Use the translation feature to translate novels into different languages

The Deer and the Cauldron Chapter 36

Chapter 36
Predator birds over ten-thousand li of barbarian flower’s sky, the beginning of the edge of the clouds over thousand winding snowy roads.

The two of them ate some dried venison, and then slept on the beach; by the time the second watch of the night [between 9-11pm] arrived, they quietly moved toward the fortified city. It was quiet all around, that night the moonlight was bright. They noticed that the fortified city was constructed from big lumber and big stones, the circumference was indeed not small; it was definitely not a one-day, one-night effort. Wei Xiaobao thought, “This fortified city was built sometimes ago, so nobody peeked at my map and informed Luocha people to come over here and build the city.”

He saw his own shadow as well as Shuang’er’s on the ground, and could not help but was afraid, thinking that if there were Luocha soldiers guarding on the wall, with several shots, Wei Xiaobao would turn into Wei Sibao [xiao bao – little treasure, si bao – dead treasure]. Thereupon he pulled Shuang’er and crouched on the ground, trying to see if anything was astir. He saw on the southeast corner of the fortified city there was a small log cabin, with light coming out from the window; apparently it was where the guards lived. Wei Xiaobao whispered on Shuang’er’s ear, “Let’s go over there to take a look.” The two of them slowly crawled toward the log cabin.

Just as they were outside the window, suddenly they heard a woman’s laughter from the inside, the laughter sounded so lascivious. Wei Xiaobao and Shuang’er looked at each other; they both felt strange, “How could there be a woman?”

Wei Xiaobao peeked through a small crack on the window. But the weather was cold and the wind strong, all the cracks on the window were tightly sealed; he could not see anything. Yet the voice from the inside continued, one man one woman, they were talking and laughing gibberish that Wei Xiaobao did not understand at all. He knew that this pair of Luocha man and woman was not doing any good deed; his heart was moved. Reaching out, he embraced Shuang’er in his bosom. Shuang’er heard the voices from the inside, she seemed to understand, but not quite understood; there was a vague feeling in her heart that it was improper. When she was held in Wei Xiaobao’s arms, for fear that they would be found by the people inside, she did not dare to make any noise.

To Wei Xiaobao, it was exactly what he wanted. His left arm hugged her even tighter, his right hand gently stroked her cheek. Shuang’er’s body went weak, she leaned on his bosom. Unexpectedly, since the ground was packed with ice, in his eagerness Wei Xiaobao forgot to mind where he stood; his foot slipped, he could not hold his stand, ‘bang!’ his head hit the window heavily. “Aiyo!” he could not help but letting out a cry.

The voices inside stopped; a moment later a man’s voice shouted a question. Wei Xiaobao and Shuang’er crouched on the ground, and were momentarily at a loss of what to do. They heard a latch being pulled, the wooden door creaked open, someone with a lantern in his hand standing at the door looking outside. Wei Xiaobao sprang out lightly with his dagger going straight into the man’s chest. The man did not even grunt; his body slumped and he fell down without any noise.

Shuang’er rushed into the room, but she saw the room was absolutely empty, there was no one inside. “Uh,” she exclaimed in surprise, “Where’s that woman?”

Wei Xiaobao followed her inside. He saw a kang [heatable brick bed] inside, a wooden table, and a wooden trunk; the room was illuminated by a bear fat candle on the table, but the woman had actually disappeared without a trace. “Search her quick, don’t let her go announcing our presence.” He noticed that other than the front door, this house did not have any other exits.

He dragged the dead body inside and closed the door. He saw the dead man was a foreign soldier, the lower part of his body was naked, he did not were any pants. Wei Xiaobao looked up to examine the beam, but did not see anything out of ordinary, “She must still be here,” he said. He rushed to the trunk’s side, opened the trunk lid, and quickly stepped aside to guard against the Luocha woman opened fire.

After a moment without seeing anything astir, Shuang’er said, “She is not inside the trunk. This is really strange.”

Wei Xiaobao went near the trunk to examine it, and saw the trunk was full with fur clothing. He reached in and scooped some, but underneath it was also fur clothing. Suddenly he sniffed a strong fragrant; obviously it was the smell of women’s cosmetics. “Something can’t be trusted in here,” he said. He grabbed the fur clothing and tossed them all to the ground. To his surprise, there was a hole at base of the trunk. “In here!” he cried out in delight.

Shuang’er said, “Turns out there is a tunnel in here.”

Wei Xiaobao said, “Quickly intercept that Luocha woman. If she talked, a large group of foreign robbers will swarm over, we will be in a terrible mess.” Hurriedly he took off the leather clothing that he bundled up on his body, pulled his dagger, and crawled into the hole. He was very afraid of foreign troops, but he did not take foreign women to heart.

The tunnel was inclining downward, and he could only crawl, but he was slim and agile, he was able to crawl fast and nimble in the tunnel. After crawling for more than ten zhang, he heard voices ahead. He increased the strength in his hands and feet, and crawled even faster. The voice ahead was getting closer. He reached out with his left hand and grabbed as hard as he could, and touched a smooth and soft calf. The woman cried out in low voice, and frantically fled forward. Wei Xiaobao was greatly delighted; he thought, “If I kill you with one stab, I am not a hero or warrior. Good man does not fight with women, Chinese men do not fight with Luocha demon granny[1]. Foreign male demons I have seen a lot, but what foreign female demons look like, I must take a good look.”

He re-inserted the dagger into its sheath, and charged more than a zhang forward. With both hands he grabbed the woman’s calf. Inside the tunnel, the woman was unable to turn around; she crawled forward desperately. The woman’s strength was indeed not small, unexpectedly Wei Xiaobao was unable to pull her back, instead, he was pulled forward about a zhang or so. Wei Xiaobao spread his legs toward the tunnel wall to brace himself, only then did he manage to hold himself and not dragged forward by the woman.

The woman struggled hard, Wei Xiaobao’s hands slipped; unexpectedly the woman was able to free herself. She quickly crawled forward. Wei Xiaobao threw himself to her and grabbed her waist. Suddenly he felt his head was free; they had actually reached the part of the tunnel, which was fairly spacious. The woman let out a couple of soft laughter; she turned around and kissed him. But since it was dark, she kissed his nose instead.

A burst of strong fragrant assaulted Wei Xiaobao’s nostrils, the body of the woman in his bosom was smooth and slippery; to his surprise, she did not wear even one thread. He felt the woman reached back and embraced him; his mind was blurry. He heard Shuang’er asked in a low voice, “Xianggong, what is it?”

Wei Xiaobao hummed and hawed; he was just about to reply when the woman in his bosom suddenly kissed his mouth. Immediately he was unable to speak. Suddenly he heard a voice above his head saying, “We found out that Zongdu [governor-general] has arrived at Yakesa[2], therefore, we rushed over to meet him.”

As soon as these words entered Wei Xiaobao’s ears, it was as if a bucket of iced water was drenched over his head. The speaker was unexpectedly the Divine Dragon Cult’s Cult Leader Hong. How could Hong Jiaozhu be over his head? And the Luocha woman in his bosom, how could she be so flirtatious and intimate? The number of unusual things he had seen in his life was indeed not small, but what he came into tonight in this tunnel was totally new and unthinkable. The woman in his bosom was like a warm, fragrant soft jade; the Hong Jiaozhu in his mind wanted to pull his tendon and peel his skin. In his terror, hastily he pushed away to woman in his bosom, he wanted to turn around and flee; who would have thought that the woman embraced him tightly, and did not want to let him go.

Wei Xiaobao was greatly anxious; he said in her ear, “Jiligulu, xilihuala, hulihutu.” He only hoped that she would understand this made-up Luocha language. The woman let out soft laughter, twice, and said a few words in his ear; presumably she was speaking genuine Luocha language. And then she reached out to his cheek and twisted it hard.

Right this moment, a man overhead was speaking a string of gibberish foreign words. When he finished, another man said, “Zongdu Daren said, Jiaozhu of Shen Long Jiao have honored us with your presence; he wishes to welcome you very much, yet did not come to greet you, it was very lacking in manners, hence he begs for Jiaozhu’s forgiveness. Zongdu Daren wishes Hong Jiaozhuon a long life of a hundred years, great good fortune and great longevity, that everything will be according to your wishes, and wishes to be good friends with Hong Jiaozhu, to work with a common purpose, attempting the important matter together.”

Wei Xiaobao mused, “This interpreter[3] is uneducated; he changed the ‘enjoy immortal good fortune forever, long life the same as the heaven’s’ into ‘long life of a hundred years, great good fortune and great longevity’.”

He heard Hong Jiaozhu responded, “Biren [humble one, referring to self] wishes Luocha Country Emperor ten thousand years of boundless longevity, wishes Zongdu Daren good fortune, long life, health and peace, and to rise in promotion soon. Biren will do my utmost wholeheartedly, to work with Luocha Country on a common goal, attempting the important matter together. From now on blessing will be enjoyed together, difficulty will be faced together, both sides will not renege on this oath forever.” The interpreter spoke for a moment, the Luocha Country governor-general responded with some continuous gibberish.

Wei Xiaobao asked the woman in a low voice, “Who are you? Why aren’t you wearing any clothes?”

The woman laughed in a low voice and said, “Who are you? Why are you wearing some clothes?” While saying that, she reached out to untie Wei Xiaobao’s undergarment.

In this kind of situation, how could Wei Xiaobao have the mood to do this kind of loose, merry-making shady business? He had heard Tang Ruowang and Nan Huairen spoke Chinese; now he heard this Luocha woman spoke Chinese, he was not surprised. “It is very dangerous in here,” he busily said, “Let us get out quickly.”

The woman said in a low voice, “Don’t move! Don’t move! You move, they hear.” Although she spoke Chinese, the tone was very stiff, it sounded very awkward. Thereupon Wei Xiaobao stayed still, he did not dare to make the slightest move.

He heard Cult Leader Hong and the Luocha Country governor-general discussing how as soon as Wu Sangui deployed his troops from Yunnan, Divine Dragon Cult and Luocha Country would attack Manchurian Qing from two sides. They laid out the plan, and sure enough, it was identical to the one explained by the Mongolian big beard Hantiemo. As the discussion progressed, Cult Leader Hong offered an idea, saying that if Luocha Country attacked from Liaodong, not only the distance was great, the route was tightly guarded by Qing troops. It would be better to take the sea route and land in Tianjian, and then go straight to Beijing with firearms and cannon; that way they might take over Beijing earlier compared to Wu Sangui. The governor-general was greatly delighted; he repeatedly praised it as wonderful plan, he said that Cult Leader Hong was so loyal that in the future he would definitely take control of several provinces of China, and would be established as ‘king’. Cult Leader Hong did not stop expressing his thanks.

Wei Xiaobao was startled and angry at the same time; he thought, “This fellow Hong Jiaozhu is also a big traitor to China, not the least bit different than Wu Sangui. His plan is very vicious, I must report to the young Emperor and have him install a lot of cannon at the Tianjin seaport. When the Luocha Country warships come to attack, ‘bang, bang, bang, bang’ we’ll blast those damn ships.”

He heard Hong Jiaozhu said, “Zongdu Daren has come from afar to China, we do not have anything good as a present to you; hereby we present a hundred Dadong [district, Liaoning] pearls, a hundred sheets of mink fur, and a hundred catties of ginseng to Zongdu Daren. Outside we also have tribute to be presented to Luocha Country Emperor.”

