Sunday, 3 September 2017

Fluttering Fragrance on the Bloody Sea part 4

This post summarises Chapters 11-16 of the "Fluttering Fragrance on the Bloody Sea" (血海飄香) of the Chor Lau-heung series. I have wrapped up the story and provided my short commentaries as well. I like the story, and I hope you like it as well!


The horse reminds me of the desert horse Chor tai-gor used in this story. Source: Xue Daixun





Chapter 11 (CLH tracked Ling-siok)

Chapter 10 ended with Chor Lau-heung evading Kaypang Pek-giok-mo’s poisonous claws by feeding his opponent the painting he carried inside his robe. Yet, Pek knew that the roll of paper was important to CLH, thus he didn’t want to give it so easily.  Despite CLH’s verbal tactics, Pek got nosy and opened the roll to see what was in it. He frowned.

“Why do you keep a painting of the late Leader Jin-lo’s widow?”

CLH couldn’t believe his luck. The beautiful Chiu Ling-siok apparently married the late Kaypang leader!

Yet, she apparently had changed her name into Yap Siok-tin, for Pek didn’t recognize who Chiu Ling-siok was. Pek also said that Mrs Jin had always been an amazing and pious woman, such that the sinful Pek admired her. CLH thus deduced that Chiu Ling-siok had turned a new leaf after marrying the former Kaypang Leader.



CLH asked if Pek knew where Ling-siok was; the latter said he didn’t know. Pek finally took CLH to Leader Lamkiong Ling, for the latter would know about Ling-siok’s whereabouts. CLH just had to tell Lamkiong Ling about the black-clad foreign boy. Thus, following Pek, CLH roof-hopped the Kilam town, Yat Dim-hung flew as well behind him. Pek told CLH not to tell Lamkiong Ling that it was him (Pek) who took CLH to the Kaypang branch office.  

“Remember,” Pek said to CLH as they flew across town, “You secretly follow me to the office, instead of me taking you to the office!”

CLH nodded and – tongue-in-cheek – turned back to address Yat Dim-hung as follows: “Yat Dim-hung, remember, you’re the one who secretly follow me to the office, instead of me taking you to the office!”

(Me: LOL!!!)

Yet Fell Cut was nowhere to be seen. CLH caressed his own nose (just like Michael’s CLH would), musing how Fell Cut was always not around when you wanted him to, yet he was also always around when you didn’t want him to!

Pek showed CLH where the Kaypang branch office was, and then he said, “Remember, you followed me here. I have nothing to do with you being here.”

“I don’t see you now, and I don’t know where you’re going to,” nodded Chor tai-gor humorously.

“Excellent!”

CLH then watched what happened inside the branch office: the desert fighter was already there, talking to Lamkiong Ling. Pek-giok-mo also came in and joined the conversation, which escalated rapidly because the desert fighter refused to tell why he caused riot in the Kaypang office two days prior. Yat Dim-hung arrived at the scene and joined the ensuing fight. Seeing his friends cornered by Kay-pang, CLH had to interfere by throwing some roof pieces into the hall. Think Michael Miu’s Huang Yaoshi (LOCH 2017) with his finger-thrown pebbles, but this time it was the roof pieces such as the one Huang Rong used. Thusly, Fell Cut and the desert fighter were able to hurl away from the Kay-pang office. When they were safe outside, the latter asked why Fell Cut saved him. Because the stubborn Fell Cut said that he couldn’t care less if the foreign fighter was dead or alive, the fighter got confused.

“Are you farting or what, babbling this nonsense?!”

“Well, I destroyed my friend’s belonging, so I take you to him in exchange,” was Fell Cut’s simple answer. Apparently, he felt guilty for destroying CLH’s letter, hence he rescued the fighter, in the hope that the fighter would be able to recite the letter to CLH. CLH arrived on cue, Fell Cut left after delivering the fighter to CLH. CLH once again deduced that the fighter must be the son of the Desert King (Ca Bok-hap, the Shadowless Sabre). Realising that CLH knew where his father was, the fighter (who later told CLH that his name was “Black Pearl”) relented and recited the letter. Signed by one “Siok”, the letter was written, approximately, as thus:

“Since parting ways with you a few years ago, I am certain you are much healthier and more lively than ever. On the contrary, I am now withering and fading. Yet, since I am now in danger, I hope in view of our old friendship, you deign to come and rescue me. If you refuse, my life will be no more.”

Since the Black Pearl was aware that Ling-siok was already married to a Kaypang leader, when the Desert King failed to send his regular news, the son was getting wary and traveled to the Central Plains to find his father. Thus his adventure with Kay-pang, for the Beggar Clan apparently had no idea where the widow of their previous leader was.

“This is so fishy,” Black Pearl later commented. “Like, we only know that the previous Kay-pang leader died. But how did he actually die? Of illness? Has anyone seen it with their own eyes?”

