men are here to rescue him."

    The chief of the guards drew his sword and led the fight. He only shouted a few words when a man and a woman attacked him from left and right. The four imperial guards escorting Wei Xiaobao were not too far at the front of the building. Hearing the noise, they rushed in to join the fight.


    [1] Wangye – Master King, Xiao Ren – Little/lowly Person, Xiao Wang – little/lowly king.

    [2] Orig. 'luanzi', can be used for both male and female: 'testicles/penis' or 'ovum'.

  10. #50
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 7 - Part 4

    The man in black's martial art was quite strong, in an instant two mansion guards were already lying on the ground, dead. Wei Xiaobao withdrew back inside the stone building and hastily closed the door. He was about to bolt the door when a group of men dashed in, throwing him several zhang back. Four men in black had broken into the stone building. "Where is Oboi? Where is Oboi?" they shouted. An old man with long beard grabbed Wei Xiaobao and asked, "Where is Oboi?"

    Wei Xiaobao pointed outside and said, "He is imprisoned in the dungeon outside." Two of the men in black immediately rushed out. Another group of four men in black rushed in and swiftly ran toward the rear courtyard. Suddenly someone shouted, "In here!" The old man with long beard was angry; he raised his saber to chop Wei Xiaobao. Wei Xiaobao desperately trying to flee. Another man in black from the side kicked him on his butt, sending him flying several zhang away and he landed on the rear courtyard.

    Six men in black rammed the prison's iron door together, but the iron door was very sturdy, how could they strike it open in such a short period of time? They heard a rapid 'dong, dong, dong' sound of the gong outside, the Prince's mansion had raised the alarm. One of the man in black shouted, "We must hurry!" The long-bearded old man replied, "No kidding! Who does not know we must hurry?"

    Seeing their battering failed to open the iron door, a man in black raised the steel whip he had in his hand and used it as a pry bar. After several push, the two iron bars began to open. By now three more men in black rushed in. The hallway in front of the prison was narrow, nine people crowded together, they could not use their hands and feet freely.

    Wei Xiaobao quietly crawled out on the floor, but before he went too far, the men spotted him. Someone stabbed a sword to his back. Wei Xiaobao dodged to the left. The man swept his sword sideways. 'Swish!' it made a big rip on the back of his long gown. Luckily Wei Xiaobao was protected by his treasured vest so that the sword did not harm his skin and flesh. In his fright and panic he leaped up and rushed toward the crowd.

    Another man in black cursed, "Little demon!" He raised his saber and hacked it down. Wei Xiaobao jumped up suddenly and caught the iron bars on the prison's window, his body was hanging in the air. The man in black wielding the steel whip was in the process of prying the iron bars open, seeing Wei Xiaobao was obstructing him at the door, he struck his whip down. Wei Xiaobao was caught in a dead end, plus his legs were caught in between the two iron bars. The iron bars was already bent, his body was slim and small, unexpectedly he was able to slip through the gap. Releasing his grip, he fell down into the prison cell. 'Dang!' the steel whip struck the iron bars.

    The men in black outside shouted one after another, "I'm going in, I'm going in." The man with the steel whip probed his head into the opening trying to worm his way in. A thirteen, fourteen years old Wei Xiaobao could slip in, but this man's stature was stout and strong, how could he slip through?

    Wei Xiaobao drew the dagger from his boot while shouting inwardly, "I wish the help will come soon, I wish the help will come soon!" He heard the sound of copper gong outside, he heard the shouts and the clashing of weapons. Suddenly 'whoosh!' a gust of wind pressed down on his head. Wei Xiaobao rolled several chi away; he heard a loud clanking noise, followed by a searing pain on his face as some sand splashed onto him. Without looking back he hastily jumped away. He saw Oboi was waving his iron chain, "Heh, heh," he shouted, while jumping and leaping madly. At this moment, the man in black wielding the steel whip had just put his head through the window frame. Oboi ferociously swung his shackles onto his head. His brain dashed out, the man in black died instantly.

    Wei Xiaobao was surprised to no end, "Why did he kill the people who want to rescue him?" But then he realized immediately, "Aiyo! After eating the medicinal powder I fed him, although he is poisoned, he did not immediately go to see Emperor Yan Luo[1], but went mad instead!"

    Outside the door, the men were shouting and yelling. Oboi raised his shackled hands and fiercely attacked the prison door. Wei Xiaobao thought, "If he turns around and hit me, laozi will definitely return to heaven!" In this desperate situation, almost without thinking he pounced forward and with all his might he thrust his dagger into Oboi's back.

    After taking the medicine, Oboi's sanity failed; in his confused mind, he did not know someone was attacking him from behind. As Wei Xiaobao's dagger was coming at him, he did not even try to evade, 'stab!' it went deep into his back. Oboi howled wildly, while randomly waving the iron chain on his hands. Wei Xiaobao seized this opportunity to drag the dagger downward. The dagger could cut iron like mud, it sliced from top to bottom, Oboi's back was cut in two, and he fell down immediately.

    Outside the window, the men in black were startled and staring blankly for a moment, as if they were witnessing the most bizarre thing on earth. About three, four men cried out almost simultaneously, "This kid killed Oboi! This kid killed Oboi!"

    The long-bearded old man said, "Pry open the iron window, get in and make sure it is really Oboi!" Two men immediately picked the steel whip to forcefully pry the iron bars open. Two of the guards from the Prince’s mansion broke into the room, the long-bearded old man brandished his scimitar and chopped them dead one by one. A man in black used a short spear to poke repeatedly toward Wei Xiaobao across the window, to prevent him from coming near and injure somebody. Not too long afterwards, the gap between the iron bars had grown big enough; a thin man in black said, “Let me come in!” And he jumped into the prison cell trough the window.

    Wei Xiaobao raised his dagger and stabbed it to him. The thin man used his saber to block. ‘Tchak!’ the saber broke into two. The thin man was startled, he threw the broken saber in his hand toward Wei Xiaobao. Wei Xiaobao lower his head to dodge, but both of his hands were grabbed by that thin man, and were twisted behind his back. Another man in black placed a saber on his neck and shouted, “Don’t move!”

    Two more of the iron bars on the window were taken down, the long-bearded old man and a bald man in black entered the prison cell. They grabbed Oboi’s head by his pigtail and lifted it up to take a look. “It is Oboi!” they said together.

    The long-bearded old man wanted to shove Oboi’s body through the window, but the shackles and fetters were firmly fastened onto the stone walls, and he was unable to break the chain. The thin man picked up Wei Xiaobao’s dagger and ‘tchak, tchak’ four times, he cut the iron chain on Oboi’s body. “Good blade!” the long-bearded old man praised. He shoved Oboi’s body through the window, and the men in black outside pulled the body out. The thin man also shoved Wei Xiaobao outside the window, and then the three of them slipped out of the prison cell.

    The long-bearded old man gave his order, “Take this boy away! Everybody, let’s go!” They all shouted their response and rushed outside. A big man in black carried Wei Xiaobao under his arm as they rushed out of the stone building.

    Suddenly ‘swish, swish, swish!’ like flying locusts arrows were shot at them. Twenty-something guards from the Prince’s mansion continuously release the arrows. Wielding a saber, Prince Kang himself led the attack.

    Stopped by the arrows, the men in black were unable to dash out. The one carrying Oboi’s body was a Taoist priest. “Follow me!” he called out, as he lifted Oboi’s body as a shield in front of him.

    Prince Kang saw Oboi, but he did not know that Oboi had already died. He also saw Wei Xiaobao being carried by one of the assassins. “Stop the arrows!” he yelled, “Don’t harm Gui Gong-gong!” Wei Xiaobao mused, “Prince Kang has a good conscience, laozi will always remember your kindness!”

    The Prince’s mansion’s archers immediately halted their arrows. Those men in black cried out loudly and dashed out of the stone building. The long-bearded old man waved his hand, four men rushed toward Prince Kang. The guards were shocked; abandoning the enemy, they rushed to save their master. Who would have thought that it was actually that long-bearded old man’s ‘making sound in the east and striking to the west’ tactic? The remaining men in black seized this opportunity to jump over the surrounding wall to escape from the Prince’s mansion.

    The four men attacking Prince Kang possessed very good qinggong, avoiding contact with the guards, they flew to the east and leaped to the west, as if they were waiting for an opportunity to take Prince Kang’s life. However, as soon as their companions were out of the Prince’s mansion, the four of them let out several whistle and jumped over the wall, while repeatedly waved their hands. A dozen or so secret projectiles were shot toward Prince Kang. The guards repeatedly cried out in alarm as they waved their weapons to knock down the secret projectiles. Still, one steel dart hit Prince Kang’s left arm. Amidst the confusion, the four men in black disappeared from the Prince’s mansion.

    Wei Xiaobao was carried by a big man under his arm, as they were speeding down the street. He heard thunderous noise of hoof beats and somebody shouted, “Assassins in Prince Kang's mansion!" It was a large group of reinforcement troops.

    The men in black dashed into a commoner's house by the Prince's mansion. They bolted the door and dashed out via the back door. Evidently these people had already prepared their escape route well, they seemed to be familiar with the terrain of that place. Rushing through a small alley, they entered another house, and dashed out via the back door again. After several twist and turn, they entered a large house. All of them quickly shed their black attire and quickly wore other set of clothes. In an instant they all changed into peasants: one carried firewood on shoulder pole, another carried baskets of vegetables, et cetera. The man carrying Wei Xiaobao bound him firmly with hemp rope. Two men pushed a wooden cart, on which were two large wooden barrels. They shoved Oboi's body and Wei Xiaobao into those barrels.

    "Damn it!" Wei Xiaobao cursed in his heart. Countless jujubes were poured on top of his head, until he was completely covered with jujubes, then they put the lid down. If someone were to open the lid, all he could see would be jujubes. Then Wei Xiaobao felt his body was swaying, presumably the cart was being pushed out of the door. Although there were gaps in between the jujubes that he was not suffocated, yet he could not breathe freely. From a state of panic, Wei Xiaobao slowly calmed down; he thought, "These people are Oboi's subordinates, most probably they kidnapped laozi away because they want to dig out laozi's heart and liver to be sacrificed to Oboi. It would be best if along the way we came across a troop of soldiers, laozi will roll as hard as I can to overturn this wooden barrel, then their secret would be revealed." However, his hands and feet were tightly bound, he could not even move a single strand of his hair.

    He could hear the faint rattling of the wheel outside the wooden barrel, while his body was jolted continuously. After traveling for a long time, they did not come across any group of soldiers. Wei Xiaobao cursed for a while, then he was afraid for a while. All of a sudden he opened his mouth and bite a jujube, it was a plump and sweet jujube, so he ate several more. Scared and extremely tired, not too long afterward he unexpectedly fell into a deep sleep.

    When he awoke, the cart was still moving. He felt his entire body was sore, he wanted to turn around, but could not move even for half a fen. He thought, "This time laozi is not going to escape the disaster. As soon as I can, I am going to rain curses on them, to vent the resentment in my heart. In twenty years, I will be considered a hero." His mind went further, "Luckily I have killed Oboi, otherwise, if that servant was rescued by this bunch of dog thieves while laozi is in their hands, it would be difficult for me to stay alive, while I can't ask for death either. Oboi was a high-ranking official of the imperial court, Wei Xiaobao is only a little demon from the Lovely Spring Courtyard. A life for a life, Oboi's life is really cheap, ha ha ... really cheap!" Since he was unable to escape, he tried to amuse himself to relieve his anxiety, yet in spite of laughing inwardly, there was not the least bit of cheerful mood in his heart.

    A moment later, he fell asleep again. This time he was asleep for a long time. When he woke up, he felt that the cart was rolling smoothly on flat road. A little while later, the cart stopped, but nobody got him out, he was left alone inside the jujube barrel. After more than half a day, Wei Xiaobao felt very stuffy; he was about to fall asleep again when suddenly he heard creaking noise, the lid was opened, somebody was scooping the jujubes above his head. Wei Xiaobao took a deep breath and was feeling very relieved. Opening his eyes, all he could see was darkness, with a glimmer of light overhead. Someone scooped him out with both hands and carried him horizontally across his arms. Another man was standing by his side, holding a lantern. Turned out it was already night.

    The man carrying Wei Xiaobao was an old man with a serene expression. Wei Xiaobao noticed that they were in an enormous courtyard. The old man carried Wei Xiaobao to the rear hall, the man carrying the lantern pushed open a long shutter. Wei Xiaobao cried out inwardly, "I am doomed!" Not knowing which way was up and which way was down, all he could see was an enormous hall, with people standing wall to wall; by his estimation, there were at least two hundred of them. Those people wore black clothing with white bands around their heads and white cloth belt around their waists, all wore mourning attire while their faces showed grief and indignation.

    A mourning shrine was set up in the middle of the hall, on the table eight extremely thick blue candles were lighted. Next to the shrine hang several plain white cloths with lamentation couplets written on them, and a vertical 'beckoning the soul' banner. Back in Yangzhou, whenever there was a rich family having a funeral, Wei Xiaobao always joined the fun. He would ask for money, or when everybody was busy and nobody was watching, he would 'lead away a passing goat' by stealing some household item and hiding it in his bosom, he would then sell it in the market and use the money to gamble. Therefore, he was accustomed to see funeral hall arrangement; as soon as he saw it, he knew what it was.

    While he was still inside the jujube barrel, he had anticipated that they would cut open his heart and split his chest to be sacrificed to Oboi, but now that the time had already come, he was so scared that his entire body went limp and his teeth chattered, making a clacking noise. The old man set him down, with his left hand grabbing Wei Xiaobao’s shoulder, his right hand severing the hemp rope binding Wei Xiaobao’s hands and feet. Wei Xiaobao’s limbs were numb, he was unable to stand up. The old man put his hand underneath Wei Xiaobao’s right armpit to support him.

    It was obvious to Wei Xiaobao that everybody in that hall knew martial art, perhaps he was not a match for any of them, so escaping would be extremely difficult indeed. But if left and right was death, and luckily the rope binding him was severed, he might as well try. The worst that could happen to him was he failed, he got caught back, and they still would have cut open his heart and split his chest. Could they cut more than once, or split him again? The most important things: first, he needed to get the old man’s hand off his armpit, so that when he made his move he would not get grabbed, second, he had to try to extinguish the lantern; he would have had greater chance of success in the dark.

    Stealing a glance to the people in the hall, he saw there was either a saber hanging on their waist, or a sword sticking out on their back. A middle-aged man walked over to the spirit tablet and said, “Today the big enmity is avenged, Da … Dage may close your … your eyes.” Before even finished, he voice broke into silent sobs. He turned around and threw himself in front of the spirit tablet and cried loudly. Everybody in the hall followed by wailing loudly.

    “Hot piece mama,” Wei Xiaobao mused, “Laozi will curse now.” But immediately changed his mind, “As soon as I open my mouth to curse, these turtle bastards will start attacking laozi, then I won’t be able to escape.” Casting a sideways glance, he saw the old man holding him was using his sleeve to wipe his tears, so he was thinking of turning around and run right then, but the space behind them was full of people, as soon as he took a single step, they would immediately capture him. He thought that the timing had not come, he must not be reckless.

    From among the crowd an old sounding voice shouted, “Offer the sacrifice!” An imposing looking man, bare-chested, with a white cloth band around his head, walked to the front in big strides; he had a wooden tray in his hand, which he lifted high above his head. The tray was covered in thin cloth, on the cloth lay a badly mangled human head. Wei Xiaobao almost fainted; “Hot piece mama,” he thought, “These b@stards are going to cut laozi’s head.” He further thought, “Whose head is it? Is it Prince Kang? Or Songgotu? It couldn’t be the Young Emperor, could it?” The wooden tray was lifted very high that Wei Xiaobao was not able to see clearly the severed head’s appearance.

    The man set the wooden tray on the sacrifice table and then prostrated himself on the floor. The weeping sound rose again in the hall. “Damn it,” Wei Xiaobao thought, “If I don’t run now, what am I waiting for?” He turned around, wishing to run, but the old man pulled his sleeve, his legs gave up and he fell down, kneeling on the ground. Seeing everybody else was kowtowing, without any choice he also kowtowed, but in his heart he cursed, “Thief Oboi, Turtle Oboi. Laozi stabbed you dead with a knife, to the nether world, laozi will stab you several more times!”

    Finished kowtowing some people stood up, while others lay prostrate and cried loudly. Wei Xiaobao thought, “Real men crying like that, aren’t they ashamed? What good was that bastard Oboi anyway? What’s the regret in him being dead? Why do you shed so much horse urine like this?”

    After crying for a while, a tall and slim old man walked over to the spirit tablet, with a loud and clear voice he said, “Brothers, our Yin Xiangzhu’s[2] enmity has been avenged, that servant Oboi has finally be beheaded. It is truly our Tian Di Hui’s Green Wood Hall’s greatly happy occasion …”


    [1] Yama, King of the underworld.

    [2] Xiangzhu means ‘fragrant master’. I think this is a high-ranking position in an organization, similar to Tangzhu – ‘hall master’.

  11. #51
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 7 - Part 5

    Hearing the words ‘that servant Oboi has finally be beheaded’, Wei Xiaobao’s ears were buzzing; he was startled but happy, like a lightning a thought flashed in his mind, “They are not Oboi’s subordinates, but Oboi’s personal enemy?” The next several sentences that that tall and slim old man was saying went into Wei Xiaobao’s left ear and out of his right. After quite a while, he calmed down and was slowly able to listen; however, he missed a large chunk of the old man’s speech. He heard, “… today we created disturbance at Prince Kang’s mansion, killed Oboi, and managed to return safely. The Tatars will undoubtedly be panic-stricken; this is an enormous victory to our Society’s anti-Qing, restoring-Ming great undertaking. When the brethrens in the other Halls of our Society find out, they will definitely admire our Green Wood Hall’s wisdom, bravery, and resolution in doing this daring deed.”

    “Exactly, exactly,” one after another the men shouted their opinions, “This time our Green Wood Hall has gain a lot of face.” “Lotus Flower Hall, Scarlet Fire Hall, they all have always blown their own horns, but this time Green Wood Hall outraced them in accomplishing our leader’s order!” “When this matter is spread widely all over the world, perhaps in teahouses everywhere our deeds will be told and sung. When in the future the Tatars are driven back outside the Great Wall, the name Tian Di Hui’s Green Wood Hall will be engraved in immortality!” “What do you mean driving the Tatars back outside the Great Wall? We are going to chop all Tatars’ head and exterminate them completely; they all will die without any burial site.” Everybody had something to say, their spirit rose, the mournful air filling the hall just a moment ago was instantly swept away.

