Saturday, September 30, 2006


The Cook and the Assassin - Chapter 25

Chapter 25: What other people do to other people

On reaching the mainland, Wen Yiji and Xiang Xiang abandoned their boat and walked to a little hamlet. There, they bought a horse and cart and loaded the two wooden boxes onto the cart.

“This cart looks like it will fall apart any moment. Also, it does not have a roof to keep us dry if it rains,” commented Xiang Xiang.

“I know, and the horse looks like dying too, but that was the best I could get,” said her brother. “I’ll be glad to get to a big town. The shopping choices are much better.”

“Do you think we will reach Tsinkiang by tomorrow?”

“We will, if it does not rain. If it does, the roads would be muddy and slushy and the travelling difficult.”

“You are assuming that the horse will not die on us halfway, aren’t you?”

“It had better not die on me,” Wen Yiji growled. “Or I will kill it.”

“It looks so pitiful. We will have to get a stronger horse at the earliest opportunity.”

A storm broke out in the late afternoon and they got caught in the ensuing rain. There was no shelter nearby to hide from the cold and wet weather. Drenched to the skin, they managed to reach a little town and settle themselves in an inn.

“Better change out of your peddler attire before you catch cold,” advised Yiji.

“My other clothes are all female clothes,” said Xiang Xiang.

“You may as well dress back as a girl,” said Yiji. “I’m also a bit tired of looking like this. The last time I left Tsinkiang I looked like a poor peddler. This time, I want to enter Tsinkiang looking like a highly successful trader. With an air of nobility. With some style. Let’s change into our newest clothes.”

+ + + + + +

The following morning, Wen Yiji made inquiries around the little town and found out where he could get a better horse and carriage. He took his horse and carriage to the merchant and asked if he could make an exchange.

“Ah… you want to trade in your horse and cart,” the merchant grinned affably. “I have the latest model in carriages that you might be interested in.”

“I only want the covered carriage,” said Yiji. “No open carts. It must be able to keep the rain out.”

“You understand that we take cash only. No payment by installments.”

“Do I look like I cannot afford to pay?” asked Yiji with a touch of irritation in his voice. His sister caught the tone with concern. It had been several days since her brother last consumed bitter gourd. The strange energy within him was starting to act up. She hoped that the merchant would not say anything stupid.

“No, no, no! I don’t mean that!” said the merchant. “The way I trade is to make known all my conditions upfront. So that there will be no misunderstanding later on.”

“That’s fine with me,” said Wen Yiji. “But I would want a fair trade-in value for my horse and cart.”

“Your cart looks old and your horse looks like it has died a long time ago but is still walking,” the merchant commented.

“As long as it is still walking, then it has not died. Just show me your carriage models.”

“I have just the model you want. Take a look at this carriage. It has been regularly serviced and its last owner was an old lady who only took it out a few times a year.”

“That is what all used-carriage salesmen say. This is the sorriest looking carriage I have ever seen. It looks more like a cart converted to a carriage. The conversion job is not even seamless, with joints sticking out here and there.”

“It does a good job in keeping the rain out. It is stronger than it looks.”

“Damn… even looks ugly.”

“It looks unusual, not ugly! It is an imported design and is very functional. That is all that matters. We should not bother if the cat is black or white. As long as it can catch mice, it is a good cat!”

“I am not buying a cat. I am buying a carriage. Show me something else.”

“This is the only carriage I have in stock. I’ll sell it to you cheap!”

“Hmmmmm……. all right. Show me your horses.”

Wen Yiji inspected the horses and selected a healthy looking animal. He bargained over the price, then paid the merchant and loaded his stuff in his new carriage. Leaving his old horse and cart with the merchant, he and Xiang Xiang then climbed on top of his newly purchased vehicle and set off for Tsinkiang. The horse trotted merrily, strongly pulling the carriage behind.

“My, this horse can certainly move!” remarked Xiang Xiang, impressed.

“Yes, of course,” said her brother. “This horse has a greater horsepower.”

+ + + + + +

In Tsinkiang, Agent Simit called six of his men to the hall and gave them instructions.

“Listen,” he said. “There are two peddlers coming to Tsinkiang from Amoy. They should reach here today or tomorrow. They are dressed in blue and carrying two wooden boxes of scrap metal. One of them is a fourteen-year old boy. I want you to go to the Amoy road and intercept them. Then bring them here.”

“And if they do not wish to come?” asked a bald man called Bor Tak.

“Then you will have to tie them up and take them here by force. Take a horse cart along with you. But be very, very discreet. I do not want this thing to be known by outside people. Do I make myself perfectly clear?”

“Yes, master,” the men replied.

Si Mm Chut watched the men leave with the horse cart. He waited a while, then took a horse and rode to the south road to Amoy. He caught up with the men at the outskirts of Tsinkiang. The men did not expect to see him and were thus surprised.

“My father sent me here to see that you men are doing what you should be doing,” he announced importantly. They nodded sullenly. In their hearts, they became wary. There was always trouble when Young Master Si was around. The last time Young Master Si got into a fatal fight, the men held the victim down and Si Mm Chut beat the shit out of him with a metal bar. The unfortunate victim died from the beating. The victim’s family demanded justice and refused to accept compensation. Agent Simit had to bribe the city magistrate heftily to keep his youngest son out of jail. After paying the hefty bribe, Agent Simit became furious at the monetary loss and thrashed some of his men. From that day on, the men became wary whenever Si Mm Chut was with them.

Positioning themselves at an empty stretch of road, the men stood there in the chilly air as travelers passed by them. There were not many travellers about in early winter. Those who passed by were not wearing blue or carrying wooden boxes. By midday, Si Mm Chut was getting bored and tired. He had not had a chance to beat anyone up yet.

“Is there some place that I can go to eat?” he asked. “Preferably a place that sells wine?”

“We passed an eating shop just now,” said Bor Tak. “About three li from here. You may want to go there to eat.”

“I do not wish to eat alone. Bor Tak, you come with me. The rest of you stay here and look out for the two peddlers.”

“Yes, young master!” said Bor Tak, obviously delighted. “But you are riding on your horse and I have no horse to follow you.”

“Yes you have. Go to the horse cart and uncouple the horse from the cart,” ordered Si Mm Chut. “Then use that horse to ride with me.”

Bor Tak grinned from ear to ear. He unhitched the horse from the cart and then rode the horse to Si Mm Chut. He was only too glad to get out of the boring task of looking for peddlers.

Not long after they had gone, Wen Yiji’s carriage turned around the corner.

“There are five armed men up ahead, Brother Yiji,” noted Xiang Xiang.

“Get your weapon ready in case they are robbers,” he said. “Keep your butterfly sword nearby.”

She took out her long kitchen knife and said, “It’s not a butterfly sword. It is merely a long knife for chopping chicken. I have decided to give it a name.”

“What name?”

“I’ve decided to call it ‘Chicken Knife’.”

Wen rolled his eyes upwards and remarked sarcastically, “You are so imaginative when it comes to names!”

As they neared the five men, they moved to the road and blocked his path. Wen Yiji was tempted to speed up his horse and mow them down. However, he stopped the horse and asked, “What is the meaning of this? Why are you blocking my path?”

“We are looking for somebody,” said one of the men.

“What has that to do with me?” Wen Yiji asked.

Agent Simit’s men examined Wen Yiji and Xiang Xiang. They looked like prosperous people and not at all like the two peddlers that they had been asked to look out for.

“I’m sorry,” one of them said. “You may pass.”

“Wait,” another one said. “We are looking for two peddlers who left Amoy yesterday morning. They were dressed in blue and one of them is a fourteen year old boy. They were carrying two wooden boxes of scrap metal. Have you seen them?”

“No, never saw them,” replied Yiji. He clucked his tongue and the horse moved forward.

Out of earshot of the men, Xiang Xiang asked, “Do you suppose that those men were looking for us?”

“The description certainly fitted us,” her brother replied. “When we left Amoy, we were dressed in blue. You looked like a fourteen year old boy. I was carrying two wooden boxes that I told the inn waiter that it contained only scrap metal. Maybe it was just a coincidence.”

“Or maybe these men are actually looking for us. In which case we may have to be careful.”

“Why would anyone be interested in us? We kept a low profile in Amoy.”

“Except on the occasion when you scalded the assassin’s head.”

“Do you think this has anything to do with the assassin in Amoy?”

“I don’t know. Do you want to turn back and ask them?”

“Nah……..let’s not waste time. I am hungry and wish to get into town as fast as possible.”

However, Xiang Xiang knew that her brother just wanted to visit a courtesan house as fast as possible. There was a fire in him that was starting to manifest itself in his behaviour. She made a mental note to herself to order bitter gourd soup for him the moment they reach an inn.

Wen Yiji remembered the two courtesans who had beaten him up the last time he was in Tsinkiang. He recalled their names; Ah Lian and Ah Huey. Yes. He would book their services one by one and show them no mercy all night long.

+ + + + + +

At the eating shop, Si Mm Chut and Bor Tak had just finished their meal and were walking to their horses. The food was lousy and the wine was even worse. The owner of the shop was the cook and also the waiter. He was deaf most of the time. It was little wonder that the eating shop had no other customers apart from them. Si Mm Chut was in a foul mood and he swore that he would never patronize the shop again. He opened the door of the shop and walked out into the chilly weather.

It was a cold day and the road was devoid of travelers. He looked idly up the empty road and then he pointed, “There! Up the road! Two men dressed in blue! How could our men let them pass?”

Bor Tak looked in that direction, squinted his eyes and said, “They are not what we are looking for. One is an old man and the other is a boy who looks about eleven years old. They are not carrying boxes. The old man is carrying a basket. I think he’s a farmer.”

“But they are dressed in blue!” insisted Si Mm Chut.

“All right, if you like, we will go and ask them if they had come from Amoy.”

The two men rode their horses up the road and towards the two figures in blue. They stopped their horses just in front of the two figures and Si Mm Chut got down from his horse.

“Stop!” said Si Mm Chut. “Where did you two come from?”

The man in blue clothes looked quizzically back at him and answered, “We live around here,”

“Don’t try to bluff me!” said Si Mm Chut angrily. “You came from Amoy! Admit it!”

“Amoy? Yes, I have been there a long time ago. What exactly are you asking?”

“Aha! So you have been to Amoy.”

“Yes I have. What is this about?”

“You scalded my second brother in the face with hot water in Amoy two nights ago!”

“I couldn’t have! The last time I went to Amoy was eight years ago! And I did not scald anybody!”

“Liar! Show me what you are carrying.”

“No! I don’t like your manners!”

But Si Mm Chut snatched the basket from the man rudely before the man could do anything. The basket fell to the ground and the contents emptied out. Two ducks with bound feet stared up at him.

“Where is your scrap metal?” he asked. “You are supposed to be carrying scrap metal!”

“Are you insane?” asked the man in anger. “I am a farmer taking these two ducks to sell to an important family in town. You not only wasted my time, you almost injured my ducks! They are very expensive ducks. You won’t have the money to pay for them!”

Kanineh, you see me no up, is it? I cannot afford, is it? The Si family has lots of money!”

“Which Si family is that?”

“My father is the well-known Master Simit. Everybody fears him! I can whack anybody without choosing an auspicious date to do it!”

“Master Simit? Your father may be well known but his reputation is not savoury. No matter how well-known you are, that does not give you the right to act like a ruffian. Simply speak like got no family education. Got mother born but no mother teach!”

Chao chee bai!” cursed Si Mm Chut. “I’ll teach you to show me some respect!”

Meanwhile, the two ducks flapped their wings trying to get away. The little boy quickly caught one of them. As he was about to catch the other one, Si Mm Chut caught it first and held it up. Then, to the horror of the boy, Si Mm Chut bashed the duck onto the ground and stamped on its neck.

“Stop that!” yelled the farmer. He pushed Si Mm Chut down to the ground and then picked up his duck. However, the duck was dead.

“My duck is dead!” the farmer shouted. “Compensate me! My duck is dead!”

“Never mind about the duck, uncle,” said the boy named Grasshopper. “These people are not reasonable. Let’s just go!”

“No! I want him to compensate me!” insisted the farmer.

Si Mm Chut was furious at being pushed down to the ground. He got up and started beating the farmer. Bor Tak got down from his horse and was about to intervene when he thought better of it. It never pays to interfere when his young master was beating somebody up. Everybody in the Si household knew that. However, the old farmer was not going to allow himself to be beaten up. He grabbed hold of Si Mm Chut’s body and wrestled with him. In the ensuing struggle, Si Mm Chut pulled out a dagger and stabbed the farmer three times in the stomach. The farmer collapsed onto the ground, bleeding profusely.