CLH said that what Black Pearl said just now was so true, but he should keep it to himself for now. He then said that he’d investigate this matter and report back to Black Pearl should he find anything. Black Pearl, in return, told CLH how to contact him.

“Go to Lake Tay-bing (the beautiful lake outside Kilam) and find my black horse. Tuck his ear three times gently and say, ‘Take me to Black Pearl’. Remember, three times only, and be gentle!”

“What if I tug four times with some pressure?” CLH couldn’t help himself.

“Then the horse will kick you into the bottom of the lake,” replied the Black Pearl before disappearing.

Afterwards, Chor tai-gor decided to return to the Kay-pang branch office. He was greeted by his old friend Lamkiong Ling, and to his pleasant surprise, the Shaolin monk Biao-ceng Bu-Hoa was also there, just finished preparing some dishes for him (remember that in Chapter 3, we learned that Bu-Hoa was an amazing chef, perhaps even surpassing Sung Tim-yi (!)). During the dinner and drinking session (where they drank wine directly from big jars, instead of wine flasks), CLH said that the Desert King was also known to be a great drinker. He then relayed that he found the Desert King died, floating at the sea. He had so far hidden the body to avoid bloodshed, so that no one in the Realm of Rivers and Lakes get to accuse one another.  Bu-Hoa commented that any criminal who crossed paths with the Romantic Thief Chor Lau-heung was definitely unlucky. CLH said that he’d be able to get into the core of the problem if he met Chiu Ling-siok. Would Lamkiong Ling help him meeting the widow of the deceased Kay-pang leader? Although CLH didn’t say how meeting Ms Chiu would help the case, he pressed Lamkiong Ling so much that the latter agreed to take him to her isolated house. Lamkiong Ling needed an hour to settle his own clan matters before he took CLH to Ms Chiu. 

CLH consented and left Kilam for Lake Tay-bing. He found the black horse, gently tugged the animal’s ears three times, and thus were taken to Black Pearl’s boat. CLH borrowed Black Pearl’s horse, because it would take two days return journey to Ling-siok’s place. CLH also asked Black Pearl to accompany So Yung-yung, who would be arriving from her own investigation in two days.

“Please tell her to wait if I haven’t arrived by sunset.”

“Is she pretty?” Black Pearl was curious.

“Just ‘pretty’ doesn’t do justice on her,” said CLH.

“What is she to you? Is she your ex?”

“Don’t you think your question is rather uncalled for?”

Thus, CLH returned to Kilam to commence his journey to find Ling-siok.

One day later, CLH and Lamkiong Ling (LKL) arrived at Mt. Ni-san. As they climbed higher, they arrived at a cliff where a very fast river was flowing. A small wooden block connected the two parts of the mountain; CLH and LKL had to cross the block to resume their journey. Yet, a person was already there, blocking the road. Despite CLH politely requesting a passage, the person didn’t deign to move. He then introduced himself as “Thian-hong-cap-si-long” from Japan.



Chapter 12 (CLH met Ling-siok)

This fighter from Japan refused CLH passage. He also said he knew Ling-siok, and he hated her for marrying Jin Yip, the previous Kay-pang leader. The Japanese samurai (well, let’s call him that) attacked CLH with shurikens for the latter kept asking for passage. The samurai’s jinsut (inner energy?) blasted a tree; the poor tree yellowed suddenly. CLH still flew here and there with his gravity-defying skill, evading the attacks. Next, the samurai unsheathed his long glaive. He kicked off his sandals and step by step, very slowly, approached CLH. After what seemed like a long time, the samurai threw his glaive sheath towards CLH. Utterly surprised, CLH stepped back. The samurai took this chance to charge forward and swing his glaive towards CLH. Cornered, CLH bended to evade the glaive, and thus dove head down to the white water below.

Yet, instead of diving down to his death, CLH still managed to rescue himself in the nick of time. One of his foot gained a few seconds of contact with a stone, thus he used that contact to catapult himself up into the air instead of going down. Like an eagle, CLH soared heavenwards before coming back down with such a speed that the samurai’s glaive failed to slash him. Instead, CLH grabbed the samurai’s hair and jerked it back, revealing that the samurai actually wore a very thin mask to disguise himself. Although surprised, the samurai still had time to hide his face. He fired a very thin wire from within his sleeves and swung down into the valley safely. Laughing like a maniac, he said,

“Chor Lau-heung, now that you’ve tasted the fighting style from Japan, is it not invicible?!”

When the useless LKL came to praise CLH for being able to evade the samurai’s glaive, the latter said that the attacker was not from Japan. Otherwise, considering that Chor tai-gor never introduced himself, how would the samurai know that he was Chor Lau-heung? Plus, the samurai had no reason to mask himself, for if he was indeed from Japan, no one would know how he looked anyway.

