Nameless Minion

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Nameless Minion A Death in Chunfen
Male Yumenite B icon.png
Agitated Villager
Fang Xiaoshi's Father icon.png
Male Yumenite A icon.png
Nervous Villager
Anxious Child
Overbearing Child
Moushan Lot
Cold Forest
Mine Entrance
Yishan Temple
Sargon House
Desert Mountain
In the Yishan Temple, Saga hears the Village Elder's confessions, one-by-one.
Below the cliff, Qiubai rescues a boy whose name has just been killed.
<Background 1>
Anxious Child How'd it go?
Overbearing Child I got it...
Anxious Child The Elder didn't see you, did he?
Overbearing Child He wasn't home. I think he went to the Yishan Temple to make an offering to the ancestors.
Anxious Child That's good. I don't wanna get chewed out again... Anyway, hurry up, let's take a look!
[The children opens the box.]
Anxious Child What are all these buttons for? This round thing here... looks like a flashlight stuck inside... Is this really the camder-thingamajig lady Messenger was talking about?
Overbearing Child "Camcorder."
This is definitely it. Lady Messenger's magazine had an ad for a machine just like this.
I saw it when the Elder took it from that guy yesterday.
Anxious Child Can this "camcorder" thing really suck people inside?
Overbearing Child What the heck? You're talking about recording!
Anxious Child Okay, okay. Turn it on already and let's see what it can do.
Overbearing Child I'm trying, but it's not doing anything.
The mudslide yesterday might've messed up some of the mechanisms.
Anxious Child You're just pretending like you know what to do! Lemme try!
Overbearing Child Hey, hands off.
[The camcorder box flies off the children's hands and hits someone...]
??? Urgh...
My head!
[...who is revealed to be Saga.]
Saga For what reason have you children cast a stone at me?
Overbearing Child ......
Anxious Child ......
Saga It is no matter, I feel no pain from the stone. I carry no blame for you children.
Anxious Child Can we have that back?
Saga Should I return it to you, it would be unbecoming if you then attacked another soul with it.
Anxious Child It's a camcorder, not a rock!
Saga ......
I see, so this is a camcorder! In Higashi, I heard the brothers speak of such a device. Though lightweight and small in shape, it faithfully retains the likeness of any image in perpetuity.
After parting ways with my head priest, I spent long while wandering the lands of Great Yan, including a fair bit of time inside the paint-scroll of a certain master. Therein, I witnessed countless wonders, though we will never meet again. I am left with deep regret.
With a device like this in hand, never again must I suffer the sorrows of people and places bygone, never to be seen again.
May I look at the camera?
Overbearing Child Sure, go for it. It's already busted anyway.
Saga Such a small screen, yet able to flip like this. Remarkable...
Hmm... There is a cover behind the device that opens.
[Saga opens the camcorder's flip screen.]
Saga ––
Oh my, the screen is illuminated...
Overbearing Child You turned it on? But how...?
Anxious Child Hey, tell me what's inside!
<Background 2>
[The camcorder plays a video showing the Forte Messenger from before.]
For someone like you who doesn't really know the people here, who are you to judge our lives and look down on us? What gives you the right to talk about "change?"
You've got a lot of grand talk about "compassion," but in the end, you're just looking down on us, pitying us.
[Footsteps are heard off-screen, and...]
Leave me alone!
[The video abruptly ends.]
<Background 1>
The woman inside blinks blankly, and Saga suddenly realizes that she is looking at her own face.
The image has vanished, the screen turning back into a reflective surface.
Anxious Child That's it?
Overbearing Child You didn't break it by forcing it on, did you?
Saga Uhh...
<Background 3>
[Xiaoshi struggles.]
Fang Xiaoshi Let go! Let go of me!
Agitated Villager Gah, rotten kid, settle down!
[The villager punches Xiaoshi.]
Fang Xiaoshi Argh––!
Nervous Villager Gaaah!
No biting either–!
[The villagers continue dragging Xiaoshi.]
Fang Xiaoshi What are you dragging me up the mountain for? What are you gonna do to me?
Nervous Villager You must've been feeling real stuffy locked in that old shed, right? We're just taking you out for some fresh air before heading back...
Fang Xiaoshi You think I'm an idiot?
