The Final Chapter 10-7

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(7) Kunlun

Thirteen years of time, like a shot of arrow.  In a day of golden autumn, two horses galloped against the sand on the path of Taihang Mountain, rushing to the Evergreen Manor.

In front of the Manor, the two horses neighed and the riders jumped off. The servant of Evergreen Manor immediately ran into the hall to report to the Manor master, shouted: ” Kaifeng Huangfu hero and Longxi Yuwen hero have urgency, required to see Master.”

Jiang Di and his wife frowned. Xi Hui then said: “Strange, sixth brother in Kaifeng, and the third brother went to the Great Jin for business. Why do they suddenly come together?”

Jiang Di said to the servant: “Invited them here!” Looking back to Xihui, sighed and said: “Since the Jin and Song subjugated the Liao. The relationship between them was getting tense. Sooner or later, there will be a war. I see they came here today, must have some breaking news.”

Said, Huangfu and Yuwen hurriedly stepped into the hall, when they saw Jiang Di and Xi Hui, they simply greeted and sat down as the servants offering them tea. After that, no one talked. Their faces were dusty and exhausted. Jiang Di and Xi Hui waited patiently.  After they drank the tea and clear their faces with towels.  Yumen finally said: “My brother, I have a very important news to tell you this time.”

Jiang Di asked: “Is it related to the Jin and Song? When will the Jin army march to the south?”

When these words were said, Huangfu and Yuwen looked at each other. Yuwen asked: “Is the brother also received some news?”

Jiang Di smiled and said: “Since the Jin occupied the land of Liao, they have been raising horses. Once these horses were fat enough, of course they will be riding to the south to eat grass.”

Huangfu and Yuwen listened, they were looked slightly relaxed.  Huangfu laughed and said: “I thought the brother has been secluded for long time, but you are quite well-informed. However, do you know that the Jin has already sharpened their knife. They do ready to match to the south, but not just feeding the horse with grass, they are aiming the big fat meat of Great Song?”

Jiang Di and Xi Hui looked at each other gravely. Yuwen said: “When Huangfu brother was doing business in Jin, he heard the buyer said, this was the last transaction. When brother asked him why. The man said, he would soon able to go directly to Kaifeng to buy goods without the middleman. He suggested that the Song will become the territory of the Jin. His attitude was quite arrogant.”

Huangfu said: “I later spent a lot of money to buy the official of Jin. Only to know that the Jin army has already scheduled the marching in early September.”

When he said that, Jiang Di and Xi Hui finally sensed that urgency. Xi Hui sighed: “I didn’t expect that so fast?”

Yuwen said seriously: “The Jin are more brutal than the Liao. This time the army marching south was planned to subjugate our Great Song. That means it will be war in the heartland of the central Plain. Shanxi is located on the main road of their matching south. And Evergreen Manor is renowned of his wealth and martial arts, that will surely become the target for Jin army.”

Speaking of this, Jiang Di said considerately: “The Evergreen Manor has a hundred years foundation in the Taihang Mountains. We have million acres of farmland, with a large population. Suddenly to be uprooted, I really don’t know where I should move?”

Yuwen quickly said: “Pass the Yangzi River! I am prepared to move to Jinling with my family, and the seventh sister is in Jiangdu. She said, she can take care of us. How many we will come; how many she will receive.”

Xi Hui laughed and said: “Seventh sister is really passionate and generous.”

Huangfu said: “Jin are tyrannical and cruel. Once they invade to the south, definitely our homelands will be ruined. They must also annihilate the resistance from the martial arts world. This could be happened overnight. The century foundation could be destroyed easily. Brother, sister, as long as you survived, you still can come back. You should seriously consider about it.”

Jiang Di listened to the words of Huangfu, he quickly stood up and said: “The brothers came over here from thousand miles away, giving me such a kindhearted advice. If I do not take it seriously, I will be definitely worthless.”

Huangfu and Yuwen also stood up immediately, thinking of once the war was broken, the family could not be gathered as usual. They were looking each other solemnly.

Huangfu said: “I have to rush back to Kaifeng and prepare moving. Brother, sister!  you two take care.”

The way he said sounded like a farewell for life time. Xi Hui suddenly felt very desolate. After sending them away. Jiang Di and Xi Hui looked at each but nothing was said for a long time. At the end, was Jiang Di spoke first: “Madam, I know that you are reluctant to go. If we moved to the south of Yangzi. And the Jin occupied the north. Once the roads were disconnected, we cannot see Xia Yue anymore, isn’t it?”

Xi Hui was very grateful for her husband always considered her feelings. Could she not understand his thought? she took his hand and said softly: “But what the brothers said was right. If you once fell into the hands of Jin, with your temper, I am afraid that we would eventually be killed. Then I will also never see Yue!”

Jiang Di listened and smiled. He suddenly let go of his thought. The couple looked at each other and held their hands without a word until they heard their son, Baoshan, his wife and their grandchildren rushed in and shouted: “Hey! mom, dad, you see who are coming!”

The two turned their heads and saw Xia Yue and Nanfeng, they stood in front of their eyes with their two granddaughters. Xi Hui once thought that she was dreaming. She rubbed her eyes, and saw it again. They were still there, then she believed that it was true. She immediately stepped forward to hug Xia Yue and cried: “Yue! mon thought I could never see you again.”

Just said, the little daughter of Xia Yue, only seven years old, smiled and said: “Grandma, you obviously saw her, how can you say that you couldn’t see her?”

Everyone listened to the little daughter’s innocent remarks, they all laughed. Jiang Di felt much more relaxed and asked: “Why are you suddenly coming back?”

Nanfeng answered: “It was my mother told me to come back with Xia Yue.”

Jiang Di listened and sat down slowly, asked again: “Is there any news from the western region also?”

Nanfeng nodded and said: “Nine Heaven faction has secret deals with the officials of Xia and Jin. We have received reliable news. The Jin army will invade the Great Song the earliest by tenth of October. The Jinchens are ambitious. My mother was afraid that once it was in the war, inevitably there will be life and death. She knows that you have only one daughter. So, she let us come back. She said, one family united is the most important. Whatever live or die. Must be together.”

Listened to the last sentence, everyone was stunned, they glimpsed at each other. Then, Jiang Di stood up, looked at the whole family all here now, he said resolutely: “Well! Let’s go together.”

After that, Jiang Di dismissed all the servants and peasants, hurriedly packed the simplest belongings, took the family of three generations, left the grandfather’s house where has been lived for a hundred years. Before leaving, the couple looked back and thought: they would not regret even they died here. However, when they thought of their children, they had no other choice.

A family of ten, riding on horses with light luggage, bore the frost at dawn, set foot on the unknown journey, through the Taihang Mountain, slowly eastbound away from home. As the same time, not long before this, another family had already left the country, passed the border of the Great Song. After travelling more than a year, they finally arrived at her foot of Kunlun Mountain.

Two years ago, when Yuer was just passed ten years old, Yueqiao and Qianqian embarked a voyage with him. They went to Tubo, a dynasty that once exited simultaneously with the Tang Empire, but not many people know about it in the Great Song. This great empire of Tubo was extinct before it was the Tang Dynasty.

Qianqian and Yueqiao posted on the northern peak of Kunlun. It was absolutely a barren land where no birds ever flew. But this was the beginning of Qianqian’s life. She stood against the wind, looking forward and said: “Such an untainted and uninhabited environment! The martial arts of Songhu Island were originated from here, so that it is true and pure.”

Yueqiao was amazed by the nothingness of this land, said: “This is the first day when the creator begins to work, perhaps.”

Qianqian nodded, then said: “Yuer, you come forward and kneel.”

Yuer barely opened his eyes in such a sandy blast, he squatted forward as the wind roaring at his ears.

Qianqian announced: “Yuer, from today on, you are the eleventh-generation master of Songhu Island. You kowtow to the ancestors!”

Yuer naively asked: “Where are the ancestors? I saw nothing.”

Qianqian was uncertain either, rolled her eyeballs before answered: “You imagine it by yourself!”

Yuer rubbed his head, seriously imagining. Saw that he looked so vexed, Yueqiao smiled and said to him: “The ancestors, if it was a person, it is the person before you, if it was land, it is the land before trees and beasts. If it was sky, it is there before sun and moon.”

Yuer thought for a while, suddenly was enlightened and said: “I know it, it means nothing before nothing.”

Yueqiao laughed oddly and said: “Probably! Something about that! Anyway, no one has seen it, as long as you believe it is, that is enough.”

Qianqian was happy with his explanation, looked and smiled at Yueqiao before continued: “Yes, probably, something about that. Only You have the innocent confidence, you can inherit the martial arts of Songhu Island, you understand?”

Yuer immediately said: “Understand.”

Qianqian raised her eyes, looked at the sky, said in a positive voice beyond the suppressing wind, said: “Yuer! Amongst heaven, earth and people, there is Songhu Island. You don’t ask where she is, she is between heaven and earth. You don’t ask who she is, you are the Songhu Island. You inherited her, you have to be true, you don’t need to be perfect. You do your best, that is enough.” Yuer listened, nodded, and replied loudly: “I know, Grandma! “Qianqian then lifted him up.

Qianqian was full of gratitude. She took out the feather box left by Zhu Han twenty years ago. Opened it, pinched the black feather in front of Yuer, and said: “This is the token of the first ancestor of Songhu Island. You have inherited the island. I will give it to.  In the future, you will hand it over to the next island master. And pass it down from generation to generation, do you know?”

Yuer said: “I know, grandma.” Then he reached out his hand to take it. Suddenly a blast bloated and the feather was rolled to sky. Qianqian and Yuer flew up to catch it. But the feather was too light. It was blown to a dead tree on the cliff. Yuer wasn’t that good his light work yet. It was too high for him to jump, so he returned to the ground.

Yueqiao said: “So high the cliff! Perhaps only your grandma can reach, just let her go!” Said, looking up again,  saw Qianqian falling from the lofty cliff. Yueqiao was shocked. Her body was soft, appeared that she was unconscious.  Yueqiao immediately soared to catch her and bring her back to the ground, noticed that her face was blue and lips was purple. Although she was still breathing faintly, she looked really critical. Yueqiao explored her pulse, said grimly: “She is poisoned?”

When Qianqian woke up, she was in a cave. Yueqiao was working with his internal strength to remove the poison. Qianqian turned her head behind, saw that he was sweaty and pale. Thought that, he must have been working on it for a long time, said: “Yueqiao, I am much better, let’s take a rest!”

Yueqiao saw that she finally woke up, he was relieved, but he knew that her poison has not been cleaned up yet. He put a coat on her shoulder and let her rest against the wall, asked: “What kind of poison indeed? How come it didn’t work, even I have been passing you my internal strength for many days?”

Qianqian was very happy to see Yueqiao again. But he asked right away something that she didn’t want to think about. She answered reluctantly: “Don’t waste your internal strength Yueqiao. The poison of this double tailed scorpion cannot be forced out by internal strength.”

“How do you know?” Yueqiao asked quickly.

“I know from book?” Qianqian answered like a child.

“A book? What book? Is it the kind of detoxification book? It basically tells everything but not how to detoxicate.” Yueqiao jeered and smiled.

Qianqian realized that he must be very worried. She has not seen him being so agitated for long time. She explained earnestly: “This double tailed scorpion only is found in the Western Region. It is the king of poisoning. But it is not without antidote.”

When Yueqiao heard that there was antidote, he asked intently: “Where do I find this antidote?”

Qianqian glanced at Yueqiao and smiled, answered uncertainly: “Although, there is an antidote, it should be found within seven days.”

“Seven days?” Seeing Yueqiao instantly chilled down, Qianqian asked: “What’s wrong?” as well, Yuer who was sitting by the wall quietly suddenly looked stirred. She asked directly: “How many days have I been unconscious?”

Yueqiao did not answer. Yuer looked crying and said: “Grandma! You have been unconscious for six days, six nights, and it is already the seventh night tonight.”

After listened to it, Qianqian was not anxious, just said: “Then, it will be difficult.”

Yueqiao suddenly looked up and said: “How difficult? Are you afraid of difficulty? We still have a few hours. You just tell me where to find the antidote, I go find it right away.”

Qianqian looked at him and looked at Yuer. They both looked so grim. She was hesitant, but answered seriously: “It is a dew in the jade wood next to the West Sea, on the north hill of Kunlun.”

“What?” Yuer couldn’t understand at all. Yueqiao was agitated, mumbled: Why she is saying something nonsense for her own life. He just stood up and said: “I am going to get it!”

Qianqian pulled his linen clothes and whispered: “Yueqiao! Could you just be with me, and talk to me!”

Yueqiao was red eyed abruptly. He sat down but indisposed.  Qianqian tried to comfort him, said: “These scorpions are unique to the Western Region, and there are not many either. It wasn’t so easy to be bitten. And it just happened to be me…”

Yueqiao said, still unyielding: “You meant it is your destiny? How do you accept it easily?”

Qianqian said: “It is too late whatever, I was already bitten. At least, I could get the feather back.” saying, she took the black feather from her collar, put it back into the box, gave it to Yuer and said: “You Keep it!”

Yuer quickly stepped forward to take the feather box, as grandma was taking out another thing and said: “This is also for you.”

