The Crane Startles Kunlun, Chapter 11.
from Wang Dulu's He Jing Kunlun.
Crossing swords on cloudy ridges,
a cliff fall chances him upon a young valiant.
Blowing out the candle in the bridal chamber,
her swinging saber repels the bridegroom.
Ji Guangjie was furious as he bounded out of the tavern, whoosh, with his sword held out. He shouted crossly, "Don't even think about running away, little one!" But all he saw was a black horse flying away to the south, being ridden by a man wearing blue who didn't bother even turning his head. Ji Guangjie angrily chased after him a few dozen steps, but there was just no way to catch up. He could only run back to the inn and retrieve his horse. Without even saddling it he led it urgently outside. Liu Zhiyuan and Jiang Zhiyao were in the courtyard then, and they walked forth and asked, "Guangjie, where are you going?" Ji Guangjie stamped his foot indignantly and said, "Never you mind!" He went through the entrance and mounted his horse, and then rode as if in flight toward the south and then to the west, heading to Mount Wudang straight after that man.
In actuality, Jiang Xiaohe and his horse had long been hiding amid a dense pine forest. He watched as Ji Guangjie rode his horse with sword in hand toward the west. He himself turned his horse around and returned to the inn that Ji Guangjie had been staying at. He called out, "Liu Zhiyuan, come out!" Liu Zhiyuan had been inside, sitting anxiously with Jiang Zhiyao, puzzling over the fact that a man of great skill was currently secretly following Ji Guangjie. The man didn't have any bad intentions toward Ji Guangjie, but neither were they good. As they spoke, he suddenly heard someone calling his name from outside. It was a young man wearing blue and leading a black horse, standing before the gate.
He was perplexed as he approached and asked, "Friend, are you the one looking for Liu Zhiyuan? What is your honorable name? What do you require Liu Zhiyuan for...?" When he drew nearer and gave a closer look, he couldn't help the color in his face draining from fear, uttering, "Oh—" Jiang Xiaohe smiled and nodded, saying, "Come out here with me! There are a few things I'd like to speak with you about!" Liu Zhiyuan couldn't help his legs going a little soft as he walked outside. Jiang Xiaohe said, "Don't worry. There is no enmity between the two of us!" Liu Zhiyuan relaxed a little at that and came closer, saying, "Brother, I haven't seen you in ten years. You've really grown both tall and strong! We've heard you've learned your martial arts!" Jiang Xiaohe said, "It's unsuitable to talk here. Come to the south side with me for some words. I hold no malice toward you. Otherwise, I would have taken all three of your heads last night!"
Liu Zhiyuan went with him out into the southern outskirts until they came to a patch of wilderness. Here there was erected a very thick stone post, upon which had been carved a few characters indicating that this was the boundary of the Zhang family. Jiang Xiaohe led his horse over and stood beside it. He turned toward Liu Zhiyuan and said, "Let me tell you! My father was murdered by Bao Zhenfei, and in my youth, I suffered mistreatment in the Bao household. You know all of this. You did not treat me well before, but neither did you treat me poorly. I've learned my martial arts now. Look!" Jiang Xiaohe swung his right palm across the stone post. With a crack, he split the very thick stone post into two pieces, though Jiang Xiaohe's hand remained unhurt, nor did his color change.
Jiang Xiaohe smirked smugly as he said, "This is but hard martial arts. If I were to show you soft martial arts, you would not comprehend it." Liu Zhiyuan was trembling a little and fear had paled his face, but he forced himself to remain calm as he said, "I have long known that you've learned your martial arts, brother. I had no choice but to come out here with Ji Guangjie this time, and it is the same for Jiang Zhiyao. Brother, you know the rules for our Kunlun School are the most strict. We must do what the old master sends us to do!" Jiang Xiaohe placed his hand on his sword and said angrily, "Speak no more of the Kunlun School! Bao Zhilin, Ge Zhiqiang, Long Zhiteng and Long Zhiqi of the Kunlun School are all my enemies! I must kill them all! I have no enmity with the rest of you, however, as long as you don't attack me, I will certainly not cause needless harm!"
Liu Zhiyuan shuddered again and sighed, saying, "There's nothing to be done! No one can intercede in the grudge between your two houses. However, ugh! In any case, we must stay out of it where we can. The old master sent us out with Ji Guangjie, so we could only come with him. However, if I see you or encounter you, I won't give any indication that you are Jiang Xiaohe!"
Jiang Xiaohe nodded and said, "Fine. No matter when you see you me, you must not tell anyone who I am. But you have to realize that it isn't because I'm afraid of anyone!" Liu Zhiyuan nodded and said, "I do! That you delivered at night seven hundred and more taels of silver for relief in Zhengyang, and that you wrote words on Ji Guangjie's body, I realize it all. To bring up the martial arts you've learned through ten grueling years, brother, no one has as great a skill. That kid Ji Guangjie is still foolish, thinking that his martial arts are exceptional. In reality, it is because you aren't willing to strike against him, brother, or else Ji Guangjie be dead even if there were eight of him!" Jiang Xiaohe nodded and said, "All right! I'm off to look for Ji Guangjie!" He mounted his horse, swung his whip and galloped off toward Mount Wudang.
A branch of the Ba Mountains, Mount Wudang was the most famous mountain in Northern Hubei. It encompassed eight hundred miles, and held thirty-six cliffs and twenty-seven peaks. Its highest summit was called Tianzhu Peak, and that was where Zhenwu cultivated asceticism. Else, there was the South Cliff, Wulong Peak, Zixiao Peak and Zhanqi Peak, and upon each peak sat a Daoist monastery built by the founding master Zhang Sanfeng. Zhang Sanfeng was a man of Huizong of Song's time who lived for more than two hundred years, finally ascending to immortality during the reign of Chengzu of Ming. The internal martial arts techniques had all come from him, so it was called the "Wudang School." The Daoist priests on the mountain have all learned his secret martial arts, but they are unwilling to show them to others rashly, so those of Jianghu cannot easily know their ins and outs.
On this day, the dawn mist had not yet dissipated, and it was cool on the mountain. Renowned xia of the internal school Ji Guangjie and Jiang Xiaohe made their way up Mount Wudang one after the other. Ji Guangjie was the first to come, and he pressed his horse up the mountain way. He held anger in his heart, thinking, What kind of person dares toy with me? To bully me, the Xia of Longmen's grandson? I must fight him! The horse's hooves knocked upon the mountain rock as he rode, frightening the mountain birds and wild hares into scattering. After he crossed a peak, he heard the trickling of a spring in his ear. Three or four goshawks shot down from the high peaks and white clouds in a spiral, directly below the ridge, and flew circles about the legs of Ji Guangjie's horse. Just as suddenly, they swept swiftly back up into the sky, their wings angled. Ji Guangjie regretted not carrying a sling with him, thinking, If I'd brought a sling, I'd be able to strike down these four goshawks in five or six shots.
He looked from side to side as he pressed his horse on, not seeing so much as a woodsman. Crossing another ridge, he spotted across from him a waterfall flowing from a high cliff that looked just like a strip of white silk. It beat against the mountain rock and splashed forth countless water droplets. The droplets sprayed both high and far, causing even Ji Guangjie's socks and shoes to feel damp. He could also hear the urgent gurgling of the water. This was because this waterfall rushed past countless creature-like mountain rocks, twisting and turning its way down. Below was a deep and wide mountain stream, and its waters surged as if it were the Yellow River or the Great River. When he looked up, he saw carved above the high cliff in large characters, "Shedsword Spring."
Ji Guangjie thought to himself, I wonder if this is some sort of historical site. It's unfortunate I didn't bring a brush and ink, or I'd be able to climb up the cliff and write "Capture Jiang Xiaohe" in large characters, and then note my name below it. In the future, if Jiang Xiaohe ever comes here and sees it, he'll surely become frightened out of his wits. He searched for the mountain road and then ascended with quite a bit of exertion up the mountain crag with his horse. He unexpectedly came upon a boulder blocking the road, and when his horse saw it, it became timid and wanted to go back down. Ji Guangjie whipped and spurred his horse on firmly. The horse leapt with its four legs over the boulder like a white dragon. Afterward, Ji Guangjie jumped off his horse, and standing by the boulder, drew his sword and swung it. He gave a long whistle and said, "Hey! I, Ji Guangjie, am here! Come out, little one! Let me show you, here on Mount Wudang, our real, internal Wudang martial arts, and the Longmen School's spectacular sword skill!"
He shouted this with head held high, but all he heard in response were the echoes of innumerable mountains, all saying, "...spectacular sword skill!" It was as if the founding master Zhang Sanfeng was replying to him from the sky. Again seeing two goshawks flying back his way, Ji Guangjie quickly picked up a rock shard and lifted his face up. He waited for one of them to wheel back, and then raising his hand, Ji Guangjie flung the rock at it, striking the goshawk's wing. The bird careered down at an angle, like a kite with a broken string. Ji Guangjie quickly looked down and watched the bird falling several dozen feet before slowly regaining its strength, flapping its wings and soaring upward. It called out, hark, hark, as it circled twice, and then flew into the distance.
Ji Guangjie couldn't help but laugh loudly. When he turned his head, he noticed a Daoist priest standing on the peak behind him with a long, black beard. His hand was resting on a pine tree as he looked down at Ji Guangjie. Ji Guangjie turned around and looked up, asking loudly, "Priest, have you seen a man coming up the mountain on a black horse?" The priest said something, but he couldn't hear a word of it, with it mixing in with the sound of the spring. Ji Guangjie thus walked his horse to the side and tied it to a date tree. Then, with his sword in one hand, he waved with the other.
The Daoist priest said loudly, "You can't bring a sword up here! Did you not see it carved on the rock face below, 'Shedsword Spring'? It was written by the celestial hand of the Perfected Incarnation of Profundity, founding master Zhang Sanfeng. You may not bring swords up the mountain. Throw your sword down quickly, or the lord Zhenwu will become angry!" Ji Guangjie's look hardened as he said, "You are not lord Zhenwu, nor are you Zhang Sanfeng. Can you stop me? I was invited up the mountain to compare my martial skill with someone. I know the martial arts, those actually of the Wudang School. Mount Wudang is my ancestral home, so I can do what I like. No one can tell me otherwise!"
