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Thread: The Deer and The Cauldron - Unabridged Thread

  1. #81
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 11 - Part 5

    "Yes," Wei Xiaobao replied. Hearing the tone of Xiao Junzhu's voice, which unexpectedly she regarded him as someone she could depend on, Wei Xiaobao could not help but feeling very proud of himself. He had already turned around to close the door when he thought something was not right; he pushed the door and went in again, bolted it from the inside, and then he jumped out the window and closed it behind him. In this way, other than Empress Dowager and the Emperor, no one in the Palace would dare to enter his room without permission.

    He only walked a dozen of steps when he felt a dull pain on the edge of his lower back; he thought, "That Old ***** Empress Dowager dealt me a vicious blow. If I continue living in the Palace, sooner or later laozi’s old life will be difficult to protect; I'd better slip away as soon as possible."

    He walked toward the torch light, which turned out to be several Imperial Bodyguards on patrol duty. As soon as they saw him, they rushed forward to greet him. Wei Xiaobao asked, "How many Imperial Bodyguard brothers in the Palace are injured?'

    "Reporting to Gong-gong," a man replied, "There are seven, eight men heavily injured, about fourteen, fifteen men lightly wounded."

    "Where do they have their injury treated?" Wei Xiaobao asked, "Take me there to look."

    The Imperial Bodyguards all said, "Gong-gong is concerned over Imperial Bodyguards brothers, not a single one among us does not feel grateful." And thus two of the Imperial Bodyguards led the way, taking Wei Xiaobao to the building where the Imperial Bodyguards stay when they were not on patrol duty.

    Twenty something Imperial Bodyguards lay down in the hall, four imperial physicians were busy attending to their injuries.

    Wei Xiaobao stepped forward to express his sympathy, continuously praised everybody, saying that in order to protect His Majesty, they all dashed on bravely with no thought of personal safety, valiantly fought and kill the enemy. He also inquire the injured names one by one. Immediately the Imperial Bodyguards' spirit was aroused, as if their wounds did not feel too painful anymore. Wei Xiaobao asked, "To which group do those rebel thieves belong to? Are they that servant Oboi's follower?"

    An Imperial Bodyguard replied, "They seem to be Han people. But I don't know if we manage to seize a living witness?"

    Wei Xiaobao inquired the details of the fighting between the Imperial Bodyguards and the assassins, while his eyes carefully watched the imperial physicians applying the medicine. Among the wounded Imperial Bodyguards, some received external cuts from sabers and spears, some received internal injury from fists and palms, some had their bones dislocated or broken. Wei Xiaobao said, "I'd better have some of those medicines by my side; if the Imperial Bodyguard brothers in the Palace are wounded while there's not enough time to summon the imperial physicians, I can give everybody good treatment first. Humph, those assassins are extremely vicious and wicked with enormous guts; since we cannot catch everybody in one net today, it's difficult to say that they won't come back."

    Several Imperial Bodyguards said, "Gui Gong-gong shows great empathy to Imperial Bodyguard brothers, indeed it is a thorough thought."

    Wei Xiaobao said, "A moment ago I was besieged by three assassins, I killed one, the other two fellows ran away. But my waist was also severely hit by the assassin's palm, at this time it is still sore." While in his heart he said, "The Old ***** came to assassinate laozi, isn't she an assassin? This time laozi did not lie."

    As soon as the four imperial physicians heard this, they left the Imperial Bodyguards immediately to attend to him. They untied his gown to examine him, and saw a large purplish black bruise on his lower back; busily they prepared the medicine for him, to be applied externally and taken orally.

    Wei Xiaobao asked the imperial physicians to wrap each kind of medicine into a large package, which he then tucked into his bosom, while also asking for directions on the usage of the medicine. He also took two pieces of splint to be applied to the injury. And then again he praised and expressed sympathy to everybody before leaving.

    His experience was limited, his words were a mess, and extremely inappropriate; during praising and expressing his sympathy, he used a lot of marketplace obscenities. Although the Imperial Bodyguards mostly came from imperial clan and noble families, but most of them were uncouth military people, who did not care much about 'his granny' or 'eighteen-generation ancestor'. Since they were injured by the assassins, they came to the realization that their skill was still inferior to the intruders. When they saw that His Majesty's favorite eunuch was also injured in the fight against the assassins, they were even more depressed. But then suddenly they received praises from Gui Gong-gong, which was equal to receiving His Majesty's imperial decree commending their effort. Even if he rained curses on them, they would have accepted it gladly, much less praises scattered with random words? Their hearts were in full bloom, while wishing that the wound in their bodies was several cun longer.

    Returning to his own room, Wei Xiaobao inclined his head and listened attentively outside the window first; after making sure that the room was quiet, he said in a low voice, "Xiao Junzhu, it's me, I'm back." He was afraid that if he rashly climbed over the window, the woman would chop him with a saber or stab him with a sword, then he may have to use the several packages of medicine in his pocket first.

    Xiao Junzhu happily said, "Um, I have been waiting for you for a long time." Wei Xiaobao crawled into the room, closed the window, lighted the candle, and raised the mosquito net. He saw the two maidens were lying side by side on the bed. When the woman's gaze met with his, she closed her eyes immediately. But Xiao Junzhu was looking at him with her bright and clear eyes, her gaze revealed gratitude.

    "Xiao Junzhu," Wei Xiaobao said, "Let me apply to medicine on you."

    "No," Xiao Junzhu replied, "Treat my Shijie first. Please give the medicine to me, I will apply it on her."

    "What do you mean 'you' and 'I'?" Wei Xiaobao said, "That's not how we call each other."

    Xiao Junzhu laughed vaguely, "What's your real name?" she asked, "I heard they call you Gui Gong-gong."

    "They call me Gui Gong-gong, but what should you call me?" Wei Xiaobao said.

    Xiao Junzhu closed her eyes slightly and said in a low voice, "In my heart ... in my heart I call you Good ... Good Gege, but if I keep calling you that with my mouth, this can't be ... can't be ... good."

    "Alright," Wei Xiaobao said, "Let's make a rule; when there are people around, I call you Xiao Junzhu, you call me Gui Dage. When nobody's around, I call you 'Good Meizi', you call me 'Good Gege'."

    Before Xiao Junzhu replied, the woman opened her eyes and said, "Xiao Junzhu, that's so sickeningly disgusting, he is taking advantage of you, don't listen to him."

    "Humph," Wei Xiaobao snorted, "Nobody asked you to call me, why do you have to meddle into other people's business? You want to call me Good Gege, I don't want to hear it."

    "What do you want her to call you, then?" Xiao Junzhu asked.

    "I only want her to call me 'Good Husband', 'Dear Husband'," Wei Xiaobao said.

    The woman blushed, a look of disdain appeared on her face; she said, "You want to be someone's husband? You need to be reincarnated."

    "Alright, alright," Xiao Junzhu said, "You two are not nemesis from the previous incarnation, why do you bicker as soon as you meet? Gui Dage, please give me the medicine."

    "I'll apply the medicine on you first," Wei Xiaobao said. Lifting up the quilt, he rolled Xiao Junzhu's pants up and disassembled the bench legs he used as splint earlier, and then he spread the medicine on the broken calf bone before tying it firmly with the new splint. Xiao Junzhu expressed her gratitude repeatedly, she sounded very sincere.

    "What is my wife's name?" Wei Xiaobao asked.

    Xiao Junzhu was startled. "Your wife?" she asked. Seeing Wei Xiaobao pouted toward the woman, she smiled and said, "You love to crack jokes; my Shijie is surnamed Fang, her given name ..."

    "Don't tell him!" the woman anxiously said.

    Hearing that her surname was Fang, Wei Xiaobao immediately recalled the Mu Palace's Four Great Generals, Liu Bai Fang Su; thereupon he said, "Her surname is Fang, of course I know. That 'Divine Physician Hermit' Su Gang and the 'Twin Tree of the Bai Clan' Bai Hansong and Bai Hanfeng are all my relatives."

    Hearing him mentioning the names of Su Gang and the Bai Brothers, both Xiao Junzhu and the woman was greatly amazed. "How ... how are they related to you?" Xiao Junzhu asked.

    "Liu Bai Fang Su, four great generals," Wei Xiaobao said, "Naturally we are related."

    Xiao Junzhu was even more surprised, "It's really hard to believe," she said.

    "Xiao Junzhu," the woman said, "Don't believe his nonsense. This boy is very bad, he is not my relative. Having a relative like him will only bring bad luck."

    Wei Xiaobao laughed heartily; he gave the medicine to Xiao Junzhu, and then leaned close to her ears and whispered, "Good Meizi, whisper her name to me."

    However, the two young girls were lying next to each other, although Wei Xiaobao was whispering, the woman heard it clearly. "Don't tell him," she said anxiously.

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, "It's alright if you don't want to tell me, then I must kiss your mouth. I will smell your fragrance on this side of your face first, then smell your fragrance on that side, and then I'll kiss your mouth. Tell me, you prefer to be kissed, or to tell me your name? My guess is you will definitely choose to be kissed." Under the candle light the woman look very beautiful, her clothing was thin, his nose smell a faint scent of the woman [alright, I know it is not original, but I think this is the best translation of 女儿体香] . His heart was very happy; he said, "You are indeed very fragrant, I can enjoy smelling you very much."

    The woman was unable to move, she was very angry to be sniffed by this mischievous kid's nostrils; fortunately he was a young boy, and listening to the Imperial Bodyguards a moment ago, she knew that he was a court eunuch, so he must be only fooling around by saying those naughty things, he would not possibly molest her for real, so there was no real reason for her to be frightened. However, seeing him pursing his lips to really kiss her, she busily said, "Alright, alright, tell my name to this little demon!"

    Xiao Junzhu laughed, and then said, "My Shijie is surnamed Fang, her given name is a single character, 'Yi' [harmony/joy], the 'yi' (怡 ) character with 'xin' ( 心 ) radical on the left and 'tai' (台 ) on the right."

    Wei Xiaobao simply did not know how to write the character ‘yi’, he just nodded his head and said, “Um, this name is not so bad, but cannot be considered very good either. Xiao Junzhu, what is your name?”

    “I am called Mu Jianping [or Mu Jianbing],” Xiao Junzhu replied, “Ping from ‘ping feng’ (standing screen) and not from ‘fu ping’ (duckweed).”

    Wei Xiaobao did not know the difference between those two ‘ping’ characters; he said, “This name is comparatively better, but still not a first-class name.”

    “Your name must be first class,” Fang Yi said, “I wonder how good is your respected surname and great given name?”

    Wei Xiaobao was startled, he mused, “I can’t tell them my real name, while there is nothing special about the name Xiao Guizi.” Thereupon he said, “My surname is Wu [I/my (old)], since I am an eunuch in the Palace, everybody call me Wu Laogong[1].”

    Fang Yi sneered and said, “Wu Laogong, Wu Laogong, this name is actually very …” Speaking to this point, she suddenly realized that she had fallen into his trick. “Pei!” she spat, “Talk nonsense!”

    Xiao Junzhu Mu Jianping said, “You lie again, I heard they called you Gui Gong-gong, you are not surnamed Wu.”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Men call me Gui Gong-gong, women call me Wu Laogong.”

    Fang Yi said, “I know your real name.”

    Wei Xiaobao was slightly startled. “How do you know?” he asked.

    “I know your surname is Hu ( 胡 ),” Fang Yi said, “And your given name is Shuo ( 说 ) character written eight different ways ( 八道 )[2].”

    Wei Xiaobao burst out in laughter; hearing Fang Yi, his breathing was back to normal. He said, “Good Meizi, apply the medicine on her, don’t let her die of pain. I, Wu Laogong, only have one wife, if this wife died, the second wife cannot live up to the first.”

    Mu Jianping said, “Shijie said you talk rubbish (see footnote 5), sure enough, she is right.” Releasing the mosquito net, she raised the quilt to apply medicine on Fang Yi. “Gui Dage,” she asked, “What should I do with the blood-stopping medicine you applied earlier?”

    “Has the blood stopped flowing?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

    “It has,” Mu Jianping replied. Actually, honey is very effective to stop bleeding, it has high viscosity, and will adhere well to the wound, hence unexpectedly her bleeding stopped. As for the lotus seed paste, bean paste and the other ingredients, although they were not medicine, but when applied to the wound, they could also stop the bleeding.

    Wei Xiaobao was delighted; he said, “The effectiveness of my miracle medicine surpasses Bodhisattva’s magic potion, do you believe it now? With those many pearls in it, when applied to her chest, after the wound is healed, her breast will be exceedingly good-looking, will have the ‘bashful flower obstructing the moon’ appearance. Too bad only my son will be able to see it.”

    “Pfft,” Mu Jianping stifled her laugh. “Your talk is really amusing,” she said, “Why is it only your son can …”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “When she nurses my son, naturally my son will be able to see.”

    “Pei!” Fang Yi spat. Mu Jianping just stared with her big round eyes; she did not understand why her Shijie would nurse his son.

    Wei Xiaobao said, “Gently wipe the blood stopping miracle medicine clean, then apply the cut wound medicine.”

    “Yes,” Mu Jianping complied.

    Right this moment, suddenly they heard someone outside the door calling out with a loud and clear voice, “Gui Gong-gong, are you asleep?”

    “I am,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “Who is it? Whatever it is, let’s talk about it tomorrow!”

    The man outside said, “Subordinate Officer Rui Dong.”

    Wei Xiaobao was shocked, “Ah!” he exclaimed, “It’s Deputy Chief Rui, I wonder … I wonder what’s the matter?”

    Rui Dong was the Deputy Chief of the Imperial Bodyguards. When he was chatting with the Imperial Bodyguards, he learned that everybody admired this Deputy Chief Rui’s profound martial art skill, which was second only to Dolong, the Chief of the Imperial Bodyguards; he was an extraordinary character among the Imperial Bodyguards. For the last few years he was frequently outside the Palace on official business, so Wei Xiaobao had never seen him.

    Rui Dong said, “Subordinate Officer has an urgent business I need to discuss with Gui Gong-gong. My apology for disturbing Gui Gong-gong’s peaceful slumber.”

    [1] From the dictionary: Laogong – 1. Husband (informal), 2. Eunuch.

    [2] Together, 胡说八道 means ‘nonsense/rubbish’.

  2. #82
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 11 - Part 6

    Wei Xiaobao mused, “What is he up to, coming here in the middle of the night? I’m sure he knew I am concealing an assassin in my room, so he came to search; what should I do? If I don’t open the door, he may break it down. These two young girls are injured, it’s too late to run away now. I will have to act according to the circumstance, I’ll trick him to go away.”

    Rui Dong continued, “This matter is of great responsibility, otherwise I would not dare to disturb Gong-gong’s dream.”

    “Alright, I’ll open the door,” Wei Xiaobao said. Turning toward the bed, he said in a low voice, “You must not make any noise.” He walked to the outer room, closed the door behind him, and braced himself to open the front door. He saw a tall and powerfully built man standing outside the door, the top of his own head was still shorter than the back of the man’s neck.

    Rui Dong cupped his fist and said, “Gong-gong, please forgive my disturbance.”

    “You are too kind! You are too kind!” Wei Xiaobao replied. He looked up to examine Rui Dong’s countenance, but saw neither smiling expression nor angry look, so he really could not read his intention. “What is the urgent matter, Deputy Chief Rui?” he asked; but he did not invite Rui Dong in.

    “Just now I received the Empress Dowager’s imperial order,” Rui Dong replied, “She said that assassins were breaking into the Palace tonight, committing treason and heresy. She ordered me to inquire clearly from Gui Gong-gong.”

    As soon as Wei Xiaobao heard ‘Empress Dowager’s imperial order’, four words, he knew the turn of events was not too encouraging. “That’s right!” he said, “I was just about to inquire clearly from you. A moment ago I paid my respect to His Majesty, His Majesty said, ‘This servant Rui Dong is very brazen, as soon as he returned to the Palace, humph, humph …’”

    Rui Dong was greatly shocked. “What else did His Majesty say?” he asked.

    Actually, Wei Xiaobao was talking nonsense to him to stall for time, while he thought about a way to escape. Seeing those few words had enticed him to take the bait, he said, “His Majesty instructed me to conduct investigation among the Imperial Bodyguards as soon as it is daybreak. He wanted to know who has prompted this servant Rui Dong to lure the assassins to enter the Palace? What is the plot behind it? Who else is involved in this conspiracy?”

    Rui Dong was even more shocked; with a trembling voice he said, “His … His Majesty said … said that I lured the assassins to enter the Palace? Which crafty villain has told His Majesty that nonsense? This … isn’t this an enormous injustice?”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “His Majesty instructed me to do the investigation quietly, he said, ‘If that servant Rui Dong heard the rumor, he is bound to come and kill you; you must be very careful.’ I said, ‘His Majesty, please be rest assured, even if that servant Rui Dong has courage as big as the sky, he will not dare to commit murder inside the Palace.’ His Majesty said, ‘Humph, that is not necessarily true. If this servant unexpectedly dared to lure the assassins into the Palace to harm me, what other business he did not dare to do?’”

    Rui Dong anxiously said, “You … you talk nonsense! I did not lure the assassins to enter the Palace, His Majesty … His Majesty will not recklessly accuse a good man. Tonight I have personally killed three assassins; a lot of Imperial Bodyguards brothers witnessed it. His Majesty can summon them to be questioned.” While speaking, the blue veins on his forehead suddenly appeared, his hands were clenched into fists.

    Wei Xiaobao thought, “I must scare him out of his wits first, so that he will be at a loss of what to do, then come daybreak, Laozi will flee from the Palace. But what should I do with that Xiao Junzhu and Fang Yi? Humph, like a clay Bodhisattva fording a river, laozi can’t guarantee my own safety; if I can escape alive, then we’ll talk. I don’t care if she is Xiao Junzhu or Lao Junzhu, Fang Yi or Yuan Yi[1]. Laozi won’t become fake eunuch anymore, won't become the Xiangzhu of the Green Wood Hall. I am taking that four hundred fifty thousand taels back to Yangzhou, to open Lovely Summer Courtyard, Lovely Autumn Courtyard and Lovely Winter Courtyard." He said, "So it wasn't you who lured the assassins into the Palace?"

    "Of course not," Rui Dong said, "The Empress Dowager said that it was you who led them into the Palace. Empress Dowager ordered me not to listen to your graceful words, flowery speech, to execute you with a palm strike."

    Wei Xiaobao said, "I am afraid the two of us have been framed by some crafty villains. Deputy Chief Rui, don't you worry, I am going to explain everything to His Majesty. As long as you really did not lure the assassin, although His Majesty is young, he is very wise, plus he trusts me completely, so this matter can be brought to light."

    "Alright," Rui Dong said, "Thank you very much! Now come with me to see the Empress Dowager."

    Wei Xiaobao said, "In the dead of the night, why would I see the Empress Dowager? It will be better to see His Majesty as soon as possible. I am afraid people are coming to arrest you on imperial orders by now. Deputy Chief Rui, let me tell you this: when the Imperial Bodyguards come to arrest you, you must not resist at all; if you do, it won't be easy to wash away the criminal charge against you."

    The muscle on Rui Dong's face trembled continuously; he angrily said, "Empress Dowager said that you like talking nonsense the most, and she was right. I did not commit any crime, why would I want to resist arrest? Come with me to see the Empress Dowager!"

    Wei Xiaobao leaned over and said in a low voice, "Look, those who want to arrest you are coming!" Rui Dong's countenance changed; he turned his head around to look. Wei Xiaobao turned around and bolted into the room.

    When Rui Dong saw there was nobody behind him, he knew he was being swindled. Quickly he ran after him into the room; he leaped and stretched out his hand to grab Wei Xiaobao's back.

    Actually, Wei Xiaobao's threat had frightened Rui Dong very much. If Wei Xiaobao insisted on seeing the Emperor, most likely Rui Dong would not dare to stop him with force. However, Wei Xiaobao had hidden two women in his room, one of them was definitely an assassin who entered the Palace to create trouble. Since the plot had already fallen through and stood exposed, plus the Empress Dowager had personally come to take his life, how could he dare to explain everything to the Emperor? As soon as Rui Dong fell into his trick by turning his head, Wei Xiaobao dashed into the room, hoping that he could escape via the window. He was thinking that the imperial garden was full of fake rocks and flowering shrubs, hiding in the dark of the night, perhaps he would not be too easy to be found. Unexpectedly Rui Dong was very quick; Wei Xiaobao had just reached the door, Rui Dong had caught up with him.

    As soon as Wei Xiaobao was inside the room, he jumped toward the window sill, and was about to jump out, Rui Dong sent out a palm strike toward Wei Xiaobao's back with a strong gust of wind. Wei Xiaobao’s legs buckled and turned soft, and he fell down. Rui Dong reached out with his left hand to grab Wei Xiaobao's waist. Wei Xiaobao unleashed the full potential of qinna technique he knew, parrying Rui Dong’s hand with both hands; but he was small, and his strength was feeble, his body swayed and ‘splash!’ he fell into a large water tub. The water tub was originally used by Hai Laogong to treat his injury. After Hai Laogong’s death, Wei Xiaobao had not ordered his men to take it out.

    Rui Dong laughed aloud and reached down into the tub, but he only grabbed empty space, because Wei Xiaobao had quickly curled his body up. Yet because the water tub was not too big, by the next grab Rui Dong managed to seize the back of Wei Xiaobao’s collar, and raised him up, still dripping wet.

    Wei Xiaobao opened his mouth and spurted water into Rui Dong’s eyes, while throwing himself forward to embrace Rui Dong’s chest, and snaked his left arm behind Rui Dong’s neck. Rui Dong let out a loud shout and shook his body several times, his hand holding the back of Wei Xiaobao’s collar gradually loosened. His face was full of water, but his eyes were open very wide, with a mixture of startled, frightened, and perplexed expression on his face. His throat made a gurgling noise, as if he wanted to speak but could not speak. There was a light stabbing noise, the tip of a dagger appeared on his chest and sliced down to his lower abdomen, cutting up a long gash along his torso.

    With eyes wide open Rui Dong looked at the dagger, he did not know where the dagger had come from. From his chest down to his abdomen blood was gushing out wildly, suddenly he fell backward. Until his death he still did not know how Wei Xiaobao had killed him.

    “Hey!” Wei Xiaobao exclaimed; he pulled the dagger with his left hand, while bringing out his right hand from his own long gown. What happened was that when he fell into the water tub, while curling up his body, he extracted the dagger and hid it inside his long gown facing outward. He spurted the water onto Rui Dong’s face that he could not open his eyes, and then Wei Xiaobao threw himself forward. As he embraced Rui Dong, the sharp dagger that can cut iron like slicing mud pierced Rui Dong’s chest. If they were in a real fight, ten Wei Xiaobaos were not Rui Dong’s match, but in the flurry of hasty and strange turn of events, this awe-inspiring, illustrious Deputy Chief Rui had fallen into Wei Xiaobao’s plot.

    How Wei Xiaobao and Rui Dong, two people, dashed into the room, how Wei Xiaobao fell into the water tub, Fang Yi and Mu Jianping were able to see everything clearly from behind the mosquito net; but as Rui Dong grabbed Wei Xiaobao out of the tub and was killed immediately, Fang and Mu, two women were unable to make head or tail of what trick Wei Xiaobao had used.

    Wei Xiaobao wanted to toot his own horn, he said, “I … I … this … this …” only to head his own voice sounded hoarse, unexpectedly he was unable to speak, but his narrow escape from the death just now had scared him out of his wits.

    “Thank Heaven and thank the Earth,” Mu Jianping said, “Unexpectedly you … have killed this Tatar.”

    “This Rui Dong’s nickname is ‘Unequalled Iron Palm’,” Fang Yi said, “Tonight he had killed three or our Mu Palace’s brothers. You have avenged us, very good, very good!”

    Wei Xiaobao calmed down and said, “He was the ‘Unequalled Iron Palm’, but he could not match me, Wei … Gui Gong-gong, Wu Laogong. I am a first-class martial art expert, naturally it’s not the same.” Stretching out his hand, he groped Rui Dong’s pocket, and took out a booklet full of small characters, and several other documents.

    Since Wei Xiaobao could not read, he casually set everything aside. Suddenly he felt some kind of solid object hidden behind Rui Dong’s lower back. Using his dagger he cut open Rui Dong’s gown, and found a package wrapped in cloth. “What kind of treasure is this?” he wondered, “Why did he hide it well like this?” Cutting the silk cord on the package, he opened the cloth wrapper and found a book. Surprisingly, the cover of the book had these five characters on it: ‘Forty-two Chapter Sutra’. The size of this sutra was identical to the ones he had seen, only the seal was of red silk with white border around it.

    “Aiyo!” Wei Xiaobao cried out; hastily he put his hands into his pocket and extracted the copy of ‘Forty-two Chapter Sutra’ he took from Prince Kang’s mansion. Luckily when he jumped into the water tub he was immediately grabbed by Rui Dong so only the outer surface of the envelope was wet, the pages of the book stayed dry.

    He placed both copies on the table, the two books were identical except the red silk and the red silk with white border covers. Up to this point he had seen four copies of ‘Forty-two Chapter Sutra’. Presently, two were in the Empress Dowager’s hands, and two were in his own hands. “There must be something odd inside these sutras, too bad I can’t read” he mused, “If I ask Xiao Junzhu and Miss Fang to take a look, I’m sure I will understand. But if I did, they would look down on me.” Pulling the drawer open, he put the two books away.

    He thought, “A moment ago the Empress Dowager personally came to kill me, she must be afraid I would find her secret and reveal it out. Afterwards she also sent this Rui Dong to kill me, on a random accusation that I led the assassins into the Palace. She has been waiting for a while now, if she did not see Rui Dong return, she would send another man over. I might as well strike first and gain the upper hand by immediately going to His Majesty to lodge a complaint. Come daybreak, laozi will flee the Palace and won’t comeback.”

    He said to Fang Yi, “I must go out and start a rumor that this Rui Dong has colluded with your Mu Palace people. Good wi … good wi … Miss Fang (he was going to call her ‘good wife’, but realizing the urgency of the situation, he knew he must not fool around and thus fail the important matter, therefore, he corrected himself by calling her ‘Miss Fang’), what was your real intention in entering the Palace tonight? Did you intend to assassinate the Emperor? I urge you not to assassinate the young emperor; that old wh0re the Empress Dowager is not a good thing, it would be much better if you assassinate her.”

    “Since you are one of us, it’s not a big deal to tell you the truth,” Fang Yi said, “We disguised ourselves as the subordinated of Wu Yingxiong, Wu Sangui’s son, coming to the Palace to assassinate the Tatar Emperor. If everything went well, of course it would be great, but if not, we hope in his anger the Emperor would kill Wu Sangui.”

    “Phew!” Wei Xiaobao let out a breath and said, “Brilliant scheme! Brilliant scheme! But how are you going to implicate Wu Sangui?”

    Fang Yi said, “On our undergarments we deliberately leave some marking, the seal of troops under Ping Xi Wang’s command, also our weapons and secret projectiles are engraved with Ping Xi Wang’s Palace inscription. We have several old weapons bearing the inscription ‘Regional Commander Office of Shanhai Pass[2] of The Great Ming’.”

    “What for?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

    Fang Yi explained, “Before that servant Wu Sangui surrendered to the Tatars, he was the Regional Commander of our Great Ming’s Shanhai Pass.”

    Wei Xiaobao nodded. “This scheme is very formidable,” he said.

    Fang Yi continued, “We entered the Palace this time, in all likelihood there would be people die for our country, in that case the marking on their clothes will be discovered by the Tatars. Supposing that we were caught, at first we won’t confess, then after the Tatars beat us until we are hovering between life and death, only then will we confess that we have received Ping Xi Wang’s order to come and assassinate the Emperor. As soon as we entered the Palace, we abandoned engraved weapons everywhere, so that if by chance we all are lucky enough to retreat completely, we have already left some incriminating evidence.” She was talking with excitement, her breathing gradually quickened, a blush appeared on her cheeks.

    Wei Xiaobao said, “So you came to the Palace not to rescue Xiao Junzhu at all?”

    “Of course not,” Fang Yi replied, “We are not immortals, how could we know Xiao Junzhu was unexpectedly in the Palace?”

    Wei Xiaobao nodded. “Do you have any engraved weapon with you?” he asked.

    “I do!” Fang Yi replied. From the quilt she produced a sword, but her arm was lacking strength that she was unable to raise the sword up.

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Luckily I did not sleep by your side, otherwise you would have killed me with the sword.” Fang Yi blushed, she glowered at him.

    Wei Xiaobao took the sword and concealed it in Rui Dong’s dead body’s waist. “I am going to lodge a complaint that this Rui Dong was in cahoots with the assassins; isn’t it enough evidence?” he said.

    Fang Yi shook her head and said, “Look at the sword, what characters are engraved there?”

    Wei Xiaobao asked her back, “What characters are engraved there?” In any case, even if he looked at the engraving he would not recognize any character, so he would rather not look.

    Fang Yi said, “Those are the eight characters ‘Regional Commander Office of Shanhai Pass of The Great Ming’; this Rui Dong was a Manchu, he could not be an officer under the Regional Commander of Shanhai Pass of The Great Ming.”

    “Um,” Wei Xiaobao retrieved the sword and put it back on the bed, saying, “What kind of booty should I hide on his body then?” And then he got an idea, “Got it!” he said. He took the two strings of pearls he received as gift from Wu Yingxiong earlier, and the pair of emerald chicken, and also the bundle of gold banknotes, and stuffed everything into Rui Dong’s pocket. He knew the gold banknotes were issued by a Beijing bank, Wu Yingxiong must have sent his men to buy them. They only need to investigate the bank, and then the origin of the banknotes would be found out. This way of framing somebody was truly flawless; he said in his heart, “Heir Apparent Wu, oh Heir Apparent Wu, it’s very important for laozi to save my own life, I have no choice but to offend you.”

    Picking up Rui Dong’s body, he was thinking of moving the body into the garden outside, but he only took a single step when suddenly he heard footsteps outside the room. He lay the body back down gently, and heard someone called, “His Majesty’s order: Xiao Guizi to wait upon His Majesty immediately.”

    Wei Xiaobao was delighted; he thought, “I was worried that I could not see His Majesty tonight, and then everything will go wrong again. Presently His Majesty is summoning me, nothing’s better than that. I can’t move Rui Dong’s body now.” He replied, “Yes, let your servant change clothes, and then I’ll go immediately.”

    He gently shoved Rui Dong’s body underneath the bed, and then made some hand signals to Xiao Junzhu and Fang Yi, telling them to stay under the quilt and not make any movement. Then he hurriedly took off his wet clothes and changed into another set of clothing. Although the black silk padded vest was also wet, he did not remove it.

    He was about to walk out when he suddenly had a thought, “This little girl surnamed Fang is not too trustworthy, she might steal my belongings.” So he took the two copies of ‘Forty-two Chapter Sutra’ and a large bundle of banknotes and stuffed everything into his pocket before leaving the room, but he forgot to take along the martial art manual which his Shifu had given him.

    [1] Xiao Junzhu and Lao Junzhu are little and old princess, respectively. The 'fang' and 'yuan' of Fang Yi and Yuan Yi are ‘square’ and ‘round’, respectively.

    [2] Shanhai Pass is the Eastern pass of the Great Wall.

  3. #83
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 12 - Part 1

    Chapter 12 - With comical words I play charade, thus defeating Qing like a deity.
    (Translated by Foxs)


    At the Upper Study Room Kangxi asked about the assassins’ martial art style. Wei Xiaobao had a brainwave, his hands and feet drew a living picture, he demonstrated two moves. Kangxi recognized the Mu Family’s martial art style, one was ‘Sweeping Away a Thousand Army’, the other was ‘High mountain flowing water’; he was very happy.

  4. #84
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    Default Chapter 12 - Part 2

    Wei Xiaobao went out the front door and saw four eunuchs standing outside, but he did not recognize a single one.

    The leader said, “Gui Gong-gong, very late at night His Majesty wanted to see you, tsk tsk tsk, the way His Majesty is treating you needs not be mentioned. Where is Deputy Chief Rui? His Majesty also sends for him, so he can have audience together with Gui Gong-gong.”

    Wei Xiaobao shivered inwardly, he said, “Has Deputy Chief Rui returned to the Palace? I have never seen him.”

    “Is that so?” the eunuch said, “Let us go first then.” Finished speaking, he turned around and walked off.

    Wei Xiaobao was inwardly bewildered, “Why did he ask me about Deputy Chief Rui? How did His Majesty know that Deputy Chief Rui came to see me?” He also thought, “I am a Vice Manager eunuch, my rank is a lot higher than yours, how can you walk in front of me? You are not a young eunuch, could it be that you don’t understand the Palace’s custom?” He asked, “Gong-gong, what’s your honorable surname? We haven’t seen each other often in the past.”

