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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Smiling Proud Wanderer: Chapter 21 (5)

Read the first 20 chapters here!


Linghu Chong was lying in bed. He quickly turned around with his face toward the inside of the cell. Then he heard Mr. Black-White stopping outside of the prison door and spoke apologetically.
“Revered…revered mister Ren! I am truly very sorry for not having come sooner! In the past month, my eldest sworn-brother never set foot outside. Every day I anxiously awaited the opportunity to come and pay the revered mister my respect, but that opportunity only presented itself today. I hope the revered mister…the revered mister do not take any offense!”
Together with Mr. Black-White’s voice, a wonderful aroma of wine and roast chicken also came in through the square-shaped opening on the prison door. It had been many days since Linghu Chong last tasted any drop of wine. As soon the smell of the wine hit his nose, he could no longer hold his patience and quickly turned around.
“Give me the wine and chicken!” he demanded.
“Sure! Sure! So the revered mister has agreed to teach me the secret formulas of the divine art?” Mr. Black-White asked.
“Bring me three catties[1] of wine and a whole chicken each time, and I’ll teach you four segments of the secret formulas. Once I’ve had three thousand catties of wine and one thousand whole chickens, you can probably get all the formulas by then.”
“I am afraid this arrangement might be too slow and cause unnecessary problems. How about I bring six catties of wine and two whole chickens each time so the revered mister can teach me eight segments of the secret formulas?” Mr. Black-White bargained.
“You are certainly greedy!” Linghu Chong said with a grin. “Fine! Come on! Give those to me!”
Mr. Black-White handed over a wooden tray through the square-shaped opening, upon which were a large kettle of wine and a fat roast chicken.
Linghu Chong thought, “I am sure you won’t kill me with poison before I teach you the secret formulas.” So he picked up the wine kettle and quickly gulped down mouthful of wine. The wine was not in any way spectacular, but in his mind it tasted so nice that even Mr. Paint’s Turfan Grape-Wine of four cycles of distillation and ferments was no match for it. Without any stop for breath, he quickly poured half kettle of wine down his throat, and then tore a chicken leg off and shoved it into his mouth. Not very long after, he had already emptied the wine kettle and picked the chicken clean. Giving a satisfied pat to his belly, he declared approvingly.
“Excellent wine! Excellent wine!”
Mr. Black-White let out a big smile. “Now that the revered mister has enjoyed the tasty chicken and great wine, will the revered mister start the teaching please?”
Linghu Chong noticed that Mr. Black-White no longer mentioned anything with regard to the proposed Master-Apprentice relationship and ceremony. “He probably thought I was too busy drinking wine and eating chicken, and I’d completely forgotten about it,” Linghu Chong thought. So he didn’t mention it either.
“Okay. Here are the four segments. You’d better remember them well. ‘Inside the unique channels and eight passages, there exist inner energy streams. Gather them in your Dan-Tian. Join them in your Dan-Zhong[2].’ Do you understand?”
The original text on the steel plate actually read, “Inner energy streams inside Dan-Tian, disperse them into four limbs. Inner strengths inside Dan-Zhong, dissolve them into the eight passages.” Linghu Chong actually deliberately reversed the meaning in his teaching. When Mr. Black-White heard these, he found them to be just as plain as any ordinary inner energy cultivation methods out there, so he quickly replied.
“I got these four segments. Will the revered mister please teach me the next four segments?”
Linghu Chong thought to himself, “After I made the changes, those four segments sounded quite ordinary. Naturally he wanted something more unique. I must find four peculiar segments to give him a good scare!” So he said, “Since today is the first day, I might as well teach you four more. Remember these: ‘Split Yang-Wei Passage with shock. Shut down Yin-Qiao Passage with clog. Once all Eight Passages are broken, the Divine Art will succeed.
Mr. Black-White was stupefied.
“If…if…one’s unique channel and eight passages are broken, how could he stay alive? These…these four segments are really beyond my understanding!”
“Do you expect just any ordinary person to understand such powerful divine art easily? If so, what would be so unique about it? Of course there are many profound and subtle theories in the divine art so no ordinary person could have understood them,” Linghu Chong said with a snort.
As Mr. Black-White listened on, he became more and more suspicious. The manner of speaking and the phrases the “revered mister” used seemed to be quite different from the Ren-named person he knew. In the first two meetings, Linghu Chong had only spoken very few words and also muffled his voice. This time, since Linghu Chong was quite high in spirit after he drank a good deal of wine, he spoke a lot more. Mr. Black-White was a very scrupulous man and these unusual signs quickly brought suspicion to his mind – the “revered mister” must be making up formulas to make fun of him.
“You said, ‘Once all Eight Passages are broken, the Divine Art will succeed.’ Are the unique channel and eight passages of the revered mister all really broken?” he demanded.
“That’s of course,” Linghu Chong acknowledged.
From the tone of Mr. Black-White’s voice, he could sense suspicion developing and building, and he dared not to speak too much. So he quickly concluded.
“That’s all. Comprehend well and you’ll understand.”
After these words, he set the wine kettle back down on the wooden tray and then handed the tray back through the square-shaped opening. Mr. Black-White reached forward to receive the tray, but all of a sudden, Linghu Chong let out a cry and then fell forward. A loud clank echoed as his forehead banged against the iron door.
“Why!” Mr. Black-White uttered. People in his caliber with extraordinary Kung Fu skills always had very quick reflexes. In no time he had reached his hands forward through the square-shaped opening and grabbed hold of the wooden tray, making sure the wine kettle would not fall and smash on the ground. At that split second, Linghu Chong turned his left hand swiftly and grabbed onto Mr. Black-White’s right wrist.
“Black-White! Do you know who I am?” He grinned.


[1] Catty is a unit of weight used in Southeast Asia, especially a Chinese measure equal to 500 grams (approximately 1.1 pounds).
[2] Dan-Zhong is an acupoint in the middle of one’s chest by the Solar Plexus.


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