    Hearing this, Wei Xiaobao did not have the slightest doubt, he knew these people were the warriors who fought against the imperial court. Before he met Mao Shiba, in the Yangzhou’s neighborhood and marketplace, he often heard people mentioning all kinds of chivalrous deeds the Tian Di Hui was doing to fight the Qing. In those years, when the Qing troops entered Yangzhou, they massacred the people without restraint, raping and pillaging, committing any imaginable misdeed. The so-called ‘Ten days in Yangzhou, Three massacres in Jiading [district, northwest Shanghai]’ was really tragic beyond words.” In the city of Yangzhou, there was no family whose member did not run into misfortune during this holocaust. As a result, in regard to the sentiment of resisting the Qing, the admiration of people of Yangzhou was virtually several notches higher than that of people of different places.

    By this time, the ‘Ten days in Yangzhou’ disaster happened no more than twenty years ago; since his childhood, Wei Xiaobao had heard people unceasingly mentioned the evil deeds of the Qing army, he also heard about how Shi Gebu sacrificed himself in resisting the enemy, how certain people were able to take the enemy down with their deaths. When Mao Shiba was fighting the salt smugglers at the Lovely Spring Courtyard, it was exactly for the sake of a Tian Di Hui member. Along the way, he heard not a few of Mao Shiba’s story about Tian Di Hui’s heroic deeds, also about the saying ‘Whoever never knew Chen Jinnan, he calls himself a hero in vain’, and so on. In his heart, Wei Xiaobao had already admired and looked up to these people. At this moment, with his own eyes he had witnessed how this heroic group had killed the Tatars, he could not help but was very excited; in that instant he had forgotten his own status as ‘little eunuch’ of the Tatars’ imperial court.

    The tall and slim old man waited until the people were calming down before continuing, “In Green Wood Hall, for the last two years, we have always remembered Yin Xiangzhu, Yin Dage’s enmity. In front of the spirit tablet of Wan Yunlong Dage, everybody made a blood oath that we were going to kill Oboi to avenge Yin Dage. At that time Yin Xiangzhu has died as a martyr, everybody in Jianghu admires and respects him. When his soul in heaven sees Oboi, this dog’s head, he certainly will have a good laugh.”

    “Exactly, exactly,” the people responded.

    A majestic voice from the crowd said, “Two years ago, we all took an oath, if we fail to kill Oboi, then everybody in out Green Wood Hall is the distant grandson of a black bear [i.e. a coward], who won’t have any face to walk in the Jianghu. At long last today we wipe away this extraordinary shame and humiliation. For the last two years, I, the one surnamed Fan, cannot eat to the full, cannot have a good sleep; day and night I kept thinking of how can I avenge Yin Xiangzhu, how to expunge the disgrace of Green Wood Hall. Finally, everybody’s cherished desire is fulfilled. Ha ha, ha ha …!” Many people were laughing wildly with him.

    “Alright,” the tall and slim old man said, “Our Green Wood Hall has again roused our powerful wind, everybody feels proud and elated, once again we can raise our heads high and behave with integrity. These past two years, the brethrens of Green Wood Hall were like master-less lonely souls, in the Tian Di Hui’s meeting, the brethrens of the other halls only had to look at us once, and then they would laugh grimly. I was so ashamed that I was unable to show my face in public, did not dare to interrupt or speak a few words in any meeting discussing either important or trivial businesses. Although our Zongduozhu has several times conveyed messages to enlighten us, saying that the revenge for Yin Xiangzhu is the business of the entire Tian Di Hui, not the responsibility of one hall, the Green Wood Hall, only, the cold words and sarcastic comments of the brothers from other halls cannot be simply dismissed. From now on, it’s going to be substantially different.”

    “Right, right,” another man replied, “Li Dage is right, we must take this opportunity to take on the task and complete it with one sustained effort, do a large-scale effort to accomplish several more great undertaking. This evil thief Oboi had a reputation as the ‘number one warrior of Manchuria’; today he died under our hands, thus those number two warrior, number three warrior, number four warrior and so on will be scared to death!” As they heard this, the people roared in laughter again.

    Wei Xiaobao mused, “One minute you cried, the next minute you laughed, just like an upside-down child.”

    Suddenly there was a cold voice from among the crowd, “Was it us, the Green Wood Hall, who killed Oboi?”

    As soon as the people heard this, silence fell. More than two hundred people assembled in that hall, but in an instant ‘the crow and peacock made no sound’. After a long while, someone said, “Although the one who killed Oboi was someone else, it was because we, the Green Wood Hall who raided Prince Kang’s mansion. Only by taking advantage of the confusion was that person able to kill Oboi.”

    The person who previously spoke said again in cold voice, “So that’s how it is.”

    The man with the coarse and loud voice said, “Qi Laosan[1], what is the meaning of your words?”

    Still with a cold voice the one called Qi Laosan replied, “What meaning do I have? I don’t have any meaning, not the least bit! It’s just that when the brethrens from the other halls say: This achievement of Green Wood Hall is really impressive! But I wonder which brother of your precious hall actually killed Oboi?’ If this question is asked, I am afraid it will be somewhat difficult for us to answer. There is no harm in all of us thinking: is it possible that other people will ask this question? I am afraid in one thousand people, there will be nine-hundred and ninety nine people who will ask the question! Now we are blowing our own horns, pasting gold on our own faces, won’t it be rather … rather … hey, hey, we all understand it in our hearts!” The crowd fell silent completely. They all felt that his words were sharp and extremely not pleasant to hear, but it was the truth, and it was hard to refute.

    After a long while, the tall and slim old man said, "This is the little eunuch from the Qing Palace who killed Oboi; the result of an accident arising from many causes. It was Yin Xiangzhu's own spirit from heaven who gave his blessing secretly, using the hand of a child to get rid of this big traitor. All of us are upright and honest men, we won't tell any lie contrary to our conscience." The crowd looked at each other, some people could not help but shaking their heads; at first they were in high spirit, but thinking that the person killing Oboi was not a brother from the Green Wood Hall, immediately their spirit was dampened.

    The tall and slim old man said, "For the last two years, our Hall is without a leader. Everybody pushed Xiongdi to temporarily perform the duty of a Xiangzhu. Now that Yin Xiangzhu's enmity has been avenged, Xiongdi is laying down the authority tablet in front of Yin Xiangzhu's spirit. I am asking all the brothers to elect another capable man." Finished speaking, he kneeled down in front of the spirit tablet, while lifting high a wooden tablet with both hands. He kowtowed several times before standing up and put down the authority tablet in front of the spirit tablet.

    "Li Dage," a man said, "In the past two years, you have handled our Society's affairs clearly and orderly. In my opinion, other than you, who else fit to hold the Xiangzhu position? You don't have to be modest, just pick up the authority tablet again!" Everybody was silent for half a day.

    Another man said, "The Xiangzhu position is not for us to decide, we can't simply pick someone and appoint him to be the Xiangzhu. It is for the Zongduozhu to appoint somebody."

    The first man replied, "Although it is indeed the custom, the usual practice is that after each Hall reach a decision, we will report it to our leader. Our leader has never turned down anybody. The so-called 'appointment' is nothing more than a routine business."

    The other man replied, "As far as Xiongdi knows, the new Xiangzhu of each Hall has always been recommended by the former Xiangzhu. Either when the old Xiangzhu is old, or sick, or on his deathbed and is leaving his last wish. It has never been our customs for the brothers to elect the Xiangzhu replacement."

    The first man said, "Yin Xiangzhu was unfortunate to be harmed by Oboi, how could he leave his last words behind? Jia Laoliu [Ol' Jia the six (see also Chapter 2)], it is not that you did not know this matter, why are you bringing it up now? I understand your intention, you oppose Li Dage to be our Hall's Xiangzhu, you harbor an ill-will, it's a conspiracy."

    Hearing the name Jia Laoliu, Wei Xiaobao shivered involuntarily, he remembered the person the salt smugglers in Yangzhou was looking for was precisely this man. Turning his head to look at him, he saw that Jia Laoliu was a bald man, the little pigtail on his head barely had any hair left, there was a scar from a knife cut on his face.

    Jia Laoliu angrily said, "What ill-will? What conspiracy? Cui Xiazi [lit. 'Blind Cui'], speak more clearly, but don't make slanderous accusation against others."

    The man surnamed Cui had lost his left eye. "Humph!" he said loudly, "Open the skylight and speak frank and straightforward remarks. In the Green Wood Hall, who did not know that you want to support your Jiefu [husband of older sister, brother-in-law] Guan Fuzi [lit. 'Master' Guan, as in 'teacher' or 'scholar'] to be the Xiangzhu. If Guan Fuzi becomes the Xiangzhu, you will become the Lord State Uncle, won't that mean you hold the power in your hands? You want the wind you get the wind, you want the rain you get the rain."

    In loud voice Jia Laoliu said, "Whether Guan Fuzi is my brother-in-law or not, it is an entirely different matter. This time we are breaking into Prince Kang's mansion, it was under the leadership of Guan Fuzi, and it was a great success, as well as we returned home victorious. Based on my brother-in-law's talent, can't he be the Xiangzhu? Li Dage qualifies as a senior, his interpersonal relationship is good, I have nothing against him. However, in term of ability, Guan Fuzi is much better."

    Cui Xiazi suddenly roared in laughter; a laughter filled with contempt. Jia Laoliu angrily said, “What are you laughing at? Did I say something wrong?”

    “It’s not wrong,” Cui Xiazi said with a laugh, “How can our Jia Laoliu said anything wrong? I just feel that Guan Fuzi’s ability is a bit too formidable. He can go over five mountain passes[2], but he cannot behead six generals. At the last moment, he let an outsider, a child, killed our personal archenemy Oboi with a knife.”

    Suddenly a man walked out from among the crowd, with an angry expression he stood in front of the spirit tablet. Wei Xiaobao recognized this man as the long-bearded old man who led the attack to Prince Kang’s mansion. He saw his long beard was floating in front of his chest; he looked very imposing. Actually, this man’s surname was Guan, given name Anji. Because of his spirited-looking beard and his surname was Guan, everybody called him Guan Fuzi.

    Guan Fuzi’s eyes glowered at Cui Xiazi, with a gruff voice he said, “Cui Xiongdi, if you have a disagreement with Jia Laoliu, you may say anything you like; I, the one surnamed Guan, will not blame you. We are all good brothers, in front of Wan Yunlong Dage’s spirit tablet we have sworn made a pledge that whatever happens we are going to live and die together. You slandered me like that, what is your intention?”

    Cui Xiazi was somewhat afraid, he took a step back and said, "I ... I do not dare to slander you." He paused for a moment before continuing, "Guan Erge [second (older) brother], you ... if you endorse the election of Li Dage to be our Hall's Xiangzhu, then ... then Xiongdi is going to kowtow to you to apologize, just consider me saying wrong words."

    With an ashen face Guan Anji said, "Kowtow and apology, how can I dare to accept? Whoever will become our Hall's Xiangzhu, it's not for the one surnamed Guan to decide. Cui Xiongdi, you are not Tian Di Hui's Zongduozhu either; who will become the Green Wood Hall's Xiangzhu, it is not for you to say."

    Cui Xiazi took another step backward; in a loud voice he said, "Guan Erge, by what you said, isn't it obvious that you are slandering me? What kind of man am I, Cui Xiazi? Even in eighteen reincarnations I would still fall short to be Tian Di Hui's Zongduozhu. I was only saying that Li Lishi, Li Dage is a person of good moral standing and reputation; in our Hall, there is none like Li Dage, whom people admire from the bottom of their hearts. If we do not ask Li Dage to be our Hall's Xiangzhu, I am afraid eight or nine out of ten brothers may refuse to accept it."

    From the crowd someone said, "Cui Xiazi, you are not eight or nine out of ten brothers in our Hall, how do you know eight or nine out of ten brothers may not accept it? In my opinion, Li Dage is indeed a very good man, everybody enjoys having a drink with him, Senior, or having a chat with him under the warm sun; indeed nothing can't be better. However, speaking about being our Hall's Xiangzhu, I am afraid eight or nine out of ten brothers may think otherwise."

    Another man said, "Indeed, what Zhang Xiongdi said is very true. What if he is a person of good moral standing and reputation? Our Tian Di Hui objective is fighting the Qing and restoring the Ming, not studying Confucius or speaking about compassion, duty, propriety and integrity. Will a person of good moral standing and reputation scare the Tatars that they would run away? If you want to find a person of good moral standing and reputation, you will find a lot of old xiucai at schools, speaking about poetry and Confucius' sayings all day long." The crowd roared in laughter as they hear this.

    A Taoist priest said, "In your opinion, who should be our Hall's Xiangzhu?"

    The man replied, "First, he must work toward the goal of our Tian Di Hui: fighting the Qing and restoring the Ming. Second, he must strive for our Green Wood Hall so that it will stand out among Tian Di Hui's Halls, managing it 'with sound and color'. Whoever is most capable and most talented among our brethrens, will have our support to be the Xiangzhu."

    The Taoist priest said, "Most capable and most talented, in this poor Taoist opinion, Li Dage is still the best."

    From the crowd, dozens of people shouted, “We nominate Guan Fuzi! How can Li Dage’s skill be compared to Guan Fuzi?”

    The Taoist priest said, “Guan Fuzi can handle matters powerfully, everybody admires that quality …”

    “That’s right,” the crowd called out, “What else do you have to say?”

    “Wait a moment, wait a moment, let me finish!” the Taoist priest shook both of his hands, “Guan Fuzi is hot tempered, he often flares up and curses people in anger. Right now he is no more than an ordinary brother, yet when we look at him, we are 30% afraid of him. If he becomes the Xiangzhu, I am afraid we won’t have a day of peace and quite anymore.”

    A man said, “Recently Guan Fuzi’s temper has mellowed quite a bit. If he becomes the Xiangzhu, he will be even better.”

    The Taoist priest shook his head, “The rivers and mountains are easy to change, a man’s character is much harder to change. Guan Fuzi’s temperament is cultivated over several decades. Granted that he was able to repress it for a while, but can he repress it for a year or half a year? Being the Xiangzhu of Green Wood Hall is an important matter of a lifetime. We can’t allow just because a man’s temperament is not good, the brothers are thrown into disharmony; everybody’s heart will be discouraged, unavoidably the important matter will fail.”

    Jia Laoliu said, “Priest Xuanzhen, I think your own temper is not that great either.”

    Hearing his words, the Taoist priest, Hao Xuanzhen, laughed aloud and said, “It’s exactly because everybody knows himself best – the poor Taoist’s temper is not good, I have offended too many people – that as much as possible, I do not want to open my mouth. It’s just that electing our Hall’s Xiangzhu is an important matter, the poor Taoist cannot help but must say several sentences. The poor Taoist’s temper is not good, I do not have any problem of not becoming the Xiangzhu. I have no problem if there is any brother who thinks I am not pleasing to the eye, and does not want to talk to me. I am fine if any of you want to distance yourself from me. But if the poor Taoist became the Xiangzhu, how can I ignore you or distance myself from you?”


    [1] Ol’ Qi the third.

    [2] The name ‘Guan’ means ‘mountain pass’.

  12. #52
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 7 - Part 6

    “Nobody nominates you as the Xiangzhu,” Jia Laoliu said, “Why do you come out and ‘pull to the east and push to the west’ [i.e. ramble incoherently]?”

    Xuanzhen flew into rage. “Jia Laoliu,” he said in stern voice, “When friends in Jianghu see the poor Taoist, most of them would address me as Daozhang [Taoist Priest]. Even Zongdouzhu shows respect to me. It’s only you who dare to be this rude to me. You … you are a dog threatens relying on your master’s power. You want to bully me, Xuanzhen? It’s not that easy! Let me tell you clearly: if Guan Fuzi wants to be our Hall’s Xiangzhu, I, Xuanzhen, will be the first to disapprove! If he wants to be the Xiangzhu, he must accomplish something first. If this matter is accomplished, it’s possible that the poor Taoist will not oppose him!”

    At first, when Jia Laoliu heard him saying ‘a dog threatens relying on your master’s power’, he was very angry, but first: he realized that Priest Xuanzhen’s martial art skill was superior; even though he was really angry, he did not dare to contradict him openly. Second: this Taoist priest indeed had a resounding reputation in Jianghu; that their Zongdouzhu showed respect was not a false statement. He wanted to support his brother-in-law to become the Xiangzhu, but if this person strongly opposing the nomination, he would indeed be a major obstacle. Hearing that the Taoist priest was willing not to oppose providing his brother-in-law accomplish something, Jia Laoliu was delighted. He asked, "What matter is that? Let's hear it."

    Priest Xuanzhen said, "The first matter that Guan Fuzi has to accomplish is that he must divorce the '100% real gold', Golden Saber Jia!"

    As soon as these words were spoken, the people in the hall roared in laughter. The '100% real gold', Golden Saber Jia Priest Xuanzhen mentioned was Guan Fuzi's wife, Jia Laoliu's own older sister. Her weapon was a pair of golden sabers, so when people bantered with her, they often asked her, "Guan Saozi [older sister-in-law/older brother's wife], your two golden sabers, are they real gold or fake[1] gold?" And then with a straight face she would reply, "They are 100% gold, 100% gold! How can they be fake?" Thereupon she received the nickname '100% real gold'.

    By asking Guan Fuzi to divorce his wife, wouldn't that mean Priest Xuanzhen was clearly trying to make Jia Laoliu look bad? Actually, although the '100% real gold', Golden Saber Jia was a frank and outspoken, she was a good woman. Her brother, Jia Laoliu was not a bad man either, it was just that he was trying to raise his brother-in-law too high. Guan Fuzi was short-tempered, he had offended a lot of people; unavoidably, a lot of people were complaining behind his back.

    Guan Anji stretched out his hand and 'bang!' he heavily slap the table, while shouting angrily, "Priest Xuanzhen, what are you talking about? Whether I become the Xiangzhuor not, it doesn't have anything to do with my wife, why did you bring her into this?"

    Before Priest Xuanzhen replied, someone in the crowd coldly said, "Guan Fuzi, Yin Xiangzhu did not offend you, why did you hit his spirit table?"

    The table Guan Fuzi struck was indeed the table where the memorial tablet was placed. Guan Anji was startled. Although he was irritable, he was actually very quick-witted. In a loud voice he said, "Xiongdi has made a mistake!" He kneeled down in front of the memorial tablet and kowtowed several times, saying, "Yin Dage, in his anger, Xiongdi has slapped your memorial tablet. It is entirely my fault. I am asking your spirit, Senior, in heaven to forgive me." While saying that, 'bang, bang, bang!' he banged his head against the floor several times. Seeing him doing so, most of the people there no longer hold it against him.

    Cui Xiazi said, "Everybody, look! Guan Fuzi is straightforward and upright, he is a real man, but he is short-tempered and unable to remain calm. When he made a mistake, he would immediately admit it, which is certainly very good. However, if he were the Xiangzhu, making one mistake often carry an enormous responsibility. Even if he readily admit it, what good would it bring?"

