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A Deadly Secret

Chapter 12: Liancheng Treasure

Chapter 12: Liancheng Treasure

Di Yun jumped over the outer wall and made his way to the Wan family’s study room. At this point it was about daybreak, under the haziness of the light he could see someone was lying on the ground. This person vaguely looked like Qi Fang. Di Yun was startled, immediately he took the fire knife and the flint to light a fire and lit it on the candle on top of the table. Under the candlelight he saw that Qi Fang’s body was completely covered in blood, there was a short knife stabbed on her lower stomach.

There were piles of bricks all around her, the wall had cracked open and the two Wans were nowhere to be seen.

Di Yun knelt down beside Qi Fang and shouted: “Martial sister! Martial sister!” He was so scared that he trembled throughout his whole body. His voice was nearly inaudible. He extended his hands to reach for Qi Fang’s face, he felt that there was still some warmth and there was very faint breathing in her nose. He calmed himself and called out again, “Martial sister!”

Qi Fang slowly opened her eyes. She revealed a very bitter smile on her face and said: “Martial brother… I… I’m sorry.”

Di Yun said: “You don’t have to say anything, I… I’m here to save you.” He gently put Water Spinach on the side then with his right hand he reached for Qi Fang’s body. With his left hand he picked up the short knife by its handle and wanted to pull it out, but after a glimpse he saw that the knife was stuck really deep in her stomach. If he were to pull it out, she would definitely lose her life at once, so he did not dare to act rashly. He was urgent but was completely powerless at this situation. He did not know what to do and asked: “What can I do? What can I do? Who… who did this to you?”

Qi Fang smiled bitterly and said: “Martial brother, as the saying goes, a night of man and wife… ai, I won’t say it, I… please don’t fault me. I could not bear it in my heart, I let my husband out, he… he… he…”

Di Yun clenched his teeth and said: “He… he… he stabbed you with a knife, is that right?”

Qi Fang smiled bitterly and nodded her head.

Di Yun was in so much emotional pain that it felt as if the knife was stabbed in his own heart. He could do nothing but watch as Qi Fang’s life was hanging by a thread. Wan Gui’s strike stabbed into her very deeply, no matter what she could not be saved. In his heart there was a faint hint of a jealous snake gnawing at his insides as he said: “You… you really do love your husband. You are willing to save him at the expense of your own life.”

Qi Fang said: “Martial brother, promise me, take good care of Water Spinach. Treat her like your own… your own daughter.”

Di Yun did not respond and nodded his head. Then he said: “That little thief… where did he go?”

Qi Fang’s expressions were messy and her voice was ambiguous, she softly said: “From that cave, the two big butterflies flew in here. Liang Shanbo, Zhu Yingtai, martial brother, look, look! One of them is you, the other is me. We will… we will fly together, hither and thither, just like that. We will never separate, what do you say?” Her voice was barely audible, her breathing became more faint and weak until it came to a full stop.

Di Yun carried Water Spinach on one hand while he carried Qi Fang’s body with the other. He jumped out from the enclosure of the Wan residence. At first he wanted to set the Wan residence completely on fire with one torch, but he changed his mind and thought: “If I burn down this house, the Wans will never come back again. If I want to avenge martial sister, I’d better leave this place intact.”

Di Yun made his way to the abandoned garden that he stayed in with Ding Dian that year. He walked under the plum tree and dug a hole and placed Qi Fang inside. He kept the short sabre with him. He intended to use this short sabre to take the lives of both Wan Gui and his father.

He was in so much grief that he could not even cry out. All he could do was fault himself. “Why didn’t I just kill those two villains and then seal the wall? Why was I so careless as to cause martial sister to lose her life?” He did not fault her martial sister, he only faulted his own actions.

Water Spinach kept crying “Mama! Mama!” she cried so loud that Di Yun was distraught with anxiety. Thereupon he found a peasant family outside Jiangling and gave them ten taels of silver to the couple to look after the little girl.

Day and night he camped outside the Wan residence. Half a month passed. He did not see any trace of the Wan family. The strange part was that even Lu Kun, Bu Yuan, Sun Jun, Feng Tan, and Shen Cheng had disappeared completely, never returning to the Wan residence. The remaining servants in the Wan family became like a housefly without a head, some began to steal things while others began to fight and argue with each other.

Inside Jiangling City there were many characters from the martial world who assembled from all directions.

One night, Di Yun heard the conversation of several grand characters from the realm:

“It turns out that A Deadly Secret is hidden inside a ‘Tang Poem Anthology’. The first four words are ‘Jiangling City, South’.”

“That is correct, these past few days the wind has sure blown quite a few people here after hearing this news. Except that nobody knows what follows after those four words.”

“Who cares what follows afterwards? All we have to do is camp south of the city. As soon as someone digs out the treasure, we will impede their path and rob them.”

“Correct, even if we can’t rob the whole thing, we will at least get a small portion. Anyone who sees it will take it, how will we be missing out?”

“Haha! In the past few days, many people have bought the ‘Tang Poem Anthology’ from the local bookstore in Jiangling. Today I walked by the bookstore and before I even said a word the shopkeeper asked me: ‘Elder, are you here to buy the Tang Poem Anthology? This book we have just imported from Hankou, if you want to buy it come early. If you come late it will be sold out.’ I was very curious so I asked him, ‘How do you know I wanted to buy the Tang Poem Anthology?’ What do you think he answered?”

“I don’t know! What did he say?”

