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The Deer and the Cauldron Chapter 18

CSI

Chapter 18
Vajra’s treasured pestle protecting the Emperor, engraved seal script on stone tablet knocking down the Toutuo[1].

Suddenly a golden ray flashed at the doorway, a large golden pestle came out from the vihara. ‘Bonk, bonk’ it struck the two lamas’ heads. Immediately the golden pestle withdrew. Without making any sound the two lamas fell down, dead, at the doorway, their brains burst.

This unforeseen event was greatly outside everybody’s anticipation. Bayan cursed in loud voice. Three more lamas charged toward the door. This time they were prepared, they all brandished their sabers to protect their heads. The first lama had just stepped into the door, the golden pestle struck down, even the saber was knocked down, together the golden pestle and the saber struck the lama’s head. With all his might the second lama raised his saber to block, but it was as if the golden pestle went down with a force of thousand catties, unexpectedly the saber failed completely in blocking the golden pestle. ‘Bonk!’ the lama’s skull was crushed. The third lama was so scared that his countenance looked like clay. His saber fell down, he turned around and fled.

Bayan opened his mouth, cursing and swearing, but he did not dare to personally attack the door. Huangfu Ge called out, “Get on the roof, take off the roof tiles and throw them inside.”  Immediately four men jumped onto the roof, took off the tiles, and threw the tiles inside through the hole on the roof. Huangfu Ge called out again, “Throw sand and stoned into the building.” Following his order, the men under his command picked up sand and stones from the ground and threw it into the vihara through the wooden gate.

Most of the sand and stones going through the door was hit by the man inside the building using the golden pestle so that it flew back outside, but one by one all the tiles from the roof fell down. This way, no matter how high the person inside the building’s martial art skill was, he would not be able to protect himself. Suddenly, a bellow like a mad ox was heard, a big and tall monk strode out of the building, carrying another monk in his left hand, and turning the golden pestle in his right hand like a wheel. This huge monk was at least half a head taller than ordinary man. His stature was impressive, just like a deity. Swinging the golden pestle in his hand so that it created flashing yellow light, he roared, “Are you all bored of being alive?” His face was purplish red, with short beard that looked like a clump of wild grass. His monk robe was tattered, the holes on his robe exposed his sinewy muscles, his arms were bulging and his waist thick, his hands and feet were big. Seeing this kind of awe-inspiring man, Huangfu Ge, Bayan, and the others could not help but retreated a few steps backwards.

Bayan called out, “This bald thief is only one man, what are you afraid of? Let’s attack together!”

Huangfu Ge called out, “Everybody be careful, don’t harm the monk by his side.”

Everybody turned their attention to the monk. He was approximately thirty something, tall and slim, his face looked handsome and elegant. He was looking down, as if he did not consider the situation around him was worthy to be looked at with one eye.Wei Xiaobao’s heart jumped, he thought it over, “This man must be the young emperor’s papa, it’s just that their appearances are not the same. He is lot more handsome than the young emperor. Turns out he is still this young.”

Right this moment, about a dozen lamas attacked the giant monk together. The giant lama brandished his golden pestle. Endless ‘bonk, bonk, bonk!’ was heard, each ‘bonk’ resulted in one lama fell down to the ground, struck dead by the pestle.

Huangfu Ge ran his hand over his waist and pulled out a flexible whip. From the hand of a lama subordinate of his, Bayan snatched a weapon, which was a pair of short iron hammers. The two of them attacked together from left and right. Huangfu Ge’s flexible whip trembled, the tip of his whip coiled horizontally, ‘shua!’ it left a mark on the giant monk’s neck.

“Wah, wah!” the monk let out an unintelligible cry, while swinging his pestle to strike Bayan. Bayan raised his pair of hammers to block. There was a loud ‘Clang!’ Bayan’s arms went numb, the pair of hammers fell off his hands. But the monk’s shoulder was hit by the flexible whip again. Now everybody could see clearly that the monk only possessed extraordinary strength, but his martial art skill was only mediocre.

One lama sneaked in and grabbed the middle-aged monk’s left arm. The monk grunted, but he did not try to struggle at all. In a low voice Wei Xiaobao said “Protect that monk.”

“Yes,” Shuang’er replied. Her shadow flashed, she stretched out her hand to jab the lama’s waist, the lama blocked with his finger. She turned around and stretched out her finger in a feign attack toward Huangfu Ge’s face. Huangfu Ge turned to the right to evade, she quickly turned around and pierced the pit of Bayan’s stomach with her finger.

“Mother …” Bayan cursed and fell face up.

Shuang’er turned to the east and circled to the west, her tender hands fluttered, more than a dozen men that Bayan and Huangfu Ge’s brought along fell down one after another. Xinxi called out, “Hey, hey, young … young benefactor …”

Shuang’er laughed and said, “Hey, hey, old monk!” Stretching out her finger, she pierced his waist.

Huangfu Ge flicked his flexible whip to protect his front, back, left and right. ‘Whoosh, whoosh!’ the whip created whistling wind in a circle about a zhang in diameter; it was so tight that not even water would be able to penetrate. Shuang’er circled around outside the whip’s circumference. Huangfu Ge’s whip moved faster and faster, several times the whip almost struck Shuang’er’s body, but she was always able to evade with her fast and nimble movement.

“Good kid!” Huangfu Ge called out. Sending his power to the whip, the flexible whip turned into a long spear, it went straight toward the pit of Shuang’er’s stomach. Shuang’er’s feet slipped and she fell forward, her finger extended toward Huangfu Ge’s lower abdomen. Huangfu Ge raised his left palm to block her piercing finger, followed by a flick of his flexible whip that the tip of his whip coiled back to strike Shuang’er’ back. Shuang’er dropped drown and rolled away; her position was rather awkward.

Seeing Shuang’er was in a disadvantageous situation, Wei Xiaobao was very anxious. He bent down to grab some dirt to be thrown onto Huangfu Ge’s eyes, but the ground was swept very clean, he could not even grab a handful of dirt. Shuang’er had not stood up, Huangfu Ge’s flexible whip had already shot down toward her. “Stop fighting!” Wei Xiaobao called out. Brandishing his golden pestle the giant monk rushed forward to help. Suddenly Shuang’er’s right hand grabbed the tip of the flexible whip. Huangfu Ge exerted his strength to jerk the whip up, bringing Shuang’er’s body along with it, and throwing her into the air.

Wei Xiaobao reached into his bosom, without caring what kind of stuff he got, he simply grabbed it and threw it onto Huangfu Ge’s face. Pieces of white paper fluttered in the air, several dozen sheets of paper obstructed Huangfu Ge’s vision. Huangfu Ge busily stretched out his hand to brush the paper away, the power in his right hand diminished instantly. Right this moment, the giant monk’s golden pestle was also coming down on the top of his head. Huangfu Ge was greatly shocked, hastily he ducked down. Shuang’er’s body was still in the air, without waiting her feet to touch the ground, her left foot kicked toward his head and hit the taiyang [sun] acupoint on Huangfu Ge’s head.

“Aiyo!” he cried out and fell backward. ‘Bang!’ sparks flew everywhere as the golden pestle struck the ground, less than half a chi from his head. As soon as Shuang’er’s right foot landed on the ground, she snatched the flexible whip from his hand.

“Good skill!” Wei Xiaobao cheered. Pulling his dagger, he rushed forward and held it in front of Huangfu Ge’s left eye. “Tell your men to get out,” he shouted, “No one is allowed to come in!”

Huangfu Ge was unable to move; feeling the thick cold air of the dagger on his face he was greatly amazed. “All of you get out,” he called out, “Tell everybody no one is allowed to come in.” His several dozen men hesitated for half a day. Wei Xiaobao made a move as if he was going to thrust his dagger to kill, the men immediately rushed out of the temple.

The giant monk opened his round eyes wide, he gazed at Shuang’er for half a day. “Hey,” he said, “Good child!” Picking up the golden pestle with his left hand and supporting the middle-aged monk, he walked back into the vihara.

Wei Xiaobao rushed two steps forward, he wanted to talk to the middle-aged monk, but he was too late. Shuang’er went toward Cheng Guang and unsealed his acupoints, saying, “These bad eggs are violent, vicious and overbearing, they offended the Great Monk.”

Cheng Guang stood up, put his palms together and said, “Young benefactor’s body and mind possess supreme feat, you have saved my temple from great catastrophe. Lao Na has the blurred vision of an old person, I did not recognize an expert, and thus has failed miserably to show respect.”

“No, you have not,” Shuang’er replied, “All along you were very polite toward our young master.”

Only after calming himself down did Wei Xiaobao realize that the paper he tossed onto Huangfu Ge’s face and blurred his vision was actually a big wad of banknotes. He laughed aloud and said, “Those who see banknotes and not surrender, perhaps only a few in this world. I attacked using several tens of thousands taels, you simply can’t not cry out ‘surrender’.” Giggling, Shuang’er picked up the scattered banknotes and returned them to Wei Xiaobao.

“Wei Gongzi [young master],” Cheng Guang asked, “How should we deal with the situation here?”

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “These three friends, tell your men to disperse!”

Immediately Huangfu Ge raised his voice, “All of you, go down the mountain and wait for me there.” They heard several hundred men outside complied together, followed by the rustling noise of footsteps, in an instant they have all left.

Cheng Guang was relieved. He reached down to unseal Xinxi’s acupoint. “Abbot, hold on,” Wei Xiaobao said, “I want to talk to you first.”

“Yes!” Cheng Guang replied, “But these several Shixiong have had their acupoints sealed for quite a long time, their hands and feet are numb, I must unseal their acupoints first.”

“It won’t do any harm to leave them for a while,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Let’s go to that hall over there and sit down.”

Cheng Guang nodded. “Yes,” he said. Turning to Xinxi, he said, “Shixiong, please don’t be impatient, I will be back shortly to unseal your acupoints.” Taking Wei Xiaobao along, he went to the Buddhist hall on the west.

“Abbot,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Are these people really here to look for the young lama?” Cheng Guang was at a loss for words, he was unable to answer. Wei Xiaobao leaned forward and whispered in his ear, “I know that they are here for that Emperor Monk.”

Cheng Guang’s body trembled. He nodded slowly. “Turns out the young benefactor has already known,” he said.

In a low voice Wei Xiaobao continued, “I came to your precious monastery, performing repentance ritual and Buddhist ceremony was a fake reason, actually I receive … receive an order to protect the Emperor Monk.”

Cheng Guang nodded. “I see,” he said, “Lao Na has already suspected as much. Young benefactor was rushing to Qing Liang Temple, your manner did not look like someone desiring to perform a Buddhist ceremony.”

Wei Xiaobao said, “Although we have captured Huangfu Ge, Bayan, and the other, it’s like capturing a tiger is easy, letting the tiger go is difficult. Even if we take the trouble of letting them go, in just a few days they would return to nag at us endlessly; it will be very troublesome!”

“But we must not kill them,” Cheng Guang said, “There have been quite a number of people losing their lives in this temple today. Ay, Amitabha Buddha, Amitabha Buddha.”

“Killing them would be useless,” Wei Xiaobao said, “How about this: tell your men to tie them up. We will investigate carefully: why did they come to look for the Emperor Monk?”

Cheng Guang was reluctant. “This is a peaceful Buddhist establishment,” he said, “We, who have left home, secretly tie up people and interrogate them, it does not seem reasonable.”

“What do you mean unreasonable?” Wei Xiaobao asked, “They came here and killed the monks in your temple, are you saying they are being reasonable? If we do not investigate clearly and think of a way to deal with them, and then they come back to kill, to set your Qing Liang Temple on fire, what should we do?”

Cheng Guang thought for a while, then he nodded and said, “That sounds reasonable. Let it be as Benefactor instructed.” He clapped his hands to summon a monk, and ordered him, “Please invite that Mr. Huangfu here, we have something we’d like to consult with him.”

Wei Xiaobao said, “This Huangfu Ge is very crafty, I am afraid we can’t find anything from him. Let us ask that Great Lama first.”

“Right, right,” Cheng Guang said, “Why didn’t I think about it earlier?”

Two monks dragged Bayan into the hall, they were angry at him for killing the monks of their temple, hence they threw him heavily on the floor. “Ay,” Cheng Guang said, “How come you do not have any manners toward the Great Lama?”

“Yes!” the two monks replied, and withdrew out of the hall.

Wei Xiaobao lifted a chair with his left hand, and then with the dagger in his right hand, he scraped layer after layer off the chair’s leg. The dagger was incomparably sharp, slice by slice the chair’s leg was cut away, until it was only about a tenth or a twentieth of its original thickness, just like peeling a fruit. Cheng Guang watched with eyes opened wide, he did not understand Wei Xiaobao’s intention.

Wei Xiaobao put down the chair, and walked toward Bayan. He ran his left hand over Bayan’s head, and raised the dagger in his right hand, making a scraping motion just like scraping away the chair’s leg just a moment ago.

“Don’t!” Bayan cried out.

Cheng Guang also shouted, “You can’t do that!”

“What do you mean I can’t do that?” Wei Xiaobao said angrily, “I know all Tibetan Great Lamas are trained in some kind of iron head skill, saber and spear won’t penetrate their heads. When I was in Beijing, I have personally used this dagger to scrape a Great Lama’s head, I spent half a day and I could not cut him down. Great Lama, are you a genuine goods at fair prices, or are you a fake article? If I do not test you, how am I going to find out?”

Bayan hastily said, “I have never trained that iron head skill, if you scrape my head, I’ll die.”

“Not necessarily,” Wei Xiaobao said, “If I cut you two or three cun, you might not necessarily die. Let me scrape only a layer of your skull, just until I can see your brains. If you are telling the truth, your brain will be motionless, but if you lie, your brain will boil endlessly, just like vegetable boiled in water. I have something to ask you, if I don’t scrape open your brain, how do I know if you are telling the truth or a lie?”

“Don’t scrape, don’t scrape,” Bayan said, “I will tell you the truth.”

Wei Xiaobao ran his hand over Bayan’s scalp and said, “The truth or a lie, how do I know?”

“If I don’t tell you the truth,” Bayan said, “It won’t be too late for you to scrape my scalp then.”

Wei Xiaobao thought for a moment and said, “Very well, let me ask you this: who told you to come to Qing Liang Temple?”

“It was the Great Lama Sheng Luo Tuo of Pusa Ding Zhen Rong Yuan [lit. courtyard of the genuine appearance of the crown of Bodhisattva’s head] who sent me here,” Bayan replied.

“Amitabha Buddha,” Cheng Guang said, “The green and yellow temples of Mount Wutai have never had any hatred or desire for revenge, how can the Great Lama of Pusa Ding send you here to create trouble?”

“I did not come to create trouble,” Bayan said, “Sheng Luo Tuo Shixiong asked me to look for a monk in his thirties; he told me this monk had stolen the treasured scripture of our Living Buddha in Lhasa, and went into hiding in Qing Liang Temple, thus we must find and arrest him.”

“Amitabha Buddha,” Cheng Guang said, “How can there be such thing?”

Wei Xiaobao raised his dagger and shouted, “You are lying, I am going to scrape open your scalp and look at your brain.”

