Full Moon Scimitar -translation

Please don’t post in this thread. There is another where comments will be appreciated. I am posting the translation here. I will try to put up a chapter every 2-3 weeks. I have redone the first chapters that I posted in the other thread. So I feel they are worth rereading.

Note’s are at the end of each paragraph. IOW means “In other Words” Translation of names, idioms, etc are in parenthesis ( ). I give the pinyin the the definition/translation or the IOW.

Comments are in brackets [ ].

I tried to preserve the symmetry and unique turns of phrase as best as possible.

I also put the Chinese characters in the notes for a few things I just couldn’t really get. Any thoughts, suggestions on this or anything else would be greatly appreciated [here:]https://wuxiasociety.com/forum/d/438-translating-full-moon-scimitar-need-some-help
I would especially appreciate anyone who wants to take a crack at the chapter titles.


Full Moon Scimitar


Full moon.

There are full moons and missing moons, and we’re talking about the full moon now, because this story takes place on the night of the full moon. The moon was even more beautiful than usual on this night, beautiful in its mystery, beautiful in its poignancy, beautiful in its heartbreak.

The story we are about to tell is just as attractive, full of beautiful and mysterious fantasies. In an ancient and mysterious legend, it is said that whenever the moon rises, some spirits always appear with the moonlight, spirits of flowers and trees, spirits of jade and stone, even underground ghosts and ghost foxes will come out to worship the full moon and absorb its essence.

Sometimes they would even transform into human beings, appearing on earth in various different guises and doing things that people would never expect.

These things are sometimes surprising, sometimes touching, sometimes frightening, sometimes joyful, and sometimes unimaginable. They can save a person from the abyss, or push a person off a mountain.

They can give you all the glory and wealth in the world, or they can make you lose everything.

Though no one has ever seen their true colors, no one can deny their existence.


The blade we are talking about is a scimitar, curved like the eyebrows of Qingqing.

The scimitar originally belonged to Qingqing, a beautiful and mysterious girl, like the full moon on that day.

The sword is a powerful weapon for killing people.

Qing Qing’s scimitar is the same. As long as the scimitar light flashes, disaster will come. No matter what, no one can avoid it, because no one has ever been able to avoid the light of the scimitar.

The light of the blade is not quick, but seeing the moonlight, once you have seen it, it has already fallen upon you.

There is only one moon in the sky and only one scimitar on earth.

When it appears on earth, it does not necessarily bring disaster, but sometimes it also brings justice and happiness to people.

What will it bring to people this time when it appears on earth?

No one knows.

Qing Qing’s scimitar is green, green like distant mountains, green like spring trees, green like tears in the eyes of lovers.

On Qing Qing’s scimitar, there is a line of very small words: ‘Listen to the Spring Rain All Night in the Small House”*. Fortune is as unpredictable as the weather**, the moon has its yin and yang.

  • (楼, lóu- a multi-storied bldg. in a villa or manor;part of a palace where women lived)
    Found the Chinese of the poem here, but no title or name:
    **( tiānyǒubùcèfēngyún-idiom meaning ‘sth unexpected may happen at any moment’)
    This matter is hard to come by. It’s hard to be perfect.

    I hope it will last forever and we will share a beautiful life together.

I wish for a long life and a thousand miles to share a love story with you. 但愿人长久,千里共婵娟。

Chapter 1: Standing Out From the Masses

Early morning, fog, thick fog.

Ding Peng pushed open the window of his small room, and the milky white fog drifted in like cotton wool, brushing against his face.

His face was very beautiful and his body was very healthy. When he spoke, he appeared energetic and vigorous. When he smiled, he often revealed a child-like innocence. He was like a big kid you’ve watched grow up.

But Ding Peng was no longer a child.

In the past three months, he had defeated three expert swordsmen in jianghu.

Sunshine and water make plants and flowers grow healthy and strong, but fame and success can also make a boy mature.

Not only was he now a real man, he was calm, steady and full of self-confidence.

He was born in March, this year he was exactly twenty. On the day of his birthday, he’d defeated the famous swordsman Shi Ding of Baoding with a move called “Heavenly Meteor”.

Shi Ding was an expert of the Qingping* Sword from the Northern School. Ding Peng used this victory as a gift to congratulate himself on his birthday - and in the fourth month, he defeated The Wind Chasing Sword Ge Qi^, with the same ‘Heavenly Meteor’ move. Ge Qi was a senior disciple of the Huashan Sword School, with a swift and unusual style of swordsmanship and an even more aggressive style of attack. He was a very proud person.
*(qīng píng -green duckweed)

But in that duel, he was defeated so convincingly that he actually publicly admitted, “Even if I practiced for ten more years, I would never be able to block his sword.” In the fifth month, his “Heavenly Meteor” also defeated the master of the Iron Sword School, ‘Song Yang Swordsman’ Guo Zhengping.

Guo Zhengping’s evaluation of this sword move and him as a person was, “Like a cornered antelope with horns, there is no trace to be found*. Within a year, this young man famous throughout jianghu and he will make a name for himself^.” Although the Iron Sword School was not a prominent sect in jianghu, it had a long history and an upright style, thus the weight of Guo Zhengping’s words as the head of a sect was naturally different.
*(如 羚羊 挂 角 , 无 迹 可 寻- Rú língyáng guà jiǎo, wú jì kě xún. Could really make this out)
^(出人头地 chūréntóudì-to stand out among one’s peers (idiom); to excel [I will use “make a name for _self” throughout])

To this day, Ding Peng still felt an unexplainable excitement when he remembered that sentence.

"Famous throughout jianghu and he will make a name for himself!”

He’d practiced hard for thirteen years, seven hours a day, until his palms and soles were worn through.

Especially on those bitterly cold winter nights, in order to revive himself, he used to take a ball of ice and snow, and as soon as he realized that he had the intention of slacking off, he would stuff it into his trousers, a form of nuisance that no one else could ever imagine.

He tortured himself this way only because he was determined to make a name for himself, and for his father, who had never accomplished anything in his life.

His father was a nameless escort agency guard who had inadvertently come across the tattered page of a sword manual.

It was a single page, also a whole book.

On the page was this move, ‘Heavenly Meteor’…

A meteor from beyond the heavens. The sudden release, that split-second of blinding light and speed, there wasn’t a single thing you could do to stop it. But by then, his father was already getting old, his mind wasn’t as sharp as it has once been, his reflexes had slowed, and he could no longer practice this kind of swordsmanship. So he’d passed this page from a sword manual to his children.

On his deathbed, his final words were, “You must practice hard to perfect this move, and you must strive on my behalf, to let others know that I Ding also have an outstanding son.” Whenever he thought about this, Ding Peng would feel his blood boiling, and he couldn’t hold back his tears.

Now he would never shed tears again. Those who were weak shed tears. If a man wants to shed something, let him shed blood!

He took a deep breath of the morning air and drew his sword from beneath his pillow. Today, he would again use this sword technique to gain another victory for himself.

If he could win today, he would be truly successful.

Although Shi Ding, Ge Qi, and Guo Zhengping were famous heroes in jianghu, those three victories were nothing compared to today’s battle.

His opponent today was Liu Ruosong.

Liu Ruosong, the ‘Qingsong (Pine Tree) Swordsman’ of the world-famous ‘Three Friends of Winter’ (suì hán sān yǒu), was the owner of the ‘Wansong (Ten Thousand Pines) Villa’. He was the only lay disciple of (Taoist) Master Tian Yi, head of the Xuanzhen Monastery on Wudang Mountain. He’d already heard this name many years ago, and at that time he would have said that it was as heavy as Mt. Tai and as bright as the Big Dipper*, towering, unshakeable. But it was different now, he was sure he could defeat this person. He’d asked for advice on swordsmanship (iow- requested a duel) from this senior master in the most proper way, so that Liu Ruosong could not refuse. For he must defeat this man in order to take that next step and join the ranks of true masters in jianghu. Liu Ruosong had chosen the time and place of the duel: “The fifteenth day of the sixth month, noon, Wansong Villa.” Today was the fifteenth day of the sixth month.
*(TàishānBěidǒu-idiom meaning ‘giant among men’)
^( qiánbèi-senior, from an older [martial] generation; míngjiā-renowned expert, master [of an art])

Today’s battle would determine his destiny in life.

The clothes he’d washed, smoothed, put on a bamboo pole, and hung in the window last night, were almost dry.

Although they hadn’t completely dried through yet, they would soon after he put them on.

It was the only set of clothes he had ever owned, sewn carefully for him by his old, sickly mother on her deathbed. They were now faded and frayed in places, but as long as they were clean, they were still good enough to go out and meet people.

There was no shame in being poor; the shame was in being lazy and dirty.

He put on his clothes and took out a moneybag, also sewn from blue cloth, from under his pillow.

Only one small piece of silver was left inside.

It was all he had, and after paying the inn’s bill, all he had left was a few dozen qian.
*(qián –coin, worth a 1/10 of a tael)

He usually slept where he didn’t have to pay rent; under a table in a shrine, a meadow in the woods, all were his beds.

He had reluctantly stayed at this small inn for the sake of today’s fight. He must have enough sleep to have the mental and physical strength to win this battle.

After he paid the bill for the inn, he actually took the remaining money to buy half a kilogram of marinated beef, ten pieces of dried tofu, a large bag of peanuts and five large mantou (steamed buns).

To him, this was not only an extravagant treat, it was simply an unforgivable waste. He would normally only eat three hard cakes a day.

But today he decided to excuse himself this once, because today he needed to eat well to build up his stamina.

Besides, after today, the situation might be completely different.

Not only would fame bring glory and self-esteem, it would bring many things you normally wouldn’t dream of, wealth and status would follow.

He understood this well, so he had always endured poverty and hunger through gritted teeth.

He would not allow himself to be tarnished by any dishonorable deeds, and he was determined to follow the proper path to make a name for himself.*

There were still more than two hours before noon, and he was determined to find a nice place to enjoy this food.

In the foothills near Wansong Villa, he found a place with a spring, a meadow, red flowers and a garden, surrounded by flowers and trees, under a clear blue sky.

The fog had lifted, the sun had just risen, and the green leaves were glistening with dew as bright as pearls.

He sat down on the soft grass and tore off a piece of beef, which tasted even better than he had imagined.

He found it pleasant.

Just then, a girl walked into his secret little world like a gazelle being chased by a hunter.

The girl was completely naked.

The woman was delicate and young.

Ding Peng felt as if all the air had been sucked out of his lungs, but his heart was beating three times faster than usual.

He had never been close to a woman before.

It wasn’t as if there weren’t young girls in his hometown, and it wasn’t as if he hadn’t looked at them either.

He had always struggled to maintain his self-control. He had tried everything: stuffing snow into his underwear, dunking his head in a stream, pricking his legs with needles, running, climbing, somersaulting…

Until he achieved fame, he would never let anything distract him from his goals, never let anything sap his energy.

That white skin, that firm bosom, those firm, round legs…

It took every ounce of strength he had to make himself turn his head, but the woman ran over and hugged him, gasping, “Save me, you’ve got to save me!” She was so close to him, her breath so warm and sweet, he could even hear her heartbeat.

His mouth went dry. He couldn’t even get a word out.

The girl noticed a change in his body*, she blushed and covered herself with her hands, "Would you… would you take off your shirt and lend it to me?” This garment shirt was the only one he had, but he took it off without a second thought. After she draped the shirt over her body, the girl calmed down a bit and said solemnly, “Thank you!” Ding Peng was also a little calmer, and was finally able to speak, “Is someone chasing you?” The girl nodded her head, tears in the corner of her eyes.
*[he was getting an erection]

Ding Peng said, “This place is remote, so it’s hard for others to find it. Even if someone is chasing you, you don’t have to be afraid.” He was a man, born with a natural instinct to protect women, let alone a woman this beautiful.

He held her hand, “With myself and this sword, you don’t have to be afraid.” The girl was more reassured and said “Thank you" so softly, it was as if she had mouthed the words. When she was done, she lowered her head and closed her mouth.

Ding Peng didn’t know what to say.

He should have asked, “Why did you run away? Who was chasing you? Why were they chasing you?” But he didn’t ask, and she didn’t say.

Although she draped the shirt over her body, such a short garment could never entirely cover a mature girl.

There were so many things that were appealing about a girl like her.

His heart was still thumping, still thumping very fast.

It took him a long time to realize that she had her eyes on his bag of beef.

This meal would likely be his last. He was already down to his last copper.

But, without a second thought, he said, “These things are fresh, you must eat some.”

The girl again said, “Thanks!”

Ding Peng said, “Make yourself at home.”

This girl didn’t stand on ceremony.

Ding Peng had never thought of a girl so beautiful eating like a wolf.

She must have been hungry for some time and endured many hardships.

He could even imagine her tragic situation now—

A lonely girl, stripped naked and locked in a cellar by a group of evil men who didn’t even feed her. She did everything in her power to take advantage of the opportunity to escape.

While he was contemplating her ordeal, she had already eaten all of his food.

Not only had she eaten all the beef and dried tofu, she had even finished the steamed buns, leaving only ten or so peanuts.

She seemed to be a bit embarrassed of herself; she playfully handed over these few peanuts and quietly said, “These are for you to eat.” Ding Peng laughed.

Unsure of whether to laugh or cry, he couldn’t help but laughing.

This girl also laughed, blushing so much that she was like a flower in the sun.

Laughing not only made one’s self and others happy, it also reduced the distance between people.

They became a little more comfortable, and the girl finally revealed what had happened to her.

Ding Peng’s own fantasy wasn’t too far off from what she told him.

The girl was indeed kidnapped by a group of villains, stripped naked and locked in a kiln. She hadn’t eaten a grain of rice for several days, and the villains had figured that she was too hungry to move, so they had relaxed their guard against her, and she took the opportunity to escape.

Ding Peng kept his hand on the hilt of his sword, “Where are those people? I’ll go with you to them!”

The girl said, “You can’t go!”

Ding Peng asked, “Why?”

The girl hesitated, “There are some things I can’t tell you now, but I’ll definitely tell you later.” It seemed that there was more to the story than she could say. Since she couldn’t say, he thought it inappropriate to ask.

The girl added, “Now that I can go find someone, I can set my mind at ease.”

Ding Peng asked, “Who are you looking for?”

She said, “It is one of my elders, who is already seventy years old but still wears bright red clothes. If you meet him, you will definitely recognize him.” She raised her head, her beautiful eyes full of pleading, and asked softly, “Can you find him for me?” Ding Peng certainly couldn’t afford to strike out on this task, he really couldn’t go, absolutely couldn’t go.

