Chapter 6 - Floating northward in the endless sea

Chapter 6 image

Zhang CuiShan took a deep breath, and jumped high into the air. His Wu Dang’s lightness kung fu absorbed the best of each other sects. At this moment of life and death, he obviously used it to its full potential. As his body rose several meters into the air, Zhang CuiShan used the advanced ‘Cloud Stairs’, lightly tapped the side of the mountain, and shot up several more meters. The judge’s brush on his right hand swiftly began to make strokes upon the stone surface.

Yin SuSu turned pale upon hearing Xie Xun’s challenge towards Zhang CuiShan, after seeing Bai GuiShou, Chang JinPeng, Yuan ChangBuo, Mai Jing, Guo SanQuan, and others all died in Xie Xun’s hands. Although Zhang CuiShan has incredible kung fu skills, he’s still no match for Xie Xun. She said, “Elder Xie. Now that the Dragon Saber is in your hands, and everyone recognizes your superior kung fu, what else could you possibly want?”

Xie Xun said, “There’s an old saying regarding this saber. Do you know about it?” Yin SuSu said, “Yes, I’ve heard about it.” Xie Xun said, “It’s been said that anyone who holds this saber will rule the land. But what exactly is the secret that makes it so powerful?” Yin SuSu said, “Elder Xie is much more knowledgeable than I am. Please enlighten us.” Xie Xun said, “I don’t know either, which is why I need to find a peaceful place to find out.” Yin SuSu said, “Oh really? Elder Xie’s intelligence is unparalleled. If you can’t even figure it out, then I’m sure no one else in the world could.”

Xie Xun said, “Although I am arrogant, there are still many who are superior. For example, Shaolin’s Reverend Kong Wen…” He paused here for a moment, a hint of regret appearing on his face, “… Shaolin’s Reverends Kong Zhi and Kong Sheng, Wu Dang’s Taoist Zhang SanFeng, the leaders of E Mei and Kun Lun. All of them have unbelievable skills. Although the Qing Hai Sect lies far in the western regions, its kung fu is mysterious and exceptional. The Ming Sect’s Left and Right Messengers… Awesome! Even your Heavenly Eagle Sect’s Leader Yin, White-Browed Eagle King, is an exceptional talent. I doubt I could defeat him.”

Yin SuSu stood up and said, “Thank you for your kind words.”

Xie Xun said, “I want this saber, but so do others. Leader Yin made a mistake, for there is no one here who can match me in kung fu. He thought that Branch Leaders Bai and Chang were more than enough to handle the likes of the Sea Sand Sect or the Huge Whale Clan. But he never expected someone like me here…” Yin SuSu cut in, “It’s not that Leader Yin made a mistake. Something important came up at the last moment, so he couldn’t make it.” Xie Xun said, “That makes more sense. Had Leader Yin been here, I would’ve never came. First, because I doubt I could defeat him. Second, because we used to be old friends, so it would look quite bad for me to take saber from him openly. Leader Yin had always been a calculative person. It would seriously hinder his image for this saber to fall into my hands.” Yin SuSu, upon knowing that he was a friend of Leader Yin, decided to try to talk him out of challenging Zhang CuiShan, said, “It’s really hard to figure out how people think, how the Heaven thinks. That’s why the saying goes, ‘Planning depends on man, While success depends on Heaven’. Elder Xie really is lucky that you can obtain the saber so easily. While others who might’ve spent countless hours caculating could not.”

Xie Xun said, “After it came into existence, this saber had been in possession of countless people. Each died from owning the saber. Even though I have the saber today, what’s there to guarantee that a more powerful person wouldn’t take it from me?”

Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu looked at each other, thought that there’s something deeper behind Xie Xun’s words. Zhang CuiShan thought once again of Yu DaiYan, who was injured only because of his relationships with the Dragon Saber. While he himself is now likely to die after simply viewing this saber.

Xie Xun sighed, said, “Both of you are knowledgeable in both philosophy and martial arts, look handsome and beautiful. If I killed you, it would be like shattering two priceless porcelains, a pity really. But I have to kill you two.” Yin SuSu asked, “Why?”

Xie Xun said, “If there’s anyone left alive on this island, soon everyone will know that I had obtained the Dragon Saber. By then, many will come to take the saber away from me. I’m certainly not invincible. How could I be sure that the saber won’t be taken away? Forget others for a moment, just White-Browed Eagle King himself might possibly defeat me, not to mention all the other capable people in the Heavenly Eagle Sect who could help him.” As he spoke, he shook his head, said, “Yin TianZheng’s both outer and inner power strength and ferocity are unparalleled, and has my greatest admiration. To think, back in the days…” He sighed deeply, shook his head.

Zhang CuiShan thought, “So the leader of the Heavenly Eagle Sect is called Yin TianZheng.” He said coldly, “Are you going to kill us all to prevent any witnesses?” Xie Xun said, “That’s correct.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Then why do you have to point out the crimes of those people before killing them?” Xie Xun laughed, said, “This is so you people can die without regret, so you can die a little happier.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Looks like you’re a kind person.”

Xie Xun said, “Who in this world can escape death? What’s so different from dying a few years earlier and a few years later? It’s a shame that you two youngster, Fifth Hero Zhang and Miss Yin, would die such an early death. But in the context of history, your deaths really would mean nothing. Even had Qin Gui not killed Yue Fei back then, would Yue Fei have survived till today? One person should only ask to die in a peaceful fashion. It’s not easy for us martial artists to die without regrets. That’s why I want to challenge everyone here to their most accomplished ability, so they can die fairly. You two are still young, so I’ll give you a break. Choose any form of competition you like: weapons, fists, inner power, hidden weapons, lightness kung fu, underwater kung fu, whatever. I’ll agree to anything.”

Yin SuSu said, “Well, aren’t you arrogant. Anything’s ok?” From Xie Xun’s words, she knew that there’s no chance to escape. WangPan Island is isolated from everywhere else. With two Branch Leaders on hand, the Heavenly Eagle Sect would certainly not feel that reinforcements are needed. So although her words are sharp, her tone was quite uneasy.