“I am not, I am not lying,” Bayan cried out, “If you don’t believe me, go ask Sheng Luo Tuo Shixiong. He told us to pretend that we are looking for a young lama, but actually we are looking for that middle-aged monk. He also said that that Mr. Huangfu knew this monk, so he asked him to accompany us looking for this monk. Sheng Luo Tuo Shixiong said that this monk has stolen our secret Tibetan Tantra Scripture, ‘Da Pi Lu Zhe Na Fo Shen Bian Jia Chi Jing’ [I won’t bother translating this, I think it is a transliteration of some Sanskrit words; if anybody can help me, that would be great]; it’s not a small matter at all. If I managed to get hold of this monk, I will perform a great service, when I return to Lhasa, the Living Buddha will certainly reward me heavily.”

Wei Xiaobao saw his expression looked sincere, it did not appear to be fake at all, so he assumed Bayan was also being deceived by others, who did not want him to know the truth about Shunzhi. Thereupon he took out the Tibetan letter he snatched away from the three Tibetan lamas Shuang’er had caught. He opened it up and said, “Read it for me, tell me what it says.” While saying that, he placed the blade of his dagger flat on the top of Bayan’s head.

[Translator’s note: since in the 3rd edition Wei Xiaobao had never met the three lamas, all reference to the letter is gone. All information still exist, it’s just that Bayan told him that the information was ‘according to his Sheng Luo Tuo Shixiong’.]

“Yes, yes!” Bayan said, and then he uttered some gibberish as he read the letter.

Wei Xiaobao nodded. “Not bad,” he said, “You read very well, you did not miss a single word. But this Fangzhang Dashi does not understand Tibetan, please translate the letter into Chinese for him.”

Bayan said, “The letter says, this big … big personality is indeed in the Qing Liang Temple of Mount Wutai. We recently received information that Shen … Shen Long Jiao is going to invite him, we must … must strike first and gain the upper hand.”

Hearing him mentioning ‘Shen Long Jiao’ three characters, Wei Xiaobao believed he was not lying. “What else does the letter say?” he asked.

Bayan said, “The letter says, going to Qing Liang Temple to invite this big personality is not difficult, but perhaps Shen Long Jiao has also received the information and is going to act; therefore, Sheng Luo Tuo Shixiong is asking Da He’er Shixiong of Beijing to hasten in sending a martial art master to come and render his assistance. If … if the Great Lama Sang Jie has arrived in Beijing, the Senior is unequalled in the present age, if he personally take charge of this matter, it will be … will be a ‘not one in ten thousand failures’ [wan shi wu yi] …”

Wei Xiaobao laughed and cursed, “Damn it! It’s ‘not one failure in ten thousand (matters)’ [wan wu yi shi – surefire, absolutely safe]. What do you mean ‘not one in ten thousand failures’?” That he was able to correct someone else’s mistake in Chinese expression, it was a ‘hard to meet in a thousand years’ opportunity, not one chance in ten thousand matters, thereupon he was very pleased with himself.

“Yes, yes,” Bayan said, “It’s one in ten thousand without failure [wan yi wu shi] …”

Wei Xiaobao laughed, “Your Lama Granny,” he said, “You’re still saying it wrong. What else?”

“Nothing else,” Bayan said, “There’s nothing else below that.”

“Damn it,” Wei Xiaobao cursed, “What do you mean there’s nothing else below that? Is it I don’t have anything else down below, or is it you don’t have anything else down below?”

“We all … we all don’t have anything else down below,” Bayan replied.

“What do you mean we all don’t have anything else down below?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

“There are no more letters below that,” Bayan replied.

Wei Xiaobao burst into loud laughter. He asked, “What kind of man is that Huangfu Ge?”

“He is the helper that Sheng Luo Tuo Shixiong invited,” Bayan replied, “He arrived only last night.”

Wei Xiaobao nodded. He turned to Cheng Guang and said, “Abbot, I want to examine that fat monk from the Fo Guang Temple. If you don’t feel comfortable, there is no harm in you listening from outside the window.”

“That would be best, that would best,” Cheng Guang said. He ordered Bayan to be taken out and Xinxi to be brought in, while he himself returned to the meditation room, he was not willing to listen from outside the window.

As he entered the room, Xinxi’s face was all smiles as he said, “Two benefactors are young, yet your martial art skill is superb. Lao Na has neither seen nor heard about it. Young heroes, really amazing, amazing!”

“F*ck your granny,” Wei Xiaobao cursed, “Who needs your boot-licking?” And he kicked Xinxi’s buttocks.

Although Xinxi was in pain, his smile did not diminish; he said, “Yes, yes, all real heroes and warriors definitely do not like to hear boot-licking. But the old monk is being sincere, it can’t be considered as boot-licking.”

“Let me ask you,” Wei Xiaobao said, “You came to create havoc in Qing Liang Temple, who sent you here?”

“Since benefactor asks, the old monk does not dare to conceal anything from you,” Xinxi replied, “The Great Lama Sheng Luo Tuo of Pusa Ding Zhen Rong Yuan sent two hundred taels for me, asking me to accompany his Shidi [younger martial brother] Bayan to come to Qing Liang Temple to look for … look for someone. The old monk cannot receive a reward without deserving it, therefore, I was obliged to accompany him.”

Wei Xiaobao kicked him again. “Rubbish!” he cursed, “You still think you can lie to me? Quickly tell me the truth.”

“Yes, yes,” Xinxi said, “I can’t hide it from the benefactor, the Great Lama sent me three hundred taels.”

“Obviously it was a thousand taels,” Wei Xiaobao said.

“To tell you the truth, it was five hundred taels,” Xinxi said, “If I received one more tael, the old monk is not a human.”

“What kind of ‘thing’ is that Huangfu ge?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

Xinxi replied, “That son of a b1tch is not a good thing, it was that crafty lama Bayan who brought him along. As soon as benefactor let me go, the old monk will immediately take him to Wutai County; I will ask the County Head Magistrate to punish him properly. Qing Liang Temple is a peaceful and quiet Buddhist establishment, how can we allow him to commit outrages here? Young benefactor, those several lives, along with several perished lamas, we can push the blame on his head.”

Wei Xiaobao’s countenance sank, he said, “Clearly you killed them all, how can you push the blame on someone else’s head?”

Xinxi beseeched him, “Good Young Master, please spare me.”

Wei Xiaobao had him removed from the room, and had Huangfu Ge in to be interrogated. But this man was very tough, he refused to answer anything. He ignored Wei Xiaobao’s intimidation with the dagger. When Shuang’er sealed his ‘tian huo’ acupoint, the pain was unbearable that he could not help but groaning, but he still refused to answer Wei Xiaobao’s question. He simply said, “If you have guts, just stab your master dead with your dagger; torturing people is not a hero’s conduct.”

Wei Xiaobao respected him as a real man. “Alright,” he said, “We won’t torture you.” He ordered Shuang’er to unseal his ‘tian huo’ acupoint.

After he had Huangfu Ge taken out of the room, he invited Cheng Guang back and said, “We must consult that big personality on how to conclude this matter.”

Cheng Guang shook his head, “He is resolved not to see any outsider.”

Enraged, Wei Xiaobao said, “What do you mean he does not want to see outsiders? Hasn’t he seen outsiders just now? If we washed our hands and did not care, wouldn’t he be taken away by outsiders? In just a few days, the Great Lama of Beijing will send someone else here, there will be some unequalled martial art masters, and then there will be some Shen Long [divine dragon] Jiao, Wugui [turtle] Jiao people. Even if we wanted to help, we would still be no match for that many people.”

“You are right,” Cheng Guang said.

“Go talk to him,” Wei Xiaobao said, “The situation is urgent, we simply must come up with a way to deal with this problem.”

Cheng Guang shook his head and said, “Lao Na has agreed that everyone in this temple, Lao Na included, will never talk to him.”

“Alright,” Wei Xiaobao said, “I am not a monk of your temple, I’ll go and talk to him.”

“You can’t, you can’t,” Cheng Guang said, “As soon as young benefactor enters the vihara, his Shidi, that giant monk Xing Dian, may kill you with his pestle.”

“He won’t strike me dead,” Wei Xiaobao said.

Cheng Guang cast a glance toward Shuang’er before saying, “Even if you send your honorable servant to deal with Monk Xing Dian, Xing Chi will still refuse to talk to you.”

“Xing Chi?” Wei Xiaobao asked, “Is his Buddhist name Xing Chi?”

“Yes,” Cheng Guang replied, “Turns out benefactor did not know it.”

Wei Xiaobao sighed and said, “Since that’s the case, there is nothing I can do. Since you don’t have any ‘not one in ten thousand failures’ [wan shi wu yi] good plan, it’s a pity that a nice ancient temple like Qing Liang Temple will be destroyed in your hands as the Abbot.”

Cheng Guang frowned and showed deep concern on his face, he rubbed his hands repeatedly. Suddenly he said, “I’ll go and ask Yulin Shixiong, perhaps he has a solution.”

“And who is this Yulin Dashi?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

“He is Xing Chi’s religious Shifu[2],” Cheng Guang replied.

“That’s great,” Wei Xiaobao delightedly said, “Take me to see this old monk.”

Immediately Cheng Guang led Wei Xiaobao and Shuang’er out from the back door of Qing Liang Temple and walked about a li to a tiny old temple. There was no inscribed board above the temple’s door. Cheng Guang walked straight in, and continued toward the meditation room at the back. They saw an old monk, with white hair and white eyebrows, sitting on a putuan [meditation mat]. His eyes were closed in meditation; he seemed to be completely oblivious of the three people who had just walked in.

Cheng Guang signaled them with his hand, and then he quietly sat down on another putuan at the side, lowered his head and closed his eyes, and put his palms together. Wei Xiaobao snickered inwardly; following his example, he also sat down. Shuang’er stood behind him. All around them was very quiet, it seemed that this old monk was the only one in this tiny temple.

After a long time, the old monk still had not moved a single jot, it was as if he was already dead. Unexpectedly, Cheng Guang also did not move at all. Wei Xiaobao’s hands were numb and his legs ached, he was greatly impatient, he stood up and sat back down again, he sat down and stood back up again, while in his heart he cursed the old monk’s eighteen ancestors several dozen times.

Then, after a long time, the old monk finally let out a deep breath and slowly opened his eyes. He was not surprised at all to see people in front of him, he simply nodded his head slightly.

Cheng Guang said, “Shixiong, Xing Chi’s earthly karma has not been broken, some people came to the temple to look for him, I am asking Shixiong to resolve it according to the Dharma.”

The old monk Yulin said, “All circumstances are born in the heart, the resolution is already inside.”

Cheng Guang said, “The outside devils are heavy, Qing Liang Temple is in trouble.” Thereupon he narrated how Xinxi, Bayan, Huangfu Ge, and the others had come to kidnap Xing Chi, fortunately Wei Xiaobao, master and servant, had lent their hands to save him. He also told him how several people from both sides had died, and how the enemy did not seem to be willing to let the matter drop. Yulin listened silently without making any sound, and then he closed his eyes again and went into meditation.

Wei Xiaobao was furious; suddenly he sprang up and shouted, “F*ck …” But he only managed to utter one word, Cheng Guang repeatedly signaled him, asking him not to be angry, and asking him to sit down and wait. This time Yulin’s meditation lasted less than an hour. Wei Xiaobao mused, “From among the big robbers and strong bandits, vixens and scoundrels of the world, no one is as annoying as this old monk.”

After all the trouble, Yulin finally opened his eyes once again. He asked, “Benefactor Wei came from Beijing?”

“Yes,” Wei Xiaobao replied.

“Benefactor Wei is working at His Majesty’s side?” Yulin asked again.

Wei Xiaobao was shocked; he sprang up and said, “You … you … how did you know?”

Lao Na is only guessing,” Yulin replied.

Wei Xiaobao thought, “This old monk is of some demonic school, perhaps he really has some magical power.” Thereupon he did not dare to curse him in his heart anymore; he sat back down obediently.

Yulin said, “His Majesty sent Benefactor Wei to see Xing Chi, what message do you have?”

Wei Xiaobao thought, “This old monk knows everything, it will be useless to hide the truth from him.” Thereupon he said, “His Majesty learned that the Old Emperor is still in the world of the living, he is both delighted and sad, he sent me to kowtow and pay his respect to the Old Emperor. If … if the Old Emperor is willing to return to the Palace and be his old self, nothing can be better than that.” Actually, Kangxi said that after the truth was ascertained, he himself would go up Mount Wutai to have an audience with his Fu Huang [father emperor], but Wei Xiaobao kept this words and did not say it.

Yulin said, “His Majesty ordered benefactor to take what kind of token of confidence?”

From his innermost pocket Wei Xiaobao took out the edict Kangxi had written with his own hand, and presented it with both hands, saying, “Dashi, please look at this.” The imperial edict said, “The Imperial Bodyguard Deputy Chief Wei Xiaobao, hereby being granted by the Emperor himself to wear Yellow Magua, is being sent to visit the Wutai Mountain region on official business. Various provinces’ civil and military officials are ordered to give assistance. By the Emperor himself.”

Yulin took the letter, read it, and returned it to Wei Xiaobao, saying, “Turns out it is the Imperial Bodyguard Deputy Chief Wei Daren, forgive me for failing to show respect.”

In his heart Wei Xiaobao was very proud of himself, thinking, “Do you dare to despise me now?” But looking at Yulin’s face, he did not see any respectful expression, his conceited heart immediately dissipated.

“Benefactor Wei,” Yulin said, “In your opinion, how should we handle this matter?”

“I want to kowtow to the Old Emperor,” Wei Xiaobao said, “And wait for the Old Emperor’s instruction.”

Yulin said, “Formerly, his riches reached the four seas, but after leaving home and become a monk, the earthly karma has already been severed. These three words ‘lao huang ye’ [Old Emperor] can no longer be mentioned, so as not to shock him and disturb his peaceful cultivation.” Wei Xiaobao was silent without replying anything.

Yulin continued, “Please go back and report to His Majesty, Xing Chi is not willing to see you, he is also unwilling to see any outsider.”

“His Majesty is his son,” Wei Xiaobao said, “He is not an outsider.”

“Why is it called ‘leave home’?” Yulin said, “It’s because home is no longer home, wife and children are outsiders.”

Wei Xiaobao thought, “Apparently it is you, the old monk, who is playing trick, always stand on the way. Even if the Old Emperor is unwilling to return to the Palace, he might not necessarily be unwilling to see his own son.” He said, “Since that’s the case, I will dispatch men and horses to go up Mount Wutai to guard and protect, we must not let idle people to enter the temple and create disturbance.”

Yulin showed a faint smile as he said, “This way, Qing Liang Temple will turn into an inner courtyard of the Palace, or a government office; the Imperial Bodyguard Deputy Chief Wei Daren becomes a messenger at the Qing Liang Temple. To be blunt with you, if that’s the case, Xing Chi might as well return to the Palace in Beijing.”

“So Dashi has another great idea to protect the Old … the Senior,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Zaixia will … will listen with respectful attention.”

Yulin smiled and said, “Benefactor Wei is so young, yet has such an awesome background, no wonder that at your teenage year you have already occupied such a high-ranking post.” He paused for a moment, and then continued, “Great idea, that I do not have, those who have left home stand aloof from worldly affair, we resign ourselves to adversity. Thank you very much for Benefactor Wei’s kind intention, if Qing Liang Temple is really facing a misfortune, we’ll leave it to fate to escape from calamity.” Finished speaking, he put his palms together to salute, closed his eyes, and went back to meditation.

