Wednesday, November 30, 2005


The 3-in-1 Kungfu Girl - Chapter 16

Chapter 16: Cold Wind Hands shows his hand

On Kon Lo Island that afternoon, Wu Chuan and Li Chiang saw a boat approached the island and so they hid themselves. Then, two boatmen got off the boat. Judging from the manner that they walked, Wu Chuan said, “Those two are a man and a woman.”

The woman walked after the man on the rocky beach and complained, “This beach is not easy to walk on. I wish there was a proper path.”

“You wanted to come, Lady Fai, so don’t complain.” the man said. “I could easily have done this alone.”

“We are partners, remember?” said Lady Fai. “After all, I did all the planning for this job. I wish that you had not killed those two boatmen that early. They could have been useful in helping us dig for the treasure.”

“They were ogling at you in a lascivious manner like I was not there at all,” said Sum Teng Rong, the man. “Those who don’t respect me will have to pay with their lives. Anyway, I don’t need them. I can sail a fishing boat by myself.”

They paused on the rocky beach and looked around.

“The treasure will not be so close to the shoreline,” said Lady Fai. “Let us go climb up to the ridge and look around first. You will have to carry me.”

Sum Teng Rong carried Lady Fai and then ran up the ridge using lightness kungfu.

From his hiding place, Li Chiang noted the way that the man moved easily even as he was carrying the woman. “A young kungfu master, I see,” he muttered.

As they stood on the ridge, looking around, Sum Teng Rong said, “There are a lot of places to dig. If it takes us a long time to locate the treasure, it will be many, many days before we get back to the manor. Pei Pei and her mother will be very hungry. I noticed that you did not leave them any food.”

“Actually, they will be dead,” said Lady Fai. “I did not leave them any water either.”

"We should have left them some water. In case the girl had sent us to the wrong island, we can go back and question her later," remarked Sum Teng Rong.

"No," disagreed Lady Fai. "If we had left her food and water, she would definitely keep sending us to the wrong islands. Only if she was in any real danger of starvation would she send us to the correct island. Without food and water, she has to hope that we will locate the treasure fast, and then go back and feed her."

“Damn!” said Sum Teng Rong. “You are clever and ruthless”

“You should always let me do all the thinking. I am much more ruthless than you are,” she said. “Remember that, and don’t cross me.”

“We may as well start digging at this spot,” he suggested.

“Wait,” she commanded, “Use your brains a bit! Black Bat would have left a marker of some sort. We have to see if we can spot it.”

“What sort of marker?” he asked.

Lady Fai looked around and then she exclaimed, “Did you notice that all the rocks on the island are either black or brown, yet down there on the far end of the ridge, there is a rock that is yellowish. It is definitely not from this island. It could be the marker we are looking for!”

“Hey, you are right!” he said. “Most people would not have noticed it!”

“Of course,” she replied, “Most people are not smart like me! This is why you should always let me do the thinking!”

They approached the yellowish rock and stared at it.

“Lift it up,” she commanded.

“Are you sure?” asked Sum Teng Rong.

“Will you leave the thinking to me?” she said in an annoyed tone. “Just do it!”

Sum Teng Rong lifted up the yellowish rock. They were immediately enveloped in a sudden cloud of dust.

“It is dusty here,” she remarked. “And that is strange.”

“Don’t breathe,” advised Sum Teng Rong as he put down the rock. Quickly, he led her away from the cloud of dust. But it was too late; she had already breathed in the dust.

“What is happening!” she said. “Why do I suddenly feel so cold?”

“I think the rock was booby trapped,” he said. “I managed to hold my breath in time. You could have breathed in some poison powder!”

“Poison? No!” Lady Fai was shivering and getting hysterical.

In his hiding place, Wu Chuan commented, “Looks like the Potion King Tseto’s powder has done its job. The lady looks cold.”

“Is that all that the powdered drug can do? Make them feel cold?” asked Li Chiang.

“I would have liked something more impressive, but Tseto said that he can only get me this powder at such short notice,” replied Wu Chuan.

“Is the effect permanent?” asked Li Chiang.

“No. It is harmless. Tseto said that the effect would wear off in less than half a day. Also, there is no antidote necessary for this sort of thing. We will have to bluff the information out of them.”

“Okay,” said Li Chiang. “Now let us go and see who this mystery kungfu master is!”

Wu Chuan and Li Chiang came out of their hiding place and walked towards Sum Teng Rong and Lady Fai up on the ridge. Sum Teng Rong noticed them and he whispered to Lady Fai, “Someone is coming!”

Lady Fai whispered back, “Let us pretend that we are simple fishermen.”

Wu Chuan approached them and he asked, “Who are you?”

“We are just two fisher folk looking for a place to take water on this island,” answered Sum.

“And you climbed up the hill to look for water? You are a poor liar. Every fisherman knows that you don’t climb up to the top of the ridge for water,” said Wu Chuan. “Look, if you don’t tell us the truth, then we can’t help you.”

“What is happening?” demanded Lady Fai. “Why am I so cold?”

“You have all been poisoned by the Kin Kin Seow Poison Powder,” said Wu Chuan. “Without the antidote, the blood vessels in your brain will slowly freeze. Soon, you will go mad.”

“I am not afraid of going mad,” said Sum Teng Rong, “because I am already crazy.”

“Without the antidote, the blood vessels on the lady’s face will freeze,” explained Wu Chuan. “Her face will have blood clots that will lead to permanent scars and she will turn into a very ugly hag. Once the ugliness set in, even the antidote will not be able to reverse it.”

“Let me have the antidote,” yelled Lady Fai. “Quick!”

“I’m sorry, but we are very choosy over who we help,” said Wu Chuan. “Tell us who you are first.”

“My name is Tan Ah Beng and this is Ah Lian,” growled Sum Teng Rong.

“Wrong answer!” said Wu Chuan. “This man does not speak the truth and therefore does not deserve any antidote! Because of him, the lady will start to turn ugly in a while. Permanently ugly! So ugly that the birds in the air will shit on her face to cover it up.”

“Will you, for heaven’s sake, tell him the truth, Sum Teng Rong?” yelled Lady Fai.

“Shut up, Lady Fai,” Sum Teng Rong yelled back.

“Aha! Sum Teng Rong and Lady Fai,” remarked Li Chiang. “So that’s who you are!”

Wu Chuan searched his memory. Ouyang had briefed him thoroughly about the personalities of the Sky Dragon Clan. Sum Teng Rong was the grandson of Sum Wan. He said, “You are the grandson of Cold Wind Hands, Sum Wan. He was the former leader of the Sky Dragon Clan.”

“Now, can I have the antidote?” asked Lady Fai.

“Not yet,” said Wu Chuan. “Tell me first where you kept Pei Pei and her mother.”

“How can you possibly know about that?” asked a shocked Sum Teng Rong.

“We know a lot of things,” said Wu Chuan. “Answer me quick, the lady’s face is starting to turn ugly.”

“They are kept in a secret room under the library of the Sum Manor!” yelled Lady Fai. “Now give me the antidote!”

“Where is the entrance to this secret room?” asked Wu Chuan.

“Behind a book shelf in the room,” she replied.

Sum Teng Rong shouted at Lady Fai, “Shut up! Stop giving away the secrets of Sum Manor!”

“Don’t shout at me,” yelled Lady Fai.

“Listen! If you want the antidote, you have to tell us all you know,” said Li Chiang easily.

“I do not need your antidote,” said Sum Teng Rong. “I held my breath and did not breathe in your Kin Kin Seow Poison Powder!”

“What?” exclaimed an astonished Wu Chuan. “You weren’t poisoned?”

“No,” Sum replied. “And you people will rue the day that you cross the path of Sum Teng Rong. I am going to make sure that you die slowly.”

“But your lady friend was poisoned,” countered Wu Chuan. “If you kill us, then she will not get the antidote. See how cold she is? Her face will freeze and she will turn ugly. So ugly that she would make the onions cry.”

Li Chiang added, “She will be so ugly that if she goes to the stables, all the horses will bolt and stampede!”

Wu Chuan threw in another comment, “She will be so ugly that the cockroaches will vomit at the sight of her!”

Li Chiang then said, “She will be so ugly that…”

“Shut up! Shut up! Both of you,” Lady Fai screamed, interrupting Li Chiang. She could not bear the thought of being ugly. “Sum Teng Rong, I am feeling cold. Do something!”

“I will kill them,” said Sum Teng Rong.

“No! Let them fetch the antidote first!” screamed Lady Fai weakly and with difficulty.

“Listen to the lady,” said Wu Chuan. “You must first allow us to take both of you as prisoners. Then, we will administer the antidote to Lady Fai. After that, you will lead us to the manor to free Pei Pei and her mother. If you don’t agree, we will not give Lady Fai the antidote.”

“Take me prisoner?” snorted Sum Teng Rong. “You can forget that!”

“If you don’t agree, Lady Fai will turn ugly and mad. She may even kill herself and die,” said Wu Chuan.

“No problem,” retorted Sum Teng Rong. “I can always get myself another lady.”

“You can’t mean that!” screamed Lady Fai. “I was the one who thought of the plan. You swore to Heaven that we would find the treasure together and you would share it with me.”

“Your plan is not very good,” said Sum Teng Rong. “I will make my own plans from now on. And this is my plan. After I kill off these two, I will search for the treasure. And if I don’t find it, I will go back and question that Pei Pei girl again.”

“She has no food and water. She may be dead by the time you get back,” said Lady Fai. “Agree to the terms of these two gentlemen. We can always go back and think of some other plan.”

“You left Pei Pei without food and water?” cried a shocked Wu Chuan. “You are worse than animals, you dirty diseased lumps of shit!”

“We don’t need these two any more,” said Li Chiang. “We already know that Pei Pei is held in a secret room under the library in the Sum Manor. We can go now and save her.”

“No you won’t! I will kill you here!” snarled Sum Teng Rong.

“Get me the antidote first, you fool!” screamed Lady Fai pitifully.

However, Sum Teng Rong ignored her and advanced on to the two men and snarled, “Prepare to die!”

“There are two of us and only one of you,” remarked Li Chiang. “What makes you think you can kill us?”

“I am Cold Wind Hands,” said Sum Teng Rong. “I can kill anybody.”

“Cold Wind Hands? Didn’t he die a few years ago?” asked Wu Chuan.

“That was my grandfather, Sum Wan,” said Sum Teng Rong. “He passed me his kungfu before he died. I am the New Cold Wind Hands. All these years, I have secretly trained myself until I reached the highest level. Today, you will feel its tremendous power as I break each and every part of your body!”

Li Chiang pulled out his Twin Dragon Blades and got ready. Wu Chuan too, pulled out his sword.

The New Cold Wind Hands lunged towards Li Chiang first, aiming an iron palm at the heart. Li Chiang quickly stepped out of the way and swung his right saber. It bounced off the arm of Sum Teng Rong. Wu Chuan had attacked Sum from the other side by chopping sideways at the neck, only to see his sword stroke being parried by Sum Teng Rong’s forearm. Sum Teng Rong leapt into the air over Wu Chuan and landed on the other side of him. As Sum landed, Wu Chuan thrusted his sword towards Sum’s chest, but Sum clasped Wu Chuan’s blade between both hands and broke the blade in a sudden motion of his hands.