The little boy dropped the duck and ran to the farmer and shouted, “Uncle! Uncle! Are you all right?”

“I am dying, Grasshopper,” gasped the farmer.

Bor Tak came over to take a look. Then he turned to Si Mm Chut and said, “Well, Young Master Si, I don’t think this farmer will live for long! Your father will have to pay compensation to his family.”

Si Mm Chut said nonchalantly, “He is only a stupid farmer. Not an important person. We don’t have to pay compensation.”

“But the little boy will tell everybody, and sooner or later, somebody will come and ask your father for compensation. I am sure that the local magistrate will use this opportunity to blackmail your father for money.”

Si Mm Chut looked all around and said, “The road is empty of people and there is no one around. So nobody knows what has happened here. Kill the boy before he tells anybody!”

“I can’t kill the boy without direct orders from Master Simit, your father,” said Bor Tak.

“If you kill him, I will present you with a courtesan tonight.”

Bor Tak grinned. A humsap grin.

“Run, Grasshopper, run!” gasped the dying farmer. “Or they’ll kill you!”

The little boy stood up, unsure what to do. Bor Tak reached out to grasp hold of him, but the little boy nimbly evaded the grasp. Bor Tak lunged at him and the little boy ran.

“Run, quick!” gasped the old farmer. “See you in the next life!”

The little boy ran up the road. He wept as he ran and valiantly tried to fight back the tears.

“Kill him!” yelled Si Mm Chut to Bor Tak.

Then he kicked at the old man’s head and cursed, “Stupid farmer!” He did not bother to chase after the boy, leaving the task entirely to Bor Tak.

Bor Tak pulled out his sword as he ran after Grasshopper. He could not understand how it was so difficult to catch up with such a young boy. His hat dropped off to the ground during the chase, revealing his bald head, but he did not stop to pick it up. The boy was fleet of foot certainly, but it would only be a matter of time before he got caught. Grasshopper ran around a bend in the road with sword-wielding bald man in hot pursuit.

Wen Yiji and Xiang Xiang were approaching the bend in the road when they saw the young boy running in the middle of the road and heading towards them.

“Damn!” Wen Yiji muttered.

“Better stop, or you may hit the boy,” advised his sister.

“You are right! I don’t want to have to clean his blood from the wheels. I just bought the carriage this morning!”

He reined in the horse and the carriage came to a halt. He waited impatiently for the boy and Bor Tak to pass him.

“This is the second time that I have been forced to stop along this stretch of road! There better not be a third time or I’ll be beating somebody up!” he snarled.

“Stay cool, Brother Yiji,” said his sister. “I think there is some trouble here. That man with the sword is trying to kill the boy!”

“So? Don’t be nosey! What other people do to other people is other people’s problem.”

Bor Tak was getting out of breath, but the boy was finally within reach. Just as he was almost caught, the boy dashed behind the horse and dived under Yiji’s carriage.

Bor Tak stopped for breath beside the carriage and shouted, “Come out! You can’t hide from me! Come out!”

“Come out? You think I am stupid enough to come out to be killed?” yelled Grasshopper.

Xiang Xiang took out her Chicken Knife and shouted at Bor Tak, “You! Why are you running after a little boy with a sword?”

“That’s my business!” said Bor Tak. “Now move the carriage out of the way!”

“He was trying to kill me for no good reason!’ shouted the boy from under the carriage.

“I have a reason,” said Bor Tak.

“It’s a stupid reason!” yelled the boy.

“In that case we are not moving!” said Xiang Xiang.

“Oh yes we are!” said Yiji. “I hate being delayed.”

“But he’s going to kill the boy!” protested his sister.

“Hey! People die everyday!” said her brother testily. “Weren’t you listening to me? What other people do to other people is other people’s problem!”

“The boy looks a bit like Yisheng, our dead youngest brother.”

“So what? He is not Yisheng. And anyway, I cannot remember how Yisheng looks like. Probably thin body, black hair, yellow skin and slitty eyes. All boys look alike.”

“No, they don’t!”

“Yes, they do!”

Bor Tak was getting impatient. He shouted, “Don’t talk so much! Move your carriage out of the way! This is not your father’s road!”

Wen Yiji glared at him and spoke slowly, “Listen, you ugly muthafucka, I don’t know who you are, but you are fucking rude! I am like this close to having your facial features rearranged! Don’t tempt me!”

Something about Wen Yiji’s glare made Bor Tak avert his eyes. There was an unmistaken venom in Wen Yiji’s tone that made him cautious. He looked at the ground in silence.

Slowly, Wen Yiji turned his head away, flicked the reins at the horse and the creature moved forward at a trot. As the carriage moved off, Bor Tak expected to see the boy exposed on the ground. However, all he saw was an empty spot on the road. He looked around and could not understand where the boy had gone. On the carriage, Xiang Xiang looked back and was just as perplexed.

Suddenly, the thought hit her, “The boy is clinging to the underside of the carriage!”

The carriage moved over the ground fast, pulled strongly by the trotting horse. Grasshopper had managed to find handholds and footholds on the underside of the carriage and he clung on for dear life. Bor Tak soon realized what was happening and ran after the carriage shouting, “Stop! Stop! Stop!”

Oh shit!” muttered Grasshopper. “He’s discovered my stunt!”

However, Wen Yiji ignored the bald man’s shouting and continued driving on. Up ahead, Si Mm Chut noticed the carriage trundling towards him. Bor Tak saw Si Mm Chut some distance ahead standing by the road and he shouted out to his young master, “Stop the carriage! They have the boy!”

Si Mm Chut immediately pulled his horse to the center of the road and blocked it.

Once more, Wen Yiji was forced to rein in his horse. He snarled in anger, “This is the third time that I have to stop! Ni nabeh! What the hell is the fucking matter with these muthafuckas? I think I will have to get down and bitchslap a few faces!”

Bor Tak caught up with the halted carriage and panted, “The damn boy is clinging to the bottom side of the carriage!”

From under the carriage, the boy’s voice was heard to yell, “Drive on, mister! These men have just killed my uncle! They want to kill me to keep this matter a secret! They will kill you also! Drive on!”

Then Wen Yiji and Xiang Xiang noticed the inert body of the farmer lying on the ground by the side of the road with blood flowing out from stab wounds in the stomach. They could not help noticing Si Mm Chut cleaning a dagger with a piece of cloth.

Bor Tak got down on his hands and knees on the ground to look at the boy under the carriage. Then he drew back his sword in readiness to plunge it into the boy.

“You! The ugly one with the smooth head! If you kill the boy, I will make sure that you will not leave here alive!” Xiang Xiang shouted. She leapt down from the carriage and moved towards Bor Tak while pointing her Chicken Knife at him. Fearful that she might stab him while he was on the ground, Bor Tak got up immediately to face her with his sword.

Wen Yiji was amazed. This was the first time that he had heard Xiang Xiang threaten anybody. It was so unlike her character.

“Little friend,” she called out to the boy. “Why did these men kill your uncle?”

“Because of a mistaken identity!” the boy shouted back. “These two stupid pigs were looking for two peddlers from Amoy who were carrying scrap metal. I think the peddlers scalded the younger pig’s second brother in the face with hot water in Amoy two nights ago. We kept telling them that we did not scald anyone in Amoy but they were just too dumb to understand!”

A flash of understanding hit Wen Yiji and Xiang Xiang. Yiji had scalded the Celestial Dragon Claw assassin with a bowl of boiling soup two nights ago in Amoy. Somehow, the assassin must have found out that the Wen siblings were headed for Tsinkiang and had asked his brother and comrades to waylay them here.

“Ahhhhh……I understand the whole thing now!” said Wen Yiji. “But if the brother was scalded in Amoy two nights ago, how could the news have reached Tsinkiang so fast?”

Si Mm Chut looked at Wen Yiji and decided that he did not like him. He sneered sarcastically, “You never heard of courier pigeons? From what tiny mountain village did you village yokels come from?”

“You must be the one whose brother got scalded,” remarked Wen Yiji to Si Mm Chut. “You have just killed an innocent man without good cause.”

“What I do is none of your business.”

“I do not like your attitude,” said Wen Yiji. “Now that we also know that you have just killed a man, what are you going to do? Kill us as well?”

Si Mm Chut paused. He was not sure if he and Bor Tak would be able to overcome Wen Yiji and the girl. The girl appeared to know how to wield a blade. He could not decide what to do.

The voice of Grasshopper floated out from under the carriage, “Better not ask that pig such a complicated question. He is too stupid to decide anything smart. Drive on, Mister!”

This infuriated Si Mm Chut and he shouted, “Bor Tak! Why is that boy still alive?”

“These people are in the way!” Bor Tak replied.

Si Mm Chut looked intently at Xiang Xiang holding her Chicken Knife. He was struck by her good looks and so he spoke to Wen Yiji with a changed tone. “Your daughter is very pretty! I am from a reputable family in town and I think it will be a good idea for us to be friends, uncle!”

“Don’t listen to him, Mister,” the voice of Grasshopper called out. “He is an evil person and he comes from an evil family. Only a snake can befriend him!”

“You are an insolent boy,” said Si Mm Chut. “Afterwards, I will feed shit to your mouth.”

“You are an evil beast,” retorted Grasshopper. “One day a snake will crawl up your ass to say ‘Good morning’ to your head.”

“Carriage driver,” said Si Mm Chut to Wen Yiji. “Tell your daughter to stand aside so that my man can pull out the boy!”

“She is not my daughter,” said Wen Yiji coldly. “I am not that old!”

“Ah….so you must be her husband then,” said Si Mm Chut. “It is not right that such a beautiful young girl is married to someone so much older than her!”

“You have a most disrespectful tone. Maybe I will report your crime to the authorities,” said Wen Yiji, his anger rapidly rising.

“The authorities? Hahaha! I will buy up the authorities!”

“Good. I’ll tell every authority I meet and you can spend a vast fortune buying up every authority.”

“You are a stupid fool,” cursed Si Mm Chut. “I will have you killed. And then that young lady of yours will be spending her nights in my bed. After that she will know what a real man can do!”

Wen Yiji paused in his breathing. Then a cold fury enveloped him. Glaring at Si Mm Chut, he snarled, “I will have to slap you silly to discipline that nasty mouth of yours!”

In a flash, he leapt off the carriage. Before Si Mm Chut could react, Wen Yiji had slapped him hard across the mouth.


Si Mm Chut fell down to the ground.

Bor Tak screamed, “Do you know what you just did? That is Young Master Si Mm Chut!”

“Si Mm Chut? How can he have a constipated name like that when he is so full of shit?” asked Wen Yiji.

“He is the youngest son of a reputable family! You are as good as dead!”

The voice of young Grasshopper came from under the carriage, “That pig comes from a family of retards, Mister. The whole town knows that!”

Bor Tak swore colourfully at the boy and threatened Yiji, “Nobody in town dares to fool with us. You are as good as dead!”

“Do I look like I am scared?” asked Yiji.

“No, but you should be.”

“Just shut your mouth, muthafucka, and move away from my carriage!”

Bor Tak stood there unmoving.

“If you do not move away from the carriage, I will slap him again!” warned Yiji again.

Again, Bor Tak stood there unmoving.

From the underside of the carriage, Grasshopper called out, “The bald pig does not understand you, Mister. His brains used to be stored in his hair. When the hair fell out, he became brainless. Go ahead and slap the other pig!”

Wen Yiji was astonished that the small boy had so much to say. At that moment, Si Mm Chut got up unsteadily from the ground. Without hesitation, Wen Yiji slapped him a second time, this time harder.


Si Mm Chut fell down with a bleeding mouth and spat out two broken teeth onto the ground. His tongue was coated with his own blood and he did not like the taste. With a painful struggle, he got up again, but this time, he held a dagger in his hand. In blind rage, he lunged at Wen Yiji who grabbed his wrist easily with one hand, twisted upwards, and broke the offending wrist. Then Yiji slapped him once more.


Si Mm Chut promptly fell down a third time, spitting out more teeth.

Wen Yiji turned to Bor Tak and said, “I can keep this up all day until your young master has no more teeth to lose. He will have an eating problem. In addition to his shitting problem. No eat, no shit.”

“You will die at the end of my sword,” said Bor Tak, moving towards Wen Yiji. “Let us see how well you do against someone who is trained in fighting dirty!”

“Think before you act,” Yiji warned. “My policy is that if you try to kill me, I will kill you. If you use your sword against me, you will surely lose your life.”

The bald fighter ignored the warning and swung his sword at Yiji using a combination of killing strokes. Using his superior speed, Yiji weaved and ducked the sword patterns and then he suddenly tapped the back of Bor Tak with the Uber Slow Walk Heart Stopping Strike. Then he moved back.

