The Heaven Sword and the Dragon Sabre – Chapter 25

Starting a fire to light the sky so brilliantly.

Everyone was worried about Zhang Wuji’s injury so they did not attend to the pursuit and instead effusively surrounded him. Wuji showed a faint smile, and gently swung his right hand downward once to demonstrate that he was not injured at all. As the Nine Yang Divine Art inside his body began to expel the Yin cold energy of the Xuan Ming Divine Palm [editors note: using Xuan Ming divine palm to match previous translations] from the body, white jets of steam starts to emit hastily and continuously out from the top of his head which now looked like a steamer. When he untied the coat, both sides of his body have a clear deep black palm mark imprinted on. Under the revolutions of the Nine Yang Divine Art, the color of the two palm marks changed from black to purple, from purple changed into ashen grey, until finally the two palm marks were all gone after around an hour. In the past, Wuji had spent several years yet unable to fully drive the poison of the Xuan Ming Divine Palm out of his body, this time, in only a short while it was eliminated easily and completely.

He stood up, said: “Although this event was very dangerous, but eventually we can recognize our enemy’s appearances.” When the Xuan Ming Elders clashed palms with Yang Xiao and Wei Yixiao, they had already been attacked by the Nine Yang Divine Art of Zhang Wuji, so the Yin poison in their palm power was less than two tenths of its normal self, but both Yang and Wei still had to sit in meditation and circulating their energy for over a half of the day in order to totally expel the Yin poison from their bodies. Zhang Wuji cared for his martial grandfather’s wound, Zhang Sanfeng said: “The fireworker monk’s internal cultivation technique was not good, even though his external technique was fierce, it was still far inferior to the Xuan Ming Divine Palm, my wound is not ominous.”

At that time, the Sharp Metal Flag’s General Flag Herald Wu Jingcao entered the hall and reported that all the intruding enemies had withdrawn from the Wudang mountain. Yu Daiyan ordered the Taoist who was tasked with managing guests to prepare a vegetarian feast in honour of the members of the Ming Cult. During the feast, Zhang Wuji turned toward Zhang Sanfeng and Yu Daiyan to report on what had happened to himself since the separation. Everybody exclaimed after hearing the story. Zhang Sanfeng said: “That year, in this Wudang temple, I clashed a palm with an old man, but during that time he disguised himself as a Mongolia military officer so I don’t know which one he is in those two old men. It’s really ashamed that up to now we still have not been able to know thoroughly about our enemy.” Yang Xiao said: “I don’t know what is the origin of that young girl surnamed Zhao that even elite fighters such as the Xuan Ming Elders are willing to accept her command.” Everybody made many guesses but could not come to a conclusion on this matter.

Zhang Wuji said: “At the moment, there are two important tasks. The first one is obtaining the Black Jade Break Connecting Paste to well treat Yu third elder matial uncle’s and Yu sixth martial uncle’s injuries. The second one is finding out eldest martial uncle Song and his companions’ whereabouts. The solutions to both matters is in the hands of that girl surnamed Zhao.” Yu Daiyan said with a strained smile: ”I’ve been disabled for twenty years so even if you really had miraculous pills and divine medicines, my injury would not be able to be cured. Rescuing the eldest brother and the sixth younger brother is more important.” Zhang Wuji said: “We cannot delay anymore, Left Herald Yang, Bat King Wei and Shuo Bude you three please descend the mountain together with me to trace the enemy. The 5 General Flag Vice Heralds of the 5 Basic Element Flags, each to go to one of the five main schools including Emei, Huashan, Kunlun, Kongtong and Fujian Southern Shaolin to contact and inquire about the news. Grandfather and uncle please proceed to Jiangnan to reorganize the members of the Heavenly Hawk Flag. Priest Tie Guan, mister Zhou, great monk Peng and the Five Basic Element General Flag Heralds temporarily stay on at the Wudang mountain and listen to the orders of my martial grandfather.”

During the feast, he casually gave the instructions. Yin Tianzheng, Yang Xiao, Wei Yixiao and the others all stood up and bowed their bodies to accept the orders. Initially Zhang Sanfeng had doubted that such a young man as Zhang Wuji being could unite and command the hero group, but seeing Zhang Wuji giving orders which great heroes in wulin such as Yin Tianzheng obeyed without any hesitation, he felt overjoyed and thought to himself: “He can learn my Taiji fist, Taiji swordsmanship, that’s only because he has a good internal energy background and a strong perceptivity, although it’s hard to do so, that is still not really valuable. But as for he being able to control the great devils of the Ming cult, the Heavenly Hawk sect, lead them into the upright path, that’s really a big matter. Cuishan has a heir, Cuishan has a fine heir already. [Note: spoken with pride that Zhang Cui Shan had a fine heir ]” Thinking as far as here, he couldn’t help stroking his beard and smiling. Zhang Wuji, Yang Xiao, Wei Yixiao and Shuo Bude the four people hastily finished their meal and then immediately said good-bye to Zhang Sanfeng and went down the mountain to search for Zhao Min’s track.

Yin Tianzheng and others send the four people off to the front of the mountain before returning. Yang Buhui was attached to his father and didn’t want to part from him so she accompanied them for another mile. Yang Xiao said: “Buhui, you go back and look after Yin sixth uncle carefully.” Yang Buhui responded: “Yes.” Her eyes darted towards Wuji, suddenly she blushed and said in a tiny voice: “Elder brother Wuji, I have a few words to say with you.” Yang Xiao, Wei Yixiao and Shuo Bude the 3 people chuckled: “You two have been friends since childhood, certainly there’re some personal affairs to speak to each other.” They then sped up their footsteps and ran away for a far distance. Yang Buhui said: “Elder brother Wuji, come here.” She pulled his arm to come to and sit down a big rock next to the mountain side. Zhang Wuji was secretly confused: “She and I have been acquainted since childhood, the friendship between us is not ordinary, this time we met again after a long separation, yet since then she have treated me coolly and stand-offishly. What does she have to talk to me now?” He only saw that although Yang Buhui had not begun to speak her face had reddened already, she bowed her head in silence, only after quite a long time did she say: “Elder brother Wuji, when my Mom was at the brink of death, she asked you to look after me, didn’t she?” Zhang Wuji said: “Yes.” Yang Buhui said: “You crossed tens of thousands of miles, accompanying me from the bank of the Huaihe river to the Western region and delivered me to my Dad’s hands. On the way, you had to risk you life many times and suffer so many hardships. This great graciousness cannot be repaid by merely saying thanks, that kindness of you I’ve only put it deeply in my heart and from before up to now I’ve not raised anything about it at all.” Zhang Wuji said: “Never mind. What good does that have to be raised? If I had not accompanied you to the Western region, I myself wouldn’t have had those lucky encounters and if that’s the case I’m afraid that at this moment I would have been dead due to the dispersion of the Xuan Ming poison already.” Yang Buhui said: “No, no! You’re humane, heroic and generous so every adverse thing that you met can change into good luck. Elder brother Wuji, I’ve been motherless since childhood, although my Dad love me there’re some matters which I don’t dare to talk to him about. You’re the head of our cult, but in my heart, I still only consider you as my older full brother. That day at the Brightness Peak, when I suddenly see you return, I was so happy that I was speechlessness. I felt embarrassed to say it out in front of you, are you angry with me?” Zhang Wuji replied: “No! Certainly no.”

Zhang Wuji saw her back vanish behind a mountain side. His mind was puzzled, he didn’t know how to deal with this matter. After standing in trance there for a while, he ran after the trio including Wei Yixiao. Wei Yixiao and Shuo Bude found that there seemed to be traces of tears in the corners of his eyes, they couldn’t help glancing at Yang Xiao and smiling faintly, meaning: “Congratulations! Left Herald Yang will soon become the father-in-law of Cult Leader.” After the four people had descended the Wudang mountain, Yang Xiao said: “This Miss Zhao doesn’t travel alone, there are many henchmen around her so it’ll not be hard to find her whereabouts. Let us separate to give chases in the four directions East, West, South and North. At tomorrow’s midday we will be gathering together in Gu Cheng town. What about your venerable opinion, Cult Leader?” Zhang Wuji said: “Very good, let’s do just so. I’ll go westward.” Gu Cheng town was to the East of the Wudang mountain, going westward to search meant he’d have to go farther than the others would for a stretch of road. He went on: “The martial arts of the Xuan Ming Two Elders are extremely fierce, seeing them, you three should evade them if it ’s possible and should not single-handedly engage in any fight with them.” The trio accepted the commands. They immediately bowed and made their farewells to Zhang Wuji then left toward three different directions East, South and North to investigate. In the West, there were only mountain roads, Zhang Wuji applied his qing-gong (lightness skill) and ran fast. In more than two hours, he arrived in Shi Yan town. He stopped at a restaurant in the town to order a bowl of noodles. He asked the waiter whether there had been any golden-brocade-covered palankeen going past here. The waiter replied: “Yes, there was! There were also three seriously injured people. They lied on three hammocks which were carried along with the palankeen. They have just gone toward Huang Long town in the West for less than an hour.” Zhang Wuji was very pleased, he thought that the pace of these people was not fast, so in order to avoid revealing his own track, waiting until the evening to pursue them would not be late. He then found a quiet place to take a sleep and waited till the first watch of the night (1 a.m.) before going to Huang Long town.

