Songhu Island 6-5

20181207_151332-1

(5) Nine Swords

This summer, Songhu Island was particularly hot and humid. The mosquitoes were breeding enormously. Many villagers in the vicinity have infected with malaria. Even Aunt Mi has a fever and vomiting. Qianqian and Ren Wanli carried a rattan basket, walked around in the steaming mountain to find herbs.

Ren Wanli was giving lesson about herb medicine while they were looking for it, said: “When it comes to collecting herbs, there are more in Lushan but Songhu is stronger. Otherwise you go a little further to Emei. There are more rare and precious herbs. However, it is no need to go so far for this kind of malaria.”

Qianqian listened attentively, while paying attention to find the suitable herbs. She suddenly saw a plant hiding in the weeds on the hillside resembling the one in the medicine book of her hands, she called: “This is the one, isn’t it?”

Ren Wanli smiled and asked: “In addition to the appearance of the herb, is there any other way to distinguish them?”

Qianqian then squatted, cut a piece of root and bark with a knife, sniffed it, touched it, put it into mouth, tasted it, and read the book carefully again. After studying for a while, she nodded and said: “The red thorowax root is brownish red on the surface, yellowish white inside, hard wood and solid, tasted sweet and spicy. It shouldn’t be wrong!”

When she finished, she pulled out a red thorowax root and dropped it into the rattan basket. But when she noticed that Ren Wanli did not say anything, she immediately asked: “Oh, am I wrong!”

Ren Wanli saw that she was so confident, but still carefully examine and check and taste the herb. In the end, she was also not ashamed to ask. She could have this kind of academic attitude. Ren Wanli was really pleased. But he has to remind her: “Look, smell, touch, taste is the four main tips to distinguish an herb, but some herbs are so toxic that they can’t be tasted.”

“Can’t be tasted, how should I do?”

“Bring it home, take the antidote before you taste it.”

“So simple!?”

“Well! Of course, it wasn’t so simple as I said. In the ancient time, the god of medicine Shennong, tasted all the herbs and was poisoned seventy-two times every day. He didn’t die was amazing. ”

“That is why he became god! ”

Ren Wanli laughed when he heard the interesting remark from Qianqian. Then the father and the daughter talked and laughed while they were looking for herbs, they seemed getting along very well now. They collected all the herbs they needed by the evening and returned home.

Qianqian personally boiled and extracted the herbs to medicine. She quickly brought it to Aunt Mi’s room. She was reclining on the edge of bed, chatting causally with Dad. Then she took the medicine to her, touched her forehead and checked with her pulse carefully, said: “How can you still have so much to talk even when you got sick? Come and eat the medicine soon, then take a good sleep, no more talking!”

Aunt Mi was contented to see Qianqian serving and taking care of her. She received the herb bowl and smiled sweetly, but she teased her instead: “Is that all right! Island Master! Do you really let her to use me as a trial?”

Ren Wanli just laughed without comment. Qianqian looked grim and serious, said to Aunt Mi: “Hey, you see you, you have fever and cold, your mouth is dry and inflamed, and you have also bone pain, Aren’t you? After taking this medicine, you will be just fine.”

By saying that, Aunt Mi has no choice but took the medicine reluctantly. After she finished the bowl, Qianqian lay her down and urged her to sleep. After Ren Wanli left, she took care of her by the bed side until dawn.

 

One morning of another autumn, Qianqian carried the chicken cage and rattan basket, rustled the dried leaves on the path, hurriedly walked back home from the mountain. She ran into the kitchen, dropped the cage and basket, nervously took out a chopper, ready to cook. The kitchen of the Songhu Island was very big with eight burners. In the past, a dozen people cooked here, prepared food for a hundred of mouths. The rusty giant pot was still on the stove.

Qianqian cleaned up the pot and poured out the things in the rattan basket. There were actually snakes and fungus. Qianqian took out a book from her collar, turned it opened on the table, sharpen the chopper while reading it. She looked excited and uncertain about what to do next.

She grabbed a snake in one hand, held it high and ready to chop. Unexpectedly, the snake was slipped from her hand while she bumped her elbow on the chicken coop. Hastily the pheasant in the cage flustered and flew around the kitchen. In a hurry she picked up a firewood stick, threw at the pheasant and hit the shoulders of its. The pheasant fell off, looked hurt. Qianqian shouted, “You can’t die! You can’t die now! It’s not good for taste if you died too early.”

But the pheasant seemed to have no sign of life. Qianqian immediately put it on the table, flipped through the book, and then took a small bag from her waist, opened it and there were many silver needles. She read the book again to make sure her mind. Then took out a few needles, sprinkled them under the shoulders of the pheasant. In a moment, the pheasant indeed came back to life. When it flapped the wings and wanted to fly. She grabbed it with one hand, quickly returned to the cage, as the snakes were crawling on the cross beam. They looked like falling on the top of her head anytime. Qianqian swiftly turned over, jumped onto the stove, held the silver needles. When she flicked, the snakes were nailed and dropped. Qianqian immediately raised the chopper, cut their heads in the air, let them fell into the pot and bleed. After a few hours of busy working, smoke was rising from the chimney, and a few delicious dishes were finally made.

Qianqian delicately placed the dishes on the plates, quickly carried to Ren wanli’s study room. Today was his 78-year-old birthday. Qianqian said that she has to cook for him. For the first time of her life she cooked, it was an overwhelming and throbbing experience.

Ren Wanli and Aunt Mi have been waiting for hours in the patio of the study room. Ultimately, they saw Qianqian holding the dishes coming. They watched at her putting down the dishes that smelled good, looked rich, and the color was appealing.  Aunt Mi looked surprised and relieved. Ren Wanli has no show on his face. Qianqian arranged the table and sat down anxiously. For a while no body started yet, until Ren Wanli picked up the chopstick, then Aunt Mi. Qianqian was still staring unbelievably. How were they tasted? She was worried. but they were just eating slowly, quietly, without making any comment. Qianqian was going crazy, she finally picked up a dish in front of her, the moment she shoved into her mouth, she put down the chopstick despondently. Aunt Mi smiled and said: “They aren’t so bad, after seasoning will be good. ” Then she stood up, picked the dishes and walked away.

Qianqian rolled her eyeballs aimlessly, the moment caught the sight of Ren Wanli, he said: “Qianqian, you come with me.”

Qianqian was unprepared and looked out of mind. Ren Wanli has already stood up and walked inside the room. Qianqian of course walked after him right away.

Ren Wanli returned to his study room, lit the lamp, held the candle stand, stood in front of a bookshelf, then pushed it with palm. The bookshelf filled with books from bottom to top slowly glided backward to reveal a door. Qianqian whispered shockingly: “There was a secret room inside, I knew that this room kept all the secrets of Songhu Island.”

Ren Wanli opened the secret door and led Qianqian into it. She was amazed the size of this secret room was smaller than the study room and it was indeed empty with only four sides of cold stone walls. Until Ren Wanli pushed and clicked a piece of stone on the wall, revealing a rectangular partition, she didn’t know there was something. She saw books inside the partition, but they were not just books like those on the shelves. Those were secret books of martial arts of Songhu Island. Qianqian has learned many martial arts of Songhu Island, but never has seen any secret books of them. She was looking bizarrely. Ren Wanli raised his voice, declared: “Songhu Island has six major schoolings…”

There were actually seven schoolings in Songhu Island. However, since Ren Wanli was unable to save Liu Yiyi with all his knowledge of medicine. He removed the medicine schooling to show the pain of losing his wife.

“…you have already learned five of them, such as fists, internal strength, light power, acupoints and hidden weapons, and what you have not learned yet?”

Qianqian immediately replied: “Sword.”

“Yes,” Ren Wanli smiled and asked: “How long have you not picked up the sword?”

Qianqian clearly answered: “More than two years.”

Ren Wanli asked again: “Do you know how long I have not picked up the sword?”

Qianqian was startled. She didn’t know he ever picked up a sword for she has never seen it. So, she answered according to the truth: “I don’t know.”

Ren Wanli nodded and snorted: “Sixty years.”

Qianqian thought that he has never used sword but now appeared that he did use sword when he was young. Why didn’t he use it anymore?

Ren Wanli explained: “When I was 18 years old, after I contested the sword with my father in the nine-sword platform, he took me here in this secret room, told me a secret about the sword.”

Qianqian listened attentively. Ren Wanli turned over the partition and it fell a long object on his hand. It was perceived to be a long sword. Qianqian felt her heart pounding while he pulled the sword out of sheath. His face revealed an invincible spirit of youth that Qianqian has never seen. She stepped back, looked at the sword still trembling with a wave of groaning. She then noticed that it was not sharp at the tip but round and flat. It looked dull at the first glance like a fox tail. Qianqian abruptly shouted excitedly: “Is that the legendary foxtail sword that was lost with the nine swords?

Ren Wanli looked at the tip of the sword, said coldly: “This is indeed the foxtail sword, but it has never lost.” He put down the sword and recounted: “After my father passed the soul fox nine swords to me, he took me to this secret room, returned the foxtail sword back to this partition, told me that to forget all the swordsmanship I had learned, as well, when I walked in the rivers and lakes, couldn’t use any of them, not even one style. I was young, I felt like I was fooled. The swordsmanship was passed to me, but I was not allowed to use it. Isn’t it ridiculous?”

After Qianqian listened to the effect, she reflected to the cause, asked prudently: “Is it related to the sword completion of our grand grandfather with the Eight Great Schools?

Ren Wanli nodded, said: “My grandfather, your grand grandfather, Tingyun competed with the Eight Great Schools. He won the eight masters, including the first sword of the Qingcheng School. This was a noticeable event; however, the hidden story was not that simple. My father told me that grandpa won the Eight Great Schools, but he accidentally injured one of them. This person was poisoned and killed on the spot. The Eight Schools immediately accused grandpa of poisoning the sword. Grandpa saw the wound was black, his sword seemed was poisonous even he didn’t do so. Facing the reproach of the eight schools, he couldn’t prove that he was innocent. For keeping the name of Songhu Island, Grandpa was forced to swear that the Nine Swords and the Foxtail Sword would be vanished from the rivers and lakes. Everyone knew that the Soul Fox Nine Swords has been created since the founder of Songhu Island. It has been seven generations in succession. Grandpa made such an oath. It was a big harm to Songhu Island. He didn’t expect that the Eight Great Schools were not satisfied. They urged him to swear that the descendants of Songhu Island would no longer use sword. If he didn’t, they would publicize the matter. It was unbelievable that Grandpa promised all the conditions. Since then, the Nine Swords could only be passed on inside the family.  It has never appeared again in the rivers and lakes. In the generation of my dad, Songhu Island was silent and retired. In my generation, I couldn’t use sword then I developed my fist styles. At the age of 28, I created the listening pine wave of thirteen styles. Songhu Island has recovered her status to some degree. However, Songhu Island cannot be known for its swordsmanship. It has always been a repentance for me.”

After knowing this hidden history of the family, Qianqian felt more honored to be part of her, she said: “Even without swordsmanship, the light work of Songhu Island is still recognized as the best in the world. Dad combined the light work with your thirteen styles, it was eminent in the rivers and lakes for years, you should be proud of yourself.”

Ren Wanli of course was proud of himself, but he still sighed and said: “The Soul Fox Nine Swords have been extinct for more than a hundred years. If Grandpa did not poison, it was really unworthy and degrading. But for now, the only thing I can do is passed it to you to keep the succession, but Qianqian, you must know that you have to do the same as I and Grandpa did. You cannot use a single style of it. For a person who loves sword, this is a painful temptation, do you understand?”

Qianqian realized that why he enforced her to forget the swordsmanship before he promised to teach any martial arts. It emerged that the sword was a painful mark in his heart. Qianqian moved forward, looked at Ren Wanli, nodded eagerly: “Dad, you can be assured, I has promised you, I must do it.”

Ren Wanli noticed that Qianqian has changed significantly these couple years. Her personality as well her martial arts has developed a prototype of qualification. She will be a character in the future. He was assured that she will not ruin the name of Songhu Island. Then he handed over the foxtail sword to her, and said: “Qianqian! from tomorrow, I will pass the essence of Nine Swords to you.”

Qianqian held the sword with both hands resolutely. She always believed that she has untold link with Songhu Island. Today, received the legendary foxtail sword, she was certain of this thought.

 

The next day, Qianqian came with foxtail sword to the nine-sword platform, has already seen Ren Wanli standing on the bridge. Qianqian has just stepped on the curved bridge, Ren Wanli suddenly jumped and flew.  Swiftly he stood behind her. Immediately he clenched her wrist. When he snorted, he took the foxtail sword from her hand, swirled in the air and swung the sword among clouds. Out of the blue the morning glow broke through the clouds, illuminating where the sword has just crossed over, and the sky turned into a seven-colored rainbow. At this time, Ren Wanli has already made the first sword of the nine, the fox out of cave. And the second then the third, the forth were displayed. Ren Wanli was elated and shouted in the sky: “Sixty years, this sword is as it is always.” After that, he swayed himself over the nine bridges. Qianqian stood by and watched quietly. She did not look at his swords, but himself. She watched whole hearted, and said to herself: “He hasn’t picked up the sword for sixty years, but it was still breathtaking. Seeing him with a sword today, immersed in it completely…that is a swordsman supposed to be.”

Now she began to look at his swords. Seeing this swordsmanship is very secluded. There is nothing similar to the boldness of the three swords or the lingering of the sunrise, or the ecstasy of the murals. It is just sedate and mellow. This swordsmanship was used to counter enemy, and defeated the most famous eight masters? She was astonished.

Watching Ren Wanli dancing swords alone with his long-sleeves, flying in the mist of the morning glow, as if he was immortal. She couldn’t help but applauded: “Does Songhu Island really has a fairy…”

Saying about it, Ren Wanli has finished the Nine Swords in a series. He stopped in front of Qianqian and was looked fresh and rejuvenated. He said delightfully: “Have you seen it all?”

Qianqian smiled, said: “I saw it, but I didn’t look at it.”

Ren Wanli supposed Qianqian was trying again to be amusing, he only smiled and asked: “What do you mean by that?”

Qianqian replied earnestly: “I didn’t look at the sword styles. I only saw the sword. The swordsmanship usually tended to be vigorous. However, although the nine swords are also magnificent to see, but are they only for self-satisfaction? The moves seemed to be like the hanging cloud, like the misty fog. How can this sword be used for competing?”

Ren Wanli admitted that although she is still young, she has seen many wonderful swordsmanship. She was qualified to judge the nine swords. He was not offended. He said with sureness: “Have you ever heard of the benevolent invincible?”

