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The Deer and the Cauldron Chapter 23

CSI

Chapter 23
Scholars with innate talent have a lot of hobbies, the Lord made pictures to convey a message.

Cheng Guan said, “If I want Shishu [martial uncle], the Senior and Jing Ji and the others, four people to go out and fight those two Nu Shizhu [female benefactor], to have them break your hands and feet. If they break your limbs really bad and cannot be cured easily, you will be crippled for life; won’t that be a pity? Moreover, if the two Nu Shizhu are too ruthless and unexpectedly kill the five of you, won’t that be dangerous?”

Wei Xiaobao was puzzled, “Why would you want us, five people, to fight?” he asked.

Cheng Guan said, “I am sure these are not the only move those two Nu Shizhu learned. Shizhi [martial nephew] does not know what other moves they have, naturally I cannot devise a technique to counter them. If the five of you do not go up to take a beating to test their moves, how can I investigate and find out?”

Wei Xiaobao roared in laughter. “So that’s how it is,” he said, “I have an idea: as long as you can fight with them, it won’t be a pity, and there won’t be any danger.”

Cheng Guan’s expression became awkward. “Those who left homes must not get angry,” he said, “We must not fight other people without rhyme or reason; that would be greatly inappropriate.”

“I got it!” Wei Xiaobao said, “The two of us can go out the Temple to take a walk. If the two Nu Shizhu have already gone far away, nothing could be better than that. This is called ‘if you don’t offend me, I won’t offend you’. Whatever other moves they might have, we don’t have to pay them any more attention.”

“Absolutely right, absolutely right!” Cheng Guan said, “But Shizhi has never gone out the Temple gate. As soon as go out deliberately creating trouble seems to be ill-will. When my master first taught me Buddhist teaching at the Luye Garden, he taught me about the Four Noble Truths and Eight-fold Noble Way. This ‘righteous intention’ is one of Eight-fold Noble Way …”

“We don’t need to go far,” Wei Xiaobao cut his discourse, “Just take a stroll around the Temple. It would be best if we do not meet them at all.”

“Exactly, exactly,” Cheng Guan said, “Shishu has a virtuous heart, unwilling to strife and struggle against other people, it could be considered ‘righteous intention’. Shizhi definitely must follow your example.”

Wei Xiaobao was secretly amused, taking along his hand, he went out Shaolin Temple via the side door. Cheng Guan had never seen even the forest by the Temple; seeing a vast stretch of pine trees, he could not help but clucking his tongue in amazement as he praised, “Those many pine trees grow together, it’s quite a spectacle. In our Bo’re Hall courtyard there are only two …”

Before he could finish, suddenly they heard female voice from behind, “The little bald thief is here!” Followed by a flash of white ray, a steel saber chopped down on Wei Xiaobao.
Cheng Guan said, “This is the Fierce Tiger Descends the Mountain from Five Tiger Breaking Gate’s Saber Technique.” Reaching out, he grabbed the saber using ‘grabbing blade from someone’ technique, but then he suddenly recalled that the move he used was from the ‘Picking Flower Grab and Capture’; which was too difficult to learn. “It won’t do!” he said, and hastily pulled his hand back.

The ‘one using the blade’ was precisely the woman in blue; seeing Cheng Guan withdrew his hand, she swiftly flipped her willow-leaf saber and swept toward his waist. Right this moment, the girl in green dashed out from among the pine trees and brandished her saber to chop Wei Xiaobao. Wei Xiaobao hastily dodged and hid behind Cheng Guan, thereupon the girl in green’s saber chopped down on Cheng Guan’s shoulder.

“This is Taiji Saber move,” Cheng Guan said, “There is no simple and easy way to neutralize it …” Before he finished speaking, the two women’s sabers attacked him together, the sabers swung faster and faster, Cheng Guan shouted, “Shishu, it won’t do, it won’t do! The two Nu Shizhu are moving too fast, I can’t … I can’t think fast enough. Please … please ask the two Nu Shizhu not to be impatient, ask them to chop slowly.”

The girl in blue sent out several ruthless moves in succession, but all along she failed to chop the old monk, several times she almost had her saber snatched away by him. Hearing him making such a big fuss, she thought he was deliberately mocking her. In her fury, she chopped even more violently.

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Hey Miss, my Shizhi is asking you not to be impatient, to execute your moves slowly.”

“Exactly,” Cheng Guan said, “My brain is not that quick, I can’t think of this many ways of neutralizing your moves in such a short period of time.”

The girl in green hated Wei Xiaobao to the bones; after several times trying to chop Cheng Guan to no avail, she swung her saber onto Wei Xiaobao. Cheng Guan stretched out his hand to block, while saying, “This Nu Shizhu, my Shishu has not learned the technique to neutralize this saber move of yours; don’t chop him now, wait until he has learned it and know how to block your move. It won’t be too late for you to chop him again. Ay, my moves won’t work. Shishu, forget everything you see, the moves I am using right now are quite useless. After we’re back, we will slowly think it over again.” While his mouth was prattling incessantly, his hands did not stop grabbing and snatching, poking and striking, tightly entangling the two girls; how could the girl in green kill Wei Xiaobao?

Seeing he was out of danger, Wei Xiaobao giggled happily as he leaned against a tree to watch the fight. His eyes feasted on the girl in green’s face, body, hands, feet, and then back to her face again; he looked very satisfied and extremely happy.

When the girl in green did not see Wei Xiaobao anymore, she thought he had run away; when she found out that he was watching her closely, her face blushed. Without giving any thought to Cheng Guan, she turned around with raised saber and rushed toward Wei Xiaobao. Who would have thought that right this moment, Cheng Guan was aiming his finger toward her flank? He intentionally moved his finger slowly; she could have been able to evade it, but in her excitement to kill Wei Xiaobao, she was hit by the finger and fell down to the ground with a shriek.

“Aiyo!” Cheng Guan hastily said, “I am so sorry. The finger power behind Lao Seng’s [old monk] move, ‘laughing finger southern sky’, was not too formidable, Nu Shizhu must use one move from the Five Tiger Breaking Gate’s Saber called ‘vicious tiger blocking the road’. By slanting your saber slightly, you could have parried it. Although Nu Shizhu had not used this move, but that Nu Shizhu in blue had used it; Lao Seng thought that Nu Shizhu must also know how to use it; who would have thought … Ay, I have committed an offense, I have committed an offense.”

The girl in blue was fuming mad; her steel saber swept horizontally, swiftly and fiercely, but her martial art skill was much too inferior to Cheng Guan’s, all along she was unable to even touch the corner of his monk robe. Cheng Guan’s mouth was mumbling nonstop, he was trying to memorize all her moves. Since he was unable to find a simple and easy way to break her stances on the spot, he had no choice but to understand clearly her saber techniques, so that he could consider it in detail later.

Wei Xiaobao went toward the girl in green; he praised, “This kind of good-looking little beauty, throughout the world there’s only you, one person, tsk, tsk, tsk! Just by looking at you my soul is flying up to the sky.” Stretching out his hand, he lightly caressed her face.

The girl was shocked and angered, her breath failed to flow, she fainted immediately. Wei Xiaobao was startled; he no longer dared to be frivolous and reckless. Standing up, he called out, “Cheng Guan Shizhi, seal that Nu Shizhu’s acupoint as well; we’ll have her explain her moves slowly later, so that we won’t harm our friendship.”

Cheng Guan hesitated. “Don’t you think it will be rather bad?” he asked.

Wei Xiaobao replied, “By exchanging blows and kicks right now, it is already too unsightly. Asking her to talk is fairly more refined and in good taste.”

Cheng Guan was delighted. “Shishu is right, exchanging blows and kicks is not the ‘just way’.”

The girl in blue knew that as soon as this old monk went all-out, she would not be able to withstand even his single move or half a style. Right now her martial sister was captured; if she also fell into his hands, nobody would report their capture and ask for help. Thereupon she leaped back and called out, “If you harm a single strand of my Shimei’s hair, I will burn your Shaolin Temple to the ground.”

Cheng Guan was startled. “How can we dare to injure this Nu Shizhu?” he asked, “If she sheds a single strand of her own hair, are you going to set our temple on fire?”

The girl in blue had already rushed several steps; she turned her head around and cursed, “Old bald thief is oily-mouthed and smooth talking, little bald thief …” She was going to say ‘obscene, heretic and lecherous’, but felt it was inappropriate to say those four words. Stomping her foot, she disappeared into the forest.

Wei Xiaobao gazed on the girl in green lying on the ground, her white jade-like tender face on the green grass, her white jade-like pair of hands truly looked like the white jade image of Guanyin sitting on an emerald pedestal; he could not help but staring blankly at her.

Cheng Guan said, “Nu Shizhu, your Shijie [older martial sister] has left. You’d better go as well, don’t let a single strand of your hair falls, otherwise, your Shijie will come and burn our Temple.”

Wei Xiaobao thought, “Good opportunity must not be missed. Since this little beauty has fallen into my hands, whatever happens, I must not let her go.” Putting his palms together he said, “This is our Buddha’s blessing. Cheng Guan Shizhi, our Buddha wants you to expand Shaolin’s martial art study, to uphold our Pai’s thousand-plus years of martial prestige; you are indeed our Pai’s greatest contributor of meritorious service.”

Cheng Guan was puzzled, “Shishu, what are you talking about?”

Wei Xiaobao said, “We were concerned over what other moves those two Nu Shizhu might have. It is very fortunate that our Buddha has pity on us, by sending this Nu Shizhu to honor our Temple with her presence, so that she can explain everything one by one.” Finished speaking, he bent down to carry the girl and said, “Let’s go home.”

Cheng Guan was astonished and puzzled; he only felt that there was something greatly amiss in this matter, but what exactly was wrong, he could not tell. After a while he said, “Shishu, inviting this Nu Shizhu inside the Temple does not seem to follow the rule.”

“What do you mean not following the rule?” Wei Xiaobao asked, “Hasn’t she been in the Temple before? Fangzhang [Abbot] and Jielu Courtyard Head both said nothing was wrong, clearly it was in accordance with the rule, wasn’t it?”

The more he talked, the lower Cheng Guan hung his head; he only felt that each sentence cannot be disputed. He saw the little martial uncle took off his monk robe and wrapped it around the girl’s body, and carried her into the Temple via a side door. Cheng Guan had no choice but to follow behind him. He looked lost, his brain was in confusion.

Wei Xiaobao’s heart was pounding; although from head to toe the girl was covered by the monk robe and nothing was visible from the outside, but if any monk in the Temple saw them, unavoidably they would raise some suspicion. He was carrying a warm, fragrant, and tender jade, in his bosom, but in his heart he was afraid. Fortunately, Bo’re Hall was located in a secluded area at the back of the Temple; while he was hurrying toward the Hall, they did not meet any other monk.

When he entered the Hall, the monks on duty saw their grand-martial uncle personal visit, with their chief following behind him, they all stepped aside respectfully to let them pass. By the time they entered Cheng Guan’s meditation room, the girl had not regained her consciousness. Wei Xiaobao put her down on the couch. His hands were wet with cold sweats, he wiped his palms on the side of his legs and heaved a deep sigh. “There!” he said with a laugh.

“We are going to invite this … this Nu Shizhu to stay in here?” Cheng Guan asked.

“That’s right,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “This is not the first time she stays in the Temple. Previously, when her neck was injured, didn’t she stay at the Eastern Courtyard?”

Cheng Guan nodded. “Yes,” he said, “But … but that time it was to treat her injury, it was a matter of life and death; we did not have any choice but temporarily taking care of her.”

“That’s very easy,” Wei Xiaobao said. Pulling the dagger from his boot, he said, “I only need to ruthlessly cut her once, so that her life will be in danger, and then we won’t have any choice but temporarily take care of her.” Finished speaking, he stepped toward her and raised his hand, poised to make a cut.

“No, no,” Cheng Guan hastily said, “That … that won’t be necessary.”

“Alright,” Wei Xiaobao said, “I will listen to you then. But you must not let anybody know. After she finishes explaining all kinds of moves and styles, we will quietly escort her out. Otherwise, I have no choice but to slash her.”

“Yes, yes,” Cheng Guan said, “I won’t say anything.” He only felt that this young martial uncle’s conduct was really strange; but recalling that he was his superior from the ‘Hui’ character generation, his knowledge and experience must be superior to his own. Listening to his order, he did not have the slightest inclination to question it.

“This Nu Shizhu’s temperament is strong,” Wei Xiaobao said, “She is determined to snatch the Bo’re Hall Chief position from you, I must advise her well.”