Cheng Guang stood up, signaled with his hand, and withdrew toward the door, where he bowed with palms together toward Yulin. Wei Xiaobao made faces toward Yulin, stuck out his tongue, put the thumb of his right hand on his own nose, with the other four fingers waving toward Yulin. With this gesture he was saying, “What a stink, what a stink!” Yulin had his eyes closed, he did not see anything.

When the three of them were outside, Cheng Guang said, “Yulin Dashi is an eminent senior monk, he has reached the enlightenment level. Lao Na is going to release Abbot Xinxi and the others and let them go. Benefactor Wei, our meeting today is brought together by fate, let us part here.” Finished speaking, he brought his palms together, bowed to salute, and left. Unexpectedly he did not let Wei Xiaobao to re-enter Qing Liang Temple.

Wei Xiaobao’s heart was on fire; he said, “Very well, since you already have a brilliant scheme that is ‘not one in ten thousand failures’ (wan shi wu yi), it’s actually me who was being meddlesome.”

He told Shuang’er to fetch Yu Ba and his retinue, and then without telling anybody else they went down the mountain, back to Ling Jing Temple to spend the night there.

The previous night he had donated seventy taels of silver to the Ling Jing Temple. When the administrator of the monastery saw the big benefactor once again graced their temple with his visit, he eagerly and attentively welcomed them.

In the guestroom, with one hand supporting his cheek, Wei Xiaobao contemplated, “I have seen the Old Emperor. Turns out he is not that old, but he is in a very dangerous situation; the Tibetan Lamas want to capture him, the Shen Long Jiao also want to get him. That old bald thief Yulin is putting on an act, but does not have the least bit of farting skill; what good is Abbot Cheng Guang one man alone? I am afraid in just a few days the Old Emperor will be captured by those people, and then how am I going to explain to Xiao Xuanzi?”

As he turned his head around, he saw Shuang’er’s beautiful eyebrows were furrowed, she looked really upset. “Shuang’er,” he asked, “Why are you unhappy?”

“Nothing,” Shuang’er replied.

“I know you have a load on your mind,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Quickly tell me.”

“It’s really nothing,” Shuang’er replied.

Suddenly Wei Xiaobao remembered something. “Ah, I get it,” he said, “You are blaming me for being an official in the Imperial Court, but all along have never told you.”

Shuang’er’s eyes turned red as she said, “The Tatar Emperor is a big evil man, Xianggong you … how can you be their official? Not only that, you are a high-ranking official.” While saying that, tears streaming down her cheeks.

Wei Xiaobao was taken aback. “Silly child,” he said, “Why do you have to cry over that?”

Sobbing and sniffling, Shuang’er said, “The Third Mistress has given me to Xianggong, she told me to serve you, to obey your commands. But … but you are a … a high-ranking official in the Imperial Court, my papa, mama, and two gege [older brother], were all killed by evil government officials. You … you …” And she burst out crying.

Momentarily Wei Xiaobao was at a loss of what to do. “Alright, alright!” he hastily said, “I will tell you everything. Let me tell you the truth, my position as a government official is only a cover, I am the Xiangzhu of Green Wood Hall of Tian Di Hui, the Heaven is my father, the Earth is my mother, we fight the Qing to restore the Ming. Do you understand? My Shifu is Tian Di Hui’s Zongduozhu, I have already told your Third Mistress everything. Our Tian Di Hui stand to oppose the Imperial Court. My Shifu sent me to infiltrate the Imperial Palace to become an officer, for the purpose of spying on the Tatars’ movement. This is top secret information, if this info leaks out, my life cannot be protected anymore.”

Shuang’er reached out and pressed his hand against Wei Xiaobao’s lips. “Don’t say anything anymore,” she said in a low voice, “It’s all my fault, I forced you to tell me.” While saying that, her tears were turned into laughter. She continued, “Xianggong is a good man, naturally you can’t possibly do bad things. I … I really am a silly servant girl.”

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “You are a well-behaved girl.” Pulling her hand, he let her sit on the kang, by his side. In a low voice he told her everything about Shunzhi and Kangxi. He said, “The young emperor is only a teenager, his father has left home to become a Buddhist monk and no longer wants to be with him. Don’t you think we should pity him? Those fellows who came to get him today were all very, very bad people, how fortunate it was that you saved him.”

Shuang’er let out a breath and said, “Finally I did a good thing.”

Wei Xiaobao said, “No more than sending the Buddha onto the Western Paradise. Those people were released by the Abbot. Definitely they are not going to let go, they will come back to get that old emperor, cut the flesh of his body piece by piece, cook it, and eat it; won’t that be terrible?” He knew Shuang’er had a good heart, in order to arouse her courage so that she would be willing to save people, he intentionally pictured Shunzhi’s plight to be utterly dire.

Shuang’er shivered; “Why would they want to eat his flesh?” she asked.

Wei Xiaobao said, “Monk Tangseng[3] went to the Western Paradise to fetch the scriptures; have you heard this tale?”

“I have,” Shuang’er replied, “And there were Sun Wukong and Zhu Bajie[4] too.”

“Along the way, they met many demons,” Wei Xiaobao said, “They all wanted to eat Tangseng’s flesh; they said he was a holy monk, if they ate his flesh, they would become Buddhist immortal.”

“Ah, I know,” Shuang’er said, “These bad people thought that the Old Emperor is also a holy monk.”

“That’s right,” Wei Xiaobao said, “You are really smart. The Old Emperor Monk can be compared to Tangseng, and those bad people are the demons. I am the monkey Sun, Sun Xingzhe [another name for Sun Wukong], and you are … you are …” Speaking to this point, he raised his palms to cover his own ears, because right that moment, a slap was coming to his face.

Shuang’er laughed and said, “You are saying I am the Zhu Bajie?”

Wei Xiaobao said, “Your appearance looks like Guanyin Pusa [Goddess of Mercy], but your action looks like Zhu Bajie.”

Shuang’er quickly waved her hand, “Don’t say anything to offend the Bodhisattva,” she said, “Xianggong, you may be the Shancai Boy Hong Hai’er[5] by the Guanyin Pusa’s side, and I …” Speaking to this point, her face blushed, she did not continue whatever she was going to say next.

“That’s right!” Wei Xiaobao said, “I can be the Shancai Boy, and you are the Long Nu [dragon girl]. The two of us will always be together, and whatever happens we will never part.”

Shuang’er’s cheeks blushed even deeper, she said in a low voice, “Naturally I will serve you forever, unless … unless you don’t want me anymore, and drive me away.”

Wei Xiaobao raised his palm to make a cutting gesture across his own neck and said, “Even if you cut my head, I will never drive you away. Unless you don’t want me anymore, and sneak out on your own.”

Shuang’er also raised her palm to make a cutting gesture across her own neck and said, “Even if you cut my head, I will never leave.” The two of them burst out in loud laughter.

Ever since Shuang’er followed Wei Xiaobao, she had always observed master-servant relationship strictly, very little did she ever chat and laugh with him. This moment, after listening to Wei Xiaobao telling her the truth about him, her heart felt happy and at ease. By laughing together like this, the friendship between them grew several degrees more intimate.

“Alright,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Now that the problem between us is sorted out, we have to think of a way, how are we going to save Tangseng?”

Shuang’er laughed and said, “To save Monk Tangseng, the Great Sage the Equal of Heaven[6] had always come up with an idea, Zhu Bajie was only a bum beetle.”

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “If Zhu Bajie was as good-looking as you are, Tangseng would never leave home to become a Buddhist monk.”

“Why is that?” Shuang’er asked.

Wei Xiaobao replied, “Naturally Tangseng would take Zhu Bajie as his wife.”

‘Pfft,’ Shuang’er broke into laughter. “Zhu Bajie was a pig demon, who would want to take him as a wife?”

Hearing Shuang’er mentioning taking a pig demon as a wife, Wei Xiaobao suddenly remembered the ‘huadiao fuling’ pig, in which Mu Jianping came to him; he wondered where she and Fang Yi were right this moment, and whether she was safe and sound. Seeing Wei Xiaobao was staring blankly, lost in thought, Shuang’er did not dare to interrupt his train of thought.

A moment later, Wei Xiaobao said, “I have found a way not to let those bad people catch the Old Emperor. Shuang’er, if, for example, there is a similar treasure, and a lot of thieves and bandits want to steal it, what should we do, so that those thieves and bandits cannot steal it?”

Shuang’er replied, “When we see thieves and bandits come to steal it, we capture them.”

Wei Xiaobao shook his head, “The thieves and bandits are too many, we cannot catch them all. We must become thieves and bandits ourselves.”

“We become thieves and bandits?” Shuang’er asked.

“Right!” Wei Xiaobao said, “We strike first and gain the upper hand. If we steal the treasure first and have it in our hands, then other thieves and bandits cannot steal it.”

Shuang’er clapped her hands and said with a laugh, “I get it, we catch the Old Emperor Monk first.”

“Exactly,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Without further ado, let’s leave now.”

The two of them reached the perimeter of the Qing Liang Temple. Wei Xiaobao said, “The sky is not dark yet, stealing stuff or stealing a monk, we must wait until the sky is dark.” The two of them hid in the wood, with great difficulty waiting for the whole mountain to be shrouded in darkness, and all noises ceased.

In a low voice Wei Xiaobao said, “In the temple, only Abbot one person knows martial art, luckily in the fight just now, he suffered an injury, he must be lying down to rest by now. You go seal that big fat monk Xing Dian’s acupoint, and then we can steal the Old Emperor monk out. It’s just that Xing Dian’s strength is enormous, that golden pestle of his is very formidable, you must be very careful.” Shuang’er nodded, indicating that she understood.

After listening attentively and convinced that there was nobody around, the two of them quietly leaped over the enclosure and walked toward the vihara where Shunzhi was meditating. They saw the board gate was already closed, but the damage done on the door by the kick earlier that day had not been repaired, it was put there only as a shield against the wind. Creeping closed to the wall, Shuang’er went in. She pulled the board facing left, and saw a flash or yellow light. ‘Whoosh!’ the golden pestle struck down from the gap between the door leaves.

Shuang’er waited until the golden pestle swung back up before she swiftly leaped in, while stretching out her finger to seal the two acupoints on Xing Dian’s chest one after another. “Really sorry!” she said in a low voice. Raising both hands, she grabbed the golden pestle in his hands. Xing Dian’s acupoints were sealed, his body turned weak and he slowly dropped down. The golden pestle was more than a hundred catties. If Shuang’er did not catch it, it would fell down and crush his toes. Wei Xiaobao followed; he dodged inside and pulled the door leaf.

The vihara was very small; in the darkness, he vaguely saw someone was sitting on a putuan. Wei Xiaobao knew it must be the Emperor Shunzhi whose Buddhist name was Xing Chi. Immediately he kowtowed and said, “Your servant Wei Xiaobao, who saved your honorable self during the day. Old Emperor, please do not panic.” Xing Chi was silent without making any noise.

Wei Xiaobao continued, “The Old Emperor is meditating quietly in here, actually, it is very good; however, there are a lot of bad people outside who want to capture the Old Emperor, who want to do you harm. In order to protect the Old Emperor, your servant would like to invite you to another peaceful place, so that the bad people won’t be able to get you.”

Xing Chi still did not reply. Wei Xiaobao said, “Well then, would the Old Emperor please leave together with your servant?”

A long time passed, Wei Xiaobao saw him still sit cross-legged, motionless. By this time Wei Xiaobao had been in the dark for quite a while, he started to be able to see more clearly. He noticed that Xing Chi’s posture in meditating was exactly the same as Yulin whom he saw during the day. Wei Xiaobao was not sure if he was really meditating, or he was simply ignoring him. He said, “The Old Emperor’s real identity is already known, there is no one in Qing Liang Temple who can protect you. A group of the enemy has left, another group will come, in the end, the Old Emperor will be captured by them. We’d better find another quiet place where you can meditate in peace.”

Xing Chi still did not reply. Xing Dian suddenly said, “You, two children are good people, luckily you saved me during the day. When my Shixiong is meditating, he does not talk to anyone. Where do you want him to go?” His voice was originally very loud, but he struggled hard to lower his voice, so that it became very hoarse.

Wei Xiaobao stood up and said, “Anywhere is alright. Wherever your Shixiong wishes to go, we will accompany him there. So long as those bad people cannot find him, the two of you can meditate and chant the names of Buddha in peace and quiet.”

“We do not chant the names of Buddha,” Xing Dian said.

“Alright,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Do not chant the names of Buddha is also fine. Shuang’er, quickly unseal this Dashi’s acupoints.”

Shuang’er stretched out her hand to massage Xing Dian’s back and the side of his torso to unseal his acupoints. “I am really sorry,” she said.

Xing Dian respectfully said to Xing Chi, “Shixiong, these two children are inviting us to temporarily go out and hide.”

Xing Chi said, “Shifu has not told us to leave Qing Liang Temple.” His voice was very clear and bright. It was the very first time that Wei Xiaobao heard his voice.

Xing Dian said, “If the enemies carry out a large scale operation to attack, these two children won’t be able to resist.”

“All circumstances are born in the heart,” Xing Chi said, “When it come to danger, everywhere in the world is dangerous. When the heart is peaceful, everywhere in the world is peaceful. The other day you killed and injured many people, and thus greatly accumulated evil business. Hereafter, no matter what, you must not rush indiscriminately into action without clear understanding.”

Xing Dian stared blankly for half a day before saying, “Shixiong’s direction is true.” Turning his head toward Wei Xiaobao he said, “Shixiong does not want to leave, you have heard him.”

Wei Xiaobao knitted his brows and said, “If the enemy came to get your Shixiong, slicing the flesh of his body piece by piece with a knife, what would you do?”

Xing Dian said, “None among the common people does not die; to live several years longer, or several years shorter, there is not much difference.”

“What do you mean there is not much difference?” Wei Xiaobao asked, “Then there is no difference between a dead person and a living person, there is no difference between man and woman, there is also no difference between monk and turtle or pig?”

“All living creatures are equal,” Xing Dian said, “It has always been like that since the beginning.”

Wei Xiaobao thought, “No wonder one is called Xing Chi, the other is called Xing Dian; they are indeed foolish and inverted[7]. Urging them to leave is unsuccessful. If we seal the Old Emperor’s acupoint and carry him out, it is indeed too disrespectful, plus it will be difficult to escape from other people’s attention.” In that moment he had his hands bound and was unable to do anything, his heart was angered and he was unable to hold back. “If there is not much difference between anything, then there is not much difference between the Empress and Empress Duan Jing, why do you have to leave home?” he blurted.

Xing Chi suddenly sprang up. “You … what did you say?” he asked in trembling voice.

As soon as he blurted out, Wei Xiaobao had already regretted it. Immediately he kowtowed and said, “Your servant is uttering nonsense, Old Emperor please do not get angry.”

Xing Chi said, “The matter of the past, I have already forgotten it. Why do you still use that kind of appellation? Please rise quickly, I have something I’d like to ask you.”

“Yes,” Wei Xiaobao replied. He stood up, thinking, “I have succeeded in arousing your interest to talk, finally there is a little bit of progress.”

“Where did you hear about the two Empresses from?” Xing Chi asked

“I heard it from Hai Dafu when he was talking to the Empress Dowager,” Wei Xiaobao replied.