Qianqain opened her eyes widely, waiting of his explanation. Ren Wanli continued: “When our ancestor opened the island, there was one fairy fox. She was different from what we believed that normal fox was considered cunning. Her fur was white as snow, her temperament was mild. She was kind, she never hunted. After a long period of observation, our ancestor discovered this set of swordsmanship. He believed that swordsmanship could be soft and gentle. The benevolent could be invincible. Like drum and bell, to soothe than to kill. He created nine swords, but he said he only discovered them, for they have been there in the nature. A hundred years after him, the nine swords have not met a rival yet…”

Ren Wanli handed over the sword to Qianqian and said: “If you looked at this sword, although it looked sharp, but there is no tip. It is not good at assassinate. The blade is muted and dim, deliberately hidden. You can see the intention of their inventor. Qianqian, your swordsmanship is refined, but you can’t forget the original connotation of it.

By this time, the sky was clear, revealing the autumn colors of the mountain. Qianqian picked up the sword and flew, jumping over the nine bridges, playing the remaining five swords, following the instruction of Ren Wanli. The spirit of fairy fox seemed entered into the sword to protect the Songhu Island. However, it was forced to be extinct in the rivers and lakes. Thought of that, Qianqian was feeling very sad. When she came to the last sword, the soul fox died when looked back at the cave of her birthplace with love and reverence. Qianqain was unbearable sorrowful. When she flapped the last stroke of nine swords, she knelt down and pledged to the sky from heart. She will devote her life to wash the shame and recovered the fame of the foxtail sword.

When she thought of the soul fox, she always came with a question. She stood up and asked: “Dad! Are the soul foxes extinct? Why have I never seen one?”

Ren Wanli didn’t expect she asked such a question, he answered frankly: “The soul foxes have guarded Songhu Island for two hundred years, but they have suddenly disappeared in the past thirty years. I wonder if Songhu Island would be also vanished.”

Ren Wanli sounded so pessimistic, Qianqian immediately consoled: “Even if the soul foxes were no longer guarding the Songhu Island, there is still me!”

Ren Wanli felt her sincere dedication to Songhu Island. He was grateful and said:  “You will be appreciated by our ancestors. The soul foxes were regarded as an island protector. Now that they are extinct, it is inevitable that makes me uneasy.”

Qianqian loved the island so much. She didn’t want to accept her fate of declining. She said determinedly: “All things are depended and determined to the change of us. aren’t they? Dad!”

Ren Wanli felt gratified. He thought of when he was young, he was also ambitious and determined like her. He hoped that she could really fulfilled her promises.  He just nodded and smiled: “It’s awesome to hear that!”

 

With a blink of eye, another winter was about to end, when the first plum flower blossomed on the snow-covered branch. Ren Wanli stood on Huaiyu Peak, overlooking Qianqian practicing the nine swords.  She has learned all the styles and has grasped the essentials. He assumed that it was about time to set her free. Suddenly he saw that she was flying into the pine forest. Ren Wanli wondered why she did that. He jumped down to the nine-sword platform and looked up. He found her in the pine forest, cutting off the ripen fruit of the pine tree with the foxtail sword. The pine cones that she cut off dropping down from the tree. When they were still in the air, she returned the sword and shattered the pine cone. In a moment, all the pine nuts hidden in the cones popped out and scattered. The pine nuts that sprinkled like rain with their opened wings, swiveling down slowly, elegantly. They fell like parasols, landed on the meadow of snow. When the spring came, a baby pine tree would ready to grow. Qianqian floated under the pine forest, hung down the sword, looked up at the sky and descended with a smile. Ren Wanli quietly watched the scene, he was struck by an inexplicable throb. He suddenly decided. It was today to say what he prepared to say. He jumped to the front of Qianqian, said eagerly: “Qianqian, you come with me.”

After saying that, he flew away. Qianqian followed him. The two were landed on the cemetery. Ren Wanli said: “Qianqian, you kneel down to the graves of the ancestors of Songhu Island.”

Qianqian didn’t know what was going on, but she looked collected and composed. She just did what he asked. She knelt in front of the ancestral graves respectfully. Ren Wanli then announced: “The ancestors of Songhu Island receiving, the tenth-generation Island Master of Songhu Island, Ren Zhenyi, bowed to the ancestors.”

Although Qianqian knew that she will inherit the Island, but the moment when she heard Ren Wanli announced that she became the tenth generation Island Master of Songhu Island, she was still shocked and felt incredible. She looked up at him suspiciously as in a dream. But the solemnity and resoluteness of his attitude guaranteed her what he just said was truth and reality. She then bowed three times beautifully to the graves of the ancestors with all her heart.

When Ren Wanli saw her finished bowing, he quickly lifted her up and said deliberately: “Qianqian, you’ve just bowed to the ancestors of Songhu Island. From now on, you are the tenth generation of successor of Songhu Island. You will be taking over everything that I have. From now on, whenever, where ever, to whom ever, you act and talk, you must remember that your identity, you are the successor of the Songhu Island!”

Qianqian became the master of the Songhu Island in a day, her heart was still pounding. She responded faintly: “I know it, dad!”

Although Ren Wanli said so, he knew that it was the most difficult to hold on the tongue. When he was young, he wasn’t act and talk correctly so that some people hated him. He understood the personality of Qainqian. He was afraid that she would made her life more difficult than his. That was why he has to remind her again and again. Today, he has spoken what he needed to said and felt completed. He looked around the nine peaks of Songhu. Suddenly, he changed his tone, severely said: “Qianqian, you have to leave Songhu Island.”

Qianqian thought she didn’t get it right, asked uncertainly: “What?”

Ren Wanli raised his arm and said strictly: “You see that the nine peaks of the Songhu Island has been named. You don’t have your place here, can you see! You have to leave! Do you know? You already have everything of Songhu Island. You are Songhu Island yourself. Why you have to be here? You must go now?”

After he finished he just walked away, Qianqian quickly stood up and chased and shouted: “Don’t go! Please, dad! Where are you going?”

Ren Wanli stopped, turned back answered with a smile: “My responsibility is over, it is time to go to see your mother.”

Qianqian has prepared that once Ren Wanli finished teaching all the martial arts, he would leave her. But she still couldn’t help feeling desolate and wretched. She knelt in front of him, said softly: “Your responsibility is over, you should enjoy your life like a fairy crane.”

Ren Wanli looked at Qianqian, thought of Liu Yiyi, the woman he loved only in his life. He remorsefully said: “I am a martial art master, but I couldn’t hold on to myself. I wronged about your mother. I deluded her of the happiness she deserved. On the day she died, I has determined to follow, and today I am happy to pay for it, you should be happy for me.”

After saying that, he returned to HuaiYufeng, shattered the cold pine bridge to show his determination. After doing that, he flew back to the tomb of Liu Yiyi, pushed to open the door then he just simply walked in. He buried himself in the tomb, when the tomb door closed and locked, he was unable to see anymore.

The snow curtain was falling from sky, presented the end of his extraordinary but regretful life. Qianqian could do nothing but just watching him disappeared. She gazed at the tombstone he prepared long ago for himself. The ninth generation of the Island Master, Ren Wanli and Madam Liu Yiyi.  She recalled that the twenty years of her life with Songhu Island.  All of a sudden everything was gone. How could she go on by herself? She didn’t know. She was just kept kneeling and let the snow totally covered her up.

Advertisements

Songhu Island 6-4

20181204_170108-1

(4) Instructing

Turning to the curve of autumn, the colorful leaves began to fall. They were dancing in the wind, tumbling with the water, leaving the spot light of their stage. Qianqian has been reading every day in Ren Wanli’s study room. She has read many books and discussed with him opened mind. It was an amazing discovery that how much knowledge only to know, but not comprehend for a single life. She found the fun of reading of reading randomly without pressure, that made her happy. Ren Wanli has seen her reading passionately though she changed her interest frequently. He never interrupted but only explained when she asked. Today, he finally concluded: ” Which of these books do you most like?”

Qianqian thought for a moment, answered: “The Book of Songs.”

“Why?” Ren Wanli asked.

Qianqian swayed her head to reply: “The poems are resentful but not wrathful. They are sad but not hurt. They are passionate but not lascivious.”

Ren Wanli nodded with compliment then continued to ask: “What about The Doctrine of Mean?”

“What heaven has granted is called the nature. Following the nature is called the path of goodness. Select the goodness and determined, deliberate and then eloquent.”

“What about The Book of Change?”

“I don’t know.” Qianqian suddenly looked baffled. Ren Wanli seemed understood.  He patiently waited until she explained: “It seems that there are no rules. Everything can be changed. It’s just up to you. Misfortune, adversity, poverty, success, wealth and happiness, nothing is doomed if based on the theory of change…” She didn’t know how to explicate her thought but she sensed that the bitterness in her heart was gradually diluted after reading for months.

She gazed at Ren Wanli of his tranquil expression. She just smiled and stopped talking.

“What about the Analects of Confucius?”

After reading this book, Qianqian finally realized that where the original lines that Teng Kuanrou always reproached. Then she grinned: “The husband is awkward. If you couldn’t ask for it, you just do your own way.”

After saying that, she took a book from the shelf and smirked: “Well, let’s start reading The Grand History by Tai Shigong today, how about it?”

Ren Wanli saw that Qianqian was reading and was remembering, he was happy. But he was afraid that she would be too clever, so he advised: “You can’t be taken out partially of the context, you have to comprehend as a whole.”

When he said that, Qianqian has already opened The Grand History of Tai Shigong and started reading it. She appeared was immediately immersed and overlooked what he said. Ren Wanli just smiled and didn’t mind. He also took a book out the shelf and started reading on his own without bothering her.

 

In the days of reading, time soared. The winter of Songhu Island has quietly descended. The goose feather like snow falling from sky without any sound. The mountains looked more solemn in the purity of total white. Today was the winter solstice, it was also Qianqian’s birthday, as well her mother’s memorial day.  Qianqian woke up in the morning. Once opened her eyes, she immediately flipped the embroidered pillow as other winter solstice. Promisingly, two red eggs were placed under the pillow. When she was a child, she didn’t know why they were there on this special day. Every winter solstice, she woke up and found two crushed red painted eggs under her pillow. The red eggs, were usually made for the one on his birthday, especially for children. But she didn’t realize that it was her birthday, because it was also the day her mother died for giving birth to her. Therefore, nobody wanted to mentioned it. She wasn’t told about that until she was seven. Aunt Mi said she secretly placed the eggs under her pillow just for asking a blessing. After that, she decided not to sleep on the pillow the night before winter solstice. She was afraid to crush the eggs. This year was no exception.

Qianqian held the two red painted eggs on palms, smiled and remembered: “Well! Today is our mother’s memorial day, the sisters will definitely come back for the ceremony.” When she thought that she could see them soon, she was excited and jumped up from bed. She heard Aunt Mi was talking to someone outside the door, she immediately ran out and asked: “Hey, sisters, are they coming back?”

But she only saw Ren Wanli. He looked grave and formal today, standing by the side of Aunt Mi. The two of them were already dressed in pale and neatly combed their hair.  In the arm of Aunt Mi, was carrying a basket of flowers and offerings. Qianqian instantly froze her smile and stood upright. Ren Wanli said faintly: “They will not come back this year.”

Qianqian was disappointed, lowered her head and asked: “Why?”

“I told them not to come back.” He said in a very soft tone.

In the chilly morning of winter, the path was covered with new snow, as well as the tombs that so white looked exactly like steam buns left over. The offerings were placed in front of the tomb of Liu Yiyi, and the incense were also ignited. Aunt Mi put the libation on the stone plate then stood by the side quietly. Ren Wanli turned his face to Qianqian, said: “You go to propose a toast to your mother!”

Qianqian then walked to the front, kneeled, picked up the cup, held it in the air, looked dignified, and whispered: “Mother, this cup is your daughter toast to you.” While speaking, the cup was respectfully pouring on the ground.

Ren Wanli said: “Madam! I brought Qianqian here today for you. She is already seventeen years old. She is the only daughter who has not married yet. She said that she doesn’t want to marry. She only loves to practice martial arts. So I promised to pass the martial arts of Songhu Island to her. Madam, please protect her and bless her with your spirit in heaven, to be a good person. Although she is a daughter, if she inherited the martial arts of Songhu Island, she must not ruin its name by any wrongdoing or misconduct.”

Ren Wanli saw that Qianqian has been studying earnestly for a few months. She was cultivated and improved of her mind and behavior. She didn’t act so resentful as she has just come back.  He took the advantage of today’s his wife memorial day to clarify his expectation to her. The purpose was to restate the responsibility of conveying the martial arts, bearing the duty of the rise and fall of Songhu Island. The higher the martial arts, the greater the responsibility, she must know.

Ren Wanli stepped in front of Qianqian, said sternly: “If you swore in front of your mother’s tomb, you will stay away from evil roads and concentrate on learning the martial arts of Songhu Island. You will act inculpable, never bullying, and never killing innocent. Then from now on, I will pass you all the martial arts of Songhu Island, and will no longer be grumbling.”

Qianqian finally realized that how serious a matter to inherit the martial arts of Songhu Island. If she did not swear, it was difficult to gain the trust from him. She immediately lifted the three fingers and swore: “I, Ren Zhengyi, swear to the heaven, from now on, stay away from evil roads, concentrate on learning the martial arts of Songhu Island, act inculpable, never bullying, and never kill innocent. If there was a violation, I would be… stuffer in the fire and ice forever.”

After listening to her spiteful curse, Ren Wanli immediately stepped ahead to raise her, laughed with relief: “Good!” Then he pulled her arms, lifted her up, flying together to the top of the icy peak.

It was in the middle of winter, the nine peaks were heavily snow covered. Over there, it was unable to separate the cloud, the snow or the fog. Only the icy peaks jabbed their steep cliff with no trace of snow remained.

Ren Wanli took Qianqian up to the peak, danced in the lofty blowing wind. Qianqian was silvering but couldn’t use any internal strength to protect from freezing. She patiently watched Ren Wanli displaying his tricks. He naturally became part of the nature, such as the milky way, the cascading waterfall, the lightening when he showed his martial arts. Qianqian of any instant could froze to an iceberg but she bore it. As Ren Wanli finished the listening of the pine wave thirteen styles in a series, he turned around and said to Qianqian: “You display it again after me.”

Qianqian was cold and frigid, but she couldn’t compliant of it for the swear she has just made. She barely bent her waist and straighten her chest. But she still displayed it again according to what Ren Wanli instructed. In the frosty wind, she couldn’t use internal power, it was almost impossible to move. She was struggling hard.

Suddenly, Ren Wanli was reciting aloud an article: “All things were born from small. A tiny seed could grow to be a hundred feet tree tall. The land is borderless, fertile and fruitful. The gentleman walks, loses first the way, then regain. When something humble itself, it would be big. When there is darkness, it contrasts in it the brightness …”

Qianqian immediately thought of the image of yin and yang in the book of change, knowing that Ren Wanli was reminding her to use the principle of yin, to soften the brake, to follow the path. Qianqian then stopped resisting against the wind, instead she released herself to the nature. However, it was difficult to control without using any internal strength. Nevertheless, Qianqian refused to use any of those. She made up her mind, even died right now, she would not break her promise.

