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Thread: The Lovers' Sabres (aka Blade-dance of the Two Lovers) by Jin Yong

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    Senior Member littleli's Avatar
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    Default The Lovers' Sabres (aka Blade-dance of the Two Lovers) by Jin Yong - Unabridged

    Half of the first chapter was translated by Huang Yushi,
    From Mid of Chapter 1 till end of the book is translated and edited by Irwika..
    Last edited by littleli; 12-18-10 at 12:03 PM.

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    Senior Member littleli's Avatar
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    Part 1: The Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain

    (Translated By Huang yushi )

    Four men, dressed in clothes that were wrapped tightly around their bodies, stood shoulder-to-shoulder across the road, effectively blocking it to all traffic.

    The man whose way was obstructed sized the four up with a keen eye: If these were fearsome bandits from one of the fortified mountain villages, they should not be only four in number, unless more men lay hidden in the dark pine forest around us. If these men were just petty thieves who waylaid and robbed travellers, they would have long been frightened away by my loud and powerful-looking team of escorts. Therefore, they would never dare to block the road in such a bold and impudent manner. Could these men actually be highly-skilled members of the pugilistic community , who had come because of me?

    The first fellow on the left was short and small of build, but he looked very lively and capable. His chin was so pointed that it seemed almost like a paring knife. He had, in his hand, a pair of crescent-shaped splints that were made of steel. The second man was so tall and fat that he looked like an iron pagoda that was planted on the ground. He had, in front of him, a large stone slab on which these words were etched: "My late father, the son of the Huang Family, Chengben's, tomb." The slab was indeed a tombstone, but what purpose did it have standing in front on the man? Huang Chengben? I have never heard of such a pugilist before in the wanderers' world!

    The third man had a medium build, with very fair skin and clean-cut features. If not for a set teeth that protruded an inch out of his mouth and a nose that caved half an inch into his face, this fellow could be considered quite handsome. In his hands was a hammer, to which two iron balls were attached. The last man, the one on the right, was a middle-aged sickly-looking fellow who was dressed in shabby clothes. He chewed nonchalantly on a long-stemmed tobacco pipe, opening and closing his eyes dreamily before spouting a mouthful of smoke. He did not seem to be bothered at all by the seventy-odd people who made up the team of escorts.

    The first three men could be easily done away with, but the sickly-looking fellow could turn out to be a strong opponent with profound skill in the use of internal strength. In an instant, a number of anecdotes that were well-known in the wanderers' world popped into his mind: A white-haired grandmother killed five lead escorts with her bare hands and made away with a huge cargo. An old beggar stirred up trouble in the office of the Taiyuan Prefecture and chopped off the prefect's head before disappearing as mysteriously as he had come. A beautiful young woman defeated a master pugilist surnamed Zhang of the Datong Prefecture in north Shanxi. Zhang had been enjoying fame and fortune for more than twenty years ... in short, the more unassuming the person looked, the higher his martial arts skills were. After all, a saying in the wanderers' world went: "An able person does not show off, but a show-off lacks abilities."

    The Chief Escort of the Weixin Escort Agency of Xi'an in Shaanxi, Tiebian Zhen Bafang Zhou Weixin, who was also known as the Iron Whip that Quells Eight Directions, glanced at the sickly-looking fellow who was smoking with his eyes shut. He could not help but hesitate and reach out to touch the cloth-wrapped bundle on his back.

    The cargo that he escorted contained ten thousand liang [one liang is about 50 grammes] of silver, entrusted to him by Wang Derong, a salt merchant from Xi'an. Of course, this was not a small sum, but the Weixin Escort Agency had delivered twenty thousand liang of silver safely before. Once, it had even sent forty thousand liang successfully, hence gold and silver did not figure much for the agency. Since leaving Xi'an, the only things that weighed on his heart were the two sabres that were hidden in the cloth-wrapped bundle on his back, and the words that he had heard at the Chuang'shaan Provincial Office a couple of nights ago.

    The Provincial Governor of Chuang'shaan, Liu Yuyi, was the one who spoke to him that night. Although Zhou Weixin was an illustrious personage in the wanderers' world, the highest government official that he had met was only a mere futai, the lowest of all governing positions. This time, with the Provincial Governor meeting him in person, he could not help but be overcome with fear and trepidation, fidgeting uneasily as he stood.

    Lord Liu's words played themselves over and over again in his ears: "Chief Escort Zhou, this pair of sabres is called Yuanyang Dao, or the Twin Sabres. They are no small matters, so you had better take good care of them. Even before he ascended the throne, the Emperor had secretly sent out his most trusted men to look for these sabres. Then, as soon as he was enthroned, he ordered all the eighteen provincial offices in the country to step up the search. Finally, the two owners of the Twin Sabres were tracked down, but these cunning fellows ended up hiding these precious weapons. The investigations and searches that ensued produced nothing, as if the sabres were stones that fell into the deep sea. They were never heard of again, until one day, I found them. Ha, ha! Your Weixin Escort Agency is considered rather reliable, so I want you to deliver the Twin Sabres to the Capital. You must not breathe a single word about this along the way. Once the sabres reach Beijing safely, you will be rewarded well!"

    Zhou Weixin had heard about the fame of the Twin Sabres from his martial arts teacher. The old man had said, "The Yuanyang Dao consist of a short knife and a long sabre. A great secret of the pugilistic community is hidden within these blades, and the one who eventually gets hold of it will be matchless in the whole world." These five words, "matchless in the whole world", expressed the dearest dream of those who learnt martial arts. At that time, Zhou Weixin did not really believe what his teacher said. Where on earth was there a pair of Twin Sabres that could render its owner matchless in the whole world?

    But lo and behold! The Provincial Governor of Chuang'shaan, Lord Liu, had actually found the Twin Sabres! Furthermore, he had ordered him to take it to the Capital and present it to the Emperor. The sabres were wrapped tightly with a piece of yellow cloth, and marked with the Provincial Governor's seal. Needless to say, he had wanted to take a look at the sabres, for if he, by a lucky chance, figured out the secret, the Iron Whip that Quells Eight Directions would become the Iron Whip that is Peerless in the World! This would be absolutely fantastic, but who dared to break the Provincial Governor's seal? Chief Escort Zhou thought until his brain hurt, yet he could not find a way to take a peek at the sabres.

    The Provincial Governor had also sent with him, four of his most trusted bodyguards. Dressed as escorts, these bodyguards could be considered as additional help, or viewed as unwelcome watchers of his every move. Even before the team of escorts set out on their journey, the Provincial Office had sent several axe-bearing men to his home, and "invited" the entire family of twelve to the military barracks. The reason given was that once Chief Escort Zhou left for the Capital, he would worry about his family. Therefore, out of concern for him, the Provincial Office relocated his dependants. But Zhou Weixin had many years of experience in the wanderers' world, so how could he not realise the truth behind the action of the Provincial Office?

    Indeed, the Office was not concerned about Chief Escort Zhou or his family, but it was Lord Liu who was worried about the precious pair of sabres. Therefore, he had the man's parents, wives and children taken as hostages. If anything happened to the Twin Sabres along the way, not only would his head be separated from his body, but his entire family would also lose their lives. He had weathered many a stormy experience in life, from high glory and bravery to low shame and cowardice. He had even chopped off someone's head, but his own had been untouched. All these made him an old hand of the wanderers' world, but it never crossed his mind that this particular trip would bring him both excitement and joy. If the precious sabres reached the Capital safely, Lord Liu's promise of great reward would come true. After all, a man's word was like a horse whipped. Once the word had been spoken, it could not be withdrawn, just like the whipped horse that could not be stopped. Furthermore, if the Emperor was pleased, he could even grant him a post or two. Besides bringing glory to his ancestors, this would give his career a meteoric boost. Then, Chief Escort Zhou would become Lord Zhou.

    The journey from Xi'an to Beijing was neither long nor short. Along the way, there were at least thirty to forty fortified mountain villages. For run-of-the-mill bandits who were not shaken by his Iron Whip that Quells Eight Directions, he could still find one or two ways to beat them off. But how many of the highly-skilled members of the pugilistic community would not fall under the spell of the Twin Sabres and its matchless promise? So he escorted the cargo of the salt merchant ostensibly and hid the precious sabres. It did not matter if the silver was lost, for everything would be fine when the sabres arrived at the Capital. Once he became a government official, Lord Zhou would be rolling in riches. How, then, could he not afford to make up for the ten thousand liang of silver? Come to think of it, Lord Zhou should only be receiving silver, and not giving it out!

    Zhou Weixin touched the iron whip at his waist and glared at the four men who were blocking to road in front of him. After a while, he raised his clasped hands and said, "I have come to your place, but did not visit you to pay my respects. This is impolite, so please, my friends, forgive me." He had decided a moment earlier that it would be best not to start a fight, for the sickly fellow could be difficult to deal with. A saying in the wanderers' world went: "A cautious heart travels the whole world, but an impetuous foot hardly moves an inch." But he heard only the sound of the sickly fellow tapping his chest, followed by a series of loud coughs.

    The short and small-built man raised his crescent-shaped splints and said in a soft voice, "It is not necessary to bow before us and pay your respects. Just leave us the precious cargo that you are carrying!"

    Surprised, Zhou Weixin thought, When we set out, even my closest colleague thought that we were only carrying silver, so how did these people know that I have something precious? A saying in the wanderers' world went: "Kindhearted people do not come, but those who do appear are wicked." I had better to careful. So he clasped his hands again and said, "Please forgive my poor awareness, and tell me your names, my good friends."

    "Tell us your name first!" the short man answered.

    Zhou Weixin said, "My surname is Zhou and my given name is Weixin. My friends in the wanderers' world call me the Iron Whip that Quells Eight Directions."

    The sickly fellow laughed coldly and said, "Ha! The word Quells should be changed to the word Respects."

    The short man turned to the sickly fellow and stared dumbly at him for a moment. Then, he said, "Changed to the word Respects? Hey, Mr Zhou, my Eldest Brother has given you a bandit's nickname, the Iron Whip that Respects the Eight Directions! My Eldest Brother has divine insight and his words are reasonable." He and the other three men burst into laughter at once.

    Zhou Weixin thought, A saying in the wanderers' world went: "Enduring a moment's anger will spare one of a hundred days' calamity." So he forced himself to remain calm and said, "Please do not laugh at me ! Where do you four good men come from? On which mountain have you set up your esteemed organisation? Who among you is the chief?"

    The short man pointed to the sickly fellow and answered, "All right, there is no harm telling you, but you must be careful not to be frightened out of your wits. Our Eldest Brother is Yanxia Shenlong Xiaoyaozi, the Free and Unfettered Divine Dragon Covered with Rosy Smoke. The Second Brother is called Shuangzhang Kaibei Chang Changfeng, the Palms that Break Stone. The Third Brother is Liuxing Ganyue Hua Jianying, the Meteor that Chases the Moon. I am merely the Babu Ganchan - Saizhuanzhu - Taxue Wuhen - Dujiao Shuishangfei - Shuangchi Gai Qisheng Gai Yiming, the Eight-Step Toad Chaser - Purposeful Competitor - Unmarked by the Avalanche - Flying over Water on One Foot - the Unparalleled Twin Splints in Seven Provinces!"

    The more Zhou Weixin heard, the more curious he became. These fellows' nicknames are so long-winded! he thought. Then, he heard the short man say, "We are four brothers sworn by loyalty, who walk in heroic and righteous ways. We specialise in suppressing the strong and aiding the weak, and stealing from the rich to help the poor. The people of the wanderers' world call us Taiyue Sixia, the Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain!" Zhou Weixin thought: According to their nicknames, the short man's skill in qinggong must be quite astounding, while the fat fellow's palms must very strong and vicious. The pale-faced man's skill with the meteorite hammer must be very accomplished. As for the sickly fellow, the phrase "Free and Unfettered Divine Dragon Covered with Rosy Smoke" must indicate that he is from the previous generation of pugilists. I have actually never heard of the Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain, but since they call themselves "Heroes", they should not be mere pip-squeaks. A saying in the wanderers' world went: "Rather not recognise any words, than not acknowledging another person." Hence, he raised his clasped hands for the third time and said, "I have heard about you for a long time, and am very pleased to meet you! My escort agency has never been involved with the Four Heroes, so please let us pass. I will make it a point to visit you another day."

    Gai Yiming raised his twin splints and made a "ding, ding" noise with them before saying, "It is not difficult to let you pass, for we do not want the silver in your cargo at all. However, we must borrow one or two of your precious items before you go."

    Zhou Weixin asked, "What precious items?"

    Gai Yiming laughed and replied, "Ha, ha! It is strange that you would ask me such as question. If you do not know the answer, how then would I know?"

    At this juncture, Zhou Weixin knew that the matter could no longer be concluded in a friendly manner. The Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain had come because of the pair of Twin Sabres on his back, causing a thought to pop into his mind: A saying in the wanderers' world went: "Merciful people do not fight, but when they do, there will be no mercy." Once these four fellows strike, a massacre will follow. Therefore, he slowly pulled his double-whip out and said, "In this case, I will have to learn from the immense skills of the Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain. Who will attack first?" He turned around and made a gesture with his hand.

    Five escorts and the four bodyguards from the Provincial Office walked towards him at the same time. "We do not have to follow the customs of the wanderers' world in dealing with these greenwood bandits and thieves," Zhou Weixin said to them in a low voice. "Just attack them together. After all, a saying in the wanderers' world went: "So long as there are many hands, even a decorated archway could be carried across the river."" By then, he had made a decision in his heart: Let them fight with the Four Heroes and I will seize a path out of here. The best option is to deliver the Twin Sabres to the Capital, for a saying in the wanderers' world went: "A fight is like a gust of wind, for the wounded will be thrown here and there."

    Gai Yiming said, "Hey, Chief Escort, my Unparalleled Twin Splints in Seven Provinces wants to fight with your Iron Whip that Quells Eight Directions!" At the same time, he shook himself and charged forward.

    Zhou Weixin did not get off his horse, but he raised his iron whip in a move called "Seizing the Ancient Weapon in the Peach Garden" and pushed the crescent-shaped splints away. Then, he kicked his heels and rode off.

    "The Chief Escort must be stopped!" shouted Gai Yiming at once.

    But Zhou Weixin turned his head and answered, "I am going to take a look in the forest, for there could be an ambush there!" He rode further and further away. Hua Jianying's meteorite hammer flew towards his back, but Zhou Weixin raised his whip in a move called "Attacking Three Fortified Villages in the Night" and sent the meteorite hammer flying back towards its master.

    Now that he had experienced the weapons of Gai and Hua, he realised that their pugilistic skills were not particularly astonishing. Their internal strength was not great either. Then, he noticed the Free and Unfettered Xiaoyaozi leaning against a tree with his long-stemmed tobacco pipe, watching all the escorts surround the other Three Heroes of the Grand Mountain without a single expression or sound. Zhou Weixin was surprised. Once this fellow strikes, I will not be able to run away anymore, he thought. A saying in the wanderers' world went: "Those who refuse to take shelter on a cloudy day will eventually be drenched in rain." So he struck his horse with his whip. As the animal began to run as if it was mad, he saw Xiaoyaozi move his hand and heard him say, "Watch out for the dart!" The wind whistled and a black lumpy weapon flew towards him.