Cheng Guan said, “If she insists, Shizhi will let her have it, and that’s the end.”

Wei Xiaobao was taken aback; he did not expect this old monk to have a very simple character, without any desire to compete at all. “She is not a monk of our Temple,” he said, “If she took over the Bo’re Hall leadership, where would we put our Shaolin Temple’s face? If you harbor that kind of mindset, you are letting down Shaolin Pai.” While saying that, his expression was grim, so that even Cheng Guan was also scared into thinking that that was the truth.

“That’s right,” Wei Xiaobao said with wooden expression, “Get out now, wait for me outside, I must persuade her.” Cheng Guan bowed to comply, walked out of the meditation room, and closed the door behind him.

Wei Xiaobao untied the monk robe wrapped around the girl. The girl was about to scream when she saw a dagger, glittering like frost and snow, right in front of her nose. Her mouth was opened wide, but she did not dare to make any noise. Wei Xiaobao giggled and said, “Little Miss, as long as you obediently listen to me, I won’t harm a strand of your hair. Otherwise, I won’t have any choice but to cut your nose before letting you out of the Temple. When one lacks a nose, one can’t smell fragrance or stench, not a big deal, isn’t it?”

The girl was scared and angered at the same time; her face was devoid of any color even more. “Are you going to listen to me?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

The girl was extremely angry. “Quickly kill me,” she said in a low voice.

Wei Xiaobao sighed and said, “You have a countenance of a flower, face like the moon; how could I bear to kill you? Yet if I let you go, from now on day and night I will always miss you, and then I will die from lovesickness; that means I am spoiling the virtue given to me by the Heaven.”

The girl’s face turned red, but immediately turned back to white. Wei Xiaobao said, “There is only one way: I must cut your nose, then your appearance won’t be beautiful anymore, hence I won’t die of lovesickness.”

The girl shut her eyes tight, two drops of clear tear seeped through her long and beautiful eyelashes. Wei Xiaobao’s heart softened; “Don’t cry, don’t cry!” he said consolingly, “As long as you listen to me nicely, I would rather cut my own nose than yours. What’s your name?”

The girl shook her head, more tears flowed from her eyes. Wei Xiaobao said, “Oh, so your name is Yaotou Mao [shaking-head cat]; that’s not a nice name.”

The girl opened her eyes; with a sob she said, “Who’s Yaotou Mao? You are Yaotou Mao.”

Hearing her reply, Wei Xiaobao was ecstatic. “Alright,” he said with a laugh, “I am Yaotou Mao. Who are you, then?”

The girl angrily said, “I won’t tell you!”

Wei Xiaobao said, “Since you don’t want to tell me, I’d better give you a name. How about … how about Yaba Mao [mute cat]?”

“Rubbish!” the girl said, “I am not mute.”

Wei Xiaobao was sitting on a stack of books on Shaolin martial art, crossing his leg on top of the other, and was swaying gently back and forth. Seeing the angry look on her beyond-compare-beautiful face, his heart was excited. He laughed and said, “What is your honorable surname and your great name, then?”

“I said I won’t tell you, I won’t tell you,” the girl replied.

“I have something I’d like to discuss with you,” Wei Xiaobao said, “If you don’t have any surname and have no name, it’s going to be awkward. Since you are unwilling to tell me, I’ll have to give you one. Mmm, what name should I give to you?”

“I don’t want it, I don’t want it, I don’t want it,” the girl repeatedly said.

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “I got it! Your name is Wei Menyao[1].”

The girl was startled. “How quaint,” she said, “I am not surnamed Wei.”

Wei Xiaobao grimly said, “Emperor of Heaven above, Empress of Earth below, in all my life I will climb the mountain of sabers, or go down a deep fryer, to be cut into pieces, to be executed along with my whole family unto the third generation, committing heresy and treason, with dozen unpardonable evil crimes, let my sons be robbers, my daughters be prostitutes, let me be without sons without grandsons, beaten by the sky stricken by thunder, my entire body covered with 1001 big and deep boils, I must take you as my wife.”

Listening to him uttering that many heavy oaths in one breath, the girl was dumbfounded. But when suddenly she heard the last sentence, she could not help but blushing deep red. “Pei!” she spat.

Wei Xiaobao said, “I am surnamed Wei, and thus you are already decreed by fate to be surnamed Wei as well. I don’t know your surname, and you always shake your head, thereupon your maiden name is Wei Menyao.”

The girl shut her eyes and angrily said, “There has never been a crazy and unfounded ravings monk like you on the earth. You have left home, yet you want to take … take something … Aren’t you afraid Bodhisattva will punish you, when you die you will enter the eighteenth level of hell?”

Wei Xiaobao put his palms together and threw himself prostrate on the floor. When the girl heard the noise of him kneeling, her curiosity was piqued; she opened her eyes and saw him facing the window, kowtowing several times while saying, “My Tathagata Buddha, the merciful Buddha, Bodhisattva Guanyin, Bodhisattva Manjushri, Bodhisattva Samantabhadra, the Jade Emperor, Four Great Vajrapani, King Yama, the underworld judge, Little Demon Wuchang, please listen to me. I, Wei Xiaobao, simply must take this Miss as my wife. Even if after I die I will enter the eighteenth level of hell, have my tongue pulled out, my skull sawed, will not reincarnate for ten thousand years, it’s not a big deal. When I am alive, I don’t care about anything, when I am dead, I am not afraid of anything. Taking her as my wife has been decided.”

The girl noticed how resolute and decisive he was [orig. ‘chop the nail and slice the iron’], without the slightest hint of frivolous attitude; she knew he was not joking. She began to feel afraid and begged, “Please stop, please stop.” After a brief pause, she said bitterly, “I don’t care if you kill me or beat me every day. I hate you to the death, I will never … will never comply.”

Wei Xiaobao stood up and said, “I don’t care if you comply or not, in brief or at length, from now on I will spend the next eighty years with you. Even if you have changed into a 100 year-old woman, if I don’t succeed in taking you as my wife, I will not die with my eyes closed.”

The girl angrily said, “You have disgraced me like this, there will come a day that you will die in my hands. I am going to kill you first before I’ll kill myself.”

Wei Xiaobao said, “You can always kill me, but that means you are committing a premeditated murder against your own husband. If I cannot be your husband, I won’t die that easily.” Speaking to this point, he could not stop his voice from trembling.

Seeing him gnashing his teeth with the blue vein on his forehead stuck out, the girl was scared and closed her eyes again. Wei Xiaobao wanted to take several steps toward her, but his entire body went weak, his hands and feet trembled, suddenly he had a strong urge to kneel down and prostrate himself in front of her, to plead with her sincerely; but as he took another step toward her, his throat emitted a low growling noise like a wounded beast, followed by a desire to strangle her to death.

As the girl heard the strange noise, she opened her eyes and saw the strange gleam on his eyes; she shrieked. Wei Xiaobao was startled; he withdrew several steps and sat down dejectedly, thinking, “In the Imperial Palace I called Miss Fang and Xiao Junzhu my first and second wife. We were laughing hee-hee ha-ha, so relaxed and unrestrained. When I wanted to embrace them I just embraced them, when I wanted to kiss them I simply kiss them. This little girl’s acupoint is clearly sealed by the old monk, she is unable to move a single step; how come I do not dare to even caress her hand?”

He saw her beautiful and delicate hand was peeking underneath the monk robe; he only wanted to hold her hand gently, but he did not have any courage to do so, and could not help but swearing, “Hot piece mama!”

The girl did not understand; she stared at him. Wei Xiaobao’s face blushed; he said, “I was cursing my own cowardice and uselessness; I wasn’t cursing you.”

“You disregard the law and natural morality, yet still saying that you are a coward,” the girl replied, “If you are truly a coward, I should really thank the Heaven and thank the Earth.”

As soon as he heard this, Wei Xiaobao’s spirit soared. He stood up and said, “Alright, I want to disregard the law and natural morality. I want to strip you naked.” The girl was so shocked that she almost fainted.

Wei Xiaobao walked near her and saw the deep hatred in her eyes; he said in his heart, “Forget it, forget it. I, Wei Xiaobao, am a turtle son of a b1tch. I surrender to you, I don’t dare to make a move.” In a gentle voice he said, “I have always been afraid of my wife since I was born. I will let you go.”

Only now did the girl’s fright diminished; but her anger flared up again as she said, “You … in that town, what kind of rubbish did you tell those … those bad women? You said my Shijie and I … are … are your … whatever. You said we were going to seize you and take you back. You … you are an evil man …”

Wei Xiaobao laughed aloud and said, “What do those bad women understand? Later on, after I take you as my wife, the hundred thousand prostitutes of a thousand brothels in the world lining up in front of me, Wei Xiaobao won’t even cast a glance with the corner of my eyes. From morning till night, from night till morning, twelve sichen a day, I will only have eyes for my beloved wife.”

The girl said, “If you call me one more time as your … your … whatever, I will not speak to you again, ever.”

Wei Xiaobao was greatly delighted; he hastily said, “Alright, alright, I won’t call you out loud, I will only call you in my heart.”

The girl said, “You must not call me in your heart.”

Wei Xiaobao smiled and said, “I will secretly call you in my heart, you won’t know it.”

“Humph,” the girl said, “How can I possibly not know? Looking at the weird expression on your face, I know you are calling me in your heart.”

Wei Xiaobao said, “When Mama gave birth to me, my expression has already been weird like this. Most likely it was because ever since I was in my mother’s womb, I have already known that in the future I am going to marry you as my wife.”

The girl shut her eyes and no longer paid attention to him. Wei Xiaobao said, “Hey, I have not called you my wife, how can you ignore me?”

“You haven’t?” the girl said, “You lie to my face. You said you were going to marry me as your … whatever; that was it.”

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Alright, I won’t say it. I was only saying that in the future I will be your husband …”

The girl was extremely angry; she shut her eyes as tight as she could. Afterwards, no matter what Wei Xiaobao said to her, whether he was rambling incoherently or teasing her, she did not respond at all.

Wei Xiaobao was at a loss; he wanted to say, “If you ignore me, I am going to kiss your face.” But as the word was at the tip of his tongue, he swallowed it back again, thinking that by coercing this fairy-like beauty, he would actually be profaning her. He sighed and said, “I only have one favor to ask you. If you tell me your name and surname, I will let you go.”

“You deceived me,” the girl said.

“I deceived a lot of people in the world,” Wei Xiaobao said, “You are not the only one. This is called being a real man, whatever I say, dead horse cannot chase it. Little wife does not say anything, a live horse can chase it easily.”

The girl was startled; “What dead horse cannot chase, a live horse can chase easily?” she asked.

“It’s our Shaolin Pai’s saying,” Wei Xiaobao said, “In short, I am not deceiving you. Just think, I single-mindedly want your grandson to call me yeye [paternal grandfather]; if I deceived you today, your son won’t call me Dad, and then where can I get the grandson?”

At first the girl did not understand his rambling about grandson, grandfather, etc. After thinking about it, she understood he was saying the same thing in a roundabout way. She said in a soft voice, “I don’t want you to let me go, you have bullied me like this, I have already decided I don’t want to live. Just kill me quickly with your blade!”

Wei Xiaobao saw the blade’s scar on her neck was still new; a long red scar remained visible. Feeling deep remorse, he kneeled down on the floor, ‘Dong! Dong! Dong! Dong!’ he knocked his head heavily in front of her. “I have offended Miss!” he said. With both hands he slapped his own cheeks heavily left and right more than a dozen times, his face immediately turned red and swollen. He said, “Miss, please don’t be sad; Wei Xiaobao, this son of a b1tch, indeed deserves to be beaten!” Standing up, he opened the door and said, “Hey, Old Shizhi, I want to unseal this Miss’ acupoints. How do I do that?”

Cheng Guan had been standing outside the door, waiting. His internal energy was deep, although Wei Xiaobao and the girl were talking in low voices, nothing escaped his ears. He only felt that the way this little martial uncle’s ‘persuaded’ the female benefactor was a profound mystery. All those ‘husband, wife, grandson, grandfather’ and so on did not seem to have anything to do with martial art, the little martial uncle’s wisdom and witticism were too deep to comprehend, his own cultivation in the teachings of Buddha was inadequate so that he failed to understand. Later on he heard the little martial uncle kneeled down and kowtowed, and struck his own cheeks; Cheng Guan could not help but feeling even more admiration.