The mandarins are here, aren't they?
Agitated Villager ......
Nervous Villager ......
Fang Xiaoshi I hit the nail on the head.
I'm going back down.
I'm going to tell the mandarins what you're up to.
Nervous Villager Is that your plan? Not satisfied until you've ruined life for everyone, huh?
Fang Xiaoshi You people are the ones who sold your souls, and you're trying to make this my fault?
Nervous Villager Sold our souls? We agreed to keep you fed out of the goodness of our hearts, you call that selling our souls? If only I could trade the name Zhou Liu for some money to buy food...
Agitated Villager Hey, don't bother trying to reason with him. Won't do you a bit of good.
Think we haven't tried to talk sense into him? We've tried everything under the sun, and the kid still won't budge.
Fang Xiaoshi, you're not going anywhere. You're staying right here on this mountain.
Fang Xiaoshi ......
[Xiaoshi tries to run...]
Agitated Villager Grab him!
[...only to be grabbed by the villagers.]
Nervous Villager There's no way you'll get past all of us.
Just simmer down. You're up against a cliff. If you don't watch your step, you might just...
Fang Xiaoshi Cut the crap already!
Nervous Villager Why you little–
Agitated Villager Don't test us, Fang Xiaoshi.
Nervous Villager Hey, Zhou Si, don't tell me you...
The Elder didn't say we could...
Agitated Villager If he keeps this up, we're gonna attract unwanted attention.
Nervous Villager And we can't have that...
Fang Xiaoshi I'm telling you, I'm going down this mountain today.
Even if you somehow manage to keep my mouth shut and get your cash, I will expose you sooner or later.
Even if I "die," I'm going to "live" on! Or, if you think you've got what it takes, kill me right here!
Agitated Villager I see, I get it now, Fang Xiaoshi. You're just a wild beast cub that we haven't domesticated.
Three years ago, you blew up the Yishan Temple and cut off the lifeblood of our village; three years later, you're going to drive every last one of us to our deaths!
Fang Xiaoshi What are you doing...?
Agitated Villager ......
??? Stop!
[Someone attacks the villagers...]
Nervous Villager & Agitated Villager Huh?
[...knocking them unconscious as they turned out to be Qiubai.]
Fang Xiaoshi Master? You're still here?!
<Background 4>
Mulberry Shifu Saga, I don't understand...
That Elder didn't seem like a bad man, so why...?
Saga I am reminded of a story I heard on my travels. Wouldst thou have me recount it, good Mulberry?
Mulberry Yes.
Saga There once was a bukuai, a lawman,[note 1] who worked hard all his life and devoted himself to his duties. Though he was poor, he eked out a stable, comfortable life.
Once, he was ordered to capture a group of bandits in the mountains. When he did see their cave full of hoarded treasure, he could not restrain the evil thoughts that arose within him.
The bukuai took two pieces of pure gold, a mere two pieces, and hid them in his pocket.
His actions were discovered by a fellow lawman. The latter dangled this over his head, seeking to blackmail him into splitting the loot equally.
The bukuai was indignant, and slew his fellow lawman in a fit of rage. He made as if the deed was done by the bandits, and returned to report back alone.
Mulberry H-How could anyone do something so awful...?
Saga Aha... my response was similar upon first hearing the tale. Alas, know that the story is far from over.
When the bukuai arrived at the foot of the mountain, he met the fallen lawman's wife. He knew not why she would appear here, and panic set into his paranoia-gripped heart. Resolving to see things through to the end, he murdered her as well.
The bukuai beheld the bloodstained knife in his hand, confused and frightened at the same time, before hurriedly fleeing back home.
However, these murders were quickly discovered. The bukuai knew he could not escape his crimes and condemned his entire family, turning to a life of banditry.
As for how the bukuai became an infamous bandit, carrying calamity in his wake, or how he ultimately lost his life and left not a trace behind, I shall not elucidate the specifics.
Mulberry Who would guess that two pieces of gold could lead to all that?
Saga Indeed.
[After Saga pauses for a moment...]
Saga My head priest said evil thoughts are beasts residing within the hearts of man, which must be beaten into submission every now and then. As such, my mission is to ensure the temple bells never cease.
After all, it is difficult to contain a wild beast, once it is freed from its cage.