It was now less than an hour away from the battle that would determine his destiny in life.

He was still hungry and had yet to practice his sword. He must cultivate his emotions and conserve his stamina to deal with Liu Ruosong. How could he go to find an old man he had never met before for a strange girl?

But he couldn’t say “no” without saying “no”. It was not easy to say “no” to a beautiful girl. It required not only great courage, but also thick skin. A man must go through many painful experiences before he can learn this “no”. Ding Peng sighed to himself and said, “I wonder where this old gentleman is?”

The young woman’s eyes immediately lit up and she said, “You’re willing to help me find him?” Ding Peng just nodded his head. The girl jumped up and hugged him, “You’re such a good man. I’ll never forget you!” Ding Peng realized that it would be difficult to forget this girl in his lifetime. “You walk up the stream, and when you reach the mouth of the river, you will see an oddly shaped old tree. When the weather is good, he will definitely play chess* there.” It was a fine day. “When you see him, you must first disrupt the game of chess he is playing before he will listen to you and come with you!” This was how all chess matches were, even if the sky was falling, you had to finish a game of chess before you say anything.
*(This is not European chess, it is Go. I will use chess as it is more familiar and also connotes ‘strategy’ for westerners)

“I am waiting here. Whether you can find him or not, you must come back soon.” The stream was clear.

Ding Peng travelled along the stream. walking quickly.

Of course he had to come back quickly, he still had a lot to do. The sun had gradually risen, and he suddenly felt very hungry, terribly hungry.

Today might be the most important day of his life. The moment that would decide his fate was at hand.

Instead, like a fool, he was starving, seeking an old man in red, for a girl without clothes.

If anyone else had told him this, he would never have believed it.

The only thing that was true was that the girl was indeed beautiful. Not just beautiful, she also had a very special aura that made it impossible to bear to refuse her request.

There were not too many men who could say “no” in the presence of this girl.

Fortunately, the stream was not long.

There was an old tree at the end of the stream. Two people were playing chess, including an old man in red.

Ding Peng was very obedient. He stretched out his hand, and suddenly stepped in a hole under his foot. There was a hole in the ground, and he fell into it.

Fortunately, the hole wasn’t too big, and he managed not to fall in. Unfortunately, as soon as he pulled his foot out of the hole, his other foot was caught. There was a loop of rope on the ground.

His other foot was still hanging in the air, and as soon as it was trapped, his whole center of gravity became unstable.

Even more unfortunately, the loop was tied to a branch that had been bent to the ground, and when the loop was moved, the branch sprung up and so did he.

The most unfortunate thing was that when as his body was lifted up, it just happened to hit another branch. The place it hit happened to be a soft spot near his waist. As soon as it was lightly struck, he couldn’t exert any strength, so he was hung up in a muddle, head and feet, like a fish dangling on the hook.

This hole in the ground. This loop of rope, this branch, was it all arranged on purpose?

Had the girl that sent him here, deliberately asked him to come here and take the bait? They had no enmity, why would she want to harm him?

The two individuals under the tree were engrossed in their game of chess and hadn’t so much as glanced at him. It was as if they hadn’t even realized that someone had come and been hung up.

These two people were definitely chess aficionados.

Chess aficionados were always reluctant to be disturbed when they were playing chess.

Perhaps they had only laid this trap as a precaution against anyone else interrupting them, rather than to deal specifically with him.

Surely, the girl hadn’t known there was such a trap.

With this in mind, Ding Peng finally felt a little better, and said calmly, “Two old sirs, please be so kind as to put me down.” The chess players didn’t hear him at all. Ding Peng repeated his words two or three times, but they didn’t seem to hear a single one. Ding Peng couldn’t control himself and shouted, “Hey…”

As soon as he opened his mouth, something flew over and gagged him.

Something foul and soft and slimy and fishy; he didn’t know if it was rotten mud, or something far worse?

Whatever it was flew from a branch opposite him. A little monkey in a red suit was sitting in the tree, grinning at him.

What else could a red monkey throw out of his hand! He would have been lucky if it was mud. Ding Peng almost fainted with anger.

After all those years of hardship, the moment he was on the verge of success, he had to deal with something like this.

Chapter 2: One Move Ahead

棋 高 一筹Qí gāo yīchóu

A hole, a rope, and a branch were all that was needed to hang up a man who had diligently trained his wugong* for thirteen years.
*(wugong-martial arts ability/skill)

Ding Peng was furious with himself. Why had he been so careless, so rash, so useless!

In fact, the orientation, distance, and power of this hole, this rope, and this branch were precise calculations that required not only a superior mind, but also years of experience to calculate with such precision.

The red-robed old man’s head was a lot bigger than the other’s, full of hair so white it was like silver, but his face was as ruddy as a baby’s, and his body was built like that of a fat child.

The other old man, however, was slight and thin, with a sullen face and a black robe. He looked like a shriveled fig.

The two men were completely engrossed, considering each move for a long time.

The sun gradually rose and went west, noon had long since passed. If not for this incident, Ding Peng would have already defeated Liu Ruosong and become famous in jianghu.

Unfortunately, he was still hanging from a tree.

How long were they going to keep playing chess? Were they thinking of a way to deal with him?

The sullen old man in the black robe, also played chest played chess sullenly. With the black chess piece in his hand, he considered his move for a long time, before slowly, gently letting it fall gently onto the board.

The red-robed old man stared at the move, beads of sweat breaking out on his head.

Anyone looking at the expression on this old man’s face knew that he had lost this game.

He’d played a little carelessly in this game. His mind had been divided*, He had deliberately conceded the match.
*[he was distracted]

The loser will always find many reasons to justify his loss. He will never admit defeat.

Of course, he wanted to play another game.

Unfortunately, the black-robed old man had already stood up and walked away without looking back.

The red-robed old man jumped up and shouted, calling after him.

“You can’t leave! We must play another game.” One of the two men was walking away and the other was chasing after him. They didn’t seem to be using qinggong ability*, nor were they walking very fast, but in the blink of an eye, the two men had disappeared without a trace.
(Qinggong-lightness skill-martial arts that allow someone to effortlessly move very fast, jump high, climb, etc. shēnfǎ- motion of one’s body in martial arts. I will translate this as ‘ability’, indicating when it is shenfa)

The little monkey in red had also disappeared from the on the tree across from him.

It was getting dark. It was beginning to seem like they were actually never coming back, as if they hadn’t even known that there was someone still dangling there.

They hadn’t looked at Ding Peng even once.

The deserted mountains were silent, night was gradually approaching, of course, no one else would come here.

A man hanging in such a place, could hang there for seven or eight days with no guarantee that anyone might come and rescue him.

It’s not uncommon, for a person who has been left hanging, to die.

Ding Peng was truly worried.

Not only was he worried, he was also cold and hungry, his head was throbbing and his limbs were numb.

He suddenly realized that he was simply a pig, the stupidest pig in the world, the unluckiest pig in the world.

Even he didn’t know how he had gotten so unlucky.

So far, he didn’t even know the girl’s first and last name, he had given her the only shirt he had ever owned, she had even eaten all his food. Now he had been strung up like a dead fish for her, and he didn’t know how long he was going to be stuck here.

He simply wanted to slap himself seventy or eighty times and cry again.

Unexpectedly, at this moment, the rope actually broke, and he dropped from midair. Though the fall was not light, it unsealed his acupoints.

Was it possible that someone had calculated all of this?

They merely wanted him to suffer for a while, not to be hung to death.

But they had no past grievances, no recent grudges, so why had they treated him like this?

He couldn’t believe it, nor could he figure it out.

Now the first thing he had to do was to pull the muck out of his mouth.

The second thing he had to do was to go back to that place quickly and ask the girl to clear things up. Unfortunately she had already left and taken the only shirt he had.

After parting, it was quite possible he may never see her again, and certainly not the old man in the red robe.

What was this all about?

He would probably never be able to figure it out in his lifetime.

The only thing he could do now was to go to Wansong Villa, shirtless, with an empty stomach, a foul smelling mouth and a belly full of grievances, to make amends.

Although it was already a little late to go now, it was better late than never.

If people asked him why he was late, he would have to make up a story to explain.

Because if he told the truth, people would never believe him.

The grandeur of the Wansong Villa was even more imposing than he had imagined. Even the gatekeeper who opened the door was dressed in a dignified patterned satin robe.

After learning that he was “Ding Peng shaoxia”, the gatekeeper was very polite to him, extremely polite. He never even glanced at his unclothed body, let alone the mud on his face.
*( shàoxiá-young hero)

The gatekeeper of a great man is usually a very polite, very decorous* person.
*[essentially someone well versed in the rigid social customs of the time]

But this decorum, this politeness, was more that a person could stand.

He was led into the reception hall, and the gatekeeper said courteously, “Ding shaoye^ has come too early, it’s still the fifteenth, and it’s not yet the sixteenth. The lord of the house* and those friends he invited should have been here, waiting to greet the young master. Even if we had to wait for three or five days, it’s really no big deal.”
^(shàoye-young master)
*(he’s actually saying ‘our villa master’ or ‘our owner of the villa)

Ding Peng’s face was a little red, he shivered involuntarily and said, “I had already…” He had already made up a story but this very polite gatekeeper didn’t want to hear it, and very deliberately continued, “It’s just a pity that the lord of the house happens to have some business and must be in the city today.” He was smiling, smiling very politely, “The lord of the house has repeatedly instructed me to ask for young master Ding’s forgiveness, for he had only waited three shichen* before going out.” Ding Peng considered this.
*(Shíchen- time; one of the 12 two-hour periods of the day; 3 shichen is 6 hours)

He couldn’t blame Liu Ruosong. Regardless of who he was waiting for, he had waited for more than three shichen, which was more than any could expect.

But what about him?

He was now down to his last copper, with nothing to wear and he was starving.

Where could he go?

The gatekeeper was very courteous to him, but he had absolutely no intention of inviting him in.

Finally, Ding Peng finally couldn’t help but asking, “Can I wait here for him to return?”

The gatekeeper smiled, “If young master Ding wants to wait here, of course you can!” Ding Peng was relieved, yet the gatekeeper had already continued, "But we dare not let young master Ding stay.”

He was still grinning, “Because this time the lord of the house will be delayed outside for at least twenty to thirty days. How dare we make Ding shaoye wait here for twenty or thirty days?” Ding Peng’s heart sank again. The gatekeeper went on, “But the lord of the house has also given instructions that he will definitely return before the fifteenth day of next month, and he will be free then, even if he waits for three or five days.”

Ding Peng endured this and said, “Fine, I’ll come back next month on the fifteenth, and I’ll definitely come before noon.”

The gatekeeper smiled and said even more politely “I told you, the lord of the house will be free that day. It doesn’t matter if Ding shaoye is delayed.” Ding Peng turned around and rushed out without looking back. He really didn’t want to look at the smiling face of this courteous and well-mannered man. He couldn’t stand it. He vowed that one day, when he had fulfilled his ambition of becoming famous, he would come back and make this gatekeeper look at his smiling face. That would come later, but for now he couldn’t smile, as he didn’t know how he was going to spend the next month. Whatever else, he still had one copper coin. One copper coin could buy a hard cake, and by drinking plenty of cold water, he could fill his belly. But when he thought of taking out the last of his money, he realized that even that was gone. Had it just slipped out of the bag while he was hanging upside down? Nope. He suddenly remembered that he hadn’t put the copper in his moneybag. After buying the beef, he had put the coin in a small pocket on his shirt. Now the girl had gone with his clothes, and of course his last copper had gone with her. He didn’t even know her name. Ding Peng suddenly laughed, so much so that he almost burst into tears.

Night, summer night. Moonlit night.

The moon shone high, the sky was full of stars, the spring under the moonlight was like a ribbon of brocade. The evening breeze was filled with the fragrance of flowers, leaves, and a fragrance coming from the distant mountains. A moonlit night is naturally beautiful, the most beautiful of course being the full moon. A full moon, however, Ding Peng wished this round, full moon was a round, full charcoal grill. He wasn’t completely devoid of refinement, but one forgets the word refinement when one is too hungry. This was where he’d last met the girl, and he’d come back here only because he really had nowhere else to go. With his skills, it would be easy for him to steal and rob. But he mustn’t do such a thing; he mustn’t leave a stain on himself that could never be washed away. He must follow the righteous path to make a name for himself*. Could that copper have fallen out of his shirt? If he dropped it here, he might still be able to find it. He didn’t find the copper, but he did find a peanut. He carefully picked it up, split it in half, and was about to eat it, one piece at a time. Just then a girl suddenly leapt up like a gazelle being chased by a hunter and snatched the last peanut from his hand. This time however, Ding Peng did not feel unlucky, but rather jumped up in joy, “It’s you!” The girl who had caused so much trouble had returned.

Ding Peng had never expected to see her again. Under the moonlight, she seemed even more beautiful than she had that morning.

Although it was only the second time they had met, Ding Peng looked at her as if he were seeing a very close friend.

The girl also appeared very happy, and held Ding Peng’s hand firmly, as if afraid that he would suddenly slip away.

“I thought I’d never see you again.”

This was exactly what both of them had in their minds to say, and both of them said it at the same time.

Both of them laughed.

Ding Peng also held her hand tightly; as if he was also afraid that she would suddenly slip away.

But she looked at him and said, “Just now I was reminding myself that if I see you this time, I must remember one thing.”

“What is it?”, Ding Peng asked

She said sweetly, “Remember to ask your name.”

Ding Peng smiled again. He had just reminded himself that he must ask her name this time.

Her name was Kěxiào
(Kě-extremely; xiào-laugh, smile. Kěxiào-Ridiculous. Can also be laughable, very funny. There is a lot of word play around this name).

“You mean it’s ridiculous?”

“En*!” *(En-an interjection indicating agreement)

“Very possible, but a joke?”


Ding Peng smiled and said, “This name is really strange.”

Kexiao said, "It’s not only strange, but it’s ridiculous. Adding my last name makes it even more ridiculous.”

“What is your surname?”, asked Ding Peng

“My surname is Li.”

She sighed, “A person’s name is actually Li Kexiao (Plum Ridiculous), do you think it’s funny?” Ding Peng actually managed to refrain from laughing.

Kexiao said, “I really can’t understand how my father went and picked such a name for me?”

“Actually, there’s nothing wrong with this name."

She said, "But ever since I was a child, people have been asking me, ‘Li Kexiao, what’s so funny about you?’ As soon as I heard someone ask me that, I blew my top! How can you laugh?” Ding Peng could no longer help but to laugh.

