Qi Fang wanted to find an opportunity to escape. She was reclining next to Wu Kan’s body and felt an indescribable fear in her heart. She was afraid that the two would notice her, but she could not figure out a good way to escape.
Wan Zhenshan said: “We will first take care of the body in case we give ourselves away.”
Wan Gui said: “Should we deal with him just like we did with Qi Zhangfa?”
Wan Zhenshan muttered to himself and said: “We will use the old trick.”
Qi Fang was in tears. “How did they deal with my father?” she wondered.
Wan Gui said: “You built it here? You sleep here too, that wouldn’t be too good!”
Wan Zhenshan said: “I will temporarily move out and sleep at your place in case of trouble. How would others so easily put the sword manual on our hands? We will deal with this menace together. In the future when we are showered with wealth, do you think we won’t be able to find a place to live?”
When Qi Fang heard the word “build”, an image suddenly flashed through her mind like lightning. She understood completely. “He… he hid my father’s body inside a wall, hiding any traces of the body. No wonder after father left there was no more news of him. No wonder father-in-law… no, not father-in-law… no wonder the treacherous Wan Zhenshan began to build walls in the middle of the night. He has done so many bad deeds he must feel guilty at heart and conceived somnambulism. Even in his dreams he would wake up and build walls. That treacherous bandit… that treacherous bandit would actually feel guilty… that is really strange. No, he does not feel guilty. He is very proud of himself, he keeps repeating the same action of building a wall unconsciously, but he was building it in his dreams, yet he was smiling the whole time?”
She heard Wan Gui say, “Father, what is the secret behind that sword manual? You said that we will become showered with wealth and overwhelm the world? Could it be that… that it is not a martial arts manual, but a treasure?”
Wan Zhenshan said: “Of course it is not a martial arts manual. In the sword manual is written the location of a great treasure. The old Mei Niansheng’s thoughts must have been clouded by pig oil, he actually passed the sword manual to an outsider. Haha, well he is dead now. Gui’er, quickly take out the sword manual.”
Wan Gui hesitated slightly and then took out the book from his bosom. It turns out that as soon as Qi Fang hid the book inside the fan, Wan Gui had already taken it out.
Wan Zhenshan glanced at his son and took the book. He skimmed through the pages. The pages near the front and back covers of the book were not yet dried, but the middle of the book was dried.
Wan Zhenshan said softly, “It is hard to say whether the two of us can protect this book. We must first discover the secret within this book, then even if someone takes it from us it’s not a big deal. Get a pen, you must write this down carefully. The first stance of Liancheng Swordplay comes from Du Fu’s poem “Spring Returns’. He extended his fingers to his mouth and wet it with saliva, then smeared it on the page beside this poem. He gently cheered and said: “It is the number “4′! Very good, “Moss track nears river bamboo’, the fourth word is “river”, you must remember. The second stance is also from Du Fu’s poem, it comes from “Heavy Scripture Manifests Tomb’. He wet his finger again and smeared the page. “Hmm, it is the number “41′! He counted to the number. “5, 10, 15, 20… “The Emperor’s tomb builds empty songs, valiant warriors prefer jade miniature’, the forty-first word is “tomb’… “Jiangling', excellent! So it is in Jingzhou!”
Wan Gui said: “Father, don’t speak so loud!”
Wan Zhenshan smiled gently. “Right! I must not be so pleased yet. Gui’er, your father’s entire life of efforts are finally not in vain. We have finally discovered this great secret!” All of a sudden, he hid the book and slapped his thigh and softly said: “I finally understand why our enemy gave us the sword manual!”
Wan Gui said: “What is the reason? I never figured it out.”
Wan Zhenshan said: “Our enemy found the sword manual, but he could not figure out its secret, what use is that? Our Liancheng Swordplay, every stance is named after a verse from a Tang poem. People from other clans or sects, even if their martial arts were through the roof, they still won’t be able to figure it out. In this world, only Yan Daping and I know what poem the first stance comes from, what poem the second stance comes from. That is how I know to search the first number from the poem “Spring Returns’ and to search for the second number from the poem “Heavy Scripture Manifests Tomb’.