In Zen Buddhism, when a master passes on the Buddhist doctrines to his disciples, if the disciple did not understand the subtlety of the master’s magnificent teaching, the master oftentimes beats the disciple with a stick and shouts at him. Using the stick to pass on the doctrines originated from De Shan Chanshi [Dhyana Master Virtuous Mountain(?)] of the Tang Dynasty; the shout was supposed to urge the person to come to see the truth, it was also originated from a Tang Dynasty dhyana master. The saying ‘stick and shout on the head’ [i.e. ‘severe warning’] came from this custom.

Cheng Guan thought that the eminent monks of the past were using a stick to enlighten people, his little martial uncle was slapping his own face to enlighten the female benefactor. It was an act of abandoning self for others, his heart of mercy surpassed those of his predecessors; he could only admire with gratitude and sigh in admiration. Hearing him asking about how to unseal the acupoints, Cheng Guan hastily replied, “The Nu Shizhu‘s acupoints being sealed are the ‘Da Bao’ [large bundle] acupoint belonging to the Foot Taiyin Channel of the Spleen. Shishu only needs to ‘push the blood to the palace’ (?) of the ‘ji men’ [winnow basket gate] and ‘xue hai’ [blood ocean], two acupoints on her leg; that should unseal it.”

“‘Ji men’ and ‘xue hai’ acupoints, where are they located at?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

Cheng Guan lifted his robe and pointed to the inside of his knee to show him the locations of the acupoints, he let Wei Xiaobao to run his finger on the acupoints to verify that he got the correct ones. He also taught him how to ‘push the blood to the palace’; saying, “Shishu has not practiced internal energy, the way you unseal the acupoints will be somewhat slower. But after massaging for about an hour, the acupoints will definitely open.” Wei Xiaobao nodded, closed the door, and returned to the couch.

The girl heard the exchange between those two, she cried out in fear, “I don’t want you to unseal my acupoints, I don’t want you to touch me!”

Wei Xiaobao contemplated, “Massaging the inside of her knee for an hour is indeed not too proper. I really want to unseal her acupoint, but she will definitely think that I am being frivolous. Although a husband can be frivolous toward his wife, I still have to follow Heaven’s rule and the Earth’s way; much less this is a good opportunity that I must not lose, if I fail, I will lost her forever. It’s just that this girl’s temper is very fierce; as soon as I unseal her acupoints, I am afraid she would immediately drive me to the wall and kill me. And then Wei Xiaobao indeed won’t have any son and won’t have any grandson.”

Turning his head, he raised his voice and asked, “Men and women should not have direct contact. As people who have left home, we must pay special attention to the rule. If I don’t want to massage her, is there any other technique I can use?”

“Yes,” Cheng Guan said, “Shishu precisely and rigorously abides by the commandments, Shizhi is full of admiration. There is a way to unseal other people’s acupoint without touching. You can use the light brushing of the corner of your sleeve, or use the ‘one finger Dhyana’ through the empty air … Aiyo, it’s not right, Xiao Shishu [young martial uncle] has not cultivated internal energy, you cannot use these techniques. Let Shizhi think it over …”

Actually, all he had to do was to enter the room himself and lightly brush the corner of his sleeve, or perhaps use the ‘one finger Dhyana’ through the empty air, then the girl’s acupoint would be unsealed immediately. But since his martial uncle had asked, he must try to come up with an answer. However, how difficult it was for someone without internal energy to unseal acupoint without using fingers or massage? Even if he thought about it for a year or so, he would not necessarily be able to come up with anything.

Listening to him for a long time without getting any answer, Wei Xiaobao pushed the door a little bit, and saw Cheng Guan was looking up with a blank stare, lost in thought. He would not be surprised if Cheng Guan could stay motionless and speechless like that for six hours. Thereupon he closed the door and turned around, thinking that when he unsealed Mu Jianping’s acupoint at the Imperial Palace that day, he was using first-class technique all the way to the ninth-class technique: pinching, massaging, beating and jabbing, without the least bit of second thought. Although she was a junzhu who should be respected, in his eyes, he did not consider her important at all; however, in front of this nameless young woman, why did he tremble with fear and venerate her as if she was a deity?

Glancing toward the girl, he saw her delicate eyebrows were tightly knitted together with a distressed expression; he could not help but feeling a deep compassion toward her. Picking up a wooden fish mallet, he walked over toward her and said, “In the previous life Wei Xiaobao owed you a debt. In this life I fear neither the Heaven nor the Earth, yet I fear you, a young Miss. Right now I surrender to you, I really want to unseal your acupoints, and not deliberately want to take advantage of you.” Finished speaking, he took off his monk robe, and gently struck the inside of her left knee several times with the wooden fish mallet.

The girl stared at him coldly, her small mouth was tightly shut. Wei Xiaobao jabbed the mallet several more times and asked, “How do you feel?”

The girl said, “You … other than speaking some rogue words, you don’t know anything.”

Cheng Guan’s internal energy was deep, his light poke with his finger penetrated deep into the acupoint, although Wei Xiaobao’s placement of the wooden fish mallet was very accurate, his strength was lacking, he failed to unseal the acupoint. Hearing the girl’s sarcastic remark, he could not suppress his anger, and struck the wooden fish mallet heavily down several times. “Ah!” the girl screamed. Wei Xiaobao was startled. “Does it hurt?” he asked.

“I … I … I …” the girl angrily said. Wei Xiaobao moved to her right knee, but this time he started beating gently. After pounding several times, the girl’s body slightly trembled. “That’s it!” Wei Xiaobao happily said, “Originally Shaolin Pai only has 72 unique skills, from now on there will be 73. This new unique skill is invented by the Eminent Monk Hui Ming Chanshi, it is called … it is called the ‘Wooden Fish Mallet Acupoint Unsealing Divine Technique’, hey hey …”

While he was feeling complacent, suddenly he felt a dull pain on the small of his back; he was dumbstruck. The girl suddenly rolled around and sat up, she reached out to snatch his dagger and thrust it into his chest. “Aiyo!” Wei Xiaobao cried out, “You murder your own husband …” and fell sitting down on the ground.

The girl snatched her willow-leaf saber that was placed by her side; pulled the door open, and bolted out of the meditation room.

Cheng Guan stretched out his arms to block, he called out in alarm, “Nu Shizhu, you … killed … killed my Shishu … that … that …”

The girl moved the willow-leaf saber from her left hand to her right, ‘Shua! Shua! Shua!’ she hacked three times in succession. Cheng Guan flicked the sleeve of his robe. The girl’s legs went numb and she tumbled down.

Cheng Guan rushed toward Wei Xiaobao’s side; he flicked several times with the middle finger of his right hand to seal the acupoints all around Wei Xiaobao’s wound. “Amitabha, my Buddha is merciful,” he said. With three fingers he pinched the hilt of the dagger and gently pulled it out, blood was seeping out of the wound. Noticing the bleeding was not too bad, Cheng Guan hurriedly untied Wei Xiaobao’s clothes, and saw the wound to be approximately half a cun [± ½”], and the cut was not too wide. He repeatedly said, “Amitabha.”

Wei Xiaobao was wearing his treasured vest; if not for the fact that his dagger was incomparably sharp, he would not have been wounded at all. Although the dagger penetrated his clothes, its force was greatly reduced and only went into his flesh shallowly. However, looking at his bleeding chest and feeling the pain from the wound, he thought his life would be difficult to save. He mumbled, “Murder your own husband … (cough, cough) … murder your … your own …”

The girl was lying on the floor, she cried and said, “It was me who killed him, Old Monk, quickly kill me to … to pay for … for his life.”

“Ay,” Cheng Guan sighed, “My Shishu has enlightened you. Nu Shizhu, if you persist on your wrong doings, there is nothing I can do. But a violent crime like this … a murder, it is rather too much.”

Wei Xiaobao said, “I … I’m about to die. (Cough), you murder your own …”

Cheng Guan stared blankly. Dashing out of the room, he fetched the medicine to treat metal-cut wound and applied it on Wei Xiaobao’s wound, saying, “Shishu, you have great compassion and great mercy, you enlightened the fierce and uncontrollable, your karmic reward has not been exhausted yet, you won’t die this easily. Besides, your injury is not serious, it’s not a big deal.”

Hearing Cheng Guan said that his injury was not serious, Wei Xiaobao’s spirit was greatly aroused, and felt that his wound was not too painful after all. “Stoop down,” he said, “Aiyo, I am going to die, I am going to die!”

Cheng Guan stooped down and put his ear next to Wei Xiaobao’s mouth. Wei Xiaobao said in a low voice, “You may unseal her acupoint, but don’t let her out of the room. Wait until she finishes using all martial art skills she knew, and then … and then …”

“And then what?” Cheng Guan asked.

“At that time … at that time we …” Wei Xiaobao stammered, while saying in his heart, “Even until then, we still cannot let her go.” He said, “Just … just follow my instruction … quickly … quickly … I am about to die; once I died, I cannot die again!”

Although Cheng Guan did not understand his intention, hearing the urgency in his voice, he turned around and snapped his fingers to unseal her blocked acupoints.

The girl saw how sneaky Wei Xiaobao was talking to Cheng Guan, she thought that this young evil monk was wily and mischievous, at the death’s door, he must be planning some treacherous scheme to deal with me, otherwise, why would he want to let me go? Immediately she wanted to leap up, but her acupoints had just been unsealed, the blood had not flowed freely yet, her legs were still numb and weak, she tumbled down again. Cheng Guan looked at her with blank expression on his face, while his mouth repeatedly calling the names of Buddha.

The girl was frightened even more, she shouted, “Quickly kill me with one palm strike, tormenting people like this is not the act of a hero and warrior.”

Cheng Guan said, “Xiao Shishu said we cannot let you go at this time, naturally we cannot kill you either.”

The girl was greatly alarmed; her face blushed, she thought, “This young evil monk said that no matter what he must take me as his wife, otherwise he would die without his eyes closed. Could it be … could it be that before he breathes his last he wants … he wants to make me … make me … whatever … whatever wife?” Leaning sideways, she picked up the willow-leaf saber from the floor and forcefully chopped it onto her own forehead.

Cheng Guan flicked the sleeve of his robe again, it coiled around the edge of the blade, while the left sleeve brushed toward her face. The girl felt a strong gust of wind sweeping her face, and had no choice but to release her grip on the saber and leaped backward to evade. Cheng Guan flicked his sleeve again, the willow-leaf saber shot up, ‘pop!’ it stuck on the beam of the roof.

Seeing Cheng Guan was looking up at the saber, the girl kicked her left foot and slipped away from his left side. Cheng Guan stretched out his hand to block. Forming her right hand’s five fingers into a claw the girl attacked his eyes. Cheng Guan flipped his hand to catch her right elbow, he said, “’Smoke Over the Eyes’, this is Jiangnan’s Jiang Family’s martial art.”

The girl’s leg flew toward his lower abdomen. Cheng Guan slightly bent his waist and the kick hit an empty air. “This is ‘Sound of Footsteps in an Empty Valley’, originated from Jin Yang of Shanxi, a Shatuo people’s martial art,” he said, “But Shatuo people must have another name, Lao Na is ignorant and inexperienced, I looked everywhere but could not find out. I wonder if Nu Shizhu knew the original name of this move.”

Why would the girl pay him any attention? Her fists punched, her feet kicked, her fingers poked, her elbows struck; launching move after move endlessly. Cheng Guan identified all the moves one by one, only her movement was really fast, he did not have enough time to say it out loud; he had no choice but parrying the attacks and simply memorized everything in his heart. The girl successively launched several dozen moves, but Cheng Guan effortlessly neutralized everything. Seeing it would be difficult for her to escape, she was extremely frightened; her breathing failed to flow, she swayed several times, and then she fell down, fainted.

Cheng Guan sighed and said, “Nu Shizhu is greedy and covetous, you learned various schools and sects’ exquisite moves, yet without possessing enough internal energy; naturally you won’t last in a prolonged fight. In Lao Na’s opinion, you’d better cultivating internal energy from the beginning, and in a proper way. Fighting this time, your strength failed. If I help you by waking you up, undoubtedly you will want to fight again, and then inevitably you will suffer internal injury; you’d better lie down to rest for a moment, what does Nu Shizhu think? But you must never misunderstand, thinking that Lao Na is only watching with folded arms, knowing you are fainting and paying you no attention. Aiyo, Lao Na is so muddle-headed, you are already fainted, of course you won’t hear a thing, yet I kept talking endlessly.”

He went toward the couch to check Wei Xiaobao’s pulse, and found it to be steady and solid, there was no indication of danger at all; he said, “Shishu, don’t you worry, your injury is not the least bit serious.”