But he was laughing at himself as well.

All the misfortunes of the day were completely forgotten in this one laugh.

Unfortunately, there were some other things that could not be forgotten, and even if they were forgotten for a moment, they would soon be remembered.

For example, hunger!

Laughing was not going to fill their bellies or solve their problems.

But Li Kexiao still had another problem.

She was still wearing Ding Peng’s shirt, the one that didn’t cover her figure completely.

The moonlight shone on the parts of her body that her clothes couldn’t cover, making her look even more attractive.

Ding Peng had more problems of his own.

But it was not about the road ahead; right now his main concern wasn’t himself, but her.

Li Kexiao said, “I know you must want to ask me why I asked you to go to that old man in red clothes. Why didn’t I wait here? Where have I been this half a day?” Ding Peng acknowledged she was right.

“But it’s best you don’t ask," she said


“Because even if you ask me, I will not tell you.” She took his hand again "“There are some things you are better off not knowing; the more a person knows, the more worries he’ll have. I don’t want to add to your worries.” Her hand was soft and smooth, her eyes gentle and sincere.

Even though Ding Peng had never been so close to a woman before, it was clear to him that she was being sincere. For Ding Peng, that was enough.

He also held her hand and said, “I’ll do as you say, if you don’t tell me, I won’t ask.”

Kexiao smiled sweetly, “But there is still something I want you to do for me.”

“What is it?”

“Down along this stream, there is a small house with green tiles on the roof.”

He asked, “You want me to go there?”

“I want you to go there now.”

“And then what?”

Kexiao said, "When you get there, someone will take you to the owner of the place. You must listen to what he says. What’s more, you must even do what he wants you to do.” She gazed at him, “You must trust me, I will never harm you.”

Ding Peng said, “I trust you.”

Li Kexiao smiled, “Are you going or not?” No, of course not, never. The last time he did something for her, the last time he’d gone to do a job for her, he’d suffered enough, he had enough regret. This time it was even more ridiculous, how could he go! Yet here he goes again. Last time it was ‘up the stream’, this time it was ‘down’; last time it was ‘an old man in a red shirt’, this time it was ‘a little house with green tiles’.

Last time he was hung up like a dead fish and ate a mouthful of mud. What would happen to him this time?

Would he have worse luck than last time?

He’d already spotted the little hut.

Under the moonlight, the small house seemed quiet and peaceful, who could tell what kind of trap there might be there. There were no traps in the small building, only soft lighting, ornate furnishings, and fine furniture.

If you had to say there was a trap in this place, it must be a tender trap.

A person could die in a tender trap, but at least it was better than dying from being hung from a tree.

The person who opened the door was a little girl with a big auburn braid and a lovely smile that revealed two large dimples.

Ding Peng thought she would’ve been scared and surprised that a large, half-naked stranger suddenly knocked on the door in the middle of the night.

Who would have thought that she wouldn’t look the least bit frightened? She just chuckled, as if she had known such a large, half-naked man was coming, “Who are you looking for?”

“I’m looking for the owner of this place.”

“I’ll take you there.” Not only did she readily agree, she took Ding Peng’s hand and left, as if she and Ding Peng were already old friends.

The owner was upstairs.

The upstairs room was more ornate, with a beaded curtain draped in the brocade boudoir. The owner was behind it.

It wasn’t that she was trying to be mysterious, but in the middle of the night a woman’s house is always a little wary of a strange adult man. Perhaps she had already changed her clothes and was ready for bed, and certainly didn’t want to be seen by a strange man.

Although Ding Peng was not very knowledgeable about the world, he understood this point quite well.

He already knew she was a woman, of course, for she spoke in a voice that, though a little husky, was coquettish and pleasant to the ear, “Who asked you to come to me?”

“It was a Li Zhanniang*.”
*(zhànniáng-some type of honorific for a woman)

“Who is she to you?”

“She’s my friend.”

“What did she say to you?”

“She says I have to do what you want me to do.”

“You will do what she says?”

“I’m sure she would never hurt me.”

“No matter what I want you to do, you will do it?”

“You’re her friend, so I trust you too.”

“Do you have any idea what I’m going to ask you to do?”

“I don’t know.”
The owner’s voice suddenly changed and became fierce, “I want to plunge you into a tub of very hot water, use a big brush to scrub all the mud off your body, put a new set clothes on you, cover your feet with a new pair of shoes, push you into a chair, and fill your belly with a pot of beef loin that has been cooking for hours, to the point where you won’t be able to walk.” Ding Peng laughed.

He had heard her voice.

Someone chuckled and walked out from behind the beaded curtain. It was Kexiao.

Ding Peng sighed deliberately and said, “I am good to you, why do you want to harm me like this?”

Kexiao put on a stern face and said, “Who told you to be so obedient? If I don’t hurt you, who will?”

“Actually, I’m not afraid of any of these things.”

“What are you afraid of?”, she asked.

He said, “I’m afraid of drinking, and if you fill me with a few catties of good aged Shao alcohol, you’ll really be hurting me.”

Aged good alcohol, braised beef.

If someone really were to use these things to harm someone, there would be many people who would be willing to be harmed.

Now Ding Peng had taken a hot bath and was fully clothed, head to toe, inside and out, in new clothes.

Only a belt had not been changed.

It was a belt sewn out of blue cloth, one inch wide and four feet long.

For a man already faint with hunger, the alcohol was a little too aged and the beef a little too fatty.

He really couldn’t walk anymore.

Kexiao sweetly said, “Now you know that you really shouldn’t be too good to me, because the better someone is to me, the more I want to harm him.”

Ding Peng sighed, “Actually I can’t be considered to have been very good to you, I merely gave you a shirt and treated you to a bit of cold beef and a cold mantou (steamed bun).”

Kexiao smiled, “What you gave me wasn’t a piece of clothing, but all your clothes. What you treated me to wasn’t a bit of beef, but all your food.” She gazed at him, her eyes filled with tenderness and gratitude, and said, “If a man gave you all he had, how would you treat him?” Ding Peng didn’t say anything.

He suddenly felt that life was still lovely and the world was still full of warmth.

Kexiao said, “If a man gave me everything he had, I would have only one way to deal with him.”

“What method?”, he asked.

She lowered her head and said softly, “I’ll give him everything I have, too.” She really did give him everything she had.


When Ding Peng woke up, she was still beside him, laying on his chest like a dove.

Looking at her black hair and snow-white neck, he felt only a happiness and satisfaction that he had never felt before. For this beautiful woman was now completely his. He was not only satisfied, but also proud, because now he was a real man. He didn’t know when she had woken up, looking at him with big, soft eyes.

He gently stroked her soft hair and murmured, “Do you have any idea what I’m thinking about?”

Kexiao asked “What are you thinking about?”

“I was thinking that if I were rich and famous, I would take you on a tour of the world and make everyone in the world envy us and be jealous of us. Then you would definitely feel proud of me as well.” He sighed and said, "Too bad I’m just a poor boy with nothing.”

Kexiao smiled beautifully, “I like the fact that you’re a poor boy.”

Ding Peng was silent and suddenly said aloud, “I forgot, I have something else I can give you.” He suddenly jumped up. From the pile of messy clothes under the bed, he found his trouser belt, "I want to give you this belt.”

Kexiao said softly, “As long as you give it to me, I will definitely treasure it.”

Ding Peng said, “I don’t want you to treasure it, I want you to cut it open.” Li Kexiao was also obedient. She cut open this belt, only to find a tattered and old piece of paper sewn inside. The paper was yellowing, and the top half of the page had simple diagrams drawn on it. The lower half of the page was densely packed with words. She only read two lines: "This move is the secret of Yu Ping’s life, breaking swords as easily as breaking bamboo. Qingping, Huashan, Songshan, Kongtong, Wudang, Huangshan, Diancang and other schools of swordsmanship, they will all be defeated by this move.”

After reading these two lines, she didn’t look any further, and asked with a smile: “Is this move really that powerful?”

Ding Peng said, “I wasn’t sure about this, and I didn’t dare to ask a real expert to try it, but now I already know. When Qingping, Huashan and Songyang’s swordsmanship meets this move, it’s like tofu meeting a fast sword, there’s no resistance at all.” He was impassioned and excited, "Once I defeat Liu Ruosong, I will go find someone even more famous than him.”

“One day, I’ll want all the famous swordsmen in the jianghu to be defeated by my sword, then I will become as famous as the Third Young Master of the Xie Family of the Divine Sword Villa."

After looking at it a couple more times, Kexiao returned the piece of paper and said, “This is your most precious possession, I can’t accept it.”

Ding Peng said, “I simply want to give you my most precious possession, why don’t you want it?”

She replied softly, “I’m a woman, I have no desire to fight with those famous swordsmen in jianghu. As long as you have the heart for it, I’m already happy.” She hugged him tightly and cooed softly, “I only care about you as a man.”

The full moon had already passed; soon the waning moon will be full again. As the days went by, Ding Peng had almost forgotten about his appointment with Liu Ruosong. But Kexiao hadn’t forgotten. “I remember you still have an appointment on the fifteenth of the seventh month.”

Ding Peng said, “When that day comes, I will go.”

Kexiao smiled, “It’s already the eighth day, you should go practice your sword these next few days. It would be best to go to another place to practice alone. I know that as soon as you see me, you’ll…you’ll think of other things.”

He laughed, “I’m thinking right now.” Li Kexiao didn’t laugh or say anything else. But when Ding Peng woke up the next day, she had left the little house, along with her smiling maid with the two deep dimples… leaving behind only a letter.

She asked Ding Peng to practice hard and conserve his strength in the next few days. They would meet again once his appointment on the fifteenth had passed.

This made Ding Peng even more grateful.

Although his heart was inevitably a little sad at their parting, when he thought that they would be together very soon, his spirit was lifted and he practiced his sword, trained his strength and exercised.

For her sake, this was a fight he could not afford to lose.

He found his strength had greatly improved. After a man has a woman, he can be regarded as a real man, just as the earth becomes richer and fuller after being nourished by rain.

By the fifteenth day of the seventh month, his spirit and physical strength had reached its peak.

For this battle, he already had the confidence and the certainty of victory.

It was the fifteenth of the seventh month.


The weather was clear and sunny, and Ding Peng’s mood was the same. He was so full of energy and vitality that even if the sky were to fall, he would still be able to survive.

The courteous and well-mannered gatekeeper of Wansong Villa was also taken aback upon seeing him.

Being able to be the gatekeeper of a prominent family is no easy task. It is one that requires not only a pair of eyes that can tell at a glance whether someone is poor or rich, but also a face that is naturally like a coffin board.

But now, not only was there an expression on his face, it was a very telling expression.

He couldn’t have imagined that this well-dressed, radiant young man was the unlucky-looking poor kid from last month.

Seeing his expression, Ding Peng was even more delighted.

After he defeated Liu Ruosong, the expression on this good fellow’s* face would definitely be even more pleasing.
*(honorific-akin to ‘my good man or ‘there’s a good fellow’)

The only thing troubling Ding Peng’s heart was that he and Liu Ruosong had no grievances and no grudges and he (Ding Peng) never wanted to ruin Liu Ruosong’s long-standing reputation.

Not only had he had heard that Liu Ruosong was a famous hero in jianghu, but that he was also well-liked, and considered a true gentleman.

Liu Ruosong was tall, slender, well-groomed, exquisitely dressed, refined and courteous. He was a very cultured, very elegant middle-aged man.

For most girls, this kind of man is far more attractive than young lads.

He made no mention of last month’s events, and also made a point of not mentioning that Ding Peng had come too early today.

Ding Peng had to admit that he was a gentleman.

His steps were steady, his movements agile, his fingers were long and powerful, and his reflexes quick.

This, in turn, made it impossible for Ding Peng to deny that he was a formidable opponent, and that his reputation in jianghu was not undeserved.

The martial arts training ground, paved with a layer fine sand, had been prepared earlier that morning. The weapon racks on both sides were filled with all sorts of gleaming blades, while six or seven rosewood chairs were placed in the shade of the trees.
[This scene should be familiar to anyone who has seen kungfu films. It is generally an open-air courtyard, lined with weapons racks, training equipment and a dais with chairs for the master & his guests to observe.]

Liu Ruosong explained, “There are a few friends who have long admired Ding Shaoxia’s* sword skill, and they all wanted to come and observe it. I took it upon myself to invite them, only hoping that Ding Shaoxia wouldn’t be offended.” Of course Ding Peng wouldn’t be offended.
*(young master Ding’s)

When a person becomes famous and shows his face, he always wants people to come and see him. The more people that come, the happier he is.

He just wanted to know, “Who are these people that are coming?”

Liu Ruosong said, “One is a senior in wulin*, Mr.** Zhong from Cangshan.”
*(Wulin-the martial world, martial arts social circles)
**(Xiān sheng-honorific for Mister, could also be teacher, doctor. Throughout this section, when you see Mr., this is what is being used.)

“Wind and Cloud Swordsman Zhong Zhan!”

Liu Ruosong smiled. “Unexpectedly, Ding shaoxia knows this old gentleman.” Of course Ding Peng knew that Zhong Zhan’s integrity and his sword skills were equally respected.

It was really Ding Peng’s luck to have someone of his caliber as a witness to this battle.

Liu Ruosong said, “Mei Hua laoren* and Mo Zhuo will also be here. In jianghu we are known as the Three Friends of Suihan (Age and Cold). Actually, I don’t dare (be so presumptuous as to accept this honor).” He smiled again, showing a smugness that even a gentleman would find hard to avoid, “There is also Mr. Xie^, who is not well known in jianghu, as he rarely ventures about.” He smiled again, "The people of Divine Sword Villa rarely roam about in jianghu.”
*(Mei Hua-Plum Blossom; laoren-Old man-formal address for an older man)
^(Xiān sheng again)

Ding Peng was impressed, “The Divine Sword Villa? This Mr. Xie is someone from the Divine Sword Villa?”

Liu Ruosong replied indifferently, "Yes.” Ding Peng’s heart began to pound. For a young man learning swordsmanship, the words ‘Divine Sword Villa’ themselves had a shocking effect on the heart.

Divine Sword Villa, Cuiyun (Jade Cloud) Peak, Lushui (Green Water) Lake, Xie Clan. The third young master of the Xie family, Xie Xiaofeng. The divine sword among swords, the sword god among men. Was this Mr. Xie, who was coming today, him?

The first one to arrive was Cangshan’s Zhong Zhan. The Wind & Cloud Swordsman had long been famous. Even Liu Ruosong called him old mister. But he didn’t seem that old; his back was still ramrod straight, his hair was still black, and his eyes were still bright.

