(This is a fictional story, based (loosely) more on Cheh Chang's Marco Polo
than the real life of Marco Polo.)
Beijing, Palace of Kublai Khan
China has been under Mongol rule for a very long time. Genghis Khan, the great Warlord, had united the feuding Mongol tribes and build the largest land Empire the world had ever seen. Kublai Khan, successor of Genghis Khan, in his eternal wisdom has decided to allow foreigners to come to his court and be allowed to serve him. One of those men in Marco Polo. A Venetian merchant once, now he is a Mongol Officer. Kublai had been impressed by Marco Polo's character and appearance, when he first met him three year ago, and he gave him the mission to travel through the Mongol Empire and give him information about the people and the land. Now, after three years of travelling, Marco Polo has returned to Beijing to see his friend and Khan, Kublai. Marco Polo is a relative young man, with long hair, blue eyes and light beard. When Marco enters Kublai's palace, he finds the Khan sitting on his throne. Kublai looks more like a sympathetic old man, with his long beard, than a terrifying Warlord. Marco bows before the Great Khan.
"My friend. Get up."
"Thank you, my lord."
"I have read the report you send me."
"And what do you think?"
"It will help me a lot in ruling this Empire. Your report is full of customs of many people and lands that I have never even heard of. Now, I know a lot more about the people and the lands that I rule."
"It is my honor that I could help you, sir."
"Marco, I also have an other mission for you.
"What is that mission sir?"
"Ask General Wu Chi Zang."
"I will, sir."
"You may leave now."
"Thank you sir."
A few minutes later, Marco arrives in the barracks of General Wu Chi Zang. Wu is about 50 years old. His face is so scarred, that someone must be very brave to look at him. His hair is short, with a ponytail. Wu is very muscular, and he always fights along with his men on the front line. He is a Kung Fu expert, after all.
"So, you are the famous Marco Polo, right?"
"Yes, I am Marco Polo."
"Kublai Khan wants you to follow me in my campaign against the Han Rebels. Your knowledge of the land and the people will be very useful to me."
"I will be happy to help you."
"That's good. I hope that we shall be able to work together well."
"That is also my hope."
"Good. You may leave now. You must prepare for the campaign."
Four days later
Only four days have passed since Marco Polo arrived to Beijing, and he travels again. The Mongol army is 2,000 men strong, 400 cavalry, 100 archers and the rest infantry. The army marches towards the Red River, where Han Chinese rebels have fortified. The rebels are around 100 men strong, so Wu and Marco expect this to be a minor police action. How wrong their hopes will be proved to be!
After 26 days of march, the army reached the banks fo the Red River. The river is very deep and raging, and Wu's army had to use small boats to cross the river. And this weakness is exploited to it's maximum effect by the rebels. With flaming arrows, they shoot at the small wooden boats, burning alive the troops of the Great Khan. After three days of failed attempts to cross the river, and the loss of 500 men, 1/4 of the entire force, Wu decides to go to Marco's tent and talk with him.
"Marco, we are losing hundreds of men. The Great Khan considers this to be a minor police action. If he learns how many men I have lost and how I have failed to defeat just 100 rebels, he will cut my head off."
"We must think of an other way to cross the river. A bridge is impossible, since we do not have the resources to pull something like this, because we are supposed to be in a police action, not a military campaign. But, we could try to find a part of the river that is shallow and outflank the rebels."
"The parts of the river that are shallow are very far away, and will give a lot of time to the rebels to retreat, and even if the rebels do not retreat, it will be hard to coordinate our forces."
"But, during my travels, I discovered a part of the river, that is shallow, very near to our camp. It is just one day away."
"Where is this part, and how I have never heard of it?"
"It is near the old road to the Tiger Village, the Monkey pass."
"It is forgotten and it is not even in the local maps, because the Tiger Village has been abandoned since Genghis Khan's invasion. But I, thanks to my travels, have been able to discover it."
"Good. You will take a force of 400 men, 60 archers, 100 cavalry and 240 infantry, and outflank the damn rebels. Meanwhile, I will make attempts to cross the river, in order to pin down the enemy."
"Great plan. I am going!"
Marco's plan is indeed a success. After a day of marching, the small Mongol force is able to cross the Red River at the Monkey pass. Once Marco crosses the river, he outflanks the rebels, forcing them to send 50 of their 100 men, half of their force, against him. This allows Wu and his men to cross the river and encircle the enemy forces. Once the land battle begins, the superior training and numbers of the Mongols win the day. Almost all of the 100 rebels are massacred.