Soon after, CLH and LKL arrived at Ling-siok’s hut. The lady of the house welcomed the visitors with such a charming voice that CLH couldn’t help but feeling enamored by the voice (palm/face). CLH found Chiu Ling-siok kneeling in front of an altar; she was wearing black clothes with a black thick veil covering her face. After introducing himself, CLH said that he came because of Sebun Jian, Cou Yu-cin, Ling Ciu-cu and Ca Bok-hap.  The lady said that she knew the four masters, yet it was twenty years ago thus she had forgotten her ties with them. When CLH asked if she had written any letters to them, she denied it. She also challenged CLH who doubted her statement, saying that he didn’t even know her writing style. When LKL tugged him to leave, CLH asked if Leader Jin’s body was cremated. LKL said yes, it was the custom for Kay-pang.

Suddenly, the Jin widow (Chiu Ling-siok) said, “You don’t need to regret it, my late husband was ill and bed-ridden for many years. He died suddenly, not many people could see him. Why don’t you just leave.”

Chor Lau-heung’s eyes suddenly lit as he thanked her. He begged her leave and returned to Kilam with Lamkiong Ling. They reached Kilam almost midnight on the third day.  CLH offered LKL some wine, the latter politely refused and went home. After the new Kaypang leader left, CLH returned to Lake Tay-bing. He relayed his investigation to Black Pearl, who got dejected because it was another road end. CLH then asked if Yung-yung had arrived; Black Pearl said yes, but she died (!!).

Surprised, CLH asked how it happened. Apparently, Yung-yung arrived a day prior to CLH’s arrival. Black Pearl saw her standing on a boat nearby. Yet, before she met Black Pearl (the guy was walking towards her, but still in a distance), four guys arrived to attack Yung-yung. The girl was cornered and apparently died, her body fell into the lake, blood everywhere. Black Pearl admitted he couldn’t find her body, though.

CLH went into despair. He frantically searched for any clue on the boat where Yung-yung was attacked, but he found no trails at all. He later saw an old man fishing on a small boat. The old fisher asked if CLH would like some wine. CLH accepted the offer, finished the wine, and, silently crying, asked for more. When the old fisher asked why the young gentleman cried, CLH bitterly laughed and said, “This Chor person had never known how tears taste like…”.

Watching the tai-hap crying, the old fisher said, “Apparently, there is one person who is so sad in the idea that I died. What will happen if I truly die?”

Supremely elated, CLH looked back at the fisher and, recognizing So Yung-yung, hugged her excitedly.

(okay, I’m jealous. It’s true apparently that the novel CLH loved Yung-yung… but since in my mind, CLH is for Song Siu-ching, I’m jealous…)

By the way, this scene was borrowed for CLH 1984 series, Episode 1. Remember how CLH returned to the boat to find that an old fisherman told him that the Fragrant Boat was swept by a wild storm? CLH pretended to get depressed and jumped into the cliff, thus the old fisher (who was Yung-yung anyway) had to “rescue” him.

Anyway, Yung-yung then narrated how she got away. She swam well and she was carrying some powdered lipstick she previously bought for Sung Tim-yi, thus her killers thought she had died. SYY also said that her investigation in Sin-cui-kiong bore nothing. No man was ever allowed to enter Sin-cui-kiong, but one lady was still dead as the result. CLH then narrated his findings so far.

[Here I conclude that the 1984 CLH once again was quite faithful to the dynamics between CLH and SYY in the early episodes; they were indeed the greatest of confidants. Although Song Siu-ching was not an original character of the CLH novel series, i.e., she was not created by Ku Lung, I can imagine how So Yung-yung would feel sad when CLH became closer and closer to SC. It was the testament of Yung-yung’s maturity that she didn’t display any irrational behaviours to SC, except when SC’s medicine backfired in Ep 11.] 

CLH then said that Chiu Ling-siok had given him some very important hints despite her refusal to admit that she sent the letters to the four greats. Ling-siok said that, her late husband was ill and bed-ridden for many years, and that he died suddenly, not many people could see him. Yung-yung agreed that there was something fishy with Leader Jin Yip’s death. CLH then told her his plan to make Ling-siok tell him the whole story. SYY was worried, but CLH just told her to have faith in him. Basically, “Just return home, cool my wine jars under the sea, and and tell Tim-yi to cook some chicken for me. I’ll be home in five days.”

The sweet, beautiful and smart Yung-yung was a compliant girl as well. She listened and agreed to CLH’s request.

[note again: Perhaps this is where Barbara’s Siu-ching won CLH’s heart. Song Siu-ching almost never listened to CLH. She was an opinionated girl; she would follow her own heart, and although eventually she would listen to CLH, she only did that because she knew he was right, not because he asked her to do that. Song Siu-ching was a wild card that CLH never met before. She was the only woman who challenged him, and he (at least Michael Miu’s CLH) apparently liked that.]