Qianqian finally completed displaying the listening to the pine wave thirteen styles, but was also exhausted all her strength. Her body was like melting ice and fluttering as a piece of snow flake. A blast of wind blew along her, she was instantly carried away in the air. Then, she fell from the peak. Ren Wanli immediately flew to pick her up, and brought her back to the cemetery. The cemetery was over casted, and fresh snow was falling. Qianqian has just landed and kneeled in front of Ren Wanli, said softly: “Dad! Please forgive me, your unfilial daughter.”

Ren Wanli smiled and said: “For what you said that?”

Qianqian looked up at Ren Wanli, tearfully said: “Today I finally realized that the painstaking effort that you have of guarding Songhu Island, as well as my mother.”

Ren Wanli listened, thought for a moment, then raised Qianqian with both hands, said: “I was willing to do so.”

The entanglement between she and Ren Wanli for years was unraveled eventually. She felt relieved and coherent, said: “Dad! you must live a long life to compensate the time we have lost.”

Ren Wanli gazed at Qianqian, recalling the eighteen years of husband and wife with Liu Yiyi. It was sometimes like wine, sometimes like water. Even he was never doubt whether Liu Yiyi had ever loved Ren Wanli? But he has to admit that whatever how much he loved her, she still had someone else in her heart. He didn’t know if it was destined. Liu Yiyi gave birth to this daughter before she died to testify his integrity. And seventeen years later of today, because of this daughter, the shackle that has been locked for thirty years was resolved. Ren Wanli held his tears, wordlessly looked at Qianqian, just nodded and smiled.

 

The spring of Songhu Island was the most beautiful season in a year. When the plum flower petals were dancing in the air, the waterfall of Luomei hang from the cliff of melting ice elicited. On the terraced fields of the hillside, a few farmers were busily seeding the rice.

Qianqian and Ren Wanli sat under an old plum tree, enjoying the blossom and drinking wine. They appreciated the picturesque scenery of Songhu with full heart. Ren Wanli smiled and said: “Before we had more people in Songhu Island. At the busy spring time, over hundred of people working on this hillside terraced field. The terraces were piled with crops, layers by layers of green grain waved in the breeze. It was so gorgeous.”

However, since Liu Yiyi was gone, the area of ​​the terraced fields has been shrinking year by year. After all the eight sisters were married, Ren Wanli dismissed the remaining workers and farmers. Therefore, Qianqian has never seen the layers and layers green grain waved in the breeze. She was trying to imagine how it looked now. Ren Wanli continued: “Your mother was brought up by a rich merchant family, but she loved to labor. I remembered that one year in the spring, suddenly all the farmers were sick, the whole family had to work on the field. Your mother seemed feeble, but when she worked in the field, she was very diligent. On the contrary, I am a seven-feet man, as well a martial arts master, looked so clumsy standing in the field, holding the seedlings cluelessly. Your mother and your sisters teased me, they thought I didn’t hear.”

He stopped right here, Qianqian of course wanted to know more: “What did they say?”

Ren Wanli looked a bit embarrassed when he answered: “Your third sister Xihua said I am a useless big foot of number eight!”

Qianqian smiled only, she didn’t dare to laugh.  Ren Wanli instead of feeling humiliated, he continued the story with pleasure: “Well, for saving my face, I invented the plum pile seeding method.”

Qianqian winked, asked earnestly: “What is the plum piles seeding method?”

Ren Wanli stood up, took Qianqian’s hand, walked to a piece of paddy rice field. Ren Wanli picked up a huddle of rice seedlings, divided into two, clung one in left hand and one in right. Then he leaped and jumped to the air, lay himself across the paddy field. While he was rolling his body, he scattered the seedlings on the paddy field. They were arranged in a row with the same depth into soil. When Ren Wanli landed, he smiled and said: Qianqian, you can also do one roll!”

Qianqian was eager to try. She immediately picked up two bunches of seedlings, started in the position as him. However, when rice seedlings were placed, they were in the shape of plum flower. She landed and said: “I think this is the genuine plum pile seeding method!”

Ren Wanli frowned, said gravely: “Well! This looked beautifully, but it was totally wrong. If you mother was here, she must…” Before he finished, someone working on the other paddy field shouted to them: “Please! you two, if were not here to help, just don’t mess it up!” It was Aunt Mi.

Qianqian tongued out and Ren Wanli laughed. Then they walked back to the plum forest delightful. Ren Wanli was still indulging in those beautiful memories. The corner of his mouth was solidified with a happy smile: “Your mother was actually quite serious person. She said I was cheating. She said that if you didn’t plant the seedlings handful by handful, the rice won’t be sweet and tasty.”

While talking, the two were sitting under the old plum tree again. Qianqian poured two cups of warmed wine. One cup was handed over him, said fondly: “The wine is warm, drink it before it gets cold, dad!”

Ren Wanli took the cup, the corner of his mouth still hanging the smile that he didn’t want to put down. Being with him like that, Qianqian was overwhelming emotionally. These days, he talked a lot about her mother. More she knew about their relationship and his personality, the more she was worried about him. Seeing that he has been immersed in the memories recently, she was so afraid.

Ren Wanli drank the cup, said formally: “The hidden weapon of Songhu Island is mainly used by natural things. Flowers, leaves, stones and even rice seedlings can be used.”

Qianqian collected herself, listened carefully when she knew that he was giving a lesson of hidden weapon. He asked: “What do you say the most we have in Songhu Island?”

Qianqian looked around the mountains, were pine trees mostly, so she replied: “Pine trees.”

Ren Wanli smiled and nodded: “Yes, the scatter of pine needle of Songhu Island has long been famous in the rivers and lakes, but what if there were no pine trees?”

Qianqian surprised that he was making fun of Songhu Island. He seemed really relaxed today. She smiled heartily, and Ren Wanli answered by himself: “After all, the pine needles are slender, hard and with the sharp tip. They are indeed the best natural material used for hidden weapon. However, you have to remember, never use hidden weapon in the dark, hurt people from their back.”

After saying that, he leaped and thrust into a pine tree. When he came out, he raised his hand shoot an old plum tree. Instantly there were dropped many plum blossoms with a pine needle stuck in the middle. But the plum blossoms were intact, none of them were broken. Qianqian stood up and shouted: “Amazing!”

After Ren Wanli landed, he said: “The plum petals are delicate and soft. Although the pine needles are slender, hit on the petals without breaking them, you need to be fast and gentle. That takes a lot of soft internal strength.”

Qianqian were practicing martial arts on the frozen mountain ridges for the whole winter. She has accumulated the soft internal strength what Ren Wanli talked about now.  The internal strength naturally developed was called soft internal strength, which was different from the hard one that used for competition, as the soft one was used for self-cultivation. The internal strength of Songhu Island was mainly soft, although it was not that powerful, but it was an indispensable inner potential for the natural and elegant work of Songhu Island.

Qianqian fully understood now about the hardship she bore was so necessary if she really wanted to inherit the martial arts of Songhu island. She also noticed that more Ren Wanli passed her over the martial arts, less he cared about it for himself. She felt that he was letting go a lot of things inside him. He sometimes even confused and forgot.

Ren Wanli suddenly picked up a petal of a plum flower from the ground, surprisingly said: “Oh! This one is broken!”

Qianqian immediately came over to see. She didn’t know what to say. She couldn’t find a word to comfort him instead of just looking at his disappointment and exclamation.

Ren Wanli mocked himself: “See! Whatever how much you care the flowers, they won’t stop falling and breaking. They didn’t know you love them.”

At this moment, Qianqian couldn’t hold on any longer and blurt out: “She knows!”

Ren Wanli looked at her mystified as if he didn’t hear. When Qianqian subsided and she assured it: “Dad! Mother knows you love her, and she loves you too, only.”

Ren Wanli didn’t expect these kinds of conversation with his daughter, he swayed her sleeve, laughed, then said solemnly: “I’ve never doubt about it.”

In the moment of silence, Qianqian suddenly grabbed a bundle of pine needle shot to a plum tree.  Something heavy dropped from it right away, and turned out to be a man. Qianqian immediately asked: “Who are you? What are you doing hiding up there?”

The man’s heel was stabbed by a few pine needles. He quickly kneeled and begged: “Miss Ren, forgive me!”

Qianqian was angry, grilled: “Why are you doing this? What do you want from us?” While she was questioning, she intended to shoot him more pine needles. But Ren Wanli stopped her, said: “Don’t be rude.”

Qianqian immediately held back and stood aside. Ren Wanli then walked slowly to the man and carefully looked at him. When he saw him dressed like a peasant, he was quite sure. He recognized that he was the farmer who employed by Songhu Island before. He smiled: “Songhu Island is not forbidden palace, anyone can come and go. But I am old now, if he wanted to see me, he has to come soon!”

The man heard that what Ren Wanli said, he was horrified and ashamed. He crouched on the ground, burst into tears, said: “Is the island master, my lord! It was me ignorant. I actually made such dirty deal to sell my lord! Damn it, I am not forgiven…”

When he said that he raised his hand to slap himself. Ren Wanli kept smiling kindly: “You go back and tell the person who sent you today. He has been monitoring Songhu Island for 20 years. Why doesn’t he come by himself?”

After saying that, he just turned around and left the man. Qianqian followed tightly, asked anxiously: “Is there anyone monitoring Songhu Island for 20 years?” She at once thought of a person, said fearfully: “Is that the old thief Miaoyin?”

Songhu Island 6-3

20181202_201251-1

(3) Reading

The next morning, when Qianqian was going to Ren Wanli’s study room, she stopped by the door and looked back at the room as if something she forgot, muttered: “In fact, I have never learned any sword of Songhu Island. That means, no matter how I made my move, it is impossible not to be other than the Songhu Island. So, even if I went a hundred days, a thousand days, I will be returned?” Then she smirked and said: “Isn’t it simple? Why had I never thought of it? Really stupid!”

She shook her head and laughed, threw the sword back to the silver hook by the bed, turned around and went out the room briskly.

When Ren Wanli saw that she came today with nothing, he couldn’t help but smiled, said: “You finally figured it out.”

Qianqian deliberately asked: “What do I figure out?”

Ren Wanli nodded: “If you want to forget the sword, you must first put it down. You must not subject to things, and then you can make things.”

After listening to his explanation, she learned and understood, said: “That is why you confined me of forgetting the swordsmanship.”

Ren Wanli knew that Qianqian has learned some magnificent swordsmanship, and she did not leave the sword a second until she enslaved herself to it. With this kind of mentality, she will never learn the swordsmanship of Songhu Island. Therefore, he used some tricks to let her voluntarily put down the sword.

Ren Wanli was satisfied now looking at her, said: “Since there is no sword today, we will do fists.”

Knowing that today finally have something to learn, Qianqian blinked and listened carefully. Ren Wanli asked: “How many tricks do you know about the thirteen styles?”

Qianqian replied: “Two tricks.”

Ren Wanli slightly nodded and said: “Let’s try it to me!”

Qianqian instantly sat on her waist, first used the moon shone in the pine forest. She drew a circle on chest, and then lift her palms of sweeping dust. After she finished the moon shone, she continued the other trick of dead pine leaned against the cliff. She threw her body backward, while her left foot landed, her right foot swept across the air created a whirlpool of wind.

Two tricks were just displayed, suddenly a long sleeve danced in front of her, spurred palms have shrouded her body. Qianqian hastily picked up the moon shone, but Ren Wanli was dancing his sleeves like a flying dragon. Qianqian has not even finished one trick, and was forced to retreat. In a hurry, she pushed her whole body with full power to perform the second trick. It was so powerful that almost slam the chest of Ren Wanli. She was shocked, but too late to draw back. Fortunately, Ren Wanli was not a pushover, as well the thirteen styles was his own designed martial art. Isn’t it ridiculous that if he missed it? Ren Wanli was too confident that he didn’t even receive it. He just gently lifted his long sleeve, let her palms hit on it with full strength.  He looked at his long sleeve fluttered in the air, as if a flag blowing in storm. He watched silently until its momentum has settled and his sleeve was shredded.

Qianqian looked at Ren Wanli dreadfully when he stared at her without a word. As soon as she retreated her palms, he asked: “In addition to Miaoyin Tianjun, who else you have learned the internal strength?”

Qianqian hurriedly shook her head, said: “No, who else?”

Ren Wanli sneered: “No one taught you, is it created by itself?”

It sounded like he was saying that she lied. Qianqian felt wronged, but she didn’t even know how to explain. Looking at the discredit of Ren Wanli, she fell her knees to the ground and swore: “In addition to the Miaoyin Tianjun, I only learned the swordsmanship with Lv Jiannan and Teng Kuanrou. I also saw the murals swordsmanship in the sword returning cave, but did not practiced it. Have I learned other internal strength? I really don’t know. ”

Speaking of that, her eyes were tearful. She looked up at him and said: “Why do you always think that I am lying?”

Although Ren Wanli did not know who is Teng Kuanrou and what is the mural swordsmanship, he believed she should have no more hiding. He looked at her innocent face, said: “I didn’t say you are lying.”

But whether if she deliberately rivalled against him. She just kept kneeling intentionally.

Ren Wanli said feebly: “Well, do what you like!” Seeing that she wasn’t moving at all, he continued: “Your mind is not pure, you can’t practice the martial arts of Songhu Island. Today, you go back!”

Qianqian glanced at him, felt dishearten, thought: Since I left the cave, this strange force was bothering me. That was true. Later I practiced the internal works of Miaoyin Tianjun then it slowed down. But now I didn’t practice it anymore, it came back again. But if I told him this, will he believe me.

Ren Wanli didn’t want to tangle with her anymore. He said: “You come again tomorrow!” When he finished, saw that there was no response from her. He gently shook his head and walked back to his study room. He entered the room, saw that she was still kneeling there.  He simply dropped the bamboo blind down to totally ignore her.

Qianqian stood up, looked at the bamboo blind, said: “Even the monkeys in Songhu Island didn’t recognize me anymore. I am not surprised that you don’t know me!”

After saying that she shrugged her shoulders: “Tomorrow? There is always tomorrow after tomorrow. ”

Tomorrow morning, Qianqian did what Ren Wanli said, came again to the front of his study room, but he was not there. She was perplexed; however, she saw the door of his study room was left opened. She supposed that she should walk in by herself. Once she stepped in the room, she saw him sitting behind the bamboo fence, looking at her and said: “You come in here.”

Inadvertently, listened to what he said, Qianqian was surprised, murmured: “Didn’t I get it wrong! He never let me go inside.”

Since she hasn’t moved a step yet, Ren Wanli said again clearly: “I told you to come over here, didn’t you hear me?”

Qianqian then walked out to the patio, turned about the bamboo fence, finally she saw the interior of his study room. Under the window facing to the courtyard, was planted various delicate flowers such as lilacs, orchid and azalea. Qianqian stopped and looked at them. She said: “This place wasn’t so mysterious as I thought. It grew general flowers as outside!”