Upon hearing Ji Guangjie's words, the priest's bearing changed a little, inquiring, "To which branch of the Wudang School do you belong? The Wudang School only has three branches of descendants. One was in Guanzhong, where the great xia Wang Zong passed it on to a few disciples, but in the hundred years since, the transmission in that branch has long ended. Another was in Wenzhou, passed on through the master Chen Zhoutong, and in our day, of this branch there remains only the Dragon of Shu. The final branch was in Southern Hubei, passed on through the master Wang Laiwei, but I hear none remain of that one now. There is also the Iron Staff Monk and the Goose of the Great River, but they have merely appropriated a bit of the internal martial arts for their own, and are thus not authentic Wudang."
Hearing this, Ji Guangjie was astonished, thinking, This priest is quite familiar with the splinter schools of Wudang. I suppose he must know the martial arts. Then he laughed and said, "You speak accurately, but there are things you may not know. The martial arts of the Wudang School have already left the mountain for two or three centuries, and there are things out there which are much different than the news you receive on the mountain. There are many people whom you've never heard of, and their martial arts are more powerful than those that are passed down here. I am surnamed Ji, a man of Hedong. My grandfather is called the Xia of Longmen. You surely know of him?"
The Daoist priest heard this and said with surprise, "So you are a descendant of the Xia of Longmen. That's even better. Your grandfather's martial arts are of the Shaolin School, though he then trained at Wudang. Thus his martial arts have the strength of two schools together, and he has proved to be a great, old xia. However, he made a few pilgrimages to Wudang twenty years ago and even he had never dared to take his sword up the mountain. As his grandson, how can you be so arrogant? You must understand, I am doing you a favor by telling you these things, because I have but wandered here. I am not of the mountain. But if you encounter the priests of the Yuzhen Monastery, they may not be as generous as I've been."
Ji Guangjie said indignantly, "Since you're not from the mountain, then you should mind your own business! If lord Zhenwu appears, then he can only blame me. It's got nothing to do with you!" After he said this, he paid no more mind to the priest and jumped up onto a high cliff and looked all about. He saw continuous peaks and ridges, heavy clouds and mist, and not even the shapes of those goshawks. Even more, he did not see the man from the tavern in the southern reaches of the county who called for him to compare their martial arts. He couldn't help smiling to himself, What an imbecile. He called me out here, and then ran away. I think he must have been a Jianghu thug. His nighttime tricks may have been better a little better than mine, but he doesn't dare cross swords with me! Thus, he shouted a few times in succession, but excepting the echoes from the empty valleys, no one responded to him. He looked back again to see that the Daoist priest had already left. Ji Guangjie felt very disappointed, thinking, I probably won't lose my horse here, so I might as well continue upwards and see what Mount Wudang has to offer in the way of priests with exceptional martial arts!
Thereafter he made his way upwards, holding his sword. He saw all over the mountain deep green pines and jade-colored grass. It was so secluded, he saw not one person. After crossing another ridge, he saw a red wall before him, peeking out from behind pine trees. Ji Guangjie increased his pace and walked closer, seeing that it was a small temple. He found the door and read the three characters written across a tablet, which said, "Xuanwei Monastery." The door was shut tightly. As the birds chirped and the sea of pines rustled, it really appeared to be a heavenly paradise.
Ji Guangjie used his sword to knock on the door lock, knocking for a while, yet no one opened the door. Ji Guangjie grew irritated, and leapt up onto the red wall. He looked down and saw no one in the courtyard, though it had been swept very neatly. Ji Guangjie jumped into the courtyard, walked to the eastern temple hall with his sword in hand, and directed a question inside, "Is there anyone in there?" Before anyone inside answered, Ji Guangjie heard light footsteps behind him. He quickly looked back and saw the black-bearded Daoist priest from before, now wearing short clothes. In one hand he carried a sword and his other hand was reaching out with two fingers extended toward Ji Guangjie's lower spine, advancing with the utmost speed. Ji Guangjie turned back swiftly, swinging his sword. Clang, the two swords rang out as they clashed.
Ji Guangjie hollered furiously, "All right! You Daoists are plotting against me!" The black-bearded priest thrust his sword for another attack, himself yelling angrily, "No one has dared carry a sword up the mountain in two hundred years! Whence do you come, brigand, who dares to pretend he is an heir of Wudang? On your guard!" Ji Guangjie held his sword up to knock away his opponent's sword. Hearing the sound of a door behind him, Ji Guangjie quickly jumped to the side and saw a young priest coming out of the eastern temple hall, also armed with a sword and coming at him, yelling, "Leave!" As Ji Guangjie displayed his martial ability, his one sword holding itself against his opponents' two swords, he smiled and said, "As I've come up the mountain already, I won't leave. Mount Wudang is my grandmother's home. I want to show off my martial arts here to allow you uncles to get a look at me!" He didn't flinch one bit as his sword spun around through changing moves. The red tassel on the sword danced along with his long and nimble arm.
The two priests were also quite adept with the sword, but they were unable to overcome him, as they were driven back almost into the rear courtyard. Just then three more priests came out from the rear courtyard, all brandishing their swords and charging at Ji Guangjie. The five swords surrounded Ji Guangjie, in front and behind, on his left and his right. With his sword, Ji Guangjie covered his front and shielded behind him, blocked to the left and attacked to the right. All one could hear was the sound of footsteps and the increasingly urgent clash of swords. After more than twenty exchanges, Ji Guangjie changed his sword form and fought and moved at the same time. When he was before the temple gate, he leapt up onto the wall. The young priest pursued him onto the wall with sword brandished. Ji Guangjie jumped outside the temple and withdrew up the mountain ridge. With the five priests chasing after him, Ji Guangjie nodded and said, "Come! Do you dare come up here?" He stood atop a cliff and smiled smugly down at them.
The black-bearded Daoist priest and the young priest came at him with their swords held out. Ji Guangjie bent forward with his sword and contended with them. After battling for another dozen or so exchanges, none of the five priests could advance onto the cliff. Ji Guangjie used one hand to protect his body with his sword and used the other to hold onto the rock face and make his way up the mountain. The five priests refused to back away, and pressed on as before, yelling at him, "Throw down your sword and we'll let you go wherever you please!" Ji Guangjie continued laughing unrestrained and continued backing his way up the mountain, teasing the priests with his sword. The Daoist priests were now in a fury and charged him all at once. Ji Guangjie shielded his body and proceeded up on a mountain road, thrusting his sword in combat with the five priests. The more they fought, the more his spirit was stirred. The five priests had been pressed by his rapidly changing sword until they no longer dared to advance upon him.
At this time, Ji Guangjie heard bell sounds behind him, droning on as if two or three bells were all being struck at the same time, and very urgently. Ji Guangjie knew then that more people were coming. He retracted his sword with a flip, turned around and ran up the mountain. Upon reaching an even higher mountain ridge, he saw the cliffs here to be sheer, without even a bit of level ground.
Behind the ridge there was a temple, its top exposed along with pine trees, with white clouds drifting among the trees. The mountain-shaking droning of the bell was coming from there. Amid the sound of the bells, two more Daoist priests ran out, both holding swords in their hands. These two priests were older, with one over forty and the other with an already faded beard. The ashy-bearded priest came near to Ji Guangjie very quickly. He held his sword out crosswise and shouted, "Halt your advance!" The five priests below the ridge had now caught up, and when they saw the ashy-bearded priest, they all bowed their heads to the ground in deference.
The black-bearded priest pointed at Ji Guangjie and said, "This is a hateful man! He calls himself the grandson of the Xia of Longmen, and he passed by Shedsword Spring without leaving his sword. I kindly exhorted him, and he became vicious, using malicious words to slander the gods. The few of us tried to drive him away but were unsuccessful, and he continued his way up the mountain." The ashy-bearded priest listened and sized Ji Guangjie up from top to bottom. He smiled and said, "I didn't imagine that Ji Junyi would have this sort of grandson. This being the case, you should be even less able to flout the rules of the mountain! Now throw your sword into the water and I'll take you to burn incense before the lord founding master and beg the lord founding master for forgiveness!"
Ji Guangjie, however, brandished his sword and said, "Make things clear first! I ask you, who is your lord the founding master?" The ashy-bearded priest's mood turned immediately angry, as he said, "The founding master of the Wudang School is Zhang the Perfected Incarnation of Profundity! How can it be your grandfather has not told you this?" Ji Guangjie asked arrogantly, "Is the Daoist master Zhang still alive? Tell him to come out and see me!" The nearby Daoist priests all became furious, all brandishing their swords and saying, "This man lacks reason. The Second Daoist Master need speak with him no further!"
The ashy-bearded priest laughed coldly, saying, "The Iron Staff Monk came here ten years ago, causing trouble, but he was expelled from the mountain by us through the divine light of the lord founding master. Not since then has anyone ever dared come before us without rationality. I did not imagine there would now come one as lowly as you who has just entered the world. I ask you, as you are the grandson of the Xia of Longmen, you must have heard him speak to you of the Seven Great Sword Sages on Mount Wudang?"
Ji Guangjie smiled and shook his head, saying, "Never. I don't believe that any kind of sword sage still exists in this world. Even if there were, I should like to fight with them!" Upon hearing Ji Guangjie's foolish talk, the ashy-bearded priest sneered ever more coldly and said, "What a lowly person who doesn't know right from wrong! It is necessary for me today on behalf of the Xia of Longmen to keep his grandson in line. However, I must first give you my name. I am the second of this mountain's Seven Great Sword Sages, Chu Jianxiong!" Ji Guangjie said, "Who cares what kind of bear you are! Let us face off!" As he said this, he sent a chop over with his sword. [Note: Ji Guangjie insults Chu Jianxiong by using a pun on his name. The word for bear is also pronounced xiong).]
Chu Jianxiong quickly raised his sword and knocked away Ji Guangjie's sword, and then spun a half-blossom to cut at Ji Guangjie's right wrist. Ji Guangjie urgently pulled back his sword and then immediately sent out a thrust, hoping to thrust away his opponent's sword, but Chu Jianxiong spun his sword in a rear blossom, sending a chop at Ji Guangjie's head. Ji Guangjie pulled his sword back hastily and then swiftly met him with sword held crosswise. The two swords clashed and, clang, rang out very loudly! Chu Jianxiong's strength was great and Ji Guangjie couldn't repel his blade. He took a hasty step back, and then went back at his opponent having changed his swordwork. To his surprise, Chu Jianxiong's sword came flying with three chops in rapid succession, one following close behind the last. Ji Guangjie could only exert his strength to resist the attack, and then turn tail and run.
