Note: The first two chapters are available in the Jin Yong reading room.
Chapter 3: Refined for a Hundred Years the Precious Saber Creates a Mysterious Light
Flowers bloom, flowers wither. The young men in the martial world have become old. The young girls have begun to show their age with hair turning white.
It’s has been over fifty years since the demise of the Sung dynasty.
On this third month of the new lunar year, a thirty-some year old man walks on the beach in the southern China. He wears a blue robe, a pair of grass shoes, walking quickly forward, as if in a hurry. Although surrounded by beautiful trees and flowers, he has no time to enjoy the scenery. Seeing that the sky is getting darker, he thinks, “Today is the 24th day of the third month. It’s only fourteen days till 9th day of the fourth month. If I hurry, I can make it just in time for Master’s ninetieth birthday.”
This man is Yu DaiYan, the third disciple under the founder of Wu Dang, Zhang SanFeng. At the beginning of the year, Yu DaiYan was ordered to kill an evil, murderous outlaw. When that outlaw heard about this, he went into hiding. It took Yu DaiYan an extra two months just to find him. He then challenged the outlaw to a fight, and on the eleventh move, killed him with his Silence Illusory Saber. But by spending an extra two months, he now has to travel extra quickly to make it back in time for hiss master’s birthday.
Now that he is close to the sea, he sees a wide, flat area sparkling on the beach, something he has never seen before. When he asked the locals, he chuckled after hearing the response. For these are nets used to capture seawater to make salt. Yu DaiYan thinks, “I have eaten salt for over thirty years, yet never knew how they’re made.”
As he continues on his journey, Yu DaiYan sees twelve people carrying some bags on their shoulders, walking quickly. From the look of things, they’re all carrying salt. But this is more than two hundred pounds of salt each person’s carrying. Since corrupt officials like to hoard salts, it’s rare for commoners to be able to buy them through legitimate means. Salt smugglers are quite common in this area. Yu DaiYan thinks, “Wow, looks like salt smuggling is very important here. These people’s kung fu skills are quite good.” If it had been some other time, he would’ve wanted to take a closer look. But he can’t possibly miss his master’s birthday, so he ignores them. By nightfall he arrives at a small town, and settles down in the inn there.
After eating the dinner and finishes washing his feet, Yu DaiYan sees that those twelve salt smugglers also came into this inn. He ignores them, and begins to meditate using Wu Dang’s inner power. After three repetitions, he lies down and falls asleep.
At midnight, Yu DaiYan suddenly hears much noise coming from outside. He immediately gets up, only to hear someone say, “Let’s leave quietly. We don’t want to wake up our neighbor.” The rest of them open the door quietly and moves quickly outside. Yu DaiYan thinks, “They must be up to something bad to walk around at this hour. I can’t ignore this. If I save some innocent people, then it would be ok even if I miss master’s birthday,” He wraps his saber in a cloth and jumps out the window.
With footsteps as his guide, Yu DaiYan follows secretly, utilizing his lightness kung fu. There is almost no moonlight, but he can still see those twelve people running quickly in the darkness. He thinks, “With their kung fu skills, these people can easily go rob rich land owners or officials. Why do they need to settle for salt smuggling? There’s something fishy going on.” With his great lightness kung fu, Yu DaiYan manages to follow the twelve people without a sound.
After following for about an hour, they arrived at a beach. Suddenly, he hears a croaked whisper, “Are the ‘three water-dotted’* friends here?” The leader of the twelve men responds, “Yes. And you are?” Yu DaiYan ponders, “Who could these ‘three water-dotted’ people be?” He suddenly remembers, “Of course, it’s the Sea Sand sect. These three characters are all begin with three water dots.” Only to hear the croaked person say, “In my opinion, you’re better off staying away from the Dragon Saber. The leader says, “Are you here for the Dragon Saber too?” His voice carries a tinge of disbelief. The croaked man starts to laugh sinisterly, but does not respond.
*Note: Three water dots is a term used to describe a particular left side of many Chinese characters. Usually characters with the three water dots have to do with water.
Yu DaiYan moved up to get a better view, only to see that it’s a white-robed man blocking their path. Anyone who dares to wear white in the middle of the night must be extremely confident of his kung fu. That white-robed man laughs again, while the group leader yells, “Get out of our way. Unless you want to die…” Before he finished, a person suddenly yells out in pain, “Ahhhh!” and falls on the ground, dead. The white-robed man then quickly flies away.
Some members of the Sea Sand Sect want to chase after him, but they don’t know which way he went. Yu DaiYan ponders, “This man’s speed is incredible. He seemingly just used Shaolin’s ‘Golden Steel Claws’, but I can’t be sure in this darkness. From his voice, it seems like he’s from the northwestern part of China. What is he doing here?” He then hears the leader say, “Put down fourth brother. We’ll come back for him afterwards.” The rest of the members then continue on their path.
