Book 2 Chapter 5 – Madame Dong Ming
‘Splash! Splash!’ One after another the two boys fell into the water.
The moment just before they entered the water, they saw three fast boats speeding toward them. There were several thugs on each boat, each one had a long punting pole equipped with sharp hook in his hand, they were shouting curses and swearing cuss words at the two boys as they came.
In the water, Kou Zhong knew that Xu Ziling’s water skill was not as good as his, so he desperately pulled him to dive toward the bottom of the big ship. Only by using the big ship as shield would they be able to evade the enemy’s punting poles. As for how to take a breath, at this time he still did not bother about it.
By the time the two boys reached the depth where the bottom of the ship was, the oxygen in their lungs had been depleted. They wanted to float up, but were hitting the keel. Being unprepared, they nearly died of suffocation; while they were at a loss, suddenly a stream of qi erupted. The two were pleased beyond their imagination; together they swam toward the stern.
By the time this new qi was also depleted, another stream of qi was automatically generated from within their body. This time the two boys noticed that this strange qi was not dropped from the sky at all, but rather, it was generated by their body’s true qi. It grew and multiplied unendingly that the two boys enjoyed its tremendous benefits. At this moment, they had already forgotten about how to deal with the enemy on the surface.
Xu Ziling felt strange heat appeared from the sole of his right foot, while cold stream steeped in from the sole of his left foot. The true qi surged and continuously circulated within his body, causing him to automatically channel his true qi according to the diagram in the ‘Secret to Long Life’. At the same time his vision brightened considerably that he could see the dark shadow of the hulls above him, big and small, different from each other, as if it was a pattern.
Kou Zhong’s experience was virtually the same; it’s just that the true qi originated from the Tian Ling acupoint on the top of his head.
The two of them moved about slowly in the deep water, approximately four zhang below the sea surface. Each time they stretched out their limbs, the true qi in their body circulated one time in perfect harmony [orig. seamless heavenly clothes].
The true qi was self-generating perpetually, without giving them the feeling of suffocation.
After swimming for nobody knows how long, they crawled up onto the beach far away from the docks.
The sun was about to set, the two boys lying side-by-side on the sandy beach, laughing heartily.
Gasping for breath, Kou Zhong said, “I didn’t know our internal strength is that formidable, without taking a breath we could swim that far, perhaps we could even swim to the other side of the ocean, without even have to pay for the ship fare.”
Xu Ziling was enjoying the glow of the setting sun; stretching lazily, he said, “Right now I feel my body in full of energy. This is a good time to steal.”
Kou Zhong sat up excitedly and looked around. He saw the dock in the distance, about four, five li away, hidden behind the towering sail masts, while where they were was a wild, mountainous country, with no man in sight for as far as they could see. He laughed and said, “Tonight we will swim back toward the dock behind the salt warehouse and think of a way to get in to steal some salt. And then we will transport it by boat. If anybody catches up with us, ‘splash!’ we will jump into the water, and play hide-and-seek with them underwater.”
Zu Xiling also sat up, stretched out his arms and legs, and said, “If there are tigers right now, I feel like I can kill a few. That Madame is so strange; we were talking nicely, suddenly she drove us out. Humph! Does she think we are ugly? Why is it that other than Susu Jiejie, other women always think that our appearance is not pleasing to the eye?”
Kou Zhong wrapped his arm around his shoulder and said with a laugh, “The reason is very simple: because they are afraid they can’t help falling in love with us, to such an extent as they won’t be able to extricate themselves. Ha!”
By the time they finished laughing hard to console themselves for a while, the sun has not disappeared behind the western hills yet. But during that time the two boys’ clothes have dried out.
Upon looking at each other, they both realized that their hair was disheveled, their clothes in disarray, and they looked exactly like a couple of beggars. Suddenly both realized that they did not wish to go back to the water.
Kou Zhong quickly found an excuse, “Tomorrow we’ll figure out which water route to take before stealing the salt. Right now while the city gate is not closed yet, let’s return to the city to find a decent hotel and then have a good dinner, and then we can slowly think about our first big endeavor to make a fortune.”
Xu Ziling did not want to go back to the water any time soon either, he nodded in agreement.
The two boys walked back toward the city gate. They felt their body was lighter than usual, at least by half; their speed was also increasing, also by half. Their eyes and ears were a lot more keen than usual, they did not feel that the darkness was too much different than daytime.
Naturally they did not know that when they were underwater just now, they had accidentally entered the realm of endless qi circulation of Taoist internal energy cultivation, and had had an early glimpse of first-class qigong [system of deep breathing exercises] mystery.
Although the number of people practicing Taoism is too many too count, those that are able to achieve fine internal breathing state are actually not too many.
It was called ‘external qi not exhausted, internal breathing not generated’.