“Move back, Wu Chuan!” shouted Li Chiang as he moved to protect his brother-in-law who was holding a broken sword.

“He is wearing armoured sleeves!” said Wu Chuan. “That is why the blades bounced off his arms!”

“Go to the side, Wu Chuan,” said Li Chiang. “I will fight with him one to one!”

Wu Chuan walked away to the side and Li Chiang squared off with Sum Teng Rong. Watching from the sidelines, Wu Chuan realized that this was going to be a battle between two masters.

Breathing rhythmically, both masters got ready to hit each other with the full power of their inner force.

“The armour of my arms was made by the legendary Divine Swordsmith Fire Face. No sword can cut through them,” a smiling Sum Teng Rong said. “When you see the King of Hades afterwards, tell him that I sent you!”

“You should smile more often,” countered Li Chiang. “You look less ugly that way. Oh forget it…..even when you look less ugly, you are still very ugly! The good news is that Hell will not turn you away because of your hideous looks!”

The two men rushed at each other and Li Chiang administered stroke after stroke with his Twin Dragon Blades only to find each stroke being parried by the armoured arms of the New Cold Wind Hands. The action was too fast to be seen by Wu Chuan but he could hear the whistling of the blades slicing rapidly through the air and the corresponding sounds of blades meeting armour. Spinning around each other, both men strived to find a weakness in each other’s defense. Sum Teng Rong tried to get closer to his opponent while Li Chiang tried to maintain his distance so as to be able to bring his sabers into play.

In a sudden move, Li Chiang chopped his left saber downwards on Sum’s head, but was parried by Sum’s right forearm. Li Chiang thrusted his right sabre to Sum’s head, but halfway through the motion, the blade changed direction and sliced towards Sum's right arm, cutting through the elbow joint. Sum Teng Rong’s right forearm dropped down, hanging loosely to the body by only a piece of skin. Li Chiang did not give Sum any respite, but continue attacking and sent a thrust of his left Dragon Blade into the abdomen of the New Cold Wind Hands. With only the use of his left hand for defense, Sum Teng Rong reached down and grab the sabre to prevent it from going deeper into the abdomen. That left him defenseless against the right Dragon Blade, which plunged into his ribcage and withdrew just as fast as it went in. But Sum’s left hand did not release his grip on Li Chiang’s left blade. It was Li Chiang who dropped his left sabre and in a quick motion, he moved around Sum, inserted his right Dragon Blade under Sum’s left shoulder from behind and sliced upwards. Sum Teng Rong’s left arm was sliced off completely from the body.

Sum Teng Rong’s left hand dropped away from the body, but did not fall to the ground. The lifeless fingers were still holding onto the blade that it was gripping. Li Chiang pulled out the left saber from Sum’s abdomen and then, using the right saber, he nonchalantly sliced off the dead fingers from the blade, the way he would peel the skin off a fruit, and Sum Teng Rong’s left arm finally down fell to the ground.

The right forearm too, dropped to the ground when the little bit of skin attaching it to the right upper arm tore apart.

“The New Cold Wind Hands has lost his hands,” murmured Wu Chuan, awed by the action before him. He remembered that Ouyang had told him many times before that Li Chiang was an unbelievably fast and efficient swordsman with the Twin Dragon Blades, but he could not imagine that his brother-in-law was that fast. The whole battle was over in less time than it took for a quarter of a joss stick to burn.

Sum Teng Rong stood there in shock without his hands, and with blood pouring out from his abdomen and ribcage. He mumbled, “You could not have defeated me! This is impossible! My sleeve armour was made by Divine Swordsmith Fire Face!”

“You are the most formidable opponent I have ever met,” said Li Chiang. “But I had some experience in this type of fighting. Eight years ago, I got into a fight with a masked man who used a similar armoured sleeve Cold Wind Hands technique. I could not defeat him despite fighting for a long time. Actually, if his Inner Strength was slightly better, he would have defeated me. Then I realized that the armour would have to be weakest at the joints. That would mean that I had to attack the shoulder joints or elbow joints. I finally managed to take off a forearm at the elbow. After that, the rest was easy. Before he died, he said to my face that his brother would avenge him. I told him to go to hell.”

“My uncle died at the hands of an unknown swordsman eight years ago! So it was you who killed him!” gasped Sum Teng Rong.

“Hey! You could be right!” Li Chiang said excitedly. “But that was not the end of the story. Seven years ago, while I was traveling towards Fuzhou, I was attacked by some masked men. I kill all of them but the leader was especially difficult to kill. He too, used the armoured sleeve technique. But I had already had one fight of this nature before, so I knew what to do. His Inner Strength was good, but I managed to cut off both his arms and sliced open his chest. Before he died, he told me that his son would avenge him. I also told him to go to hell.”

“My father died seven years ago! You killed him!” gasped Sum Teng Rong again.

“I did?” said Li Chiang. “That means that the fates have brought us together. Oh, my, can you beat that?”

“You couldn’t have done what you said you did,” gasped a rapidly weakening Sum. “The elbow joints of the sleeve armour had been tested before. It can withstand the blows of a sabre!”

“A blow from an ordinary saber, perhaps, but not a blow from my saber,” said Li Chiang. “They were forged by a legendary Sword Master a long time ago in Thunder Valley and were then passed down to me. They may not be able to cut through normal armour, but they can certainly cut through the weak armour at the joints of your armoured sleeve!”

Sum Teng Rong stood there staring blankly. He was bleeding profusely from the chest, abdomen and from the parts where his arms had been cut off. He was also bleeding internally where his organs had been sliced apart.

“He is going to die,” said Wu Chuan said to Li Chiang. “Your father has asked us to take the captors alive for questioning. Can you save him?”

“I may be a daifu, but I cannot do the impossible,” replied Li Chiang. “He is leaking blood in too many places.”

“Give me the antidote,” the voice of Lady Fai floated to them. They had forgotten about her.

“Why should we?” said Wu Chuan. “What can you tell us that we don’t already know?”

“I can tell you which bookshelf hides the entrance to the secret room and how you can enter it safely. The bookshelf is equipped with arrow booby traps. If you don’t know the sequence of opening the doorway, you may set them off!” said Lady Fai.

“All right then. Tell us what we need to know and we will let you have the antidote,” said Wu Chuan. “Otherwise we will leave you here to die.”

“She will say nothing!” shouted Sum Teng Rong. With a supreme effort, he concentrated his strength at his legs and ran towards Lady Fai. He knocked Lady Fai into the air with his body and they both fell down the ridge. Their bodies tumbled downhill to the bottom, landing some distance apart from each other.

Wu Chuan went to check on the body of Lady Fai and was aghast to find that she had died of a broken neck. He swore silently.

Some distance away, Li Chiang went to check on the body of Sum Teng Rong. The man was not yet dead, but grinning evilly.

“A man like you should die in frustration,” said a disgusted Li Chiang.

Wu Chuan walked over and said, “Even in death, you are cruel!”

Sum Teng Rong gasped hoarsely, “I…..foiled……you……”

Wu Chuan said, “Lady Fai just passed away, but before she died, she told me everything I needed to know!”

Sum Teng Rong stopped grinning and he gasped with a voice close to a whisper, “But………won’t…….sail…..back.….in…….time……to……..the…..girl….”

Wu Chuan continued, “Lady Fai also said that you were the worst lover she ever had. She said that there was definitely something wrong with Sum Teng Rong. Your sexual equipment was the most stupid that she had ever seen. Kanasai like that.”

Sum Teng Rong looked shocked and furious as he was breathing his last few breaths. “The…….bitch……..”

“What?” exclaimed Li Chiang. “The most stupid? Even in death, you are pathetic, Sum Teng Rong. Now, go to hell!”

The New Cold Wind Hands tried to say something but could not. He died with a furious frustrated look on his face.

“Well, did Lady Fai actually say all that?” asked Li Chiang after Sum Teng Rong had died.

“No,” said Wu Chuan regretfully, “She was already dead when I got to her. I only said what I said because I did not want Sum to die thinking that he had defeated us. Also, you said that a man like Sum should die in frustration.”

“Well, actually I didn’t mean it quite like that. But never mind. What’s done is done,” said Li Chiang. “By the way, we never got around to asking who Lady Fai was.”

“She’s probably some courtesan he met,” said Wu Chuan.

“The wind is not favourable to us on the return journey. We will be able to reach home only on the day after tomorrow. I will go and signal the boat to come while you handle the homing pigeons. You were smart to bring them along,” said Li Chiang.

Wu Chuan nodded, “A homing pigeon can fly more than three times the speed that we were sailing by boat. And it flies straight without the need to avoid sand bars, islands and submerged rocks. It will reach your father’s manor by dusk.”

“I hope Pei Pei and her mother can survive without water until help arrives,” said Li Chiang as he went up the ridge.

“I am worried as well,” said Wu Chuan solemnly. “If Pei Pei is pregnant, she should not be dehydrated for too long.”

While Li Chiang tried to signal the men on the nearby island by using a large flag, Wu Chuan went to the place where he had hidden a cage of five pigeons earlier. Hurriedly, he attached messages to them and released them one after another. They flew straight towards the mainland.

“There are five of you,” Wu Chuan called out. “Even if an eagle were to attack, at least one or two of you should get through. Fly speedily! My Pei Pei depends on you!”


Last day of NanoWrimo

Just a short note to say that I will continue beyond chapter 16 for the 3-in-1 Kungfu Girl story. I foresee that it will reach Chapter 18 or 19 for the conclusion, but I can't really tell yet. Chapter 16 should be out around lunch time today.

The number of people who have completed NanoWrimo has already overshot 30. Thats's gratifying. There is an even chance of it overshooting 40. Remember that today is the LAST day of NanoWrimo.

Come on, guys, just a few hours more.....



Tuesday, November 29, 2005


The 3-in-1 Kungfu Girl - Chapter 15

Chapter 15: A daughter’s love

Pei Pei opened her eyes. It was already morning. Wu Chuan’s arms and feet were around her, encasing her like a cocoon. They had slept together like a pair of spoons, with her butt nestled gently against his groin. She lay there not moving, just enjoying the feel of his warmth against her back. The events of the past days had certainly been momentous; so momentous that she had not had the opportunity to notice that her menstrual period was already late by six days. After a while he stirred, and then she felt something growing hard against her ass.

“Ummmm…he’s awake,” she thought. “I wonder what the hardest material in the world is. Rock? Iron? Or Wu Chuan?”

She turned around to face him.

“Good morning,” he said. She smiled shyly. He thought that she had a lovely smile, the smile that only a man of good fortune would get to see the first thing in the morning. He kissed her gently, then more ardently.

When their lips finally parted, she said, “We should get up. I have to go to my father’s grave.”

He got up and peered outside the window and told her, “It’s already mid-morning. Let us go out for some late breakfast. Then I will go to my relative’s house and borrow a carriage for us. I know a place where they serve fantastic steamed buns and very fragrant tea. You have to try that!”