“Listen,” said Wen Yiji. “I did warn you that you would lose your life. You have only one day to live. Do whatever you need to do today because tomorrow your life will be gone.”

The bald fighter was not sure what Yiji was talking about, but he was aware that his opponent was much faster than him. He moved warily around Yiji.

The sound of a horse snorting made Yiji turn his head. Si Mm Chut had painfully clambered on top of his horse and was riding away. With one wrist broken, he had to control the reins with only one hand. The horse sensed that the rider was weak and galloped off in the direction it chose.

Thinking that Wen Yiji was being distracted, Bor Tak took the opportunity to attack. The next moment, he flew unceremoniously into the air from a kick by Yiji and landed on the cold hard ground.

Grasshopper slowly extricated himself from under the carriage. He had just crawled half out from the bottom of the carriage when he caught the attention of the bald man. A thrust from the sword into the young boy would end the matter, thought Bor Tak. He leapt towards the boy with his sword thrusting out towards the defenseless boy.


Xiang Xiang looked at her Chicken Knife in amazement. She had seen the danger to the boy and swung her knife upwards to parry Bor Tak’s sword, but had not expected her weapon to break the sword into two. Bor Tak stared at his own broken blade, unable to comprehend the unexpected outcome. Yiji reached the bald man and kicked him in the ribs.


The sound of broken bones could be heard painfully clear in the chilly winter air. Bor Tak dropped his broken sword and crawled away in agony towards his horse.

“I was right when I first said that this blade must have been forged by a master swordsmith,” remarked Wen Yiji.

“You mean Chicken Knife?” asked his sister.

“Yes,” he replied. “It is not an ordinary blade. And another thing; you were trained in pole work but not in swordplay. Yet you jumped down from the carriage with your knife and not your pole! What in Heaven's name were you thinking about?”

“I do not know,” she replied. “I did not stop to think about it.”

“In the martial arts world, there is this concept called “affinity”. I think you may have a natural affinity for butterfly swords.”

“Why butterfly swords?”

“Your Chicken Knife is actually of the same shape as a butterfly sword. I had long suspected that the pole was not your natural weapon. From now on, I will train you to handle the butterfly swords.”

She nodded. Then she turned the boy and asked, “Are you all right?”

Grasshopper nodded.

Wen Yiji looked at him critically and said, “I didn’t think it was possible to cling to the underside of a moving carriage. You are a survivor, aren’t you? What is your name?”

“My name is Grasshopper," the boy replied. "And thank you for your help. I would have been dead if not for you two. Let me give you three kowtows.”

“You don’t have to do that,” said WenYiji.

The sound of a horse galloping made them realized that Bor Tak had climbed onto his horse and escaped.

Grasshopper got down on his knees and prepared to render the three kowtows to his two benefactors. Xiang Xiang stood there in embarrassment, unsure how to react. Wen Yiji ignored the boy and went to take a look at the dead uncle. He knelt down and bent over the dead body.

Grasshopper’s uncle opened his eyes.

Wen Yiji gasped, “What..….you’re still alive?”

The old farmer whispered in a weak voice, “Will…..die…..soon….. If Heaven……was kind…… send you…….to save Grasshopper…….. then Heaven……..would also……..grant me two favours.”

“What two favours?” asked Yiji.

“Grasshopper.… relatives…….take him.…….as your servant……he's resourceful…….eat little…….work fast……trust me.”

“What is your second favour,” Wen Yiji asked.


“Forget it. I’m not killing your killer for you.”

“Si Mm Chut…….very bad man……he……will……kill…….others.”

“What other people do to other people is other people’s problem.”

“His family……..does……..bad things.”

“What other people do to other people is other people’s problem.”

“His father…….Master Simit…….. threatens everyone.”

“What other people do to other people is other …….did you say his father’s name is Simit?”


“What the……alright……that certainly changes things!”

“I…..want……justice……..” whispered the old man, getting weaker and softer.

“I can’t kill Si Mm Chut for you for free,” said Wen Yiji. “It’s against my professional etiquette. You have to pay me something.”

The old farmer gasped with his last breath on earth, “Fine….take my ducks….”


Friday, September 29, 2006


Fengshui concept

There is this fengshui concept that I would like to use in my wuxia story and it is the concept of the ‘Death And Emptiness House’. This is a house that is perfectly aligned with the earth’s magnetic field. The alignment is so perfect that everybody in the house will die within a 12-year cycle.

Why 12 years?

Because there are only 12 animal signs in the Chinese zodiac. The family members staying in the house take turns to die. So if, let’s say, it is the turn of those of a particular animal sign to die this year, then the following year it will be the turn of the family members of another animal sign to die. Or something like that. In 12 years, all the animal signs would have gone through one cycle and everybody in the house would have died.

Relax. The chance of finding such a house is extremely rare. Very few houses can be so perfectly aligned with the earth’s magnetic field. Even if there is one such house in a row of terrace houses, it does not mean that the rest are similarly affected. The workmanship of housing estates is such that many houses in the same row are actually something like 0.1 or 0.2 degrees from each other. No two houses in the same row can be exactly alike. The only way to know if the house is a Death And Emptiness House is to look at the history of the occupants.

In fact, I have never come across a Death And Emptiness House in my life. However, if you come across a house where family members are dying one by one within a 12-year cycle, then you should immediately suspect that it is in a Death And Emptiness House direction. Better for the occupants to move out. There has to be a scientific basis for this but I’m not sure what. The human body is electrical so magnetics must affect it to a certain extent.

But never mind all that mumbo jumbo. Most of you will never see such a house in your whole lifetime. I just want to get the concept out before I use it in the story.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006


The new Perodua Myvi ad

You just can't help comparing the two car companies; Proton and Perodua.

And I think that Perodua deserves my greater respect.


Coz it knows a great idea when it sees one.

Back in 2005, I touted this concept of selective hitchhiking for Proton. I’ll just repost that pic here for your convenience.

(Above pic was what I posted FOR FUN in March last year.)

While the Proton guys played golf, the Perodua guys have been working intelligently while exploring new concepts and reading the right blogs.

Their latest ad campaign shows this:

(This pic was what ACTUALLY APPEARED in the newspapers in September this year.)

I got to hand it to the Perodua boys. They can recognize a kickass idea when they see one. Definitely got prospect!


Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Zen in 3 sentences: Original face

"Show me your original face before your mother and father were born."

Before my mother and father were born, I was just a cloud of atoms drifting aimlessly in the air waiting to coalesce into human form.

Much like the nasty raincloud that drenched you thoroughly the other day.


Sunday, September 24, 2006


The Cook and the Assassin - Chapter 24

Chapter 24: The Celestial Dragon Claw assassin

The river widened out into the sea and Wen Yiji could see the island of Amoy in the distance. Amoy was an island in a sheltered bay surrounded by the mainland on the west and north. The boat headed towards it with Xiang Xiang working the yuloh. The wind was coming from the northeast and it slowed down the progress of the boat.

“Let’s go past Amoy and head towards the mainland in the north,” said Yiji. “We can then join up with the road towards Tsinkiang. With luck we will reach Tsinkiang by tomorrow night.”

“That will not be possible, I think,” she commented. “It looks like a storm will hit us in the afternoon.”

“You could be right,” said her brother, looking at the ominous signs in the sky. “We may have to stop over at Amoy. A stopover will slow us down by one day.”

“We are in no hurry,” she said. “The sea is getting choppy. Will you take over the yuloh? My arms are tired.”

Yiji took over the yuloh and Xiang Xiang showed him how to manipulate the rope attached to the yuloh with one hand and the wooden handle with the other hand in order to propel the boat forward.

“It’s not an easy motion to master,” she said. “But once you are able to coordinate the actions of both hands, the boat moves forward fast.”

Yiji tried and soon he got the hang of it.

“The huge heavy sack that you brought on board looks like it will tear any moment, Brother Yiji,” his sister told him. “The weight of the contents is probably too much for the fabric to bear.”

“I will need to transfer the contents to a stronger container. Like a box.”

“There are two wooden boxes on board containing the Whiz Twins’ personal effects.”

“The Twin effects? They won’t be needed any more. Go empty out the boxes and then transfer what is in the sack to the boxes.”

“Yes, Brother Yiji.”

Dutifully, Xiang Xiang did what she was told. She emptied the boxes and threw the contents into the water. Then she opened up the huge heavy sack and her eyes opened wide.

“There is a lot of money here!” she exclaimed. “Enough to last a few lifetimes. What do you intend to do with it, Brother Yiji?”

“I am thinking of starting a business. Maybe a courtesan house. And call it ‘The Quivering Pleasure Palace’. I like the name.”

“The Wen family is not going to start a courtesan house!” gasped a horrified Xiang Xiang.”I am sure that our dead parents would be thoroughly shocked at this suggestion. Thoroughly shocked!”

“Relax! I was only joking,” said her brother with a grin. “There is no necessity for us to work at all in this lifetime. I’ll buy up some land and houses and then collect rent.”

“But you said that we were going to start a restaurant in Tsinkiang!”

“That’s a good idea. It’s respectable. If people ask me what I do, I can say that I am a restaurant owner. What type of food can you cook?”

“Duck. I am good with ducks…..whether stewed, roasted or in soup.”

“Good. We’ll sell ducks. And we’ll call it ‘The Quivering Duck Restaurant’.”

“No, no! That name is not respectable.”

“All right, call it what you want. We will have just a simple restaurant with only ten tables. That should be enough to keep you busy. You will run it in any way you see fit. When the time comes for you to be married, that restaurant will be your dowry.”

“I can’t take that. It’s supposed to be the Wen’s family restaurant.”

“Forget it! I’m not looking after it once you get married. Remember that I have lots of money and I do not need to depend on a restaurant for income. Once you are married, that restaurant will belong solely to you.”

“Yes, Brother Yiji,” she said. “And thank you.”

Yiji divided the gold and silver into the two recently emptied wooden boxes. The boxes were sealed shut and tied with ropes so that they could be slung across the two ends of a short wooden pole.

As the boat was passing the western side of the island of Amoy, drops of rain fell on deck and the sea got rougher.

“I do not think we will be able to reach the mainland in the north, Brother Yiji,” remarked Xiang Xiang. We will have to land on Amoy to avoid the storm.”

“You are right. We had better hurry,” he replied. “Amoy is not exactly a civilized place. I have been here before. It is supposed to be a center for the Imperial navy to fight the coastal pirates. All sorts of rough people can be found here. Better change into your peddler clothes and disguise yourself as a boy.”

Xiang Xiang nodded and quickly changed her clothes on board while her brother looked out into the sea. Yiji also changed into his peddler clothes later, so they looked like a couple of tradesmen.

They rowed towards the island and landed near a place that looked like a settlement. Powerfully, Yiji pulled the boat high up on the beach all on his own. Slinging his two boxes of valuables on the two ends of a pole, he then walked towards the town, followed by his sister. They managed to reach an inn just in time. The rains came and beat down mercilessly, drenching anyone unfortunate enough to be caught outside without a shelter.

+ + + + + +

In Tsinkiang, Agent Simit drummed his fingers on the table. There had been no word from his second son, Si Liu Thung. He had sent his second son to Amoy for an important assignment. A group of men had offered him a large sum of money to find an assassin to kill an admiral in Amoy. He knew that the men were pirates and that the admiral had been conducting very effective any-piracy operations against them. Killing an admiral could bring long term repercussions, but the financial reward from the pirates was too good to ignore.

Ordinarily he would have sent his eldest son, Si Fatt Guai to do the job but Fatt Guai had turned gay, left the family home and was staying as a guest in the house mansion of Lord Tai in Changchow. So Agent Simit sent his second son to perform the assassination in Amoy instead. His second son, Liu Thung, was also a powerful kungfu fighter, far stronger than anybody could ever suspect. Although he was not gay, something was wrong with him sexually. Agent Simit cursed at the situation. His first two sons were not capable of producing heirs for him. Luckily he still had his third son, Si Mm Chut, whose only problem was constipation.

+ + + + + +

The rain finally stopped towards evening. Like most inns, the inn had the dining hall on the ground floor and the guest rooms upstairs. As they were hungry, the Wen siblings decided to come downstairs to the hall to eat dinner. Xiang Xiang was still in her peddler disguise and she looked like a young boy. They looked for an empty table and noted that only a few of the tables in the eating area were occupied.

A group of men were arguing among themselves at one table, so Wen Yiji and Xiang Xiang decided to take an empty table on the other end of the hall.

The waiter came over to take their order.

“Do you think that those men will fight?” asked Xiang Xiang, gesturing at the group of quarrelling men.