    The eunuch replied, “I am only a low-level eunuch having no fixed duties, naturally Gui Gong-gong does not remember me.”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “His Majesty is sending Gong-gong to summon me, that’s not the job of a low-level eunuch having no fixed duties.” While talking, he noticed that the eunuch was turning westward, while the Emperor’s personal palace was on the northeast side. “Are you lost?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

    “No,” the eunuch replied, “His Majesty is paying his respect to the Empress Dowager. With the disturbance of the assassins just now, he was afraid it startled the Compassionate One. We are going to the Palace of Compassionate and Peaceful.”

    As soon as Wei Xiaobao heard that they were going to see the Empress Dowager, he was shocked and instantly halted his steps. From the three eunuchs walking behind him, two suddenly moved to the side and stood to the left and right of him, so that the four people surrounded him in the middle.

    Wei Xiaobao was even more alarmed; he cried inwardly, “Bad, bad! It’s not His Majesty who sent for me, clearly it is the Empress Dowager who wants to get me.” Although he did not know whether these four people knew martial art or not, with one against four he would not be able to achieve a short victory, as soon as the fight started, the Imperial Bodyguards would hear and would rush in, how could he escape? His heart was thumping madly, but with a chuckle he said, “So we are going to the Palace of Compassionate and Peaceful? That’s great! Each time the Empress Dowager sees me, she always bestows me, if not money, then candy, cakes and pastries. The Empress Dowager treats her servants very well. She said I am a gluttonous little child, she always bestows me a lot of things to eat.” While speaking, he started walking again toward the winding corridor leading to the Empress Dowager’s personal palace. Seeing him heading toward the Palace of Compassionate and Peaceful just like he said, the four eunuchs resumed their former position of one in front and three behind.

    “Last time I saw the Empress Dowager, my luck was really good,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Empress Dowager said that by arresting Oboi, my meritorious service was not small, so she bestowed me five thousand taels of gold and twenty thousand taels of silver. My strength is indeed too small, how could I move them all? Empress Dowager said: ‘If you can’t move them all, move them slowly. Xiao Guizi, what are you going to do with your money?’ I said, ‘Reporting to Empress Dowager: your servant loves to make friends the most, now that I have gold and silver in my possession, whichever eunuch comes to your servant, your servant will simply give them some. Let everybody become rich and spend the money together!’” His mouth was blabbering nonsense, his brain was racing with thoughts of escape plan.

    One of the eunuchs behind him said, “How could she bestow you that much?”

    “Ha, you don’t believe me?” Wei Xiaobao said, “Look at me.” From his pocket he fished a large bundle of banknotes; some were five-hundred tael denominations, some were a thousand tael denominations, and some were two-thousand tael denominations.

    Under the lantern light, the banknotes looked genuine. The four eunuchs were breathless, they all halted their steps.

    Wei Xiaobao pulled four banknotes, and said with a laugh, “His Majesty and Empress Dowager unceasingly bestow me with money, how can I spend everything by myself? Here I have four banknotes, two-thousand taels and one-thousand taels worth, four brothers may try your luck, each of you draw out one banknote.”

    Four eunuchs did not believe him, where in the world would there be anybody who handed several thousand taels of money casually like that? Nobody reached out to draw.

    “I have too much money with me,” Wei Xiaobao said, “And I have nowhere to spend it, sometimes I am not too happy. Right now I am going to see Empress Dowager and His Majesty, I don’t know how much more money they are going to bestow me.” While saying that, he held the banknotes high above his head that the banknotes fluttered in the wind, while with the corner of his eyes he looked around at the surrounding terrain.

    One of the eunuchs laughed and said, “Gui Gong-gong, are you really going to give the banknotes to us? You are not joking, are you?”

    “Why would I joke?” Wei Xiaobao said, “Which brother in our Catering Department has never received a thousand or eight hundred taels from me? Come, come, come, try your luck. Which brother will draw first?”

    Giggling, the eunuch said, “I’ll draw first.”

    “Wait a moment,” Wei Xiaobao said, “All of you, look clearly.” He held the four banknotes under the lantern light. The four eunuchs looked distinctly, the banknotes were really of one-thousand tael and two-thousand tael denominations, they could not restrain their faces from changing. Eunuchs cannot take wife and raise a family, they cannot serve in the army or take official post; therefore, they are twice more fond of gold, silver and other belongings than ordinary people. Although these four men had been serving in the Palace for a long time, they had never seen a one-thousand tael or two-thousand tael banknotes.

    Wei Xiaobao raised his hand and let the banknotes fluttered in the wind, he laughed and said, “Alright, this Dage can draw first!”

    The eunuch reached out, but before his finger touched the banknotes, Wei Xiaobao let go, four banknotes were blown by the wind, lightly fluttered in the air, and flew toward the cluster of flowers. “Aiyo!” Wei Xiaobao cried out, “Why didn’t you grab firmly? Hurry, hurry, whoever grabs the banknote, it will belong to him.” The four eunuchs leaped to run after the banknotes.

    “Grab it quick! Don’t let it fly away!” Wei Xiaobao called out. He ducked down and quickly slipped into an opening between the fake rocks, which he had already picked beforehand. He knew that the fake rocks in this area of the imperial garden were extremely numerous, with series of winding caves. Once he entered in, he would not be easy to find in a short time.

    The four eunuchs ran after the banknotes, two picked one banknote each, one caught two banknotes, but one was left empty-handed. These two immediately broke into an argument. One eunuch said, “Gui Gong-gong says that whoever grabs the banknote, it will belong to him, so these two banknotes are mine.”

    The other one said, “We have agreed on one banknote per person, quickly give my share of one banknote to me. I’ll be happy to take the one-thousand taels note.”

    “What one-thousand taels note?” the other eunuch said, “It’s easy for you to say. You won’t get even one tael.”

    The one who did not get any banknotes grabbed him by the chest, saying, “Are you or are you not going to give it to me? We’ll ask Gui Gong-gong to be the judge.” But when he turned around, Wei Xiaobao had already disappeared. The four eunuchs were shocked; they cried out together and looked for him everywhere. The one who did not get any banknote was unwilling to give up; he grabbed the one who had two banknotes by the front of his jacket and demanded him to give his share.

    Wei Xiaobao had already a dozen of zhang away inside the cave, hearing the two people shouting and arguing, he was secretly amused; he thought, “I am going to hide until daybreak, then I’ll slip out of the Palace from the side door, and never to come back.”

    He heard one of the eunuchs said, “Empress Dowager has ordered us that whatever happens we must summon Gui Gong-gong and Deputy Chief Rui immediately. He … he … where can he hide?”

    Another eunuch said, “He is in the Palace, he can’t hide too far. Only, we must not say anything about him giving us banknotes. Hao Xiongdi, you’d better give one of your two banknotes to Xiao Lao, otherwise he might reveal it, then we all cannot get the riches, that will be really bad.”

    Suddenly Wei Xiaobao heard footsteps, there were people coming from the west. One of them said, “With the disturbance of the assassins in the Palace tonight, I am afraid everybody will receive disciplinary action tomorrow.” As soon as Wei Xiaobao heard this, he knew they were Palace Imperial Bodyguards.

    Another man said, "I hope Gui Gong-gong will speak several words of praise in front of His Majesty."

    Yet another man commented, "Although Gui Gong-gong is young, he really treasures friendship with other people; someone like him is truly rare."

    Wei Xiaobao was delighted, he slipped out of the cave and said in a low voice, "Brothers, please be quiet."

    The two leading Imperial Bodyguards raised their lanterns. "Gui Gong-gong," they called softly.

    Wei Xiaobao saw there were about fifteen, sixteen Imperial Bodyguards, they were precisely the group of men who came to his window a moment ago. He remembered some of their names. "Zhang Dage, Zhao Dage," he said, "The four eunuchs over there are colluding with the assassins, quickly arrest them, your meritorious service won't be small." He then proceeded by calling several other names, "He Dage, E Dage, please seal those four people's mute acupoints first, or strike their chin first, don't let them shout loudly and thus disturbing His Majesty."

    Hearing it was only four eunuchs, the Imperial Bodyguards thought nothing of it; they made hand signal and blew out the lanterns. Crouching down low, they slowly crept forward. Out of the four eunuchs, two were busy looking for Wei Xiaobao in the caves, while the other two were still bickering over the banknotes, nobody paid any attention to their surroundings. The Imperial Bodyguards closed in from all directions; with a low whistle everybody come out, three, four men rounded up one eunuch, very soon the four eunuchs were pinned to the ground. These Imperial Bodyguards did not have high level of martial art skill, nobody knew how to seal acupoints; some of them used qin na technique, some used their palms and fists, they all struck and dislodged the four eunuchs' chins. The eunuchs tried to open their mouths, but were unable to make any noise. Not knowing what had happened, they were extremely frightened.

    Wei Xiaobao pointed toward a building off to the side. "Drag them in and interrogate!" he shouted. The Imperial Bodyguards dragged the eunuchs on the ground toward the front hall of the building. Somebody lighted the lantern and raised it high. Wei Xiaobao sat in the middle of the hall, the Imperial Bodyguards dragged the eunuchs and made them kneel down in front of him.

    These four eunuchs had received the Empress Dowager's order to arrest Wei Xiaobao, how could they be willing to kneel down in front of him? The Imperial Bodyguards punched and kicked and made them kneel.

    Wei Xiaobao said, "Just now the four of you were sneaky, what were you fighting about? Saying one-thousand taels is yours, two-thousand taels is mine? You also said something about the luck of the friends from the outside was not good, that a lot of them were killed by the dogs Imperial Bodyguards. Who are these 'friends from the outside'? Why did you call Imperial Bodyguards the 'dogs Imperial Bodyguards'?"

    The Imperial Bodyguards were angry, they kicked these four people's backs. In their belly the four eunuchs cried out, 'Injustice!' but how could they utter anything?

    Wei Xiaobao continued, "I was following behind you, I heard one of you said, 'It was me who lead the way, those two banknotes were given to me, how can I share it with you?'" While saying that, he pointed to the eunuch who caught two banknotes, and then he pointed to the eunuch who did not get anything and said, "You said, 'We all did this important matter together, beheading or confiscation of property, the criminal charge is the same, why can't you share it with me? That won't do, you must share.'" And then he pointed to another eunuch and said, "You said, 'Hao Xiongdi, you’d better give one of your two banknotes to Xiao Lao, otherwise he might reveal it, then we all cannot get the riches, that will be really bad.' You did say that, didn't you? What important matter did you do together? Why is there any criminal charge of beheading or confiscation of property? What banknotes have to be shared?"

    The Imperial Bodyguards said, "They guided the assassins into the Palace, naturally the criminal charge is either beheading or confiscation of property. As for the banknotes to be shared, let's just search their bodies." As soon as they searched, immediately those four banknotes were found. Seeing such a huge amount of money on the banknotes, the Imperial Bodyguards were shouting and yelling. One ordinary eunuch's monthly salary was only four to six taels of silver; suddenly each of them had a huge sum of money in their possession, how could the accusation be false?

    The Imperial Bodyguard by the surname Zhao asked the eunuch who had two banknotes, “Are you surnamed Hao?” The eunuch nodded. The Imperial Bodyguard surnamed Zhao also asked the eunuch who did not have any banknote, “And you are surnamed Lao?” The eunuch’s countenance turned ghastly pale, but he also nodded.

    Another Imperial Bodyguard said, “Alright, the assassins gave you this much money, and you led them in. You call them ‘friends from the outside’ and call us ‘dogs Imperial Bodyguards’. Your granny!” He lifted his foot and kicked as hard as he could, the eunuch surnamed Hao’s eyes were bulging, while his mouth repeatedly made a ‘heh, heh’ noise.

    “Don’t be rude and hasty,” the Imperial Bodyguard surnamed Zhao said, “We must interrogate well.” Stooping down, he reached onto the eunuch surnamed Lao’s jaw and fixed his chin.

    Wei Xiaobao shouted, “What you did was a big thing, who actually prompted you? How dare you! Quickly confess!”

    “Injustice! Injustice!” the eunuch cried out, “It was the Empress Dowager who ordered us …”

    Wei Xiaobao leaped forward and closed his mouth; “Nonsense!” he shouted, “You dare to say such thing? If you talk too much, I’ll kill you immediately.” With his right hand he drew the dagger, turning over the hilt, he knocked the crown of the eunuch’s head twice so that he fainted. Turning his head toward the Imperial Bodyguards, Wei Xiaobao said, “He said they received the order from the Empress Dowager. This … this … we are facing an imminent catastrophe.”

    The Imperial Bodyguards’ countenances immediately changed, they said, “The Empress Dowager ordered them to let the assassins entering the Palace?” They all knew that the Emperor was not the Empress Dowager’s son, the Empress Dowager was always astute and firm, could it be that the Emperor had offended the Empress Dowager, and thus ... and thus
    there was a constant strife within the Palace gates? It was such a dreadful intrigue, and unexpectedly they were now being implicated, which was really a matter of life and death.

    Wei Xiaobao asked another eunuch, "Was it really the Empress Dowager who sent you to do this thing? This a matter of great responsibility, you must not talk nonsense. Was it really the Empress Dowager?" The eunuch was unable to speak, he could only nod his head repeatedly.

    "These several banknotes," Wei Xiaobao asked again, "Did the Empress Dowager give you?" Three eunuchs shook their heads together. "Alright," Wei Xiaobao said, "You only received order, it was not your own idea at all, was it?" The three eunuchs repeatedly nodded their heads. "Do you want to live, or do you want to die?" Wei Xiaobao asked. This question was not easy to answer by simply nodding their heads. Of the three eunuchs, one nodded his head, one shook his head, another one nodded first, then shook his head, but thinking it was not the right answer, he nodded his head vigorously again.

  5. #85
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 12 - Part 3

    "So you want to die?" Wei Xiaobao asked. The three men shook their heads. "So you want to live?" Wei Xiaobao asked again. The three men quickly nodded their heads.

    Wei Xiaobao pulled away the two Imperial Bodyguard leaders, they walked outside the room. Wei Xiaobao said in a low voice, "Zhang Dage, Zhao Dage, I am afraid our livelihood has just been taken away."

    The one surnamed Zhang was Zhang Kangnian, the one surnamed Zhao was Zhao Qixian, they were both Han people, and both were already scared out their wits. "What ... what should we do?" they both asked.

    "I don't have the slightest idea," Wei Xiaobao replied, "Zhang Dage, Zhao Dage, do you have any idea?"

    Zhang Kangnian said, "If this matter is known, I don't know how big the uproar it will create, it would be best if we can cover it up."

    "That's right," Zhao Qixian said, "It would be better if we can just let these four eunuchs go, and everybody simply pretend it never happened."

    Zhang Kangnian said, "But I am afraid the human did not harm the tiger, the tiger has the intention to harm the human."

    Wei Xiaobao said, "It is indeed fabulous if we can let them go, but we must tell them not to report anything to the Empress Dowager. Otherwise, in her anger the Empress Dowager would kill people to close their mouths; these four eunuchs would not live, but most likely the seventeen of us here would also turn into thirty four pieces."

    Zhang and Zhao, two people shivered. Zhang Kangnian raised his right palm and made a hacking motion. Wei Xiaobao looked at Zhao Qixian. Zhao Qixian nodded, he asked, "What about those four banknotes?"

    Wei Xiaobao said, "You may divide these six thousand taels among the brothers. I am scared out of my wits, I only hope that I won't be implicated in this matter, I don't want the money."

    Hearing there would be six thousand taels to be divided among them, which translated to more than three hundred taels per person, Zhang and Zhao's hesitation was gone. They went back into the room, and whispered something to their four trusted aides' ears. The four men nodded; they pulled the four eunuchs up and said, "Since you are Empress Dowager's men, we'll take you back!"

    The four eunuchs were delighted, they left the room with the four Imperial Bodyguards following behind them. Suddenly they heard a series of blood-curdling screams from the outside, followed by an Imperial Bodyguard shouted, "Assassins, assassins!" Another Imperial Bodyguard cried out, "Aiyo, not good, the assassins killed four eunuchs."

    The four Imperial Bodyguards returned to the room, and reported to Wei Xiaobao, "Gui Gong-gong, there were assassins outside, they killed four Gong-gong."

    Wei Xiaobao heaved a deep sigh and said, "It's a pity, it's a pity! The assassins ran away and could not be apprehended?"

    An Imperial Bodyguard replied, "We can't even see the assassins' shadow."

    "Um, there's nothing we can do then," Wei Xiaobao said, "You'd better report this matter of four Gong-gong assassinations clearly to Dolong Zongguan!"

    Suppressing their smile, the Imperial Bodyguards replied together, "Yes!" Wei Xiaobao could not hold his laugh anymore, he burst into loud laughter. The Imperial Bodyguards also broke into continuous laughter. "Brothers," Wei Xiaobao said with a laugh, "Congratulations on your newfound wealth. I will see you tomorrow."

    Wei Xiaobao hurriedly returned to his dwelling. When he reached the front door, a cold voice from the flowering shrub greeted him, “Xiao Guizi, how are you?” Wei Xiaobao recognized it as the Empress Dowager’s voice; he was shocked. Turning around, he started to run, but after only five, six steps, a hand had touched his left shoulder, and his entire body went numb, as if a several-hundred-catty large boulder was pressing down on him that he was unable to take another step. Hastily he stooped down to withdraw the dagger, but his fingers had just touched the hilt when his right arm was hit by a palm. “Ah!” he could not bear not to scream.

    He heard Empress Dowager’s chilly voice said, “Xiao Guizi, you are young, yet have really good ability. Without lifting a finger you managed to kill my four eunuchs and still planted some booty to shift the blame on someone else, you even dare to plant false evidence against me. Humph, humph …”

    In his heart Wei Xiaobao groaned bitterly, he was desperate, thinking that the Empress Dowager hated him to the bone, so no matter how he plead with her, it would be useless. He could only gamble with his life, trying desperately to scare her so that he could gain a little time, and thus thought of an idea to escape. “Empress Dowager,” he said, “If you kill me now, it would be too late. It’s a pity, it’s a pity.”

    The Empress Dowager coldly said, “Pity what?”

    “You want to kill me to shut my mouth,” Wei Xiaobao said, “It’s a pity you are one step too late. Just now what those Imperial Bodyguards have said, presumably … presumably you have heard everything.”

    The Empress Dowager grimly said, “You said I sent those four useless eunuchs to lead the assassins into the Palace. Humph, why would I do that?”

    “How would I know?” Wei Xiaobao replied, “But most likely His Majesty would know.” In all honesty he already felt that he was ninety percent dead, so he might as well swindle her to the end.

    The Empress Dowager was furious; with a cold laugh she said, “Once I send away my palm, your life will be gone immediately. Unavoidably it will be too easy for you, this little thief.”

    “That’s right,” Wei Xiaobao said, “As soon as you exert strength on your palm, you would kill Xiao Guizi. By tomorrow everybody would know, ‘How did Xiao Guizi die?’ ‘Naturally the Empress Dowager killed him.’ ‘Why did the Empress Dowager kill him?’ ‘Because Xiao Guizi accidentally expose Empress Dowager’s secret.’ ‘What secret?’ ‘This matter is complicated and not easy to explain succinctly; come, come, come, you come to my room, I’ll tell you everything. But you must never tell it to anybody else, this matter is … is of an utmost importance.’”

    The Empress Dowager was so angry that her hand on Wei Xiaobao’s shoulder did not stop trembling; after taking a slow breath she said, “At worst it’s only those dozen or so Imperial Bodyguards. After I killed you, I will order Rui Dong to arrest those dozen fellows and put them to death immediately, and then what else should I worry about?”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed aloud. The Empress Dowager said, “Death is imminent, and you can still laughing.” Wei Xiaobao said, “Empress Dowager, you said you wanted Rui Dong to kill those people? He … he … ha ha …”

    “He what?” the Empress Dowager asked.

    Wei Xiaobao said, “He has already …” Originally he wanted to say, ‘he has already been killed by my blade,’ but suddenly he was hit upon an inspiration, he laughed ‘ha ha’ several more times.

    The Empress Dowager asked again, “He has already what?”

    “He has already listened to me, he won’t obey your orders anymore,” Wei Xiaobao said.

    The Empress Dowager laughed coldly and said, “You are but a little demon yet you think you have that kind of ability, you can tell Deputy Chief Rui not to obey my orders anymore.”

    “I am only a little eunuch,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Naturally he is not afraid of me. But the one Deputy Chief Rui is afraid of is another person.”

    With a trembling voice the Empress Dowager said, “He … he is afraid of His Majesty?”

    “We all are servants,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Naturally we are afraid of His Majesty; you can’t blame him for that, can you?”

    “What else did you tell Rui Dong?” the Empress Dowager asked.

    “I told him everything,” Wei Xiaobao replied.

    “He told him everything,” the Empress Dowager muttered to herself. After a half day of silence, she said, “He … where is he?”

    “He went far away,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “Very, very far away, and he won’t come back. Empress Dowager, if you want to see him, naturally that’s a good thing, very, very good thing; however, I am afraid it won’t be that easy.”

    The Empress Dowager was startled. “Has he left the Palace?” she asked.

    Wei Xiaobao pushed the boat with the current. “Exactly,” he said, “He said that he was afraid of His Majesty, but he was also afraid of you. Pressed between the two, he felt it would be hard for him to conduct himself as a human being, he is also afraid he will have his own life to be worried about. Before facing the calamity of losing his life, it would be better for him to take the high road and fly away.”

    “To fly high and run far[1],” the Empress Dowager corrected.

    “That’s it, that’s it,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Empress Dowager, how did you know? Have you heard him saying those words? He has flown high and run far!”

    “Humph,” the Empress Dowager snorted, “He doesn’t even want to be an officer anymore?” she asked, “Where is he going?”

    “He … he is going …” he had another idea, “He said he is going to some Tai mountain, some Liu Tai, Qi Tai, or Ba Tai mountain.”

    “Wu Tai[2] Mountain!” the Empress Dowager said.

    “That’s right, that’s right! It’s Wutai Mountain,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Empress Dowager, you know everything.”

    “What else did he say?” the Empress Dowager asked.

    “He did not say much,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “Just that … just that this matter that I entrusted to him, he will accomplish no matter what, he even put himself under a heavy oath, that even if he is to be chopped to pieces, he would definitely have his son and grandson to do it.”

    “What matter you entrusted to him?” the Empress Dowager asked.

    “Nothing much,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Deputy Chief Rui actually said that it’s not a big deal to him not being an officer, but he is to go on a journey without any traveling allowance, plus it is not a matter that can be accomplished in a year or half a year. Thereupon I gave him banknotes worth twenty thousand taels.”

    The Empress Dowager said, “You suddenly become very wealthy, where did the money come from?”

    “Those are gifts from others,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “Prince Kang gave me some, Songgotu Daren gave me some, Wu Sangui’s son also gave me some.”

    “The way you act is forthright, naturally Rui Dong is grateful and he is seeking to repay your kindness,” the Empress Dowager said, “Actually, what did you want him to do?”

    “Your servant does not dare to speak,” Wei Xiaobao said.

    “Are you going to speak or not?” the Empress Dowager asked with a stern voice. She increased the pressure of her palm, which was resting on Wei Xiaobao’s shoulder. “Aiyo!” Wei Xiaobao cried out. The Empress Dowager relaxed her grip somewhat. “Quickly speak!” she shouted.

    Wei Xiaobao sighed and said, “Deputy Chief Rui promised me, if your servant is killed inside the Palace, he will immediately report everything clearly to His Majesty. He said he is going to write a memorial to the throne, which he will carry with him. He and your servant have agreed that every two months, your servant … your servant will …”

    The Empress Dowager’s voice was trembling when she asked, “What is it?”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “Every two months, your servant will go to the Heavenly Bridge, looking for someone … a man selling candied fruits[3]. I should ask him, ‘Do you have jadeite cornelian candied fruits?’ He will reply, ‘I do, it’s a hundred taels per skewer.’ I’ll say, ‘That expensive? Will you sell it to me for two hundred taels?’ He will say, ‘No, I will not. You haven’t returned to the heaven?’ And then I’ll say, ‘Go tell that old man then!’ And then he would report to the Deputy Chief Rui.” In this desperate situation, he did not have time to fabricate a fresh story, so he simply modified the code words taught by Chen Jinnan if he wanted to communicate with Xu Tianchuan.

    “Humph,” the Empress Dowager snorted, “That’s the way the network of people and warriors of Jianghu communicate with each other, I believe a little thief like you won’t come up with stuff like that yourself. It was that coward Rui Dong who taught you that, wasn’t it?”

    Wei Xiaobao faked a surprised look. “Uh!” he exclaimed, “How did you know it was Deputy Chief Rui who taught me? I get it, when he taught me that, you must be eavesdropping.”

    He felt the Empress Dowager’s hand on his shoulder was trembling continuously. It was after a long time that she finally asked, “When the time comes and you do not go to find that candied fruits seller, what will happen then?”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “Deputy Chief Rui said that he will wait for ten more days. If I still do not show up, then that means your servant’s little life has gone. He … he will think of a way to report to His Majesty. By that time your servant is already dead, so there is nothing to be gained actually, but your servant is loyal to His Majesty, I want to warn His Majesty to be really careful, to requite any wrongdoings, to avenge any enmity, and to guard against others’ evil scheme, which are actually Deputy Chief Rui and your servant’s primary devotion anyway.”

    “To requite any wrongdoings, to avenge any enmity,” the Empress Dowager muttered to herself, “That’s very good.”

    “These days,” Wei Xiaobao continued, “When your servant is waiting on His Majesty, I have never revealed anything. As long as your servant is alive and well, I am serving His Majesty by his side, I will forever not let His Majesty know about this matter; why would I want to worry His Majesty?”

    The Empress Dowager let out a breath and said, “You are actually a very good boy.”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “His Majesty treats your servant very well, the Empress Dowager also did not treat your servant badly. Your servant is loyal to the Empress Dowager. Who knows? Perhaps when the Empress Dowager is happy, she would reward your servant something; won’t everybody be good?”

    “Hey, hey, hey,” the Empress Dowager let out a cold laugh, “You still want me to reward you? Your face indeed has a very thick skin.” Surprisingly, there was a hint of delight in her cold laugh; by the tone of her voice, she also seemed to be greatly relieved.

    Hearing the change in her tone, Wei Xiaobao knew the tension was greatly relaxed; he said hurriedly, “What else does your servant covet? As long as Empress Dowager and His Majesty are safe and sound, everybody’s getting along politely and amiably, that will be great fortune for us as servants. Empress Dowager, I wish you, Senior, ten thousand good fortune and peace like gold, your servant will go to the Heavenly Bridge tomorrow, I’ll find that man, and will tell him to inform Deputy Chief Rui as soon as possible, telling him to guard his mouth like a closed bottle. Your servant … wants to bring him three thousand taels, I will say that it is a gift from the Empress Dowager.”

    [1] ‘Gao Fei Yuan Zhou’ (高飞远走), Wei Xiaobao said, ‘Gao Zhou Yuan Fei’ (高走远飞).

    [2] Wu, Liu, Qi and Ba are five, six, seven and eight, respectively. See Chapter 6.

    [3] Orig. ‘bing tang hu lu’ – a common Chinese snack; candied fruits dipped in sugar syrup, usually on bamboo skewers.

  6. #86
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 12 - Part 4

    “Humph,” the Empress Dowager said, “This man did not do his job to the best of his ability, he abandoned his duty and fled away. He is lucky that I don’t chop off his head, and you want me to reward him?”

    “Yes, yes!” Wei Xiaobao said, “Naturally your servant will have to foot the three thousand taels bill myself, how can the Empress Dowager still reward him some money?”

    The Empress Dowager slowly released her grip on Wei Xiaobao’s shoulder, and she slowly asked, “Xiao Guizi, are you really loyal to me?”

    Wei Xiaobao kneeled down on the ground and kowtowed repeatedly, saying, “Your servant is loyal to the Empress Dowager, and will enjoy countless benefits, if I am not loyal, let my melon-seed-shape head be removed. Although Xiao Guizi is muddleheaded, this head is still very important to me.”

    The Empress Dowager nodded; she said, “Very good, very good, very good!” As she said one ‘very good’, her palm struck his back once, repeatedly she struck three times. Immediately Wei Xiaobao felt dizzy, and had a strong urge to vomit, his throat emitted continuous ‘eh eh eh’ noise. The Empress Dowager said, “Xiao Guizi that night Hai Dafu, the old thief said that in this world there is a martial art skill called ‘Transforming Bones Soft Palm’, which if trained to perfection, when it hit a body, it can make the bones in the entire body broken. This martial art skill is very difficult to learn, naturally I can’t do it. But since you are a very smart child, very intelligent child, I am thinking that trying three palm strikes on your back will be very interesting.”

    The chi and blood in Wei Xiaobao’s chest and abdomen bubbled up, finally he could not repress it anymore. ‘Wah!’ he vomited a big mouthful of blood and water. He thought, “The old wh0re did not believe me, she is striking me with such a vicious blow.”

    “You don’t have to be afraid,” the Empress Dowager said, “I am not going to kill you. If you died, who would go to the Bridge of Heaven to find that candied fruits seller? I only want to injure you a little bit, to show you that the way you handled this matter is not particularly clever.”

    “Thank you for the Empress Dowager’s kindness,” Wei Xiaobao said. He stood up slowly, but his body swayed and he fell back sitting down, and vomited several mouthfuls of water and blood again. The Empress Dowager laughed aloud, turned around, and disappeared into a flowering shrub.

    Wei Xiaobao struggled to stand up, then slowly circled toward the rear window of his room. He leaned against the window frame, gasping for breath for a few moments before finally crawling into the room over the window.

    “Gui Dage,” Xiao Junzhu Mu Jianping asked in low voice, “Is that you?”

    Wei Xiaobao was not in a good mood, “F*ck your mother,” he cursed, “It’s not me.”

    Fang Yi interjected, “Xiao Junzhu asked you nicely, why did you curse her?”

    Wei Xiaobao had just crawled over the window opening, he said, “I …” but before he could finish, ‘Bang!’ he fell from the window onto the floor, and was unable to get up again.

    “Aiyo!” Fang Yi and Mu Jianping cried out together. “What … what happened?” they asked in alarm, “Are you injured?”

    Wei Xiaobao’s fall was really not light, but hearing the deep concern in the voices of these two women, his mood improved considerably. He laughed aloud and gasped several times while thinking, “I don’t know if the Old Wh0re’s strike was ‘Transforming Bones Soft Palm’ or not, maybe she has not trained it proficiently. Laozi is wearing the treasured vest, also my bones are hard; whatever it is she wanted to transform, I don’t think she can transform laozi’s bones …” He said, “My Good Meizi and Good Wife are both injured, if I don’t receive some injury, how can we be called ‘fortune we enjoy together, disaster we face together’?”

    “Gui Dage,” Xiao Junzhu asked, “Where is your injury? Is it painful?”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “Good Meizi is conscientious, asking me if it is painful. Actually, it was very painful, but hearing your concern, suddenly it is not painful anymore. Tell me, isn’t it strange?”

    Mu Jianping laughed and said, “You are cracking jokes again.”

    Propping himself on the table and gasping for breath, Wei Xiaobao got up. He thought, “Right now I still have my old life, but it depends entirely on Deputy Chief Rui’s friendship, whether he is willing to support me or not. If the Old Wh0re knew Deputy Chief Rui is dead, Wei Xiaobao’s old life will not stay for more than an hour.” From the medicine chest he fetched the triangular greenish-blue with white dot medicine bottle. Hai Laogong’s medicine chest was full of medicinal powder and pills, but he only recognized this one bottle of 'Corpse Transforming Powder'. Pulling Rui Dong’s corpse from underneath the bed, he took back the banknotes and the precious knick-knacks he stuffed into Rui Dong’s pocket earlier.

    Mu Jianping said, "All along when you were away, this dead man was lying under our bed, the two of us were so scared that we might die ourselves."

    Wei Xiaobao said, "If he scared the two of you the death, won't this dead man have two bashful flower obstructing the moon female companions?"

    "Pei!" Fang Yi spat, "Xiao Junzhu, don't talk to him too much."

    "I have a magic trick," Wei Xiaobao said, "Do you want to see it?"

    "I don't want to," Fang Yi replied.

    "If you don't want to look, then close your eyes," Wei Xiaobao said.

    Fang Yi immediately closed her eyes. Following her example, Mu Jianping also closed her eyes, but immediately she opened her eyes again.