Yuer looked at it, saw that it was a white plum jade pin. He hesitated to receive, said: “Grandma! This… is for woman.”

Grandma smiled and said: “You are fool’s head! This is not for you. It is for your wife.”

Yuer touched his melon head and said: “My wife? Where is my wife?”

“Not now, but there will be in the future. You are the island master of Songhu Island. Your wife will be the island madam.” Qianqian said confidently and proudly.

Yuer was unsure, but he accepted what it was. Qianqian then said: “I am thirsty, Yuer! go find some water me for, can you do that?”

Yuer listened, immediately stood up and go.

Qianqian saw Yuer was gone, then she looked back at Yueqiao. Saw the he was looking blank and eclipsed, she asked: “Do you know what I love the most in my life?”

Yueqiao immediately looked at her and replied undoubtedly: “Songhu Island.”

Qianqian was deeply heartened. Watching him tearfully and said: “No.” paused before   continued: “It’s you.”

Yueqiao listened, slowly released a smile, did not respond. Qianqian was sitting by the wall, watching the stars outside the cave, said: “Yueqiao, can you extinguish the firewood, I want to see the stars outside tonight.”

Yueqiao immediately picked the burning firewood aside. The cave suddenly became obscure. The starry sky outside the cave suddenly became bright and glittering. He sat back next to Qianqian, watched quietly with her.

After a while, Yueqiao said: “Actually, in the days when you were unconscious, I was ready that you will go.”

Qianqian said pleasantly: “I have a peace of mind if you said that.”

Yueqiao smiled faintly: “Everyone has a day, I am ready myself too, but just not my turn yet.”

Qianqian whispered softly: “Since I have met you again, I am happy every day, and there are also Yuer. What a wonderful thing It is to watch him growing up day by day.”

Yueqiao said: “But you are too lenient to him, he is too dependent on you.”

“Yes! I shouldn’t have… How can he survive in the rivers and lakes like this in the future? You must be strict on him.” Her voice was getting vague and lofty, as if was spoken from afar.

“Ho! Why I am always be the bad guy!” Yueqiao sounded a bit hoarse too.

Qianqian did not responded after sometime of silent: “Because you know how to love.”

Yueqiao said in a low tone: “There is one thing in the world is bigger than love. It is compassion. You see, to love is easy, but to compassionate is unusual. There is only he compassionate us. Have you ever seen we compassionate him?”

He felt like he was talking to himself, then he stopped.  He was waiting for Qianqian to respond but she did not. Yueqiao held on a long time until he admitted and turned his head to look at her. Her face was still reddish under the spark of charcoal blaze.

Soon Yuer has come back. In this barren land wherever was drought and sandy. Yuer of course, didn’t find even a drop of water. He looked for a long time, until tired, hungry, thirsty. He eventually has to come back. Just entering the cave, he saw Grandpa was rekindling the fire, and grandma was lying on the ground, sleeping.

Two years later, Yuer and grandpa finally returned to the Central Plain. Right in time to see that the Jin army has crashed Kaifeng, the capital of Great Song, captured hundreds of men and women from the emperor’s family. The splendid homeland of Song fell into the hands of aliens.

 

The book is finished

 

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The Final Chapter 10-6

 

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(6) Seclusion

The river flows as a finger flicks. Seven year has passed away.

The Jurchens, who have been suppressed by the Liao Kingdom finally rose and rebelled. They have also fierce internal conflict between tribes. Many Jurchens commoners and deserters fled to the border of Great Song from sea. By the coastal areas, they steal, kill, and rape, causing nuisances. These Jurchens if were caught by the villagers or officers of Song, they would be killed on the spot and were thrown into the sea without question.

One late autumn night, in a small village on the border of Liao and Song, fishermen collected their nets, hurriedly returned home, locked the door tightly, and dared not go out. The grass huts under the cold moon looked even more deserted. This coastal village has always been calm, but recently the robbers and killing almost happened every night.

A woman has just fell asleep, was awakened by the noise of shouting. She pushed the window and found the sound coming from Yulang’s house. This woman was Qianqian. When she was in Songhu Island the last time, Xia Yue gave her a piece of cloth, which was a drawing by Yulang. He left his address to Xia Yue in Jinding. Qianqian spotted this village with the drawing. She met Yulang again, and lived here since then.

The peaceful secluding life didn’t last very long. She was thinking to leave, but Yulang’s woman was pregnant, she needed her. The killing between the Jurchens and the Songs was disturbing. Many nights like that, she got up, dressed and went out to see. Qianqian saw torches swaying near Yulang’s house. She was worried. Yulang’s woman miscarried many times, and just recently gave birth to a child. She was weak and the child was small. If anything happened… as she thought of it, she quickly flew to their home to ensure.

She found light under the window and door was half opened. She intuited that something was not good. She walked closer and saw blood in front of door. She was agitated but calmly followed the blood stain, and saw a man lying in a pool of blood. Unfortunately, it was Yulang. Qianqian checked his pulse. He died just a moment ago. Immediately she flew back to their hut, hoping that the mother and child were still alive, but she saw the mother lying on the table, and her face was blue. She was suffocated to death. Qianqian grabbed her fists, and released as she didn’t see Yuer. She was just wondering where his was, heard infant’s crying outside the door. Qianqian rushed out the door, looking for the sound, went to the seaside in a poplar forest, saw an infant in a basket hung on the tree. Qianqian straightaway flew up to rescue, but was blocked by a person. Qianqian turned over and landed on the ground, noticed that in the moonlight, stood a tall man. He held a long sword, staring at her coldly.

Qianqian was surprised but composed. It seemed that wasn’t a general robbery and murder. The person emerged here, attested the seven years of seclusion has become meaningless, questioned: “Huqiao! Did you kill them?”

Huqiao immediately replied: “No.” He took a half step from the shade to make his face clearer and said: “They were killed by the Jurchens.”

Qianqian sneered: “Don’t you dare to admit?”

Huqiao said bluntly: “Why don’t I if I really did it. I don’t kill if it was not necessary.” Paused, then explained: “That man found a Jurchen was stealing his chicken. Then the Jurchen killed him. The woman came up, killed the Jurchen. Another Jurchen chased her into the house. When I went in, she was already dead. I saw that the baby cried, so I picked him up. That’s it.”

Qianqian listened patiently and felt ridiculous. She frowned and asked: “You watched them being killed? But, why didn’t you save them?”

Huqiao smiled vaguely: “The Jurchens and the Songs killed each other, what does it do to a man of the Great Xia?”

Qianqian was feeling absurd, but nothing she can say. After a while of silence, she asked: “Then, what are you doing here?”

The eyes of Huqiao were brightened, said gravely: “I am coming to duel with you, to clean my shame that you gave me in the Jinding seven years ago?”

Qianqian listened carefully, nodded and said: “The duel is a matter between you and me. Why do you hurt the innocent? Let the baby down immediately.”

Huqiao smiled and said: “You can be assured that he is safe up on the tree. After you finished the duel with me. Whoever survives will go to take him down.”

Qianqian scanned this person with a smile. She heard that Yuer did not cry on the tree. It seemed that he was not hurt. With a peace of mind, she slowly circulated and deliberately asked: “If I were dead in the duel, you also will take him down?”

Huqiao replied rashly: “Of course.”

Qianqian asked again: “But this infant’s parents were dead. Even you take him down, how could he survive by himself?”

Huqiao was speechless. He didn’t expect this kind of the question. Qianqian then demanded: “If I were dead, can you promise me to raise him to a grownup?”

Huqiao never has thought about she would request such a thing. He took another step and looked at her intensely. After carefully considering for a while, he replied: “I promise you.”

Qianqian felt that this person was quite interesting. He though very ambitious for his career of martial arts, but besides, he was indeed a sincere man. Qianqian has no doubt about it.

Huqiao asked: “Why do you think you would die, where is your confidence?”

Qianqian said causally: “I have not practiced martial arts for seven years, and have rusted my swordsmanship.”

Huqiao immediately offered: “I will give you three months to pick it up again, and we will make another day for the duel.”

Qianqian abruptly laughed and said: “Who taught you to be so candid and just?”

Huqiao dimmed his glare but did not answer.

Qianqian said: “After three months, you would not be able to find me again.”

Huqiao smiled and said: “Do you think people like you can really hide? No matter where you are, there will be someone smelled that you are different. Moreover, I have this infant in hand, if you didn’t show up, I Just kill him.”

Qianqian froze her smiles, blinked her eyes, said sternly: “Don’t need to wait three months, I will see what you can do tonight?”

Huqiao gripped the handle of sword, said grandly: “In the past seven years, I have not used the martial arts of Songhu Island. I have created a set of swordsmanship, to beat your one style.”

Qianqian said: “All right.”

When Huqiao saw that she was empty handed, asked right away: “Where is your sword?”

Qianqian simply replied: “I have put it down.”

“So how could we duel?” Huqiao asked in daze.

Qianqian smiled, positively: “Your sword is my sword.”

“What do you mean by that?” Huqiao was puzzled.

Qianqian explained: “The sword does not know you or me. It can kill me and it can kill you.”

Suddenly the noise of the infant’s crying rose again. Huqiao felt intruded as his heart shook. He gripped the handle of sword, moved slowly towards and stared at Ren Zhenyi, said to himself: I do not believe, how can my sword become your sword.

He slowly drew out the sword. As the blade exposed in the moon light, Qianqian exclaimed: “Good sword.”

Huqiao smiled coldly, as he waved and stabbed the sword forward. Qianqian moved slightly, flashed back, avoid his three ruthless strokes. Suddenly turned and crossed over him.  Huqiao lifted the sword, stabbed to the air, but his wrist was caught by Qianqian. Only a blink, his long sword has been changed owner. For the moment Huqiao has no sword in hand, he was extremely fearful. But it didn’t take him very long to fear. He shouted loudly as his wrists both have been slashed. He fell to the ground, trembling, looking at his bloody arms.

At this time, the incessant infant’s crying was heard clearly. Qianqian quickly flew to the tree, brought him down, hugged him in arms, saw that he stopped crying and smiled again. She was relieved, but immediately remembered that his parents have died. Yuer was orphaned, she was so sad.

Huqiao saw Ren Zhenyi holding the infant and leaving, he shouted: “You… why don’t you kill me?”

Qianqian came back to answer his question, said gravely: “You see how beautiful the smile of this infant? He doesn’t even know that his parents are dead. How could I kill in front of him?”

Huqiao was not convinced, asked again: “I lost the duel in your hand, you should kill me. Do you know the rules of duel in the rivers and lakes?”

Qianqian sneered: “Huqiao! You can live!” paused and continued: “When you promised me to raise Yuer if I died. I could tell that you were sincere. You are not a person I must kill. Although your martial arts have been abolished, you are still a good man.” Seeing that he calmed down and quiet. Qianqian turned around and left with Yuer.  Huqiao was sitting on the ground and staring at his sword alone in front the reddish setting moon.

Holding Yuer in arms, Qianqian just wanted to walked away from the village. She didn’t know where to go? She passed one and other peak until the dawn has come. There must have snowed in the mountain.  The peak was covered with a thin layer of snow, as if a woman grown old in just one night.

She hugged Yuer tightly, sat down and rested. Yuer in her arms cried again. Qianqian was flustered:  Where can I go get food for him, in this land of bleakness? She could only put her thumb into his little mouth let him suck temporarily to relieve the feeling of hunger. Seeing him sucking the thumb, and stopped crying. Qianqian then continuedly moved on aimlessly.

She came to a narrow path. The cliffs on both sides were steep, and on it was a towering dragon claw tree. Several eagles were soaring around the bald tree top. They must be watching a bird’s nest. So, there must be eggs in the nest. In order to save Yuer die from starving, Qianqian decided to steal the eagle eggs.

She saw a big rock covered with a thin layer of snow and the yellow autumn grass around it. Qianqian wiped the powder snow on the rock with sleeves. The rock was smooth but cold. Yuer fell asleep sweetly with the thumb in his mouth. Qianqian carefully pulled her thumb out, tried not to wake him up. Seeing Yuer still sucking even without a thumb and looked so adorable. Qianqain smiled brilliantly as she plunged some grasses and arranged them on the rock that she can lay Yuer on it gently.

She looked up the gap of blue sky between cliffs, then rose and heaved on the cliff, immediately turned over to top of the tree, one arm hanged on a trunk, another sneakily reaching out into the nest, groped a couple of eggs. Just put them inside her shoulder bag, two eagles gliding down to attack her. She broke a twig, stabbed it to the eagles. They howled and hovered away.

Qianqian dropped the twig, flew back to the rock, but saw someone standing next to Yuer. The man looked at him, held something in his hand, swaying to him. Qianqian was shocked. She rushed back, reached out to grab that person’s shoulder.  But as the man picked up Yuer, he instantly ascended from the ground and jumped to the other side of cliff. Qianqian chased after without hesitation, seeing this man wore a linen cloak that completely covered his head. He fluttered lighter than a goose feathers, silent and no trace. Qianqian was reminded the man who saved Huqiao in Jinding. At that time, she was already suspected.  This man only appeared together with Huqiao. He must be very close to him. Qianqian was so eager to see his face. She jumped over and pulled his hood. With a gust, his hood slid down naturally, revealing a bare head, as he landed on the cliff, turned around and looked at Qianqian, with Yuer in his arms.