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Do you remember all the moves that the Little Miss used?”

“I do,” Cheng Guan replied, “But to find techniques to deal with her that are simple, clear and easy to practice is indeed not easy.”

“Just remember the moves she used,” Wei Xiaobao said, “As for how to deal with her, we can think about it slowly, it won’t be too late.”

“Yes, yes,” Cheng Guan said, “Shishu’s direction is right.”

Wei Xiaobao said, “After she has finished using all her punching and kicking skills, have her use her saber, and take note of her moves.”

“Right,” Cheng Guan said, “We must also remember her moves using a weapon. There is one difficulty though: her willow-leaf saber is stuck on the beam. I am afraid she cannot jump that high, she won’t be able to retrieve it.”

“What about you?” Wei Xiaobao asked, “Can’t you jump up to get it?”

Cheng Guan was startled, then he burst out laughing and said, “Shizhi is indeed muddle-headed.”

His laughter had awakened the girl. Propping herself up with both hands, she ran toward the door. Cheng Guan flicked his left sleeve to push the side of the girl’s body. The girl staggered and hit the wall. Cheng Guan flicked his right sleeve toward the wall to support her body gently. Instantly the girl was able to steady her footing. She was startled, and realized at once that in all honesty that the difference between her martial art and this old monk’s is simply too far. If she continued fighting, he would make a fool of her without she being able to do anything. Thereupon she took two steps back and sat down on a chair.

“Uh,” Cheng Guan was puzzled, “You are not fighting anymore?”

The girl angrily said, “I am not your match, why would I want to fight you?”

Cheng Guan said, “If you don’t fight, how can I recognize the style you are using? How can I think of a way to counter that style? Quickly fight!”

The girl thought, “Fine, turns out you want me to fight so that you can understand my martial arts, I simply won’t let you know.” Suddenly she sprang up, her fists went straight up and down, waving wildly and hitting arbitrarily, her feet also kicked randomly, without using any technique at all.

Cheng Guan was greatly astonished. “Uh! Ah!” he exclaimed, “That’s odd! Strange! Ay! Wow! What’s that? Amazing! That’s weird!” He had a feeling that he had seen those moves before, but it also seemed that he had never seen them. Some moves seemed similar to certain school or sect’s style, yet the resemblance was so little, the difference was so great; the moves looked right, but felt wrong. In that instant his brain was overloaded with confusion. He felt that the martial arts he diligently and painstakingly accumulated over the dozens of years had suddenly changed, the moves he learned following the Heaven’s law and Earth’s principle, the golden rule and jade regulation, in a split second everything was shattered and nothing was left.

He did not realize that the girl did not move according to any martial art style, she was simply beating and kicking randomly. She knew that no matter what move she used, this old monk could not possibly harm her, at most he would only seal her acupoint so that she would lie down on the floor without being able to move at all, nothing more. If he really wanted to subdue her, it would be as easy as lifting his own hand. Even if she had used the most exquisite of martial art move, the result would be the same; so she might as well beating and kicking randomly. You want to study my martial art style, I simply won’t let you take a single glimpse.

Cheng Guan was very familiar with the world’s each school and sect’s martial art; however, he had never thought that in this world, there are millions of people who have never learned martial art, who, when they fight, if they want to punch they would simply punch, if they want to kick, they would simply kick. They do not understand any fist technique or kicking technique, do not know whether certain move is correct or wrong. Seeing the girl executing strange move and weird style, each one seemed more bizarre than the previous one, each one he had never seen in his entire life, each one he had never even heard about, he could not help but feeling frightened and was at a loss.

In all his life he had always lived inside Shaolin Temple, from the time he shaved his head he had never left the Temple’s gate even for a single step. Whenever someone was using his fist and feet in Shaolin Temple, naturally each move would follow some kind of style or technique; whenever someone was talking about each sect’s martial art, naturally he would mention some exquisite and original move. Everybody in the world would have seen people punching and kicking wildly like this little girl, only this Head of Bo’re Hall of Shaolin Temple, who was extremely knowledgeable in martial art, Cheng Guan Dashi [great master], had never seen anything like this, and had never heard people mentioning this either.

After watching a dozen more moves, he was even more stunned, he could not even sigh or say something like ‘strange, amazing, weird’, and so on. All kinds of styles came thick and fast before his eyes. “That looks like ‘Falling from Dragon Ride’ of Wudang’s Long Fist, but the style appears to be incorrect. Perhaps it is an alteration of Kongtong Pai’s ‘Dragon Prancing on the Cloud’? Uh, that kick looks even weirder, if she kicks straight out like that, the opponent could easily catch it, and grab her ankle. But in martial art study, greatly skillful person may not necessarily win over clumsy one, there must be an extremely formidable change that comes later. Ah, in this move she is grabbing with both hands, apparently she wants to grab my hair, but obviously I do not have any hair, so this move must be a fake one. Martial art study pays particular attention to solid in the midst of void, and void in the midst of solid. Why would she want to grab Buddhist monk’s hair? There must be a profound meaning behind this, I simply must consider the details carefully …” The more the girl moved arbitrarily, the more Cheng Guan was baffled. From being puzzled, his admiration slowly grew; from admiration, he slowly became frightened.

Wei Xiaobao could see that the girl was moving randomly, yet in all seriousness Cheng Guan was diligently watching and studying everything; he could not help but make a ‘Ha!’ sound as he broke into laughter. This laugh affected his wound, which became really painful that he could only clench his teeth trying to endure. In that moment pain and amusement mixed together, and it was really difficult to endure.

Cheng Guan was at a loss, anxious and perplexed, suddenly hearing Wei Xiaobao’s laugh, he blushed from ear to ear, thinking, “Shishu is laughing because I do not know this Nu Shizhu’s fantastic moves; perhaps he would ask her to be the Head of Bo’re Hall.” When he turned his head around, he saw Wei Xiaobao’s painful expression, and felt even more grateful, “Shishu is indeed kind-hearted, he wants me to hand over the Head position to this Nu Shizhu, but he cannot bear to say it.”

Seeing the girl’s punching and kicking was getting more and more chaotic, he thought, “The people of old said that when one has reached outstanding attainments in martial art, even hanging something on the antelope’s antler won’t leave any trace that’s possible to seek[?]. I heard that in the previous dynasty there was this Dugu Quibai [Dugu Seeking-a-loss] Daxia [great hero/knight], and then there was Linghu Chong Daxia, who defeat a move without a move; they were unequalled in their era. Could it be … could it be …”

He wanted to try, hence he stepped forward and casually punching and kicking, trying to overthrow the girl. However, when a martial art master is making his move, he must look clearly the opponent’s move first, and then thinking about a way to counter it later. Since he was already at a complete loss over the girl’s random punching and kicking, it was like a tiger cub that saw a donkey for the first time, who was terrified endlessly.

Actually, the girl did not dare to attack him. One was punching and kicking randomly with anger that was difficult to restrain, the other was having his imagination running wild while his heart was extremely frightened. After moving around randomly for quite a while, the girl’s hands and feet were exhausted and aching. Thinking that in any case it would be difficult for her to escape, her heart turned bitter, she swayed and abruptly sat down on the ground.

Cheng Guan was greatly shocked; he thought, “According to legend, when someone has trained martial art to an extremely high level, he could sit down on the ground and still injure the opponent from a distant. I am afraid … I am afraid …” His brain was overloaded with confusion; in his fright, his blood surged up, slowly he sat down and passed out.

The girl was startled but delighted; afraid that those two monks were setting up some sinister scheme, she did not dare to step forward and kill those old and young, two monks, but sprang up and ran out of the meditation room.

Suddenly seeing a woman rushing out, the monks of Bo’re Hall were taken by surprise. Without their superior’s order, who would dare to step forward and stop her? Wei Xiaobao was lying on the couch and could only watch helplessly.

After quite a while, Cheng Guan slowly regained his consciousness. With an ashamed expression he said, “Shishu, I … I am really ashamed to face our Temple’s forefathers and ancestors.”

Forcing a laugh, Wei Xiaobao said, “Where do you think you want to go?”

Cheng Guan said, “That Nu Shizhu’s martial art is exquisite, Shizhi did not recognize a single move, I am ignorant and inexperienced, I am really ashamed.” He tried hard to remember the girl’s style, but her moves changed irregularly without any pattern, completely without any set of rule he could follow; how could he remember it? Shakily he tried to stand up while supporting himself against the wall, but he almost faint again.

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “You … you think moving around wildly like that is an exquisite martial art? Ha ha … hee hee … this … this is so … so funny … I want to die!”

Cheng Guan was puzzled. “Is Shishu saying that … that was moving around wildly? And not … not exquisite martial art?”

Wei Xiaobao pressed down his wound and struggled hard not to laugh. Beads of sweat appeared on his forehead. He could not refrain from coughing and said with a laugh, “That was something that … that all children in the world can do well. Ha ha … aiyo … I will die of laughter!”

Cheng Guan blew out a breath, in his heart he was still half believing half doubting, but a smile appeared on his face. “Shishu, was that really moving around wildly?” he asked, “How come I have never seen anything like that?”

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Naturally there has never been such martial art in Shaolin Temple.”

Cheng Guan stared at the ceiling and was lost in thought for half a day. Finally he slapped his thigh and said, “That’s right. Although that Nu Shizhu’s punching and kicking is peculiar, it is actually very easy to neutralize, we only need to use Shaolin Long Fist’s shallowest move to prevail. It’s just that … it’s just that Shizhi thought that there is no such easy thing like that in the world, great skill may appear as clumsiness, great intelligence may appear to be stupidity, good merchant may hide his treasure away so that no one knows about it. There must be a profound martial art principle hidden inside a style that looks extremely easy on the outside. Who would have thought that those random punching and kicking were not profound martial art at all? This is very strange. Why did that Nu Shizhu display such style, which seems to be unfit for elegant hall, in here? Won’t that means she was simply making a fool of herself?”

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “I think it’s not strange at all. She could not produce any new style, hence she simply moved her hands and feet randomly. Ay, ha ha … hee hee …” He could not help bursting into laughter again.

Wei Xiaobao’s injury was light, plus Shaolin Temple’s metal cut wound medicine was extremely effective; after recuperating for about ten days, he was completely healed. He was the current Emperor’s proxy, he held a place of honor in the Temple, nobody would dare to ask about his business. Since nobody knew about this, as long as he did not say anything, others would not find out.

During his recovery, Cheng Guan recorded the two women’s each style and each move clearly, he also figured out a way to counter each one. As soon as Wei Xiaobao was healed, he passed on each move each style to him. Although the moves Cheng Guan taught him were quite diverse, they were based primarily on the ‘Picking Flower Grab and Capture’ technique. ‘Picking Flower Grab and Capture’ was Shaolin Pai’s profound martial art, it used pure and profound internal energy as the foundation, the moves were not complicated, but were powerful and elegant, without the slightest degree of aggressiveness.

According to Zen Buddhism legend passed down from generation to generation, at the assembly on Lingshan, Sakyamuni Buddha picked a golden Boluo flower and showed it to the crowd. The audience was silent, no one understood his meaning, only Revered Monk Jiaye [Kasyapa] broke into a smile. Buddha said, “I possess the true Dharma eye, the marvelous mind of Nirvana, the true form of the formless, the subtle [D]harma [G]ate that does not rest on words or letters but is a special transmission outside of the scriptures. This I entrust to Mahākāśyapa.[2]”

Mahakasyapa was one of Buddha’s ten main disciples, he was known as ‘the first toutuo[3]’, the Zen Buddhists revered him as their forefather. Shaolin Temple can be classified as Zen Buddhism, who pays particular attention of self-awareness. Thinking about Buddha picking the flower, Kasyapa smiled. Without a word, he had already comprehended the meaning; wasn’t that a state of comprehension beyond amazing?

The people of later generation used the term ‘picking flower’ as a name for this qin na [grab and capture/grappling] technique. Naturally each move was beautiful and each style elegant, a lot more interesting to watch than ordinary flipping of the hand or pulling of the leg. It’s just that Wei Xiaobao did not have any foundation in internal energy cultivation; using this kind of refined and elegant technique against a martial art master, as soon as the opponent lightly pushed, he would be immediately thrown down and roll around several times on the ground. He fell down until his nose turned blue and his eyes swollen, needless to say, he would either wail or laugh loudly. Luckily those two women did not have any internal energy either, hence the technique he learned would come in handy in dealing with them. Cheng Guan thought that the opponents were a couple of girls, they must not treat them roughly, hence the reason he put emphasis on this kind of technique.

