LXF01-00a Print
Friday, 15 August 2008 02:16

Prologue


 

Grandma Xung's Sugar-Roasted-Chestnuts

The moon was round; the fog was thick. Covered by the thick fog, the full moon looked dim and desolate, enough to break a man's heart.

But Zhang Fang and his pals weren't in the mood to appreciate the view, they only want to walk around without any worries for once.

They have just finished an escort job from very far away; they also just finished drinking some wine. All the tensions and hard work were finally over. They were just as relaxed, carefree, and happy as can be. It was at this time when they saw Grandma Xung.

Grandma Xung had suddenly appeared out of the fog like a ghost. It was as if she had a huge invisible rock on her back, weighing her down so that her entire body was bent. It looked like her waist was about to snap.
In her hand was a very old bamboo basket; it was neatly covered by a very thick piece of cotton cloth.

“What's in the basket?”, someone asked.

In as good of a mood as they were in, they would have taken an interest in anything.

“Sugar-Roasted-Chestnuts.” The wrinkle-covered face of Grandma Xung broke out into a smile, “Sweet and hot Sugar-Roasted-Chestnuts, only 10 farthings a catty.” {A catty is half a kilo}

“We'll take five catties, one catty each.”

The chestnuts really were hot, and they really were sweet. But Zhang Fang only ate one.

He never liked chestnuts; besides, he had drank too much. He had only one chestnut when his stomach began feeling very sick, as if he was going to throw up.

He hadn't thrown up yet when he noticed that his pals suddenly all fell over. Once they fell over, their bodies immediately began to twitch as white foams start to form at the corner of their mouths.

The white foams suddenly turned red, turned into blood!

Grandma Xung was still standing there, looking at them, the smile on her face suddenly looked unspeakably terrifying.

“There's poison in the Sugar-Roasted-Chestnuts!” Zhang Fang gritted his teeth and wanted throw himself at her. But at this moment he felt as if he had no strength left in him.

He wanted to snap this grandma's neck, but he ended up landing at her feet. He suddenly noticed that hidden under the long gray dress of this grandma, she was wearing a pair of bright and colorfully embroidered red shoes. Red like those worn by the bride on her wedding day.

But the shoes were not embroidered with a pair of loons, but an owl. The owl's eyes were green, as if it was staring at Zhang Fang, mocking at his stupidity and ignorance. Zhang Fang stared back at it in shock.

Grandma Xung laughed and said: “Turns out you are quite a naughty boy that likes to look at women's feet.”

Zhang Fang struggled to lift his head up and asked: “What do you really have against us?”

Grandma Xung laughed and answered: “Stupid boy, I have never seen you guys before, what can I have against you guys?”

Zhang Fang gritted his teeth and asked: “Then why do you want to kill us?”

Grandma Xung casually replied: “No reason really, I just wanted to kill."

She looked up through the fog at the dim and desolate moon and slowly continued: “Whenever the moon is full, I want to kill!”

Zhang Fang stared at her, his eyes were filled with terror and rage. He liked nothing better than to bite down hard on her throat.

But suddenly, like a ghost, this grandma disappeared into the thick fog. The fog was thick and hazy, and the moon became even rounder.

 

Honest Monk

The sun is setting in the west as the Autumn winds blew through the marsh reeds. There was not a trace of humans on the shores.  Only a crow flying closer and closer, finally landing on a wooden post on the shore that's used for tying up boats.
 
This was a desolate dock to begin with, and now the boat had left for its last crossing. 

The man manning the boat was a man so old that even his beard was white. Everyday for the last 20 years, he had been shuttling back and forth between the two shores of the river on this old boat of his. There is not much left in life to makes him happy anymore, only drinking and gambling. 

But tonight he swore he would not gamble. For there was a monk on his boat. This monk looked very proper, very honest, but a monk is still a monk.
 
Every time he's seen a monk, he would lose all the money on him.
 