The drifting monk bends down and rubs a pinch of gunpowder-stained clay between her fingers.
Saga They say the weather is as unpredictable as the human heart.
The winds and rains are unpredictable indeed, and managing them to avert calamity is best left to experts such as thyself. All I can offer is to join thee on one leg of thy journey.
I ought to go down the mountain.
<Background 3>
[After Qiubai saves Xiaoshi...]
Qiubai ......
Fang Xiaoshi ......
Qiubai This is the second time I've saved your life.
I hope there won't be a third.
[Someone runs towards the two...]
??? Huff––
*cough* *cough*... Miss Qiu, wait... Wait for me...
[...who is revealed to be Xiaoshi's father.]
Hunter X-Xiaoshi...
Fang Xiaoshi ......
The hunter laboriously manages to catch his breath, plopping himself down on a large rock nearby.
Hunter Urgh, never expected this path to be so rough... I don't have the endurance for this...
Back when I was young, I once saw a talpibeast. My aim wasn't good enough, and my arrow lodged in its buttocks. The beast started darting about in a frenzy.
You rarely see a talpibeast that plump, and I didn't want to let it get away, so I chased after it like my lungs didn't need breath. Finally, I caught the beast in a grassy clearing a few li away and had myself a feast.
But now, my body is covered with wounds, barely able to draw a bowstring, barely able to swing a hoe. I barely made it in time to save my own child.
Fang Xiaoshi Dad, what are you trying to say...?
Hunter I'm just glad... that you're fine.
[Xiaoshi's father noticed the unconcsious villagers.]
Hunter Miss Qiu, these men...
Qiubai Don't worry, they're only unconscious.
But, I can't guarantee they won't suffer from headaches for a fortnight after waking up.
Hunter ......
Qiubai In any case, they deserve some punishment for what they've done.
Hunter Yes, you're right...
Fang Xiaoshi They didn't do anything to you, did they?
Hunter No, not at all.
Fang Xiaoshi I'm glad.
What are those bastards in the village doing now? I bet they're putting on a whole song and dance, bawling their eyes out while showing the mandarins to the grave?
Now that I'm a free man... I'm not gonna let them get away with it!
The young man storms down the side of the mountain, careful to administer a couple of sharp kicks to the villagers collapsed on the ground.
But, he suddenly comes to a halt.
A hand is tugging on his arm, and even through his clothes, he can feel the abrasion from the calluses on that hand.
He lowers his head, and the old man seems to apply even more force to his grip, turning away to avoid his gaze.
Fang Xiaoshi ......
Hunter Xiaoshi, hold on...
Fang Xiaoshi You didn't just come to save me, did you? You're also here to stop me.
<Background 5>
Two of the bluestone tiles in front of the altar are gone. He took the pieces the last time he was here, not having had time to replace them yet.
The layer of soil beneath the floor tiles is damp, cooler to the touch than the bluestone. The old man feels this coolness with his forehead.
The statue of the ancestor cannot speak, so he must be first to say something.
But, what is there for him to say?
Honored ancestors, it's all my fault.
Clan Elder I never thought...
I never thought an investigator would come to the village...
I never thought that we'd drive the boy, Fang Xiaoshi, into despair. After all, I saw him grow up before my very eyes...
I never thought that three years after he left the village, leaving no trace of whether he lived or died, that he would return now, of all times...
I truly don't know what came over me, what possessed me to agree to use his name to swindle the compensation money...
I never thought that in the middle of the night, during such a heavy rainstorm, a boy would chance upon the Chidao...
All I could think was... if this part of the Chidao was destroyed, that would've kept the maintenance work going for another half a year or so... Even two or three months would've been enough...
Once the work started, we'd all have an extra bit of income. Things have been so rough the last few years; it'd at least be better than sitting around waiting for Heaven to do something.
The Yishan Temple used to be the heart of the village, but now it's at the entrance. The place you dug out from the mountains for future generations has slowly been reclaimed, devoured over the last few decades.
If we keep pushing our luck on this mountain, on this land... Soon we won't even have this temple.
So that's why, I...
That's why I buried those explosives, to take advantage of the torrential spring rains to cause an "accident"...
But as long as there was a better way, I wouldn't have resorted to such disgraceful methods.