Happy, CLH left Tay-bing Lake for Mt. Ni-san. However, only a few steps away from the lake, Monk Bu-hoa appeared to challenge him for some meals, drinks and chess. CLH had no choice but to follow the monk back to Kaypang, where Lamkiong Ling had been waiting with some food, wine and chess.


Chapter 13 (Ling-siok's story)

Yet, Chor Lau-heung knew he had to return to Mt Ni-san immediately, hence under the pretext of going to the privy, CLH escaped Kaypang (he actually left through a ventilation hole in the privy wall!!!). CLH returned to Tay-bing Lake, borrowed Black Pearl’s horse again and dashed towards Mt Ni-san in a hurry. CLH arrived in about 24 hours at Mt Ni-san, just around midnight. He kept his house in a hunter’s hut at the bottom of the mountain, then climbed the mountain on his own. By sunrise, he arrived at Ling-siok’s hut. The hut was empty, nothing suspicious. Yet, CLH found how a hairpin was strategically positioned towards the back door of the hut. He followed the lead and found Ling-siok, still black-clothed and black-veiled, at the edge of a cliff, holding a jar containing her husband’s ashes. In front of her loomed the disgusting figure of Pek-giok-mo, who was definitely about to deliver a killing strike with his long glaive.

Roaring, CLH declared that he’d never let anyone hurt Ling-siok. The surprise factor gave him time to snatch Ling-siok away from Pek’s view. Hurling the lady to safety, CLH realised that she had no kung-fu anymore, thus she was definitely in need of protection. Pek attacked CLH with his long glaive, CLH charged short-distance and dismantled the glaive with but a few strikes. Pek’s long glaive fell into the cliff, yet CLH just let Pek go. Confused because of the mercy, Pek-giok-mo left CLH and Ling-siok.

Left alone, CLH finally heard the real story from Chiu Ling-siok. She indeed wrote four letters to Sebun Jian, Cou Yu-cin, Ling Ciu-cu and Ca Bok-hap, yet not because of any romance. She wrote to them requesting them to rescue her and her husband, for they had been kept captive by Lamkiong Ling for the last three years. The evil LKL had poisoned Leader Jin Yip such that the latter was left defenseless. LKL was apparently an orphaned that Leader Jin Yip had adopted and raised as his own son; yet LKL shamelessly poisoned his adopted father and claimed leadership afterwards. To evade LKL’s suspicion, Ling-siok said to LKL that she’d write letters to the four greats to borrow some money (because LKL had misused Kaypang’s savings – didn’t know that Kaypang had savings…). When the four greats arrived, Ling-siok hoped that they would help her and her husband, yet the four greats were instead killed by LKL and another grandmaster who aided him.

When CLH asked how Leader Jin Yip died, Ling-siok said that it was after drinking a “health” potion. Jin Yip’s body suddenly bloated and he died because his blood vein and internal organs ruptured. It was the Thian-it-sin-cui, the stolen poison from Sin-cui-kiong, that killed Leader Jin Yip.

Ling-siok also mentioned that Leader Jin Yip killed the Japanese “Thian-hong-cap-si-long”. Twenty years ago, the Japanese samurai challenged Jin Yip, yet the latter defeated and killed him effortlessly. Only later that Jin Yip realised that the samurai was already fatally injured before the duel, hence the easy defeat. Guilt-ridden, Jin Yip adopted the son of the samurai. Ling-siok didn’t know who the person who defeated the samurai before Jin Yip’s duel, but the information should be enough for CLH to resume his detective work.

However, Chor tai-gor still wanted to know one thing: Is that okay to have a glance of the beautiful face of Chiu Ling-siok?

“You truly want to know?” was the quiet response of Ling-siok.

“Yes. I have been wondering for the last few days.”

“You will be the second person to see me then, after my husband, that is.”

Ling-siok slowly opened her veil to reveal a very ugly, damaged face underneath. As if someone had splashed mercury on her face. Shocked, Chor tai-gor lost for words.

“Now you have seen me… are you satisfied?” asked Ling-siok pitifully.

Shamefaced, CLH lowered his head. “I deserve to die… why did I have to force you to unveil yourself?”

“You don’t need to feel sorry…” said Ling-siok calmly as she observed the passing clouds. “Sometimes I even want to thank the person responsible for damaging my face… otherwise, how would I be able to feel so calm and happy…”

Then she narrated another story: that a very beautiful woman called the Stone Kuan-yin was so jealous of her that the former demanded that Ling-siok destroyed her own face. The Stone Kuan-yin left Ling-siok a very destructive lotion and demanded that Ling-siok used it in three months, otherwise she’d kill Ling-siok. Left with but three months, Ling-siok then commissioned a painter to paint her (Master Sun Siu-cay). Just as the Master finished the last painting, Ling-siok drugged him. Ling-siok then destroyed her own face with the lotion that the Stone Kuan-yin left her with. Afterwards, totally deranged, she carved out Master Sun’s eyes (OMG!!!) because she didn’t want him to see her face damaged (and because she was losing her mind).