Yu DaiYan jumps out and examines the body, seeing two small holes on the person’s neck, made obviously by two fingers. He feels that there must be something important going on, and quickens his pace, following the Sea Sand Sect members.
After a while, those people begin to split up, surrounding a house. Yu DaiYan wonders, “Is that Dragon Saber they’re talking about in this house?” He then sees the people outside begin to pour salt around the house, and thinks, “Why are they pouring salt around this place? Wait till I tell this to my brothers. I bet there’s no way they’d believe me.” But then he sees that these people pour salt in a very cautious manner, as if afraid that the salt will touch them. Yu DaiYan immediately realizes what is going on. There must be poison within the salt. He’s not certain whether the people inside are good or bad, but figures that he needs to warn them regardless. In an instant, he flew towards the house.
There are many rooms in this house. But he sees that smoke is coming out of one of the rooms, so he figures that there must be someone there. When he arrives outside that room, he hears loud sound of fire, with three people standing besides a huge fireplace, with a huge saber in the middle. Those three people look to be about sixty, their faces filled with smoke. Even from afar, Yu DaiYan feels like he’s burning from the fire. He can’t believe that those people can stay that close. Yet despite the huge flames, that sword did not change its color to red, remaining black.
At this moment, he hears a croaked voice, “How dare you to mess with a precious saber. Get away from it!” Yu DaiYan realizes that it’s the white-robed man’s voice. Those three people ignore the warning, and continue to work on the saber. Only to hear a chuckle coming from the roof as the white-robed man dashed in. He looks around forty, with a pale white face. He says in a cold voice, “Long White Elders, I don’t blame you for trying to get the saber. But why try to destroy it with this fire?”
One of the three men walks up, picks up a shovel, and attacks the white-robed man. The white-robed man evades to the side, and then counters with fingers in a claw shape, dancing up and down with a huge force. Yu DaiYan sees that his moves look like it’s from Shaolin on the surface, but is more aggressive and venomous, certainly not as righteous as Shaolin’s kung fu.
After a while, that old man with the shovel yells, “Who are you? You should at least leave your name.” The white-robed man chuckles again, his hands shot out, breaking the wrists of the old man. The second old man immediately grabs the saber out from the fire, while the third man shot takes out a dart, waiting for a chance to use it on the white-robed man. But the white-robed man is too fast.
At this time, one can see smoke coming out of the second old man’s hands. It’s obvious that his hand is burning; yet for some reason, he does not let go of the saber. As he runs out of the hut, the white-robed man yells, “Do you really think you can get away?” Raising his eyebrows a bit, he quickly flies over to the second old man, picks him up, and throws him into the fire.
Yu DaiYan originally didn’t plan on helping either side, but with someone’s life in danger, he felt that he needed to help out. He jumps out of his hiding place and pushed the old man lightly while spinning in midair, then floated down to the floor. The Long White Elders and the white-robed man had long known that he was outside, but no one cared. So they can’t help but feel an incredible shock when Yu DaiYan displayed such a skillful lightness kung fu. The white-robed man says, “Is this the famous ‘Cloud Stairs’?” Yu DaiYan first feels a bit of shock that this man knows of his kung fu, but then feels happy, knowing that his Wu Dang kung fu is so famous. He says, “This plain kung fu is nothing to brag about. May I ask who you are?” That white-robed man says, “Very nice. Wu Dang’s kung fu really is fairly decent.”
Despite being a bit angry at his words, Yu DaiYang does not show it. Instead he says, “The power you displayed while killing that member of the Sea Sand Sect is quite amazing too. I can’t even tell what kind it is.” The white-robed man wonders, “He saw that? I wonder where he was hiding at the time. How come I didn’t sense him?” He says, “Of course you couldn’t tell. Not even your old man Zhang can figure it out.”
Yu DaiYan felt greatly annoyed at this ridicule of his own master. But Wu Dang students are all taught to be calm and peaceful. He thinks, “This person is purposely trying to make me mad. There’s no reason for Wu Dang to add another powerful enemy.” He says, “There are thousands of kung fus in this world, both righteous ones and evil ones. Wu Dang’s kung fu only came from one source. Your skills look like it’s from Shaolin, but at the same time seems different.” That white-robed man’s expression changes a bit, as if flustered by this comment.
While they are talking, the second old man with the saber suddenly lashes out. Yu DaiYan quickly dodges the blow, while seeing the old man aimlessly slashes left and right, as if he has gone crazy. The white-robed man and the other two old men realize the power of the saber, and do not try to block him. As the old man runs out of the house, he suddenly trips, falling on the ground and begins to scream in agony.
