Sunday, 13 August 2017

Fluttering Fragrance on the Bloody Sea

Sorry for the two weeks' hiatus. Was still immersing myself in the blissful realisation that Candy and Terry were finally reunited, ahahahaha! But I'm back now!

This tai-hap has the Chor Lau-heung vibe to me (Source)

Fluttering Fragrance on the Bloody Sea - a Chor Lau Heung original story by Ku Lung

I’m currently reading an original story of Chor Lau Heung by Ku Lung (Gu Long) in Indonesian. It seems the original title is Xue Hai Piao Xiang (血海飄香, Hyut3 Hoi2 Piu1 Heung1), but the Indonesian PDF was only titled as “The Romantic Thief” (“Maling Romantis”). The literal translation of the characters should be “blood, sea, float/flutter, fragrant”, which may be loosely translated to “Fluttering Fragrance on the Bloody Sea”. The PDF is 212 pages, and I’m only on Chapter 3. But it’s actually quite interesting, such that I’m determined to finish it.

It will take some time to finish it, though. One of the reasons is because the names in the story is written in Hakka (Hokkien), hence I have to get used to reading through the names. I can recognize Chor tai-gor’s name immediately though (“Coh Liu-hiang”), as well as So Yung-yung (So Yong-yong), Li Hung-chao (Li Ang-siu) and Sung Tim-yi (Song Thiam-ji). For the benefit of the readers, I’ll try to summarise this story per chapter. I won’t bother with standardizing the names; I will just write the Hokkien names in Hokkien, except for Chor Lau-heung’s and his adopted sisters; I’ll write them in Cantonese. If Wu Tit-fa appears, I will definitely write his name in Cantonese as well.

Chapter 1 (About a "Bi-jin" Jade)

Chor tai-gor stole a large jade sculpture from the house of a very rich Kim Pian-hoa in the Capital in a very funny way. The King of Thieves sent his usual warning letter to Kim, who immediately recruited three very skillful martial artisans to defend his jade: Ban Bu-tik (a.k.a. the Steel Strike, Silver Bark), Bald Eagle Toh Eng (the Enhanced Ears in White Clothes), and Seng-si-poan (whoever he was). At 1 am Chor Lau-heung appeared and, pretending that he actually had stolen the jade an hour earlier, lured the three people out and immediately snatched the original jade from the safe deposit.

Later, Chor Lau-heung returned to his Fragrant Boat, where he lazily sun-bathed on the deck while holding the jade sculpture (in the form of a beautiful woman. Once a Chor Lau-heung, always a Chor Lau-heung…). Chor tai-gor is described here as having “two thick eyebrows with manly attitude, yet his clear eyes showed his gentle heart. His straight nose showed his firmness in decision and action. Yet, once he laughed, his firmness turned into a gentle romance, his stern expression turned immediately to sympathy and compassion.”

Chor Lau-heung also had no scruples in boasting about his latest glorious robbery: “Ban Bu-tik is renowned for his excellence in martial art; rumour has it that his two steel pencils would easily immobilize the 218 points at one’s body. Yet when I moved around him, he just stood there unresponsive, as if just waking up from a dream. Really, the only one deserving some attention was the old Bald Eagle Toh Eng. The rest were just clowns.”

Li Hung-chao came on to the deck, dressed in a charming scarlet dress. She delivered a report to Chor tai-gor thusly: “The item you stole the other day has been sold for 300,000 taels. Of those, we have given Family Wong 1,000 taels, Family Tio and Thio 5,000 taels each, for Mr Ong’s funeral 1,000 taels, for Tio’s wedding 1,500 taels, for Mr X…”

When Chor tai-gor exhaled, Hung-chao resumed, “In short, the 300k taels is gone. Plus, I have used 4,000 of the extra 5,000 taels you gave me from your personal account for our daily expenses.”

When Chor tai-gor bitterly laughed and asked her to budget a little, Hung-chao commented how the people in gong wu (jianghu) had no idea that Chor Lau-heung also used his own money to help people, not just diverting his stolen goods to those in needs.

Next, we are introduced to Sung Tim-yi, whose loose swan-yellow dress failed to hide her smooth skin, yet whose village accent invited a rather snobbish comment from Li Hung-chao. I didn’t know that Tim-yi had a village accent… that’s interesting.  Tim-yi was still an excellent chef here, she cooked two grilled pigeons, some slices of ox meat, half a fried chicken and one carp for lunch, accompanying two plates of rice, a bowl of tomato juice, a bottle of red-brown wine and a ripe orange. Yum…

We learn here that Chor tai-gor loved eating. Yet, his lunch was disturbed when a dead body, floated towards his boat. Oh, and Miss Sung was scared of dead bodies.

