Will the encounter while lion-slaying cause a calamity?
Lu Zhangke’s sneak attack came when Zhang Wuji was resisting the combined power of eighteen foreign monks. The internal energy protecting his body, which formed a barrier on his back, was removed. As a result, the Xuanming cold poison entered his body without resistance and hence his injury was really heavy. He sat cross-legged and circulated the Jiu Yang energy three times around his system. After vomiting two mouthfuls of blood, he felt the constriction in the pit of his stomach loosened somewhat. As he opened his eyes, he saw Zhao Min was looking at him with anxious expression on her face.
“Miss Zhao,” Zhang Wuji said in tender voice, “You are suffering greatly.”
“Are you still calling me ‘Miss Zhao’ after all this?” Zhao Min asked, “I am no longer a royalty, I am not a ‘Junzhu’ anymore. You … are you still regarding me as a little witch in your heart?”
Zhang Wuji slowly stood up. “Let me ask you one question, please answer me truthfully” he said, “Did you or did you not cut the sword wounds on my cousin Yin Li’s face?”
“I did not!” Zhao Min answered.
“Then whose malicious hand did it?” Zhang Wuji asked.
“I cannot tell you,” Zhao Min said, “If you can find Xie Daxia, he can tell you all the details.”
“My Yifu knows all the details?” Zhang Wuji wondered.
“Your internal injury has not been healed yet, asking too much question is harmful to your peace of mind,” Zhao Min said, “Let me tell you one thing: if after your careful investigation you can prove that it was I who harmed Miss Yin, you don’t need to make any move. I will kill myself in your presence to make amends.”
Listening to her speaking with confidence, Zhang Wuji had no choice but to believe her. He was silent for half a day before saying, “Looks like there was a martial art master hiding in the Persian Ming Cult ship. Using some kind of demonic method, he sneaked out in the middle of the night and drugged us all, harmed my cousin, and stole the Yitian Sword and the Tulong Saber. After rescuing Yifu, we need to go to Persia and inquire with Xiao Zhao.”
Zhao Min pursed her lips and laughed. “You just want to see Xiao Zhao,” she said, “Hence you fabricate some story to give you the reason to do so. Listen to me: don’t indulge in fantasy, the sooner your injury is healed, the sooner we can go to the Shaolin Temple to pay them a visit.”
“Shaolin Temple?” Zhang Wuji was surprised, “What do we do there?”
“Saving Xie Daxia, of course,” Zhao Min replied.
“Is my Yifu in the Shaolin Temple?” Zhang Wuji was even more surprised, “How can he be in Shaolin Temple?”
“It’s a complicated story, and I don’t claim to know all the details,” Zhao Min said, “But I am quite certain Xie Daxia is in the Shaolin Temple. Did I tell you one of my warriors became a monk in the Shaolin Temple? He sacrificed his life to bring me news.”
“Why did he sacrifice his life?” Zhang Wuji asked.
Zhao Min said, “In order to bring me proof, my informant tried to cut a bunch of Xie Daxia’s yellow hair. But the Shaolin Temple guarded Xie Daxia very strictly. After cutting Xie Daxia’s hair, my informant went out the temple, bit in the end he was spotted and had to receive two palm strikes. He struggled to deliver the hair into my hand, and died not too long afterwards.”
“Hey! How fierce!” Zhang Wuji exclaimed. It was not clear however, whether his ‘how fierce’ exclamation was praising Zhao Min’s operation, or was referring to the danger of the situation.
Because his mind was upset, his internal condition was affected that he vomited another mouthful of blood. Zhao Min anxiously said, “If I knew the severity of your injury, I would have not continually vexed you like this. I am not going to talk to you anymore.”
Zhang Wuji sat down with his back on a large mountain rock. He tried hard to focus his attention and calm his mind, but there was simply too much in his mind that he was unable to do so. “Shaolin Shen Seng [divine monk] Kong Jian was killed by my Yifu’s ‘qi shang quan’ [seven-injury fist],” he said, “The Shaolin monks and disciples, from top to bottom, have been waiting for more than twenty years to seek vengeance. Furthermore, that Cheng Kun has become a monk in the Shaolin Temple. Since my Yifu has fallen into their hands, how can he keep his life?”
“Don’t worry,” Zhao Min said, “There is something that will keep Xie Daxia alive.”
“What thing?” Zhang Wuji hastily asked.
“The precious Tulong saber,” Zhao Min replied.
Zhang Wuji’s mind was stirred, and he understood. The Tulong Saber was known as the ‘most revered in the Wulin world’. The Shaolin Pai had been leading the martial art world for the last several hundred years, of course they would want to get their hands on this valuable saber. For the sake of this saber, they would not easily harm Xie Xun’s life, but disgrace and humiliation would be difficult to avoid.
Zhao Min continued, “I am thinking that the matter of rescuing Xie Daxia should be handled quietly by just the two of us. The Ming Cult is full of heroes, but if we carried out a large scale attack against Shaolin, the damage to both sides will be heavy. Supposing the Shaolin Pai is not able to defend against the Ming Cult’s attack, they might not want to keep Xie Daxia, maybe they would resort to deceit and begin to harm him.”
Listening to her thorough consideration, Zhang Wuji was very appreciative. “Min Mei [younger sister], you are right.”
It was the first time Zhang Wuji had ever called her ‘Min Mei’. Zhao Min felt unspeakable sweetness in her heart; but immediately her parents’ kindness and her brother’s love came into her mind, which, from this time on, were no longer hers. She could not stop the sweetness turn to bitter.
Zhang Wuji understood her feelings, but he felt inadequate to offer any consolation. He merely mused, “She had entrusted herself fully to me, how can I ever repay her affectionate kindness? Zhiruo is engaged to me, how can I let her down? Ay! Right now, the most important thing is trying to save Yifu; this kind of man-woman love relationship has to be set aside.” He exerted his strength to stand up. “Let us go!” he said.
Zhao Min saw that his complexion was ash-grey, she knew his injury was really not light. Slightly knitting her beautiful brows, she thought aloud, “My Father loves me very much; he won’t give us any trouble. I am only afraid Gege will not let us go. As soon as he can have an excuse to leave Father, he would definitely send people to take us back within these next four hours [orig, two ‘shichen’s – 1 ‘shichen’ is 2 hours].”
Zhang Wuji nodded. He had noticed how firm Wang Baobao handled his affairs; he was truly not an easy person to deal with, he certainly would not give up easily. Presently, both he and Zhao Min were injured; it looked like their journey west to Shaolin would be very slow and full of obstacles. Other than that, they did not have any plan.
“We must leave this dangerous place immediately,” Zhao Min said, “We can stop again when we get to the foot of the mountain.”
Zhang Wuji nodded and he walked toward the horses with faltering steps. But when he was going to mount the horse, he felt a severe pain in the pit of his stomach, and did not have enough strength to climb up. Zhao Min bit her lips and exerted her strength on her right arm to give him a boost. But as she was doing that, the knife stab wound on her abdomen opened up and quite a lot blood seeped out. She also struggled to climb up the horse and sat behind Zhang Wuji. At first it was Zhang Wuji who supported her, now she had to wrap up her arms around his to support him up. Both of them had to stop for half a day to catch their breaths before they finally let the horse went forward. The other horse followed behind them.