    Initially, Guan Anji was enjoying a good momentum by asking Priest Xuanzhen why he mentioned his wife, the '100% real gold', Golden Saber Jia; but in his anger, he struck Yin Xiangzhu's memorial tablet, which was offensive to the people. Although he immediately kowtowed in front of Yin Xiangzhu's memorial tablet so that the brothers no longer blame him, his momentum was gone; he felt it was inconvenient to continue arguing with Priest Xuanzhen.

    Xuanzhen himself also seized the opportunity to retreat; he said with a laugh, "Guan Fuzi, you and I are brothers, from the cradle to the grave we go through countless fire and water together. It's not worthwhile that we lose this brotherhood over a battle of the tongues. Just now the poor Taoist was only joking, please forgive me. When you go home, don't tell Golden Saber Jia Saozi about this; otherwise, she would seize the poor Taoist's beard, that won't be fun!" The people broke into laughter again. Guan Anji was 30% afraid of this Taoist priest; without any choice he also laughed.

    Afterwards, you said one thing, I said another, some say Li Dage was good, others say Guan Fuzi was better, all along it was difficult to reach the final decision. Suddenly someone was wailing; crying and speaking at the same time, "Yin Xiangzhu, oh Yin Xiangzhu, when you were alive, our Green Wood Hall was in perfect harmony, the brothers are like true blood brothers, everybody worked together for a common purpose, the important matter of fighting the Qing and restoring the Ming. Unfortunately you were harmed by that traitor Oboi. In our Green Wood Hall, there is no one else with your kind of ability: having both good interpersonal relationship and talent. Yin Xiangzhu, unless you rise again from the dead, I am afraid our Green Wood Hall will have endless argument with each other, we will become like a sheet of loose sand, we won't be as prosperous as when you were still alive." Hearing this, many people were unable to refrain from shedding some tears.

    Someone said, "Li Dage has Li Dage's advantage, Guan Fuzi has Guan Fuzi's advantage, both are our own good brothers, we can't have all the brothers to be at odds with each other over this Xiangzhu election. In my opinion, it will be best if we ask Yin Xiangzhu's soul in heaven to help us decide. We will write both Li Dage and Guan Fuzi's name, everybody will kowtow in front of Yin Xiangzhu's memorial tablet and then draw the lot. It is the most fair method." Many people voiced their agreement.

    Jia Laoliu loudly said, "This method is not good."

    "Why is it not good?" someone asked.

    "Who will draw the lot?" Jia Laoliu asked.

    "We all can select one brother to do it," the man replied.

    Jia Laoliu said, "I am afraid that man will have selfish desire and may not play fair."

    Cui Xiazi angrily said, "In front of Yin Xiangzhu's memorial tablet, who has such nerve, dare to deceive Yin Xiangzhu's soul in heaven?"

    Jia Laoliu said, "It's hard to fathom a person's mind, we must guard against it."

    "F*ck your granny," Cui Xiazi cursed, "Most likely it's going to be you who cheat."

    Jia Laoliu angrily said, “Who are you cursing at, kid?”

    Cui Xiazi was also angry, “I am cursing you, kid! So what?”

    “I have shown restraint long enough," Jia Laoliu said, "You cursed my granny, I can't tolerate it no matter what." 'Shua!' he drew his steel saber; with his left hand pointed at Cui Xiazi he shouted, "Cui Xiazi, let us have a duel outside at the courtyard."

    Cui Xiazi slowly pulled his saber out and said, "You are the one who wanted a fight, I am forced to take up the challenge. Guan Fuzi, you heard it with your own ears."

    Guan Anji said, "We are all brothers, we must not fight just because of this matter. Cui Xiongdi, you cursed my brother-in-law; you are in the wrong here."

    Cui Xiazi said, "I knew you would place the blame on me. You have not become the Xiangzhu, you are already like this. If you were the Xiangzhu, what would happen then?"

    Guan Anji angrily said, "Are you saying that you can curse other people's ancestor at will? You f*ucked my wife's younger brother's granny, then what am I to you?" The crowd could not help but laughing heartily. For a moment the hall was in chaos.

    Seeing his brother-in-law was standing up for him, Jia Laoliu was even more angry. He was about to dash into the courtyard when someone reached out and blocked him, trying to persuade him, "Jia Laoliu, if you want your brother-in-law to become the Xiangzhu, you must not offend other people too much. If someone is offending you, you must yield one step to him."

    Cui Xiazi slowly put his saber back into its scabbard, he said, "I am not afraid of you, it's just that we all take yiqi very seriously. Brothers must not fight using blades, staking our lives. In short, Guan Fuzi wants to become the Xiangzhu, I, the one surnamed Cui, will not approve, no matter what. Guan Fuzi's temper I can tolerate, but Jia Laoliu's temper is unbearable. Yan Wang[2] is easy to see, little demon is difficult to bear."

    Wei Xiaobao was standing on the side. With the cool eye of a bystander, he found it rather amusing to hear and watch people arguing back and forth endlessly, some used obscenity to curse people, some wanted to fight with weapons. At first he thought these people were Oboi's subordinates who wanted to kill him as a sacrifice to Oboi, but now he knew that they hated Oboi to their bones, it was as if a huge rock had fallen from his heart. But after hearing these people keep saying something like 'fighting the Qing, restoring the Ming', he started to grow anxious. "They must be thinking that I am a little eunuch of the Qing Palace," he mused, "No matter how I plead innocence, they won't believe me. As soon as the Xiangzhu position is decided, their first order of business must be to have me killed. I wonder if they would consider it 'fighting the Qing, restoring the Ming'? In front of them right now, other than laozi, who else is a Qing man? Besides, with me in here, I have heard their secrets; even if they would not kill me to close my mouth, they would definitely lock me up and I won't reincarnate forever. It would be better for laozi to slip away now." Slowly, step by step, he retreated toward the door. He was hoping the hall would become chaotic again so that he could run away.

    He heard someone was saying, "Drawing a lot is too unreliable, it's a little too much like a child's play. I'll say, let Li Dage and Guan Fuzi have a martial art contest to determine victory or defeat, with fists and kicks is alright, using weapons is also alright, as long as they do not injure each other. Everybody else will stand on the side with eyes open wide, who wins and who loses will be seen clearly, nobody will have dissenting words."

    Jia Laoliu was the first to approve, with a loud voice he said, “Good! Martial art contest to decide victory or defeat it is. If Li Dage wins, I, Jia Laoliu will support Li Dage as the Xiangzhu.”

    As soon as he said that, Wei Xiaobao thought, “You approve the martial art contest because your brother-in-law’s martial art is superior to Li Dage’s, what is there to be contested?”

    If even Wei Xiaobao could have this thought, naturally others could also think the same. One after another those who supported Li voiced their objection; someone said, “Being the Xiangzhu, one must make the brothers of the entire Hall work together, it does not have too much to do with martial art.” “If the Xiangzhu position is decided based on martial art skill, then if someone within out Hall can defeat Guan Fuzi, will we let him to be the Xiangzhu?” “This is not Xiangzhu election, but a martial art competition stage. Guan Fuzi might as well erect the stage, let the heroes from all over the world come and compete.” “If that treacherous bandit Oboi did not die, he was the ‘number one warrior of Manchuria’; Guan Fuzi may not necessarily win over him. If Oboi had won on the martial art competition stage, could it be that we will invite him to become our Xiangzhu?” As the crowd heard this, they could not bear not to laugh.

    In this confusion, suddenly someone said coldly, "Yin Xiangzhu, oh Yin Xiangzhu, after your death, nobody look up on you anymore. The oath we made in front of your memorial tablet has turned into damn bullsh1t." Wei Xiaobao recognized the voice, it belonged to Qi Laosan who loved to say cold words and make sarcastic comments.

    The crowd immediately quiet down. And then almost together several people asked, "Qi Laosan, what do you mean by that?"

    With a cold laugh Qi Laosan said, "Many years ago, I, the one surnamed Qi, kowtowed in front of Wan Yunlong Dage and Yin Lizhu's memorial tablets, I pricked my finger and shed some blood and made a heavy oath, vowing to avenge Yin Xiangzhu. With my own mouth I said, 'Whichever brother kill Oboi and avenged Yin Xiangzhu deep enmity, I, Qi Biaoqing, will revere him as our Hall's Xiangzhu, will all my heart I will faithfully obey his commands, and promise never to go against him!' Qi Laosan indeed said those words. The one surnamed Qi intends to keep his words; it is definitely not a dog fart!" In that instant, the hall grew very quiet, not the least bit of noise was heard. Actually, everybody in that hall had made the same vow.

    After a while, it was again Jia Laoliu who lost his patient first. He said, "Qi San'ge [third (older) brother], what you said is not wrong, in fact, everybody had said the same thing, including me, Jia Laoliu. Naturally it was not an empty oath. But ... but ... you know it, I know it, everybody know that the one who killed Oboi was this ... this ..." He turned around looking for Wei Xiaobao, suddenly he saw Wei Xiaobao was at the door with one foot already outside the hall, ready to flee. "Grab him," Jia Laoliu shouted, "Don't let him run away!"

    Wei Xiaobao pulled his foot wishing to dash out. In an instant six, seven men pounced on him. About a dozen hands grabbed his body at the same time and forcefully dragged him back into the hall. "Hey, hey," Wei Xiaobao screamed, "Turtle bastards, why are you pulling laozi back?" He presumed that this time he would not live, so he might as well enjoy hurling curses at them.

    A man wearing xiucai[3] attire, including the hat, walked out from among the crowd. "Xiao Xiongdi," he said, "Don't curse people."

    Wei Xiaobao recognized his voice, he said, "You are Qi Laosan?"

    That man was indeed Qi Laosan, Qi Biaoqing. "You know me?" he asked in surprise.

    "I know your Ma!" Wei Xiaobao replied.

    Qi Biaoqing had 30% bookworm disposition, he did not realize Wei Xiaobao was cursing at him. He was even more surprised, "How did you know my Ma?" he asked.

    "Your Ma and I are old friends," Wei Xiaobao replied, "We are old lovers."

    The crowd roared in laugher. "This little eunuch is a smooth-talker!" they commented.

    Qi Biaoqing's entire face turned red. "Stop laughing!" he said. Immediately his face turned stern as he asked, "Xiao Xiongdi, why did you kill Oboi?"

    Wei Xiaobao got a sudden inspiration. He said in loud voice, "That traitor Oboi had done not a few of evil deeds, he had killed countless our Han people's heroes and warriors. I, Wei Xiaobao, cannot coexist with him. I ... I was fine until he captured me and put me in the Imperial Palace and made me a eunuch. I wish I could chop his head and made him into minced meat, and throw him into the pond to feed the tortoise." He knew that the more vehement he was and the more he aroused indignation, the greater his chance of survival would be.

    The people in the hall looked at each other in astonishment. Qi Biaoqing asked, "How long have you become a eunuch?"

    "How long? Not even half a year yet," Wei Xiaobao replied, "I am originally from Yangzhou, he caught me and brought me to Beijing. Hot piece mama, stinky Oboi is dead I still want him to go up the mountain of blades, to go down the deep fryer, to roll over nail board and have that thief Oboi's bones penetrated." A succession of Yangzhou-style cussing blurted out of his mouth.

    A middle-aged man nodded his head and said, "He is really from Yangzhou." His own voice carried a Yangzhou accent.

    "Uncle," Wei Xiaobao said, "We, Yangzhou people, were tragically killed by the Tatars; they killed us for ten days in a row, from morning to night without stopping. My grandpa, my grandma, my first grandma, my second grandma, my third grandma, my fourth grandma, not a single one escaped from the Tatars. The Manchu ghosts went on killing spree from the Eastern Gate all the way to the Western Gate, from the Southerm Gate all the way to the Northern Gate, all under this Oboi's order. I ... I simply cannot live under the same sky as him, that's how deep my enmity is." He tried to remember what people say about the 'Ten Days of Yangzhou' massacre, the more he said, the more believable he was. Hearing him, the people were emotionally moved, they nodded their heads again and again.


    [1] Play on words: the surname 'Jia' sounds like 'false/fake/artificial'.

    [2] Yama, King of the underworld.

    [3] Xiucai was a scholar who had passed the county level of imperial exam.

  13. #53
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 7 - Part 7

    “No wonder, no wonder!” Guan Anji said.

    Wei Xiaobao said, “Not only my grandpa, grandma, even my father was also killed by Oboi.”

    “Poor child, poor child,” Qi Biaoqing said.

    Cui Xiazi asked, “How old are you this year?”

    “Thirteen or fourteen years old,” Wei Xiaobao replied.

    Cui Xiazi said, “The massacre at Yangzhou was more than twenty years ago, how can your father be killed by Oboi?”

    Wei Xiaobao thought something was amiss, his lies had been discovered, thereupon he blurted out whatever was in his mind, “How should I know? I wasn’t even born yet, it was what my ma told me.”

    Cui Xiazi said, “Even if you were born after his death, it’s still impossible.”

    “Cui Xiongdi,” Qi Biaoqing said, “You are wrong. This Xiao Xiongdi said his father was killed by Oboi, he did not say that he was killed during the ‘Ten days of Yangzhou’. Oboi was an arrogant officer, until today, in which year he did not kill anybody? Our Yin Xiangzhu was killed by Oboi; it happened only a little bit more than two years ago.”

    “Yes, yes!” Cui Xiazi said.

    Jia Laoliu suddenly asked, “Xiao … Friend, you said that Oboi has killed countless heroes and warriors, what does it have to do with you?”

    “Who says it has nothing to do with me?” Wei Xiaobao replied, “I have a good friend who was arrested by Oboi at the Qing Palace and was killed. He and I were caught together.”

    “Who is it, who is it?” the crowd asked together.

    “This man has quite a reputation in Jianghu,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “His name is Mao Shiba!”

    “Oh!” more than a dozen men exclaimed. “Mao Shiba is your friend?” Jia Laoliu asked, “But he did not die.”

    Wei Xiaobao was delighted, “He didn’t die?” he said, “That’s wonderful! Jia Laoliu, when you cursed the salt smugglers in Yangzhou, Mao Shiba fought them on your behalf. I was also helping him to fight.”

    Jia Laoliu scratched his head, “Is there really such thing?” he wondered.

    “Very good!” Guan Anji said, “Whether this little friend is indeed a friend or a foe, it is a matter of great importance. Laoliu, take several brothers with you, go get Mao Shiba, invite him to identify him.”

    “Yes!” Jia Laoliu complied; he turned around and went out the hall.

    Qi Biaoqing pulled a chair. “Xiao Xiongdi,” he said, “Please sit down!”

    Wei Xiaobao was not bashful at all, he sat down. Someone gave him a bowl of noodles and a cup of tea. Wei Xiaobao was indeed very hungry, he ate the noodles clean. Guan Anji, Qi Biaoqing, and the one they called Li Dage, Li Lishi, sat with him and chatted. Their tone was quite polite, but actually they were interrogating him about his life and what he had been through lately. Wei Xiaobao did not conceal anything, occasionally he would toot his horn, hurl some cuss words to Oboi, and tell them in detail how he helped Kangxi capture Oboi. Only the fact that he learned martial art from Hai Laogong and Kangxi personally stab Oboi on the back, he did not mention at all. Guan Anji and the others had already heard about how Oboi was arrested by the young emperor and a group of little eunuchs. Listening to Wei Xiaobao’s vivid narrative, they knew most likely it was not a fabrication.

    Guan Anji sighed and said, “Oboi had a reputation as the Number One Warrior of Manchuria; not only he was killed by you, but he was captured also by you. It must have been the heaven’s will.”

    They were chatting for about an hour. Guan Anji, Li Lishi, Qi Biaoqing and the others were Jianghu veterans with rich experience; although they felt that Wei Xiaobao’s story was somewhat flippant and insincere, the crux of the story was unambiguous. Suddenly they heard footsteps, the door to the hall was pushed open, two men carrying a stretcher walked in. Jia Laoliu followed behind them; he said, “Brother-in-law, Mao Shiba has been invited here!”

    Wei Xiaobao sprang up. He saw Mao Shiba was lying on the stretcher, his cheeks were hollow, his eye sockets sank deep, his countenance was extremely wan and sallow. Wei Xiaobao asked, “You … you are sick?”

    When Jia Laoliu came to get him, Mao Shiba only knew that the Green Wood Hall of Tian Di Hui had an important matter they would like to discuss with him, but he did not know the nature of the matter. Now that he suddenly saw Wei Xiaobao, he was wild with joy. “Xiaobao,” he called out, “You … you also ran away; that’s wonderful! I … all this time I have been thinking about you. I was hoping that as soon as I recover, I will go back to the Imperial Palace to get you out. This … this is really good!”

    At these words, the 30% remaining doubt that was still in everybody’s hearts was swept away in an instant. This little eunuch was indeed Mao Shiba’s friend, who was captured together with him and was brought into the Qing Palace. Although Mao Shiba was not a member of Tian Di Hui, he was a man with quite a reputation in Jianghu, he always said one as one and two as two. Over the last few years, his arrest by the Qing court was a matter of public knowledge. Since Wei Xiaobao was his friend, naturally he could not be a real eunuch of the Qing Palace. Moreover, when Mao Shiba talked, they saw how he revealed his true feelings, obviously his friendship with the child was extremely good.

    “Mao Dage,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Are … are you injured?”

    Mao Shiba sighed and said, “Ay, when I ran away from the Imperial Palace that night, I managed to reach the Palace gate, finally I met some imperial bodyguards. It was one against five. I killed two of them, but I also received two saber chops. I desperately ran out of the Palace gate. More imperial bodyguards from the Palace ran after me. It was actually a dead end for me. Fortunately Tian Di Hui friends lent me their hands, and thus my life was spared. Were you also being rescued by the good friends of Tian Di Hui?”

    Immediately the look on Guan Anji and the others’ faces turned awkward. They felt that the way they handled this matter was not exactly too pretty. Who would have thought that Wei Xiaobao said, “Exactly. That old eunuch forced me to become a little eunuch. It was not until today that I finally able to escape. Fortunately I came across these … these gentlemen from Tian Di Hui.”

    The Tian Di Hui warriors secretly let out a relieved breath, they knew that by saying that, Wei Xiaobao was giving careful consideration to their face; they were secretly grateful, thinking that although this boy was young, he was a good friend, indeed.

    Right away Jia Laoliu invited Mao Shiba and Wei Xiaobao to take a rest in a side room, while the Green Wood Hall warriors continued their conference in the main hall. Mao Shiba’s injury was very heavy, although he had been recuperating for several months, his body was still very weak. Just now when he was being brought up on the stretcher, his body was jolted and shaken, his wound was aching. Mentally he was very tired; he wanted to talk some more, but he simply did not have any strength. Wei Xiaobao thought, “No matter what, they are not going to kill me.” His mood improved tremendously. Curling on a large round-backed wooden armchair, he fell asleep immediately. In his sleep, he felt someone lifted him up, put him on a bed, and covered him with a quilt.