“You know Hai Dafu?” Xing Chi asked, “What happened to him?”

“He was killed by the Empress Dowager,” Wei Xiaobao replied.

Xing Chi cried out in alarm. “He is dead?” he asked.

Wei Xiaobao said, “The Empress Dowager killed him using the ‘Transforming Bones Soft Palm’ skill.”

With a trembling voice Xing Chi said, “How can the Empress Dowager know … know martial art? How did you know?”

Wei Xiaobao said, “Hai Dafu and the Empress Dowager fought in the garden at the Palace of Compassionate and Peace, I saw it with my own eyes.”

“Who are you?” Xing Chi asked.

“Your servant is the Imperial Bodyguard Deputy Chief Wei Xiaobao,” Wei Xiaobao replied, and then he immediately added, “Currently I am on mission, sent by His Majesty himself. Here is the imperial edict.” While saying that, he presented the imperial note Kangxi wrote.

Xing Chi was staring blankly for a moment, he did not reach out to take the letter. Xing Dian said, “There has never been any lantern in here.”

Xing Chi sighed. “Is the young emperor well?” he asked, “Is he … is he happy being the emperor?”

Wei Xiaobao said, “As soon as the young emperor found out that the Old Emperor is still alive, he wished to grow wings and fly to Mount Wutai. In the Palace he wept and he cried, he was grieving but was also delighted, he wanted to go up the mountain, no matter what. But then … but then he was afraid he might neglect the important matters of the imperial court, so he sent your servant to come first and pay his respect to the Old Emperor. As soon as your servant return and present the memorial to him, the young emperor will personally come here.”

With a trembling voice Xing Chi said, “He … he does not need to come. He is a good emperor, thinking about the important matters of the imperial court first, not like me …” Speaking to this point, his voice turned into sobs.

In the darkness they could hear the sound of his tears dripping on the lapel of his outer garment. Hearing him expressing the father-son affection, Shuang’er felt the pit of her stomach ached, tears also streaming down her face.

Wei Xiaobao thought that he should not miss this golden opportunity, right now the Old Emperor’s emotion was agitated, he would easily hear what Wei Xiaobao had to say. Thereupon Wei Xiaobao said, “Hai Dafu has investigated everything clearly. The Empress Dowager murdered Prince Rong first, then she murdered Empress Duan Jing, and Empress Duan Jing’s meizi Consort Zhen. Afterwards she also murdered the young emperor’s mama. Hai Dafu has investigated everything clearly. When the Empress Dowager knew that the secret has been divulged, she personally killed Hai Dafu. She also dispatched a large number of people to go up Mount Wutai to plot against the Old Emperor’s life.”

The fact that Prince Rong, Empress Duan Jing and Consort Zhen, three people were killed by a martial art expert, had been investigated clearly by Hai Dafu, and had been reported to Xing Chi; afterwards he returned to the palace to investigate the murderer. But no matter what, Xing Chi could not believe that it was the Empress Dowager herself who went into action; he sighed and said, “The Empress Dowager does not know martial art.”

Wei Xiaobao said, “The Old Emperor would understand everything after listening to Empress Dowager and Hai Dafu’s exchange that night.” Thereupon he narrated in details the conversation between the two people that night at the garden. He was eloquent [orig. clever tooth sharp tooth]; although he was talking very fast, each word was very clear.

Xing Chi was originally a sentimental person, only because he was devotedly attached to imperial concubine Dong’e that after her death he did not even want to be the Emperor anymore, he willingly abandoned his position of ten-thousand four-horse chariots and shut himself up in a small secluded room. Although he had practiced Zen meditation for several years, the shadow of imperial concubine Dong’e was etched very deep in his heart that as soon as he heard Wei Xiaobao mentioning her name, in an instant all meditation and Buddhism dharma were tossed away to the back of his mind. The exchange between Hai Dafu and the Empress Dowager flowed in his heart, grief and indignation met together, the flow of chi in the pit of his stomach was blocked, he felt as if he was about to explode.

Finished narrating, Wei Xiaobao added, “Since that old … the Empress Dowager has started it, she will carry it through whatever happens; after she harms you, the Old Emperor, she will murder the young emperor. She also wants to dig Empress Duan Jing’s grave and issue an imperial order throughout the land, to burn down the book ‘Empress Duan Jing’s Quotation’; she said that all those ‘quotations’ are a fart. Any family who possess a copy at home will be searched, their belongings confiscated, and they will be beheaded!” This last part was entirely his fabrication, but it just happened to touch the wound in Xing Chi’s heart.

Xing Chi flew into rage, he slapped his own thigh forcefully and shouted, “That s1ut, I … I should have deposed her early on. With her carry on like this, it just brings disaster!”

In the past, Shunzhi wholeheartedly wanted to depose the Empress and established imperial concubine Dong’e to be the Empress; it was only because the Empress Dowager blocked him that he relented. If the imperial concubine Dong’e did not die, sooner or later the Empress position would be hers.

Wei Xiaobao said, “Old Emperor, you can see through the world’s affair, there is no difference between life and death, the young emperor must not be allowed to die, Empress Duan Jing’s grave must not be excavated, the ‘Empress Duan Jing’s Quotations’ must not be destroyed.”

“Correct,” Xing Chi said, “You are absolutely correct.”

Wei Xiaobao said, “Therefore, we must go into hiding to avoid falling into the Empress Dowager’s evil scheme. The first step in Empress Dowager’s strategy is murdering you, the second step is murdering the young emperor, the third step is digging the grave and burn the ‘Quotations’. As long as the first step is unsuccessful, she would not dare to execute the second step, the third step.”

Shunzhi ascended the throne when he was seven, and left home to become Buddhist monk when he was twenty-four. By this time he was only in his thirties. His natural disposition was hot-tempered, his character fiery; in term of sensibility, although very young, Kangxi was ten times better than his father, consequently, when the Mu Palace people trying to frame Wu Sangui, Kangxi was able to see through their crafty scheme. Wei Xiaobao was telling him half truth and half lies, with a lot of fabrication in his speech, but Xing Chi accepted everything as the truth. However, although Wei Xiaobao fabricated the story about the Empress Dowager’s three steps, he was a disciple of the marketplace, his way of thinking was about the same as that of an insidious woman.

In a loud voice Xing Chi said, “Luckily you lay everything bare in a few words, otherwise the important matter will be spoiled. Shidi, we must leave immediately.”

“Yes,” Xing Dian replied. With his right hand he picked up the golden pestle, with his left hand he pushed the door leaf open.

As the door opened, they saw a shadow standing on the doorway. Xing Dian was unable to see his appearance in the dark. “Who is it?” he shouted, while lifting up his golden pestle.

That man said, “Where are you two going?”

Xing Dian was shocked; he threw away the golden pestle, put his palms together and called out, “Shifu!”

Xing Chi also called out, “Shifu!”

Turned out it was none other than Yulin. He slowly said, “I have heard everything you said.”

“Damn it,” Wei Xiaobao cried out in his heart, “Things have turned to the worse!”

Yulin said in deep voice, “The worldly enmity leading to sin must be resolved, by blindly avoiding it, in the end you won’t achieve anything. The cause will produce the result, which you must bear for as long as you live.”

Xing Chi prostrated himself to the ground, saying, “Shifu’s instruction is very true, disciple understands.”

“I am afraid your understanding is not deep enough,” Yulin said, “Your former wife wants to find you, let her come to find you. Our Buddha shows mercy to all living beings; she blamed you, she hated you, she wanted to kill you, you must resign yourself to her, you must introspect yourself instead, inevitably there must be something that made her blame you, hate you, a strong reason why she is determined to kill you. You try to avoid her, the karma remains. If you send someone to kill her, your evil karma will be even more grave.”

“Yes,” Xing Chi replied with a trembling voice.

Wei Xiaobao cursed in his belly, “F*ck your old bald thief’s granny! I want to curse you, beat you, kill you, I want to see if you’ll let me beat and curse you, I want to see if you’ll let me cut your bald head?”

He heard Yulin continued, “As for Tibetan lamas wanted to capture you, it was they who commit evil karma, they want to use you as a hostage to force the current emperor into submission, to go on the rampage by ignoring the law, oppressing and doing harm to common people. We must not let them have their outrageous way. For the time being, you cannot live here, you must come with me to the little temple at the back.” He turned around and left. Xing Chi and Xing Dian immediately followed him.

Wei Xiaobao thought, “Although the young emperor bestowed me the Yellow Magua, I have never worn it for even one day. If I cannot complete this mission, when I return to Beijing, I won’t be able to answer the young emperor. In his anger, he might go back on his promise and thus won’t bestow the Yellow Magua to me. I’d better follow them and take a look.” Thereupon he and Shuang’er followed to Yulin’s little meditation temple.

Yulin acted as if he did not even see these two people; ignoring them completely, he went straight to the putuan and sat cross-legged. Xing Chi also sat down on the putuan next to him. Xing Dian glanced around, and then sat down on the putuan slightly lower than Xing Chi’s. Yulin and Xing Chi put their palms together and closed their eyes, sitting motionless. Xing Dian, however, opened his round eyes wide, staring at the empty space. Finally he also closed his eyes, his hands resting on his knees. After a while, he reached out to touch the golden pestle by the putuan, afraid that he might lose it.

Wei Xiaobao made a face toward Shuang’er, and then with exaggerated movement he also sat down on the putuan, Shuang’er also sat down close to him. Although Wei Xiaobao was not Sun Wukong, he had always been an active and restless boy, just like real monkey. If he was asked to sit still on the putuan for three quarters of an hour to an hour, it would be the same as asking for his life. But since the Old Emperor was sitting by his side, he was unwilling to leave the temple, no matter what. He twisted to the east, skewed to the west, pulling Shuang’er’s hand, tickling the palm of her hand. With great difficulty Shuang’er resisted the urge to laugh, with her left hand she pointed to Yulin and Xing Chi.

After enduring this for about an hour, Wei Xiaobao suddenly had a thought, “Even if he is learning to be a monk, the Old Emperor can’t possibly resist the need to pee and poo. When he is going out to pee or poo, I will use graceful words, flowery speech to trick him into escaping.” Having had this idea, his body calmed down somewhat.

In the quiet night, suddenly they heard footsteps of a lot of people in the distance. At first the sound was faint, but later on the footsteps were getting nearer and nearer, a large crowd of people were rushing toward Qing Liang Temple. The muscles on Xing Dian’s face twitched several times, he reached out to grab the golden pestle. Opening up his eyes, he saw Yulin and Xing Chi were still sitting motionless. He hesitated for a moment, and then he put down the golden pestle, and closed his eyes again.

They heard the crowd burst into Qing Liang Temple and the continuous sound of people yelling and shouting. Wei Xiaobao thought, “When they fail to find the Old Emperor in the temple, can’t they come here to look for him? I want to see how you, the old bald thief, are going to stop them.”

Sure enough, approximately one hour later, a large group of people swarmed toward the back of the mountain, and arrived outside the little temple. Someone called out, “Go in and search!”

Xing Dian suddenly sprang up, grabbed his golden pestle, and stood on the vihara’s doorway. Wei Xiaobao went to the window and peeked outside. Under the moonlight he saw a dense mass of heads. Turning his head around, he saw Yulin and Xing Chi were still sitting motionless. Shuang’er quietly said, “What should we do?”

Wei Xiaobao replied in low voice, “When those people rush in, we’ll save the Old Emperor, and go out from the back door.” After a short pause, he continued, “If along the way we get separated, we’ll meet again at Ling Jing Temple.”

Shuang’er nodded and said, “I am only afraid I can’t carry the Old … the Old Emperor.”

“We might have to drag him away,” Wei Xiaobao replied.

Suddenly the people outside shouted one after another, “Who’s there randomly breaking through here?” “Grab them!” “Don’t let them in!” “Damn it, get them!”

Shadows of people flashed, two men entered the door, swept past Xing Dian’s body. They put their palms together toward Yulin, and then sat cross-legged on the floor. Turned out they were monks wearing gray robes. The door to this vihara was actually narrow, plus Xing Dian’s bulky body was blocking it, there was really no gap between Xing Dian and the door, yet these two monks lightly and easily slipped through and came in, it seemed that they did not even touch Xing Dian’s clothes. Indeed, nobody knew how these two entered the room.

Outside, the people were shouting again, “Someone is coming!” “Stop him!” “Get him!” But they heard a series of ‘bang! bang! bang!’ noise, some people flew out and fell to the ground. Two more monks entered the room. Without saying anything, they sat down a little bit lower than the two monks who came in first. In this way, pair by pair, several monks successively entered the room.

Wei Xiaobao was amused, he wondered how many more monks would come in; if several more pairs came, very soon there would not be enough room to sit in that meditation room. But after the ninth pair, no more monks came in. To his surprise, one of the ninth pair of monks was the Qing Liang Temple’s Abbot Cheng Guang. Wei Xiaobao was baffled, but was grateful at the same time. “If these seventeen monks’ martial art skill is more or less the same as Cheng Guang’s, we don’t have to fear even if more enemies were coming,” he mused.

Outside, the people were still making a lot of noise, but nobody dared to rush in. After a while, an old-sounding voice said, loud and clear, “Since Shaolin Temple is determined to stand up for Qing Liang Temple, are you going to take the responsibility over this matter on your own heads too?” In the meditation room, nobody answered.

After another moment, the old man outside said again, “Very well, since they have showed off the faces of Shaolin Temple’s Eighteen Luohan, we’d better leave!” Shouts and yells outside repeated continuously, everybody withdrew down the mountain.

Wei Xiaobao sized up the eighteen monks; the old ones were approximately sixty, seventy years old, the young ones were approximately in their thirties, some were tall, some were short, some were handsome, some were ugly. Their Buddhist robes were bulging, apparently they all carried weapons. “They are the Shaolin Temple’s Eighteen Luohan,” he thought, “In that case, Abbot Cheng Guang is also one of the Eighteen Luohan. The old bald thief Yulin is secure in the knowledge that he has a strong backing, turns out he had early on arranged these formidable helpers to escort the Emperor. These monks are meditating in here, I don’t know until when they are going to do this. Laozi cannot waste my time with them, sitting here for nothing. Wei Xiaobao must not sit here until he turns into Wei Laobao[8]!”

Standing up, he went to Xing Chi and knelt down in his presence, saying, “Great Monk, with the Shaolin Temple’s Eighteen Luohan escorting your holy self, you, the Great Monk, is as safe and unmovable as Mount Tai. I am prepared to go back, I wonder if you, Senior, have any instruction?”

Xing Chi opened his eyes; he smiled and said, “Thank you for your trouble. Go back and tell your master: he does not need to go up Mount Wutai and disturb my peaceful meditation. Even if he is here, definitely I won’t meet him. Tell him this: if he wants the whole world at peace, ‘never raise taxes’, these four words [yong bu jia fu] should be firmly planted in his mind. If he can accomplish these four words, it is good enough for me, my heart will be happy.”

“Yes!’ Wei Xiaobao replied.

Xing Chi reached into his bosom and took out a very small bundle, he said, “Give this copy of scripture to your master. Tell him: in the matters of the world, he must let nature take its course, nothing can be forced. It would be best if he could benefit the common people of the Central Plains. But if the common people wanted us to leave, then from the place we came, there we should come back to.” While saying that, he lightly patted the little bundle.

