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Blade-dance of the Two Lovers Chapter 2

Chapter 2

The Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain waited until the men of the Weixin Escort Agency had gone very far away before coming out of the forest. Hua Jianying tore off a strip of cloth from his clothes and bound up the gash on Xiaoyaozi's brow. Chang Changfeng said, "Elder Brother, how do you feel?"

"I am fine, I am fine," answered Xiaoyaozi. "We are good men who cannot overcome a large number of foes, so it is not a big matter."

Hua Jianying said, "I had said before that these people were loud and powerful-looking, and therefore, difficult to deal with. But Second Brother insisted on taking them on. See, Eldest Brother is now injured."

"These people were really confused beyond words," Gai Yiming added. "What else could we do when they did not even retreat at the great name of the Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain?"

"Well, we cannot blame our Second Brother," said Xiaoyaozi finally. "If we want to get something really valuable and precious, we have no choice but to seek out passing teams of escorts."

"So what should we do now?" asked Chang Changfeng. "Our hands are empty, so we still cannot go and visit him."

Gai Yiming started to make a suggestion, but the sound of footsteps from outside the forest interrupted him. Someone was coming quickly into the forest from its southern end, heading towards the north. Gai Yiming stuck his head out for a look and said, "There are two people altogether! This time, we must make sure that these fat lambs do not run away!"

"Right, we must take at least a few dozen liang of silver from them!" said Chang Changfeng. He lifted the tombstone that he had retrieved earlier and held it in one hand. As it turned out, his nickname, the Palms that Break Stone, came from the fact that he used a tombstone as a weapon. When he raised the tombstone above his head and threw it at his enemies, all of them ran away in fear. As for the origins of the tombstone, he had simply plucked it off a grave that he had come across. The four men struck their palms together, dispersed and hid behind large trees.

The two people ran into the forest one after the other. The first was a man about twenty-seven years old with a sabre in his hand. "Thieving Old Woman!" he shouted at the top of his voice. "You are so unreasonable! Do you really want to have me killed?" The Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain saw a young married woman chasing the man. There was a baby on her back and a catapult in her hand. "Ba - ba - ba - ba" - the catapult sounded as a series of beads flew towards the young man. The man swung his sabre to the left and the right to fend off the beads, but he did not turn around to attack the woman. Seeing the conflict between the man and the woman, Xiaoyaozi said, "Who are these? Why are they fighting?"

Gai Yiming whistled once and the four men came out from their hiding place at the same time. "Stop!" they said to the two people who were fighting. But the young man charged straight ahead, turned his head around and shouted, "Thieving Old Woman! If you continue being so ruthless, I will no longer spare you any mercy!"

"Thieving Dog!" shouted the young woman in response. "If I do not kill you today, I, Ren Feiyan, am not human!" By then, the Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain were already standing in the young man's path. "Lin Yulong," the young woman added, "you had better stand still!"

The young man, whose name was indeed Lin Yulong, cast an eye on Chang Changfeng and said, "Move aside!" Then, he bent down to avoid the beads that had been shot towards him. A moment later, a loud "Ai-yo!" was heard. The beads had struck Chang Changfeng on the nose.

"Stinking Old Woman!" he shouted at once. "You hit me!"

"So what if I did?" Ren Feiyan retorted without batting an eyelid. She pulled her catapult again and sent two beads towards the man. Chang Changfeng raised the tombstone to fend off the shots, but to no avail. One of them hit him on the chest, while the other struck his arm. The sudden pain on his arm caused him to drop the tombstone. "Ai-yo!" he shouted immediately and jumped away. It turned out that the tombstone had landed on his toe!

Gai Yiming and Hua Jianying sprang towards Ren Feiyan as soon as they saw their Second Brother suffer in her hands. The young woman pulled her catapult and sent several beads towards both of them. Gai Yiming was hit on the brow, while Hua Jianying had one of his front teeth knocked out. "Danger! Danger!" shouted Gai Yiming at once.

Having lost precious time on the four men, Ren Feiyan saw that Lin Yulong had run out of the forest. She became very angry and started to run after him. A few steps later, she turned and pulled at her catapult, knocking Xiaoyaozi's long-stemmed pipe out of his hand. This strange but accurate move was the famous "Returning Horse" of the Catapult Forms. Ren Feiyan smiled, turned her head and shouted, "Lin Yulong, you Stinking Thief! You had better stop!"