Zhang Wuji reached the town when it was still earlier than the second watch (2 a.m.) of the night. He hid behind a corner of a wall and saw that the street was very quiet without any sound of anyone. But in a big hotel, there was still a dazzling brightness of lamps and torches. He jumped onto a nearby roof, after several leaps he arrived at the roof of a small house next to the hotel. Looking around, he saw a big cloth tent on a riverside ground. There were many people coming and going at the front and the back of the tent. Obviously it was guarded with strict security precautions. Zhang Wuji thought: “Is it possible that Miss Zhao is in that cloth tent? Her facial expression and her way of speaking are not different from those of the Han Chinese, but the way she acts is overbearing and extravagant to a certain extent.” At that time, the Yuan dynasty had been dominating the Central Plain for a long time, Han tyrannical gentries also tried to immitate the prevailing customs of the Mongolian for honour so this was not strange. While he was pondering on how to approach the tent, unexpectedly, he heard some groans spreading from window of the hotel. He then changed his mind, jumped off the roof, tiptoed to a place under the window and looked inside the room. He only saw that there were three people lying on three beds, among them, there were two whose faces he couldn’t see. The man lying near the window was exactly A’San, he was moaning softly, his injuries was clearly in extreme agony, his two arms and two legs all were bound up with white plain cloth. Suddenly an idea flashed upon him, he thought: “His four limbs were all broken, he must have used the efficacious medicine of his own school, the Black Jade Break Connecting Paste, to treat the injuries. If I don’t snatch it right now, so when?” He broke open the window and jumped into the room. A man standing in the room called out in alarm and sent out a fist. Zhang Wuji used his left hand to grab that man’s fist, his right hand extended and hit on the man’s numb acupoint. He turned around and saw that the two people who were lying there were precisely A’Er and Eight-Armed Swordsman Fang Dongbai. The man whose acupoint had just been sealed wore a black gown, he was still holding two gold needles in his hands. Perhaps he had been acupuncturing the three injuried to cut off the pain for them. On the table, was putting a black bottle, there were several pieces of mugwort next to the bottle. Zhang Wuji took up the bottle, pulled out its lid to smell, he only felt a rush of a hot and pungent odour to his nose. A’San called out: “Help! There’s a medicine robber…” (NOTE: in the Chinese text: 来人哪,抢药… – sorry, I don’t how to translate it well ) Zhang Wuji moved his finger fast as wind to successively seal the mute acupoints of the 3 men. He ripped open the bandage on A’San’s arm. Expectedly, he saw the arm was covered by a thin black layer of medicinal ointment. For fear that Zhao Min was devilish cunning and had intentionally put fake medicine in the bottle to entice him to come here by himself, he began to scrape the ointment of the sores of A’San and the bald A’Er onto the bandage. He thought that even if in the bottle was fake medicine, the paste taken from their sores couldn’t be false. Hearing the sounds, the outside guards kicked the door open wide and fled into. Zhang Wuji didn’t need to look at them, he gave each one a kick sending them out. In a short moment, the people in the hotel had begun to scream noisily and gotten into a chaotic crowd. He had kicked six people out one after another but he had only scraped more than a half of the ointment on A’San’s and the bald A’Er’s sores. Thinking that it would possibly not be very wonderful if he tarried here more so that the Xuan Ming Two Elders would enter, he put the bottle and the bandage in his bosom then lifted the physician and threw him out of the window.

Only a big noise of crushing resounded, that physician was hit by a hard palm and felt on the ground. This was what Zhang Wuji expected, there were definitely elite fighters ambushing outside the window. Zhang Wuji took advantage of that moment to rush out. White light flashed in the dark when two sharp weapons thrusted toward him. To the Great Universal Shifting Technique this was just a minor matter to deal with, applying the technique, he used his left hand to pull and his right hand to direct (NOTE: this sentence is 乾坤大挪移心法牛刀小试 in the Chinese text, but I don’t know how to translate it into English literally and smoothly, I’m so sorry ), the sword on the left then stabbeb at the man on the right and the spear on the right hit the man on the left. In chaotic sounds he had already run away. On the way back, Zhang Wuji felt very joyful thinking that even though this time he had not found out Zhao Min’s origin yet, he had obtained the Black Jade Break Connecting Paste, which was even much better. At this moment it was too late to go to Gu Cheng to meet the group of Yang Xiao, he returned to the Wudang mountain and ordered the Red Water Flag to send members to call them back. Hearing the news that Zhang Wuji had gotten the Black Jade Break Connecting Paste, Zhang Sanfeng and the others all were very glad. Zhang Wuji examined the medicine he had scraped from the sores on A’San’s body carefully, he also took out a bit of the ointment in the bottle to make a more detailed compare and confirmed that they were the same. The black bottle was carved out of a big piece of jade. It was as black as lacquer, caused a feeling of warmness when touching and looked very antique. Even the bottle alone was an extremely precious treasure. No longer having a doubt, he ordered his subordinates to carry Yin Liting to Yu Daiyan’s room, placing the two beds in parallel. Yang Buhui followed into the room. She didn’t dare to look directly at Zhang Wuji’s eyes, but her face showed a radiance and there was an extreme appreciation in her heart. Obviously, Zhang Wuji accompanying her to the Western region and drinking the cup of poisoned wine at He Taichong’s residence on behalf of her, such much of kindness still couldn’t compare to him urgently curing Yin Liting’s injury.

Zhang Wuji said: “Third uncle, your former injury healed up, to treat you now, nephew will have to break off the bones of your arms and your legs then connect them back. I hope you’ll try to bear this temporary pain.” Yu Daiyan did not believe that he himself having been disabled for more than twenty years could be fully restored, but he thought even if the treatment failed, the worst of it would not be worse than the present condition, for the past twenty years he had not been caring for anything already anyway. He only thought: “Wuji has exerted himself to the utmost wholeheartedly wanting to make up for the faults of his parents, otherwise he’ll never be able to put his mind at rest. There’s nothing whatsoever considerable about my transitory pain.” He then did not ask about anything, only smiled faintly, said: “No problem, you can do anything at your convenience.” Zhang Wuji asked Yang Buhui to go out, took off all the clothes of Yu Daiyan, localted all the breaks in his bones carefully, afterwards he sealed his comatose acupoint. He transfered his energy to his ten fingers, ‘crack crack crack’, the snaps resounded continously, all the breaks which healed up in Yu Daiyan’s bones were broken again. Although Yu Daiyan’s acupoint had been sealed, the pain was still so great that it awoke him up. Zhang Wuji’s technique was fast as wind, irrespective of whether the bones were big or small, he broke them all, Then he immediately rejoined all the breaks accurately, applied the Black Jade Break Connecting Paste to the sores, bound them up, put them in wooden splints before giving acupuncture to relieve the pain.

To treat Yin Liting was much easier than to treat Yu Daiyan since when they had been in the Western region, Zhang Wuji had set all the broken bones of Yin Liting in place so at this time he only needed to apply the Black Jade Break Connecting Paste. After treating Yin Liting, he sent the very General Vice Heralds of the Five Element Flags to guard by turns in case the enemy would come to harass. In the afternoon of the same day, after finishing his lunch, Zhang Wuji took a quick nap in the cloud room to regain his strength after a weary night of scurrying. When he was in a dream, suddenly he heard light foot-steps approaching the entrance and woke up immediately. Xiao Zhao, who was guarding outside, asked in a low voice: “What’s the matter? Cult Leader is resting.” Yan Yuan, the General Flag Herald of the Thick Earth Flag, said under his breath: “Sixth Hero Yin has been in such pain that he has fainted three times, does Cult Leader…” Zhang Wuji did not wait till Yan Yuan finished the sentence, he stood up like a spring, rushed out of the room and accelerated his pace to Yu Daiyan’s room. When he arrived, he only saw Yin Liting’s 2 eyes have rolled upward, leaving only the whites, he had lost his unconsciousness already, Yang Buhui was so scared that her eyes filled with tears, she did not know what to do. Lying next to Yin Liting was Yu Daiyan, he was clenching his teeth with screeching noises. Obviously he was trying to endure the pain, only because his temper was unyielding that he did not let out any groan. Seeing that scene, Zhang Wuji was greatly surprised, he massaged several times on the acupoints Cheng Qi, Tai Yang, Tan Zhong… of Yin Liting, resuscitating him, then asked Yu Daiyan: “Third uncle, the breaks in your bones are very painful, aren’t they?” Yu Daiyan replied: “The breaks are painful, that’s just plain, but even the six internal organs and the five innards are itchy unbearably… as if, as if there’re tens of thousands of insects eating and digging higgledy-piggledy. Zhang Wuji could not be more worried, on hearing what Yu Daiyan had just sid, he knew clearly that this was a condition of being poisoned seriously. He hastily asked Yin Liting: “How do you feel, sixth younger uncle?” Yin Liting raved: “Red, purple, blue, green, yellow, white, azure,… How beautiful, so many little balls hovering and moving back and forth… Really attractive… You see, you see…”

