The Crane Startles Kunlun, Chapter 20, Part 4.
from Wang Dulu's He Jing Kunlun.
On the day that Bao Zhenfei encountered Jiang Xiaohe on Cloudperch Ridge, he was in the midst of hurrying his way back to Jiuxian Abbey. Later, when his granddaughter Aluan had opened the gate to Jiang Xiaohe, Bao Zhenfei had run to get his Kunlun saber and sped back to the gate to help his granddaughter fight against Jiang Xiaohe. But when he got there, he saw that actually his granddaughter Aluan and Jiang Xiaohe had had feelings for each other from before. He felt an intense rage well up in his heart. Bao Zhenfei had never thought that he would find his loyal granddaughter in the arms of his enemy. He was so angry his silver sidelocks trembled and immediately jumped in for the kill, taking this opportunity to end both Jiang Xiaohe and the granddaughter Aluan who had betrayed him. However, Aluan was now already covered in fresh blood and sobbing balefully. He felt bad for her. Jiang Xiaohe’s face was also covered in tears. His heroic frame and face were a perfect match for his granddaughter, and he looked very much like Jiang Zhisheng, whom he had killed ten years prior. He felt that he had acted too rashly back then, and so the killing intent Bao Zhenfei had just felt dissipated immediately! He couldn’t help but clench his jaw, stamp his feet and sigh, as he turned back around and departed.
Originally, old master Bao thought to find Ji Guangjie and explain the exact situation to him. Since there was no affection between Aluan and Ji Guangjie, with where things have landed, wouldn’t it be better to simply break the engagement? We can say that I, Bao Zhenfei, had been confused for a time, not even knowing that my granddaughter and Jiang Xiaohe had secret feelings for each other. Even if I had gotten things wrong, we had had no choice then! Thinking this, the old master Bao took large strides down the mountain, all the while fuming. However, after traveling for a while, he thought it a bit inappropriate, With things how they are now, what nerve have I to face Ji Guangjie?
Old master Bao gave a long sigh and thought angrily, This will be the end for Bao Kunlun. Perhaps this is the fruit of disaster that my time traversing Jianghu has borne me, reaching the miserable retribution of today. I cannot involve myself in anything that happens from this day forward. I will no longer walk upon Jianghu. There was only one thing in his mind to do: he must return to Bao Village in Zhenba to see his crippled second son Bao Zhilin, because old master Bao knew that Jiang Xiaohe will go back to Zhenba in search of him. There was a old grudge between his crippled son Bao Zhilin and Jiang Xiaohe, and while he himself had avoided Jiang Xiaohe, Bao Zhilin was still there in Bao Village. When Jiang Xiaohe does not find him there, he will not show Bao Zhilin any mercy. Zhang Zhicai was there to protect him, but even he himself had been no match for Jiang Xiaohe, so how would one of his disciples and a crippled son be able to hold up against Jiang Xiaohe!
Thinking this, old master Bao couldn’t help feeling a wave of sorrow, so he quickened his pace, and headed urgently toward Zhenba. He was afraid that Jiang Xiaohe would chase him down the mountain, so he dared not stop, following along the mountain road hastily. Who knows how long he ran until he finally felt as if Jiang Xiaohe was not right behind him and some calmness had gradually returned to his heart.
Before traveling long, he came closer to the base of the mountain. Old master Bao’s imagination ran wild as he walked along the road. In the blink of an eye, he turned through another mountain bend when he suddenly spotted an extremely thick iron staff laying at the side of the mountain road. The iron staff was likely several hundred catties, and not far from the staff there lay a corpse. The face of the corpse was indistinct, but the body was clothed in a monk’s robes that had been stained full of fresh blood. He gave it a careful look and realized it was the chan master who had rescued him some time ago, the Iron Staff Monk.
Seeing this, Bao Zhenfei knew that the Iron Staff Monk must have done battle with Jiang Xiaohe and fallen under his hand. This made him feel sadness. He thought to himself, If it wasn’t for the Iron Staff Monk saving me, he would not have crossed paths with Jiang Xiaohe, and if that had not happened, he would not have died so tragically! Misery coursed through his heart. However, fearing that Jiang Xiaohe might catch up to him, he dared not linger here. He made plans to take an alternate route down this mountain. After traveling for most of the day, it began to grow dark. The sunset clouds were reflecting all about when he entered a small town that was called Plaguetown.
