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Laughter of the Sword God Chapter 11

CSI

Part 2 Ximen Chuixue

Even though there is no sword in his hand, it won’t give him any problem, because his body and his sword have dissolved into one entity; as long as the person exist, all things in the universe are his sword.

Chapter 11 – Sword legend in the evening rain on Mount Ba[1]

(One)

Spring night, spring rain, Mount Ba.

Night rains in the spring are always depressing, especially on Mount Ba, where desolate mountain range, sloping stony path, were covered with moss as dark as splashing ink. How many miserable memories of seniors and famous heroes were buried underneath the traces of the moss? How many spring flowers have become spring muds before they even bloomed?

There was a line of footprints on the spring mud, the footprints that were made after the last night’s rain had stopped.

There was another rain tonight.

Behind the hazy, misty air of the night rain, at the end of the stony path, there was a Taoist temple. The joss stick had long gone, traces of human had also long gone, the awe-inspiring, thunderous sword aura of the olden days, had never been seen again for who knows how long.

Since the Mount Ba’s swordsman Taoist Gu of old, whose ‘seven by seven, forty-nine hands turning-the-wind, dancing-the-willow sword’ fame shook the earth, disappeared into the thin air – perhaps he had reached immortality – his disciples also scattered in all directions.

This Taoist temple, which was once revered by young people, who were infatuated with swordsmanship, as a sacred place, gradually became desolate. What’s left was only an empty memory of some mythical legend and some moss-covered sword marks.

But over the past couple of years, at nights when the sky was clear and the moon was shining, the neighboring hunters often saw what seemed to be the faint light of an arc lantern inside the temple.

When there was a lantern, there must be people.

Question is: who were those people who came back to this place? And why?

(Two)

It was raining this late at night, the arc lantern was lit. A man sitting alone under the lamp; he did not look like a Mount Ba School’s disciple, neither was he a Taoist priest.

The person who had lived for two years in this lonely, deserted Taoist temple on this mountain was unexpectedly a Buddhist monk.

A monk that could often pass several days without eating, a monk that could often pass several months without taking a bath. A monk that even could even pass several years without speaking.

But tonight, unexpectedly there were two people coming to this temple.

The two people seemed to have similar built, wearing two similar black coats, and two similar black felt hats. The hats had a very wide brim, and were worn very low, so that the hats were covering their faces.

Walking up the sloping stony path to this place, nobody knew how many fallen flowers they trampled that the flowers turned into spring mud. One of the two appeared to be already very tired, the other person had to stop frequently to wait for him.

When they were still several dozen zhang away, the monk sitting under the lantern already knew their arrival.

But the monk did not move.

Although the flame flickered incessantly, the monk did not move at all; he did not show the least bit of reaction. Even after the two people crossed the courtyard in front of the Taoist temple compound and reached the small cottage where he was, the monk did not show any reaction. This monk was not old, yet he has already entered the depth of meditation.

There was no response to the knock on the door; the two people braving the rain to climb the mountain could only push the door open by themselves.

Although the lantern was not too bright, it was enough to illuminate these two persons; it illuminated their mouth and forehead under the shadow of the brim of the hat.

Both persons had very pointy forehead, yet the lines were very soft. The outlines of their mouth were even more well-developed, gentle and beautiful.

Only women would have such mouths. And women who had this kind of mouth, no doubt were exceptionally attractive.

Two beautiful women, went up Mount Ba in the night rain, to visit a monk who meditated like an old monk.

Were they mad? Was there anything wrong with them?

If they were not mad, and there was nothing wrong with them, then there must be an unusually good reason, plus it must be for an unusually grave matter.

Two gorgeous women braved the rain across desolate mountain to visit a wretched monk, for what reason?

Two pretty women came looking for a monk, what could happen?

(Three)

The monk, who was not yet old, was still sitting in meditation.

The woman, who walked a bit faster, whose physical strength seemed better, whose stature was a bit taller, reached out with her snow white hand, using a movement that was almost more graceful than dancing, to take off the felt hat from her head. With a fluid movement, the raindrops dripped down off the hat, under the lantern light, the water drops looked like a strand of shining pearls. Her long hair that was originally kept inside the hat also flowed down like rain, covering half of her face, while at the same time exposing the other half.

Pitch-black, long and thin eyebrows, bright and beautiful eyes, a hint of smile at the corner of her mouth; spring has indeed returned to earth.

The monk’s eyes were fixed on his nose, his nose was looking at his heart; practically, he did not seem to see the women in front of him.

