Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre Chapter 6-10

@Chapter 6 - Floating Northward in the Endless Sea
Yin SuSu turned pale upon hearing Xie Xun’s challenge towards Zhang CuiShan, after seeing Bai GuiShou, Chang JinPeng, Yuan ChangBuo, Mai Jing, Guo SanQuan, and others all died in Xie Xun’s hands. Although Zhang CuiShan has incredible kung fu skills, he’s still no match for Xie Xun. She said, “Elder Xie. Now that the Dragon Saber is in your hands, and everyone recognizes your superior kung fu, what else could you possibly want?”

Xie Xun said, “There’s an old saying regarding this saber. Do you know about it?” Yin SuSu said, “Yes, I’ve heard about it.” Xie Xun said, “It’s been said that anyone who holds this saber will rule the land. But what exactly is the secret that makes it so powerful?” Yin SuSu said, “Elder Xie is much more knowledgeable than I am. Please enlighten us.” Xie Xun said, “I don’t know either, which is why I need to find a peaceful place to find out.” Yin SuSu said, “Oh really? Elder Xie’s intelligence is unparalleled. If you can’t even figure it out, then I’m sure no one else in the world could.”

Xie Xun said, “Although I am arrogant, there are still many who are superior. For example, Shaolin’s Reverend Kong Wen…” He paused here for a moment, a hint of regret appearing on his face, “… Shaolin’s Reverends Kong Zhi and Kong Sheng, Wu Dang’s Taoist Zhang SanFeng, the leaders of E Mei and Kun Lun. All of them have unbelievable skills. Although the Qing Hai Sect lies far in the western regions, its kung fu is mysterious and exceptional. The Ming Sect’s Left and Right Messengers… Awesome! Even your Heavenly Eagle Sect’s Leader Yin, White-Browed Eagle King, is an exceptional talent. I doubt I could defeat him.”

Yin SuSu stood up and said, “Thank you for your kind words.” Xie Xun said, “I want this saber, but so do others. Leader Yin made a mistake, for there is no one here who can match me in kung fu. He thought that Branch Leaders Bai and Chang were more than enough to handle the likes of the Sea Sand Sect or the Huge Whale Clan. But he never expected someone like me here…” Yin SuSu cut in, “It’s not that Leader Yin made a mistake. Something important came up at the last moment, so he couldn’t make it.” Xie Xun said, “That makes more sense. Had Leader Yin been here, I would’ve never came. First, because I doubt I could defeat him. Second, because we used to be old friends, so it would look quite bad for me to take saber from him openly. Leader Yin had always been a calculative person. It would seriously hinder his image for this saber to fall into my hands.” Yin SuSu, upon knowing that he was a friend of Leader Yin, decided to try to talk him out of challenging Zhang CuiShan, said, “It’s really hard to figure out how people think, how the Heaven thinks. That’s why the saying goes, ‘Planning depends on man, While success depends on Heaven’. Elder Xie really is lucky that you can obtain the saber so easily. While others who might’ve spent countless hours caculating could not.”

Xie Xun said, “After it came into existence, this saber had been in possession of countless people. Each died from owning the saber. Even though I have the saber today, what’s there to guarantee that a more powerful person wouldn’t take it from me?”

Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu looked at each other, thought that there’s something deeper behind Xie Xun’s words. Zhang CuiShan thought once again of Yu DaiYan, who was injured only because of his relationships with the Dragon Saber. While he himself is now likely to die after simply viewing this saber.

Xie Xun sighed, said, “Both of you are knowledgeable in both philosophy and martial arts, look handsome and beautiful. If I killed you, it would be like shattering two priceless porcelains, a pity really. But I have to kill you two.” Yin SuSu asked, “Why?”

Xie Xun said, “If there’s anyone left alive on this island, soon everyone will know that I had obtained the Dragon Saber. By then, many will come to take the saber away from me. I’m certainly not invincible. How could I be sure that the saber won’t be taken away? Forget others for a moment, just White- Browed Eagle King himself might possibly defeat me, not to mention all the other capable people in the Heavenly Eagle Sect who could help him.” As he spoke, he shook his head, said, “Yin TianZheng’s both outer and inner power strength and ferocity are unparalleled, and has my greatest admiration. To think, back in the days…” He sighed deeply, shook his head.

Zhang CuiShan thought, “So the leader of the Heavenly Eagle Sect is called Yin TianZheng.” He said coldly, “Are you going to kill us all to prevent any witnesses?” Xie Xun said, “That’s correct.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Then why do you have to point out the crimes of those people before killing them?” Xie Xun laughed, said, “This is so you people can die without regret, so you can die a little happier.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Looks like you’re a kind person.”

Xie Xun said, “Who in this world can escape death? What’s so different from dying a few years earlier and a few years later? It’s a shame that you two youngster, Fifth Hero Zhang and Miss Yin, would die such an early death. But in the context of history, your deaths really would mean nothing. Even had Qin Gui not killed Yue Fei back then, would Yue Fei have survived till today? One person should only ask to die in a peaceful fashion. It’s not easy for us martial artists to die without regrets. That’s why I want to challenge everyone here to their most accomplished ability, so they can die fairly. You two are still young, so I’ll give you a break. Choose any form of competition you like: weapons, fists, inner power, hidden weapons, lightness kung fu, underwater kung fu, whatever. I’ll agree to anything.”

Yin SuSu said, “Well, aren’t you arrogant. Anything’s ok?” From Xie Xun’s words, she knew that there’s no chance to escape. WangPan Island is isolated from everywhere else. With two Branch Leaders on hand, the Heavenly Eagle Sect would certainly not feel that reinforcements are needed. So although her words are sharp, her tone was quite uneasy.

Xie Xun thought, “Wait a minute. What if she proposes that we compete in embroidery? Or brushing hair or applying makeup? Then what do I do?” So he said, “Obviously it must be a martial arts competition. Or did you want to compete in eating and drinking? Actually, I’d probably win in those competitions too. Alas, I really don’t want to kill a lovely young couple like yourselves.”

Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu’s faces both turned red upon hearing the words ‘a lovely young couple’.

Yin SuSu’s elegant expression turned to a frown, asked, “If you lose, will you commit suicide too?” Xie Xun said with a smile, “How can I lose?” Yin SuSu said, “There’s always a chance to lose in any competition. This Fifth Hero Zhang is a renowned disciple. He just might be better than you at something.” Xie Xun said, “Even if he knows exquisite techniques, there’s no way his inner power is close to mine.”

While they conversed, Zhang CuiShan thought, “What should I choose to compete with him? Lightness Kung fu? My newly learnt fist form?” Suddenly he thought of something, and asked, “Elder Xie, if you force me to fight, then I shall agree to one. Should I lose, I will commit suicide immediately in front of Elder Xie. But what if we drew?”

Xie Xun said, “Then we compete in something else, until there is a winner.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Fine. Should I win, I won’t ask you to commit suicide, just to grant me a single request.” Xie Xun said, “Agreed. Now state your rules.”

Yin SuSu said with great concern, “What are you going to compete in? How sure are you of success?” Zhang CuiShan whispered, “Not sure. I can only try my best.” Yin SuSu whispered, “If you lose, then lets try to escape.” Zhang CuiShan did not respond, thought, “Where can we escape now that the boats have all sunk?” He adjusted his robe and took out his Iron Judge’s Brush. Xie Xun said, “I’ve heard that you are known as ‘Iron Brush and Silver Hook Zhang CuiShan’. Where’s your Silver Tiger Hook? Why not take it out.” Zhang CuiShan said, “I don’t want to fight you, just compete in writing some words.” As he spoke he walked over to a high mountain, with a smooth cliff. Zhang CuiShan took a deep breath, and jumped high into the air. His Wu Dang’s lightness kung fu absorbed the best of each other sects. At this moment of life and death, he obviously used it to its full potential. As his body rose several meters into the air, Zhang CuiShan used the advanced ‘Cloud Stairs’, lightly tapped the side of the mountain, and shot up several more meters. The judge’s brush on his right hand swiftly began to make strokes upon the stone surface. Quickly, the word ‘martial’ appeared. After he finished, he began to drop down.

At this moment his left hand took out his silver hook, which quickly held on to the side of the cliff, allowing him to regain his balance. Then his right hand wrote out the world ‘world’. Each word contained all of Zhang SanFeng’s original ideas from that night, encompassing both hard and soft techniques. The words demonstrated some of the deepest martial arts philosophies of the Wu Dang style. Although the words aren’t deeply etched due to Zhang CuiShan’s shallow inner power, the speed and detail in which he wrote them are incredible.

When finished, Zhang CuiShan followed it with the word ‘most’, and ‘venerable’. He began to write faster and faster, only to see dusts falling down the cliff, until twenty-four characters were etched onto cliff. This engraving really seemed like Li Bai’s poem: “[Seriously, you don’t REALLY think I can translate a non-butchered version of a poem by the most famous poet in China, do you? Now pretend that you’ve just read something very beautiful, very poetic, and very applicable to this situation. Use your imagination, folks! ^_^ ]”

When Zhang CuiShan finished writing the last character, ‘compete’, he pushed off on the cliffs with both the brush and the hook. With a flip in midair, landed by Yin SuSu’s side.

Xie Xun kept on staring at the words, after a long, long moment of silence, he finally sighed, said, “I can’t write that. I lost.” For you see, the way these twenty-four words were written involved ideas that only Zhang SanFeng thought up of. Each stroke contains a powerful technique. Even Zhang SanFeng himself, before the night he invented these techniques, would be hard pressed to duplicate Zhang CuiShan’s work. Xie Xun obviously did not know the details regarding the origins of Zhang CuiShan’s writing. He only thought that Zhang CuiShan wrote these exact words out of inspiration, upon seeing the Dragon Saber. Had Zhang CuiShan been forced to write any other words, he would not be able to create such a great piece of composition.

Yin SuSu clapped her hands loudly, yelled, “You lost, can’t go back on your promise.”

Xie Xun looked at Zhang CuiShan, said, “Fifth Hero Zhang’s calligraphy really is one of a kind. I’ve never thought I’d see anything like this. You have my admiration. What do you demand?” Because of his promise, Xie Xun had to say this, but he obviously did not wish to in his heart.

Zhang CuiShan said, “When it comes to knowledge, I’m far inferior to Elder Xie. It would be hard for me to ‘demand’ something. But I do have a single request.” Xie Xun said, “What is that?” Zhang CuiShan said, “You may take the Dragon Saber off the island, but leave everyone here alive. You may have everyone here swear that they do not reveal your secret.”

Xie Xun said, “Do you think I’m that stupid? That I’d believe their stupid promises?” Yin SuSu said, “Since you lost, you have to do what he says. Or are you going back on your promise.”

Xie Xun said, “So what if I don’t deliver on my promise? What are you going to do?” But after thinking a while, he felt his words sounded very unreasonable. So he said, “I’ll spare you two’s lives, but not the others.” Zhang CuiShan said, “The swordsmen from Kun Lun are disciples of a righteous sect. You really should…” Xie Xun shook his head, said, “Who cares? Doesn’t matter who they are. Hurry up and tear off two pieces of cloth from your clothing. Stuff them into your ears. Then cover your ears with your hands. If you value your life, do as I say now.” He spoke the last few sentences in a whisper, as if afraid someone might hear him.

Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu looked at each other, not knowing what he planned on doing. But considering Xie Xun’s serious tone, they both did as directed.

Suddenly they saw Xie Xun opened his mouth, as if yelling loud. Neither could hear what he’s yelling, but they could feel the ground vibrate, only to see everyone else with their mouth open, as if screaming in pain. Their faces then turned pale, almost in torture. After a while, one behind another, they fell to the ground.

Gao and Jiang immediately went into a meditative position when they heard Xie Xun, trying to fight off the noise with inner power. Sweat came pouring down their heads quickly afterwards. Several times they tried to cover their ears, but failed each time. Until finally, they suddenly jumped up into the air, fell down, and stopped moving.

Xie Xun closed his mouth, made a gesture, so Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu took out the cloth in their ears. Xie Xun said, “These people are now all unconscious from my scream, but their lives won’t be in danger. When they wake up, they’ll become retarded and forget everything in their past. This way, they won’t divulge my secret. Fifth Hero Zhang, I’ve granted you your request. I did not kill any of them.”

Zhang CuiShan thought, “Although you did not take their lives, their situation is possibly worse than death.” He absolutely despised the cruel manner in which Xie Xun did things. Looking at the people on the ground, he shuddered at the thought of what would happen to him should he had heard that roar.

Xie Xun’s face remained expressionless, said, “Let’s go!” Zhang CuiShan said, “Where to?” Xie Xun said, “Back home, of course! What else is there to do here?” Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu looked at each other, both thought, “Looks like we’ll have to be with this demon for another day. What else might happen during this time?” Xie Xun led them over a mountain in the back of the island, until they saw a boat docked by the beach. Xie Xun walked to the boat, bowed, and said, “Please step up onto the boat.” Yin SuSu smirked, said, “Well, since when did you turn into a gentleman?” Xie Xun said, “By coming onto my boat, you are my honored guests. Of course I should be courteous to you.”

After getting on the boat, Xie Xun made a hand gesture, ordering the sailors to leave shore.

There are sixteen sailors, yet they all used hand gestures with each other, as if they’re all mute. Yin SuSu said, “You are certainly something, to be able to find so many mute-deaf sailors.”

Xie Xun said, “What’s so hard about that? First I find some illiterate sailors. Then I shatter their hearing with a roar. Then feed them some drugs to make them mute.”

Zhang CuiShan shuddered inside. Yin SuSu clapped her hands, and said with a smile, “That’s a great idea. Since they’re deaf-mute, they certainly could not divulge your secrets. Too bad you need them to sail, or you’d probably blind them too, I bet.” Zhang CuiShan looked at her, said in a lecturing tone, “Miss Yin. Why do a girl like you only think of ways to hurt people? This is a sad story. How could you laugh at it?” Yin SuSu stuck out her tongue at him, about to argue, but thought better of it upon seeing his expression. Xie Xun said calmly, “After I get back to the mainland, of course I’ll blind them.” Zhang CuiShan looked at the sailors, thought, “In a day you’ll all be blind too.”

The masts raised, the ship began to move. Zhang CuiShan said, “Elder Xie. Are you just going to leave these people here? How are they going to get back?” Xie Xun said, “Mr. Zhang. You are a pretty good guy. The only problem is that you’re too mindful of other people’s businesses. What’s wrong with leaving these people here on their own?” Zhang CuiShan realized that it’s impossible to talk any sense into this man, and decided to stop talking altogether. He thought, “Although most people on the island aren’t good people, it’s still a terrible fate that they’ve suffered. The elders of Kun Lun sect would surely look for their disciples now that they’re going to die here. Unfortunately, yet more troubles in the martial world.”

For the past years, the seven Wudang heroes had always gotten the upper hand in any confrontation they’ve faced. Who’d have thought that he, Zhang CuiShan, would be a prisoner here on this boat? Angry and dejected, he decided to calm down and meditate, ignoring Yin SuSu and Xie Xun.

After a while, he looked out the window into the sea, staring at golden the sun setting in the distance, a beautiful scene. Suddenly, he trembled, thought, “Wait, why is the sun setting to the back of the boat?” He turned around and asked Xie Xun, “The sailors are sailing in the wrong direction. We’re going east.” Xie Xun said, “I know. We’re supposed to go east.”

Yin SuSu said in shock, “But there is only water to the east. Where are we going?”

Xie Xun said, “Haven’t I been clear enough? After getting this saber, I want to seek a place to rest, to find the secret of the Dragon Saber, to know why it can rule over the martial world. In the central plains, there’s no way I can hide for very long before someone find out about my secret. Then I’d have to spend a ton of effort just fighting off those seeking the Dragon Saber. Besides, should those enemies be the likes of White-Browed Eagle King or Zhang SanFeng, I might lose the saber too. No… it’s much better to rest in a faraway island, where I can settle down.”

Yin SuSu said, “But you have to take us back first.” Xie Xun said with a smile, “Wouldn’t my secret be divulged upon your return?” Zhang CuiShan stood up and said loudly, “Then what do you want?” Xie Xun said, “Simple. I just want you two to live on the island with me.” Zhang CuiShan said, “What if you can’t even figure out the secret after eighteen years? Xie Xun said, “Then you’ll live with me for eighteen years. If I never figure it out, then you’ll live with me forever. You too are a perfect match for each other. How about becoming husband and wife on the island, and have kids? Heheh, now wouldn’t that be nice?” Zhang CuiShan yelled angrily, “Don’t you dare say that sort of thing!” He looked around, only to see Yin SuSu’s head lowered, her face incredibly red.

Zhang CuiShan shuddered, realized that if he spent any more time with Yin SuSu, he might not be able to control his emotions. Xie Xun’s a powerful opponent, his heart is yet another one. It really is best for him to leave this place as soon as possible. Suppressing his anger, Zhang CuiShan said, “Elder Xie, you should know about my reputation. I am willing to make a solemn promise, that I will not divulge anything I saw and heard today.”

Xie Xun said, “I’ve heard of your reputation, that your words can be trusted. But I made a promise when I was twenty-eight. Look at my finger.” As he spoke he raised his left hand. Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu both saw that his pinky on the left hand has been cut off.

Xie Xun said, “That year, the person I respected, loved the most ruined me. He killed my whole family, my parents, wife, and kid. From that moment on, I promised to never trust a single person again. Today I am now forty-one. For the past thirteen years I’ve only been friends with wild animals. I trust animals, but not people. In these years I’ve killed more humans than animals.”

Zhang CuiShan shuddered, realized just why has no one heard of him despite his amazing kung fu. That event when he was twenty-eight must’ve devastated him. That’s why he has turned his hatred upon society. Zhang CuiShan originally only despised Xie Xun, but now he couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. After a while, he said, “Elder Xie. I take it you’ve already had your revenge.”

Xie Xun said, “No. The person who ruined me is superior at kung fu. I can’t beat him.” Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu both gasped, said, “Better than you? Who is this person?” Xie Xun said, “Why should I speak of him? It only brings back painful memories. If it weren’t for revenge, why do I need to take this saber? To find out its secret? Mr. Zhang, I really like you. Otherwise, I would’ve never let you two lived in my usual temper. It’s certainly quite abnormal for me let you live a while longer. Hopefully it wouldn’t be a problem.”

Yin SuSu said, “What do you mean by ‘a while longer’?” Xie Xun said, “When I understand the secrets within this saber and leave the island, that’s the day I shall kill you. So the longer it takes for me to find the secret, the longer you two shall live.” Yin SuSu let out a ‘humph’, said, “Actually, this saber is just a bit sharper than other weapons, and can withstand lots of heat. What secret could it possibly contain? I bet ‘Controlling all under Heaven, None dares to not follow’ simply meant that it can break all other weapons into pieces.”

Xie Xun sighed, said, “If what you’re saying is true, then the three of us will live on the island forever.” Suddenly his expression turned pale, as if he felt this just might be the case. Then he would have no chance at revenge.

Zhang CuiShan wanted to say some word to lessen his worry. Only to see Xie Xun blow out the candle, said, “Let’s go to sleep.” Followed by a long, deep sigh, which contained infinite pain, infinite despair, almost inhuman, as if wild beast sighing before its death.

The cold wind came into the cabin again and again. Yin SuSu did not wear much. After a while, she began to quiver. Zhang CuiShan whispered to her, “Miss Yin, are you cold?” Yin SuSu said, “I’m fine.” Zhang CuiShan took off his robe and said, “Put this on.” Yin SuSu was very grateful, said, “You don’t have to. You’re cold too.” Zhang CuiShan said, “I’m not afraid of the cold.” As he spoke he put the robe on Yin SuSu’s hand. Yin SuSu took it and put it over her shoulder, still feeling the warmth of Zhang CuiShan’s body on the robe. She felt very content in her heart, and couldn’t help but smile brightly in the darkness.

Zhang CuiShan, on the other hand, was only thinking of ways to escape. After a long time, he felt that there’s only one way out, “We must kill Xie Xun to escape.”

He listened closely at his surrounding, only to hear heavy breathing from Xie Xun mixed with the sounds of the ocean. He thought, “He had made a promise to not trust another person. So why can he sleep so soundly in the same room as us? Does he have a special sixth sense that guards him from sneak attacks? Either way, I must attack now. Otherwise, I’d have to waste my entire life on an island with him.” He quietly moved towards Yin SuSu, so he could whisper in her ear. But Yin SuSu unexpectedly turned toward him at this exact moment. As a result, Zhang CuiShan’s lips fell right on top of Yin SuSu’s.

Zhang CuiShan was shocked, about to explain his rudeness, but didn’t know where to start. Yin SuSu happily put her head on his shoulders, at the moment she only felt infinite warmness and kindness in her heart. Her only wish was for this boat to remain sailing on forever, as she would gladly remain in this exact moment for the next hundred years. Suddenly she heard Zhang CuiShan whisper by her ear, “I’m very sorry, Miss Yin.” Yin SuSu’s face had long been bright red, as if a big, red flower had grown on her face. She whispered back at him, “I’m very happy that you really like me.” Although she’s always been brash, and kills people without hesitation, Yin SuSu is still like any other girl when it comes to her first romance. Surprise, happiness, and confusion all mixed into her heart. If it weren’t for the darkness, there was no way she would’ve said those words.

Zhang CuiShan was incredibly surprised. He never thought his apology would make her divulge her true feelings. Yin SuSu’s dazzling beauty is rarely seen, and from the very beginning has had feelings for him. These eight words further showed exactly where her heart lies. Even though Zhang CuiShan is upright and straightforward, and never thought about romance, his heart has nonetheless been moved at this moment. Only to feel her soft body resting on his shoulders, a faint fragrance entered his nose. He wanted to say something romantic towards Yin SuSu, but then suddenly remembered, “Zhang CuiShan. In a dangerous situation like this, how could you be so undisciplined? Have you forgot all about your master’s teachings? Even if you love her, and she loves you, she’s still born of an evil sect, and has done terrible things in her life. At least you should wait till you’ve met the master, and have him officially arrange a marriage for you. How can you do this sort of indecent deed in a dark room like this?” When Zhang CuiShan thought of  this, he  immediately  straightened up,  then  whispered into  Yin SuSu’s ear, “We need to find a way to get this person under control, so we can escape.”

Yin SuSu was originally in a daze, but quickly returned to reality, asked, “How?”

Zhang CuiShan said, “If we attack him in his sleep, it would be very dishonorable. In a moment, I’ll wake him up and match palms with him. You can immediately release your silver needles from the side. Although it’s not right to fight two-on-one, he’s too powerful for either one of us. This is our only chance.”

These words were spoken very softly. Plus, Zhang CuiShan had his mouth stuck tightly on Yin SuSu’s ears when he spoke. Yet before Yin SuSu could respond, Xie Xun started to laugh, said, “If you had snuck up on me, even though it wouldn’t have been successful, at least you had a tiny chance. Yet you just had to maintain your righteous image, and fight me openly. Well, you asked for it.” When he finished his sentence, Xie Xun’s body dashed towards Zhang CuiShan, his palm aimed at Zhang CuiShan’s chest.

Zhang CuiShan had been gathering chi at the moment Xie Xun started to speak. By the time Xie Xun attacked, Zhang CuiShan matched his palm, using Wudang’s ‘Soft Palms’ in return. As the palms touched, Zhang CuiShan felt his opponents’ force came crushing down upon him like a mountain. Zhang CuiShan knew his opponents inner power is far superior to his own, and has long decided to concentrate only on defending.

Xie Xun’s force came in three waves, only to feel that Zhang CuiShan’s power is much weaker, but never declining, never exhausted. No matter how powerful his palm strike is, Zhang CuiShan somehow managed to block it. Xie Xun raised his left hand and attacked Zhang CuiShan’s forehead. Zhang CuiShan blocked it with the technique ‘Golden Support Beam’. Wudang’s strength lies in its minuteness, vastly different from other sects’. So despite their huge difference in ability, Xie Xun could not finish off Zhang CuiShan in a short period of time. Sweat poured down Zhang CuiShan’s face, his strength nearly gone, thought, “Why haven’t Miss Yin used her silver needles yet? Xie Xun is just concentrating on me right now. If she attacks him, then he’ll have to release his palm to block the needles, at which time I could wound him with my palm.

Of course, Xie Xun thought of all this too. He originally planned to take out Zhang CuiShan with one swift blow. Unfortunately, he underestimated his opponent, for Zhang CuiShan’s inner is much better than he imagined. As the two matched palms, both studied Yin SuSu’s movements. Zhang CuiShan could not break off concentration to speak, but Xie Xun had no such problems, said, “Little girl. I suggest you don’t try anything brash. For if I changed my palm into a fist, I can easily break all the bones in his body.”

Yin SuSu said, “Elder Xie, I’ll simply promise that we shall follow your orders. Please let go of him.” Xie Xun said, “Mr. Zhang, what do you think?” Zhang CuiShan couldn’t speak, but he thought angrily, “Come on, release your silver needles. How could you not take advantage of an opportunity like this?” Yin SuSu said hastily, “Please release your palms, Elder Xie. If you hurt him, I’ll fight you till my last breath.” Actually, Xie Xun is quite afraid of Yin SuSu’s needles. This cabin is quite small. The needles are tiny and move without sound. He really would have much trouble blocking them. He could kill Zhang CuiShan immediately, but doesn’t really want to, thought, “This little girl must be afraid of me, which is why she hasn’t made a move yet. If this continues, the result would be bad for everyone.” So he said, “Then you make a promise on his behalf.” Yin SuSu paused for a moment, then said, “Fifth Brother Zhang, I know we’re no match for Elder Xie. Let’s just follow him to his island for a year or two. With his intelligence, he’s bound to figure out the Dragon Saber’s secrets by then. I’ll make the promise for you!”

Zhang CuiShan thought, “What stupid promise? Hurry up and fire the needles!” He hated the fact that he couldn’t talk, nor make any gestures in the darkness. Besides, with his hands tied, Zhang CuiShan couldn’t make any hand signals anyway. Yin SuSu did not hear any response from Zhang CuiShan, so she said, “I, Yin SuSu, and Zhang CuiShan will remain with Elder Xie on his deserted island, until he finds the secrets to the Dragon Saber. Should we break the promise, we shall die under a saber or sword.”

Xie Xun said with a smile, “What’s so special about dying under a sword or saber for people like us?”

Yin SuSu gritted her teeth, said, “Fine, then let me die before the age of twenty!” Xie Xun let out a hearty laugh, and retracted his palms.

Yin SuSu quickly lit up a nearby candle, only to see Zhang CuiShan’s face looking like gold paper, his breathing very subtle. She hastily grabbed a handkerchief from her pocket and began to wipe away the sweat off of Zhang CuiShan’s face.

Xie Xun said with a smile, “Wow. Wu Dang disciples really are worthy of their fame.”

Zhang CuiShan had been annoyed at Yin SuSu for not firing her needles, but as he saw her teary, worrisome face, Zhang CuiShan began to appreciate her genuine concern. He took a deep breath, about to say something to her, when suddenly he blacked out, only to seemingly hear Yin SuSu yelled, “Xie Xun, you’ve tired Fifth Brother Zhang to death. I’ll kill you.” But Xie Xun simply laughed her off.

Suddenly, Zhang CuiShan’s body fell to the side, rolling on the ground for a moment, while hearing Xie Xun and Yin SuSu both scream at the same time. Amidst their screams, the massive wind howled, and huge waves began to bombard the boat continuously.

Zhang CuiShan’s whole body shivered, his mouth drank a large amount of salt water. Originally semi-conscious, he’s now fully awake. His first thought was, “Has the boat sunk?” He doesn’t know how to swim, and immediately try to stand up. The deck below his feet suddenly tilted to the left, and a batch of seawater poured out the boat. Hearing the huge wind howling, Zhang CuiShan felt his whole body drenched with water. Before he realized exactly what had happened, Xie Xun yelled, “Zhang CuiShan, hurry to the back of the boat and grab the helm!” This yell sounded like thunder. Even while in a this huge storm, his voice still carried a strange splendor. Zhang CuiShan did not think too deeply, immediately went to the back of the boat, only to see a black shadow flash before his eyes, as a sailor got washed off the boat, and into the sea.

Before Zhang CuiShan made it to the helm, another tidal wave struck, this one hit like a brick wall, severely shaking the boat. By this time Zhang CuiShan had gathered up all his ability, his two feet fixed tightly to the boat’s surface, as if they were nailed to it. When the wave passed, he quickly darted towards the helm, holding the steering wheel.

Only to hear ka-cha-cha, ka-cha-cha sounds in the distance, as Xie Xun waved his mace, tearing down the front and the middle masts.

But even with just one mast in the rear, the boat still danced wildly in the sea. Xie Xun wants to roll up the back mast, but couldn’t in this weather, as part of it has sunk into the water. Xie Xun yelled angrily, “Damnable Heaven, stupid wind!” Seeing the boat about to tip over, Xie Xun was forced to cut off the rear mast too.

Without the masts, the boat can no longer change directions, and can only travel to where the wind takes them.

Zhang CuiShan yelled loudly, “Miss Yin, where are you?” He yelled several times, without hearing any response. After a while, his yells contained crying. When suddenly, a hand held on to his knees.

By the time another wave had passed, that hand had grabbed his neck. A voice said, “Fifth Brother Zhang. Do you really care for me this much?” Indeed the voice of Yin SuSu. Zhang CuiShan, joyous at her appearance, grabbed the helm with his right hand, Yin SuSu’s body tightly with his left, said, “Thank goodness!” He thought happily, “Oh, she’s still here. She didn’t fall into the sea.” At this moment when each wave could easily wash them into the sea, Zhang CuiShan suddenly realized that his concern for Yin SuSu outweighed even his own life.

Yin SuSu said, “Fifth Brother Zhang, let us die together.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Yes! SuSu, let us die together.”

Under normal circumstances, there would be many apprehensions regarding them being together, like the fact that one’s good and one’s evil. So even if they were in love, it would not be nearly as close as they are right now. At this moment, in this dark, tumultuous environment, where each moment maybe their last, there is only unspeakable serenity in each person’s heart. Despite the fatigue Zhang CuiShan suffered in his duel against Xie Xun, he has never felt more energetic now due to Yin SuSu’s affection, and therefore could hold on to the helm tightly.

All the mute-deaf sailors had now been washed into the sea. Only Xie Xun and Zhang CuiShan’s powerful martial arts kept them from having the same fate. Thankfully, the boat is incredibly sturdy, and kept together despite getting hit wave after wave.

In this type of weather, no one knows just which direction they’re headed. Even if they did, it wouldn’t have mattered, for they could not control the ship anyway.

Xie Xun walked to the rear of the ship, said, “Brother Zhang, that was great, now let me take over the helm. You two should go rest inside the ship.

Zhang CuiShan stood up, and was about to go into the cabin with Yin SuSu, when another wave hit. This one came very unexpectedly, and threw Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu overboard.

With the sea right below them, Zhang CuiShan instinctively grabbed Yin SuSu’s wrist with his left hand. His only thought was, “To die with her under the sea, never to part again.” Just as he grabbed Yin SuSu, a rope tied around his right hand, only to feel his whole body being pulled backward. For Xie Xun had noticed what had happened, and saved them by throwing out a rope. With two loud thuds, the two people landed back on the boat again. This escape from death was certainly quite unexpected. Even Xie Xun thought they were quite lucky. If he hadn’t had a rope by him, Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu would’ve been dead by now.

Zhang CuiShan carried Yin SuSu into the cabin, while the ship still floated among the huge waves, their fate yet very much unknown. But after going through that near-fatal situation, both people had stopped caring about life and death. Inside Zhang CuiShan’s embrace, Yin SuSu said into Zhang CuiShan’s ears, “Fifth Brother Zhang, should we live through this, I’ll be with you forever.” Zhang CuiShan’s heart jumped, said, “I wanted to say the same thing. Whether in Heaven or Hell, on Earth or under the sea, we’ll always be together.” Two hearts as one, they actually began to appreciate this storm that brought them together.

In Xie Xun’s mind, though, there’s only extreme anger and complaint. No matter how strong his martial arts ability, he’s still at the mercy of the wind and water. Only the Heavens can determine fate.

After about six hours of perpetual storm, the sky finally cleared, revealing bright stars above.

Zhang CuiShan walked to the rear end of the boat, said, “Elder Xie, thank you for saving our lives.” Xie Xun said coldly, “Don’t thank me just yet. Our lives are still at the mercy of this Damnable Heaven.” Zhang CuiShan has never heard anyone put the word ‘damnable’ in front of ‘Heaven’. He thought a person must be incredibly angry at the world to think such a thing. He then pondered, it looks as if they’re going to float on this boundless sea forever, without really any chance of returning home. For this to happen just at the moment he and Yin SuSu fell in love, is like to have just tasted the finest wine in the world, only to have it snatched away. Hearing Xie Xun’s use of ‘Damnable Heaven’, he finally could understand just what the phrase ‘fate toys with humans’(common Chinese proverb) means.

Zhang CuiShan sighed, and then took over the helm. Xie Xun went to take a rest after working hard all night. Yin SuSu sat by Zhang CuiShan’s side, and looked at the stars in the night sky above. She found the North Star, and saw that the water is carrying them in that direction. She said, “Fifth brother, this boat is continuously moving north.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Yes! Hopefully it will go west too, so we can return to the mainland.”

Yin SuSu was spellbound at the scenery for a while, before saying, “I wonder where we’ll end up if this boat continues east.” Zhang CuiShan said, “There’s only water to the East. We don’t have any water, so we can only last seven to eight days…” Yin SuSu, who had just experienced love, still felt like living in a dream, and didn’t want to think about the negatives. She said, “I heard that there’s a celestial mountain in the Eastern Sea. Immortal beings live on that mountain. Perhaps we’ll sail to that mountain, meet gods and goddesses…” Then she pointed to the Silver River*, said, “Perhaps we’ll sail right into the Silver River. When we get there, we’ll see the Cow Herder and the Lady Weaver meeting on the Magpie Bridge**.”

*Note: Chinese term for the Milky Way.

**Note: For those who don’t know, ‘The Legend of the Cow Herder and the Lady Weaver’(pinyin: Nuo2 Lang2 Zhi1 Nu3) is a very popular romantic folk tale. Here’s what I know about it, although I’m not sure how detailed or accurate I am:

**(Note, cont…) The Chinese Mythology is similar to Greek mythology, in that the gods live in a world of their own. In Chinese myth, the gods’ world is simply Heaven. An Emperor and an Empress rule the Heaven. They had seven daughters. One of them is the Lady Weaver (the star constellation Vega in the sky, or Lady Weaver star constellation for the Chinese). Lady Weaver one day decided to sneak down to the world of the mortals(aka Earth). She then fell in love with a cow herder. They got married and had two children together. However, the Empress found out about their relationship, and needless to say got really pissed. She went down to Earth to take back her insolent daughter. On their way back to Heaven, the cow herder chased after them, carrying their two children in two buckets, which he carried using a pole on his shoulder (The Cow Herder star constellation, not sure of its English name, is aptly three stars, a bright one in the middle, with two dimmer stars to its sides). To stop him from chasing, the Empress took out her hairpin, and made a cut through the sky, creating the Silver River(Milky Way). The cow herder could not get across the river, and could not therefore see Lady Weaver again.

**(Note, cont...) However, their tale deeply moved the magpies(magpies are a type of bird, which are suppose to be the bearer of good news in ancient Chinese superstitions). So on the seventh day of the seventh month of each year, thousands of magpies would fly above the Silver River and make a bridge filled with birds. This way, the cow herder and Lady Weaver could meet on the bridge.

Zhang CuiShan said with a smile, “We can give the boat to the Cow Herder, so if he wants to meet Lady Weaver, he can just take the boat over, instead of having to wait till the seventh day of the seventh month for the magpies.” Yin SuSu said, “If we give the boat to the Cow Herder, then how are we going to meet?” Zhang CuiShan said, “In Heaven or Hell, on Earth or under the sea, we’ll always be together. Since we’re going to be together, then why would we need to cross the Silver River?” Yin SuSu smiled brightly, as if a flower bloomed on her face. She held Zhang CuiShan’s hands, gently caressing it.

The two has thousands of romantic words to say to each other, but don’t have to really say any at all. After a long, long time, Zhang CuiShan lowered his head, only to see tears flowing down Yin SuSu’s eyes. He said in shock, “Why are you so sad?” Yin SuSu said softly, “On Earth, under water, I might be able to stay with you. But when we die, you will go to Heaven, and I… I… will go to Hell.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Oh, that won’t happen.”

Yin SuSu sighed, said, “I know I’ve done too many evil things in this life. I’ve killed so many people that I’ve lost count.” Zhang CuiShan shuddered, and realized that her vicious ways really makes her a flawed match for him. But because he’s too in love with her, and they’re most likely going to die soon in the middle of the sea, he did not think too much about it. He tried to calm her, “As long as you can correct your ways, everything will turn out fine.” Yin SuSu did not say anything. After a while, she began to sing.

She sang with the tune of the ‘The Hillside Sheep’.

“He and I, I and he, so worried about each other. Enemies, how could we become fated to love, by dying in front of the gates of Hell, letting the devil torture, getting beat by a mallet, boiled in a frying pan, ouch! [followed by some other words of torture , too lazy to translate…]”

Suddenly they heard Xie Xun yell in the cabin, “Great song. Miss Yin, that’s much more to my liking that this fake gentleman here.”

Yin SuSu said, “You and I are both evil people. Fate will certainly bring us misfortune.”

Zhang CuiShan whispered, “If you ever have a misfortune, then I’ll have the misfortune with you.”

Yin SuSu yelled happily, “Fifth brother!” so happy could not add another word.

The next morning had clear skies, and Xie Xun used his mace to catch some fish. After starving for a couple of days, the three people didn’t really care that the fishes were raw. There is no fresh water on the boat, so they drank fish blood for water.

The sea continued to carry them northward, facing the North Star each night. The Sun continued to rise on the right, and set on the east. Their directions did not change for over ten days.

The temperature became colder and colder. Due to their high inner powers, Xie Xun and Zhang CuiShan had no problems coping, but Yin SuSu’s health began to deteriorate. Xie and Zhang both took off clothes for her to wear, but that still didn’t help. Seeing her faint smiles, trying to fight off the cold, Zhang CuiShan felt unspeakable pain in his heart. He thought that if they continued north, Yin SuSu would certainly die from the cold.

However, their luck finally came when the boat met a school of seals. Xie Xun killed several seals with his mace, and they then covered themselves in sealskin, so thick they felt like putting on a coat. They also ate the seal meat.

That night, Yin SuSu asked with a smile, “What’s the best wild animal in the world?” The three of them answered together, “Seals!” At that moment, they heard a sound from the front of the boat, only to see a large chunk of ice hitting the side of the boat.

Their moods turned sullen upon seeing this. As they travel further and further north, the temperature would get colder and colder. Until the boat would likely freeze, which would be the day they die.

The next morning, they found chunks of ice. Xie Xun smiled bitterly, said, “I can’t believe this. I tried to find the secrets to the Dragon Saber, and ended up turning into an iceman. What a joke.”

He picked up the Dragon Saber, and said angrily, “To Hell with this saber!” He then tried to throw it away, but stopped at the last moment, sighed, and put the saber back into the cabin.

After four more days, the surface of the sea is now mostly covered with think pieces of ice. The three of them decided to ignore their condition. But that night, they heard a thunderous noise, trembling the entire boat.

Xie Xun yelled, “Awesome! It’s a big iceberg!”

Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu smiled bitterly, but still held on to each other tightly, only to feel cold water up to their legs, as the boat began to sink. They heard Xie Xun yell, “Jump up to the iceberg. Even living an extra day or so would be good. Humph, the Damnable Heaven wants me to die now, but I won’t let him get his wish.”

Zhang and Yin went to the head of the boat, only to see the moon’s silver rays reflected off the iceberg, a very beautiful, but also terrifying, sight. Xie Xun is already sitting on the side of the iceberg, reached out with his mace, so Yin SuSu and Zhang CuiShan both could use it to get onto the iceberg.

The boat disappeared after a while.

Xie Xun put two sealskins on the ground, so they can sit on top of them. This iceberg looks like a small hill, about sixty meters long, thirty meters across, much more spacey then the boat. Xie Xun looked around, said, “This is actually not a bad place. I can stretch a bit here.” As he spoke he got up and walked around. Although the iceberg is very slippery, Xie Xun’s steps are as secure as they would be on normal ground.

The iceberg floated with the water, yet still towards the north. Xie Xun said with a smile, “Looks like this Damnable Heaven sent us a boat, so we can go to the North Pole to meet the North Pole’s immortal old man.” With the man she loves by her side, Yin SuSu seemed to be satisfied completely. Even had the sky fallen, she would still not have cared. Of the three people, only Zhang CuiShan worried about their situation.

The iceberg floated for another seven days. In the daytime, the sunlight created a blinding light upon reflected off the iceberg, so they had trouble seeing. The three then decided to simply sleep during the day. Then they would catch fish and other animals at night. Oddly enough, the days became longer and longer as they sailed further north, until daytime lasted twenty- two hours. The night seemed to pass in an instant.

Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu’s health became worse and worse, but Xie Xun seemed to be quite well. Each day, he would point to the sky and curse continuously at Heaven.

One day, while Zhang CuiShan’s sleeping, he suddenly heard Yin SuSu screaming in his dream, “Let go of me, let go of me.” Zhang CuiShan immediately woke up, only to see Xie Xun holding Yin SuSu’s shoulders, his expression that of a wild animal. Zhang CuiShan had been worrying about Xie Xun’s expressions lately, but never thought he’d try to hurt Yin SuSu. He said in a hurry, “Let go of her!”

Xie Xun said threateningly, “You bastard. You killed my wife. Fine, I’ll kill your wife today, leaving you to live alone in this world.” As he spoke his left hand began to choke Yin SuSu’s throat. Yin SuSu let out an ‘Ah’ in response.

Zhang CuiShan said in shock, “I’m not your enemy. I didn’t kill your wife. Elder Xie, please regain consciousness. I am Zhang CuiShan, not your enemy.”

Xie Xun froze for a moment, yelled, “Who is this? Is she your wife?” Zhang CuiShan, seeing Xie Xun choking Yin SuSu, hastily said, “She’s Miss Yin, Elder Xie. Not your enemy’s wife.”

Xie Xun yelled madly, “Who cares? My wife was killed, my mother was killed, I’m going to kill all the women in the world!” As he spoke, his grip tightened, so Yin SuSu couldn’t even let out a sound.

Zhang CuiShan realized that Xie Xun was mad, and couldn’t be reasoned with. So he quickly gathered his energy, and shot out his palm towards Xie Xun’s back. Xie Xun met the palm with his own. With the slippery surface, Zhang CuiShan fell onto the ground. Xie Xun’s right foot came up, about to kick him on the waist. Zhang CuiShan quickly tapped the ground with his hand, and sprung his body back up. Xie Xun then took back his foot, and instead, his right palm came at Zhang CuiShan’s forehead.

Yin SuSu turned around, and attacked with her left hand, aimed at Xie Xun’s head. Xie Xun ignored her and concentrated on Zhang CuiShan. Zhang CuiShan matched his palm, only to find himself unable to gather up much chi from his body. As Yin SuSu hit Xie Xun on the forehead, she felt something very hard hitting her hand, and retracted her palm in pain. Xie Xun turned to look at her, his eyes bright red, as if there’s fire burning within them. He tightened his grasp even more.

Just at this moment, light shined from the north side, many different strands of light, very suddenly in the darkness. First came purple lights, each strand darker and longer than the previous. Within the purple light carried golden light, blue light, green light, and red light. Xie Xun, in his surprise, gasped, and put down Yin SuSu. Zhang CuiShan felt that the force coming from Xie Xun gradually dissipated.

Xie Xun, with his hand behind his back, walked towards the light, and simply stared at it. Of course, the light they’re seeing right now is the aurora borealis. But no one in China at that time had seen it.

CuiShan held Yin SuSu closely, their hearts beating rapidly.

Xie Xun, for the rest of the night, did not move, simply stared at the light. When daytime came, he regained his consciousness, and started to converse normally.

Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu both thought, “No wonder he’s so sad. His parents and wife were all killed. Wonder who the killer was?” Afraid that Xie Xun might go crazy again, they did not broach the subject with him.

Many days passed by, when Xie Xun started to act abnormally again with his curses, and his eyes turned red. Although they never talked about it, both Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu were careful to guard against another attack.

One day, when the sun did not set at its usual time, Xie Xun yelled, “Damn it! Even the sun is trying to piss me off now. If I had a bow and arrow, I’d shoot you down this instant!” Suddenly he grabbed a piece of ice and threw it towards the sun. After traveling about sixty meters, the ice dropped into the water. Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu thought, “Wow, what arm strength. I probably can’t even throw half as far.”

Xie Xun threw one piece of ice after another, until he threw about seventy pieces. He found that no matter how many he threw, the son still remained too far for him to hit.

Yin SuSu said, “Elder Xie, perhaps you should rest a while. Ignore the sun.” Xie Xun looked back at her, staring into her eyes. Yin SuSu was terrified, but forced a smile. Xie Xun suddenly screamed, jumped up and quickly grabbed her, yelling, “Choke you to death! Choke you to death! Why did you kill my mother, why kill my son?” Yin SuSu felt like an iron hoop gagged around her neck, and this hoop became tighter and tighter.

Zhang CuiShan tried to pry Xie Xun’s arm off of Yin SuSu, but could hardly move it. Seeing Yin SuSu about to die, Zhang CuiShan’s attacked Xie Xun, hitting the ‘Shen Dao Point’ on Xie Xun’s back. His fist felt like hitting a solid rock, while Xie Xun continued his grip on Yin SuSu. Zhang CuiShan yelled, “If you don’t let go, I’m going to use weapons.” When he saw Xie Xun ignoring him, Zhang CuiShan took out his Judge’s Brush and pointed at Xie Xun’s ‘Xiao Hai Point’ on his arm. Xie Xun retracted his right hand from Yin SuSu, and grabbed the brush with it, then threw the brush into the sea.

Feeling the grip loosening, Yin SuSu quickly spun out of his hold. Xie Xun’s left hand reached for Zhang CuiShan’s head, while his right hand tried to grab Yin SuSu’s shoulder, tearing off a piece of Yin SuSu’s seal coat. Zhang CuiShan knew that if he simply dodged Xie Xun’s attacks, Yin SuSu would be caught. So instead of running away, he attacked Xie Xun, using the Soft Palm’s ‘Carefree Flying Flower’. Strangely, when his palm met Xie Xun’s, he felt like being pulled in, unable to get free.

After controlling Zhang CuiShan, Xie Xun dragged him along while chasing Yin SuSu. Yin SuSu jumped away, but before she could get back to the ground, Xie Xun stomped on the ice with his foot, and several ice pellets flew out, all hitting her on the right leg. Yin SuSu let out a scream and fell down.

Xie Xun then sent out a huge force towards Zhang CuiShan, pushing him backward, flying. This push was so strong Zhang CuiShan landed by the edge of the iceberg. With a slip as he tried to regain his footing, Zhang CuiShan fell off the edge, into the sea. End of Chapter 6. 
@Chapter 7 - Who Sent the Ice Boat to This Heavenly Village
(Translated by Meh)   Zhang CuiShan embraced Yin SuSu tightly as they rolled a few times on the ground, getting out of the way, only to hear loud sounds of ice cracking, as Xie Xun smashed his mace wildly on the icy surface surrounding him. He then put down the mace, raised a roughly hundred-pound ice over his head, paused a moment to hear their location, before hurling the ice towards Zhang and Yin’s direction.

