Zhu Yuanzhang was quiet for a moment before saying, “Since Xu and Chang, two brothers have already said so, we will deal with him as such, then. Only, this little thief has sown quite some kindness to the people of our Cult, also, two brothers were usually on good terms with him; we must keep this matter from leaking out. Ay, the thought of killing him today is truly unbearable for me.”
Xu and Chang both said, “We cannot give friends and personal relations more consideration than the great undertaking of recovering the nation.” As the three men finished talking, they went out the room.
Zhang Wuji sucked a mouthful of cold air. Immediately he exerted his ‘shen gong’ [divine power/strength] to break the rope binding his body. Carrying Zhao Min in his arms, he quietly climbed over the wall and went out.
Leaning against the wall, he could not stop all sorts of feelings from bubbling up in his heart. “That traitor Zhu Yuanzhang forgets kindness and violates justice, I am fine with it. But Xu Dage and Chang Dage have special friendship with me, yet for the sake of riches and honor they are unexpectedly able to betray me. The three of them bear heavy responsibility within the rebel army. If I strike them dead with my palm, I am afraid the army’s unity would disintegrate. I, Zhang Wuji, have never coveted name or position. Xu Dage, Chang Dage, you are looking down on me too much.” After thinking deeply for half a day, he quietly took Zhao Min to leave the area.
When he was safe outside the city, he wrote a letter, appointing Yang Xiao as the new Cult Leader, but he did not write even a single character about what had happened in Haozhou.
It never occurred to Zhang Wuji that when Xu Da and Chang Yuchun talked about ‘the little thief’, they were actually referring to Han Lin’er. They did not even know that Zhang Wuji was in Haozhou. Everything was secretly arranged by Zhu Yuanzhang. He wanted to make Zhang Wuji downhearted so that Zhang Wuji would retire voluntarily. First, Zhu Yuanzhang was dreadful of Zhang Wuji’s divine bravery. Second, Zhang Wuji was their Cult’s Jiaozhu who was highly esteemed by everybody in their Cult. Let’s say he wanted to kill him; not only Zhu Yuanzhang did not have the courage to do so, even if he did succeed in killing him, but if there was the slightest chance of his plot being exposed, the consequences would be too detrimental for him.
Zhu Yuanzhang understood very well that Zhang Wuji placed the important matter of recovering the country above all else, moreover, he loved Xu Da and Chang Yuchun like brothers. As soon as Zhang Wuji heard their discussion, he would quietly go away.
As expected, everything happened according to Zhu Yuanzhang’s anticipation. Although Zhang Wuji’s martial art skill was unequalled in the present age, in term of scheming and resourcefulness, he was too far below Zhu Yuanzhang. In the end, he had fallen into the treacherous scheme of the most ambitious and ruthless character of their generation.
Although Zhang Wuji had never wanted to be an emperor, he would feel saddened for the rest of his life whenever Xu Da and Chang Yuchun, which he thought were without kindness and loyalty, came into his mind.
As for the accusation that Han Lin’er was colluding with the Tatars and betraying his country, it was actually Zhu Yuanzhang who planted false evidence against him. It was because after Han Shantong’s death, the army appointed Han Lin’er as their commander; consequently, Zhu, Xu, Chang, and the other generals became his subordinates.
Zhu Yuanzhang forged a letter from Han Lin’er to the enemy as if it was Han Lin’er’s own hadwriting; with a large sum of money, he also bribed Han Lin’er’s trusted aide to leak the secret to Xu Da and Chang Yuchun. Xu and Chang, two men, believed without any reservation. As a result, they insisted on Han Lin’er’s elimination. Zhu Yuanzhang pretended to uphold righteousness and benevolence by refusing to allow the execution. It was not until Xu Da and Chang Yuchun urged him repeatedly that he reluctantly agreed.
He held Zhang Wuji and Zhao Min in the adjacent room, knowing that with his martial art skill, for Zhang Wuji to break the rope binding his body was as easy as lifting his finger. He was only afraid that as soon as Zhang Wuji was free, he would find him to exact revenge. Therefore, as soon as he finished talking with Xu and Chang, two men, he immediately went into hiding.
Soon after Zhang Wuji left, he ordered Liao Yongzhong to throw Han Lin’er into the river and let him sank into the bottom. This way, he killed two birds with one stone. His plan was truly flawless.
Later, Yang Xiao became the Cult Leader of the Ming Cult; but by this time Zhu Yuanzhang had grown wings, the troops under his command numbered in millions. Yang Xiao was aging and less ambitious than before, he lost any desire to fight over the throne with him.
After Zhu Yuanzhang ascended the throne, he opposed the Ming Cut by issuing an order to strictly prohibit its movement and massacred the brethrens who had once rendered great merit to him. Chang Yuchun died early because of sickness. Xu Da eventually was not able to escape disaster.
When Zhang Wuji finished writing the letter to Yang Xiao, Zhao Min saw he did not immediately put down the writing brush in his hand; he had quite an unhappy expression on his face. Zhao Min interrupted his thoughts by saying, “Wuji Gege, once you agreed to do three things for me. The first thing was to let me look at the Tulong Saber; the second thing was not to marry Zhou Jiejie back at Haozhou, so the first two matters are already accomplished. I still have the third request to you, you must not fail to keep your own word.”
Zhang Wuji was startled. “You … you …” he stammered, “What kind of strange demonic witchcraft do you want me to do this time …?”
Zhao Min smiled sweetly and said, “My eyebrows are too thin. I want you to thicken it with your brush. This matter certainly does not violate the Wulin’s way of chivalry, does it?”
Zhang Wuji raised his brush up; he laughed and said, “From now on I am going to draw your eyebrows every day.”
Suddenly from outside the window came a soft giggle and someone said, “Wuji Gege, you also promised to do something for me.” It was Zhou Zhiruo’s voice.
Zhang Wuji was so engrossed in writing the letter that he did not know when she arrived outside the window. The shutters slowly opened and Zhou Zhiruo’s beautiful face appeared. Under the candlelight, she looked smiling, yet she was not exactly smiling.
Zhang Wuji was startled again. “You … what do you want me to do?” he asked.
Zhou Zhiruo smiled and said, “I haven’t thought about it now, but when you and Zhao Jia Meizi [little sister of Zhao family] are ready to bow to the Heaven and the Earth to get married, I am sure I will think of something by then.”
Zhang Wuji turned to look at Zhao Min, and then he turned again to look at Zhou Zhiruo. In that instant, a myriad of thoughts raced around in his mind. He was unsure if he should be happy or if he should be worried. His hand trembled and the brush fell on the table …