Wuxia book covers #2

Thirteen Coldblooded Eagles《冷血十三鷹》, by Qin Hong 秦紅. Wansheng Publishing 2nd edition, 1982. Taiwan

This novel is short, one volume, seven chapters, 256 pages. Ni Kuang, an important wuxia and science fiction writer in his own right, adapted it into the Shaw Bros. film The Avenging Eagle, a classic wuxia film starring Ti Lung and Alexander Fu, and directed by Sun Chung. It was remade in 1993 under the title The 13 Cold-Blooded Eagles. Both the novel and the original film follow the same basic plot. Qi Mingxing is a member of the Thirteen Eagles, a group of assassins. Tired of killing, he leaves the group and is hunted down by the other twelve, all the while looking for the person who can save him. I dont’ want to give too much away because the movie is the same plot as the novel, so just go watch the movie. However there are some differences.

Below I have included the entire first chapter as my excerpt for this post. A couple years ago I began translating the chapter on a whim, and I was so into it I translated the entire chapter in one day. So since I have it, might as well include all of  it. It’s pretty long, several times longer than an average webnovel chapter, though this length is standard for wuxia novels in print. The author, Qin Hong, is known for his tight plots and humor. Both are present in this novel, though this one has a more serious tone than some of his other work, which I will share more of later. This novel, unlike most wuxia novels of this period, is actually not available online. So unless you can find a reprint like I did, you’ll have to watch the movie. But it’s a pretty great movie.

Excerpt:

Chapter 1: Betrayal Front and Back

 

It was a resplendent large hall, with carved ridgepole and roof beams. In the center there was a long exquisite table, behind that a tiger-backed arm chair.

A board hung at the entrance with the words: “Iron Boat Gang Headquarters.”

Yep, this large hall was the headquarters of the Iron Boat Gang, which currently dominated the martial fraternity, and exerted the most power and influence among the jianghu.

Now, standing on both sides of the long table like goose wings were twelve young men.

These twelve men were of different heights, different appearances, different clothes, but there was one thing they all had in common: a gold plaque hung around their necks——everyone wore one.

The gold plaques were cast in the shape of an eagle, as big as a bat, and on first glance you might think they were fetters.

But they weren’t criminals, they were killers who the mere mention of was enough to strike terror in the hearts of men. They were the Thirteen Eagles of the Iron Boat Gang!

The Thirteen Eagles were thirteen in number, yet there were only twelve standing now in the hall. Where was the other one?

“The Chief is here!”

Suddenly, a loud and clear yell resounded throughout the hall.

The faces of the twelve Eagles waiting respectfully in the hall trembled. They quickly dropped their hands to their sides and stood straight, not daring to move.

Soon, a white-haired old man walked out, his stature tall and imposing, and he sat down in the tiger-skin arm chair.

He was already over eighty years old, but his face was ruddy, diginified and impressive, his dress like that of a king.

This old man was the chief of the Iron Boat Gang, Yue Xihong.

“We pay our respects to the Chief!” The twelve Eagles bowed in unison.

Yue Xihong’s gaze was like a knife, coldly sweeping over the twelve Eagles. He opened his mouth and said in a low voice, “What is it?”

One of the twelve stepped forward, cupped his hand over his fist in salute, and said, “Chief, Old Nine has escaped!”

“What?!”

Yue Xihong shook with rage and slammed his palm on the long table, busting a hole in it and sending splinters flying.

Although the twelve Eagles knew the situation, they were still scared. All their faces blanched.

Yue Xihong stood up and in a stern, terrible voice, said, “How was he allowed to escape?”

The one reporting said, “The person guarding Old Nine had had a little to drink, got lax, and Old Nine took advantage of it——”

Yue Xihong slammed his palm down again. “Bring him here!”

“Yes, sir!”

Soon, an underling was pushed into the hall. He knelt before the table, his whole body shaking, his teeth chattering. He pleaded, “I deserve death! Please Chief, spare me…spare me…”

Yue Xihong glared at him as if he would swallow him with one gulp. Then the angry look on his face was swept away and he laughed. “If I spared you I wouldn’t be Yue Xihong——Yan Lin!”

“I’m here!”

“Take him out, dig out his eyes, cut off his arms, and if he can still live, let him go!”

“Yes, sir!”

The underling was drug out.

Very quickly, a pitiful howl rose from outside the hall, at first a terrible wail like a ghost’s scream, then it became a tragic sob that would make your hair stand on end, and then there was no sound.

Yue Xihong’s anger had not been dispelled. He took a stride forward and gnashed his teeth. “I painstakingly raised you thirteen from childhood, especially Old Nine. I treated him like my own son, yet today he has betrayed me——”

The more he spoke the louder his voice became and he suddenly kicked and sent the table flying, smashing it to pieces when it fell.

One of the other young men, panic-stricken, said, “Chief, please calm down. We will do everything in our power to capture and bring back Old Nine so that you can deal with him.”

Yue Xihong raised his eyebrows. With a voice that could chop nails and cut iron, he said, “All right, you all have three months to catch him. If you can’t catch him alive then bring me his head. If you don’t succeed, don’t return!”

***

Layer after layer of high mountains, clump after clump of thick forests, far as the eye can see, like a boundless sea…

This place was the Myriad Mountains.

Remote mountains within remote mountains.

In these remote mountains throughout the year there was not a trace of human presence, but today within these remote mountains there appeared a young man riding a horse.

He was a handsome man, only his face carried melancholy and detachment, cold and detached to the point of having no joy of life there to be found.

The only thing that would attract anyone’s attention about him was the long sword that hung at his waist.

This sword was not at all exquisite, but its scabbard was worn smooth. One look and you’d know he often used it.

He blankly reined in his horse, then kept on going, slowly, aimlessly wending through the mountain forests that rose and fell like waves, every now and then dropping his head to look behind him in the distance. Then his face would crease with a faint, almost undetectable smile.

When he smiled he would mutter to himself, but it was always the same sentence: “They probably won’t pursue me, right?”

A gust of hot wind blew, rustling the dried leaves on the ground like wild snowflakes whirling, like white waves surging to the sky, like a tornado swirling by.

The wild gusts carried with them sand and he shut his eyes to keep it out, and whenever he would then open his eyes he would discover that the landscape had changed somewhat, the wind moving about the dried leaves, sometimes revealing white bones, the bones of humans or beasts.