Zhang Wuji uttered a loud cry: “Ayo” and nearly passed out on the spot. He instantly thought of a passage in the Book of Poisons written by Wang Nangu that said: “The Seven Insect Seven Flower Paste, made by mixing up seven kinds of poisonous flower and seven kinds of poisonous insect. The victim of this poison first feels itchy in the internal organs as if he is being gnawed internally by seven kinds of insect, then he sees seven colors appearing in front of him which looks wonderful and fanciful as if there are seven kinds of flower flying flickeringly. The Seven Insect Seven Flower Paste is composed of seven kinds of insect and seven kinds of flower so its components vary with individuals and regions. It has a maximum of forty nine different ways of combination each of which has sixty three variants. Only the person who makes up the poison can know how to detoxify.” Cold sweat streamed down from Zhang Wuji’s forehead, he knew that he himself had fallen into Zhao Min’s devilish trap. Not only had she intentionally put the Seven Insect Seven Flower Paste in the black jade bottle but she had also applied this violent poison on the bodies of A’San and the bald A’Er regardless these two elite fighters’ lives essentially aiming to lure him into her trap. Such a fiendish mind was really unimaginable. He utterly repented and hastily untied all the splints and bandages on the bodies of Yu Daiyan and Yin Liting then used white liquor to clean the poisonous paste from their limbs. Yang Buhui saw his serious expression, she knew this important business had not been successful so she was no longer shy of anything and helped Zhang Wuji to clean Yin Liting’s four limbs with liquor. However, the black had soaked through the skin, it could not be washed off no matter how hard they tried. Just like the case of lacquerers whose hands were dyed with colors, cleaning the black was not an overnight affair.

Zhang Wuji did not dare to use medicine rashly, he only picked out several kinds of pain-killer and tranquillizer for them to take. He walked to the outside room, feeling both alarmed and ashamed. His fortitude was exhausted and his knees could not help becoming weak. Suddenly he dropped down, bent on the floor of the palace and burst out crying. Yang Buhui was frightened, she could only call out: “Wuji ge-ge, Wuji ge-ge!” Zhang Wuji sobbed: “I myself killed third uncle and sixth younger uncle already.” He only thought in his mind: “This Seven Insect Seven Flower Paste has at least one hundred ways of combination, who knows what seven kinds of insect and flower that she used are? To detoxicate this fierce poison is merely to use the principle of neutralizing poison by poison, so even if only one kind of poisonous insect or flower is guessed wrong and I use that remedy carelessly, third uncle and six younger uncle will die forthwith.” At that moment, all of a sudden, he fully understood his father’s thoughts when he had ended his life, that was once a serious mistake was unable to be saved, there would really be no way except commiting suicide. Zhang Wuji sluggishly stood up. Yang Buhui asked: “Is there really no cure for this poison? Even reluctantly trying one time is also impossible?” Zhang Wuji shook his head. Yang Buhui said: “Alright.” She looked calm and no longer showed any sign of panic.

Zhang Wuji’s mind was stirred up, he recalled the sentence which she had said before: “If his injury was too serious to be cured, I wouldn’t be able to live too.” He thought: “This time I kill not only 2 people but actually 3.” When Zhang Wuji was at a loss, suddenly Wu Jingcao walked to the outside of the door and reported to him: “Cult Leader, that Miss Zhao is seeking a meet at the outside of the gate.” Just on hearing that, Zhang Wuji felt so indignant that he could not restrain himself, he shouted out: “I’m just about to look for her.” He drew out the long sword from Yang Buhui’s waist, hold it in his hand then went out in big strides. Xiao Zhao took down the pearl hairpin on her hair, hand it to Zhang Wuji, said: “ Mister, you give it back to Miss Zhao please.” Zhang Wuji cast his eyes upon her, thought: “You really know my intention. The feud between me and that girl surnamed Zhao is deep as the ocean, I cannot keep anything of her.” Holding the sword in one hand and the pearl hairpin in the other he walked out of the gate, only saw Zhao Min standing there alone, she was smiling. It was sundown by then, the Sun obliquely projected the blood-red rays of light on her cheeks, she looked incomparably beautiful. The Xuanming Two Elders stood behind her from more than ten zhang (33.33m), they were holding three excellent horses in their hands and staring into space.

Zhang Wuji moved his body, in a flash he was right in front of Zhao Min. He extended his left hand and grabbed both Zhao Min’s wrists, his right hand pointed the tip of the sword at her chest. He shouted at her: “Give up the antidote, quick!” Zhao Min smiled: “You’ve bullied me once before, this time you also want to bully me again, don’t you? I come here to inquire after you, yet you bear a glowering face, how can this be a proper way of welcoming guest?” Zhang Wuji said: “I need the antidote, if you don’t hand it over, I… I’ll not want to live anymore, you don’t think you’ll be able to live as well.” Zhao Min’s cheeks slightly reddened, she spit in a soft voice and said: “Bah! How nice? You dying is your own business, how come it has anything to do with me that you want me do die together with you?” Zhang Wuji raised his voice: “Who’s joking with you, huh? Hand over the antidote or else this day will be the day you and I die togerther.” At that time both the hands of Zhao Min were being seized tightly by him, she felt he was tremulously all of a shake showing an extremely excited mood, she also felt a hard object in his hand, so she asked: “What are you holding in your hand?” Zhang Wuji said: “Your pearl hairpin. I give it back to you.” He lifted his left hand to fix the hairpin onto her hair then immediately got hold of her two wrists again. His technique was fast as lightning performing the release and the grasp nearly at same time. Zhao Min said: “I gave it to you, why don’t you want it?” Zhang Wuji said fretfully: “You’ve always played me up and caused me good miseries, I don’t want to receive anything from you.” Zhao Min said: “You don’t wanna receive anything from me? Are you serious or just kidding? So why did you ask me to hand over the antidote as soon as you began to speak?” Previously, every time Zhang Wuji had argued with her, he had always gotten disadvantaged, this time he got stuck too. Thinking of Yu Daiyan and Yin Liting going to die before long, he felt deep grief in his heart and his eyes could not refrain from turning reddish, he almost let his tears roll down. No longer being able to bear up anymore, Zhang Wuji was about to implore her for the antidote but remembering that Zhao Min was such malignant, he did not want to show his feebleness in front of her.

At this time, Yang Xiao and others had known the news, they walked out of the gate together and saw that Zhao Min had been caught by Wuji and the Xuanming Two Elders were standing from a long distance as if they did not care for or did not fear anything. Everybody then stood aside and observed calmly.

Zhao Min smiled and said: “You’re the Leader of the Ming cult, your martial arts can shake the world, yet just encountering a bit of difficulty you wept ‘wah wah wah’ noisily like a child already. You just cried a short moment ago, right? That’s just really shameful. Let me tell you. You were hit two stances of the Xuanming Divine Palm by the the Xuanming Two Elders so I come here to ask after your injury. But to my unexpected, just barely seeing my face, you already made a fuss about nothing but die and live stuff, why? Let go of me will you?” Zhang Wuji thought even if she wanted to take the opportunity to get away she would not be able to do so since as soon as her feet moved, he would immediately grab hold of her, so he set her hands free. Zhao Min raised one hand to adjust the pearl hairpin on her hair, she smiled and said: “You seem not to be injured at all, don’t you?” Zhang Wuji said coldly: “Just the Xuanming Divine Palm alone not necessarily can injure me.” Zhao Min said: “Then how about the Great Force Diamond Finger and the the Seven Insect Seven Flower Paste?” These two sentences were like two big iron hammers striking hard on Zhang Wuji’s chest. He said vexedly: “It’s expectedly the Seven Insect Seven Flower Paste.” Zhao Min said in a stern voice: “Cult Leader Zhang, you want to get the Black Jade Break Connecting Paste, I can give you, you want to get the antidote for the Seven Insect Seven Flower Paste, I also can give you provided that you’re willing to promise to meet my three matters, then I’ll offer them up to you with pleasure. But if you use force to intimidate me, well, it’s easy to kill me, but to obtain the antidote, that’ll be hard and even harder in addition. And if you dare to torture me again, I’ll only give you poison and fake medicine.”

