The Crane Startles Kunlun, Chapter 19, Part 2

The Crane Startles Kunlun, Chapter 19, Part 2.
from Wang Dulu's He Jing Kunlun.


Jiang Xiaohe, however, kept his body upright and landed on his feet with not even a scratch. He looked up furiously and saw Chen Jianfei like an ape, hurriedly rushing up the summit while holding onto the chain. Jiang Xiaohe yelled, “You sought to do me harm!” As he said this, he reached into his breast, pulled out the metal tile and flung it up with all his might. He heard a scream as Chen Jianfei fell all the way down onto the ground. The two younger Daoists who were turned back watching also cried out and ran up the summit like two small monkeys.

Jiang Xiaohe looked down and saw that Chen Jianfei had fallen to near death, his head bleeding profusely. The metal tile had fallen down as well, landing not far from him. At that moment he heard the urgent droning of a bell from the summit. Jiang Xiaohe fumed, “They will not be reasonable now! I have wounded one of the Seven Great Sword Sages. Would they be able to let that go?” Thereafter, Jiang Xiaohe picked up the tile and again tucked it in his breast. He took hold of the chain and flew straight up like a bounding tiger, and before long he nearly reached the mountain peak.

The bell sounds grew increasingly insistent and loud as it echoed across the mountain like a flood rolling in or a typhoon about to hit. Jiang Xiaohe sprung up onto the summit and saw a solid throng of thirty or forty Daoist priests, each of them wearing a short Daoist robe with sleeves rolled-up and holding a sword in his hand. The glimmer of their blades flashed amid the mist like countless silver snakes. As soon as Jiang Xiaohe took one barefoot step onto the rocky surface of the summit, he was met with three Daoists approaching him, brandishing their swords. One of them was a priest with ashen temples whom Jiang Xiaohe recognized: It was Chu Jianxiong. When Ji Guangjie had come here previously, he had been forced off a cliff by him. It was said that though he was one of the younger generation of the Seven Great Sword Sages, his martial arts were considered to be second.

Chu Jianxiong approached first and brandished his sword with a whoosh. The wind blew his gray temple hairs aflutter and glared angrily with his eyes. He asked, “Are you Jiang Xiaohe? How dare you come to the place of the founder of the Wudang School and stir up trouble? How dare you kill my disciple-brother?” Jiang Xiaohe waved his hand and said, “Please do not be unreasonable!” Before he could finish speaking, Chu Jianxiong hacked at him with his sword. Jiang Xiaohe hurriedly dodged to the right. A sword then came to the right and Jiang Xiaohe ducked to the left. Another sword sliced from the left, but there was nowhere to go behind him. The three swords were like lightning as they came at him together. Jiang Xiaohe growled and leapt upward, flying over the top of Chu Jianxiong’s shoulders.

Chu Jianxiong quickly turned around and brandished his sword. Jiang Xiaohe rushed toward the crowd of Daoists. The crowd was a mess of swinging blades that trapped Jiang Xiaohe in their midst. Jiang Xiaohe grabbed one of the Daoists and with a dart of his hand, stole his sword away. He then swung it, swoosh, swoosh, several times just as a flower, protecting himself front and back. He was surrounded by the crowd of Daoists as if he were a martial artist performing in the square to an audience. He pounded his chest and shouted, “If you dare advance on me then you’ll be first to die. Hear me out first! I, Jiang Xiaohe, would first like to confess my guilt to Lord Zhenwu and Founder Sanfeng. Please forgive me for using a sword on the mountain. I am about to eliminate every single one of these demons and help cleanse Mount Wudang!”

Just as he said this, Chu Jianxiong advanced with sword swinging. Jiang Xiaohe allowed him to continue step by step. After six or seven such exchanges, Jiang Xiaohe discovered the gap in Chu Jianxiong’s swordwork. He thrust the sword suddenly, his force like that of a ferocious tiger springing out of a forest. Chu Jianxiong retreated back urgently and flipped his sword to parry as blade met with blade. Jiang Xiaohe shifted and used the opportunity to slash crosswise with his sword. Chu Jianxiong blocked with his sword and a clang rang out immediately. It was louder than clearer than the sound of the bells and startled the others. Jiang Xiaohe pressed in a couple steps, the glimmer of his sword was at once above and at once below, here a slash, there a stab. Chu Jianxiong was still able to ward off his onslaught, but it looked like he was about to lose. Nearby, four Daoists approached waving their swords, as Chu Jianxiong switched his approach and advanced on Jiang Xiaohe slowly to attack. Jiang Xiaohe matched the five swords with his one, suddenly ahead and abruptly behind, quickly left and swiftly right. After another dozen or so exchanges, a terrible scream rang out. Jiang Xiaohe had cut down one of the Daoists. Chu Jianxiong waved his hand to direct the crowd and they came forward as a group, their swords like a forest to encircle Jiang Xiaohe.