Wan Gui said: “The name of the stances from Liancheng Swordplay, haven’t you already explained that to us?”
Wan Zhenshan said: “It is completely out of sequence.”
Wan Gui said: “Father, you didn’t even teach your own son the actual swordplay.”
Wan Zhenshan felt slightly embarrassed and said: “I have eight disciples and we are together day and night. If I only teach it to you the others will notice, that won’t be good.”
Wan Gui groaned and said: “That must be our enemy’s plan. He knows that the numbers will appear when the pages are soaked in water, hence he purposely soaked some pages in water and handed the book to us so we could figure out the secrets of the book. He will wait until we search for this treasure and then use the stratagem of “The mighty bandit encounters the grandpa of bandits’.”
Wan Zhenshan said: “Correct! We must be extremely cautious, otherwise not only will we not get the treasure, we may lose our lives as well.”
He wet his finger again to find the third number. “The third stance comes from Chu Mo’s “Sacred Fruit Temple’, the thirty-third word… “Underneath the city near, the clock sounds mixed with music’; the thirty-third word is “city. “Jiangling City’, right. Right! What is there to be dubious about? Hmm, why am I so itchy?” He extended his right hand to scratch the back of his left hand; he felt his right hand was itchy too so used his left hand to scratch his right. Then he looked at the sword manual and continued: “The fourth stance, twenty-eighth word, hmm, 5, 10, 15… the twenty-eighth word is “south”. Now we have “Jiangling City South”; haha! Hey! It’s very itchy! He lowered his head to look at his right hand, he saw the back of his hand had three distinct black lines, he felt very surprised. “I did not write today, why would I have ink marks on the back of my hand?” He felt the back of his hand became itchier and itchier, he looked at his left hand and also saw several streaks of black criss-crossed.
Wan Gui gasped and said: “Father, where… where did that come from? That looks like the poison from Yan Daping’s scorpion!”
Wan Zhenshan was reminded by this and felt his hand became even more itchy. He could not resist and began to scratch it.
Wan Gui said: “Don’t scratch it, it’s… it’s your fingernail that is carrying the poison.”
Wan Zhenshan shouted: “Aiyo! That really is the case.” At once he understood the reason. “That little whóre hid the sword manual inside the bloody water… your blood has scorpion poison… that little brat Wu Kan simply would not die in short order, he left several scratches on my hand. Damn it! The scorpion poison is going to seep into my wounds. Fortunately it has not been too long, it should not be too serious. Ayo! Why is it getting more itchy? Aiyo!” He could not help himself and began to moan loudly.
Wan Gui said: “Father, you did not contract much of the scorpion poison. I will get some water for you to clean your wound.”
Wan Zhenshan said: “Right!’ Then he shouted loudly, “Tao Hong! Tao Hong! Get me some water!”
Wan Gui raised his eyebrows and thought: “Father is so scared he’s lost his mind. He kicked Tao Hong out of the house a long time ago, yet he is still calling for her.” He carried a copper washbowl out of the room and fetched scooped up a bunch of water from the well outside. Then he went back inside and placed the bowl on the table. Wan Zhenshan hurriedly dipped both hands in water. After some ice-cold sensation, his pain and itchy reduced.
It should be noted that when the scorpion poison on the back of Wan Gui’s hand came into contact with the antidote, the black blood that seeped out of the wound too carried poison. In fact, this poison was even more toxic than the original scorpion poison. When Wu Kan was being strangled by Wan Zhenshan, he scratched frantically and left some deep marks in Wan Zhenshan’s hand that penetrated deep into the flesh. As soon as it made contact with this poison, it was even more serious than Wan Gui’s condition. When he dipped both his hands in water, it was not long before the water in the entire bowl grew dark. After a while, it became a dense concentration of black ink.
