Part 1: The White Jade Tiger 白玉老虎 (英文板)

 In my free time I enjoy reading and translating Chinese classical novels. Here's the first scene from one of them. If you are interested in something like this, please leave a message. Thanks and God bless. 




This story is called The White Jade Tiger, written by Gu long. Published in 1976


Chapter One


It's an enchanting spring day, an exceptionally important day for someone in particular.
Willy Zhao, lays on the warm bed attempting to regain strength after the long ride. His steed, powerful and quick, had taken him over 200 miles in a relatively short time. Still, afterwards he found the need to rest his head on the soft and fragrant sheets.

The bed belonged to a woman, Shanna, who is even softer and more fragrant than the luxurious mattress. Every time she knew she would meet with Willy, she attempted to make herself even more desirable.

The rays of the sun shine through the window,  the breeze carries in the aroma of the abundant flowers surrounding the house. As Willy looks out at the sky he lets out a deep sigh,

"It's a beautiful day isn't it?"

"Indeed it is a pleasant day." Shanna responds without smiling. "A good day to kill people."

"You plan on killing people today?" Willy asks, scratching his head in confusion.

"Only one person." Shanna responds.

"Who?"

"I'll kill you!" Shanna admits. Willy, unconcerned, smiles and then laughs warmly at Shanna. "I really did want to kill you initially, but I know how difficult it must have been for you to come see me."

"You already know?" Willy asks.

"Of course I know." She responds, unable to hide the sadness in her voice. "Today is the day that Willy Zhao is to be married." The sun illuminates the streams of tears on her impeccable skin. "I know the only reason you've come here is to cut our ties and even if we ever meet again, I'll be treated as someone common."

Willy is unable to deny her words or hide his remorse,
"I've come to give you something." He extends his hand, holding a strand of pearls, shinning as brightly as Shanna's tears. "I didn't forget my promise."

As Shanna takes the pearls, she slightly caresses it with her finger. "I knew you would bring these for me. You've always been a man of your word." Her tears have ceased, but her hand continues to tremble. She leaps up, hurriedly, tossing the pearls at Willy's face, "You son of a bitch. Just like you, these pearls are rare but they're shit!"

The pearls didn't strike Willy's face. The trajectory sent them out the window. Willy again smiles warmly, "There are advantages to being a son of a bitch."

"What advantage?!"

"It's better than being a scumbag or an asshole." He says, attempting to make her laugh. There was never any commitment among them, but even so, in separation there is always some form of agony. His hope was to leave a smile on her face before leaving, but there was no time for Shanna to smile. Then, the pearls she sent flying out the window had just as abruptly flown back inside, following a loud THUMP!

A three foot arrow crushed deep into the pillar. The pearls rattling back and forth from the impact. The silver feathers on the arrow continued to vibrate when another smaller arrow smashed into the back of the previous arrow.

Shanna stands, looking in unbelief. Whoever fired the arrow was accurate beyond understanding. Willy smiles bitterly for the first time, "Looks like it's time to pay my debt."

"What are they here for?" Shanna asks in fright.

"If I'm to be married today, it's the best day to repay what I owe." Willy explains.


Chapter Two

Outside of the small cottage, the green, blue and red flowers of various sizes and shapes decorate the front yard. The spectacle of colors is disturbed by two individuals standing, wearing all black: an elderly woman and a brick-shaped young man. The elderly woman is hunched over from age, but the fire in her eyes has yet to fade. The two of them carry two bows, one long and one short.

As Shanna peers out at them from the window, she can't help but ask,
"Who are these guys?"

"It's the Black Witch and her son." Willy explains.

"Who's the Black Witch?"

"She's someone who can fire an arrow right through the eye of a fly."

Scratching her head Shanna ponders out loud, "That hunchback is that good?"

Willy continues, "Her son is not as accurate as she is, but he's incredibly powerful. If he's in the mood, he can shoot an arrow through two people." Willy pauses as he sighs, "The Golden Bow and Silver Arrow. It's unfortunate for anyone who sees them."

"And you owe these people?" Shanna asks worriedly.

"I've always been unfortunate." Willy responds.

"What do you owe them?"

"Two people."

Shanna shakes her head in confusion, "How can you owe people...people?"

Willy takes a breath, "One night, near the Ming River I was having a few drinks when I saw a young lady fleeing for her life. Her son was following closely behind. I noticed the young lady had already been struck by an arrow as she pleaded for help." Willy takes another breath, still peering out the window, "Seeing them being chased by a burly man, instinctively I draw my sword and helped them escape."