“Now you know everything, you won’t forgive me, right…” she whispered in pain.

Chor Lau-heung watched her sad figure for a while before saying that, now that she had repented, he only knew the kind and pious Jin widow, not the woman she used to be.  

Afterwards the demonic episode, Ling-siok was rescued by Jin Yip, who constantly reminded her that she was beautiful inside, despite her already made the painter blind and despite Ling-siok always refusing to see the Kaypang leader. In the end, Ling-siok changed her name and married Jin Yin.

Looking at the sky, Ling-siok caressed the ashes jar and said, “I’m telling you, for me, no one is as kind as Jin Yip…”


Chapter 14 (Lamkiong Ling's demise)

After Ling-siok told Chor Lau-heung everything, most importantly on the matter of Lamkiong Ling’s treachery, she had no reason to live. She jumped into the valley with her husband’s ashes, with CLH looking gloomily, knowing he wouldn’t be able to stop her despite his skills. Enraged by LKL’s evil deeds, CLH returned to Kilam to confront his old friend. There, he found the current Kaypang leader waiting for him with some wine (always like that…). LKL asked CLH to sit down with him. CLH sat on a big sandalwood chair, then they reminisced on the first day they met. The daughter of a famous person was kidnapped, yet when CLH arrived at the scene to rescue the girl, LKL was there already, rescuing the girl. Afterwards, LKL often visited CLH’s boat; he even once made a painting of So Yung-yung. Once, the drunk LKL and CLH actually caught a big sea turtle (they wanted to catch the moon, but then they caught the turtle instead!). They cooked the turtle and had it for one full day… but then they had stomach ache for two days (!). Take that!

Anyway, after having a good laugh about those memories, CLH and LKL started to face the reality. They were enemies now, and although it pained CLH, LKL had to be brought to justice. Chor tai-gor demanded that LKL leave jianghu/gongwu/kang-auw, and repent himself in isolation. CLH also demanded that LKL told him which fighter aided LKL in his mission, for LKL couldn’t do it himself. The “Japanese samurai” at Mt Ni-san should be the master who aided LKL, and he should be the one who killed Song Kang as well. LKL refused. LKL rose to the air to challenge CLH. Wasting no time, LKL launched seven strikes towards his enemy, yet the former stood no chance because the latter just welcomed those strikes, all the while still sitting on the big chair (which also rose to the air as CLH rose to the air in a lotus position). CLH returned to the ground as soft and gentle as smoke, his chair touched the ground with no sound. On the contrary, LKL slammed back onto his chair with such a noise. This fight clearly showed that CLH’s gravity-defying skill and internal skill surpassed LKL’s.

Realising he was indeed no match to CLH, LKL signaled to someone and, lo and behold, a giant fighter (looked more like a king kong than a human) came out with immobilized Yung-yung! LKL said that he’d let SYY live if CLH stop chasing him. Yet, LKL would still keep SYY with him as hostage, forever.

Here we notice how So Yung-yung meant for Chor Lau-heung. The tips of his fingers trembled despite his calm demeanor. CLH couldn’t let the serial killer LKL run away, but he couldn’t let the latter kill SYY either. Yet, while CLH was in agony trying to choose between the two options, help came unexpectedly. A whip suddenly slashed the midnight air, strangling the giant fighter, thus giving CLH the chance to jump into the air and rescued Yung-yung. Black Pearl, the owner of the whip, appeared with Fell Cut. Apparently, upon arriving at Kilam, CLH tied Black Pearl’s horse on a tree, yet the horse released himself and returned to Black Pearl. Along with Fell Cut, the desert fighter had been waiting for CLH’s arrival, thus they rushed to Kilam once they saw the horse.

I imagine Black Pearl looking like this (Pinterest)


A fight ensued where Black Pearl fought the giant human and Fell Cut fought Lamkiong Ling. The Kaypang leader still had the indecency to offer Fell Cut 10,000 taels to kill CLH; Fell Cut said that even prostitutes would give some free service every now and then; thus he Fell Cut would kill LKL for free today (!). Chor tai-gor gave himself some time to massage SYY, releasing her from the blocked acupressure points. Black Pearl defeated the giant with his brain, for the giant had little brain, apparently. Afterwards, the desert fighter reprimanded CLH.

“You do realise that we’re fighting for your life here, no?”

“I am aware of that.”

“Then are you not at least concerned?” Black Pearl got irked. “Don’t you want to help Fell Cut?”