But she seemed to be very familiar with the monk, furthermore, she spoke to him in a very intimate manner, “Monk, others say you are honest. If there are only ten thousand people on earth, there are at least nine thousand nine hundred and ninety nine people who say that you are honest.”

The woman said, “But, as I see it, you monk, are not honest. Not the least bit.”

The woman’s stature was slender and graceful, plus she was charming, each movement was gentle, soft and beautiful. Only an exceptionally educated family of nobility would produce such a graceful bearing.

But when she talked to this mysterious and strange impoverished monk, she suddenly acted as if she was a little nun who was used to fooling around all day long in front of this monk.

Finally the monk could not help opening his mouth, “Which part of me is not honest?”

“You tell others that you were going to Mount Wutai to shut yourself up, yet you sneakily went to a Taoist monastery. I went up to heaven and down to Hades to look for you, and had spent more than a month before I finally find you.” She said, “Tell me, aren’t you the least bit honest?”

The monk sighed, “Why are you looking for the monk?” With a pained expression on his face he said, “Monk does not even eat meat soup [routang].”

This girl was unexpectedly the Miss Niu [lit. cow], who for the past few years was famous in Jianghu for her mischief and creating trouble, the Niu Routang [Beef Soup].

Recently, people also gave her another nickname, ‘Cowhide Candy’ [niu pi tang (different character)] behind her back.

“Actually, you ought to know that when I am looking for you, there can’t be any good thing.”

“Amituofo, Monk only wishes that you are looking for me this time, it is not for a bad thing.”

“Not only not bad, it is actually very good.”

“Oh?”

“I am looking for you this time, it is to help you upholding yiqi toward your true friend, which is what you guys are saying: cultivate great achievements and virtue.” Miss Niu said, “If you do this kind of things a couple times more often, you will become a luohan [arhat] earlier.”

“What luohan? Chicken-finder luohan?”

Miss Niu winked and giggled, “What’s wrong with chicken-finder luohan? Big or small they are still luohan, no need to be vanquishing-dragons-and-tigers luohan.”

With a bitter laugh the monk said, “Big Miss Niu, can you spare me this time? Do you think Monk really does not know why you came to see me?”

“Do you?”

“Even if I am thinking with my buttocks I can still figure out that it must be because of your Lu Xiaofeng has disappeared, hence you want Monk to go looking for him.” The monk said, “Too bad Monk can no longer do this kind of foolish thing of yours.”

Miss Niu’s expression suddenly turned very serious, plus she seemed to have an unspeakable difficulty. “You did not guess wrong, Lu Xiaofeng indeed has disappeared, but the circumstances around this matter is different than in the past.”

“What’s the difference?”

“This time, he had no quarrel with me, and it is not for the sake of other women either.” Miss Niu said, “Before he left this time, he still met with me once, saying that because a good friend suddenly went missing, he wanted to travel to borderland to look for him; also, there is good possibility that he will be in danger.”

She looked as if she was about to cry, “At first I was determined to come with him, who would have thought that he sneakily left alone. Once he was gone, there is no more news about him. Tell me, won’t that worry me to death?”

“No worry, no worry at all,” the monk very slowly said, “Monk has done some fortune telling for him, he won’t die.”

“No matter what, you must go to look for him.”

“Why?”

“Because you are his good friend.” Miss Niu said, “Who in Jianghu did not know that Honest Monk is Lu Xiaoji’s [little chicken] good friend? He is in danger, if you don’t go looking for him, won’t people laugh at you to their death?”

Unexpectedly, this monk was the number one wandering hero of the Buddhism, the world famous Honest Monk.

It was said that he had never said a single lie in his life, but if there is anyone who wanted to force him to tell the truth, very soon that person might not be able to speak anymore.

It was said that one time he was crossing the Yellow River on boat, and happened to come across a robbery. He said that his pocket was as empty as if it was just being washed, the robbers believed him. After the robbers left, he ran after them and confessed that he had been lying, and handed over the little money he had to them. The next morning, those pirates suddenly died in their den without any rhyme or reasons.

The stories around this monk are indeed not a few, plus they are very interesting. Too bad our story this time is not about him.

When Big Miss Niu said she wanted to move someone, she really could resurrect a dead man. But Honest Monk did not seem to hear even one word of what she said.

“Whatever you say is useless, besides, this time Monk has already eaten steel chain, I bind my heart that when I say I won’t go, then I won’t go.”

“Are you telling the truth?”

