Chapter 7 - Who sent the ice boat to this heavenly village

Chapter 7 image

Zhang CuiShan embraced Yin SuSu tightly as they rolled a few times on the ground, getting out of the way, only to hear loud sounds of ice cracking, as Xie Xun smashed his mace wildly on the icy surface surrounding him. He then put down the mace, raised a roughly hundred-pound ice over his head, paused a moment to hear their location, before hurling the ice towards Zhang and Yin’s direction.

The silver hook in the left hand reached out, holding onto the ice mountain, then Zhang CuiShan sprung back up to the surface. He thought Yin SuSu must be in Xie Xun’s hands by now. But instead, only to see Xie Xun’s hands covered his eyes, yelling in pain, while Yin SuSu lied on ice.

Zhang CuiShan quickly picked her up. Yin SuSu whispered, “I… I hit his eyes…” Before she could finish, Xie Xun let out a roar, charged at them. Zhang CuiShan embraced Yin SuSu tightly as they rolled a few times on the ground, getting out of the way. Only to hear loud sounds of ice cracking, as Xie Xun smashed his mace wildly on the icy surface surrounding him. He then put down the mace, raised a roughly hundred-pound ice over his head, paused a moment to hear their location, before hurling the ice towards Zhang and Yin’s direction.

Yin SuSu wanted to run away, but Zhang CuiShan held her still. The two of them hid in a depressed region of the iceberg, neither even dared to breath loudly. But after throwing and missing that block of ice, Xie Xun became motionless, as if trying to hear their location. Zhang CuiShan saw blood trickling down his eyes, knew that Yin SuSu at the last moment finally released her silver needles. And in his mad, unconscious state, Xie Xun was not able to block them in time, becoming a blind man. Yet his hearing is still just as great. Should they make even the slightest noise, Xie Xun would find them. Thankfully, with the sounds of waves, wind, and ice hitting each on the sea, Xie Xun could not hear their breaths. Otherwise, they’d probably be dead by now.

After listening for a while, and still unable to locate them, Xie Xun felt the pain in his eyes. With the shock of only darkness meeting his gaze, in addition to his innate anger, Xie Xun suddenly let out a terrible scream, then began to thrash his surrounding area senselessly. He would pick up pieces of ice and throw them wildly in different directions. Only to hear ‘ping, ping’ sound endlessly. Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu embraced each other tightly; so scared their faces became pure white. As the endless waves of ice came in their direction, both knew that even getting hit by one of them could mean instant death.

Xie Xun did this for about an hour, but to Zhang and Yin, it felt like years. Realizing the futility of throwing ices, Xie Xun suddenly stopped, said, “Mr. Zhang, Miss Yin, I was temporarily a bit reckless, as insanity took over my mind. Sorry about the trouble I’ve caused. Please forgive me.” He said these words in a courteous tone, as if returning to his original state.

But after their experience, neither Zhang nor Yin dared to respond. Xie Xun repeated his apology several times, and when he realized there would be no response, stood up. Xie Xun sighed, said, “I don’t blame you for not forgiving me.” As he spoke, he took a very deep breath. Zhang CuiShan suddenly realized something, for Xie Xun breathed the exact same way before he let out the howl on WangPan Island. Of course, his howling would not be affected by his blindness. In this critical moment, there’s no time for them to cover their ears. So without thinking too carefully, Zhang CuiShan grabbed Yin SuSu and jumped down into the sea.

Before Yin SuSu knew what’s going on, Xie Xun began to howl. Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu drowned into the water, which also covered their ears. Zhang CuiShan’s left hand grabbed onto the iceberg with his hook, while his right hand embraced Yin SuSu. Other than his left hand, all parts of their bodies remained underwater. Yet even so they could still feel the vibrations from Xie Xun’s howl. The iceberg continued to travel northward, carrying them along. Zhang CuiShan was thankful that he used and lost his brush earlier. Had he lost his hook, even if Xie Xun’s howl hadn’t kill them, the sea would have.

After a while, the two people raised their mouths over the water surface to change air, as their ears remained underwater. Only after six such exchanges did Xie Xun stop howling. Since the howl used up much of Xie Xun’s inner power, he felt tired, and sat down to regain his strength. Zhang CuiShan signaled Yin SuSu, and they climbed back up the iceberg quietly. Both people then ripped off some pieces of sealskin and covered their ears.

They’re safe for now, but as long as they reside on the same iceberg as Xie Xun, any noise could mean the end. The two looked at each other with worry, and then gazed upon the western sky, where the sun still had not set. They didn’t know that this is the effect from being near the North Pole. Zhang and Yin only felt like being near the edge of the world.

Yin SuSu, unable to withstand the cold water now soaked all over her cloths, shivered, her teeth made some noise as she uncontrollably gritted them. Upon hearing such noise, Xie Xun screamed, grabbed his mace and charged at them. Zhang and Yin were prepared, and quickly evaded, only to hear a loud ‘Ping!’, as the mace smashed down on the iceberg surface with at least six hundred pounds of force, causing seven pieces of huge ice chunks to fly in all directions. Astonished at the sight, the two then saw Xie Xun sweep the mace in their direction. This mace is already over three meters in length. With this sweep, its power extended to over fifteen meters, forcing them backward. After retreating a just few steps, they’ve arrived at the iceberg’s edge.

Yin SuSu gasped, but Zhang CuiShan grabbed her wrist, gathered his energy, and jumped into the water. While in midair, they heard loud crackling noises from behind, as several pieces of ice hit them in the back, causing much pain. At the time of his jump, Zhang CuiShan targeted a table-sized ice sheet near the iceberg. He took out his silver hook and grabbed on to it. When Xie Xun heard them splash into the sea, he knocked loose several pieces of ice to throw at them. But because of his blindness, plus the fact that Zhang and Yin moved away from their splash point quickly, Xie Xun could not hit them. After missing with the first ice block, he stopped throwing.

The ice sheet Zhang and Yin held onto traveled much faster than Xie Xun’s iceberg. By nightfall, they’ve traveled so far away Xie Xun looked like a tiny speck.

It’s quite lucky that the two of them managed to hold on to this ice sheet. However, they couldn’t stay forever in this cold water. Thankfully, another iceberg appeared after a while. As the ice sheet floated next to it, Zhang and Yin quickly climbed up on top of this new iceberg.

Zhang CuiShan said, “I know people say that ‘Heaven will always give humans a path out’, but did it have to force so much suffering upon us first. How is your body?” Yin SuSu said, “Too bad we couldn’t bring some of the seal meat. Are you injured?” They spoke some more, with neither able to hear the other. Then both paused a moment, and hurriedly took out the sealskin from their ears. For while they were escaping, neither remembered to take out the sealskin.

After going through so much adversity together, their hearts became even closer. Zhang CuiShan said, “SuSu. Let us simply die on this iceberg, so we’ll never again part.” Yin SuSu said, “I need to ask you something, but you can’t lie to me. If we were still on the mainland, without having gone through this hardship together. If I were just as intent on being married to you, would you still want me?”

Zhang CuiShan hesitated a bit, said, “I think we wouldn’t have been this close this quickly. Besides…. There would be lots of problems. Our sects are so different…” Yin SuSu sighed, said, “I feel the same way. That’s why when you were matching palms with Xie Xun on the boat, I thought about firing my silver needles, but in the end did not.”

Zhang CuiShan asked, “Oh yeah, why didn’t you? I’ve always thought that you couldn’t see clearly in the dark. That you were afraid to unintentionally hit me.” Yin SuSu whispered, “That’s not the reason. The reason is, had I injured him, and we ended up back on the mainland, you wouldn’t want to be with me.”

Zhang CuiShan felt his heart melting away, yelled, “SuSu!”