Listening to this point, Wei Xiaobao thought, “Unexpectedly this old dog has prepared these many gifts; indeed his magical power is extensive.”

Suddenly he felt his face was warm, the woman put her cheek against his, and then he felt she reached out to grope about his body. Wei Xiaobao said in a low voice, “You grope me, I won’t be polite to you.” He also reached out to grope around her breasts. The woman suddenly let out a squeal, and broke into laughter.

This laughter was not soft, Hong Jiaozhu immediately heard it, but he thought that the governor-general hid a woman in his room, it was nothing out of ordinary; thereupon he pretended not to hear. After exchanging some pleasantries, he said that they would discuss everything in more details the next day, and then he took his leave.

Wei Xiaobao suddenly heard a racket above his head, followed by a dazzling light. Turned out he and the woman in his bosom were inside a large wooden trunk, and the trunk’s lid had just been opened by someone.

The woman giggled tenderly, and then jumped out of the trunk. She took a robe to cover her own body, and then said to Wei Xiaobao with a laugh, “Come out, come out!”

Wei Xiaobao slowly stepped out of the trunk. He saw a tall and powerfully built foreign military officer standing by the trunk with his hand pressed on the hilt of a saber hanging on his waist. The woman laughed and said, “There is one more!”

Shuang’er originally wanted to hide inside the trunk, if Wei Xiaobao got into trouble, she would think of a way to rescue him, but since the woman had already called out, she had no choice but to jump out of the trunk as well.

Wei Xiaobao saw the woman’s hair was yellow like gold, draped over her shoulder; her pair of dark green eyes looked very lively. Her skin was snow white, her appearance was very beautiful, it’s just that her nose was a bit too high, and she was also half a head taller than he was. Wei Xiaobao had never seen a foreign woman before, he could not guess how old she was, but he presumed she must be around twenty.

The woman was looking at Wei Xiaobao with a grin on her face, she said, “You, little child, groped me, scoundrel, hee hee …”

The governor-general’s face looked calm and collected; he mumbled something in foreign language. The woman also mumbled something in reply. The governor-general’s manner was very respectful, he bowed several times. The woman spoke several sentences, she pointed to Wei Xiaobao. The governor-general opened the door and summoned the Chinese interpreter back into the room. All the time the man and the woman did not stop talking to each other.

Wei Xiaobao noticed the room was furnished with quite a bit of fur, there were quite a few glittering female clothing spread on the couch. Looking at half-exposed woman’s snow white, silky breasts, her sparkling and translucent calves and skin, he thought, “I had this woman in my bosom just now, why did I only grope her carelessly and simply let it pass like that? I got a very good pair of cards in my hand, but forgot to make a kill. That Hong Jiaozhu has frightened me silly.”

He heard the interpreter said, “The Princess and Zongdu Daren ask: who are you?”

Wei Xiaobao was surprised. “She is the Princess?” he asked.

The interpreter replied, “This is the Luocha Country Emperor’s imperial elder sister, Her Highness Princess Sophia. This is His Excellency Governor General Galitzine. Quickly kneel down to pay your respect.”

Wei Xiaobao mused, “Her Highness the Princess, how could she be so wild?” But he immediately recalled Kangxi’s imperial younger sister Princess Jianning was also very wild, in fact, in term of wildness, she was not inferior to this Luocha Country Princess. All the emperors’ imperial older sister or younger sister must be beautiful and wild, so this princess must be a genuine article. Thereupon with a giggle he bowed to pay his respect, saying, “Your Highness the Princess, how are you? You are extremely beautiful, you look like a celestial fairy descending into the world. In our China, there has never been any woman as beautiful as you.”

Sophia knew several most shallow Chinese words; hearing Wei Xiaobao, she knew he was praising her beauty; immediately she beamed up and said, “Little child, very good, must reward.” She went over to the desk, pulled a drawer, took a dozen or more gold coins, and put the coins in Wei Xiaobao’s hand.

“Thank you very much,” Wei Xiaobao said. He held out his hand to receive the coins. Under the candlelight, he saw the Princess’ five fingers were indeed like green jade; he could not stop himself from reaching out to grab her hand, and brought it to his mouth and kissed it.

The interpreter was greatly alarmed; “Don’t be rude!” he shouted. He did not know that the ritual of kissing one’s hand was actually in general use in western foreign country, it was an expression of utmost respect to the ladies of nobility. Wei Xiaobao was acting without thinking, unexpectedly he did the right thing. Only he should have kissed the back of the lady’s hand, but he was grabbing Princess Sophia’s palm and sucked her fingers randomly, hence it appeared rather awkward. Sophia giggled tenderly, but surprisingly she did not pull her hand away.

“Little child,” Sophia asked with a laugh, “What you do?”

Wei Xiaobao replied, “Little child, go hunting.”

Suddenly from outside the door a loud and clear voice said, “This little child is a high-ranking minister under China’s Emperor, don’t be deceived by him.” It was precisely Hong Jiaozhu’s voice.

Wei Xiaobao was so scared that his soul had flown to the outer space; pulling Shuang’er’s sleeve, he wanted to dash out of the door. But as soon as he pushed the door open, he saw Hong Jiaozhu was blocking his exit with arms spread open. Shuang’er leaped forward with a direct punch. Hong Jiaozhu parried with his left hand, while his right hand finger went toward Shuang’er’s waist. Shuang’er groaned and fell to the ground.

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Hong Jiaozhu, you, Senior, enjoy immortal good fortune forever, your long life the same as the heaven’s. Where is Madame? Has she also come?”

Hong Jiaozhu did not reply, his left hand grabbed the back of Wei Xiaobao’s neck, and he brought Wei Xiaobao back inside. “Reporting to Your Highness the Princess and Zongdu Daren,” he said, “This person is called Wei Xiaobao, he is a high-ranking minister most trusted by the Chinese Emperor, he is the Fu Zongguan [deputy chief] of the Emperor’s Imperial Bodyguards, personal guards’ Dutong [commander], Imperial Envoy Minister, and was conferred the title First Class Viscount.”

The interpreter translated these words. Princess Sophia and the governor-general showed incredulous expression. Sophia laughed and said, “Little child, no high-ranking minister. Minister, fake.”

Hong Jiaozhu said, “Biren has the proof.” Turning his head around, he said, “Bring this kid’s clothes over.”

Wei Xiaobao saw Lu Gaoxuan entered in, carrying a bundle wrapped in cloth. When he opened it, surprisingly it was Wei Xiaobao’s original hat, clothing and personal adornment. Wei Xiaobao was greatly amazed, “How could these clothes end up in his hands? Hong Jiaozhu’s magical power is indeed extensive.”

Hong Jiaozhu ordered Lu Gaoxuan, “Put the clothes on him.” Lu Gaoxuan complied. He shook off the clothes and put them onto Wei Xiaobao.

These clothes, along with the yellow magua, were torn apart by the thistles and thorns of the forest, but put on Wei Xiaobao’s body, obviously it was extremely well-fitting. The hat, with the peacock feather on it, obviously belonged to a high-ranking minister of the Qing court. If these clothes did not belong to Wei Xiaobao, it would be very difficult to find such a high-ranking official uniform in such a small size on the earth.

Wei Xiaobao giggled and said, “Hong Jiaozhu, your ability is indeed not small; I threw those clothes along the way, but you picked them all up from the roadside along the way.”

Hong Jiaozhu ordered Lu Gaoxuan, “Search his body, see if you can find anything.”

“No need to search me,” Wei Xiaobao said, “I’ll get everything out.” He pulled a big wad of banknotes from his pocket, the amount was staggering.

The governor-general had lived in Liaodong for a long time, he knew banknotes. Casually he flipped some, and was greatly amazed. He turned to the Princess and mumbled something, as if he was saying, “This child indeed has some background, the money he brings is really a lot.”

Hong Jiaozhu said, “This little demon is very crafty, search his body.”

Lu Gaoxuan searched Wei Xiaobao and took everything out of his pocket, including the secret order written in Kangxi’s personal hand writing, which said, ‘Imperial Envoy Minister, Deputy Commander Minister of the Internal Imperial Bodyguards, holder of concurrent office of the Commander of the Valiant Cavalry Brigade of the Manchuria Plain Yellow Banner, has been granted by the Emperor himself bravery title of Batulu, and the right to wear yellow magua, the Viscount First Class Wei Xiaobao, is ordered to go to Liaodong region on official business. The civil and military officials along the way are to wait for his instruction and render their assistance.’ The top of this imperial edict bore the imperial seal.

The interpreter read the edict in Luocha language. When Princess Sophia and Governor General Galitzine  heard it, they clucked their tongue in praise and amazement.

Hong Jiaozhu said, “Reporting to Princess: Chinese Emperor is a young child, and loves to use young children as high-ranking officials. This little child loves to play games and joke around with the Chinese Emperor, he is good at patting the horse’s buttocks, he is good at blowing the cowhide, the young Emperor likes him.”

Sophia did not understand ‘patting the horse’s buttocks’ and ‘blowing the cowhide’; after asking the interpreter, she giggled and said, “I also like people patting the horse’s buttocks and blowing the cowhide.” Wei Xiaobao was immediately delighted. But Hong Jiaozhu’s countenance turned very unsightly.

Sophia asked further, “Chinese young Emperor, how old?”

Wei Xiaobao said, “Chinese big Emperor, seventeen years old.”

Sophia laughed and said, “Luocha big Tsar, is my little brother, is also a child, twenty years old, not a tou laozi[4].”

Wei Xiaobao was startled. “What tou laozi?” he mused, “Ah, she spoke incorrectly, it must be laotouzi[5] and she said tou laozi.” Thereupon he pointed at her and said, “Luocha beautiful princess, not tou laozi, very good.” Pointing at himself, he said, “Chinese high-ranking official, not tou laozi, very good!” Pointing at Hong Jiaozhu, he said, “Chinese bad egg [scoundrel/b@stard], tou laozi, not good, not good!”

Sophia bent over with laughter. The Luocha Country governor-general was a young man of about thirty; he also laughed aloud. Hong Jiaozhu’s countenance, however, turned iron-grey, he so wished to strike Wei Xiaobao dead with one palm.

Sophia asked, “Chinese high-ranking official, come here, for what?”

Wei Xiaobao said, “Chinese Emperor heard Luocha Country’s high-ranking official is coming to Liaodong, he sent me to take a look. His Majesty knew Luocha Country Emperor is not a tou laozi, he knew Luocha Princess is a fairy descending to the world, he sent Xiaoren to present gifts, to give Princess and Zongdu Daren two hundred Dadong pearls, two hundred catties of ginseng. Unexpectedly en route we came across this big robber who took the gifts away …”

Wei Xiaobao had not finished speaking, Hong Jiaozhu was already unable to restrain his anger; raising his right palm, he chopped down at the top of Wei Xiaobao’s head. When he was inside the trunk, Wei Xiaobao had heard Hong Jiaozhu was presenting not a few precious gifts to the governor-general, thereupon he doubled the amount, and said that it was a gift from the Emperor. When his mouth was busy talking, he paid full attention on Hong Jiaozhu. As soon as he saw he raised his palm, he immediately executed the qinggong ‘Shen Xing Bai Bian’ [divine line hundred changes] taught by Jiu Nan, and slipped away behind Princess Sophia.

‘Crack, crash!’ one wooden chair was destroyed by Hong Jiaozhu’s palm strike. Galitzine was shocked; he pulled his short gun and pointed it at Hong Jiaozhu, ordering him not to move randomly.

