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Thread: The Deer and The Cauldron - Unabridged Thread

  1. #61
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 9 - Part 3

    The man replied, “This is medicinal plaster to get rid of virulent poison, to regain vision on both eyes.” Lowering his voice he said, “It has a name, it’s called ‘Drive Qing Restore Ming’ plaster.”

    Wei Xiaobao turned his attention to the man; he was around thirty years old, with thriving heroic spirit, not at all like the old man Xu his Shifu had described to him. He became suspicious, so he asked, “How much do you want for this medicinal plaster?”

    “Three taels of silver and three taels of gold,” the man replied.

    “Would you sell it for five taels of silver and five taels of gold?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

    “Isn’t that a bit too expensive?” the man replied.

    “Not expensive, not expensive,” Wei Xiaobao said, “As long as it can really get rid of clear poison and restore clarity, even if I have to work like an ox or a horse for you, it is not expensive at all.”

    The man pushed the medicinal plaster toward Wei Xiaobao and said in low voice, “Gong-gong, please step aside to talk.” Finished speaking, he stood up and walked out of the teahouse. Wei Xiaobao tossed two-hundred wen worth coins on the table, took the medicinal plaster, and walked out.

    The man was waiting outside the teahouse; he walked toward the east, turned into an alley, and stopped. “The earth shakes high mound, a mountain creek is elegant for all eternity,” he said.

    Wei Xiaobao said, “The gate faces the ocean, the three rivers and the water will flow for ten thousand years.” Without waiting for the man to reply, he asked him first, “Which hall by the red flower pavilion does Sire live?”

    The man replied, “Xiongdi is from the Green Wood Hall.”

    Wei Xiaobao asked, “How many fragrant incense sticks are burning in the hall?”

    The man replied, “Three fragrant incense sticks!”

    Wei Xiaobao nodded. He thought, “Your position is two levels below mine.”

    The man cupped his fist and bowed, he said in a low voice, “Gege [‘older brother’ – used in a more intimate way] is the one burning five incense sticks in the Green Wood Hall, Wei Xiangzhu?”

    “Exactly,” Wei Xiaobao replied; in his heart he said, “You are much older than I am, but you call me Gege; it’s really pleasant to hear, but why don’t you call me Yeye or Shushu [paternal grandfather and younger uncle, respectively]?”

    The man said, “Xiongdi is surnamed Gao, called Yanchao, I am Wei Xiangzhu’s subordinate. I have long heard about Xiangzhu’s illustrious name, today we can meet, it is indeed my great fortune.”

    Inwardly, Wei Xiaobao was very happy, he laughed and said, “Gao Dage is too kind. We all are brothers, there is no need to be polite.”

    Gao Yanchao said, “There is a Dage by the surname Xu in our Hall who sells medicine at the Heavenly Bridge. Today he was beaten and is seriously injured; I came with a specific purpose to inform Wei Xiangzhu.”

    Wei Xiaobao was shocked; he said, “I was busy in the Palace these days, I haven’t had time to go look for him. How is his injury? Who beat him?”

    “This is not a convenient place for a detailed report,” Gao Yanchao said, “Would Wei Xiangzhu please come with me?” Wei Xiaobao nodded.

    Passing through seven, eight streets, they reached an alley, where Gao Yanchao entered a drug store. Wei Xiaobao noticed the board above the door had five characters on it, but naturally he did not recognize even a single one, yet he did not need to examine the board carefully, presumably it was the name of the drug store; he simply followed Gao Yanchao into the store.

    Behind the counter sat a fat shopkeeper. Gao Yanchao went up to him and whispered something into his ear. The fat storekeeper repeatedly replied, “Yes, yes!” Standing up, he nodded to Wei Xiaobao and said, “Honorable guest wants to buy superior quality drug ingredients, please come in!” He directed Wei Xiaobao and Gao Yanchao toward the inner hall, passed through several doors, then leaned over to lift open a trap door on the floor, revealing a hole with stone steps leading down.

    Wei Xiaobao saw the hole was pitch-black, his heart was full of suspicions, “Are these two really Tian Di Hui brothers? I am afraid they are a bit unreliable. If downstairs is a room to slaughter Wei Xiaobao, won’t it be terrible?” But Gao Yanchao was right behind him, he simply could not shrink back, so without any choice he had to follow the shopkeeper walked into the tunnel. Fortunately the tunnel was quite short; after walking only a dozen or so steps, the shopkeeper pushed open a plank door, from which came a lantern light.

    Wei Xiaobao walked in. It was a small room about ten chi square, there were five men sitting in that room, plus a man lying on a low couch. With the addition of the three of them, there was barely enough room to turn around. Fortunately the shopkeeper withdrew immediately.

    Gao Yanchao said, “Brothers, Wei Xiangzhu has arrived!”

    The five men inside the room cheered together; they stood up and bowed to salute. The underground room was too small, they all crowded together. Wei Xiaobao cupped his fist to return the salute. He saw there was a Taoist priest among these people, whom he had met before, it was Priest Xuanzhen. Wei Xiaobao remembered that the priest had cracked a joke, telling Guan Anji to divorce his wife, the '100% real gold'. There was another man surnamed Fan, whom he also had met. Seeing these two familiar faces, Wei Xiaobao was relieved.

    Gao Yanchao pointed to the man lying on the low couch and said, “Xu Dage is seriously injured, he is unable to get up to pay his respect.”

    “You are too kind, you are too kind!” Wei Xiaobao said. He stepped forward to look at the man lying on the couch and saw that on his wrinkled face there was not the least bit trace of blood, his eyes were shut tight, his breathing was weak, and there were spots of blood on his white long beard. "I wonder who has injured Xu Dage?" he asked, "Is it ... is it the Tatars' eagle claws?"

    Gao Yanchao shook his head, "It's not," he said, "It was people from Mu Palace of Yunnan."

    Wei Xiaobao was startled, "Mu Palace of Yunnan?" he asked, "They ... they are on our side, aren't they?"

    Gao Yanchao slowly shook his head and said, "Reporting to Xiangzhu Dage: Just now when Xu Dage was brought here into the Return Of Spring Drug Store, he spoke haltingly that two young men from the Mu Palace, both of them have the surname of Bai ..."

    "Surname Bai?" Wei Xiaobao said, "Aren't they the descendant of four great generals of the Mu Palace?"

    "Most likely," Gao Yanchao replied, "Probably they are Bai Hansong and Bai Hanfeng brothers, the so-called 'Twin Tree[1] of the Bai Clan'."

    "A pair of rotten woods," Wei Xiaobao muttered to himself, "What's so special about that?"

    Gao Yanchao said, "From what Xu Dage was saying, they had a dispute over supporting Tang or supporting Gui, the more they talked, the more heated the argument, finally a fight broke. It was hard for Xu Dage's pair of fists to match four hands, hence he suffered a serious injury."

    "Two against one, it was not the conduct of a hero or a warrior," Wei Xiaobao said, "What do you mean by Tang and Gui? Could it be ... could it be ..." He thought that 'supporting Gui' might mean they were supporting him, Xiao Guizi, but then he thought it was unlikely, so he did not say anything.

    Gao Yanchao said, "The Mu Palace are King Gui's followers, we Tian Di Hui are the subordinates of the King Tang, the Son of Heaven of the past. Xu Dage must have been arguing with them over the successor of the throne to such an extent as the argument turned into a fight."

    Wei Xiaobao still did not understand, "What King Gui's followers, King Tang's subordinates?"

    Gao Yanchao said, "King Gui is not the rightful emperor ordained by heaven, our King Tang is the true heir of the Son of Heaven."

    Priest Xuanzhen understood Wei Xiaobao's background; he knew the amount of information in Wei Xiaobao's belly was limited, so he chimed in, "Wei Xiangzhu, when Li Zicheng broke into Beijing, he hounded Emperor Chongzhen to his death. Wu Sangui was leading the Qing troops to enter the pass and occupy our beautiful rivers and mountains. One after another loyal ministers and patriots across the country endorsed the descendant of Taizu Huangdi as the King. First it was King Fu who became the Emperor in Nanjing. Afterwards King Fu was harmed by the Tatars, our King Tang became the Emperor in Fujian; he was the one to whom Koxinga, the Zheng family, gave their allegiance to, naturally he was the true heir of the Son of Heaven. Who would have thought that another group of people in Guangxi and Yunnan was endorsing King Gui as the Son of Heaven, and yet another group of people in Zhejiang was endorsing King Lu to be the Emperor. All of them were phony sons of heaven."

    Wei Xiaobao nodded and said, "The sky cannot have two suns, the people cannot have two masters. If King Tang has become the Emperor, King Gui and King Lu cannot be the Emperor."

    "That's right," Gao Yanchao said, "What Wei Xiangzhu said is very true!"

    Priest Xuanzhen said, "But the people of Guangxi and Zhejiang are seeking after riches and honor, in their strive they say that whoever gets their support is the true heir of the rightful emperor, so everybody has been fighting violently." He sighed, and then continued, "Later on, King Tang, King Lu and King Gui met disaster one after another. Over the last several years, Jianghu heroes do not forget the Ming household, separately they try to find the descendants of these three kings, and regarded them as their masters, while continuing the great undertaking of fighting the Qing restoring the Ming. King Gui's followers supported King Gui's descendants, King Lu's followers supported King Lu's descendants; they are called the Gui faction and the Lu faction; to them, we, Tian Di Hui are known as the Tang faction. All three factions, Tang, Gui, and Lu are fighting the Qing to restore the Ming. But only our Tian Di Hui is legitimate, those Gui and Lu factions are simply usurping the throne."

    Wei Xiaobao nodded. "I understand," he said, "Those people from Mu Palace belong to the Gui faction, right?"

    "Exactly," Priest Xuanzhen said, "For the least dozen of years, the people from these three factions are continuously fighting each other."

    Wei Xiaobao recalled that day on the road north of Jiangsu they came across someone from Mu Palace, who was very arrogant and rude. That man's surname was also Bai, he wondered if he had any relation with these two rotten woods. At that time he saw how scared Mao Shiba was, so early on he already had dissatisfaction toward the Bai family. He said, "Since King Tang was already made the heir of the throne, they should not vie for it anymore. I heard Mu Gongye [‘master duke] was a very good man, I am afraid after the Senior returned to heaven, the people under his command were creating all these disturbance."

    Everybody in that underground room said together, "Wei Xiangzhu is absolutely right."

    Priest Xuanzhen said, "The warriors of Jianghu look at Mu Tianbo, Mu Gongye's display of utter loyalty to his death that whenever we come across people from the Mu Palace we are 30% yielding to them. Thus, even any cat and dog from Mu Palace are all arrogant and conceited. You won't find a better man than our Xu Dage, formerly he served under the rightful emperor King Tang; he is truly loyal and devoted, whenever the late emperor is mentioned, tears would flow from his eyes. It must be that the Mu Palace people were talking one thing or another and have insulted the late emperor. Otherwise, how could Xu Laoge fight those Mu Palace people?"

    Gao Yanchao said, "Just before noon Xu Dage came to his senses for a while, he wanted all the brothers to vent his anger. Presently, Wei Xiangzhu is the only Xiangzhu within the Zhili[2] borders; according to our Society's rules, in important matter such as this, we must report clearly to Wei Xiangzhu before taking any action. It's not a big deal if we were dealing with Tatars' eagle claws, the more we kill Tatars and eagle claws the better, our brothers would gladly sacrifice ourselves for our Society. But Mu Palace's reputation in Jianghu is so resounding, plus they are on our side. If we go to negotiate with them, we might end up waging a war with them. What will the consequences be, it is hard to say."

    "Mmm," Wei Xiaobao mumbled noncommittally.

    Gao Yanchao continued, "Xu Dage said that he has been waiting for Wei Xiangzhu's visit; he has been waiting for several months. Sometimes he saw Wei Xiangzhu on the street or in the market buying things, sometimes he saw you sitting in the teahouse listening to stories."

    Wei Xiaobao's face blushed slightly. "So he has seen me," he said.

    Gao Yanchao said, "Xu Dage said that according to Zongduozhu's order, if Wei Xiangzhu has anything he needed, he will go to look for him. Therefore, although Xu Dage has seen Wei Xiangzhu, he did not dare to come forward and introduce himself."

    Wei Xiaobao nodded, he cast a glance toward the old man lying on the couch and mused, "Turns out this old fox has been following me in secret. He had early on seen me buying things and eating indiscriminately on the street, spending money recklessly. Damn it, someday he will see my Shifu and will definitely tell tales. It would be best if this old fox won't recover from his injury and die!"

    "We talked about this, and had no choice but to ask Wei Xiangzhu's presence and preside over this matter," Priest Xuanzhen said.

    Wei Xiaobao thought, "I am but a child, what matter can I possibly preside over?" But seeing these people were so respectful toward him, in his heart he could not help but feeling very proud of himself. When he first joined Tian Di Hui, besides his Shifu, the other nine Xiangzhu were all much more senior than him. Presently, his position was the highest among these people, suddenly he felt his body was as light as a feather.

    A thick and solid middle-aged man indignantly said, "We are 30% yielding to the Mu Palace people, it is indeed out of deep respect toward Mu Gongye's loyalty and self-sacrifice for the country. Speaking about great undertaking of overthrowing the imperial court, perhaps our Koxinga was ten times better than Mu Wangye."

    The one surnamed Fan, Fan Gang said, "I respect you five chi, you should respect me one zhang. When we are polite to them, how can they be more arrogant instead? If we do not sort this matter clearly, later on when Mu Palace step on our Tian Di Hui's head, we won't be able to stand up, how can we lift our head high when dealing with them?"

    One said a word, the other said a sentence, everybody was very angry. Priest Xuanzhen said, "How to handle this matter, everybody must listen to Wei Xiangzhu's instruction." If he wanted Wei Xiaobao to imitate the dog and steal the chicken or swindle people, Wei Xiaobao would have come up with some ideas; but facing an important matter like this and his decision was expected, it would be the same as telling him to make a fool of himself on the spot. However, he was indeed a disciple of Chen Jinnan, one of the ten Xiangzhu of Tian Di Hui, within the whole region of Zhili, he was the leader of Tian Di Hui brethrens; that old man surnamed Xu and those other people were Green Wood Hall members, subordinates under his personal command. Immediately everybody’s eyes were on his face; he could not help but feeling embarrassed. “Hot piece mama,” he cursed in his heart, “What … what shall I do?”


    [1] The names Hansong and Hanfeng literally mean 'cold pine' and 'cold maple', respectively.

    [2] Old provincial territory during Ming and Qing dynasties, encompassing Beijing, Tianjin, most of Hebei, Henan, and part of Shandong.

  2. #62
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 9 - Part 4

    In his embarrassment, he looked at their faces one by one, trying to look for a clue, perhaps he would find an idea. When his gaze met with that of the sturdy man, suddenly he saw the corners of the man’s mouth showed a faint smile, while his eyes revealed a sly look. This man was raising a clamor just a moment ago, his breast was filled with fury, how could he suddenly be happy? Thinking hard, he suddenly remembered, “Aiyo! Hot piece mama, this bunch of sons of a b1tch does not have good intentions; they want me to carry the rotten wood on my shoulder. They want to fight the Mu Palace people, but are afraid my Shifu would blame them, so they asked me to come and take the initiative for them.” The more he thought, the more he was convinced that he was right. “I am only a teenage child,” he mused, “Although I am the Xiangzhu, how can my idea really surpass theirs? They only want to make me their shield to block the arrow; it’s alright if nothing bad happens, but if thing goes bad, they would push the blame on my head, saying, ‘It was the Green Wood Hall Wei Xiangzhu who leads everybody to do it; Xiangzhu’s order, we did not dare not to obey.’ Humph, they want to find bones in the egg to depose me of my Xiangzhu position. I lead everybody to fight Mu Palace people, regardless of who wins who loses, it is indeed a very big bone. Alright, hot piece mama, laozi will not fall into this trick.”

    He lowered his head, pretending to contemplate; after a while, he said, “All Gege, although Xiaodi is the Xiangzhu, it was because accidentally I killed Oboi, I do not have the least bit of talent, let alone any good plan. In my opinion, it is best if we ask Priest Xuanzhen to offer an advice; certainly he is much wiser than me.” This move of his was called ‘pushing the boat with the current’, he wanted to push the rotten wood onto Priest Xuanzhen’s shoulder.

    Priest Xuanzhen chuckled; turning toward Fan Gang he said, “Fan San Ge’s [third older brother] brain is a lot more brilliant than mine; what do you think?”

    Fan Gang was a straightforward man; he said, “I’ll say there is no other way; we must find the surnamed Bai’s home, if they kowtow to Xu Dage and apologize, we’ll let all matters rest. Otherwise, humph, humph, perhaps we will be forced to use peaceful measures before using force.”

    It was precisely what everybody had in their minds; its just that in Jianghu, the Mu Palace’s prestige was quite thriving, plus they were their compatriots in fighting the Qing to restore the Ming, so nobody was willing to be the first to propose the idea. As soon as Fan Gang said those words, several people immediately parroted, “Right! Right! Fan San Ge is right; naturally it will be best if we can avoid violence, otherwise our Tian Di Hui will be bullied by others. Could it be that when people beat us up like this we’ll just let it go?”

    Wei Xiaobao turned to Priest Xuanzhen and the other man and said, “What do the two of you think?”

    The man said, “This is called 'forced to climb the beam, we have no choice but to catch up'." Priest Xuanzhen smiled and nodded, but decline to make any comment.

    Wei Xiaobao thought, "You don't want to speak, in the future you can deny any responsibility. I will definitely make you responsible." Thereupon he asked, "Priest Xuanzhen, you are thinking that Fan San Ge's idea is not too appropriate, aren't you?"

    Priest Xuanzhen said, "It's not that it is inappropriate, it's just that everybody has to think it through; if we are going to fight the Mu Palace people, first, we must not lose, second, we cannot kill anybody. If someone get killed, this matter will turn very serious."

    Fan Gang said, "So be it. But what if Xu Dage died because of his serious injury?" Priest Xuanzhen simply nodded again.

    Wei Xiaobao said, "I am asking everybody to propose a plan. All Gege have a lot of knowledge and experience, you have eaten a lot more salt than the rice I ate, you have passed a lot more bridges than the road I walked, the idea you can think of will definitely a lot better than I can come up with."

    Priest Xuanzhen cast a glance at him, he said indifferently, "Wei Xiangzhu is amazing!"

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, "Priest, you are not bad yourself."

    They talked over this matter for a while, the basic idea was still according to Fan Gang's proposal, they asked Wei Xiaobao to lead them in finding the Mu Palace people's whereabouts and condemn them. They would all bring concealed weapons, but would try to exercise forbearance as much as possible, to have full control of the situation. It would be better if the Mu Palace people start the fight, then they would have the pretext of retaliation.

    Priest Xuanzhen said, "There is no harm in us inviting several famous martial art masters in Beijing to come with us, we can ask them to be the witness, to avoid a rumor from spreading, saying that we, Tian Di Hui, are taking unfair advantage of other people. If right or wrong is unclear, I am afraid in the future Zongduozhu will blame us."

    "That's wonderful," Wei Xiaobao happily said, "We need to invite those with high skill, the more the better." He recalled how at the restaurant along the way north of Jiangsu that man surnamed Bai from the Mu Palace threw chopsticks one by one and made Wu Sangui's men fell down on the ground, right now that scene was so vivid in his mind. If once again they do the 'blowing copper horn and crossing the river, shooting the elephants with rocket' trick, although within the city of Beijing they could not dispatch the elephant formation, but even with only mice formation, the Green Wood Hall's Wei Xiangzhu would not be able to escape unscathed. He was just thinking of making an excuse so he would not have to go, but had not found any idea; suddenly he heard Priest Xuanzhen's suggestion to invite renowned Beijing's martial art masters to come along, it was exactly what he was hoping for.

    With a slight smile Priest Xuanzhen said, "We only invite those masters with respectable reputation, not to ask them to help us fighting; whether they have good martial art skill or not is secondary."

    Gao Yanchao said, "Those with respectable reputation will most likely have high level of martial art skill." He was in support of Wei Xiaobao. Priest Xuanzhen nodded.

    "Which martial art masters will we invite?" Fan Gang asked. They immediately discussed who they were going to ask to come along. The persons invited must have quite a reputation in Wulin, must have had no dealings with the authorities, and must have had somewhat favorable relationship with Tian Di Hui.

    After this matter was decided, they were just about to separately invite the people, when all of a sudden the old man Xu groaned, "No ... no ... must not invite any outsiders."

    Fan Gang said, "Xu Dage, did you say we must not invite any outsiders?"

    The old man Xu said, "Wei Xiangzhu serves ... serves as a government official in the Palace, this ... this matter must not leak out. This ... this is a matter of ... a matter of life and death."

    Hearing this, they all realized he was right. Wei Xiaobao was a court eunuch in the Palace, naturally it was under Zongduozhu's order, there must be a major secret scheme behind it. Once an outsider know about it, it would be difficult to prevent rumors from spreading.

    Fan Gang said, "Wei Xiangzhu does not need to personally come with us. We are going to talk reason with those two surnamed Bai men; whatever the outcome, we'll report to Wei Xiangzhu when we come back."

    At first Wei Xiaobao was rather afraid of the Mu Palace, but since they were going to invite several famous martial art masters of Wulin world to come with them, it was like a guaranteed victory without any possibility of defeat; just like gambling with those 'cattle' using mercury-loaded dice, how could he bear to be left out? Thereupon he said, "It won't be fun if I don't go. Just don't tell the outsiders my real name and status."

    Priest Xuanzhen said, "If Wei Xiangzhu change his outfit and go in disguise, nobody will know that he works in the Palace ..."

    Before he even finished, Wei Xiaobao had already clapped and cheered; "Wonderful! Wonderful!" he repeatedly shouted. This idea was exactly what he needed. To visit someone's house and create trouble was already very amusing, creating trouble after dressing up was even more interesting. Originally everybody else was thinking that if it wasn't the fact that Wei Xiangzhu was their leader, he would be more of a liability to them; but seeing his enthusiasm and his determination to come along, nobody raised any objection.

    The old man Xu said, "Everybody ... everybody must be very careful. Wei Xiangzhu, what ... what are you going to dress up as?" Everybody turned their eyes toward Wei Xiaobao, waiting to hear his idea.

    Wei Xiaobao thought, "Shall I dress up as a wealthy family boy, or shall I dress up as a little beggar?" At the brothel, he was quite envious to see the visitors of the courtyard, who were mostly the sons of rich and influential families, were dressed in magnificent and expensive looking clothing and personal adornments, but all along he had never had any opportunity to dress like that. After slight hesitation, he fished three banknotes, worth five hundred taels each, from his pocket and said, "Here I have a thousand five hundred taels; I must bother one Dage to buy me some clothes."

    Everybody was slightly startled; almost together several of them said, "But we won't need that much money?"

    Wei Xiaobao said, "I have the money, the more expensive the clothes the better, buy some jewelry too, when I wear all that, nobody will know that I am a Palace ... a Palace's little eunuch."

    "Wei Xiangzhu is right," Priest Xuanzhen said, "Gao Xiongdi, go and buy some clothes for Wei Xiangzhu."

    Wei Xiaobao took out another banknote worth a thousand taels and said, "Spend some more money; it doesn't matter."

    Seeing a little child with that much money in his disposal, everybody was secretly amazed. Whatever people say, nobody could have guessed that he still had more than four hundred thousand taels at home. Based on Wei Xiaobao's original character, if he had two or three taels with him, he would not feel comfortable until he spent it all; but how would he spend more than four hundred thousand taels? To be able to buy magnificent and expensive clothes and be able to show off was indeed an opportunity that was hard to come by; he was very happy in his heart. Seeing the people's dumbfounded expression, he put his hand into his bosom again.

    When his hand came out, there were banknotes in his palm, worth three thousand and five hundred taels, which he handed over to Priest Xuanzhen, saying, “Today is the first time Xiongdi meets all Dage, I do not have any present for you. I got this money from that Tatars’ place over there, it’s all ill … ill money [Book note: he was thinking of saying ‘ill-gotten gain’ 不义之财, but this phrase was too hard, he was unable to remember the rest.], I am asking everybody to help me spend it.”

    Tian Di Hui’s rules were strict; taking other people’s property was strictly prohibited. Fan Gang, Gao Yanchao and the others had been poor for a long time, suddenly seeing Wei Xiangzhu drew out that much banknotes and explicitly stated that it was the Tatars' ill-gotten wealth, which must be true since he was working in the Qing Palace, everybody could not help but cheering loudly.

    Priest Xuanzhen said, "We must separately invite those people; it is too late today. Wei Xiangzhu, all of us will respectfully wait for your honorable self in here, I wonder what time will you be able to arrive."

    Wei Xiaobao said, "I have work to do in the morning, I will definitely be here in the afternoon."

    "Very good," Xuanzhen said, "We'll meet here tomorrow afternoon, and then we'll leave together to settle the account with those two surname Bai's."

    That night Wei Xiaobao's heart was unbearably itchy, he jumped up and down in his room, gesticulating while talking to himself. The next morning, from the Upper Study Room he hurriedly went to a jewelry store to buy a big emerald ring, and asked the shop owner to attach a large piece of white jade and four perfectly round pearls onto his satin cap. Just like that he spent more than four thousand taels. Seeing the rich customer was a court eunuch from the Palace, the shop owner did not have the slightest suspicion, since when people from the Palace bought jewelry, ten times that amount was not uncommon.

    Wei Xiaobao hurried back to Hui Chun Tang [Return of Spring Hall] drug store, everybody else had been waiting for him in the basement. They reported that they managed to invite Bejing's four well-known martial art masters to come with them as their witnesses. Each one of those masters received two hundred taels for their trouble. Wei Xiaobao mused, "Wealth brings people, calamity drives away people; these four martial art masters will have to help us. It's just that two hundred taels as a thank you gift is too few, it would be better if they receive five hundred taels each. Four martial art masters are too few, it would be better to invite sixteen."

    Gao Yanchao produced some clothes, shoes and socks for Wei Xiaobao to change into, each one was utterly luxurious; the outer long-gown was lined with fire fox fur, the collar and the sleeves were lined with glossy and bright-colored fur. Gao Yanchao said, "I asked them to alter the fur gown into smaller size in the same night, I paid them three taels and six qian extra."

    "Not expensive, not expensive," Wei Xiaobao repeatedly said. There was an azure-colored satin magua [a buttoned mandarin jacket of the Qing Dynasty]; it had ten buttons made of real gold; yet in spite of this extravagant attire, Gao Yanchao did not even spend half of the money Wei Xiaobao had given him.

    Wei Xiaobao had been living in the Palace for close to a year. Residence alters character, nurturing alters body; he ate proper food and gained a lot of knowledge and experience, and for the last half a year he had been the head of the Catering Department, he had more than a hundred eunuchs at his disposal, so for quite a while he was accustomed to be a leader. Presently he was dressing up in fancy clothes; although he still had a rather tacky impression of a nouveau riche, his style was by no means appeared ordinary. With his exuberant manner, he had distinguished himself from Fan Gang, Gao Yanchao and other warriors of the wilderness.

    A sedan chair had been prepared, waiting outside the door. They asked Wei Xiaobao to ride on it, so that while traveling on the street in disguise, he would not come across a eunuch or court official from the Palace. Their entourage went to the Wusheng Escort Agency at Dongcheng district first, to rendezvous with the four martial art masters. Of these four martial art masters, the first one was the headmaster of Beijing Tantui[1] School, Old Master Ma Boren, a member of Qingzhen Cult; the second one was a famous physician Yao Chun. When the Old Xu was injured, he was treated by this physician. This man was not only a famous physician, his qinna and close-combat skill was also profound. The third one earned the nickname of ‘Tiger-face Overlord’, Lei Yixiao; his iron-armor skill was very famous. The fourth one was none other than the head escort of the Wusheng Escort Agency himself, the Golden Spear Wang Wutong.

    Ma Boren and the others, four people, had already learned that Tian Di Hui’s leader Wei Xiangzhu was very young. When they met, they were very surprised to see that he looked like a teenager from a powerful and wealthy family. However, they all respected Chen Jinnan’s great name, thinking that although the disciple of Tian Di Hui’s Zongduozhu was very young, certainly he had an astonishing skill, hence they did not dare to belittle him.

    After drinking some tea at the escort agency office, they continued their journey together to the Willow Tree Lane where the two surnamed Bai men resided. Wei Xiaobao, Ma Boren and Yao Chun three people rode on sedan chairs, while Lei Yixiao and Wang Wutong rode horses; the rest of the entourage accompanied them on foot. Priest Xuanzhen, Fan Gang, and the others were famous characters, Wang Wutong wanted to let them use his horse, but Xuanzhen was afraid they would attract attention, so he adamantly refused.

    Finally they arrived outside a vermillion-painted gate of a large house on Willow Tree Lane. Gao Yanchao was about to step forward to knock on the door when suddenly they heard faint weeping sound coming from inside. Everybody was startled, they saw by the main gate there were two white lanterns, a sign that the family was in mourning. Gao Yanchao knocked the knocker ring lightly on the door. After a while the gate opened, an old housekeeper came out. Gao Yanchao presented five name cards, which they had prepared beforehand, and said, "Several friends from Wusheng Escort Agency, Tantui School and Tian Di Hui are here to pay their respect to Bai Da Xia and Bai Er Xia [Great Hero and Second Hero, respectively]."

    As soon as the housekeeper heard three words 'Tian Di Hui', he raised his eyebrows and shot an angry look while he glowered at everybody. Receiving the visiting cards, without saying anything he went back in.


    [1] Tantui is a northern school of martial art boxing.

  3. #63
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 9 - Part 5

    Although Ma Boren was already old, his temper was actually quite fiery; unable to restrain his anger he said, "This servant is very rude."

    "Ma Laoye [old master/gentleman] is exactly right," Wei Xiaobao said. He was actually very afraid of the Mu Palace people, he was hoping that Ma Boren, Wang Wutong and the others would stand by his side, so that when the fight broke later on, he would have several capable helpers.

    Quite a while later, a man about twenty-six or twenty-seven years old came out. He was very tall, his entire body was covered in mourning garment; his eyes were red as the tears in his eyes had not dried up. Cupping his fist he said, "Wei Xiangzhu, Ma Laoyezi, Wang Zongbiaotou [Head escort], gentlemen, it is an honor to have you here, welcome. Bai Hanfeng pays his respect to you." Everybody also cupped their fists to return the salute.

    Bai Hanfeng led everybody to the main hall. Ma Boren was most impatient; he asked, "Bai Er Xia, you are wearing mourning attire, I wonder which family member of yours has passed away?"

    Bai Hanfeng replied, "It's my older brother Hansong who was unfortunate and died."

    Ma Boren stomped his foot. "What a pity, what a pity!" he said, "The two Bai brothers were Mu Palace's heroes and brave generals, who were greatly well-known in Wulin. Bai Da Xia was in the prime of his life, I wonder what illness did he suffer?"

    They had just entered the main hall and were not seated yet, hearing this, Bai Hanfeng suddenly turned around, it was as if his eyes were shooting fire. "Ma Laoyezi," he said harshly, "Zaixia regards you as a Wulin senior, and thus has treated you with due respect. You are asking something you already know, are you ridiculing me?"

    Wei Xiaobao was taken aback that Bai Hanfeng got so angry suddenly; he was scared and took a step back. Ma Boren stroked his white beard and said, "That's strange! Laofu [lit. old man - referring to self] did not know, hence I asked. What do you mean asking something I already know? Bai Er Xia's older brother has just died, even if your heart is full of sorrow, there is no need to have a fit of temper to this old man!"

    'Humph," Bai Hanfeng snorted and said, "Please sit down!"

    Ma Boren mumbled to himself, "Fine, I'll sit down, do you think I am scared?" Turning to Wei Xiaobao he said, "Wei Xiangzhu, please take the seat of honor."

    "No, Ma Laoyezi should take the seat of honor!" Wei Xiaobao replied.

    When Bai Hanfeng looked at the visiting cards, he knew that among his guests there was a Xiangzhu of the Tian Di Hui's Green Wood Hall, Wei Xiangzhu; but he had never imagined that this teenager was the Wei Xiangzhu, he was surprised and angry. Reaching out, he grabbed Wei Xiaobao's left wrist and shouted, "You are Tian Di Hui's Wei Xiangzhu?"

    The force behind this grab was extraordinarily strong, Wei Xiaobao felt the pain penetrated his bone. "Ah!" he screamed, two streams of tear involuntarily flowed down his cheeks.

    Priest Xuanzhen said, "Please release your guest, Bai Er Xia took too much advantage of others!" Stretching out his finger, he jabbed Bai Hanfeng's side.

    Bai Hanfeng blocked with his left hand while releasing Wei Xiaobao's wrist at the same time and took a step backward. "Please forgive my offense," he said.

    Wei Xiaobao looked very distressed; he wiped the tears with his sleeve. It was totally beyond Bai Hanfeng's expectation; Ma Boren, Wang Wutong, as well as Tian Di Hui people were also surprised. They could see that although Bai Hanfeng's grab was very swift and fierce, it was not something that cannot be evaded. Yet as the disciple of Chen Jinnan, not only this Wei Xiangzhu did not dodge, he screamed and shed some tears too; it was truly a great marvel in the Wulin world. Xuanzhen, Fan Gang, Gao Yanchao, and the others were blushing to their ears, they were greatly ashamed.

    “I am sorry!” Bai Hanfeng said, “Elder brother was unfortunate to be killed under Tian Di Hui’s evil scheme, Zaixia’s heart is grieved …”

    “What?” before he could finished, everybody exclaimed one after another, “Bai Da Xia is killed by Tian Di Hui?” “How can there be such thing?” “There is absolutely no such thing.”

    Suddenly Bai Hanfeng stood up and loudly said, “You say there is absolutely no such thing, are you saying that my Gege did not die? Come, I want all of you to take a look.” Stretching out his hand, he was about to grab and pull Wei Xiaobao’s left arm. But this time Priest Xuanzhen and Fan Gang were prepared; as soon as Bai Hanfeng’s right arm moved, the two of them, one toward his chest and the other toward his back, attacked simultaneously.