This Honest Monk sat there very properly at a corner of the boat, looking down at his own feet, very dirty feet.  On his very dirty feet, he was wearing a pair of very worn straw sandals. 

Others sat as far away from him as they could, as if they were afraid of the fleas on his body would get on themselves.
 
The Honest Monk didn't dare to look back others as well, not only was he honest, he was also very shy. 

So even when the bandits jumped on the boat, he did not look up either, only hearing the passengers' surprised screams followed by the sound of four men jumping onto the head of the boat.  Then he heard the bandits viciously threatened:
 
“We are all the heroes of the Water Snake Clan, we have always only wanted money and not lives, so you guys need not be scared, just hand over all the money and valuables on you and everything will be fine.” 

The setting sun shined on the sabres in their hands, the reflection from the sabres lit up the inside of the boat. Inside the boat, men were shaking and women were crying, the more money they had on them, the harder they shook, the more they cried.
 
That Honest Monk still sat there with his head bowed, looking at his feet.
 
Suddenly, he saw another pair of feet, a pair of feet wearing a clean and thick pair of boots, standing right in front of him: “Your turn, hand it over!”
 
This Honest Monk did not seem to know what he was saying as he muttered:

“What do you want me to hand over?” 

“As long as it's worth money, hand it all over!” 

“But I don't have anything on me.”  Honest Monk's head bowed even lower. 

He noticed that this man seemed like he was going to kick him but was pulled back by another man: “Forget it, this nasty looking monk doesn't seem like the kind that would have money, let's get out of here.” 

They came quickly, and left quickly, for all criminals were all at least a little bit lacking in confidence. 

All at once the inside of the boat became chaotic, some were jumping up and down, others were cursing, cursing not only at the bandits, but at the monk as well:
 
“Seeing a monk really does bring bad luck!” 

They did not seem to care that the monk could hear them curse, the Honest Monk didn't seem to hear them either. 

He still sat there with his head bowed, his expression seemed very troubled, suddenly he jumped up and ran to the head of the boat. At the head of the boat there was a plank of wood, it was used as a brige once the boat had docked. 

The Honest Monk grabbed the plank of wood and gently hit it, the three inch thick plank of wood split into five or six pieces. 

Everyone on the boat was shocked.
 
The Honest Monk tossed the first piece of wood out, the piece had just landed in water when he took off, the tip of his foot had just gently landed on top of piece of wood when the 2nd piece was tossed out. 
 
He looked just like a dragonfly on the surface of a water, after four or five jumps on top of the water, he had chased down that get-away boat of the Water Snake Clan. The heroes of the Water Snake Clan were just counting up their earnings today when they noticed a man gently floating down onto the head of their boat like an angel, it was that nasty looking monk.
 
Not only had they never seen this kind of kungfu before, none of them had even heard of it before. 

“So this monk was hiding himself, waiting until we had already gotten our hands on the money before he makes any trouble.” 

Every one of their hands was covered in cold sweat as they hoped that this monk only wanted their money and not their lives.
 
None of them could have imagined that the monk would suddenly kneel down in front of them and politely say: “I have four taels of silver on me, I originally intend to buy a new set of clothing and a new pair of straw sandals, that was already being greedy.” 

He took out the silver and laid it at their feet, and then he continued: “Besides, a monk should not lie, yet I just lied to you heroes, now I only beg for your forgiveness. When I go back I would definitely face the wall and
think all this over in front of Buddha for at least three months to punish myself.” 

Every single one of them were shocked, none of them dared to say anything. 

The Honest Monk's head was bowed as he said: “If heroes can't forgive me, then I have no choice but to kneel here.” 

Who would want a person like this on the boat? 

Finally someone summed up his courage and said: “Alright, we... we... we forgive you.” 

That phrase was supposed to be said with assuring confidence, but when this person said it, his voice even changed pitch. 

Happiness immediately appeared on the Honest Monk's face, (Dong! Dong! Dong!) he loudly kowtowed three times on the deck of the boat, slowly stood up, suddenly jumped 20 meters onto the shore, and just as suddenly he disappeared. 