But this time what he saw wasn’t bones, but a person.

Or maybe a corpse, because at a distance of two hundred feet he didn’t know if the person was alive or dead.

The person lay stretched out on the ground with his arms spread wide.

By the clothese he wore it was clear he was Chinese.

He had not seen anyone in over ten days, so he was shocked, and he immediately urged his horse forward.

As he got closer he confimed it was indeed a Chinese man.

The man’s clothes were ripped and torn, and he looked to be about twenty-five or twenty-six years old, and on his back hung a judge’s brush.1

He must be a man of the martial fraternity!

He couldn’t help let out a breath of cold air, but he could see the man was on the brink of death, so what was there to worry about? He dismounted and went over to check it out.

Upon closer look he saw the man was not his enemy. He took down a water bag hanging from his saddle, turned the man’s body over, and used some of the little water left to wet the man’s lips.

The man suddenly came to.

Bushy brows, tiger eyes, he was a sturdy stalwart!

He let out a long breath and smiled faintly. “You’re out of water!”

He didn’t even say thanks!

But he didn’t care. He also smiled faintly. “Yep.”

“How will you manage?” the man said.

He hung the water bag back on the saddle. “I can make it another day, but you won’t last another fifteen minutes.”

The man struggled to stand, dusted off his clothes and laughed. “Now I can hold out another day as well.”

He studied him. “What’t your name?”

The man said, “Vagrant.”

He smiled, cupped his hand over his fist. “I’m Qi Mingxing.”

The man just said “oh” lightly. He wouldn’t give his own name, seemed uninterested in the other’s name.

Qi Mingxing said, “Where are you going?”

The man shook his head. “I’m not going anywhere. If there’s a road, I’ll walk.”

Qi Mingxing began to feel this man was too mysterious, but he still paid it no mind. He laughed. “But there’s no road here!”

“The road is made by walking,” the man said.

Qi Mingxing said, “If I didn’t have something going on, I definitely wouldn’t come to this awful place.”

The man said, “I actually quite like this place. Although this place could take a man’s life at any time, I still like it.”

“Why?”

“Because there are no people here.”

“You don’t like people?” Qi Mingxing said, surprised.

The man said, “That’s right. A place with no people is a place with no evil, none of the vicissitudes of life.”

Qi Mingxing said, “You must have something weighing on your mind?”

The man said, “Not really. I just like being alone. I like to pass the days in peace and quiet.”

Qi Mingxing of course did not believe this man had come to the Myriad Mountains because he liked being alone in peace and quiet, but because it was clear the man was closely guarding some secret, it would be impolite to question him further.

The man suddenly looked up, his eyes glinting with a peerlessly sharp light. He smiled and asked, “What about you? Why did you come to these Myriad Mountains?”

Qi Mingxing said, “I’m running away.”

“Running away from what?”

“I’m running from my enemies who are chasing me, trying to kill me.”

The man shrugged, posing an unconcerned, indifferent attitude. “You can’t run forever.”

Qi Mingxing forced a smile. “I can’t not run away either.”

“Your enemies are quite formidable?”

Qi Mingxing nodded. “And there are many of them.”

The man said, “Why run to this place?”

“I’m hoping they’ll think I’ve already went into a deadly, perilous area, and won’t pursue.”

The man said, “Are they coming after you?”

Qi Mingxing shook his head. “I don’t know.”

“So what now?”

Qi Mingxing said, “For now I can’t look back. I can only continue ahead.”

The man’s sharp eyes turned to the cloth bundle on the saddle. “Do you have anything to eat?”

Qi Mingxing nodded. “Yes.”

The man said, “Give me some.”

Qi Mingxing took down the bundle and opened it, took out some food, and gave it to him. “This is all I can give you.”

The man took the food and wolfed it down.

Qi Mingxing laughed. “You haven’t eaten for several days?”

“Three days,” the man said in between bites.

“That’s really rough,” Qi Mingxing said.

The man said, “I didn’t think about the turmoil of going hungry, so I regret not bringing any food with me.”

Qi Mingxing said, “I brought a lot, enough to eat for half a month.”

“That’s great!”

Qi Mingxing took this opportunity to ask, “Now can you tell me your name?”

The man took the last bit of his food, munched on it and said, “Vagrant.”

He clapped his hands and suddenly leapt on Qi Mingxing’s horse. He laughed, “Let’s go! We’ll continue on ahead!”

Qi Mingxing was taken aback, but there was no time to hesitate. He followed after and leapt up in the saddle behind him. “Where to?”

Vagrant laughed. “Nowhere, just follow the road!”

Qi Mingxing was quickly infected with his heroic spirit. He threw his head back and laughed. “Let’s go then!”

The mountain winds were still strong.

The withered leaves danced in the air.

Dusk had gradually set.

Vagrant suddenly sang out in a clear voice:

The bright moon emerges from Heaven Mountain,
Among a boundless sea of clouds.
Long winds blow ten-thousand li,
Sweeping over the Jade Pass.
The Han march down Daideng Road,
The Tartars spied on Qinghai Bay.
Since then from these battlefields,
Not one man has returned.
The Frontier Guard eyes the border town,
Homesick and distressed.
In the high towers on this night,
Their families sigh and cannot rest.

“That’s Li Bo’s poem ‘Moon Over the Mountain Pass?’” Qi Mingxing said.

“That’s right. Do you like it?”

“It’s very sad.”

Vagrant suddenly raised his arm and pointed ahead. “What is that over there?”

Qi Mingxing stretched up to look and he couldn’t help but be delighted. “Ha, it’s a lake! It’s a lake!”

Yes, about half a li out was a lake of billowing crystal-clear water.

Vagrant said, “Don’t get too excited. It might be a mirage.”

Qi Mingxing said, “A mirage?”

“I’ve been lied to once,” Vagrant said.

Qi Mingxing was perplexed. “What do you mean?”

Vagrant said, “I’m so thirsty, from a distance it looks like a lake, but when you get close you discover it’s just white clay. That’s a mirage.”

“There are only mirages in the desert. Are you telling me there’s mirages in the remote mountains as well?”

Vagrant shook his head. “That, I don’t know.”

Qi Mingxing looked back at the lake. “That’s not a mirage, is it?”

Vagrant said, “Wait a minute and we’ll know. If it doesn’t disappear as we approach, then it’s a real lake.”

Qi Mingxing said, “If it really is a lake then we’ll have plenty of water to drink.”