“Damn it! That shopkeeper said: ‘I will not hide the truth from you, elder. Several days ago there were many folks who wielded swords and sabres, sticking out their chest and belly in a shocking manner. They all came to the bookstore, whether it was 10 or 11 people, they all wanted to buy this book. I sold them for five taels of silver each, do you want that book too?”

“Damn it! How can a book be so expensive?”

“Do you know how much the book is worth? Have you looked at its contents?”

“Haha, your daddy I have never entered a bookstore my entire life. Books… books, your daddy I am a gambler, I only buy something that will let me win, why would I buy a book[1]? Haha! Haha!”

Di Yun thought: “It looks like the secret of the Liancheng Manual has leaked out. I wonder who leaked it out? Right, the exchange between the Wan Zhenshan and his son was heard by Lu Kun and the others. Wan Zhenshan wanted to investigate, and his several disciples escaped as well. In such a way, the news spread and more and more people knew about it.”

He recalled how during the years he spent in prison with Ding Dian, there would often be realm folks who came, but they were all effortlessly killed by Ding Dian. “Hmm, I have not fulfilled Brother Ding’s wish yet. Brother Ding’s business is even more important than my own affairs of vengeance.”

Lady Ling’s father was the prefectural magistrate of the Jiangling Prefecture. Di Yun made his way to the largest coffin store and largest tombstone store in Jiangling to investigate. He found out that Lady Ling was buried on top of a small hill about twelve li east of the city.

He bought an iron shovel and a crane-mouth hoe and made his way eastwards. It did not take him very long to find the tomb. On the tombstone was written the seven words “Resting place of beloved daughter Ling Shuanghua”. There were no flowers or trees in front of the tomb. During her life, Ling Shuanghua loved fresh flowers the most, yet her father did not even place any on her tomb.

“Beloved daughter… beloved daughter… haha! Do you really love your daughter?” He laughed coldly and then he thought about Ding Dian and Qi Fang. He could not help but cry, tears falling from his eyes.

His lapel had long been wet throughout from Qi Fang’s tears, now in front of the tomb of Ling Shuanghua, he added another layer of tears.

Nobody lived near this small hill, and it was distanced very far from the main road, so nobody would ever come here. But no matter what he could not dig out her tomb in the light of day. He waited until the sky was completely dark before he began digging at the grave. He dug open the large rock that was sealed by concrete mortar and the coffin was revealed.

After experiencing several years of distress and misery, Di Yun was no longer a person who would easily cry or be overcome with grief. But seeing the coffin under such gloomy moonlight, he thought about how Brother Ding died because of this very coffin, he could not help but become sad. He could not help but become teary again.

Ling Tuisi had once smeared the coffin with the poison of the “Golden Ripple Flower”, but after so much time had passed and the fact that the coffin was taken all the way here to be buried, it was expected that the poison had long been wiped off. But nonetheless, Di Yun did not dare to extend his hands to touch the coffin. He took out his blood sabre and slightly shoved it in the opening between the coffin and case. The blood sabre was capable of scraping gold and slicing jades, as soon as it made contact with the coffin, it was like slicing tofu. He did not even need to use any strength and the tenon on the cover of the coffin was already cut off. He exerted some strength on his right arm until it was enough to send the cover flying out of place.

In a split second, he saw that two rotten hands were pointing upwards, but as soon as the cover flew off, the two hands drooped down again, just as if it was moving lifelike. Di Yun was slightly startled and thought: “When Lady Ling entered the coffin, how come her hands would be raised in such a way? That is very strange.” He saw that there were no burial clothes or beddings inside the coffin that was typical of a burial. Lady Ling wore nothing but an unlined garment.

Di Yun silently prayed: “Brother Ding, Lady Ling, the two of you could not become man-and-wife during your lifetimes, but now you two are buried together after death, your wishes will finally be fulfilled. The two of your spirits will smile in the golden springs.” He undid the burden on his back and opened it. He took out Ding Dian’s ashes and scattered it completely on Lady Ling’s body. He kneeled down and respectfully kowtowed four times. Then he got up and conveniently tossed the cloth wrapper that contained the ashes into the coffin. Then he sealed the coffin again.

Under the gloomy moonlight, he saw that there were some faint words written on the back of the coffin. Di Yun got closer to look and saw that these words were a trembling scrawl of writing:

“Darling Ding, Darling Ding, in our next life we will become man and wife.”

Di Yun trembled in his heart. He sat down on the ground cross-legged. These few words were clearly written by fingernails. He only thought for a moment before he came to a realization. “Lady Ling was buried alive by her father. When she was placed in the coffin, she was not dead yet. These few words must have been written right before she died. That is also why when she died, her hands were still upwards facing the cover. It’s hard to believe that in this world there could actually be such a heartless father! Brother Ding was unyielding and Lady Ling never betrayed Brother Ding. Her father became more and more ruthless and even went so far as to bury her alive.” He also thought: “When Magistrate Ling realized that Brother Ding escaped from prison, he should know that Brother Ding would definitely settle the score with him, that’s why he rapidly smeared the poison of the Golden Ripple Flower on the outsides of the coffin. The heart of this person is actually a hundred times more deadly than that of the Golden Ripple Flower.

He leaned closer to the coffin to take a closer look at the next two lines of writing. He saw under several words were written three lines of numbers, written “4, 41, 33, 53” and other various numbers. Di Yun inhaled a cold breath of air and thought: “Right, even before Lady Ling died, she remembered her wish of being buried together with Brother Ding. She promised Brother Ding that if there was anyone capable of burying the two of them together, she would reveal the secret of the Liancheng Manual to this person. Brother Ding also spoke to me about these numbers in the abandoned garden, but he passed away before he finished speaking. The secret on the manual that teacher took was uncovered by martial sister’s tears, but this book was then ripped to shreds by Wan Gui and his father. I only know that from now on the secret will be like passing mist, who knows the significance of the numbers written here?”