Zhang Wuji felt very jubilant and immediately showed gladness in his expression, although his eyes were still being dewed with tears. He hastily said: “What three matters? Quick say, quick say.” Zhao Min said with a smile: “Both crying and smiling at the same time, you’re really shameless! I said to you earlier, I’ve not thought them out yet. When I think of them I’ll let you know, as long as you promise me faithfully and don’t break your words. I will not ask you to clutch the Moon in the sky, also not ask you to do the evil things which violate the chivalry ethics, not ask you to commit suicide as well, and of course not ask you to act as dogs or pigs either.” Zhang Wuji thought: “On condition that those matters don’t go against the chivalry ethics, no matter how hard they are I’ll work myself to exhaustion to complete.” He then said chivalrously: “Miss Zhao, if you kindly bestow the efficacious medicine so that I can cure my third uncle Yu and sixth younger uncle Yin, then no matter what you ask me to do, Zhang Wuji will never dare to refuse even if I’ll have to jump into boiling water or walk on burning fire. Please yourself.” Zhao Min streched out one palm, said: “Good, let’s applaud for the oath. I’ll give you the antidote so that you can treat your third uncle and sixth younger uncle. Later on, if I ask you to do three things which don’t offend the knightliness you will not be permited to refuse and will have to try your best to fulfill them.” Zhang Wuji said: “With respect, I obey your venerable words.” He gently clashed palms with her three times. Zhao Min took down the hairpin from her head, said: “So now, do you want to accept my present?” In fear of her not giving the antidote, he did not dare to disobey her will and hastily received the pearl hairpin. Zhao Min said: “But I don’t want you to pass it on to that pretty maidservant again.” Zhang Wuji said: “Yes.” Zhao Min took three steps backward, she smiled and said: “The antidote will be delivered to you immediately, Cult Leader Zhang, goodbye!” She brushed her sleeves, turned around and walked away. The Xuanming Two Elders then led the horses along. They helped her get on a horse to leave first before following her. The clop-clop of hoofbeats resounded when the three horses descended the mountain.

When the trio including Zhao Min had just passed a mountain side, a man poked out from the canopy of a big tree on the left, he was Qian Er’bai of the Divine Arrow Eight Heroes and was holding an iron bow. He fixed an arrow on the bow and shouted: “With all due respect, my owner submits a letter to Cult Leader Zhang, please accept and read.” Upon these words, a ‘sou’ sound was heard, the arrow had shot toward him. Zhang Wuji made a wave with his left hand to catch the arrow. He found that the arrow did not have the arrowhead and there was a letter tied to the end of it. Zhang Wuji untied the letter from the arrow to take a look, the envelope read ‘Personally addressed to Cult Leader Zhang’. He opened the envelope and saw a flower-filigreed paper on which there were several lines written in the little standard script style (xiao kaishu – 小楷書 ):

‘The golden box has two compartments
one of which has contained the efficacious paste for long,
The pearl hairpin is hollow
which has the remedy for the poison inside
Those two things were offered to the gentleman long ago
why are you so exhausted and worried?
Though they are just tiny things
which are not worthy being taken into consideration
why did you give them to a maidservant?
why did you regard them just as dirt and dust?
They are not counted as my sincere wishes are they?’

(Foxs, edited by Eliza Bennet)

Zhang Wuji read this note three times; he was pleasantly surprised but also ashamed. Hastily he examined the pearl head ornament and tried to twist the pearls one by one. Finally he found one he could unscrew and remove completely. The golden stem was hollow and inside it was a little white scroll. Zhang Wuji took out a golden needle from his pocket, the one he usually used for acupuncture, and fished the scroll out. The paper was very thin; on it the list of seven poisonous insects and seven poisonous flowers, plus the recipe of the antidote, were indeed written, everything was explained clearly one by one. Actually, Zhang Wuji only needed to know the seven insects and seven flowers, since he did not need other people’s direction on how to detoxify it. He looked at the recipe and found it to be correct, so he knew Zhao Min was not trying to swindle him. Hastily he rushed to the inner courtyard and prepared the antidote. Sure enough, a little over two hours later Yu and Yin two people were in a much better condition, the itch inside their bodies stopped and the various colors they saw in their vision disappeared.

Zhang Wuji took out the golden case in which Zhao Min delivered the pearl head ornament. After examining it carefully he found the secret compartment on the box’s wall, with black paste pressed in between. The paste smelled fragrant and cool. This time he did not dare to act recklessly, thereupon he caught a dog and broke its hind leg, then spread the paste on it. Early morning the next day that dog was running around without any sign of poisoning, and its broken leg was healed.

By the third day the poison inside Yu and Yin two people was completely eradicated; thereupon Zhang Wuji applied the ‘hei yu duan xu gao’ [black jade break connecting (or fracture healing) paste] on their four limbs. This time nothing strange happened. The ‘hei yu duan xu gao’ was marvelously effective; after about two months Yin Liting’s hands could move freely. It looked like very soon not only he would be able to move his hands and feet, but also his martial art was not damaged too much. Too bad Yu Daiyan had been disabled for too long, it would be difficult for him to fully recover. But looking at his condition right now, there was a great chance that within half a year he would be able to walk with crutches. He would still be handicapped, but he would be able to move around and not be crippled anymore.

Because Zhang Wuji was delayed on the Mount Wudang, he dispatched the Five-Element Flags to go down the mountain ahead of him. Upon their return they brought some rather disturbing news. Not a single one of the people from Emei, Huashan, Kongtong and Kunlun Sects who went to the Brightness Peak returned to their respective sect. The Jianghu world was shaken. Everybody said that the Devil Cult had annihilated all experts from the six major sects who went on the expedition to the western region, and then extinguished each sect separately one by one. The sudden-disappearing Shaolin monks had created an unprecedented wave in the Wulin world. Luckily each flag leader and his second-in-command carried the letter written by Zhang Sanfeng of Wudang Sect; they also did not reveal their true identities, otherwise they would be torn to pieces by each sect they visited.

All flag leaders and his second-in-commands also reported that by that time in Jianghu world every sect, clan and society, as well as expedition companies, robbers, pirates, harbor gangs, and so on were on the highest level of alert since they were afraid the Ming Cult would launch a large scale attack.

A few days later Yin Tianzheng and Yin Yewang father and son had also returned to Wudang, reporting that the completion of the reorganizing effort of the Heavenly Eagle Flag; it is now part of the Ming Cult. They also reported that the warriors of the southeast raised their arms to fight the Yuan invaders; the world was in great tumult. In the meantime the Yuan army was still too strong, furthermore each rebellion was staged individually, without any contact with each other; therefore, they were easily crushed.

That same evening Zhang Sanfeng held a vegetarian banquet at the rear hall in honor of Yin Tianzheng father and son. During the banquet Yin Tianzheng narrated the cause of each defeat, and how in each insurrection the Ming Cult and the Heavenly Eagle Sect disciples always took part in it, and that many of them were captured or even killed by the Yuan soldiers; making an ultimate sacrifice in the process.

As the group of warriors listened to his narration, they all sighed in grief and anger. Yang Xiao said, “The people’s suffering is already very deep. Their hearts are changed; they want to drive the Tartar and capture back our river and mountain [‘he shan’ – country or land]. When Yang Jiaozhu was still alive, day and night it was his sole concern. It’s a pity that our Cult used to handle matters differently that for the last hundred of years we are always involved in feud against various Wulin sects of the Central Plains; making it difficult to join hands to fight the enemy. With the Heaven’s blessing we now have Zhang Jiaozhu to handle the Cult’s affairs, gradually solving our enmity with each sect. The time is ripe to work together and drive out the invaders.”

“Yang Zuoshi,” Zhou Dian said, “What you said was not wrong, but it was a pile of rubbish, it was like a fart.”

Yang Xiao was not angry, “Then I am waiting for Zhou Xiong’s advice,” he said.

Zhou Dian replied, “The Jianghu people all say that our Cult has killed the experts of six major sects. Once they heard the word ‘Ming Cult’ their hatred is going deep into their bones and marrows. What do you mean by ‘working together and drive out the invaders’? It was pleasant to the ears, but how do we do it?”

“It’s true that we have a bad name,” Yang Xiao said, “But the truth will always be revealed in the end; moreover, we now have Zhang Zhenren [lit. true/real person – a respectable term to address a Taoist Priest] as our witness.”

Zhou Dian laughed, “Supposing that it was really us who killed Song Yuanqiao, Old Nun Mie Jue, He Taichong and the others, how would Zhang Zhenren know that he was not being deceived?”

Tieguan Daoren [Iron Hat Taoist Priest] reprimanded him harshly, “Zhou Dian, don’t talk nonsense in front of Zhang Zhenren and Jiaozhu!”

Zhou Dian stuck out his tongue but did not reply. Peng Yingyu said, “What Zhou Xiong said was not without reason. According to pinseng’s [lit. impoverished monk – he was referring to himself] opinion, we should hold a general assembly of the Ming Cult’s leaders, where we will make known Zhang Jiaozhu’s intention to repair our relation with the Wulin world’s various sects. At the same time, more people means broader horizon; we can discuss these matters and investigate Song Daxia [great hero Song], Mie Jue Shitai and the others’ whereabouts during the assembly.”

“If you want to find Song Daxia and the others’ whereabouts; that is very easy. I might say as easy as blowing off the dust on top of this table,” Zhou Dian said.

They were all surprised, “How?” they asked, “Why didn’t you say so earlier?”

With a smug expression on his face, Zhou Dian drank a cup of wine and said, “All we need is Jiaozhu to go and ask that Miss Zhao. I am 90% sure that we will understand everything. I say if those people are not killed by Miss Zhao, then they must be captured by her.”

