Dragon Sword

A blind swordswoman in China seeks revenge on the cunning and deadly Manchu general who killed her parents.


11. flashbacks


This is a novel beyond words.




This is a film devoid of images.




This is blind swordswoman Zu four days later padding in her frayed straw sandals into a dusty Western border town on the edge of the Gobi desert. Wearing dark dust-strewn clothing and a straw hat and tapping her way with a bamboo cane -- one that contains a famous blade of ancient forging. This sword was hammered in a smoky cave-forge by the founder of the Dragon Sword Cult long ago high up in the mountains of north China. That was long ago and the cult had died out but for one hermit living on the wild mountain above the city where Zu's parents died and where she herself just a little girl was trampled and cut by the sword of a bearded Manchu who left her bleeding. She slept in the snow it covered her she was blind and bleeding then the hermit found her at sunrise he wrapped her in a bearskin robe he took her back to his cave and built a fire of twigs she woke and saw nothing but smelled the fire she felt his hand softly on her brow where the blood had frozen and was now starting to bleed again he fed her a bowl of herbs simmered in hot water and she slept a long time seeing fragments of her life she was only five years old then and in her dreams she could see brilliantly.



Then one day in her haze of pain she heard the old hermit playing breathy sharp notes on a flute, he let her touch it later it was a long flute of hard bamboo, he let her put her lips to it, he taught her bit by bit how to make those sharp heart-piercing notes and then certain dark melodies.



You could make this the opening shot of a movie and if you did you would be careful to show Zu's black dusty clothing and her battered straw hat and the gourd strung by a thin rope from her sash in which the brackish water from a mountain spring sloshes hollowly and the faded blue cotton bag slung over her left shoulder in which she carries a bamboo flute and some barley cakes and a white woolen scarf for covering her face in the sudden storms that drive up from the deserts whistling hot sand. 

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