    Zhou Weixin raised his whip to block the object, only to have it stick firmly on the steel surface of the whip. He was shocked. This Xiaoyaozi is as highly-skilled as I had expected him to be, he thought. Even his hidden weapon is different from those used by others. After all, a saying in the wanderers' world went: "Once a man sticks out his hand, his strengths and weaknesses will be known." By then, his horse had already run out of the forest. Zhou Weixin saw that no one was pursuing him, so he calmed himself down and took a look at the hidden weapon that was stuck on his whip. It was actually a tattered old shoe! The shoe was coated with mud, so it had remained glued to the whip.

    He was even more shocked this time. The highly-skilled men of the pugilistic community can kill by just throwing flowers and dispersing leaves, he thought. He was indeed merciful not to hurt me with his tattered old shoe! He could not decide whether to continue riding towards the Capital or wait for the current situation to change. Then, he heard a loud cry coming from the forest, as if someone was butchering a pig. It was followed by a strange silence. Zhou Weixin's heart thumped loudly. Could all the escorts and the four bodyguards have fallen prey to the Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain in such a short time? he asked himself.

    Then, he heard a loud voice shout, "Chief Escort! Chief Escort!" It sounded like his colleague, Escort Zhang. Zhou Weixin touched the cloth bundle on his back silently and thought, A saying in the wanderers' world went: "To be smart, one must first listen. To see clearly, one must stand at a distance." A moment later, another voice called, "Chief Escort! Come back! The thieves have gone! We have chased them away!"

    Zhuo Weixin was surprised. How could it be so easy? he asked himself, as he pulled at the reigns and turned his horse around. He saw one of his men run up and shout, "Chief Escort, the pip-squeaks have gone! All our cargo is safe!"

    "Really?" Zhou Weixin asked happily.

    "We attacked them all at once and fought bravely," added the man. "Escort Zhang managed to slash the sickly fellow with his sabre and caused a gash on his brow. The four men ran away after that."

    Now that the report had proven true, Zhou Weixin's heart was filled with joy. He rode his horse into the forest once more and said, "There were ten pip-squeaks lying in ambush outside the forest, but they all ran away once I attacked them!" He could not help but turn red as soon as the lie was out of his mouth. A saying in the wanderers' world went: "A man who thieves has an uneasy heart; a man who farts has a red face," he thought. I must calm myself down and not allow the others to see the flaw in my story.

    By then, Escort Zhang was waving his sabre proudly in the air. "What Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain?" he said arrogantly. "They are but a mouthful of hot air!" The other escorts and the bodyguards laughed loudly in agreement. Zhou Weixin looked at the tombstone that had been left on the ground and wondered about its origins again.

    Suddenly, a loud shout came from the forest. "Ai-yo! Ai-yo!"

    "It is the pip-squeak who was hurt!" said Zhou Weixin at once. The men ran towards the direction of the shout and saw that it had come from a clump of thorny undergrowth. They spread out and surrounded the bush before Zhou Weixin said, "Petty thieves, come out!" No one appeared. Instead, the shouts from the bush grew louder, so he waved arm and released a wrist-arrow into the undergrowth. A loud "Ah!" sounded, confirming that the fellow inside the bush had been hit.

    "You got him!" said two escorts. "The Chief's shooting skills are great!" Then, they took out their sabres, charged into the undergrowth and pulled out the fellow inside. As soon as the escorts saw him, they fell silent in surprise.

    The man in the bush was actually the salt merchant, Wang, who had engaged the escorts to deliver a batch of silver. His clothes were already shredded to bits by the thorns in the undergrowth. A saying in the wanderers' world went: "Nine out of ten fat men are rich, but they may not have any backsides!" But this fat salt merchant had a backside indeed, for the wrist-arrow was stuck on it!

    * * *

    The Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain waited until the men of the Weixin Escort Agency had gone very far away before coming out of the forest. Hua Jianying tore off a strip of cloth from his clothes and bound up the gash on Xiaoyaozi's brow. Chang Changfeng said, "Elder Brother, how do you feel?"

    "I am fine, I am fine," answered Xiaoyaozi. "We are good men who cannot overcome a large number of foes, so it is not a big matter."

    Hua Jianying said, "I had said before that these people were loud and powerful-looking, and therefore, difficult to deal with. But Second Brother insisted on taking them on. See, Eldest Brother is now injured."

    "These people were really confused beyond words," Gai Yiming added. "What else could we do when they did not even retreat at the great name of the Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain?"

    "Well, we cannot blame our Second Brother," said Xiaoyaozi finally. "If we want to get something really valuable and precious, we have no choice but to seek out passing teams of escorts."

    "So what should we do now?" asked Chang Changfeng. "Our hands are empty, so we still cannot go and visit him."

    Gai Yiming started to make a suggestion, but the sound of footsteps from outside the forest interrupted him. Someone was coming quickly into the forest from its southern end, heading towards the north. Gai Yiming stuck his head out for a look and said, "There are two people altogether! This time, we must make sure that these fat lambs do not run away!"

    "Right, we must take at least a few dozen liang of silver from them!" said Chang Changfeng. He lifted the tombstone that he had retrieved earlier and held it in one hand. As it turned out, his nickname, the Palms that Break Stone, came from the fact that he used a tombstone as a weapon. When he raised the tombstone above his head and threw it at his enemies, all of them ran away in fear. As for the origins of the tombstone, he had simply plucked it off a grave that he had come across.

    The four men struck their palms together, dispersed and hid behind large trees.

    The two people ran into the forest one after the other. The first was a man about twenty-seven years old with a sabre in his hand. "Thieving Old Woman!" he shouted at the top of his voice. "You are so unreasonable! Do you really want to have me killed?" The Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain saw a young married woman chasing the man. There was a baby on her back and a catapult in her hand. "Ba - ba - ba - ba" - the catapult sounded as a series of beads flew towards the young man. The man swung his sabre to the left and the right to fend off the beads, but he did not turn around to attack the woman. Seeing the conflict between the man and the woman, Xiaoyaozi said, "Who are these? Why are they fighting?"

    Gai Yiming whistled once and the four men came out from their hiding place at the same time. "Stop!" they said to the two people who were fighting. But the young man charged straight ahead, turned his head around and shouted, "Thieving Old Woman! If you continue being so ruthless, I will no longer spare you any mercy!"

    "Thieving Dog!" shouted the young woman in response. "If I do not kill you today, I, Ren Feiyan, am not human!" By then, the Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain were already standing in the young man's path. "Lin Yulong," the young woman added, "you had better stand still!"

    The young man, whose name was indeed Lin Yulong, cast an eye on Chang Changfeng and said, "Move aside!" Then, he bent down to avoid the beads that had been shot towards him. A moment later, a loud "Ai-yo!" was heard. The beads had struck Chang Changfeng on the nose.

    "Stinking Old Woman!" he shouted at once. "You hit me!"

    "So what if I did?" Ren Feiyan retorted without batting an eyelid. She pulled her catapult again and sent two beads towards the man. Chang Changfeng raised the tombstone to fend off the shots, but to no avail. One of them hit him on the chest, while the other struck his arm. The sudden pain on his arm caused him to drop the tombstone. "Ai-yo!" he shouted immediately and jumped away. It turned out that the tombstone had landed on his toe!

    Gai Yiming and Hua Jianying sprang towards Ren Feiyan as soon as they saw their Second Brother suffer in her hands. The young woman pulled her catapult and sent several beads towards both of them. Gai Yiming was hit on the brow, while Hua Jianying had one of his front teeth knocked out. "Danger! Danger!" shouted Gai Yiming at once.

    Having lost precious time on the four men, Ren Feiyan saw that Lin Yulong had run out of the forest. She became very angry and started to run after him. A few steps later, she turned and pulled at her catapult, knocking Xiaoyaozi's long-stemmed pipe out of his hand. This strange but accurate move was the famous "Returning Horse" of the Catapult Forms. Ren Feiyan smiled, turned her head and shouted, "Lin Yulong, you Stinking Thief! You had better stop!"

    "If you have guts, you should fight three hundred exchanges with me using the sabre and the spear!" Lin Yulong retorted. "What is the use of chasing me with a catapult?"

    Soon, the quarrel between the two people could no longer be heard as they ran further and further away towards the north. Hua Jianying said, "Eldest Brother, who are Lin Yulong and Ren Feiyan?"

    "Lin Yulong is an expert in the sabre, while the woman, Ren Feiyan, is definitely a specialist in the catapult," answered Xiaoyaozi in a serious voice. Immediately, Gai Yiming said, "Eldest Brother, you have divine insight and your words are reasonable."

    "The woman does not look too bad, so I suspect that Lin must have behaved inappropriately towards her," Hua Jianying added. "That is right!" said Xiaoyaozi. "Since, we, the Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain, are righteous men who love to set the injustices of society right, we will make sure that Lin Yulong suffers when we run into him!"

    "Perhaps, the father of one of them was killed by the father of other," Chang Changfeng suggested. "But we do not know who is right and who is wrong. Damn, my foot is really painful right now!" As he reached down and rubbed his foot with a hand, Xiaoyaozi said, "That Lin fellow is ugly and ferocious. One look was all I needed to know that he is not the kindhearted sort. The Ren woman fights in a crude and rash manner, but her martial arts skills are definitely the orthodox type."

    "Eldest Brother, you have divine insight and your words are reasonable," said Gai Yiming.

    Chang Changfeng was about to argue his point when a loud voice sounded outside the forest: "When yellow gold pursues the hand, desire fades fast. Yesterday's bankruptcy makes the present court poor. What matters make man unfettered in vain? Perhaps it is better to burn the cloth on one's head...." A young bookish-looking fellow stepped softly into the forest, waving a folding fan gently as he walked along. Behind him, came a pageboy who toted a piece of luggage on his shoulder.

    By then, Hua Jianying had used his fingers to pick up the tooth that had been knocked off. He was both angry and upset, so the sight of the scholar and his leisurely demeanour did not do anything to calm him down. Besides, the scholar was mumbling something about yellow gold and white silver, so Hua Jianying glanced at Gai Yiming, stepped forward and said, "Hey Scholar, what are you babbling about? The noise has given us headaches, so you had better compensate us quickly!"

    The scholar was surprised at the appearance of the four men, but he managed to ask, "Dear Benevolent Brother, what should I compensate you for?"

    "For giving the four of us headaches!" answered Gai Yiming. "A hundred liang of silver for each man, so the total is four hundred liang!"

    The scholar stuck out his tongue and said, "How expensive! Even if it was the Emperor who was having a headache, he would not have needed that much silver to find a cure."

    "What creature is the old emperor anyway?" Gai Yiming retorted. "How audacious of you to compare us to him! The deal cannot be used anymore, for this four hundred liang must be given an upward roll. The total is now eight hundred liang."

    "That you, Benevolent Brother, are more honoured and valuable than the Emperor is indeed very admirable," said the scholar. "May I ask for your esteemed surname and given name, as well as your background?"

    Chuckling, Gai Yiming replied: "My surname is Gai, and my given name is Yiming. People in the wanderers' world know me as Babu Ganchan - Saizhuanzhu - Taxue Wuhen - Dujiao Shuishangfei - Shuangchi Gai Qisheng, the Eight-Step Toad Chaser - Purposeful Competitor - Unmarked by the Avalanche - Flying over Water on One Foot - the Unparalleled Twin Splints in Seven Provinces. I am the fourth among the Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain."

    The scholar clasped his fists together and held them up in salute. "I have heard about you for a long time, and am very pleased to meet you." Then, he turned to Hua Jianying and asked, "What about you, Benevolent Brother?"

  3. #3
    Senior Member littleli's Avatar
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    Default Part 1: The Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain

    Translation, continued by Irwika..

    Hua Jianying frowned and said: "Who has time to mix with you on intimate terms?" Pushing away the pageboy, he picked up his carrying pole, took one of the baskets hanging on it, weighed it in the hand, and happily repeating "very heavy" opened it. He looked inside and could not cool down his anger; actually the package was full of old books. Chang Changfeng shouted: "Pooh! It’s a waste!"
    The scholar hurriedly said: "Benevolent Brother is wrong! Book of saints, how can it be a waste? There is a saying “A book holds a house of gold." [1] " Chang Changfeng asked: "There is gold in the book? These damaged books are worth one penny a pound, nobody wants them." Gai Yiming then took the other end of the carrying pole to open the other basket. There was nothing apart from common clothes, not even the slightest valuable thing. The Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain were exceedingly disappointed.
    The scholar observed: "Roaming the world in search of knowledge, to be able to meet you, four Benevolent Brothers, how fortunate I am? Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain are known to help those in distress, their chivalric behaviour is truly famous in Jianghu." [2]
    Xiaoyaozi said: "You're quite right." The scholar answered to that: "Today I see brave heroes, I shall consider myself very lucky indeed. As it turns out, at present there is a certain matter which troubles me, I must ask the four heroes to grant me a favour of your assistance."
    Xiaoyaozi said: "This is easy! We consider ourselves as heroes, if seeing other people facing difficulties we would not lend a hand, how could we still hold the name of heroes?"
    The scholar repeatedly bowed to express his thanks. Gai Yiming asked: "Who bullied you?"
    The scholar replied: "This thing I am ashamed to say, I'm afraid four elder brothers will laugh at me."
    Hua Jianying, having sudden inspiration, said: "Ah, evil tyrant kidnapped your beautiful younger sister". The scholar shook his head:" No, I do not have a sister." Gai Yiming said: "Ah, local bully or corrupted official abducted your wife". The scholar again shook his head: "No, I'm not married, how can I have a wife?" Impatient, Chang Changfeng loudly asked: "What is the matter in the end? Quickly say it." The scholar said: "In that case I will tell you, four heroes please don’t be offended."
    Although the four called themselves Heroes of the Grand Mountain, yet no one in Jianghu have ever before addressed them with so much respect. At this moment, listening to the scholar’s speech, they all had the same thought and simultaneously said: "Quickly tell us, what difficult matter it is, Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain certainly will undertake to help you."
    The scholar clasped his fists together and held them up in salute, then said: "Wandering in Jianghu, the gold in my little purse was exhausted, I only beg Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain to assist me with 10 ounces (liang) of silver. I thank you, four heroes, in advance. "
    Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain could not help but frown together, speechless. They wanted to rob the scholar, using some words he managed to reverse the situation. The Palms that Break Stone Chang Changfeng patting his stomach, said loudly: "For a friend, a real man won’t even refuse to have both sides of his body pierced by knives, much less trivial 10 ounces of silver. Big Brother, Third Brother, Fourth Brother, take money out. I have here... " He put out a hand to his bosom to pull out a purse, but suddenly he stopped; actually his purse was empty, it contained not even one copper coin. Fortunately, Hua Jianying and Gai Yiming had a few pieces of silver, they both took it out and gave to the scholar. The scholar repeatedly bowed to express thanks, saying: "I will never forget your kindness, I hope that in future I will be able to repay this debt of gratitude". Taking the pageboy along with him, he disappeared in the forest.
    He walked out of the woods, laughing, and the pageboy said: "This few ounces of silver, you are enjoying it, right?" As the pageboy, arranging disordered baggage, opened an old book, under a ray of setting sun there was a gold dazzle; actually numerous pieces of thin gold leaf were placed between the pages of the book. He observed, laughing: "Master told them that there was gold within, yet they did not to believe."

