The Number One Apprentice from Huashan Sword School, part 3

  “After Little Apprentice Sister rescued that Young Master Lin,” Lao Denuo replied, “she wanted to follow them secretly and wait for a chance to rescue the Lin couple. I pleaded with her, ‘Yu Renyan offended you the other day, and the Young Master Lin helped you. You felt gratitude and rescued him, that’s enough payback already. The score between the Qingcheng Sword School and the Fortune Prestige Escort House came from the previous generation; why should we interfere?’ Little Apprentice Sister finally agreed. Then the two of us went back to Fuzhou and saw over ten Qingcheng apprentices guarding the Fortune Prestige Escort House. 

   “That was somewhat strange. Everyone in the Escort House had fled in a rush; even the Lin couple was gone; what was the Qingcheng Sword School afraid of? Little Apprentice Sister and I could not figure it out and became quite curious, so we decided to investigate. We figured that since Qingcheng apprentices was guarding the place so tightly, it would be very hard to get in at night, so we sneaked into the garden at dusk while they were changing shifts for dinner. After we got into the Escort House, we saw many Qingcheng apprentices busily rummaging through chests and cupboards; some were taking down walls; others were digging up the ground. It seemed that they had turned the entire Escort House upside down. There was gold and treasure the Escorts did not have time to take with them, but those were just thrown to one side and ignored. They must have been looking for something very important, but what was it?”

   “The Evil-Resisting Sword Art Manuscript!” four Huashan apprentices said almost in unison.

  “Correct!” Lao Denuo said. “Little Apprentice Sister and I came to that same conclusion. It was obvious that they started searching right after they took over the Fortune Prestige Escort House. Seeing them all searching and sweating so hard, we knew that they hadn’t gotten any results.”

   “So did they find it eventually?” Lu Dayou asked.

  “Little Apprentice Sister and I both wanted to see the outcome,” Lao Denuo said, “but those Qingcheng people searched so thoroughly that they didn’t even forget to search the outhouses. Little Apprentice Sister and I really had nowhere to hide and had to sneak away.”

  “Second apprentice brother, do you think Master Yu was making a fuss over a trivial matter by going there and leading the operation himself?” fifth apprentice Gao Genming asked.

Lao Denuo answered, “Master Yu’s teacher had lost to Lin Yuantu’s ‘Evil-Resisting Sword Art;’ whether Lin Zhennan was an unworthy descendant or an even stronger opponent, outsiders would not have known. It might not have been proper for Master Yu to only send a couple of apprentices to settle the score. He went to Fuzhou himself and also urged all his apprentices to practice the sword art, then prepared in advance to start the attack. I wouldn’t really call this making a fuss. But from what I saw, I think that for him, revenge was only of secondary importance, while finding that sword art manuscript was the main priority.”

  “Second apprentice brother, you saw them practicing the ‘Evil-Resisting Sword Art’ in Pine-Wind Temple. If they had already known how to use this sword art, why bother looking for the sword art manuscript? Perhaps they were looking for something else,” fourth apprentice Shi Daizi suggested.

  “I don’t think so.” Lao Denuo shook his head. “What else besides secret martial art techniques could have interested Master Yu, a master of martial arts, so much that he would be willing to spend so much effort on it? Later at the Yushan town in Jiangxi Province, Little Apprentice Sister and I met them again and heard Master Yu asking messenger apprentices from other provinces whether they had found the thing. He looked worried, so it seemed that nobody had actually found it yet.”

Shi Daizi still could not understand. He scratched his head and asked, “They already knew how to use this set of sword arts, why would they bother looking for the sword art manuscript? How strange!”

   “Think about it, fourth apprentice brother,” Lao Denuo explained. “Years ago, Lin Yuantu was able to defeat Evergreen; the sword art must have been truly outstanding. But not only was the ‘Evil-Resisting Sword Art’ that Evergreen remembered nothing out of the ordinary, Master Yu also saw with his own eyes that the Kung Fu skills of the Lin family were not even worth mentioning. Something was just not making sense.”

   “What do you mean?” Shi Daizi asked.

   “There must be some secrets to the ‘Evil-Resisting Sword Art’ of the Lin Family,” Lao Denuo exclaimed. “Although the moves appear average, the power of the sword art could be very strong. And Lin Zhennan did not get to learn these secrets.”

Shi Daizi thought for a while and nodded, “That’s right. But secret methods for sword arts are normally only passed down by one’s master orally. Lin Yuantu has been dead for decades, and even if they could find his coffin and dig up his body, it wouldn’t help them at all.”

   “The secret code for our own sword art is taught orally by Master in spoken words, with no written parts, but not every school or clan necessarily has to be like that,” Lao Denuo said.

   “Second apprentice brother, I still don’t understand,” Shi Daizi said. “It was logical that before their attack they would want the manuscript for the ‘Evil-Resisting Sword Art.’ Know the enemy and know yourself; this way, you can win every battle. They wanted to defeat the ‘Evil-Resisting Sword Art,’ so it was better if they knew the secret within the sword art. But the Qingcheng Sword School has already captured the Lin couple, and the Headquarters and Escort House branches have all been wiped out. What score is there left to settle? Even if there really was a powerful secret in the sword art, why should they bother looking for it?”  (To be continued)

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