Jiang Xiaohe used his blade to block in all directions, as he both walked and fought, and in an instant, he had made it to the edge of the temple. Jiang Xiaohe flew up onto its red wall. On the other side were waiting several Daoists carrying swords. Jiang Xiaohe jumped off the wall and engaged them. At the same time, Chu Jianxiong and the others had entered and surrounded them. Jiang Xiaohe again fought as he moved to next to the bell tower. Jiang Xiaohe sprung up and soared over the heads of the Daoist mob. He reached the top of the bell tower and came upon a Daoist in the midst of ringing the bell. Jiang Xiaohe went over, grabbed the bell-ringing Daoist and pushed him from the tower.

Afterwards, he inserted his sword into the decaying wood of the window, removed the large, one or two hundred catty metal bell, raised it above his head, and then hurled it downward. He heard an alarmly loud crash, as the roofing tiles on top of the building rattled and grisly shouting came from below. The bell was cast with pig iron and when it hit the ground, it broke into several pieces. After that, Jiang Xiaohe took his sword up again, slashed it with a whoosh, and bellowed below, “Who dares come up here?”

At this moment, the crowd of Daoists below had fallen back one after another in fright. Some had been injured by the broken bell and were pulled aside by others. The gray hair on Chu Jianxiong’s temples were standing on end, as he stood alone at the base of the structure. He pointed his sword up and said, “Jiang Xiaohe, if you do not come down and accept your death, I will fight through this temple and burn that clocktower down. Then we shall see where you’ll fly—“ Just when he got to here, Jiang Xiaohe fished out the iron tile and flung it downward. It struck Chu Jianxiong’s head with a crack. Chu Jianxiong’s body collapsed instantly, though a few of the others came forward to hold him up.

At this time, he saw all of the Daoist throng abruptly put down their swords and take a simultaneous bow. From outside entered four more Daoist priests, two of whom had white beards. One had a black beard and the other was around thirty years of age without a beard. Jiang Xiaohe said, “Good! You must be of the Seven Great Sword Sages, but there’s still one missing or you would all have arrived!” The one Daoist priest with fluttering silver temple hairs, who was tall and resembled Bao Kunlun a bit, pointed up at the clock tower and said, “Jiang Xiaohe, come down at once so we can have a discussion!” Jiang Xiaohe smirked and said, “What more is there to talk about? There are too many of you. Actually, I am not afraid even if you were to come at me all at once, but all of them are innocent here, and I couldn’t bear it on my heart. I am here only to battle the Seven Great Sword Sages.”

That same Daoist said, “My name is Zhang Xuanhai.” He referred to the elderly Daoist who was more of less the same age as he and said, “This is my disciple-brother Ma Xuantao.” He then pointed at the other two priests and said, “There, Ni Jianchao and Lü Chongyan. We are here to focus on our religious practice and have never bullied outsiders. The Seven Great Sword Sages is but a name the general Jianghu public chose for us. We do not consider ourselves that. In the past five hundred years, no one has dared come to this mountain to stir up trouble, but now you, Jiang Xiaohe, dare to come here and go on a rampage, and disturb the mighty spirit of Lord Zhenwu? You dare hurt the followers of the Three Pure Ones?”

Jiang Xiaohe stood above and scoffed, “How can the followers of the Three Pure Ones raise a leopard and send it to bite people? Or permit a savage nun to carry a married woman up the mountain?” Zhang Xuanhai was puzzled. “When did this happen? Jiang Xiaohe, why don’t you come down? We will not hurt you.” Jiang Xiaohe brandished his sword and leapt down, sneering, “Who’s afraid of you all hurting me? I just hope you are not seeking injury or death.” Zhang Xuanhai then asked, “You say that we’re raising a leopard. Where is this leopard?” Jiang Xiaohe replied, “Go down and take a look. There’s a dead one at Chen Jianfei’s temple. If I had not known martial arts, the leopard would have eaten me up and left not even a bone!”

