This is an old fan translation of the Sword of the Yue Maiden originally published on another site and reposted here. A newer translation of by WuxiaSociety is available here. Both translations use the Third Edition of the novel.
A’qing shook her head, “I don’t know.”
Fan Li became scared in secret, “If A’qing didn’t stop it, that white ape can kill me, easy as blowing away a pile of ash!”
The next morning, A’qing faced twenty of the best swordsmen of Yue alone. Fan Li knew that A’qing could not teach other people how to use the sword the way she did, so the only way was for the Yue swordsmen to imitate her.
The problem was no Yue swordsmen could last three passes from her. Whenever A’qing’s bamboo stick moved, her opponent either lost his sword, or got stabbed in some delicate area.
The next day, she defeated thirty swordsmen. The third day, thirty more lost.
The fourth day, Fan Li went to ask her for another lesson, but he could not find her. He went to her home, but the house was empty. Fan Li sent hundreds of his servants and guards into the mountains to look for her, but no one could find any trace of her.
The eighty Yue swordsmen didn’t learn the true sword skill from A’qing, but they saw the smallest portion of the ultimate sword skill. All the swordsmen now knew the true height sword skill could go. The eighty swordsmen tried to teach the small portion they could understand to their comrades. Even this pale shadow of a pale shadow of the ultimate skill was enough, Yue swordsmen became invincible.
King Goujian ordered Xue Zhu to forge thousands of sharp swords.
Three years later, Goujian attacked Wu. The armies of Yue and Wu met next to a lake. Five thousand Yue swordsmen marched forward. Wu swordsmen met them. Yue swords flashed and the Wu army was shattered.
King Fuchai retreated to Yu Hong Mountain. The army of Yue followed. The second battle ensued. The Wu army was again defeated. Fuchai committed suicide in order to avoid the cruel fate Goujian had in store for him. Yue took the capital of Wu.
Fan Li led one thousand swordsmen and rushed to King Fuchai’s resort palace. That was where Xi Shi lived. He ran into the palace, shouting, “Yiguang! Yiguang!”
He ran past a long corridor, his footstep echoed clearly. The corridor was hollow underneath. Xi Shi walked lightly, the rhythm of her steps was more enchanting than any music. Fuchai built this palace, this corridor in order to listen to the melody of her footsteps.
At the other end of the corridor, music came, like the sound of a happy mandolin, like the clear sound of a zither. A soft voice said, “Shao Bo, is that really you?”
Fan Li felt blood rushing upward from his chest and shouted, “It’s me. It’s me. I have come for you.” His own voice seemed like the voice of a stranger, speaking from far away. He ran forward with uneven steps.
The music came down the corridor, a soft body entered his embrace.
The spring night was meltingly warm. Flower fragrance floated through the curtains, entering the chambers of the resort palace. Fan Li and Xi Shi talked about their longing for each other.
Suddenly the sound goat penetrated into their awareness.
Fan Li said, “You can’t forget you homeland? You have goats here?”
Xi Shi shook her head. She wondered about the goats, but she couldn’t think of anything else in the presence of the man she loved. She held Fan Li’s hand, and fiery blood flowed faster through their arteries.
Suddenly, the voice of a woman sounded, “Fan Li! Bring out you Xi Shi. I’ll kill her!”
Fan Li stood up. Xi Shi felt his palm suddenly turning cold. Fan Li recognized A’qing’s voice. Her voice came from outside of the resort palace.
Fan Li was fearful and puzzled. “Why does she want to kill Yiguang? Yiguang had never wronged her.” Then he understood, “She’s not really a simple village girl. She always liked me.” The understanding only made him more fearful.
He had gone through many, many difficult decisions as well as dangerous situations. The fear he felt when he was trapped with Goujian in a Wu siege was far less than what he felt now. Xi Shi felt his palm trembling and covered with cold sweat.
Fan Li was not afraid of his own death. He feared for Xi Shi.
Fan Li pulled himself under control and said, “I will go see this person.” He released Xi Shi’s hand and walked out of the palace.
Eighteen swordsmen followed him. They all heard A’qing’s cry. They were baffled and curious. Fan Li only saw the clear moonlight outside, but no one was visible. He cried out loudly, “Lady A’qing, please come here. We have things to talk about.” But he heard no reply. He waited, but A’qing did not come. He ordered one thousand armored soldiers and one thousand elite swordsmen to be moved to the resort palace.