The silver hook in the left hand reached out, holding onto the ice mountain, then Zhang CuiShan sprung back up to the surface. He thought Yin SuSu must be in Xie Xun’s hands by now. But instead, only to see Xie Xun’s hands covered his eyes, yelling in pain, while Yin SuSu lied on ice.

Zhang CuiShan quickly picked her up. Yin SuSu whispered, “I… I hit his eyes…” Before she could finish, Xie Xun let out a roar, charged at them. Zhang CuiShan embraced Yin SuSu tightly as they rolled a few times on the ground, getting out of the way. Only to hear loud sounds of ice cracking, as Xie Xun smashed his mace wildly on the icy surface surrounding him. He then put down the mace, raised a roughly hundred-pound ice over his head, paused a moment to hear their location, before hurling the ice towards Zhang and Yin’s direction.

Yin SuSu wanted to run away, but Zhang CuiShan held her still. The two of them hid in a depressed region of the iceberg, neither even dared to breath loudly. But after throwing and missing that block of ice, Xie Xun became motionless, as if trying to hear their location. Zhang CuiShan saw blood trickling down his eyes, knew that Yin SuSu at the last moment finally released her silver needles. And in his mad, unconscious state, Xie Xun was not able to block them in time, becoming a blind man. Yet his hearing is still just as great. Should they make even the slightest noise, Xie Xun would find them. Thankfully, with the sounds of waves, wind, and ice hitting each on the sea, Xie Xun could not hear their breaths. Otherwise, they’d probably be dead by now.

After listening for a while, and still unable to locate them, Xie Xun felt the pain in his eyes. With the shock of only darkness meeting his gaze, in addition to his innate anger, Xie Xun suddenly let out a terrible scream, then began to thrash his surrounding area senselessly. He would pick up pieces of ice and throw them wildly in different directions. Only to hear ‘ping, ping’ sound endlessly. Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu embraced each other tightly; so scared their faces became pure white. As the endless waves of ice came in their direction, both knew that even getting hit by one of them could mean instant death.

Xie Xun did this for about an hour, but to Zhang and Yin, it felt like years.

Realizing the futility of throwing ices, Xie Xun suddenly stopped, said, “Mr. Zhang, Miss Yin, I was temporarily a bit reckless, as insanity took over my mind. Sorry about the trouble I’ve caused. Please forgive me.” He said these words in a courteous tone, as if returning to his original state.

But after their experience, neither Zhang nor Yin dared to respond. Xie Xun repeated his apology several times, and when he realized there would be no response, stood up. Xie Xun sighed, said, “I don’t blame you for not forgiving me.” As he spoke, he took a very deep breath. Zhang CuiShan suddenly realized something, for Xie Xun breathed the exact same way before he let out the howl on WangPan Island. Of course, his howling would not be affected by his blindness. In this critical moment, there’s no time for them to cover their ears. So without thinking too carefully, Zhang CuiShan grabbed Yin SuSu and jumped down into the sea.

Before Yin SuSu knew what’s going on, Xie Xun began to howl. Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu drowned into the water, which also covered their ears. Zhang CuiShan’s left hand grabbed onto the iceberg with his hook, while his right hand embraced Yin SuSu. Other than his left hand, all parts of their bodies remained underwater. Yet even so they could still feel the vibrations from Xie Xun’s howl. The iceberg continued to travel northward, carrying them along. Zhang CuiShan was thankful that he used and lost his brush earlier. Had he lost his hook, even if Xie Xun’s howl hadn’t kill them, the sea would have.

After a while, the two people raised their mouths over the water surface to change air, as their ears remained underwater. Only after six such exchanges did Xie Xun stop howling. Since the howl used up much of Xie Xun’s inner power, he felt tired, and sat down to regain his strength. Zhang CuiShan signaled Yin SuSu, and they climbed back up the iceberg quietly. Both people then ripped off some pieces of sealskin and covered their ears.

They’re safe for now, but as long as they reside on the same iceberg as Xie Xun, any noise could mean the end. The two looked at each other with worry, and then gazed upon the western sky, where the sun still had not set. They didn’t know that this is the effect from being near the North Pole. Zhang and Yin only felt like being near the edge of the world.

Yin SuSu, unable to withstand the cold water now soaked all over her cloths, shivered, her teeth made some noise as she uncontrollably gritted them. Upon hearing such noise, Xie Xun screamed, grabbed his mace and charged at them. Zhang and Yin were prepared, and quickly evaded, only to hear a loud ‘Ping!’, as the mace smashed down on the iceberg surface with at least six hundred pounds of force, causing seven pieces of huge ice chunks to fly in all directions. Astonished at the sight, the two then saw Xie Xun sweep the mace in their direction. This mace is already over three meters in length. With this sweep, its power extended to over fifteen meters, forcing them backward. After retreating a just few steps, they’ve arrived at the iceberg’s edge.

Yin SuSu gasped, but Zhang CuiShan grabbed her wrist, gathered his energy, and jumped into the water. While in midair, they heard loud crackling noises from behind, as several pieces of ice hit them in the back, causing much pain. At the time of his jump, Zhang CuiShan targeted a table-sized ice sheet near the iceberg. He took out his silver hook and grabbed on to it. When Xie Xun heard them splash into the sea, he knocked loose several pieces of ice to throw at them. But because of his blindness, plus the fact that Zhang and Yin moved away from their splash point quickly, Xie Xun could not hit them. After missing with the first ice block, he stopped throwing.

The ice sheet Zhang and Yin held onto traveled much faster than Xie Xun’s iceberg. By nightfall, they’ve traveled so far away Xie Xun looked like a tiny speck. It’s quite lucky that the two of them managed to hold on to this ice sheet. However, they couldn’t stay forever in this cold water. Thankfully, another iceberg appeared after a while. As the ice sheet floated next to it, Zhang and Yin quickly climbed up on top of this new iceberg.

Zhang CuiShan said, “I know people say that ‘Heaven will always give humans a path out’, but did it have to force so much suffering upon us first. How is your body?” Yin SuSu said, “Too bad we couldn’t bring some of the seal meat. Are you injured?” They spoke some more, with neither able to hear the other. Then both paused a moment, and hurriedly took out the sealskin from their ears. For while they were escaping, neither remembered to take out the sealskin.

After going through so much adversity together, their hearts became even closer. Zhang CuiShan said, “SuSu. Let us simply die on this iceberg, so we’ll never again part.” Yin SuSu said, “I need to ask you something, but you can’t lie to me. If we were still on the mainland, without having gone through this hardship together. If I were just as intent on being married to you, would you still want me?”

Zhang CuiShan hesitated a bit, said, “I think we wouldn’t have been this close this quickly. Besides…. There would be lots of problems. Our sects are so different…” Yin SuSu sighed, said, “I feel the same way. That’s why when you were matching palms with Xie Xun on the boat, I thought about firing my silver needles, but in the end did not.”

Zhang CuiShan asked, “Oh yeah, why didn’t you? I’ve always thought that you couldn’t see clearly in the dark. That you were afraid to unintentionally hit me.” Yin SuSu whispered, “That’s not the reason. The reason is, had I injured him, and we ended up back on the mainland, you wouldn’t want to be with me.”

Zhang CuiShan felt his heart melting away, yelled, “SuSu!”

Yin SuSu said, “Perhaps you might blame me in your heart. But at that moment, I only wanted to be with you, go to a deserted island, where we can be with each other forever. Therefore, what Xie Xun proposed was my wish too.” Zhang CuiShan never expected her love for him to be so strong. With much appreciation in his heart, Zhang CuiShan said soothingly, “I would never blame you. Instead, I thank you for being so good to me.” Yin SuSu remained in his embrace, looked up into his eyes, said, “I don’t blame Heaven at all for sending us to this cold, hellish place, for instead I feel happy. I only hope this iceberg would never go south, for should we one day returned to the mainland, your master would hate me, and my dad might kill you…”

Zhang CuiShan said, “Your dad?” Yin SuSu said, “My dad is White-Browed Eagle King Yin TianZheng, the leader of the Heavenly Eagle Sect.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Oh, I see. Don’t worry. I told you I’d always be with you. No matter how mean your dad is, he’s not going to kill his son-in-law.” Yin SuSu’s eyes brightened, her cheeks turned red, said, “Oh, do you really mean that?”

Zhang CuiShan said, “Let us get married right now.”

The two of them then got on their knees. Zhang CuiShan said loudly, “With the Heaven above watching, Zhang CuiShan today will marry Yin SuSu. Share our blessings together, endure our hardships together, never to be apart.” Yin SuSu prayed sincerely, “Please let the Heaven bless us, so we can be couples for all lifetimes*.” She paused a bit, then added, “Should we ever return to the central plains, I will renounce my old ways, change for the better, and follow my husband to do only good, never to kill again. If I fail to do so, then banish me down to the depths of Hell.”

*Ancient Chinese believes in reincarnation. She simply meant that they would be husband and wife in every single incarnation in the future.

Zhang CuiShan, exhilarated at her promise, held her tightly in his arms. Despite being soaked in icy cold water, the two people’s hearts felt warm and dry, as if blown by spring wind.”

After a long time, the two of them realized that they have not eaten for a long time. Zhang CuiShan looked over the edge with his silver hook, only to see fishes swim on the sea surface, and caught some. The fishes in this region are filled with fat to counter the cold weather, which made them extremely smelly, but also really reenergized the two. Sitting on this iceberg, Zhang and Yin knew there’s no chance for them to return, but neither felt sad because of it. They were now no longer bothered by the long days and short nights, and stopped bother to count the days altogether.

o0o

One day, Yin SuSu suddenly saw a stack of smoke from the north. Shocked, she yelled, “Fifth brother!” and pointed at the smoke as she spoke. Zhang CuiShan, happy and surprised, yelled, “Could there be people living there?”

Although the smoke looked big, it’s still far away. Even after a day of travel, the smoke still seemed just as far. However, the smoke eventually grew bigger and bigger, until later on, they could see sparks of fire.

Yin SuSu asked, “What is that?” Zhang CuiSHan shook his head, did not respond. Yin SuSu screamed, “Oh no, this is the end! This is… is the door to the underworld.” Zhang CuiShan had also been alarmed for some time now, but he still tried to sooth her, said, “Perhaps someone’s making the fire over there.” Yin SuSu said, “Who can make a fire this big?”

Zhang CuiShan sighed, said, “Since we’re have no other choice, let’s just see what the Heaven has in store for us. If Heaven doesn’t want us to freeze to death, but rather burn to death, then we don’t really have a choice.”

Oddly enough, the iceberg headed exactly towards the direction of the stack of fire. Zhang and Yin didn’t know the reason, thought that they must have been fated to go there. In actuality, that stack of fire is a volcano. With the fire spurting out, the neighboring waters warmed up. Warm water flows south, so the southern cold water obviously moves north, towards the island to take its place.

After another day, the iceberg finally reached the bottom of the volcano, only to see the fire stack surrounded by green vegetation, for it’s actually an island. Neither of them had ever seen a volcano, so they didn’t know this island was created by the eruptions. The eastern side of the island had no vegetation, though, as it’s the path where the lava traveled down to the water. This place is quite close to the North Pole, but due to the continuous volcanic activities, the island had weather similar to the Long White Mountain and the Black Dragon River regions*. Snow covered the upper mountain, but plants filled the lower parts. Pine and Cypress trees here are incredibly big, plus there are all sorts of strange flowers and tress, none seen on the mainland.

*Note: Those are the northeastern-most regions in China.

Yin SuSu stared for a while, then with both hands held Zhang CuiShan’s neck, yelled, “Fifth brother, we’re arrived at a celestial island!” Zhang CuiShan was also joyous, but could not find any words to say. He then saw a drove of spotted deer eating grass. Looking around, Zhang CuiShan could not find anything scary other than the fire stack.

But just as the iceberg neared the island, the warm water gave it a push backward, and it began to float away. Yin SuSu yelled in a hurry, “Oh no! We can’t get on the celestial island now!” Zhang CuiShan realized that if they didn’t get on this island now, they’d be washed away. He quickly chipped off a big block of ice, and then let it drop with them down into the water. After paddling with their hands for a while, they finally reached land.

When the drove of deer saw them, they only stared, as if wondering whom these humans were, but certainly not afraid. Yin SuSu moved close, reached out and patted one of them on the back, said, “If there were some celestial cranes here, I’d say this would be the Celestial Region of the South Pole.” Suddenly the ground under her shook, and she fell down. Zhang CuiShan yelled in shock, “SuSu!” As he tried to help her, he also felt his legs wobble, and unable to maintain his balance.

Only to hear a thunderous sound, the earth shook, for the volcano erupted some lava. After getting over the initial shock, and saw no other troubles, both people got up giddily. Due to their exhaustion, the two then slept for about eight hours.

When they woke up, the sun still had not set. Zhang CuiShan said, “Let’s go look around, see if there are any people, or perhaps poisonous insects or wild beasts.” Yin SuSu said, “Just look at how tame these deer are. Looks like this celestial island is quite peaceful.” Zhang CuiShan said with a smile, “I hope that’s the case. But if so, we should at least go pray to the celestial being here.”

Even while on the iceberg, Yin SuSu kept her appearance nice, her clothing straight. Now on this island, she cared even more about appearances. So only after she straightened her dress, and then combed Zhang CuiShan’s hair, did Yin SuSu care to explore. She held her sword. Zhang CuiShan lost his brush, so he grabbed a tree branch to replace it. The two of them used their lightness kung fu, ran for about 7 miles, from south to north, exhilarated to be in such an environment. On their way, other than passing by small hills and tall trees, they also saw strange grasses and flowers. Above the plants flew many birds that they’ve never seen before, but seemed friendly.

They made a turn and went through a large forest, only to see a stone mountain on the island’s northwestern corner. There is a cave on the mountain. Yin SuSu yelled, “This place is amazing!” and quickly ran over to the cave. Zhang CuiShan yelled, “Be careful!” Before he could finish, they heard a loud groan, as a white shadow flashed by them; a large white bear came rushing out the cave.

That bear’s incredibly big, the size of a huge bull. Yin SuSu gasped in shock, and instantly retreated. The white bear stood up, raised his paws, then came slashing down on Yin SuSu. Yin SuSu raised her sword and attacked the bear’s shoulder. Unfortunately, her body’s too weak from the time on the sea, so despite striking the bear’s shoulder directly, she could not pierce deep enough to cause a serious wound. Before she got off another strike, the bear came close and knocked her sword down. Zhang CuiShan quickly yelled, “SuSu, get out of the way!” as he ran up to join her. Then he swept the branch horizontally, hitting the bear on the left kneecap. Only to hear a loud crack, as the branch split in two, but broke the white bear’s left leg too. After experiencing such an injury, the bear roared in pain, and came pounding on Zhang CuiShan.

Zhang CuiShan jumped up several meters using the ‘Cloud Stairs’ lightness kung fu, and wrote the last stroke of ‘compete’[a stroke that comes straight down before making a tiny hook left] with his hook. The silver hook dropped straight down from midair, piercing the bear’s ‘Sun Point’. After penetrating a few inches, that white bear began to howl in a deafening tone. It started to roll on the ground in pain, pulling the silver hook out of Zhang CuiShan’s hand. After rolling for a while, it stopped struggling, fell dead.

Yin SuSu clapped her hands, said with a smile, “Great lightness kung fu, great hook technique!” Suddenly she heard Zhang CuiShan yell, “Jump over here, quickly!” Yin SuSu could hear the fear in his voice, and jumped toward Zhang CuiShan without hesitation. When she turned around, Yin SuSu couldn’t help but scream in shock. For another white bear stood right behind her previous position, looking incredibly ferocious. With no weapons in his hand, Zhang CuiShan quickly pulled Yin SuSu up a tall pine tree. That bear kept circling under them, constantly roaring.

Zhang CuiShan broke off a small piece of branch, aimed towards the white bear’s eye, and threw it down. When the branch hit its eye, the bear screamed in pain, and tried to climb up the tree in anger. Zhang CuiShan quickly grabbed Yin SuSu’s sword, aimed exactly at the bear’s head, gathered his energy, and nailed it down straight. The majority of the sword entered the bear’s forehead, making it stutter, until finally the bear fell dead under the tree.

Zhang CuiShan said, “I wonder if there’s another bear inside the cave.” He picked up a few rocks and threw them inside the cave. With no response after a while, he walked inside the cave. Yin SuSu followed closely behind. The cave is wide and deep, very spacious. A streak of light came through in the middle, like a window. Bears’ foods filled the cave. Animal carcasses, such as dead fishes, made the whole place very smelly. Yin SuSu pinched her nose, said, “This is a nice place, but too smelly.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Well, we can clean the place up. Then after ten or twenty days, the smell would be gone.”

Yin SuSu remembered that they’d be living here together forever, with endless months to enjoy ahead, until they die of old age. She felt delighted, but lonely at the same time.

Zhang CuiShan walked out the cave, broke several branches, and made a broom. He went back inside and cleaned the place, with Yin SuSu helping. After they cleaned the cave, the dirty smell remained. Yin SuSu said, “I wish we could get some water to wash this stuff off. Although there are lots of water in the sea, we don’t have a bucket to carry it.” Zhang CuiShan said, “I have an idea.” He left the cave, went to an ice-covered region of the island, and grabbed some large chunks of ice. Then he put the ice chunks on the tallest rock in the cave. Yin SuSu yelled, “Wow, great idea!” The ice would slowly melt, and trickle out the cave as water.

Zhang CuiShan used this water to take a shower. Yin SuSu used her sword to cut the bears into small pieces. Despite being on a volcano, they’re still near the North Pole. So the weather’s quite cold. The bear meat would likely last for months without rotting. Yin SuSu sighed, said, “People really are greedy, never satisfied. Here I am, thinking how great it would if we could only light a fire, and cook these bear meats.” Then she added, “I’m afraid that the ice chunks would melt too slowly, and the smell would never go away.” Zhang CuiShan looked at the volcano, said, “Well, there’s certainly fire here, but simply too big for us. I’m sure we can find a way to get it, though.”

That night, after eating bear meat, the two slept on the tree. During their sleep, both felt like they’re still on the iceberg, moving with the current. Actually, they only felt the wind blowing on the branches.

The next day, before she even opened her eyes, Yin SuSu said, “What an amazing fragrance!” She jumped off the tree, only to smell a lovely fragrance coming from the flowers nearby. Yin SuSu said happily, “It’s so great that there are all these flowers in front of the cave.” Zhang CuiShan said, “SuSu, don’t be so thrilled yet. I need to tell you something.” Upon seeing his serious expression, Yin SuSu paused a moment, then said, “What?” Zhang CuiShan said, “I found a way to get fire.” Yin SuSu said with a smile, “Oh! You’re so mean. I thought you were going to give me some bad news.”

Zhang CuiShan said, “The flame on the fire mountain is so big it’s nearly impossible to get close. We’d likely burn to death before reaching it. However, we can use tree barks to tie a long rope, and wait for it to dry. Then…” Yin SuSu cut in, “Great idea! Then we can tie a rock to the end, and throw it at the fire. Then the fire come towards us through the rope.”

After eating raw meat for so long, the two were in quite a hurry to get the fire ready. They went to work immediately. After two days, they finally tied together a rope, over three hundred and thirty meters long. After leaving it in the sun for another day, they finally went up the volcano the fourth morning.

Although it looked close, they still had to travel over thirteen miles to get near the top. The temperature rose as they walked up. First they had to take off their seal coats, then more clothing, until they had only one layer on. Even so, they still could not withstand the heat. Both sweated uncontrollably, and their mouths dried up. But with no water or vegetation around, there’s nothing they could do.

Zhang CuiShan, with the rope hanging on his back, saw that Yin SuSu’s near exhaustion. Afraid for her health, he said, “You wait for me here. I’ll go up alone.” Yin SuSu said, “Don’t speak to me like this again. The worst that can happen is that we’ll never have fire. It’s no big deal to eat raw meat the rest of our lives.” Zhang CuiShan smiled slightly.

After walking another thousand meters or so, the two are almost totally exhausted. Even Zhang CuiShan’s superior inner power could not help him withstand the heat. He said half-consciously, let’s throw the rope here. If we still can’t catch fire, then we’ll… we’ll…” Yin SuSu said with a smile, “Then we’ll just be a wild couple who drink blood and eat raw meat…” and then her body swayed. She almost fell to the ground before grabbing onto Zhang CuiShan’s shoulder. Zhang CuiShan picked up a rock from the ground, then tightened it to the rope. He gathered his energy, ran forward a few steps, and threw the rock with all his might.

Only to see the rock disappear in the distance, and the rope eventually straightened, falling down to the ground. The rock’s landing spot is still way too far from any fire. After waiting for a long time, until the couple was about to explode from the heart, the rope still remained fireless. Zhang CuiShan sighed, said, “I’ve heard ancient people used wood and stones to make fires. We can try those things. My way certainly doesn’t work.”

Yin SuSu said, “Even so, this rope is now quite dry. Let’s go find some flint. Perhaps we can make a fire with the sword.” Zhang CuiShan said, “You’re right.” And retracted the rope, then tore down a small piece. There are tons of flints here on the volcano. They took one piece and struck it with the sword. Sparks flew out immediately. After the tenth try, fire lit up the bark.

The two people embraced in joy. They took their bark, now a torch, happily back to the cave. Yin SuSu brought a stack of dry branches and grass to keep the fire going.

With a kindle of fire available, everything else, like cooking meat or warming up ice, came easily. The two hasn’t eaten any cooked food since getting on the boat. Both salivated as they watched the meat simmer on the fire.

That night in the warm bear cave, with streams of fragrance flowing, the fire flickering. For the first time since they married, Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu enjoyed their first wedding night together.

o0o

The next morning, Zhang CuiShan walked out the cave, looked into the distance, feeling amazingly refreshed. He suddenly noticed a large figure far away, standing by a rock on the beach. This figure is none other than Xie Xun! Zhang CuiShan couldn’t believe his eyes. After going through this ordeal with Yin SuSu, he had expected to live peacefully on this island. Who’d have thought that this monster would come too? In an instant, Zhang CuiShan froze. Only to see Xie Xun staggering toward the inner part of the island. After being blinded, he seemingly could no longer catch fish for food, and in lived in hunger until today. Xie Xun walked a few steps forward, tripped, and fell to the ground.

Zhang CuiShan returned to the cave. Yin SuSu said tenderly, “Fifth brother… you…” When she saw his serious expression, she held back the rest of the words. Zhang CuiShan said, “Xie Xun’s here too!” Yin SuSu gasped in shock, whispered, “Did he see you?” But then remembered that Xie Xun’s now blind. Her fear lessened somewhat, said, “Surely the two of us can defeat a blind person, right?” Zhang CuiShan nodded, said, “He just fainted from hunger.” Yin SuSu said, “Let’s go take a look!” She tore off some clothing and put them into Zhang CuiShan and her own ears, then grabbed her sword and some silver needles. They went out the cave together.

When they’ve reached about twenty-five meters from Xie Xun, Zhang CuiShan said loudly, “Elder Xie, do you wish to eat some food?” Upon hearing a person’s voice, Xie Xun let out an expression of joy. But once he realized that it was Zhang CuiShan speaking, the joy disappeared. After a long time, he finally nodded. Zhang CuiShan went back to the cave and took out a piece of cooked bear meat. He threw it towards Xie Xun, said, “Please catch it.” Xie Xun heard the sound of the meat, quickly grabbed it with his hand, and began to eat.

Zhang CuiShan felt pity for Xie Xun, after seeing such a powerful and proud man weakened like this. Yin SuSu was thinking of something else entirely, “Fifth brother is just too kind-hearted. Wouldn’t it be better to let him die of hunger? Saving him could very well bring trouble in the future. Perhaps we’ll later both die in his hands.” But then she remembered her promise to become a good person. So she did not speak her mind.

After eating half a piece of meat, Xie Xun fell asleep on the ground. Zhang CuiShan made a pile of fire by his side.

Xie Xun slept for a couple of hours before waking up. He asked, “What is this place? Zhang and Yin had been sitting by his side. When they saw him sitting up to speak, both unplugged their right ears so they could hear. Even so, they still kept their right hands near their ears, in case Xie Xun decided to howl. Zhang CuiShan said, “This is a deserted island near the North Pole.

Xie Xun nodded. In this instant, thousands of thoughts floated through his mind. After a while, he said, “If so, looks like we have no chance to go back, right?” Zhang CuiShan said, “That will depend on the will of the Heaven.” Xie Xun said angrily, “Don’t give me that ‘Heaven’ crap. He searched around for the piece of meat, and began eating again. Then he asked, “What do you plan to do with me?”

Zhang CuiShan looked at Yin SuSu, as he wanted to hear her opinion. Yin SuSu made a gesture, which meant he could decide for them both.

Zhang CuiShan thought for a moment, then said, “Elder Xie, We husband and wife…” Xie Xun nodded, said, “Oh, you’re married.” Yin SuSu’s face turned red, but looked very happy. She said, “Actually, we have to thank you as our matchmaker.” Xie Xun let out a humph, said, “What are you going to do with me?” Zhang CuiShan said, “We’re sorry to have blinded your eyes. But what’s done is done. There’s no way to turn back time. Since we’re fated to come to this island, I doubt we’ll ever see the mainland ever again. In that case, we’ll take care of you for the rest of your life.”

Xie Xun nodded, sighed, and said, “I guess there’s no other choice.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Due to our deep love for each other, we have agreed to live and die together. Should the elder ever become crazy again, and kills one of us, the other would surely not live alone in this world.” Xie Xun said, “I know what you’re trying to say. That should you two die, there’s no way for me to live on this island alone, right?” Zhang CuiShan said, “Correct!” Xie Xun said, “If so, then why haven’t you taken out the cloths in your left ears yet?” Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu smiled at each other, and took out the cloth in their left ears too. Both thought, “Despite his lack of sight, this person’s hearing is amazing, almost to the point where they could replace his eyes. Plus with his intelligence and knowledge, this person might not even need us if he weren’t on this cold, strange island.”

Zhang CuiShan asked Xie Xun to name this deserted island. Xie Xun said, “Since this island is covered in ice year-round, yet also has a never-ending supply of fire. Let’s call it Fire-Ice Island.”

From then on, the three of them settled peacefully on this Fire-Ice Island. There’s another small cave about a thousand meters from the bear cave. Zhang and Yin cleaned it up for Xie Xun to live. They then caught fish and animals for food, burned pottery to make bowls, gathered soil to make a kitchen, and made all sort of crude items for everyday use.

Xie Xun never bothered to chat with them. He only held up that Dragon Saber, deep in thought. Sometimes Zhang and Yin would pity him, and advise him to stop trying to figure out its secrets. Xie Xun said, “You think I don’t know that it’s useless to find its secret, now that we’re on this deserted island? But with nothing else to do, how else am I going to spent the days?” The couple found his words reasonable, and stopped trying to persuade him.

Soon, months passed. One day, the couple strolled up the northern part of the island, only to see a forest after walking about 6 miles. Zhang CuiShan wanted to explore the forest, but Yin SuSu was reluctant, said, “Who cares about all the strange creatures in the forest? Let’s just go back.”

Zhang CuiShan found this weird, wondered, “SuSu has always been the curious type. Yet lately, she has become quite lazy.” Concerned for her health, he asked, “Are you ok? Is there something wrong?” Yin SuSu’s face turned red, said timidly, “I’m ok.” Zhang CuiShan found her expression unusual, and kept asking. Yin SuSu finally said, “Perhaps the Heavens thought we’re too lonely, so he sent another person to live with us.” Zhang CuiShan paused for a second, then felt like he’s in Heaven. He yelled, “You have a child?” Yin SuSu said in a hurry, “Don’t speak so loudly. Someone might hear you.” When she spoke this, Yin SuSu couldn’t help but start laughing. In this desolate place, who could possibly hear them?

The weather changed. By now, the days became shorter and the nights longer, until there’s only about four to five hours of daylight. The temperature also dropped. After becoming pregnant, Yin SuSu became more and more fatigued. Yet she still managed to cook, sew, and do other household chores.

Tonight marked the tenth month of her pregnancy. With the fire roaring in the cave, the couple chatted together. Yin SuSu said, “Do you think it’s a boy or a girl?” Zhang CuiShan said, “A boy would look like me. A girl would look like you. Both would be great.” Yin SuSu said, “No, I prefer a son. Why don’t you give him a name?”

Zhang CuiShan said, “Yeah...” But then he remained silent for a long time. Yin SuSu said, “Is there something wrong? You’ve been acting weird the past few days.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Oh, it’s nothing. Perhaps I’m a bit too happy knowing I’m going to be a father!”

Despite having just spoken a lighthearted comment, Zhang CuiShan’s expression remained quite sullen. Yin SuSu said, “Fifth brother, keeping me in the dark would only make me worry more. There must be something wrong.”

Zhang CuiShan sighed, said, “Hopefully it’s just my imagination. But Xie Xun’s expression the past few days didn’t look right.” Yin SuSu gasped, said, “I also noticed. He’s becoming more and more vicious, as if he’s about to become insane again.” Zhang CuiShan nodded, said, “He must be frustrated at his inability to unlock the Dragon Saber’s mystery.” Yin SuSu cried, said, “Before, the worst that could happen would be to die, but… but now…”

Zhang CuiShan held her in his embrace, said soothingly, “You’re right. We must value our lives now, for our son. Should Xie Xun really get out of control, we would have to kill him. Due to his blindness, I’m sure we can defeat him somehow.”

Yin SuSu had become much more compassionate since becoming pregnant. Before, she could easily kill tens of people without so much as blink. Now, she felt bad even when killing a wild animal. One day, when Zhang CuiShan caught a deer back to the cave, a fawn came back with him. Yin SuSu forced him to release the mother deer, said that she’d rather eat fruits than to leave the fawn motherless. So when Yin SuSu heard Zhang CuiShan spoke of killing Xie Xun, her body trembled.

Zhang CuiShan obviously felt this reaction, looked at her fondly, and said, “Hopefully, that won’t be necessary. But we still must make guard against him.” Yin SuSu said, “You’re right. But how would we control him? Perhaps put some poison in his food… No, let’s not do that. Perhaps we’re just being too paranoid.”

Zhang CuiShan said, “I have a plan. Tomorrow, we’ll move to the inner area of the cave. I’ll dig a deep hole by on the outer part of the cave, then put some mud and twigs over it.” Yin SuSu said, “But you have to go hunt everyday. What if he caught you outside?” Zhang CuiShan said, “Don’t worry. It’s easy for me to escape by myself. Should he attack me, I’ll just escape to a dangerous cliff or something. Without vision, Xie Xun cannot catch me.”

The next morning, Zhang CuiShan began to dig his hole. Without an iron shovel, he had to rely on thick branches. Obviously this makes the job much more tedious. But thanks to his great inner power, Zhang CuiShan managed to finish it in seven days, a ditch about 10 meters deep. He saw Xie Xun’s expression becoming less and less stable each day, often swinging the Dragon Saber wildly. So Zhang CuiShan dug the hole a bit deeper, until it’s now over sixteen meters deep. He prepared some sharp, wooden spikes to put on the bottom, and gathered some stones by the side. Should Xie Xun ever fall into the hole, Zhang CuiShan could use the stones to smash him.

This afternoon, Xie Xun came by the bear cave, and began to pace around outside. Zhang CuiShan didn’t dare work at this time, afraid that Xie Xun would suspicious. He also didn’t dare hunting today, only guard by the mouth of the cave, watching Xie Xun’s movements. Only to hear Xie Xun curse endlessly. He cursed the Heaven, the Buddha, Avalokitesvara, the Emperor of Heaven, the Lord of the Underworld, past human emperors, like ‘Yao-Shun-Yu-Shang*’ and ‘Qin Emperor-Tang Zong*’. And then scholars like Confucius and Meng Zi*, generals like Guan Yun* and Yue Fei*. Just about every single notable scholar or hero in the past, he cursed. Xie Xun’s a very knowledgeable person. So Zhang CuiShan was actually quite amused by his rants on historical figures.

*Note: Yao, Shun, Yu, and Shang are four important emperors in the China’s VERY early days. I think in the ‘Zhou’ era. Certainly before the Spring- Autumn era and the Warring-Nations era. ‘Qin Emperor’ here denotes Qin Shi Huang, the emperor who united China (and built the Great Wall). ‘Tang Zong’ denotes Tang Tai Zong, the second emperor of the Tang dynasty, Li ShiMin. Tang Tai Zong is Li ShiMin’s imperial name. I’m sure everyone knows Confucius(look him up if you don’t). Although I don’t know much about Meng Zi, other than the fact that he’s famous scholar. I think most people know about Guan Yun, very famous person in the Three-Kingdoms era. Yue Fei is the famous general in the Southern Song dynasty. Anyone familiar with Jin Yong’s “Eagle Shooting Hero” should know him.

Suddenly, Xie Xun began to curse the people in the martial world, making people like Shaolin’s originator Da Muo, or Divine Fist Yue WuMu, sound worthless. But at least he’s not cursing blindly. Xie Xun seemed to know the exact weaknesses of all the people and sects he cursed. Only to hear him curse the Tang dynasty fighters followed by the Sung dynasty fighters, ending with the greats of the Southern Sung, East Heretic, West Poison, South Emperor, North Beggar, and Central Theurgist. Followed by Guo Jing, Yang Guo, and finally Wu Dang’s originator Zhang SanFeng.

Zhang CuiShan couldn’t bare Xie Xun curse his master, and about to rebut, when Xie Xun suddenly yelled, “Humph, Zhang SanFeng is a piece of bad crap. His disciple Zhang CuiShan is a bigger piece of crap. Let me go strangle his wife to death first!” As he spoke, Xie Xun walked past Zhang CuiShan and into the cave. Zhang CuiShan hurried inside, only to hear a crashing noise, as Xie Xun fell into the hole. Unfortunately, the spikes had not been put in yet, so Xie Xun was only startled, but not injured. Zhang CuiShan quickly picked up one of the branches he used to shovel dirt. When he reached the hole, Zhang CuiShan saw Xie Xun climbing back up. He immediately attacked Xie Xun with the branch. When Xie Xun heard the sound of the branch, his left hand reached out, grabbed the branch, and pulled it down. Zhang CuiShan could not hold on as the branch darted out of his hand. This pull was quite powerful, so the branch left Zhang CuiShan’s palm filled with blood. Along with this pull, Xie Xun once again fell back down the hole.

Yin SuSu had been going into labor for over half a day now. It’s just that with Xie Xun walking outside, she couldn’t tell her husband, for it might break his concentration. But at this critical moment, she no longer cared for all that. Yin SuSu bit her teeth, got up, and threw her sword at Zhang CuiShan.

Zhang CuiShan grabbed the sword, thought, “This person’s kung fu is far superior to mine. Even if I attack him, he’s bound to take the sword away from me.” But then he realized, “His eyes are blind. The only reason he took my branch is because it made a sound.”

Just as he understood this, Xie Xun let out a laugh, and began to climb up again. Zhang CuiShan saw exactly where he would climb up, pointed his sword down at Xie Xun’s head, and did not move. Xie Xun climbed up with immense speed, going exactly towards the point of the sword, which gave no noise while remaining motionless. No matter how great Xie Xun’s kung fu, he could not possibly detect the sword. Only to see the sword pierce into Xie Xun’s head, who immediately let out a scream. When the sword entered about a centimeter into his head, Xie Xun quickly reacted, changing his direction in the opposite manner, immediately falling back into the hole. Had he been late by even a second, the sword would’ve killed him. However, even though his life is fine, the sword still made a serious wound. Blood poured down Xie Xun’s face, as the sword stuck on top of his head. Xie Xun took out the sword and tore out a piece of cloth to cover the wound. He knew that his wound is serious, but nonetheless did not care. Taking out his Dragon Saber to protect his head, Xie Xun tried for the third time to climb out. Zhang CuiShan tried to throw rocks at him, but Xie Xun cut them down with the Dragon Saber. With his saber shining brightly, Xie Xun climbed out of the hole, began to walk towards Zhang CuiShan. Zhang CuiShan backed off step by step. He felt saddened, for today he will die with Yin SuSu, never to see his child born.

Xie Xun didn’t want Zhang CuiShan or Yin SuSu to walk past him to leave the cave. For then, he’d have no way to catch them. So with the sword in his left hand and the Dragon Saber in his right, Xie Xun unleashed techniques that covered a lot of area, sealing a five-meter width besides him which no one could go past.

When suddenly, he heard a ‘Waaaaahhhhh’ sound, as the sound of a baby’s cry came out of the inner cave. Xie Xun gasped in shock. He immediately stopped walking and froze, hearing the baby cry continuously.

Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu realized that they were going to die. So they forgot all about Xie Xun, and instead put all their attention on the newly born baby. The baby is a son, his arms and legs kept moving, while crying loudly. Zhang and Yin realized that once Xie Xun’s saber came slicing down, both of them, plus the baby, would all immediately die. Neither spoke, their gaze on the baby. Both thanked fate for being so kind, allowing them to see their baby before death. Even a single extra moment right now, meant a single extra blessing to them. In this instant, the couple felt an unusual serenity, not thinking at all about their future. Obviously, both wanted the child to live on, but since this was impossible, they did not dare to hope.

Only to hear the baby cry continuously, when suddenly, Xie Xun’s conscience reappeared, his madness dissipated. He suddenly remembered the moment his whole family was killed, for it was soon after his wife gave birth. His child died that day too. This baby’s cry made him remember many things in his past: The love between him and his wife, the brutality of his enemy, the innocent baby thrown by his enemy into the wall and turning into a bloody pulp, cutting off his own finger, trying to get revenge, only to fail each time, getting the Dragon saber, but unable to find its secret… He stood in a trance, sometimes smiling, sometimes biting his teeth.

Right before this moment, the three of them were in a life and death duel, but after the baby cried, all of them suddenly turned their attention to the baby.

Xie Xun suddenly asked, “Is the baby a boy or a girl?” Zhang CuiShan said, “He’s a boy.” Xie Xun said, “That’s good. Have you cut the umbilical cord yet? Zhang CuiShan said, “Do I need to? Oh, yes, of course. I totally forgot.”

Xie Xun turned the sword around, gave it to Zhang CuiShan. Zhang CuiShan took the sword and cut off the umbilical cord. Only then did he realize that Xie Xun was by his side, yet did not try to kill them. In fact, he looked very concerned, as if trying to help out.

Yin SuSu said weakly, “Let me hold him.” Zhang CuiShan put the baby into her arms. Xie Xun then said, “Do you have some hot water to give the baby a bath?” Zhang CuiShan said, “Oh, I can’t believe this. I didn’t prepare for anything. What an useless dad I am.” He quickly got up to go prepare for some hot water. But after he took a step, Zhang CuiShan saw Xie Xun standing right next to the baby, and stopped in fear for his child. Xie Xun said, “Why don’t you watch over the baby with your wife. I’ll prepare the water. While speaking, he put the Dragon Saber back on his waist and walked out the cave. As he passed by the hole, Xie Xun simply jumped over it.

After a while, Xie Xun really did come back with a tub of hot water. Zhang CuiShan then gave the baby a bath. Hearing the baby’s cry, Xie Xun asked, “Does the child look like his mom or dad?” Zhang CuiShan smiled, said, “More like his mom. Not too heavy, he has a melon-seed-shaped head.” Xie Xun sighed, said quietly, “Hopefully, he’ll have good luck when he grows up, and not endure too many hardships.” Yin SuSu said, “Elder Xie, are you saying that the baby’s appearance is unlucky?” Xie Xun said, “No. It’s just that if the child looked like you, he’d be too handsome. I was just afraid that his good fortune is too thin. And when he enters society, will face much difficulty.” Zhang CuiShan said with a smile, “Elder, you’re thinking too far into the future. We’re now at a deserted island by the North Pole. This child will live and die here. How can he possibly return to society?”

Yin SuSu said in a hurry, “No, No! We don’t have to return, but do you really want our child to live here forever? When all three of us die, who will accompany him? After he grows up, how is he going to get married and have kids?” Yin SuSu had always been vicious while living under the Heavenly Eagle Sect’s influence. But ever since she became married to Zhang CuiShan, Yin SuSu turned gentler and kinder. Now that she’s a mother, her heart is only filled with love for her son, and only wished the best for him.

Zhang CuiShan looked at her, massaged her hair, thought, “We’re thousands of miles from mainland. How can we possibly get back?” But he didn’t want to hurt her feelings, and remained silent.

Xie Xun suddenly said, “Mrs. Zhang is right. The three of us don’t really have any future. But there’s no way we can let this child grow up and die here, never to enjoy the life of a normal person. Mrs. Zhang, the three of us should come up with a way to get this child back to mainland.”

Yin SuSu was exhilarated, tried to get up. Zhang CuiShan quickly stopped her, said, “SuSu, what are you trying to do? You need to more rest.” Yin SuSu said, “No, fifth brother. Let us kowtow to this elder, for his willingness to help our son.”

Xie Xun shook his hand, said, “No need. Have you given this child a name yet?” Zhang CuiShan said, “No. Elder Xie, you’re very knowledgeable. Perhaps you should name him!” Xie Xun said, “Ok. He needs to have a good name. Let me think…”

Yin SuSu thought, “It’s so great that he actually loves this child. If he thought of the child as his own, then the child will be safe on this island. Even if Xie Xun gets mad, he still wont hurt his own son.” So she said, “Elder Xie, I’d like to ask you, on behalf of the child, for a favor. I hope you’ll agree to it.” Xie Xun said, “What favor?”

Yin SuSu said, “That you accept this child as your godson! So as he grow up, he can treat you like his own father, and you can raise him as your son. Fifth brother, do you not think this is a good idea?” Zhang CuiShan knew the reasons for his wife’s request, said, “That would be great! Elder Xie, please accept my wife’s request.”

Xie Xun said, “My own child was thrown to his death as a baby. Have you ever seen that?” Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu looked at each other. They thought that perhaps his insanity is settling back in. But considering his past, they didn’t really blame him. Xie Xun then added, “If my son hadn’t died, he’d be eighteen now. Had I taught him all my kung fu, humph, I doubt he’d be worse than your seven Wu Dang heroes.” His voice carried both extreme pride and extreme sadness in that last sentence.

The three people stayed silent for a while, before Zhang CuiShan said, “Elder Xie, you really should accept him as your godson, and his surname will become ‘Xie’.” An expression of extreme joy skimmed through Xie Xun’s face. He said, “Are you really willing to let his surname be ‘Xie’? My son who passed away was called Xie WuJi.” Zhang CuiShan said, “If you like, we’ll call this child Xie WuJi.”

In his joy, Xie Xun feared that Zhang CuiShan might take his words back, said, “If you gave your son to me, then what about you?” Zhang CuiShan said, “It doesn’t matter what the child’s surname is. We’ll love him just the same. In the future, he’ll be filial to his mother, father, and his godfather all equally. What do you think, SuSu?” Yin SuSu paused a moment, said, “I leave everything up to you. A child could only benefit from an extra person loving him.”

Xie Xun bowed down, said, “I really wish to thank you. Let us clear all our past differences. Xie Xun had lost a son, but he now gained a son. When Xie WuJi becomes famous in the martial world, everyone would know that his father is Zhang CuiShan, his mother is Yin SuSu, and his godfather is ‘Golden-Haired Lion King’ Xie Xun.”

Yin SuSu originally hesitated because she thought the name was bad luck, since the original Xie WuJi died as a child. But when she saw the joy on Xie Xun’s face, she knew Xie Xun would treat this child as his own, a huge benefit to the child. For the happiness of her child, a mother can give up anything. So she held the baby in her arms, said, “Do you want to hold him?”

Xie Xun reached out his hand, and took the child from her arms. He was so happy he began to weep, and his arms quivered, said, “You… you should take him back. He might be too afraid of my look.” Actually, how could a newly born child know anything about looks? Nonetheless, he did this only because of concern for the child. Yin SuSu said with a smile, “You can hold him for as long as you like. When he grows up, you can take him all over the place to play.”

Xie Xun said, “Great, great…” When he heard the child cry, Xie Xun said, “He’s hungry. Why don’t you feed him. I’ll go outside.” Actually, considering his blindness, Yin SuSu wouldn’t have cared if he stayed. But oddly enough, he has turned into a courteous gentleman.

Zhang CuiShan said, “Elder Xie…” Xie Xun said, “Hold on. We’re one family now. You can’t consider me an elder now. How about this, the three of us become sworn brothers and sisters. This will be good to the child too.” Zhang CuiShan said, “But you are so much superior to us in ability. We’re not worthy.” Xie Xun said, “Humph, how could you be so wishy-washy? Fifth brother, fifth sister, are you going to call me big brother or not?” Yin SuSu said with a smile, “I’ll call you big brother first. If he still call you ‘elder’ afterwards, then I’d be his elder too.” Zhang CuiShan said, “In that case, I shall consent to big brother’s request.” Yin SuSu said, “After a few days, when I could get up. We can formally go through the ritual of bonding by bowing to the Heaven.”

Xie Xun said, “A true man would never go back on his words. Since we’ve already verbally agreed, what’s the need to bow to Heaven?” As he spoke, he left the cave. Only to hear him laugh loudly and heartily in the open field. Since meeting him, this is the first time Zhang and Yin had ever seen him happy.

o0o

From then on, the three of them concentrated on raising this child. Xie Xun was a hunter as a young man, which was the reason for his ‘Golden-Haired Lion King’ nickname. His ability to catch wild animals is second to none. Zhang CuiShan showed him around the island, giving him descriptions to all the places. After a while, Xie Xun became familiar with the geography of the island. From then on, Xie Xun helped out a great deal when it came to hunting animals.

The next few years passed peacefully. The child never got sick, and grew to be quite sturdy. Among the three people, Xie Xun was the most fond of the child. Sometimes when the child became overly mischievous, Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu would try to discipline him, but he would run behind Xie Xun for support. After a while, the child became reliant on Xie Xun to help him all the time. Zhang and Yin could only shake their head and laugh. They said that their big brother dote on his godson too much.

When WuJi turned four*, Yin SuSu taught him how to write. On his fifth birthday, Zhang CuiShan said, “Big brother. We can teach our child kung fu now. Why don’t you teach him?” Xie Xun shook his head, said, “No. My kung fu is too difficult. He can’t learn them yet at this age. You should teach him your Wu Dang’s inner power. When he turns eight, I’ll teach him my kung fu. After teaching him for two years, you can leave this island!”

*Note: In ancient China, a person’s age starts at one when he’s born. So Xie WuJi is only three years old in modern age-counting method. Take note of this, since otherwise you’ll find that some conversations would otherwise not make sense.

Yin SuSu asked in surprise, “What do you mean? Are you saying we could return to mainland?”