Ren Wanli impatiently said again: “How could you take a long time to just come in here.”

Qianqian viewed his silhouette from a distance. He was sitting in front a pinewood table, bowed his head slightly as usual like reading. Qianqian stepped inside prudently, spotted the imposing shelves at three sides of wall. For the first time she could be closed enough to see the dead insects, spider nets, and smelled the odor from the musty paper of his books. She whispered: “These books should be brought out to have a sunbathe as well as him!

Ren Wanli turned his face to her, when she was still watching around with earnestness and curiosity. He did not know what she was thinking about, just said: “You are so good at the sword, I really can’t teach you anymore martial arts.”

Qianqian did not answer, just muttered: What a beautiful excuse? She was disheartened but still reposed. She dignified herself before asked: “Is it? Then why did you call me in here today?”

“Reading.” Ren Wanli smiled.

Qianqian knew that he must has some trick to show, said: “So, what book am I going to read?”

Ren Wanli looked at the books on his bookshelves, said proudly: “I have so many books here, from history to medicine, from music and poetry, what do you like to read?”

Since Qianqian has learned to read, she only read a couple of books that were for children to recognize the basic literacy. The elder sisters have studied the four books, but they have already married. Ren Wanli has never taught her to recognize a word. Qianqian thought: For what he suddenly wanted me to read a book today? Looking at the sea of ​​books, she nodded: “There are so many books here. I am afraid I can never finish it.”

Ren Wanli also nodded and smiled: “Yes, knowledge is boundless compared to human life. But there is always somewhere to begin for everything.” Then, he picked up the book that he was reading before Qianqian came in, said: “So start with this book in my hand!”

While he was saying, the book was gently thrown atop his palm. He turned a few laps in the air, then pushed forward. It fell on the table right in front of Qianqian, opened the page that he wanted her to read.

Qianqian was stunned seeing him throwing, pushing and opening the book swiftly without effort. She exclaimed: “Wow! It was amazing to open a book like that. It seemed that it is easy, but it can’t be done without a great skill and deep internal strength.” For more than ten years, Ren Wanli has been hiding himself with these stinky books. Surprisingly his internal strength has not decreased but increased. Isn’t it because he was reading a lot?” Qianqian wondered.

She immediately raised interest to the book in front of her. She seriously examined the book. This book was a thin book of about dozens of pages, butterfly-packed and was printed by Kaifeng Kaibaozhai with high-quality rice paper. It was very beautiful made and looked intelligent. It has been hidden in this study room for more than a decade but the rice papers are still white as snow. Then she sat down to touch the paper. She saw two sentences on the page as if she has seen it before. She read it out: “If you were only thinking but not learning, you would be in dangerous. If you were only learning but not thinking, you would be puzzled.”

After she read it out, Ren Wanli winked and said: “You’ve just read the two sentences you should read the most of the whole book.”

Qianqian remembered where these sentences were heard. Teng Kuanrou mentioned that when he taught her his sunrise swordsmanship by the Lake Dongting. She thought: How these books made Teng Kuanrou so pedantic? But Ren Wanli so unbolted?

Ren Wanli smiled with compliment: “Yes, thinking but not learning is absurd. From today, if you could study hard, no matter what book you read, you can be subtly changed. Once you built up your integrity, it will help your martial arts training.” While he was talking, he turned around, randomly picked a book from the bookshelf, opened it and started reading. From there he has nothing else to say.

Qianqian was pondering what he has said about the relationship between reading and martial arts. She deeply agreed, then immediately she changed her attitude to the book. She started from the first page, read carefully sentence by sentence. Thus, the two of them, holding their own book, totally intoxicated within it. At noon, the lunch was brought to the table by Aunt Mi. They stopped reading, started eating and then continued reading again until the sun setting in the west. Qianqian finished the whole book, even she wasn’t sure she understood it. She was exhausted and fell asleep on the table carelessly.

Ren Wanli saw that she was reading all day quietly. He was very pleased. He caressed his whisker and said: “Martial Arts is egotistic, only reading is modest.”

Seeing that she was slumbering, he didn’t want to wake her up. He only gently placed his cloak over her shoulders. The father and the daughter rarely have such a harmonious relationship for years. When Ren Wanli was looking at the moon rising from the east side window. He sighed of relief.

Songhu Island 6-2

20181130_165542-1

(2) Temptation

In the night of a foggy moon, Ren Wanli rose with the wind, came to the first peak of Songhu Island. Under the peak was the family cemetery. The ancestors of Songhu Island were all buried here with their wives. Since the first generation of the Island Master passed away, each peak of the Songhu Island was named after them.  Until Ren Wanli, nine peaks have been fully named.

Ren Wanli was the only child of his father from the ninth generation, but he only loved Liu Yiyi in his life. He did not marry again after she died. Although there were nine daughters, none of them inherited the martial arts of Songhu Island. Tonight, he stood in front of the tombs of his ancestors, looked around at the Songhu nine peaks and sighed: “The name of nine peaks has been specified. Does that mean the life span of Songhu Island was also destined?”

Ren Wanli counted each tomb of his ancestors until the tomb of Liu Yiyi, he stopped. The tomb door was not sealed yet, but the tombstone was already engraved his name along with his beloved wife Liu Yiyi. Ren Wanli caressed the tomb door and whispered: “Madam, since you went, I stayed in this world, only for fulfilling my responsibility, raising our nine daughters. The eighth sister, Xihui, has married last year, to Jiangxi Evergreen Manor. She reported last month of her first pregnancy. Next year we will be added another grandchild…” Hence, his face suddenly changed, and exhaled: “But, the ninth sister is breaking my heart, madam, could you teach me how to deal with her?”

Ren Wanli was grasping the tombstone with his palm, abruptly he heard a sound of slap, he quickly held back but the corner of the tombstone has been crashed. Ren Wanli stepped backwards, stared at the tomb door, exclaimed: “Madam! Qianqian said that she has seen your ghost when she was a child. Was it true? You really came back, you came back to tell me that this daughter was your punishment to me, wasn’t it?”

After Liu Yiyi came back from Baiyun Temple, she was depressed all the time. After a month, Ren Wanli was cheerful after diagnosed her pulse and found that she was pregnant again. Although he carefully explored her pulse and discovered that she had actually two months pregnant. And two months ago, she was still in the Baiyun Temple. However, Ren Wanli grabbed Liu Yiyi’s hand and smiled and said: “Well, madam, strange, you have been pregnant for two months, was it really the Buddha promised our wish for your sincerity. When you were praying at the Baiyun Temple, you have already given a child!”

Ren Wanli had no doubt about his wife’s fidelity. He would rather believe that it was the Buddha’s manifestation. Hence, he was convinced that his wife was given a boy. He stayed up all night, looking up a name for his first boy. He decided to name his first boy Qianli, meant a thousand miles. He wished that he would inherit the ancestral career and as well enjoy a life of his own. Seven months later, the child was born and was in fact a girl. Ren Wanli finally realized that the Buddha had not actually given anything.  He was disappointed with anguish.

Liu Yiyi lost a lot of blood after giving birth to her child. Extended to the midnight, she was finally dying. By the side of her bed, eight daughters were surrounded. From the eldest daughter Xiyang to the eighth daughter Xihui, all were crying, in addition of the new born Qianqian in the arms of her nursery, Ren Wanli held the hand of his wife, felt tangled and remorseful. The couple gazed at each other, but none a single word to speak until Liu Yiyi swallowed her last breath to tell her last words: “Wanli!”

Ren Wanli attached his ear onto her lips, and she said: “It was all my fault. If you hated please only hated me! But, never hated my daughter!” After saying that, her hand was slipped from his palm.

Seventeen years have passed, the last words of his wife have always been accusing his daily conscience.  Ren Wanli talked to Yiyi, said: “I can’t just let her going on like that, if one day she lost herself to the evil and could I say that she has nothing to do with me?” Suddenly, on Huaiyu peak, a long sword spurred like lightning, galloped in the faded moonlight. Ren Wanli raised his head and watched. He was instantly indulging in the blade of hers, blurted out reflexively: “Excellent swordsmanship!”

He thought: She has no experience at all of swordsmanship. But in just a year, she could manage such subtle skills. If she had no extraordinary talent, I am afraid it was difficult to do so. Her enthusiasm for martial arts is particularly persistent.  Even if I didn’t teach her martial arts, there were many people who would willing to teach her in the future…

When he was thinking of it, he saw Qianqian abruptly stopped and dropped her sword. She looked exhausted and sick while she sat down and meditated.

Ren Wanli said to himself: “This daughter is ridiculous and mindless. If she was unfortunately dropped into the evil way, she would be the great mischief for the martial art world!” After saying it, he lifted and flew to the pine forest. He stepped on the top of Huaiyu Peak and then stopped in front of Qianqian. Seeing that was him, she immediately quitted meditating and said icily: “You are so bleak. You can’t just appear anywhere anytime you wish!”

Ren Wanli blinked and thought: This daughter talked to me like that? Did she still regard me as a father? Watching her eyes were twinkling with resistance, he asked: “Are you still practicing the internal works of Miaoyin Tianjun?”

Qianqian knew that she couldn’t hide from him, answered frankly: “Yes! I have nothing now. I can’t lose even martial arts.”

Ren Wanli shook his head and said: “You are not afraid of death?”

Qianqian sneered: “What is the good to live? What is the bad to die?”

Ren Wanli listened to what she stated, he desperately looked up to the stars and moon and whistling for a long while, said after his echo settled down: “You are such a young age, how do you actually understand what is life?”

Qianqian was not snapped by his majesty, she stood up and confidently said: “The heart is made by fresh and blood, was it different of being young or old? When it was despairing, and hurt, was it different between you and me?”

Ren Wanli saw the burning fire in her eyes. If it was not extinguished in time, he was afraid that she would set fire to burn everything. He said prudently with kindness: “You have abandoned yourself like this. Have you ever thought about your mother?”

Qianqian heard that he mentioned about her mother, she looked up at him reluctantly. When she met with his cherishing eyes, she surged into tears.

Reminded what Liu Yiyi begged him before she died, Ren Wanli said: “I thought I have never hated you. But it was actually if I didn’t love you, I still buried the seed of hatred in your heart.”

When he said that, he found a great pity to this daughter for the first time. He felt discharged in his mind, continued: “Your mother has entrusted you to me. I must not disregard you. You don’t have to admit that I am your father, but you will always be sure that you are my Ren Wanli’s daughter.”

Qianqian stared at Ren Wanli while he was releasing all his thought. She has already burbled with tears, and when the last sentence was heard, she fell herself onto his chest and cried.

Ren Wanli was shocked to see her crying on his chest. He didn’t know what to do. He has nine daughters, but he was always solemn in front them. A strict father looked like he has never had a daughter cried in his arms. He raised his arms but fixed in the air. He didn’t know if he should pat her back but he only felt that his heart was stirring.

When Qianqian gradually retreated from crying, he unexpectedly said: “Qianqian, I will pass on the martial arts of Songhu Island to you.”

As soon as his words was unleashed, he took two steps back from his position and looked at Qianqian seriously when she was still tangled. She dared not to believe: “What do you say?”

Ren Wanli sank his face and said gravely: “I only said once, if you didn’t hear it…”

Qianqian did not lose her mind. She looked at Ren Wanli earnestly with her knees down right away and said: “I… I…” took a deep breath before continued firmly: “You said that you will pass the martial arts of Songhu Island to me, right?”

Ren Wanli saw that she redeemed so fast, he slightly bowed his head and thought: this daughter is not stupid, but just stubborn. In the future, she will be successful and probably won’t be less than me. But this wild horse needed to be tamed in order to achieve as a great material arts master. He then reaffirmed: “Yes, but you have to promise me three conditions.”

Qianqian only thought of a moment, then responded briskly: “Well! You say!”

Ren Wanli slightly sneered as she promised so fast, said: “First, you must stop practicing all the martial arts other than from Songhu Island.”

Qianqian immediately approved: “All right, I promise you.” For the first condition she can promise without arguing, Ren Wanli was not surprised, then continued: “Second, you have to forget all the martial arts other than from Songhu island, that you have learned, including swordsmanship and internal works.”

“Forget?” Qianqian was uncertain. It is easy that not to practice, but to forget, it is not something that I can control.

When Ren Wanli saw that she did not respond for a moment, he immediately said: “If you didn’t agree, you don’t have to know the third condition.”

Qianqian of all her life was yearning to learn the martial arts of Songhu Island, would she give up for now? Regardless the difficulty of the condition, she promised without any more hesitation: “Good! I promise.”

Ren Wanli slightly pulled his corner of mouth, said: “You remember that you promised today, you must do it.”

Qianqian firmly nodded: “Of course.” Then she couldn’t wait to ask: “What is the third condition?”

Ren Wanli looked around the nine peaks, slowly said: “The martial arts of the Songhu Island is pure and real. The person who practice it must be determined, single-minded, and also good hearted. You can’t have a trace of impurity. Do you know?”

Qianqian sincerely said: “I know.”

Ren Wanli then said: “The third condition is that after you have learned the martial arts of Songhu Island, you can’t use it to bully people.”

Qianqian thought that he must has seen that she humiliated Nangong Murong, that is why he assumed that I was innate to bully. She sighed and looked up at him, replied righteously: “I promise you.”

Ren Wanli saw that she promised all three conditions, he felt comforted and settled. Although what he did today was contrary to the rules set by ancestors. However, if I really have no children to inherit, is that all right to let the martial arts of Songhu Island lost with me? Although Qianqian is not my blood, as long as she could continue the vein of Songhu Island, why does she have to be bond? I am worthy of respect from my ancestors, and worthy of respect from my wife, and myself!

When his mind was finally made, he laughed and raised Qianqian from her knees, said: “Tomorrow will start, are you ready?”

Qianqian poised and smiled: “I have been preparing for it more than ten years.”

Ren Wanli happily whistled, and then flew away.

 

The next morning, Qianqian went to Ren Wanli’s study room as he said. When she passed the cold pine bridge which floated above the sea of clouds luminous from the rising sun, Qianqian of a moment wanted to display the clouds jump. She leaped and flew and tumbled before she landed. She did not expect that Ren Wanli has already stood right there in front of his study room.  She immediately flipped back to avoid crashing on him.

When Ren Wanli saw that Qianqian was naughty as a child, he smiled. But he kept his cold face, said: “The sword is also brought, then stab it to me!”

Qianqian didn’t expect that he wanted to try her sword in the first place. Among all kinds of martial arts, she loved sword the most, so she was happy to pull it out. However, once the sword was pulled, she was stopped by Ren Wanli. He flapped a bamboo stick from behind and poked, then simply said: “Okay, today is done, you can go back!”

Qianqian was shocked, seeing that he has already turned around and walked back to his study room, she hastily shouted: “Why? We’ve not yet started?”

Ren Wanli looked back and answered gently: “What swordsmanship did you’ve just picked up? Is it the martial arts of Songhu Island, don’t you distinguish?”