He was not very polite to the young swordsmen who had defeated the three great masters of Zhanping, Huashan, and Songyang. Only later did Ding Peng learn that he was not very courteous to anyone, no matter who he was. It seemed like a man of integrity always had this kind of temperament, believing that others should treat him with extra respect because of his integrity. Was this because upright men in jianghu were very rare? But he didn’t take the top seat. The seat of honor was, of course, reserved for Mr. Xie from the Divine Sword Villa.

Before Mr. Xie arrived, Mei Hua and Mo Zhu of the ‘Three Friends of Suihan’ had already arrived.

Ding Peng was startled at the sight of these two people.

One was red-robed and silver-haired, with a face as ruddy as a baby’s. The other was sullen-faced and thin as bamboo. They were obviously the two people who were playing chess under the ancient tree at the end of the spring that day. However, it was as if they had never seen Ding Peng before.

Ding Peng really wanted to ask Mei Hua laoren*, “Why didn’t you bring that little monkey that likes to wear red clothes just like you?” But Mei Hua laoren didn’t even seem to be aware of the matter and was actually very polite to Ding Peng.
*(laoren-literally ‘old man’ -polite way of referring to an older person)

Ding Peng also wanted very much to forget about this incident, but unfortunately there was one thing he absolutely could not forget—

Why would Kexiao go looking for them? What was the relationship between her and these two men?

He was regretting that he hadn’t asked her to clarify this matter. Why had he promised Kexiao, “If you don’t tell me, I won’t ask.” Now of course he couldn’t ask any more, because Mr. Xie from the Divine Sword Villa had already arrived.

This Mr. Xie had a round face, a plump figure, a wide smile, and was very friendly, looking like a wealthy businessman.

This Mr. Xie obviously wasn’t the number one swordsman of the current age, the man whose name shook the world, Xie Xiaofeng, the third young master of the Xie family.

The others, however, still treated him with respect, and even Zhong Zhan of Cangshan insisted that he take the top seat.

He persisted in his refusal, always saying that he was merely a subordinate in the Divine Sword Villa, nothing more, and in the presence of these famous heroes, he already felt honored to occupy the last seat.

Ding Peng’s heart pounded again. His blood was hot again.

He vowed, one day he would also go to Divine Sword Villa, with the three foot blue blade in his hand, to call upon that famous hero, unmatched under heaven. He would ask for advice (request a duel) on his (Xie Xiaofeng’s) swordsmanship that is unmatched under heaven. Even if he lost under his sword, his life would not have been in vain.

But this fight absolutely must not be lost.

He slowly stood up, looked at Liu Ruosong and said, “Wanbei (junior) Ding Peng* requests Qianbei (senior)** show me his skills, but I hope that Senior will be merciful with the sword."
*(Wanbei=junior-formal address for someone of the younger generation. Can be used when referring to oneself. Ding Peng is saying ‘I, Ding Peng, of the younger generation’)
**(Qianbei=senior- formal address for someone of an elder generation)
+I will only use these terms when someone is speaking. I will put (junior) or (senior) next to the relevant term.
[I have also done my best to preserve the extremely formal structure of these conversations.]

Zhong Zhan unexpectedly said, “You are still young, there is one thing you must always remember.”

Ding Peng said, “Yes.”

Zhong Zhan, his face calm, coldly said, "The sword is inherently a merciless object. Once it is drawn from the sheath it cannot be merciful.” Two boys with topknots, dressed in purple clothes, stood solemnly behind Liu Ruosong holding an ornately decorated sword case.

Liu Ruosong opened the box, removed the sword, drew the sword. A ‘qiang’ sound was heard. The long sword was unsheathed. The sound was like the cry of a dragon.

Mr. Xie smiled and said, “Good sword.” This was indeed a good sword. The sword light flowed with a cold, sinister force that threatened the eyes.

With a sword in hand, Liu Ruosong still had a very elegant and carefree air about him.

Ding Peng’s hand firmly gripped the hilt of his sword. His knuckles had turned white with the force. His palm was already sweaty.

His sword was just an ordinary blue steel sword, absolutely no match for the sharp weapon in Liu Ruosong’s hand.

He also did not have the calm and elegant demeanor of Liu Ruosong.

So even though he was convinced that his move, “Heavenly Meteor”, would definitely defeat Liu Ruosong’s Wudang sword technique, he still felt very nervous.

Liu Ruosong looked at him and smiled, “In my humble home, I have another sword, although it’s not a divine weapon, it’s still passable. If Ding shaoxia* doesn’t look down on this suggestion, I’ll ask someone to bring it.” He took great pride in his status as a senior (qianbei) master, and would never take the smallest advantage.
*(Shaoxia=young hero)

Ding Peng, however, refused to accept his kind offer and said matter-of-factly, “Wanbei (junior) will use this sword, it is a relic of his late father, and wanbei (junior) does not dare to discard it lightly.”

Liu Ruosong asked, “Is Ding shaoxia’s sword skill also a family legacy?”


Zhong Zhan suddenly asked again, “Are you a son of the Ding family of Taihu (Lake Tai)?”

Ding Peng said, “I’m a native of Jibei.”

“That’s odd,” said Zhong Zhan

He continued coldly, “The word in jianghu is that not only is Ding shaoxia’s swordsmanship unusually high, it’s as if his most accomplished move flew down from heaven (was heaven sent), absolutely miraculous. I’ve been studying the sword for fifty years, but I didn’t know there was a Ding family in northern Jibei that had such an exquisite sword technique."

Mr. Xie nodded, “Actually, there is nothing strange about this. There are many people in jianghu who do not want to be known, and although Mr. Zhong is knowledgeable, he may not know everything.” Zhong Zhan shut his mouth.

Liu Ruosong said no more, returned to his sword, squaring his chest, he said, “Please!”

Chapter 3: Heavenly Meteor

The fifteenth day of the seventh month, noon, blazing sun.

The ground, paved with fine sand, glittered under the blazing sun, the radiant sword was even more dazzling.

Ding Peng’s sword had been unleashed.

His swordsmanship, with the exception of the “Heavenly Meteor” move, was a family tradition passed down from one generation to the next. At most, it could only be described as commonplace, simple, really quite an ordinary sword technique.

Wudang’s swordsmanship was the pinnacle of the orthodox schools in wulin. It was subtle, elegant, profound, and mysterious. In the hands of Liu Ruosong, it was even more fluid and unpredictable.

He only executed the three strokes of poking, slashing and thrusting, but the sword was so light and agile, the body followed the sword as the sword rose, so that it had already pushed Ding Peng to the point where he couldn’t breathe.

Everyone was a little disappointed with this young swordsman who had just risen so quickly in jianghu.

But Ding Peng had more confidence in himself.

He has seen at least three flaws in Liu Ruosong’s swordplay, and if he used the ‘Heavenly Meteor’ move, he would be able to break Liu Ruosong’s swordplay. It would be as quick as a sword splitting bamboo.

He was going to give Liu Ruosong a few more moves; he didn’t want the senior* swordsman to be too embarrassed.
*(qianbei-of a senior generation)

But once the true sword was unsheathed, there was no mercy!

He had remembered that.

His ordinary swordsmanship suddenly transformed, an ordinary bronze sword suddenly became a brilliant, dazzling meteor.

A meteor that flew from beyond the heavens, unfathomable, irresistible.

A merciless sword. There is no mercy under the sword.

He suddenly felt bad again, for he knew that Liu Ruosong would surely be wounded by his sword!

But he was wrong.

“Dang”, sparks scattered everywhere. Liu Ruosong actually managed to receive this move that he definitely should not have been able to receive, the Heavenly Meteor.

He was truly a master of Wudang internal arts*. Liu Ruosong was the only lay disciple of the Tian Yi Zhenren**, Ding Peng definitely couldn’t compete with his profound inner strength.
*(Wǔdāng; nèi-internal; jiā-specialist; zhēn-true, genuine. This is a rough translation)
**(zhēnrén-Taoist spiritual master)

The two swords collided and Ding Peng was nearly knocked down. Yet he did not fall.

Although his sword had been jolted out of his grip, and his tiger’s mouth* had been split open, he had not fallen. Because he was determined not to let himself fall.
*(web of skin between thumb & finger)

Determination, although not visible, was a significant factor in determining victory or defeat. Sometimes it was even more important than inner strength.

He hadn’t lost and would continue to fight. He must have been negligent just now, that single strike should have been a winning strike.

But Liu Ruosong had halted his sword stance and looked at him with a strange look in his eyes.

Zhong Zhan suddenly said, “He hasn’t lost yet.” He was indeed an honorable man, and with these words, Ding Peng’s dislike for him had turned into gratitude.

Liu Ruosong finally nodded and said, “I know he hasn’t lost yet”.

He was still looking at Ding Peng with a strange look in his eyes, and asked word by word, “Was that move you used just now was the same one you used to defeat Songyang Guo Zhengping?”

Ding Peng said, “Yes.”

Liu Ruosong said, “This is the same move you used when you defeated both Shi Ding and Ge Qi?”


Liu Ruosong asked, “Is this really your family’s sword technique?”


Liu Ruosong became serious and asked, “Who is your father?”

Ding Peng said, “My father died eight years ago.” He did not give his father’s name, and Liu Ruosong did not ask any further questions.

His expression was even stranger as he suddenly turned to ask Mr. Xie, "I’m sure Xie Guangsheng must have gotten a good look at the sword technique that Ding shaoxia used just now?

Mr. Xie smiled, “I really don’t understand much about this kind of exquisite and sophisticated swordsmanship, but fortunately I was finally able to witness it.”

Liu Ruosong asked, "What did Mr. Xie think of that particular stance?”

Mr. Xie said, “That strike was so fierce, so strange! It approaches the power of that peerless hero of days gone by, Yan Shishan’s, “Thirteen Deadly Stances”.* The methods are also similar, unfortunately it is only his (Ding Peng’s) skill that is lacking.” He laughed and added, “This is nothing more than me just casually spouting nonsense. My knowledge of swordsmanship is quite shallow.” Of course he wasn’t just casually spouting nonsense. How could there be anyone within the Divine Sword Villa who didn’t understand swordsmanship? Thirty years ago Yan Shishan crossed the world, enduring more than a hundred battles, taking on all comers. He was universally recognized as the only one who could compete with the Third Young Master of the Xie Clan. Had he and Xie Xiaofeng ever fought each other? Who would win and who would lose, remains a mystery to this day.
*[Yan Shishan=Yan Thirteen-I think this may be a reference to Yan Nantian in ‘The Legendary Siblings’]

Mr. Xie’s mention of Ding Peng’s swordsmanship in the same breath as Yan Shishan’s “Thirteen Deadly Stances” was truly an honor for Ding Peng. Liu Ruosong smiled, “Mr. Xie speaking like this, my (humble) self in truly flattered by senior’s praise!” Ding Peng was startled, everyone was startled. It was Ding Peng who should be flattered. How could it be him?

Zhong Zhan said coldly, "Mr. Xie praised Ding Peng’s swordsmanship, what does it have to do with you!”

Liu Ruosong said, “It’s a little related.” Zhong Zhan snickered.

Before he could say anything, Liu Ruosong said, “Everyone in jianghu knows that senior has seen and heard so much that he is on par with Bai Xiaosheng, who wrote the ‘Weapons List’ in the past.”

Zhong Zhan said, “Although I cannot compare to Bai Xiaosheng’s profound knowledge, I have seen all the sword techniques of the various sects under heaven!”

“Has senior ever seen that sword move?” asked Liu Ruosong.

Zhong Zhan said, “No”

Liu Ruosong then asked, “What about Mr. Xie?”

“My knowledge and experience have always been shallow.” Mr. Xie said, “I don’t know how many sword techniques I haven’t seen.”

Liu Ruosong grinned wryly and said, " The reason why neither of you have seen this technique is was created by my (humble) self!"

This statement was truly shocking. Of course Ding Peng was the most shocked, he could barely contain himself, “What did you say?”

Liu Ruosong said, "Ding shaoxia should have heard what I said quite clearly.”

The blood had rushed to Ding Peng’s head and he said, “You, you have proof?”

Liu Ruosong slowly turned around and instructed the servant boy, “Go ask Madam to bring out my sword manual.” For a man who studied the sword, there were only two things in the world that were absolutely not to be shared with anyone else. They also absolutely must not be violated by anyone else. Those were his sword manual and his wife. Liu Ruosong was a man. Liu Ruosong also studied the sword. So of course he cherished his sword manual and his wife equally.

Now that he asked his wife to bring out his sword manual, it was quite obvious that he had meticulously planned how to handle this matter. Nobody said anything, nobody could say anything. Liu Ruosong always did things in way that left people speechless*. The sword manual was soon brought out, by Madam Liu herself. The sword manual was concealed in a sealed box, with two seals pasted across the top, while Madam Liu’s face was concealed behind a veil. Although the veil hid her face, it could not conceal her peerless elegance. It goes without saying that Madam Liu was a famous beauty in jianghu, who came from a prominent family. Not only did she have a good reputation, she also had a virtuous reputation. She would never reveal her true features^ in the presence of strangers. Of course, she already knew what this was all about, so she presented the sword manual to Zhong Zhan and Mr. Xie. Mr. Xie’s status and Zhong Zhan’s integrity were absolutely unquestionable, nobody could doubt them. Madam Liu looked down, it seemed she also did things in way that left people speechless*. The sealed box had been opened. The sword manual was made of pale plain silk. It was quite thin, extremely thin. Because this was not WuDang’s sword manual, this was Liu Ruosong’s own creation, the ‘Qingsong (Green Pine) Sword Manual’. Wudang’s sword techniques were vast and profound, while Liu Ruosong’s original sword technique consisted of only six moves. “The last page was that move.” Mr. Xie and Zhong Zhan immediately turned the to the last page of the sword manual. Given their status, they would certainly never look at something they shouldn’t have. This was evidence, however, so for the sake of Ding Peng and Liu Ruosong’s lifelong reputations they had to look at it. After only a few glances, their faces had changed color. Thus Liu Ruosong asked. “Did both of you clearly see the sword move that Ding Shaoxia used just now?”
*(wú huà kě shuō- to have nothing to say; idiom meaning something is done so well, there is nothing anyone can say about it; above criticism; perfect)
^(zhēnmiànmù-can also mean ‘true colors’)


“Hero Ding just said that this was exactly the same sword technique that he used to defeat Shi Ding, Ge Qi and Guo Zhengping. Both of you clearly heard this?”


