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The Phoenix Dances in the Nine Heavens Chapter 7


Chapter 7 – So that’s what happened.

Because not only he was the third-generation Eagle Claw Wang’s [lit. ‘king’] adopted son, but he was the Wang Family’s ideal son-in-law. He was cordial, sincere and honest; in his work he always followed the compass and went with the set square. At the age of 18 he entered the Datong Escort Agency, by the age of 31 he already risen to the position of Head Escort. The goods under his escort, not even once has there be any slip-up.

“Just find Ge Tong, all roads will be clear[1].”

Some people would rather pay double to have Ge Tong personally escort their goods.

Not in his wildest dream would Lu Xiaofeng imagine that such a character would be hidden inside a Buddha statue.

Ge Tong was even more surprised to see him. His lips moved a few times, as if he wanted to talk about a lot of things, it’s a pity that he was much too weak, his lips were dry and chapped that he could not utter a single word.

Lu Xiaofeng also had a lot of questions he wanted to ask him. He was hidden inside a Buddha statue; what was the reason?

Lu Xiaofeng could not ask even a single question, because Ge Tong has completely collapsed.

Although a big bowl of nutritious, well-cooked and thick beef soup would restore his strength, but at this moment, trying to find such soup would be as difficult as ascending to the heavens.

Lu Xiaofeng stared at him for a long time, lost in thought; in his heart he suddenly remembered something even more frightening:

There were at least more than a hundred Buddha statues in here; if each Buddha statue hid one person, then what could he do?

Lu Xiaofeng did not dare to even think about it; he did not have enough courage to look at the second Buddha statue.

Right this moment, suddenly he heard very light footsteps in the tunnel. Lu Xiaofeng’s heart jumped.

Who was coming?

When he came in, he was dripping wet, surely the tunnel had not dried yet; whoever the newcomer was, he would definitely know that there was an uninvited guest inside the room. Naturally Minister He would know who this uninvited guest was.

Since this person dared to come, naturally he had a way to deal with Lu Xiaofeng.

Lu Xiaofeng sighed. He might as well sit down and wait.

The footsteps were getting closer. Someone carrying a large pot of piping hot beef soup came in. Surprisingly, it was Beef Soup.

The beef soup in the pot was hot, but the Beef Soup who carried the pot, her face was icy cold, without any emotion at all.

Right now not only it looked like she did not recognize Lu Xiaofeng, she did not even seem to see that in that stone room there was any Lu Xiaofeng at all. She slowly walked in, put the pot of soup on the floor, used a long-handled spoon to scoop a spoonful of soup, and then slowly poured the soup into the mouth of a subduing-tiger Luohan statue.

Unexpectedly a wooden Buddha statue could drink beef soup!

Beef Soup muttered, “Not only beef soup tastes good, it is nourishing. You drink it well, it may prolong your life a little bit.”

The spoonful of beef soup was finished, unexpectedly the Buddha statue let out a soft moan.

Beef Soup said, “I know you don’t like getting too little, but there is only one pot of beef soup, just one spoonful per person; even the big-bellied Buddha Maitreya also get only one spoonful.”

Just one spoonful per person, could it be that there was a person inside each Buddha statue?

Of course by now Lu Xiaofeng was able to see that the person’s mouth inside the Buddha statue happened to be right where the Buddha statue’s mouth was; so not only they were able to drink soup, they were able to breathe as well.

These people were able to live up until now, it was exactly because of a spoonful of beef soup every day.

They were tightly confined inside the nailed-down Buddha statues; they could not move even a little finger, and were able to survive relying only on a spoonful of beef soup every day. Such life, yet they have spent thirty, forty days of it. Thinking about the wrong they suffered, Lu Xiaofeng could not bear it any longer. Suddenly he sprang up and rushed over; quick as lightning he made his move.

He really wished he could confine Beef Soup in a Buddha statue, to let her taste this kind of suffering.

Beef Soup did not turn her head, she did not dodge either. Suddenly there was a ‘swish!’ as something was splitting the air; a fishing line, with a fishing hook at the end of the line, was flying in from the outside. The flickering, shiny fish hook was flying toward Lu Xiaofeng’s eyes, as if it was going to hook his eyeball out.

Fortunately, Lu Xiaofeng was not in the water at the moment. Fortunately, his hands were able to move. Suddenly he turned around, stretched out his two fingers to pinch, and was able to catch the fish hook.