He prayed in his heart: “Lady Ling, you really are an honest person. I thank you for your kindness, but my heart is like dust, I wish for nothing more than to kill myself and bury myself beside you and Brother Ding. Just that I have not yet sought my revenge, I have not yet killed the Wan family and your father. Gold and silver mean nothing more to me than dirt or clay.” After he said this, he took the cover of the coffin and was about to seal it up when suddenly a thought flashed through his mind. “Ayo! Right! I don’t know where the Wans have hid themselves, it may be that for the rest of my life I won’t be able to track them down. But right now the secret of the great treasure is written right in front of my eyes, and naturally the Wans will go and check it out. Right, this secret is actually a very pleasant pastry; even if the Wans were suspicious, even if they were ten times more careful, they would not be able to resist the temptation of the secret.”

He placed the cover down and looked carefully at the numbers written. With the blood sabre he carved each number on the back of the shovel. After engraving all the numbers he matched it with the numbers on the coffin to make sure he did not make a mistake, then he wrapped a cloth around his hands and covered up the coffin and placed the stone slab carefully. Finally he piled the dirt around the tomb neatly.

“This desire has finally been fulfilled! After I take my revenge, I will scatter hundreds of different chrysanthemums around the tomb. Brother Ding and Lady Ling loved chrysanthemums more than anything else. It’s best if I can find the ‘Spring Water Jade Ripple’ flower!”

Early next morning, three lines of numbers were remarkably written using calcium oxide on the west city wall of Jiangling. Every number occupied about ten feet of space and could be seen from afar. “4, 41, 33, 53…” The strange part is that these several rows of numbers were separated nearly 20 feet from the ground, it’s unlikely that in Jiangling there would be such a big ladder. For someone to be capable of climbing their way up the wall to write these numbers, it would only be possible if this person tied a rope around their body and wrote it from top down.

Several hundred feet away from the numbers on the wall, Di Yun disguised himself as a beggar and took off his jacket, sitting under the sun and pretending to catch lice.

Many people entered and exited through the south city gate. In only the span of several hours, discussion erupted all throughout various markets and restaurants, they were all talking about the numbers on the wall. Many people went in front of the city gate to take a look. The position in which these numbers were written was really strange, but besides that there was nothing fancy about it. Most people would take a look, make a random guess, and then head on their way. But there were still several formidable folks from the realm who remained.

These people all held a “Tang Poem Anthology” in their hands. They copied down the numbers on the wall and creased their eyebrows in deep contemplation.

Di Yun saw Sun Jun had arrived and Shen Cheng had arrived too. After a while, Lu Kun arrived as well. But they did not know the sequence of the stances of the Liancheng Swordplay, although they each had a copy of the Tang Poem Anthology, even though the numbers on the wall were written so remarkably, and even though they knew that the numbers had something to do with the secret of the manual, and even though they eavesdropped and heard their teacher and his son talk about the method to discover the secret, it was impossible for them to figure it out without knowing which number applies to which poem.

In this world, the only ones who knew the answer to this were Wan Zhenshan, Yan Daping, and Qi Zhangfa.

Lu Kun and the other three got together for a discussion. Di Yun was separated quite a distance from them and could not make out what they were saying. He only watched as the three of them discussed for a while and then returned inside the city. After some time, the three of them changed into a disguise and came out again. One disguised himself as a fruit salesman and carried a bucket of tangerines, another disguised himself as a vegetable dealer, and the third disguised himself as a local peasant carrying a shovel. The three of them camped near the city wall and watched attentively for anyone who passed by.

Di Yun knew of their intentions. They were waiting for Wan Zhenshan to appear. They could not figure out the secret of the manual, but they knew that if they followed Wan Zhenshan they would be able to find the location of the treasure. Even if they could not take the whole thing, at least they could get a portion of it. Naturally it would be extremely dangerous for them to see their teacher again, but if they wanted to become filthy rich, how could they not take such a risk?

The first four numbers of the Liancheng Manual had long been revealed to the general public. “4, 41, 33, 53” which was decoded to mean “Jiangling City, South”; even if a person was more stupid they would realize that the numbers following those four numbers would naturally reveal the location of the treasure.

More and more people came near the city wall. Some disguised themselves while others kept their everyday appearance. Di Yun counted that there were 78 people in total. After a while, Bu Yuan and Feng Tan also came. The two of them were for some reason flushed with anger, it appeared as if they were about to fight but finally quieted down. They sat next to the moat.

It was now afternoon. The Wans still did not show up. Then night began to fall, but the Wans were still nowhere to be seen. Many people began to curse profanities out loud. All of Wan Zhenshan’s ancestors were abused roundly, especially Wan Zhenshan’s grandmother.

The sky was getting dark now, a scholarly person held a piece of paper and an ink case and a pen. He shook his head as he copied down the numbers written on the city wall. A big person was so bored that he did not have any place to vent his anger, he came forward and scolded: “What are you copying down the numbers for?”

The scholar said: “I will naturally have my own use for it, others need not care.”

The big man said: “Will you tell me or not? If you don’t speak up, I will hit you.” He raised his large fist and swayed it back and forth around the tip of the scholar’s nose. The scholar was afraid and said: “Alright… alright… someone told me to copy it down.”

