(This is a short story I have decided to write. Taking a break from my main story, The Legendary Zhuge Liang, was needed. The story is set during the Qing Dynasty, the last Chinese Dynasty, in the reign of Emperor Qianlong. The story and most of the characters are fictional, but some protagonists, like Emperor Qianlong, Fuk'anggan and Heshen were real persons. I would like to thank machievelli
, for his reviews have helped me become a better writer. Reviews shall be greatly appreciated.)
The Emperor and the Hero
1755 AD, Beijing, Imperial Palace, Emperor Qianlong's office
The sky belongs to me,
so is the land.
The Empire is mine,
yet I cannot have you.
It is 1755 AD. Emperor Qianlong ((乾隆), 乾 means heaven, 隆 means eminence, which means "Lasting Eminence") has been ruling the Great Qing Empire since 8 October 1735, and he is now in his mid-forties. Emperor Qianlong, after putting down the Miao Rebellion, has decided to expand his Empire westwards with a series of military campaigns. Thousands of Qing soldiers invade the Dzungar Khanate, which the Qing call Xinjiang. The Qing forces are able to defeat one Dzungar army after the other and massacre thousands of Dzungar civilians. The success of Emperor Qianlong has made many Governors, Generals and prominent families to send gifts to the Emperor to congratulate him in view of his many military victories. One of those families that has send gifts to the Emperor is the Wu family, headed by Wu Li, a Magistrate in Xining, Gansu Province, in Western China. Among the gifts send by Wu Li, a white porcelain vase has gained the interest of the Emperor the most. That is because the vase has upon it painted a very, very beautiful woman. The Emperor has been looking on that vase day and night. This is what he does now in his office, when General Fuk'anggan enters.
Fuk'anggan is a young man, just 23 years old, tall, handsome, thin, with his hair shaved in Manchu manner and with a ponytail. He has the title of Prince Fu. He wears a heavy coat fastened at the waist by a leather belt. From the belt hangs his sword, as well as a dagger. This long robe-like coat doubles over, left breast over right, and is secured with a button a few inches below the right armpit. The coat is lined with fur. Underneath the coat, Fuk'anggan wears an armor composed of small scales of iron and chain mail sewn together with leather tongs. Fuk'anggan also has boots made from felt and leather, and though heavy, they are comfortable and wide enough to accommodate the trousers tucked in before lacing tightly. Fuk'anggan is favored quite a lot by the Emperor and has been given many titles, despite his young age. Fuk'anggan has proved again and again how able he is in military matters, but this may not be the only reason for which the Emperor favors him so. It is rumored that Fuk'anggan is an illegitimate son of the Qianlong Emperor.
When Fuk'anggan enters the Emperor's office, he finds him looking at the vase given to him by Wu Li. Emperor Qianlong is a man in his mid-forties, with a handsome face, a strong stature and has his hair shaved in Manchu manner. He wears the silk Yellow Robe, which only the Emperor is allowed to wear, and a yellow hat. Fuk'anggan bows before his Emperor and shouts "Greetings, Your Imperial Majesty!"
Qianlong orders while looking at the vase.
"Your Imperial Majesty, why did you call me here?"
"Well, I want you to inform me how is the situation in Xinjiang. How has our military campaign been?"
"We have been gaining victory after victory! General Zhao Hui has been able to take over lli and Dawachi Khan has surrendered! We are crushing the barbarians!"
"Good! Very good! Excellent! In other news, I have written a poem. What do you think of it?"
Emperor Qianlong shows Fuk'anggan a poem written with truly magnificent calligraphy:
"So, what do you think of it?"
"The Green Dragon (Seven Constellations of the East) surrounds the Big Dipper alongside the purple [imperial] palace;
The Golden Crow (the sun) rises in the sunlight in front of jade palace towers.
Harmonious [air] around the Magpie Pavilion is congealed with snow remains from the last month of the past year;
Spring fills the palace complex, cloud of a sunny day flies.
When can we return to the gloriousness of the three reigns?
Now the rites and music [of Qing rule] reach a hundred years.
To keep being cautious in order to remain in peace, how is this upmost thought?
Praising the heaven, I shall forever encourage myself.
"It's very impressive, Your Imperial Majesty!"
Fuk'anggan replies. "It is truly majestic, flawless and awe inspiring!"
