The Legend of the Condor Heroes – Chapter 31

Huang Rong asked again, “Concubine Liu had given you a child; certainly it was good, wasn’t it? Uncle, why were you not happy?”

“Silly kid,” Yideng said, “It was Zhou Shixiong’s child.”

“But Zhou Shixiong had left for a long time,” Huang Rong said, “Could it be that he came back secretly to see her?”

“No,” Yideng replied, “Have you heard the phrase ‘ten-month pregnancy’?”

Huang Rong was suddenly enlightened, “Ah, I know! That child must look like the Old Urchin very much, with pointy ears and high nose; otherwise how did you know it was not your child?”

Reverend Yideng answered, “That is not necessarily so. I haven’t been intimate with Concubine Liu for some time, naturally the child wasn’t mine.”

Huang Rong seemed to understand but she did not understand, but she was aware it was not appropriate to keep asking questions, so she did not pursue further.

Meanwhile Yideng continued, “I was sick for more than half a year; after I recovered, I poured out my attention to internal strength cultivation to dispel boredom and no longer gave thought to this matter. One night about two years later I was meditating in my bedroom, suddenly the curtain on the door was raised and Concubine Liu rushed in. Outside the door a eunuch and two palace guards quickly tried to stop her, but wherever they went, they were struck away by her palm. I looked up and saw she was carrying the child on the crook of her elbow. She wore an extremely panic-stricken expression; she knelt down and cried loudly, she kowtowed in front of me and called out, ‘I ask the Emperor to show mercy, to be infinitely compassionate and spare this child’s life!’ I stood up to take a look. That child’s face was deep red; he was breathing heavily. I took him from her bosom to examine further and found out that five of his ribs were broken.

Concubine Liu wept, ‘Emperor, your lowly concubine has committed a heinous crime worthy of ten thousands death; but I am asking the Emperor to spare this child’s lowly life.’ I was surprised to hear her, so I asked, ‘What happened to the child?’ But she kept knocking her head entreating me. I asked again, ‘Who injured the child?’ Concubine Liu did not answer but kept weeping, ‘Please Emperor, show mercy to him.’ I scratched my head in confusion. She said, ‘If the Emperor bestowed death to me, I would not complain for even half a word, but this child … this child …’

‘Who bestowed death to you?’ I asked, ‘How did the child get injured?’ Concubine Liu looked up and with a trembling voice asked, ‘So it wasn’t the Emperor who sent a palace guard to kill this child?’ I knew something was amiss, I busily asked, ‘So it was a palace guard who injured the child? Which slave did have so much guts?’ Concubine Liu called out, ‘Ah! It was not the Emperor’s imperial edict, so the child’s life can be saved!’ After saying that she fainted and fell to the ground. I helped her up and put her on the bed; I also put the child down on her side. Only after about half a day later she finally awoke. She pulled my hand and weeping she told me what happened.

Turned out she was patting the child to put him to sleep that night, when suddenly from outside the window came a palace guard wearing a mask on his face. The guard pulled the child away and hit his back with a palm. Concubine Liu hurriedly went forward to stop him, but the guard shoved her away. Then his palm hit the child’s chest. Finally he laughed a big laugh and jumped over the window. That palace guard’s martial art skill was very high. She thought it was me who sent him to kill her son; she did not dare to pursue, but she came to my palace to entreat.

The more I heard her story the more amazed I became; I re-examined the child but I could not tell what kind of martial art caused the injury. All I can tell was that the child’s ‘dai mai’ [waist arteries] were shaken and broken. That assassin’s hands were lethal, but obviously he had shown mercy; the baby was so young and weak, but he was still breathing after two palm strikes. Immediately I went to her quarter to investigate, and sure enough, I found very faint tracks on the window sill and on the tile outside the window. I told Concubine Liu, ‘This assassin’s martial art skill is very high, especially his lightness kungfu; it was not a small matter. Apart from me there is no one with this kind of ability in the whole Dali kingdom.’ Suddenly Concubine Liu called out in alarm, ‘Could it be him? Why would he want to kill his own son?’ After saying that her face turned ash gray.”

Huang Rong also muttered in a low voice, “The Old Urchin couldn’t be that bad, could he?”

Reverend Yideng said, “At that time I actually believed it was Zhou Shixiong. Other than him, who in this present age had that kind of ability, and who without any reason at all would injure a baby? I guessed he was not willing to leave an illegitimate child behind and became a disgrace in the Wulin world. After Concubine Liu uttered those words she was bashful and anxious, frightened and ashamed at the same time. She was at a loss. But suddenly she said, ‘No, it definitely was not him! That laughter was not his!’ I said, ‘You were frightened, how could you hear clearly?’ She replied, ‘I will remember this laughter forever, even if I become a ghost I will still remember that laughter! No, it definitely was not him!’”

Listening to this part everybody suddenly felt a chill in the air, goose bumps appeared on their skins. Guo Jing and Huang Rong recalled Ying Gu’s voice and demeanor; they imagined her facial expression when she said those words with clenched teeth, they could not help but shiver in fear.

Reverend Yideng continued, “I heard her so convinced, I believed her. But for the life of me I could not guess who the assassin was. I once thought it might be one of Wang Zhenren’s disciples, maybe Ma Yu, Qiu Chuji or Wang Chuyi? Perhaps they were trying to save Quanzhen Sect’s reputation that they took the thousands of ‘li’s journey to a remote place and kill to close someone’s mouth …”

Guo Jing’s lips moved, he wanted to say something, but he did not dare to interrupt Reverend Yideng’s story. Yideng saw it and said, “You want to say something? You may as well say it.”

Guo Jing said, “Ma Daozhang [Taoist Priest Ma], Qiu Daozhang, they are all chivalrous heroes; they can’t possibly do this thing.”

“I have met Wang Chuyi at Mount Hua,” Yideng said, “His conduct was alright, but I don’t know about the other disciples. But if they could kill the baby with one palm, why did they leave the baby half dead and half alive?” He raised his head and turned his gaze toward the window, staring blankly. Obviously he had not been able to forget the unsolvable mystery of more than ten years ago. The meditation room was quiet. A moment later Yideng said, “All right, let’s talk about that later …”

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