"If you have guts, you should fight three hundred exchanges with me using the sabre and the spear!" Lin Yulong retorted. "What is the use of chasing me with a catapult?"

Soon, the quarrel between the two people could no longer be heard as they ran further and further away towards the north. Hua Jianying said, "Eldest Brother, who are Lin Yulong and Ren Feiyan?"

"Lin Yulong is an expert in the sabre, while the woman, Ren Feiyan, is definitely a specialist in the catapult," answered Xiaoyaozi in a serious voice. Immediately, Gai Yiming said, "Eldest Brother, you have divine insight and your words are reasonable."

"The woman does not look too bad, so I suspect that Lin must have behaved inappropriately towards her," Hua Jianying added. "That is right!" said Xiaoyaozi. "Since, we, the Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain, are righteous men who love to set the injustices of society right, we will make sure that Lin Yulong suffers when we run into him!"

"Perhaps, the father of one of them was killed by the father of other," Chang Changfeng suggested. "But we do not know who is right and who is wrong. Damn, my foot is really painful right now!" As he reached down and rubbed his foot with a hand, Xiaoyaozi said, "That Lin fellow is ugly and ferocious. One look was all I needed to know that he is not the kindhearted sort. The Ren woman fights in a crude and rash manner, but her martial arts skills are definitely the orthodox type."

"Eldest Brother, you have divine insight and your words are reasonable," said Gai Yiming.

Chang Changfeng was about to argue his point when a loud voice sounded outside the forest: "When yellow gold pursues the hand, desire fades fast. Yesterday's bankruptcy makes the present court poor. What matters make man unfettered in vain? Perhaps it is better to burn the cloth on one's head...." A young bookish-looking fellow stepped softly into the forest, waving a folding fan gently as he walked along. Behind him, came a pageboy who toted a piece of luggage on his shoulder.

By then, Hua Jianying had used his fingers to pick up the tooth that had been knocked off. He was both angry and upset, so the sight of the scholar and his leisurely demeanour did not do anything to calm him down. Besides, the scholar was mumbling something about yellow gold and white silver, so Hua Jianying glanced at Gai Yiming, stepped forward and said, "Hey Scholar, what are you babbling about? The noise has given us headaches, so you had better compensate us quickly!"

The scholar was surprised at the appearance of the four men, but he managed to ask, "Dear Benevolent Brother, what should I compensate you for?"

"For giving the four of us headaches!" answered Gai Yiming. "A hundred liang of silver for each man, so the total is four hundred liang!"

The scholar stuck out his tongue and said, "How expensive! Even if it was the Emperor who was having a headache, he would not have needed that much silver to find a cure."

"What creature is the old emperor anyway?" Gai Yiming retorted. "How audacious of you to compare us to him! The deal cannot be used anymore, for this four hundred liang must be given an upward roll. The total is now eight hundred liang."

"That you, Benevolent Brother, are more honoured and valuable than the Emperor is indeed very admirable," said the scholar. "May I ask for your esteemed surname and given name, as well as your background?"

Chuckling, Gai Yiming replied: "My surname is Gai, and my given name is Yiming. People in the wanderers' world know me as Babu Ganchan - Saizhuanzhu - Taxue Wuhen - Dujiao Shuishangfei - Shuangchi Gai Qisheng, the Eight-Step Toad Chaser - Purposeful Competitor - Unmarked by the Avalanche - Flying over Water on One Foot - the Unparalleled Twin Splints in Seven Provinces. I am the fourth among the Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain."

The scholar clasped his fists together and held them up in salute. "I have heard about you for a long time, and am very pleased to meet you." Then, he turned to Hua Jianying and asked, "What about you, Benevolent Brother?"

Hua Jianying frowned and said: "Who has time to mix with you on intimate terms?" Pushing away the pageboy, he picked up his carrying pole, took one of the baskets hanging on it, weighed it in the hand, and happily repeating "very heavy" opened it. He looked inside and could not cool down his anger; actually the package was full of old books. Chang Changfeng shouted: "Pooh! It’s a waste!"