The long speech that Wei Xiaobao had just made, Princess did not understand, she ordered the interpreter to translate. And when he finished, she laughed and said to Hong Jiaozhu, “Your gift, snatched from him, you took half, not good!”

Hong Jiaozhu anxiously said, “No, no. This kid is very good at talking nonsense, Princess must never believe him.” He saw the Luocha governor-general was pointing the gun at him, although western firearm was formidable, but based on his martial art skill, he was not afraid. However, they were in the middle of conspiring on more important matter, he needed the Luocha Country’s strong support, he must not offend the governor-general just because he could not control his anger. Thereupon he slowly withdrew toward the door without showing any sign of resistance.

Galitzine pulled back his gun and spoke several sentences. The interpreter said, “Zongdu Daren is asking Hong Jiaozhu not to be angry. He knew this little child is spouting nonsense. Princess Sophia has come to the east in secret, it’s impossible that the Chinese Emperor would find out about it. It is also improbable that the Chinese Emperor would give gifts to a Luocha Country Zongdu.”

Hong Jiaozhu’s anger subsided; he smiled and said, “Zongdu Daren is wise, you are able to see things clearly; indeed you would never fall under this kid’s deceit.”

Galitzine asked about Wei Xiaobao’s background. Hong Jiaozhu explained to him how Wei Xiaobao had killed the high-ranking minister Oboi, how he was sent to escort the imperial younger sister to Yunnan to complete the marriage, how he blew cowhide and patted the horse’s buttocks, and did many and varied crimes; he also added oil and sprinkled some soy sauce on how Kangxi favored Wei Xiaobao. Finally he said, “This kid is the young Emperor’s left and right hands, if we killed this kid, the young Emperor must be very unhappy. We are deploying troops on a great undertaking, chances are our success will come quicker.” While he was speaking, the interpreter unceasingly translated it into Luocha language.

With a grin on her face, Princess Sophia was looking at Wei Xiaobao with great interest; apparently, the more Hong Jiaozhu said that Wei Xiaobao was unpardonably wicked, the more she was delighted.

Galitzine was deep in thought for half a day before asking, “Chinese Emperor likes this little child very much?”

“That’s right,” Hong Jiaozhu replied, “Otherwise, he is this young, how could he hold a very high official position?”

“This little child must not be killed,” Galitzine said, “Send a letter to Chinese Emperor, tell him to get a large quantity of gold, silver and jewels as an exchange if he wants him back.”

Sophia was greatly delighted, she pecked a kiss on his left cheek, and then she spoke several sentences. These words were not translated by the interpreter; it may be assumed that she was praising him as being intelligent. Wei Xiaobao was secretly rejoicing, “As long as they don’t kill me, then it’s good. If they wanted the young Emperor to take gold, silver and jewels to ransom me, that will be very easy.” Hong Jiaozhu did not look happy at all, but he had no choice.

Wei Xiaobao took the wad of banknotes back and divided it into three packs. One pack he gave to Princess Sophia, the other pack he gave to Galitzine, from the third pack he took two banknotes worth a hundred taels each, and gave it to the interpreter, and then he put the rest into his own pocket.

Sophia, Galitzine and the interpreter were very happy. Sophia ordered the interpreter to count the money, she wanted to know how much in total, and then she ordered him to think of a way to send someone inside the Pass to exchange the banknotes into hard cash. Upon counting the banknotes, the total came to more than a hundred thousand taels; suddenly finding unexpected great wealth, they could not help but were ecstatic. She hugged Wei Xiaobao, and repeated kissed his cheeks left and right; she said, “The money is enough, let the child go back!”

Wei Xiaobao thought that if he was let go this time, Hong Jiaozhu would definitely pull his tendon and peel his skin; thereupon he hastily said, “Such a beautiful princess, I have never seen one. I want to see you for several more days.”

Sophia giggled tenderly; she said, “We, tomorrow, return to Moscow.”

Wei Xiaobao had no idea what kind of place was this ‘Moscow’, he said, “Beautiful Princess, go to Moscow, little child high-ranking official, also go to Moscow. Beautiful Princess, go to the moon in the sky, little child high-ranking official, also go to the moon in the sky.”

Seeing his wit, Sophia was very fascinated; she nodded and said, “Very well, I take you to Moscow.”

Galitzine knitted his brows slightly; he was about to prevent her, but then he smiled and nodded. “Very good,” he said, “We will take you to Moscow.” And then he waved his hand toward Hong Jiaozhu.

Hong Jiaozhu did not have any choice but to take his leave. As he walked out the door, he glowered at Wei Xiaobao. Wei Xiaobao stuck out his tongue to him and made faces; he said, “Hong Jiaozhu enjoys immortal good fortune forever, your long life the same as the heaven’s.” Hong Jiaozhu was extremely angry; he led Lu Gaoxuan and the others leave without saying anything.

Luocha Country Emperor was called the Tsar, that year he was twenty years old, his name was Fyodor the Third[6]. Sophia was his older sister. This Fyodor III was born with disability, he was unable to move freely; day-to-day he handled the national affair from his bed.

Luocha’s social custom was greatly different from China’s propriety, the relationship between men and women was always casual. Sophia’s natural disposition was unrestrained, plus she was beautiful; considerable number of princes and dukes, and high-ranking military officers were her lovers. Governor-general Galitzine was handsome and elegant, he was the Princess’ favorite. He was sent to the East, to two fortified cities Nerchinsk and Yakesa, to attempt to enter and scout China’s Mongolia and Liaodong. The city of Yakesa happened to be the place where the Manchurian Eight Banners’ treasure was hidden. This place was the major crossroad where two great rivers converged; unexpectedly as if by prior agreement Manchu people and Luocha people picked this very same place.

By nature the Princess was very active and always wanted to have a good time, hearing that the East was mysterious and strange, plus she missed her lover, she went so far as to come after him, traveling tens of thousands li from Moscow to this remote place. Although Sophia liked Galitzine, she would never dream of being faithful and single-minded. That day she discovered the tunnel inside Galitzine’s room, her interest was piqued, hence she went down to investigate. The tunnel went outside of Yakesa city, it was connected to the sentry post cabin; originally it was prepared by the governor-general as an escape route for fear that there was a rebellion in the city. When Sophia saw that guard, she spoke to him and teased him, and then fooled around with him.

At this time hearing that Wei Xiaobao wanted to go to Moscow with her, she thought that it was a fascinating idea, hence she decided to take him and Shuang’er along. Sophia had a team of two hundred Cossack soldiers as her escort; sometimes they rode horses, sometimes they sat on sleds, journeying westward every day on the boundless great snowy plain.

After traveling for more than twenty days, they had left Yakesa city very far behind, Hong Jiaozhu could not possibly catch up with them anymore. When Wei Xiaobao asked, to his surprise he learned that Moscow was still more than four months away; he could not help but was shocked. “Isn’t that at the ends of the earth?” he asked, “Traveling for four more months, Chinese little child will turn into foreign tou laozi.”

“Do you want to go back to Beijing?” Sophia asked, “Are you tired of looking at me?”

“Looking at beautiful princess for a thousand years, ten thousand years, I will never tire,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “But I am scared of a journey this far.”

During the last twenty days or so, Sophia had been chatting with Wei Xiaobao to relieve boredom; she learned quite a bit of Chinese words. Wei Xiaobao was intelligent and sharp, he also learned not a few of Luocha words. The two of them on a lonely journey, one was originally not a chaste woman, the other was not a gentleman at all; one already failed to keep herself pure, the other was unwilling to sit quietly without letting his mind wandered randomly. Inevitably they were ‘tying some misty water marriage affinity’ with each other. [This is literal translation, I am sure the reader would understand what it means.]

Now that Sophia heard that he wanted to return to Beijing, she could not help but feeling somewhat reluctant to part with him. “I won’t allow you to go,” she said, “You escort me to Moscow, accompany me for a year, then I let you go back.”

Wei Xiaobao groaned inwardly. After being together with her for the last several days, he knew that the Princess was resolute; if he did not follow her wish and decided to simply leave, most likely she would send the Cossack soldiers to kill him. Thereupon with smile across his face, he repeatedly said that he was utterly delighted.

That evening, he quietly discussed with Shuang’er whether they might have an opportunity to escape. Shuang’er said, “Whatever Xianggong thinks is the best, I will follow your instruction.”

Wei Xiaobao turned his gaze toward the boundless snowy plain, and heaved a deep sigh. He shook his head, knowing that if the two of them run away without enough provision, even if Sophia did not send anybody to pursue them, they would definitely freeze or starve to death in this great snowy plain. Previously, in the forest and snowy plain of Liaodong, although it was desolate and frigid, they could still go hunting and look for food. This time, even small birds were barely seen; sometimes they travelled for a whole day without seeing a single track of animal footprints, let alone spotted any deer. Without any other choice, they had to follow Sophia to the west.

At first Wei Xiaobao was worried about the young Emperor, whether Wu Sangui had started the rebellion, whether that beautiful little girl Ah Ke was in Kunming or not; he also wondered where Hong Jiaozhu and Fang Yi had gone. But after traveling on the great snowy field for more than a month, even these thoughts had gradually faded away. In this world of ice and snow, it seemed like his brain had also frozen into ice. Luckily his natural disposition was cheerful and carefree without any worries; sometimes he spent time with Sophia telling nondescript Luocha jokes, sometimes he told Shuang’er some crazy tale that he invented himself, this way he did not feel too lonely.

One day they finally reached the outskirt of Moscow. By that time it was already the fourth month, the weather was getting warmer, ice and snow had already melted. He noticed that although Moscow city wall was solid, thick and gigantic, the construction was very crude. Looking far toward the city, he saw that the buildings inside were also filthy, simple and crude. Forget about comparing it to Beijing, Yangzhou or other big cities, even compared to Central Earth’s small and medium-sized towns, it was still far inferior. Only several big cathedrals with domes and spires looked magnificent.

As soon as Wei Xiaobao saw all these, he held Luocha Country in contempt, “Dog-fart Luocha Country, what’s so great about it? In our China, this kind of place is only fit to raise cattle and raise pigs. Yet along the way this Princess has always been tooting her horn about the bustling city of Moscow.”

When they were still several dozen of li from Moscow, the Princess’ guards had already galloped into the city to report. They heard the bugle, from the city a squad of soldiers carrying firearms came out on their horses. By nature Luocha people loved to invade and occupy, and annex their neighboring countries, as a result, their territory was vast, from east to west the distance was several tens of thousands li. The people were mixed. The nation’s elite troops were Cossack cavalry; they charged to the east and fought to the west, besieging towns and seizing lands, subduing people of various races. The other one was firearm battalion, a brigade of sharp-shooters; they were the Tsar’s personal guards who surround and protect the national capital.

When these gunmen[7] galloped near, Sophia was shocked because she saw black feathers on the numerous officer and soldiers’ hats and black cloth hanging from their guns. It was the sign of national mourning. Hastily she galloped her horse forward and asked loudly, “What happened?”

The firearm brigade captain dismounted and stepped forward; he bowed and said, “Reporting to Princess: His Majesty has suffered the misfortune of being summoned by God, and has left the country and its people to go to the Paradise.”

Sophia was deeply grieved; with tears in her eyes she asked, “When was that?”

The captain said, “If Princess were to arrive four days earlier, you would be able to bid farewell to His Majesty.”

Although Sophia was aware that her Tsar brother was weak and she knew that he would not live long, but suddenly receiving this terrible news, she was still unbearably grieved; she bent down on the saddle and cried bitterly.