CLH laughed, saying, “Do you think that once Fell Cut has made up his mind to kill someone, he’d accept anyone else’s help?”

“And you’re just going to stand here and watch?”

“Trust me,” CLH said, “In ten moves, Fell Cut’s sword will injure Lamkiong Ling. In less than 30 moves, Lamkiong Ling will ask to stop the fight. It’s no use for me to interfere beforehand.”

“Ah, so you’re just a man who would choose a beauty over friendship, eh?”

Yet, indeed in less than ten moves, Fell Cut injured LKL. Grinning, CLH turned to Black Pearl. “What did I say? Less than 10 moves, even.”

Giving up, Black Pearl started to pay attention to So Yung-yung. He finally commented that she was indeed beautiful. However, she was definitely not the most beautiful woman on earth.

“She might not be the most beautiful one,” said CLH, “But she is definitely the gentlest one, the most loyal one, a woman who knows best how to serve, and a woman who knows how to understand one’s heart. I have yet to encounter anyone like her in this world.”

(me: humph!)

At that time, LKL started goading CLH about the identity of his partner in crime. When CLH said he couldn’t do anything when Fell Cut wanted blood, the latter suddenly stopped fighting. Admitting a draw, Fell Cut turned to CLH, stating that the evil Kaypang leader was now CLH’s. When CLH thanked Fell Cut, the latter took a few seconds to reply with,

“No need to thank me. Just remember that Yat Dim-hung will always be your friend to the end.”


With that, Fell Cut disappeared into the night. LKL used the moment to goad CLH with another tactic: CLH need to release him if the King of Thieves wanted to know who the other culprit behind the mass murders was. Realising the importance of that information, CLH left Yung-yung with Black Pearl, specifically instructing the desert fighter to tell Yung-yung to just go home. Afterwards, Chor tai-gor followed Lamkiong Ling back to Lake Tay-bing.  


LKL took CLH to a small boat docked on the lake shore. A table with plentiful food and some wine was clearly seen lit by the boat lantern. LKL poured CLH some wine and started telling his old friend that his (LKL’s) partner in crime was the only person who could defeat CLH. CLH realised that this enemy was definitely formidable. LKL then said that he hoped that CLH was not the person who unearthed the secret identity of his partner in crime.

“I wouldn’t want him to kill my old friend who captured a big sea turtle with me. That is definitely not something to be happy for.”

Chor tai-gor replied, “I also hope that you’re still the Lamkiong Ling who helped me catching the turtle.”

LKL laughed before frowning. “You’re not drinking your wine.”

“I tend to be very careful.”

“I poured the wine from the same pot. Here, I’ll drink your wine to alleviate your concerns!” Lamkiong Ling finished Chor tai-gor’s wine. “You shouldn’t worry too much. Who would be insane enough to kill Chor Lau-heung with –”

Yet, LKL suddenly suffocated. His body bloated, his veins erupted, blood flew from every pore of his body. CLH jumped in surprise to realise that the enemy had crossed the line by poisoning his own partner in crime. Nearing the end of his life, LKL still couldn’t believe that his colleague would double-cross him. The only thing he could say to CLH before he died was that, “… he was my brother…”

And LKL died. Apparently, CLH was so close to uncovering the truth that the enemy had to kill LKL as well. Shocked, CLH remained sitting on the boat for a while until sunrise.

Finally, CLH realised most of the story. A Japanese samurai went to the Central Plains to challenge at least two masters: Jin Yip of Kaypang and another master. The samurai died, but not before leaving his two sons to Jin Yip and the other master. Apparently, the sons of the samurai wanted revenge, hence they killed Jin Yip. The four greats whom Chiu Ling-siok contacted were just entangled in the drama in the most unfortunate moment, for the real mastermind behind Jin Yip’s murder did not want anyone nosing around. Now, CLH had to find the other master who assumingly adopted LKL’s brother. It has to be done immediately before it was too late.  

Before CLH left Lake Tay-bing, Black Pearl arrived, telling him that So Yung-yung had woken up and had returned to the Fragrant Boat. Black Pearl then asked where his father was. Only then CLH told Black Pearl what truly happened, that the Desert King had passed away. Enraged, Black Pearl demanded to know who the killer was. CLH gestured to the boat, saying that Black Pearl could find his father’s killer (a.k.a. Lamkiong Ling) there. CLH borrowed Black Pearl’s horse again and rode as fast as possible for Bianglam, a city in the south of Kilam.



Chapter 15  (CLH met the real killer)

Bianglam was a city renowned for its tea and tea drinking culture. People there took time to drink tea, they would sip it in small cups to better enjoy the taste. CLH was resting at a tea café in Bianglam when he met some old friends, one of them was a martial art expert who presented the Wanderer with some high quality tea leaves. The expert (called “Chi the Mottled Face”) said that he had actually kept the tea for a Shaolin monk called Master Thian-hong. This Shaolin monk had been leading Shaolin since about 20 years ago. CLH then realised that the great master he had been looking for, the one who might have adopted the other son of the Japanese samurai, might be Master Thian-hong.