Wei Xiaobao recalled what Tao Hongying had told him; he mused, “Could it be that this is another copy of the Forty-two Chapter Sutra?” Seeing Xing Chi was handing him the bundle over, he reached out and received it with both hands.

After being silent for half a day, Xing Chi said, “You may go!”

“Yes!” Wei Xiaobao said. He crawled down and kowtowed.

“I do not dare,” Xing Chi said, “Benefactor, please rise.”

Wei Xiaobao stood up and walked toward the door. Suddenly his mischief arose, he turned his head toward Yulin and said, “Old monk, you have sat for a long time, don’t you need to pee?” Yulin acted as if he did not hear anything. Wei Xiaobao giggled, and took a step over the threshold.

Xing Chi said, “Tell your master, even if his mother is at fault, she will always be his mother, he must not fail to observe etiquette, he also must not harbor grudge toward her.”

Wei Xiaobao turned around to respond, but in his heart he said, “I am not going to pass on this words of yours.”

Xing Chi said, as if he was muttering to himself, “Tell your master to be careful in everything.”

“Yes,” Wei Xiaobao replied.

Back at the Ling Jing Temple, Wei Xiaobao closed the door and opened the bundle. As expected, it was the Forty-two Chapter Sutra, only the envelope was made of yellow silk. He pondered over what Xing Chi had said, and thought that it corresponds with what Tao Hongying had told him. Xing Chi said, ‘If the common people wanted us to leave, then from the place we came, there we should come back to.’ From outside the mountain pass Manchu people came to the Central Plains; if they want to return, naturally they should go back outside the pass. Xing Chi patted the little package once, obviously he was saying that when the Manchus go back, they could rely on this little package to live their lives. Wei Xiaobao also thought, “The Old Emperor told me to give this sutra to Xiao Xuanzi, should I give it to him or not? I have already had five copies in my hands, with this one, altogether I have six. Of the eight copies, I only short two. If I give this to Xiao Xuanzi, I am afraid the five copies I have will be quite useless. Luckily he did say that even if Xiao Xuanzi goes up Mount Wutai, he won’t meet him; dead men tell no tales. This is a good thing dropped in front of my door, if I don’t embezzle it, I am letting my Wei family’s ancestors down.” But then he thought about how the young emperor had complete confidence in him, embezzling his stuff means he was unworthy to be his friend, that he was being tactless and impulsive toward a friend, not the character of a hero or a warrior. Besides, even if he embezzled the book, he could not read it anyway, so giving it to a good friend seemed to be the right thing to do.

By daybreak the next morning, Wei Xiaobao led Shuang’er, Yu Ba, and their retinue going down the mountain. In going to Mount Wutai this time, he managed to see the Old Emperor, and thus achieved the mission Kangxi entrusted to him. Along the way, he acquired Shuang’er, such a good-looking, tender girl [or servant girl] with superior martial art skill; his heart was very happy.

After walking for about a little over ten li, they saw a toutuo [see footnote 1 (on the title of this chapter)] coming from the opposite direction on the mountain road ahead. This toutuo was very tall, compared to that giant monk Xing Dian, it would be difficult to tell who was taller, but he was strangely very thin. Abbot Cheng Guang was already very thin, but this toutuo was at least half as thin as he. His face looked like skin wrapping a skull, his eyes were very deep, he really looked like a zombie. Perhaps it would take four of this toutuo combined to equal one Xing Dian. His long hair was draped across his shoulder, with a steel hoop on the top of his head to control his hair. He wore an oversized cloth robe, which was fluttering in the wind, as if it was hanging on a clothes-hanger.

Seeing this kind of appearance, Wei Xiaobao was rather scared, he did not dare to look too much, thus he turned his head away and evaded to the other side of the road, letting the toutuo walk pass. As the toutuo walked to him, he halted his steps and asked, “Did you come from Qing Liang Temple?”

“No,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “We came from Ling Jing Temple.”

The toutuo reached out with his left hand toward Wei Xiaobao’s left shoulder and turned his body around, so that Wei Xiaobao was face-to-face with him. “Are you the little eunuch Xiao Guizi from the Palace?” he asked.

His big hand pressed on Wei Xiaobao’s shoulder, immediately Wei Xiaobao felt his body went weak, he was unable to move a single step. “Rubbish!” he hastily said, “You think I look like an eunuch? I am Wei Gongzi [young master, son of nobility] of Yangzhou.”

“Let go of him quickly!” Shuang’er shouted, “How can you be so rude to our family’s Xianggong?”

The toutuo stretched out his right hand to press on Shuang’er’s shoulder. “Listening to your voice, you must be a little eunuch too,” he said.

Shuang’er dropped her right shoulder to dodge, her finger swiftly pointed toward his tian huo acupoint, ‘plop’ it hit right on target, but she felt as if her finger was touching am iron panel, her fingertip was in a lot of pain, even her finger was almost broken. “Ah!” she could not help but crying out. And then she felt her shoulder was in pain too, because the toutuo’s hand, which was as big as a palm-leaf fan, had grabbed her.

“Hey, hey, hey!” the toutuo laughed three times, before saying, “You, this little eunuch, has a very good martial art skill. Formidable, really formidable.”

Shuang’er’s left leg flew up, ‘Bang!’ it landed on his crotch; this time, she felt as if she was kicking a large rock. “Aiyo!” she cried out, tears flowed out of her eyes.

“Little eunuch has amazing martial art, really formidable,” the toutuo said.

“I am not a little eunuch!” Shuang’er shouted, “You are the little eunuch! Aiyo!”

The toutuo laughed, “Do you think I look like a eunuch?” he asked.

“Let me go!” Shuang’er shouted, “If you don’t, I am going to curse you.”

The toutuo said, “You sealed my acupoint, you kicked my thigh, I am not afraid of you; do you think I will afraid your cussing? Your martial art skill is superior, you must be sent out from the Palace, I must search you.”

“Your martial art skill is even higher,” Wei Xiaobao said, “So you must be sent out from the Palace even more.”

The toutuo said, “You, little eunuch, muddle things together.” With left hand carrying Wei Xiaobao and right hand carrying Shuang’er, he rushed up the mountain as if he was flying. The two young people shouted and screaming, the toutuo did not pay any attention, he carried the two people as if they were nothing, his footsteps were very fast. Yu Ba and the others were dumbstruck, nobody dared to make any noise.

The toutuo rushed several zhang along the mountain path, suddenly he turned towards the hill; there was no real path there, but he tread on it as if treading on a plain ground. Wei Xiaobao felt the wind whistling past his ears; he thought, “This toutuo is very formidable, could it be he is a mountain god or some demon?”

After rushing for a while, the toutuo dropped the two people on the ground. He pointed up and said, “If you don’t tell me the truth, I am going to carry you to that mountain peak and toss you down.” What he was pointing at was a very high peak, the top of the peak is hidden in the clouds and mist.

“Alright,” Wei Xiaobao said, “I’ll tell you the truth.”

“If you are sensible,” the toutuo said, “Tell me truthfully, who are you? And who is this kid?”

“Dashi Fu [Great Master father],” Wei Xiaobao said, “She is not a kid, she … she is my … my …”

“Your what?” the toutuo asked.

“She is my … wife!” Wei Xiaobao said.

As soon as these two characters ‘wife’ [lao po] came out of his mouth, both the toutuo and Shuang’er were shocked. Shuang’er’s face blushed deep red. “What?” the toutuo asked in surprise, “What wife?”

“I am not concealing anything from Dashi Fu,” Wei Xiaobao said, “I am a young master of a rich family in Beijing, I fancied this young lady of the family next door, thereupon … we privately agreed to marry each other in the back garden. His father did not agree, so I took her out and we ran away. Look at her, she is a girl, how can she be a little eunuch? You are really doing her injustice. If you don’t believe me, take off her hat and look for yourself.”

The toutuo took off Shuang’er’s hat, exposing her long beautiful hair. At that time, in the whole of China, other than monks, Taoists, toutuo, nuns and people who had left home, everybody must shave the half front part of their heads. Shuang’er’s long hair rolled down, it hung down straight pass her shoulder, no doubt she was a woman.

“Dashi Fu,” Wei Xiaobao said, “I am begging you, if you hand us over to the government authority, I will lose my life. I’ll give you a thousand taels, just let us go!”

“In that case,” the toutuo said, “You really are not an eunuch; which eunuch would take other family’s girl to elope together? Humph, humph, you are very young, but your courage is indeed not small.” While saying that, he let him go. He also asked, “What are you doing going up Mount Wutai?”

Wei Xiaobao replied, “We are going up Mount Wutai to worship Buddha, to ask Bodhisattva to bless and protect us, to let me escape difficulties and become the zhuangyuan, in the future she … my wife, will become a real Madame.” All these ‘privately agreed to marry each other in the back garden’ and ‘escape difficulties and become the zhuangyuan’ and so on he heard from the storytellers when he was still in Yangzhou.

The toutuo thought for a moment, he nodded his head and said, “So I mistook you for someone else. You may go!”

Wei Xiaobao was greatly delighted, “Thank you Dashi,” he said, “When we worship Bodhisattva later, we will ask Bodhisattva to bless and protect you, bless and protect Dashi that in the future … you will also be a great Bodhisattva, that you will rise and sit on the same level with Wenshu Pusa [Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of keen awareness] and Guanyin Pusa [Bodhisattva of Compassion].” Taking Shuang’er’s hand along, they walked down the mountain.

They only walked for several when the toutuo said, “Something’s not right, come back here! Little miss, your martial art skill is amazing, you sealed my acupoint, you kicked me.” While saying that, he rubbed the tian huo acupoint on his waist, and then he asked, “Who taught you martial art? Which school do you belong to?”

Shuang’er could not lie, she blushed and shook her head. Wei Xiaobao said, “Her martial art skill is handed down in a family, it was her mama who taught her.”

“Little miss, what’s your surname?” the toutuo asked.

Wei Xiaobao said, “This, hee hee … it’s rather inconvenient to say.”

“What do you mean inconvenient?” the toutuo said, “Tell me quick!”

“Our surname is Zhuang,” Shuang’er said.

The toutuo shook his head. “Surname Zhuang?” he said, “That’s not right, you lie to me. There is no such martial art expert among those with surname Zhuang in the world, who can teach a girl with such martial art skill.”

Wei Xiaobao said, “There are extremely many people with good martial art skill in the world, how can you know?”

“I was asking this little miss,” the toutuo angrily said, “Don’t interrupt.” While saying that, he pushed lightly on Wei Xiaobao’s shoulder.

This push was very light, for fear that this youngster could not stand it. When his palm touched Wei Xiaobao’s shoulder, he felt Wei Xiaobao easily evaded it. Although his movement was without any strength, the style he used was the move ‘grass stooping down by the wind’; where the shoulder turned around, left palm protecting the face and the right palm ready to strike down, actually it was somewhat similar to the toutuo‘s own school.

The toutuo was surprised, he tried to grab Wei Xiaobao’s chest. Wei Xiaobao sent out a right palm stab with the move ‘spirit snake went out of its hole’; the execution was not the least bit inaccurate. ‘Plop!’ it hit the toutuo‘s neck. But Wei Xiaobao felt like his fingers were stabbing an iron panel. “Aiyo!” he cried out in pain.

Shuang’er’s pair of palms fluttered in the air to attack the toutuo. The toutuo concentrated his strength at the center of his palm and sealed the acupoint on Wei Xiaobao’s chest before turning around to face her. Shuang’er leaped high and crouched low, her movements were light and graceful, but after seven, eight moves, the toutuo‘s two hands managed to catch her arms. With his left elbow he struck her acupoint to immobilize her, and then he turned around and asked Wei Xiaobao, “You said you are a young master of a rich family; how do you know the qin na [grappling technique] of Shen Long Dao [divine dragon island] of Liao Dong peninsula?”

“I am a young master of a rich family,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “Why can’t I know the martial art of Shen Long Island of Liao Dong peninsula? Are you saying that this skill is supposed to be known by only kids from poor family?” While his mouth was uttering whatever he could come up with to buy some time, his mind was racing, “What kind of martial art is the Shen Long Island of Liao Dong peninsula’s martial art? Ah, right, the old turtle Hai said that the old whore impersonated Wudang Pai’s martial art, but actually it was the Snake Island of Liao Dong peninsula’s martial art. That Shen Long Island is most likely the same as the Snake Island. That’s right, the old whore is in cahoots with Shen Long Jiao people, they must dislike the name ‘snake’ and thus changed it to ‘divine dragon’. Xiao Xuanzi’s martial art skill was taught by the old whore, and I often had martial art match with him, unconsciously I learned these several qin na techniques.”

“Rubbish!” the toutuo said, “Who is your Shifu?”

Wei Xiaobao thought, “If I say I was taught by the old whore, it’s the same as admitting that I am a little eunuch from the Palace.” Thereupon he said, “It was my Shushu‘s [younger uncle] good acquaintance, a fat lady, Liu Yan Gugu who taught me.”

The toutuo was greatly surprised. “Liu Yan?” he asked, “Miss Liu is your Shushu‘s good acquaintance? Who is your Shushu?”

“My Shushu is Wei Dabao [da – big],” Wei Xiaobao [xiao – little] replied, “He is Beijing’s well-known distinguished and accomplished young master, each time he spends money, it would be a thousand taels, his appearance looks like an actor on the stage. That fat lady was enchanted by him as soon as she saw him. The fat lady oftentimes came to my house in the depth of the night, jumping over the wall of our flower garden. I nagged her to teach me martial art, and so she taught me these several moves.”

Half believing and half doubting, the toutuo asked, “Does your Shushu know martial art?”

Wei Xiaobao laughed aloud and said, “Does he know farting martial art? He often gets his neck grabbed by Miss Liu Yan, who lifted him up back and forth, without him being able to move the least bit. My Shushu became anxious and cursed her, ‘The child is lifting the father’. Liu Yan Gugu laughed and said, ‘It’s only the child lifting the father, even if the child is lifting the grandfather, it is still not a big deal’.”

He was cursing the toutuo in a roundabout way, but the toutuo did not realize it the least bit; he asked in detail about Liu Yan’s appearance, which, surprisingly, Wei Xiaobao was able to explain without the slightest mistake. Wei Xiaobao said, “This fat Gugu loves to wear red embroidered shoes. Dashi Fu, I am guessing that you are in love with her, are you not? When you see her, take her to sleep with you, it would be best if you could sleep with her and would not wake up forever.” How would the toutuo know that Liu Yan had already died? On the surface it sounded like Wei Xiaobao was babbling nonsense, while actually he was cursing him with the most poisonous curse.

The toutuo angrily said, “Little child should not talk nonsense!” But he actually believed him. He reached out toward Wei Xiaobao’s lower abdomen and patted it lightly, to unseal his acupoint. Unexpectedly his hand touched the Forty-two-chapter Sutra in Wei Xiaobao’s bosom, when he patted, the acupoint was not opened. “What is that?” the toutuo asked.

“It’s a big stack of banknotes I stole from home,” Wei Xiaobao replied.

“Braggart!” the toutuo said, “How can there be that many banknotes?” Reaching into Wei Xiaobao’s pocket, he groped around and took the package out. When he untied the package, to his utter amazement, he found a sutra. He was dumbstruck for a moment, and then his face showed utter delight. “Forty-two-chapter Sutra! Forty-two-chapter Sutra!” he called out. Hastily he wrapped it back and put it inside his own pocket. Grabbing Wei Xiaobao by the chest, he raised him high and in a stern voice asked, “Where did you get it from?”