I never imagined it would lead to all this.
Why must Heaven torment us so?
??? Venerable Elder, were these words meant for the forebears who dug out this mountain, or for thyself?
[Saga enters the temple.]
Clan Elder ......
<Background 3>
Hunter Just hold on there, my boy.
Fang Xiaoshi They almost pushed me off a cliff, Dad!
These aren't good people! There's no telling how low they'll stoop!
Hunter Nobody knew the mandarins would come a day early.
Things happened too quickly, and everyone was in a panic... Some things were unavoidable...
Fang Xiaoshi ......
Hunter I know... I know everybody went a little overboard. But I promise, I'll have the Elder explain things.
Still, you can't go down there now.
Fang Xiaoshi After all this, you're still covering for them?!
Hunter I'm not trying to cover for anybody.
Qiubai I remember asking you this.
<Flashback starts here>
<Background 6>
Qiubai Will staying in the village really guarantee safety and peace?
Hunter The villagers wouldn't do anything to Xiaoshi.
Yesterday, they swore before their ancestors at the Yishan Temple, the Clan Elder and all of them promised me...
Qiubai You'll take their word for it?
Hunter ......
Qiubai I'm sure you know Fang Xiaoshi's temperament. He won't go along with them. He'll insist on keeping his name, just as he did with your land those years ago.
Or, are you planning to keep him locked up forever?
If you lose control of him and he ruins the whole plan, what will the villagers do then?
Hunter ......
Qiubai Evil, once summoned, does not stop at your request.
<Flashback ends here>
<Background 3>
Qiubai As I said, whatever's going on in Moushan is no more ridiculous than anything I've seen before. I don't want to get involved, and it really isn't my business.
But I've never trusted you.
Hunter Miss Qiu, are you saying...?
Qiubai ......
Hunter You knocked Zhou Si and Zhou Liu out in a single move just now. I saw it all.
If you really wanted to get in our way, you'd take down everyone in the village with a move or two, tie us up, and hand us over to the mandarins. We couldn't lift a finger to stop you.
Qiubai That's not how I do things.
Hunter I admit, there's reason behind your words. No matter how driven to desperation someone is, no matter if it seems like there's no other way, none of that is an excuse to turn to evil.
But, the fact that you hold a sword, that you know kung fu... that's what lets you go looking for another path, to hold on to the things you care about.
There will always be another way for you. But it's not like that for us.
Qiubai ......
Hunter Still, swords are useless in these ravines. A sword won't save the arable land. It won't control the crazy weather. It won't save the hundred-or-so people here... not even just me and my son.
All we can do is wait for the rain, wait for someone who can dig us out of the mountains' grasp to show up.
All we can do is wait for the Chidao to need more repairs, for more nomadic cities to be built so everyone can move in and live stable lives.
But how boundless is this patch of dirt? How many ravines are there out there, just like ours...?
There may be no rhyme or reason to what I'm saying, but I hope you understand what I'm getting at, Miss Qiu.
Qiubai I understand perfectly well. Which is precisely why I can't stand by and watch.
Hunter *sigh*
Just... let us go this time, out of the goodness of your heart.
Qiubai ......
Fang Xiaoshi Master, let him be.
He's my dad. Let me deal with him myself.
<Background 5>
Clan Elder I thought you were taking the investigator up the mountain? What are you doing here?
Saga Hmm... Venerable Elder, may I help myself to the fruit on this table?
I have eaten nothing today. I am both hungry and thirsty after my arduous trek down the mountain.
Clan Elder ......
Saga Surely thou hast the compassion in thy heart to spare a piece of fruit?
Clan Elder Did you hear what I just said?
Saga Ahhh... This bit of dried fruit is soft and chewy, sweet and sour. It even bears a faint fragrance of the branch. Truly delectable.
More than thy words alone, I have heard other such utterances these past few days.
Clan Elder ......
Saga If thou wouldst see these things concealed, then thou shouldst toss them in the cellar, as with dried fruit, such that thou needst not visit this temple.
But of course, they would emerge at the slightest hint of the breeze, sooner or later.
So, my knowledge of the matter makes no difference.
Clan Elder ......
That investigator girl... Does she already know?
I think I know why you're here now...
Saga Ahh...