Qianqian then remembered that she has promised to forget all the martial arts other than the Songhu Island. But the move was naturally revealed. She hasn’t decided which trick to use, and has already been seen through. Although she was reluctantly to go but she couldn’t argue about that. When Ren Wanli saw that she has nothing else to say, he returned to his study room, closed the door, sat down and read his book. Qianqian was stood up outside his door for a long time, he ignored to see it.

The next day, Qianqian came to his study room in the early morning again. Ren Wanli was standing there as yesterday.  Qianqian carefully pulled out the sword. However, no matter how careful, once her sword was moved, her mind moved, and then her hand was struck by his bamboo stick. He said emotionlessly: “Go back! Come tomorrow again!”

Qianqian of course came again tomorrow, and came again tomorrow. After many of tomorrow, Ren Wanli basically felt that it’s wrong, he just flapped his bamboo stick, struck her hand, then turned around and walked away. After more than 20 tomorrow, Qianqian has not ever finished a single trick, but was struck by his bamboo stick only.

This day was no exception, the sword was pulled, her hand was slightly hit. Qianqian retreated the sword, looked at his back walking away indifferently, she unbearably irritated, yelled: “Is that true? You really wanted to teach me martial arts? It has been more than 20 days, you have just hit my hand!” however, Ren Wanli didn’t look back at her whatever she said.

When she returned to her room, she shouted: “Hey, I am so hungry!” Seeing that she came back faster than yesterday, Aunt Mi knew that she has been rejected again by the Island Master. She immediately took out breakfast and smiled: “Come on! Eat first!”  Qianqian saw that she placed a table of delicious dishes and instantly turned happy. She just sat down, picked up the chopstick, eating desperately until her mouth too full to close. She laughed: “Afterall, you are the most spoiling me.”

Aunt Mi smiled helplessly: “I think I have too much spoiling you.”

Qianqian grinned: “How can it be too much? The more is the better!” Said while her mouth was stuffed with food. Finally, she felt satisfied by filling up her stomach and relieved. Aunt Mi said: “Look at you! Eating so much every day. I am afraid when the Island Master one day really teach you martial arts, you will be too fat to lift your legs!”

Qianqian immediately put down the chopstick and said: “Don’t scare me!” Then, she turned her head, looked outside of the window. Noticed that the maple trees on both sides of the valley had changed color, she was no longer angry. She wiped her mouth and stood up, said: “I am going to catch the monkeys today!” Her words were not finished, herself has already been thrown outside the window. Aunt Mi looked down the valley, has no longer seen her shadow, she laughed: “Catch the monkey? Are you not a monkey!”

This month, Qianqian did not practice any martial arts, did not practice sword either. Today, she walked with bare hands among the green peaks of Songhu Island. She remembered the time when she was a child, she had no dust in chest. She jumped between the canyons and cliffs, screaming and yelling, playing with monkeys and squirrels, she couldn’t help but smiled.  But now she has grown up, facing the same landscape, but feeling that she has a heavy burden under feet. She pondered: Should I have never left Songhu Island… how could I get back to the beginning?

Slowly walking alone on the mountain trail where the green wood stood by both sides, dotted with shades of yellow leaves. Qianqian looked up the blue sky, steep mountains and falling waters. The early yellow leaves told her that the landscape will soon put on a new color. When the Songhu Island was covered with snow, there will be no trace of picturesque scenery of autumn any more. Qianqian thought, muttered: “But what happened to people, it seemed to be never forgotten. The marks that have been made, how can I erase it?”

Suddenly, a burst of hustling interrupted her thought. When she looked up, there were dozens of monkeys on the other side of cliff. Long-armed golden hair, small head, big eyes, noisy. They were jumping up and down, high and low, climbing on the steep cliffs unscrupulously. Qianqian was excited and shouted: “Good monkey grandsons, let me teach you the manner of the monkey king!” After that, she jumped over the cliff, as soon as she reached the other side, she grabbed the tail of a little monkey grandson. The little monkey grandson wailed and scratched her neck with his long arms. Qianqian swayed to avoid, thought: It’s strange. They used to cling on me when I was a child. How come now… while thinking, her hand that grabbed the tail was loosen, and her neck was caught by something else. Her whole body was thrown and swung downside of the cliff. The cliff was straight and steep with no foothold. Qianqian caught a green vine and slid down in an instant. At the moment she was hung in the air that away from the path, she was frightened. A giant old monkey stretched his long arm to her suddenly. His golden hair was curled, and eyes were as big as a rice bowl. It turned out that was the real monkey king. He was hanging himself with two fingers inserted the cracks of cliff on his one arm, shaking without falling. Qianqian saw a scar on his chest, then remembered that when she was child, she and her sisters had saved a monkey was hurt by a falcon. She cried: “Well! How can you be spiteful? Have you forgotten that I have saved you?”

The monkey king seemed never mind, he just squealed and grabbed a vine and swung away. At the same time, all the monkeys in the canyon were scattered. Qianqian was left alone hanging on a vine. Only the running river in the abyss was heard.

Qianqian sighed: “He seemed really forget everything. If I could do this too, then I will be fine.” Carelessly, Qianqian perceived something on her neck. She was really scared to find a black fluffy poisonous spider crawling on her shoulder. She did not dare to move at all. It was intolerable of such an itchiness. She was reminded the seven layers of bliss when she was poisoned, how Yueqiao stopped her from scratching. The kind of suffering that I endured was 100 times more than this. How did I endure it? And why can’t I endure it now? Why don’t you remember what you need to remember? but don’t forget the things you need to forget. Qianqian gradually understood: “The most bitter thing in life is that you have lost your ability to control. If you are involuntarily, you are dead.”

Qianqian simply closed her eyes and tried to forget this black spider now, and also the vine she was holding on. She imagined: I am now lying on the pasture where the wild flowers bloom. The sky is full of floating white clouds and I am drifted with the wind. I forget that I am in danger. I don’t know how long it take but when I opened my eyes again, I will feel that my heart is clear as a mirror, and there is no dust in my chest.

Hence, she opened her eyes, and the black spider was really gone, as if it was just a thought, not reality ever. It disappeared when the thought passed. She quickly swung the vine and flew over the canyon, hit a few somersaults in the air, and back to the path. At that time, the red sun has already fallen behind the mountains, and the west wind was called by the passing geese.

Songhu Island 6-1

20181127_160455-1

Chapter 6: Songhu Island

(1) Marriage (2) Temptation (3) Studying (4) Instructing (5) Nine Swords (6) succeeded (7) Qingcheng

(1) Marriage

Qianqian fainted and slept for three days. When she woke up, she found herself in her own room surrounded with ethereal smoke of medicine. Aunt Mi was sitting by the bed, holding a tea bowl, smiled and said: “Qianqian, take the medicine.”

Qianqian sat up faintly, watched the tea as black as ink, frowned and asked: “What kind of medicine is this?”

Aunt Mi comforted her and said: “Don’t be afraid, it is just a tonic.”

Qianqian heard that it was tonic, hastily asked: “But why? Should I take tonic? Am I?”

“Are you what?” Aunt Mi asked while looking at her so flustered. With a bit of reproachful tone, she said: “What the hell were you doing in the outside? The Island Master was so worried about you after he had diagnosed your pulse…”

Suddenly Qianqian felt so scared and refused: “I don’t want to take this medicine.” She thought that she was pregnant as the way her mother did. Ren Wanli would not keep her child in order to maintain the good name of family. The medication must not be just a tonic. She was so sad that when she believed in the moment Ren Wanli must not her father because he was so cruel to her. Then she grabbed Aunt Mi’s hand and cried: “Oh, you lied to me, did you?”

Looked at Qianqian acted so nonsense, Aunt Mi was very worried, asked: “What did I lie to you?”

Qianqian must clarify it today. She asked seriously: “Do you know that there is a person named Duan Yelang?”

Aunt Mi Heard that she suddenly asked about this person, her hands were shaken, the medicine splashed onto the bed. She put down the tea medicine first, and exclaimed: “Has this person finally come?”

After Liu Yiyi gave birth to Qianqian, she hemorrhaged. Although Ren Wanli was well-versed in medical practice, he has exhausted all kinds of method to save her but it didn’t work. Liu Yiyi knew that her life was not lasting. When she noticed that Wanli’s attitude toward her new born was uncaring, she was afraid that once she died, her child would be dejected. Therefore, she wanted to return her to Yelang. In the night before she passed away, she secretly wrote a letter and begged Aunt Mi bring it to Master Zhitong of the Baiyun Temple in Taibai Mountain.

Aunt Mi held Qianqian’s hands and whispered: “Madam told me that you are not a child of our Island Master, but of a man named Duan Yelang. I was so shocked. I couldn’t believe it. She begged me to take care of you, oh! I saw that you were so pitiable, and you shouldn’t be blamed. So, I had not left you for a second after your birth. Until you were one year old to be weaning, I found an excuse to bring the letter to the Baiyun Temple. The day I left, when I passed through the waterfall of Luomei. I didn’t expect the Island Master was there waiting for me. I had no choice but handing over the letter to him. I thought that he would tear the letter, but he only glimpsed at it and returned to me. He just told me to be careful on the road and come back quickly.”

When she said about that, she was repented: “Oh! It was actually better the Island Master torn the letter off, I have been worried about that person would come to Songhu Island to take you away for the past sixteen years. Fortunately, he has never been in here…” When Aunt Mi told about this, she was tearful: “How much I wish that you have never known about him, but…”

When Qianqian was listening, she sobbed and fell into her arms, just like when she was wronged ever.

Aunt Mi wiped her tears, said thoughtfully: “You have grown up now, do you want to accept him, you decide, but you must understand that the Island Master was never unkind to you. He just felt hurt whenever he saw you. He deliberately alienated you to avoid thinking of Madam.”

Qianqian shed tears, stunned, sad, nevertheless was callous by knowing all the truth. Her heart was hollowed out, and felt nothing now. Suddenly, a figure standing in front of the door, scolded: “Why don’t you take the medicine?”

Qianqian looked up and found that it was Ren Wanli. She was silently watching him but no action for a while before she stammered: “I am… I am…”

Ren Wanli stood thirty feet away from the bed yet his voice was still clearly heard for he spoke with dantian. He said: “What did you do? When you were outside, except with Lv Jiannan, with whom you have practiced martial arts secretly? to become such meridian retrograde, yin and yang reverting, and the five elements relapsing!”

After listening to these questions, Qianqian was baffled and asked: “What?”

Ren Wanli angered: “What are you still asking?” but seeing her sickening face of blue and red, he retrieved his anger, softened his tone and said: “You have to take this medicine now. And come to my study room tomorrow, I will teach you the formal internal healing methods. After saying that, he just turned around and walked away.

Qianqian was vacant for a moment, but at least she knew that this medicine was really a cure but nothing else. Thus, Aunt Mi picked up the tea bowl and touched it, said: “The medicine is cold, I take it to warm it up.”

Qianqian briskly stopped her and said: “No necessary, I will eat it now.” She said that at the same time, reached out and took the tea bowl, poured it into her mouth, finished it in one shot, then smiled and said: “Aunt Mi, Hey, is there anymore?”

Aunt Mi saw her recovered and back to normal so soon so sudden, she was relieved and laughed: “Yes, tomorrow.”

 

In the early morning when the sun still not yet shone on the peaks, Qianqian has come to the front of Ren Wanli’s study room. Before she knocked on the door, she has already heard his voice: “Come in!”

Qianqian pushed the door and stepped into the room, saw Ren Wanli was meditating on the floor with his knees folded. The table and chairs were moved outside of the garden. Qianqian was looking around slackly without a clue, Ren Wanli has opened his eyes and said sternly: “You also sit down.”

Qianqian then do what he said, sat herself down on the mat in front of him. Right after she pulled her legs together, Ren Wanli swiftly pushed her shoulder and turned over her back. He promptly punched her meridians of Ren Duo. Qianqian felt chest pain severely after a while of working. Ren Wanli said: “You felt chest pain, cold and sweat, do you?”

Qianqian whispered: “How could it be?”

Ren Wanli asked distantly: “You tell me honestly, what kind of internal skills do you practice, and who taught you?”

Qianqian thought that it has come to this end, she has no way to conceal from him any longer. Then she turned around and told the truth: “It’s the internal method taught by Miaoyin Tianjun.”

Ren Wanli heard that it was the internal works of Miaoyin Tianjun, he was so surprised: “Why did he want to teach you?” Qianqian then told him about roughly how the giant eagle picked her to the Icy Jade Palace from Dongting Lake. But of course, she deliberately removed the section what Miaoyin Tianjun commented about Songhu Island. She said: “He wanted to exchange the swordsmanship of… Lv Jiannan with me…” She almost said master, but she didn’t dare to say in front of Ren Wanli. So, she swallowed back the word “master”, continued: “… that was why he taught me his internal method.”

Ren Wanli now realized that what the enemy she mentioned the other day. He sneered: “You are too naïve. Miaoyin Tianjun hated Songhu Island for his life. How could he do something good for you? What you practiced the so-called internal method which actually cannot be practiced until you have more than ten years’ experience of practicing. The smarter you are, the better you practice, the more internal strength increases, the more harm would do to your body. One day you will suddenly become diverted and die without knowing why.”

Qianqian listened to his explanation, finally she realized that how serious the problem was. She whispered with remorse: “I knew that the old thief would not do good to me.”

Ren Wanli continued: “Fortunately, you are not practicing too deep yet. From now, you have to get up every early morning to practice it with the opposite direction. Remember that to stop before you enter the final breath. If you kept practicing like this, you could offset all the strength you have already practiced.”

Qianqian understood but she asked: “So, doesn’t it also mean I would lose all of the internal strength? Without internal strength, the swordsmanship I have learned would not be able to execute?”

Ren Wanli was startled that Qianqian was so persistently obsessive to martial arts. He strongly remarked: “Do you want martial arts or life?” Looking at her unyielding expression, he slightly mocked: “Your encounters outside these couple years were really extraordinary! In addition to Lv Jiannan and Miaoyin Tianjun, who else have you learned martial arts from? Your swordsmanship is quite magnificent and striking. I have retired for 30 years. I have never seen such a profound swordsmanship. The person who taught you must be somewhat a world class master!”

Qianqian dropped her head and thought: What kind of world class master is Teng Kuanrou? The mural painting styles are really unfathomable, but how could I explain to him all of these weird stuffs? During her hesitating, Ren Wanli stated again: “You don’t want to say, I won’t force you. Everyone has his chance to gain or lose. It is your own destiny. I don’t teach you martial arts but I can’t stop you from learning it. However, you have to know that, one day you will be on your own in the rivers and lakes, you cannot and no longer rely on the name of Songhu Island, do you understand what I mean?”