“Oh, don’t worry,” smiled the waiter. “This inn belongs to ‘Whispering Spear’ Shih. Our master is known for his spear kungfu and his short temper. No one will dare to create disorder here.”

“Then why are they making so much noise?” asked Yiji.

“It’s just an act,” the waiter whispered. “They are having some ‘table talk’. But they all talk big only! Chiak pah boh sai pang. When it comes to real fighting, those men will hide under the table first!”

“All right then, I am hungry and want food. Good food,” said Yiji.

“What do you want to eat? We’ve got everything.”

“I want a pot of hot bitter gourd soup.”

“The bitter gourd soup will be very bitter. The last group of people who ordered it threw it onto the floor. May I recommend the carrot soup instead?”

“No, I really want hot bitter gourd soup. And I mean hot, not lukewarm!”

“Alright, but if you don’t like it, please do not throw it onto the floor. What else do you want?”

“Fish. Steamed with ginger. And some stir fried vegetables.”

“Do you want crabs? We have fresh big crabs. Fried in chillies,” said the waiter.

“No thanks.”

“What about sartei?”

“What is that?”

“It is three pieces of meat skewered on a thin stick, barbequed over slow charcoal embers, and served with peanut sauce. Then it is eaten with raw onions and cucumber.”

“Only three pieces of meat?”

“Yes, three. That is why it’s call sartei….three pieces. One stick will not be enough for you. Try twenty sticks.”

“All right. Bring it fast, we’re hungry.”

The waiter moved away. The table of noisy quarrelling men at the other side of the room got noisier.

Suddenly, Xiang Xiang heard one of the men stood up and shouted, “Ni nabeh! You talk like that and see me no up! Better watch your dirty mouth or you will answer to my Infallible Sword!”

Another man stood up and shouted back, “So what? I am the power! I will say what I like!”

“I offer you toasted wine but you want to drink urine! Go and eat shit!”

“Don’t talk big! Or I’ll slice off your head to wipe my feet!”

“Not if I slice off your hands first!”

The next part of the verbal slugfest became unintelligible to Xiang Xiang as the men kept up the slanging match.

“Kan ni nabeh chow chee bai!”

“Lu hor lang kan!”

“Lu hor kau kan!”

“Hor tu kan!”

“Hor goo kan!”

“Hor beh kan!”

armadillo kan!”


At that moment, a voice boomed out from the top of the stairs, “Who has that big gall to pour chaos in my territory?”

The men looked up.

After a pause, one of them said, “Ahhhh…...Master ‘Whispering Spear’ Shih! I give face to you and will stop arguing with this dog here.” He promptly sat down.

The other man who was still standing sneered rudely, “Ni nabeh, you so scared of the innkeeper then you may as well not come here for table talk! Go back and drink your mother’s milk, lah, you!”

The innkeeper got ready his spear. He would brook no nonsense from those who misbehaved. Before he could act, another voice came across the hall, “Why are you people disturbing my meal?”

The men turned in the direction of the voice. The quarrelling man who was still standing turned pale suddenly and said, “I am sorry, Admiral Liang, I did not realize that you are here!” He promptly sat down and peace reigned in the hall.

The waiter brought the tea and Wen Yiji took the opportunity to ask in a hushed tone, “Who is that Admiral Liang?”

“He is the head of the naval unit on this island. His job is to catch the pirates that have been raiding the southern coastline,” came the reply.

“And the four men with him?”

“Those are his bodyguards, the famous Fu Fighters!”

“Famous? I’ve never heard of them!”

“They are also known as the Fabulous Four.”

“Sorry….doesn’t ring a bell.”

“They are sometimes called the Four Heavenly Kings.”

“Ahhhhh………no, never heard of them either!”

“Ohhhh..….but they are very good. The pirates kept sending assassin after assassin after Admiral Liang and the Fu Fighters killed them all. None escaped. So much so that for the past one year, no assassin dared to come to attack the admiral. The supply of assassins must have dried up.”

Yiji nodded. The Fu Fighters looked very capable.

“The pirates must be very desperate to send assassin after assassin to attack the admiral,” remarked Xiang Xiang. “He must be having an effect on them!”

“Oh yes he has! The level of piracy along the coast has dropped. The pirates tried sending him gifts but our Admiral Liang is a very upright official and cannot be bought to look the other way. He is not a 'close one eye' official. So they finally sent assassins after him. However, he has survived them all. People say that Heaven looks out for him,” whispered the waiter. “I think your soup should be ready. I will go to the kitchen to bring it out for you.”

The waiter left. There was nothing for Wen Yiji to do except wait. Suddenly, the door of the inn opened and a gust of wind blew inside. A masked figure stood at the door and surveyed the people in the hall. He walked in and announced, “My business today is with Admiral Liang only. Those passing by; please do not get involved!”

A moment of silence greeted him.

Then ‘Whispering Spear’ Shih spoke, “Are you here to create chaos? You treat me like I am not present, is it?”

Admiral Liang spoke up, “Please do not trouble yourself, Master Shih. This man is obviously after something from me. I will take care of my own affairs.”

The masked man looked at the admiral and said, “Your time has come, old man. I will be taking your life here this evening.”

“May I know why?”

“Someone has paid well to have you sent on a journey to hell. The reason why does not concern me,” answered the masked figure.

“You are a paid assassin. It is you who will die here, as with the previous assassins who tried to attack me.”

“You will find out very shortly that I am different! Very, very different!”

“Talk about assassins and an assassin arrives,” Xiang Xiang said softly to her brother. “But this masked man is not carrying any weapons.”

“He must be supremely confident of his kungfu,” Yiji replied. “This fight should be interesting to watch!”

The masked man attacked and was immediately met by a wall of Fu Fighters with swords drawn. They slashed at him from all sides but he was fast enough to get out of trouble.

Wen Yiji watched in fascination. The masked man had swift body movements and avoided the slashing blades. He never allowed himself to be caught in a vulnerable position, always moving around so that the Fu Fighters could not tie him down to one spot. At one point, he seemed to grasp two blades with his bare hands, catching them in midair. He had to let go the blades when he was attacked from another direction by the other Fu Fighters.

“Fingers of steel,” noted Wen Yiji. “Even I can’t do that!”

The waiter arrived and placed an open pot of soup on the table. “Your bitter gourd soup,” he announced. “Boiling hot. Just nice for a cold evening like this!”

“I thought you said that nobody will dare to create disorder here! How are we supposed to eat with a fight going on?” asked Xiang Xiang.

“Oh don’t worry,” replied the waiter. “It’ll be over very fast. The Fu Fighters cannot be beaten. By the time I bring out the rice for you, the fight will be over.”

Wen Yiji looked at the fight as the waiter left. He knew that the masked man was having the upper hand. Sooner or later, he would whittle down the Fu Fighters one by one.

A Fu Fighter came too close and the masked man grabbed his forearm. There was a crunching sound and the Fu Fighter dropped his sword. An iron palm strike on the ribs sent the unfortunate fighter collapsing on the floor. The Fu Fighters were down to three.

The masked assassin leapt towards Admiral Liang pursued closely by the three Fu Fighters. He turned aside and caught a blade headed in his direction with his steely fingers. He brought down his other hand onto the arm of the man wielding the blade. Again there was a crunching sound of bone shattering, and the blade dropped to the floor.

“Avoid his fingers!” shouted the innkeeper, Master Shih. “His strength is in his fingers!”

“Shut up!” snarled the masked man. “I hate interfering busybodies! Anybody who interferes will die!”

There were only two Fu Fighters left capable of putting up a fight.

“Run, admiral!” one of them shouted. “We will delay him!”

The admiral got up and walked away swiftly. However, the masked man was not about to let his quarry escape. The remaining two Fu Fighters were more careful in their stroke placements, slashing at the masked man’s feet and body while avoiding the fingers. Even while occupied, the assassin managed to grab a bowl of rice from a table and hurled it towards the fleeing admiral. It hit the admiral at the back of the head and sent him sprawling to the floor, next to where Wen Yiji and Xiang Xiang were waiting for their rice.

“The fight is getting closer, Xiang Xiang,” Yiji said. “We had best shift to a safer position.”

Gingerly, he held the pot of boiling soup by the side handle to avoid burning his fingers and got up from his seat. His sister also got up. She looked down at the admiral lying on the floor near them and then she looked up. The masked assassin had leapt high up into the air and away from the two remaining Fu Fighters and headed towards the admiral’s direction. She knew that masked man would land on his quarry and Admiral Liang would be dead in a short moment. There was no way that the remaining two Fu Fighters could prevent it.

“Move quickly away, Xiang Xiang,” Yiji said urgently.

Making her mind up swiftly, she pushed her table forward over the fallen admiral. The masked assassin crashed onto the table that suddenly appeared between him and the admiral. He toppled clumsily onto the floor and the admiral took the opportunity to scramble quickly away to momentary safety.

The assassin got up, glared at Xiang Xiang furiously and snarled, “I hate interfering busybodies! I have just said that anybody who interferes will die! I’ll send you to the western sky first!”

He rushed towards Xiang Xiang who ducked behind her brother for protection. As the assassin rushed in with a hand raised for an iron palm strike, Wen Yiji did the only thing he could think of. He threw the pot of boiling soup at the attacker. The masked man tried to swerve and he held up one hand to ward off the pot. The boiling soup splashed onto half of his face, scalding him painfully and momentarily blinding one eye. He leapt away howling and waving his hands where some of the boiling soup had landed. He was also dancing a funny dance so Yiji guessed that the soup must have scalded his legs as well.

The two remaining Fu Fighters sensed an opportunity and moved in to attack. However, the masked assassin knew that luck was not with him that night, so he leapt up high and towards the door for an ungracious exit into the night.

“My bitter gourd soup!” cried Wen Yiji, looking at the wet floor with bits and pieces of bitter gourd lying around.

Admiral Liang approached and said, “Thank you, you two, for saving my life.”

“It was nothing, admiral,” said Wen Yiji. “We are only simple peddlers and all we did was sacrificed a pot of soup.”

“Nevertheless, had you not interfered, I would now be dead.”

"Do you know who your attacker was?"

"No. But we know now that he has been scalded on the face. I will ask my men to keep a lookout for a man with blisters on the face."

The innkeeper approached and asked, “Admiral Liang, are you all right?”

“I am all right,” replied the admiral. “But I fear that two of my men have been injured. This assassin was different from the rest. He is much more powerful.”

“Yes. I think he is using the bone shattering Celestial Dragon Claw kungfu,” said ‘Whispering’ Spear Shih. “By just clutching the body part, he sends in a dark energy and can break the bones beneath the skin! It is a very secretive martial art and I have never seen it until now. But I have heard my sifu described it once.”

“I have never heard of any Celestial Dragon Claw kungfu,” remarked Wen Yiji. “This may be a bad situation. He may come to attack the admiral again. To defeat the enemy, one must know the enemy. Does the Celestial Dragon Claw kungfu have a weak point?”

“According to my sifu, the Celestial Dragon Claw kungfu has great strength in the fingers,” replied the innkeeper. “One must be a virgin to learn this type of martial art.”

“What happens if one is not a virgin?”

“Then he will become sexually impotent after mastering the Celestial Dragon Claw kungfu. But whether impotent or not, the Celestial Dragon Claw practitioner has great power. A great deal of his power is concentrated in his fingers. But that does not mean that he is slow. In fact he is quite fast. His only weak point would be in his iron palm strikes. They have the power to kill, but they are not in the same league as a top kungfu master.”

“That does not appear much of a weak point as long as his strikes can kill,” remarked the admiral.

“True,” agreed the innkeeper. “And also, who is to say that he will not shatter the bones in the hand of his opponent when matching iron palms? In fact, anything that he touches will be in great danger.”

“The only way to fight with him is to grip his wrists to prevent him from bringing his fingers into play,” said one of the Fu Fighters. “We will have to take special care from now on, admiral. There could be more of these assassins using the dark martial arts. I wish we know what we are dealing with. Master Shih, any information you can provide us would be most helpful.”

“The effects of the dark martial arts are not often documented,” said the innkeeper. “My sifu is dead now or he would be able to tell us more. However, I remember him saying that that I would have to walk away from a fight if I encountered the following three martial arts; Celestial Dragon Claw kungfu, Five Fairies Iron Palm and the Dark Fire Iron Palm.”

Wen Yiji was surprised to hear the Dark Fire Iron Palm mentioned. He muttered quietly and incoherently to himself, “Kanineh, simply call the Dark Fire Iron Palm a dark martial art! Old White Hair would not be pleased.”

“I beg your pardon?” asked the innkeeper.