"I have called you here to also give you a task."
"What task, my Lord?"
Emperor Qianlong points at the woman painted upon the vase and says "I want you to search and find if this woman painted upon the vase given to me by Magistrate Wu Li is a real person. If yes, then inform me who she is!"
Gansu Province, Xining, Kumbum Monastery
Wu Huang, son of Wu Li, studies Martial Arts in the Kumbum Monastery. He is 19 years old, with thick eyebrows, large eyes, long black hair and a sturdy and strong stature, and a complexion somewhere between dark and fair. He wears a black Hanfu, which has long and loose sleeves and grey collars diagonally crossing each other, with the left crossing over the right, and black cotton shoes. The Kumbum Monastery was established in 1583 in a narrow valley close to the village of Lusar. The majority of the Kumbum monks are Tibetans from Amdo and Mongolians and Wu Huang is one of the few Han Chinese who are allowed in the Buddhist Monastery, mainly because he is the son of the Magistrate, who is also a close friend with Abbot Gyatso, a Tibetan Monk. Abbot Gyatso is a very old man, with his hair shaved in Buddhist manner and with a long white beard, and his face always gives you the impression of a very calm man. Abbot Gyatso wears a yellow robe, and upon that a smaller red robe. Abbot Gyatso is an expert in Kung Fu and is considered one of the greatest martial artists in the whole Qing Empire. While Huang is taking a nap in the backyard of the monastery, Abbot Gyatso comes towards him holding a long sword on his one hand and a bamboo stick on the other. The sword has a narrow blade of 1.2 meters and a long hilt, as well as a flaring tip.
"Get up, you lazy dog!"
Abbot Gyatso shouts. Although Abbot Gyatso speaks of Huang as a lazy dog, his words are more about making fun of Huang than insulting him, and that's why Huang takes no insult to Abbot Gyatso's words, and even laughs about them sometimes.
Huang, scared to death, shouts. He was still asleep when Abbot Gyatso shouted at him, and that's why he was so scared.
"We are going to practice, idiot!"
Abbot Gyatso throws the sword to Huang, who catches it while on the air with ease, and says "I will fight you with the bamboo stick! Attack me!"
Huang indeed rushes with his sword against Abbot Gyatso, but before he could reach the old monk, Abbot Gyatso's bamboo stick flickered and stabbed his wrist. Huang felt the sudden pain on his wrist and dropped his sword.
Abbot Gyatso, very angry with the incompetence of his student, shouts. "Pick up the sword and attack me again!"
Huang tries to protest. He knows that he is no match for his teacher. However, when he sees the angry look of Abbot Gyatso, he decides to pick up the sword and attack again.
Once Huang picks up his sword, he points it at Abbot Gyatso and thrusts it towards him. As the sword sped forward, a loud sound could be heard, revealing the strength behind the thrust. However, Abbot Gyatso didn't even move his feet. His bamboo stick flickered again. This time he stabbed Huang's shoulder. The stab was so fast that even though it started after Huang's thrust, it arrived well before the thrust could reach him. Huang cried out in pain and let his sword fall on the ground once more. Huang looked at his teacher with a look that revealed how helpless he was.
Abbot Gyatso sighs. "I will not attack you again. But, I wonder how you shall accomplish anything with your minor skills! Anyway, go and carry water!"
Huang sighs and goes to carry water. Carrying water is not an easy task. He has to go to a well which is half an hour away and has to carry two huge wooden water buckets. And he has to repeat this task at least ten times, thus he has to walk and carry water for approximately 5 hours. It is a hard task, but it trains the muscles.
A few days later, Beijing, Imperial Palace, Emperor Qianlong's office
Heshen, the favorite official of Emperor Qianlong, rushes into his Emperor's office. Heshen is a middle aged man with a short black beard, a mustache and green eyes. He wears a full-cut black robe with a square, depicting a tiger, stretching from side to side, completely covering his chest and back. Heshen bows before the Emperor and shouts "Greetings, your Imperial Majesty!"
Qianlong says. "No need for such formalities, my friend."
"What task do you want me to do, my Lord?"
"I just want to speak with you."
"I would be more than happy to keep you company, Your Imperial Majesty."
"Good. Look at this poem."
Qianlong says while showing Heshen a poem he has written with calligraphic characters.