Xie Xun thought, “Wait a minute. What if she proposes that we compete in embroidery? Or brushing hair or applying makeup? Then what do I do?” So he said, “Obviously it must be a martial arts competition. Or did you want to compete in eating and drinking? Actually, I’d probably win in those competitions too. Alas, I really don’t want to kill a lovely young couple like yourselves.”

Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu’s faces both turned red upon hearing the words ‘a lovely young couple’.

Yin SuSu’s elegant expression turned to a frown, asked, “If you lose, will you commit suicide too?” Xie Xun said with a smile, “How can I lose?” Yin SuSu said, “There’s always a chance to lose in any competition. This Fifth Hero Zhang is a renowned disciple. He just might be better than you at something.” Xie Xun said, “Even if he knows exquisite techniques, there’s no way his inner power is close to mine.”

While they conversed, Zhang CuiShan thought, “What should I choose to compete with him? Lightness Kung fu? My newly learnt fist form?” Suddenly he thought of something, and asked, “Elder Xie, if you force me to fight, then I shall agree to one. Should I lose, I will commit suicide immediately in front of Elder Xie. But what if we drew?”

Xie Xun said, “Then we compete in something else, until there is a winner.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Fine. Should I win, I won’t ask you to commit suicide, just to grant me a single request.” Xie Xun said, “Agreed. Now state your rules.”

Yin SuSu said with great concern, “What are you going to compete in? How sure are you of success?” Zhang CuiShan whispered, “Not sure. I can only try my best.” Yin SuSu whispered, “If you lose, then lets try to escape.”

Zhang CuiShan did not respond, thought, “Where can we escape now that the boats have all sunk?” He adjusted his robe and took out his Iron Judge’s Brush. Xie Xun said, “I’ve heard that you are known as ‘Iron Brush and Silver Hook Zhang CuiShan’. Where’s your Silver Tiger Hook? Why not take it out.”

Zhang CuiShan said, “I don’t want to fight you, just compete in writing some words.” As he spoke he walked over to a high, mountain, with a smooth cliff. Zhang CuiShan took a deep breath, and jumped high into the air. His Wu Dang’s lightness kung fu absorbed the best of each other sects. At this moment of life and death, he obviously used it to its full potential. As his body rose several meters into the air, Zhang CuiShan used the advanced ‘Cloud Stairs’, lightly tapped the side of the mountain, and shot up several more meters. The judge’s brush on his right hand swiftly began to make strokes upon the stone surface. Quickly, the word ‘martial’ appeared. After he finished, he began to drop down.

At this moment his left hand took out his silver hook, which quickly held on to the side of the cliff, allowing him to regain his balance. Then his right hand wrote out the world ‘world’. Each word contained all of Zhang SanFeng’s original ideas from that night, encompassing both hard and soft techniques. The words demonstrated some of the deepest martial arts philosophies of the Wu Dang style. Although the words aren’t deeply etched due to Zhang CuiShan’s shallow inner power, the speed and detail in which he wrote them are incredible.

When finished, Zhang CuiShan followed it with the word ‘most’, and ‘venerable’. He began to write faster and faster, only to see dusts falling down the cliff, until twenty-four characters were etched onto cliff. This engraving really seemed like Li Bai’s poem [1] .

When Zhang CuiShan finished writing the last character, ‘compete’, he pushed off on the cliffs with both the brush and the hook. With a flip in midair, landed by Yin SuSu’s side.

Xie Xun kept on staring at the words, after a long, long moment of silence, he finally sighed, said, “I can’t write that. I lost.”

For you see, the way these twenty-four words were written involved ideas that only Zhang SanFeng thought up of. Each stroke contains a powerful technique. Even Zhang SanFeng himself, before the night he invented these techniques, would be hard pressed to duplicate Zhang CuiShan’s work. Xie Xun obviously did not know the details regarding the origins of Zhang CuiShan’s writing. He only thought that Zhang CuiShan wrote these exact words out of inspiration, upon seeing the Dragon Saber. Had Zhang CuiShan been forced to write any other words, he would not be able to create such a great piece of composition.

Yin SuSu clapped her hands loudly, yelled, “You lost, can’t go back on your promise.”

Xie Xun looked at Zhang CuiShan, said, “Fifth Hero Zhang’s calligraphy really is one of a kind. I’ve never thought I’d see anything like this. You have my admiration. What do you demand?” Because of his promise, Xie Xun had to say this, but he obviously did not wish to in his heart.

* * *

Zhang CuiShan said, “When it comes to knowledge, I’m far inferior to Elder Xie. It would be hard for me to ‘demand’ something. But I do have a single request.” Xie Xun said, “What is that?” Zhang CuiShan said, “You may take the Dragon Saber off the island, but leave everyone here alive. You may have everyone here swear that they do not reveal your secret.”

Xie Xun said, “Do you think I’m that stupid? That I’d believe their stupid promises?” Yin SuSu said, “Since you lost, you have to do what he says. Or are you going back on your promise.”

Xie Xun said, “So what if I don’t deliver on my promise? What are you going to do?” But after thinking a while, he felt his words sounded very unreasonable. So he said, “I’ll spare you two’s lives, but not the others.” Zhang CuiShan said, “The swordsmen from Kun Lun are disciples of a righteous sect. You really should…” Xie Xun shook his head, said, “Who cares? Doesn’t matter who they are. Hurry up and tear off two pieces of cloth from your clothing. Stuff them into your ears. Then cover your ears with your hands. If you value your life, do as I say now.” He spoke the last few sentences in a whisper, as if afraid someone might hear him.

Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu looked at each other, not knowing what he planned on doing. But considering Xie Xun’s serious tone, they both did as directed.

Suddenly they saw Xie Xun opened his mouth, as if yelling loud. Neither could hear what he’s yelling, but they could feel the ground vibrate, only to see everyone else with their mouth open, as if screaming in pain. Their faces then turned pale, almost in torture. After a while, one behind another, they fell to the ground.

Gao and Jiang immediately went into a meditative position when they heard Xie Xun, trying to fight off the noise with inner power. Sweat came pouring down their heads quickly afterwards. Several times they tried to cover their ears, but failed each time. Until finally, they suddenly jumped up into the air, fell down, and stopped moving.