Beef Soup coldly said, “Those two fingers are indeed a bit useful; let me also give you a spoonful of beef soup!”

The long-handled spoon suddenly arrived in front of Lu Xiaofeng’s mouth, it went straight toward the yingxiang [lit. ‘welcoming sweet fragrance’] acupoint above his lip, below his nose. The soup in the spoon was shaken, it splashed onto Lu Xiaofeng’s face.

She executed the move casually, but actually it was a very vicious attack; not only the spoon threatened his acupoint, the soup in the spoon also turned into an extremely powerful secret projectile, so that it was difficult for Lu Xiaofeng to evade it. Moreover, he was only holding the fish hook and not Minister He’s hand. A shadow flashed before his eyes, Minister He had already cast the fishing line, light as a feather it swept forward.

Minister He’s qinggong enabled him to move like a ghost, yet his attack was very vicious; his palm struck down on Lu Xiaofeng’s shoulder. The move he used was unexpectedly the Tantric’s Big Hand Print martial art.

Lu Xiaofeng was facing enemies from both sides, right away he would suffer a calamity; against expectation, suddenly he opened his mouth wide and sucked the splashing beef soup into his mouth, followed by closing his mouth quickly to bite the soup spoon.

Minister He’s palm was striking down, suddenly he saw some kind of flickering, shiny object scratching toward the artery on his wrist. Unexpectedly it was his own fish hook that he had just used to hook Lu Xiaofeng’s eyeball.

These moves were executed in succession, they were clever, free and at ease; other than Lu Xiaofeng, nobody else could execute it.

Too bad his teeth only bit the soup spoon and not Beef Soup’s hand at all. Like an orchid, his lily-white hand already brushed toward Lu Xiaofeng’s left ear. ‘Adaptable Orchid Hand’ separated tendons and dislocating arteries and veins. Not only its yin-natured energy malicious, the variation and changes of the technique was even more mysterious and very fast.

Lu Xiaofeng twisted his waist to evade, suddenly her hand already threatened the yuzhen [lit. jade pillow] acupoint at the back of his head.

Yuzhen acupoint is the most important among vital acupoints on human bodies. Even if it was hit by ordinary person, the effect would be unbearable. Lu Xiaofeng sighed silently; he concentrated his strength on both arms, ready to strike the formidable enemy so that both sides would perish together.

Who would have thought that in that indescribable split second, Beef Soup suddenly cried out in surprise? Her whole body flew backward and hit the stone wall, Minister He’s body also flew out of the door, only after a long while did they finally heard a crash. Apparently he also crashed against the stone wall, and the crash was a lot heavier.

Someone appeared in front of Lu Xiaofeng, his smiling expression was cordial and kind; surprisingly, it was the Little Old Man.

What move did he use that in a split second he was able to fling Beef Soup and Minister He away like that? Even Lu Xiaofeng, who had keen eyes, could not see it clearly. It was only now that Lu Xiaofeng realized that this Little Old Man was such a martial art expert that he had never seen in his life before.

Beef Soup already stood up. She seemed to be astonished, but was also very angry.

The Little Old Man smiled and asked tenderly, “Are you hurt?”

Beef Soup shook her head.

The Little Old Man said, “In that case, you must be drunk just like Minister He, way too drunk. Otherwise, how could you forget what I told you?”

His voice was even gentler, but Beef Soup’s eyes suddenly showed fear.

The Little Old Man said, “Drunk people should be lying in bed, you also ought to go to bed.”

Immediately Beef Soup left with her head hung low. When she walked past Lu Xiaofeng, she suddenly smiled. Her smile was very sweet. Anybody who saw her smiling would never have imagined that she was the same person who just now was bent on putting Lu Xiaofeng to death.

Even Lu Xiaofeng himself could not imagine that.

Watching her walked out, the Little Old Man suddenly asked, “Do you know what her nickname is?”

Lu Xiaofeng did not know. Naturally her nickname was not ‘Beef Soup’.

The Little Old Man said, “She is called ‘Honeybee’!”

“Honeybee?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Exactly,” the Little Old Man said, “The Honeybee who after mating with the male would swallow her lover into her tummy.”

Lu Xiaofeng blushed.

