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.