The other two old men and the white-robed man immediately reaches out to grab the saber, but they all fell down once they reaches outside. The two old men start to roll around on the ground screaming, while the white-robed man simply flips up, and flies away.
Yu DaiYan wants to immediately go save those three people, but then remembers the scene of salt being spread. He realizes that the whole area has been poisoned. Looking around, he sees some stools. Quickly, he threw a couple outside, then jumps on to them. With some clothing wrapped around his hand, he quickly picks up the old man with the saber. Only to see over ten darts coming from the surrounding Sea Sand sect members.
Yu DaiYan bounces up from the stools, dodging the darts. He then flipped the stools forward with his feet, allowing him to step-by-step jump out of the salted area. Once outside, he immediately opens up his lightness kung fu to quickly run away from the Sea Sand sect members.
Yu DaiYan realizes that he must first get rid of the poison from this old man. So he quickly runs to the beach, and throws the old man into the water to cleanse him. Once cleansed, Yu DaiYan says, “Your life is no longer in danger. Since I have other businesses to take care of, I shall take leave of you.” That old man asks, “Why don’t you take my saber?” Yu DaiYan says, “Although that’s a great saber, it’s not mine. Why should I take it?” That person says, “What are you up to? How are you going to torture me?” Yu DaiYan says, “I don’t even know you. Why would I want to torture you? I just wanted to save you because your life was in danger.” That old man doesn’t believe him, instead yelling, “Just kill me and get it over with. But be warned that even as a ghost I will haunt you.” Yu DaiYan simply smiles a bit, thinking that this old man must be a little crazy from the poison. Just as he’s about to leave, a wave came from the sea, carrying the old man into the waters.
Yu DaiYan realizes that there are still poisons left in this old man’s body. If he doesn’t help him recover, this old man will die. Therefore he carried the old man, until they reached an empty building. Looking up, he sees that it’s a temple, called ‘Sea God Temple’. He put the old man by a statue. Then lights up a candle. When he looks at the old man again, he sees that the poison has spread all over the body. Yu DaiYan takes out a ‘Heaven Heart Antidote’ from his pocket and says, “Take this pill.”
That old man says, “I’m not going to eat your poisoned pills.” Despite his peaceful attitude, Yu DaiYan can’t help but be angry at those remarks. He says, “Do you know who I am? Do you think a Wu Dang disciple would do such a thing as using poison? This pill is to help ease the poison in you. Although it might not cure the poison totally, it can at least prolong your life for three days. I suggest you give this saber to the Sea Sand Sect in return for its antidote.”
That old man jumps up and yells, “I can’t give up my Dragon Saber.” Yu DaiYan says, “What’s the use of this saber if you’re going to die?” The old man responds, “I’d rather die than give up this saber.” As he says this, he clutches the saber tightly, then swallows Yu DaiYan’s pill.
His words raised Yu DaiYan’s curiosity. He wants to ask just what’s to great about this saber, but decided not to after he sees the obsessive, angry look on the old man’s face. Feeling repulsed, Yu DaiYan stands up to leave. That old man yells, “Hold on! Where are you going?” Yu DaiYan smiles and says, “What’s it to you?” and begins to leave.
The old man begins to cry after he walks a few steps. Yu DaiYan turns around and asks, “Why are you crying?” The old man says, “I spent so much effort just to obtain this saber, yet now I’m going to die. What’s the use of this saber now?” Yu DaiYan let out a ‘Humph’, and says, “The only thing you can do now is to exchange the saber for the antidote.” That old man cries, “But I don’t want to. I don’t want to.” Yu DaiYan wants to laugh at his words, but can’t do so. After a while, he says, “The whole point of learning martial arts is help the defenseless and defeat the evils of the world, setting a good example for the later generations. Precious sabers and swords are simply items. Hardly something worth your life.” The old man says, “ ‘Martial world’s most venerable, Prized saber dragon slaying*, Controlling all under Heaven, None dares to not follow!’ Have you heard this phrase?”
*Note: The proper translation of the ‘Dragon Saber’ is the ‘Dragon Slaying Saber’. However, I will use the more popular(and shorter :P) translation, ‘Dragon Saber’, that TVB came up.
Yu DaiYan chuckles and says, “Of course I’ve heard it. There are two more phrases after this, something like ‘Power of heaven* not appear, Who can possibly compete?’ That’s just to describe an event many years ago, not really some saber.” That old man asks, “What event?”
<font size="1">[ April 02, 2003: Message edited by: Meh ]</font>