“Oh nothing,” said Wen Yiji. “What are the weaknesses of the other two?”

“In the Five Fairies Iron Palm kungfu, each finger has the power of a Fairy,” replied ‘Whispering Spear’ Shih. “No other kungfu can match the level of power except for the Buddha Palm. You should never try to match power with the Five Fairies. However, this martial artist is reputed to be slow, as what he gained in power, he lost in speed. A really fast fighter can still kill him. Here’s something interesting; a Five Fairies Iron Palm kungfu exponent will undergo emotional changes and turn feminine-like. He will prefer men to women.”

Wen Yiji thought of Si Fatt Guai whom he knew used the Five Fairies Iron Palm kungfu. At last he understood Si Fatt Guai’s interest in men.

“What about the Dark Fire Iron Palm?” asked Admiral Liang.

“That one is known for both speed and power,” answered the innkeeper. “The last person known to have used it was the very evil Shantou Devil. Since he disappeared, there has been no other case of the Dark Fire Iron Palm. I think it has disappeared for good.”

“Does one have to be a virgin to learn the Dark Fire Iron Palm as well?” asked the admiral.

“Yes,” replied Master Shih. “Otherwise he would become extra horny. Damn horny.”

At that point, the waiter brought out the rice. He took one look at the remnants of bitter gourd soup on the floor and commented, “Wa……piang! The soup not good also you don’t have to throw on the floor!”

Shaking his head and sighing, he walked to the kitchen to get the broom. On passing by the table of quarrelling men, he looked under the table and saw the men hiding there.

Oi!” he shouted. “The fight is over! You can come out now and continue your ‘table talk’!”

+ + + + + +

At his secret hideout on the island, Si Liu Thung cursed. He had failed to assassinate Admiral Liang with his first attempt. He would have to try again. He could have killed the admiral if not for the interference of the two peddlers. He checked his face in the bronze mirror and could see an angry red swelling. Parts of his face were numb and those parts that were not numb were painful. He knew that blisters would soon form on his face. The vision in one eye was blurry. He cursed again. He could remember the face of the younger peddler; a young boy of around fourteen years of age. The face of the older peddler who threw the hot soup on his face eluded him. He had not paid attention to the older peddler at that time, which was his big mistake.

The anger within him grew. He would have to postpone the assassination until his eye and face healed. There was nothing to do except inform his father about it and then go back home to see a daifu.

Lying on the bed and trying to sleep, he came to an angry decision; he would kill the two interfering peddlers before he leave and make them die a slow death. Assassins made it a point of principle to kill only for money. This time, he would make an exception and slaughter the two defenceless peddlers for free.

+ + + + + +

In the early morning the following day, Wen Yiji and Xiang Xiang left the inn and made their way to the boat that they had arrived in. They half expected to find the boat stolen, but it was still there. Yiji pulled it down to the water and they got on board. Soon, they were on the way to the mainland in the north.

Not long after they had gone, Si Liu Thung approached the inn where they had been staying. He waited outside until an inn waiter came out. Taking out some money and giving it to the hotel waiter, he made some discreet inquiries as to the room where two peddlers were staying.

“Oh, those two,” said the waiter while pocketing the money. “You are too late! They left early this morning!”

“Do you know where they went?”

“They said that they were headed for Tsinkiang.”


“They will go by the overland route as it is too difficult to go by sea in this season.”

“How were they dressed and what were they carrying?”

“They were dressed in dark blue and the older one was carrying two wooden boxes slung on a pole. It looked rather heavy and I asked if I could help. But he said that it was only scrap metal and that he could manage. Say, what happened to your face? All red with blisters!”

“Oh….it’s nothing.”

“You looked like a lobster with pimples.”

“Shut up! And mind your own business!”

As Si Liu Thung walked away, he saw a man pasting a notice on the wall. He stopped to read. The notice announced that if anybody saw anyone with a scalded face, he was to report the matter immediately to the authorities. Damn! He pulled his hat lower over his face and walked on. It would not be easy to get off the island if the authorities were looking for him. Luckily, he had a way of getting out a message to his father.

+ + + + + +

At midday, Agent Simit received a message by courier pigeon from his son, Si Liu Thung. Flying from Amoy, it took the pigeon only half the morning to reach Tsinkiang; a distance that would take one to two days for a person to walk. Simit’s face clouded over when he read the details of the failed assassination.

“What is the matter, father?” asked the third son, Si Mm Chut. “You looked furious! Si mi tai chi?

“Your second brother has been injured. Apparently, somebody threw boiling water at him and scalded his face!”

Kanineh! I thought he was very fast. He stood there for people to throw boiling water at him for what? Siam siam a bit mah! Anyway, who would dare to do such a thing?”

“Two peddlers. One of them is a boy about fourteen years of age. They are scrap metal collectors or something like that. Dressed in blue and carrying two heavy wooden boxes. They are on the way here to Tsinkiang. They should reach here tomorrow.”

“Coming to Tsinkiang? Perhaps we can arrange a fatal reception for them.”

“Nobody scalds my son and gets away with it. I want them dead!”

“I’ll take some men and wait for them along the main road into Tsinkiang. Don’t you worry, father. I’ll make sure their fate is a horrible one!”

“No, you stay at home. I want you safely here.”

“Why scared? I’ll take some strong fighters with me and intercept the peddlers coming to town. Then I'll beat the shit out of them. Until they lao sai. Then when they got no more shit left, I will scald them to death! Trust me!”

“I said I want you to stay at home! I will send some men to deal with the matter.”

Si Mm Chut sulked and left the room. He would do something about it whether his father liked it or not. He was already eighteen but his father still treated him like a little child. If there was one thing that he enjoyed doing, it was beating people up. There was only one main road by land from Amoy to Tsinkiang. He would go and intercept the two peddlers without his father’s knowledge. Then he would take their lives. He smiled crookedly at the idea.


Saturday, September 23, 2006


Back again

Well. I’m back!

I see that some of you have been having fun in my comment box. You people have a one track mind! Like grey matter on a monorail. ‘Colonel Viewtru’ sounds almost respectable. Muahahahah! In fact, if I’m any more respectable I’ll be a virgin in the North Pole.

Alright, I’m going to sleep now. Chapter 24 will be posted tomorrow.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006



Announcement: I would like my honourable(yeah…right), and devoted(again, yeah…..right) blog readers to know that I will be going to an ulu place(no, not Haadyai, that’s not ulu) for the next couple of days.

I won’t be doing any posting till I’m back. Not that it really matters to decent folks.

But then again, I can always indulge in an earth shattering fantasy and pretend that decent folks are ganging up to award me the Nobel Prize for Moral Decency in Blogging, can’t I?


If you are one of those who stumbled here for the first time due to an error in judgment, and got bent out of shape as a result, you may want to know that although my regular visitors may be sort of “morally challenged”, they are also extremely good looking and horny.


Monday, September 18, 2006


Danger in Haadyai

So now we are told that it is dangerous to go to Haadyai.

I bet that sucks.

It is a well known fact that decent people enjoy going to Haadyai for some innocent shopping experience and equally innocent dining experience, and look, what happened?

Shit starts exploding for no fucking reason.

Hey, we are talking Haadyai here, where the only thing that ought to explode are the u-know-what.

If you are in the habit of visiting the south of Thailand for 'some innocent shopping expreience and equally innocent dining experience', well don't.

The fact that all that shit were planted by retards making war on humanity does not mean that they will not go off.

The most you can hope for are that they blow up while the retards are still preparing the explosive chemical mixture in their huts.

Heck, I don't mind the retards blowing themselves up every now and then. In fact, I kinda like that idea.


Saturday, September 16, 2006



It’s a Saturday night and I am at home doing work that simply has to be done.

I have to do what I have to do because if I do not do what I have to do, then what I have to do will not be done.

This piece of irrefutable logic should not escape anyone with an IQ above 80, I’m sure.

And as for this inexplicable habit of mine of posting in just three sentences, well, tonight I’m making it four.


Friday, September 15, 2006


Zen in 3 sentences: Movement

“If you see a flag fluttering in the wind, is it the wind that moves or is it the flag that moves?"

The standard answer all Zen masters give is that it is neither the wind nor the flag that moves but rather it was your mind that moves.

Which in a way is true because if your mind was not moving then you would be clinically dead in which case you would not have been able to see the flag fluttering in the wind.


Thursday, September 14, 2006


Rainy morning

It rained this morning. Heavy. So heavy that I thought that Noah came back with the ark.

I was late for work but what the heck. The roads were wet and I was certainly not going to drive faster to make up for lost time. That’s the advantage of being hired for your looks; you are allowed to be late. Coz no matter how late you are, you know that no one else in the office can look better than you do. Let me just take a second to gloat.

*Gloat, gloat, gloat*

Oooops…..that was three seconds……sorry!

Back to my story. As I was driving along the highway in the middle lane, I noticed that the cars in the fast lane on the right had slowed down.

The reason? KPC Law at work.

The KPC Law states that “When there is an accident on the opposite side of the road, even with a ROAD DIVIDER, the cars on this side will slow down.”

So there I was, keeping to my lane when I noticed in my wing mirror that a car was coming up very fast on my right. Speedily, on the wet road, the driver drew level to my right. He had not noticed that the cars in his fast lane had slowed down and my first thought was, “The poor bastard’s not gonna stop in time. He had better not swerve into my lane or I’ll stick some aliens into him.”

One second later:


That was the sound of taillights getting a physical workout. The poor bastard had misjudged his braking distance on the slippery road and hit the vehicle to his front.

As I was driving away, I could see in my rear view mirror that the affected vehicles had stopped in their lane. So in the end, we had accidents on BOTH sides of the highway. If it wasn’t so stupidly tragic, it would have been funny.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006



Reeelaaaaaax !!!


Tuesday, September 12, 2006


The Cook and the Assassin - Chapter 23

Chapter 23: The Whiz Twins of the Fire Mountain Sect

As the boat drifted along with the current, Wen Yiji thought furiously on how to get out of the situation. It became obvious to him that these two men were much more formidable opponents than the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The fact that the boatman did not appear to be hurt by his palm blast implied a mastery over impact absorption techniques as well as a superior bodily toughness. Wen Yiji had to find a weak spot in them. Perhaps he could frighten them into a more obliging behaviour.

“Listen,” he said. “You do not want to mess with me. I am an assassin from the Fire Mountain Sect and we are not to be trifled with. The consequences of your actions will be most horrifying.”

“You can’t be from the Fire Mountain Sect!” said the boatman from the back of the boat.

“Why not?”

“Because we are from the Fire Mountain Sect!” the boatman exclaimed.

Yiji was shocked for an instant. He had not really expected to meet anybody from the Fire Mountain Sect. It was a most weird scenario that nobody could foresee. In the light of this new situation, Wen Yiji decided that threats would not work. He changed his tactics and decided to try subterfuge.

Swiftly, he collected his thoughts and said, “Oh… we are all from the Fire Mountain Sect! In that case, we are comrades and should not be fighting among ourselves.”

However, the boatman said, “You are not from the Fire Mountain Sect. We know everybody from the Fire Mountain Sect.”

“Don’t be ridiculous!” Yiji countered. “The Fire Mountain Sect has many members. How can you possibly know everybody?”

“The Fire Mountain Sect now has only two members; I and my brother here. Even during its peak, our strength only numbered thirty assassins! Throughout our history, we have always been a small and shadowy organisation. Every member knew every member. So how can you claim to be a member of the Fire Mountain Sect?”

“What you did not know was that I was personally recruited by Master Gojisan,” Yiji lied. “He had not introduced me to the rest of the members yet.”

“Impossible! We know that Master Gojisan is dead!”

“How do you know that?”

“The chief of the Fire Mountain Sect cannot be absent from his post for more than four years. That is the law of our sect. Master Gojisan has been absent for longer than that. We know that he must already be dead otherwise he would have returned to our secret headquarters!”

Yiji thought fast. “Master Gojisan recruited me before he died,” he said. “He was in the Imperial City five years ago when he met me.”

“Oh! That is right…..he did go to the Imperial City five years ago.”

“See? I was not bluffing you! I am of the Fire Mountain Sect. We are all brothers. May I ask you high surname and big name?”

“I am called Whirlwind. My brother here is called Blizzard. We are known in the martial underworld as the Whiz Twins because of our speed.”

“But you don’t look like twins.”

“It’s just a name! We don’t have to be twins to be Twins. As long as we are able to do things together in a complementary manner, we will exhibit what is known as the Twins Effect!”

“Okay, Whiz Twins who are not twins……you said that the Fire Mountain Sect has only two members. How can that be possible?”