For the last two months, Wei Yixiao, Yang Xiao, Peng Yingyi, Shuo Bude and the others had separately gone down the mountain trying to find out Zhao Min’s origin and to track her trail; but since her appearance in front of Wudang and she shook hands with Zhang Wuji to seal their agreement, this person had disappeared without any trace. Even her many subordinates all had vanished without leaving the least bit of trace. They all speculated that she was related to the imperial government, but other than that they did not have any clue as where to seek her. This time hearing Zhou Dian speak they said, “Now you are talking rubbish! If we found that girl surnamed Zhao, wouldn’t we ask her ourselves?”

Zhou Dian said with a smile, “You certainly can’t find her; but Jiaozhu does not have to seek her to find her. Jiaozhu still owes her three things; do you think that fierce Miss will let him go so easily? Hey, hey! This girl is beautiful, but each time I think about her, all the hair on my body stands on its end; she causes me to shiver.”

Everybody could not help but smile, yet they understood the truth in what he said. Zhang Wuji sighed and said, “I only hope she would give me her three difficult problems quickly then I will do my best to do them and bring this matter to completion. Otherwise my thoughts will be in suspense all day long; not knowing what kind of strange trick she is performing. Anyway, about Peng Dashi’s [reverend, lit. grand master] suggestion earlier; our Cult will hold a general assembly of the leaders. This is quite feasible. What do all of you think?”

“It is,” they replied, “But it is better not on Mount Wudang.”

“Jiaozhu,” Yang Xiao said, “Where do you think is the best place?”

Zhang Wuji hesitated a moment before saying, “Being a humble Cult Leader today I always remember our own Cult’s two people’s benevolence. One is the Yi-xian [lit. medicine/medical immortal – Divine Doctor] of Butterfly Valley, Mr. Hu Qingniu; that Senior died under the Golden Flower Granny’s hand. The other is Chang Yuchun Dage [big brother]; I don’t know his whereabouts nowadays. I think, let’s hold our Cult’s general assembly on the Butterfly Valley in Huaibei.”

Zhou Dian clapped his hands and said, “Very good, very good! I bickered constantly with this ‘jian si bu jiu’ [seeing death without helping – previous translator used ‘rather see death than help’] in the past, but actually he was not a bad person, just a little bit eccentric. He employed different methods from Yang Zuoshi [Left Emissary Yang], but achieved equally wonderful results. He saw someone in danger and did nothing, in the end he died without anybody helping him; it was his retribution. I, Zhou Dian, want to go to his grave and bow to honor him.”

The rest of the group did not have any objection, they agreed upon the Midautumn Festival [‘zhong qiu’] in the eighth month, which was still a little over three months away; all leaders of the Ming Cult would hold their general assembly on the Butterfly Valley in Huaibei, the former residence of Hu Qingniu.

Early morning the next day all the Five-Element Flags and the Heavenly Eagle Flag went down Mount Wudang to convey their Cult Leader’s order: All cult leaders, from ‘xiang zhu’ [Translator note: I am not sure about this; I think this is a supervisory position name within the Cult] and above to leave the business of the Cult to their assistants, and to be at the Huaibei’s Butterfly Valley before the eighth month’s Mid-autumn Festival, to pay their respect to the new Cult Leader.

By that time the Mid-autumn Festival was still some days away, and since Yu Daiyan and Yin Liting had not fully recovered from their injuries, Zhang Wuji was afraid their illness would recur and thus his efforts would be in vain; therefore, he decided to stay on Mount Wudang to look after Yu and Yin two people, while at the same time he leisurely asked Zhang Sanfeng to teach him more about Taiji Fist and Sword techniques. Wei Yixiao, Peng Yingyu, Shuo Bude and the others went down the mountain once again trying to track Zhao Min’s whereabouts. Yang Xiao received the Cult Leader’s order to stay at Wudang, but because of Ji Xiaofu’s affair, he felt uncomfortable to meet Yin Liting; hence he stayed cooped up in his room reading books and did not go out even for a single step from his door unless it was important to do so.

And so two months have passed. About the seventh hour [between 11am – 1pm] one particular day Zhang Wuji visited Yang Xiao in his room; he wanted to consult Yang Xiao on the Butterfly Valley congress and to ask him about important matters surrounding their Cult. He was still young and lacking experience, suddenly thrown into the deep end of the pool; he oftentimes felt inadequate to bear this heavy responsibility. He was afraid he might do wrong an important matter and cause harm; while Yang Xiao had a deep knowledge of their Cult’s affair. For that reason Zhang Wuji wanted Yang Xiao to be nearby so he could consult him anytime.

Two people discussed the congress at length. Zhang Wuji casually took a book lying on top of Yang Xiao’s table. On the cover these seven characters were written‘Ming Jiao Liu Chuan Zhong Tu Ji’ [A record on the spread of Ming Cult to the Central Earth]; underneath, in smaller characters, ‘Di Zi Guang Ming Zuo Shi Yang Xiao Gong Zhuan’ [respectfully compiled by the Brightness disciple, Left Emissary Yang Xiao]. Zhang Wuji said, “Yang Zuoshi, you are skilled in both pen and sword [‘wen wu quan cai’], truly you are our Cult’s pillar.”

“Many thanks for Jiaozhu’s compliment,” Yang Xiao said.

Zhang Wuji opened the book and saw in neat little characters an extensive documentation of everything about the Cult. The Ming Cult originated from Persia; it was originally called ‘Mo Ni Jiao’ [Manichaeism]. It entered the Central Earth during the first Yan Zai year of Empress Wu of the Tang Dynasty, when a Persian man presented the Ming Cult’s ‘san zong jing’ [three-purpose scripture] to the court; since then the Chinese people started to practice this teaching. In the third year of Tang’s master calendar, on the twenty ninth day of the sixth month the first Ming Cult temple was built in Luoyang, Chang’an, with the name of ‘Da Yun Guang Ming Si’ [Great Cloud Brightness Temple]. Later on, these kinds of temples were built in Taiyuan, Jingzhou, Yangzhou, Hongzhou, Yuezhou, and other strategic small cities. Toward the third Hui Chang year the imperial government issued an order to kill the Ming Cult disciples; at that time the Ming Cult influence was greatly diminished. Since then the Ming Cult became an underground religion, oppressed by subsequent dynasties. In order for the Ming Cult to survive, it had to resort to sly and secret behavior, that in the end the character ‘mo’ of the ‘Mo Ni Jiao’ was changed to ‘mo’ [devil]; hence the people started calling it the Devil Cult.

Reading to this part Zhang Wuji heaved a long sigh and said, “Yang Zuoshi, our Cult’s original teaching was to shun evil and do good deeds, no different than Buddhism or Taoism. Why is it since the Tang Dynasty we have been the target of oppression even to the point of atrocious slaughters?”

Yang Xiao replied, “Although Buddhism aim for the restoration of human kind, once a monk leaves home he empties himself and doesn’t pay any more attention toward worldly matters. Taoism is the same. Our Cult moves among the common people and peasants; if we see someone in suffering or deep poverty, regardless of who it is, our people will strive to help. The government officials always bully common people; when did you ever see they didn’t? Where did you ever see they didn’t? As soon as we know someone received unjust treatment from an officer, our Cult is bound to clash with that officer.”

Zhang Wuji nodded his head, “Only when the royal government authorities stop bullying common people, local tyrant landlords do not dare to run amuck, when that time comes, our Cult will enjoy true prosperity,” he said.

Yang Xiao slapped the table and with a loud voice said, “What Jiaozhu said was the key point of our Cult’s purpose.”

“Yang Zuoshi,” Zhang Wuji asked, “Do you think that day will come?”

Yang Xiao was silent for half a day before answering, “I do hope that day will come. During the Song Dynasty, Fang La, our own Fang Jiaozhu, rose up to tell the government authorities not to bully the common people.” He opened the book and pointed the record about Ming Cult’s Cult Leader Fang La staging an earth-shaking rebellion on east Zhejiang.

As Zhang Wuji read that part, he lifted his eyes to gaze towards the distance. Closing the book he said, “A real man should be as strong as he was. Although Fang Jiaozhu sacrificed his life, we can say that in the end he had rendered a massive contribution to our cause.” Two people were thinking of the same thing and their blood was boiling.

Yang Xiao continued, “Although our Cult is oppressed for the last several dynasties, we actually are still standing strong. During the fourth Shaoxing year of the Song Dynasty there was an officer by the name of Wang Juzheng who presented a report about our Cult to the Emperor. Jiaozhu, you can take a look at it.” While saying that he turned the page containing Wang Juzheng’s report.