If they were not in such a special situation like being underwater, without the guidance of a good master, the two boys might not be able to make such a break through this period of difficulty even if they tried hard their entire life. But by lucky coincidence, they had taken the most important step in martial art study. From uncultured stone into fine jade, far surpassing the limitation of their age.
The two boys took a cold bath in the hotel. When they got back to the street, they realized for the first time that nightlife in this town was more lively than that of Yangzhou. There was endless stream of horse and carriages, a sign of thriving city.
The women on the street were even more gorgeously dressed [orig. lovely scene of blossoming flowers swaying in the breeze], they did not appear to be afraid of men’s gaze. The two boys feasted their eyes endlessly with unspeakable delight.
After having their stomach filled, the two boys’ excitement grew, they went out to join the crowd.
Kou Zhong was craning his neck to look into the inside of one of the pleasure houses when Xu Ziling suddenly pulled him toward a nearby alley. He pointed to the street and said, “It’s the Ol’ Liu! Ah! Isn’t that the Fu Duozhu of the Haisha Gang Tan Yong by his side?”
Stunned, Kou Zhong looked at the direction he indicated. Sure enough, he saw a group of men gathered inside a store across the street, each one carried a weapon, and two of the men were precisely Tan Yong and the Ol’ Liu, who were standing next to each other, the former was giving instruction to the latter, while Ol’ Liu nodded his head continuously. The ones called Xie Feng and Chen Gui were standing behind these two.
Upon looking more clearly, they found out that the store was actually an external-injury clinic; it appeared that this place must be one of their hideouts.
“What are they talking about?” Xu Ziling wondered aloud.
The two boys could not resist straining their ears trying to listen. Suddenly Tan Yong’s voice ringing faintly in their ears, “Boss [orig. long tou, dragon head] will arrive on the third watch [midnight, between 11pm-1am] tonight. Strange thing is, why couldn’t we find the bodies of those two little demons?”
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling jumped in shock; they did not expect to really be able to hear Tan Yong. The two sides were separated by more than three zhang distance, plus the street was clamoring with all kinds of noises jumbled together; yet they were clearly able to hear Tan Yong’s voice.
The two boys were very excited. But when they wanted to listen further, they could not hear anything.
Kou Zhong happily said, “It seems that our skill is improving tremendously. But I wonder: Ol’ Liu and Tan Yong have been in collusion from the start to frame us. Apparently Ol’ Liu pretended to be the bad guy, and then Tan Yong posed as the good guy who helps us out of trouble. But later on Tan Yong incited Ol’ Liu to kill us.”
Xu Ziling’s thought process was more meticulous. “At that time they still did not know what we are Wulin’s martial art masters who are able to hit Ol’ Liu until he could not crawl back up; so why did they pay particular attention to us?” he wondered.
Even with Kou Zhong’s quick-thinking, he was still at a loss. “It doesn’t matter what they are going to do, the point is that they want to harm us,” he said in a low voice, “Jianghu people live by the rule, ‘enmity must be avenged’. Tan Yong might be difficult to deal with, but Ol’ Liu is very easy to beat. We simply need to stalk him, as soon as we find he is alone, we can strike both to teach him a lesson and to rob his mother’s purse; as well as to help us buy a couple of sharp sabers. Henceforth we need not be afraid to meet and fight those guys.”
Not only Xu Ziling was not afraid, he found it very amusing instead.
Chapter 5 Part 2
DongBin, HPC, Bocah, Anh, you are welcome. Jaya, my understanding is that they did not even master Nine Mysteries at all. By strange coincidence (i.e. plot ) they followed the Secret to Long Life based on what Fu Junchuo taught them, so it was a hybrid skill. Sky, truth be told, I don't like Canada much, prices are more expensive there. But this time we only visited relatives. Left home in the morning, around 9, and back home before 5 in the evening. Zlack, so far Huang Yi has introduced quite a number of female characters, but IMHO, none has good potential to become strong female lead. Of course, since I have not finished reading, there is a good chance that I am wrong. My point is, in many other wuxia stories, the female lead is introduced quite early. Here's end of Chapter 5 (Weed, I got it right this time).
While he was about to reply, Ol’ Liu came out of the shop, followed by two men. They were heading to the left.
The two boys’ eyes fell on the broadsword hanging on the two men’s waists. The temptation of obtaining these sabers far surpassed their guts in dealing with the three men. Clenching their teeth, they decided to follow these three men.
Ol’ Liu, three men, strutted down the street; passers-by simply avoided them by walking on the other side; clearly they were the ‘people-see, people-afraid’ type of characters. When they came across five or six government officers, they even stopped and stood in the middle of the street, whispering to each other for a while, before they finally turned into a dark, secluded alley perpendicular to the main street.