    Immediately Bai Hanfeng turned his body sideways and took a step back, while his palms struck out right and left. Xuanzhen raised his left palm and struck with right palm; in the meantime, Fan Gang had already exchange a blow with Bai Hanfeng. Bai Hanfeng turned around and aimed for Xuanzhen’s throat. Xuanzhen leaned sideways to evade. Bai Hanfeng fiercely said, “My Dage died under your hands, I don’t want to live anymore. Tian Di Hui’s dogs, come up together!”

    The famous physician Yao Chun sprang up and spread out his arms to block. “Wait, don’t fight!” he said, “There is a misunderstanding here. Bai Er Xia keeps saying that Bai Da Xia was killed by Tian Di Hui, but what had really happened? Please explain to us clearly.”

    “All of you come with me!” Bai Hanfeng said, and walked in big strides toward the inner hall. Everybody thought that since their number was greater, they were not afraid he might have any plot or trick, they followed him inside.

    As soon as they reached the courtyard, they all halted on the spot. They saw the rear hall was arranged as a mourning hall, with a coffin behind the mourning curtains, and a dead body lying inside the coffin; half of the body’s head, as well as its pair of feet, were visible. Bai Hanfeng raised the mourning curtains and called out in loud voice, “Gege, you died without your eyes closed, Xiongdi is going to kill several Tian Di Hui dogs to avenge you.” His voice was hoarse, obviously because he had been crying for a long time.

    Wei Xiaobao went to see the dead person’s appearance and he was shocked. He had seen this person in that little restaurant along the way north of Jiangsu; he was the one striking Wu Sangui’s troops with chopsticks, his martial art skill excelled, it was hard to imagine that he would die in here. Immediately he thought that the opposite party had one less formidable persona; his shock was covered with a feeling a relief.

    Ma Boren, Yao Chun, Lei Yixiao, Wang Wutong, four people stepped closer to the coffin. Wang Wutong was an acquaintance of Bai Hanfeng; he sighed and said, “Bai Da Xia has indeed passed away; what a pity!”

    Yao Chun was a particularly cautious man, he stretched out his hand to check the dead body’s pulse on his wrist. With a cold laugh Bai Hanfeng said, “If you manage to get my Gege from the grave, I … I will kowtow to you twelve thousand times.”

    Yao Chun sighed and said, “Bai Er Xia, the dead cannot come back to life; please restrain your grief. Are you sure it was Tian Di Hui people who harmed Bai Da Xia? Bai Er Xia has not made a mistake?”

    “I … I made a mistake?” Bai Hanfeng screamed, “How can I make mistake?”

    Seeing his grief was beyond ordinary sorrow, one could see that the brotherly bond between the two of them was very deep; they all could not help from feeling sorry for him, Fan Gang’s anger had subsided considerably, he thought, “His older brother is dead, no wonder he did not realize whether his action was light or heavy.”

    With arms on his waist, Bai Hanfeng stood in the middle of the mourning hall and loudly said, “The one who killed my Gege was the old thief surnamed Xu who day by day sells medicinal plaster on the Heavenly Bridge. That old thief’s name is Xu Tianchuan, his bandit nickname is ‘Eight-armed Ape’, he is an officer in the Green Wood Hall of Tian Dihui, am I right? You still want to deny it?”

    Fan Gang, Xuanzhen and the others looked at each other in blank dismay; they went to the Willow Tree Lane was actually to confront the two brothers of the Bai family, to inquire them why they injured somebody. Unexpectedly the older brother of the Bai family, Bai Hansong had died under Xu Tianchuan’s hands. Fan Gang sighed and said, “Bai Lao’er, Xu Tianchuan, Xu Dage is our Tian Di Hui brother, that is true, but he … he …”

    “He what?” Bai Hanfeng asked harshly.

    “He is seriously injured by the two of you, he is on his last breath, I don’t know if by this time he is still alive or already dead. To tell you the truth, the reason of our visit today is to inquire of you, two brothers, why did you beat our Xu Dage like that? Who would have thought … who could have imagined … ay …”

    Bai Hanfeng angrily said, “Let’s not talk about this old thief surnamed Xu has not died, even if he has, the life of that old thief who is worse than a dog or a pig is not fit to make up for my Gege’s life.”

    Fan Gang was also angry, “Your mouth is so filthy, what kind of Wulin hero are you? So what do you want?”

    “I … I don’t know,” Bai Hanfeng screamed, “I want to butcher all of you, Tian Di Hui dog thieves, and make you mincemeat. I will die with you, we all will die together.” Turning around, he pulled a steel blade from the dead body’s side, and then he leaped up like a mad tiger, brandishing the saber wildly, making a loud ‘whoosh, whoosh’ noise. Tian Di Hui’s Fan Gang, Xuanzhen, and the others also unsheathed their weapons, they were prepared to meet the enemy. Wei Xiaobao hastily withdrew behind Gao Yanchao.

    Suddenly a loud roar was heard, “Stop fighting!” The voice shook everybody’s ears that their eardrums were buzzing. They saw the ‘Tiger Face Overlord’ Lei Yixiao raised both of his hands, standing in front of the Tian Di Hui group. With a loud voice he said, “Bai Er Xia, if you want to kill people, just kill me first!”

    This man had a good surname, his given name was also fitting[1]; his shout indeed had the power of jolting thunder. Bai Hanfeng was grieving of his brother’s death; his mind was somewhat abnormal, as soon as he heard the shout, his brain cleared up slightly. He said, “Why would I want to kill you? It wasn’t you who killed my Gege?”

    “These Tian Di Hui friends are not your Gege’s killer either,” Lei Yixiao said, “Besides, all over the world, Tian Di Hui has at least two, three hundred thousand members; can you kill them all?”

    Bai Hanfeng was startled, he shouted, “Killing one means one less, killing a pair means a pair less!”

    Suddenly from outside the door came a faint noise of hoof beats; it sounded like more than ten riders were rushing their way. Yao Chun said, “Perhaps government soldiers, everybody, hide your weapons!” Seeing Lei Yixiao was blocking in front of them, Fan Gang, Xuanzhen, and the others knew that it would not be easy for Bai Hanfeng to pounce on them with brandished saber; hence they all hid their weapons.

    Bai Hanfeng loudly said, “Even if the old man the emperor of heaven himself came, I am not scared.”

    The hoof beats were drawing nearer and nearer toward the alley, and then the riders stopped abruptly in front of the main gate, followed by the knocker ring was pounded on the door. Someone outside called out, “Bai Er Di, it’s me!” A shadow flashed, a man jumped over the wall and rushed in.

    This man was approximately forty years old, his bearing was imposing, but his expression greatly changed as with a trembling voice he said, “It’s really … really Bai Da Di … Bai Da Di …” [Da Di and Er Di are ‘first younger brother’ and ‘second younger brother’, respectively.]

    Bai Hanfeng threw the steel blade in his hand and rushed out to meet him and called out, “Su Si Ge [fourth older brother], my Gege … my Gege …” Unable to continue, he broke in a bawl.

    Ma Boren, Fan Gang, Xuanzhen and the others all thought, “Could it be that this man is the Mu Palace’s ‘Divine Physician Hermit’[2] Su Gang?”

    At this moment the main gate was opened and about a dozen people, men and women, rushed in and ran straight toward the coffin. Several women immediately raised their voices in loud wailing. One young woman was Bai Hansong’s wife, another young woman was Bai Hanfeng’s wife.

    Fan Gang, Xuanzhen, and the others felt awkward, they saw how these people were crying in extreme distress. If they did not leave now, after these people finished crying, even if they did not fight, unavoidably they would throw curses at them. Wei Xiaobao’s wrist was heavily gripped by Bai Hanfeng earlier, right now he felt the pain was still severe. Originally he wanted to take advantage of their number and told Xuanzhen, Fan Gang and the rest to catch Bai Hanfeng for him, so that at least he could kick his damn butt seven or eight times. Unexpectedly, the opposite party now had more people, so that if a fight broke, it would not be too convenient to them; his heart was thumping madly. He saw Xuanzhen was signaling him with his eyes, obviously Xuanzhen wanted to wipe the oil from their soles, by slipping out quietly. It was exactly what Wei Xiaobao had in his mind. Immediately he turned around and walked away, while saying, “Everybody, let’s go buy some yuanbao and candles, and come back here to pay respect to the dead!”

    “Want to run away?” Bai Hanfeng shouted, “It’s not that easy.” Rushing forward, he sent his right palm fiercely toward Fan Gang’s back.

    “Who wants to run away?” Fan Gang angrily said, while lifting his left arm to block, but he did not retaliate. Xuanzhen and the others halted their steps. But Wei Xiaobao continued running toward the gate; he wanted to make sure one of his feet was across the threshold before seeing what would happen next.

    The man surnamed Su asked, “Bai Er Di, who are these gentlemen? Please forgive zaixia for not recognizing them.”

    “They are Tian Di Hui dogs,” Bai Hanfeng replied, “My GegeGege was killed by them.” As soon as he blurted those words, the people who were prostrating and crying loudly suddenly leaped up. Continuous ringing was heard, weapons were flashing, instantly the guests were surrounded; even Ma Boren, Yao Chun, Lei Yixiao and Wang Wutong, four people were inside the encirclement.

    Wang Wutong laughed aloud and said, “Ma Dage, Lei Xiongdi, Doctor Yao, since when did we join the Tian Di Hui? Based on our morality and conduct, I am afraid in the Tian Di Hui friends’ eyes we are not fit to carry their shoes.”

    The middle-aged man surnamed Su cupped his fist. “So gentlemen are not from Tian Di Hui?” he asked, “This Doctor Yao, presumably your given name is Chun. Zaixia Su Gang. As soon as I learned that the older brother of Bai family had met a misfortune and died, from Wanping we rushed over here. In my grief I did not ask for guidance; this is indeed showing my lack in manners.” While saying that, he cupped his fist and bowed.

    Wang Wutong also cupped his fist and bowed, “You are too kind, you are too kind,” he said, “Divine Physician Hermit, you have a fully justified reputation; you indeed have the knowledge and experience, and the bearing of a hero.” Right away he presented everybody present, one by one; the first one was naturally Wei Xiaobao. “This is Tian Di Hui Green Wood Hall’s Wei Xiangzhu.”

    Su Gang knew that altogether Tian Di Hui had ten halls, each hall’s xiangzhu was a heroic warrior with unsurpassed skill; but this Wei Xiangzhu was obviously a teenager of a rich family whose smell of his mother’s milk had not yet dried, he could not help but was astonished, however, his face remained calm and collected. Cupping his fist he said, “An honor to meet you at last!”


    [1] Lei Yixiao, ‘lei’ – thunder, ‘yi xiao’ – one hiss or whistle.

    [2] FYI: Orig. 圣手居士 [sheng shou ju shi], sheng shou can be translated as either ‘divine physician’ or ‘highly skilled practitioner’. In White Hair Demoness, ju shi was translated as ‘hermit’, but literal translation is ‘resident scholar’.

  4. #64
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 9 - Part 6

    Wei Xiaobao giggled and cupped his fist to return the propriety, from the threshold he walked back in. “Why is it an honor for you to meet me?” he asked.

    Su Gang was startled; he said, “It’s an honor for Zaixia to meet Tian Di Hui’s ten Xiangzhu, each one is a hero and a warrior.”

    Wei Xiaobao nodded; “So that’s how it is,” he said with a laugh. Seeing his cunning expression and sly tone, the doubt in Su Gang’s heart grew.

    Presently Wang Wutong continued his introduction to the rest of the party. Su Gang also introduced the people who had come with him. Two were his two younger martial brothers; the three of them were martial brothers with the two brothers of the Bai family. And then there were several disciples of Su Gang. Madame Bai Hansong was leaning over her husband’s dead body and wept bitterly, Madame Bai Hanfeng was crying and comforting her at the same time. These women did not come over to be introduced.

    Yao Chun said, “Bai Er Xia, what has exactly happened? How did the contention between Bai Da Xia and Tian Di Hui started? Would Bai Er Xia tell us?” He coughed, and then continued, “Wulin people are always looking up to the Mu Palace of Yunnan, Tian Di Hui’s internal rules are always very strict, neither one are capricious and unreasonable people. The whole world cannot forego this ‘reason’, the matter of today cannot be settled by fighting or using martial art. Here we have Old Master Ma, Lei Xiongdi, Wang Zongbiaotou, as well as the trivial Zaixia, granted that we have no special friendship with either side, but we always admire both sides’ reputation. Bai Er Xia, would you do it for out sake, how did it all happen?”

    Wang Wutong said, “Not trying to conceal anything, I can tell you that the friends from Tian Di Hui really did not know that Bai Da Xia has passed away, otherwise, won’t you say that their visit would be embarrassing?”

    “In that case,” Su Gang said, “For what reason did Wei Xiangzhu and other friends come to our humble place?”

    Wang Wutong said, “We are not going to lie to you, Tian Di Hui friends said that their Xu Tianchuan, Xu San Ge has been beaten and seriously injured by Mu Palace people, so that he is already unable to speak. Hence they invited us, several old rotten men to accompany them to your respectable place to inquire the reason.”

    Su Gang grimly said, “If that so, everybody’s visit here is to condemn us?”

    “That we do not dare,” Wang Wutong said, “We make our living by mingling in the Jianghu, we entirely dependent on friends giving us face. Right or wrong, crooked or straight, it’s all a matter of public opinion, nobody can speak blindly against one’s conscience.”

    Su Gang nodded. “Wang Zongbiaotou is right,” he said, “Please everybody come to the hall and talk.”

    They all went to the main hall. Su Gang told his martial brothers and his disciples to sheathe their weapons. Bai Hanfeng was unwilling to lay down the steel blade in his hand. Su Gang let everybody sit, and then said, “Bai Er Di, what had really happened? Why don’t you tell it to everybody?”

    Bai Hanfeng sighed, and then said, “The day before yesterday, in the afternoon …” He only said those words when he could not refrain anger from raising up, that he brandished the steel blade in his hand. Wei Xiaobao was startled and shrank back. Bai Hanfeng realized he had been too ill-mannered; with might he threw the steel blade to the ground. ‘Crash!’, it smashed two of the square bricks. With a heavy breathing he said, “In the afternoon the day before yesterday, Gege and I were having a drink in a wine shop on the Heavenly Bridge, when suddenly in came a government official with his four attendants. Those four attendants' conduct were loathsome, they asked for wine, asked for dishes, but they were speaking in Yunnan dialect.”

    “Oh,” Su Gang said.

    Bai Hanfeng continued, “When Gege and I heard them speak, we focused our attention.”

    Wang Wutong, Fan Gang, and the others knew that for generations Mu Palace had ruled Yunnan. Su Gang, Bai Hanfeng, and the others grew up in Yunnan. Hearing a local accent in Beijing, naturally they would pay more attention.

    Bai Hanfeng continued, “My Gege listened for a while before he exchanged some greetings with the neighbor. Hearing that we are also from Yunnan, the government official invited us over and sit with him. Gege and I have left home for a long time, we wanted very much to hear news from our homeland. Seeing this government official had just arrived from Yunnan, we moved and sat with him. When we talked, the government official called himself Lu Yifeng, turns out he was on assignment, sent by Wu Sangui, to be the county head magistrate of Qujing County. He is from Dali in Yunnan. According to the rules, Yunnan native cannot be a local official in his own province. But this Lu Yifeng said that he was appointed by Ping Xi Wang, so he did not need to pay attention to the rules!”

    Fan Gang could not refrain from cursing, “His granny, that big traitor to China Wu Sangui appoints a dog official, what a nerve!”

    Bai Hanfeng cast him a glance, then he nodded and said, “This Fan … Fan Xiong said it well, at that time I also had such thought. But in order to hear more about our hometown situation, we flattered him several sentences instead. That dog official was even more complacent; he said that officials appointed by Wu Sangui are called ‘Western Elect’, meaning these officials are elected by Ping Xi Wang. All government officials in Yunnan, big and small, are appointed by Wu Sangui; even in Sichuan, Guangxi, Guizhou, three provinces, the western elects are more popular than those officials appointed by the Emperor himself.”

    Hearing Bai Hanfeng was speaking with a labored breathing, Su Gang interrupted by explaining, “If there is any vacant post, the imperial court will appoint an official, Wu Sangui will also appoint an official. Whoever assumes the post first will get the position. Whenever there is any vacant high level position post in Yunnan, Guizhou, Sichuan and Guangxi, for provinces, naturally Kunming would find out first; and sending someone from Kunming is definitely a lot quicker. As a result, officials from the imperial court always lag behind those 'Western Elects'."

    Bai Hanfeng took a deep breath and continued, "The official said that Ping Xi Wang has rendered a great service to the imperial court. The Manchus were able to conquer our rivers and mountains, it was entirely due to Ping Xi Wang, therefore, the imperial court shows special favor to him. Whatever memorial to the throne Wu Sangui submitted, it has never been rejected."

    Wang Wutong said, "This official is actually telling the truth. Each time Xiongdi go into escort duty to the southwest provinces, I see it with my own eyes that people in Yunnan and Guangxi only know Wu Sangui, they do not know the Emperor."

    Bai Hanfeng said, "This Lu Yifeng said that according to the imperial court's rules, all county head magistrates must go to the Capital to have an audience with the Emperor, the Emperor must personally confer the high official post. He came to Beijing, it was exactly to see the Emperor. He said that since Ping Xi Wang has already sealed his appointment, his coming to the Capital to see the Emperor is just a routine business. My Gege said, 'Official Lu is taking an official post in Qujing, a native become a government official in his own province, naturally you will do the people a lot of good.' That Lu Yifeng laughed aloud and said, 'Naturally.' Suddenly, someone sitting on another table butted in, that old ... that old thief ... my enmity with him is so deep ..." While saying that, he suddenly stood up, his face was bulging and was very red.

    Su Gang said, "It was the ‘Eight-armed Ape’ Xu Tianchuan who spoke?"

    Bai Hanfeng nodded. "Ex ... ex ..." in his great anger, his throat choked, he was unable to speak. After a while he continued, "Exactly that old thief. He was sitting on a small table by the window, drinking wine. He butted in, saying, 'A native become a government official in his own province, it is even more convenient to plunder the land.' That old thief, we were talking to the official, who told him to be a blabbermouth?"

    "Bai Er Xia," Xuanzhen coldly said, "What Xu San Ge said was not wrong."

    "Humph," Bai Hanfeng snorted. After a short pause he said, "What he said was not wrong, I did not say that what he said was wrong, but ... but ... who told him to meddle other people's business? If he did not butt in, how could all these things happen?" Seeing he was short of breath, Xuanzhen did not say anything anymore.

    Bai Hanfeng continued, "Hearing these words, Lu Yifeng flew into a rage; he slapped the table and turned his head, only to see that this old thief was a hunchback old man with wretched appearance. There was a medicine chest on the table, there was a medicinal plaster banner by his chair, so he was an old man who sells medicine. Lu Yifeng shouted, 'You, old codger, what nonsense are you talking about?' His four attendants have already scrambled over, they slapped the old thief's table and rained curses on him. One servant grabbed him by his collar. I was so blind that I could not see that old thief has a profound martial art skill; I was thinking that because of righteous indignation he spoke those words to mock. Afraid that he might get the worst of it, I came over to advise him and in the process pushed those four attendants away."

    Xuanzhen praised him, "Bai Er Xia was thinking of benevolence and righteousness, it was indeed the conduct of a hero." He thought that Bai Hansong had died, while although Xu Tianchuan's injury was not light, he would most likely live, so it could be said that their side had had a small advantage. In a lot of things both sides had to make peace, so he flattered Bai Hanfeng a little bit to let him calm down.

    Who would have thought that Bai Hanfeng was unwilling to accept his praise; he stared at him and said, "What hero? I am a coward[1]! I have eyes but failed to be a good judge of character, I failed to see that this old thief was treacherous and murderous, and still thought that he was a good man. That Lu Yifeng turned into his official mode, he cursed incessantly, shouting, ‘Rebellion! Rebellion!’ He said that there are indeed many wicked citizens in the Capital that must be punished severely.”

    Fan Gang interrupted, “That official is just like a dog threatens based on his master’s power; it’s not enough for him to bully the common people in Yunnan, he also came to Beijing to bully people.”

    “It’s not that easy to bully people,” Ban Hanfeng said, “That official shouted repeatedly, telling his attendants to bind the old thief and send him to the authority, to have him beaten by forty big planks, to put him in wooden stocks and expose him publicly. That old thief giggled and said, ‘Da Laoye, why do you shout and make a racket? Aren’t you straining yourself? Let me prepare a medicinal plaster for you.’ From his medicine chest he took a sheet of medicinal plaster, which he pressed between his palms, immediately afterwards he flattened up the herbal plaster, which was originally folded and lumped together. When at first I saw how this old thief was not afraid of the fiendish attendants at all, I had begun to have suspicion, now that I saw the strength of his hands with which he pulled the plaster, Gege and I looked at each other; I finally understood. The lump of ointment in the middle of the plaster was stiff and hard; it has to be baked over the fire for a long time before it can be pulled open. But he only pressed it between his palms for a short moment and used his internal energy to bake it and made the ointment soft, his power must be really extraordinary. When he flattened out the plaster, the ointment was steaming hot. But that Lu Yifeng did not realize it at all; he kept urging his attendants to go forward and arrest the man. I no longer care to stop those official's lackeys, since they were only asking trouble for themselves. Seeing I stepped out of the way, one of the attendants pounced on that old thief. The old thief laughed and said, 'Do you want medicinal plaster?' while putting the plaster on the attendant's hand. The attendant cursed, 'Old dog, what are you doing?' The old thief gave the attendant's arm a push, the attendant's body swiveled and 'slap!' the steaming hot plaster happened to stick onto that dog official, Lu Yifeng's mouth ..."

    Hearing to this part, Wei Xiaobao could not show restraint anymore, he laughed and clapped his hands. Bai Hanfeng snorted and shot him a very fierce glare. Wei Xiaobao was scared and did not dare to laugh. "And then what happened?" Su Gang asked.

    Bai Hanfeng said, "That dog official's mouth was sealed by the plaster, he busily reached up to pull the plaster. The old thief pushed the four attendants away and said, 'Go help Da Laoye!' I heard a continuous 'slap! slap! slap!'; the four attendants were like, I slap once, you slap once, they kept slapping that dog official. Turned out the old thief pushed and steered the four attendants' arms, while transmitting his own strength, so that those four men's palms were slapping the dog official. In just a short moment, the dog official's cheeks were swollen red." Wei Xiaobao burst out in laughter again, but he turned his head around, he did not dare to look at Bai Hanfeng.

    Su Gang nodded, "That Xu Xiong has earned the nickname ‘Eight-armed Ape’. I heard his qin na skill is considered first class in Wulin; his reputation is indeed fully justified." He thought that since Bai Hansong died in his hands, naturally this old man's martial art skill was very high. By praising his martial art skill, he was trying to preserve the two brothers of the Bai family's prestige.

    Bai Hanfeng said, "Gege and I were amused; very soon we saw blood dripping from the dog official's cheeks. There were many onlookers in the wine shop standing to see the excitement. The old thief kept yelling loudly, 'Don't hit, don't hit! Da Laoye must not be hit! You are such brazen servants, underlings defy your superior, how can you beat your own Da Laoye?' while he skipped and bounced around behind the four attendants, very much like a big monkey. When pushing the attendant's arm, it looked like he was dodging instead. The onlookers could not see that he was playing a trick. It was not until that dog official fainted and fell down on the floor that he stopped and returned to his table. The four attendants still thought that they had bumped into some demon or meet some ghosts; they simply did not understand how they were beating their own Da Laoye, but the blood on their palms was real. The four of them stared blankly for a moment, and then they carried that dog official away."

    "Delighted, delighted!" Fan Gang said, "Wu Sangui's lackeys should be punished like that. Xu San Ge beating that dog official thoroughly is precisely to vent the resentment of all common people in the world. Bai Er Xia, why didn't you help him with several beatings of your own?"

    Immediately Bai Hanfeng's anger rose up again, he shouted loudly, "It was obvious that old thief was flaunting his skill, why would I want to help him? It was he who did the beating, not him taking a beating."

    Xuanzhen said, "Bai Er Xia is right, previously he did not know Xu San Ge knew martial art; didn't he stand up bravely for the truth by blocking those dog official's attendants from assaulting him?"

    "Humph!" Bai Hanfeng snorted, and then continued, "After that dog official and his attendants left, my Gege called the restaurant's shopkeeper and told him that he would compensate for all damaged tables, chairs and utensils, he also told him to put the old thief's bill into our account. The old thief laughed and thanked him. My Gege invited him over to drink wine together with us. In a low voice the old thief said, 'I have long admired the illustrious name of Song and Feng, virtuous brothers. It's nice to meet you.' Gege and I were startled, thinking that it turned out he had already known our origins, but we did not know who he was. My Gege said, 'I am very ashamed, may I ask Laoyezi's respected surname and great given name?' The old thief said with a laugh, 'Zaixia Xu Tianchuan. Unable to keep my calm, I have shown off my meager skill in front of virtuous brothers' expert eyes; it was truly laughable.' By that time we still did not know what kind of man was this Xu Tianchuan, but we thought that since he had given a dog official some beatings, obviously he was someone who tread the same path as we do. If that dog official did not suffer those trashing, we, two brothers, would certainly give him some beatings ourselves. The three of us drank and chatted, we got along very well with each other. Since it was not convenient to have an in depth conversation in the restaurant, we invited him over here to have a meal."

    "Oh," Fan Gang said, "So Xu San Ge came here? Was it in your respected abode that the fight started?"

    "Who says we fought here?" Bai Hanfeng said, "How can we fight with a guest in our home? Isn't that we are bullying others?"

    Xuanzhen nodded and said, "The Bai brothers have heroic spirit and chivalrous frame of mind, definitely they won’t do such thing.”


    [1] Play of words: Hero - ying xiong, coward - gou xiong (lit. black bear).

  5. #65
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    Default Chapter 9 - Part 7

    Hearing Xuanzhen repeatedly praised him, eventually Bai Hanfeng nodded to him to express his gratitude. He said, “We, brothers invited the old thief to come here, we treated him with utmost respect, we asked him how he recognized us. He no longer conceal anything, he said that he belong to Tian Di Hui, as soon as we, brothers, arrived in Beijing, Tian Di Hui had already obtained the news, and that he longed to make friends with us. He beat the dog official in the restaurant, first, it was because he detests Wu Sangui, second, it was because he wanted to make friends with us. That old thief can talk really well, he deceived us, brothers, into thinking that he was a really good man. Afterwards we were speaking about fighting the Qing to restore the Ming. The more we talked, the three of us, no, two people and a dog, grew more in agreement with each other …”

    Wei Xiaobao interjected, “Two people and a dog talked and grew more in agreement with each other is a very rare occurrence.” The others could not help feeling amused, but in front of Bai Hanfeng, they did not dare to laugh loudly.

    Bai Hanfeng shouted angrily, “Little demon, you talk rubbish!”

    “Bai Er Xia,” Fan Gang said, “Although Wei Xiangzhu is young, he is our Society’s Green Wood Hall Xiangzhu; everybody in our Society, from top to bottom, respects him very much.”

    “So what if he is a Xiangzhu?” Bai Hanfeng said.

    Su Gang tried to change the subject. “My Bai Xiongdi is deeply grieved by the death of his older brother, his speech is somewhat pressing with rage, I am asking everybody not to take offense. Wei Xiangzhu, please bear with him a little bit.” He thought that in Tian Di Hui, the Xiangzhu status was not a small matter; by calling him ‘little demon’, Bai Hanfeng was clearly in the wrong.

    Bai Hanfeng was not a fool, he understood this subtle hint; averting his gaze from Wei Xiaobao he said, "Afterwards, the three of us ..."

    "No, the two of you and a dog," Wei Xiaobao butted in again.

    "You ... you ..." Bai Hanfeng angrily screamed. But in the end he was able to control his temper. Taking a deep breath he continued, "When the topic of our discussion reached fighting the Qing restoring the Ming, we talked about after the Tatars are wiped clean, we will support Emperor Hongwu's descendant to sit of the dragon throne. My Gege said, 'His Majesty returned to heaven in Myanmar, he was survived by the young crown prince. Contrary to what one might expect, he is actually very intelligent, wise and farsighted, and will make a brave ruler; presently he lives in seclusion in a remote mountain.' But that old thief said, 'The rightful emperor ordained by heaven is alive and well in Taiwan.'"

    As soon as Bai Hanfeng quoted Xu Tianchuan, Su Gang, Yao Chun, Wang Wutong, and the others knew the disagreement between the two parties was over supporting Gui and supporting Tang. After the Emperor Suizhen hanged himself on Mount Mei and the Qing army crossed the pass, the members of Ming Dynasty's imperial clan, King Fu, King Tang, King Lu and King Gui separately proclaimed themselves as Emperors in different places, the dispute had already started at that time. After each one of these Kings died, the followers of these kings still harbored hostility toward each other.

    Bai Hanfeng continued, "When I heard the old thief spoke those words, I asked, 'Since when did our young emperor go to Taiwan?' The old thief said, 'I was talking about Son of Heaven Longwu's young emperor, not King Gui's offspring.' My Gege said, 'Xu Laoyezi, you are a hero and a warrior, the two of us brothers admire you very much, it's just that concerning an important matter of the world, your experience is actually lacking. When the Son of Heaven Suizhen died, King Fu stood on his own feet. When King Fu was taken prisoner by the Qing army, King Tang was unfortunate and died for his country. Our Son of Heaven Yongli was the king over the whole China. After the Son of Heaven Yongli died for his country, naturally his offspring will succeed the throne.'" Longwu was King Tang's regnal name, Yongli was King Gui's regnal name. They were all King Tang, King Gui's former officials, naturally they were addressing their former masters by their regnal names.

    Listening to this point, Fan Gang interrupted, "Bai Er Xia, please don't be offended. After the Son of Heaven Longwu perished, all his other brothers died, he still has a sibling Son of Heaven Shaowu in Guangzhou. Yet King Gui dispatched troops to attack Son of Heaven Shaowu. They were all descendants of Taizu Huangdi, not fighting Manchu Tatars but fighting one's own, isn't that a big mistake, a blunder?"

    Bai Hanfeng angrily said, "Wasn't the way that old thief speak identical to yours? In the end, whose dispute is this? Our Son of Heaven Yongli properly sent an envoy to Guangzhou, ordering King Tang to remove his honorific title. Not only King Tang refuse to accept the imperial order, he sent troops to oppose the 'Mandate of Heaven' instead. This action of King Tang was obviously in rebellion, a treason and heresy; it can be said that it was the main cause of a disaster."

    With a cold laugh Fan Gang said, "An insignificant Zaixia was also involved in the battle of Sanshui, but I don't know whose army was completely wiped-out?"

    Bai Hanfeng was furious, he stood up and with a stern voice said, "Are you still considering this old debt?"

    Listening to the way Fan Gang spoke, Wei Xiaobao knew that apparently in the Battle of Sanshui, King Tang won and King Gui lost; he busily asked, "Fan Dage, what happened in that Battle of Sanshui?"

    Fan Gang said, "King Gui has listened to his subordinate's instigation, a treacherous court official's, a servant called Lin Guiding, hence he dispatched troops to attack Guangzhou ..."

    "Fan Dage," Su Gang interrupted, "That was not the fact. It was King Tang who sent troops first to attack Zhaoqing, our Son of Heaven Yongli had no choice but to rise to take up the challenge."

    Both sides were like, you make a brief remark, I speak one sentence; they all argued over old affair, gradually the swords were drawn, an open fight was about to begin. Yao Chun repeatedly shook his hands and with a loud voice said, "It's an old affair of many years ago, do you still have to bring it up? It doesn't matter who won who lost, there's really no glory or shame in that, in the end it did not wipe out the Tatars." As soon as they heard this, they stopped arguing, all had ashamed look on their faces.

    Su Gang said, "Bai Er Di, justice is to be found everywhere, pledging our lives, we will contend strongly for the source of right and wrong. What happened afterwards?"

    Bai Hanfeng said, "What that old thief said is similar to what this ... this Master Fan said just now, naturally we, brothers, discussed it in details to make him understand. Both sides were getting louder and louder, nobody was willing to yield. In his anger, my Gege slapped the small side table and broke it into pieces. With a cold laugh the old thief said, 'After you can't win the argument using reason, now you want to resort to violence? The Twin-tree of Bai family of the Mu Palace's fame for fighting prowess shakes the distant land, I am but a peon in Tian Di Hui, yet I am not scared.' Obviously he was saying that a peon of Tian Di Hui outshines established and well-known characters of the Mu Palace. My Gege said, 'I broke my own table, what does it have to do with you? On what authority you dare to insult our Mu Palace?' The argument reached a deadlock, finally we agreed to have a duel that same night on zi hour [between 11pm - 1am] at the Temple of Heaven."

    Su Gang sighed, low-spiritedly he said, "Turns out the dispute started from that."

    Bai Hanfeng said, "That night we went to the Temple of Heaven to keep the appointment. Without saying anything we started fighting with that old thief right away ..."

    Wei Xiaobao said, "Presumably it was two against one. I wonder was it Bai Da Xia who fought first, or was it Bai Er Xia?"

    Bai Hanfeng's face turned red, with a loud voice he said, "We, two brothers, always fight together. Dealing with one person the two of us fought together, dealing with a hundred people the two of us still fought together."

    Wei Xiaobao nodded. "So that's how it is," he said, "Supposing you are fighting with me, a child, the two of you would still fight together."

    Bai Hanfeng roared in rage, he raised his palm, ready to smash it down onto the top of Wei Xiaobao's head. Su Gang stretched out his left hand to grab Bai Hanfeng's wrist; he said, "Bai Er Di, don't!"

    Bai Hanfeng shouted, "This ... this little demon insulted my deceased brother."

    Wei Xiaobao was only seeking to win a tongue-lashing contest; he had not thought that he had included the dead Bai Hansong. Seeing Bai Hanfeng was raging mad, he was very scared and did not dare to see anything anymore.

    "Bai Er Di," Su Gang said, "Injustice has a reason, debt has its owner. It was the one surnamed Xu who murdered Bai Dage, we can only seek that surnamed Xu to settle the account."

