The other liveried swordsmen saw the death of their comrades. They drew their swords and was ready to aid their comrades and chopped the swordsmen in blue to bits.
The official cried out in a clear voice, “Those who learned the way of the sword, must obey the laws of the sword!”
His voice was authoritative. The liveried swordsmen quieted down. By now everyone could see that the swordsmen in blue used completely different sword skills. The two who defended were specialised in defence. The two who attacked specialised in attack. The attackers always outnumber their victim because the defenders watched their back. They could win even if their opponents numbered six or even eight. The swords of the two defenders formed a sword net which could handle five or even six swordsmen easily.
The two defenders had cornered a liveried swordsman so he was virtually neutralised while the two attackers already killed the third liveried swordsman. The two defenders moved left and right and watched for more enemies while the two attackers began on the lone swordsman. Even though the liveried swordsman had no hope of winning, still he didn’t throw down his sword to admit defeat. Suddenly the four swordsmen in blue shouted loudly and their four swords impaled the liveried swordsman from four directions.
The liveried swordsman died immediately, but his eyes were opened like round saucers. His mouth opened widely. The four swordsmen in blue pulled out their swords at the same time. The four wiped their swords at the sole of their shoes, then they returned their swords back into the sheath. The movements were completely synchronised.
The king laughed and clapped his hands together again, “Excellent sword skill! The swordsmen of the great kingdom were truly invincible. It’s only today that we’re treated to such a spectacle. Award each swordsman ten pounds of gold.” The four bowed in thanks. They bowed at the same exact angle. No one knew how long they practised to achieve such precision.
A swordsman in blue turned, picked a long box covered in gold paint and said, “Our king thank the generous gifts of Your Majesty. His Majesty ordered us to return the favour with one precious sword. This sword is newly forged in our kingdom for the enjoyment of Your Majesty.”
The king smiled, “Thank you. Minister Fan Li, bring it over here.”
The king was Goujian, King of Yue. The official was Fan Li, the royal advisor. The liveried swordsmen were the Royal Guards of Yue. The eight swordsmen in blue were the messengers sent by Fuchai, King of Wu. Goujian was defeated by Fuchai and he waited for a chance for vengeance. While he was submissive to the Kingdom of Wu on the surface, he secretly trained soldiers in preparation for an attack on Wu. In order to test the skill of Wu warriors, he sent out the best of his swordsmen. He could not expect that the Wu swordsmen easily killed eight of his finest swordsmen. He was surprised and angry, but he showed none of it. Instead, he praised the sword skills of the Wu swordsmen and showed his heartfelt admiration.
Fan Li took the golden long box. The box felt very light, as thought it was empty. He opened up the cover. Before the other people in the hall could see what’s in the box, Fan Li’s face was illuminated by a faint blue light. Everyone cried in surprise.
Fan Li took the box to Goujian and bowed, “Please look, Your Majesty.” Goujian saw that the box was lined with red silk. The sword inside it had a very thin blade. The light it reflected flowed on its surface like water. He said, “Excellent sword!” He took the hilt and lifted up the sword. The blade trembled slightly, almost as though he could break the blade with a flick of his wrist. He thought, “The sword blade is too thin. It might look good, but it has no practical use.”
The leader of the swordsmen in blue took out a piece of gauze from his pocket and threw it into the air. “Please, Your Majesty, point the edge of the sword upward so it will meet this falling gauze. You will see that this sword is different.” The thin gauze fell upon the edge of the sword, but the gauze didn’t stop falling. It kept falling, as two separate gauzes. The people on the hall cheered.