But the Little Old Man’s laughter was very cheerful, “I know that as a father, I should not criticize my daughter like that,” he said, “But I want you to know why she is bent on killing you.” He patted Lu Xiaofeng’s shoulder, “You should understand by now that all these were not my idea.”

Lu Xiaofeng probed further, “So it was because these were not your idea that I am able to make it this far?”

The Little Old Man did not deny at all; he said with a smile, “Killing people is not a difficult matter, but killing people using sophisticated technique, now that’s not an easy thing to do.”

His hand lightly pushed the stone wall, immediately a door appeared, the furnishing inside the room was elegant and graceful. He led Lu Xiaofeng inside, took a crystal wine bottle from a cupboard hanging on the wall, and leisurely said, “Grape wine in luminous cup, this one I especially had people sent in from Persia, you try it.”

He also took a flat-bottomed square goblet, inside was some kind of dark, blackish-colored thick paste; he said with a smile, “This is butterfly shark’s egg. North of Kunlun, a lot of people call it ‘Caviar’. The idea was to make fish eggs into thick paste and eat it to accompany the wine. The flavor is exceptionally good.”

Lu Xiaofeng was unable to bear not to have a taste. His mouth only tasted something fishy and salty, not an especially good thing to eat.

The Little Old Man said, “Butterfly sharks were super abundant ten million years ago, but recently extinct. It was mentioned in the ‘Mao Shi Yi Shu’ [don’t ask, I don’t know what it is. Mao – coarse/unfinished, Shi – poem, Yi – righteousness, Shu – commentary/annotation.]: ‘The big ones are King Tuna, the small ones are Tail Tuna, the proper fish to be drawn in the present day from rivers of the capital-level of all regions’. The ‘Compendium of Medical Herbs[2]’ and ‘Mr. Lu’s Spring and Autumn Annals[3]’ also have written account related to this fish. Try it again, you’ll find out its different flavor.”

Apparently not only this Little Old Man was extremely particular about fine food, he was also an elegant scholar who read extensively the Book of Songs and the Book of History.

Lu Xiaofeng simply had to have another taste. Sure enough, other than the fishy and salty taste, there was another indescribable flavor, delicious and exquisite.

The Little Old Man said, “I brought this back myself the last time I went to Fusang Islands. Not much is left. It seems that I will have to make another trip over there soon.”

“Do you go there often?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

The Little Old Man nodded and said, “Nowadays Fusang country is under Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s rule[4]. This man is a formidable and ruthless character with enormous ambition; he has had the desire to lay his hands on our country and Korea for a long time.”

His laughter was even more cheerful as he continued, “Those pearls and jewels outside are actually a special gift from an important person in our imperial court for him, but I intercepted it midway.”

“Did you rig the Old Fox’s boat that it capsized?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

The Little Old Man’s expression turned serious as he replied, “How can I do such a crude thing? I just happen to know that a storm would happen on the sea at that particular time.”

Storms at sea can be predicted. It was clear that this Little Old Man also had done extensive study on astronomy and meteorology. Lu Xiaofeng felt more and more that not only this Little Old Man was a genius of the current age, his martial art and literature knowledge was also very deep and immeasurable. He could not help but probing him further, “Hence you intentionally delayed and prolonged the Old Fox’s ship-loading process so that his ship would be caught in that storm?”

The Little Old Man said, “Unfortunately I still miscalculated by half a day so that I had no choice but to force him to come back to get fresh water.”

All the sailors on the Old Fox’s ship were experienced veterans, how could they forget such an important matter like loading fresh water?

It was only then did Lu Xiaofeng understand the peculiarity of this matter.

The Little Old Man continued, “The hardest thing was to make the ship perished right at the emerging warm current.”

“Why?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

The Little Old Man explained, “Because this warm current flowed toward our island, so that after the storm, it would transport the ship’s cargo here, basically we did not need to act at all.” He smiled, and then continued, “It was also because of this warm current that you could come here.”

“Why did you have to take all those trouble?” Lu Xiaofeng asked, “Wouldn’t robbing the ship be a lot more convenient?”

“Because I am not a robber,” the Little Old Man said matter-of-factly, “Robbing goods and boarding ships are the things that pirates do. For me, it’s not worth doing at all.”