Xie Xun closed his mouth, made a gesture, so Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu took out the cloth in their ears. Xie Xun said, “These people are now all unconscious from my scream, but their lives won’t be in danger. When they wake up, they’ll become retarded and forget everything in their past. This way, they won’t divulge my secret. Fifth Hero Zhang, I’ve granted you your request. I did not kill any of them.”

Zhang CuiShan thought, “Although you did not take their lives, their situation is possibly worse than death.” He absolutely despised the cruel manner in which Xie Xun did things. Looking at the people on the ground, he shuddered at the thought of what would happen to him should he had heard that roar.

Xie Xun’s face remained expressionless, said, “Let’s go!” Zhang CuiShan said, “Where to?” Xie Xun said, “Back home, of course! What else is there to do here?” Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu looked at each other, both thought, “Looks like we’ll have to be with this demon for another day. What else might happen during this time?”

Xie Xun led them over a mountain in the back of the island, until they saw a boat docked by the beach. Xie Xun walked to the boat, bowed, and said, “Please step up onto the boat.” Yin SuSu smirked, said, “Well, since when did you turn into a gentleman?” Xie Xun said, “By coming onto my boat, you are my honored guests. Of course I should be courteous to you.”

After getting on the boat, Xie Xun made a hand gesture, ordering the sailors to leave shore.

There are sixteen sailors, yet they all used hand gestures with each other, as if they’re all mute. Yin SuSu said, “You are certainly something, to be able to find so many mute-deaf sailors.”

Xie Xun said, “What’s so hard about that? First I find some illiterate sailors. Then I shatter their hearing with a roar. Then feed them some drugs to make them mute.”

Zhang CuiShan shuddered inside. Yin SuSu clapped her hands, and said with a smile, “That’s a great idea. Since they’re deaf-mute, they certainly could not divulge your secrets. Too bad you need them to sail, or you’d probably blind them too, I bet.” Zhang CuiShan looked at her, said in a lecturing tone, “Miss Yin. Why do a girl like you only think of ways to hurt people? This is a sad story. How could you laugh at it?” Yin SuSu stuck out her tongue at him, about to argue, but thought better of it upon seeing his expression. Xie Xun said calmly, “After I get back to the mainland, of course I’ll blind them.” Zhang CuiShan looked at the sailors, thought, “In a day you’ll all be blind too.”

The masts raised, the ship began to move. Zhang CuiShan said, “Elder Xie. Are you just going to leave these people here? How are they going to get back?” Xie Xun said, “Mr. Zhang. You are a pretty good guy. The only problem is that you’re too mindful of other people’s businesses. What’s wrong with leaving these people here on their own?” Zhang CuiShan realized that it’s impossible to talk any sense into this man, and decided to stop talking altogether. He thought, “Although most people on the island aren’t good people, it’s still a terrible fate that they’ve suffered. The elders of Kun Lun sect would surely look for their disciples now that they’re going to die here. Unfortunately, yet more troubles in the martial world.”

For the past years, the seven Wudang heroes had always gotten the upper hand in any confrontation they’ve faced. Who’d have thought that he, Zhang CuiShan, would be a prisoner here on this boat? Angry and dejected, he decided to calm down and meditate, ignoring Yin SuSu and Xie Xun.

After a while, he looked out the window into the sea, staring at golden the sun setting in the distance, a beautiful scene. Suddenly, he trembled, thought, “Wait, why is the sun setting to the back of the boat?” He turned around and asked Xie Xun, “The sailors are sailing in the wrong direction. We’re going east.” Xie Xun said, “I know. We’re supposed to go east.”

Yin SuSu said in shock, “But there is only water to the east. Where are we going?”

Xie Xun said, “Haven’t I been clear enough? After getting this saber, I want to seek a place to rest, to find the secret of the Dragon Saber, to know why it can rule over the martial world. In the central plains, there’s no way I can hide for very long before someone find out about my secret. Then I’d have to spend a ton of effort just fighting off those seeking the Dragon Saber. Besides, should those enemies be the likes of White-Browed Eagle King or Zhang SanFeng, I might lose the saber too. No… it’s much better to rest in a faraway island, where I can settle down.”

Yin SuSu said, “But you have to take us back first.” Xie Xun said with a smile, “Wouldn’t my secret be divulged upon your return?” Zhang CuiShan stood up and said loudly, “Then what do you want?” Xie Xun said, “Simple. I just want you two to live on the island with me.” Zhang CuiShan said, “What if you can’t even figure out the secret after eighteen years? Xie Xun said, “Then you’ll live with me for eighteen years. If I never figure it out, then you’ll live with me forever. You too are a perfect match for each other. How about becoming husband and wife on the island, and have kids? Heheh, now wouldn’t that be nice?” Zhang CuiShan yelled angrily, “Don’t you dare say that sort of thing!” He looked around, only to see Yin SuSu’s head lowered, her face incredibly red.

Zhang CuiShan shuddered, realized that if he spent any more time with Yin SuSu, he might not be able to control his emotions. Xie Xun’s a powerful opponent, his heart is yet another one. It really is best for him to leave this place as soon as possible. Suppressing his anger, Zhang CuiShan said, “Elder Xie, you should know about my reputation. I am willing to make a solemn promise, that I will not divulge anything I saw and heard today.”

Xie Xun said, “I’ve heard of your reputation, that your words can be trusted. But I made a promise when I was twenty-eight. Look at my finger.” As he spoke he raised his left hand. Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu both saw that his pinky on the left hand has been cut off.

Xie Xun said, “That year, the person I respected, loved the most ruined me. He killed my whole family, my parents, wife, and kid. From that moment on, I promised to never trust a single person again. Today I am now forty-one. For the past thirteen years I’ve only been friends with wild animals. I trust animals, but not people. In these years I’ve killed more humans than animals.”

Zhang CuiShan shuddered, realized just why has no one heard of him despite his amazing kung fu. That event when he was twenty-eight must’ve devastated him. That’s why he has turned his hatred upon society. Zhang CuiShan originally only despised Xie Xun, but now he couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. After a while, he said, “Elder Xie. I take it you’ve already had your revenge.”