"Be close to the worthies and diligent in governance, today is the beginning;
How dare I say “peaceful” or make myself be negligent.
Spreading my policies and governing my people, it has been a long time;
Being cautious in cultivating myself and thinking of a lasting way, I should be very respectful.
Although it is said that there were ten thousand matters, the past year was long;
One has been respectful, I should just keep encouraging myself to advance day after day.
Heshen shouts. "It depicts in a truly magnificent way the burdens the Emperor has and how should he rule the Empire. It is truly a work of art and will go down in history. This poem shall serve for thousands of years to remind future Emperors of their duties to the Empire and the people."
Qianlong laughs. "That's why I like you so much. You are so good in flattering. Your words always make me happy."
"I can be so good in flattering only because you are doing such good work as an Emperor."
"Hahaha! You are truly a magnificent speaker! Anyway, I wanted to ask you something."
"What is it, my Lord?"
"Have you heard of the Wu family, which is headed by the Magistrate of Xining, Wu Li?"
"Yes, I've heard of them, and I've also visited them once."
"Well, they have a daughter, I've heard, named Xiang, that is 18 years old and quite a beauty, and Fuk'anggan has told me that she is the woman painted upon the vase Wu Li gave to me. Am I wrong?"
"No, your Imperial Majesty."
"So, that girl, have you ever seen her?"
"Once, my Lord."
"Is she as pretty as rumors say?"
"Well......she is the prettiest woman in all of Western China! Her beauty is outstanding."
"I want her!"
"I do not care how! I want her to be my concubine. Send an Imperial Envoy to tell Wu Li my order!"
"Yes, your Imperial Majesty. But, I believe that she has already taken a liking to...."
"What are you telling me?!"
"Nothing, my Lord. I will complete the order you gave me."
Gansu Province, Xining, Kumbum Monastery
Meanwhile, Huang is training in swordplay with Abbot Gyatso. Although his previous battle against Abbot Gyatso may have given someone the impression that Huang is not a good Kung Fu fighter, this is completely wrong. Huang lost because Abbot Gyatso is one of the greatest martial artists in the world. Huang is very skilled with both Kung Fu and Swordplay. Abbot Gyatso knows that Huang wants to visit his home. He has not seen his family for almost a whole year. But, Abbot Gyatso wants to test him before allowing him to leave.
Abbot Gyatso shouts. "Last year, when you wanted to visit your family, you had to fight 10 Monks. Now, if you want to visit again your family, you will have to defeat 30 Monks!"
"I will defeat them, teacher!"
Huang, very confident of his skills, says.
Immediately 30 Monks, all dressed with yellow robes and holding wooden spears, surround Huang. Huang pulls out his sword, the one he had previously used against Abbot Gyatso, and prepares to fight. Huang moves fast like the wind and his moves have the strength of a wild tiger. None of the Monks could last even three passes from him. Whenever Huang's sword moved, his opponents either lost their sword, or got stabbed in some delicate area. In less than two minutes, Huang had defeated all of the Monks. And that is quite a feat, considering that many of them are expert Kung Fu fighters.
Abbot Gyatso, clearly impressed, states. "Your skills, lazy dog, have improved much since last year. You can now leave."
Huang, smiling, replies. "In two weeks at most, I will be back."
And so, Huang leaves the Kumbum Monastery to go back to his family.
Beijing, Imperial Palace, Heshen's office
Heshen is quick in writing the Imperial Decree with which the beautiful daughter of Magistrate Wu Li, Wu Xiang, becomes the Emperor's concubine. Heshen knows that Emperor Qianlong is madly in love with her, since he does not stop staring at the vase depicting her. Heshen, having finished writing the Imperial Decree, calls an Imperial Envoy to his office. The man quickly runs into the Minister's office and bows before Heshen.
"Your Excellency, I am here!"
the man says.
Heshen replies. "I want you to take this Imperial Decree and announce it to the Wu family. Take 100 Imperial Guards with you and if the Wu family refuses to accept the Decree, His Imperial Majesty has ordered that you can massacre the entire Wu family, except for Wu Xiang. If anything happens to her, you and all your family members, including parents, grandparents, wive, children, brothers, cousins, uncles and whatever other relatives you have and their families, shall be executed by slow slicing. Same goes for all your close friends and their families. Understood?"