The scholar hurriedly said: "Benevolent Brother is wrong! Book of saints, how can it be a waste? There is a saying “A book holds a house of gold." [1] " Chang Changfeng asked: "There is gold in the book? These damaged books are worth one penny a pound, nobody wants them." Gai Yiming then took the other end of the carrying pole to open the other basket. There was nothing apart from common clothes, not even the slightest valuable thing. The Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain were exceedingly disappointed. The scholar observed: "Roaming the world in search of knowledge, to be able to meet you, four Benevolent Brothers, how fortunate I am? Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain are known to help those in distress, their chivalric behaviour is truly famous in Jianghu." [2]

Xiaoyaozi said: "You're quite right." The scholar answered to that: "Today I see brave heroes, I shall consider myself very lucky indeed. As it turns out, at present there is a certain matter which troubles me, I must ask the four heroes to grant me a favour of your assistance."

Xiaoyaozi said: "This is easy! We consider ourselves as heroes, if seeing other people facing difficulties we would not lend a hand, how could we still hold the name of heroes?"

The scholar repeatedly bowed to express his thanks. Gai Yiming asked: "Who bullied you?"

The scholar replied: "This thing I am ashamed to say, I'm afraid four elder brothers will laugh at me."

Hua Jianying, having sudden inspiration, said: "Ah, evil tyrant kidnapped your beautiful younger sister". The scholar shook his head:" No, I do not have a sister." Gai Yiming said: "Ah, local bully or corrupted official abducted your wife". The scholar again shook his head: "No, I'm not married, how can I have a wife?" Impatient, Chang Changfeng loudly asked: "What is the matter in the end?

Quickly say it." The scholar said: "In that case I will tell you, four heroes please don’t be offended."

Although the four called themselves Heroes of the Grand Mountain, yet no one in Jianghu have ever before addressed them with so much respect. At this moment, listening to the scholar’s speech, they all had the same thought and simultaneously said: "Quickly tell us, what difficult matter it is, Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain certainly will undertake to help you."

The scholar clasped his fists together and held them up in salute, then said: "Wandering in Jianghu, the gold in my little purse was exhausted, I only beg Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain to assist me with 10 ounces (liang) of silver. I thank you, four heroes, in advance. "

Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain could not help but frown together, speechless. They wanted to rob the scholar, using some words he managed to reverse the situation. The Palms that Break Stone Chang Changfeng patting his stomach, said loudly: "For a friend, a real man won’t even refuse to have both sides of his body pierced by knives, much less trivial 10 ounces of silver. Big Brother, Third Brother, Fourth Brother, take money out. I have here... " He put out a hand to his bosom to pull out a purse, but suddenly he stopped; actually his purse was empty, it contained not even one copper coin. Fortunately, Hua Jianying and Gai Yiming had a few pieces of silver, they both took it out and gave to the scholar. The scholar repeatedly bowed to express thanks, saying: "I will never forget your kindness, I hope that in future I will be able to repay this debt of gratitude". Taking the pageboy along with him, he disappeared in the forest.

He walked out of the woods, laughing, and the pageboy said: "This few ounces of silver, you are enjoying it, right?" As the pageboy, arranging disordered baggage, opened an old book, under a ray of setting sun there was a gold dazzle; actually numerous pieces of thin gold leaf were placed between the pages of the book. He observed, laughing: "Master told them that there was gold within, yet they did not to believe." [1] Allusion to Song Dynasty poem “There is no need for the rich to buy land, as plenty of food can be found in books. There is no need to invest in building a good house, as golden house can be found in books.”

[2] There is a good explanation of what Jianghu, Lu Lin and Wu Lin are in Faerie Queene’s translation of “Legend of the White Haired Maiden”. I will take the liberty of quoting it here: “(...) “Lu Lin” is usually in reference to the underworld fraternity of thieves, bandits, outlaws and smugglers. The term sometimes carries undertones of the bandits robbing for good and charitable causes. Lu Lin should be differentiated from the term “Wu Lin” which is usually translated as the “martial arts world” referring to the world of martial art sects and masters. Another commonly used term “Jiang Hu” is in reference to both the underground and martial arts world as well as other secret societies/associations/clans etc.” Huang Yushi in the first part of this novel translated Jianghu as "wanderer's world".

Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain tried to steal a chicken only to end up losing the rice, but that gallant act, contrary to what one might expected, have made them happy. Gai Yiming said: "With this scholar roaming the world, we will be able to spread the name of Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain..." He has not finished speaking, when sound of bell and horse’s hooves was being heard from the south.