Yin SuSu said, “Perhaps you might blame me in your heart. But at that moment, I only wanted to be with you, go to a deserted island, where we can be with each other forever. Therefore, what Xie Xun proposed was my wish too.” Zhang CuiShan never expected her love for him to be so strong. With much appreciation in his heart, Zhang CuiShan said soothingly, “I would never blame you. Instead, I thank you for being so good to me.” Yin SuSu remained in his embrace, looked up into his eyes, said, “I don’t blame Heaven at all for sending us to this cold, hellish place, for instead I feel happy. I only hope this iceberg would never go south, for should we one day returned to the mainland, your master would hate me, and my dad might kill you…”

Zhang CuiShan said, “Your dad?” Yin SuSu said, “My dad is White-Browed Eagle King Yin TianZheng, the leader of the Heavenly Eagle Sect.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Oh, I see. Don’t worry. I told you I’d always be with you. No matter how mean your dad is, he’s not going to kill his son-in-law.” Yin SuSu’s eyes brightened, her cheeks turned red, said, “Oh, do you really mean that?”

Zhang CuiShan said, “Let us get married right now.”

The two of them then got on their knees. Zhang CuiShan said loudly, “With the Heaven above watching, Zhang CuiShan today will marry Yin SuSu. Share our blessings together, endure our hardships together, never to be apart.” Yin SuSu prayed sincerely, “Please let the Heaven bless us, so we can be couples for all lifetimes [1] .” She paused a bit, then added, “Should we ever return to the central plains, I will renounce my old ways, change for the better, and follow my husband to do only good, never to kill again. If I fail to do so, then banish me down to the depths of Hell.”

Zhang CuiShan, exhilarated at her promise, held her tightly in his arms. Despite being soaked in icy cold water, the two people’s hearts felt warm and dry, as if blown by spring wind.”
After a long time, the two of them realized that they have not eaten for a long time. Zhang CuiShan looked over the edge with his silver hook, only to see fishes swim on the sea surface, and caught some. The fishes in this region are filled with fat to counter the cold weather, which made them extremely smelly, but also really reenergized the two. Sitting on this iceberg, Zhang and Yin knew there’s no chance for them to return, but neither felt sad because of it. They were now no longer bothered by the long days and short nights, and stopped bother to count the days altogether.

* * *

One day, Yin SuSu suddenly saw a stack of smoke from the north. Shocked, she yelled, “Fifth brother!” and pointed at the smoke as she spoke. Zhang CuiShan, happy and surprised, yelled, “Could there be people living there?”

Although the smoke looked big, it’s still far away. Even after a day of travel, the smoke still seemed just as far. However, the smoke eventually grew bigger and bigger, until later on, they could see sparks of fire.
Yin SuSu asked, “What is that?” Zhang CuiSHan shook his head, did not respond. Yin SuSu screamed, “Oh no, this is the end! This is… is the door to the underworld.” Zhang CuiShan had also been alarmed for some time now, but he still tried to sooth her, said, “Perhaps someone’s making the fire over there.” Yin SuSu said, “Who can make a fire this big?”

Zhang CuiShan sighed, said, “Since we’re have no other choice, let’s just see what the Heaven has in store for us. If Heaven doesn’t want us to freeze to death, but rather burn to death, then we don’t really have a choice.”

Oddly enough, the iceberg headed exactly towards the direction of the stack of fire. Zhang and Yin didn’t know the reason, thought that they must have been fated to go there. In actuality, that stack of fire is a volcano. With the fire spurting out, the neighboring waters warmed up. Warm water flows south, so the southern cold water obviously moves north, towards the island to take its place.

After another day, the iceberg finally reached the bottom of the volcano, only to see the fire stack surrounded by green vegetation, for it’s actually an island. Neither of them had ever seen a volcano, so they didn’t know this island was created by the eruptions. The eastern side of the island had no vegetation, though, as it’s the path where the lava traveled down to the water. This place is quite close to the North Pole, but due to the continuous volcanic activities, the island had weather similar to the Long White Mountain and the Black Dragon River regions [2] . Snow covered the upper mountain, but plants filled the lower parts. Pine and Cypress trees here are incredibly big, plus there are all sorts of strange flowers and tress, none seen on the mainland.

Yin SuSu stared for a while, then with both hands held Zhang CuiShan’s neck, yelled, “Fifth brother, we’re arrived at a celestial island!” Zhang CuiShan was also joyous, but could not find any words to say. He then saw a drove of spotted deer eating grass. Looking around, Zhang CuiShan could not find anything scary other than the fire stack.

But just as the iceberg neared the island, the warm water gave it a push backward, and it began to float away. Yin SuSu yelled in a hurry, “Oh no! We can’t get on the celestial island now!” Zhang CuiShan realized that if they didn’t get on this island now, they’d be washed away. He quickly chipped off a big block of ice, and then let it drop with them down into the water. After paddling with their hands for a while, they finally reached land.

When the drove of deer saw them, they only stared, as if wondering whom these humans were, but certainly not afraid. Yin SuSu moved close, reached out and patted one of them on the back, said, “If there were some celestial cranes here, I’d say this would be the Celestial Region of the South Pole.” Suddenly the ground under her shook, and she fell down. Zhang CuiShan yelled in shock, “SuSu!” As he tried to help her, he also felt his legs wobble, and unable to maintain his balance.

Only to hear a thunderous sound, the earth shook, for the volcano erupted some lava. After getting over the initial shock, and saw no other troubles, both people got up giddily. Due to their exhaustion, the two then slept for about eight hours.

When they woke up, the sun still had not set. Zhang CuiShan said, “Let’s go look around, see if there are any people, or perhaps poisonous insects or wild beasts.” Yin SuSu said, “Just look at how tame these deer are. Looks like this celestial island is quite peaceful.” Zhang CuiShan said with a smile, “I hope that’s the case. But if so, we should at least go pray to the celestial being here.”

Even while on the iceberg, Yin SuSu kept her appearance nice, her clothing straight. Now on this island, she cared even more about appearances. So only after she straightened her dress, and then combed Zhang CuiShan’s hair, did Yin SuSu care to explore. She held her sword. Zhang CuiShan lost his brush, so he grabbed a tree branch to replace it. The two of them used their lightness kung fu, ran for about 7 miles, from south to north, exhilarated to be in such an environment. On their way, other than passing by small hills and tall trees, they also saw strange grasses and flowers. Above the plants flew many birds that they’ve never seen before, but seemed friendly.

They made a turn and went through a large forest, only to see a stone mountain on the island’s northwestern corner. There is a cave on the mountain. Yin SuSu yelled, “This place is amazing!” and quickly ran over to the cave. Zhang CuiShan yelled, “Be careful!” Before he could finish, they heard a loud groan, as a white shadow flashed by them; a large white bear came rushing out the cave.

That bear’s incredibly big, the size of a huge bull. Yin SuSu gasped in shock, and instantly retreated. The white bear stood up, raised his paws, then came slashing down on Yin SuSu. Yin SuSu raised her sword and attacked the bear’s shoulder. Unfortunately, her body’s too weak from the time on the sea, so despite striking the bear’s shoulder directly, she could not pierce deep enough to cause a serious wound. Before she got off another strike, the bear came close and knocked her sword down. Zhang CuiShan quickly yelled, “SuSu, get out of the way!” as he ran up to join her. Then he swept the branch horizontally, hitting the bear on the left kneecap. Only to hear a loud crack, as the branch split in two, but broke the white bear’s left leg too. After experiencing such an injury, the bear roared in pain, and came pounding on Zhang CuiShan.

Zhang CuiShan jumped up several meters using the ‘Cloud Stairs’ lightness kung fu, and wrote the last stroke of ‘compete’[a stroke that comes straight down before making a tiny hook left] with his hook. The silver hook dropped straight down from midair, piercing the bear’s ‘Sun Point’. After penetrating a few inches, that white bear began to howl in a deafening tone. It started to roll on the ground in pain, pulling the silver hook out of Zhang CuiShan’s hand. After rolling for a while, it stopped struggling, fell dead.