Lu Xiaofeng sighed. This seemingly inexplicable matter, now he finally understood half of it. Obviously Yue Yang was working for him; he knew early on that the ship would meet with danger, hence he repeatedly blocked Lu Xiaofeng, not letting Lu Xiaofeng to ride on the ship, so much so that he even beat Lu Xiaofeng off the ship.

The Little Old Man laughed and said, “If those pearls and jewels were delivered to Fusang, there will be a big mess in our Central Earth. Although I have lived overseas for a long time, my heart is still with the old country. By doing this thing, I did not do it entirely for my own sake.”

“How did you know about this matter?” Lu Xiaofeng asked, “Who’s the important person in our imperial court who’s in collusion with Toyotomi Hideyoshi?”

The Little Old Man took his time sipping his wine, nibbled at the butterfly shark’s eggs, and then slowly said, “In our line of business, there are four words that we must not forget!”

“And those four words are?” Lu Xiaofeng prompted.

The Little Old Man said, “Guard your mouth like a closed bottle.” [Orig. shou kou ru ping – four characters]

Lu Xiaofeng finally asked him the question he had been dying to ask, “What is actually your line of business?”

“Murder!” the Little Old Man replied.

He spoke plainly and was completely at ease. Although Lu Xiaofeng has had a vague guess, he still could not help but was shocked.

The Little Old Man said, “This is the second oldest profession in the world, but it is far more stimulating, far more colorful, far more exciting than the oldest profession!” He laughed, and then said, “Also, the revenue in this line of business is definitely better.”

“What is the oldest profession in the world?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Prostitution,” the Little Old Man replied. He laughed again before continuing, “Since time immemorial, women have mastered the skill of prostitution, they prostitute themselves using all kinds of methods, but murder can only be done using one method.”

“There is only one?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

“Absolutely only one,” the Little Old Man replied.

“Which one?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

The Little Old Man replied, “The one that is absolutely safe.” And then he added, “After committing the murder, not only we have to escape unscathed, we must absolutely not leaving any trace either. Therefore, although there are many tools that can be used in murder, there is absolutely only one proper method to do it.”

He used the word ‘absolutely’ three times in a row to emphasis the exactitude of this matter. And then he continued, “This matter not only requires a great deal of skill, it also requires a very precise plan, enormous intelligence and patience; therefore, for the last several years, the number of people qualified enough to join this line of business has become less and less.”

“What qualification can be considered enough?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

The Little Old Man replied, “First, their own lives must be clean.”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “To be killer, why must they have a clean life?”

The Little Old Man said, “Because if there is the slightest bit of bad record in his life, there will be people who will suspect him before and after the murder. Just in case someone investigates his movements, it will be hard for us to avoid being implicated.”

Lu Xiaofeng sighed. “Makes sense,” he said. It was only now that he understood that only those with clean lives are qualified enough to kill.

The Little Old Man continued, “Second, naturally they must have enormous intelligence and patience. Third, they must be able to bear hardships and willing to work hard, enduring humiliation as part of an important mission. Those who love to enjoy the limelight absolutely cannot be in this line of business.”

“Therefore,” Lu Xiaofeng said, “Those in this line of business must be nameless people.”

The Little Old Man said, “Not only they must be nameless, they must be invisible as well.”

Lu Xiaofeng’s heart was moved, “Invisible? How can a person be invisible?”

“There are many ways for a person to be invisible,” the Little Old Man replied, “It’s not magic at all.”

“I don’t understand,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

The Little Old Man raised his wine cup and said, “Can you see clearly, what’s inside this cup?”

“It’s a cup of wine,” Lu Xiaofeng replied. Naturally he could see clearly that it was a cup of wine.

The Little Old Man said, “If you cannot see clearly, won’t this cup of wine be invisible?”

Lu Xiaofeng pondered deeply. He seemed to understand this logic, yet he was not completely clear.

The Little Old Man said, “When the foam enter the ocean, the cup of wine is poured back into the wine pot, it’s the same as it is being invisible, because people cannot see it, they cannot find it even more. Some people are just like that.”

He smiled before continuing, “As soon as these people blend into a sea of people, it will be the same as a grain of rice sneaking into a shi [unit of (dry) volume, approx. 100 liters/22.7 (dry) gallon] of rice. Anybody who wants to find them will find it super difficult. Won’t that be the same as being invisible?”