Both Wan Zhenshan and his son turned pale at sight of this. Wan Zhenshan took his hands out of the water and let out an “ah” and almost lost his voice. He saw both hands were swollen like two black beads. Wan Gui said: “Ayo, this is not good. I’m afraid you can’t use this water anymore!”
Wan Zhenshan was in so much pain that he kicked his son on the waist and scolded: “If you know that I can’t use water, why did you get me water? Are you trying to screw me over?”
Wan Gui was in so much pain he kneeled down and said: “I did not know this originally, why would I harm you?”
Qi Fang listened to the two of them bicker from under the bed. She did not know whether to feel desolate, or happy that she would have her vengeance.
She heard Wan Zhenshan say, “What now? What now?”
Wan Gui said: “I have some painkillers upstairs. Although it won’t cure the poison it can still momentarily ease your pain. Do you want to use some?”
Wan Zhenshan said: “Yes! Yes! Yes! Get it for me now!”
Wan Gui said: “Whether it will work or not, your son does not know. It’s possible that it could make things even worse, then father will kick me again.”
Wan Zhenshan scolded: “Son of a lamb turtle! At this point you are still acting like this? Your daddy I gave birth to you, is it such a big deal if I kick you once? Go now! Get it for me!”
Wan Gui replied, “Yes!” and turned to leave.
Wan Zhenshan’s hands were swollen so badly, the skin on the back of his hands were dark but also appeared light, not a single trace of wrinkle. It was like inflated pig urine foam. He saw that it became more swollen, he thought his skin would definitely crack and shouted: “I will go with you! It… it can’t be delayed.” He stuffed the sword manual in his bosom and rushed out of the room to catch up with Wan Gui.
Qi Fang heard the two of them were quite far away and urgently crawled out from under the bed. She mused: Where should I go now?” At this time she was completely out of her wits, she thought the world was so boundless yet there wasn’t a single safe haven for her. “They killed my father, how can I not take my revenge? But how do I go about taking action? In terms of martial arts and intelligence, I am much inferior to father-in-law or San’ge. Besides, they believe that I have an affair with Wu Kan. As soon as they see me they will kill me, how can I resist? The only thing to do is to… to find martial brother and then decide. But how would I know where he is? What about Water Spinach? How can I just leave her behind?” As soon as she thought about her daughter, she sped up her pace and rushed to the back building. She intended to take her daughter to escape with her, then come up with a plan for revenge.
In her heart, she still could not completely believe that it was the Wan family who caused the death of her father. Wan Zhenshan was a vicious and merciless person, but what about Wan Gui? She was very tender and sweet to her husband, she could not simply just suddenly sever all ties with him.
She rushed to the first floor and heard Wan Zhenshan’s coarse voice shouting and crying. She thought: “If he keeps yelling like this, he will wake up Water Spinach!” As soon as she thought that her daughter may be scared, she could not simply just worry about her own safety. She swiftly went upstairs, careful not to emit any noises from the staircase. Water Spinach slept in a room behind where she and her husband slept, it was separated only by a thin layer of metal sheet. Qi Fang slipped into the small room. The room was lighted inside, she saw that her daughter had awoken a long time ago, her face full of fright. As soon as she saw her mother, her mouth was flat as if she was about to cry. Qi Fang hurriedly rushed forward to pick her up. She made a gesture with her hands to signal her daughter not to make any noises. Water Spinach was smart and obedient, and she did not make a single sound. Qi Fang embraced her daughter and reclined on the bed.
The voice of Wan Zhenshan was heard. “No good, this is no good. The more I use this painkiller the more pain I feel. We must find the physician and use his antidote, it’s the only way.”
Wan Gui said: “Yes, only that antidote is capable of curing this poison. As soon as the sky turns bright I will ask Brother Lu and the others to set out to search for him. The wound on the back of my hand is in great pain too.”