Chu Jianxiong rushed after him, when Ji Guangjie suddenly flipped around and swung his sword across to strike at Chu Jianxiong's neck. Chu Jianxiong's quickly ducked down, but then bobbed his head back up. His sword pushed his opponent's sword away, and he advanced at an angle, changing his sword stance and attacked Ji Guangjie from the right side. Ji Guangjie had already jumped onto a large crag, taking the high ground to face Chu Jianxiong. Chu Jianxiong charged at him a few times, though he was obstructed by Ji Guangjie's sword every time.
Ji Guangjie became even more arrogant, yelling out, "Priest, if you can make it onto this rock, I'll throw down my sword and ask you to be my master!" Chu Jianxiong bellowed angrily, "Who wants a disciple like you!" His sword was as if a python, moving in all directions, front, back, left, right. He soared up to attack, intending to defeat Ji Guangjie. However, Ji Guangjie just stood on the large crag, reaching down with his sword, jumping and turning side to side. Whenever Chu Jianxiong's blade came, he sent a chop down with his own. No matter what sword skill his opponent employed, or how much strength was exerted, he didn't not allow him to step up onto his fortress-like crag. He smirked, angering Chu Jianxiong into brandishing his sword and pointing it at him. The six Daoist priests nearby swung their swords and advanced. Ji Guangjie could do nothing but jump off the crag and bare his sword to battle the group.
The seven swords flew this way and that for another ten exchanges before Ji Guangjie cut down the black-bearded priest. The droning of the bell came now once again from the temple, and in an instant came four more Daoist priests armed with swords. The nine men swung their swords and advanced upon Ji Guangjie together. Chu Jianxiong's swordwork was especially novel as they pressed forward step by step. Ji Guangjie was aware that he wouldn't be able to keep up, so just as he stabbed down another, he turned and ran next to a precipice, where he was unable to find a path down. Below were bottomless mountain streams, but with the clouds drifting across them, he couldn't tell where it was water and where it was rock.
Ji Guangjie dared not jump down, so he could only turn back, grit his teeth, and with a hardened stare, twirl his sword about like a flower to protect his body. However, he saw that more and more priests were coming, and the glimmer of the blades in front of him were blinding him. Dealing with his left made it so he could not deal with his right, and at the same time his strength was exhausted. He felt his vision go black, a foot go soft, and he was no longer in control of his body. Closely following, he heard a rushing rumble and felt an odd ache course through his body, whereupon he lost consciousness.
He didn't know how much time had passed before he felt someone holding him and splashing cold water on his head. Ji Guangjie opened his eyes and saw that it was a young man wearing blue. He looked a little familiar, a man tall of stature. He appeared to be the man who, in front of the tavern in the southern reaches of the city, provoked him into coming to the mountain for a contest of swords, the same sturdy young man who, when he was inscribing poetry at the tavern the night previous, had praised his "good poetry" from nearby. Ji Guangjie took a look at the wounds from his tumble. They weren't serious, and except for his left arm and his face, nowhere else did it hurt. He jumped up and grabbed a fistful of the young man, cursing angrily, "You cretin! You tricked me into going up the mountain."
The young man took his wrist and sent a foot out, kicking Ji Guangjie into the mountain stream. The water was very deep and Ji Guangjie couldn't swim very well, so struggling, his head broke through the water twice before a torrent rushing down from some high place above submerged him completely. The young man Jiang Xiaohe, who had been standing on the mountain rock, jumped into the water. Like a fish, he swam with ease, pulling Ji Guangjie out without breaking a sweat. He pressed a few mouthfuls of water out of Ji Guangjie before he came to once again, who saw that both of them looked like drenched chickens. He hadn't any strength, so he laid on the rock and asked Jiang Xiaohe, "Who are you? Tell the truth!"
Jiang Xiaohe smiled and replied, "My name is Gao Jiuhua." Ji Guangjie sneered, "Nameless cretin! And here I thought you were Jiang Xiaohe!" Jiang Xiaohe smirked back, "If I were Jiang Xiaohe, why would I rescue you? Right now, you'd still be handing off a tree branch!"
Ji Guangjie looked up and saw cliffs rising up more than a hundred yards. A host of trees had grown perpendicular out of the cliff face, white clouds drifted above their branches, and spring water flowed down below their roots. Ji Guangjie was very astonished, thinking, I lost my footing and feel from above into the trees. With cliffs as sheer as this, that this man could rescue me from the trees is no small feat. Not to mention his hand-to-hand skills are very good, his strength great, and his swimming proficient. He must be some obscure good guy. He laughed and said, "I, Ji Guangjie, have never encountered a person like you before. You really are a first rate one of cock calls and dog burglaries!" [Note: "Cock calls and dog burglaries" (雞鳴狗盜, jiming goudao) is an idiom referring to small tricks useful in emergency situations. It comes from a story in the Records of the Grand Historian about the Warring States minister Lord Menchang escaping from King Zhao of Qin, via a theft performed by a man disguised as a dog and another man imitating the sound of a rooster.]
Jiang Xiaohe smiled and asked, "What do you mean by cock calls and dog burglaries? Don't litter your speech with literary allusions with me. I can't even read!" Ji Guangjie was taken aback, asking, "Could it be you are not the one who wrote a poem after my own on the wall of the tavern? Last evening...that wasn't you?" Jiang Xiaohe laughed, "You're pushing everything onto me. Let me tell you! I followed you from Zhengyang county. I meant to compare my martial arts with yours, to see just how great a skill this Capture Jiang Xiaohe person had. I knew it wasn't permitted to wear swords on Mount Wudang, and that bringing one up the mountain would cause trouble. That's why I provoked you into ascending the mountain, so that you would battle with these Daoist priests. Now I see, you're not capable at all!"
Ji Guangjie sat up angrily with a rebuke, "Shut your mouth, Gao! How dare you look down on me? I lost on the mountain just now because I was one man by myself. Of course there was some difficulty in holding off their dozen or so swords with my one. But in the end, I was not injured, though I did wound several of them. All said, the ones who lost today were them, not me!"
Jiang Xiaohe smiled and said, "Overall, your martial arts are still not great. If it were me, I wouldn't need a weapon in my hand. Against an attack by dozens of their swords, I wouldn't be the least bit fearful. I guarantee I would defeat them all."
Ji Guangjie scoffed, "None of your offhanded nonsense! Dare you go up the mountain and fight those priests?" Jiang Xiaohe said, "They haven't done me any wrong, not to mention that Mount Wudang is sacred ground for our internal school. I dare not be discourteous before the founding master Zhang Sanfeng." Ji Guangjie laughed loudly and said, "Those words coming out of your mouth will kill people, they're so funny!"
A bit of ire showed on Jiang Xiaohe's face as he said, "I'm not funny. The funny one is you! How dare you write 'Capture Jiang Xiaohe' everywhere with your level of martial arts? It's just that Jiang Xiaohe respects the renown of your grandfather, the Xia of Longmen, and thus is unwilling to shame you upon Jianghu. That's all. Otherwise, if he found you, he'd need only three fists and two kicks. Light ones, and you'd be injured, Ji Guangjie. Heavy, and you would certainly die!"
Upon hearing this, Ji Guangjie jumped up suddenly, holding both hands in fists and glaring at Jiang Xiaohe. Jiang Xiaohe smiled smugly. Ji Guangjie looked down abruptly and caught sight of his reflection in the mirror-like water. His face was covered in blood, probably injured by pine branches when he fell off the cliff. Ji Guangjie touched his hands to his face and felt a lot of pain. In addition, his hands became stained with blood. He sneered at Jiang Xiaohe a moment but didn't speak. He then peeled off his soaked, tattered short shirt and, using it as a towel, he crouched down and washed his face and body with the water from the stream. Then, he laughed disingenuously and said to Jiang Xiaohe, "Friend, let us not quarrel today. In Zhengyang county, you stole money to help me give relief, and we'll count what just happened as you saving me. The two of us ought to become friends. As to whose martial arts are better, and whose are worse, let's decide that on a later date. Wait for me here while I go up the mountain to get my horse now. Then, I'll call out to you and we can return to the city together, to my inn to talk and drink a few cups of wine. What do you say?"
Jiang Xiaohe nodded and said, "All right! You go get your horse, and I'll wait for you below the mountain. Let me get your sword!" Saying this, Jiang Xiaohe scaled up the cliff to a large, crooked willow, where he took hold of the sword that Ji Guangjie had lost and tossed it down, saying, "Look out! Catch!" Below, Ji Guangjie reached a hand out and grabbed the hilt. Holding onto a tree with one hand, Jiang Xiaohe smiled and said, "I'll be waiting for you below the mountain!" Saying this, he climbed up the cliff and scaled through the trees like a monkey, very quickly making his way to the top.
Looking up and watching him, Ji Guangjie couldn't help but feel admiration, thinking, This person's body and hands are nimble, truly more so than my own. If he is Jiang Xiaohe, then this will really be troublesome! He waited until there remained no trace of Jiang Xiaohe, before slipping his sword into his belt and climbing through the trees and scaling the cliffs to the top. However, before he got twenty feet, he saw no more trees to climb and no more cliffs he could scale, so he quickly went back down. He felt anxious, thinking, If I can't climb out, even if I don't end up starving to death here, the one named Gao will ridicule me. Thus, he jumped through the mess of rocks by the stream and headed upwards. It took quite a bit of effort for him to look up and see a mountain crag above that he could scale. Ji Guangjie exhausted his entire life's capabilities, very carefully climbing his way up.
When he reached the top, he heard the crashing of water and realized he was in the vicinity of the waterfall at Shedsword Spring. Ji Guangjie checked the direction and then wandered a while back and forth between the mountain ridges before finding his white horse. Looking up and seeing the green peaks layered upon each other and the drifting white clouds, Ji Guangjie wanted to draw his sword and make his way back up the ridge to clash once more with the group of Daoist priests. However, right now his body was extremely tired, and several of his cuts and bruises hurt a lot, so he just glared viciously upwards. He thought, Chu Jianxiong! You bunch of priests! We won't fight anymore today. After a couple days, I'll come back up the mountain to do battle with you! He fumed as he slid his sword into its scabbard, and then he led his horse down the mountain. When he saw he was about to arrive at the base of the mountain, he got onto his horse and loosed the reins, trotting down the mountain.
There was a herd of sheep below the mountain, over two hundred of them grazing on the grass. Looked upon from afar, they appeared much like piles and piles of snow. Jiang Xiaohe was holding on to his horse and standing amid the herd of snow white sheep, talking to two sheepherder children. Ji Guangjie waved his hands high in the air and called out, "Friend! Let's go!" Jiang Xiaohe led his horse out of the flock and over to the main road, whereupon he mounted his horse. Ji Guangjie paid special attention to the sword by Jiang Xiaohe's saddle and the straw sandals on his feet. He smiled and said, "Let's go! We'll head back to my inn and chat. I have two friends there as well!"