“The formula, variations and refinement of that sword technique are different from those of the ‘Wudang Songxia Style’?”


“Is this the first time Ding shaoxia & I have met?” This was something that Zhong Zhan and Mr. Xie were unable to establish, so they asked Ding Peng.

Ding Peng acknowledged the truth of this with a nod.

Therefor Liu Ruosong asked, “Could this sword manual be a forgery?”

“Not likely.”

Even if someone had witnessed Ding Peng using this technique, there was no way they could glean its elegance. Both Mr. Xie and Zhong Zhan were quit certain of this.

Thus Liu Ruosong heaved a deep sigh and said, “I have nothing more to say.” Ding Peng was even more speechless*.
*(wúhuàkěshuō-same as above)

Even though he felt like an adult, he was actually still a child. He had grown up in a simple village and had only been away from home for three months. How could he understand the machinations of jianghu?

He felt like his heart was sinking, like his whole body was sinking into a deep, dark hole. It was as if his whole body was tightly bound. He wanted to struggle, but he couldn’t. He wanted to shout, but he couldn’t.

All his hopes were shattered. His once bright future had become dark.

He really didn’t know what to do.

Zhong Zhen was asking Liu Ruosong, “Since you have created this sword technique, why have you never used it?”

“As a subordinate of Wudang, I am proud of Wudang. This move was just something I inadvertently created and I casually wrote it down. It was nothing more than a passing fancy that I wanted to preserve, that’s all. Wudang swordsmanship is vast and profound enough to last me a lifetime. I will never use a second swordstyle and have absolutely no ambition to found my own sect. If it were up to me, I would never even take this sword manual out.” This explanation was not only fair and reasonable, but also open and aboveboard*; no matter how you stack it up, it must be accepted.
*(idiom meaning without tricks)

Mr. Xie smiled and said, “Well said, Tian Yi Zhenren must be proud to have a disciple like you.”

Zhong Zhan said, "Since you created this technique yourself, where did Ding Peng learn it?”

Liu Ruosong said, “That’s what I was going to ask Ding shaoxia.” He turned to Ding Peng, still very calm, “Is this move actually your family’s sword technique?”

Ding Peng hung his head and said, “It’s not.” Saying these two words, he felt like he was flogging himself.

However he could no longer deny it. He was, after all, an honest young man whose conscience would not permit him to lie.

Liu Ruosong said, “So where did you learn it?”

Ding Peng said, “My father inadvertently came across a page of an incomplete sword manual containing this “Heavenly Meteor” move.”

Liu Ruosong asked, “Whose sword manual is it?”

Ding Peng said, “I don’t know.” He really didn’t know.

There was no name written on the sword manual. Since he didn’t know who the sword manual belong to, he couldn’t help but believe Liu Ruosong.

He was being completely honest.

Liu Ruosong sighed and said, “Who would have thought, a young man has learned to lie.”

“I did not lie.”

Liu Ruosong said, “Where is your page from the sword manual?”

Ding Peng began, “It’s right…” He didn’t go on because he didn’t currently know where that page was.

He remembered that he had given that page to Kexiao. Although she had returned it to him, he then asked her to put it away for him. She had given everything to him, and he had given everything to her.

Those days had been so sweet. How could a young man who has just had his first taste of tenderness think of anything else? Liu Ruosong stared at him coldly and sighed, “You are still young and haven’t made any major mistakes. I don’t want to be too hard on you. So long as you promise me one thing, I will not inquire further into the origin of your page from the sword manual.” Ding Peng hung his head.

It was now obvious to him that none of them would believe him, no matter what he said. He could see the contempt in their eyes.

Liu Ruosong said, “As long as you promise me that you will never again use a sword, for the rest of your life, that you will never roam jianghu, I will let you go.” His expression became very grave, “But if you go back on your word in the future, no matter where you flee to, I will also go, to take your life.”

For a young man who had learned swordsmanship with the intention of making a name for himself* in jianghu, if he can never again use a sword or roam jianghu, what was the point of living?” But at the moment, Ding Peng had no choice but to promise. At the moment, he had no choice at all. He suddenly felt very cold, as at that moment chill wind suddenly blew in, blowing up his shirt, also lifting the veil on Madam Liu’s face…

The weather was about to change. The bright sunlight had been hidden by dark clouds.

Ding Peng’s suddenly felt like his whole body was frozen stiff, yet at the same time he felt like it was on fire.

An indescribable grief and rage spread like fire from his toes to his throat, his face and eyes burned red.

The moment the veil was lifted by the wind, he had seen the true face* of Madam Liu.
*(zhēnmiànmù-can also mean ‘true colors’)

This Madam Liu was obviously Kexiao*.
*(Kexiao means ridiculous, funny, it can all mean ‘laughable’, this will lead to some wordplay in the following conversation)

Everything was all so clear now.

He never could have imagined that the truth of the matter would be so despicable, so cruel.

He was suddenly laughing, looking at this Madam Liu, he was laughing hysterically. His laughter sounded like the dying scream of a wild beast.

He was pointing at her, laughing hysterically, “Yes, so it’s you.” Everyone looked at him in shock.

Liu Ruosong said, “Do you recognize her?”

Ding Peng said, “Of course I recognize her, if I don’t recognize her, who will.”

Liu Ruosong said, "You know who she is?”

Ding Peng said, “Li Kexiao.”

Liu Ruosong frowned and sneered, “I am not laughing, nor should you laugh. This is no laughing matter, not the least bit funny.* This is a crying matter, but you’re can’t cry.”
*(This whole sentence is a play on ‘Kexiao’)

Ding Peng should have told the truth about everything that had happened from the minute she had scampered naked into his heart until he had gone to find the old man Mei Hua for her and been hung up…until she had given him everything and he had given her everything in return. But he couldn’t say it. The facts really were so preposterous, so absurd, that if he spoke them, people would surely consider him to be a madman; an obscene and perverted madman. No matter how cruelly such a madmen was dealt with, nobody would say a word. He’d once seen with his own eyes, one such madman being lynched. Only now did he realize that the black hole he’d fallen into was a trap. This gentleman and virtuous woman didn’t just want his sword manual; they also wanted to completely destroy him as a person. Because he surely would have won this fight, he had been a threat to them. By now he should be famous in jianghu, have made a name for himself.* But now… Ding Peng suddenly lunged with all his might, throwing himself at this not at all ridiculous Madam Liu. He was ruined now, utterly ruined by her. He wanted to destroy her too. Unfortunately, some nameless youngster could never ruin a highborn, virtuous lady like Madam Liu. No sooner than he had leapt, there were already two swords thrust at him.

Mei Hua laoren shouted sternly at the top of his lungs, “I’ve kept my mouth shut throughout this, because Liu Ruosong is my younger brother*. But this is the last straw.”
*(Xiongdi-younger sworn brother).
Liu Ruosong sighed, “I had no intention of making things difficult for you. Why must you court death?”

Thunder clapped and torrential rain poured down. Sword light and lightning struck. Ding Peng’s blood stained his clothes red. His eyes were also red. He had already disregarded everything. His life was already ruined anyway, so he might as well die here, die in front of this woman. Mr. Xie didn’t intervene, neither did Zhong Zhan.

They didn’t want to deal with this anymore. This young man really didn’t deserve any sympathy. If he had rank, status and fame, if he had be born the son of some prominent family, then perhaps someone might have spoken up on his behalf, listened to his explanation.

Unfortunately he was just a poor fellow who didn’t have two sticks to rub together. The sword light glinted and pierced his shoulder. He didn’t feel any pain. He was already frantic, disoriented & numb. When a man has reached this point his survival instinct will take over. No one wants to die, indiscriminately stabbed like a mad dog stabbed. Unfortunately he was already on the road to death and it was to late to turn back. Mei Hua and Liu Ruosong’s swords encircled him like a viper. Now that he had discovered their plot, they weren’t going to let him reveal it. Now that they all believed he was guilty and deserved to be punished*, it was heaven’s law and earth’s principle** that they kill him. Liu Ruosong had already begun the fatal strike that would pierce Ding Peng’s throat.
*(zuìyǒuyīngdé-idiom meaning ‘punishment fits the crime’)
**(tiānjīngdìyì-idiom meaning ‘right and proper’)

Suddenly there was another clap of thunder, lightning and thunder struck together, and a tree on the martial arts field was blown apart. Lightning, thunderclap, thunder and fire. The huge trunk split into flames with a thunderous overwhelming force. This was the might of heaven and earth, the wrath of heaven and earth. No matter who you were, it was truly terrifying to behold. Amid the tumult, everyone involuntarily took a step back. Liu Ruosong drew back as well. Only Ding Peng rushed forward, dashing through roar and flames of the split tree trunk. He had no idea whether or not he would be able to get away or even where he was going. He had no purpose or direction. His only thought was that he must escape this trap, escape wherever he could. He used every ounce of strength he had, and when it was exhausted, he collapsed and fell into a gully. In the heavy rain, the sky was dark. The last thought he had was neither his hatred of Liu Ruosong and Kexiao (Madame Liu), nor of his own grief. His final thought was of the look in his dying father’s eyes. In the darkness those eyes had shone with love and faith. Now it was as if those bright eyes were looking at him again, still brimming with love and faith. He had cherished the thought that his son would fight to honor his name and was sure make a name for himself*. He was telling his son that he must survive.

It was the fifteenth day of the seventh month.

It was a moonlit night, a full moon.

The rain had stopped and the full moon had risen. The moon that night seemed unusually beautiful; mysteriously, coldly and heartbreakingly beautiful. Ding Peng opened his eyes and saw this full moon. He was not dead and the people who wanted him dead had not found him. Who knows if it was the will of heaven, or mere coincidence? He had fallen into that gully, the torrential rain had triggered flash floods that surged through the valley and had swept him away as well. It was a long way from where he had fallen, and climbing up from the valley, he could see a deep cave. There were mountains and trees on all sides, and the valley was damp and fresh after the rain, like a maiden (virgin) in her first bath. And like a beautiful maiden it also carried an air of mystery. This cave was like a maiden’s eyes; deep, dark and brimming with an air of mysterious attraction. As if compelled forward by this mysterious attraction, as if drawn in by this mysterious attraction, Ding Peng could not help but to enter this foreboding place. Moonlight shone in from outside revealing the murals that covered the four walls of the cave. However, these paintings did not depict the human world, rather heaven. Only in heaven could one behold such a magnificent palace, a warrior adorned in golden armor holding a golden spear, his topknot flowing, and the plumed clothes of a royal maiden. There were jewels and treasures, the likes of which could not be found on earth, spread out everywhere. The fragrant smell of flowers and fruits permeated the air. The men were like majestic gods, the women like noble immortals.

Ding Peng had been made to look foolish. All his dreams had been shattered; the once bright future had turned to darkness. On earth he had been deceived, humiliated, belittled and wronged. He had been forced down a dead end. There were no prospects for him on earth, no future, he had been completely ruined. The stain on his honor could never be washed away in this lifetime. He was never going to get ahead, even if he kept his word, he would have to watch those who had deceived, insulted and wronged him flaunt their power*. He could never defeat these people. So what was the point of living? Although the human world is hot and there is no natural justice, there is always some in heaven. Injustices suffered on earth can only be appealed in heaven. He was still young and should not think like this. But when someone has finally reached the end of his rope and has fallen to the point of no return, how could he think otherwise? He suddenly wanted to die. Dying was indeed much easier than living like this, also more agreeable. Being deceived, deceived by the first woman he’d fallen in love with would be too much for anyone to endure; enough to make it impossible for a young man to go on living. He suddenly found his sword still firmly grasped in his hand. This sword could not lift him up to fame and glory, so it would be better to die under it. He raised the sword, preparing to pierce his throat with the tip of the blade.
*(Yàowǔyángwēi-to show off one’s military strength; idiom meaning strut around, bluster)

Just then, a gust of wind suddenly blew over. There seemed to be a shadow within the wind. A dim shadow, with a faint fragrance, flew past him, then just as suddenly disappeared. The sword had also disappeared from his hand. Ding Peng was startled. He felt a chill rising from the soles of his feet, and suddenly his whole body was ice-cold. Could there be a ghost here? This cave was already mysterious enough, but now the flickering shadows of ghosts seemed to fill the darkness. But since he was already determined to die, why should he fear ghosts? A ghost is nothing but a dead person. One can die without a sword. Ding Peng hated that not only did people want to bully him, but on the point of death, even ghosts wanted to play tricks on him. He gritted his teeth and used all his strength to ram his head into the rock wall. Whether a human owed him an apology or a ghost played tricks on him, he must settle these accounts after he died. But he did not die. His head did not hit the wall, because another gust of wind blew and a person appeared in front of it. His head collided with this person’s body. This was worse than hitting the wall, because no person on earth could have appeared so quickly. He was shocked and drew back. That’s when he finally saw this ‘person’, a stunning beauty with a high (hair) bun and plumed garments, just like the immortal in the mural. Had she come out of the mural? Her left hand held a wicker basket full of flowers, her right hand held a sword. Ding Peng’s sword. She was looking at Ding Peng, smiling. Her smile was sweet, soft, pure and noble. Whatever else she may be, at least she didn’t look frightening. Once Ding Peng finally caught his breath and could speak again, he immediately opened his mouth to ask, “Are you a person or a ghost?” It was a ridiculous question, but one that anybody in this situation would ask.

With a hint of amusement in her eyes, she retorted, “Do you know what day today is?”

Ding Peng said, “It’s the fifteenth day of the seventh month.”

This stunningly beautiful woman who appeared to have come out of the mural said, “Do you know what the fifteenth day of the seventh month is?”

Ding Peng finally remembered that today was the Mid-Autumn Festival*, it was the festival of ghosts. Tonight the Gates of Hell are opened. Tonight all the ghosts from the Mansion of Hell have arrived in the world. Ding Peng blurted out, “Are you a ghost?”
*[Mid-Autumn Festival-traditional moon viewing festival. I am a little confused here. Everything in the text says it is the fifteenth day of the seventh month, but according to the net the Mid-autumn fest is the fifteenth of the eighth month]

This beautiful woman sweetly said, “Do I look like a ghost?” She didn’t seem to be.

Ding Peng couldn’t help but to ask, “Are you a heavenly immortal?”

The beauty’s smiled faded a bit, “I very much want you to believe I’m a heavenly immortal, but I dare not lie. Because if I pretend to be an immortal I will be taken prisoner and cast into the 18th level of hell.”

Ding Peng said, “Whatever you are, you’re not a person.”

