Chapter 18: Darkness and Jealousy

Legendary Book of Sun-Moon Swordplay

Characters appearing in this chapter:
Ekin Cheng Yee Kin—Yeung Lap Chun (Yang Li Jun) 楊立俊
Kristy Yeung Gong Yu—Lam Suk Yu (Lin Shu Yu) 林淑瑜
Roger Kwok Chun On—Kong Dai Hei (Jiang Da Xi) 江大嘻
Felix Wong Yat Wah—Wong Hap Ming 黃俠明 (gentleman at tea stand)
Gilbert Lam Wai Sun—Lam Yik Lun (Lin Yi Lun) 林億倫
Louis Koo Tin Lok—Gu Yat Fei (Gu Ri Fei) 古日飛
Annie Man Chung Han—So Siu Han (Su Xiao Xian) 蘇小嫻
Paul Chun Pui—Royal Physician Chun Ying (Qin Ying) 秦鷹
Gigi Lai Chi—Lam Suk Chi (Lin Shu Zi) 林淑姿

BAMBOO FOREST
OUTSIDE BAMBOO COTTAGE

A gentle breeze sent the wind chimes hanging on the front porch of the bamboo cottage swinging haphazardly, filling the air with a light musical tinkling. At a nearby bush, a rabbit hopped around, sticking its furry nose out of the thick shrubbery to sniff the air. The sharp chirping of birds echoed throughout the forest, the sweet melody blending in perfectly with the continuous gurgling sound of the nearby brook.

Not far away from the cottage, leaves could be heard rustling as a white robed young man raced across the treetops, his fan expertly cutting through the air in rapid and precise movements. With a powerful flick of the wrist, he flung his fan toward the grove of bamboo stalks. The fan made a shrill, swishing noise as it sliced through several bamboo stalks upon contact before deflecting off the sturdy, ancient willow tree and returned to its owner.

A few paces away, Kong Dai Hei stood as still as a statue, the stack of firewood in his arms forgotten as he watched Yeung Lap Chun’s practice session with fascination. Sensing Dai Hei’s presence, Lap Chun playfully sent his fan twirling in the air toward Dai Hei, who started running away in panic, every now and then turning around to gawk at the rapidly approaching weapon in disbelief.

Dai Hei screamed at the top of his lungs. “Ahhhhh! Big Brother Yeung!” He tore around in circles, his pile of firewood scattered everywhere on the ground.

Lap Chun chuckled, “I told you to never secretly watch someone while he is practicing his martial arts techniques. Spying on someone else’s skills is never condoned in the pugilist world.”

Stretching out his right arm, Lap Chung formed a claw with his hand, sending a shaft of energy that sucked the fan back toward him.

No longer the target of the deadly fan, Dai Hei collapsed onto the ground, panting. “Big Brother Yeung, are you trying to kill me?!” He glared at Lap Chun indignantly. “I was coming back from collecting firewood and just happened to see you practicing! I was not trying to spy on your techniques!”

Then, in the blink of an eye, Dai Hei sat up suddenly, a huge smile on his face, his good humor restored. Quickly dusting himself off, he excitedly ran to Lap Chun’s side.

Dai Hei grinned widely. “So Big Brother Yeung… When do we start my martial arts lessons? I am available any time!”

Lap Chun snorted lightly as he strolled toward the cottage, while fanning himself leisurely. “When did I promise to teach you my martial arts techniques? I don’t recall ever accepting you as my disciple.”

Undeterred by Lap Chun’s words, Dai Hei dashed ahead to gather the scattered firewood before following Lap Chun into the cottage.

INSIDE BAMBOO COTTAGE

Dai Hei followed closely behind Lap Chun, as he ticked off his good points on his fingers. “Well, I would make a wonderful disciple. I can cook, clean the house, sew…”

Lap Chun sat down at the table, shaking his head with exasperation and cutting Dai Hei off. “I am not looking for a wife right now, and you’re definitely not my type.”

Dai Hei plopped down on the small bench opposite Lap Chun at the table. “Ugh. You know that wasn’t what I meant!”

Dai Hei opened his mouth again, intending to list more of his good attributes. However, a loud crash from the guest room interrupted him. Both men leapt up and rushed toward the sound.

GUEST ROOM

Lam Suk Yu lay in a twisted heap on the floor, the light blanket tangled around her legs. With her brow wrinkled in worry, she patted the floor cautiously with her hands, her eyes staring blindly straight ahead.

Reaching the guest room, Lap Chun rushed toward Suk Yu. “Miss, you are finally awake! Are you all right?”

Lap Chun knelt down beside Suk Yu and reached for her arms, helping her sit upright. She turned toward the direction of the unfamiliar voice, shaking her head in confusion.

Suk Yu asked in a shaky voice, “Where am I? Why is it so dark in here?”

She patted her hands up Lap Chun’s arms and reached up to run her fingertips lightly over his face, tracing his cheekbones, nose, and mouth, as she tried to figure out her rescuer’s identity.

Suk Yu tilted her head in confusion. “Who are you? Why is it so dark?”