Jiang Xiaohe nodded and said, "All right!" Thus, the two horses galloped back to the city's southern outskirts. At this time, Liu Zhiyuan and Jiang Zhiyao were in the courtyard feeling the breeze. Liu Zhiyuan was silent with a tightly furrowed brow, while Jiang Zhiyao was exchanging small talk with the innkeeper. Abruptly, the two horses white and black arrived. As they were led through the gates of the inn, Ji Guangjie and Jiang Xiaohe were both covered in mud. It was especially the case with Ji Guangjie, who had earlier departed looking quite good. Now, he was no longer wearing a shirt, with cuts and bruises all over his face and arms, and bleeding in several places. Jiang Zhiyao stared at him with his one eye and asked, "What happened!?" Liu Zhiyuan glanced blankly at Jiang Xiaohe.
Jiang Xiaohe calmly handed his horse over to an inn attendant, and Ji Guangjie introduced him to Liu Zhiyuan, saying, "This is Liu Zhiyuan, an exceptional disciple of the Kunlun School, whom people call the Star God Blade. This is a friend I've just made, Gao Jiuhua." Jiang Xiaohe smiled and clasped his fist, saying, "It's an honor to meet you!" Liu Zhiyuan didn't dare not assume a spirited air, so he clasped his fist and said, "I'm not worthy of the honor!" Ji Guangjie watched this with great disappointment, thinking, I've wrongly doubted this one named Gao. It turns out he really isn't Jiang Xiaohe. Thereafter, he introduced him to Jiang Zhiyao.
Jiang Zhiyao looked him over with his single eye and observed Jiang Xiaohe to be a man of skill, so he cupped his fist again and again, saying, "Let's sit down in the courtyard! It's too hot inside!" He then pulled a stool over. Ji Guangjie said, "I need to go inside for a change of clothes." Liu Zhiyuan was about to follow Ji Guangjie inside. Jiang Xiaohe hastened over and pulled him back, saying, "Brother Liu, please sit. Let's talk!" He tightened his grip. Liu Zhiyuan felt his bones ache though he dared not cry out, and said, "That's fine! All right!" He stumbled as Jiang Xiaohe jerked him back and pressed him onto a stool. It hurt so much beads of sweat large as soy beans rolled down his head.
Jiang Xiaohe said, "It's really hot out, isn't it?" Liu Zhiyuan grimaced and nodded, saying, "Yes, it is. Very hot, very hot!" Jiang Xiaohe took off his short jacket, revealing his robust, cast iron-like body. Liu Zhiyuan then said, "Brother Gao, where do you come from? What do you do?" Jiang Xiaohe said, "I'm from Chizhou in Jiangnan, and I don't have a set occupation. Sometimes I help friends do escort work, and sometimes I teach a month or two of fists. When I'm poor and have nothing to do, I'll pull together an audience wherever I happen to be and perform some martial arts tricks. I've drifted across the north and south for more than ten years, and I've never gone a day without food and wine for my person, or hay and feed for my horse. I've come here now on pilgrimage to Wudang. Little did I know that ascending the mountain, I would come upon brother Ji Guangjie fighting with some Daoist priests, where Ji Guangjie was forced off a cliff. I rescued him, and now we're both friends."
Ji Guangjie had changed into a beige jacket and pants by now and was coming outside as Jiang Xiaohe was saying this. He couldn't help his face flushing and saying agitatedly, "Brother Gao, if you don't have any important business to take care of, let me invite you to stay here a couple more days, so you can watch me go back up Mount Wudang. Not only to defeat Chu Jianxiong and all those priests, but to force all the Seven Great Sword Sages to kneel before me!"
Jiang Xiaohe smiled and said, "I'm afraid it wouldn't be that easy! Mount Wudang is mountain of the internal school's founding master. How could those priests not have knowledge of the secret martial arts passed down from the time of the Daoist master Sanfeng? As for the Seven Great Sword Sages, I may not know their names, but I don't think there's any way they could be like those lowly ones in Jianghu who carry empty renown and speak highly of themselves!" Ji Guangjie color deepened, saying angrily, "Brother Gao, can you come with me on another visit up the mountain? To watch me face off against that group of priests once more?" Saying this, he made to take up his sword and head back to the mountain to fight, but Jiang Zhiyao stood in his way, saying, "Let us talk this over first. There are many priests on the mountain, and there are only a few of us. No matter how great the hero, they would still have misgivings. No one would be willing to join in this instance of one against a multitude!"
Ji Guangjie sat down fuming, and Jiang Xiaohe poured himself a cup of tea to drink. Ji Guangjie stared angrily into space for a while before asking, "Brother Gao, where are you planning on heading now?" Jiang Xiaohe said, "I'm going to Chang'an!" Nearby, Liu Zhiyuan was startled. Ji Guangjie then asked, "What business do you have in Chang'an?" Jiang Xiaohe said, "I have a few friends there whom I haven't seen in over ten years. They owe me some debts that I plan to go and collect on!"
Liu Zhiyuan was so scared that not only did his color change, but he began to sweat profusely once more. Jiang Zhiyao seemed also to feel a bit astonished, so he asked, "I wonder, Brother Gao, what business your Chang'an friends are in?" Jiang Xiaohe smiled and said, "There are all smalltime merchants, though the debt they owe me is not small at all. This time, I will go and there is no chance I won't be repaid!" Sweating, Liu Zhiyuan started to shiver.
Ji Guangjie bit his lip and shifted his eyes back and forth, thinking very carefully through what Jiang Xiaohe had just said. After a moment, Ji Guangjie said, "Brother Gao, since you're heading to Chang'an, why don't we travel together? I have many friends there, and some family as well. Brother Gao, you must know of the old fighting master Bao Kunlun, yes? The old man is currently in Chang'an. Additionally, Little Kunlun Bao Zhilin, Long Zhiqi the Mountain-moving Tiger, Ge Zhiqiang the Iron Hegemon of the Golden Saber and Silver Whip, Lu Zhizhong, Yuan Zhixia, Jin Zhiyong, and Zhao Zhiqi, all heroes of the Kunlun School, all of them are in Chang'an. When you go, I can introduce you to them. If you still want to have a martial arts contest, you can. Other than the supreme martial arts of the old master Bao, to which you cannot compare, I think you may at least be on par with the rest of them!"
Jiang Xiaohe smiled and said, "I do want to compare our martial arts, and of course I will go find Bao Kunlun! Moreover, I think Bao Kunlun elderly, so were I to triumph over him, I couldn't be called a hero. When we fight, I'll do so empty-handed, and tell old man Bao to use his Kunlun saber. If I can't snatch away his Kunlun saber, or knock him down, I'll never call myself a hero before another person!" Ji Guangjie scoffed, "Brother Gao, you exaggerate too much with your big talk. Let's not talk of the old master Bao. I'm afraid you wouldn't even be a match for old master Bao's granddaughter, the young lady Bao Aluan!"
Upon hearing mention of Bao Aluan, Jiang Xiaohe couldn't help a wave of sadness in his heart, resentment mixed into grief, so he asked loudly, "Is the young woman Aluan also currently in Chang'an?" Ji Guangjie nodded and said, "Yes, she is!" Jiang Xiaohe quickly asked, "How do her martial arts compare to yours, Ji Guangjie?" Ji Guangjie said, "We've never fought, though I think I am slightly better. He was just an even match for the Dragon of Shu's disciple, and I was able to wound Li Fengjie." Jiang Xiaohe contemplated this silently, a limitless yearning burned in his heart, causing a pained expression to show on his face with his eyebrows drawn together. He asked, "I wonder, has the young woman been married off to someone yet?"
Ji Guangjie gave a self-satisfied smile and said, "She's been promised to someone." Jiang Xiaohe was taken aback and his look hardened, hastily asking, "To whom? Has she married or not?" Ji Guangjie abruptly slapped the table and said sternly, "What are you asking about her for? She is to be wife to me, Ji Guangjie. I will marry her in the fall!" Jiang Xiaohe was so angry he stood up suddenly and reached his finger below Ji Guangjie's ribs for a tap. Ji Guangjie turned his body away and fell onto the floor with a thud. Liu Zhiyuan and Jiang Zhiyao were so alarmed they jumped to one side, and the attendants and other guests in the courtyard were all shaken, asking, "What's going on?"
Jiang Xiaohe was so furious the color of his face was white as galvanized iron and both his hands were held tightly in fists. He wanted nothing more than to go over and kill Ji Guangjie with one fist. However, he thought over again, If I kill him fighting over a woman, it would be too obviously unheroic. Not to mention, my master instructed me not to employ the dianxue skill. It would be too improper to abuse it now in a fit of jealous hatred! At the same time, he felt in his heart a rush of sorrow, difficult to describe. He then took a few deep breaths and asked Liu Zhiyuan, "Bao Kunlun, Long Zhiqi and Bao Aluan, are they in Chang'an or not?" Liu Zhiyuan nodded and said, "They really are in Chang'an!" Jiang Xiaohe said, "Good. I'm going to look for them!" Afterwards, he walked over and gave Ji Guangjie a kick before angrily turning and leaving.
He hurried back to his own inn, paid his bill and walked through the gates of the inn leading his horse and carrying his sword. He then mounted his horse and departed. He originally wanted to press his horse hard through the night to hurry to Chang'an, but for some reason, the ache in his heart was hard to bear, so his horse did not travel quickly. After he rode north three or four miles, he saw a white horse flying after him from behind. The rider was Ji Guangjie, who hollered with sword in hand, "Jiang Xiaohe! You little one, afraid to reveal your real name. Halt! One triumphing over another using dianxue is no hero at all. Dare you compete with me by sword?"
Atop his horse, Jiang Xiaohe held his sword crosswise and turned back, smiling coldly, "You too are a descendent of the Wudang School. Must you and I fight to the death? I can kill you very easily, but I don't want to. This is because you and I have no grudge between us. The one I'm looking for is Bao Zhenfei and the Long Brothers." Ji Guangjie yelled, "With me, Ji Guangjie, here, you'd best not think about touching a hair on anyone from the Kunlun School. On your guard!"