    [1] Allusion to Song Dynasty poem “There is no need for the rich to buy land, as plenty of food can be found in books. There is no need to invest in building a good house, as golden house can be found in books.”
    [2] There is a good explanation of what Jianghu, Lu Lin and Wu Lin are in Faerie Queene’s translation of “Legend of the White Haired Maiden”. I will take the liberty of quoting it here: “(...) “Lu Lin” is usually in reference to the underworld fraternity of thieves, bandits, outlaws and smugglers. The term sometimes carries undertones of the bandits robbing for good and charitable causes. Lu Lin should be differentiated from the term “Wu Lin” which is usually translated as the “martial arts world” referring to the world of martial art sects and masters. Another commonly used term “Jiang Hu” is in reference to both the underground and martial arts world as well as other secret societies/associations/clans etc.” Huang Yushi in the first part of this novel translated Jianghu as "wanderer's world".[/QUOTE]
    Last edited by littleli; 12-18-10 at 11:52 AM.

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    Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain tried to steal a chicken only to end up losing the rice, but that gallant act, contrary to what one might expected, have made them happy. Gai Yiming said: "With this scholar roaming the world, we will be able to spread the name of Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain..." He has not finished speaking, when sound of bell and horse’s hooves was being heard from the south. Xiaoyaozi said: "Brothers, listen to this horse running very fast, it is an extraordinary steed. No matter how, we have to capture this horse; if its owner has no other treasures, his horse alone can be regarded as a gift. Gai Yiming said: "Eldest Brother, you have divine insight and your words are reasonable". Hurriedly untying his belt, he said: "Quick, untie your belts, let’s form a rope!" He immediately joined four belts and was about to stretch them between two trees when the horse has ran into the forest.
    Seeing traveller, four person crouching on the ground immediately pulled the rope. Startled, the raider reined a horse and asked: "What are you doing?" Gai Yiming answered: "An horse-tripping rope, my child..." He has not finished his sentence, when he realized that something was wrong. Turning around, he saw immediately that the traveller was a beautiful girl. The girl asked: “Why are you doing horse-tripping rope?” Gai Yiming stood upright, flicked the dust from his body and said: "To catch your horse! Well, since you already know, a horse-tripping rope is not needed anymore. You obediently dismount, leave the horse and you may go. We, Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain, must not bully a single woman, that would brought us a bad name." The girl smiled and said: "You want me to leave my horse, are you not bullying me?" Gai Yiming, stumbling said: "Well ... that’s true." Xiaoyaozi said: "We are not bullying you, we are just bullying your horse. It’s only an animal, isn’t it?” He saw the horse’s tall body, bright oily hair; it seemed to be divine spirited horse. Together with the golden and silver bells and a saddle, is was already worth a lot of money. The more he looked at it, the more he liked it. Gai Yiming said: "Yes, the Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain are Jianghu top pugilists, we cannot make things difficult for women and children. You just stay mounted, we must not touch one hair on you. To think, I, Toad Chaser - Purposeful Competitor - Unmarked by the Avalanche... ” Covering her ears the girl hurriedly said "Say no more, say no more. You do not know who I am, I do not know who you are, right? "Gai Yiming said: "Ah, yes! But why you don’t want to know?". The girl smiled: "Since we are not acquainted, if I offend you, my dad cannot blame me. Well, good bold thief, four of you come together!" In a flash, four men saw that the girl’s hands were already holding a pair of swords and her power was such, that it created wind. She moved her horse forward and bent herself; with her right hand she cut off horse-tripping rope, while the sword in her left hand immediately went towards Gai Yiming’s head to cut it off. Gai Yiming shouted "Noble men do not fight with women! there is no need to hit...” Seeing white flash and realizing that long sword has been directed towards his face, he hastily raised his steel stick. A clang of metal was heard as the weapons intersected. But there was enormous power beneath the girl’s swords; Gai Yiming was unable to hold a grasp of his weapon and it immediately flew ten feet high and ended hooked to a big tree's branch.
    Hua Jianying and Chang Changfeng rushed together into the fight from a side, but the girl on a horseback was chopping continuously with her swords to the left and to the right; both Hua and Chang were unable to ward off. The girl saw the stone tablet in the hands of Chang Changfeng, she found it very strange and asked: "Hey, big man, what is the thing you hold?" Chang Changfeng answered: "This is the legendary Chang’s weapon, not like one of 18 typical martial arts weapons, ah... whoops!" The girl reversed long sword and used back of the blade to strike his wrist. Chang Changfeng suffered a strong pain and dropped his legendary weapon; as it happened, unfortunately the tablet landed on a previously injured, swollen toe.
    Xiaoyaozi, seeing the situation was not good, took his pipe and went forward, attacking on a flank. His pipe had been made from fine iron and it could be used in a fight in the same manner as a Judge's Pen, but his knowledge of the location of various acupoints was not very precise and he was erroneously attacking the wrong spots. Seeing this, the girl inwardly laughed; to expose the slip in his theory, she let him touch with his pipe the spot in the middle of her left leg. She only felt slight pain and asked him loudly: "Sickly ghost, what is the spot you point?" said: "This is the zhng d[1]acupoint, touching it causes knee paralysis, the four limbs of the body are becoming numb, aren’t you unable to strike me back?" The girl laughing observed: "This acupoint is not here, it’s two inches to the left." Xiaoyaozi stared blankly and said: “To the left? Unlikely.” He extended his pipe, intending once again to touch the same spot. The girl’s sword chopped downwards, hit his pipe making it fall to the ground, following which she took both swords with her right hand, while at the same time her left hand grabbed Xiaoyaozi by the neck. She pressed gently the horse’s belly, the horse gave a long neigh and flew out of the forest.

    [1] on the lateral aspect of the thigh
    Last edited by littleli; 12-18-10 at 11:53 AM.

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    The girl rode away holding Xiaoyaozi by the back of his neck. His whole body was paralysed, his limbs numb, feeling like if he was tied and unable to do anything about it. The remaining Heroes of the Grand Mountain shouted: "Things are tense!" Wanting to sell their lives dearly, they chased with all their might after her. Soon the horse went many lis [1] away.
    Xiaoyaozis both feet were dragging along the ground and got severely scratched, so now they were dripping with blood. He said: "You grabbed my fēng ch[2]acupoint, which is the meeting point of the Yang Motility and Yang Linking Vessels, it is not surprising that I am unable to move. A fight is not a crime, although Im defeated, its still a glorious defeat." The girl giggled, reined the horse and throwing him to the ground, said: "You must admit, that your acupoints technique failed!" Then she suddenly sneered and drawing a sword to his neck, shouted: "You are rude towards women, you have to be killed!" Xiaoyaozi sighed and said: "All right! But you better pierce my tiānzh[3]acupoint with your sword, kill me with the sword and spare me much pain!"
    The girl could not help but laugh, thinking that this ghost even when facing death is still studying acupoints. She decided: I will scare him to see what kind of person he is, thus she pressed with swords blade the point at his neck, between the tiānzh and fēng ch acupoints, and said: "Its here." Xiaoyaozi shouted: "No, no, Miss is wrong, its still half an inch up..."At this moment there came three flustered men, shouting: "Miss, kill the three of us as well..." It was Chang Changfeng and the other two heroes. The girl asked: Why did you deliver yourselves to be killed? Gai Yiming replied: Although The Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain were not born the same day of the same year, we hope to die the same day of the same year. If Miss kills my elder brother, we three brothers are unwilling to live alone, so please, Miss, kill us together. If anyone of us bats an eyelid, he will not be considered a hero!" While talking he walked beside Xiaoyaozi, were he stopped, stretching his neck to be killed. The girl hold her sword in midair, as if intending to cut down, Gai Yiming smiled, not trying to sidestep. The girl said: "Good! The martial arts skills of you four people are ordinary, but your spirit of loyalty is great, be regarded as a good guys, I spare you." She put the sword in sheath.
    Four heroes were pleasantly surprised and very grateful. Gai Yiming asked: "Miss, may I ask your name? We, Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain, will certainly never forget your kindness and will try to repay it in the future." The girl, hearing that he was still referring to themselves "The Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain" without the slightest degree of shame, could not help but smiled again and said: "Do not ask my name. However, I must ask you, why did you try to rob my horse?" Gai Yiming said: "Tenth day in March this year, is the 50 birthday of Jinyangs [4] hero Xiao Banhe..." When the girl heard the name of Xiao Banhe, she asked startled: "You know old hero Xiao?" Gai Yiming explained: "We do not know old hero Xiao, but we have always admired his fame, therefore we went to take part in his 50 birthday celebration. I am ashamed to say, we four brothers have no gift to present, so it ... by ... this ... " The girl laughed: "So you wanted to take my horse to be a gift. Ah, its easy." She took a golden hairpin from her head and said: "In this golden hairpin there is a very expensive pearl; take it as a gift for birthday celebration, old hero Xiao will surely like it." She loosened horses rein and in an instant was far gone.
    Gai Yiming held the hairpin in his hand; there was a big round pearl on top of it, glistening with a rare bright lustre. Although four heroes didnt know much about jewellery, but they were aware, that it was a rare treasure. Four heroes staring blankly at the pearl were endlessly happy. Xiaoyaozi said: "I like this bold and generous girl." Gai Yiming said: "Eldest Brother, you have divine insight and your words are reasonable."

    [1] li=500 meters

    [2]on the lateral aspect of the neck (towards the back)

    [3]at the back of the neck (the upper part of it)

    [4]Jinyang, present day Taiyuan, a city in Shanxi province, near Fen river.[/QUOTE]
    Last edited by littleli; 12-18-10 at 12:04 PM.

  6. #6
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    Default Chapter 3

    The girl was sitting in a small room of Gantings Fen An inn, on the table stood a small wine pot filled with a world famous Fen wine. This Ganting town, located between Linfen county and Hongtong county in southern Shanxi, is exactly the place of origin of Fen wine. But she only drank one sip, it was spicy and soon afterwards in her mouth she felt numbness and pain; this wine in reality was not at all tasty. Why is Daddy so fond of it? Daddy used to say: "Girls should not drink alcohol." If I listened to Dad at home, after having sneaked out, I wouldnt drink a pot of Fen wine. To drink wine can be really difficult. She drank a big mouthful and had an impression that her face became hot, she touched her face with hand; it was really hot. In the room next door there are armed escorts drinking their wine, one cup after another, are they not afraid of hot?
    A coarse voice called out: "Boy, bring three more catties!" The girl listened and shook her head. Another voice said: "Brother Zhang, this is good principle to take a few small cups and drink little! There is a saying in Jianghu: With steady hand and steady mouth, there is a good hiding everywhere. Wait till we finally arrive in Beijing and drink with me then." The first man smiled and replied: "Chief Escort, I see you also need to be more steady. You were scared by the wild boasting of those Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain... hey, hey... waiter, quickly bring some more wine!"
    When the girl heard "Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain" mentioned, she could not help but to laugh, she assumed that these escorts also fought with them. She heard Chief Escort say: "What am I afraid of? You know that I carry extremely heavy burden. This ten thousand liang of salt money doesnt permit my mind to be at ease. He snorted: Well, this time I wont explain it to you in detail, once we arrive in Beijing, you will know." Escort Zhang smiled and said: "Yes, yes! I do not know, I do not know. Hey, the Twin Sabres, ah the Twin Sabres!
    When the girl heard the words "Twin Sabres" her heart jumped, she put the ear to the wall wanting to hear more clearly, but no sound came from the other room. The girl slipped out of the room and silently stepped to escorts window. She heard Zhou questioning all of the escorts: "How do you know? Who leaked the rumour? Brother Zhang, this is a serious business." He lowered his voice, but his tone was extremely serious. Escort Zhang observed lightly: "Who of the brothers does not know? See for yourself, if it is much of a big secret. Chief Escort's voice trembled when he hurriedly asked: "Who said about it?" Escort Zhang said: "Ha, ha! Who else? It was you."