Everyone stood there shocked at the head  of the boat, they could only look at each other, then look down at the silver. 

 
After who knows how long, someone finally let out a deep sigh and declared his take: “You guys really think he is a monk?” 
 
“What is he if he isn't a monk?” 

“A saint, a real and genuine saint.” 

The next morning, someone discovered that Water Snake Clan suddenly had 18 distinguished members die in their beds.
 
Every one of them seemed to die very peacefully, no wounds nor poison was found, nobody could figure out how they died.

 

Xi Men Chui Xue

 
Xi Men Chui Xue doesn't blow snow, he blows blood. Blood that's on his sword. 

The water in the tub was still warm and still had a faint smell of Cape Jasmines. Xi Men Chui Xue had just taken a bath and washed his head, he had washed every part of his body clean.

Right now Xiao-Hong was brushing his hair, while Xiao-Cui and Xiao-Yu were cutting and polishing his nails. 

Xiao-Yun had prepared a completely new set of clothes for him wear, they were all white from underclothes to socks, white like the snow. 

They were all famous prostitutes in the city, all very pretty, very young, they all know how to please men-to please men in all kinds of ways. 

But Xi Men Chui Xue only chose one kind.  He never even touched them.  He had fasted for three days.

Because he was about to set upon doing a thing that he believes is the most saintly thing in the world. 

He was going to kill a person!  His name was Hong Tao. 

Xi Men Chui Xue didn't know the man, nor had he seen him before.  Xi Men Chui Xue was going to kill him only because he killed Zhao Gang. 
                                                
{“Chui” means blow, “Xue” means snow, but is the same sound as blood.  This was a very clever play on words that does not translate over. }
 
 
Everyone knew that Zhao Gang was a very upright and very loyal man, a real man among men. 

Xi Men Chui Xue knew that too, but he does not know Zhao Gang either, nor had he seen Zhao Gang before. 

He had traveled thousands of kilometers, rode for three days straight under a blazing sun, arrived at this unfamiliar city, bathed, fasted for three days, only to avenge for a stranger he had never even met before by killing another stranger he had never met before. 

Hong Tao stared at Xi Men Chui Xue, he couldn't believe there was a man like this in the world that will do this kind of thing. 

Xi Men Chui Xue's clothes were white like the snow as he calmly stood there under the West Gate, calmly waiting for Hong Tao to pull out his sabre. 

{“XiMen” means West Gate, so that whole phrase was a take off on Xi Men Chui Xue's name, yet another thing that does not translate over. }

Most of the people in the pugilisitic world knew about Hong Tao's “Lighting Sabre”.  If his sabre wasn't really fast like lightning, “One Sabre Shaking the nine Prefectures” Zhao Gang would not have died by his sabre. 

Hong Tao killed Zhao Gang for those six words: “One Sabre Shaking the nine Prefectures”, six words, one life! 

Xi Men Chui Xue only spoke five words in total! 

Hong Tao asked why he had come, he only replied: “To kill you!” 

Hong Tao then asked him “Why”, he answered: “Zhao Gang!” 

Hong Tao asked him: “Are a friend of Zhao Gang?”  He only shook his head. 

Hong Tao asked: “So you came all this way to kill me for a person that you have never met?”  He only nodded. 

He came to kill, not to talk. 

The color on Hong Tao's face changed, he had figured out who this man was, he had heard of his sword skill and weird behavior. 

Xi Men Chui Xue's behavior was indeed strange, his sword technique was just as strange. 

When he decide to kill a person, he had already prepared himself for two possible outcome and only two!  “Either you die, or I die!” 
                                                
 
Now Hong Tao discovered that he was only left with these two outcomes, he already have no other choice. 

The west winds blew through the street as the leaves slowly float down.  In the yard inside the tall walls, a flock of crows suddenly took off and flew into the setting sun to the west.  Hong Tao suddenly pulled out his sabre and with lightning speed attacked eight times. 