Qianqian leapt to another side of cliff, spotted the man was bald headed, with two deep brownish eye holes on both sides of a tall nose. The iris used to be like pearls that now grimy as buried into deep sea. They lost the luster of the past, but so gentle that almost breaking heart. He looked at Yuer, held a small deerskin jar in hand, feeding him. Yuer was sucking rapidly, for the real food happily.

Qianqian stood over there, soundlessly watching this beautiful moment with a faint smile. Her eyes were glistening again, since very long time they lost the shine. Another cold gust, puffing up her silver white hairs of forehead. As the times go by, these two have not seen each other for 25 years. And today, their present as much as a water drop hit the still pond!

 

 

The Final Chapter 10-5

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(5) Home

Although there was only half of a full moon, it was very bright tonight, illuminating the icy peaks with crystal layer. The eight sisters of Songhu Island gathered in front of the tomb of their mother, ready to pay reverence to their ancestors. The fruits, the flowers, and the wine was prepared and arranged on the table, as the candles light swayed on the tombstones of each island’s master.

The eight sisters were silent. They looked up at the moon together. Saw the moon hanging high was waned. Isn’t it a sign that we cannot be united tonight?

Just thought, the power snow was fluttered from the pine tree, the sisters looked around, heard sound as wings wavering. A white shadow dropped from the icy peak like a snowflake. Soundlessly landed on the new snow softly. She appeared in front of the sisters, with a smile, said: “Forgive me! I am late!”

The sisters immediately surrounded her, watched her thoroughly, touched her hair, and pinched her chin. Xiguang said candidly: “You really haven’t died yet!”

Qianqian smiled and said: “You were sad for me?”

Xi Hui took Qianqian hands to the tomb of their parents. She saw a small tomb next to it, inserted a piece of wood, written: “The tenth generation of the island master Ren ZhenYi.”

Qianqian laughed. She was shocked and grateful. Xi Hui said: “I went to Xiangzhou ten years ago to find you, but saw only scorched earth. I went to Yamen, the man there told me that you were dead. He gave me a handkerchief said it was your only relic. I brought it back, buried it here.”

Qianqian was sentimental suddenly. The handkerchief? must be the token that brother Teng gave me? This thing going around and around, finally still came back to me. She felt crying and laughing, cherished the sisters and said: “I am not good. It was all my fault.”

Speaking, the sisters all burst into tears. They were happy and sad. Xiyang then said: “Qianqian! Let’s go to tell mon and dad that you are back safely.”

The nine sisters kneeled in front of the tombs of Ren Wanli and Liu Yiyi, kowtowed, pour the libation and sacrificed the incenses.  Then the ceremony was completed. The sisters again surrounded Qianqian and asked many questions. Qianqian felt the love of a family, suddenly she remembered one person, asked: “Do you have any news from Aunt Mi?”

The sister looked at each other, and Xi Hui said: “She has passed away a few years ago.”

Heard Aunt Mi was gone, Qianqian inevitably felt sad, although she has been used to life and death recently. Xibiao explained: “Ten years ago, I returned to Songhu Island with Xihui. We found that the cold pine bridge was broken and the huts were burned down. We asked about Aunt Mi everywhere. Finally realized that she was living in the village under the mountain. She was still alive at that time.”

Xiguang continued: “Later, I and Xihui, Xiguang decided to rebuild our homeland. Only a few years ago, the grass hut were rebuilt, although it was not as good as before. But at least we have a shelter again!”

Qianqian remembered she had promised Aunt Mi to rebuild Songhu Island. Who knows, fifteen years it has been passed since then? She felt inexplicably empty for the moment.

Then, Xichun said: “What are we doing here? Let’s take Qianqian to see our new home!”

Said, the sisters immediately packed up the things and took Qianqian back to Huaiyu Peak.

The nine sisters of Songhu Island all together performed the light work, flying between the snow ridges above the wave of pines, as if nine swallows flying back to their old nest. Just a moment, they have returned to Huaiyu Peak. Qianqian saw the newly-built grass hut on the cliff, exactly same location as it was.

When she saw that, she was almost crying. The sisters did not stop her, but hurried her into the hut. As they lit the light, Qianqian saw the interior was almost as same as before. From the window, she could still see the waterfall on the canyons, hear the songs of frogs and crickets in the morning, and see the moon and stars in the night.

The sisters said together: “Qianqian! you are staying here, as before.”

Qianqian wiped the tears, but did not answer. The eldest sister Xiyang suddenly said, seriously: “Qianqian, I heard that your martial arts today have surpassed Songhu Island. If you wanted to be on your own, we will not oppose. We won’t force you to inherit Songhu Island, but If you were willing to stay, today is a brand-new start. If not, you have other places to go, you can go. Songhu Island is here, and will always be.”

After listened to these words, the sisters settled for a moment, as Qianqian was speechless. After a while, she looked up and smiled: “I want to go to see dad’s study room.”

Xiyang patted her shoulder, smiled and said: “Let’s go! Dad’s study room now only you can go.”

As the sister laughed, Qianqian was smiling awkwardly. She turned around, walked out the hut alone.

Xi Hui suddenly remembered one thing, and shouted: “Wait a minute.” When Qianqian turned back, saw that Xi Hui taking out the foxtail sword and handed it to her. Qianqian received it with both hands, and her heart was rippled. “This … what should do with it?”

Xiyang said: “This foxtail sword is defeated by your Xiangzi sword. What do you want to with it? It’s all up to you.”

As she said, the sisters giggled, it might be a joke for them, but for Qianqian, it contained too much unspeakable sorrows. The consequence today was that she has never thought about,  when the time she left Songhu Island.

Standing in front of the void cold pine bridge, the moon was flawless, glimmered the snow heaped on the cliff. Some trees were hanging loosely as quietly guarding the study room. Qianqian wrapped the foxtail swords with cloth and tied it on shoulder. When she was about to fly, suddenly someone shouted: “Ninth aunty!”

Qianqian looked back, saw Jiuqian coming over, said: “I was right! You really are my aunt.”

Qianqian smiled and said: “Yes, Jiuqian, when you were still in your mother’s belly, we have met.”

Jiuqian said: “Ninth aunty! You are not dead now, my mother said I can change back to my original name. I am not Jiuqian anymore.”

“Xia Yue?” Qianqian like this name better indeed.

“Yes! Jiang Xiayue, I felt much lighter!” Xia Yue naturally blurted out. When she was aware that It was improper to say, she tongued out and simpered.

Qianqian asked: “The name is the expectation of the parents to children. Does this name have any special meaning?”

Xia Yue pouted: “I don’t think they have any expectation. When I was born, my dad saw the moon, and it happened to be summer. So… It doesn’t have any special sense.”

Qianqian nodded and smiled, seeing this child was smart and clever, lively and lovely, she really like her, asked: “Is this your first come to Songhu Island?”

Xia Yue nodded: “Yes!”

Qianqian said: “Then I take you look around!”

Xia Yue jumped up happily and shouted: “Wow!” then asked, “Where to look around?”

Qianqian looked at the other side of cliff, said: “Go to grandfather’s study room.”

Xia Yue saw that grandpa’s study room was on the other side of cliff. It was so far apart, and in between was deep gorges. How could we go? she shook her head and said: “Forget it, if I dropped into this cliff, will I survive?”

Qianqian blinked and said: “Don’t be afraid, I will take you there.”

Xia Yue looked at ninth aunty bluntly, saw a kind of valor on her face. The tenacity that was she never had or needed. She never thought about doing something beyond her ability. She felt that she was just fine. But the resolution on the face of ninth aunty has an irresistible force, she smiled and said: “Okay! Go then!”

Qianqian grabbed her arm, carried her on the back and said: “I am carrying you. You must not let go, understand!”

As Xia Yue said: “Yes.”

Qianqian has leaped and jumped over the cliff. Xia Yue only felt whirling and twisting. She closed her eyes and embraced her tight. In less than a moment, the two stopped in front of the study room. Xia Yue released her grasp, and felt dazzling. As she stood up, she fell to the ground again, said: “Ah! What is this? Like a magic?”

Qianqian said seriously: “This is the jump cloud.”

Xia Yue staggered and smiled. “Ah! Was it the one created by grandpa?”

Qianqian nodded and walked towards Ren Wanli’ study room.

When she stepped into it, she faintly saw an old man sitting in front of the bookshelf across the bamboo fence. She couldn’t help but whispered: “Dad!” then the man disappeared. It was just an illusion. She went about the bamboo fence to the inner room. She pushed open the hidden door behind the bookshelf, put the foxtail sword back to where it was, and thought: it is the best destination for the foxtail sword perhaps.

When she came out of the secret room, Xia Yue was looking at something on the desk and said: “Ninth Aunty, you see, there is a book opened here!”

Qianqian quickly go forward to see, there was really a book laying on the desk. Dusty and yellowish, it seemed that it has been there unmoved for a long time. Qianqian was perplexed. She remembered that:  before I left last time, I and Aunt Mi did clean up the place and put all the books back to the shelf. Why this book is on the desk now?

The book was opened, she leaned over and saw on the page, there was two lines was circled…

Xia Yue by the side has already read it out: “If you learn but don’t think, you are confused. If you think but don’t learn, you are dangerous. No one is perfect, do it for yourself. ”

Qianqian immediately looked around and shouted: “Dad!” but only saw piles of snow in the courtyard under the bluish moon shine. Xia Yue asked: “You miss our grandpa?”

Qianqian honestly said: “Yes.” then sighed: “I thought he was still here.”

Xia Yue asked: “Is it because of that book?”

Qianqian nodded and answered truly: “Yes, the page of the book opened was the same page grandpa taught me for the first time. He intended to let me see it I supposed as he placed the book here.”

“Oh! It’s amazing!” Xia Yue jumped up and said: “So is grandpa still alive?”

Qianqian smiled but shook her head, said: “It seemed to be no longer important to me.” She calmly looked around the study room and said: “No one is perfect, do it for yourself!”

She mumbled: “Now I understand. When I was fighting with Miaoyin here on that day, Dad must be watching. Aunt Mi fell to the cliff but didn’t died, of course, must be dad saved her. It’s no wonder that whatever I asked, she couldn’t tell me why she didn’t die even fell into the cliff. They were plotted together to fool me.”

Although she was mumbling to herself, Xia Yue heard it all, smiled and said: “Ha ha! Who is Aunt Mi? Even ninth aunty was fooled?” But ninth aunty did not answer, she was still indulged in her thought, said: “So! When Huqiao stole the martial arts of Songhu Island here, dad was watching too, but he did not stop him, just let he stole. It seemed that he was really detached and aloof… he said he would never been seen in the rivers and lakes…what he died was just the one in our world. I believed during these years, he was still alive, and must have been very happy and free!” so, she smiled.

Xia Yue has been staring and listening, asked: “What are you smiling at? You haven’t answered me yet, who is aunt Mi?”

Qianqian felt like she unraveled all the knots in her heart, eventually. She smiled and looked back at Xia Yue, replied frankly: “Aunt Mi was the one who took care of me since I was born. She treated me like her own child.”

Xia Yue blinked and said: “I heard that grandma gave birth to ninth aunty and died. If it was me, I would also bless her in this world that someone loves her as her own child.”

Qianqian stared at Xia Yue with surprise. She was unable to response for a while, then said heartily: “You will definitely be a good mother.”

Xia Yue seemed ready to be a mother, seriously said: “Yes! I wanted to have many children and grandchildren, I like babies!”

Qianqian laughed and said: “Then you have to get married early enough.”

Xia Yue nodded, said truly: “Yes! I will be married next year.”

Qianqian was surprised, but gratified, smiled and asked: “With Nanfeng?”

Speaking of Nanfeng, Xia Yue dropped her head and smiled, replied shyly: “I have known Nanfeng since I was a child. We have been engaged for five years. Nanfeng will be 20 years old next year, and the uncle and aunt always urging us to get married, so…”

Qianqian watched the shyness of hers was filled with joy. She was really happy for her. Remembered the performance of Nanfeng in Jinding. He is decent and righteous. Surely, he is a man who can bear a marriage for lifetime.  Qianqian sincerely thought, but deliberately asked: “You like Nanfeng very much, do you?”

Xia Yue brushed and said: “He…he likes me a lot too!”

Qianqian was glad to see she trusted her lover so much. It seemed that this couple will be able to grow old, and have a lifelong companionship, said: “Xia Yue, I sincerely congratulate!”

Xia Yue looked up at the ninth aunty and whispered: “Thank you!” but faintly saw a sigh of resentment in her eyes as she turned around and left. Xia Yue followed her immediately, as she walked out of the study room, saw her stood still, blankly looking at somewhere. She ran forward and asked: “Aunty, where will you go? Will you come back for my wedding next year?”

Qianqian turned around, reluctantly replied: “Probably not.”

Seeing Xia Yue looked disappointed. Qianqian added: “Even if I couldn’t come, you don’t have to be disappointed. I will send a gift now…” Then she untied her sword, pass it to her, said sincerely: “This sword is sent as a wedding gift for you and Nanfeng!”