Yin SuSu clapped her hands, said with a smile, “Great lightness kung fu, great hook technique!” Suddenly she heard Zhang CuiShan yell, “Jump over here, quickly!” Yin SuSu could hear the fear in his voice, and jumped toward Zhang CuiShan without hesitation. When she turned around, Yin SuSu couldn’t help but scream in shock. For another white bear stood right behind her previous position, looking incredibly ferocious. With no weapons in his hand, Zhang CuiShan quickly pulled Yin SuSu up a tall pine tree. That bear kept circling under them, constantly roaring.

Zhang CuiShan broke off a small piece of branch, aimed towards the white bear’s eye, and threw it down. When the branch hit its eye, the bear screamed in pain, and tried to climb up the tree in anger. Zhang CuiShan quickly grabbed Yin SuSu’s sword, aimed exactly at the bear’s head, gathered his energy, and nailed it down straight. The majority of the sword entered the bear’s forehead, making it stutter, until finally the bear fell dead under the tree.

Zhang CuiShan said, “I wonder if there’s another bear inside the cave.” He picked up a few rocks and threw them inside the cave. With no response after a while, he walked inside the cave. Yin SuSu followed closely behind. The cave is wide and deep, very spacious. A streak of light came through in the middle, like a window. Bears’ foods filled the cave. Animal carcasses, such as dead fishes, made the whole place very smelly. Yin SuSu pinched her nose, said, “This is a nice place, but too smelly.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Well, we can clean the place up. Then after ten or twenty days, the smell would be gone.”

Yin SuSu remembered that they’d be living here together forever, with endless months to enjoy ahead, until they die of old age. She felt delighted, but lonely at the same time.

Zhang CuiShan walked out the cave, broke several branches, and made a broom. He went back inside and cleaned the place, with Yin SuSu helping. After they cleaned the cave, the dirty smell remained. Yin SuSu said, “I wish we could get some water to wash this stuff off. Although there are lots of water in the sea, we don’t have a bucket to carry it.” Zhang CuiShan said, “I have an idea.” He left the cave, went to an ice-covered region of the island, and grabbed some large chunks of ice. Then he put the ice chunks on the tallest rock in the cave. Yin SuSu yelled, “Wow, great idea!” The ice would slowly melt, and trickle out the cave as water.
Zhang CuiShan used this water to take a shower. Yin SuSu used her sword to cut the bears into small pieces. Despite being on a volcano, they’re still near the North Pole. So the weather’s quite cold. The bear meat would likely last for months without rotting. Yin SuSu sighed, said, “People really are greedy, never satisfied. Here I am, thinking how great it would if we could only light a fire, and cook these bear meats.” Then she added, “I’m afraid that the ice chunks would melt too slowly, and the smell would never go away.” Zhang CuiShan looked at the volcano, said, “Well, there’s certainly fire here, but simply too big for us. I’m sure we can find a way to get it, though.”

That night, after eating bear meat, the two slept on the tree. During their sleep, both felt like they’re still on the iceberg, moving with the current. Actually, they only felt the wind blowing on the branches.

The next day, before she even opened her eyes, Yin SuSu said, “What an amazing fragrance!” She jumped off the tree, only to smell a lovely fragrance coming from the flowers nearby. Yin SuSu said happily, “It’s so great that there are all these flowers in front of the cave.”

Zhang CuiShan said, “SuSu, don’t be so thrilled yet. I need to tell you something.” Upon seeing his serious expression, Yin SuSu paused a moment, then said, “What?” Zhang CuiShan said, “I found a way to get fire.” Yin SuSu said with a smile, “Oh! You’re so mean. I thought you were going to give me some bad news.”

Zhang CuiShan said, “The flame on the fire mountain is so big it’s nearly impossible to get close. We’d likely burn to death before reaching it. However, we can use tree barks to tie a long rope, and wait for it to dry. Then…” Yin SuSu cut in, “Great idea! Then we can tie a rock to the end, and throw it at the fire. Then the fire come towards us through the rope.”

After eating raw meat for so long, the two were in quite a hurry to get the fire ready. They went to work immediately. After two days, they finally tied together a rope, over three hundred and thirty meters long. After leaving it in the sun for another day, they finally went up the volcano the fourth morning.

Although it looked close, they still had to travel over thirteen miles to get near the top. The temperature rose as they walked up. First they had to take off their seal coats, then more clothing, until they had only one layer on. Even so, they still could not withstand the heat. Both sweated uncontrollably, and their mouths dried up. But with no water or vegetation around, there’s nothing they could do.

Zhang CuiShan, with the rope hanging on his back, saw that Yin SuSu’s near exhaustion. Afraid for her health, he said, “You wait for me here. I’ll go up alone.” Yin SuSu said, “Don’t speak to me like this again. The worst that can happen is that we’ll never have fire. It’s no big deal to eat raw meat the rest of our lives.” Zhang CuiShan smiled slightly.

After walking another thousand meters or so, the two are almost totally exhausted. Even Zhang CuiShan’s superior inner power could not help him withstand the heat. He said half-consciously, let’s throw the rope here. If we still can’t catch fire, then we’ll… we’ll…” Yin SuSu said with a smile, “Then we’ll just be a wild couple who drink blood and eat raw meat…” and then her body swayed. She almost fell to the ground before grabbing onto Zhang CuiShan’s shoulder. Zhang CuiShan picked up a rock from the ground, then tightened it to the rope. He gathered his energy, ran forward a few steps, and threw the rock with all his might.

Only to see the rock disappear in the distance, and the rope eventually straightened, falling down to the ground. The rock’s landing spot is still way too far from any fire. After waiting for a long time, until the couple was about to explode from the heart, the rope still remained fireless. Zhang CuiShan sighed, said, “I’ve heard ancient people used wood and stones to make fires. We can try those things. My way certainly doesn’t work.”
Yin SuSu said, “Even so, this rope is now quite dry. Let’s go find some flint. Perhaps we can make a fire with the sword.” Zhang CuiShan said, “You’re right.” And retracted the rope, then tore down a small piece. There are tons of flints here on the volcano. They took one piece and struck it with the sword. Sparks flew out immediately. After the tenth try, fire lit up the bark.

The two people embraced in joy. They took their bark, now a torch, happily back to the cave. Yin SuSu brought a stack of dry branches and grass to keep the fire going.

With a kindle of fire available, everything else, like cooking meat or warming up ice, came easily. The two hasn’t eaten any cooked food since getting on the boat. Both salivated as they watched the meat simmer on the fire.

That night in the warm bear cave, with streams of fragrance flowing, the fire flickering. For the first time since they married, Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu enjoyed their first wedding night together.

* * *

The next morning, Zhang CuiShan walked out the cave, looked into the distance, feeling amazingly refreshed. He suddenly noticed a large figure far away, standing by a rock on the beach.

This figure is none other than Xie Xun! Zhang CuiShan couldn’t believe his eyes. After going through this ordeal with Yin SuSu, he had expected to live peacefully on this island. Who’d have thought that this monster would come too? In an instant, Zhang CuiShan froze. Only to see Xie Xun staggering toward the inner part of the island. After being blinded, he seemingly could no longer catch fish for food, and in lived in hunger until today. Xie Xun walked a few steps forward, tripped, and fell to the ground.

Zhang CuiShan returned to the cave. Yin SuSu said tenderly, “Fifth brother… you…” When she saw his serious expression, she held back the rest of the words. Zhang CuiShan said, “Xie Xun’s here too!” Yin SuSu gasped in shock, whispered, “Did he see you?” But then remembered that Xie Xun’s now blind. Her fear lessened somewhat, said, “Surely the two of us can defeat a blind person, right?” Zhang CuiShan nodded, said, “He just fainted from hunger.” Yin SuSu said, “Let’s go take a look!” She tore off some clothing and put them into Zhang CuiShan and her own ears, then grabbed her sword and some silver needles. They went out the cave together.

