Zhang Wuji’s mind was stirred, and he understood. The Tulong Saber was known as the ‘most revered in the Wulin world’. The Shaolin Pai had been leading the martial art world for the last several hundred years, of course they would want to get their hands on this valuable saber. For the sake of this saber, they would not easily harm Xie Xun’s life, but disgrace and humiliation would be difficult to avoid.
Zhao Min continued, “I am thinking that the matter of rescuing Xie Daxia should be handled quietly by just the two of us. The Ming Cult is full of heroes, but if we carried out a large scale attack against Shaolin, the damage to both sides will be heavy. Supposing the Shaolin Pai is not able to defend against the Ming Cult’s attack, they might not want to keep Xie Daxia, maybe they would resort to deceit and begin to harm him.”
Listening to her thorough consideration, Zhang Wuji was very appreciative. “Min Mei [younger sister], you are right.”
It was the first time Zhang Wuji had ever called her ‘Min Mei’. Zhao Min felt unspeakable sweetness in her heart; but immediately her parents’ kindness and her brother’s love came into her mind, which, from this time on, were no longer hers. She could not stop the sweetness turn to bitter.
Zhang Wuji understood her feelings, but he felt inadequate to offer any consolation. He merely mused, “She had entrusted herself fully to me, how can I ever repay her affectionate kindness? Zhiruo is engaged to me, how can I let her down? Ay! Right now, the most important thing is trying to save Yifu; this kind of man-woman love relationship has to be set aside.” He exerted his strength to stand up. “Let us go!” he said.
Zhao Min saw that his complexion was ash-grey, she knew his injury was really not light. Slightly knitting her beautiful brows, she thought aloud, “My Father loves me very much; he won’t give us any trouble. I am only afraid Gege will not let us go. As soon as he can have an excuse to leave Father, he would definitely send people to take us back within these next four hours [orig, two ‘shichen’s – 1 ‘shichen’ is 2 hours].”
Zhang Wuji nodded. He had noticed how firm Wang Baobao handled his affairs; he was truly not an easy person to deal with, he certainly would not give up easily. Presently, both he and Zhao Min were injured; it looked like their journey west to Shaolin would be very slow and full of obstacles. Other than that, they did not have any plan.
“We must leave this dangerous place immediately,” Zhao Min said, “We can stop again when we get to the foot of the mountain.”
Zhang Wuji nodded and he walked toward the horses with faltering steps. But when he was going to mount the horse, he felt a severe pain in the pit of his stomach, and did not have enough strength to climb up. Zhao Min bit her lips and exerted her strength on her right arm to give him a boost. But as she was doing that, the knife stab wound on her abdomen opened up and quite a lot blood seeped out. She also struggled to climb up the horse and sat behind Zhang Wuji. At first it was Zhang Wuji who supported her, now she had to wrap up her arms around his to support him up. Both of them had to stop for half a day to catch their breaths before they finally let the horse went forward. The other horse followed behind them.
Two people sharing a ride went down the mountain. They traveled along the main road, turning slightly to the east to avoid meeting Wang Baobao. After walking for a while, they turned toward a small pathway. They were feeling slightly relieved, since they thought that even if Wang Baobao dispatched some people to pursue, they would not easily find this small and remote pathway. They will have more chance of escaping when the sky turned dark and they entered deeper into the mountain.
While riding leisurely, suddenly they heard hoof beats from behind; a pair of riders galloped near. Zhao Min’s countenance sank; she tightened her hold on Zhang Wuji’s waist while saying, “My Gege comes very quick. It’s just our cruel fate, in the end we can’t escape from his cruel hands. Wuji Gege, let me go home with him. I am going to ask Father earnestly that we will see each other again later. As eternal and unchanging as the universe, let us not fail each other.”
With a bitter smile Zhang Wuji said, “Your honorable brother might not necessarily be willing to let me go.”
Just as he was saying that, the riders had come within several dozens ‘zhang’s behind them. Zhao Min held the rein to let the riders pass. She pulled her dagger out, thinking that if they had a chance, they would escape, but if her brother had made up his mind to kill Zhang Wuji, then the two of them would die together. However, when the two riders came near, they did not even slow down. They were wearing Mongolian soldiers’ uniform. They galloped passed them, giving them only a quick glance, and continued forward.
Zhao Min had just mused, “Thank Heaven and thank the Earth. Turned out they are only two low-ranking soldiers, not our pursuers.” When she saw those two Yuan soldiers held their reins to slow down their horses, talked to each other, and suddenly turned their horses around and returned toward the two of them.
One of them, a full-bearded Yuan soldier, shouted, “Audacious barbarians! Where did you steal these two good horses from?”
As she heard the tone of his voice, Zhao Min understood that they coveted the pair of steeds given by her father. The horses of the Ruyang Prince were naturally divine steeds, with golden stirrups and silver reins, extraordinarily magnificent and expensive ornaments. The Mongolians loved horses like they loved life itself, so when they saw a pair of excellent horses, how could their hearts be not moved?
Zhao Min thought, “Although these two horses were given by Father, but if these two wicked thieves want to seize them by force, we’d better let them go.” She spoke in Mongolian, “Which General’s subordinates are you? Why do you dare to be so impolite to me?”
That Mongolian soldier was startled. “Who are you, Miss?” he asked. He saw that these two were wearing expensive looking clothes, the horses they were riding were no small matters either; and now she was speaking fluent Mongolian. He did not dare to be careless.
“I am General Waerl Puche’s daughter,” Zhao Min said, “This is my brother. We met some robbers along the way and are injured.”
The two Mongolian soldiers exchanged a glance, suddenly they laughed loudly. The bearded soldier said in loud voice, “One can’t escape, two will not live. We might as well kill these two babies.” Unsheathing his saber, he charged forward.
Zhao Min was alarmed. “What are you doing?” she asked, “I’ll tell the General and have the two of you pulled by four horses.” Execution by pulling by four horses was Mongolian army’s capital punishment, in which the lawbreaker’s limbs were tied to four horses. As the signal was given, a long whip cracked, the four horses would run to different directions at once, tearing the convict into four parts. It was the cruelest punishment.
The full-bearded Mongolian soldier laughed menacingly. “Waerl Puche was unable to defeat the Ming Cult army,” he said, “He randomly executed his subordinates, venting his anger to us, his soldiers. Yesterday the army revolted and chopped your father to be meat sauce. Nothing can be better than to bump into you, two puppies, in here.” While saying that, he raised his saber, ready to chop down.
Zhao Min jerked the rein, her horse leaped forward to evade. The soldier pursued to kill. The other Yuan soldier called out, “Don’t kill this young girl who is pretty-as-a-flower. We can have fun with her first.”
“Wonderful! Wonderful!” the bearded soldier replied.