CLH was about to depart for Shaolin with the tea that Chi the Mottled Face gave him when another guest at the tea café asked for his presence. The guest was none other than the Bald Eagle Toh Eng (a.k.a. the Enhanced Ears in White Clothes) whom CLH met when the latter stole the jade sculpture in Chapter 1. CLH asked if the Bald Eagle was there to retrieve the jade, yet the older artisan just laughed it off. Bald Eagle then said that he wanted to assist Kaypang for the murder of their new leader. Apparently, after CLH left Lake Tay-bing, Black Pearl hacked the decomposing body of Lamkiong Ling in revenge. Kaypang thought that LKL was dead because of the hacking, not because of the poison. They asked Bald Eagle’s help to find the murderer. CLH said that he knew the real killer of LKL, and he’d explain the killer’s identity to Bald Eagle in three days. Afterwards, CLH rode again with Black Pearl’s horse, to Poh-thian this time. To the headquarter of Shaolin Temple in the south.  


Chor Lau-heung arrived at Shaolin around sunset. Having no time for niceties, CLH tricked some very skilled monks so that he arrived in the inner garden, just in time for him to interrupt a tea drinking session. It was Master Thian-hong himself who was about to take a cup of tea from Bu Hoa, CLH’s old friend.

“Master Thian-hong, don’t drink that tea!”

Calm as a Boddhisatva, Master Thian-hong just smiled as he recognized Chor Lau-heung’s excellent ching-kung (gravity-defying skills). “Why should I not drink this tea? It is not the elixir of the gods, but it’s of high quality as well.”

Flashing a quick glance at Bu Hoa, CLH took out the tea leaves he just received from Chi the Mottled Face. Would Master Thian-hong prefer this tea instead? The wise master seemed to know something fishy, thus he accepted CLH’s tea and started to entertain his unexpected guest. CLH asked Master Thian-hong about the fight with a Japanese samurai 20 years ago. And thus we know another story.

That indeed a samurai called Thian-hong-cap-si-long (wonder what’s the Japanese name would be…) came to the Central Plains 20 years ago, yet he wasn’t really planning to kill any masters. Instead, he wanted to die, for his wife left him with his two sons (7 years old and a baby). The wife was Miss Li Ki, the sole survivor of Ui-san sect, which was obliterated by Hoa-san. The injured Li Ki left the Central Plains for Japan, where she was found by the samurai, who nurtured her back to health. She later married the samurai, yet when her second son was born, she left them for the Central Plains to revenge her sect. The samurai followed suit, yet he couldn’t find his wife. Broken-hearted, he challenged Master Thian-hong of Shaolin just so that he received the Master’s famous Shaolin strike. Heavily injured, the samurai left his oldest son to Master Thian-hong before departing to Kaypang. In Kaypang, the samurai challenged Leader Jin Yip, who killed him with but a strike. Jin Yip then had to adopt the second child out of guilt.


Chapter 16 (The demise of the real killer)


Having told the story, Master Thian-hong asked if Chor Lau-heung needed anything else. CLH said that he just wanted to talk to Bu Hoa. The wise Master let the two young men go.


In silence, Bu Hoa took CLH up the mountain forest behind the Shaolin Temple.

“So that you know, I don’t respect you for not unmasking me in front of Master Thian-hong,” Bu Hoa finally stopped and addressed CLH. “You did that just to spare him some broken-heart, right?”

Chor tai-gor laughed bitterly. “What if I also did that for something else? Such as our friendship, perhaps?”

“What is left of our friendship is just some dust to me.”

“Dust can still make me cry,” CLH stated honestly.

“How much do you actually know?”

By now, CLH had deduced that indeed the samurai’s second child turned out to be Lamkiong Ling, and the first son was indeed Bu Hoa. He had his father’s martial art book that he practiced secretly in Shaolin, thus he had the skills of a Japanese samurai. Bu Hoa was granted entry into Sin-cui-kiong because he was not an ordinary man; he was a monk. He then seduced a woman in that sect such that she stole the poison for him. Bu Hoa needed the poison so that no one could pinpoint that he killed Jin Yip. Bu Hoa also disguised himself as the Japanese samurai at Mt Ni-san, he also killed Song Kang and played the zither to hypnotise Fell Cut at Lake Tay-bing. He killed the nuns at Oh-i-am (no… it’s not pronounced “Oh, I am…”), yet one of the nuns was able to utter “Bu…” to CLH, who much later realised that it meant “Bu Hoa”.