Xie Xun said, “No. The person who ruined me is superior at kung fu. I can’t beat him.” Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu both gasped, said, “Better than you? Who is this person?” Xie Xun said, “Why should I speak of him? It only brings back painful memories. If it weren’t for revenge, why do I need to take this saber? To find out its secret? Mr. Zhang, I really like you. Otherwise, I would’ve never let you two lived in my usual temper. It’s certainly quite abnormal for me let you live a while longer. Hopefully it wouldn’t be a problem.”

Yin SuSu said, “What do you mean by ‘a while longer’?” Xie Xun said, “When I understand the secrets within this saber and leave the island, that’s the day I shall kill you. So the longer it takes for me to find the secret, the longer you two shall live.” Yin SuSu let out a ‘humph’, said, “Actually, this saber is just a bit sharper than other weapons, and can withstand lots of heat. What secret could it possibly contain? I bet ‘Controlling all under Heaven, None dares to not follow’ simply meant that it can break all other weapons into pieces.”

Xie Xun sighed, said, “If what you’re saying is true, then the three of us will live on the island forever.” Suddenly his expression turned pale, as if he felt this just might be the case. Then he would have no chance at revenge.

Zhang CuiShan wanted to say some word to lessen his worry. Only to see Xie Xun blow out the candle, said, “Let’s go to sleep.” Followed by a long, deep sigh, which contained infinite pain, infinite despair, almost inhuman, as if wild beast sighing before its death.

The cold wind came into the cabin again and again. Yin SuSu did not wear much. After a while, she began to quiver. Zhang CuiShan whispered to her, “Miss Yin, are you cold?” Yin SuSu said, “I’m fine.” Zhang CuiShan took off his robe and said, “Put this on.” Yin SuSu was very grateful, said, “You don’t have to. You’re cold too.” Zhang CuiShan said, “I’m not afraid of the cold.” As he spoke he put the robe on Yin SuSu’s hand. Yin SuSu took it and put it over her shoulder, still feeling the warmth of Zhang CuiShan’s body on the robe. She felt very content in her heart, and couldn’t help but smile brightly in the darkness.

Zhang CuiShan, on the other hand, was only thinking of ways to escape. After a long time, he felt that there’s only one way out, “We must kill Xie Xun to escape.”

He listened closely at his surrounding, only to hear heavy breathing from Xie Xun mixed with the sounds of the ocean. He thought, “He had made a promise to not trust another person. So why can he sleep so soundly in the same room as us? Does he have a special sixth sense that guards him from sneak attacks? Either way, I must attack now. Otherwise, I’d have to waste my entire life on an island with him.” He quietly moved towards Yin SuSu, so he could whisper in her ear. But Yin SuSu unexpectedly turned toward him at this exact moment. As a result, Zhang CuiShan’s lips fell right on top of Yin SuSu’s.

Zhang CuiShan was shocked, about to explain his rudeness, but didn’t know where to start. Yin SuSu happily put her head on his shoulders, at the moment she only felt infinite warmness and kindness in her heart. Her only wish was for this boat to remain sailing on forever, as she would gladly remain in this exact moment for the next hundred years. Suddenly she heard Zhang CuiShan whisper by her ear, “I’m very sorry, Miss Yin.” Yin SuSu’s face had long been bright red, as if a big, red flower had grown on her face. She whispered back at him, “I’m very happy that you really like me.” Although she’s always been brash, and kills people without hesitation, Yin SuSu is still like any other girl when it comes to her first romance. Surprise, happiness, and confusion all mixed into her heart. If it weren’t for the darkness, there was no way she would’ve said those words.

Zhang CuiShan was incredibly surprised. He never thought his apology would make her divulge her true feelings. Yin SuSu’s dazzling beauty is rarely seen, and from the very beginning has had feelings for him. These eight words further showed exactly where her heart lies. Even though Zhang CuiShan is upright and straightforward, and never thought about romance, his heart has nonetheless been moved at this moment. Only to feel her soft body resting on his shoulders, a faint fragrance entered his nose. He wanted to say something romantic towards Yin SuSu, but then suddenly remembered, “Zhang CuiShan. In a dangerous situation like this, how could you be so undisciplined? Have you forgot all about your master’s teachings? Even if you love her, and she loves you, she’s still born of an evil sect, and has done terrible things in her life. At least you should wait till you’ve met the master, and have him officially arrange a marriage for you. How can you do this sort of indecent deed in a dark room like this?” When Zhang CuiShan thought of this, he immediately straightened up, then whispered into Yin SuSu’s ear, “We need to find a way to get this person under control, so we can escape.”

Yin SuSu was originally in a daze, but quickly returned to reality, asked, “How?”

Zhang CuiShan said, “If we attack him in his sleep, it would be very dishonorable. In a moment, I’ll wake him up and match palms with him. You can immediately release your silver needles from the side. Although it’s not right to fight two-on-one, he’s too powerful for either one of us. This is our only chance.”

These words were spoken very softly. Plus, Zhang CuiShan had his mouth stuck tightly on Yin SuSu’s ears when he spoke. Yet before Yin SuSu could respond, Xie Xun started to laugh, said, “If you had snuck up on me, even though it wouldn’t have been successful, at least you had a tiny chance. Yet you just had to maintain your righteous image, and fight me openly. Well, you asked for it.” When he finished his sentence, Xie Xun’s body dashed towards Zhang CuiShan, his palm aimed at Zhang CuiShan’s chest.

Zhang CuiShan had been gathering chi at the moment Xie Xun started to speak. By the time Xie Xun attacked, Zhang CuiShan matched his palm, using Wudang’s ‘Soft Palms’ in return. As the palms touched, Zhang CuiShan felt his opponents’ force came crushing down upon him like a mountain. Zhang CuiShan knew his opponents inner power is far superior to his own, and has long decided to concentrate only on defending.
Xie Xun’s force came in three waves, only to feel that Zhang CuiShan’s power is much weaker, but never declining, never exhausted. No matter how powerful his palm strike is, Zhang CuiShan somehow managed to block it. Xie Xun raised his left hand and attacked Zhang CuiShan’s forehead. Zhang CuiShan blocked it with the technique ‘Golden Support Beam’. Wudang’s strength lies in its minuteness, vastly different from other sects’. So despite their huge difference in ability, Xie Xun could not finish off Zhang CuiShan in a short period of time.

