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Laughter of the Sword God Prolog

CSI

Preface: Sword and the Sword God

Sword, it is a kind of weapon, and also one of the eighteen arms. However, it is different than the rest of the weapons. We can even say that compared to the other weapons, there was a significant distance in term of status.

The first and foremost function of a weapon is no more than to kill and attack the enemy. But sword is some kind of a symbol of identity and honor. Monarch, generals, ministers, nobilities and scholars often use sword as elegant decoration.

This fact can already illustrate the special status of the sword in people’s mind.

Even more special is that sword and scholar and poetry and literature have extremely close relationship.

Li Bai [701-762, famous Tang Dynasty poet] wielded a sword.

He was a poetry-immortal, and also a sword-knight. Evidently his swordsmanship was not as good as his poetry. Therefore, he was known for his poetry, and not for his swordsmanship.

In the ancient China, the first person famous for his swordsmanship also happened to be surnamed Li. The Great Li General’s swordsmanship not only dazzled and stunned people of his era, making them sigh and hold their breath, but also brought about endless fantasy to the generations after him.

But the first person who combined the word ‘sword’ and ‘god’ [or divine], these two characters together, was the ‘grass-script sage’ Zhang Xu [probably early 8th century, Tang Dynasty poet and calligrapher, most famous for his grass script].

Zhang Xu was also a Tang poet. In Li Zhao’s [c. 800, Tang dynasty scholar and official] ‘National History Supplement’, there was a segment:

I began to hear about the Princess and the porter [referring to ‘carrying burden with shoulder poles’] striving for the road, like the meaning behind a brushwork [referring to calligraphy]; later on watching Gongsun Clan brandishing a sword-device [剑器 –jian qi, with ‘qi’ means device/tool/utensil] like a deity.

Some say that the sword-device mentioned was not really a sword, but a kind of dance props. Some other say that sword-device was some kind of colored ribbon [streamer] tied onto a dagger, the kind of props women during the Jin and Tang Dynasties used for dancing. But some say that it was really a weapon.

Concerning this, Mr. Jin Yong and I have had some correspondence discussion. Even a very-learned and well-informed man like Mr. Jin Yong was unable to make a definitive statement. Since this sort of thing was from a distant past of the Jin and Tang dynasties, most of it cannot be verified in our present age. Every school of thoughts has its own opinion, which other school of thoughts cannot confirm.

We can only say that if sword-device was a kind of sword, then undoubtedly the Young Lady Gongsun was the first person who was called the Sword God.

Or perhaps it was the origin of the word ‘Divine Sword’.

A person that could be called Sword God or Sword Immortal, other than their swordsmanship must already reach perfection, there must be some other conditions he must meet.

That’s is: his integrity and moral quality.

Because a sword’s standing among the weapons is unique and transcendent, because it is different than any ordinary weapon.

Therefore, if someone could win the accolade of others as a Sword God, his moral quality and integrity must be a lot higher than most ordinary people.

Naturally the number of people who could achieve this state can’t be too many. In every three, five hundred years period, there were no more than three, five people.

Even in the martial art novels that people considered most absurd, this kind of people are not many. In a bit more conservative works, these people are few and far between.

Because ‘Sword God’ and ‘Sword Immortal’ [剑神 and剑仙, respectively] are not the same, ‘Sword Immortal’ appears a lot more in martial art novels.

Especially in martial art novels 还珠楼主 [huan zhu luo zhu], 平江不肖生 [ping jiang bu xiao sheng], even in 朱贞木 [zhu zhen mu] there are quite a number of Sword Immortal’s appearances; all could use sword aura as defense mechanism, defensive sword kills people thousand li away. [I do not have enough literary knowledge to translate all those titles, I don’t even know who the authors were.]

It’s just that they were not Sword Gods.

Because they all lacked one kind of air, the air of arrogance.

I always feel that to become a Sword God, this air of arrogance is absolutely indispensable. Just with this air of arrogance, they can even consider their own lives as worthless.

Because they have already given their lives to the way [of life] they loved ardently.

Their way [of life] is the sword.

Since they are looking for neither immortality nor enlightenment [lit. Buddhism], the success or failure, fame and profit of the secular world, are even less worthy for them to look after, are not worthy of their laughter.

All they wanted was the honor and glory when they brandished their swords, which, in their view, a split second was eternal.

In order to attain this split second peak, they did not hesitate to sacrifice their life.

In the world of martial art novels, a few are qualified to be called Sword Gods.

I dare not to be unduly humble, I always thought that Ximen Chuixue can be considered one of them.

Sword God’s laughter.

Ximen Chuixue is also a man with blood, tears, and laughter, as well as all kinds of emotion common to mankind. It’s just that he never expressed those emotions.

He can go riding alone to places thousands of li away, to fight a life or death battle in the wink of an eye with another martial art expert, simply to avenge or redress an injustice for someone who was a total stranger to him.

But if he thought that it was not worth doing, even if his only friend in the world, Lu Xiaofeng, begged him to go, he simply won’t go.

He even has a little bit of sense of humor.

There was one time, he obviously had the intention of doing something on Lu Xiaofeng’s behalf, yet he insisted on Lu Xiaofeng having this two mustache, that did not look like mustache but looked like eyebrows, shaved.

In short, this man was totally unpredictable and unthinkable.

This man’s sword has never been defeated.

To develop such an undefeated state, naturally one must undergo an unimaginably arduous and difficult training. To cultivate this kind of arrogant character, naturally one must undergo an unimaginably difficult process.

Bitter tears and miserable hardship of the past, he would never mention it in front of anybody else. Naturally others must not know.

But everybody knows one thing. Ximen Chuixue has never laughed.

A flesh and blood with emotion, how come he never laugh? Could it be that he really does not laugh?

I don’t believe it.

At least I know that he did laugh, once. In an exceptionally fantastic matter, in an extremely unusual situation, he once laughed.

I have always wanted to write about this fantastic situation, because I believe that after reading about this matter, anybody would be like Ximen Chuixue, anybody won’t be able to refrain from laughing.

To be able to make everybody laugh, is probably one of the two main reasons I write.

Earning money is, of course, the other main reason I write.

Gu Long.

70[1], 5, 2 between very late at night and very early in the morning, with wine without a sword.

[1] Wuxiapedia says Gu Long wrote this book in 1981, so I don’t know what these numbers are referring to.

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