The next day, the Imperial Envoy, accompanied by 100 Imperial Guards, the elite Qing soldiers who are all Kung Fu Masters, begins his journey to Xining. They walk day and night and rest only a few hours every day, because they must complete their mission as fast as possible.
Five days later, Xining, Wu's Mansion
Huang, after almost a year, is finally able to see his family again. As he enters his family's mansion, his father, an old fat man wearing the black uniform that Manchu officials wear, runs towards him and embraces him.
"Huang'er (-er is a suffix used to call one's son)!"
Wu Li, with tears in his eyes, shouts as he embraces his son. "Huang'er! How have you been?"
"I've been alright, father."
Huang replies. "My Kung Fu has also improved. How about you?"
"I am quite well!"
Huang then sees his sister, Xiang. Xiang is a very beautiful young woman, just 18 years old. She is dressed in a pale green robe. She has long black hair, an oval face, large bright eyes and clear, white like snow, skin. Her face is pretty and her body is slender. Her lips are softer than the petals of a flower and redder. She is indeed the most beautiful woman in all of Western China. Xiang runs towards her brother and embraces him while shouting "Huang'ge (-ge is a suffix used to call one's elder brother)!"
Huang shouts. "I have not seen you for such a long time!"
Suddenly, a servant runs towards them and says "An Imperial Envoy, accompanied by tens of Imperial Guards, is coming!"
Wu Li is surprised to hear that. Why would the Emperor send an Imperial Envoy to meet them. Nevertheless, he must be polite to the Imperial Envoy, as he represents the Emperor, and so he quickly gathers all of his family and all of his servants and awaits for him at the entrance of the Mansion. When the Imperial Envoy arrives, Wu Li comes forward to meet him.
"Welcome, Imperial Envoy!"
Wu Li shouts. "I am honored to have you here."
"His Imperial Majesty, the Son of Heaven Emperor Qianlong, has ordered me to announce His Imperial Decree to you."
the Imperial Envoy says.
Upon saying this, all of the Wu family and all 100 Imperial Guards bow before the Imperial Envoy and shout "Long live, His Imperial Majesty, long live! Long live, His Imperial Majesty, long live! Long live, His Imperial Majesty, long live! Long live, long live, long live!"
Here is the Imperial Decree!"
the Imperial Envoy shouts. "His Imperial Majesty, the Son of Heaven Emperor Qianlong, thus decrees: Knowing of the great beauty of Miss Wu Xiang, daughter of Wu Li, head of the Wu family, We order that Miss Wu Xiang becomes Our Imperial Concubine. The Wu family will have to accept Our will. If they do accept, Our Imperial Majesty shall send a General along with 10,000 soldiers to escort Miss Wu Xiang to the Imperial Palace."
Wu Li is surprised and shocked, but he and his family bow before the Imperial Envoy and say "Long live, His Imperial Majesty, long live! Long live, His Imperial Majesty, long live! Long live, His Imperial Majesty, long live! Long live, long live, long live! We shall accept the Imperial Decree!"
A few hours later, Wu Xiang's room
When Wu Xiang heard the Imperial Decree, she immediately run to her room and locked herself in. Only after crying for a few hours, did she let her father to come inside. When her father found her, her eyes were red because of the hours she was crying and she had tears all over her beautiful face.
Wu Li, calmly, says. "I know you may not be happy about this, but being an Imperial Concubine is quite a high honor that only a few women have."
"I do not want that honor!"
Xiang shouts. "He is in his mid-forties! He is an old man. And even if he was younger, I would not have wanted this honor because I am already in love with Chengzi."
Xiang is referring to Yang Chengzi, a Qing General who is serving under General Zhao Hui in his campaign against the Dzungar Khanate. Yang Chengzi has become one of the most famous Qing Generals because of his actions in the Xinjiang Campaign. He has gained a reputation as a very smart and brave man. His excellent martial arts and his handsome looks have also played a role in making him famous. Yang Chengzi had passed Xining, along with his army, when the Qing Empire started it's invasion of Xinjiang. He had met Xiang, and the two young people fell in love. Chengzi had made a pledge that once the war was over, he would marry Xiang. But, now, Emperor Qianlong wants Xiang.
"Forget about him!"