He returned to Xi Shi and held her hands again. He didn’t say anything. He was planning as he never planned before, “Should I let one of the servant maids pretending to be Xi Shi and let A’qing kill her? Should I commit suicide before A’qing so she will spare Xi Shi? Should I order two thousand archers surrounding this place and shoot A’qing full of arrows if she tries to force her way in?” Every plan he had was flawed. He also didn’t want to kill A’qing, who had made the destruction of Wu possible. He stared at Xi Shi. Suddenly he felt warmth in his heart, “It’s good that we’ll die this way. At least we spend sometime together before we die together.”
Hours passed. Xi Shi felt that Fan Li’s hand became warmer. He lost his fear and began to smile.
The rising sun cast its rays through the window.
Suddenly the the sound of a fight came from outside the palace door. Then the incessant sound of weapons dropping to the ground. The sound drew closer and closer, like a giant serpent worming its way into the palace. Then the sound of dropping weapons came from the walkways just outside the room they were in. Two thousand warriors were not enough to stop A’qing.
A’qing’s voice said, “Fan Li, where are you?”
Fan Li said calmly, “A’qing, I’m here.”
Before he even finished the word, “here”, the curtain parted and a green shadow came flying in. A’qing, dressed in her usual green stood before them. She pointed her bamboo stick at Xi Shi. She stared at the face of Xi Shi, the killing rage on face gradually disappeared, replaced with disappointment and self-pity, then it changed to surprise, admiration and finally worship. She whispered, “There… there really is such beauty under heaven! Fan Li, she is even more… more beautiful than you described.” Her slender waist turned. With a cry, she flew up through the window. The cry went farther and farther until its reverberation was left.
The surviving guards ran inside the room. One of them bowed, “Minister, are you all right?” Fan Li merely dismissed them with a wave of his hand. Then he held Xi Shi’s hand and said, “Let’s change into the clothes of commoners. We’ll go rowing a boat upon Lake Tai and never return to this place.”
Happiness shone from Xi Shi’s eyes. Suddenly she frowned and she reached toward her heart. A’qing’s bamboo stick didn’t touch her, but the pure chi from the stick had reached into her body and did her some slight harm.
In the next two thousand years, all people know that the most beautiful image in the world was Xi Shi holding her hands in front of her bosom.
Where are they now?
King Goujian finally got his vengeance, but something had happened to him during all those years when the only emotion he could feel was hate. Fan Li must have sensed it. He resigned his post and told his buddy Wen Zhong to resign with him. He said, “Goujian is someone who you can depend on during hard times, but it will be impossible to share good times with him.” Wen Zhong didn’t believe his old friend. He believed that he could finally enjoy the rewards he deserved.
Fan Li disappeared from history. Some said that he became a hermit. Some said that he became a merchant prince who owned the wealth of kingdoms. Xi Shi became the Chinese version of Helen, the beauty who destroyed a great kingdom. Some said that Xi Shi went with Fan Li and they lived happily ever after. Some said that Xi Shi died when Goujian’s wife, fearing losing her husband, tied a rock to the woman’s back and sank her in a lake, gloating, “Now, you never have to grow old.” You can pick the ending you prefer.
Goujian became as Fan Li predicted, cruel and merciless. Wen Zhong was forced to commit suicide when he was wrongfully charged with treason. The end he inflicted upon Wu Zhixu became his own end. Goujian became full of pride. He made war with the great powers of northern China. The wars brought no decisive victory. Then he died. After his death his kingdom fell apart. Eventually, Chu absorbed the territories of Wu and Yue. The Yue people fled south. Over the centuries, they were pushed farther south by the expanding Chinese empire until they entered present day Vietnam. They are there still.
Recently, an archaeological excavation in Hunan uncovered two bronze swords. One of them was thought to be the sword of Fuchai. The other was attributed to be the sword owned by Goujian. The legends of the precious swords have some basis in fact. If anyone know more about the archaeological findings, please e-mail me. The swords Fish Intestine and Defeater of Evil were buried with King Helu, Fuchai’s father. The locals swore that they periodically saw a white tiger standing upon the tomb of Helu. The white tiger was the symbol of metal, so the locals believe that the tiger was the personification of the magic swords under there. Believe it or not.
As for the Yue Maiden, she never existed in real history. She always existed in the land of legends and there, presumably, she roams still. Doubtlessly she has performed many great deeds there, deeds which will remain unknown until some scribe comes and tell the tales as they deserve to be told.
– 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…