    Wei Xiaobao took a small silver spoon from the medicine chest, he pulled the wooden cork from the bottle, and took a small amount of the 'Corpse Transforming Powder' with the silver spoon, and poured it on Rui Dong's wound. A moment later, smoke started to rise from the wound, followed by strong odor. A few moments later, the wound emitted yellow liquid, while it rotted bigger and bigger. "Eek!" Mu Jianping cried out.

    Fang Yi's curiosity was piqued, she opened her eyes. As soon as she saw this scene, her eyes opened very wide, she did not want to close them anymore.

    As the corpse came in contact with the yellow liquid, it started to rot. The more the yellow liquid was produced, the faster the corpse rotted.

    Seeing the frightened expression on these two women, Wei Xiaobao said, "When one of you is being disobedient to me, I will sprinkle a little bit of this precious powder on your face, then you will immediately rot like this."

    "You ... don't scare people," Mu Jianping said. With glaring eyes Fang Yi stared at him, but her frightened expression was difficult to conceal. With a grin Wei Xiaobao took a step forward, he shook the medicine bottle twice in front of her face before he put it back into his pocket.

    Not too long afterwards, Rui Dong's corpse had rotted into two sections. Wei Xiaobao picked up a chair, and using the legs of the chair he pushed the two sections of the corpse toward the yellow liquid. In less than an hour, everything had turned into yellow liquid. Wei Xiaobao let out a deep breath, thinking, "Even if the Old Wh0re sends a million troops to Wutai Mountain, they won't find Rui Dong." He went to the water jar to fetch a bucket of water to wash away the yellow liquid from the corpse. But only after several buckets of water, his body skewed, he fell onto the bed, and in utmost exhaustion he fell asleep immediately.

    When he awoke, the sky was already bright. His chest felt nauseous, so he tried to vomit, but nothing came out. He heard Mu Jianping's concerned voice asked, "Gui Dage, are you feeling better?"

    Wei Xiaobao sat up, and only now did he realize that for the rest of the night he had been sleeping, fully clothed, by Fang and Mu, two women's feet. Seeing it was not early morning anymore, he hastily jumped down from the bed and said, "I have to hurry to see the Emperor, you two just lie down and don't move." He wanted to crawl out from the window, but the pain on his lower back was so severe that he had no choice but open the front door and locked it behind him.

    Wei Xiaobao only waited for less than an hour at the Upper Study Room, Kangxi returned from his morning court. He said with a laugh, "Xiao Guizi, I heard you killed an assassin last night."

    Wei Xiaobao paid his respect by saying, "May Your Majesty has good health."

    Kangxi said with a laugh, "Your luck was good, you get to fight with an assassin. I did not even see the assassin's shadow. How was the martial art skill of the one you killed? What move did you use to kill him?"

    Wei Xiaobao did not fight with any assassin at all, the Emperor's martial art skill was not weak, he simply could not speak thoughtlessly. A bright idea suddenly occurred, he recalled the fight between Feng Jizhong and Bai Hanfeng at the Bai family residence on the Willow Tree Lane the other day; he said, "It was dark, I only entangled him blindly. Suddenly his left leg swept across to the right, his right arm swept across to the left ..." He was narrating and giving demonstration at the same time.

    Kangxi clapped his hands, "Exactly right, exactly right! It's exactly this move!" he said.

    Wei Xiaobao was startled; "Your Majesty," he asked, "Do you know this move?"

    Kangxi laughed and said, "Do you know the name of this move?"

    Wei Xiaobao knew it was called the ‘sweeping away a thousand army’, but he said, "Your servant does not know."

    Kangxi laughed and said, "Let me tell you, so you'll know: this move is called the ‘sweeping away a thousand army’!"

    Wei Xiaobao was very amazed, he said, "This name is very pleasant to the ears!" He was startled not because of the name, but because unexpectedly Kangxi also knew.

    Kangxi said, "When he attacked you using this move, how did you deal with it?"

    Wei Xiaobao said, "For a split second I panicked, I was unable to deal with it instantly, suddenly I recalled when you and I were having martial art competition, I remember you used an extremely clever move when you flung me down from the top of your head. I think you said that it was Wu Dang Pai's martial art, 'Immortal Crane Combing its Plume'."

    Kangxi was delighted, he called out, "You used my martial art to break his move ‘sweeping away a thousand army’?"

    "Exactly," Wei Xiaobao replied, "My martial art training is actually not too superior, fortunately the two of us have had martial art competition, we have fought a lot, so I remember more than half of the techniques you used. I remember how you attacked, how you parried ..."

    "Right, right," Kangxi said, "This is 'Purple Cloud Hand' and 'Snapping Plum Flower Hand'."

    Wei Xiaobao thought, "Since I am licking his boot, I might as well go all out!" He said, "I then copied your style, I hastily grabbed his hand, and I did grab it, it's just that my strength was not enough, plus my position was not too accurate, he shook his left hand forcefully and thus managed to free himself."

    "What a pity, what a pity," Kangxi said, "Let me teach you: you ought to grab here, in between the Hui Zong and Wai Guan [lit. reservoir assembly and outer pass, respectively] acupoints. No matter what, he wouldn't be able to shake himself free." While saying that, he grabbed the acupoints on Wei Xiaobao's wrist.

    Wei Xiaobao struggled as hard as he could, but as expected, he was unable to struggle free. He said, "If you taught me earlier, the following dangerous situation would not have happened."

    Kangxi let go of his hand, he asked with a laugh, "What happened next?"

    Wei Xiaobao said, "As soon as he was free, he circled around behind me, and struck my back with both of his palms ..."

    "High mountain flowing water!" Kangxi called out.

    "So this move is called 'high mountain flowing water'?" Wei Xiaobao asked, "At that time I was so afraid I might be completely routed by him, in my desperation I used another one of your moves."

    "You are useless!" Kangxi said with a laugh, "How come when you fight with others you did not use the move your Shifu taught you, but always use my moves instead?"

    Wei Xiaobao said, "During training, the moves taught by Shifu are clear and logical, but when one is in a life and death fight, how would one know which move will be effective? On the other hand, those moves of yours just jumped out from the bottom my heart. Your Majesty, at that time the edge of his palms had already hit my back, I was already scared out of my wits, how could I think about which move to use? Borrowing the momentum, I threw myself forward, then I turned around from the right side."

    "Very good!" Kangxi said, "That is the 'circling wind step'!"

    "Is that right?" Wei Xiaobao said, "As soon as I evaded his attack, I seized the opportunity to draw my dagger and stabbed him backhandedly with the blade, while crying out, 'Xiao Guizi, do you surrender now?'"

    Kangxi laughed heartily. "Why did you call him 'Xiao Guizi'?" he asked.

    Wei Xiaobao said, "Your servant was desperate, I don’t know what came into me, unexpectedly it was your technique that I remembered completely. The backhand stab was originally your backhand palm strike, when it hit my back and you called out, 'Xiao Guizi, do you surrender now?’. Without thinking I used that technique, while my mouth also called out. He grunted; without having enough time to call ‘surrender’, he died right away.”

    Kangxi laughed. “Wonderful, wonderful!” he said, “My backhand palm strike is called ‘lone cloud coming out of mountain peak’. I did not think that you changed it into a sword move and with one strike you succeeded.” After starting martial art training, Kangxi had fought only with Wei Xiaobao, he had never had the satisfaction on being in a seriously desperate fight against an enemy. And now hearing that Wei Xiaobao had killed an enemy with his own hand, with the technique that he learned entirely from him, Kangxi was very happy and excited. He thought that if he personally went into action, he would be ten times more brilliant than Wei Xiaobao. He said, “Those assassins’ guts were not small, but their martial art skill is sloppy and ordinary.”

    “Your Majesty,” Wei Xiaobao said, “The assassins’ martial art skill is not that bad, there are several Imperial Bodyguards in our Palace who suffer injury in their hands. On the whole it was Xiao Guizi’s good luck that he had once served Your Majesty practicing martial art for so long that I managed to steal your three moves two styles. Otherwise, Your Majesty, today you would have issued an imperial edict, comforting and aiding the bereaved family of loyal subject who died in the line of duty, little eunuch Xiao Guizi, by one thousand taels of fine silver.”

    Kangxi laughed, “How can one thousand taels be enough?” he said, “At least ten thousand taels.” The two of them burst into loud laughter together.

    “Xiao Guizi,” Kangxi said, “Do you know who are these assassins?”

    “I don’t know,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “Your Majesty recognizes their martial art style, most likely you already have a guess.”

    “At first I still cannot ascertain,” Kangxi said, “But your demonstration just now has added another layer of proof.” He clapped his hands, ordering the eunuch on duty at the Upper Study Room to summon Songgotu and Dolong, two people.

    Those two have been waiting outside the Study Room, as soon as they were summoned by the Emperor, they came in and kowtowed.

  7. #87
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 12 - Part 5

    Dolong was a military officer of the Manchurian’s Plain White Banner, during the invasion inland he had established not a few of outstanding military service, his martial art ability was also very profound, but all along he was pushed aside by Oboi, so he was very dissatisfied with his position in the officialdom. It was only after Oboi’s demise recently that Kangxi promoted him to be the Imperial Bodyguards Chief, in charge of protecting the Qian Qing Gate[1], Zhonghe Palace, Taihe Palace[2], and other living quarters within the Palace. There were altogether six Imperial Bodyguard Chiefs inside the Palace, two from each banner: Plain Yellow, Plain White, and Bordered Yellow. But the ones with real power were the Imperial Bodyguard Chief and Deputy Chief in charge of the imperial living quarters. Dolong was newly appointed to this key job, suddenly assassins appeared in the Palace. He did not sleep the entire night, his heart was weighed down with anxiety, he did not know whether the Emperor and the Empress Dowager would place the blame on him.

    Seeing his bloodshot eyes, Kangxi asked, “Have you interrogated clearly the captured assassins?”

    Dolong said, “Reporting to Your Majesty: altogether there are three revolting thieves that are captured alive. Your servant has interrogated them separately. At first they rigidly refused to speak, afterwards they could not endure the torture and confessed. As expected … as expected they are Ping Xi Wang … Ping Xi Wang Wu Sangui’s subordinates.”

    Kangxi nodded. “Hmm,” he said.

    Dolong continued, “The weapons those revolting thieves left behind have the inscription ‘Ping Xi Wang Palace’ engraved on them. On the undergarments of the killed revolting thieves, there are also the markings of Ping Xi Wang. We have conclusive proof that the revolting thieves who came to invade and harass the Palace last night were Wu Sangui’s subordinates. Even if Wu Sangui did not personally send them, he … he simply cannot escape the responsibility.”

    Kangxi asked Songgotu, “Have you also investigated clearly?”

    Songgotu said, “Your servant has examined the revolting thieves’ weapons and undergarments. Dolong Zongguan has recorded the revolting thieves’ confession; that is indeed their confession.”

    “Go get those weapons and undergarments, I want to see,” Kangxi said.

    “Yes,” Dolong complied. He knew that although the Emperor was young, he was very astute, plus this matter carried great responsibility, hence he had already prepared various exhibit packages, which he had his trusted aides, the Imperial Bodyguards, to carry as they waited outside the Upper Study Room. He stepped out and returned immediately; untying the cloth wrapper, he put everything on the table, then immediately took several steps back. The Manchurian Qing had fought hundreds of battles all over China, from the founding Emperor to the current one, all practiced martial art, and thus did not avoid weapons. However, inside the Study Room, for a government official to expose any weapon in front of the Emperor was still a taboo. Dolong was simply being careful; hence the reason he withdrew first.

    Kangxi stepped forward, he picked up the sabers and swords and looked at them closely. He saw the inscription ‘Regional Commander Office of Shanhai Pass of The Great Ming’ on the saber’s hilt. He smiled slightly and said, “Trying to hide it makes it more conspicuous, no doubt something is not right. By deliberately lighting the fire to play trick, they actually raised other people’s suspicion.” Turning to Songgotu, he said, “If Wu Sangui was to send assassins to the Palace to rebel against his superior, he would have had deep plans and distant thoughts, his plan and preparation would be comprehensive, he knew such sabers and swords cannot be used, why would they want to carry weapons with inscriptions? How could they not know these sabers and swords could be lost in the Palace?”

    “Yes, yes,” Songgotu said, “Holiness has seen it clearly, your servant admires it extremely.”

    Kangxi turned toward Wei Xiaobao and asked, “Xiao Guizi, tell me, what moves did the revolting thief that you killed used?”

    Wei Xiaobao replied, “He used the ‘sweeping away a thousand army’, and also 'high mountain flowing water' moves.”

    Kangxi asked Dolong, “What kind of martial art are they?”

    Although Dolong was a noble official of the Manchus, he had an extensive knowledge of various martial arts of different schools and sects; these ‘sweeping away a thousand army’ and 'high mountain flowing water' were not unfamiliar moves to him, he replied, “Reporting to Your Majesty: those are apparently former Ming’s Mu Palace of Yunnan’s martial art.”

    Kangxi clapped his hands, “That’s right, that’s right,” he said, “Dolong, your knowledge is extensive.”

    Dolong was elated by this favor from his superior, a thread of smile appeared on his face as he kneeled down and kowtowed. “Thank you for Your Majesty’s compliment,” he said.

    “Think about it carefully,” Kangxi said, “If Wu Sangui sent people to the Palace to commit assassination, he could not have chosen the time when his son is in Beijing. Assassins can come at any time, why did he have to pick the time when his son is having an audience with the Emperor? This is my first suspicion. Wu Sangui is adept at military strategy, the way he handled affairs is thorough. Sending these revolting thieves to do his work, the number of people was small, their martial art skill was not high, he should know it would be hard to succeed, why bother? This matter is incompatible with Wu Sangui’s character. This is my second suspicion. Moreover, even if he sent people to assassinate me, what would his benefit be? Could it be that he wanted to raise a rebellion? If he wanted to rebel, why did he send his son to Beijing? Isn’t that the same as deliberately sending his son so that we can behead him? This is my third suspicion.”

    When Wei Xiaobao listened to Fang Yi’s explanation on how they were scheming on framing Wu Sangui, he felt that it was an excellent plan; however, as he listened to Kangxi’s analysis, he now felt that the scheme had flaws everywhere. He could not help but was full of admiration, and repeatedly nodded his head.

    Songgotu said, “Your Majesty is an enlightened sage, your wisdom is not within reach of your servants.”

    Kangxi continued, “Think about it again, if the assassins were not sent by Wu Sangui, but carried Ping Xi Wang Palace’s weapons, what was their real intention? Naturally it was to frame him. Wu Sangui has helped out Great Qing to pacify the land under the heaven, his merit was really big, the number of people who hate him is indeed not small. In the end, who prompted these revolting thieves? You must investigate it well.”

    Songgotu and Dolong complied together. Dolong said, “Your Majesty is an enlightened sage. If Your Majesty did not give direction and straighten things out, your muddleheaded servant will fall into their trick, and unavoidably wronged good people.”

    Kangxi said, “Wronged good people? Hey, hey!”

    Seeing the Emperor did not have further instruction, they kowtowed and took their leave.

    “Xiao Guizi,” Kangxi said, “Can you guess how do I know those two moves ‘sweeping away a thousand army’ and 'high mountain flowing water'?”

    Wei Xiaobao’s heart was thumping madly, he said, “I was wondering myself, how did Your Majesty know?”

    Kangxi said, “Early in the morning today, I already summoned a lot of Imperial Bodyguards, I asked them about the fight with the assassins last night, trying to investigate the martial art the assassins used. There are unexpectedly some from the Mu Family of former Ming. Just think, for generations the Mu Family ruled in Yunnan, after my Great Qing’s dragon rose, we bestowed Yunnan to Wu Sangui, how could the Mu Family not angry? Much less the last of the Mu Family, Duke Mu Tianbo of Guizhou province, died under Wu Sangui’s hands. I asked my men to demonstrate Mu Family’s most formidable moves, among which were these two moves ‘sweeping away a thousand army’ and 'high mountain flowing water'.”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “Your Majesty truly able to prophecy with supernatural accuracy.” But in his heart he was anxious, “I am hiding two women of the Mu Family in my room, I wonder if he knew about it.”

    Kangxi laughed and asked, “Xiao Guizi, do you want to be rich?”

    Hearing the words ‘to be rich’, Wei Xiaobao’s spirit was immediately aroused, his anxiety gone. With a giggle he said, “Your Majesty did not order me to get rich, I do not dare to get rich; Your Majesty ordered me to get rich, Xiao Guizi did not dare not to get rich.”

    “Alright,” Kangxi said with a laugh, “I order you to get rich! Take these sabers and swords, and the undergarments taken from the assassins, along with the assassins’ written confession, give everything to certain person, and then the great wealth will come to you.”

    Wei Xiaobao was stunned, but he immediately understood. “Wu Yingxiong!” he called out.

    Kangxi laughed, “You are so smart,” he said, “Just go!”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “This kid Wu Yingxiong’s luck is really good this time, his entire family’s lives has been rewarded by Your Majesty.”

    “What are you going to say to him?” Kangxi asked.

    Wei Xiaobao said, “I’ll say: The one surnamed Wu, our Majesty’s insight spans ten thousand li, whatever you, father and son, did in Yunnan, not a single one is missed by His Majesty. You did not revolt, His Majesty can see it clearly, but if, hey hey, you are having ‘three hearts and two intentions’, ‘two-faced, three knives’ [both idioms mean ‘double-cross/double dealing and back stabbing’], His Majesty will also see it clearly. Damn it, you, father and son, better be nice to me.”

    Kangxi burst out in laughter, he said, “You are very clever; although you did not go to school, your words are coarse and vulgar, in the end you still capture my intention. Damn it, you, father and son, better be nice to me. Ha ha ha ha …”

    Hearing the Emperor unexpectedly learned to say ‘damn it’, Wei Xiaobao could not refrain his heart from blooming. He also burst out in laughter. Taking the sabers, swords, and other objects, he left the Study Room and returned to his own room.

    He had just about to unlock the door when he felt a stabbing pain on his back, his head spun and he felt he was about to vomit. Forcing himself to unlock the door, he sat on a chair, and continuously gasping for breath.

    Mu Jianping said, “You … you are not feeling well?”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “Seeing your ‘bashful flower obstructing the moon’ appearance, I am feeling well already.”

    Mu Jianping laughed and said, “My Shijie is the one with ‘bashful flower obstructing the moon’ appearance, I have a little turtle on my face, I am so ugly, extremely ugly.”

    Hearing she was bantering with him, Wei Xiaobao’s mood brightened immediately; he laughed and said, “How can there be any little turtle on your face? Ah, I know, Good Meizi, your face is bright and smooth, it is fair and clear, almost like a mirror, therefore, it may have a little turtle on it.”

    Mu Jianping was puzzled. “How come?” she asked.

    “Who are you sleeping with?” Wei Xiaobao asked, “Your face is like a mirror, so it reflected that person’s appearance. Naturally there will be a little turtle on your face.”

    “Pei!” Fang Yi spat, “Just come over and look, then there will be a little turtle on Xiao Junzhu’s face.”

    “If I come over and look,” Wei Xiaobao said, “A handsome and vigorous big master will appear on Good Meizi’s face.”

    Fang and Mu, two women laughed. Fang Yi said, “Little turtle big master, which one is the big master?”

    The three of them laughed together. “Hey,” Fang Yi said, “We must escape from the Palace, you need to think of a way.”

    These days wherever he went, Wei Xiaobao was always flattered by other people, but as soon as he returned to his own room, he would be extremely lonely and bored. Now that he suddenly had Fang and Mu, two young women to accompany him, although there was the danger that someone else might find out any minute, in all honesty he hated to have them leave him; thereupon he said, “We need to think about it slowly, you are both injured, as soon as you take a step out of the door, you might be caught instantly.”

    Fang Yi sighed gently, she asked, “Among our people who entered the Palace last night, I wonder how many have died, and how many were captured? Would you possibly know the names of the people who ran into misfortune?”

    Wei Xiaobao shook his head, “I don’t know,” he said, “But since you are concerned, I may be able to find out for you.”

    “Thank you very much,” Fang Yi said in a low voice. Ever since he met her, Wei Xiaobao had never heard her speaking politely like this, he was very astonished in his heart.

    Mu Jianping said, “Especially we wanted to ask whether a certain man surnamed Liu was able to escape safely or not.”

    “Surnamed Liu?” Wei Xiaobao asked, “What’s his name?”

    “He is our Liu Shige [martial (older) brother],” Mu Jianping replied, “He is called Liu Yizhou. He … he is my Shijie’s sweetheart, so … so …” Suddenly she squealed, since Fang Yi had tickled her armpit, she did not want her to continue.

    “Ah!” Wei Xiaobao exclaimed, “Liu Yizhou, hmm, this … this might be bad.”

    Fang Yi was unable to restrain her emotions; she asked hastily, “What is it?”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “Isn’t he a tall, fair-complexion, approximately twenty some years, handsome young man? This man’s martial art skill is really good, is he the one?” Naturally he did not know what kind of person Liu Yizhou was, but thinking that this man was Fang Yi’s sweetheart, he must be a handsome young man. And since he was their older martial brother, he could not be wrong if he said the man’s martial art was really high.

    Sure enough, Mu Jianping said, “That’s right, that’s right, it is he. Fang Shijie said that when she was wounded last night, she saw Liu Shige was being overthrown by three Imperial Bodyguards, one Imperial Bodyguard was holding him down, most likely he was captured. I wonder what happened to him?"

    "Ay," Wei Xiaobao sighed and said, "Turns out this Liu Shifu is Miss Fang's sweetheart ..." He did not stop shaking his head and heaving sighs.

    Fang Yi showed concern on her face. "Gui Dage," she said, "What happened to that Liu ... Liu Shige?"

    [1] ‘Qian’ is one of the Eight Trigrams (Ba Gua), ‘Qing’ refers to either ‘Qing’ Dynasty, or simply ‘clear’ or ‘pure’.

    Courtesy of Ace High: It’s better known as Gate of Heavenly Purity, which connects to the Palace of Heavenly Purity, the residence of the Emperor, by a raised walkway to its north. It is also the main gate of the Inner Court. In front of the gate, there is a courtyard which is 200 meters long from east to west and is 30 meters from north to south. This courtyard both separates the Outer Court and the Inner Court and integrates them.

    [2] Zhonghe means ‘neutralize/counteract’, Taihe is the central pavilion of the Forbidden City, commonly called ‘Hall of Supreme Harmony’ in English.

    Courtesy of Ace High: Hall of Complete Harmony (中和殿; Zhōng Hé Diàn) is used by the Emperor to prepare and rest before and during ceremonies. It is one of the three halls of the Outer Court and the smallest of the three.

    Hall of Supreme Harmony (太和殿; Tài Hé Diàn) is the largest hall within the Forbidden Palace. In the Ming Dynasty, the Emperor held court here to discuss affairs of state. During the Qing Dynasty, Emperors held court far more frequently. As a result, the location was changed to the Inner Court, and the Hall of Supreme Harmony was only used for ceremonial purposes, such as coronations, investitures, and imperial weddings.

  8. #88
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 12 - Part 6

    Wei Xiaobao said in his heart, "Stinky girl, you have never talked amiably with me, as soon as mentioning your Liu Shige, you call me Gui Dage. I'd better scare her a bit." He heaved a deep sigh again and shook his head as he said, "What a pity, what a pity!"

    Fang Yi was alarmed. "What happened?" she asked, "Is he ... is he ... is he injured, or ... or is he dead?"

    Wei Xiaobao burst into loud laughter; he said, "Laozi has never seen any Liu Yizhou or Liu Liangpi[1], how would I know if he is dead or still alive? You call me 'Good husband' three times, I'll find out for you."

    When Fang Yi saw him shaking his head, heaving a sigh and repeatedly saying 'What a pity' earlier, she thought that the chance of Liu Yizhou being unfortunate was greater than the chance of him being fortunate. Hearing what Wei Xiaobao suddenly said, she was delighted in her heart, but with her mouth she spat and said, "You never said anything serious. Are you telling the truth, or was it a lie?"

    Wei Xiaobao said, "If this Liu Yizhou fell into my hands, humph, humph, I will tie him up first, and give him a good flogging, until his butts turned into four pieces. I'll ask him what graceful words, flowery speech he used to win my wife's heart. Afterwards I'll raise my blade and chop down, whoosh ..."

    "You are going to kill him?" Mu Jianping asked.

    "No," Wei Xiaobao said, "I will cut off his balls, turning him into a eunuch."

    Mu Jianping did not understand what he was saying. But Fang Yi understood, her face turned deep as she cursed, "Little smart-aleck, always talks rubbish!"

    "Most likely your Liu Shige has been captured," Wei Xiaobao said, "Whether I want him to be eunuch or not, as soon as I, Gui Gong-gong, say the word, not a few people will be willing to listen. Miss Fang, are you or are you not going to ask me to help?"

    Fang Yi's face blushed deep red again, she mumbled intelligibly. Mu Jianping said, "Gui Dage, if you are willing to help, you need not wait for others to ask you, then you are a true chivalrous hero."

    Wei Xiaobao waved his hand and said, "Wrong, wrong! I like it the most when people are asking me. The more intimate they call me 'Good Husband', 'Dear Husband', the more spirited I will do things to help them."

    After hesitating for half a day, Fang Yi said, "Gui Dage, Good Dage, I am asking you to help."

    With a straight face Wei Xiaobao said, "Must be 'Husband'!"

    "You are wrong here," Mu Jianping said, "My Shijie is going to marry Liu Shige, Liu Shige is her husband, how can she call you 'husband'?"

    "That won't do," Wei Xiaobao said, "If she marries Liu Yizhou, laozi will drink vinegar, I will be seriously jealous."

    "Liu Shige is a very good man," Mu Jianping said.

    "The better he is, the more I will drink vinegar," Wei Xiaobao said, "Aiyo! It's so sour, it's so sour! I drank too much vinegar, ha ha ha ha ...!" Amidst his laughter, he picked up the bundle, went out of the room, and locked the door behind him. And then bringing along four eunuch attendants, he rode a horse to West Chang'an Street, where Wu Yingxiong stayed during his visit to Beijing.

    On the horseback, his right hand did not stop punching the air while he yelled, "Bang bang bang, bang bang bang!" His attendants did not understand his meaning, and how could they know that this time Gui Gong-gong had received an imperial edict to get rich? Naturally the 'bang, bang, bang' was the sound of knocking onto Yunnan's bamboo shoulder pole [See note 11, Chapter 10].

    Hearing about the arrival of the Emperor's personal envoy, Wu Yingxiong hurriedly went out to kowtow and greet, and then he took Wei Xiaobao to the main hall.

    Wei Xiaobao said, "His Majesty ordered me to take these stuffs to show to you. Xiao Wangye, do you have big guts or not?"

    Wu Yingxiong said, "Humble officer's guts is the smallest, I am easily terrified."

    Wei Xiaobao was startled, and then he laughed and said, "You are easily frightened? What about staging a rebellion? You must be very bold!"

    Wu Yingxiong said, "Humble officer does not understand Gong-gong too clearly, please explain it to me." At Prince Kang's mansion the previous night, he referred to himself as 'zaixia', today Wei Xiaobao came on imperial orders, and he saw how arrogant he was, he had a faint feeling that things did not look too good; thereupon he repeatedly called himself 'humble officer'.

    Wei Xiaobao said, "Altogether, how many assassins did you send to the Palace last night? His Majesty sent me here to ask."

    Wu Yingxiong had heard some news about some assassins creating disturbance in the Palace the previous night; hearing Wei Xiaobao suddenly said those words, his shock was indeed not small. Immediately he fell down on his knees and kowtowed again and again toward the courtyard, saying, "Your Majesty treats your humble servants, father and son, with kindness as heavy as the mountain, even if your humble servants, father and son, became oxen or horses, we still cannot repay Your Majesty's grace. Your humble servants, Wu Sangui, Wu Yingxiong, father and son, are willing to give up our lives for Your Majesty, we have never been double-minded."

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, "Stand up, stand up, it won't be too late to kowtow later. Xiao Wangye, let me show you something." While saying that, he untied the cloth wrapper and spread the contents on the table.

    Wu Yingxiong stood up and looked at the weapons and clothes in the bundle; he could not restrain his hands from trembling, as with a trembling voice he said, "This ... this ... this ..." Picking up the written confession, he read it clearly that the assassins were sent by Ping Xi Wang Wu Sangui, they entered the Palace to commit assassination, they were determined to kill the Tatars Emperor, and set up Wu Sangui as their master, and so on and so forth.

    Despite his ability to adapt to the circumstances and his extensive knowledge, Wu Yingxiong could not help but was scared out of his wits. His knees buckled and he kneeled down again, this time in front of Wei Xiaobao. He said, “Gui … Gong … Gong … Gong, this … this is not true, humble officers, father and son, are being … framed by crafty scoundrels. I beseech Gong-gong to present a memorial to the Holiness, to … to … make clear …”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “These weapons belonged to the revolting thieves who entered the Palace, who conspired against the law, who committed treason and heresy. The weapons actually bear the insignia of your precious palace.”

    Wu Yingxiong said, “Humble officers, father and son, have a lot of personal enemies; this must be our enemies’ sinister plot.”

    Wei Xiaobao was doubtful. “What you said has a thirty percent truth in it, but I don’t know if His Majesty would believe it or not.”

    Wu Yingxiong said, “Gong-gong’s great kindness and great favor are clearly understood by humble officers, father and son. Humble officers, father and son’s bodies, family and lives are all due to Gong-gong’s graciousness.”

    Xiao Wangye,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Stand up. Last night you sent me some gifts first, presumably you have anticipated early on that this matter would happen. Hey, hey, hey, hey.”

    Actually, Wu Yingxiong was about to stand up, but hearing this serious accusation, he hastily kneeled down again and said, “As long as Gong-gong explains everything clearly to His Majesty on behalf of humble officers, father and son, His Majesty is an enlightened sage, he will definitely believe Gong-gong.”

    “This matter is already made public,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Songgotu, Suo Daren, and Imperial Bodyguard Chief Dolong, Duo Daren, have already seen His Majesty to report the assassins’ written confession. You know, a matter as big as rebellion, who would have a gargantuan guts and try to hush it off? Explaining everything clearly to His Majesty on your behalf is not impossible. I have an excellent idea, although not extremely certain, most likely I can clear up the criminal charge against the two of you, father and son. It's just that it will be troublesome."

    Wu Yingxiong was delighted, "We are relying on Gong-gong's help," he said.

    "Please stand up, let's talk," Wei Xiaobao said. Wu Yingxiong stood up, but still repeatedly bowed with cupped fist.

    "You really did not send those assassins?" Wei Xiaobao asked.

    "Absolutely not!" Wu Yingxiong replied, "How can humble officer do something so heinous and unpardonable, a crime deserving ten thousand deaths?"

    "Alright," Wei Xiaobao said, "I am considering you as a friend, so I believe you this time. If the future investigation proves that the assassins were sent by you, I will be buried alive, but I will make sure your whole family unto the third generation will accompany me."

    "Gong-gong, rest assured," Wu Yingxiong said, "Please set your hundred and twenty hearts at ease, there is absolutely no such thing."

    Wei Xiaobao said, "Then in your opinion, who sent these assassins?"

    Wu Yingxiong hesitatingly said, "Humble officers, father and son, indeed have a lot of enemies, it is really hard to determine which one in this short moment."

    Wei Xiaobao said, "You want me to clear up the charges against you in front of His Majesty, you must identify an enemy to take the responsibility, only then will His Majesty believe."

    "Yes, yes," Wu Yingxiong said, "For the Great Qing to subdue the land under heaven, the number of rebels my father exterminated is truly not just a few. The remnants of these rebel groups extremely hate my father; such as that rebel Li Chuang[2], followers of former Ming's King Tang, King Gui, and the remnants of Mu Family of Yunnan. They all harbor a grudge against my father, they would do anything to rebel against the authority."

    Wei Xiaobao nodded; he said, "Those remnants of rebel Li Chuang, Mu Family, and so on, what kind of martial art do they have? Show me some moves, I will demonstrate it in front of His Majesty, I'll say that I saw it with my own eyes last night, I'll say that these are the moves that the assassins used. Genuine goods at fair prices, guaranteed it won't be wrong."

    Wu Yingxiong was delighted, he hurriedly said, "Gong-gong's idea is very clever. Humble officer only know one school of martial art, my understanding is truly limited, I must ask my subordinate to help me. Gong-gong, please sit down for a moment, humble officer will be back very soon." Finished speaking, he bowed and cupped his fist again, then hurriedly went in.

    A moment later, he brought someone into the hall, it was the leader of his attendants, Yang Yizhi, whom Wei Xiaobao helped to win seven hundred taels the previous night. Yang Yizhi stepped forward to pay his respect to Wei Xiaobao; his face showed deep anxiety, apparently Wu Yingxiong had told him the reason of Wei Xiaobao's visit.