Xie Xun said, “In this past few years, I’ve noticed the wind pattern on this island. Every year when the nights are the longest, the northern wind blew. Usually it blows nonstop for at least thirty or forty days. We can make a small raft, and put on a sail. If the Damnable Heaven doesn’t interfere, you just might make it back to mainland.” Yin SuSu said, “Wait, are you saying that you won’t go back with us?” Xie Xun said, “With my blindness, what’s the point for me to return to the mainland?” Yin SuSu said, “If you don’t go, then how can we let you stay here alone? Our son won’t either. Without his godfather, who will love and care for him?” Xie Xun sighed, said, “I’m grateful that I can take care of him for ten years. This Damnable Heaven always likes to piss me off. If this kid stays with me for too long, the bad luck might rub off on him.” Yin SuSu shuddered, but thought that Xie Xun simply blurted it out mindlessly, so she didn’t really thought much of it.

Zhang CuiShan only taught his son fundamental inner powers. He thought that on this island, his child only needs to be strong, and won’t be fighting anyone. Although Xie Xun spoke about returning to the mainland, he never brought it up afterwards. Looks like he didn’t really mean that.

In the eighth year, Xie Xun really did make WuJi to learn kung fu with him. When he taught WuJi, Xie Xun did not ask for Zhang and Yin to remain by their side. The couple followed the martial world’s rules, and stayed away during those times. They didn’t really bother to check on WuJi’s progress, since they trust Xie Xun would teach WuJi his best.

There’s not much to do on the island. So days and months passed like flowing water. Another year went by quickly.

Ever since WuJi’s birth, Xie Xun had something more important to occupy his time then the Dragon Saber. So he ignored it. One night, Zhang CuiShan couldn’t sleep. So he got out of bed to take a walk. He saw Xie Xun sitting on a rock under the moonlight, holding the Dragon Saber, deep in thought. Zhang CuiShan gasped, about to leave, when Xie Xun heard his footsteps. He said, “Fifth brother. It looks like this phrase ‘Martial world’s most venerable, Precious Saber Dragon Slaying’ really is just an empty boast.” Zhang CuiShan walked closer, said, “There are many rumors in the martial world. Considering big brother’s intelligence, why would you be so keen on finding this saber’s secret?” Xie Xun said, “You don’t know the whole story. I heard the story of the Dragon Saber from the venerable Reverend Kong Jian of Shaolin.”

Zhang CuiShan said, “Oh, Reverend Kong Jian. I heard he’s Shaolin abbot’s elder martial brother. He died a long time ago.” Xie Xun nodded, said, “You’re right. Kong Jian died, died in my hands.” Zhang CuiShan was taken by surprise, as he remembered a saying in the martial world, “Shaolin’s Divine Reverends, Jian-Wen-Zhi-Sheng”, which referred to the four best martial artists in Shaolin, Kong Jian, Kong Wen, Kong Zhi, and Kong Sheng. Later he heard that Kong Jian died of natural causes. Looks like Xie Xun killed him instead.

Xie Xun sighed, said, “Kong Jian is a very stubborn person. He simply let me hit him, without retaliating. After punching him thirteen times, I finally killed him.”

Zhang CuiShan was quite stunned, thought, “Only the top fighters could withstand just one punch from big brother. Yet this reverend could withstand thirteen punches. His body must be harder than steel.”

Only to see a mournful expression on Xie Xun’s face, as if he really regretted something. Zhang CuiShan figured that there must be an important story behind it. For the past eight years, Zhang CuiShan had much affection for his big brother. But within that affection hid a bit of fear. Afraid to bring up Xie Xun’s sad past, Zhang CuiShan did not dare ask further.

Only to hear Xie Xun say, “There aren’t many people in this world whom I respect. Although I’ve heard much of your master Zhang SanFeng, I’ve never had a chance to meet him. As for this Reverend Kong Jian, he’s a very admirable person. His martial arts reputation is lower than his younger martial brothers Kong Zhi and Kong Sheng, but in my opinion, he’s better than both.” Every time Zhang CuiShan heard Xie Xun speak about famous peoples of the world, Xie Xun either dismissed them, or cursed them. It’s incredibly rare for him to ever compliment anyone. So Zhang CuiShan was quite surprised to hear Xie Xun speak so highly of Reverend Kong Jian. Zhang CuiShan said, “He must not travel around the world very much, which is why people don’t know much about him.”

Xie Xun looked into the sky, stared aimlessly, and as if speaking to himself, “Too bad, this venerable reverend allowed me to kill him with thirteen punches. Even though his kung fu is incredible, he’s too stubborn. Had he fought me for real, I certainly would not have lived till today.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Are you saying that the depth of his martial arts is more than your’s?”

Xie Xun said, “I’m nothing compared to him. Not even close! It’s the difference between night and day!” Both his voice and his expression showed his great respect for this man.

Zhang CuiShan was quite surprised, and didn’t quite believe Xie Xun. He always thought that his master Zhang SanFeng’s martial arts is unparalleled. But compared to Xie Xun, Zhang SanFeng is only somewhat better. If this Reverend Kong Jian really is much superior to Xie Xun, then would he also surpass master Zhang SanFeng? But Zhang CuiShan knew that his big brother never exaggerates with his compliments.

Xie Xun seemed to have read his mind, said, “You don’t believe me? Fine, go wake up WuJi. I want to tell a story to him.” Zhang CuiShan didn’t want to wake up a child in the middle of the night, especially for just a story. But since this is his big brother order, he couldn’t disobey. Zhang CuiShan walked back to wake up his son. WuJi yelled ‘Great!” when he heard that his godfather wanted to tell a story. This instantly woke up Yin SuSu. So the three of them went outside together.

o0o Xie Xun said, “Son, soon you’ll return to the mainland…” WuJi asked, “What do you mean by ‘return to the mainland’?”

Xie Xun held up his hand, telling WuJi to not interrupt him, and continued, “Should you somehow die in the sea, or end up elsewhere, then this will all be pointless. But should you end up back in mainland, I must tell you some things. There are many, many people in this world who are evil and devious. You should not trust anyone. For other than your parents, everyone could try to hurt you. Unfortunately, no one told me this when I was young. Actually, even if someone did, I wouldn’t have believed him.

“At the age of ten, by simply a coincidence, I became the disciple of a person with powerful martial arts. My relationship with my master was like father and son. Fifth brother, at that time, my reverence for my master was no less than your reverence for yours. At the age of twenty-three, I finished my training and left. I went to the western regions, and met a bunch of pretty important people. Since we really hit it off, they considered me on of their brothers. Fifth sister, your father White-Browed Eagle King met me at that time. Afterwards, I married and had a son. My family live happily.

“When I was twenty-eight, my master came by my house to stay for a while. I was absolutely thrilled. My family treated him as one of our own. When my master had some spare time, he gave me some pointers on kung fu. Who’d have thought that this renowned kung fu expert would be a wolf in sheep’s clothing? On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after we had a lot of alcohol, he suddenly tried to rape my wife…”

Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu both gasped in disbelief, for it’s unheard of for a master to rape his disciple’s wife. It might be one of the most horrible deeds a person could possibly commit.

Xie Xun continued, “When my wife cried out for help, my father forced himself into the room. After getting caught in the act, my master killed my father, and then killed my mother. Then to my infant child Xie WuJi…”

When WuJi heard his name, he asked, “Xie WuJi?” Zhang CuiShan scolded him, “Don’t interrupt! Just listen.” Xie Xun said, “Yes, that son of mine is also called Xie WuJi. My master grabbed him, and threw him down, turning him into a bloody pulp.”

WuJi couldn’t help but ask again, “Godfather, then can he still… still live?” Xie Xun shook his head, said, “No, No!” Yin SuSu shook her hands at her son, telling him to stop asking.

Xie Xun paused for a while, before continuing, “I froze upon reaching the scene. I didn’t know what to do. What should I do in front of the man I respect most in life? Suddenly, he hit me right in the chest, and I just took it without really knowing what had happened. When I returned to consciousness, my master had disappeared. My house was filled with dead people, my father, mother, wife, son, brothers, sisters, and servants, thirteen people, all died in his hands. He must’ve thought I had died from his punch, and therefore left without killing me.

“Afterwards I was sick for a long time. When I recovered, I began to practice kung fu day and night. Three years later, I sought out my master for revenge. Unfortunately, he’s way too powerful for me, and I couldn’t beat him. But how could I simply let him get away with murdering my family? Therefore I began looking for different kung fu experts, hoping to dramatically improve my kung fu. Five years later, I felt I had gained enough, and sought out master again. Unfortunately, I lost again, as his kung fu remained much more powerful than mine. This time, he also seriously injured me in the process.

“After I recovered from my injuries, I received a . This road of fist technique is unusually powerful. Therefore, I began to practice the inner power for the ‘Fists of Seven Damages’. Two years later, I succeeded, and thought that my kung fu should be first class now. Unless my master’s kung fu skill had increased a great deal, there’s no way he’s my match. Who’d have thought that he disappeared? No matter how hard I tried, I still couldn’t find him. I figured he must’ve been afraid of me, and hid in some remote village somewhere. But where to find him? “In my rage, I began to commit crimes everywhere. Killing people, burning down houses, everything. Each time I commit a crime, I’d leave my master’s name on the walls!”

Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu both let out a surprising ‘Oh!” Xie Xun said, “You know who my master is?” Yin SuSu nodded, said, “Yes, you are the disciple of ‘Lightning Hands of the Originating Formation’ Cheng Kun’.”

For about two and a half years ago, many renowned members of the martial world were killed for no reason. Over thirty crimes were committed in half a year, and the murder site would always have the name ‘Lightning Hands of the Originating Formation: Cheng Kun’ written. The victims were all either the leaders of a sect, or an old, famous hero. Every crime involved whole families killed. Any one of these crimes would have been earth shattering in the martial world, much less over thirty of them. At the time, Zhang SanFeng sent all seven of his disciples to investigate, but none of them found any clues on the matter. Everyone thought that someone was trying to frame Cheng Kun. ‘Lightning Hands of the Originating Formation’ Cheng Kun’s kung fu is incredible, but has a great reputation and tends to be a recluse. Besides, several of his friends were among the victims. So Cheng Kun couldn’t possibly be the murderer. But to find the real killer, they still have to find Cheng Kun first. Who’d have thought that he disappeared all of a sudden? After a while, the cases all had to be laid to rest. Even though hundreds of people want to seek revenge, no one knew who did the crimes. If Xie Xun hadn’t personally admitted to these crimes, Zhang CuiShan could never have figured it out.

Xie Xun said, “The reason I committed those crimes was make him reappear. Even if he stayed a coward, it’s still much easier to have thousands of people look for him than just me.” Yin SuSu said, “That was a great plan, except you had to kill so many poor, innocent people in the process.”

Xie Xun said, “So? Are you saying that my family wasn’t poor or innocent? You used to be different. I guess after marrying fifth brother for nine years, you’ve also become so wishy-washy.” Yin SuSu glanced at her husband, smiled slightly, said, “Big brother, so what happened? Did you ever find Cheng Kun?” Xie Xun said, “No. But later, I saw Song YuanQiao at Luo Yang.” Zhagn CuiShan gasped, said, “You mean my eldest martial brother?”

Xie Xun said, “That’s right, the eldest of the Wu Dang Seven Heroes. After committing all these crimes, I already turned the martial world upside down. Yet my master ‘Lightning Hands of the Originating Formation’ Cheng Kun…” WuJi said, “Godfather, if he’s such a bad person, then why do you still call him ‘master’?”

Xie Xun laughed bitterly, said, “It has become a habit. Besides, he taught me the majority of my kung fu. And although he’s a terrible person, I’m a not good person either. Perhaps he also gave me my viciousness. Since I learned both the good and the bad from him, I should still call him my master.”

Zhang CuiShan thought, “After going through such hardships in life, big brother has stopped caring for morals in his resentment for society. WuJi will certainly remember these things, and it can negatively affect his future. I must remember to talk to him about it later.”

Xie Xun continued, “When my master still did not appear, I thought I must commit an incredible crime to get people’s attention. Shaolin and Wu Dang are considered the two most prominent organizations in the martial world, so I wanted to kill a famous person from one of these sects. That day in Luo Yang, I saw Song YangQiao kill an infamous local tyrant. His kung fu very formidable, so I decided to kill him.”

When Zhang CuiShan heard this, his heart started to beat faster. Even though he knew his eldest martial brother did not die, the words still made him shudder. Xie Xun’s kung fu is much superior to eldest martial brother. Besides, one was hidden, one was in the open. Had they really exchanged blows, eldest martial brother would’ve surely died. Yin SuSu also knew that Song YuanQiao did not die, said, “Big brother. Did your conscience act up? Had you really killed Eldest Hero Sung, this Fifth Hero Zhang would’ve surely fought you to the death, instead of becoming your sworn brother.”

Xie Xun let out a humph, said, “What conscience? If it were today, because of fifth brother, I would surely not harm a Wu Dang member. But I didn’t know fifth brother at all back then. At that time, even had fifth brother himself been there instead of Song YuanQiao, I’d still do the same thing.”

WuJi asked, “Godfather, why would you want to kill my dad?” Xie Xun smiled, said, “I was just making an analogy. I don’t really want to kill your dad.” WuJi said, “Oh, I see now,” and stopped worrying.

Xie Xun rubbed WuJi’s head, said, “Although this Damnable Heaven always pissed me off, but at least he didn’t let me kill Song YuanQiao. Or I would’ve never have become your father’s sworn brother.” He paused for a moment, then continued, “That night I ate dinner and meditated to gather my strength. I knew that as Zhang SanFeng’s eldest disciple, his kung fu must be amazing. Should I let him get away somehow, everyone would know who was behind those crimes. Then my plan would be foiled, not to mention just about everyone in the martial world would want my head. My life wasn’t a big deal, but I couldn’t die before getting my revenge.”

Zhang CuiShan asked, “So what happened between you and my eldest martial brother? Odd, he never brought this up with us.”

Xie Xun said, “Song YuanQiao didn’t know anything about this. He’s probably never even heard the words ‘Golden-Haired Lion King, Xie Xun’. Because I never attacked him.”

Zhang CuiShan let out a sigh of relief, said, “Thank Heavens!” Yin SuSu said with a smile, “What are you thanking that Damnable Heaven for? You should really thank this Hero Xie instead.” Zhang CuiShan and WuJi both started to laugh.

End of Chapter 7. 
@Chapter 8 - The Journey Home after Ten Years
Xie Xun continued, “I still remember that night as if it were yesterday. I sat in my hotel room, circulating the inner chi in my body, and thought about the ‘Fists of Seven Damages’ in my head a few more times. Fifth brother, you’ve never seen my ‘Fists of Seven Damages’. Do you wish to take a look?” Before Zhang CuiShan could answer, Yin SuSu cut in, “I’m sure it’s without doubt an exquisite fist technique, unparalleled in power. Big brother, how come you didn’t go kill Eldest Hero Sung that night?”

Xie Xun chuckled, said, “You’re afraid that when I demonstrate, I might hurt your husband, right? Don’t worry, if I can’t release and retract my power at will, then what kind of ‘Fists of Seven Damages’ would it be?” As he spoke, Xie Xun stood up, and walked over to a large tree. Accompanied by a roar as loud as the thunder, he punched the tree on the trunk.

Considering Xie Xun’s ability, he could at least make a hole in the trunk, if not break the tree outright. Who’d have thought that when Xie Xun retracted his palm, the tree remained perfectly fine. Not even a piece of tree bark fell off. Yin SuSu felt badly for Xie Xun, thought, “Looks like after living on the island for nine years, big brother’s kung fu has deteriorated greatly. Well, it’s hardly surprising. I’ve never seen him practice kung fu.” But afraid that he’ll be sad, she still applauded him.

Xie Xun said, “Fifth sister. Your applause didn’t seem very sincere. You’re thinking that my ability is not what it used to be, right?” Yin SuSu said, “On this island, there’s only the four of us. What’s the need for kung fu?” Xie Xun asked, “Fifth brother, can you see the profoundness in my punch?” Zhang CuiShan said, “You performed this punch using great power. Yet not a single leaf vibrated upon impact. I’m not certain why this is so. Even had WuJi punched the tree, the leaves would have moved.” WuJi yelled, “Yes, I can do that!” He swiftly ran over to the tree and punched on the trunk. The leaves really did move around, causing their shadows to shiver under the moonlight.

Upon seeing the power of their son’s punch, Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu were both delighted. Both gazed upon Xie Xun, seeking his explanation.

Xie Xun said, “Three days later, the leaves will turn yellow and wither. Half a month later, the tree itself will shrivel up and die. My punch had broken the veins of the tree.”

Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu both were hesitant to believe him, but they knew Xie Xun to be a man of his words. So he must be right. Xie Xun grabbed the Dragon Saber, unsheathed it, and ‘Swoosh!’ cut the tree in half. Then came a loud crash, as the tree fell down. Xie Xun put back his saber, said, “Can you see the power of my ‘Fists of Seven Damages’ now?”

Zhang CuiShan and his family walked over to examine the inside of the tree, only to see most of the tree’s water passageways wrecked: some bent, some shattered, some broken into pieces, some only semi-broken. Signs that this punch incorporated many different simultaneous forces. Zhang and Yin were both very impressed. Zhang CuiShan asked, “Big brother. This was an amazing demonstration.”

Xie Xun couldn’t help but respond in a proud manner, “This punch contained seven different types of force, some hard, some soft, some contain softness within hardness, some contain hardness within softness, some forces sweep across, some strike vertically, and some shrivel. An enemy might block the first force, but not the second one. If he blocked the second one, then how does he deal with the third force? That’s where the name ‘Fists of Seven Damages’ came from, as one can damage the opponent in seven different ways. Fifth brother, remember that day when you matched palms with me? Had I used ‘Fists of Seven Damages’, you would’ve immediately lost.” Zhang CuiShan said, “You’re right.”

WuJi wanted to ask his father why he matched palms with godfather, but Yin SuSu immediately shook her head at him, telling him not to inquire further. However, WuJi couldn’t help but ask, “Godfather, can you teach me this ‘Fists of Seven Damages’?” Xie Xun shook his head, said, “No!” WuJi was disappointed, and wanted to plead some more. Yin SuSu said with a smile, “WuJi, don’t be silly. This kung fu is too difficult for you. Unless you have incredible inner power, how can you possibly learn it?” WuJi said, “I see. In that case, I’ll first make sure to acquire superior inner power first, and then learn it.”

Xie Xun shook his head, said, “Actually, there’s no need to ever bother with this ‘Fists of Seven Damages’! Everyone’s body has two chi, yin and yang, plus ‘Gold-Wood-Water-Fire-Dirt’ five major regions. Your heart belongs to fire, lungs belong to gold, kidneys belongs to water, spleen belongs to dirt, and liver belongs to wood. Seven injuries to one person, or injuries to seven people. Unfortunately, every time you practice this Fists of Seven Damages, you will damage your own body. The ‘seven damages’ here means seven damages to your body first, then seven damages to your opponents. Had I not injured my veins while practicing ‘Fist of Seven Damages’, I would’ve never had problems with madness.”

Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu now realized why despite being such an intelligent, powerful person, Xie Xun would lose his mind on occasions.

Xie Xun continued, “Had my inner power been really high, to the point of Reverend Kong Jian, or perhaps Wu Dang’s Taoist Zhang, I wouldn’t have hurt myself like this. Unfortunately, I was too keen on revenge in my youth. I stole a copy of the from the Kong Dong Sect. Upon getting the manual, I immediately began to practice hastily. I was in a hurry, in case my master would pass away before I complete my training. By the time I realized the side effects, it was already too late. I should’ve recognized something from the beginning. Why would the Kong Dong Sect have such a powerful fist manual, yet couldn’t dominate the martial world? In addition, I realized that the sound of the punches were thunderous and crisp, which was very useful. Fifth sister, do you know why I say this?”

Yin SuSu thought for a moment, then said, “Because its similar to your master’s kung fu?”

Xie Xun said, “You’re right. My master’s nickname is ‘Lightning Hands of the Originating Formation’. His palm carries wind and thunder, its power unimaginable. Once I find him, and use the ‘Fists of Seven Damages’ on him, he would surely mistake it for the kung fu I learned from him. By the time he finds out, it would be too late. Fifth brother, don’t blame me for being so devious. Although my master looks coarse, he’s one of the most devious person you’ll ever find. If I don’t try to trick him, how could I get my revenge… sighs, so I’ve told you some of what happened afterwards, right? Anyway, I haven’t gotten to Reverend Kong Jian yet. That night I went over the inner power circulation for ‘Fists of Seven Damages’ three times, and jumped out the wall to look for Song YuanQiao.

“In the middle of the jump, before I hit the ground, a person suddenly tapped my shoulder from the back. I was quite astonished, for I couldn’t imagine anyone capable of doing that without me noticing. WuJi, think about this for a moment. Had he used his full force to attack me, he could’ve at least seriously injured me. I reached with my hand to grab his arm, only to find nothing there. I then tried to turn around and punch him, but of course didn’t hit anything. So I turned back. Just at this moment, my shoulder was tapped once again from the back. At the same time, a person sighed, said, “ ‘The Sea of Misery is endless, turn around towards the shore.’”

WuJi found this pretty funny, and laughed. He said, “Godfather, is this person playing a game with you?” Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu both knew that this must be Revered Kong Jian.

Xie Xun continued, “At that moment, I was scared stiff. It was obvious that he could kill me any time he wants to. He spoke ‘the sea of misery is endless, turn around towards the shore’ in a time to blink an eye. Yet he spoke it in a very coherent manner, so I heard every single world clearly, in addition to his merciful, compassionate tone. But at that time, I only felt anger. So I turned around quickly, only to see a white-robed monk standing about thirteen meters from me. As I turned, he was at most two or three feet away from me. Who’d have thought that after that tap, he immediately flew backward thirteen meters. I’ve never dreamed of speed and agility like that.

“At that moment I thought of only one thing, ‘He must be a ghost, someone I killed who’s haunting me now!’ For surely no living person could have this level of lightness kung fu. Once I figured that he was a ghost, I became braver, yelled, “Look, I don’t care if you’re a phantom or a ghost. Your old man I am afraid of neither the Heaven nor the Underworld. So do you think a ghost can scare me?’ That white-robed monk put his palms together, said, ‘Mr. Xie, my name is Kong Jian.’ When I heard the words ‘Kong Jian’, I recalled the saying ‘Shaolin’s Divine Reverends, Jian-Wen-Zhi-Sheng’. As the first among the four divine reverends, no wonder his kung fu is so formidable.”

Zhang CuiShan remembered that this Reverend Kong Jian later died in his big brother’s hands, and could help but feel uneasy.

Xie Xun continued, “So I asked, ‘Are you Shaolin’s Divine Reverend Kong Jian?’ That white-robed monk answered, ‘I don’t deserve the title Divine Reverend. However, I am Shaolin’s Kong Jian.’ I said, ‘We have never met before. Why do you toy with me so?’ Kong Jian said, ‘I do not dare toy with Mr. Xie. Mr, Xie, may I ask where are you going?’ I said, ‘Where I go is none of your business.’ Kong Jian said, ‘If I guessed correctly, you are trying to kill Wu Dang’s Hero Song YuanQiao tonight, right?’

“I was surprised that he knew of my intentions. He added, ‘You want to commit another crime, one that would shock the entire martial world, so ‘Lightning Hands of the Originating Formation’ Cheng Kun would appear, allowing you to avenge your family’s death, right?’ I couldn’t believe he said my master’s name, for I had never told anyone about my master murdering my family. Since this was a hideous crime, my master would surely not tell anyone either. So how could this reverend know?

“At that moment I shuddered, said, ‘If reverend can point out my master’s location, I will repay you in any way you wish.’ Kong Jian sighed, said, ‘Cheng Kun’s crime was indeed horrifying. Yet for revenge, you have killed so many people, done so many terrible deeds.’ I wanted to say, ‘Who asked for your opinion?’ But then I remembered his kung fu skills, plus the fact that I needed to ask him for a favor. So I held my anger in check, said, ‘I was forced to do these deeds, for Cheng Kun had gone into hiding. With the world so vast, how can I possibly find him?’ Kong Jian nodded, said, ‘I realize that your heart is filled with bitterness, and nowhere to release them. Hero Sung is the eldest disciple under Wu Dang’s Taoist Zhang SanFeng. If you kill him, your crime will be too immense.’ I said, ‘That is just what I want. The bigger the crime, the more likely I can get Cheng Kun to reappear.’

“Kong Jian said, ‘Mr. Xie, if you kill Hero Sung, Cheng Kun would indeed have to appear. Yet the Cheng Kun today is no longer the Cheng Kun of the past. You kung fu is nowhere near his level. You can’t possibly get your revenge.’ I said, ‘Cheng Kun’s my master. Surely I can judge his kung fu better than you can.’

“Kong Jian shook his head, said, ‘He has sought after another master, so his martial arts has grown immensely. Although you learned Kong Dong Sect’s ‘Fists of Seven Damages’, you still can’t hurt him.’ I didn’t know what to make of this person. I had never seen him before. Yet he seemed to know everything about me. I hesitated for a moment, then asked, ‘How do you know about that?’ He said, ‘Cheng Kun told me.’”

At this moment, Zhang and Yin both gasped.

Xie Xun said, “You must’ve been quite surprised to hear this. When I heard it back then, I immediately jumped up, and yelled, ‘But how did he know?’ He said, ‘For the past few years, he has been following you. Only he kept changing his disguises, so you never recognized him.’ I said, ‘Are you kidding me? I can’t recognize him? He can turn into dust, and I’d still recognize him.’ He said, ‘Mr. Xie, you are certainly a very perceptive person, but for the past years, you cared only for learning martial arts and revenge. You never tried to examine your surroundings. In addition, you were in the light, while he was in the dark. It’s not that you can’t recognize him, but rather you never attempted to recognize him.’ “What he said made a lot of sense. Besides, Reverend Kong Jian is a world- renowned reverend. He can’t possibly lie to me. I said, ‘If so, then how come he just didn’t kill me?’ Kong Jian said, ‘He could have easily killed you had he wanted to. Mr. Xie, you have tried to fight him two times for revenge. Each time he defeated you. Why did he not kill you then? Besides, when you were stealing the , you matched palms with three of the ‘Five Elders of Kong Dong’. Where were the other two elders? Had the other two elders also appeared, do you think you could have escaped?’

“That day after I injured three elders of Kong Dong, I found the other two also injured, which was quite strange. I thought that perhaps Kong Dong Sect had some sort of internal conflict, or another kung fu expert had helped me. So when I heard Reverend Kong Jian spoke of the matter, my mind stirred, said, ‘Did Cheng Kun injure the other two elders?’”

Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu found the story more and more bizarre. Despite their experiences in the martial world, neither could figure this particular story out. Both thought Xie Xun was one of the impressive people they’ve ever seen. Yet his master Cheng Kun seemed even more impressive.

Yin SuSu said, “Big brother, did your master really injure the other two elders?”

Xie Xun said, “When I asked Kong Jian, he said, ‘Did you see their injuries that night? What did their faces look like?’ I thought about it for a while, then said, ‘So they really were injured by my master.’ That night, I saw the two elders lying on the floor, their faces filled with blood spots. From their appearance, they seemed to have used a powerful Yin-style inner power to attack someone, but an expert forced it back with the ‘Art of Origination’. Other than having one’s force repelled with ‘Art of Origination’, only a select few illnesses could provide the same symptoms. Yet that same morning, all five of them were perfectly healthy, so they certainly did not get ill. In the martial world, only the my master and I know the ‘Art of Origination’

“Reverend Kong Jian nodded, sighed, said, ‘Your master became mad after drinking too much, and unknowingly killed your family. Afterwards he felt incredibly guilty. That is why he did not kill you during those fights. But since you fought so wildly, he had no way to escape unless he injured you. Afterwards he followed you for a few years. You later encountered three major perils. Each time he helped you live through them.’ I thought about it, and found that I did go through three life-and-death situations. Each time, my enemies miraculously retreated. Reverend Kong Jian continued, ‘He knows that his crimes are too severe, and does not ask for your forgiveness. His only hope is that with time, your pain will lessen. Who knew that your thirst for revenge magnified instead, killing more and more people. Should you kill Hero Song YuanQiao, it would be impossible to clean up this whole mess.’

“I said, ‘If so, then ask my master to come see me, so we can settle our differences.’ Reverend Kong Jian said, ‘Your master says that he has no face to see you. Besides, you are hardly his match anyway. So seeing him would be pointless.’ I said, ‘I know you are a venerable reverend. You should know about right and wrong. Are you telling me that I should simply forget the death of my family?’ He said, ‘I am also saddened by your misfortune. But your master did not willingly commit those crimes. Besides, he has since repented. On the account of your past master-disciple relationship, he hoped you would leave him be.’ I became quite angry, said, ‘If I cannot defeat him, then he can just go ahead and kill me. I would rather die than leave my family unavenged.’

“Reverend Kong Jian thought for a long time, then said, ‘Mr. Xie, your master’s kung fu is not what it used to be. Even though you’ve learned the ‘Fists of Seven Damages’, you are still not his match. If you do not believe me, then try hitting me a few times.’ I said, ‘I have no quarrel with you, why should I hit you? Although my kung fu is low, the ‘Fist of Seven Damages’ is nonetheless not easy to absorb.’ He said, ‘Mr. Xie, let us make a wager. Your master killed thirteen people in your family. Today you can hit me thirteen times. If you can injure me, I will get out of your way. Your master will then come out to see you. Otherwise, you must promise to let go of revenge.’ I did not respond. His kung fu is amazing. If my ‘Fists of Seven Damages’ could not hurt him, then what about my revenge? Reverend Kong Jian added, ‘Let me be frank with you. Since I decided to concern myself in this matter, do you really think I can let you keep hurting others? If you go back to doing good deeds, and give up on vengeance, I can forgive for your past crimes. Otherwise, if you can seek revenge, what about the relatives of those you killed? Do they not deserve their vengeance too?’

“Upon hearing his voice becoming stern, I got quite annoyed, yelled, ‘Fine, I will go ahead and give you thirteen punches! You can give up any time you want to. However, do not go back on your promise. You better ask my master to come see me.’ Reverend Kong Jian smiled, said, ‘Please go on ahead!’ His body was very short and thin, with white hair and white eyebrows, and a gentle, compassionate face. I didn’t want to really hurt him. My first fist only used thirty percent of my power. Pang! The fist landed on his chest.”

WuJi gasped, yelled, “Did you use the ‘Fists of Seven Damages’ that destroyed the tree?”

Xie Xun said, “No! I used my master’s ‘Lightning & Thunder Fist’. When my punch landed, his body lightly shook, and retreated a step. Realizing that this punch can make him back off, I figured the ‘Fists of Seven Damages’ would probably kill him in three punches. So I added a bit more power to my second punch. Again his body lightly shook, and retreated another step. My third punch incorporated seventy percent of my power. But once again, his body just light shook, and retreated a step. I was surprised, as I have more than doubled my power, yet his expression remained the same. Considering his thin body, my punches should at least break his bones. Yet I found no signs of a competing force to negate my punch. It’s as if his body simply absorbed my power.

“I thought that to hurt him, I must use all my power. But if I used full power, he will likely die. Even though I’ve done many evil deeds, I respected his kindheartedness. So I said, ‘Reverend, I cannot stand the fact that you do not return any blows. For taking three punches, I promise that I will not seek out Song YuanQiao.’ He said, ‘Then what about Cheng Kun?’ I said, ‘Nothing can change my mind on revenge. Only one of us can live.’ I paused for a moment, then added, ‘Out of respect for you, I will only look for Cheng Kun himself, and no longer hurt any innocents.’

“Reverend Kong Jian put his palms together, said, ‘That is great. I am glad that you feel this way. On behalf of the martial world, I thank you. It’s just that I really wish to resolve this issue. So please go ahead and finish the rest of your punches.’

“I realized that only by using the ‘Fists of Seven Damages’ could I make my master appear. Thankfully, I can retract the ‘Fists of Seven Damages’ power at will. So I said, ‘I am sorry to offend you!’ and followed with my fourth punch. This time I used the ‘Fists of Seven Damages’. His chest tightened, and then he stepped forward.”

WuJi said, “That’s strange. How come he didn’t retreat like before?”

Zhang CuiShan said, “Did he use Shaolin’s Divine Art ‘Diamond Armor Invincible Body’?”

Xie Xun nodded, said, “Fifth brother, you really are knowledgeable. That’s correct. When this punch connected, I felt totally different from the previous three punches. This time, his body produced a protective counterforce, which sent a tremor all the way into my inner organs. I knew that he must’ve had no other choice, and had to use this divine art to protect from the Fists of Seven Damages. I have long heard that Shaolin’s ‘Diamond Armor Invincible Body’ is one of the five top divine arts in history. It certainly lived up to its reputation. Then I unleashed my fifth punch, purposely made it carry more soft-yin force. Once again he stepped forward, and I had to spend a long time neutralizing the counterforce from his body.”

WuJi said, “Godfather, this old monk promised not to fight back. So why did he still try to hurt you by countering your punches?”

Xie Xun rubbed his hair, said, “After my fifth punch, Reverend Kong Jian said, “I never expected the Fists of Seven Damages to be so powerful. If I don’t use my inner power to counter your punches, I could not remain injury-free.’ I said, ‘I am already grateful that you have not tried to hit me.’ Immediately afterwards, I sent out the sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth punches in one swift motion. Reverend Kong Jian really is amazing. He countered each and every one of those punches, using just the right blend of yin and yang for his counter.

“Shocked at his ability, I yelled, ‘Watch out!’ and the tenth punch floated out lightly. He nodded, and before my punch reached his body, stepped forward two steps. At this moment, he actually gained the initiative.”

WuJi obviously did not know the importance of these two steps. But Zhang CuiShan realized that when experts exchange blows, it is very difficult for one person to anticipate an opponent’s attack before it comes out. The ability to do so, even for one move, could very well mean a victory. He nodded, said, “Incredible, incredible!”

Xie Xun continued, “I used all of my power in this tenth punch. Yet when he stepped up and shocked me, I had to back off a couple of steps. Although I couldn’t see my own expression, one can easily imagine just how pale I was. Reverend Kong Jian sighed, said, ‘Don’t be too hasty with your eleventh punch. Recover your strength first.’ Despite my combative nature, I had to follow his advice, for I really lacked the energy for another punch.”

Zhang CuiShan and his family all worried for Xie Xun at this moment. WuJi suddenly said, “Godfather, I think you should just give up on the last three punches.” Xie said, “Why?” WuJi said, “This old monk is a really good person. You would feel guilty if you hurt him. If you end up hurting yourself, that would be bad too.” Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu glanced at each other, surprised that their child could have such insight at his young age. Zhang CuiShan rejoiced at WuJi’s compassionate nature, and his ability to comprehend good and evil.

Only to hear Xie Xun let out another sigh, said, “I can’t believe that at the time, I didn’t even have the sense of a child. My heart was filled with revenge, and would not give up until I find my master. I knew one of us would end up either dead or seriously injured, but it didn’t matter at the time. Once I regained my energy, the eleventh punch shot out. This time he stepped up sideways, and met my punch with his waist. His eyebrows rose up, as if in quite a bit of pain. I knew his reason for this. It would hurt me too much should he counter at the chest. But the force exerted by his waist is much smaller, but this way, the force he had to absorb increased a great deal too.

“I froze for a moment, said, ‘Considering my master’s terrible sins, why do you insist on helping him?’ Reverend Kong Jian adjusted his breathing, said with a bitter smile, ‘I just want to take two more punches from you, and resolve this issue.’ At this moment, a thought suddenly came to me, ‘Looks like he can’t speak when using Diamond Armor Invincible Body. Why don’t I trick him into talking, and punch him at that time?’ So I said, ‘If I do manage hurt you in thirteen punches, would my master really come out?’ He said, ‘He personally told me that…’ Before he finished speaking, I immediately punched his waist. This punch came very fast, and toward a low point on his body, so he won’t have time to raise his protective divine art.

“Who’d have thought that his protection raises by the will of the heart. When my punch landed, his protective armor had spread throughout his body. I felt my head spinning around, my organs splitting apart, and unwillingly retreated seven or eight steps. My retreat only stopped upon hitting a tree.

“At this moment of such utter defeat, my heart sank, said, ‘I give up. Looks like there is no way for me to get my revenge now. So what is the need for me to remain in this world?’ I raised my hand, aimed it on my forehead, about to push it down.” Yin SuSu yelled, “What an ingenious idea!” Zhang CuiShan asked, “Why so?” but then instantly understood, and said, “But, to do this to such a venerable reverend, isn’t that too cruel?” He also figured out that should Xie Xun tried to commit suicide, Kong Jian would obviously try to stop it. Xie Xun could take advantage of this, and attack right when Kong Jian is saving him. Zhang CuiShan’s cleverness does not take a backseat to his wife. He just never thinks about devious things, and therefore takes longer to realize such things. Xie Xun said sadly, “I was indeed using his kindness against him. You both guessed correctly. But it was a dangerous gambit. If this palm came down too slowly, he would see through the ruse, and refuse to help me. I had only one punch left. How could I possibly break his invincible armor? If so, then I would simply have to forget all about vengeance. At that moment, I really did use all my palm power. Had he not interfered, I would have killed myself. Of course, I wanted to die anyway should revenge no longer be a possibility.

“When Reverend Kong Jian saw my abnormal actions, he yelled, ‘Hold on! There’s no need to…’ and flew toward me. His left hand reached out immediately to block my right palm. My left fist came out at the same moment. Pang! It hit him directly in the chest. He was indeed defenseless at the moment. I doubt he even gave applying the armor a passing thought. How could he possibly withstand my punch like this? Immediately his inner organs crumbled, and he fell down onto the ground.

“After this punch, upon realization of his certain death, I suddenly found my conscience. I came to his side and began crying, yelled, ‘Reverend Kong Jian, I am such an ungrateful ingrate. I don’t deserve to be human!’”

Zhang CuiShan and his family sighed. They all felt that he was terribly wrong to kill the reverend in such a despicable manner.

Xie Xun said, “When Reverend Kong Jian saw me cry, he smiled, and try to calm me down, ‘Who on this world does not die? Why are you so sad? Your master will soon come. Try to compose yourself.’ With his reminder, I realized that I must prepare for my enemy instead of agonizing. So I immediately started to mediate, to recover my strength. Yet after a long time, my master still did not come. Surprised, I looked at Reverend Kong Jian.

“With what little life he had left, Reverend Kong Jian said, ‘I… I cannot believe that he… he failed to keep his promise… could someone have… have blocked his path?’ I yelled angrily, ‘You tricked me. You tricked me into killing you, for my master still haven’t came out to see me.’ He shook his head, said, ‘I did not trick you, but I have wronged you.’ In my rage, I wanted to keep yelling at him. But then I thought, ‘Why would he want to trick me into killing him? Plus, in response to killing him, he only tried to apologize.’ Feeling incredibly ashamed, I kneeled in front of him and said, ‘Reverend, if you have any wishes, I will carry them out for you.’ He smiled slightly, said, ‘Hopefully, whenever you wish to kill someone, please remember me.’

“This reverend not only have unparalleled martial arts ability, but also great wisdom. He knew that I would not give up on revenge, and therefore did not bother to request it. He only wanted me think of him when I wish to kill. Fifth brother. Remember when we matched palms on the boat? The reason I didn’t kill you was because I remembered Reverend Kong Jian.”

Zhang CuiShan never imagined that Reverend Kong Jian saved his life. His respect for this reverend grew even more.

Xie Xun sighed again, said, “His heartbeat became slower and slower. I put my palm on his ‘Ling Ti Pressure Point’, began infusing my inner power to extend his life. He suddenly took a deep breath, and asked, ‘Is your master still not here?’ I said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘Then he is not going to come.’ I said, ‘Reverend. Be assured that I will never again kill anyone to make him appear. But even if I have to walk to the end of the world, I will find him.’ He said, ‘But, you are no match for him. Unless… unless…’ At this point, his words became too soft to hear. I put my ear by his mouth, only to hear him say, ‘Unless you can find the Dragon Saber, and find… find the secret inside…’ At this moment, he stopped his breathing, and died.”

Finally, Zhang and Yin knew why Xie Xun tried so hard to find the secret inside the saber. Why he’s normally very courteous, but occasionally gets mad like a wild animal. Why he has such incredible kung fu, yet spends his days in sadness…

Xie Xun said, “Later, I found out the location of the Dragon Saber, and went to Wang Pan Island to take it. Fifth sister, your father was one of my dearest friends. We were the renowned Eagle King and Lion King. Later we became enemies, but that story is long and involves too many other people. I can’t tell you about them. Before I took the saber, my only wish was to find my master. Yet after obtaining the saber, my only fear was that my master might find me. That’s why I had to find a deserted island, so I safely find the saber’s secret. Afraid that you might reveal my secret, I had to take you along. Who’d have thought that ten years would pass in the blink of an eye, and I have yet to accomplish a single thing!”

Zhang CuiShan said, “Reverend Kong Jian might not have said everything he wanted before death. Perhaps he had something else in mind.”

Xie Xun said, “I’ve thought of every single possibility. No matter how ludicrous. Yet nothing fit. I don’t doubt that there’s a huge secret within the saber. But I just could not find it.”

o0o

After this night’s conversation, Xie Xun never touched the subject again. He also became stricter when teaching WuJi martial arts. WuJi is only nine at this moment. Despite his intelligence, there was no way WuJi could learn Xie Xun’s powerful martial arts in such a short time. Xie Xun also taught him ways to exchange his pressure points, and how to break free a sealed pressure point. These are some of the deepest martial arts abilities in the world. WuJi didn’t even know what pressure points are, plus he has almost no inner power. So how could he learn them? Even so, Xie Xun yelled at him and hit him for mistakes. And he showed no signs of letting up.

Yin SuSu felt dreadful upon seeing the marks on her son. She said to Xie Xun, “Big brother, your kung fu skills are too complicated. How can WuJi learn them all in such a short time? We have all the time in the world on this island. Don’t be so hasty.” Xie Xun said, “I’m not teaching him. I’m just asking him to memorize everything.” Yin SuSu said in surprise, “You mean, you haven’t taught him any kung fu?” Xie Xun said, “It will take too long to teach him step by step. That’s why I simply want him to memorize everything.”

Yin SuSu didn’t understand Xie Xun’s reasoning, but trusted him to make the right decision. Whenever her son finished his lessons with injuries, she’d embrace him tenderly. WuJi seemed to be quite understanding of this matter. He said, “Mom, godfather only wanted the best for me. The stricter he is, the more I can remember.”

Another several months passed like this. One morning, Xie Xun suddenly said, “Fifth brother, fifth sister, in another four months, the wind will start blowing south. Let’s start building a raft now. Zhang CuiShan, happy and surprised, asked, “Do you think we can get back to the mainland this way?” Xie Xun said coldly, “That depends on what the Heaven thinks. As the saying goes, ‘Planning depends on man, Success depends on Heaven’. Succeed, and you’ll arrive at mainland. Fail, and you’ll die in the sea.”

There’s no reason for him or Yin SuSu to go back. They lived happily here on the island. But WuJi needs to get married and have children. It would be a shame for him to grow old and die alone on this island. When Zhang CuiShan thought of WuJi’s future, he happily began to make the raft. The trees on this island are mostly very old. Due to growing in such a cold climate, their trunks are incredibly hard and sturdy. Xie Xun and Zhang CuiShan cut down the wood, while Yin SuSu use animal skins to sew a sail. WuJi simply did odd jobs to help out.

Yin SuSu is hardly the spoiled little girl of ten years ago, but she never did have formal sewing training. So it was very difficult for her to make this sail.

While processing the wood to make the raft, Xie Xun would always have WuJi stand by his side. This way, he could test WuJi’s memorization. Of course, Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu could no longer stay away, so they heard Xie Xun ask questions, while WuJi answers them. Xie Xun wanted to WuJi to memorize all sorts of sword techniques, saber techniques and numerous other things. It’s already strange that Xie Xun would teach martial arts in a ‘scholarly fashion’. Yet he never even tried to explain anything, and taught like a terrible teacher, by simply making his students memorize everything without understanding. Yin SuSu felt sorry for her son. She thought that even a kung fu expert probably can’t even memorize this much stuff. Besides, what’s the use of memorizing the wording without demonstrations? Surely talking about martial arts isn’t worth anything in a true battle. Even worse is that every time WuJi makes a mistake, Xie Xun would slap him on the face. Although Xie Xun didn’t apply any inner power to his hand, the slaps would still leave a red mark for half a day.

After two and a half months, they managed to finish the base of the raft. Then they took another half a month to put on the mast. Finally, they began to start to store food and water for the trip. By now, the days were already quite short. Yet the wind still blew northward.

By now, Xie Xun stayed with WuJi every single moment, even forcing WuJi to sleep with him. Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu could only bitterly smile at Xie Xun’s mix of tenderness and sternness.

o0o

One night, Zhang CuiShan woke up from his sleep, found the wind oddly different. He sat up, and realized that the wind indeed now came from the north. Zhang CuiShan quickly woke up Yin SuSu, said happily, “Listen to the wind!” Before Yin SuSu could respond, they suddenly heard Xie Xun yelled outside, “The northern wind’s blowing!” His voice was mixed with tears, which sounded very odd.

The next morning, Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu quickly gathered everything for the journey. Part of them didn’t want to leave. After all, they had lived here for ten years. Zhang and Yin finished putting food and water on the boat by noon. They then pushed the raft into the sea. WuJi first jumped onboard, and Yin SuSu followed.

Zhang CuiShan grabbed Xie Xun’s hand and said, “Big brother, the raft is about six feet from us. Let’s jump on together!”

Xie Xun said, “Fifth brother, we shall part here. Please take good care of yourself.”

Zhang CuiShan’s heart jumped, as if someone had just punched him in the chest. He said, “You… you…” Xie Xun said, “You have a good heart, and should have a good life. But your views on good and evil are too idealistic, and therefore must be careful. WuJi is open-minded and tolerant, so I trust him to make good decisions when he grows up. Although fifth sister is a woman, she will never get the short end of the stick on things. Quite frankly, the person I fear for the most, is you.” Zhang CuiShan felt shocked. He yelled, “Big brother, what are you saying? You’re not going to… going to come with us?” Xie Xun said, “I said this a few years ago. Don’t you remember?”

To Zhang CuiShan, these words felt like thunder roaring in his ears. He did remember Xie Xun’s words about remaining on the island. At the time, neither he nor Yin SuSu thought much of it. Afterwards, Xie Xun never repeated this sentiment. So these came as quite a shock to him. Zhang CuiShan said in a hurry, “Big brother, what’s so great about staying on this island alone? Jump on the raft, quick!” As he spoke, Zhang CuiShan pulled on Xie Xun’s hand. But Xie Xun remained at his spot firmly.

Zhang CuiShan yelled, “SuSu, WuJi, get back! Big brother said that he wouldn’t go with us.” Yin SuSu and WuJi both gasped, and jumped back to shore. WuJi said, “Godfather, why won’t you go with us? If you don’t go, then I won’t go either.”