    More pressingly Chief Escort asked: "When did I say it? Brother Zhang, if you dont state everything clearly, I will not be able to figure it out. I, Zhou Weixin never treat you in a cold manner... ah..." Then another voice was heard: "Chief Escort, dont be so agitated. Brother Zhangs words are not wrong, it was you Chief Escort Zhou: "I? I? How is it possible?" That other voice: "From the time when we left Xi'an, every night when you fall asleep, you are talking in your sleep, over and over again repeating: Yuanyang Dao, Twin Sabres... they should be delivered to Beijing, the slightest trouble should not occur... the one who gets Yuanyang Dao would be matchless in the whole world..."
    Zhou Weixin was alarmed and ashamed. He wanted so desperately to keep the big secret for himself and all the time he was thinking of nothing else. Just because there was no other idea in his mind apart from "Yuanyang Dao", because he was thinking about it during the day and dreaming about it during the night, it happened that in his sleep he said it. He greeted all the escorts by raising clasped hands and whispered: "You cant mention the word Twin Sabres. Starting from tonight, I will sleep with my mouth covered with a cloth."
    The girl outside the window listening to these words and feeling happy in her heart, thought: "I traveled far and wide looking for the Twin Sabres, only to find it easily. This pair of sabres unexpectedly being in this escorts hands, I will steal them. Lets see what daddy will say?"
    Actually this girls surname was Xiao, given name Zhonghui, her dad was precisely the hero called Xiao Banhe. Xiao Banhes martial arts fame was reverberating far, his name was well known to every hero in Jianghu. Last month he received the information, that The Twin Sabres, that had been lost for many years, have reappeared in Jianghu, more precisely they were obtained by the Governor of the Sichuan-Shaanxi Province, Liu Yuyi. Xiao Banhe calculated in his mind that Liu Yuyi is likely to sent the precious sabres to the capital to be presented to the Emperor, and decided that rather than attempt to seize it in Xi'an with its heavy military presence, he would rob it on the way. How would he know, that Liu Yuyi was very cunning and wise and prepared a diversion? He was repeatedly sending official squadrons with fake gifts, fooling in succession many of the Jianghu great heroes, who passionately desired to possess the Twin Sabres, but losing a lot of his men.
    Xiao Banhe, thinking of his approaching 50 birthday, sent invitation cards, asking numerous heroes from Shaanxi, Shanxi, Hebei and Shandong provinces to drink a glass of wine at his birthdays celebrations, but some of the invitation carts had the postscript, urging the recipient to make every effort to rob the precious sabres. Of course, if Xiao Banhe was not very well acquainted with the persons character, the invitation sent to him had no postscript, otherwise rumors would leak out and would inadvertently alert the enemy, making it impossible to rob the precious sabres, and his action would only endanger his good friends' lives.
    Xiao Zhonghui, hearing her father mention the precious sabres, was immediately eager to try herself in action. When Xiao send his disciples everywhere to invite heroes, she wanted to go, when Xiao Banhe sent his men to prepare an ambush Shaanxi, she wanted to go even more. But Xiao Banhe shaking his head said: "No!". When she insisted, Xiao Banhe: "Ask your aunt to ask your mother." Xiao Banhe had two wives; first madams family name was Yuan, seconds Yang. Zhonghuis mother was Ms Yang, but Ms Yuan loved her very much, as if she was her biological daughter. Ms Yuan was very kind to her and treated her like her own daughter, but she was a dignified looking person and Zhonghui from early childhood never dared to disobey her aunt. But grabbing the precious sabres, ah, both dangerous and wonderful, this matter was very amusing. Xiao Zhonghui thought about it until she was unable to hold back, and finally in the middle of the night, leaving a note to dad, aunt and mother, she secretly took a horse and left Jinyang.
    After encountering with Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain going to her dads birthday celebration she was persuaded that the martial arts of other heroes in this world are also only mediocre; hearing escorts dialogue, she fought that robbing The Twin Sabres is nothing difficult. She turned back and wanted to returned to her room and then slowly decide how to handle the escorts, but after two steps, suddenly, she heard the sound coming from the room across the courtyard. This sound was familiar to her from her childhood; it was the sound of clashing weapons. Alarmed, she thought: "Ah, not good! People will see me!" Someone was shouting: "Do you really want to fight?" The voice of a woman cried: "Does politeness still mean anything to you?" Uninterrupted sound Ping, ping, pang, pang was heard; strikes were very fierce. This sound was mixed with a cry of a baby. In the window of the room two shadows were visible; a man and a woman, each armed with a sabre, were making quick moves, attacking with all their might.
    The inn was at once in the chaos. As soon as Chief Escort Zhou heard it he shouted: "Do not go out, be alert, guard the cart carefully, it might be bandits stratagem to lure us out." Xiao Zhonghui thought: "So its not for real, they are only trying to move the tiger from the mountain [1] by a fake fight? Its a pity he didnt come out to have a look, or else is would be indeed a good opportunity to steal the sabres." Looking at that two shadows again, she noticed that the woman was already short of power, continuously retreating, and the men was advancing step by step, not at all relaxing. Her chivalrous heart surged, she thought: This vicious thief is exceedingly rude, rushing late at night into the women's room, acting perverse and violent; who would not fight against injustice?" She wanted to rush in to assist the woman, but then she thought: "Oh no! If I put my hand to it, I will inevitably reveal my abilities, if those escorts see it, then stealing the sabres will not be easy." Immediately she fought back her anger, only to hear the striking of weapons gradually slowing down. Both men and women continued to shout the abuses, but they used southern Shandong dialect, and Xiao Zhonghui was unable to understand more than half of it.
    She listened for a while, jittery, and was just about to return to her room, when suddenly she heard a sound, the doors of a room in eastern part of the courtyard were pushed open and a young scholar came out. He stated in a clear voice: "What is it they are quarrelling about? One can use words to solve a problem, why use a sword or a spear?" He walked to the windows of the room occupied by that men and women, apparently intending to mediate. Xiao Zhonghui thought: "That bad guy who is bullying others in this vicious way, would he reason with you?"
    The striking of weapons in the room rose once again, the child was crying louder and louder. Suddenly a projectile flew out from the window and making a loud sound hit the scholar's hat and made it fell to the ground. The scholar cried: "Ah yo, no good!" Then to himself: "A fire in the city gates is also a calamity for the fish in the moat[2]. Gentlemen do not have to stay in dangerous place, protecting ones life is still a wise thing to do". Saying this he slowly returned to the room. Xiao Zhonghui was both amused, but also worried about the woman; considering how vicious and fearless this criminal was, the woman will inevitably suffer a great defeat. But at that moment the sound of fight in the room ceased, the inn was at once silent.
    Xiao Zhonghui pondered: "Daddy always says, one should deal with important matters first; at present steeling the Twin Sabres is the most important, I have to let that vicious person go." She immediately returned to her room, shut the door and lying on the kang was wondering how to rob the precious sabres: "This escorts are many, how am I to deal with them alone? Before the night is over I should hurry back to Jinyang, to tell dad what I know and let him sent his people to carry this task. But if I use the stratagem to steal the sabres, and offer them to daddy, isnt it even better?" She felt very happy, anticipating how she would be proud of herself. But what stratagem should be employed? From her childhood she was thought by her father and her martial arts really wasnt weak, but when it came to planning, Miss Xiao was not an expert. Although five or six ideas came to her mind, yet after a careful consideration she decided that none of them was actually useful. Her vision was blurred and her eyelids got heavy, outside, the night was still.
    Suddenly a Tuk, Tuk, Tuk was heard... the sound seemed to come from far and near; it seemed that someone was hitting the streets slabs with an iron stick; evidently the person was blind. The sound arrived before the inn, where it stopped, and then the sound of iron stick knocking the inns door was heard, followed by the sound of waiter opening the inns door and scolding a visitor. The old voice asked for a room and the waiter requested him to pay in advance. The elderly blind man took out all his money, but it was not enough to pay for a room. Thereupon the sound of pushing and earnestly imploring voice were heard; the waiter was cursing using foul language, one rude sentence after another passed through Xiao Zhonghui's ears. The more she heard, the more she felt for that poor blind man.

    [1] to lure an opponent out by a stratagem
    [2] the bystander will also suffer[/QUOTE]
    Last edited by littleli; 12-18-10 at 12:07 PM.

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    The girl rode away holding Xiaoyaozi by the back of his neck. His whole body was paralysed, his limbs numb, feeling like if he was tied and unable to do anything about it. The remaining Heroes of the Grand Mountain shouted: "Things are tense!" Wanting to sell their lives dearly, they chased with all their might after her. Soon the horse went many lis [1] away.
    Xiaoyaozi’s both feet were dragging along the ground and got severely scratched, so now they were dripping with blood. He said: "You grabbed my fēng ch[2]acupoint, which is the meeting point of the Yang Motility and Yang Linking Vessels, it is not surprising that I am unable to move. A fight is not a crime, although I’m defeated, it’s still a glorious defeat." The girl giggled, reined the horse and throwing him to the ground, said: "You must admit, that your acupoints technique failed!" Then she suddenly sneered and drawing a sword to his neck, shouted: "You are rude towards women, you have to be killed!" Xiaoyaozi sighed and said: "All right! But you better pierce my tiānzh[3]acupoint with your sword, kill me with the sword and spare me much pain!"
    The girl could not help but laugh, thinking that this ghost even when facing death is still studying acupoints. She decided: “I will scare him to see what kind of person he is”, thus she pressed with swords’ blade the point at his neck, between the tiānzh and fēng ch acupoints, and said: "It’s here." Xiaoyaozi shouted: "No, no, Miss is wrong, it’s still half an inch up..."At this moment there came three flustered men, shouting: "Miss, kill the three of us as well..." It was Chang Changfeng and the other two heroes. The girl asked: “Why did you deliver yourselves to be killed?” Gai Yiming replied: “Although The Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain were not born the same day of the same year, we hope to die the same day of the same year. If Miss kills my elder brother, we three brothers are unwilling to live alone, so please, Miss, kill us together. If anyone of us bats an eyelid, he will not be considered a hero!" While talking he walked beside Xiaoyaozi, were he stopped, stretching his neck to be killed. The girl hold her sword in midair, as if intending to cut down, Gai Yiming smiled, not trying to sidestep. The girl said: "Good! The martial arts skills of you four people are ordinary, but your spirit of loyalty is great, be regarded as a good guys, I spare you." She put the sword in sheath.
    Four heroes were pleasantly surprised and very grateful. Gai Yiming asked: "Miss, may I ask your name? We, Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain, will certainly never forget your kindness and will try to repay it in the future." The girl, hearing that he was still referring to themselves "The Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain" without the slightest degree of shame, could not help but smiled again and said: "Do not ask my name. However, I must ask you, why did you try to rob my horse?" Gai Yiming said: "Tenth day in March this year, is the 50 birthday of Jinyang’s [4] hero Xiao Banhe..." When the girl heard the name of Xiao Banhe, she asked startled: "You know old hero Xiao?" Gai Yiming explained: "We do not know old hero Xiao, but we have always admired his fame, therefore we went to take part in his 50 birthday celebration. I am ashamed to say, we four brothers have no gift to present, so it ... by ... this ... " The girl laughed: "So you wanted to take my horse to be a gift. Ah, it’s easy." She took a golden hairpin from her head and said: "In this golden hairpin there is a very expensive pearl; take it as a gift for birthday celebration, old hero Xiao will surely like it." She loosened horse’s rein and in an instant was far gone.
    Gai Yiming held the hairpin in his hand; there was a big round pearl on top of it, glistening with a rare bright lustre. Although four heroes didn’t know much about jewellery, but they were aware, that it was a rare treasure. Four heroes staring blankly at the pearl were endlessly happy. Xiaoyaozi said: "I like this bold and generous girl." Gai Yiming said: "Eldest Brother, you have divine insight and your words are reasonable."

    [1] li=500 meters

    [2]on the lateral aspect of the neck (towards the back)

    [3]at the back of the neck (the upper part of it)

    [4]Jinyang, present day Taiyuan, a city in Shanxi province, near Fen river.[/QUOTE]
    Last edited by littleli; 12-18-10 at 12:17 PM.

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    May 2006

    Default Chapter 4

    Sunlight was gradually becoming more vivid, the trees shade have moved, fragrance of flowers was more intense. In her sleep Xiao Zhonghui heard from a distance a sound of a group of escorts calling "wei wu xin yi, military might - good faith". She yawned, but did not open her eyes. The sound was gradually approaching. It was precisely the Weixin Escort Agency. Tiebian Zhen Bafang Zhou Weixin led a large number of his men, meandering and rambling nearing the fragrant jujube forest, through which they had to pass in order to reach the high road leading straight from Hongdong County to the capital. The sun was high in the sky, it was really a good day, on a day like this nothing can go wrong, but in his heart Zhou Weixin was afraid. His heart suddenly jumped, when he heard the sound of the old blind man's iron stick hitting the ground behind the escorts team. Having gotten up early, the old blind man followed the escorts team; at first no one paid attention, but although the horses and cart were moving fast, strange to say, the blind man was all along following them. Zhou Weixin found it a little weird, he winked to escort Zhang and escort Zhan. Whipping animals they made them gallop and after a while the old blind man was left far behind. Zhou Weixin was relieved. But the escorts cart was heavy, to travel so fast was impossible and after a short time they slowed down. A moment later a tuk, tuk, tuk faint sound was heard from behind, the old blind man actually caught up with them. At such a display of martial arts, all escort team members without exception looking at each other turned pale; the old blind man who possessed such level of qinggong, was really extremely difficult to deal with. Escorts team slowed down, but the blind man did not catch up with them, his iron stick was hitting the ground, tuk, tuk, tuk, but he always kept the distance of 10 zhang [1].
    Seeing that there is a dark mass of woods in front, Zhou Weixin whispered: "Brother Zhang, everybody has to be on their guard, this old blind man can really be a bit demonic, Jianghu has a saying: Always act as if you were facing the enemy, your mind should be alert as if you were passing through a foot-bridge." Escort Zhang fend off the Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain the previous day and was elated by his heroic deed, now listening to Zhou Weixin he said in his heart: "Even if his lightness skill is not bad, what is to be feared from an old blind man? I know you, you see a mouse and think its a tiger." Stooping, he picked up a pebble from the ground, he used the "Flying locusts" stance, lowering elbow he raised his wrist and launched the pebble in direction of the old blind man. Only chi, chi sound was heard as the pebbles flew extremely fast in direction of the blind man. He did not even raise his head, only slightly lifted his iron stick, a sound of hitting was heard and the pebbels were presently quickly coming back. Escort Zhang exclaimed: "ah yo!" as the small stone hit him in the forehead and a blood flew. Escorts team was at once in chaos.

    [1] Zhang= 3,3 meters.

    Escort Zhang cried: "Blind thief, either you or I die!" Giving free rein to the horse he went forward, raising a sabre to cut down towards the blind persons shoulder. The blind man raised his stick, Escort Zhang holding a sword in his hands fell to the ground and shook from ache in his arm. He felt faint pain between the thumb and forefinger. He cried: "If there is any strong man, lets fight this blind man together!"
    Although everyone saw the blind mans superior martial arts, yet he was after all only a single person, blind and unable to fight off many heroes, so swords and spears were taken off simultaneously; 78 escorts immediately surrounded the old man. The blind man didnt show the slightest concern, waving his iron stick he was striking in the east and stabbing in the west, and one after another the escorts were knocked down on the ground. Zhou Weixin looked from a distance and saw the old blind man fought steadily, he was calm and composed, not at all worried about the great number of his opponents.
    Suddenly his eyelids made a quick move and Zhou Weixin saw spirit shining in his flickering eyes; actually he was not at all blind. He then turned around and kicked escort Zhan, who made a somersault. Zhou Weixin was greatly astonished, he knew that this "blind" man was by no means comparable to Xiaoyaozi and his Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain, but it was really a master.
    Thinking of their responsibilities he shouted: "Brother Zhang, catch this old blind man, but do not kill him. I will go in advance, we will meet in Hongdong County." In his mind he added: "A saying in Jianghu went: When one meets any danger on the road he should escape from that place, one who is not a gifted scholar cant recite poetry." Kicking his horse, he rushed towards the woods.
    Just as he was galloping into the woods, he saw a swords flash behind a big trees trunk. He was an experienced pugilist and he was inwardly complaining of his bitter lot: "So the "blind" man was not a lonely robber, his assistants are lying here in ambush." Immediately he started desperately whipping his horse to make it speed up, but after he rode 45 zhang, a figure emerged from behind the tree.