A day after the battle, in Marco's tent
The day after the battle, Wu enters Marco's tent to inform him about the prisoners. When Wu enters, he finds Marco talking with Lung Xeng, Marco's one armed friend. Lung is short, with only one arm, his left arm, but he is a very close friend with Marco Polo.
"Marco, I am sorry to interrupt you."
"No, please, tell me what you want to say."
"We have captured 7 prisoners."
"Yes. Those guys fought like fanatics."
"Is Chan Wang Hsen among those captured?"
"No, sir. Chan, the leader of the rebels, has been able to escape. But, we have captured his wife."
"Who is she?"
"Li Honxi Ang. She is quite pretty, but very stubborn. Not only has she refused to tell us anything about her husband, but she has also refused to eat anything."
"No! She must not die!! Kublai wants us to arrest Chan, and she is the only one who can give us a clue about where he is."
"You may want to talk with her yourself."
"That is what I will do."
A few minutes laters, Marco arrives in Li's cell. Li is a very young woman, in her 20's. She has long hair, blue eyes and red lips. Marco is stunned for a few seconds by Li's beauty.
"Mrs. Li, I have brought you a soup to eat."
Instead of replying, Li takes the cup and breaks it.
"Why you refuse to eat? Do you want to die?"
"Without my husband, I see no reason to live."
"But your husband is not dead yet. Do you want to die and let him down?"
"I know that he is still alive, but you will never let me free, and if you let me, it will be in order to find my husband."
"Your husband is a traitor who has commited treason."
"The one who you call traitor is a hero to me. He is man of morals, who fights to liberate his nation. Not like you. You are just a foreigner coming to China in order to serve the Tatar Devils."
"I am an explorer."
"No. You are just a man with no morals. A man who helps tyrants."
"But still, you have to eat. Do this favor, not for me, but for your husband. Do not die. Do not let him down."
"Ok. I will eat. But only because of my husband."
Once Marco left the jail, he felt strange. Was he in love with the wife of his arch-enemy?
Huang Shi Kai is training in the Shaolin Monastery on Martial Arts. While he is not a monk, he has lived almost his whole life inside the monastery. He is 19 years old, muscular, with long hair and green eyes. He is training under Shaolin Abbot Ma Mazhing. Ma is a very old man. He has his hair shaved in Shaolin manner and has a long white beard. He may be old, but he is not weak at all. He is one of the best Kung Fu fighters in all of China. While Huang is taking a nap, Ma brings a table and some chairs.
"Wake up, you fool!"
"Now, let's begin the training!!"
"There is no but!! Do you see this table?"
"Get on top of that table!"
Huang jumps and gets on top of the table.
"That's easy, teacher."
"Open you left hand."
Suddenly Ma puts a chair on Huang's left hand.
"Open and your right hand."
Huang opens his right hand, and Ma puts a chair on Huang's right hand.
"How do you feel?"
Huang thought that by enough Ma meant that the exercise would be finished. But, instead, Ma puts a chair on Huang's head.
"If any of those chairs or you falls, then I am going to beat you until you find a way not to fall.
"Teacher, how.....how...am I supposed to....to not fall and not allow any of those chairs to fall?"
"I do not know. You should find some solution!"
Huang manages not to fall or allow any of the chairs to fall. After a few minutes, Ma comes with other three chairs.
"Teacher? What......what....are you going to do with those chairs?"
"Haha. You shall see....."
Suddenly, Ma puts a second chair on top of the chair on Huang's head. He then puts second chairs on top of the chairs on Ma's right and left hands.
"Teacher........it.....it is too heavy. I will fall!"
"Pray that you do not fall."
Huang manages not to fall or allow any of the chairs to fall for more than 7 minutes. But then, suddenly, without warning, Ma kicks him in the stomach. Huang falls on the ground, along with the six chairs, two of which hit him in the face. Huang gets up, but bleeding and injured.
"Teacher, why did you hit me?"
"If an enemy hits you, then will you ask him why did he hit you?! You must be able to never fall and have a stable stance, in order to be a good fighter. Also, what did I tell you that would happen if you fell?"
Ma grabs Huang and punches his fists on Huang's face thirty times. He then throws him on the ground.
"Listen to me, boy! You are either going to learn how not to fall or I will beat you to death!!"
"Now go again on the top of the table!!"
Ma has Huang to do the same exercise. After seven hours and after being beaten more than twenty times, Huang is finally able not to fall. Ma kicks him again and again in the stomach, but Huang's stance is now stable enough so neither he nor the chairs fall.
"Very good, boy! You are doing very well. You will now be able to leave the monastery."