    "Yang Dage," Wei Xiaobao said, "No need to worry, during the martial art practice at Prince Kang's mansion last night, you have created quite a stir, many civil and military ministers witnessed it with their own eyes, they cannot possibly say that you entered the Palace to commit murder. I can also bear witness on your behalf."

    "Yes, yes! Thank you very much Gong-gong," Yang Yizhi said, "But I am afraid the crafty scoundrel will frame us up, they could say that Heir Apparent took us to Kang Wangye's Palace as an alibi, to have various civil and military ministers witnessed it with their own eyes, while surreptitiously sent another group of people to commit treason and heresy."

    Wei Xiaobao nodded, "We can't not guard against people saying that," he said.

    Yang Yizhi said, "Heir Apparent said that Gong-gong is willing to uphold justice, to clear up the charges against us in front of His Majesty, truly you are out great benefactor. Ping Xi Wang's enemies are indeed numerous, each one's martial art is very mixed, only Mu Palace's martial art style is unique, very easy to recognize."

    Wei Xiaobao said, "Um, what a pity we can’t find Mu Palace’s people, otherwise we can have him to demonstrate several moves and styles that we can see.’

    Yang Yizhi said, “Mu Family Fist and Mu Family Sword have been around in Yunnan for a long time, Xiaoren also remembers some. Let me demonstrate some moves, I am asking Gong-gong to give directions. The assassins entered the Palace carrying sabers and swords, how about Xiaoren demonstrate the ‘circling wind sword’?”

    Wei Xiaobao happily said, “So you know Mu Family martial art, nothing better than that. I know nothing about sword technique, I won’t be able to learn it in a short period of time. I’d better learn from you the Mu Family Fist.”

    “I do not dare,” Yang Yizhi replied, “Gong-gong has the power to capture Oboi, your name became famous over the four seas, your fist and kick skill must be very high, Xiaoren cannot reach that level, Gong-gong, please advice.” Finished speaking, he moved to the middle of the hall, and started demonstrating each move and each style slowly.

    This particular Mu Family Fist was handed down from Mu Ying’s hands, generation to generation for over three hundred years. The successive generations were all martial art masters who, in turn, taught it to their disciples. It could be regarded as ‘thousand-time forged, hundred-time refined’ skill, its practitioners in Yunnan was indeed very numerous. Although Yang Yizhi was by no means an expert in this fist technique, his own martial art skill was very high, his knowledge extensive, as he demonstrated move by move, his bearing was very dignified, his style was exquisite.

    Seeing the move ‘sweeping away a thousand army’, Wei Xiaobao praised, "This move is fabulous!" Afterwards he also saw the 'high mountain flowing water', and praised again, "This move is also amazing!" After Yang Yizhi finished demonstrating the Mu Family Fist set, Wei Xiaobao said, "Very good, very good! Yang Dage, your martial art is indeed very profound. Of those martial art masters at the Prince Kang's mansion, ten of them against you alone, they still are not your match. In this short period of time, I won't be able to learn too much, perhaps I can learn only one or two moves that I can demonstrate in front of His Majesty. When His Majesty will summon martial art experts within the Palace to identify, do you think they can recognize the origin of this martial art?" While saying that, he moved his hands and feet in imitation of the ‘sweeping away a thousand army’ and 'high mountain flowing water' styles.

    Yang Yizhi happily said, "Gong-gong's comprehension of the ‘sweeping away a thousand army’ and 'high mountain flowing water' is very deep, when those experts see, they will know immediately that it is Mu Family Fist technique. Gong-gong has an outstanding intelligence, you can do it just by looking at it one time. Our Wu Family will be saved."

    Wu Yingxiong repeatedly bowed with cupped fist and said, "Hundreds of Wu Family members depend on Gong-gong's help to save our lives."

    Wei Xiaobao thought, "There are gold and silver mountains in Wu Sangui's household, I don't need to negotiate the price with him." Immediately he bowed to return the propriety and said, "We all are good friends. Xiao Wangye, why do you keep talking about benevolence and saving your lives, and thus considering me as an outsider? Besides, though I will try my best, I don't know whether it will be effective."

    "Yes, yes!" Wu Yingxiong repeatedly said.

    Wei Xiaobao rewrapped the bundle and tucked it on his side, he thought, "There's no hurry for me to give this bundle to him." Suddenly he remembered something; he said, "Xiao Wangye, His Majesty ordered me to ask you something: there is a government official from Yunnan who is coming to Beijing, a certain Lu Yifeng; do you know such person?"

    Wu Yingxiong was startled; he thought, "Lu Yifeng is just a petty officer [orig. 'mung bean and sesame seed petty officer'] who came to Beijing for an audience, but has not seen the Emperor yet, how did His Majesty know?" He said, "Lu Yifeng is a newly appointed county magistrate of Yunnan's Qujing prefecture, presently he is in Beijing, waiting to kowtow to His Holiness."

    [1] Yizhou and Liangpi mean 'one boat' and 'two farts', respectively.

    [2] His real name was Li Zicheng, a real historical character, the leader of peasant rebellion at the end of the Ming Dynasty, he called himself 'The Roaming King' (Chuang Wang).

  9. #89
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 12 - Part 7

    Wei Xiaobao said, "His Majesty ordered me to ask you: a few days ago that Lu Yifeng bullied common people in a restaurant, he tolerated his wicked servants beating people, I wonder if his temperament has improved recently?"

    To get Wu Sangui appointed him as the county magistrate of Qujing prefecture, Lu Yifeng had spent more than forty thousand taels in bribe, from which Wu Yingxiong had drawn his share of three thousand taels. Hearing what Wei Xiaobao said, he was shocked and busily said, "Humble officer will definitely give him a good lesson." Turning his head to Yang Yizhi he said, "Go get that Lu Yifeng, give him fifty flogging first before we speak further." To Wei Xiaobao he said, "Gong-gong, please report to His Majesty: humble officer Wu Sangui failed to understand people and has recommended unsuitable candidate, we ask His Majesty not to blame us. This Lu Yifeng will be deposed immediately, and forever will not be employed anymore; we ask that the Official of the Ministry of Appointments entrusts another able person."

    “Does he need to be punished that heavily?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

    Wu Yingxiong said, “This servant Lu Yifeng is audacious, he dared to usurp higher authority, his crime must not be tolerated indeed. Yizhi, beat him heavily for me.”

    “Yes!” Yang Yizhi replied.

    Wei Xiaobao mused, “I am afraid the life of this official surnamed Lu cannot be guaranteed.” He said, “Xiongdi is going to return to the Palace to see His Majesty, it would be best if I can demonstrate these two moves ‘sweeping away a thousand army’ and 'high mountain flowing water' as close to the original as possible.” Finished speaking, he took his leave and headed toward the door.

    Wu Yingxiong took out a large pouch from his sleeve pocket, which he presented with both hands and said, “Gui Gong-gong, your great kindness and great favor are not easy to repay, but I must show a little respect to Dolong Zongguan, Suo Daren, as well as numerous Imperial Bodyguards. Here is a tiny bit of my token of appreciation, I will have to bother Gui Gong-gong to pass it on to them on behalf of humble officer. If His Majesty asked, everybody will help put some good words for us, then the unjust treatment of the humble officers, father and son, will be wiped out.”

    Wei Xiaobao received the gift, he said with a laugh, “You want me to do a favor for you? This errand is not difficult to do.” He had been living in the Palace for more than a year, and had learned enough of court eunuch’s lingo and Beijing accent, so that not even half a part of Yangzhou accent was left. If right now he pretended to be Xiao Guizi, perhaps the blind Hai Laogong would not easily discover his masquerade.

    Wu Yingxiong and Yang Yizhi respectfully sent him off outside the mansion’s gate. On the sedan chair, Wei Xiaobao opened the pouch to take a look; unexpectedly it was banknotes worth a hundred thousand taels. “His granny,” he thought, “Laozi will take half as my share first,” and took fifty thousand taels and put it into his pocket. The remaining fifty thousand taels he returned to the pouch.

    Wei Xiaobao went to the Upper Study Room first to see Kangxi, reporting that the mission had been accomplished, that Wu Yingxiong had been informed that the Emperor was an enlightened sage, that the injustice against father and son had been clarified, and that they were grateful beyond description.

    Kangxi laughed and said, “We have given him a big scare this time.”

    Wei Xiaobao also laughed, “Only scared him till he piss in his pants,” he said, “Your servant has repeatedly warned him that this kind of matter will most likely happen again in the future, I told him to pass on to Wu Sangui that to repay your kindness, he has to be completely loyal and devoted in rendering his service to Your Majesty.” Kangxi repeatedly nodded.

    Wei Xiaobao continued, “After I thought that he is scared enough, I told him that the Emperor is able to see ten thousand li, that he examined the assassins’ martial art and found out that it belonged to the Mu Family rebel thieves. That Wu Yingxiong was startled but also happy, from his buttocks all the way to his eyes he was all smile, while did not stop praising Your Majesty’s sage-like brilliance.” Kangxi smile slightly.

    From his pocket Wei Xiaobao took out a pouch and said, “He was exceedingly grateful that he took a lot of banknotes, fifty thousand taels altogether, saying that ten thousand taels is for me, the other forty thousand taels is to be distributed to the Imperial Bodyguards who have exerted themselves last night. Your Majesty, look, we are indeed getting rich.”

    Those banknotes were of five-hundred-tael denomination, so it was a thick pack of one hundred notes. Kangxi laughed and said, “You are just a little kid, you won’t spend the entire ten thousand taels in your lifetime. The rest of the money you may distribute to the Imperial Bodyguards.”

    Wei Xiaobao mused, “Although His Majesty is an enlightened sage, there is no way he would know that I, Wei Xiaobao, still have several hundred thousand taels at home.” He said, “Your Majesty, I am with you, what else I am lacking? Why would I need this money? Your servant will serve you with devotion for the rest of my life, you are going to look after me. It would be better for all this fifty thousand taels to be distributed to the Imperial Bodyguards. I will tell them that it’s a reward from Your Majesty, why should we let Wu Yingxiong buy the hearts of the people?” At first Kangxi did not want to pretend he was giving rewards while in fact he was not, but hearing the words ‘buy the hearts of the people’, he could not help but was moved.

    Seeing Kangxi was hesitating without saying anything, Wei Xiaobao added, “Your Majesty, Wu Sangui sent his son to Beijing. The amount of gold and money he brings is indeed not small, as soon as he sees someone, he would give gifts, not necessarily with good intentions. From the ancient of times, all the gold, silver and jewels of the common people everywhere in your realm actually belong to you, the Emperor. But this old fellow Wu Sangui is extremely perverse, he treats Yunnan as his Wu family’s own.”

    Kangxi nodded and said, “You are right. You may say that this monetary reward is from me.”

    From the Upper Study Room, Wei Xiaobao went to the Imperial Bodyguards compound. To the Imperial Bodyguards Chief, Dolong he said, “Duo Zongguan, His Majesty instructed that those Imperial Bodyguards who set up meritorious deed in protecting the Palace last night are to be rewarded fifty thousand taels of silver.” Dolong was ecstatic, he quickly kneeled down to express his thanks for the reward. Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Right now His Majesty is very happy, why don’t you go yourself and say thanks?” While saying that, he handed the fifty thousand taels banknotes to him.

    Dolong followed Wei Xiaobao back to the Upper Study Room; he kneeled down and kowtowed to Kangxi and said, “Your Majesty bestowed the money, your servant Dolong and the Imperial Bodyguards thank you for the reward.” Kangxi laughed and nodded his head.

    Wei Xiaobao said, “His Majesty instructed: you must distribute these fifty thousand taels to those who have meritorious deed in killing the thieves, those who summoned up courage and determination and thus were wounded are to have a little bit more.”

    “Yes, yes,” Dolong said, “Your servant will obey the Emperor’s decree.”

    Kangxi thought, “Not only is Xiao Guizi loyal, he is not greedy either, it’s really hard to come by. Unexpectedly he really gives away all fifty thousand taels to the Imperial Bodyguards, without taking a single qian for himself.”

    Wei Xiaobao and Dolong withdrew together. Dolong pulled a stack of banknotes, ten thousand taels worth, and said with a laugh, “Gui Gong-gong, just consider this the Imperial Bodyguards’ filial piety, please take it and hand it over to the little Gong-gongs.”

    “Aha, Duo Zongguan,” Wei Xiaobao said, “By saying that, you do not consider me as a friend. In all my life, I, Xiao Guizi, most revere friends who are exceptionally skilful in martial arts. If His Majesty bestowed these fifty thousand taels to the civil officials, if I, Xiao Guizi, did not take ten thousand taels, I would at least take eight thousand. But since he bestowed it to you, Duo Zongguan, even if you share with me one tael, I can’t take it. I consider you as my good friend, so it’s only proper that you also consider me as your good friend.”

    Dolong laughed and said, “The Imperial Bodyguards brothers all say that among many Gong-gong with office duty in the Palace, Gui Gong-gong is the youngest, but reaching to friends the most, indeed it is a fully justified reputation.”

    “Duo Zongguan, I am asking you to investigate for me,” Wei Xiaobao said, “See if among the rebel thieves that were captured last night there is a certain Liu Yizhou. If there is one, we may find out from him the ins and outs[1] of the rebel thieves.”

    “Yes, yes!” Dolong promised, “The rebel thieves naturally will give us false names. I will investigate carefully.”

    Wei Xiaobao went back to his residence. As he arrived at the front door, he saw a little eunuch from the imperial kitchen was waiting by the pathway. The little eunuch came up to meet him and said in a low voice, “Gui Gong-gong, that Boss Qian is delivering another pig, this time it is called something like ‘bird’s nest ginseng pig’, he says he wants to show filial respect to Gong-gong. Right now he is waiting for Gong-gong’s arrival at the imperial kitchen.”

    Wei Xiaobao frowned; he thought, “That Fu Ling Hua Diao pig [see end of Chapter 9, beginning of Chapter 10] has not been properly taken care of, and now he is sending another ‘bird’s nest ginseng pig’. You think here in the Palace is a pig pen?” But since that man had already come, he could not think of a way to send him away.

    Arriving at the imperial kitchen, Wei Xiaobao saw Boss Qian’s beaming face as he said, “Gui Gong-gong, Xiao Ren’s Fu Ling Hua Diao pig has really done you unusually good, after Gui Gong-gong ate it, look, your spirit is clear and your chi bright, your complexion is ruddy. Xiaoren appreciates it that Gong-gong took care of it, so I send you a ‘bird’s nest ginseng pig’.” While saying that, he pointed toward a live pig by his side. This pig was covered in white hair; it looked very beautiful as it constantly moving in a circle inside the bamboo cage. Wei Xiaobao did not know what kind of trick Boss Qian was playing, so he only nodded.

    Boss Qian came closer and held Wei Xiaobao’s hand as he said, “Tsk, tsk tsk! After eating the Fu Ling Hua Diao pork, Gui Gong-gong’s pulse is strong, it is substantially different from before.” Wei Xiaobao felt a piece of paper in his hand, but since there were too many people around the imperial kitchen, he felt it was inconvenience to ask.

    Boss Qian said, “This bird’s nest ginseng pig’s feeding is not the same, please tell Gong-gong’s subordinates to feed distiller’s grain for ten days. Ten days later, Xiaoren will personally come over to prepare it and will have Gong-gong enjoy it.”

    Wei Xiaobao knitted his brows and said, “That Fu Ling Hua Diao pork has raised my internal heat, it is unbearably uncomfortable. Whatever ginseng pork, bird’s nest pork, Boss Qian, you’d better enjoy it yourself, I don’t want to eat it.”

    Boss Qian laughed heartily and said, “This is just Xiaoren’s way of showing a little bit of appreciation. Next time I won’t dare to bother Gong-gong anymore.” He then said several good wishes and took his leave.

    Wei Xiaobao thought there must be some characters written on that piece of paper, but he could not recognize any character even if it was the size of a watermelon. He instructed the kitchen manager to take care of the pig well, and then returned to his residence alone, thinking, “This Boss Qian is really smart. The first time he concealed a living person inside a dead pig and carried it into the Palace. The second time, if he delivered another dead pig into the Palace, unavoidably he will draw suspicions; therefore, he delivered a live pig and have it fed in the imperial kitchen. There is no pattern here, even if someone was originally suspicious, the suspicion would have gone. That’s right, in using trick to scam people, not only I have to give it thorough thought in advance, subsequently, I also have to patch any hole.” He also thought, “I have no choice but to ask Xiao Junzhu to have a look at this note. Damn it, why didn’t he simply tell me what he wants? Why did he have to write a damn note?”

    As he entered his room, Mu Jianping said, “Gui Dage, there was someone on the door, he was probably delivering the meal. Seeing the door was locked, he left without knocking.”

    “How did you know he was delivering our meal?” Wei Xiaobao asked, “Hey, you must be smelling the delicious aroma and were very hungry, weren’t you? Why didn’t you eat the cakes and the pastries?”

    Mu Jianping giggled and said, “We are really impolite, we already ate long ago.”

    Fang Yi said, “Gui … Gui Dage, have you …” Speaking to this point, she stammered slightly.

    “I have not found out anything about your Liu Shige,” Wei Xiaobao said, “The Imperial Bodyguards in the Palace said that they did not capture anybody by the surnamed of Liu.”

    “Thank you very much,” Fang Yi said in low voice, “I wonder if he has been killed by the Tatars. Besides, even if Liu Shige was captured, he would not say that his surname was Liu. We have agreed that he would pretend to have the surname of Xia. Wu Sangui’s son-in-law is surnamed Xia, Liu Shige could confess that that surnamed Xia man was his uncle.”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Won’t that make you Wu Sangui’s relative?”

    “He was only pretending,” Xiao Junzhu hastily said.

    Wei Xiaobao sighed and said, “But even if Miss Fang wanted to be the wife of Wu Sangui’s grandnephew, she could not. Let’s say that your Liu Shige has escaped out of the Palace, outside he is thinking about you, inside the Palace you are thinking about him. For the rest of your lives you would think about him, he would think about you, a pair of passionate older brother and older sister won’t be able to see each other, wouldn’t it be hard to bear?”

    Fang Yi’s face turned red as she said, “How can I live in the Palace for the rest of my life?”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “Once the young women entered the Palace, where can they see the day they can go out? A bashful flower obstructing the moon elder sister like you, for example, as soon as I, Xiao Guizi, saw you, I want to take you as my wife. If the Emperor saw you, it’s impossible if he did not bestow you the title Huang Hou Niang-niang [empress/imperial consort]. Miss Fang, I advise you to be the Huang Hou Niang-niang!”

    Fang Yi anxiously said, “I don’t want to talk too much to you. Everything you say always irritates me, you always tease me and make me worry.”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed. He handed over the note in his hand to Mu Jianping. “Xiao Junzhu,” he said, “Can you read this note?”

    Mu Jianping took the note and read, “Gaosheng Teahouse, Legend of Heroic Deeds. What is this?”

    Wei Xiaobao understood immediately, “Tian Di Hui people want to see me, they ask me to go to the teahouse to meet them.” He laughed and said, “It’s useless for you to be the Mu Family’s later generation, you don’t even know the ‘Legend of Heroic Deeds’?”

    “Of course I know the Legend of Heroic Deeds,” Mu Jianping said, “That is the story of Taizu Huangdi’s dragon rose as he founded the country.”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “There is a chapter called ‘Mu Wangye Subdued Yunnan with Three Arrows, Gui Gong-gong embraces beautiful women with his pair of hands’, have you heard about it?”

    Mu Jianping spat and said, “Our Qian Ning[2] Wangyeye pacified Yunnan, naturally it is recorded in the Legend of Heroic Deeds, but where did the Gui Gong-gong’s pair of hands … pair of hands come from?”

    With a straight face Wei Xiaobao said, “Are you saying that there is no chapter about ‘Gui Gong-gong embraces beautiful women with his pair of hands’?”

    “Of course not,” Mu Jianping said, “You are making it up.”

    “Let’s have a bet,” Wei Xiaobao said, “What if there is? What if there is not?”

    “I have heard the Legend of Heroic Deeds until I am very familiar with the stories,” Mu Jianping said, “I am sure there is not. You can bet anything. Fang Shijie, there is no such thing as the story he mentioned, is there?”

    Fang Yi had not answered, Wei Xiaobao already leaped into the bed and crawled into the quilt, with shoes and all, and then he lay down in between the two women. With his left hand he embraced Fang Yi’s neck, with his right hand he embraced Mu Jianping’s waist. He said, “I say, there is!”

    “Ah!” Fang Yi and Mu Jianping cried out in alarm, but it was too late for them to evade, Wei Xiaobao had already held them firmly in his arms. Mu Jianping stretched out her right hand and pushed him as hard as she could. Wei Xiaobao seized this opportunity to lean sideways and stole a kiss on Fang Yi’s mouth. “Smells good!” he praised.

    Fang Yi was about to struggle, but as soon as she moved ever so slightly, she felt a shot of severe pain from the wound on the pit of her stomach and her broken rib. With the back of her left hand she slapped Wei Xiaobao’s face. Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Murder of your own husband! Murder of your own husband!” Rolling down, he jumped out of the quilt, with Mu Jianping still in his arm. He also kissed her and praised, “Smells as good!” Laughing heartily, he snatched a bundle of his clothes, dashed out of the room, and locked the door behind him.

    [1] Orig. ‘mountain has a connecting pulse throughout like a dragon’, an idiom from fengshui, meaning the sequence of events, cause and effects, the whys and wherefores, where something comes from and where it goes … you get the idea.

    [2] Guizhou and Ningxia, respectively. Here Mu Jianping said Wang Yeye (grandfather king).

  10. #90
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 13 - Part 1

    Chapter 13 - Overturning family and heaven by borrowed hand, seizing prosperity and decline, replacing the old with the new.
    (Translated by Foxs)


    Three men were tied to the wooden pillars, their naked upper bodies had already been badly mutilated by flogging. One was a big man with beard like a young horned-dragon, the other two were twenty-something young men, one was fair-skinned, the other had tattoo all over his body, he had a fierce looking tiger head tattooed on his chest.

  11. #91
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    Default Chapter 13 - Part 2

    Wei Xiaobao’s residence was west of Qian Qing Gate [Gate of Heavenly Purity], south of the southern warehouse, to the side of the Imperial Catering Department. Heading north, winding around the Yang Xin Hall [Hall of Mental Cultivation], Wei Xiaobao turned abruptly to the west, walking passed Western Three Places, Yang Hua [Magnificent Nurturing(?)] Gate, Shou An [Longevity Peace] Gate, to the north passed Shou An Palace, by the side of Ying Hua [Heroic Splendor] Palace Hall, turning east passing Xi Tie [Western Iron] Gate, and then turning north again out of Shen Wu Gate [Gate of Divine Might]. Shen Wu Gate was the Imperial Palace’s back door, as he walked out the Shen Wu Gate, he was practically out of the Imperial Palace, and he went straight away to the Gao Sheng Teahouse.

    As soon as he sat down, the teahouse proprietor served him tea. He saw Gao Yanchao was slowly walking in and signaling him with his eyes. Wei Xiaobao nodded. When he saw Gao Yanchao was leaving the teahouse, he took several sips of the tea, then threw a coin on the table, while saying, “The story today is not worth hearing.” And then he leisurely strolled out. He saw Gao Yanchao was waiting on a street corner. Walking several steps further, he saw two sedan chairs.

    Gao Yanchao let Wei Xiaobao sit on one, while he walked behind the sedan chairs for a short section of the street. After making sure that nobody followed them, he climbed into the other sedan chair.

    The porters ran as fast as flying. After travelling for the time needed to cook rice, they stopped. Wei Xiaobao noticed that the sedan chairs stopped in front of a tiny courtyard house. He followed Gao Yanchao in. As soon as they entered the main gate, he saw Tian Di Hui brothers came out to welcome him by bowing and cupping their fists. This time Li Lishi, Guan Anji, Qi Biaoqing and the others had all rushed in from Tianjin, Baoding, and other places. In addition, Fan Gang, Feng Jizhong, Priest Xuanzhen, as well as Boss Qian were also present.

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and asked, “Qian Laoban [Boss Qian/Money], what is your real honored surname and great given name?”

    “I don’t dare,” Boss Qian replied, “Subordinate’s real surname is Qian, my real name is Laoben, ‘ben’ from ‘ben lai’ [originally/initial/at first], not ‘ban’ from Laoban [boss], the idea is that doing business will eclipse the initial capital.”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed heartily and said, “You are very astute, if you are really doing business, you will turn other people’s initial capital to be your profit.”

    Qian Laoben smiled and said, “Wei Xiangzhu, you praise me too much!”

    They let Wei Xiaobao walked ahead to the main hall and be seated. Guan Anji was most impatient, he said, “Wei Xiangzhu, please look at this.” While saying that, he handed over a large gilded red card, filled with several lines of characters written in black ink.

    Wei Xiaobao did not take it; he said, “These characters, they recognize me, but I do not have any friendship with them, so this is the first time that we meet each other, I do not recognize them.”

    Qian Laoben said, “Wei Xiangzhu, it is an invitation, we are invited to have dinner.”

    “That’s very good,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Who has done us the honor?”

    “The name on the card is Mu Jiansheng,” Qian Laoben said.

    Wei Xiaobao was startled. “Mu Jiansheng?” he asked.

    Qian Laoben said, “He is the Xiao Gongye [young duke] of the Mu Palace.”

    Wei Xiaobao nodded, “Fu Ling Hua Diao pig’s Gege,” he said.

    “Precisely,” Qian Laoben said.

    “Is he inviting all of us to come?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

    Qian Laoben said, “On the invitation, he is writing very politely: inviting Green Wood Hall’s Wei Xiangzhu, to lead Tian Di Hui’s heroes to come for a banquet. It is tonight, at the South Bean Sprout Lane of Chaoyangmen district in Beijing.”

    “This time it’s not at the Willow Tree Lane?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

    “That’s right,” Qian Laoben replied, “Doing business in Beijing, it’s only right to change the lodging place frequently.”

    “What do you think he wants?” Wei Xiaobao asked, “Do you think they would put damn drug in the food and drink?”

    Li Lishi said, “It is reasonable to say that, one: Mu Palace has such a big reputation in Jianghu, two: with his capacity as the young duke, Mu Jiansheng is a great personality who stand and sit at the same level as our Zongduozhu, they could not possibly resort to this kind of third-rate shady business. However, there is no such thing as a good meeting, there is no such thing as a good banquet; there is no harm in guarding against Wei Xiangzhu’s concern.”

    “Shall we go to the feast or not?” Wei Xiaobao asked, “Humph, humph, Xuanwei ham, Guo Qiao rice noodle, Yunnan’s steamed chicken, those are enough to make a festive occasion.”

    Everybody else looked at each other in dismay, nobody made any noise. After a long while, Guan Anji said, “We all want to ask Wei Xiangzhu to decide.”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Nice wine, good food, everybody will have some in your tummy tonight. If you want just average, peaceful dinner, let me play the host, we can go to a restaurant. After dinner, we can play Pai Gow and gamble, or call on some pretty girls, Xiongdi will foot all the bills. But if you all want to save my money, then we all go to harass that man surnamed Mu.” He sounded so magnanimous, but actually he was being very sly; whether they were going or not, he did not make the decision.

    Guan Anji said, “Wei Xiangzhu is inviting the brothers to eat, drink and be merry, indeed that is the happiest thing, but if we did not answer the surnamed Mu’s invitation, Tian Di Hui’s reputation will unavoidably take a dip.”

    “So you say we should go?” Wei Xiaobao asked, his gaze swept Li Lishi, Fan Gang, Qi Biaoqing, Xuanzhen, Feng Jizhong, Qian Laoben, and Gao Yanchao’s faces. He saw everybody was slowly nodding his head.

    Wei Xiaobao said, “If everybody say we should go, then we’ll go eat his food, drink his wine. We’ll counter soldiers with arms, counter water with an earth weir. When the tea is served, we’ll hold out our hands, when the rice is served, we open our mouths; but what if poison is being served? We’ll simply swallow and take the damn poison into our bellies. It is called ‘hero does not fear death, those who fear death are not heroes’.”

    Li Lishi said, “We’ll have to be careful, always on the lookout for some clues. Let’s discuss it over, some of us will drink tea, some won’t drink, some will drink wine, some won’t drink, some won’t eat meat, some won’t eat fish. Even if they put poison, we won’t let them catch everything in one net. But if everybody did not do anything, we would be their laughingstock.”

    After reaching decision, they chatted for a while. When it was close to the ninth hour [3-5pm], Wei Xiaobao took off his eunuch uniform and took the appearance of a pampered son of an official. He rode on a sedan chair, with everybody else crowded around him as they walked toward the South Bean Sprout Lane. Wei Xiaobao mused, “In the Palace, day in and day out I am always very scared and on edge, afraid that the old wh0re will come to kill me. How can it be compared to the free and unfettered, happy life of the Xiangzhu of the Green Wood Hall? It’s just that Shifu ordered me to be a spy in the Palace. If I get out on my own initiative, I might not be the Xiangzhu anymore, then I don’t know if I can keep my little life. I guess we’ll just have to ride the donkey and read the songbook; we’ll wait and see!”

    The South Bean Sprout Lane was less than two li away. The sedan chair had just stopped, they already heard the beating of drums and the sound of bamboo flute. Wei Xiaobao got out of the sedan chair and heard the sound of suona[1]; he thought, “Are they having a wedding? It’s so lively.”

    He saw the main gate of a large house with a courtyard opened, a dozen or so men in uniform stood outside the door to welcome them. A young man of about twenty five or twenty six stood on the front, his stature was tall and slim, with exuberant heroic spirit. The young man said, “Zaixia Mu Jiansheng, respectfully welcome Wei Xiangzhu’s honorable self.”

    These days Wei Xiaobao had made friends with royalties, nobilities and high-ranking officials, so he was accustomed with this kind of etiquette and the respectful aspect of greeting each other. As the saying goes, “Residence alters the manner, nurture alters the body.” He was with the Emperor every day, he constantly met princes, nobles, high officials, and generals, they were almost nothing to him; as a result, although he was young, he had already automatically acquired dignified air. Although Mu Jiansheng had quite a reputation, he could not be compared to people like Prince Kang or Wu Yingxiong. Presently he cupped his hand in salute and said, “Xiao Gongye is overly courteous, Zaixia does not dare to accept.” Seizing up Mu Jiansheng’s appearance, Wei Xiaobao noticed his countenance was rather dark; in general, there was a faint resemblance between his facial features and those of Mu Jianping’s.

    Mu Jiansheng was already aware that Tian Di Hui’s leader in Beijing, Wei Xiangzhu, was a child, he also heard from Bai Hanfeng that this child’s martial art skill was very low, and that he was a smooth talker, in short, a little rascal. Presumably he could be a Xiangzhu only because of his Shifu, Chen Jinnan’s support. But presently he saw Wei Xiaobao’s calm demeanor, his unrestrained and indifferent manner, and thought, “Perhaps this child has a little bit of martial art school background after all.” Immediately he led them all in.

    The chairs in the hall were covered in red satin sheath, with brocade cushions on them. Each one was assigned his respective side, as the host and the guest. 'Divine Physician Hermit' Su Gang, Ban Hanfeng, and about a dozen or so men stood behind Mu Jiansheng with hands hanging by their sides.

    Mu Jiansheng and Li Lishi, Guan Anji and the others introduced themselves one by one, they all exchanged conventional pleasantries like ‘I have been looking forward to meeting you for a long time’ and so on and so forth. Li Lishi and the others thought, “This Xiao Gongye of the Mu Family does not show arrogance at all, the way he speaks actually follows Jianghu’s customs.”

    The servants served fragrant tea, the musicians by the hall entrance started to play again; it was a grand ceremonious courtesy in welcoming honored guests. Amid the sound of music, Mu Jiansheng gave his order, “Let the banquet begin!” while inviting everybody to enter the inner hall. His subordinates promptly closed the hall door behind them.

    There was a large Eight-Immortal table[2] in the middle, draped in embroidered table cloth, with two smaller tables on the left and right. Although the utensils on the table were not as grand and extravagant as the ones in Prince Kang’s mansion, they were quite exquisite. Mu Jiansheng bowed slightly and said, “Wei Xiangzhu, please take the seat of honor.”

    Looking at the current situation, Wei Xiaobao knew this seat of honor was prepared especially for him. “This time,” he said, “We have no choice but to be impolite.” Mu Jiansheng took the seat on his right-hand side as the host.

    After everybody was seated, Mu Jiansheng said, “Please invite Shifu.”