Ji Guangjie sent a vicious slash of his sword at Jiang Xiaohe. Jiang Xiaohe blocked it and a deafening clang rang out, sending Ji Guangjie's sword away. Ji Guangjie pressed his horse, passed Jiang Xiaohe and obstructed the road. He then leaned forward and sent an attack at Jiang Xiaohe's torso with his sword. Jiang Xiaohe used lower part of his sword to strike at Ji Guangjie's upper wrist, and seized the opportunity to try to cut at Ji Guangjie's head. Ji Guangjie bounded off his horse and met the attack with his sword horizontal. Jiang Xiaohe's sword came down from high up in a Crimson Phoenix Facing the Sun move. Ji Guangjie hastily stepped back. Jiang Xiaohe leapt off his horse as well and charged straight at Ji Guangjie. Ji Guangjie sprinted north a few steps and then waited for Jiang Xiaohe to catch up to him before turning and unleashing a sword attack.
Jiang Xiaohe leaned back and swept his sword diagonally. Clang, the two swords clashed once again. Ji Guangjie soared up and swoosh, swoosh, swoosh, sent three cuts, their power ferocious, but Jiang Xiaohe dodged them all. Ji Guangjie continued to press him with chops, though Jiang Xiaohe met them with his own blade, and then took the opportunity to attack Ji Guangjie's lower body, his movements like a hawk turning, his body closely following his sword. It was but an instant, and Ji Guangjie had no way to deflect it, only able to jump up with a whoosh. Jiang Xiaohe no longer wanted to continue the attack, unaware that after Ji Guangjie dodged his sword, he would return with an angled downward slash. Jiang Xiaohe parried it with his sword and charged two steps in suddenly, sending a foot flying out, making contact with Ji Guangjie's abdomen. Ji Guangjie hit the ground bottom first with a thud. Yet he then quickly exerted his strength and stood up immediately. With a glare and both hands on his sword, he sliced at Jiang Xiaohe straight on. Jiang Xiaohe held his sword crosswise to meet it, and all they heard was clang, clang, clang, clang! Ji Guangjie realized then that Jiang Xiaohe's might was unparalleled, as both his wrists shook with pain.
Jiang Xiaohe sneered, "How come your Longmen School swordwork is so muddled? If I weren't afraid of wounding you, you would already have lost your life!" Saying this, he hardened his stare and thrust his sword at Ji Guangjie's hand, which Ji Guangjie quickly moved away from the sword. Jiang Xiaohe's sword spun in a Curling Blossom and came out from his chest in a stab. The sword went up at Ji Guangjie's heart. Ji Guangjie couldn't evade it in time, but Jiang Xiaohe attack was particularly measured, and the point of his sword made contact with just the surface of Ji Guangjie's chest before he quickly withdrew it. He then smiled coldly and said, "Go home! Dig your way into your grandfather's tomb and train another several decades!" Saying this, he flew up onto his horse and grinned coldly again, and then swung his whip and galloped off to the north.
For a while, Ji Guangjie stood holding his sword, in a daze. He looked down at his chest. He was bleeding a little and felt a bit of pain. A small half-inch slit had been cut into his short, beize shirt, and spots of red colored his shirt like a rouge. Ji Guangjie breathed a sigh, and then stamped his foot angrily before mounting his horse and galloping back. Upon seeing Liu Zhiyuan when he returned to the inn, smack, he nearly knocked Liu Zhiyuan out. He sent a second fist over, but it was blocked by Liu Zhiyuan. Ji Guangjie was about to give him a third when Jiang Zhiyao quickly grabbed hold of Ji Guangjie's hand. Ji Guangjie still wanted to kick him with his feet as he yelled furiously, "I brought you out here because you knew what Jiang Xiaohe looked like. Little did I know you would pretend not to recognize him when you saw him, letting him play me like a fool. What did you have in mind? Did you want me, Ji Guangjie, to die?" Though Liu Zhiyuan had been struck by Ji Guangjie and he too was angry, since he had no way of disputing that he had been in the wrong, he simply walked out of the room, his face flushed red.
Jiang Zhiyao persuaded Ji Guangjie to sit down on a stool, and then said, "You can't blame brother Liu for this. Just think, Jiang Xiaohe is Jiang Zhisheng's son, and he'd been but a small child. Liu Zhiyuan didn't pay much attention to him when he saw him. It's been over ten years now, how would he still recognize Jiang Xiaohe?"
Ji Guangjie flashed a sneer and said, "You don't need to come up with excuses for him. I know you all fear Jiang Xiaohe as if he were a tiger. You're afraid to recognize him when you meet him, so let's not even talk about fighting him. It's because your master was the first to be scared of him. When Bao Kunlun heard Jiang Xiaohe's name, he was so frightened, he stopped breathing! I truly find this hilarious. If it wasn't for the sake of the young lady Bao, I really wouldn't help your Kunlun School, because you are all too inept!"
Being spoken of in this way, Jiang Zhiyao couldn't do anything but remain speechless, looking about with his one eye for a while. He then said, "In-law Ji, you cannot go around saying this to other people. It will make laughingstocks of us, including you. You're not wrong, the old master Bao is scared of Jiang Xiaohe. It's because the more capable he becomes, and the older he gets, his courage in fact becomes weaker. That may also be the case for Liu Zhiyuan. He knew for certain that Jiang Xiaohe's martial arts were powerful, and that the three of us were no match for him, so he was afraid of pointing him out!"
Ji Guangjie slammed the table and jumped up, fuming, "Shut up! Your Kunlun School may fear Jiang Xiaohe, but I, the one named Ji, do not! Just now when I went after him, I wasn't able to catch up to him. Otherwise I would have taken his head with my sword and given it to you to look at!" When he said this, he felt a faint pain in the wound on his chest. This seemed to have dissipated all of his fury, and he slowly began to ease up. He furrowed his brow and stared off into space.
Jiang Zhiyao then asked, "In-law Ji, what should we do now? You can't still want to capture Jiang Xiaohe?" Ji Guangjie said, "We let him get away because Liu Zhiyuan was too scared to point him out when we saw him, so how are we supposed to capture him? He's likely now making his way north through the Tong Pass to get to Chang'an. It'd be best for us to hurry into the Jingzi Pass and go to the Dasan Pass first to see the old master. Since the old master is frightened of him, we can ask that he remain at a distance. We'll then head to Chang'an to meet and kill Jiang Xiaohe. However, we need to be swift. Otherwise, Jiang Xiaohe will surely reach Chang'an before us."
Jiang Zhiyao said, "Good! Let's pack up our things and leave immediately!"
He returned to his room and found Liu Zhiyuan sitting on the bed, seething. Jiang Zhiyao said quietly, "The kid Ji Guangjie wants us to go with him first to the Dasan Pass to see the master, and then head to Chang'an to battle Jiang Xiaohe. We're leaving now." Liu Zhiyuan scoffed, "What do you mean, battle Jiang Xiaohe? Didn't you see the blood on Ji Guangjie's chest? It must have been from a stab by Jiang Xiaohe. Jiang Xiaohe didn't have it in mind to harm his life. Otherwise, he would have lost his head last night!" Jiang Zhiyao couldn't help being so scared his expression turned grave.
Liu Zhiyuan sighed, "We have nothing to blame but our master conducting himself too fiercely throughout his life, killing too many people to the extent that he's created this adversary. It'll be hard to speak of the future. Not only is it over for our entire Kunlun School, but with the master as old as he is, I'm afraid he'll meet with an unhappy end!" Liu Zhiyuan was so worried, he was on the verge of tears. Jiang Zhiyao pressed him, "Hurry and pack up your things, and we'll rush back to Dasan Pass. Just now, Ji Guangjie did not speak incorrectly. He said that we should invite the master to stay away. I don't think it's very safe at Lu Zhizhong's place. It's best if we have the old man escape into Northern Sichuan." Liu Zhiyuan said, "But the Xia of Langzhong is in Northern Sichuan!" The two men spoke and put their things in order. By now, Ji Guangjie had already settled their bill and ordered the attendant to prepare all three of their horses. He stood in the courtyard and called out, "Pack up! Let's go!" Liu Zhiyuan and Jiang Zhiyao clasped their baggage under their arms and left their room. They tied them on the backs of their horses, and then they all left the inn together, mounted their horses and headed north.
Ji Guangjie was anxious on the road, so much so that he felt Liu Zhiyuan was riding too slowly. He yelled at him impatiently, and at times he wanted to draw his sword and force Liu Zhiyuan to go faster. However, Liu Zhiyuan was afraid that Jiang Xiaohe had not gone far, and were they to catch up to him, there would occur yet another fierce battle. Of course, Jiang Xiaohe wouldn't do anything to him, but if he and Ji Guangjie began to fight and Ji Guangjie was unable to keep up, he wouldn't be able to stand by and watch with arms folded. Thus, even with Ji Guangjie rushing him and yelling at him, he never dared to press his horse to ride faster.
Unexpectedly, after traveling only four or five miles of road, four horses flew their way from the rear. When he heard the sound of horses' hooves behind him, Ji Guangjie quickly turned back to look. He looked at the four men riding atop the horses, and saw two were officers, and two were wearing plain clothes. The night in Zhengyang county when Ji Guangjie went unsuccessfully to the Gu house to steal silver for disaster relief, he fought with the guards there for a while. He had seen the faces of two of them under the light of fire, and inquired of them their names. One was called Yang Gongjiu the Xia of Ruzhou, and the other was called Liu Ying the Speckle-faced Leopard. When he saw that both of them had come now along with two officers, he quickly reined his horse up and drew his sword from beside his saddle, saying to the two men Jiang and Liu, "Be careful! These two men are guards at the farmstead of Millions Gu. Their martial arts are both quite good."
Yang Gongjiu and the other had by now galloped up to them, all with their sabers drawn. Yang Gongjiu pointed with his saber and said, "Ji Guangjie! Throw down your sword and get off your horse so that we can lock you up and take you to court!" Ji Guangjie joked, "Lock me up? Take me to court?" As he said this, he suddenly struck preemptively, pressing his horse on and swinging his sword at Yang Gongjiu for a chop. Yang Gongjiu hastily met it with his saber, as Liu Ying the Speckle-faced Leopard brandished his saber to wound Ji Guangjie. The three men battled on horseback for several exchanges before jumping off their horses to fight in closer quarters.
Seeing that officers had come as well, Liu Zhiyuan and Jiang Zhiyao dared not get involved. Ji Guangjie displayed his swordwork and fought against Yang Gongjiu and Liu Ying for more than ten exchanges before he cut down Liu Ying with his sword. He looked back and saw that Liu Zhiyuan and Jiang Zhiyao had evaded to place far off. He grew furious and stopped fighting with Yang Gongjiu, snatching his horse up and fleeing. When he rode the distance of a mile, he turned back to see in the distance that Yang Gongjiu and the two officials had Liu Zhiyuan and Jiang Zhiyao surrounded, and after a moment, he saw them being taken away in chains.