Of course, Xie Xun didn’t want to leave them. After parting, they certainly would not return. To live alone on this island is possibly worse then death. But after becoming a sworn brother to Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu, he cared more for them than himself. And he loved WuJi as his own son. However, after thinking thoroughly, he knew that he had to stay. There are too many enemies back in the mainland. Plus, it’s quite possible that people knew that the Dragon Saber is in his hands now. Should he go back, just about everyone in the martial world would want his life. In the past, he would just shrug off the danger. But with both eyes blinded, he can’t possibly hold off his enemies. Besides, Zhang and Yin would certainly not see him die alone, and might fight with him to the end. He concluded that they would probably not live for more than a year back in mainland. Of course, Xie Xun didn’t care to share this. He would just go ahead and decided stay at the last moment. When he heard WuJi’s words, Xie Xun picked him up and said, “WuJi, you’re a good kid. Listen to your godfather, ok? Your godfather’s too old, and he is blind. I can live a carefree life here. But would feel uncomfortable living on the mainland.” WuJi said, “Don’t worry, I’ll will take care of you after we get back, and never leave your side. If you want to eat or drink, I’ll bring them to you. So you can live the same life.” Xie Xun shook his head, said, “No. I would still be happier here.” WuJi said, “I’m happy here too. Mom, dad, let’s just stay here, ok?”

Yin SuSu said, “Big brother, why are you so adamant on staying? If there’s a problem, share it with us. But we can’t let you stay alone.”

Xie Xun thought, “Looks like it’s impossible to reason with them into leaving. So what should I do?”

Zhang CuiShan suddenly said, “I know you’re afraid of your enemies, right? We can just find an obscure place to settle down, so they won’t find us. Actually, we can simply go to Wu Dang Mountain. No one would expect you to be there.” Xie Xun said, “Humph. Although your big brother is useless, but at least he doesn’t need your master’s protection.” Zhang CuiShan knew he spoke the wrong words, and hurried said, “Big brother’s kung fu is my master’s equal. Why would you need his protection? Besides, we can go anywhere. There are many places for us to settle.”

Xie Xun said, “If you want me to find an obscure place to live, what could be more obscure than this island? Look, are you three going or not?”

Zhang CuiShan said, “If big brother won’t leave, neither will we.” Xie Xun sighed, said, “Fine. We’ll all stay. You can wait till I die, and then leave.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Alright. We’ve already lived here for ten years. And are certainly not in a hurry to leave.”

Xie Xun yelled, “Are you certain that you’ll leave after I die?” At this moment, the three of them saw Xie Xun’s hand flashed, as he unsheathed the Dragon Saber, and sliced at his own throat.

Zhang CuiShan yelled in shock, “Don’t hurt WuJi!” He knew that he could not physically his brother from committing suicide. The only way to stop him is by this lie. Xie Xun immediately froze, put down his saber and yelled, “What?”

Zhang CuiShan realized that he can’t change Xie Xun’s mind, and said with tears, “If big brother’s so adamant about it, then I will respect your wishes, and part.” As he spoke, Zhang CuiShan kneeled down and kowtowed several times. But WuJi yelled, “Godfather, if you don’t go, then neither will I! If you can commit suicide, so can I. A man of his words does what he says. I can slash my own throat too.”

Xie Xun yelled, “Little fool. Don’t be ridiculous!” He instantly grabbed WuJi, and threw him onto the raft. Xie Xun then stepped up, and pushed both Yin SuSu and Zhang CuiShan onto the boat also. He yelled, “Fifth brother, fifth sister, WuJi! I wish you a safe journey. Hopefully, you will peacefully return to the mainland.” Then he added, “WuJi, after you get back to the mainland, you must call yourself Zhang WuJi. Only keep the name ‘Xie WuJi’ in your heart, never to be spoken.”

WuJi yelled as loud as he could, “Godfather, Godfather!”

Xie Xun raised his saber and said, “If you dare return to shore, our relationship ends immediately.”

Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu knew that their sworn brother’s mind is set. They could therefore only wave goodbye. By this time, the wind had begun to carry them away from the island. They saw Xie Xun’s body becoming smaller and smaller, until he disappeared into the distance. Only then did the family of three turn around. WuJi rested in his mother’s embrace, cried for a long time, before falling asleep.

o0o

The raft drifted in the sea, where the northern wind continuously carried them southward. None of them knew exactly where they are, but since the sun kept rising from the left, sets on the right, the North Star always behind them, and the raft kept moving. They knew that the mainland is closer with each passing day. Afraid that they might run into icebergs, Zhang CuiShan had only a small portion of the sail up. Although this made the journey longer, but also made it much safer. They still rarely bump into icebergs, but always just a light graze, before slipping away. After they left the region of icebergs, the sails went up fully.

The wind direction never changed. And thankfully, they encountered no storms. Everyone was optimistic about reaching the mainland. Not wishing to make WuJi upset, Zhang and Yin never brought up Xie Xun.

Zhang CuiShan thought, “It’s uncertain just how useful big brother’s teachings are. So when WuJi returns, he still must enter the Wu Dang Sect.” With nothing to do on the raft, Zhang CuiShan began to teach his son basic Wu Dang martial arts. He taught in a much more detailed manner than Xie Xun, and rudimentary Wu Dang martial arts are quite simple. WuJi learned them quickly. For much of the journey, father and son spent their time on the raft practicing techniques.

When Yin SuSu saw the wind continuously blowing southward, she couldn’t help but say, “Big brother’s knowledge of nature is also incredible. He certainly is a genius.”

WuJi suddenly said, “If the wind blows southward half the year, and northward half the year, then we can go back to visit godfather next year.” Zhang CuiShan said happily, “You are right. When you grow up, let’s go back north together…”

Yin SuSu suddenly pointed southward and yelled, “What’s that?” Only to see two black dots in the distance. Zhang CuiShan gasped. He said, “Could they be whales? If they ram into the raft, we’re goners.” Yin SuSu stared for a while, then said, “Not whales. I didn’t see water coming out.” The three of them stared at the dots intently. More than hours later, Zhang CuiShan suddenly yelled, “They’re boats! Boats!” He immediately stood up, and did a cartwheel on the raft. After WuJi was born, Zhang CuiShan had never acted so silly like this. WuJi laughed out loud, and did two flips himself. After another couple of hours, they saw the boats clearly. Yin SuSu’s body suddenly trembled, and her face turned pale. WuJi asked, “Mother, what’s going on?” Yin SuSu’s mouth moved, but did not speak aloud. Zhang CuiShan grabbed her hand, his face filled with concern. Yin SuSu sighed and said, “What a coincidence, just when we came back.” Zhang CuiShan asked, “What do you mean?” Yin SuSu said, “Look at that mast.”

Zhang CuiShan looked at the ships closely. Only to see a large, black eagle drawn on the left ship’s mast. He suddenly remembered the Heavenly Eagle Sect’s flag on Wang Pan Island, and said, “Is it… the Heavenly Eagle Sect?” Yin SuSu whispered, “Yes. It’s my dad’s ship.”

In this instant, thousands of thoughts passed through Zhang CuiShan’s mind. “SuSu’s father is the leader of the Heavenly Eagle Sect. This sect does so many evil deeds. What should I do upon seeing my father-in-law? What would my master think of my marriage?” He felt Yin SuSu’s hands shake, realized that she must also be pondering a lot things at this instant. He said, “SuSu, look at how old our son is already. ‘In Heaven or Hell, never to part’. What are you afraid of?” Yin SuSu let out a long sigh, smiled, and whispered, “Hopefully there won’t be any problems on my behalf. Just do what’s best for WuJi.”

WuJi has never seen a boat before. He stared at them curiosity, and didn’t hear his parents’ words.

As the raft drifted closer, they saw that the two boats are next to each other, as if they’re together. Unless they changed their course, the raft would pass about thirty meters to the right of the boats.

Zhang CuiShan said, “Do you want hail them. Maybe we can find out about your dad.” Yin SuSu said, “No. Let’s get back to the mainland first. Then I’ll take you and WuJi to see my dad.” Zhang CuiShan said, “That’s fine too.” Suddenly, swords glittered on the boats, as four or five people were fighting. So he added, “There’s fighting on the ships.” Yin SuSu looked for a while, and was concerned. She said, “I wonder if my dad’s there.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Since we’re here, we might as well take a look.” He changed the raft’s direction, so it now drifted towards the ships.

o0o

The raft drifted very slowly, so it still took them a long time to get close.

Suddenly, someone on the Heavenly Eagle Sect’s boat yelled, “We’re just doing normal business here. Outsiders should mind their own business.” Yin SuSu yelled, “Sun and Moon shines down, Heavenly Eagle spreads its wings, Holy fire rises up, Brings blessings down to us. I am a Hall Leader. May I ask which branch is burning incense and lighting fire?” A man on the boat immediately said courteously, “On this boat are Heavenly City Hall’s Leader Li, leading Green Dragon Branch’s Leader Cheng and Divine Snake Branch’s Leader Feng. Is the Heaven’s Secret Hall’s Leader Yin here?” Yin SuSu said, “I am Purple Secret Hall’s leader.”

The people on the boat became chaotic upon hearing these words. Soon, many people shouted, “Hey, Miss Yin’s back, Miss Yin’s back.”

Although Zhang CuiShan married Yin SuSu for ten years, she had never talked about the Heavenly Eagle Sect. Only now did he realize that she is Purple Secret Hall’s hall leader. Looks like a ‘hall leader’ is more powerful than a ‘branch leader’. He already saw the abilities of branch leaders Bai and Chang, and knew their skills to be above Yin SuSu’s. He figured that she’s only hall leader because her father is the sect leader. Zhang CuiShan also reckoned that this ‘Heavenly City Hall’ Hall Leader Li must be a powerful person.

Only to hear an old voice say, “Looks like my sect leader’s daughter have come back. Why don’t we call a truce for now?” Another loud, crisp voice said, “Fine! Everyone stop fighting.” The sounds of weapons clashing immediately stopped, and the combatants backed off. Zhang CuiShan thought that crisp voice sounded familiar. He yelled, “Are you Brother Yu LianZhou?” That person on the boat yelled, “I am indeed Yu LianZhou. Who… oh… you… you…” Zhang CuiShan said, “Your little brother Zhang CuiShan!” The raft is still several tens of meters from the boats. But in his excitement, Zhang CuiShan picked up a wood from the raft, threw it into the water, and used it to jump onto the boat.

Yu LianZhou quickly came to greet him. After ten years of separation, with Zhang CuiShan’s fate unknown, one could expect their exhilaration upon being reunited. Their four hands grasped each other. One yelled, “Second brother!” One yelled, “Fifth brother!” Their eyes filled with tears, as no more words could come out.

Meanwhile, the Heavenly Eagle Sect held their welcome celebration for Yin SuSu. Eight horns blew loudly in the back, while Hall Leader Li stood in the front. The two branch leaders, Feng and Cheng, stood directly behind him, with the others further back. They now prepared some boards to connect onto the raft, with several people holding on to them using long hooks. Yin SuSu and WuJi jumped onto the boat.

The Heavenly Eagle Sect divides into three inner halls and five outer branches. Each division has their own people. The three inner halls divide into Heaven’s Secret, Purple Secret, and Heavenly City halls. The five outer branches divide into Green Dragon, White Tiger, Black Valiant, Red Sparrow, and Divine Serpent branches. Yin TianZheng’s eldest son, Yin YeWang, heads the Heaven’s Secret Hall. Yin SuSu heads the Purple Secret Hall. Yin TianZheng’s little martial brother Li TianYuan heads the Heavenly City Hall.

Seeing Yin SuSu dressed in such strange clothing, holding a kid with her, Li TianYuan froze for a moment. Then a smile came to his face, as he said, “Thank heavens you’ve come back. You have no idea how worried your father had been these ten years.”

Yin SuSu got on her knees and bowed, said, “Nice to see you, martial uncle.” Then she said to WuJi, “Hurry and kowtow to your martial granduncle.” WuJi quickly got on his knees and kowtowed several times. Meanwhile, his eyes stared at Li TianYuan, quite curious to see all these people on the boat.

Yin SuSu got back up and said, “Martial uncle, this is your niece’s son. He’s called WuJi.”

Li TianYuan stuttered a bit, and then started to laugh loudly, said, “Great! Great! Your father will be so delighted. Not only is his daughter back, but he also gained such a handsome little grandson.”

Yin SuSu saw several dead people on the deck, and asked quietly, “Who are we fighting? What’s the reason?” Li TianYuan said, “They are members of Wu Dang and Kun Lun sects.” When Yin SuSu heard her husband yell ‘Brother Yu’, and then met up with someone on the other boat, she knew Wu Dang’s involved. So she said, “Try to resolve this peacefully if possible.”

Li TianYuan said, “Yes.” Although he’s the martial uncle, his hall ranks below Yin SuSu’s. Hence, on official sect matters, Yin SuSu has power over him.

Only to hear Zhang CuiShan yell, “SuSu, WuJi, come see my martial brother.” Yin SuSu grabbed WuJi’s hand, and walked over to the other boat. Li TianYuan was afraid for her safety, and followed.

Only to see eight people on the other boat. A tall, skinny man of about forty is holding hands with Zhang CuiShan, showing a close relationship. Zhang CuiShan said, “SuSu, this is second brother Yu I always tell you about. Second brother, this is your sister-in-law and your nephew WuJi.” Yu LianZhou and Li TianYuan were incredibly shocked to hear these words. The Heavenly Eagle Sect and Wu Dang are in the midst of fighting, yet an important person from each sect is actually a couple. Not only that, they even have a child.

Yu LianZhou knew that it’s impossible to tell the whole story at this time. So he went ahead and introduced everyone first. He introduced a short, chubby Taoist with a yellow hat as Kun Lun’s XiHua Zi. A middle-aged woman is XiHua Zi’s martial sister, Wei SiNiang*. People in the martial world call her ‘Lightning Madame’ behind her back. Both Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu had heard of these two people. The others are also expert swordsman from Kun Lun Sect, but not as famous as XiHua Zi and Wei SiNiang. Although XiHua Zi’s fairly old, he seemed to lack manners. His first words were, “Fifth Hero Zhang, where’s that bastard Xie Xun? You should know, right?”

Note* ‘Si’ means ‘four’. ‘Niang’ means ‘Madame’, except it’s not as formal. So SiNiang is not her given name.

Zhang CuiShan hasn’t even set foot on the mainland, and already two huge dilemmas are presented to him. First, Wu Dang and the Heavenly Eagle Sect are enemies. Second, people are already asking about Xie Xun. He didn’t know how to respond, and asked Yu LianZhou, “Second brother, what’s going on here?”

When Zhang CuiShan didn’t respond to his question, XiHua Zi became furious. He yelled, “Did you hear my question? Where’s Xie Xun?” He ranks quite high in the Kun Lun Sect, and has very good kung fu. So XiHua Zi is used to ordering people around.

Two of Branch Leader Feng’s men just died in XiHua Zi’s hands. So he’s already angry with XiHua Zi, said coldly, “Fifth Hero Zhang is my sect leader’s son-in-law. You might want to watch your mouth when speaking.” XiHua Zi yelled, “How could a demonic woman of an evil sect be married to a member of a righteous sect? There must be something suspicious behind it.” Branch Leader Feng chuckled, said, “Sect Leader Yin already has a grandson, and yet you still spew this sort of crap?” XiHua Zi yelled, “This demonic woman…”

Wei SiNiang knew of Branch Leader Feng’s intentions. He wanted to separate the bond between Kun Lun and Wu Dang. At the same time, he also gets to please Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu. Things can only get worse should XiHua Zi keep talking. So she quickly cut in, “Martial brother, no need to waste time arguing. Let’s hear what Second Hero Yu has to say.”

Yu LianZhou looked at Zhang CuiShan, then at Yin SuSu. He didn’t know what to think either, and therefore said, “Let’s get into the cabin to discuss this matter. Also, we can use this time to heal the injured.”

On this boat, the Heavenly Eagle Sect is guest. And the highest ranked member of the Heavenly Eagle Sect is Yin SuSu. She entered the cabin first with WuJi, with Li TianYuan following.

When Branch Leader Feng entered the cabin, he felt a strong wind coming towards his waist. Branch Leader Feng is very experienced, knew immediately that XiHua Zi ambushed him. Instead of blocking, he simply dashed forward, while yelling, “Huh? Are you attacking me?” He evaded XiHua Zi’s ‘Triple Lunar Hand’, and with the yell turned all attention towards them.

Wei SiNiang glared at XiHua Zi, only to see his face all red. It was agreed that the Heavenly Eagle Sect members are guests on this boat. So XiHua Zi’s actions, especially as a member of a righteous sect, is quite shameful. Everyone sat down in the cabin, separating into two groups, guests and hosts.

Yin SuSu is the head of the guests, and sat in the front with WuJi. On the host side, Yu LianZhou led the group. He asked Wei SiNiang to bring an extra chair, then said, “Fifth brother, sit here.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Yes” and sat down.

This separated Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu, and put them into two different camps.

For the past ten years, Yu DaiYan never left due to his injury. Zhang CuiShan disappeared, his fate unknown. Yet the remaining five heroes became even more famous. Although Song YuanQiao and Yu LianZhou are second-generation disciples, their position in the martial world rivals even the reverends at Shaolin. Therefore, out of respect for the Five Heroes of Wu Dang, the Kun Lun participants offered Yu LianZhou the front seat.

Yu LianZhou thought, “Looks like during the ten years fifth brother disappeared, he married Heavenly Eagle Sect’s Leader Yin’s daughter. I’m sure there are a lot of details involved. He might not want to disclose everything to the public.” So he said, “Including Shaolin, Kun Lun, E Mei, Kong Dong, Wu Dang five major sects, Divine Fist, Five Winded Saber, and seven other minor sects, Sea Sand, Huge Whale, and five other clans, a total of twenty-one groups wanted to find the location of ‘Golden-Haired Lion King’ Xie Xun, Heavenly Eagle Sect’s Miss Yin, and my own sect’s martial brother Zhang CuiShan. We had some misunderstanding with the Heavenly Eagle Sect in the process, and ended up as enemies. This had been going on for ten years now…” He paused for a moment, then added, “Thankfully, Miss Yin and Brother Zhang both have appeared, so we can clear up our misunderstanding. However, it will take a long time to discuss the details. So I propose that we return to land first. Let Miss Yin first see her sect leader, my martial brother see his master, and then have everyone meet to discuss things peacefully. Hopefully, we can then resolve this issue…”

XiHua Zi suddenly cut in, “Where is that bastard Xie Xun? We want the location of that bastard.”

Zhang CuiShan felt uneasy after hearing about all these conflicts, knowing that he’s partially responsible for them. He also didn’t know how to respond to XiHua Zi’s question. If he tells the truth, countless people will go to Fire- Ice Island for revenge. But to not say anything would bring about suspicions on his family. Yin SuSu suddenly said, “The vicious, murderous Xie Xun died nine years ago.”

Yu LianZhou, XiHua Zi, Wei SiNiang, and everyone else all let out a gasp, “Xie Xun’s dead?”

Yin SuSu said, “That day I was giving birth. Xie Xun’s insanity acted up. Just as he was about to kill fifth brother and I, my son began to cry. This murderous, vicious Xie Xun developed a heart problem, and died. Zhang CuiShan realized what Yin SuSu’s trying to say. She didn’t lie, as the ‘vicious, murderous’ Xie Xun did indeed ‘die’ that day. The ‘good’ Xie Xun remained.

XiHua Zi let out a humph. Since Yin SuSu’s a demonic woman in his mind, her words could not be trusted. He asked loudly, “Fifth Hero Zhang, is Xie Xun really dead?”

Zhang CuiShan said, “Yes, that murderous Xie Xun really did die that day.”

WuJi heard the whole conversation and was quite upset. Although he’s very intelligent, WuJi doesn’t know anything about the ways of the world. Xie Xun treated him like his own son, yet these people are cursing him, and even his own parents say that he’s dead. WuJi couldn’t help but cry out, “Godfather’s not vicious. He’s not dead.” These words stunned everyone in the cabin.

In her rage, Yin SuSu slapped WuJi across the face, yelled, “Close your mouth!” WuJi cried, “Mom, why do you say that godfather’s dead? Isn’t he still alive?” He’s only lived with three other people all his life, and had never touched upon the evils of the society. Even a boy of average intelligence, growing up in the martial world, would know that lying is normal, and not make such a huge blunder. Yin SuSu scolded, “When adults are talking, a child should not cut in. We are talking about that vicious, murderous Xie Xun, not your godfather.” WuJi didn’t understand, but stopped speaking nonetheless.

XiHua Zie laughed coldly, said, “Little brother, Xie Xun’s your godfather, right? Where is he?”

WuJi saw the grave expressions on his parents’ face, and knew that they are in a middle of an important discussion. When XiHua Zi asked his question, he shook his head, and said, “I won’t tell you.” The words “I won’t tell you” further proved that Xie Xun is still alive.

XiHua Zi stared at Zhang CuiShan and said, “Fifth Hero Zhang, is this Miss Yin really your wife?” Zhang CuiShan didn’t expect such question, and said, “Yes. She is my wife.” XiHua Zia said, “Your wife injured two disciples of my Kun Lun Sect. They’ve now become half-dead, half-retarded people. How do we resolve this issue?”

Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu both gasped. Yin SuSu yelled, “That is nonsense!” Zhang CuiShan said, “There must be some misunderstanding here. My wife and I have been away from the mainland for ten years now. How could we have injured your sect’s disciples? XiHua Zi said, “Then what about ten years ago? It’s been ten years since Gao ZeCheng and Jiang Tao were injured.” Yin SuSu said, “Gao ZeCheng and Jiang Tao?” XiHua Zi said, “Does Mrs. Zhang still remember them? Perhaps you’ve killed too many people in your life, and couldn’t remember all of them.” Yin SuSu said, “What happened to them? Why do you accuse me for their deaths?”

XiHua Zi let out a laugh, then said, “Accuse you? Ha! Although Gao and Jiang are now retarded, they still remember one thing, and could say one name, to tell us who injured them. That name is “Yin… Su… Su…” He said this in a very venomous tone, as if he’d kill Yin SuSu immediately if given the chance.

Branch Leader Feng suddenly cut in, “How can you, an old Taoist, speak the given name of my sect’s hall leader? You don’t even adhere to your own Taoist rules, yet still pretend to be some elder in the martial world? Brother Cheng, do you think there’s anything more despicable than this?” Branch Leader Cheng said, “No. It’s a shame that a righteous sect could teach such an undisciplined disciple.”

XiHua Zi yelled madly, “Are you talking about me? You dare ridicule me?”

Branch Leader Feng didn’t even bother to look at him. He said, “Brother Cheng, even if someone learns some simple sword techniques, he should still speak like a human, right?” Branch Leader Cheng said, “After the passing of Taoist Ling Bao, Kun Lun Sect has become worse and worse with each generation.”

Taoist Ling Bao is XiHua Zi’s martial grandfather, very respected in the martial world. XiHua Zi knew he needed to choose his answer carefully. Otherwise, he might end up saying that he’s more respected than the venerable martial grandfather. XiHua Zi quickly stepped to the cabin entrance. Swoosh, his sword came out, and yelled, “Evil sect’s demons. If you got the guts, come out and fight!”

Branch Leaders Feng and Cheng purposely enraged XiHua Zi to help out Yin SuSu. They thought that since Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu are now married, Wu Dang would surely no longer be their enemy. Even if they don’t help the Heavenly Eagle Sect, Yu LianZhou and Zhang CuiShan would at least stay neutral. The Heavenly Eagle Sect can easily take care of these Kun Lun folks.

Wei SiNiang frowned. She also knew that there was no way the Kun Lun disciples here alone could defeat the Heavenly Eagle Sect. Besides, Zhang CuiShan could easily fight on the other side. She said, “Martial brother, don’t be so rash. They are our guests. Let’s follow Second Hero Yu’s orders.” She purposely brought up Yu LianZhou, thinking that considering Yu LianZhou’s fame, he would certainly stay on their side. But XiHua Zi did not understand her intentions, and yelled, “Wu Dang and the Heavenly Eagle Sect are now relatives by marriage. He’s on their side now, so why should I listen to him?”

Yu LianZhou rarely displays any expression on his face. And upon hearing XiHua Zi’s word, he simply remained silent.

Wei SiNiang said in a hurry, “Martial brother, how can you say such a thing? Wu Dang and Kun Lun had been working together for the past ten years. Who doesn’t respect and know the fame of Second Hero Yu? We can trust Wu Dang’s Five Heroes to be objective.” XiHua Zi let out a humph, said, “I wouldn’t be so sure!” Wei SiNiang screamed madly inside at XiHua Zi, for being such a fool. She said, “Martial brother. Why do you insist on offending the Wu Dang’s Five Heroes? Don’t blame me if master reprimand you for this.” She kept on saying ‘Wu Dang’s Five Heroes’, obviously excluding Zhang CuiShan. XiHua Zi really did stop yelling upon hearing about his master. Yu LianZhou said calmly, “This issue concerns most of the major sects and clans in the martial world. Surely I cannot make a major decision alone. Since we’ve waited for ten years already, another year or two won’t matter. I’ll take my martial brother back to Wu Dang, so my master can decide on what to do.”

XiHua Zi said with a smirk, “What a great defensive ‘Close Off by Enveloping’ by Second Hero Yu.”

Yu LianZhou almost never gets mad. But this ‘Lock Away by Enveloping’ is a famous protective Wu Dang technique. To speak of it in such a manner meant ridiculing his master. But then Yu LianZhou thought, “I can’t be too rash on handling this matter, or the results might be disastrous. No need to argue with this wild Taoist.”

After speaking, XiHua Zi saw Yu LianZhou’s eyes glowed like lightning for a moment, and shuddered. XiHua Zi thought, “My master and sect leader martial uncle are the two best fighters of Kun Lun. Yet the expression in their eyes could not match the deadliness of this person.” Yu LianZhou’s expression calmed, and said, “If brother XiHua has a good suggestion, I’d like to hear it.” XiHua Zi turned to Wei SiNiang and said, “Martial sister, what do you think? Should we just forget about Gao and Jiang?”

Before Wei SiNiang could respond, sound of horn came from outside. A Kun Lun disciple came in and said, “E Mei and Kong Dong sects are here.” XiHua Zi and Wei SiNiang were overjoyed. Wei SiNiang said, “Second Hero Yu, why don’t we hear what Kong Dong and E Mei has to say?” Yu LianZhou said, “Fine.”

Li TianYuan and Branch Leader Cheng glanced at each other. Both frowned.

Zhang CuiShan became more troubled. He didn’t mind E Mei too much, but Xie Xun is Kong Dong Sect’s major enemy. He had once injured three elders of Kong Dong, plus stole their . No wonder Kong Dong Sect wanted Xie Xun’s location.” Yin SuSu contemplated about the same things. She thought that everything would be easier had WuJi not interfered. But since WuJi had never lied before, and loved his godfather dearly, his reaction was perfectly normal. Upon seeing his red cheek from her slap, Yin SuSu felt bad for being so harsh. She embraced him in her arms. WuJi is still quite scared. He whispered into his mother’s ear, “Mom, godfather’s not dead, right?” Yin SuSu whispered into his ear, “Of course not. Your mother was lying to them. These are all bad people. They want to hurt your godfather.” WuJi immediately realized what’s going on. He glared at everyone in front of him, and thought, “Oh, so you are all bad people. You want to hurt my godfather.”

From this day on, Zhang WuJi truly entered the martial world. He began to realize just how devious humans could be. He also knew that although his mother slapped him, the real culprits are these people in front of him. Living under the love of his family, he had never really understood the concept of a ‘bad person’. Even though Xie Xun told him about Cheng Kun, the idea still never really registered in his mind until now, when he’s actually facing one.

End of Chapter 8. 
@Chapter 9 - Eternal Delight as the Seven Heroes Reunited
After a long time, Kong Dong and E Mei each had six, seven people enter the cabin. They greeted Yu LianZhou, XiHua Zi, and Wei SiNiang. The Kong Dong group is headed by an old, skinny man. The E Mei group is headed by a middle-aged nun. These two groups were quite surprised to see the Heavenly Eagle Sect people here.

XiHua Zi said loudly, “Hello, venerable Jing Xu, Third Master Tang. Unfortunately, Wu Dang and Heavenly Eagle Sect have joined forces.” That short, old man is called Tang WenLiang, one of the ‘Five Elders of Kong Dong’. The middle-aged nun, Jing Xu, is E Mei fourth generation’s eldest disciple. Both are renowned experts in the martial world. They couldn’t believe what XiHua Zi just said. Jing Xu is a very careful person, knew about XiHua Zi’s bad temper, and didn’t say anything. However, Tang WenLiang’s eyes immediately glared at Yu LianZhou. He said, “Is this true, Second Hero Yu?”

Before Yu LianZhou could respond, XiHua Zi cut in, “Wu Dang and Heavenly Eagle Sect are now relatives through marriage. Zhang CuiShan is Yin TianZheng’s son-in-law…” Tang WenLiang said with surprise, “You’ve found the Zhang CuiShan who had disappeared for ten years now?”

Yu LianZhou pointed at Zhang CuiShan and said, “This is my fifth martial brother, Zhang CuiShan. Fifth brother, this is an elder of Kong Dong Sect, Third Master Tang WenLiang.” XiHua Zi added, “Zhang CuiShan and his wife know ‘Golden-Haired Lion King’ Xie Xun’s location. Yet instead of saying it, they chose to make up a huge lie.”

Tang WenLiang’s turned incredibly angry upon hearing Xie Xun’s name, and yelled, “Where is he?” Zhang CuiShan said, “I must consult with my master on this matter first. So I’m sorry to withhold this information for now.” Tang WenLiang yelled furiously, “Where is this bastard Xie Xun? He killed my nephew. There’s no way I can coexist with him in the same world. Are you going to tell me his location or not?” He spoke in such a deafening voice, without a hint of courtesy.

Yin SuSu said coldly, “You’re just one of the older guys in the Kong Dong Sect. What right do you have to question Fifth Hero Zhang this way? Are you the Martial World’s most venerable? Are you the Head of Wu Dang, Taoist Zhang?”

In his rage, Tang WenLiang was about to attack Yin SuSu. But he held back at the last moment. Yin SuSu was simply a young woman. It would be very rude for an elder like him to attack her in such a manner. So he asked Zhang CuiShan, “Who is she?”

Zhang CuiShan said, “She is my wife.” XiHua Zi added, “And also the daughter of Heavenly Eagle Sect’s Leader Yin. Humph, just a wretched demonic lady of an evil sect.” ‘White-Browed Eagle King’ Yin TianZheng’s kung fu is quite incredible. No one who fought him had lasted more than ten exchanges. So when Tang WenLiang heard that she’s Yin TianZheng’s daughter, he hesitated to speak further, and said, “Good! Good! Absolutely marvelous!”

Jing Xu had been silent ever since entering the room. She chose to speak up at this moment, “Can Second Hero Yu tells us the story behind all this?” Yu LianZhou said, “This is indeed a long story, as it covered events over a ten- year period. How about this, Wu Dang will host a gathering at Wu Chang city’s Yellow Crane Restaurant. We will welcome all heroes who wish to attend. There, the entire story will be told, and we can resolve this issue. Is this ok with everyone here?” Jing Xu nodded, said, “This is fine with me.”

Tang WenLiang said, “We can wait to hear the story three months later. But as for Xie Xun’s location, I’d like to know now, Fifth Hero Zhang.” Zhang CuiShan shook his head, said, “I’m afraid I cannot tell you right now.” Although he didn’t like the response, Tang WenLiang knew he couldn’t offend Wu Dang and Heavenly Eagle Sects. Besides, there’s no way Zhang CuiShan can withhold the truth in three months. Without further words, he stood up, waved at his constituents, and said, “Let’s meet in three months. Goodbye.”

XiHua Zi said, “Third Master Tang, can we hitch a ride back on your boat?” Tang WenLiang said, “Sure.” XiHua Zi said to Wei SiNiang, “Martial Sister, let’s go!” He came here on the same boat as Yu LianZhou, so this act clearly showed enmity towards Wu Dang. Yu LianZhou did not make a comment, and courteously showed them off the boat. Then he said, “After reporting to our master, we shall send out invitation letters to everyone.”

Yin SuSu suddenly said, “Taoist XiHua, I wish to ask you something.” XiHua Zi turned his head, said, “What?” Yin SuSu said, “You said that I was a demonic woman of an evil sect. But how am I ‘demonic’ and ‘evil’?” XiHua Zi froze for a moment, then said, “You’re a devilish fox who belongs to an infamous evil sect. What’s more to say? Otherwise, why would a righteous Fifth Hero Zhang fall for you?” Yin SuSu said, “Thank you for your explanation.”

XiHua Zi was surprised that Yin SuSu did not try to rebut. Hearing no further words, he walked over to Kong Dong Sect’s boats on the plank.

Even thought the boats are next to each other, it still takes a seven-meter plank to connect the two. By answering Yin SuSu’s questions, XiHua Zi walked across last. Just as he walked toward the middle of the plank, sound of wind came from behind, followed by a scraping noise. Despite his temper, XiHua Zi’s kung fu is quite formidable, and certainly very experienced. Thinking that someone attacked from behind, he quickly drew his sword. At this moment, he felt the plank giving away below his feet, as it was cut in two. He tried to jump up, but as he was right in between two boats, there was nothing to hang on to. With only the deep, blue sea under him, Splash! XiHua Zi fell into the water.

XiHua Zi didn’t know how to swim, and immediately swallowed a large amount of water. His hands waved like mad, when suddenly the hands found a rope. In his joy, XiHua Zi held on to the rope tightly, only to feel a person pulling him up. XiHua Zi looked up, and saw that the person pulling him is actually Branch Leader Cheng, who looked at him in a smug expression.

Yin SuSu really despised XiHua Zi’s rudeness, and made this trap for him. Branch Leader Feng’s thirty-six flying daggers are renowned in the martial world. He’s both fast and accurate. Each dagger was exquisitely made by the best blacksmiths with the best materials. Thin as a feather, astonishingly sharp, so should his opponent try to block with a weapon, that weapon usually breaks in half. When Branch Leader Feng used the dagger cut off the plank, it split apart easily. Branch Leader Cheng prepared a rope at the same time. After XiHua Zi had drunk some seawater, he pulled XiHua Zi up.

When Wei SiNiang, Tang WenLiang, and others saw XiHua Zi drop into the sea, they knew it was a trap. But Branch Leader Feng was too quick, and they had all been looking the other way. So no one knew exactly what had happened.

As Branch Leader Cheng pulled him up, XiHua Zi held back his anger. He waited to get on the deck first to attack these people. However, after pulling him up a bit above the water, Branch Leader Cheng stopped. He yelled, “Old Taoist, don’t move. I’m not all that strong. If you move and I can’t hold on, I’d have to release the rope.” XiHua Zi didn’t want this person to throw himself back into the water again. So he held on to the rope tightly.

Branch Leader Cheng yelled, “Be careful!” He then swung the rope, XiHua Zi’s body flew back over twenty meters, then this momentum was used to send him over to the other boat.

XiHua Zi let go of the rope, and landed on the boat’s deck. His had just lost his sword to the sea, and was about to go berserk. Only to hear thunderous laughter coming from the Heavenly Eagle Sect’s boat. XiHua Zi quickly grabbed Wei SiNiang’s sword and was about to go duel with them. But then realized that the two boats are too far apart now. So other than cursing loudly, he couldn’t do anything else.

Yu LianZhou saw exactly how Yin SuSu ridiculed XiHua Zi. He felt that this woman is quite cruel, not a good match for fifth brother, and then said, “Hall leaders Yin and Li. Please tell your sect leader that should he have time, we welcome him to the Yellow Crane Restaurant gathering. Now let us part. Fifth brother, are you coming with me to see master?” Zhang CuiShan said, “Yes.”

Yin SuSu knew that Yu LianZhou wanted to separate her and Zhang CuiShan. She looked up at the sky, then down on the deck.

Zhang CuiShan knew what she meant, ‘On Heaven or in Hell, never to part’. So he said, “Second brother, how about I take your sister-in-law and nephew to see our master. Then, with his permission, we would then go see my father-in-law. Is that alright?” Yu LianZhou hesitated, but knew that he can’t truly separate this family of three, and nodded.

Joyous at his approval, Yin SuSu turned to Li TianYuan, said, “Martial uncle, please send these words to my dad. Tell him his daughter can’t visit him right now. I will go back home as soon as I can.”

Li TianYuan said, “That’s fine, I’ll wait surely wait for you. He then stood up, and waved goodbye to Yu LianZhou.

Yin SuSu asked, “How is my father’s health?” Li TianYuan said, “Excellent! He’s more energetic than ever.” Yin SuSu then asked, “How is my brother?” Li TianYuan said, “Also excellent! His kung fu has accelerated greatly these past years. Not even this martial uncle is his match now. Pretty ashamed of myself, really.” Yin SuSu smiled, and said, “Oh, you’re just joking with me.” Li TianYuan said seriously, “Actually, I’m not kidding. Even your father’s said that his son would soon surpass himself. Don’t you think that’s amazing?” Yin SuSu said, “Oh, I can’t believe you’re gloating like this in front of outsiders. You’re not afraid that Second Hero Yu would laugh at you?” Li TianYuan said with a smile, “Fifth Hero Zhang is now our leader’s son-in-law. How could Second Hero Yu be an outsider?” As he spoke, Li TianYuan bowed with his fists together, and walked out the cabin. Yu LianZhou felt quite annoyed upon hearing these last words. He raised his eyebrows, but did not speak.

o0o

After the people from the Heavenly Eagle Sect had left, Zhang CuiShan asked in a hurry, “Second brother, what happened to third brother afterwards? Did he…recover?” Yu LianZhou sighed, but did not respond for a long time. Zhang CuiShan waited in suspense. He kept examining Yu LianZhou, afraid that he’d say the word ‘died’.

Yu LianZhou then said, “Third brother’s still alive. But quite frankly, he’s not much different from a dead person. His whole body’s permanently crippled. There is no longer a Third Hero Yu in the martial world now.”

Zhang CuiShan was happy that Yu DaiYan was alive, but cried at third brother’s crippled condition. He then asked, “Have you found out who injured my third brother?”

Yu LianZhou didn’t respond. Instead he turned toward Yin SuSu. His eyes glared like lightning, and asked, “Miss Yin, do you know who injured my third brother?” Yin SuSu shuddered and said, “I heard his joints were broken by Shaolin’s Golden-Steel Finger.” Yu LianZhou said, “That’s correct. Do you know who did it?” Yin SuSu shook her head, said, “I don’t know.”

Yu LianZhou then ignored her, and said to Zhang CuiShan, “Fifth brother, Shaolin said that you killed everyone in the Dragon Gate Escort Agency, including servants and relatives. Plus you killed several Shaolin monks. Is this true?”

Zhang CuiShan said, “Well…” Yin SuSu cut in, “This doesn’t concern him. I killed all of them.”

Yu LianZhou glanced at her, with eyes full of hatred. But after an instant, his expression quickly returned to normal, then said, “I knew fifth brother would never kill mindlessly like that. Because of this matter, Shaolin came to Wu Dang Mountain three times. But since everyone knew fifth brother disappeared, they can’t really do anything. We kept saying that Shaolin injured third brother. They kept saying that fifth brother murdered all those people. Thankfully, the Shaolin Abbot Kong Wen is a cautious person, and quite respectful of our master. He told his disciples not to view us as enemies. So we never had any open conflicts with Shaolin these ten years.”

Yin SuSu said, “This is all due to the mistakes of my younger days. But since I’ve already killed them, let’s just not tell them the truth. They can’t figure it out anyway.”

Yu LianZhou showed an astonished expression, and glanced at Zhang CuiShan. He thought, “How could you marry a woman like this?”

Yin SuSu saw Yu LianZhou’s cold expression toward her, including calling her ‘Miss Yin’ rather than ‘sister-in-law’. Frustrated, she said, “I will take responsibility for my own actions. Don’t worry, Wu Dang will not get dragged into this. If Shaolin wants revenge, then they can seek my Heavenly Eagle Sect.”

Yu LianZhou said, “Nothing in the martial world is above the word ‘reason’. Even if we’re not dealing with the powerful Shaolin, but rather a lowly farmer, one still cannot be unreasonable.”

If this had been ten years ago, Yin SuSu would’ve drawn her sword in anger. But she heard Zhang CuiShan say, “Second brother’s words are quite right,” and thought, “Do you think I really care about your righteous crap? I just don’t want to burden my husband by arguing with you.” She then grabbed WuJi’s hands and walked out the deck, said, “WuJi, let me show you around this boat. You’ve never seen one, right?”

After his wife and son left the cabin, Zhang CuiShan said, “Second brother, in the past ten years, I…” Yu LianZhou held up his hand, said, “Fifth brother, you and I closer than even blood brothers. No matter what you did, I will stand by your side. As for your wife, there’s no need to explain everything. Just tell master everything when we return. Should he truly oppose this marriage, us seven brothers will get on our knees and beg him. After all, even your son’s grown up now. Surely master would not separate you and your wife.” Exhilarated at these words, Zhang CuiShan said, “Thank you, second brother.”

Yu LianZhou is cold on the outside, but warm inside. Among the seven brothers, he is the most stern and jokes the least. Although the younger brothers respect him a great deal, they also fear him much more than their eldest martial brother, Song YuanQiao. In reality, Yu LianZhou’s also incredibly caring of his brothers. When Zhang CuiShan disappeared, his heart was broken. But on the surface, he maintained the same, cold expression. Seeing his long, lost brother today is one of the happiest moments of his life. Yet he still carried that cold expression, and even scolded Yin SuSu. Only when alone with his brother, did Yu LianZhou speak his true feelings. He’s mostly afraid of one thing, Yin SuSu’s murder of those Shaolin disciples. Nonetheless, Yu LianZhou made a promise in his mind. He would protect fifth brother’s family with his life.

Zhang CuiShan then asked, “Second brother, how did we become enemies with the Heavenly Eagle Sect? Did my wife and I cause the conflict?” Yu LianZhou did not respond, instead asked, “What exactly happened on Wang Pan Island?”

Zhang CuiShan told the whole story, from going to the Dragon Gate Escort Agency, till Xie Xun forced them out to sea. Then Yu LianZhou inquired about Kun Lun’s Gao ZeCheng and Jiang Tao.

Afterwards, Yu LianZhou pondered for a long time, before saying, “So that’s what happened. If you hadn’t came back, I doubt we’d ever find the truth.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Yes, my sworn brother… Sigh. Second brother, Xie Xun really isn’t as terrible as everyone thinks. He only did so many bad things because of a terrible tragedy. Now, he is my sworn brother.” Yu LianZhou nodded, thought, “This is another troubling issue.”

Zhang CuiShan continued, “When my sworn brother howled, he turned everyone on the island insane. That way, no one could reveal his secret.” Yu LianZhou said, “Although Xie Xun’s actions are very brutal, he is, undoubtedly, a very ingenious person. However, despite his careful planning, Xie Xun forgot one person.” Zhang CuiShan asked, “Who?” Yu LianZhou said, “Bai GuiShou.”

Zhang CuiShan said, “Heavenly Eagle Sect’s Branch Leader Bai?” Yu LianZhou said, “That’s correct. You said that his internal power was the best among the people there. He fainted when Xie Xun shot him with the poisonous wine. Had he been awake, I doubt he could’ve withstood the howl…”

Zhang CuiShan said, “So that’s what happened. Bai GuiShou was still unconscious during the howl, so he kept his sanity. My sworn brother never realized this.”

Yu LianZhou sighed, said, “It seemed that only Bai GuiShou was able to make it out of Wang Pan Island unscathed. Although Kun Lun inner power is quite strong, Gao and Jiang had only rudimentary knowledge of it. They have since become mentally retarded. When others ask them who made them this way, Jiang Tao simply shook his head, while Gao ZeCheng kept repeating a single person’s name, Yin SuSu.” He paused a moment, then added, “Now I know that it’s because he couldn’t forget sister-in-law. Humph, the next time XiHua Zi utters such nonsense, I’ll certainly give him a piece of my mind. Obviously it’s the Kun Lun disciples who are unruly, yet he had to blame it on someone else.”

Zhang CuiShan said, “If Bai GuiShou was fine, then he should’ve explained everything.” Yu LianZhou said, “But he won’t say anything. Do you know why?” Zhang CuiShan thought for a moment, realized the reason, and said, “That’s right. The Heavenly Eagle Sect wants the Dragon Saber. They obviously don’t want anyone else to know about this.” Yu LianZhou said, “That’s how the conflict started. Kun Lun Sect kept saying that Yin SuSu destroyed Gao and Jiang. We thought the Heavenly Eagle Sect killed you.”

Zhang CuiShan said, “Did Bai GuiShou tell you that I went to Wang Pan Island too?” Yu LianZhou said, “No. He wouldn’t say anything. Fourth brother, sixth brother, and I went to Wang Pan Island. We saw you wrote those twenty-four characters. That’s how we knew you went to that ceremony. When we couldn’t find you on the island, we asked Bai GuiShou. He didn’t respond, and instead attacked us. I managed to injure him with my palm. Later on, Kun Lun Sect started sought the Heavenly Eagle Sect out, but lost pretty badly. Then things started to get more and more out of hand.

Zhang CuiShan was quite remorseful. He said, “I feel so awful, knowing my wife and I had caused so much problems in the martial world. After reporting to master, I’ll personally apologize to each sect.”

Yu LianZhou sighed, said, “Actually, it’s just all a coincidence, rather than your making. Remember that day ten years ago? When master asked seventh brother and I to go protect the Dragon Gate Escort Agency? On the way, we encountered an unjust situation. We just had to stop and take care of the matter. And in the process saved more than ten innocent lives. But by the time we got to Lin An, the murder at the Dragon Gate Escort Agency had already occurred. Actually, you and your wife only caused the hostilities between Wu Dang, Kun Lun against the Heavenly Eagle Sect. But since the Heavenly Eagle Sect wanted the Dragon Saber, they never brought up Xie Xun’s name. So Sea Sand Sect, Huge Whale Clan, and Divine Fist Sect all believed that the Heavenly Eagle Sect killed their leaders. As a result, the Heavenly Eagle Sect developed quite a bad reputation.”

Zhang CuiShan sighed, said, “Actually, the Dragon Saber is hardly anything remarkable. Why would my father-in-law sacrifice so much for it?”

Yu LianZhou said, “I had never seen your father-in-law. But I do respect his strong, fighting spirit, as he fought off waves of enemies.”

Zhang CuiShan said, “Shaolin, E Mei, and these other sects did not go to the Wang Pan Island ceremony. How did Heavenly Eagle Sect offend them?” Yu LianZhou said, “This concerns your sworn brother Xie Xun. In order to get the Dragon Saber, the Heavenly Eagle Sect continuously sent ships out to sea, hoping to find Xie Xun. You can’t contain a fire by wrapping it with paper. No matter how tight Bai GuiShou’s lips, the secret eventually got out. Your sworn brother committed over thirty crimes using ‘Lightning Fist of the Originating Formation’ Cheng Kun’s name. Countless people in the martial world want him dead. Do you know about this?”

Zhang CuiShan whispered, “They finally figured out that he did it.” Yu LianZhou said, “Every time he commits a crime, he’d write ‘The murderer is Lightning Fist of the Originating Formation: Cheng Kun’. At that time, we all investigated into this matter, but couldn’t find any leads. Things changed once people knew that Heavenly Eagle Sect is seeking Xie Xun. They remembered that Xie Xun is Cheng Kun’s only disciple, and that Xie Xun despised his master. Obviously, the killer framing Cheng Kun is likely Xie Xun. Think about just how many people Xie Xun killed, and how many people it affects. Just the murder of Shaolin’s Reverend Kong Jian alone, was enough to make him a very wanted person.”