Wan Zhenshan scolded: “How can we wait until morning!? Ah.. Ah! I can’t take it! I can’t take it!” All of a sudden his legs became numb and he collapsed on the floor. He was in so much pain he began rolling on the ground. He shouted: “Quick! Get the sword, cut off my hands! Cut off my hands!” Qi Fang heard as the sounds of various furniture inside the room crashed and banged across the room, the vases and bowls clanged against each other and shattered on the floor.
Water Spinach was so scared she hugged her mother with all her might, her face deathly pale. Qi Fang gently comforted her with her hands and did not dare to make a noise.
Wan Gui was deeply troubled and panicked. “Father, you… you must endure a bit longer. How can I cut your hands off? We must find the antidote.”
Wan Zhenshan was in so much pain he simply could not take it anymore. “Why won’t you cut off my hands and relieve me of my pain? Ah, I know, you… you want me to die, then you can take the manual and find the treasure yourself…”
Wan Gui reprimanded: “Father, you are in so much pain you mind is unclear. Quickly rest on the bed. I don’t even know the sequence of the sword stances, what use do I have for the sword manual?”
Wan Zhenshan constantly rolled on the floor. “You say I am unclear, I say you have malicious intentions. I… I am in so much pain I am about to die… I am about to die… I will make sure neither of us gets the treasure!”
Suddenly both his eyes turned red, he pulled out the sword manual from his bosom and extended his hands to rip out the pages. All ten of his fingers were swollen like roots of red carrots, he could barely move them, but he still managed to rip out a few pages.
Wan Gui was startled. “Don’t tear it! Don’t tear it!” He extended his hands to take the manual away. He took hold of half the manual while Wan Zhenshan held the other half, unwilling to release his grip. Wan Gui was blank for a moment and Wan Zhenshan took the opportunity to pull. Wan Gui was unwilling to let go of the treasure that he had right in front of him turn into passing mist, so he hurriedly extended his hands to push away his father. The two of them were on the ground stealing and seizing, rolling and flipping about on the floor. The manual became even more torn.
All of a sudden Wan Gui screamed loudly: “Ah… damn it!… my wound has contracted poison again. Ah! It hurts so much!” The two of them pulled and dragged on the manual, the poison smeared on the sword manual had once again seeped into Wan Gui’s original wound on the back of his hand. In an instant, Wan Gui’s hand was swollen again, the pain shook his heart and pierced into his bones. Since he had been sick, his endurance was weak, as soon as the poison went into his wound, it immediately followed the circulation of blood and flared out remarkably fast. The two of them rolled on the floor shouting and screaming in pain.
Qi Fang listened for a bit longer; after all they were husband and wife, she could not simply just ignore his cries. She got up from the bed and walked in front of the room and said coldly, “What’s going on? What are you two doing?”
The two of them saw Qi Fang, but under such excruciating pain they did not have the time to be angry. Wan Gui cried: “Fang’mei, quickly find the physician, tell him to make the antidote, ah… ah… I really… I really can’t take it anymore. Please… I beg you…”
When Qi Fang saw he was in so much pain that his head was covered in sweat, her heart softened even more. From her bosom she took out the bottle and said: “This is the antidote!”
Wan Zhenshan and Wan Gui both saw the antidote, the both of them crawled forward at the same time and shouted: “Excellent! Excellent! Quick, quickly apply it on me!”
Qi Fang saw Wan Zhenshan’s eyes were fierce and malicious and greedy like a wild beast. She thought that she could take this opportunity to threaten him, she could find out the truth. She said: “Not so fast, don’t move! If any one of you make a move, I will toss this antidote out the window into the water. Both of you will die!” As she said this she opened the window and unscrewed the porcelain bottle. She suspended the bottle of antidote by the window. All she would have to do is lightly shake her hand and the bottle would fall into water, rendered completely ineffective.