“Yep,” Vagrant said.

The horse suddenly raised its head and neighed.

Vagrant smiled. “Yep, that’s a real lake!”

“It’s still a ways off, how can you be so sure?”

Vagrant patted the horse’s back. “Your horse told me. He smelled the water. A mirage can devceive men, but it can’t deceive animals.”

The horse really had smelled water. Tt surged ahead on its own at a gallop.

Soon they arrived at the lake.

This was not a very tall mountain range, and by the lake sat a house.

It was a stone house, made with coarse and crude stones.

Vagrant laughed. “Ha ha ha, we don’t have to sleep outside tonight!”

He leapt off the horse and ran toward the lake, dropped down on the bank and gulped down mouthful after mouthful of water.

Qi Mingxing followed him, and along with his horse he drank as well.

After he had drunk his fill, Vagrant scooped up water and washed his face, endlessly shouting “So nice!”

Qi Mingxing laughed. “Incredible. I thought there was nothing within these mountains.”

Vagrant stood and blew out a long breath of air. “This is what’s called ‘there’s always a way out!’”

Qi Mingxing looked at the coarse-stone house. “I wonder if there’s anyone living in that stone house?”

“No,” Vagrant said.

“How do you know?”

“If there was anyone there they would have come out already.”

Qi Mingxing nodded, saw that his horse had finished drinking, and led it to a tree and hitched it up. Then he lifted his bundle off the saddle and carried it over to the house.

He suddenly sighed and muttered to himself, “If only this were me returning home, that would be even better.”

Vagrant smiled. “Do you have a family?”

Qi Mingxing shook his head. “No.”

“Then this house is your home.”

The two went to the door. Vagrant’s face suddenly changed and he reached out and grabbed him, and said in a low voice, “Hold up, there’s someone inside!”

Qi Mingxing’s heart jumped. He stopped short and grabbed the handle of his sword.

He thought of the “Twelve Eagles” coming to kill him and he couldn’t help be nervous. He thought to himself: “Hmph, is it really them?”

Vagrant held his ear close to listen, then said, “Strange, there’s no sound now.”

“What did you hear?” Qi Mingxing said.

“A light rustling sound, like someone’s clothes had brushed against the wall.”

He took down the judge’s brush from his back.

His judge’s brush was very shiny. It was obvious it also had been used a lot.

Qi Mingxng stopped him with his hand. “Don’t go in.”

“Why not?” Vagrant said, taken aback.

Qi Mingxing quietly drew his sword. “If it’s an ambush they’re surely waiting for me to enter, so better let me go first.”

Vagrant threw his head back and laughed. “Nonsense! I plan on sleeping well in there tonight. Whoever wants to disturb my slumber is my enemy!”

He pushed Qi Mingxing’s hand away and stepped inside with a big stride.

Qi Mingxing followed, gripping his sword.

He had been on the run for a month or so, had hidden out in the mountains for a dozen days or more, was already tired of running away, so he hoped those lying in wait for him inside really were the “Twelve Eagles” so he could have a fight to the death with them.

But, when they went inside the stone house, nothing whatsoever happened——there was no one inside!

Although it was dark inside, they could see it was empty.

Vagrant clucked his tongue. “Strange, I clearly heard some sound. How is there no one here?”

Qi Mingxing saw a rat scurry outside. “It was just a rat.”

Vagrant laughed silently. “So it was a rat!”

Qi Mingxing relaxed, threw his bundle down, sat down, and leaned against the wall.

Vagrant looked around and suddenly smiled. “Are you afraid your enemies will find you here?”

Qi Mingxing frowned. “Why do you ask that?”

Vagrant pointed at the wall. “It will be dark soon. There’s a torch there. If you’re not afraid of attracting your enemies, you can light it.”

He was silent for a moment, then shrugged and said, “To tell the truth, I haven’t seen lamp light in a long time.”

“Light it then,” Qi Mingxing said.

Vagrant extended his hand. “Hand me the firestarter.”

Qi Mingxing gave it to him, then shut his eyes and thought: “Who is he? Why won’t he tell me his name? Why is he here alone in these desolate mountains?”

The torch lit up.

Light filled the house.

Vagrant handed back the firestarter and sat down opposite Qi Mingxing and grinned. “I wonder what good person built this stone house here? I think it was set up for hunters to rest in. What do you think?”

Qi Mingxing nodded.

Vagrant rubbed his belly. “Damn, I’m hungry.”

Qi Mingxing also felt hungry, so he opened his bundle and set some food out. “Here.”

Vagrant sat upright and began wolfing it down.

Qi Mingxing also ate, chewing methodically while studying the man opposite him. He thought: “Who is he? Why won’t he reveal his name or background? Why did he come here alone to this desolate mountain? Could it be he is also running away from someone?”

Vagrant was annoyed at being stared at. “What are you staring at me for? Loathe to part with your food?”

Qi Mingxing smiled. “No, I was just thinking you definitely didn’t prepare to come to this place, right?”

Vagrant said, “No, I prepared, just didn’t prepare enough because I didn’t expect that person to be so cunning…”

Qi Mingxing said, “You’re looking for someone?”

Vagrant nodded.

“Why are you looking for him?”

Vagrant shook his head as an answer.

Qi Mingxing was not happy, but he continued his questioning. “This person you’re looking for, is it an enemy or a friend?”

Vagrant said slowly, “I can only tell you one thing——it’s an enemy, and absolutely irreconcilable enemy!”

Qi Mingxing couldn’t help a wry smile. “Okay! I’m escaping an enemy, you’re looking for an enemy.”

Vagrant appreciated that “wry smile”. He laughed cynically.

“Can I help you?” Qi Mingxing said.

Vagrant suddenly stopped laughing, his eyes bright and penetrating, looking at Qi Mingxing, not understanding. “Help me?”

Qi Mingxing saw he looked uncomfortable, so he shrugged. “Although we only met by chance, I can tell you’re a good person. A good person’s enemy is naturally a bad person, so…”

Vagrant waved his hand to cut him off. “You can never help me.”

“Why?”

Vagrant just shook his head, didn’t speak.

Qi Mingxing said, “I think maybe you still don’t trust me. We should make things clear between us first, then talk about other things——do you want to hear my story?”

Vagrant said, “If you’re willing to say it, I’m willing to listen.”