Zhang CuiShan sighed, said, “My sworn brother has changed his ways. But too much blood covers his hands… Second brother, I really don’t know what to do.”

Yu LianZhou said, “Wu Dang became the Heavenly Eagle Sect’s enemy due to you. Kun Lun due to Gao and Jiang. Huge Whale Clan and others due to revenge for their leaders. In addition, countless groups and people, led by Shaolin, sought out the Heavenly Eagle Sect due to Xie Xun. In the past years, there had been five major battles, and countless minor skirmishes. The Heavenly Eagle Sect lost every single major battle, but still hung on despite everything. Your father-in-law has truly done a remarkable job. Of course, the major sects like Wu Dang and Shaolin did not attack with full force. One, we didn’t want to act rashly before finding out the truth. Two, the Heavenly Eagle Sect didn’t look to be the main culprit. This time, we got information that their Heavenly City Hall’s Hall Leader Li headed out to sea, to look for Xie Xun. So we tried to follow them. But Hall Leader Li saw us, told us to leave. Kun Lun Sect then attacked them. Had you two not been here, both sides would’ve have suffered many more casualties.”

Zhang CuiShan remained silent, while examined his second brother. Only to see his hair beginning to gray, and his face full of wrinkles. Zhang CuiShan said, “Second brother, you’ve been through a lot this past ten years. After surviving through these years, I was finally able to see you. I… I…”

Yu LianZhou saw the tears on Zhang CuiShan’s face, and said, “It’s fantastic to have the seven brothers united again. After third brother got injured, and you disappeared, everyone renamed us ‘Five Heroes of Wu Dang’. Now we can changed it back to seven heroes again…” He then thought of Yu DaiYan’s crippled condition. Even though there are seven of them again, no longer can all seven roam the martial world together. Yu LianZhou’s heart saddened upon this realization.

o0o

After sailing southward for about ten days, they arrived at the mouth of the Yangtze River. They switched to riding a riverboat, and rode up the river.

Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu changed into robes, looked no less amazing than ten years before. WuJi wore a new shirt, and a new pair of pants. He looked very cute with two pigtails tied on his head.

Yu LianZhou spent his whole life on martial arts, never married or have kids. So he was very fond of WuJi. But due to his aloofness, Yu LianZhou’s face remained cold. However, WuJi knew this cold-faced uncle is quite nice to him. When he has spare time, WuJi would ask Yu LianZhou all sorts of questions. Grown up on a deserted island, WuJi knew almost nothing about the mainland, and found everything interesting. Yu LianZhou didn’t find WuJi annoying, and often hold him up on the front of the boat, to observe the river scenery. WuJi would ask nine or ten questions, and he’d just give a short answer to one.

This day the boat arrived at the foot of the Tong Guan Mountain, in the An Hwei province. At dusk, the boat docked at a nearby town. The boatmen left the boat to go buy food. Zhang CuiShan, Yin SuSu, and Yu LianZhou stayed on the boat to chat.

WuJi played by himself at the head of the boat. He saw an old beggar on the dock, sitting on the ground and playing with a snake. A green snake rested on his head, while a black snake danced on his hands. That black snake quickly jumped onto his head and slithered its way down the man’s back. WuJi had never seen a snake on the Fire-Ice Island. So he found it very interesting. When that old beggar saw him, he smiled, and flicked his finger. That black snake suddenly jumped up, did a flip in midair, and dropped into the beggar’s chest pocket. WuJi stared intently. That old beggar gestured at him, hinting that he has more tricks should WuJi get closer.

WuJi quickly jumped off the ship toward him. The old beggar took out a sack, opened it up, and said, “There’s something really fun inside. You want to see?” WuJi said, “What’s inside?” That old beggar said, “It’s very interesting. Take a look and you’ll see.” WuJi put his head close to look, but still couldn’t see anything. He moved even closer, when that old beggar suddenly flipped his hands, covering WuJi’s head in the sack. WuJi let out an ‘Ah’, but the old man quickly covered his mouth. Afterwards, WuJi felt his whole body being lifted up.

WuJi’s scream within the sack was hardly loud. But both Yu LianZhou and Zhang CuiShan heard him. They were quite far away, sitting inside the cabin. But upon the scream, they immediately rushed out to the front of the boat. Only to see the old beggar holding WuJi.

The two was about to jump off the boat, when that old beggar yelled, “If you value the child’s life, then stay where you are.” As he spoke, he tore off a piece of WuJi’s shirt, and put that black snake next to WuJi’s skin.

By now Yin SuSu also arrived. In a hurry to save WuJi, she immediately tried to throw the silver needles. But Yu LianZhou stopped her and said, “No!” He recognized that this black snake is called ‘Shadow Star’, a very famous breed of poisonous snake. The shinier its body, the more poisonous it is. This black snake shined brightly. Its mouth opened, aimed at WuJi’s skin. Due the poison’s potency, WuJi would die immediately if bitten. Even if the old man has the antidote, it would still be too late. Yu LianZhou’s expression remained unchanged, and said, “May I ask. Why you are holding this child?” That old beggar said, “Ask your boatman to immediately lift anchor, and move the boat out at least sixteen meters. Then we can talk.” Yu LianZhou knew the old man was guarding against a rescue attempt. Should the boat leave shore, it would be much harder to rescue WuJi. But at this moment, he had no other choice. Yu LianZhou picked up the anchor-chain. With a light flip of the wrist, a sixty-some pound anchor came out of the water.

When the old beggar saw this scene, he was astonished at Yu LianZhou’s inner power, and shuddered. Zhang CuiShan picked up the barge pole, pointed at the shore, and the boat backed away from the dock. That old beggar said, “Back off a little more!” Zhang CuiShan said calmly, “Isn’t this more than sixteen meters?” That old beggar said, “After seeing Second Hero Yu’s anchor-raising talent, I’d feel safer if you back off some more.” Zhang CuiShan could only move the boat back some more.

Yu LianZhou said, “May I ask your name?” That old beggar said, “I’m a nobody in the Beggar’s Clan. There’s no need to clutter Second Hero Yu’s ears with my name.” Seeing six pouches on his chest, Yu LianZhou thought that this must be a six-pouch member within the Beggar’s Clan. That’s a fairly high rank. Why would he do something like this? Besides, the Beggar’s Clan is a righteous clan, and its leader Shi HuoLong is quite renowned. This whole thing doesn’t make sense.

Yin SuSu suddenly yelled, “Since when did Witch Mountain Clan join the Beggar’s Clan? How come I didn’t know?” That old beggar gasped, but didn’t respond. Yin SuSu added, “Old Man He, what on earth are you doing? If you hurt a single hair on my son’s body, I’ll chop your Mei ShiJian into tiny pieces!”

That old beggar trembled, said, “Miss Yin really has incredible vision, and recognize me. I am simply following Leader Mei’s orders, to welcome your son.” Yin SuSu said angrily, “Move the snake away! The nerve of you Witch Mountain Clan. You dare offend the Heavenly Eagle Sect?” Old Man He said, “I only wish an answer from Miss Yin, and will then immediately release your son afterwards.” Yin SuSu said, “What’s your question?” Old Man He said, “Leader Mei’s only son died in Xie Xun’s hands. Something I’m sure you’ve heard. Leader Mei wishes to ask Fifth Hero Zhang and Miss Yin… sorry, my mistake. I should call you Mrs. Zhang. If the two can give the location of Xie Xun, everyone in my clan will thank you.”

Yin SuSu’s eyebrows rose up, then said, “We don’t know the answer.” Old Man He said, “Then I wish you could find the answer for me. In the meantime, we’ll take good care of your son. When you’ve found Xie Xun’s location, Leader Mei will personally return your son.”

Seeing the snake slithering next to her son’s skin, Yin SuSu stirred. She wanted to give him the answer. But as she turned her head toward Zhang CuiShan, Yin SuSu saw her husband’s determined expression. After ten year of marriage, she knew that Zhang CuiShan values loyalty and honor above all else. Should she reveal Xie Xun’s location, and cause his death, their marriage could very well break apart. So at the last moment, Yin SuSu stopped herself.

Zhang CuiShan said loudly, “Fine. Then go ahead and take my son. Do I look like someone who would betray his friends? Surely you didn’t expect that from the Seven Heroes of Wu Dang.”

Old Man He froze. He figured that with WuJi in his hands, Zhang CuiShan and his wife would surely divulge Xie Xun’s location. Who’d have thought that Zhang CuiShan would not be moved at all? Unsure of his next move, Old Man He said, “Second Hero Yu, Xie Xun’s crimes can fill a whole mountain. I know Wu Dang Sect is righteous. Surely you could help me on this matter.”

Yu LianZhou said, “But first, w must seek our master’s advice. Then we plan to host a gathering at Wu Chang City’s Yellow Crane Restaurant. Leader Mai is welcome there. At this gathering, we will have an answer.”

The boat rested about twenty meters from shore. Plus Yu LianZhou said this in a natural voice, yet Old Man He could hear each word clearly. With deep respect for the man, Old Man He thought, “The Seven Heroes of Wu Dang certainly lives up to their incredible fame. How could my little Witch Mountain Clan possibly go against the likes of Wu Dang and the Heavenly Eagle Sect? Unfortunately, Leader Mei must have his revenge.” So he bowed and said, “If so, then sorry for this inconvenience. I will take care of this child for now.”

Suddenly, Yin SuSu pushed a boatman from behind, and kicked another boatman. Both of them let out a yell, and fell into the water. Yin SuSu screamed, “Oww! Fifth brother, why did you hit me?” and started to shout and jump wildly. Yu LianZhou and Zhang CuiShan both stood there stunned, not knowing what to make of her behavior. Old Man He was even more surprised, as he stared intently from afar.

It only took an instant for Yu LianZhou to realize what’s going on. Seeing Old Man He watching Yin SuSu attentively, he quickly drew out his sword, and threw it out with his inner power. The sword flew across the air. It sliced the poisonous black snake into two, and even cut off the four fingers holding the snake. At the same moment, Zhang CuiShan grabbed onto a rope hung on the ship’s mast. Pushing off with his feet on the ship, Zhang CuiShan swung toward the shore. He arrived just a bit later than Yu LianZhou’s sword. Before landing, Zhang CuiShan shifted his upper body forward, and the left palm shot out, striking Old Man He back a few meters. At the same time, his right hand grabbed onto WuJi.

Old Man He lied on the ground, unable to get back up again.

The two boatmen in the water didn’t know why Yin SuSu was enraged. They were afraid to return. Yin SuSu chuckled and said, “You can come up now. Allow me to apologize. Here’s a tael of silver each.”

o0o

They continued the journey up the river. Zhang CuiShan was in a hurry to see his master and fellow brothers. So he wanted to switch to horses upon reaching An Qing city. But Yu LianZhou said, “Fifth brother. I think its better to stay on the boat. It might take longer, but it’s certainly safer. After all, who in the martial world doesn’t want your sworn brother’s location?” Yin SuSu said, “Surely no one would dare block Second Hero Yu’s path.” Yu LianZhou said, “If we seven brothers were together, I would be confident. But with just fifth brother and myself, there are no guarantees. Besides, we don’t want to stir things up even more.” Zhang CuiShan nodded, said, “You are right, second brother.”

A few days later, they’ve arrived at the city of Wu Xue, in Hu Bei province. This night, the boatmen anchored the boat, and prepared for sleep. Yu LianZhou suddenly heard horses galloping by the shore. He looked out, only to see two riders turn around at the dock, heading back to the city. Yu LianZhou only saw the riders’ backs, but could tell that both knew kung fu. He turned and said to Zhang CuiShan, “It’s not safe to remain here. Let’s leave immediately.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Ok!” He deeply appreciated his second brother’s suggestion. The Seven Heroes of Wu Dang all have incredible kung fu, and do only righteous deeds. Generally, only people run from them, and not the other way around. In recent years, Yu LianZhou’s reputation had grown tremendously, exceeding even the likes of Kong Dong and Kun Lun leaders. He must really care for Zhang CuiShan’s family to run from these riders.

Yu LianZhou went to the head boatman, gave him three taels of silver. Then asked him to set sail immediately. Although the boatmen are tired, three taels of silver is just way too much money to pass up. The boatmen immediately pulled up the anchor, and left the dock.

The moon shined brightly in the sky, while a gentle breeze blew through the boat. WuJi had gone to sleep already. Yu LianZhou and the Zhang couple sat outside, enjoying the scenery.

Zhang CuiShan said, “Our master’s about to have his one hundredth birthday. I’m so glad that I can see this momentous event.” Yin SuSu said, “Too bad we’re in such a hurry. Otherwise, we really should have prepared a present.” Yu LianZhou said, “Sister-in-law, do you know who’s my master’s favorite disciple?” Yin SuSu said, “His favorite disciple? Obviously you, second brother-in-law.” Yu LianZhou said with a smile, “That’s a pretty insincere statement. You knew the true answer, but purposely gave the wrong one. Among us seven brothers, the one master cares for the most, is your handsome husband.” Yin SuSu heart warmed. She shook her head and said, “I don’t believe you.”

Yu LianZhou said, “We seven brothers each have our own strengths. Eldest brother has profound comprehension of the Book of Changes. He’s humble and forward thinking. Third brother’s is the best at accomplishing tasks. He never failed any job master gave him. Fourth brother is the cleverest. Sixth brother is a master of the sword. Seventh brother has been concentrating on hard techniques. Soon, he’d have the best combination of inner power and outer strength, soft and hard molded into one.” Yin SuSu said, “What about you?” Yu LianZhou said, “My aptitude is too low, and therefore lack a strong point. You could say that I practice master’s kung fu more meticulously than others.” Yin SuSu smiled and said, “You have the best kung fu among the Seven Heroes of Wu Dang. But you’re too modest to say it.”

Zhang CuiShan said, “Among us, second brother always had been the best at kung fu. Ten years apart, now I’m even further behind second brother. After missing out on ten years of teachings, I’m definitely the lowest ranked among us brothers.”

Yu LianZhou said, “But among us, only you are skilled at both kung fu and academics. Sister-in-law, I’ll let you in on a secret. Five years ago, at master’s ninety-fifth birthday, we held a banquet to celebrate. During the banquet, master suddenly frowned. He said, ‘Among my seven disciples, the one with the best comprehension, the only one who is knowledgeable in academics and in martial arts, is CuiShan. I had hoped that he would be the disciple to carry on my legacy. But alas, fate had decided otherwise. Five years of disappearance does not bode well for his fortune.’ You tell me, sister-in-law, does master like fifth brother the most?” Yin SuSu’s face brightened like a flower. Zhang CuiShan felt deep gratitude, and tears came out of his eyes.

Yu LianZhou said, “So the best present for master, quite frankly, is the safe return of fifth brother.”

At this moment, they suddenly heard horses galloping on the shore. The sound went from east to west, quite loud in the silent night, a total of four horses. The three of them glanced at each other. They knew that these riders are likely seeking them out. Although they didn’t want trouble, none of them are scared of anyone. So they simply ignored these riders.

Yu LianZhou said, “When I came down the mountain this time, master was meditating in seclusion. Hopefully, he’ll be finished by the time we get back.” Yin SuSu said, “My father once told me, he only respected two people in life. One is Leader Yang of the Ming Sect. One is your master Taoist Zhang. My dad didn’t even respect the Shaolin’s four divine reverends all that much. Considering your master’s old age and unparalleled martial arts ability, why would he still need to meditate in seclusion? Is he trying to obtain eternal life?” Yu LianZhou said, “No. Master’s studying martial arts.” Yin SuSu said in shock, “He’s martial arts ability is already unparalleled. What’s the point of further studying martial arts? Is there actually someone who’s his adversary?”

Yu LianZhou said, “Upon reaching ninety-five, master would meditate nine months out of the year. He once said, Wu Dang martial arts came mostly from a book called the . Unfortunately, master was too young, and didn’t know martial arts, when he learned it from martial grandfather Jue Yuan. Martial grandfather Jue Yuan also wasn’t purposely teaching him the scripture. He simply recited it by chance. Therefore, there’s always this gap within our school of martial arts. Supposedly, Originator Da Muo wrote this

. But according to master, this is not likely the truth. First of all, the contents of this Holy Scripture are quite different from Shaolin’s martial arts style. It resembled Taoist philosophy instead. Also, this was written in Chinese, not in Sanskrit. All the words are situated on the borders of a Sanskrit-worded . Despite Originator Da Muo’s brilliance, he’s still from another country. It’s unlikely that he’s proficient in writing Chinese. Plus, for such an important martial art scripture, why would he write within another book, rather than on separate papers by itself.”

*Note: This is the same [Jiu Yang Zhen Jing] in Athena’s translation.

**Note: Sorry, I have no clue as to what this book is.

Zhang CuiShan nodded, asked, “So how did master explain all this?”

Yu LianZhou said, “Master doesn’t know the exact story either. He figured that a Shaolin monk wrote it, but penned under Originator Da Muo’s name. Master thought, if the he memorized was not complete, why not try to create the rest? Therefore, he has spent much time developing a new type of martial arts philosophy, one different from all others in the world.”

Both Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu sighed in admiration. Yu LianZhou said, “Reverend Jue Yuan recited this in front of three people. One is master, one is Shaolin’s Reverend Wu Se, one is a young woman. She is the founder of E Mei, Heroine Guo Xiang.” Yin SuSu said, “I’ve heard my father speak of her. He said that Heroine Guo is a very significant individual. Her father is Guo Jing, Hero Guo. Her mother was Huang Rong, former leader of the Beggar’s Clan. When the city of Xiang Yang fell to the Mongols, Hero Guo and his wife both died in the city’s defense.”

Yu LianZhou said, “You are correct. Master actually met Hero Guo and his wife at the peak of Mount Hua. Every time he brings up the couple, master would praise their heroism. He says that anyone who practices martial arts should look at them as role models.” Yu LianZhou paused for a moment, then continued, “Each of the three people learned the differently. Reverend Wu Se had the strongest martial arts among the three. As the daughter of Hero Guo and Clan Leader Huang, Heroine Guo had the richest martial arts background. Master knew basically no martial arts at the time. But for this reason, he learned the scripture in its purest form. Therefore, Shaolin, E Mei, and Wu Dang each gained ‘strong’, ‘rich’ and ‘pure’ aspects of the scripture, respectively. Each sect has its own strengths, but also weaknesses.” Yin SuSu said, “This Reverend Jue Yuan must’ve had incredible martial arts skills.”

Yu LianZhou said, “No. Martial grandfather Jue Yuan did not know kung fu. He was the librarian for Shaolin’s library of scriptures. He absolutely loved book, and read every single one. He found by accident, and read it like any other scripture. As for the martial arts philosophies, he understood them, but just the inner power portion, not the techniques.” Yu LianZhou then told the story of to the couple.

Zhang CuiShan had already heard the story from master. But Yin SuSu had not, and was quite fascinated. She said, “I didn’t know E Mei and Wu Dang had such a relationship. Why didn’t this Heroine Guo marry your Master Zhang?”

Zhang CuiShan said with a smile, “Oh, don’t be ridiculous.”

Yu LianZhou said, “After parting under the Shao Bao Mountain, master and Heroine Guo never met again. Master said, Heroine Guo could not forget one person. He is the one who killed the Mongol Emperor outside Xiang Yang with a stone pellet, Condor Hero Yang Guo. Heroine Guo searched the whole world, but could not find Hero Yang. At the age of forty, she finally found enlightenment, gave up the search, and became a nun. Afterwards, she founded the E Mei Sect.”

Yin SuSu gasped, and felt pity for Guo Xiang. She glanced at Zhang CuiShan, who glanced back the same time. They both thought, “In Heaven or in Hell, we shall never be apart. Our fate is certainly much better than this Heroine Guo.”

Normally, Yu LianZhou would almost never speak. Yet after reuniting with Zhang CuiShan, he lightened up a great deal, even enjoying chats with the couple. After spending some days with Yin SuSu, he found that her nature is benign. It’s her upbringing that made her so cruel and merciless. But after ten years of marriage with Zhang CuiShan, her temper had subsided a great deal. Yu LianZhou had changed his first impression of her. In fact, he admired her straightforward tendencies, much more pleasant than those self- righteous, arrogant members of the righteous sects.

At this moment, sound of horses could be heard again. Zhang CuiShan ignored the noise, said, “Second brother, if the master welcomed Shaolin and E Mei elders to study the scripture with him, all three sects would benefit greatly.”

Yu LianZhou said, “That would be a great idea. No wonder master said that you’d be the one who’d carry his legacy.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Master only felt that way because I was not around. After all, the child away is the one parents think about the most. Not only is my ability worse than eldest or second brother, even sixth and seventh brother are much better than I am now.”

Yu LianZhou shook his head and said, “You can’t look at it that way. From a pure martial arts standpoint, I am better than you. But master always says, the world is so vast, the honor of Wu Dang itself is insignificant. The importance is to research into the depths of martial arts philosophies, and pass them down to future generations, so the righteous martial arts will overcome those of evil. In addition, we could unite practitioners throughout our land, drive out the Mongols, and reclaim our country. These are the reasons why we practice martial arts. To carry on our master’s legacy, one must first have a good heart. Then have incredible comprehension skills. When it comes to heart, there’s no different between us brothers. But in terms of comprehension, you are certainly the best.” Zhang CuiShan shook his head, said, “I’m sure the master just said it at the spur of the moment. Surely I’m not worthy of such a praise.”

Yu LianZhou smiled, and said, “Sister-in-law, go take care of WuJi. Don’t let him get scared. Fifth brother and I will take care of the problems outside.” Yin SuSu looked around, but didn’t find anything unordinary. As she hesitated, Yu LianZhou said, “Behind the bushes on the shore, there are weapons flashing. Which means someone’s trying to ambush us. There should be enemy boats up ahead.” Yin SuSu did not notice anything, and thought that perhaps there’s something wrong with Yu LianZhou’s eyes.

When suddenly, Yu LianZhou spoke loudly, “Wu Dang’s Second Yu, Fifth Zhang, are passing through this area. If friends would like to chat, feel free to come have a drink with us.” When he finished speaking, sounds of paddling came from the reeds. Six small boats came at them. A sound-arrow shot out of one boat, and ten or so people on the shore began to move. They all wore black clothes, held different types of weapons, and covered their faces with masks.

Yin SuSu thought in awe, “Second brother-in-law really is amazing.” With the enemy coming in, she hurriedly went inside the cabin, only to see WuJi already awake. Yin SuSu helped him put on some clothes, and whispered, “Don’t be afraid, honey.”

Yu LianZhou spoke again, “Who are you? Wu Dang’s Second Yu, Fifth Zhang, says hello.” Other than a single boatman paddling each ship, no one else even appeared, much less responded.

Yu LianZhou suddenly came to a realization. He yelled, “Oh no!” and immediately dived into the water. Having grown up near a river, his swimming skills are excellent. He immediately saw four people swimming underwater, each holding a sharp prick, as if wanting to make a hole to the ship.

Yu LianZhou waited till they were close, and quickly attacked with both hands, sealing two enemies’ pressure points. His leg shot out and hit the pressure point on the third enemy’s waist. The fourth tried to swim away, but Yu LianZhou quickly grabbed his feet, and threw him up onto the boat. Realizing that with their pressure points sealed, the other three people would die underwater, Yu LianZhou threw them onto the boat too. That fourth person rolled once on the deck, and stood up. He then immediately attacked Zhang CuiShan. Zhang CuiShan saw that the attacker’s kung fu is mediocre, didn’t block, and simply grabbed his wrist with the left hand, then struck that person’s pressure point on the chest with the left elbow. That man let out a light yell, and fell to the ground.

Yu LianZhou said, “There are some decent fighters on the shore. Enough talk, let’s break through.” Zhang CuiShan nodded, and ordered the boatmen to just keep going. When they sailed near the six small boats, Yu LianZhou picked up those four men, unsealed their pressure points, and threw them over to the other boats. Oddly enough, no one on the other boats made a sound. Even the people on the shore remained silent, as if they’re all mute. The four men Yu LianZhou threw went into the cabin.

Just as their boat passed by the six opposing boats, one of their boatmen suddenly threw something with his hand. After hearing two ‘ping’ sounds, the wood on their boat started flying everywhere, and an explosion destroyed the rudder. The boat itself suddenly turned horizontally. That sailor had thrown two fish bombs, which fishers use to catch fish. However, the one he used had much more explosives than a typical one. So it could destroy parts of the boat.

Yu LianZhou remained calm, and quickly jumped to the neighboring boat. Confident of his abilities, Yu LianZhou went empty-handed.

The boatman did not react as he landed. Yu LianZhou yelled, “Who threw that fish bomb?” The boatman did not respond. Yu LianZhou walked into the cabin, and saw two men sitting inside. Neither reacted upon his entrance. Yu LianZhou grabbed one of them, yelled, “Where’s your scoop to throw out water?” That person did not respond. Yu LianZhou didn’t want to force him, and returned back out. He saw that the Zhang family had already made it to this boat.

Yu LianZhou snatched away the oar, and began to paddle this new boat. After a moment, Yin SuSu yelled, “They’ve scuttled the boat!” as they saw water seeping through the bottom. There was a hole on the bottom of the boat, which was covered by a cork. But now that the cork has been removed, water flooded in. Yu LianZhou jumped to the second boat, and saw a small pool of water on the deck. He turned around and said, “Fifth brother. Since they’re forcing us to land, let’s grant their wish!” Those six boats are perfectly positioned as stepping-stones, allowing them to easily jump to shore.

The remaining ten-plus hooded figures positioned in a semi-circle, surrounding them. The majority held long swords, but a few held double sabers, or whips, but no heavy weapons.

Yu LianZhou looked around, but didn’t say anything.

The person in the middle gestured with his hand, and the crowd split apart. All of them bowed, their weapons facing the ground, opening a path. Yu LianZhou returned a bow, and walked through the opening. Just as he left, the people returned to their positions, surrounded the remaining three people.

Zhang CuiShan laughed, and said, “Oh, so you are all here for me. I’m quite honored that you’ve spent so much effort to capture me.” That middle person thought for a moment, and the crowd opened up a path again. Zhang CuiShan said, “SuSu, you go first!”

Yin SuSu, carrying WuJi, began to walk out, when suddenly the sound of wind surrounded her, as five swords came right at WuJi. Yin SuSu retreated in shock. Those five people continued to pursue her, the sword tips continuously vibrated, but always near WuJi.

Yu LianZhou leapt forward, and flew toward the battle. His two hands quickly shot out four times, each time hitting one of the hooded person’s wrist. In a flash, their four swords flew up into the air. Yu LianZhou quickly followed the four strikes by grabbing the fifth person’s wrist, and sealed that hand’s pressure point. The hand he struck felt quite soft, like that of a woman, so he quickly let go. That person’s hand became numb, and immediately dropped the sword.

With no swords in their hands, all five hooded figures retreated. Two more sparkles appeared under the moonlight, as another two swords came at Yu LianZhou. The sword edges pointed horizontally, the tips slashed from left to right, both attackers used the technique ‘Calm Desert Sand’. But there’s not much force behind the technique, as if they didn’t want to hurt him.

Yu LianZhou thought, “Kun Lun Sword Art! These are from the Kun Lun Sect!” When the swords reached about a feet from his chest, his chest contracted, two arms swept down from above, striking the flat area of the two swords.

These two strikes applied Wu Dang’s inner power. Normally, this should result in both swords dropping from the hands. However, during the moment of contact, Yu LianZhou felt a soft force coming out of the sword, which neutralized part of his power, and allowed the swords to remain in hand. But even so, Yu LianZhou’s power still pushed back the two attackers. One couldn’t maintain balance, and fell to the ground. The other let out a cry, and coughed out some blood.

This was the first time any of these people let out a sound. The cry sounded like a woman’s voice.

The middle hooded person waved the left hand, and everyone retreated away. Most of these people looked quite lean, most likely women dressed in men’s clothing. Yu LianZhou said, “Second Yu, Fifth Zhang, wish to apologize to ‘Mr. Iron Zither’, for causing all this trouble.” Those hooded figures did not respond, but one of them chuckled ever so slightly, in a woman’s voice.

Yin SuSu put down WuJi, grabbed his hand tightly, and said, “The majority of them should be women. Second brother-in-law, are they from the Kun Lun Sect?” Yu LianZhou said, “No, they are E Mei disciples.” Zhang CuiShan asked in surprise, “Then why did you mention ‘Mr. Iron Zither’?”

Yu LianZhou sighed, and said, “They covered their own faces, unwilling to speak a word. So they obviously wished to hide their identity. When the five swords attacked WuJi, they used Kun Lun Sect’s ‘Winter Plum Sword Formation’. The technique against me was ‘Calm Desert Sand’. I played along, went ahead and apologized ‘Mr. Iron Zither’ He TaiChong.” Yin SuSu said, “But how do you know they’re E Mei disciples? Did you recognize someone?”

Yu LianZhou said, “No. None of their martial arts abilities are deep. Probably two generations removed from E Mei’s Master Mie Jue. Or perhaps some of her latest disciples. I don’t know any of them. However, they did indeed use E Mei’s inner power to neutralize my two strikes against their swords. It’s not hard to copy someone else’s techniques. But you can’t cover up your inner power.”

Zhang CuiShan nodded, said, “When you struck their swords, they should’ve let go to avoid serious injuries. E Mei’s inner power is quite powerful. However, they didn’t have the ability to utilize it to full potential. Had second brother been fighting for real, both of them would’ve been dead by now. But E Mei and Wu Dang had always been on friendly terms.”

Yu LianZhou said, “E Mei founder Heroine Guo helped out our master in his youth. For this reason, he always told us not to offend E Mei Sect, for old times sake. When I realized those two people were E Mei disciples, I tried to retract my inner power, but was too late. I didn’t mean to hurt them, but nonetheless disobeyed master’s orders.”

Yin SuSu said, “Thankfully, you pretended that they’re Kun Lun Sect. So you didn’t officially offend the E Mei Sect.”

The boat they were on kept sailing during this whole time. By now it’s long gone. The six smaller boats have sunk. Its occupants all swam ashore. Yin SuSu said, “Are these also E Mei disciples?” Yu LianZhou whispered, “Most likely Lake Chao’s Grain-Boat Clan.” Yin SuSu looked at the five swords on the ground, and wanted to examine them. Yu LianZhou said, “Don’t touch these weapons. If they have names on them, we’d have trouble claiming ignorance on the matter. Let’s just leave now!” Yin SuSu nodded in agreement and said, “You’re right.” She grabbed WuJi’s hand and walked towards the road. After walking for a while, they saw three horses tied to a tree. WuJi yelled happily, “Horses! Horses!” WuJi had always wanted to ride a horse since coming to the mainland. But because they kept traveling by boat, he never got the chance.

When the four got close to, they saw a note stuck to the tree. Zhang CuiShan took down the note, and read it, “Please accept these three horses, as an apology for inconveniencing you.” The characters were written in charcoal, very delicately, in a lady’s writing style. Yin SuSu said with a smile, “Looks like this E Mei lady wrote to Heroes of Wu Dang using a charcoal pencil for drawing eyebrows.” Yu LianZhou said, “Well, they’re certainly quite courteous.” He untied the horses, and everyone got on. WuJi sat in front of his mother, feeling very excited.

Zhang CuiShan said, “Since everyone knows our movement anyway, we might as well ride horses. Yu LianZhou said, “You’re right. There will surely be more troubles ahead. If we must fight, don’t be too ruthless.” He still felt quite uneasy for hurting those two E Mei disciples.

Yin SuSu felt ashamed, thought, “Second brother-in-law only used a bit too much force. He didn’t even intend to hurt anyone. They only sustained injuries because they wouldn’t let go of the swords. We really shouldn’t let second brother-in-law get further involved in this matter.” So she said, “Second brother-in-law. These people came for my family. If we encounter any trouble, my husband and I will take care of it. If we can’t handle them, then we can ask you for help.” Yu LianZhou said, “Do not treat me as an outsider. After all, we brothers live together and die together. Your problems are my problems.”

Yin SuSu stopped discussing this matter, and asked, “If they knew you were with us, why did E Mei just send some younger disciples to block our way?” Yu LianZhou said, “They probably didn’t have time to gather the more powerful disciples.”

Zhang CuiShan figured these disciples came because of Xie Xun, and said, “Looks like my sworn brother is also an enemy of E Mei. How come he never told me back on Fire-Ice Island?”

Yu LianZhou sighed, and said, “E Mei’s a very strict sect, with mostly female disciples. Master Mie Jue doesn’t let her female disciples wander around freely. So even we used to find it strange that E Mei would go against the Heavenly Eagle Sect. However, we recently found out the reason. One night, ‘Golden Hammer’ Fang Ping, Old Hero Fang of the Kai Feng City in He Nan province, was killed. The words ‘The murderer is Lightning Fist of the Originating Formation: Cheng Kun’ were written on the wall.” Yin SuSu asked, “Is Fang Ping a member of the E Mei Sect?” Yu LianZhou said, “No. But Master Mie Jue’s surname was ‘Fang’ before becoming a nun. That Old Hero Fang was Master Mie Jue’s brother.” Both Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu gasped at the same time.

WuJi suddenly asked, “Second uncle, is that Old Hero Fang a good person or a bad person?” Yu LianZhou said, “I heard that he was a recluse, and spends his days farming and reading. So he should be a good person.” WuJi said, “Oh, godfather really shouldn’t be killing so recklessly.” Yu LianZhou was overjoyed, reached out for WuJi’s arms, and took him from Yin SuSu. He said, “Son, your second uncle’s very happy for you, since you know to not kill recklessly. A person who dies cannot be resurrected. So even if your opponent is the most devious, vicious person in the world, you still shouldn’t automatically kill him. Try giving people a chance to reform.”

WuJi said, “Second uncle, can you do something for me?” Yu LianZhou asked, “What?” Wu Ji said, “If they really do find godfather, can you tell them not to kill him? His eyes are now blind, and can’t beat these people.” Yu LianZhou thought for a moment, then said, “I don’t have the power to do this. But I myself will promise not to kill him.” WuJi did not speak further, but tears came down his eyes.

The next day, they’ve arrived at a town. After sleeping for a while in an inn, they continued in the afternoon. Sometimes Yin SuSu and Zhang CuiShan would ride together, so WuJi could get a taste for riding alone. As a child, WuJi forgets his worries quickly. After riding alone for a while, he quickly forgot about Xie Xun’s problems. Following a day of riding, they almost reached the city of An Lu. Suddenly, ten or so merchants hurried past them. When they saw Yu LianZhou, one quickly shook his hand and yelled, “Turn round quickly! Mongolian soldiers are killing and pillaging ahead.” Another said to Yin SuSu, “You are one brave lady. But you really shouldn’t let the soldiers see you.” Yu LianZhou asked, “How many soldiers?” One merchant said, “Ten-plus. All looked really mean.” He quickly ran away as he spoke.

The Seven Heroes of Wu Dang hated cruel Mongolian soldiers more than anything else. Zhang SanFeng is very strict about combat. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, his disciples should never get into fights. However, if the opponents are Mongolian soldiers acting viciously, then they have the go-ahead to kill. For this reason, if the seven heroes see large contingents of soldiers, they’ll simply hide. But if they meet only a few soldiers, then they’d eliminate the soldiers. So when Yu and Zhang heard that there are only ten or so soldiers, they immediately galloped ahead.

After riding for another mile, they heard loud cries ahead. Zhang CuiShan went in front, and saw over ten soldiers holding spears and sabers, terrorizing a group of civilians. The ground is filled with blood, as seven or eight civilians were already dead on the ground. Only to see one soldier picking up a child of about three or four, and then kicked him into the air. When the child came down, another soldier kicked him up again, like kicking a bouncing ball. After a few kicks, the child’s breathing stopped. Filled with rage, Zhang CuiShan flew off the horse. Before hitting the ground, his fist struck one of the soldiers, who instantly fell to the ground. At this time, another soldier came at him with a spear.

WuJi yelled, “Daddy, watch out!” Zhang CuiShan said, “Watch your dad beat up on Mongol soldiers.” When the spear nearly reached him, Zhang CuiShan grabbed the spear tip, and pushed it backward into that soldier’s chest. That soldier let out a loud scream, fell to the ground, seemingly dead.

Upon seeing Zhang CuiShan’s actions, the other soldiers surrounded him. Yin SuSu got off the horse and quickly snatched one of the soldier’s sabers. She immediately killed two soldiers with it. The other soldiers quickly realized that something’s wrong, and began to run away. Yu LianZhou yelled, “Don’t let them get away.” He quickly went west to block four of the soldiers. Zhang CuiShan and Yin SuSu also split up to catch the remaining soldiers. All three knew that these soldiers’ fighting abilities are very mediocre, not even WuJi’s match. So they were comfortable leaving him alone.

WuJi jumped off the horse. He saw his parents and second uncle leap as if they’re flying, clapped his hands and yelled, “Great! Great!” When suddenly, the soldier Zhang CuiShan knocked down with the spear sprung up. He quickly grabbed WuJi, jumped onto a horse, and began to gallop away.

Yu LianZhou and the Zhang couple gasped in shock. They quickly gave chase. Yu LianZhou leapt just two times before catching up to the horse. He jumped up again, and shot out with his left palm, aimed at that soldier’s back. That soldier didn’t even bother to turn around. His palm came out behind, matching Yu LianZhou’s palm. Yu LianZhou sensed the opposing palm sending out an extremely powerful force, filled with incredibly icy yin- based inner power. Yu LianZhou felt like his whole body was frozen. He stuttered a bit, and retreated a few steps.

That soldier also couldn’t handle Yu LianZhou’s palm either, and fell off the horse. He then carried WuJi and ran forward. Applying lightness kung fu, he was already forty-some meters away in an instant.

When Zhang CuiShan caught up to Yu LianZhou, he saw a pale expression on his second brother. Knowing that he’s seriously injured, Zhang CuiShan went over to help him.

Yin SuSu cared deeply for her child, and kept chasing. But that Mongolian soldier’s lightness kung fu is much better than hers. He quickly disappeared into the distance. Even so, Yin SuSu still wouldn’t give up. She only had one thought in mind, “Even if it costs me my life, I still must get my son back.” Yu LianZhou whispered, “Quick, get sister-in-law to stop chasing…” Zhang CuiShan raised his spear and killed the two soldiers besides them. He asked, “How’s your injury?” Yu LianZhou said, “It’s no big deal. First… first catch sister-in-law.” Zhang CuiShan was afraid that there are more kung fu experts among the remaining soldiers. So he went around and killed all the soldiers first. Then he got on a horse to chase after Yin SuSu.

After a few miles, he finally saw Yin SuSu. But her steps are staggered, obviously from exhaustion. Zhang CuiShan picked her up onto the horse. Yin SuSu pointed forward, and cried in tears, “He’s gone. I couldn’t catch up, couldn’t catch up.” And then her eyes closed, and fainted.

Zhang CuiShan worried about Yu LianZhou, and thought, “I must first take care of second brother, then worry about WuJi.” He turned his horse around, and returned to Yu LianZhou, only to see him meditating on the ground, readjusting his flow of chi.

Yin SuSu slowly regained consciousness, and immediately yelled, “WuJi! WuJi!” Yu LianZhou’s face also slowly regained its color, opened his eyes, and said softly, “What amazing palm power!”

Upon hearing his second brother speak, Zhang CuiShan knew the injuries aren’t life threatening. Zhang CuiShan calmed a bit, but still afraid to converse with Yu LianZhou. Yu LianZhou slowly got up, and said softly, “Is he gone?” Yin SuSu cried, “Second brother-in-law, what… what should we do?” Yu LianZhou said, “This person’s kung fu is very good. He won’t harm a little kid.” Yin SuSu said, “But… but he kidnapped WuJi.”

Yu LianZhou nodded, and put one hand on Zhang CuiShan’s shoulder. After thinking for a while, he said, “I can’t figure out the origin of his kung fu. Let’s go ask master about it.” Yin SuSu felt extremely irritated, said, “Second brother-in-law. We have to find a way to get back WuJi first. The kidnapper’s origin doesn’t matter right now.” Yu LianZhou shook his head.

Zhang CuiShan said, “SuSu. Second brother’s seriously wounded. That person’s kung fu is also incredibly high. Even if we catch up, what can we do?” Yin SuSu said impatiently, “So… so are we just going to give up?” Zhang CuiShan said, “Even if we don’t find him, he’s going to come to us.”

Yin SuSu is normally very intelligent, but the loss of her child really messed up her mind. But upon her husband’s words, she immediately understood everything. If that soldier could injure Yu LianZhou in one blow, he could easily kill her and her husband. But instead, the soldier simply kidnapped WuJi. Obviously, the soldier wants to know Xie Xun’s location. When Zhang CuiShan knocked him down with the spear, none of them cared to examine his appearance. Now that they thought back to it, that soldier looked like a typical Mongol soldier.

Zhang CuiShan sent his second brother onto the horse, and grabbed the horse’s leash. The three horses strolled forward. Upon reaching An Lu City, they rested at a small inn. After asking the worker to send in food, the three stayed in the room. They were afraid of meeting more soldiers and get into trouble.

After killing those soldiers on the road, they knew the government would retaliate by killing more innocent people. But at that moment, they could hardly ignore the situation. This is called ‘The cruel fate of a conquered nation, country rich and vast, yet people live in torment’.

Yu LianZhou kept circulating his chi, trying to heal his injury. Zhang CuiShan sat besides him. Yin SuSu leaned back on her chair, but could not sleep. At midnight, Yu LianZhou stood up, and walked around the room three times to loosen up. He said, “Fifth brother, other than master, I’ve never met such a powerful person.”

Yin SuSu only had her son in mind, and said, “He kidnapped WuJi, obviously to find sworn brother’s location. I wonder if WuJi would say it.” Zhang CuiShan said, “If WuJi said it, would he still be our son?” Yin SuSu said, “Right! He absolutely would not say it.” Suddenly, she began to cry. Zhang CuiShan quickly asked, “What’s going on?” Yin SuSu choked with sobs, said, “If WuJi won’t answer, that monster… that monster would certainly beat him, perhaps they’d even use… use the torture chamber.” Yu LianZhou sighed. Zhang CuiShan said, “If jade isn’t carved, it won’t turn into a tool. This might be a good experience for him.” Although he says this, Zhang CuiShan’s heart is filled with grief, and the hope that WuJi’s ok. But if WuJi is resting peacefully right now, then he must’ve told his godfather’s location. It’s much better for WuJi to be tortured than for him to be ungrateful and dishonorable. Zhang CuiShan thought, “Rather for him to be dead than live as a dishonorable person.” He glanced at his wife, only to see tear-filled face with a grief-stricken, pitiful expression. He shuddered and thought, “If that person came and pressured with WuJi’s life, perhaps SuSu might give in.” So He said, “Second brother, are you alright now?”

The two brothers grew up together. Through just a single question and expression, they could read each other’s thoughts. Yu LianZhou looked at the couple’s expressions, and realized Zhang CuiShan’s intention. He said, “I’m fine. Let’s leave tonight.”

Under the cover of darkness, the three traveled on the smaller roads. They weren’t afraid of that person coming to kill them, but rather he torture WuJi in front of them.

o0o

But by traveling this way, they had no problems on the road. However, grief- stricken by the loss of her son, Yin SuSu became ill. Zhang CuiShan hired two mule-carts to carry Yin SuSu and Yu LianZhou. He himself rode his horse on the side. They finally passed by the city of Xiang Yang, and stopped at an inn in the town of Tai Ping Dian to rest.

Zhang CuiShan took care of his second brother, and was about to return to his own room. When suddenly a man opened the door and came in. This person held a horsewhip in his hand, and looked like a cart-driver. He looked at Zhang and Yu, let out a snicker, and walked back out. Zhang CuiShan knew he’s up to no good, and felt quite annoyed at his blatant disrespect. Just as that man released the door curtain to leave, Zhang CuiShan grabbed the curtain, applied his inner power, and sent it forward. The bottom of the curtain swung up, and hit that man squarely on the back, sent him flying before falling flat on his face.

That man got up and yelled, “Wu Dang punks. Don’t be so smug. You’re all about to die!” Despite talking this way, the man ran away as fast as he could. However, he must’ve been injured, for he kept staggering while running.

Yu LianZhou saw the whole event, but didn’t say anything. At dusk, Zhang CuiShan said, “Second brother, lets go!” Yu LianZhou said, “No. We stay tonight. Let’s leave tomorrow.” Zhang CuiShan paused for a second, then realized his brother’s intentions. He said, “You’re right. We’re only two days away from the mountain. Even though the seven brothers are not together, we still cannot let down our sect’s reputation. How can we hide from others at the bottom of Wu Dang Mountain?”

Yu LianZhou smiled lightly and said, “Since our tracks have already been exposed, I want to see just how we’re about to die.”

The two walked over to Zhang CuiShan’s room, sat by the fire and meditated. That night, seven or eight people kept walking around their room, but none dared to go in. Yin SuSu slept through the entire night, not knowing what’s going on. Zhang and Yu simply ignored the people.

The three of them left after finishing breakfast. Yu LianZhou told the driver to take off the cover on his cart, so he could see outside.

After traveling a few miles out the town, three riders caught up from behind, and followed the mule-carts. They kept about thirty meters back, and didn’t try to get any closer. After a while, they found four riders in front. After the mule-carts passed them, these four riders joined with the previous three. A few miles later, four more riders caught up, with eleven total now. The cart- drivers began to panic, and whispered to Zhang CuiShan, “Sir, these people don’t look right. Perhaps they’re bandits. You should be careful.” Zhang CuiShan nodded.

By noon, six more people joined up. These riders all looked different. Some dressed in expensive, silk robes, while others look like beggars. But all carried weapons. None of them spoke, so one can’t tell their dialect. However, all of them are short and have dark skin. So they’re likely from the south. By the afternoon, twenty-one riders had gathered behind them. Some of the more daring riders got as close as about ten meters, but wouldn’t dare get closer. Yu LianZhou simply meditated in the cart, ignoring them.

By dusk, two riders came from the front. The first rider is an empty-handed old man. The second rider is a colorfully dressed married woman, holding a pair of sabers. The two horses stopped in the middle of the road, blocking their path.

Zhang CuiShan held down his anger, and said courteously, “Wu Dang’s Second Yu, Fifth Zhang, says hello. May I ask the elder’s name?” That old man said, “Where is Gold-Haired Lion King: Xie Xun? If you tell me, I will let you through.” Zhang CuiShan said, “I cannot answer this question. Allow me to ask master for permission first.”

That old man said, “With Second Yu’s injured, you’re only one person. Don’t think you can defeat all of us.” As he spoke, the old man took out a pair of judge’s brushes. The tips of the brushes are in the shape of serpent heads.

Zhang CuiShan uses a judge’s brush himself, so he’s familiar with all of the famous brush users in the martial world. Upon seeing this serpent-like brush tip, he recalled that his master once said, there’s a sect in the Gao Li* region who specializes in judge’s brushes. Their brush tips are in the shape of serpent heads. They also use different moves and pressure point techniques compared to brush users in the central plains. Perhaps due to the serpent head tip, their techniques are quite vicious. The sect is called the ‘Green Dragon Sect’. The most renowned member is someone with a surname of ‘Quan’. But master did not know of his name. So Zhang CuiShan put together his fist and said, “Is elder a member of Gao Li’s Green Dragon Sect? How do you refer to Elder Quan?”