“It’s the truth.”

“Not a lie?”

“Not a lie.”

Miss Niu sighed. “In that case, I have no choice but to tell you a story.”

And her story went like this: “There was once a monk, people say that he is annoyingly honest, and has never touched meat and fish, let alone getting close to female charms. When he came across women, he did not even dare to cast a single glance, because if he looked, he would at least look seven, eight hundred times.”

“Once upon a time, he unexpectedly talked to a woman about feeling, discussing love. The girl was called Xiao Douzi [lit. little red bean].”

“This little girl’s lot in life was really pitiful, she grew up in a pleasure house. Her body was weak, and she had some illness, therefore, this very-honest Monk of ours took great pity on her, he felt sorry for her.”

“Pitying her was not a big deal, the big deal was that from pity love grew, and once love sprouted, there was no end in sight.”

“His only regret was that he was a monk, and a poor one at that, he couldn’t possibly fool around with several thousand taels of silver to redeem a pleasure house woman, let alone blatantly snatch her away from the brothel.”

“Therefore, this passionate monk had no choice but to quietly keep his regret inside and leave, to hide in a place where he thought nobody else would be able to find him, to yearn in sorrow, to repent from his feeling.”

Speaking to this point, Beef Soup paused for a moment; staring at Honest Monk, she asked, “What do you say, isn’t this story interesting?”

Listening to this point, Honest Monk’s already panic expression turned even paler that not the least bit trace of blood remained. After a long, long time he finally replied, “Not interesting.”

“I didn’t think it was interesting either.” Miss Niu said, “Such a sad story, I don’t like to hear it either.”

She sighed. “But this is a true story, the people are real, the story is real.”

“Oh?”

Miss Niu stared at the monk for another half a day. Suddenly she asked, “Do you know who the monk is in this story?”

“I … I do.”

“Well, tell me.”

Sweats started to appear on Honest Monk’s forehead, but he still struggled to answer, “The monk in this story was me.”

Miss Niu smiled; she sighed, “No matter what, Honest Monk really deserves to be called Honest Monk, he indeed never tells a lie.”

Suddenly she pulled the other woman dressed in black cape to Honest Monk’s presence, and took her felt hat off of her, revealing a delicate and pretty, thin and weak, lovely and touching face; the cheeks were already wet with tears.

“Look here, who is she?”

Honest Monk stared blankly.

Naturally he knew who she was; until the heaven becomes desolate and the earth turns old, until the moon wanes and the stars fall, it’s impossible for him not to know her.

Xiao Douzi, how can it be you?

Xiao Douzi’s tears were as big as beans.

Looking at their expressions, Miss Niu wanted to laugh, but she simply could not laugh.

So much so that she was thinking of leaving, leaving far away, so that they could be alone, sharing their thoughts with each other.

Who would have thought that Honest Monk called out to her instead, “I also have something I want to show you.”

“What is it?”

Honest Monk did not reply, he merely slowly lifted up his old, worn, and several-sizes-too-big monk robe, revealing a pair of legs.

Beef Soup was dumbfounded.

The legs she saw already did not look like legs, but a pair of snapped off dried up branch. Not only they looked thin and weak, practically the legs had already shriveled and degenerated.

Even more surprising, the ankles of these legs were locked with an extremely thick iron chains.

“The lock is ‘exquisite crystal’ made by Qi Qiao Tang [lit. hall of seven skillful], I have thrown the key to the valley below. No one else on this earth is able to open it.” The monk said, “At the foot of the mountain there is a woodcutter who deliver a bowl of rice and vegetable, and a bottle of water, every day.”

Miss Niu could not resist asking, “Why did you do this?”

But she also knew that not only this question should not be asked, asking it would be unnecessary.

A lone man under a lantern in evening rain on Mount Ba [see note on title], yet his heart was by a pitiful woman under red lanterns and green wine [idiom, meaning ‘feasting and pleasure seeking’ or ‘debauched and corrupt environment’]; how could he control himself? How could he stop himself from seeing her?

A man who has never experience passion, once his passion is aroused, it will get out of hand very fast, a sudden outbreak of emotion like flash flood from the mountain; who can control it?

After all, Honest Monk was still a human being, furthermore, he was a Jianghu man; if it is difficult for even ‘taishang’ [title of respects for Taoists] to escape being moved by sentiments, much less Jianghu people?

Therefore, he could only use this kind of method to lock himself up, so he could avoid making mistake.