Zhao Gang died under this “Jade Linked Lightning eight Strikes”. 

Shame that his “Jade Linked” was like any other sabre skill in the world, it has openings.  Only a little opening. 

So Xi Men Chui Xue only made one thrust, one thrust was enough to stab through Hong Tao's throat. 

When he pulled the sword out, there was blood on the sword. 

Xi Men Chui Xue gently blew on the sword, and then blood dripped off the point drop by drop, neatly dripping onto a yellow leaf on the ground. 

When the leaf was picked up by the west winds, Xi Men Chui Xue had already disappeared into the dusk, disappeared with the west winds....

 

Hua Man Lou

 
Fresh flowers filled the building.  Hua Man Lou always loved fresh flowers very much, just like how he loved life.

At dusk, he always liked to set by the window with the setting sun shining through, gently stroking flower petals that were soft like the lips of a lover and enjoying the flower fragrance that were sweet like a lover's breath.  It's dusk right now, the setting sun was warm, the gentle breeze was tender. 

The building was peaceful and quiet, he sat there by the window all by himself, his heart was filled with gratitude, gratitude towards the heavens for giving him life, letting him enjoy such a beautiful human life. 

Just then, he heard a series of hurried steps on the stairs. 

A 17 or 18 year old girl hurried ran up to stairs, her expression was one of panic, her breath was hurried as well. 
 
Although she wasn't very beautiful, but she had a clever and lively pair of big and bright eyes, shame that right now her eyes were filled with unspeakable terror and panic.  Hua Man Lou turned around and faced her. 

He didn't recognize the girl, but he was very polite and seemed very caring: “Is something the matter, Miss?” 

The girl caught her breath and answered: “Someone's chasing me, can I hide here for a bit?” 

“Yes!”  Hua Man Lou did not seem to think about his answer at all. 

There was nobody downstairs, the front door's always open, obviously this girl came running in out of panic. But even if it was a wounded wolf running away from a hunter, he would have let it in just the same. 

His door was always open, that's because no matter what kind of people came to him, he would welcome them just the same. 

The eyes of the girl was looking around the room, seemingly looking for a safe place to hide. 

Hua Man Lou tenderly assured her: “You don't need to hide anymore, as long as you are here, you are safe.” 

“Really”  The girl blinked, as if she doesn't quite believe him.  “Not only is the man chasing me mean and vicious, he has a sabre with him, he may kill people at anytime!” 

Hua Man Lou smiled and replied: “I guarantee you he would not kill here.” 

Still not feeling assured, the girl was just about to ask him: “Why?” 

But she did not have a chance to ask, the man chasing her had arrived inside the building and had ran up the stairs. He was exceptionally tall and big, yet he was very swift and nimble moving up the stairs. 

He really did have a sabre in his hand, his eyes also had a knife-like ferocity to them, when he saw the girl he immediately shouted: “Now let's see where you can run off to.” 

The girl was just running to behind Hua Man Lou, Hua Man Lou was smiling: “Now that she's here, she doesn't need to run anymore.” 
 
The man shot a glance at him, seeing that he was nothing more than a handsome and refined-looking young man, he laughed at said: “Do you know who your old man is here?  How dare you meddle in your old man's business!” 

Hua Man Lou was still just as calm and polite: “Who are you?” 

The man squared his shoulders and answered: “Your old man here is 'Flower Sabre King' Cui Yi Dong, I give you one chop, your body will gain one more hole.

{Yet another play on words, “Yi Dong” means one hole.}

Hua Man Lou replied: “So very sorry, I have never heard of your honorable name before, my body doesn't need any extra holes either, I don't want anymore holes, big or small.” 

The girl could not help but let out a peal of laughter. 

Cui Yi Dong's face has changed colors, suddenly he screamed: “You are going to get some even if you don't want any!” 

He shook his sabre, while the sword flashes were still shaking, his sabre was already on its way towards Hua Man Lou's chest. 

Hua Man Lou did not move his body at all, only two fingers. 