Seeing the Princess suddenly cried, Wei Xiaobao asked the interpreter, and learned that the Luocha Country Emperor had passed away. He was inwardly delighted, “Luocha Country Emperor did not enjoy immortal good fortune, the country must be chaotic for a period of time; it won’t be easy for them to dispatch troops to attack China.”

Sophia and her retinue followed the captain entering the city; she wanted to go straight to the Palace. The captain said, “Empress Dowager instructed me to ask the Princess to rest in the Hunting Palace outside the city.”

Sophia was both startled and angry. “What Empress Dowager?” she shouted, “Which Empress Dowager wants to deal with me?”

The captain waved his left hand, the gunmen raised their firearms and took aim at the guards escorting the Princess, telling them to surrender their swords and spears and ordering the guards to dismount.

The Princess angrily said, “You want to rebel?”

The captain said, “Empress Dowager is afraid that when Princess is back, you won’t obey the new Emperor’s imperial decree, thus she ordered Xiao Jiang [lowly general] to protect Princess.”

Sophia’s face was bulging red. “New Emperor?” she said angrily, “Who is the new Emperor?”

The captain replied, “New Emperor is His Majesty Pyotr the First.”

Sophia tossed her head backward and laughed aloud. “Pyotr?” she said, “Pyotr is a ten-year old little child, what kind of Tsar can he be? You said about Empress Dowager, are you talking about Natalya?”

“Precisely,” the captain replied.

Sophia’s father, Tsar Aleksey Mikhailovich married two empresses. The first empress gave birth to many sons and daughter, the former Emperor Fyodor the Third and Princess Sophia were her offspring, she had another little child names Ivan. The second empress Natalya was a lot younger, she only gave birth to one child, which was Pyotr.

Sophia said, “Take me to the Palace, let me see Natalya to reason with her. My younger brother Ivan is older than Pyotr, why not set him up to be the Tsar? What about the cabinet ministers in the imperial court? Don’t anybody talk reason anymore?”

The captain said, “Xiao Jiang only follow Empress Dowager and Tsar’s order, Princess please don’t take any offense.” Finished speaking, he took the bridle of Sophia’s horse and led it eastwards.

Sophia was seething in anger; in all her life, who dared to be this rude to her? Raising her horsewhip, she lashed it out on the captain’s head. The captain simply smiled and moved sideways to evade. He jumped onto his own horse, and then led his troops to surround the Princess, along with Wei Xiaobao and Shuang’er, and took them to the Hunting Palace outside the city. The firearm brigade then set up a perimeter guard to prevent anybody from going out.

Sophia was crazy with rage; she trashed the furniture and whatever she could find in the bedroom. The Hunting Palace chef had already prepared food and beverage for her, it was also thrown onto the chef’s face.

After several days like this, they saw the guarding outside the Hunting Palace was not the least bit relaxed. Sophia summoned the captain, she asked how long they would shut her off in this Palace. The captain said, “Empress Dowager’s order: Princess is to rest in here until His Majesty Pyotr the First celebrate his fiftieth year of ascending the throne. By that time Princess is going to be released to participate in the celebration.”

Sophia was furious, “What did you say?” she asked, “Pyotr celebrates his fiftieth anniversary of ascension, won’t that mean I will be confined here for fifty years?”

The captain smiled and said, “Xiao Jiang will turn forty this year, I believe I won’t be able to serve the Princess for fifty years. In ten or fifteen years, there will be a younger captain who is going to take my place.”

Thinking that she would be confined in this place for fifty years, Sophia shivered all over although it was not cold. Forcing a laugh, she said, “Come here Captain, I think you are exceptionally handsome.” She was thinking of enticing him by her beauty, let the captain grovel under her flowing skirt, and then in his confused state of mind he would let her go.

The captain bowed deeply and took a step back instead. He said, “Princess please forgive me. Empress Dowager has issued an imperial decree: all the officers and men of the firearm brigade, whoever touches just one of Princess’ fingers will be beheaded immediately. If the captain is killed, deputy captain will rise to take his place; if the deputy captain is killed, the first squad’s platoon leader will rise to take his place. Everybody wants to get promoted, they are watching everybody else very closely.” Turned out the Empress Dowager had known for some time that the good-looking Sophia was a loose woman; if she did not issue this stipulation, perhaps they would not be able to lock her up.

After the captain withdrew, Sophia had no strategy left to try, she could only crouch on the bed and cry, while continuously hurling curses to Empress Dowager.

After being locked up in the Hunting Palace for many days, Wei Xiaobao saw that the Princess was throwing a temper tantrum every day, the musketeers who were guarding them were also very rude and cruel; he thought that it was only natural that a demon place like this would have demonic air. He talked it over with Shuang’er several times, they both felt that to escape from this Hunting was achievable; however, if they wanted to return to the Central Earth, it would be more difficult than difficult. If they had no one to guide them, they could be lost in the great prairie. Forget about riding on a carriage or on horseback for four to five month to reach Beijing, they would be confused and disoriented only after four or five days of travel, and would not know east from west or south from north. The two of them were at their wit’s end. With nothing better to do, Wei Xiaobao spouted nonsense endlessly just to win Shuang’er’s laughter and to ease the load in their minds.

One particular day he was telling the story of Tang Xuanzang leading Sun Wukong, Sha Wujing and Zhu Bajie to the Western Paradise to fetch the Sutra. Wei Xiaobao said, “I’ll wager that the Western Paradise that Tang Xuanzang visited was not as far as Moscow. Therefore, I am more formidable than Tang Xuanzang. If you don’t believe me, let’s make a bet.”

Shuang’er had no interest in gambling at all; she said, “If Xianggong says that you are more formidable than Tang Xuanzang, then so be it. I don’t want to bet with you. I am not as formidable as Zhu Bajie.” While saying that, she pursed her lips and laughed.

Suddenly from the Princess’ room they heard the noise of things thrown down, the rattling of the bed, the stomping of feet, and the sound of crying. Wei Xiaobao sighed and said, “I’ll go to console her; always crying and making noise, what’s the use?” Going to the Princess’ room, he said, “Princess, don’t cry. Let me tell you some jokes.”

Sophia was lying face down on the bed, her feet kicking randomly. “I don’t want to hear, I don’t want to hear,” she said while crying, “I want the Tsaritsa [English: tsarina or czarina] to go to hell, I want Tsaritsa Natalya to go to hell.”

Wei Xiaobao did not understand the meaning of ‘Tsaritsa’, upon inquiring, he learned that it means ‘Tsar’s Mama’; instantly he was very happy. “I wonder what kind of evil person a Tsaritsa was, turns out she is the Empress Dowager,” he said, “Let me tell you: Chinese Tsaritsa was called the old wh0re; she was also a greatly evil person. Later on I thought of a way to drive her out of the Palace. The Emperor was very happy, hence he made me high-ranking official.”

Sophia was greatly delighted; she turned around and sat up. “How did you do that?” she asked.

Wei Xiaobao thought, “I expelled the old wh0re just because she was the fake Empress Dowager. Your Luocha old wh0re is actually genuine goods at fair prices, the real Tsaritsa. Naturally my way won’t work here.” He said, “I was in cahoots with the young Emperor in dealing with Chinese Tsaritsa.”

Sophia knitted her brows, “Pyotr loves his mama very much, he won’t listen to me to fight against the Tsaritsa. If only … if only …” She shook her head, got out of bed, and paced back and forth barefooted on the carpet, while biting her lip in deep thinking.

Wei Xiaobao said, “In China we had a female emperor, called Wu Zetian[8]. This female emperor married many male empresses and male wives, she was very merry. Princess, I’ll say you are more or less the same as she was, it would be better for you to be the female Tsar.”

Sophia’s heart was moved. She had never thought about it, Luocha Country had never had female Tsar, she always thought that women could not be Tsar. If China has had female emperor, why can’t Luocha Country have female Tsar? Ever since she was kept prisoner in the Hunting Palace, she was frightened and angry; her brain had never stopped churning, but she was only thinking about how to escape the Palace. Even if she had to go east to Yakesa and be with Governor-general Galitzine, it would be much better than being imprisoned by the Empress Dowager in this place. Hearing Wei Xiaobao bringing up ‘female Tsar’ just now, it was as if a new heaven and earth had just appeared before her eyes.

She turned around, with sparkle in her eyes she placed her hands on Wei Xiaobao’s shoulders, planted a light kiss on his left cheek, and said with a smile, “If I become a female Tsar, I will make you my empress.”

Wei Xiaobao’s heart jumped in fright; he thought, “This absolutely must not happen.” He said hastily, “I, Chinese, cannot be Luocha Country’s male empress; you can make me high-ranking official.”

Sophia said, “You can be the empress and high-ranking official at the same time.”

Wei Xiaobao thought, “You don’t even know if presently your life can be guaranteed, yet you are exhausting your delight by making me the empress and high-ranking official at the same time.”

Sophia said, “Quickly think of a way to make me female Tsar.”

Wei Xiaobao frowned; speaking about important military or national matters, his knowledge and experience was indeed very shallow. Undoubtedly compared to Kangxi it was like the difference between the heaven and the earth; but compared to Chen Jinnan, Songgotu, Wu Sangui, and the others he was still far too inferior. “Princess,” he said, “This matter is very difficult, I cannot think of anything. Let me go back to Beijing immediately, and ask our young Emperor, let him come up with an idea. And then I will come back here with a group of highly skilled people to catch that Tsaritsa Luocha old wh0re, and catch young Tsar Pyotr; it will be a great success.” When he spoke about ‘great success’, four characters [da gong gao cheng], he could not stop himself from embracing Sophia and kissing her.

“Oh,” Sophia exclaimed, “That won’t do! That won’t do! You return to Beijing and come back to Moscow, a year won’t be enough. I will be dead by then, go to Paradise.”

Wei Xiaobao thought she was right; he sighed and said, “Beautiful Princess, go to Paradise, Chinese little child high-ranking official, also go to Paradise.”

Sophia pushed him back gently, she said, “Chinese little child, know how to speak and deceive people. Joyous roar of the crowd, useless. Pat … pat cow’s buttocks, blow horse’s skin.”

Hearing her saying ‘pat horse’s buttocks, blow cow’s skin’ [both idioms mean ‘to flatter’ or ‘boot-licking’] backward, Wei Xiaobao could not help but roared in laughter. But then he saw the despising look on her eyes, obviously she was looking down on him; he was enraged. He pondered hard, “How can I make her a female Tsar? How did Wu Zetian become female emperor? There is no harm in us in Luocha Country to leave our mark in history [orig. make a stamp on the board]. Too bad it’s too far away from Beijing, there’s no way for me to ask young Emperor or Suo Dage.”

Wei Xiaobao’s literary knowledge came from, one, listening to the storytellers, two, watching the opera. Ever since he became a high-ranking official, he did not listen to the storytellers too much anymore, although he had watched operas more. However, he had never heard or watched the tale on how Wu Zetian became a female emperor.

Gazing out window, he stared blankly and was lost in thought. Myriads of stories and plays flashed through his mind: “Female emperor I do not know, how about the male emperors? How did they become emperors? Zhu Yuanzhang [Ming Dynasty founder] appeared to the world by fighting, under his command there were great generals Xu Da, Chang Yuchun, Hu Dahai, Mu Ying …” He gleaned this fact from the tale ‘Legend of Heroic Deed of Ming Dynasty’. He also thought, “Li Zicheng led his troops to attack Beijing, thus my Sifu’s Papa, Emperor Chongzhen was forced to hang himself, and Li Zicheng became the Emperor. Qing troops then defeated Li Zicheng, old master emperor Shunzhi ascended the throne to become the Emperor. Wu Sangui wants to be the emperor; hence he raises troops to revolt. It seems that no matter who wants to be the emperor must raise arms and fight a great war, must kill until the sandstorm rolled on, until the blood flow and become a river, until the bones pile up like mountain.”