When they’ve reached about twenty-five meters from Xie Xun, Zhang CuiShan said loudly, “Elder Xie, do you wish to eat some food?” Upon hearing a person’s voice, Xie Xun let out an expression of joy. But once he realized that it was Zhang CuiShan speaking, the joy disappeared. After a long time, he finally nodded. Zhang CuiShan went back to the cave and took out a piece of cooked bear meat. He threw it towards Xie Xun, said, “Please catch it.” Xie Xun heard the sound of the meat, quickly grabbed it with his hand, and began to eat.

Zhang CuiShan felt pity for Xie Xun, after seeing such a powerful and proud man weakened like this. Yin SuSu was thinking of something else entirely, “Fifth brother is just too kind-hearted. Wouldn’t it be better to let him die of hunger? Saving him could very well bring trouble in the future. Perhaps we’ll later both die in his hands.” But then she remembered her promise to become a good person. So she did not speak her mind.
After eating half a piece of meat, Xie Xun fell asleep on the ground. Zhang CuiShan made a pile of fire by his side.

Xie Xun slept for a couple of hours before waking up. He asked, “What is this place? Zhang and Yin had been sitting by his side. When they saw him sitting up to speak, both unplugged their right ears so they could hear. Even so, they still kept their right hands near their ears, in case Xie Xun decided to howl. Zhang CuiShan said, “This is a deserted island near the North Pole."

Xie Xun nodded. In this instant, thousands of thoughts floated through his mind. After a while, he said, “If so, looks like we have no chance to go back, right?” Zhang CuiShan said, “That will depend on the will of the Heaven.” Xie Xun said angrily, “Don’t give me that ‘Heaven’ crap. He searched around for the piece of meat, and began eating again. Then he asked, “What do you plan to do with me?”

Zhang CuiShan looked at Yin SuSu, as he wanted to hear her opinion. Yin SuSu made a gesture, which meant he could decide for them both.

Zhang CuiShan thought for a moment, then said, “Elder Xie, We husband and wife…” Xie Xun nodded, said, “Oh, you’re married.” Yin SuSu’s face turned red, but looked very happy. She said, “Actually, we have to thank you as our matchmaker.” Xie Xun let out a humph, said, “What are you going to do with me?” Zhang CuiShan said, “We’re sorry to have blinded your eyes. But what’s done is done. There’s no way to turn back time. Since we’re fated to come to this island, I doubt we’ll ever see the mainland ever again. In that case, we’ll take care of you for the rest of your life.”

Xie Xun nodded, sighed, and said, “I guess there’s no other choice.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Due to our deep love for each other, we have agreed to live and die together. Should the elder ever become crazy again, and kills one of us, the other would surely not live alone in this world.” Xie Xun said, “I know what you’re trying to say. That should you two die, there’s no way for me to live on this island alone, right?” Zhang CuiShan said, “Correct!” Xie Xun said, “If so, then why haven’t you taken out the cloths in your left ears yet?”

Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu smiled at each other, and took out the cloth in their left ears too. Both thought, “Despite his lack of sight, this person’s hearing is amazing, almost to the point where they could replace his eyes. Plus with his intelligence and knowledge, this person might not even need us if he weren’t on this cold, strange island.”

Zhang CuiShan asked Xie Xun to name this deserted island. Xie Xun said, “Since this island is covered in ice year-round, yet also has a never-ending supply of fire. Let’s call it Fire-Ice Island.”

From then on, the three of them settled peacefully on this Fire-Ice Island. There’s another small cave about a thousand meters from the bear cave. Zhang and Yin cleaned it up for Xie Xun to live. They then caught fish and animals for food, burned pottery to make bowls, gathered soil to make a kitchen, and made all sort of crude items for everyday use.

Xie Xun never bothered to chat with them. He only held up that Dragon Saber, deep in thought. Sometimes Zhang and Yin would pity him, and advise him to stop trying to figure out its secrets. Xie Xun said, “You think I don’t know that it’s useless to find its secret, now that we’re on this deserted island? But with nothing else to do, how else am I going to spent the days?” The couple found his words reasonable, and stopped trying to persuade him.

Soon, months passed. One day, the couple strolled up the northern part of the island, only to see a forest after walking about 6 miles. Zhang CuiShan wanted to explore the forest, but Yin SuSu was reluctant, said, “Who cares about all the strange creatures in the forest? Let’s just go back.”

Zhang CuiShan found this weird, wondered, “SuSu has always been the curious type. Yet lately, she has become quite lazy.” Concerned for her health, he asked, “Are you ok? Is there something wrong?” Yin SuSu’s face turned red, said timidly, “I’m ok.” Zhang CuiShan found her expression unusual, and kept asking. Yin SuSu finally said, “Perhaps the Heavens thought we’re too lonely, so he sent another person to live with us.” Zhang CuiShan paused for a second, then felt like he’s in Heaven. He yelled, “You have a child?” Yin SuSu said in a hurry, “Don’t speak so loudly. Someone might hear you.” When she spoke this, Yin SuSu couldn’t help but start laughing. In this desolate place, who could possibly hear them?

The weather changed. By now, the days became shorter and the nights longer, until there’s only about four to five hours of daylight. The temperature also dropped. After becoming pregnant, Yin SuSu became more and more fatigued. Yet she still managed to cook, sew, and do other household chores.

Tonight marked the tenth month of her pregnancy. With the fire roaring in the cave, the couple chatted together. Yin SuSu said, “Do you think it’s a boy or a girl?” Zhang CuiShan said, “A boy would look like me. A girl would look like you. Both would be great.” Yin SuSu said, “No, I prefer a son. Why don’t you give him a name?”

Zhang CuiShan said, “Yeah...” But then he remained silent for a long time. Yin SuSu said, “Is there something wrong? You’ve been acting weird the past few days.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Oh, it’s nothing. Perhaps I’m a bit too happy knowing I’m going to be a father!”

Despite having just spoken a lighthearted comment, Zhang CuiShan’s expression remained quite sullen. Yin SuSu said, “Fifth brother, keeping me in the dark would only make me worry more. There must be something wrong.”

Zhang CuiShan sighed, said, “Hopefully it’s just my imagination. But Xie Xun’s expression the past few days didn’t look right.” Yin SuSu gasped, said, “I also noticed. He’s becoming more and more vicious, as if he’s about to become insane again.” Zhang CuiShan nodded, said, “He must be frustrated at his inability to unlock the Dragon Saber’s mystery.” Yin SuSu cried, said, “Before, the worst that could happen would be to die, but… but now…”

Zhang CuiShan held her in his embrace, said soothingly, “You’re right. We must value our lives now, for our son. Should Xie Xun really get out of control, we would have to kill him. Due to his blindness, I’m sure we can defeat him somehow.”

Yin SuSu had become much more compassionate since becoming pregnant. Before, she could easily kill tens of people without so much as blink. Now, she felt bad even when killing a wild animal. One day, when Zhang CuiShan caught a deer back to the cave, a fawn came back with him. Yin SuSu forced him to release the mother deer, said that she’d rather eat fruits than to leave the fawn motherless. So when Yin SuSu heard Zhang CuiShan spoke of killing Xie Xun, her body trembled.

Zhang CuiShan obviously felt this reaction, looked at her fondly, and said, “Hopefully, that won’t be necessary. But we still must make guard against him.” Yin SuSu said, “You’re right. But how would we control him? Perhaps put some poison in his food… No, let’s not do that. Perhaps we’re just being too paranoid.”

Zhang CuiShan said, “I have a plan. Tomorrow, we’ll move to the inner area of the cave. I’ll dig a deep hole by on the outer part of the cave, then put some mud and twigs over it.” Yin SuSu said, “But you have to go hunt everyday. What if he caught you outside?” Zhang CuiShan said, “Don’t worry. It’s easy for me to escape by myself. Should he attack me, I’ll just escape to a dangerous cliff or something. Without vision, Xie Xun cannot catch me.”