    When Zhou Weixin saw the man armed with sabre, looking fierce, he didnt waste the time for conversation, but immediately made a quick move with a hand and an arrow flew out in direction of that person, while Zhou was riding speedily forward. The man brandished a sabre and deflected the arrow, cursing: "Who released this lunatic?
    Another person, following after him, shouted: "You yourself are a lunatic, I am not!" "Bang, bang, bang" - the catapult sounded as a series of 89 beads flew out in rapid succession, some of them hit the horses buttocks; suffering great pain it kicked with its rear legs wildly, and Zhou Weixin fell of the horse. Holding his whip, he rolled on the ground and quickly jumped up, when a pellet hit his wrist. He let go of his iron whip and he himself again fell on the ground.
    Both people rushed simultaneously, one from right side, one from the left, and two swords touched his neck at the same moment. One person asked: "Who are you?" Another person asked: "Why are you behaving like a madman?" The first one also demanded: "Have you seen a child?" while the other inquired: "Have you seen a young girl passing by?". The first one asked: "Was that young girl carrying a baby?" In a moment each of them asked seven or eight questions, Zhou Weixin was about to open his mouth ten times, but was unable to answer all these queries. This was Lin Yulong and Ren Feiyan couple.
    Lin Yulong shouted at his wife: "Shut up, let me ask him." Ren Feiyan said: "Why must I shut up? You shut up, I will ask questions!" Both people were quarreling again. Zhou Weixin was lying with two swords pressing his neck, fearing this hot-tempered couple; if more pressure was added to the swords, his head would inevitably be separated from his body. Jainghu have a saying: "You go to your Southern Pass, and I walk my log bridge."[1] Once again he thought: "There is a saying in Jainghu: A single person should not look for trouble, a stretched hand wont hit a smiling man." Immediately he smiled and said: "You two dont have to be impatient, release me first, then calmly and slowly ask your questions." Lin Yulong shouted: "You want us to let you go?"
    Ren Feiyan saw his right hand moving backwards and touching the bundle wrapped in cloth carried on his back; it seemd to conceal a very valuable things. She shouted: "What is it?" Ever since the Governor handed to him that precious sabres, Zhou Weixin has not forgotten for a second the words "Twin Sabres", because his mind was occupied by nothing else even in his dream he could not stop talking about it; now steel swords were pressed to his neck and the situation was critical. Ren Feiyan asked again more pressingly, there was no time for pondering. Not able to stop himself he blurted out without thinking: "Twin Sabres!"
    Lin and Ren were astonished on hearing these, both moved their left hands simultaneously and at the same time caught the bundle on his back. Just when he finished speaking, Zhou Weixin already endlessly regretted it; presently he was desperately busying his mind to find a solution and his thoughts were revolving around one idea: "A saying in Jianghu went: When one man is doing his utmost, ten thousand men are not his match. Not to mention they are only two people."
    Unable to deal with chilling cold of the sharp blade at his neck, he threw himself forward and was about to go away. But the couple moved at the same time, pulling the bundle at his back with great force. However, the bundle was tightly fastened. Actually Zhou Weixin used thin iron rope to tie this pair of precious sabres carried on his back; although the couple used their force simultaneously, still the iron rope remained untouched. The three were tangled together.
    Zhou Weixin moved his hand to his back trying to strike the opponents, his fist hit Lin Yulong in the face. Ren Feiyan turned her swords handle and hitting hard with it the back of Zhou Weixins neck, asked: "Brother Long, does it hurt?" Lin Yulong angrily answered: "Whats the use of asking? Of course it hurts." Ren Feiyan furiously replied: "I kindly ask you, whats wrong with it?" While talking, they both were trying to snatch the bundle.
    When they were struggling like this, in the grass thicket a piercing voice cried: "Do you want the child?" Lin and Ren looked up and saw that it was precisely Xiao Zhonghui holding their son. They were delighted, immediately both of them at the same moment held out a hand to take the baby. Xiao Zhonghui handed the child with her right hand, in her left hand she was holding a long sword, with which she cut open the bundle at the back of Zhou Weixin. Then with her right hand she searched it and pulled out a sabre; it was shining with a blue light and producing a cold air while it was waved, it really was a rare sword, with its blade the iron rope could be cut.

    [1] Everybody has his own problems

    Xiao Zhonghui seized the bundle, turned around and bestrode Zhou Weixins mount; this technique was bold, fast and required much agility. She held horses reins and shouted: "Hurry!" but the horses four legs stood firmly as if nailed to the ground, unexpectedly the animal was completely motionless. Xiao Zhonghui kicked the horses belly, but it bent its two knees. She shouted: "Not good!" and was about to jump down from the horseback, but it was too late, her acupuncture points had already been blocked, and she was not able to move.
    A man appeared below horses belly, it was that old blind man. Nobody knew when he got rid of escorts team, came quietly and hid himself under the horses belly. He held out a hand and took the Twin Sabres from Xiao Zhonghuis hands. Ren Feiyan placed the child on the ground and stroke with her sword, Lin Yulong followed attacking from the flank. Blind man took the Twin Sabres from their sheath to ward off, Ding, Dong was heard as the swords held by Lin and Ren broke. They both stared blankly, at the same moment they felt pain and numbness in their acupuncture points located at waist and they were unable to move a single step.
    Zhou Weixin, with a force of mad tiger, shouted: "Blind thief, either you or I die!" He took his iron whip and performed a stance from "Huyan's 18 whips" called "Total Annihilation"; the horizontal smash was directed towards the blind man. He didnt try to dodge, lifted the longer one of the Twin Sabres, thrust forward, but strange to say, he neither thrust in direction of iron whip nor stabbed Zhou Weixins chest. Instead, he pierced the sabres sheath lying inside the bundle, then joined it with the sabre. He used the sheath as an iron whip, and performed exactly the same move, "Total Annihilation". Zhou Weixins iron whip, that weighted 16 jins[1], was at once stopped in mid-air and could not move even one thousandth of fen[2]; whether he should be called "Iron Whip that Quells Eight Directions" left a great room for discussion.
    While the weapons were locked in a stalemate, a shout was heard; the iron whip was shaken by the blind mans internal strength, Zhou had to release the grip and it flew out of his hand. As a result of this "Iron Whip Fly In Eight Directions" stance, Zhou Weixins web between the thumb and forefinger was torn, his palm was covered with blood. Blind man gave him a supercilious look and sneered: "Havent you learned the last stance of Huyan's 18 whips?"
    Zhou Weixin was really surprised as this was not a trivial matter. Although "Huyan's 18 whips" was known as a technique with 18 whip stances, only 17 stances were handed down from ancient times; his master had said that the last stance is called "Simultaneously Breaking 10 Spears". During the Northern Song Dynasty, when general Huyan Zan was attacked from all sides by the enemies, he used a mace to break 10 pikes. Every move of this whole whip technique relied on internal force alone, at present age only his martial uncle possessed this remarkable skill. Zhou Weixin had never seen his martial uncle, he only knew that he was imperial bodyguard, the leader of "Seventh Great Division", always residing in imperial palace and never going out, thus Zhou Weixin never had the opportunity to pay his respects. Then, struck by this idea, he trembling asked: "Your... your surname is Zhuo?" The blind man said: "Correct." Zhou Weixin was pleasantly surprised, he prostrated himself on the ground in salute and said: "Disciple Zhou Weixin kowtow before martial uncle Zhuo".
    The old blind man smiled faintly and observed: "Its good that you know who Zhuo Tianxiong is." Zhou Weixin replied: "When Master was alive, he frequently mentioned Uncles divine power. Disciple did not recognize Uncle, thats why just a moment ago he offended Uncle. A saying in Jianghu goes: Those destined by fate will come a thousand miles to meet, those who are not destined wont meet even if they live opposite each other. I am not aware when Uncle arrived from Beijing?" Zhuo Tianxiong smiled and said: "The Emperor sent me to join you."
    Zhou Weixin was both terrified and happy when he said: "If not for Uncles help, this Twin Sabres, I am afraid, would have fallen into the hands of bandits." Zhuo Tianxiong replied: "The Emperors sharp eyes can see through thousands of miles. He had anticipated, that something might go wrong while this pair of sabres was transported to Beijing. When you left Xian, I followed closely the escorts team. When you were falling asleep at night, what were your mouth blurting out, ah?"
    Zhou Weixins face went red, usually so talkative, he was speechless now. He thought: "Martial uncle followed us all the way, even at night he listened to me talking in my dream, yet I was perfectly unconscious of his presence. If it was not my martial uncle but a robber planning to steal the sabres, wouldnt I had already lost this insignificant life of mine? There is a saying in Jianghu: A man cannot bother about ten thousand things, its fate that arranges everything during his lifetime."
    Zhuo Tianxiong said: "Your fellows have little courage, at this moment they are hiding I do not know where. Call them and let's hasten on with our journey." Zhou Weixin assented. Zhuo Tianxiong lift the pair of precious sabres and shook of the dust, when he felt the cold air it was producing while being moved, sign of genuine force, he could not restrain himself from exclaiming: "Good sabre!"
    Zhou Weixin was about to go out from the forest, when he heard someone calling on his left side: "Hey, Zhuo, unlock my acupuncture points and we will have a fight, a?" Another, feminine voice, added: "You take people off guard, block acupuncture, what kind of hero are you?" Zhuo Tianxiong turned back, but he saw only Lin Yulong and Ren Feiyan each holding half of a broken sword, striking a posture as if they were longing to chop, but suffered pain in their whole bodys and were unable to move a single step.
    Zhuo Tianxiong extended his finger and flicked the short sabre, clang of metals sounded, it was like the dragons hum, long and uninterrupted. Then he stated: "No matter how many bandits there are, if one comes, you seize one, if two comes, you seize two." Turning to Xiao Zhonghui he added: "Miss, you also will follow me to Beijing to see the capital and its glamour." Xiao Zhonghui pressingly exclaimed: "Quickly let me go, or else you will regret it endlessly!" Zhuo Tianxiong laughed and said: "Since you speak like this, I even more cannot release you. Moreover, I want to see how you will make me regret it endlessly."
    Xiao Zhonghui secretly circulated her inner force, trying to open her leg acupuncture points, but her inner force turned around at her waist; the more she was anxious, the more she felt pain and numbness in her whole body. After repeated efforts she achieved nothing, her pretty face got very red and her eyes were filled with tears, but they were unable to drop.
    A shout was heard outside the forest, someone was humming loudly: "The emperor values heroes, book can teach you (how to be). Everything else is low-grade, only study is above all" [3]The man entered the forest. Xiao Zhonghui saw it was precisely the young scholar seen last night at the inn, called Yuan Guannan. To be seen in such an embarrassing situation by so many people was difficult to bear; her heart was so heavy that the tears, like pearls, rolled down her cheeks.

    [1] jin= 0,5 kg

    [2] fen= 0,33 cm

    [3] Prodigy Ode by Wang Zhu (汪洙) (active ca. 990 AD, a poet and a court calligrapher)

    Zhuo Tianxiong pressing Twin Sabres in his hand, said with severe voice: "Mister Yuan, this pair of sabres here, if you have the ability, come and seize them. You put on airs, enough of your pretence, you can deceive others, but not Zhuo Tianxiong." While talking he dashed the sabres against each other, the sound shook tops of the trees. Yuan Guannan lifting a writing brush with his right hand, his left hand holding a small box with ink, said: "Suddenly a poetic inspiration came to me, I want to write a poem about the trees, You, Sir, shout and unavoidably hurt peoples pure feelings." While talking he looked around, searching for a place to compose a poem.
    Zhuo Tianxiong knew he was practicing martial arts as soon as he looked at his body; seeing him sit and wait, Zhuo did not dare to underestimate the enemy. He immediately put Twin Sabres into their sheath and handed it over to Zhou Weixin. Preparing his iron stick he shouted: "If you want to write a poem, then write it on my gown!" While talking he was waving his iron stick and stroke towards the back of Yuan Guannans head. Xiao Zhonghui impulsively cried: "Do not fight!" She saw that Yuan Guannan was without the strength to truss a chicken [1] and genteel looking, wouldnt this stick smash his head?
    Yuan Guannan inclined his head and cried: "ah yo!" When iron stick, making its way downwards, passed by him, he said: "Miss tells you not to fight, why are you disobedient?" Zhuo Tianxiong circled the iron stick and made a horizontal sweep at the waist level. Yuan Guannan threw himself on the ground in front of him, iron stick swept pass the top of his head. Zhuo Tianxiong shouted: "Well done!" He sent his left hands palm to chop. Yuan Guannan, lying on the ground, dipped his writing brush in the ink stone, and directed it towards the point on Zhuos wrist.
    After they had both exchanged several strokes, Xiao Zhonghui was secretly amazed: "This scholar actually is a martial arts pugilist, I was mistaken about him." She saw his body moving smoothly, dodging to the east and fleeing to the west, Zhuo Tianxiongs iron stick was unable to hit him. Xiao Zhonghui secretly prayed: "Heavens bless this scholar to triumph over the opponent, permit him to rescue me."
    Lin Yulong said: "Master Scholar [2], I didnt know that your martial arts was that strong, quickly kill this blind man and unblock our acupuncture points." Ren Feiyan observed: "Is it not a wishful thinking? I see this young scholar is not necessarily the old blind mans match." Lin Yulong shouted: "Stinking old woman, stop saying inauspicious words, understand?" Ren Feiyan remarked: "Hey, I observe their fight, do you see it?" Actually Zhuo and Yuan were in front of her, while Lin Yulong was standing with his back turned towards them. Lin Yulong said: "Why do I have to look at it to see? I listen to the blind mans iron stick flying in confusion, according to the sound of wind he is creating, he is not in control of things." Ren Feiyan snorted and said: "Not in control of things, not in control of things. Humph! He could touch a spot on your body and make you unable to move." Lin Yulong retorted: "What about you? You are unable to turn around to look at me!" The more they quarrelled the fiercer they became, fortunately they were unable to move, otherwise punching and kicking would began. However Ren Feiyan was so angry, that she spit saliva in direction of her husband. They both spit at each other until they both had a saliva across their whole face.
    Xiao Zhonghui, seeing how this couple quarrelled and made noise incessantly even in such a dangerous situation, found it funny, but when she cast an eye at Yuan and Zhuo, her tender heart was frightened to see Yuan Guannan repeatedly retreating; it seemed he was not Zhuo Tianxiongs match. She thought: "I hope he is only pretending, deliberately fooling the old blind man and in reality he is not so weak!" However Zhuo Tianxiong's martial arts was much better than Yuan Guannans. Initially, Zhuo Tianxiong saw him with a brush and ink stone as weapons, he thought Yuan was so sure of himself because his skill was amazing, so he was cautious and prudent, not daring to make a powerful attack, waiting to test his opponents abilities. Seeing that Yuans moves, although fast, were after all revealing lack of expertise, and his brush stances were just ordinary, Zhuo Tianxiong used immediately his iron stick to perform with great proficiency " Huyan's 18 whips".
    Yuan Guannan did not expect to find such a formidable opponent; having no weapon in his hands, he was immediately in straitened circumstances. Repeatedly finding himself in great danger, he could not help but to cry secretly: "I have made a great mistake in belittling this fake blind man, who would have thought that he was actually expert pugilist?" Right away to avoid being smashed by the iron stick, he hurriedly withdrew his shoulder and dodged. Zhuo Tianxiong cried: "Lie down!" Iron stick hit Yuan Guannans left leg. Xiao Zhonghuis heart jumped and she exclaimed: "Ah yo!" Yuan Guannan made an effort to support himself, he had to withdraw three steps but did not fall.
    Being aware, that his situation was extremely dangerous, with his leg wounded, he wanted to retreat and leave, but was unable to do so. In desperation he exclaimed: "Well! This young person was kind to his elder, he did not want to use this Rotten bone penetrates the heart. Since you are rude, I am forced to ask you to taste the savor of it." While talking he took a brush dipped in ink and raised it to smear Zhuo Tianxiongs face. When Zhuo Tianxiong heard the words "Rotten bone penetrates the heart", surprised, he exclaimed: "Stop! Who is nun Five Poison Sage to you?"
    In fact, nun Five Poison Sage, residing in Guizhou province, where she had Anxiang stronghold, was famous demoness, people in martial arts society were afraid of her name, she was expert in using poisons. "Rotten bone penetrates the heart" was the most famous of her poisons; it was said that if the skin was slightly moistened with it, 12 hours later the flesh would rot and the bone would appear, 24 hour later poisoned blood would attack the heart, and there was no medicine under heaven that could cure it. Yuan Guannan had heard people talk about it a few years ago, but at that time he had taken no notice. Now, pressed by Zhuo Tianxiong, he spoke thoughtlessly, what came to his mind. Immediately his complexion changed and he felt secretly satisfied when he said: "Nun Five Poison Sage is my aunt, why do you ask about her?" Zhuo Tianxiong, sceptical, replied: "That being the case, I do not want to make life difficult for you, quickly go away." Yuan Guannan sneered: "You hit me with a stick, can I leave it like this?"