Xiaoyaozi said: "Brothers, listen to this horse running very fast, it is an extraordinary steed. No matter how, we have to capture this horse; if its owner has no other treasures, his horse alone can be regarded as a gift. Gai Yiming said: "Eldest Brother, you have divine insight and your words are reasonable". Hurriedly untying his belt, he said: "Quick, untie your belts, let’s form a rope!" He immediately joined four belts and was about to stretch them between two trees when the horse has ran into the forest.

Seeing traveller, four person crouching on the ground immediately pulled the rope. Startled, the raider reined a horse and asked: "What are you doing?" Gai Yiming answered: "An horse-tripping rope, my child..." He has not finished his sentence, when he realized that something was wrong. Turning around, he saw immediately that the traveller was a beautiful girl. The girl asked: “Why are you doing horse-tripping rope?” Gai Yiming stood upright, flicked the dust from his body and said: "To catch your horse! Well, since you already know, a horse-tripping rope is not needed anymore. You obediently dismount, leave the horse and you may go. We, Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain, must not bully a single woman, that would brought us a bad name." The girl smiled and said: "You want me to leave my horse, are you not bullying me?" Gai Yiming, stumbling said: "Well ... that’s true." Xiaoyaozi said: "We are not bullying you, we are just bullying your horse.

It’s only an animal, isn’t it?” He saw the horse’s tall body,

bright oily hair; it seemed to be divine spirited horse. Together with the golden and silver bells and a saddle, is was already worth a lot of money. The more he looked at it, the more he liked it. Gai Yiming said: "Yes, the Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain are Jianghu top pugilists, we cannot make things difficult for women and children. You just stay mounted, we must not touch one hair on you. To think, I, Toad Chaser - Purposeful Competitor - Unmarked by the Avalanche... ” Covering her ears the girl hurriedly said "Say no more, say no more. You do not know who I am, I do not know who you are, right? "Gai Yiming said: "Ah, yes! But why you don’t want to know?". The girl smiled: "Since we are not acquainted, if I offend you, my dad cannot blame me. Well, good bold thief, four of you come together!" In a flash, four men saw that the girl’s hands were already holding a pair of swords and her power was such, that it created wind. She moved her horse forward and bent herself; with her right hand she cut off horse-tripping rope, while the sword in her left hand immediately went towards Gai Yiming’s head to cut it off. Gai Yiming shouted "Noble men do not fight with women! there is no need to hit...” Seeing white flash and realizing that long sword has been directed towards his face, he hastily raised his steel stick. A clang of metal was heard as the weapons intersected. But there was enormous power beneath the girl’s swords; Gai Yiming was unable to hold a grasp of his weapon and it immediately flew ten feet high and ended hooked to a big tree's branch.

Hua Jianying and Chang Changfeng rushed together into the fight from a side, but the girl on a horseback was chopping continuously with her swords to the left and to the right; both Hua and Chang were unable to ward off. The girl saw the stone tablet in the hands of Chang Changfeng, she found it very strange and asked: "Hey, big man, what is the thing you hold?" Chang Changfeng answered: "This is the legendary Chang’s weapon, not like one of 18 typical martial arts weapons, ah... whoops!" The girl reversed long sword and used back of the blade to strike his wrist. Chang Changfeng suffered a strong pain and dropped his legendary weapon; as it happened, unfortunately the tablet landed on a previously injured, swollen toe.

Xiaoyaozi, seeing the situation was not good, took his pipe and went forward, attacking on a flank. His pipe had been made from fine iron and it could be used in a fight in the same manner as a Judge's Pen, but his knowledge of the location of various acupoints was not very precise and he was erroneously attacking the wrong spots. Seeing this, the girl inwardly laughed; to expose the slip in his theory, she let him touch with his pipe the spot in the middle of her left leg. She only felt slight pain and asked him loudly: "Sickly ghost, what is the spot you point?" said: "This is the zhòng dú[1]acupoint, touching it causes knee paralysis, the four limbs of the body are becoming numb, aren’t you unable to strike me back?" The girl laughing observed: "This acupoint is not here, it’s two inches to the left." Xiaoyaozi stared blankly and said: “To the left? Unlikely.” He extended his pipe, intending once again to touch the same spot. The girl’s sword chopped downwards, hit his pipe making it fall to the ground, following which she took both swords with her right hand, while at the same time her left hand grabbed Xiaoyaozi by the neck. She pressed gently the horse’s belly, the horse gave a long neigh and flew out of the forest.