The big man said: “Who told you to copy it down?”

The scholar said: “This old fellow, I do not dare to deceive you, this person is the renowned and venerable Wan Zhenshan, you… you cannot offend this elder.”

As soon as the name “Wan Zhenshan” was uttered, there was much hubbub from the crowd. Di Yun was also delighted, but amidst his delight, most of his emotions consisted of enmity and grief.

This scholar trembled back and forth in front, one foot high and the other foot low, he staggered along his way and continued walking east. Over a hundred people followed closely behind. Since Wan Zhenshan did not show up, the only solution was to find Wan Zhenshan. He is the only man capable of figuring out the secret behind these numbers. The news of the secret had long spread across the city. Many people wanted to pressure Wan Zhenshan into leading them to the treasure. Many people complimented the big man: “It is fortunate that elder brother was so smart, otherwise we could have waited here for three days and three nights and Wan Zhenshan would have already taken the treasure for himself.”

The big man was very proud of himself and said: “That little fellow was sneaky and secretive, I knew that there was something up with him.” He talked as if he did a good deed for everyone.

Di Yun mixed himself with the rest of the crowd and thought: “Wan Zhenshan is an old and extremely cunning person, he would not be as careless as to let others find the secret. There must be some kind of scheme behind this.” At this point the group had already travelled several li away from the south gate. Di Yun turned his head to look and looked at the city wall, in a glimpse he saw a shadow rushing past the city wall heading westward.

Di Yun thought: “All of these people have their attention fixed on the scholar and won’t let him escape. If they find Wan Zhenshan, they won’t separate from him. In such a big city, it would be extremely difficult to find Wan Zhenshan and his son, but to find such a messy crowd would be as easy as flipping my hand, why do I have to merge myself with the crowd?”

He changed his thoughts and in a flash hid himself behind a tree. Then he exerted his lightness martial arts and turned around to head towards the south gate. He headed westward and followed the direction that the shadow went. He caught up to this person before the time it took to drink a cup of tea. Although this person’s lightness martial arts were decent, it paled in comparison to Di Yun’s. He did not even notice that he was being followed, he only kept on running.

Di Yun saw as this person made his way in front of a small house. The person went inside the house and Di Yun kept watch outside and waited for this person to come out. After a while, he saw through the window that a lamp was lit from inside the house.

He made his way under the window and peeked through the narrow window slit. He saw there was an old person sitting on a chair inside the house. This person had his back against the window so Di Yun could not make out who it was.

This old person took out and began reading a book on the table. Di Yun only took one glance and knew that it was the “Tang Poem Anthology”. In the past few days this book was incredibility popular in the city, evidently even an old person was unable to break the custom, he too had a copy. Di Yun watched as this old person took out a writing brush and on a piece of yellow paper wrote words “Jiangling City, South”, then this person faintly counted the numbers “5, 10, 15, 16…” Then on the piece of paper he wrote the word “inclined”.

Di Yun was startled at what he saw. He thought: “There is actually someone capable of deciphering the numbers from the ‘Tang Poem Anthology’, could it be that he knows the Liancheng Swordplay?” But judging from the back of this person it was not Wan Zhenshan. This person wore very old and shabby gray clothes, Di Yun could not figure out who it was.

Di Yun watched as this person continued to read the book, counting on his fingers the number of words every now and then, and then writing down the corresponding word. This person wrote down 26 words in total, Di Yun read the words one by one:

“Inclined West, Tianing Temple, Main Hall, Buddha Statue Facing the Pious and Sincere Worshipper. The Praying Spirit Informs Buddha Will Bless a Future Life of Bliss”.

The old person became very angry and slammed the brush hard on the table. “What ‘Facing the Pious and Sincere Worshipper, the Praying Spirit Informs’ and what ‘Buddha Will Bless a Future Life of Bliss’! Damn it! ‘Future Life of Bliss’, are they telling me to see to go see Yama[2] or what?”

As Di Yun listened he felt that this person’s voice was quite familiar. He was just thinking who it could be when this person turned around to face the window. Di Yun ducked under the window and thought: “It is second uncle, no wonder he knows the sword stances. But what is the secret then? It seems to be nothing more than a joke.” He could not help but chuckle in his heart. “So many people spent so much effort, they were willing to kill their teachers, kill each other, and in the end, it is nothing more than a phrase meant to make a fool of you.”

He did not actually laugh out loud, but inside the room Yan Daping began to laugh. “Haha! This phrase is telling me to sincerely worship Buddha, then that damn filthy clay statue will bless me and wish me a future life of bliss. Haha! Damn it! It’s telling me to live a future life of bliss. The three of us combined our forces to kill our teacher, the three of us martial brothers engaged in a fierce rivalry all these years, and we were fighting for nothing more than a ‘future life of bliss’. The hundreds of heroes and courageous people in Jiangling City, the various turtle thieves and bandits, all of them have tried to take this manual, and it was all for nothing more than a ‘future life of bliss’, haha! Haha!” His laughter was filled with sadness and grief. As he laughed, he tore the yellow paper to shreds.

All of a sudden he stood there motionless, his gaze completely fixed outside the window.

Di Yun thought about his own misfortunes. He thought about Qi Fang’s tragic death and how it was all because of this secret. But in the end this secret was nothing more several phrases of a big joke. Under such extreme grief and indignation, he could not help but start laughing out loud.

