East and west are forever apart like Orion and Antares.
After singing that song, Yin Li continued singing another tune. This time the song was unspeakably weird, the melody was totally different from songs of the Central Earth. If one listened closely, they would be able to discern the words, which were also similar to the song Xiao Zhao used to sing, ‘Coming like the running water, departing like the wind; wonder where it came from, and where it will end!’
She sang these two songs over and over again, while her voice getting softer and softer, until finally her voice was drowned by the noise of the wind and the waves. Everybody pondered how life and death was not eternal; one came into this world lightly, just like the flowing water of the river, without knowing where it came from. It does not matter if you are a hero or a warrior, death is inevitable in the end, coming out of this world also lightly, just like the blowing wind, without knowing where it would go. Zhang Wuji felt that Zhao Min’s delicate fingers in his hand were as cold as ice, and they slightly trembled.
Xie Xun suddenly said, “This is a Persian song; Mrs. Han must have taught her. One evening twenty years ago, I heard this song at the BrightnessPeak. Ay, I can’t believe Mrs. Han could be that heartless to hurt this child with a cruel hand.”
“Laoye Zi,” Zhao Min asked, “How did Mrs. Han know about a Persian song? Was it a Ming Cult’s song?”
Xie Xun replied, “Ming Cult’s origin is from Persia, so this Persian song is somewhat related to the Ming Cult; but it is not a Ming Cult song. This song was written by the most famous Persian poet Omar Khayyam more than two hundred years ago; it was said that every Persian could sing this song. When I heard Mrs. Han sing this song, I was touched; thereupon I asked her the story behind this song, and she told me everything:
There was a great Persian philosopher by the name of Imam Mowaffaq Nishapuri; among his disciples, there were three outstanding students: Omar Khayyam, who was a master in literature studies, Nizam-ul-Mulk, who was an expert in political studies, and Hassan-i-Sabah, who excelled in martial arts. These three were good friends and bound themselves in an oath, to face fortune and adversity together, and not to forget each other in riches and honor.
Later on because of his accomplishment, Nizam-al-Mulk became Vizier to the Seljukid Empire. His two old friends came to seek shelter. Nizam entreated the Shah, and Hassan was granted an official position. Omar was not willing to be a government official; he only asked for annual provision so that he could research and study astronomy, almanac and mathematics, also to drink wine and write poems in peace. Nizam generously granted each of his friends’ requests.
Unexpectedly, Hassan was ambitious; he was unwilling to be someone else’s subordinate for long and thus staged a rebellion. His attempt was foiled and he fled to a mountain. Later on he became the chief of a sect whose prestige shook the world. This sect specifically took murder as their service, and was called the Hashhashin Sect. During the Crusades, whenever someone in the western region mentioned the name of The Old Man of the Mountain, Hassan, no hearts would be exempt from shaking in fear. Many of the western region’s rulers lost their lives under the innumerable assassins under The Old Man of the Mountain.
Mrs. Han told me that in the far west [i.e. Europe] there is one great nation called England. This country’s King Edward has offended The Old Man of the Mountain, so he dispatched a band of assassins. The King was wounded by a poisoned blade. Luckily, the Queen sacrificed herself to save her husband by sucking the poison from his wound. As a result, the King survived.
In spite of the kindness he received in the former days, Hassan dispatched his men to assassinate the Vizier, Nizam-al-Mulk. At the point of his death, the Vizier uttered Omar Khayyam’s verse; these two lines ‘Coming like the running water, departing like the wind; wonder where it came from, and where it will end.’
Mrs. Han also told me that afterwards, the martial art from The Old Man of the Mountain’s Sect was practiced by the people of the Persian Ming Cult. The Persian Three Emissaries’ martial art was odd in a strange way; I suppose it stemmed from The Old Man of the Mountain’s martial art.”
“Laoye Zi,” Zhao Min said, “This Mrs. Han’s character is similar to that of The Old Man of the Mountain; you treated her with utmost kindness, yet she plotted to harm you.”
Xie Xun sighed, “It is common for people to repay kindness with evil; what’s so strange about that?” he said.
Zhao Min lowered her head and was silent for half a day before saying, Mrs. Han was the chief of the Ming Cult’s Four Kings, but her martial art skill is not necessarily superior to Laoye Zi. Last night, why didn’t she use the deathly stances of ‘qian zhu wan du shou’ [hand of thousand spiders ten thousands poisons] when she fought with the Persian Three Emissaries?”
“Qian zhu wan du shou?” Xie Xun asked, “Mrs. Han does not know that skill. She is a woman of an outstanding beauty, and she cherishes her appearance more than her life; how could she be willing to practice this kind of skill?”
Zhang Wuji, Zhao Min and Zhou Zhiruo were startled; they thought Jin Hua Popo was ugly. Looking at her present appearance, even if she was thirty, forty years younger, it would be very difficult for them to say that she possessed an outstanding beauty. Her nose was crooked and her lips thick; her face was oval-shaped, her ears as big as a pair of fans. Certainly these features would not change over time.
Zhao Min laughed and said, “Laoye Zi, I’ll say Jin Hua Popo’s beauty is nowhere near ‘outstanding.’”
“What?” Xie Xun said, “Zi Shan Long Wang’s [purple-robed dragon king] beauty is similar to deities’. Twenty some years ago she was the Wulin World’s Number One Beauty. Granted that she is advanced in years now, but her gracefulness in the past should still be there … Ay, too bad I cannot see her anymore.”
Listening to him speaking seriously, Zhao Min had a vague feeling that something was wrong; this ugly, hunched back and sickly woman was the Wulin World’s Number One Beauty? Nobody would buy that. “Laoye Zi,” she asked, “Your name shook the Jianghu, your martial art skill is high, so nobody would doubt you. Bai Mei Ying Wang [white-browed eagle king] founded a cult. He managed to stand equally with the six major sects, and even fought valiantly against them for over twenty years. Qing Yi Fu Wang [green-winged bat king] comes and goes like a ghost. That day at the Wan An Temple he threatened to destroy my face; hereafter if I think about it, I am still shivering in fear. On the other hand Jin Hua Popo to have a position above the other three is rather unsuitable although her martial art skill is also high and quite resourceful. I wonder why?”
Xie Xun replied, “That was because Yin Er Ge [Second (older Brother Yin], Wei Si Di [Fourth (younger) Brother Wei) and I, three people were willing to yield to her.”
“Why?” Zhao Min asked. Suddenly she chuckled and said, “Because she was the most beautiful woman in the world, three great heroes were willing to submit under her skirt?” She was a Mongolian woman, who did not confine herself to senior-junior propriety; whatever came into her mind, she would unscrupulously blurt it out as a joke toward Xie Xun.
Surprisingly, Xie Xun was not angered. He sighed and said, “Do you think only three people who willingly submitted under her skirt? If I say there were a hundred people inside and outside the Cult who hoped to attain Taj-kis’ favor, I am afraid that number is still too few.”
“Taj-kis?” Zhao Min wondered, “Is that Mrs. Han? How come her name is so strange?”