    Bai Hanfeng stared maliciously at Wei Xiaobao. "There will come a day where I will pull your tendon and peel your skin," he said.

    Wei Xiaobao stuck out his tongue toward him, he thought that with Su Gang around, Bai Hanfeng would not do anything to him. Even if he was going to pull his tendon and peel his skin, it would not be today's matter.

    Fan Gang said, "Su Si Ge, you said that Bai Da Xia was murdered by our Xu Dage, I am afraid you must reconsider the word ‘murder’. Bai Er Xia said that both parties were contending martial art in the Temple of Heaven, Xu Dage fought one against two, there was no conspiracy or treacherous scheming, and it wasn’t relying on number to achieve victory either, it was a just and honorable fight, how can you say that it was ‘murder’?”

    Bai Hanfeng angrily said, “Naturally my Gege was murdered by that old thief. Before we, brothers, went to the Temple of Heaven to keep the appointment, we have discussed it over; my Gege said that although this old man was muddle-headed, did not understand the mandate of heaven and unwilling to surrender, he was after all a compatriot in fighting the Qing restoring the Ming. During the duel, we must consider Tian Di Hui’s part and must stop at the touch, we must not injure him for real. The two of us were being lenient, who would have thought that the old thief was so vicious, unexpectedly he launched a killer strike and thus murdered my Gege.”

    Su Gang asked, “How did that surnamed Xu murder Bai Da Di?”

    Bai Hanfeng said, “We fought for more than forty stances without any clear winner or loser. Suddenly that old thief jumped out of the arena; he cupped his fist and said, ‘My utmost admiration! Today we cannot distinguish victory and defeat, there is no need to continue fighting. Mu Palace’s martial art is world-renowned, it is indeed brilliant.’”

    “That’s very good,” Fan Gang said, “Everybody did not need to fight anymore, hence avoided injuring friendship, wasn’t it great?”

    Bai Hanfeng angrily said, “You did not see that old thief’s expression when he said that, how can you say that he really had good intention? There was a cold smile on the corners of his mouth, obviously he was saying that with one against two, the Bai Family Twin-tree of the Mu Palace cannot overcome an old man; that ‘world-renowned martial art skill’ was nothing more than a brag. Naturally I was angry, I said, ‘If victory or defeat cannot be distinguished, then we continue fighting until victory and defeat are clearly distinguished.’ Although that old man was agile, his strength could not be compared to us, brothers. In prolonged fight, he would definitely lose. He did not want to fight just so he could slip away. Thereupon we fought again. After fighting for a while, I launched the move ‘dragon soars tiger leaps’, I struck down on him from the air. Sure enough, that old thief leaned sideways to evade. The two of us had practiced this move well, my Gege immediately launched the ‘sweeping away a thousand army’, his left leg swept to the right, his right arm struck across to the left, so he would not be able to evade.” Speaking about this part, he demonstrated the move ‘sweeping away a thousand army’.

    Priest Xuanzhen nodded and said, “This move is a converging attack, blocking the opponent from dodging either to the left of to the right; it is indeed formidable."

    Bai Hanfeng said, "The old thief pulled his body back, suddenly he struck toward my Gege's chest. My Gege flipped his palms and pushed the upper part of the old thief's torso, while laughing, 'Ha ha, you lost ...' Right this moment, 'crash!' unexpectedly the old thief was very ruthless, he had used a heavy hand. Knowing the situation was disadvantageous, I launched the 'high mountain flowing water', with both palms, one after another, striking the old thief's back. The old thief's body shook and he retreated a few steps. My Gege spurted a mouthful of fresh blood and fell sitting down on the ground. I was very anxious and busily helped him up. The old thief let out several hollow laughs; limping and dragging his legs he walked away. I was thinking of running after him and giving him several punches to kill him instantly, but I was worried about my Gege's injury and did not have time to pay attention to that old thief. I carried Gege back home; on the way home, he only said four words, 'avenge me' [gei wo bao chou], then breathed his last. Su Si Ge ... if we don't avenge his death, we would live in vain!" Speaking to this point, tears welling up his eyes.

    Priest Xuanzhen turned his head toward a man by his side, "Feng Er Di, let us demonstrate several stances that Bai Er Xia mentioned just now."

    The man surnamed Feng was Feng Jizhong; there was nothing remarkable about his appearance, if anything, he looked rather boorish. Ever since Wei Xiaobao saw him in the basement of the Hui Chun Tang drug store the previous day, he had never said a word; so Wei Xiaobao did not pay him any attention.

    Feng Jizhong nodded his head and stood up, then light as a feather, he sent out a palm strike toward Xuanzhen. Xuanzhen raised his left palm to block, then he pulled his body back. Next, he formed a pair of claws with all ten fingers, remarkably alike a monkey's claws; obviously he was imitating the ‘Eight-armed Ape’ Xu Tianchuan's style. Pushing the ground lightly with his left foor, Feng Jizhong flew up and then from the air he struck down.

    "Good move!" Yao Chun called out, "It's the ‘dragon soars tiger leaps’!" Before he even finished, Xuanzhen had already leaned sideways to evade.

    Right this moment, 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 ‘sweeping away a thousand army’ Bai Hanfeng had demonstrated just a moment ago. Feng Jizhong was able to move as if he was two people. He had just finished executed Bai Hanfeng's ‘dragon soars tiger leaps’, immediately he changed into a different role and attacked Xuanzhen from the front, executing Bai Hansong's ‘sweeping away a thousand army’. His movements were very fast; it was truly unthinkable. Amid the cheer of everybody present, Xuanzhen shrank back while striking the opponent's chest. Feng Jizhong pushed with both palms toward the pit of Xuanzhen's stomach, while saying, "Haha, you lost ..." Then right this moment Xuanzhen sent a right punch toward the pit of Feng Jizhong's stomach, and a left palm strike toward his lower abdomen. As soon as both men's fists and palms touched each other, they froze.

    "Bai Er Xia," Xuanzhen asked, "Isn't the situation at that time like this?"

    Before Bai Hanfeng could answer, Feng Jizhong flashed toward Xuanzhen's back; from the right side of his face, both palms hacked down as he made a motion to attack Xuanzhen's back. "High mountain flowing water!" he said. These two palms did not touch Xuanzhen's body at all; before everybody realized what had happened, he had already stood up in front of Xuanzhen's body, with both palms pressed against the pit of Xuanzhen's stomach, while letting Xuanzhen's fist to rest on his own lower abdomen, resuming the former position.

    These two men come and go so fast just like ghosts. Other than Wei Xiaobao, those who were present were all experienced and knowledgeable, yet they had never seen anything like Feng Jizhong’s unbelievable speed and agility. In their astonishment, they understood the intention of this demonstration. When fighting one against two, Xu Tianchuan was in an extremely dangerous situation; if he was being somewhat lenient toward Bai Hansong, perhaps it would be difficult for him to escape Bai Hanfeng’s ‘high mountain flowing water’ attack on his back.

    Xuanzhen said again, “Bai Er Xia, isn't the situation at that time like this?”

  6. #66
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 9 - Part 8

    Bai Hanfeng’s face was ash-grey, he slowly nodded. Feng Jizhong’s movements were like diving falcon, his speed made everybody dizzy, but the way he imitated the styles used by the brothers was without any mistake, exactly like the way Bai Hanfeng’s Shifu taught those techniques. The three stances, ‘dragon soars tiger leaps’, ‘high mountain flowing water’ and ‘sweeping away a thousand army’ were well-known styles of ‘Mu Family Fist’, which had spread all over the world, there were many people who knew these styles. It was not strange that Feng Jizhong was able to use it; but one person executing all three stances masterfully and with such speed from beginning to end, was indeed rarely seen. Moreover, each movement was very clear, each technique each style was executed perfectly; even though the two brothers had practiced the ‘Mu Family Fist’ all their lives, they still fell short by a wide margin.

    Feng Jizhong pulled back his palms and said, “Priest, please remove your Taoist robe, forgive my offense!”

    Xuanzhen was startled, he did not understand Feng Jizhong’s intention, but he followed his instruction anyway. Taking his Taoist robe off, he shook it lightly, and suddenly two piece of cloth, in the shape of a palm, fluttered down from the Taoist robe, as two palm-shaped holes appeared on the pit of the stomach of the Taoist robe. Turned out just now Feng Jizhong had shaken and tore the Taoist robe with his palm strength. Xuanzhen could not restrain his countenance from changing; involuntarily he held up his hand to the pit of his stomach, thinking that since Feng Jizhong’s palm strength had shaken his soft Taoist robe, he himself must have had suffered an internal injury. But after tracing around the pit of his stomach, he did not feel anything unusual.

    Feng Jizhong said, “The inherent power carried on Bai Da Xia’s palm was far stronger than mine. Xu Dage had already received serious internal injury on the pit of his stomach; added to that, he also received the two palm blows on his back from the ‘high mountain flowing water’. I am afraid his life is difficult to protect.”

    The people saw how Feng Jizhong was using a ‘yin’ and soft palm strength to cut two palm prints on Xuanzhen’s Taoist robe; this kind of power was more astonishing than his ability to simulate two persons at once, attacking from the front and the rear at the same time, which he demonstrated just a moment ago. Without exception they were all overwhelmed with amazement that they even forgot to cheer.

    Wei Xiaobao thought, “That day the old turtle Hai also cut a palm print on the chest of my gown, perhaps he was also using the same trick.”

    Su Gang and Bai Hanfeng looked at each other with dismayed expressions. They saw how Feng Jizhong’s level of martial art was far above either one of theirs. Also, with this demonstration, it appeared that although Xu Tianchuan had used a heavy hand and killed people, it was out of desperation where he did not have any other choice; he was under a converging attack from the Bai brothers and had to do everything in his power to defend himself, hence he could not be regarded to be in the wrong. Su Gang stood up and said, “This Master Feng has such a superior martial art skill and has really expanded Zaixia’s horizon today. If our Bai Da Di had Master Feng’s level of martial art, he couldn’t be killed by that surnamed Xu.”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “Bai Da Xia’s martial art skill was extremely high, everyone in Jianghu knows; Su Si Ge does not need to be polite.” Bai Hanfeng shot him a malicious look, but he could not say that his own brother’s martial art skill was no good. Wei Xiaobao also said, “Bai Er Xia’s martial art skill is also very high, everybody in Jianghu knows.”

    Fan Gang was afraid Wei Xiaobao might speak more nonsense and would create more side issues; he cupped his fist toward Su Gang and Bai Hanfeng and said, “We have disturbed you enough today, we’ll take our leave.”

    “Wait a moment!” Xuanzhen said, “We must go to Bai Da Xia’s presence and kowtow. This matter is indeed … ay, the mention of it will make everybody’s heart grieved; we must not harm the friendship between the Mu Palace and Tian Di Hui.” Finished speaking, he took a step toward the rear hall.

    Bai Hanfeng held up his hands to block, and said fiercely, “My Gege died without his eyes closed, I don’t need your hypocritical courtesy.”

    “Bai Er Xia,” Xuanzhen said, “Not to mention that it was a slip in a martial art competition and thus Bai Da Xia was accidentally injured, even if it were our Xu Dage’s fault, you cannot hate the entire Tian Di Hui. We are bowing in front of the departed spirit, it is to show yi qi to the fellow Wulin character of the same principle.”

    “The Priest is right,” Su Gang said, “Bai Er Di, we must not fail to show courtesy.”

    Immediately Wei Xiaobao, Xuanzhen, Fan Gang, Feng Jizhong, Yao Chun, Ma Boren, and the others kowtowed in front of Bai Hansong’s coffin together. While kowtowing, Wei Xiaobao was muttering to himself. He kowtowed three times, and then stood up. Bai Hanfeng asked sternly, “What did you say just now?”

    “I was praying quietly,” Wei Xiaobao said, “I was speaking to Bai Da Xia’s spirit in heaven, what does it concern you?”

    Bai Hanfeng said, “Your words were not clear, what did you pray?”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “I said, ‘Bai Da Xia, it’s alright for you to depart one step sooner. Zaixia Wei Xiaobao was beaten black and blue by your brother, I won’t live much longer, in a few days I am going to the netherworld and will meet you, Senior.”

    “When did I ever beat you?” Bai Hanfeng asked.

    Wei Xiaobao pulled up his sleeve to show his right wrist. It was swollen and turned into a black and purple circle, the finger marks were clearly visible. It was precisely the injury from Bai Hanfeng’s pinch a while ago. He said, “Isn’t this from your beating?”

    Su Gang cast a glance toward Bai Hanfeng; seeing he did not deny, Su Gang’s face revealed a slight blaming expression. He turned toward Wei Xiaobao and said, “Wei Xiangzhu, this matter is hard to explain in a few words. Let’s discuss it slowly at a later date.”

    “I am afraid my heavy injury is incurable that I will die soon,” Wei Xiaobao said, “There won’t be any later date for me to talk.”

    Su Gang could see that Wei Xiaobao could speak freely without any sign of internal injury; he knew Wei Xiaobao was just acting up. He thought, “How could Tian Di Hui have a young rascal like this as a Xiangzhu?” He said, “Wei Xiangzhu will live a long life reaching hundreds of years. When everybody else here has died, you will still live for a few dozen years.”

    “Right now my stomach feels as if it was twisted,” Wei Xiaobao said, “My five solid and six hollow organs[1] are all turned upside down; I don’t know if I’ll live until tomorrow. Feng Er Ge, Priest Xuanzhen, if I die, I don’t want you to find Bai Er Xia to seek revenge. In Jianghu, we uphold yi qi above everything else, we must not harm the friendship between the Mu Palace and Tian Di Hui.”

    Su Gang frowned, he sent everybody off outside the gate. Xuanzhen expressed his gratitude to Ma Boren, Yao Chun, Lei Yixiao and Wang Wutong, four people; he cupped his fist and took his leave. The Tian Di Hui entourage returned to the Return of Spring drugstore.

    As they reached the door, they knew something was amiss; the sales counter collapsed, the hundred plus small drawers in the drug store, as well as the drug ingredients, were scattered all over the floor. They all rushed in and called out several times, but there was no reply. When they reached the inner hall, they saw the fat shopkeeper and two shop assistants were lying dead on the floor. This drug store was located in a remote area, temporarily there were no curious onlookers congregating outside.

    Xuanzhen ordered Gao Yanchao, “Bar the door, don’t let unconcerned people come in. We’ll quickly look for Xu San Ge.”

    Pulling the trap door on the floor, they rushed into the basement, while calling out, “Xu San Ge, Xu San Ge!” But the basement was completely empty. Xu Tianchuan had disappeared without a trace.

    “His granny,” Fan Gang yelled angrily, “We’ll stake everything to fight those thieves from the Mu Palace to the death!”

    Xuanzhen said, “Quickly invite Wang Zongbiaotou and the others to come and be our witnesses. If the Mu Palace wanted to kill Xu San Ge, they would have done it here. Since he was taken captive, they would not harm him immediately.” Thereupon they dispatched a messenger to invite Wang Wutong, Yao Chun, and the others, four people, to come.

    Seeing the condition at which the fat shopkeeper died, Wang Wutong and the others were angered; they all said, “We mustn’t delay, let’s go immediately to Willow Tree Lane to demand for his return.” Right away they all trooped back to the Willow Tree Lane.

    Bai Hanfeng opened the door, “Why are gentlemen back?” he coldly asked.

    Fan Gang said in loud voice, “Bai Er Xia, why ask when you already know? This kind of despicable act will only make the Mu Palace lose face even more.”

    “Lose what face?” Bai Hanfeng angrily said, “What despicable act?”

    Fan Gang said, “Where is our Xu San Ge? Quickly hand him out. You people took advantage of our unguarded moment, you killed three shop assistants of our Return of Spring Hall drugstore; it was truly the lowest of low.”

    “Nonsense!” Bai Hanfeng shouted, “What Return of Spring Hall? What Return of Autumn Hall? What three shop assistants?”

    Hearing the commotion, Su Gang went out and asked, “Gentlemen have left and now are back, I wonder what instruction do you have for me?”

    “Su Si Xia,” Lei Yixiao said, “In this matter, you are in the wrong. Right or wrong cannot escape public opinion, even if you wanted to take revenge, you cannot randomly kill innocent people. If this matter spread out over the Capital, the implication may not be small.”

    “What are they talking about?” Su Gang asked Bai Hanfeng.

    “Who would know?” Bai Hanfeng replied, “I can’t make head or tail of it.”

    Wang Wutong said, “Su Si Xia, Bai Er Xia, in the place where Tian Di Hui took residence, three shop assistants have been murdered, Xu Tianchuan has also been kidnapped. About the right or wrong of this matter, we may talk it over later, but for now, please look at our faces and release Master Xu first.”

    Su Gang was puzzled, “Xu Tianchuan has been kidnapped?” he asked, “That’s really strange! You must be suspecting us as the culprit, we were together in here, could it be that we know the technique of doing several things at the same time?”

    Fan Gang said, “Naturally you sent someone else to do the job, what’s so difficult about that?”

    “There is nothing I can do if you don’t believe me,” Su Gang said, “If you want to come in and search, please be my guest.”

    Bai Hanfeng loudly said, “Divine Physician Hermit Su Gang, Su Si Ge always say one as one and two as two; when have he ever said half an empty word? Let me tell you frankly: if that old thief surnamed Xu ever fall into our hands, I will right away cut his body in two; who would have the patience of kidnapping him and nurturing him by wasting our rice?”

    Su Gang muttered hesitantly, “I am afraid there is something else behind this. Zaixia is being presumptuous here, but I am thinking of going to your precious Society’s residence to have a look, I wonder if I may?”

    Seeing these two people’s expression did not show any deceit, temporarily Xuanzhen and the others were unsure of what to do. Fan Gang said, “Su Si Xia, we all want you to give us your word: is our Xu Tianxhuan, Xu San Ge, in your hands or not?”

    Su Gang shook his head, “He is not,” he said, “I can also guarantee that our Bai Er Di has nothing to do with this matter.” Su Gang had a resounding reputation in Wulin, everyone knew he was an upright and just warrior; if he said he did not kidnap Xu Tianchuan, it must be the truth.

    Xuanzhen said, “In that case, I invite the two of you to have a look at our humble residence. Wei Xiangzhu, what do you think?”

    Wei Xiaobao thought, “You invited others to have a look first before asking me ‘what I think’.” He said, “Whatever Priest said, let it be done that way. After all, we have three people who were killed; we can ask these two gentlemen to kowtow several times to apologize, that is only proper.”

    Su Gang and Bai Hanfeng stared at him; they both thought, “You, little demon, flatly accuse us as the killer of your three people.”

    They returned to the Return of Spring drugstore. Su Gang and Bai Hanfeng examined the bodies of the fat shopkeeper and the two drugstore assistants carefully; they were beaten to death, the pit of their stomachs collapsed and their ribs broken. The technique used was ordinary, it was not the work of martial artists of any school.

    Bai Hanfeng said, “All of us must investigate this matter and bring it to light, otherwise we will suffer an unredressed injustice.”

    “Suffering an unredressed injustice is not a big deal,” Su Gang said, “Someday the truth will come to light. It’s just that Xu Dage has fallen into the enemy’s hands, we must think of a way to rescue him as soon as possible.”

    Everybody inspected the drugstore from front to rear, and top to bottom, they also scrutinized the basement, but did not find the least bit of clue. The sky had darkened; Su Gang, Bai Hanfeng, Wang Wutong and the others took their leave to return home. They agreed to separately investigate this matter within the Beijing city walls.

    Fan Gang said, “Su Si Xia, Bai Er Xia, have you looked everything clearly? At midnight tonight, we will send someone to set this building on fire, to destroy the bodies and leave no trace.”

    Su Gang nodded. “I have looked everything clearly,” he said, “Luckily the neighboring area is uninhabited. It’s good that you are going to burn the store down, to avoid the authorities making any inquiry.”

    After Su Gang and Bai Hanfeng left, the Green Wood Hall people had a lengthy discussion, they all agreed that Xu Tianchuan must be kidnapped by people from the Mu Palace; otherwise how could it happened exactly, not too long after, and not earlier than, after he killed someone from the opposite side, Xu Tianchuan disappeared without any trace? At most Su Gang and Bai Hanfeng, two people, did not know about it. Afterwards they discussed how they were going to set the house on fire. When Wei Xiaobao heard they were going to send someone to start the fire, he got very excited.

    Xuanzhen said, “Wei Xiangzhu, it’s getting late. You must hurry back to the Palace. We are sending someone to start the fire, it is not an important thing, Wei Xiangzhu does not need to be here to manage the general situation; it may be assumed that nothing will go wrong.”

    Wei Xiaobao said with a laugh, “Priest, we all are brothers, no need to flatter me. Although Wei Xiaobao is filling for the damn Xiangzhu position, in term of martial art skill and knowledge and experience, how can I surpass everybody here, Wulin experts? I want to stay here just to see the excitement, nothing more than that.”

    On the surface, these people were polite to him, but seeing his young age and how he made a fool of himself at the Bai family home, in reality they were rather looking down upon him. What he said actually cheer them up; those words had set the people’s hearts free from worry. Although their respect toward this young Xiangzhu did not increase, they felt several notches closer to him than before.

    Xuanzhen laughed and said, “It would be in the middle of the night before we start the fire, and we still have to contain the fire so that it won’t spread to neighboring houses. If Wei Xiangzhu does not return to the Palace for the entire night, I am afraid it would not be too convenient.”


    [1] From Faerie Queene’s note in White Hair Demoness: Five Zang, Six Fu, where the 5 Zang organs consisted of the liver, heart, spleen, lungs and kidney and are Yin in nature. The gallbladder, small intestine, stomach, large intestine, Urinary Bladder and San-Jian (triple warmers – upper, middle and lower) comprises the 6 Fu organs that are Yang in nature.

  7. #67
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 9 - Part 9

    Wei Xiaobao thought what he said actually made sense. The Palace gate was closed as soon as it was dark, nobody could get in or out. He was the young emperor’s favorite, everybody in the Palace had their eyes on him, if he violated the prohibition of spending the night outside, the charge against him would not be small. He could only sigh and said, “What a pity, what a pity! It would be extremely fun if I could be the one started the fire.”

    In a low voice Gao Yanchao said, “When in the future we burn other people’s house during the daytime, we will definitely respectfully invite Wei Xiangzhu to start the fire.”

    Wei Xiaobao was delighted; he grabbed Gao Yanchao’s hand and said, “Gao Dage, a real man gave his words, you … you must not forget.”

    Gao Yanchao smiled and said, “The matter that Wei Xiangzhu orders, how can subordinate dare not to obey?”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “How about tomorrow we go to the Willow Tree Lane and set the Bai family home on fire?”

    Gao Yanchao jumped in fright; he hastily said, “We must give it further thought before making a decision. If Zongduozhu finds out, most likely he would blame us.”

    Instantly Wei Xiaobao’s excitement abated; he changed back into his little eunuch attire. Gao Yanchao wrapped his new clothes, shoes and cap into a bundle and handed it over to him. They all looked around carefully, and after ascertaining that there were no people from the Mu Palace spying on them, they went out as a group with Wei Xiaobao in the middle to the side street, and then hiring a small sedan chair they sent him back to the Palace. Wei Xiaobao nodded to the brothers and climbed into the sedan chair. Gao Yanchao put the bundle of clothes and cap into the sedan chair. A Society brother stepped forward to the sedan chair and stuck his head inside; with a low voice he said, “Wei Xiangzhu, early tomorrow morning, it would be best if you could go to the Catering Department kitchen and take a look.”

    “Take a look at what?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

    “Nothing important,” the man replied, as he pulled his head back and withdrew.

    Wei Xiaobao could not remember his name, this man had a pair of rat moustache slanting to the side and a cunning face. The marketplace was full of small traders like this. He did not come with them to the Willow Tree Lane, Wei Xiaobao had always thought that he was one of the shop assistants. He wondered why that man asked him to go to the Catering Department kitchen the next day.

    In any case, inspecting the kitchen was precisely his responsibility, so early morning the next day, he just went. As soon as their immediate supervisor arrived, the eunuchs working in the kitchen, from the supervisors down to kitchen workers, were all busy serving him tea and delicacy. Wei Xiaobao ate several pieces of light refreshment and said, “The light refreshments you make in here is not bad, but it will be better if you learn some more from Yangzhou chefs.”

    “Yes, yes,” the eunuch supervisor busily said, “If not for Wei Gong-gong giving directions, we may not really understand.” [Translator’s note: I thought up to this moment Wei Xiaobao was still known as Gui Gong-gong, but both the book and the online text have Wei Gong-gong.]

    Seeing nothing unusual in the kitchen, Wei Xiaobao was about to go back to his room when he saw the eunuch in charge of purchasing returned from the marketplace, he was followed by a man with a shoulder pole in his hand. The man chuckled and said, “Yes, yes, yes, yes, just do whatever Gong-gong says, you can’t go wrong, guaranteed.”

    When Wei Xiaobao saw this man, he was shocked, because it was the same man who told him to go to the kitchen. The eunuch in charge of purchasing hurriedly went over to Wei Xiaobao to pay his respect. Pointing to the man, Wei Xiaobao asked, “Who is this?”

    The eunuch in charge of purchasing said with a laugh, “This is Boss Qian of the Qian Xinglong Meat Farmstead of Beicheng[1] disctrict. Today he came especially to flatter us by delivering more than a dozen fresh pigs personally to the Palace.” Turning toward Boss Qian, he said, “Old Qian, you are very lucky today. This is Gui Gong-gong, our Catering Department Manager, currently he is the number one favorite of His Majesty. We are serving in the Palace, yet we cannot casually see the Senior’s face. Your three generation ancestors must have had tapped wooden fish[2] that by lucky coincidence you get to see Gui Gong-gong.”

    Boss Qian kneeled down and kowtowed several times to Wei Xiaobao, saying, “Gong-gong is the one Xiaoren depends upon for our livelihood; only today by fate I can pay my respect, it is truly because the one surnamed Qian’s ancestor has amassed virtues.”

    “No need to be overly courteous,” Wei Xiaobao said, while thinking, “What is he doing, sneaking into the Palace like that? Why didn’t he tell me in advance?”

    Boss Qian stood up with a face full of smile, he said, “It is the Gong-gong of the Palace who make my business succeed. My price is especially low, I can’t say that I make any profit; however, serving meat to His Majesty, Princesses, and other royalties has given me an enormous face, when other people heard that even His Majesty ate the meat I offered, naturally my pork became number one in the world, no other meat business is able to surpass it. As a result, in only more than a year serving meat to the Palace, Qian Xinglong Meat Farmstead's business has grown several times over. It is all due to all Gong-gong patronizing my business." While saying that he repeatedly bowed to pay his respect.

    Wei Xiaobao nodded, he laughed and said, "You must be very rich then!"

    The man said, "It's all due to Gong-gong's great fortune." He pulled two banknotes from his pocket, with a grin he said, "Mere trifle, inadequate to show my appreciation; would Gong-gong please keep it to bestow reward to your subordinates." Finished speaking, he handed the banknotes over to Wei Xiaobao with both hands.

    Wei Xiaobao took the banknotes and looked, each banknote worth five hundred taels of silver, altogether there were one thousand taels; it was none other than the money he gave Gao Yanchao and the others the other day. Wei Xiaobao was slightly startled; he saw Boss Qian twisted his mouth toward the eunuch in charge of purchasing. Wei Xiaobao understood his intention; with a laugh he said, "Boss Qian is too polite!" He handed the banknotes over to the eunuch manager and said with a laugh, "Just divide Boss Qian's present among the boys, no need to give me any share."

    Seeing the thousand taels banknotes, the eunuchs were overjoyed at this unexpected fortune. Normally, the suppliers of pork, lamb, beef, poultry, fish and produce to the Palace would give them commission on a regular basis, and then some more during Chinese New Year or other festivities, but the gift was never more than four, five hundred taels, which the eunuch head of the Catering Department Manager would take more than half first. This time not only the commission was of a substantial amount, Wei Xiaobao also said that he did not want any share. When they divided the money, how could it not be a small undeserved fortune for each of them? However, the eunuch supervisor thought that when Gui Gong-gong in the mouth said he did not want it, it might be that he was only putting on airs in front of outsiders; he was the head, how could he waive his share just like that? Therefore, when he calculated everybody's share, he set aside the largest share to be given to Wei Xiaobao later.

    Boss Qian said, "Gui Gong-gong, you showed this kind of empathy when dealing with the other Gong-gong, it is truly rare. Since you are not willing to accept my gift, it is hard for Xiaoren to feel at ease in my heart. How about this: I have raised two Fu Ling [China root] Hua Diao [Shaoxing yellow wine] pigs; they can be considered famous and incomparably priceless. I am going to slaughter them as soon as I get home. I will present one to Empress Dowager and His Majesty, and will deliver the other one to Gong-gong's room, so that Gong-gong can sample it."

    "What Fu Ling Hua Diao pigs?" Wei Xiaobao asked, "The name sounds weird, I've never heard about if before."

    Boss Qian said, "It is a secret handed down from generation to generation in my family. First we select a good breed pig, then after it is weaned from its mother's milk, we feed it with Fu Ling, Dang Shen [codonopsis root, poor man's ginseng], Qi Zi [willow seed] and other tonics. Other than feeding on various tonics, it invariably ate chicken eggs; as for the drink, it only drank Shaoxing yellow wine ..."

    Before he even finished, the eunuchs roared in laughter; they said, "Where did you get such method of feeding pigs from? Won't it cost several hundred taels just to fatten one pig?"

    Boss Qian said, "The cost is naturally not small, but the most difficult thing is the meticulous care and the time."

    "Alright," Wei Xiaobao said, "I must have a taste of this strange pig."

    Boss Qian said, "I wonder what time this afternoon Gui Gong-gong will be free? Xiaoren will deliver it promptly."

    Wei Xiaobao thought that by the time he came down from the Upper Study Room, it would already be wu hour [11 am - 1 pm]; thereupon he said, "You may deliver it at the end of wu hour or beginning of wei hour [1 - 3 pm]!"

    "Yes, yes," Boss Qian repeatedly replied. Again he bowed and wished for Wei Xiaobao's well-being before he went out.

    "Gui Gong-gong," the eunuch supervisor approached Wei Xiaobao with a smile on his face, "When you see His Majesty later, you must not mention this matter."

    "Why?" Wei Xiaobao asked.

    The eunuch supervisor said, "His Majesty is young and curious, if he heard some bizarre thing like Fu Ling Hua Diao pigs, supposing he wanted to have it often, our responsibility as the servants would be too great. Besides, this kind of meat, which require untold hardship to feed and raise, will not come by too often, it won't be readily available any time. If His Majesty ate it and it suited his taste, he might issue an imperial decree for the kitchen to offer it daily, our share would only be to hang ourselves."

    Wei Xiaobao laughed aloud and said, "You have a thorough thought."

    The eunuch supervisor said, "This is the custom of the Catering Department handed down from generation to generation. In the dishes prepared for Empress Dowager and His Majesty, any seasonal fruits and vegetables must not be served."

    Wei Xiaobao was puzzled, "Seasonal fruits and vegetables must not be served?" he asked, "Are you saying that you are serving only out of date or fruits and vegetables that have been kept overnight?" Although he had been the head of the Catering Department for several months, he had never paid any attention to the imperial household's matter.

    The eunuch supervisor laughed and said, "Serving only out of date or fruits and vegetables that have been kept overnight, that we never dare. However, there are fruits and vegetables which are available only for one or two months over the entire year; this, we must not serve. Supposing His Majesty ate it and liked it, he might ask for winter bamboo shoot in the summer, or fresh broad bean in the winter, everybody will have no choice but to hang ourselves."

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, "Empress Dowager and His Majesty are completely enlightened sages, how can there be such thing?"

    The eunuch supervisor was apprehensive; "Yes, yes," he busily said, "Empress Dowager and His Majesty are enlightened sages; of course there is no such thing. I heard that was the custom handed down from generation to generation in the previous Ming Palace. When it got to our Great Qing, His Majesty always communicate his feeling reasonably; it is much easier for us the servants to do his bidding." In his heart, he was secretly anxious; he regretted that he had said those few sentences earlier.


    [1] Lit. northern city, similar to ‘dongcheng’ [eastern district] at the beginning of this chapter.

    [2] Percussion instrument used by Buddhists during rituals.

  8. #68
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 10 - Part 1

    Chapter 10 - Boastful talk enumerates shortcomings, each one as lofty as gentlemen's lavatory.
    (Translated by Foxs)


    LuDingJi-10.jpg

    The martial art masters displayed the most ingenious moves of their respective weapons, hacking diagonally, thrusting straight, cutting down, striking horizontally; their weapons were moving faster and faster. Ping Xi Wang Mansion’s sixteen escorts stood motionless, with arms hanging down and palms kept close to their thighs, their eyes looked straight forward, as if they did not see the martial art masters’ attack.

  9. #69
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 10 - Part 2

    After serving Kangxi, from the Upper Study Room Wei Xiaobao went down to the Catering Department. Not too long afterwards, Boss Qian, leading four helpers, arrived with two big fat pigs, already butchered and cleaned. Each one was more than three hundred catties. "Gui Gong-gong," he said to Wei Xiaobao, "You will get the most benefit from this Fu Ling Hua Diao pork if you take it as soon as you, Senior, wake up in the morning, it is best to have it cut and roasted immediately. Xiaoren will deliver one pig to your room; early in the morning tomorrow, you, Senior, may cut, roast and eat it immediately. What you can't finish, you can tell the kitchen to make salt-cured meat."

    Wei Xiaobao knew there must be a profound meaning behind all these, he said, "You are very considerate; come with me then."

    Boss Qian left one pig in the kitchen, and brought the other one to Wei Xiaobao's room. The Catering Department Head's dwelling was not far from the imperial kitchen. After the fat pig was delivered to his room, Wei Xiaobao ordered a little eunuch to take the helpers who carried the pig back to the kitchen and wait there. When the three people had left, he closed the door.