At the same time, he saw Yan Daping fixed his gaze outside the window, as if he was staring at something. Di Yun heard him mumble to himself, “Now that it has come to this, might as well go to Tianning Temple and take a look, what harm can it do? Jiangling City, South… this is correct, there is indeed an old temple there.” He brandished his hand to extinguish the candlelight. He pushed open the door and executed his lightness martial arts to travel westward.

Di Yun became hesitant in his heart. “Should I look for Wan Zhenshan or follow Uncle Yan? Ai, such a big group of people can’t be hard to find. I should go after Uncle Yan first.” At once he looked at Yan Daping and followed closely behind.

It did not take a full hour before Yan Daping reached the outskirts of the old Tianning Temple. He first stayed outside the temple for a very long time to listen for any activity, then he toured once around the outside. He realized that the temple was completely empty before he pushed the door open to go inside.

This Tianning Temple was located in a very desolate area and had been abandoned and worn down over the years. There were no acolytes or monks inside this temple. Yan Daping reached the main hall and lit up a torch, he wanted to light the candle in front of the altar. Under the firelight, it appeared that the candle wax was somewhat fresh. His thoughts changed and he extended his hands to pinch the wax, indeed it was still soft and mushy. It was obvious that someone lit this very candle not too long ago. He became suspicious and blew out his torch. He was about to go outside to investigate when suddenly he felt a pain on his back, a sharp blade was plugged in through his back. He let out a loud screech and lost his life immediately.

Di Yun hid behind the double doors. He only saw that the flame was extinguished and Yan Daping let out a miserable screech. Di Yun realized that Yan Daping had met with an unfortunate accident. All of this happened so fast that Di Yun did not have time to come to his rescue. Di Yun remained where he was, unmoving; he wanted to see who it was who killed Yan Daping. In the darkness, all he could make out were the sounds of faint cold laughters. When the voice of this person reached his ears, Di Yun was absolutely horrified. This voice was gloomy and extremely frightening, but it was also extremely familiar.

All of a sudden, a fire was set ablaze. Someone had lit up the candle. The candlelight reflected directly on the body of this person. This person slowly turned his head to face the front. Di Yun narrow blurted out, “Teacher!”

This person was indeed Qi Zhangfa. Di Yun watched as his teacher gave a hard kick at the body of Yan Daping. Then he took out the long sword from his back and stabbed this body from behind several times in succession.

When Di Yun saw how cruel and vicious Qi Zhangfa could be towards his own martial brother, the word “teacher” reached the tip of his mouth, but was immediately swallowed back in.

Qi Zhangfa laughed coldly and said: “Martial brother, it looks like you have also found the secret of the Liancheng Manual, am I right? Haha! ‘Inclined West, Tianing Temple, Main Hall, Buddha Statue Facing the Pious and Sincere Worshipper. The Praying Spirit Informs’. Haha! Martial brother, the sword manual says ‘Buddha Will Bless a Future Life of Bliss’, are you not heading to your afterlife now? Was this not blessed by Buddha?”

He turned his head to face the appearance of the benevolent Buddha statue, his face full of violent rage, very fiercely he scrutinized: “Damn it! You sorry excuse of a stinking Buddha have capered your daddy I for my entire life, you have caused me so much suffering!” He leapt on top of the altar and raised his long sword. Ting! Ting! Ting! He slashed the belly of the statue three times.

This Buddha statue was made from clay and engraved in wood, yet when these three slashes stroke firmly on the statue, it emitted a clang of metals like the sound of gold clashing. Qi Zhangfa became very suspicious and slashed the statue two more times. He only felt the more he slashed the statue the tougher the substance became. He took the candle and looked closer at the statue. He saw that the sword slashes left a deep scar in the statue, the scars glittered a brilliant golden light. Qi Zhangfa was shocked. He extended his fingers to reach for the two sword scars and peeled off the nearby clay. What he saw was sparkling gold, the inside of the statue was actually completely made of gold. He could not help but yell out, “Golden Buddha! It is all gold! It is all gold!”

This Buddha statue stood over 30 feet tall, it was very thick and solid and definitely exceeded any ordinary Buddha statue. If it was true that the entire statue was made of gold, there would be at least fifty or sixty thousand catties worth of gold, would that not be a great treasure or what?

Under great ecstasy, Qi Zhangfa pondered for a bit and then turned the statue around. He raised his sword and began hacking at the statue, he saw that the waist area of the statue had a very small hidden contraption. He repeatedly hacked away at this contraption, the clay flying in all directions. He made over a dozen cuts on the statue before he completely cleared up the clay surrounding the contraption. He saw that this contraption was also made of gold. Qi Zhangfa extended the tip of his sword to pry it open. He was unable to contain his joy, his heart rate was off the charts. He got so excited that his sword unexpectedly broke in half.

He picked up the remaining half of the sword and continued to pry open the hidden contraption from another side. After several attempts, the contraption gradually began to loosen itself. Qi Zhangfa threw away his long sword and extended his finger to lightly open it. He illuminated the insides of the statue with the candle and saw that inside the stomach of the Buddha was filled with the glowing aura of sparkling gems piled up in grandiosity. He could not even figure out how many gems and other treasures were stuffed inside this Buddha.

Qi Zhangfa spat out some saliva. He was about to extend his hand inward to reach for the various gems to take a look, when suddenly he felt the altar slightly tremble. He knew there was something going on and dropped back down on the ground. As soon as his left foot reached the ground, he felt a faint pain on his lower stomach, someone had already sealed his acupoint. With a loud crash he fell on the ground.