Xia Yue saw that it was the Xiangzi, she was shocked. The Xiangzi sword that defeated the foxtail sword in Jinding, became the new first sword in the rivers and lakes. She did not dare to take it, said: “No! This sword is now the world’s most famous sword, this gift is too expensive, I can’t accept it.”

Heard that the Xiangzi became the first sword in the world, Qianqian felt absurd. She inherited Songhu Island, wanted to rebuild the prestige and promoted the martial arts of her. However, at the end, the martial arts of Songhuo Island were defeated by her own self. Today, the Xiangzi that was made up by Teng Kuanrou, became the most famous sword, it was the biggest joke for Qianqian.

Qianqian handed the sword over again, said firmly: “It is not expensive. You deserved it. ”

Xia Yue still couldn’t believe it, staring at ninth aunty, then slowly reached out to receive the sword, said: “Well! This sword is not heavy! The immortal sword of my dad is very heavy.”

Qianqian surrendered the sword, her heart was lightened instantly, smiled and said: “The immortal swordsmanship of the Evergreen Manor is also a renowned sword, you are not telling me that you have never learned swordsmanship!”

Xia Yue smiled and said: “Of course I learned, but I am not very interested in sword.”

Qianqian immediately said: “You like disguise self.”

Xia Yue flashed her eyes and smiled: “Well! How do you know?”

Qianqian look at this child so intelligent, but unconscious. Although she was indeed sophisticated, but did not lose her natural essence, said: “Xia Yue, I gave you the sword, no reason do not to pass you the swordsmanship as well.”

“The one style?” Xia Yue was shocked again, said trembling: “You mean… the swordsmanship you defeated the Soul fox nine sword?”

Qianqian said: “Yes!” then saw a bamboo stick was leaned by the door, thought: Is it that the one dad knocked my hand dozens of times? She simpered: “It’s my turn today!”

After saying it, she picked up the bamboo stick, danced the swordsmanship, saw that Xia Yue was still standing in daze, she said: “What are you waiting for? Pull the sword!”

Xia Yue knew that today, she has to learn this swordsmanship although she doesn’t like to practice sword, but she thought: Nanfeng is a sword idiot. After I learned it, I can show to him! Hence, she immediately pulled the sword, followed the steps of ninth aunty, one stroke by one stroke intently learned this swordsmanship.

Qianqian did not expect that she quite a know-how, and she learned it just by seeing one or two times. Qianqian put the bamboo stick back and felt unprecedent satisfied, said: “This one style, symbolized one heart, one mind, so there will be no remorse. For the marriage… it is an appropriate gift!”

Xia Yue immediately said: “Thanks ninth Aunty, I will have no remorse, I really love Nanfeng.”

Qianqian saw that she was so sure about her love, she smiled and said plainly: “It’s not early, let’s go back!”

The two returned to Huaiyu Peak, the sisters were throwing dices around table, screaming and shouting madly. When Xi Hui saw the two coming back, she shouted: “How come you have been gone so long? The food was cold.”

After she said it, called the sisters from the gusto of gambling. “Hey! Ninth sister came back, let’s eat first! Don’t play!”

The sisters stopped, but  Xiguang still held a dice in hand and jeered: “Xi Hui, you are not afraid that you will lose the whole evergreen manor, aren’t you! You used Qianqian as an excuse!”

Everyone laughed with a bit of drunkenness.  Xi hui just smiled and did not argue with her. The oldest sister Xiyang yelled: “Okay! Let’s play later!”

Saying, everyone was repositioned by another table, that was full of all the specialty dishes, made by the sisters. Qianqian was watching happily. She was so touched, and did not know what to say.  The sisters toasted together to Qianqian. The oldest sister Xiyang said: “Ninth sister, today is your birthday, but for many years, we have never celebrated your birthday. It’s occasional for us to reunite today.  We must celebrate with you.”

Said, the sisters sang together: “I wish you the best all the years, today and ever.”

Qianqian smiled with tears, picked up the cup and returned to them. When everyone raised their cups, they laughed and picked up the chopsticks started eating. The sisters played the dices and drank until everybody tired and slept.

In the early morning, Songhu Island was snowing heavily. Xihui woke up, saw her sisters still sleeping together on one bed, snorting and dream talking. She found her daughter Xia Yue leaning on a chair sleeping with a sword. She was wondering, walked closer to have a look: it was Xiangzi sword! She immediately looked around but didn’t find Qianqian. She walked out of the hut, realized that it was snowing deeply. The heavens and the earth were a piece of white.

She couldn’t help but sighed: “She is after all…”

Suddenly, someone stood behind, it was Xiyang, looking up the snowy mountains muttered: “It’s all because of my joke! She still can’t put down herself.”

After Qianqian spent her 35th years old birthday in Songhu Island, she disappeared from the rivers and lakes. No one heard that she has appeared anywhere, or did something earth-shattering. No matter whether it was Ren Zhenyi, or ugly face, was totally void.

 

The Final Chapter 10-4

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(4) Jinding

However, there was no response.  Xi Hui and Jiang Di just happened to come back, and saw the scatters pine needle. They were astonished, said: “Definitely! It was the scatters pine needle of Songhu Island, Qianqian, if you were here, why don’t you show up…”

Everyone was silent, waiting for Ren Zhenyi to appear. Suddenly a whistle was heard, as a black shadow descended from sky.  Nobody saw where it has fallen from. It just stood in front of everyone. It was a person, dressed in black, wearing a gold mask, burly and sturdy, no doubt was a man. He could never be Ren Zhenyi.

Xi Hui was dazed, stepped forward and asked: “Who are you? The scatters of pine needle were displayed by you? How could you know the martial arts of Songhu Island?”

The gold masked man laughed loudly, ignored all the questions and people, just looked at Zhen Chuhua and said: “How do you want to die so easily? Are you the person who practicing martial arts!”

Zhen Chuhua wanted to find a hole to hide himself. But he has just failed to die once, couldn’t collect courage to do it again. He eventually picked up the sword and thrust out of the crowd.

The gold-masked man then looked at Chi Nanfeng, said conceitedly. “Now only you can compete with me. I didn’t expect that the Central Plains have no more characters. Only a couple green horns were left!”

Chi Nanfeng was reserved, quietly observing this person, but did not answer. Xi Hui confronted directly with him and asked again: “You haven’t answered my questions yet. How could you know the unique hidden weapon of Songhu Island? Who taught you? How did you learn it?”

The gold mask replied quickly: “It doesn’t matter how I learned it. As long as I know the martial arts of Songhu Island, then I am the master of…”

Xi Hui cut him off, said angrily: “Nonsense, the master of Songhu Island was inherited, how could you say you are by yourself?”

The gold mask refuted: “If the master of Songhu Island didn’t show up, she probably doesn’t want to be the island master anymore. So, why not me? Whoever knows the martial arts of Songhu Island, whoever is the island master, isn’t it fair?”

Listened to such a raving, Xi Hui was incensed. Although she has not fought with anyone in the past ten years, she couldn’t hold on at this moment. When her fists were grasped, she made a style of pine wave from the sky towards him. Unexpectedly, he responded instantly with a style of south mountain pine on rock. Both were from the listening pine wave thirteen styles. Xi Hui was shocked and retreated, thought: This person really knows the martial arts of Songhu Island. It must be very harmful to her reputation and her tradition will be destroyed.

At this time, all the people watching were shocked. They felt so absurd that the expected Island master didn’t appear, but presented a counterfeited one. They were so confused that ridiculing each other.

After fighting with this gold masked man for a while, Xi hui has no more style to return. She found that the martial arts of Songhu Island she knew indeed was less than this man. In a moment, he thrust her with a palm stroke, that was the last style of the thirteenth style, purple smoke that Ren Wanli only passed it to Qianqian. The other sisters have never learned it.

Jiang Di, Jiuqian and Nanfeng were cold sweated. Jiang Di thought, the internal affair of Songhu Island, should let Xi Hui took care by herself. But when he saw that she was unable to handle it any longer, he immediately jumped in, drew his immortal sword, stabbed to the gold mask. The gold mask turned around to receive, as he pulled out the sword carried at his back. As soon as it was unsheathed, matched the immortal sword of Jiang Di a few sequences.

His swordsmanship was as fast as lightning, but his sword was dim and dull. The tip of the sword was blunt and round, but very adaptable. He has exhibited three styles in a series, out of the hole, swinging the tail, chasing the rabbit, shoved Jiang Di to the corner.

Everyone was perplexed: Is this sword the famous foxtail sword! The foxtail sword has been extinct since Ren Tingyun. Although Ren Zhenyi displayed the Soul Fox Nine Swords in Qingcheng Mountain, no one has ever seen the real one. How could this mysterious ancient sword fall into the hand of this gold mask.

Baoshan looked dumbfounded, and Jiuqian looked stunned. She kept mumbling: “Ninth aunty! Where are you? Why don’t you show up?” Inadvertently, she saw a person standing opposite in the crowd, was the linen clothed monk they met on the way. His present drew Jiuqian intention immediately, said: “This person really came to Jinding! What is his purpose of coming here? Is he a fellow of this gold mask?”

Seeing that mom and dad was losing the battle, but no one dared to help. Jiuqian and Baoshan were fretful and edgy. Chi Nanfeng was unbearable just stand and watch. The others didn’t care because they have nothing to do with that.  But as a grandson of Ren Wanli, he must do something, so he jumped out and said: “Uncle, let me take care of him!”

As soon as he said that, a sword has slashed to him. The Nine Sword of Songhu Island, even if it was sham, still striking enough for a young horn. The foxtail sword was original a benevolent sword. But if it was in the hands of the malevolent, it became a weapon to kill. The gold mask was besieged by the family and annoyed, thought: Well! let them died for the foxtail sword! if it was that important to them. Once an evil thought rasied. He chose the youngest horn, Chi Nanfeng. He was stabbing purposely at him. Nanfeng stared at the bewildered foxtail sword and was too late to dodge. As the linen cloaked man shoved, Jiuqian has sprung out and shouted: “Don’t Kill him!”

While everyone was shoving, abruptly a patch of white smoke blocking their views. When the smoke was settled, it turned out was a white clothed person, tossing a sword to the gold mask. The two swords gored each other in the air. The white man’s long sword shone as rising stars, as the foxtail sword faded as a falling one. For the moment, all the styles of soul fox nine sword lost their charm. Of course, fake is fake, it could not stand the ordeal. Everyone screamed as the white clothed man shuffled the gold mask with his sword by just one style. He gave him a couple slits on chest, then cut his gold mask into half, as he dropped the foxtail and tumbled down from the air.

The people were stunned for they didn’t know what was this style. Only Jiuqian and Chi Nanfeng have seen this style before. Though, they were still shocked. As Jiuqian ran out and shouted excitedly: “Just one style is done!”

Chi Nanfeng said: “I didn’t expect this one style she played so slowly, operated in actual rivaling could be that fast and subtle, like a young wild horse, rushing on the boundless prairie, so free and unrestrained.” He sounded more excited than Jiuqian.

The white clothed man was wearing a white gauze hat as described. But he didn’t wear the ugly face. Then, is this person Ren Zhenyi? But the style he has just demonstrated was not martial arts of Songhu Island. If it was not the martial arts of Songhu Island, could he be Ren Zhenyi? If he was ugly face, then what was the relationship between he and Ren Zhenyi? Why did he have to intervene the matter of Songhu Island? Everyone was crazily befuddled.

As the white clothed has already submitted the gold mask. Everyone looked at him. Assumed that he should be the key of all the mysteries. Since the gold mask was cut half, the real face of him was revealed in the public, but on one recognized him. Everyone was frowned. Who is this person! I have never seen him? How could he learn the martial arts of Songhu Island?

Amongst all the people in Jinding, only two actually recognize him. The first was the white clothed man. He stared at him, coldly said: “Huqiao?”

This gold mask was actually the disciple of Miaoyin. The second brother of Yueqiao, Huqiao, tiger bridge. Huqiao fell on the ground with two long blade gashes on chest. His identity was exposed and failed in the hands of this mysterious man. He has nothing to say, but when his name was called by this man. He immediately blasted into laugher and said sullenly: “I see! It is you! If I knew that the martial arts of Songhu Island were so frail, I would never learn it!”

Listened to what he said, the white clothed man scowled, pointed the sword at him, shook his head slightly and said: “You witnessed the end of the Miaoyin, didn’t you? Why would you still follow his path?”

Huqiao has always been murky, even Yueqiao didn’t know what he was thinking. In fact, he has hated Miaoyin for long time. He practiced martial arts earnestly. His light works and swordsmanship were indeed surpassed his master, but he was afraid of his wonderful bird singing. He had never dared to confront him. Miaoyin died, he was not sad, but unconsciously, embarked on his old road, wanted to dominate the martial arts world of Central Plains. He saw a set of peerless swordsmanship on the wall of Songhu Island, the secret books of martial arts of Songhu Island was just a few steps away. Such a big temptation was really hard to resist.

Now his dream was awakened. He did not regret. He accepted the result calmly and said indifferently: “If you wanted to kill me, just do it! you don’t have to preach me.”