Chapter 2: on dead bodies at sea

CLH et al found not just one, but five dead bodies. Those are: Cou Yu-cin the Deathly Seven Stars, Sebun Jian the Scholar with the Killing Hands, Ling Ciu-cu (one of the Three Swords of the Hay-lam Sect), Ca Bok-hap the Shadowless Sabre (a.k.a. the Desert King),  and a sari-wearing swordswoman who seemed to be the student of Sin-cui-kiong. Cou Yu-cin came from the Thian-sing Sect. Sebun Jian was from Cu-soa-bun in a city called Kilam. Ling Ciu-cu was from the Hay-lam Sect, while the only dead woman was from Sin-cui-kiong. Both sects were located a few days' journey from Chor tai-gor's current location. Ca Bok-hap came from the Western Desert.

 From their forensic, they concluded that at least four of the victims killed each other in a deadly fight; yet it was unlikely that the fifth victim was also killed by the same people in the circle of five victims. There should have been the sixth person who was responsible for the massacre. At least that sixth person was responsible for killing the Desert King Ca Bok-hap. CLH deduced that, after obscuring his tracks thus, the real killer eventually got away with a famous sabre called Toa-hong-to.

Here we are also introduced to So Yung-yung, whose long hair cascade down her back, gently covered by a flowing robe, and whose steps were as light as smoke. Yung-yung had a cold, hence she was downstairs during the first chapter. Tim-yi said that Yung-yung apparently had an aunt residing in Sin-cui-kiong.

Chapter 3 (about a very potent poison)

Chor tai-gor dived into the ocean, looking for a clue. Upon returning, he still had time to prank Tim-yi by throwing a fish into her robe. Tim-yi retaliated by hitting and pinching her tai-gor repeatedly. CLH said that, while he was swimming and diving the lake, he met Biau-ceng Bu-hoa, a skillful Shaolin monk who excelled in zither, painting, poetry and… also cooking (!). CLH met this new character three times prior to this story: three days and three nights drinking (CLH won), five days and five nights playing chess (a draw), and seven days and seven nights debating about Buddhism (CLH lost). CLH also met Lamkiong Ling, the new chief of the Kaypang (Beggar Clan). So, here we also learn that Chor tai-gor is actually an excellent drinker and very well-versed in Buddhism (although he still lost after seven days of contest).

We also learn that the Fragrant boat had rooms under the deck. As the gang entered the main bedroom (CLH’s), they found a woman sitting there on CLH’s favourite chair, drinking wine from CLH’s favourite cup. No one knew how and when the woman entered the boat. The very beautiful woman (whose beauty caught CLH off-guard) wore a white saree and silver sash. She was from Sin-cui-kiong, and she accused Chor tai-gor for stealing a “Thian it sin cui”,  a very potent poison that could kill a very strong person with a single drop.

CLH realised that that poison was used to kill one of the five martial artisans, hence he dragged his new guest upstairs, the woman allowed him to do so.

So Yung-yung exhaled and said, “Whenever he wants to drag the hand of a lady, said lady will not be able to object.”

Sung Tim-yi blinked and said, “It would be better if Sin-cui-kiong students were all males.”

“Females should be okay,” added Li Hung-chao, “As long as they are a bit ugly.”

“Better if they look like devils,” joked Tim-yi.

Me: LOL, this is so CLH, and the girls acted just like the three girls I know from the 1984 CLH!

Anyway, the only female dead body was apparently not from SCK, as observed by the new woman.


Additional comments:

It’s interesting to see that this original Ku Lung CLH story feels like the 1984 CLH that I’ve watched faithfully. This Chor Lau-heung was quick-wit, charming, smart, and excelled in gravity-defying art, as expected. However, it's interesting to learn that he actually also liked to eat! He might not be a glutton like Hong Qigong (LOCH), but apparently CLH also truly enjoyed food. I mean, in the 1984 series we've seen CLH eating, of course, but we never saw him gulping down his food a la Szeto Man-mo. Come to think of it, even though CLH liked eating, he would still be eating gracefully...(if that's even possible).

About the novel, I was reluctant to read it at first, hence the PDF had been sitting in my laptop folder for almost two years.  See, I read discussions on how Adam Cheng’s Chor Lau-heung saw the three girls more like girlfriends (with a romantic sense) than sisters, hence I have been reluctant to see Adam Cheng CLH series. However, so far CLH in this story acted like Michael Miu’s CLH. He was definitely quick to see a beautiful lady, and I think Michael’s CLH was like that too, at least in the beginning until he met Barbara’s Song Siu-ching. 

It's also interesting to know that CLH used his own money to help people (he surely invested his stolen goods somewhere, like in an ancient Hang-Seng or something?). And so funny to know that Tim-yi had a village accent!

Plus, I just realised that the Enhanced Ears Toh Eng would have been the model for Inspector Ying Man-lei in the 1984 Chor Lau-heung series. Both were different people, but both had their ears damaged, thus they received enhanced ears as a compensation. 

Will be interesting to see how the story unfolds…

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