The Legend of the Condor Heroes – Chapter 23

Havoc in the Jin palace.

Original translation by Foxs

Hong Qigong, Zhou Botong, Huang Rong, and Guo Jing took a small boat towards the west. Guo Jing sat rowing at the stern, while Huang Rong continuously pestered Zhou Botong with questions about riding sharks on the sea. Zhou Botong would think of ways to catch sharks in order to amuse Huang Rong. Guo Jing, seeing his master’s pale complexion, asked “Master, what are you thinking about?” Hong Qigong did not reply, he just panted hoarsely again and again. The strike he received from Ouyang Feng had penetrated to the bone; although the vital point had already been released, the internal injury had actually worsened. Huang Rong fed him nine of her nine ‘flower jade dew’ pills. Although the pain lessened somewhat, the asthma was still just as bad. Old Urchin, completely disregarding the suffering of others, continued to make a racket, shouting that they must catch the fish. Huang Rong knew his behavior was inappropriate, and tried to signal him with her eyes that he should be quite so as not to disturb Hong Qigong. Zhou Botong, not in the least understanding, simply continued to cause trouble. Huang Rong knit her brows and said: “You want to catch sharks, but you don’t have any bait to attract them with, so what are you going on about?”

The Old Urchin never acts like a respected senior. When juniors drink and swear in front of him, he’s never offended in the least. He suddenly said: “Got it! Brother Guo, I’ll hold your hands while you dip the lower half of your body into the sea.” Guo Jing respected his sworn brother; even though he did not know his intention, he immediately agreed. Huang Rong immediately called out: “Big brother Jing! Don’t listen to him! He wants to use you as bait in order to catch sharks.” Zhou Botong clapped his hands and shouted delightedly: “Exactly! When a shark comes, I’ll immediately beat it and pull it up! Otherwise, you hold my hands, and I’ll attract the shark.” Huang Rong replied: “You two deliberately cause so much trouble on this small boat; if it capsizes, we’ll only have you to blame!” Zhou Botong replied: “If this boat capsizes, that will be great! We can all play in the ocean!” Huang Rong replied: “Then what about our master? Do you want him to live or not?”

Zhou Botong held his head, at a loss for words. After a short time, he mentioned it was strange that Hong Qigong should be injured by Ouyang Feng’s attack. Huang Rong shouted: “If you talk nonsense again, we three will not speak with you for three days and three nights!” Zhou Botong stuck out his tongue and did not dare to say another word. He grabbed an oar to help Guo Jing with the rowing.

Although the land appeared to be close by, it was already dusk by the time they finally disembarked. That night the four of them slept on the sandy beach. The next morning, Hong Qigong’s illness had worsened considerably, and Guo Jing’s tears began to flow. Hong Qigong said with a smile: “Even if I were to live for another hundred years, I’d still have to die in the end. Good child, I only have one wish left. Using this old beggar’s last breath, I would ask that the three of you do something for me.” Huang Rong replied tearfully: “Master, please speak.” Zhou Botong interrupted: “That old poison I am always seeking is an eyesore. Now my senior is on the point of death; for the sake of old poison you have already played dead once before. For a person to die twice, wouldn’t you say that is delightful? Old Beggar, you go right ahead and die, don’t worry about anything, I will go and kill him in order to get revenge for you.” Hong Qigong replied with a smile: “Avenging a grievance still cannot be considered a final wish; what I want is to eat a bowl of minced five-treasure mandarin duck from the Imperial Palace kitchen.” Out of the three of them, who would have thought that his final wish was to eat a bowl of food? Huang Rong replied: “Master, that’s easy; here is not far from Lin An, I’ll steal several large pots from the Imperial Palace so that you can eat to your heart’s content.” Zhou Botong interrupted again: “I also want to eat.” Huang Rong gave him a displeased look and replied: “You also understand how to differentiate between good and bad food?” Hong Qigong said: “This minced five-treasure mandarin duck is hard to come by. Back in the day I hid in the Imperial Palace for three months, and only managed to try a tiny bit. Just recalling the flavour is enough to make one drool.” Zhou Botong said: “I have an idea, we’ll grab the old emperor’s chef, and make him prepare it.” Huang Rong replied: “Old Urchin, this idea is not bad.” Zhou Botong, hearing Huang Rong supporting him, was very pleased with himself.

Hong Qigong, shaking his head in disapproval, replied: “No way, to make this flavourful mince five-treasure mandarin duck, the kitchen implements, charcoal fire, and dishes all must form a complete set. If even one is missing, the taste will be off. We still need to go to the Imperial Palace.”

Seeing that the three still had some scruples, he said “It will be really excellent, if we go, you will all gain valuable experience.” Immediately Guo Jing carried Hong Qigong on his back and set off towards the north. Upon reaching a small town, Huang Rong exchanged some of her jewellery and purchased a small mule cart in order to let Hong Qigong relax and recover from his wound. Eventually they passed the Qiangtang river, and arrived at the outskirts of Lin An, seeing nothing but the vast misty sunset, and hearing the intermittent cawing of a crow. By nightfall they still had not reached the city, and were forced to seek lodgings for the night. Looking around, they saw only a small village of several households by the riverbank. Huang Rong called out: “This village is good, we can rest here.”

Zhou Botong replied sullenly: “What’s so good about it?” Huang Rong replied: “You look, doesn’t this scenery look sort of like a painting?” Zhou Botong replied: “How does it resemble a painting then?” Huang Rong stared blankly, having difficulty coming up with a response. Zhou Botong said: “This painting must be very ugly, what scenery would it have if similar to Old Urchin’s painting, I’m afraid it must be inferior.” Huang Rong said with a smile: “Want Heaven to create a landscape, just like Old Urchin’s random scribbling of a painting, Heaven also has this ability.” Zhou Botong, extremely pleased with himself, replied: “Are you certain? If you don’t believe, then I’ll make a painting right now, and you can call Heaven to look.”

Huang Rong replied: “Of course I believe it, you already said this place is not good, so don’t rest here, us three won’t leave.” Zhou Botong replied: “The three of you won’t go, why on earth would I want to go?”

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