    "Wei Xiangzhu," Boss Qian said in low voice, "Is there anybody else in this building?" Wei Xiaobao shook his head. Boss Qian stooped down and gently turned the clean pig over. The pig's belly was slit all the way to its throat, with the opening stitched together with several crisscrossed pig skin.

    Wei Xiaobao thought, "There must be some strange thing hidden inside this fat pig's belly; perhaps some kind of weapon. Could it be that Tian Di Hui wants to kill people and create havoc in the Palace?" He could not stop his heart from thumping hard.

    Boss Qian carefully cut the pig skin and with both hands pulled the pig's belly apart, then he wrapped his arms around a big chunk of object and gently took it out. "Ah!" Wei Xiaobao cried out in alarm; he saw the big chunk of object was a person. Boss Qian laid the person on the floor. The person was small and slim with long hair; it was a thirteen, fourteen years old girl, wearing light cotton undergarment. Her eyes were tightly closed and she did not move at all, only her chest was fluctuating slightly.

    Wei Xiaobao was greatly surprised; he asked in low voice, "Who is this young miss? Why have you brought her here?"

    Boss Qian replied, "This is the Mu Palace's Princess[1]."

    Wei Xiaobao was even more amazed; with eyes opened wide he asked, "Mu Palace's Junzhu?"

    "Exactly," Boss Qian said, "She is the younger sister of Mu Palace's young master. They kidnapped Xu San Ge, so we kidnapped this Junzhu Niang-niang as a hostage, so that they won't dare to harm a single strand of Xu San Ge's hair."

    Wei Xiaobao was pleasantly surprised. "Brilliant plan, brilliant plan!" he said, "How did you kidnap her?"

    Boss Qian said, "Xu Tianchuan, Xu San Ge was kidnapped yesterday, for the second time Wei Xiangzhu led a group of brothers to the Willow Tree Lane to investigate. Subordinate went out on my own to inquire whether those Mu Palace people have other places where they stay temporarily other than the one on the Willow Tree Lane, perhaps Xu San Ge is being imprisoned in one of those places; I also wanted to know how many people they have in the Capital, so that if we really have to fight, we already have a background information in our hearts. Once the inquiry was made, hey, the number of Mu Palace people who come here is really a lot. The young master of Mu family takes the lead, followed by a large number of martial art experts."

    Wei Xiaobao frowned. "Damn it!" he said, "How many Green Wood Hall brothers do we have in the Capital? Can we fight them ten to one?"

    "Wei Xiangzhu does not need to worry," Boss Qian said, "This time Mu Palace people came to Beijing not to fight our Tian Di Hui. It's actually because the eldest son of the big traitor Wu Sangui, Wu Yingxiong has arrived in the Capital."

    Wei Xiaobao nodded. "The Mu Palace wants to assassinate this little traitor surnamed Wu?" he asked.

    "That's right," Boss Qian said, "Wei Xiangzhu has an incredible foresight. When the big traitor and little traitor are in Yunnan, they can't make any move. As soon as they leave Yunnan, then the opportunity arises. It's just that naturally this little traitor has a thorough protection, there are not a few martial art experts by his side, guarding him; to kill him is definitely not an easy matter. Those people from Mu Palace indeed have several other temporary residence, when subordinate went to check it out, those people were not home, there was not a trace of Xu San Ge either. There was only this little girl and two women looking after her left in the house. It was a golden opportunity which is hard to come by ..."

    "Therefore, you led a goat in passing, you pulled a pig with hands behind your back, and take her away?" Wei Xiaobao continued.

    Boss Qian smiled. "Exactly," he said, "Although this little Miss is young, the Mu Palace treats her as a phoenix; as long as this Xiao Junzhu is in our hands, Xu San Ge is as stable as Mount Tai, we don't have to worry that they won't take a good care of him."

    Wei Xiaobao said, "Qian Dage has indeed rendered a great merit."

    Boss Qian said, "Many thanks for Wei Xiangzhu's compliment."

    "Now that we have Xiao Junzhu, what do we do?" Wei Xiaobao asked, while stealing several glances toward the little girl lying on the floor. "This girl[2] looks quite beautiful," he mused.

    Boss Qian said, "If we say this matter is big, it is not, but it is not small either; I must listen to Wei Xiangzhu's advice on how to handle it."

    Wei Xiaobao hesitantly asked, "What do you think we should do?" Although his interaction with Tian Di Hui people was only over a short time, he had had a good grasp of their disposition. These people politely called him Xiangzhu, always said with their mouths that they were waiting for Xiangzhu's instruction and so on and so forth, in actuality, each one of them had already had an idea in their belly; they only wanted his approval, and thus they could push everything onto Wei Xiangzhu's head, so that it would be unlikely that in the future they would assume significant responsibility. His way of countering this was to answer a question with a question, "What do you think we should do?"

    Boss Qian said, "At present we only need to find a good hiding place for this Xiao Junzhu, so that the Mu Palace people won't be able to find her. This time the Mu family came to the Capital in really large number, although they are here to kill that little traitor Wu Yingxiong, we have killed their man, they have kidnapped Xu San Ge, right now they must be watching each one of our Tian Di Hui's residence and stop-over places closely. As soon as we stop to pee or let out a fart, I am afraid the Mu Palace people will know about it."

    "Pfft," Wei Xiaobao stifled his laugh; thinking that this Boss Qian's style of speaking was enjoyable, totally fit his spleen and stomach. “Qian Dage,” he said with a laugh, “Let’s sit down and discuss it slowly.”

    “Yes, yes, many thanks Xiangzhu,” Boss Qian said. He sat down on a chair and continued, “The reason subordinate hid Xiao Junzhu inside the pig’s belly and carried her into the Palace was, one, to avoid the Palace’s imperial bodyguards’ strict searching, two, to conceal it from Mu Palace people’s ears and eyes. His granny, I am afraid there are several really formidable characters among Mu Gongye's subordinates, we cannot not guard against them. If Xiao Junzhu is not hidden in the Palace, it's difficult to protect against them snatching her back."

    "So you say Xiao Junzhu ought to be hidden in the Palace?" Wei Xiaobao asked.

    "Subordinate does not dare to say so," Boss Qian said, "Everything is for Wei Xiangzhu to decide. If she is hidden the Palace, without a doubt she will be in the world's most secure place. Even if Mu Wangye has more martial art experts, they still can't stand up against Imperial Palace bodyguards. Xiao Junzhu is unexpectedly in the Palace, not only they would never imagine it, they would never find her. Even if they knew, how could they have the ability to break into the Palace to rescue her? If they could enter the Palace to rescue Xiao Junzhu, then technically they could even abduct the Tatar Emperor. There is no such logic in the world. It's just that subordinate was too daring, I did not ask for Wei Xiangzhu's instruction in advance, without permission I brought Xiao Junzhu into the Palace, placing Wei Xiangzhu in an even greater danger, adding greater inconvenience; indeed I deserve to die."

    Wei Xiaobao thought, "You have brought her into the Palace, then you say you deserve to die, yet you are not dead yet. Hiding Xiao Junzhu in the Palace is indeed an excellent plan; first, Mu Palace people will never think about it, second, they can never get her out. You are daring, could it be that my courage is inferior?" Thereupon he said with a laugh, "Your plan is very good; I'll hide Xiao Junzhu in here."

    "Yes, yes," Boss Qian said, "If Wei Xiangzhu says this is all right, then it is all right. Subordinate thinks that when this matter is over, we can always return Xiao Junzhu to them. When they find out Junzhu Niang-niang has been living in the Palace, it won't bring disgrace to her status. If she were kept in the basement of my slaughterhouse, and always smelled the stinky stench of cows' blood and pigs' blood, unavoidably it would be too unfair for her."

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, "Just feed her Fu Ling, Dang Shen, Shaoxing yellow wine, and chicken eggs, and she will be all right."

    "Heh, heh ..." Boss Qian laughed, he said, "Besides, although Xiao Junzhu is very young, she is a woman after all, if she stayed with us, stinky men, unavoidably her reputation would be tarnished. If she stays with Wei Xiangzhu, it won't matter."

    Wei Xiaobao was baffled, "Why?" he asked.

    "Wei Xiangzhu is also young," Boss Qian said, "Much less you are ... you are working in the Palace, naturally ... naturally it won't matter." He hummed and he hawed, as if it was somewhat inappropriate to talk.

    Seeing his embarrassed expression, Wei Xiaobao had to ponder for a moment before he finally understood: "You are saying that because I am a court eunuch, with me guarding Xiao Junzhu, her reputation won't be tarnished. But you don't know that I am a fake eunuch." It was precisely because he was not a real eunuch that he had to think before he understood; otherwise, as soon as Boss Qian spoke the first sentence, he would have understood.

    Boss Qian asked, "Is Wei Xiangzhu's bedroom inside?" Wei Xiaobao nodded. Boss Qian bent over to pick Xiao Junzhu up and brought her in, and lay her down on the bed. Originally there was a big bed and a small bed in the bedroom. After Hai Tianfu's death, Wei Xiaobao had the small bed removed. He had too much secret in him that he did not want any little eunuch staying with him to look after him.

    Boss Qian said, "When subordinate carried Xiao Junzhu into the Palace, I sealed the Shen Tang and Yang Gang acupoints on her back, and also the Tian Zhu acupoint on the back of her neck, so that she wouldn't be able to move or say anything. When Wei Xiangzhu wants to feed her, you need to unseal her acupoints; however, it is best if you seal the Huan Tiao[3] acupoint on her leg first, so that she won't run away. Mu Palace people have very high level of martial art skill; most likely this little Miss does not know much martial art, but we can’t not guard against her.”

    Wei Xiaobao wanted to ask him what Shen Tang and Huan Tiao were, or how to seal and unseal acupoints, but changed his mind because he thought that he was the Green Wood Hall’s Xiangzhu, plus he was also Zongduozhu’s disciple, if even sealing and unsealing acupoints he did not know, wouldn’t his underlings despise him even more? Besides, dealing with a young girl should not be difficult; thereupon he nodded and said, “I understand.”

    Bos Qian said, “May I borrow a knife from Wei Xiangzhu?”

    Wei Xiaobao wondered in his heart, “What do you want a knife for?” But he pulled the dagger from his boot and handed it over to him.

    Receiving the dagger, Boss Qian made a cut on the back of the pig. He did not expect the dagger to have unmatched sharpness, able to cut pork just like cutting tofu, as soon as the dagger cut, it went down all the way to the hilt. Boss Qian was startled; “Good blade!” he praised. He cut two pieces of meat from the back and two forelegs, he said, “Wei Xiangzhu may roast these and eat, tell the little gong-gong to bring the rest back to the kitchen. Subordinate takes my leave now. If there is anything concerning our Society, subordinate can come anytime to report to Wei Xiangzhu.”

    “Good!” Wei Xiaobao said, while taking his dagger back. He cast a glance to the Xiao Junzhu lying on the bed and said, “This girl[4] sleeps so peacefully.” He wanted to say, “If this little miss stayed in the Palace for a long time, it would be extremely dangerous. If somebody found out, it would be really bad.” But he thought: how could a hero and warrior of Tian Di Hui afraid of danger? If those words ever come out of his mouth, unavoidably he would be despised by others.

    As soon as Boss Qian left for the kitchen, Wei Xiaobao bolted the door and inspected the window to make sure there was no crack at all, before going to sit by the bedside. Looking at the Xiao Junzhu, he saw she had just opened her big round eyes and was looking at the top of the bed. Seeing Wei Xiaobao walked in, she hastily closed her eyes. Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “You can’t move, you can’t speak, you can only lying quietly in here, nothing’s sweeter than that.” Looking at her clothes, he noticed it was not soiled at all, he thought Boss Qian must have cleaned the pig’s belly very well that not even the slightest blood stain left; thereupon he pulled the quilt over her body. He saw her cheeks were snow white, without any blood at all; her long eyelashes trembled continuously, apparently she was very scared. He laughed and said, “Don’t be afraid, I won’t kill you. In a few more days, I will let you out.”

    Xiao Junzhu opened her eyes and looked at him, but instantly closed her eyes again. Wei Xiaobao mused, “In Jianghu your Mu Palace has great power and prestige. That day along the way north of Jiangsu your family’s Bai Hansong was very arrogant, he did not consider laozi in his eyes at all, but right now he is dead, killed by my subordinate. His granny …” Thinking to this point, he stretched out his hand and looked at his wrist, on which the black purplish circle around it had not vanished, and he could still faintly feel the pain. He mused, “That Bai Hanfeng’s Gege is dead, since he could not vent his anger, he pinched laozi’s bone that it almost broke; who could have thought that Mu Palace’s Junzhu Niang-niang has fallen into my hands? If Laozi wants to hit I can just hit, if I want to curse I can just curse, you can’t move even for half a fen, ha ha!” In his complacency, he could not refrain from letting out an audible laugh.

    Xiao Junzhu heard the laughter and opened her eyes to see why he was laughing. Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “You are a Junzhu Niang-niang, and you feel great, aren’t you? Your granny, in laozi’s eyes you are nothing!” Taking a step forward, he grabbed her right ear and pulled it three times, then he pinched her nose and twisted it twice, while laughing out loud.

    Tears flowing out of Xiao Junzhu’s closed eyes, two streaks of pearl rolled down the sides of her face. “Don’t cry!” Wei Xiaobao shouted, “When laozi tells you not to cry, you must not cry!” But Xiao Junzhu’s tears flowed even more. “Hot piece mama, stinky ‘little mother’s skin’, you are so stubborn!” Wei Xiaobao cursed, “Open your eyes, look at me!”

    Xiao Junzhu closed her eyes tighter, Wei Xiaobao said, “Ha, you still think you are in the Mu Palace, your mama! Your family’s Liu, Bai, Fang and Su, four great generals, what’s so damn special about them? There will come a day when they will fall into laozi’s hands, each and every one of them will be beheaded and chopped into mincemeat.” Raising his voice he shouted again, “Are you going to open your eyes or not?”

    Xiao Junzhu strained to keep her eyes closed. Wei Xiaobao said, “Alright, you are unwilling to open your eyes, then what’s the purpose of your pair of eyeballs? I’d better dig them out and eat them to accompany laozi’s wine.” While saying that, he placed the flat edge on her eyelid and dragged it back and forth several times.

    Xiao Junzhu’s entire body trembled in fright, but still she did not open her eyes. Wei Xiaobao was at a loss of what to do. He said, “You don’t want to open your eyes, but I want you to open your eyes. We’ll see between the two of us, is it you, Junzu Niang-niang more formidable, or is it me, a little ruffian, the little beggar more formidable. For the time being I am not going to dig your eyeballs; if I do, you will win, since you won’t see me forever. I am going to carve some drawings on your cheeks with the tip of my dagger. Left side will be a little turtle, right side will be a pile of cow dung. After the cut become a scar in the future, when you go out on the street, thousands upon thousands people will surround you and look at you; they will say, ‘Pretty, pretty, come and look at Mu Palace’s young beauty, with a tortoise on her left cheek and a pile of cow dung on the right cheek.’ Are you or are you not going to open your eyes?”


    [1] Orig. 郡主 [Jun Zhu]. I want to distinguish between 公主 [Gong Zhu], Princess, a title denoting blood-relation to the Emperor, and 郡主 [Jun Zhu], Princess, indicating a non-royal relation, such as Duke or Count. Perhaps from now on I'll retain the title Junzhu. [Side note: Zhao Min of HSDS was also a Junzhu, not a Gongzhu]

    [2] Orig. Xiao Niang Pi [小娘皮] – little mother’s skin, perhaps a Yangzhou slang?

    [3] Lit. 'divine hall', 'yang [positive] link], 'pillar of heaven', and 'jump the hoop', respectively.

    [4] Xiao Niang Pi, see note 2above.

  10. #70
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 10 - Part 3

    Xiao Junzhu could not move her body at all, the only decision she could make was to open her eyes or not. Hearing Wei Xiaobao’s words, she closed her eyes even tighter. Wei Xiaobao thought aloud, “Turns out this stinky b1tch does not like her own face of being not beautiful, so she wants me to decorate her face. Alright, I will draw the turtle first!” He opened the ink slab on the table and rubbed the ink stick, then dipped the writing brush into the ink. The ink slab and brush used to belong to Hai Laogong. Wei Xiaobao had never touched a pen in all his life, right now he was holding the pen like holding chopsticks. He started to draw a small turtle on Xiao Junzhu’s left cheek.

    Xiao Junzhu’s tears flowed down her cheek, leaving a streak mark on the drawing of the turtle.

    Wei Xiaobao said, “I am drawing with a pen first, then I’ll carve it with the dagger. It’s just like people making stamp. Right, right, Junzhu Niang-niang, when we are done, I’ll take you to the main street of Chang’an’s city gate, I’ll call out, ‘Which guest would like to have a turtle print? Three wen a sheet.’ I’ll apply black ink to your face, and when someone gives me money, I’ll put a piece of white paper on your face, and there’s the turtle, very quick! One day I can print a hundred sheets; that will be three hundred wen of copper, enough for me to splurge.” While chattering, he peeked to see Xiao Junzhu’s expression, and saw that her eyelashes were trembling incessantly; clearly she was angry, but also scared. Wei Xiaobao was very proud of himself. “Um,” he said, “A pile of cow dung on the right cheek; but nobody would buy a print of cow dung. I’d rather carve a pig, a fat and stupid pig. Business is going to be good.”

    Raising the pen, he made a drawing on her right cheek. Whatever it was, it has four legs and a tail, it could be a cat or a dog. Putting the pen down, he took a pair of silver scissors and gently placed the scissors on Xiao Junzhu’s left cheek. “You don’t open your eyes, I am going to carve the picture!” he shouted, “I’ll carve the turtle first, the fat pig can wait later.”

    Xiao Junzhu’s tears gushed out, but clearly she did not want to open her eyes. Wei Xiaobao did not have any choice, since he did not want to admit defeat, he had to gently run the point of the scissors over her face to draw. The point of the scissors was actually very blunt, although Xiao Junzhu’s skin was very delicate, there was no way the scissors would harm her. However, she was so frightened that all she knew was that this evil man was carving her face with a knife. She gasped for breath, and then passed out.

    Seeing her different expression, Wei Xiaobao was afraid that he had scared her to death; he was shocked, and hastily held out his hand to feel her breathing. Fortunately she was still breathing, thereupon he said, “Stinky girl, you pretend to die!” He mused, “Even if you have to die you are not willing to open your eyes; will I have to submit to you?” Fetching a wet cloth, he wiped the black ink off her face. He had to wipe it three times before her face was clean.

    Seeing her thin eyebrows and long eyelashes, her small mouth and stuck out nose, her exquisite features and beautiful countenance, Wei Xiaobao thought aloud, “You are a Junzu Niang-niang, I am sure you are looking down on a little eunuch like me, but I am also looking down on you; won’t that make us even?”

    After a while, Xiao Junzhu slowly regained her consciousness. As soon as she opened her eyes, she saw Wei Xiaobao’s eyes were less than a chi apart from her own eyes; he was staring maliciously at her. She could not help but was shocked and hastily closed her eyes again. Wei Xiaobao laughed heartily and said, “Finally you open your eyes to look at me. Laozi has won, hasn’t he?”

    Knowing that he had won, his heart was very happy; however, Xiao Junzhu was unable to speak, so unavoidably he was rather disappointed. He was thinking of unsealing her acupoints, but he did not know how; he said, “Your acupoints were sealed, if they are not unsealed, you can’t eat, won’t you be starved to death then? Actually, I am thinking of unsealing your acupoints. I have learned the unsealing acupoints technique in the past, but now I already forget. Can you? If you can’t, just lie down perfectly still, don’t make any move. But if you can, blink your eyes three times.”

    He fixed his gaze on Xiao Junzhu, but she did not move at all. Only after a long time suddenly her eyes slowly blinked three times. Wei Xiaobao was delighted; he said, “I only know that Mu Palace people are all surnamed Mu, so each and every one of you must be a blockhead [surname ‘Mu’ sounds like ‘wood’], with stupid head and stupid brain, don’t know anything. Turns out you, blockhead, still know how to unseal acupoints.”

    He carried her off and sat her on a chair; he said, “Pay attention, I will point to various position on your body one by one; if I point to the correct position, blink your eyes three times, if it is incorrect, just open your eyes wide, do not move at all. When I've found the sealed acupoint, I will unseal it for you, do you understand? If you do, blink your eyes."

    Xiao Junzhu blinked three times. Wei Xiaobao nodded. "Very good!" he said, "I'll start pointing." Wei Xiaobao held out a hand and pointed to the right side of her chest, "Is it here?" he asked.

    Immediately Xiao Junzhu's face blushed deep red, but she kept her eyes wide open. How could she dare to blink even once? Wei Xiaobao pointed to the left side of her chest and asked, "Is it here?"

    Xiao Junzhu's face was even redder; she had opened her eyes for a long time, and now she could not help but blinking one time. "Ah!" Wei Xiaobao exclaimed loudly, "It's here!"

    Xiao Junzhu hastily opened her eyes wide; she was ashamed, anxious, and unspeakably distressed. These two people were both about thirteen, fourteen years old; about the matter between a man and a woman, they seemed to understand, but not quite understand. It's just that girls usually understand human affairs earlier than boys. Wei Xiaobao grew up in a brothel, he observed plenty of indecent interaction between brothel customers and the prostitutes on daily basis. Although did not understand the idea behind it, he always knew that those actions were not appropriate.

    Seeing her in such a distressing situation, Wei Xiaobao was very proud of himself. He felt that at this moment, the disgrace he experienced at the Willow Tree Lane the previous day had been vented, it had been avenged. He pointed to the east and to the west, all over Xiao Junzhu's body. Xiao Junzhu struggled with everything she had to keep her eyes open wide, she did not dare to blink ever so slightly, for fear that if she was not careful and blinked unintentionally, the important matter would be spoiled. Not too long afterwards, tiny beads of perspiration were beginning to form on the tip of her nose. Luckily right that moment Wei Xiaobao happened to point to her left underarm, the correct location of the acupoint needed to be unsealed; hastily she blinked three times. Her heart was relieved, she heaved a deep sigh.

    "Ha ha," Wei Xiaobao laughed, "It's here alright. It's not that laozi did not know, it's just that my memory is not good, momentarily I did not remember." He thought, "After her acupoint has been unsealed, I don't know how good her martial art skill is, if this little girl started beating people, it would be troublesome." Turning around, he fetched two waistbands and tied her feet together firmly first, and then he tied her hands to the back of the chair.

    Xiao Junzhu did not know how he was going to add to her torment, involuntarily her face showed a panic-stricken expression. "You are scared of me, aren't you?" Wei Xiaobao said with a laugh, "Since you are scared, laozi will unseal your acupoint." Reaching out toward her left armpit, he gently scratched several times.

    Xiao Junzhu felt the itch was very difficult to bear, but she was unable to move, so her face buldged very red.

    Wei Xiaobao said, "I used to be an expert in sealing and unsealing acupoints technique, it's just that laozi is extremely busy lately; I don't have time to think about trivial things like this, so I kind of forget. Is this how you unseal acupoint?" While saying that, he massaged her armpit several times.

    Xiao Junzhu felt another burst of unbearable itch, her face showed a slight anger.

    Wei Xiaobao said, "This is my most profound unsealing acupoint technique. The more profound technique is only effective if used on a superior quality person. You, this little girl, are not a superior quality person, if first-class technique is being used on your body, indeed it won't have any effect. Alright, I will try using the second-class technique." Stretching out his finger, he poked her armpit several times.

    Xiao Junzhu felt itchy and hurt, tears streaming down from her eyes.

    "Uh, second-class technique won't do the job either," Wei Xiaobao said, "Could it be that you are a third-class girl? I have no choice, I will have to try the third-class technique." Raising his palm, he slapped her armpit once, still nothing happened.

    Sealing acupoint is an advanced skill in the study of martial art. The martial art practitioner must have an extremely strong foundation, must receive clear direction of a master, and must train assiduously for several years before he can master the technique. Sealing and unsealing acupoints are the two sides of a coin, if one knows to seal acupoints, one will also know how to unseal acupoints. One must be able to accurately locate the acupoint, and the finger must have the right combination of hard and soft inner force before one could either seal or unseal another person's acupoint. Wei Xiaobao did not have any internal energy, and he had never learned how to seal acupoints; with just random guess and trial-and-error, how could he be able to unseal Xiao Junzhu's acupoint?

    Slapping failed, he changed into grabbing. Grabbing did not work, he changed into twisting. Xiao Junzhu was both angry and anxious; she could not stop tears from flowing down her face. By this time Wei Xiaobao no longer had the intention to torment her; he had been busy for half a day, yet failed to unseal her acupoint. His own forehead was wet with perspiration, out of shame, unavoidably he became somewhat angry. "I have even used the eighth-class technique, but it feels like a mouse trying to pull a tortoise; it is completely useless. Could it be that you are a ninth-class girl? Laozi is a man of dignity, a man with a long history, I had determined not to use the ninth-class martial art. However, it seems to me that your Mu Palace people are all damn rotten blockheads, with wooden heads and wooden brains, simple intelligence and simple[1] feeling. Let me tell you this: in spite of my own dignity right now, I am going to try the ninth-class martial art against your ninth-class 'little mother’s skin' body.”

    Immediately he bent his middle finger and used his thumb to hold it, and then putting forth his strength he flicked it away toward Xiao Junzhu’s armpit, while saying, “This is ‘flicking cotton’.” And then he sang a nursery rhyme, “Clap, clap, clap, flick the cotton. The cotton stinks, fry the black soybean. The black soybean is burnt, mix it with pepper. The pepper’s hot, raise a pagoda. The top of the pagoda is pointy, penetrating the sky. The sky drops the rain, creates a landslide, let your Mu family’s wooden head wooden brain, dog head and dog brain, your great ancestors of eighteen generation, slip!”

    As he sang a line, a flicked once; successively flicking for a dozen times. When he sang the last word, Xiao Junzhu suddenly let out an ‘Oh!’, and broke into a cry. Wei Xiaobao was ecstatic, he sprang up and leaped up and down, while laughing and saying, “I told you, Mu Palace’s little girl is indeed a ninth-class little thing, must be dealt with using the ninth-class martial art.”

    Crying, Xiao Junzhu said, “You … you are the … the … the … the ninth-class …” her voice was melodious, tender and lovely, with a soft Yunnan accent; it was unspeakably pleasant to the ear.

    Using a falsetto, Wei Xiaobao imitated her, “You … you are the … the … the … the ninth-class …” and then he burst out laughing.

    What happened was when he randomly flicked, he repeatedly hit the Ye Yuan[2] Acupoint on Xiao Junzhu’s armpit. The Ye Yuan acupoint belongs to the Foot Shaoyang Channel of the Gall Bladder, it is located three cun below the armpit. Various acupoints on human head, such as Si Kong Zhu, Yang Bai, Lin Qi[3], and the others belong to this channel. He had grabbed, twisted, hit and flicked this Ye Yuan acupoint. Although his hand strength was insufficient, but after a long time, the various acupoints on Xiao Junzhu’s head were activated, so then her speech was not obstructed.

    Seeing he was unexpectedly able to unseal Xiao Junzhu’s acupoint, Wei Xiaobao was extremely happy; almost instantly his animosity against the Mu Palace was largely gone. He said, “My tummy is hungry, I assume you are not full either, I’d better give you something to eat first.” He was a glutton to begin with, now that he became the head of the Catering Department, all his subordinates in supervisory positions were currying his favor by instructing the kitchen to deliver all kinds of fresh delicacies to him daily. He wandered around on the streets day in and day out, he would buy whatever pastry or candy he saw in the marketplace; therefore, there were countless bottles, jars, small boxes, and small bamboo deep baskets in his rooms, all filled with bits and pieces of delicacies. A teenager with several hundred thousand taels in his hands, a glutton and a spender by nature, how could he resist from buying all these snacks?

    He took out the delicacies and said, “This is rose mung bean cake, try it.” Xiao Junzhu shook her head. Wei Xiaobao picked another box and opened the lid, he said, “This is Beijing’s famous delicacy, the yellow pea. I am sure you don’t have it in Yunnan. Try one piece!” Xiao Junzhu shook her head again. Wei Xiaobao wanted to show off his belongings, so he piled all sorts of cakes, pastries and candies on the table. “Look,” he said, “Don’t you think I have a lot of goodies? Even though you are a Junzhu of a palace, most likely you have never had these many delicacies. If you don’t like to eat sweets, try our kitchen’s crispy thin fried onion, it’s a rarity in the world. Even His Majesty loves it. Try one, I guarantee you’ll like it.” Xiao Junzhu still shook her head. In succession Wei Xiaobao presented seven, eight of his best collections, Xiao Junzhu always shook her head.

    Wei Xiaobao’s anger shot to the roof. “Stinky girl, your mouth is so picky, you don’t want this, you don’t want that, what is it that you want?” he asked.

    Xiao Junzhu said, “I … I don’t want to eat anything …” but she only said those words and broke into a sob.

    Hearing her cry, Wei Xiaobao’s heart softened somewhat. “If you don’t want to eat anything,” he said, “Are you going to starve yourself to death?”

    “I … I’d rather die of starvation,” Xiao Junzhu replied.

    “I can’t believe you really want to starve yourself to death,” Wei Xiaobao said.

    At this moment, someone lightly knocked the door. Wei Xiaobao knew it must be the little eunuch delivering his meal. Afraid that Xiao Junzhu might make noise and alert other people, Wei Xiaobao fetched a piece of towel and tied it around Xiao Junzhu’s mouth before opening the door. He told the little eunuch, “Today I’d like to have Yunnan dish; tell the kitchen to make some immediately and have it sent here.” The little eunuch complied and left.

    Wei Xiaobao brought the meal into his room. He took off the towel on Xiao Junzhu’s mouth and sat down across from her. He laughed and said, “If you don’t want to eat, then I’ll eat. Mmmm, this is fried beef in thick soya sauce, this is fish fillet pickled in wine, this is sliced beef in garlic paste, and then there’s Zhenjiang salted meat, plain pan-fried shrimp, and a bowl of chicken feet and koumo mushroom soup; all are incomparably tasty. Delicious! Delicious!” He scooped a spoonful of soup, intentionally slurped and smacking his lips noisily. But when he stole a glance at the Xiao Junzhu, he saw tears streaming down her face; she did not show the slightest desire to eat at all.

    Wei Xiaobao’s enthusiasm was doused; he said resentfully, “Turns out a ninth-class little girl only loves to eat ninth-class stinky fish, stinky meat, stinky duck egg; here I have first-class dishes and delicacies, which are for first-class people only. Just wait and I’ll have stinky fish, stinky meat, stinky duck egg and stinky tofu delivered here for you to eat.”

    Xiao Junzhu said, “I don’t eat stinky duck egg and stinky tofu.”

    Wei Xiaobao nodded and said, “Um, turns out you only eat stinky fish and stinky meat.”

    “You love talking nonsense,” Xiao Junzhu said, “I don’t eat stinky fish and stinky meat.”

    Wei Xiaobao ate several chopsticks of shrimp and a piece of salted meat. “The flavor is really good,” he praised. Seeing all along the Xiao Junzhu was unmoved, he lay down the chopsticks, while pondering in his heart how to make her beg for food.

    Quite a while later, the little eunuch came back delivering the ordered meal. “Gui Gong-gong,” he said, “The chef told Xiao Ren to report to Gong-gong: this Guo Qiao rice noodle [vermicelli] soup is extremely hot. It doesn’t seem to emit any steam, but it is very hot. This Xuanwei Huo Jiao[4] was cooked in preserved sweet lotus seed; it was cooked in a hurry, perhaps it is not very tender, the chef asked Gong-gong to excuse him. This one is Yunnan’s black big-head vegetable [rutabaga]. This dish is Erhai Lake of Dali’s Gong Yu Gan[5], although it wasn’t fresh, it is still very rare; it was fried in Yunnan’s red flower oil. In this pot is Pu’er tea of Yunnan. The chef said that the famous steamed chicken of Yunnan takes more than four hours to be cooked well, it will be evening before we can deliver it to Senior, Gui Gong-gong.”

    Wei Xiaobao nodded. After the little eunuch left, he brought all the dishes into his room.

    The imperial kitchen had managed to prepare four types of authentic Yunnan cuisine in such a short moment, their skill could be considered first-rate. Actually, with Wu Sangui being the Ping Xi Wang in Yunnan, although he was domineering, still, on Chinese New Year and other festivities, he would pay tribute to the imperial household, and give holiday gifts to various princes and dukes; his generosity was matchless, ten times more lavish than his peers, as a result, the number of people who speak on his behalf in the imperial court was indeed not just a few. When Wu Sangui sent his tribute to the Emperor, other than gold, silver and jewels, ivory, rhinoceros horn and other precious articles, he also sent all kinds of Yunnan local products, everything that was expected to be found in Yunnan. Because of this, it was not difficult at all for the imperial kitchen to prepare tasty Yunnan dishes in such a short time.


    [1] Orig. 'wooden intelligence and wooden feeling', the dictionary says that the character 'wood' can also means 'simple', which I feel that in this case it is more appropriate.

    [2] Lit. ‘armpit abyss’ or ‘armpit deep pool’.

    [3] Lit. ‘silk Chinese yo-yo’, ‘yang/positive white’, ‘just before sobbing’. [The names do not make any sense, I know; I am just translating the names literally.]

    [4] Xuanwei is a county level city in Qujing, Yunnan; ‘huo jiao’ is fire foot. [Several paragraphs later, I found Jin Yong changed it to ‘huo tui’, (lit. fire leg/thigh), which is ‘ham’. So I believe it was another typographical error on Jin Yong’s side.]

    [5] Gong – work/labor/craft, Yu – fish, Gan – dry. I am not sure what it is.

  11. #71
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 10 - Part 4

    Actually, Xiao Junzhu was hungry, seeing these tasty dishes from her hometown, she could not stop her heart from being moved; however, Wei Xiaobao had indeed bullied her really bad, so she was unwilling to yield. She was determined: “No matter how this little vile creature entices me, I am not going to eat.”