    When he woke up the next morning, someone came and brought water with which to wash his face, a cup of green tea, and a large bowl of meat noodles. “They treat laozi better and better,” he thought, “Unexpectedly they regard me like a big boss.” But then he saw two men standing outside the side room, and two more men standing outside the window. Although they pretended to be idle and were chatting with each other, it was obvious that they had received order to watch over him, perhaps they were afraid he might escape.

    Wei Xiaobao was a bit anxious; he thought, “If they really treat me as an honored guest, why did they send these four men to guard me?” Suddenly his childish heart rose up. “Humph, I am afraid guarding Wei Xiaobao is not that easy. I am going to slip out and have a stroll, I want to see how these four idiots will deal with me!” After looking clearly at his surroundings, he hatched a plan. Straight away he reached out and pushed hard the window facing east. At the noise, four men looked to the window. When Wei Xiaobao was sure that these four men’s eyes were still looking at the window, he slammed the side room’s door to the inside, and quickly rolled underneath the bed.

    Hearing the door, the four men turned their heads around and saw the double door was already open; the leaves were swinging continuously. They were shocked. These four men were indeed sent to watch over Wei Xiaobao. When they saw the door open, their first thought was that Wei Xiaobao had already escaped. “Aiyo!” they all called out together, and rushed into the room. They saw Mao Shiba was still sleeping soundly on the bed, but Wei Xiaobao was nowhere to be seen.

    “This child couldn’t be too far,” one man said, “Let’s spread out and pursue him, and report this to our superior.”

    “Yes!” the other tree complied, and together they rushed out of the room. Two of them leaped up to the roof.

    Wei Xiaobao coughed, and then got out from under the bed and haughtily walked toward the main hall. He pushed the door and saw Guan Anji and Li Lishi were sitting side by side, while the men sent to guard him breathlessly reported, “That … that child suddenly ran … ran away; we don’t know … where he is.” Before he finished, he saw Wei Xiaobao suddenly appear. “Ah!” the man exclaimed, his eyes grew big as he stared at Wei Xiaobao, speechless.

    Wei Xiaobao stretched his body and said, “Li Dage, Guan Fuzi, how are you?”

    Guan Anji and Li Lishi looked at each other, and then said to the men, “Dismissed! You are useless!” Immediately they laughed toward Wei Xiaobao and said, “Please sit down, did you sleep well last night?”

    With a chuckle Wei Xiaobao sat down and said, “Very well, very well!”

    The main hall door suddenly burst open as the other two men rushed in. “Guan Fuzi,” one of them shouted, that … that child has gone …” Suddenly he saw Wei Xiaobao sitting there. “Oh!” he cried out in amazement, “He … he …”

    Wei Xiaobao could not help but laughing aloud as he said, “You four men are really useless, you can’t even watch over a child. If I really wanted to run away, I am already gone by now.”

    A foolish-looking man asked, “How did you get out? There must be something in my eyes, I did not see even a shadow, yet you were already gone.”

    Wei Xiaobao said with a laugh, “I know the art of invisibility; I can teach it to you if you like.”

    Guan Anji frowned; he waved his hands to the two men and said, “Dismissed!”

    The foolish-looking man was still asking, “There is really the art of invisibility? No wonder, no wonder.”

    Li Lishi said, “Xiao Xiongdi is young, but smart and sharp, making people quite admire you.”

    Suddenly they heard faint hoof beats in the distant, a large number of riders were coming their way. Guan Anji and Li Lishi stood up immediately. “Tatars’ troops?” Li Lishi said in a low voice. Guan Anji nodded. Pointing his finger to the door he let out three shrill whistles. Five men rushed into the hall.

    “Tell everybody to get ready!” Guan Anji said, “Tell Jia Laoliu to lead several brothers to protect Master Mao Shiba. A large number of Tatars’ troops have arrived, we can’t face them in battle, we must retreat separately per pre-arranged routes.”

    The five men complied and went out to transmit the order. Everywhere the Tian Di Hui people were roused. Guan Anji said, “Xiao Xiongdi, you’d better stay with me.”

    Suddenly a man rushed into the hall and said loudly, “Zongduozhu has arrived!”

    “What?” Guan Anji and Li Lishi asked together.

    The man said, “Zongduozhu, accompanied by five Halls’ Xiangzhu, are riding toward this place.”

    Guan and Li, two people were delighted; they both asked, “How do you know?”

    The man replied, “Subordinate met Zongduozhu on the way, he personally ordered subordinate to inform his arrival in advance.”

    Seeing the man had run and was out of breath, Guan Anji nodded and said, “Very well, you go and take a rest.” He let out a whistle to summon the guard, and issued his order, “It’s not Tatars’ troops, it’s Zongduozhu’s arrival! Tell everybody to go out and welcome him.”

    As soon as the news spread, the building was buzzing with excitement. Holding Wei Xiaobao’s hand, Guan Anji said, “Xiao Xiongdi, our Society’s Zongduozhu has arrived. Let us greet him together!”

  14. #54
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 8 - Part 1

    Chapter 8 - Coming across distinguished guest by accident as if having a previous appointment, famous reputation constantly in fear of being seen without any reason.
    (Translated by Foxs)


    LuDingJi-08.jpg

    Altogether Tian Di Hui had ten Halls. The two empty chairs in the middle of the room, one belonged the Third Prince Zhu, the other belonged to Zheng Wangye. Chen Jinnan took the remaining seat. Each Hall’s Hall Master then reported the situation in various provinces.
    Last edited by foxs; 04-14-13 at 10:38 PM.

  15. #55
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    Default Chapter 8 - Part 2

    Wei Xiaobao followed Guan Anji, Li Lishi, and the other warriors outside the door, he saw two, three hundred men standing in two rows shaped like a funnel, their faces showed excitement. A moment later, two men carrying a stretcher with Mao Shiba on it came out.

    Li Lishi said, “Mao Shiba, you are our guest, no need to be so polite.”

    Mao Shiba said, “I’ve long heard of Chen Zongduozhu’s illustrious name, it’s really like thunder piercing my ears. Today I have the opportunity to pay a formal visit, even if … even if I have to die today, my death …. my death won’t be in vain.” His voice was still without any strength, but his face flushed, showing he was in high spirit.

    They heard the sound of hoof beats was coming near, about a dozen horses were galloping near. Before they even arrived, the first three riders jumped down from their mounts. Li Lishi and the others rushed forward to greet them, they held hands with those three riders and talked; they seemed to know each other very intimately.

    Wei Xiaobao heard one of them say, “Zongduozhu is waiting ahead of us; Li Dage, Guan Fuzi, and other brothers, please come and see him …” These several people conferred with each other while still standing. Li Lishi, Guan Anji, Qi Biaoqing, Priest Xuanzhen, and the others, six people in all, mounted their horses and sped away with these incoming men.

    Mao Shiba was disappointed, “Chen Zongduozhu is not coming?” he asked. But nobody around him knew the answer to that question. They were all dejected because they could not see their Zongduozhu.

    Wei Xiaobao said in his heart, “Did someone owe you all ten thousand taels and did not pay? Or perhaps you lost your wife and your pants in gambling? Your granny, why are your expressions so ugly?”

    After a long time, someone on horseback galloped by. He was conveying an order, mentioning thirteen names, telling them to meet with Zongduozhu. Those thirteen men were delighted; they rushed toward their mounts and galloped away.

    Wei Xiaobao asked Mao Shiba, “Mao Dage, is Chen Zongduozhu a very old man?”

    Mao Shiba replied, “I … I have never … never seen him. Everybody in Jianghu admires Chen Zongduozhu, but to see his … the Senior’s face may be really difficult.”

    “Hey, hey,” Wei Xiaobao laughed, in his heart he said, “Humph, damn it, what an arrogant guy, what’s so special about him anyway? Laozi does not want to see him.”

    Seeing this situation, the crowd of warriors knew that most likely their Zongduozhu would not come. But they still cherished a one in ten thousand chance that he might, thereupon they all stood waiting at the main gate. After standing for a long time, some of them sat down. Someone advised Mao Shiba, “Master Mao, you’d better go back to your room and rest. If our Zongduozhu arrives, we’ll invite Master Mao to meet him as soon as possible.”

    Mao Shiba shook his head and said, “No! I am going to wait here. It’s an honor to meet Chen Zongduozhu, if zaixia[1] is not waiting outside, that … that will be too respectful. Ay, I wonder if during my lifetime, I, Mao Shiba, will have the good fortune to see the Senior’s face.”

    Wei Xiaobao had followed Mao Shiba from Yangzhou to Beijing. Listening to what he said along the way, Mao Shiba did not have any favorable impression of various Wulin personalities, but toward this Chen Zongduozhu, he showed a complete reverence. Unconsciously Wei Xiaobao was also infected by his sentiment, and did not dare to curse in his heart anymore.

    Suddenly they heard hoof beats again, some people were galloping near. Those who sat on the ground leaped on their feet. Everybody craned his neck; everybody hoped that the person the Zongduozhu want to meet this time would be him. Sure enough, four envoys came by. Their leaders dismounted the horse and cupped his fist, saying, “Zongduozhu wishes to invite Mao Shiba, Master Mao, and Wei Xiaobao, Master Wei, to grant him the favor of meeting the two gentlemen.”

    Mao Shiba cheered, he leaped up from the stretcher, but “Aiyo!” he cried, and fell back onto the stretcher. “Go quickly, go quickly!” he called out.

    Wei Xiaobao was also very happy, he thought, “Everybody has been calling me ‘Gong-gong’ too much, but nobody has ever called me ‘master’. Ha ha … laozi is now Wei Xiaobao, Master Wei.”

    Two envoys took over the stretcher and hang it between two horses. Then they slowly walked. The other envoy gave his ride to Wei Xiaobao, while he took another horse to ride on, and followed behind the procession. The six of them travelled less than three li on the main road, before they turned right onto a small lane. Along the way they met two or three men, either sitting or walking, either patrolling or guarding. The leader of the envoys stretched out his middle finger, ring finger and little finger and turned the fingers downward. The two guards nodded their heads; they also stretched out their fingers in secret signal. Wei Xiaobao noticed that the signals these people were showing were all different; he did not know the purpose of those signals.

    After travelling for twelve, thirteen li, they arrived at a courtyard in front of a big building. The man guarding in front of the gate loudly announced, “The guests have arrived!” And then he opened the gate. Li Lishi, Guan Anji, and two men that Wei Xiaobao had never met before came out. They cupped their fists and said, “Master Mao, Master Wei, welcome! Our humble Society’s Zongduozhu requests the pleasure of seeing you.”

    Wei Xiaobao was utterly delighted; the thought, “Looks like my ‘Master Wei’ will stay after all!”

    Mao Shiba struggled to stand up, he said, “How can I see Chen Zongduozhu like this? It’s really … really … Aiyo!” In the end he failed to get up and had to lie on the stretcher.

    Li Lishi said, “Master Mao is injured, no need to be overly courteous.” He let the two guests to enter the main hall.

    A man told Wei Xiaobao, “Master Wei, please sit here and have some tea. Zongduozhu wishes to have a chat with Master Mao first.” Straight away he took Mao Shiba in.

    Wei Xiaobao drank a cup of tea, a servant served him four dishes of light refreshments. Wei Xiaobao took a piece and thought, “Compared to the ones in the Imperial palace, this light refreshments is far too inferior, it can't even reach the level of Lovely Spring Courtyard's." Unavoidably the high regard he had of Zongduozhu's status was reduced a little bit. However, his stomach was really hungry, so he ate not a few of these despised light refreshments.

    About the time needed to eat a meal later, Li Lishi and the others, four people, came out again. One of them was an elderly man with grizzled beard, who said, "Zongduozhu requests the pleasure of seeing Master Wei."

    Wei Xiaobao busily chewed the pastry in his mouth and swallowed it hard into his belly. After wiping his hands onto the front of his clothes, he followed the four people inside. They stopped in front of a side room's door. The elderly man raised the curtain on the door and said, "Little White Dragon, Wei Xiaobao, Master Wei has arrived!"

    Wei Xiaobao was pleasantly surprised; he thought, "Unexpectedly he knew my made-up nickname, Mao Dage must have told them."

    A middle-aged man dressed in scholar attire inside the room stood up; with a smile across his face he said, "Please come in!"

    Wei Xiaobao walked in. His eyes were rolling in confusion. Guan Anji said, "This is our humble Society's Chen Zongduozhu."

    Wei Xiaobao raised his head slightly to take a look; he saw the man had a kind expression, but his eyes were like lightning as he gazed directly toward Wei Xiaobao. He could not help but was startled; he bent his knees and kowtowed to that man. The scholar stooped down to help him up and said with a laugh, "No need to be overly courteous." As his arms were being pulled by the scholar, Wei Xiaobao's entire body was hot; he trembled involuntarily and was not able to continue his kowtow.

    The scholar said with a laugh, "This Xiao Xiongdi captured and killed the number one warrior of Machuria, Oboi; he has taken revenge and swiped out the grudge of our countless Han people compatriots who have died under Oboi’s hands. In just a few days his name has shaken the land under the heavens. To be able to make a name this early in life is truly hard to come by, from the ancient time up to this day.”

    Actually, the skin on Wei Xiaobao’s face was quite thick; if someone else had praised him like this, he would immediately blow his own trumpet. However, in front of this Zongduozhu who did not flaunt his own prestige, unexpectedly he could only hum and haw without able to say anything. The Zongduozhu pointed to a chair and said with a smile, “Please sit down!” While he sat down himself first.

    Wei Xiaobao also sat down. But Li Lishi and the others, four people, remained standing. Zongduozhu smiled and said, “Master Mao Shiba told us that at the foot of Victory Hill in Yangzhou, by using a ruse Xiao Xiongdi has killed an officer of the Qing army, the Black Dragon Whip Shi Song, and thus making a debut and render your first merit. This is already out of the ordinary. I wonder how did Xiao Xiongdi capture Oboi?”

    Wei Xiaobao looked up, their eyes met, he could not stop his heart from thumping, in that instant the big talk and nonsense filling his heart suddenly vanished completely. When he opened his mouth, only the truth came out: how he obtained Kangxi's favor, how Oboi was being rude, how he cooperated with the young emperor in arresting Oboi, and so on. It's just that out of his respect toward Kangxi's loyalty, he did not mention anything about the young emperor stabbed Oboi on the back with a dagger. As the matter stands, he did mention how he threw the ash from the incense burner to Oboi's eyes and how he smashed his head with the copper incense burner, fully aware that if it was not a third-rate way of dealing with the enemy, then it was definitely a second-rate; yet he was unable to conceal it any longer.

    The Zongduozhu listened attentively without asking any question, when Wei Xiaobao finished, he nodded and said, "So that's what happened. Xiao Xiongdi's martial art skill is not of the same school as Master Mao's, I wonder which honorable master is your teacher?"

    Wei Xiaobao said, "I only learn a little bit of martial art, it can't be considered coming from any honorable master. The Old Turtle did not really teach me martial art, all he taught me was fake martial art."

    Although Zongduozhu was a man of vast experience and broad knowledge, he had not heard of any 'Old Turtle'; "The Old Turtle?" he asked.

    Wei Xiaobao laughed aloud and said, "Old turtle is Hai Laogong. His real name is Hai Tianfu. Mao Dage and I were captured by him and were brought to the Palace ..." Speaking to this point, he suddenly realized he had made a mistake. To the Tian Di Hui people he said that Mao Shiba and he were captured by Oboi, and now he said it was Hai Laogong who brought them to the Palace; how could the previous story not match the latter one? Luckily his ability in telling lies and covering up was top-notch; thereupon he said, "This old fellow was acting under Oboi's order to capture us, two people. I supposed Oboi was a very high ranking official, naturally he would not easily do the job personally."

    "Hai Tianfu? Hai Tianfu?" Zongduozhu muttered to himself, "There is such character in the Tatars' Palace? Xiao Xiongdi, show me the martial art he taught you."

    Even if the skin on Wei Xiaobao's face were thicker, he knew that in all honesty his martial art skill was not too brilliant; he said, "The old turtle only taught me fake martial art; he hated me for poisoning his eyes blind, so he did everything possible to harm me. This martial art is truly shameful."

    The Zongduozhu nodded, he waved his left hand, Guan Anji and the others, four people withdrew outside the room and closed the door behind them. Zongduozhu asked, "How did you poison his eyes blind?"

    In front of this heroic-spirited and imposing Zongduozhu, Wei Xiaobao felt that telling lies was extremely difficult; it was a lot more comfortable to tell the truth, a feeling that he had never experienced before. Thereupon he told him how he poisoned Hai Laogong blind, how he killed Xiao Guizi, how he masquerade as him and live as a little eunuch in the Palace. Zongduozhu was amazed and amused at the same time. He reached out with his left hand toward Wei Xiaobao's crotch and found that his pen1s and testicles were intact, Wei Xiaobao had not been 'purified' at all, indeed he was not a court eunuch. Zongduozhu could not help but letting out a sigh of relief as he smiled and said, "Wonderful, wonderful! I have a difficult problem in my mind and have not found the solution for a while. Turns out Xiao Xiongdi has not been purified, you are not a court eunuch!" Slapping lightly on the table with his left hand, he said, "It's settled then! Yin Xiongdi has a successor, the Green Wood Hall has a leader."

    Wei Xiaobao had no idea what he was talking about, he only saw Zongduozhu's delighted expression, apparently he had found solution to the difficult problem weighing down his mind; Wei Xiaobao could not help but feeling happy as well.

    With both hands behind his back, Zongduozhu was walking back and forth in the room, while talking to himself, "Not a single one of our Tian Di Hui's conducts and deeds was without any precedence. Everything starts with me, why should I care about people being shocked or about public criticism?" This literary-style speech of his was even more confusing to Wei Xiaobao.

    The Zongduozhu said, "There are only you and me, two people right now, you don't need to be afraid to be embarrassed. I don't care whether the martial art Hai Tianfu taught you was fake or real, perform it and let me see."

    Only then did Wei Xiaobao understand that the reason he sent Guan Anji, four people, out of the room was to avoid him being afraid of making a clown of himself. Seeing he had no other excuses, Wei Xiaobao said, "It's what the old turtle taught me, it's none of my business; if it is too laughable, you may curse him good."

    The Zongduozhu smiled and said, "Just go on with your practice, don't worry!" Thereupon Wei Xiaobao started to perform his style, a small part of the 'Great Compassion Great Sorrow Thousand-Leaf Hand' Hai Laogong taught him, some of which he had already forgotten, but he still remembered most of it. Zongduozhu watched with rapt attention. After Wei Xiaobao finished performing the style, he nodded and said, "From the way you move, apparently you have learned Shaolin Temple's 'big grappling technique', is that so?"