Zhang Wuji read the report as follows: ‘In two of Zhejiang prefectures there is a custom of worshipping the devil and eating only vegetables.” Before Fang La the ban against this custom was still lenient and it was not as widely spread. After Fang La, the ban was stricter, but the devil worshiping became more rampant … Subordinate heard that this is how they operate: there are one or two crafty devil worshipper leaders in every town and village, these have the record of names of the villagers who pledge to join the devil society. All of the devil worshippers do not eat meat. If one of their members is in difficulty, their comrades would do all they can to help. Basically by not eating meat they life a frugal and simple live. By helping each other in the same society they promote camaraderie, which, in the end, also support their frugal and simple way of living …’

Reading to this point Zhang Wuji said, “Although that Wang Juzheng was hostile toward our Cult, he was aware that our people live a frugal and simple life, and we love and help each other.” He continued reading, ‘… Subordinate believes the previous Emperor also admonished the people to live a simple life and to love and help each other. Living a frugal and simple life is an honorable way of life since the ancient times. It’s a pity that today’s government leaders cannot be good example for the people, so that the Devil Leaders are able to entice them into joining their society and blindly follow their teaching. Common people are simple and ignorant; by following the Devil’s teaching and live the Devil’s way, living a simple and frugal life, they confirm the Devil Leaders’ words as trustworthy sayings and do not made the slightest effort to challenge them. Therefore, the stricter the ban, the more they expand’

Zhang Wuji stopped reading, turning his head to Yang Xiao he said, “Yang Zuoshi, ‘the stricter the ban, the more they expand’; this is exactly the proof that our Cult is deeply loved by the people. May I borrow this book, so I can learn more about our Cult’s previous saints’ outstanding achievements and their wishes?”

“I was about to ask Jiaozhu to give me your opinion,” Yang Xiao replied.

Zhang Wuji took the book and said, “Yu Sanbo’s [third martial (older) uncle] and Yin Liushu’s [sixth martial (younger) uncle] conditions have improved tremendously; we are leaving for the Butterfly Valley tomorrow. I have another matter I’d like to discuss with Yang Zuoshi; it is about Buhui Meizi [sister/beloved].”

Yang Xiao thought Zhang Wuji was about to propose, so he was overjoyed. “Buhui owes her life to Jiaozhu; we, father and daughter, would love to pay that debt of gratitude back as soon as we can. Jiaozhu only need to say it and we will certainly comply.” Thereupon Zhang Wuji recounted the details of what Yang Buhui had told him that day to Yang Xiao.

As Yang Xiao heard this, he was stunned and was at a loss for words. Only after a long time did he finally open his mouth, “That my daughter is loved by Yin Liuxia [Sixth Hero Yin], it is truly a fortunate matter. But their age difference is huge, plus they come from different generations, this … this …” After saying the word ‘this’ twice, he did not know how to continue.

Zhang Wuji said, “Yin Liushu is not even forty years of age yet; he is still in the prime of his life. It’s true that Buhui Meizi calls him ‘Shushu’ [(younger) uncle], but they don’t have actual blood relationship or even martial relationship. Those two are perfectly suited to each other. If this marriage arrangement can be consummated, then the past animosity can be dissolved; won’t that be great?”

Yang Xiao was a very open-minded person. Because of Ji Xiaofu’s affair, he felt ashamed each time he saw Yin Liting. He silently pondered the fact that since Buhui was already in love then if the marriage could be consummated, it would not only redeem his own past transgression, but it would also strengthen the alliance between the Ming Cult and the Wudang Sect. Thereupon he cupped his fists and said, “That Jiaozhu is willing to lend a hand in the successful conclusion of this matter shows your loving concern to us. Subordinate would like to express my gratitude in advance.”

That very evening Zhang Wuji announced the good news. The group of warriors immediately offered their heartiest congratulations to Yin Liting. Yang Buhui was shy; she did not dare to come out from her room. At first Zhang Sanfeng and Yu Daiyan were quite surprised to hear this, but later on they were happy for Yin Liting.

When asked about the wedding date, Yin Liting replied, “By the time Da Shige [first martial brother] and the others are back and everybody is here, it won’t be too late to talk about the wedding.”

The next day Zhang Wuji, along with Yang Xiao, Yin Tianzheng, Yin Yewang, Tieguan Daoren, Zhou Dian, Xiao Zhao and the others, bid their farewells to Zhang Sanfeng and his disciples; they were leaving for Huaibei. Yang Buhui stayed behind on Mount Wudang to take care of Yin Liting. At that time the rule against men and women relationship was very strict, but they were Wulin people, so they did not adhere to this rule too strictly.

The Ming Cult people took their journey from dawn to dusk, heading towards northeast. Along the way they saw barren rice fields and the people had hunger written all over their faces. The coastal regions are usually rich and populous areas, but at that time the fields were dry and everywhere people died of starvation. The suffering of the common people had reached its peak. Seeing this disaster the Ming Cult people heaved a heavy sigh. They were aware that the brutal reign of the Mongolians on the Central Earth would not last too long. It was precisely the best opportunity for the warriors to take up their arms and fight the invaders.

One day they arrived at Jiepaiji; not too far from the Butterfly Valley. While they were walking suddenly they heard a deafening battle noise ahead; two opposing cavalries were engaged in a fierce battle. The Ming Cult people rushed their horses ahead. Passing through a forest they saw over a thousand Mongolian soldiers were attacking a fortified camp on a hill. Above the camp fluttered a big banner with a picture of red flame on it; it was the Ming Cult’s banner. The people defending the camp were smaller in number. It seemed like they were in a disadvantageous situation, but they still fought unyieldingly.

The Mongolians’ arrows came like rain. “Devil Cult rebels!” they shouted, “Quickly surrender!”

“Jiaozhu,” Zhou Dian said, “Shall we?”

“All right!” Zhang Wuji said, “Kill the leaders first.”

Yang Xiao, Yin Tianzheng, Yin Yewang, Tieguan Daoren, Zhou Dian, five people answered his call; breaking into the enemy formation. Long swords waved and two Mongolian ‘bai fu zhang’ [leader of 100 men unit] fell down their horses; followed by their ‘qian fu zhang’ [leader of 1000 men unit] fell under Yin Yewang’s blade. The Yuan soldiers were thrown into confusion as soon as their leader fell down

The people defending the camp cheered as they saw help coming their way. The camp gate opened and a big burly man dressed in black came out with a lance in his hand. He charged into the Yuan soldiers and they were scattered away; nobody dared to block his lance. That big man swung his lance, quick as lightning, and a Yuan soldier was stabbed and fell from his horse. The soldiers around him cried out in alarm and fled to all directions.

Seeing this man’s impressive, almost deity-like power, Yang Xiao and the others praised him highly, “Truly a heroic commander!”

Actually Zhang Wuji had seen that man’s face clearly; he was none other than his big brother, Chang Yuchun, whom he missed dearly. Only the battle was raging wild, he did not have the opportunity to greet him. The Ming Cult people attacked left and right, killing about five, six hundreds Yuan soldiers. The rest of the enemy did not dare to prolong the battle, they scattered around and fled the battlefield.

Chang Yuchun lifted his lance horizontally and laughed. “Which brothers come to lend help? Old Chang is deeply grateful,” he called out.

“Chang Dage,” Zhang Wuji called out, “I miss you very much.” Leaping toward him he grabbed Chang Yuchun’s hands tightly.

Chang Yuchun bowed in respect and said, “Brother Jiaozhu, I am your Dage [big brother], but I also am your subordinate. My joy is unspeakable.”

It turned out that Chang Yuchun was an officer under the Gigantic Wood Flag. He had learned Zhang Wuji’s taking over the Cult Leader position and the circumstances surrounding it from the Flag Leader Wen Cangsong. He recently led a group of Cult brethrens to wait for Zhang Wuji. Unfortunately they were attacked by the Yuan army. Knowing his group was inferior in number, he originally was about to pretend defeat to lure the enemy into the camp, and then he would crush them. Unexpectedly Zhang Wuji and his entourage arrived and lent their assistance. Taking advantage of this favorable situation he went out of the camp and made some killing. His position in the Ming Cult was not high; therefore, he immediately paid his respects to Yang Xiao, Yin Tianzheng and the others. The leaders knew he was their Cult Leader’s sworn brother, so they did not dare to act condescendingly. They held out their hands to greet him and treated him with utmost respect. Chang Yuchun invited the leaders to enter the camp. He butchered some sheep and prepared a banquet for his guests. And then they talked about what happened after they were separated.

The Huainan and Huaibei area experienced drought for the past several years in a row; the common people’s suffering was beyond description. Chang Yuchun did not expect to live; he gathered a band of brothers and they lived as robbers [‘lu lin’ – lit. green forest], plundering food, gold and silver and storing them in the stronghold. After accumulating enough, they distributed the goods to the poor people. Several times the Yuan army tried to attack, but they always failed.

They all spent the night inside the camp. The next day they, along with Chang Yuchun, went north. They thought since the Yuan soldiers were defeated, they would not dare to attack within these two, three months. Several days later they arrived at the Butterfly Valley. As the Ming Cult people who had arrived earlier heard their Cult Leader’s arrival, they went out the valley to welcome him. In the meantime the Gigantic Wood Flag had built many thatched huts and wooden cabins as temporary residence of the leaders. Wei Yixiao, Peng Yingyu, Shou Bude and the others had already arrived earlier; they reported their failure to find Miss Zhao’s whereabouts.