Qi Mingxing leaned against the wall, eating slowly while talking. “Have you heard ‘Iron Boat Gang’, those three words?”

“I’ve heard them.”

Qi Mingxing noticed that when he said “Iron Boat Gang”, Vagrant had not looked surprised, which was surprising to him. “Then, you certainly know what kind of gang the ‘Iron Boat Gang’ is?”

Vagrant said, “Yes, the Iron Boat Gang is the most powerful and influential group among the martial fraternity. Their chief, Yue Xihong’s martial arts is unmatched, and he commands numerous other martial arts experts.”

“What else?” Qi Mingxing said.

Vagrant said, “Also, on the surface they only smuggle salt, but actually they kill people and take their goods. They do all sorts of bad things.”

Qi Mingxing nodded. “Everything you said is correct. Then do you know that Yue Xihong has thirteen masters under him called the ‘Thirteen Eagles?’”

“I’ve heard that.”

“My enemies,” Qi Mingxing said, “are the Thirteen Eagles!”

Vagrant still seemed unfazed by this. “Is that so?”

“Of the Thirteen Eagles chasing me, there are actually only twelve.”

“The other one is dead?” Vagrant said.

Qi Mingxing said, “No, the other one betrayed the Iron Boat Gang.”

“What’s he called?”

Qi Mingxing said, “He’s called ‘Black Eagle Qi Mingxing!’”

Vagrant laughed. “Interesting, interesting!”

Qi Mingxing smiled bitterly. “Yes, you could say it’s pretty interesting…”

Vagrant cast him a sidelong glance, “Why did you betray the Iron Boat Gang?”

“Because I was tired of killing people,” Qi Mingxing said.

“What made you tired of killing people?”

“No special reason. I just suddenly felt weary of killing.”

“Strange.”

“Is getting tired of killing a strange thing?”

“Yes, for one who regards killing as a common occurence, it’s very strange.”

“So then you must be pretty clear about what the Thirteen Eagles do and how they behave?”

“I’ve only heard they are the Iron Boat Gang’s executioners. Whenever Yue Xihong wants someone killed, he sends them.”

“Right.”

“How many people have you killed?”

“I don’t know the exact number, but it’s a lot.”

“Strange!”

“What’s strange now?”

“You kill people like flies, same as a butcher slaughtering a lot of pigs, yet pig butchers never get weary of killing.”

“Ai! You wouldn’t understand…”

“You think not?”

Qi Mingxing stood up, put his hands on his waist and began pacing around. He sighed and said, “My master was Yue Xihong’s guard. His name was Yan Qingyun. When I was twelve I paid obesiance to him as as a teacher, and because he was Yue Xihong’s guard, I become part of the Iron Boat Gang…”

Vagrant stared at the floor, looking like he was indifferent, yet you could tell he was listening closely.

Qi Mingxing said, “In other words, I grew up as a member of the Iron Boat Gang. Since I was little I’ve seen people kill other people, so I unknowingly came to see killing as just a normal thing. So when I reached eighteen I became one of the ‘Thirteen Eagles’ and began to commit murder and arson for Yue Xihong. There was nothing I wouldn’t do…”

Vagrant smiled lightly. “Found it fun?”

Qi Mingxing said, “I didn’t find it fun, but I didn’t feel bad about it, so I remember how many women I’ve been with, but I don’t remember how many people I’ve killed.”

“What made you suddenly want to put down your butcher’s knife and leave the Iron Boat Gang?” Vagrant said.

“No special reason. I just suddenly felt tired of it.”

Vagrant laughed. “If you say it like that, I still don’t understand you, and still can’t trust you!”

Qi Mingxing bit his lip and continued pacing. “All right, what facilitated my decision to leave the Iron Boat Gang were two separate incidents. The first happened last year during the third month. I was sent to kill an old retired constable, a famous one from Kaifeng called ‘Devil’s Plight Wang An…’”

Vagrant said, “Devil’s Plight Wang An, I’ve heard of him. It’s said his martial arts is really good, and that he once single-handedly captured a hundred bandits of the Greenwood. He’s a real thorn in the side of those outlaws who walk the black path.”

Qi Mingxing nodded. “That’s right. Yue Xihong was once captured by him, three years ago. He had gone to Kaifeng on some matter, and met an old stalwart in a wine shop and drank with him, drinking so much he passed out. When he came to he found himself already in jail.”

“I guess that old man was Devil’s Plight Wang An?” Vagrant said.

“Yes,” Qi Mingxing said. “Yue Xihong talked too much when he was drunk and Devil’s Plight Wang An heard he was the chief of the Iron Boat Gang, so he took him in. Although Wang An didn’t use martial arts to capture him, among the martial fraternity people still thought Yue Xihong had lost face at the hands of Wang An.”

Vagrant said, “Yue Xihong is the biggest devil among those who walk the black path. He definitely wouldn’t be able to stand for that setback.”

“Right,” Qi Mingxing said. “After a few days Yue Xihong escaped from prison and swore to dig out Wang An’s heart and marinate it in wine. When Wang An heard of the escape, that very day he resigned his post as constable and took his family and fled without a trace.”

Vagrant said, “The Iron Boat Gang’s influence extends everywhere under Heaven, where could he run to?”

Qi Mingxing said, “No, Wang An was sharp-witted and shrewd. Yue Xihong sent out many mounted patrols, but after two years they had still not found him. Until one day…”

***

One day, Qi Mingxing was summoned to the main hall to see Yue Xihong.

Yue Xihong was a ferocious old man, and from that ferocious face you could see he was violent, cruel, and ruthless. He sat in the middle of the hall behind the long table in his tiger-skin chair. He said, “Little Qi, I have a job for you.”

Qi Mingxing bowed. “Yes Chief, please give me your instructions.”

Yue Xihong said, “Do you know the ‘Divine Wind Escort Agency’ of Taiyuan?”

“Yes.”

“I’ve just got word that their next assignment will be transporting goods worth five hundered thousand taels. They might pass through here, so go check it out.”

“Yes, Chief!”

So on a moonless night when the wind was up, Qi Mingxing like a black eagle floated down soundlessly onto the rooftop of the “Divine Wind Escort Agency”.

His lightness skill was incredible, very nimble, and it was for this reason he had obtained the “black eagle” moniker.

But, although the Divine Wind Escort Agency guards didn’t hear him, they did see him!

“Where do you come from friend, in the middle of the night like this to visit us? Come down and see us!”

