A Heart Divided – Read-along, Chapter 9

Or, The March of the Mongols
And, Guo Jing is Always Guo Jing

Who is the mysterious benefactor hidden in Guo Jing’s army who is giving him strategic advice? Will he ever reunite with Lotus? Is there any chance that these questions will be answered at the same time?

The Mongols move west, conquering and sacking cities, moving deeper into the Khwarazm Empire. Guo Jing’s regiment does well, and our plucky lad grows into a competent leader of his troops. 






The Mongols move west, conquering and sacking cities, moving deeper into the Khwarazm Empire. Guo Jing’s regiment does well, and our plucky lad grows into a competent leader of his troops. 

One day Viper shows up out of the blue. He disables Guo Jing’s guards and breezes into his tent like he owns the place. Viper wants to know where Lotus is.

Guo Jing is shocked to see his mortal enemy here, but also delighted to hear that Lotus is not with him. Viper has been searching for Lotus since she slipped away from him at Roaming Cloud Manor. Viper has tracked her all over and believes that she is hidden amongst Guo Jing’s troops. He has been watching Guo Jing’s progress and feels that he can’t have had his successes without Lotus’ aid.


Viper threatens Guo Jing for the information (which Guo Jing doesn’t have) and the two men come to blows. Viper is still stronger, but the speed at which Guo Jing is advancing is worrisome to the older master. The Beggar clan leaders arrive to help and Viper realizes he is now outnumbered. He agrees to Guo Jing’s terms.

Guo Jing proposes that he will allow Viper to find Lotus, and that she will explain the Nine Yin Manual to him if she chooses. In return Guo Jing will spare Viper’s life the next three times they meet. Viper agrees and runs off. Guo Jing confronts the Beggar clan masters, but they still deny that Lotus is anywhere nearby.

The next day Surefoot Lu brings Guo Jing a painting that he says he ‘found’ but feels Guo Jing would appreciate more than he. The painting depicts a young woman who looks a lot like someone we all know. The poem speaks of lovers joined by fate, never to be parted despite odds against them.

Huh. What an…interestingly appropriate piece of art for him to find.

Before Guo Jing and inquire further about the painting Viper returns! Surefoot Lu suggests an interesting tactic. They will dig a deep hole, cover it with a rug, and wait for Viper to fall into the hole. They will have soldiers positioned around the hole to throw heavy sandbags on top of him and trap him in the hole.

Yes, it’s literally a plan too dumb to fail. =)

Viper indeed falls into their trap and is buried under sand. The master uses his impressive kung fu to dig under the ground, trying to burrow his way out. Guo Jing orders his mounted soldiers to ride their horses over the sand to keep him under. The activity finally stops and after some time Guo Jing orders his men to dig Viper out of the sand.

Of course, Viper was only feigning death, using his neigong to preserve his energy, waiting to be dug out. Guo Jing lets Viper go, as he agreed to.

Surefoot Lu proposes that they dig yet another hole for Viper again. Guo Jing is hesitant, but Lu’s logic is that the plan was so dumb the first time, there is no way Viper would expect them to do it again.


It works! Viper again falls into the hole! I mean, they set it up the same way both times. You’d think he’d be at least a little suspect. 

This time, rather than sand, the soldiers are prepared with cauldrons of water. With winter having set in, the water freezes as it descends on Viper, trapping him in a column of ice. Guo Jing has his men lash ropes to the ice and pull out a column of ice with Viper sealed inside.

Hey! He did it before David Blaine did it!

After two hours, Guo Jing has his men break the ice and free Viper. Oh, the ignominy. Again, Viper leaves.

Guo Jing’s regiment is called to join the Great Khan’s forces in laying siege to the capital city of Samarkand. The city houses a large garrison of troops behind stout walls, and the city is well-provisioned. But in order to advance further into the Khwarazm, the city must be taken. The Mongols try several times to breach the walls and in one of their attempts, the Khan’s favorite grandson is killed with an arrow that is marked with Wanyan Honglie’s name. 

Yes, this guy is here, stirring up trouble again. Genghis Khan decrees that whoever breaches the city and brings him Wanyan Honglie will have the spoils of the entire city as a reward.

Now Guo Jing really wants to get into the city. He gives Surefit Lu an ultimatum to meet with Lotus.

The city of Samarkand is built so that it backs up upon an unscalable mountain, Bald Tree Peak. The Beggar clan masters tell Guo Jing that he can meet Lotus if he is able to make it to the top of the mountain. That night the beggars help Guo Jing scale the mountain in truly grisly fashion. They slaughter a sheep and…


…they stick the bleeding animal to the frozen rockface, where it freezes in place. They stand on the…quarter sheep?…move up and freeze another piece of a slaughtered animal to the mountain. In this way they make a gruesome ladder of animal parts to the top of the mountain.

Guo Jing ascends the mountain and of course finds Lotus at the top. Cue the joyful, swelling music! They reconcile and have a nice moment. At the last moment Lotus realizes that Viper is spying on them, so she says they should meet on the mountain again, tomorrow night.

The next night they go up the mountain again, but this time they run an oil-soaked rope up the ladder as they go up. They leave first and light the rope, burning off all the animals and stranding Viper at the top of the mountain.

Before he freezes to death at the top of the mountain, Lotus spots Viper jumping off the top of the mountain. He has used his clothing to fashion a makeshift parachute and he floats gently down the side of the mountain. The Mongols try to shoot him out of the sky but he comes down far enough to dive into the city to safety.

Of course, this is the Mongols’ path into the city. Guo Jing orders his men to cut up their tents and make parachutes. The next night his regiment ascends the mountain and they leap off the peak at first light. Guo Jing and his men land inside the city and secure one of the gates, opening it to allow in the rest of their troops.

The city soon falls, although the Shah flees and escapes. 

In the aftermath, Lotus brings Wanyan Honglie to Guo Jing. She captured him trying to escape in disguise. She suggests that Guo Jing can present the captive to the Khan and then use his reward to request breaking his betrothal to Khojin.

The time is here. Guo Jing is finally going to avenge his father by killing Wanyan Honglie. He brings the prisoner to Genghis Khan. The Khan is pleased and has Wanyan taken away to be executed. Guo Jing has mixed feelings about not being the one to kill him, but he realizes that delivering the killing blow is not necessary.

As they are discussing Guo Jing’s reward, terrible cries arise from the city. The Khan’s men are slaughtering all the residents of the city, as punishment for the death of his grandson. Guo Jing is horrified at the display, and instead of using his reward to ask for release from his betrothal, he instead asks for clemency for the people of the city. 

The Khan is incensed, but agrees.

Later, Guo Jing is summoned to Genghis’ tent, and there he finds Khojin (awkward) with Qiu Chuji. The Taoist master has realized that the Mongols will likely conquer all of China, and he hopes to earn some influence with the Khan, to prevent the wholesale slaughter of the people of China. 

Genghis Khan asks Qiu Chuji about prolonging his life, but the monk only replies with answers about refraining from the waging of war and the slaughter of innocents. He dismisses Guo Jing and the Taoists.

The sack of Samarkand doesn’t seem to be nearly as dramatic as depicted here, but the Mongols definitely ran over the city like a bulldozer. 


The city was rebuilt after Mongolian conquest. The picture is the Registan, a central public square that was built in the Timurid Renaissance, immediately following Mongol rule.

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