    Su Gang and Bai Hanfeng went into the inner chamber and reappeared with an old man. Mu Jiansheng stood up to welcome him and said, “Shifu, Wei Xiangzhu of Tian Di Hui’s Green Wood Hall honored us with his presence today, he truly gives us a lot of face.” Turning toward Wei Xiaobao, he said, “Wei Xiangzhu, this is Liu Shifu, the benevolent master under whom Zaixia has studied.”

    Wei Xiaobao stood up, cupping his fist across his chest he said, “It’s an honor to meet you at last.” This old man was big and tall, his face ruddy, with long white beard hanging from his face; he must be over seventy years old, but he was full of vigor, his eyes were shining lively.

    The old man’s gaze swept on Wei Xiaobao once, then he laughed and said, “Recently Tian Di Hui’s reputation is growing …” His voice was really loud, the words he just said sounded like an ordinary person shouting, “… it’s because a large number of heroic people with talent come forth. Wei Xiangzhu is this young, truly a rare genius of the Wulin world.”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “I am young, that is true, but am not heroic person with talent, let alone a genius; in fact, I am only a fool. That day my hand was twisted by Bai Shifu, I was unable to move a single step, even the cry ‘Mommy!’ almost came out. Zaixia’s martial art is really poor and extremely ordinary. Ha ha, it’s laughable! Laughable, ha ha!”

    The others were stunned to hear this, their countenances changed. Bai Hanfeng’s expression was even queerer.

    The old man burst out laughing, and then said, “Wei Xiangzhu is frank, it is indeed a hero’s true quality. Lao Fu [the old man] may have 30% admiration on you.”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “30% admiration is a bit too much. 10% or even 5%, as long as you don’t regard Zaixia as hopeless little beggar, little acrobat or little monkey, that is enough.”

    The old man burst out in laughter again. He said, “Wei Xiangzhu loves to crack jokes.”

    Priest Xuanzhen said, “Senior’s prestige has shaken the southern sky, in Wulin you are known as Iron Back Blue Dragon, Old Hero Liu, is that right?”

    The old man laughed and said, “That’s right, Priest Xuanzhen actually know the old man’s lowly name.”

    Priest Xuanzhen’s heart shivered, “I haven’t introduced myself, he has already known my name. The Mu Family this time is very well-prepared. The Iron Back Blue Dragon Liu Dahong has made his name a long time ago, I heard even Mu Tianbo also had deep respect to him. When the Qing army attacked Yunnan, with all his might Liu Dahong rescued the children of Mu Family, and so Mu Jiansheng became the first disciple whom he personally teaches, and other than Mu Jiansheng himself, he became Mu Palace’s number one character.” Thereupon Priest Xuanzhen bowed and said, “In those days Old Hero Liu put the three tyrants of Nujiang[3] to their deaths and killed Qing troops at Tengchong, your chivalry spread out all over the world. When the younger generation and young men mentioned the Old Hero, nobody is not awed with respect.”

    Liu Dahong said, “Hey, hey, that was the matter of many years ago, why do you have to mention it?” But his countenance looked very pleased.

    “Shifu,” Mu Jiansheng said, “You, Senior, accompany Wei Xiangzhu over here.”

    “Alright!” Liu Dahong said, and sat down next to Wei Xiaobao.

    The side facing outward of this Eight-Immortal table was empty. On the head position were Wei Xiaobao and Liu Dahong, on the left were Li Lishi and Guan Anji, on the right were Mu Jiansheng and an empty seat of honor. The Tian Di Hui warriors were wondering in their hearts, “Which formidable character your Mu Palace is going to invite next?”

    They heard Mu Jiansheng said, “Help Xu Shifu out to sit, let these good friends see him and set their hearts at ease.”

    “Yes!” Su Gang responded. He went in and returned supporting someone in his hand.

    As soon as Li Lishi and the others saw the man, they were pleasantly surprised, and called out together, “Xu San Ge [Third Older Brother]!” This man had a bent back, he was none other than the Eight-Armed Ape Xu Tianchuan. His complexion was wax yellow, apparently he had not recovered from his injury, but his life was obviously not in danger. The Tian Di Hui warriors crowded around him and greeted him noisily, they could not hide their delight.

    Mu Jiansheng pointed at the seat above his own and said, “Xu Shifu, please sit right here.”

    Xu Tianchuan took a step forward, he bowed and cupped his fist toward Wei Xiaobao and said, “Wei Xiangzhu, how are you?”

    Wei Xiaobao cupped his fist to return the salute and said, “Xu San Ge, how are you? The medicinal plaster business is not too good lately?”

    Xu Tianchuan sighed and said, “Practically there is no business. Subordinate was captured by Wu Sangui’s dogs and narrowly lost my old life. Fortunately Mu Family’s Xiao Gongye and Old Hero Liu appeared to rescue me from danger.”

    The Tian Di Hui warriors were stunned. “Xu San Ge,” Fan Gang said, “Turns out the affair that day was that traitor Wu Sangui’s people’s doing.”

    [1] Chinese shawm, a double-reed woodwind instrument, similar to modern day Oboe.

    [2] An old fashioned square table to seat eight people.

    [3] Nujiang river, south of Tibet and northwest of Yunnan, the upper reaches of Salween river, forming border of Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand.

  12. #92
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 13 - Part 3

    “Exactly,” Xu Tianchuan said, “Those bunch of traitors broke into the Return Of Spring Drug Store, seized me, and that dog thief Lu … Lu Yifeng cursed me and pasted a medicinal plaster on my mouth, saying that he wanted to starve me, and old monkey, to death.”

    Hearing that Lu Yifeng was involved in this, they knew it must have had happened just like he said. Fan Gang, Priest Xuanzhen and the others turned toward Su Gang and Bai Hanfeng and said, “That day we have offended you, yet the heroes take yi qi very seriously, our Tian Di Hui can’t thank you enough.”

    “We don’t dare,” Su Gang said, “We only followed Xiao Gongye’s order, we do not dare to claim credit for ourselves.” Bai Hanfeng snorted; obviously the rescue of Xu Tianchuan was greatly against his wish.

    Guan Anji said, “After Xu San Ge was captured, we went looking for him everywhere, but did not find any clue; obviously our anxiety needs not be mentioned. Unexpectedly your honored Palace has rescued Xu San Ge, making us quite admire you.”

    Su Gang said, “The Yunnan’s dog officials under Wu Sangui are Mu Family’s archenemy, naturally we always follow them up very closely. It’s not strange that we found out about this dog official offending Xu San Ge.”

    Wei Xiaobao thought, “This Xiao Gongye is very astute, his Meizi is being locked up by me, he rescued old man Xu first so that he can ask me to release his Meizi. I’d better pretend I don’t understand, see what else he is going to say.” He said to Xu Tianchuan, “Xu San Ge, you were heavily injured by Bai Er Xia, the strength of his hands was very fierce, are you going to live? You are not going to return to heaven, are you?”

    Xu Tianchuan said, “Bai Er Xia was acting with leniency that day, after recuperating these past several days, subordinate feels a lot better.” Bai Hanfeng glowered at Wei Xiaobao, but Wei Xiaobao simply chuckled, as if he was completely oblivious.

    The servants poured the wine and served the dishes, it was a very sumptuous banquet. Tian Di Hui warriors thought that since the Mu Family had rescued Xu Tianchuan, and with the presence of renowned old hero such as the Iron Back Blue Dragon Liu Dahong, they could not possibly put poison in the food; all anxiety had left their hearts, they drank the wine and ate the dishes to their hearts’ content.

    Liu Dahong drank three cups of wine; stroking his beard he said, “Brothers[1], within the capital district[2], which brother is in charge of your precious society?”

    Li Lishi said, “In our humble society in the capital district, the one with the most revered position is Wei Xiangzhu.”

    Liu Dahong nodded. “Very good, very good!” he said, and drank another cup of wine. He asked, “But I wonder if this little brother is able to somehow take responsibility in the dispute between your precious Society and our Family?”

    Laoyezi[3],” Wei Xiaobao said, “Whatever instruction you have, there is no harm in telling us here. I, Wei Xiaobao, am small in stature and have narrow shoulder. Small matter, I can take care of 10% or 5%, big matter may crush me flat.”

    The Tian Di Hui and Mu Palace warriors could not help but frowning slightly; they thought, “This child talk hoodlum talk; as soon as he opens his mouth, he speaks like a rascal, not like a hero or a warrior talks.”

    Liu Dahong said, “If you cannot take responsibility, while we cannot simply let the matter drop, then we will have no choice but to have little brother pass on to your revered master, asking Chen Zongduozhu to rush over and deal with it.”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “What is it that Laoyezi wanted me to pass on to my Shifu? Just write a letter, and we will deliver it to him.”

    “Hey, hey,” Liu Dahong laughed, “This matter concerns the death of Bai Hansong, Bai Xiongdi, in the hands of Xu San Ye [third master]. I wonder how we are going to settle this, I want to ask Chen Zongduozhu to say a few words about it.”

    Xu Tianchuan suddenly sprang up and boldly said, “Mu Xiao Gongye, Old Hero Liu, you have snatched me back to life from the hands of the traitors, you have spared me from the humiliation from those wicked men, Zaixia is deeply grateful. Bai Da Xia was accidentally injured under Zaixia’s hands. Zaixia will pay a life for a life, my old life to compensate his; why would you make things difficult for Chen Zongduozhu and Wei Xiangzhu? Fan Xiongdi, let me use your blade.” While saying that, he held out his right hand toward Fan Gang. His meaning was very obvious, he wanted to cut his own throat right there and then to bring this contentious issue to completion.

    “Slow down, slow down!” Wei Xiaobao said, “Xu San Ge, please sit down, don’t be this impatient. You are already old, how come you still have such temper? I am the Xiangzhu of the Green Wood Hall, am I not? If you do not obey my order, you are not giving me a face at all.”

    In the Tian Di Hui, ‘not following order’ was a major offense, Xu Tianchuan hastily bowed down and said, “Xu Tianchuan understands his offense, I am obeying Wei Xiangzhu’s order.”

    Wei Xiaobao nodded. “Now that’s only proper,” he said, “Bai Da Xia is dead, nothing we can do about it. Even if Xu San Ge pay with your own life, human’s life cannot be transferred. No matter what it is a lose-lose situation, it’s not a good business sense at all.”

    Everybody’s gaze was fixed on his face, nobody knew what nonsense he was going to say next. Tian Di Hui warriors were especially anxious, they all thought, “Our Society’s reputation in Wulin simply cannot be ruined by this ‘do-not-understand-anything’ little Xiangzhu. If he continues speaking rubbish and this matter is known throughout the Jianghu, we won’t have any face left to see other people in the future.”

    “Xiao Gongye,” they heard Wei Xiaobao continue, “This time from Yunnan you come to Beijing, do you only bring along these several friends? It seems like a little bit is missing, is that right?”

    “Humph,” Mu Jiansheng snorted and asked, “What is Wei Xiangzhu saying?”

    “Nothing,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “Xiao Gongye is such a respectable figure, you are totally different from me, Wei Xiaobao. You came to the Capital, if you don’t have a bit more escorts, and you are not being careful, some might be arrested by the Tatars’ running dogs; won’t that be greatly not worthwhile?”

    Mu Jiansheng raised his long eyebrows as he said, “It’s not that easy for the Tatars’ running dogs to get me.”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Xiao Gongye’s martial art is astonishing, in this world … hey, hey … perhaps very few people can be your match, naturally the Tatars won’t be able to catch you. It’s just that … it’s just that not necessarily the rest of the friends from Mu Palace would have Xiao Gongye’s level of skill. If the Tatars are leading away a goat in passing, taking away an ox with hands behind their backs, they were inviting several friends over to their place, that won’t be too amusing.”

    While Wei Xiaobao was giggling and talking frivolously, Mu Jiansheng had been listening with calm face. When Wei Xiaobao finished, he said, “Wei Xiangzhu, are you mocking Zaixia?” When he spoke those words, his expression became even more unsightly.

    “No, no, I did not,” Wei Xiaobao said, “In all my life, I have always been bullied by others, I have never bullied other people. Others have grabbed my hand, look, the black and blue has not gone yet, it was so painful that I hovered between life and death. This Bai Er Xia, hey, hey, his hand strength is really extraordinary. Those two moves, ‘sweeping away a thousand army’ and 'high mountain flowing water' are amazing, surely they will be effective to be used to rescue your friends that are captured by the Tatars. No matter what, you will win a victory on raising the flag, it will be an instant success.”

    Bai Hanfeng’s countenance turned ashen, he was about to speak, but in the end he struggled to endure it. Liu Dahong shot a look at Mu Jiansheng before saying, “Xiao Xiongdi, your speech is immeasurably tall and deep. We don’t quite understand it.”

    Laoyezi is too polite,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Immeasurably low and shallow is possible, but immeasurably tall and deep? I do not dare to accept. It is extremely low and shallow, extremely low and shallow.”

    Liu Dahong said, “Xiao Xiongdi is saying that some people from our Mu Palace were arrested by the Tatars, I wonder what you mean by that?”

    “I don’t have the slightest meaning,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “Xiao Wangye, Liu Laoyezi, my drinking capacity is immeasurably low and shallow, most likely it’s because I have drunk the wine that I talked nonsense; damn it, I must not say anything.”

    “Humph,” Mu Jiansheng snorted, he was trying hard to control his anger. He said, “Turns out Wei Xiangzhu was only chatting to kill time.”

    Xiao Gongye,” Wei Xiaobao said, “You want to chat to kill time? Have you taken a stroll around Beijing?”

    “What do you mean?” Mu Jiansheng’s voice was threatening.

    “Beijing is very big,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “Your Kunming in Yunnan is not as big as Beijing, is it?”

    Mu Jiansheng sounded angrier. “What do you mean?” he shouted.

    Hearing Wei Xiaobao was rambling incoherently, was getting more and more unreasonable, Guan Anji interrupted, “Beijing is very beautiful, it’s a pity it is being occupied by the Tatars. We, people with slight courage and uprightness, are angry and full of grievances.”

    Wei Xiaobao ignored his remark, he kept rambling, “Xiao Gongye, you invited me to drink wine, Zaixia does not have anything to repay you. When you have a spare time, I’ll take you for a stroll around Beijing. With a friend guiding your way, you won’t go astray. Otherwise, if you rush and wander aimlessly, and not being careful, you might enter the Imperial Palace. Although Xiao Gongye has high level of martial art, it might not be too convenient for you.”

    Liu Dahong said, “Xiao Xiongdi, there must be another meaning beyond your words. If you regard me as a friend, may I ask that you speak a little bit clearer?”

    “I can’t speak any clearer than this,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Friends from the Mu Palace all have high level of martial art. Those moves, ‘sweeping away a thousand army’ and 'high mountain flowing water', nothing is more formidable than those. It’s a pity that within the Beijing’s city wall, everything is unfamiliar. When you roam around the street in the depth of the night, you can’t look everything clearly; confused and muddleheaded, you might end up entering the Forbidden City.”

    Liu Dahong shot Mu Jianzheng another look; he asked Wei Xiaobao, “What do you mean?”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “I heard there are so many gates and so many palaces in the Forbidden City, if you walked in carelessly, without the Emperor or Empress Dowager to show the way, it is so easy for you to get lost, and then you won’t be able to get out forever; it has happened before. Zaixia does not have enough face, I don’t know if the Emperor or Empress Dowager will have a free time to show me around, daytime or nighttime. Perhaps Mu Palace’s Xiao Gongye has a lot of face, your subordinate friends may bring Xiao Gongye’s reputation and may scare the young Emperor and the Empress Dowager, that old wh0re, away. It’s really hard to say.”

    Hearing him calling the Empress Dowager ‘the old wh0re’, everybody was quite amused. Guan Anji, Qi Biaoqing, and the others could not help laughing. In his belly, Wei Xiaobao often cursed the Empress Dowager as ‘the old wh0re’, unexpectedly this time, in front of a big crowd of people, he was able to say it out loud; the delight in his heart was unspeakable.

    Liu Dahong said, “The people under Xiao Gongye’s leadership are all cautious, they can’t possibly enter the Imperial Palace recklessly. I heard that traitor Wu Sangui’s son, Wu Yingxiong, is also in Beijing. He might send people into the Imperial Palace to do some shady business, we don’t know.”

    Wei Xiaobao nodded, “Liu Laoyezi is right,” he said, “Zaixia has a friend with whom I play dice, he is a servant to the Imperial Bodyguards in the Palace. He said that they have captured several assassins in the Palace last night, the assassins confessed that they are Xiao Gongye of Mu Palace’s subordinates …”

    “What?” Mu Jiansheng was shocked. His right hand trembled, the wine cup in his hand fell down, ‘crash!’ it broke into several pieces.

    Wei Xiaobao said, “At first I was convinced, thinking that the Mu Family is a greatly devoted subject of the Great Ming, they must have sent some people to assassinate the Tatar Emperor, indeed … indeed that is the conduct of a great hero and warrior. But now, listening to Liu Laoyezi, I know that they were the subordinates of that traitor Wu Sangui, we must never spare them. I will go to that friend immediately and tell him to think of a way to fix those assassins. Damn it, the subordinates of big traitor, what good are they? I must have them suffer some more.”

    Liu Dahong said, “Xiao Xiongdi, what is your friend’s honored surname and great given name? Which post does he hold in the Tatars’ Palace?”

    Wei Xiaobao shook his head and said, “He is only a little servant to the Imperial Bodyguards, sweeping the floor, making them tea, cleaning their chamber pots, it’s really embarrassing just to mention him. Others call him Lai Li Tou Xiao Sanzi[4]. What honored surname and great given name? Those assassins are being tied up, originally I was going to ask Lai Li Tou Xiao Sanzi to sneak something good for them to eat. But now that Liu Laoyezi said that they are the traitor’s men, I am going to tell him to take a knife and poke several holes on their thighs, so that those turtle bastards cannot escape.”

    “I was just guessing,” Liu Dahong said, “I cannot ascertain. But since they dared to enter the Palace to assassinate the Emperor, they must be real great hero. If Wei Xiangzhu can ask your noble friend to look after one or two of them, that is also showing the yi qi of Jianghu.”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “This Lai Li Tou Xiao Sanzi is very good to me, when he lost in gambling, I always lend him ten taels, eight taels, and I have never asked him to pay me back. Whatever instruction Xiao Gongye and Liu Laoyezi have, I will ask Xiao Sanzi to do it for you, he won’t dare to make excuses.”

    Liu Dahong let out a relieved sigh, he said, “In that case, I wonder if you could tell me how many assassins were captured, and what their names are. Those assassins’ courage is not small, we admire them very much, at present I wonder if they have already suffered very much. If your precious Society can inquire for us, Zaixia will be very indebted to Wei Xiangzhu.”

    Wei Xiaobao struck his own chest and said, “That’s easy. Too bad those assassins are not Xiao Gongye’s subordinate brothers; otherwise, I will try to get one out and hand him over to Xiao Gongye, a life for a life, then the matter of Xu San Ge accidentally harmed Bai Da Xia can be written off in one stroke.”

    Liu Dahong turned his head to look at Mu Jiansheng; he nodded slowly. Mu Jiansheng said, “We don’t know who those assassins are, but since they dared to assassinate the Tatar Emperor, they are men with lofty ideals, our compatriots in fighting the Qing restoring the Ming. Wei Xiangzhu, if you can find a way to save them, regardless of whether you will succeed or not, Mu Jiansheng will be eternally grateful. Naturally the matter of Xu Sanye and Bai Dage needs not be mentioned anymore.”

    Wei Xiaobao turned to look at Bai Hanfeng and said, “Xiao Gongye won’t mentioned it, but I am afraid Bai Er Xia is not willing to let the matter drop. Next time he will grab my hand again and crush it until I cry; now that will be very upsetting.”

    Bai Hanfeng suddenly stood up and said loud and clear, “If Wei Xiangzhu can rescue our … our … can rescue those chivalrous patriots who have fallen into the enemy’s hands, and the one surnamed Bai offended Wei Xiangzhu, I will cut off my own hand as my apology to Wei Xiangzhu.”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed. “No need, no need,” he said, “You give me your hand, what shall I do with it? Besides, that Lai Li Tou brother of mine has no skill whatsoever to save people in the Palace, so it will be very hard to say. These men have come to assassinate the Emperor, that was a major criminal offense, I don’t know how many fetters and shackles are binding their bodies, I also don’t know how many guards are watching over them. I said I was going to save people, I was only bragging; just consider we all are chatting to kill the time.”

    Mu Jiansheng said, “Naturally we know that entering the Imperial Palace to save people is extremely difficult, we do not dare to hope for any success; but as long as Wei Xiangzhu is willing to give your all in trying, it does not matter if you succeed nor not, you can get them out or not, everybody will be grateful all the same.” After a short pause, he added, “There is one more thing, my sister suddenly went missing the other day, Zaixia is very concerned. Tian Di Hui friends’ network of friends in the Capital is extensive, your informers numerous; if you could help us inquire around and find a way to rescue her, Zaixia simply can’t thank you enough.”

    [1] Orig. ‘Lao di’ – old younger brother. Also in subsequent paragraphs. Liu Dahong always refer to Tian Di Hui people as ‘lao di’.

    [2] Orig. Jing Cheng Zhili, i.e. Ming and Qing dynasty provinces directly administered by Beijing, including Beijing, Tianjin, most of Hebei, Henan, and part of Shandong.

    [3] Lit. Old Master. The online text has ‘Laobobo’ – Old Uncle (someone older than one’s own father), or Grandpa, a polite form of address for old man.

    [4] Lit. ‘scabies/skin disease dysentery little third’. Xiao Sanzi can also mean ‘the other man (or woman), someone who is romantically involved with married woman/man.

  13. #93
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 13 - Part 4

    “That’s easy,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Xiao Gongye may put your hundred and twenty hearts at ease. Very well, we have drunk enough wine, I am going to look for that Lai Li Tou Xiao Sanzi to talk it over. Damn it, I’ll play two rounds with him and make him bankrupt.” He put out his hand and groped something from his pocket and threw it onto the Eight-Immortal table. Surprisingly, it was four dice. The dice rolled for a moment, then four red dots faced upwards. Wei Xiaobao clapped and said, “Success across the board, success across the board [lit. ‘Hall full of red’], it’s extraordinary good luck! Ay, it would be good if they all were not beheaded, not killed that the hall is full of red.” Everybody looked at each other with changed expression, they were completely stunned.

    Wei Xiaobao picked up the dice, cupped his fist and said, “Thank you for your hospitality, we are taking our leave. Xu San Ge is coming back with us, can he?”

    “Wei Xiangzhu is too polite,” Mu Jiansheng said, “Zaixia will send Wei Xiangzhu, Xu Sanye, and Tian Di Hui friends off.”

    And thus Wei Xiaobao, Xu Tianchuan, Li Lishi, Guan Anji, and the others left the banquet tables and walked out. Mu Jiansheng, Liu Dahong and the others sent them off outside the main gate; they did not return back to the house until Wei Xiaobao had climbed onto the sedan chair.

    The warriors returned to the small courtyard house. Guan Anji was most impatient, he asked, “Wei Xiangzhu, were there assassins in the Palace last night? Looking at their expression, most likely they were sent by the Mu Palace.”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Exactly. The assassins entered the Palace last night, nobody dared to leak this secret. No one outside the Palace knew about it, yet they did not seem to be surprised, naturally it was their doing.”

    Xuanzhen said, “They dared to assassinate the Tatar Emperor, they can be considered extremely daring, indeed they deserved other people’s admiration. Wei Xiangzhu, their men were captured, did you say you could rescue them? I’m afraid this is an extremely difficult matter.”

    When talking with Mu Jiansheng and Liu Dahong at the banquet table, Wei Xiaobao had already hatched a plan. To save the captured assassins was definitely not a possibility, but in his own room, one Xiao Junzhu and one Fang Yi were lying down nicely on the bed. Xiao Junzhu was not an assassin; she was kidnapped by Tian Di Hui and brought into the Palace, so her release did not count. Fang Yi, on the other hand, was an assassin who broke into the Palace; he thought that finding a way to smuggle her out should not be a difficult matter. As he heard Xuanzhen’s question, Wei Xiaobao smiled and said, “To save all is impossible, but to get one or two out, most probably it is still manageable. Xu San Ge only killed Bai Hansong one person, we only need to get one person out to be returned to them. One life for one life, they do not suffer any loss. Much less not only they will get both the capital and profit, they will also get the interest; we will return to them that little miss Boss Qian has kidnapped, what else can they say? Boss Qian, early tomorrow morning, bring two dead pigs to the Catering Department, we will pack the people inside, then I’ll throw a fit in the kitchen, scolding, swearing and berating you [orig. ‘pour dogs blood on you’], saying that those two pigs are not good, and will force you to take them out of the Palace at once.”

    Boss Qian clapped his hands and laughed. “Wei Xiangzhu’s idea is marvelous,” he said, “The dead pig for fixing Xiao Junzhu is not a problem, but the other one must be a jumbo size.”

    Wei Xiaobao uttered several words of encouragement to Xu Tianchuan; he said, “Xu San Ge, don’t you worry, that dog thief Lu Yifeng offended you, I have told Wu Yingxiong to break his dog legs.”

    “Yes, yes,” Xu Tianchuan replied, “Thank you Wei Xiangzhu.” But in his heart he did not believe him, “This child is babbling nonsense again. Wu Yingxiong is the Heir Apparent of Ping Xi Wang, he is extremely arrogant, how could he listen to you?” Wei Xiaobao was helping him settling the intractable problem of unintentional killing of Bai Hansong. Although Xu Tianchuan was deeply grateful, he was not completely convinced that Wei Xiaobao would be able to accomplish this important matter.

    Wei Xiaobao returned to the imperial palace. He had just entered the Shen Wu Gate when he saw two eunuchs meeting him and said together, “Gui Gong-gong, quick, quick, His Majesty is summoning you.”

    “What important matter is it?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

    “His Majesty has been asking for you several times,” one of the eunuchs said, “There must be a very important matter. His Majesty is at the Upper Study Room.”

    Wei Xiaobao rushed toward the Upper Study Room. Kangxi was pacing up and down the room, seeing Wei Xiaobao come in, his face revealed a happy expression. “Damn it,” he cursed, “You died and went to where?”

    “Reporting to His Majesty,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Your servant was thinking that the assassins were so daring; if we do not catch everything in one net, I am afraid it won’t be too good for us, perhaps they will come back to cause us trouble and make His Majesty worry. We must find the leader who managed that operation in secret. Therefore, just now I changed into civilian clothes and went to great streets and small alleys everywhere; I wanted to try to find out who is the assassins’ leader, is he in the Capital?”

    “Very good,” Kangxi said, “What did you find?”

    Wei Xiaobao thought, “If I say that as soon as I wanted to find out and immediately find something, it would sound too much of a coincident.” Thereupon he said, “After walking around for half a day, I did not see any suspicious person. I am thinking of going out again tomorrow.”

    Kangxi said, “You wander around aimlessly and groping blindly, it may be useless. I have an idea.”

    Wei Xiaobao was delighted. “Your Majesty’s idea must be very good,” he said.

    Kangxi said, “Just now Dolong came to report that the three captured assassins kept their mouths tightly shut; no matter how much flogging and swindling, they keep saying that they were sent by Wu Sangui. Apparently, we cannot get a sentence of truth by torturing them. I am thinking of simply letting them go.”

    “Let them go?” Wei Xiaobao asked, “This … won’t that be too easy for them?”

    “These assassins are following orders,” Kangxi said, “Although they rebelled against the authority, killing them is of little significance, what’s more important is to find the master mind behind them, eliminating them in one fell swoop, so that we won’t have future trouble.” Speaking to this point, he smiled and said, “If the wolf cub is released, won’t the wolf cub go find the mother wolf?”

    Wei Xiaobao was ecstatic, he clapped his hands and said with a laugh, “Wonderful, wonderful! We release the assassins while scooping them up in secret, they will go to meet with the rebellious thieves’ ring-leader. Your Majesty’s divine strategy really surpasses three Zhuge Liang.”

    Kangxi laughed and said, “What do you mean surpasses three Zhuge Liang? Your boot-licking is excessively over the top. The problem is how to scoop the assassins without them knowing it; it won’t be too easy to do. Xiao Guizi, I am sending you on an assignment: you pretend to be the good person, rescue them from the Palace, then those assassins will regard you as one of their own, naturally they will lead you to their leader.”

    Wei Xiaobao hesitated. “This …” he muttered.

    “Naturally this is a dangerous mission,” Kangxi said, “If they find out, they would immediately want to take your little life. It’s a pity I am the Emperor; otherwise, I am seriously considering doing it myself. It would be very exciting.”

    “Your Majesty is giving me order, naturally I will do as you bid,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Even if it was a more dangerous mission, I am not afraid.”

    Kangxi was delighted, he patted Wei Xiaobao’s shoulder and said with a laugh, “I already knew that you are smart, and brave, and is most willing to do the job for me. You are but a child, the assassins won’t suspect you. I originally wanted to send two Imperial Bodyguards with high level of martial art to do it, but the assassins are not stupid, they might not be easily fooled. If the first try failed, we can’t try it again the second time. Xiao Guizi, when you are doing this, it will be the same as if I am doing it myself.”

    After learning martial art, Kangxi was very eager to give it a try, all along he wanted to do some dangerous things, but as the Emperor, he could not afford to take any risk. By sending Wei Xiaobao to do the job for him, Kangxi regarded him as a substitute. Even if an Imperial Bodyguard could handle this matter better, he would still prefer to send Wei Xiaobao. He thought that in term of age, Xiao Guizi was comparable to his, in term of martial art skill, he was inferior, in term of intelligence, he was also inferior; if he was successful, then Kangxi would definitely be successful as well. Therefore, by sending Xiao Guizi, it was more or less the same as if he personally doing it. Although he could not personally experience it, he could imagine it.

    Kangxi also said, “You must be as convincing as possible; it is best if you can pretend to be one of the assassins, kill one or two Imperial Bodyguards on guard duty, let these assassins do not have the slightest doubt toward you. I will order Dolong to relax the check-points to let you take them out of the Palace.”

    “Yes!” Wei Xiaobao complied, he said, “But those Imperial Bodyguards’ martial art is good, I am afraid I can’t kill them.”

    Kangxi said, “You’d better adapt to the situation, but you must be careful, don’t let the Imperial Bodyguards kill you first.”

    Wei Xiaobao stuck out his tongue and said, “If I get killed by the Imperial Bodyguards, that means I would die without knowing the rhyme or reason, Xiao Guizi became rebellious traitor’s collaborator instead.”

    Kangxi rubbed his palms together in extreme excitement, he said, “Xiao Guizi, if you successfully accomplish this mission, what reward do you want from me?”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “If I successfully accomplish this mission, Your Majesty will be happy. As long as Your Majesty is happy, any reward is good. Next time Your Majesty is thinking about something fascinating, something fun but dangerous thing to do, you will send me again, and that will be very good.”

    Kangxi was delighted. “Certainly, certainly!” he said, “Ay, Xiao Guizi, too bad you are an eunuch, otherwise I will definitely make you a high-ranking official.”

    Wei Xiaobao’s heart was moved. “Thank you, Your Majesty,” but in his heart he thought, “The day will come when you will discover that I am a fake eunuch; at that time I don’t know how angry you will be.” He said, “Your Majesty, I am asking you for one favor.”

    Kangxi smiled, “Do you want to be a high-ranking official?” he asked.

    “No!” Wei Xiaobao replied, “I will do whatever you want me to do with red-bellied devotion, if I came across a misfortune, and provoked Your Majesty’s anger, I am asking you to spare my life and do not take my head.”

    Kangxi said, “As long as you serve me with utter devotion, your melon-shaped head will sit steadily on your neck.” Finished speaking, he burst into loud laughter.

    Coming out of the Upper Study Room, Wei Xiaobao mused, “I was thinking of freeing Xiao Junzhu and Miss Fang for the Mu Palace, but based on what His Majesty said a moment ago, the release of the assassins has become an imperial order, so there is no hurry to let those two young ladies go. About the assassins’ true leader, Laozi has just had a drink with them a while ago; shall I let the Emperor know and have that little turtle Mu Jiansheng and that old fellow Liu Dahong arrested? But if Shifu knew I did it, he would never forgive me. Damn it, in the end, do I still want to be a Tian Di Hui Xiangzhu?”

    In the Palace, everybody fawned on him, plus Kangxi doted on him and trusted him very much. In that instant, he was really thinking of staying in the Palace and be an eunuch for the rest of his life. But then he thought about the Empress Dowager and could not stop his heart from trembling, “That Old Wh0re is determined to seek my demise, Laozi will not last for too long in the Palace.”