*Note: Gao Li is in the present day Northeastern region of China. It was an independent country for a short while in history.

That old man froze, thought, “This person looks to be thirty-some years old. How could he know my background?” This old man is head of the Gao Li’s Green Dragon Sect. His name is Quan JianNan. Sourthern Ling region’s ‘Three River Clan’ leader requested his help, and even offered large amounts of gifts. Quan JianNan hasonly been in the central plains for a short while, and had not fought. So he was very surprised when Zhang CuiShan pointed out his origin. and said, “I am Quan JianNan.”

Zhang Cuishan said, “The Green Dragon Sect never associates with people in the central plains. What had Wu Dang done that angered Old Hero Quan? Please enlighten us.” Quan JianNan said, “I have nothing against you. I also know about a Wu Dang Sect back in Gao Li. And that the Seven Heroes of Wu Dang are all righteous men. I just have one question, ‘Where is Golden- Haired Lion King: Xie Xun?’”

Although these words didn’t seem disrespectful, they showed clear hostile intentions. At the same time, Quan JianNan waved his judge’s brush. The riders behind them quickly scattered, surrounding the carts. Their intentions are obvious. If Zhang CuiShan did not reveal Xie Xun’s location, they will attack.

Zhang CuiShan said, “What if I don’t want to say the location?” Quan JianNan said, “I know Fifth Hero Zhang’s kung fu is formidable. Even though we have many people, I doubt we could keep you here. However, Second Hero Yu is injured, and your wife is ill. Given such an opportunity, we’ll have to take advantage, and capture them. But you are free to leave.”

Zhang CuiShan did not like his tone at all, and said, “Fine. If so, then let me see just how good Gao Li martial arts is. What if Elder Quan loses?”

Quan JianNan said, “If I lose, then everyone will attack at once. We’re not going to use that stupid one-on-one rule here. If Wu Dang had more people, you can also try to win through numbers. Back when Sui YangDi*, Tang TaiZong*, and Tang GaoZong* invaded Gao Li, didn’t they also win through numbers with their large number of troops? Since the beginning of history, people had been using numbers to their advantage.”

*Note: ‘Sui YangDi’ is the imperial name for Yang Guang, the infamous second(and last) emperor of the Sui Dynasty. Tang TaiZong and Tang GaoZong are the imperial names for Li ShiMin and Li Zhi, respectively. They are the second and the third emperor of the Tang Dynasty. These emperors ruled pretty much in succession, with Li ShiMin’s father Li Yuan ruling in between them. However, Li Yuan ruled during much civil strife, which is probably why he didn’t bother attacking Gao Li.

Zhang CuiShan knew he couldn’t talk out of this situation. He figured that capturing Quan JianNan might get them to back off. So he got off the horse, and took out a silver tiger hook with his left hand, and an iron judge’s brush with his right. Zhang CuiShan said, “After you.” Zhang CuiShan’s previous judge’s brush fell into the sea. After returning, he bought a new one. Although it’s not as good as the previous one, it was the best available.

Quan JianNan also came down the horse, and attacked. His right brush pointed gently, while his left brush still hasn’t came out, as his body had already reached the opponent. Zhang CuiShan thought, “Today I’m fighting for my sworn brother. As his sworn brother and sworn sister, my wife and I can die for him. But this doesn’t concern second brother at all. And he shouldn’t get hurt because of this.” As Quan JianNan’s right brush nears, the hook came up to block, which used twenty percent of Zhang CuiShan’s power. As the hook and brush met, Zhang CuiShan’s body shook.

Quan JianNan thought happily, “The Three-River Clan kept saying how powerful Wu Dang is. But this guy’s nothing. They must’ve been exaggerating.” He quickly followed up with his left brush. Zhang CuiShan had trouble blocking, but still hung on. Quan JianNan thought that should he defeat Fifth Hero Zhang, his fame would rise dramatically. With this thought, his brushes came even faster, each attack pointed at Zhang CuiShan’s vital area.

Zhang CuiShan blocked tightly, while carefully examining his opponent’s moves. Quan JianNan’s moves looked light and flexible, but there’s great power on the tip of the brush. The brush targets emphasized the lower body and the back, much different from brush users in the central plains. Upon further examination, his left brush attacked only the back’s ‘Ling Tai’ or lower points, like ‘Zhi Yang’, ‘Jin Sui’, ‘Zhong Shu’, ‘Ji Zhong’, ‘Xuan Shu’, ‘Ming Men’, ‘Yang Guan’, ‘Yao Yu’, and ‘Chang Chiang’. The right brush emphasized on attacking the opponent’s legs, like ‘Zi Wu Shu’, ‘Wei Dao’, ‘Huan Tiao’, ‘Feng Shi’, ‘Zhong Du’, and the calf’s ‘Yang Ling’ Point. Zhang CuiShan figured out that his left brush really only aimed at the several points along the ‘Du Artery’. The right brush aimed at only the several points in the front of the leg and foot. Despite the complicated appearance, it’s actually quite easy to counter. Zhang CuiShan thought, “Master once said, the Green Dragon Sect’s point-sealing technique relied on its oddity. So despite its ferociousness, their technique is nothing to worry about. Looks like master’s correct.” After he understood his opponent’s attack pattern, the silver hook and iron brush only protected the particular points that Quan JianNan aimed for, ignoring all other parts of the body.

Quan JianNan fought with more and more energy as the battle went on. Zhang CuiShan thought, “You dare come to the bottom of Wu Dang Mountain with such pedestrian skills?” Suddenly his silver hook came scooping down using the hook in the character ‘Dragon’. The hook slashed through Quan JianNan’s right leg’s ‘Feng Shi’ Point. Quan JianNan let out a scream, and fell down.

At this moment, Zhang CuiShan’s brush came straight down, sealing ten pressure points on Quan JianNan’s ‘Du Artery’, the same ten Quan JianNan aimed with his left brush during the fight. This brush came down fast as a shooting star, strong as a charging ox, fully immobilizing Quan JianNan. Quan JianNan sighed, and thought, “I give up. Even against a wooden sculpture, I wouldn’t be able to attack ten points in one single move. I’m not even worthy to be his disciple.”

Zahng CuiShan put his hook by Quan JianNan’s throat, and yelled, “Everyone stand back! After escorting this elder to Wu Dang Mountain, I’ll release him.” He thought these people must be Quan JianNan’s subordinates, and would listen.

But instead, that colorfully-dressed married woman yelled, “Everyone attack together. Break the carts.” Zhang CuiShan yelled, “If anyone moves any closer, I’ll kill this man!” That woman smirked and said, “Everyone just attack.” The riders immediately charged, ignoring Quan JianNan’s safety. This woman is one of the helmsmen of the Three-River Clan. They came here to capture Yu LianZhou and Yin SuSu, in order to get Xie Xun’s location. Quan JianNan is just a guest helper. So they hardly cared for his safety.

Zhang CuiShan gasped, as he realized that even killing Quan JianNan would be useless. At this moment, six people had surrounded Yin SuSu’s cart, and six more surrounded Yu LianZhou’s cart. The rest gathered around the married woman. Just at this moment, Yu LianZhou suddenly yelled, “Sixth brother, come get rid of these people!”

Zhang CuiShan thought, “What’s second brother doing?” When suddenly, he heard a yell in the distance, “Sure thing! Fifth brother, how are you? Your little brother really misses you.” A shadow appeared from behind a nearby tree, with a sword in hand, coming closer. He is indeed the sixth hero Yin LiTing. Zhang CuiShan was simply overjoyed, and he yelled, “Sixth brother. Great to see you!”

Several people from the Three-River Clan went to block Yin LiTing’s path, only to hear a continuous stream of ‘ah’ yells and ‘ding ding’ sounds. Each person’s wrist was slashed by sword on the ‘Divine Gate’ Point. All of them immediately dropped their weapons. The ‘Divine Gate’ Point is located one the back wrist. Once struck, the hand immediately becomes numb, unable to exert any more pressure. Yin LiTing walked briskly towards the carts. When an enemy comes, he would wave his sword, and the opposing weapon would drop. That woman yelled, “You’re Wu Dang’s…” With two ‘Dang Dang’ sounds, her two sabers both left her hands.

Zhang CuiShan said ecstatically, “So master finally figured out the ‘Thirteen Divine Gate Swords’.” This ‘Thirteen Divine Gate Swords’ has a total of thirteen moves. Each one different from another, but all aimed at the opponent’s ‘Divine Gate’ Point. When Zhang CuiShan left Wu Dang ten years ago, Zhang SanFeng had started to invent this sword art. He discussed with his disciples several times, but couldn’t overcome several major problems. Now as Zhang CuiShan watched Yin LiTing use this sword art, no one in the Three-River Clan could block even one blow. Every single one of Yin LiTing’s strike was incredibly exquisite. After only five or six blows, he had already dropped over ten people’s weapons.

That woman yelled, “Let’s get out of here!” The clan members immediately began to run away. Zhang CuiShan unsealed Quan JianNan’s pressure points and returned his brushes. Quan JianNan instantly ran away in a shameful expression.

Yin LiTing returned his sword to its sheath, and grabbed Zhang CuiShan’s hands tightly. He said with joy, “Fifth brother. I missed you so much!” Zhang CuiShan said, “Sixth brother, you’ve grown taller.” When they parted, Yin LiTing was only eighteen. After ten years, the young boy had grown into a mature adult. Zhang CuiShan held Yin LiTing’s hand as he walked over to his wife.

Yin SuSu is still quite ill. So she could only smile lightly, and said faintly, “Sixth brother-in-law.” Yin LiTing said with a smile, “So fifth sister-in-law also has a surname of ‘Yin’. That’s great. Not only are you my sister-in-law, but also my sister.”

Zhang CuiShan said, “Second brother really is much better than me. You were hiding on that tree the whole time. He recognized you, but I never noticed.”

Yin LiTing then spoke of why he came.

A while back, fourth hero Zhang SongXi went down the Wu Dang Mountain to buy some items for master’s one-hundredth birthday. He saw two suspicious people walking around, and thought, “Considering Wu Dang’s fame, why would anyone want to cause trouble in this area?” So he followed them to see what they’re up to. Only then did Zhang SongXi know that Zhang CuiShan is back, and met up with Yu LianZhou. Both the ‘Three- River Clan’ and the ‘Saber of Five Winds Sect’ wanted to block their path, to ask for Xie Xun’s location. Zhang SongXi ecstatically went back up the mountain. At the time, only Yin LiTing was there. The two split up to look for their brothers. They both thought, at the time, that their second and fifth brother could easily take care of these people. But both were too impatient to meet up with their fifth brother. So they came down the mountain together. Neither knew about Yu LianZhou’s injury, for those people did not bring it up. Zhang SongXi followed ‘Saber of Five Winds Sect’, while Yin LiTing followed ‘Three-River Clan’.

Yu LianZhou said, “If it weren’t for fourth brother, I don’t know what would’ve happened today.” Zhang CuiShan said shamefully, “I couldn’t even protect second brother myself. After leaving for ten years, my martial arts ability had lagged too far behind.” Yin LiTing said, “Don’t be so hard on yourself. Even if I hadn’t appeared, you still could’ve easily taken care of them. It’s just that you couldn’t protect second brother and fifth sister-in-law at the same time. Think about the techniques you used against that old man from Gao Li. Master never taught it to anyone else. Master will be overjoyed to see you back. He’s bound to have lots and lots of stuff to teach you. Just hope you can remember them all. Hey, do you want me to teach you the ‘Thirteen Divine Gate Swords’?”

Due to their bond, and being reunited after so much time apart, Yin LiTing is just dying to teach Zhang CuiShan everything he missed. As the two walked side by side, Yin LiTing talked endlessly, and kept making gestures to demonstrate various techniques.

o0o

That night the four rested in an inn. Yin LiTing wanted to sleep next to Zhang CuiShan. Zhang CuiShan also really likes this sixth brother. Although Yin LiTing’s already grown up, his personality still resembled the youngster ten years ago. Muo ShengGu might be the youngest of the seven brothers, but he matured at a very young age. So Yin LiTing actually has a weaker personality than his little brother. Zhang CuiShan’s age has always been close to Yin LiTing’s, and had always taken extra care of his sixth brother.

Yu LianZhou chuckled, and said, “Fifth brother is already married. Do you think he’s still the same person from ten years ago? Fifth brother, you came back just in time. After we’re done with master’s birthday celebration, we will be following up with sixth brother’s wedding celebration.” Zhang CuiShan clapped his hands and laughed, said, “Awesome! Awesome! Who’s the lucky lady?” Yin LiTing’s face turned bright red, but won’t speak.

Yu LianZhou said, “She is the daughter of ‘Golden Whip’ Old Hero Ji in Han Yang City.” Zhang CuiShan said with a smile, “Sixth brother, you need to stop acting like a kid now. It’s no fun getting whacked by a golden whip.” Yu LianZhou chuckled, said, “Miss Ji is actually a sword user. Thankfully, she was not among the hooded-women back at the river.” Zhang CuiShan asked in surprise, “You mean Miss Ji is an E Mei disciple?” Yu LianZhou nodded, said, “Those E Mei disciples we met by the river had ordinary kung fu. So Miss Ji couldn’t have been among them. Otherwise, if I offended sixth sister-in-law, while helping fifth sister-in-law, people might say I’m being unfair. This future sixth sister-in-law has great moral fiber, and excellent martial arts. She’s a top disciple of a righteous sect, very suitable for sixth brother…”

When he got here, Yu LianZhou suddenly remembered that Yin SuSu is from an evil sect. Praising Miss Ji this way might hurt fifth brother’s feelings. Just when he wanted to change the subject, someone came to the door and said, “Mr. Yu, several people want to see you. They said they’re your friends.” This was the voice of a worker at the inn.

Yu LianZhou asked, “Who are they?” The worker said, “There are six people total. They said they’re from the ‘Saber of Five Winds Sect’.” The three brothers were quite surprised. Zhang SongXi said he’d get rid of these people, so how did they manage to get here? Could something have happened to Zhang SongXi? Zhang CuiShan said, “Let me go out and see what’s going on.” Because of second brother’s injuries, Zhang CuiShan didn’t want to fight inside the room. Yu LianZhou said, “Let them come in.” A while later, five coarse men and a beautiful young married woman came in. Zhang CuiShan and Yin LiTing sat right next to Yu LianZhou, preparing for possible fighting. Yet these six people all had shameful expressions on their faces. None of them had any weapons. Hardly looking like they want to cause some trouble. The first man of about forty stepped up, bowed courteously with fists together, and said, “Are you Wu Dang’s Second Hero Yu, Fifth Hero Zhang, and Sixth Hero Yin? I am a disciple of the Saber of Five Winds Sect, called Meng ZhengHong. Nice to meet you.”

Yu, Zhang, and Yin returned bows, all surprised at his actions. Yu LianZhou said, “Nice to meet you, Mr. Meng. Everyone, please sit.”

But Meng ZhengHong did not sit. He said, “My sect is located in the Shan Xi region. Although the sect is small, we nonetheless have heard of Wu Dang’s reputation. Today, upon reaching the foot of Wu Dang Mountain, we really should go up to respects to Master Zhang. But we heard that he’s already one hundred years old, and leads a quiet life. So we really shouldn’t bother him. We wish you could send a message to him. Tell him that the disciples of the ‘Saber of Five Winds Sect’ send their greetings, hoping he would have forever-good health, and many blessings.”

Yu LianZhou said, “You are too kind. Thank you for your thoughtful words.”

Meng ZhengHong then said, “We really were foolish and ignorant, to even dare come offend Wu Dang. Thankfully, the Heroes of Wu Dang were benevolent, and actually helped us out in our time of need. I really am very thankful, and therefore came to first express my gratitude, then express my apology. Hoping you could forgive us.” As he spoke he got on his knees.

Zhang CuiShan quickly picked him up, said, “Mr. Meng, you don’t need to be so courteous.”

Meng ZhengHong stuttered a bit, as he wanted to say something, but was afraid to. Yu LianZhou said, “Just speak what’s on your mind, Mr. Meng.” Meng ZhengHong said, “I wish for Second Hero Yu to say that Wu Dang forgives us. So we would have face to meet our master.” Yu LianZhou said, “I take it you came to seek Golden-Haired Lion King: Xie Xun’s location, right? What’s your reason for doing so?” Meng ZhengHong said, “Xie Xun killed my elder brother.”

Yu LianZhou’s heart shook, said, “We really have our reasons for not giving this info. Hopefully you can understand. As for forgiveness, you don’t have to ever speak of it again. When you see your master Old Master Wu, say that Second Yu, Fifth Zhang, and Sixth Yin send their greetings.”

Meng ZhengHon said, “If so, then we shall go now. If Wu Dang ever needs help in the future, you can simply send us a letter. Although we are just a small sect, we would still help in any way we can.” He then bowed again with the five other people, and left the room.

That young married woman suddenly got down on her knees and whispered, “Thanks to Wu Dang’s help, I was able to keep my innocence. I’ll never forget your kindness.” The three brothers didn’t know what she’s talking about, but felt it would be inappropriate to ask further on this subject. So they just said some modest words. That young woman kowtowed several times, and left.

Just moments after these people left, the door opened. A man flew in at lightning speed, and immediately hugged Zhang CuiShan.

Zhang CuiShan said cheerfully, “Fourth brother!” The person who came in was indeed Zhang SongXi. Zhang CuiShan added, “Fourth brother. You really are amazing. Turning the ‘Saber of Five Winds Sect’ from enemy to friend. Zhang SongXi said with a smile, “It was just a coincidence. I can’t really claim credit.” He then explained how everything unfolded.

That young married woman’s surname is Wu. She is the sect leader’s second daughter. That Meng ZhengHong is her husband. The six of them came here to search for Xie Xun. On the way, they met up with the Three-River Clan, who said that Zhang CuiShan know of Xie Xun’s location. That Wu lady was pampered since childhood. She proposed to capture Zhang CuiShan, and torture him into submission. Meng ZhengHong had always been afraid of his wife, but wouldn’t agree with her this time. He said that Wu Dang’s too powerful. They should instead ask politely. Should Wu Dang not acquiesce, they’ll find some other way to get the information. That Wu lady said, “This is a once in a life time opportunity. Once Zhang CuiShan get back to Wu Dang, he’d be with his martial brothers, and be protected by Zhang SanFeng. How do we ask then?” The two then began to bicker. The other disciples were beneath them in seniority, and didn’t dare interfere.

That Wu lady said, “You are such a coward. Look, we’re trying to avenge your brother here, not mine. Humph, you’re not a man at all. Don’t you have any courage? Even if that Zhang CuiShan tells you Xie Xun’s location, I doubt you’ll have the guts to find him. The biggest mistake of my life is getting married to a coward like you.” Meng ZhengHong is used to giving in to his wife, and stopped talking. But he still won’t follow his wife’s plan: catching them using sleeping powder. In her frustration, that night when his husband fell asleep, the Wu lady secretly left.

She wanted to do the deed alone, and embarrass his husband in the process. Unfortunately for her, a helmsman of the Three-River Clan saw everything. Lusted at her beauty, he followed behind secretly. He tried to apply some of the sleeping powder on her. However, Zhang SongXi was following their movement this whole time. At the last second, he came out of hiding and beat up on that helmsman, before chasing him away. Zhang SongXi didn’t say his own name, only mentioned that he was a Wu Dang disciple. The Wu lady was both surprised and embarrassed. She quickly went back and told her husband what happened. This way, Wu Dang turned into their savior. That’s why the couple came to thank the three Wu Dang brothers. Zhang SongXi didn’t want to further embarrass them, and therefore didn’t appear until they had left.

Zhang CuiShan said, “It’s not difficult to send these people away. But it’s much more to master’s taste that you turned them into friends.”

Zhang SongXi said with a smile, “Ten years apart, and the first thing you do is to flatter me.” That night, the four brothers slept in the same room and chatted. Despite his cleverness, Zhang SongXi could not figure out the origins of the man who kidnapped WuJi either.

The next day, Zhang SongXi met Yin SuSu. The five of them traveled for a whole day before arriving at Wu Dang Mountain that night.

As he returned to his childhood home, Zhang CuiShan’s first thought was to pay respects to his master. Then meet up with eldest brother, third brother, and seventh brother. Even though his son is missing and his wife is sick, Zhang CuiShan nonetheless felt more happiness and sadness.

o0o

Upon reaching the mountaintop, they saw eight horses tied by the front door. These horses don’t belong to Wu Dang. Zhang SongXi said, “There must be guests here. Let’s not bother them, and use the side door instead.” Zhang CuiShan held his wife and walked through the side door. When the priests and servants saw Zhang CuiShan back safely, they were all overjoyed. Zhang CuiShan really wanted to see his master. But the apprentice priest for Zhang SanFeng said that he’s still meditating in seclusion. Zhang CuiShan paid his respect in front of Zhang SanFeng’s meditation room. Then went to see Yu DaiYan.

The apprentice priest who served Yu DaiYan whispered, “Third Martial Uncle’s asleep. Do you want to wake him up?” Zhang CuiShan shook his head, and walked into the room. Only to see Yu DaiYan sleeping soundly, with pale face and sunken cheeks. A righteous hero ten years ago, had turned into a sick man seemingly on his last breath. Zhang CuiShan watched for a while, and tears came down his eyes.

After a long time, he finally walked out, and asked the apprentice priest, “Where’s your eldest and seventh martial uncles?” That apprentice priest said, “In the main hall.” Zhang CuiShan walked to the back room of the main hall to wait for them. After a long time, they still haven’t appeared. Zhang CuiShan finally asked the servant sending the tea, “Who are the guests?” That servant said, “They seem to be in the escort agency business.”

Yin LiTing wanted to be with his long lost brother, and soon joined Zhang CuiShan. When Zhang CuiShan asked him about those guests, Yin LiTing said, “All three are top agency leaders. ‘Tiger Den Escort Agency’ Leader Qi TianBiao from Jin Lian City, ‘Rising Sun Escort Agency’ Leader Yun He from Tai Yuan City, and the third is ‘Sparrow Cloud Escort Agency’ Leader Guan JiuJia from the capital city.”

Zhang CuiShan said with surprise, “All three of them came? Ten years ago, these are the most renowned escort agencies in the country. And their leaders have the best martial arts among escort leaders. Is that still true today? Why are they here?” Yin LiTing said with a smile, “They probably lost some shipments on one of their escort trips. The person who took their shipments is too powerful. So they came to ask big brother for help. Fifth brother, big brother has been helping more and more people recently. Every time someone has an unsolvable problem in the martial world, he’d ask for big brother’s help.”

Zhang CuiShan said, “Big brother has a heart of Buddha. He never turns down anyone’s request. I wonder if big brother looks older now?” Unable to further suppress his urge to see his big brother, Zhang CuiShan said, “Sixth brother, I’m going behind the screen to take a peek at him, ok?” He walked up and peeked into the main hall.

Only to see Song YuanQiao and Muo ShengGu sitting in two host seats. Song YuanQiao dressed as a priest, with a peaceful expression on his face. He looked similar to ten years ago, except there are some gray hairs on the side, and he looked chubbier. Song YuanQiao is not a priest. But since his master is a priest, and Wu Dang is a place of worship, he tends to wear a priest robe on Wu Dang Mountain. Muo ShengGu had already grown into an adult. Although only twenty-some years old, he had grown a long beard, and looked even older than Zhang CuiShan.

Only to hear Muo ShengGu say loudly, “My big brother is a man of his words. Are you saying that you don’t trust his reputation?” Zhang CuiShan thought, “Seventh brother’s temper hasn’t changed at all. I wonder what he’s arguing about?” He turned and looked at the guest seats. Three people sat there, each about fifty years old. One looked very fiery. One is tall and skinny, looking composed. The third one looked terribly sick, his face seemingly a dry root. Only to hear the tall thin man say, “Of course we trust Hero Song’s words. But can you tell us when Fifth Hero Zhang would be back?”

Zhang CuiShan thought, “So they came for me. Probably seeking my sworn brother’s location.” Only to hear Muo ShengGu say, “We seven brothers might not have great abilities, but we are proud of our righteous deeds. We thank our friends in the martial world for giving us the ‘Seven Heroes of Wu Dang’ title. Although we don’t really deserve it…” Zhang CuiShan thought, “After ten years, seventh brother’s much better at talking now. When I left, he would take forever answering questions from strangers. Other than third brother and I, everyone else has improved dramatically.”

Muo ShengGu continued, “but we have indeed been bestowed this honor. Due to our master’s teachings, none of us dared make any mistake. Fifth Brother Zhang is one of my brothers. Among us, he has the best temper. If you keep saying that he killed those people at the ‘Dragon Gate Escort Agency’, Humph, that’s just nonsense.” Zhang CuiShan shuddered, “So it’s about the Dragon Gate Escort Agency again. Looks like they’ve heard about me coming back, and came to question me on the matter.”

That fiery old man said, “No one questions the reputation of ‘The Seven Heroes of Wu Dang’. Seventh Hero Muo, you didn’t need to self-praise to tell us of your incredible fame.”

Muo ShengGu frowned at his sarcastic remark, said, “What do you really want, Leader Qi? Just go ahead and say it.”

That fiery man is indeed the leader of the ‘Tiger Den Escort Agency’, Qi TianBiao. Qi TianBiao said loudly, “The Seven Heroes of Wu Dang are men of their words. So did Shaolin Reverends lie? Shaolin monks personally saw Zhang CuiShan, Fifth ‘Hero’… Zhang, killed every member of the Dragon Gate Escort Agency.” He purposely emphasized the word ‘hero’, and said it in a mocking tone.

Yin LiTing was furious. Ridiculing his fifth brother is ten times more unbearable than mocking Yin LiTing himself. He was just about to go out and argue, when Zhang CuiShan pulled him back, and shook his head. Yin LiTing saw a painful expression on his face. He didn’t know what to make of it, but thought, “Fifth brother’s temper is so great. No wonder master always compliments him.”

Muo ShengGu stood up, and said loudly, “First of all, my fifth brother is currently not here. But even if he were, my answer is still the same. Zhang CuiShan and I are brothers in life and death. His problems are my problems. You have to falsely accuse my fifth brother on this murder charge? Fine! Just put it all on me. If you want revenge, come to me. My fifth brother is not here, but Muo ShengGu is also Zhang CuiShan. Zhang CuiShan is also Muo ShengGu. To be honest, my kung fu and intellect are both beneath my fifth brother. So you are quite lucky to meet me today.”

Qi TianBiao fumed, stood up and yelled, “Before coming to Wu Dang, many people laughed at me. They said that my kung fu was not worthy of challenging Wu Dang. But there’s no way we can simply forget what happened to Du DaJin and his people. After killing over Dragon Gate Escort Agency’s ninety-plus people, I’m sure Wu Dang won’t mind killing another Qi TianBiao. Looks like I will be dying on Wu Dang Mountain today. When we came up the mountain, out of respect for you, we carried no weapons. So I’ll seek my death under Seventh Hero Muo’s fists.” As he spoke, he walked to the center of the room.

Song YuanQiao had been quiet this whole time, but he stepped in at this moment, and held back Muo ShengGu. With a light smile, Song YuanQiao said, “Let’s look at the purpose of your visit. You came because you are certain that my fifth brother killed everyone in Lin An City’s Dragon Gate Escort Agency. Good news is, he will be back soon. Why don’t the three guests be a bit patient, wait till he’s actually back. Then wouldn’t the truth be revealed?”

That sick-looking old man, ‘Sparrow Cloud Escort Agency’ Leader Gong JiuGui, stood up and said, “Escort Leader Qi, please sit down. Since Fifth Zhang has still not returned, we can’t get a resolution. How about we first see Master Zhang, and ask his opinion. As the most esteemed individual in the martial world, surely he would be objective, and not just shield his own disciple.”

Despite his courteous tone, these words carried a threatening message. Muo ShengGu said, “Our master’s in seclusion right now for meditation. Besides, my big brother handles most of the Wu Dang matters now anyway. Other than some of the most highly esteemed individuals of the martial world, my master would not greet any guest.” In another words, he meant that the three escort leaders were not worthy of meeting their master.

That tall skinny man, Escort Leader Yun He, said, “Humph, what are the odds. So your master just happened to be meditating the same day we come, eh? Well, Master Zhang can meditate in seclusion whenever he wants. But does he think that by hiding, he can avoid the payment for the ninety-plus lives of the Dragon Gate Escort Agency?” Gong JiuGui realized that these words were too nasty, and quickly gestured for him to stop. But Muo ShengGu could not hold down his rage. He yelled, “Are you saying that my master’s hiding from you?” Yun He smirked, but did not respond.

Despite his good temper, Song YuanQiao could not bear these people mocking his master. No one in over ten years had dared to mock Zhang SanFeng in front of the Wu Dang heroes. Song YuanQiao said calmly, “Since the three are guests, we dare not offend you. However, I must ask you to leave now!” And with these words he whisked his sleeve. A light wind left the sleeve. The three teacups by Qi TianBiao, Yun He, and Gong JiuGui were swept by the wind, and flew onto the tea table besides Song YuanQiao. The three cups flew up leisurely, and landed evenly. Not a single drop of tea came out in the process.

The three escort leaders, at the moment Song YuanQiao whisked his sleeve, felt a seemingly soft, but actually powerful force pushing into their chests. The force was so dominating they couldn’t even breathe. The three immediately started to gather their inner chi in defense. But the soft wind came quickly, and left quickly, as they regained the ability to breathe again. The escort leaders were incredibly shocked. They knew that had Song YuanQiao followed up with a whisk of his left sleeve, the second wave of wind would have reversed the chi-flow that they gathered. Even if they don’t die from the reversed chi-flow, at least their inner power would be destroyed. From this one act, the three escort leaders realized that the soft-spoken eldest hero of Wu Dang has unbelievable martial arts.

In the back room, Zhang CuiShan thought about Yin SuSu’s murder of Dragon Gate Escort Agency again. He felt very remorseful about the act. When he suddenly saw Song YuanQiao’s whisk of the sleeve, Zhang CuiShan felt awed, and thought, “Wu Dang inner power really does grow quicker the more the practitioner trains. When my sworn brother wanted to kill big brother, big brother really had no chance. But today, even if my sworn brother weren’t blind, his martial arts wouldn’t be much better than big brother’s, if at all. In another ten years, my big and second brother should surpass my sworn brother.”

Only to hear Qi TianBiao say, “Thank you, Hero Song, for sparing our lives. Goodbye!” Song YuanQiao and Muo ShengGu sent them out the door. Qi TianBiao said, “No need see us out.” Song YuanQiao said, “It’s not often that such renowned escort leaders would visit Wu Dang. Why shouldn’t we escort you out? In the future, I’ll surely visit your agencies should I get the chance.” Qi TianBiao said, “Oh, you are too kind.” After Song YuanQiao showed off his martial prowess, his demeanor remained the same, with no arrogance. Qi TianBiao gained a lot more respect for this eldest Wu Dang hero, and had lost most of his urge for revenge.

At this moment, Qi TianBiao suddenly saw a short but gallant looking man walk in the front door. Song YuanQiao said, “Fourth brother, let me introduce you to these guests.” He then introduced everyone.

Zhang SongXi said, “The three came just in time. I have some items you might wish to see.” And he took out three small packets, and gave one to each person. Qi TianBiao asked, “What are these?” Zhang SongXi said, “This is not a good place to open them. You should look at the contents outside.” The three Wu Dang brothers then escorted the guests out the door.

Immediately afterwards, Muo ShengGu asked impatiently, “Fourth brother, where’s fifth brother? Did he not come back with you?” Zhang SongXi said, “Go back inside to see your fifth brother. Your big brother and I will wait for these three guests to return.” Muo ShengGu yelled, “Fifth brother’s inside? These three escort leaders are coming back? What do we do then?” In his haste to see Zhang CuiShan, Muo ShengGu didn’t even wait for Zhang SongXi’s explanation, and hurriedly inside.

Just as he went back to the main hall, the three escort leaders really did return. They immediately bowed to Zhang SongXi and Song YuanQiao, who quickly returned bows. Yun He said, “I finally know now that the Wu Dang heroes were my saviors. To think that I derided your Master Zhang… I feel incredibly ashamed.” As he spoke, Yun He picked up his hands, and slapped himself on the face ten times, until his face is pure red. Song YuanQiao doesn’t know what’s going on, and quickly stopped him.

Zhang SongXi said, “Escort Leader Yun is a true loyalist of China. All patriotic Chinese wish to get rid of those Mongols, and return China to its rightful owner. Helping in this regards is what people like us should do. No need to say thanks.”

Yun He said, “You saved my whole family, and everyone in my escort agency. To think that I had no clue these last five years. I really hope you two can hit me a few times, to lessen my emotional embarrassment.”

Zhang SongXi said with a smile, “Don’t worry too much about the past. Out of respect for your actions, I’m sure even master would not mind those words you just said.” But even so, Yun He still felt uneasy.

Song YuanQiao doesn’t know what’s going on, and simply said a few courteous words. Qi TianBiao and Gong JiuGui also thanked profusely, but Zhang SongXi didn’t seem to care much for them. He only had kind words to say for Yun He. The three escort leaders insisted on paying respects to Zhang SanFeng. They each bowed in front of Zhang SanFeng’s meditation room. Then insisted to see Muo ShengGu to apologize. After more apologies and words of thanks, the three finally left.

o0o

Afterwards, Zhang SongXi said, “Although they feel indebted to us, none of them spoke about the Dragon Gate Escort Agency. Looks like we still can’t resolve this issue.”

Song YuanQiao was about to ask what’s going on, when Zhang CuiShan came out from the back room. He yelled, “Big brother, I missed you so much.”

Song YuanQiao is a very mannerly person. So even though he’s meeting his long lost brother, and felt exuberant in his head, Song YuanQiao nonetheless simply bowed courteously, and said, “Fifth brother. You’ve finally come back.”

Before Zhang CuiShan could respond, Muo ShengGu asked impatiently, “Fifth brother. Didn’t you hear how rude those people are? You really do have a good temper. I would’ve taught them a lesson.” Zhang CuiShan sighed, and said, “It’s a long story. After I tell you all, we really should try to seek aneffective solution together.”

Yin LiTing said, “Don’t worry, fifth brother. The Dragon Gate Escort Agency failed in their duty to escort third brother safely back. Even if fifth brother really did kill them all, it would be because of your love for third brother, and so wouldn’t be that…”

Yu LianZhou yelled, “Sixth brother, are kind of nonsense are you speaking? If master hears these words, he’d lock you up for at least a month to repent. How can any of us kill a whole agency, including the elderly and the children?” The other brothers all looked at Zhang CuiShan. All saw the solemn expression on his face. After a while, Zhang CuiShan said, “I didn’t kill anyone in the Dragon Gate Escort Agency. I didn’t forget master’s teachings.”

Song YuanQiao and his fellow brothers all breathed a sigh of relief. They didn’t really believe that Zhang CuiShan could do such a thing. But Shaolin was just so adamant about it, even said that they witnessed the whole event. And when the three escort leaders came to question him, Zhang CuiShan did not speak up and claim his innocence. So all the brothers felt some uneasiness. Only when Zhang CuiShan spoke these words did they finally put to rest these nagging thoughts. They all thought, “There must be some problematic details that will make this hard to resolve. But as long as he didn’t kill them, everything will eventually be ok.”

With this thought, Muo ShengGu asked why those three escort leaders returned. Zhang SongXi said, “Among these three leaders, Yun He’s character is the best. Using his fame, Yun He helped organized many people in his region to rise against the Mongol government.” The other brothers immediately expressed their admiration for his actions.

Muo ShengGu said, “Never thought he’d some this type of a person. Hold your story until I come back…” As he spoke, Muo ShengGu quickly ran out the room.

Zhang SongXi stopped talking, and they asked Zhang CuiShan about Fire- Ice Island. When Zhang CuiShan spoke about the six months of mostly daylight, six months of mostly night, everyone gasped in astonishment. Zhang CuiShan said, “It’s hard to tell the directions on that island. The sun doesn’t exactly rise in the east.” He then talked about the different strange plants and animals on the island.

Muo ShengGu came back in the midst of his tale, said, “I went to apologize to Escort Leader Yun. Told him I respect him as an upright man.” Everyone knew this little brother’s straightforward temper, and had long figured that this was his reason for leaving.

Yin LiTing said, “Seventh brother. Fourth brother held off his tale for you. But fifth brother’s story about the Fire-Ice Island is even more exciting.” Muo ShengGu jumped up and said, “Really?” Zhang SongXi said, “Yun He had prepared everything in detail…” Muo ShengGu shook his hand, said, “Fourth brother. Terribly sorry, but can you hold on a moment…” Zhang CuiShan chuckled, and said, “Seventh brother doesn’t want to miss out on anything.” So he repeated his tale about the Fire-Ice Island. Afterwards, Muo ShengGu said, “Odd, so odd! Fourth brother, you can speak now.”

Zhang SongXi said, “Yun He prepared everything in detail. At the right moment, he’d start the rebellion. But a major participant was a traitor. Three days before the rebellion would start, this traitor took the list of rebel names to the government.”

Muo ShengGu yelled, “Oh, no!”

Zhang SongXi said, “There was some coincidence involved. I had a beef with the mayor of his home city Tai Yuan. That night when I entered the mayor’s mansion, I saw that traitor and the mayor having a secret discussion. I heard their plan to give this info to the national government, and to put down the rebellion using troops. So I went into their room and killed both people. Then took the list of names and returned to Wu Dang. When they found the list of names missing, Yun He and his cohorts knew how terrible the consequences would be. Not only can they not start the rebellion now, but every person on that list would in grave danger. They wanted to send a message to all people involved, but the city gate was closed for the night already. The next morning, the city gate remained closed due to the mayor’s assassination. Yun He and his cohorts were sweating out the situation, as their crime would mean execution of their families, plus the families of their friends on the list. But as the days passed, everything remained fine. Since the police could not capture the assassin, this whole thing eventually passed away. When Yun He found out that the traitor died in the mayor’s mansion, he thought that someone helped him. But didn’t realize it was me. Yin LiTing said, “I bet you gave him the list of names in that packet, right?” Zhang SongXi said, “That’s correct.”

Muo ShengGu said, “What about Gong JiuGui? How did you help him?”

Zhang SongXi said, “Gong JiuGui’s kung fu is certainly quite formidable, but his character’s not nearly as good as Yun He. Six years ago, he escorted a shipment to the Yun Nan province. At the city of Kun Ming, he took an order of jewelry worth about six hundred thousand taels of silver. Which he needed to escort back to the capital city of Da Du. But he encountered a problem in the Jiang Xi Province. When passing by the city of Po Yang, three of the ‘Four Brothers of Po Yang’ attacked him, and took his jewelry. Not even Gong JiuGui’s entire fortune comes close to the worth of these jewels. Besides, this failed delivery would surely destroy his reputation. After pondering for a while in the inn, he wanted to commit suicide.

“‘The Four Brothers of Po Yang’ are certainly not bandits. So why did they take these jewels? You see, the eldest brother got in trouble with the law, and landed on death row in prison. About to be executed, his three brothers tried twice to bust him out of prison. They failed both times, and the prison became even more closely guarded. Knowing that officials are corrupt, the three brothers wanted to bribe them using this jewelry, to lessen their big brother’s crimes. I was moved by their friendship, and helped sneak their big brother out of prison. In return, I asked them to give Gong JiuGui his jewelry. Gong JiuGui might not be the greatest person in the world, but haven’t really done anything bad in his life. He didn’t befriend any officials in Da Du, nor ever oppress the poor. So I figured his life was worth saving. I told ‘The Four Brothers of Po Yang’ not to mention my name, just leave me the jewelry bag. So when I handed him the bag, Gong JiuGui understood what had happened.”

Yu LianZhou said, “You did the right thing, fourth brother.”

Muo ShengGu said, “Fourth brother, what did you give Qi TianBiao?” Zhang SongXi said, “I gave him nine ‘Soul-Splitting Centipede Darts’.” The five listeners all gasped. ‘Soul-Splitting Centipede Dart’ is very famous in the martial world. It’s the hidden weapon used by the rich aristocrat Wu YiMang.

Zhang SongXi said, “Thinking back, I was too reckless when I dealt with this situation. That day, while Qi TianBiao was escorting a shipment, he offended a disciple of Wu YiMang. The two fought, with Qi TianBiao seriously injuring that disciple with a punch. Qi TianBiao immediately realized that he’s in trouble after landing this punch. So he quickly completed the shipment, and hurriedly back to his hometown Jin Ling, where he can ask several friends for help. But unfortunately, Wu YiMang caught him up at Luo Yang city, and challenged him to a duel at the city’s western gate.” Yin LiTing said, “Wu YiMang’s kung fu is very good. Qi BiaoTing is not his match.”

Zhang SongXi said, “You’re right. Qi TianBiao knew this too. So he asked the Qiao brothers of Luo Yang to help him. The Qiao brothers agreed immediately, and said, ‘You should know that with our kung fu ability, we are no match for Wu YiMang. So you just want us there for support. Don’t worry, we will arrive on time.’”

Muo ShengGu said, “The Qiao brothers are hidden weapon experts. With their help, three against one, they might have a chance. But did Wu YiMang get any help?”

Zhang SongXi said, “No. But something happened to the Qiao brothers. The next morning, Qi TianBiao went to the Qiao brothers’ house to discuss battle plans. But the servant said that the brothers had left town for an emergency. Qi TianBiao was furious. Several years before, Qi TianBiao helped the brothers out of a major dilemma. He didn’t expect these brothers to sneak away during his moment of need. Knowing Wu YiMang’s merciless ways, Qi TianBiao knew he would not survive this encounter. He wrote a will and gave it to a subordinate. Then went to the west gate for the appointment.”

“Of course, I saw everything. So that day I disguised myself as a beggar, and sat under a tree outside the west gate. Wu YiMang and Qi TianBiao came one after the other. Soon after they started fighting, Wu YiMang used his ‘Soul-Splitting Centipede Dart’. Qi TianBiao knew he couldn’t evade it, and simply closed his eyes to wait for death. I swooped in at this moment, and caught the dart. Wu YiMang was shocked and furious. He asked if I were a member of the Beggar’s Clan. I just smiled in silence. He then fired eight more darts. I caught every single one. His darts really were quite powerful. But if I had used Wu Dang skills, catching them would still be easy. However, I didn’t want him to know who I am. So I pretended to have a crippled left leg and right arm. Then using only my left hand, I caught them all using Shaolin skills. The seventh dart was a really close call, as the tip narrowly missed my palm. Wu YiMang really did thought I was a Shaolin disciple, and asked which divine reverend was my master. I pretended to be a deaf-mute, and just muttered some nonsensical stuff. Knowing that he couldn’t defeat me, Wu YiMang went away angrily. He never left home after that event.”

Muo ShengGu shook his head and said, “Fourth brother, Wu YiMang might be a bad guy, but Qi TianBiao isn’t a good guy either. Why did you risk saving him?”

Zhang SongXi said, “I was just felt nosy at the time. Besides, I also didn’t know the prowess of Wu YiMang’s darts.”

Being a straightforward person, Muo ShengGu didn’t figure out Zhang SongXi’s reasoning. But Zhang CuiShan did so immediately. His fourth brother did all this to lessen the hatred for him, due to the Dragon Gate Escort Agency murder. Zhang SongXi knew the importance of these three escort leaders. Should there ever be any problems with the escort agencies, these three people would surely represent them. So Zhang SongXi purposely helped them beforehand in case of an event like this. Despite looking like ‘coincidences’, Zhang SongXi must’ve spent countless hours waiting for these events to occur.

Zhang CuiShan said, “Fourth brother, you and I are closer than blood brothers. I won’t need to say the word ‘thanks’ to you. This whole incident, unfortunately, was all caused by your fifth sister-in-law.” Then he told what exactly happened at the Dragon Gate Escort Agency that night. At the end, he said, “Fourth brother, do you know how we should resolve this?”

Zhang SongXi thought for a while, then said, “I have to ask the master first. But we can’t bring the dead back alive. Fifth sister-in-law has also changed her ways. A person who has corrected his mistakes should be given a second chance. Big brother, don’t you think so too?”

Song YuanQiao hesitated a moment, due to the severity of a ninety-plus murder case. But Yu LianZhou nodded and said, “I agree!”

Yin LiTing was most afraid of second brother. He knew that big brother has a soft heart, and can be easily persuaded. But second brother is cold and objective, and might be too harsh on fifth sister-in-law. Yin LiTing didn’t know that Yu LianZhou had already heard this story. He had long forgiven Yin SuSu. Seeing his second brother’s nod, Yin LiTing said happily, “Yeah, if others ask. Fifth brother can just say that he wasn’t the murderer, and nothing else. He wouldn’t be lying this way either.” Song YuanQiao said in a scolding tone, “How could fifth brother purposely hide the truth like that? This is not an option.” Yin LiTing asked, “Then what do we do?”

Song YuanQiao said, “In my opinion, after master’s birthday. We should first find fifth brother’s son. Then we’ll have the gathering at the Yellow Crane Restaurant. After taking care of the Xie Xun issue, us six brothers, plus fifth sister-in-law, will go down to the south. Each of us will do ten good deeds within three years.” Zhang SongXi said, “Good idea. If we could save one or two hundred people, we can partially make up for these deaths.” Yu LianZhou said, “I like this idea. There’s no point in further punishing fifth sister-in-law. Even her death wouldn’t solve any problem.”

Zhang CuiShan was exhilarated at the solution. He said, “Let me tell SuSu.” He then told his wife what Song YuanQiao proposed, and that his brothers would look for WuJi after their master’s birthday.

Yin SuSu’s illness was due to the loss of WuJi anyway. So these words settled her down a great deal. She thought that with the Six Heroes of Wu Dang’s abilities, they could surely find WuJi. Zhang CuiShan then went to see Yu DaiYan. The brothers both felt joy and sadness as they reunited.

End of Chapter 9 
@Chapter 10 - Hundred Years Celebration Brings Heartbreak
After the passage of a few days, it was already the eighth day of the fourth month. Tomorrow will be Zhang SanFeng's one hundredth year birthday and he knew that his disciples most definitely would have prepared a festive celebration. Because Yu DaiYan was crippled and Zhang CuiShan was missing, there would undoubtedly be lack amongst their celebration. Yet, in one's time, to be able to celebrate your one hundredth birthday was nevertheless considered as something special. Furthermore, during this period, he has also entered isolated meditation in order to study the practice of the “Tai Chi Skill” and had already fully comprehended its true essence. From now on, the sect of Wu Dang can fully exhibit its colours within the martial arts world, not being inferior to even the martial arts of Shaolin that was passed down from Northern India's DaMo. Therefore during the early dawn of that morning, Zhang SanFeng exited from his isolation.

A clear whistling sound was heard as his sleeve fluttered slightly and the two door boards opened up with an “ah” sound. The first thing that Zhang SanFeng saw wasn’t anything or anybody else, but was rather the disciple he had thought and yearned for endlessly during the last ten years, Zhang CuiShan.

Zhang SanFeng closed his eyes, believing that his eyes must have played a trick on him. But Zhang CuiShan had already thrown himself into Zhang SanFeng’s embrace, repeatedly crying out the words, “Master!” In the midst of his emotional state, he had actually forgotten to kneel down and perform obeisance. Five joyful voices coming from Song YuanQiao and the others cried out together, “Congratulations master! Fifth brother has returned to us!”