Clan Elder You must be the one who helped Xiaoping and Xiao'an turn on the camcorder too. You've found me both times I came to this temple.
Could your arrival here... be a warning from the ancestors...?
I've grown too old. Too addled, too slow to realize...
Saga I was simply wandering the lands of Great Yan when I happened to stop here, and was thus delayed for a few days.
Even had I not arrived, someone else would've come, and some other incident would've taken place.
Clan Elder At first I assumed, all these years, I had never done anything for Moushan. What had I done to deserve my title?
But in the end...
Man has no business doing Heaven's work. We only end up hurting others, and ourselves.
Two lives, wasted. How am I ever to answer for them?
Saga Thy machinations were never particularly thorough in the first place. Rather sloppy, actually.
But I must wonder, why dost thou repent for insufficiently thorough planning?
Clan Elder ......
I just... was thinking, what if you had come to Moushan sooner?
If I had met you before, maybe I wouldn't have found all these wild thoughts in my head. Maybe none of this would've happened.
Saga *sigh*... Did I not just say that I arrived but by chance? My presence here is not such a significant thing.
Besides, is there a man whose heart truly harbors no evil?
Clan Elder Shouldn't a monk shun evil and uphold virtue? Wouldn't it ruin your practice to harbor evil in your heart?
Saga Dost thou believe that having such thoughts ruins one's practice?
Before leaving Dusk's scroll, I happened upon a version of myself that had become a gambler.
That me could not resist the temptation of dice and chips, pawning her ceremonial mokugyo, selling her possessions, giving in to unrestrained debauchery, getting friends and companions involved, and carrying out all sorts of unconscionable acts.
Before she left the temple, the head priest called out for her to stop, and they each took a stick in hand and enjoyed a most excellent duel.
From the beginning of the crescent moon's ascent to the dawning of the sun in the east, the monk never understood why the head priest struggled with each move, as if fighting for survival rather than sport.
She had already forgotten the result of that duel.
Only occasionally, in a trance, would she remember her stick hovering above the priest's head. In that moment, did she think to complete the downward strike?
Saga To harbor evil thoughts is hardly unexpected. Logical, even.
Clan Elder Shifu...
Saga Not only in the painted scroll, but also in the realm of dreams.
Once, when I was famished, I happened upon a pregnant she-beast. The first thought that crossed my mind was, 'tis fatter than the he-beast.
I was also wrongfully imprisoned, once. I was bound in a way that made it difficult to escape, my hand nearly pressed against the naginata behind me.
And yet, the woman you see before you is the same nonetheless.
Clan Elder ......
Saga I recall this sutra that the head priest recited: "Man has natural desire for food, as well as the potential for evil." Since it is inevitable, what is so wrong about harboring such thoughts within your heart? They are nothing more than thoughts.
Clan Elder Nothing more... than thoughts?
Saga Also, though I do not recall exactly when or where it happened, I once had the privilege of meeting a swordsmith.
The swordsmith was a strange man, determined to seek the strongest and sharpest blade in the land, and at the same time was purely kind-hearted and strove to never kill again.
He built a hut in the mountains, and I accompanied him for a full three months. I watched the furnace's flames spring to life and go out, time and time again. I saw billets forged, then melted, melted, then forged.
At long last he produced a blade, shaped like the floating clouds, glistening in all its brilliance, yet lacking a sharpened edge.
Clan Elder It was dull?
Saga He said: sharpen not the blade, and thou shalt not fear for harming another.
Clan Elder ......
Saga But alas, to harm another depends not on the blade, but on oneself.
Clan Elder You're... quite a forthcoming individual.
But not everyone can see or think as clearly as you. Not everyone can restrain their thoughts and prevent them from turning into actions, no matter the time or place.
Saga On the contrary, I believe it is because these thoughts are difficult to restrain, releasing them causes great calamity.
It is like unto ringing the bell and chanting daily. After years and years, one naturally feels the temptation to grow slothful. But to strike the bell even one fewer time would render all previous effort meaningless.
Clan Elder ......
Saga How many kowtowed to Heaven for a single drop of rain, only to provoke a mudslide?
Evil thought and evil deed differ by only one word, yet the difference in consequences could hardly be greater. This indeed began with thy thoughts, but the moment they became reality, they had left thy control.