The tone of voice was heavy, which showed the guards of this agency were experienced old hands of the jianghu.

Qi Mingxing was shocked at being noticed. He stamped his feet and shot up, flying over the wall.

Although he was very quick, he was not faster than an arrow sprung from a bow.

He heard the sound of the arrow whizzing and then it struck him in the small of the back!

He jumped to the top of the wall and rolled over it, heedless of his injury, then got to his feet and ran pell-mell for his life.

He hid from place to place within the city before finally losing the pursuing escort agency guards, and then fled the city.

He ran injured for some ten li or more before he couldn’t take it anymore and fell to the ground.

The arrow was still lodged in his back.

Fortunately the arrow had not hit a vital area so he didn’t die, but it had went in deep and he had lost a lot of blood.

Because he had lost too much blood he couldn’t stand it anymore, and feeling the pain become unbearable he went dizzy, everything spinning and upending before his eyes.

He was afraid and did his best to endure the pain and continued crawling forward.

He had killed many people, but this was the first time he had been injured. One who has never been injured considers himself very brave and hearty. He didn’t know the fear of death, so this first time he suffered injury, the first time he had to face the mighty threat of Death, he knew for the first time that death was an unspeakably terrible thing.

His whole body shook uncontrollably like a beaten dog. He struggled for his life, crawling, crawling, crawling…

“Heavens! Someone save me! Someone save me! If only someone would save me I would be willing to be a beast of burden for the rest of my life!”

But here it was dark and there was no one around.

Finally, he passed out.

When he woke he discovered himself lying on a bed, and before the bed sat a rather good-looking girl.

The first time he set eyes on this girl he could tell she was very concerned about his condition and he felt amazed.

When she noticed his eyes were open she shot up and ran out of the room, shouting, “Dad! Dad! He’s awake, he’s awake!”

In the blink of an eye there appeared before his bed an old man.

The man was close to sixty, wearing coarse clothes, a mountain goat beard hanging from his face. He was short but looked strong and capable, yet also affable.

The old man smiled at him. “You’re awake?”

Qi Mingxing propped himself up and asked uneasily, “You are…”

The old man smiled. “My name is Jiang Shungui, and this is…”

He pointed to the girl next to him and continued, “This is my daughter, Xiaofeng.”

Qi Mingxing said, “It was you who saved me?”

Jiang Shungui nodded. “Yes, yesterday morning I was out chopping firewood when I found you…I already took out the arrow in your back. It’s a good thing it didn’t hit any internal organs…How did you get injured?”

Qi Mingxing of course didn’t dare tell the truth. He said, “I ran into an enemy who ambushed me and shot me with that arrow. Ai, thanks for saving me. I’ll be forever grateful and won’t forget it…”

“No need to be polite. What’s your name?”

“My family name is Zhang, given name Wuren.”

“You’ll need to rest for several days in order for your wound to heal. Stay here and recover well, and once your wound is healed you can go back.”

“Yes, thank you for your kindness. Where is this place?”

“Orchid Village,” Jiang Shungui said.

“How far is it from Taiyuan?”

“Twenty li.”

Qi Mingxing said, “Oh, only twenty li…”

Jiang Shungui said, “Is your enemy in Taiyuan?”

Qi Mingxing quickly shook his head. “No, no!”

Just then an old woman came in carrying a steaming bowl of soup. She said, “You’re awake. I made you some lotus-seed soup, eat it while it’s hot.”

In the days following Qi Mingxing enjoyed a warmth of fellowship he had never enjoyed before. Every day Jiang Shungui would change his dressings and the old woman would make him good food to eat, and Jiang Xiaofeng would sit next to him and chat.

It was especially Jiang Xiaofeng’s companionship that made the largest impact. He had played with many women before, but it had always been him dominating them, not at all like Jiang Xiaofeng, who gave him a feeling of freshness, purity, and sweetness!

For the first time he discovered that between people, aside from fighting and killing, there was something more.

He simply didn’t want to leave the Jiang family.

But this feeling was not too strong. Since childhood he had been brought up within the Iron Boat Gang, so he still felt the Iron Boat Gang was his “home”, and he must return “home”.

Therefore, after ten days when his wound had healed, he took his leave from Jiang Shungui and his family. Jiang Xiaofeng cried, which made tears well in his own eyes, because this was the first time a girl had ever cried for him.

“Xiaofeng, I…I’ll come back and see you.”

“Definitely?”

“Definitely.”

***

Vagrant suddenly shouted, “Eh! Too longwinded, pick out the important parts and say that!”

Qi Mingxing hmphed, “If you think what I said was unimportant then there’s nothing else I can say!”

Vagrant scratched his face and laughed. “All right, continue with your story then. I’ll patiently listen——what happened next?”

Qi Mingxing said, “After I went back to the Iron Boat Gang I continued working for Yue Xihong, but I kept thinking about Jiang Shungui and his family. I often thought: it would be great if I had the chance to go back and pay them a visit——finally, I got my chance. One day…”

***

One day, Yue Xihong again called him into the main hall.

This time there were two other people there besides Yue Xihong. One was “Bald Eagle Yan Lin”, the other was “Owl Qiu Gaocheng”. They were the elder and second of the Thirteen Eagles, respectively.

Yue Xihong said, “Little Qi, I have another assignment for you. This time you will go with Elder and Second. You can’t fail!”

Qi Mingxing said, “Yes, Chief.”

Yue Xihong pointed at “Bald Eagle Yan Lin” and said, “Your elder has already found out Devil’s Plight Wang An’s hiding place.”

Qi Mingxing was delighted. “That’s great. This time, Chief, you can have your revenge.”

Yue Xihong said, “I have some other business to attend to, I don’t have time to personally go deal with him, so I decided to send you three. I think you three must be able to bring Wang An back alive.”

Qi Mingxing nodded. “Of course. Where is he hiding out?”

Yue Xihong said, “In a small village near Taiyuan. Your elder knows the details, you and Second go with him.”

So he, along with “Owl Qiu Gaocheng”, followed “Bald Eagle Yan Lin” to Taiyuan.

“Elder, after we catch Wang An, I need to take my leave.”

“What for?”

“I’m going to pay a visit to the man who saved my life, Jiang Shungui.”

“Ha, is it possible you’re in love with that Jiang Xiaofeng?”

“Uh…”

“Is that Jiang Xiaofeng beautiful?”