    [1]physically very weak

    [2]the term used here is xiucai- a person who has passed the county level imperial exam

    While talking he took two steps. Zhuo Tianxiong looked at the ink stone in his left hand, as if he was seeing snakes and scorpions, and thought: "Ink brushes and ink stones cannot be used as weapons, there is something odd in our fighting in this way." Seeing him coming forward, he could not restrain himself from retreating a few steps. In fact, Yuan Guannan, relying on his good martial arts, frequently gained victory without a fight, holding writing brush and ink stone, it was only his intellect which he was using at leisure. That day he met a person as difficult to handle as Zhuo Tianxiong, he was inwardly complaining and scolding himself.
    Yuan Guannan again approached a few steps, saying: "My aunt is not a martial arts expert, she only prepares some poisons, why you are scared so much?" Seeing that Zhuo Tianxiong hesitatingly took another step back, he suddenly turned around and moved to the left; deceiving his adversary he suddenly arrived near Zhou Weixin and directed his writing brush towards his eyes to smear them. Zhou Weixin, greatly astonished, raised his arm to screen himself and Yuan Guannans elbow collided with Zhous arm. Yuan was holding the ink stone in his right hand and stretching his left hand. In a flash he grabbed Twin Sabres.
    Zhuo Tianxiong was shocked, thinking: The Emperor ordered me to escort the sabres to Beijing, to allow this boy to take them away, wouldnt it be a great offence? Even though offending nun Five Poison Sage also was disastrous, he immediately rushed and jumped, his right hand hit Yuan Guannans shoulder, the fingers of his left hand turned into a claw snatched the Twin Sabres.
    Yuan Guannan, after having defended himself for a long time, knew that if he was obstinate to fight and take the sabres away forcibly, he would certainly be defeated, so he lifted the writing brush, directed it at Zhuos left hand, and then he burst into loud laughter. Zhuo Tianxiong suddenly felt a cool sensation on his arm and surprised noticed thick black marks on it. He had previously heard people say, that if nun Five Poison Sage harmed somebody in that way, they died the tragic death. When this thought flashed through his mind, his whole body trembled. Although his five fingers already touched the sheath of the Twin Sabres, he didnt take it; every second more and more panicked, finally he gave a loud cry and dashed out of the forest. Zhou Weixin, seeing his martial uncle fleeing like this, was unwilling to stay behind and rushed straight ahead, following Zhuo Tianxiong.
    Yuan Guannan shouted: "Shame!" Afraid that Zhuo Tianxiong might perceive the truth, and might come back, he did not dare to stay another moment in the forest, so he picked up Twin Sabres and turned around to go away. Lin Yulong shouted: "Hey, young scholar, why dont you unblock our acupoints?" Yuan Guannan replied: "After six hours they will open themselves." Xiao Zhonghui, extremely anxious, exclaimed: "After waiting six hours, one would be dead." Yuan Guannan laughed: "Do not be impatient, you wont die!" Xiao Zhonghui, annoyed, answered: "Very well, bad scholar! Next time the situation will be reversed and you will be in my power."
    Yuan Guannan recalled that when Zhuo Tianxiongs stick was about to hit him, the girl spoke to prevent it and this thought moved his conscience, but these three people apparently also came here because of Twin Sabres; if he unlocked their acupuncture points, they would cause problems. He muttered to himself irresolutely, then picked up two pebbles from the ground, waved his right hand and the pebbles flew out. They hit Lins and Rens acupuncture points, and although he was separated from them by several zhangs, both pebbles stroke home with perfect accuracy.
    Lins and Rens hearts were filled with rage, once their acupuncture points were opened, each of them raised the remaining half of his sword and immediately "ping, ping, pang, pang" was heard as the fight began. Yuan Guannan threw a pebble at Xiao Zhonghuis waist, at "Jing Men[1]" acupoint. Xiao Zhonghui uttered "Ah" and fell down from the horse. She was lying on the ground, with her eyes closed, not moving. Yuan Guannan was surprised; he said to himself; "Since the pebble hit the correct acupuncture point, how can she possibly be injured?" He hurriedly approached her, bend over to look at her, only to see her complexion was strange; it seemed she was not breathing. Seeing this Yuan Guannan was alarmed, he held out a hand to examine her breathing. Xiao Zhonghui suddenly shouted, jumped up and grabbed from his hand the shorter of Twin Sabres. Yuan Guannan had been caught off guard, frightened he shouted "Ah" while she was already holding the sabre. Xiao Zhonghui was aware that his martial arts skill surpassed hers, having succeed with her sneak attack, she did not dare to try snatching the longer of Twin Sabres, but giggled and turned to escape.
    Lin Yulong exclaimed: "Ah, Twin Sabres!" Ren Feiyan picked up the child from the ground and shouted: "Quickly, chase after her!" They both pursued Xiao Zhonghui. Yuan Guannan cursed: "Very well girl, you bite the hand that feeds you!" Anger rose inside him and he chased after her as well, but his left leg was hit by Zhuo Tianxiongs stick and the injury was serious, only five percent of his lightness skill was left. Xiao, Lin and Ren were speeding northwest, in direction of barren mountains. He could not catch up with Xiao Zhonghui, but he wanted to get hold of Twin Sabres, and could not allow her to escape with one of it, therefore even with aching leg, he did not give up chasing.
    After 20 lis, the terrain was more desolate, he ran on a high hill, looked around and saw that in northwest, 45 lis away, covered by the trees, shone yellow wall; it seemed to be a small temple. Thinking that these 3 people couldt hide elsewhere and finding it likely that they were in the temple, he broke off a tree brunch and used is as a crutch; supporting himself on it he moved quickly forward.
    Entering the temple he observed a plaque inscribed with the words "Black Bamboo Monastery"; it was a Buddhist nunnery. Yuan Guannan saw that in the prayer hall stood an old nun with clean clothes and shoes, and benevolent look. Yuan Guannan greeted her by raising clasped hands, and said: "Abbess, please tell me, have a girl in blue gown come to your esteemed monastery?" The nun replied: "This small nunnery is located in a deserted place, no alms-giver arrived."
    Yuan Guannan did not believe: "Abbess does not have to conceal it ... " He has not yet finished speaking, when a call and the sound "du, du, du" was heard outside, it was iron stick hitting the ground. Zhuo Tianxiong arrived. Yuan Guannan startled begged the nun: "Abbess, I ask you to do a good deed. An enemy is looking for me, dont say that I am here." Not waiting for her reply he ran into backyard courtyard and noticed a tiny shrine on the east side, he went in and saw a statue of Guanyin [2] dressed in white. Having no time to ponder, he uncovered the heavy curtain and hid behind the statue.
    How was he to know that there was already someone hiding behind the statue? Xiao Zhonghui glanced at Yuan Guannan and said: "Well, since you have the ability to find me here, take the sabre!" She was about to hand over the short sabre, when a man behind her said: "Dont give it to him, we will fight, the three of us can beat him" Actually Lin and Ren with their baby were also hiding here. Yuan Guannan considered saving his life as the most important at that moment, it was not the time to seize the sabre, so he whispered: "Be silent, the old blind man is coming!" Xiao Zhonghui alarmed, said: "Is he not poisoned with your poison?" Yuan Guannan smiled: "The poison is false."
    Xiao Zhonghui was going to speak again, when she heard Zhuo Tianxiongs coarse voice ask: "There is no one around, if he is not here, then where?" The old nun replied: "Alms-giver should try once again to find him outside, probably he has already passed by the nunnery." Zhuo Tianxiong said: "Good! My men are lying in ambush all around, this boy cannot escape. If I dont find him, I will come back to settle accounts with you; be careful or I will burn down this stinky nunnery."
    When Lin Yulong and Ren Feiyan heard it, anger rose in their chests, they wanted to answer with sarcastic repartee, but before they even opened their mouths Yuan Guannan and Xiao Zhonghui both simultaneously moved their fingers and blocked their acupuncture points. Zhuo Tianxiong went into the backyard, stayed there for a moment leaning on his iron stick, looked around, muttered some curses, then turned around and left the nunnery.
    When Zhuo Tianxiongs back of the hand was smeared with black ink, his heart trembling with fear, he hurried a stream to wash it. The ink stains were washed out without leaving the slightest trace. Not feeling relieved, he was scrubbing hard this spot, finally his skin was injured and he felt growing pain. He was surprised to see, that after some time nothing unusual happened to him, therefore he went back to find the young scholar. Although using his lightness skill he was moving as fast as if he was flying, but such a delay gave enough time for Yuan Guannan to hide in "Black Bamboo Monastery".
    Yuan Guannan and Xiao Zhonghui waited until he was far away, then they unblocked Lins and Rens acupuncture points and came out from behind the statue of Guanyin. Thinking about Zhuo Tianxiongs words 4 people frowned; considering his amazing lightness skill, after searching the area of several tens of lis and not finding a trace, he would certainly go back. There were no dwellings around, no place to hide, they were unable to defeat him, escape was also impossible, was there nothing left for them but to wait for death?
    Yuan and Xiao were both silent, trying to think something off. Lin Yulong cursed: "Stinky old woman, its your fault, if you practiced the "Couple's Saber", we could use it now and there would be no need to fear that old blind man!" Ren Feiyan: "Using the "Couple's Saber" wont do, in the end whose fault it is, your or mine? That old buddhist monk plainly wanted you to train with me, how can I make progress training alone? Both of them were again quarrelling violently.
    Yuan Guannan, hearing them quarrel about "Couple's Saber" technique, said: "The four of us, your child and the old nun, we are now facing imminent catastrophe; when the old blind man comes back, we will all die. What are you two still arguing about? In the end, how could the "Couple's Saber" save us?" Lin and Ren again made so much noise, that only half of what they said was comprehensible.
    As it happened, three years before, Lin and Ren, who were just married, and were in the middle of one of their quarrels, met an elderly monk. He passed on to them two sets of sword technique. The technique passed on to Lin Yulong and the technique passed on to Ren Feiyan were totally different, and they required two people to work together to combat an enemy. These techniques were yin and yang, perfect match, one advancing, another retreating, one attacking, another defending. The old monk said: "If you walk side by side in Jianghu with this sword technique, no matter how strong your opponent might be, he would not be able to defeat you. However, if a single person uses this technique, its useless." He was afraid that the couples quarrels will finally cause the breaking up, so he wanted them to practice this strange technique together. This technique was originally created in the ancient times by a loving couple. They were inseparable, and their two hearts were beating as one. They desired to utilise the potential of their swords and protect each other. Lin and Ren were both hot-tempered and although each of them learned his technique, but when they had to cooperate, they were always lacking harmony; after three or four strokes, they were both defending or both attacking.
    When Yuan Guannan finished listening to them, struck by an idea, he said to Xiao Zhonghui: "Miss, if I was to act according to propriety, I should not mention it, however our situation is critical, everyone fears for their lives..." Xiao Zhonghui interrupted him: "I know, you want me to learn with you that Couple's... Couple's..." She blushed. Yuan Guannan replied: "Ah, this insignificant person had no intention to offend you, really is... really is..." Xiao Zhonghui said nothing more to him, she directed herself to Ren Feiyan: "Elder sister, please, give me directions, if he and I ... learn it, we might resist the old blind man and save everyones lives."
    Ren Feiyan answered: "This technique is very difficult, it cant be learned in one day." Xiao Zhonghui replied: "I will learn as much as I can, its much better than to stay here purposelessly and wait for death." Ren Feiyan said: "Fine, I will teach you."
    Lin and Ren individually explained their respective technique and were performing stances one by one. Yuan and Xiao were watching, diligently memorizing. Although their martial arts werent weak, but this technique was very complicated, and sometimes really difficult to remember. Lin and Ren taught them several stances and were so busy, that they hardly ever opened their mouths. They were only at the 12th stance, when a voice outside shouted: "Deceitful boy, where have you been hiding?" Zhuo Tianxiong, armed with his iron stick, broke into the monastery.

    [1] On the lateral side of the waist, at the free end of the twelfth rib
    [2] The Bodhisattva of Compassion

    Lin Yulong, seeing him coming again, did not panic, on the contrary he was angry. He shouted: "We havent finished teaching the sword technique yet, couldnt you wait a moment until we are done?" He lifted the sword and directed it towards him. Zhuo Tianxiong blocked the blow with his iron stick, while Ren Feiyan also joined in the fight, attacking from the right side.
    Lin Yulong shouted: "Couple's Saber!" He wanted to show up before Yuan and Xiao, he cut with the long sword and scratched Zhuo Tianxiongs waist. At this moment Ren Feiyan should leisurely wield her sabre, protecting her husband, but she was very anxious to win and instead of performing the first stance of Couple's Saber, she performed the second one, making a vigorous attack. In the consequence, they both were attacking, but no one defending. Zhuo Tianxiong saw the flaw in his opponents movements, with his iron stick he made a move called "Stealing the sky and putting up a sham sun" [1] to hold back two swords; at the same time he extended his left hand finger underneath the iron stick , tut, tut sound was heard, Lins and Rens acupuncture points were once again locked. If they were not performing Couple's Saber, they could still fight for some time, but in this technique cooperation was essential; because they were unable to coordinate their moves, after one stance they were already defeated.
    Lin Yulong was furious and scolded: "Stinky old woman, this was the first stance. You should have leisurely wielded your sabre, protecting my lover body." Ren Feiyan retorted angrily: "Why didnt you follow me when I made the second stance? Why do I have to follow you and not you follow me?" The two were arguing again, cursing in rage endlessly.
    Yuan Guannan, seeing how unlucky the day turned out to be, whispered: "Miss Xiao, please escape, Ill detain him."
    Xiao Zhonghui did not expect him to have so noble heart, she stared blankly for a moment, then felt a heat in her chest as she replied: "No, we will fight him together." Yuan Guannan urged her: "Listen to my words, quickly ran! If I escape with my life today, we will meet again." Xiao Zhonghui said: "That won't do, ah ..." She did not finish, because Zhuo Tianxiong had already rushed at them waving his iron stick.
    Yuan Guannan made a thrust with his sword. Xiao Zhonghui saw that with this move he exposed his left arm, therefore, not waiting for Zhuo Tianxiongs attack, she brandished a sword and protected his shoulder. They did not practice before, but because one person just now advanced to attack, the other person stayed behind his partner; they both followed their righteous hearts and when facing the enemy they automatically protected each other. Lin Yulong seeing their brilliant performance, exclaimed: "Good, A wife's beauty and a husband's talent are worth more than ten thousand hus [2] of pearls the first stance of Couple's Saber, performed wonderful!"
    Yuan and Xiao both had a red face; they did not expect, that in a moment of desperation they would both so easily resort to a move of the newly-learned technique, unexpectedly forming a perfect match. Zhuo Tianxiong was about to smash his iron stick, Ren Feiyan cried: "The second stance, Heaven wants exceptional talents to become a couple!" According to her words, Xiao Zhonghui attacked, Yuan Guannan made a horizontal stroke to defend. Zhuo Tianxiongs momentum could not be used to attack but to guard, he was obliged to retreat one step.
    Lin Yulong cried: "The third stance, The girdle ornament is swaying in the cool breeze, while she is descending from the jade terrace!" Yuans and Xiaos swords were flying, creating wind. Ren Feiyan said: "The moon shines into the Golden House!" Yuan and Xiao smiled looking at each other, their swords were shining like the moon, illuminating seductive and loveable faces. Zhuo Tianxiong was forced to step back further.
    Lin and Ren continued to name further stances: "Love bonds are delicate like a silk fabric but strong like a big tree", "Matchless hero and outstanding husband", "Retreat to bridal chamber illuminated by wedding candles", "Two phoenixes sing within the jade green bamboo flute", "Ladys face resembles piece of jade". Lin Yulong exclaimed: "One moment of beautiful nights celebration is worth thousand jins of gold." Ren Feiyan shouted: "In the human world take possession of a part of heavenly happiness." They continued until they reached the 12 stance of Couple's Saber, there were 60 more stances, but Yuan and Xiao had not learned them.
    Yuan Guannan cried: "Lets start from the beginning again!" He repeated the first stance, "A wife's beauty and a husband's talent are worth more than ten thousand hus of pearls." The two repeated the same stances, but Zhuo Tianxiong was already fighting in a confused manner, finding it difficult to ward off. Starting all over again this time, Yuan and Xiao secretly communicated without uttering a word. On observing that every stance of this Couple's Saber technique had a charming and gentle name and that Twin Sabres corresponded very well with this technique, they were scared and delighted at the same time, and fought even faster. They arrived at the ninth stance "Two phoenixes sing within the jade green bamboo flute", their swords seemed to be a dancing phoenix and gliding luan[3], moving and turning with great speed. Zhuo Tianxiong was unable to ward this off. "Ah", a sword hit his shoulder and blood gushed from the wound. He was aware of the fact, that he was facing powerful opponents, and if he continued to fight he would end this old life of his inside the Buddhist nunnery, so leaving his iron stick behind, he jumped on the wall and escaped.
    Sincere feeling were secretly born in hearts of Yuan and Xiao, now they were standing opposite each other wondering what to say. They heard Lin Yulong exclaiming: "Wonderful, wonderful! A wife's beauty and a husband's talent are worth more than ten thousand hus of pearls!"
    In fact, he praised their own Couple's Saber technique, but Xiao Zhonghui felt bashful and blushed deeply. She bowed her head and rushed out of the nunnery, going far away. Yuan Guannan chased after her, but only saw Xiao Zhonghuis figure passing in a flash a row of willow trees and then disappearing. He heard someone calling behind him: "Master!" Yuan Guannan turned around, and saw his pageboy smiling happily and showing a baby sleeping in the basket with books; this was Lins and Rens son. A large area of the basket was wet, now "there was babys urine in the books".