The two boys exchanged a ‘come-on, be brave’ look at each other, and then they pursued on.
Upon entering the alley, they found out that the three people have vanished.
Kou Zhong pulled Xu Ziling toward a wooden door of someone’s rear courtyard; he whispered, “They must have come into this backyard, otherwise, how could they disappear just like that? Shall we come in to have a look?”
Xu Ziling was aghast, “What if there are other Haisha Bang people inside?” he asked.
Kou Zhong sighed. “Just consider Ol’ Liu is lucky tonight!”
Xu Ziling said, “If we go back to the hotel, we are only going to sleep anyway; how about waiting here for a moment?”
Kou Zhong sat down on the ground at the corner of the alley; he laughed and said, “I feel like we are back in Yangzhou, when we were bored, we simply sat down and chatted for half a day. Ha! We finally enter the Jianghu and roam the world.”
Xu Ziling sat down next to him and said in a low voice, “Haisha Bang seems to have a lot of power around here; even the porters at the dock have to obey their orders. Isn’t sea sand [hai sha] referring to sea salt [hai yan]? To be able to gain control over salt trading in here, they must be very powerful and extremely rich; what could they possibly want from a couple of poor kids like us?”
Kou Zhong had a new level of respect for him; he said, “I haven’t thought about it as thoroughly as you did; fortunately we have decided to steal the salt, otherwise, I am afraid we can’t afford to buy even a grain of salt.”
And then he continued excitedly, “The most important thing right now is getting rich. If we have money, we can go looking for Susu Jiejie; if she has not married Li Dage yet, she can marry us. Jiejie is pretty, and she is kind-hearted too; to have her as our wife, we would be very happy indeed.”
Xu Ziling laughed and scolded him, “Chatting and laughing cannot be too much; how can Jiejie marry two persons at the same time? Are you saying we should sleep together in one bed at night? I don’t want it.”
Kou Zhong sighed and said, “The most important thing in life is to find comfort for oneself. We have not even touched women’s breasts yet, how can there be men as useless as we are? Hee! If we can seize those two sidekicks of Ol’ Liu, why can’t we go to the pleasure house and be merry?”
Xu Ziling snapped, “And at that time, if we do not immediately leave the city, Haisha Bang will chop us to pieces; how can we be merry then?”
Kou Zhong was jolted, “Someone’s coming!”
Xu Ziling pricked up his ear and listened carefully; sure enough, he heard footsteps behind the wooden door. The two boys sprang up and stood on either side of the wooden door, while their hearts were pounding wildly.
Ol’ Liu’s voice was heard from behind the door, “Xiao Hua really knows how to make men lose their soul and rock their spirit; no wonder although Er Ye [second master] is so busy that he is spouting smoke through his seven orifices, he still have us deliver the swallow’s nest to coax her.”
The other man said, “I was also itching all over to see her; if not for Dong Ming Pai [eastern sea sect] people came, I would immediately go to a low-grade brothel and have a woman taming the fire in me.”
Ol’ Liu laughed lecherously, “I heard Madame Dong Ming, Shan Mei [sole beauty] Xianren [immortal/celestial being/fairy or goddess] is just like her name, she is as beautiful as an immortal [usually female]. I hope her skill in bed is not inferior to her martial art skill.”
The other man, who had not spoken so far, suddenly said, “I don’t care how good her skill in bed is, would she even give us the time of the day? After the Boss, there is Second Boss; everybody’s lining up, I doubt that you, Ol’ Liu, will get your turn.”
Three men laughed lewdly.
‘Squeak!’ The wooden door was pushed open. Totally unsuspecting, Ol’ Liu walked out.
‘Bang! Bang!’ The two men behind him received a couple of punches from behind the door; with a miserable ‘Oomph’ they fell backward.
As Ol’ Liu turned around in surprise, the pit of his stomach also received a couple of punches, sending him rolling around on the ground in terrible pain.
The two boys did not expect it would be this easy to deal with these three men.
Kou Zhong stretched out his neck to look inside, but all he could see was a quiet little garden with no one in sight. Not far from the garden, there was a small two-story building; the door was closed, but there was lantern light penetrating through the cracks. Signaling Xu Ziling, together they dragged the three men inside.
Other than Ol’ Liu, the other two men were unconscious, with blood all over their faces. Skillfully the two boys loosened up the three men’s belt and tied them securely.
After taking away their broadswords and purses, they grabbed Ol’ Liu. “Do you remember us?” Kou Zhong asked with a laugh.
Ol’ Liu was still so much in pain that his face was twisted, his muscle trembled. “Daye [big master] please spare my life!” he groaned.
Kou Zhong pulled out a broadsword and pressed it across his neck; with an ugly face he shot a string of foul language, and then he asked, “I will ask you a question, and you will honestly give me an answer; or else I’ll cut your throat. But it will be a little cut, just enough to bleed you to death.”
