Heart Crushing Palm, part 6

   “‘Cross the Line and Die?’ I just crossed the line, what are you going to do?” Lin Pingzhi yelled out He walked across the line again and stood straight with pride, sword in hand. 

   “Yes, yes. These damn thugs only bully the weak but fear the strong. They don’t even have the guts to come and face my son,” Madam Wang said to Lin Pingzhi tenderly. She grabbed his hand and dragged him back through the gate. 

Lin Pingzhi was still trembling with fiery anger. After going back to the bedroom, he could no longer hold back his tears. Bending over the bed, he started to cry. 

   “Son, you are very brave. You are a true man of the Lin family. There’s nothing we can do if the enemy doesn’t have the guts to face us openly. Why don’t you go take a rest?” Lin Zhennan patted him on the head, trying to comfort him, but Lin Pingzhi continued to cry until he finally dozed off. 

After dinner, Lin Pingzhi overheard his parents talking. It was something about some escorts who were talking about digging a tunnel out from the back garden. This way, they could escape without crossing the line of blood. If they were trapped in the Escort House, all of them would die, sooner or later. 

   “If they want to dig a tunnel out, let them,” Madam Wang sniffed, “but I am afraid…afraid that…Humph!” 

Lin Zhennan and Lin Pingzhi both understood what she meant. The escorts would most likely end up just like the five escorts who tried to ride away – losing their lives earlier, rather than later. 

   “Why don’t I go have a look? If it really works, then it might be a good way for all the escorts and henchmen to escape,” Lin Zhennan said. He went out, but soon returned, saying, “They were just talking about it, but no one really dared to dig.” 

That night, the three went to bed very early. Everyone in the Escort House had resigned themselves to their fates, and no one cared to stand guard for the night. 

Lin Pingzhi slept till about midnight, when he suddenly felt somebody patting his shoulder. He jumped up and instantly reached for the sword under his pillow. Then he heard his mother’s voice.

   “Pingzhi, it’s me. Your father has been gone for a good while and still hasn’t returned. Let’s go look for him.” 

   “Where did Dad go?” Lin Pingzhi asked in surprise. 

   “I don’t know!” Madam Wang replied.

The two grabbed their weapons and walked out of the room. They first peeked into the big hall, only to find that it was filled with candlelight and a dozen gambling escorts. Everyone had his heart in his throat for the last couple of days; finally realizing there was really nothing to do to improve the situation, they just stopped worrying about their safety. Madam Wang gestured Lin Pingzhi to follow her, and then left.

Mother and son looked everywhere, but still couldn’t find Lin Zhennan. They became more and more worried, but were afraid to alert the household. The news of the Chief Master’s disappearance at a time when everyone was scared to death would be disastrous. The situation would be completely out of control. 

Lin Zhennan cut open escort Zhuo's chest
Lin Zhennan cut open escort Zhuo's chest

The two searched all the way to the rear of the Escort House, when Lin Pingzhi suddenly heard a faint noise coming from the armory to the left. Fluttering candlelight shone from behind the window. Walking quietly to the window, he poked a hole in the paper with his fingertip, and looked inside; then he called out happily. 

   “Dad, there you are!” 

Lin Zhennan was hunched over something shielded by his body. When he heard the call, he turned his head back. Lin Pingzhi’s smile froze when he saw the terrified expression on his father’s face. His heart started thumping hard, and he just froze there, mouth wide open. 

Madam Wang pushed the door open and went in. There was blood everywhere. Three benches were put together side by side and a body lay across them. The body was completely stripped, and the chest and belly were cut open. Madam Wang looked at the face and recognized it as Escort Huo, one of the five escorts who rode away and then was carried back dead. Lin Pingzhi walked in and closed the door behind him.

 Removing the bloody heart from the chest cavity and holding it in his hand, Lin Zhennan exclaimed, “The heart was crushed to pieces. Just as I expected, it was…it was….”   

Madam Wang completed the sentence for him, “It was the “Heart Crushing Palm” technique of the Qingcheng Sword School!”

Lin Zhennan nodded and then lowered his head in silence.

By then Lin Pingzhi finally understood that his father was performing an autopsy on the body to try to determine the cause of death.

Lin Zhennan put the heart back into its cavity, wrapped the body with oilskin, and then placed it in a corner. He wiped the blood off his hands with the oilskin and went back to the bedroom with his wife and son.

“The enemy is definitely an elite master hand from the Qingcheng Sword School. Wife, what do you think we should do?” he asked.

“The whole trouble started because of me, I’ll go challenge him to a fight. If I can’t win, then just let him kill me,” Lin Pingzhi bellowed.

Lin Zhennan shook his head. “This person can crush someone’s heart into pieces with a single hit without leaving any sign of damage to the body. His Kung Fu skills are remarkable. He must be a first-class master in the Qingcheng Sword School. If he had wanted to kill you, you’d be dead long ago. I think he is being deliberately cruel. He’s not just simply going to kill us.”

   “What does he want?” Lin Pingzhi asked.  (To be continued)

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