    [1]This is an idiom used to describe a smart and audacious tactics that fools all the people. It originates from the book Revealing Original State of Officialdom by Li Baojia.
    [2]Hu= 50 liters.
    [3]Mythical bird similar to phoenix. They are supposed to sing and dance together in paradisiacal locations. Luan is associated with masculine values, phoenix with feminine.

  9. #9
    Senior Member littleli's Avatar
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    May 2006

    Default Chapter 5 ( last )

    The tenth day of the third month was the day of Jinyang’s hero Xiao Banhe’s 50 birthday. Guests filled the Xiao mansion, a multitude of heroes came to congratulate him. Xiao Banhe, dressed in long gown and magua[1], was receiving every guest in the hall. He greeted chivalrous gentlemen and great people of the underworld, seniors and juniors... and a lot of others, whose origins were unknown to Xiao Banhe, but who were admiring his reputation and came to Jinyang to congratulate him.
    In the rear hall, Ms. Yuan, Ms. Yang and Xiao Zhonghui also were jubilating. They were elegantly dressed in new gowns. Both ladies were occupied with all kinds of birthday presents, that were continuously delivered. Xiao Zhonghui was facing the mirror, which reflected a flower hairpin on her head; noticing it she blushed suddenly, and said in a low voice: "The girdle ornament is swaying in the cool breeze, while she is descending from the jade terrace, moon shines into the Golden House."
    Ms. Yuan and Ms. Yang looked at each other, thinking: "Since this girl came home after seizing one of the Twin Sabres, she is sometimes happy, then after a minute she is worried; something is weighting upon her heart. She turned 18[2]that year, certainly she met outside some young playboy of rich family, for whom she has tender feelings". Ms. Yang looked at her flower hairpin, which was not as good as the old one, and suddenly discovering that the previously worn piece of jewellery was missing, asked: "Hui, dear, where is this golden hairpin your Aunt gave you?" Zhonghui giggled: "I offered it to someone." Ms. Yuan and Ms. Yang again looked at each other, thinking: "Just as we expected, this girl even gave her possession to a stranger”. Ms. Yang asked: "Whom did you give it?" Zhonghui laughed and she looked like a flowering branch trembling in the wind. She said: "He ... he? Most likely he will come today to offer Daddy birthday felicitations, these people are famous, extremely important."
    Ms. Yang wanted to ask again, but a servant called Mother Zhang came in, holding with both hands a wrought case, and observed: "This birthday present is really strange, how can someone deliver only a golden hairpin to Master?" Ms. Yuan and Ms. Yang simultaneously walked nearer, they saw a box containing an object on which a pearl was brightly glittering; it was precisely Zhonghui’s hairpin. Ms. Yang turned her head and saw that her daughter’s face looked happy and she was smiling very pleased. Ms. Yang hurriedly asked: "Who gave this gift?" Mother Zhang said: "He is in the hall, speaking to Master."
    Ms. Yuan and Ms. Yang, both impatient to see this person, with whom their daughter was so much infatuated, nodded their heads and walked to the screen placed at the back of the hall, only to see a man stammeringly saying: "This insignificant person called Gai Yiming, nicknamed Toad Chaser - Purposeful Competitor - Unmarked by the Avalanche - Flying over Water on One Foot - the Unparalleled Twin Splints in Seven Provinces together with his three elder brothers came today to old hero Xiao to congratulate him on his birthday." Two ladies staying quietly behind the screen, saw the thin, short man, beside whom sat three weird people. Xiao Banhe stroking his beard smiled and said: "Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain, you honour me with your presence. You also gave the old man a precious gift, golden hairpin. I am really not worthy of such a valuable present." Gai Yiming replied: "You're too kind, you're too kind!"
    Ms. Yuan and Ms. Yang were full of wonder, could their daughter have a preference for this man, who was actually a dwarf? Both were experienced and knowledgeable, they knew that you can't judge a book by its cover. According to the man's nickname, which was said very loudly, his martial arts should be good, and the title of hero suggested that his character also must be irreproachable.
    Among the sound of music, three people came in, joined hands and bowed to Xiao Banhe. A handsome scholar said with a clear voice: "Juniors Lin Yulong, Ren Feiyan and Yuan Guannan congratulate senior Xiao. May his good fortune be as immense as the East sea, and his longevity as high as Mount Nan![3]Senior Xiao, please kindly accept my meager gift."
    While speaking he offered a long box and opened its lid. Xiao Banhe thanked, took a look, could not help but to stare blankly and finally blurted out the words: "Twin Sabres!"

    [1]Buttoned mandarin jacket of the Qing dynasty.
    [2]Actually in the text it is 20, but later it will be said more than once, that she was 18.
    [3]Conventional birthday greeting.

    In back garden of Xiao mansion, Lin Yulong was teaching Yuan Guannan, and Ren Feiyan was teaching Xiao Zhonghui. It took most of the day, as Lin and Ren wanted to teach the remaining 60 stances of Couple's Saber technique, passing to Xiao Zhonghui and Yuan Guannan everything they had learned themselves. Guannan and Zhonghui were diligent and had a good memory, but at this time they were wholly absorbed with another thing, because Xiao Banhe, after receiving the sabre asked about the earlier events, and after a discussion with his both wives, betroth his daughter immediately to Yuan Guannan, to add more joy to his birthday celebrations.

    Two people were extremely happy, but it seemed they were not aware of this sword technique’s formidable power, and also were not in the mood to study martial arts at that moment. Moreover, to study martial art together was not consistent with worldly etiquette, unmarried people should avoid doing anything that may arouse suspicion, should not even meet.

    "The sword reflecting light resembles a peacock spreading its tail, love bonds are delicate like a silk fabric but strong like a big tree... Two phoenixes sing within the jade green bamboo flute, lady’s face resembles piece of jade..."

    When Lin Yulong’s and Ren Feiyan’s teaching was over, they permitted the unmarried couple to practice the sword on their own. This husband and wife actually received a couple of disciples, in their hearts they were delighted.

    Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain from the beginning were standing at the side to see them practice. Xiaoyaozi and Gai Yiming were continuously gesticulating, repeating that there were flaws in this stance, there was a weak point in that stance. Lin Yulong was enraged, he wiped the sweat from his forehead and said: "Brother Gai, we, husband and wife, give this sword technique as a wedding gift to brother Yuan. What gift are you, Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain, giving, ah?" When Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain heard this remark, their hearts trembled and for a moment they were unable to find the words to answer. Speaking about gifts was really the thing they wanted to avoid.

    Ren Feiyan, intending to joke, said: "Over there, in dirty mud of the river, live Green-blooded Golden Toads. People in martial art world know that taking one dose of its blood can make up for 10 years of training, but it's extremely difficult to catch it. Brother Gai is known as Toad Chaser -- Flying over Water on One Foot, why not catch a few and give them to the newly-weds, would it not be a precious gift?" Gai Yiming rejoicing, said: "Really?"

    Lin Yulong replied: "How can we deceive each other? Only it is a pity, that our lightness skill is not good, we can’t pass through the water, nor do we dare to go into the water to catch the toad." Gai Yiming said: "Lightness skill, that enables to walk on the water, really requires an expert. Eldest Brother, Second Brother, Third Brother, let’s go at once!". Ren Feiyan laughed: "Ha, ha, Brother Gai, it seems that you are amateurs. That Green-blooded Golden Toad have to be caught at midnight, just when it comes out from its hole to absorb moonlight essence. In broad daylight how can you catch it?" Gai Yiming said: "Yes, yes. I know this, I only temporarily forgot about it. If it could be easily caught during the day, what would be there to be cherished?"

    The hall was illuminated with high, red candles, in the middle of the wall was hanging a large golden "Shou[1]" character. When the guests had finished offering birthday felicitations, Xiao Banhe, stroking his long beard and smiling, announced a good news: his only beloved daughter, Xiao Zhonghui, was going to marry that night young hero Yuan Guannan. He invited all present friends to drink a cup of birthday wine, and then a cup of wedding wine.

    Among the cheers of guests and friends, Yuan Guannan knelt on the red rug, to pay respects to his father-in law and mothers-in-law. Xiao Banhe, smiling happily, took out an agarwood fan and presented it as a welcome gift. Yuan Guannan thanked him and received the fan. Ms. Yuan, also smiling happily, took out a jade ring. Yuan Guannan thanked her and hold out a hand to receive it...

    Suddenly a clang was heard as the jade ring fell to the ground. Yuan Guannan’s face became pale and he gazed at Ms. Yuan's right hand. There was an additional finger next to Ms. Yuan’s right hand’s little finger. He grabbed Ms. Yuan's left hand and saw that there also was an additional finger next to her little finger.

    Yuan Guannan trembling said: "Mother-in-law... mother-in-law, do you... do you know... this person?" While talking, he put his hand to the back his neck, and took out a thin golden chain with jade lion hanging on it. Ms. Yuan, as if hit by lightning, seized the lion and exclaimed: "You ... you are Shiguan[2]?" Yuan Guannan said: "Mother, I am exactly the child, which you have missed so much!" They embraced each other and burst into tears.

    Everyone in the hall was silent. Looking at this meeting of mother and son, everybody was at once sad and happy, but in the first place: surprised. They heard Ms. Yuan cry: "Shiguan, Shiguan, over the last 16 years, where were you, ah? All the time, I was unable to stop thinking about you." Yuan Guannan answered: "Mother, I walked all the land under heaven, everywhere inquiring about your whereabouts. I was afraid... I was afraid that in this life, I will never see my mother again."

    Xiao Zhonghui hearing Yuan Guannan shout "mother" shook and almost fell, in her mind a voice was ringing: "So he is my brother, it turned out he is my older brother ... he is my older brother..."

    Lin Yulong whispered to his wife: "What? Master Yuan is Madam Xiao’s son? I’m confused." Ren Feiyan said: "Didn’t Master Yuan say that he was looking for his mother? He even thanked us for helping him in inquiring after her, and said that his mother had on every hand an additional finger next to her little finger. Haven’t Madam Xiao recognized him? "Lin Yulong scratching his head asked: "Why is his surname Yuan, while his father’s surname is Xiao?" Ren Feiyan said: "Fool, Master Yuan said, he was three years old when he lost his mother, three years old child doesn’t know his surname, he just picked a surname for himself at random." Lin Yulong observed: "So, Miss Xiao is his younger sister. How can brother and sister marry?" Ren Feiyan replied: "Since they are brother and sister, how can they get married? Aren’t you speaking nonsense?" Lin Yulong angrily replied: "Pooh! You are speaking nonsense."

    The two were arguing more and more loudly. Xiao Zhonghui could not bear it anymore, she cried: "Ah," and covering her face she rushed out.

    Xiao Zhonghui’s mind went blank, she only saw black drizzle before her, and felt that life is meaningless for her. She rushed out of the door and walked at quick pace, suddenly "bang", she hit someone with her shoulder. She cried: "Ah yo" and thought: "Not good! I’m a pugilist, I might have injured the man." Hastily she reached out a hand to help him up.

    Suddenly her wrist was caught, she felt pain in her left arm, it turned out that her blood vessels were pressed by this man. Surprised, she looked up, her right hand automatically went to strike. The man turned over her left palm, making it impossible for her to move it, and at the same time caught her right wrist’s blood vessels. At his moment she already saw it clearly, the man was Zhuo Tianxiong.

    Zhuo Tianxiong burst into loud laughter and cried: "Weixin, take the first one!" Zhou Weixin responded and untied a shorter Twin Sabre, hanging at Xiao Zhonghui’s waist.

    Zhuo Tianxiong said: "Xiao Banhe is famous in Jianghu, today is his 50 birthday, his mansion is full of martial arts experts. Weixin, do you have guts to pick the longer of the Twin Sabres?" Zhou Weixin replied: "Disciple now have uncle’s support, even if it was dragon’s pool or tiger’s cave, he would dare to go. There is a saying in Jianghu: "It’s easy to ride a horse on a wide road, it’s easy to find a shadow under big tree." Zhuo Tianxiong snorted and laughing observed: "Good for nothing, relying only on his martial uncle!"

    In his entire life he has been conceited, rarely coming across a worthy opponent, but after Yuan Guannan and Xiao Zhonghui defeated him using "Couple’s Saber", he could not help being discouraged. At this time, accidentally encountering Xiao Zhonghui, he thought to himself: "When this man and woman fight together, they are certainly powerful, but I've already captured one of them, only this boy Yuan Guannan is left, there is nothing to fear. Moreover, with Xiao Zhonghui in our hands, there is no reason to be afraid of Xiao mansion’s numerous staff, and Xiao Banhe will certainly obediently hand over that long Twin Sabre."

    Presently Zhuo Tianxiong detained Xiao Zhonghui in custody, assembled men given to him by the head magistrate of Yamen together with Zhou Weixin’s escorts and directed himself to Xiao mansion.

    When visiting card with words "Zhuo Tianxiong," was delivered, Xiao Banhe glanced at it fearfully and trembled, then ordered: "Quickly invite him in!" After a little while, Zhuo Tianxiong walked into the hall with spirited and vigorous step. When Xiao Banhe rushed to welcome him, with a glimpse of an eye he saw his daughter with her hands behind her back, and a big man pressing the short Twin Sabre against her heart.