By this time Ol’ Liu already had a good view of them; he was aghast. “Didn’t you drown?” he asked.
‘Pow!’ Xu Ziling rewarded him with a slap on the face, instilling fear on him.
“You are allowed only to reply, not to ask question,” he said, “Haisha Bang’s salt warehouse, where are they? Don’t beat around the bush. I’ll interrogate your brothers later, and then I’ll know if you told me a lie.”
Kou Zhong praised him inwardly; this was the technique Du Fuwei used against them. Busily he increased the pressure of the saber against Ol’ Liu’s neck and hissed, “Answer quickly!”
Ol’ Liu could only mumbled ‘uh, uh, ah, ah’, but no words came out of his mouth.
Xu Ziling said irritably, “You saber presses onto his throat, how is he going to speak?”
Sheepishly Kou Zhong pulled his saber back a little.
Betting on their young age, Ol’ Liu tried to be brave, “If you kill me, I guarantee you won’t leave this place alive,” he said.
Xu Ziling laughed and said, “Aren’t you going to deal with Dong Ming Pai tonight? How can your gang people have time to pay us any attention right now? By the time they discover your three dead bodies, we will already be far away from here.”
Kou Zhong exposed his bragging, “Don’t blow your own horn; didn’t we offend you today? Why are we still alive and well? Alright! Let me cut one of your fingers first, I want to see if you, this tough guy, are going to cry or not.”
“No!” Xu Ziling shook his head, “Blinding his eye will be more fun. Question is: which eye? Left? Or right?”
Immediately from a tough guy Ol’ Liu turned into wimpy guy. “Xiaoren [little/lowly one] admits defeat,” he begged for mercy, “We have eight salt warehouses in total, which one Shaoye wants to know?”
“Tell us about all eight of them in one stretch,” Kou Zhong replied, “If you hesitate one bit, you lose one eye. I am a skilled person in gouging someone’s eye.”
Terrified, Ol’ Liu talked in one breath. Kou Zhong had him repeating it several times until he was satisfied that Ol’ Liu did not lie; “Which warehouse is the closest one?” he then asked.
Helpless, Ol’ Liu told him everything.
Xu Ziling said, “What kind of sect is Dong Ming Pai, actually? Why did your Boss have to be here for them?”
Ol’ Liu hastily said, “If I tell you, would two Shaoye let me go?”
Kou Zhong said, “If you are honest, we’ll let you sleep in here for one night. But I’ll have to cut your two friends’ head to show the way we, the two dragons of Yangzhou, work.”
Of course he would not actually kill anybody; it was just the technique frequently employed by the people of the ‘dark road’ to let people know that they were not easy to deal with.
As expected, Ol’ Liu was so scared that his face turned blue and his lips purple. “Shaoye please spare my life,” he begged, “I’ll talk. But you must keep your promise, don’t hurt me.”
“Quickly talk!” Xu Ziling barked.
Ol’ Liu dejectedly said, “I only know what I heard from Er Ye. Dong Ming Pai came from an island on the other side of the ocean called Liuqiu [Ryukyu]. The Sect is predominantly female. Hey! The ship you escaped to today was precisely their ship; did you see them?” [Translator’s note: ‘they’ and ‘them’ here are feminine.]
Kou Zhong cursed, “Are you asking me, or am I asking you? Besides, we did not escape aboard, we boarded the ship. Do you think having ten fingers is too much and you think caressing women with nine fingers would be more satisfying?”
Immediately Ol’ Liu pleaded for mercy again. He then continued, “Every year around Chunfen time [Spring Equinox, 4th of the 24 solar terms, March 21 – April 4] they come to coastal regions to select young men to be brought back to Ryukyu. I don’t know why Boss wants to deal with them this year. Oh! I really don’t know the details of this matter.”
The two boys suddenly saw the light; they understood now the reason Tan Yong was interested in them, and they felt very proud of themselves. But then they recalled that in the end Madame Ryukyu Shan Mei Xianren did not select them, so they felt inferior mixed with self-pity.
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling exchanged a glance, they both lost interest in continuing the interrogation; so they tore the three men’s clothes to stuff their big mouths, and then using ‘their school’s unique skill’ they made the men bend over and tied them tightly with special rope braided from the men’s clothes so that it would not be easy for them to exert their strength. Only then did they leave unhurriedly.
Concerning the matter between Haisha Bang and Dong Ming Pai, they had neither the interest nor the power to interfere.
The only thing in their mind right now was how to stealthily loot Haisha Bang’s salt and make a fortune out of it. When that time comes, wouldn’t they be able to soar over the wide ocean and the empty sky?
 Continuing my note on Shaoye earlier, here he put himself in subordinate/servant position.