    The 'big grappling technique' was the one Wei Xiaobao learned first, naturally he knew his mastery was even worse; actually, he wanted to avoid doing it clumsily to save his own face, but Zongduozhu seemed to know everything. Without any choice he said, "The old turtle also taught me several grappling technique to be used in fighting the young emperor." And then he performed several moves of the 'big grappling technique'.

    The Zongduozhu smiled slightly and said, "Not bad!"

    Wei Xiaobao said, "I knew you would laugh when you see it."

    "I am not laughing at you!" the Zongduozhu said with a smile, "I like what I see. I think your memory, as well as your comprehension, are not bad; you are a talented individual. That move ‘white horse kick back’, Hai Tianfu deliberately taught you incorrectly, but you turned it into ‘carp props its gills’; you can make slight change automatically, you did not rigidly adhere to dead moves. That is very good!”

    Wei Xiaobao had a sudden inspiration; he thought, “Apparently Zongduozhu’s martial art skill is a lot higher than the old turtle’s. If he is willing to teach me martial art, I, Wei Xiaobao, will definitely become a real hero, no longer a fake hero.” Leaning his head sideways, he stole a glance toward Zongduozhu; it so happened that Zongduozhu’s cold, electric eyes were gazing at him. Wei Xiaobao was always a mischievous person, even in front of imposing Empress Dowager, he still dared to face her up, but in front of this Zongduozhu, he did not dare to be wanton at all. As their eyes met, immediately he averted his gaze.

    Zongduozhu said slowly, “What do you think the purpose of our Tian Di Hui?”

    “Tian Di Hui is fighting the Qing, restoring the Ming,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “Helping the Han people to kill the Tatars.”

    Zongduozhu nodded, “Exactly,” he said, “Are you willing to enter our Tian Di Hui and become a brother?”

    Wei Xiaobao happily said, “That’s wonderful!” In his mind, each and every one of Tian Di Hui members was a hero and a warrior, he had never imagined that he could become one of the Society’s brothers. He thought further, “Even Mao Dage is not a Tian Di Hui brother, could I be better than him?” He said, “I am afraid … I am afraid I am not good enough.” In that instant his eyes were shining as his heart was swayed between thoughts of personal gains and losses. He felt that it was an out-of-this-world undeserved good luck that most likely it was not real, perhaps Zongduozhu was only joking with him.


    [1] Lit. ‘under’; the humble one, referring to self.

  16. #56
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    Default Chapter 8 - Part 3

    The Zongduozhu said, “It is possible for you to enter the Society. It’s just that our business is fighting the Qing, restoring the Ming, regarding our Han people’s rivers and mountains as heavy, and our very own lives as light. Moreover, the rules within the Society are very strict, if you violate it, your punishment will be very heavy. You must think it over very well.”

    “I don’t need to think,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Whatever rule you have, I will abide by it. Zongduozhu, if you let me join the Society, I will die happy.”

    The smile vanished from Zongduozhu’s face, he said grimly, “This is an extremely important matter, a matter of life and death, it’s not a child’s play.”

    “Of course I know,” Wei Xiaobao said, “I heard people say that Tian Di Hui walks in the way of chivalry, justice and loyalty, its business is startling-the-sky and moving-the-earth kind of great undertakings, how can it be a child’s play?”

    The Zongduozhu smiled and said, “It’s good that you know it. When you enter the Society, you must make 36 oaths and have to avoid ten strict prohibitions.” Speaking to this point, his expression turned heavy. He said, “These prohibitions are not applicable to you since your age is still very young, but there is one: ‘toward my brothers, I must be faithful and true, I must not lie and swindle.’ This one prohibition, do you think you can accomplish?”

    Wei Xiaobao was slightly startled, he said, “To you, Zongduozhu, naturally I won’t dare to lie. But toward the rest of the brothers, must I tell the truth all the time?”

    “Minor matter you may not tell, important matter you must tell,” Zongduozhu said.

    “That’s right,” Wei Xiaobao said, “But when I gamble with the Society’s brothers, can I or can’t I use tricks and cheat?”

    The Zongduozhu had never thought he would ask this kind of question; showing a faint smile he said, “Although gambling is not a good deed, the Society’s rules do not have anything against it. However, if you cheat on them and when they find out they want to beat you, the Society does not forbid it either. Would you like to take a beating and get the worst of it?”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “They won’t know. Actually, I don’t need to cheat; my confidence in winning is nine out of ten.”

    Tian Di Hui’s members were Jianghu warriors; gambling and drinking were their second nature, nobody ever consider it wrong. Zongduozhu no longer paid him any attention. After staring at him for a while, he said, “Are you willing to do obeisance and take me as your master?”

    Wei Xiaobao was ecstatic, immediately he threw himself in front of him and kowtowed repeatedly, while calling, "Shifu!"

    This time the Zongduozhu did not help him up; after Wei Xiaobao had kowtowed a dozen times, he said, "It's enough!" Wei Xiaobao happily stood up. The Zongduozhu said, "I am surnamed Chen, called Jinnan. This three-character name 'Chen Jinnan' is what I use in Jianghu. Since you have become my disciple, you must know your Shifu's real name. My original name is Chen Yonghua, 'yong' from 'yong yuan' [forever/eternal], and 'Hua' from 'zhong hua' [China]." When speaking about his real name, he lowered his voice.

    "Disciple will firmly keep it in my heart, I won't dare to reveal it," Wei Xiaobao said.

    Chen Jinnan looked at him carefully for half a day, he said slowly, "You and I are master and disciple now, we should not conceal anything from each other. Let me tell you frankly: your glib tongue, your craftiness and your excessive cheating is completely unsuited to your master's disposition; I do not like it at all. Therefore, the reason I accepted you as my disciple is out of consideration of our Society's major mission."

    Wei Xiaobao said, "Later on disciple will change."

    "Changing rivers and mountains is easy, changing a man's character is much harder," Chen Jinnan said, "You won't change much. You are still very young, your temper is rather unstable, so it's not that bad. In the future you must always remember my words. I always treat my disciples with strict discipline, if you violate our Society's rules, scheming against anything upright, break the law and commit crimes, your master will take your life. It is as easy as turning my hand, and I will not show any mercy." To prove it, he reached out with his left hand. 'Crack!' he grabbed and broke a piece of wood from the corner of the table, and rubbed it between his hands. Wood splinters rained down on the floor.

    Wei Xiaobao stuck out his tongue and did not pull it back for half a day. Presently, the delight in his heart was difficult to be chased away. He said with a laugh, "I am not going to do any bad thing. As soon as I commit an evil deed, Shifu will grab me on my head and rub it. Besides, I only need to do several bad things and Shifu, you won't have any disciple to whom you can pass on your skill."

    "No need to do several bad things, only one is enough," Chen Jinnan said, "Then you and I won't be master and disciple anymore."

    "How about two things?" Wei Xiaobao asked.

    With a straight face Chen Jinnan replied, "You must be more serious to me, less smooth talking. One bad thing is one bad thing; do you even need to haggle over it?"

    "Yes!" Wei Xiaobao complied, but in his heart he said, "What if I do half a bad thing?"

    "You are my fourth disciple," Chen Jinnan said, "And maybe my last one. Tian Di Hui business is arduous, I do not have time to take a disciple. Your three Shixiong, two died in battle against the Tatars, one died in service during the recovery of Guoxing and Guangfu, Taiwan; they all died as real men sacrificing their lives for the country. Your master's status in Wulin world is not low, my reputation is not shameful, you must not do anything that will cause me to lose face."

    "Yes!" Wei Xiaobao said, "It's just that ... it's just that ..."

    "It's just that what?" Chen Jinnan asked.

    "Sometimes it was not me who want to lose face," Wei Xiaobao said, "But I ended up losing face anyway, I can't help it. For example, I could not beat others, so others caught me and closed me up inside a jujube barrel, and was pushed around like some merchandise. Shifu, you must not blame me."

    Chen Jinnan frowned; he was angered, but was also amused. After heaving a deep sigh he said, "Perhaps accepting you as my disciple is the biggest blunder I've ever made in my entire life. But for the sake of heavy responsibility over the important matter of the world, I have to brave a risk. Xiaobao, our Society has another important matter at hand, in everything you must listen to my instruction and do as I command, don't talk nonsense too much, then you will be all right."

    "Yes!" Wei Xiaobao said.

    Chen Jinnan noticed that he was going to speak but hesitated, so he asked, "What do you want to say?"

    "When disciple talks," Wei Xiaobao started, "I only say something that makes sense to me, I don't want to talk nonsense at all. Yet you say that I talk nonsense, isn't that an unjust treatment?"

    Chen Jinnan did not want to squabble with him, he said, "Then the less you talk the better," but in his heart he said, "I don't know how many heroes and warriors under the heavens are showing respect in front of me, they do not even dare to breathe too loudly, but this cunning, uncouth and weird urchin insists on having this much useless words." He stood up and walked toward the door. "Come with me," he said. Wei Xiaobao rushed to the door and lifted the door curtain to let Chen Jinnan go out, then he followed him to the main hall.

    There were about twenty people sitting in the main hall, as soon as they saw their Zongduozhu come out, everybody stood at attention immediately. Chen Jinnan nodded, he walked toward the second chair at the head of the hall and sat down. Wei Xiaobao noticed that the chair in the middle was empty, and the chair above his Shifu's position was also empty; he was bewildered, "Could it be that Zongduozhu is not the highest position?" he mused, "How come there are two people above Shifu?"

    Chen Jinnan said, "Brothers, I have received a young disciple today." Pointing to Wei Xiaobao he said, "It's him!"

    The crowd stepped forward; cupping their fists and bowing, they said, "Congratulations Zongduozhu," and then they cupped their fists toward Wei Xiaobao and one after another they offered their congratulations as well. Some of them appeared really happy, some looked greatly astonished, some looked like they did not believe it really happened.

    Chen Jinnan ordered Wei Xiaobao, "Go greet all Bobo, Shushu[1]." Wei Xiaobao then went to kowtow to everybody. Standing on the side, Li Lishi introduced, "This is Lotus Flower Hall's Xiangzhu, Cai Dezhong, Cai Bobo." "This is Great Obedience Hall's Xiangzhu, Fang Dahong, Fang Bobo." "This is Latter Family Hall's Xiangzhu, Ma Chaoxing, Ma Bobo."

    Wei Xiaobao kowtowed in front of these Xiangzhu one by one. Altogether there were nine Xiangzhu from nine Halls. Next he had to greet the people next in command of the various Halls. The nine Xiangzhu returned his kowtow by casual greeting, they said continually, "I don't dare, Xiao Xiongdi please rise." But unexpectedly other people did not received his kowtow; as soon as he was about to kneel down, they would reach out and stop him. Wei Xiaobao was quick, sometimes he already knelt down before the other side had time to stop; in this case, the other person would hastily kneel as well to return the propriety. Apparently they did not dare to assume the position as a senior.

    There were more than twenty people in the hall, Wei Xiaobao could not remember everybody's name and duty, he only knew that each one of these people was a leading figure of the Tian Di Hui. He thought, "As soon as I bowed to Zongduozhu and become his disciple, everybody treated me as one of their own, they even told me their real name and capacity within the Society." In his heart he was very happy.

    Chen Jinnan waited until Wei Xiaobao finished greeting the people, and then he said, "Brothers, after taking this young disciple, I also wish for him to enter the Tian Di Hui."

    "Nothing's better than that," the crowd replied in chorus.

    The Lotus Flower Hall's Xiangzhu, Cai Dezhong was an old man with white hair and white beard. He said, "From the beginning, great teacher always produces brilliant student. The disciple of Zongduozhu must be a wise, brave, and all-around talented young hero. I believe that he will establish great merit in our Society."

    The Latter Family Hall's Xiangzhu, Ma Chaoxing was a short and stout man, with sincere smile on his face; he said, "Today we meet Xiao Xiongdi of the Wei family, but I do not have anything as a first meeting gift. The one surnamed Ma has always a man of meticulous planning and careful accounting; let's do it this way: how about if Cai Xiangzhu and I become Xiao Xiongdi's sponsor as he joins the Society, consider it as our first meeting gift. What does Cai Xiong thinks?"

    Cai Dezhong laughed aloud and said, "Old Ma's careful accounting need not be mentioned, it is guaranteed to be a sound planning. This first meeting gift does not involve any money, count me in." Everybody chuckled and laughed.

    Chen Jinnan said, "Two Bobo have enormous faces, and they are willing to be your sponsor. Quickly thank them."

    "Yes!" Wei Xiaobao replied. He stepped forward and kowtowed to express his gratitude.

    Chen Jinnan said, "According to our Society's rules, the good and bad words and actions of the brother entering the Society will be the great responsibility of the sponsor. This young disciple of mine is very sharp-witted; I am afraid with his quick-thinking head, he would not do the job abiding by the rules. Since Cai and Ma, two Xiangzhu are his sponsors, later on you will share some of my responsibility. If he ever do anything dishonorable, you must put your hands to discipline him, you must not be too polite."

    Cai Dezhong said, "Zongduozhu is too modest. How can any disciple under Zongduozhu's tutelage be a dishonorable scholar?"

    "I am not being too modest," Chen Jinnan replied, "Toward this child, I do not feel at ease; by helping me disciplining him, everybody is sharing my responsibility and taking some load off my mind.”

    Ma Chaoxing laughed and said, “Disciplining him, I do not dare, Xiao Xiongdi is young, if you have anything you are not clear, we all are brothers here, of course we will be frank and open-minded, so you won’t have to be uptight.”

    Chen Jinnan nodded and said, “Let me thank you in advance.”

    Wei Xiaobao thought, “I haven’t done anything wrong, but Shifu already worry that I will do bad things. Ah, right, he heard me on the trick I used to deal with the old turtle, he is afraid my old illness might flare-up and would treat him the same way. But the old turtle wanted to harm me, plus he was not my Shifu, so I poisoned his eyes blind. You are my real Shifu, you will teach me real skill, how can I fool with you? Yet you talk about it up front, everybody here will discipline me, then I won’t be able to move at all.”

    He heard Chen Jinnan said, “Li Xiongdi, please set up a ceremonial hall, we will have a ceremony today to let Wei Xiaobao join our Society.” Li Lishi complied and went out to prepare the ceremony. Chen Jinnan said, “According to the customs of the former days, whenever someone wanted to join our Society, the sponsor must examine and investigate his past history and present conducts, for at least half a year, at most one or two years. When everything has been verified, we then conduct the ceremony and have the person join the Society. However, Wei Xiaobao holds a governmental post in the Qing Palace, he is a very trusted-aide of the young Emperor, which will be very beneficial to our Society. We have to temporarily make an exception here, but not because he is my own disciple.”

    The people said, “We, brothers, understand.”

    The Great Obedience Hall's Xiangzhu, Fang Dahong was a big and tall man, his black beard was long and shiny. With a loud and clear voice he said, “We can have such a trusted brother handling matters at the side of the Tatars Emperor, is indeed a Heaven’s blessing. The luck of the Tatars is numbered, the revival our Great Ming’s rivers and mountains is promising. It is called ‘knowing yourself and knowing the enemy, you will emerge victorious in every battle’. Who does not understand Zongduozhu’s intention?”

    Wei Xiaobao mused, “So the reason you all treat me very well is to make me a spy by the Emperor’s side. Shall I do it, or shan’t I do it?” Thinking how well Kangxi had treated him, he could not help but feeling quite a bit of hesitation.

    Cai Dezhong immediately explained briefly the history and rules of the Tian Di Hui to Wei Xiaobao. He said, “The founder of our Society was Koxinga[2], whose original surname was Zheng, his given name was Cheng at the top and Gong at the bottom. At that time Koxinga was the leader of militia, he attacked Jiangnan [South of Changjiang/Yangtze River] and besieged Jiangning [district, Jiangsu], but he failed within sight of success, and was forced to retreat, back to Taiwan. Accepting Zongduozhu’s recommendation, he founded our Tian Di Hui. At that time, our Zongduozhu was Koxinga’s military leader. Me and Fang Xiongdi, Ma Xiongdi, Hu Xiongdi, Li Xiongdi, as well as the Green Wood Hall’s Yin Xiangzhu and the others, were all military officers and soldiers under Koxinga.”

    Wei Xiaobao knew that Koxinga was Zheng Chenggong, whom the Ming Dynasty Emperor bestowed the surname Zhu, therefore, the people addressed him deferentially as Guo Xing Ye. Zheng Chenggong had a resounding reputation in the Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian and Guanghzhou area. He passed away during the first year of Kangxi’s reign. Since he died not too long ago, when mentioning his name, everybody’s tone was very respectful. Mao Shiba had also mentioned his name to Wei Xiaobao.

    Cai Dezhong continued, “There were a lot of our soldiers remained in Jiangnan, unable to retreat to Taiwan. Some withdrew to Xiamen, a small part of our army actually; for this reason, Zongduozhu accepted Koxinga's order to remain in the Central Earth to establish the Tian Di Hui and get in touch with Koxinga's former subordinates. Everybody who had followed Koxinga in the attack of Jiangsu and Zhejiang automatically became Tian Di Hui member, without any need of neither sponsor nor the probation period. But if any outsider wanted to join the Society, we must thoroughly verify his background, to guard against any spy penetrating our organization."

    Speaking to this point, he paused for a moment, then suddenly his expression brightened as he continued with his narrative, "To think that back then our army embarked from Taiwan, altogether we had one hundred and seventy thousand men: fifty thousand navy, fifty thousand cavalry, fifty thousand infantry, ten thousand supporting guerillas, and ten thousand 'ironmen soldiers', each one of them wearing full body armor and wielded long lance in their hands, specially designed to hack the legs of Tatars' horses, while the enemy's blade and arrows could not injure them. During the battle of Mount Yang Peng in Zhenjiang, Zongduozhu was in command of two thousand troops, we destroyed the Tatars' eighteen thousand soldiers. It was truly majestic, the aura of death filled the air. I was an officer in the eighth garrison under Zongduozhu's flag, I led my troops to rush and kill the enemy, and I heard the Tatars soldiers cried out, 'Malu, malu! Qihu, qihu!'."


    [1] Uncles, older than one's father and younger than one's father, respectively.

    [2] Orig. Guoxing Ye, ‘master of Gouxing [country’s surname]’. From the dictionary: [Zheng Chenggong: Koxinga (1624-1662), south Chinese regional leader during early Qing, fled the mainland and conquered Taiwan from the Ducth.] Guoxing is a township in central Taiwan, however, it literally means ‘the country’s surname’.

  17. #57
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 8 - Part 4

    Listening to this story, Wei Xiaobao was radiant with delight. "What does that mean?" he asked.