She said, “Of course I’m not person.”

Ding Peng involuntarily took two steps back and said, ”You… what are you?”

“I am a fox.”

“A fox?”

“Could it be that you have never heard of a ‘fox’ on earth?” asked the beauty. Ding Peng had heard of them. There were many legends related to “foxes”. There were some who were very beautiful, some who were very frightening. Because ‘foxes’ were enigmatic.

If they liked you, they would give you all the glory and wealth in the world and luck beyond your wildest dreams. But they can also charm you, til your soul vanishes and your bones are scattered, charm you to death.

Even if no one had ever seen them, no one could deny their existence either.

The only constant in all the legends was that foxes often took human form, moreover, they liked to take the form of a beautiful woman.

Ding Peng looked at the beautiful woman in front of him with amazement, his freshly dried clothes were now damp with cold sweat.

Had he really met a “fox”?

The pale moonlight shone in and illuminated her beautiful pale face, so pale that it seemed transparent.

Only someone who had never seen sunlight would have a complexion like her. Of course a ‘fox’ wouldn’t have been exposed to sunlight.

Ding Peng suddenly laughed.

The beauty seemed slightly baffled. No one who met a fox immortal had ever been able to laugh.

She couldn’t help but to ask, “Do you think this is funny?”

“This is no laughing matter,” Ding Peng said. “But you also don’t scare me either.”


“Because I’m not the least bit afraid of you.” Ding Peng said, “Whether you’re a ghost or a fox, I am not scared of you.”

“Everybody is afraid of ghosts and foxes.” She asked, “What makes you so unexpectedly fearless?”

Ding Peng said, “Because I want to die anyway.” He was still laughing. “If you are a ghost, I will also become a ghost after I die, why should I be afraid of you?”

The beauty sighed, “It’s certainly true that after someone dies, there is nothing to be afraid anymore.”

Ding Peng said, “That’s right!” The beauty said,

“But why should such a young man want to die?” she asked.

Ding Peng also sighed, “Sometimes young people want to die.”

“You really want to die?”


“You must die?”

“I must die.” The beauty said,

“Too bad you forgot one thing,” said the beauty.

“What?” he asked.

She said, “You haven’t died yet. You’re still a person.” Ding Peng acknowledge this.

“The fact is I am a fox, a fox immortal, and I have magical powers, you don’t,” she said. “So if I don’t want you do not die, you will never die. Unless…”

“Unless what?”

“Unless you first tell me why it is you must die?”

Ding Peng suddenly jumped up and shouted, “Why should I tell you? Why do you want me to tell you?” Whenever he thought about that incident he was immediately overcome with grief and anger, “I refuse to tell you. Can you drag it out of me? Nothing matters except death. If a man is determined to die, why should he be afraid of what others can do to him?”

The beauty looked at him intently and suddenly smiled again, “Now I ‘m convinced. It seems that you truly want to die.”

Ding Peng said, “I absolutely do.”

She suddenly asked, “What is your name?”

“Why do you ask my name?”

“When you die and become a ghost, we’ll be just like neighbors,” she said. “Maybe we’ll see each other often, so of course I want to know your name.”

“Why not tell me your name first?” He said, “A fox must have a name too.”

The beauty sweetly said, “I have a name. I will tell you.” She said, “My name is Qing Qing.” Qing Qing was dressed head to toe in a dress as blue as a clear spring sky, as blue as a clear lake under clear sky. Her beauty was as mysterious and hazy as a distant mountain reflected in the lake. Qing Qing’s waist was as slender and supple as a willow in a spring breeze. Her scimitar was sheathed in a sterling silver scabbard, the top of its hilt inlaid with a lustrous, rounded pearl. Her eyes were even brighter and gentler than the pearl. Ding Peng was not the least bit scared of her. Whether she was a human or a fox, she was not frightening. If Qing Qing was a human, she’s certainly a beautiful one. If she was a fox, she was a kind, gentle and beautiful fox, who would never hurt anyone. Her scimitar also looked like it would not hurt someone.

Ding Peng suddenly asked, “You use a saber (dāo) too?”

Qing Qing, "Why can’t I use a saber?

He asked, “Have you ever killed anyone?”

Qing Qing shook her head, “A person who knows how to use a saber, doesn’t necessarily want to kill people.”

Ding Peng sighed and said, “People who kill don’t necessarily use a saber.” He now realized that some people could kill people with using a saber. This was a far crueler way to kill someone.

Qing Qing asked, “Have you met this person?”

Ding Peng grunted, “En!”

”So even though he didn’t kill you with a saber, you still have to die,” she said.
Ding Peng smiled bitterly, “I’d rather he had killed me with a saber.”

Qing Qing said, “Can you tell me what happened to you, so I can seen whether or not you must die?” He couldn’t tell anyone about this, because no one would believe it even he did.

But Qing Qing was not a person. She was a fox.

A fox is far cleverer than a person and could surely tell if he was telling the truth.

Ding Peng was afraid of her laughing at his ignorance, so he finally told her of the calamity that had befallen him.

If you reveal what is in your heart, telling someone even though you really don’t want to say it, then even if you die, you will die without regrets.

Ding Peng heaved a deep sigh and said, “Do you think that a person who has gone this ought to die?

Qing Qing listened quietly then let out a soft “yes.”

Ding Peng asked, “Can I die now?”

Qing Qing said, “You can die!” Whether it was a person or a fox, both thought he really should die. It was indeed better to die rather than go on living like this.

Ding Peng sighed again and said, “Just go!”

“Why do you want me to leave?” she asked.

“When a man dies, he won’t look good,” he said. “Why would you want to stay here to watch?”

She replied, “There are many ways to die, however. You should choose a more attractive way to die.”

Ding Peng said, “Death is death. All death is the same. Why should I choose an attractive way to die?”

She said, “For me!”

Ding Peng didn’t understand, “For you?”

“I have never seen someone die.” Qing Qing said, “I’m begging you to die a pretty death. Let me watch, okay?”

Ding Peng laughed bitterly. He’d never imagined that anyone would actually make such a ridiculous request of him. Unexpectedly, he did not refuse, “I’m going to die anyway, it doesn’t matter how.”

Qing Qing sweetly replied, “That’s really kind of you.”

He said, “It’s just a pity that I really don’t know which the best way to die is.”

Qing Qing said, “I know.”

Ding Peng said, “Okay, I will die how you want me to die.”

Qing Qing said, “Not far from here, there is a place called the Valley of Sorrow.* In the valley there is a Forgetfulness Grass^. An ordinary person will forget all their worries and sorrows after taking only one leaf of Forgetfulness Grass.” She looked at Ding Peng, “The people of the world are so foolish. Who can truly forget all their worries and sorrow?”
*(Yōuchóu-worry, sadness, troubles, sorrow; gǔ –could be valley of or (_ ) valley. I went with Valley of Sorrow as it was more poetic)
^(wàng yōu cǎo-lit. forget sorrow (worry) grass; daylily (Hemerocallis fulva)].

Ding Peng replied, “Only the dead!”

She sighed softly, “What you say is true, only dead people have no worry.”

“That kind of death is beautiful?" asked Ding Peng.

She said, “As far as I know, this is the sweetest way to die, whether in heaven or on earth.”

Ding Peng asked, “Is that place far from here?”

She said, “Not far!” She turned around and walked slowly towards the darkest part of the cave. Sadness and darkness are always inseparable. The Valley of Sorrow was naturally located in the darkness, an endless darkness that seemed to go on forever. Ding Peng couldn’t see Qing Qing, nor could he hear the sound of her footsteps. He could only smell the faint, delicate, scent of her body. He followed her scent and walked on. The cave was far deeper than he imagined. He didn’t know how long he’d been walking or where he was going. The smell became stronger. Besides hers, there was also the fragrance of flowers. The smell of the flowers seemed to become vulgar when compared to her sweet scent.

“Is she really a fox?” Ding Peng didn’t believe it. He didn’t want to believe it. He was still young, if she was a person…

“I am already going to die anyway. Whether she is a human or a ghost, what does it have to do with me?” Ding Peng sighed to himself and stopped thinking about it. “Are there also flowers in the Valley of Sorrow?”

Qing Qing said, “Of course there are. There are all kinds of flowers. I guarantee you have never seen so many flowers.” Her voice was gentle, like a spring breeze wafting in from a distant mountain. “I guarantee you’ve never seen such a stunningly beautiful place.” She hadn’t lied or even exaggerated. The Valley of Sorrow was indeed an unfortunate and very beautiful place, even more so under the moonlight, as beautiful as a dream.

A person who has just emerged from the endless darkness and suddenly finds himself in this beautiful place, would find it hard to believe they weren’t dreaming.

Ding Peng couldn’t help but ask, “This is not a dream?”


“Why is this place called the Valley of Sorrow?”

“Because this is the other side of the boundary between mortals and gods, neither can come here as they please.”


“Because when a god comes here, he is demoted to being a human. When a man comes here, he becomes a ghost.”

“Only dying men and gods who have been demoted to mortals have the ability to come here?”


“That’s why this place is called the Valley of Sorrow?”

“Yes.” Qing Qing said, “Whether it is god or man, so long as you come here, you will meet misfortune. Only we foxes, who are neither human nor ghost, can come and go as we please.” What she said was really too astonishing and mysterious.

But Ding Peng did not doubt it.

This was not the human world. There was no trace of mortals ever having been here.

No matter how they die, if a person could die here, then they should no longer have anything to complain about.

Ding Peng said, “Where is that Forgetfulness Grass?” Qing Qing did not respond to his words. She was staring at block of bluestone (a type of limestone) off in the distance. The white jade-like block of stone towered like a lonely giant under the moonlight. There seemed to be no flowers on the rock, only one tuft of dark green grass, greener than an emerald and more beautiful than a flower.
*[The text says “a kind (type) of white jade rock” Yīkuài báiyù bān de yánshí. I am just using white jade rock/stone and it reads better.]

Ding Peng asked, “That’s the Forgetfulness Grass?”

Qing Qing finally nodded and said, “Yes.” She took his arm and led him towards that block of stone, “The leaves of the Forgetfulness Grass only blossom once a year, only three at a time. You have come a little late, its leaves are about to wither.”

Ding Peng said, “This is merely a poisonous weed, nothing more, it’s hard to believe it’s so precious.”

Qing Qing said, “This is not a poisonous weed. This is Forgetfulness Grass. Forgetting one’s sorrows is no easy thing.” She asked Ding Peng, “Wouldn’t you say so?”

Ding Peng said, “Yes.”

Just then, a dark shadow suddenly flew in, blocking the moonlight like a black cloud.

Of course, it was not a black cloud, merely a pale eagle.

The eagle circled under the moonlight. It hovered like a black cloud above the white jade rock.

Suddenly there was a puzzled expression on Qing Qing’s pale face. She furrowed her brow and said, “It seems like you’re not the only one who’s looking for this Forgetfulness Grass today!”

Ding Peng looked up at the eagle in the moonlight and said, "Could that actually be a god?”

Qing Qing shook her head and said, “It’s just an eagle!”

Ding Peng said, “Why would an eagle look for Forgetfulness Grass? Do eagles also have worries and troubles?”

Before Qing Qing could open her mouth to respond, the eagle suddenly swooped down like a meteor towards the Forgetfulness Grass on the rock.

The eagle’s movements were much faster than anyone else, and even more accurate.

Unbelievably, Qing Qing was even faster. She gently scolded, “Go.”

As she uttered the rebuke, her body had already flown up like a drifting cloud, floating up onto the rock.

He sleeves also like a floated like a cloud as she brandished them towards the eagle’s eyes.

The eagle let out a long cry, soaring off in a dignified manner. In the blink of an eye it had disappeared into the sinister, distant darkness.

The full moon regained its brightness.

Ding Peng sighed to himself.

If he had her ability*, why would he need to be afraid of Liu Ruosong? Why would he want to die?
*(shēnfǎ- pose or motion of one’s body in martial arts)

Unfortunately, ability like hers was something that no mortal could ever aspire to.

He saw Qing Qing beckoning to him, “Can you come up here?”

“I’ll try!”

The smooth, mirror-like rock was slippery and unforgiving. He wasn’t sure if he could make it to the top.

But he definitely had to try.

Whether she was a human or a fox, she was always a female, and he didn’t want her to look down on him.

He tried over and over. His whole body was beaten black and blue.

She stood leisurely on the rock and watched him fall again and again. She did not pull him up, nor did intend to.

“No matter what it is you want, you must rely on your own ability.”

“A person without ability won’t live a good life, nor will he die a good death.”

He gritted his teeth and began climbing again. This time he almost succeeded. He nearly reached the flat top of the rock.

Just then the eagle suddenly flew back. The wind from its wings struck him head on.

He fell again. This fall was worse. The higher you climb, the harder you’ll fall.

Dazed, he seemed to hear the eagle sneer, ““Is someone like you fit to seek the Forgotten Grass?”

However, this was only an eagle, not a god. An eagle can’t sneer, much less speak. A man riding on the eagle’s back had spoken.

The eagle was circling, and the man had flown down, like a leaf landing lightly on a rock.

A mortal would never have such ethereal ability*.
*(qīngmiào de shēnfǎ-wonderfully gentle movement in his martial arts).

His body gave off a golden light under the bright moonlight. He wore a three-foot long robe* woven from golden silk.
*(páozi- Chinese style lined gown)

Because this man was only three feet tall, his three-foot long gown dragged on the ground.

His beard was even longer than his golden robe. His sword was longer than his beard.

The three-foot tall man carried a four-foot-long sword on his back, its golden scabbard dragged on the ground.

The man really didn’t look like a person either.

Maybe he was not a man at all, but a god. This was never meant to be a place where mortals could come.

Why should a man who couldn’t succeed on earth come here?

If a man couldn’t defeat another man, how could he compete with a god or a fox?

Ding Peng suddenly regretted ever having come here.

The golden robe, golden beard and golden sword all emitted golden light.

The old man’s (laoren) body was less than four-feet tall, but his demeanor and aura were like those of a ten-foot tall giant.

He suddenly asked, “Are you the one who scared my son away just now?”

He was asking Qing Qing, yet he hadn’t so much as glanced at her, as if there was no one in the world worthy of bestowing his gaze upon.

“You’re son?” Qing Qing laughed, “Is that bird your son?”

The old man said, “That’s not a bird. It is an eagle, a divine eagle, a god among eagles.”

He spoke with a solemn and thoughtful expression, for what he said was in now way a lie or a joke.

Qing Qing was still laughing, “Isn’t an eagle also a bird, your son is a bird. Are you also a bird?”

