Translation by Jenxi Seow.
Goujian laughed and said, “Haha, I fear I am no match for Wu Zixu.”
Fan Li said, “Wu Zixu has been removed by Your Majesty’s clever scheme. How could he still threaten Yue?”
Goujian laughed heartily and said, “Well said, indeed. Xue Zhu, after your shixiong heard Wu Zixu’s words, he helped him to forge sharp swords, right?”
Xue Zhu said, “That’s right. Feng shixiong went with Wu Zixu to the forge on Mount Mogan1莫干山 – Mògānshān. See Wikipedia](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Mogan) right away.He saw a thousand over swordsmiths forging swords. However, their techniques were lacking, so Feng Shixiong gave them pointers. Since then, swords forged by Wu were sharper than anything made by all other kingdoms.”
Goujian nodded and said, “So explains it.”
Xue Zhu said, “After forging for a year, Feng shixiong burnt out from exhaustion. He was too tired to continue and mentioned my name to Wu Zixu, who prepared gifts for Feng shixiong to recruit me to go to the State of Wu to help Feng shixiong forge swords. I thought of the feud between Wu and Yue. If Wu made sharp swords to kill the people of Ji and Jin, they could also kill my people of Yue. So I urged Feng shixiong not to return to Wu.”
Goujian said, “That’s right, you are a man of foresight.”
Xue Zhu kowtowed and said, “Many thanks to Your Majesty for the praise. However, Feng shixiong did not listen to my advice. He slept in my home that night. He suddenly put his sword around my neck at the middle of the night, and then chopped off my four fingers to make me a cripple.”
Goujian was furious and said sharply, “f I ever capture Feng Huzi, I’ll turn him into minced meat.”
Wen Zhong said, “Gentleman Xue, although you can’t forge swords, you can teach our swordsmiths. We can also forge tens of thousand sharp swords.”
Xue Zhu said, “Please, Wen dafu, both Wu and Yue have the iron needed to forge swords. However, copper is found in Yue, while tin is in Wu.”
Fan Li said, “Wu Zixu had long sent troops to guard the tin mines and forbade commoners from mining tin, right?”
Xue Zhu’s expression was one of surprise. He said, “Fan dafu already knew about this.”
Fan Li smiled and said, “I was only speculating. Now that Wu Zixu is dead, the people of Wu might not follow his orders. If we offer a high price, it won’t be difficult to obtain tin.”
Goujian said, “Nevertheless, distant water can’t put out a nearby fire. To gather the copper, refine the tin, build the furnaces, forge the swords, and start over if the the forging is poor, it will take us at least two to three years. If Fuchai doesn’t live that long, won’t it become a lifelong regret?”
Wen Zhong and Fan Li bowed at the same time and said, “Indeed. We will come up with another plan.”
As Fan Li left the palace, he thought, “His Majesty is unable to wait two to three years. For me to even wait one more day, I…”
The thought of this brought a dull pain within his chest as the image of that stunning beauty appeared instantly in his mind. She was Xi Shi from the banks of Huansha River2浣纱溪 – Huánshāxī. See Wikipedia. He personally sought out this peerless beauty Yiguang,3夷光 – Yíguāng. Xi Shi’s name was Shi Yiguang. Xi Shi literally meant Shi of the West. who accumulated the essence of Yue’s lands in her body. Yet he was the one who personally sent her into the Wu palace.
The journey from Kuaiji4会稽 – Kuàijī. The capital of Yue. See Wikipedia. to Gusu was short. It took only a few days by by river, yet even the short period of a few days was unbearable for two deeply in love to be apart. Two drops of pearl-like tears fell on Xi Shi Yiguang’s pale cheeks as she said with a voice that sounded like the soft whisper of Ruoye Creek,5若耶 – Rùoyēxī. “Young sir, promise me that you will fetch me, the sooner the better.I will be waiting for you day and night. Tell me once more that you will never ever forget me.”
Yue’s vengeance must be exacted, but it could wait. However, Yiguang in Fuchai’s embrace made jealousy and worry gnaw at his heart. They must forge a large number of sharp swords as soon as possible. Swords sharper than those wielded by the Wu swordsmen…
He strolled along the street and eighteen guards trailed far behind.
Suddenly, a chorus of Wu song came from the western end of the street, “My sword is sharp and my enemy is terrified. My sword is fast and my enemy is beheaded…”
Eight men in black strode forth with an arrogant swagger hand in hand, singing at the top of their lungs. People on the street avoided them. They were the Wu swordsmen who were victorious in the Yue palace yesterday. They were drunk and rampaging along the street.
Fan Li frowned and felt his anger rising within his chest.
The eight Wu swordsmen walked up to