Now that everything has been set into motion, how canst thou seeketh to explain it all away by claiming thou thought naught of them?
<Background 3>
Hunter Xiaoshi, it's true that I'm helping them... But I'm also helping us.
We've lived in Moushan for so many years, we're a part of the village.
Fang Xiaoshi ......
Dad, I know how you used to wander the wilderness, hunting and selling game just to eke out a living. I know how hard it was. You wanted shelter from the wind and rain.
You were finally able to settle down in Moushan, and using the money you scraped together year after year, you were able to buy a few plots of land and make your home.
You can't bear to leave the land, or your house. After all, you owe everything to this place, so no matter what happens, you're willing to take things in stride.
When Mom ran off, they bullied us for being the only family outside the Zhou Clan, and when they insisted on moving the rundown temple onto your land, you agreed to it.
And now, when they're trying to take my name and turn me into a dead man, you've given in again.
If there's another disaster or whatever in the future and they come for our land, our house, and our lives, are you just gonna go along with that too?
Your life is what you make for yourself. It's not something other people give to you.
Hunter I know...
But, if you head down right now and turn the entire village in to the investigator, how do you think it's going to turn out?
Forget about me. I don't even have that many years left in me. But you're only fifteen. How are you going to be able to stay here?
Fang Xiaoshi Why do we need to stay here in the first place?
Hunter ......
Fang Xiaoshi Push comes to shove, we leave Moushan, get out of the mountains, and settle down in a nomadic city.
Doesn't matter if there's no land to farm. There are plenty of opportunities in the cities. I can take on all kinds of jobs. I could learn kung fu and become as strong as Master Qiu. I'll earn lots of money and help you get better.
Believe it or not, I've been traveling all around these past three years. I've been everywhere, seen everything.
Hunter You really do take after your mother.
Fang Xiaoshi ......
Hunter Back then, everyone in the village wanted to safeguard the land reclaimed by the excavators, and pray to Heaven to put food on the table...
Your mother was the only one who wanted to get out of the mountains. She wanted to go to Yumen, to Shangshu, to Lungmen... to "experience a different life" in a nomadic city that we had never even heard of.
Your mother married me because I was a hunter who traveled all over the place.
It wasn't until I bought this land with my life savings and after you were born that I was chained to this place like an old burdenbeast... Only then did she realize, I didn't come here just to rest my feet.
The day that salesman coaxed her away, I chased you into the wilderness, just in time to bring you back.
Fang Xiaoshi ......
That woman passed away a few years ago.
She sent a letter. It took a great many months for it to reach my hands.
The only thing in the envelope was a sum of money. Compensation for her death, left to Xiaoshi.
She followed the salesman to a city to try to make a living, but went back to the wilderness after just six months or so.
I don't know what happened after that. The message had been handed off to five or six different Messengers, and the details had become blurry. But when I held that pitifully thin envelope, it wasn't hard to guess.
We handed the money over to the village, in the end, and they used it to repair the temple Xiaoshi blew up.
Hunter My boy, if it was easier to survive in a city than here in Moushan, you wouldn't be here today.
Over the past three years, have you even learned enough to let you to live a dignified life, let alone enjoy a grand career? If so... can you tell me why Miss Qiu brought you back here?
Fang Xiaoshi I...
Qiubai ......
Hunter It's not that I can't bear to part with the land or this house.
I planned it all out. When the compensation money came through, I was gonna use it to go looking for you. And then, Moushan would've been my home no more.
But, you came back! Miss Qiu brought you back home!
When you walked back into the village, I decided. No matter what, I couldn't let you leave again.
I wasn't born here, I've seen what it's like out there... But, is that life any better than the one here in this mountain village?
In this world, there are many ways to live, but not everyone has the privilege of choosing theirs.
All I want is for you to be able to live your life in peace.
It's already hard enough to live a peaceful, ordinary life.
Fang Xiaoshi If by "living my life in peace" you mean spend the rest of my life with nothing, not even my own name, I don't want any of that!
Hunter A name is a small price to pay for food, money, and security for the rest of our lives...
Fang Xiaoshi I can't accept it, dad––
I'm not some weed growing in a crevice on this mountain. I'm not an animal that roams the vast wilderness.
