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