Even he didn’t state it clear, it seemed that he has no longer blamed her from learning martial arts without his permission. But, when he said that he doesn’t teach her martial arts personally and she has no longer rely on the name of Songhu Island, she sharply felt rejected. She was sour and bitter, she couldn’t help but asked: “Why? Why don’t you teach me martial arts?”

Ren Wanli casually excused: “The martial arts of Songhu Island does not pass on women, you should know that.”

Qianqian was not happy with this answer, she asked again: “But you also taught my eight elder sisters martial arts, but why never you taught me a trick or a stroke?” This question has been in her mind for many years, and today she finally collected courage to ask.

When Ren Wanli did not reply right away, Qianqian answered for him: “Is it because I am not your biological daughter?”

Ren Wanli saw the man came over Songhu Island few days ago. Although he wasn’t clear what the entanglement between them, but it was inevitable that one day she will ask about him. He replied honestly: “I have seen that you were bestowed the talent to learn martial arts from your early age. However, I am afraid that after you grown up, you will become like that person. Your temperament is eccentric and arrogant, I supposed that you will be off the track of goodness. So, I don’t want to provoke your interest of learning martial arts.”

Although Ren Wanli has retired from the rivers and lakes for decades, he still has full influence in the martial arts world. His daughters were all married to famous men from famous families. Sixteen years ago, he had assigned one of his sons-in-law to investigate the background of the man who was supposed to be Qianqian’s father. Knowing that he was a Jinling gang, and even later was expelled for his notorious acts in the rivers and lakes.  He recognized her father was such a character, he felt humiliated as well he was to be more prejudiced against Qianqian.

After listening to what his confession, Qianqian was only feeling detached and impassive, she smiled bitterly: “I was always in your mind, a person who will be off the track of goodness?”

Ren Wanli sighed: “You have to know, because you are not my own, I have greater responsibility to ensure that you are happy.” Ren Wanli was trying to be expressive, but Qianqian did not take the way it was, she responded indifferently: “How can you ensure my happiness? By What?”

Ren Wanli naturally answered: “Of course to have a good husband.” Ren Wanli was dashing and carefree when he was young, but his family concept was very traditional. He saw no corresponding reaction from her, then he decided to do it his own: “I have chosen this person for you. It is Nangong Murong from one of the seventh most well-known martial arts family in Luoyang. I have already investigated him. He is a man of all merits, gentle and honest. He is the seventh son at home. He has five brothers. After you married him, you don’t have to worry about the heirs. Moreover, you have seen this person.”

Qianqian has no impression of this person at all, just said reluctantly: “Isn’t he?”

In order to settle her marriage, Ren Wanli was extremely patient. He smiled again and said: “Do you remember that three years ago, you rushed into the Nangong family to make trouble?”

Qianqian shook her head. Whether if she really forgot, or deliberately refused to remember, Ren Wanli continued with a smile: “You have let go of the 300 homing pigeons raised by the Nangong family, and you have also had a fight with Nangong Murong, have you forgotten?”

When it was said that she let go 300 homing pigeons, Qianqian finally got some idea, but she was still frigidly said: “oh! I remembered, Nangong Murong, is that big turtle talking, eating, walking so slow!”

Ren Wanli was so cordially guiding her but did not expect that she would still be unconstrained. He decided to cut it off, spoke with authority: “Marriage is a big event, parents are the masters, no matter whether you agreed or not, the flower sedan of the Nangong family is already on the road, and they will arrive at Songhu Island in a few days. If you didn’t go on the sedan, don’t call me father anymore!”

Qianqian heard that the last sentence he said, her heart was in great pain. She stood up, angrily disapproved: “I can’t marry!”

Ren Wanli also stood up but asked: “Why?”

When she was asked about why, she was tearful and speechless. Looking at the opacity of Ren Wanli, she was inexplicably agitated, she blurted out: “If mother didn’t want to marry you in those days, would you still force her to marry you?”

Ren Wanli was questioned by Qianqian in such a manner, he was shocked, but was not angry. He held on the ache and grief, said somberly: “Why do you want to toss me like this?”

Qianqian instantly gushed with tears. She has never seen him looked so despair. She dropped her head, closed her lips, she was about to give in and promised, but eventually, she desolately said: “Why do you force me like this? ” After saying that, she turned around and dashed out of the study room.

Ren Wanli watched her back until she disappeared at the end of the cold pine bridge. She looked alike her mother so much, but was not her own child. He was always disturbed and unsettled. He wished to marry her quickly, to pay off what he owed to her mother.

 

After a few days, there was a messenger came to report first, saying that the Nangong family’s flower sedan has entered the zone of Shu. By the day after tomorrow, they will arrive at Songhu Island. The bride was asked to prepare, because the way of returning was far that they have no time to waste. She has to get on the sedan in the best designed time.

After thanked the messenger with pleasure, Aunt Mi hurriedly took out the wedding gown from the trunk and rushed to the Qianqian’s room to report the good news, but seeing her was still dreamy and drowsy, lying on the bed sluggishly, she shook her head and smiled: “The flower sedan of Nangong’s family will arrive soon, are you going to lying yourself on the sedan!”

When Qianqian heard that the flower sedan will arrive soon, she bounced from the pillow and said: “Oh, no! even you have to force me!”

Aunt Mi sighed: “When a man is married, a woman is married, there is always such a day in life. The Island Master surely chose the best man for you.”

Qianqian said with grudge: “But did he ever ask me if I liked it or not?”

Aunt Mi smirked and said: “It doesn’t matter you like him or not. The most important thing is that he likes you!”

Qianqian felt ridiculous to hear such a paradox, jeered: “It’s just like no matter my mother likes him or not, isn’t it?”

Aunt Mi was astonished to hear hers such a disrespectful comment to the Island Master, she immediately looked around to check whether if he suddenly appeared. She pressed the door closed before whispered: “How could you say this? The Island Master has done everything for Madam. It was not his fault but your mother disconnected it.”

Qianqian jumped up from bed, abruptly felt that there was nothing she can believe in this world anymore. What the everlasting love! What the fairy tale couples, were all fake. She could neither forgive Duan Hunling or Ren Wanli. She felt that she hated them both. What different are they? They are the same, no one really cares about my happiness, even Aunt Mi said the same thing! She was getting more and more biased, and felt completely no way out. She doesn’t even want to talk to her anymore. She just rushed out of the room without a word.

Aunt Mi held the wedding dress in her hands helplessly, sighed and regretted: “The Island Master must be desperate. He should know that forcing never work on her.”

As soon as the day after tomorrow, the Nangong family’s ceremonial team has come to the gate of Songhu Island. On the sides of the red saffron sedan, there were a road opening guards on the left, and flag holding guards on the right with drummers. They released firecracker while they were marching, along with a matchmaker swinging her fan by the side of the bridegroom. The rowdy blaring cheery welcoming team in red then rushed up to the unruffled mountain.

From the early morning, Qianqian has faintly heard the noisy music. She was lying on bed without action until suddenly she woke up earnestly. She quickly washed and changed. She put on the red wedding gown which has been hanging on the screen for two days. She sat in front of the mirror, wore the rouge, drew the eyebrows and also printed her lips with cinnabar paper. But after all, she took her sword of Zhangzi and flew out from the window.

Nangong Murong led the welcoming team, looking forward to see his bride blissfully. When he was about to pass the bridge of returning, he saw a shadow of woman standing in total red, blocking his way ahead. He was all in a sudden unprepared.

The clever and experienced matchmaker instantly stepped forward gleefully said: “Wow! Wow! Wow! It turned out to be our new bride. How could you my lady personally welcome our groom? The sedan will arrive in a short time. My dear you just can’t wait for a moment!”

Speaking while laughing, the people besides her couldn’t help but sniggering and giggling too. Nangong Murong was looked a bit embarrassed, but he could see the bride earlier and was also overjoyed. However, Qianqian, the bride did not smile at all. She glimpsed at him and said coldly: “Mr. Nangong! has been a long time.”

Nangong Murong was polite and gentle. He responded slowly: “Miss Ren, it has been three years since last time we met.” He said while he was watching her in the red dress with a bit of red on lips, he suddenly felt dizzy and heart beating. He lowered his head shyly.

Qianqian thought: This person seems to be a gentleman, but I am not innocent. If he married me and found out what it was, I could only end up of insulting myself and him. It would be better to get rid of him right now rather than being regret later.

Then she said: “I am going to ask you a few questions. If your answers did not satisfy me, you will not need to go on to Huai Yufeng. For you can go back and save your time.”

His followers thought that this might be the rules of martial arts world in term of testing the literacy of the new bridegroom, so they were happy to watch the show. They were looking forward to see how their young master respond. Nangong Murong smiled with confidence and said: “Then, Miss Ren, please ask!”

Qianqian held the sword tightly, and asked significantly: “Why are you fond of me?”

What a straight-forward question asked in the public! The followers, guards and matchmaker were all tittering. Though, Nangong Murong was poised and responded generously, said: “Because Miss Ren is beautiful and innocent and kind and lively and lovely.” After saying that, he smiled gently and lowered his eyebrows to avoid looking at her directly, that shown his decency.

Qianqian knew that he was a decent man, but that wasn’t she wanted now. She deliberately walked closer to him, glared at him and tempted: “Oh! That is to say that I am beautiful inside out, right?”

Nangong Murong was discomfited to be asked face to face, he bowed slightly, answered uneasily: “Yes!”

Qianqian was getting impatient. She believed if she didn’t take some action, he would never understand. Thus, she swiftly changed her tone and said hoarsely: “If I scooped your eyeballs out, would you still think I am beautiful?”

Nangong Murong was surprised but he seemed didn’t take it seriously. He looked up at her, calmed himself down, then slowly replied: “I believed that Miss Ren is kind, would never be such ruthless?”

Qianqian was so frustrated to deal with this insensible big turtle. She was out of idea to scare him off: I am afraid if I didn’t really shock him, he would never give up. Then she said reversed: “Mr. Nangong is really handsome and gentle!”

Nangong Murong abruptly heard such a praise from his beloved girl, he was actually overwhelming and mindlessly blushing. He suddenly lost control of himself and let go of his weakness.  He stammered only: “I… Ren… Miss… how…” He couldn’t finish a sentence for a long time. This person spoke slowly normally was just fine, but once he was in a hurry or nervous, his words became stuttered. Today, Qianqian teased him intentionally in order to uncovered him. Qianqian saw that it was the chance to take just one more action to get rid of him, then jeered: “But if you became ugly! Do you still dare to marry me?” When the last word came out, everyone was stunned. Nangong Murong was disciplined generally, he did not even know how to deal with such unreasonable offend. He plainly stood like a dummy without moving a step. Qianqian was thwarted, screamed without voice: Why don’t you just go away!

She lost patience completely, yelled at him: “Ok! If you didn’t know? Then I will let you know, right now!” With a slam, she pulled out the sword and jumped up.  Everyone startlingly dispersed. They’ve never expected a happy event would cause a bloody disaster. However, as soon as they saw Qianqian pulled back the sword, they immediately splashed into laughers while they were looking at the top of their young master’s head. Nangong Murong felt his long hair was swaying on his shoulders but still he didn’t know what had actually happened. He only felt his top was very cool, then he grabbed a follower hurriedly asked: “What are you laughing at?”

Qianqian has already slid her sword back into sheath. She stood in front of them, looked so indifferent.  Nangong Murong was panic, looking around his scattering hair on the ground.  He pathetically touched his head, felt like a piercing rough brush. The followers found that their young master was fatally miserable now, they gradually stopped laughing. The matchmaker sighed and kindly took out two bronze mirrors to show him what has really happened. He finally saw his long hair was cut to root, and on the barren top, was depicted a turtle.

Nangong Murong realized that he was crudely insulted. He cried out loud and pointed at his bride, hatefully said: “You… you… bully… me…you…you…are… too…too!”

Finally, he turned around and dashed away instead of completing his sentence. The followers and guards saw that the bridegroom has already darted, only they could do was picking up the flower sedan and ran after him.

Qianqian tediously watched them all gone when felt woeful in heart. She muttered: “I humiliated you under the sun today better than humiliating you in a dark room the other day.” She looked back at the monument stood by the bridge of returning, sighed: “You still have a way back, but I don’t.”

With a glare of sunbeam, she saw someone flashed in the forest on the hill. His shadow blocked the sunlight, it was actually Ren Wanli. He was watching all the event probably, Qianqian thought. He was looking at her but she couldn’t see his face since he was standing against the falling sun.  After a while, he disappeared, leaving only the afterglow of the day in a circle of halo.

 