By now, Bao Zhenfei was starving, so he found an inn and ordered some food. He ate it hastily and hid in his room, not daring to come out. He was afraid of Jiang Xiaohe finding him, so once he entered his room, he laid down on his bed, but he was unable to sleep. His thoughts unconsciously turned again to his misfortunes and to the persecution he now felt from Jiang Xiaohe. He felt distress and sorrow in his heart. But then he thought again of his crippled son in Zhenba, Bao Zhilin. He didn’t know if Jiang Xiaohe might have already gone to Zhenba and harmed his son. When he thought of this, he became worried anew and reckoned that there was no way he would not return to Zhenba to see his son. But as it was already too late, so even if he wanted to hurry there wasn’t much to do. At the same time, his body was exhausted and lacked the energy to speed on, so he could do nothing but heave a long sigh and go to sleep.
Bao Zhenfei arose very early the next day, hastily washed his face, took up his Kunlun saber and rushed back toward Zhenba. He was full of anxiety, so his pace grew faster and faster, and by noon, he arrived at the city of Zhenba. When he saw this place that he had left so many days ago, he thought back to when he had been somewhat of a wealthy gallant, a hero who was the big figure in town. But now, he’s been pushed to a place with nowhere to go, a desperate and destitute, sad old man who’s fallen onto hard times. How times have truly changed. Bao Zhenfei felt too shamed to see his old friends, so he clentched his jaw, heaved a deep sigh and walked along the main road into the city. He dared not walk with his head up, however, as he was afraid of people recognizing him as Bao Zhenfei in the sorry state he was in.
Bao Zhenfei walked to the door of the Ma Smithy and saw that it had become delapilated. He couldn’t help feeling another wave of sadness. He spotted an apprentice sitting dispirited in the corner. Bao Zhenfei walked up and asked, “Is shopkeeper Ma in? Go and get him for me, quickly!” The skinny apprentice saw old master Bao, an elderly man whose hair and beard were completely white, walking in looking disheveled and haggard and immediately ceased up. When old master Bao asked him the question, he replied lazily, “Shopkeeper Ma isn’t home. Who are you? Why have you come to our shop?” Old master Bao was about to state his name, but then he thought, It wouldn’t do with how I am now. It would be best if I didn’t. Thus, he asked another question, “Where did shopkeeper Ma go?” The young apprentice said, “He’s gone to keep watch at the juren Gong’s house at the Gong farmstead!” Hearing the young apprentice mentioning Ma Zhixian’s current situation, old master Bao at least knew that Ma Zhixian had found employment and felt a bit of comfort. However, inside he still felt a little guilty. Why hadn’t I helped him find a profession? Then he would not have as hard a life as he did now. When he thought this, he heaved another deep sigh. He felt there was no point in staying here any longer, so he turned around and walked away from the smithy.
He kept walking and eventually made his way to the Bao Village. Old master Bao was extremely anxious now and a little grim. He didn’t know how the son, Bao Zhilin, that he missed was faring at home. He reflexively walked into Bao Village. The houses here were mostly falling down, exhibiting a level of destitution that was difficult to repair. Seeing these conditions, old master Bao became a bit more depressed. When he came to his own gateway, he saw a scene that was slightly different than it had been before. The training square in front of the gate, after so many days of neglect from rainwater eroding the mortar, was now bumpy and full of holes. The two doors of the gate were closed shut.
Old master Bao was now extremely mournful and lacked the courage to even knock on the door. After a while, he grit his teeth and finally gave the door a couple knocks with his fist. It was a moment before a man inside asked, “Who is it?” Old master Bao answered, “It’s me!” The person inside asked, “Who are you? What’s your name?” Old master Bao replied, “It is I, Bao Zhenfei!” Upon hearing that it was old master Bao, the person inside seemed astonished and shouted, “Ah! It’s the master!”
The front doors opened, revealing a man of thirty-four or five years with a yellow face, wearing white cloth garments and holding a Kunlun saber in his hand. Upon seeing old master Bao, he bowed deferentially to him and said, “Master, are you well? Why have you come back? Did you encounter Jiang Xiaohe? Jiang Xiaohe had come here before and caused trouble.” Old master Bao was startled and asked quickly, “Zhicai! Why did Jiang Xiaohe come here?” The man who had come out was none other than old master Bao’s eighteenth disciple Zhang Zhicai. His leg suffered a stab when he’d fought against Jiang Xiaohe previously, but it was now healed up.