When Wei Xiaobao learned martial art from Hai Dafu, because he was under supervision, he received double benefits: learning the move and how to use it, as a result, he did learn something from Hai Dafu. Later on Chen Jinnan gave him a martial art manual, which he only learned several times, and then he stopped altogether because it was too difficult. As for the six moves taught by Cult Leader Hong, husband and wife, he only practiced carelessly to get the general idea; he stopped practicing as soon as he left the Divine Dragon Island. The reason he learned martial art this time was to get that green-clothes girl as his wife. He had made an oath that in order to be her husband, he was willing to climb the mountain of blades or go down a deep fryer, when he died he would enter the eighteenth level of hell. It was indeed not a small matter; not surprisingly, he trained very diligently. He learned every move every style, and sparred with Cheng Guan.

After training for several days, his laziness came back, suddenly he thought about Shuang’er, “That girl’s martial art is not weak, most likely she will be able to deal with these two girls. I only need to have Shuang’er by my side as my escort, I don’t need to personally practice martial art.” But then he had a second thought, “I must use my own skill to get that green-clothed girl. It would be great to smell the fragrance of her face. If I ask Shuang’er to seal her acupoint and then I smell the fragrance of her face, I would appear too gutless, that green-clothed girl will look down on me even more. Besides, if I ask Shuang’er to do this kind of thing, although she would obey me, in her heart she must be grieved, I must not wrong her too much. Even if their faces both look happy, I have to be fair, neither one of them must be discontented.” In the end, he made a strenuous effort to learn the style.

One particular day Cheng Guan said, “Shishu, You are diligently learning this martial art, actually … actually it won’t do you any good. If you grab me like this, and I reacted using my internal energy, your wrist … your wrist will be … will be …”

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “My wrist will be ‘crack!’ broke in two.”

Cheng Guan said, “You are my superior, no way would I use my internal strength against you, Shizhi absolutely will not dare. However, in Shizhi’s opinion, practicing Shaolin Long Fist from the start, step-by-step in proper order is the way to go.”

Wei Xiaobao said, “Why do you say that what we are practicing right now is not the way to go?”

“This style does not have any internal energy foundation,” Cheng Guan replied, “If you are facing a martial art master, it does not matter how ingenious the changes are, inevitably you will fail and be wiped over the floor. It is only useful to deal with those two Nu Shizhu.”

Wei Xiaobao laughed. “That’s wonderful,” he said, “The only reason I learn this is only to deal with those two Nu Shizhu.”

Cheng Guan looked at him with a baffled expression, he was completely lost. He said, “Supposing Shishu will not come across those Nu Shizhu again in the future, won’t the effort of learning this martial art be wasted? Not to mention you will delay the time to learn proper martial art.”

Wei Xiaobao shook his head and said, “If I can’t see this Nu Shizhu again, I will definitely die; what use will learning proper martial art be?” What Cheng Guan said was ‘those two Nu Shizhu’, but Wei Xiaobao was referring to ‘this Nu Shizhu’.

Cheng Guan was even more baffled; he asked, “Could it be that Shishu has been hit by that Nu Shizhu’s poison and thus must find her to get the antidote, otherwise your life would be difficult to protect?”

Wei Xiaobao said in his heart, “I was talking about the matter between a man and a woman, where did this old monk get that idea?” With a grim expression he said, “Exactly, exactly, I was hit by her poison; the poison has entered my five viscera and six bowels, into the bones and marrows of my entire body, only she can neutralize it.”

“Aiyo!” Cheng Guan exclaimed, “Our Temple’s Cheng Zhao Shidi is adept at neutralizing poison, let me ask him to come here to examine Shishu.”

Suppressing his laugh, Wei Xiaobao said, “No need, no need, the poison that hit me is actually slow to take effect, she is the only antidote, other people are useless. The old monk Cheng Zhao is even more useless.”

Cheng Guan nodded. “Turns out only she has the antidote,” he said. Wei Xiaobao was saying ‘only she was the antidote’, Cheng Guan erroneously assumed that ‘only she has the antidote’. One word makes the meaning entirely different.

The old monk was anxious, he muttered to himself, “Ay, Shishu is being hit by the strange poison of this Nu Shizhu’s unique school, luckily it is slow to take effect …”

The girl’s martial art was actually very broad and diverse, the techniques Cheng Guan came up with to counter her were not a few either, some were more challenging than the others, Wei Xiaobao did not have any martial art foundation at all, how could he learn everything in such a short period of time? Every day he sparred with Cheng Guan, oftentimes he treated this white-bearded old monk as that beautiful young green-clothed girl.Sometimes he went as far as speaking with him frivolously and treated him tenderly. Luckily Cheng Guan did not understand anything, he thought this young martial uncle had a deep comprehension of Buddhist teaching, and that he was using a profound Buddhist allegory. Cheng Guan blamed himself for being stupid for failing to grasp the essence of the attainment of the spiritual learning.

One day the two of them were talking about the two girls’ saber technique in Cheng Guan’s meditation room when the Bo’re Hall monk on duty came to the door and said, “Fangzhang Dashi [great master abbot] is inviting Shishuzu and Shibo [grand martial uncle and martial (older) uncle] to the main hall to discuss something.”

The two of them went to the Hall of Great Strength[4] and saw several dozens of guests in the Hall, some were sitting down, some were standing up. Abbot Hui Cong Chanshi was sitting on the second seat of honor to accompany the guests. On the main seats of honor sat three people. The first one was wearing Mongolian nobleman attire, he looked about twenty or so; the second one was a middle-aged Lama, thin, short and swarthy; the third one was a military officer, from his uniform it looked like he was a commander of the army, about forty something years old. Standing behind these three were a mix of several dozen military officers, Lamas, and about a dozen or so men in civilian clothing. They all looked strong and heroic, obviously they knew martial arts.

Seeing Wei Xiaobao entering the Hall, Abbot Hui Cong stood up and said, “Shidi, honored guests are descending on our Temple. This is His Highness Prince Galdan [ge’er dan] of Mongolia, this is Da Fashi[5] Great Lama Chang Qi of Tibet, and this one is Ma Bao, Ma Daren[6], a military commander under Ping Xi Wang’s banner.” Turning toward the three guests, he said, “And this is Lao Na’s Shidi, Hui Ming Chanshi.”

Everybody could see that Wei Xiaobao was young man with a flippant expression, a complete picture of a frivolous teenager, yet unexpectedly he was a Chanshi of the same standing as the Abbot himself; they were all astonished. Prince Galdan could not help but laughing; he said, “This little eminent monk is really young and fascinating. Ha ha … odd, very odd.”

Wei Xiaobao put his palms together and said, “Amitabha, this big prince is really big and amusing. Hee hee … strange, very strange!”

Galdan angrily said, “What’s so amusing and strange aboutme?”

Wei Xiaobao replied, “Whatever is fascinating and odd about the little monk is the same as whatever is amusing and strange about Your Highness; it’s hard to differentiate between the elder and younger brother, one is just as bad as the other.” Finished speaking, he sat down on the seat below Abbot Hui Cong, while Cheng Guan stood behind him. Hearing Wei Xiaobao, everybody thought that it was an unfathomable truth, and they all secretly praised him.

Abbot Hui Cong said, “I wonder what instruction the three honored guests have by gracing our humble Temple with your presence.”

Lama Chang Qi said, “The three of us came across each other by accident along the way. Upon talking to each other, we agreed that Shaolin Temple is the Mount Tai and Big Dipper constellation [i.e.the ultimate] of martial art study in the Central Plains, worthy of our admiration. The three of us are uncouth people of the borders, what we see and hear is shallow, thereupon we come to your precious temple together to admire. We will be much honored to see the eminent monks’ respected example.” Although he was a Tibetan Lama, he spoke with good Beijing bureaucratic language, his voice was sharp, clear and bright, his manner in speaking was elegant.

“We do not dare,” Hui Cong said, “In Mongolia, Tibet and Yunnan, three places, Buddhist teaching is usually flourishing. The three gentlemen have received Buddha’s illumination for a long time, your wisdom and self-awareness must be clear, what other direction we can hope to give you?” Chang Qi Lama was talking about martial art study, but Abbot Hui Cong was talking about the Dharma. Although Shaolin Temple was renowned all over the world for its martial art, yet all the eminent monks of the Temple took diligently cultivated Buddhist doctrine as the proper way, they always thought that the martial art study was merely a minor detail to protect and sustain the Buddhist teaching.

Galdan said, “I heard that Shaolin Temple’s previous generations passed on altogether seventy-two special skills, which overawe the world, not often to find a match. Is it possible for Fangzhang Dashi to ask the eminent monks to demonstrate them one by one so that Xiao Wang [little king, referring to self] and the others could have our eyes opened?”

Hui Cong said, “It is only proper to let Your Highness know that the hearsay of the Jianghu is not to be trusted. Our humble Temple’s monks are diligently cultivating Zen meditation in order to reach true enlightenment. Although some of us have spare time to practice martial art, it is nothing more than to have a strong and healthy body. Trivial small skills, not worth mentioning.”

Fangzhang,” Galdan said, “You are indeed frank and candid. All we ask is that you demonstrate these 72 unique skills, we only want to watch, not to steal it; why should you be narrow-minded?”

ShaolinTemple’s reputation was simply too great, over the last thousand years, nearly every month there were people who pay a visit asking for advice. Some came with sincerity because they really wanted to learn, some with evil intention to pick a quarrel. The monks of the Temple always politely declined. Even if the visitors were extremely arrogant, the Temple’s monks always treated them with due respect, and would never argue. Only when the visitors resorted to violence would the monks be forced into fighting back. Otherwise, they would always send off the visitors with good wishes. Something like this Prince Galdan just said, Abbot Hui Cong had heard countless times. He simply smiled and said, “If the three gentlemen are willing to expound the Zen teaching and discuss the Buddhist doctrine, Lao Seng [old monk] will convene the monks to respectfully listen to your discourse. As for some martial art, our Temple always follows the rule that we do not dare to show off our meager skills before an expert, to be presumptuous toward the visiting benefactors.”

Galdan’s eyebrows stood up as he loudly said, “In that case, Shaolin Temple only enjoys unearned reputation. The Temple’s monks’ martial art is not as good as dog fart, not worth a qian.”

Hui Cong smiled and said, “Everything is life is indeed fabricated, is indeed not as good as dog fart, not worth a qian. The Five Aggregates [from Sanskrit ‘skandha’] are empty, our bodies are empty, reputation is no more than worldly possessions. Your Highness says our humble Temple only enjoys unearned reputation; that is the truth.”

Galdan had not expected this old monk did not get the least bit angry; he could not help but was startled. Standing up, he laughed loudly while pointing his finger at Wei Xiaobao and said, “Little monk, are you also not as good as dog fart, not worth a qian?”

Wei Xiaobao giggled and said, “Naturally Big Prince surpasses Little Monk. Little monk is indeed not as good as dog fart, not worth a qian. Big Prince is definitely as good as dog fart, and worth a qian. This is called you win by a gambling chip.” Immediately some people from among those who stand snickered.

Galdan was furious; he wanted to leave his seat and use force against Wei Xiaobao immediately, but then he had a second thought, “This little monk’s seniority in Shaolin Temple is very high, perhaps there is something wrong here, which I don’t know yet.” Panting with rage, he struggled hard to suppress his anger.

Wei Xiaobao said, “Your Highness does not need to lose your temper. You must know that the smelliest thing in the world is not dog fart, rather, it is one’s words. There are some people, who, when they speak, stink to the high heaven, just like … just like … hey, hey, I don’t need to say it. As for not worth a qian, it is not the lowliest thing. The lowliest thing is someone who owes other tens of million, hundreds of million taels, yet refuse to pay. Whether Your Highness owe others money or not, you alone know it in your heart.” Galdan was stunned with his mouth agape, temporarily he did not know how to respond.

Abbot Hui Cong said, “Shidi’s words contain profound Buddhist allegory; my admiration, my admiration. Affairs of life, karma and retribution, everything has its cause and definitely has its fruit. Committing evil deeds will result in evil consequence. Not worth a qian is no more than ‘without virtue, without malice’, it is a lot better than owing innumerable evil debts.”

Eminent monks of Zen Buddhism were constantly in search of Zen truth. In actuality, Wei Xiaobao was saying those things only to ridicule Galdan’s casual remark, yet in Abbot Hui Cong’s ears, it concealed deep crucial points.