“Not at all…”

“Then why do you like her?”

“She’s…she’s a good girl. I promised her I would go see her again.”

The next day the three reached the environs of Taiyuan——Devil’s Plight Wang An’s hiding place in the small village.

Once Qi Mingxing saw the village he couldn’t help call out, “Elder, it’s here?”

“Yep!” Bald Eagle Yan Lin said.

“This is Orchid Village!”

Bald Eagle Yan Lin said, “I don’t know what the place is called, I just know Wang An is living here incognito——Look, it’s that place over there at the foot of the mountains.”

Qi Mingxing was frightened. “Elder, you’re joking!”

Bald Eagle Yan Lin was taken aback. “Joking? Why would I joke? Last month I passed by here and happened to see Wang An walk out from that house. At that time I was by myself and didn’t think I could take him on my own, so I didn’t do anything——”

Qi Mingxing repeatedly shook his head. “No, no, no! You’ve definitely made a mistake! That’s not Wang An’s house!”

Bald Eagle Yan Lin said, “How do you know?”

“Because the person who lives in that house is the man who saved me, Jiang Shungui and his family!”

Bald Eagle Yan Lin stared blankly for a moment. “Is that Jiang Shungui about fifty-seven years old, short, yet strong, with a long beard like a mountain goat?”

Qi Mingxing said, “Yes.”

Bald Eagle Yan Lin laughed loudly and pointed at his nose. “Then let me tell you, that Jiang Shungui is none other than Devil’s Plight Wang An!”

Qi Mingxing’s face fell and he said nothing for some time.

Owl Qiu Gaocheng laughed. “Old Nine, if that Jiang Shungui really is Wang An, what will you do?”

Qi Mingxing said fearfully, “No, don’t let it be…”

Owl Qiu Gaocheng looked at him hard and pressed him. “If it is him, will you act or not?”

Qi Mingxing felt cold all over. He couldn’t answer that question.

Owl Qiu Gaocheng sneered, “Old Nine, let me remind you that Chief regards you highly, and that Devil’s Plight Wang An is a man Chief swore to kill. If you dare disobey Chief’s order, when you go back you will surely suffer!”

Qi Mingxing was alarmed and nervous. “Can I…not do any of it?”

Bald Eagle Yan Lin smiled sinisterly. “That won’t do. Wang An is a prickly fellow; if we don’t all three gang up on him I’m afraid he’ll be able to escape.”

Qi Mingxing was extremely agitated. “But, he saved my life!”

Bald Eagle Yan Lin sneered. “Enough! Saved your life, he only helped you heal your arrow wound, you can’t call that saving your life. If you can’t bear to part with that ‘Jiang Xiaofeng’, I’ll help you grab her and take her back.”

Qi Mingxing shook his head. “No, no…”

Bald Eagle Yan Lin gave him a black look. “Old Nine, you won’t do it, will you?”

Qi Mingxing hung his head and made no reply.

Owl Qiu Gaocheng laughed grimly, “If you have the guts to receive Chief’s punishment, of course you can refuse to do it!”

At the mention of Chief’s punishment he thought of a blood-soaked scene. That was the norm for Yue Xihong when a subordinate disobeyed an order. He would tie the person to a wooden rack and use red-hot chopsticks to poke at the person’s body; three times a day he would do this poking, until the person’s body was a mass of wounds. Then he would dig out the person’s eyes, cut off his hands and feet, and only then would he release the person and give him a chance to live. So he couldn’t help trembling when he thought of Chief’s punishment.

“Old Nine,” Bald Eagle Yan Lin said, “don’t forget what I always say: a small man is no gentleman. If you’re not ruthless you can’t be a great man——let’s go!”

They quietly crept over to the house.

It was midnight.

All of Orchid Village was quiet, no one was moving about outside. It was a peaceful little village.

When the three men were just outside the house——

“Who’s that outside?” came the voice of Jiang Shungui.

When Qi Mingxing heard that his heart sank. He knew “Jiang Shungui” was really Devil’s Plight Wang An, because only “Devil’s Plight Wang An” had such sharp and sensitive hearing.

Bald Eagle Yan Lin sneered, “Constable Wang, your old friend is here!”

Inside the house Devil’s Plight Wang An could tell by the tone of voice that this was not good. He shook, then after a minute, said, “What’s the name of this friend and what business does he have with me?”

Bald Eagle said, “We’re the Iron Boat Gang!”

Devil’s Plight Wang An cried out in alarm, then said, “Okay, okay, you all are really looking for me. Well, come on in then!”

Bald Eagle chuckled. “The way I see it, you should come out here!”

Devil’s Plight Wang An was silent for a moment, then heaved a long sigh. “All right, I’m coming out…”

The door opened and Devil’s Plight Wang An stepped out.

He really was Qi Mingxing’s benefactor, “Jiang Shungui”!

His right hand leaned on a walking-stick as he limped forward. It seemed his right foot was injured.

Bald Eagle saw he was walking with difficulty and he felt more confident. He laughed boldly. “Wang, what’s the matter?”

Devil’s Plight Wang An forced a smile. “The other day when I was out chopping firewood I was not careful and was bitten by a venomous snake. Ai, how did you all find me——Eh? You…you…aren’t you Zhang Wuren?”

Qi Mingxing’s face was burning, but he had already hardened his heart. He raised his head boldly and said coldly, “Listen, that was an alias. I’m Black Eagle Qi Mingxing!”

Devil’s Plight Wang An’s emotions were stirred. He laughed wildly. “Okay! Okay! I was blind. I should die at your hands!”

Just then Wang An’s wife and daughter rushed out. Jiang Xiaofeng——no, he should call her Wang Xiaofeng, ran outside and saw Qi Mingxing and stopped short. She looked at him panic-stricken. “It’s you…you…you…you…”

Qi Mingxing could only look away.

Wang An sighed deeply. “All right, what do you all plan to do?”

Bald Eagle said, “We have orders from Chief to bring you in alive!”

Wang An nodded. “Okay, I’ll go with you, but I have one request: please don’t hurt my wife and daughter.”

Bald Eagle looked at Qi Mingxing. “Okay, you showed a bit of kindness to our Old Nine here, so we’ll let your wife and daughter go.”

Wang An turned to his wife. “Yumei, after I go, you two go seek refuge with that younger brother of mine. He is a man of faith and affection, he’ll certainly take you in.”