Someone came out from under the altar who laughed coldly. “Brother Qi, you have finally found it. Since Old Second found this place, why didn’t you consider that your eldest martial brother would find it too?” The speaker was none other than Wan Zhenshan.

When Qi Zhangfa unexpectedly discovered this great treasure, no matter how intelligent and crafty of a person he was, when he saw so many precious gems in front of him, he was completely overjoyed with his discovery. Now that his mind was back to reality he figured he should have known that Wan Zhenshan would indeed have come here. He toughly said: “The first time you failed to kill me, who would have thought that I would end up dead by your hands after all.”

Wan Zhenshan was complacent and said: “I was very perplexed about this too. Brother Qi, I know I strangled you to death and stuffed you inside the wall, how did you come back to life?”

Qi Zhangfa closed his eyes and did not answer.

Wan Zhenshan said: “Even if you don’t answer, you think I don’t know the answer? Back then you weren’t my match, so you sealed your own breathing and faked your death. After you were sealed inside the wall you were still able to make your way out! Excellent! Impressive! Back then when I saw there was a piece of brick sticking out of the sealed wall, I knew that something wasn’t right, but I would never have guessed that it was the result of you breaking yourself out of the wall.”

Ever since Wan Zhenshan sealed Qi Zhangfa inside the wall, the next day he saw one of the bricks was sticking out, that incident had made his heart ill-at-ease ever since. It went so far as to give him somnambulism and he would be building walls in the middle of the night during his dreams. All along he was afraid that Qi Zhangfa became a “zombie” and would jump out of the wall. That’s why even in his sleep, every single night he would build the same wall over and over again, he wanted to seal the wall completely.

Wan Zhenshan laughed coldly. “Haha, you are really impressive. You looked on helplessly as your daughter became my son’s wife, yet you never revealed yourself. I ask you, what is it all for? Why?”

Qi Zhangfa spat out some phlegm in his direction.

Wan Zhenshan slanted his body to evade the spit. He laughed: “Old Third, would you rather die an easy death or have me cut you piece by piece? If you want to die an easy death, then tell me, how were you able to take out the sword manual from the inn. How were Old Second and I unable to find it after all these years?”

Qi Zhangfa felt a chill and said: “Do you think it was easy? That night I waited until the two of you were asleep like a pig, then I quietly got up and opened the box. I took out the sword manual and put it inside the interval between the drawer and the table. The next day, the sword manual naturally disappeared without a trace. The three of us bickered with each other for a very long time and then went our separate ways. You followed Yan Daping, Yan Daping followed me, and I followed you. The three of us tailed each other for over a month before going our separate ways. Then I returned to the inn and took out the sword manual from the hidden compartment. I returned home and put the manual inside a box of old clothes. But for some reason my daughter took the manual. You surnamed Wan, just end my life quickly!”

Wan Zhenshan laughed maliciously and said: “Very well, I will give you a quick death. Logically, I should not let you go so easily, but your martial brother I do not have any time to waste. I must use some dirt and seal up the Buddha statue again. Very well then my martial brother, it is time for you to move on!” He raised his sword and was about to strike down at Qi Zhangfa’s chest.

All of a sudden a red light flashed across the scene, Wan Zhenshan’s right arm was completely sliced off from his elbow and along with the sword all fell on the ground. Then his body was kicked away violently. It was Di Yun wielding the blood sabre to rescue Qi Zhangfa.

He lowered his body and unsealed the acupoint on Qi Zhangfa’s body and said: “Teacher, you have been startled!”

All of this happened so fast; Qi Zhangfa was completely dumbstruck for a long time before he could clearly see that this person was Di Yun. He said: “Yun… Yun’er, is it you?”

Di Yun and his teacher had been separated for such a long time. When he once again heard someone call him “Yun’er” he could not help but begin to grieve and said: “Yes, teacher, it is Yun’er.”

Qi Zhangfa said: “So you have seen everything.”

Di Yun nodded his head. Then he said: “Martial sister, martial sister… she… she…”

Wan Zhenshan lost one of his arms, he struggled to pick himself up and then began to rush out of the temple. Qi Zhangfa rushed ahead of him and stabbed Wan Zhenshan squarely from behind and it pierced completely through his heart. Wan Zhenshan let out a painful cry and died immediately.

Qi Zhangfa looked at the dead bodies of his two martial brothers and slowly said: “Yun’er, fortunately you arrived just in time and saved your teacher’s life. Hey, who else is here? Is that Fang’er?” As he said this he pointed his finger to the side of the hall.

When Di Yun heard the words “Fang’er” his heart trembled violently. He turned around to look but there was nobody there. He was surprised when suddenly he felt a sharp pain from his back. He flipped his hand over to grab his enemy by the wrist. He turned around and saw that this person was holding a very sharp and dazzling dagger. It was none other than his teacher Qi Zhangfa.

Di Yun was perplexed. “Tea… teacher… what crime did your disciple commit that you would want to kill me?” He saw that this dagger had already stabbed him firmly from behind, but because he had the protection of the dark silkworm vest, he did not lose his life.

Qi Zhangfa was seized by the wrist and half his body became numb, he could not even exert the slightest bit of strength. Under such alarm and anger he said fiercely, “Very well, you have learned a set of profound martial arts, naturally you no longer take your teacher seriously anymore. Kill me then. Kill me! Kill me! Why haven’t you killed me yet?”

Di Yun released his hold but he was still at a loss for words. “How would I dare to kill my own teacher?”