    Wei Xiaobao picked a piece of bright red and fragrant Xuanwei ham with his chopsticks and held it close to Xiao Junzhu’s mouth; he laughed and said, “Open your mouth!” Xiao Junzhu gnashed her teeth and shut her mouth tight. Wei Xiaobao rubbed the ham back and forth on her lips, so that her lips were covered in grease; he said with a laugh, “Be a good girl and eat this ham, then I will unseal your acupoint.” Xiao Junzhu shook her head with mouth closed tight.

    Wei Xiaobao put down the ham, he opened the lid of the hot soup, and maliciously said, “This soup is extremely hot. If you are willing to eat, I am going to wait until it cools down a little, I’ll feed you slowly, a spoon by a spoon. If you don’t want to eat? Humph, humph!” Reaching out with his left hand, he pinched her nose.

    Her breathing obstructed, Xiao Junzhu had no choice but to open her mouth. Wei Xiaobao picked a porcelain spoon with his right hand and stuffed it into her mouth, saying, “I will force the hot soup in like this, so it will scald your intestines!” Only after letting Xiao Junzhu gasping for breath for a moment did he take out the porcelain spoon from her mouth with his left hand.

    Xiao Junzhu knew that Guo Qiao vermicelli soup was actually half oil, it was several times hotter than ordinary soup; if he really forced the soup into her throat, she might really die of scalding. She cried and said, “You carved my face, I … I don’t want to live anymore, so grotesque …”

    Wei Xiaobao mused, “Turns out you really believe I carved a turtle on your face.” He smiled and said, “Although you face has an engraving on it, this little turtle is very beautiful, when you go out on the street, I guarantee everybody will cheer and applaud!”

    “It’s dead ugly,” Xiao Junzhu said, “I … I’d rather die.”

    “Ay, such a pretty little turtle,” Wei Xiaobao said, “You really don’t want it? If I knew, I would not have to put that much thought into carving it on your face.”

    “What carving?” Xiao Junzhu said, “I … I am not a blockhead either.”

    “But your surname is clearly Mu,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “What do you mean you are not a blockhead?”

    “My family’s surname, the character Mu [沐],” Xiao Junzhu said, “is the Mu [木, wood] with three ‘water’ [氵] radical, not the ‘wood’ from the ‘wooden head’ [木头, blockhead].”

    Wei Xiaobao could not tell those two ‘Mu’ characters apart, he said, “If you put a blockhead in the water, it’s no more than a piece of rotten blockhead.” Xiao Junzhu cried again.

    “Why do you have to cry all the time?” Wei Xiaobao said, “If you call me ‘good Gege’ three times, I will fix your face, I will scrape the little turtle off so that not the least bit of trace will remain.”

    Xiao Junzhu blushed. “How can you scrape it off?” she asked, “If you scrape my face again, how will it look?”

    “I have an effective cure, miracle medicine,” Wei Xiaobao said, “On a first-class hero and warrior, of course it is rather difficult to fix. But you are a ninth-class little girl, fixing your face is really easy.”

    “I don’t believe you,” Xiao Junzhu said, “You just love to deride others.”

    “Are you going to call or not?” Wei Xiaobao said. With a blushing face, Xiao Junzhu shook her head.

    Looking at her loveable and bashful appearance, Wei Xiaobao was unable to stop his heart from being moved. “The little turtle was carved not too long ago,” he said, “It is really easy to fix. If you wait longer, it is going to be more difficult. If the tail of the turtle remained and can’t be fixed, I am afraid you will regret it later.”

    Although Xiao Junzhu was half believing and half doubting his words, she was anxious to try it; supposing he was right, that in the future a turtle tail remained on her face, it would be extremely unsightly. Her face grew even redder as she whispered, “You … you are not deceiving me?”

    “Why would I deceive you?” Wei Xiaobao said, “The sooner you call, the sooner I will start, the better the fix on your face will be. Quickly call me!”

    Xiao Junzhu said, “What if … what if after I call you, your fix failed?”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “Then I will reimburse you double, I will call you ‘good Meimei’ six times!”

    Xiao Junzhu’s entire face turned deep red. “You are very bad, I won’t call!” she said.

    “Alright,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Since you don’t trust me, we’ll make a deal. You call me ‘good Gege’ one time first, then after I fix your face, you call me the second time. I’ll have a mirror so that you can see it for yourself, if really not a scar is left, you are fully satisfied, you call me the third time. Who knows? Perhaps you will be very happy that you’ll call me ten times in a row.”

    “No, no,” Xiao Junzhu hastily said, “You said three times, how can you add to that number?”

    Wei Xiaobao smiled. “Alright, three times it is,” he said, “Just call me quickly!” Xiao Junzhu moved her lips several times, but each time she could not call.

    “What’s so hard about calling me ‘good Gege’?” Wei Xiaobao said, “I did not ask you to call me ‘good husband’, or ‘dear husband’. If you don’t call quickly, my price will go up.”

    Xiao Junzhu was afraid he might really force her to call him ‘husband’; stuttering, she said, “I will say the first word, after you really fix my face, I will continue with the next … the next two words.”

    Wei Xiaobao sighed and said, “Ay, you really know how to haggle over the price. Giving the money first or giving the money later is just the same. Alright, you call!”

    Xiao Junzhu closed her eyes and softly called, “Good …” This word ‘good’ was so soft that it sounded like a buzzing mosquito, if Wei Xiaobao’s hearing was somewhat lacking, he would not be able to hear it at all. On top of that, her face was blushing very deep red.

    Wei Xiaobao muttered to himself, “Calling me like this is very disappointing. Seven losses and eight discounts later, what’s left for me? Besides, I don’t know what words follow the word ‘good’ in your heart; it could be ‘good son of a b1tch’, or it could be ‘good little thief’.”

    “No,” Xiao Junzhu hurriedly said, “In my heart, I was thinking of … of those two characters. I am not lying to you, I really am not lying to you.”

    “Which two characters?” Wei Xiaobao asked, “Is it ‘turtle’ [wugui], or ‘little thief’ [xiao zei]?”

    “No, no!” Xiao Junzhu said, “It’s ‘Ge’ …” As soon as the word ‘Ge’ came out, she hastily closed her mouth.

    Wei Xiaobao laughed, “Very good,” he said, “Let’s just say you still have conscience. In that case, I’ll use the best method to fix your face. When you ask a mason to fix a hole in the wall to let the dog comes in and out, with the first-class price, the mason will use a first-class technique; if the price is too low, the mason will cram several rotten bricks and be done with it, he won’t even whitewash it with lime. Don’t you think it will be extremely unsightly?”

    Xiao Junzhu said, “I have already called, you still make fun of me by calling me a dog hole and rotten bricks.”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed aloud and said, "I was giving you an analogy." Opening Hai Laogong's trunk, he took the medicine chest out and placed the dozens of medicine bottles from the chest on the table. He poured out some medicinal powder from each bottle, while acting as if he was deep in thought he mixed everything. Originally Xiao Junzhu was only 30% convinced, but seeing these many medicine bottle, her confidence rose up by 20% more. Wei Xiaobao put the medicine powder mix into a medicinal earthenware mortar, which he then brought outside the room. Once he was outside, however, he poured everything onto a paper wrap, which he hid inside his pocket. He took a piece of mung bean cake, a piece of pea-flour cake, and added a piece of lotus seed, which he dug out of a Guangdong moon cake. After washing the mortar clean, until there was not the least bit of medicinal powder left, he put the lotus seed, mung bean cake and pea-flour cake into the mortar, and then he pounded the cakes into a mush. He added two soup-spoons of honey, and having a sudden inspiration, he spat two mouthful of saliva into the mixture, and mixed everything evenly.

    Reentering the room, he said, "This is 'Sheng Ji Ling Gao' [Efficacious Ointment to Grow the Flesh/Muscle], effective against countless maladies." After thinking for a moment he added, "Your face has been carved by me; if I can restore it to its original state, it would only look the same as before, you would not see my true ability." Taking the cap inlaid with jewels he wore the previous day, he pulled four pearls away from the cap and held them on his left palm. "What do you think of these pearls?" he asked Xiao Junzhu.

    For generations Xiao Junzhu’s family had held the title of 'King' conferred by the previous Emperor; although by the time she was born the Mu family had been in decline, she was after all, a noble woman of an aristocratic family, her knowledge was vastly different from that of a commoner. Seeing the pearls were of the size of a finger, gleaming with soft pearly luster as they slid smoothly on his palm, she knew they were flawless, perfectly round pearls. "Those are very good pearls," she praised, "Four pearls, exactly the same size, like that are hard to come by!"

    Wei Xiaobao was very proud of himself; he said, "I bought these pearls for two thousand nine hundred taels yesterday. They are very expensive, don't you agree?" Although these four pearls were expensive, they were not worth two thousand nine hundred taels; actually, they were only nine hundred taels, he added two thousand taels to deceive her. Taking another mortar, he put the pearls into the mortar and shook the mortar several revolutions, the pearls and the mortar struck against each other, creating clear ringing sound. Wei Xiaobao picked up a stone pestle and pound the pearls.

    "Ah!" Xiao Junzhu exclaimed. "What are you doing?" she asked.

    Seeing her serious expression and the astonishment on her little face, Wei Xiaobao was even more spirited. The reason he was showing off his extravagance was exactly to incite such astonishment. Immediately he pounded vigorously, crushing the four pearls, and then repeatedly gyrated the stone pestle until the pearls became powder. He said, "If I only restore your face to its original condition, I won't show Wei ... won't show Xiao Guizi Gong-gong's real ability; I must make your face ten times more beautiful than it was, and then you will delighted, without the least bit of reluctance, to call me ‘Good Gege’ ten times."

    "Three times!" Xiao Junzhu said, "How can it change to ten?"

    Wei Xiaobao only smiled, he poured the pearl powder into the paste consisting of mung bean cake, pea-flour cake, lotus seed, honey and saliva, mixed everything evenly with the pestle. Xiao Junzhu watched with eyes wide open, wondering what he was doing. Seeing he grind the four pearls into the mixture, she can well imagine that this ointment was very costly.

    "Although four pearls are expensive," Wei Xiaobao said, "it is nothing compared to other priceless treasured medicinal powder. Your face was actually not bad, but we can't say it was first-rate in the world. After I apply the ointment, most likely it will turn into matchless in the world, 'bashful moon obstructing the flower' ..."

    "Bashful flower obstructing the moon [i.e. beautiful woman]," Xiao Junzhu said. Hearing Wei Xiaobao speak incorrectly, without thinking she blurted out to correct him. But as soon as the words came out of her mouth, she could not help but feeling embarrassed.

    To Wei Xiaobao however, using the wrong idiom was just like daily meal; he did not give it the slightest thought. "Right," he said, "You will turn into a little beauty 'bashful flower obstructing the moon', now that will be good." While speaking, he worked on smearing the bean putty mashed lotus seed and pearl paste on her face. Xiao Junzhu did not say anything, she let him randomly daubed her face with the ointment. In just a short moment, her entire face, save her eyes, ears, nose and mouth, was completely covered. She only thought that the sweet and fragrant smell of this medicinal ointment was really strong, not sharp like the smell of medicine at all, she did not feel any discomfort.

    Seeing she was duped, Wei Xiaobao desperately tried not to laugh; he said in his heart, "Just consider me being polite for not peeing in this medicinal ointment; I was looking at the great merit of your ancestor, Mu Ying, Mu Wangye. He was an outstanding founding minister, Wei Xiaobao yields to him 30%."

    Finished applying the ointment, Wei Xiaobao washed his hands clean and said, "After the ointment is dry, I am going to use the amazing medicinal powder to wash your face clean. Three application, three washes, it's impossible for you not to be bashful moon ... bashful flower obstructing the moon."

    Xiao Junzhu thought, "What 'impossible not to be bashful flower obstructing the moon'? This sentence sounds quite awkward." She asked, "Why must you apply three times?"

    "Three times can be considered nothing," Wei Xiaobao replied, "When people make soy sauce, it has to be steamed and dried out in the sun nine times. Even when cooking dog meat, it has to be boiled three times in a row."

    "You are cursing me again as soy sauce and dog meat," Xiao Junzhu grumbled.

    "I did not say soy sauce and dog meat," Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, "Dog meat cooked in soy sauce is simmer-fried dog meat. If no soy sauce is being used, then it is plain dog meat stew." With chopsticks he picked a piece of ham and brought it to her mouth. "Eat, please!" he said.

    First, Xiao Junzhu was really hungry, second, she did not dare to offend Wei Xiaobao; she was afraid of his unpredictable actions, who knows? Perhaps he would leave a turtle tail on her face. Third, she saw how he grind the costly pearls without any reservation, unavoidably she had received his favor. After slight hesitation, she opened her mouth and ate.

    Wei Xiaobao was ecstatic. "Good Meizi," he praised, "Now this is what I call good girl."

    "I am ... I am not your good meizi," Xiao Junzhu said.

    "Good Jiejie, then," Wei Xiaobao said. [Meizi and Jiejie - younger and older sister, respectively; used in a more intimate setting.]

    "I am not," Xiao Junzhu said.

    "Well, how about good Mama?" Wei Xiaobao said.

    Xiao Junzhu giggled. "How ... how can I be ..." she stuttered.

    Since the first time Wei Xiaobao saw her, this was the very first time he heard her laughter. It's a pity her face was covered in lotus seed and bean paste, so it was difficult for him to see the flower-like dimples when she laughed. However, hearing her silver-bell-like laughter was enough to make his heart feel at ease and his spirit delighted. When Wei Xiaobao said, 'My good Mama,' he was actually cursing her as 'little wh0re', because his own mother was a prostitute. But hearing her joyous laugher was so unrestrained and tender, he could not help but feeling a bit regretful. He thought, "Nothing wrong with being a wh0re, in the Lovely Spring Courtyard my Mama is earning money, she is not necessarily inferior to damn wooden head wooden brain Junzhu from the Mu Palace." He picked several more pieces of ham to feed her; he said, "If you promise not to run away, I am going to unseal the acupoints on your hand."

    "Why would I want to run away?" Xiao Junzhu said, "With a little turtle carved on my face, if I run away, I would look so ugly that I would die of shame."

    Wei Xiaobao thought, "As soon as you find out there is no little turtle on your face, you will definitely run away. That Boss Qian did not say when he is going to let her out either. If the others find out I am hiding a little girl in the Palace, my responsibility will not be small; what should I do?"

    While he was still deep in thought, suddenly from outside the door someone was calling out, "Gui Gong-gong, Xiaoren is an attendant in Prince Kang's mansion, I have something I'd like to see you about."

    "Alright!" Wei Xiaobao replied; lowering his voice he said, "Somebody's coming, don't make any noise. Do you know what place this is?" Xiao Junzhu shook her head. Wei Xiaobao said, "If I tell you, you will jump of fright. All those people want to harm you. Only because I took pity on you that I have given you a temporary shelter. If they knew you are in her, humph, humph ..." While in his heart he was thinking hard, "What should I say to frighten her the most? What would scare her the most?" An idea struck him; he said, "Those wicked people will strip you naked, then they'll spank your butts; it will be exceedingly painful." Xiao Junzhu's face turned red, but her eyes indeed showed fear.

  12. #72
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 10 - Part 5

    Seeing the effect of his threat, Wei Xiaobao went out to open the door. Outside the door was a thirty-something court eunuch. The man paid his respect to Wei Xiaobao, and then respectfully said, "Xiaoren is from Prince Kang's mansion. Our Wangye said that he has not seen Gong-gong for a long time, and is very concerned. Today he has ordered a theatrical troupe and invites Gong-gong to come to the Prince’s mansion to drink wine and watch the opera.”

    Hearing the word ‘opera’, Wei Xiaobao’s spirit was aroused, but a Xiao Junzhu was hiding in his room, he was afraid someone might find out by accident, or perhaps she would make noise and attract other people’s attention, then it would be very inconvenient for him; hence he was rather hesitant.

    The eunuch said, “Wangye said that Gong-gong’s presence is very much expected. The Palace is bustling with excitements today. There will be dice, pai gow, and all kinds of gambling.”

    When he heard the word ‘opera’, Wei Xiaobao’s spirit was only aroused, but when he heard ‘gambling’, his spirit was greatly aroused. After acquiring the riches, he found that gambling with the Wen brothers, Ping Wei and the others was no longer interesting. He threw dice with them only to kill time. Since Prince Kang setup a casino in his mansion, he would be able to gamble with common people and warriors; how could he pay anymore attention to little princess or big princess? Thereupon he happily said, “Very well, wait here for a moment, I‘ll come with you.”

    He went back to his room, loosened the belt strapping Xiao Junzhu, lay her down on the bed, and then bound her hands and feet again. He pulled the quilt over her body, and said in a low voice, “I have to do something outside, I’ll be back in a little bit.” Seeing the doubt on her eyes, he said, “I don’t have enough pearls, I need to buy some more to be ground and applied to your face, only then your face will be perfect.”

    “You ... please don’t go,” Xiao Junzhu said, “Pearls are expensive.”

    “Never mind that,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Your good Gege has plenty of money, I must make you bashful flower obstructing the moon; spending several thousand taels is nothing.”

    “I … I am scared in here,” Xiao Junzhu said.

    Seeing her pitiful but cute expression, Wei Xiaobao almost could not bear leaving her, but to ask him not to gamble, it was useless even if Xiao Junzhu was ten times more pitiful. He picked a piece of Gong fish and fed her, then he picked four pieces of eight-treasure cake and folded the cake over her mouth, saying, “When you open your mouth, a piece of cake will enter your mouth. But be careful, if the cake falls onto the pillow, you can’t eat it anymore.”

    “You … please don’t go,” Xiao Junzhu said; but since there were cakes on top of her lips, her voice was barely audible. Wei Xiaobao pretended not to hear, he took a bundle of banknotes from his chest and stuffed it into his pocket. He opened the door, walked out, locked the door from the outside, and then hurriedly followed the eunuch to Prince Kang’s mansion.

    When he arrived at the gate of the Prince Kang’s mansion, he saw on either side of the main gate stood two rows of imperial bodyguards, all wearing bright brocade uniform, with either a sword or a saber hanging from their waists. They looked so elegant and imposing; the mansion was a lot more heavily-guarded compared to Wei Xiaobao’s first visit. Obviously because of ‘Oboi’s followers’ had broken into the Palace, the security was elevated.

    Wei Xiaobao had just stepped in the main gate, Prince Kang had already rushed out to greet him, half squatting, he embraced Wei Xiaobao's waist. "Gui Xiongdi," he said with a laugh, "I haven't seen you for many days, you are growing taller and taller, and look more handsome than ever."

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, "Wangye, how are you?" [lit. 'are you good?' read on, you'll see ...]

    Prince Kang laughed and said, "What's so good? You did not come to play at my house too often. It would be good if I get to see you more, it is not good if I rarely see you."

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, "Wangye has ordered me to come, that's exactly what I've been looking for."

    "I will hold you accountable of what you've just said," Prince Kang said, "I am thinking of asking His Majesty to grant you some vacation, so that we can drink wine and watch the opera, to do as we please for ten days, eight days. I am just afraid His Majesty cannot do without you for even a day." He took Wei Xiaobao's hand, and the two of them walked in side by side. All the imperial bodyguards bowed to salute.

    Wei Xiaobao was greatly delighted. Although people were flattering him in the Palace, he was only an eunuch after all, where could he find such an opportunity to walk hand in hand with a prince like this?

    When they reached the middle gate, two Manchurian high-ranking officials came out to greet them. One was the newly-appointed Commander of the Inner Imperial Bodyguards, Dolong, usually it was known as the Shiwei Zongguan [Imperial Bodyguard chief manager]. The other was Wei Xiaobao's sworn brother, Songgotu. Songgotu sprang forward and embraced Wei Xiaobao; he laughed heartily and said, "I heard Wangye was inviting you, so I invited myself too, so the two of us brothers can enjoy the excitement together." The Shiwei Zongguan Dolong also came forward to fawn on him.

    As soon as the four of them set their feet on the veranda in front of the main hall, the musicians played a happy tune. Wei Xiaobao had never received such a grand reception like this, he was radiant with delight, and almost could not stop himself from dancing with joy right then and there. When they reached the second hall, more than twenty officers had already standing in the atrium to welcome them. All these people were high-ranking officials: government ministers, vice ministers, generals, commanders of imperial family's personal guards, and so on. Songgotu introduced them one by one to Wei Xiaobao.

    A court eunuch entered in a hurry, after doing his obeisance, he reported, "Wangye, Ping Xi Wang's Heir Apparent[1] has arrived."

    Prince Kang laughed and said, "Very good! Gui Xiongdi, just sit back and relax, I am going out to welcome the guest." Then he turned around and left.

    "Ping Xi Wang's Heir Apparent?" Wei Xiaobao mused, "Could it be Wu Sangui's son? What is he doing here?"

    Songgotu leaned over, he laughed softly next to Wei Xiaobao's ear and said, "Good Xiongdi, congratulations, today you are going to get rich."

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, "It depends on my gambling luck."

    Songgotu said with a laugh, "I am sure your gambling luck is good. Other than getting rich on the gambling table, there is another sure way of getting lucky."

    "What's that?" Wei Xiaobao asked.

    Songgotu whispered on his ear, "Wu Sangui sends his son to pay tribute, all high-ranking official of the imperial court will not be neglected."

    "Oh," Wei Xiaobao said, "Wu Sangui sends his son to pay tribute. But I am not a high-ranking official of the imperial court."

    "You are a high-ranking official in the Palace," Songgotu said, "Your prestige is a lot higher than a high-ranking official of the imperial court. Wu Sangui's son, Wu Yingxiong is very astute and competent, he is very sensible." Lowering his voice, he said, "Regardless of what Wu Yingxiong presents to you later, you must not show that you like it, just say lightly, 'The heir came to Beijing, you must have a tiring journey.' If he sees that you like the present, nothing will follow it. If you look indifferent, he will think that you do not like the gift, you consider it too little; then tomorrow he will return with big gift to make up for it."

    Wei Xiaobao laughed aloud; he said in low voice, "So that's how you knock the bamboo pole[2]."

    Songgotu said in low voice, "It's foolish not to knock Yunnan's bamboo pole loudly. His old man [laozi] has been sitting on Yunnan and Guizhou, two provinces; I don't know how much fat and wealth of the people he has extorted. If we don't help him spend it, first, we are being unfair to his old man, second, we are being unfair to the common people of Yunnan and Guizhou!"

    Wei Xiaobao laughed, "Exactly!" he said.

    While they were talking, Prince Kang accompanied Wu Yingxiong coming into the hall. This Ping Xi Wang's Heir Apparent was about twenty four, twenty five years old, very handsome; he walked with vigorous and nimble steps, carrying an air of the son of a general family. Prince Kang pulled Wei Xiaobao over first; he said, "Xiao Wangye, this is Gui Gong-gong, the Lord of Ten Thousand Years' most capable Gong-gong. The capture of Oboi at the Upper Study Room was mostly this Gui Gong-gong's great merit."

    The number of eyes and ears Wu Sangui had sent to Beijing was really numerous. Anything that happened in the Capital, big and small, was duly reported by express courier to Kunming. Kangxi personally capturing Oboi was a first class news in the last several years, naturally Wu Yingxiong knew all the details early on. In fact, Wu Sangui had had a discussion with him, he felt that by successfully eradicating an important power without batting an eyelid, the Emperor had shown his heroic spirit despite his young age. He was afraid that his days as a feudal court official in the future would not be too good. This time Wu Yingxiong came to Beijing on his father's order to pay his respect to the Son of Heaven, he brought a large number of gifts to bribe the senior ministers, but his main purpose was to observe Kangxi's character and conducts, as well as to find out what kind of person was his most trusted minister.

    Coming to Prince Kang's mansion to pay a visit today, he did not expect to see Kangxi's most favorite eunuch; he could not help but was greatly delighted. Busily he reached out with both hands to grab Wei Xiaobao's right hand and shook it repeatedly, while saying, "Gui Gong-gong, I ... zaixia ... [book note: he started by saying 'I', but felt it was not respectful enough; then he thought of saying 'junior' (lit. 'later generation'), but the other party was too young. If he said 'Xiongdi', he felt he did not know him too well; if he said 'humble officer', the opposite party was not a high-ranking official of the imperial court, while he would also held the opposite party at a much higher position than himself. So in the end he decided to simply use a common Jianghu term to address oneself.] in Yunnan has heard Gong-gong's great name. When speaking with other people, Fu Wang [Father King] always praises His Majesty's wisdom and decisiveness; he is indeed the brilliant master, the Son of Heaven. He also says that with the holy Son of Heaven on the throne, even a young Gong-gong such as yourself is able to set up this great merit, earning the admiration of others. Fu Wang instructed zaixia to prepare gifts to show respect to Gong-gong. It's just that according to the Great Qing law, it is inappropriate for an external official to make friends with internal officers; although zaixia has the time and the desire, I do not dare to rashly seek an audience with Gui Gong-gong. Today Kang Wangye has bestowed this good opportunity, truly my delight is unbearable." He was very articulate, his words were very pleasant to listen to.

    Hearing that even such a great personality like Wu Sangui, who was ten thousands li away, unexpectedly had also heard about his name, Wei Xiaobao could not help but was very flattered. Luckily he was used to hearing this kind of flattery, so he was prepared on how to deal with it. "We are only servants," he said indifferently, "We merely work according to His Majesty's imperial orders. It's nothing more than, one, do not fear hardship, two, do not fear death; what great merit is worth mentioning? Xiao Wangye has flattered me too much." While in his heart he thought, "Songgotu Gege has an incredible foresight; sure enough, as soon as this little traitor see me, he mentioned the word 'gift' right away."

    Wu Yingxiong was a guest from afar, he was also the Ping Xi Wang's Heir Apparent, so Prince Kang pushed him to sit on the seat of honor; and he asked Wei Xiaobao to sit on the next seat. There were a lot of high-ranking officials around the banquet table, government ministers and generals, each one was a dignitary. Although Wei Xiaobao was brassy, he did not dare to sit on the second seat; he declined repeatedly. Prince Kang laughed and said, “Gui Xiongdi, you are the man by His Majesty’s side, everybody reveres you in good faith to show love and respect toward His Majesty, you do not need to be polite.” While saying that, he pushed Wei Xiaobao to sit on the chair.

    By this time, Songgotu had been promoted to be the Great Learning Scholar of the Dynastic History Ministry, his rank was above everybody else, so he sat next to Wei Xiaobao. The rest of the civil and military high official sat next to each other according to their rank. Wei Xiaobao had a sudden thought, “Damn it! When the patrons of the Lovely Spring Courtyard were having a dinner party with the singsong girls, Mama would always sit behind the guests, while passing along several pieces of cake and pastry to me. Often times those turtle b@stards caught me and threw me out. At that time I always thought that when laozi has become rich, I will come back to the Lovely Spring Courtyard to have a dinner party with the singsong girls; I would call the old procuress, the turtle b@stards and the girls to accompany me drinking. Who would have thought that today I have a prince, an heir apparent, government ministers and generals to accompany me drinking? Too bad the Lovely Spring Courtyard’s old procuress and the turtle b@stards cannot see laozi in this spirited appearance.”

    Everybody sat down to drink. The sixteen escorts Wu Yingxiong brought with him were standing by the long window. They watched attentively at the people toasting each other and eating the dishes around the banquet table, as well as the servants delivering food and serving the wine; every action and each movement did not escape their steady gaze. Wei Xiaobao had to think for a while before he suddenly understood, “Right, they must be the martial art experts from the Ping Xi Wang’s palace, who come here to protect Wu Yingxiong, for fear that someone might assassinate or poison him. I am afraid Mu Palace people are already waiting outside. It would be great if there is a fierce battle later. I want to see if Mu Palace people will win, or Wu Sangui’s men more formidable.” His belly was filled with the desire to take pleasure in others’ misfortunes; he hoped that both sides would fight an exciting battle, until both sides suffer.


    [1] Orig. 世子 (Shi Zi) - descendant son, crown prince; obviously, I can't use 'crown prince', while another option 'successor' sounds rather strange. As much as I do not wish to use Minford's term, I have to admit that in this case his choice of word is the best; therefore, I will also use 'heir apparent'.

    [2] Knocking on bamboo pole: an idiom meaning ‘extortion by taking advantage of somebody's weakness’. In those days one's wealth was usually carried on shoulder pole (although I am sure Wu Yingxiong would use horse-drawn carriage), Wei Xiaobao was 'knocking' on their treasure chest, so to speak.

  13. #73
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 10 - Part 6

    Prince Kang himself was aware of this situation, but being the host, he felt it was inappropriate to say anything. The Shiwei Zongguan Dolong was a martial art expert, he was also a straightforward man; after drinking several cups of wine, he said, “Xiao Wangye, these dozen or so escorts you bring must have been chosen from a thousand, those selected must be martial art experts.”

    Wu Yingxiong laughed and said, “What martial art do they have? They are just personal bodyguards in Fu Wang’s Palace; they have been following Xiongdi, they know Xiongdi’s temperament very well, so when I go out, I seek people I can use for my convenience. That’s all.”

    Dolong laughed and said, “Xiao Wangye is too modest. Just look at those two, their Taiyang [‘Sun acupoint’, located on the temples] acupoints are bulging high, their internal energy must have reached 90% proficiency. Looking at those two, their face and neck muscles are sturdy, they must have been trained in hard, external type of martial art. And those gentlemen with shiny faces and big pigtails hanging on the back of their heads, most likely those are fake. If you tell them to take out their caps, I bet they are bald." Wu Yingxiong smiled, but did not say anything.

    Songgotu laughed and said, "I only know Dolong Zongguan has superior martial art, I did not realize you have another skill, telling fortune by reading people's facial features."

    Dolong laughed and said, "Suo Daren may not know this. When Ping Xi Wang was stationed in Liaodong peninsula, many military officers under his banner belonged to the Jin Ding School [lit. 'golden crown of the head' school] of Jinzhou. Disciples of Jin Ding School train a very formidable type of martial art with their heads. When they have trained to proficiency, their faces shiny, and they do not have a single strand of hair on the top of their heads."

    Prince Kang laughed and said, "I wonder if it is possible to ask the Heir Apparent to tell these honored escorts to take off their caps, to let everybody see if Dolong Zongguan's speculation is accurate or not?"

    Wu Yingxiong said, "Dolong Zongguan's vision is like a torch, how can he be inaccurate? Indeed these several personal bodyguards have trained Jin Ding School martial art, but their skill has not reached proficiency yet, they still have quite a number of hair on their heads. If I ask them to take off their caps, they will be disgraced in public. I wish gentlemen officials will excuse us." Everybody laughed heartily, but since Wu Yingxiong was unwilling to comply, it was inappropriate for them to force him.

    Wei Xiaobao could not avert his gaze from those people, his heart was unbearable itching, "I wonder how much hair that tall leader has? It looks like that thin man's martial art skill is rather lacking, perhaps he has a lot of hair." Suddenly he remembered something, "Ha!" he laughed.

    With a smile Prince Kang asked, "Gui Xiongdi, what's so funny? Why don't you tell us?"

    Wei Xiaobao said with a laugh, "I am thinking that the shifu from Jin Ding School must be very amiable; they won't fight with other people too much, even more so with people from their own school."

    "How can you tell?" Prince Kang asked.

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, "When they get angry, they would stare at each other, then they would take their caps off. You count the hair on my head, I count the hair on your head; the one has less hair must have higher skill, the one with more hair will be forced to concede." Everybody roared in laughter; they all said that Wei Xiaobao's idea was very amusing. Wei Xiaobao continued, "Presumably all Jin Ding School's shifu carry an abacus, otherwise it would be rather inconvenient to count the hair on their heads." Everybody burst out in laughter again.

    A government minister was drinking a cup of wine, the wine had not entered his throat, when he heard Wei Xiaobao, the wine in his mouth spurt out; because he was afraid to spurt on the table and thus looked lacking in manners, he lowered his head and let the wine spurt onto the front of his own clothes, while coughing incessantly.

    “Kang Wangye,” Dolong said, “Since that servant Oboi’s clique disturbed your mansion the last time, I heard that these past several months you have gathered not a few of martial art masters.”

    Prince Kang slowly stroke his beard with his right hand, his face showed that he was very pleased with himself. He slowly said, “Indeed martial art masters with prestige and real skill are not easy to find. Those willing to be hired by government authorities are mostly second or third class personnel.” Pausing for a moment he continued, “On the whole Xiao Wang [‘little king’ – referring to self] eagerly seek people of talent; in addition to offering a large sum of money, I have to help them handle several matters, only then did I manage to invite several real top martial art masters. It’s just that they have to be well-served daily, so it takes a lot of effort. Ha ha, ha ha!”

    Dolong said, “Wangye’s secret in engaging very able persons, may you teach me?”

    Prince Kang smiled and said, “Dolong Zongguan is himself a martial art master, why do you need to hire martial art masters?”

    “Thank you Wangye for your compliment,” Dolong said, “I remember that year when we had a competition among our Manchu military commanders at the presence of senior ranking officers, presided personally by the Prince Regent, Wangye and Xiao Jiang [‘little general’ – referring to self] had obtained the Regent’s commendation. I heard this time the surviving members of Oboi’s clique came to stir up trouble, Wangye did not stop shooting arrows and personally killed over twenty members of the rebel party.”

    Prince Kang smiled, but did not say anything. That day he did shoot some arrows and killed two Tian Di Hui members, ‘over twenty’ was obviously an exaggeration by a factor of ten.

    Wei Xiaobao said, “I saw this matter with my own eyes. That time my ears only heard the random whishing sound of the arrows, while in front of me people shouting, ‘Aiyo, aiyo!’ and behind me people shouting, ‘Good shot, good shot!’”

    A civil minister did not understand the meaning behind Wei Xiaobao’s words, he asked, “Gui Gong-gong, what do you mean by in front people shouting, ‘Aiyo!’ and behind people shouting, ‘Good shot!’?”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “Kang Wangye’s archery skill is ‘one hundred shots, one hundred hits’. In front, the people hit by the arrows shouted, ‘Aiyo!’, behind were our own men, praising, ‘Good shot!’. But there were several times more ‘Good shot!’ than the ‘Aiyo!’ does Daren know the reason?”

    The minister twisted his beard with his finger, he said, “Presumably the number of people on our side was several times greater than that of the rebel party.”