Wu Li shouts. "He is just a General. He has no power over the Emperor. The Emperor is the Son of Heaven. He can order whatever he wants. And if we refuse, he may massacre our entire family. I cannot allow the entire Wu family to be exterminated just because you have fallen in love with a stupid General!"
"He is no stupid!!"
"Alright, alright. But come to my position! How can I allow the entire Wu family to be wiped out?"
"Alright. I shall sacrifice myself and my happiness to save my family."
Meanwhile, Huang, who had heard the whole conversation, enters the room and says "Do not worry, sister. I have an other way!"
Huang runs away and Wu Li only manages to shout "Do not do anything stupid!"
to his son.
A week later, late in night, Beijing, Imperial Palace
It is late in night and four Imperial Guards guard the entrance to Emperor Qianlong's office. Emperor Qianlong has the habit of working until very late in the night and is checking some military reports about the war in Xinjiang right now. The four Imperial Guards are no amateurs. They are the 'Four Taoist Swords'
, a group of four Taoist Priests from the Wudang Sect who work for the Imperial Court. They all wear Blue Taoist Robes and carry a long sword. Suddenly, a man jumps in front of them. That man is Huang, who had managed to sneak into the Imperial Palace, a very difficult task but not impossible for a highly skilled Kung Fu fighter. One of the Taoists, seeing him, shouts "Assassin!"
and then the four Taoists charge at Huang.
One of the Taoist Priests charges at Huang with his sword, but he dodges the attack. Huang shouts and slashes his sword three times against the Taoist from his upper left straight downward. The slashes are powerful and fast, but the Taoist is too agile to be caught. A simple jump gets him out of the way. He immediately follows with two slashes. Huang stands still with a grim smile as he lightly moves his sword to block the attacks. Huang's sword, then, directly thrusts at the Taoist's throat. The thrust was too fast to be avoided. The Taoist's throat spurted blood and his body convulsed. He quickly fell on the ground, dead.
A second Taoist attacks Huang. The Taoist cried, lifted his sword and sliced down towards his opponent's head. Huang dodged while his sword made a slash from left to right. Then Huang made a vertical cut which opened up the Taoist from throat to crotch. A third Taoist attacks Huang. This time, the Taoist throws five poisonous darts at Huang, but he quickly dodges all of them. The Taoist then tries to kick Huang's head, but Huang kicks his genetic organs, causing him to fall down. The Taoist quickly gets up and attacks once again. The Taoist attacks again and again Huang, until Huang's sword breaks his sword with a furious and swift move. Huang's sword, then, flashed and cut away not only the Taoist's right arm, but his right shoulder. Then the sword impaled his heart, causing him to vomit blood and die. Huang slightly rises his left hand and, holding his sword in his right hand, thrusts towards the fourth Taoist. He moves his sword and stabs the man's chest, killing him.
Meanwhile, tens of Qing soldiers, mainly spearmen, who had heard the sound, rush towards the Emperor's office. Huang quickly enters Qianlong's office and threatens Qianlong, who was ready to leave, with his sword. Huang's sword looks straight at the Emperor's throat and so Qianlong, who is surprised but soon regains his calmness, shouts "Back off!"
. His soldiers have no choice but to obey.
"What do you want?"
"I am Wu Huang, brother of Wu Xiang. My sister is in love with General Yang Chengzi, a loyal and brave man, but you ruin her happiness and you want her to become your concubine by force. I will not allow that!"
"Well, alright. We can talk this over. I am sure that we can solve the problem. Just lower your sword."
"No! You will have to allow my sister to marry Chengzi!"
"Alright. I give you my word. An Emperor's word cannot be taken back."
"Do I look like stupid to you?! Issue an Imperial Decree, in which you annul your previous Decree and bless the marriage between Chengzi and my sister! And this time, announce the Decree all over the Empire."
"Do you know that if you murder me, you and your entire family will be exterminated!!?"
"But, along with us, you will have also died."
Qianlong sighs. He then shouts "Call Fuk'anggan to come over here!"
Indeed, a few minutes later Fuk'anggan arrives. He bows before Qianlong and says "I am here, Your Imperial Majesty!"
"Order Heshen to write a Decree, according to which I bless the marriage between General Yang Chengzi and Miss Wu Xiang. Announce the Decree all over the Empire! And fast!!"
Qianlong, furious that he will lose the woman he madly loves, shouts.