Zhang SanFeng has lived a total of one hundred years and has seek enlightenment for more than eighty years now. The clarity of pure truth had long existed within the depths of his heart, for he has long ago forsaken all traces of longing or desire for the millions of material objects of the world. But the love he shared with his seven disciples was as genuine as that of a father and son, thus when he suddenly saw Zhang CuiShan reappear in front of him, he couldn’t help himself from holding him tightly within his embrace. He was so overwhelmed with joy that tears emerged from his eyes.

The group of brothers all attended to their Master, serving him in his grooming and cleansing, bringing him a clean set of clothing. Zhang CuiShan did not dare to report any sort of news that would excite anger, and therefore only talked about the exotic adventures and rare entities of the Ice- Fire Island. Zhang SanFeng having heard that Zhang CuiShan had already married became even more joyful and asked, “Where is your wife now? Quickly bring her here to see me.”

Zhang CuiShan knelt down on the floor and said, “Master, your worthless disciple has dared to take a wife without first gaining your permission.” Zhang SanFeng stroked his beard and laughingly replied, “You were stranded on the Ice-Fire Island for ten years, unable to return home. Are you suppose to wait ten years and reported to me before you could take a wife? What a silly, silly assertion! Quickly get up, there is no need to admit to any wrong. Zhang SanFeng does not have such a old-fashioned disciple.” Zhang CuiShan continued to kneel, refusing to get up, “But my wife is not of an orthodox background. She … she is the daughter of Heavenly Eagle sect’s sect-leader.”

Zhang SanFeng continues to stroke his beard and said with a laugh, “And what matter is that? As long as your wife’s character is honest and her heart is good, then that is all that matters. Even if she is not a good person, having arrived here at our mountain, can we not slowly change and guide her towards good? So what if she is from the Heavenly Eagle sect? CuiShan, you have to understand that in life one should always take caution to never have a heart that is too restricted in breadth. You must never look down on others just because you reside in the position of the so-called orthodox sects. The two words of “good” and “evil” were originally hard to differentiate. A member of the orthodox sect when harbouring thoughts of impurity and immorality will be considered as a wicked villain, and similarly if a member from the evil sect harbours a heart that is completely directed towards goodness, then that person is a gentleman.” Zhang CuiShan was overjoyed, for he never would have thought that the very burden which had weighted heavily upon his heart for the last ten years could be so easily resolved by just a few words from his master. A beaming smile immediately lighted up Zhang CuiShan’s face as he stood up.

Zhang SanFeng continued to say, “Your father-in-law, sect-master Yin is a person whom I have wanted to make acquaintances with for very long now. I am truly respectful towards his powerful martial arts and the fact that he is a brave, forthright and extraordinary man. Although his character is somewhat extreme and his actions may be a bit peculiar, yet he is not a despicable scoundrel. We can certainly make friends with him.” Song YuanQiao and the others thought to themselves, “Master really does treat fifth brother with profound love. He even went as far as extending his love towards all those under brother's roof, willing to make acquaintances with a big demonic lord like his father-in-law.” At this moment, a young Taoist apprentice came in and reported, “Heavenly Eagle sect's Sect-Master Yin has sent somebody here to deliver presents to Uncle Zhang.”

Zhang SanFeng said with a smile, “Your father-in-law has sent you presents CuiSan, go out to receive your guests!” Zhang Cui Shan replied, “Yes.”

Yin LiTing said, “I'm going with fifth brother.” Zhang SongXi laughed and said, “But it’s not Golden Whip Hero old master Jie who has sent the presents, why must you follow out with such haste?” Yin LiTing’s face flushed a beet red while he continued to follow Zhang CuiShan outside.

Upon entering the main reception room, they saw two old men standing there dressed in the attire of a servant, with straight cloth hats. As soon as they saw Zhang CuiSan come out, they immediately rushed forward and knelt down together in an act of reverence while saying, “Young master, many blessings to you. We, your humble servants Yin WuFu, Yin WuLu bow down to you.” Zhang CuiShan returned the greeting by raising his joined hands and saying, “Housekeepers, please do get up” while silently thinking to himself, “The names of these two servants are so strange. The typical servant is usually given a name that blesses the house by containing words along the lines of ‘providence, well-being, blessings, opulence, longevity and happiness'. Why is it that these two people are called ‘the un- blest', and the 'un-prosperous’?” Zhang CuiShan then subsequently noticed that on Yin WuFu’s face was an extremely long scar left by a saber, stretching from the right corner of his forehead all the way downwards, passing over the tip of the nose and stopping at the far left corner of his lips. Yin WuLu's face on the other hand was filled with pockmarks. These two men looked to be more than fifty years old, their appearances were extremely ugly and unpleasant.

Zhang CuiShan continued to say, “Are my father and mother-in-law well? I was originally planning to engage in a little preparation before your mistress and I immediately went to pay our respects to our honoured loved ones. But I never expected that father and mother would pay us a visit first, how can I be worthy of such generosity? The two of you must be extremely tired having travelled such a far distance, please take a seat and have a cup of tea.” Yin WuFu and Yin WuLu did not dare to sit down, but only came forward and respectfully presented the checklist for the gifts while saying, “Our master and madam said to tell you that these are merely meagre and humble presents, we hope that young master can accept them with pleasure.”

Zhang CuiShan said, “Thank you!” and opened the checklist of gifts. He was shocked to see that on the ten or so pieces of darkly coloured gold paper were listed a total of more than two hundred gifts. The first listed gift was “Exquisite jade lions - a pair,” the second was “Emerald phoenix - a pair” and after the listings of an endless number of treasures was “High Grade Purple Wolf Drawing Brushes – one hundred pieces,” “Imperial tributes, Tang dynasty ink – 20 slabs,” “Xuan1 paper made with Mulberry worm silk

– a hundred sheets” “Top Quality Duan2 Ink-Stones – 8 squares.” Because the master of the Heavenly Eagle Sect heard that his honoured guest was well-versed in the art of writing, he thus sent over an extremely expensive pile of pens, ink, paper and ink stone. On top of that were clothes, shoes, crowns and belts. Yin WuFu turned around to exit the room, only to return with ten baggage carriers, every one of them carrying two loads balanced on a shoulder pole, which they placed to the sides of the room.

Zhang CuiShan was silently fretting to himself, “I grew up in a simple abode amongst the humble mountainous environment. What use do I have for these expensive gifts? Yet these gifts were bestowed by my father-in-law and brought here from afar, it would be too disrespectful if I don’t accept it.” Therefore he could only express words of gratitude and accept the gifts while saying “Your young mistress has contracted a slight illness through the arduous journey. Perhaps you can reside on the mountain for a few days before you see her?” Yin WuFu replied, “Master and madam are both extremely desirous to hear about young mistress, they commanded us to report back to them right away. If it is not too straining for young mistress, your humble servant I would like to request just one look at her and then we will retreat immediately.”

Zhang CuiShan replied, “If that is the case, then please wait here for a moment” while he returned to his room and told his wife about the situation. Yin SuSu was extremely happy and briefly fixed her hair before going out to the smaller reception rooms to reunite with her two family members. While she asked about her father, mother and brother’s well being, she also invited these two servants for a meal and some drinks. Afterwards, Yin WuFu and Yin WuLu asked their young master and mistress for the permission to leave.

Zhang CuiShan thought to himself, “Father and mother-in-law sent us such generous gifts, I should really grant a hefty reward to these two people. Yet I’m afraid that even if I gathered together all the money on this mountain, its meagre sum would still be hardly worthy of a mention.” Zhang CuiShan was by nature magnanimous and therefore does not take such matters to heart. With a laugh, he said instead, “Your young mistress has married a penniless master who can’t afford to grant you any rewards. Housekeepers, please do excuse us.” Yin WuFu replied, “Please do not say such things young master. To have the opportunity to meet the fifth hero of Wu Dang is my greatest pleasure and is a honour worth much more than a reward of a thousand pounds of gold.” Zhang CuiShan thought to himself, “This housekeeper expresses and enunciates his words with such poetic eloquence, he seems to be a person with an academic background.” When they arrived at the median gates, Yin WuFu said, “Young master, please cease your steps here. We hope that you and young mistress will arrive to our home as soon as possible in order to lessen master and madam’s longing. The whole sect will also be anticipating the day when they can be granted with a glimpse of your charisma.” Zhang CuiShan laughed.

Yin WuLu said, “There is still one little thing that I need to report to you young master. When my brothers and I were delivering the presents to the mountain, we encountered three escorts gathered within an inn in the town of Xiang Yang. Amongst the conversation of these three men, there was mention of you.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Oh? What did they say?” Yin WuLu said, “one man said, ‘although we are much indebted to the seven heroes of Wu Dang, yet the seventy odd lives of the Dragon Gate Escort Agency cannot be forgotten just like that.’ The three of them decided that since they themselves cannot participate in this incident, they therefore wanted to go to the KaiFeng City’s Sacred Spear Ruling Eight Directions, Old hero Tan to stand out and dispute over this incident with you young master.” Zhang Cui Shan nodded his head and did not say anything.

Yin WuFu reached inside his pockets and took out three small flags which he then presented to Zhang Cui Shan with both hands and said, “When your humble servants overheard that these three escorts were daring to dig up on the land governed by the Earth God3, this incident is already considered as the business of our Heavenly Eagle Sect.”

As soon as he saw the three small flags, Zhang CuiShan could help but be taken back for he saw embroidered on one flag the head of a vivacious tiger, roaring fiercely towards the heavens while in a crouching position. It was obviously the flag that represented the “Crouching Tiger Escort Agency.” Embroidered on the second small flag was a white crane soaring through the clouds, which would naturally be the agency flag that symbolized the “JinYang Escort Agency” for the white crane amongst the white clouds symbolized the head escort Yun He4. As for the third small flag, there were nine swallows embroidered with gold thread, incorporating the word “Swallow” in “Cloud Swallow Escort Agency” and the “Nine” in their head

5

escort Gong JiuJia’s name.

Zhang CuiShan asked with curiosity, “Why did you take their escort flags?” Yin WuFu replied, “Young master, you are the Heavenly Eagle sect’s honoured guest, who did Qi TianBiao and Gong JiuJia think they were? Especially since the seven heroes of Wu Dang has performed good deeds for them before, how dare they go to ask an old bloke such as the so-called “Sacred Spear Ruling Eight Directions” Tan RuiLai from the KaiFeng City to come and pester young master you? Is that not ridiculous? Therefore when we heard the three escorts’ offensive words of disrespect …” Zhang CuiShan remarked, “Those words really can’t be considered as being particularly disrespectful.” Yin WuFu said, “Yes, but that is because young master you are so magnanimous and forgiving, such is something that others cannot compare with. But my brothers and I really could not restrain ourselves from taking care of those three escorts and seizing the escort flags of their agencies.”

Zhang CuiShan was greatly taken back as he thought about how people like Qi TianBiao were all lords that ruled over the escort agencies of a region and who have long made a name for themselves within the martial arts world. Even though they can’t be considered as great or ultimate figures of the martial arts world, yet they all had their own unique abilities. How can it be that the three servants of his father-in-law’s household can calmly say with such ease that they have ‘taken care of them’? However, even if Yin WuFu was just boasting for show, yet they were indeed able to obtain the three agencies’ escort flags. Forget just taking it from right under their eyes, but even to steal it secretly would prove itself to be a hard task. Can it be that they used some kind of tranquilizing sedative or soporific incense at the inn to harm the three heads escorts? Thus he asked, “How were you able to obtain these three escort flags?”

Yin WuFu replied, “At that time, my second brother WuLu was the one who issued the challenge. We set up a time to meet with them at the Southern gates of Xiang Yang for a duel. It was the three of us up against the three of them. We’ve already stated before that if they lose, they must leave behind their escort flags and chop off one of their arms, while also promising to never step foot back into the Wu Bei Province for the rest of their lives.” Zhang CuiShan was becoming increasingly perplexed as he listened, no longer did he dared to take the two servants in front of him lightly. He asked, “Then what happened?” Yin WuFu replied, “Nothing much. They just left behind their escort flags, severed their left arm and stated that they will not take one step back into the Wu Bei Province for the rest of their lives.”

Zhang CuiShan was secretly frightened as he thought, “These Heavenly Eagle Sect members are much too vicious in their ways” while his eyebrows knotted together unconsciously. Yin WuLu said, “If young master you are displeased with your unworthy servants for issuing too light of a punishment, then we can immediately go after them to finish the three of them off.” Zhang Cui Shan hurriedly insisted, “No! Not light at all. It’s severe enough already!” Yin WuFu said, “We also felt that because the purpose of our trip was to bring gifts to young master you, it is therefore a very wonderful and joyous event. If we killed any lives, it may ruin such a blessed event.” Zhang CuiShan said, “That’s right. How very thoughtful and considerate of you all. You just said that there were three of you who came, but where is that third person now?” Yin WuFu replied, “There is still

6another brother called Yin W  After we took care of the three escorts,

we were worried that the Sacred Spear old fool Tan would finally hear of the news and would still dare to come forward and bother young master you, therefore Yin WuShou has gone to KaiFeng City. He asks your humble servant I to express his regards on his behalf.” After saying this, he knelt down to the floor and bowed.

Zhang CuiShan also gave a bow in return of the gesture and said, “That’s much too kind of him” while thinking to himself that this Sacred Spear Ruling Eight Directions Tan RuiLai’s name has always been well-known and respected for it has been almost forty years since he established a name for himself. Now because of him, Yin WuShou will go barging into the KaiFeng City. Regardless of whomever may be hurt, it will still cause him to be ridden with guilt. Thus he said, “I have long since heard the great name of the Sacred Spear Ruling Eight Directions, they say that old master Tan is a true gentleman. I would like to ask the two of you to please go to the KaiFeng City and to tell brother WuShou not to quarrel with old master Tan anymore incase the two sides get into an argument and subsequently start a fight, which I’m afraid will yield disasterous results.”

Yin WuLu smiled ever so faintly and said , “Young master, there’s no need to worry. That old fool Tan won’t dare to meddle with my youngest brother. When my brother tells him not to stick his nose into this business, he will listen to his orders.” Zhang CuiShan murmured a “Really?” while silently asking himself how can this Sacred Spear Ruling Eight Directions Tan RuiLai possibly allow himself to be so easily bullied? Even if he may be an old man now, yet within the KaiFeng City, the Tan family has at least one or two dozen disciples who are highly skilled in martial arts, why would they be scared of a Yin WuShou? Yin WuFu could read the skeptical incredulity on Zhang CuiShan's face, therefore said, “The old bloke Tan was defeated by Yin WuShou twenty years ago, besides he also has some major discreditable information in our hands now. Please take care now young master.” The two of them then paid their final respects and departed.

Zhang CuiShan stood there clutching the three escort flags within his hands, debating for a moment. He originally wanted to send these two people to help him out in his search for WuJi's current whereabouts. But when he thought to how mentioning this incident to an outsider might prove to be unwise for although he did not place much importance on his own name, yet it would still no doubt affect his second brother's eminent reputation. Therefore he could only slowly tread back to his bedroom.

Yin SuSu was lying on the bed rereading through the checklist of presents, overwhelmed with gratitude at the love her parents had shown towards her. But when she thought to how at this moment, WuJi's whereabouts were still unknown, she was also overwhelmed with a burning heartache. When she saw her husband enter the room with an fretful expression, she immediately asked with alarm, “What's wrong?”

Zhang CuiShan asked, “What are the backgrounds of those three people WuFu, WuLu and WuShou?” Yin SuSu has been married to her husband for ten years now, but because she knew that within his heart, there always existed discontent towards the Heavenly Eagle sect, she therefore purposely refrained from relating to him the details of her family and the sect's background. Similarly, Zhang CuiShan would never ask her. Now only when she heard her husband ask her himself, did she finally say, “Twenty years ago, these three people were actually great bandits that ruled over the Southwestern regions. But one time, they were surrounded by many powerful fighters all at once and knew that they were not going to be able to escape. At that time, my father happened to pass by and when he saw how in the midst of their hopeless battle, they still manage to uphold their integrity and refused to surrender, my father therefore lent out a helping hand and rescued them. The three of them originally had different surnames, so of course they weren’t brothers. But in order to prove their gratefulness towards my father for saving their lives, they thus solemnly vowed that for their rest of their lives, they will act as his servant and will cast off their original names and change it to Yin WuFu, Yin WuLu and Yin WuShou instead. Ever since I was small, I would be very courteous towards them and dared not to treat or view them as real servants. My father told me that in terms of martial arts and fame, there probably would be few famed fighters of the martial arts world who could compete with them.”

Zhang CuiShan nodded and said, “I see” before describing the incident of how they decapitated other people’s right arm and seized another's escort flag. Yin SuSu’s scowled and said, “Their intentions were originally good, but they don’t understand that the disciples of the orthodox sects do things differently from the evil sects. CuiShan, I’m afraid that incident has caused you more trouble, I … I really don’t know what to do about this.” After a sigh, she continued, “After we find WuJi, I think we had better return to the Ice-Fire Island.” When she suddenly heard Yan LiTing call from outside the door, “Brother, come and flex your writing skills for us to write a pair of birthday celebratory phrases” he laughed before continuing, “Sister, don’t blame me for dragging brother away from you, but he is after all the ‘Iron Brush, Silver Hook.’”

That afternoon, the six brothers split up, supervising and giving commands to the culinary help, while the little Taoist apprentices cleaned around and decorated the whole Purple Paradise Hall. The celebratory words that Zhang CuiShan penned were also displayed within the main reception hall. Everywhere was filled with a celebratory atmosphere.

o0o

During the early dawn of the next day, Song YuanQiao and his brothers all changed into a newly tailored set of clothing and were all just about to go and assist Yu DaiYan so that the seven of them could go to their master as a group to offer their birthday blessings, when suddenly an Taoist apprentice came in and presented a calling card. It was Song YuanQiao who took the invitation but Zhang SongXi’s eyes were quick and saw that written on the card were the words, “Ku Lun Sect students He TaiChong accompanied by his disciples wishes master Zhang longevity comparable with the mountains.” Zhang SongXi exclaimed with alarm, “The sect master of Kun Lun has personally come to celebrate master’s birthday? When did he arrive in the Central Plains?” Muo ShengGu asked, “Did Madam He come as well?” He TaiChong’s wife Ban ShuXian was his martial arts sister, and rumour has it that the level of her martial arts were not below the likes of the sect master. Zhang SongXi said, “Her name is not listed on the calling card.” Song YuanQiao said, “This guest is of great stature and importance, we should ask master to personally receive him” as he hurriedly ran out to report to Zhang SanFeng.

Zhang SanFeng said, “I have heard that Mister Iron Zither very rarely comes to the Central Plains, I can’t believe that he would even be aware of this old man’s birthday.” He then quickly stepped outside while bringing his six disciples along with him. When they saw Mister Iron Zither He TaiChong, they found that he did not look to be of a particularly old age. Dressed in a yellow gown, there was a sort of celestial holiness to his appearance. His expression was peaceful while also not lacking the solemn dignity the sect master of a famous Orthodox sect should have. Behind him stood a group of eight disciples comprised of male and female, XiHua Zi and Wei SiNiang were also included within the group. He TaiChong performed obeisance and expressed birthday blessings to Zhang SanFeng. Zhang San Feng continually expressed gratitude and raised his hands to form a representation of greeting in return. Song YuanQiao and his five brothers all knelt down and bowed their heads to the ground, while He Tai Chong also knelt and bowed in return while saying, “The fame of the six heroes of Wu Dang spreads through the universe, how can I be worthy of such a generous act of respect?”

Zhang SanFeng led He TaiChong and his disciples into the main reception hall, and just when the host and guests had the chance to sit down and have tea be served, a young Taoist apprentice came in with a calling card in hand, presenting it to Song YuanQiao. It announced that the Kong Tong 5 elders have all arrived together. During the present era's martial arts world, the sects Shaolin and Wu Dang had the most illustrious recognition. E-Mei followed after them, and then came Kong Tong. In terms of status and rank, the likes of the Kong Tong five elders were on the same level as Song YuanQiao. But Zhang San Feng was extremely gracious by nature, thus he stood up and said, “The Kong Tong five elders have arrived. Brother He, please wait here for a short while this old priest goes out to receive the guests.”

He TaiChong thought to himself, “To receive guests like the Kong Tong 5 elders, just sending out a disciple is good enough.”

Not soon after, the Kong Tong elders entered accompanied by their disciples. After that, the Heavenly Fists School, Sea Salt Sect, Huge Whale Clan, Wu Shan Clan and many figures of eminence and importance from other schools and clans have also arrived on the mountain to express their blessings for the birthday. Song YuanQiao and his brothers had originally intended for this day to be a celebration between their master and his disciples, they never expected that so many guests would arrive as well. Each of the six disciples were all bustling around, receiving guests without a moment’s chance to rest. What Zhang SanFeng disliked the most throughout his life were these unnecessary rites and customs, thus during his seventy, eighty and ninetieth birthday, he would purposely remind his disciples to not alarm outsiders. But ironically on his one hundredth birthday, the fundamental core of the marital arts world would be gathered together here. It eventually got to be that within the Purple Paradise Hall, there wasn’t even enough chairs for the guests to sit in. Song YuanQiao could only send people to go outside to bring in some round rocks and closely packed them together amongst the hall. The sect masters and clan leaders of the various sects and clans were all afforded a chair, but their disciples could only sit on the rocks. All the teacups were used, and they could only resort to using rice bowls and meal bowls to serve the tea.

Zhang SongXi pulled Zhang CuiShan into the side rooms before asking, “Brother, have you noticed anything?” Zhang CuiShan replied, “They've all planned beforehand to meet here. Although they were fully aware of what to expect, and confident about who they will see, yet some people would purposely feign surprised and end up making their masquerade all the more obvious.” Zhang SongXi said, “That’s right. They did not come with true intentions of celebrating master’s birthday.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Celebrating the birthday is just their excuse, when a planned interrogation comprises their true intentions.” Zhang SongXi said, “But they’re not trying to interrogate master. The case of the Dragon Gate Escort Agency will very unlikely have the power of bringing Mr. Iron Zither He TaiChong to here.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Yes. These people are all here because of the Golden Mane Lion King Xie Xun.”

Zhang SongXi laughed coldly and said, “It seems that they’ve grossly underestimated the Wu Dang disciples. Even if they wanted to intimidate us with sheer numbers, did they think that a Wu Dang disciple would sell out their own friend? Brother, even if this Xie Xun is indeed a malicious and unforgivable crook, he is nevertheless your sworn brother. His whereabouts most definitely cannot be revealed through your lips.” Zhang CuiShan agreed, “You’re absolutely right brother. But what should we do now?” Zhang SongXi pondered briefly before saying, “We could only be on our guards for now. As long as we brothers stick and stand by each other, our combined strengths can shatter through solid gold. What big waves and storms haven’t the Seven Heroes of WuTang experienced? Why would we be afraid of them?” Although Yu DaiYan was crippled, he was still considered as a part of the “Seven Heroes of Wu Tang,” and behind the seven brothers, there still stood a grand Master Zhang SanFeng whose martial arts brilliancy can illuminate and astound the past and present, crowning and eclipsing over his contemporaries. It was just that the two brothers were being considerate of the fact that their master has now reached the advanced age of a hundred, thus even though the situation in front of them right now was extremely complicated, yet all the brothers still hoped to handle everything by themselves. Naturally, they wouldn't want to have their master take action himself, yet they also wouldn't want him to worry. Zhang SongXi's words were an attempt at reassuring his martial arts brother, but within his heart he knew that today's problem would be a very complicated matter. To protect the sect's well-being today will truly prove to be very difficult challenge.

Back within the main reception hall, Song YuanQiao, Yu LianZhou and Yin LiTing were all accompanying the guests, engaging in light conversation. The three of them had already recognized that something was not right about the guests and were all estimating about the situation within their hearts.

In the midst of the conversations, another young apprentice came in and reported, “Disciples of the E-Mei sect, revered nun JingXuan along with five of her fellow martial art brothers and sisters have arrived to celebrate Grand Master's birthday.” Song YuanQiao and Yu LianZhou both laughed at the same time while looking over at Yin LiTing. At that time Muo ShengGu was currently outside, accompanying the eight or nine guests into the direction of the reception hall. Zhang SongXi and Zhang CuiShan happened to be stepping out from the inner rooms right at that moment, and when they heard that the E-Mei disciples had arrived, they also grin slightly at Yin LiTing. Yin LiTing's face was beet red, while his motions betrayed his shyness. Zhang CuiShan grabbed his hand and said while laughing, “Come, come, come, let's go and welcome our guests.”

As they both stepped out of the doors, they immediately saw this revered nun Jing Xuan was a nun already in her mid forties, built tall and sturdy, and possessing of a very commanding and arresting presence. Even though she was a female, yet she was taller than the average male by half a head. Amongst the five disciples standing behind her, there was a thin man in his mid thirties and two other nuns. Zhang CuiShan has already encountered revered nun Jing Xuan the other day on the boat amongst the sea. There were two other girls in their twenties, one's lips were pursed in a faint smile while the other girl had snow white skin and a long, slender body. This lovely girl's head was lowered while she fingered the corner of her clothing. This was of course the future wife to be of Yin LiTing, the daughter of the Golden Whip Ji family, Ji XiaoFu.

Zhang CuiShan approached and expressed greetings before accompanying the six guests inside. Yin LiTing was incredibly embarrassed and didn't even dare to take one glance into Ji XiaoFu's direction. When they approached the corridor, he observed that everyone had grouped together and were walking ahead of them therefore couldn't help himself from glancing over at Ji XiaoFu. During that time Ji XiaoFu's head was lowered, but just at that moment she also happened to look over at him, causing the eyes of both parties to meet. Ji XiaoFu's younger apprentice sister Bei JinYi gave out a loud cough, causing the two of them to be so embarrassed that they immediately whipped their heads back around, their faces flushed into a deep colour of red. Bei JinYi bursted out into a giggle and then said in a low voice, “Sister, that brother Yin is even shyer than you.” Ji XiaoFu's body suddenly trembled a few times as her face turned into an ashen colour of grey, glistening tears were brimming in her eyes.

During all during this time, Zhang SongXi was assessing their situation and calculating the dynamics between his sect and their enemies. When he saw the six disciples of the E-Mei sect come in, he felt somewhat relieved, as he thought to himself: “Miss Ji is sixth brother's future wife-to-be, if debating doesn't work out later and we do end up in a fight, the E-Mei sect may stand on our side to help us.”

The various crowds of guests continued to arrive and time very quickly approached midday. There was absolutely no preparation within the Purple Paradise Hall beforehand, therefore what kind of banquet could they possibly arrange? The cook could only give each person a big bowl of white rice and arrange some simple vegetables and tofu on top. The six disciples of Wu Dang repeatedly expressed their apologies, but they've observed that while the guests were eating their rice, they kept repeatedly glancing towards the outer doors of the hall, as if they were expecting somebody.

Song YuanQiao and his brothers were carefully observing each person, and they noticed that each sect's sect master and each clan's clan leader were all retaining their dignity and status by not bringing any weapons along with them. But noises were emanating from the waist area of many of their disciples and clan members, very obviously a sign that they were carrying weapons on them. Only the disciples of the three sects E-Mei, Kun Lung and Kong Tong were empty handed. Song YuanQiao and all his brothers felt indignant anger within their hearts as they thought to themselves, “You all say that you are here to celebrate my master's birthday, but then why would you secretly conceal weapons?”

When they looked over the presents that everyone brought, they found that the majority of them were stuff that can be purchased at the last minute from the markets located at the foot of the mountain. Such things as birthday buns and birthday noodles were all that of which could be easily bought in haste. Not only was it incredibly incongruous with the status of a martial arts Grand Master such as Zhang SanFeng, but it was similarly contradictory with regards to the reputation and illustriousness of the leaders and masters of each sect and clan.

Only the E-Mei sect presented a real present that was truly worthy of cherishing. Aside from the sixteen colours of valuable jade, there was also a large brocaded Taoist gown that had the word “Longevity” embroidered with gold thread one hundred times and in one hundred different styles of writing. It could be imagined the great deal of time that must have been spent in order to complete such a gown. Revered nun Jing Xuan explained to Zhang SanFeng, “This was completed by the combined efforts of ten female disciples of the E-Mei sect.” Zhang SanFeng's heart was quite touched as he smiled and said, “E-Mei heroines' fists and sword skills have long been made famous throughout the world, and to have them bring this wonderful embroidered gown for this old man today is a huge honour indeed.” Zhang SongXi was closely observing everyone's expressions while thinking to himself, “What kind of powerful backup are they all waiting for? Coincidently master does not enjoy festive celebrations and didn't invite Wu Dang's closest friends here ahead of time, otherwise we most definitely wouldn't be caught in such an circumstance today, where we are so greatly outnumbered and cut off from any assistance.” His thoughts are based on the assertion that his master's acquaintances and friends have always spread throughout the world. The seven brothers have similarly performed many heroic deeds and charitable acts of kindness, forming many ties of goodwill. Had they been prepared ahead of time, they most definitely would have been able to invite a few dozen first rate fighters to come and attend today's birthday banquet.

Yu LianZhou who was standing by Zhang SongXi whispered, “We had originally intended to wait until after master's birthday before we distributed

7the  Hero  Invitations  and  conducted  a  Heroes  Banquet  at  the  W

town's Yellow Crane Restaurant. Can't believe that just this one error would cause the whole match to be controlled within the hands of others.” He had already planned out everything within his head. He originally intended for Zhang Cui Shan to declare at the Hero's Banquet his justification of not betraying a friend. All members of the JiangHu world highly value and respect the notion of “righteousness,” thus as long as Zhang CuiShan openly declare this as his reason, nobody could force him to take on the crime of being a unrighteous rogue. Even if there were those who wouldn't be willing to give up so easily, as long as there are a good number of first rate fighters that are true friends of the Wu Dang sect attending that banquet, then even if the situation is forced to the point of using martial arts to solve problems, the Wu Dang sect can at least not worry about losing. But who would have thought that the others would already have discerned this step and would actually use the excuse of celebrating a birthday to first gather together a sufficient number of helpers and charge up on the mountain to catch the unsuspecting and unprepared Wu Dang sect at a disadvantage?

Zhang SongXi whispered softly, “Since the situation has come to this point, the only choice we have is to fight to our deaths.” Amongst the seven heroes of Wu Dang, Zhang SongXi was the most astute and clever of them all. Whenever he came across a difficult or a tricky challenge, he would often be able to come up with a solution or plan to turn the tables around. Yu LianZhou secretly thought to himself, “If even fourth brother is at lost with what to do, I’m afraid that today the blood of Wu Dang's six disciples will have to soak the earth of this mountain.” If they were fighting one on one, amongst the guests today, there probably would be none who could compete with the six heroes of Wu Dang. But the situation right now on the mountaintop was not just a case of twenty against one, but was a thirty and forty against one sort of situation.

Zhang SongXi gave a light tug at the corner of Yu LianZhou’s clothes, and the two of them went out to the quarters behind the reception hall. Once there, Zhang SongXi said, “In a moment, if all attempts at discussing and reasoning fails, we'll try to use words to pressure them into agreeing on an one on one fight with us. By using six matches to determine the winner, we will most definitely be residing in the undefeatable position. But they came with preparation and would have thought of this already, therefore they definitely won’t agree to giving up after just six matches, it most likely will end up being a gang brawl sort of situation.” Yu LianZhou nodded his head and said, “The first thing we must do is help our third brother to escape, we must not let him land into other people’s hands to suffer through more torture. I will give this task to you. I’m afraid that our sister’s health may not be very strong right now, tell fifth brother to invest all his attention on her. Other matters of countering the adversaries and defending against menaces can be left for the rest of us to chip in a little more work.”

Zhang SongXi nodded his head and said, “Alright. That’s what we will do then.” He hesitated briefly before saying, “There may still be one measure we can take, it will be a dangerous step but we may pull through if we're lucky.” Yu Lian Zhou said with jubilation, “Even if it is a dangerous step, we have no other choice. What brilliant plan do you have in mind Brother?” Zhang SongXi replied, “We can each mark a target opponent and once that person takes action, we will each strike at our opponent by using just one stance, have them under our control. That way, they will all take caution and won’t dare to pressure us through sheer force.” Yu LianZhou debated for a while before saying, “If we can’t capture them in one stance, the others will most definitely advance as backup help. But to be able to succeed with just one stance, I’m afraid …” Zhang SongXi said, “Desperate times calls for desperate measures, I’m afraid that we have no choice but to be more vicious. Let us use the ‘Tiger Claws Destroying Procreation Skill’!” Yu LianZhou was taken back as he said, “ ‘Tiger Claws Destroying Procreation Skill’? But today is master’s birthday, wouldn't it be too cruel and deadly to use such a move?”

There was still actually a very powerful grappling technique within the Wu Dang sect that was called the “Tiger Claws.” After Yu LianZhou became fully educated in this skill, he remain unsatisfied at how when the fighter clamps down, if their opponent’s martial arts were advanced enough, they will be able to struggle free using their powerful energy reservoir. Therefore it will likely end up being a competition of inner energies. He thus purposely added variations to modify the “Tiger Claws” and finally created twenty new stances.

Before Zhang SanFeng accepted his disciples, he would closely examine and test into their character and morality while also discovering what their aptitude and talents were. Therefore after the seven disciples entered the sect, there was not one who hasn't been able to achieve greatness. Not only did they each inherit their sect’s martial arts skills, but they were further able to modify and create new stances according to their own personal nature and character. It was originally not a surprising thing that Yu LianZhou would transform the stances of the “Tiger Claws.” But after Zhang SanFeng watched him demonstrate these moves, he only nodded his head and didn’t input any further remarks.

When Yu LianZhou observed how his master didn’t offer a single remark or comment, he knew that there most definitely must be some kind of problem with his stances. Therefore he concentrated his energies on examining and scrutinizing every move in hopes of further improving and advancing these stances. After a few months, when he once again demonstrated his revisions for his master, Zhang SanFeng was only heard to sigh and said, “LianZhou, these twelve stances of the Tigers claws are truly much more powerful than the ones that I taught you. But your every stance aims to attack one’s vital points. No matter who sustains this stance, they may possibly suffer the misfortune of having their Yin forces damaged and their chances of procreation ended. Are the decent and respectable stances that I taught you not enough? Must one resort to ending another’s chances of procreation with every strike?”

After Yu LianZhou heard this sermon from his master, even in the midst of the harsh cold weather, he couldn’t refrain a cold sweat all from erupting all over his back. Fear struck his heart, and he immediately admitted to his mistake and begged for forgiveness.

After a few days, Zhang SanFeng called his seven disciples to him and explained this incident to them before saying, “These twelve stances that LianZhou created was a result of hard work and honourable intentions, and are truly worthy of being considered as a ultimate skill. To abolish it based on just my one command may nevertheless be a pity. You should all learn this skill from LianZhou, but take caution to never use this skill lightly. Do not use it in anything less than a life and death situation. I will add the two words “Destroying Procreation” after the words “Tiger Claws” in order to remind you all that this skill can end all chances others have at procreation, thus running the danger of ending a whole family’s lineage.”

The seven disciples immediately expressed their gratitude for this lecture and Yu LianZhou then related this martial art skill to his six brothers. After the seven of them mastered this skill, they indeed obeyed their master’s teachings and not one of them has used this skill even once. Even during such a critical juncture, when Zhang SongXi brought this up, Yu LianZhou still debated and and continue to hesitate.

Zhang SongXi said, “Once this ‘Tiger Claws Destroying Procreation Skill’ grapples onto other’s vital points, there is a chance that it will end their chances of procreation. Your brother I have a plan, we can choose only monks or Taoist priests as our opponents, or if not, then old men in their seventies and eighties will also be suitable.” Yu LianZhou smiled faintly and said, “Brother, your vigilant thinking is not only nimble but also ingenious. Since monks and Taoists priests will not be having any children, to use this move on them is acceptable.”

After the two brothers finished discussing their plans, the split up to inform Song YuanQiao and the other three brothers. Each one of them targeted a specific opponent and as soon as they hear a loud shout of “a-yo” from Zhang SongXi, the six of them would each use the “Tiger Claws Destroying Procreation Skill” to capture their opponents. Yu LianZhou selected the oldest of the Kong Tong elders Guan Neng, while Zhang CuiShan chose Kun Lun's taoist priest XiHua Zi.

After the various guests finished their simple meal, the culinary workers took away the eating utensils. Zhang Song Xi then loudly said, “Honoured heroes and fellow friends, today is our master's hundredth year birthday. To be graced by the presence of so many heroes today fills everyone in our sect with glory and honour. But please do forgive us for the bareness and inefficiency in our reception here today. Our master had originally planned to invite all our respected guests to WuChang town's Yellow Crane Restaurant for a festive gathering. During that date, we most certainly will make up for the discourtesy in our reception here today. My brother Zhang CuiShan has been separated from us for ten years now, and it was just today that he finally returned to us from afar. He has not even had the chance to explain in detail to my master all of which he has encountered and experienced within the last ten years. Besides, today is our master’s big celebration, if we bother ourselves with discussing about the martial art world’s various scores of gratitude and vengeance, duels and deaths, it may be a very untimely and inappropriate thing to do. Our honoured guests’ pure intentions of offering birthday blessings will then turn into a purposely contrived plan of coming here to incite disharmony and create more trouble. Very seldom will all our honoured guests be gathered together here at Wu Dang, please allow me the honours of accompanying everyone for a tour around the mountain where we can appreciate the scenery.”

This speech from him caused everyone to be at a loss for words. By stating ahead of time that today was a blessed day of celebration, if anybody mentioned Xie Xun and Dragon Gate Escort Agency’s incident, then they are purposely and openly making enemies with the Wu Dang Sect.

These groups of people arrived on the mountain one after another, and aside from the E-Mei sect, they were all originally prepared to engage in a good battle in order to force out the whereabouts of the Golden Mane Lion King Xie Xun. But the Wu Dang sect’s great fame was so authoritative and respected, nobody dared to make enemies with the Wu Dang sect on their own. If these few hundred people all rushed forward as one group, they would of course have nothing to be worry about. But when requiring somebody to stand out by themselves to make the first move, nobody wanted to take on the role of the sacrificial lamb.

Everyone looked at each other in a moment of uncomfortable silence. Kun Lun sect’s XiHua Zi stood up and shouted loudly, “Hero Zhang SongXi, there’s no need to strike first with your words. We’re all forthright people and there’s no need to beat around the bush. We will be honest with you, the purpose of our visit to the mountain today is firstly to celebrate Master Zhang’s birthday, but then we would also like to find out about the bandit Xie Xun’s current whereabouts.

Muo ShengGu’s simmering anger has been bottled up for most of the day. At this moment, he could no longer hold back anymore as he laughed coldly and said, “Oh really? So that’s how it is, no wonder, no wonder!” XiHua Zi’s pair of eyes flared up as he asked, “What do you mean by ‘no wonder’?” Muo Sheng Gu replied, “I just heard a moment ago that you came to Wu Dang today for the celebration of my master’s birthday, but than at the same time you would all secretly carry weapons on yourselves. That makes me wonder, did all of you bring your precious sabers and esteemed swords here today because you wanted to present it to my master as a birthday gift? It’s only now that I understand what a priceless gift you’re all delivering here.” XiHua Zi smacked his hand against the table and then immediately undid his robe before loudly saying, “Hero Muo, take a good and close look. Don’t learn to frame and slander other people's honour at such a young age. Where do you see any weapons on our bodies?”

Muo ShengGu laughed coldly and said, “Very good. There indeed aren’t any,” and he then extended two fingers to lightly tug on the belt of the two people standing beside him. His movements were so quick, with just this one tug he was able to snap apart the belt on those two people. Immediately clanking and clanging sounds were heard sequentially as two short daggers fell to the ground, its dazzling glint catching everybody's eyes. With this, everyone’s countenance underwent a great change while XiHua Zi roared out, “That’s right. If Hero Zhang won’t reveal to us Xie Xun’s current whereabouts, then who knows? We may very well have to resort to our sabers and swords!”

Zhang SongXi was just about to loudly shout out the secret code “a-yo” in order to take advantage of striking out first when suddenly from outside the door drifted in a voice that said, “Amita Buddha.” This Buddhist incantation very clearly transmitted into everybody’s ear drums, ringing out loud and clear. Though it appeared to be coming from afar, yet when heard it also sounded as if it was spoken by somebody right beside you.

Zhang SanFeng smiled and said, “The Shaolin sect's Abbot Kong Wen has arrived, hurry out and receive him.” The voice from outside was immediately heard to reply, “Shaolin's Abbot Kong Wen along with his fellow martial art brothers Kong Zhi, Kong Xing and sect disciples have come to wish Grand Master Zhang a thousand autumns of eternal happiness.”

The three monks Kong Wen, Kong Zhi and Kong Xing were the figures that

8comprised  the  group  known  as  the  Four  Divine  Reverends  of

Aside from Reverend Kong Jian who has died, the other three Reverends has all arrived here today. In the midst of his shock, Zhang SongXi was unable to give that shout of “a-yo.” Now that Shaolin's supreme martial artists have arrived here on Wu Dang, he knew then even if the six brothers can use the "Tiger Claws Destroying Procreation Skill” to control Kun Lun and Kong Tong sect's key figures, it would still be useless.

Kun Lun sect's sect-master He TaiChong said, “I've long heard of the Shaolin Divine Reverends' great name. To have the chance of encountering all three here today certainly made this a worthy trip.” Another somewhat low and husky voice from outside the door was heard to say, “This must be Kun Lun's sect leader Mister He. It is a pleasure, a pleasure indeed. Grand Master Zhang, the three of us have arrived here much too late to celebrate your birthday, it truly is discourteous of us.” Zhang SanFeng replied, “The number of guests concentrated here on top of the Wu Dang mountain today are as vast as the clouds, this old man has only lived a hundred years of an unimportant life, how can I possibly bother the three Divine Reverends' to make such a trip?”

Through the generation of their internal energies, these four people were able to exchange words through the separation of several partitions, each conversing with the effortless ease akin to having a casual conversation with somebody standing right in front of them. The internal energies of E-Mei sect's revered nuns Jing Xuan and Jing Xu, Kong Tong's Guan Neng, Zong WeiXia, Tang WenLiang, Chang JingZhi and the likes' did not reach this level, thus naturally they could not join in on the conversation. The figures belonging to the rest of the sects and clans were even more astonished, while within their hearts they were simultaneously feeling shame at their inability to compare.

Zhang SanFeng brought his disciples along with him as they started to step outside in order to greet them, but immediately they saw the three Divine Reverends slowly walk into the reception hall, bringing in nine other monks along with them.

Abbot Kong Wen's white eyebrows drooped downwards to almost cover over his eyes, very much like a long browed LoHan. Kong Xing's body was robust and broad, while his expression was similarly forceful and quite commanding. As for Kong Zhi, his whole face was marked by sorrow, and even the corners of his mouth turned downwards. Song YuanQiao was secretly surprised, for he was well acquainted with the art of face reading. He thought to himself, “The typical person born with Reverend Kong Zhi's physiognomy would suffer such a fate that even if they don't have a short life span, they will at least experience unexpected calamities early in life. Why is it that he not only enjoys the pleasure of longevity, but will also end up being what all people of the martial arts world accept as a Grand Master? It seems that my knowledge in the art of face reading is still much too amateurish.”

Even though Zhang SanFeng along with Kong Wen, Kong Zhi and Kong Xing were all Grand Masters of the martial arts world, yet they have never encountered each other before. In terms of age, Zhang SanFeng was thirty to forty years older than the three Reverends. He originated from the Shaolin sect, and if using his master Jue Yuan as a measure to determine generational rank and hierarchy, then he would actually be two generations above the likes of Kong Wen. But since he never officially took the commandment to become a monk within Shaolin, and because he never officially learned any Shaolin martial arts from the monks, therefore they all treated each other in the manner of equals. But Song YuanQiao and his brothers were actually reduced a generation.

Zhang SanFeng welcomed Kong Wen into the reception hall. He TaiChong, revered nun Jing Xuan, Guan Neng and the likes all game forward to greet them, each offering their words of respect and admiration, bringing forth another round of formal courtesies. Coincidently, the Abbott Kong Wen was extremely humble and would join his palms to greet every junior in each clan and each pupil of every sect, offering a few formal words of greeting, bring forth a moment of cluttered confusion before a few hundred people could all be acknowledged.

The three Divine Reverends Kong Wen, Kong Zhi and Kong Xing all sat down and took a sip of green tea. Kong Wen then said, “Grand Master Zhang, in terms of age and generational ranking, this worthless monk is your junior. Today, aside from offering you birthday blessings, all other stuff should originally not be mentioned. But since this worthless monk shameless takes on the title of Shaolin's Head Abbot, there are therefore a few words which I must reveal to Grand Master Zhang with utmost honesty.”

Zhang SanFeng has always been a resolute and frank person, thus he spoke with utmost honesty, “Divine Reverends, did you come here today because of my fifth ranking disciple Zhang CuiShan?” When Zhang CuiShan heard his master mention his name, he immediately stood up. Kong Wen replied, “Yes indeed. We have two things that we have to ask Hero Zhang. The first thing concerns Hero Zhang murdering seventy-one lives of an agency belonging to a Shaolin disciple's Dragon Gate Escort Agency, and then further killing six Shaolin monks. All together, it comprises seventy-seven lives, how should this situation be handled? The second thing is, our older martial arts brother Reverend Kong Jian lived a life of beneficence and morality, though never competeting with anyone for anything, yet in the end would die a terrible death under the murderer Golden Mane Lion King Xie Xun's hands. It's rumoured that Hero Zhang you are aware of this bandit Xie's whereabouts, we ask you to please point us to the right direction.”

Zhang CuiShan replied in a clear voice, “Abbot Kong Wen, the murdering of the seventy-seven lives of the Dragon Gate Escort Agency and Shaolin sect was not your respectful pupil's doing. I, Zhang Cui Shan have been disciplined and shaped by my honoured teacher. Though I may be a piece of untalented and incompetent material, yet I would never dare to tell a single lie. As for the identity of the person who took the lives of the seventy-seven people, your humble pupil is indeed aware of whom this person is, but I do not desire to reveal the truth. That is the first issue. As for the second issue, there is nobody of the world who was not saddened and desolate over the Reverend Kong Jian's untimely departure from the world. However, the Golden Mane Lion King and your young pupil I are sworn brothers. To be honest, your humble pupil I am aware of the current whereabouts of Xie Xun, but those of us in the martial arts world value and honour the word “Righteousness” more than anything. Zhang CuiShan's head can fall and my blood can spill, but I most definitely will not reveal my sworn brother's whereabouts. This incident has absolutely nothing to do with my revered teacher and my fellow sect members, anything and everything will be accounted for by Zhang CuiShan's solitary self. If everyone must insist on using death as a threat, then whether you choose to come forward for a kill or to administer a blow, then go ahead. In Zhang CuiShan's whole life, he has never done one thing that will disgrace or sully the honour of his sect and has never killed one undeserving person. But if everyone wants to force me to be unrighteous today, then I can only use death as my answer.” These words of Zhang Cui Shan were spoken with boldness, his expression one of justified rectitude.