He suddenly moved his hand, and the two finger came together on the sabre. That sabre seemed like it immediately grew root there between his fingers. 

Cui Yi Dong pulled with all his might, but he still cannot pull the sabre out. 

Hua Man Lou was still smiling: “If you are willing to leave your sabre here, I'll be sure to take very good care of it, my door is always open, you can come back any time to take it back.” 

Cui Yi Dong was covered in cold sweat, suddenly he stumped his foot on the floor, released the sabre, and ran down the stairs without even glancing back. He ran down much faster than he ran up. 

Like a bell, the girl started laughing, she looked at Hua Man Lou with both admiration and surprise: “I never suspected that you have that great of an ability.” 

Hua Man Lou smiled and replied: “It's not that I have a great ability, it's that he doesn't have any!” 

The girl replied: “Who says he doesn't have any?  A lot of people in the martial world can 't beat him, even me.” 

Huan Man Lou asked: “You?” 
                                               
 
The girl answered: “Although I can't beat him, but there's also a lot of men that can't beat me, I am Shang Guan Fei Yan from south of the river.” 

She immediately shook her head at herself and sighed: “Of course you have never heard of that name before!” 

Hua Man Lou walked over and gently placed the sabre in his hand onto a table by the wall, he suddenly turned around and asked: “Why was he chasing you?” 

Shang Guan Fei Yan bit her lips and hesitated, finallly she broke out into a smile and said: “Because I stole something of his.” 

Hua Man Lou was not surprised nor shocked, he actually laughed. 

Shang Guan Fei Yan immediately followed it up: “Even though I'm a thief, but he's a bandit, I never steal from nice people, only from bandits.” 

She bowed her head down and peeked at Hua Man Lou out of the corner of her eye, then she spoke up: “I only  hope that you don't look down at me, that you don't dislike me.” 

Hua Man Lou smiled: “I like you, I like people who tell the truth.” 

Shang Guan Fei Yan blinked: “Can people who tell the truth stay here a little longer?” 

Hua Man Lou answered: “Of course.” 

Shang Guan Fei Yan seemed to have relaxed a bit sweetly replied: “Then I feel much better, I was really afraid that you might chase me out just then.” 

She walked over to the window and took a deep breath, the air was filled with the sweet smell of flowers.  It was getting darker outside, but inside it had already gotten dark. 

Shang Guan Fei Yan gently sighed: “Today past so quickly, it is already dark again.” 

Hua Man Lou replied with a simple “H'm” 

Shang Guan Fei Yan asked: “Why haven't you lit the lamps?” 

Hua Man Lou smiled and replied: “So sorry, I forgot I have a guest here.” 

Shang Guan Fei Yan asked: “You only light the lamps when you have guests?” 

Hua Man Lou merely answered with another “H'm”. 

Shang Guan Fei Yan asked: “You don't light the lamps when you are by yourself?” 
 
 
Hua Man Lou replied: “I don't need any lamp.”
 

Shang Guan Fei Yan asked yet again: “Why?” 

She had turned around, looking at Hua Man Lou with disbelief in her eyes.

But Hua Man Lou's expression was still very happy and calm as he slowly answered: “Because I am blind.” 

The twighlight got even darker, the air was still filled with the sweet smell of flower fragrances. 

But Shang Guan Fei Yan didn't notice any of it, she was completely shocked. 

“Because I am blind.” 

Although there were only four very normal words, Shang Guan Fei Yan had never heard any phrase that shocked her more than these four words.  She stared at Hua Man Lou, this man, who's filled with love for the life, who's filled with hope for the future, who could just casually press his fingers together onto a sabre that others were chopping down with all their might, who's living by himself in this little building, not only does he not need anyone's help, but he's always prepared to gladly offer help to others. 

Shang Guan Fei Yan could not believe that this man was blind.  She could not help but ask again: “Are you really blind?” 

Hua Man Lou nodded: “I have been blind since I was 7.” 