    [1]Long life
    [2] “Guan” means “lion”. It’s different from “guan” in “Guannan” name, which means “head” or “crown”.

    Although Xiao Banhe was inwardly alarmed, he showed no sign of it and with a smiling face said: "May this lowly rustic man venture to ask, why respected imperial bodyguard toils his jade toes?"

    Zhuo Tianxiong have heard a long time ago about Xiao Banhe in the capital, but seeing his majestic figure, his cheeks covered with really formidable beard, he extended his right hand and said: "It’s swordsman’s Xiao birthday, your brother arrived late to congratulate you, I hope you would forgive me." Xiao Banhe smiled: "You're too kind, you're too kind." He hold out a hand and they shook hands.

    Both men used their internal energy, arms vibrated and they both felt pain in their bodies. This turned out to be a force contest between the two men. As it happened, they were equally powerful, none of them was loosing to the other, and they advanced together, hand in hand, into the hall.

    Both people were surprised, but especially Zhuo Tianxiong, who used "30 palms shaking heavens" and "Huyan's 18 whips" techniques. Only "Confused internal force" (called so, because its essence consists in increasing and decreasing internal heat) can match "30 palms shaking heavens" and Xiao Banhe was actually using this very technique, "Confused internal force". But "Confused internal force" can only be practiced by a boy, who knows nothing about male-female relations; immediately after marriage this ability disappears. Because one has to train so hard to obtain it, but can lose it very easily, therefore very few people in martial arts world were practicing this skill. Before he came to Xiao mansion, he inquired about Xiao Banhe and his wives; Xiao’s daughter already reached the maturity, how was he able to still retain this child’s "Confused internal force" martial skill, wasn’t it a biggest marvel of martial art world?

    Yuan Guannan, seeing Xiao Zhonghui controlled by others, was naturally greatly concerned. He quietly maneuvered in the crowd until he arrived to a place behind the escorts, where he wanted to wait for an opportunity to save her. But Zhuo Tianxiong’s eyesight was sharp, he saw everything and shouted: "Yuan, come near me!" And to Zhou Weixin he said: "If anyone starts a fight, immediately kill this girl with a sabre!" Zhou Weixin answered: "Yes. Jianghu has a saying: When the Strong meets the Strong and the Evil meets the Evil ... " Perceiving that this sentence was not very much to the purpose, he swallowed the rest of it, which was: "a fight ensues [1]". Yuan Guannan feared that these people really hurt Xiao Zhonghui, how would he venture to approach a single step?

    Zhuo Tianxiong said: "Swordsman Xiao, let me say this clearly and frankly. Your brother today visits your respected manor, on one hand to congratulate you on your birthday celebration, on the other hand because he wants to exchange one priceless treasure for another valuable treasure." Xiao Banhe answered: "This simple-minded lowly person fails to understand respected Zhuo’s meaning."

    Zhuo Tianxiong, with supercilious look, replied: "That priceless treasure, your precious daughter, and that precious long Twin Sabre. Your brother has no grievance nor hatred towards swordsman Xiao, he only wants to be able to deliver to the Emperor his commission and preserve this numerous brothers’ lives. He also hopes that swordsman Xiao would raise his noble hand and assist him to save brothers." While talking he cupped his hands in salute. In his words he tried to be humble, but his expression was extremely arrogant.

    Xiao Banhe hold out a hand towards a chair at his back, and pushed it, a clicking sound was heard and the chair immediately shattered into small pieces. He smiled and said: "Respected Zhuo is a renowned figure in martial arts world, how came he is so confused today? Twin Sabres are not in the hands of this insignificant person, neither is that young lady his daughter. How can a man who practice boy’s "Confused internal force", be able to bear and raise children?" While talking he flicked his sleeves, inciting a violent wind. Zhuo Tianxiong leaned the body to evade, inwardly observing: "Not at all false, this really is boy’s "Confused internal force"."

    After Xiao Zhonghui had heard that Yuan Guannan was her elder brother, her heart was already bleeding. Now, seeing that her father, not willing to exchange the Twin Sabre for her, in order to save her, is not recognizing her as his daughter, she could not help but exclaimed: "Daddy!"

    At this moment, a shout was heard outside: "You won’t run away from us, evil rebel Xiao Yi!" Among human shouts and horses’ neighing a big army troop arrived at Xiao mansion gate. Xiao mansion’s numerous servants flustered and exasperated rushed inside shouting: "Master ... not good! Many officers and men ... officers and men surrounded the gate of the mansion."

    When Zhuo Tianxiong heard the phrase: "You won’t run away from us, evil rebel Xiao Yi!", he finally saw the truth. He shouted: "Well, Xiao Banhe? So you are the evil rebel Xiao Yi, pursued for 16 years by the court!" Shadows of people moving near the gate appeared and four imperial bodyguards rushed in. Their leader shouted: "Eldest Brother Zhuo, this is evil rebel Xiao Yi, why don’t you capture him?"

    Xiao Banhe burst into loud laughter and said: "After 16 years of disguising myself, today I can show my real face of Xiao Yi." He touched his face with a hand; everybody who saw it, was frightened and surprised. The hall has been already in confusion, but now everyone gazed at Xiao Banhe in absolute silence. In the wink of an eye, Xiao Banhe was transformed into another person, he had had a thick beard, but now, with only a touch of the palm, it disappeared and his chin was perfectly smooth, without a single hair.

    [1]When two people of a similar kind are opposed, there is a struggle for supremacy.

    Twin Sabres used to perform "Couple’s Sabre" were really a force that could not be withstood, where the two hit, there were soldiers or escorts injured. Out of 72 stances of this technique, they did not use even half, but whenever they attacked the enemy already was running to the door and escaping.

    This technique had its particularity: wounding somebody was very easy, but killing was extremely difficult, and the wounded parts of the opponent’s body were not vital ones. Supposedly, that heroic couple which created this sword technique was benevolent and didn’t want to take people’s lives; thus although every single stance of this technique was extremely powerful, yet they all served only to keep the enemy off.

    After a short time, the only foe remaining was Zhuo Tianxiong, who was fighting obstinately. Yuan Guannan and Xiao Zhonghui suddenly turned to him, one attacking his left shoulder, one cutting towards his right leg. Zhuo Tianxiong took out a steel whip from his waist area and a crash sound was heard, as Xiao Zhonghui’s short sabre’s end was cut off. How marvellous was the stance "Love bonds are delicate like a silk fabric but strong like a big tree"! Yuan Guannan’s long knife cut Zhuo Tianxiong’s calf, the wound was so deep that the bone was visible, and immediately the blood flew.

    Zhuo Tianxiong calf injury was not light. Not daring to go on fighting, he directed his fist towards Xiao Zhonghui. When she inclined her body to dodge, he was already fleeing to the courtyard, and jumped on the roof. If Xiao and Yuan, acting harmoniously, made a move "Matchless hero and outstanding husband," Zhuo Tianxiong could be stopped, but the end of Xiao Zhonghui’s sword had already been broken, using this stance was irrelevant.

    Xiao Banhe saw that the hall was completely ruined. Fortunately, only seven or eight people at each side were injured and no one was killed. Immediately he loudly announced: "My good friends, although the soldiers temporarily withdrew, soon they will certainly come back again, this place is not safe. Let's quickly retreat to the Zhongtiao Mountain, and then decide what to do." Everyone agreed.

    After packing up the valuables, Xiao Banhe led his family out and put the fire in his mansion. The flames rose to the sky, causing chaos inside the city walls; everyone rushed to the East Gate and ran towards Zhongtiao Mountain.

    In a large cave hidden by the rocks, Xiao Banhe, Ms. Yuan, Ms. Yang, Yuan Guannan, Xiao Zhonghui, Lin Yulong with his wife and son, twenty disciples of Xiao, and 300 guests sat around a fire. On the fire roasted a yellow water deer and its delicious aroma filled everybody’s nose.

    Xiao Banhe coughed and held out a hand to stroke his beard. It has been his custom for 16 years; every time there was something important to say, he always stroked his beard. But this time his hand touched the emptiness, his chin was hairless. He smiled slightly and said: "Because of my friends’ esteem, I, Xiao Yi, am considered in the martial arts circles to be a top pugilist. But who would have imagined that I, Xiao Yi, was a palace eunuch?" Everyone was surprised to hear it and thought, that they had misheard, but Xiao Banhe’s face was serious, he was not joking. Ms. Yuan and Ms. Yang looked at each other and lowered their heads.

    Xiao Banhe continued: "Yes, I, Xiao Yi, was a palace eunuch. I was 16 years old when I entered the palace to wait upon the Emperor, for the purpose of assassinating Manchu Emperor to avenge my late father.

    My father was unable to co-exist with the Manchurian Qing dynasty and finally was miserably killed. My father's seven sworn brothers drank blood to make on oath, they vowed to take revenge for my late father, but Qings are powerful and none of my seven uncles could obtain this virtuous goal. They didn’t die while fighting Imperial Bodyguards, but were arrested and executed by death of a thousand cuts. Thus the hatred became even more profound.

    I pondered and trained diligently to achieve martial arts similar to that of my father and seven uncles. But even if I exhausted the time of my whole life I might not necessarily be able to obtain it, and even if I gained this proficiency in martial arts, I might not necessarily be able to revenge the ocean of blood, thereupon I resigned myself to castration, to be a humble, despised by all eunuch." On hearing this, everyone admired him for his painstaking efforts and sacrifices.

    Xiao Banhe continued: "But what restrictions are inside the palace, how strict security, I wasn’t able to imagine. Not to mention coming close to the Emperor, even seeing him from the side is not easy. More than ten years I lived in the palace, and although every day and every night I was waiting for an opportunity, it never occurred.

    One night, 16 years ago, I overheard two Imperial Bodyguards’ conversation. They said, that the Emperor was informed that there was a pair of Twin Sabres and the one who possessed them could be invincible. This pair of Sabres was divided, one was in hands of a hero surnamed Yuan and the other was in hands of a hero surnamed Yang. As a result, Emperor ordered to arrest the whole family of both Yuan and Yang, to coerce them to hand over precious swords, but two great heroes didn’t yield and died, whereas their wives were detained in prison."

    When his narration reached this point, tears rolled down from eyes of Ms. Yuan and Ms. Yang, suddenly they embraced each other and cried loudly.Yuan Guannan and Xiao Zhonghui looked at each other, their hearts were both happy and sad.[/FONT]

    Xiao Banhe added: "At that time I thought, that instead of seeking revenge for the dead, it is indeed better to save someones live, so I sneaked into prison, killed several guards, and rescued two ladies. Because both prisoners were females, the guard was not strict, and prison officials absolutely could not imagine that an eunuch can violate Emperors orders, so everything went smoothly. But enemy had great power, when we were fleeing in panic, Ms. Yuans son was lost.

    This matter troubled my mind for the rest of my life, who could have thought that Master Yuan has grown up and learned a superior martial arts; this really is an extremely happy thing. As for you Zhonghui, you are 18 this year, but when I first saw you, you were two years old. Your dads surname is Yang, he was the eldest of three famous Yang brothers from Hunan province.

    Yuan Guannan and Xiao Zhonghui (or rather Yang Zhonghui [1]), each hugging his own mother, felt great grief and indignation and desire to avenge their fathers. At the same time, when they thought of Xiao Banhes righteous spirit, both were endlessly grateful.

    Xiao Banhe then said: "When we escaped from Beijing, the Emperor naturally sent spies to find us and the vigilance was increased; we were to be hunted and arrested. In order to fool the eyes and ears of the Qing court, I started to wear a beard and wronged heroes Yuan and Yang by taking their wives as mine. Fortunately, old Xiao is an eunuch, so this interim step will not disgrace the Yuan and Yang name." Yuan Guannan and Xiao Zhonghui looked at each other with a smile, thinking: "Who said we are brother and sister, ah?"

    Xiao Banhe patted his thigh and continued: "Xiao is an eunuch and he admires great Ming eunuch Zheng [2] Hes expedition to a foreign land, to proclaim Chinas virtue and power. Therefore I changed my name into Banhe [3], meaning that I would like to be half as great a hero as Admiral Zheng. Hey, it was the old Xiao's wishful thinking.

    All these years, we did have peace and security. Then Twin Sabres reemerged and old Xiao wholeheartedly wanted to seize precious sabres to comfort the souls of the two heroes Yuan and Yang. I no longer cared to conceal my identity, and finally the Qing court discovered the truth, but now it doesnt matter. Twin Sabres are only two sabres. Hui, dear, that short sabre is of course false, otherwise how could it be broken? We could have handed it over to that traitor, Zhuo Tianxiong, but unfortunately we did not stop him."

    Then the aroma of roasted deer became more intense, and Ren Feiyan took out a sword and cut it into small pieces. Lin Yulong suddenly said to Yang Zhonghui: "Wasnt my theory correct? You said your father and mother never fought, and I said that a husband and wife that do not quarrel cannot really be a married couple. Your elder brother Lin had an incredible foresight and his words were justified, isnt it?"

    Ren Feiyan pierced with a sword a piece of deer meat, and using the sword to transport it to his mouth, shouted: "Eat deer meat, instead of talking rubbish!" Lin Yulong wanted to refute, but his mouth was full of meat, and he could not speak.

    [1] The name of Twin Sabres is pronounced Yuanyang Dao. Observe, that the main characters family names are actually Yuan and Yang, although the surnames of both people are pronounced in another tone and written with different signs than the name of the weapons.

    [2] Zheng He (1371-1433), famous early Ming dynasty admiral and explorer

    [3] Ban means half

    Finally, the last part.

    Everyone was amused, when suddenly, they heard a disciple, who was keeping the watch in the forest outside, shout: "Who is it?" Another person shouted: "Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain!"

    Yang Zhonghui laughed. Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain appeared all covered with mud, carrying a wooden stick with a large fishing net. Inside the net was a big black object, nobody knew what it was. Yang Zhonghui laughed: "Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain, what treasure do you carry, ah?"

    Gai Yiming immensely proud of himself announced: "Master Yuan, Miss Xiao, we, four brothers, went to that muddy river to catch a Green-blooded Golden Toad, which we wanted to offer you as a gift. We didn’t catch the Toad, but while we were there, we observed someone passing by. This person had an injured leg, he was groaning and supported himself on a stick while walking. We glanced at him. Hey, is it not Zhuo Tianxiong? We quietly came closer and suddenly entangled him in a fishing net; now we present him to you as a gift."

    Everybody was surprised and delighted. Yuan Guannan hold out a hand to Zhuo Tianxiong’s waist and extracted a short sabre; it was gloriously dazzling, not at all smeared with mud, naturally it was the true Twin Sabre.

    Ms. Yuan took both Twin Sabres, sighed and said: "The Manchu Emperor heard, that there was a big secret inside Twin Sabres and the one who knew this secret would be invincible. It really is true, but if he knew the secret, would he be able to act in accordance with it? Everyone, please see!"

    Everyone leaned close to see. They saw the word "Benevolent" engraved on the blade of one Twin Sabre and on the blade of the second one the word "Invincible". "The benevolent are invincible!" This is the big secret of being unequalled under heaven.


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