Zhang Xuanhai was taken aback and anger shone on his face. Two Daoists came over and kowtowed to Zhang Xuanhai first before admitting, “Indeed there is a leopard at the lower temple. Uncle Chen raised it from a cub, but it never hurt anyone.” The anger on Zhang Xuanhai’s face subsided slightly. He said, “The lower temple is a bit out of the way. He was afraid of bandits coming to bother them, so he raised a leopard to guard the mountain. If you had not disturbed it, it would not have come after you. You also mentioned the abduction of a woman? To which household does she belong?” Jiang Xiaohe spat angrily, “This has to do with you all. Someone here is familiar with Daocheng of the Jiuxian Abbey on Cloudperch Ridge. She kidnapped my wife and took her here!”

Once he said this, Zhang Xuanhai turned around to look at Lü Chongyan. The fair-faced and handsome Daoist who was about thirty years, stepped forward and first bowed to Jiang Xiaohe and said very calmly with sword in hand, “You must have been deceived. The Abbess Daocheng did come here once last year, but she departed after she paid her respects at Zhenwu Temple, so she has nothing to do with us. There are many temples within a hundred miles of this mountain, and many villages behind it. You can go there to look for her, but you cannot cause trouble here!” Jiang Xiaohe thought this over and then said, “Fine. Then I will go look elsewhere, but if I do not find her, I will have to return here to inquire. Farewell!”

So saying, Jiang Xiaohe turned to leave. Unexpectedly, Zhang Xuanhai lunged at him from behind and jabbed at Jiang Xiaohe with a left-hand finger. Jiang Xiaohe flipped around and waved his arm, batting Zhang Xuanhai away. He scoffed, “Are you still going to try those tricks on me?” Zhang Xuanhai swung his sword down for a chop, but Jiang Xiaohe caught it horizontally with his sword. Zhang Xuanhai glared at him and said, “Jiang Xiaohe, you have wounded my disciple-nephew and caused a disturbance on Zhanqi Peak. Do you really think you can just stroll away?” Jiang Xiaohe glared back at him, saying, “What do you want to happen? Please say it!” Zhang Xuanhai said, “At the very least, you must kneel on the ground and pay your respects to the founder by burning incense. Then we will tie you up, carry you down the mountain and hand you to the authorities!” Jiang Xiaohe spat at them, “Pah!” He sent his sword for a chop at Zhang Xuanhai. Zhang Xuanhai brandished his sword to meet him. Ma Xuantao and Ni Jianchao rushed forward to aid with their swords. Only Lü Chongyan hid behind a mountain boulder and spectated.

Jiang Xiaohe’s single sword resisted the four “sword sages,” and he carried not an ounce of fear. However, Zhang Xuanhai and Ma Xuantao’s swordwork were both exceptional, and Ni Jianchao and Chu Jianxiong were both quite strong. More and more sword-carrying Daoists began to gather outside, in total no less than fifty or sixty. Ma Xuantao called out once more and the mob of Daoists brandished their swords and advanced together. Jiang Xiaohe used his sword to protect his body and carve out a path. He bounded back up onto the clock tower and then leapt from it, landing outside of the temple.

Chu Jianxiong and Ni Jianchao lead the crowd of Daoists out in pursuit. Jiang Xiaohe repelled them as he moved and eventually made his way back to the edge of the precipice. Jiang Xiaohe stood with his sword held crosswise and beckoned with his other hand, “Come on!” The throng of Daoists, each with their own sword, surged forward like the tide, and there were others who were firing crossbows. Jiang Xiaohe brushed away a few arrows, and then directed his attention to Chu Jianxiong and Ni Jianchao, battling them for several exchanges before cutting down Ni Jianchao with his blade. Then, he turned around and ran several paces, swinging his sword and howling with laughter. He threw his body down and, like an autumn leaf, darted quickly down the mountain peak.


Steph said...

Thanks again Andy!

Looking forward to Chapter 20 - I am assuming from the stubbed entry that it is the final chapter?

Andy said...

Hi Steph, all that remains is the rest of chapter 19 and 20 before the translation is completed, about ten or so parts left.