Shang Guan Fei Yan observed: “But you don't act like it.”
 

Hua Man Lou smiled again: “How should a blind man act?”
 

Shang Guan Fei Yan didn't know how to reply.  She had seen many blind people before, she had always thought that blind people were sad and dejected, because this beautiful and colorful world had turned to nothing but darkness to them. 

Although she didn't say this, Hua Man Lou obviously understood what she meant. Still smiling, he said: “I know that you figured that blind people should not be as happy as I am.” 

Shang Guan Fei Yan could only admit it. 

Hua Man Lou said: “Actually being blind is really not bad at all, although I can't see anymore, I can still hear and feel, sometimes I enjoy a lot more pleasure than others.” 
 
His face was filled with a glow of satisfaction that comes from happiness as he slowly continued: “Have you ever heard the sound of snow falling on the roof?  Can you feel that strange but wonderful power of life when the flower buds slowly blooming in the spring? Do you know that the Autumn winds often brings with it the sweet smells from trees and forests from hillsides far far away?....” 

Shang Guan Fei Yan quietly listened to him talk, as if she was listening to a soft and beautiful song. 

Hua Man Lou said: “If you are willing to look for them, you'll discovered how lovely and wonderful life is, every season has lots of unique pleasures and delights that can make you forget all your troubles and worries.” 

Shang Guan Fei Yan closed her eyes, suddenly she felt the wind become gentler and the flowers become sweeter. 

Hua Man Lou continued: “Whether or not you are happy, has nothing to do with whether or not you are blind, but has everything to do with whether or not you really love your life and whether or not you reall want to live on happily.” 

Shang Guan Fei Yan looked up at his peaceful but happy face that was glowing in the twighlight. This time her eyes were not filled with shock and surprise, but with respect and gratitude. 

She was grateful to him, not because he saved her life, but because he made her realize what it means to live. 

She respect him, not because of his kungfu, but becasue of his incredible outlook and heart. 

But she couldn't help but ask some more: “You don't have anyone else in your family?” 

Hua Man Lou smiled: “I have a very large family, there are a lot of people in my family, everyone of them are very healthy and very happy.” 

Shang Guan Fei Yan asked: “Then why are you living her all by herself?” 

Hua Man Lou replied: “Because I want to try and find out if I can live by myself. Because I don't want others to help me every step of the way, I don't want others to treat me as if I'm blind.” 

Shang Guan Fei Yan asked some more: “You... Are you really having a good time living here all by yourself?” 
 
 
Hua Man Lou answered: “I have lived here for eight months now, and I have never been happier in my life.” 

Shang Guan Fei Yan gently sighed and asked: “But other than the snow in the winter and the flowers in the spring, what else do you have?” 

Hua Man Lou replied: “I have great nights of sleep, a very good appetite, a very comfortable house, and a very good sounding old seven stringed-zither, all these are enough really. Besides, I also have a very good friend.” 

Shang Guan Fei Yan asked: “Who's your friend?” 

Hua Man Lou's face was beaming again: “His surname is Lu, call him Lu Xiao Feng.” 

He smiled and continued: “But please don't assume he is a girl, although his name is Xiao Feng, little phoenix, he is a man in every way.” 

Shang Guan Fei Yan replied: “Lu Xiao Feng?... I think I have heard of that name before, but don't know what kind of person he is.” 

Hua Man Lou's smiled even wider: “He is a really strange fellow, all you have to do is take one look at him, then you'll never ever forget him, not only does he have two pairs of eyes and ears, three hands, he also grew four eyebrows.” 

Two pairs of eyes and ears, of course meant that he can see and hear a lot more and better than others. 

Three hands probably meant that his hands were faster than anyone, very nimble and dexterous. 

But what does “4 eyebrows” mean?  Shang Guan Fei Yan couldn't figure that out. 

She decided that no matter what she must think of a way to see this four eyebrowed Lu Xiao Feng. 

 

Last Updated ( Friday, 15 August 2008 21:48 )