A few minutes pass and Fuk'anggan arrives again, shouting "The Decree has been announced! The Decree has been announced!"
"Then, I will leave!"
Huang, laughing, says. He then bows before Qianlong, shouts "Long live, Your Imperial Majesty, long live!"
and leaves. When Huang leaves, Qianlong slaps very hard Fuk'anggan and says "You idiot, why was he able to sneak in the Palace so easily?! If he wanted to kill me, I would have been dead now! Idiot! Stupid!"
"I am sorry, Your Imperial Majesty! I am sorry!"
Qianlong decides to forgive Fuk'anggan. For an other man, he may have not done so, but Fuk'anggan is the favorite General of Qianlong and, according to some rumors, he may be his illegitimate son, so he has to forgive him.
The next day, Qianlong's office
The next day, Qianlong calls Heshen to his office. Heshen quickly comes to the his Emperor's office. When he enters, he bows before him, says "Greetings, Your Imperial Majesty!"
and asks "What are your orders?"
"What do you think of this poem?"
Qianlong asks while showing Heshen an other of his poems.
"Quite a good poem!"
"Slowly in spring, thick snow-cloud opens;
[In front of the] Taihe Palace, nobles (officials) are in rows.
Being diligent in governance, I dare not to go against my earlier [thoughts of] being watchful and self-encouraging.
To eat full and to wear warm, this is my permanent wish for the people;
To keep being cautious in order to remain in peace, [this thought] of mine becomes even more earnest.
On the silk-covered desk, I write this on a colorful paper to test my brush.
Heshen says while clapping. "It really conveys what being an Emperor means."
Qianlong laughs. "Heshen, you really made my mood. I was very sad and you made me happy. That's why you are my most favored Minister."
"Why are you sad, my Lord? Because of that woman?"
"Yes. What good is to have the Empire when I cannot have the woman I love?"
"My Emperor, do not think so much about a woman. You can find many other beautiful women. The most important thing is to have you to lead our Qing Empire to new heights of glory. Only with you as our Emperor can our Empire prosper."
"I have an idea to get Xiang without going back to my word."
"I know what you think, my Lord!"
Heshen smiles. "You want me to send some Imperial Guards, dressed as Bandits, to kidnap her, right?"
"Yes! That's why I favor you so much! You can read my thoughts! This way, I can have Xiang and no one can accuse me that I went back on my word. Also..."
"Let me guess! You want me to send a secret Imperial Decree to General Zhao Hui to murder Yang Chengzi, right?"
"Hahaha! Indeed! Indeed!"
Five days later, Xinjiang, Zhao Hui's tent
Zhao Hui, a tall fat man wearing a military armour, made from a multitude of small pieces of steel that are then interlocked and riveted to a leather backing, that covers the torso, the shoulders and the thighs while remaining comfortable and flexible enough to allow movement, sits on his office. He has just got an secret Imperial Decree ordering him to murder Yang Chengzi. "It saddens me that such an able General has to be killed, but it is my duty to do so."
Zhao Hui thinks.
Yang Chengzi enters his superior's tent. He had been ordered to do so. Yang Chengzi is really as handsome as rumors say and has an aristocratic look, despite the fact that his face is scarred by all kinds of weapons. Chengzi always fights along with his men and never sits back, like most other Qing Generals do. As Chengzi enters the tent, he sees Zhao Hui sitting on his office and two Imperial Guards guarding him.
"What is it, General?"
Instead of a reply, the two Imperial Guards throw five poisonous darts each at Chengzi. Although Chengzi is a great Kung Fu master and he would have been able to dodge them, the surprise of being attacked by the Imperial Guards did not allow him to dodge them. The Imperial Guards, then, grab an iron spear each and quickly impale Chengzi's chest. Chengzi vomits blood and shouts in pain. A few seconds later, he is dead. He is dead because he dared to fall in love with the woman the Emperor loves.
Four days later, Xining, Kumbum Monastery
Huang has returned back to the Kumbum Monastery and trains in swordplay with Abbot Gyatso. As the two men fight, Abbot Gyatso using a bamboo stick and Huang using his sword, a young Monk, wearing a yellow robe, rushes towards them.
"Buddha bless you!"
the Monk says. "Abbot, brother Huang, Miss Xiang has been abducted by bandits!"
Huang shouts. He is clearly very angry and his face is red because of his anger. "How could this have been done?"