"Why should I leave the monastery?"
"I have a mission for you. As you know, we are all Han Chinese and we cannot allow people chased by the Tatar oppressors to die."
"So, I will help someone?"
"Yes. Go to Mao's tavern in the White Crane village. There, you will meet the leader of the rebels, Chan Wang Hsen."
"Yes. Remember, in order that you will not be fooled, to ask Chan to tell you the secret password."
"Ok, teacher. I will not let you down!"
"Good. Go now."
Jail, Li's cell
As the days pass, Marco Polo is able to gain Li's trust. He brings to her food every day and they talk with each other. However, their discussions are only serious, not funny, and neither Li nor Marco forget that they are enemies.
"Li, I have brought you a soup."
"I have never seen you smile. Why?"
"How can I smile when my husband is away and I am in jail?"
"Well, you still have me to talk with."
"I know what you try to do all those days. You try to gain my trust, so you can force me to tell you were my husband is."
"Well, that is my job."
"By the way, you also have not smiled at all. Why?"
"Well, officers do not smile."
"Many of them do. Is there something that saddens you?"
Marco Polo cannot hide his sadness. Kublai and Wu want a quick end to the chase of Chan Wang Hsen. If Li does not speaks about her husband, Wu will execute her. And the problem for Marco Polo is that in all those days of talking with her, he has fallen in love with Li, and yet he cannot do anything to either persuade her to talk or persuade Wu not to execute her.
"Li, Wu wants to execute you if you do not tell us where your husband is."
"I will never betray my nation and my husband!!"
"Please, talk. I do not want you to die."
"Then fight Wu!!"
"I am a Mongol officer."
"This is sad. You are such a good man. We could have been friends and allies. But, instead, you serve a tyrant."
"Believe me, I care for you. Talk and save yourself."
"No. I appreciate your kindness, but I cannot do this."
Marco Polo leaves, and Li can see a tear in Marco's eye. A few minutes later, he arrives in his tent, where Lung Xeng, his one armed friend, is reading a book.
"Hello, my friend. What bothers you?"
"She will not speak. They are going to execute her. What am I going to do? Kublai is my friend and I must be loyal to him, but I love her!"
"You must make a decision. You can either choose the one or the other, or you shall lose both. You will either choose your heart or your mind, your love or your duty, the girl or Kublai. If you do not choose, she will die and you will also lose the trust of Kublai."
"So, what can I do?! What?! What?! What!?!!!"
"First, calm down. Think. Think what you want. The girl or Kublai?"
Mao's Tavern, White Crane Village
Huang walks inside the tavern of Mao. He is searching of Chan, the leader of the rebel forces. As he walks inside the tavern, he finds a man that fits with the description of Chan. The man is tall, strong, with short hair and wears black clothes.
"Mr, may I ask you something?"
"The Sea is Great."
"And the wind is strong."
"The fire shall burn the devils."
"And our Kingdom free will be."
"Good, so you are Chan."
"Yes. You must be Huang, right?"
"Yes. Abbot Ma has asked me to find you and help you escape the Mongol bastards."
"Before we can do that, I want you to help me free my wife, Li."
Huang and Chan pay the bill and leave the Tavern. As they walk out of the tavern, they see two Mongol soldiers.
"Huang, follow me. I have a plan."
The two men follow the Mongols. When they reach a small street, without anyone walking near, they grab the two Mongol soldiers and kill them. Then, they take the clothes of the Mongols and they dress with them.
"Huang, let's go to the jail and free my wife."
"I know! But we must go fast before they execute her!!"
Jail, Li's cell
Huang and Chan, dressed in Mongol uniforms, were able to get into the jail. There, Chan goes to talk to the guard.
"Hey, who are you."
"I have been tasked to get that girl to be executed."
"You can go and ask Lord Wu, if you want, but he is very angry with my delays because of people like you. He will not be kind if I delay any longer. And be sure that I will tell him that you were the one who delayed me."
"Ok, ok. Take her!"
Huang and Chan get Li out of the cell, and then the three of them leave first the jail and then the White Crane village. A few minutes later, Marco Polo comes to the cell.
"Guard, where is Li?"
"She has be taken to be executed."
"But I was talking with Wu the past two hours and he did not once gave an order for her to be executed!! You have been fooled!!!"
"So, those soldiers were in fact rebels?!"
"Yes, you fool! Run and inform all guards to search the village! I will go to meet Wu. Now!!"
Outside the White Crane Village
Li cries because of how happy she is and embraces her husband.
"Li, I love you so much. Have you been tortured while in jail?"