As soon as he thought about war, he was scared. He thought further, “We are being locked up in here, what troops do we have? What war do we fight? If we don’t fight the war, how can we become the emperor?” His knowledge of China’s history was indeed very limited, he only knew that the only person who became the Emperor without fighting a war was the young Emperor Kangxi, and that was because the old Emperor left home and abdicated the throne for him. Naturally he could not use this method.

He thought further: in the many operas that he watched, there was this story ‘Beheading Yellow Robe’, in which the Song Dynasty Emperor Zhao Kuangyin [Song Dynasty founder] killed the great general Zheng En. His wife and children raised the troops to avenge their husband and father. Zhao Kuangyin was no match for them, he was forced to entreat piteously. He took off his yellow robe and let her chopped it with a saber into two pieces, it was considered a substitute for the Emperor to let Madame Zheng venting her anger. The Emperor was greatly humiliated.

And then there was this historical opera ‘Hatred of the Deer Platform’, about the tyrannical King Zhou. Jiang Taigong[9] helped raising the troops for Zhou [different spelling] Wuwang[10], forcing King Zhou to be burned to death on Deer Platform, and thus Zhou Wuwang became the Emperor. (Book note: naturally Wei Xiaobao did not know that at that time there was no ‘Emperor’ yet.)

How about Cao Cao[11]? How did that big white face treacherous court official become the Emperor? The historical opera ‘Fording the River Free and Unfettered’ depicted Cao Cao leading his troops to hound Emperor Han something to death, and then he rose to the throne to be the new Emperor. The great generals under his command, Zhang somebody, and Xu somebody, were very formidable. (Book note: Wei Xiaobao remembered it wrong, Cao Cao did not become the emperor.)

And then there was Liu Bei; how did he become the Emperor? Wei Xiaobao did not know. It must be Guan Gong, Zhang Fei, and Zhao Yun helped him fighting the battle.

In short, to become the Emperor, one must fight. Even after one become the Emperor, if he was unable to defeat other people, then other people may snatch the Emperor position away, or if other people did not snatch it away, they may humiliate the Emperor and he would have bad luck.

The storytellers told the tale of ‘Military Instructor Lin’s fiery alliance with Wang Lun’ of the ‘Water Margin’ [Outlaws of the Marsh], Chao Ge wanted to become the leader of the bandits, he colluded with Lin Chong to kill the original big boss of the Liangshan Marsh, Wang Lun. It can be clearly seen that even to become the boss of the bandits, one must fight.

Seeing him gnashing his teeth and punching the air with clenched fist Sophia laughed and asked, “What are you doing?”

Wei Xiaobao was startled and awakened from his deep thought. “Want to be the Emperor, one must fight,” he said.

Sophia stared at him blankly. “Fight?” she asked, “Fight whom?”

“Naturally fight Luocha old wh0re,” Wei Xiaobao replied.

Sophia heard him saying ‘the Luocha old wh0re’ several times, but did not understand what ‘the old wh0re’, three characters [lao biao zi] mean. She was just about to ask, suddenly the door was pushed open, the firearm brigade captain entered the room. He grabbed Wei Xiaobao’s chest, while speaking some gibberish, and then dragged him out and kicked him heavily on the butts.

The captain burst into loud laughter, and sent another kick to him. Wei Xiaobao was furious, suddenly he leaped up and made somersault in the air and landed on the captain’s shoulder. It was precisely the ‘Di Qing Subduing the Dragon’, one of the three moves to save his life taught by Hong Jiaozhu. Actually, he had not trained this move perfectly, if it was used against a martial art master, it would be far too inferior; however, how could this Luocha captain know Central Earth martial art? Although Wei Xiaobao carelessly and haphazardly turned over and leaped, unexpectedly he still succeeded. With the forefinger of both hands pressed against the captain’s eyes, he shouted, “Don’t move! Eyes, dead!”

He wanted to say ‘Don’t move, otherwise I’ll dig your eyes out’ in Luocha language, but did not know how; without any better option, he simply said, “Eyes, dead!” But the captain’s perception was not weak, unexpectedly he understood. In great shock he stopped moving altogether.

With his right hand Wei Xiaobao pulled the captain’s right ear and shouted, “Go!” Then, just like riding a horse, he steered him back into the Princess’ room. “Close door! Firearms, take.”

Sophia was startled and delighted at the same time; busily she closed the door and took the short gun from the captain’s side, and pressed it against the captain’s back. Wei Xiaobao jumped down from his shoulder. He loosened the captain’s waistband to tie up his feet, and then he loosened up the belt of his pants to tie his hands behind his back. As soon as the belt was taken off, the captain’s pants fell down, exposing his naked lower part of the body. Sophia and Wei Xiaobao roared in laughter. The captain’s entire face blushed deep red; he gnashed his teeth in extreme anger.

The door was pushed gently, Shuang’er stuck her head inside and asked, “Xianggong, is everything alright?”

Wei Xiaobao beckoned her to come in and close the door. Seeing the captain’s distressed situation Shuang’er was amused and puzzled at the same time. Sophia asked, “We caught the captain, what for?”

Actually, Wei Xiaobao caught the captain simply because he was furious, he did not expect to use him for anything. But now that Sophia asked, a bright idea suddenly occurred. “Tell him to led the troops to rebel,” he said. He did not know how to say the word ‘rebel’ in Luocha language, hence he said it in Chinese. He also said, “Tell him to kill Tsaritsa, kill Tsar, you, become female Tsar.”

Sophia did not understand the Chinese word ‘rebel’, but she understood the sentence ‘kill Tsaritsa, kill Tsar, you, become female Tsar’ perfectly well. She was taken aback, but was immediately delighted. Turning toward the captain, she spoke some gibberish.

Wei Xiaobao did not understand a word of Luocha language the two were speaking in, but he saw the captain repeatedly shook his head; presumably he was unwilling to comply. Wei Xiaobao called out, “He doesn’t want to listen to you, kill him.” From his boot he pulled his dagger and swiped it on the captain’s left cheek. ‘Chi!’ a large clump of beard was shaved instantly.

“What a sharp dagger,” Sophia said with a laugh.

The captain was so scared that his face turned ash grey; he thought, “Turns out this little barbarian still has a dagger hidden in his leather boot; that’s really strange, why didn’t he use it that time?”

“Are you willing to surrender or not?” Sophia asked, “And support me as the female Tsar?”

The captain said, “It’s not that I don’t want to support Princess, but the troops under my command won’t possibly obey my order. Moscow has twenty firearm brigades; we are only one of them. Even if we revolt, we cannot fight the other nineteen brigades.”

When Sophia heard this, she had to agree that what he said made sense; however, she had a hard time explaining it to Wei Xiaobao. Without better option, she had to resort to sign language; when she tried to explain about the twenty firearm brigades, ten fingers were not enough, she had to take off her shoes and used her ten toes before she could count to twenty.

With great difficulty finally Wei Xiaobao was able to understand her. He thought that it was a very difficult matter indeed. Sitting on a chair, he painstakingly pondered, “This captain is unwilling to rebel, killing him would be useless.” He said to Sophia, “Captain unwilling, get the deputy captain to rebel.”

“Deputy captain?” Sophia asked.

“Right,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “Call the deputy captain.”

Sophia pushed the captain toward the door; with the gun on his back, she said, “Call the deputy captain in! If you warn him, I’ll shoot you immediately.” The captain had no choice, he called loudly to summon the deputy captain.

A moment later, the deputy captain pushed the door and came in. Shuang’er had already hidden behind the door, as soon as the deputy captain came in, Shuang’er stretched out her finger to jab at his back several times, sealing his acupoints, rendering him immovable. “Xianggong,” Shuang’er said delightedly, “Foreigner devils’ acupoints are just the same as ours; I was afraid the devils’ acupoints would be different.”

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Foreign devils also have eyes, have nose, have hands and feet; naturally they also have acupoints.” He drew the girdle ornament saber the captain wore on his waist, and said to Sophia, “Tell him to kill the captain and rebel. He is unwilling, call the platoon leader here to kill him.”

Sophia thought it was a wonderful idea; she said to the deputy captain, “Kill the captain, lead the firearm brigade, you become the captain, obey my command. You are unwilling to kill the captain, I’ll get the platoon leader to kill you and the captain, and I’ll make the platoon leader captain. Will you kill or not?”

“Shuang’er,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Open the acupoints on his body, but do not untie the ones on his legs.” Following Wei Xiaobao’s order, Shuang’er unsealed the acupoints on the upper part of his body; she also handed the saber over to him.

Sophia asked one more time. The captain swore and repeatedly threatened her. Ordinarily the deputy captain was not in a good term with the captain. When he was asked to rebel, he was actually scared, but hearing the captain’s malicious swearing, he thought, “If I don’t kill you, the first platoon leader who wants to be captain will definitely kill you, and then I will also lose my life.” Thereupon he raised the saber, ‘Ca!’ he chopped the captain’s head.

As the saber chopped down, Sophia, Wei Xiaobao and Shuang’er, three people cheered at once. It’s just that Sophia was cheering in Russia, “Helaxiao!” while Wei Xiaobao and Shuang’er naturally cheered in Chinese.

Sophia held the deputy captain’s hand and repeatedly praised his bravery and loyalty. She promoted him to be the firearm brigade on the spot, saying, “Sit down, we will discuss it in details.”

The deputy captain knitted his brows; pointing to Wei Xiaobao and Shuang’er, he said, “These two foreign children used magic; the lower part of my body cannot move.”

Sophia turned to Wei Xiaobao and said, “Please, magic, gone!” Shuang’er smiled and unsealed the acupoints on the deputy captain’s lower body.

Sophia ordered the deputy captain, “Go, call three platoon leaders and their deputies, I want the Chinese children to use their magic so that their hands can move, but their legs cannot.” And she repeated her words in Chinese to Wei Xiaobao and Shuang’er.

The deputy captain complied and left. Not too long afterwards, six platoon leaders and their deputies were lining up outside the door. The deputy captain called them to come in one by one. One by one Shuang’er sealed the ‘zhi she’ [abandon hope] acupoint on their waist and the ‘huan tiao’ [jumping the hoop] acupoint on their thigh.

Sophia said, “The deputy captain is determined to support me to be the female Tsar; we are going to dispatch the troops to kill Tsaritsa. Will you obey or not?”

The six platoon leaders and their deputies saw the captain’s body lying on the floor, they knew that the situation was far from good; listening to Sophia, they were even more fearful and apprehensive, and could only looked at each other in dismay, nobody dared to say anything.

Wei Xiaobao thought, “When the Manchurian Qing entered China and robbed our rivers and mountains, in the ‘Ten Days of Yangzhou’, Tatar troops killed and burned, raped and pillaged, and thereupon the old emperor became the Emperor. Damn it, I’ll have them do ‘Ten Days of Moscow’, stir the whole country in rebellion, the more chaotic the better. Monk holding an umbrella, no hair no sky! [i.e. no protection from the law, ‘fa’ (hair) sounds like ‘fa’ (law, Buddhist teaching)] If we did not do this, how can we become the Emperor?” He said to Sophia, “Tell them to enter Moscow and fight, kill people, set fire, promise them that they will become generals and high-ranking officials, plus lots and lots of gold and silver, everybody can seize beautiful women as their wives!”