Qi Zhangfa shouted: “Why are you so insincerely courteous? This Buddha statue is filled with gold and precious gemstones, do you not want it all for yourself? If I don’t kill you, then you will kill me. What is so strange about that? This is a remarkable Gold Buddha, inside its stomach are invaluable gemstones and jewels, why won’t you kill me? Why won’t you kill me?” The way he shouted so hoarsely, his voice was filled with greed, anger, and lament. This voice did not even sound like the voice of a human, it sounded like the voice of a wounded beast howling in the wilderness.

Di Yun shook his head and retreated a few steps. “Teacher wants to kill me because of this Gold Buddha?” Then in an instant he came to a startling realization. He understood everything: Qi Zhangfa was willing to go so far as to kill his own teacher, his own martial brothers, he was even suspicious of his own daughter, what does a mere disciple mean to him? In his heart he suddenly recalled what Ding Dian once told him: “His nickname is ‘Iron Lock Across the River’, what isn’t he capable of doing?”

Di Yun retreated another step and said: “Teacher, I have no intention of taking away any part of your Gold Buddha, you can take it all for yourself.”

Di Yun really did not understand, how could a person in this world actually care for nothing but riches? This person did not care for his teacher, he did not care for his martial brothers or his disciples—he did not even care for his own daughter. Even if he possessed such a priceless treasure, what does it really mean in the end?

Qi Zhangfa did not even believe his own ears and thought: “In this world there is actually someone who is not moved by so many precious gems and jewels? This little brat Di Yun must have some other sort of scheme up his sleeves.” At this point he had already completely lost his cool and shouted: “What trick are you pulling now? This here is a gigantic Gold Buddha, its stomach is completely filled with pearls and gemstones, why do you not want it? What scheme are you trying to pull?”

Di Yun shook his head. He was just about to exit the temple when suddenly he heard the sounds of a lot of footsteps fast approaching. There were lots of people entering the temple. Di Yun jumped up to the roof and looked outside. He saw over a hundred people holding torches shouting with much hubbub, they were all heading towards the temple. It was the group of realm folks from earlier.

He heard someone shout: “Wan Gui, damn it! Let’s go! Let’s go!”

Di Yun wanted to leave, but as soon as he heard the name “Wan Gui” he stopped himself. He still had yet to avenge Qi Fang.

The crowd of people stormed and fought their way into the temple. Di Yun watched very carefully; Wan Gui was captured by several big fellows and was beaten to a pulp, his nose was swollen and his eyes were darkly bruised. But he was still wearing a very scholarly outfit. It turns out that he was the one who dressed up as a scholar in order to lure away the group of people crowding around the city wall so as to let his father go to Tianning Temple and take the treasure for himself. But under the constant interrogation of the crowd he finally revealed his tracks. The crowd of people beat him to a pulp and threatened to kill him if he did not lead them to Tianning Temple.

Qi Zhangfa heard that people were approaching and urgently jumped up the altar. He wanted to cover up the sword markings on the statue that revealed the various hidden gemstones but he was too late, the crowd had already seen him standing on the altar and hugging the Gold Buddha’s big stomach with both hands. At once under the illumination of several dozen torches, the temple was as bright as day. Everyone saw the dazzling reflection of gold and let out a roar as they rushed forward. Everyone rushed forward in a complete mess and cut off all the clay from the statue. Everyone had their own sabre or sword and slashed mindlessly, in no time at all the statue was completely naked and emitted a radiant gold light.

Then followed that someone discovered the hidden contraption in the statue and extended his hand to reach for it, fishing out large quantities of precious gemstones. The ones that were standing at the back used their strength to push this person aside, the various gemstones were taken out large quantities at a time. The stronger people stole the gemstones from the weaker people.

All of a sudden, from outside a bugle horn sounded repeatedly and the door of the temple was kicked open; over a dozen soldiers rushed inside and shouted: “The prefectural magistrate is here! Nobody make a move!” From behind someone in an officer’s outfit proudly walked inside, it was none other than the prefectural magistrate of Jiangling, Ling Tuisi. He had many followers outside the city and several were in the group of people that came to the temple. As soon as he heard the news, he immediately dispatched soldiers and rushed to the scene.

Ling Tuisi caused the death of Ding Dian and even forced his own daughter’s death, yet he did not have a single clue about the mysteries of the sword manual. But nonetheless his desires for the great treasure never decreased. He knew that it was definitely related to Mei Niansheng, only he did not know that the crux of the secret lied within the ‘Tang Poem Swordplay’. He continued to part with large quantities of bribes and continued to serve his term as the prefectural magistrate of Jingzhou. In addition, using his position as the leader of the Raspy Dragon Sect, he dispatched many of his sect followers to search. Eventually he found news that the ‘A Deadly Secret’ had to do with the ‘Tang Poem Anthology’.

Ling Tuisi came from a background of academics and imperial secretaries, his education and literature was remarkably impressive. As soon as he looked at the Tang Poem Anthology he found out that this poem was written by late Tang poets that lived sometime during the reign of Emperor Liangyuan around 500 to 600 A.D. Emperor Liangyuan’s treasure could definitely not have evidence that could be found inside the ‘Tang Poem Anthology’, so he further investigated thoroughly. Then he figured out that after Emperor Liangyuan concealed the treasure, he completely eradicated all of the soldiers who ever came in contact with this treasure. Later he was killed by soldiers of the Northern Zhou Dynasty, and from then on the location of the treasure was unknown.