"Then?" Shanna inquires.

"Later I found out that the young lady wasn't a lady at all. She was a man, in the martial arts underground known as the Hive. An expert thief that prefers to disguise himself as a lady."

"So it turns out the two of them were thieves." Shanna responds.

"Lucky for me, the Black Witch didn't assume I was one of them." Willy says, almost bitterly.

"But of course they can't let you off the hook completely." Shanna adds.

"They gave me a deadline of three months to find the thieves and bring them back."

"Is today the deadline?"

"Almost." Willy states dryly.

"Did you capture the thieves? Shanna asks.

"Not yet." Willy admits.

Frustrated, she responds,  shaking her head,
"You're like a little boy who enjoys going around putting bugs in his hair."

"If there were only a few bugs in my hair it wouldn't be so bad?" Willy adds.

"You have other things in your hair as well?" Says Shanna.

"I also have a few scorpions and poisonous snakes in my hair as well." He explains.

Shanna couldn't even respond. While glancing out the window, the sudden appearance of snakes frightened her speechless.

Just then a man arrived with a basket. Snake heads protruding from all sides. The man carrying the snakes had a disturbing appearance: only half of a nose and ears that had been bitten so many times that they could no longer be called ears. On his person, he also carried eery-looking red and green bags. Making him look all the more menacing. He appears completely unconcerned as many of the snakes climb along his shoulders and neck. The sight made Shanna want to vomit.

"You also owe this man?" She asks.

"Yup." Willy responds, swallowing. "I owe him five snakes. Five of the most poisonous snakes there are."

Shanna contemplates almost to herself out loud, "You helped two thieves escape and then you mistakenly killed this man's snakes. Why would you have to pay him back for that?"

"Because it turns out he's a Poison Buddha." Willy states. "Even though his body is filled with poison, he has a heart like Buddha."

"A Buddha that raises snakes?" Shanna asks

"Some people raise snakes to harm others, but he raises snakes to save lives." Willy explains. Looking over at Shanna, he could see she was still unclear of his meaning. "Only by extracting the poison from certain venomous snakes can the antidote be created."

"And so...you owe him five snakes?" Shanna asks.

"They are snakes of a particular breed. The Poison Buddha had been searching for them in the swamps for three years before he collected all five. The combination of the five venoms could create a concoction that would be an antidote for hundreds of poisons."

"I've heard that snakes don't release venom until they bite someone." Shanna adds. "Is that why he lets the snakes continually bite him?"

"That's his method." Willy agrees. "The first time I saw him, he was being bitten by five snakes."

"And then?"

"What else could I do. Without thinking, I drew my blade and cut the five snakes into ribbons."

"You must be pretty handy with the sword." Shanna comments.

"Yes, but once again I was mistaken." Willy responds, a bit annoyed with himself.


The Poison Buddha, Black Witch and her son stand waiting in the garden. The silence is deafening, when a distant banging sound thunders through out the air.

"Is that the sound of a drum?" Shanna asks.

"It would seem so." Willy agrees.

"Why would someone be using a drum this early in the morning. He must be some kind of fool." Shanna remarks.

"He doesn't use the drum like normal people would use it. He uses it to split souls." Willy explains.

"Split souls?" Shanna asks, still unclear.

"Every time he drums three times, someone's soul is taken away." Willy adds.

The drumming repeated itself as it echoed throughout the entire area.

"How many times is that?" Shanna asks, feeling a bit nervous.

"Two times."

"Don't tell me you owe him a debt as well? Shanna asks.

"I owe him a great debt. I owe him a blade." Willy explains.

"How many more people do you owe?" She asks.

"As far as big debts...just these three." He says.

"All of these monsters just happened to know you would be here?" She asks.

"They didn't know until I invited them. It's a good day to pay what I owe." Willy says peering out the window.


Chapter Three


The soul drum rings out loudly once again. The man beating the drum is called Sean Liu. As the noise rang through out the air, he can be seen emerging from the bushes in a distance. He dawns a jade green jacket and pale white shirt. The shirt is just as pale as his expressionless face.

He uses a white cane made of bamboo, continually tapping ahead of his pathway. How could this possibly be a man that takes souls? It's not strange that someone who generally avoids the sun would be pale. What is strange is the whiteness of his eyes. No color in his pupils. It would appear that this seeker of souls is a blind man.

He travels on a small path that winds through the garden-like scenery. The Black Witch and her son stand at the side, unmoved. Of course the blind man is unable to see them waiting. Yet, he turns as he approaches,

"Black Witch. I hope you are well."