    Cai Dezhong said, "In Tatar’s tongue, 'Malu, malu' means 'Mama, Mama'. 'Qihu, qihu' means 'run away, run away!'." Everybody roared in laughter.

    Ma Chaoxing said with a laugh, "When Cai Xiangzhu is telling the story of the capture of Zhenjiang and the big massacre of the Tatar troops, he is in such a high spirit that the story won't be finished in three days and three nights. As the sponsor, you need to explain our Society's rules to Wei Xiongdi, if you talk like that, even when Wei Xiongdi's beard grew as long as yours, you won't be finished ..." Speaking to this point, he suddenly remembered that Wei Xiaobao was a little eunuch, how could he grow beard? Stealing a glance toward Wei Xiaobao, he saw that Wei Xiaobao was unconcerned, only then did he feel relieved.

    At this moment Li Lishi was back, reporting that the ceremony hall was ready. Chen Jinnan led everybody toward the rear hall. Wei Xiaobao saw two memorial tablets set up on an board table. The one in the middle read 'The Son of Heaven of the Great Ming', the one next to it read 'Lord Yan Ping of the Great Ming, Marshall Zheng'. As sacrificial offering on the table were arranged a pig's head, a sheep's head, a chicken, and a fish, plus seven incense sticks. Everybody kneeled down together and did obeisance to the spirit table.

    Cai Dezhong took a sheet of white paper from the table, with a loud and clear voice he read, "Heaven and earth is universal, recovering the Great Ming, exterminating the barbarians. We all live together and die together, imitating the ancient tale of Peach Garden, we all are brothers, with the surname Hong [great], given name Jinlan [sworn brother], become one family. We bow to the heaven as our father, and to the earth as our mother, the sun is our brother, the moon is our sister. We bow to five ancestors and the founder Wan Yunlong as the guardian spirits of the Hong family. We take the twenty-fifth day of the seventh month of the year Jiayin[1], at the Chou hour [between 1-3 am] as our birth-date. Over the former two capitals and thirteen provinces, wholeheartedly as one body. Present imperial court is not imperial court, generals and marshals are not general and marshals, the hearts of the people waver, as we are called to restore the Ming Dynasty and eliminate the barbarians under the heavens. We all consider Chen Jinnan as our commander, we will go with him thru five lakes and four oceans, to be heroes and warriors. We burn incense and establish an oath, to obey and walk in the way of the Heaven, to recover the Ming Dynasty, to take revenge and erase humiliation. We smear our lips with the blood of a sacrifice and make an oath, may the deities come down and be our witness.”

    Finished reading, Cai Dezhong explained, “Wei Xiongdi, within these words there is a reference to the ancient tale of ‘Tying Righteousness in the Peach Garden’, do you know about it?”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “Liu, Guan and Zhang made an oath of brotherhood in the Peach Garden, they were not born in the same year and the same month, but were wishing that they would die in the same year and the same month.”

    “That’s right,” Cai Dezhong said, “Now that you have entered Tian Di Hui, everybody becomes brother. We and Zongduozhu are brothers, you bowed to him and enter his tutelage, everybody become your Bobo or Shushu. Consequently, you greeted us by kowtowing. But from now on, we are brothers, so you do not need to kowtow to us anymore.”

    “Yes,” Wei Xiaobao replied, but in his heart he mused, “That’s great.”

    Cai Dezhong said, “Our Tian Di Hui is also called Hong Men[2]. ‘Hong’ is from Hongwu, the regnal name of Ming Taizu[3]. Surname Hong, given name Jinlan means the brotherhood of the Hong Men. Our Hong Men was founded by Wan Yunlong. Wan Yunlong is another name for Koxinga. First, we brothers do not dare to casually mentioning Koxinga’s real surname and given name; second, it will be inconvenient to us if the eagle claws hear his name too much. Therefore, among the brothers, we refer to Koxinga as Wan Yunlong. ‘Wan’ means ‘thousands and tens of thousands people’, ‘Yunlong’ means a dragon in the cloud. Thousands and tens of thousands people consider the Great Ming as the Son of Heaven, thereupon he strived to regain our beautiful rivers and mountains. Wei Xiongdi, this is our Society’s secret, you must never mention it to an outsider friend. Even if Master Mao Shiba is your good friend, your good brother, you must not tell him this.”

    Wei Xiaobao nodded. “I understand,” he said, “Mao Dage wanted very much to join our Tian Di Hui, can we let him join the Society?”

    Cai Dezhong said, “Someday Wei Xiongdi can be his sponsor. After our Society people investigate in detail, naturally he can be admitted.” Cai Dezhong also said, “The twenty-fifth day of the seventh month at the Chou hour was the time when our Society was established. Our Society’s five ancestors were the five marshals who sacrificed themselves for the just cause in Jiangning. The first one was surnamed Gan given name Hui. I remember when our large army attacked Jiangning, I commanded a garrison of troops, I received Zongduozhu’s order to set an ambush outside the Jiangning western city gate, the Tatars army …” When talking about the attack on Jiangning prefecture in the past, he waved his hands continuously, the more he talked, the farther away he was from the topic at hand.

    Ma Chaoxing smiled and interrupted him, “Cai Xiangzhu, it won’t be too late if we tell the story of the attack on Jiangning prefecture slowly later.”

    Cai Dezhong laughed; slapping his own forehead he said, “Right, right. Once I started on the past events, I can’t stop until the story is finished. Let me read the ‘Three-point Revolutionary Poem’ now. I read a line, you follow by reading one line.” He started reading immediately, “Three-point hidden revolutionary model, those who enter our Hong Men must not disclose. Fostering an acute potential from the feuding days, swearing to exterminate the Qing Dynasty clean in a single sweep.” Wei Xiaobao repeated his reading.

    Cai Dezhong said, “The character ‘hong’ in our Hong Men actually came from our Han people’s ‘han’ character. Our Han people’s rivers and mountains being occupied by the Tatars, without land, the character ‘han’ ( 漢 ) minus the character ‘tu’ [earth] ( 土 ) becomes the character ‘hong’ ( 洪 ).” Presently he explained the thirty-six pledges, ten prohibitions and ten punishments, and twenty one rules so that Wei Xiaobao could understand. Major rules include loyalty and brotherhood, filial piety, harmonious relationship with fellow countrymen, fellow members and brothers of the family, helping each other in trials and tribulations, et cetera. For leaking classified information, implicating the brethrens, surrendering to the authority, raping and pillaging, bullying the weak and alone, breaking his promise, embezzling public funds and other offenses, light punishment would be cutting the ear and flogging, heavy punishment would be dismemberment into eight pieces, beheading and dividing the body.

    Wei Xiaobao promised to strictly abide by all the rules, one by one, he vowed he would never dare to disobey, and this time he was wholehearted, making the oath without causing any mischief.

    Ma Chaoxing fetched a large bowl of wine, with a needle he pricked his left-hand’s middle finger and let his blood dripped into the bowl. Chen Jinnan and the others also pricked their fingers. Finally Wei Xiaobao did the same. Everyone drank a mouthful of blood wine, and the ceremony inducting Wei Xiaobao into the Society was over. Everybody shook his hand and embraced him, it was intimate and warm. Wei Xiaobao felt a warm sensation in his entire body, he felt that from this day onward, he would not be left alone anymore in this world.

    Chen Jinnan said, “Altogether our Society has ten Halls, five front houses five halls, rear five houses five halls. Five front houses Lotus Flower Hall, Great Obedience Hall, Latter Family Hall, Greatest Unity Hall, Magnificent Transformation Hall. Five rear houses Green Wood Hall, Scarlet Fire Hall, Western Gold Hall, Mysterious Water Hall, Yellow Earth Hall. The Xiangzhu of nine halls are assembled here. Only Green Wood Hall’s Yin Xiangzhu was killed the year before last, until now it has no Xiangzhu. Brothers of Green Wood Hall, you have repeatedly made an oath in front of Wan Yunlong Dage and Yin Xiangzhu’s memorial tablets that whoever killed Oboi and avenge Yin Xiangzhu, everybody will revere him as our Hall’s Xiangzhu. Is it true that there is indeed such matter?”

    “Absolutely,” everyone answered, “Indeed there is such matter.”

    Chen Jinnan’s penetrating gaze swept everybody’s face from left to right, he said slowly, “I heard that for the purpose of setting up the new Xiangzhu, the brothers of the Green Wood Hall once have had some disagreement. Although everybody took the big picture into consideration, heavily upholding benevolence and righteousness, and thus did not harm the brotherhood, but if this matter is not properly decided, within the Green Wood Hall there will always be an enormous private concern for me to worry. Green Wood Hall is an important Hall in our Tian Di Hui; it oversees all prefectures, provinces and counties in Jiangnan and Jiangbei. For the past few years it gradually expand its authority over Shandong and Hebei, and this time it has penetrated the city limit of Beijing. Whether Green Wood Hall’s Xiangzhu is an able person or not, it corresponds directly to the rise and fall of our Society, and bear enormous responsibility toward the success of failure of the great undertaking of overthrowing the Qing. In the event that the brethrens in the Hall are in disagreement and fail to work together for a common purpose, this great undertaking cannot be achieved.” After a short pause he continued by asking, “That treacherous bandit Oboi was killed by Wei Xiaobao, and Green Wood Hall brothers witness this with their own eyes, is this true?”

    Almost together Li Lishi and Guan Anji replied, “It is.” Li Lishi also said, “In front of Wan Yunlong Dage’s memorial tablet everybody has made an oath. Definitely we cannot say that it doesn’t count. If we made an oath like a fart, in the future, what other oath can we make in front of Wan Yunlong Dage’s memorial tablet, what other hope do we have? Although Wei Xiaobao Xiongdi is young, I, Li Lishi, am willing to support him as our Hall’s Xiangzhu.”

    Having Li Lishi stole the initiative, Guan Anji thought, “This child is Zongduozhu’s disciple, his status is definitely out of ordinary. Listening to how Zongduozhu said those words, it’s obvious that he wanted this young disciple to be our Hall’s Xiangzhu. Li Lao’er [Ol’ Li the second] and I are vying for the Xiangzhu position, neither one of us is willing submit to the other, we might as well ‘move apart on the beat’. He had already opened his mouth to curry favor with Zongduozhu, I can’t lose to him, since that will make me appear I am harboring a selfish desire.” Thereupon he said, “Li Dage is right, Wei Xiongdi’s sharp-wittedness surpasses others, under Zongduozhu’s instruction, someday he will be a young hero whose prestige will shake the Jianghu. Guan Anji is willing to support Wei Xiaobao Xiongdi as our Hall’s Xiangzhu.”

    Wei Xiaobao sprang up from fright, waving his hands wildly, he shouted, “Can’t do, can’t do! This … this Xiangzhu [fragrant master] or Chouzhu [stinky master], I can’t do it!”

    Chen Jinnan glowered at him, “What nonsense are you talking about?” he barked. Wei Xiaobao did not dare to open his mouth anymore.

    Chen Jinnan said, “This child’s blade has killed Oboi, and that is an unalterable fact. We must abide by the oath we made in front of Wan Yunlong Dage’s memorial tablet, and have no choice but must let him be the Green Wood Hall’s Xiangzhu. It was because I must let him be the Xiangzhu that I accepted him as my disciple, not the other way around. I didn’t think of making him the Xiangzhu after I accepted him as my disciple. This child’s character is not good, perhaps he will give me several hundred headache in the future.”

    Fang Dahong said, “Zongduozhu has taken a lot of trouble, we, brothers understand it. Zongduozhu is neither relative nor kin with Wei Xiongdi, today is the first time you meet each other. Zongduozhu is making an exception by looking upon him with special favor, naturally it is because you are giving thought of our Society’s important matter. Only … only … Zongduozhu does not need to worry. Our Society’s brethrens intermingled with Jianghu people, very few read books, which mouth does not use bad language and common saying? Wei Xiongdi is young, Li Dage and Guan Fuzi are willing to support him with all their might, I am sure there won’t be any catastrophic disaster.”

    Chen Jinnan nodded and said, “Therefore, we let Wei Xiaobao to be the Green Wood Hall Xiangzhu because we have sworn an oath in front of Wan Yunlong Dage’s memorial tablet, which we cannot simply dismiss. But as long as he has been the Xiangzhu for a day, we can consider it done. If tomorrow he commits outrages, disturbing Green Wood Hall’s affairs, hindering our Society’s great undertaking in fighting the Qing and restoring the Ming, we can immediately strip him from the Xiangzhu position without half a part of tolerance. Li Dage, Guan Erge, I am asking the two of you to attentively help him. If this child does anything improper, I want you to report to me in details, do not conceal anything.” Li Lishi and Guan Anji bowed and complied.

    Chen Jinnan turned around and kneeled before the memorial tablet; he picked three burning incense sticks from the censer and held it high with both hands. With a clear voice he said, “Subordinate Chen Jinnan swears before Wan Yunlong Dage’s memorial tablet: if subordinate Wei Xiaobao violates our Society’s rules, or displays insufficient obedience to the rules, subordinate will immediately depose him from Green Wood Hall Xiangzhu duty, without showing even half a part of favoritism. We grant him the Xiangzhu position in compliance with our oath. The day we depose him of his position, is also in compliance with this oath. If subordinate Chen Jinnan does not abide by this oath, the spirit of Wan Dage in heaven will strike the top of my head with thunder, my body will be pulled apart to five sections by horses, I will die under the Tatars’ eagle claws’ hands.” Finished saying that, he bowed several times with the incense sticks still in his hands, and then returning the sticks to the censer, he knocked his head on the floor several times.

    Everyone spoke together in praise, “The way Zongduozhu handles this matter is for the common good above everything without regard for personal interests, no one among us does not accept this wholeheartedly.”

    In his heart, Wei Xiaobao said, “Just great! I still say that the real reason all of you want me to be some Xiangzhu or Chouzhu is just so that you can use me as a wooden plank to cross the river. After crossing, you’ll tear the bridge apart. Today you grant me to be a Xiangzhu because you want to abide by your oath. Tomorrow you’ll pick a quarrel and depose me so that you’ll still abide by your oath. At that time whether it would be Li Dage or Guan Fuzi, either one will be a logical choice for the new Xiangzhu.” With a loud voice he said, “Shifu, I don’t want to be the Xiangzhu!”

    Chen Jinnan was startled. “What?” he asked.

    “I can’t do it, and I don’t want to do it,” Wei Xiaobao said.

    “You can’t do it, but you can learn it slowly,” Chen Jinnan said, “I can teach you, Li and Guan two brothers have already promised to help you. Within Tian Di Hui, Xiangzhu position ranks very high, why don’t you want to do it?”

    Wei Xiaobao shook his head, “Today I become one, tomorrow you will depose me, then I will be humiliated instead. I don’t want to be Xiangzhu, everything is very obscure. Once I take the office, everybody will look for bones in the egg; in less than half a day, I will fall from power and be extremely disgraced.”

    Chen Jinnan said, “There is no bone in the egg, even everybody is looking for it, they won’t find any.”

    “The egg will become a chick,” Wei Xiaobao said, “So there is bone in it. Even if there is none, when the people look, they would break my eggshell first, talk later, mixing the egg yolk and the egg white, then the egg will collapse.” Everybody could not help but laugh.

    Chen Jinnan said, “Do you think the way we Tian Di Hui handle matters is a child’s play? As long as you do not do any evil deed, everybody will respect you as the Green Wood Hall’s Xiangzhu, who will offend you? Even if they don’t revere you, they will still respect you as my disciple.”

    Wei Xiaobao thought for a while, then he said, “Alright, let us talk it over clearly first. If in the future you don’t want me to be the Xiangzhu, so be it: I won’t be the Xiangzhu. But you must not randomly add accusation, beat me or curse me, or cut my ears or chop my head, or cut me apart into eight sections.”

    Chen Jinnan frowned. “You always love to bargain back and forth,” he said, “If you don’t do any misdeed, who will kill you? If the Tatars beat you or kill you, everybody will avenge you.” Pausing for a moment, he continued earnestly, “Xiaobao, real men dare to do what they dare to say, real men won’t pass on their responsibility to others. Since you already join our Tian Di Hui, you must summon up your courage and determination to strive to be the first, to rid common people of all evil. If you are always scheming for your own good, won’t it be a bad act of a hero or a warrior?”

    When Wei Xiaobao heard the words ‘hero and warrior’, he remembered how the storyteller always mentioned those great heroes; the heroic spirit was awakened in his breast. He said, “That’s right, Shifu’s lesson is very true. If my head is chopped, at most it will give me a bowl size scar. Eighteen years later, a hero will appear.” This was the words the Jianghu men often said when they were being tied up on the execution ground. Although the way Wei Xiaobao used it was not very appropriate, he won the applause of everybody in the hall.

    Chen Jinnan smiled and said, “Being a Xiangzhu is a very happy occasion, unlike being tied up on the execution ground ready to be beheaded. There are nine other Xiangzhu in here, every one of them is doing it happily. You should learn to copy their manner.”

    Guan Anji walked over toward Wei Xiaobao; he cupped his fist and bowed, “Subordinate Guan Anji pays his respect to our Hall’s Xiangzhu,” he said.

    Wei Xiaobao turned his head to Chen Jinnan. “What do I do?” he asked.

    “Just return the propriety,” Chen Jinnan replied.

    Wei Xiaobao cupped his fist to return the propriety. “Guan Fuzi, how are you?” he said.

    Chen Jinnan smiled and said, “’Guan Fuzi’ is the nickname with which the brothers usually call him. In day-to-day business, you may call him ‘Guan Fuzi’, but in formal setting, you should call him Guan Erge.”

    Wei Xiaobao corrected himself, “Guan Erge, how are you?”

    This time Guan Anji stole the initiative from Li Lishi. Immediately he also stepped forward to pay his respect. One by one the nine other Xiangzhu stepped forward to congratulate Wei Xiaobao. Then everybody returned to the main hall, leaving Zongduozhu and the ten Halls’ Xiangzhu to discuss official business.

    Green Wood Hall was the chief among the five rear houses’ Halls. Within the Tian Di Hui organization, it ranked number six. Wei Xiaobao was seated on the first chair on the right row. Scarlet Fire Hall and other Halls’ Xiangzhu, some had white beard hanging down to their chests, were unexpectedly seated in lower-ranked seats. Li Lishi, Guan Anji, and the others retreated outside the hall, so there were only eleven men left: Chen Jinnan and the ten Xiangzhu, the first echelon of the Tian Di Hui organization.


    [1] Fifty-first year of the 60-year cycle in Chinese calendar. Jiayin corresponds to the Wood Tiger year, the next Jiayin is 2034. I did a quick calculation, but the result did not make any sense to me: 2034 - 360 = 1674. According to wikipedia, Kangxi was born 1654, i.e. he was 20 years old in 1674. This story happened (supposedly) when Kangxi was 14, 15 years old. Wikipedia also lists Oboi's death in the year 1670 (Kangxi was actually 16 years old). That means the date was in the future? If we take the previous sixty years, i.e. 1614, Koxinga was not even born yet.