Wang Xiaofeng cried, “No! Dad! You can’t go with them! They’ll kill you!”

Wang An stroked her hair and smiled. “Xiaofeng, don’t be sad. Your dad knew from the first day he became a constable that sooner or later he would be unable to die a natural death, but I have no regrets. No one can avoid death, but if you can hold your head high and die with a clear conscience, then this life wasn’t wasted.”

Tears streamed down Wang Xiaofeng’s face. “No! Dad! You can’t go! You…”

She suddenly dropped down and knelt before Qi Mingxing and embraced his legs, pleading, “Please spare my dad! I beg you, my dad’s already advanced in age! He’s already resigned his post as a constable, he won’t ever again set out against you! Please let my dad go this time…”

***

Vagrant stood up and walked to the doorway and looked up at the star-filled sky, inhaled deeply. Then he turned and asked, “Did you grant her request?”

Qi Mingxing shook his head. “No.”

Vagrant said, “So then you took Wang An back to the Iron Boat Gang headquarters?”

Qi Mingxing nodded. “Yes.”

“Why didn’t Wang An resist?”

“Because his leg was swelled up terribly. He had no strength to fight us. He knew under the circumstances that fighting us was no use——afterward because of that I killed many snakes. If I saw a snake I just beat it to death. If his leg had not been bitten by a venomous snake he may have been able to escape…”

Vagrant laughed. “Ha ha, you really took your anger out on snakes?”

Qi Mingxing said nothing.

“What happened then?”

Qi Mingxing said, “Yue Xihong was true to his oath. He tied Wang An to the rack and used a knife to cut open his chest, dug out his heart, and ate it with wine.”

“A hero!” Vagrant said.

Qi Mingxing suddenly stood up and glared at him. “You say he was a hero?”

Vagrant smiled. “To be able to eat a living heart, aside from Yue Xihong, who else could do that?”

“You call that a hero?” Qi Mingxing roared.

Vagrant laughed. “Don’t get mad at me. If you’re upset, go commit suicide!”

Qi Mingxing eyes burst forth furious flames. He said with emphasis, “I don’t want to die yet. I want to accomplish my cherished desire, then die!”

“What cherished desire?”

“Ever since Wang An’s tragic death I haven’t been able to sleep peacefully. I often dream of Wang An covered in blood and pouncing on me. I can’t take it, so I want to finish something, and when I have I won’t dream of Wang An anymore.”

“Can you do it?” Vagrant said.

“Yes, I can do every bit of it. I’ll never let it go until I have!”

Vagrant shrugged. “Just now you said there were two incidents that made you want to leave the Iron Boat Gang. What was the other one?”

Qi Mingxing’s face twitched. He said regretfully, “The second incident occurred half a month after Wang An died. Yue Xihong again planned to rob a large escort mission, but the secret got out and someone learned about it. That person told the escort agency, so when we went to attack them they were already waiting with an ambush and we were utterly routed. Later, Yue Xihong investigated and found out the one who informed the escort agency was Strange Hero Sima Xin of the martial fraternity——do you know who Sima Xin is?”

Vagrant nodded. “Yes. He specializes in going against those who walk the black path. Those people all hate the very marrow of his bones.”

Qi Mingxing said, “Sima Xin’s home was in Luoyang. He had three sons and one daughter. The three sons were all married and had children, and the daughter, Sima Yunqin, was married to a martial arts expert, ‘Zhuo Yifan…’”

Vagreant suddenly cut him off. “Have you seen this Zhuo Yifan before?”

Qi Mingxing shook his head. “No, but I hope to have the chance to meet him.”

“Why?”

“My head belongs to him,” Qi Mingxing said. “If I can die at his hands I will have peace of mind!”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because I owe him a debt.”

Vagrant said, “Since you’ve never seen this Zhuo Yifan, how can you owe him a debt?”

“I’m talking about a blood debt.”

“Did you kill one of his relatives?”

Qi Mingxing said, “Yes. When Yue Xihong learned that it was Sima Xin who had wrecked his plans, he decided to use the most brutal method to get his revenge. He called together all of the gang’s experts and sent us out to wipe out Sima Xin’s entire family!”

Vagrant’s face twitched, but he said calmly, “Did you participate?”

Qi Mingxing nodded. “Yes. All of the Thirteen Eagles participated, and this time Yue Xihong personally led us. There were more than twenty of us in total, and on a moonless night when the wind was up we charged into Sima Xin’s residence and killed everyone we saw, man, woman, young or old!”

***

“Kill!”

“Kill!”

“Kill!”

In an instant, shriek after shriek smashed the night’s serenity.

There were more than thirty people, young and old, in Sima Xin’s family: his three sons, daughters-in-law, grandchildren, wet nurses, servants, etc. Most had just been startled awake when they were killed in their beds, and the only one who was able to get up and resist was Sima Xin himself, but he was captured and tied up by Yue Xihong and his men.

Therefore, in the time it takes to eat a meal Sima Xin’s entire family was murdered. Sima Xin’s eyes were red, anger attacked his heart, and even though he hacked with his sword like a madman, it was no use, because he was no match for Yue Xihong’s martial arts, plus several others helping out all made it so he didn’t even have the chance to fight to the death. Finally, he died also, pierced through the heart by Yue Xihong.

Qi Mingxing did not kill anyone during this scene of carnage, because since Wang An’s death he had already grown weary of killing.

He stood dumbly, looking at the man who had died on the ground with his eyes opened, Sima Xin, and in his mind he saw the image of Wang An.

“Little Qi, what’s wrong?” Suddenly, Yue Xihong appeared in front of him, questioning him with a stern expression.

Qi Mingxing was startled and flustered. “Chief, I…”

Yue Xihong laughed darkly. “Hmph, looks like Bald Eagle was right, you’ve changed!”

Qi Mingxing shook and he stammered, “No…I haven’t…I haven’t changed!”

Yue Xihong shone with deep anger. He said, emphasizing each word, “You hate me, you hate that I killed Wang An, am I right?”

Qi Mingxing was quick to shake his head. “No! I don’t…”

Yue Xihong sneered. “No need to dispute it. I’ve been observing you for several days. Ever since I killed Wang An you’ve changed. You want to leave me?”

Qi Mingxing said, “No, I…that’s not my intention.”

Yue Xihong said, “Then, why didn’t you attack?”