“Unfortunately, this poor widow is so upset she could die." The Black Witch responds.

"It's been about 13 years am I right?" Sean Liu asks. "Time really does fly."

"There are only a few hours in the day, a few hours in the night. How could time go slowly?" The Black Witch snickers. Sean nods his head in agreement, no expression on his face.

"Some days seem longer than others." Sean says to himself, still tapping his cane as he moves forward carefully. As he reaches the Poison Buddha he takes another pause. They both remain silent, but two snakes just happen to escape the basket as he approaches. They slither in Sean's direction and "Pop Pop." Two sounds ring out as his cane strikes the snakes lightly, but directly leaving them motionless like dirty ropes.

"It seems I may have accidentally killed your snakes." Sean says to the Poison Buddha. "Should I pay for them?"

"Can you pay?" Poison Buddha responds, irritatedly.

“Those were just common rock vine snakes. If you want I can catch seventy of them in no time." Sean responds.

The Poison Buddha is startled by Sean's cunning accuracy and awareness. "No need. I can get more on my own." He admits.

"Well that's good. Yet, I still have a word I would like to speak with you." Sean adds.

"Go ahead." Poison Buddha responds.

"You use your body as a way of extracting the poison of the snakes." Sean remarks. "But even after you remove the poison from your system, there is a bit of poison that still remains." The Buddha looks at him, not agreeing or objecting to his statement. 
"Currently your body holds 103 different types of poisons."

"You can see that?" The Poison Buddha responds almost in fright.

"I'm blind, I can't see anything." Sean responds chuckling. "But I'm well aware that if you took on another 5 different poisons, the Poison Buddha would be nothing but a corpse." Willy walks down the stairs appearing outside in the radiant sunlight. Continually wondering to himself, could this man really be blind?

No one could no for sure except for Sean himself. The sound of the blind man's cane made a very unique sound as it tapped against the small path. It couldn't be bamboo, wood, or metal. What in the world could it be made of? Willy continued to wonder. While Willy raised his head, he saw that Sean the blind man was already standing before him. 

As Sean appeared before Willy, he could be certain he was blind as he stared into his dead pupils. Eyes like those could never be faked or pretended.

"You are looking at my pupils?" Sean responded, frightening Willy. Even though he was unable to see, it was as if he had some sort of mysterious ability to sense every movement of the environment. "Why don't you have a closer look?" Taking his finger, Sean reaches and pulls out his eye, holding it in his hand. Willy is unable to tell if the eye is made of glass or some other substance, continually rolling around in his hand as if it were alive. Even knowing the eye was fake, it gave him shivers. 

Sean, "Is that a good enough look for you?" 

Willy is finally able to take a breath, "Yes that's enough."

"You had better take a careful look because this was my price for making a mistake." Sean adds, suddenly expressing a hint of sadness on his face. "Twelve years ago a made a mistake with the wrong person...and even though he carved out my eyes I can't complain. We all must pay for our mistakes."

"I agree. "Willy admits.

"Do you believe your friend deserves to be punished for his mistake?" Sean inquires.

"I do." Willy agrees.

"And he would receive punishment from my blade without any excuses?" Sean asks.

"He would." Willy nods. 

"But you'd rather take his place?" Sean raises his eyebrow.

"Absolutely" Willy agrees. 

"Why?" 

"Because he's my friend." Willy says shortly "He's also already injured and probably won't survive the blow."

"So you understand that my blade is quite heavy." Sean inquires.

"No matter how heavy, I'm willing to accept it." Willy says adamantly.

Sean smirks slightly, "No regrets then."

"I've never regretted anything in my life." Willy adds boldly. After his remark, the blind man inserts his dead eye back into his pitch black socket. "Anytime you are ready." Willy finishes.

"Very well." Sean responds flipping his cane over quickly from under his armpit, removing a snow colored blade from within. Willy, sticks out his chest, accepting the inevitable. 

"Wait!" The Poison Buddha intervenes. 

"Wait for what?" Sean replies confused. 

"He still has other debts to repay. Let him settle with the others before taking his life." Poison Buddha explains. 

"Sooner or later I have to pay my debts" Willy intervenes. "It doesn't really matter who goes first."

"Then you must not be the same Willy that I know." Poison Buddha adds.

"Which Willy are you looking for?" Willy asks, tilting his head. 