This question was not easy to answer, Wei Xiaobao laughed. “Tee hee … hee … are you asking me? It’s complicated and not easy to explain succinctly; I won’t be able to tell you everything just in this short moment.” He was stalling, while trying to think about some ‘covering the sky and seamless clouds’ story to swindle this toutuo. Naturally to make up some wild story about where the sutra came from was extremely easy, but now that the book had fallen into the toutuo‘s hand, to deceive him into handing it back would be extremely difficult.

The toutuo said in a loud voice, “Who gave it to you?”

Wei Xiaobao’s body was hanging in the air, he suddenly saw seven, eight monks in grey robes on the hillside coming toward them. From their appearance, he knew they were the Eighteen Luohan of Shaolin whom he had seen at the small vihara behind the Qing Liang Temple. Turning his head around, he saw several more monks, together with several monks coming up from the western hillside, there were a total of seventeen, eighteen monks. He was delighted and said in his heart, “Thief toutuo, even if your martial art skill is stronger, you are no match for the Eighteen Luohan of Shaolin.”

“Tell me quick, tell me quick!” the toutuo said. Noticing that Wei Xiaobao was glancing to the east and looking to the west, he followed his gaze and saw on the hillside to the east, north and west, three directions more than a dozen monks were slowly coming up, but he was unconcerned at all. “What do those monks come here for?” he asked.

Wei Xiaobao said, “They heard Dashi Fu’s martial art skill is superior, they are full of admiration, hence they come here to take you as their master.”

The toutuo shook his head and said, “I have never received any disciple.” Raising his voice, he called out, “Hey, get the hell out of here quickly, don’t come here to make trouble!” His shout echoed from the mountains on all sides, showing off his astonishing might.

The eighteen monks did not seem to hear, they continued going up the mountain. An old monk with long eyebrows put his palms together and said, “Dashi, are you the Fat Revered Monk[9] of Liaodong?”

Wei Xiaobao was still hanging midair, hearing the question, he could not help but burst out laughing. This toutuo was so thin that he was a rarity in the world, yet the old monk asked if he was the Fat Revered Monk; Wei Xiaobao thought that he was ridiculing him.

To his surprise, the toutuo replied in loud voice, “I am indeed Fat Toutuo! Are you all here to take me as your master? I don’t accept any disciple! Whom have you studied martial art with?”

The old monk replied, “Lao Na is Cheng Xin of Shaolin Temple, the humble head of Damo Hall. These are my seventeen Shidi, all are my companions in the Damo Hall.”

“Ah!” Fat Toutuo exclaimed, he slowly let Wei Xiaobao down. “Turns out all eighteen luohan of Shaolin Temple’s Damo Hall are here. So you are not here to take me as your master. I am alone cannot beat all of you.”

Cheng Xin put his palms together and said, “We have neither grievance nor enmity with you, we are all followers of Buddha, how could you talk about this character ‘to beat’? Luohan [Arhat] are the sages of Buddhism, we are merely ordinary folks, how can we dare to receive this appellation? Wulin friends carelessly address us with this honorary title, we really do not deserve it. The Fat and Thin Revered Monks of Liaodong’s remarkable feats are without rival, we have always admired you. Today we are brought together by fate, indeed it is our great good fortune.” Speaking to this point, the other seventeen monks put their palms together to salute.

Fat Toutuo bowed to return the salute; without straightening up his body, he asked, “You are all coming to Mount Wutai, what’s the purpose of your trip?”

Pointing to Wei Xiaobao, Cheng Xin said, “This young benefactor has some relationship with our Shaolin Temple, I am asking Dashi to raise your hand and let him go down the mountain.”
Fat Toutuo hesitated; he saw the opponent had many men and greater force, he knew that each one of the eighteen luohan of Shaolin had astonishing martial art skill, he did not give the slightest care of fighting one on one, but he would not be able to deal with all eighteen of them. Thereupon he said, “Very well, looking at Dashi‘s face, I’ll let him go.” Finished speaking, he leaned over and massaged Wei Xiaobao’s lower abdomen several times to unseal his acupoint.

As soon as Wei Xiaobao was able to stand, he held out his right palm and said, “The sutra was given to me by a friend of these eighteen luohan, who asked me to deliver it to … to Shaolin Temple and hand it over to the head monk Abbot. Would you return it to me?”

“What?” Fat Toutuo angrily said, “What does this sutra have to do with Shaolin Temple?”

With a loud voice Wei Xiaobao said, “You seized the sutra away from me, it was the old monk who ask me to deliver it to someone else, it is extremely important, quickly give it back to me!”

“Rubbish!” Fat Toutuo said. Turning around, he leaped down from the northern slope of the mountain. Three Shaolin monks immediately flew and reached out to grab his arm, Fat Toutuo did not dare to fight the monks, he sidestepped to evade the three monks’ grabbing palm. His stature was very tall, yet his movement was incomparably agile.

In this grabbing movement, the three monks of Shaolin had used top-notch technique of Shaolin martial arts, unexpectedly they failed to even touch his clothes. But in the instant Fat Toutuo’s movement was slowed down, four more Shaolin monks had blocked behind his back, eight palms crisscrossed, closing his escape route.

Fat Toutuo let out a loud bellow, his palms pushed out using the move ‘five nails cut into the mountain’. Borrowing the momentum of this overwhelming force, he turned around and swiftly fled southward. The four Shaolin monks pushed put their palms together from left and right. Fat Toutuo’s palm force collided with the four monks. He felt the palm strike from the left side was hard and stiff, while the palm strike of other two monks from the right was soft and continuously flowing; he could not help but was greatly shocked. Sending out all his power to his palms, he was barely able to resist the opposing force. Right this time, from behind him three claws were coming toward his back.

Fat Toutuo took a quick glance and saw the two monks on his left sending out their punches, instantly his feet kicked the ground and he flew upward; but the extended palms of the three monks behind him were not the same, they were using ‘dragon claw’, ‘tiger claw’ and ‘eagle claw’ styles, respectively, he was intimidated inwardly. Coiling his large sleeve, he created a gust of strong wind, as soon as his left foot landed on the ground, his right hand grabbed Wei Xiaobao. “Do you want him to die, or do you want him to live?” he called out.

Some of the eighteen Shaolin monks advancing, some retreating, they formed two circles, surrounding Fat Toutuo in the middle. Cheng Xin said, “The sutra of this young benefactor is very important, I am asking Dashi to please return it, and thus binding good karma. We will be deeply grateful.”

With right hand lifting Wei Xiaobao high in the air and left palm pressing the crown of his head, Fat Toutuo walked southwards in big strides. The situation was clear: if the Shaolin monks put forth their hands to block him, he would slightly exert some strength on his left palm, Wei Xiaobao’s skull would be crushed immediately.

The several Shaolin monks blocking on the south hesitated. They could only chant ‘Amitabha Buddha’ and stepped aside to let him through. Carrying Wei Xiaobao, Fat Toutuo dashed to the south, he went faster and faster. The eighteen luohan of Shaolin Temple unleashed their qing gong to follow him closely.

By this time, Shuang’er’s sealed acupoint had been unsealed by the Shaolin monks. Seeing Wei Xiaobao was captured, she was alarmed and frightened, and immediately raised her chi to pursue. Since her punching and kicking skill was taught by an expert, her martial art was quite amazing, but she was still very young, her internal energy cultivation differed too far from those Shaolin monks, plus her stature was small, her steps short, in just one or two li, she had already fallen behind. In her distress, she broke up crying, but she did not stop running after them. Although Fat Toutuo was carrying a person, his speed did not diminished at all, unexpectedly the Shaolin monks were not able to catch on.

After running for a while, still carrying Wei Xiaobao, Fat Toutuo dashed toward a mountain peak directly south of them. The eighteen Shaolin monks ran after him in single file. Shuang’er followed to the foot of the peak and she was already out of breath. Looking up, she saw the peak was very high; she thought that the evil toutuo took her xianggong to the top of the mountain peak, there was a one in ten thousand chance that he would take a wrong step and fall down. The evil toutuo may not necessarily die, but how could xianggong be alive?

While she was having this frightening thought, suddenly she heard loud rumbling noise as pieces of big rocks rolled down the mountain path. The eighteen Shaolin monks leaped to the left and jumped to the right, continuously dodging the rocks. What happened was that as Fat Toutuo reached the peak, he continuously kicked the rocks along the path so that the rocks rolled down to block the enemy. How could the eighteen Shaolin monks let the rocks smash them? However, the distance between them widened considerably.

When battling Huangfu Ge, Abbot Cheng Guang had received injury on the pit of his stomach, his internal energy was adversely affected, he fell behind the seventeenth monk. Shuang’er struggled hard to pursue to the peak, she called out, “Fangzhang Dashi, Fangzhang Dashi!”

Cheng Guang turned his head around and stopped to wait for her. Seeing her rushing while gasping for breath, and with frightened expression on her face, he consoled her by saying, “Don’t be afraid! He won’t harm your master [orig. gongzi].” Afraid that she might hurt herself by rushing like that, he took her hand and together they slowly walked up the mountain.

Shuang’er’s heart was somewhat comforted; she asked, “Abbot, he … can he possibly harm Xianggong?”

“He can’t,” Cheng Guang replied. Although his mouth said so, seeing Fat Toutuo was so vicious, how could he ascertain that?

This mountain peak was Mount Wutai’s southern platform [reminder: wutai means five platforms], luckily it was a winding mountain path, with a lot of twists and turns, after several turns, the rocks Fat Toutuo kicked were no longer a threat to them. By the time Cheng Guang and Shuang’er reached the Southern Platform Peak, they saw seventeen Shaolin monks were surrounding a temple; naturally Fat Toutuo and Wei Xiaobao were inside the temple.

Altogether Mount Wutai has five mountain peaks, on each peak there was a temple. Mount Wutai was a Buddhist mountain dedicated to the teaching of Manjushri, each temple on the peak was dedicated to the different title of Manjushri, according to Manjushri’s vast divine power, and according to the different era that he appeared in the flesh. The Eastern Platform was called Wang Hai Peak, the temple built on the peak was the Wang Hai Temple [lit. facing the ocean], dedicated to the intelligence of Manjushri. On the Northern Platform’s Ye Dou[10] Peak, there was Ling Ying Temple [spiritual response], dedicated to ‘without disgrace’ of Manjushri. On the Central Platform’s Cui Yan [azure cliff] Peak, there was Yan Jiao Temple [practicing religion], dedicated to scholarly boy Manjushri. On the Western Platform’s Gua Yue [hanging moon] Peak, the Fa Lei Temple [thundering Buddhist teaching] built there was dedicated to the lion-like character of Manjushri. On the Southern Platform’s Jin Xiu [beautiful] Peak, the Pu Ji Temple [universal relief] constructed there was dedicated to the wisdom of Manjushri. [Translator’s note: my apology for being unfamiliar with Buddhist teaching, and thus the translation might be inaccurate. I simply translated the words literally, if any of you have better idea, feel free to suggest correction.]

These people happened to be on the Jin Xiu Peak, and that temple was the Pu Ji Temple. Shuang’er called out several times, “Xianggong, Xianggong!” But there was no reply. Lifting up her feet, she rushed into the temple.

Shuang’er dashed straight toward the main hall and saw Fat Toutuo was standing by the mouth of the water drainage from the eaves of the Hall of Great Strength, his right hand was still clutching Wei Xiaobao. Shuang’er rushed over can called out, “Xianggong, did the evil monk hurt you?”

“Don’t worry,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “He will not dare to harm me.”

Fat Toutuo angrily said, “Why won’t I dare to harm you?”

Wei Xiaobao laughed, “If you harm a single strand of my hair, the eighteen luohan of Shaolin will catch you, and will change you back to your original state; you will turn back into a short and fat man, then you will be really bad.”

Fat Toutuo’s countenance changed greatly; with a trembling voice he said, “What do you mean change me back to my original state? You … you … how did you know?”

Actually, Wei Xiaobao did not have the slightest idea, he was only thinking that his stature was tall and thin, but he was called the ‘Fat Toutuo’, so he was just speaking thoughtlessly, without any reason whatsoever. Unexpectedly, he seemed to hit the toutuo’s sore spot.

Wei Xiaobao was able to see the change in the toutuo’s countenance, and hear the fright in his voice; immediately he laughed coldly, “Hey, hey, naturally I know,” he said.

“They don’t have that ability,” Fat Toutuo said. Suddenly his right foot flew up, ‘Bang!’ he kicked the stone drum in front of the steps that it crashed onto the screen wall across the gate. Fragments of rocks swirl in the air. He turned to Shuang’er and asked, “What are you doing here? Are you bored of being alive?”

Shuang’er said, “Xianggong and I will live together and die together; if you harm just half a part of him, I will fight you to the death.”

“Damn it,” Fat Toutuo angrily said, “What’s so good about this little demon? Are you, the little baby girl, in love with him?”

Shuang’er blushed, she could not answer the question. “Xianggong is a good man,” she said, “You are a wicked man.”

They heard the eighteen Shaolin monks outside chanted the name of Buddha together, “Amitabha Buddha, Amitabha Buddha! Fat Reverend Monk, please release the young benefactor and return the sutra to him! You are an outstanding and famous hero and warrior of the Wulin world, yet you are making things difficult for a little child, won’t you be the laughingstock of the people of the world?”

Fat Toutuo roared, “If you keep babbling nonsense, Laozi will not be polite anymore. We will all break up with one strike, laozi will kill this little child and destroy the sutra, I want to see what are you going to do about it?”

Cheng Xin said, “Fat Reverend Monk, what do you want so that you will be willing to release him and return the sutra?”

“Release him is still possible,” Fat Toutuo said, “But no matter what, I won’t return the sutra.” The monks outside fell silent.

Fat Toutuo looked around the main hall, looking for a way to escape. Suddenly grey shadows flashed, the eighteen Shaolin monks flew into the hall. Keeping close to the left wall, five Shaolin monks circled around to his back. Keeping close to the left wall, five Shaolin monks circled around to his back. In an instant he was surrounded again by the eighteen Shaolin monks.

Fat Toutuo angrily said, “If you have guts, let’s fight one on one. You can try Laozi’s hands one by one, taking turn in fighting me, laozi won’t care.”

Cheng Xin put his palms together and said, “Please forgive our rudeness, we must fight you together.”

Fat Toutuo raised his left foot and lightly stepped on Wei Xiaobao’s head, while laughing coldly. Smelling the mud odor from the sole of his shoe, Wei Xiaobao was both frightened and angered; with the stinky shoe on his head, unexpectedly his brain also became muddled, in that instant he could not think of anything else. His eyes swept the hall randomly, trying to find something in that main hall with which he could provoke the toutuo. He only needed to talk some nonsense to divert Fat Toutuo’s attention, so that his concentration was somewhat broken, then the Shaolin monks would have the opportunity to help him. However, with his head underneath the toutuo’s foot, he could only look to one side of the courtyard outside. He saw a large stone turtle with a large vertical stone tablet on its back.

“Fat Reverend Monk,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Your dad is always crawling in the courtyard, with a tens-of-thousands-catty large stone pressing on his back, isn’t he suffering too much? You are not even trying to help him, you are really lacking of filial piety.”

