Thursday, September 13, 2012

Chapter 1: The Girl in White (9)

“Now known as the premier martial artist of the age, Xuan Ji’s fame soon attracted the attention of another remarkable person, a Buddhist nun known by the dharma name San Yin. While Buddhism teaches the doctrine of no self, no others; no envy, and no greed, San Yin was unable liberate herself from the binds of the latter two. During the third year after Xuan Ji’s victory on Lesser Chamber Mountain, San Yin set out from the distant Altai mountains in search of Kuocang Mountain in western Zhejiang, where she had arranged to test her skills against Xuan Ji. There, at Storm Cloud Cave, the two masters engaged in a fierce duel that shook the heavens and rocked the earth. They were so evenly matched that even after three days and nights, and over five thousand exchanges of blows, there was still no clear victor. On the fourth day, the mode of combat changed. Each brought their most advanced internal arts into play, battling with subtle energy instead of physical force. In the end they both were severely injured, and the battle closed with the two opponents facing each other seated, eyes closed, as they slowed their breath and harmonized their internal energies to sustain their horribly wounded bodies.

“They realized their injuries were grave, that they were not long for this world. Neither had left disciples, and their common desire to preserve their teachings overcame their rivalry, and forced them to cooperate to realize their final wishes. Kept alive only by their mastery of internal energy, they set about writing out the entirety of their teachings in three volumes entitled the Monadic Codex. These writings proclaim the unity of all martial arts, and teach the fundamental principles of gong fu which lie at the root of the teachings of every school. They hid the codex in a cave on Kuocang Mountain, while the precise location of the cave was recorded in a painting called the Map of Concealed Truth, which has hidden elsewhere on the mountain.

“The tale of Xuan Ji and San Yin has been passed down for three hundred years, and during that time, the various schools and sects have spared no effort in their attempts to find the Monadic Codex. From the hidden masters who take refuge deep in the wilderness, to the petty outlaws of the greenwood; none on the Rivers and Lakes are immune to the call of the codex. Rumors tell of a common bandit who discovered the Map of Concealed truth a century ago, but misfortune soon befell him. The map has since passed from one pair of covetous hands to the next, each possessor invariably dispatched with violence by the next claimant to the mysteries of the codex. Such is the power this map holds over the dwellers on the Rivers and Lakes. Who knows at what point the map came to Cai Bangxiong, but there is no doubt that soon afterwards, the Twin Fiends of Jiangnan were on his trail, pursuing him all the way here to the temple.”

His explanation at an end, Yi Yang Zi exhaled slowly and a pained expression settled over his face.

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