The next morning, Zhang CuiShan began to dig his hole. Without an iron shovel, he had to rely on thick branches. Obviously this makes the job much more tedious. But thanks to his great inner power, Zhang CuiShan managed to finish it in seven days, a ditch about 10 meters deep. He saw Xie Xun’s expression becoming less and less stable each day, often swinging the Dragon Saber wildly. So Zhang CuiShan dug the hole a bit deeper, until it’s now over sixteen meters deep. He prepared some sharp, wooden spikes to put on the bottom, and gathered some stones by the side. Should Xie Xun ever fall into the hole, Zhang CuiShan could use the stones to smash him.

This afternoon, Xie Xun came by the bear cave, and began to pace around outside. Zhang CuiShan didn’t dare work at this time, afraid that Xie Xun would suspicious. He also didn’t dare hunting today, only guard by the mouth of the cave, watching Xie Xun’s movements. Only to hear Xie Xun curse endlessly. He cursed the Heaven, the Buddha, Avalokitesvara, the Emperor of Heaven, the Lord of the Underworld, past human emperors, like ‘Yao-Shun-Yu-Shang’ and ‘Qin Emperor-Tang Zong’. And then scholars like Confucius and Meng Zi, generals like Guan Yun and Yue Fei. Just about every single notable scholar or hero in the past, he cursed. Xie Xun’s a very knowledgeable person. So Zhang CuiShan was actually quite amused by his rants on historical figures [3] .

Suddenly, Xie Xun began to curse the people in the martial world, making people like Shaolin’s originator Da Muo, or Divine Fist Yue WuMu, sound worthless. But at least he’s not cursing blindly. Xie Xun seemed to know the exact weaknesses of all the people and sects he cursed. Only to hear him curse the Tang dynasty fighters followed by the Sung dynasty fighters, ending with the greats of the Southern Sung, East Heretic, West Poison, South Emperor, North Beggar, and Central Theurgist. Followed by Guo Jing, Yang Guo, and finally Wu Dang’s originator Zhang SanFeng.

Zhang CuiShan couldn’t bare Xie Xun curse his master, and about to rebut, when Xie Xun suddenly yelled, “Humph, Zhang SanFeng is a piece of bad crap. His disciple Zhang CuiShan is a bigger piece of crap. Let me go strangle his wife to death first!” As he spoke, Xie Xun walked past Zhang CuiShan and into the cave.

Zhang CuiShan hurried inside, only to hear a crashing noise, as Xie Xun fell into the hole. Unfortunately, the spikes had not been put in yet, so Xie Xun was only startled, but not injured. Zhang CuiShan quickly picked up one of the branches he used to shovel dirt. When he reached the hole, Zhang CuiShan saw Xie Xun climbing back up. He immediately attacked Xie Xun with the branch. When Xie Xun heard the sound of the branch, his left hand reached out, grabbed the branch, and pulled it down. Zhang CuiShan could not hold on as the branch darted out of his hand. This pull was quite powerful, so the branch left Zhang CuiShan’s palm filled with blood. Along with this pull, Xie Xun once again fell back down the hole.

Yin SuSu had been going into labor for over half a day now. It’s just that with Xie Xun walking outside, she couldn’t tell her husband, for it might break his concentration. But at this critical moment, she no longer cared for all that. Yin SuSu bit her teeth, got up, and threw her sword at Zhang CuiShan.

Zhang CuiShan grabbed the sword, thought, “This person’s kung fu is far superior to mine. Even if I attack him, he’s bound to take the sword away from me.” But then he realized, “His eyes are blind. The only reason he took my branch is because it made a sound.”

Just as he understood this, Xie Xun let out a laugh, and began to climb up again. Zhang CuiShan saw exactly where he would climb up, pointed his sword down at Xie Xun’s head, and did not move. Xie Xun climbed up with immense speed, going exactly towards the point of the sword, which gave no noise while remaining motionless. No matter how great Xie Xun’s kung fu, he could not possibly detect the sword. Only to see the sword pierce into Xie Xun’s head, who immediately let out a scream. When the sword entered about a centimeter into his head, Xie Xun quickly reacted, changing his direction in the opposite manner, immediately falling back into the hole. Had he been late by even a second, the sword would’ve killed him. However, even though his life is fine, the sword still made a serious wound. Blood poured down Xie Xun’s face, as the sword stuck on top of his head.

Xie Xun took out the sword and tore out a piece of cloth to cover the wound. He knew that his wound is serious, but nonetheless did not care. Taking out his Dragon Saber to protect his head, Xie Xun tried for the third time to climb out. Zhang CuiShan tried to throw rocks at him, but Xie Xun cut them down with the Dragon Saber. With his saber shining brightly, Xie Xun climbed out of the hole, began to walk towards Zhang CuiShan. Zhang CuiShan backed off step by step. He felt saddened, for today he will die with Yin SuSu, never to see his child born.

Xie Xun didn’t want Zhang CuiShan or Yin SuSu to walk past him to leave the cave. For then, he’d have no way to catch them. So with the sword in his left hand and the Dragon Saber in his right, Xie Xun unleashed techniques that covered a lot of area, sealing a five-meter width besides him which no one could go past.

When suddenly, he heard a ‘Waaaaahhhhh’ sound, as the sound of a baby’s cry came out of the inner cave. Xie Xun gasped in shock. He immediately stopped walking and froze, hearing the baby cry continuously.
Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu realized that they were going to die. So they forgot all about Xie Xun, and instead put all their attention on the newly born baby. The baby is a son, his arms and legs kept moving, while crying loudly. Zhang and Yin realized that once Xie Xun’s saber came slicing down, both of them, plus the baby, would all immediately die. Neither spoke, their gaze on the baby. Both thanked fate for being so kind, allowing them to see their baby before death. Even a single extra moment right now, meant a single extra blessing to them. In this instant, the couple felt an unusual serenity, not thinking at all about their future. Obviously, both wanted the child to live on, but since this was impossible, they did not dare to hope.

Only to hear the baby cry continuously, when suddenly, Xie Xun’s conscience reappeared, his madness dissipated. He suddenly remembered the moment his whole family was killed, for it was soon after his wife gave birth. His child died that day too. This baby’s cry made him remember many things in his past: The love between him and his wife, the brutality of his enemy, the innocent baby thrown by his enemy into the wall and turning into a bloody pulp, cutting off his own finger, trying to get revenge, only to fail each time, getting the Dragon saber, but unable to find its secret… He stood in a trance, sometimes smiling, sometimes biting his teeth.

Right before this moment, the three of them were in a life and death duel, but after the baby cried, all of them suddenly turned their attention to the baby.

Xie Xun suddenly asked, “Is the baby a boy or a girl?” Zhang CuiShan said, “He’s a boy.” Xie Xun said, “That’s good. Have you cut the umbilical cord yet? Zhang CuiShan said, “Do I need to? Oh, yes, of course. I totally forgot.”

Xie Xun turned the sword around, gave it to Zhang CuiShan. Zhang CuiShan took the sword and cut off the umbilical cord. Only then did he realize that Xie Xun was by his side, yet did not try to kill them. In fact, he looked very concerned, as if trying to help out.

Yin SuSu said weakly, “Let me hold him.” Zhang CuiShan put the baby into her arms. Xie Xun then said, “Do you have some hot water to give the baby a bath?” Zhang CuiShan said, “Oh, I can’t believe this. I didn’t prepare for anything. What an useless dad I am.” He quickly got up to go prepare for some hot water. But after he took a step, Zhang CuiShan saw Xie Xun standing right next to the baby, and stopped in fear for his child. Xie Xun said, “Why don’t you watch over the baby with your wife. I’ll prepare the water. While speaking, he put the Dragon Saber back on his waist and walked out the cave. As he passed by the hole, Xie Xun simply jumped over it.