Sweat poured down Zhang CuiShan’s face, his strength nearly gone, thought, “Why haven’t Miss Yin used her silver needles yet? Xie Xun is just concentrating on me right now. If she attacks him, then he’ll have to release his palm to block the needles, at which time I could wound him with my palm."

Of course, Xie Xun thought of all this too. He originally planned to take out Zhang CuiShan with one swift blow. Unfortunately, he underestimated his opponent, for Zhang CuiShan’s inner is much better than he imagined. As the two matched palms, both studied Yin SuSu’s movements. Zhang CuiShan could not break off concentration to speak, but Xie Xun had no such problems, said, “Little girl. I suggest you don’t try anything brash. For if I changed my palm into a fist, I can easily break all the bones in his body.”

Yin SuSu said, “Elder Xie, I’ll simply promise that we shall follow your orders. Please let go of him.” Xie Xun said, “Mr. Zhang, what do you think?” Zhang CuiShan couldn’t speak, but he thought angrily, “Come on, release your silver needles. How could you not take advantage of an opportunity like this?” Yin SuSu said hastily, “Please release your palms, Elder Xie. If you hurt him, I’ll fight you till my last breath.” Actually, Xie Xun is quite afraid of Yin SuSu’s needles. This cabin is quite small. The needles are tiny and move without sound. He really would have much trouble blocking them. He could kill Zhang CuiShan immediately, but doesn’t really want to, thought, “This little girl must be afraid of me, which is why she hasn’t made a move yet. If this continues, the result would be bad for everyone.” So he said, “Then you make a promise on his behalf.” Yin SuSu paused for a moment, then said, “Fifth Brother Zhang, I know we’re no match for Elder Xie. Let’s just follow him to his island for a year or two. With his intelligence, he’s bound to figure out the Dragon Saber’s secrets by then. I’ll make the promise for you!”

Zhang CuiShan thought, “What stupid promise? Hurry up and fire the needles!” He hated the fact that he couldn’t talk, nor make any gestures in the darkness. Besides, with his hands tied, Zhang CuiShan couldn’t make any hand signals anyway.

Yin SuSu did not hear any response from Zhang CuiShan, so she said, “I, Yin SuSu, and Zhang CuiShan will remain with Elder Xie on his deserted island, until he finds the secrets to the Dragon Saber. Should we break the promise, we shall die under a saber or sword.”

Xie Xun said with a smile, “What’s so special about dying under a sword or saber for people like us?”

Yin SuSu gritted her teeth, said, “Fine, then let me die before the age of twenty!” Xie Xun let out a hearty laugh, and retracted his palms.

Yin SuSu quickly lit up a nearby candle, only to see Zhang CuiShan’s face looking like gold paper, his breathing very subtle. She hastily grabbed a handkerchief from her pocket and began to wipe away the sweat off of Zhang CuiShan’s face.

Xie Xun said with a smile, “Wow. Wu Dang disciples really are worthy of their fame.”

Zhang CuiShan had been annoyed at Yin SuSu for not firing her needles, but as he saw her teary, worrisome face, Zhang CuiShan began to appreciate her genuine concern. He took a deep breath, about to say something to her, when suddenly he blacked out, only to seemingly hear Yin SuSu yelled, “Xie Xun, you’ve tired Fifth Brother Zhang to death. I’ll kill you.” But Xie Xun simply laughed her off.

Suddenly, Zhang CuiShan’s body fell to the side, rolling on the ground for a moment, while hearing Xie Xun and Yin SuSu both scream at the same time. Amidst their screams, the massive wind howled, and huge waves began to bombard the boat continuously.

Zhang CuiShan’s whole body shivered, his mouth drank a large amount of salt water. Originally semi-conscious, he’s now fully awake. His first thought was, “Has the boat sunk?” He doesn’t know how to swim, and immediately try to stand up. The deck below his feet suddenly tilted to the left, and a batch of seawater poured out the boat. Hearing the huge wind howling, Zhang CuiShan felt his whole body drenched with water.

Before he realized exactly what had happened, Xie Xun yelled, “Zhang CuiShan, hurry to the back of the boat and grab the helm!” This yell sounded like thunder. Even while in a this huge storm, his voice still carried a strange splendor. Zhang CuiShan did not think too deeply, immediately went to the back of the boat, only to see a black shadow flash before his eyes, as a sailor got washed off the boat, and into the sea.

Before Zhang CuiShan made it to the helm, another tidal wave struck, this one hit like a brick wall, severely shaking the boat. By this time Zhang CuiShan had gathered up all his ability, his two feet fixed tightly to the boat’s surface, as if they were nailed to it. When the wave passed, he quickly darted towards the helm, holding the steering wheel. Only to hear ka-cha-cha, ka-cha-cha sounds in the distance, as Xie Xun waved his mace, tearing down the front and the middle masts.

But even with just one mast in the rear, the boat still danced wildly in the sea. Xie Xun wants to roll up the back mast, but couldn’t in this weather, as part of it has sunk into the water. Xie Xun yelled angrily, “Damnable Heaven, stupid wind!” Seeing the boat about to tip over, Xie Xun was forced to cut off the rear mast too. Without the masts, the boat can no longer change directions, and can only travel to where the wind takes them.

Zhang CuiShan yelled loudly, “Miss Yin, where are you?” He yelled several times, without hearing any response. After a while, his yells contained crying. When suddenly, a hand held on to his knees.

By the time another wave had passed, that hand had grabbed his neck. A voice said, “Fifth Brother Zhang. Do you really care for me this much?” Indeed the voice of Yin SuSu. Zhang CuiShan, joyous at her appearance, grabbed the helm with his right hand, Yin SuSu’s body tightly with his left, said, “Thank goodness!” He thought happily, “Oh, she’s still here. She didn’t fall into the sea.” At this moment when each wave could easily wash them into the sea, Zhang CuiShan suddenly realized that his concern for Yin SuSu outweighed even his own life.