Sophia thought it was not a bad idea; she said to the deputy captain, “Go gather all the gunmen, I want to speak to them.”

More than 600 gunmen assembled on the Hunting Palace square. The deputy captain sent for twelve gunmen and had them carried the six platoon leaders and their deputies, whose acupoints were still sealed, to the square.

Sophia stood on the stone steps and spoke loudly, “Gunmen, you are Luocha Country’s brave warriors, you have rendered great merits for the country, but your pay is too low; you have no beautiful women, no money to spend, not enough wine to drink, the house you live in is too small, too uncomfortable. Inside Moscow there are many rich people, they have big houses, with lots of servants, and lots of beautiful women, which you do not have. Is this fair?”

When the numerous gunmen heard this, they all shouted together, “It’s not fair! It’s not fair!”

“Those rich people are fat and stupid,” Sophia continued, “Probably they eat fat pigs every day. If they have a duel with you, can they beat you? Can those wealthy people’s marksmanship surpass yours? Can their swordsmanship surpass yours? Have they rendered any merit to the country? To the Tsar?”

For each question she asked, the crowd of gunmen replied in loud voice, “Niante!” [I think this is supposed to be ‘nyet’, Russian word for ‘no’] Wei Xiaobao heard the crowd responding with ‘Niante’ after ‘Niante’; he knew that in Luocha language, this word means ‘no’. He did not understand what Sophia was saying, he thought the Princess was still trying to persuade the gunmen to rebel, but the crowd was unwilling to listen and obey; he could not help but was worried.

Sophia continued, “You deserve to be generals, to be rich! Each and every one of you deserves to be promoted and gain wealth.”

The crowd of gunmen cheered loudly. Someone asked, “Princess Sophia, what can you do to make us get promoted and gain wealth?”

“Do you want to be generals?” Sophia asked.

“We do!” the crowd of gunmen shouted.

“Do you want to have lots and lots of money?” Sophia asked.

“Of course we do!” the crowd of gunmen shouted.

“Do you want to have beautiful women?” Sophia asked.

The crowd of gunmen roared in laughter; “We do! We do!” they shouted even louder.

“Alright!” Sophia said, “All of you, go to Moscow, enter the city and tell the other nineteen firearm brigade that you are under Princess Sophia’s order, I am the female Tsar, the entire Luocha Country must obey my command. I am allowing you, every gunman, to pick a wealthy man’s house, challenge that big fat pig rich man for a duel; whoever can kill him, that rich man’s big house, his gold and silver, his beautiful women, carriage, steed, clothes, servants, maids, fine wine, everything will belong to that brave gunman. Do you have the guts? Are you a man, a real man? Do you dare to kill people, to seize their money, their women?”

The crowd of gunmen yelled with one voice, “We dare, we dare, we dare! Killing people, seizing their money, seizing their women, why should we be afraid?”

Sophia was greatly delighted. “That’s very good,” she shouted, “I was afraid you are all cowards, you don’t dare to do great things! Quickly get the vodka! Hey, go to the cellar, bring the best vodka out.”

There were several bottles of decades-old vodka stored in the cellar of the Tsar’s Hunting Palace, very famous and valuable; originally it was intended for the enjoyment of the Tsar, the Empress, the Princess, the Prince, as well as the aristocrats and high-ranking ministers, how could these gunmen ever have a taste? Upon hearing Sophia’s order, the crowd of soldiers exploded in cheers; immediately several dozen of them rushed to get the wine.

Shortly afterwards, the soldiers in the square drank bottle after bottle of vodka to their hearts’ content; they yelled in delight, “Sophia, female Tsar, Wula, wula, wula! Sophia, female Tsar, Wula, wula, wula!”

In Luocha tongue, ‘Wula’ means ‘long live’ [orig. ten thousand years]. Although Wei Xiaobao did not understand, seeing the crowd of soldiers yelling ‘Sophia, female Tsar, Wula, wula, wula!’ incessantly, he guessed they were giving their allegiance to her. Tugging Sophia’s sleeve, he said, “Tell them to kill the twelve platoon leaders and their deputies, there will be no turning back.” [I checked both the online text and the book, and both have ‘twelve’; I think Jin Yong made a mistake here.]

Sophia nodded again and again; she called out in a loud and clear voice, “Luocha Country’s handsome and strong warriors! Everybody listen to me: I order you to kill wealthy men, seize their money, seize their women, but the Tsaritsa won’t allow you, she sent these scoundrels to control you so you won’t commit any crime!” While saying that, she pointed to the twelve platoon leaders and their deputies.

Immediately a dozen or so gunmen drew their sabers and shouted, “Kill the scoundrels!” More than a dozen sabers chopped down, hacking the six platoon leaders and their deputies to their death.

Luocha people were originally violent and insolent; now that they drank some vodka, their body temperature rose. Immediately the flesh and blood of the twelve platoon leaders and their deputies flew everywhere; these people were even more uncontrollable. They yelled, “Kill the scoundrels, seize their money, seize their women!”

Sophia said, “Go to Moscow, tell the other nineteen firearm brigades to do this together. Whichever captain is not willing, kill him immediately. Whichever aristocrat, general, or high-ranking minister does not allow you, kill him immediately, seize the gold, silver, beautiful wives and daughters in their homes and divide it among yourselves. Set those scoundrels’ homes in fire.”

The crowd of soldiers cheered loudly; one after another they drew their long sabers, slung their firearms, pulled their rides, and turned around and mounted their horses. A moment later, they heard the hoof beats as the soldiers galloped toward Moscow.

Sophia said to the deputy captain, “Why don’t you go too? Why be polite? The most important thing is: don’t have any conflict with the other firearm brigades, everybody must fight together. You led your people into Kremlin, arrest the Tsaritsa and Pyotr. Have everybody seize all the gold, silver and jewels, and beautiful maids in the Palace, as much as possible; I am bestowing everything to you all.” The deputy captain was greatly delighted; he complied and mounted his horse and left.

Sophia sighed, she felt her entire body was devoid of any strength, she sat down on the stone steps and said, “I am so tired!”

Wei Xiaobao said, “Let me help you to rest inside.”

Sophia shook her head. After a while, she said, “Let us go to the watchtower to look.”

The entire Hunting Palace was constructed of thick granite, the watch tower was about eight or nine zhang high [about 80, 90 feet], it was intended to be used to observe the enemy situation. Before Luocha Country was established, it was originally called the Grand Duchy of Moscow, where Moscovian dukes and independent warlords established themselves as Tsars. The previous dynasty’s tsars was afraid that when they went hunting, the enemy would seize the opportunity to attack, therefore, they built the Hunting Palace outside the city of Moscow, so that when the enemy arrived, they would be prepared to help in defending the city.

Sophia took Wei Xiaobao and Shuang’er to climb the watchtower. Looking to the west, they faintly saw dots of light inside Moscow’s city wall. In the dark of the night, the city looked very tranquil. Sophia started to worry. “Why haven’t they fought? They, afraid?”

Wei Xiaobao did not know Luocha soldiers’ character, he was not sure if they would cower in battle or not; he had no choice but to console her, “Don’t worry, don’t worry.”

Sophia asked, “How did you know that by telling the soldiers to kill people, to seize their money and seize their women, they will kill Tsaritsa and Pyotr?”

Wei Xiaobao smiled and said, “Chinese are always like that.”

He recalled what happened in Yangzhou city in the past; he had listened when older people telling about how the Manchurian Qing soldiers besieged the city. After the Manchurian Qing entered the Pass, they met fierce resistance by the Han people in places such as Jiangsu and the others, especially Yangzhou, which held fast to their defense. The Qing army commander-in-chief hence permitted the soldiers, after they broke the city defense, to rape and pillage for a total of ten days. This ‘Ten Days of Yangzhou’ was incomparably tragic and atrocious. Wei Xiaobao grew up in Yangzhou; how the Manchurian Qing troops besieged the city without being able to break it, how the commander-in-chief gave permission to the common soldiers to seize money and women, how the Qing troops assaulted relentlessly, he had heard all these stories since his childhood, a lot.

Afterward, when he was in Beijing, he also listened to people telling the story of how Li Zicheng’s soldiers also robbing money and seizing women; how Zhang Xianzhong[12] always promised his troops that when they broke the city’s defense, they would be allowed to plunder for three days. Apparently, if they wanted the rebellion to succeed, they must incite the whole country into rebellion.  To incite the whole country into rebellion, they must allow the common soldiers to rob money and seize women. Therefore, when he saw that the firearm brigade troops did not dare to revolt, he automatically mentioned the five magic words ‘seize money seize women’ [qiang qian qiang nu ren]. Sure enough, Luocha troops and Chinese troops were just the same; as soon as the five magic words were uttered, it did work like magic.

After waiting for a long time, in the darkness they suddenly saw fire in the city of Moscow. Sophia was greatly delighted. “They have made their move!” she shouted. Hugging Wei Xiaobao, she kissed him while jumping up and down.

Wei Xiaobao happily said, “They have started the fire. This will work. Killing and burning will definitely work in tandem.”

Shortly afterwards, they saw fire sprang up everywhere in the city, black smoke arose on the east side, flame blazed on the west side. Sophia clapped her hands and cheered, “Everybody is killing and burning. Xiaobao, you are really smart, the stratagem you thought is very clever.”

Wei Xiaobao smiled; he thought, “Speaking about killing and burning, rising in rebellion, our Chinese people’s skill is a hundred times better than your Luocha demons’. What’s so strange about this stratagem? We have always done it this way.”

Sophia said, “You told everybody to kill the captain, kill the platoon leaders, everybody did not have any choice but to continue; even if they wanted to turn back, they cannot. Little child, very smart, Chinese high-ranking official, amazing.”

Wei Xiaobao said, “It is called ‘throwing away one’s good name/reputation’ [tou ming zhuang].”

“What ‘throwing/losing one’s life’ [diu ming shang]?” Sophia asked.

Wei Xiaobao roared in laughter, “Yes, they are throwing away their lives, they have to fight desperately.” In his heart he scolded Luocha people as being unlearned.

In the Chinese lulin [green wood, crime world], when someone was about to join the band of bandits, the bandit chief would definitely send the new brother to make a legal case, oftentimes by killing someone. After this person committed major crime of homicide, henceforth he would not inform the authority against the band of bandits. In the ‘Shui Hu Zhuan’ [Water Margin/Outlaws of the Marsh], when Lin Chong went up Liangshan Marsh to join the group, Wang Lun ordered him to kill someone and hence made a legal case; it was called ‘throwing away his good name’. Wei Xiaobao had heard many stories from the storytellers, he was well-accustomed to this practice; he thought, “Our Chinese people’s way of doing things, Luocha demons did not understand even one. It seems that although these Luocha people are vicious, harsh and rough, in the end it’s not that hard to deal with them.”

Seeing the fire in Moscow was getting bigger and bigger, and it spread all over the place, Sophia started to worry again; she was not sure what the situation would be after the firearm brigades officers and soldiers finished their random killing and pillaging. She asked Wei Xiaobao, “After killing and burning, seizing money and women, and then what?”