"The Willy I am looking for is of the Clan of the Great Wind." Poison Buddha states smuggly. In the martial underworld, everyone was very familiar with the Clan of the Great Wind. They were no ordinary clan, their power, secretiveness and mystery spread throughout every place in the land. Their motto could be summed up in four words: strong protect the weak. The clan was both admired and feared. 

The Poison Buddha continues, "Even though the Clan's official leader is Grand Master Cloud, in actuality masters Jay Zhao, Scarlet Sky and Shang Steel run the organization.

Willy sighs, "It' a bit disappointing that you can know this much." 

"If you are Willy Zhao from the Clan of Great Wind, you shouldn't even be here." Poison exclaims. 

"Where should I be?" Willy asks.

"You should be in the House of Zhao, waiting for guests to congratulate you on your marriage." Poison Buddha explains. Still staring at Willy in wonder, "Even Scarlet Sky and Shang Steel will be there. If you don't show up, there will be hell to pay."

"I have a debt that I need to clear." Willy expresses. "This has nothing to do with the Clan of Great Wind nor my father, Jay Zhao."

"If you are really Willy Zhao of the Clan of Great Wind, this should be a joyful day for you." Poison Buddha suggests.

"It should be." Willy agrees.

"A joyful day should not be a day of repaying debts." Poison Buddha adds.

"But after today, I'm no longer the same person." Willy explains. "I'm going to have a wife, a family...I can't be wild like I was in the past." He continues, light flickering in his eyes, "My wife is my soulmate. We have to have a mutual respect for each other. I can't drag her into my old mess. I need to be someone she can depend on."

“So you are determined to settle all debts before your marriage." Poison Buddha replies.

"Yes." Willy answers.

"I bet she is a warm and beautiful women." The Black Witch adds. "She's quite lucky."

"I'm the lucky one." Willy says. 

"So what should I take?" The Black Witch asks." Do you want to lose an arm or a leg?" Her eyes glisten more brightly than Sean's blade. 

Willy without hesitating, "Which one do you prefer?"

The Black Witch stares at the Poison Buddha, "What do you think is best?"

"Of all of the snakes I have collected, there are nine that are the most deadly." Poison Buddha explains.

"I don't understand any of your snake business. I don't even want to think about it." The Black Witch expresses hurriedly. 

"There are only three people in the world who could collect them. None of which is Willy." Poison Buddha adds.

"So you there is no way he can repay your debt?" The Black Witch asks raising her eyebrow.

"I didn't come here to collect at debt, but to repay him." Poison Buddha explains. "Just as Sean said, if I had more poison in my system, it would have killed me. 

"So in reality, Willy saved you." The Black Witch adds.

"If he didn't intervene, I'd be a corpse." Poison Buddha adds. 

"So whether it was deliberate or not, he saved your life." The Black Witch says as her eyebrows frown in contemplation. 

"That's right." Poison Buddha agrees. 

"So you are willing to pay for his debts?" Black Witch inquires. "Does that mean you will find the thieves who stole from us?"

"Not only will I find the thieves, I will also pay interest." Poison Buddha says. 

"What interest?" The Black Witch asks.

"I can give you everyone involved with the Hive." Poison Buddha says confidently. "My toxins can both heal or destroy. Eliminating a small clan is not an issue for me."

"If you could eliminate the clan from existence it would be best." The Black Witch agrees. 

"Then as far as you are concerned, your debt is repaid." Poison Buddha concludes. Willy watches in silence as the others agree on their transaction. "Have I repaid my debt to you?" Poison Buddha asks Willy.

"You never owed me anything." Willy responds almost dryly. 

"Then make me a promise." Poison Buddha suggests. 

"What promise?" Willy asks. 

"Today is a very big day for you. Be sure to have a drink in my honor." Poison Buddha says.

"Not just one drink." Willy smirks. "I will have many drinks in your honor."

"No drinks for you." Sean interrupts abruptly.

"Why's that?" Willy asks confused.

"Because you are injured." Sean replies.

"Where am I injured?" Willy inquires.

The snow colored blade still in Sean's hand, "Where ever my blade decides." As the sharp blade glistens, the colors show more expression than Sean's face. Anyone can see that he is not a man easily moved by sentiment. Whatever debt is owed to the blindman, it must be collected. 

Willy's hands are filled with sweat as the soul drum beats once more. Even if he was scared, he would never try to escape. He's already accepted his fate. 

"Where do you want your cut?" Sean asks.

"Do I have a choice?" Willy responds.