    [2] ‘Men’ here means family, house, (religious) sect, school (of thought), organization, etc.

    [3] First Ming Emperor, Zhu Yuanzhang (1328-1398, reigned 1386-1398).
    Last edited by foxs; 04-14-13 at 11:14 PM.

  18. #58
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    Default Chapter 8 - Part 5

    Chen Jinnan pointed to the empty chair in the middle and said, “This is the Third Prince Zhu’s seat.” Pointing to the other empty chair next to it he said, “This is the Taiwan’s Zheng Wangye’s seat. Zheng Wangye is Koxinga’s son, nowadays he inherited the title Yanping Junwang[1]. When we, Tian Di Hui are having our meetings, although Third Prince Zhu and Zheng Wangye are not present, we always provide empty seats for them.” This explanation was obviously for Wei Xiaobao’s benefit. He then continued by saying, “Brothers, please report the situation in various provinces.”

    Within the five front houses, the head house Lotus Flower Hall was in charge of Fujian, the second house Great Obedience Hall was in charge of Guangdong, the third house Latter Family Hall was in charge of Guangxi, the fourth house Greatest Unity Hall was in charge of Hunan and Hubei, the fifth house Magnificent Transformation Hall was in charge of Zhejiang. Within the five rear houses, the head house Green Wood Hall was in charge of Jiangsu, the second house Scarlet Fire Hall was in charge of Guizhou, the third house Western Gold Hall was in charge of Sichuan, the fourth house Mysterious Water was in charge of Yunnan, the fifth house Yellow Earth was in charge of Henan.

    The Tian Di Hui was comprised of Koxinga’s former subordinates, their main force was in Fujian, which was the reason the Lotus Flower Hall was the head house; its power was the strongest. Next would be the two provinces Guangdong and Guangxi, followed by the two ‘lakes’ Hunan and Hubei[2], and then Zhejiang, Jiangsu.

    Presently Cai Dezhong was the first to report the Tian Di Hui’s affair in Fujian, followed by Fang Dahong recounting the Guangdong’s Society’s affair. Wei Xiaobao listened for a while. First, he did not understand, second, he did not have the least bit of interest. At last he was simply hearing without really listening, in his heart he was thinking about gambling and having fun.

    When it was the Green Wood Hall Xiangzhu’s turn to give report, Chen Jinnan said, “Originally Green Wood Hall was in charge of Jiangnan, Jiangning, and Suzhou, dealing with the Tatars in those regions. Afterwards Yin Xiongdi moved the fragrant hall to Jiangbei Xuzhou, progressively entered Shandong, Zhili, straight toward Tatars' capital. Only, it's a pity Yin Xiongdi lost his life in Oboi's hands. The strength of Green Wood Hall is greatly harmed." He paused for a moment, and then continued, "A few days ago several brothers courageously broke into Prince Kang's mansion, where by lucky coincidence Xiaobao's blade killed Oboi and thus avenged Yin Xiongdi's great enmity. This major attack by the Green Wood Hall may cause fear and trepidation in the Tatars' hearts. It's just that from now on naturally the Tatars will intensify their guard. Hereafter when we work, we must be doubly careful." Everybody voiced their agreement together.

    After this, one after another the Xiangzhu of Scarlet Fire Hall and Western Gold Hall gave an account of the situation around Guizhou and Sichuan, two provinces. Listening to this, Wei Xiaobao could not refrain from yawning, so hastily he reached up to cover his mouth. When the Mysterious Water Hall's Xiangzhu, Lin Yongchao, bringing up the situation in Yunnan, his expression was aroused in indignation; he was cursing continually. It was only then that Wei Xiaobao's spirit was also aroused.

    He heard him say, "That traitor Wu Sangui opposes us on every front. From last year all the way to this year, not even ten month yet, there are seventy nine brothers of the Society being killed by that b@stard. Damn that goat, laozi definitely cannot live under the same sky with that dog traitor. Our people have attempted to assassinate him several times, but this traitor to the Han has many able people by his side. Consecutively we tried three times, all have failed ..." He pointed his finger to his left arm, which was hanging on his shoulder, and said, "During the attempt last month, his granny, laozi broke my arm. This great traitor has done too many evil deeds. There will come a day when his entire family will be beheaded and chopped into mincemeat by our Tian Di Hui." As soon as the name 'Wu Sangui' was mentioned, everybody had his breast filled with indignation.

    In Yangzhou, Wei Xiaobao had already heard people mentioning how Wu Sangui helped the Qing troops crossing the pass and seizing the Han people's land. The Tatars troops raped, killed and burned in Yangzhou, the main culprit, the main cause of the disaster, was Wu Sangui. After helping the Qing Dynasty conquering China, he was granted the title Ping Xi Wang [King who pacify the West], with the right to guard Yunnan forever. Wei Xiaobao noticed that whenever people mentioning the name Wu Sangui, three characters, nobody did not clench his teeth and show hatred so deep into their bones. Therefore, when this Lin Xiangzhu open his mouth in swearing and cursing, Wei Xiaobao did not think it was strange.

    As soon as Lin Yongchao started to curse, the other eight Xiangzhu also open their mouth in curses. These men were originally soldiers who for the last several years had mingled with Jianghu people, so they were accustomed to vulgar language. However, in front of Zongduozhu, with great effort they tried to restrain themselves. As soon as they started cursing, nobody tried to be polite. Wei Xiaobao was greatly delighted; as soon as he heard some cussing, he was like a fish enters the water; he could not stop his own mouth from hurling obscenities. Speaking about cussing, Wei Xiaobao's finesse were several degree above these nine Xiangzhu; a sentence by a sentence he beat around the bush, each sentence was malicious and mean, the nine Xiangzhu were only shouting curses in their anger, so that compared to Wei Xiaobao their deficiency was obvious.

    Chen Jinnan waved his hand and said, "Enough, enough! Even if there are millions more people in the world cursing Wu Sangui, that scoundrel is still nicely holding his Ping Xi Wang position. Cursing will not kill him, assassination won't be effective either."

    Great Transformation Hall's Xiangzhu, Li Shikai was short and slim, he was soft-spoken and neither did he curse too much. This time he spoke, "In subordinate's opinion, even if we launched a large-scale attack against Yunnan and killed Wu Sangui, it won't give us any big advantage over the general situation. The imperial court would simply appoint another governor-general or inspector-general, the common people in Yunnan will not experience a change of fate. This traitor Wu Sangui has committed grave sin, if we kill him with one stab of a blade, it is rather too easy for him."

    Chen Jinnan nodded. "These words make a lot of sense," he said, "I wonder what kind of wise opinion does Li Xiongdi have?"

    "This is a matter of great importance," Li Shikai replied, "All of us must take our time in making a decision. Subordinate does not have any good idea, I will submit to Zongduozhu's direction."

    "'This is a matter of great importance, all of us must take our time in making a decision.'" Chen Jinnan repeated, "These words by Li Xiongdi is a wise opinion. There is a good common saying: one man's planning is short, two men's planning is long. We are ten people, no, eleven people; if we think calmly, we will come up with an even better idea. By killing Wu Sangui, not only we will avenge Tian Di Hui brothers who were killed by him, we will also avenge millions of our compatriot Han people under the heavens. I have pondered over this matter for a long time. That traitor Wu Sangui is deep rooted in Yunnan, his power is enormous; based on one Society, Tian Di Hui's power alone, I am afraid we cannot topple him down."

    Lin Yongchao loudly said, “Even if we have to be cut in pieces, we must fight to topple him down.”

    Cai Dezhong said, “You have already fought, Wu Sangui has not been toppled down, but you had your arm broken.”

    Lin Yongchao angrily said, “Are you mocking me of my incompetence?”

    Cai Dezhong realized he had made an indiscreet remark. “I was only joking,” he said with a laugh, “Lin Xiongdi, please do not be angry.”

    Seeing Lin Yongchao was still seething with anger, with a gentle voice Chen Jinnan consoled him, “Lin Xiongdi, killing Wu Sangui is the important matter every hero and warrior in the world is dreaming of, how can we let worthy brother Lin and the Mysterious Water Hall bear this heavy burden alone? Even if Tian Di Hui’s several tens of thousands brothers join hands with one heart, we may not necessarily be able to move his hand.”

    Zongduozhu is right,” Lin Yongchao said, only then did his anger subside.

    Chen Jinnan said, “In my opinion, if we want to accomplish this important matter, we must make contact with all schools, sects, clans and societies in Jianghu, to plan together on a large scale. That traitor Wu Sangui have several tens of thousands elite troops in Yunnan; the brave soldiers and fierce generals under his banners are no small matter. If we only want to kill him, it might not be an extremely difficult matter, but to kill his entire household, to wipe away the traitors to the Han, the wicked thieves, big and small, his subordinates who help him committing the oppression[3], is entirely beyond our Tian Di Hui’s power to accomplish.”

    Lin Yongchao slapped his thigh and shouted, “Exactly, exactly! Our Tian Di Hui’s brothers who had been killed by Wu Sangui are too many, if we only kill that traitor, how can his life make up for theirs?”

    Thinking about killing Wu Sangui, along with his household and the evil traitors working for him, everybody was very excited. But not too long afterwards, they all looked at each other in blank dismay, while in their hearts they thought, “This is indeed very difficult.”

    Cai Dezhong said, “Shaolin and Wudang two sects have many men and great force, they also have high level of martial art skill, we must make contact with them.”

    The Yellow Earth Xiangzhu Yao Bida said doubtfully, “The Shaolin Temple Abbot, Hui Cong Dashi[4] indeed has an extremely high prestige in the Wulin world, but he has always been experienced and knowledgeable, he won’t agree to oppose the authority. These last several years, he even passed a new rule, so that it won’t be easy even for secular disciples to leave the Temple and go down the mountain, for fear that they would stir up trouble and bring disaster to the Temple. If we want to make contact with Shaolin, I am afraid we will be met with many difficulties.”

    The Greatest Unity Hall’s Xiangzhu, who was in charge of the Hunan and Hubei territory, Hu Dedi nodded and said, “Wudang Pai is more or less the same. The Abbot of Zhenwu Guan[5], Taoist Yun Yan and his Shixiong Taoist Yun He have been at odds with each other for a long time, the two of them are completely locked in constant strife, they always try to find flaws in each other’s disciples. Asking them to take a risk like killing Wu Sangui, I am afraid … I am afraid …” He did not continue, but it was clear to everybody that most probably Yun Yan and Yun He would not be willing to do.

    Lin Yongchao said, “If we cannot reach Shaolin and Wudang, we have no other choice but to deal with it with our own strength.”

    “No need to be impatient,” Chen Jinnan said, “Shaolin and Wudang are not the only schools in Wulin.”

    One by one they offered their suggestions. Some said that perhaps Emei would be willing to join, some other said that since there were many martial experts from the Beggar Clan joined the Tian Di Hui, certainly they would be willing to collaborate with Tian Di Hui in putting this big traitor to China to death.

    After listening for the discussion for quite some time, Chen Jinnan said, "If not ninety percent sure, we must never ever propose this matter to others."

    "Naturally," Fang Dahong replied, "If people are unwilling to do it, it doesn't count to have their nose rubbed in the dirt, plus it will damage our Tian Di Hui's face."

    "Losing face is not important," Chen Jinnan said, "But if the information leaks out, that thief Wu Sangui will be more vigilant, our job will be a lot thornier."

    Li Shikai said, "To maintain the steadiness of our purpose, whoever wants to propose to any school, sect, clan or society must have Zongduozhu's approval first, other people must not casually make any decision."

    "It ought to be so," the people all replied. They continued their discussion for some time.

    Chen Jinnan said, "This time we are not able to draft a definite plan. In three months, everybody will gather again in Changsha, Hunan. Xiaobao, you must return to the Palace. In Green Wood Hall's affairs, let Li Lishi and Guan Anji act on your behalf for the time being. You don't have to attend the meeting in Changsha."

    "Yes," Wei Xiaobao replied, but in his heart he said, "Doesn't this clearly show 'tear down the bridge after crossing the river'?"

    After all other Xiangzhu had been dismissed, Chen Jinnan pulled Wei Xiaobao's hand back to the side room. He said, "On Heavenly Bridge [Tianqiao] in Beijing there is an old man selling medicinal paste[6] by the surname of Xu. On the other medicinal plaster sellers' banners, the plaster is black in color, but on this Old Xu's banner, the plaster is half red half blue. If you want to contact me, just go to the Heavenly Bridge and find Old Xu. Ask him, 'Do you have plaster for virulent clear poison, a plaster that will restore clarity to blind eyes, a plaster against clear poison to restore clarity[7]?' He would reply, 'I do, but the price is too expensive, I want three taels of gold and three taels of silver.' You say, 'Will you sell it for five taels of gold and five taels of silver?' Then he will know who you are."

    Wei Xiaobao was greatly amused, he laughed and said, "Others offer to sell it to you for three taels, but you make a counter-offer of five taels; where in the world have you ever heard of such matter?"

    Chen Jinnan smiled and replied, "This is to guard against an accident in case someone really want to buy 'plaster against clear poison to restore clarity'. As soon as he hears your counter offer of five taels of gold and five taels of silver, he would ask, 'Why is the price so expensive?' You reply, 'Not expensive, not expensive; as long as it can really restore clarity, even if I have to work like an ox or a horse for you, it is not expensive at all.' He would then say, 'The earth shakes high mound, a mountain creek is elegant for all eternity.' You say, 'The gate faces the ocean, the three rivers and the water will flow for ten thousand years.' He would ask, "Which hall is located by the red flower pavilion?' You reply, 'The Green Wood Hall.' He would ask, 'How many fragrant incense sticks are burning in the hall?' You say, 'Five fragrant incense sticks!' Five burning fragrant incense sticks indicate that you are the Xiangzhu. He is a brother of our Society's Green Wood Hall, he is your subordinate. Whatever you want, you can tell him to do it for you."

    Wei Xiaobao committed everything into his heart. Chen Jinnan repeated the dialog two more times, and told Wei Xiaobao to practice one time through until not a single word was wrong. Chen Jinnan also said, "Although this Old Xu is your subordinate, his martial art skill is very profound. You must not be rude toward him." Wei Xiaobao gave him his promise.

    "Xiaobao," Chen Jinnan said, "We created havoc in Prince Kang's mansion, the Tatars will definitely send spies riding toward four directions; we can't stay long in here. When you are back at the Palace today, tell the people there that you were being captured by a powerful group of people, during the night, you use trick to kill a powerful man guarding you, and you escape and return to the Palace. If someone wants you to lead the troops to make some arrests, you may lead the troops here. We will bury that traitor Oboi's severed head in the vegetable garden at the back. Take the troops there and have them dig; nobody will suspect anything."

    "Apparently everybody will have left by then, haven't they?" Wei Xiaobao asked.

    Chen Jinnan said, "As soon as you leave, everybody will disperse, you don't have to worry. Three days later, I am coming to Beijing to teach you martial art. Go to the Fresh Water Well Alley in the Dongcheng district of central Beijing. There will be a brother waiting for you at the mouth of the alley, he will take you to see me."

    "Yes," Wei Xiaobao replied.

    Chen Jinnan gently stroked Wei Xiaobao's head, "You may go now!" he gently said.

    Wei Xiaobao immediately went in to see Mao Shiba to take his leave. Mao Shiba did not know that he had joined the Tian Di Hui and had become a Xiangzhu, he asked Wei Xiaobao all kinds of question, showing his utmost concerned. Wei Xiaobao did not expose anything. By this time the dagger and his other personal belongings had been returned. Chen Jinnan asked someone to prepare a horse for Wei Xiaobao to ride, and then he personally walked him out of the gate. Li Lishi, Guan Anji, Priest Xuanzhen and other Green Wood Hall brothers sent him off for three li. Wei Xiaobao asked for direction until he understood clearly, then urging his horse, he galloped toward Beijing. By the time he entered the Palace, it was already evening; he went straight to kowtow to the Emperor.

    Kangxi already heard the news that in the prison cell at Prince Kang's mansion, Oboi was killed by Wei Xiaobao; he assumed that Wei Xiaobao must have been captured by Oboi's cronies, so most probably he was more unfortunate than being fortunate. As the matter developed, the Qing court immediately made arrest everywhere, seizing the remnants of Oboi's defeated clique to be interrogated via torture. They had apprehended not a few of people, but could not find any clue.

    Kangxi was greatly frustrated and anxious; suddenly hearing Wei Xiaobao had returned, he was pleasantly surprised. Hurriedly he granted an audience, and as soon as he saw him entering the study room, he hastily asked, "Xiao Guizi, you ... how did you escape?"

    Along the way, Wei Xiaobao had already prepared a major deception, for the part where he was seized by a powerful man and how he was transported away inside a jujube barrel he did not need to lie. Next, he narrated how the clique of traitors, many of them, set up a memorial tablet and prepared to offer sacrifices. But because they were waiting for the arrival of a leading figure, temporarily they did not kill him, but bound him inside a dark room instead. And then how in the middle of the night he rubbed and broke the ropes binding his hands, and how he killed the guard and escaped out; how he hid in the underbrush to evade the pursuing riders, how he stole a horse and returned via a roundabout route. He narrated the story by adding sound effect and acting the part, it was extremely vivid.

    Kangxi was listening with keen interest, he repeatedly patted Wei Xiaobao’s shoulder and praised, “Xiao Guizi, you are good.” He also said, “You must be going through a lot of trouble.”

    "Your Majesty," Wei Xiaobao said, "This clique of traitors, Oboi's followers, its power is really not small. When your servant escaped, I memorized the route well; how about if we immediately send troops to capture them?"

    "Wonderful!" Kangxi replied happily, "Quickly tell Songgotu to take three thousand cavalry and follow you to catch the criminals." Wei Xiaobao withdrew and ordered someone to notify Songgotu.

    When Songgotu heard that Xiao Guizi was kidnapped by Oboi's subordinates, he thought that he had lost a major helper in the Palace, and thus he was anxious. Although he managed to embezzle four hundred fifty thousand taels of silver, when all is said and done, this lost was even greater than the gain. When he suddenly heard that Xiao Guizi had escaped and returned to the Palace, immediately his spirit rose. Hastily assembling the troops, he followed Wei Xiaobao to arrest the remainders of Oboi's party.

    They were about halfway when Prince Kang's messenger caught up with them to deliver Wei Xiaobao's Jade Flower buckskin horse. Wei Xiaobao mounted the colt. He glanced left and right, feeling unusually pleased with himself.