After a while, Xie Xun really did come back with a tub of hot water. Zhang CuiShan then gave the baby a bath. Hearing the baby’s cry, Xie Xun asked, “Does the child look like his mom or dad?” Zhang CuiShan smiled, said, “More like his mom. Not too heavy, he has a melon-seed-shaped head.” Xie Xun sighed, said quietly, “Hopefully, he’ll have good luck when he grows up, and not endure too many hardships.” Yin SuSu said, “Elder Xie, are you saying that the baby’s appearance is unlucky?” Xie Xun said, “No. It’s just that if the child looked like you, he’d be too handsome. I was just afraid that his good fortune is too thin. And when he enters society, will face much difficulty.” Zhang CuiShan said with a smile, “Elder, you’re thinking too far into the future. We’re now at a deserted island by the North Pole. This child will live and die here. How can he possibly return to society?”

Yin SuSu said in a hurry, “No, No! We don’t have to return, but do you really want our child to live here forever? When all three of us die, who will accompany him? After he grows up, how is he going to get married and have kids?” Yin SuSu had always been vicious while living under the Heavenly Eagle Sect’s influence. But ever since she became married to Zhang CuiShan, Yin SuSu turned gentler and kinder. Now that she’s a mother, her heart is only filled with love for her son, and only wished the best for him.

Zhang CuiShan looked at her, massaged her hair, thought, “We’re thousands of miles from mainland. How can we possibly get back?” But he didn’t want to hurt her feelings, and remained silent.

Xie Xun suddenly said, “Mrs. Zhang is right. The three of us don’t really have any future. But there’s no way we can let this child grow up and die here, never to enjoy the life of a normal person. Mrs. Zhang, the three of us should come up with a way to get this child back to mainland.”

Yin SuSu was exhilarated, tried to get up. Zhang CuiShan quickly stopped her, said, “SuSu, what are you trying to do? You need to more rest.” Yin SuSu said, “No, fifth brother. Let us kowtow to this elder, for his willingness to help our son.”

Xie Xun shook his hand, said, “No need. Have you given this child a name yet?” Zhang CuiShan said, “No. Elder Xie, you’re very knowledgeable. Perhaps you should name him!” Xie Xun said, “Ok. He needs to have a good name. Let me think…”

Yin SuSu thought, “It’s so great that he actually loves this child. If he thought of the child as his own, then the child will be safe on this island. Even if Xie Xun gets mad, he still wont hurt his own son.” So she said, “Elder Xie, I’d like to ask you, on behalf of the child, for a favor. I hope you’ll agree to it.” Xie Xun said, “What favor?”

Yin SuSu said, “That you accept this child as your godson! So as he grow up, he can treat you like his own father, and you can raise him as your son. Fifth brother, do you not think this is a good idea?” Zhang CuiShan knew the reasons for his wife’s request, said, “That would be great! Elder Xie, please accept my wife’s request.”

Xie Xun said, “My own child was thrown to his death as a baby. Have you ever seen that?” Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu looked at each other. They thought that perhaps his insanity is settling back in. But considering his past, they didn’t really blame him. Xie Xun then added, “If my son hadn’t died, he’d be eighteen now. Had I taught him all my kung fu, humph, I doubt he’d be worse than your seven Wu Dang heroes.” His voice carried both extreme pride and extreme sadness in that last sentence.

The three people stayed silent for a while, before Zhang CuiShan said, “Elder Xie, you really should accept him as your godson, and his surname will become ‘Xie’.” An expression of extreme joy skimmed through Xie Xun’s face. He said, “Are you really willing to let his surname be ‘Xie’? My son who passed away was called Xie WuJi.” Zhang CuiShan said, “If you like, we’ll call this child Xie WuJi.”

In his joy, Xie Xun feared that Zhang CuiShan might take his words back, said, “If you gave your son to me, then what about you?” Zhang CuiShan said, “It doesn’t matter what the child’s surname is. We’ll love him just the same. In the future, he’ll be filial to his mother, father, and his godfather all equally. What do you think, SuSu?” Yin SuSu paused a moment, said, “I leave everything up to you. A child could only benefit from an extra person loving him.”

Xie Xun bowed down, said, “I really wish to thank you. Let us clear all our past differences. Xie Xun had lost a son, but he now gained a son. When Xie WuJi becomes famous in the martial world, everyone would know that his father is Zhang CuiShan, his mother is Yin SuSu, and his godfather is ‘Golden-Haired Lion King’ Xie Xun.”

Yin SuSu originally hesitated because she thought the name was bad luck, since the original Xie WuJi died as a child. But when she saw the joy on Xie Xun’s face, she knew Xie Xun would treat this child as his own, a huge benefit to the child. For the happiness of her child, a mother can give up anything. So she held the baby in her arms, said, “Do you want to hold him?”

Xie Xun reached out his hand, and took the child from her arms. He was so happy he began to weep, and his arms quivered, said, “You… you should take him back. He might be too afraid of my look.” Actually, how could a newly born child know anything about looks? Nonetheless, he did this only because of concern for the child. Yin SuSu said with a smile, “You can hold him for as long as you like. When he grows up, you can take him all over the place to play.”

Xie Xun said, “Great, great…” When he heard the child cry, Xie Xun said, “He’s hungry. Why don’t you feed him. I’ll go outside.” Actually, considering his blindness, Yin SuSu wouldn’t have cared if he stayed. But oddly enough, he has turned into a courteous gentleman.

Zhang CuiShan said, “Elder Xie…” Xie Xun said, “Hold on. We’re one family now. You can’t consider me an elder now. How about this, the three of us become sworn brothers and sisters. This will be good to the child too.” Zhang CuiShan said, “But you are so much superior to us in ability. We’re not worthy.” Xie Xun said, “Humph, how could you be so wishy-washy? Fifth brother, fifth sister, are you going to call me big brother or not?” Yin SuSu said with a smile, “I’ll call you big brother first. If he still call you ‘elder’ afterwards, then I’d be his elder too.” Zhang CuiShan said, “In that case, I shall consent to big brother’s request.” Yin SuSu said, “After a few days, when I could get up. We can formally go through the ritual of bonding by bowing to the Heaven.”

Xie Xun said, “A true man would never go back on his words. Since we’ve already verbally agreed, what’s the need to bow to Heaven?” As he spoke, he left the cave. Only to hear him laugh loudly and heartily in the open field. Since meeting him, this is the first time Zhang and Yin had ever seen him happy.

* * *

From then on, the three of them concentrated on raising this child. Xie Xun was a hunter as a young man, which was the reason for his ‘Golden-Haired Lion King’ nickname. His ability to catch wild animals is second to none. Zhang CuiShan showed him around the island, giving him descriptions to all the places. After a while, Xie Xun became familiar with the geography of the island. From then on, Xie Xun helped out a great deal when it came to hunting animals.

The next few years passed peacefully. The child never got sick, and grew to be quite sturdy. Among the three people, Xie Xun was the most fond of the child. Sometimes when the child became overly mischievous, Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu would try to discipline him, but he would run behind Xie Xun for support. After a while, the child became reliant on Xie Xun to help him all the time. Zhang and Yin could only shake their head and laugh. They said that their big brother dote on his godson too much.

When WuJi turned four [4] , Yin SuSu taught him how to write. On his fifth birthday, Zhang CuiShan said, “Big brother. We can teach our child kung fu now. Why don’t you teach him?” Xie Xun shook his head, said, “No. My kung fu is too difficult. He can’t learn them yet at this age. You should teach him your Wu Dang’s inner power. When he turns eight, I’ll teach him my kung fu. After teaching him for two years, you can leave this island!”

Yin SuSu asked in surprise, “What do you mean? Are you saying we could return to mainland?”