“What do you mean my dad is crawling in the courtyard?” Fat Toutuo angrily said, “Your mouth is full of rubbish.”

Wei Xiaobao said, “That Forty-two-chapter Sutra, altogether there are eight copies, you only have one. Without obtaining the other seven copies, what good is the one you have?”

Fat Toutuo hastily asked, “Where are the other seven copies? Do you know?”

“Naturally I do,” Wei Xiaobao replied.

“Where are they?” Fat Toutuo asked, “Tell me quickly, if you don’t, I am going to crush your skull with my foot.”

“At first I did not know, but I found out about it just now,” Wei Xiaobao said.

“You have just found out about it?” Fat Toutuo asked in amazement, “What do you mean?”

Stretching out his neck, Wei Xiaobao looked at the stone tablet. The entire stone tablet was engraved with curvy seal-script characters, naturally Wei Xiaobao did not know it, he was just pretending to read aloud the inscription on the tablet. “The Forty-two-chapter Sutra,” he slowly read, “Altogether there are eight copies. The first copy is hidden in some temple on some mountain in Henan province. I do not recognize those several characters.”

“What characters?” Fat Toutuo asked. Seeing Wei Xiaobao was staring at the stone tablet in the courtyard, he asked in amazement, “You understand the inscription on that stone tablet?”

Wei Xiaobao did not pay him any attention, he read the inscription on the stone tablet with rapt attention, “The second copy is hidden in some Buddhist nun monastery on some mountain in Shanxi province. Pang Laoxiong [old fellow fat], I don’t recognize these several characters, the engraving is fuzzy, you are well-versed in both literature and martial art, why don’t you go and look at it yourself?”

Fat Toutuo believed him; he bent over to lift Wei Xiaobao up and brought him out of the hall’s door to look at the stone tablet. The writings on the stone tablet were actually in seal-script; if he said it was some writing, he himself did not recognize even a single character, but if he said it was not some writing, then what was engraved on the stone tablet?

He heard Wei Xiaobao continue reading, “The third copy is on some mountain in Sichuan? I don’t recognize that character either.”

Fat Toutuo had heard long ago that there were altogether eight copies of the Forty-two-chapter Sutra, and that one must have all eight copies to unleash their greatest usefulness. As for the location of the sutras, he did not have the slightest clue. Listening to Wei Xiaobao, he no longer had the slightest doubt; immediately he lifted up his foot and pulled him up and asked, “And where is the fourth copy?”

Wei Xiaobao squinted to gaze at the stone tablet, he leaned his head to the left, and then leaned it to the right, finally he shook his head and said, “I can’t figure it out.”

Fat Toutuo lifted him up and brought him three steps closer to the stone tablet. When they were near, his face showed an inquiring expression. Wei Xiaobao said, “My head is so itchy.”

“What?” Fat Toutuo asked.

“There’s flea in this temple,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “It went into my hair and bit me. Pang Laoxiong, please catch the flea for me. My scalp is unbearably itchy, I cannot see clearly.”

Fat Toutuo took off his hat and stretched out his huge palm, and with his five as-big-as-wooden-club fingers he scratched Wei Xiaobao’s hair. “Is it better?” he asked.

“No,” Wei Xiaobao said, “The flea bit me on the left part of my scalp, you were scratching the right part; the more you scratched, the itchier it becomes.” Therefore, Fat Toutuo scratched the left part of his scalp. Wei Xiaobao said, “Aiyo, the flea jumped onto my neck, did you see it?”

Fat Toutuo was fully aware that he was being mischievous, but he still relaxed his hand holding Wei Xiaobao’s wrist; only he placed his left hand lightly on Wei Xiaobao’s shoulder to prevent him from running away. “Just scratch it yourself!” he said.

“Aiyo!” Wei Xiaobao said, “This granny’s flea is so difficult to deal with, it must have not eaten human’s blood in three years. Originally it was short and fat, and now it is so starved that it turns thin and shriveled, hence it came here staking everything it has to make things difficult for laozi.” While saying that, he reached into his collar with his left hand and scratched vigorously.

Fat Toutuo knew Wei Xiaobao was cursing him as a flea in a roundabout way, but he pretended not to notice. “Where is the fourth copy hidden at?” he asked.

“Um, the fourth copy,” Wei Xiaobao said, “It is hidden in some mountain, Shao … Shaolin Temple’s Da … Da something courtyard?”

Fat Toutuo was shocked. “It is hidden in Shaolin Temple’s Damo Courtyard?” he asked.

Seeing he was very afraid of the eighteen Shaolin monks, and knowing that these Shaolin monks were from Damo Courtyard, Wei Xiaobao deliberately came out with this difficult problem; he wanted to play trick on him, thinking that even if he had an enormous courage, he would not dare to go to Shaolin Temple’s Damo Courtyard to steal the sutra. “Is that the character ‘mo’?” Wei Xiaobao asked, “I did not know it. Pang Laoxiong, you even know this difficult character, why should you tell me to read? Ah, I know, you are simply testing me. I am ashamed, on each line, there are several characters that I do not recognize.”

Fat Toutuo cast a sidelong glance toward the Shaolin monks, his expression showed trepidation and uncertainty; he asked, “And where is the fifth copy hidden at?”

Shaolin Temple was a major sect of the Wulin world. Wei Xiaobao had heard Hai Dafu mentioning it, who had also mentioned that the Empress Dowager pretended to be from Wudang Pai. In turn, the Empress Dowager had thought that Hai Dafu was from Kongtong Pai. Therefore, Wudang and Kongtong were also two major sects. Thereupon he said that the fifth and sixth copies were hidden separately on Wudang and Kongtong, two mountains. Fat Toutuo’s countenance turned uglier and uglier. Wei Xiaobao said that the seventh copy was obtained by the Mu Palace people of Yunnan, and the eighth was in some Xi Wang’s [west king] mansion. Bai Hanfeng had given him some trouble, so he was trying to even up by mentioning the Mu Palace. In Wu Sangui, Ping Xi Wang’s palace, there were martial art experts as many as the clouds, even his own Shifu was afraid of it, if Fat Toutuo was brazen enough to cause trouble, he would definitely suffer an enormous suffering.

To his surprise, however, Fat Toutuo’s countenance changed greatly as he asked, “Did you say the eighth copy is in Ping Xi Wang’s mansion?”

“I do not know this character,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “I am not sure if it is Ping Xi Wang.”

Fat Toutuo was angry; suddenly he exploded, “Rubbish! If not a thousand years old, this stone tablet is at least five hundred years; how old is Wu Sangui? How can an inscription of several hundred years ago mention Ping Xi Wang Wu Sangui?”

The stone tablet was jet-black, the stone tortoise and the stone tablet were covered with moss, the engraved inscriptions were worn out and badly damaged; one look at it, one would immediately know that this article was a several hundred year old antique. Wei Xiaobao did not understand this logic and hence he made idle talk trying to implicate Wu Sangui.

“Bad, bad!” he groaned inwardly. Trying to recover from his blunder he said, “I said I do not know that character, it was you who said ‘Ping Xi Wang’, perhaps in ancient times there was a Gou Xi Wang, Mao Xi Wang or even Wugui[11] Xi Wang in Yunnan. Pang Laoxiong, let me tell you this: these characters are squiggly, they are very difficult to recognize. If you know it, then you know it, if you don’t know it, then admit it. You pretend to know, yet you read something about Ping Xi Wang Wu Sangui. Here we have several great monks, each and every one of them is a man of learning and profound knowledge; you randomly read wrong characters, won’t you make them laugh at you till their mouths crooked?”

This speech actually made sense, making Fat Toutuo’s thin face immediately blushed deep red from ear to ear. He was not angry at all, but nodded his head and said, “I do not recognize even one word of these tadpole characters, so it is not Ping Xi Wang. What else is written below it?”

“What a close call!” Wei Xiaobao mused, “After rebuking him a little, I need to cover it up. I have to say a few nice things to make him happy. He changed the ‘Snake Island’ to ‘Divine Dragon Island’; he also knew the fat pig Liu Yan, most probably he is a member of Shen Long Jiao.” After cocking his head and looking at the stone tablet for half a day, he said, “The following seems to say ‘long life as heaven … heaven … heaven …’ heaven what?”

Fat Toutuo immediately looked tense, “Look carefully,” he said, “Long life as heaven what?”

“It looks like the character … the character … um, character ‘qi’ [even/level with]. Right, it must be ‘long-life is the same as the Heaven’s’!”

Fat Toutuo was greatly delighted, he repeatedly rubbed his hands and said, “This sentence does exist. And then what?”

Wei Xiaobao pointed to the stone tablet and said, “These characters are really squiggly, they are hard to recognize. Ah right, this must me ‘Hong’ character, ‘Hong Jiaozhu’, three characters, and then there’s ‘Shen Long’ two characters! Look here, these are ‘shen tong guang da’, four characters [magical power is extensive].”

“Wow!” Fat Toutuo exclaimed loudly, he jumped up and down and said, “Hong Jiaozhu really has such good fortune, his long-life is the same as the Heaven’s? It is written on this thousand years old stone tablet?”

Wei Xiaobao said, “On top of that, it is written that this is … this is a monument established by Tang Taizong Li Shimin[12], who sent Qin Shubao, Cheng Yaojin to erect it. It is clearly written on this stone tablet that during the Tang Dynasty, there was a military master called Xu Maogong, who knew events that happened a thousand years before and a thousand years after, who foretold that after a thousand years, during the Great Qing Dynasty, there will be Hong Jiaozhu of Shen Long Jiao, whose magical power is extensive and whose long-life is the same as the Heaven’s.”

The storytellers in Yangzhou’s teahouses often narrated the stories of Sui and Tang dynasties, which he had heard many times. The names Cheng Yaojin and Xu Maogong were deeply etched in his mind. Actually Xu Maogong was the great general of the founding of the Tang Dynasty, Xu Ji, who shared the same fame as Li Jing[13], the (National) Duke of Ying Li Ji[14]; he was absolutely not an ox-nosed military master who pinched fingers and making calculation to know the past and the future; but how would Wei Xiaobao know about it? [Translator’s note: ox-nosed is a derogatory term to refer to Taoist priests.] He was simply trying to paint a living-spirit, living-image picture to swindle Fat Toutuo, to make him confused and disoriented, so that the eighteen Shaolin monks could seize the opportunity to save him. As for ‘Hong Jiaozhu’s magical power is extensive and his long-life is the same as the Heaven’s’ and so on, he heard it in the big house of the Zhuang family, when Zhang Laosan and the other Shen Long Jiao people mentioning it. Sure enough, as soon as Fat Toutuo heard this, he grabbed his own head and scratched his own ears in infinite joy, his mouth was opened wide and he could not close it again.

Wei Xiaobao said, “I wonder if there is something else written on the back of this big stone.”

“Yes!” Fat Toutuo said. He walked around to look at the back of the stone tablet.

Wei Xiaobao took a sudden big stride forward and jumped backward. Fat Toutuo was startled, and hastily reached out to grab. Four Shaolin monks from both sides simultaneously waved their palms to strike. Fat Toutuo did not have any choice but to send a fist to ward off. By this time Wei Xiaobao had already hidden behind the Shaolin monks. In an instant four more Shaolin monks stepped forward.

Eight Shaolin monks constantly circle around Fat Toutuo in fast motion, while their hands continuously sent out attack after attack. It did not matter if the attack hit the target or not, as soon as one strike failed, the next strike arrived. Sixteen hands struck from eight directions; obviously it was a well-trained formation. Fat Toutuo’s defense was very tight, but with one against eight, right away he sensed that he would not be able to endure.

‘Slap! Slap!’ a Shaolin monk exchanged palm strikes with Fat Toutuo. The Shaolin monk jumped out of the arena, another monk stepped in. After fighting for a while, Fat Toutuo’s leg was kicked. He stretched out his arms, made a turn, and forced the eight Shaolin monks to withdraw two steps back. “Hold on!” he called out.

Each one of the eight Shaolin monks took two more steps back. Fat Toutuo said, “Today the few are no match for the many, I’ll give the sutra back to you!” Reaching into his bosom, he took out the sutra.

Cheng Xin waved his left hand, the eight Shaolin monks took two steps forward, now they were less than three chi away from Fat Toutuo, each one poised for another strike. Fat Toutuo ignored them completely. He held out his hand with the sutra in it. Cheng Xin circulated the internal energy from his dantian several times, now his entire body was shielded with his inner strength. He put his three left fingers together in secret to guard against the follow-up attack. Only then did he stretch out his right hand to slowly receive the sutra.

Unexpectedly, Fat Toutuo did not make any move; he returned the sutra and then with a smile he said, “Cheng Xin Dashi, your eighteen luohan of Shaolin is world famous, eighteen of you beat me, one man; don’t you think it is rather lack of splendor?”

Cheng Xin put the sutra into his bosom, put his palms together, bowed and said, “Forgive our offense. In one-on-one combat, Shaolin monks are not the Fat Revered Monk’s match.” With a wave of his left hand, all the monks withdrew simultaneously. For fear that he would try to grab Wei Xiaobao again, five or six monks stood on guard in front of him.

“Benefactor Wei,” Fat Toutuo said, “I have an earnest request that I will ask you to please grant it to me.”

“What is it?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

“I want to invite you to the Divine Dragon Island,” Fat Toutuo replied, “To be our guest for several days.”

Wei Xiaobao was taken aback, “What?” he said, “You want me to go to the Divine Dragon Island? That kind of place …”

Fat Toutuo said, “The young benefactor’s sutra is in Cheng Xin Dashi’s hand, he will submit it to Shaolin Fangzhang. The young benefactor is coming to the Divine Dragon Island, our Cult people, from top to bottom, will definitely treat you with utmost respect. After you meet with Hong Jiaozhu, I will definitely send young benefactor out of the island safe and sound.”

He saw Wei Xiaobao was closing his mouth tight, obviously he did not believe him; thereupon he said, “Cheng Xin Dashi, I am asking you to be my witness. Have you ever known Fat Toutuo said something but not doing it?”

Cheng Xin knew that although this toutuo‘s conduct was rather heretical and presumptuous, he was not significantly evil. The fact that fat and thin, two toutuo had always fulfilled their promise, he had indeed heard about it long ago. He said, “The fact that Fat Revered Monk is trustworthy is widely known. It’s just that Benefactor Wei has a very important matter to attend, I am afraid he won’t have time to go to the Divine Dragon Island.”

“That’s right,” Wei Xiaobao said, “I am extremely busy. When I have time in the future, I will go to the Divine Dragon Island to visit Fat Revered Monk and Hong Jiaozhu.”

Fat Toutuo hastily said, “You should have said Hong Jiaozhu and his, the Senior’s, subordinate Fat Toutuo. First, there is no one in the world may rank above him, the Senior. By saying other people’s name first before mentioning Hong Jiaozhu is highly disrespectful.”

“What about the Emperor?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

Fat Toutuo replied, “Naturally Hong Jiaozhu first, the Emperor behind him. Second, in the presence of Jiaozhu, the Senior, you must not mention ‘Revered Monk’ or ‘Taoist Master’[15]. In this entire world, only Hong Jiaozhu deserves to be revered.”

Wei Xiaobao stuck out his tongue and said, “Hong Jiaozhu is so formidable, I do not dare to meet him even more.”