The two Wans stopped moving instantly. They looked at each other, at a loss for words. Wan Zhenshan said: “My good daughter-in-law, if you give me the antidote, I will let you run away with Wu Kan. I will not pursue you. I will even give you a thousand taels of silver for the two of you to spend on your journey… ah, it hurts… since you have the heart and he has the feelings, Gui’er cannot keep you here… you are free to leave.”
Qi Fang thought: “This person is truly shameless and despicable. Wu Kan was strangled to death by his own hands, yet he is actually lying to me right now.”
Wan Gui said: “Fang’mei, although I cannot bear to part with you, there is no other way. I promise I will not make things difficult for Wu Kan.”
Qi Fang laughed coldly and said: “The two of you are completely muddleheaded. You still harbour such and vile and repulsive desire. I am only going to ask you one thing. If you two answer me honestly, I will hand over the antidote.”
Wan Zhenshan said: “Right! Right! Ask away! Ayo! Ayo!”
A breeze of wind came from outside through the window, it blew the various paper and butterfly figures dancing on the ground. The fragments of paper were from the torn from the sword manual, and thin slices flew out the window. All of a sudden, a pair of colourful butterflies flew up, it was the butterfly cut out that she made that year that was placed in the middle of the book. The two paper butterflies began dancing around the room swiftly and followed the wind out of the window. Qi Fang felt her heart sour as she recalled the happy moments she spent with Di Yun that day back in the cave. How lovely the world was back then, in all of heaven and earth there wasn’t a thing that she was unhappy about.
Wan Gui rapidly urged: “Ask away! What is it? There is nothing I won’t say.”
Qi Fang trembled slightly then asked: “Where is my father? What did you do to him?”
Wan Zhenshan forced out a laugh and said: “You ask me about your father, I—I don’t know either. Ayo—I also miss my martial brother dearly—ayo! And martial brother is my in-law now, ayo! It hurts so much.”
Qi Fang remained calm and collected. “Even now you are still lying to me, what’s the use? My father was killed by you, am I right? You killed him with the same trick you used to kill Wu Kan, am I right? You have already stuffed his corpse inside the wall, am I right?”
Qi Fang repeatedly asked “am I right” three times, both Wans were so startled and in complete disbelief. They did not expect that not only did she know about her father’s death, but she even knew about how they dealt with Wu Kan. Wan Gui trembled in his speech and said: “How… how did you know?”
When he uttered the words “how did you know?” it was basically confirming everything that she said. Qi Fang’s heart turned sour and her rage shot through the roof. At once she wanted to release her hold on the bottle of antidote and let it fall out the window into the water outside. Wan Gui saw that the situation was urgent and wanted to pounce himself forward to take it. Wan Zhenshan scolded: “Gui’er, don’t act rashly!” He knew that in such a circumstance, trying to force things to happen would only make matters worse.
All of a sudden, collapsing footsteps were heard, Water Spinach walked towards them from her room with her bare feet. She shouted: “Mama! Mama!” She wanted to pounce herself to be embraced by her mother.
Wan Gui came up with a bright idea. He extended his left arm, catching her daughter half way as she ran across the room. With his right hand he took out a dagger and aimed directly at the top of her daughter’s head and scolded: “Very well, it looks like our family, both old and young, will perish tonight! I will kill Water Spinach first, then talk!”
Qi Fang was extremely startled and urgently said: “Release her now! What does this have to do with our daughter?”
Wan Gui said in a severe tone, “Since none of us will come out alive, I might as well kill Water Spinach first!” The dagger was hovering slightly above Water Spinach’s head. Wan Gui made a few gestures of fake stabbing in the air, aiming at the direction on top of her head.
Qi Fang shouted, “No! No!” She rushed forward to rescue her daughter and extended her hand to grab Wan Gui by the wrist.
Although Wan Zhenshan was in so much pain, after all he was very experienced. When he saw his son lure Qi Fang over, at once he thrust his elbow forward and hit her hard on the waist. Then with both hands he reached to grab the bottle that she was holding and poured the powder on the back of his hand. Wan Gui also extended his hands for the antidote. Qi Fang rushed forward for her daughter and embraced her tightly.