Xie Xun said, “In this past few years, I’ve noticed the wind pattern on this island. Every year when the nights are the longest, the northern wind blew. Usually it blows nonstop for at least thirty or forty days. We can make a small raft, and put on a sail. If the Damnable Heaven doesn’t interfere, you just might make it back to mainland.” Yin SuSu said, “Wait, are you saying that you won’t go back with us?” Xie Xun said, “With my blindness, what’s the point for me to return to the mainland?” Yin SuSu said, “If you don’t go, then how can we let you stay here alone? Our son won’t either. Without his godfather, who will love and care for him?” Xie Xun sighed, said, “I’m grateful that I can take care of him for ten years. This Damnable Heaven always likes to piss me off. If this kid stays with me for too long, the bad luck might rub off on him.” Yin SuSu shuddered, but thought that Xie Xun simply blurted it out mindlessly, so she didn’t really thought much of it.

Zhang CuiShan only taught his son fundamental inner powers. He thought that on this island, his child only needs to be strong, and won’t be fighting anyone. Although Xie Xun spoke about returning to the mainland, he never brought it up afterwards. Looks like he didn’t really mean that.

In the eighth year, Xie Xun really did make WuJi to learn kung fu with him. When he taught WuJi, Xie Xun did not ask for Zhang and Yin to remain by their side. The couple followed the martial world’s rules, and stayed away during those times. They didn’t really bother to check on WuJi’s progress, since they trust Xie Xun would teach WuJi his best.

There’s not much to do on the island. So days and months passed like flowing water. Another year went by quickly.

Ever since WuJi’s birth, Xie Xun had something more important to occupy his time then the Dragon Saber. So he ignored it. One night, Zhang CuiShan couldn’t sleep. So he got out of bed to take a walk. He saw Xie Xun sitting on a rock under the moonlight, holding the Dragon Saber, deep in thought. Zhang CuiShan gasped, about to leave, when Xie Xun heard his footsteps. He said, “Fifth brother. It looks like this phrase ‘Martial world’s most venerable, Precious Saber Dragon Slaying’ really is just an empty boast.” Zhang CuiShan walked closer, said, “There are many rumors in the martial world. Considering big brother’s intelligence, why would you be so keen on finding this saber’s secret?” Xie Xun said, “You don’t know the whole story. I heard the story of the Dragon Saber from the venerable Reverend Kong Jian of Shaolin.”

Zhang CuiShan said, “Oh, Reverend Kong Jian. I heard he’s Shaolin abbot’s elder martial brother. He died a long time ago.” Xie Xun nodded, said, “You’re right. Kong Jian died, died in my hands.” Zhang CuiShan was taken by surprise, as he remembered a saying in the martial world, “Shaolin’s Divine Reverends, Jian-Wen-Zhi-Sheng”, which referred to the four best martial artists in Shaolin, Kong Jian, Kong Wen, Kong Zhi, and Kong Sheng. Later he heard that Kong Jian died of natural causes. Looks like Xie Xun killed him instead.

Xie Xun sighed, said, “Kong Jian is a very stubborn person. He simply let me hit him, without retaliating. After punching him thirteen times, I finally killed him.”

Zhang CuiShan was quite stunned, thought, “Only the top fighters could withstand just one punch from big brother. Yet this reverend could withstand thirteen punches. His body must be harder than steel.”

Only to see a mournful expression on Xie Xun’s face, as if he really regretted something. Zhang CuiShan figured that there must be an important story behind it. For the past eight years, Zhang CuiShan had much affection for his big brother. But within that affection hid a bit of fear. Afraid to bring up Xie Xun’s sad past, Zhang CuiShan did not dare ask further.

Only to hear Xie Xun say, “There aren’t many people in this world whom I respect. Although I’ve heard much of your master Zhang SanFeng, I’ve never had a chance to meet him. As for this Reverend Kong Jian, he’s a very admirable person. His martial arts reputation is lower than his younger martial brothers Kong Zhi and Kong Sheng, but in my opinion, he’s better than both.”

Every time Zhang CuiShan heard Xie Xun speak about famous peoples of the world, Xie Xun either dismissed them, or cursed them. It’s incredibly rare for him to ever compliment anyone. So Zhang CuiShan was quite surprised to hear Xie Xun speak so highly of Reverend Kong Jian. Zhang CuiShan said, “He must not travel around the world very much, which is why people don’t know much about him.”

Xie Xun looked into the sky, stared aimlessly, and as if speaking to himself, “Too bad, this venerable reverend allowed me to kill him with thirteen punches. Even though his kung fu is incredible, he’s too stubborn. Had he fought me for real, I certainly would not have lived till today.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Are you saying that the depth of his martial arts is more than yours?”

Xie Xun said, “I’m nothing compared to him. Not even close! It’s the difference between night and day!” Both his voice and his expression showed his great respect for this man.

Zhang CuiShan was quite surprised, and didn’t quite believe Xie Xun. He always thought that his master Zhang SanFeng’s martial arts is unparalleled. But compared to Xie Xun, Zhang SanFeng is only somewhat better. If this Reverend Kong Jian really is much superior to Xie Xun, then would he also surpass master Zhang SanFeng? But Zhang CuiShan knew that his big brother never exaggerates with his compliments.

Xie Xun seemed to have read his mind, said, “You don’t believe me? Fine, go wake up WuJi. I want to tell a story to him.” Zhang CuiShan didn’t want to wake up a child in the middle of the night, especially for just a story. But since this is his big brother order, he couldn’t disobey. Zhang CuiShan walked back to wake up his son. WuJi yelled ‘Great!” when he heard that his godfather wanted to tell a story. This instantly woke up Yin SuSu. So the three of them went outside together.

* * *

Xie Xun said, “Son, soon you’ll return to the mainland…” WuJi asked, “What do you mean by ‘return to the mainland’?”

Xie Xun held up his hand, telling WuJi to not interrupt him, and continued, “Should you somehow die in the sea, or end up elsewhere, then this will all be pointless. But should you end up back in mainland, I must tell you some things. There are many, many people in this world who are evil and devious. You should not trust anyone. For other than your parents, everyone could try to hurt you. Unfortunately, no one told me this when I was young. Actually, even if someone did, I wouldn’t have believed him.

“At the age of ten, by simply a coincidence, I became the disciple of a person with powerful martial arts. My relationship with my master was like father and son. Fifth brother, at that time, my reverence for my master was no less than your reverence for yours. At the age of twenty-three, I finished my training and left. I went to the western regions, and met a bunch of pretty important people. Since we really hit it off, they considered me on of their brothers. Fifth sister, your father White-Browed Eagle King met me at that time. Afterwards, I married and had a son. My family live happily."

“When I was twenty-eight, my master came by my house to stay for a while. I was absolutely thrilled. My family treated him as one of our own. When my master had some spare time, he gave me some pointers on kung fu. Who’d have thought that this renowned kung fu expert would be a wolf in sheep’s clothing? On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after we had a lot of alcohol, he suddenly tried to rape my wife…”

Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu both gasped in disbelief, for it’s unheard of for a master to rape his disciple’s wife. It might be one of the most horrible deeds a person could possibly commit.

Xie Xun continued, “When my wife cried out for help, my father forced himself into the room. After getting caught in the act, my master killed my father, and then killed my mother. Then to my infant child Xie WuJi…”
When WuJi heard his name, he asked, “Xie WuJi?”

Zhang CuiShan scolded him, “Don’t interrupt! Just listen.” Xie Xun said, “Yes, that son of mine is also called Xie WuJi. My master grabbed him, and threw him down, turning him into a bloody pulp.”

WuJi couldn’t help but ask again, “Godfather, then can he still… still live?” Xie Xun shook his head, said, “No, No!” Yin SuSu shook her hands at her son, telling him to stop asking.

