Sword of the Yueh Maiden
Last update: Saturday 17 June 2006
aka: Yue Nü Jian [越女剑], Yut Neui Gim [越女劍], Việt Nữ Kiếm, Viet Nu Kiem, Pedang Puteri Yue.
Translated by an anonymous translator found at qiqi.com.
This is the only short story written by Jin Yong. Because of its short length, you can't really see Jin Yong's full talent at story-telling. However, this translation can give you some idea of what a martial arts story is like. My clumsy translation can't really do the original justice, but I hope I have stirred your interest enough that you will go out there and find out more about Chinese culture, history and legend. The process of finding out will not be easy, but I assure you, what you will find will never be dull.
This story is based on real historical events that occurred during the 5th century B.C. It's a period between what's known as the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring Kingdoms period. China was yet to be united under the First Emperor. The so-called Han race didn't exist yet. China was divided into big and small kingdoms, dukedoms and counties which warred with each other constantly.
It all started when the king of Chuh slept with his son's fiancee. Bad move, for any era. The king now feared that his son will turn against him. The fear was fanned into action by the allegations of an ambitious minister who wanted to destroy the crown prince's faction. The resulting purge destroyed many clans and families. One of the family, almost peripheral to the whole thing, was the House of Wu. The youngest son, Wu Tzu-Shi, escaped and vowed bloody vengeance.
After a long and dangerous journey through several kingdoms unwilling to help, he arrived at the newly founded kingdom of Wu (No, the Chinese characters for the Wu in Wu Tzu-Shi is actually different from the haracter Wu in the Wu kingdom). He helped Prince Ho Lu to assassinate his cousin the king in a convoluted power struggle. Then he built up the kingdom of Wu from a barely civilized kingdom to a modern kingdom with the best trained army in the known world. Sun Tzu, who wrote the immortal Art of War, served in Wu at this time.
When Wu Tzu-Shi was ready, he managed to convince King Ho Lu to invade Chuh. At the time Chuh was a superpower and Wu was an upstart kingdom, but the upstart kingdom managed to destroy Chuh's army utterly. Unfortunately, Wu Tzu-shi's vengeance was hollow. The object of his vengeance had already died several years ago. In his rage, Wu Tzu-Shi exhumed the body of the dead king and flogged it until it fell to pieces.
The kingdom of Wu proved itself incapable of absorbing the far larger kingdom of Chuh, so Wu Tzu-Shi had to take his army back to Wu. Then, Ho Lu began a series of wars to establish hegemony over the rest of China. It's in one of those wars when he ran into the kingdom of Yueh. The Yueh people was then even more primitive then Wu was a few decades ago, but they were great fighters. They were ruled by King Kou Chiang. In a pitch battle, King Ho Lu was struck by a poison arrow and died.
Ho Lu's son Fu Chai became king. He was intent on avenging his father. A personal guard was ordered to remind him of this fact periodically by saying "Fu Chai, did you forget to avenge the death of your father?" Fu Chai then rallied his army and destroyed the army of Yueh. King Kou Chiang became a prisoner of Fu Chai for several years. However, Fu Chai was not a brutal man. Instead of annexing the kingdom of Yueh and turning Kou Chiang into a slave, he released Kou Chiang after extracting an oath of fealty from the king of Yueh.
Unfortunately, that gesture of mercy was completely lost on King Kou Chiang. Kou Chiang, like Wu Tzu-Shi and Fu Chai before him, was possessed by the burning desire to avenge the wrongs done him.
Kou Chiang hired two wise men from the kingdom of Chuh. One of them was Feng Li, the other was Wen Chung. The two began to build up the barbaric kingdom of Yueh so one day their king could challenge the power of Wu. Many legends are associated with this period of history. One of the legends was the legend of the Yueh Maiden.
As for the Yueh Maiden, she never existed in real history. She always existed in the land of legends and there, presumably, she roams still. Doubtlessly she has performed many great deeds there, deeds which will remain unknown until some scribe comes and tell the tales as they deserve to be told.