Translation by Jenxi Seow.
He returned to Xi Shi. They sat down and he held her hands wordlessly. When he walked from the palace gate back to Xi Shi’s side, he had pondered over countless thoughts. “How about disguising a palace maid as Xi Shi and let Aqing kill her? Or perhaps Yiguang and I can disguise as Yue armoured soldiers and escape from the Wu palace to live in seclusion? Or maybe when Aqing comes, I can beg her to spare Yiguang and I kill myself? Perhaps I could mobilise two thousand archers to guard the palace gates so that should Aqing try to barge in, they can release thousands of arrows and kill her?”
Yet every scheme had its flaw. Aqing had contributed immensely to Yue. Besides, Aqing was like a younger sister and a good friend to Fan Li. She was the woman Fan Li doted on the most besides Xi Shi. Since they parted, this adorable young maiden was the one he missed the most after Xi Shi. When Grandpa Bai wanted to kill him, she risked being hurt and blocked the attack with her body. He would rather die than kill her.
He looked at Xi Shi in a daze, then he suddenly felt a warmth in his heart. “For the two of us to die her, that is fine as well. We finally reunited before our deaths.”
Time passed slowly. Xi Shi felt Fan Li’s palm warming up. He was no longer afraid. A smile appeared on his face.
The light of dawn shone through the window.
A wave of cries sounded suddenly from the palace gate, followed by endless clanging sounds. The sound of swords falling to the ground. The sound continued from the palace gate, and flew over like an extremely long snake. Then the sound of swords falling to the ground rang out in the long corridor as well. A thousand armoured soldiers and a thousand swordsmen were unable to stop Aqing.
Aqing called out, “Fan Li, where are you?”
Fan Li glanced at Xi Shi, then said loudly, “Aqing, I’m here.”
Before the sound of the word “here” faded, the door opened noisily and a green-robed person flew in. It was Aqing. The tip of the bamboo stick in her right hand pointed at Xi Shi’s heart.
She stared at Xi Shi’s countenance. The murderous aura on Aqing’s face slowly faded and was replaced by disappointment and despair. Finally, her expression then turned into one of awe and envy, and finally reverence. She murmured, “There… there’s actually such… such beauty in the world! Fan Li, she… she’s even more… more beautiful than you described!”
Her slender waist twisted and she bursted out of the window with a scream.
The scream faded into the distance rapidly and gradually became softer and distant. The sound lingered in the air for a long while.
Dozens of guards arrived hastily outside the door. The captain of the guards bowed and said, “Is the dafu safe?”
Fan Li waved his hand and the guards took their leave. Fan Li held Xi Shi’s hand and said, “We’ll change into commoner’s clothes. I’ll go boating with you on Lake Tai and we’ll never return here.”
Infinite joy flashed in Xi Shi’s eyes. Suddenly, her brows furrowed slightly and she put a hand on her heart. Although Aqing did not strike her, the qi exerted from the tip of the stick had stabbed her heart.
For over two thousand years, people regarded “Xi Shi’s hand on her heart” as the most beautiful image in the world.
– End –
Jin Yong novels
Jin Yong wrote a total of fifteen wuxia masterpieces written between 1955 and 1972. Jin Yong’s wuxia works include fourteen novels…