White Horse Neighing in the West Wind Chapter 12

White Horse Neighing in the West Wind Chapter 12

Since there were two people riding on the horse, it could not gallop very swiftly. The five bandits were coming closer. Swoosh! Swoosh! Swoosh! Three arrows whizzed past them. The bandits wanted to capture her alive. Their intention was not to shoot her to death but to intimidate her so that she would stop the horse.

Li Wenxiu thought, “In any case, I have already decided to perish with these five bandits. So let this uncle flee alone!” She leapt off the horse, and slapped the horse’s buttocks, calling, “White horse, white horse! Escape with uncle quickly!” The old man was stunned. He did not expect her to be so kind-hearted as to tell him to escape alone. He hesitated, and in a low voice said, “Catch hold of the needles in my hands. Be careful that you don’t get pricked by their tips.” Bending her head, she saw him hold a thin needle between two fingers from his right hand. She stretched her hand out and took the needle, but did not understand its purpose. The old man said, “There is an intense poison applied to the tip of this needle. If those bandits capture you, prick them lightly and they will die.” Li Wenxiu was shocked. She had seen him holding the needle earlier, but did not take much notice of it. Apparently, if he had found her answers to his questions unsatisfactory, he would’ve pricked her with the poisoned needle. The old man then urged the horse on.

The five bandits approached, and surrounded Li Wenxiu. When they saw that she was such a beautiful young girl, none of them thought of pursuing the old man.

The five bandits leapt off their horses, and grinned hideously. Li Wenxiu’s heart beat furiously. Although that Old Uncle had said that the poisoned needle could send someone to his doom, but it was such a small needle, how could she use it to hold off these five fierce-looking men in front of her? Even if she could prick one of them to death, four more men remained. Or should she prick herself to death to prevent herself from being humiliated by them. One of them shouted, “What a pretty little girl!” Then two of them pounced on her. With a hard punch, the man coming from the left felled the other man, shouting angrily, “Are you vying with me?” Then he grabbed hold of Li Wenxiu’s waist. Flustered, she pricked his right arm, crying, “Evil bandit, let go of me.” The burly man gazed blankly at her with wide eyes. He had suddenly become immobile. The man, who had fallen, stretched out both hands and grabbed hold of her leg. With a strong pull, he caused her to fall to the ground. Propping herself with her left hand, and stretching out her right hand, she pricked the man in the chest. That man was laughing uproariously, and suddenly his laughter stopped. He became immobile: his mouth hung open and his body was frozen.

Li Wenxiu scrambled up, and quickly jumped onto the back of one of the horses, riding towards the hills. When the remaining three bandits saw the two men freeze suddenly as if under an evil spell, they thought that she had sealed their acupoints. As they thought that this young girl had powerful martial arts skills, they did not dare to pursue her. Since all three of them did not know how to seal and unseal acupoints, their only option was to bring their two companions to see their leaders. But both bodies felt cold to the touch. They tried to detect a hint of breath, but the two men had already stopped breathing and were dead.

The three men were so shocked that they were speechless for a long time. One of them, surnamed Song, was more knowledgeable than the rest. He undid both men’s clothes to take a look. One of them had a large, round black patch on his arm. In the middle of the black patch was a very tiny hole made by a needle. The other had a black patch on his chest. He suddenly understood: “The girl used a needle to prick them, and there was strong poison applied on the needle.” The man surnamed Quan said, “Then there’s nothing to be afraid of! We’ll aim projectiles at her from far away, and not let that little broad come near us.” The last bandit, surnamed Yun, said, “Since we know about her deceitful scheme, we have no fear of falling into her trap!” Although they spoke bravely like this, they were in no hurry to go after her. They discussed their plan of action as they rode into the valley both anxiously and warily.

Li Wenxiu had been pleasantly surprised by both her successful pricks. But she also realised that the remaining three men would soon find out. Once they were on their guard, it would not be easy for her to use her poisoned needle again. As she was riding, she suddenly heard someone from the left call out, “Come over here!” It was that old man’s voice.

Li Wenxiu dismounted hurriedly. She heard his voice coming from inside a cave, and immediately darted into it. The old man was standing at the mouth of the cave. He asked, “How was it?” Li Wenxiu said, “I… I pricked two of… two of the bandits, and quickly escaped.” The old man replied, “Excellent, let’s go inside.” After entering the cave, she realised that it was very deep. She followed the old man inside. The deeper they went, the narrower the cave became.

After walking a distance of about ten zhang, they saw that the cave widened into a cavern which could hold one to two hundred people. The old man said, “We’ll stand guard at the narrow mouth of this cavern, and those three bandits won’t dare to enter. This is known as ‘when one man guards the entrance, a thousand men are unable to breach it’.” Worried, Li Wenxiu said, “But we won’t be able to leave either. Are there other passageways in this cave leading outside?” the old man replied, “There are other passageways, but they do not lead outside.”

Li Wenxiu recalled what had happened earlier, and there was a lingering fear in her heart. She queried, “Uncle, those two bandits became immobile after being pricked by me. Were they really dead?” The old man answered proudly, “How can anyone survive after being pricked by my poisoned needles?” Li Wenxiu put out her hand and returned the poisoned needle to him. The old man was about to take it with his outstretched when he suddenly withdrew it, instructing, “Put it on the ground.” Li Wenxiu obeyed his orders. Then he said, “Move back three steps.” Li Wenxiu felt rather strange, but moved back by three steps. Only then did the old man bend down and pick the poisoned needle up, and placed it in a tube holding needles. Li Wenxiu realised that he was full of suspicion, and wanted to prevent her from attacking him suddenlywith the poisoned needle.

The old man said, “We’re strangers to each other, so why did you give up your horse to me and tell me to escape alone?” Li Wenxiu answered, “I don’t know either. I saw that you are ill and was afraid that the bandits would harm you.” His body quivered, and he said fiercely, “How did you know that I am… I am…” At this point, his facial muscles convulsed, and his expression was one of pain. Beads of perspiration as large as soya beans were formed on his forehead. Suddenly, he gave a loud cry, and rolled about on the ground, moaning loudly. Li Wenxiu was too shocked to react. Seeing his body twist into the shape of a bow, and his limbs in spasms, she said gently, “Is your back aching very badly?” Using her hands, she beat his back lightly, then massaged and rubbed his arm and leg joints. The pain which he felt was significantly lessened, and expressed his thanks by nodding his head. After a while, all the pain he felt had vanished. He stood up, and inquired, “Do you know who I am?” Li Wenxiu answered, “I don’t know.” The old man said, “I am a Han; my surname is Hua and given name, Hui. I am from Jiangnan, and people from the pugilistic world call me ‘One Finger Shakes Jiangnan’.” Li Wenxiu replied, “Oh, you are Old Uncle Hua.” Hua Hui asked, “You’ve never heard of my name?” He was slightly disappointed. In his heyday, he, ‘One Finger Shakes Jiangnan’, caused much sensation on both the northern and southern banks of the great river. There was not one pugilist who did not know his name. When he looked at Li Wenxiu, he saw that she did not have an expression of great surprise on her face.