Lap Chun and Dai Hei exchanged worried looks, as they glanced at the pale golden rays of sunlight streaming into the room from the opened window, bringing brightness and warmth to the cottage. As an ominous, hushed silence descended upon the room, Suk Yu’s heart rate picked up as she sensed something terribly wrong. As terror rapidly engulfed her, she shifted toward Lap Chun, her only anchor in this frightening, dark world.

Suk Yu gripped Lap Chun’s arms tightly, her knuckles turning white. “Why is it so dark? Why?”

Suk Yu moved slightly to her right, placing herself directly in the sun’s warm beams. As the warmth flooded around her, warming her skin, her dread intensified. It was daytime, and yet, she could only see darkness.

Panicking, Suk Yu attempted to scramble up from the floor, screaming, “Why can’t I see anything?”

In her hasty scramble up, she tripped on the blanket tangled around her feet. Immediately, Lap Chun caught her in his arms, trying to subdue her frantic attempts to break free from his embrace without hurting her.

She struggled hysterically. “Let me go! What is happening? How come I can’t remember anything about myself?” Tears streamed down her cheeks, as she clawed blindly at Lap Chun’s arms, trying to make sense of her shocking new situation. “Who are you?”

Lap Chun held her tightly in his arms, clamping her arms to her sides to prevent her from further scratching him. “Miss! Miss! It is all right. I will take care of you! I found you at the bottom of a cliff a week ago. You were seriously injured and have remained unconscious until now.”

However, his explanations went unheard as Suk Yu continued to strain against him. She blinked furiously, unsuccessfully trying to will her vision back. In the background, Dai Hei shifted his feet nervously around, not knowing how to help in such a situation. He reached out tentatively, as if intending to help calm Suk Yu down, but then reconsidered and dropped his hands back down helplessly.

Dai Hei cleared his throat nervously. “Big Brother Yeung? What can I do to help?”

Lap Chun struggled to hold onto Suk Yu while turning his head in Dai Hei’s direction. “Dai Hei, would you please…?”

However, before Lap Chun could complete his request, Suk Yu took advantage of his slight break in attention and burst free from his grasp. Dashing blindly away, she accidentally rammed into the nearby bamboo table, sending the ceramic teapot crashing to the floor, breaking into tiny pieces. Dizzy from the impact, she collapsed to the floor, her hands landing directly onto the shards of glass sprinkled everywhere.

Suk Yu cried out in pain. “Ahhh!!!”

Lap Chun quickly dashed to her side, while Dai Hei used a piece of rag to sweep aside the sharp pieces.

Grabbing her bloody hands, Lap Chun examined them, concern clearly etched on his face. “Miss, are you all right?”

Lap Chun used the pads of his thumbs to gently wipe away the blood on her hands while Suk Yu sat docilely on the floor in shock, before collapsing against his chest in a dead faint. Surprised and concerned that she had blacked out once again so soon after regaining consciousness, Lap Chun shook Suk Yu gently, hoping to rouse her. When she remained unresponsive, Lap Chun quickly lifted her up into his arms and rushed her to the bed. Positioning himself behind her, he placed his palms on her back, transferring his qi to her. Dai Hei hovered nervously by the bed in silence, the rag filled with glass shards forgotten in his hands as he watched Lap Chun’s attempt to revive their guest.

MEANWHILE…
NEAR THE OUTSKIRTS OF HOI YEUNG CITY

Yik Lun somersaulted rapidly through the air, speeding past a small tea stand situated in the outskirts of Hoi Yeung City. His agility was so remarkable that most of the tea stand customers did not even notice his presence. One customer, an older, distinguished gentleman, however, smiled slightly at Lun’s impressive display of lightness kung fu. His eyes twinkling with gentle amusement, the gentleman calmly sipped his tea as he watched Lun disappear down the road. Suddenly, another young man raced by the tea stand, closely following Lun. Observing the second figure also vanish within seconds, the gentleman chuckled to himself, shaking his head slowly, amused by the antics of the youth. Upon finishing his tea and sweet buns, the gentleman placed a few coins on the table. Curious, he decided to follow those two youths. Flipping through the air, he, too, disappeared.

A MILE AHEAD…

Lun continued his swift pace, eager to buy the hard candies and return to Siu Han promptly. However, because he had noticed the presence of another person trailing him some distance back, his ears remained alert as he waited patiently to see what this person would do. Deciding to lead his pursuant on a merry chase, Lun headed straight into the nearby woods, intending to use the thick foliage to his advantage.

WOODS

Lun executed several flips in the air, using the tree trunks as springing boards to propel himself from one part of the forest to the next. He took a random, zigzagging path, attempting to confuse his follower. Close behind, Gu Yat Fei matched Lun, leap for leap, flip for flip. Exacerbated with Fei’s persistence and wanting to end this silly game, Lun kicked against a nearby trunk and landed easily onto a low-hanging branch. Using leaves as darts, Lun flung them toward Fei, who deflected them with his sword, sending them flying back toward Lun. Sidestepping the leafy projectiles, Lun flipped off the branch, and while midair, he kicked the leaves toward an opposing tree trunk. The leaves pierced the tough bark with such force that they made a loud, cracking sound as wood splintered.