Listening to the Abbot’s explanation, Cheng Guan was immediately enlightened; he could not help but sighing in admiration, “Hui Ming Shishu is young yet virtuous,” he said happily, “He had attained the wonderful comprehension of the truth. Lao Na has been studying under him for several months, when I meditate recently, my brain seems to be clearing up a lot.”

A little monk babbled nonsense, two old monks echoed each other; to outsiders, they seemed to be deliberately trying to embarrass Galdan. Galdan’s face turned deep red; suddenly he sprang up from his chair and pounced on Wei Xiaobao. The hosts and the guests were sitting opposite to each other, separated by a distance of approximately two zhang [±20 feet/6 m], but his movement was vigorous and nimble, quickly he arrived in front of Wei Xiaobao, both hands formed a couple of claws, one clawed Wei Xiaobao’s face, the other clawed his chest. Before the claws even arrived, Wei Xiaobao had already felt a strong gust of wind enveloping his body. He wanted to dodge, but there was not the least bit of leeway, and had no choice but to resign himself to extinction.

Abbot Hui Cong’s right hand sleeve lightly brushed away to block in front of Galdan. As Galdan’s powerful force collided with his sleeve, Galdan felt the chi and blood inside his chest bubbling up, as if he was hitting a thick steel wall, lined with a layer of cotton on its surface. Without being able to control his own body, he staggered back three steps. He made a strenuous effort to halt, but unexpectedly he could not control his feet and was pushed back three more steps. In the meantime, the incoming force vanished, but in that instant, his own strength also vanished without a trace. He was greatly shocked; his knees went soft and he fell sitting down. “Bad,” he thought, “This time I am greatly humiliated.” He had just had that thought when he suddenly realized that his buttocks came in contact with a hard wooden board; unexpectedly he was returning to his own chair.

The force behind the flick of Abbot Hui Cong’s sleeve was soft and dispersed, there was no trace of aggressiveness at all. The force that collided with the opponent was exceptionally accurate, it was just enough to push Galdan back to his own chair. If the force was slightly stronger, Galdan would undoubtedly crash and break the chair, and he would tumble backward. If the force was slightly lighter, Galdan would not reach the chair so that when he fell down, he would sat on the ground.

When some of the visitors who happened to have profound martial art witnessed how Hui Cong’s light flick with his sleeve was brimming with an outstanding attainment in martial art training, they could not help but bursting out in loud cheer.

Not being humiliated on the spot, Galdan was somewhat consoled. Quietly he took a deep breath and felt that his internal energy was not damaged; the old monk did not injure him internally at all, hence was delighted. But then he recalled that just now he was so hot-headed, yet it seemed that he was not humiliated; he realized that in fact he had made a complete fool of himself, immediately his face turned red. Hearing some people behind him cheering, he presumed that they were not cheering him being beaten by the old monk; his anger flared again.

Wei Xiaobao was still shaken. Hui Cong turned around and said to him, “Shidi, your mental power is indeed superior, external force coming fiercely, you neither see nor take any notice. The ‘Collection of Great Treasures Sutra’ says: ‘Like a man in a forest of thistles and thorns, being motionless means the thorn will not harm him. Rashness does not arise in his heart, anxiety will fade away happily. Rashness moves in his heart, the thorns will immediately prick him.’ The ancient sutra says, ‘When the heart is bitter, there will be no mood for happiness.’ Shidi is young, yet unexpectedly your meditation cultivation has reached the extremely high state of ‘constantly not in the mood, constantly motionless’; your root is indeed very deep, you have great wisdom and great intelligence.”

How would he know that not only Wei Xiaobao did not have the power to fight back, even if he had the desire to dodge, he simply could not? Galdan’s pounce was too fast; it was called the ‘thunderbolt surpass the covering of the ear’; it was not that one did not want to cover his ears, but rather he did not have time to cover his ears. With a clear heart Abbot Hui Cong was always looking for orthodox skill, normally he diligently and single-mindedly trying to reach the ‘non-self’ realm; therefore, when he saw Wei Xiaobao surprisingly did not care about either his own life and death or safety and danger, he could not help but admiring him completely. As for him warding off Galdan’s attack using the ‘worn-out cassock skill’ by sending his force via the flick of his sleeve, he felt it was not worth-mentioning instead.

Cheng Guan was even more full of admiration, he said, “Vajra Sutra says, ‘no self, no people, no living things, no long life’; unexpectedly Hui Ming Shishu has reached that state. Some other day he must have reached the Aruduoluo[7], three-despise three-enlightenment.”

Galdan had been in an uncontrollable rage, listening to these two old monks showering praises to this little monk, he roared, “Halisiba’er, nimahong, jianubiding’er!” Several warriors under his command behind him quickly waved their hands, several yellow rays flashed, nine golden projectiles separately flew toward Hui Cong, Cheng Guan and Wei Xiaobao’s chests.
The two sides were very close to each other, plus Wei Xiaobao and the others did not understand since Galdan gave the order to throw the projectiles in Mongolian, hence the projectiles were totally unexpected.

The nine projectiles came swiftly and were already at their chests. Hui Cong and Cheng Guan simultaneously cried out, “Aiyo!” Hui Cong still used the ‘worn-out cassock skill’ by flicking his sleeve to wrap around three projectiles. Cheng Guan joined his palms together with the move ‘saluting three precious treasures[8]’ to catch the three golden projectiles in his palms. ‘Pop!’ the three projectiles flying toward Wei Xiaobao all hit his chest.

These nine projectiles arrived almost at the same time, Hui Cong and Cheng Guan were going to help him, but it was simply too late. They were all shocked, but they only heard ‘plink, plink, plonk’, the three projectiles fell to the ground. Wei Xiaobao was wearing his treasured vest, the golden projectiles could not harm him.

Instantly the main hall was abuzz with sensation. Everybody saw how this little monk was very young, yet unexpectedly had mastered Shaolin Pai’s highest internal energy cultivation, the ‘Jin Gang Hu Ti Shen Gong[9]’; it was indeed inconceivable. They all thought, “No wonder this little monk belongs to Shaolin Pai’s ‘Hui’ generation, of the same standing with Shaolin Temple’s head monk, Hui Cong Fangzhang, who has made his name for several decades.”

Actually, Hui Cong and Cheng Guan’s techniques in catching the projectiles were also extremely brilliant; were it not for their internal energy cultivation had reached the stage of perfection, what they did would be very difficult to accomplish. It’s just that Wei Xiaobao’s ‘skill’ was too marvelous that the crowd did not pay attention to these two old monks.

While the crowd was still in awe, Chang Qi Lama laughed and said, “Little eminent monk’s ‘Jin Gang Hu Ti Shen Gong’ has been trained to such level, it is indeed not easy. However, it seems to me that this divine skill still has some shortcoming, it is still unable to shake the secret projectiles off completely, to such an extent that the monk robe is poked by three small holes.”

According to old legend, when this ‘Jin Gang Hu Ti Shen Gong’ has been trained to reach the pinnacle, there will be a layer of invisible force field around the body, so that before the enemy’s weapon or secret projectile even reaches the body, it will be shaken off immediately. However, it was no more than a legend circulating among the Wulin world, nobody knew whether there was a real person who had really trained to that level. When Chang Qi Lama said those words, people knew he was simply trying to ‘look for a bone in a chicken egg’, he was bent on playing down the opponent’s marvelous ability.

Being hit by the three golden projectiles, Wei Xiaobao’s chest was really painful, one of the projectile hit really close to his wound that the pain penetrated deep into his bones and marrow; he could not even breathe, how could he speak? All he could do was forcing a laugh. Yet the crowd thought that his cultivation had reached such an extremely high level that he did not feel it was worth the trouble to respond to Chang Qi’s pointless provocation. Quite a few people mused, “You said his divine skill has not been trained to perfection, I want to see if I shoot you three projectiles, whether three big holes will appear on your chest or not, not just three small holes appear on your clothes.” It’s just that they came together, so it was inconvenient to ridicule their companion.

Seeing Wei Xiaobao’s fierceness, Galdan’s rage immediately vanished. He thought, “Shaolin Pai’s martial art is indeed formidable.”

Chang Qi continued, “Finally Shaolin Temple’s martial art has indeed increased our knowledge; definitely it was not an unearned reputation, not as good as dog’s fart. However, we heard that your precious Temple has given shelter to women, which is rather deficient in following the clear regulation of monastic discipline.”

Hui Cong’s countenance sank; he said, “Great Lama is wrong! Our humble Temple does not accept female benefactors to enter the Temple to worship Buddha; where did you get the idea that we give shelter to women?”

Chang Qi laughed and said, “But the Jianghu is abuzz, a lot of people are saying that.”

Abbot Hui Cong smiled and said, “Why would we want to pay attention to rumors in Jianghu? Ultimately we must be like Hui Ming Shidi, external force coming fiercely, our hearts will be unmoved. That is the self-awareness of the wonderful truth, the evidence of true enlightenment skill.”

Chang Qi Lama said, “I heard that in this young eminent monk’s meditation room hidden an outstandingly beautiful woman, furthermore, it was he who kidnapped her with force. Could it be that Hui Ming Chanshi’s heart is also completely unmoved by this beautiful woman?”

By this time Wei Xiaobao had been able to catch his breat; he was shocked and thought, “How did they know?”

Then he immediately understood, “That’s right, that Miss wearing blue clothes ran away. Obviously she went back to their teacher to report. Looks like these men are the reinforcement she sent; today they are here to rescue my wife. He said I have a beautiful woman in my room, in that case, after my wife ran away, she has not met with them.” At once he smiled and said, “Whether there is a beautiful woman in my room or not will be evident as soon as you look. Gentlemen, there is no harm in you going to look.”

In a loud voice Galdan said, “Alright, we will search the Temple. As the water receded, the rocks appear.” Finished speaking, he rose up and waved his left hand. “Search the Temple!” he ordered. The men under his command started to move toward the back of the Hall.

Hui Cong said, “Your Highness wants to search our Temple, I wonder under whose order?”

Galdan said, “My order is enough, why must I receive other people’s order?”

Hui Cong said, “You are mistaken. Your Highness is a Mongolian Prince, if we were in Mongolia, you may give order at will. Shaolin Temple is not within Mongolian borders, hence we are not under Your Highness’ jurisdiction.”

Galdan pointed to Commander Ma and said, “He is an imperially appointed official, with him issuing the order to search the Temple should be enough.” He saw how superior Shaolin monks’ martial arts were, plus they had many more people. If a fight broke, the several dozen men on his side would not be their match. Thereupon he added, “You are defying the Imperial Court’s order; that can be considered rebellion.”

“Defying the Imperial Court’s order, Shaolin Temple will not dare,” Hui Cong said, “However, this gentlemen is a military official under the Ping Xi Wang of Yunnan’s banner. Even if Ping Xi Wang’s power grew, it won’t reach Henan province.”

Hui Cong actually was an astute man, it was only when discussing Zen’s truth that he gave no thought to worldly affair. Apart from that, he was quite knowledgeable in other affairs; he was completely different from Cheng Guan who did not understand anything about the outside world.

Chang Qi Lama laughed and said, “This young eminent monk has agreed, why should Fangzhang Dashi use that pretext to stop the search? Could it be that the beautiful woman is not in Hui Ming Chanshi’s room, but actually in … in … hee hee … in Fangzhang Dashi’s meditation room?”

“Amitabha,” Hui Cong said, “Sin, sin. Why would Dashi utter such words?”

Suddenly someone behind Galdan spoke in a delicate voice, “Your Highness, my Shimei was clearly captured by this little monk, quickly tell them to hand her over, otherwise we definitely won’t let this matter drop, we will burn Shaolin Temple to the ground.” It was a female voice, but the one speaking was a man, with sallow complexion and face full of beard.

As soon as Wei Xiaobao heard it, he knew this person was that girl in blue in disguise. She put some yellow wax on her face and stuck some fake beard. He was unable to restrain his ecstasy, “These past several days I was worried because I did not know my wife’s school or sect, I did not know her name or surname. She turned her back on her husband and ran away, where would I go to find her? Now I know that they belong to this Mongolian Prince’s group. Very good, very good. She won’t escape from me.”

Hui Cong also recognized her; he said, “Turns out this is the Miss who came to our Temple and injured people the other day. There was another Miss who was mending her wound in our Temple; she is not coming with Miss this time?”

The girl angrily said, “Afterwards my Shimei was captured and brought to your Temple. That old monk was his accomplice, it was him who defeated my Shimei.” While saying that she pointed to Cheng Guan.