The old man was furious. He was already half bald and when he was enraged his remaining hairs stood up one by one.

It is said when a person has practice qinggong to a very high level, his hair will literally stand on end when he is angry.

However, there was no one in the entire world who had trained their qinggong to such a high level. No person could even hope to reach this level of power.

Yet Qing Qing didn’t seem the least bit afraid, because she was not human.

She was a fox.

It was said that foxes were not afraid of anything.

Unexpectedly, the old man’s anger quickly subsided and he said coldly, “You are able to startle my eagle son (yīng er), your power is really not weak.”

Qing Qing said, “Oh!”

The old man said, “But I won’t kill you!”

He proudly said, “Because there are only two people left in the world who are qualified enough to be killed by me.”

Qing Qing said, “Aiya! (damn)”

“What do you mean by ‘aiya’?” asked the old man.

She said, “Oh, that means you can still kill me if you really want to.”


Qing Qing said, “Because I am not a human being at all.”

The old man asked, “What thing are you?”

“I am not a thing. I am a fox,” she replied.

The old man sneered and said, “Fox spirits are something else altogether, not even fit to allow your old man to draw his sword.”
(wǒ laorenjia-cocky way of referring to self)

Not only was he extremely imposing, he was also extremely bold.

He still had not even glanced at Qing Qing, strolling towards the Forgetfulness Grass with his hands behind his back.

–Could someone like him have sorrows to forget?

Qing Qing suddenly blocked his way and said, “You must not disturb this Forgetfulness Grass. You can’t even touch it.”

The old man didn’t even bother to ask her why.

Now that she was right in front of him, he couldn’t help but look at her. But he still did not look up at her face.

He kept his focus on the saber* in her belt, the light green handle of the curved saber. Qing Qing’s scimitar brightly glinted under the full moon. The old man suddenly stretched out a bird claw-like hand and said, “Bring it here!”
*[Dāo-a single edged bladed weapon, as opposed to jian-sword-a double edged weapon. Dāo is often translated as knife, but knife has a different connotation in the west. So I went with saber. Dāo can also refer to a blow from a saber.]

Qing Qing asked, “Bring what?”

“You’re saber.”

“Why should I allow you to hold my saber?” she asked.

The old man said, “Because I want to see it.”

“You have already seen it.”

“I want to see the saber,” he said, “not the scabbard.”

Qing Qing said, “I advise you, it’s quite enough to just look at the scabbard, never at the saber.”

The old man said, “Why?”

Qing Qing said, “Because this saber is absolutely not to be seen.”

She sighed softly, “Because everyone who has seen this saber has already died under it.”

The old man suddenly lifted his head to look at her face. Her face was pale and beautiful, so poignant and mysterious, so beautiful that any man could not help but be moved by a single glance at it. This old man’s reaction was completely different. His pupils suddenly contracted, and his eyes suddenly revealed an expression of extreme fear. He involuntarily gasped and cried out, “It’s you!”

Could this old man have seen Qing Qing before? Could he have known Qing Qing before? Suddenly, the old man shook his head again and said, ““No it’s not, absolutely not. You are still young. You are too young.”

Qing Qing was also felt slightly bewildered and said, “"Do I remind you of someone?”

The old man said, “I don’t recognize you, I only recognize this saber. I could not be mistaken, could I?”

He suddenly asked Qing Qing, “Are there seven characters engraved on this saber?”

Qing Qing answered his question with a question, “Which seven characters?”

The old man said, ‘Listen to the Spring Rain All Night in the Small Building’.

‘Listen to the Spring Rain All Night in the Small House.’ This was a poem, a very beautiful poem, so poignant and heartbreakingly beautiful.

Ding Peng had also read this poem.

When he read or heard this line of poetry, his heart would be filled with a sense of melancholy; a melancholy of “wanting to say more, wanting to say no more”, a beautiful feeling.

But Qing Qing and the old man reacted differently when the seven characters were spoken. The old man’s hand trembled and his face changed. When she heard these seven characters, Qing Qing’s face also changed. She suddenly dropped the basket of flowers in her hand and grabbed the hilt of the saber.

The curved hilt of the saber.

The hilt of the Qing Qing’s scimitar was also curved.

Chapter 4-Scimitar

The basket of flowers tumbled down from the top of the bluestone, scattering the flowers like colorful rain.

It was floral rain, not spring rain.

There was no spring rain here, only the moon, the full moon.

Why did they have such a strange reaction to hearing this line of poetry under this full moon?

Qing Qing’s hand tightly grasped the curved hilt of the green scimitar.

The old man kept his eyes on her hand.

He no longer needed to ask. She never would have reacted this way if the seven words hadn’t been on the saber.

There was an extremely strange look in the old man’s eyes. Was it surprise, joy or fear?

He suddenly looked up at the sky, laughing manically, “This is indeed the saber. Heaven has eyes*. I have finally found this saber.” He unsheathed his sword while laughing maniacally.
*(there is justice, justice has been done)
A three-foot man with a four-foot long sword, but there was absolutely nothing funny about the sword in this man’s hand.

Once this sword made its move, absolutely no one would still notice that he was a dwarf.

For as soon as this sword was unsheathed, a powerful aura of compelling sword energy (qi) was unleashed.

Even at the bottom of the rock, Ding Peng could already feel this sword qi. The bone-chilling, murderous sword qi forced him to shut his eyes. When he opened is eyes again, all he could see was the sword light flying everywhere. The sword light enveloped Qing Qing. The sword whistled as the sword qi split the air.

The old man’s voice could still be heard could amid the whistle of the sword wind. He heard him say word for word, “You are not going to draw your saber (now that I’ve drawn mine).” Qing Qing had yet to draw her saber.

With Qing Qing’s scimitar still in its curved scabbard, the old man suddenly shouted, “Kill!” The shout was like thunder, the sword light like lighting, but even lightning was not so bright, so fast! In the instant the sword flashed, Qing Qing’s body dropped from the top of the rock, like a flower petal that suddenly withered and fell from the stem. She dropped to the ground from the top of the ten-foot rock and collapsed. The old man didn’t let her off. He dropped down from the rock as gently and slowly as a leaf. He wielded his unsheathed sword, pointing the tip right at Qing Qing’s heart. This sword was absolutely a deadly sword, accurate, vicious, fast and merciless. Ding Peng never would have thought that such swordsmanship could exist in the mortal world. This old man was definitely not human. He was a god. A god of death. Qing Qing lay fallen beside him. She had absolutely no ability to resist or dodge. When he saw the sword coming down, Ding Peng had suddenly leapt over and threw himself across Qing Qing’s body. “I already want to die, I might as well die already.” He had suddenly felt an uncontrollable urge. No matter what, he and Qing Qing came here together. Regardless of whether she was a human or a fox, in the end, she was good to him. How could he possibly watch her die under someone else’s sword? But there was no harm in him dying under another person’s sword. Since he already intended to die, what did it matter how he died. He threw himself across Qing Qing. He was willing to take a sword for her. The sword light flashed and pierced his back, but he did not feel any pain. Real pain, on the contrary, does not cause people to suffer. He only felt very cold; an irresistible chill suddenly pierced his back and penetrated to his marrow. Just then, he saw Qing Qing pull out her saber. Qing Qing’s scimitar was green. By the time the green sword light flew up, Ding Peng’s eyes were already closed. He did not see her scimitar, he only heard the old man cry out in alarm. Then he fell into darkness, vast, bottomless, infinite darkness.

Suddenly there was a light in the darkness, moonlight, a full moon. When Ding Peng opened his eyes he saw a full moon like a circle of ice. He also saw Qing Qing’s eyes, which were even gentler than the moonlight. Whether in heaven or on earth, there would never be a second pair of eyes this beautiful. He was still beside Qing Qing. Regardless of whether he was dead or alive, in heaven or on earth, Qing Qing was still beside him, her eyes glistening with tears. She was crying for him. Ding Peng suddenly laughed and said, “It seems like I no longer need the Forgetfulness Grass, but I feel like this is a much better way to die anyway.” He reached out his hand to gently wipe the tearstains from her face. “I never thought that there would be someone to cry for me when I died.”

Qing Qing’s expression changed, however, even her body began to tremble and she suddenly asked, “Am I really crying?”

Ding Peng said, “Really. Not only are you crying, you are crying for me.”

Qing Qing’s expression became even stranger, as if she’d become unspeakably afraid. It seemed like, to her, shedding tears was akin to something terrifying. However, it seemed that in the midst of her fear were born seeds of indescribable joy. This was an extremely strange reaction. Ding Peng could not guess why she had reacted this way. He couldn’t help but say, “No matter what, I will always die for you, you weep for me…”

Qing Qing suddenly interrupted him and said, “You have not died, nor will you die.”

He asked, “Why?”
“Because you already died once,” she said. “Now that you’re already here, you will not die again.”

Ding Peng finally realized that this was not the beautiful Valley of Sorrow, but somewhere even more beautiful. The full moon was outside the window, which was full of fresh flowers. He was lying on a bed that was softer than snow. A pearl hung before the bed, so bright, its light outshined the moonlight. He felt as if he had been here before, but he also knew that if he had been here, it must have been in a dream. For there was never such a magnificent palace on earth, much less such a pearl.

“What is this place?”

Qing Qing bowed her head and quietly said, “This is my home.”

Ding Peng finally realized why he’d just had a feeling of déjà vu about this place. He had seen this place before. He had seen it in the pictures. The four walls of the cave had been covered in murals, not of earth, but of heaven. He couldn’t help asking, “Are you the only one here?” Qing Qing didn’t answer.

“There is no one here," said someone outside the little door with the beaded curtain draped over it. A grannie* with hair so white it looked silver lifted the beaded curtain with a cane and slowly walked in. She was tall with a dignified and noble manner. Her hair was completely white, but her back was still straight and her eyes still bright. *(lǎopópo-term of endearment for an old woman)

Qing Qing stood up with her head hanging down and quietly cried out, “Grandma!”* This grannie was Qing Qing’s paternal grandmother (zǔmǔ). A young and beatuful fox lady^ returns to her fox den with a down and out young man to meet her strict and eccentric grandmother… This kind of thing was only supposed to happen in mysterious folk tales, but it actually happened to Ding Peng. What else will happen in the future? What will they do to him? Ding Peng could not predict? A mortal like him was helpless in a place like this.
*(Nǎinai-informal address for paternal grandmother)
^ (húnǚ-fox lady- in folk stories, a beautiful girl who will seduce you then reveals herself as a ghost)

Grannie looked at him coldly and added, “You should know that there isn’t even a single person here, because none of us are human, we’re foxes.”

Ding Peng only acknowledged, “I know.”

Grannie said, "Do you know that this is not a place where mortals should come?

Ding Peng said, “I know.”

“Now that you’ve come, you don’t regret it?” asked the old woman

Ding Peng said, “I don’t regret it.”

He was telling the truth.

What was there to regret for someone who was already about to die?

The only way he could remain on earth was to be bullied and wronged. So why shouldn’t he come to this other world?

Although they were foxes, they treated him much better than those who considered themselves to be gentlemen.

Grannie asked, “If we want you to stay, will you stay?”

“I will.”

She asked, “Have you really grown weary of the world of men?”


Grannie asked, “Why?”

He replied, “I…I have neither friends nor loose acquaintances out there. Even if I die in the gutter, no one will collect my body or shed a tear for me.” The more he talked, the worse he felt, until even his voice was all choked up.

Grannie’s gaze gradually softened and she said, “You took that sword on Qingqing’s behalf, and you did it willingly?"

“Of course I’m willing to die,” Ding Peng said, “even if she wants me to die for her now, I’ll still die.”


Ding Peng said, “I don’t know why. I only know that after I die, at least she will shed tears for.”

She had a strange look in her eyes, and suddenly asked Qing Qing, “You have already shed tears for him?” Qing Qing nodded silently, and a faint red blush actually rose on her pale face.

Grannie stared at her for a long time, and then turned her head and stared at Ding Peng for a long time as well.

Her stern gaze gradually softened, and she suddenly heaved a long sigh and murmured, "Is this fate, or is it evil?.. Is this fate, or is it evil?..” She tossed the words around and said them who knew how many times, as if even she didn’t know the answer to that question herself.

She sighed deeply and said, “You have now died once for her, and she has shed tears for you.”

Ding Peng said, “But I…”

Before he could speak, grannie suddenly shouted, “You come with me!” Ding Peng stood up, only to find that his wound had been bandaged, and a refreshing medicinal smell emanated from the clean white cotton cloth.

That blow should have been absolutely fatal, but now was he able to not only stand up, he didn’t feel any pain.

He followed the old woman out of the small door with the beaded curtain. He couldn’t help but look back.

Qing Qing was also watching him furtively, with an even stranger expression in her eyes. He didn’t know whether she was shy or happy he was being scolded.

Outside was a garden, an enormous garden.

The full moon was hanging high and all kinds of flowers were in full bloom. The flowers that should bloom in the seventh month were all here and in full bloom. The flowers that shouldn’t bloom in the seventh month were also here and in full bloom.

The paths between the flowers were lined with glittering jade cobblestones. At the end of the path was a small house.

Grannie took Ding Peng up to the small building. A man in black stood with his hands clasped behind his back. He was staring at a scroll* hanging on the wall, lost in his thoughts.
*(tiáofú- wall scroll {for painting or calligraphy})

There were only seven words on the banner, and each character was written in a solitary and refined manner: ‘Listen to the Spring Rain All Night in the Small House’ When she saw the back of this man in black, grannie’s eyes became tender.

When the man turned around, Ding Peng was taken aback by what he saw.

If he were not a man, if he was not older, Ding Peng would absolutely believe this was Qing Qing.

His brow, his eyes, his mouth, his nose and his expression were all identical to Qing Qing.

Ding Peng was thinking, “If this man is not Qing Qing’s father, he must be her older brother.” He seemed a little too old to be Qing Qing’s big brother, and a little too young to be her father.

Ding Peng couldn’t actually tell how old he was.

His complexion was exactly like Qing Qing’s, so pale it was almost transparent.

He was not as respectful as Qing Qing when he saw the grannie. He merely smiled faintly and said, “Well?”

Grannie sighed and said, “I don’t know what should be done. It’s up to you.”

He laughed, “I knew you push this matter off on me!”

She also laughed, “If I can’t push it off on you, who can I push it off on?” Even though they were conversing lightly, their expressions seemed to carry an overwhelming affection.

Their manner seemed like neither that of mother and son, nor grandmother and grandson.

This surprised Ding Peng.