    He arrived at the Imperial Bodyguards’ compound west of the Palace of Heavenly Purity. The leader of the Imperial Bodyguards on duty was precisely Zhao Qixian. The previous night he had already distributed money, and today from the Imperial Bodyguards Chief Dolong he received some more rewards; he found out it was because Wei Xiaobao had spoken words of praise in front of the Emperor. As soon as he saw Wei Xiaobao arrived, his delight was unspeakable; he sprang up to greet him, saying with a laugh, “Gui Gong-gong, what good wind has blown your honorable self’s presence in this place?”

    Wei Xiaobao said with a laugh, “I am here to take a look at those brazen rebellious thieves.” Stepping closer to his ears, he said in a low voice, “His Majesty sends me here to help with the interrogation, he wants to know who the master mind behind their action.”

    Zhao Qixian nodded. “Yes,” he said, and continued in low voice, “These three rebellious thieves are so tight-lipped, we have already broken two leather whips, they still stick to their original statement, that Wu Sangui sent them here.”

    “Let me try to ask them,” Wei Xiaobao said.

    Entering the western hall, he saw three men were tied to the wooden pillars, their naked upper bodies had already been badly mutilated by flogging. One was a big man with beard like a young horned-dragon, the other two were twenty-something young men, one was fair-skinned, the other had tattoo all over his body, he had a fierce looking tiger head tattooed on his chest. “I wonder if one of these two young men is Liu Yizhou?” Wei Xiaobao mused. Turning his head toward Zhao Qixian he said, “Zhao Dage, I am afraid you have caught the wrong persons. Please go out for a moment.”

    “Yes,” Zhao Qixian replied; he turned around and left, closing the door behind him.

    Wei Xiaobao asked, “May I know your honored surnames and great given names?”

    The one with dragon-beard opened his glowering eyes, “Dog eunuch,” he cursed, “Do you think you are worthy to ask Laozi’s name?”

    Lowering his voice, Wei Xiaobao said, “I received a request from someone to save a friend by the name of Liu Yizhou …” As soon as he said those words, astonishment appeared on the three men’s faces as they cast a glance toward each other.

    The dragon-bearded man asked, “Who requested it?”

    “Is there any Liu Yizhou among you or not?” Wei Xiaobao asked, “If there is, I have something to say; if not, that’s all I can say.”

    The three men were looking at each other again, they looked doubtful, afraid that they might be duped. The dragon-bearded man asked again, “Who are you?”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “The two friends who asked me, one is surnamed Mu, the other is surnamed Liu, ‘Iron Back Blue Dragon’. Do you know him?”

    The dragon-bearded man loudly said, “Who does not know the ‘Iron Back Blue Dragon’ Liu Dahong in the Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan region? Mu Jiansheng is Mu Tianbo’s son, he is wandering destitute in Jianghu, at this moment nobody knows whether he is dead or alive.” While saying that, he repeatedly shook his head.

    Wei Xiaobao nodded and said, “Since the three of you do not know Xiao Gongye and Liu Laoyezi, you can’t be their friends, so it may be assumed that you do not know these styles.” While saying that, he struck a posture, and then demonstrated the two moves of the Mu Family fist technique; naturally it was the ‘sweeping away a thousand army’ and 'high mountain flowing water'.

    “Ah!” the young man with tiger head tattoo on his chest exclaimed. Wei Xiaobao halted, “What is it?” he asked. “Nothing,” the man replied.

    “Who taught you those styles?” the dragon-bearded man asked.

    “My wife taught me,” Wei Xiaobao replied with a laugh.

    “Pei!” the dragon-bearded man spat, “What wife does a court eunuch have?” While saying that, he was constantly shaking his head. At first he cursed Wei Xiaobao as ‘dog eunuch’, after hearing the strange thing he said and the unusual way he behaved, he dropped the ‘dog’ character.

    “Why can’t a court eunuch have a wife?” Wei Xiaobao said, “Others are willing to marry, why do you care about it? My wife is surnamed Fang, with the single character given name Yi …”

    The fair-skinned young man suddenly bellowed, “Nonsense!”

    Wei Xiaobao saw blue veins suddenly stuck out on his forehead, his eyes were spouting fire, his anxiety had reached its extreme point, so he presumed this man must be Liu Yizhou. He had a rectangular face, quite handsome; it’s just that under his violent rage, unavoidably his appearance looked rather fearsome. Wei Xiaobao said with a laugh, “What nonsense? My wife is the later generation of the surnamed Fang of the Mu Family four great generals, Liu Bai Fang Su. The one acting as our matchmaker is surnamed Su, his name is Su Gang, nicknamed 'Divine Physician Hermit'. There is also another matchmaker surnamed Bai, his older brother Bai Hansong was recently killed. That Bai Hanfeng is extremely poor, so he is acting as a matchmaker to earn money, to prepare for his older brother’s funeral …”

  14. #94
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 13 - Part 5

    The more that young man listened, the angrier he got. “You … you … you …” he roared.

    The dragon-bearded man shook his head and said, “Xiongdi, don’t make noise.” To Wei Xiaobao he said, “You seemed to know a lot about the Mu Palace’s affairs.”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “I am Mu Palace’s son-in-law, how could I not know the affairs of my old man father-in-law? Originally Fang Yi, Miss Fang was unwilling to marry me, she said she was engaged to her Shige Liu Yizhou. But then she heard that this surnamed Liu did not make any progress, he threw himself under the leadership of the big traitor Wu Sangui, and entered the Imperial Palace as an assassin. Just think … that big traitor Wu Sangui …” Speaking to this point, he lowered his voice and continued, “… colluding with the Tatars, surrendering our beautiful Great Ming’s rivers and mountains to the dog thieves Manchurian Qing with both hands. Not one of our Han people does not want to peel this fellow Wu Sangui’s skin and eat his flesh. Why would that fellow Liu Yizhou rely on a bad master, Wu Sangui? Naturally Miss Fang’d face is downcast, she does not want to marry him anymore.”

    “I … I … I …” the young man anxiously said.

    The dragon-bearded man shook his head, “Everybody has his own ambition,” he said, “Sire became a court eunuch in Qing Palace, which not a very honorable thing.”

    “Right, right!” Wei Xiaobao said, “Naturally it is not a very honorable thing. My wife is anxious over her old flame, she wanted me to investigate clearly, whether that Liu Yizhou has died or not. If he is really dead, she will marry me with a clear conscience, henceforth does not have to worry over the deceased. She only wants to set up a memorial tablet for her Liu Shige, and burn some ritual paper money for him. Friends, there is no Liu Yizhou among you, is there? Then I shall return to Miss Fang, tonight we are going to bow to the Heaven and Earth to get married.” Saying that, he turned around to leave.

    The young man said, “I am …” But the dragon-bearded man shouted, “Don’t be fooled!” The young man struggled a moment, he said angrily, “He … he …” suddenly he spat toward Wei Xiaobao.

    Wei Xiaobao dodged sideways. He saw that the hands and feet of those three were firmly bound to the pillars using thick ox tendon, it was definitely very hard for them to struggle free. He mused, “This man is obviously Liu Yizhou, he was about to confess, but was stopped by that bearded man.” After thinking for a moment, he had another idea; he said, “You wait here, I am going to ask my wife again.”

    Returning to the outside, he said to Zhao Qixian, “I have found a clue. Don’t beat them anymore; I will be back in a moment.”

    By this time the sky had darkened, Wei Xiaobao thought that Fang Yi and Mu Jianping should be very hungry by now, so he did not go straight back to his room, but stopped by the Catering Department instead, to instruct his subordinate eunuchs to deliver a sumptuous banquet to his room, saying that he wanted to invite the Imperial Bodyguards who had set up some merits the previous night to a banquet to congratulate them, that they were going to discuss some confidential matter on capturing the assassins during the banquet, therefore, he did not need any little eunuchs to wait upon them.

    He unlocked his room and lightly pushed the door to the inner room. Mu Jianping cried out lightly and sat up. “What took you so long to come back?” she asked in soft voice.

    “I made you very anxious waiting for me, didn’t I?” Wei Xiaobao said, “I have good news.”

    Fang Yi lifted her head from the pillow and asked, “What good news?”

    Wei Xiaobao lighted the candle on the table, he saw Fang Yi’s eyes were red, apparently she had been crying. He sighed and said, “This good news is for you, but for me it is a very bad news. I have just succeeded in obtaining a good wife, now she flew away into the thin air. Ay, that fellow Liu Yizhou unexpectedly has not died.”

    “Ah!” Fang Yi let out a cry, her voice was brimming with joy.

    Mu Jianping happily asked, “Is our Liu Shige safe and sound?”

    “He has not died all right,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “But it might not be easy for him to stay alive. He was captured by the Imperial Bodyguards in the Palace, and stated decisively that he was sent by the big traitor Wu Sangui to assassinate the Emperor. With his capital crime, no doubt it will be difficult for him to escape, but if this news ever spread out, the Jianghu heroes and warriors will all say that he has become Wu Sangui’s lackey, after he is beheaded, his reputation will stink very much.”

    Fang Yi raised her upper body and said, “Before entering the Imperial Palace, we have already considered this possibility, but in order to topple this traitor Wu Sangui and avenge the bitter hatred and deep enmity of the late emperor and Mu Gongye, we have already abandoned any thought to our own lives and our reputation after we died.”

    Wei Xiaobao raised his thumb, “Good,” he said, “You have moral backbone! Wu Laogong [see footnote 4 of Chapter 11] admires you very much. Miss Fang, we have an important matter we need to discuss. If I can save your Liu Shige’s life, what would you do?”

    The light in Fang Yi’s eyes flickered, her cheeks blushed, she said, “If you can seriously save my Liu Shige’s life, no matter what difficult or dangerous thing you want me to do, Fang Yi will not knit my brows.” She said those words with determination in her voice, it was extremely straightforward.

    “What if we make a deal?” Wei Xiaobao said, “Xiao Junzhu can be our witness. If I can save your Liu Shige and get him out, and hand him over to Xiao Gongye Mu Jiansheng and ‘Iron Back Blue Dragon’ Liu Dahong …”

    “You know my Gege and my Shifu?” Mu Jianping interrupted.

    “The Mu Family’s Xiao Gongye and ‘Iron Back Blue Dragon’ have grand reputation,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Who does not know them? Who has never heard of their names?”

    “You are a good person,” Mu Jianping said, “If you save Liu Shige’s life, everybody will be very grateful of your kindness.”

    Wei Xiaobao shook his head, “I am not a good person,” he said, “I am simply making a deal. This man Liu Yizhou is not a small matter, he is a criminal who came to assassinate the Emperor himself. By wanting to save him, I am placing my own life in great danger, am I right? If the government authority found out, not only my own head would roll, my grandpas, grandmas, papa, mama, my three Gege, four Meizi, plus my uncles, aunts, cousins[1], everybody at home would lose their heads, am I right? This is called ‘execution of the whole family unto the third generation’. The gold, silver, house, pots and pans, pants, shoes, everything in my home would belong to the government official, am I right?”

    Each time he asked, ‘am I right?’ Mu Jianping nodded her head.

    “Exactly right,” Fang Yi said, “The implication of this matter is too great, I can’t simply ask you to do it. In any case, if my … my … my Shige died, I don’t want to live. Let’s just resign to our fate.” While saying that, tears flooding down on her face.

    Wei Xiaobao said, “There’s no hurry to grieve, there’s no hurry to cry. You are such a ‘bashful flower obstructing the moon’, as soon as your tears flow, my heart turns soft. Miss Fang, I’ll do anything for you. I will definitely save your Liu Shige’s life and get him out. Let’s settle this now: if I cannot save and get your Liu Shige out, I will become your ox or your horse, your slave for the rest of my life; if I can save and get your Liu Shige out, you will be my wife for the rest of your life. A real man gave his words, some horses cannot chase it, and that’s that.”

    Fang Yi looked at him in a daze, the color on her cheek gradually vanished, until her face turned deathly pale. “Gui Dage,” she said, “In order to save Liu Shige’s life, whatever … I am willing to do whatever you want me to. If you really can rescue him to safety and he is safe and sound, and you want me to serve you … to serve you for the rest of my life, it won’t be impossible. It’s just that … It’s just that …” She had just spoken those words when there were footsteps outside, and then someone called out, “Gui Gong-gong, the food and wine is here.” Fang Yi stopped talking immediately.

    “Alright!” Wei Xiaobao said. He walked out the room, locked the inside door, and open the front door.

    Four eunuchs carried food, bowls and cups on a shoulder pole. They entered the room and set up the table in the front room. There were twelve large bowls of vegetable and meat dishes, plus one pot of Yunnan’s steamed chicken. The four eunuchs arranged eight set of bowl and chopsticks, and then respectfully said, “Gui Gong-gong, is there anything else you need?”

    “This will do,” Wei Xiaobao said, “You may go back.” Each person received one tael tip. The four eunuchs returned, pleased with the heaven, happy with the earth.

    Wei Xiaobao bolted the front door, and brought the food into the inner room. He pulled a table to the front of the bed, poured three cups of wine and scooped three bowls of rice. “Miss Fang,” he said, “Just now you said, ‘It’s just that … It’s just that …’, what was it that you were going to say?”

    By now Mu Jianping had helped Fang Yi to sit up, the color on her face had returned. She lowered her head and was silent for half a day before finally spoke in a low voice, “I was going to say that you are an officer in the Palace, how can you marry? But no matter what, if you can save my Liu Shige’s life, I will accompany you for the rest of my life.”

    Her countenance was sparkling and translucent like jade, shining pink under the candlelight, so out-of-the-worldly tender and beautiful. Although Wei Xiaobao was very young, he looked at her as if his soul had left him. He laughed and said, “Turns out you wanted to say that I am an eunuch, and thus cannot take a wife. Whether I take a wife or not, it’s my business, it’s none of your concern. I just want to ask you: are you or are you not willing to be my wife?”

    Fang Yi’s delicate eyebrows were slightly wrinkled, a faint trace of anger appeared on her face. After half a day she made up her mind and said, “Let alone be your wife, even if you sell me to the pleasure house to be a prostitute, I am also willing.”

    If any other man were to hear it, he definitely would not be happy, but Wei Xiaobao grew up in a brothel, so he did not feel anything strange. With a chuckle he said, “Alright, it’s a deal. Good wife, Good Meizi, let the three of us drink a cup.”

    At first Fang Yi did not even regard this little eunuch as someone worthy of her attention, and then she saw how he personally stabbed the Imperial Bodyguard Deputy Chief Rui Dong and dissolved his body with some strange medicine. She also saw how the Imperial Bodyguards and his fellow eunuchs were very respectful toward him; now she believed definitely nothing was ordinary about him. Liu Yizhou was the man she fell in love with, although they had not formalized their engagement, their two hearts already beat as one; one would not want to take another as husband [orig. ‘lord’], the other would not love another as wife. The previous night the two of them entered the Palace on mission together, Fang Yi saw with her own eyes Liu Yizhou slipped and was captured by the Imperial Bodyguards, while she herself suffered an injury, so that she was unable to help. She thought that her boyfriend had given his life for their common cause; who would have thought that this little eunuch said that not only her lover did not die, he even said that he could find a way to rescue him. She thought, “As long as Liu Lang[2] can escape from danger, although I have to suffer hardship for the rest of my life, I will still thank the Heaven for not treating me badly. How can this little eunuch take me as his wife anyway? He’s just oily-mouthed and a smooth-talker, he only wants to win the argument, I might as well play along with him.” As she thought about this reasoning, she showed a faint smile as she raised the wine cup with both hands, saying, “I will drink this cup of wine with you, but if you do not save my Liu Shige, you won’t escape being a ghost by my sword.”

    Seeing her flowery dimples, Wei Xiaobao’s heart was very happy; he also raised the wine cup with both hands and said, “May our words be like striking nail through the foot, there will be no denial. If I save your Liu Shige, but you go back on your words and marry him, then what? With the two of you join hands and feet, I won’t be your match; he sweeps his saber across, you hack your sword down, I, Gui Gong-gong, will immediately turn into four pieces. I simply cannot not guard against this thing.”

    With a smile on her face Fang Yi solemnly said, “By the Emperor of Heaven above and the Queen of Earth below, if Gui Gong-gong can rescue Liu Yizhou and bring him to safety, the lowly woman Fang Yi will be willing to be Gui Gong-gong’s wife, and will be loyal and dependable to my husband with singleness of heart for the rest of my life, even if Gui Gong-gong cannot take me as wife for real, I am dead set on taking care of him for a lifetime. If I am double-minded, let me be cut into ten thousand pieces and will not be reincarnated.” Finished speaking, she poured the wine to the floor. She also said, “Xiao Junzhu is my witness.”

    Wei Xiaobao was ecstatic, he turned to ask Mu Jianping, “Good Meizi, do you have any sweetheart you want me to rescue?”

    “Of course I don’t!” Mu Jianping replied, “How can I have any sweetheart?”

    “What a pity, what a pity!” Wei Xiaobao said.

    “What a pity what?” Mu Jianping asked.

    “If you have a sweetheart,” Wei Xiaobao explained, “I will also rescue him and get him out, then won’t you also be willing to be my wife?”

    “Pei!” Mu Jianping spat, “You already have one wife and it’s not enough? What an endless greed[3]!”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “The toad wants to eat the swan’s flesh! Hey, Good Meizi, other than your Liu Shige, there are two other men being captured, one with jaw full of whiskers …”

    “That must be Wu Shishu [martial (younger) uncle],” Mu Jianping said.

    “The other has tattoo all over his body,” Wei Xiaobao said, “With a tiger head on his chest.”

    “That must be Blue Haired Tiger Ao Biao,” Mu Jianping said, “He is Wu Shishu’s disciple.”

    “What is that Wu Shishu’s name?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

    “Wu Shishu’s name is Wu Lishen,” Mu Jianping replied, “His nickname is Shaking-head Lion.”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “That nickname is very appropriate, whatever other people say, he always shakes his head.”

    “Gui Dage,” Mu Jianping said, “Since you are going to rescue Liu Shige, you might as well try to rescue Wu Shishu and Ao Shige.”

    “Do your Wu Shishu and Ao Biao also have ‘bashful flower obstructing the moon’ women?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

    “I don’t know,” Mu Jianping replied, “Why do you ask?”

    Wei Xiaobao replied, “I am going to ask their good-looking women first, to see if they would be willing to let me take an advantage, otherwise, won’t I be staking my life to save others in vain?” Suddenly a dark shadow flashed before his eyes, some kind of object flew toward his face. Wei Xiaobao hastily ducked, but he was too late. ‘Crash!’ that object smashed right in the middle of his forehead. It was a wine cup.

    “Aiyo!” Wei Xiaobao and Mu Jianping cried out together. Wei Xiaobao leaped three steps backward, and crashed into a chair. Blood streamed down from his forehead, wine blurred his vision that all he saw was a vast expanse of whiteness.

    He heard Fang Yi shouted harshly, “Go and kill Liu Yizhou immediately, your miss does not want to live anymore, so that I won’t receive this kind of senseless humiliation from you all day!” Turned out the wine cup was thrown by Fang Yi. Luckily, due to her severe wound, she lost the strength of her hand. Wei Xiaobao’s forehead was hit by the wine cup, but the scratch was only skin deep.

    Mu Jianping said, “Gui Dage, come here, let me look at your wound, don’t let the broken porcelain pieces remain in your flesh.”

    “I am not coming near you,” Wei Xiaobao said, “My own wife wants to murder her husband.”

    “Who told you to speak nonsense?” Mu Jianping said, “You want to take advantage of other women. Even I was angry to hear it.”

    Wei Xiaobao burst into loud laughter. “Ah, I get it,” he said, “Turns out the two of you are drinking vinegar. Hearing that I was going to take advantage of other women, my first wife, my second wife, are drinking vinegar in a big way.”

    Mu Jianping picked up her wine cup and said, “What did you call me? See if I don’t throw this wine cup on you.”

    Wei Xiaobao used his sleeve to wipe his eyes. Seeing Mu Jianping pretend to be angry, but with a slight smile at the tips on her brow and the corners of her eyes, also Fang Yi look apologetic, although his forehead was painful, Wei Xiaobao’s heart was very happy. He said, “My first wife threw a wine cup, if my second wife did not throw, it would be unfair.” He took a step forward and said, “Second wife may throw the wine cup!”

    [1] I just want to point out that Wei Xiaobao’s list was a lot longer than this: paternal and maternal grandparents (yeye, nainai, waigong, waipo), maternal uncles and aunts and their spouses (yizhang, yimu, jiujiu, jiumu), paternal aunts and their husbands (guzhang, gumu), maternal cousins, male and female, younger and older (biaoge, biaodi, biaojie, biaomei). Interestingly, he did not mention other relatives from his father’s side (paternal uncles and their spouses and paternal cousins).

    [2] Lit. ‘youth’; it is also a term of endearment to address one’s husband (or in this case, husband-to-be).

    [3] Orig. ‘coveting Sichuan once Gansu has been seized’.

  15. #95
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 13 - Part 6

    “Alright!” Mu Jianping said. Raising her hand, she splashed the half-cup of wine onto his face.

    Unexpectedly Wei Xiaobao did not evade; the half-cup of wine trickled down his face. He stuck his tongue out and licked the blood and wine on his face, saying, “Delicious, delicious! The first wife cut the blood, plus the second wife splashed the wine. Aiyo! I die tasty, I die tasty!”

    Mu Jianping was the first to laugh, followed by a ‘pft!’ from Fang Yi; she could not restrain her laughter. “Rascal!” she cursed. From her bosom she produced a handkerchief and gave it to Mu Jianping, saying, “Wipe his face.”

    Mu Jianping laughed and said, “You are the one who hurt others, why do I have to wipe it?”

    Covering her mouth, Fang Yi said, “Aren’t you his second wife?”

    “Pei!” Mu Jianping spat, “You promised yourself to him just a moment ago, I did not promise him anything.”

    Fang Yi laughed and said, “Who said you haven’t promise him anything? He said, ‘Second wife may throw the wine cup’, and you raised your wine cup and splashed him; isn’t that the same as you agree to be his second wife?”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed. “That’s right, that’s right!” he said, “My first wife is hurt, my second wife is also hurt. The two of you may set your hearts at ease; I am not going to fool around with other women.”

    Fang Yi told Wei Xiaobao to come over; seeing there was no porcelain fragment in his forehead wound, she wiped the blood from his face.

    The three of them could not drink wine anymore, their stomachs were hungry, so they ate quite a lot of food. Chatting and joking, gaiety filled the room.

    Finished eating, Wei Xiaobao yawned and said, “Shall I sleep with the first wife tonight, or the second wife?”

    Fang Yi’s countenance was grim, she sternly said, “You should stop cracking jokes; if you ever get into the bed, I’ll … I’ll kill you with a sword.”

    Wei Xiaobao stuck out his tongue and said, “There will come a day when my old life will be delivered in your hands.” Moving the food to the outside hall, he fetched a woven mat and spread it on the floor, and slept fully clothed. At this time he was really weary, so in just a short moment he fell fast asleep.

    The next morning when he woke up, he felt his body was nice and warm. When he opened his eyes, he saw that his body was covered with a quilt; he also felt a pillow under his head. He sat up and noticed the muslin curtain above the bed was hanging down. Through the mosquito net he could faintly see Fang Yi and Mu Jianping were sleeping side by side.

    Quietly he stood up and opened the curtain. He saw Fang Yi was tender and beautiful, Mu Jianping was exquisite. The two beautiful women’s smart faces were reflecting each other, they looked like bright pearl or beautiful jade; his heart was unspeakably moved by their beauty. Wei Xiaobao could not bear the desire to give each one a kiss on the mouth, but he was afraid he might awaken them. “Damn it,” he cursed in his heart, “If these two young ladies truly became my first wife and second wife, Laozi will be very happy. There is no young lady as charming as they in the Lovely Spring Courtyard.”

    As quietly as possible he opened the door. The door hinge creaked, Fang Yi immediately opened her eyes; she smiled and said, “Gui … Gui … Good morning.”

    “Gui what?” Wei Xiaobao asked, “You did not even call me Good Husband.”

    “But you have not rescued him yet,” Fang Yi replied.

    “Don’t worry,” Wei Xiaobao said, “I am going to rescue him.”

    Mu Jianping also woke up, “What are you talking about this early in the morning?” she asked.

    “We did not sleep at all,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “The two of us talked heart to heart the entire night.” He yawned, patted his mouth, and said, “I am so sleepy, I am so sleepy! I want to sleep now.” And then he stretched.

    Fang Yi blushed, she said, “How can I talk anything good with you? How can it be considered the entire night?”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed. “Good wife,” he said, “We were talking decently. Please write a letter, I am going to give it to your Liu Shige, so that he will believe me and follow me out of the Palace. Or else he would become Wu Sangui’s son-in-law …”

    “He pretends to be Wu Sangui’s son-in-law’s nephew,” Mu Jianping said.

    “Since Miss Fang is going to be my wife, Liu Yizhou won’t have any choice but to be Wu Sangui’s son-in-law,” Wei Xiaobao said.

    “Don’t prattle!” Fang Yi said, “Writing a letter is good. But … but what should I write?”

    “Anything is alright,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Just write that I am your husband, the number one good person in the world, one with most yi qi, one who accepted your commission to come and rescue him. Genuine goods at fair prices, a hundred percent real gold.” He found Hai Dafu’s writing brush and ink stone, and some paper. He rubbed the ink, placed a sheet of white paper on the small table, and pushed the table to the front of the bed.

    Fang Yi sat up and received the writing brush. Suddenly tears gushing out of her eyes; sobbing, she said, “What should I write?”

    Seeing her cute but pitiful appearance, Wei Xiaobao’s heart suddenly turned soft. “You may write whatever you want to write,” he said, “I am illiterate anyway. You don’t need to write that you have become my wife, otherwise your Liu Shige will get angry and won’t want me to save him.”

    “You are illiterate?” Fang Yi asked, “You are lying.”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “If I know how to read, I am a turtle bastard, and not your husband; I am your son, your distant descendant.”

    Fang Yi took up the pen, she hesitated, feeling that it was hard to put the pen to the paper, she sobbed and sniffled, and finally broke into crying again. Wei Xiaobao’s heart was filled with heroic spirit, which was hard to suppress; he said in a loud voice, “Alright, alright! After I rescue Liu Yizhou and take him out, you can marry him, I don’t want to fight with him over you. Besides, even if you followed me, you would still want to be together with him anyway. Rather than wearing a green cap[1] in the future, becoming a cuckold, I’ll let you go free and happy, marry that damn Liu Yizhou. Just write whatever you love to write. Damn it, Laozi won’t care.”

    With a pair of big eyes still brimming with tears, Fang Yi looked at him, and then she lowered her head, her gaze revealed a happy expression mixed with gratitude. She wrote several lines of characters on the paper, and then folded the paper into a square. “Please … please give it to him,” she said.

    Wei Xiaobao cursed in his heart, “Damn it, now you don’t even call me Dage. Tear down the bridge after crossing the river, after setting off the flame, the monk is not needed anymore.” But since he had flaunted his heroic spirit, he had to put an air of hero, he could not force Fang Yi to be his wife anymore. He took the folded paper, put it into his pocket, and left without looking back. He mused, “Want to be a hero, one must suffer losses. Such a nice wife, and I have to present it with both hands to another man.”

    By this time, the leader on duty at the Imperial Bodyguards’ compound by the Palace of Heavenly Purity was Zhang Kangnian. The previous night he had received the order from Dolong to give assistance to Gui Gong-gong who was on rescue mission to take the assassins out of the Palace, but he had to do it discreetly, without rousing the assassins’ suspicion. Seeing the arrival of Wei Xiaobao, he busily stepped forward to greet him. He gave an eye signal to Wei Xiaobao as he took him to the rockery outside. “Gui Gong-gong,” he said in low voice, “How are you going to rescue them?’

    Seeing his friendly attitude, Wei Xiaobao thought, “His Majesty told me to kill one or two Imperial Bodyguards on this rescue mission, so that Liu Yizhou and the others won’t be suspicious. But this Zhang Laoge [‘Ol’ older brother Zhang’] is very good to me, I can’t bear to kill him. Luckily I have that stinky girl’s letter, that ‘deserved-to-die’ surnamed Liu will believe me a thousand times, ten thousand times.” After slight hesitation he said, “I’ll go in and interrogate these three sons of a turtle again, and then I’ll act accordingly.”

    Zhang Kangnian laughed while cupping his fist and said, “Thank you very much Gui Gong-gong.”

    “Thank me for what?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

    Zhang Kangnian replied, “Xiaoren simply handling matters following Gui Gong-gong’s suggestion. In the future I am sure Gong-gong will enjoy unceasing promotion. Xiaoren will get promoted and enjoy riches, I won’t fail in everything I do.”

    Wei Xiaobao smiled and said, “You only need to serve His Majesty with utter devotion, and then in the future you will have only one thing to fear.”

    Zhang Kangnian was stunned. “What thing?” he asked.

    Wei Xiaobao said, “That the storage in your home is too small, you can’t store more money.”

    Zhang Kangnian laughed aloud. And then he lowered his voice and said, “Gong-gong, about a dozen of us have made a secret agreement that all of us will do our best to help Gong-gong to accomplish your missions. Whatever happens we will support Gong-gong to achieve the Head Court Eunuch position in the Palace.”

    Wei Xiaobao smiled, “That would be wonderful!” he said, “Let’s wait until I am a few years older before we talk about it again.” Recalling how Qian Laoben delivered a live pig to patch a loophole, he asked, “Where did Deputy Chief Rui Dong go? Dolong Zongguan and all of you are very busy, how come I do not see Deputy Chief Rui?”

    “Most likely the Empress Dowager sends him on a mission outside the Palace,” Zhang Kangnian replied.

    Wei Xiaobao nodded. “When you see Deputy Chief Rui, tell him to come to my room,” he said, “His Majesty wanted me to ask him some questions.” Zhang Kangnian promised to do that.

    Wei Xiaobao entered the Imperial Bodyguard building and went straight to the room where Liu Yizhou and the others, three people, were bound. He did not see them for only one night, but their spirits seemed to be weakened a lot. Although they did not receive any more beating, but two days and two nights without any food and drink, even a man made of iron would not be able to withstand. The seven or eight Imperial Bodyguards keeping watch over them stood up and paid their respect to Wei Xiaobao; their manner was very respectful.

    Wei Xiaobao loudly said, “His Majesty has issued an imperial decree: these three rebellious thieves committed treason and heresy, they are to be immediately beheaded in public. Quickly get some wine, meat, rice and vegetables, let them eat until they are full, so that when they die, they won’t be hungry ghosts.” The Imperial Bodyguards complied with one voice.

    The dragon-bearded man Wu Lishen said in loud voice, “We will be loyal to Ping Xi Wang to the death, we are leaving a good name for hundreds of generation, ten thousand times better than you, animals who become the lackeys of the Tatars.” One of the Imperial Bodyguards raised his whip and lashed it down, while cursing, “That rebellious thief Wu Sangui will be executed soon, along with his entire family to the third generation.”

    Liu Yizhou looked agitated, his eyes were staring at the ceiling, his lips were trembling slightly, but nobody knew what he was saying.

    The guards brought in three large bowls of rice and three large bowl of wine. Wei Xiaobao said, “When these three rebellious thieves heard they are going to be beheaded, they are shaking from fear all over. I am afraid that the wine, they won’t be able to drink, the rice, they won’t be able to swallow. I must bother three Xiongdi a little bit, please feed each of them two mouthful of wine, I don’t want them to drink too much. About the rice, please feed them. If they are drunk, they won’t feel the pain on their neck when their heads roll, it would be too easy for them. When they get to the underworld and Yanluo Wang sees three drunk ghosts, he will be very angry, and then each drunken ghost will get three hundred floggings with the stick. That means we are giving them too much of a bad time.” The Imperial Bodyguards laughed; then they fed the three prisoners the wine and the rice.

    Wu Lishen gulping the wine and gobbling the rice, his expression was calm and composed. With each mouthful of rice he ate, Ao Biao uttered a curse, “Dog servant!” Liu Yizhou looked deathly pale, he could not swallow his food, only less than half a bowl later he shook his head and did not want to eat.

    “That’s enough,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Everybody out. His Majesty ordered me to ask them some questions. After that, the beheading.”

    Zhang Kangnian bowed and said, “Yes!” He led the Imperial Bodyguards out of the room and closed the door behind him.

    When Wei Xiaobao heard the sound of their footsteps were far enough, he coughed and then leaned his head toward Wu Lishen, three people, sizing them up; his face showed a furtive smile.

    “Dog eunuch,” Wu Lishen cursed, “What’s so funny?”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “I am laughing on my own, what does it have to do with you?”

    “Gong-gong,” Liu Yizhou suddenly said, “I … I am Liu Yizhou!”