“Phew!” Lu Xiaofeng whistled. With a bitter laugh he said, “In normal times, even if you walk back and forth in front of me, I will never see anything special about you.”

The Little Old Man rubbed his palms together and said, “Exactly. I knew you would understand.”

“Other than that,” Lu Xiaofeng said, “There is another way.”

“Oh?” the Little Old Man said.

Lu Xiaofeng said, “If you have another identity, for example, if you are a big hero of the river and ocean [i.e. the world], then you are tantamount to being invisible; because people would only see your identity as the big hero, they would never see you as a murderer or an assassin.”

“I told you one and you understood three,” the Little Old Man exclaimed, “Like children who are open to instruction!” And then he continued, “But, even if someone meets all these qualifications, it is still not enough.”

“What else must he have?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

The Little Old Man said, “To be in this line of business, he must have a singular animal instinct, his reflex must be unusually quick; before the real danger arrives, he must already be prepared. Therefore, after I found such a man, I have to test him whether he has this kind of quality or not?”

“What kind of test?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

The Little Old Man replied, “Only in a life and death crisis would a man display his entire ability; hence I must let him meet all kinds of danger.”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “Are you saying that you need to have all kinds of people to plot against him?”

“Correct,” the Little Old Man replied.

At last Lu Xiaofeng understood. “Those people who plotted against Yue Yang, did you send them out to test him?” he asked.

“That’s right,” the Little Old Man replied.

Lu Xiaofeng said, “If he did not pass the test, won’t he die under those people’s hands?”

The Little Old Man flatly said, “If he could not stand all those tests, and then later on he died in a mission, it would be better if he died early, so as to avoid implicating other people.”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “That one-eyed old fisherman and that horse-faced man, were they your subordinates?”

The Little Old Man said, “They were no more than the shell outside the walnut, the skin outside the fruit. They would never be able to come in contact with the core.”

“Your daughter killed them,” Lu Xiaofeng said, “It was because they revealed their identity in my presence?”

The Little Old Man sighed and said, “My daughter is very talented, her only flaw is that she likes to kill people too much.”

“What about Minister He?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

The Little Old Man said, “I told you: she is very talented, especially in dealing with men.”

Lu Xiaofeng finally understood. Minister He wanted to kill him, it was only to curry Beef Soup’s favor.

The Little Old Man said with a bitter laugh, “It’s just that this kind of talent is purely an inborn talent; in some places she is not like me at all.”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “But her ‘Adaptable Orchid Hand’ can’t be an inborn talent.”

Adaptable Orchid Hand and Bone-transforming Cotton Palm are the same, both require long training where someone must pass on the secret theory behind it. Recently, not only nobody in Jianghu was able to use it, nobody has even seen it either.

The Little Old Man took a sip of his wine again before replying unhurriedly, “Her aptitude in learning martial art is not bad, it’s just that her strength is a bit too weak; therefore, I only taught her one or two martial art skills.”

Lu Xiaofeng’s heart was moved, “You taught her the Adaptable Orchid Hand?” he asked.

The Little Old Man smiled and said, “This martial art skill is not difficult at all. Some people would never master it even if they train forever. But as long as you understand the key, plus a bit of intelligence and patience, you would be able to master it at most for five years.”

Lu Xiaofeng’s voice cracked, “Only five years and she already mastered it?”

The Little Old Man said, “In the old days, when the Ruyi Fairy, who was equally famous with Huagu Deity[5], trained this martial art, she only spent three years. My daughter loves leisure and hates hard work, yet she only trained for five years.”

Ruyi Fairy was an unequalled talent of the Wulin world; no matter which school or sect’s martial art, as long as she saw it twice, she would master it. But when her own daughter practiced this Adaptable Orchid Hand, she spent the whole thirty years, before finally she became both mentally and physically exhausted, threw up some blood, and died. Beef Soup only trained for five years to master it, it could already be considered a wonder.

Lu Xiaofeng could not help not to ask, “When you train this martial art, how long did you take to master it?”

“I was a bit quicker,” the Little Old Man replied.

“How much quicker?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

The Little Old Man hesitated, as if he was reluctant to say it; however, Lu Xiaofeng was insistent, he simply must have the answer [orig. ‘smashing an earthenware pot, asking to the end’].

Finally the Little Old Man laughed and said, “It took me only three months.”