Yin SuSu said, “Fifth Brother Zhang, let us die together.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Yes! SuSu, let us die together.”

Under normal circumstances, there would be many apprehensions regarding them being together, like the fact that one’s good and one’s evil. So even if they were in love, it would not be nearly as close as they are right now. At this moment, in this dark, tumultuous environment, where each moment maybe their last, there is only unspeakable serenity in each person’s heart. Despite the fatigue Zhang CuiShan suffered in his duel against Xie Xun, he has never felt more energetic now due to Yin SuSu’s affection, and therefore could hold on to the helm tightly.

All the mute-deaf sailors had now been washed into the sea. Only Xie Xun and Zhang CuiShan’s powerful martial arts kept them from having the same fate. Thankfully, the boat is incredibly sturdy, and kept together despite getting hit wave after wave. In this type of weather, no one knows just which direction they’re headed. Even if they did, it wouldn’t have mattered, for they could not control the ship anyway.

Xie Xun walked to the rear of the ship, said, “Brother Zhang, that was great, now let me take over the helm. You two should go rest inside the ship.

Zhang CuiShan stood up, and was about to go into the cabin with Yin SuSu, when another wave hit. This one came very unexpectedly, and threw Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu overboard.

With the sea right below them, Zhang CuiShan instinctively grabbed Yin SuSu’s wrist with his left hand. His only thought was, “To die with her under the sea, never to part again.” Just as he grabbed Yin SuSu, a rope tied around his right hand, only to feel his whole body being pulled backward. For Xie Xun had noticed what had happened, and saved them by throwing out a rope. With two loud thuds, the two people landed back on the boat again. This escape from death was certainly quite unexpected. Even Xie Xun thought they were quite lucky. If he hadn’t had a rope by him, Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu would’ve been dead by now.

Zhang CuiShan carried Yin SuSu into the cabin, while the ship still floated among the huge waves, their fate yet very much unknown. But after going through that near-fatal situation, both people had stopped caring about life and death. Inside Zhang CuiShan’s embrace, Yin SuSu said into Zhang CuiShan’s ears, “Fifth Brother Zhang, should we live through this, I’ll be with you forever.” Zhang CuiShan’s heart jumped, said, “I wanted to say the same thing. Whether in Heaven or Hell, on Earth or under the sea, we’ll always be together.” Two hearts as one, they actually began to appreciate this storm that brought them together.

In Xie Xun’s mind, though, there’s only extreme anger and complaint. No matter how strong his martial arts ability, he’s still at the mercy of the wind and water. Only the Heavens can determine fate.

After about six hours of perpetual storm, the sky finally cleared, revealing bright stars above.

Zhang CuiShan walked to the rear end of the boat, said, “Elder Xie, thank you for saving our lives.” Xie Xun said coldly, “Don’t thank me just yet. Our lives are still at the mercy of this Damnable Heaven.” Zhang CuiShan has never heard anyone put the word ‘damnable’ in front of ‘Heaven’. He thought a person must be incredibly angry at the world to think such a thing. He then pondered, it looks as if they’re going to float on this boundless sea forever, without really any chance of returning home. For this to happen just at the moment he and Yin SuSu fell in love, is like to have just tasted the finest wine in the world, only to have it snatched away. Hearing Xie Xun’s use of ‘Damnable Heaven’, he finally could understand just what the phrase ‘fate toys with humans’  [2] means.

Zhang CuiShan sighed, and then took over the helm. Xie Xun went to take a rest after working hard all night.

Yin SuSu sat by Zhang CuiShan’s side, and looked at the stars in the night sky above. She found the North Star, and saw that the water is carrying them in that direction. She said, “Fifth brother, this boat is continuously moving north.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Yes! Hopefully it will go west too, so we can return to the mainland.”

Yin SuSu was spellbound at the scenery for a while, before saying, “I wonder where we’ll end up if this boat continues east.” Zhang CuiShan said, “There’s only water to the East. We don’t have any water, so we can only last seven to eight days…” Yin SuSu, who had just experienced love, still felt like living in a dream, and didn’t want to think about the negatives. She said, “I heard that there’s a celestial mountain in the Eastern Sea. Immortal beings live on that mountain. Perhaps we’ll sail to that mountain, meet gods and goddesses…” Then she pointed to the Silver River [3] , said, “Perhaps we’ll sail right into the Silver River. When we get there, we’ll see the Cow Herder and the Lady Weaver meeting on the Magpie Bridge [4] .”

Zhang CuiShan said with a smile, “We can give the boat to the Cow Herder, so if he wants to meet Lady Weaver, he can just take the boat over, instead of having to wait till the seventh day of the seventh month for the magpies.” Yin SuSu said, “If we give the boat to the Cow Herder, then how are we going to meet?” Zhang CuiShan said, “In Heaven or Hell, on Earth or under the sea, we’ll always be together. Since we’re going to be together, then why would we need to cross the Silver River?” Yin SuSu smiled brightly, as if a flower bloomed on her face. She held Zhang CuiShan’s hands, gently caressing it.

The two has thousands of romantic words to say to each other, but don’t have to really say any at all. After a long, long time, Zhang CuiShan lowered his head, only to see tears flowing down Yin SuSu’s eyes. He said in shock, “Why are you so sad?” Yin SuSu said softly, “On Earth, under water, I might be able to stay with you. But when we die, you will go to Heaven, and I… I… will go to Hell.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Oh, that won’t happen.”

Yin SuSu sighed, said, “I know I’ve done too many evil things in this life. I’ve killed so many people that I’ve lost count.” Zhang CuiShan shuddered, and realized that her vicious ways really makes her a flawed match for him. But because he’s too in love with her, and they’re most likely going to die soon in the middle of the sea, he did not think too much about it. He tried to calm her, “As long as you can correct your ways, everything will turn out fine.” Yin SuSu did not say anything. After a while, she began to sing.

She sang with the tune of the ‘The Hillside Sheep’.