Meanwhile, Lun landed onto the ground and narrowed his eyes at his opponent. Retuning Lun’s challenging stare, Fei smirked while leaning insolently against a tree trunk.

Lun crossed his arms across his chest, his sword sandwiched between his arms and chest. “Who are you and why are you following me?” He demanded at Fei.

Fei picked up his sword and mockingly imitated his Lun’s pose. “I hear you are the Wulin Chancellor Lam’s eldest son, the most likely successor to this prestigious position once your father retires. I would like to challenge you to a duel.”

Lun chuckled in amusement. “Unfortunately, I have more pressing matters right now and therefore have no time for a duel. Your challenge will have to wait.”

Lun turned his back on the other man and began to walk away, but Fei flipped through the air and landed in front of Lun, thus blocking his departure.

Fei unsheathed his sword and pointed it toward Lun. “Your pressing matters do not concern me. I demand that you accept my challenge.”

Lun smirked at Fei’s bold declaration. “I only accept challenges when I want to. Now get out of my way before you get hurt.”

Lun tried to step around Fei, but his challenger obstinately moved to block his departure.

“What? Are you too cowardly to accept my challenge?” Fei taunted Lun. “Maybe your martial arts prowess is just a rumor. Maybe you can’t fight well at all and simply hide behind your father’s title as Wulin Chancellor.”

Lun laughed amusingly at Fei’s insult. “I don’t know who you are, and I have absolutely no interest in finding out. My advice to you is to move out of my way immediately before you get trampled.”

With that said, Lun somersaulted up into the air, his feet lightly skimming the treetops as he raced away from Fei. Refusing to back down, Fei flew after him, and grabbed Lun’s foot midair, attempting to pull him back toward the ground. In counter attack, Lun twisted vertically in the air, forcing Fei to loosen his hold. Angered, Lun aimed his sword directly toward Fei’s chest. Fei thrust his sword forward in retaliation. The clang of metal reverberated throughout the tranquility of the forest, disturbing a flock of birds nearby. In a flurry of wings, the birds frantically fluttered away to safety. As the two opponents raced across the sky, while exchanging sword thrusts, the small animals below scurried for cover.

As the battle ensued, Lun and Fei each hooked their arms around a tree trunk, leaving their other hand free to continue the sword fight. Even after the exchange of over a thousand sword stances, both showed no sign of weakness or fatigue.

Sending his sword twisting into the air toward Fei, Lun used that one split second when Fei was trying to evade the approaching sword to palm Fei on the chest. The palm strike caused Fei to lose his hold on the tree trunk. As he slipped downward, Fei quickly grabbed onto a low-hanging tree branch and looped under the bough to circle back toward Lun. Seeing Fei’s approach, Lun flew straight toward his opponent, his sword raised in attack.

MEANWHILE…
INSIDE WIND RAIN RESTAURANT

Siu Han sat at the table, keeping herself occupied by staring at the wall paintings as she waited for Lun to return. Her gaze strayed to the restaurant entrance every so often, as she wondered what was taking Lun so long.

Bored, she propped her chin in the palms of her hands and glanced idly around. “What’s taking Eldest Young Master so long? Maybe I better go back to the Golden Phoenix Inn to check if he has returned there…”

At that moment, the restaurant proprietor walked out with two steaming, large bowls of rice porridge.

The elderly man set the bowls on Siu Han’s table. “Here you go, little girl! Two hot servings of chicken rice porridge.” He looked around, his brows knitted in bewilderment. “What happened to your young man?”

Siu Han glanced at the two bowls of porridge distractedly. Beginning to worry about Lun, she explained apologetically, “I’m sorry, Uncle, I have something important to do. Could you serve your other guests first with these bowls of porridge? I’ll be back later.”

Without waiting for the restaurant owner’s response, Siu Han darted out Wind Rain Restaurant and ran across the road toward Golden Phoenix Inn, her heart heavy with a strange sense of doom…

MEANWHILE…
GOLDEN PHOENIX INN

Lam Chi Chi sat on the bed inside the inn room she shared with Grandmother Fa, struggling against the ropes tying her hands and feet together. Grandmother Fa and Gu Yat Keung had left earlier that morning to purchase breakfast. With nobody around, Chi Chi focused on loosening her ties and making her escape before her captors return. With her teeth clenched in concentration, she slowly maneuvered her left hand out of the tight loop of rope. With perspiration beading on her forehead, she bit her lip against the pain caused by the abrasion of the rope on her tender skin. After wiggling her hand patiently back and forth, she finally managed to successfully slip her left hand out from the loop of rope. With that accomplished, her right hand easily came out of the now loosened loop. Without wasting any more time, Chi Chi quickly reached down to untie the restraints around feet.

Now free to move about, she tiptoed to the door and gently pushed it open to peek into the hallway outside. Spying nobody in the hall, Chi Chi cautiously stepped out of the inn room and began to run down the corridor toward the stairs, while glancing back frequently to assure herself that she was not being followed. Not paying close attention, she collided right into another person running up the stairs…

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