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Xiaohu, Anurman, I agree with Lance; that was very entertaining. Thank you. Akolaw Qianbei, thanks for sharing. Ysabel, HPC, you are welcome. And now … the fighting continues.

Book 26 Chapter 6 - Intentional and Unintentional

"I wonder which gambling method Ling Ye is familiar with?" Lei Jiuzhi asked.

Xu Ziling said, "Don't use Ye this and Ye that [master, as in master/servant] to call me, I am greatly unaccustomed to that. When I was little, I used to watch people playing dice, also some dominoes, but my share was just to watch. Ha! When I say 'watch', actually I watched people winning money from those fat sheep."

Lei Jiuzhi asked, "What kind of dice game is prevalent in Yangzhou? Is it big and small, betting on two gates, eighteen gates, or is it counting the dots on individual die?"

Xu Ziling replied, "It's the former two methods mixed together; you could bet two gates or sixteen [sic] gates. Why do you ask those questions?"

Shrugging his shoulders, Lei Jiuzhi said, "No reason. The real experts in playing dice may use Tian Jiu Pai [heavenly nine (playing) tiles, Tien Gow] style to bet against each other. Three dice combination can become all kinds of Tian Jiu Pai; winner and loser can be determined according to Tian Jiu rules, it is a lot more interesting."

Xu Ziling said, "Yangzhou also has several famous gamblers, our Yan Laoda was one of those, but he was never willing to teach us. His favorite was using hollow dice; he poured mercury inside to cheat."

Lei Jiuzhi spoke disdainfully, "Dice that are rigged with mercury, lead, or ivory powder, are all called 'drugged dice'. Those who are a bit smarter use iron fillings inside the dice, and then controlling the dice using magnet from underneath the table. With some technique, you want single dot you'll get single dot, you want double, you'll get double. But these are all considered low hand. Real experts would use the technique of listening to the dice. Relying on the sound the dice falling into the bowl, from the subtle noise of dice colliding against each other and the friction of the dice against the bowl, one could tell the difference which surface, from one to six dots, facing down, and determine the points. In my case, I have up to eighty-percent confidence."

Speechless, Xu Ziling said, "No wonder you win every bet."

Lei Jiuzhi said, "There's no such thing as a sure-win technique in the world; swindlers can be exposed. Watch this!"

Xu Ziling watched him spreading out his hand, which was more slender than average person; there were two ivory dice on the hollow of his palm. Frowning, he said, "I have never been interested in predatory shady business. If it were Kou Zhong, you can't escape even if you don't want to teach him."

Lei Jiuzhi smiled and said, "Ziling only need to think that this is some kind of doing business on behalf of the Heaven, the money you win will be used entirely to buy food and for the relieve of the people, then gambling will not be predatory business at all!"

Xu Ziling only responded with a wry smile.

Kou Zhong woke up from the deepest sleep he had ever had, and found out that he was still sitting cross-legged with his spine straight. Not only the true qi within his body had been fully recovered, he even progressed one layer further. The perception of his five senses was more sensitive than before.

Opening up his eyes to look around, he found out that the half moon had quietly moved from the courtyard hall to the top of his head. Outside the reach of the green bursting light of the moon, the deep black night sky was embedded with dense twinkling stars; an extremely touching scene.

Kou Zhong picked up the Moon in the Well resting on his knees, some kind of unprecedented sensation bubbled forth wildly in his heart, as if the treasured saber has become one entity with his flesh and blood body, the blade was like obtaining new life, no longer a mere object and tool.

Unable to restrain his emotions, he raised the saber and looked closely at it, while his other hand lovingly stroke the blade. His entire being became ethereally transparent, not contaminated by a single speck of dust.


The Moon in the Well rose high above his head, and then swiftly hacked down, stopping level with his chest.

The saber qi was like waves surging over to both sides, rolling up the dead leaves of the old Chinese scholar tree standing in the yard into the air.


The Moon in the Well returned to its scabbard.

"That saber still looks good!"

Kou Zhong looked at Song Que, who had just appeared on the stone steps outside the door; he spoke indifferently, "I thought Fazhu already went to bed!"

Song Que had his left hand behind his back, his right hand hanging lightly by his side, he walked down the steps smoothly and stopped about two zhang in front of Kou Zhong. His eyes gleaming bright, he smiled and said, "Such a fine time, beautiful scenery like this, wouldn't it be a pity if we miss it? Shao Shuai's last saber strike, from following-the-law [or technique] it entered into without-the-law boundary, in your heart you did not have any worry about established rules, but you still one stripe lacking from reaching the genuine great expert level."

Toward Song Que's saber technique, Kou Zhong prostrated himself in admiration. Hearing that, he modestly asked for instruction, saying, "May I ask Fazhu, what exactly does Xiaodi lack?"

Song Que looked up to the sky, at the moon and the stars, his deep gaze shone with exquisite light, he slowly said, word-by-word, "Following-the-law is the earth level. Without-the-law is the heaven level. Without-the-law contains following-the-law within it; following-the-law is hidden inside without-the-law - this is the highest level where the heaven, the earth and the man blend together to become one. Only a talented person can link heaven and earth together, so that without-the-law is following-the-law, and following-the-law is without-the-law."

Kou Zhong pondered for half a day; finally he shook his head and said, "I still don't understand. As far as I'm concerned, the so-called following-the-law is making the moves by following a predetermined style. Even though while facing the enemy it can change according to the situation, it is still based on specific law or some derivation of it. Without-the-law means it is not restricted to any established rules, the moves are made as one pleases, hence it could be unconventional."