    “This time Daren has guessed incorrectly,” Wei Xiaobao said, “At that time the rebel party was carrying out a large-scale assault, Kang Wangye was using the few to defeat the many; there were more people on the enemy’s side. But some members of the rebel party were shot by Kang Wangye on the throat, so when the cry ‘Aiyo!’ reached the throat, it could not come out. Also, Kang Wangye shot arrows like a deity, among the rebel party, there were many who admired him from the bottom of their hearts, so they could not refrain from shouting, ‘Good shot!’ They knew they should not shout, but they just couldn’t bear not to.”

    The minister repeatedly nodded his head. “So that’s how it is,” he said.

    Wu Yingxiong raised his cup and said, “Kang Wangye’s divine archery, junior extremely admires it. I toast Wangye for a cup.” Everybody raised their cups and drank to toast him.

    Prince Kang was delighted, he thought, “This kid Xiao Guizi knows the facts and can find appropriate response to delicate situation, no wonder His Majesty likes him.”

    Wangye,” Dolong said, “You have hired that many Wulin masters in your Palace, how about inviting them out to let everybody look at them?”

    Prince Kang had been wanting to show off, so he instructed his chamberlain, “Prepare two more banquet tables over here, invite Shenzhao Shangren[1] and the others to come out and join the banquet.”

    Not too long afterwards, more than twenty people came out from the rear hall, led by a man wearing large red kasaya, a fat and tall Buddhist monk. Prince Kang stood up; he laughed and said, “Friends, let us drink a cup!” Seeing Prince Kang stood up, all the guests around the table also stood up to welcome the newcomers.

    The one called Shenzhao Shangren clasped his palms together and said with a laugh, “We don’t dare, we don’t dare! All Daren, please sit down.” His voice was like resounding bell. Just by this demonstration of chi, it was obvious that his internal energy cultivation was very profound. As for the rest of the men, some were tall, some were short, some were handsome, some were ugly. They sat around the two banquet tables.

    Apart from possessing a good martial art skill, Dolong was also an impatient man; without waiting for the men to finish their first round of drink, he said, “Wangye, Xiao Jiang can see that each of these Wulin masters of your Palace has majestic appearance, they look formidable, their martial art skill must be extremely high; is it possible to ask these friends to display their skill? Ping Xi Wang's Heir Apparent and Gui Gong-gong are guests of honor whose presence is hard to come by, I presume they would also like to see the skill of Prince Kang Mansion’s people.”

    Wei Xiaobao was the first to echo his words. Wu Yingxiong clapped his hands and cheered. The rest of the guests also said, “Absolutely, absolutely!”

    Prince Kang laughed and said, “Friends, all these honored guests want to see your skill, I wonder if you'd like to spar with each other.”

    From the martial art masters’ banquet table on the left a middle-aged man suddenly stood up; with a loud and clear voice he said, “I only know that Kang Wangye loves talented people, that’s why I came here to hire myself to him; who would have thought that he only regards us as the Jianghu people who sell our skill? If all Daren want to see juggling monkey or tight-rope walker, why don’t you go to the Bridge of Heaven? I am taking my leave!” While saying that, he raised his left hand and smashed it down on the back of his chair. ‘Crash!’ the back of the chair broke. He walked out toward the door in big strides. Everybody’s face changed.

    A thin and small old man, who was sitting on the same table as the man, suddenly flashed by and cut off in front of him. “Lang Shifu,” the old man said, “What you say is too preposterous. Wangye courteously and respectfully asking us to offer our skill, if Lang Shifu is willing to display your skill, no doubt it it is very good; but if you are unwilling, Wangye can’t possibly force you. In the Palace you make a racket, destroying the Palace’s property, even if in his magnanimity Wangye did not hold you responsible, but for the rest of us, brothers, where should we put our face?"

    The man surnamed Lang laughed coldly and said, "Everybody has his own ambitions. Tao Shifu loves to show your skill in the Prince's mansion, feel free to play as much as you want. Xiongdi cannot accompany you too much." While saying that he took another step forward.

    The old man surnamed Tao said, "If you really want to go, you need to kowtow and say goodbye to Wangye. If Wangye give you a nod, then you can leave."

    The man surnamed Lang said with a cold laugh, "I didn't sell my body as a slave in the Prince's mansion, my two feet grew on my own body, I can go whenever I want to go, why do you care?" Finished speaking, he walked forward.

    Unexpectedly, the old man surnamed Tao did not move; seeing the one surnamed Lang was about to bump into him, he reached out to grab his left arm, while saying, "Who knows? Perhaps I will be forced to care."

    The one surnamed Lang bent his left arm downward, then suddenly jerked it upward, striking toward the old man surnamed Tao's waist. The one surnamed Tao's right leg flew up to kick the pit of his stomach. The one surnamed Lang's right hand swiftly moved toward the back of old man Tao's right leg, which by this time was high in the air. Seizing this opportunity, he pushed out, sending the old man surnamed Tao falling backward with his face up. Luckily he was quite nimble, propping himself with his right hand, he leaped back up. Although he did not fall flat on his back, he had already made a fool of himself, his old face turned entirely red. "Hey, hey," the man surnamed Lang laughed coldly, and bolted toward the door.

    Suddenly a thin man appeared on the door of the hall, which was originally empty. The thin man cupped his fist and said, "Lang Xiong, please return."

    The one surnamed Lang was moving so fast that he could not control his own momentum and crashed into the man's body. The thin man did not evade, the two of them crashed into each other. The one surnamed Lang staggered three steps backwards. He took two steps sideways to the left, but suddenly turned to the right as he dashed toward the long window on the right. As he reached the threshold, the thin man had already blocked in front of him. The one surnamed Lang knew how formidable the thin man was when he collided against him, so he did not dare to have another collision. Hastily he held his steps; his chest was no more than two cun away from the thin man's chest, the tip of his nose had already touched the thin man's nose. The thin man did not move at all, he did not even blink. The one surnamed Lang swiftly dodged to the left, but as soon as he regained his footing, the thin man was blocking in front of him.

    The one surnamed Lang was furious, 'whoosh!' he sent a punch toward the thin man's face. The two of them stood very close to each other, plus the punch was sent with tremendous strength. The thin man did not lean sideways, he simply lowered his head. But he raised his right palm in front of his face. 'Slap!' the punch hit the center of his palm. He bent his palm slightly, the one surnamed Lang was pushed that he had to take several steps backward. The people in the hall cheered; they all praised, "Good skill!"

    The one surnamed Lang looked awkward; he was unable to leave, but to go forward and fight, he realized his martial art skill was far too inferior to the opponent. Momentarily he was at a loss of what to do.

    The thin man cupped his fist and said, "Lang Xiong please sit down. Wangye instructed us to spar with each other; didn't the two of us just have a spar with each other?" Finished speaking, he immediately walked back and sat on his original seat, on the banquet table to the right. Everybody applauded again. The one surnamed Lang, with ashamed look across his face, sat down with his head hung low.

    When the man surnamed Lang made a disturbance, Prince Kang had lost a considerable face; luckily this thin man returned the honor to him by compelling the one surnamed Lang to return to the martial art masters' banquet table. Prince Kang instructed his chamberlain, "Go get fifty-tael silver yuanbao and bring them here."

    Wei Xiaobao said with a laugh, "This Shifu has an amazing martial art skill; such vicious ... vicious ... vicious tiger blocking the way [book note: the saying he wanted to say was 'vicious dog blocking the way']. That fellow was unable to get away no matter what. I wonder what is his name?"

    Prince Kang stroke his sideburns, he could not remember this thin man's name, or when did this man come to the Prince's mansion; his mind was completely blank on this matter, so he laughed and said, "Xiao Wang's memory is not good, I can't remember it for the time being."

    Presently the chamberlain reappeared, carrying a large wooden tray, the tray was draped in red silk, with twenty pieces of fifty-tael big yuanbao on it. The silver was gleaming, dazzling the eyes; the tray was then set up by the Prince's side. Prince Kang laughed and said, "Gentlemen, masters of martial arts have displayed your skill, you deserve some rewards. This friend, please step forward to take one yuanbao."

    The thin man came forward, and after paying his respect, he received a silver ingot from Prince Kang's hand. Wei Xiaobao asked, "Friend, what is your honorable name? And what is your great given name?"

    The thin man replied, "Xiao Ren Qi Yuankai, thank you Daren, for inquiring."

    Wei Xiaobao said, "Your martial art skill is very high."

    Qi Yuankai said, "Enough to be laughed by Daren."

    "The martial art masters in Kang Wangyeí's mansion definitely carries unsurpassed artistry," Dolong said, "We really wish to experience the skill of martial art masters under Ping Xi Wang. Xiao Wangye, how about selecting somebody to exchange blows with this Qi Shifu?" Seeing Wu Yingxiong was hesitating without replying, he added, "Naturally we will stop at touching, we must not harm our friendship; who win who lose is irrelevant."

    Prince Kang was a man who loved excitement; he said, "Dolong Zongguan has a lofty idea, let the martial art masters of both sides exchange some pointers; the winner will enjoy two big silver yuanbao, the loser will also enjoy one. Put the yuanbao on the table."

    The nineteen yuanbao were placed in front of the banquet table; the candle cast its light upon the ingots, the silver was gleaming against the red lining, it looked even more dazzling.

    Prince Kang laughed and said, "My humble palace will have this Qi Yuankai Shifu, I wonder which Shifu will Ping Xi Wang Palace have?"

    Everybody was in high spirits, they looked at the sixteen attendants under Wu Yingxiong. They knew that although it was a one on one martial art competition between the martial art masters, in actuality it was a gamble, the two palaces of Prince Kang and Ping Xi Wang contending with each other. Just now the thin man, Qi Yuankai, had displayed his martial art skill, and indeed he was formidable, perhaps none of Yunnan's warriors would be able to match him.


    [1] Shenzhao means ‘divine illumination/reflection’, Shangren (lit. upper/above person) is a term of respect to address a Buddhist monk.

  14. #74
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 10 - Part 7

    Wu Yingxiong hesitated, he did not answer. One of the sixteen men under his leadership stepped forward, bowed to Prince Kang and said, "Reporting to Wangye: all of us Xiaoren have very low martial art skill, in no way we can match the Shifu of Wangye's Palace. We accompany the heir apparent to Beijing, simply to attend to our heir apparent daily need. Ping Xi Wang has ordered us never to offend the attendants of all Wangye and ministers. This is our Ping Xi Wang's order, Xiaoren definitely do not dare to disobey."

    Prince Kang laughed and said, "Ping Xi Wang is very prudent! But today we only practice martial art, not fighting to cause any trouble. If your Wangye ever ask, just tell him that I want you to do it."

    The man bowed again and said, "Please forgive us, Wangye, we do not dare to follow your order."

    Prince Kang was secretly angry, "You only regard Ping Xi Wang in your heart and do not consider me, Prince Kang. Perhaps even if His Majesty issues an imperial decree, you will not follow either." He said, "Could it be that if others punch you, you won't hit back at all?"

    The man said, "Back in Yunnan, Xiaoren always hear that all civil and military officials, as well as soldiers and common people under the Son of Heaven are all reasonable people. We are only rural folks from faraway border area, as we come to the Capital, in everything we must yield and not offend anybody. Presumably without any rhyme or reason other people will not hit us." This man was tall and sturdy, his face carried a highly-capable look, his words was sharp; with those several sentences he was saying that if Prince Kang insisted the martial art masters under his command to provoke a fight, then Prince Kang was not a reasonable person.

    Prince Kang was even more enraged, he turned his head and said, "Shenzhao Shangren, Qi Shifu, these friends from Yunnan are simply unwilling to do us the honor; there is nothing that we can do."

    Shenzhao Shangren laughed aloud; he stood up and said, "Wangye, these friends form Yunnan are simply afraid of losing, they are afraid of losing their face. I wonder if other people really hit their vital points, they won't hit back or ward off the attack?" Finished speaking, his body flashed, he had already standing by the man's side. He laughed and said, "Pinseng[1] only has mediocre palm strength, but compared to that friend surnamed Lang who wanted to leave but fail to leave, maybe just a little bit stronger. Wangye, Pinseng is about to break a piece of brick in your hall, won't Wangye be offended?"

    Prince Kang knew that among his martial art masters, Shenzhao's martial art skill was the strongest, both his internal and external strength had reached perfection; hearing him said so, it was obvious that he was going to give demonstration of his skill, Prince Kang happily said, "Shangren may do as you wish; even if you break a hundred bricks, it is a trivial matter."

    Shenzhao squatted; his left palm lightly slapped the floor. When he lifted his hand, a large greenish black brick was stuck onto his palm. This greenish black brick was about one chi five cun square [about 17 inches]; although it was not very heavy, it was firmly embedded on the floor. To be able to suck the greenish brick from the floor and stick it flat on the palm without dropping it, his palm power must be very profound. "Good!" Wei Xiaobao exclaimed loudly. Everybody else applauded.

    Shenzhao showed a faint smile. Raising his left palm, he released the sucking force, immediately the greenish black brick fell down. When the brick was about level with his chest, both of his arms moved from outside to inside, his palms slapped together on the edge of the brick, 'crash!' the big greenish black brick was smashed to smithereens; it rained down on the floor. The people cheered loudly again. Only about four, five cun of the greenish black brick's edge received the palm strike, but the palm power dissipated everywhere and unexpectedly able to crush the brick, with the biggest fragment was no more than one or two cun square; his inner power was indeed not a small matter.

    Shenzhao walked toward Wu Yinxiong's attendant, putting his palms together he said, "What is your respected surname and great given name, Sire?"

    The man replied, "Dashi ['great master' See note 14 of Chapter 8] has astonishing palm strength, you have really broadened Xiaoren's horizon. Xiaoren is a savage person from a remote area, I am just a nameless soldier."

    Shenzhao laughed and said, "So savage people from a remote area do not have name and surname?"

    The man raised his eyebrows, an angry look flashed past his face, but immediately he said nonchalantly, "Even if coarse people of the mountains and plains have names, it's no more than A Mao or A Gou [lit. 'a cat' or 'a dog];' it's quite useless for Dashi to find out."

    Shenzhao laughed and said, "Sire has a good self-control skill. Today Prince Kang is having a feast, he is surrounded by distinguished friends, it's a rare grand meeting within the Beijing city walls. Wangye has ordered us to show off our shortcomings, to bring laughter to Wangye, Heir Apparent, as well as other honored guests. Sire is determined not to grant any instruction, by doing so has swept away Wangye and numerous Daren's keen interest; aren't you placing too much value on your status?"

    The man replied, "Zaixia only learned a few years of countryside peasants' skill, how can I be a match for Shenzhao Shangren of Iron Buddhist Temple of Cangzhou? If Dashi insists on competing, just consider Zaixia has lost, Dashi may just receive the two yuanbao reward." While saying that, he turned around to return to his place.

    "Hold on!" Shenzhao shouted, "Pinseng has decided to try Sire's skill. With double fists' Bells and Drums sounding simultaneously, I am going to strike the Taiyang acupoints on both sides of Sire's head, please hit back!"

    The man shook his head. Shenzhao let out a loud shout, the sleeves of his large red kasaya suddenly swelled as he created enough strong gust of wind, his arms swept from the outside and bent swiftly to the inside, his fists, each one as big as the mouth of a bowl, were striking toward the man's Taiyang acupoints on both sides of his head.

    Just a moment ago everybody saw how he broke the greenish black brick with his palm strength; they could not help but gasping in horror, they thought since it was too late for the man to evade, if he did not parry, wouldn’t his skull be like that greenish black brick, smashed into smithereens? Who would have thought that the man did not move at all? He did not even lift his hand, neither did he lift his foot, nor move his head, nor blink his eyes; he stayed unmoving like a clay figurine or a wooden statue.

    When Shenzhao Shangren made his move, he only wanted to force him to retaliate; he did not have any desire to take his life. As his fists were about to land on the man’s Taiyang acupoints, he saw the man was standing with blank expression on his face; his heart was alarmed, “My two fists carry about a thousand catties of force. Ping Xi Wang Heir Apparent is Prince Kang’s honored guest, if I recklessly killed his attendant, it would be greatly inappropriate.” Therefore, when his fists made contact with the man’s skin, he hastily forced his own fists upwards. ‘Whoosh!’ the fists flitted pass by the man’s temples, while the sleeves of his monk robe brushed against his face. The man smiled slightly and said, “Dashi has an excellent boxing technique!”

    The people in the hall all stared blankly at the scene. They thought that this man’s mental strength was indeed extraordinary. If Shenzhao’s fists did not change direction midway but struck the man’s Taiyang acupoints instead, how could he still live at this moment? This man regarded his own life as a child’s play, he was simply insane.

    When Shenzhao abruptly redirected his fists, he had shaken his own arms that now his arms were sore; he could not help but staring at the man for half a day, wondering whether this man was actually a madman or an idiot. If Shenzhao went back to his seat, unavoidably he would not be able to lift his head high again. He said, “Since Sire is determined not to give me face, Pinseng has no choice but to offend you. The next punch is the Black Tiger Snatching the Heart, I am going to strike the pit of Sire’s stomach.”

    The moves Bells and Drums Sounding Simultaneously and Black Tiger Snatching the Heart were both very rudimentary fist techniques, those who learned martial art for several months would have practiced these moves. Before launching the attack he shouted the name first, it was to show that he intended to score victory by relying on his strength; but by using the shallowest technique, he was also showing contempt toward the opponent.

    The man showed a faint smile without answering at all. Shenzhao was inwardly very angry; he mused, “This punch of mine is going to inflict internal injury on you; you won’t die immediately on the spot, but you’ll die three, four days later, so I can’t be considered sweeping away Ping Xi Wang’s face.” Striking a horse stand, he let out a loud shout while sending his right punch with a strong gust of wind. ‘Smack!’ the punch hit the pit of the man’s stomach.

    The man’s body swayed, he took a step back as he laughed and said, “Dashi has won. I was forced to take a step back."

    Although Shenzhao did not put forth his entire strength in this punch, the power behind it was very severe; unexpectedly it was as if the man did not feel anything, he spoke those words lightly, without any difficulty at all. Obviously, he did not sustain any injury. The civil officials among the guests did not understand this reasoning, but those who practiced martial art all knew that the man had intentionally yielded to Shenzhao. Wei Xiaobao was neither a civil nor military; he was in between ‘appeared to understand but does not really understand’.

    Shenzhao was proud to have quite a prestige in Wulin, how could he accept a victory like this? A faint layer of dark color rose up on his face; he said, “In that case, eat my fist again.” ‘Whoosh!’ he sent another punch, still striking toward the pit of that man’s stomach. This time he was using 70% of his strength. Even if the man were hit and spurted blood from his mouth, it was he who asked for trouble, Shenzhao did not have any choice.

    When Shenzhao's punch reached the front piece of the man's jacket, the man's chest suddenly shrank, his body floated backward for about half a zhang, as if he was he was jolted by the power of the punch, while actually he was evading the punch. His attacked hit an empty space, Shenzhao's anger grew. He rushed forward two steps, and with a loud shout his right leg flew up ferociously to kick the man's lower abdomen. "Aiyo!" the man cried out, it seemed like the kick was going to hit him.

    As if by prior agreement all the people stood up, only to see the man's body was bent backward; it was like his two feet were being nailed to the ground, his body was bent at the knee, he fell backward with face up, hence most of his body was like a wooden log hanging horizontally in the air, only about a chi away from the floor. Shenzhao's kick hit an empty air, about several cun above the man's legs.

    Shenzhao was in quandary, he had to either give up, or go through to the end; in Mandarin Duck Chain Kicks style, using the Black Dragon Sweeps the Earth his left leg swept across toward the man's shinbone. Without changing his posture - he was still in the Iron Panel Bridge position, his feet kicked the ground, his whole body flew up one chi. Shenzhao's leg swept pass the sole of his feet. The man fell back down steadily, he still had not stood straight.

    The people in the hall broke into a thunderous applause. With this turn of events, Shenzhao realized that his martial art skill was still inferior to that man's by a considerable margin. If the opponent had hit him back, he would have been beaten silly. Without any choice he put his palms together and said, "Good skill! My utmost admiration!"

    The man straightened up, he bowed to return the propriety and said, "Dashi's fists and kicks carried tremendous strength, Zaixia did not dare to fend off, and was forced to evade."

    Prince Kang said, "Both gentlemen have an extremely high martial art skill. His Highness Heir Apparent's attendant is very polite, he was determined not to fight back; hence the martial art competition cannot be continued. Come, both of you take two yuanbao each."

    The man bowed and said, "I don't get a reward I don't deserve."

    Seeing the man was unwilling to take the yuanbao, Shenzhao felt it was inappropriate for him to step forward to claim his reward. Prince Kang turned to his chamberlain and said, "Send the reward to both gentlemen." The man thanked the Prince and accepted the money, Shenzhao also embarrassedly received his.

    Prince Kang was fully aware that although the martial art contest a moment ago was not official, actually his side had already lost. He bestowed two big silver yuanbao to Shenzhao was only to cover up Shenzhao embarrassment, and also he stated that neither one win nor lose to conceal his own shortcomings. In his heart was still unwilling to concede, and the fight had not satisfied his craving; he thought, “Admittedly, this tall guy’s martial art skill is not bad, but I am sure the rest of Wu Yingxiong’s attendants are not as good as he is. The martial art masters under my command have astonishing skill, just look at that Qi Yuankai, perhaps his martial art level is almost the same as that Shenzhao monk.” Originally he addressed Shenzhao as ‘Shangren’, after the display of his martial art just now, in his eyes, he had already discounted Shenzhao from ‘Shangren’ to ‘heshang’ [Buddhist monk]. In loud and clear voice he said, “The contest just now cannot be continued, unavoidably it was a little … a little disappointing in something otherwise perfect. Qi Shifu, please invite fifteen martial art masters, everybody take a weapon, sixteen against sixteen, have a spar with sixteen attendants Ping Xi Wang Heir Apparent brought with him. Xiao Wangye, please tell them to show their weapons!”

    Wu Yingxiong said, “We come to Wangye’s palace as guests, how can we dare to bring our weapons?”

    Prince Kang laughed and said, “Heir Apparent is too polite. Your honored father and Xiao Wang were military commanders, throughout our lives we eke out a living amidst the sabers, spears, swords and halberds, we need not observed this old-womanish taboo. Come, get the eighteen weapons, some of each, and bring them here, let the martial art masters of Ping Xi Wang choose.” Prince Kang was a combat general, he fought from outside the Great Wall into the Central Plains; in his mansion there were all kinds of weapons. As soon as he shouted the order, his attendants immediately brought a big pile of weapons, long and short, out, and put them all in front of the sixteen Heir Apparent’s escorts.

    Qi Yuankai chose fourteen martial art masters, but he asked Shenzhao to be their leader. Shenzhao wanted to win back his face, so he uttered some polite words, but he did not decline. He thought, “In any case I need to chop and injure some southern barbarians to vent the resentment in my heart.” The fact that Ping Xi Wang was their honored guest and that he must give careful consideration to his face, and so on and so forth, had long ago vanished from his thought.

    Shenzhao, Qi Yuankai, and the others got their weapons and followed the attendants returning to the hall. Shenzhao had a pair of blue steel Jie Dao [Buddhist’s saber] in his hands. He went over to Prince Kang’s banquet table and put his palms together in salute. Prince Kang and the others slightly leaned their bodies forward and nodded to return the courtesy.

    Wei Xiaobao was very proud of himself, “Damn it,” he thought, “These people are all exceptionally skillful in martial arts, they all are big names in Jianghu, yet they still come to laozi to salute. Laozi only sitting haughtily, nodding my head to settle the matter; compared to them, my prestige is ten times more impressive.”

    Shenzhao turned around and loudly said, “Friends from Yunnan, go get your weapons!”

    The tall man who had received his five moves earlier said, “We have received Ping Xi Wang’s order, we must not fight with anybody inside the city of Beijing.”

    Shenzhao said, “When other people’s saber is blowing to your head, will you still not fight back? Other people want to chop your head, you will simply stretch out your neck? Or will you shrink your head into your neck?”

    As soon as he said those words, all Ping Xi Wang’s Palace escorts showed an angry look. Saying that they shrink their heads into their necks was just the same as cursing them as turtles. But the tall leader still spoke indifferently, “Ping Xi Wang’s military order is like a mountain. If we disobey the military order, when we return to Yunnan, it will be the same, we’ll have our heads chopped off.”

    “Fine,” Shenzhao said, “We’ll see.” He beckoned the other fifteen masters of martial art to gather in a corner of the hall and conversed in low voice. Shenzhao quietly said, “We’ll move our weapons towards their vital points, let’s see if they will still not fight back?”

    Qi Yuankai said, “It will be inappropriate if we injure them. We will simply force them to fight back.”

    Another man said, “We must be a little more careful.”

    Shenzhao shouted, “Alright, let’s fight!” Letting out a long whistle, he brandished his Jie Dao. White rays flashing, as he was the first to charge toward the sixteen Ping Xi Wang’s escorts. The other fifteen men, some using swords, some sticking out their short spears, some brandishing their steel whip, some raising their copper hammer, sixteen different weapons charged together.

    Unexpectedly, the sixteen escorts only stood motionless, with arms hanging down and palms kept close to their thighs, their eyes looked straight forward, as if they did not see the attack of those sixteen masters of martial art of Prince Kang’s mansion.

    [1] Poor or impoverished monk, a humble term used by Buddhist monks to refer to self.

  15. #75
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    Default Chapter 10 - Part 8

    Seeing their opponents were motionless, those sixteen masters of martial art showed off their skill in front of Prince Kang and the guests. Each of them displayed their most ingenious moves of their respective weapons, hacking diagonally, thrusting straight, cutting down, striking horizontally; the blades reflecting the candlelight as the sixteen weapons danced with loud gusts of wind, forming a canopy of light, surrounding the sixteen escorts in the middle.

    The civil officials repeatedly said, “Careful, careful!” The military officers noticed that every weapon was threatening the opponent’s vital points, oftentimes it was only several cun away from its target. They only needed to exert a fraction more of their strength, then they would have taken the opponent’s life. The officers were all apprehensive.

    The sixteen escorts fixed their gaze forward, they gave no thought to their own life or death; if the opponents really wanted to take their lives, they would have given their lives without a fight.

    Shenzhao and the others moved their weapons faster and faster, occasionally the weapons would collide with each other, sparks flew everywhere, clanking sounds were heard, the situation grew more and more dangerous. Although they did not want to intentionally hurt Ping Xi Wang’s subordinates, but as the swords, sabers, whips and hammers collided with each other, not only the weapons carried great forces with them, they were also so close to each other, so it was just a matter of time before the weapons would bounce and injure someone.

    Sure enough, ‘smack!’ an iron mace collided with another man’s copper hammer, and ricocheted toward a Ping Xi Wang escort’s shoulder. Following closely, someone’s saber hacked slantingly down, it flitted across, just a few cun away from the right side of an escort’s face, someone by his side happened to cut down with a sword; the saber and sword collided, the saber bounced slightly and cut the escort’s face. Instantly blood flowed from a long cut of his face. The injury of these two escorts was not light, still they did not utter a single groan, still they stood motionless.

    Prince Kang realized that if this thing continued, there would be more wounded people, but he was also somewhat disappointed that the martial art contest could not continue. He shouted, “Good martial arts! Good martial arts! Everybody hold your hands!”

    Shenzhao let out a loud shout, his pair of Jie Dao swept horizontally across, knocking the hat off of an escort’s head. The rest of his men followed suit, one after another sabers, spears, swords and halberds knocked the escorts’ hats off. The sixteen martial art masters laughed aloud, pulled back their weapons, and then leaped back off.

    Wei Xiaobao saw that among the escorts there were seven men who were bald, their shiny heads gleaming under the light; he could not help clapping his hands and laughed heartily, “Dolong Zongguan,” he said, “Your guess is really accurate, they are really a bunch of bald …” before he finished, he took a glance and saw the sixteen escorts of Ping Xi Wang Palace were still standing motionless, but their faces showed an extreme anger, their eyes looked like they were spouting fire.

    Since he was little Wei Xiaobao had mingled with people of the marketplace, naturally he was very familiar with the way of hoodlums, he felt that the action of Shenzhao and the others were very inappropriate, they did not leave even half a face to the others. Although the rogues and hoodlums of the marketplace stole, robbed, swindled, and did all kinds of shameless deeds, but when they were fighting, they always left 30% of leeway; north and south of the great river, everywhere was the same. When a patron of the brothel was infatuated with a girl and splurged ten of thousand taels on her, the old procuress would give him back several tens of taels as travel expenses, so that he would not wander destitute in a foreign land, or perhaps in desperation would hang himself or throw himself in the river. It was not because those hoodlums had a really good conscience, but rather to avoid the matter being escalated and might bring trouble in the future.

    When gambling, Wei Xiaobao often used tricks to clean up his opponent’s money, but suppose he won one tael, he would in the end let him win back one or two coins, if he won one hundred wen, he would in the end let him win back ten or twenty wen. In one hand, so that next time he would still do business with him, on the other hand, it was to avoid the other party get suspicious, or to avoid the other party became angry out of shame, and drew out his fists to beat him.

    Looking at Ping Xi Wang Palace escorts’ expression, Wei Xiaobao felt very apologetic in his heart, so he promptly left his seat and went over to them. He stooped down in front of the tall man to pick up his hat and said, “Lao Xiong is really amazing.” With both hands he put the hat back on him.

    The man bowed and said, “Thank you very much!”

    Immediately afterwards Wei Xiaobao picked all fifteen hats one by one, he said with a laugh, “By doing this, aren’t they offending friends?” He was not sure which hat belonged to whom, so he held the hats in his hands and let each one of them picked and put it on themselves.

    These escorts saw that Wei Xiaobao was sitting by their Palace’s Heir Apparent, he was the honored guest whom Prince Kang invited this time, the Gui Gong-gong who arrested Oboi; seeing that he personally picked up the hats, they all cupped their fists and repeatedly said, “We don’t dare, Xiaoren do not deserve it!”

    At first Wei Xiaobao did not have the least bit of favorable impression toward these Ping Xi Wang Palace’s people, he was hoping Wu Sangui’s subordinates would fall flat on their faces, but after being forced repeatedly by Shenzhao and the others, yet all along these people were tolerating them; thus they had aroused Wei Xiaobao’s spirit in wiping out the bullies and help the down-trodden. Seeing their appreciation seemed to be very sincere, he was even happier. Turning his head to Prince Kang he said, “Wangye, I wonder if I can borrow several taels from you.”

    Prince Kang laughed and said, “Gui Xiongdi can use anything freely. Will fifty thousand taels enough?”

    Wei Xiaobao replied with a laugh, “Why would I need that much?” Toward a chamberlain of the Prince’s mansion he said, “Quickly go buy sixteen best hats, the faster the better!” The chamberlain complied and left.

    Wu Yingxiong cupped his fist and said, “Gui Gong-gong love the house and its crow, zaixia is deeply grateful.”

    Wei Xiaobao cupped his fist to return the politeness, while saying in his heart, “What love the house and its crow? If there is any crow, wouldn’t it be you, this little turtle?”

    When Prince Kang saw Shenzhao and the others knocked down the Ping Xi Wang Palace escorts’ hats, he had already felt that it was a bit too much, he was afraid Wu Yingxiong might be offended, but to open his mouth to apologize, he also felt that it was inappropriate. Therefore, Wei Xiaobao’s action closely resembled his own heart’s desire. He said, “Attendants, reward Heir Apparent Wu’s subordinates fifty taels each.” He then thought, “If I only rewarded the other side, wouldn’t I make my own martial art master subordinates lose face?” So he added, “Our own Palace’s sixteen martial art masters will also receive fifty taels reward each!” The hall was abuzz with joyful noise.

    Songgotu rose up and poured drink for everybody on the banquet table, he said, “Xiao Wangye, your esteemed father employs the troops like a deity; today I have seen it, sure enough, the name is not in vain. Your esteemed father’s military order is stern; making everybody always ready to give their lives, no wonder he triumphs in every battle and wins every fight. Come, come, come, let us all toast Ping Xi Wang a cup!”

    Wu Yingxiong hurriedly stood up; raising his cup he said, “Junior solemnly drinks the toast on my father’s behalf; thank you gentlemen, for your generous kindness.” Everybody raised their cups and drank. Wu Yingxiong added, “In guarding the southern border, bringing peace and order to the frontier, my father depends on the Holy One’s great fortune and the appropriate arrangement of princes and dukes, as well as the senior ministers of the imperial court, who give directions to do things right. My father only serves to display utter loyalty to His Imperial Majesty; he receives instructions from princes and dukes, as well as the senior ministers of the imperial court, and does not dare to be idle. We do not dare to claim any merit.” After a few more rounds of wine, the Prince’s mansion’s chamberlain returned with sixteen hats, which he held with both hands and presented them in front of Wei Xiaobao.

    Wei Xiaobao turned to Prince Kang and said with a laugh, “Wangye, your Palace’s Shifu have accidentally knocked off other people’s hats; you ought to compensate them with new hats.”

    Prince Kang laughed and said, “I should, I should. Gui Xiongdi is very thoughtful.” He ordered his chamberlains to present the hats to Wu Yingxiong’s escorts.

    The escorts received the hats and bowed, they said, “Thank you Wangye, thank you Gui Gong-gong!” They folded the hats and put them inside their pockets, while still wearing the old hat on their heads. Prince Kang and Songgotu looked at each other, they were aware that these people did not put on the new hats out of respect to Wu Yingxiong.

    After another round of drink, the theatrical troupe in the Prince’s mansion came out to present their skill. Prince Kang asked Wu Yingxiong to select a play. Wu Yingxiong chose ‘Man Chuang Hu’ [bed full of tablets, ‘hu’ is tablet held at an audience], a lively story about Guo Ziyi celebrating his birthday, his seven sons and eight son-in-laws came to congratulate him. Guo Ziyi was a man of riches and honor, also a long-lived scholar, he came to a good end by his scholarly achievement in imperial exams, who was extremely revered by the ruler and his ministers. Wu Yingxiong chose this story to congratulate Prince Kang, but also to compare his own father, Wu Sangui, to the character of the story; it was quite a fitting play.