I'd rather die than––
The boy's voice cracks from how emotional he gets, and he stumbles backwards in embarrassment, nearly falling over.
His voice is immature and hoarse, the strong wind atop the mountain tugging at his cracked voice as it trails off, distorted yet still coming across resolutely.
Hunter You really are a stubborn kid... I can't convince you, and it's not like I expect you to think about me...
But, I can't let you go down the mountain today, no matter what. If you press on anyway, I'm going to throw myself headfirst off the edge of this cliff.
Fang Xiaoshi ......
Qiubai ......
The hunter lowers his head. The boy seems to calm down somewhat, and though he still has more to say, he does not open his mouth again.
Fine sand splashes across the people's faces. In these desolate mountains, the wind is ever dry, even during spring.
Nobody says a word. The swordswoman quietly moves a few steps closer to the edge of the cliff.
Fang Xiaoshi Dad, lift your head and look at me.
Hunter (Shakes his head)
Fang Xiaoshi Dad, is it better for everyone if Fang Xiaoshi dies?
Hunter Yes...
"Fang Xiaoshi" should be no more.
[Xiaoshi leaps off the cliff.]
When he was little, he used to kick pebbles off the cliff one after another, patiently waiting for the sound to come from afar.
He, and his name, are just like those small stones.
And now, he has become one with those stones.
The speed with which he plummets from the cliff is not so fast. He even has time to think of the tuskbeast he and Qiubai saw in the woods, remembering the look in its dying eyes.
Was it one of unwillingness, panic, or... relief?
Is it the wind?
The wind supports his back.
<Background 5>
The spring breeze flows through the temple, kicking up a cloud of fine dust. The sun shines high overhead, the warmth outside contrasting with the temple's chilly interior.
The old man's hunched back quivers slightly, but he nevertheless remains seated.
The wandering monk draws two steps closer to him.
Clan Elder When I think back on everything that's happened over the last few days, it seems almost like a dream...
The man who went up the mountain to bury the explosives, the man who personally wrote the application letter to the government, and the man who lied to the investigator just now... Was that really me?
How nice it would be if you told me that this was all a dream.
Saga I recall a saying I once heard: "don't speak of dreams to fools." Dost thou now see thyself the fool?
Clan Elder Ridiculous, isn't it...?
Three years ago, Fang Xiaoshi left the village after blowing up the Yishan Temple. But, I used them myself that night... the very same explosives the boy had made.
Saga Hmm...
Clan Elder I remember rushing over to the hunter's house to dig out the unused portion of Fang Xiaoshi's explosives from his room. I originally intended to confiscate them for safekeeping so they would not be used for harm.
Who would've thought... that they really should've been kept from me?
Saga Oh, it all becomes clear.
Venerable Elder, at this juncture, what does your heart now tell you?
Clan Elder *sigh*
I don't care if I die now. I just feel... bad for those I've wronged.
Fang Xiaoshi... Though the boy was paranoid and reckless, it's not as if he was rotten at his core. He destroyed the ancestors' temple for the sake of his father, out of a sense of filial piety.
To make matters worse... None of this had anything to do with him. He was only fifteen, so young... and we drove him to his death...
The other boy... I don't know where he came from, or what he came here to do. But, he stayed here, and did not go back. Now, his family will never hear of him, no matter how much they cry and wail...
But, even when I prayed for him before my ancestors, all I could call him was 'Fang Xiaoshi'... I didn't dare consider whether his soul would be able to rest in peace, fearing that it would forever haunt Moushan Village.
[Saga walks toward the clan elder.]
Clan Elder Please, don't come any closer, Shifu.
Saga After hearing the prayer thou didst offer, I have been chanting sutras for the boy in my spare time these past few days.
A pity that my head priest never formally taught more than a few full sutras... But hopefully, my sincerity was enough.
Clan Elder ......
Now, everything has come to light. Those two lives... If the mandarins decide to pursue the leads, a dozen households, a hundred people, will all be implicated because of my actions.
I know how deeply I've sinned, which is why I do not dare beg forgiveness from the ancestors. All I can do, all I can do is...
[Saga stops...]
Saga Hyaa––
[...and swings her naginata at the elder...]
Saga Cease thine improper thoughts!