With a flying kick, Wan Zhenshan knocked Qi Fang down on the ground. Then he followed to untie his belt and tied Qi Fang’s hands behind her back. He also tied both her legs. Qi Fang exclaimed: “Mama! Mama!” Wan Zhenshan flipped his hand to smack her so hard that she passed out. But this slap hit himself hard on his wound and he let out another “Ayo!”
The antidote was really remarkable and effective. After the two of them applied it, in a short period of time blood began to seep out of their wounds and their pain slowly reduced and turned into numbness and itchiness. After some more time, the numbness and itchiness also reduced. Both father and son became relieved and knew their lives were saved. They saw the various fragments of paper flying out the window and gasped, “Uh oh!” and pounced themselves forward to grab the pieces of paper dancing around.
But the pieces of paper on the ground had been completely scattered, more than half of it had already flown out the window, spiralling above the water. Wan Zhenshan shouted: “Quick, quick! Get it!” The two of them rushed downstairs and with all their efforts grabbed the various fragments of paper flying about with the wind. But there were several hundreds of pieces scattered, fluttering about in the wind that blew out the enclosure. Some blew very high up the sky, the two of them rushed east and west, appearing demented, but how was it possible for them to collect all the fragments, let alone put together the sword manual back in its original form?
Although the pain at the back of Wan Zhenshan’s hands had reduced greatly, the pain in his heart was indescribable and he could not repress his anger. He vented: “It is all your fault! Why did you fight over the manual with me? If you did not try to take it from me, how would the manual be torn?”
Wan Gui sighed and did not further pursue the fragments. “If your son did not try to take it away, father would have already torn the manual to shreds.”
Wan Zhenshan replied: “Bullshit!” In his heart he knew that his son was speaking the truth, but he could not help but say, “Bullshit! Bullshit! Bullshit!”
Wan Gui said: “Fortunately, we know that it is located somewhere south of Jiangling. Once we search further into the bits and fragments of the sword manual, we may be able to find more clues, it is not necessarily the case that we won’t find the treasure.”
Wan Zhenshan became more alert when he heard this. “You are right, it is in “Jiangling City, South’…”
All of a sudden from outside the wall a voice softly repeated: “Jiangling City, South!”
The two Wans were taken aback. They jumped over the wall and looked outwards. They saw the back of two people making their way to a small alley.
Wan Gui scolded: “Bu Yuan, Shen Cheng, don’t move!”
The two of them did not turn their heads around, nor did they stop moving. In fact they began to run even faster. Wan Zhenshan quickly lowered himself from the wall and made chase. Wan Gui said: “Father, the… the whóre is still upstairs.”
Wan Zhenshan changed his mind and nodded in agreement.
The two of them made their way back upstairs. They saw that the little girl Water Spinach had already woken up and was hugging her mother and crying. Qi Fang’s hands and legs were tied so she was unable to comfort her daughter. Water Spinach saw that her grandfather was coming back and let out a “Wah!” and began to cry even louder.
Wan Zhenshan ran forward and kicked her from behind, scolding: “If you cry anymore I am going to cut open your stomach!”
Water Spinach was so scared that she turned deathly pale, she did not dare to make any more noise.
Wan Gui said softly: “Father, that whóre knows everything. We can’t let her live, how shall we deal with her?”
Wan Zhenshan muttered to himself then said: “Those two people outside just now, you saw clearly it was Bu Yuan and Shen Cheng?”
Wan Gui said: “It is definitely those two, I can’t be wrong! I’m afraid that the secret is leaked and they both know the treasure is in Jiangling.”
Qi Fang wanted to find an opportunity to escape. She was reclining next to Wu Kan’s body and felt an indescribable fear in her heart. She was afraid that the two would notice her, but she could not figure out a good way to escape.