    After he chose a play, Prince Kang gave the playlist to Wei Xiaobao. “Gui Xiongdi,” he said, “You also choose a story.”

    Wei Xiaobao did not recognize any character on the playlist; he laughed and said, “I can’t choose. Wangye, please select a story for me, a martial art play with fighting and sturdy stick.”

    Prince Kang laughed and said, “Gui Xiongdi loves to watch military vigor. Um, we’ll choose the play about a young hero defeating a grownup, just like Xiao Xiongdi arresting Oboi. Right, we’ll select ‘Bai Shui Tan’ [beach of clear water], the young hero was an eleven years old youth, he fought and completely routed the Green Faced Tiger.”

    When ‘Man Chuang Hu’ and ‘Bai Shui Tan’ were over, the third play was ‘You Yuan Jing Meng’ [roaming the garden after awakened from a dream], where two female impersonators singing ‘Ah, Ah’ endlessly. Wei Xiaobao did not understand what they were saying, he got impatient so he stood up and left the banquet table. He saw in the side hall there were several tables where people were gambling, some played cards, some other played dice. The banker on the dice table was a military officer, a subordinate of Prince Kang. In front of him there was a big pile of his winning money. Seeing Wei Xiaobao walked near, he said with a laugh, “Gui Gong-gong, would you like to try your hand?”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed, “Alright!” he said. He glanced over and saw the tall man, Wu Yingxiong’s subordinate, was standing on the side. Wei Xiaobao had a rather favorable impression of this man, so he beckoned him to come.

    The man rushed forward a step and said, “What instruction does Gui Gong-gong have?”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “There is no father and son on the gambling table, you do not need to be polite. Lao Ge [old older brother], what’s your honorable surname? With what great name must I address you?”

    A moment ago, Shenzhao asked him and he was unwilling to answer, but Wei Xiaobao had given them a lot of face in front of the guests, plus he was asking politely, so he said, “Xiaoren is surnamed Yang, I am called Yang Yizhi.”

    Wei Xiaobao did not know the meaning of his name, ‘Yizhi’, but he blurted out what was in his mind, “Good name, good name! The Yang family has the largest number of heroes, Yang Lao Ling Gong, Yang Liulang [lit. ‘Old Honorable Commander Yang’ and ‘Sixth son (or youth) Yang’, respectively], Yang Zongbao, Yang Wenguang, Yang family warriors are all heroes. Yang Dage, let us two boys become partner in gambling!”

    Hearing Wei Xiaobao praising Yang family ancestors, Yang Yizhi was very happy; he smiled and said, “Xiaoren does not know much how to gamble.”

    “What are you afraid of?” Wei Xiaobao said, “I’ll teach you! Get those two big yuanbao out.”

    Yang Yizhi took the two big yuanbao Prince Kang bestowed to him earlier out. From his pocket Wei Xiaobao fished out a banknote; he placed it on the table and said with a laugh, “This Yang Xiong and I are partners, we bet one hundred taels!”

    The banker laughed and said, “Good, the more the better!” They were gambling with two dice, one throw to determine the winner. The banker threw first and got ‘zhang hu pai’ [sorry, I can’t find any reference on this], Wei Xiaobao tossed the dice and got seven dots, thus his hundred taels was lost.

    Wei Xiaobao said, “We’ll bet another hundred taels!” This time he won.

    After throwing for sixteen, seventeen times, come and go, they neither won nor lost. Wei Xiaobao was getting impatient, “It’s not a big deal if I lose several hundred taels, but if I implicate this surnamed Yang that he loses those two yuanbao, I am letting him down.” His next throw produced six dots, he was ninety percent sure he would lose; who would have thought that the banker tossed five dots? Wei Xiaobao laughed aloud; hereafter he repeatedly won several times. One hundred taels became two hundred; two hundred taels became four hundred. In three throws of the dice, he won four hundred taels.

    The military officer who was the banker laughed and said, “Gui Gong-gong has good gambling luck.”

    Wei Xiaobao replied with a laugh, “You say I have good gambling luck? Let’s try again, then!” He pushed the entire four hundred taels to the table and threw the dice; he got four and six, the banker threw and got a long three, so he lost. Wei Xiaobao turned his head and said, “Yang Dage, shall we continue betting or not?”

    “I rely on Gui Gong-gong’s idea,” Yang Yizhi replied.

    Wei Xiaobao added the original four hundred taels he had to compensate for the four hundred taels he just lost, he put eight hundred taels altogether and said with a laugh, “I want some refreshing gambling experience.” He shouted, “Compensate my loss!”

    The dice were tossed; they rolled around chaotically, after a moment, one rolled and became six dots, but the other one was still rolling continuously. Wei Xiaobao had secretly exerted his strength, he wanted the dice to show double-six, which was called ‘the Heaven’. But the dice were not his, his throwing skill had not been brought to the point of perfection. The second die finally stopped, it showed two dots, for the total of eight dots, so most likely he would lose. Wei Xiaobao rained curses, “Straight your mother’s stinky dice, why don’t you help me?”

    The banker laughed heartily, “Gui Gong-gong,” he said, “I am afraid this time I am going to eat yours.” He tossed the dice. One showed a five-dot, the other was still rolling continuously.

    Wei Xiaobao shouted, “Two, two, two!” If the die showed a one, it would become one five, a three dots would become eight, eight would defeat the eight, the banker won. If four dots, the total would be nine, if five dots, it would become a plum blossom, if six dots, it would become an ‘ox head’. All these combinations would beat his eight; only if it showed two dots would the banker lose. Wei Xiaobao did not stop yelling; but as luck would have it, the die rolled several more times, then stopped inside the bowl, it really showed two dots.[1]


    [1] Out of curiosity, I searched the web for dice combinations; I found this one from http://www.gamesmuseum.uwaterloo.ca/...haktinkau.html. It is a bit different from the one depicted above. (Unfortunately it’s not in pinyin)

    Chák t'ín kau, "throwing heaven and nine," is played with 2 dice. In this game the 21 throws that can be made with 2 dice receive different names, and are divided into two series, or suits, called man, "civil," and mò "military."

    The 11 man throws in the order of their rank are:
    · "Double six," called t'ín, "heaven."
    · "Double one," called tí, "earth."
    · "Double four," called yan, "man."
    · "One, three" called wo, "harmony."
    · "Double five," called múi "plum (flower)."
    · "Double three," called ch'éung sám, "long threes."
    · "Double two," caller pán táng, "bench."
    · "Five, six," called fú t'au, "tiger's head."
    · "Four, six," called hung t'au shap, "red head ten."
    · "One, six," called kò kéuk ts'at, "long leg seven."
    · "One, five," called hung ch'ui luk, "red mallet six."

    The 10 mò throws in the order of their rank are:
    · "Five, four," and "six, three," called kau, " nines."
    · "Five, three," and "six, two," called pát, "eights."
    · "Five, two," and "four, three," ts'at, "sevens."
    · "Four, two," Called luk, "six."
    · "Three, two," and "four, one," called 'ng, "fives."
    · "One, two," called sám, "three," or sám kai, "three final."

  16. #76
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 10 - Part 9

    Wei Xiaobao was delighted; he laughed and said, “General, your gambling luck today is not too good.”

    The officer laughed and said, “Banker’s bad luck, banker’s bad luck. It was because Gui Gong-gong giving the order. Whatever your heart wishes, your hands accomplish; naturally I can’t beat you in gambling.” He paid Wei Xiaobao three banknotes, two hundred taels each, plus two yuanbao, worth one hundred taels each.

    Wei Xiaobao rubbed the sweat on his palms, he laughed and said, “I receive the benefit of the light!” To Yang Yizhi he said, “Yang Dage, we lack the prospect of picking up green fruits; let’s stop gambling.” While squeezing eight hundred taels to Yang Yizhi’s hand.

    For no rhyme or reason Yang Yizhi received a sudden wealth, his heart was overjoyed; “Gui Gong-gong,” he said, “What is that general’s name?”

    Wei Xiaobao was startled; he replied in low voice, “I haven’t asked.” Turning his head over toward the officer, he asked, “Great General, your honorable surname and your great given name?”

    The military officer beamed from ear to ear, he stood up and respectfully replied, “Reporting to Gui Gong-gong: Xiao Jiang Jiang Baizheng, Regional Commander of the Office of Record, I have always been serving under Prince Kang’s banner.”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “General Jiang, fighting wars you are ever-victorious, but in gambling you are not too successful.”

    Jiang Baizheng laughed and said, “When gambling with others, more or less Xiao Jiang can also be considered ever-victorious. It’s just that there will be a stronger hand among the strong, plus today I met Gong-gong, Jiang Baizheng has turned into Jiang Baibai[1].”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed aloud and walked away. Suddenly he thought, “Why did that surnamed Yang want me to ask the banker’s name?” While he was pondering, from a distant he watched that fellow Jiang Baizheng’s technique in throwing the dice. He saw how he lifted the dice, shifted his wrist, bending his finger, and threw the dice; it was an extremely skilled technique, truly he was a first-class gambling expert in Jianghu. When gambling with him a while ago, Wei Xiaobao did not pay any attention. Suddenly it dawned on him, “Turns out this fellow was deliberately losing to me, no wonder I had won five times in a row, where have I had such a gambling luck? Damn it, laozi has a lot of money, I don’t care about winning or losing, otherwise once I was at the table, I would have seen it. That Yunnan fellow surnamed Yang also understands the trick, he is not a ‘cattle’ either, he is a ‘sheep killer’.”

    He thought further, “Why would a total stranger Regional Commander of the Office of Record wanted to lose money intentionally to me? Naturally it was because I have a face in front of the Emperor, everybody hopes I would say good words on their behalf. Or even if I don’t speak good words, at least I won’t pound on their eggs. F*ck your granny, he spent one thousand four hundred taels just to win laozi’s favor; it’s very cheap!”

    Now that he knew people would deliberately lose to him, that victory was easy, he did not want to gamble anymore. Returning to the banquet hall, he ate some dishes and watched the opera. By this time they were playing ‘Si Fan’ [considering the mundane/material world], where a Buddhist nun was acting and singing, while the people on the side constantly cheering and applauding. Wei Xiaobao did not understand what kind of trick she was playing, he felt extremely bored, so he stood up.

    Prince Kang laughed, “Xiao Xiongdi, what do you want to play?” he asked, “No need to be polite, do not hesitate to give your instruction.”

    Wei Xiaobao replied, “I am going to find something fun to do myself, please do not be polite.” He saw at the corridor people were shouting noisily, the gambling was very lively, his heart was itching a little bit, but he thought, “What the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over; I am not going to gamble today.”

    From the last time he visited to Prince Kang’s mansion, he still vaguely remembered the layout of the Palace, so he walked toward the rear hall.

    Everywhere in the Palace lanterns and candles were brilliantly lit. When the people of the Prince’s mansion saw him, they would stand up respectfully with hands hanging on their side. Wei Xiaobao strolled leisurely; suddenly he had an urge to urinate, yet he did not wish to ask anybody where the lavatory was. He saw there was a small garden on his left, so he shoved the long window open and walked into a dark corner. He pulled his pants down and was about to urinate when suddenly from the other side of the flower bushes he heard some people spoke in low voices.

    Someone said, “Give me the money first, then I’ll take you in.”

    Another man said, “Take me in first, after I find that thing, naturally your money won’t decrease the least bit.”

    The former man said, “Money first, goods later. If after getting the goods you don’t give me the money, where can I go to find you?”

    The other man said, “Alright, here is a thousand taels, I give you a 10% prepayment.”

    Wei Xiaobao’s heart was moved, “One thousand taels is only 10%? What kind of important goods is that?” Instantly he endured the urge to urinate and bent his ear to listen.

    He heard the first person said, “Fifty percent prepayment, otherwise this deal is off. This is a ‘removing-head’ important matter, you think it is amusing?”

    The other man hesitated slightly, then he said, “Fine, here are banknotes worth five thousand taels, you may take it first.”

    “Thank you very much,” the first person said. There was rustling noise as the banknotes were being counted, and then he said, “Follow me!”

    Wei Xiaobao’s curiosity was piqued, he mused, “Whatever ‘removing-head’ important matter it is, I cannot not follow them to take a look.” He heard the footsteps of those two men were heading west, so he slipped out of the flowering bush to follow them from a distance. He saw the back of those two men as they walked evasively among the flowering shrubs and trees; they stopped after every few zhang and looked around to see if anybody saw them. Wei Xiaobao thought, "They are so sneaky, whatever it is they are doing, it must not be a good thing. Prince Kang has treated me really well, I'll show him my, Gui Gong-gong's way of doing things by catching two incorrigible thieves for him tonight." First, he felt the dagger, which could cut iron like mud, hidden in his boot; second, he felt the vest he was wearing, the treasured vest which even sabers and spears could not penetrate, and then his courage was boosted somewhat.

    He saw the two men walked through the garden and entered an exquisite looking cottage. Wei Xiaobao walked on tiptoe to come near; he saw lantern light penetrated the flower-carved window lattice. Walking around toward the rear window, he moistened his finger with his saliva to wet the window paper, and then peeked inside with one eye through the hole. He saw the room was a shrine to worship Buddha, with an image of Tathagata Buddha sitting on the offering table, and an oil lantern in front of the image. A man dressed in servant attire said in low voice, "I spent more than a year just to find the location of this thing, your ten thousand taels is not an easy money."

    The other man, whose back was facing Wei Xiaobao, asked, "Where is it?"

    "Give it to me first!" the servant said.

    The other man turned around and said, "Give you what?" This man had a thin face, he was none other than Qi Yuankai, who a moment ago blocked that martial art master surnamed Lang from leaving the main hall.

    The servant said with a laugh, "Qi Shifu is asking something that you already know the answer, naturally I am talking about the five thousand taels."

    "You are really formidable," Qi Yuankai said. He pulled a bundle of banknotes from his pocket. The servant examined the banknotes one by one under the lamp light.

    Wei Xiaobao was very scared; he knew that Qi Yuankai's martial art skill was very high, plus whatever they were doing must be a shady business with a very heavy responsibility, if his presence was detected, they might kill him immediately to close his mouth. In his fright, his pee flowed out. He thought he might as well let the nature take its course, by letting the pee flowed along his thigh to the ground without making the least bit of noise.

    After counting the banknotes, the servant laughed and said, "Correct." Lowering his voice, he whispered on Qi Yuankai's ear. Qi Yuankai nodded repeatedly, but Wei Xiaobao was unable to hear even a single sentence.

    He saw Qi Yuankai suddenly leaped up vertically onto the sacrificial table. Turning his head around to look, he then reached out to feel around the Buddha image's left ear. He moved his finger for a while, and then pulled out a tiny object. He jumped back down and raised his hand to look at the object under the candlelight; it was a key, glittering yellow under the light, presumably it was cast from gold. The key was about the length of a small finger, it couldn't be more than a liang [50 grams] of gold.

    Qi Yuankai was beaming from ear to ear. Then he looked down to count the bricks, about a dozen or more bricks horizontally, and a dozen or more bricks vertically. He stooped down to pull a dagger from his boot, and then used the dagger to pry open a square brick; he cheered in a low voice.

    The servant said, "Genuine goods at fair prices, I did not swindle you!"

    Qi Yuankai did not reply, he gently inserted the golden key downward; presumably there was a keyhole underneath the square brick. 'Click!' the lock opened. Qi Yuankai looked stunned, he said, "How come it won't open? Perhaps it is the wrong key."

    The servant said, "Why can't you open it? Wangye personally unlocked it, I saw it clearly from outside the window." While saying that, he bent down and got hold of something and pulled it out.

    Suddenly there was a swishing noise, a crossbow mechanism shot up from below, and hit the servant at the pit of his stomach. "Ah!" the servant cried out pitifully and fell backward, the iron lid he was holding in his hand flew up. Qi Yuankai leaned sideways and reached out to catch the iron lid so that it would not fall to the ground and create a lot of noise. Squatting behind the servant, he pressed down the servant's mouth using his right hand to guard against him crying out and alarm other people, while with his left hand he grabbed the servant's left wrist and used the servant's hand to grope around the hole.

    Wei Xiaobao was stunned to see this; he thought, "Turns out there is another mechanism in the hole. This man surnamed Qi is really formidable."

    This time the crossbow mechanism no longer shoot any arrows. Qi Yuankai used his own hand to fish out something, it was a bundle wrapped in cloth. With his right hand he flung the servant to the floor; he rose up, lifted his right foot up and stepped on the servant's mouth to prevent him from making any noise. And then he leaned forward to put the bundle on the sacrificial table and opened it.

    Wei Xiaobao took a very deep breath; he saw that the object inside the bundle was a scripture. From the millions scriptures in the world, Wei Xiaobao could only read the title of one scripture, which is the ‘Forty-two-chapter Sutra’, and this book was precisely the ‘Forty-two-chapter Sutra’. The size and shape of this book was identical to the ones he got from Oboi's mansion, only the envelope was made of red silk.

    Qi Yuankai quickly re-wrapped the scripture in its original cloth wrapper; lifting up his left foot, he stepped forcefully on the arrow's tail. With a light 'Puff!' the crossbow's arrow went deep into the servant's chest. The servant was already seriously injured, naturally this arrow killed him instantly. Since Qi Yuankai's right foot was stepping on his mouth, only a muffled 'humph' was heard; his body convulsed a little bit, then he stopped moving altogether.

    Wei Xiaobao was so terrified that his heart was thumping hard. Actually he had finished urinating, but this time he could not help but peeing again in his pants.

    He saw Qi Yuankai bending down to take the banknotes from the servant's pocket, which he then put into his own pocket. With a cold laugh he said, "Now you can get rich!" After hesitating for a moment, he placed the golden key in the servant's dead body's right palm, and curled the dead body's fingers to hold the key; only then did he rush out in quick steps.

    Wei Xiaobao thought, "He is about to run away, must I raise the alarm now?"

    Suddenly a shadow flashed, Qi Yuankai was already on the roof. Wei Xiaobao shrank his body as small as possible, he did not dare to make the slightest move; he only heard the sound of roof tiles being moved around. A moment later, Qi Yuankai leaped down and haughtily walked away.

    "Right," Wei Xiaobao thought, "He is hiding the sutra under the tile, he will be back later to pick it up. Humph, it won't be that easy."

    He waited for a while, until Qi Yuankai had left far away. He did not have the ability to leap up to the roof, but he could climb up the pillar of the corridor. Pulling himself up the eaves, he managed to flip his body onto the roof. Remembering where the tile noise came from, he overturned about a dozen roof tiles before under the hazy darkness of the night he saw the corner of the cloth-wrapper.

    He took out the bundle and put the tiles back in place. "Why is this ‘Forty-two-chapter Sutra’ so valuable?" he mused, "The old turtle, the Empress Dowager, this man surnamed Qi, and then Oboi, Prince Kang; they all treated this book as a priceless treasure. If I, Wei Xiaobao, did not take advantage by seizing this undeserved fortune, I am carrying this surname Wei in vain." Untying the cloth-wrapper, he stuffed the sutra flat against his waist and tightened his belt over it. His gown was spacious to begin with; surprisingly the book was not visible at all. After throwing the cloth wrapper into the flowering shrubs, he returned to the main hall.

    The hall was exactly the same as it had been when he left; those who were gambling were still gambling, those who were listening to the song were still listening to the song, the female impersonator who played the Buddhist nun was still coyly singing endlessly. Wei Xiaobao asked Songgotu, "This woman putting on an act like that, what trick is she playing?"

    Songgotu replied with a laugh, "This little nun is thinking about a man in the monastery, she wants to run away, going down the mountain to marry; just look at her face, it is overflowing with the thoughts of love, she is throwing coquettish glances one by one ..." Suddenly he remembered that Wei Xiaobao was an eunuch, he must not talk about the matter between men and women too much, or else he would upset him; thereupon he said, "This play is not too interesting, Gui Gong-gong (although the two of them were sworn brothers, in front of other people they must not address each other as brother), let me select another play for you. Um, how about 'Ya Guan Lou' [elegant and tasteful upstairs room], Li Cunxiao beats the tiger; a young hero, it was not a small matter. Afterwards we can watch the 'Zong Kui Jia Mei' [Zhong Kui[2] marries off his younger sister]. Zhong Kui's subordinates, the five little demons, doing acrobatic and fighting, it is very lively."

    Wei Xiaobao clapped his hands and cheered. "But I have to return to the Palace," he said, "I am afraid I don't have time."

    Casting a sidelong glance, he saw Qi Yuankai was in the middle of playing the finger-guessing game with another martial art master, 'The Brightest and the Best of Five Confucianism Classics', 'Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea', shouting and yelling noisily. After playing for a while, he asked in loud voice, "Shenzao Shangren, where is that fellow surnamed Lang?"

    The martial art masters around the banquet table said, "We haven't seen him for quite a while, perhaps he has slipped out."

    With a cold laugh Shenzao said, "That man does not know how to appreciate favors, I suppose he doesn't have any face to stay in the Palace much longer."

    Qi Yuankai said, "Most likely he slipped away; this person is sneaky, it's good if he did not steal anything before he left."

    A martial art master said, "That would be very difficult to say."

    Wei Xiaobao said in his heart, "The way this man surnamed Qi handling matters is very thorough; he made that man surnamed Lang lose face in a big way first, and thus he had no choice but had to sneak out quietly. When the people in the Palace discover a dead body and a missing object, naturally the suspicion will fall onto that man surnamed Lang. Very good, I must learn this clever trick; before doing anything, I must find a good scapegoat first."

    Seeing it was getting late, the Chief of Imperial Bodyguards Dolong got up to take his leave, saying that he was on duty in the Palace. Wei Xiaobao followed by also taking his leave. Prince Kang did not dare to detain them; chuckling, he sent them off the door. Wu Yingxiong, Songgotu, and the others also sent them off to the main gate. Wei Xiaobao had just climbed into a sedan chair when Yang Yizhi stepped forward and presented a bundle with both hands, saying, "Our Heir Apparent presents this little gift to Gui Gong-gong, hoping Gong-gong will not dislike this meager present."

    "Thank you very much," Wei Xiaobao replied with a laugh, he received the gift with both hands, and then still laughing he said, "Yang Dage, I feel like meeting an old friend when we met for the first time. I consider you as a good friend, if I give you some money, I would be disrespectful to you. When I have free time some other day, I'll invite you for some drink."

    Yang Yizhi was delighted; he said with a laugh, "Gong-gong has already given me seven hundred taels, isn't that enough?"

    Wei Xiaobao guffawed and said, "That was somebody else who foot the bill, it doesn't count."

    Not too far after the sedan chair left the alley, Wei Xiaobao was getting impatient; he ordered the porters to halt the sedan chair and raised the lantern on the outside of the chair, and then he unwrapped the bundle to look at the gift. It consisted of three brocade boxes, in one box was a pair of emerald chicken, a rooster and a hen, the craftsmanship was very exquisite. In the second case were two strings of pearls together, each string had a hundred pearls. Although the size of the pearls was not as big as the ones he ground and applied to Xiao Junzhu’s face, it was very rare to find two hundred perfectly round and flawless pearls at the same size. He was delighted, “I lied to Xiao Junzhu, telling her I was going to buy some pearls; Wu Yingxiong has just helped me cover up my lie.” Inside the third brocade box were gold banknotes, each sheet was ten liang of gold, altogether there were forty sheets, worth four hundred liang of gold.

    Wei Xiaobao mused, “Next time I see Wu Yingxiong, that little traitor, I would coldly and indifferently thank him, so that I would appear dissatisfied with his below average gift; he would definitely try to make up for it. This is the ingenious method Suo Dage taught me. If this little traitor pretends not to understand, laozi would simply look him in the eye, ‘Hey, Xiao Wangye, you gave me a pair of tiny green chicken, what’s so amusing about them? They don’t look like real chicken.’ The little traitor would ask me, ‘Gui Gong-gong, what do you mean they don’t look like real chicken?’ Laozi would simply say, ‘Where in the world can you find rooster and hen that small? Even sparrows are a lot bigger than those chickens. Besides, green parrot, green peacocks, I have seen a lot, but green chicken? I have never seen any. I wonder if you have green chicken in Yunnan.’ The little traitor could only laugh bitterly. Laozi would also say, ‘Even if there is green chicken, shouldn’t the rooster’s cockscomb be red? Anyhow, the hen cannot lay eggs, what kind of treasure is that?’ Ha ha, ha ha …!”

    Returning to the Palace, Wei Xiaobao hurriedly went back to his own room. He unlatched the bolt, lighted the candle, opened the bed curtain, and said with a laugh, “Are you tired of waiting?” He saw Xiao Junzhu was still lying motionless on the bed; her eyes were opened wide, with several pieces of cake were still piled up on her mouth, unexpectedly she did not eat even a single piece. He took out the two strings of pearls and said with a laugh, “Look, I buy you these two strings of pearls. I am going to grind it and applied it onto your face. If you don’t become the most beautiful young woman under the heavens, my surname is not … is not Gui! Are you hungry? Why don’t you eat the cake? Let me help you up so you can eat.” Reaching out, he propped her and sat her up; suddenly his flank went numb, followed by a burst of pain on the pit of his stomach.

    “Ah!” Wei Xiaobao cried out in alarm, his knees turned soft and he fell sitting down on the floor; his entire body was numb and he was unable to move at all.

    Note: The word ‘lavatory’ from the title of this chapter ‘each one as lofty as gentlemen's lavatory’ means ‘mingle together’. From ‘The Record of the Grand Historian’ by Sima Qian – Cheerful and Staunch Legend: ‘The guests inside the lavatory’.


    [1] His name ‘bai sheng’ means ‘hundred victories’, ‘bai bai’ mean ‘hundred loses/defeats’.

    [2] A mythological figure, supposed to drive away evil spirits.

  17. #77
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    Default Chapter 11 - Part 1

    Chapter 11 - At the end of spring, a shadow departs the small courtyard; in the night, light garment emitting faint fragrance.
    (Translated by Foxs)


    LuDingJi-11.jpg

    Wei Xiaobao picked a candlestick, he saw half of the woman’s face was covered in blood, she was approximately seventeen, eighteen years of age, with an oval face, and looked very beautiful; he could not help but praise, “Turns out this stinky Xiao Niang Pi is a beautiful girl.” Xiao Junzhu said, “Don’t curse my Shijie.”

  18. #78
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    Default Chapter 11 - Part 2

    Xiao Junzhu giggled, she lifted the quilt and got down from the bed. "My acupoints have been unsealed early on," she said with a laugh, "I have been waiting for a long time, why are you back only now?"

    Wei Xiaobao was puzzled, "Who unsealed your acupoints?" he asked.

    Xiao Junzhu replied, "Sealed acupoints will open after twelve, fourteen hours, no need for someone to open it. I'll help you to the bed, and then I'll go."

    Wei Xiaobao was very anxious, "You can't, you can't!" he called out, "The scars on your face haven't healed yet. I must apply some medicine on you before you will be healed completely.

    Xiao Junzhu giggled and said, "You are really bad, always deceive people. When did you carve my face? You made me worry for half a day."

    "How do you know?" Wei Xiaobao asked.

    "I was able to get down the bed early on and looked at the mirror," Xiao Junzhu replied, "There is nothing on my face."

    Wei Xiaobao looked at her face and noticed that it was bright, spotlessly white and soft; the bean paste, lotus seed paste and other things he applied on her face had been washed clean, he felt quite regretful, "I was in such a rush that I did not look at her face first, if I had seen that she had washed her face, whatever it was, I would never come close to her." he said, "It was because I applied my miracle cure on you, naturally you will be healed. Otherwise, why would I go to buy more pearls for you? I went to jewelry stores all around Beijing before I can find these two strings of pearls. I also bought a pair of exceptionally pretty toys for you."

    "What kind of toys?" Xiao Junzhu asked hastily.

    Wei Xiaobao said, "Unseal my acupoints first, then I'll get it for you."

    "Alright!" Xiao Junzhu said. She was just stretching out her hand to unseal his acupoints when suddenly she saw he was rolling his eyes incessantly; her heart was moved. She laughed and said, "I almost fell into your trick. If I unseal your acupoints, you won't let me go."

    "Can't be, can't be," Wei Xiaobao busily said, "A real man gave his words, that horse cannot chase it."

    "You mean 'team of four horses cannot chase it'!" Xiao Junzhu said, "What do you mean 'that horse cannot chase it'?"

    "That horse can run faster than a team of four horses," Wei Xiaobao replied, "If that horse cannot chase it, naturally a team of four horses cannot chase it even more."

    Xiao Junzhu did not know which horse he was talking about, she was half believing half doubting; she said, "'That horse cannot chase it', this is the first time I've ever heard it."

    "Now you have learned it," Wei Xiaobao said, "These toys are very amusing, one is male, the other female."

    "Are they rabbits?" Xiao Junzhu asked.

    Wei Xiaobao shook his head, "No, they are not. They are ten times more fun than rabbits."

    "Are they goldfish?" Xiao Junzhu asked.

    Wei Xiaobao shook his head vigorously, "What's so fun about goldfish?" he said, "These toys are a hundred times more fun than goldfish."

    Xiao Junzhu guessed several more toys, all were incorrect. She said, "Take it out quickly! What is it?"

    Wei Xiaobao wanted to lure her into unsealing his acupoints first, he said, "As soon as you unseal my acupoints, I will show it to you."

    Xiao Junzhu shook her head, "No, can't do. I am leaving now, Gege has not seen me, he must be very worried."

    "Your acupoints have been opened for a long time," Wei Xiaobao said, "Why haven't you left? Why must you wait for me?"

    Xiao Junzhu said, "You are kind enough to buy me some pearls, I must thank you first and say goodbye to you. If I simply leave without saying anything, won't I be too unfair to other people?"

    Wei Xiaobao sniggered in his belly, "Turns out this little miss is a little idiot; Mu Palace people are blockheads, they are really not being surnamed incorrectly." He said, "That's right, I was so worried that being alone, you might be afraid in here, so I desperately ran along the streets, I wanted to buy the pearls as soon as possible, but looking from store to store, I couldn't find any that met my satisfaction, I was very anxious in my heart, I tumbled down several times."

    "Aiyo!" Xiao Junzhu cried out softly, "Are you hurt?"

    With distressed look on his face Wei Xiaobao said, "One time, I fell and hit a big stone on the pit of my stomach, the pain was unbearable."

    "Are you feeling better now?" Xiao Junzhu asked.

    Wei Xiaobao groaned several times, "My injury is not light, it is getting more and more painful. You ... you ... sealed my acupoints and unwilling to unseal it, my ... my ... my breath can't ... can't ... can't come up ... I ... I ..." His voice was getting lower and lower, suddenly his eyeballs rolled until only the white part was visible, as if he fainted, his breathing also stopped.

    Xiao Junzhu reached out to feel his breathing, and indeed he was not breathing; she was shocked. "Ah!" she cried out; with a trembling voice she asked, "How can you die?"

    Wei Xiaobao said intermittently, "You have ... have mistakenly ... mistakenly sealed my ... sealed my death ... death acupoint."

    "It can't be, it can't be," Xiao Junzhu anxiously said, "Shifu taught me acupoint sealing technique, it can't be wrong. I clearly sealed your Ling Xu and Bu Liang, two acupoints, and also Tian Chi[1] acupoint."

    Wei Xiaobao said, "You ... you were flustered, you sealed ... sealed the wrong acupoint. Aiyo! The chi and blood in my body are welling up, the channels of chi are reversed, my world is turning upside down, I suffer from fire ... fire ..."

    "Fire deviation?" Xiao Junzhu said.

    "Exactly," Wei Xiaobao said, "Aiyo! How can you be so muddleheaded? You haven't properly mastered the acupoint sealing technique, but randomly and blindly use it on my body? You did not seal any Ling Xu or Bu Liang acupoints, but you sealed my death acupoint. I am ninety percent sure it was the death acupoint!" He did not know any acupoint names, otherwise he would have mentioned the name of several fatal acupoints.

    Xiao Junzhu was still very young, naturally she had not mastered her family's martial art skill. Acupoint sealing technique was indeed very difficult and complicated; there are several hundred major acupoints in human body, located only several fen away from each other. In a great rush, it was not uncommon to seal the wrong acupoint. However, she had received directions from good master, and was very familiar with the locations of these three acupoints. Although her strength was somewhat lacking, the acupoints she was sealing was not the slightest bit incorrect. It's just that it was a new skill and this was the first time she used it, hence she did not have too much self-confidence. With Wei Xiaobao looking so distressed, and his acting was extremely believable, she thought she had indeed mistakenly sealed the fatal acupoint. "Could it be ... could it be that I have sealed your Shan Zhong [lit. mutton smell] acupoint?" she asked anxiously.

    "Exactly," Wei Xiaobao said, "It's exactly the Shan Zhong acupoint. But don't be grieved, you ... you ... you did not do it intentionally. After I die, I won't blame you. When Yan ... Yanluo Wang asks, I won't say that you sealed my death acupoint ... I will say that I was not being careful, that my finger has sealed my own death acupoint that I died."

    Hearing that he was willing to cover her up in front of the Yanluo Wang, Xiao Junzhu felt grateful, but also apologetic; she busily said, "Quick ... don't say anything, quickly unseal your acupoints, perhaps you can still be saved." Hastily she reached out to massage his chest and armpit.

    Since the force with which she seal acupoint was not too strong, only by massaging a little while, Wei Xiaobao was already able to move. He groaned several times and said, "Ay, you have sealed my death acupoint, I won't live!"

    Xiao Junzhu anxiously said, "Perhaps I can still save you. I was not being careful and sealed the wrong acupoint. Really ... really sorry."

    "I know you are a good person," Wei Xiaobao said, "After I die, I will bless and protect you from the netherworld; from dawn to dusk, my ghost will always be your side."

    Xiao Junzhu shrieked. "Your ghost will always be my side?" she asked.

    "You shouldn't be afraid," Wei Xiaobao said, "My ghost will not harm you. It's just that there is a rule that whoever killed me, my ghost will always follow that person."

    The more Xiao Junzhu thought about it, the more scared she was; "I did not kill you intentionally," she said.

    Wei Xiaobao sighed; he said, "Little Miss, what is your name?"