“After Master Gojisan disappeared five years ago, there were about twenty of us but we were left without proper leadership. There was a sect to maintain but we had no income. We could not take on assassination contracts because under our law, only the chief could approve such deals. Slowly, our financial resources were drained by constant expenditure and the members became dissatisfied. By our constitution, if the chief disappears for four years, he is presumed to be dead and a new chief has to be chosen. So last year, we were set to elect a new chief. However, everybody had their own ideas about who should be the chief. Soon, the sect separated into Team A and Team B.”

“Did Team A and Team B fight?”

“Of course! What do you think? It was inevitable. Team A was the stronger team and it killed everybody in Team B. To celebrate their victory, the victorious Team A members broke open Master Gojisan’s special stock of wine and toasted each other thoroughly. However, they did not know that one member of team B had secretly poisoned the wine beforehand. Soon, every member of Team A was dead on the floor.”

“That’s an interesting story. But that does not explain why everyone is dead but you two are still alive.”

“Oh……Blizzard and I had a secret pact. I joined Team A while he joined Team B. On the day of the battle, I pretended to fight with him. Then he pretended to flee while I pretended to give chase. We left the battleground to hide somewhere. When the battle was over, we crept back quietly and spied the Team A members celebrating with the poisoned wine. One by one they collapsed on the floor and died. I forgot what the poison was called, but it was very effective.”

“It was probably the Humpalang Si Khiaw Khiaw Poison,” commented Wen Yiji. “Gojisan introduced it to me.”

“That’s right!” exclaimed Whirlwind. “Now I remember! You must be quite familiar with Master Gojisan to know this. With everybody dead, it was up to me and Blizzard to save the sect. We needed new members, new blood, and a fresh start. However, we needed money to put our plans into motion. A great deal of money.”

“And so you turned into a life of crime. From assassins to robbers.”

“An assassin is no different from a robber. Both kill for money. We then got this boat and kept our eyes opened for any rich folks who needed to travel. Once they got on board, their life and belongings were ours to take. And when we killed them, it was an easy matter to get rid of the bodies by dumping them overboard. The fish in this river are hungry. Hahaha! This is much better than going to people’s houses and assassinating people for a fee.”

“Well, all right. Since we are all from the Fire Mountain Sect, you should release my sister,” demanded Wen Yiji.

“Not so fast!” said Blizzard, still holding his sword to Xiang Xiang’s throat. “You claimed to have met Master Gojisan. Did you know why he was in the Imperial Capital?”

“Of course,” replied Wen Yiji. “He went there to kill off the family of Lady Red Leaf. Didn’t you know?”

“Of course we knew,” answered Whirlwind. “Lady Red Leaf was our senior. Our si jie. She was the beauty of the Sect and was supposed to have become the daughter-in-law of Master Gojisan. She was part of the team sent to assassinate Patriarch Wang in Tsinkiang. She pretended to be the bride who married Wang Yuan, the son of Patriarch Wang. Who could have foreseen that she would betray our sect to follow Wang Yuan? Master Gojisan never forgave them and hunted them for years.”

“Oh, so you knew Lady Red Leaf personally,” noted Yiji.

“That’s right,” said Whirlwind. “She was a highly accomplished assassin. She used to help us train. She would still be with us if the Patriarch Wang fiasco had not occurred.”

Xiang Xiang had a burning question. “Did you manage to kill Patriarch Wang in the end?”

“Of course we did. When he left his manor to attend a friend’s funeral, Blizzard and I went to the same funeral. Patriarch Wang did not expect anyone to kill him there. You know how we took his life? I plunged a sword through his heart from the back with such suddenness that his bodyguards could only stand there and watch! Ha ha ha! We are the Whiz Twins!”

Wen Yiji took the information calmly. The fact that Patriarch Wang was his biological grandfather did not perturb him in the least. His father had left the Wang family and he was no more a Wang but a Wen. A thought fleeted through his mind that he should at least be outraged a bit. Even a tiny bit. However, he controlled his feelings and concentrated on trying to secure the safety of his sister.

“You have no cause to threaten my sister since I am a member of the Fire Mountain Sect,” he demanded. “Please release her.”

“Certainly,” said Whirlwind. “But we will need to exchange passwords first.”

“Passwords? Why?”

“If you are a member of the Fire Mountain sect, then you will know our secret password,” replied Whirlwind. “Lia-ma-fu-lat!”

“What?” asked Yiji, unable to believe his ears.

“I said “Lia-ma-fu-lat”. That is the password.”

“Oh…..err……correct!” said Yiji. “Very good. Excellent.”

“Now’s your turn to give me the corresponding password!” demanded Whirlwind.


“The corresponding password! When I say “Lia-ma-fu-lat”, you must give me the corresponding password in return!” insisted Whirlwind.

Wen Yiji did not know the corresponding password. He would have to guess and hope that he was correct.

He took a wild guess and said, “Lia-pa-fu-lat!”

“That’s not correct!” said Whirlwind, slightly shocked. "Try again!"

“Oooops……sorry. I mean “Lia-mooi-fu-lat”,” Yiji said.

“Again incorrect!" said Whirlwind. "That was preposterous! You have one last try!”

Yiji took a deep breath and said hesitantly, “Lia-por-fu-lat!”

Whirlwind glared at him and shouted, ““Wrong! You do not know the answer!”

Blizzard spoke up from inside the shelter, “You are not a member of the Fire Mountain Sect! Or you would know that when we say “lia-ma-fu-lat!” you are supposed to say “sama sama!””

“Sama sama?” asked Yiji.

“Yes, “sama sama”! It is obvious that you are an outsider, or you would have known our password!” said Blizzard with a sneer. “You are a bullshitter, and a hopeless one. I’m not releasing your sister!”

Wen Yiji breathed out slowly in frustration. Subterfuge did not work. He would have to try something else.

Xiang Xiang’s voice piped up, “Will you just shoot the idiot?”

“I can’t,” replied Yiji. “He’s too fast. He can avoid my arrows.”

“I don’t mean that idiot! I mean this idiot! He’s holding me very tight. So damn humsap!”

Yiji crouched down slightly and trained his arrow into the on-board shelter in Blizzard’s direction. “I can’t shoot him either,” he said. “He’s hiding behind you.” Then he straightened up again.

“You can shoot anything you want to. Shoot him, Brother Yiji!”

Yiji crouched low again, pointed his arrow in Blizzard’s direction and said, “I can’t. The boat is moving and I may hit you. You are my only sister. I will not take the risk.” He straightened up and in the same motion cunningly shifted slightly to his left.

“I am willing to take the risk. Just shoot, Brother Yiji!” said Xiang Xiang.

“That’s right, Brother Yiji,” Blizzard mimicked her. “Just shoot, Brother Yiji!”

Again, Yiji crouched down to look at her properly and said, “I cannot take that risk. I can’t shoot accurately from this position. I do not wish to kill you by mistake. How will I explain to our dead parents if I kill my only sister?”

“They intend to kill us both, Brother Yiji,” said Xiang Xiang. “You can still save yourself. This idiot’s body is bigger than mine. He can’t hide very well behind me. I am sure you can find a spot to shoot.”

“No!” said Yiji.

“Forget about me! Just shoot!” cried Xiang Xiang.

“Yes, why don’t you just shoot?” taunted Blizzard again.

From his awkward half-crouching position, Yiji fired off the arrow. The arrow went wide and sped past Xiang Xiang’s head by an arm’s length.

“Oh, you missed!” taunted Blizzard. “By a huge distance! You were not even close!”

Xiang Xiang was surprised at how wide Yiji’s arrow had gone. She looked at her brother’s stance and she was aware that it was a very deliberate shot. She knew her brother well enough to know that he could hit anything with an arrow. She had seen him in practice and had marveled at his ability to shoot in any position from any angle and still hit with pinpoint accuracy. If he missed, then he must have missed intentionally.

But Yiji did not miss. The arrow sped past Xiang Xiang, through the shelter, out the other side, and headed towards Whirlwind.

Whirlwind, standing at the other end of the boat, could not see where Wen Yiji had crouched and aimed. He assumed that Wen Yiji was shooting at Blizzard in the shelter. It was a bad assumption that would cost him his miserable life.

It was when the arrow emerged out to his side of the shelter that Whirlwind had a sudden realization that the arrow was meant for him. He was positioned next to the yuloh and four steps away from the on-board shelter. By the time he detected the arrow’s flight, it was too late for him to take evasive action. If he had been eight steps away from the shelter, he could have avoided the arrow. But at four steps away, he simply had no chance.

The arrow pierced into his abdomen, severed an intestine and punctured his organs. He staggered a half-step and clutched the yuloh for support and gasped inaudibly, “Chow chee bai…..”

Without wasting time, Wen Yiji swiftly loaded another arrow to his bow. He drew his bow again.

Blizzard did not realized that behind him, Whirlwind had been shot in the abdomen, and when he saw Yiji drawing his bow again, he sneered, “Surely you are not thinking of trying again? Frankly I think you should not use a bow. You won’t be able to hit the side of a house! And if you come any nearer, I will slice her throat!”

“I do not wish to get nearer to you any more than I can help it,” retorted Yiji. “Frankly, you smell. Like last year’s fish.”

Lim peh ka li kong, you should give up archery and take up needlework!” Blizzard taunted him.

Yiji aimed the arrow towards Xiang Xiang. Then he lowered his weapon slightly and said, “You are a coward, hiding yourself behind my sister’s dress. And please move your head away from my sister’s head. Chee ko pek.”

“So what if I am cheek-to-cheek with your sister?” sneered Blizzard. “She has very soft cheeks. Like tofu.”

“I can’t stand this smelly dog next to me!” said Xiang Xiang to her brother. “Will you just kill him?”

“I can’t take the shot,” replied Yiji. “His body is behind you and his head is too close to your head. It is too risky.”

“In that case, just kill me already,” she said. “Death is far better than being this close to this smelly piece of fermented scum. Take the shot!”

“Yes, take the shot!” taunted Blizzard. “Maybe you can hit the side of the boat!”

Yiji was surprised to see Xiang Xiang signal him with a slow wink. Then she opened her mouth and curled her tongue. The little copper blade she kept under her tongue appeared magically and she gripped it with her teeth. Yiji was not sure what she intended to do, but he pulled back his bow and got ready.

Xiang Xiang rotated her head suddenly and the little copper blade held between her teeth flashed across Blizzard’s cheek, slashing it painfully. Blizzard snapped his head in a reflex action. At that short instant, Bizzard’s head had jerked away from Xiang Xiang’s head. It was the moment of opportunity that Yiji was waiting for, and he took it. He shot without hesitation and the arrow sped straight into Blizzard’s head, driving into his brain cells and killing him instantly. Quickly, Xiang Xiang moved away the hand that held the sword to her throat and freed herself from her assailant’s grip. Blizzard toppled over backwards.

Whirlwind had just hit several yuedao points on his abdomen to block out the nerves. He felt much less painful but was still bleeding internally. At least the pain has been blocked. As he was pondering his next course of action, the body of Blizzard toppled over backwards to the rear of the shelter. The dead Blizzard stared upwards with opened eyes and with an arrow buried deep in his forehead.

Whirlwind froze. He knew that he and his brother had been defeated by their intended victim with superior archery skills. They had underestimated him. Whirlwind guessed that Wen Yiji would kill him soon. However, if he could get to the girl and hold her hostage, he might have a slim chance to escape with his life.

He leapt forward, intending to reach the girl inside the shelter. From the front of the boat, Wen Yiji noticed Whirlwind’s actions and he too raced forward towards the shelter.

“Duck down!” he shouted to his sister.

She ducked downwards as her brother threw a palm blast. Whirlwind had almost reached the girl when the Dark Fire Iron Palm blast caught him at full blast and he was blown out of the shelter. He landed on the deck against the yuloh and collapsed in a painful heap of flesh. The violent movement had caused the arrow lodged inside his abdomen to swish wildly inside him and create more internal lacerations. The red patch of blood on his clothes spread rapidly. He was oozing blood like a mountain spring.

Wen Yiji and his sister appeared beside the fallen Whirlwind.

“You are as good as dead,” remarked Wen Yiji. “You might have been able to withstand my first palm blast. But with my arrow inside your stomach, the second palm blast will cause the internal bleeding to become one huge horrifying mess. I think your innards have ruptured and your organs are hemorrhaging severely. You will be dead even before the boat reaches the shore.”

Whirlwind knew that his end had come. It was not only the end of his life; it was also the end of the Fire Mountain Sect.

Xiang Xiang spoke, “If it is any consolation to you, since you are now the last member of the Fire Mountain Sect, you are automatically the chief of the sect. There is no one else.”

“Yes,” smiled Whirlwind with great difficulty. “I……..the…..chief….”