Qi Mingxing stutttered, “I…I…”

Just then, the guard, Master Yan Qingyun came before him. He said nothing, but repeatedly slapped him upside the head ten times or more, then roared, “Dirty swine! Chief loves you, favors you, why are you being so insolent? Why haven’t you knelt down before Chief and admitted your offense?!”

Qi Mingxing knelt down. He didn’t have the nerve to resist.

Yue Xihonng asked coldly, “Tell the truth, do you want to leave this gang?”

“I don’t dare,” Qi Mingxing said.

Yue Xihong said, “If you want to leave I can allow it. I don’t want to command disloyal people!”

Qi Mingxing kowtowed. “No, Chief please forgive me this once, from now on I won’t be lazy anymore.”

“Really?”

Qi Mingxing nodded. “Really! Really!”

“All right,” Yue Xihong said. “I’ll give you a chance to atone for your crime. Yan Lin!”

“Here!”

“Drag her out.”

“Yes, Chief!”

Not long after, Bald Eagle Yan Lin came out of the house dragging out a young woman whose hair was disheveled. This woman was about twenty-three or twenty-four, quite pretty, but her belly was round and bulging. She was pregnant!

By the looks of her bulging belly it was clear she could go into labor before long.

Bald Eagle Yan Lin drug her before Yue Xihong and laughed brazenly. “Chief, she actually pleaded to let her give birth first and then kill her, ha ha!”

Yue Xihong laughed coldly and looked hard at Qi Mingxing. “Little Qi, you haven’t killed anyone tonight, so I’ll let you have this one!”

Qi Mingxing’s heart shook violently. He trembled. “She’s…”

“Sima Xin’s daughter, Zhuo Yifan’s wife, Sima Yuqin!” Yue Xihong said.

Qi Mingxing stared at Sima Yuqin and he shivered at the thought of killing a pregnant woman. “She…why is she here?”

Yue Xihong said, “She returned home to visit her family, and so was doomed to die!”

Qi Mingxing stammered, “She…she deserves death, but…can’t we let her give birth——”

Yue Xihong’s ferocious eyes popped. He interjected, “Little Qi, it seems you’ve really changed. You really don’t want to remain in the gang?”

Although he spoke slowly, every word was brimming with severity, enough to make the listener terror-stricken.

Yan Qingyun came forward and kicked him repeatedly. “Bastard! Chief is giving you the opportunity to correct your mistake, why are you still standing there?”

Qi Mingxing was kicked to the ground.

Yan Qingyun’s eyes spit fire. “Get up!”

Qi Mingxing stood up.

“Draw your sword!”

He drew his sword.

“Strike!”

Qi Mingxing, like a child bride raised in the groom’s family, had absolutely no courage to resist. He obediently turned to Sima Yuqin who lay on the ground and slowly raised his sword…

Sima Yuqin’s acupoints had been struck so that she could not move, but she didn’t plead anymore, she just stared coldly at him with her clear bright eyes. Then her expression changed to one of calm, as if she firmly believed he would not kill her, as if she believed even the most violent, evil, the most cruel person in the world would not kill a pregnant woman…

***

When he got to this part in his story, Qi Mingxing suddenly stopped and began to cry.

Vagrant’s face was cold as ice. He asked, “Did you kill her?”

Qi Mingxing was like a child who couldn’t control his emotions; he hung his head and crying, said, “Yes! I killed her! I pierced my sword through her heart…”

Vagrant’s face spasmed and his expression became frigid, like his whole body had been enveloped in a layer of heavy frost.

Qi Mingxing didn’t notice his expression, just continued crying. “Later, when we went back to headquarters, Yue Xihong placed me under house arrest. The next day I escaped. This time Yue Xihong was furious. He sent the Twelve Eagles to hunt me down. They were split into four groups and went out to capture me. Last month I was not careful and revealed myself and was discovered by one of the groups, but I ran away quickly and wasn’t caught. Then I escaped to these Myriad Mountains.”

“Finished?” Vagrant said.

Qi Mingxing nodded.

Vagrant’s expression had already recovered its earlier calm. He laughed. “You got away from the Iron Boat Gang, but what is your goal?”

Qi Mingxing raised his head and looked at him painfully. “You don’t understand?”

“No, because you don’t have the power to wipe out the Iron Boat Gang. Aside from hiding out here and there, what else can you do?”

An angry look rose on Qi Mingxing’s face. He gnashed his teeth. “Don’t look down on me. I’m determined to kill Yue Xihong. After a few days when they’ve given up their pursuit I’ll take action. I won’t rest until the entire Iron Boat Gang is destroyed!”

“You are confident you can escape their pursuit?” Vagrant said.

“That’s up to the old man in the sky!” Qi Mingxing said.

“The old man in the sky has no eyes.”

Qi Mingxing was taken aback. “What do you mean?”

Vagrant looked outside the stone house. “Listen, there are three horses galloping toward the lake.”

Qi Mingxing jumped up. “Really?”

Vagrant inclined his ear to listen, nodded. “Yep, it’s three of them.”

Qi Mingxing’s heart thumped in his chest and he quickly drew his sword. “That’s definitely them, all right. All right, I’ll fight it out with them.”

Vagrant said, “You said the Twelve Eagles split into four groups?”

“Yes.”

“Which group is this?”

Qi Mingxing said, “Must be ‘White Eagle Xin Song’, ‘Blue Eagle You Guanxiong’, and ‘Red Eagle Zhai Ziqiang.’”

“Ooh, they’re getting closer,” Vagrant said. “Can you defeat three of them by yourself?”

“I can fight to the death,” Qi Mingxing said resolutely.

Vagrant laughed. “If you fight to the death, how can you talk about destroying the Iron Boat Gang?”

END CHAPTER ONE


In other news, The Crimson Fan, by lady webnovel author “Can’t Guess the Ending”, is scheduled to release on Wuxiaworld August 15. Set in the Tang dynasty, it will feature Wuxiaworld’s first female MC!

  1. This is a metal weapon shaped like a writing brush, used mainly to attack acupoints and deliver blunt trauma.

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16 thoughts on “Wuxia book covers #2” - NO SPOILERS and NO CURSING

  1. HI is it possible to not put the whole chapter on the announcements post? Its a bit inconvenient especially when scrolling other content.

    I’m assuming you’re just copy pasting from word or something of the sort. 🙂

    Much appreciated if its sorted.

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