[1] on the lateral aspect of the thigh

The girl rode away holding Xiaoyaozi by the back of his neck. His whole body was paralysed, his limbs numb, feeling like if he was tied and unable to do anything about it. The remaining Heroes of the Grand Mountain shouted: "Things are tense!" Wanting to sell their lives dearly, they chased with all their might after her. Soon the horse went many lis [1] away.

Xiaoyaozi’s both feet were dragging along the ground and got severely scratched, so now they were dripping with blood. He said: "You grabbed my fēng chí[2]acupoint, which is the meeting point of the Yang Motility and Yang Linking Vessels, it is not surprising that I am unable to move. A fight is not a crime, although I’m defeated, it’s still a glorious defeat." The girl giggled, reined the horse and throwing him to the ground, said: "You must admit, that your acupoints technique failed!" Then she suddenly sneered and drawing a sword to his neck, shouted: "You are rude towards women, you have to be killed!" Xiaoyaozi sighed and said: "All right! But you better pierce my tiānzhù[3]acupoint with your sword, kill me with the sword and spare me much pain!"

The girl could not help but laugh, thinking that this ghost even when facing death is still studying acupoints. She decided: “I will scare him to see what kind of person he is”, thus she pressed with swords’ blade the point at his neck, between the tiānzhù and fēng chí acupoints, and said: "It’s here." Xiaoyaozi shouted: "No, no, Miss is wrong, it’s still half an inch up..."At this moment there came three flustered men, shouting: "Miss, kill the three of us as well..." It was Chang Changfeng and the other two heroes. The girl asked: “Why did you deliver yourselves to be killed?” Gai Yiming replied: “Although The Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain were not born the same day of the same year, we hope to die the same day of the same year. If Miss kills my elder brother, we three brothers are unwilling to live alone, so please, Miss, kill us together. If anyone of us bats an eyelid, he will not be considered a hero!" While talking he walked beside Xiaoyaozi, were he stopped, stretching his neck to be killed. The girl hold her sword in midair, as if intending to cut down, Gai Yiming smiled, not trying to sidestep. The girl said: "Good! The martial arts skills of you four people are ordinary, but your spirit of loyalty is great, be regarded as a good guys, I spare you." She put the sword in sheath.

Four heroes were pleasantly surprised and very grateful. Gai Yiming asked: "Miss, may I ask your name? We, Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain, will certainly never forget your kindness and will try to repay it in the future." The girl, hearing that he was still referring to themselves "The Four Heroes of the Grand Mountain" without the slightest degree of shame, could not help but smiled again and said: "Do not ask my name. However, I must ask you, why did you try to rob my horse?" Gai Yiming said: "Tenth day in March this year, is the 50 birthday of Jinyang’s [4] hero Xiao Banhe..." When the girl heard the name of Xiao Banhe, she asked startled: "You know old hero Xiao?" Gai Yiming explained: "We do not know old hero Xiao, but we have always admired his fame, therefore we went to take part in his 50 birthday celebration. I am ashamed to say, we four brothers have no gift to present, so it ... by ... this ... " The girl laughed: "So you wanted to take my horse to be a gift. Ah, it’s easy." She took a golden hairpin from her head and said: "In this golden hairpin there is a very expensive pearl; take it as a gift for birthday celebration, old hero Xiao will surely like it." She loosened horse’s rein and in an instant was far gone.

Gai Yiming held the hairpin in his hand; there was a big round pearl on top of it, glistening with a rare bright lustre. Although four heroes didn’t know much about jewellery, but they were aware, that it was a rare treasure. Four heroes staring blankly at the pearl were endlessly happy. Xiaoyaozi said: "I like this bold and generous girl." Gai Yiming said: "Eldest Brother, you have divine insight and your words are reasonable."

[1] li=500 meters

[2] on the lateral aspect of the neck (towards the back) [3]at the back of the neck (the upper part of it)

[4]Jinyang, present day Taiyuan, a city in Shanxi province, near Fen river.

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