Going Home 5-7

20181019_213216-1

(7) Home
From Taibai Mountain to Songhu Island, it usually took only three or four days on foot.  Qianqian now was moving like an arrow. In the force of grief, she moved day and night with the help of light power. It took her less than two days to return home.
Qianqian stopped at the gate in front of the great river, looked up to the nine peaks of Songhu.  The peaks were sharp and steep, wearing the afterglow with their shadow floated. The nothingness appeared to was left out from the dusty world. Qianqian walked in the evening haze through the bridges and caves. She went through the Luomei waterfall, in which she missed her mother whom she has never met. She crossed the Yuesong bridge, thought of her evergreen love that has far gone. After passing the silver fox road, across the swallow river, she got on the bridges of nine swords. On the nine swords platform, there were nine bridges crisscrossed. Under the bridges, water was diverted into a pool, grown nine different kinds of flowers and plants for different seasons. Now were lotus with their board leaves and green buds in the early summer. Here was the place where the island masters practiced swords, but Qianqian has never seen anyone ever practiced here. The nine swords were also known only for their names of mysterious legend in the rivers and lakes. It was said that the seventh generation of the island master, that was, the grandfather of Ren Wanli, Ren Tingyun, defeated the eight famous swordsmen of the Eight Great Schools, including the uncle of Guo Shangtian of Qingcheng school, with these nine swords. But since then, the nine swords had never appeared again. Ren Wanli has never worn sword either. Therefore, in the rivers and lakes. it was speculated that the nine swords had been lost before Ren Wanli.
Qianqian walked on the stone steps to the top of the Huaiyu Peak where was the habitation of Ren Wanli. He lived alone here for more than a decade. Sometimes he shut himself here for several months. No one had ever seen him.  Qianqian and her sisters lived in the huts below the cliff, facing the study room of their father, in between with a stone bridge, called cold pine. Under the bridge, there were waterfalls hanged on the abyss.
In the hut, the firewood was crackling. Qianqian slowly moved to the door, gently pushed the door opened. The room was dim, and a woman was seen under the candle light. About fifty years old, leaning against the window, doing some needlework. When she saw a figure at the door, she stood up and said gently, “Is it you, Qianqian?”
Once Qianqian heard her calling, she ran in the room, fell under her feet and started crying. She wailing off all the grievances, all the scourges and woes of these years. After wailing enough, she whimpered and sobbed. The woman touched her hair softly, said: “Hey! You naughty girl! Where have you been all these times?”
Qianqian took off the black cloak, stopped sobbing, but a doubt raised in her mind that she couldn’t wait to ask. She wiped clean her tears, looked up at the woman, asked seriously: “Aunt Mi, you have to tell me honestly… am I not a daughter of dad?”
Aunt Mi, surname Zhou, was a nanny of Qianqian. Her family has been working for Songhu Island since grandfather. She herself was grown up in Songhu Island too. She served Qianqian’s mother since she came to the island. When the madam passed away, she was consigned to take care her daughter. She loved Qianqian like her own. Perhaps, too pampered, she was developed to be capricious.
Listened to her question, she immediately shook her head and laughed: “You stupid girl, always asked this kind of oddity. If you were not the daughter of Island Master, to whom could be? Your temperament is as same as the Island Master. Both are straight outside and bended inside.”
Qianqian felt a bit settled, but not satisfied yet, asked again: “Why do all of my eight sisters, their names started with Xi, but do not I alone?”
Aunt Mi laughed first before she explained: “Isn’t that I said you are bended inside? Ok! for this question, it was a long story.  Before you were born, the Island Master thought that this time must be a boy, so he decided a name of a boy for you. It was Qianli, means thousand miles. The Island Master said, the best horses are only run thousand miles. Why is it necessary to have ten thousand miles as him? He only wished that you can have one-tenth of his achievements. But, unexpectedly, it was a girl. when the midwife asked what is the name for the new born.  The Island Master stammered, he said Qian…. so, the midwife asked again, then he said again Qian… that is. The midwife misunderstood that your name is Qianqian….so!”
When Qianqian heard that, she couldn’t help but laughed and said, “It was like this! really! what an easy-going midwife she was!” Just finished laughing, she frowned and asked again: “Why did I later called Ren Zhenyi?”
Aunt Mi replied honestly: “It was like that. The Island Master later thought that he should name you seriously. How could he just let the midwife scribbling? He checked the book and found there was a poem using Zhenyi these two characters. He thought it was good for you. Then On your one-month birthday, you were officially renamed as Zhenyi, but we all used to call you Qianqian, couldn’t change after that.”
Qianqian nodded and thought: If this was the case. Although he didn’t like me, but he prudently renamed me.  It is impossible that I am not his daughter!
She felt settled then found herself dungy and smelly. Aunt Mi was handing her a damp towel, said: “You are now back to Songhu Island. No one dares to bully you again.”
Listened to her console, Qianqian was abruptly trembled and teary. Aunt Mi said, “Look at your stinky smelly muddy duckling, I go boil water to bathe you, and then made a few dishes you like the most. Last year, the chestnut harvest was very good. I can make chestnut roast chicken. You love this Jiangnan famous dish…”
While she was saying and preparing fire, she looked back and saw Qianqian has slept on the floor already, she sighed: “Poor child.”

When Qianqian woke up in the morning and found herself sleeping in her own room, on her own bed. She then was sure that she really home. She saw the layout of the room was the same as before. It was also spotless. Must be Aunt Mi cleaned every day. She looked outside the windows, the pines were hanging upside down on the cliff besides the waterfall, with scattered clouds around it.
Qianqian was sitting on the bed, still dazed. Aunt Mi came in and said: “Well! You woke up! Don’t you sleep for a little longer?”
Qianqian scratched her itchy body and said, “How could I sleep in my bed? I obviously fell asleep on the ground.”
Aunt Mi smiled mysteriously and said: “It was the Island Master brought you here. He said that don’t wake you up, just let you sleep.”
“Is it?” Qianqian was excited to hear that was him.
Aunt Mi put down the breakfast and said, “Of course, you are so heavy now, how could I move you?”
Qianqian sat at the table and asked: “Where are Xihui, Xiguang and Xibiao? Why I didn’t see them?”

Aunt Mi laughed then answered: “Of course you didn’t see them. They are all married.”
Qianqian halt the chopsticks and said surprisingly: “Are they? Why? So early! Then I won’t see them anymore?”
Aunt Mi smiled and said: “It was not early, it was late. Don’t you know that? They are almost thirty years old. Is there any daughters got married so late? I am afraid that only the daughters of Songhu Island.”
Qianqian thought that her comments were interesting, she smirked: “Wow! they are that old already? I can’t believe it. Xihui was always fighting with me, without her, there was no more fun here!”
Aunt Mi while was preparing water for bath, said, “Don’t laugh, the next one is you. Look! These things are the gifts from the major schools and great families of the martial arts society, just waiting for you to come back to choose.”
Qianqian now then noticed that by the wall were filled with various sizes of brocade boxes and silk scrolls. Qianqian glanced at them randomly, suddenly she felt pain keenly in her heart. Thinking of what had happened in Taiba mountain, she suddenly trembled, a bird egg on her chopsticks fell off. Aunt Mi looked at her, touched her forehead immediately and asked, “What’s wrong with you? Are you sick?”
Qianqian smiled with red eyes, said: “No, I’ve just missed my sisters.”
Aunt Mi sighed: “Girls eventually have to married and left home. I remembered when they were small, Songhu Island was much livelier! But since the Madam died, your eldest sister Xiyang began to marry, and then one in a year almost. If not because of Xihui, Xiguang were so picky, they couldn’t have waited until recently.”
Qianqian pull the sleeve of Aunt Mi, grimaced and said: “Don’t worried! I am still here. I will not marry. I will stay in Songhu Island forever.”
Aunt Mi laughed and said: “Don’t talk nonsense, be careful let the Island Master hear it. You better hurry up, finish the breakfast and bathe and change clothes, then go to the study room to greet the Island Master!”

Qianqian held a cup of tea, passing the cold pine bridge. The morning clouds were still lingering under the bridge, holding up the peaks, made them really looked like islands on the sea. Qianqian stopped and watched, reminded her the sisters were leaping and tumbling between the crests with the ropes when they were practicing the light work. Every time when she saw dad was watching by his window, she was particularly attentive. Just wished that he would have praised her, but he never. When she was told that it was he held her back to the room last night. She was still excited because he had never been so close to her. Thinking of that, she has already come in front the study room.  She glanced inside through the window, knocked on the door and said: “I am Qianqian, come and greet you!”
He didn’t answer as usual. Qianqian entered the front hall by herself. She looked around, the layout was still the same, with a wooden table, two wicker chairs, that is! He was always hiding in the back hall, where she has never been. Through the bamboo fence, she saw his figure faintly, sitting in between three sides of bookshelves, reading with his head down.
When he talked, his voice was low, but very loud. He said, “What a unworthy daughter you are! Where have you gone for making trouble? You will be not going anywhere from now.”
Qianqian knew that he would never have good words to her, but she didn’t want to argue with him since she has just come back. She stood there miserably, idly, skimming around without purpose. Ren Wanli unexpectedly turned around, walked to the bamboo fence, said: “You will not be allowed to step out of Songhu Island anymore. I have already promised the Nangong family for your marriage.  They will come to pick you up as soon as possible. You should be ready!”

Qianqian wanted to yield him, but when she listened he has agreed her marriage all by himself. She was very angry and said: “What is the Nangong family? Who am I going to marry? You have not told me yet! Nangong family is so big, am I going to marry them all?”
Ren Wanli was irritated by her words: “Do you know what are you talking, do you feel shame?”
When he mentioned of shame, Qianqian instantly teary, but hold back, said with grudge: “I don’t feel shame? If it was not because of you, I would not become like this? Is all a good deed done by your enemy?”
After that, she slammed the tea cup on the table, turned around, rushed out of the study room.
Ren Wanli walked out from the back hall, saw the tea cup fell over on the table. Thinking of the last sentence she said, he asked himself doubtfully: “My enemy?”
Ren Wanli has always been free from that. He was not aware of people. Although he knew that there was someone in the rivers and lakes didn’t like him. There were people defied Songhu Island, but he never put these people in heart. There was because he was superb in martial arts. Even there were enemies, he never had trouble with them. So, when he heard that he has enemy, he couldn’t figure out who he was.

When Aunt Mi saw Qianqian rushing back irately, she knew that she must had quarreled with the Island Master. She comforted her: “In fact, the Island Master is very happy that you are back.”
Qianqian sat down harshly, said crisply: “Yes! he can send me off right away, isn’t he?”
When Aunt Mi saw that Qianqian was as childish as before, she smiled and said: “The only wish of the Island Master is that all of your sisters have a good husband.” Qianqian wasn’t paying attention to what she said, she was looking outside the window slackly, then she changed topic: “If you don’t like the Nangong family, you can pick another one… Look! There are so many people who came to propose you, you can always pick what you like!”
Qianqian moved her eyes back to the room, saw a long sword lying among these gifts, appeared to as if they had met before. Qianqian stared at it, slowly walked closer. The long sword looked so familiar, and suddenly her heart was pounding. She picked it up, gazed at it unspeakably sad.
Aunt Mi saw her picking up the long sword, she smiled and said: “What a pity that the long sword is not a proposal gift. It is someone called… Baling…. Mr.Teng….. this person has been to Songhu Island twice, for the first time. It was Xihui received him, the second time he…. came up to here and said that he just wanted to return the sword to you. After he finished, he turned around and left right away. I saw him came all the way here to return the sword. I was trying to invite him to come for a cup of tea. But he didn’t look back, just disappeared like smoke……”
Aunt Mi has been talking so much, but Qianqian was still staring at the sword without responding. She realized that this Mr. Teng who returned this sword must be someone unusual to her. This girl must have a special encounter in the rivers and lakes, that is why she didn’t want to marry the others. Aunt Mi was about to ask her, Qianqian suddenly turned around and said: “Aunt Mi, throw away all these gifts for me!”
Speaking while picking up the sword, she strode out the room blissfully. Aunt Mi shook her head and smiled: “It is not easy to find someone who can fit the temperament of our Qianqian. The Island Master can’t just get anyone for her!”

Qianqian came with the sword to the nine tombs of the ancestors. where was right under the nine peaks. Nine tombs buried nine generations of the Island Masters and their wifes. Qianqian came to her mother’s tomb. On the tombstone, her name Madam Ren, Liu Yiyi was written on one side, with the other side blank for her husband Ren Wanli. They will be buried here together one day. Qianqian was soaked into memories of when she was a child. She always escaped from what she didn’t like to here. Once….

Qianqian had a fight with her eighth sister Xihui. She ran all the way up here, but Xihui was following. When she came over, she saw that little Qianqian was jumping on the top of the tomb. She was very angry. She yelled: “Come down! You come down right away!” Qianqian was looking down to her sister, said:” No! you want to catch me, come up here!” Xihui of cousre would not, she was already sixteen when Qianqian was only six. She was clear that what would be the outcome if she did that. The tombs here were like houses for the dead. They were built to fit a couple living like alive. The tombs were high and wide. Qianqian stood on the top like on the roof of it. She felt she was together with her mother.  She felt like mother was still alive. She imagined that mother was living, cooking or sewing inside the house, not the tomb. She wanted her alive so much. But, suddenly, her feet were swept by a bamboo stick. Xihui held a long bamboo stick sweeping her down. Xihui was much stronger and bigger. Qianqian fell on the ground immediately. She studied some light power already, she wasn’t hurt. But Xihui was furious. She jumped on her and slapped her. Qianqian was shocked but didn’t cry. Xihui suddenly looked very sad. She was almost crying. She released her, and said: “I will not tell dad, this time. but you can’t get on there anymore, do you know that?” Qianqian nodded immediately like a fool and then started crying with her sister.

Qianqian now stood in front her mother’s tomb after she has learned the pass of her. She was very confused. She felt that she was much more a stranger to her now than before. She couldn’t understand why she would be in love with such a person like Duan Hunling. She would prefer to die or never born if he was really her biological father.
She held the sword, thinking of what had happened last two years. She was extremely bewildered. Suddenly she pulled the sword and slammed and swayed with all her strength. The internal force inside was pushing her crazily. She was dashing with the sword in the air like there were full of enemies. Suddenly she heard that a person walking closer to her. She thought it was Ren Wanli, but when she turned around, she was stunned. A man in front of her, looked at her with a pair of sluggish eyes of blood. It was him, Duan Hunling.
Qianqian quickly slashed the sword and shouted: “What are you doing here?”
Duan Hunling has never set his feet on Songhu Island. Today, he didn’t know where the courage came from. He went all the way up here. Now he saw Qianqian, but he has nothing to say. He hated and regretted, and now he wanted to fix it,  said solemnly: “I am here to ask you to forgive.”
Qianqian slammed the sword and shouted: “I don’t want to forgive you, you get out of here right now!”
Duan Hunling strode forward, madly said: “Daughter, you don’t have to be afraid, I have killed Bai and Weng. No one knows what happened that day.” He said while his hand swayed in the air with a bag, one bloody human head instantly rolled out, dropped down in front of Qianqian. She was already incensed when he called her daughter. Now she saw the head, she was almost collapsed. She screamed to Duan Hunling: “You are crazy! You are sick! You keep making mistakes and you never repented. I think you are absolutely worthless! Why don’t you kill yourself too?”
Qianqian hated this person from bones, even if he really died in front of her, she would not even frown. However, Duan Hunling was so brazen. He stepped forward and said: “You don’t have to forgive me now, but there is one thing you must make it clear.”
Qianqian stumbled back, and he tearfully took out a letter from his collar and said: “This is written by your mother, she said that you are my own flesh and blood, you are my daughter, you read the letter and will understand…”
He kept saying that she was his daughter, Qianqian was severely anxious and annoyed. She shouted: “You are nonsense! I will kill you if you said it again!” She was too agitated that she couldn’t even raise the sword. She fell the sword down and inserted it into the soil.
Duan Hunling looked calmer than her. He took a few steps back when he handed the letter out. He said resolutely, “How difficult is it to kill me? If you wanted. But you have to read the letter first before you kill me!”
Qianqian stared at the letter only a second, then raised the sword, picked the letter with the tip, swayed it into the air, and smashed it with the blade. The letter was instantly shredded, flying in the dusk like gray moths. Duan Hunling was standing surrounded with the ashes of the only letter from his beloved woman. Every word that Yiyi has said in the letter was already imprinted in his mind, but nothing seemed was believable and matter now.
Suddenly, a few notes of Qin was tuned from the distance, Duan Hunling frighteningly looked up, he saw that where he was standing in front was actually a tomb. He looked at the tombstone, that was written Liu Yiyi but under the family name of Ren. He was finally aware that she was a wife of Ren Wanli. It has been the fact for thirty years. Even after she died, it wasn’t changed and it would be forever.