After receiving the Ming Cult leaders, Zhang Wuji prepared some offerings and went to the graves of Hu Qingniu, husband and wife, and Ji Xiaofu. He recalled the day he left the valley, he was sorrowful, frightened and in a very difficult situation. Today he returned in glorious splendor as the Cult Leader of a powerful cult; it felt like a whole world apart.

Three days later it was the fifteenth of the eighth month. A tall altar had been built in the middle of the Butterfly Valley. A huge bonfire was built in front of the altar. Zhang Wuji climbed on top of the altar to announce their pledge to put away their previous enmity with various sects of the Central Plains and their desire to drive the Yuan invaders out. He also issued some religious rules; reaffirming their pledge to do good and shun evil, and thus following the original Cult teaching.

The Cult members immediately showed their obedience by lighting up the incense and they swore their pledge that they would not dare to disobey their Cult Leader’s decree. Under the bright sun the fire in front of the altar was blazing high, the fragrance of the incense spread everywhere, the Ming Cult flourished far beyond in the time past. Seeing this prosperous situation, some older members remembered how for the last dozen of years the Ming Cult was split up and their destruction was imminent, they could not help but break down in tears.

Later in the afternoon a Ming Cult subordinate came to report, “Flooding Water Flag disciples, Zhu Yuanzhang, Xu Da and the others seek an audience with Jiaozhu.”

Zhang Wuji was delighted; he personally went out of the gate to meet them. Zhu Yuanzhang and Xu Da were accompanied by Tang He, Deng Yu, Hua Yun, Wu Liang and Wu Zhen. They stood respectfully outside the gate. As they saw Zhang Wuji come out, they bowed in respect and said, “Greetings to Jiaozhu!”

Zhang Wuji often remembered how Xu Da had saved his life; he was very happy to see these people, he immediately returned the salute. Taking Zhu Yuanzhang in his left hand and Xu Da in his right, he took them inside and invited them to sit down. After apologizing to each other they took their seats. By then Zhu Yuanzhang had already returned to secular life, he was no longer dressed as a Buddhist monk. He said, “As your subordinates received Jiaozhu’s order, we hurried along to the Butterfly Valley. We should have been arrived a few days earlier, but on the way we met a completely baffling matter that your subordinates had to investigate; hence we missed the general assembly. We ask for Jiaozhu’s forgiveness.”

“I wonder what kind of baffling matter was that?” Zhang Wuji asked.

Zhu Yuanzhang said, “All of us were delighted when we received Jiaozhu’s order on the first week of the sixth month; we brothers discussed what kind of gift we need to prepare to congratulate Jiaozhu. Huaibei is a poor place, there is nothing good in there; fortunately the assembly was still some times away, so we went to Shandong to try our luck. We were afraid the government authorities would recognize us; therefore, we disguised ourselves as mule cart drivers, your subordinate was the leader. One day we arrived at Guidefu in Henan, where were hired by some customers who wanted to go to Heze, Shandong. While we were traveling suddenly some people pursued us with blades and spears, very fierce and menacing. They chased away our customers and told us to drive other customers. Brother Hua wanted to deal with them right away, but Brother Xu signaled him with his eyes to look clearly into this matter before making any move first. Those people led us with our nine mule carts to a valley in the mountain. We saw there were already about a dozen other carts waiting, while on the ground sat some Buddhist monks.”

“Buddhist monks?” Zhang Wuji wondered.

“That’s right,” Zhu Yuanzhang replied, “Those monks hang their heads low, they looked so dejected. But among them there were some unusual looking people, some had their ‘tai yang xue’ [sun acupoint] bulging out of their temples, some were tall and powerfully built. Brother Xu quietly told me that those monks were all martial art experts. Those fierce people ordered the monks to ride on the carts and then they led us all to the north. Subordinate believed something was wrong, so I quietly told everybody to be on their guards and not to reveal our true identity. Along the way we paid full attention to what those fierce people were saying, but those people were very secretive; they did not say anything in our presence. Afterwards Brother Wu Liang gathered up his courage and eavesdropped outside their window in the middle of the night. He did that for four, five nights in a row before he finally found out that those monks were actually from the Shaolin Temple of Mount Song in Henan.”

“Ah!” Although Zhang Wuji had partly guessed it, he still could not restrain himself from exclaiming.

Zhu Yuanzhang continued, “Brother Wu Liang heard one of those fierce people say, ‘Master’s strategy is truly divine, worthy of other people’s utmost admiration. Shaolin, Wudang, and the rest of the six major sects are in our hand. Who had ever achieved such result since the ancient time?’ Another man said, ‘I am not surprised. One arrow two eagles [killing two birds with one stone], the Devil Cult leaders will be implicated by this matter.’ We seven people pretended going to the bathroom and quietly discussed this matter. We all agreed that since by coincidence this matter concerning our Cult fell into our hands, then we must investigate carefully and submit a report to Jiaozhu.”

“You have done the right thing,” Zhang Wuji commented.

“We continued going north,” Zhu Yuanzhang said, “All the while we maintained our disguises as simple men. Brother Tang He and Brother Deng Yu pretended to bicker over five coins of silver; they fought awkwardly, like people who do not know martial art at all. Those fierce people clapped their hands and laughed, and afterwards they did not pay us any attention anymore. We called them ‘lao ye’ [lit. old master] this and ‘lao ye’ that, flattering them by all kinds of crap. At one time Brother Wu Zhen was thinking of drugging them, diverting their attention and then saving those Shaolin monks; but then we thought it over, we did not know anything about what was going on, these ominous people were well-trained in martial arts. We were afraid we might disturb the grass and scare the snake, and harming an important matter by alerting the enemy; therefore, all along we did not dare to make our move.

When we arrived at the Hejian prefecture we met with six other big carts, also full of prisoners. They dressed as common civilians. During the meal I overheard a Shaolin monk greeted one of the newcomers, ‘Song Daxia [great hero], you are here!’”

Zhang Wuji leaped up and hastily asked, “Did he say ‘Song Daxia’? What did he look like?”

Zhu Yuanzhang replied, “His body was slim-built, he looked about fifty, sixty years of age, wearing a three-branch long beard. His face looked simple yet elegant.”

Zhang Wuji knew it was indeed Song Yuanqiao. He was pleasantly surprised and asked further what the rest of those people looked like. Turned out Yu Lianzhou, Zhang Songxi, Mo Shenggu three people were also among those prisoners. “Are they injured? Are they shackled?” he asked.

“I did not see any shackle,” Zhu Yuanzhang replied, “I also did not see any injury. They talked and ate just like any ordinary people, only they looked dispirited; also they walked swaying and staggering. As he was greeted by that Shaolin monk he only smiled bitterly but did not say anything. The Shaolin monk was about to say something else, but one of the fierce people pulled him away. Thereafter our two groups were separated by about ten ‘li’s; we did not stop and eat together anymore; subordinate has never seen Song Daxia’s group ever since. About the third day of the seventh month our group of Shaolin monks arrived at Dadou [lit. grand capital, present day Beijing].”

“Ah,” Zhang Wuji exclaimed, “You went to Dadou, then they must have fallen into the treacherous hand of the royal government. And then what happened?”

Zhu Yuanzhang continued, “Those fierce people led us to take the Shaolin monks toward a big temple on the west side of the city. They also told us to spend the night in the temple.”

“What temple was that?” Zhang Wuji asked.

“When we entered the temple, subordinate looked up at the sign above the gate, it was called Wan An Si [Temple of Ten-thousand Peace],” Zhu Yuanzhang answered, “But because of that one of the ominous people struck me with his horse whip. That night we brothers quietly discussed our situation. We believed these ominous people would kill us to shut our mouths up, so when the sky turned black we quietly escaped.”

“It was very dangerous,” Zhang Wuji said, “You were lucky those ominouspeople did not pursue you.”

Tang He smiled and said, “Zhu Dage [Big Brother Zhu] has already anticipated that. Before leaving we captured seven mule cart drivers from the neighborhood and changed our clothes with theirs. Afterwards we killed them inside the temple. We mutilated their faces so that those ominous people would not recognize them. We also killed the other mule cart drivers who came with us and we scattered money everywhere to make it look like two groups of people fought over money and killed each other, so that when those ominous people returned, they would not suspect anything.”

Zhang Wuji was secretly shocked; he saw Xu Da’s face showed he did not have the heart to do so, Deng Yu looked embarrassed, Tang He sounded very proud, but Zhu Yuanzhang was the only one who maintained his composure and did not show any emotion on his face, like nothing out of ordinary happened. Zhang Wuji thought, “This man is cruel and shrewd.” He said, “Although Zhu Dage’s idea was wonderful, but from now on we must not kill innocent people so easily.”

It was their Cult Leader’s order, so Zhu Yuanzhang and the others stood up at once. They bowed and said, “We will follow Jiaozhu’s instruction.” Thereafter when Zhu Yuanzhang, Xu Da, Deng Yu, Tang He and the others went out to battle, they always observed Zhang Wuji’s order and did not dare to randomly kill innocent people. In the end they won the people’s hearts and were able to accomplish a great undertaking.