“He and I, I and he, so worried about each other. Enemies, how could we become fated to love, by dying in front of the gates of Hell, letting the devil torture, getting beat by a mallet, boiled in a frying pan, ouch! [5]
Suddenly they heard Xie Xun yell in the cabin, “Great song. Miss Yin, that’s much more to my liking that this fake gentleman here.”

Yin SuSu said, “You and I are both evil people. Fate will certainly bring us misfortune.”

Zhang CuiShan whispered, “If you ever have a misfortune, then I’ll share the misfortune with you.”

Yin SuSu yelled happily, “Fifth brother!” so happy could not add another word.

The next morning had clear skies, and Xie Xun used his mace to catch some fish. After starving for a couple of days, the three people didn’t really care that the fishes were raw. There is no fresh water on the boat, so they drank fish blood for water.

The sea continued to carry them northward, facing the North Star each night. The Sun continued to rise on the right, and set on the east. Their directions did not change for over ten days.

The temperature became colder and colder. Due to their high inner powers, Xie Xun and Zhang CuiShan had no problems coping, but Yin SuSu’s health began to deteriorate. Xie and Zhang both took off clothes for her to wear, but that still didn’t help. Seeing her faint smiles, trying to fight off the cold, Zhang CuiShan felt unspeakable pain in his heart. He thought that if they continued north, Yin SuSu would certainly die from the cold.
However, their luck finally came when the boat met a school of seals. Xie Xun killed several seals with his mace, and they then covered themselves in sealskin, so thick they felt like putting on a coat. They also ate the seal meat.

That night, Yin SuSu asked with a smile, “What’s the best wild animal in the world?” The three of them answered together, “Seals!” At that moment, they heard a sound from the front of the boat, only to see a large chunk of ice hitting the side of the boat.

Their moods turned sullen upon seeing this. As they travel further and further north, the temperature would get colder and colder. Until the boat would likely freeze, which would be the day they die.

The next morning, they found chunks of ice. Xie Xun smiled bitterly, said, “I can’t believe this. I tried to find the secrets to the Dragon Saber, and ended up turning into an iceman. What a joke.”

He picked up the Dragon Saber, and said angrily, “To Hell with this saber!” He then tried to throw it away, but stopped at the last moment, sighed, and put the saber back into the cabin.

After four more days, the surface of the sea is now mostly covered with think pieces of ice. The three of them decided to ignore their condition. But that night, they heard a thunderous noise, trembling the entire boat.
Xie Xun yelled, “Awesome! It’s a big iceberg!”

Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu smiled bitterly, but still held on to each other tightly, only to feel cold water up to their legs, as the boat began to sink. They heard Xie Xun yell, “Jump up to the iceberg. Even living an extra day or so would be good. Humph, the Damnable Heaven wants me to die now, but I won’t let him get his wish.”

Zhang and Yin went to the head of the boat, only to see the moon’s silver rays reflected off the iceberg, a very beautiful, but also terrifying, sight. Xie Xun is already sitting on the side of the iceberg, reached out with his mace, so Yin SuSu and Zhang CuiShan both could use it to get onto the iceberg.

The boat disappeared after a while.

Xie Xun put two sealskins on the ground, so they can sit on top of them. This iceberg looks like a small hill, about sixty meters long, thirty meters across, much more spacey then the boat. Xie Xun looked around, said, “This is actually not a bad place. I can stretch a bit here.” As he spoke he got up and walked around. Although the iceberg is very slippery, Xie Xun’s steps are as secure as they would be on normal ground.

The iceberg floated with the water, yet still towards the north. Xie Xun said with a smile, “Looks like this Damnable Heaven sent us a boat, so we can go to the North Pole to meet the North Pole’s immortal old man.” With the man she loves by her side, Yin SuSu seemed to be satisfied completely. Even had the sky fallen, she would still not have cared. Of the three people, only Zhang CuiShan worried about their situation.

The iceberg floated for another seven days. In the daytime, the sunlight created a blinding light upon reflected off the iceberg, so they had trouble seeing. The three then decided to simply sleep during the day. Then they would catch fish and other animals at night. Oddly enough, the days became longer and longer as they sailed further north, until daytime lasted twenty-two hours. The night seemed to pass in an instant.

Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu’s health became worse and worse, but Xie Xun seemed to be quite well. Each day, he would point to the sky and curse continuously at Heaven.

One day, while Zhang CuiShan’s sleeping, he suddenly heard Yin SuSu screaming in his dream, “Let go of me, let go of me.” Zhang CuiShan immediately woke up, only to see Xie Xun holding Yin SuSu’s shoulders, his expression that of a wild animal. Zhang CuiShan had been worrying about Xie Xun’s expressions lately, but never thought he’d try to hurt Yin SuSu. He said in a hurry, “Let go of her!”

Xie Xun said threateningly, “You bastard. You killed my wife. Fine, I’ll kill your wife today, leaving you to live alone in this world.” As he spoke his left hand began to choke Yin SuSu’s throat. Yin SuSu let out an ‘Ah’ in response.

Zhang CuiShan said in shock, “I’m not your enemy. I didn’t kill your wife. Elder Xie, please regain consciousness. I am Zhang CuiShan, not your enemy.”

Xie Xun froze for a moment, yelled, “Who is this? Is she your wife?” Zhang CuiShan, seeing Xie Xun choking Yin SuSu, hastily said, “She’s Miss Yin, Elder Xie. Not your enemy’s wife.”

Xie Xun yelled madly, “Who cares? My wife was killed, my mother was killed, I’m going to kill all the women in the world!” As he spoke, his grip tightened, so Yin SuSu couldn’t even let out a sound.

Zhang CuiShan realized that Xie Xun was mad, and couldn’t be reasoned with. So he quickly gathered his energy, and shot out his palm towards Xie Xun’s back. Xie Xun met the palm with his own. With the slippery surface, Zhang CuiShan fell onto the ground. Xie Xun’s right foot came up, about to kick him on the waist. Zhang CuiShan quickly tapped the ground with his hand, and sprung his body back up. Xie Xun then took back his foot, and instead, his right palm came at Zhang CuiShan’s forehead.