Together, they walked to a popular eating shop in town. The restaurant was full and there did not appear to be an empty table.

“It’s amazing that there can be so many customers. You would think that they are serving food for free!” remarked Wu Chuan.

“The food must be good here,” said Pei Pei. “Let us wait for a table then.”

A waiter came out to Wu Chuan and said, “Sir, a couple sitting at the corner table over there would like you to join them.”

Wu Chuan looked towards where the waiter was pointing and saw his sister, Jade Flower, and his brother-in-law, Li Chiang.

“Heavens!” he cried. “My sister is here! Come, Pei Pei. Let’s go and meet my sister.”

Pei Pei followed Wu Chuan to a table where Jade Flower was seated with her husband, Li Chiang.

After the perfunctory introductions were over, Wu Chuan asked, “When did you arrive?”

“Yesterday evening,” replied his sister. “We brought along our four kids and my parents and are putting up at my father-in-laws house. You have no idea how taxing it was in travelling with those four kids. We left them this morning at the house and came out for some peace and quiet. Let my mother-in-law babysit them for the morning while we come out to enjoy some steamed buns.”

“We sent word to the White Lotus Inn this morning to tell you that we had arrived,” said Li Chiang.

“I am not staying at the White Lotus Inn, but at the Old Horse Inn,” said Wu Chuan.

“Never mind,” said Jade Flower. “We will go to my in-law’s place afterwards. I am sure that father will be wishing to see you.”

“So, this must be the girl whom Ouyang said that you are to serve for one hundred days,” remarked Li Chiang, looking at Pei Pei. “She is much younger than I thought!”

“Damn that Ouyang!” exclaimed Wu Chuan. “Can’t he mind his own business?”

Pei Pei blushed and said, “Oh, you know about that! Actually, I have already freed Wu Chuan of any servitude to me!”

The food came, and they ate, slowly enjoying what they had come for. Jade Flower could not help noticing that Wu Chuan kept serving food on Pei Pei’s bowl. “They are acting like a pair of discreet lovers,” she thought. “I have never seen Wu Chuan behaving in this manner. He must be in love!”

“The fishcakes here are nice with good texture. I can never get these in Pingchen,” remarked Li Chiang.

“It is the fish they use,” said Pei Pei. “Do you get fish in Pingchen?”

“We get a variety of river fish,” replied Jade Flower. “They have nice smooth flesh but are not usually as big as sea fish.”

“What is good in Pingchen?” asked Pei Pei.

“Fruits,” replied Jade Flower. “We grow the best oranges, loquats and pears in the province.”

“I love fruits,” said Pei Pei. “However, by the time they arrive in my village from the highlands, they are usually overripe.”

“You will love it in Pingchen, Pei Pei,” said Wu Chuan. “Although we have no seas, we do have lakes where we can go fishing.”

Pei Pei’s wrists were bruised, because they had locked in shackles the previous day, and Jade Flower noticed the condition.

“Let me take a look at your hands, Pei Pei,” she said. “My husband is a daifu and we may have something to apply on your wrists.”

“Your husband is a daifu?” asked Pei Pei. “I did not realise it.”

“Got pain, heal pain. Got sickness, heal sickness,” remarked Li Chiang. “That is my motto.”

Pei Pei showed her wrists to Jade Flower who examined it for a while. Jade Flower than took out some ointment and applied it on the wrists.

“That should do it,” she said, “We are going to my father-in-law’s place. Will you come with us?”

“Thank you for the invitation, but I am unable to go,” replied Pei Pei. “I have to visit my father’s grave.”

“I am going with her,” said Wu Chuan.

Pei Pei looked at Wu Chuan and said, “Wu Chuan, your parents are here, so you should go and see them. I can go to my father’s grave on my own.”

Although Wu Chuan protested, Pei Pei insisted that he should go and see his parents like a dutiful son. Then she left the restaurant to go to the Old Horse Inn to take her joss sticks and paper offerings for the grave.

After she was gone, Li Chiang remarked, “Nice girl. No wonder you were so willing to serve her for a hundred days, Wu Chuan. Are you sure one hundred days is enough?”

“From the looks of it, he would like to go on serving her forever,” said Jade Flower.

“What were you doing, holding her wrists for so long?” Li Chiang asked his wife.

“I was trying to take her pulse,” replied Jade Flower. Over the years, Li Chiang had taught her the way to take a pulse and she often helped him with the female patients. Many females were too modest to allow even a male daifu to touch them.

“And?” asked Li Chiang. “What was the conclusion?”

“She could be pregnant, you know,” answered Jade Flower. “Her pulse was not normal, but I am unable to conclude anything. It is still too early to tell.”

“Pei Pei pregnant?” said Wu Chuan in shock. “I had not thought of that!”

“Hey, relax!” said Jade Flower. “I didn’t say that she was pregnant!”

“Excuse me, I have to go to her,” said Wu Chuan and he rushed off.

“Now look what you have done,” Li Chiang admonished his wife. “Simply go and panicked your brother for nothing! Yao mou gao chor ah.”

“Oh, shit!” said Jade Flower.

Wu Chuan hurried to the Old Horse Inn after Pei Pei. He was not sure what he would say to her, but he would have to find a way to get her married to him. And then, there was still his parents’ opinion to consider.

In the distance, he could see Pei Pei outside the Old Horse Inn talking to two men. One of them was showing her something. They walked around the corner of the inn and he could not see them any more. He ran after them, but on turning around the corner, he could not see anybody. A few carriages passed him. He walked into the inn and went to Pei Pei’s room but she was not there as well.

Then he asked the waiters of the inn one by one to find out if they had seen Pei Pei.

One of them said, “I saw two men talked to her and they showed her a copper bracelet. Then I saw her getting into a carriage with two men. She looked angry!”

Wu Chuan ran out of the inn to try and spot the carriage, but he was much too late. He was mystified. Something told him that Pei Pei had not gone with the two men willingly. There was nothing that he could do except wait until she showed up.

As he was waiting, a carriage pulled up outside the inn, and West Cloud got out weakly. Waking to one of the waiters, he asked to see Pei Pei. On learning that Pei Pei was not there, he looked agitated.

Wu Chuan went up to West Cloud and said, “I hope that you remember me. I came with Pei Pei to your manor once. I was her servant.”

West Cloud asked him, “Do you know where she has gone?”

“Why do you ask?” said Wu Chuan.

“My wife was abducted last night and I want to know if Pei Pei has something to do with it,” said West Cloud.

“Huh? Tell me what happened!” said Wu Chuan in shock.

“At dusk, yesterday, while I and my wife were in the garden, a masked man appeared and he fought with me. He injured me within three moves and knocked me down to the ground. Then he hit my wife unconscious and carried her out of the gates. Four of my servants died and the rest got severely injured while trying to stop him. He was obviously a top kungfu master.”

“It was not Pei Pei,” said Wu Chuan. “I was with her at dusk yesterday, and we were nowhere near your manor.”

“I know it was not her,” said West Cloud. “She is not a kungfu master and her size is smaller than the masked man yesterday. But all these years, I have been living peacefully with Pei Pei’s mother. Then days after Pei Pei showed up, her mother gets abducted. I just wondered if there could be a connection.”

Wu Chuan thought for a moment. “Did Pei Pei’s mother have a copper bracelet?”

“Yes she did. It was given to her by Pei Pei’s father. She would not take it off even after she had borne my sons,” West Cloud replied. “Why do you ask?”

“Nothing,” replied Wu Chuan. “I was going to buy Pei Pei a bracelet and just wondered if she likes copper. Your wife was probably kidnapped for ransom. Why don’t you go home and wait. The kidnappers will most likely contact you about ransom negotiations later.”

“You could be right,” said West Cloud dejectedly. “Please tell Pei Pei to contact me when you see her.”

Wu Chuan watched him leave and thought furiously, “Whoever kidnapped Pei Pei’s mother, used her to get to Pei Pei. They showed the mother’s bracelet to Pei Pei to compel her to follow them. The real target was Pei Pei and not her mother!”

He could have said all that to West Cloud but he did not wish to. He knew that information leaked out like water from a sieve at West Cloud’s manor. A long time ago, in Pingchen, his father also had a servant who sold information to outsiders and placed the whole Wu family in danger. The servant was finally caught and beaten up severely, and then taken to a rubbish dump and left there.

“Whoever got hold of Pei Pei and her mother did so only because of the treasure,” he muttered. “Like North Cloud, they think that Pei Pei knows something. Heavens, is there no end to this treasure affair? I’ve got to save Pei Pei, but how?”

Wu Chuan paced the floor if the inn for a while and mumbled to himself, “Think, Wu Chuan, think! She may be carrying your child! With her mother being held hostage, there is nothing much she can do! What can she do? What will she do?”

He stopped pacing the floor and raced towards Governor Li’s house.

His family was overjoyed to see him.

Quickly, he explained the situation to them. “I have to save Pei Pei,” he said.

“Why?” asked his mother. “She has already freed you from servitude.”

“She is my woman,” declared Wu Chuan.

Everybody kept silent, and they saw that Wu Chuan was serious. “She has been captured because her captors think that she knows the whereabouts of the two missing jade lions.”

“Does she know?” asked Governor Li, highly interested.

“I don’t think she does,” said Wu Chuan. “But whoever is holding her is obviously connected to the missing jade lions in some way or another.”

“In that case, we will arrest them. They may help to shed some light on this case,” said Governor Li. He had been searching unsuccessfully for the missing jade lions for six years and the visiting Magistrate Chee Ko Pek, sent by the Imperial court on a fact finding mission, had been giving him a lot of pressure over it. If the case was not solved soon, his political enemies would use that as an excuse to persuade the Emperor to have him demoted from the governor’s post. He sighed. “Do we know those people are who are holding Pei Pei and her mother hostage?”

“No,” replied Wu Chuan glumly.

“In that case, we won’t know who to arrest, or where to arrest them,” remarked Li Chiang.

“Wait! I know where Pei Pei will send them!” yelled Wu Chuan excitedly.

“Where?” asked Jade Flower.

“Pei Pei’s uncle thought that the treasure could be at either Chingtong Island or Kon Lo Island,” explained Wu Chuan. “Chingtong Island had already been searched and found to contain nothing. Pei Pei will send the captors to Kon Lo Island. If we go to Kon Lo Island and wait, the captors will turn up to look for the treasure, and then, we will know who they are!”

“That is brilliant!” said Governor Li. “Let’s plan this carefully. If the two jade lions are at Kon Lo Island, then I want my soldiers to get there before the kidnappers do.”

“Pei Pei was taken away after mid-morning,” said Wu Chuan. “Most boats are already out to sea and won’t be back until this afternoon. Her captors will not be able to charter a boat until next morning. If we sail now, we can still reach the island before them.”

“Good plan. But where are we going to get a boat now?” asked Ouyang.