“Are the former chiefs of the Fire Mountain Sect buried in a special place?” asked Xiang Xiang.

“They…..are…..buried……..sacred….ground …..behind…..main……hall ….at…..Sect…..headquarters…..”

“Do you wish to be buried there? Among the chiefs?”


“How do I get there?” she asked.

“Chongyang town…..follow Taidong River …… upstream……. fifty li ……..will…..come to…..dry tributary bed…..follow…..dry bed…...three li….On left……cliff……look for hole………hidden by vegetation……high up…..”

“How high?” she asked.

“Above roof level……place hand……top right of rock ……. push….. rock swings open…… cave passage……to hidden enclosed valley …….. inside mountain …….there secret headquarters …… of Fire Mountain Sect …….behind main hall …….sacred burial ground…… for chiefs…….”

Wen Yiji interjected, “You have the nerve……asking us to take you to your sacred burial ground. After what you did to my family.”

“Your……family?” asked the dying Whirlwind.

“Yes, my family!” replied Wen Yiji. “Remember the Patriarch Wang you killed? He was my biological grandfather. Lady Red Leaf was my mother. That old bastard Gojisan had my family killed in cold blood. I swore to destroy the Fire Mountain Sect. With you and Blizzard gone, the Fire Mountain Sect is finished. This will be a day to remember!”

Xiang Xiang asked, “What are you going to do with their bodies, Brother Yiji?”

Yiji answered, “I remember this moron saying that it was an easy matter to get rid of bodies by dumping them overboard. That was very good advice. I shall follow it!”

“No……...” gasped Whirlwind weakly.

“Oh yes,” said Wen Yiji to the bleeding man. “Didn't you say that the fish in this river are hungry? So okay, maybe I will let you die first before I throw you into the water.”

Yiji then went to the on-board shelter and dragged out Blizzard’s dead body. He lifted it up and tossed it high into the air. It landed into the water with a loud splash. Hearing the splash, Whirlwind winced uncomfortably.

Yiji then dragged the body of Whirlwind close to the edge of the boat and said, “Remember that I said that maybe I will let you die first before I throw you into the water?”

Whirlwind nodded slightly.

Wen Yiji smiled and continued, “Well.….I was only joking.”

With that, he tipped the horrified Whirlwind into the water and watched the body sink down out of sight, struggling feebly all the way down.. The fish swarmed around and slowly, the river turned red.

“You have taken revenge for grandfather,” noted Xiang Xiang.

“Yes,” said Yiji after a long moment of silence. “Nice move with that blade in your mouth.”

“Oh….thank you….and nice shooting!”

“By the way, why did you want to know where all the chiefs of the Fire Mountain Sect were buried?” he asked.

“Oh that!” she replied. “Actually I was not interested in their burial place. I merely wanted Whirlwind to tell us where the secret location of the Fire Mountain Sect was.”

“Why didn’t you ask him directly?”

“Would he have told us?”

“I doubt it. Your tactics were correct. The way to deal with crooks is through crooked ways.”

“So now we know the secret location of the Fire Mountain Sect.”

Yiji was reminded how intelligent his sister was. Even at only fifteen years old, she was smarter than most people. He would have to marry her to a good family soon, but he knew that most rich men were idiots. Finding a compatible match for her would not be easy. But he would think of it only when the time came.

“There is no point in going to the sect headquarters since Gojisan is obviously not there,” he said. “We are going downstream to Amoy as we planned. Shit, I don’t know how to handle this boat.”

“Don’t worry!” said his sister. “I know how to handle the yuloh. It’s one of the many things I picked up in Tianjin. We should get to Amoy soon.”

“Good. We’ll go to Amoy first, and from there to Tsinkiang.”

“Where did you get that huge sack of valuables, Brother Yiji?” Xiang Xiang asked. “You did not steal it, did you?”

“Of course not!” he replied truthfully. “It was given to me freely.”


Monday, September 11, 2006


Premature ejaculation drug

This is good news for some of you. Now there is a treatment for premature ejaculation with a drug, Dapoxetine.

You know what that means, don’t you? It means that you can now triple the amount of time you spend shaking the bed.

Those of you going to Hat Yai on a regular basis to book a girl for one hour of physical therapy and ended up using just ONE minute of it……….well…….you can now use THREE full minutes.

What do you do with the remaining 57 minutes? Bring a book to read. That's just a suggestion. I'm not getting a commission from the book industry.


Friday, September 08, 2006


The Cook and the Assassin - Chapter 22

Chapter 22: The River Standoff

Wen Yiji was puzzled. The information that Lord Tai had provided regarding Master Gojisan did not make sense. Why would anyone want to suspend an old kungfu master in midair? Why not just kill him straightaway?

Deciding that he would not get any answers by just standing there in Lord Tai’s bedroom, Wen Yiji turned his attention to the silver pieces in the box. There were about thirty taels there; not much by Lord Tai’s standards. He rolled the silver pieces in a piece of cloth and put them inside his clothes.

Having done so, he addressed Lord Tai’s dead body, “You don’t worry. I’ll donate them away to charity for you.”

He wished Lord Tai had told him why he was keeping Mrs Pak’s husband prisoner. But it was too late now. Lord Tai was already on his way to hell, accompanied by the bull-head horse-face spirits. A burning thought nagged at him. He should make an attempt to free Pak Puay Kee. After all, he had slept with the man’s wife. That would make them both sex-buddies-in-law. Or whatever.

Yiji came to a quick decision. He picked up one of Lord Tai’s daggers and blew out the room lights. Quietly, he left the room and made his way to the kitchen. There were only three people still working there and one man was barking out orders to two servant girls.

“That’s probably one of the cooks on duty,” noted Wen Yiji. Keeping to the shadows, Wen Yiji put out some of the lights in the corridor to give him a greater cover of darkness. Then he waited until the cook had left the kitchen. He followed the cook down the dimly lit corridor and then tapped him gently on the shoulder. As the cook turned around, Yiji pressed the cold blade of the dagger to his neck.

“You make a sound and I will slice off your head,” he warned.

The cook’s face went white with fear.

“There are some prisoners held in this mansion. Where are they?” continued Yiji.

The cook kept silent.

“If you don’t talk now, you will not have a chance to talk again. Ever!” Yiji threatened. He made a small movement of the blade against the skin and the blade drew blood.

“Please, I’ll talk,” said the cook nervously. “They are kept in the basement.”

“Lead me to them!” commanded Yiji. “If you attempt to attract attention, I will cut your balls off, you understand? You better pray that we do not meet anybody along the way. Now move!”

The cook led him to a room. In the corner of a room was a flight of stairs leading down to the basement. Yiji forced the cook to go down ahead of him. The basement was lighted by candles and there were no guards on duty.

“What? No guards?” asked Wen Yiji. He was itching for some fighting action.

“The guards were here, but I think Master Tai Lan Ngong called them away for some important operation,” the cook replied.

“Where are the prisoners?” Yiji asked.

“They are in those cells over there,” came the reply. “There are only three prisoners altogether.”

“Why are they here?”

“I do not know.”

“Of course you know! You better speak before you lose your balls!”

“I heard rumours that they are for the pleasure of Lord Tai’s guest”

“What sort of pleasure and for what sort of guest?”

“Sexual pleasure for Master Si Fatt Guai,” said the cook. “Er......they say that he likes men.”

It took a while for the information to sink into Wen Yiji’s brain.

Kanineh! Like that also got!” he muttered at last. “Where are the keys to the cell doors?”

The cook pointed to the keys hanging on the wall.

“You do realize that when Lord Tai’s men find out that you led me to the prisoners and showed me where the keys are, they will kill you, don’t you?” asked Wen Yiji.

The cook trembled in fear, “No, please don’t let them know, I beg you!”

Wen Yiji grinned beneath his mask and knocked the cook unconscious. The cook slumped down heavily to the floor. Yiji took the keys from the wall and unlocked the doors of all three occupied cells. Then he kicked the doors wide open.

He peered inside one of them. A young man was lying on the huge bed inside. The room resembled more like a love nest than a prison cell.

“Come out!” Wen Yiji called to the prisoners.

There was no response.

“If you don’t come out now, I’m going to come in with a thick wooden pole!” he threatened.

This time, all three prisoners rushed to the doors of their cells.

Wen Yiji scrutinized them. So, these were Si Fatt Guai’s bitches. They had been kept clean and tidy, all spruced up for whatever pleasure Si Fatt Guai wanted.

“Listen,” Yiji addressed them. “I am looking for a Master Gojisan. Do you know if he has been held prisoner here?”

The three prisoners remained silent. However, they noted their usual guards were not around and the body of the cook was lying on the floor. The man addressing them was wearing a mask. They could feel that something had happened but were unsure as to what had happened. They stared at the masked man and then at each other.

“Master Gojisan,” Yiji repeated. “He is an old man. Do you know if he was a prisoner here?”

“There are no old men kept here,” answered one of them. “Who are you, may I ask?”

“I am One Eye Snake, an assassin,” replied Wen Yiji. “Who are you? Where are you from?”

“I am Tong Sart Lo from Guangdong,” came the reply. “I was kidnapped and brought here for…..for…...”

“For the pleasure of Si Fatt Guai,” Yiji continued for him. “Do you wish me to lock you back inside or do you wish to go free?”

“Can I go free?” asked Tong Sart Lo.

“I suppose you can,” replied Wen Yiji. “I have just assassinated Lord Tai. Most of his guards are not in the mansion. If you wish to leave, you must get out of the city by tonight. Otherwise Si Fatt Guai will capture you back in the morning.”

“What about me?” asked a second prisoner. “My name is Saw Fook. I was working as a waiter in a courtesan house before I got kidnapped.”

“Saw Fook,” replied Wen Yiji. “You cannot go back to the courtesan house. You cannot even go back to anybody you know. Or Si Fatt Guai will kill them in the morning. You will have to leave the city tonight before Si Fatt Guai discovers that you are gone.”

“I’ll do that,” Saw Fook nodded. “I don’t have a family here.”

“What about you?” Yiji asked the third man. “Do you wish to leave or shall I lock you back in?”

“My name is Pak Puay Kee,” the man said. “I have an ancestral home and a wife here in this city. I want to go home.”

“You know that you cannot stay at your home if you escape, don’t you?” Wen Yiji told him. “The moment they found that you have escaped, they will go to your house the first thing in the morning. Then they will kill you and your wife and burn down your ancestral house.”

“Looks like I cannot go back to my home,” said Pak Puay Kee regretfully.

“All right then. I’ll lock you back in your cell and you can pretend that nothing had happened tonight,” offered Wen Yiji.

“No wait!” protested Pak Puay Kee. “Once these two guys are gone, I’ll be the only one left! Si Fatt Guai will train all his attention on me!”

“He’ll train all his juices on you,” said Wen Yiji crudely.

“Brother Pak, with us two gone, you’ll have to work three times as hard,” remarked Saw Fook. “Great will be your responsibility.”

“Your hole will get three times as big,” said Tong Sart Lo. “Great will be your cavity.”

“But you’ll shit three times as fast,” said Wen Yiji. “Great will be your efficiency.”

Pak Puay Kee panicked and said fearfully, “Great is my worry. I have to escape!”

“What about your ancestral home?” asked Yiji. “They’ll burn it down.”

“Let them!” replied Pak Puay Kee.

“What about your wife?” asked Yiji.

“I’ll go back home and fetch her,” said Pak Puay Kee. “We’ll pack our stuff and leave the city tonight.”

“Pack your stuff? You don’t have time to pack! You have at most a few hours’ lead. I think most of you will probably be caught before tomorrow evening,” said Wen Yiji disparagingly.

“Can you help us get away?” asked Tong Sart Lo hopefully. “My father will give you a good reward if you can deliver me safely to my family home in Guangdong.”

“I cannot help you there,” replied Yiji. “But I can get you out of these mansion walls. Once out there, you are on your own. The moon is dark tonight, so don’t lose your way.”

“I know a little known route out of the city,” volunteered Pak Puay Kee. “By using the back roads, we can avoid all the known checkpoints. No one will know where we have gone.”

“Good,” said Wen Yiji. “You will have to lead your two fellow prisoners to safety.”

“We’ll need horses,” said Pak Puay Kee. “Once in the countryside, our speed will be much faster with horses.”

“Oh, don’t worry. I’m sure I can get you horses from Lord Tai’s stables,” said Wen Yiji. He then took out the silver pieces that he had taken from Lord Tai’s room. He divided up the silver and handed them each some silver pieces.

“I’m supposed to give these to charity,” he said. “You three looked like charitable cases to me.”