Seeing the two men Liu and Jiang being taken to court in place of him, he smiled coldly and felt cheerful. He didn't race back to rescue them, instead pressing his horse to a gallop and flying straight toward the Jingzi Pass. Along the way, he inquired about the route west, and then went through the Jingzi Pass, across Mount Shang and into the Qin Mountains, riding through night after night. Dust roiled the entire way, making the moon and stars hazy, and before the third day, he arrived at the Dasan Pass. He and his horse were now truly exhausted, and upon entering the front hall of the Kunlun Security Office, he tossed aside his horsewhip and collapsed into a couch to rest.
Lu Zhizhong had been in the front hall, and when he saw Ji Guangjie suddenly arriving here by himself, he was bewildered. He waited until Ji caught his breath before he approached and asked, "In-law Ji, where did you come from? Did you find Jiang Xiaohe? Why haven't Liu Zhiyuan and Jiang Zhiyao come?" Ji Guangjie jumped off the couch and said nothing except to ask, "In which room are the old master and the young lady?" Lu Zhizhong said, "They're staying in the rear area." Ji Guangjie hurriedly left the front hall and sprinted into the back in two or three bounds. When he came to the door of the rear courtyard, he saw the young lady Aluan, wearing a light red silk shirt and holding a Kunlun saber in her hand. She was performing the Chasing Wind, Leaping Lightning and Subduing Tigers, Felling Dragons moves. Ji Guangjie raised his eyebrows and laughed, saying, "Miss, I found Jiang Xiaohe on Mount Wudang. The two of us had a great battle of over four hundred exchanges. If he hadn't jumped into the stream and swam away, I could have brought you his head today for you to chop at for fun." Aluan withdrew her saber stance, her expression turning. Ji Guangjie snickered as he gazed upon his bride-to-be.
The old master Bao came out of a room with his back bared, and upon seeing what looked like the unmarried, young couple flirting, he became a little unhappy. However, he was puzzled at seeing Ji Guangjie's travel-worn face with mud and sweat all over his body, saying, "You met with Jiang Xiaohe?" When he said the words Jiang Xiaohe, his aged face flashed deathly pale.
Ji Guangjie said, "When I crossed through the Hangu Pass, I posted notices everywhere proclaiming to capture Jiang Xiaohe, but he evaded me wherever I went. I encountered him one day on a street in the north of Gucheng county, calling himself Gao with the name Jiuhua. He was very amiable toward me and grew closer to me, though I was unaware of the malice he was harboring in his heart. The most hateful was Liu Zhiyuan! He recognized Jiang Xiaohe but didn't tell me, allowing me very nearly to fall into Jiang Xiaohe's trap. Luckily, I spotted a hole in Jiang Xiaohe's story and drove him onto Mount Wudang. Jiang Xiaohe called on the many Daoist priests there to help him battle the one of me. I fought through three or four hundred exchanges with them, and then forced Jiang Xiaohe to the edge of a cliff. I gave him a cut, and he jumped off the cliff, escaping by swimming along the stream. I myself suffered a minor injury on my chest... Afterward, I came down the mountain and demanded answers from Liu Zhiyuan, and we got into an argument. Before we were fifty miles out from Gucheng county, he and Jiang Zhiyao deserted me and headed elsewhere. When I was fighting with Jiang Xiaohe, he boasted that he was going to Chang'an to find the old master and take vengeance for his father. I was afraid the old master would be at a disadvantage, so night after night, I rushed back to bring word. I would like to ask the old master to find an isolated far off county and hide there for some time. Aluan and I, as huband and wife, we will go to Chang'an to face Jiang Xiaohe."
At this point, Lu Zhizhong had followed him into the courtyard and upon hearing Ji Guangjie's lies, he couldn't help his mood changing. The old master's entire body was shaking as he laughed coldly, "How could there be anywhere for me to hide? Unless it's to hide in a tomb! Now that matters have come before me, there's nothing left to say. All that remains is for me to go to Chang'an and await him. When he comes, I'll give my aged life over to him!" Saying this, he hardened his look and called for Lu Zhizhong to prepare his horse. The old master was to travel to Chang'an immediately. The young lady Aluan stopped her grandfather and said, "Granddaddy, you mustn't go see him. Let me go. When I see him, not only must I kill him, but I have some things I have to say to him before I kill him. I need to ask him—!" As she said this, she screwed her beautiful face up and became angry. Tears flowed forth, and she stamped her foot as she wept, "Granddaddy, don't try to stop me! I'm going! I'll go see him by myself! I'm leaving now!"
Saying this, Aluan ran out of the courtyard carrying her saber, to prepare her own horse. Ji Guangjie rushed after her and pulled back on Aluan's arm. Aluan returned with a swipe of her saber, intending to wound her husband-to-be. Ji Guangjie jumped backward to dodge her saber. Aluan's pretty eyes were open wide as, swoosh, she swung her sword down a second time for a slice. Ji Guangjie ducked down and bounded to the left, while at the same time leaning forward with his arm stretched out in an attempt to grab Aluan's wrist and take her saber from her. However, Aluan brandished her saber viciously as she thought, First I'll kill Ji Guangjie, and then I'll kill Jiang Xiaohe. By now, Lu Zhizhong had taken up a saber and hurried over, snaring Aluan's saber. Old master Bao bellowed, "Aluan, stop! He is to be your husband!" Hearing her grandfather's words, Aluan dropped her saber and went back inside, crying with both her hands covering her face.
The old master Bao chuckled riotously, saying to Lu Zhizhong, "Look, Zhizhong. I have a granddaughter and grandson-in-law, both so skilled in the martial arts. How could I truly fear just the one Jiang Xiaohe?" Lu Zhizhong pondered a moment and then said, "How about this? I ask the master to stay here, and send Ji Guangjie to Chang'an to discuss with my brother Ge how best to deal with this. I'll be here as well. In the case that Jiang Xiaohe comes here, I will go to meet him."
After nearly being killed by his bride-to-be, Ji Guangjie's face was completely red as he stood nearby, staring silently into space. By the time he heard Lu Zhizhong's words, he came a couple steps closer, waving his hand and saying, "That's no good! I'm not afraid of Jiang Xiaohe's open attacks, only that he harms people with dark tricks. When I was fighting with Jiang Xiaohe, I noticed that his swordwork was not as good as mine, but leaping and jumping skills were certainly stronger than my own. On the road, I'd also heard people saying that Jiang Xiaohe was a flying robber and that his nightwalking abilities are especially good. This place is not far from Chang'an. If he found out that the old master was staying here, he would come in the middle of the night to do harm. How do we guard against that? The old master has spent a lifetime crossing the length and breadth Jianghu. Were he to suffer a dark plot, would that not be too great a wrong? So I think the old master should go somewhere no one knows about to hide for some time. I will go to Chang'an with Aluan to meet him. We need only see him, and the two of us, husband and wife, will surely be able to kill him!" Hearing of Jiang Xiaohe's adeptness in nightwalking abilities, the old master couldn't help feeling his hairs stand up on end.
Lu Zhizhong considered this for a while, and then said, "I think we should follow our in-law Ji's suggestion! I can go with the master to He Tiesong's home in the Shanyin Valley of Luoyang county. In years past, the master saved the life of He Tiesong, and in the twenty years since, he has lived secluded in the mountains, never coming out into the world again. That place of his is extremely isolated, not to mention that his home is quite thriving. I think the master and I should go and stay there for two or three months without telling anyone else. Even if Jiang Xiaohe were an immortal, he would have no way of finding it."
Old master Bao suddenly recalled the old friend with whom he hadn't corresponded in ten years, and began to change his thinking, but he still shook his head, saying, "I cannot go! If I do and all my disciples are hurt or killed by Jiang Xiaohe, I may remain alive, but how will I be able to face them?" Nearby, Ji Guangjie said, "Once the old master leaves, things will be more easily handled. Before I fought with Jiang Xiaohe on Mount Wudang, he told me that he wasn't out to eliminate the Kunlun School, just that he wanted to...kill the old master and the Long Brothers!"
The old master gave a long sigh and thought back to ten years ago, in the mountains north of Zhenba, when he'd led the Long Brothers after Jiang Zhisheng. That tragic scene was still fresh in his mind! Jiang Zhisheng had already abandoned his wife and children, running for his life. Why did he have to chase him down and kill him? It was a bit too ruthless! Now, it was a matter of course that Jiang Xiaohe would come to take revenge. Thus, the old master lamented for a moment, his eyes growing moist, and then said, "I suppose we'll do it this way! I'll find a place to conceal myself with Lu Zhizhong, and Ji Guangjie, you're to go quickly to Chang'an to see Long Zhiqi and tell him to hurry back to Ziyang and take his brother and Ge Zhiqiang into hiding as well. Afterward, you must instruct those disciples and their disciples that no matter who they are, if they were to encounter Jiang Xiaohe, none may recklessly fight him. Only when they absolutely must may they battle to the death. Also, there is Li Zhenxia of Huazhou. He's an old friend of mine as well, his martial arts no weaker than mine. We can ask his men to come help too." When he finished, he lowered his head in silence, as if this old fighting master had felt himself arrive at the end of the road and was now devoid of courage.
Ji Guangjie then added, "However, when I go to Chang'an to face Jiang Xiaohe in combat, though I'm confident in my certain triumph, I'm afraid that Li Fengjie might find his way there to join the battle. If he helps out Jiang Xiaohe, this could turn out to be problematic. It's not that I think little of the old master's disciples, but I feel Ge Zhiqiang and the others are all unfit for this task. You must have the young lady Luan come with me. With her help, I know I can do it!"
Old master Bao said, "Naturally, I'd like to tell her to come with you, but..." The old master sat deep in thought for a moment before he said sternly, "You likely already know this, but though my Bao household depends upon Jianghu to make our living, we are a house of propriety. With my granddaughter as yet unmarried to you, I certainly cannot have the two of you sharing the road and a room at night. It would dishonor our family's principles. So how about this? Today, we'll have the two of you kneel in a wedding hall here and get married. Tomorrow, I'll go to Luoyang, and you two will go to Chang'an as husband and wife!" Upon hearing this, Ji Guangjie was struck in his chest. He was so happy he almost laughed, and immediately nodded in agreement. Old master Bao ordered Lu Zhizhong to quickly prepare a bridal chamber and a wedding hall, and then he turned and went into the inner courtyard.