    Wei Xiaobao was startled, but before he could respond, Wu Lishen and Ao Biao shouted together, “What nonsense are you talking about?”

    “Gong-gong,” Liu Yizhou said, “I am asking you to save me, please … please save us.”

    Wu Lishen shouted loudly, “Greedy for life, afraid of death; what kind of hero or warrior are you? Why should you open your mouth asking for help?”

    Liu Yizhou said, “He … he said Xiao Gongye and my Shifu asked … asked him to save … to save us.”

    Wu Lishen shook his head and said, “He’s just trying to swindle us, and you believe him?”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Shaking Head Lion Wu Laoyezi [old master], when you look at my face, could you shake your head a little less?”

    Wu Lishen was startled, “You … you …” he said.

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “And this gentleman Blue Haired Tiger Ao Biao, Ao Dage, is your proud disciple, isn’t he? Famous master must produce outstanding disciple; my utmost admiration.” Wu Lishen and Ao Biao’s countenance changed greatly; they were so surprised that they were at a loss.

    From his pocket Wei Xiaobao produced the folded letter Fang Yi wrote. He unfolded it and held it in front of Liu Yizhou’s face. He laughed and said, “Look, who wrote this letter?”

    As soon as Liu Yizhou looked, he was overjoyed; with a trembling voice he said, “It’s really Fang Shimei’s [younger martial sister] handwriting. Wu Shishu, Fang Shimei said that this … this Gong-gong came to rescue us, she is telling me to obey him in everything.”

    “Bring it here, let me look,” Wu Lishen said.

    Wei Xiaobao held the letter in front of Wu Lishen; he thought, “I wonder what words of love are written on it; my first wife has no sense of shame, she only wants to snatch a husband, she would write any overly romantic words of love.” He heard Wu Lishen read: “‘Liu Shige, Gui Gong-gong is one of us, his righteousness reaches the clouds and the sky, his action braves strange dangers, he has come to save, you must listen to Gui Gong-gong’s directives to escape from the tiger’s mouth. Younger sister Yi stated with her own hand.’ Um, there is special mark of our Mu Palace at the top; it’s actually not a fake.”

    [1] Wearing green cap – one’s spouse is having an affair behind one’s back.

  16. #96
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 13 - Part 7

    Hearing in the letter Fang Yi praised him with the words ‘his righteousness meager[1] to the clouds and the sky’, Wei Xiaobao was puzzled; he thought that the thicker the righteousness the better. When the righteousness is meager, it would only disappear into the air, what else there is to be left? But he had heard people saying those words several times before, so he knew it must be very good words of praise. He also heard that in the letter Fang Yi did not write any overly romantic words of love, he was even more delighted. “What do you mean it’s fake?” he asked.

    “Gong-gong,” Liu Yizhou asked, “Where is my Fang Shimei?”

    In his heart Wei Xiaobao said, “In my room.” But with his mouth he said, “At this moment she is hiding in a very safe place. After I save you and take you out, I’ll find a way to save her, so that you can meet her.”

    Tears streaming down from Liu Yizhou’s eyes, sobbing, he said, “I don’t know how to repay Gong-gong’s great kindness and benevolence.” When a moment ago he heard Wei Xiaobao said that they were going to be beheaded right after eating and drinking, he was originally brave; but suddenly confronted with life juncture, his fear could not longer be restrained, and he blurted out that he was Liu Yizhou with the hope that in the face of imminent peril[2] he could somehow save his life. By the time he saw Fang Yi’s letter, he found that the chance of survival looked promising, his joy was beyond description.

    Yet when facing death Wu Lishen was without any fear; he still wanted to investigate thoroughly. “May I know Sire’s honorable surname and great given name?” he asked, “Why are you willing to lend a hand?”

    “I might as well explain everything clearly,” Wei Xiaobao said, “All my friends call me Lai Li Tou Xiao Sanzi. Don’t feel strange, I used to have skin disease and dysentery, but now I am healed. I have a good friend, the Xiangzhu of Green Wood Hall of Tian Di Hui, his name is Wei Xiaobao. He said that there is an old fellow in Tian Di Hui by the name of Eight-Arm Ape Xu Tianchuan, because of a dispute involving supporting Tang, supporting Gui, whatever, he killed your Mu Palace’s Bai Hansong. The Mu Family’s Xiao Gongye and Bai Hanfeng are unwilling to let the matter rest, but the dead can’t come back to life. Without any other option, that Wei Xiaobao came and asked me to rescue the three of you, to compensate the Mu Palace, giving careful consideration to the yi qi between the two sides.”

    Wu Lishen was fully aware of the dispute with Tian Di Hui, his suspicion gone instantly, he shook his head continuously, and then nodded, saying, “So that’s how it is. Just now Zaixia said some offensive words, I have offended you.”

    “You are too kind!” Wei Xiaobao said, “It’s just that we must think of an ingenious way of escaping from the Palace.”

    “Whatever way Gui Gong-gong thought must be ingenious,” Liu Yizhou said, “We will obey your instructions.”

    Wei Xiaobao mused, “I haven’t thought of any plan.” He asked Wu Lishen, “What strategy does Wu Laoyezi have?”

    “There are too many dog Imperial Bodyguards in the Palace,” Wu Lishen said, “We can’t break out in the daytime, we’ll wait until night, you try to cut off the ox tendon binding our hands and feet, let us rush out and kill the enemy under the darkness.”

    “This plan is wonderful,” Wei Xiaobao said, “But I am afraid it is not extremely certain.” He paced back and forth in the room, pondering the best solution.

    Ao Biao said, “We’d better just make a dash out, if we fail, the worst that can happen is we die anyway.”

    “Ao Shige,” Liu Yizhou said, “Don’t interrupt Gui Gong-gong’s train of thought.” Ao Biao glared angrily at him.

    Wei Xiaobao thought, “It would be best to use some drug; if the Imperial Bodyguards are drugged, I don’t have to harm any human life.” Walking out the room, he said to Zhang Kangnian, “Zhang Dage, I want to use some drug, I wonder if you could fix some for me immediately?”

    “Sure, sure,” Zhang Kangnian said with a laugh, “Zhao Er Ge [second older brother] has some ready-made knockout drug; I’ll get it right away.”

    “Zhao Er Ge has some ready-made knockout drug?” Wei Xiaobao asked, “Whatever for?”

    Lowering his voice, Zhang Kangnian said, “Not concealing anything from Gui Gong-gong; the day before yesterday Deputy Chief Rui ordered us to arrest somebody, he told us to do it quietly, not to make it known publicly. This man’s martial art skill was profound, we were afraid that to fight him openly with saber and spear would mean sacrificing a lot of human lives; not only that, we would not be able to capture him alive, so Zhao Er Ge fixed some knockout drug to do the trick.”

    Wei Xiaobao thought, “Unable to defeat others, you use a dirty trick.” He asked, “Was it a great success?”

    “Stretch a hand and grab it,” Zhang Kangnian replied.

    Hearing it was Rui Dong who sent them on a mission, Wei Xiaobao probed further, “Who was it that you were supposed to arrest? What did he violate?”

    “It was the Commander of the Bordered Red Banner Hochabo,” Zhang Kangnian replied, “I heard he offended the Empress Dowager. After the Deputy Chief Rui arrested him, he forced Hochabo to hand over some kind of scripture; afterwards, he pasted a sheet of mulberry bark paper on his mouth and nose, and thus suffocated him to his death.”

    Hearing this, Wei Xiaobao was secretly terrified, “Turns out that old wh0re is after that Forty-two-chapter Sutra again. After obtaining the sutra, why didn’t Rui Dong give it to the old wh0re immediately, but hid it on his body instead? Was he thinking of embezzling it for himself?” But then he immediately thought that in no way would Rui Dong dare to embezzle the sutra for himself. “Ah, right, as soon as the old wh0re saw Rui Dong, she did not have enough time to inquire about the sutra, because she immediately sent him out to kill me. Rui Dong was thinking of killing laozi first before handing over the sutra. In the end, it turned into the opera of the ‘Battle of Chang Ban Po’ [Long Sloping Hillside], in which that clown [lit. Little Flowery Face] named Xiahou-something died and lost his treasured sword. Doesn't that turn laozi into Zhao Zilong of Changsan, who charged in and out of enemy formations seven times in succession?”[3] He casually asked, “What kind of sutra was that? It sounds very important.”

    “We do not know,” Zhang Kangnian replied, “Let me go get the knockout drug.”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “I’ll have to bother you some more: please tell the Catering Department to deliver two tables of top-notch feast here. I want to invite all brothers for a banquet.”

    Zhang Kangnian happily said, “Gong-gong wants to reward us with food and wine. As long as we follow Gong-gong, we won’t have to worry about the lack of food and drink for the rest of our lives.”

    Not too long afterwards, Zhang Kangnian was back with the knockout drug. It was packaged in a very large bundle, perhaps it was more than half a catty. In a low voice he said, “This large bundle of drug is enough to put several hundred people to sleep. For only one person, take a little bit with a finger nail like this, mix it with tea or wine, it should be enough.” He then ordered the Imperial Bodyguards to move the table and arrange the stools, telling them it was Gui Gong-gong who bestow them the wine. The Imperial Bodyguards were delighted, they busily do the bidding.

    Wei Xiaobao said, “Set the banquet in the prisoner room. We are having a good time, let those three damn assassins watch and be jealous, I want them to drool.”

    The banquet table set up, the eunuch manager of the imperial kitchen, leading several little eunuchs and ‘sula’ [Book note: The low-level, odd jobs servants in the Qing Palace were called ‘sula’ in the Manchu dialect.] arrived, carrying boxes of food on shoulder poles. They set the dishes and wine pots on the table.

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “You, three rebellious thieves, have committed treason and heresy, your death is imminent, yet you still reluctant to admit your mistake. Right now you may watch your masters eating and drinking, if you can’t endure your appetite, just bark like a dog, laoye will reward you with a piece of meat.” The crowd of Imperial Bodyguards burst out in laughter.

    “Dog Imperial Bodyguards, stinky eunuch,” Wu Lishen cursed, “Our Ping Xi Wang will soon dispatch troops from Yunnan all the way to attack Beijing, he will seize all of you, Imperial Bodyguards and a bunch of eunuchs, and will throw you into the river to feed the tortoises.”

    Wei Xiaobao’s right hand entered his pocket, his palm grabbed half a handful of knockout drug. With his left hand he picked up the wine pot, and walked toward Wu Lishen. Raising the wine pot he laughed and said, “Rebellious thieve, do you want to drink wine?”

    Wu Lishen did not understand Wei Xiaobao’s intention, he said loudly, “Drink or not, I don’t care! When Ping Xi Wang’s troops arrive, it will be difficult for you, little eunuch, to escape alive.”

    With a cold laugh Wei Xiaobao said, “That’s not necessarily true!” Raising the wine pot high, he tossed his head backward, and poured the wine from high in the air into his open wide mouth. He swallowed a mouthful of wine and praised, “Nice wine!” He positioned the wine pot in his left hand level with his chest and pushed the pot’s lid aside with his right-hand’s forefinger, and then spilled the knockout drug in the palm of his right hand into the pot, and quickly pushed the lid back. He raised the pot in his left hand again, and shook it continuously in the air, while saying with a laugh, “Good rebellious thieve, death is near at hand, you still talk nonsense.” When he dropped the knockout drug into the pot, his body was covering the wine pot; other than Wu Lishen, nobody else saw him doing it. He shook the wine pot to mix the knockout drug with the wine.

    Wu Lishen looked at Wei Xiaobao’s eyes; he understood immediately, and was secretly delighted. With a loud voice he said, “Real man looks at death in the eye, if I open my mouth to beg forgiveness, I am not a real man. Just give that pot of wine to me, laozi will drink it without a moment’s hesitation.”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, "You want to drink wine, I am not going to give you any, ha ha, ha ha!" Turning around, he walked back to the banquet table and filled the Imperial Bodyguards' cups to the brim.

    Zhang Kangnian and the guards all stood up, saying, "We don't dare; how can we let Gong-gong pour the wine?"

    "We are all brothers," Wei Xiaobao said, "Why be so polite?" Raising his own cup, he said, "Please, please!"

    The Imperial Bodyguards were just about to drink the wine when suddenly there was a shout from the outside, "The Empress Dowager summons Xiao Guizi. Is Xiao Guizi here?"

    Wei Xiaobao was shocked. "In here!" he replied, and put the wine cup down. He thought, "The old wh0re is looking for me? What does she want?" as he walked outside to meet the newcomers. He saw four eunuchs; the leader was a big man with both his chest and belly sticking out, he looked rather impressive. Wei Xiaobao kneeled down immediately and said, "Servant Xiao Guizi receives the imperial decree."

    The eunuch said, "The Empress Dowager has something important for you; you are to report to the Palace of Compassionate and Peaceful immediately."

    "Yes, yes," Wei Xiaobao replied. He stood up, while thinking, "The drugged wine is already poured. As soon as I leave, naturally the Imperial Bodyguards will drink it immediately, then my trickery will be exposed. Nothing I can do about it. But I must not go to Palace of Compassionate and Peaceful. Do you think Palace of Compassionate and Peaceful is Lovely Spring Courtyard? Where the old wh0re invites moneybags, young and old?" Right now he had numerous Imperial Bodyguards by his side, so he was not afraid at all. He laughed and asked, "Gong-gong, what's your honorable surname? How come we have never met before?"

    "Humph!" the eunuch snorted; he said, "My name is Dong Jinkui. Let's go now. The Empress Dowager is waiting, we have been looking for you for half of the day!"

    Wei Xiaobao stepped forward and got hold of the eunuch's wrist, saying, "Dong Gong-gong, come and see something interesting." He pulled the eunuch toward the inside room.

    Hearing it was something interesting, Dong Jinkui followed him inside. But as he entered the inner hall, he saw two banquet tables. "Good!" he said in a loud voice, "You live a very happy and prosperous life. Xiao Guizi, the Empress Dowager appointed you to be in charge of the Catering Department, yet you use your official authority for private interest, you are squandering the Empress Dowager and His Majesty's money."

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, "These Imperial Bodyguards brothers have rendered great service by capturing the thieves, His Majesty ordered me to reward all of them, from top to bottom. Come, come, come, Dong Gong-gong, and these three Gong-gong, please sit down and drink a cup."

    Dong Jinkui shook his head and said, "I don't drink! The Empress Dowager summons you, why don't you quickly go?"

    Wei Xiaobao said with a laugh, "These Imperial Bodyguards officers are all good friends, if you do not even want to drink a cup with them, you will look down on them too much."

    "I don't drink wine," Dong Jinkui said.

    Wei Xiaobao turned to Zhang Kangnian and gave him a wink; he said, "Zhang Dage, this Dong Gong-gong's arrogance is not small, he does not want to drink with us."

    Zhang Kangnian raised a cup and pushed it toward Dong Jinkui's hand; he said with a laugh, "Dong Gong-gong, we all enjoy this reward together." Dong Jinkui did not have any choice, he dried up a cup.

    "Now that's what I call a good friend," Wei Xiaobao said with a laugh, "The other three Gong-gong must also drink a cup." The three eunuchs received three cups from the Imperial Bodyguards' hands, they also drank the wine.

    "Good!" Wei Xiaobao said, "Now everybody accompany them by drinking a cup." He poured wine into four more empty cups. The Imperial Bodyguards raised their cups and drank their wine.

    When raising his cup, Wei Xiaobao used the sleeve of his left hand to cover the wine cup, when he tossed the cup, he poured the wine into his sleeve. Afraid that one cup was not potent enough, he wanted to pour another cup for everybody, but an Imperial Bodyguard took the wine pot from him and said, "Let me pour!"

    Dong Jinkui frowned and said, "Gui Gong-gong, when we heard the Empress Dowager summons us, everybody would be on our feet and rush to answer. Why do you leisurely mind your own business by drinking wine? Aren't you being too disrespectful?"

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, "Of course I have my reason. Come, come, come, everybody drink another cup, and then I'll explain."

    Zhang Kangnian raised his cup toward Dong Jinkui and said, "Dong Gong-gong, please."

    "I don't have time to drink wine," Dong Jinkui said, but when he said that, his body swayed slightly.

    Wei Xiaobao knew the knockout drug in Dong Jinkui's stomach was about to take effect; he stooped down suddenly and cried out, "Aiyo, my tummy hurts!"

    The Imperial Bodyguards felt dizzy; someone cried out, "What happened? Something's wrong with the wine!"

    Wei Xiaobao shouted angrily, "Dong Gong-gong, you received order from the Empress Dowager to reward us with poisonous wine, didn't you? Why did you put poison in the wine?"

    Dong Jinkui was greatly shocked, with a trembling voice he said, "There ... there's no such thing."

    [1] Orig. 义薄云天. Only in formal Chinese does '薄' mean 'approach/reaches'; thus, it's very natural for Wei Xiaobao to interpret it as meaning 'thin/meager', which is what '薄' usually means. (Courtesy of Ren Wo Xing)

    [2] Orig. ‘a thousand pounds hangs by a thread’.

    [3] The battle of Chang Ban Po was one of the most famous battles in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, in large part due to the heroics of Liu Bei's general Zhao Yun, also known as Zhao Zilong. In the battle, Zhao Zilong slew Xiahou En [whom Wei Xiaobao called 'Xiaohou-something') and took the precious 'Qinggang Sword', which actually belonged to Cao Cao himself, from Xiaohou En's corpse. With the Qinggang Sword, his own spear, and while carrying Liu Bei's only son Liu Shan, Zhao Zilong charged in and out of Cao Cao's formations seven times in succession, slaying over 50 of Cao Cao's commanders, before finally being able to break through and escape with Liu Bei's child. Cao Cao, witnessing his valor, had ordered his archers not to shoot at Zhao Yun, hoping to take him alive and sway him to his own side. (Courtesy of Ren Wo Xing)

  17. #97
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 13 - Part 8

    Wei Xiaobao said, "Your method is quite ruthless, you dare to poison the wine? Brothers, let us stake our lives to fight him."

    The Imperial Bodyguards were dizzy and light-headed, they were already at the brink of losing their consciousness. 'Crash! Bang!' Two of the eunuchs were already unable to withstand the power of the drug, they fell down first, followed by Dong Jinkui, Zhang Kangnian, the rest of the Imperial Bodyguards and the remaining eunuch crashed down one after another onto the tables and the chairs; it was very chaotic.

    Wei Xiaobao rushed forward and landed a kick on Dong Jinkui's body. "Ugh!" Dong Jinkui grunted, his hands and feet twitched, but he was unable to open his eyes. Wei Xiaobao was ecstatic; he rushed to close the door first, and then pulling his dagger, he stabbed Dong Jinkui and the three eunuchs on the chest. "Ah!" Liu Yizhou cried out in great surprise. Wei Xiaobao used the dagger to cut off the ox tendon binding Wu Lishen, Liu Yizhou and Ao Biao's hands and feet. His dagger could cut iron like cutting mud, it cut the ox tendon like cutting noodles. Wu Lishen and the others, three people's martial art skill was not weak, especially Wu Lishen whose skill was very profound. Although they were tortured, it was no more than skin and flesh wound, their muscles and bones were not harmed at all.

    "Gui Gong-gong," Liu Yizhou said, "How ... how are we going to go out?"

    Wei Xiaobao said, "Wu Laoyezi, Ao Shixiong, find Imperial Bodyguards whose statures are similar to yours, wear their uniforms. Liu Shixiong, you don't have any facial hair, you may disguise yourself as an eunuch, take this surnamed Dong's clothing."

    "Can I disguise myself as an Imperial Bodyguard?" Liu Yizhou asked.

    "No, can't do! You must dress as an eunuch," Wei Xiaobao said. Liu Yizhou did not dare to argue, he simply nodded. The three of them quickly changed their clothes.

    Wei Xiaobao said, "Come with me. No matter who talk with you, just act dumb, do not reply anything." From his pocket he took out the dissolving powder. He pulled Dong Jinkui's body to the corner of the room. Using his dagger, he stabbed several times on the upper and lower parts of the corpse, and then sprinkled some powder on each hole to dissolve the body quicker. Only then did he open the door and led the three people out.

    Once they were out of the Imperial Bodyguard building, he closed the door behind him, and walked directly toward the Catering Department.

    The Catering Department was located east of the Heavenly Purity Palace, it was very close to the Imperial Bodyguard building, so they arrived in almost no time at all. They saw Boss Qian had already been waiting respectfully, his men were carrying two big pigs, already washed out and very clean.

    Wei Xiaobao's countenance sank, "Old Qian," he shouted harshly, "You are very unreasonable! I told you to bring several good pigs, not thin and dry like this, some old sows that look like they have given birth to seventeen, eighteen litters to skimp on Laozi. You ... you ... damn it, do you still want to eat?"

    As he prattled on, Boss Qian bowed down in fear and repeatedly said, "Yes!"

    The eunuchs of the imperial kitchen saw that the two pigs Boss Qian brought were actually big and fat, but the details in which the goods was delivered was actually the only way the eunuch manager of the imperial kitchen took a cut. It did not matter if the cattle, sheep, chicken or duck you delivered was extremely superior, in the mouth of the eunuch manager of the imperial kitchen it all turned into a spoiled, low quality goods that even if it were given as alms to the beggars, nobody would want it. Only if the delivery was accompanied by a bag of money the spoiled, low quality goods would then turn into high-quality goods fit to be eaten by the Emperor or Empress Dowager. When the eunuchs heard Wei Xiaobao, it dawned on them what was going on; they echoed Wei Xiaobao, "Take them out! These two pigs are stinky and rotten, they are only good to be used as fertilizer in the vegetable garden."

    Wei Xiaobao grew angrier, he waved his hand and said to Wu Lishen and the others, three people, "Imperial Bodyguard brothers and Gonggong, please escort this fellow out, kick them out of the Palace altogether and don't let them come back in."

    Boss Qian did not know Wei Xiaobao's intention; showing his concern, he said, "Gong-gong, please forgive me for this incident, Xiao ... Xiaoren will come back with fatter and bigger pigs, plus some meager ... meager gift for Gong-gong. This time ... I am asking Gong-gong to bear with me."

    Wei Xiaobao said, "If I want pork, I will send someone to get you. Now go, get lost!"

    Bowing deep, Boss Qian said, "Yes, yes!"

    The eunuchs of the imperial kitchen looked at each other with a smirk on their faces, they thought, "If you have brought a gift, naturally Gui Gong-gong won't drive you away."

    Wu Lishen, Liu Yizhou and Ao Biao, three people followed behind Boss Qian, busily pushing him out of the kitchen. Wei Xiaobao also went out after them. When they reached the corridor, he looked around and after ascertaining that nobody else was around, he said in low voice, "Qian Laoxiong [old brother], these three gentlemen are Mu Palace's heroes; the first one is none other than the renowned Shaking-head Lion Wu Laoyezi."

    "Ah!" Qian Laoben exclaimed, "It's an honor to meet you at last," he said happily, "Zaixia did not turn my head to greet the three gentlemen, please do not hold it against me."

    Hearing that he was Wei Xiaobao's companion, Wu Lishen was delighted, and said busily, "We are in a dangerous place, this ought to be so."

    "Qian Laoge [old brother]," Wei Xiaobao said, "Please tell your honorable society's Wei Xiangzhu that Lai Li Tou Xiao Sanzi has accomplished the mission, please take these three good friends to see Mu Family's Xiao Gongye and Liu Laoyezi. As soon as these three friends left, the Palace will pursue the assassins immediately, you might not be able to enter the Palace anymore."

    "Yes, yes," Qian Laoben said, "My humble society, from top to bottom, is highly indebted to Gong-gong's kindness."

    Wu Lishen asked, "So this Qian friend is from Tian Di Hui?"

    "Exactly," Boss Qian replied.

    The five of them quickly walked toward the Shen Wu Gate. The guards on the gate saw Wei Xiaobao and respectfully asked his well-being, "Gui Gong-gong, how are you?"

    "Everybody, how are you?" Wei Xiaobao replied. Although the Imperial Bodyguards did not recognize Wu Lishen and the others, three people, seeing Wei Xiaobao was pulling Wu Lishen's right arm, nobody dared to ask anything.

    The five of them left the Shen Wu Gate and walked several dozens more steps. Wei Xiaobao said, "Zaixia will have to return to the Palace, I'm sure we will meet again someday. You don't need to be overly courteous."

    Wu Lishen said, "We do not dare to hope for repaying your kindness in saving our lives. Hereafter if Tian Di Hui has any urgent business, the Old Wu and Old Ao, master and disciple, will go through water and tread on fire without hesitation."

    "I don't dare," Wei Xiaobao said. He saw that Liu Yizhou, who was walking ahead in big strides, turning his head to look at them, as if blaming Wu Lishen for not walking quicker; this place was not far from the Palace Gate, they were not out of danger yet.

    Wei Xiaobao smiled slightly, and walked back toward the Shen Wu Gate. He said to the Imperial Bodyguards at the Gate, "That Gong-gong is the Empress Dowager's trusted aide, he said he is being sent on mission by the Empress Dowager, he asked me to personally escort those few men out of the Palace. Damn it, don't they know the way out?"

    "They are so arrogant!" the Imperial Bodyguards replied, "How can they dare to tire out Gui Gong-gong? Who do they think they are? The Prince[1]?"

    Another Imperial Bodyguard said, "Even the Prince will not ask Gui Gong-gong to personally escort him out."

    Wei Xiaobao shook his head and said, "They are the Empress Dowager's envoy, they action is unfathomable, I have suspicion in my heart, but that eunuch showed me a decree in the Empress Dowager’s personal handwriting, so we as the servants won’t dare not to obey, right?”

    “Yes, yes!” the Imperial Bodyguards replied, “What can we do about it?”

    Wei Xiaobao returned to the Imperial Bodyguard building and saw everyone was still unconscious, nobody awoke yet. He scooped a pot of cold water and splashed it onto Zhang Kangnian’s head. Zhang Kangnian slowly woke up, he smiled and said. “Gui Gong-gong, how could I be drunk that easily?” He was embarrassed as he sat up. As he saw the condition of the room, he was greatly shocked. “How … how … those assassins … are they gone?” he said with a trembling voice.

    Wei Xiaobao said, “The Empress Dowager sent that surnamed Dong eunuch to drug us all, and took the three assassins away.”

    The knockout drug was clearly coming from Zhang Kangnian who had personally fetched it and given it to Wei Xiaobao. When he heard this, he did not believe it the least bit, but the effect of the drug had not vanished completely, his mind was still muddled, he did not know how to reply.

    “Zhang Dage,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Chief Dolong secretly told you to let the assassins out, didn’t he?”

    Zhang Kangnian nodded. “Chief Dolong said that it was His Majesty’s secret order; after the assassins are released, we are to investigate who the rebellious thief boss is.”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “That’s right. But when the assassins escape from the Palace, are the guards watching over them guilty or not?”

    Zhang Kangnian was startled. “That … that … naturally we are guilty, but … but it was Chief Dolong himself who gave us the order. We are the subordinates, we only followed orders.”

    “Did Chief Dolong give you any written order?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

    Zhang Kangnian was even more startled. “He … he did not,” he replied, “He said it with his own mouth, why should … why should I need a written order? Chief Dolong said it was His Majesty’s order.”

    “Did Chief Dolong show you His Majesty’s imperial edict in his own handwriting?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

    “No … he did not,” Zhang Kangnian’s voice trembled, “Could it be … could it be that Chief Dolong did not tell the truth?” His entire body trembled, his teeth chattered, making a ‘click, click’ noise.

    “Not that he did not tell the truth,” Wei Xiaobao said, “I am only afraid Chief Dolong would not want to admit mistakes, at the last moment he might shift the blame on you; won’t that be terrible? Zhang Dage, why did His Majesty want to set the assassins free?”

    Zhang Kangnian said, “Chief Dolong said that we want to extract the information on who is the mastermind behind this from the three assassins.”

    “That is the truth,” Wei Xiaobao said, “It’s just that when the assassins escape from the Palace, and this matter is not investigated, even the assassins won’t believe it. And then the mastermind behind them could not be found. Perhaps His Majesty would execute several people and announce it publicly, so that the assassins won’t get suspicious.”

    By saying this, Wei Xiaobao was not slandering the Emperor; Kangxi did order him to kill several Imperial Bodyguards to make the assassins believe him.

    Zhang Kangnian was so frightened that he fell on his knees and cried out, “Gong-gong, please save me!” While repeatedly kowtowed to Wei Xiaobao.

    “Zhang Dage is overly courteous,” Wei Xiaobao said. He reached out to help him up, and said with a laugh, “We have some friends readily available to take the blame. We’ll shift the blame onto those four eunuchs’ heads. We’ll say they used knockout drug to drug us all and set the assassins free; won’t that clear you from responsibility? When His Majesty hears that these four eunuchs were sent by the Empress Dowager, naturally he won’t investigate it further. His Majesty did not really want to kill you, as long as there is someone to take the blame, we will cover up this matter of escaping assassins. His Majesty may even reward you.”

    Zhang Kangnian was ecstatic, “Wonderful, wonderful!” he cried out, “Thank you Gong-gong, for your kindness in saving my life.”

    Wei Xiaobao mused, “Even if I did not save your life, but by not killing you with a stab when you were unconscious, I have actually shown you mercy. With his own golden mouth the Emperor has ordered me to kill several Imperial Bodyguards.” He said, “Let us quickly awaken the brothers, we’ll tell them that those four eunuchs have come to set the assassins free.”

    "Yes, yes!" Zhang Kangnian replied, yet he was still unsure whether he could really escape the responsibility. In his frightened state, his limbs felt weak. He scooped up some cold water and revived the Imperial Bodyguards.

    When they all heard that eunuch Dong Jinkui had drugged them, killed the other three eunuchs, and rescued the three assassins, they all broke into cursing and swearing. But in their hearts they all wondered, "Why did the Empress Dowager want to release the assassins? Could it be that those assassins were sent by the Empress Dowager?" But since it involved the Empress Dowager, they only dared to ponder it in their hearts, nobody dared to voice their doubt publicly. By this time Dong Jinkui's body, as well as his clothes, had already vanished completely, they all assumed that he had led the assassins out of the Palace.

    Wei Xiaobao returned to his own residence. As soon as he entered the inner room, Mu Jianping busily asked, "Gui Dage, do you have any news?"

    "Gui Dage does not have any news," Wei Xiaobao replied, "But Good Gege has some."

    Mu Jianping smiled and said, "It's not me who is anxious about the news. The one who is anxious is the one who should call you Good Gege."

    A burst of redness appeared on Fang Yi's face. "Good Xiongdi[2]!" she said in a low voice, "You are younger than I am, I'll just call you Good Xiongdi, is that alright?"

    Wei Xiaobao sighed and said, "My good wife has turned into my good Jiejie[3], in an instant the hen has turned into a duck. It's alright. I have rescued him!"

    Fang Yi sat up abruptly. With a trembling voice she said, "You ... did you say my Liu Shige has been rescued out?"

    Wei Xiaobao said, "A real man gave his words, some horses cannot chase it. I promised you I would rescue him, naturally I did."

    "How ... how did you save him?" Fang Yi asked.

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, "A recluse sage possesses a brilliant scheme. Next time you see your Shige, he can tell you in person."

    Fang Yi heaved a deep sigh, she raised her head toward the ceiling and said, "Thank the Heaven and thank the Earth, it is indeed Bodhisattva's blessing."

    Seeing Fang Yi's expression, which clearly showed her delight from the bottom of her heart, Wei Xiaobao was enraged, he snorted softly, and no longer said anything.

    Mu Jianping said, "Shijie, you thank the Heaven and thank the Earth, and thank Bodhisattva, how come you did not thank the Good Xiongdi?"

    Fang Yi said, "Good Xiongdi's great benevolence and kindness cannot be repaid by simply saying one 'thank you'."

    Listening to her, Wei Xiaobao's cheerful mood returned; "You don't need to repay me," he said.

    "Good Xiongdi, did Liu Shige say anything?" Fang Yi asked.

    "He did not say much," Wei Xiaobao replied, "He only asked me to save him."

    "Um, did he ask about us?" Fang Yi asked.

    Wei Xiaobao cocked his head to think, then he said, "He did not. I told him that you are in a very safe place, and that he doesn't have to worry, soon I may send you out to meet him."

    Fang Yi nodded. "Yes!" she said. Suddenly two lines of tears flowing down her cheeks.

    "Shijie," Mu Jianping said, "Why are you crying?"

    Fang Yi said with a sob, "I ... I am so happy in my heart."

    Wei Xiaobao said in his heart, "Damn it, for that pretty boy[4] Liu Yizhou you are this happy, laozi does not like to look at this tumultuous wave too much. Xiao Xuanzi told me to investigate the mastermind behind the assassination attempt, I'd better go out to fool around a little bit, then come back to report to him."