Wei Xiaobao was greatly alarmed; he mused, “Aiyo! Not good! The old monk Cheng Guan cannot lie, this affair will be exposed. What should I do?” Momentarily he was at a loss of what to do.

The girl pointed to Cheng Guan and loudly said, “Old monk, tell me, tell me, am I telling the truth?”

Cheng Guan put his palms together and said, “Please tell us where did the Nu Shizhu, your respected Shimei go? My Shishu was hit by her violent poison, only she has the antidote. Nu Shizhu is infinitely merciful, please beseech your respected Shimei to quickly grant the antidote. Although Hui Ming Shishu’s wisdom is profound, he is free and does not care about life and death, considering life and death as the Nirvana, the Nirvana as life and death, but … ay …”

He was babbling a string of incoherent sentences. Although other people could not comprehend what he was saying, they all knew that the girl was not in the monastery; moreover, Wei Xiaobao was poisoned by her and was looking for her for the antidote, otherwise his life would be difficult to protect. Everyone could see Cheng Guan’s simple appearance, his words were extremely sincere, they all believed he was not lying. They thought, “Even if the woman was indeed hidden in the Temple and the Abbot allow us to search, Shaolin Temple has hundreds of rooms and thousands of residence, how could we search everything in such a short period of time? If we really want to search, most likely we will only invite a rebuke in vain.”

With a sharp voice the girl shouted, “Clearly you have captured and brought my Shimei into the Temple, perhaps you have already killed her. You are evil monks who offend the Heaven and disregard reasons, you must have had destroy her body to leave no trace, naturally we won’t find her.” Toward the end, her anger mixed with anxiety that her voice turned into sobbing.

Galdan nodded, “That makes sense. This … this little monk is not a good person.”

The girl pointed to Wei Xiaobao and cursed, “You are an evil man, that day in the brothel you fooled around with a lot of bad women, when you saw my Shimei’s beauty, you were having an evil thought. It must be because my Shimei was unwilling to … unwilling to come with you that you killed her. If you can go to the brothel, what other bad things you can’t do?”

When Hui Cong heard this, he showed a faint smile, thinking that it was absurd. Cheng Guan did not know what kind of place was a ‘brothel’, he thought it was a place similar to Shaolin Temple’s Jielu Courtyard, Damo Courtyard, or Bodhi Courtyard[10]. He thought, “Xiao Shishu is fearlessly forging ahead, diligently doing good works and practicing Buddhist teachings. This is the ‘forging ahead vigorously boluomi[11]’ of the six paramita. Leading a pious life in a brothel is also very good!”

In his heart, Wei Xiaobao was very anxious; he was afraid she would go into the details and narrate how he deliberately created some trouble.

Suddenly from behind Commander Ma a man stepped forward, cupped his fist and said, “Miss, Xiaoren knows that this Chanshi is practicing strict and refined monastic discipline; he would never set foot in a brothel. I am afraid it was a baseless rumor.”

As soon as Wei Xiaobao saw him, he was delighted. Turned out this man was Yang Yizhi whom he had met in Beijing. He was escorting Wu Yingxiong to Beijing. Presumably Wu Yingxiong had returned to Yunnan and now he came to Henan with Commander Ma. All along he was hanging his head low and stood behind other people, thereupon Wei Xiaobao did not immediately recognize him.

The girl angrily said, “How do you know? Do you know him?”

Xiaoren knows this young Chanshi,” Yang Yizhi respectfully replied, “Our Heir Apparent also knows him. This young Chanshi has shown enormous kindness toward our Wangye’s [master king] family. Before he left home, he was a Gong-gong in the Imperial Palace. Consequently, there must be no such thing as going to a brothel, or forcing your respected Shimei, and so on. Please Miss understand.”

When the crowd heard him, “Oh!” they exclaimed. They all thought, “If he was a court eunuch, naturally he could not visit a prostitute, even more impossible for him to kidnap a woman and hide her in the Temple.”

Looking at everybody’s expression, the girl realized that they did not believe her; she grew even more angry. With a shrill voice she said, “How do you know he was a eunuch? If he was a eunuch, why did he say he wanted to take … to take my Shimei as … as his wife? Not only this little monk talked nonsense, that old monk is also oily-mouthed and a smooth talker, they love to take advantage of other people.” While saying that, she pointed her finger at Cheng Guan.

The crowd could see that Cheng Guan was over eighty years old, with a rather dumb expression. Only a while ago they heard him stammering, when he was trying to express his thought with difficulty. It would be almost impossible to find someone more ‘oily-mouthed and smooth talking’ than he was. Hence they did not believe the girl even more. They all thought that because they listened to her one-sided wild fantasy today they had come to Shaolin Temple and made a fool of themselves; they were quite regretful.

Yang Yizhi said, “Miss, you did not know that before he left home, this young Chanshi was very famous; he was the Gui Gong-gong who has put that big treacherous court official Oboi to death. Our Prince was framed by some crafty scoundrels, he was in danger of suffering an unredressed injustice if not for this young Chanshi vigorously explaining the facts in front of His Majesty. This great kindness and great favor so far has not been repaid yet.”

Everybody had heard the name Xiao Guizi who killed Oboi, they all knew that he was Kangxi’s most favorite little eunuch. They could not help but exclaimed, ‘Oh!’ while their faces showed admiration.

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Yang Xiong, long time no see. Is your Heir Apparent well? It was a minor matter of the past, why do you keep mentioning it?”

Yang Yizhi came along to Mount Shaoshi with Commander Ma. Other than Ping Xi Wang’s people, Galdan and Lama Chang Qi’s people did not know his name and surname. Hearing Wei Xiaobao greeted him as ‘Brother Yang’, they had no doubt that they knew each other. They heard Yang Yizhi continued, “Chanshi’s benevolence comes from your heart, being of service to others, you say it was a small matter, but our Wangye is endlessly grateful. Although His Majesty is an enlightened sage, knowing right and wrong, black and white, and would be able to clarify in the end, yet were it not for Chanshi stated the actual truth at the earliest possible time, the twists and turns of this matter might be difficult to say.”

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “You are too kind, you are too kind. Your Wangye is also too polite.” But in his heart he said, “I really wish to pull down your traitor-to-China Wangye. It was the Emperor who was the enlightened sage and ascertained the truth on his own; I was only doing a favor without costing me anything, which I had to do anyway. Finally the good karma that day bears the fruit today as this man came out to help me out of trouble.”

Galdan look at him from top to bottom, sizing him up, and then said, “Turns out you are the little eunuch who killed Oboi. Even in Mongolia I have also heard your reputation. Oboi was known as the number one warrior of Manchuria, in that case you did not learn your martial art from Shaolin Temple.”

Wei Xiaobao said with a laugh, “My martial art is extremely lacking, not worth mentioning at all. The number of people who taught me martial art is actually quite a few. This Yang Dage once taught me the move ‘sweeping a thousand army’ and the move ‘flowing water from a high mountain’.” Finished speaking, he stood up and demonstrated the two moves he mentioned. He did not use the slightest bit of force, so others could not see the level of his martial art skill; however, undoubtedly the style was from ‘Mu Family Fist’.

Yang Yizhi said, “It was because Chanshi demonstrated these two moves in front of His Majesty that he understood clearly that our Wangye was framed by a personal enemy.”

The girl’s expression was not as angry as she previously looked. “Yang Dage,” she said, “This little … this man is a eunuch? Has he really shown kindness to Ping Xi Wang mansion?”

“Absolutely,” Yang Yizhi replied, “There are many people in Beijing who knew about this.”

The girl hesitated a little bit, and then she asked Wei Xiaobao, “In that case, you were … you were joking with us, sisters, like that, what is your intention?”

Wei Xiaobao said, “I was not joking, of course I have an intention.” In his heart he said, “My intention is to marry your Meizi, but there are too many people here, of course I cannot say it out loud.”

“What is your intention?” the girl asked.

Wei Xiaobao only showed a faint smile without saying anything. Everybody else thought, “Since he has an intention, naturally it is inconvenient to expose it in the presence of everyone.”

Chang Qi put his palms together and said, “Fangzhang Dashi, Hui Ming Chanshi, we have come here on impulse, please forgive our offense, we are taking our leave now.”

Hui Cong put his palms together to return the propriety and said, “Good guests coming from afar, please enjoy vegetarian dish with us first. However, this Nu Shizhu …” he thought that you disguised yourself as a man and sneaked into the Temple, we did not look into it, and that’s that. But by inviting you for a vegetarian meal, we are inevitably breaking the Temple’s regulation too much.

Chang Qi laughed and said, “Thank you very much, thank you very much! To avoid giving Fangzhang Shixiong too much trouble, all of us won’t eat this vegetarian feast.” Immediately they all bade their farewell and walked out. The Abbot and Wei Xiaobao, Cheng Guan and the other walked them out to the mountain gate.

Suddenly they heard the sound of horses’ hooves, about a dozen or so riders galloped- toward them. When they were near, it could be seen that the riders were wearing Imperial Bodyguards’ uniform, altogether there were sixteen men. Before they even reached the Temple, all sixteen of them stopped and dismounted the horses, and walked toward the Temple in formation. The two foremost men were none other than Zhang Kangnian and Zhao Qixian.

As soon as Zhang Kangnian saw Wei Xiaobao, he called out loudly, “Du … Du … Daren, are you, Senior well?” He was going to call ‘Dutong [commander] Daren’, but seeing Wei Xiaobao was wearing monk robe, he had no choice but to call vaguely. Immediately the sixteen of them kneeled down to pay their respect to Wei Xiaobao.

Wei Xiaobao was delighted. “Gentlemen, please rise,” he said, “No need to be overly courteous. I have been looking forward to seeing you daily.”

Galdan and the others noticed that these sixteen men were imperial bodyguards whose pin rank[12] was not low, yet they were that respectful toward Wei Xiaobao. They all thought, “This little monk indeed has some background.”

According to Qing military system, commanders were of regular second pin rank, first-class imperial bodyguards were of regular third pin rank, and the second-class imperial bodyguards were of regular fourth pin rank. Although compared to army commanders the official rank of Zhang Kangnian and the others was quite low, they were the Emperor’s personal bodyguards, they did not have any regard toward ‘outside’ military officials. They only nodded slightly toward Commander Ma as a way of greeting, and then were back showing their eager attention to Wei Xiaobao.

Seeing how these Imperial Bodyguards doing everything they could to please Wei Xiaobao while turning a blind eye to everybody else, Galdan was angry. “Humph,” he snorted, and said, “Let’s go, I can’t bear to see this kind of attitude.” His party cupped their hands toward Abbot Hui Cong and then walked down the mountain.

Wei Xiaobao invited the Imperial Bodyguards to enter the Temple. Zhang Kangnian walked beside him and said in a low voice, “His Majesty has a secret edict.” Wei Xiaobao nodded.

When they entered the Hall of Great Strength, Zhang Kangnian took out the Imperial Edict and read it out loud; it was only several sentences of official announcement: the Emperor bestowed five thousand taels to Shaolin Temple, to build more monks’ residence, to repair the gilded image of Buddha, and also to confer Wei Xiaobao the title of ‘Fu Guo Feng Sheng Chanshi’ [Dhyana Master Revered Sage Supporter of the Country]. Hui Cong and Wei Xiaobao kowtowed to express their gratitude.

Zhang Kangnian said, “His Majesty’s order: for ‘Fu Guo Feng Sheng Chanshi’ to get ready to set on a journey, your destination will be Mount Wutai.”

Wei Xiaobao had already anticipated this matter; he bowed to comply and said, “Your servant obeys the Emperor’s decree.”

After they all had been served tea, Wei Xiaobao invited Zhang Kangnian and Zhao Qixian, two people toward his own meditation room to chat. From his pocket Zhang Kangnian produced a secret imperial edict, which he presented with both hands while saying, “His Majesty has another decree.”

Wei Xiaobao kneeled down and kowtowed, and received the edict with both hands. Seeing that it was sealed with stamped lacquer wax, he thought, “I wonder what instruction His Majesty might have. The letters written on the Imperial Edict may recognize me, but I don’t recognize them. Since it is secret, I am not supposed to let Zhang and Zhao to know, I’d better ask Fangzhang Shixiong for guidance. I am sure he won’t reveal the secret.”

Thereupon, carrying the secret edict, he went to Hui Cong’s meditation room and said, “Fangzhang Shixiong, His Majesty has a secret order for me, I am asking you to give me directions.” Breaking the secret edict’s seal, he saw a large sheet of fine writing paper. Upon spreading it out, he saw four drawings.