Xie Xun paused for a while, before continuing, “I froze upon reaching the scene. I didn’t know what to do. What should I do in front of the man I respect most in life? Suddenly, he hit me right in the chest, and I just took it without really knowing what had happened. When I returned to consciousness, my master had disappeared. My house was filled with dead people, my father, mother, wife, son, brothers, sisters, and servants, thirteen people, all died in his hands. He must’ve thought I had died from his punch, and therefore left without killing me.

“Afterwards I was sick for a long time. When I recovered, I began to practice kung fu day and night. Three years later, I sought out my master for revenge. Unfortunately, he’s way too powerful for me, and I couldn’t beat him. But how could I simply let him get away with murdering my family? Therefore I began looking for different kung fu experts, hoping to dramatically improve my kung fu. Five years later, I felt I had gained enough, and sought out master again. Unfortunately, I lost again, as his kung fu remained much more powerful than mine. This time, he also seriously injured me in the process."

“After I recovered from my injuries, I received a . This road of fist technique is unusually powerful. Therefore, I began to practice the inner power for the ‘Fists of Seven Damages’. Two years later, I succeeded, and thought that my kung fu should be first class now. Unless my master’s kung fu skill had increased a great deal, there’s no way he’s my match. Who’d have thought that he disappeared? No matter how hard I tried, I still couldn’t find him. I figured he must’ve been afraid of me, and hid in some remote village somewhere. But where to find him?"

“In my rage, I began to commit crimes everywhere. Killing people, burning down houses, everything. Each time I commit a crime, I’d leave my master’s name on the walls!”

Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu both let out a surprising ‘Oh!” Xie Xun said, “You know who my master is?” Yin SuSu nodded, said, “Yes, you are the disciple of ‘Lightning Hands of the Originating Formation’ Cheng Kun’.”

For about two and a half years ago, many renowned members of the martial world were killed for no reason. Over thirty crimes were committed in half a year, and the murder site would always have the name ‘Lightning Hands of the Originating Formation: Cheng Kun’ written. The victims were all either the leaders of a sect, or an old, famous hero. Every crime involved whole families killed. Any one of these crimes would have been earth shattering in the martial world, much less over thirty of them. At the time, Zhang SanFeng sent all seven of his disciples to investigate, but none of them found any clues on the matter. Everyone thought that someone was trying to frame Cheng Kun. ‘Lightning Hands of the Originating Formation’ Cheng Kun’s kung fu is incredible, but has a great reputation and tends to be a recluse. Besides, several of his friends were among the victims. So Cheng Kun couldn’t possibly be the murderer. But to find the real killer, they still have to find Cheng Kun first. Who’d have thought that he disappeared all of a sudden? After a while, the cases all had to be laid to rest. Even though hundreds of people want to seek revenge, no one knew who did the crimes. If Xie Xun hadn’t personally admitted to these crimes, Zhang CuiShan could never have figured it out.
Xie Xun said, “The reason I committed those crimes was make him reappear. Even if he stayed a coward, it’s still much easier to have thousands of people look for him than just me.” Yin SuSu said, “That was a great plan, except you had to kill so many poor, innocent people in the process.”

Xie Xun said, “So? Are you saying that my family wasn’t poor or innocent? You used to be different. I guess after marrying fifth brother for nine years, you’ve also become so wishy-washy.”

Yin SuSu glanced at her husband, smiled slightly, said, “Big brother, so what happened? Did you ever find Cheng Kun?” Xie Xun said, “No. But later, I saw Song YuanQiao at Luo Yang.” Zhagn CuiShan gasped, said, “You mean my eldest martial brother?”

Xie Xun said, “That’s right, the eldest of the Wu Dang Seven Heroes. After committing all these crimes, I already turned the martial world upside down. Yet my master ‘Lightning Hands of the Originating Formation’ Cheng Kun…” WuJi said, “Godfather, if he’s such a bad person, then why do you still call him ‘master’?”

Xie Xun laughed bitterly, said, “It has become a habit. Besides, he taught me the majority of my kung fu. And although he’s a terrible person, I’m a not good person either. Perhaps he also gave me my viciousness. Since I learned both the good and the bad from him, I should still call him my master.”

Zhang CuiShan thought, “After going through such hardships in life, big brother has stopped caring for morals in his resentment for society. WuJi will certainly remember these things, and it can negatively affect his future. I must remember to talk to him about it later.”

Xie Xun continued, “When my master still did not appear, I thought I must commit an incredible crime to get people’s attention. Shaolin and Wu Dang are considered the two most prominent organizations in the martial world, so I wanted to kill a famous person from one of these sects. That day in Luo Yang, I saw Song YangQiao kill an infamous local tyrant. His kung fu very formidable, so I decided to kill him.”

When Zhang CuiShan heard this, his heart started to beat faster. Even though he knew his eldest martial brother did not die, the words still made him shudder. Xie Xun’s kung fu is much superior to eldest martial brother. Besides, one was hidden, one was in the open. Had they really exchanged blows, eldest martial brother would’ve surely died. Yin SuSu also knew that Song YuanQiao did not die, said, “Big brother. Did your conscience act up? Had you really killed Eldest Hero Sung, this Fifth Hero Zhang would’ve surely fought you to the death, instead of becoming your sworn brother.”

Xie Xun let out a humph, said, “What conscience? If it were today, because of fifth brother, I would surely not harm a Wu Dang member. But I didn’t know fifth brother at all back then. At that time, even had fifth brother himself been there instead of Song YuanQiao, I’d still do the same thing.”

WuJi asked, “Godfather, why would you want to kill my dad?” Xie Xun smiled, said, “I was just making an analogy. I don’t really want to kill your dad.” WuJi said, “Oh, I see now,” and stopped worrying.

Xie Xun rubbed WuJi’s head, said, “Although this Damnable Heaven always pissed me off, but at least he didn’t let me kill Song YuanQiao. Or I would’ve never have become your father’s sworn brother.” He paused for a moment, then continued, “That night I ate dinner and meditated to gather my strength. I knew that as Zhang SanFeng’s eldest disciple, his kung fu must be amazing. Should I let him get away somehow, everyone would know who was behind those crimes. Then my plan would be foiled, not to mention just about everyone in the martial world would want my head. My life wasn’t a big deal, but I couldn’t die before getting my revenge.”

Zhang CuiShan asked, “So what happened between you and my eldest martial brother? Odd, he never brought this up with us.”

Xie Xun said, “Song YuanQiao didn’t know anything about this. He’s probably never even heard the words ‘Golden-Haired Lion King, Xie Xun’. Because I never attacked him.”
Zhang CuiShan let out a sigh of relief, said, “Thank Heaven!” Yin SuSu said with a smile, “What are you thanking that Damnable Heaven for? You should really thank this Hero Xie instead.” Zhang CuiShan and WuJi both started to laugh.

 

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[1] Ancient Chinese believes in reincarnation. She simply meant that they would be husband and wife in every single incarnation in the future.

[2] Those are the northeastern-most regions in China.

[3] Yao, Shun, Yu, and Shang are four important emperors in the China’s VERY early days. I think in the ‘Zhou’ era. Certainly before the Spring-Autumn era and the Warring-Nations era. ‘Qin Emperor’ here denotes Qin Shi Huang, the emperor who united China (and built the Great Wall). ‘Tang Zong’ denotes Tang Tai Zong, the second emperor of the Tang dynasty, Li ShiMin. Tang Tai Zong is Li ShiMin’s imperial name. I’m sure everyone knows Confucius(look him up if you don’t). Although I don’t know much about Meng Zi, other than the fact that he’s famous scholar. I think most people know about Guan Yun, very famous person in the Three-Kingdoms era. Yue Fei is the famous general in the Southern Song dynasty. Anyone familiar with Jin Yong’s “Eagle Shooting Hero” should know him.

[4] In ancient China, a person’s age starts at one when he’s born. So Xie WuJi is only three years old in modern age-counting method. Take note of this, since otherwise you’ll find that some conversations would otherwise not make sense.