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Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain Chapter 5.3 Message

Chapter 5.3 Message 

Everybody began to show concern for Quad's safety. Quad, nonetheless, remained placid and utterly fearless, as if he had hidden resources.

Eventually, he continued his story: "I was standing on the other side of

Yama's window when Master Gully and Yama were talking inside. I did not mean to eavesdrop on Master Gully. But knowing that the osteopath had

always ingratiated himself with Zhao, the rich landlord who had trampled on my parents, I believed that he was not a decent fellow either, and he might do Master Gully harm. As I was quite young and not well educated, much of what Master Gully told Yama was beyond me. However, I registered carefully every sentence in my memory. As I grew older, I gradually learned to grasp fully the significance of their conversation.

"That evening, Master Gully instructed Yama to furnish the Gilt-faced

Buddha with explanations of three different issues. The first was the root of the vendetta sworn by the ancestors of the four families. The second was

about the circumstances surrounding the death of the fathers of the Gilt- faced Buddha and Tian the Young Master. The third concerned the Dashing King's poniard."

The Company all turned their heads around and fixed their gaze on the poniard lying on the table, growing increasingly anxious to get to the heart of the matter.

Quad again continued, "Miss Miao has told you the reason why the forefathers of the four families had pursued the vendetta in previous ages.

However, a great secret was shrouded in this matter, which has been concealed from everyone. Even Phoenix the Knight-errant, until the present, has been kept in the dark.

"The incident took place in the second year of the Reign of Yongchang in the Dashun Dynasty of the Dashing King, being the year Yi You, or the

second year during the Reign of Emperor Shunzhi under the Tartar rule. In that year, the forefathers of the four families pledged that, should the

Manchu Dynasty survive, the secret should be held back for one hundred years, and could only be divulged in the year Yi Chou, being the tenth year during the Reign of Emperor Qianlong, which was some thirty years ago. It was assumed, twenty-seven years ago, when Master Gully entrusted Yama with the mission, that the one-hundred-year period had already expired. There was no further need for not divulging the secret.

"This secret indeed carried an implication of enormous consequence: the Dashing King had stayed alive after his enemies had besieged Jiugong


This sudden pronouncement caused everyone to jump from their seats. "Really?" cried out the Company in unison.

Tree alone remained complacent in his seat, wholly unaffected. He had apparently learned about this secret some time before.

After a few moments, Quad went on, "The Dashing King had indeed survived the siege on Jiugong Mountain. On that eventful day, he was

surrounded on all sides by the Manchu army, making it wholly impossible for him to effect an escape. His three myrmidons, Miao, Fan and Tian, fought their way down the mountain, in an attempt to raise support

elsewhere. A long time had elapsed, and no reinforcements were forthcoming. The enemies were gaining momentum and were closing in. The Dashing King's army officers were killed in great numbers, and many soldiers were sorely wounded. They were destined for defeat. The

disastrous situation brought the ruler to despair. As he was about to raise his poniard to slash it across his throat, he was prevented at the last moment by his myrmidon Hu, known also as Lynx of the Sky.

"Lynx suddenly had an idea. He picked from the pile of dead bodies one whose build matched his Master's. After slipping the russet imperial robe and the king's hauberk onto the dead body, Lynx hung the imperial seal

around its neck and showered blow after blow on its face, mangling its features beyond recognition. Lynx next flung the corpse on his back, reported to the Manchu camp, and gave himself up to the Tartar army, informing them that he had slaughtered the Dashing King and had come

expressly to claim his credit and reward. This would indeed have been a job well executed, meriting measureless credit. Those reporting this case would certainly be rewarded by a soaring rank and a mounting fortune. No one in the least suspected the true identity of the body. If anyone had, he would have taken great pains to cover it up in order to claim credit and gain

advancement himself. The enemies ended the siege of Jiugong Mountain the same day that the death of the false Dashing King was announced. By then, the real Dashing King had already disguised himself as a commoner, and easily made his way down the mountain. So the Dashing King did escape his fate, but only at the expense of dooming Lynx of the Sky, his most trusted myrmidon.

"Lynx had exhausted his wits in coming up with such a scrupulously

well-intentioned plan. Among the outlawry, fighters quite commonly take up arms for Brother-at-Arms in the name of the Chivalric Code and

Righteousness. In his attempt to effect the rescue of the Dashing King, Lynx was obliged to humble himself by surrendering to the enemies, bringing on himself the unfounded disgrace of having sold his Master for his own

selfish gains. In former days, Lynx of the Sky had always been spoken of with awe by the Martial Brotherhood. The very mention of his sobriquet would invariably induce the fighters to turn up their thumbs and sing his praises: 'He is an excellent fellow!' It must have caused Lynx anguish to taint his name forever instead of placing himself in the ranks of righteousness.