Afterwards, there was the last duel. Bu Hoa used his Shaolin and samurai skills (including the Mighty Finger Flicks that could immobilize CLH’s main accupoints). CLH used just ordinary moves, yet delivered in such speed and agility, at least three times the speed of the fastest fighter in those days. Thunder split the sky; it started to rain hard. Bu Hoa launched some shurikens, but CLH just evaded them before one could blink. The last attack left Bu Hoa surprised, because CLH just materialized again behind him. The monk had to admit defeat.

Yet, CLH said that he wouldn’t kill Bu Hoa. He’d deliver the monk to Kaypang instead to be accounted for his crimes. Bu Hoa sneered, “I don’t believe Chor Lau-heung is a law-abiding citizen!”

“I just ignore laws and regulations produced by greedy people. Yet, I will always uphold integrity, justice and truth! An emperor who breaks the law also has to face justice, as normal citizens would. Don’t you know these rules?!”

To that, Bu Hoa smiled. “Don’t you ever hope that those people can touch me.” And thus, he killed himself. I don’t know how Bu Hoa did that; perhaps by pressing an accupoint? It’s clear though that he didn’t die falling off the cliff the way he died in the first episode of CLH 1984.


Epilogue


The Bald Eagle Toh Eng was fidgeting in Poh-tian as he waited with the Kaypang members. When Kaypang started to say that CLH might not appear, Bald Eagle said that CLH was a man of his words. CLH arrived in time to deliver the news that the killer of Lamkiong Ling had died. When Kaypang demanded the killer's identity, CLH refused to tell them, because the killer had died anyway. When the Kaypang members insisted, CLH lost it.


“What do you want to do with his body anyway?! He died already! If you want to do something with a dead body, doesn’t it mean that you’re lower than the killer?!”

That made the Kaypang members silent.

“The killer’s death has cleaned up his slate. If you still want to know his identity, find it yourself. If you still come to bother me, don’t blame me for not being nice with you!”

With that, Chor Lau-heung left Poh-tian in anger. He was angry and irritated because of Bu Hoa, because of what he did and how he died. Now he just wanted to return home to the Fragrant Boat, to the delicious food of Tim Yi’s, laying on the deck next to So Yung-yung, listening to Li Hung-chao’s stories.

In short, he had more than enough with this boring society.


-END-


Commentaries:

I like this first story of Chor Lau-heung. I don’t know a lot about how he became so skillful, but I definitely know he was the considered the best in his era. I see his smart brain and beautiful heart again here, and we see that he still loved to see beautiful women. I don’t think he’s a womanizer though; I haven’t read that CLH did anything disrespectful to the girls here. If anything, it was the girls who wanted him to do something to them, haha!

I also see how CLH loved Yung-yung more than the other two girls here… but not sure if that was amorous love. She was definitely the most important of the three girls, so it could be amour there. (I’m jealous for Siu-ching again). But at least, it shows me that CLH could be very worried about the safety of his girls, thus his worry and anger for Siu Ching's life in my fanfic "Escape from the Bat Palace" is not so far-fetched now.

Love to read about Yat Dim-hung here. Austin Wai’s depiction of Fell Cut in the 1984 series was spot-on. I wish that we had seen the Black Pearl in the 1984 series, but hey, I can still use him in my fanfictions then!

I also am somewhat relieved that Chor Lau-heung could be angry as well. He was shown to be angry in some passages here, but he would recover it quickly. I don’t think that he would recover his heart break about Lamkiong Ling and Bu Hoa that fast… particularly for Bu Hoa… but that befitted his sorrow when Zo Hing-hau died in the 1984 series.

There is at least one hole in the story: in Chapter 1, CLH found five dead bodies. The four bodies belonged to Sebun Jian, Cou Yu-cin, Ling Ciu-cu and Ca Bok Hap (Black Pearl's dad). The fifth body belonged to a woman who dressed up as a Sin-cui-kiong disciple. Yet, a Sin-cui-kiong disciple who appeared in Chapter 3 already confirmed that the dead woman was not of her sect. So... who was the woman then?

Despite that hole, I enjoy Ku Lung’s CLH original story. I was having problems with following the Hakka (Hokkien) names, but I got used to it.

Also, I’m happy that the 1984 series actually depicted CLH pretty much true to the Gu Long original story. He was humorous yet gentle and righteous. He liked women (but I like looking at cute guys as well...), but he treated them with respect.  He was not a womaniser like Ouyang Ke (ah, the LOCH 2017 OYK was still a cute guy tho!). CLH was very smart and his gravity-defying skill and internal skill were top-notch. Because Adam Cheng’s CLH held a fan all the time, I originally thought that CLH wielded a white fan, but apparently not. The 1984 CLH was pretty much true to form, for I haven’t “seen” CLH holding a fan at all in this story. If anything, he liked to go bare-chested as he enjoyed the sun on the Fragrant Boat deck.


That would be a lovely sight to see… hehehe…



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