“There is the pirate boat that you captured two and a half months ago,” said Governor Li. “It is still lying in the harbour. I will provide men to sail it to Kon Lo Island. The wind is in a favourable direction. Start now. Then anchor at one of the islands for the night. Sail again at dawn and you should reach Kon Lo Island by mid-morning. That should give you enough time to lay a trap for Pei Pei’s captors. Li Chiang, you go with Wu Chuan. Remember to catch them alive so that I can question them.”

Quickly, Governor Li’s men loaded some supplies of food and water in a carriage. Wu Chuan spotted a large yellowish rock in Governor Li’s garden. He loaded it in the carriage as well. Although Ouyang wanted to go, he was asked to stay behind.

Li Chiang wore his twin sabers, known as the Twin Dragon Blades, by his side. Ouyang watched in fascination. He had once seen the Twin Dragon Blades in action eight years ago, when Li Chiang mowed his way ruthlessly through a group of bandits, leaving dead bodies falling in his wake. Very few people knew that the daifu was a highly efficient killer.

“Be careful,” Jade flower told her husband. “Wu Chuan said that the masked man who kidnapped Pei Pei’s mother was a kungfu master.”

“I will be careful,” he nodded.

On the way to the harbour, Wu Chuan stopped at the House of a Thousand Pleasures and went in to speak to the Potion King Tseto, “You owe Pei Pei a great debt. She has a request to ask of you.”

The Potion King nodded. Moments later, Wu Chuan collected a pot of powder from Tseto, and then joined Governor Li’s men on board the boat he had taken from the pirates more than two months ago.

The wind was favourable and they made good speed. By nightfall, the boat anchored off an island and continued on its sea journey the following morning. By mid-morning, they had reached Kon Lo Island. It was quite a small island, with few places to hide.

“Let us send the men and the boat off to hide behind another island while the two of us set the trap here,” said Wu Chuan. “We will signal to them with a flag when we need them.”

Li Chiang nodded. The boat left and sailed behind a nearby island, so that any boat approaching Kon Lo Island from Fuzhou would not know that there was another boat in the vicinity. The men camped on the nearby island and kept a lookout for Wu Chuan’s flag signal.

In a dark windowless room inside a large manor outside Fuzhou, two women were shackled and chained to opposite walls of the room. In the dark, they could not see each other.

The older woman spoke, “You should not have come for me, Pei Pei.”

“You are my mother. They threatened to cut off your hands and feet if I did not come. I had to come,” said Pei Pei. “Once my mother, always my mother.”

“I am sorry,” said her mother. “I have not been a mother to you for the last five years. You should have been born to a better woman than me.”

“Do not say that, mother,” cried Pei Pei, “I would come for you, no matter what!”

“Are you still angry with me, Pei Pei?” asked her mother.

“No, mother,” Pei Pei replied. “You were right in choosing your sons over me. You did not have sons with my father, and I should not begrudge your having sons with West Cloud after father died. I should blame fate instead of you.”

They remain silent for a while, then Pei Pei asked, “Why did you always insist that I practice calligraphy, mother? I am a daughter of a fisherman. What good is calligraphy going to do for me?”

“Pei Pei,” the older woman explained, “I was the ninth daughter of a roadside petition writer. My father taught his children the characters, and because of this, I was able to read and write. There were too many mouths to feed in my family, and so my father quickly married me off to whoever who could afford the dowry. The life of a fisherman’s wife is not an easy life. Your father and I loved you very much. You were our only child. We wanted you to marry into a rich family when you grow up. Then you would live the life of luxury that we never had. But your chance of being accepted into the upper class families is greater if you were literate. That is why I taught you calligraphy and always insisted that you practiced it. Paper was expensive, but your father never once complained when we had to buy paper for you to practice on. Do you realise that you are the only girl in Ningshiang Village who can read and write?”

On hearing this, Pei Pei sobbed.


Monday, November 28, 2005


What is normal practice?

I went to the new GSC cinemas at 1Utama yesterday with Hot Babe yesterday around noon and was told that there were no more good seats for the Harry Potter movie for the day. Only the front row seats were available. We ended up watching Kungfu Mahjong 2 instead. Don’t ask me what it was like; I have forgotten half the story already. Then I tagged along while Hot Babe bought six items of clothing.

I am going to complete the 3-in-1 Kungfu Girl story even though there is no necessity to do it. There are just a few more chapters to go. Actually, about two more chapters, I think, but I’m not sure. I’ll write it out first and then I’ll let you know. Cold Wind Hands and Magistrate Chee Ko Pek are still loose ends in the story. As well as the two jade lions.

Now about some local matters. No matter how you look at it, doing TEN ear squats in the nude CANNOT be a NORMAL practice. I can understand strip searches. I can understand ONE nude squat. But TEN? That is not normal, not by a long haul. I demand that the practice be stopped. The cops should be given thorough training on how to conduct themselves decently and properly around women.

And another thing; those bloggers who have been most vocal about Abu Graib happening in Iraq, which they have not visited and know nothing about, and keeping strangely silent while weird things are happening in our country, please explain to me where your priorities are. We should be working to improve this country.

Oh, I wish to thank all those who congratulated me over the NanoWrimo thingy. Shucks, if only you could see me blush!


Sunday, November 27, 2005


NanoWrimo : I’ve done it!


I have already submitted my story up to Chapter 14 to the NanoWrimo organisation for validation! And their word count was 61202 words. This was slightly different from my word count, but I still made the cut.

They have already acknowledged me as a winner and given me my certificate! Which means that I can stop writing now!

Did you see the flashing picture on the left sidebar? I was allowed to download them for display. It will be there for a while, muahahahahahaha!!!!!

There are a few more days left to the end of the month, so I shall now concentrate on cheering on the rest of the writers still trying to finish. Eight people from Malaysia have finished (see the chart), and I am hoping that there will be more than 30 finishers by Wednesday.

Add oil, you people, you can do it!

Maybe I should put up some cheerleader pics, but I am too mentally exhausted to do anything. I will go to a shopping complex today and jalan jalan with Hot Babe, maybe catch a movie or something.

So, to the rest of you still working to complete your NanoWrimo novel,



Saturday, November 26, 2005


The 3-in-1 Kungfu Girl - Chapter 14

Chapter 14: North Cloud takes a prisoner

Wu Chuan was happy that Pei Pei was in a cheerful mood. He loved her smile. She was not the cloying clingy type of female that dotted the social landscape in Pingchen. He thought back to the incident on the black ship, of how she had pulled him up from the sharks with one hand and killed the pirate with another. This girl was different, quiet and confident. The sort of girl you want to be beside you in a crisis. And she had such lovely protruding nipples.

He caught himself thinking of the time when he was in bed with her more than half a month ago at the House of a Thousand Pleasures and said to himself, “Stop it.”

“Stop what?” asked Pei Pei, breaking into his thoughts.

“Nothing,” he replied, embarrassed. “How far is Ningshiang from here?”

“About half a day’s walk,” she replied. “To and fro will take one day.”

“That is a long walk,” he said. “I will go to a relative’s house and see if I can borrow a horse and carriage for tomorrow. Then I will come back for lunch with you. In the afternoon, we will go and shop for paper offerings to burn at your father’s grave tomorrow. You can rest at the inn until I get back.”

Pei Pei nodded.

Wu Chuan went to Governor Li’s house. His wife, Madam Li was delighted to see him.

“Wu Chuan,” she scolded, “you have been in Fuzhou for so many days and yet you did not come to see us?”

“I have to do something for a friend,” he replied. “When it is over, I will come and stay here.”

“I have received a letter by pigeon post that your parents are coming here,” said Governor Li. “Together with Li Chiang’s family.”

“When are they arriving?” asked Wu Chuan.

“It should be within these few days,” replied Madam Li. “My husband is so excited about seeing his grandchildren. It is good. It will help to take his mind off the trouble that one stupid Magistrate Chee Ko Pek is causing him!”

“Your husband is a governor of a province,” laughed Wu Chuan. “Surely a magistrate is unable to give him trouble?”

“This one is not the same,” remarked Governor Li sadly. “He is here from the imperial capital on royal orders to find out why I have not managed to recover the jade lions. A bad report against me will force me to step down.”

“What jade lions are you talking about?” asked Wu Chuan.

“Six years ago, a secret imperial shipment of two huge pieces of jade and other valuables was hijacked in this province. Huge pieces of jade are seldom found, but these two were really huge, and had been carved in the shape of lions. They were meant for the emperor’s palace but unfortunately, they were lost. The imperial guardsmen who were escorting the shipment returned to the capital and were promptly imprisoned by the emperor. I have been looking for the jade lions for years without success. Whoever took them had kept them so secretly that no one appeared to have heard of them!”

“And now this Magistrate Chee Ko Pek is here kicking up a big fuss, saying that my husband has not performed his duty well,” said Madam Li.

“Will you stay for lunch?” asked Governor Li to Wu Chuan.

“No,” replied Wu Chuan. “My friend is waiting for me. We have things to do later. I actually came to see if I can borrow a horse and carriage for one day tomorrow.”

“That is not a problem,” said Madam Li, “but you must stay for lunch.”

“My friend is waiting for me for lunch,” said Wu chuan. “But I can come here for dinner this evening if that is all right with you.”

“All right then,” said Madam Li, mollified.

Wu Chuan went back and took Pei Pei for a seafood lunch. They had braised sea cucumber, steamed fish and sweet and sour crabs.

After the meal, Wu Chuan asked her, “Pei Pei, this treasure that the Clouds were looking for…would it have something to do with two huge jade lions?”

“I think so,” replied Pei Pei. “I was once told that they were looking for three trunks that contained two huge jade lions and many other valuable items. How did you know about the jade lions?”

“My relative told me,” he answered. “Come, let us finish off the crabs!”

“You have ordered too much food, Brother Chuan,” she said, “but the crabs were delicious. I have never eaten it in this sweet and sour style before!”

“The cook is from Kwantung,” he said. “They tend to cook things slightly differently from us. This restaurant is actually very popular with the rich merchants in town.”

After lunch, Wu Chuan took Pei Pei shopping and bought the joss sticks and paper offerings that she required for her father’s grave. He bought an expensive silk purse and when they returned to the Old Horse Inn, he gave it to her.

She blushed and said, “I cannot take any more things from you, Brother Chuan. You must have already spent a fair sum of money on my account.”

“Don’t be silly,” he said. “I am from a well-to-do family and can afford to spend a bit. Besides, I have already bought the purse. I can’t return it to the shop, so you will have to keep it!”

After some persuasion, she accepted his present.

In the late afternoon, Wu Chuan had to go for his dinner engagement at Governor Li’s house.

It was night when Pei Pei ordered her food in the lobby of the inn. After drinking her tea, she felt a bit groggy. Her last thought just before she fell asleep was, “Either I am very sleepy or I have been drugged for the third time. Kaninehhhhh……..”

Wu Chuan came back just in time to the inn to see a group of seven masked men surrounding Pei Pei. One of them lifted her and slung her over his horse waiting outside the inn. The waiters protested and three of the masked men pulled their swords. The waiters kept quiet after that.

Wu Chuan thought fast, “I am not a match for all seven of them. And they may injure Pei Pei if I try any tricks. What do I do?”