Wei Xiaobao was taken aback; he only knew that to rebel one must incite the soldiers to kill and burn, rob money and seize women; but what happen after that, he had no idea. Without anything better to say, he said, “That? When they rob enough money, they will stop robbing. When they kill enough people, they will stop killing.”

Sophia knitted her brows; she thought that it was not what she meant, but momentarily she was also left with nothing else to do. The three of them watched for a while, and then they returned to the Palace to quietly wait for the news.

Early in the morning the next day, the deputy captain of the firearm brigade returned to the Hunting Palace, accompanied by a small group of riders, to report to Sophia: the previous night all twenty firearm brigades obeyed the female Tsar’s order; they rampaged for the entire night, and gained gold, silver and beautiful women that their number cannot be counted; they had also killed the Tsaritsa Natalya.

Sophia was greatly delighted; she sprang up and called out, “Natalya is killed? How about Pyotr?”

The deputy captain said, “Little Pyotr is arrested and is being locked up in Kremlin’s wine cellar.”

“Helaxiao! Helaxiao!” Sophia yelled.

They heard sound of hoof beats, a large number of riders was rushing over. Sophia’s countenance changed. “Who are they?” she asked in alarm.

The deputy captain replied, “Moscow’s princes and dukes, cabinet ministers and generals are coming to ask Your Majesty to ascend the throne, to be Luocha Country’s female Tsar.”

Sophia was ecstatic; she hugged Wei Xiaobao and repeatedly kissed his cheeks left and right. “Chinese little child,” she called out, “Good strategy!”

They heard the sound of hoof beats stopped outside the Hunting Palace, followed by the sound of leather boots striking the ground; a group of people entered the Palace. The leader was the chancellor, Prince Bodonich. He walked to Sophia, bowed and said, “The nobility, ministers and generals have reached unanimous agreement to ask Princess Sophia to return to the Palace to preside over the present situation, to pacify the upheaval and restore peace and order.”

With smile all across her face, Sophia nodded her agreement. She asked, “The renegade faction chief Natalya, has she been killed already?”

Prince Bodonich reported, “Natalya disturbed the country, she murdered loyal subjects, she arrogated power out of selfish ambition, she harbored evil intentions. She had already obeyed the Heaven’s decree and was executed to the satisfaction of everyone.”

“Very good,” Sophia said, “We go to Kremlin.” The numerous ministers and the firearm brigade soldiers flocked behind Sophia to go to Moscow.

In short moment, the Hunting Palace was deserted with only Wei Xiaobao and Shuang’er remained. In his heart Wei Xiaobao was furious. “Damn it,” he cursed, “This Luocha Princess crossed the bridge and pulled the plank; the bride and groom entered the chamber, the matchmaker is pushed aside to the wall. She has become the female Tsar, now she does not want us.”

Shuang’er smiled and said, “You want the female Tsar to make you a male empress, don’t you?”

“Ah, you are making fun of me?” Wei Xiaobao said, “You think I cannot catch you?” Finished speaking, he pounced on Shuang’er. “Pfft!” Shuang’er laughed and leaped sideways to evade.

By this time it was already summer, the weather was sunny and warm, mass of flowers covered the Hunting Palace ground like brocade, hundreds of birds were singing. Only Luocha Country’s flowers and plants, birds and bugs are greatly different from the ones in China, the flowers’ beauty and fragrance, as well as the chirping of the birds, was considerably different. Wei Xiaobao grew up as uncouth marketplace boy, he did not pay any attention to such distinctions. Together with Shuang’er he roamed around the Hunting Palace ground, nobody came to disturb him; contrary to his expectation, he was quite enjoying himself.

After spending seven or eight days in peace and quiet, Sophia suddenly sent a squad of soldiers to take the two of them to the Palace. As Wei Xiaobao entered Sophia’s bed chamber, he saw her hair was in a mess, she was walking around kicking the furniture that everything was crashing down in loud noise; she was throwing a fit. When she saw that Wei Xiaobao had arrived, immediately her face looked happy. “Chinese little child, quickly come,” she called out, “Make a plan, think of a way.”

In his heart Wei Xiaobao said, “If you did not come across difficult problem, you would not think of me. This time I have to knock the bamboo pole [See Chapter 10]; I should not help you thinking of any stratagem that easily.” He asked, “Your Majesty Female Tsar, what difficult problem do you have?”

Sophia continuously shook her head. “I, female Tsar, no. They, don’t agree, I, female Tsar, cannot do.”

After talking for half a day Wei Xiaobao finally understood. Turned out Luocha Country had always followed the rule that women cannot be the Tsar. Although the Empress Dowager Natalya had died, a large number of generals were still throwing their support to the young Tsar Pyotr, they resolutely refused to depose him as the Tsar. By this time the riots in the city had already been stilled. Although Sophia still had the firearm brigades supporting her, the numerous ministers were well-prepared, they stationed a large number of Cossack cavalry outside the city, ready to respond by entering the city at any time. It would not be easy for Sophia to summon the firearm brigade to rise in revolution again.

For the last few days the princes and dukes, cabinet ministers and generals were having a general assembly in Kremlin, they were divided into two factions; one faction supported Sophia, the other faction supported Pyotr. Each side refused to concede to the other. The people who supported Tsar Pyotr were mostly cabinet ministers and generals who were already in power; they were afraid that when the female Tsar ascended the throne, she would stripped away their power and gave it to new people. The ones who supported Sophia were dissatisfied aristocrats and businesspeople who were hoping that with the new ruler rising to power, they would be able to fish up some oil from the water. Sophia was fortunate enough to have the firearm brigades’ support, to have the military power in her hands, so that the monarchists [‘emperor defenders’] did not dare to be reckless. But the monarchists had control over the Cossack cavalry, whose strength must not be ridiculed. If the two factions clashed, victory or defeat would be hard to tell.

Wei Xiaobao thought, “This kind of national affairs, I don’t have a clue; what kind of fart stratagem can I think of? I’d better slip away, roll the damn salted duck egg, so that when those two factions engage in free fight, Wei Xiaobao will not be blasted away and turn into Luocha caviar.”

Rolling his eyes, he said, “That’s very easy; naturally I have an idea. But I have … I want to knock on bamboo pole.” He wanted to say, ‘I have a condition’, but he did not know how to say that in Luocha language, hence he just said it in Yangzhou dialect, ‘knocking on bamboo pole’ [qiao zhu gang].

“What is ‘knocking on pig’s jar’ [also ‘qiao zhu gang’; different characters, different intonation]?” Sophia asked.

Wei Xiaobao said, “Knocking on bamboo pole is … this … the idea that I have, it’s not enough to simply give it to you. You give me something, lots and lots of things, then I will give you my idea.”

Sophia was greatly delighted. “Very good, very good,” she busily said, “Knocking on pig’s jar; we will knock on pig’s jar together! Whatever you want, I give you. You want to be my male empress?”

Wei Xiaobao was startled. “This, I do not dare to oblige, thank you,” he mused, “If I want to take a wife, Ah Ke is much better than you. Even Shuang’er that little servant girl is a lot better than you, Luocha woman whose whole body is hairy.” He laughed and said, “To be your male empress is naturally very good, but if this happens, you cannot be female Tsar.”

Hastily Sophia asked the reason. Wei Xiaobao said, “Because … this … that hot piece mama does not blossom!” [辣块妈妈不开花 (la kuai mama bu kai hua)] Temporarily he could not think of strong enough reason, hence he simply blurted out some Yangzhou slang. How could Sophia understand something like ‘what a little darling meek, garlic chives sautéed in leek’? [I am making it up, the original is 乖乖龙的东,猪油炒大葱 (guai guai long de dong, zhu you chao da cong), which if translated word by word won’t make any sense.]

Sophia asked, “Are you saying if Chinese man becomes male empress, Luocha people won’t be happy?”

“That’s right!” Wei Xiaobao hastily replied, “Luocha men, they say they, themselves, are good-looking, cannot be male empress. They will hate you, beat you.”

Sophia thought he was right, Luocha men would be jealous. She said, “You won’t be my male empress. Whatever else you want, I’ll give you.”

Wei Xiaobao said, “First, I want to be Luocha high-ranking official.”

“That’s easy,” Sophia replied, “After I become the female Tsar, I will bestow you the title of Earl, ruling over the eastern Tatars. You have yellow face, low nose; Tatars also have yellow face, low nose. They will submit to you.”

“Second,” Wei Xiaobao continued, “You and Chinese Emperor must not go to war. You write a letter, I will deliver it to Beijing. The female Tsar of Luocha and Chinese Emperor, be good friends, kissing each other, hugging each other. Chinese soldiers are very formidable, everybody knows magic, once they point their fingers, Luocha soldiers cannot move. If you go to war, Luocha people will die. I love you, you die, I cry!”

When Sophia heard this, she was deeply touched. Shuang’er made her move by sealing acupoints, the firearm brigade’s deputy captain and the six platoon leaders and their deputies immediately could not move; Sophia had seen it with her own eyes. She did not know that it was Chinese’s upper-class martial art skill, it was extremely difficult to learn that even Wei Xiaobao could not do it. She thought that everybody in China knew this enchantment; she thought that if she went to war against the Chinese Emperor, she would only lose without any chance of victory. She was even more touched that this Chinese little child expressed his true feeling to her; immediately she reached out to hug him and planted a deep kiss on his lips. “Chinese little child,” she said, “I love you too. Very well, Luocha troops cannot defeat Chinese troops, everybody won’t fight, we’ll be good friends.” Clicking her tongue, she kissed him again, and then asked, “What else you want to knock on the pig’s jar? Knock again, knock again!”

Wei Xiaobao thought for a while, and then said, “Nothing else.”

“Very well,” Sophia said, “Quickly teach me, how to become female Tsar.”

Wei Xiaobao thought that it was not an easy task; he had no choice but talking about this and that, inquiring the affair of the imperial court, but still could not come up with an idea, hence he pretended not to understand her.

Sophia gradually sensed that he was using deceit; her countenance turned ugly as she said, “If you lie to me, I’ll kill you.”

Wei Xiaobao was greatly anxious. “No lies, no lies!” he busily said.

Sophia said, “In that case, I want to be the female Tsar; how?”

“This … this …” Wei Xiaobao stammered.

Sophia was furious. “What ‘this’ or ‘that’?” she said, “In the court, one faction supports me, the other faction opposes me. If these two factions fought each other and my faction lost, what do I do?”

Wei Xiaobao suddenly remember that once, the young Emperor told him that in the past, Manchurian Taizu Huangdi [Great Ancestor Emperor, i.e. the founder of the dynasty] set up four Beilei [see chapter 13]. The first Beilei was Daishan, second Beilei was Amin, third Beilei was Manggu’ertai, fourth Beilei was Huang Taiji[13]. (Book note: it was only natural that Wei Xiaobao was not able to remember the names of the four Beilei correctly.) At that time all four Beilei had his own power; hence there was power-struggle among them. Afterwards the fourth Beilei Huang Taiji won the support of the first Beilei Daishan, and then he was able to overpower the opposition, and was able to seize the great position. For this reason Daishan still had a tie with the throne, and was able to maintain his power somewhat. The prominent Prince Kang was precisely Daishan’s descendant.

Thinking about this matter, he said, “Don’t fight, take your time. You and Pyotr can be the Tsars. In the future, the cabinet ministers and generals who oppose you, one by one, you can kill slowly. And then you can kill Pyotr, and be the female Tsar.”

Sophia thought that this idea was actually very brilliant, but the ministers repeatedly said that women could not be Tsar; she was exasperated, hence she told Wei Xiaobao the situation.