It wasn’t until the reign of Kangxi that a senior monk with supreme martial arts stayed in the Tianning Temple in Jingzhou and accidentally discovered the treasure. He wanted to give it to the Heaven and Earth Society in their quest to destroy Qing and restore the Ming Dynasty. But he was afraid that the secret would leak out, so he encoded the location of the treasure into a set of numbers located in a bunch of sword mnemonics, then he put it inside the popular ‘Tang Poem Anthology’. Then he gave it to Wu Liuqi, who was a disciple of his elder martial brother from the same clan. Just like the senior monk, Wu Liuqi also knew the ‘Tang Poem Swordplay’ and knew the sequence of stances in this swordplay. Unfortunately, when he was about to pass on the secret code, he met with an accident and was killed. From then on the secret code of the sword mnemonics leaked outside[3].

From then on the information passed around outwards, but the information did not connect the treasure to the ‘Tang Poem Anthology’, so it was useless. The ones who knew of this information did not know the Tang Poem Swordplay. Although they knew the mnemonics of the swordplay, they did not know the sequence of the stances, so they had no way of finding the treasure.

Mei Niansheng belonged to the same clan as Wu Liuqi and the senior monk. Naturally he knew the Tang Poem Swordplay. Later on he received the sword mnemonics, but the news leaked and he suffered at the hands of his three traitorous disciples.

Now that the various realm folk saw so many treasures in front of them, how would they be afraid of the authorities? Everyone exerted all their efforts to steal the gemstones in front of them.

Various pearls, gemstones, white jades, green jades fell on the ground. All of the heroic people of the realm and soldiers all reached to grab the treasure at all costs. Some began to fight each other, others even jumped on the Gold Buddha...

How would Ling Tuisi’s subordinates not fight for the treasure? The soldiers bent their bodies to pick up the treasures, and the officials too took the treasures. Nobody dared to fall behind and lose out on anything. Qi Zhangfa was plundering the treasures, Wan Gui was fighting over the treasures, even the great magistrate Ling Tuisi could not resist and stuffed handfuls of treasures into his bosom.

To fight for the treasures in such a way, fights and casualties could not be avoided. Some people managed to win their fights, some people bled, some people died…

The fights became more and more intense. Some people even pounced themselves on the Gold Buddha and began biting at it, some people rammed their heads against the statue.

Di Yun was extremely perplexed. “What’s going on? Even if they love these treasures so much, they should not go so far as to be this crazy?”

Indeed, all of them had lost their minds. Their eyes became red; they were fighting mindlessly and biting mindlessly, scratching mindlessly. Di Yun saw that ‘Twin Knights of Bell Sword’ Wang Xiaofeng was amongst the group, as was the remaining member of ‘Luohua Liushui’, Hua Tiegan. They had all become crazy as wild beasts, they were all clawing and biting frantically. They put the various precious stones in their mouths.

Di Yun understood the truth. “There must have been extremely deadly poison smeared on these jewels. Back then the emperor who concealed the treasure was afraid that soldiers of the Zhou Dynasty would come and take it away, so he smeared poison on these jewels.” He wanted to save his teacher, but it was too late.

After these people contracted the poison, they were suffering endlessly and would not live long. Ling Tuisi, Wan Gui, Lu Kun, Bu Yuan, Shen Cheng and the others had committed endless atrocities. Now that they finally got their hands on the treasure, there was no need for Di Yun to finish them off. They would not live for much longer.


Di Yun went back to Ding Dian and Lady Ling’s grave and brought with him several hundred varieties of flowers. He did not hire anyone to help him out, he did everything by himself. He grew up in the countryside as a farmer, naturally he specialized in digging. The only problem was that he was not very knowledgeable about flowers, what he usually grew consisted of hot peppers, cucumbers, winter melons, cabbages, eggplants, water spinaches…

He left Jingzhou and took Water Spinach with him. He took a horse and set forth on a long journey. He no longer cared about the various events of the realm. He only wanted to find a place where nobody would find him and raise Water Spinach into an adult.

He returned to the snowy valley.

Qi Fang gave him a hundred taels of silver back in the Wan residence. This money not only served to help tidy up the tomb of Ding Dian and Lady Ling, it also served as expenses to the family who took care of Water Spinach during his absence, and also served to pay out the expenses of food and resting along his journey. He bought some new clothes and shoes for Water Spinach. He also bought some cotton-padded clothes and trousers and over a dozen straw sandals for himself. He stuffed it all into a big bundle and carried it on his back. By the time he reached the snowy valley near Sichuan, he only had about thirty taels of silver left on him.

He weighed the remaining silver in his hands and then exerted his strength to throw it far away, casting it into the deep canyon near the side of the road. “Even if I have a million taels of silver, even if I have an exorbitant amount of precious treasures, what use would it be in a snowy valley?”

But his martial sister did not come with him. She would never ever come with him. He could not even see her one more time. He felt very lonely and desolate.

“Uncle, Uncle, why are you crying? Do you miss my mama? We promised each other that neither of us are allowed to cry anymore!”

The snow began to pour down from the sky again, making its way to the cave he once resided.

All of a sudden, from afar he saw a young girl standing outside the cave.

It was Shui Sheng!

Her face full of delight, she rushed forward, laughing and calling, “I have waited a long time! I knew you would eventually return. If you don’t come back, I will wait ten years. If you don’t come back in ten years, I will search across the realm for a hundred years!”



[1]The word “book” is pronounced the same as the word “lose” in Chinese. So he would not buy any books because he does not want to “lose” when he gambles.

[2]Yama is the King of Hell in Chinese mythology.

[3]For more information about Wu Liuqi, read .

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