The white clothed man was Qianqian. She thought about it seriously: He stole the martial arts of Songhu Island. If I didn’t kill him, he would end up harming the world and abusing the name of Songhu Island. I could not spare his life. When she thought of that, suddenly she felt sad intensely. But she reposted and said calmly: “Well! Then I will send you to see your master!”

Said, she lifted the sword and ready to stab his heart, but a gray shadow fluttering over like a piece of cloud, flicked off her sword. Qianqian stabbed as if stabbing ashes. She retreated the sword as the gray shadow wrapped up Huqiao with his long cloak, elevated and flew in the air to the pine forest.

Everyone saw the sudden change, and were shocked, thinking: except the Songhu Island, in this world, who else could execute such a fascinated light works?

Jiuqian has exclaimed: “It was really him… the linen cloaked monk!”

Nanfeng also surprised: “…What a hidden talent of this modest monk!”

Qianqian saw this gray cloaked man rescued Huqiao in front of her eyes. She was amazed, thought: the martial arts of this person are actually above me! Who else could be in this world…? She chased after him instantly into the pine forest.

When the white clothed man appeared, Xi Hui has already recognized her. Of course, she chased along without thinking, Jiang Di immediately followed. Jiuqian, Nanfeng and Baoshan were about to chase, but suddenly surrounded by the crowd, inquiring all the unresolved riddles about this white clothed man and his swordsmanship.

Behind the pine forest, it was a cliff. The grey cloaked monk carrying the injured Huqiao stopped. As he found no way to go, was caught up by Qianqian. She grabbed his hood, but slipped as he swayed his cloak. Instead of turning his face up, he bulged his slacken cloak to push Qianqian away, His light work was extremely mysterious and undefined.  Qianqian has never seen something like that since she practiced martial arts.

A gust oozed from his cloak, strong but tenderly swept over her. Qianqian dashed back half a step as the gray cloaked man carried Huqiao jumped off the cliff. Qianqian was shocked. She leaned over and watched.  The gray cloak hovering on the steep cliffs, carrying a hundred-pound man on shoulder, and was still moving as elegant as a flying goose. In addition of being dazed, Qianqian was faintly enchanted with a thought that she recognized this person…

She was standing and watching on the cliff, until he completely disappeared into the sea of ​​clouds, she turned around and saw Xi Hui and Jiang Di.

Qianqian only glanced at them, then turned around to leave, but was stopped by Xi Hui, said rudely: “You stopped!”

Qianqian stopped as she said, asked in a deep voice: “Do you call me?”

Xi Hui looked at her intensively. Even she was covered with a white gauze hat, but still able to see her silhouette, and her stature was no different from that of Qianqian. She then said, candidly: “Qainqian, there is no other people here. You can put down your shade.!”

Qianqian felt so intricate and obscured, she still couldn’t open her heart to the past, just said: “You have mistaken, madam.”

Xi Hui frustrated, but did not give up, said: “If you were not her, you should know her!”

Qianqian smiled bitterly: “Perhaps!”

Heard that she refused to admit, Xi Hui did not anger, just smiled and said: “If you knew her, please tell her. On the winter solstice this year, all the sisters agreed to return to Songhu Island for our mother anniversary, please ask her to come home! ”

Qianqian simple nodded, said: “Yes, madam! I will tell her.”

After saying that, she spun and flew away.

Before going home, Qianqian has another important appointment. She came by the river, saw a leafy boat flowing along the current. A woman dressed plain was playing flute on the boat as it rested at the shore.

The music faded as the woman leaped and drew her sword. Qianqian immediately joined her on the shoal. Her sword was drawn after, but ahead of hers. The two blades crossed in the air and their shadows fluttered with the breeze softy blowing on the river. Regardless of the light work or the swordsmanship, the two have already reached to the level of unfettered.

They tumultuously danced and galloped on the surface of river, but not a single splash of water formed, nor the herons searching for mussel was startled. It seemed the two were totally forgotten in the rivers and lakes.

The woman turned over and jumped back to the boat. She slanted her no color sword, place a small cup of wine on the tip of it, then sent it to Qianqian. Qianqian did the same to return. Both women gulped the cup on the sword, looked at each other, smiled and sat down.

The woman said: “You finally gone through the last nine styles.”

Qianqian pinched the cup as the woman lit the lantern and hung it on the post, whispered softly: “I could understand the swordsmanship but still not about life.” Then she drank another cup.

Before the woman sat down, she added a few more pots on the table, said: “I am afraid that when you really understand life and you will be unemotional.”

Qianqian listened, looked blunted and said: “If there was an unemotional life, I better not? If the moon was never waned, I would not enjoy.”

The woman smiled as pointing the rising moon behind the mountain and said. “Do you think this moon is really full? But if you didn’t look at it, how do you know that it was full? So, you have your joy and sorrow, and the moon has its wane and full. Nobody cares for nobody!”

Qianqian listened and laughed, immediately raised a cup and toasted.

After drinking, they put down the cup and watched the water running swiftly by the boat, Qianqian whispered: “The water at this moment is not the water of that moment. They are never stranded. They just coming and going, like you, my lady, no life, no death, no love, no hate, no full, no wane.”

The lady said: “Please don’t call me lady any more. I am now just an ordinary fisherwoman. My last name is Zhu,  first name is Han.”

Qianqian caressed the cup and said: “I didn’t expect little King died so young.”

When mentioning about Xiao Xu, Zhu Han didn’t appear very sad. She only signed: “He short-lived, although it was sad, but he might avoid the fate being a last emperor of the Dynasty.”

When Zhu Han said that, Qianqian glimpsed at her, said suspiciously: “Who are you?” I am not surprised that you know the past, how could you also tell about the future.”

Zhu Han didn’t answer directly, just said: “All the dynasty was like that, if you looked back in the history, where are they?”

Qianqain watched her warily and said: “Zhu Han? You have too many unsolved mysteries.”

Zhu Han listened, smiled and said: “Qianqian, everyone is a mystery. Who can see through who?”

Qianqian nodded and said: “Exactly.”

Zhu Han said: “Everything is a shadow in the water. Only a clear mind can see through, and not bewitched.”

Qianqian raised her eyebrows, said: “People are changeable. Qianqian has already seen through it, but… Please forgive me! Qianqian is ignorant, there is one thing I can never understand.”

“What?” asked Zhu Han.

Qianqian then said frankly: “Who are you? You know all the martial arts of Songhu Island, not just surface, but the essence of them. It seemed they were created by you. If I didn’t see Huqiao in Jinding, I don’t dare to ask you.”

Zhu Han slightly smiled: “Do you suspect that I also sneaked the martial arts of Songhu Island?”

Qianqian immediately explained: “Do not dare. Huqiao is not comparable to you of course. But there must be a reason.  I am the island master, I think I deserved to know.”

Zhu Han smiled softly and said: “Okay! You must know!” She took out a thing from her sleeve and handed it to Qianqian, said: “I don’t want to talk about my pass, but in this world, there is another person, she knows about it. You took this thing, let her see, she will tell you everything about me.”

Looking at it, was a very thin box, as light as a feather in your hand. When Qianqian opened it, it was really a feather. Zhu Han said: “This is the crown feather of a black peacock. The black peacock only lived in Tindu. It is very rare in the Central Plains.”

Speaking of black peacocks, Qianqian was reminded the manuscript of the king she read years ago. It seemed that wasn’t too far from the fact, asked: “So, where is this person now?”

Zhu Han answered: “She is in the Jade Forest, east of the West sea, north of Kunlun Mountain. Her name is the Luzhu, means dew.”

Qianqian laughed: “Dew? Kunlun? Do you know how far is the Kunlun Mountain? My lady! You asked me to look for a dew in the forest thousands mile away? haha!”

Zhu Han smiled oddly and said: “Well! Isn’t it our life was like that? Qianqian! forget about the past bitter days and enjoy tonight.”

Qianqian collected herself from the muddled thought about this mysterious woman, nodded and said: “Yes, don’t waste the wine and the moon. Let’s the old pass be dust! We shall drink”

Zhu Han immediately toasted and said: “Let me blow the flute and can you sing?”

Qianqian giggled: “You were the musician in the imperial orchestra. I forgot it. You play the music, I can beat, but singing? Hmmm, no.”

Then, the two were beating and drinking with the moon and  breeze on the river, pouring pots and pots, sipping, singing all night. When Qianqian woke up in the morning, she was alone surrounded by colored mountain.  Zhu Han has gone, but her black peacock feather was left.

 

The Final Chapter 10-3

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(3) Emei

Hiking on the winding path, overlooking the Jinding of Emei, the family of Jiang Di was having a cheery excursion. Nanfeng and Jiuqian stridden in front, while the couple and their elder son rambled at the back. Jiuqian turned around and yelled: “Hey! Mom! Dad! Could you walk faster!”

Jiang Di leisurely said while enjoying the scenery: “Xi Hui, we have not traveled together for a long time, right? Anyway, I don’t think Qianqian will be appeared so soon. How about we take the chance go to see the Tianchi Peak first?”

Xi Hui looked up at the peaks of Emei, couldn’t help thinking of Songhu Island. She was energized, said: “Our mother was originally a disciple of Emei, and grandfather’s home was at the foot of Emei mountain before, but we have never come. Today, if it was not because of Qianqian, we wouldn’t come either.”

Jiang Di said: “So, today since we are here, we should look around first before going up to Jinding.”

Xi Hui smiled and said: “I know that you are not interested in this kind of conference. Well, why not! It is better just waiting up there.”

The couple seemed have always known what the other wanted.  They have already lived a secluded life for many years. However, Xi Hui couldn’t forget about Songhu Island that became a burden for Jiang Di as well. Today, she felt that she should put off her mind, enjoy some time with him! Then she talked to his son Baoshan: “You tell Nanfeng and Jiuqian, go up to Jinding first. We will catch up later.” Baoshan listened, went immediately, without asking why.

Baoshan ran up the slope, saw Nanfeng and Jiuqian standing under the shadow of a tree. Jiuqian was grumbling: “It has been August, how come it is still so hot?” When she heard that Mom and Dad went to sightseeing, she couldn’t help but laughed: “Ha! They are indeed more playful than us?” Then she sat down to take a break. The three youngsters sat side by side, as the breeze sweeping through with a chill.  They looked relieved.  It seemed that the summer would not last much longer.

The three were quiet for a moment, and two young swordsmen walking towards them, a white face and a black face. The dialogue between the two caught their attention.

The white face asked: “Brother, do you see if the ugly face is really the master of Songhu Island?”

The black face smiled and said: “It is quite unlikely, in my opinion?”

The white face asked: “You have a reason?”

The black face said: “I heard that the appearance of Ren Zhenyi is quite glamorous that even the emperor couldn’t paint it.”

The white face was surprised, asked: “Oh! Is it true? If it was that, then it must not be the same person. Is there any beautiful woman in the world would call herself an ugly face?”

The black face laughed and agreed: “Brother is right.”

As they said, hurried up to the peak. The three youngsters were still sitting under the tree, felt too comfortable to move. After listened to the conversation of the two men. They were confused. Really? then who is the ugly face?  Nanfeng looked bothered, stood up and said: “These world cares too much about appearance. So many people go to the conference of Jinding but how many of them really know about swords?”

Baoshan usually quiet, but this time, he couldn’t help but asked, bluntly: “Nanfeng, if my sister became ugly, you still marry her?”

Jiuqian heard, looked at nanfeng anxiously. Nanfeng thought seriously for a while, then said: “Of course!”

Baoshan nodded and said: “Even she is savage and ugly?” Jiuqian glared at her brother and Nangeng laughed as he saw another person coming up. This man wore a linen cloak, ragged and smelly. He pulled the collar up to his nose covered almost entire bearded face. He walked with a bamboo stick and a paired of tattered shoes. He bowed his head, did not carry a sword. Nanfeng asked curiously: “This uncle, are you also going to Jinding for the sword conference?”

The uncle smiled slightly, said nothing, but returned with his palms together.

He must be a monk! He performed the anjali mudra precisely and reverentially. The youngsters suddenly felt something solemn that they have to stand up and returned the courtesy. By the time, another swordsman walked by, as he saw the man in ragged linen dress. His eyes shown a little disdain, said: “If you are coming for the alms, then you are going the wrong way. This road is going to the gateway of Jinding, where a sword conference is held. All the masters of swordsmanship in the world will be presented. They came to complete or just coveted to see the face of Ren Zhenyi, the master of the Songhu Island….” has been talking so much, but this person did not respond at all, he then snorted: “You are dumb? I am telling you all these things seemed to be superfluous.” Then he pointed at a trail in front of him, said loudly: “If you wanted to go for the alms, go from this path!”

Whether if this man was really a monk, dumb or came for alms, after the swordsman humiliating him, he was not irritated, but just bowed emotionlessly and went to the path he pointed to.

Jiuqian looked at his secluded shadow and muttered: “He obviously wanted to go to Jinding. But just obeyed what that arrogant man said. This monk is so modest!”

Baoshan smiled innocently and said: “Isn’t it a monk should be modest.”

Jiuqian grinned: “Well! I have seen a lot of monks arrogant.”

Nanfeng said: “This monk looked like a westerner, maybe different from what you have seen.”