Big Miss Niu’s eyes were moist. In such circumstance, what else could she say? She could only leave.

Who would have thought that Honest Monk called out again? Naturally now he could not accompany her looking for Lu Xiaofeng, even if he left, he could not save Lu Xiaofeng. He could only tell Beef Soup, “Although Lu Xiaofeng loves to fool around with happy face, sometimes even talks a bunch of nonsense, but sometimes he could also speak one or two sincere words.”

Honest Monk said, “There was one time when he was drunk he said something that until today I cannot forget.”

“What did he say?”

“He said, only in front of one person he did not dare to talk rubbish.”

“Why?”

“Because in this world, only this one person is capable of killing him.” The Monk said, “If he ever face a real danger, only this one person is capable of saving him.”

“Who is this person?”

“Ximen Chuixue.”

(Four)

Ximen Chuixue, with clothes as white as snow, with heart also as cold as snow. [Reminder: ‘chui xue’ means ‘blowing snow’.]

It seemed that in all his life, he has never loved anybody. Even if he did, it has already become a sad past, something that he could not bear to remember.

He did not have any relative, he had no friend either, so much so that he did not even have any enemy. Other than ‘sword’, in this world he had nothing at all.

This kind of man, what could possibly move him?

“I know that one time, just so that he could test Lu Xiaofeng’s fingers, whether those two fingers could clamp his sword, he was ready to decide life and death with Lu Xiaofeng in split second.” Miss Niu said, “He did not even hesitate to have Lu Xiaofeng die under his sword.”

“I also heard about it,” Honest Monk said, “It happened after the Mansion of Spirits affair, by the Xie Jian Chi [lit. shedding-the-sword pond] on Mount Wudang.”

“But he did not make his move at all.”

“Because at that time he considered Lu Xiaofeng’s heart has already died, that he was no different than a dead man.”

Miss Niu sadly said, “Perhaps Lu Xiaofeng is really dead by now.”

“But as long as he is not dead, the only person who can save him is Ximen Chuixue.” Honest Monk said, “Monk has never told lies, not only Ximen Chuixue’ swordsmanship is number one, his cool-headedness and intelligence also no one can surpass.”

“Monk is honest, I believe the Monk.” Miss Niu said, “But I don’t know how can I convince him to rescue Lu Xiaofeng?”

“I don’t know either.”

“How can you not know?” Miss Niu asked Honest Monk.

“Because practically there is no way.” The Monk said, “Even if you can talk someone to return to life, with him, you simply won’t have any chance.”

He was wearing an expression that although very honest, there was also a surreptitious look on his eyes, as he fixed his gaze on Beef Soup and said word-by-word, “I only have something I want to tell you; you must remember it in your heart.”

Naturally Honest Monk would say honest words, and honest words usually are very useful. Miss Niu naturally wanted to listen to each word carefully.

Who would have thought that Honest Monk only said eight words, and each word could annoy people to their death.

“When there is no way, that means there must be a way.” [没法子,就是有法子 – mei fa zi, jiu shi you fa zi]

Monks like keen words; monks who can speak keen words are reasonable monks.

But in Miss Niu’s ears, it sounded like someone had just released a series of eight farts in succession.

[1] Evening rain on Mt. Ba [巴山夜雨] is also an idiom: lonely in strange land. Additional info (courtesy of LuDongBin): Co-incidentally there is this China movie in 1980 by the same name. The theme centers around the time of the Cultural Revolution and talks about the Gang of Four.
But no, this verse has a more illustrious heritage. This is from a famous poem composed by Li Shangyin 李商隱 (812-858); a Late Tang poet par excellence who shared the limelight with Du Fu. Among the collection of the 300 Tang Poems, there are 22 of his works, including this one here. Poems mostly about romance, although there were some political ones too. Because of his penchant for intense imagery, his poems are very difficult to translate. It was said that Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame borrowed from Li’s poems to create some of his songs.
Here is the poem:
{夜雨寄北}
君问归期未有期,
巴山夜雨涨秋池.
何当共剪西窗烛,
却话巴山夜雨时。

When will I return? This I cannot say,
Perhaps when the night rains
Overflow the Daba’s autumn pools once again;
And we reminisce by the western window;
The night rains fall on Daba.

1. 巴山: Refers to the Daba Mountains in the vicinity of China mountainous region in southwest China.
2. 剪西窗烛: Trimming the candle by the western window – a phrase to indicate thinking of or chatting with your loved ones. A literal translation would have lost the original meaning. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li_Shangyin

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