The first drawing depicted five mountain peaks. Wei Xiaobao recognized it as Mount Wutai. On the southern peak there was a drawing of a temple, with the caption ‘Qing Liang Si’ three characters. Wei Xiaobao has stayed in Qingliang Temple for many days, and was somewhat familiar with these three characters. If the characters were written someplace else, he would never recognize them; but written on a temple, it could be considered meeting an acquaintance.

The second drawing depicted a little monk entering a temple, written above the temple also the three characters ‘Qing Liang Si’. The little monk was followed by a group of monks, above these monks’ heads there were five characters ‘Shao Lin Si He Shang’ [monks of Shaolin Temple]. Wei Xiaobao recognized the first three characters. Although he did not know the last two characters ‘he shang’, he could guess what they mean.

The setting on the third drawing was the Hall of Great Strength, where the little monk sat in the middle, happy and grinning, his face looked a lot like Wei Xiaobao, but he was wearing red kasaya, the apparel of an abbot. Next to him were many monks standing up. Wei Xiaobao realized that the little monk in the picture looked a lot like him, the more he looked, the more he was fascinated by it, unconsciously he broke into laughter.

The fourth drawing showed the little monk was kneeling on the ground, in front of a middle-aged monk. The middle-aged monk looked thin, it must be the Emperor Shunzhi who assumed the Buddhist name Xing Chi after leaving home.

Other than these four drawings, there were no other characters written on the secret edict. Turned out Kangxi was very adept at painting; knowing that Wei Xiaobao’s literacy was limited, he put the imperial decree in paintings. These four drawings could not be clearer, he wanted Wei Xiaobao to go to the Qing Liang Temple to be the head administrator and serve the Old Emperor.

At first Wei Xiaobao found it amusing, but his delight quickly disappeared; he groaned inwardly, “It’s alright for me to be a little monk, but now he wants me to be an old monk; that’s very bad!”

Hui Cong smiled and said, “Congratulations Shidi, His Majesty is sending you to be the head monk of Qingliang Temple. Qingliang Temple is a distinguished ancient temple, it was established during the reign of Emperor Xiao Wen of Northern Wei Dynasty, a lot earlier than Shaolin Temple. Being the head of a large monastery, Shidi will have great opportunity to proclaim Buddhist teachings, helping all living beings to cross over and help our religion to flourish.”

Wei Xiaobao shook his head and said with a forced smile, “I can’t be a head administrator of a temple, I will definitely make ridiculous mistake and will collapse in confusion.”

Hui Cong said, “It is clear from the drawing in the imperial edict that Shidi is to lead a group of our Temple’s monks to accompany you going there. Shidi may choose whoever you want. Everybody is your younger generation whom you know well, they will support you with all their hearts, absolutely no one will let you be careless. Shidi may set your heart at ease.”

Wei Xiaobao was staring blankly for half a day before it suddenly dawned on him: the young emperor had meticulously planned everything. When he was sent to Shaolin Temple to be a monk, the Emperor had already arranged today’s matter. The Emperor let him live in Shaolin Temple for about half a year, so that he could get to know the monks well, in order for him to select desirable monks to accompany him to Qingliang Temple. Since the Old Emperor had left home, certainly he did not want to have any Imperial Bodyguards to guard him; perhaps he would even leave and henceforth could not be found anymore.

Shaolin monks had outstanding martial art, plus it was Wei Xiaobao who personally led them, they would be a lot more dependable than the officers of Imperial Bodyguards. Besides, this matter was a huge secret, if the Emperor sent the officers and men of the Imperial Bodyguards to guard an old monk on Mount Wutai, it would be bound to create sensation and then the whole world would know. There must be someone in the Imperial Bodyguards who would recognize the Old Emperor. To have a Shaolin monk entering Qingliang Temple to be the head monk was actually very ordinary. The former head monk of Qingliang Temple, Cheng Guang, was one of Shaolin Temple’s Eighteen Luohan anyway.

Wei Xiaobao also thought, “If Xiao Huangdi [young emperor] sent me to be a monk at the Qingliang Temple, it would be too conspicuous, but by coming to Shaolin Temple first and then take a turn, nobody will suspect anything.” Thinking to this point, he could not help but was full of admiration to Kangxi’s planning ability.

Returning to his meditation room, he took out six thousand taels and instructed Zhang Kangnian to distribute the money to the Imperial Bodyguards. Zhang and Zhao, two people did not expect after becoming a monk Wei Xiaobao was still this generous; they were pleasantly surprised. “Since ancient times,” they praised, “There has never been any monk who gives money to the Imperial Bodyguards, except you, Wei Daren, one person. It is indeed unprecedented and will never be duplicated. There has never been a person from the ancient time, there will never be a person from the future generation.”

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “There has never been a monk from the ancient time, there will never be a monk from the future generation.”

Zhang Kangnian lowered his voice and said, “Wei Daren, we do not dare to ask what business His Majesty is sending you to attend to, but whatever it is, please do not hesitate to give your orders. Handling matters for you is the same as handling matters for His Majesty; all of us will strive to do our best all the same.”

Zhao Qixian said, “If Wei Daren needs to do something but for the time being is not convenient to do, perhaps we can strive a little and make insignificant contribution. For instance … for instance, if Wei Daren needs to fetch a martial art manual from Shaolin Temple, we can set the monastery on fire, so that in the confusion, Wei Daren may seize the opportunity to make your move.”

Zhang Kangnian cackled, and then said in a low voice, “That’s right, this is called ‘fishing in troubled water’.”

Wei Xiaobao was startled, but understood immediately, “Right, they must be thinking that there must be a reason the Emperor sent me to Shaolin Temple to be a monk. Plus this time they came here to deliver a secret order without knowing what’s written inside. They knew the Emperor is fond of martial art; he sent me to be a monk in Shaolin Temple, naturally it is to steal a treasured martial art manual from the Temple.” He chuckled, and then also said in a low voice, “Gentlemen, don’t worry! This … I have already succeeded.”

Zhang and Zhao, two people were delighted, they bowed and paid their respect together, saying, “His Majesty’s flood of good fortune fills the heavens, Wei Daren is astute, capable and experienced. Congratulations for setting up this great merit.”

Zhao Qixian said, “Do you want us to smuggle it out for you? If the monks get suspicious, they might search Wei Daren’s clothes.”

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “That’s not necessary. Go back to His Majesty, report to him that his servant Wei Xiaobao has solemnly received the imperial edict, and will remember the drawings firmly in my heart. I will handle this matter diligently; His Majesty may set his heart at ease.”

“Yes,” the two people replied. Zhao Qixian thought for a moment, he understood, “Turns out this martial art manual is a diagram. Wei Daren looked at it and remembers the drawings firmly in your heart,” he said.

Zhang Kangnian also saw the truth, “That’s even better,” he said, “If the treasured manual was stolen, the monks of Temple would naturally find out, in the end … in the end the outcome would be worse. By memorizing it, the deities will not know, the ghosts will not realize. Fortunately by nature Wei Daren is extremely intelligent; if you are blunt like me, you won’t remember anything.”

Realizing that these two misunderstood the drawings he was talking about as Shaolin Temple’s martial art diagram, Wei Xiaobao was secretly amused. “Zhang Xiong need not be too modest,” he said, “By staying in the Temple and looking at it slowly, one or two days may be inadequate, but after several months I can finally remember everything.”

The two of them expressed their agreement together; they both thought that after living in the Temple for more than half a year, you must have memorized not a few of Shaolin Pai’s martial art manuals.

They took their leave. Wei Xiaobao remembered something; he asked, “The group of men you met outside the mountain gate just now, do you happen to know their background?”

“We don’t,” Zhang and Zhao replied.

“Quickly go and investigate for me,” Wei Xiaobao said, “That group of people came to Shaolin Temple sneakily, evidently they also want to steal treasured martial art manuals from the Temple. That troop commander in particular, I wonder whom he is working for. He is acting as an imperially appointed official, yet has the audacity to spoil His Majesty’s important matter; it is indeed treason and heresy, he wants to rebel intentionally. Go and investigate what kind of person is the man behind this, you will render an enormous service.”

“That’s easy,” the two of them delightedly said, “They have not gone down the mountain too long, we will definitely able to catch up with them. That troop commander has a name and a surname, we will find out as soon as we investigate.”

Wei Xiaobao knew perfectly well that that Commander Ma was Wu Sangui’s subordinate, yet deliberately entrap him, pretending that he did not know his background, letting the Imperial Bodyguards to investigate and report to the Emperor so that they may take the credit. It would be a lot better compared to if he brought the false charge himself.

Wei Xiaobao added, “With this group of people, there is a young woman disguised herself as a man. They are looking for another young girl, sixteen, seventeen years old, with beautiful face. These two girls are heavily involved in this big rebellion conspiracy. You try to verify in detail these two girls’ names and family background. After finding out, report to me in a sealed envelope.”

By saying those things, naturally he was trying to use official authority for private interests. He was sending the Emperor’s personal bodyguards to trace his own sweetheart. They were seeking after monetary reward, they would undoubtedly make every effort to handle this matter. When the Imperial Bodyguards wanted to investigate a case, the government officials all over the world would follow their orders by sending their people to investigate. With this kind of ‘pass like thunder and move like the wind’ investigation, how can there be any information they would not be able to find?

Zhang and Zhao, two people patted their chests, guaranteeing that they would investigate until the truth comes to light. They promised to repay Wei Daren’s graciousness, his kindness in recognizing their worth and employing them, his concern for their country, and for the generous reward he bestowed to them.

[1] Orig. ‘Wei Menyao Shi’, shi – maiden name. Menyao –shaking/rocking the gate.

[2] From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flower_sermon. Mahakasyapa actually means ‘Great Kasyapa’.

[3] Toutuo is Buddhist monk who did not shave his head.

[4] Reminder: the main hall of a Buddhist temple containing the main image of veneration.

[5] Reminder: fashi is one who has mastered the sutras.

[6] Reminder: daren [lit. big man] is a title of respect toward government official.

[7] Transliteration of Sanskrit term, Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi – “Obtaining no greater passing over, all pervading perfect awakening” (Courtesy of Ace High).

[8] Referring to the Three Precious Treasures of Buddhism: the Buddha himself, his teaching (Dharma) and his monastic order (Sangha).

[9] Jin Gang – Buddha’s warrior attendant or diamond (or hard metal), hu ti – protect the body, shen gong – divine ability.

[10] In Chinese, the literal translation of the word ‘brothel’ is actually ‘prostitute courtyard’, the exact same word of the other ‘courtyards’. Actually, it can also mean ‘institution’.

[11] From Sanskrit word: paramita, in Buddhism, means to cross over to the other shore. Paramita may also be translated as perfection, perfect realization, or reaching beyond limitation.
According to Mahayana Buddhism, there are six Paramitas:
1. Dana Paramita, the perfection of generosity (布施波羅蜜)
2. Sila Paramita, the perfection of ethics (持戒波羅蜜)
3. Kshanti Paramita, the perfection of patience (忍辱波羅蜜)
4. Virya Paramita, the perfection of joyous effort, vigor / enthusiastic perseverance (精進波羅蜜)
5. Dhyana Paramita, the perfection of concentration (禪定波羅蜜)
6. Prajna Paramita, the perfection of wisdom (智慧波羅蜜)
(Courtesy of Gubrak)

[12] During the Qing Dynasty, the system of nine pǐn-ranks (九品中正制/九品官人法) was used. Some of the pǐn-ranks were further divided into zhèng (正; regular), cóng (從; deputy), shàng (上; upper) and xià (下; lower) grades. Therefore in theory, the whole classification system actually holds more than eighteen grades (等; děng). In reality the subdivisions were customized in specific central and local departments; for instance, one department can consist of twelve ranks whereas another composed of sixteen.
1a
1b ProvincinalCommander (提督), Commander-in-Chief (都统)
2a Regional Commander (总兵), Vice Commander-in-Chief (副都统)
2b Regional Vice-Commander (副将)
3a Administrator (参将), First Grade Bodyguards (一等侍卫) or Bodyguards Supervisors (侍卫领班)
3b Brigade Commander (游击)
4a Vice Brigade Commander (都司), Second Grade Bodyguards (二等侍卫)
5a Commandant (守备)
6a Company Commander (千总)
7a Squad Leader (把总)
8a Detached Fiscal Commissioner

There are some confusion on a Commander’s (都统) pin-rank which I can’t elaborate without giving a lot of spoiler. (Courtesy of Ace High)

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