Wu Chuan decided to follow them on foot. The masked man who had slung the unconscious body of Pei Pei over his horse rode away with it, followed by the other six masked men, also on horses.

Although there was a full moon, the night sky was cloudy. With little light to travel by, the horses could not go faster than a walking pace, so Wu Chuan easily kept up with the horses. When they reached the town outskirts, the horses moved faster along the straight road and Wu Chuan had to run. One of the riders turned his head around and Wu Chuan fell down with his face down to the ground and kept very still. The rider did not see him and turned his head to the front again. Wu Chuan got up and ran after the riders.

Finally, the men reached a manor and the horses trooped into its gates. The gates closed. Wu Chuan knew the place. It was the manor of North Cloud. He had checked out the manors of the four Clouds before at Pei Pei’s request.

“Those seven riders must be the famous Seven Snakes of North Cloud. But what could North Cloud possibly want with Pei Pei? It must be very important, or he would not have sent all Seven Snakes!”

The answer was obvious to him. “North Cloud wants to locate the treasure and thinks that Pei Pei might be able to tell him something.”

But how did North Cloud even know about the existence of Pei Pei? Or that Pei Pei was staying at the Old Horse Inn? Only West cloud and his wife knew that.

“Damn! North Cloud must have a spy in West Cloud’s manor!” he swore.

Quickly, he returned to town and visited his contacts to get some supplies. He had to knock on some doors in the night. Then he returned to the inn and painted a map.

The next morning, he went to Governor Li’s wife to borrow some of her personal escorts.

“Why do you need them, Wu Chuan?” Madame Li asked.

“For personal protection,” he replied. “I’ll be negotiating with somebody of unknown character for the first time and Ouyang is not with me. It will be just for half a morning.”

She lent him four of her men and he led them to North Cloud’s manor.

“Tell your master, that a man has come with the Governor’s men to negotiate about West Cloud’s stepdaughter,” he told the servant at the door.

North Cloud was puzzled. What were the Governor’s men doing here? He asked the servant to invite them in.

Wu Chuan whispered something to the Governor’s men and then they left. He entered the manor alone with his things and Pei Pei’s bundle of throwing knives. Soon, he was in the presence of North Cloud.

“May I know what this is about?” North Cloud asked the young man.

“Let me come straight to the point. As you can see, I came with the Governor’s men and they are watching this house,” he said.

“Watching my house? Why?” asked North Cloud.

Wu Chuan replied. “Last night, seven of your men abducted the stepdaughter of West Cloud and took her here. They were seen of course. In due course, your manor will be searched.”

“They won’t find her here,” countered North Cloud confidently.

“That is because you have stashed her away in a secret room somewhere,” said Wu Chuan. “However, by watching this place day and night, we can make things very difficult for you.”

North Cloud frowned. “What do you want,” he asked.

“I want a share,” replied Wu Chuan. “I know that you kidnapped the girl because you think that she was once on the same boat as East Cloud, and therefore she can lead you to the buried treasure of the Sky Dragon Clan.”

North Cloud was shocked to learn that his plans were found out. “I don’t know what you are talking about,” he grunted.

“There are only two of us here, so let us talk frankly,” said Wu Chuan easily. I can make things really complicated for you if I so wish. I can go to South Cloud and West Cloud and tell them you have the girl. Soon, everybody will camp at your doorstep and you won’t even be able to move.”

“If I kill you right here, then my troubles will be over,” said North Cloud easily.

“The Governor’s men have seen me come in and they will be expecting me to walk out in good health. Killing me will be the beginning of your troubles. It will be easier just to deal with me,” Wu Chuan said just as easily.

“Does the Governor know about this?” asked North Cloud.

“No,” replied Wu Chuan. “Only I and a few of the men know. I have tried to keep this a secret for obvious reasons. But if you kill me, then the Governor will know.”

“All right, we talk,” said North Cloud.

“You have the girl,” said Wu Chuan. But I bet she has not told you anything yet. I know her character too well. I have traveled with her before. You can’t make her talk.”

“She will talk,” said North Cloud. “If she does not lead me to the treasure, I will kill her slowly.”

“No, she won’t talk,” said Wu Chuan. “But I can make her.”

“How?” asked North Cloud.

“I have in my possession a map which she drew with my help. I think that it was the location of the buried treasure. She was trying to jog her memory. Then your men kidnapped her before the map was completed. I have something that she wants very badly. If you are willing to come to terms with me, I can get her to complete this map and then we can find the treasure.”

Wu Chuan then took out from his cloth bag the map that he had drawn the night before.

North Cloud looked at it and said, “Interesting, it does not look like the map that I have seen before.”

Wu Chuan smiled and said, “This map was drawn based on her knowledge of the seas. If the map that you had seen before was any good, then you would have located the treasure a long time ago.”

That struck a raw nerve with North Cloud. He asked, “Okay, if you help me to recover the treasure, I will give you a share. What are your terms?”

“One quarter,” said Wu Chuan.

“One quarter? That is too much!” exclaimed North Cloud. “The treasure belongs to the Sky Dragon Clan. I am willing to give you only one tenth.”

“I am not a greedy man,” said Wu Chuan, “so I will agree to take one fifth. If you find my terms too tough, I can always go to West Cloud and get a deal with him. After all, the girl is his stepdaughter.”

“Leave West Cloud out of this. He doesn’t know a thing about this and it will only complicate things if he finds out that his stepdaughter is held here,” said North Cloud.

“Do you agree on one fifth share then?” asked Wu Chuan.

North Cloud thought about it for a while. He could always get rid of Wu Chuan after he had found the treasure. “Oh, all right,” replied North Cloud. “But you will have to get the Governor’s men to stop watching this house and also help me get the information out of Pei Pei.”

“Agreed!” said Wu Chuan. “Now lead me to the girl.”

“You will have to leave your weapons here,” said North Cloud. “I cannot allow you to carry weapons to where I am about to take you. It’s a matter of principle.”

“No,” said Wu Chuan. “As a swordsman, I have promised my sifu never to allow my weapons to leave my sight. You are a martial artist and you should be able to understand these things.”

North Cloud said, “I will have one of my men carry your weapons for you. That way, you would not be carrying them but they are within sight. That should satisfy both of us.”

Wu Chuan agreed. He was taken to a room and then blindfolded. One of the Seven Snakes took the bundle of throwing knives and his sword. He was then led through a door and then down a flight of stairs. Soon, he was in a room and the blindfold was taken off.

The room had no windows. In the light of the burning lamps, he saw that besides North Cloud, there were seven swordsmen in the room. At the far end of the room, he could see Pei Pei seated on the floor but shackled by chains to the wall. Pei Pei got up on seeing him.

Wu Chuan walked towards her, but two men drew their swords and stopped him from going further.

“I will need to go near her to hold the ink and map for her,” said Wu Chuan.

“One of my men will do it,” said North Cloud. Wu Chuan opened his cloth bag and took out two brushes, one pot of ink and the map and handed it over to a man who walked over to Pei Pei with them.

Pei Pei was mystified by all the happenings and decided that Wu Chuan was up to something. She kept quiet and waited. She saw that one of the men was standing to one side and he had what looked like her bundle of throwing knives.

“The chains are dragging her hands. You will have to free her hands or she will paint the wrong positions on the map,” said Wu Chuan.

“She only need to use one hand,” said North Cloud. He gave some instructions and another man went to Pei Pei with a key and unshackled the lock on her right wrist. Pei Pei flexed her right hand. It was sore. She had tried to break through the chains early in the morning with her Seven Stars Internal Stance but was unsuccessful. The chains were thick and heavy and were designed to lock up even a top kungfu master.

“Flex your right hand and warm yourself up, Pei Pei,” said Wu Chuan, “I will need you to do something important for me later.” The he waited for her to regain her full flexibility of her hand. She stretched herself and did a small part of the first step of the Secret Taichi Path. She could feel the Seven Stars inner energy rising in her.

“Tell her to complete the map,” North Cloud said to Wu Chuan.

Wu Chuan nodded and said, “Tell your men to move back so that she can have more light.”

The men moved away from her.

“Pei Pei,” shouted Wu Chuan, “Take the two brushes from the man.”

Pei pei did as she was told. She saw that the brushes were made of brass and were heavy. Wu Chuan walked to stand next to the man carrying his sword and Pei Pei’s bundle of throwing knives.

“Listen carefully Pei Pei. These men will kill you if you do not lead them to the treasure. And they will kill you slowly. The brushes are like feathers made especially for you,” continued Wu Chuan. “Just like your hairpins that day. I need you to brush out the bearer of the bundle of feathers first!”

“What are you talking about?” asked North Cloud.

Pei Pei saw that the reverse end of the brushes had been sharpened. She understood what Wu Chuan was talking about. He had been fond of calling her throwing knives as feathers. She swung back her right hand and threw the brush. It flew straight like an arrow into the heart of the man carrying her bundle of throwing knives. Wu Chuan immediately grabbed the bundle of throwing knives from the dead man and threw it towards Pei Pei. With her second brush, she plunged it into the brains of the man holding out the map for her. She looked up and then caught the bundle of throwing knives that Wu Chuan had thrown to her. There was no stopping her after that.

Wu chuan did not have time to recover his sword and had to run to the side of the room away from the remaining swordsmen. Two swordsmen had drawn their swords and gone after him but they were felled by Pei Pei’s flying daggers.

There were only three other swordsmen left together with North Cloud. When the action started, they had drawn their weapons and instinctively surrounded North Cloud to protect their master. Now they were like sitting ducks as she could hit a moving target within a hundred steps, and the room was only thirty steps at its longest length.. One by one they fell down dead with a dagger buried in the skull and a stunned expression on their faces as if they were not sure how the hell a dagger could grow out of their heads.

Only North Cloud remained alive.

Pei Pei did not waste time. She threw a dagger at North Cloud’s head and he jerked his head to the side. The dagger grazed his cheek, drawing blood.

Kanineh! He dodged my throw!” thought Pei Pei.

“Damn! That was close! The girl is fast as beyond belief!” thought North Cloud.

“I fear that Pei Pei is getting tired,” thought Wu Chuan as he pulled out the daggers from the heads the two men behind him killed by her.

Facing the girl, North Cloud demanded, “Who is your sifu? Who taught you the art of the flying daggers?”

“I did!” said Wu Chuan nonchalantly. “You may be able to avoid her throw, but you won’t avoid mine.” He then struck up a throwing pose that he had learnt from Pei Pei. She was all agog as she had not expected him to do that. And she knew that he could not throw a dagger to save his life.

“Let me see how well you fare when the three-in-one delivers together with me,” continued Wu Chuan.

“What three-in-one?” asked North Cloud.

But Pei Pei understood. He meant that she should throw at the same time as him. He was only acting as a diversion.

“Are you ready for the sifu’s throw?” yelled Wu Chuan. “Ready, one, two, go!”

Wu Chuan’s throw was straight and aimed at the head. North Cloud shifted his body to one side and avoided the flying dagger.

“Damn! I missed!” cried Wu Chuan. “But then, I have no professional training. I already gave my best, and I have no regrets at all!”