Zhang Zhicai welcomed old master Bao inside and shouted into the interior, “Old master Bao has returned! Old master Bao has returned!” Several women came out from the inner yard immediately and bowed to old master Bao. Old master Bao saw that everyone was in good health and took an ounce of comfort from this. Old master Bao returned their bows one by one and went inside, asking hurriedly, “How is Bao Zhilin now?” Bao Zhilin had been dozing in bed and upon hearing old master Bao’s voice and seeing his father enter, was hastily getting out of the bed to kneel. However, old master Bao had already came near to the bed, and was comforted by the sight of his still-living camel-like son.
Bao Zhilin immediately asked old master Bao, “Father! Why have you come back? Were you able to kill Jiang Xiaohe? Jiang Xiaohe came here before and gave me quite the fright.” Thus, Bao Zhilin recounted the events where Jiang Xiaohe had come the last time in search of him. He told of how Zhang Zhicai protected the house with all his strength and was cut down by Jiang Xiaohe. And then how Ma Zhixian had rushed here to talk him down, but Jiang Xiaohe still charged his way in. When he told of how Jiang Xiaohe had come inside and pulled him from under the bed, Bao Zhilin’s face drained of color and his hairs stood up on end. It was truly fear just at the thought of it. Then Bzo Zhilin said, “When Jiang Xiaohe couldn’t find you, father, he was seething with hatred. He became furious and was about to kill me with his sword. But then I admitted to him all my past wrongs and Ma Zhixian appealed to his emotions before he finally let me go. Father, Jiang Xiaohe’s martial arts were so powerful. Did you encounter him?”
Old master Bao couldn’t help but heave a long sigh and told of what happened after he left home. He headed to Lu Zhizhong’s place in Hanzhong, received Jiang Xiaohe’s letter, and used Ji Guangjie to try to capture Jiang Xiaohe before hiding at his friend’s house. He then left this friend’s house and traveled to Northern Sichuan where he ran into Long Zhiqi. Long Zhiqi was falsely accused of being a thief and he helped his disciple right an injustice, and in the process became enemies with the Xia of Langzhong’s daughter-in-law Qin Xiaoxian, accidentally killing her brother Qin Xiaoxiong, which led to a showdown outside the home of the Xia of Langzhong. Eighth Cheng mediated an agreement between the two parties and they went to a restaurant for a banquet. Who could have known that Jiang Xiaohe had caught wind of them and rushed over, so the two of them battled at the restaurant. After he fought against Jiang Xiaohe for a while, he suffered defeat at Jiang Xiaohe’s hand. He was in the custody of Jiang Xiaohe and Wu Jinbiao heading to Zhenba when they encountered the Iron Staff Monk on the road back, who rescued him from Jiang Xiaohe’s grasp. They escaped to Jiuxian Abbey on Cloudperch Ridge and found that Aluan was there as well. Later, Jiang Xiaohe found them and Aluan went outside to face him in battle. That was when he returned here.
The people listening nearby kept making sounds of surprise, anxiety and fear as he spoke. After the old master Bao finished, he asked impatiently, “What is the situation in Hanzhong and Ziyang?” Zhang Zhicai answered, “Hanzhong is alright. Jiang Xiaohe went to Ziyang from here in search of Long Zhiqi. When he arrived at the Jingyuan Security Firm, he found only Jia Zhiming and Long Zhiteng. Long Zhiteng came out to face Jiang Xiaohe, but after a few exchanges he was felled by Jiang Xiaohe. It was then that Jia Zhiming told Jiang Xiaohe that the one who had killed his father Jiang Zhisheng was no one else but Long Zhiqi. He should be looking only for Long Zhiqi. Long Zhiqi had fled into Northern Sichuan, so that’s where Jiang Xiaohe went in search of him.”
This was when old master Bao found out that Jiang Xiaohe had gone to Ziyang. He thought, The Kunlun School is nearly finished. I traversed Jianghu for a lifetime and this here is the result. I don’t believe there’s any way for the Kunlun School to revive. The more he thought about it, the sadder he became, and he sighed to himself once more.