"No. A European, named Marco Polo, helped me. He gave me soup and treated me well."
"It is good to hear that. You do not know ho-"
Before Chan can continue, Huang interrupts him.
"Sorry to interrupt this happy reunion, but the Mongols are chasing us."
"You are right! Li, we must go to your uncle De Zhing. He is a respected man and no one will suspect that we will hide there."
"Ok. Let's go."
Marco Polo runs into Wu's tent. Wu is taking a nap, but he quickly wakes up after Marco tells him what happened.
"Oh, no!! Kublai will take my head off!"
"We should prepare a cavalry force of 60 men and to chase them."
"That is what we shall do!"
While Li has escaped, Marco Polo feels very happy. Li, the woman she loves, has escaped execution and he has not betrayed his friend, Kublai Khan. It was a lucky day for Marco Polo, but a not so lucky day for Wu, whose head may be cut off.
Red Stone Farm, outside De Zhing's house
Chan, Huang and Li reach the Red Stone Farm. It is where De Zhing, uncle of Li, lives. De has nothing to do with the revolution and he is a respected old man, known for his Kung Fu skills. Li knocks the door of De's house, and soon De opens the door.
"My dear niece!"
"I want to ask you to allow us to hide in your farm for a few days."
"Of course! My house is always open to heroes. Come in!"
Chan bows before De.
"Thank you Mr. De. Be sure that we shall cause no trouble or attack the Mongols while we are here."
Marco Polo is reading a report given to him by scouts about the location of Chan and his group, when Lung Xeng enters in.
"Marco, will you really hunt down the girl?"
"It is my duty."
"Then why you stop every three hours, saying to Wu that the men need to rest?"
"Because they have to rest."
"Or because you are not sure of what you want?"
"You love her. So, you do anything you can to allow her and Chan to escape."
"What else can I do?"
"You, my friend, are in a very complicated situation."
Meanwhile, in De's house, Chan and Huang train in Kung Fu for days. Chan has been breaking bamboo sticks with his bare hands and moves rocks, while Huang gets his fists into boiled water and breaks paper and cotton with his crane style. De is overseeing their training.
"Both of you, come here!!"
Chan and Huang come near De.
"You have been training for days. You, Chan, have managed to learn the Tiget style. It is powerful and gives you pure power. You, Huang, have learnt the Crane style. You are able to sustain more hits. Also, you are very soft, compared to the Tiger style, but your fingers are powerful and precise. You need each other to form the Tiger and Crane Style!"
both Chan and Huang say with one voice.
Marco Polo enters Wu's tent to find Wu furious and nervous.
"Wu, why did you called me?"
"I have searched everywhere, and I still cannot find them."
"What shall we do?"
"You, along with some men, will search the house of De Zhing, uncle of Li. You should be careful, however, because De is well respected and we need evidence before doing anything against him."
"Ok, I will go and search his house."
A few hours later, Marco Polo, along with ten men, arrives in De's house. Marco knocks the door. De opens the door.
"Hello, officer. May I help you."
"I have decided to pay you a visit."
"It is my pleasure."
"Good. Do you mind that my men search you house? I heard that some criminals are in this area, and they may hide here."
"No. Please. Do your work. I will be happy to help you."
A few minutes pass, and a Mongol soldier comes back to inform Marco.
"Sir, we found nothing."
"Yes, sir. I am sorry."
Marco then turns on De.
"Mr. De, I will have to leave. Thank you for your kind cooperation."
"I am always happy to help."
A few minutes after the Mongols leave, De goes in the farm of the house, and shouts near the farm's well "Ok. You can get out!"
Suddenly, Chan, Li and Huang get out of the well. Chan bows before De.
"Sir, you do not know how thankful I am to you for your help."
"Do not thank me. Thank beggar Sou, who saw the Mongols coming and informed me."
A few days after Marco Polo searched De's house, Wu calls him in his tent.
"Marco, a servant of De, named Hu, has given us some information."
"Well, for a few gold coins, he told us that De hides the rebels."
"But, when I searched, I did not find anything."
"That was because they were hidding inside the well. Tomorrow morning, I shall attack them with 100 men and the revolution shall be crushed!!! Hahahahaha!!!!!"
Night, De's house
In the darkness of night, Marco Polo sneaks inside De's house. Slowly, and without anyone seeing him, he enters Li's room.
"Who is it?!"
"Calm down. I am Marco."
"It is you. What do you want?"
"You have been betrayed. Wu will soon attack the house with 100 men. Come with me. Let's leave away. Go to Venice, in Italy. I love you Li."