"Lynx pretended to give himself up to Wu Sangui, the traitor. He was given an official rank. Lynx soon won the confidence of Wu for he was considered daring, resourceful and cunning. He felt that he would not

qualify as a True Hero if he merely sat by and watched the Dashing King's Dashun Dynasty slip into the hands of Wu. He vowed to avenge the wrong. He needed to stir only a finger to have Wu assassinated. Being as clever as he was, Lynx designed a plan well in advance, unwilling to let Wu get away so easily. In the course of several years, he devised an ingenious and impeccable scheme, drawing on all his wits. He laid the ground for a number of incidents which would eventually contribute to Wu's demise. He tried to increase the Manchu Emperor's suspicion of Wu, while at the same time attempting also to inculcate a feeling of anxiety in Wu, feeling assured that the plotting of a revolt by Wu would then be inevitable. Lynx informed the Imperial Government that Wu was mobilizing forces in the Yunnan Province and that he was rampantly defying authority; at the same time he was feeding Wu with information based on his spying on the various

checking and preventive measures being taken by the Manchu Court.

"It was held that within a matter of years, Wu would definitely turn his back on the Royal House, sparking off uprisings across the kingdom and depleting the strength of the sovereignty. This would provide the Dashing King with a timely opportunity to stage a coup and return. Even if Wu's rebellion were swiftly put down and the Dashing King failed also to restore his sway in the end, Wu and all his clansmen would certainly perish, which, in itself, had more to recommend it than taking just Wu's life.

"At the time when his three sworn Brothers, Miao, Fan and Tian, journeyed to Kunming, to attempt to murder the traitorous Wu, Lynx had

already ripened his scheme, and was ready to reap the harvest. Hence Lynx, at the critical moment, barred his three sworn Brothers from executing their own plan, lest his own should fail completely.

"In the same year, on the fifteenth day of the third moon, Lynx and his three sworn Brothers were drinking in the Immense Pool. As he was about to confess to them both that the Dashing King was still alive and that Wu was about to rise against the Manchu Court, the three sworn Brothers, dreading his prowess, and thus not daring to spare him another minute,

seized upon him and dispatched him on the spot. While Lynx was breathing his last, he blurted out, with tears rolling down his face, 'It is a shame that I can never deal with the major issue.' This then was the major issue to which he was referring. Lynx went on to tell the three myrmidons, 'At the Crag

Canyon, the Generalissimo.' He was, in fact, referring to the Dashing King's call to monkhood in the Monastery of Benevolence at the Crag Canyon.

The name assumed by him when he took the Buddhist vow was Kino of the Heavenly Mandate. The Dashing King lived to the ripe age of seventy and passed away in the second moon of the year Jia Chen, during the reign of Emperor Kangxi. When the Dashing King staged his coup, he resumed the title 'the Generalissimo of the Heavenly Mandate Uprising'. The name

assumed by the Dashing King when he renounced the world should really read 'King of the Heavenly Mandate'. As he wished to live incognito, he changed the 'g' in 'King' to 'o' to give him the new title 'Kino'."

From the story rendered by Orchid, the Company gathered the impression that Lynx was vile and malicious. Never could they imagine that, hidden in the account, was a secret of resounding consequence. They found it difficult to credit, as the event had taken too strange a turn.

The expressions on their faces told Quad that the Company was not yet wholly convinced by his words, as did the startled look on Orchid's face. Quad, therefore, pursued his account in this way: "Miss Miao, a while ago you mentioned that, on the fifteenth day of the third moon, Lynx's heir presented himself at the residence of his sworn Uncles. He talked to them for a short while in a secluded nook. The minute the three myrmidons

emerged from the room, they each slashed their blades across their throats. What kind of conversation do you think they could have had while in the nook?"

To this, Orchid replied, "Could Lynx's son have related to the three myrmidons the pains taken by his father in devising his scheme?"

Quad answered most approvingly, "You are right. If the three myrmidons had not regretted having wrongly taken the life of their sworn Brother,

would they have slit their own throats in public? The Dashing King was still alive at the time and the secret had to remain concealed. It is a pity that these three boorish fellows had once again been blinded by their sense of loyalty and the code of chivalry. Taking the life of their sworn Brother was already one fatal mistake, and taking their own lives without leaving word with their children that Lynx's son should not be made to suffer for it, was

another irredeemable mistake. At that moment, they must have been so deeply drowned in their own sorrow and remorse that they simply overlooked everything else. Ever since then, the animus incurred by the four families was to pass on by ancestral transmission to the progeny of each of the four families.

"Inside the private room, the son of Lynx of the Sky told his three sworn Uncles that this secret could only be divulged after a hundred years, in the year Yi Chou. By that year, the Dashing King would have passed away,

even if he were destined to live to a great age. If the secret had been divulged too soon, the Manchu Court would certainly have conducted a massive search, which would have again put the Dashing King's life into jeopardy. The Hu Family has known this secret for a long time, but the other three families had not. By the time the secret was handed down to Master Gully of the Hu Family, the one-hundred-year period had expired.

This allowed him to dispatch Yama, the osteopath, to the Gilt-faced Buddha with an explanation.