The tuning of the strings was becoming a song, and a man holding a Qin was appeared in the pine forest. Duan Hunling was terrified. He whispered tremblingly: “Ren Wanli!”
He stepped back, looked around fearfully, suddenly he turned around and ran down the hill like a loser dog.
Qianqian put down the sword, and found that obnoxious head was still on the ground. She felt disgusting. She simply picked a stone and shot it. It bounced up and rolled down to the cliff. For a long time, there was no an echo.
Qianqian closed her eyes, listening to the Qin. She was gradually appeased, and reminded all the swordsmanship she has learned last two years. She gracefully danced with the sword of Xiangzhi, recalling the Dongting in the spring. She was fluttering and soaring along with the melody of the Qin. Ren Wanli saw Qianqian was practicing with the swords, he was surprised and inspirited. He swayed his fingers on the seven strings earnestly and swiftly. He has never seen such a beautiful swordsmanship for a long time. He was wondered how Qianqian could manage this kind of skills, that so fabulous and dynamite. He was watching joyfully.  He abruptly pressed stop the Qin, held it in his arm, fluttered out the pine forest, landed under Qianqian’s sword. Qianqian was unaware. She continued to stab and dash. The two leapt over high among the tombs, swaying swords and sleeves without leaving their shadows. Qianqian hit the Qin with the sword tip. Ren Wanli retreated and she did it again. Ren Wanli quickly lifted the Qin. But her sword has inserted between the seven strings, picked up and down, made a rhyme like a song. Ren Wanli jumped off, Qianqian followed, the two were like playing with the sword and music. They looked happily and foolish. Nothing else was bothering them anymore. The fragments of the rhyme eventually became music. Suddenly the seven strings were broken, then it was the end of it. Qianqian has just retreated her sword, Ren Wanli glared at her and sneered: “Your swords are intricate and impure, your internal strength is reverted and jumbled. If you were going on like this, you will eventually get mad.”
His words were just finished, Qianqian turned over and fainted. Ren Wanli immediately flew to catch her with his right hand while his left hand was still holding the Qin. He caught her waist before she fell. Ren Wanli looked at her face in coma. Her nose was straight, and lips was tightened, looked so unconvinced and uncompromising. He sighed: “This girl is too untamed, it is not a blessing.”

The fifth chapter is finished

 

 

 

 

Going Home 5-6

20181017_130741-1

(6) Wolf
Surrounded with the cold bluish flame, Duan hunling and Qianqian sat at the table until dawn.
The morning breeze blew out the expiring candle. Duan hunling told the heart broken story filled with remorse and anguish. He stared at Qianqian: “Ren Wanli is a master of martial art. He bullied the weak, kinked my love. Should not I hate him?”
Qianqian was unmoved,  responded coldly: “You hated him so much, you can go to Songhu Island, find him and avenge, you vent your hatred on me, are you not the same bullying the weak?”
Duan hunling didn’t expect that she has no sympathy to his misfortune at all. He was furious, said: “He took away Yiyi for his own selfish desire. He did not have a little bit of pity on her. He only forced her to continue the blood, until she was exhausted and died early. It is he ruined her life, and mine.. it is he, that’s why I am still alone……shouldn’t I hate him?”
Qianqian sneered, refuted: “My father was so loyal to my mother. He was gentle and considerate, loving and caring. The couple were perfect match. Everybody knows that in the rivers and lakes, they are fairy tale, a legend. Would she be happier with you becoming  gang? and be worrying all her life?”
Duan Hunling bounced up from the bench and shivered: “You… you…” He couldn’t believe that she protected Ren Wanli, and saw him as a perfect man, even after knowing the fact he did. He felt like Ren Wanli was taking away everything he has, including his the last self respect. He grudged: “If Ren Wanli loved her so much, after she died, why didn’t he followed her? Why he still remained in this world?”
Qianqian thought of how sad her father has been since the death of her mother. He was so depressed and has never left Songhu Island agian.  She sighed: “He lived like a walking dead after my mother died. What is the difference between life and death to him?”

Duan hunling was still shivering, glaring at her but couldn’t say a word. Qianqian didn’t avoid his gaze, kept pulling fuel on the fire:”You said that you loved my mother so much, then after she married my father, you should have died for her, why didn’t you?”
From the viewpoint of Qianqian, the misfortune of this person was caused by his own. When she saw that he has nothing talked back, she boldly told him the truth: “You don’t know anything but just was stubborn and self-righteous. You always thought that It was my father raped my mother. Actually, you didn’t know what happened on the day?”
Duan Hunling sneered: “Where were you at that time? Do you know what you are talking about?”
Qianqian said immediately: “I was not born yet at the time, but when I was trapped in the Icy Jade Palace, it was Miaoyin Tianjun told me by himself. It was he, put the reunion tea inside the tea of theirs. That is why they lost their rationality.  They couldn’t help themselves but…”
Qianqian naively thought that if the truth was told, it would be easily resolve the decades of his hatred towards her father. However,  when Duan hunling heard that, he was furiously jealous of Ren Wanli. He laughed and laughed, took out the ecstasy of Wuyan, swayed in front of Qianqian, snorted: “What reunion tea? I also have the ecstasy.” While he was saying, he cracked the table with the esctasy in his hand.  Qianqian was terrified, staring at him but dare not say anything. Duan hunling was painfully distorted and his grievances was piled:  “Ren Wanli was a master of  martial arts, his internal strength was deep. This little bit of drug, does it matter to him? He obviously pretended…” Have saying that, he leaned over and glared at Qianqian with his bloody eyes, said, “You have never tasted it yet!”
Qianqian shuddered only. Duan Hunling has no longer talked. He turned around, stepped out. He saw someone standing by the door. It was Bai, he seemed to be there, waiting for a long time. Duan Hunling glanced at him then left without a word.
Qianqian looked at Bai approaching to her, like catching a chicken in the cage. Suddenly she realized that what was going to happen. She wanted to stand up and flee, but was blocked by two plumbs in her ankles. She pressed her hands against the ground, panted in the yellow smoke and fainted afterward.

Duan Hunling left the Please come guest house and rambled down the hill. He came to the front gate of the Baiyun Temple, blindly ran into a person. When he looked up, the man said, “It is you, donor Duan!”
Duan hunling looked at this man. He was an old monk, bald head and long beard, wearing a gray short robe, shouldered with a bag, seemed to have just returned from a trip. Duan hunling finally recognized him, and smiled: “Was it the master Zhitong?”
The abbot of the Baiyun Temple, Zhitong, often traveled to the temples in Lushan for the affairs of religion. When the parents of Liu Yiyi were still alive, they often came to Baiyun Temple to worship the Buddha. At the time, Yelang served them as a porter, he came along with them was hoping that he could see Yiyi on the way. Eighteen years ago, Duan Hunling reunited with Liu Yiyi in the Please come guest house. In the morning, Yiyi left without saying goodbye. He came to Baiyun Temple to ask about her. This old monk has good retention and practice physiognomy. When he saw Yelang more than ten years ago, he said: “You are high on the cheekbone, you will be a powerful man, but your chin is sharp so you have no children to be blessed. You are destined to be alone.”
At that time, Yelang was young and strong, thinking that if he had power, wouldn’t he have no family? With a family, wouldn’t he be afraid of no children? To the words of this monk, he just laughed it off. After more than a decade, abbot Zhitong recognized him right away.  Duan hunling was inquiring about Yiyi.  Zhitong only implied that he and Liu Yiyi would be ended in tragedy.
Duan Hunling did not believe in fate even though Zhitong was already half right about it. After another eighteen years,  when Zhitong saw Duan hunling this time, he said with pleasure: “Duan donor, I have waited for you 16 years,  you finally have returned to Baiyun Temple today.”
Duan hunling said: “Waited for me 16 years? Can you explain it?”
Zhitong smiled and said: “Duan donor please come to the temple with me, and you will understand.”
Then, he brought Duan hunling to the Baiyun Temple. The big incense burner in front of Guanyin Hall was filled with incense sticks in the blue smoke. Zhitong  introduced Duan hunling to the chanting room. In the room, there were only wooden fishes and futons. Duan hunling followed Zhitong to one of those wooden fishes, then he drew a letter from the bottom of it and smiled: “This letter has been under this wooden fish for 16 years, waiting for you to come and take it every day.” When he said that he had handed the letter to him. Duan Hunling saw it has already turned yellow and the handwriting was fuzzy. It seemed to be written in the words of Duan Yelang. Duan hunling immediately tore it opened and took out the letter. The paper was folded for many years and became chipped. He barely opened it, shook off the dust. The words was blurred with the faded ink. But at the first glance, he recognized by the handwriting. It was Liu Yiyi. Duan hunling started reading unsettlingly.  The first sentence was: Yelang my love. He was dazed with such intimate way that she called him.  His heart was pounding, but he calmly continued reading…
“When you are far away and uncertain, I don’t know where to send this letter. The world is illusory, and I can’t tell you everything. Now, when I am in the middle of leaving, I am looking forward to your forgiveness. Don’t you regret it? In the misty rain of the embraces. Could you have no complaints? She is a child without a mother. She has no mother she shouldn’t have no father. My ninth daughter Qianqian, is your flesh and blood. One day if you met with her, the dagger of Yelang will be the prove. What else should I say? I have been tearing. I don’t know what I am talking……Yiyi the last words.”
Duan Hunling read until my ninth daughter Qianqian is your…… he was already blanked. The morning glow was like a sword and the wind was like a knife.

Weng was awaken by the noise, and found Bai was not there. He came to the dinning hall, found nobody but the broken table with the dishes scattered all over. At this time, the morning sunlight thrust into the hall, and everything was shone. Weng has a feeling something wrong. He scratched his head, said: “Weird! Where are the people…”
Then he saw two plumbs that has been buckled on the girl’s legs were unlocked and rested on the ground. Weng knew that Bai was the key keeper. He was anxious and said: “Is it he…”
Then, he saw the girl’s embroidered shoes, one under the chair, one by the stair. Weng picked them up with his face sunk.  He knew that what had happened when he heard somenone groaned in the attic. Weng hold the embroidered shoes, looked up, saw the door of the attic room was closed. The sunlight diagonally bladed in the dust. A gust of wind blew behind him, Duan hunling was dashing in and boarded on the attic.  He slammed the door opened, while the girl was grabbing her collars rushing out. She wiped by the side of him, but seemed that did not see. Duan hunling hurriedly grabbed her arms. She looked back, in a moment both was extremely horrified. They were freezed until Duan said: “You…are my daughter!”
The girl thought that he was going to humiliate her more. She struggled from his grasp maddly, slid down the stairs with bare feet like a leaf of autumn fell from the withered tree. Duan Hunling chased a few steps and stopped. He saw Weng holding the cloak and shoes following her. He stood there with remorse and shame and inexplicable anger.  He turned around, saw that Bai was still holding his pants. He immediately jumped to him, raised his fist on his face. Bai was frightened, said: “Brother, you… I… How could she became your daughter?”
Duan hunling punched the wall, crushed a big hole. He couldn’t rationalized anything right now. He just walked out the room, down the stairs, watching over the Baiyun Temple, shaded in the moring haze.

Weng caught up the girl by the Baiyun Temple when the bell and drum banged for the morning class. The sound of chantings gradually filled the empty mountain. Weng saw the poor girl standing on the slope by the temple, staring at the raging river in the valley. She looked melting into the golden sunlight with the sound of rising chanting. Weng was sad. He then gently put the cloak on her shoulder. She was shivered but did not look back. Weng put her shoes on the ground and said: “You are free now, go home! Go back to Songhu Island!”
After saying that, he turned around and left.
Qianqian perceptibly saw a face in her mind,  whispering to her ears:  “Go back to Songhu Island! ”

Do you also say this? Yueqiao! Yes, I can’t die here, even if I wanted to die, I have to go back to Songhu Island first!” She thought of it, hold back her tears, turned around, put on her shoes, that is, riding the wind, crossing the forest, with the black cloak fluttered. She stepped on her final journey of returning home.

Weng went back to the dinning hall, saw that Duan hunling and Bai was sitting quietly, Weng sighed: “Brother! You are my big brother, I have always respected you, but this time you…. are really wrong.”
Duan Hunling was drooped and speechless while Bai was frowning. He was thinking how to remedy? He seemed got an good idea, then smirked and said: “Weng! It is no use to blame brother Duan. Now, the first thing is how to fix it. I think it is actually very easy.  Brother! I can marry the silly girl and call you father-in-law. That is, is that any problem?”
Bai was really shameless or simply ignorant. He wasn’t bashful to say this kind of things. Duan hunling was looking at him incredibly.  He was ignited again by what he said. However, he knew that, from the bottom of heart,  he hated himself the most. Thinking of the pleading of Yiyi’s last words, asking him to care for her daughter, our own flesh and blood, but he actually spoiled her, He repeatedly asked the heaven.  Why didn’t you let me read the letter one day earlier?
Weng pointed at the nose of Bai, said: “You still talking shameless, hehe! I think you all forgot how we sworn as brothers. In those days, we stumbled, only because we did bad things. I am a salt smuggler, only seeking huge profits, and bullying the poor. You Bai, are self-proclaimed flower thief and has ruined many good women in your life!”
Bai dropped his head down when Weng was condemning him. He looked a bit shame of what he did. Weng continued: “Wuyan was a false priest. He was swindling everywhere, but among the four of us, he did the least harmful, however, he died the earliest.”
Counting to Duan hunling, Weng carefully looked at him up and down before he made a comment. Although he has always respected him as a hero who was unyielding and undautable, but today he witnessed this man did a horrible thing, he found that was unforgivable, said: “Brother! When you left the Qinglong Gang, you had said something to me, do you remember?”
Duan hunling was still depressed with his face down, without answering. Weng then blasted: “You said that you had just climbed up to the third place of Qinglong, under your feet have already piled up with innocent bones. It was you, my brother said that, and you advised me to stop being vicious.. . but, why did yourself fell again today?”
Weng was looked so righteous up to here. Duan hunling abruptly raised his head, turned at him, said grimly: “Weng! what have I done today, did you see it? You say it! What did you see?”
He talked like heartless and mad. Weng immediately retreated. He did not dare to say anything more, but it was too late. Duan hunling was already irrated. He step by step approached to Weng, said: “Why don’t you say anything now? Weng, Bai, how did I treat you guys all these days?” He said while looking back at Bai with grievances. Bai couldn’t returned any words. Then he turned to Weng again: “Are you raking over my past today? I tell you, you have just said the most right thing. That is, Wuyan should not die earlier than you…”
Speaking of that, Weng was alarmed something really bad, he just wanted to run and flee, but a ring of bells was heard. Duan hunling has actually slashed his machete to him.  Weng hurried threw the red whisker rope to entangle his hand, but Duan immediately raised his palm to crash his shoulder, at the same time slashed his neck as well as his red whisker rope. Weng immediately fell on spot. Bai had never thought that Duan hunling would suddenly murder his third brother, Weng in front of him. When he realized that, Duan has turned over and stared at him, said with despair: “Only if you were all dead, nothing could clear our sin of today.”
When he’ve just finished, Bai has already ran to the door. Duan hunling  jumped in front of him, slashed the machete, swayed the bells and then cut off his head. He pull down a piece of curtain hanging over the shopkeeper, caught the head, wrapped up and flew away.
The Baiyun Temple has just finished the chanting.  Another bang of bell and drum were lingering in the mountains, until it was back to silence.