Fat Toutuo said, “Hong Jiaozhu is benevolent and loving, his kindness covers the whole world. Toward a brilliant and clever young hero like young benefactor, the Senior is sure to be absolutely thrilled. If the young benefactor goes to the Divine Dragon Island, you will definitely return from a rewarding journey. The Senior, Jiaozhu, is very generous, it goes without saying. Perhaps when the Senior is happy, he would teach you a move or half a style; henceforth the young benefactor will be able to reap endless benefit when you are roaming the world.”

He was speaking very sincerely, fervently and passionately. At first he did not even consider Wei Xiaobao worthy in his eyes, he even stepped on his head, but now his speech was full of ‘young benefactor’ and ‘a brilliant and clever young hero’. Afraid that Wei Xiaobao could not hear him clearly, he bent his bamboo-pole-like body and spoke next to his ear.

Wei Xiaobao recalled Tao Hongying’s story, and remembered seeing the action of Zhang Laosan and the other at the Zhuang home; he also remembered the Empress Dowager and Liu Yan, and the appearance of the fake palace maid, the man who dressed as a woman. In short, he had an unspeakable disgust toward Shen Long Jiao. Comparatively speaking, among the Shen Long Jiao people, Fat Toutuo still had several part of lofty quality as a hero. But after using force to rob the sutra and carrying Wei Xiaobao here and there, now suddenly his manner changed completely, he wanted to invite him as a guest to the Divine Dragon Island, Wei Xiaobao was certain that Fat Toutuo was harboring some malicious intentions. Right now he was speaking politely, but it must be because he was no match for the Shaolin monks. As soon as the Shaolin monks left, he would definitely resort to violence again, and then who would be able to put him under control? Thereupon Wei Xiaobao shook his head and said, “I am not going!”

Fat Toutuo’s thin face looked extremely dejected. Slowly he straightened up his body, and cast a glance toward the eighteen Shaolin monks surrounding him. “Young benefactor,” he said slowly, “In your opinion, how is my martial art compared to these eighteen great monks?”

“Each has its strong points,” Wei Xiaobao said.

“What do you mean each has its strong points?” Fat Toutuo angrily said, “If we fight one on one, do you think they can beat me?”

Wei Xiaobao replied, “One on one, perhaps you will win. One against eighteen, you will definitely lose. This is what I mean by each has its strong points. If one on one and you still lose, you don’t have any farting points! Your only strong point is that you are taller than they are.”

Fat Toutuo smiled and said, “Have you seen anybody else with martial art skill as superior as mine?”

“Of course I have!” Wei Xiaobao replied, “Your martial art skill is just so-so, I have seen not a few people whose martial art skill is ten times better than yours.”

Fat Toutuo was angry; he jumped one step forward with stretched arm to grab him. Four Shaolin monks simultaneously stretched out their palms to block. Fat Toutuo said, “Name those people whose martial art is superior to mine.”

Momentarily Wei Xiaobao was at a loss for words; he could not remember seeing anybody whose martial art skill was higher than his. His own Shifu’s martial art skill was extremely high, but he could not necessarily beat him.

Fat Toutuo was very smug, he said, “You see, you can’t name even one, can you?”

“What do you mean I can’t name one?” Wei Xiaobao said, “I just don’t want to tell you, for fear you might be really frightened. There are so many people whose martial art skill is higher than yours. The first one is Tian Di Hui’s Zongduozhu Chen Jinnan. I have seen him fighting in Beijing, with his pair of hands he caught four toutuo, each toutuo weighs more than two hundred catties. With just a kick of his legs, he was able to jump over the city wall. If you fight with him, the difference is way too far.”

“Humph,” Fat Toutuo snorted. He had also heard the name of Chen Jinnan, but did not believe that he was able to jump over the city wall carrying four people. “Braggart!” he said.

“The second person whose martial art is superior,” Wei Xiaobao continued, “Is a sweet, tender-footed young mistress.” Speaking to this point, he cast a glance toward Shuang’er. Shuang’er repeatedly shook her hand, telling him not to continue. But Wei Xiaobao continued, “One time this young mistress fought thirty-six Wudang’s Taoist priests. Thirty-six priests surrounded her, using … using some sort of formation.”

Fat Toutuo asked, “About that Wudang Pai’s formation, were they barehanded or using swords?”

“Using swords,” Wei Xiaobao replied.

“That must be Zhenwu[16] Sword Formation,” Fat Toutuo said.

“That’s right,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Pang Dashi [great master fat] is experienced and knowledgeable, you know about Zhenwu Sword Formation. At that time those thirty-six swords surrounded the young mistress, the swords flickered that even water could not splash through. The young mistress had a child in her left hand, her right hand was unarmed …”

Fat Toutuo was greatly amazed. “She fought Wudang Pai with a child in her left hand?” he asked.

“What’s so strange about it?” Wei Xiaobao said, “Actually, she was carrying two little babies, both were boys, they were very fat …” He deliberately exaggerated the martial art skill of the young mistress of the Zhuang family, so he doubled the number of child in her arm. He said, ” … with her mouth she was soothing the babies: ‘Two sweet babies, don’t cry, watch your mama doing some tricks’, while seizing the swords in those thirty-six priests hands and sealed those priests’ acupoints, so that all of them were frozen in place, just like clay Bodhisattva, without able to move at all. Carrying the babies, the young mistress let them grab the old priests’ beard. The old priests stared in anger, but the two babies were laughing very happily.”

Wudang Pai and Shaolin Pai were equally famous, their martial art went back for a thousand years; Wei Xiaobao knew this. He saw how Fat Toutuo was not able to defeat the eighteen Shaolin monks, so he said that that young mistress was able to overpower thirty-six Taoist priests. Whose martial art strong, whose martial art weak, he did not have to talk too much.

Listening to him, Fat Toutuo stared blankly like he suddenly lost his mind. He sighed and said, “Unexpectedly there is such magical martial art in the world!”

Seeing surprisingly he believed his lie, Wei Xiaobao was very proud of himself. He said, “I am not concealing anything from you, this young mistress is my own godmother.”

When he started talking about Jiangnan’s young mistress, Shuang’er thought that he was talking about the Third Mistress; but then later he mentioned that the young mistress had a pair of twin boys, plus she was Wei Xiaobao’s godmother, hence she realized he was talking about someone else. But Fat Toutuo was shocked. “Your godmother?” he asked, “What’s her surname? There is such a formidable figure in Wulin, yet how come I have never heard about it?”

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “There are plentiful formidable figures in Wulin. Take my wife here for example,” he pointed to Shuang’er, “As you can see, she is petite, cute and exquisite looking; how do you know she knew martial art?”

Shuang’er blushed; she said, “Xianggong, don’t talk nonsense.”

Fat Toutuo had had some exchange with Shuang’er, this kind of petite lady, surprisingly her skill was quite amazing; were it not for him personally witnessing it, it would be hard for him to believe. He nodded and said, “You are right. Since the young benefactor is unwilling to visit the Divine Dragon Island, there’s nothing I can do. Gentlemen, please!”

Wei Xiaobao said, “Dashi, you first!” He appeared to be polite, but actually he wanted Fat Toutuo to leave first; if he went to the east, then Wei Xiaobao would go to the west, if he went to the north, then Wei Xiaobao would go to the south.

Fat Toutuo shook his head and said, “Young benefactor, please go first. I want to make a rubbing of the inscription engraved on this stone tablet.”

Wei Xiaobao laughed inwardly, thinking that his wild talk was unexpectedly believed as the truth.

Book note:

  1. The content of the title of this chapter was from careful research of ancient poetry, its level and oblique tones (technical term for classical Chinese rhythmic poetry) is different from contemporary form of strict poetic form with eight lines of 5, 6 or 7 syllables and even lines rhyming.
  2. Four empresses of Shunzhi. Empress Duan Jing, whose maiden name was Donggo, and Empress Xiao Kang, Kangxi’s birth mother, were buried together as husband and wives to show filial piety. Empress Fei[17] and Empress Xiao Hui (the ‘Empress Dowager’ in our book) were separately buried in the Xiao Dong Ling [Eastern Qing Tombs]. ‘Xiao Kang’ and ‘Xiao Hui’ were posthumous titles granted during the reigns of Emperors Yongzheng and Qianlong. The titles were not known during Kangxi’s reign. But popular fiction does not need to follow such a strict compliance to historical facts.
  3. The matter of Shunzhi leaving home to become a monk on Mount Wutai was a widely spread folklore during the Qing Dynasty. It was known as one of the ‘Four Qing Mysteries’ [or ‘doubtful cases’]. The other three mysteries were: Shunzhi’s Empress Dowager married a regent later on, Yongzheng’s got his first wife by force, Qianlong actually came from Chen family in Haining [county level city in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province]. According to official record, Shunzhi died of smallpox; however, there are too many doubtful points in the official record, to such an extent that people of later generation could only guess what had really happened. A great poet of early Qing Dynasty, Wu Meichun wrote four-stanza poem ‘Mount Qing Liang’s Poem of Praise to Buddha’. It is definitely related to Consort Donggo. Quite a number of people believe that because of his grief over his beloved concubine’s death, Shunzhi has left home to become a Buddhist monk on Mount Wutai. The poem says, ‘There’s a high mountain in the northwest, people say it’s the Wenshu [Manjushri] Platform. On the platform there’s a bright moon pond, where thousand-leaf golden lotus blooms, the blossoms reflecting each other’s shadow, the leaves grow together with the root. The queen mother carries Shuang Cheng [double success?], the green canopy reaches to the cloud (note: Shuang Cheng points to female fairy Dong Shuang Cheng). The Han Lord sits on the Palace of Buddhist teaching, he hesitates as soon as exposed to the light. Binding the hearts together, giving away nine ornamental hairpins … hand in hand neglecting the greatest news, extreme happiness gives birth to minuscule sorrow. Loneliness of a thousand autumns ended, who will wholeheartedly accompany me today? … ‘ (It was said that while Consort Donggo received special favor from Shunzhi; Shunzhi’s own life was inconsistently tragic. The entire poem was very long, it will not be copied here in its entirety). ‘Wounded heart is frightened by the cold wind, deep in the Palace the crickets chirp. Severe frost covers the jasper tree, hibiscus withered from the core. It’s a pity a thousand li grass, withered away losing its color.’ (note: ‘thousand-li grass’ [千里草] are characters form the ‘Dong’ [董] character, referring to the death of Consort Donggo.) … ‘The south-facing storehouse stretches to the grave (referring to Cao Cao’s [famous statesman and general at the end of Han, the main villain of the novel ‘Romance of Three Kingdoms’] son who died prematurely in infancy, King Deng Ai, Cao Cangshu [Cangshu means ‘stretched storehouse’], a comparison to Prince Rong), covering the face, adding to the broken heart. Abstain from words, feed my horse with grain, roaming the eight extremities.’ (It was told that when his beloved concubine passed away, Shunzhi’s innermost being was so sorrowful that he was thinking of leaving the mortal world). ‘The eight extremities is boundless, it is pointing to the Qing Liang Mountain. This mountain stores up deities, noble spirits to examine the wrong … Famous mountain initially looks at the good fortune, accepting instruction to release the way of the well-being, preparing to sprinkle seven Buddhist earthen jars from the highest peak … From the seat of a celestial being, breathing out air like silken sandalwood. Sending words to the Han Emperor, is it worth the trouble to remain in the mortal world? … Only a broad mind, like a rock, will never be published. Hereby protecting the golden wheel, the law of the ocean has no billows (talking about Shunzhi’s aspiration to go to Mount Wutai). Tasting and hearing the solemn Son of Heaven, six hired hands cover ten thousand li … magnificent concubine’s ailment cannot be saved, waving the whip, tears flow like water. Han Emperor like an immortal, his wife considers getting rid of her slippers … favoring instead to seize the government power of the long gate, graciousness leans to the Qing city. Magnificent jade decorating the night, heartache and grief like the mourning cicada. None of the sufferings does not have a death side to it, to have the power of commanding the morning sun to rise … maintaining the propriety toward the ruler, virtuous sage to set the course. Taking part in the way does not need the brilliance of the ruler, declining meritorious deed promising disgrace, empty appearance cannot be repeated, like packing up a reservoir of the wind.’ (Toward the ruler points to Sakyamuni Buddha. Attributed to his conversion to the Dharma, seeking relief by Zen Buddhism).
  4. When he was on the throne, Shunzhi has already taken Yulin as his master in the study of Buddhism. From Yulin’s chronicle as the teacher of the state: in the Shunzhi’s sixteenth year, the ‘forefather of the world’ asked the master to bestow a name, the master offered more than ten characters, the ‘forefather of the world’ picked the character ‘chi’ [imbecile/sentimental/stupid/foolish], in conjunction with the character ‘Xing’, which was handed down by forefather of Zen Buddhism’s sect of Long Chi [dragon pond], and thus his Buddhist name was ‘Xing Chi’. Yulin himself was of the ‘Tong’ [go through/pass] generation, his name was ‘Tong Xiu’ [‘xiu’ means jade], Yulin [yulin means jade forest]; therefore, his disciples used the ‘Xing’ [to walk/to go/to travel] as their generation name.

[1] Vajra/vajrapani, Buddha’s warrior attendant. Toutuo, Buddhist monk who do not shave his head.

[2] Orig. ‘chuanfa shifu’ – master who pass on Buddhism doctrines to his disciples.

[3] Xuanzang (602-664) Tang dynasty Buddhist monk and translator who travelled to India (629-645).

[4] The Monkey King and the pig-like character with a muck-rake as a weapon, both are characters in the novel Journey to the West.

[5] Another character in the novel Journey to the West. Shancai Hong Hai’er literally means ‘good/virtuous/benevolent Red Boy.

[6] Qi Tian Da Sheng – the self proclaimed title of the Monkey King.

[7] Xing means ‘to walk/go/travel, to perform/capable of/competent’, Chi means ‘imbecile, sentimental, stupid, foolish’, Dian means ‘fall forwards, inverted, jolt’.

[8] ‘Xiaobao’ – little/young treasure, ‘Laobao’ – old treasure.

[9] Orig. Pang Zunzhe – fat ‘honored sir’, can be referring to a person of higher status or seniority, or a Buddhist monk

[10] Ye – business/estate/property, Dou – fight or bucket, but could also refer to bei dou – big dipper constellation.

[11] Gou, mao and wugui mean dog, cat, and turtle, respectively. Reminder: Ping Xi Wang means ‘king who pacifies the west’.

[12] Emperor Taizong, second emperor of Tang Dynasty, reigned 626-649.

[13] From the dictionary: Li Jing (570-649 AD), Tang Dynasty general and purported author of ‘Duke Li of Wei answering Emperor Taizong of Tang’, one of the Seven Military Classics of ancient China.

[14] He was awarded the imperial surname of Li by Gao Zu of Tang. Li Ji’s fiefdom was called Yīng (英). 国公 (national duke) was a title awarded to the ruling clan as opposed to 民公 (‘commoner’ (non imperial) duke). [Courtesy of Ace High]

[15] Orig. ‘Zhen Ren’ – lit. ‘real man’, a term of respect to address a Taoist priest.

[16] Lord of profound heaven, major Taoist deity.

[17] From Wikipedia: Demoted Empress Suoerna, from the Borjigit clan, niece of Xiao Zhuang Grand Imperial Dowager Empress, demoted in 1653.

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