"I do not know."
the young Monk, with tears in his eyes, replies.
"Buddha bless you!"
Abbot Gyatso says. "Huang, you can go and investigate what happened to your sister. I will pray every day for your success."
Beijing, Imperial Palace, in a small room
Emperor Qianlong is led by an Imperial Guard to the room where Xiang is held. Although the room is small, it is very luxurious and would make many rich officials envious. Emperor Qianlong orders the Imperial Guard to leave and enters alone inside the room. There, he sees for the first time the woman he loves so much. She is even more beautiful than her painting. When Qianlong enters the room, Xiang looks at him with hate.
"Your beauty matches that of Xi Shi and Diaochan (two of the Four Beauties of Ancient China, who are said to have had legendary beauty)!"
Emperor Qianlong says.
"I do not need compliments from despicable tyrants like you!"
"You know why I had my men to bring you here? Because I love you. I love you so much that if I had to choose between the Empire and you, I would have chosen you!"
Xiang does not reply. "Bring me a zither!"
Qianlong shouts and soon an Imperial Guard brings a zither to the Emperor. He then leaves.
"I will play a song for you."
Qianlong says. He then starts playing the zither. It's sound is magical and Xiang, even though she hates Qianlong, admits that the sound of the zither is one of the most beautiful she has ever heard. Qianlong then sings a love poem from the Han Dynasty.
"I want to be your love for ever and ever,
Without break or decay.
When the hills are all flat,
The rivers are all dry.
When it thunders in winter,
When it snows in summer
When heaven and earth mingle,
Not till then will I part from you.
Qianlong's voice conveys those feelings of love wonderfully. Qianlong, when he finishes reciting the poem, looks at Xiang's eyes and says "Did you like my song?"
she replies with tears in her eyes. "That song really describes what I feel for Chengzi."
Hearing this, the Emperor is crushed and leaves the room. That woman can never be his, and he knows that. While he remains calm, when he leaves the room, the Imperial Guard guarding the room notices a few tears in Qianlong's eyes.
A few hours later, Xining, Wu's Mansion
Meanwhile, a few hours later, Huang arrives to the Wu's Mansion. When he arrives, his father rushes towards him and, crying, he shouts "Huang'er, find me Xiang! Find her!"
"Do not worry father!"
Huang, with tears all over his face, shouts. "I will find her!"
"During the kidnapping, we managed to kill a bandit. Do you want to see his dead body?"
Wu Li then brings his son to a room where the dead body of the bandit is lying on the ground.
"I recognize him!"
Huang shouts. "He is 'Wind Whip'! I saw him once three years ago, when I accompanied my teacher to Beijing. He works for the Imperial Court!"
Wu Li cannot believe that the Emperor was the one who kidnapped his daughter.
At the same time, a servant enters the room and says "Bad news! General Chengzi is dead!"
"The officials say he died from illness, but some relatives I've got, who are serving in the army, say that he was murdered!"
"The damn Emperor!!"
Huang, furious, shouts. "I will murder this tyrant with my own hands!"
The next day, Beijing, Imperial Garden
The next day, Emperor Qianlong has Xiang to accompany him for a walk in the Imperial Garden. The Imperial Garden is truly magnificent. It has beautiful blossom trees, fountains and rivers and brooks and beautiful meadows. It is truly a magical site that bewitches anyone who sees it. Qianlong and Xiang are walking alone, without being accompanied by Imperial Guards.
"Is it not beautiful?"
Xiang replies. "But I would prefer to be in the barren and hot deserts of Xinjiang with my beloved Chengzi than being here with you."
"What is love? It makes man happier than the Gods and hurts him more than war and famine."
"Love is something that you will never be able to fully understand!"
"What is the point of loving so much this Chengzi? He has died."
Xiang, hearing the news, is so shocked, that she is ready to fall down and almost loses her consciousness. Qianlong embraces her before she falls down and says "Are you alright?"
"How can I continue to live when my love has died? I prefer death than to live alone."
"No matter how powerful and rich you are, no matter how poetic and madly in love with me you are, you will never be able to replace my Chengzi, my one and true love."
Qianlong sighs and escorts Xiang back to her room. Not matter how much he loves her, she will never be his. As Qianlong escorts Xiang back to her room, he sings a love song by poet Yuan Haowen.