Wei Xiaobao thought that when the Qing Dynasty was first founded, Emperor Shunzhi was still a young emperor; the real power lay on the Regent Dorgon’s hands. Thereupon he said, “You cannot be the female Tsar, you can become the Prince Regent first.”

“What is Prince Regent?” Sophia asked.

“Prince Regent is not the Tsar,” Wei Xiaobao explain, “But he can issue a decree to kill people, beat people’s buttocks, can give reward, promote their official position. Tsar, fake, no power. Prince Regent, real, has power; can kill people, beat people’s buttocks, can promote their official position, can give rewards, everybody is afraid, everybody listen to Prince Regent, does not listen to the Tsar.”

Sophia was greatly delighted. “Helaxiao! Helaxiao!” she shouted.

The number of princes, dukes and generals who supported Sophia was actually in the minority. Sophia summoned the leaders into the Palace to discuss the strategy presented by Wei Xiaobao. Sophia had the military leadership of Moscow in her side, but she could not ascend the throne to become female Tsar, the main reason being because there was no precedent. When the numerous ministers heard the idea of ‘regency’, they thought that it was a brilliant strategy. As long as they had the power in their hands, becoming the Tsar or not would not make any difference.

After deliberating for quite a while, they came up with another idea: set up Sophia’s sibling, younger brother Ivan as the senior Tsar, let Pyotr still be the Tsar, but he was the junior Tsar. Senior and junior Tsars ruled side-by-side, to avoid opposition from the faction of supporters of Pyotr. Princess Sophia became the ‘Queen Regent’, she would handle all imperial court politics.

As soon as the decision was made, Sophia immediately gathered the firearm brigades, and summoned all princes, dukes and ministers, and declared the new system. She also made a guarantee to all ministers that no one would be recalled or removed from his post, and that everybody who supported the new system would be promoted and rewarded. Seeing that their authority and interest would not be harmed, plus the previous dynasty’s custom would not be broken, none of the numerous princes, dukes and ministers raised any objection.

Someone from the ‘Sophia supporter faction’ took the initiative to step forward and bow to Queen Regent Sophia; the rest of the people followed. Sophia was greatly delighted, she sent someone to invite her younger brother Ivan, and release the Junior Tsar Pyotr from the wine cellar, and have the two of them sat side-by-side as the Tsars; while she herself sat on the right hand seat of her two younger brothers. The hundreds of ministers’ affairs: memorial to the throne, promotion and reward, dismissal and appointment, everything was adjudicated by the Queen Regent. That time Ivan was sixteen, Pyotr was ten; they were young and their knowledge shallow, in everything they listened to their elder sister’s advice.

Sophia was in a position of power; she thought that in this matter, that Chinese little child high-ranking official had rendered a great service. If he did not repeatedly come up with these several ingenious ideas, at this time she would have been still locked up in the Hunting Palace, and then several months later, most probably the Empress Dowager Natalya would force her to leave the secular world to become a nun and would be hidden and locked up in some convent for the rest of her life. Thinking about this tragic fate, the warm sunny days would immediately turn into severe winter. Immediately she sent for Wei Xiaobao and praised him greatly.

Wei Xiaobao thought, those methods of mine are not the least bit special to Chinese people; in China, I was a stinky cobbler, but in Luocha Country, I turned into Zhuge Liang, this is really funny. He was thinking of tooting his horn a bit, but then he suddenly realized that it was not a good idea; if from now on this Luocha Princess wants me to be the ‘Luocha Zhuge Liang’, and wants me to remain by her side and will never allow me to return home, won’t it be desperately serious? Therefore, he said, “Lady Queen Regent, you have become the Regent, to become female Tsar in the future is very easy. Only you must observe one thing, and everybody will submit to you.”

“What is it?” Sophia asked, “Tell me quickly.”

Wei Xiaobao said, “Once you give your word, three-horse chariot cannot pursue it.” Actually, Luocha people’s horse-drawn carriage only used three horses to pull, unlike Chinese carriages, which used four horses. For this reason, Chinese saying ‘a team of four horses cannot pursue’, in Luocha Country it became ‘three-horse chariot cannot pursue’.

Sophia did not understand. “What is ‘three-horse chariot cannot pursue’?” she asked.

Wei Xiaobao said, “Once you gave your word, you must keep your promise. In China, our Emperor’s words are called the Emperor’s golden mouth, he must never go back on it.”

Sophia was suddenly enlightened; she laughed and said, “My promise to you, you are afraid I might renege, aren’t you? My darling Chinese little child, Luocha Queen Regent’s word is precious stone mouth; it is more precious than your Chinese Emperor’s golden mouth.”

Immediately she proclaimed an edict in the name of the senior and junior Tsars, conferring Wei Xiaobao the title of Earl, governing the Eastern Tatar. She also ordered a minister to write an imperial document to be delivered to the Chinese Emperor. She sent Wei Xiaobao off, accompanied by a Russian ambassador, escorted by two squads of Cossack cavalry, bringing gold, silver and precious objects, and not a few of rewards. The several tens of thousands taels banknotes that Wei Xiaobao bribed her was returned to him. In addition, she also sent a lot of presents to the Chinese Emperor, such as mink fur, precious stones and other Luocha Country special products.

By this time Sophia had already picked several good-looking Luocha Country men to accompany her, so she was not intimate with Wei Xiaobao anymore. But when the day Wei Xiaobao was taking his leave arrived, Sophia remembered the affection of the past several months, she was also grateful for his great merit in establishing her as the ruler, hence she was really reluctant to part with him.

According to Russian true historical record, the firearm brigades’ rebellion lasted for three days between the fifteenth and the seventeenth of the fifth month. By the twenty-ninth of the fifth month, the firearm brigades, under Sophia’s prompting, presented a petition requesting Ivan and Pyotr to be joint Tsars, and asked Sophia to be the Princess Regent, adjudicating the military and national affairs. By the time the chaos was resolved, it was already the middle of the sixth month.

The weather was sunny and warm; Wei Xiaobao was striding over a fine horse, under the protection of two squads of Cossack cavalry, speeding eastwards along the great Siberian prairie. The gentle breeze stroked his face; the sound of hoof beats filled his ears. Glancing to his left he saw his smart servant girl Shuang’er, with skin as white as snow and lips like cherry. Looking to his right he saw the Luocha Country Ambassador with his bluish green eyes and yellow beard. Mink fur and gifts, in fully loaded carts, followed behind them. Wei Xiaobao was extremely high-spirited; he thought, “This time I escape alive from mortal danger, not only my little life is protected, I also rendered great service to the Luocha Princess; and it was all because laozi had heard many stories and watched a lot of plays.”

China has been established for several thousand years, in terms of struggles to gain imperial power as the emperor, rebellion and massacre, it has abundant experience, unequalled throughout world. What Wei Xiaobao knew was superficial knowledge circulated among the common people, yet it was enough to strike awe in foreign land; unexpectedly he was able to help someone scheming against the imperial court and usurping the throne, bringing peace and order to the country.

Actually, this matter was not surprising at all; the founding commander-in-chief of the Manchurian Qing was an uncouth, unlearned man. The strategies he used in marching the troops into battle mainly came from the novel ‘The Romance of The Three Kingdoms’. In those years Qing Taizong [founder of Qing Dynasty] employed the stratagem of sowing dissension, he swindled Emperor Chongzhen into destroying the Great Wall by killing his great general Yuan Chonghuan. The stratagem was copied from the story in ‘The Romance of The Three Kingdoms’, in which Zhou Yu ordered Cao Cao to behead his own navy’s commanding officer.

In the real historical record, Zhou Yu swindling Cao Cao into killing his naval unit commander did not exist; it was fabricated by the novel writer. Unexpectedly, later on the novelist’s words became a fact, shaping China’s destiny for several hundreds of years. The things in life are strange, even stranger than the story in the novel. After the Manchus entered the Pass, they opened up new territory and expanded their lands, tripling the original China’s territory during the Ming Dynasty, far surpassed the Tang Dynasty, where the history of Han people was at its peak. Until today, the merit of novel, play, storytelling, et cetera has not died.

(Book note: Russian gunmen rebellion, Ivan and Pyotr, Senior and Junior Tsars’ co-existence, Sophia became Queen Regent, and so on, were historical facts. However, Wei Xiaobao’s involvement in this matter was considered by Russian people to be morally offensive and brought disgrace to their national prestige; therefore, history books did not have any written account on this matter. In the meantime, since Chinese court recorders have not witnessed it, plus it was a strange occurrence in some barbarian foreign land, it was considered nothing more than hearsay, not suitable to be recorded in China’s history, so much so that this matter had passed into oblivion.)

[1] Orig. ‘gui po’, foreign b1tch or foreign woman (Courtesy of Ren Wo Xing and CFT).

[2] Albazino is a village (selo) in Skovorodinsky District of Amur Oblast, Russia, noted as the site of Albazin, the first Russian settlement on the Amur River. Later in 17th century, the town was center of a petty kingdom known as Yagsi (Manchu: Yaksa; Chinese: Yakesa). The name of state came from Nikifor Chernigovsky’s coat of arms – Jaxa.

[3] Actually, the literal translation is: one who passes on a story or communicates a message, not necessarily an interpreter.

[4] Tou laozi: tou – classifier for animal, laozi – old man, father, ‘I, your father’.

[5] Laotouzi: old man, used contemptuously.

[6] Fyodor (Theodore) III Alexeyevich of Russia (9 June 1661 – 7 May 1682) was the Tsar of all Russia between 1676 and 1682. (From Wikipedia)

[7] The dictionary definitions are gunmen/musketeer (from ‘musket’), but when the word ‘musketeer’ my mind, I would imagine Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D’Artagnan; hence I opted to use the first definition. Addtitional info, courtesy of Ace High: Streltsý is the Russian version of musketeers. They were armed with firearms (arquebuses, muskets). They are also collectively known as Marksman Troops (Стрелецкое Войско).

[8] Wu Zetian (624-705), Tang Empress, reigned 690-705.

[9] Jiang Ziya (dates of birth unknown – 1015 B.C.), a Chinese historical and legendary figure who resided next to the Weishui River about 3,000 years ago. A sage and military strategist, Jiang Ziya was called upon by King Wen of Zhou to serve as prime minister. His purported teachings to King Wen form the basis of the Six Secret Teachings.

[10] King Wu of Zhou (-1043), personal name Ji Fa, reigned 1046-1043 BC as first king of Western Zhou dynasty 1046-1043 BC

[11] Cao Cao (155-220), famous statesman and general at the end of Han, noted poet and calligrapher, later warlord, founder and first king of Cao Wei, father of Emperor Cao Pi. Cao Cao was the main villain of novel the Romance of Three Kingdoms.

[12] Zhang Xianzhong (September 18, 1606 – January 2, 1647), nicknamed Yellow Tiger, was a Chinese rebel leader who conquered Sichuan Province in the middle of the 17th century. Upon capturing it, he declared himself emperor of the Daxi Dynasty. According to Chinese chronicles, many scholars rejected that claim, so he had them massacred. After killing the scholars, he went after the women, merchants, and all the officials. Then he had his soldiers kill each other and the officers’ wives’ feet cut off and put on top of a mound.

[13] Hung Taiji (1592-1643), eighth son of Nurhaci, reigned 1626-1636 as Second Khan of Later Jin dynasty, then founded the Qing dynasty and reigned 1636-1643 as Emperor; posthumous name Qing Taizu.

Post a Comment