"No, I like you too. I almost feel a love for you. But I cannot betray neither my husband nor my nation."
"Then inform the others to leave!"
Hearing the voice, Chan, Huang and De enter the room.
"What is happening?"
"I am Marco Polo. I am here to inform you that you should all leave this place. Wu will attack the place with 100 Mongol warriors."
"Why should we believe you?"
Chan and Huang pull out their swords. They believe that Marco has set a trap for them. Li bows before Chan.
"My husband! Believe him. He is a good man. I know him."
"For your shake, I will believe him. Teacher, evacuate the house and take Li with you. I will stay here, with Huang, and I will face the Mongols. Down with the Mongol Bastards!!!! Freedom or Death!!!!!!"
Soon, De, Li, the servants and De's family leave the house. Marco also leaves the house and sneaks back in the Mongol camp before anyone can discover of his treason. In the morning, Wu, on horseback, leads his small army of 100 men against the two heroes, Huang and Chan. Two men versus an entire army.
Once they reach the house, Wu orders his men to surround the house and throw torches at De's house. As De's house goes into flames, Wu orders 20 warriors to go inside the house. For a few minutes, only screamings are heard. Then, Chan and Huang get out of De's house. Wu cannot believe it.
"How!? How were they able to defeat 20 men?!"
Wu then orders 60 men to charge at the enemy. 30 attack Chan and other 30 attack Huang. Both Chan and Huang make short work of the soldiers. Chan, using his Tiget style, beats up the Mongols with immense power, while Huang, with his Crane Style, is able to sustain the hits of the Mongol warriors and uses his fingers to dig out the eyes of the Mongols. Wu is surprised by power of the two men. So, instead of risking the lives of other men, he decides to fight them himself. He is a master of the Iron Palm technique, after all.
Wu begins the duel by grabbing Chan's head with his left hand and punching his right fist thirty times on Chan's face. He then kicks Chan twice on the stomach. Chan, injured and bleeding, falls on the ground. Huang then tries to attack Wu. He kicks Wu's face, but he fails to dig out Wu's eyes. Now, it is Wu's time to attack. He punches both of his fists on Huang's stomach twenty times. He then takes a deep breath and hits Huang's stomach with his right palm. Huang is pushed back and falls on the ground, bleeding.
"What technique....is this?"
"Hahahaha!!!! It is my Iron Palm!!!!!!!!"
Chan gets up and runs at Wu, but Wu kicks him ten times in the face and he falls on the ground again. Suddenly, both Chan and Huang remember the words of Teacher De.
"You need each other to form the Tiger and Crane Style!"
They both realize what this mean. Huang, since he can sustain more pain, will take Wu's attacks, while Chan, who is more powerful, will hit Wu.
"Hahaha!! You shall both die!!!"
Huang runs at Wu.
"I...I do not think so!!! Freedom or Death!!!!!!!!!!!"
Wu, with ease, blocks Huang's attacks and kicks him in the face. But, suddenly, Chan runs and hits with his fists Wu's back. Wu kicks with immense power Huang, and then he turns on Chan. He punches his fists on Chan's face, but suddenly Huang grabs Wu's head with his right hand and hits Wu's face with his left elbow. Wu first kicks Chan's face, and then he turns of Huang and tries to hit him. But Huang blocks Wu's attacks and kicks Wu's genetic organs. Chan then attacks Wu on the back, but Wu manages to block his attack and kicks him. As Wu is ready to use his Iron Palm on Chan, Huang gets in front of Chan and the Iron Palm hits him. Huang, who is able to sustain more hits, is bleeding, but is not killed. Chan then counterattacks by punching one fist after the other on Wu's face. Huang makes the final attack, by digging out Wu's eyes, killing him. But, before Chan and Huang can enjoy their victory, Mongol archers shoot at them, killing them. They lived and they died like heroes.
Beijing, Palace of Kublai Khan
A few days after the attack, Marco Polo returns to Beijing. He enters the Palace and finds Kublai sitting on his throne. He bows before him.
"Get up, Marco. Your mission is a success. Bravo!"
"My lord. I am sorry to say this, but I will leave for Venice. I miss my motherland."
Kublai Khan gets up and embraces Marco Polo.
"I am sad to see you leaving, but is your choice. Goodbye, Marco, my friend."
"I am thankful for everything you have done for me. Goodbye, my lord."
And so, Marco Polo leaves for Venice. Marco was imprisoned in Venice, and dictated his stories to a cellmate. He was released in 1299, became a wealthy merchant, married and had three children. He died in 1324, and was buried in San Lorenzo.