Two days later, Beijing, Mao's Tavern
Among the earthly mortals, I ask: what is Love
That engages couples through life and death?
This flying pair, travelling from south to north,
Had old wings, which survived several summers
and winters. Staying paired is happy,
But to sever, bitter: a trap in itself where devoted lovers
Still long to be trapped. He must have had a thought:
For whom shall I trail a forlorn shadow flying over
Ten thousand miles of grey clouds
And mountains of night snow?
On this road by Fen River, the old pipes and drums
Are gone. Only bleak smoke and vast woods are left.
Vain to evoke the ancient ghosts. The Mountain Spirit
Also wails in vain. Heaven envies the geese,
Not believing they’ll return to dust like orioles
And swallows. There they’ll remain, for a thousand
Autumns, awaiting the poets of later generations
Who are coming, rhapsodizing and quaffing
Just for a view of the wild geese’s tomb."
Huang enters Mao's tavern. The wooden tavern is full of people who chat with their friends and drink wine. Huang knows that this may be the last day of his life. So, he will drink more than he has ever drunk and he will eat all kinds of food he has never eaten. He sits on a wooden table and a thin waiter soon comes.
"What do you want, sir?"
the waiter, smiling, asks.
"Bring me three jars of wine and the best food you've got!"
"Of course! Of course!"
The waiter soon brings the wine and the dishes. And so Huang drinks one jar after the other while singing "Cold the gale blows by the frigid River Yi, the hero sets off, never to return again!"
, the song sung by the assassin Jing Ke before he set off to assassinate the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang Di. The assassination attempt failed, Jing Ke died, but he became a hero.
The next day, early evening, Beijing, Imperial Palace
Huang arrives at the Imperial Palace. The entrance of the Palace is guarded by three Imperial Guards, all armed with long swords. One of them approaches Huang and asks "What do you want?"
"I want to kill the tyrant Emperor!"
Upon hearing this, the Imperial Guard attacks Huang with his sword, but he jumps in the air, dodging the sword attack, lands behind the man and hits him very hard on the head with his right elbow, killing him. Huang, then, pulls out his sword and impales the second guard's chest. Finally, he directly thrusts at the third guard's throat with his sword, killing him. With the three Imperial Guards dead, Huang enters the Imperial Palace and rushes towards the Throne Room of Emperor Qianlong.
Imperial Palace, Throne Room
Emperor Qianlong is sitting on his Golden Throne and discusses the war in Xinjiang with his Ministers, when Fuk'anggan rushes in the room and bows before the Emperor.
"Your Imperial Majesty!"
Fuk'anggan shouts. "This Huang guy has entered into the Palace!"
the Emperor, furious, inquires. "All Ministers, leave the Throne Room! Fuk'anggan, lead 100 Imperial Guards here and set an ambush! Now! Fast!"
Meanwhile, Huang walks towards the Throne Room through the long marble stairs of the Palace, which are on the entrance and lead directly to the Throne Room. Fifty soldiers had tried to stop him before he arrived at those stairs, but in just a few minutes, he had killed all of them, as none of them was skilled enough to last even two passes from him.
At the entrance of the Throne Room, an old man with long white hair and beard, with sturdy stature and wearing a black robe, stops him.
"I am Wang!"
the old man shouts. "I am leader of the 'Iron Palm' Sect! Who dares to fight me?!"
Leader Wang of the 'Iron Palm' Sect is one of the greatest martial artists in all of China. He has been working for the court for at least four decades and has proved himself by killing thousands of Kung Fu experts with his own hands.
Huang shouts. "And I will kill you!!"
Wang kicks with his right leg three times Huang. Huang dodges his attacks the first two times, but the third time he is kicked in the head. Huang vomits a lot of blood and falls on the ground, but he quickly gets up. Huang, with great speed, punches his fists twice in the man's stomach. Wang is pushed back and Huang kicks him thrice in the chest. But Wang is not someone who is easily defeated. He quickly counterattacks. He punches his right palm in Huang's chest, pushing him back and causing him to vomit even more blood. The palm was so strong that Huang's entire chest became bruised. Wang, seeing that Huang is injured, cries and rushes against him, but Huang kicks him in his genetic organs. As Wang shouts in pain, Huang grabs him by the hair and crashes his head on his right knee, breaking it and killing the man.