They knelt down on their knees to thank him. Then they waited while he went out and took care of the sentries. One by one, he knocked out any sentry that was still awake. After that, he went to the stables, knocked unconscious all the stable boys and selected four horses. He led the horses to the front gate of the mansion and tied them there. Then he went back to the basement and led the three prisoners to the front gate.

“The extra horse is for your wife,” he told Pak Puay Kee. “Tell her not to spend time packing stuff. There is no time!”

“My wife is not the type of person to hurry much,” remarked Pak Puay Kee.

“Then tell her that the assassin wants her to know that there is a time and place for everything. But tonight, she has to leave immediately!” said Wen Yiji.

The three prisoners thanked him one last time, and Wen Yiji opened the gates to let them out to freedom. He then locked back the gates of the Tai mansion. As a precautionary measure, he went back to the stables and knocked the remaining horses unconscious. “That should give them a headache for a day or two,” he muttered. “Tai Lan Ngong won’t be able to use them to chase anybody.”

Next, he went to the basement and carried the unconscious cook to the kitchen and left him there. “They will not know that it was you who led me to the prisoners!” he chuckled. “Not unless you are stupid enough to tell them!”

There was only one last thing to do. He went back to Lord Tai’s bedroom and lit a candle. Then he stared at the two stone buddhas on the floor. He turned the small stone buddha to face the larger buddha. Then he turned the larger buddha to face the smaller one. When both buddhas faced each other, the tiger painting swung away from the wall to reveal a secret compartment behind.

Wen Yiji stared at the contents in the secret compartment set in the wall. “I see that the old fart has lots of money. Good! I bet even his sons do not know of this secret cache! It is a good thing that I came prepared with a large sack.”

He took out a sack and proceeded to fill it with gold and silver pieces. When the sack was full, he tied it up with a string. The sack was heavy, but to a kungfu exponent with the Dark Fire Iron Palm, it was nothing challenging. He kept Lord Tai’s daggers inside the secret compartment. Then, carefully, he closed back the secret compartment with the tiger painting and moved the stone buddhas to their previous positions.

His sword was still inside the dead body of Lord Tai and he decided to leave it there. It was a cheap sword bought at the market and would be untraceable to him.

“Thank you, Lord Tai, for giving me your whole hoard,” he murmured. “You can keep my cheap sword.”

Taking the sack of valuables, he leapt to the roof and collected his bow and arrows. Then he fled into the night.

+ + + + + +

Mrs Pak was sleeping when she was woken up by a sound of someone calling her name. She went to the door and was overwhelmed with joy to see her husband. She was glad to see that he was well and not hurt in any way.

“Husband,” she said. “Were you freed or did you escaped?”

“An assassin came for Lord Tai,” replied Pak Puay Kee. “Then he came to the cells to look for a Master Gojisan. We asked him to help us escape.”

Mrs Pak was ecstatic. So, One Eye Snake must have killed Lord Tai. However, they were not safe yet.

“Lord Tai’s men may come to look for you here in the morning,” she said with concern.

“I know!” he replied. “We have to leave now, or it will be too late.”

“Leave now?” she asked. She owed the One Eye Snake Assassin one more wild night of mindblowing sex. She did not know if it would be proper to leave without paying her final debt.

Seeing her hesitation, Pak Puay Kee said, “The assassin said that he want you to know that there is a time and place for everything. But tonight, you have to leave immediately!”

“He said that?” she asked.

“Yes,” he replied.

Mrs Pak understood. The message was for her. The assassin meant that it was not the time and place for him to claim his third night with her. He wanted her to leave the city immediately. His concern for her safety meant that he would have to forego the third night. She felt grateful for his concern and hastily packed her stuff, taking only the minimal amount. Then, after locking up the door of their ancestral home, the Pak couple left in the quiet of the night, followed by Tong Sart Lo and Saw Fook.

High up among the rooftops, Wen Yiji saw the four figures leading the four horses slowly out into the night. He smiled in satisfaction.

“Goodbye Mrs Pak,” he murmured.

+ + + + + +

Early in the morning, just before dawn, Xiang Xiang and Wen Yiji made their way down to the river. She noticed that he was carrying a huge heavy sack and asked him what it was.

“That’s just some of my things,” he replied. “Come, let’s go look for our boatman.”

At the river, they stopped to see the sunrise.

The boatman arrived and led them to his boat. It was a flat-bottomed sampan and was big by normal standards. A large family could fit inside the on-board shelter without problems.

Yiji saw that there was another man nearby who was untying the rope that tethered the sampan to a tree on the river shore.

“Who is that?” he asked.

“Oh, that’s my brother,” replied the boatman. “He helps me to man the boat.”

Carefully, Yiji placed his sack of valuables on the deck inside the on-board shelter. The sack was heavier than a grown man. The boatman came to push the sack out of the way. He noted that he sack was heavy and felt the familiar shapes of gold pieces through the sack cloth. His eyes widened imperceptibly for a short moment. However, he said nothing.

Working the yuloh skillfully, the boatman rowed the boat out to midstream and then they floated gently downstream with the water.

Soon, the boat moved past the city limits.

+ + + + + +

At the cordoned off wooded area, Tai Lan Ngong was discussing tactics with Si Fatt Guai and the captain of Prefect Chou’s soldiers. The early morning sun threw a pale sunlight over the trees and the men were getting ready for some action.

“The morning sun is in the east. So we will send in dogs and soldiers into the stand of trees from the east and drive him towards the west,” said the captain. “In this light, we should be able to spot him.”

“I shall go to the western fringe of the trees and wait for him,” said Si Fatt Guai. He had been up all night and the lack of sleep was telling on his face.

“I shall stay here and watch the action,” said Tai Lan Ngong. He had snored noisily all night in the carriage. The other two looked at him with ill-disguised disrespect.

The captain took some dogs and men and combed through the wooded area slowly from east to west, but failed to uncover the assassin. They tried again a second time, but the result was the same; no assassin.

Before they could sweep the wooded area for a third time, a servant from the Tai household arrived in a distressed state and informed Tai Lan Ngong that his father was dead. The body had been discovered in the morning and he had died a long time.

Tai Lan Ngong was terribly shocked at the news, and then he wailed loudly. Si Fatt Guai tried to calm him down.

“The assassin killed your father while we were all occupied here! We were tricked!” said Si Fatt Guai angrily. “However, with your father dead, you are now the head of the family. You need to be brave and remain calm. A grown man should never ever weep!.”

The servant then spoke again, “Master Tai. Some of our horses were missing and the rest were all unconscious or injured. Not only that, I was told that the three young male prisoners whom we kept in the basement had also escaped in the night.”

A weird rasping sound came from his side and the servant turned his head. Si Fatt Guai was weeping.

+ + + + + +

At midmorning, the Xiang Xiang was feeling bored. Her brother was spending his time fiddling with his bow and arrows at the back of the boat while enjoying the morning sun. She was sitting inside the on-board shelter, relaxing. The scenery was not much to look at. Still, she was glad that it was not raining. The Fujian Province had a mild winter; more rainy than cold as compared to the Imperial City in the north.

Wen Yiji was pleased with his powerful bow. It had performed well the night before. Using a large river stone that he had picked up, he had passed the time by using it to polish away the many scratch marks on the bow. He knew that the stone was not the ideal tool for the job but he could not care less. The boatman was handling the yuloh near him and Yiji did not pay him much attention. An uncharacteristic sound put him on alert. He paused.

The next moment, a broadsword swung swiftly towards him. In reflex, Yiji deflected the blade with the stone he was carrying. The stone shattered on the impact. But it had done its job. The broadsword was swiftly retracted and then it came in swinging again. But Yiji was not wasting time hanging around. He leapt upwards onto the top of the shelter.

However, the boat’s movement caused Yiji to land awkwardly. He almost fell off the shelter into the cold waters below, but managed to grab the side of the shelter to swing himself back up again. The boat rocked, and Yiji landed on the opposite side of the curved flimsy rattan shelter and again almost lost his footing.

“Damn!” he cursed while trying hard not to fall. He wished the boat would remain stationary. It was too small to do the maneuvers he usually did in on solid ground. Any error in motion could result in him falling into the water. It was best not to leap around too much.

The boatman, who had swung the broadsword, was surprised to see Wen Yiji moved so fast and standing on the roof of the chest-high shelter. He swung his broadsword again with a swift powerful chopping motion to slice off his quarry’s lower body. However, Wen Yiji was not going to hang around waiting to be chopped into pieces. He barely avoided the stroke and leapt down to the front of the boat. This time he landed better. He was still carrying his bow and wearing his quiver of arrows. Even before he had landed, he had fitted an arrow to his bow and trained the weapon on his attacker who was still at the back of the boat. He could see the boatman’s chest and head above the top of the on-board shelter. He aimed at the head and fired the arrow quickly. At such a short distance, it would be impossible to miss. The arrow sped over the top of the rattan shelter towards the attacker’s head.


The boatman jerked his head sideways and the arrow sped past him.

“Shit! He moves fast!” muttered Wen Yiji as he reached for his quiver to take out another arrow. He did not have the time to do so as his attacker had jumped onto the shelter and was bearing down swiftly on him with the broadsword.

Using the inner energy of his Dark Fire Iron Palm, Wen Yiji threw a palm blast. The force of the blast blew the boatman backwards to the back of the boat. The boatman would have fallen overboard but he managed to cling to the yuloh for support.

Yiji fitted a second arrow to his bow to finish him off.

“You may as well stop wasting your effort,” said the boatman, a bit out of breath, but apparently unhurt by the blast. “I can avoid an arrow shot from a distance of eight steps.”

Wen Yiji paused. He estimated the boat to be of a length of fifteen steps. The on-board shelter took the middle one third of the boat. He would have to move nearer.

“Thanks for telling me,” he said. “I’ll just move nearer to shoot.”

He took a step towards the center of the boat.

A voice from the shelter stopped him, “If you take one more step, your sister dies!”

Yiji paused. He looked inside the shelter and saw the boatman’s brother crouching near Xiang Xiang and holding a sword to her throat. With his sister being held hostage, Wen Yiji knew that his options were limited. He had no doubt that his opponents were swift and surefooted on deck. They outnumber him two to one. He, on the other hand, was certain that he had greater power. What bothered him was the incredible speed of his attacker and the fact that his sister was their hostage.

“You are not my match,” said Wen Yiji. “This is a complicated standoff.”

“No, it’s not,” replied the boatman from the back of the sampan. “You are clumsy on board this boat. And we have your sister.”

“You caught me by surprise,” remarked Yiji. “Yet you did not manage to kill me. On the other hand, I think I may have injured you with my palm blast.”

“I am alright,” said the boatman, walking about nonchalantly at the back of the boat. “I am tougher than you think.”

“From the way you move, I can tell that you are not an ordinary fighter. You have the movements of a skillful kungfu master. Why did you try to kill me?” asked Yiji.

“Because we wanted that big sack of treasure that you possess. Even without opening the sack, our experience tells us that it is either full of gold or silver. That sack itself is worth a fortune and is therefore worth killing for.”

“So this is a robbery! You are martial artists posing as boatmen in order to rob the unfortunate. You bring great shame to your martial arts, you immoral bastards!”

“It is only a shame if it becomes a habit. But we do not rob everyday. Only occasionally. We wait until someone prosperous enough boards our boat. Then only do we rob and kill. Killing just once in a while is not considered immoral. ”

Wa lau eh! I must say that your concept of morality defies all decent logic. But today, you picked the wrong person to be your victim. I have more power than you can imagine!”

“It’s true that we did not expect you to have such great power. But nothing has changed. On this boat, you are as clumsy as a pregnant cow. We are faster and more surefooted than you in a battle on board. And besides, we still have your sister. We call the shots here. So, listen, I want you to jump off this boat.”

“Why should I?

“If you don’t jump off the boat, we will kill your sister.”

“If I jump into the river, I will drown,” retorted Yiji. “And after that you will still kill my sister.”

“You don’t know that. We may let your sister live. But if you don’t jump, we will definitely kill her.”

“Do you think that I am stupid? You need my sister alive as a human shield. The moment my sister is dead, I will move closer to you and kill you both. No matter how fast you are, there are only so many places you can run on this boat. Even if you are fast enough to avoid me on deck, with my great power I can destroy this boat. Then all of us will be in the water. The sack of valuables will sink to the bottom of the river and you will also end up with nothing.”

There was a moment of silence.

Then the boatman spoke, “Looks like we are in a complicated standoff.”

Yiji stared coldly at him over the top of the rattan shelter between them and growled, “That was what I just said.”

In the morning sunlight, Yiji and the boatman stared at each other, with each wondering how to break the impasse to gain the upper hand.


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