Song Que leisurely moved his left hand, which was hidden behind his back, to the front of his chest. Unexpectedly there was another treasured saber inside its scabbard in his hand; ancient looking, and looked to be exceptionally heavy. His hand then grabbed the hilt and slowly pulled the saber out of the scabbard, while his eyes followed the movement of his right hand.

He spoke gently, "The Heaven has the heavenly law, an object has its own physical property. It's not that reason and law do not exist, but by the time you could master reason and law, it will be just like kitchen help chopping up a cow. It's not that the cow does not exist, but when it entered the kitchen, it already turned into pieces of beef. After obtaining the cow, you forget that the cow exists; after obtaining the law you forget about the law. Therefore, in using the saber, the most important thing is the saber intention. But if it is intentional, it will leave a trace; if it is unintentional, it will be squandered. The most desirable is between intentional and unintentional. This creative concept, if you understand it then you understand it, if you don't understand it then you don't understand it. Just like this saber."

The saber left the scabbard and hacked down on Kou Zhong seemingly in a careless way.

Kitchen help cutting up an ox was a fable by ancient sage Zhuang Zhou, speaking about a kitchen help that was adept at scraping the meat from the bones of an ox, using thin blade that was able to enter the narrow slit between the bone and the meat, hence he was able to do it with ease.

Kou Zhong was still thinking; he never expected that Song Que would hit as soon as he said he would hit, practically not giving Kou Zhong any time to ponder over it. Furthermore, this saber strike was like antelope antler; not only it had no beginning, it had no end either.

Suddenly the saber was already chopping in front of his face, and the saber momentum had already sealed all escape paths; there was no way he would be able to evade it. The most formidable part was that he had no idea which part of his body this blade was going to chop. In particular, this close to a hundred catty, plain black heavy saber, in Song Que's hand it appeared to be as heavy as a thousand jun [1 jun = 30 catties], but it also appeared to be as light as a feather, so that he was unable to grasp its path.

Just by looking at it, it already made him unbearably dizzy.

With no other choice, Kou Zhong hastily pulled the Moon in the Well and raised it up to block.

Meeting Song Que's saber, naturally the Moon in the Well changed direction.


The two sabers clashed and stopped midair.

An enormous-without-equal true qi penetrated the saber and burst into his body. Kou Zhong was forced to exert the qi from all the meridians in his entire body before he was able to barely withstand the opponent's first round of qi power.

Revealing a hint of smile, while continuously sending out true qi to attack Kou Zhong, Song Que spoke indifferently, "Can Shao Shuai see the mystery of this saber strike?"

Kou Zhong was struggling hard to resist Song Que's invading qi power. He felt that Song Que's saber was getting increasingly heavier and heavier; it could crush both the saber and the person any moment. Hearing the question, he painstakingly said, "Within its constant state, Fazhu's saber strike contains countless changes; it appeared to be intentional, yet also seemed to be unintentional. But my block is not too bad either! Ha! It is between intentional and unintentional."

Song Que suddenly shook his wrist, he forcefully pushed Kou Zhong that he staggered three steps back. The two separated.

Kou Zhong cried, 'Thank Heaven thank the earth!' inwardly. Three more steps, and his back nearly bumped into the locust tree before he was able to steady his footing, ready to deal with Song Que's second saber strike.

With the scabbard in his left hand and the saber in his right, Song Que stood in the middle of the courtyard like a deity; there was no wind, but his clothes were fluttering. With delighted expression, he said, "Only the last saber strike was Song Que's real skill; even if Ning Daoqi came in person, he would not dare to meet the strike head on, but you, unconstrained and with ease, have blocked it. If you want to listen to compliments, I, Song Que, can let you hear it: if you train a bit more, your accomplishment would surpass me, the 'Heavenly Saber' Song Que, and you would become the Number One Saber Expert in the world."

Smiling wryly, Kou Zhong said, "Therefore, Fazhu has already determined to kill me. Otherwise, why would you be willing to compliment me? Am I right?"

Song Que shook his head and said, "You are wrong. From the beginning to the end I never wanted to kill you. But if I didn't do this, how could you make this big step?"

Although with his mouth he said so, his momentum was increasing without any letup, pressing Kou Zhong that he could not breathe.

Severely shaken, Kou Zhong said, "But Fazhu, when you make your move to attack me, definitely you were using moves to take my life; once you are not careful, I might lose my life, and even Fazhu can't control it."

Throwing his head back in laughter, Song Que said, "If not so, how could I force your natural talent, which was hidden beneath the surface, to come out? If you lose your life under my saber, you do not deserve to receive my love and appreciation."

Smiling wryly, Kou Zhong said, "Since that's the case, why do you still act like you want me to die?"

Song Que spoke heavily, "Do you know the name of this saber in Ol' Song's hand?"

Startled, Kou Zhong said, "This saber must have a pleasant-to-hear name."

The flashing light in Song Que's eyes grew brighter; he spoke word-by-word, "This is the unequalled 'Heavenly Saber' with which Ol' Song wander and run amuck all over the world."

The Moon in the Well suddenly turned into yellow light shooting toward Song Que.

If he waited a bit longer, he might not be able to hold on.
Zhuang Zhou, same as Zhuangzi (369-286 BC). 庖丁解牛 The metaphor means with repeated practice, one would be able to grasp the objective rhythm, and would be able to do it with ease. (Baike Baidu, in Chinese)

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