"Not really." Sean responds as his blade flashes swiftly. The body hits the floor dead, motionless, as blood pours from the throat. The blood is bright, obviously a severed artery. But it wasn't Willy's body on the ground, it was the Poison Buddha. Both Willy and the Black Witch stare in astonishment, never expecting the blow to be delivered so swiftly...the Poison Buddha didn't even have a chance to react. 

"Seems your blade struck the wrong person." Willy says, looking confused. 

"I've only made a mistake once in my life." Sean replies coldly. 

"But I'm the one who owes you, not the Poison Buddha." Willy responds scratching his head. 

"You shouldn't die today. But he deserves death." Sean responds. "Does he have a medicine bag?" Sean asks as the snakes lick the Poison Buddha's fresh blood.

"Yes." Willy responds. "It's filled with snakes."

"How many?" Sean asks. 

"Aside from the ones you killed, there's still seven." Willy confirms. 

"The seven snakes have fled from the medicine bag, but there's still something that remains." Sean explains. As Willy looks at the bag, there is still something protruding from beneath. "Why don't you take a look." Sean adds. 

"I'll look." The Black Witch says adamantly. The Black Witch uses her bow to lift the bag carefully. A few small pills fall from the bag as the snakes scatter. As she grabs one of the pills and throws it in the air, her son's arrow shatters it completely. The air is filled with the smell of sulfur. 

"You recognize that smell." Sean asks. 

"This is Thunder." Willy responds as the Black Witch Ponders. The Black Witch, 61, had become a part of the martial underworld since she was 16. Thunder wasn't the same thunder as you hear in a storm, it was a rare hidden weapon. At least half of the victims of the Thunder Clan fell prey to this weapon. The leader of the Thunder Clan, Ray Heaven, was ranked number two of all the masters of assassination weaponry. The Thunder Clan is irrefutably the greatest rival of the Clan of the Great Wind. 

The only reason the two clans exist at the same time because one has always been unable to defeat the other. The Black Witch gives a small look to her son, "This is thunder isn't it?"

"Absolutely." Willy interjects. 

Sean, unable to see, but knowing exactly where the shattered pill fell, leans down to pick it up. He places it in his fingers and flicks it with more force than could be done with a bow. The pill flies ten meters out of the garden, landing with a deafening explosion as it hits the ground. The Black Witch is astonished as the smell of sulfur and something unfamiliar  fills the air. 

"What's that smell?" Willy asks.

"Take a look for yourself." Sean replies. As Willy examines the remains of the explosion, he sees the leaves falling from the trees all around. 

"Century Poison" Willy exclaims. 

"That one pill contains enough poison to kill everyone here." Sean explains. Even though the Thunder exploded at a great distance away, they all begin to feel dizzy and nauseous. "Is it strange that a man named Poison Buddha intended on poisoning people? This was his present for your wedding day."

All of the elite of the Clan of Great Wind were sure to be in attendance at Willy's wedding. Just a few pills placed into a lantern would surely be enough to wipe out the entire clan. Just the thought put Willy into a cold sweat. 

"You didn't know the Poison Buddha recently joined the Thunder Clan?" Sean asks as Willy shakes his head in disbelief. "They were going to use your naivety to poison your entire clan on your special day. They would have only lost the Poison Buddha while they would continue to thrive."

"There are thousands in our clan, so they would use such low tactics to prevent a war." Willy says to himself. "But the result would still be the same."

"What do you mean?" Sean asks.

"There will be war no matter what." Willy responds. Everyone in the Clan of the Great Wind would be ready to spill their blood in protection of their organization. Willy would be eager to battle for his clan's survival. Even if they risked the death of every member, it would be worth it. 

Sean chuckles to himself quietly. Willy is happy to see Sean smile for the first time, but is puzzled by his laughter. 

"I'm laughing because your are wrong." Sean explains. "They attempted to use Poison Buddha as a scapegoat to instigate your battle. But he's already dead. It's as if nothing ever happened. 

"But..." Willy attempts to interject. 

"The Clan of Great Wind has been around for 30 years, and perhaps they will be around for another 30 years. Why cause your own destruction for a plot that didn't succeed." Sean finishes. 

"Then how should I respond?" Willy asks. 

"You should go enjoy being with your new wife and have a few drinks." Sean says smiling. Willy being so youthful was as easy to be agitated as he was to be happy. "Now you don't owe me or the Black Witch, I can handle her little problem. Get on that fine horse, put on a suit and enjoy your special day."

"I'm on my way." Willy says smiling. 



Comments

Unknown said…
Very nice are you chinise old chinise it s hard to translate

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