Jiuqian excitedly responded: “Yes, if you didn’t mention, I almost over looked it.”

After that, the three went on hiking, but they were no longer hurried. Jiuqian thought: If the people went up to the Jinding were all like the ones we’ve just met. I don’t think our ninth aunty will show up today.

The path was secluded, with the towering bamboo forest along both sides. The man walked steadily, until to the end of trail. There was a humble temple with grass roof. The man stood in front of it, listened to the sound of chanting, he stood still. Then, two nuns came out. The old nun seemed to be very old, said softly to the young one: “Since the 100-year grand ceremony, we have been silenced for 50 years, this time the Jinding sword conference, you have to be watchful and restrained, whether you are humble or not, you have to be lenient and fair. It is sufficient to be just fulfilled the duty of the host.”

The younger nun listened, and said: “Yes, Master.” Then she went on the path alone.

The old nun turned back, saw the man in the tattered clothes, standing in front of the temple. She called a nun to bring some vegetarian food and offered it to him by herself. She smiled and said: “You must have walked a long way before coming here. Eat first, before you get on the road again!”

The man looked down at his pair of ragged grass shoes, smiled like a child. He did not expect that this old nun who was over 90 years old, would notice it quickly. He received the food humbly without looking at her. After the old nun left, he started picking up the food with hand, and put it into mouth.

Although it was still steamy hot in the mountains, some branches have shown the color of early autumn.

Finally arrived the Jinding, the peak of Emei. The breeze was much cooler as the flags fluttering. The major factions have already aligned, waiting for the Abbot, Jingru master to hold the open ceremony.

The three youngsters were squeezed to the side by the crowd. They didn’t expect that many people to come, and came so early. Jiuqian thought: If all these people just wanted to see our ninth aunty, I’m afraid they will be disappointed. I have a hunch that she even came, would not show up. Thinking, Jingru master has presented herself in front of the incense burned altar, proclaimed: “The purpose of Jinding sword conference is for learning regardless of the consequence… ”

The voice of Abbot Jingru though was soft but resounded throughout the peak. It showed that the internal strength of her was deep. Although the faction has been silenced for 50 years, her martial arts was more profound than that the period of the Master Mingxin.

Jingru continued: “Our eminent master, Yungu master practiced internal strength in front of gold wind jade dew pine, presented by the former master of the Songhu Island. She lived exceed 90 years old, and created a set of Jade swordsmanship. Today, in the conference, wish all the eminent masters criticize.”

Said, the abbot Jingru has unleased the sword at the scene, sooner enough, a white robe swordsman has jumped up and said: “I am the Diancang faction, Mengru, please advise!” right away, he unrestricted his blade.

Dian Cang faction after defeated by Ren Tingyun, has been no new style for more than a hundred years. Their swordsmanship was unremarkable. This person jumped up at first was really courageous. But the Jade swordsmanship created by a 90 years old nun, shown that her profoundness.  Mengru was young and impatient, he was defeated undoubtfully.

Said: “The jade swordsmanship is really extraordinary! I bowed out of the contest.” After the words, he took his sword and left the field. Immediately, another person jumped into the field to show his sword, said: “Haochao faction, Jiang Lang.”

Jiang Lang did not keep his hands at once he started. This man was the son of Jiang Tao whom was defeated by Ren Zhenyi in Qingcheng Mountain. He was young and vigorous, and he sought to clean the name for his father. But he was frivolous, and the move was impetuous. Many flaws that to be found. Jingru was very polite, didn’t defeated him instantly.

Jiuqian watched quietly and listened to a couple near by talking to each other. The husband smiled and said: “This person is so anxious to win.”

The wife responded: “He must not like fishing!” said, the sword of Jiang Lang has been shaken off by Jingru. Jiang Lang was disheartened, picked up the sword and receded. The husband looked at him and sighed: “It was much better fifteen years ago, when Ren Zhenyi fought with the eight eminent Taoists.  If it was like this, I don’t think we can see her today. ”

The wife listened and cried: “No, that is too bad, we came all the way here!” turned her head and shouted: “Hey! Look, Qingcheng fraction!”

When the husband saw the Qingcheng faction, he shook his head: “I remember that 15 years ago, the Qingcheng faction had a young swordsman. Unfortunately, his right hand was abolished on the spot. ”

Said, the Qingcheng swordsman has exposed his long sword, everyone immediately was inspirited. The husband yelled: “Good! Qing Yang demon sword! Now sounded more exciting, let’s see how it is going?”

When Jiuqian heard that, she couldn’t help but peek at this couple. Seeing the wife’s stomach swelled up, like nine months pregnant, but she still came to see the competition, must be accompanied with her husband.

Sure enough, the Qingyang sword has just came out, it caught all the attention. Immediately, pressed down the jade swordsmanship. Jingru master seemed tried her best, but still could not take any advantage.

Although, she claimed today completion was just for learning, but there was always someone took it too seriously. The Qingcheng faction has been revealed the issue of poisoning fifteen years ago. They have been waiting for the opportunity to make a comeback. Win the world’s first sword was necessary. This person was the eldest disciple of the new leader. He has won the first sword of the Qingcheng School.  He came today of course aiming for the prize. He would not just come for learning.

The two swords confronted dozens of rounds, and it turned out to be a really good show. The people who watched were concentrated. It didn’t take so long, they saw that a sword was dropped, the match has been over. Jingru was defeated.

Jingru smiled, reposted, picked up the sword gracefully and said: “The Qingcheng faction borne a new hero, that worthy of being the master fraction of swordsmanship.

The young man jumped out the scene without telling his name. Now he won, he quickly announced: “Qingcheng faction, Zhen Chuhua meet the Abbot.”

Jingru kept smiling gently and retreated.  Zhen Chuhua now stood in the field by himself. He was full of confidence. After sometime, still no one else dared to fight with him.

Jiuqian thought: This Zhen Chuhua is indeed so good, I wonder if he can induce our ninth aunty showing up?

When everybody was waiting, the husband next to her said again: “The Qingcheng faction is still Qingcheng school, but…”

The wife asked immediately: “But what?”

The husband said: “This man is arrogant, somewhat reminded me the old Taoist who wanted everything so big.”

The wife listened and smiled: “Yes, two feet big carp, that only you could get it.” Her eyes were full of admiration while she was saying. Jiuqian couldn’t help to peek at them again, thought: what a loving couple they are! Except I and Nanfeng, I never see another couple didn’t quarrel. Even mom and Dad quarrel.

While she was thinking, a figure next to her jumped up. Jiuqian instantly screamed: “Nanfeng?”

Chi Nanfeng has jumped into the field, said: “The junior, Chi Nanfeng of the Nine heaven fraction from the western region, wanted to learn the wordsmanship of Qingcheng School.”

Zhen Chuhua looked at Chi Nanfeng, just a youngster less than twenty years old. Although Nine Heaven fraction was quite famous in the western region, but they never tried to compete with the Central Plains. Zhen Chuhua has seen the Nine heaven sword once in Qingcheng Mountain. When he just entered the fraction. Ren Zhenyi displayed the Soul fox nine sword with this Nine heaven sword. It was impressive.

Zhen Chuhua smiled slightly: “Just because of the nine-heaven sword in your hand, at least you can pick up ten strokes of mine!”

Seeing that he was so self-conceited, Chi Nanfeng retrained himself more, calmly said: “Please advise!”

Then he pulled out the sword and flew. The nine-heaven sword was created by their ancestral master, Chi Xinbing. It was a woman’s swordsmanship, but masculine and powerful. Chi Nanfeng though was very young, he has mastered it pretty well. He usually didn’t talk about ambition, even Jiuqian did not expect that he actually contained this kind of daring, challenge Zhen Chuhua who even defeated the Abbot of Emei.

Jiuqian was very worried.  Suddenly, Zhen Chuhua executed the Dragon Tiger Jumping Sword. This sword method was extremely dominant and dynamic. Once it was used, couldn’t be retreated. It was a style for killing demons. Of course, ruthless. The two swords confronted each other, wiped and sparked, galvanic and electrified. After all, both of them were still young. Chi Nanfeng only eighteen, and Zhen Chuhua should not be more than 30s. They were people who refused to admit beaten easily.

Jiuqian were watching and sweating as Baoshan was stunned. He didn’t expect that his cousin, who was always yielding to his sister, could be so adventurous!

At this time, the husband talked again: “Really so-called mountain has another higher mountain. One fish is bigger than the other fish…”

Speaking of this, the wife laughed, but suddenly she yelled, as the husband saw that Zhen Chuhua was stabbing the throat of the youngster. It was said that the competition just for learning, how could he use such a cold shot, that was able to kill the rival. Everyone screamed. But Jiuqian didn’t, for she was too slow to know what happened.

However, Nanfeng was surprisingly calm. He just shifted his shoulder lightly to dodge. At the same time, flipped over the head of Zhen Chuhua. While he was stabbing nothing. A blink of eye, Chi Nanfeng returned with the standard Songhu Island’s light power, jumped at his back, crossed the sword on his neck and said coolly: “Let’s stop over here!”

Zhen Chuhua did not expect that his thunderous attack will be cracked by him, and was defeated in an instant. Thought of he was trying to kill him, he felt extremely ashamed, in front of all the people, including his masters and brothers. He couldn’t help but just wanted to eliminate himself. Once he lifted his sword on his left neck, everyone shouted. Chi Nanfeng was shocked too, but his sword was on his right shoulder, that was the wrong side to save him in the moment.

Suddenly, Zhen Chuhua yelled, and dropped the Qingyang sword to the ground. He grabbed his hands wailing so hard. As everybody saw that the back of his hand was stabbed three pine needles deep into fresh.

Everyone stunned, immediately looked around, and someone has called out: “The scatters of pine needle of Songhu Island!” They spotted around the Jinding, many towering pine trees were wavering in the wind, but no sign of people. At this time, someone stood out and shouted: “If the master of Songhu Island is present, please show up, let us have a chance to see you!”

The Final Chapter 10-2

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(2) Changing face

It has been passed mid night, the banquet was continuing in the yamen of Xiangzhou. The red lanterns were hanging high, occasionally a wave of laughter was heard.  Suddenly a clunky sound on the roof interrupted, as if something very heavy was dropped. Everyone stopped, looked outside. Saw that a man wore a painted mask and white slacken robe, standing straight in the courtyard. Under his feet, two bodies were lying. One of the guests, about 30 years old, stood up from the crowd and shouted to him: “What does this mean?”

The man squinted at this official, asked indifferently: “Are these two officers from your yamen?” his voice was deep and low but feminine.

The official walked out of the court followed with other guests. He glanced at that two bodies, as an old man next to him came over to confirmed the identities of them. He said: “Returned to Superior, these two men are indeed the officers of our yamen.”

“Do they have names?” The man asked.

The old man smiled and replied: “Of course, one is called Lan Dan and the other is Huang Tong.”

The man listened, then turned around and left. The official hurriedly said: “Did you kill these two men.”

The man did not look back, replied coldly: “Correct.”

The official sneered and said: “You killed the officers, and sent them back to the yamen. You are quite undaunted.”

The man turned his face and disdained: “Who are you! If you knew that I am undaunted, how dared you stop me!”

The official said angrily: “I am the south-west Prefecture magistrate, the official for the people of Xiangzhou. You killed the officers, and just wanted to leave? Do you still have the imperial laws in your heart?”

The man turned around, looked at his magistrate, said: “These two officers killed the innocent, did they have the imperial laws in their heart?”

The magistrate said sternly: “If they had violated the law. You can appeal it to the court, you can’t abuse them by lynching.”

The man sneered: “The Superior enjoy your banquet in the yamen every night, you still have time to judge the case?”

The Superior angered: “I am just hosting a banquet to welcome the new prefect tonight, how many nights have I enjoyed the banquet?”

At this time, all the guests standing around were nodded clear-minded. They appeared sober and sensible. The man then looked at the Superior again carefully, seeing him standing up right and looked strict. She said: “These two officers killed the innocent, I saw it by myself. You must be blamed for their undisciplined behaviors.”

When the Superior listened, immediately shouted: “Are you the official or I am the official? You put your mask down immediately and be arrested!”

The man laughed and said: “Ha Ha! you wanted to see my face, I am afraid that I will scare you. Today, I see you are still looked like a decent official, I will spare your life. If you really care for the people, and do your job. If I knew that you are as well a greedy dog official, I will come back to kill you.”

After saying that he jumped up to the roof. The Superior was surprised of his fascinated martial arts, could not help but asked: “Who are you?”

The man turned her head, changed to an ugly faced mask in a snap, grimly said: “The ugly face!” then disappeared with a whistle. The guests were all shocked. The old man beside the superior, whispered: “Superior, I see this ugly face is the one who killed the general coach of 300,000 forbidden army in the Capital, as well intruded the palace to ask his majesty to paint her portrait.”

When the Superior heard that, he shouted instantly: “This ugly face is Ren Zhenyi?”

Ugly face or Ren Zhenyi, for the moment became very famous by her martial arts and the taunt of anti-government. Even the emperor could do nothing about her. All the corrupted officials were frightened and did not dare to abuse the people as usual. This matter was spreading out on the rivers and lakes as well. The abbot of Emei has already claimed that the master of Songhu Island will attend the martial arts conference held at the Jinding in August. The martial arts lovers were looking forward to see her.