North Cloud stood there staring stupidly at him, with Pei Pei’s dagger embedded deep in his chest. The dagger had severed a major artery inside and he was bleeding internally and profusely. He was beaten and he knew it. Blood was flowing down his clothes. Pei Pei threw one more dagger to the head. This time, North Cloud did not even try to avoid it. He closed his eyes and died as the dagger punctured his skull and parted his brain cells.

Quickly, Wu Chuan retrieved some keys from North Cloud’s body and unlocked the shackles on Pei Pei’s hand and feet. Then he held her close to him.

“You came for me, Wu Chuan,” she cried.

“Yes,” he said.

“You shouldn’t have taken the risk,” she told him. “Your kungfu is not that great and you are the only scion of the Wu family. That was a big chance you took.”

“I know,” he said, “but I also knew that if I could get your throwing arm free and somehow get the bundle of daggers to you, you would save both of us.”

“You are very brave,” she said. “And very brilliant. I am so glad you came!”

For a while they held each other without moving. Then, as if on cue, they moved apart in embarrassment. Wu Chuan recovered his sword and went to the door and tried to open it. while Pei Pei collected her daggers.

“Something’s wrong!” he said. “I can’t seem to be able to open the door. I don’t think it is stuck. Probably, there is a way of opening it that we don’t know about.”

Using her inner energy, Pei Pei tried to open the door. She pushed and pushed, but it would not budge.

“Looks like we a re locked in,” she commented. “Only North Cloud and his men knew the trick in opening the door, but they are all dead!”

They looked around. The room looked like it was carved out of solid rock. Even the door was made of rock.

“Maybe some one will come and open this door and let us out,” he said hopefully.

“Or we could die in here waiting,” she said.

They sat down and waited. While waiting, he asked her about her life. “How did you learn to throw the daggers, Pei Pei?”

“I learned it from my uncle when I was a kid. He taught me eight ways of throwing daggers,” she answered.

“You said that you were on an island for four years. How did you get there?” he asked.

“A man called East Cloud came with his three sons to charter my uncle’s boat to go and look for some treasure. The map was obviously wrong, but they were stubborn and refused to turn back. My uncle thought that the most probable sites were either Chingtong Island or Kon Lo Island. We got to Chingtong Island and they checked it out but found nothing.”

“If the treasure is not at Chingtong Island, then it could be at Kon Lo Island,” he remarked.

“That was what my uncle thought,” she said. “Then, just as we wanted to sail towards Kon Lo Island, a storm came up and my uncle wanted to turn back. An argument broke out and East Cloud’s eldest son killed my uncle with a dagger.”

“It does not make sense to kill the boatman in a storm. That’s asking for trouble,” he said.

“I know. It was probably a stupid accident,” she said. “Anyway, I was grieving for my uncle and let the storm carried us where it will. I hid for days inside a floor compartment in the boat, where we kept the rice and some sundries. And that was when I read that stupid poetry.”

“This happened one year after your father died?” he asked.

She nodded and said, “Let me start again from the beginning.”

She then told him her full story. She told him how the first death in her village occurred when she was only ten years old, how her parents discovered the boat of the Huang brothers adrift, how her uncle Yue Thau had later bought that fateful boat, how her father’s body was found and how she ended up on the Gate of Hell Island. However, she left out the name of the Shantou Devil Ngai Chung, referring to him as a “mad old man without a name”. She felt that it was best that people were not reminded that such a name ever existed.

“I’m sorry, Brother Chuan, for getting you into all this. What possessed you to get mixed up in my affairs?” she asked. “We may die in here.”

“I have no regrets,” he replied. “If I were to die with anybody, then I would rather die with you.”

There was a moment of silence. Then she blushed. He had leaned over and kissed her cheek.

“Brother Chuan,” she smiled, “we are about to die here and you can still have the mood to do that?”

“It is because we are about to die here that we may not have the opportunity to do that later,” he smiled back. Still smiling, he pulled her to him and kissed her on the lips. She was motionless for a while, and then she kissed him back. He pushed her down to the floor and kissed her deeply. It was only when they stopped for air that they realized that they had been kissing while surrounded by eight dead bodies on the floor. They got up and he said, “We should find a better place than this!”

“Looks like no one is coming,” she remarked, no trace of anxiety in her voice. “North Cloud and his Seven Snakes are all here. I don’t think that anybody else apart from these trusted seven even knows about this room.”

“The floor is remarkably level to be natural. I would have expected it to be slightly curved like the roof and walls,” he commented.

“The floor is solid rock, just like the roof and walls,” said Pei Pei.

Wu Chuan had always had keen powers of observation. Suddenly, he said, “Strange! The blood seeping out from North Cloud’s body is flowing in a straight line. It is as if there is a straight crack on the floor. No crack can be that straight!”

He walked over to where the blood was and blew away the dust on the floor. Then he announced, “I don’t think this floor is solid rock. It appears to be rock slabs placed very closely next to each other. If these are rock slabs, then there is a possibility that under these slabs could be normal earth. In that case, we can remove these slabs and tunnel our way out.”

Pei Pei walked over to the slab nearest the door and said, “If I can get a finger grip on the slab, I would be able to move it, but there does not appear a place where I can insert my fingers, or even a sword to pry it out.”

“We don’t have to pry out that slab,” said Wu Chuan. “Let us look around the room and see if there is a loose slab somewhere. Once we removed that, we can start from there and work our way to the door.”

“You are right,” she said. She found a slab near the wall that appeared to be possible to pry out. Picking up a fallen saber from the room, she inserted it into tiny crack on the floor and pried. It moved just enough to allow her to insert two fingers in the space. Calling up her inner force, she pulled and the slab angled upwards. Wu Chuan came and helped her until they removed it from the floor.

He examined the earth underneath and said, “The earth underneath is hard, but it is still possible to dig.”

With the first slab removed, it became easy to pry out any subsequent rock slabs. They pried out six slabs in a path all the way to the door, thus exposing the earth near the door.

“There!” he said. “We should be able to dig our way out from here.”

“Has anybody ever told you that you are brilliant?” asked Pei Pei.

“Oh yes,” he replied. “My mother says it all the time. I must be a mama’s boy.”

She smiled at him.

Using the sabers from the dead swordsmen, they dug under the door until they were under the passageway outside. They were blocked by a floor slab in the passageway, and so Pei Pei lifted it up from below and pushed it aside.

“It is dark in the passage outside,” she told Wu Chuan who was still in the room. “It could be night already. Can you bring a lamp?”

Wu Chuan took his things, including the brass brushes and map, and joined Pei Pei. On emerging into the passageway, Wu Chuan looked at the door and remarked, “This door is so well camouflaged that nobody would even think that it is a door. Looks like part of the wall. I don’t think those eight bodies inside will ever get discovered.”

Pei Pei put the passage floor slab back in position and said, “Good! That’s another Cloud who has died without anyone knowing.”

There was a flight of stairs at the end of the passage and they climbed up it. It ended at a wall of wooden paneling. Then after fiddling around, Wu Chuan shifted a wooden panel and they both stepped into a room. He closed back the panel. It was already night but there were still sounds of people working in the manor. Opening a window of the room, they could see the garden wall some distance away. They ran to the garden wall in the pale moonlight and Pei Pei leapt up to the top of the wall in a flash. Wu Chuan’s lightness kungfu was not as good, but he jumped anyway. She reached down and caught his hand and swung him up to the top of the wall. Then they both jumped down over the wall to the ground outside and fled into the night.

As they were heading towards the Old Horse Inn, Pei Pei asked, “Now that North Cloud, South Cloud and East Cloud are dead, and West Cloud has withdrawn from clan activities, do you think that the Sky Dragon Clan has come to an end?”

Wu Chuan thought for a while and answered, “Possibly. Since it is not known that North Cloud and South Cloud are dead, the younger members of the clan cannot move up in the organization. The clan will become neither dead nor alive. Which would make it as good as dead.”

The reached the inn and roused a sleepy waiter to open the door. After they had bathed, Wu Chuan asked if he could sleep in the same bed as Pei Pei. She agreed as long as he slept on his side of the bed. They kissed each other goodnight for a long time. Then they dozed off, holding hands as they slept.


Friday, November 25, 2005


The ‘nude squats’ scandal

No, I have not seen the ’nude squats’ video. Just the news that a horrible thing like that had happened was enough to disgust me. And I am disgusted. Way disgusted.

What is the point of asking women in police lockups to do naked ear squats? Part of some new-age interrogation techniques? Look, if you think that you’re gonna get much information from ten squats, then you’re definitely more batty than I thought.

Pardon me, but I thought that we were going all out to create a ‘professional’ police force. Whatever happened to all that talk of professionalism? We need another force to police the police to ensure that they actually serve the public and not just collect their pay at the end of the month.

Frankly, I have no idea what the police do. Wait a minute, I remember seeing one with a radar gun some days ago. Oh yeah, I know what they do.

All you aliens reading my blog, pay attention. Go wipe out any greed and stupidity in our police force.


Thursday, November 24, 2005


The 3-in-1 Kungfu Girl - Chapter 13

Chapter 13: Assassination of South Cloud

Pei Pei woke up and stared at the ceiling. It was past noon.

“I was wondering when you would wake up!” the voice of Wu Chuan came from her side.

She turned her head and saw him seated on a mat on the floor. She looked at him for a while and asked blankly, “Why is there a mat on the floor?”

“I had the waiter bring it here for me last night,” he explained. “I hope you don’t mind, but I stayed the night in your room on this mat. Whenever I was not well, my servant would sleep on a mat in the same room with me in case I need anything in the night.”

“Oh,” she said blankly. She thought for a moment and then asked, “How long have I been asleep?”

“Since yesterday afternoon,” he replied. “You have not eaten for more than a day. I have asked the waiter to prepare some rice congee.”

“I am not hungry,” she said. “I don’t feel like eating.”

“You have to eat,” he told her. “If you don’t, I will force feed you myself!”

“Did your servant force feed you also when you were not well?” she asked.

“You bet!” he answered. He went out and brought in a bowl of rice congee. Then he propped her on her pillow in bed and fed her the congee spoonful by spoonful. She allowed him to pamper her.

“I feel like a kid being attended to by a nursemaid,” she said after she had been fed more than half the congee.

“How old are you?” he asked.

“Sixteen,” she answered.

“Was it true when you said that you lived on an island for four years?” he asked.

“Yes,” she nodded as she ate yet another spoonful of congee.

“That would explain the clothes that I saw you wear the first time we met,” he said. “Did you make them?”

“Yes,” she nodded again. “They were not very good, I know. I don’t think that I would make a very good tailor.”

“They were good enough for your needs and that is all that matters,” he commented. “Where did you get the raft that you said you sailed back on?”

“I built it from tree trunks,” she replied. “It was not very big. Some of the sharks that swam alongside the raft during the journey were even longer. But I managed to sail it to a place near Tsinkiang.”

“That’s amazing,” said Wu Chuan in admiration. “You are one tough girl. Compared to you, I must appear to have a pampered life and am therefore completely useless!”