Lu Xiaofeng stared at him blankly.

“The Bone-transforming Cotton Palm is a lot harder,” the Little Old Man said, “I had to train for more than a year before mastering it somewhat. Finger Blade and Hazy Strength Skill are not easy either. As for those martial art that rely on style variation to score a victory, all of those are no more than cheap trick that the children use.”

He played down his achievements, but Lu Xiaofeng listened to him with his eyes opened wide and his jaw dropped.

If a man was really proficient in those martial arts, it was indeed a miracle of miracles; it was simply inconceivable.

Lu Xiaofeng could not help asking, “Those martial arts that you mentioned, do you master all those?”

“I can’t really say that I master them,” the little old man said, “I only know very little about them.”

Lu Xiaofeng said, “Minister He, the moustache, and the others, did you teach them martial arts?”

The little old man said, “They only know a bit of superficial skill, it can’t be considered anything.”

Lu Xiaofeng sighed; forcing a smile, he said, “Their martial art skills, I have seen those. Any one of them can be considered a martial art expert in Jianghu. If even they cannot be considered anything, won’t those famous heroes in Jianghu become rubbish?”

The little old man indifferently said, “Those people are indeed rubbish.”

If other people said those words, Lu Xiaofeng would definitely think that he was an arrogant lunatic. But since those words came from the little old man’s mouth, Lu Xiaofeng could only keep his mouth shut.

The little old man poured a cup of wine for him. He said, “I know that you made your name very early, and now you are even more famous. There is something I’ve always wanted to ask you.”

“If I know the answer, I would definitely answer it,” Lu Xiaofeng said.

“In your opinion,” the little old man said, “If someone wants to be famous, is it extremely difficult?”

Lu Xiaofeng did not need to think; he immediately replied, “Not difficult.”

The little old man asked, “People like you and me, if we want to stay nameless forever?”

Lu Xiaofeng replied, “That would have been very difficult.”

Sometimes fame is just like disease, when it wants to come, nobody can resist it.

The little old man chuckled and said, “You are a smart man, that’s why you are able to say that. Seeking fame is indeed not difficult; if I had that desire, I could have shaken the world before I was sixteen.”

Lu Xiaofeng only listened in silence.

The little old man continued, “By now you should have understood why I told you all these things.”

Lu Xiaofeng took a deep breath. “You want me to join you in this line of business?” he said.

The little old man said, “Your fame is precisely your cover. Just like you said, other people only see you as Lu Xiaofeng, nobody would see you as a murderer.”

Without waiting for Lu Xiaofeng to reply, he added, “The people that I want to kill are all the people who deserve to die; I would never let you to have a guilty conscience. Your talent and intelligence far surpass Yue Yang’s. I do need people like you, but I never wish to force you against your will.”

Lu Xiaofeng exhaled slowly. “Do I have a choice in this matter?” he asked.

“Of course you do,” the little old man replied, “Not only that, you may take your time to consider it carefully. Once you are convinced, you may give me your answer.”

He smiled, and then continued, “Right now you are a very wealthy person, I am sure you will enjoy living here. I can guarantee you that from now on, nobody will give you any trouble.”

“Is it alright for me to take more time to consider?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

The little old man replied, “Of course you may. I will not give you any time limit at all, I will not limit your movement either. Whatever you wish to do, wherever you wish to go, you may go.”

He stood up, but suddenly laughed and said, “I only want to warn you of one thing.”

“What is it?” Lu Xiaofeng asked.

The little old man said, “Beware of the honeybee.”

[1] Another play on words. The character ‘tong’ in Ge Tong’s name means ‘go through/open/clear’.

[2] Compendium of Medical Herbs, compiled by Li Shizen, 1596.

[3] Mr. Lu’s Spring and Autumn Annals, compiled ca. 239 BC under the patronage of Qin Dynasty Chancellor Lu Buwei.

[4] Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598), Japanese warlord, undisputed ruler of Japan, 1590-1598.

[5] Ruyi means ‘as one wishes’, which I translated as ‘adaptable’ in the ‘Adaptable Orchid Hand’. Huagu means ‘bone transforming’. Actually, the original uses ‘Xianzi’ for Ruyi, and ‘Xianren’ for Huagu. Both means ‘deity’ or ‘celestial being’ or ‘Daoist immortal’.

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