    Leaving the Palace immediately, he strolled leisurely around the Heavenly Bridge area.

    [1]Orig. 亲王贝勒 (qin wang bei lei) 亲王, meaning 'royal prince', and 贝勒, which is a Mongolian title which means much the same thing; i.e., a prince with blood ties to the royal family, usually a son of an Emperor. (Courtesy of Ren Wo Xing)

    [2] Reminder: Xiongdi is a generic term for 'brother', as opposed to Gege, which is a term of endearment (sometimes even carries romantic notion) to address a male older than oneself.

    [3] Jiejie is the female counterpart of Gege. See note 18 above.

    [4] Orig. Xiao Bai Lian - little white face.

  18. #98
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    Default Chapter 14 - Part 1

    Chapter 14 - Exiles willing to perish for the hatred of a nation, seasons change the grieve for suffering people.
    (Translated by Foxs)


    The scholar rose upward, suddenly he felt his left ankle was grabbed. Swiftly he moved his right foot to kick Chen Jinnan’s face. Chen Jinnan picked up a small table beside him and raised it to block. 'Crash!' the mahogany table was smashed.

  19. #99
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    Default Chapter 14 - Part 2

    The area nearby the Heavenly Bridge of Beijing was full of peddlers selling all kinds of goods and street performers, it was also the place where Jianghu wanderers congregate. Wei Xiaobao had not come near the area when he saw twenty officers from the yamen with two bailiffs on the lead, dragging an iron chain, in which five shabby-clothed peddlers were locked. The officers were carrying seven or eight poles made of straw bundled together, the straw poles were full of candied fruits on sticks [bing tang hu lu, see previous chapter], so those five peddlers were obviously selling candied fruits.

    Wei Xiaobao’s heart was moved, he dodged to the side; as he watched the five peddlers locked by the officers passed by, he heard from among the crowd an old man said with a sigh, “These years, even selling candied fruits is violating the law of heavens.”

    Wei Xiaobao was just about to inquire when suddenly he heard a cough, someone was coming close to him, the man had bent waist and hunched back, all the hair on his head was white, he was none other than the Eight-Armed Ape Xu Tianchuan. He signaled Wei Xiaobao with his eyes, and turned around to leave. Wei Xiaobao followed behind him. When they were in a secluded spot, Xu Tianchuan said, “Wei Xiangzhu, great news!”

    Wei Xiaobao smiled slightly, he thought, “So you knew about I rescued Wu Lishen and the others out.” He said, “It was nothing.”

    Xu Tianchuan stared at him. “Nothing?” he said, “Zongduozhu is here!”

    Wei Xiaobao was startled, “My … my Shifu is here?” he stammered.

    “Exactly,” Xu Tianchuan said, “He arrived last night, he wanted me to try to contact Wei Xiangzhu, and have you meet the Senior immediately.”

    “Yes, yes!” Wei Xiaobao said. He had not seen his Shifu for more than half a year, and had not practiced martial art at all. When Shifu saw him, he might inquire the progress of Wei Xiaobao’s training, and he would have had to turn in a blank exam paper, how would it be good? Trying to stall, he said, “I am on an errand from the Emperor, I must return and report immediately. Let me finish this mission, and then I’ll see Shifu.”

    Xu Tianchuan said, “Zongduozhu instructed me that he cannot stay in Beijing for long, he is asking Wei Xiangzhu to see him immediately no matter what.”

    Seeing he could not make any more excuses, Wei Xiaobao did not have any choice but to brace himself and follow behind Xu Tianchuan toward Tian Di Hui’s temporary lodging. He mused, “If only I knew, these days I would simply stay inside the Palace and do not go out. Shifu can’t possibly come into the Palace and grab me out.”

    Before they even entered the alley, he had already seen Tian Di Hui brethrens scattered around on the side of the street and at the mouth of the alley, acting as lookouts for their Zongduozhu. As he entered the building, he saw more people standing on guard by the doors.

    When they reached the rear hall, he saw Chen Jinnan was sitting in the middle, talking to Li Lishi, Guan Anji, Fan Gang, Priest Xuanzhen, Qi Biaoqing, and the others. Wei Xiaobao rushed forward and kneeled down on the floor, calling out, “Shifu, you, Senior have arrived, now you may bring your disciple to a stop.”

    “Good, good, good child,” Chen Jinnan said with a laugh, “Everybody praises you very much.”

    Wei Xiaobao stood up; seeing his Shifu’s expression was very warm, half of the load in his heart was gone. “Shifu, are you well?” he asked.

    Chen Jinnan smiled and said, “I am very well. How is your martial art training? Is there any area which is not clear to you?”

    Wei Xiaobao had already considered how he was going to offer excuses when his Shifu investigate his martial art training. Shifu was very astute, he would not be easily fooled, Wei Xiaobao would have to change according to the situation; he said, “There are a lot of areas not clear to me, I was hoping Shifu would come so I could ask Shifu for directions.”

    Chen Jinnan smiled and said, “Very good, this time I want to stay with you for a few days so that I can instruct you well.”

    As he was saying this, the brother guarding the gate hurried came in, bowed and said, “Reporting to Zongduozhu: some people are paying a visit, they say they are from Mu Palace of Yunnan, Mu Jiansheng and Liu Dahong.”

    Chen Jinnan was greatly delighted; he stood up and said, “Let’s greet them quickly.”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “Disciple has not changed my attire, it’s rather inconvenient to meet them.”

    “You’re right,” Chen Jinnan said, “Wait for me in the back.”

    Tian Di Hui people flocked out to greet the guests, Wei Xiaobao turned around toward the back of the hall, pulled a chair, and sat down.

    Before long, he heard Liu Dahong’s loud and clear laughter, saying, “Zaixia’s lifelong aspiration is to see the world-famous Chen Zongduozhu. Today my desire is fulfilled, I am truly delighted.”

    Chen Jinnan said, “To received Old Hero Liu’s respected affection, Zaixia is ashamed and dare not accept the honor.” They were entering the hall as they talked, and sat in their respective places as guests and hosts.

    Mu Jiansheng said, “Is your honorable Society’s Wei Xiangzhu not here? Zaixia wants to personally thank him. Not one in my humble home, from top to bottom, does not appreciate Wei Xiangzhu’s great benevolence and kindness.”

    Chen Jinnan had not known the reason, he was puzzled. “Wei Xiaobao is a very young child, Xiao Gongye holds him in such a high regard, you are praising the little kid too much.”

    Someone said with a loud voice, “Zaixia, master and disciple, along with this Liu Shizhi [martial nephew Liu], our lives are saved by Wei Xiangzhu. Wei Xiangzhu’s righteousness reaches the clouds and the sky. Zaixia has told your honorable Society’s Qian Shifu, if honorable Society ever has any urgent business, the one surnamed Wu, master and disciple, will receive the orders any time.” From his voice, Wei Xiaobao knew he was the ‘Shaking Head Lion’ Wu Lishen.

    Chen Jinnan was still unclear, he asked, “Qian Xiongdi, what matter was that?”

    Qian Laoben accompanied Wu Lishen and the other, three people, to Mu Jiansheng’s residence, and was invited to enjoy meat and wine together with them. Afterwards, Mu Jiansheng and Liu Dahong personally took their people, asking Qian Laoben to lead the way, to Tian Di Hui’s temporary lodging to express their gratitude. They did not expect Zongduozhu to be there. Presently, hearing Chen Jinnan’s question, he briefly narrated what had happened. He said that Wei Xiangzhu had a good friend, who was an eunuch in the Qing Palace. This friend had accepted Wei Xiangzhu’s request, in spite of the danger, he had rescued Wu Lishen, three people, and had them out of the Palace.

    As soon as Chen Jinnan heard the story, he knew that this good friend of Wei Xiangzhu was none other than Wei Xiaobao himself. He was very pleased, and said with a laugh, “Xiao Gongye, Liu Laoyezi, Wu Dage, the three of you are too polite. Our humble Society and your Mu Palace are working on a common cause. When one of our own is in trouble, we ought to lend a hand, that is only proper; how can you consider it as some benevolence or kindness that needs to be repaid? That Wei Xiaobao is Zaixia’s young disciple, he is young and does not understand much, it’s just that concerning yi qi, these two characters, he holds it in such a high regard …” Speaking to this point, he hesitated, “Xiaobao mingling in Qing Palace is actually a top secret, I hope he can pry into important classified information in the Palace to the benefit of the great undertaking of fighting the Qing restoring the Ming. Since he had accomplished this major mission, sooner or later this news will spread in the Jianghu. If I conceal it from the Mu Palace, it will mean I am not regarding them as friends.”

    Wu Lishen said, “We really want to see Wei Xiangzhu to express our gratitude in person.”

    Chen Jinnan laughed and said, “We are all good friends, although the implication of this matter will not be small, I can’t conceal it from you. The one mingling in the Palace and became a little eunuch is my young disciple Wei Xiaobao himself. Xiaobao, come out and greet these Seniors.”

    From behind the wall of the hall Wei Xiaobao replied, “Yes!” He turned around and came out, cupping his fist to salute everybody.

    Mu Jiansheng, Liu Dahong, Wu Lishen, and the others stood up simultaneously, they were greatly amazed. They did not expect Wei Xiangzhu to be a little eunuch. Wu Lishen, Ao Biao, Liu Yizhou, three people did not expect the little eunuch who saved their lives was Wei Xiangzhu of Tian Di Hui.

    With a giggle Wei Xiaobao said to Wu Lishen, “Wu Laoyezi, just now in the imperial Palace, junior was telling you a fake name, would Senior please don’t blame me.”

    Wu Lishen said, “We were in a dangerous place, it ought to be so. I was just talking to Ao Biao, that young hero handles the matter neatly, he has guts, he has lofty quality, he is truly an extraordinary character; how can there be such distinguished person in the Tatars’ womb? We were feeling strange. Turns out he is a Xiangzhu of Tian Di Hui. That’s … hey, hey, no wonder, no wonder!” While saying that, he raised his thumb and did not stop shaking his head, his face showed his great admiration.

    ‘Shaking Head Lion’ Wu Lishen was Liu Dahong’s younger martial brother, his reputation in Jianghu was quite resounding. Hearing him praising and commending his disciple, Chen Jinnan was greatly delighted. He laughed and said, “Wu Xiong should not praise him too much, you are spoiling a little child.”

    Liu Dahong tossed his head backwards and laughed aloud, he said, “Chen Zongduozhu, you alone can occupy the most prestigious position in the Wulin world. Your martial art skill is profound, your reputation is resounding, Tian Di Hui prospers like this under your leadership, moreover, you have received such a disciple who adds glory to you.”

    Chen Jinnan cupped his fist and said, “Liu Laoyezi, by saying that, you are spoiling me.”

    Liu Dahong said, “Chen Zongduozhu, in all my life, the number of people whom the one surnamed Liu admires is not that many. Your elegant manner has made me admire you from the bottom of my heart. Someday when the Tatars have been driven away and our Fifth Prince Zhu ascends the dragon throne, there won’t be a better person to be the Prime Minister other than yourself.”

    Chen Jinnan smiled slightly and said, “Zaixia is without virtue and without ability, how can I dare to accept such an eminent status?”

    Qi Biaoqing interrupted, “Liu Laoyezi, after the Tatars are driven away, the Third Prince Zhu will become the Emperor, he will restore the Great Ming. Everybody will definitely invite you, Senior, to hold the Grand Marshal position over the soldiers and horses.”

    Liu Dahong’s eyes grew wide, he said, “You … what did you say? What Third Prince Zhu?”

    Qi Biaoqing said, “When the Son of Heaven Longwu died for his country, he left behind the Third Prince Zhu, who is temporarily taking his residence in Taiwan. When our rivers and mountains are restored, naturally he will become the ruler.”

    Liu Dahong sprang up, he said fiercely, “This time Tian Dihui saved my Shidi [younger martial brother] and his disciple, we have received great favor from you. But about the legitimacy of the Great Ming’s Son of Heaven, we must not make the least bit of mistake. Qi Laodi [old younger brother], the rightful Emperor ordained by heaven is clearly the Fifth Prince Zhu. Emperor Yongli was the rightful Emperor of the Great Ming, everybody in the world knows. You must not speak nonsense.”

    Chen Jinnan said, “Liu Laoyezi, please don’t lose your temper. There is an important task in front of us, namely contacting Jianghu heroes; together we will oppose the Manchurian Qing. As for whether it will be the Third Prince Zhu or Fifth Prince Zhu who will become the Emperor in the future, it is still too early to mention, we should not harm the friendship between us. Naturally who will be the legitimate Emperor of the Great Ming is an important matter, but it is not for us as the officers to understand clearly for a short while. Come, come, come, let’s have some wine, we’ll drink and be merry first. As long as everybody work together for a common purpose, namely to wipe out the Tatars, what matter cannot be discussed slowly?”

    Mu Jiansheng shook his head and said, “Chen Zongduozhu is wrong here! When the man is not just, the words will be unfavorable, when the words are unfavorable, the endeavor will not succeed. We are supporting the Fifth Prince Zhu not to covet any glory and riches. If only Chen Zongduozhu understood the ‘Mandate of Heaven’, you would display utter loyalty to the Fifth Prince Zhu. We from the Mu Palace, from top to bottom, exhort Chen Zongduozhu to the greatest extend not to dare to disobey.”

    Chen Jinnan smiled and shook his head. “The sky cannot have two suns, the people cannot have two rulers. The Third Prince Zhu is alive and well in Taiwan. Taiwan’s several hundred thousand troops, Tian Di Hui’s more than a hundred thousand brothers, have already vowed loyalty and devotion to the Thirds Prince Zhu long ago.”

    With glowering eyes Liu Dahong loudly said, “Chen Zongduozhu is talking about several hundred thousand troops, more than a hundred thousand brothers, are you trying to rely on numbers to gain victory? But the millions of common people all know that the Son of Heaven Yongli perished for his country in Myanmar, he was the last emperor of the Great Ming. If we do not stand up for the Emperor Yongli’s offspring, won’t we let this Son of Heaven of the Great Ming, who had suffered untold hardships, and finally died a horrible death, down?” If his voice was originally sounded like a mighty bell, this loud speech was even more ear-splitting; but at the end of his speech, his heart ached and his voice unexpectedly turned hoarse.

    Chen Jinnan’s visit to Beijing this time was actually to learn more about Xu Tianchuan, who because of the dispute about the legitimacy of King Tang over King Gui had had a fight with the Bai Family Brothers of the Mu Palace, to such an extent as to accidentally kill Bai Hansong. Chen Jinnan was wholeheartedly devoted to the great undertaking of fighting the Qing, restoring the Ming. If the Tatars had not been driven out, yet there was a struggle between partners of the common goal, the great endeavor of fighting the Qing would face severe obstacle. Therefore, as soon as he learned about it, he rushed in that same night from Henan to the Capital, hoping that by exercising extreme forbearance he would be able to obtain Mu Palace’s forgiveness.

    Upon his arrival in Beijing, he inquired right away and found out that the situation was much better than he anticipated. Tian Di Hui people in Beijing, under the leadership of Wei Xiaobao, had already met face to face with the head of the Mu Palace, neither side dishonor each other, there was hope yet for the better. After learning that Wei Xiaobao had saved Wu Lishen and the others, three people, he had no doubt that the unintentional killing of Ban Hansong by Xu Tianchuan would be settled. Unexpectedly Qi Biaoqing and Liu Dahong raised the subject of Tang-Gui’s strive for the throne; the situation had once again become gradually tense [lit. ‘with swords drawn and bows bent’].

    Seeing Liu Dahong shedding tears when talking about Yongli losing his life for his country, he could not help his own heart from hurting; he said, “His Majesty Yongli died for his country, man and heaven were angered. The people of old said, ‘Although Chu has only three households, when the Qin perishes, Chu must rise[1]’, much less our Han people, who are a hundred times more numerous than the Tatars? Although the Tatars’ power is great, our Han people must be ‘millions of people all of one mind’, there’s no need to worry about not able to drive out the barbarians and restoring our rivers and mountains. Mu Xiao Gongye, Liu Laoyezi, our hatred is unavenged, why do we have a dispute among ourselves first? Today we make a plan, we ought to work together with our heart and soul, to kill that servant Wu Sangui, to avenge His Majesty Yongli, and to avenge Mu Lao Gongye [old duke Mu].”

    Mu Jiansheng, Liu Dahong, Wu Lishen, and the others stood up and said together, “Very true, very true!” Some people had tears streaming down their faces, some people shook all over their bodies, they were all overwhelmed with excitement.

    Chen Jinnan continued, “In the end, whether it will be Long Wu or Yongli on the throne, we need not haggle over it now. Mu Xiao Gongye, Liu Laoyezi, heroes all over the world, whoever kill Wu Sangui, everybody will accept his orders!”

    Mu Jiansheng’s father, Mu Tianbo, was killed by Wu Sangui; day and night he always considered how to kill Wu Sangui. Hearing Chen Jinnan, he was the first to call out, “Exactly, whoever kills Wu Sangui, the heroes all over the world will accept his orders.”

    Chen Jinnan said, “Mu Xiao Gongye, my humble Society will make a pledge to your honorable Palace, if your honorable Palace’s hero kills Wu Sangui, Tian Di Hui, from top to bottom, will accept Mu Palace’s orders …”

    [1] Chu – a kingdom during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States (722-221 BC), Qin – Qin dynasty (221-207 BC).

  20. #100
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    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 14 - Part 3

    Mu Jiansheng caught on and said, “If Tian Di Hui’s hero kills Wu Sangui, Mu Family of Yunnan, from Mu Jiansheng to the next in line, each and every one will accept Chen Zongduozhu’s orders!” The two of them stretched out their hands and ‘clap!’ they struck each other palm.

    In Jianghu, an oath set up by three strikes of palms means neither side could renege on their words.

    The two of them had just about to strike their palms the second time when suddenly from the roof came a long laugh and a voice said, “What if I killed Wu Sangui?”

    From the east and west corners of the house some people shouted, “Who’s there?” Tian Di Hui people on guard duty rushed in to question the newcomer. There was a light clapping noise as someone leaped from the top of the house to the courtyard, the long window of the hall opened without any blowing wind, with speed beyond imagination, a dark green shadow flashed and entered the hall. From the east Guan Anji and Xu Tianchuan, from the west Liu Dahong and Wu Lishen, simultaneously stretched out their arms to block. The man lightly leaped up and flew over the top of the four men’s heads, and stood in front of Chen Jinnan and Mu Jiansheng.

    With Guan, Xu, Li and Wu, four people cooperating, unexpectedly they still failed to block. The man’s one foot barely landed on the floor, four people’s fingers had already grabbed his body. Guan Anji grabbed his right shoulder, Xu Tianchuan grabbed his left flank, Liu Dahong pinched his left arm, Wu Lishen wrapped his arms around his lower back. All four had used high-level qin na technique.

    The man did not resist at all, he laughed and said, “Is this the way Tian Di Hui and Mu Palace treat a good friend?”

    They saw this man was wearing a dark green long robe, his age was about twenty five, twenty six, his stature was tall and slim, his appearance looked like a feeble scholar.

    Chen Jinnan cupped his fist and said, “May I ask Sire’s honored surname and great given name? Are you a good friend?”

    The scholar said with a laugh, “If not a good friend, I won’t be here.” Suddenly he shrank his body as if he turned into a lump of meat. Guan Anji and the others, four people’s grip suddenly loosened, they grabbed empty air. Amidst the ripping noise of the silk, a dark shadow rose upward. Chen Jinnan let out a long laugh as he grabbed with his right hand. The scholar escaped from the four people’s clutch, but suddenly he felt his left ankle was grabbed as if it was bound with an iron hoop. Swiftly he moved his right foot to kick Chen Jinnan’s face. It was a powerful kick; with one swift motion Chen Jinnan picked up a small table beside him and raised it to block. 'Crash!' the mahogany table was smashed. Chen Jinnan swung his right hand to throw him to the ground. The scholar's buttocks landed on the floor, but like a skater, his body slid several zhang on the dark green brick floor. Straightening up his waist, he stood up leaning against the wall.

    There was a piece of cloth remained in each of Guan Anji, Xu Tianchuan, Liu Dahong and Wu Lishen, four people's hands; it was the piece they pulled from the scholar's long gown. This turn of events was as swift as a falcon swooping on a rabbit, it was unbelievably fast and nimble. The six of them moved with such agility and clarity that the spectators on the side could see everything clearly, they all could not help but broke in loud cheer. The one cheered the loudest was still the 'Iron Back Blue Dragon' Liu Dahong, while Wu Lishen shook his head repeatedly; his face showed part ashamed, part full of admiration.

    Chen Jinnan smiled and said, "Since Sire is a good friend, why don't you sit down and drink some tea?"

    The scholar cupped his fist and said, "I'll drink the tea to thank you for your hospitality." With slow and measured steps he walked toward the row of chairs, cupped his fist toward everybody to salute, and then sat down on the last chair. If they did not see him demonstrating his agility just now, nobody would believe this gentle scholar possessed such a profound martial art skill.

    Chen Jinnan laughed and said, "Sire, why too modest? Please take the seat of honor!"

    The scholar shook his hand, "I don't dare, I don't dare!" he said, "That Zaixia can sit together with gentlemen, the heroes, is already the biggest good fortune in my entire life, how can I dare to take the seat of honor? Chen Zongduozhu, just now you asked my name, but I have not replied; it was very disrespectful. Zaixia surnamed Li, my given name is Xihua."

    When Chen Jinnan, Liu Dahong and the others heard him announcing his name, they all thought, "I have never heard of Li Xihua in Wulin world, most probably it's a fictitious name. But among the young generation heroes, I have never heard someone with such excellent martial art skill either."

    Chen Jinnan said, "Zaixia is ignorant and inexperienced. That there is such excellent hero in Jianghu, unexpectedly I have not heard, I am indeed ashamed."

    Li Xihua laughed aloud and said, "People say that Chen Zongduozhu of Tian Di Hui treats people with sincerity, and sure enough, it is a fully justified reputation. When you heard my lowly name, if you had said, 'It's an honor to meet you at last', then unavoidably in my heart I would have a thirty percent lack of respect. Zaixia has just made my debut[1], I have not made the least bit of name in Jianghu. Even I won't greet myself with 'It's an honor to meet you at last', much less other people? Ha ha, ha ha ...!"

    Chen Jinnan smiled and said, "Now that we meet, Li Xiong's great name will spread throughout the Jianghu; after this, whoever meet Li Xiong will have to greet you with 'It's an honor to meet you at last'!" Indeed it was the highest praise, everybody could hear it. Four high-level martial art experts from Tian Di Hui and Mu Palace unexpectedly failed to block and hold him down. Chen Jinnan exchanged two moves with him, but he barely gained the upper hand. In a matter of days everybody near and far would naturally hear about such skill.

    Li Xihua shook his hand and said, "Not so, the style Zaixia displayed just now was no more than minor skill, unavoidably it is considered somewhat heretical. This old gentleman used 'Claw Appears from the Cloud', he grabbed my arm until it nearly broke. This bearded friend who loves to shake his head wrapped his arms around my waist, presumably it was the move 'Seizing-Rabbit Hand', his grab made me neither cry nor laugh. This white-bearded grandpa used the moved ‘Ape Fetches the Peach’, he really grabbed my flank as if it was a Pantao[2], he grabbed so firmly and was not willing to release again. This long-bearded friend used the technique … um, um, it was a very ingenious move, wasn’t it the ‘Cheng Huang[3] Pulls Little Demon’?”

    Guan Anji raised his left thumb, acknowledging that he was right. Actually, the move was called the ‘Little Demon Pulls Cheng Huang’; by reversing the name, i.e. calling himself ‘liitle demon’, he was being modest.

    From the time Guan Anji and the others, four people, made their move together to grab his body to the time he struggled free and leaped was only a moment, yet he unexpectedly was able to name the moves these four people had used without the slightest mistake; apparently his knowledge and experience was above his martial art skill.

    Liu Dahong said, "Li Xiong, you skill is profound, your insight is even more profound."

    Li Xihua shook his hand and said, "Laoyezi praises me too much. The moves the four gentlemen used on my body, any one of those is able to take my life. But the four gentlemen were careful not to overdo it, hence did not harm Zaixia the slightest bit. The four Seniors were being lenient, Zaixia is very grateful."

    Liu Dahong and the others were very pleased in their hearts. Each one of the four moves 'Claw Appears from the Cloud', 'Seizing-Rabbit Hand', ‘Ape Fetches the Peach’ and ‘Little Demon Pulls Cheng Huang’ could turn into extremely fierce killer strike just by adding a little bit more force to it. By pointing out this fact, Li Xihua had considerably increased the four people's face.

    Chen Jinnan said, "Li Xiong has honored us with your presence, I wonder what instruction do you have for me?"

    "I am here to admit my guilt first," Li Xihua replied, "Zaixia always admires Chen Zongduozhu. This time, quite by accident, I learned about Chen Zongduozhu's arrival in Beijing. No matter what, I have to come to express my admiration. It's just that I do not know anybody who would present me to you. Without any better option, I took the liberty to come uninvited, eavesdropping the gentlemen's conversation on the rooftop. Zaixia hates that traitor Wu Sangui to the bones, I wish to dismember his body into ten thousand pieces, thus I could not bear not to open my mouth. I hope gentlemen would forgive me." While saying that, he stood up and bowed to salute.

    Everybody also stood up simultaneously to return the salute. Several leaders of Tian Di Hui and Mu Palace introduced themselves. Although Wei Xiaobao was a Tian Di Hui leader, and presently his rank was second only to Chen Jinnan, but since all along Li Xihua's gaze had never landed on his face, Wei Xiaobao did not say anything.

    Mu Jiansheng said, "Since Sire is the enemy of that thief Wu, we share a common enemy, which means we are of the same principle; there is no harm in us joining hands, in scheming together to punish this big traitor."

    "Absolutely, absolutely," Li Xihua said, "Just now Xiao Gongye and Chen Zongduozhu were making an oath by striking your palms three times, but Zaixia brazenly interrupted it. After the two gentlemen finished the three strikes, may Zaixia also strike your palms three times?"

    Liu Dahong said, "Sire is saying that if you killed Wu Sangui, all heroes and warriors of Tian Di Hui and Mu Palace should accept your orders?"

    "I absolutely do not dare," Li Xihua said, "Zaixia is just a kid of younger generation, I will be perfectly contented to follow the heroes here; how can I dare to say I want to hold command over all of you?"

    Liu Dahong nodded and said, "In that case, in Sire's mind, which one is the Late Emperor's legitimate successor to the throne of the Great Ming, Longwu or Yongli?"

    In the past, Liu Dahong followed Emperor Yongli and Mu Tianbo fled to the southwest, entering Myanmar from Yunnan, experiencing inexhaustible hardships and perils; the result was Yongli was still killed by Wu Sangui. For this reason he made a blood oath to assist Yongli's descendant to ascend the dragon throne. In general, Chen Jinnan was more thoughtful toward their goal, he was unwilling to let internal strife damage their mission, but unexpectedly this hot-blooded old hero could not forget this matter.

    Li Xihua said, "Zaixia has something that might be offensive to you, I am asking everybody's forgiveness first."

    Liu Dahong's countenance changed slightly; he blurted out, "Sire is King Lu's former subordinate?" After Ming Dynasty's Emperor Chongzhen died, independent resistance against the Qing arose in various regions. There was King Fu, and then King Tang, King Lu and King Gui. As soon as Liu Dahong said that, he realized he was speaking incorrectly. Looking at Li Xihua's age, he was most likely born after the Qing troops entered the pass, so he could not possibly be King Lu's former subordinate. He asked, "Was Sire's former generation King Lu's former subordinate?"

    Li Xihua did not answer his inquiry, he said, "When the Tatars are driven out in the future, any descendant of Chongzhen, King Fu, King Tang, King Lu and King Gui could become the emperor. Actually, as long as he is a Han, who cannot be the Emperor? Why can't Mu Xiao Gongye or Liu Laoyezi be the Emperor? Zheng Wangye from Taiwan, even Chen Zongduozhu himself, not necessarily cannot be the Emperor. When the Great Ming's Taizu Huangdi [founder emperor] drove out Mongolian Emperor, he did not ask any descendant of the Song Dynasty's Zhao family to be the Emperor, but he himself ascended the great throne, yet everybody was delighted and sincerely willing to accept him."

    Nobody had ever heard such reasoning before, without exception their countenance changed.

    Liu Dahong slapped a small table by his side with his right hand, "Your speech can be considered treason and heresy," he said in stern voice, "We are the remnant of the Great Ming, lone officials and unfilial sons; we only strive to revive the Ming Dynasty, how can we store this kind of ambition of the wild wolves in our hearts?"

    Li Xihua was not angry, he showed a faint smile and said, “Liu Laoyezi, there is one thing Junior does not understand, I’d like to consult you about something we have just talked about. During the last years of the Great Ming, the Mongolian Tatars took possession of our Han people’s beautiful rivers and mountains, our Great Ming’s Emperor Hongwu rose to the dragon throne by popular support. After the Tatars were driven out, why didn’t he set up a descendant from Zhao family to be the Emperor?”

    “Humph,” Liu Dahong snorted and said, “Zhao family descendants were already exhausted; these rivers and mountains were won by Taizu Huangdi with bloody battle, naturally he could not possibly pass it on to the Zhao family? Moreover, in the driving out the Tatars, the Zhao family descendants did not have any merit. Even if Taizu Huangdi was willing to hand it over, the common people of the world, along with all the generals and soldiers would definitely not want to accept.”

    “That’s exactly right,” Li Xihua said, “Whether the descendants of the Zhu family will have merit in the future or not, at present nobody knows. If they make major contribution, everybody will endorse them as the leader, then other people will not be able to snatch away the throne. But if they do not make any contribution, even if they ascend onto the dragon court, I am afraid their position will not be steady. Liu Laoyezi, the undertaking of fighting the Qing is very complicated, there are things that need to be done quickly, there are things that have to be done slowly. Killing Wu Sangui needs to be done quickly, setting up the new emperor can be done slowly.”

    Liu Dahong was agape and tongue-tied, he was unable to answer. “What quickly or slowly?” he muttered, “I want everything to be done quickly; I wish everything is already accomplished, only then would it be good.”

    Li Xihua said, “Killing Wu Sangui must be done quickly, because that traitor Wu is already old. If we don’t kill him soon, he might die of old age, won’t it be a lifelong regret to people of the world with lofty ideals? Setting up the new ruler is a matter we need to address after the Tatars are driven out. My concern is that we are not able to defeat the Tatars. As for setting up learned and virtuous lord, we can always find one.”

    Observing his assurance and composure, and hearing his sensible and reasonable speech, Chen Jinnan was full of admiration. “Li Xiong,” he said, “What you said is very reasonable, but on how we are going to assassinate Wu Sangui, I want to hear Li Xiong’s well-informed opinion.”

    “I don’t dare,” Li Xihua said, “Junior was about to ask everybody’s advice.”

    Mu Jiansheng said, “What brilliant idea does Chen Zongduozhu have?”

    “In Zaixia’s opinion,” Chen Jinnan said, “That traitor Wu’s sin is too great, just by killing him absolutely will not make up for his crime. We must make him losing his standing, his entire family, old and young, must be killed, not a blade of grass must be spared, even the troops under his command who followed him breaking the law and committing crimes must be eliminated in one stroke, and thus the hatred in millions of common people’s hearts will be appeased.”

    Liu Dahong slapped the table and shouted, “Very true, very true! Chen Zongduozhu’s words really touch the bottom of my heart. Laodi, hearing you talked, my heart is unbearably itchy. What ingenious plan do you have, so that we can kill that traitor Wu and his entire family, and not leaving even his chicken and dogs?” He grabbed Chen Jinnan’ arms and repeatedly shook him, saying, “Say it quickly, say it quickly!”

    Chen Jinnan smiled and said, “This is everybody’s wish, Zaixia does not have any ingenious plan to deal with Wu Sangui.”

    “Oh,” Liu Dahong said, he released Chen Jinnan’s arms, while disappointment appeared on his face.

    Chen Jinnan stretched out his palm to Mu Jiansheng and said, “Xiao Gongye, we still have two palm strikes we haven't finished.”

    "Precisely," Mu Jiansheng said, he stretched out his hand and struck Chen Jinnan's palm twice.

    Chen Jinnan turned toward Li Xihua and said, "Li Xiong, what about we also strike our palms three times?" While saying that, he held out his palm.

    [1] Orig. 'coming out of the thatched cottage'.

    [2] The peaches of immortality, kept by Xi Wangmu.

    [3] Cheng Huang (Shing Wong) is a deity in Chinese mythology, a City God,

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