“You are not useless, Brother Chuan,” she smiled. “You have the ability to instill loyalty among your servants. They trust your judgment.”

He laughed, “I wish I have half your abilities. You have been sleeping for very long. Let’s go out for a walk, shall we?”

She finished the rest of the congee and then he helped her to her feet. Then they walked out on the road towards the woods.

As they walked, he asked her, “You are not going to kill West Cloud, are you?”

“It will bring great pain to my mother if I were to do so,” she replied.

“Pei Pei, please do not judge your mother too harshly,” he said. “We are sometimes put into situations over which we have no control. It is our lot to try to make the best out of a difficult situation. You must have gone through more difficult situations than me, so you would understand.”

Pei Pei thought for a long while and sighed, “I wish my life had been as straightforward as other people’s lives. I do not enjoy the idea of killing people. I do not intend to touch West Cloud and North Cloud. But I definitely will have to kill South Cloud. Will you help me?”

“If that is what you feel you have to do, then I will help you,” he replied. “South Cloud is a top kungfu master. And he is never alone. Either he is with his fighters or he is with his two female bodyguards. You may not be able to get your bundle of feathers near him.”

“My bundle of throwing knives, you mean?” she smiled. “You will have to get me three long hairpins that are symmetrical, well-balanced and can be thrown as flying daggers. I will hide them in my hair.”

“What kind of kungfu is that that will allow a person to kill with hairpins?” queried Wu Chuan.

“I am the three-in-one kungfu girl. I can throw anything,” she replied.

“Three-in-one? What is that?” he asked.

“I will explain that to you one day,” she told him. “Can you get me the pins?”

“I am a merchant and can get anything. I can get them made for you within two days. Why not make ten instead?” he asked.

“More than three long pins in the hair may arouse suspicion,” she said. “You are a good friend, Brother Chuan. After I have killed South Cloud, I will free you of your servitude to me. Your parents must be wondering where you are.”

“After this is over, I will accompany you to your father’s grave, so that you can bring him the news,” he said.

In Pingchen, Oyang was seated at a table and relating the latest happenings to Old Merchant Wu. Wu Chuan’s elder sister, Jade Flower, was also there with her husband Li Chiang.

Li Chiang was the fifth son of Governor Li, but had settled down in Pingchen as an herbal doctor, or daifu, when he married Jade Flower of the Wu family. Not many people in the town were aware that he was a very fast ambidextrous swordsman, and was the guardian of the legendary Twin Dragon Blades that could cut through almost anything.

“It was a shock to me when Wu Chuan told me that he had just deflowered the same Miss Yue Pei Pei who had saved him from the sharks and pirates on the black ship two months ago,” Ouyang said.

“Why did you bring my son to a courtesan house, Ouyang?” demanded Madam Wu. “My son has always been a good boy. Were you trying to corrupt him?”

Ouyang looked embarrassed. “It was Old Master’s idea,” he explained.

“What?” exclaimed Jade Flower. “My father is corrupting my brother now?”

Merchant Wu looked uncomfortable and said, “My son is of marriageable age. I wanted him to be able to know what to do when the time comes. So I asked Ouyang to arrange for an experienced courtesan to teach him the ropes. How would I know that he would end up deflowering some virgin?”

“Good man!” said Li Chiang. “He did very well for an inexperienced rookie! Add oil! Well done!”

Both Li Chiang’s wife and mother-in-law glared at him and he decided that it would be best if he kept quiet and let Ouyang do the talking.

At the end of Ouyang’s lengthy explanation, Madam Wu said, “So my son is now a servant to the girl, is he?”

“Yes,” replied Ouyang, “Young Master Chuan said that one night as a couple is a hundred nights of gratitude. So he agreed to serve Miss Yue as her servant for one hundred days. He offered to marry her, but she turned him down.”

“Who would be crazy enough to turn down our son?” exclaimed Madame Wu. “We are among the richest families in this town. There are so many respectable families queuing up to marry their daughters off to my son. Is this Miss Yue from a rich family?”

“She is the daughter of a fisherman, I think,” replied Ouyang, “but she is a top kungfu exponent.”

“I have heard enough!” declared Merchant Wu. “I am going to take a trip to Fuzhou and locate my son.”

“I am going too!” said Madam Wu.

“We are going as well!” said Jade Flower.

“We are?” asked Li Chiang stupidly.

“Of course!” replied his wife sweetly. “This type of situation, how can we not be there? Besides, it is time that we bring our children to visit your parents in Fuzhou. You know that they are always asking to see their grandchildren. Let us start making arrangements.”

A few days later, in a big well-furnished room in an old Fuzhou manor, some very heavy afternoon activity was going on. The couple on the bed gasped and heaved, banging away with wild abandon.

Gripping the sides of the bed, the woman shuddered with pleasure and moaned, “Ohhhhh ……yesssss……..ohhhhhh………ohhhhh ………'re so bigggggg...........yessssssssss!"

She was practically being nailed down repeatedly to the bed by his moving loins. Time and time again, she shook and shuddered violently as she came. He continued thrashing into her until finally he groaned and felt his lower body jerking. Regretfully, he withdrew, shrinking slowly while dripping fluids. It had been an exhausting session and he could thrash no more for the time being.

She lay there, spread wide open, leaking bodily fluids onto the bed and feeling satisfied. In a while, her stomach slowed down its heaving as she caught her breath.

“Are you ever going to marry me?” she asked the younger man.

“I am already betrothed to another,” he replied.

“Forget that girl, Sum Teng Rong!” she said.

“I can’t,” he replied. “It was arranged ten years ago by my grandfather.”

“You can easily arrange for someone to kill her,” she insisted.

“True, but her family is rich, and I may need financial help from them!” he said.

“You are useless!” she said, obviously displeased.

“Oh, come on, Lady Fai. I can still see you after I marry her,” he countered.

The late East Cloud’s daughter-in-law glowered and then sniffed haughtily. “I can easily find someone else to bed me. You are not the only stud in town. North Cloud Pak Cheong will be interested in me, I’m sure.”

“That old fart?” laughed Sum Ten Rong. “He is so afraid of being assassinated that he seldom goes out of his manor. Both North and South Cloud are afraid of each other. Both want to be the chief of the Sky Dragon Clan. Fat chance! I’ll get rid of those two when the time comes. Hahahaha!”

“The only one who does not want to be the Clan chief is West Cloud,” she noted.

“He is weak, in fact the weakest of all the Four Clouds,” he remarked. “One of my spies told me that a young girl visited West Cloud recently and gave him a shock. Apparently she was his stepdaughter. The house servants gossiped over it for days.”

“That would be the daughter of the boatman’s wife whom West Cloud kept, wouldn’t it?” she asked.

“Yes. Her name is Pei Pei,” he said. “My spy told me that she disappeared on the same boat as East Cloud four years ago. Apparently everybody died in the storm that swept the boat away, but she managed to swim to an island.”

“Nobody else survived?” she asked.

He smiled cruelly and said, “No, not even your husband, Tung Ku Kai Keok.”

“His name was Tung Ku Kai, not Tung Ku Kai Keok!” Lady Fai corrected him indignantly.

“Same thing, isn’t it?” he laughed.

“Sum Teng Rong, I think you something wrong,” she admonished him.

Sum Teng Rong looked thoughtful and then he commented, “What I don’t understand is what your father-in-law and his sons were doing out there on the boat.”

“They were looking for the buried treasure of the Sky Dragon Clan,” Lady Fai informed him.

He stared at the ceiling and tried to understand all that. Six years ago, his grandfather Cold Wind Hands Sum Wan had sent a manservant, called Black Bat, to bury the most valuable treasures of the Sky Dragon Clan on a remote island. Then Black Bat had disappeared and Sum Teng Rong had been looking for him ever since. After East Cloud also disappeared, some rumours had surfaced that Black Bat had drawn a treasure map and given each one of the Clouds one quarter of the map each. Although Sum Teng Rong had not managed to locate Black Bat, during the intervening years, he had practiced the family kungfu art of Cold Wind Hands until he had reached the highest level. He had returned to Fuzhou quietly in the middle of the year and met Lady Fai. Since then, he had become one of Lady Fai’s lovers.

“But it was rumoured that your father-in-law had only one quarter of a map!” he said. “How could he have gone looking for treasure based on that?”

Lady Fai thought silently for a while.

“Didn’t you hear what I said?” he asked again.

“Hush, let me think!” she silenced him.

She thought for a long time. When Sum Teng Rong got bored and tried to play with her breasts, she slapped his hands away impatiently.

Finally, she spoke, “I am going to let you in on a secret.”

“Okay then, let’s hear it!” he was excited.

“No,” she held back. “I want you to swear to heaven first that you will not tell anybody!”

He got up and raised his hand to heaven and swore, “Let the Heavens witness. If I, Sum Teng Rong, let out Lady Fai’s secret, I will die a violent death!”

“Good,” said Lady Fai, fully satisfied. “Listen. Four years ago, my father-in-law called a meeting of the four Clouds, saying that he wanted to buy the map portions of the other three Clouds. Each of them put their map quarters on the table and fitted them together. Then they backed away. Unknown to the other three Clouds, in the ceiling above the table was a hole, and my youngest brother-in-law, Tung Choy, was peeping through that hole. He was highly talented in that he had and excellent memory. My father-in-law had no intention to buy the other portions of the map, and so he allowed the negotiations to fail. After North, South and West Clouds have left, taking their own map portions with them, Tung Choy painted the entire map from memory!”

“What?” cried Sum Teng Rong. “No wonder East Cloud went looking for the treasure!”

“Yes,” continued Lady Fai. “The night before they left, my late husband told me about it and swore me to secrecy! The men of the Tung family went to look for the treasure and never came back. You said that Madame West Cloud’s daughter was on the same boat as East Cloud? That means that she would know where East Cloud was heading before they were swept away by the storm.”

“Heavens! You are right! We just have to grab hold of West Cloud’s stepdaughter and force her to tell us where the treasure island is!” said an excited Sum Teng Rong.

“Will you leave the thinking to me? For all we know, the other Clouds may be thinking along these lines already,” she cautioned.

“If so, then we will go to the other Clouds and negotiate for a share,” he said. “I have mastered the highest level of the Cold Wind Hands kungfu technique. None of them are my match!”

“Sum Teng Rong. I think you something wrong! You don’t want to negotiate anything with the Clouds. They will cheat you!” she said.

“Damn!” he asked.

“You are greedy, but you don’t have brains to match,” she remarked.

“Why should I need brains?” asked Sum Ten Rong. “Why don’t I just go and beat the shit out of that Pei Pei girl until she leads us to the treasure?”

“Looks like I have the only set of brains around here,” scolded Lady Fai. “If you beat the girl, she will lead you to some lost island and then you won’t be able to find your way back!”

“Ya, hor,” he gasped.

The fifteenth night of the month always had a full moon. The courtesan traveling in the carriage could not help looking out of the window and admiring the moon and stars. Suddenly, the carriage pulled to a halt. The carriage driver had seen a branch blocking the road and so he had stopped. The next moment, he had been knocked senseless by a masked man. The lady courtesan put her head slightly out of the window to see what was happening and was also knocked unconscious.