"The second message, which Yama was to convey to Phoenix, concerned the circumstances surrounding the death of the fathers of the Gilt-faced

Buddha and Tian the Young Master. These two elders never returned after making a journey to the land beyond the Pass one year earlier. Their loss was reported some ten years before Master Gully and Phoenix the Knight- errant challenged each other to a duel. "The two elders were both adept fighters, spoken of with awe by their

Brothers-at-Arms. As their sudden disappearance was shrouded in mystery, it was held that the person who dispatched them must be a renowned

warrior. Master Gully's usual domicile was the land beyond the Pass. His family was an inveterate enemy of the Miao and Tian Families. It therefore did not take anyone long to come to the conclusion that Master Gully was the culprit. For ten years or so before the incident in question, the Gilt-faced Buddha and Tian the Young Master had been making enquiries through the length and breadth of the country, but all to no avail. They failed even to make the acquaintance of Master Gully. Finally, the Gilt-faced Buddha's last ploy was to boast that his sobriquet was the Invincible Under the Sky.

He hoped thus to taunt Master Gully into journeying from beyond the Pass. His enemy read his intention, and therefore did not pay heed to it.

Meanwhile, Master Gully continued to travel far and wide in search of the two old ones, Miao and Tian. Only by locating them could he then hope to meet the Gilt-faced Buddha in person and prove his innocence.

"Where there is a will, there is a way. After carrying out a reconnaissance for years, Master Gully finally succeeded in obtaining information about these two. By that time, his wife was already with child. She was a Southerner. She suddenly felt terribly homesick as she neared her delivery day. Being an affectionate and loving husband, Master Gully therefore

accompanied her on the trip to the South. When he arrived at the town of Tang, he was challenged to a duel by Fan the Ringleader and Tian the Young Master. Later, he was challenged to another fight by the Gilt-faced Buddha.

"When Master Gully dispatched Yama on his mission, he wished the

Gilt-faced Buddha to know that soon after he had escorted his wife back to her village of origin, he would take him to retrieve the body of his father in person, so that Phoenix the knight-errant could gain first-hand information concerning the circumstances surrounding his death. The two seniors, Miao and Tian, had died in such disgrace that Master Gully felt it would be

wrong to recount the circumstances to their heirs in person; the best way was to take them to the site and let them discover the truth for themselves.

"The third part of the message that Yama was to take to Phoenix was

about the poniard once wielded by the Dashing King. This poniard houses an enormous treasure. Needless to say, there is both gold and silver, as well as countless numbers of precious stones and prize jewellery."

The Company was greatly surprised on hearing this. It seemed to them that the poniard did not even have room for a tiny ingot, so how could there be room to house a countless number of precious stones and prize jewellery?

Quad carried on with his story: "That evening, Master Gully explained to Yama everything in connection with the treasure. You will be surprised if you listen to what I shall tell you next.

"After the Dashing King had taken the capital, the Imperial Court of the Ming Dynasty, families of the Royal Household, ranking vassals, and army generals soon surrendered. These people had all led lives of wealth and luxury. The Dashing King's military officers decreed that they should relinquish their fortunes as ransom. Within a few days, the treasure poured in in heaps and piles, its worth reaching an astonishing figure. Later, when the Dashing King withdrew from the capital, he commissioned his trusted army leaders to convey the treasure to a secure place for concealment. He had been intending to use this priceless possession for maintaining and rewarding his followers to attempt an eventual come-back. He drew the hiding place for the treasure on a map and locked the key to decipher the map in the poniard. Before making his escape from Jiugong Mountain, the Dashing King handed both the map and the poniard to his myrmidon, Lynx of the Sky. When Lynx was killed, the map and the poniard then found themselves transferred into the hands of his sworn Brothers. Not long after this, Lynx's heir regained possession of these two articles by force.

"In the course of the past hundred or so years, and in the course of the ensuing battles, these two objects kept changing owners. The poniard

eventually remained in the safekeeping of the Tian Family of the Dragon Lodge, while the map became an heirloom of the Miao Family. Neither families knew that a great secret was hidden in each of their possessions. Hence, no attempt was ever made to retrieve the hidden treasure. Though this secret was known to members of the Hu Family who had been passing

it down from generation to generation, they, likewise, could not recover the lost treasure as they had in their possession neither the map nor the poniard. "Master Gully furnished the Gilt-faced Buddha with information about

the hidden treasure, asking him to retrieve the goods of value and distribute them as alms to all the poor. He even suggested staging a revolt using this fortune, to drive the Manchus beyond the Pass, and then returning the rule of China to the Hans.

"Each of the three secrets Master Gully entrusted to Yama for transmission to the Gilt-faced Buddha carried an implication of great consequence. Master Gully was baffled, until death, by the Gilt-faced

Buddha's insisting on challenging him to a duel and coming to grapple with him, even after his having divulged all the secrets. The Gilt-faced Buddha might have, after all, assumed the title of a knight-errant in vain, as he failed even to distinguish right from wrong; or, he might have refused to

credit any of the three strange messages. To him, perhaps, all the events

seemed too strange to believe." When Quad reached this part of the story, he heaved a heavy sigh.

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