Grannie then said something that surprised him even more, “You are Qing Qing’s grandfather and the head of the family. So it is natural to yield to you to decide in a matter like this.” This man was actually Qing Qing’s (zǔfù-paternal) grandfather.

At most, he seemed to be no more than close to middle aged. Ding Peng would never have dreamed that he and this grannie were a married couple.

The man was looking at him as if he could clearly see what was going through Ding Peng’s mind. With a smile he said, “You should know by now that we are foxes. So you should not be too surprised by anything you see here.” He smiled pleasantly, “Because we do have some remarkable abilities* that mortals couldn’t dream of.” Ding Peng was also smiling.
*(shéntōng-magical powers, remarkable abilities)

He seemed to have gradually grown accustomed to being around them. He realized that these foxes weren’t as scary as the legends made them out to be.

Although they were foxes, they had humanity, and were even gentler and more kind-hearted than most people.

The man in black was clearly satisfied with his attitude and said, “I never thought I would marry Qing Qing to a mortal. But once you died for her, she shed tears for you.” His smile faded, “You must understand: Foxes never shed tears. Fox tears are more precious than blood. She wept for you, which means she was genuinely moved by your true love. If you were able to meet her, it means that you two are fated* for each other." In both the human world and the fox world, ‘true love’ and ‘fate’ are inseparable.
*(yuan-fate, karma, predestined affinity)

The man in green said, “This is why I am unwilling to break up this fated love* between you.” Grannie suddenly butted it, “You’ve promised to allow Qing Qing to marry him?” He said, “I promise.”
*(qíngyuán-predestined love, love affinity)

Ding Peng hadn’t said a word because he was completely bewildered.

He never thought he would come to a fox world, much less that he would marry a fox girl. —

What would happen to a mortal who took a fox girl as his wife? —

Was it possible for a mortal to survive in the world of foxes? —

Could the fox’s magical abilities help this mortal?

These questions had never crossed his mind before, and were now simply unimaginable.

All he knew was that his destiny was undoubtedly going to change from then on.

Whatever future fate had in store for him, he had nothing to complain about.

Because he had been at the end of his rope, a dead man.

Most importantly, he was convinced that Qing Qing did indeed have true feelings* for him.
*(zhēn-true qing-love, feelings, affection; ie-True Love)

Amidst his confusion, he seemed to hear the man in black explain, “Although you may enjoy many things a mortal could never dream of after you become our granddaughter’s husband, and although we have always been carefree here, we also have one taboo.” “If you become our granddaughter’s husband, you can never again return to the mortal world.” “It is only because we know that you are tired of the human world that we have taken you in.” “As long as you promise that you will not violate our taboo, you are now our grandson-in-law." He no longer had any family or friends in the world of men. He had only been insulted, bullied and humiliated in the world of men.

But this fox girl had true feelings* for him.

“I promise!” Ding Peng heard himself saying, “I promise.”

Grannie also smiled and came over to hug him, “We don’t have anything for you either, so considered this our engagement gift to you.” What she gave him was a scimitar.

A green scimitar.

A green scimitar with a blade that was also green, as green as the distant hills, as green as the spring trees, as green as a lake in the eyes of lovers.

Sure enough, there were seven characters engraved on the green scimitar: ‘Listen to the Spring Rain All Night in the Small House’. This was a deep valley, serene and secluded, bounded by unattainable precipices. It seemed as if there was simply no way out.

Even if there was a way out, it was by no means accessible to mortals.

The valley was not large, even though there were palaces, gardens and pavilions. Although the scene was the same as the one in the cave murals, it was only a fraction of what was in those paintings.

Qing Qing’s parents had both passed away. ----

Foxes can also die?

Qing Qing had a clever servant called Xi’er who liked to smile, revealing two very deep dimples. ----

Was Xi’er a fox too?

They had eight devoted servants, all with grey hair, that were nevertheless vigorous and spry. ----

Were they all foxes?

They were the only people in the valley. No stranger had ever steeped foot in the place.

Life in the valley was comfortable and peaceful, far more than in the human world…

Now that Ding Peng had become accustomed to life in the valley, he became accustomed to the habit of carrying the scimitar on his waist.

He always carried the scimitar in his belt, except when he was sleeping.

It was a belt made of gold and white jade.

But he knew the scimitar was far more precious than this belt.

On their third day as newlyweds, Qing Qing said to him, “Grandma must be really fond of you, that’s the only way she would give you this scimitar. You must cherish it.” He also hadn’t forgotten what Qing Qing had said to that mysterious old dwarf in the Valley of Sorrow that day, “This saber must absolutely not be looked at. Anyone who has seen this saber has died under it.” That old dwarf had certainly died under the saber as well.----

Was he a man, a ghost or a fox?----

How did he know that the saber was engraved with the words, ‘Listen to the Spring Rain All Night in the Small House’? —

What exactly was the mysterious origin or this saber, its mysterious power?

It wasn’t that Ding Peng hadn’t asked these questions, but Qing Qing always cautioned him, “This is something you’re better off not knowing. There’s bound to be disaster if you know.” Now, he had not only seen the saber, he possessed it.

He should have been quite content.

However, one day he wanted return it to Qing Qing.

Qing Qing was baffled, “Why don’t you want this saber?”

“Because it’s useless to me!" He said, “This saber is basically just scrap metal in my hands.”

“Because I have not learned your saber technique!”

Qing Qing finally understood what he meant.

“If you want to learn my saber technique, I will teach you!”

She didn’t really want to impart this saber technique to him, because she knew there was no benefit to a mortal in mastering it.

Although this saber technique could bring a man infinite power, it could also bring him disaster.

Yet, in the end, she still taught it to him, because she never refused him, never disappointed him.

Although she was an orphan, she was far more virtuous* and tender than most men’s wives in the mortal world.
*(xiánhuì-perfect in traditional roles of a wife)

Anyone with a wife like her should be content.

This kind of saber technique was not of the human world. It’s variations and power was beyond the dreams of mortals.

It never crossed Ding Peng’s mind that he would be able to train in such a miraculous, exquisite saber technique. But he had perfected it.

In terms of practicing martial arts, even Qing Qing had to admit that he was a genius in this respect.

She trained for seven years to perfect this technique. He accomplished it in three.

Life in the valley was not only comfortable and peaceful, not to mention the smell of flowers in all four seasons and fresh fruit for the taking.

The rarest treasures of the human world would seem worthless here.

There was a cellar in the small house* filled with silk from Tianzhu, gems from Persia, pearls and antique jade; all kinds of unimaginably rare and exquisite objects.
(小楼, xiǎo lóu-like in the poem)

Qing Qing was not only a gentle, beautiful and virtuous* wife, she was also docile and obedient to her husband.

He should be very content.

However, he had lost weight.

Not only had he lost weight, his complexion was pallid and he was often melancholy and distant.

And he also had frequent nightmares.

Every time he woke up from a dream, he would suddenly jump out of bed covered in cold sweat.

Qing Qing questioned him repeatedly before he finally said, “I dream about my father. He wants to strangle me with his own hands.”

“Why does he want to strangle you?”

“He said I was unfilial and useless” his expression was sad and pained “because I was able to completely forget the last words of a dying old man*.”
*(lǎorénjiā-polite address for an old man/woman)

“Actually you haven’t forgotten!”

“I haven’t!” Ding Peng said, “In fact, I always keep them in mind.”

“What was his final request?”

“Ding peng clenched his fist and said, word for word, “He wanted me to make a name for myself* and fight for him^.”
^(iow-do what his father couldn’t & bring honor to his name)

Of course, Qing Qing understood what he meant. But she didn’t know that this wasn’t the only nightmare he was having. The other one was even more terrifying. But he could not speak of it, he dared not speak of it. He dreamed that he suddenly fell into a fox den, and his wife, his father-in-law and his mother-in-law, all transformed into a pack of foxes, tearing him apart and devouring him piece by piece. He desperately wanted to forget they were foxes, unfortunately he couldn’t. The soft light of the pearl gently shone on Qing Qing’s pale beautiful face, illuminating the glistening tears on her cheeks. “I know what you are saying!” She burst into tears, “I have always known that sooner or later there would come a day when you would want to leave. You wouldn’t be able to live here forever because eventually you could not not live like this anymore.” Ding Peng couldn’t deny it.

With his current currently skill* in swordsmanship, Liu Ruosong, Zhong Zhan, Hong Mei and Mo Zhu were not even worth the effort.
*(wugong-martial arts skill/ability)

Relying on this sword on his waist, it would be very easy to roam jianghu and make a name for himself*.

All he had to do was think about these things and his blood would boil!

He couldn’t be blamed for this. He wasn’t at fault.

Everyone had the right to fight for their future, no matter what anyone else thought.

Ding Peng said sadly, “Unfortunately, I know that your grandfather and grandmother would never let me leave.”

Qing Qing, hesitating, lowered her head and asked tentatively, “Do you want to go alone?”

He said, “I want you to come, of course!”

Qing Qing’s eyes lit up and she held his hand tightly. She said “You’ll take me with you?”

Ding Pend replied gently, “We are already husband and wife, no matter where I go, I’ll take you with me!”

She asked, “Do you really mean it?”

“Of course I do!”

Qing Qing was biting her lip, finally she made up her mind, “If you are determined to leave, then we will go together.”

He asked, “How do we do it?”

She said, “I’ll think of something.”

She hugged him tightly, “As long as you are true to me, I am willing to die for you if I need to.” Of course, in order to leave they needed a plan. So they discussed it quietly in the middle of the night, when no one was around.

They were most of afraid of Qing Qing’s grandfather.

“Except for the great Da Luo Jinxian, this laorenjia’s abilities are unmatched on heaven and earth.” Ding Peng was unconvinced. After all, he had also perfected the same magical sword technique.
*(Dà Luō Jīnxiān-great golden immortal Luo- a Taoist immortal)
^(laorenjia-polite term for old man/woman)

But Qing Qing said, “Even with your ability, he (laorenjia) only has to stretch out his hand and you’ll fall before you can make a single move.” Ding Peng was of two minds about it.

She went on, “So if we’re going to leave, we have to slip away while he’s gone.”

He said, “He never seems to go out.”

Qing Qing said, “But every year on the night of the fifteenth day of the seventh month, he locks himself in that little room of his. No matter what happens outside during that time, he wouldn’t care!”

Ding Peng said, ““But he’ll still chase us once he knows we’ve gone.”

She said, “He can’t!”

Ding Peng asked, “Why?”

She said, “Because he made a heavy vow. He will never step foot outside of this valley.”

He added, “Your grandmother also seems like she isn’t an easy person to deal with?”
Qing Qing said, “I actually have a way to deal with her.”

He asked, “How?

She said, “Even though she (laorenjia) seems strict, she actually has a soft heart. Also…” She suddenly changed the topic, “Do you know how my parents died?” He didn’t know. He had never asked and they had never brought it up. It was undoubtedly a secret, a memory filled with sadness.

Indeed, the sadness was already visible on her face as she said, “My mother was also a mortal and like you. She always wanted my father to take her away from here.” She sighed softly, “She died before my first birthday. But I know that she had not only been an extremely famous hero in jianghu, but also a famous beauty. She certainly couldn’t live an ordinary life like this one."

Ding Peng said, “Your father refused to take her away?”

Qing Qing said, “Although my father promised her, my grandfather and my grandmother were adamant that they could not leave. They ran twice but were unable to get away, so my mother…” she didn’t continue, but Ding Peng had gotten the picture.

If her mother hadn’t died of depression and despair, she must have quietly killed herself.

Qing Qing said, “A few months after my mother died, my father also fell gravely ill.” Although they were foxes and had supernatural abilities, there were some illnesses that are beyond any abilities, especially those of the heart, which are caused by guilt and grief.

Ding Peng could also picture this.

Qing Qing said, “Although my grandmother never mentions this, I know she must be heartbroken. When push comes to shove, all I have to do is mention this incident and she’ll definitely let us go.” An old woman in her twilight years certainly couldn’t bear the thought of her granddaughter and her husband suffering the same tragic fate of the previous generation.

The fact that Qing Qing was able to bring such a thing up meant that she and Ding Peng had the same profound feelings for each other as her parents did.

Ding Peng’s eyes sparkled with excitement eyes as he said, “So it seems that there might be hope for us yet”

She said, “But we also have problems, at least eight of them."

He asked, “Eight problems?”

Qing Qing said, “No more, no less, exactly eight.” Ding Peng finally realized that she must have been talking about their eight loyal servants.

Not only did they rarely speak, they had always kept Ding Peng at arm’s length.

It seemed like they didn’t want to be anywhere near a mortal, even their master’s grandson-in-law was no exception.

They all seemed to harbor deep pain and a great secret in their hearts.

“Are they also very difficult to deal with?” Ding Peng asked.

Qing Qing said, “You must absolutely not take them lightly. Even if they don’t have my grandfather’s remarkable ability*, if they ventured into the human world, on the basis of their wugong alone, they would rank as the top experts in jianghu.” She went on, “I know there are many famous heroes and swordsmen in jianghu, and I’ve seen a few of them, but none of them can compare to those eight.”

Ding Peng asked, “Who have you seen?”

She answered, “I have seen those two that you mentioned, Hong Mei and Mo Zhu.”

He said, “They can’t compare to them?”

Qing Qing said, " Any one of them can defeat these two within ten moves." Ding Peng frowned.

Hong Mei and Mo Zhu were undoubtedly first-class experts in jianghu. It was inconceivable that someone could defeat these two within ten moves. No one would believe it.

But Ding Peng believed it.

Qing Qing said, “Fortunately, every year on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, they drink a lot of alcohol.”

“Do they get drunk?” he asked.

Qing Qing said, “Sometimes they get drunk, sometimes they don’t. They all have a large capacity for alcohol.” She laughed and said, “But I happen to know of a kind of alcohol that no matter how good the drinker is, they always get drunk.”

Ding Peng said, “Do you also happen to know where you can find some of this alcohol?”

“I can find it,” she said.

Ding Peng’s eyes lit up again, “What day is it today?”

“The 30th of the sixth month.”

In half a month’s time, it would be the fifteenth of the seventh month. In half a month’s time, Ding Peng would have been here for exactly four years.

Ding Peng couldn’t help but sigh, “The days have passed so quickly. I never thought that four years would have passed in the blink of an eye. I never thought that I would live for another four years.”

Qing Qing caressed his face and said softly, “You will continue to live, I don’t know how many more four years you will live, because if I live, you can’t die, and if you live, I can’t die either. There is no me without you, there is no you with me.”