At this time, Aluan's heart was filled with bitterness and grief as she sat in her room and wiped her tears away. The old master Bao entered and exhorted his granddaughter, "Don't feel bad for my sake. The blame is in me, handling matters too brutishly in years past, and now I'm reaping the vengeance I've sown, involving my descendants in the humiliation by others! But though Jiang Xiaohe is closing in to kill me, I still respect him. He is a good young man! I've lived more than seventy years and I've not seen a second man as determined and ambitious as him, a man of integrity and resolve! Tomorrow, I'm going to my old friend He Tiesong's place in the Shanyin Valley in Luoyang to hide out for some time. If I can survive with this old life of mine, then the two of us, grandfather and granddaughter, can meet again. If I cannot escape this and I die by Jiang Xiaohe's hand, you must not see it as an injustice, because I admire him!"
Crying, Aluan stood up and tugged on her grandfather, saying, "I'm coming with granddaddy!" The old master waved his hand and said, "You mustn't come with me. I'm having only Lu Zhizhong come with me, and that'll be enough. You must go to Chang'an to help Ji Guangjie face Jiang Xiaohe and protect your uncle Ge and the others. For the purpose of making it more convenient for you to travel together, I've having you kneel in a wedding hall with Ji Guangjie to get married. From now on, it'll be right and proper—" When the young lady Aluan heard her grandfather say this, her color drained in shock, and quickly shook her head, saying, "No—" The old master waved his hand to stop his granddaughter and said, "No matter what you must do what I say! To finish taking care of your marriage quickly will put me at ease so that I can die content!"
When he finished, the old fighting master went outside to look for Lu Zhizhong, to see how the adornment was going. When he arrived in the outer courtyard, he saw several of the security office attendants in a busy flurry. Ji Guangjie was especially happy. He had hastened here through the night and had yet to take a rest, but he was occupied with putting things in order as well. Lu Zhizhong didn't have a family here, but it was unacceptable for no womenfolk to be involved in matters of marriage, so he invited to help him here, the wives of a few minor officials with whom he was familiar from day to day, and the wives of several of the attendants.
He left the decorations for the bridal chamber to the women, and they also brought from their homes a red, embroidered dress, a blue phoenix jacket, as well as a phoenix crown, phoenix hairpins, a veil, and other items to dress Aluan in. At this moment, Aluan could do nothing but let others jostle her around. The women nearby wished her good tidings and spoke with accommodating words, but Aluan's tears fell like rain, an unbearable sorrow in her heart. The women comforted her, saying, "Don't cry, young miss! It's such a joyous occasion! Yet when a woman crosses the threshold, she must cry a little, because she can't stand to leave her mom and dad. But your mom and dad aren't here right now, not to mention you're getting married away from home, so what do you have to be sad about? Now stop crying. If your young groom sees your eyes are red, he'll be heartbroken!"
Aluan was so mad she jumped up and threw the dressing mirror onto the floor, shattering it into pieces. She then snapped the wooden comb into two and tossed her jacket and dress down as well. She rended viciously at the new bride's bun that had been brushed for her into dishevelment, and then she laid on the bed and choked with sobs. The women were so scared they scattered from the room, and a commotion formed in the inner courtyard. The old master found out about it. Sighing deeply, he entered the room and said, "Aluan, what's the matter? What's made you so angry? Come, get up! Don't make things difficult for your poor granddaddy!"
His sad, gentle voice reached Aluan's ear and she couldn't help her warm tears flowing again. She felt a bit of regret in her heart, so she swallowed her pain and looked up at him, saying, "It's nothing! I'm feeling anxious and I didn't want them bothering me!" Old master Bao said, "There's nothing to be done about that. A wedding happens only once in a woman's entire life. It's a bother, but you must endure it. This hasty wedding now, if things had not been forced to this point, I would not have wanted it to be this way. However, though we've said not to make it too elaborate, we cannot be negligent of the rules of propriety. You must make yourself look like a new bride. We cannot be like those less than third-rate in Jianghu, who don't even wear bright red clothes when they marry their husbands!" The old master was not only sad, but he was clearly angry as well. Ji Guangjie had been standing in the outer courtyard, peeking and listening inside in secret.
After a moment, the old master Bao came outside. He bowed to the startled womenfolk with hands clasped and apologized, imploring them to dress and make Aluan up anew. These women were all upset, but there was nothing they could do but to go back inside and rebrush Aluan's hair and repowder her. However, everyone was extremely quiet, not daring to say even one word to this new bride.
Old master Bao came into the room again for a look and saw Aluan sitting with her head down, obediently letting the others do her up once more. At this, the old master was able to relax a little, but he was still worried, as he walked into the front courtyard with his two dense, snow-white eyebrows tightly knit and his continuous sighs. Ji Guangjie, on the other hand, was still elated, walking all about the entire courtyard, where he saw that of the three rooms of eastern hall, two were lit while one was dark, as it was now being decorated as a bridal chamber. The unlit room was to be the bridal chamber, with its wooden bed arranged with a newly bought red satin blanket and mandarin duck pillows. On the walls and two hinged doors were posted red happiness characters, and the windows were draped with shades of red cloth. Ji Guangjie was truly bursting with joy and could not wait for night to arrive.
The northern hall was to be the wedding hall, in the middle of which were set up ancestral tablets. Incense and candles were arranged and red flowers were hung. Even the table drapes were embroidered with bright red peonies. On the sides and in the courtyard were placed many tables and stools, ready for guests to sit. The hectic sound of knives rang out from the kitchen, as two or three of the office's attendants had become cooks for now, busy inside making food.
Shortly, Lu Zhizhong came in from outside. He'd found a local man selling second-hand clothes and was bringing back a large bundle. Inside was an entire official uniform with a hat and boots. Ji Guangjie put them on and found the size to be just about right. Wearing a blue, patchless, cotton official's robe, a knobless red-tassel hat, a pair of blue official's boots that didn't fit quite right, and rocking a fan he'd found, he strut about, often glancing over at the inner courtyard. It was about four in the afternoon when local minor officials, merchants, and security escorts, who had all run into Lu Zhizhong and admired the reputation of the old fighting master, arrived one after the other to present gifts and offer their congratulations.
Lu Zhizhong and a few of the security escorts that served under him had all changed into tidy formal clothes and received the guests for Ji Guangjie one by one. Old master Bao hadn't ever worn a formal robe very many times. Presently he was wearing a formal robe of summer material that had been purchased, but his body was too tall and too fat, making the robe appear both tight and short. He rocked a large, three-foot long chicken-feather fan, and when he met with guests, he clasped his hand, carrying a smile on his face never before seen. Yet, as only Lu Zhizhong could tell, his master's smile was forced. His master's expression was often that of fear and worry. Moreover, whenever a wedding guest arrived who was young, the old master would look at him carefully and pull Lu Zhizhong aside to ask what the man's name was and what he did in this town for a living. It was as if in his mind he was still afraid of someone with secretive behavior and ill intentions arriving, mixed in with the wedding guests.
Ji Guangjie face, however, was one of true elation. He spoke with a few of the local security men raucously. He talked first about lifetime feats of his grandfather the Xia of Longmen, and then he talked about his own various proud deeds since his arrival upon Jianghu. Afterwards, he spoke of this last time in Henan, about how he wrote "Capture Jiang Xiaohe" everywhere, and how Jiang Xiaohe never dared to attack him head-on. He talked then about how he drove Jiang Xiaohe onto Mount Wudang, and how if Jiang Xiaohe hadn't jumped into a stream and escaped by swimming away, he would surely have given his life under Ji Guangjie's sword. The people around him heard the bridegroom speaking in such spirits and believed the things he said to be real, since it was not unusual enough to think that the grandson of the Xia of Longmen would be able to defeat a Jianghu no-name like Jiang Xiaohe.
However, Lu Zhizhong listened from nearby and held a little doubt in his mind, feeling Ji Guangjie's words not to be the most reliable, and at the same time thinking it even more suspicious that neither Liu Zhiyuan nor Jiang Zhiyao had returned. But because the current matter was pressing, he had no spare time to consider and inquire about it. At the moment, the old fighting master was sitting by himself in a far corner, his long eyebrows locked tightly together, as if in a deep worry, not listening to any of what Ji Guangjie was saying.
After a stretch, it came time for the kneeling ceremony. Ji Guangjie put on his red-tassel hat, and two of the female guests supported Aluan as she emerged from the inner courtyard, entering the wedding hall slowly. The young lady Aluan was currently covered by a veil of red cloth, so it was hard to see if she was happy or sad, but there were droplets of what looked like water, dripping from under her veil onto her embroidered dress and her flowered shoes. A ritesmaster stood by a called out in a loud voice the various rites: the homage to Heaven and Earth, the homage to the ancestors, and the homage to the groom's father and mother. Each rite was held, one by one, until Ji Guangjie and Aluan had both kowtowed numerous times. Afterwards, firecrackers were lit, and many beggars ran into the courtyard, taking turns singing songs of happiness. The guests sat down in succession and drank and played finger-guessing games. The voices of people all at once clamored into even more of a lively bustle.
The young lady Aluan had already been led into the bridal chamber, and old master Bao had also retired into a quiet room to rest. The guests could only rely on Lu Zhizhong to tend to them, as Ji Guangjie had received many wedding toasts, his head feeling dizzy and his heart impulsive. He couldn't help calling on everyone to leave so he could go into the bridal chamber.
However as the day turned gradually into night, after finishing their food and drink, some of the guests decided to stay and gamble. Lu Zhizhong delegated the matter to a man named Liang who had also opened a security office here, saying frankly, "Why did my master want to give his granddaughter a speedy wedding? It was because he wanted them quickly married, so they could travel to Chang'an together to meet our enemy Jiang Xiaohe in battle. The old master is setting off for elsewhere tomorrow as well to try to find a way to deal with this same matter. So though it is a time of celebration right now, there is a layer of anxiety in each of our hearts. It's true that everyone coming to offer their congratulations is a kindness, but if they were to disturb the three of them so that they don't sleep well tonight, they won't be able to depart tomorrow." The one named Liang nodded and said, "All right, I know how to solve this!" Thus he went over to them and invited the guests to continue their gambling over at his security office.
After the guests left one after another, Lu Zhizhong ordered the main gate closed and instructed three of the security escorts who lived here that they were not permitted to shout bawdy jokes into the bridal chamber. It was now already the second watch, and the old master Bao was sleeping in the front hall. Other than the two red candles burning in the wedding hall, the only other bit of dim light floated through the new red cloth shades. This was because a longevity lamp had been lit inside, which was not ordinarily permitted to be extinguished on this night.