    Upon reaching Tian Di Hui's gathering place, naturally they did not see any shadow. Songgotu ordered his men to search around. Soon they dug out Oboi's severed head and headless body in the vegetable garden; they also found a memorial tablet with these words inscribed on it: 'Memorial Tablet of the Great Qing Junior Protector, Number One Warrior, Official Oboi', and several rolls of elegiac couplet offering condolences to Oboi. Naturally it was Chen Jinnan who deliberately left these things behind.

    Wei Xiaobao and Songgotu returned to Beijing, and presented the memorial tablet and elegiac couplets to Kangxi. Wei Xiaobao's expression looked like he had just set up a great merit. Kangxi made an effort to say several sentences of praise and encouragement, then he gave an order to have Oboi's body and head buried properly. He also ordered the two of them to continue the investigation carefully. Wei Xiaobao repeatedly complied with his mouth, his face showed devotion and diligence, but in his belly he was laughing.


    [1] Lit. ‘king over a country/region’.

    [2] FYI, ‘hunan’ and ‘hubei’ literally mean southern and northern lakes, respectively.

    [3] Orig. ‘helping tyrant Zhou in his opression’.

    [4] Lit. ‘great master’. I usually translate it as ‘Reverend’, but this time I want to keep it as ‘Chinese’ as possible.

    [5] I want to point out that although I use the same word ‘Abbot’, in Shaolin’s case it was ‘Fang zhang’, while in Wudang’s case it was ‘Guan Zhu’ [guan – Taoist Monastery, zhu – master, the same ‘zhu’ as in ‘xiangzhu’ and ‘zongduozhu’]. Zhenwu is a major Taoist deity, ‘Lord of profound heaven’, or Black Heavenly Emperor.

    [6] or 'plaster' [orig. Gaoyao], here in the US it is sold as 'hot/cold patch'.

    [7] This passage is hard to translate; to get the not-so-subtle meaning of the original Chinese, simply substitute the word 'clear' with 'Qing (dynasty)' and the word 'clarity' with 'Ming (dynasty)'.
    Last edited by foxs; 04-14-13 at 11:15 PM.

  19. #59
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 9 - Part 1

    Chapter 9 - Polishing and refining a rather slanted wall to its completion does not need the intensity that will break a qin into pieces.
    (Translated by Foxs)


    LuDingJi-09.jpg

    Feng Jizhong flew up and then from the air he struck down. Priest Xuanzhen leaned sideways to evade. Feng Jizhong swiftly moved in front of Xuanzhen's body; with his left leg he swept across to the right, with his right arm he swept across to the left. It was exactly the Mu Family’s ‘sweeping away a thousand army’.

  20. #60
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 9 - Part 2

    After three days, Wei Xiaobao reported to Kangxi that he wanted to go out to investigate the remnants of Oboi's defeated clique. Going alone, he headed toward the Fresh Water Well Alley on Dongcheng district of central Beijing. There was a wonton seller, with a pair of wonton pots on a carrying pole, stopping at about a dozen zhang away from the mouth of the alley. When the wonton seller saw Wei Xiaobao, he picked up the long bamboo wonton chopsticks and tapped it against the bamboo tube in which he stored his money. 'Tap, tap, tap', three times, paused, then 'tap, tap', twice, then 'tap, tap, tap', three times again. About several zhang away, there was a man with shoulder pole, selling blue radish. The man used the knife, with which he cut the radish, to tap his shoulder pole with the same rhythm.

    Wei Xiaobao guessed that this must be Tian Di Hui's method of transmitting news, so he followed a hawker selling candied fruits dipped in sugar syrup on bamboo skewers entering the alley. They arrived in front of a jet black main gate of a building. There were three men squatting at the door, whitewashing the wall using lime. Seeing Wei Xiaobao, one of them nodded, then tapped the wall several times using the lime brush, the black door immediately opened. Wei Xiaobao walked into a courtyard and entered the main hall, and saw Chen Jinnan had already sat in the hall; immediately he rushed forward and kowtowed.

    Chen Jinnan was very delighted, he said, "You are early; nothing's better than that. Originally I wanted to stay for several days to teach you martial art, but I received news yesterday that Fujian has an important matter that needs my immediate attention. This time I can only stay for a day."

    In his heart, Wei Xiaobao was happy, "Since you don't have time to teach me martial art, when in the future my training is not good, that will be your problem, you can't blame me." But his face showed disappointment.

    Chen Jinnan took a rather thin book from his bosom and said, "This is our school's basic instruction on internal energy cultivation. You must study hard every day." Opening the book, he showed every page had pictures of human figure training the internal energy, along with the mnemonic, which he taught to Wei Xiaobao. For the time being Wei Xiaobao was not able to comprehend completely, he merely memorized it carefully.

    Chen Jinnan spent more than four hours explaining the entire set of internal energy cultivation technique; he said, "Our school's martial art puts upright heart and good faith first. You, on the other hand, has a heart like a frisky monkey and a mind like a cantering horse, so you are incompatible with our school martial art, training will be doubly difficult for you; you must especially diligent if you want to succeed. Just remember this: if during training your mind is agitated, your head dizzy and your eyes blur, you must stop immediately. You must calm down first, put your distracting thoughts in order, then you practice from the beginning again, otherwise you'll face a significant danger."

    Wei Xiaobao gave his promise. He received the book and put it inside his pocket. Chen Jinnan asked in details the martial art Hai Tianfu taught him. After Wei Xiaobao demonstrating and explaining everything one by one, Chen Jinnan muttered to himself, "You are aware early on that these martial art skills are bogus, it will be completely useless against a real enemy. I just feel strange, why did Tatar Empress Dowager also teach bogus martial art skill to the Tatar young Emperor?"

    Wei Xiaobao said, "The old wh0re is not the young emperor’s biological mother, moreover … moreover the old wh0re is not a good person, she is a greatly evil person.” He thought that the implication of the old wh0re killing the young emperor’s mother and so on would be too great, so he could not tell his Shifu about it; besides, this matter had nothing to do with his Shifu.

    Chen Jinnan nodded. Then he inquired about Hai Tianfu’s character and behavior; he felt that this old eunuch’s conduct and deeds were enshrouded in secrecy. Wei Xiaobao talked for a while, suddenly ‘Wah!’ he broke into a bawl.

    “Xiaobao,” Chen Jinnan gently asked, “What is it?”

    Sobbing and sniffling, Wei Xiaobao told him about how Hai Tianfu secretly put poison in the soup. Finally he sobbed and said, “Shifu, the poison is incurable. After I am dead, the Green Wood Hall brothers won’t be able to use the old way again.”

    “What old way?” Chen Jinnan asked.

    Wei Xiaobao said, “Oboi killed Yin Xiangzhu, and I killed Oboi, so everybody wanted me to be the Green Wood Hall’s Xiangzhu. The old turtle Hai killed Wei Xiangzhu, the old wh0re killed the old turtle Hai, but everybody cannot ask the old wh0re to be the Green Wood Hall’s Xiangzhu.”

    Chen Jinnan burst out laughing; attentively he checked Wei Xiaobao’s pulse and asked detailed questions about the pain on his lower abdomen. He reached out toward Wei Xiaobao’s lower abdomen and using his finger he pressed, sometime lightly, another time heavily, on the acupoints all around his lower abdomen. After muttering irresolutely to himself for half a day, he said, “Don’t be afraid! Maybe Hai Tianfu’s poison does not have any antidote in the world, but I can force the poison out using my internal energy.”

    Wei Xiaobao was delighted, he repeatedly said, “Thank you very much Shifu!”

    Chen Jinnan took him inside and had him lying on the bed. With his left hand he pressed the Shan Zhong acupoint on the pit of Wei Xiaobao’s stomach, with his right hand he pressed the Da Zhui[1] acupoint on his back. After a while, Wei Xiaobao felt two streams of heat slowly flowed downward and around his stomach; his body felt an unspeakable comfort, he became drowsy and fell asleep. In his blurry state, he suddenly felt an unspeakable pain in his tummy. “Aiyo!” he cried out, and woke up. “Shifu!” he shouted, “I … I want to poop!”

    Chen Jinnan led him out to the door of the latrine. Wei Xiaobao had just untied his pants when the excrement spurted straight out, the stench was really unbearable, followed by a lot of vomiting from his mouth.

    Wei Xiaobao returned to his bedroom, his limbs felt weak and painful, he was barely able to stand up. Chen Jinnan smiled and said, “Good! Eighty, ninety percent of the poison in your system is out, the remaining is not dangerous anymore. Here I have twelve efficacious detoxifier pills; take it for twelve days, the remaining poison will be driven off completely from your body.” From his pocket he took out a small porcelain bottle and handed it over to Wei Xiaobao.

    Wei Xiaobao received it with deep gratitude in his heart. “Shifu,” he said, “Do you still have some more pills for yourself? You give all to me, if you get poisoned …”

    With a faint smile Chen Jinnan said, “If others think of poisoning me, it’s not going to be easy.”

    The sky darkened, it was evening. Chen Jinnan told the servant to serve dinner, which he ate with Wei Xiaobao. Seeing they were only having four ordinary dishes, Wei Xiaobao thought, “Shifu is a great hero, but the way he eats is so casual.” Since he knew the poison inside his body had been repelled, his heart was free from worry; he ate and served his Shifu with smile on his face, he looked genuinely happy.

    After dinner, Wei Xiaobao poured tea for his Shifu. Chen Jinnan took several sips, and then said, “Xiaobao, my wish for you is that you will be a good child. As soon as I have free time, I am coming back to Beijing to teach you martial art.”

    “Yes,” Wei Xiaobao replied.

    “Alright,” Chen Jinnan said, “You’d better return to the Palace now. The Tatars are very sly, although you are very smart, after all, you are very young; you must be very careful in everything.”

    “Shifu,” Wei Xiaobao said, “I feel very stifled living in the Palace, when can I go roaming the Jianghu with you?”

    Chen Jinnan stared at his face and said, “You must endure patiently for several more years, and set up several great merits for our Society. By that time … in several more years your voice will change, your facial hair will grow, then you can’t pretend to be an eunuch anymore. By that time you can get out of the Palace.”

    Wei Xiaobao thought, “Whether I do good deeds or bad deeds in the Palace, none of you will know. If you are thinking of deposing me of the Xiangzhu position, it’s not going to be easy. In the future I will be a grown up, my martial art will have been trained well, perhaps by then you won’t want to depose me.” Thinking hither, he was happy. “Yes, yes,” he said, “Shifu, I am leaving.”

    Chen Jinnan stood up; holding Wei Xiaobao’s hand he said, “Xiaobao, the Tatars have the situation under control, this great undertaking of fighting the Qing restoring the Ming is very difficult. In the Palace, you are in the face of danger at all times. You are such a young child, you haven’t learned any real ability, actually, I am quite worried over you. It’s just that since we already entered Tian Di Hui, ourselves do not belong to us anymore; as long as it is beneficial to our movement of fighting the Qing restoring the Ming, even if we fully aware there is a pit in front of us, we must still jump in. It’s a pity … it’s a pity that you cannot stay by my side often, so I can teach you well. I only hope that in the future you can spend more time with me. Right now our Society’s brethrens respect you because they are looking at my face, but I cannot look after you for the rest of your life. In the future, whether people will respect you, whether they will look up at you, it all depends on you.”

    “Yes,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “Losing my face is not important, but I must not disgrace Shifu.”

    Chen Jinnan shook his head, “You must never lose your face,” he said.

    “Yes, yes,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “I lose Xiao Guizi’s face is alright. Xiao Guizi is a Tatar eunuch, so if we lose Xiao Guizi’s face, we are losing a Tatar’s face; then we are fighting the Qing restoring the Ming.” Chen Jinnan heaved a deep sigh; in all honesty he did not know how he was going to teach Wei Xiaobao.

    Wei Xiaobao returned to the Palace and went back to his room. Songgotu had handed him several dozens of banknotes, altogether there were four hundred sixty six thousand five hundred taels. Wei Xiaobao looked carefully at these bank notes over and over, in his heart he was very happy. What happened was: in order to curry Wei Xiaobao’s favor, Songgotu had originally promised him four hundred fifty thousand taels; after Oboi’s property was sold, the price was actually higher than the initial estimate by more than ten thousand taels.

    Wei Xiaobao looked at the banknotes for quite a while before putting them away. And then fetching out the martial art manual Chen Jinnan gave him, he followed the secret passed on to him by sitting cross-legged and started to practice. When looking at the print of numbers in silver and vermillion ink on the banknotes, his expression was beaming and buoyant, but as soon as he looked at the martial art theory, instantly his interest waned, much less from among hundreds of characters written on the book, he did not recognize even a single one. After practicing for less than an hour he felt his mind blurry and his eyes tired; he dropped onto his bed and fell asleep immediately.

    When he woke up the next morning, he went straight to the Upper Study Room to wait on the Emperor. Upon returning to his room, he practiced again; but before long he unexpectedly fell asleep again. The martial art Chen Jinnan taught him was extremely not easy to learn; without an enormous willpower, it would be hard for him to pass the first obstacle. Wei Xiaobao was intelligent and astute, but he lacked the willpower to do anything. As soon as he sat and started to practice, he felt the difficulty was incomparable; he became drowsy and wanted to sleep.

    By the time he awoke, it was already in the middle of the night. He thought, “Shifu told me to practice, but his martial art is extremely tedious. But if I goof off and do not practice, next time I see Shifu and he ask me, he would find out I do not make the least bit of progress, and then he would be greatly dissatisfied. Perhaps he would even strip me of my Green Wood Hall Xiangzhu position.”

    He got up, picked up the book and looked again, then sat cross-legged and practiced according to the theory. Before long, his eyes grew very heavy again; he was unable to resist his desire to sleep. “They have planned to tear down the bridge after crossing the river anyway,” he thought, “It doesn’t matter if I am a great bridge of blue stone slab, or a rotten wood log bridge, they will still tear it apart. It doesn’t matter if I practice martial art or not.” Since he had found an excuse not to train, his heart was relieved; hence he dropped his head and fell asleep, snoring loudly.

    Since he did not have to practice martial art, he passed his days freely and leisurely. When the twelve pills were gone, the pain in his lower abdomen had also disappeared. During the day he would wait on Kangxi at the Upper Study Room for several hours, and whenever he was free, he would throw dice with Wen brothers and the others. Presently he was a rich and powerful person with wealth of several hundred thousand taels, hence he did not need to cheat in throwing dice; however, gambling against these ‘cattle’, he would feel an unspeakable discomfort if he did not cheat. Naturally Wen brothers, Ping Wei, Lao Wu, and the others owed him more and more money. Lucky for them that Wei Xiaobao had never demanded payment, plus Hai Tianfu was no longer alive, so that even though Wen brothers and the others were heavily in debt, they were not too worried.

    As for the business of the Catering Department, he had his subordinate eunuchs doing the work. Each month on the second and sixteenth days the eunuch manager would deliver four hundred taels to Wei Xiaobao’s room. At this time Songgotu had already distributed several tens of thousands taels on Wei Xiaobao’s behalf to the imperial concubines, eunuchs with authority, and the imperial bodyguards all over the Palace. Wei Xiaobao’s face, as well as the fact that he was Kangxi’s favorite, was already well-known. In the last several months, he had quite a reputation within the Palace, everybody who met him would smile and greet him.

    The autumn passed, the winter came, each day the weather was growing colder. This day Wei Xiaobao went down from the Upper Study Room, when he suddenly remembered, “Shifu says that if I have something, I should go to the Heavenly Bridge and contact the plaster seller, Old Xu. Although I don’t have anything in particular, there is no harm in exchanging those secret dialogue, those 'The earth shakes high mound, a mountain creek is elegant for all eternity, the gate faces the ocean, the three rivers and the water will flow for ten thousand years'; it would be fun. Hey, you want three taels of gold and three taels of silver for this plaster, that’s too expensive! Will you sell it for five taels of gold and five taels of silver? Ha ha, ha ha …!”

    He went out of the Palace gate and wandered around along the streets. Passing in front of a teahouse, he saw a storyteller was doing his presentation, so he strolled in and sat down to enjoy a pot of tea. The storyteller was narrating the ‘Heroic Deed Commentaries’, the part where Zhu Yuanzhang was having the great battle on Lake Poyang against Chen Youliang; how Zhou Dian carried Zhu Yuanzhang to another boat, how Chen Youliang’s battleship bombarded the ship Zhu Yuanzhang was originally riding and blew it up. Wei Xiaobao was very familiar with this story since he had heard it before, plus the storyteller’s rendition was not very good. Nevertheless, once he sat down, he was listening to the story for the most part of an hour. Strolling to the east and visiting the west, it was already dark, he did not get to visit the Heavenly Bridge that day.

    The second day and the third day he did not go out at all. Every night just before bed he would promise himself, that the next day he would see that Old Xu. However, he would spend the next day either gambling, listening to the storytellers, or just wandering around the street recklessly wasting his money. These days he simply lived his free and unrestrained, merry life in the Palace. Being a court eunuch was definitely a lot more agreeable to him than being a Tian Di Hui’s Xiangzhu or Chouzhu. He knew this thought was utterly lack of prospect, so he did not dare to indulge in this thought too often. Occasionally he would remember but he always consoled himself, “I do not have anything to report anyway, why should I see the Old Xu? If the secret leaks out, my losing my little life is unimportant, but Tian Di Hui’s great undertaking will be jeopardized.” And so more than a month was passed this way.

    This day Wei Xiaobao went to the teahouse to listen to the ‘Heroic Deed Commentaries’ again. The teahouse proprietor knew he was a court eunuch from the Palace, and he always left quite a lot of tips, so the proprietor always reserved the best seat for him, and served him the most fragrant tea. By this time Wei Xiaobao was already used to have people fawning on him; although the teahouse proprietor’s special treatment was not strange to him, the flattering and respectful words were still quite enjoyable to hear.

    The storyteller on the stage was narrating the story of the great general Xu Da went into war and completely routed the Tatars troops that they rush back to Mongolia. It was the national capital, there were quite a number of Manchus in the teahouse, naturally the storyteller did not dare to openly use the word ‘Tatars’, he only used the term Yuan troops and Yuan generals; yet he spoke with such a gusto that his spittle flew everywhere. Wei Xiaobao was listening with rapt attention. Suddenly someone said, “Excuse me!” and sat on the empty chair on Wei Xiaobao’s tea table. Wei Xiaobao frowned, he was somewhat impatient.

    The man said quietly, “Xiaoren have a very good medicinal plaster, which I want to sell to Gong-gong, would Gong-gong like to take a look?”

    Wei Xiaobao turned his head around and saw a medicinal plaster on the table, half blue, half red; his heart was stirred. “What kind of plaster is this?” he asked.


    [1] Lit. ‘mutton’ and ‘big spine’, respectively. If you want to know more about acupoints, I remember wuxiapedia has some explanations, written by Huang Yushi.

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