“I’ll tie them up and hide them in the bushes behind that big tree,” said Wu Chuan who was dressed like the carriage driver. “You can get in the carriage first.”

Pei Pei was dressed as a courtesan from the House of a Thousand Pleasures. She had guessed that Madam Song would send a courtesan to South Cloud on the fifteenth of the month and so she and Wu Chuan had hidden along the road leading to South Cloud’s manor. Her plan was to hijack the carriage and enter South Cloud’s lair posing as a courtesan while Wu Chuan posed as the carriage driver.

“Wait for me behind this big tree afterwards,” she instructed him, “I will find my way here after the job is done.”

Wu Chuan nodded. Then he drove the carriage until they finally came to the gates of the South Cloud manor. A manservant recognized the carriage as it pulled outside the gates.

“You are not the regular driver,” he said to Wu Chuan.

“Ah Fook is sick, so I had to replace him,” replied Wu Chuan. “I have brought the girl.”

The manservant asked Pei Pei to step down from the carriage.

“Come back in the morning,” he told Wu Chuan. Then he lead Pei Pei through the gates and into a hall where a group of two dozen armed and dangerous-looking men were waiting. Thy leered at her and made wisecracks among themselves.

“Maybe this one isn’t a screamer,” one of them said. “She looks confident!”

“They all scream,” commented another one with a guffaw. The rest of them laughed loudly.

A dark old woman then came and searched Pei Pei bodily in full view of the men. She was efficient and found a small fruit knife inside her clothes. “What’s this for?” she asked suspiciously.

“For peeling fruit, and also for self protection,” answered Pei Pei. “In case wolves in human clothing try to be funny with me.”

“You won’t need it here,” one of the men answered, “and if we want to be funny with you, that little thing won’t help you!”

At that, all the men laughed loudly again. The old woman looked at the men with disdain and kept the fruit knife. She then led Pei Pei along a passageway to the bedroom of Master South Cloud.

She knocked on the door. It was opened by two women dressed as kungfu fighters. Each of them had a sword at her side. These must be the two female bodyguards, thought Pei Pei..

“Come in,” said the shorthaired one, and then she pointed to a spot on the floor, “and take off all your clothes right here.”

“In front of you?” asked Pei Pei in mock surprise.

“Yes,” replied the longhaired one. “No strange girl is allowed to approach the master until she is naked. We need to check that you are not carrying any concealed weapons.”

“I was already checked outside,” Pei Pei answered.

“Then you better don’t have any concealed weapons, or we will slice you apart faster than you can blink your eye,” was the reply.

Pei Pei walked a few steps forwards into the room to the spot and noticed that the two women kept their hands on their swords, ready for action at any moment. She did not know how fast they were and it was not the time to find out yet.

She could see a man sitting on the bed looking at her in amusement. Staring at him, she asked, “I am not supposed to strip until I am in the presence of my client. Who are you?”

“I am the master of this manor,” replied South Cloud. “You will strip before me!”

“Am I supposed to go naked before these two women as well?” asked Pei Pei.

“Of course!” replied South Cloud. “They are here for my protection. But they also enjoy looking at naked women as much as I do. They will be here the whole night with us, watching everything you do. And watching everything I do to you. Haw, haw, haw!”

She thought furiously, “If I go one-to-one on South Cloud, those two will slice me up from behind. I will have to go for a surprise quick kill or not at all. Kanineh. This is going to be a touch and go case.”

South Cloud was seated on his bed and he looked in appreciation as Pei pei removed her clothing article by article. He gazed in admiration at her fine structure as she stepped out of her clothes. Naked, she walked towards the bed.

“Wait,” shouted the longhaired woman. “Take off your hair pins first!”

“Of course,” replied Pei Pei, and she removed one long hairpin that had held her hair up high. Part of her hair cascaded down and she shook her head gently. Smiling, she told South Cloud, “Take off your clothes!” Then she turned her back on him and slowly handed the pin to the longhaired woman. The shorthaired woman was standing further away by the wall.

The longhaired woman fighter took her pin.

Reaching up to her hair again, Pei Pei slowly removed the second pin. South Cloud was trying to slide his robe from his back. His hands were still caught in the robe sleeves, as he had not yet freed his hands. It was a most vulnerable position. Pei Pei held out her second hairpin in front of her as she turned her head to look at South Cloud.

As the longhaired woman put out her hand to take the pin, Pei Pei suddenly swung her hand and turned her body. The pin buried itself deep into the throat of South Cloud, piercing through the windpipe with the sharp end of the pin protruding from the other side of the neck.

Before the longhaired woman could recover from her shock, Pei Pei hit her on the chest with her palm and it sent the woman staggering backwards but she did not fall. The shorthaired woman immediately pulled out her sword only to find the Pei Pei’s third pin pierced into her brains. She went down glassy eyed as she died.

The staggering longhaired woman weakly tried to draw out her sword, but Pei Pei reached her and wrenched the sword away and drove it inside her heart. Pei Pei then turned her head to see that a secret door had opened in the wall next to the bed and South Cloud was attempting to escape through it. She pulled out the sword from the heart of the longhaired woman and threw it. The sword flew through the air straight without a spin, and entered the South Cloud’s back powerfully, burying itself to the hilt. He fell forward and the door of the secret opening swung shut. However, one of his legs was still in the opening and it prevented the door from fully closing.

Pei Pei raced to the wall and pulled the secret door open.

South Cloud was not dead yet so she pulled him by the leg until he was halfway inside the room. She left the sword inside his back and turned him sideways so he could see her. With a supreme effort, he struck out with his palm and an alert Pei Pei countered it with her own palm technique. Even though her Seven Stars inner energy was stronger than his inner energy, she was thrown back a step.

South Cloud felt an excruciating pain flooding his body as his internal organs ruptured from the blow. His windpipe was broken and he had difficulty breathing. Blood was starting to flow out from his chest where the sword had penetrated through. He could not understand who this young girl was that had greater inner energy than him. He was making gurgling sounds in his throat, trying to speak.

She knew what it was that he wanted to ask her.

“Because you killed my father,” she replied to his unasked question. “He was the boatman you hired to look for your precious treasure.”

“Just a boatman?” he mouthed wordlessly.

“Not just a boatman,” she said, “but a boatman with some fanciful knife-throwing bitch from hell as his dutiful daughter. You will join my father in death. The big difference is that his body was buried. Yours may not be. He will outrank you in the land of the dead!”

South Cloud kept mouthing bubbles and gurgling sounds. He was getting weaker. He could not escape and he could not fight back. Each movement caused him pain. And he was still having great trouble in breathing.

Pei Pei decided to put him out of his misery. She came for revenge. It was not necessary for her to torture him. She pulled out the sword from his back and with a swift slice of the weapon, she removed his head cleanly from his shoulders. The decapitated head fell behind the secret door.

Pei Pei then took a lamp and looked more carefully at the opening in the wall. Behind the secret door was what looked like a passageway. It must be an escape route to some place. She decided to use the passageway as an escape route so as not to attract any attention.

Quickly she dressed. She remembered that Ouyang had advised her kill quietly without anybody knowing. Even Wu Chuan had once said to her, “Never let your business competitors know how you operate. Keep everything a mystery.” If that was true for competitors, then that ought to be true also for enemies. She would keep the disappearance of South Cloud a mystery to all.

She recovered her hairpins and wiped them clean. Then she carefully moved the three dead bodies into the secret passageway, taking care that no blood fell onto the floor. She made sure that the bedroom door was bolted from inside so that no one would come in.

Then, after wedging the secret door opened, she took a lamp and explored the passageway. It led to a flight of stairs that went down into the ground. It soon opened into a small chamber containing an assortment of weapons and boxes. Beyond the chamber, the passageway continued for some distance until narrowed and ended into an opening. She put her head through and saw that she was at the side of a deep well. Looking upwards, she could see the stars. All was quiet.

She retraced her steps and went back towards the dead bodies. One by one, she moved the bodies to the chamber. She left South Cloud’s decapitated head lying in the passageway.

Carefully, she examined the mechanism behind the secret door. Playing with the mechanism, she understood how the door opened and shut.

When she was ready, she went into the room and inspected the place, making sure that everything was neat and no blood was found on the floor or bed. Then she gently unbolted the door. She went into the secret passageway and closed the secret door. Then using a spear from the chamber of weapons, she jammed the mechanism of the secret door tightly from inside. It would never be opened from inside South Cloud’s bedroom again.

Taking the lamp, she walked along the passageway. She could hear rats around her. She hated rats. They would probably feed on the three dead bodies. When she reached the end of the passage at the side of the well, she blew out her lamp and waited. There did not seem to be any noise up there. The wall of the well was rough and with lightness kungfu, she made her way up.

When she reached the top, she looked around her. It looked like she was in a garden at the back of the manor. Noiselessly, she moved to the manor walls and leapt over it.

Wu Chuan was waiting at the carriage behind the big tree when Pei Pei appeared noiselessly out of nowhere.

“Let’s go,” she whispered.

“Is it done?” he whispered back.

“Yes,” she answered. “We have to return the carriage and the courtesan.”

Quietly, they put the carriage driver and the courtesan in the carriage and Wu Chuan drove it to a back street near the House of a Thousand Pleasures. Then they untied their captives who were still unconscious and left both of them inside the carriage.

Wu Chuan and Pei Pei made their way to the Old Horse Inn. Pei Pei collapsed on a chair, the tension draining out of her body and filled in Wu Chuan about the happenings of the night.

“Nobody will even know that he is dead!” she said.

“Good,” said Wu Chuan, “and we shall keep it that way.”

The next morning, South Cloud’s servants found his bedroom door open and their master missing. “He must have gone somewhere with those two female bodyguards,” said one of them. “They will turn up later.”

Ah Fook, the carriage driver, woke up and found the courtesan next to him in the carriage. He woke her up but neither of them could explain what had happened.

“If Madam Song finds out that we are here sleeping together in a carriage instead of my being in the client’s place, she will think that we are lovers and have us whipped!” cried the courtesan.

“Let us not say a thing and pretend that we went there,” said the carriage driver.

“What if the client complained that we did not turn up?” asked the courtesan.

“Then we get whipped of course,” he said. “But better to get whipped later than to get whipped now!”

The courtesan nodded.

Thus, South Cloud Nam Chiao vanished from the surface of the earth without a burial and without anybody knowing that he was even dead. And all this was because he killed the wrong boatman.

Pei Pei woke up late the next morning.

“Wu Chuan,” she said, “I now free you of your servitude to me.”

“So soon?” he asked. “A night as a couple is a hundred nights of gratitude.”

“You have done enough for me,” she smiled, “and I will always remember you as a good friend.”

“I will go and buy joss sticks and paper offerings later. Then I will go with you tomorrow morning to visit your father’s grave,” he said. “I will tell him what a great daughter he has.”

“Thank you,” she laughed. She felt that her responsibility as a daughter had been carried out. Her father’s killer had been removed from society. Something was right in the world.


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