Ji Guangjie had long already taken off the official's clothes and shoes, and changed into a nice set of light silk clothes, white socks and green-black shoes. He was full of joy and his blood flowed through his body with increased speed. He had never felt the nervous happiness that he felt now ever before. He made his footsteps heavy, yet calm and deliberate, to express that the new groom was arriving and to let Aluan know this inside the room. However, as he walked before the window, the longevity lamp in the bridal chamber suddenly went out. Ji Guangjie was taken aback, but he laughed and thought, She's a xia woman who traverses Jianghu, and it isn't as if we've never met. We've even gone to Weinan together to fight Li Fengjie! How come she's become bashful all of a sudden?
He thought this both funny and even more so, he thought it adorable. He craftily and lightly coughed, and then went inside. He felt it dark inside, and when he ran into a heavy chair, he almost stumbled over. Ji Guangjie couldn't help but laugh, saying quietly, "This is what they call teasing the groom!" He proceeded another couple steps when he heard an abrupt clang as water splashed onto him! There was a large copper basin on the floor that Ji Guangjie stepped on and flipped, drenching the clothes, socks and shoes that Ji Guangjie had just changed into. He couldn't help feeling irritated, but soon again he smiled.
He went forward to push open the door, but found it was closed very tightly from the inside. Ji Guangjie tapped gently on the door with his finger, saying, "Open up! I'm here!" There was no reply from within. Ji Guangjie then knocked lightly on the door a couple times with his fist, and addressed the other side of the door, "Open the door! Don't be shy! My new bride!" There was still no response from inside. Ji Guangjie laughed and pushed at the door, saying, "Stop playing! It's late. This is a major event in a person's life!" The bride inside said sternly, "Go away! Don't come into my room! Go! I dare you to push the door again!" Ji Guangjie laughed on this side of the door, "What a difficult bride I have! Who's ever heard of one who tells her groom to go away? My dear wife Aluan, tonight we are a match made by the heavens—" The voice inside said forcefully, "Go away!" Ji Guangjie laughed even harder and stopped pushing at the door. He stood in thought for a moment, and then squatted down to gently unhinge the door. He did so shortly and the two doors fell down with a clatter. The two benches propped up behind the door fell as well, almost knocking Ji Guangjie over. Ji Guangjie quickly pushed the doors aside and, whoosh, leapt into the room, only to be met with a flash of cold light. Startled, Ji Guangjie hurriedly dodged away and heard a clack as the bride's saber missed the groom and cut into a chair. Ji Guangjie said, "Good! Let's compare our martial arts first, and then we'll consummate the marriage!"
He took hold of Aluan's wrist to try to grab the Kunlun saber away, but Aluan gave him a kick, striking his lower abdomen. Ji Guangjie backed up a step and hit his head on the cabinet as Aluan came at him viciously with a cut. Ji Guangjie bent down and rolled at Aluan's feet, hoping to wrap his arms around them, but Aluan kicked him in his left eye. Ji Guangjie nearly cried out in pain, but he hurried rolled away as Aluan turned for a thrust of her saber. Ji Guangjie quickly leapt out of the room. His shoulder received a heavy blow from the back of the saber, and his lower back suffered a kick, as he and a bench came tumbling out of the room. He immediately got up, and panting, he asked into the room furiously, "Aluan! What do you mean by this? Are you trying to take my life? I'm your husband. Your granddad gave you to me in marriage!" Inside the room, Aluan brandished the saber and stamped her foot, crying, "Go away! Go away! I don't acknowledge you!"
Ji Guangjie was angry, but he turned up a smile again. He thought, She has always been the daughter of a security escort and is ordinarily proud to the extreme. If I do not subdue her with my martial skill, she will never be willing to be my wife. Fine! We'll fight first, and then will come conjugal love. Thus, he went into a side room to retrieve a sword and he lit a lamp. He returned to the bridal chamber with the lamp, but found that the door had been shut up tightly once more. Ji Guangjie put the lamp on the ground and thought again to unhinge the door, but, afraid some sort of ambush might be hidden inside, he stood blankly, carrying his sword, and bent his ear toward the room. He heard his bride inside sobbing bitterly. Ji Guangjie couldn't help feeling a little discouraged and thought to himself, What's going on here?
He was staring into space when he noticed someone coming in from the courtyard. Ji Guangjie saw that it was Lu Zhizhong. That they had just been fighting, that Aluan was now crying in her room, Lu Zhizhong seemed to know about it all. He waved his hand at Ji Guangjie and said, with a face full of concern, "In-law Ji! Please be patient! The young lady's temper has never been good. Though this is a joyous occasion, she is bearing much pain in her heart right now. Tomorrow, the two of them, grandfather and granddaughter, will separate. Her granddad is advanced in age and will be calling upon a friend and hiding in the mountains. She is naturally not at ease. Don't be angry with her today, in-law Ji. In the days to come, she will become better on her own. Before Jiang Xiaohe is defeated and the two of them can reunite peacefully, she cannot be happy. There's nothing to be done about this, except to ask in-law Ji to be a little patient!"
Ji Guangjie nodded and knit his two eyebrows, saying to Lu Zhizhong, "That is no matter. It's just that..." He was about to say that his bride should not have used her saber, and that when she slashed at him, she did so very viciously. But then, he felt himself a bit too pathetic, so he said, "Uncle Lu, go to sleep! You needn't worry about us. I will not surely not fight with her. I understand. I know she is very anxious!" Lu Zhizhong gave Ji Guangjie another look and saw his very fine silk clothes were once again dirty and wet. His hair was unkempt, and his left eye was bruised like an apricot. Lu Zhizhong dared not laugh, nor did he dare ask. He just turned and left.
Ji Guangjie stood in a daze again for a while longer, and then he went in front of the door to bridal chamber and gave it a push. He no longer heard any cursing from his bride inside, but just her continued sobbing, Ji Guangjie stood before the door and said, "Aluan, don't be sad. I'm not angry with you. Your marrying me was your granddad's idea. I had not requested it of the Bao family. Now that we've knelt in the wedding hall, the marriage is already set. That you don't want me to enter the bridal chamber tonight, that's not important! I know it's because your Bao family has been forced by Jiang Xiaohe into a corner, and you're very sad. I can forgive you for feeling unhappy. However, you must believe me. I guarantee you that I'll kill Jiang Xiaohe within ten days. You'll see! That's all I have to say to you right now!"
Inside the room, Aluan seemed to become even sadder, sobbing loudly and bitterly again. Ji Guangjie was very upset and heaved a deep sigh. He put a few of the chairs outside together and closed the outer door. He placed the sword by his side and blew out the lamp. He stewed for a bit, and then, his body tired and his mind discouraged, he laid on the chairs and fell into a deep sleep. This was how he spent the night of his wedding festivities.
Early next morning, Ji Guangjie's expression was not one of joy. The door to the bridal chamber opened and Aluan came out, her two eyes red and swollen from crying, still wearing red satin. Without so much as a glance at Ji Guangjie, she returned to the inner courtyard. Ji Guangjie felt very discontented. A clueless young attendant smiled at Ji Guangjie and said, "In-law Ji, what was all that commotion coming from the room last night? I heard a faint crashing sound. In-law Ji, you must have had a great time." Then, he pointed at Ji Guangjie's left eye and said, "How did you get that black eye? Did you hurt it? Let me go out and buy you a bottle of eye medicine!" Ji Guangjie was furious and, crack, punched the young attendant, who yelped in pain. At this time, Lu Zhizhong came over and asked nicely, "The old master is asking when the in-law Ji plans on setting off today. So that he can tell the young lady to get ready." Ji Guangjie said, "We're leaving right now. I wouldn't mind it if I could meet with Jiang Xiaohe immediately. Either he dies or I do!"
Lu Zhizhong hurried back to inform his master. Ji Guangjie ordered his horse prepared as he himself went inside to put his things together. After a while, he had put his baggage together and over on the other side, Aluan had finished her preparations as well. Aluan stood in the courtyard with her head hung, still wearing her red satin clothes. Upon seeing her elegant features, he forgot all about his anger from last night, and the kicks and blows he'd received, and came out of his room, smiling.
The old master Bao looked over his granddaughter, and then looked over his grandson-in-law. He sighed regretfully and carefully instructed them, "All right! I'm counting on the two of you to help me stop my enemy. Weapons wound easily, so I have to say some inauspicious things as it will be difficult for you to avoid any kind of mistake. I am ill at ease, but there's nothing to be done about your misfortunate of being my granddaughter and her husband. I'm going to visit an old friend's place to hide for the time being, so after you depart, I will leave as well. As old as I am now, I may not reach there. Perhaps I'll die en route..." When he said this, he saw tears flowing from his granddaughter. Ji Guangjie said haughtily, "Old master, why must you speak such disheartening words! I think that Jiang Xiaohe might have already reached Chang'an by now. When we get there, we'll be able to kill him. Old master, you are only going west this time but to have a pleasurable trip. There's no need to be sorrowful, nor is there need to worry about us!"
The old fighting master Bao gave a pained smile, and then pulled two letters from his shirt, saying, "Take these two letters to Chang'an with you. Give one of them to Ge Zhiqiang. For the other one, wait until it is absolutely necessary, when you are sure you cannot defeat Jiang Xiaohe, then give it to him." When he finished, he handed them over to Ji Guangjie. Ji Guangjie took them into his hand and noticed that the letter to Ge Zhiqiang was especially thick, as if many sheets of paper were folded inside. Both letters were sealed very tightly. He put them on his person, and then said to the old master, "Old master, you need not give any further instruction. I can handle any situation. We'll set off now, old master! Farewell!" Dripping tears, Aluan saluted her grandfather once more. Ji Guangjie walked boldly out the door with Aluan following him out.
Two horses stood ready outside the gates of the security office. Aluan mounted her red horse first, and then gazed over at the old master, Lu Zhizhong, and the others who were seeing them off. Tears flowed as she said, "Granddaddy and uncle Lu, please go back inside!" Ji Guangjie hung his sword next to his saddle, mounted his horse nimbly, and then clasped his fist, laughing, "All of you go back inside. Farewell! Farewell!" Many people stood nearby, all envying the newly-married, valiant husband and wife. The two horses headed to the north, seen off under the gaze of many. Aluan continued looking back from atop her horse, shedding tears and saying, "Granddaddy! Please, go back inside!" With Ji Guangjie's horse in front, they rode farther and farther away. She had no choice but to follow as the image of her old grandfather disappeared behind her.