Zhang Wuji said, “Zhu Dage, the seven of you managed to find out the whereabouts of Shaolin and Wudang two sects’ masters; it was not a small merit. After arranging the strategy to fight the Yuan we will go to Dadou to rescue the two sects’ masters.”

After the official business was done, Zhang Wuji chatted with Xu Da and the others as friends. He recalled the time they stole and butchered an ox outside Zhang Yuan. They clapped their hands and laughed heartily.

That evening in the general assembly Zhang Wuji burned incense to proclaim their oath to fight a coordinated insurrection against the Yuan from various places. The Cult leaders echoed their determination to work together; their main target was to drive the Yuan army away little by little. The following was their strategy:

Cult Leader Zhang Wuji, assisted by the Brightness Left Emissary Yang Xiao and Green-winged Bat King Wei Yixiao held the ‘zong tan’ [lit. head/chief altar – central government] position, as the highest command for the entire Cult.

White-browed Eagle King Yin Tianzheng commanded the Heavenly Eagle Flag, making their movement in the Jiangnan area.

Zhu Yuanzhang, Xu Da, Tang He, Deng Yu, Hua Yun, Wu Liang, Wu Zhen, joined by Chang Yuchun’s stronghold cavalry, plus Sun Deya’s troops would raise their arms in Huaibei’s Haozhou.

Bu Dai Heshang [cloth sack monk] and Shuo Bude were in command of Han Shantong, Liu Futong, Du Zundao, Luo Wensu, Sheng Wenyu, Wang Xianzhong, Han Jiao’er and the others, to raise their arms at Yingchuan district of Henan.

Peng Yingyu led Xu Shuohui, Zou Puwang, Ming Wudeng to fight at Jiangxi’s Ganzhou, Raozhou, Yuanzhou, Xinzhou and other districts.

Tie Guan Daoren [iron hat priest] led Bu Sanwang, Meng Haima and the others raised their arms at Xiangchu and Jingxiang districts.

Zhou Dian commanded Zhi Mali, Zhao Junyong and the others raised their arms at Xuxiu and Fengpei districts.

Leng Qian was in charge of the Ming Cult member in the western region, cutting off any Mongolian reinforcement coming to the Central Plains from the western region.

The Five-Element Flags were under ‘zong tan’s command, to be dispatched as necessary as the reinforcement for those who needed it.

The people were 90% sure that this strategy came from Yang Xiao and Peng Yingyu’s minds.

As Zhang Wuji finished outlining their strategy, the crowd broke into a thunderous applause. Zhang Wuji also said, “Logically, we cannot rely only on our own Cult’s strength to shake nearly one hundred years of Yuan’s occupation. We must make good contacts with the heroes and warriors; only by pooling our strength and resources together will we be able to achieve great merits. Presently almost half of the masters of the Wulin world of Central Plains are being captured by the royal government, ‘zong tan’ will think of a way to rescue them. Tomorrow all of the brothers will go your own way. Fight and kill the Tartars whenever you have the opportunity. ‘Zong tan’ will also head for Dadou for a rescue operation. We have met and enjoy this joyous fellowship today; I don’t know when we are going to see each other again in the future. Brothers, you must show loyalty to each other, give the important matter a foremost place in your heart, don’t fight with each other over power and profit, don’t kill each other. If any injustice of this kind is found among you, ‘zong tan’ will not be lenient.”

The crowd shouted their answer with one voice, “We won’t dare to disobey Jiaozhu’s order!” Their cheers and shouts echoed throughout the valley. Afterwards everybody sealed their oath by shedding their blood and burning the incense; determined to hold fast to their just cause in live or death.

The moon was shining brightly as it was daytime. The Ming Cult leaders sat around the banquet tables, while the staff of ‘zhong tan’ served some vegetable-stuffed round cakes to everybody. The round cakes looked like the moon, hence they called it ‘moon cake.’ Later on a legend developed that the Chinese made a pact to kill the Tartars while eating moon cake during the Mid-autumn Festival [‘ba yue xhong qiu – lit. mid-autumn of the eighth month]; it was because of the Ming Cult held their assembly that evening to decide the battle strategy.

Zhang Wuji also said, “Our Cult has always had a rule passed on from generation to generation, that we don’t eat meat or drink wine. But presently there are famines everywhere; we can’t always choose what we eat. Moreover, our primary objective today is to drive the Tartars out. If we don’t eat meat or fish our strengths will wane and it will be difficult to fight. From now on I lift up this religious rule of not eating meat and drinking wine. We live in this world must put important matter first, eating and drinking rule is trivial matter.” From that time on the Ming Cult people ate the moon cake with pork stuffing.

Next day early in the morning everybody bade Zhang Wuji goodbye. Although they were warriors and brave people, but thinking about the incoming bloody battle nobody knew who would survive and who would perish. Although they were confident that they would be successful, but among the attendees of the Butterfly Valley assembly, perhaps only half of them would live; inevitably they all left with heavy hearts.

While the ceremonial fire was still ablaze in the Butterfly Valley, suddenly someone sang in a clear voice,

“Burn my wretched body, oh raging holy fire.
What joy is in life, what pain is in death?”

The rest of the crowd responded in one voice,
“Burn my wretched body, oh raging holy fire.
What joy is in life, what pain is in death?
To do good and shun evil, only for brightness’ cause.
Whether it is a life of happiness or sadness,
Everybody will go back to the dust.
I pity the mankind, with their many suffering!
I pity the mankind, with their many suffering!”

The last phrase of ‘I pity the mankind, with their many suffering! I pity the mankind, with their many suffering!’ echoed in the Butterfly Valley. With their clothes as white as snow, the warriors came to Zhang Wuji’s presence one by one, bowing their heads and salute, raised their head back up, turned around and left without looking back. Remembering that in the ten or twenty years to come, these warriors, such as Xu Da, would shed their blood for the sake of the Central Plains, Zhang Wuji could not help his eyes brim in tears.

The sound of singing was getting farther and farther away; the warriors dispersed their own separate ways. In a few moments stillness went back to reign in the Butterfly Valley, which was bustling with noise and excitement for the last several days; only Yang Xiao, Wei Yixiao, and Zhu Yuanzhang with his company left. Zhang Wuji asked in details the Wan An Temple’s location, as well as those ominous people’s appearance.

“Zhu Dage,” he said, “The world is in chaos, we cannot waste any time in this insurrection. You do not need to accompany me to Dadou; let us part here.”

Zhu Yuanzhang, Xu Da, Chang Yuchun and the others said, “We wish Jiaozhu success. Subordinates will wait to hear the good news.” Bidding their farewell to Zhang Wuji, they left the valley toward their assigned post.

“We also have to leave,” Zhang Wuji said, “Xiao Zhao, you have shackles on your hands, you can’t move easily, you better wait for me here.”

Xiao Zhao agreed reluctantly, but with the pretense of sending them off she followed them going out of the valley. They had walked for three miles, she still followed them. Then three more miles, she still did not want to leave. “Xiao Zhao,” Zhang Wuji said, “If you send us off farther, you might not recognize the way back.”

“Master Zhang,” Xiao Zhao said, “Are you going to see Miss Zhao in Dadou?”

“Can’t say for sure, but I might,” Zhang Wuji replied.

“If you see her, will you ask her a favor on my behalf?” Xiao Zhao asked.

“What do you want her to do?” Zhang Wuji wondered.

Xiao Zhao held out her arms and said, “I want to borrow the Yitian Sword from Miss Zhao to cut this iron chain, otherwise I will not be free for the rest of my life.”

Zhang Wuji could not bear to see her pitiful expression, “I am afraid she won’t let me borrow her precious sword, let alone let me bring it here,” he said apologetically.

“Then … then, why don’t you take me along, ask her to borrow the sword just for a moment?” Xiao Zhao asked.

Zhang Wuji smiled and said, “You talked in circles, in the end you want to go with me to Dadou, don’t you? Yang Zuoshi, do you think we can take her along?”

Yang Xiao knew from the way Zhang Wuji speak that he wanted to take her along; he said, “I don’t think that’s a problem; so there is someone to take care of Jiaozhu’s clothes and serve him tea. Only your iron chain’s ‘clink, clink, clank, clank’ will be conspicuous. Let’s do it this way; she pretends to be ill, then she can ride in a carriage and not come out unless it’s important.”

Xiao Zhao was delighted, “Many thanks Master, many thanks Yang Zuoshi,” she busily said; then she cast a glance toward Wei Yixiao and said, “Many thanks, Wei Fawang [lit. law king – I think another translator translated it as ‘protector king’, the same ‘fawang’ as Jinlun Fawang of ROCH]”

“What do you thank me for?” Wei Yixiao said, “You need to be careful, if my previous sickness recurs, I am going to suck your blood.” While saying that he grinned widely, showing rows of white teeth; looking very strange.

Xiao Zhao knew he was only joking, but she could not help feeling scared; she withdrew three steps backward and said, “Don’t … don’t scare me.”