[...causing him to fall in shock.]
Clan Elder ......
Saga Huff––
This is the last pouch of explosives, yes?
Clan Elder I hid it on me, thinking you wouldn't notice.
I was planning on killing myself before you showed up, but after mulling it over some more, I couldn't even follow through with that.
Three years ago, Fang Xiaoshi was able to pull the string on the buried explosives. Looks like I don't even have the spine to match a child.
Saga Didst thou believe ending thy life would form an adequate solution to all that has happened here?
Wrong! Incorrect!
Clan Elder ......
Saga No, this is thine assumption that thou couldst abandon the situation, that thou couldst avoid living with the consequences.
The time when thou knew not that I was here, the words thou didst offer to the ancestors were full of self-pity for acting on behalf of the village, mentioning nothing of the explosives or of the boy's death!
Clan Elder ......
Saga That night, had the nameless boy not passed by the foot of the mountain, had the explosives dislodged naught but dirt and pebble, had the mudslide washed away only the Chidao, wouldst thou have come upon the same fate as now?
Couldst thou know if there was as well a little fowlbeast happening to fly by, stopping to preen its feathers only to be drowned in the sand and mud?
Clan Elder ......
Saga Now, what will become of the Chidao? And of this temple? And of the entire village?
Had the mudslide never come, thou ought yet repent for the rain that never should have fallen.
Clan Elder ......
I, I'll explain everything to the mandarins.
Saga *sigh*
The old man gathers the pieces of the dismantled explosives in front of him.
After kneeling for so long, he has nearly lost all sensation in his legs, and he falls to the ground again. The coldness pours into his forehead, and he feels as if he cannot stand back up, able to do nothing but prostrate himself lower and lower.
The two souls before him seem to be causing quite the uproar, but the mountain excavator does not pay them any heed.
A few pieces of mud have peeled off the eye sockets of the clay sculpture, and it is difficult to tell if its sight was fixed on the ruined beams of the temple or the desolate land just outside it.
Clear are the clouds and warm is the breeze, just in time for Chunfen.
<Background 7>
??? Are you awake yet?
[Qiubai is shown.]
Qiubai Your vision's a bit blurry, but you can still tell good from evil... Looks like your brain's intact.
Remember when I said before that you were at least afraid of death? Seems like you didn't hold onto that either.
Qiubai So, this is the third time I've saved your life.
You really had the guts to dive off that cliff, huh? I'm not a fowlbeast after all, and nearly lost my own life going after you.
Thank... you...
Qiubai Don't mention it. I was the one who brought you back, so of course I'd rather nothing happened to you. But I didn't expect you to actually jump, which slowed my reaction.
Qiubai If you don't feel like talking, then don't.
You can still walk, can't you? I'm not planning to head back to the village.
If you don't know where you want to go, I suppose you can follow me around for a while.
The Nameless Wanderers.png
Qiubai You asked me about my life story before, didn't you? Maybe this would be the right time to tell you.
Back when the army broke through the river fort at Jiangqi, my father and a number of the other bandits were put to death, but I managed to escape. To the government, I am also a person without a name.
There are many, many nameless people in this land. Just like you, just like me, just like the boy who nearly became "Fang Xiaoshi."
A name is certainly important, but it's more important for you to understand the meaning behind that name.
If you want to stand up and fight injustice, does it really matter what you are called? Sometimes, you'll make bigger waves and accomplish more things without a name.
Only by letting go of meaningless obsessions can we truly recognize what we are meant to do.
I don't expect you to understand my words right now. I have my own things to do, so I can't take care of you forever. But, if you truly want to learn kung fu, I can teach you for now.
When you're capable enough to establish yourself, or figure things out on your own, or find something else worth living for, you're free to leave at any time.
But, know that there are many who succumb to evil and cause calamity after acquiring power. If you become a man like that, I will kill you.
Qiubai Alright. I'll teach you another saying we have among jianghu martial artists. It pretty much means the same thing as 'there's always next time.'
Qiubai Lai ri fang chang. Tomorrow is long.
[Qiubai and Fang Xiaoshi the nameless boy walks off.]
Do you understand?
Then, hurry it up.


  1. Hanzi: 捕快, Pinyin: bǔkuài; policeman in imperial China