The Legend of the Condor Heroes – Chapter 23

Guo Jing did not understand the poems, but when he saw the words ‘wind’, ‘flower’, ‘snow’ and ‘moon’ he sighed and said, “Even if we have a thousand pairs of fists, we can’t break them all. Rong’er, you have learned literature and art, what are all these for?”

Huang Rong smiled, “There were some good ones among these poems,” she said.

Guo Jing shook his head, “I still think fists and kicks are more useful,” he said.

While walking and talking they reached the ‘fei lai feng’ [flew in peak]. There was a pavilion built on that peak. Above the gateway there were three characters ‘cui wei ting’ [jade-green small pavilion] in Han Shizong’s handwriting. Guo Jing knew Han Shizong’s reputation; seeing the handwriting of the general who resisted the Jin army he was delighted. He quickly walked into the pavilion. There was a stone monument inside the pavilion, with a poem engraved on it:

‘With the passing years dust has settled on the battle uniforms, especially seeking some fragrant jade-green wine, not enough to only see good mountain and good river, taking advantage of the bright moon light the return of horse hoofs.’

This seemed to be the handwriting of Han Shizhong as well.

“This is a good poem,” Guo Jing praised. Actually, he did not know a good poem from the bad, but he thought this poem was Han Shizhong’s, also it contained words like ‘zheng yi’ [battle uniforms] and ‘ma ti’ [horse hoofs]; so it must be good.

Huang Rong said, “That was Master Yue, Yue Fei’s work.”

Guo Jing was surprised; he asked, “How do you know?”

Huang Rong replied, “I listened to father’s story. In the winter of the eleventh year of Shaoxing, Master Yue died under the hand of Qin Gui. In the spring of the following year, remembering him Han Shizhong built this pavilion and engraved this poem as a memorial. Unfortunately, Qin Gui was highly influential during that period, so he could not openly commensurate Master Yue.”

Remembering the previous dynasty’s general Guo Jing stretched out his hand and ran his finger along the inscription on the stone. While he was lost in thought suddenly Huang Rong pulled his sleeve and jumped toward the bushes behind the pavilion, pressing his head down. As they were crouching, they heard footsteps of people entering the pavilion. A moment later they heard someone said, “Han Shizhong was naturally a hero. His lady, Liang Hongyu, although came from prostitution, had helped her husband achieve victory by beating drums during the battle. She could be considered a heroine.”

Guo Jing found this voice to be somewhat familiar but could not remember who it was. Again another man said, “Yue Fei and Han Shizhong were heroes, but the emperor wanted their deaths and stripped their military leadership. Both Han and Yue must follow the order; obviously the emperor held the power that even heroes like them cannot defy.”

Guo Jing listened to the accent and recognized this person as Yang Kang. Guo Jing was unconsciously startled; thinking what was Yang Kang doing here? While still surprised, another broken cymbal-like voice confounded him even more. It was the Western Poison Ouyang Feng. He heard Ouyang Feng said, “Correct, with muddle-headed ruler in reign just like the previous dynasty; it doesn’t matter how great a hero is, he is useless.”

The first person then said, “But if a wise ruler is on the throne, a great hero like Mr. Ouyang could greatly help him unfold his aspiration.”

Listening to these two speaking suddenly Guo Jing remembered that the other one was the enemy who killed his father, the Sixth Prince of the Great Jin, Wanyan Honglie. Even though he had seen Wanyan Honglie’s face before, but it was not often he heard his voice, therefore, he was unable to remember for a moment.

The three people talking and laughing, then they left the pavilion. Guo Jing waited until they were gone far then he asked no one in particular, “What do they do in Lin’an? How come Brother Kang is with them?”

“Humph,” Huang Rong snorted, “Early on I have seen this brother of yours is not a good thing. You still said that he is a descendant of a hero. You have been deceived. Now you understand his real intention. If he is really a good man, how could he fool around with those two scoundrels?”

Guo Jing was very much bewildered, “I don’t understand,” he said. Thereupon Huang Rong told him everything she heard at the Fragrant Snow Hall of the Zhao Palace. She said, “Wanyan Honglie gathered Peng Lianhu and the other fellows, his intention is to steal the Master Yue Wumu’s Legacy. They suddenly came over here so perhaps this Legacy is in Lin’an. If they succeed then our Great Song’s common people will suffer great calamity.”

Guo Jing shivered with fear, “We simply cannot let them succeed,” he said.

Huang Rong said, “The problem is that the Western Poison is traveling with them.”

“Are you scared?” Guo Jing asked.

“Aren’t you?” Huang Rong asked back.

Guo Jing replied, “Naturally I am scared of the Western Poison, but this is not a small matter; we … even if we are scared we simply cannot overlook it.”

Huang Rong smiled, “If you must take care of it, then naturally I will follow you.”

“Very well,” Guo Jing said, “Let’s go after them.”

Leaving the pavilion they did not see tracks of Wanyan Honglie’s three people group and were forced to look around the city randomly. Hangzhou was a big city, how could they find what they were looking for in a short period of time? After walking for half a day the sky was turning dark; two people arrived in front of the ‘wu lin yuan’ [martial art garden] at Zhong Wazi [lit. the middle of a tile, I think it is a place]. Huang Rong saw a shop that hung a lot of masks in the entrance, with their features drawn vividly. She was amused and remembered her promise to buy something fun for Zhou Botong; thereupon she spent five silver coins and bought ‘zhong kui’ [I think it’s the king of ghosts], ‘pan guan’ [the judge of hell], ‘zao jun’ [kitchen god], ‘tu di’ [earth god], ‘shen bing’ [soldier of heaven] and other ghosts/supernatural beings, more than a dozen masks.

While the shopkeeper was wrapping the masks with paper, there came the sweet smelling fragrance of food and wine from a restaurant next door. Two people had been walking for half a day and by that time they were already starving. “What restaurant is that?” Huang Rong asked.

The shopkeeper smiled and said, “Turned out you two are new to the capital, no wonder you don’t know. This ‘san yuan lou’ [three-primary tavern; ‘lou’ refers to the second floor of a building or a multi-story building] is very well-known in our Lin’an. The wine, the food and the utensils are number one under the heaven. You two cannot not go and try it.”

Huang Rong’s heart was moved by what he said; she took the masks and then pulled Guo Jing to the front of ‘san yuan lou’. They saw the building was decorated with colorful paints and a row of red and green fence. Underneath the second floor roof hung flower-patterned lanterns. The interior was inlaid with luxuriant wood; the pavilion looked elegant and unconventional. It was truly an exquisite tavern.

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