Yin SuSu turned around, and attacked with her left hand, aimed at Xie Xun’s head. Xie Xun ignored her and concentrated on Zhang CuiShan. Zhang CuiShan matched his palm, only to find himself unable to gather up much chi from his body. As Yin SuSu hit Xie Xun on the forehead, she felt something very hard hitting her hand, and retracted her palm in pain. Xie Xun turned to look at her, his eyes bright red, as if there’s fire burning within them. He tightened his grasp even more.

Just at this moment, light shined from the north side, many different strands of light, very suddenly in the darkness. First came purple lights, each strand darker and longer than the previous. Within the purple light carried golden light, blue light, green light, and red light. Xie Xun, in his surprise, gasped, and put down Yin SuSu. Zhang CuiShan felt that the force coming from Xie Xun gradually dissipated.

Xie Xun, with his hand behind his back, walked towards the light, and simply stared at it. Of course, the light they’re seeing right now is the aurora borealis. But no one in China at that time had seen it.

CuiShan held Yin SuSu closely, their hearts beating rapidly.

Xie Xun, for the rest of the night, did not move, simply stared at the light. When daytime came, he regained his consciousness, and started to converse normally.

Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu both thought, “No wonder he’s so sad. His parents and wife were all killed. Wonder who the killer was?” Afraid that Xie Xun might go crazy again, they did not broach the subject with him.
Many days passed by, when Xie Xun started to act abnormally again with his curses, and his eyes turned red. Although they never talked about it, both Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu were careful to guard against another attack.

One day, when the sun did not set at its usual time, Xie Xun yelled, “Damn it! Even the sun is trying to piss me off now. If I had a bow and arrow, I’d shoot you down this instant!” Suddenly he grabbed a piece of ice and threw it towards the sun. After traveling about sixty meters, the ice dropped into the water. Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu thought, “Wow, what arm strength. I probably can’t even throw half as far.”

Xie Xun threw one piece of ice after another, until he threw about seventy pieces. He found that no matter how many he threw, the son still remained too far for him to hit.

Yin SuSu said, “Elder Xie, perhaps you should rest a while. Ignore the sun.”

Xie Xun looked back at her, staring into her eyes. Yin SuSu was terrified, but forced a smile. Xie Xun suddenly screamed, jumped up and quickly grabbed her, yelling, “Choke you to death! Choke you to death! Why did you kill my mother, why kill my son?” Yin SuSu felt like an iron hoop gagged around her neck, and this hoop became tighter and tighter.

Zhang CuiShan tried to pry Xie Xun’s arm off of Yin SuSu, but could hardly move it. Seeing Yin SuSu about to die, Zhang CuiShan’s attacked Xie Xun, hitting the ‘Shen Dao Point’ on Xie Xun’s back. His fist felt like hitting a solid rock, while Xie Xun continued his grip on Yin SuSu. Zhang CuiShan yelled, “If you don’t let go, I’m going to use weapons.” When he saw Xie Xun ignoring him, Zhang CuiShan took out his Judge’s Brush and pointed at Xie Xun’s ‘Xiao Hai Point’ on his arm. Xie Xun retracted his right hand from Yin SuSu, and grabbed the brush with it, then threw the brush into the sea.

Feeling the grip loosening, Yin SuSu quickly spun out of his hold. Xie Xun’s left hand reached for Zhang CuiShan’s head, while his right hand tried to grab Yin SuSu’s shoulder, tearing off a piece of Yin SuSu’s seal coat. Zhang CuiShan knew that if he simply dodged Xie Xun’s attacks, Yin SuSu would be caught. So instead of running away, he attacked Xie Xun, using the Soft Palm’s ‘Carefree Flying Flower’. Strangely, when his palm met Xie Xun’s, he felt like being pulled in, unable to get free.

After controlling Zhang CuiShan, Xie Xun dragged him along while chasing Yin SuSu. Yin SuSu jumped away, but before she could get back to the ground, Xie Xun stomped on the ice with his foot, and several ice pellets flew out, all hitting her on the right leg. Yin SuSu let out a scream and fell down.

Xie Xun then sent out a huge force towards Zhang CuiShan, pushing him backward, flying. This push was so strong Zhang CuiShan landed by the edge of the iceberg. With a slip as he tried to regain his footing, Zhang CuiShan fell off the edge, into the sea.

 

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[1] Seriously, you don’t REALLY think I can translate a non-butchered version of a poem by the most famous poet in China, do you? Now pretend that you’ve just read something very beautiful, very poetic, and very applicable to this situation. Use your imagination, folks! ^_^

[2] Common Chinese proverb.

[3] Chinese term for the Milky Way.

[4] For those who don’t know, ‘The Legend of the Cow Herder and the Lady Weaver’(pinyin: Nuo2 Lang2 Zhi1 Nu3) is a very popular romantic folk tale. Here’s what I know about it, although I’m not sure how detailed or accurate I am:

The Chinese Mythology is similar to Greek mythology, in that the gods live in a world of their own. In Chinese myth, the gods’ world is simply Heaven. An Emperor and an Empress rule the Heaven. They had seven daughters. One of them is the Lady Weaver (the star constellation Vega in the sky, or Lady Weaver star constellation for the Chinese). Lady Weaver one day decided to sneak down to the world of the mortals(aka Earth). She then fell in love with a cow herder. They got married and had two children together. However, the Empress found out about their relationship, and needless to say got really pissed. She went down to Earth to take back her insolent daughter. On their way back to Heaven, the cow herder chased after them, carrying their two children in two buckets, which he carried using a pole on his shoulder (The Cow Herder star constellation, not sure of its English name, is aptly three stars, a bright one in the middle, with two dimmer stars to its sides). To stop him from chasing, the Empress took out her hairpin, and made a cut through the sky, creating the Silver River(Milky Way). The cow herder could not get across the river, and could not therefore see Lady Weaver again. However, their tale deeply moved the magpies (magpies are a type of bird, which are suppose to be the bearer of good news in ancient Chinese superstitions). So on the seventh day of the seventh month of each year, thousands of magpies would fly above the Silver River and make a bridge filled with birds. This way, the cow herder and Lady Weaver could meet on the bridge.

[5] Followed by some other words of torture , too lazy to translate…