A Nail To A Kingdom (2. The Loser's Dream)
2. The Loser's Dream
After a few more moves, the situation in the central region cleared up even to DF’s eyes. Black sacrificed the tail of a big dragon, but gained additional 20 some points for his territory. DF counted the scores for both sides, and found that they were very close.
“Ai-ya, my dear divine, whom do you want to assign to take me to the festival?” DF’s mind was asking secretly.
The sun was setting gradually. It was the time for mosquitoes to start venturing out. But the game was still dragging on, because both players sensed the importance of the game, and the closeness of the scores. Every man on earth desires to look like a hero in front of his favorite lady.
“Hi, who is winning ah?” a neighbor passed by, asking. He was carrying a rack on his shoulder. The handle was a bamboo stick, and even the rack and the pegs were all made of bamboo. There were abundant bamboo bushes in Da Ze village. Furthermore, several years ago, the government ordered the civilians to hand in most of the metal parts of their household tools, for the reason that it would be difficult to organize any revolutions against the government.
He looked in his late 30s. Several years ago, his daughter was drafted by the government to join an expedition in search of immortal herbs. The former emperor was convinced by some Taoist priests that there was an island, located east of China. There grew immortal herbs. Therefore, a team, consisting of approximately 400 girls and 400 boys, led by a captain named Xu2 Fu2, boarded on a big ship, sailing eastwards.
They sailed, and drifted for a couple of days, and eventually discovered a big island, known as Japan today. They landed, but of course found no immortal herbs. Had they returned to China, their heads most likely would have been chopped off anyway. So, they wisely decided to stay, live, and multiply. If you were Xu2 Fu2, you would, too. No? Today, there remain temples in Japan, in which Xu Fu’s statues are present, and sometimes worshiped.
“Mr. Wu, don’t know la. I am so hungry, and these detested mosquitoes, get away from me,… but they are still playing.” DF answered. She knew him only by the name of Mr. Wu. In this Da Ze village, most of the folks bore one of the following 4 last names: Chen, Li, Lin, and Wu. Her own last name was Lin.
“Which one of them do you want to win?” Mr. Wu continued to walk away, showing little interest of coming near to take a look at the game. Or perhaps he simply did not want to come near DF, who might remind him sadly of his own missing daughter.
“Let the divine decide ba,” was her honest answer. Mr. Wu waved his hand, and strolled away in the dusk.
Now, they even started a ko that was worth about 3 points. But 3 points were quite a few for this close game of theirs.
“Hey, if it is up to me, I want you two to stop the game right now, and do scissors-rock-paper 3 times. The winner of 2 of 3 wins the game. How about that?” DF suggested.
Both Chen and Li did not object to her idea. Either by the game result or by the scissors-rock-paper result, the chance was 50/50. Besides, DF was the person they surely could not afford to displease. So, Chen gestured to mess up the stones on the board.
“Hold it!” Li suddenly yelled out, and placed his white stone at an obscure spot. Because of that move, it was clear that the ko threat the black played became non-threatening. Hence Li ignored the threat, won the ko, and won the game.
Chen now felt sad. He did not say another word. After they picked up the Go stones and put them into the containers, he stood up, carried his own stool, shook his head, took a glance at DF, and walked away, murmuring incessantly, “should not have lost, should not have lost,…” DF and Li said bye and good night to him, but he did not bother to turn his head to reciprocate.
Although DF felt sorry for Chen’s loss, she did not like his behavior. She was almost certain that, had it been Li who lost the game, Li would have appeared more gentleman-like and courageous. Now, she was glad that Li won the game.
“Thank you, my dear divine,” Her heart was saying.
On the day of the festival, Li rented a horse from his neighbor for one day for 8 copper coins. One of very few constructive things the emperor of Qin2 dynasty did was to unify the currency and the measurement units for the whole China. Prior to Qin2, China fell into a dark warring era. Qi2 kingdom fought Yan4 yesterday; Wei4 fought Zhao4 today. Then Cu3 and Han2 allied to fight Qin2 tomorrow, on and on. That era was known to be 7-kingdom warring state. Pitiful civilians could not live peacefully even for a brief moment. It was Qin2 who unified the country.
He and DF rode the horse together, cheerfully heading for the neighboring town. He reined the horse, and DF held his waist from behind. Da-Ze was situated in the former Chu3 kingdom. Folks in Chu3 were known to be relatively liberal at that time. Unmarried boys and girls were allowed to have minor physical contacts. It would be a one-hour horse ride. DF prepared some rice mo1 mo1 tou2 (rice cooked and squeezed into spheres or buns, mixed with some pickles and dried fish) for them to bring and eat.
Chen went alone on foot. He did not want to bump onto other couples, to embarrass himself. So he left the village before dawn. When he arrived in the town, streets were already crowded with people. Vendors selling a huge variety of goods lined up along the sidewalks. Buyers, especially lovers holding hands, browsed around.
Suddenly, a sedan carried by four bearers moved near. The leading bearer steadfastly marched foward, and yelled out, “Stay off, stay off!” while trying to pass through the crowded street.
“Hmmm, this must be town mayor’s sedan. As I enter my adulthood, I vow to succeed, to become as powerful as this mayor did. By then, Di Fen will turn her affection toward me..., or else my life is not wroth living,” he was thinking.
As soon as the thought of sweet DF invaded his mind, her cherry-like lips and her pampered facial expressions also emerged along. He tried to wipe off from his mind the imagined scene of DF and Li riding together on a horse, by nonchalantly reciting a famous line in Shi1 Jing1 (an ancient Chinese poems collection), “yao2 tiao3 shu2 nu3 (fair ladies), jun1 zi3 hao4 qiou2 (gentlemen desire to seek)…”
My dear readers must know that the tyrannizing Qin2 government had prohibited its civilians from reading those poems. In fact, it ordered that those books written by Confucius and other scholars, as well as those poetry books including Shi-Jing be handed in voluntarily and be burned.
“Arrest him!” a shouting arose from behind him, and his left arm was suddenly grabbed and twisted to behind his back.