In the ​​hometown of Ren Zhenyi, Bashu, wherever, the teahouse, pubs, street alleys, everyone was gossiping about her, regardless of her martial arts, appearance, and even dress. Because not many people have actually seen Ren Zhenyi. They did not even know Ren Zhenyi was a man, or woman, an old or a young, but only know that she wore white gown. Therefore, everyone was particularly pay respect to people wearing white clothes. Some people thought that he was an island master, must not be young. As well Ren Zhenyi claimed to be ugly face, so everyone for the moment, respected the old and ugly in town purposely.

On the fifth day of August, a teahouse by the riverside in Jinli, Chengdu, was particularly crowded. The guests were coming like fishes, swimming non-stopped. The waiters have just sent off a group of heroes, another two came. Both of them were dressed in white, holding a long sword. The waiter quickly greeted them in. As the two young heroes entered the teahouse, they saw that the teahouse was full of white dressed people, scattered in the black lacquered tables and chairs, very eye-catching. The two swordsmen smiled oddly and sat down, instantly was attracted by the dialogue of the next table.

One of the bearded men said: “Officer Wang, I heard that the ugly face also took the head of the prefect of Xuzhou, wasn’t it true?”

Officer Wang raised his thick eyebrows, said slowly. “Not taking the head. The ugly face killed people with no blood. The wound of the prefect’s forehead was as small as a needle.”

The bearded man said: “So fine? What weapon was it used?”

Officer Wang said uncertainly: “Perhaps, an embroidery needle or acupuncture needle!”

The bearded man smiled: “Is the ugly face was also Ren Zhenyi? I saw her 15 years ago in Qingcheng mountain. She was good at swordsmanship. Why didn’t she kill with sword!”

Officer Wang surely said: “She is carrying a long sword but the sword never leaves her sheath.”

When the two young swordsmen heard that, they couldn’t help but turned their heads to interrupt, said: “Have you seen? How is her sword?”

Officer Wang replied: “No one has ever seen her pull out the sword. But after she killed the prefects, she engraved their names and guilt on the wall. The scripts were extremely clear and thin. If you engraved with a sword, the sword must be very whetted.”

The two listened and nodded. At this time, another side of a table, sitting three scholars-liked guests, were listening to the dialogue as well. One of the scholars curiously asked: “I heard that the ugly face before kill every time, will ask the person’s name, isn’t she?”

Officer Wang smiled: “Yes, I heard that she does not kill people without name.”

One of the swordsmen joked: “That isn’t easy, just don’t tell her the name.”

Said, everyone laughed. But right after, they suddenly waned and skimmed round, worried that the ugly face might just sitting amongst them. They immediately shut their mouth for drink and eat.

By the time, two youngsters, one fat and one thin, about seventeen years old, and a girl seemed to be even younger, eating big buns, drinking tea at another table. They also heard the conversation. The girl rolled her eyeballs while biting bun, said: “I think! Even if the ugly face was here, she must not wear white.”

Next to her, was the fat fellow, eating bun and asked: “How do you know?”

The girl grinned and said: “Well, it’s not skin, you can change! If I was the ugly face, I see so many people wearing white. I must not wear white today.”

“What does she wear then?” The thin fellow sitting on the other side, looked up and asked.

The girl said casually said: “Not white, then black!”

The three looked up and saw immediately, there was a man, wearing black, with black silk hat, carrying a long sword, sitting by the window. He was heading down, drinking tea alone quietly. The black gauze hat covered the entire face, that hard to tell was a man or woman.

If it was not the girl talked about black clothes, no one would notice his existence. The three youngsters stared at him, and felt that his serenity diffused a kind of majesty. Suddenly he lifted his chin. Through the black gauze, a pair of eye holes were deep. The three quickly looked back at their buns.

The girl whispered: “Must be her.”

The fat fellow whispered: “How do you know? You can’t even tell is her or him? If he was a man, how could it be our aunty?”

The girl drilled her brain: “I felt that is her. In addition, she is the most suspicious. Look! There are so many people here, most of them are in groups, but she is alone. And, there is no sun, no rain. Why she wore a hat!”

The thin fellow smiled and said: “Perhaps, he is ugly, so he didn’t want people to see his face?”

The girl immediately said: “Is that not an ugly face?”

The thin fellow said: “But this person doesn’t look ugly!”

The girl grinned: “So? If the ugly face is our aunty, she is as pretty as my mother?”

The thin and the fat fellow hissed at the same time: “He is our ninth aunty?”

By that time, the fat fellow saw a couple standing in front of shopkeeper, he hurriedly stuffed the remaining buns into mouth, stood up and said: “Hey, mom and dad are there, let’s go!” then he grabbed two more buns and left. The thin fellow was about to go, but the girl suddenly touched her belly and said: “Oh! I want to go to the latrine!”

The thin fellow nervously asked: “Are you all right, Jiuqian? Do you want me to go with you?”

Jiuqian ​​immediately shook her head and said: “No! I will be all right! You tell my mom, I will come later.”

The fat fellow yelled at his half way: “Don’t you go?”

The thin fellow said to Jiuqian: “Then you be careful, we are waiting for you at stable!” then he left with his cousin.

Jiuqian ​​watched them both gone and looked back, saw that person in black also stood up, was about to leave. She quietly followed her. And her belly did not hurt anymore.

Followed along the riverside, crossed the bridge, climbed the hillside, passed through the bamboo forest, then came to an open space in front of the canyon. Jiuqian ​​hid in the bamboo forest to peek the man. He stood on the cliff, overlooking the canyons, when a leafy boat lightly passed by as if no one gearing.

Jiuqian ​​thought: In such an empty space, if I showed up, he must see me… then she got an idea. She sneakily laughed, as she untied her bag. After a moment of bustling, she turned herself into a wrinkled, hunched old woman. She was smirking as she walked out of the bamboo forest to the edge of the cliff. The man, still standing there, did not move while she was approaching. Then she hollowed her voice, talked like an old woman: “There are only winds, waves and the laughter of mine…” she giggled before asked: “What are you indeed, looking at?”

The man turned to look at her, but still did not speak. Jiuqian said: “I see you are alone, you must have some special talent. You covered your face with black gauze all day, and does not speak. Oh! Is it really the most invincible to be the loneliest? I see the people in this world, always love to fight for the first place, at the end they are not as happy as I am…”

This girl was very eloquent. She loved to talk as the adults. These words were what her dad once said. Now she dressed as an old woman, talk as if she really was.

The man already knew that she was just a gimmick, sneered: “You are too young to say like that!” said, he reached out to grab her face off suddenly. The girl’s little face immediately exposed. She scared and screamed, turned around and ran. But the man has dragged her long braids. The girl ran on the same spot, crying only. The man sneered and said: “Ha! You still run, your braid is soon ripped!”

When the girl heard that her braid was soon ripped, she stopped immediately and stood stiffly. She didn’t dare to move a little, begged: “I don’t run, I know I am wrong, please don’t tear my braid!”

The man was surprised she admitted she was wrong so fast, but he wondered whether she was really felt that. He kept holding her braid, said: “The disguise self of Evergreen manor is the best of the world, but you have to learn ten years more before performing.”

The girl was shocked that the man identified her at a glance. Her braid was held and dad and mom were not there. She didn’t know how to get away, scared and almost cried. The man then asked: “What is your name?”

My name? The girl remembered that in the teahouse, the people said the ugly face must ask the name before killing. She thought he was going to kill her. She immediately covered her mouth with both hands, swore that never would she tell her name.

The man walked slowly to her front, watching her funny expression, smiled and asked: “How are you related to the master of Evergreen Manor Jiang Di?” said, as releasing her braid. Once the girl was free, she immediately jumped and fled. That revealed her clean and elegant light work of Songhu Island. But this little monkey met her monkey ancestor! The man lifted his arm, caught her ankle instantly. She was pulled down from the air, instantly wailed: “Why do you just like dragging me?”

Said, the man suddenly let go, a sword has already in front of eyes. It was a sharp blade, and familiar. The man waved his sleeves as rolling clouds. The sword was receding, but the swordsman was poised. It seemed he has mastered the sword very well. However, his light work was too slow to dominate. Abruptly the man reached out, grabbed the wrist of his. The long sword changed to his hand in a snap, pointed at him reversely.

The girl shouted: “Nanfeng!” she blocked in front of him, facing the man, pleaded: “Don’t! please don’t kill him!”

The man looked at her serious weepy little face, laughed and said: “I am not a crazy killer. I killed all the damn one deserved to die. You are not qualified. Forget it!”

Nanfeng and Jiuqian looked absurd to each other and did not dare to speak. The man backhanded the sword, gave it back to Nanfeng, said softy: “There are many swords in the world. But, if you talk about the momentum, the nine-heaven sword must be the one.”

Nanfeng glossed his eyes. Thought, this man when he looked at the sword, he was bewitched. When he talked about the sword, his voice was plain but authoritative. He glanced at the sword he was carrying, couldn’t help but curious, asked: “So… if it was compared to your sword, senior?”

The man saw that this young man was only about 18 years old, but quite ambitious about swords. He smiled and asked: “The nine-heaven sword is only passed down to the families. How do you relate to the principal of nine heaven faction, Chi Xinni?”

Nanfeng said: “She is my grandmother.”

The man asked again: “What about the Chi Longsha?”

“He is my father.”

“What about Ren Xiyang?”

“She is my mother.” Nanfeng thought he might keep asking, so he reported by himself: “I am the seventh child at home. My name is Chi Nanfeng.”

The man listened, smiled and nodded: “From the great eminent family, no wonder you are elite and confident. But although, you should know the swordsmanship of the world all has its own strengths, no one can replace anyone.”

Heard that his tone was quite amiable, Nanfeng was relaxed. Jiuqian then interrupted: “Yes! My dad often says the same thing. He said his Evergreen sword never fight for the first in the world, but he never thought it was worse than the others.”

The man carefully looked at this girl now, saw her wearing light and talking bright. She really like her, asked: “Can you tell me your name now?”

The girl found that this man was no longer scary, then grinned and said: “My name is Jiang Jiuqian. I was born in a summer night. My real name is Xia Yue, means summer moon. But, later, when I was four years old, in order to commemorate the death of my Ninth aunty, my mother changed my name to Jiuqian, because my aunt called Qianqian, and was the ninth child in the family.”

Listened, the man looked stirred and said nothing. Jiuqian sneakily looked at him, as he raised his eyelids, and asked: “Who said that your aunt is dead?”

Jiuqian looked up and replied heartily: “Someone said that, but now I see, she is not dead anymore.”

The man smiled coldly and said: “You are so naughty, which is more than your aunt when she was a child.”

Jiuqian immediately asked: “How do you know? Do you recognize her?”

The man slanted his face, didn’t answer. Jiuqian asked deliberately: “You have already known our name, then what is yours?”

The man said indifferently: “I don’t have a name.”

Jiuqian suddenly looked sad and whispered: “I am so sorry for people without names.”

The man looked up and wondered whether she was sincere, he frowned and said: “There is no name for a man, but was a name for the sword…” turned to Chi Nanfeng and said: “Don’t you want to see my sword?”

Chi Nanfeng was pleased and said: “Can I really see it?”

The man immediately pulled out the sword and moved ten feet apart to dance a swordsmanship.

Chi Nanfeng watched it attentively, saw that his body movement was exquisite and subtle, but quite slow. He was thinking if he played that slow, it must take a long time to finish. Unexpectedly, he stopped after a while.

Chi Nanfeng was surprised, asked: “Senior! this sword is looking good, but there is only one style!”

The man retreated the sword, walked to him and said: “You really have insight. For your age, you are pretty distinguished.”

Praised by the senior, Chi Nanfeng was blushed, quickly asked: “Senior! Does this style have a name?”

The man replied bluntly: “This style named no style.”

Chi Nanfeng has not responded yet, Jiuqiao laughed: “Senior! You miscalculated, obviously it has one style, how come you said no style?”

The man was shocked for the moment. When he created this swordsmanship, he finished the first, then no second, hence he called it no style, but forgot that it has one in the first place. He was looked a bit embarrassing being asked by a little girl like that.

Chi Nanfeng squinted at Jiuqian as she was looked a bit self-contented. Then he turned back to the senior, asked seriously: “What about the sword? What is its name? This sword is cold and frosty. There is a kind of daring that I have never seen before.”

The man immediately handed the sword over and said: “This sword is cold, but it is a sentimental sword. It is clean and pure, and it has never killed.”

Chi Nanfeng looked at this sword, as sharp as ice, as cold as snow. He didn’t dare to touch.

Jiuqian said like self-talking: “This sword is so cold, but the person is so hot. Isn’t it too desolate?

The man took the sword back, shook it back into sheath, beamed and asked: “Do you know what the taste of desolate?”

Jiuqiao grinned: “I don’t want to taste at all. I have already known how it tasted by watching the plays. I never wanted to be like those characters in the plays?” Jiuqian casually said something touching again. The man glimpsed at her but didn’t speak.

