Wang Ting was furious. Originally, he only wanted to teach the drum officer a lesson and had no intention of killing him. Who would have thought that his strike would be too forceful and the drum officer couldn’t deflect the blow, resulting in his instant death. With this turn of events, the cheers in the training ground immediately ceased, replaced by a wave of fear. Wang Ting thought to himself that a true hero should take responsibility for his actions and report to the chief examiner that he had killed someone.
With a flushed face and an air of anger, Wang Ting rode his horse towards the chairman’s platform where the chief examiner sat. He sheathed his sword, dismounted from his horse, and knelt before the chief examiner, saying, “Reporting to Sir, this student has killed ‘Bie’!” The chief examiner, puzzled by the change in the atmosphere, pretended to be composed and said in an official tone, “What’s so remarkable about killing a ‘Bie’?” Wang Ting replied, “I killed a person named ‘Bie’!” Only then did the chief examiner realize the truth. Seeing Wang Ting’s handsome and dignified appearance, he couldn’t help but feel sympathy for his talent. He briefly inquired about the reason for killing ‘Bie’ and with a snort from his nostrils, he slowly said, “When you kill someone, you must pay with your own life!” However, he tilted his head and gave Chen Wang Ting a stern look, indicating that he should leave quickly. Wang Ting understood and bowed to the chief examiner, then swiftly mounted his horse. With a flick of his legs and a tug on the reins, the red horse’s hooves kicked up dust as it galloped away from the field.
At that time, the court was incompetent, eunuchs held power, and local officials extorted the people, causing their livelihoods to suffer. Faced with the oppression of the officials, the people rebelled, and they elected Li Jiyu, a martial arts scholar, as their leader. They occupied the Yudai Mountain in Dengfeng County, Henan, and gathered heroes from all over, resisting the unjust taxes and defending themselves. Their momentum grew, shaking the entire region north and south of the Yellow River. Chen Wang Ting participated in the martial arts examination, which was held in Wen County on the northern bank of the Yellow River. Dengfeng County, located about 150 li south of the Yellow River, was a sacred place of Buddhism. Shaolin Temple was situated southwest of Dengfeng County, known for the famous Song Mountain, a place with interconnected mountains and peaks. Often, there was a clear blue sky above and floating clouds stretching for thousands of miles below, making it seem like a fairyland. After escaping the training ground, Wang Ting rode southwest, covering more than a hundred li in one breath. However, his chestnut horse was already exhausted. To evade pursuit by the government, Chen Wang Ting took a narrow path deep into a secluded valley. There, he saw picturesque mountains and beautiful peaks, surrounded by blue skies and green waves. In the distance, beneath the precipitous cliffs, were two or three grottoes. Wang Ting pulled on the reins and approached the grottoes. He dismounted and entered one of the caves. Inside, he found several bronze Buddha statues and a well-prepared altar, creating an elegant and ideal hiding place. He decided to stay hidden there. Three days passed without any movement. Amidst the misty drizzle, Wang Ting ventured out of the cave in search of a path, heading southwest towards the Yudai Mountain. Riding his swift red horse, he quickly arrived at the foot of the mountain and galloped into the valley.
Between the two mountains, a small stream flowed. Above the stream, there was a mountain cave, and silence surrounded it. The red horse neighed with joy and rushed straight to the edge of the stream. Chen Wang Ting dismounted and scooped some clear water to wash away the dust from his face. As he took a few sips, he felt a slight sweetness in the stream, refreshing and delicious. Wang Ting found a place to sit down and rest for a moment, when suddenly, his chestnut horse let out a long neigh, “Wuliuli…” At an unknown time, a strong man wielding a knife rushed over, shouting, “This road is mine, this tree is planted by me. If you want to pass through here, leave some money as payment.” Chen Wang Ting focused his gaze and saw the man wearing a red silk headscarf and a coarse cloth robe, carrying a single-edged knife in his hand. Wang Ting shouted, “Who are you to dare to rob here? If you want to stay alive, get out of the way.” The big man not only didn’t listen but instead raised his knife to attack. Wang Ting, empty-handed, dodged and realized that the man was no match for him. He quickly fled. Wang Ting urged his horse forward, chasing after him. Unconsciously, they arrived at a mountain stronghold, where logs and stones blocked Wang Ting’s path. He used his spear to clear away each obstacle. Arrows were shot down from the mountain, but Wang Ting used his spear to deflect them and continued towards the stronghold. Someone had already reported to the stronghold’s leader. Instead of getting angry, the leader was delighted, thinking, “I am currently recruiting soldiers and horses. If I can get this general, he will be of great use.” So he quickly left his seat and went down the mountain to welcome Wang Ting. When the two met, they exchanged names. It turned out that the leader of the stronghold was Li Jiyu, who had risen up and occupied the Yudai Mountain. Both of them had heard of each other’s reputation for a long time and regretted not meeting sooner. Li Jiyu immediately held a banquet for Wang Ting to celebrate their meeting. As they drank, they discussed the corrupt politics of the Ming Dynasty, the internal and external troubles, the excessive levies, and the people’s hardships, engaging in a candid conversation that resonated deeply. As night fell, Li Jiyu arranged for Chen Wang Ting to stay in the stronghold.
Now let’s turn our attention to the mountain guard named Jiang Fa, who always doubted Wang Ting’s martial arts skills and sought an opportunity to compete with him. One day, Wang Ting had nothing to do and decided to explore various parts of the stronghold. As he walked, he coincidentally encountered Jiang Fa, the mountain guard. Jiang Fa recognized him as the person who had chased him up the mountain that day and saw this as an opportunity not to be missed. It was autumn, and the wildlife in the mountains was very active. Suddenly, a rabbit jumped in front of them. Wang Ting said, “Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my bow and arrows. We missed a good piece of meat!” Jiang Fa responded, “This is an easy matter.” He swiftly chased after the rabbit like a shooting star. Within a hundred steps, he returned, holding the rabbit by its hind legs.