    Xiao Junzhu took a step back. “Why do you ask?” she said. Her face showed astonishment. “You are going to tell on me in the netherworld, aren’t you?” she asked, “I won’t tell you.”

    Wei Xiaobao shook his head, “I won’t tell on you,” he said.

    “Why did you ask, then?” Xiao Junzhu asked.

    “So that when I am in netherworld I can bless and protect you,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “I have a lot of ghost friends in the netherworld; I will ask everybody to work hard together to bless and protect you, no matter where you go, several thousand several hundred of ghosts will follow you.”

    Xiao Junzhu was so scared that she screamed and hastily said, “No, please don’t! Don’t follow me.”

    “How about only me, one ghost, following you around?” Wei Xiaobao said.

    Xiao Junzhu hesitated for a moment; she said, “If you … if you won’t scare me, then it’s alright.”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “Of course I am not going to scare you. When you are sitting down in the day time, my ghost will drive the fly away from you; when you are sleeping at night, my ghost will keep the mosquitoes away from you. When you are bored, my ghost will come to you in a dream, telling you stories that are very, very pleasant to hear.”

    “Why do you treat me this good?” Xiao Junzhu asked; sighing gloomily, she said, “It would be better if you don’t die.”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “There is something you promised me, but you haven’t done it yet. Ay, I won’t die with my eyes closed.”

    “What is it? What did I promise to you?” Xiao Junzhu asked.

    Wei Xiaobao said, “You promised to call me ‘Good Gege’ three times. If before I die I can hear you call, then I will die with my eyes closed.”

    Xiao Junzhu was born in the Palace, into a noble family who ruled Guizhou province for generations; her parents, older brother, as well as her elders, all doted on her very much. Although by the time she was born the country was already ruined and the people perished, as a minister’s family whose ancestors had done meritorious deeds, they had numerous slaves and servants who cherished this ‘golden-branch, jade leaves’ Junzhu in every possible way. In all her life, no one had ever lied to her or scared her. Growing up, she always heard that she must never tell even half a word of lies. Consequently, when she heard Wei Xiaobao’s nonsense, at first she accepted every word as the truth. But after a while she saw that the more he talked the more spirited he was, and when talking about her calling him ‘Good Gege’ three times his eyes were gleaming with mischief. She was only naïve and kind-hearted, but not at all an idiot. Realizing that Wei Xiaobao was teasing her, she took a step backward and said, “You deceived me, you are not going to die at all.”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed heartily and said, “Even if I am not going to die for the time being, I will die in several days anyway.”

    “You won’t die in several days,” Xiao Junzhu said.

    Wei Xiaobao said, “Granted that I may not die in several days, but in the future I will die. If you don’t call me ‘Good Gege’ three times, my ghost will follow you day and night, I will continuously call you, ‘Good … Mei … Mei … Good … Mei … Mei …!’” He pinched his throat hard that his voice was dragged long and shrill, it sounded like a wretched ill wind, extremely scary. He also stuck out his tongue, pretended to be a ghost who died of hanging.

    “Ah!” Xiao Junzhu screamed and turned around to run out of the room. Wei Xiaobao ran after her. Seeing she was stretching out her hand to pull out the door bolt, he hurriedly grabbed and pulled her waist, saying, “You must not go out, there are too many evil spirits outside.”

    “Let me go,” Xiao Junzhu anxiously said, “I want to go home.”

    “You can’t go,” Wei Xiaobao said. Xiao Junzhu hacked down with the edge of her right palm toward his right wrist.

    Wei Xiaobao flipped his palm and caught her forearm, Xiao Junzhu pulled back her elbow. Forming a fist with her left hand, she struck down the top of Wei Xiaobao’s head. Wei Xiaobao drew back and down to evade this punch blow, but he grabbed her calf. Xiao Junzhu launched the stance ‘Tiger Tail Scissors’, her left palm hacked diagonally down. Wei Xiaobao was unable to dodge; ‘smack!’ his shoulder was hit. He pulled with all his might, Xiao Junzhu was unable to stand, she was pulled down to the ground. Wei Xiaobao scrambled up to wrestle her, Xiao Junzhu legs flew out with ‘Mandarin Ducks Chain Kicks’ toward his face. Wei Xiaobao rolled away, but he caught and twisted her left arm.

    Xiao Junzhu’s punching and kicking skill was taught by a prominent master, it was far more superior to the essence of skill Wei Xiaobao had learned. If the two of them were having a real martial art competition, Wei Xiaobao was not her match. However, the two of them were wrestling on the floor right now, one wanted to go, the other grabbing and twisting her, preventing her from leaving. In this kind of twisting, pouncing and wrestling skill, Wei Xiaobao had undergone an extensive training, he had had martial art competition with Kangxi for almost a year. Although the martial art skill Hai Laogong taught him was half true and half fake, plus he trained carelessly, in the end his body was still trained and he still knew several tricks of qin na.

    In these several rounds, although the pit of Wei Xiaobao’s stomach had received two blows, he managed to catch Xiao Junzhu’s right arm, which he bent and twisted backward. “Surrender?” he asked with a laugh.

    “No!” Xiao Junzhu replied.

    Wei Xiaobao raised his left knee and knelt on her arm, he asked again, "Surrender?"

    Xiao Junzhu still said, "No!"

    Wei Xiaobao increased the force on his hand to twist her arm behind her back harder. "Ah!" Xiao Junzhu screamed and began to cry.

    During Wei Xiaobao's bouts with Kangxi, no matter how severe the pain those two boys experienced, they had never shown any weakness, much less crying. Whenever one of them was pinned down by the opponent and was unable to move, he would simply called out, "Surrender!" and then he would be considered the loser of that round, before they started wrestling again. Unexpectedly Xiao Junzhu's attitude was totally different from Kangxi, she cried as soon as she lost. "Pei!" Wei Xiaobao spat, "Useless little girl!" and he let her go.


    [1] Lit. Spirit Mound, Stepped Corridor, and Heavenly Pool, respectively.

  19. #79
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    Default Chapter 11 - Part 3

    Right this moment, suddenly they heard a 'crack!' on the window lattice. "Aiyo!" Wei Xiaobao cried out in a low voice, "A ghost!"

    Xiao Junzhu was shocked; she reached out to hug him. They heard some noise on the window frame, the window was shoved open with creaking noise. This time, even Wei Xiaobao was frightened. "It's really a ghost!" he said in trembling voice. Xiao Junzhu threw herself forward and crawled underneath the quilt; her body was trembling all over.

    The window was slowly pushed open, someone in gloomy voice called out, "Xiao Guizi, Xiao Guizi!"

    At first Wei Xiaobao thought it was Hai Laogong's ghost coming to demand his life, but the voice was a woman's voice. "It's a female ghost!" he said tremblingly, while successively took several steps backwards. His legs grew numb and he fell sitting down on the head of the bed.

    Suddenly a gust of wind blew in, the candle in the room was extinguished, something blurring their eyes, there was one more person in the room. The female ghost creepily said, "Xiao Guizi, Xiao Guizi! Yan Wangye is calling you, Yan Wangye says you killed Hai Laogong!"

    Wei Xiaobao was scared out of his wits; he wanted to say, "I did not kill Hai Laogong." But his mouth was wide open and his tongue tied; how could he speak out? He heard the female ghost said again in shrill voice, "Yan Wangye is going to seize you and take you, going up the mountain of blades, going down into a deep fryer. Xiao Guizi, today you can't run away!"

    Hearing these sentences, Wei Xiaobao suddenly realized, "It's the Empress Dowager, not a female ghost!" But he did not feel less frightened, he thought, "If it was a female ghost, there is a possibility she can't catch me, but Empress Dowager will definitely kill me to close my mouth."

    Ever since he knew the Empress Dowager's secret, at first he was constantly in fear that she would kill him to close his mouth, but all along there was nothing astir. After a long time, his fear gradually diminished, he thought that the Empress Dowager believed him, that he really did not hear what Hai Dafu was saying; or perhaps even if he did, she thought he would not dare to leak the secret, plus since he was promoted to be the head of the Catering Department, he must be very grateful to her, then all was well. How would he know that the reason she did not promptly deal with him was because when she fought Hai Laogong that day, she had suffered a very heavy internal injury? Moreover, she also saw that Hai Laogong's heavy kick unexpectedly did not kill Wei Xiaobao; she thought this child must have profound internal energy cultivation. If she did not recover completely and have her strength restored, she did not dare to act without careful consideration. This business of killing people to close their mouths simply cannot be delegated to others; she must do it personally. Otherwise, if at the point of death the child spoke several sentences, wouldn't her important matter go bad?

    This important matter carried too great of implications, not to mention that Wei Xiaobao was an insignificant little eunuch; even if it were imperial wives, imperial concubines, crown prince, generals or ministers, as soon as they find out about this secret, if there were a hundred people knew, she would kill a hundred, if there were a thousand people knew, she would kill a thousand.

    She had been waiting for too long; although right now her strength had not fully recovered, she thought that if she delayed for a day, the danger of her secret leaking was also increased by a notch, until that night she could no longer wait and decided to act, and thus she went to Wei Xiaobao's room. As she pushed the window open, she heard Wei Xiaobao said, 'A ghost', and so she pretended to be a ghost. She did not know there was another person on the bed; slowly concentrating her strength, she raised her right hand, and step by step walked toward the bed.

    Wei Xiaobao knew he could not resist, hence he crawled into the quilt. The Empress Dowager brought down her palm, 'slap!' she simultaneously struck Wei Xiaobao and Xiao Junzhu. Fortunately the quilt was very thick, so most of her strength was dissipated.

    The Empress Dowager raised her palm again to deliver the second strike, this time she increased her power. Her palm had just touched the quilt when suddenly she felt a severe pain on the center of her palm, like an injury from a sharp object. She cried out loudly and leaped backward.

    Suddenly from outside the window she heard three, four people shouting and yelling, "Assassins! Assassins!" The Empress Dowager was stunned, "How did they know?" she thought. The fact that she came personally to kill a little eunuch must not be known to anybody, plus the pain on her palm was so severe that she did not have time to see whether Wei Xiaobao had died or not. Her feet kicking the ground, she flew out of the window. Yet before she landed, two people attacked her from behind. The Empress Dowager sent her palms backward in the move 'Looking Back Without Any Concern', both her left and right palms simultaneously hit the two people's chests. The two people fell straight to the ground.

    She heard the 'Tang! Tang!' sound of the gong, in a short moment all around her the gongs were sounded. From a distance some people were calling out, "First and Second Guard Units protect His Majesty, Third Guard Unit protects Empress Dowager." Immediately afterwards, from the eastern end of the rockery someone called out, "Assassin in here!" Empress Dowager knew that these people were the Imperial Bodyguards; immediately she shrank back and hid behind some flowering shrubs. She felt the pain in the middle of her palm was getting worse, she saw indistinctly seven, eight people were fighting fiercely, their weapons collided unceasingly; she thought, "Turns out there really are assassins in the Palace. I wonder if they are Hai Laogong's friends, or Oboi's former subordinates?" She heard from the distance the unending voices of people giving orders; the light from torches and Kong Ming lanterns[1] appeared in the darkness, gathering together from all directions. The Empress Dowager realized that if she tarry slightly and did not leave right away, it would be difficult for her to escape undetected. She crouched down and suddenly leaped out from behind the flowering shrubs, and then bolted toward the Palace of Compassionate and Peaceful.

    She was only rushing for several zhang when directly in front of her someone attacked; with the pair of steel awls in his hands he swiftly stabbed the Empress Dowager's face, while shouting, "Audacious rebel, unexpectedly dare to come to the Palace to create havoc."

    The Empress Dowager slanted her body slightly, her right palm feigned a move, her left palm struck toward his shoulder. The man pulled his shoulder back to evade, then he spun around as the steel awl in his left hand rose up. The Empress Dowager dodged to the left and sent her right palm backhandedly. In an instant the two of them had exchanged several moves.

    The man bawled, “Rebel thief, turns out you are a woman.”

    The Empress Dowager saw that this Imperial Bodyguard’s martial art skill was not weak; although she could subdue him, she would need more than a dozen moves, by that time perhaps the rest of the Imperial Bodyguards would catch up. In a moment of desperation she called out, “I am the Empress Dowager.”

    The Imperial Bodyguard was stunned; he held his hands and asked, “What?”

    “Audacious servant,” the Empress Dowager said, “You dare to offend the Empress Dowager?”

    The man hesitated slightly, the Empress Dowager sent out both palms, ‘Bang!’ she struck the pit of his stomach. The Imperial Bodyguard was killed instantly. The Empress Dowager gathered her chi and leaped, she ducked away into the flowering shrubs.

    When Wei Xiaobao crawled into the quilt, his waist was slapped by the Empress Dowager, he was almost suffocated; in desperation he pulled the dagger in his boot and held it facing up inside the quilt, raising the quilt somewhat higher. When the Empress Dowager sent the second palm strike toward the bulging quilt, due to the extremely sharp dagger and the powerful strike of the Empress Dowager’s palm, the point of the dagger immediately penetrated the quilt and pierced the center of her palm all the way through the back of her hand.

    After the Empress Dowager jumped out of the window, Wei Xiaobao raised the corner of the quilt and heard the commotion outside his window. The very first thought that came into his mind was, “The Empress Dowager has sent people to arrest me.” He leaped out of the bed, lifted the quilt, and said, “Hurry, we must run away!”

    Xiao Junzhu cried and said, “It hurts … it hurts so much!” What happened was the Empress Dowager’s first strike hit Wei Xiaobao’s waist and Xiao Junzhu’s left leg. Xiao Junzhu bore most of the brunt that unexpectedly the calf bone of her left leg was broken.

    “What happened?” Wei Xiaobao asked, while trying to pull her by the collar of her clothes. “Hurry up, hurry up!” he said, pulling her down the bed.

    Xiao Junzhu stepped on the floor with her right foot first, but she felt the pain on her left leg was unbearable, her body leaned to one side, and she tumbled down on the floor. “My … my leg is broken,” she said while crying.

    In a moment of desperation Wei Xiaobao cursed, “Xiao Niang Pi, why do you have to break your leg not sooner or later …” In his heart he said, “Saving my own life is more important for Laozi; forget that you broke one leg, even if you broke four legs, eight legs into seventeen, eighteen pieces, Laozi won’t care.” Turning around, he rushed to the window and peeked out. He was hoping there wouldn’t be anybody outside so that he could leap out.

    But as he looked out, he saw the Empress Dowager struck backward with her palms, followed by two people flew up and fell heavily down on the ground. One person happened to land right in front of his window. In the dark night he saw faintly that this man was dressed in an Imperial Bodyguard uniform; he was extremely baffled, “Why would the Empress Dowager strike the Palace’s Imperial Bodyguard?” He saw the Empress Dowager dodged into a flowering bush; he also saw several zhang away six, seven men were engaged in a close combat, each one had a weapon in his hand, the battle was really intense. He heard people shouting from the distance, “Catch the assassins! Catch the assassins!”

    Wei Xiaobao was pleasantly surprised, “Turns out there really are assassins in the Palace; they are not here to catch me.” Focusing his attention outside, he saw the Empress Dowager was fighting with another Imperial Bodyguard. The Imperial Bodyguard was wielding a pair of steel awls. Although they were fighting quite some distance away from his window, he could still see the flashing of the steel awls. After fighting for a while, the Empress Dowager killed the Imperial Bodyguard, and then she flew into the darkness and disappeared.

    Wei Xiaobao turned his head to look at Xiao Junzhu; she was sitting on the floor, whimpering softly. Since now he knew he was not in any danger, his mood improved considerably. Walking toward her, he said in a low voice, “Does it hurt so much? There are people outside who want to get you. Don’t make any noise.”

    Xiao Junzhu was so frightened that she did not dare to make any noise. Suddenly somebody outside the window shouted, “Black feet and dog’s teeth are formidable, go up the Diancang Mountain!”

    “Huh?” Xiao Junzhu exclaimed, “Those are our men.”

    “They are your friends?” Wei Xiaobao wondered, “How do you know?”

    “What they said was our Mu Palace’s code words,” Xiao Junzhu said, “Quick … quickly help me up, I want to look.”

    “They are coming to the Imperial Palace to rescue you, aren’t they?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

    “I don’t know,” Xiao Junzhu replied, “Is this the Imperial Palace?”

    Wei Xiaobao did not reply; he thought, “If they knew that this little girl is in here and broke into the Palace to rescue her, Laozi’s two fists cannot fight the enemy’s four hands.” He reached out and firmly covered her mouth, while with a low voice he threatened, “You must not make any noise, if they find out, your other leg will be broken, I won’t be able to bear it!”

    They heard someone shouting outside, “Ah!” while another voice cheered, “Two assassins are killed!” and yet another voice called out, “The assassins are running away to the east, everybody, pursue them!” The voices gradually went far away.

    Wei Xiaobao released his hand and said, “Your friends run away!”

    “They did not run away!” Xiao Junzhu said, “They said ‘go up the Diancang Mountain’, that means they are retreating temporarily.”

    “What is ‘black feet dog’?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

    “‘Black feet dogs’ are Tatars warriors,” Xiao Junzhu replied.

    The voices in the distance were still faintly heard, people were transmitting orders incessantly, obviously the effort of capturing the assassins was still going on. Suddenly they heard someone was groaning twice below the window, it was a female voice. Wei Xiaobao said, “There’s an assassin that has not died yet, let me stab her twice!” The Imperial Bodyguards in the Palace were all male, so this voice definitely belonged to the assassin.

    Xiao Junzhu said, “No … don’t kill her, perhaps she is from our Palace.” Propping herself on Wei Xiaobao’s shoulder, she stood up and with only her right leg she hopped to the window. She saw two people outside the window. “Southern sky northern land …” she said. Wei Xiaobao stretched out his hand to cover her mouth again. But the female voice outside the window replied, “Under the throne of bright peacock. You … are you Xiao Junzhu?”

    Wei Xiaobao thought that since this woman had discovered Xiao Junzhu’s trail, the incoming disaster was not small; raising his dagger, he wanted to throw it down. Suddenly he felt his right wrist tightened as it was being grabbed by Xiao Junzhu, followed by a stabbing pain on his flank so that involuntarily his hand holding down her mouth came loose.

    “Is it Shijie [older martial sister]?” Xiao Junzhu asked.

    “It’s me,” the woman below the window replied, “What … what are you doing in here?”

    “Your granny,” Wei Xiaobao cut her off, “What are you doing in here?”

    “Don’t … don’t curse her,” Xiao Junzhu said, “She is my Shijie. Shijie, are you injured? You … please think of a way to save my Shijie. Shijie is very good to me.” She said those words to two different people.

    The woman underneath the window groaned and said, “I don’t want to be saved by this kid. He doesn’t even have the ability to save me.”

    Wei Xiaobao struggled hard to free himself, Xiao Junzhu then loosened her grip. Wei Xiaobao cursed, “Stinky woman! You said I don’t have the ability to save you? You, this little girl, are just a ninth-class martial artist. Humph, Laozi only needs to stretch my little finger, then I will be able to save twenty, thirty, or even seventy, eighty mothers like you.”

    By this time the cry ‘catch the assassins, catch the assassins’ was resounding again from the distance. Xiao Junzhu was greatly anxious, she hurriedly said, “Please hurry, save my Shijie. I … I will call you three times, Good … Good … Gege, Good Gege, Good Gege!” Originally she was unwilling to utter these words, but now in order for him to save someone, she had called him three times in a row.

    Wei Xiaobao was very happy; he said, “Good Meizi, what do you want your good Gege do?”

    Xiao Junzhu’s entire face turned deep red; she said in low voice, “I am asking you to save my Shijie.”

    The woman under the window was extremely obstinate; she said, “Don’t ask him, this kid is powerless; he won’t be able to save even himself.”

    “Humph,” Wei Xiaobao snorted, “Looking at my good Meizi’s face, I am bent on saving you. Good Meizi, we have said the words, you must not deny; you want me to save your Shijie, later you can’t go back on your own words, you must call me ‘Good Gege’ forever.”

    “I will call you whatever you want,” Xiao Junzhu said, “Good Shushu, Good Bobo, Good Gonggong[2]!”

    “I only want to be your Good Gege,” Wei Xiaobao said, “If you called me Gonggong, I am afraid I am a little lacking.”

    “Alright,” Xiao Junzhu said, “I will forever … forever call you ‘Good’ … ‘Good’ …”


    [1] Paper lanterns supposedly invented by Zhuge Liang (Romance of the Three Kingdoms).

    [2] Younger uncle (father’s younger brother), older uncle (father’s older brother), grandpa (or father-in-law), respectively.

  20. #80
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 11 - Part 4

    “’Good’ what?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

    Xiao Junzhu said, “Good … Gege!” While saying that, she gently pushed his back.

    Wei Xiaobao jumped out the window. He saw a woman dressed in black, her body curled into a ball, was lying on the ground. He said, “The Palace’s Imperial Bodyguards are coming to arrest you, they are going to behead you and chop you into mincemeat and use you as the stuffing for the steamed buns.”

    The woman said, “What’s so strange about that? Our people will avenge me.”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “You, little girl, are so stubborn. The Imperial Bodyguards won’t kill you right away, they will strip you naked, everybody … everybody will take you as a wife.”

    The woman angrily said, “Quickly use your blade to kill your Miss.”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed, “Why would I want to kill you? I also want to strip you naked, and then take you as my wife.” Finished speaking, he bent over to pick her up. The woman was extremely anxious, she waved her palm to slap his ear, but she was heavily injured, her hand did not have the least bit of strength, when the palm reached his face, it only felt like a gentle brush.

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “You haven’t become my wife, yet you tickle your husband first.” Carrying her body, he handed her over the window. Xiao Junzhu was greatly delighted, she stepped forward to receive the woman, and then slowly lay her down on the bed.

    Wei Xiaobao was about to follow by leaping into the room when suddenly someone by his feet said in a low voice, “Gui … Gui Gong-gong, this woman … this woman is a rebel thief … an assassin, you must not … must not save her.”

    Wei Xiaobao was shocked, “Who … who are you?” he asked.

    The man replied, “I … I am the Palace’s … Imperial … Bodyguard …”

    Immediately Wei Xiaobao understood that he was the Imperial Bodyguard who was hit by the Empress Dowager just a moment ago, unexpectedly he did not die; he lay on the ground, unable to move a single step, his speech was also discontinuous, obviously his injury was very heavy. Wei Xiaobao thought, “If I handed over this woman in black, it would be a meritorious service, but what about Xiao Junzhu? This matter would fall through and stand exposed, than the disaster would be even greater.” Raising his dagger, ‘stab!’ he thrust it into the man’s chest. The Imperial Bodyguard did not even grunt; he died instantly.

    Wei Xiaobao said, “Forgive me for this, if just now you did not open your mouth, you would not have to die, but then Gui Gong-gong’s head would not sit smooth and steady on my neck.” He thought further, “Perhaps there are more injured people nearby, I have no choice but kill them all to close their mouths.” Thereupon he looked around the surrounding flowering bushes and rock garden thoroughly; altogether he found five bodies on the ground: three Imperial Bodyguards and two assassins from the outside, they all had breathed their last breath. Wei Xiaobao picked an assassin’s corpse and placed it over the window sill, with head inside and legs outside, and then with his dagger he stabbed the corpse’s back several times.

    Xiao Junzhu was startled, “He is our Palace’s man; he is dead, why do you kill him again?”

    “Humph,” Wei Xiaobao snorted, “He is dead, I can’t kill him anymore. Try killing a dead man and show it to me! But if you want me to save your stinky Shijie, I have to do this.”

    The woman, who was lying on the bed, said, “You are the stinky one!”

    “You haven’t smelled me, how do you know I am stinky?” Wei Xiaobao replied.

    “This entire room is reeking with stench,” the woman said.

    “It was originally very fragrant,” Wei Xiaobao said, “It smells as soon as you came in.”

    Xiao Junzhu anxiously said, “The two of you do not even know each other, yet quarrel as soon as you meet. Quickly stop bickering. Shijie, how did you come here? Is it … is it to save me?”

    “We did not know you are in here,” the woman replied, “Everybody did not see you, we went everywhere to look for you but could not find you …” Speaking to this part, she was already out of breath.

    Wei Xiaobao said, “You don’t have strength to talk, you’d better talk a little less.”

    “I want to talk, what are you going to do about it,” the woman said.

    “If you have the ability, go ahead and talk,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Other people’s Xiao Junzhu is so gentle and refined, not at all like you who are rude and unreasonable.”

    “No, no, you don’t know,” Xiao Junzhu busily said, “Nobody’s better than my Shijie. Don’t curse her, then she won’t be mad at you. Shijie, which part of you is injured? Is it heavy?”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “Her martial art skill is not good, she overestimated her own capabilities, she came to the Palace just to lose face, naturally her injury is heavy. I’ll say she won’t live pass six hours; perhaps before daylight she will return to heaven.”

    “She can’t die,” Xiao Junzhu said, “Good … Good Ge … please think of something quickly, save my Shijie.”

    The woman angrily said, “I would rather die, I don’t need his help. Xiao Junzhu, this kid is glib-tongued, why do you call him … call him like that?”

    “Call me what?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

    The woman did not fall into his trick, “Call you little monkey,” she said.

    “I am a male monkey,” Wei Xiaobao said, “You are a female monkey.” Bickering and quarreling with women, he had had an extensive practice when he was in Lovely Spring Courtyard; he had experienced major conflicts and major battles, how could he lose against other people? When the woman heard him speaking vulgarity, she no longer paid him any attention, she simply breathed deeply.

    Wei Xiaobao raised the candlestick on the table and said, “First we must find where her injury is.”

    “Don’t look at me! Don’t look at me!” the woman shouted.

    Wei Xiaobao shot back, “Don’t shout loudly! Do you want people to catch you and take you as wife?” Picking the nearby candlestick, he saw half of the woman’s face was covered in blood, she was approximately seventeen, eighteen years of age, she had an oval face, and looked very beautiful; he could not help but praise, “Turns out this stinky Xiao Niang Pi is a beautiful girl.”

    Xiao Junzhu said, “Don’t curse my Shijie, she … she is indeed a beautiful girl.”

    “Very well!” Wei Xiaobao said, “Now I want to take her as my wife even more.”

    The woman was startled, she struggled, wanted to slap him, but she only managed to lift her body a little, then she cried, “Ah!” and fell down on the bed.

    Naturally Wei Xiaobao had heard a lot about the matters of men and women in the brothel, but knowing and doing are not the same. He said ‘take her as wife’, but he was still young, and the thought of actually doing it had never crossed his heart; it’s just that he was a natural prankster. When he saw how the woman became very anxious as soon as he mentioned he was going to take her as his wife, he could not help feeling very smug. He laughed and said, “Don’t be impatient, we have not performed the wedding ceremony yet, how can we be man and wife? You think this place is the Lovely Spring Courtyard? As soon as you talk about being man and wife you want to do it immediately. Aiyo! Your wound is bleeding, you are spoiling my bed!” He saw blood continuously seeped out her clothes; her injury was indeed not light.

    Suddenly he heard footsteps, a group of people came hurrying, someone called out, “Gui Gong-gong, Gui Gong-gong, are you alright?” After the Imperial Bodyguards repelled the assassins, they sent people to protect the Emperor, Empress Dowager, and comparatively high-ranking imperial concubines, then they also protect department heads and eunuchs with authority. Wei Xiaobao was the Emperor’s favorite, so they sent a dozen or so Imperial Bodyguards to curry his favor.

    Wei Xiaobao said in low voice to Xiao Junzhu, “Hide in the bed.” He pulled the quilt to cover the two women, pulled the mosquito net down, and called out, “Come here quick! There is an assassin here!”

    The woman was shocked, but she was seriously injured, how could she struggle? Xiao Junzhu anxiously said, “Don’t shout, don’t call people to arrest my Shijie.”

    “She does not want to be my wife,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Why should I be polite to her?”

    While they were still talking, the dozen or so Imperial Bodyguards had already arrived in front of the window. “Aiyo!” one of them cried out, “There is an assassin here.”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “That fellow wanted to climb into my room, Laozi finished him off with several stabs of my blade.”

    The Imperial Bodyguards raised their torches and saw several cuts on the dead man’s back; there were blood on his clothes, on the window sill, and on the ground. “Gui Gong-gong must be startled.” Another man said, “What do you mean Gui Gong-gong was startled? Gui Gong-gong’s martial art skill is superb, he is able to kill the assassin in just one move. If there were more coming, he would simply kill them all the same.” The rest of the Imperial Bodyguards immediately followed by fawning him; they praised Wei Xiaobao greatly, saying that he had rendered a great merit tonight.

    Wei Xiaobao said with a laugh, “The merit is nothing, coping with one or two assassins did not need too much effort. Arresting the Manchu's Number One Warrior Oboi is a bit harder to do." The crowd of Imperial Bodyguards naturally seized this opportunity to flood him with flattery.

    One of the Imperial Bodyguards said, "Shi Laoliu and Xiong Lao'er [Ol' Six and Ol' Second, respectively] died in the line of duty, those assassins were truly very fierce. If it were not Gui Gong-gong, how would he deal with it?"

    Wei Xiaobao said, "It's more important for you all to protect His Majesty, in here I am alright."

    Another man said, "Dolong Zongguan is leading more than two hundred brothers to personally guard outside His Majesty's private chamber. The assassins have either escaped or killed, the Palace is quiet now."

    Wei Xiaobao said, "Tomorrow I will ask His Majesty to grant some comfort and aid to the families of those Imperial Bodyguards who died in the line of duty. Everybody has been working hard, His Majesty will definitely grant generous reward." Everybody was delighted, they all bowed and expressed their gratitude. Wei Xiaobao said in his heart, "As long as I don't have to spend my own money, why not become the mediator between them and the Emperor?" He said, "I do not remember very clearly everybody's surname and given name; would you all report to me? If His Majesty asks who has exerted himself using extreme force of will, and has rendered great service tonight, Xiongdi will mention your names."

    The Imperial Bodyguards were even more delighted, they hurriedly reported their name and surname. Wei Xiaobao had an extremely good memory, he was able to repeat the full names of those dozen or so Imperial Bodyguards without any mistake. He said, "You all should patrol everywhere, perhaps there are assassins still hiding in some dark and remote places. If you catch one alive, if it's a man, beat him severely, if it's a woman, strip her naked and take her as wife." The Imperial Bodyguards laughed heartily and repeatedly said, "Yes, yes!"

    "Would you take away the corpse?" Wei Xiaobao asked. The Imperial Bodyguards compiled; they snatched the corpse and left after paying their respect once more.

    Wei Xiaobao closed the window, turned around and lifted up the quilt. Xiao Junzhu laughed and said, "You are so bad, you scared us in a big way ... Aiyo ...!" She saw blood all over the bedding, her martial sister's countenance was deathly pale, her breathing was very weak.

    "Where is her injury?" Wei Xiaobao asked, "Quickly stop her bleeding."

    The woman said, "You ... go away, Xiao Junzhu, my ... injury is on the pit of my stomach."

    Seeing the blood flowing from her wound was indeed a lot, Wei Xiaobao was afraid she might die from her heavy injury; he did not dare to tease her. Turning his head away, he said, "What's so good about bleeding wound anyway? Do you think it's a peep show or something fun to watch? Xiao Junzhu, do you have the medicine?"

    "I don't," Xiao Junzhu replied.

    Wei Xiaobao said, "Stinky mother, do you have any medicine with you?"

    "I don't!" the woman snapped, "You ... you are the stinky mother."

    He heard light ripping noise, Xiao Junzhu was undoing the woman's clothes. "Aiyo!" suddenly she cried out in fear, "What ... what should I do?" Wei Xiaobao turned his head around, he saw a cut about two cun long below the woman's right breast, from which the blood was flowing continuously. Xiao Junzhu was at a loss of what to do; she cried and said, "You ... you ... quickly help my Shijie ..."

    The woman was frightened and ashamed; with a trembling voice she said, "Don't ... don't let him see."

    "Pei," Wei Xiaobao spat, "You think I've never seen one?" Seeing her blood was flowing endlessly, he was unable to restrain being panicked. He looked around the room, trying to find some cotton cloth to stop the blood stream from her wound. He spotted the medicine bowl and saw that he still had more than half bowl of his concoction of 'mashed lotus seed, bean paste, honey, candy and pearls'. "My miracle medicine can also stop bleeding," he said happily. Fetching a handful, he applied it on her wound.

    This mixture of honey paste was very viscous, as soon as it was applied to the wound, the blood flow stopped. Wei Xiaobao spread the entire bowl of honey paste onto the wound, his fingers were also covered in honey paste. Seeing her nipples shivered, this little urchin restrained his mischievous thought with great difficulty; casually he smeared the paste on her breast.

    The woman was ashamed and enraged at the same time, she called out, "Xiao ... Xiao Junzhu, quickly ... quickly kill him for me."

    Xiao Junzhu explained, "Shijie, he is treating your wound!" The woman was so furious she almost fainted. Unfortunately she could not move.

    Wei Xiaobao said, "Quickly seal her acupoints, don't let her speak or move randomly; otherwise she might bleed again and her life will be in danger."

    "Yes!" Xiao Junzhu complied; she sealed several acupoints on the woman's lower abdomen, flanks, and legs. "Shijie," she said, "Don't move randomly!" By now the pain on her own broken leg was almost unbearable; tears started to gush out of her eyes.

    Wei Xiaobao said, "You should also lie down and not moving." He remembered his childhood in Yangzhou, when he had a fight with the little hoodlums and someone broke an arm or leg, the doctor would use splint to set the bone, and applied herbal medicine on it. Immediately he drew his dagger and cut two legs of a bench and clamped them on either side of her broken leg, and used a piece or cord to firmly tie them together. "Where can I find the medicine for her injury?" he mused.

    After pondering for a while, he had an idea; to Xiao Junzhu he said, "The two of you must lie down on the bed, do not make any noise whatsoever." Releasing the mosquito net, he blew out the candle and pulled the latch to go out.

    Xiao Junzhu was startled. "You ... where are you going?" she asked.

    "To find medicine for your leg," Wei Xiaobao replied.

    "Please hurry and come back soon," Xiao Junzhu said.

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