He turned again to Chi Nanfeng, answered his question: “This sword is called Xiangzi.”

Although he has never heard of it, but he did not dare to neglect, immediately said: “Good name.”

The man simply smiled. He thought today, he met these two young spirits here was quite a pleasant experience. Unfortunately, the sun has set, the sky was getting dark and he eventually has to leave, said: “I am leaving, you two should go back!”

Said, he turned around and walked away, but Jiuqian chased after him: “Wait a minute.”

The man stopped and looked back at her. Jiuqian was hesitant for a while, then asked: “Can I see your face clearly?”

The man smiled, put down the black gauze hat without thinking, immediately revealed a plain face, no double, was a woman face.

Chi Nanfeng looked at her, felt chilled, said: “How come this face looked colder than her sword!”

Jiuqian stared at her face, mysteriously smiled and said: “Well! You need to get some more suntan!”

The man grinned and said: “Nonsense!”

Suddenly, someone shouted in the bamboo forest: “Jiuqian! Nanfeng!”

Jiuqian and Nanfeng turned around to see. When they looked back, the man has disappeared.  Xi Hui and his eldest son Baoshan walked out of the bamboo forest, saw that Jiuqian and Nanfeng were really here, they felt relieved. When Jiuqian saw the mother, she said: “Mother, I saw ninth aunty.”

Xi Hui said: “Where? Where is she?”

Jiuqian pointed at the sky, replied: “She is gone.”

Xi Hui asked: “Is that she telling you she is?”

Jiuqian shook her head and said: “No, but I know she is.”

The Final Chapter 10-1

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Chapter 10

(1) Portrait (2) Change Face (3) Emei (4) Jinding (5) Offering (6) Seclusion (7) Kunlun

 

(1) Portrait

In the night of heavy rain, the gate of the capital was closed. Two teams of the patrol were passing by the watch tower. The guards padded on the cobble stones as the rapid rain steadily pulled over. Before the archway, a woman stood alone watching the imperial note board. She was wrapped in white clothes, wore a bamboo hat, carried a long sword. Only her pair of shining eyes were exposed. She stared at the imperial wanted list, sneered: “This portrait nothing like me!”

After that, she just simple torn off the portrait and then turned around. On the watch tower, a guard saw it and shouted: “Who are you? dared to tear off the imperial wanted list? Come! Get her!”

Said, a team of forbidden army rushed down from the tower, as the woman was walking slowly in the rain. She seemed deliberately walking slow to wait for them. When the troop finally blocked her way and raised spears in front of her, she stopped and talked to herself: “If this rain didn’t stop all night, I am afraid the river dike outside the capital will be collapsed!”

After the words, the one on the tower, shouted: “What are you waiting for? Take her.”

The guards saw this woman looked so striking, they did not dare to move forward. After listened to the order from the general coach, they anxiously thrust the spears to her. The woman simply jumped on the spears and spung herself out of the wall.

The guards saw her disappeared into the rain just a snap, they were shocked but didn’t know where should they chase.

The inner palace was imposing, but lately it became the performing stage of music and dance. The new emperor ignored the suffering of the people but indulging himself into the artistic world. Tonight, he was painting in the Zizhen Hall of the candles light wavered as bright as the day.

The emperor eagerly picked up his brush, when the eunuchs and the ladies gathered around next to him. He dipped the brush, gazed at the paper, painted a lady attentively. A thin eunuch, about twenty years old, with a long eyebrow, smiled and clapped, said: “Your majesty! this lady is really charming and beautiful.”

The emperor seriously said: “The real beauty is not able to paint, it supposed to be incomprehensible!”

Just said, suddenly there was something fallen from the ceiling, happened to drop on the painting of the emperor has just finished. The emperor picked it up to see. It was a portrait of the imperial wanted. Everyone was shocked, as they were about to shout, some sounds like ringing of silver bell was heard. Everyone looked up the ceiling. Saw a woman sitting on the towering painted beam leisurely. She wore a white robe, half covered her face, sweetly laughed.

The emperor was astounded as he saw this woman, said enthralled: “This is really awesome!” immediately asked: “Who are you?”

The woman said: “The one in the portrait of your hand.”

The emperor immediately looked at the portrait and the woman back and forth many times before he said: “How could it be possible?”

The woman snorted: “Isn’t it?” she raised her eyelids and said: “I heard that you are very good at painting…”

Once these words were said, the thin eunuch next to the emperor angrily shouted: “How dared you to be rude to his majesty!”

The emperor said: “Tong Guan, you retreat.” Tong Guan immediately receded.

The woman then said to his majesty: “Now you have seen my face! Please paint another portrait that like me and posted it again, otherwise how can they find me?”

After said, she laughed, turned over and disappeared. Hence, the eunuchs and the ladies around the emperor called out loudly: “Come! There is assassin!”

The emperor totally ignored what they shouted for. He immediately picked up the brush, slid another paper out, dipped the ink, brushed the strokes down while thinking of the woman’s face. It wasn’t taking him very long before he finished. At the time, a team of Forbidden army were matching in, but the emperor was absorbed into his painting. The army has just stood outside and waited for his order. Tong Guan stood by the emperor’s side. Seeing this painting was mostly empty, only a pair of eyes, two eyebrows, a few fizzy hairs only, and the face was entirely blurred. He didn’t know how to praise for a while. Suddenly he saw the moon hiding behind the cloud. He quickly exclaimed: “This exquisite figure of the emperor is really as beautiful as the shy moon, but… do we really post it back to the imperial note board?!”

The emperor listened, laughed loudly, then dropped the brush on the desk, and looked intoxicated. He was held by his concubines, accompanied with hundred of imperial maids and eunuchs, strolling back to his sleeping hall, as they scattered the flower petals on the way.

Of course, the Emperor would not post it back, but the story of Ren Zhenyi killed 300,000 forbidden general coach Han Shan and intruded into the Forbidden Palace, requested the emperor to paint a portrait for her, became the people favorite gossip spread over all the country.

A midsummer night, in the Evergreen Manor of Shanxi.  Jiang Di entered the house, hurried into the hall. He has been calling: “Madam! Madam!”

A family servant heard that the master calling his wife, said: “Master, the madam is in the room of Miss.”

When Jiang Di heard that, he walked out of the hall, passed the courtyard, went directly to his daughter’s room. He pushed in without knock, saw his wife smiled and said: “You are such a gimmick, have you not making enough trouble outside!”

The daughter, about 15 years old, swayed her mother’s sleeves, kept pleading: “Mother! Let me go! Let me go! The big brother and our cousin Nanfeng are also going! What are you afraid of?”

When she saw Jiang Di came in, she immediately took his sleeve and said: “Dad! You came in the right time. You judge fairly! The big brother and Nanfeng can go, why can’t I.”

Jiang Di smiled and said: “Go where?”

Xi Hui frowned: “She wanted to go with Baoer and Nanfeng to the Martial arts Conference held in Emei on the eighth of the next month.”

Jiang Di mysteriously smiled: “Maybe we should go too this year.”

Heard that, the little daughter jumped up, clapped and said: “Wow! Let’s go together Mom!”

Xi Hui asked: “Why? Haven’t you said, you don’t care these kinds of conference anymore?”

Jiang Di smiled and said: “I don’t care, but you must care.”

Xi Hui knew that Jiang Di should have a reason, she stared at him. Jiang Di then said: “I just came back from the Wanxiang pavilion. Do you guess who I heard?”

Xi Hui was just wondering, the little daughter has impatiently asked: “Dad! Say it? Tell me!”

Jiang Di said seriously: “According to the messenger from the capital. Ren Zhenyi killed the general coach of 300,000 forbidden army, also broke into the palace, asked the emperor to paint a portrait for her.”

Xi Hui stood up excitedly. The little daughter has already clapping and jumping, said: “Wow! Ninth Aunty is amazing!”

Xi Hui was surprised and joyful, said: “Since Qingcheng Mountain, there was no news from Qianqian. Ten years ago, some people said that she was hiding in Xiangzhou. However, when I went to the Clear Sky Village, I saw only scorched earth. I went to the yamen to inquire, someone said that she was killed in the fire. I was sad and have been feeling guilty for a long time. If she was still alive. That’s really a great good news.” Then she asked, “Is that true?”

Jiang Di affirmed: “Highly possible. The abbot of Emei has announced that Ren Zhenyi was invited for the martial arts conference in Jinding that held next month. She said that Ren Zhenyi is the master of Songhu Island. Now she was re-emerged, can she be not invited?”

Xi Hui nodded: “Yes, that issue has passed for a long time. If the abbot of Emei recognized the status of Qianqian as the master of Songhu Island. We should also welcome her back to Songhu Island.”

Jiang Di smiled and said: “Qianqian has done such two earth-shattering things, killed the court dog Han Shan, and fooled the muddled Emperor, vent the anger for the people. Now, should be the best time to revived her honorable name.”

The two was talking, but strangely aware that how come their little daughter who usually loved to interject but suddenly so quiet? Turned around and saw that she has already sneaked out.

Xi Hui sighed: “This daughter really untamed.”

Jiang Di smiled and said: “You should blame yourself, for giving her such a name.”

“Jiuqian!” Xi Hui sighed and said: “At that time, I thought that Qianqian has died. In order to commemorate her, I changed our daughter’s name to Jiuqian. For she was our ninth sister. How could I know she became more and more naughty? Exactly like Qianqian when she was child.”

Jiang Di sat down, held the hand of Xi Hui. He knew that she has been feeling guilty for that, said: “Now Qianqian is still alive. Although she has different father, but still same mother as you. We should have accepted her…”

 

Since the discovery of the sweet water well, under the big poplar tree of the city Xiangzhou, gradually became a place where the people gathered. Li Piggy and Li Doggy opened a shop selling well water tofu in front of the house. Today was the market day. Every fifteenth of the month, there was very lively. Farmers from the city brought their products to sell here. Buskers came over and wished to make some travel expenses on the way. The homeless also took the opportunity came over to get some alms.

The Doggy was grinding the soybeans in the store, heard that his sister Piggy shouted outside: “Ah! The changing face man is coming! Brother! Can you Come out, help me to keep the store!” Then she quickly took off her apron, went to the big poplar tree to watch the face man. The Doggy came out grumpily: “This Piggy is really lazy, only know playing every day!”

Suddenly, saw a woman standing in front of him. She was wearing all white, with delicate and cool face. Doggy couldn’t help but stared. For a long while speechless, until the woman said: “Give me a bowl of bean curd.”

Doggy smiled awkwardly, took the bean curd to her immediately. The woman paid and asked: “When did this place become so bustling?”

Doggy answered: “Since the changing face man came, everyone has gone to see him, even my sister.”

The woman replied with a smile softly, then looked at the big poplar tree, saw a large group of people, old and young, male and female, surrounded a man who stood on a stump under the tree. He wore black cloth and black round hat. Every time, as he opened his arms, he changed a different face of him. His skill of changing face was seamless. Everyone stared at his face, stunned and applauded. He pulled off seven or eight different faces of expression and emotions. Sad or happy, good or evil! Absolutely unambiguous. People were happy. But when he finished and took out a pan to ask for some changes. The people have mostly scattered. Although there were many people watching, but only a few actually donated. Suddenly, he found a silver ingot in his pan. The face man was shocked, but when he looked up. He saw only a white shadow drifting away. He immediately happily said: “Thank you girl! Thank you!”

The face man was picking up the silver ingot, but suddenly fell dead on the ground. Someone has already screamed: “Go! Go! The officers murdered!”

The crowds who were doing business in the market all of a sudden vanished, only the chickens were still hanging in front of the door-shut stores.

In the midsummer, there was no reason of such a slap of sand swirl. One officer gripped up the silver ingot from the ground, cleaned the blood on knife with his bottom of shoe.

In an instant, a blast rolled up the faces of the face man to the corner of street. The woman who bought curd bean before, picked up a face mask and looked at it. It was a white-skinned smiling face. She put it on her face, through the eye holes, indifferently looked at the two murderous officers, as they took the silver ingot, laughed and walked away.

 

After the two officers killed the face man, they took the silver ingot to a restaurant to buy drink. When they were out, they have been very drunk. They tramped on the pit of dirty water in front of door. The flawless moon shadow in the pit was dissolute instantly as the inky water was splashed. They shouted: “Fuck! Who dig a pit here to let us stamp?” Then they slammed the door. But the restaurant has already shut and the door was locked.

The two drunken officers kept pounding and yelling, in the quiet long street until someone stood behind them and said: “How could you worse than the burglar?”

The two stopped pounding and looked back. In their drunken eyes, saw there was a woman in white, with a hazy smile on her masked face. One of them spit and said: “How come another face man again? Who are you? How dared you interfere your grandfather’s business?”

The woman in masked said faintly: “You don’t care who I am. I only ask you a question. You just answer.”

Another officer leaned on the other’s shoulder, babbled: “You… ask us… what fucking question? will I have… to…answer you?”

The woman blinked and said: “I just want to know your names.”

“Names?” The two laughed and said: “Ha Ha! We are your ancestors.”

The laughter suddenly froze in the air, and the long street immediately returned to silent. Only a couple echoes of night watch sounded to tell that it was already passed mid night. Then the moon shadow retreated to the pit.