Kong Wen murmured a “Amita Buddha” while thinking to himself, “From his words, it really doesn't sound like he's lying. What should be done now?”

It was at this moment when from outside the long windows of the reception hall suddenly came a young child's voice that cried, “Father!”

There was a big thump in Zhang CuiShan's heart for this voice belonged to WuJi. He loudly responded, “WuJi! You've come back?” and immediately dashed outside while caught up in the midst of his bewildered joy. Wu Shan sect and Heavenly Fists Clan each had someone standing by the door of the reception hall. They only conjectured that Zhang CuiShan must be trying to escape therefore shouted out simultaneously, “Where do you think you're going?” and extended their hands to clamp down. Zhang CuiShan was filled with haste due to the extreme concern for his child, thus with a contraction of his two arms, caused the two people to fly back separately into the left and right directions for more than a few dozen feet due to the impacting shock. After rushing out beyond the long windows, he only saw a mass of emptiness and silence. Where is there even a trace of a person's shadow? He loudly cried, “WuJi, WuJi!” but no reply was heard.

The people within the reception hall have already rushed out, but when seeing that Zhang CuiShan hasn't escape, did not advance to capture him and only stood by a side watching over him.

Zhang CuiShan continued to cry, “WuJi, WuJi!” but was again met with no answer. By this time, Yin SuSu's health had already recovered a fair bit, therefore even from the back room she could faintly discern her husband crying “WuJi” and immediately bolted outside, crying in a trembling voice, “Did WuJi return?” Zhang Cui Shan replied, “I thought I heard his voice just a moment ago. But when I chased outside, there was nobody.” Greatly disappointed, Yin SuSu murmured, “It must your longing for our child that induced you to hear wrong.” For a while, Zhang Cui Shan was in a state of stupefied shock, but he then shook his head and said, “I heard him, I know I did.” He then hurriedly said, “Go back inside” for he worried that there would be further trouble if his wife interacted with the crowd of guests.

After he returned to the reception hall, he approached Kong Wen and bowed before saying, “In the midst of pining to be reunited with my little child, your unworthy student dared to be so discourteous, may Reverend Abbot you please forgive me.”

Kong Wen said, “Such is well, such is well. Hero Zhang, your fervent longing for your beloved son is so full of anguish, yet did you really think that all those people who were murdered by Xie Xun did not have a father, mother, wife and children as well?” His body was very small and skinny, but his every word was spoken with booming clarity, reverberating in the eardrums of all the people within the reception hall. Zhang CuiShan's heart was in a state of befuddlement grief and could find no words to respond.

Abbot Kong Wen then turned to Zhang SanFeng to say, “Grand Master Zhang, how do you suggest we should handle today's issues? I'd like to ask master you to please provide for us an answer.”

Zhang SanFeng said, “This young disciple of mine may not have many worthy merits, but he most definitely would not lie to his master, and I don't think he would dare to lie to the three divine reverends. The people of the Dragon Gate Escort Agency and your sect were not killed by him and as for Xie Xun's whereabouts, that is something he refuses to reveal.”

Kong Zhi said with a cold laugh, “But there was someone who witnessed Hero Zhang CuiShan kill our sect's disciples with their very own eyes. So is it that Wu Dang disciples will never dare to offer dishonest words, while the Shaolin disciples will?” And with a wave of his left hand, three middle aged monks stepped out from behind him.

The three monks were each blind in their right eye. They were of course the monks who were blinded by Yin SuSu's silver needles at the riverside of LinAn City's XiHu, Yuan Xin, Yuan Yin and Yuan Ye.

These three monks followed Abbot Kong Wen and the others to the Wu Dang mountain, and were observed by Zhang CuiShan from the beginning. He knew within his heart that he must answer to the bloodbath by the riverside of the Xi Hu. As expected, the Abbot Kong Wen spoke not more than a few words and already brought out the three monks. Zhang CuiShan was put into a tough spot, for the person who committed the murders by the bank of the XiHu was indeed not him, yet the true culprit was now his wife. The love between the couple was deep and the faith they held towards each other was strong, how could they possibly not shield each other from harm? But now at this point and in this situation, how is one to protect the other?

Amongst the “Yuan” generation, Yuan Ye was the most hot-tempered. In accordance to his character, he would have struck out at Zhang CuiShan with all he's got the moment he saw him. But because his martial art uncles were all there, he was therefore forced to restrain himself. But at that time, it was his master who called him out, thus he immediately shouted, “Zhang CuiShan, at Lin An City's Xi Hu banks, you projected poisonous needles into the mouth of Hui Feng, taking his life. I saw that with my very own eyes, did you think I was framing you? The three of us were blinded in the right eye by your silver needles, did you still want to confound us and lay blame on others?”

At this point, Zhang CuiShan could only argue point for point as he said, “Although we do use a pretty extensive range of weapons within the Wu Dang sect, yet they are all large sized projectiles along the likes of steel darts and sleeve arrows. My six fellow sect members and myself have been around in the martial arts world for quite a while now, but has there been anyone who's seen a Wu Dang disciple use any gold or silver needles type of weapons? As for acts such as coating poison onto the needles, that is a concept even more undeserving of my refute.”

The ways and actions of the seven heroes of Wu Dang have always been honourable and upright, that was something everybody within the martial arts world knew. Therefore all the martial art fighters that were gathered together here on the mountain truly found the idea of Zhang CuiShan using poisonous needles to harm others hard to believe. Yuan Ye shouted with anger, “Even at this point, you're still trying to deny it? That day when you used needles to kill Hui Feng, my martial arts older brother Yuan Yin and myself clearly witnessed and discerned everything clearly and without any further doubt. If it wasn't you, then who was it?” Zhang CuiShan replied, “Just because there was somebody in your sect who fell into harm and injury, that gives you right to come to our Wu Dang sect and request us to tell you who the culprit was that injured your sect members? Since when was such a rule established?” Zhang CuiShan's intellect was quick and his tongue was sharp, he was good with words and skilled in debating. In the midst of his anger, Yuan Ye's words were becoming increasingly nonsensical, causing what was originally a very justified incrimination to suddenly become akin to an unreasonable allegation.

Zhang SongXi immediately added, “Brother Yuan Ye, at present it's still not possible to ascertain who it was that wounded those Shaolin monks. However, our sect's Yu DaiYan was most definitely injured under the hands of Shaolin's Golden Steel Fingers. Everyone has come here at just the right time, we were just planning to inquire about who was the culprit that used the Golden Steel Fingers to injure my third brother?”

Yuan Ye's mouth gaped open and was completely tongue tied. He could only stutter out the words, “Not me.”

Zhang SongXi gave out an icy laugh and said, “I know it wasn't you. I doubt that you would have that kind of power.” After pausing a while, he continued, “If my third brother was perfectly healthy when he was exchanging stances with your revered sect's skilled fighters, then even if he was injured under the Golden Steel Fingers, he can only blame himself for being unable to excel in martial arts. Since in all types of battles and martial art exchanges, injuries and even deaths will likely occur, what else can he say? Can any guarantee be established before a fight that can warrant that a single strand of hair will not be harmed? But at that time, my brother was severely ill, he wasn't able to move even a single finger on his body. That Shaolin disciple used Golden Steel Finger to brutally cripple his arms and legs in order to force him to reveal the whereabouts of the Dragon Saber.” Having gotten to this point, he raised his voice to cry out, “You would think that Shaolin's martial arts eclipses over the whole martial arts world already, and they have also long been considered as the martial arts world's most venerable sect. Why must you still desire to possess the precious Dragon Saber in order to be satisfied? Besides, my third brother has only seen that Dragon Saber once, but the methods employed by your revered sect's disciples are really much too inhuman and atrocious. Within the martial arts world, Yu DaiYan can still be considered as possessing of some respectful fame. Within his whole life, he has only committed heroic and righteous acts of charity, doing many good deeds for the martial arts world. Now, because of a Shaolin disciple, he's crippled for his whole life, causing him to spend these last ten years lying on his bed unable to get up. We were just planning to ask the three divine reverends, what does Shaolin plan to do about this?”

Because of Yu DaiYan's injuries and the deaths of the whole Dragon Gate Escort Agency, Shaolin and Wu Dang have already spent much time over these debates. But they were never able to come to a conclusion because of Zhang CuiShan's disappearance. Zhang SongXi purposely brought out this case again when he observed Kong Wen and Yuan Ye all speak with such forceful justification.

The Abbot Kong Wen said, “I have already gone over this before. The disciples within our sect have already been investigated and questioned over in detail already. Nobody from our sect harmed Hero Yu.”

Zhang SongXi reached his hands into his pockets and brought out a golden nugget, the finger marks left on the gold nugget can be clearly seen. He loudly exclaimed, “As all heroes can see, the culprits responsible for my brother Yu's injuries is the Shaolin disciple who left these marks on the golden nugget. Aside from the Shaolin sect's Golden Steel Finger, which school and which sect can boast to have a martial art skill that can produce such a mark on gold?”

Yuan Yin and Yuan Ye were trying to incriminate Zhang CuiShan based soley on their words, but Zhang SongXi was able to produce material evidence which would of course be much more convincing than proof-less conjectures and empty words.

Kong Wen said, “May the Buddha have mercy. Aside from the three of us brothers, there are also three other elders within our sect who have been able to master this skill of the Golden Steel Fingers. But these three elders have not stepped out of Shaolin's doors for thirty or forty years now. How would they be able to harm Hero Yu?”

Muo ShengGu suddenly chimed in, “Revered abbot, you wouldn't believe my fifth brother's words because you insist that his defense was based solely on the testimonial of just his one person, but are the words of Revered abbot you not also based on just your sole defense?”

Abbot Kong Wen's character was quite gracious and even though he recognized the disrespect in Muo ShengGu's words, he was not angry and only said, “If Hero Muo you don't believe this old monk's words, then there's nothing I can do.” Muo ShengGu said, “How could your humble pupil I possibly dare to not believe revered abbot's words? But things in life are often unpredictable and prone to change. What is right, wrong, true and false will often turn out to be contrary to one's expectations. You only insist that the fellow Shaolin monks were injured under my fifth brother's hands, and we also believe that my third brother must have been injured under the fingers of a skilled Shaolin fighter. But it may very well be that are still secret twists unbeknownst to us all. According to your unworthy pupil's views, these incidents still requires further examination and reconsideration in order to not disturb the harmony between the Shaolin and Wu Dang sects. If we handle things in a crass or crude manner, then one day when the truth is finally revealed, there will only be regrets.” Kong Wen nodded his head and said, “Hero Muo's words are right indeed.”

Kong Zhi shouted with severe anger, “But are we just going to forget about the wrongful murder of our martial arts brother Kong Jian? Hero Zhang, we can put aside the death of the Dragon Gate Escort Agency for the time being. But today, if you are willing to reveal the whereabouts of the vicious bandit Xie Xun, then you better start revealing it because even if you are not willing to speak, we're still going to make you speak!” Up to this moment, Yu LianZhou has been silent, but seeing that the situation has reached a deadlock, he said loudly, “If the Dragon Sabre was not in the hands of Xie Xun, would Reverend still be so concerned about capturing him?” He didn't say much, but just these two lines were already powerful enough, for he was outright reprimanding Kong Zhi as harbouring the unhonourable intentions of desiring to covet a precious treasure.

Kong Zhi was extremely enraged and with a slap, smashed his palm down upon the wooden table in front of him. With a bang, the table's four legs broke simultaneously as the table immediately shattered and the wooden splinters of the tabletop spewed everywhere. The immense force harboured within that palm was frightening. He roared with rage, “I've long heard that Grand Master Zhang's martial arts originated from Shaolin, but the word within the martial arts world has it that Master Zhang's martial arts excels beyond that of his originator. We've long been admirers even though we may not have been able to ascertain whether there is indeed truth in this rumour. Today, in the presence of the world's heroes, let us take this opportunity to boldly ask Grand Master Zhang to teach us a thing or two by exchanging a few stances with us!”

As soon as he said these words, all the fighters within the room were brought to an excited state of frenzy. It has now been seventy years since Zhang SanFeng made a name for himself, but all the fighters who had the chance to combat with him have all died over time. There was not a single one of them left in this world who can testify to exactly how fathomless his martial arts were. Thus, even though there were all sorts of extraordinary and fantastic legends circulating within the martial arts world, nobody aside from his seven exclusive disciples had the chance to witness Zhang SanFeng's brilliance with their very own eyes. But Song YuanQiao and his brothers have stunned and dazzled the world with the celebrated name of the Seven Heroes of Wu Dang. If just the disciples can already be seen to have such powers, it would be hard to imagine much less describe what heights their master's abilities would reach.

When the people outside of the Shaolin and Wu Dang sect heard Kong Zhi publicly declare a challenge against Zhang SanFeng, there was not a single person who was not roused into a state of excitement. They were all thinking within their heads that this was certainly turning out to be a worthwhile trip now that they had the chance to witness with their very own eyes the power of the present era's number one martial artist.

Everyone's eyes immediately shot towards Zhang SanFeng's face, anticipating his response of whether or not he was going to give his consent. But he was only seen to smile faintly and did not reveal whether he was going to accept the challenge or not.

Kong Zhi continued, “Grand Master Zhang's martial art abilities crowns over his era, and since he is already undefeatable within the world, the three of us are of course not your match. But since the situation has been forced to this point, I'm afraid that the entanglements between our two sects cannot be resolve if we don't settle it through a martial arts competition. Since master you are two generations above us, it would be much too disrespectful if we fought you one on one. Forgive us for daring to overestimate our capabilities, but we will combine the power between the three of us in order to challenge you Grand Master.”

Everyone was thinking within their hearts, “That's some gallant-sounding excuse to cover up your intentions of combating one with the power of three. Even if Zhang SanFeng's martial arts are indeed supreme, yet he is nevertheless an old man that has reached his one hundredth year, his stamina and energy must without a doubt be on the decline. He may not be able to withstand the combined attack of the three divine reverends of Shaolin.”

Yu LianZhou said, “Today is our master's hundredth year celebration, how could he possibly engage in any physical combat with his guests? ...” when everyone heard this, they all thought, “Wu Dang sect really is going to back out from accepting this challenge.” But unexpectedly, Yu LianZhou continued, “Besides, as reverend Kong Zhi has already said, my master and the three reverends are of different generational ranks, if he really did take action, wouldn't that make him guilty of the offense of picking on his juniors? But since Shaolin has stated their challenge, the seven disciples of Wu Dang will like a chance to learn from the twelve Shaolin monk's supreme martial arts.”

After these words were spoken, there was again another great rumble that went through the whole group of guests who had all started to discuss and analyze amongst each other. Kong Wen, Kong Zhi and Kong Xing each had three disciples who accompanied them to the mountain today, bringing the total to twelve Shaolin monks. They all knew that Yu DaiYan was completely crippled and thus there were only six out of the seven Wu Dang disciples left. To fight twelve with six is a situation based upon a one against two ratio. Such terms as delineated by Yu LianZhou really can be said to serve a self-elevating purpose for the status of the Wu Dang sect.

Yu LianZhou's move may seem to be a risky step, and in actuality it was indeed a move that he was forced into making. He was very aware that the Shaolin reverends' martial art skills were extremely powerful, and since their ages were older than him and his brothers, their cultivation would naturally be greater. If they fought one on one, his oldest brother Song YuanQiao would be able to break even with one of the reverends, but he himself was just recovering from his injuries and may not be able to withstand one of the reverends. As for the very last reverend, regardless of whether it is Zhang SongXi, Yin LiTing, or Muo ShengGu who fights that match, they most definitely will lose to the reverend. Although his terms of challenge were officially stating that the six brothers will combat against the twelve Shaolin fighters, but the other nine Shaolin disciples can be assumed to pose a very small threat. Therefore, though it seems that the Wu Dang sect was combating a larger crowd with a smaller group, in actuality it was really the Wu Dang six disciples who were combining their powers to fight the three divine reverends of Shaolin.

How could Kong Zhi possibly not understand the dynamics of such an arrangement? After scoffing with a “hmph” he then said, “Since Master Zhang won't grace us with the honour of exchanging a few stances, then let us three brothers attempt to learn a few things by facing off against three of the Wu Dang six heroes. We can determine the victor with three matches, the side who is able to win in two of the three matches will be the winner.” Zhang SongXi said, “If reverend Kong Zhi really insists on fighting one on one, then that can also be done. But amongst the seven of us brothers, aside for my third brother Yu DaiYan who is unable to descend his bed after falling prey to the deadly attacks of a Shaolin disciple, there is not one of us who dares to back out from a challenge. Therefore, let us then determine the winner through six matches, where each of the Wu Dang six disciples will face off with a Shaolin disciple, the side that can win four matches out of the six will be determined as the victor.”

Muo ShengGu loudly added, “Let's do it this way, if the Wu Dang sect loses, then my fifth brother Zhang will reveal the whereabouts of the Golden Mane Lion King Xie Xun to Shaolin sect's head abbot. But if Shaolin sect does kindly grant us the honour of winning, then we'd like to ask the three reverends along with all these guests who have come to here with the excuse of celebrating a birthday, but who are in actuality looking to stir up some trouble to please leave the mountain as a group!”

Zhang SongXi's suggestion of using a six against six method of combat can already be said to situate the Wu Dang sect in the undefeatable position. For his oldest brother and second brother's martial arts can be expected to be comparable with the three divine reverends of Shaolin. As for the rest of the Shaolin disciples, they most definitely will lose in the last three matches.

Kong Zhi shook his head while muttering, “That's not right, not right.” But at the same time, he couldn't openly admit to exactly what wasn't right about such a suggestion.

Zhang SongXi said, “When divine reverends issued a challenged to my master, you said that you wanted to fight one man using the power of three. But when we said that we will use six fighters to combat the twelve revered monks of Shaolin, reverend Kong Zhi will suddenly request to fight one on one. Fine, so we'll agree to fighting one on one, but now reverend you say that such an arrangement is not right. Why don't we just do it this way then, let your unworthy pupil I fight against Shaolin's three divine reverends by myself, then everything would be absolutely perfect right? Let the three divine reverends obliterate your unworthy pupil, then that way Shaolin can be victorious and then wouldn't that be so gratifying?” Greatly agitated, Kong Zhi's face changed colours while Kong Wen murmured a Buddhist mantra, “Amita Buddha!” Since Kong Xin arrived on the Wu Dang mountain, he has not said one word. But at this moment he suddenly said, “Brothers, since this young hero Zhang says he wants to fight the three of us by himself, then let us do that!” Because Kong Xin had practiced monasticism from an early age, therefore even though his martial arts were skilled, he was not at all acquainted with customs of the world and could not catch the sarcasm and mockery in Zhang SongXi's words.

Kong Wen said, “Hush up brother” as he turned around and said to Song YuanQiao, “We'll do this, let the six Shaolin monks face off against the six disciples of Wu Dang. We'll determine the winners with just one match.” Song YuanQiao replied, “Not the six disciples of Wu Dang, but the seven disciples of Wu Dang.”

Kong Wen was greatly taken back as he asked, “Is Master Zhang also planning to join the battle as well?”

Song YuanQiao replied, “Revered Abbot's conjectures are wrong. All fighters who have fought with my teacher have long since passed away, how can my teacher possibly act out again? However, although my third brother Yu is unable to move after being burdened by severe injuries, and while he also has no disciples, yet the seven of us brothers have always been as one body. Today, in such a confrontation that will concern life, death, glory and shame, how could he possibly stand detached without lending out a helping hand? I'll ask him to hastily find somebody and to give them a few instructions and guidelines in order for this person to substitute for him and fight on his behalf. Wu Dang's seven disciples will fight the revered monks of Shaolin as a group, it matters not whether you decide to send out seven fighters or twelve fighters!”

Kong Wen paused briefly and thought, “Within the Wu Dang sect, aside for Zhang SanFeng and his seven disciples, there hasn't been mention of any other skilled fighters. He says they'll find a last minute substitution, but what use is that? If they ask another sect's disciple to fight, then that wouldn't be a battle of the Wu Dang sect versus the Shaolin sect. He most likely was just trying to preserve the famed glory of the 'Seven Heroes of Wu Dang' when he said these words.” Therefore he gave a nod with his head and said, “Alright. Then the seven monks of Shaolin will battle Wu Dang's seven heroes.”

Yu LianZhou, Zhang SongXi and the others immediately understood what purpose Song YuanQiao was trying to induce with his words.

Zhang SanFeng still had one set of martial art skill that was extremely worthy of pride, it was called “Zhen Wu's Seven Spheres Formation.” The

9Wu  Dang  sect  offered  worship  to  the  deity  Zhen  W      and  when  Zhang SanFeng saw the pair of statuettes comprising of a snake and a tortoise that was always situated in front the statue of Zhen Wu, he thought to the

10 11 12

SheShan   and GuiShan    located at the juncture between the ChangJiang

13and the HanShui River V  When he thought over the agile lightness                                                of a long snake contrasted with the lumbering heaviness of a tortoise, he also thought to how the diety Zhen Wu was able to place his leg on the shell of a tortoise while his right leg rested on the body of a snake, thus capturing the essence of the most lithe and cumbersome objects' fundamental nature. He immediately took off that moment, journeying through the night to arrive at the Northern areas of the HanShui River Valleys to study the two She and Gui mountains. Through the undulating twists of the SheShan and the stately stableness of the GuiShan, he was able to create an incredibly brilliant and mystical martial art skill.

However, the She and Gui mountains were so majestic in their force, that it caused the martial arts inspired by the intensity of the mountains to be so profound and boundless, that it encompassed a vast field and became something of which could not be fully implemented through one person’s power. Zhang SanFeng quietly stood by the river’s bank and for three days abstained from drinking a single drop of water or consuming a tiny morsel of food. He concentrated all his energies into mulling over this skill, yet was still unable to solve this problem. But during the early dawn of the fourth morning, he watched the sun rise from the East to cast a million streaks of wavering golden slithers and flickering spots of sparkling illuminations on the face of the river. He was suddenly enlightened and after engaging in a hearty laugh, he returned to the Wu Dang mountain and brought his seven disciples to him in order to relate a martial art skill to each one of them.

These seven different forms of martial arts when executed separately is of course each an embodiment of brilliance and exquisiteness in their own right, but if two people combine their efforts, the brothers can support and facilitate each other by simultaneously fostering their attack while maintaining their defence, causing their power to be increased even further. If three people simultaneously executed their moves, their power would be double that of the combined effort of two individuals. The power of four people would equal to that of eight first rate fighters while five people amounts to the force of sixteen fighters and six fighters will be equivalent to thirty-two fighters. By the time they can gather the efforts of seven fighters simultaneously, it would be analogous to having the collective force of sixty- four of the present era’s first-rate fighters attacking all at once. Within the present era, the number of martial artists who can be classified as a first rate fighter was merely a small list comprised of twenty or thirty people, what are the chances of having the opportunity to gather together all these first rate fighters? Even if they could be gathered together, within these fighters there were the good and the evil, the compassionate and the malicious, how could they possibly co-operate together as a group?

Because this skill of Zhang SanFeng’s was inspired by the tortoise and snake statues that stood by the foot of deity Zhen Wu, it was therefore titled as the “Zhen Wu Seven Spheres Formation.” At that time, he painstakingly pondered over the difficulty in making up for the vacancy in the west end while one watched over the east, which would simultaneously afford opponents with the chance of taking advantage of the exposed vacancy in the Southern and Northern ends. It was only later when he came up with the solution of directing his seven disciples to execute this skill as a group was he finally able to resolve this problem. Although he couldn’t help but be a little disappointed over the fact that this “Zhen Wu Seven Spheres Formation” could not be worked out in such a way so as to enable just one person to executed it, but when he thought to, “If this skill really can be executed through the power of just one person, then wouldn’t that mean just one person’s power would be enough to defeat the combined force of sixty- four first rate fighters? Is that not a much too absurd and arrogant idea?” and couldn’t help himself from laughing while being at a complete loss of words.

Since the Seven Heroes of Wu Dang have made their name within the martial arts world, there has not been an encounter in which they were not able to achieve the upper hand. Regardless of how powerful of an opponent they may be pitted up against, the most they would require would be just the combined efforts of two or three brothers in order to conquer and be victorious. This “Zhen Wu Seven Spheres Formation” has not been used even once. At the present moment, Song YuanQiao knew that they were faced with great adversaries, for nobody really knew exactly how powerful the three divine reverends of Shaolin were. Though he thinks that he may be able to equally tie one of them, these were nevertheless overconfident conjectures on his own part. It could very well be that he would be thoroughly defeated as soon as he struck out, which was why he was suddenly reminded of the treasured secret weapon of the Wu Dang sect, the never-been-used “Zhen Wu Seven Spheres Formation.”

When he heard Abbot Kong Wen agreeing to fight the seven heroes of Wu Dang with seven Shaolin disciples, he then said, “We’d like to ask our respected guests to please wait here for a moment while we went and asked our third brother to find a successor right away in order to comprise the correct number for the seven disciples of Wu Dang.” Then with a look at Yu LianZhou and the others, the six brothers all respectfully bowed to Zhang SanFeng and asking to be excused before retreating into the inner rooms.

Muo ShengGu was the first one to speak, “Eldest brother, let us use the ‘Zhen Wu Seven Spheres Formation’ today and show those Shaolin monks the capabilities of a Wu Dang disciple. But who should we ask to replace our third brother?” Song YuanQiao replied, “I think concerning this matter, we should all come to a decision together. Let us not say anything right now. Each one of us will write a name on our palms and then we’ll see what the general consensus is.” Muo ShengGu said, “Alright!” and immediately took out a pen which he handed over to Song YuanQiao. Song YuanQiao wrote a few words on his palm and then clenched together his fists before handing the pen over to Yu LianZhou. Everyone took turns writing and then revealed their answers simultaneously. Song YuanQiao, Yu LianZhou and Zhang SongXi all wrote the words “Fifth Sister.” Zhang CuiShan wrote the two words “Zhuo Jing,” whereas Yin LiTing’s whole face had flushed a deep red while he refused to reveal his answer by tightly clenching together his fist. Muo ShengGu said, “Hey that’s strange, what are you hiding?” and pried open his fist only to see that on his palm were written the words, “Miss Ji.”

Zhang CuiShan was genuinely touched as he took Yin LiTing’s hands and said, “Brother!” Everyone understood that Yin LiTing was being considerate of the fact that because Yin SuSu was just beginning to recover from her illness, it was thus not very suitable for her to engage in battle. Therefore he would rather ask Ji XiaoFu, his own future wife to participate in the battle instead. Muo ShengGu had originally wanted to tease him but Zhang CuiShan immediately shot him a look to prevent him. Song YuanQiao thus said, “Fifth brother, please go and ask sister to come out then.”

Zhang CuiShan returned to his bedroom and brought out Yin SuSu before briefly outlining what the situation was like outside in the reception hall. Yin SuSu said, “The lives of the whole Dragon Gate Escort Agency, Hui Feng and the other Shaolin monks were all ended by me. But at that time, I still haven’t met CuiShan yet. I don’t want this incident to burden the Wu Dang sect anymore, let me go and tell them to go and settle these scores with my father’s Heavenly Eagle sect instead.”

Zhang SongXi said, “Sister, why continue to differentiate between you and I at this point? Besides, I believe that though these people ascended the mountain today by using the Dragon Gate Escort Agency incident as their excuse, their true goal is to interrogate about Xie Xun. Similarly, their interrogation of Xie Xun for the purpose of revenge is again just another excuse, while getting their hands on the Dragon Saber comprises their true purpose.” Muo ShengGu said, “Fourth brother's words are absolutely right. Their main desire is to covet the Dragon Saber, and regardless of what, they will try to force you to reveal the details of the treasured saber.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Years ago, the Reverend Kong Jian told my brother Xie Xun that concealed within the Dragon Sabre was a martial arts manual that can render its practitioner invincibility and the ability to conquer and dominate the whole martial arts world. Since Kong Jian was aware of this secret, then Kong Wen, Kong Zhi and Kong Xing must also know as well.”

Yin SuSu said, “If that is the case, I will follow eldest brother's every command. But your unworthy sister's martial arts are so lowly, how can I fully comprehend the brilliance of the ‘Zhen Wu Seven Spheres Formation’ in such a brief moment of time?”

Song YuanQiao replied, “In all honesty, by just combining the power of the six of us brothers to combat the seven Shaolin monks is already sufficient enough to secure our victory. But if sister you can participate on our third brother’s behalf by acting as his successor, then I’m sure that he will be incredibly grateful.”

The hearts of the six heroes of the Wu Dang all beated together as one, and the purpose behind them asking Yin SuSu to participate in the battle was not for the sake of combating the adversaries, but rather it was for Yu DaiYan's sake. It should be understood that if the Six Heroes of Wu Dang combined their efforts to attack, the power of the “Zhen Wu Seven Spheres Formation” would already be equivalent to the power of thirty two first rate fighters. Even if the three divine reverends did turn out to be very powerful, and even if there was some unknown first rate fighter amongst the disciples who accompanied them on this trip, yet even combining the power of all seven of them, it can be ascertained that there absolutely could be no way for them to turn out as being comparable to the combined power of thirty two first rate fighters. But ever since their master had taught them this “Zhen Wu Seven Spheres Formation,” they never had the chance to use it. Today, they will clench victory with just one battle and defeat all three divine reverends of Shaolin, if Yu DaiYan cannot share this victorious glory, melancholy will most definitely fill his heart. Therefore Song YuanQiao and the others wanted Yin SuSu to learn the stances from Yu DaiYan and stand in as his substitution. That way, when the legend of this battle gets passed down amongst the martial arts world in the future, Yu DaiYan can still be considered as having partaken a role in this battle even if he didn't physically join in, and they will still be spoken of as the “Seven Heroes of Wu Dang.”

The mutual understanding and genuine compassion that the brothers held towards each other were all discerned by Yin SuSu through just two three words, and therefore she said, “Alright, then I will ask our third brother to teach me. But my martial arts is much too inferior when compared to the rest of you, I just hope that I won’t get in the way and end up being a burden later.” Yin LiTing said, “Don’t worry, that won't happen. As long as you remember the steps and directions of the formation, that would already be good enough. Even if you happen to forget anything during the battle, we will all be there to remind you.”

Therefore, the seven of them all went over to Yu DaiYan’s bedroom. Since Zhang CuiShan returned home, he has already had a few talks with Yu DaiYan, but because Yin SuSu was ridden with illness, it was only until now did she finally have the chance to officially go see Yu DaiYan.

When Yu DaiYan saw the elegant exquisitness of her beautiful face and observed the gentle grace in her manners, he became very happy for his brother. Then he was filled with a desolate heartache when he heard Song YuanQiao say that she wanted to act as his substitution to participate in the “Zhen Wu Seven Spheres Formation” which they will form in order to counter the three divine reverends of Shaolin. But he has been crippled for ten years now and have gotten used to many things. Therefore with a faint smile he said, “Sister, your third brother I don't have anything good to give to you as a welcoming present. Now in this moment of haste, I can only relate to you the steps and directions of this formation. After the adversaries have retreated, I will explain to you in detail the variations and practicing methods to this formation.”

Yin SuSu replied with elated joy, “Thank you third brother.”

This was the first time that Yu DaiYan heard her open her mouth to speak, but when he suddenly heard her say the four words “Thank you third brother,” the facial muscles on his face began to contort and quiver uncontrollably while his two eyes stared blankly ahead, completely lost in thought. Zhang CuiShan asked with alarm, “Brother, are you not feeling well?” Yu DaiYan did not respond, but remained lost in a numbed, comatose state. There was a strange look in his eyes, an expression that communicated both pain and hatred. It was as if he was suddenly reminded of one of the most hated experiences of his life.

When Zhang CuiShan turned around to look at his wife, he found that her expression had also changed suddenly as well, there was a mixture of horror and anxiety written all over her face.

Song YuanQiao, Yu LianZhou and the others looked at Yu DaiYan and then looked over at Yin SuSu, not understanding why the expression of these two people would suddenly become so strange. Everyone's heart was filled with a premonition that something terrible would happen. The room had suddenly become a mass of oppressing silence, so quiet that the heartbeat of each person could almost be heard.

Yu DanYan's breathing was heard to grow increasingly rapid, and a faint flush erupted over his pale cheeks. In a low voice he said, “Sister, please come over here and let me take a look at you.” Yin SuSu's whole body was visibly shaking while she actually refused to approach Yu DaiYan. She only extended her arm to tightly cling onto her husband's arm instead.

After quite a while, Yu DaiYan sighed and said, “If you don't want to come over, that's fine as well. For I never did get to see your face that day anyways. Sister, can you please repeat these words after me, 'One, you must personally lead the escort. Two, you must take the package to the Xiang Yang city without any rest, so it will arrive in ten days. Three, should there be any problems, humph, I will kill every single person in your Dragon Gate Escort Agency.'”

When everyone heard him recite these words slowly, nobody could stop their bodies from breaking out into a cold sweat. Yin SuSu ran forward a step and said, “Third brother, it truly is remarkable of you to be able to recognize my voice. That day at Lin An City's Dragon Gate Escort Agency, the person who entrusted Du DaJin with the mission of bringing you back to Wu Dang mountain was your worthless sister I.” Yu DaiYan said, “Thank you for your kindness sister.” Yin SuSu continued, “Afterwards when the Dragon Gate Escort Agency fouled up along the journey, causing brother you to end up like this, it was also your sister I who went and completely annihilated their whole family, killing everyone including even the young and old.” Yu DaiYan coldly asked, “For what reason did you treat me with such kindness?”

Yin SuSu's face was sombre as she gave a long sigh and said, “Third brother, since things have come to this stage, I can no longer conceal anything from you any longer. But I have to state ahead of time that in regards to this, CuiShan has been kept from the truth all along. I was afraid ... afraid that after he knows of the truth, he will never ... never care about me again.”

Yu DaiYan quietly murmured, “Then you don't need to say anything. I've already become a useless cripple, there's no need to persist in chasing after the past. Why ruin the relationship between the two of you for someone like me? Now, all of you go! The six heroes of Wu Dang will combat the revered Shaolin monks, victory is at hand, do not let people think that the Seven Heroes of Wu Dang is merely an empty name.”

Yu DaiYan's will was incredibly strong, and ever since he was injured, he has never moan or groaned with any form of bitterness. Originally, he couldn't even make any sounds for speech, and it was only through Zhang SanFeng's careful and skilled treatments of transferring the inner energy that he had cultivated throughout all these years into his body, was he finally able to gradually open his mouth for speech. Yet he refused to mention a single word about what happened to him that day, and it was only today did anyone finally hear him utter these few indignant words of grief. After the brothers heard these words, there was not a single person whose blood was not boiling, while sounds of crying was furthermore heard to come from Yin LiTing. Yin SuSu said, “Third brother, I know that you have already figured out the truth, but you’re only refraining yourself from revealing it because you're taking into account of the love and friendship between CuiShan and you. It’s true, that day on the waters of the QianTang River, the person who was hiding within the compartment of the boat and who used the Mosquito Needles to hurt you was your unworthy sister I ...”

Zhang CuiShan severely roared, “SuSu, was it really you? You … you … you didn't tell me this earlier!”

Yan SuSu replied, “The true culprit who injured your third brother was your very own wife. How could I possibly tell you that?” She whipped her head around again to face Yu DaiYan and said, “Third brother, afterwards, the person who concealed the Seven Stars Needles in their palms in order to wound you and cheat away the Dragon Saber in your possession was my very own brother Yin YeWang. Because there has never been any trouble or scores of vengeance between our Heavenly Eagle Sect and your Wu Dang Sect, and since we have already obtained the Dragon Saber and furthermore respect you as a venerable and tough man, we therefore asked the Dragon Gate Escort Agency to bring you back to the Wu Dang mountain. But the twists that suddenly appeared along the journey was not something we ever expected would happen.”

Zhang CuiShan’s whole body was shaking and fire seemed to be about to blaze out of his eyes. He pointed to Yin SuSu and said, “You … you really ruined me with a wicked lie.”

Yu DaiYan was heard to suddenly give a loud scream while his whole body flipped off the bed boards. With a loud thump, he fainted while falling onto the ground. The four slabs of bed boards had broken simultaneously.”

Yin SuSu took out her sword, rotated the handle around and handed it over Zhang CuiShan while saying, “CuiShan, we have been husband and wife for ten years now. To be sheltered by your compassion and be blessed by your profound love and genuine respect, I know that I can really die with no regrets now. Please kill me with one swipe of the sword in order to preserve the brotherly rightfulness between the Seven Heroes of Wu Dang.”

Zhang CuiShan took hold of the sword and was just about to lurch forward to drive the blade through his wife’s heart when in that brief flash, the last ten years all surfaced within his heart, all of the various attractive qualities such as her warm tenderness and devoted care, gentle affections and sweet sentiments. How could he possibly bring himself to pierce forward with that sword?

He remained in a state of dumbfounded shock for a moment, and then after suddenly giving out a loud scream, he dashed out of the room. Yin SuSu, Song YuanQiao and the others did not know where he wanted to go, so they all ran after him. They watched him tear out of the room and kneel on the floor in front of Zhang SanFeng, saying “Honoured master, your disciple I have made a terrible mistake, there’s no possibly of it being rectified. I would only like to beg you of one thing.”

Zhang SanFeng was not aware of what the situation was like, therefore said with a tender expression, “What is it? Just say it and there would be nothing your master would not do for you.”

Zhang CuiShan knocked his head on the floor three times and said, “Thank you respected master, your disciple I have only one cherished son who has landed in the hands of evil villains. I would like to beg esteemed master you to rescue him out of the demons' lair and raise him into an adult.” He then stood up and ran forward a few steps before turning towards reverend Kong Zhi, Mr. Iron Zither He Tai Chong, Kong Dong Sect’s Guan Neng, E-Mei Sect’s revered nun Jing Xuan and the others, declaring in a loud and clear voice, “All crimes and sins are the doing of Zhang CuiShan’s sole person only. A true man will always confront the consequences of their actions, today I’ll give everyone a satisfying answer!” As he was saying these words, he lifted his long sword and drew it across his own neck. Bright red blood immediately gushed out as his life ended right there.

Zhang CuiShan’s intentions of committing suicide was quite strong. He already predicted that his master and fellow brothers would act out to stop him the moment he drew his sword, therefore he purposely situated himself amongst the crowd of guests and stuck out immediately after he finished saying those two sentences.”

Zhang SanFeng, Yu LianZhou, Zhang SongXi and Yi LiTing all screamed out while rushing forward at the same time. Banging sounds rang out consecutively as the body of six or seven people flew up into the air. These were all people of whom were surrounding Zhang CuiShan and whose bodies were all blown back by the force harboured within the palms of Zhang SanFeng and his disciples. But they were still too late. Zhang CuiShan's blade had already slitted through his throat, there was no possibility of salvaging the damage. Song YuanQiao, Muo ShengGu and Yin LiTing all came out slightly later, and of course would be even further away from being able to stop Zhang CuiShan.

It was at this time when a young child's voice cried from outside the long window of the hall, “Papa! Papa!” These two cries seemed to be smothered, the mouth of this speaker was obviously being covered by someone else. With a sway of his body, Zhang SanFeng had already arrived outside the long window. All that was seen was a man dressed in the attire of a Mongolian war general, in his arms was a eight or nine year old boy. That boy's mouth was covered, but he was struggling to break freak.

Zhang SanFeng's beloved disciple has just died a terrible death, and it was as if somebody has driven a knife into his heart. But due to his cultivation of nearly one hundred years, his thoughts still remained clear. He shouted in a low voice, “Get inside!” That man gave a tap with his left leg, and was just about to leap up onto the rooftops with the kid in his arms. But his shoulders immediately slumped while his whole body seemed to be suddenly held down by an incredible weight and he found that he couldn't even lift his two feet from the ground. What had happened was Zhang SanFeng had soundlessly approached the man and placed his left hand lightly on his shoulders. That man was incredibly petrified, for he knew that all Zhang SanFeng needed to do was expel some internal energy, and even if he doesn't die right away, he most definitely will be severely injured. Therefore, he could only follow his orders and enter into the reception hall. That kid was indeed Zhang CuiShan's son, Zhang WuJi. His mouth was covered by that man, but from outside the long window he was able to witness very clearly how his father committed suicide with a slash of his sword. How could he possibly not be upset? He therefore broke free forcefully, and was finally able to release a loud scream.

Yin SuSu witnessed her husband commit suicide for her, but then suddenly she saw her son return without any harm. After her tremendous sorrow, followed great joy. She asked, “Child, did you tell them the whereabouts of your godfather?” WuJi held his head upright and said bravely, “Even if they kill me, I would not say a single word.” Yin SuSu said, “That's a good boy, come and let me hold you.”

Zhang SanFeng said, “Hand the child over to her.” That man's whole body was controlled, and had no choice but to follow Zhang's orders and passed WuJi over to Yin SuSu.

Zhang WuJi fell into his mother's embrace crying, “Ma, why did they have to push my papa to commit suicide?” Yin SuSu said, “All these people here have come up onto the mountain because they wanted to force your father to kill himself.” WuJi's little pair of eyes swept slowly from the left to the right once. Though he was young, but when everyone's eyes met up with his gaze, they couldn't help but feeling shaken within their hearts.

Yin SuSu said, “WuJi, you have to promise your mother one thing.” WuJi said, “Ma, just say it.” Yin SuSu said, “Don't rush to seek revenge, you have to be patient. But don't even let a single one of them go.” When everyone heard these few cold words from her, they couldn't help but feel a cold chill brush across their back. WuJi was heard to cry, “Ma! I don't want revenge, I only want my papa to come back to life!”

Yin SuSu said tearfully, “When a person dies, there's no way of bring them back.” Her body quivered ever so slightly as she said, “Child, since your papa has died, we may as well reveal your godfather's whereabouts to others.” WuJi hurriedly said, “No, no we can't do that!” Yin SuSu said, “Abbot Kong Wen, you are the only person whom I will reveal the secret to, please bring your ear closer.” This move was out of everyone's expectations, and they were all surprised. Kong Wen said, “All is well, all is well! If only madam you were willing to reveal this earlier, fifth hero Zhang wouldn't have to die” and approached Yin SuSu, leaning his ear over.

Yin SuSu's lips moved a few times but was not heard to emit any sounds. Kong Wen asked, “What?” Yin SuSu said, “The Golden Mane Lion King Xie Xun is hiding in ...” when she got to the words “hiding in” her voice became extremely muddled again, no audible sound was heard. Kong Wen asked again, “What?” Yin SuSu replied, “He is there, your Shaolin sect can go and find him yourselves.”

Kong Wen frantically insisted, “I didn't hear anything” while he straightened his body and lifted his hands to scratch his head, a completely confused and lost expression on his face.

Yin SuSu laughed coldly and said, “I can only tell you that much. As long as you go there, you will most definitely find the Golden Mane Lion King Xie Xun.”

She embraced WuJi and said in a low voice, “Child, when you grow up, you must take caution of woman tricking you. The more beautiful that woman is, the better of a manipulator she will be.” She then pressed her lips against WuJi's ears and whispered in an extremely soft voice, “I didn't tell that monk anything, I was only lying to him ... look at ... what a great liar your mother is!” and after a bitter, anguished laugh, her arms fell to her side as her whole body slumped down to the floor. What was immediately seen was the dagger that was stuck in her chest. She had already stabbed herself with this dagger when she was embracing WuJi, but because WuJi's body was blocking her front, nobody was able to detect it.

WuJi threw himself onto his mother's body and screamed, “Mama, mama!” But Yin SuSu had driven that dagger into herself a long time ago and had been able to hold up for quite a while already. By this time, she had eventually stopped breathing. WuJi was incredibly devastated, but not only did he not sob and cry, he actually glared at Abbot Kong Wen while asking, “It was you who killed my mama wasn't it? Why did you kill my mama?”

Having witness a series of life's great tragedies all at once, even Kong Wen, the sect leader of the present era's most revered martial arts sect couldn't stop himself from feeling incredibly shaken. After being interrogated by WuJi like this, he couldn't help but back up a few steps while frantically saying, “No, it wasn't me. She ... she was the one who killed herself.”

Tears were rolling around in WuJi's eyes, but he exerted all his strength to force back these tears, muttering, “I won't cry, I will not let myself cry, won't cry in front of all you bad people.”

The Abbot Kong Wen cleared his throat softly and said, “Grand Master Zhang, we never expected that ... ai ... ai ... that it would end up like this. Since fifth hero Zhang and his spouse has already committed suicide, then we will no longer continue to interrogate about the past. We will retreat now.” After saying these words, he pressed his palms together and bowed, while Zhang SanFeng returned a bow and said cooly, “Forgive us for not seeing you out.” All the Shaolin monks got up together, turned around and prepared to leave.

Yin LiTing shouted with anger, “You all ... you all force my brother to kill himself ...” but then he immediately thought, “Brother killed himself because he felt that he had wronged third brother, it really wasn't their fault.” Therefore having just uttered half a sentence, he didn't continue to finish it and only threw himself onto Zhang CuiShan's corpse, wailing loudly.

All the guests felt unease in their hearts as they all approached Zhang SanFeng to express their intentions of departing, while they were all thinking within their hearts, “This time, the bad blood has gotten really thick. The Wu Dang sect most definitely will not easily let us off the hook this time. There will be trouble in the future.” Song YuanQiao saw the guests out, accompanying them outside to the temple doors with reddened eyes. As soon as they stepped foot outside, he turned his head around, his tears already pouring down. Within the reception hall, all that could be heard was the sobbing from everyone in the Wu Dang sect.

E-Mei sect was the last group to leave. When Ji XiaoFu saw how devastated YinLiTing was, her eyes also reddened as she approached him and said softly: “Sixth brother, I’m leaving now. Take… Take good care of yourself.” Yin Liting’s tears obscured his vision, as he lifted his head up and chokingly asked: “Did you … did you from E-Mei Sect also come here to cause trouble for my Fifth Brother?” Ji Xiaofu hurriedly replied: “No. Our Master only wanted to ask Brother Zhang to reveal Xie Xun’s whereabouts.” She paused, bit her lip till blood flowed and tremblingly said: “Sixth brother, I … I have wronged you. Take care of yourself. I will only be able to make it up to you in the next life.” Yin Liting felt that what she said was rather excessive. He replied: “This was not your fault. We won’t blame you.” Ji Xiaofu was very pale as she said: “It’s… it’s not about this…” She did not dare continue talking to Yin Liting, so she turned to Wuji and said: “Good boy, we… we will all take good care of you.” She removed her gold necklace/neck-band and tried to put it on Wuji, saying softly: “This is for you…” Wuji jerked his head away and said: “I don’t want it!” Embarrassed and left with the necklace/neck-band in her hand, Ji Xiaofu was stunned. The tear that had been welling up in her eyes finally rolled out. Jingxuan Shi-tai frowned and said: “Ji Shi-mei, why do you have so much to say to a child? Let’s go!” Ji Xiaofu hurried after her.

Wuji had been holding back, waiting for Jingxuan, Ji Xiaofu and the others to leave, so that he could cry his heart out. But suddenly, he could not breathe and collapsed to the ground. Yu Lianzhou quickly picked him up and held him in his arms, thinking that he had fainted because of his distress and trying to hold back his tears. He massaged Wuji chest a few times and said: “Child, just cry it out.” But Wuji did not wake up. His body was as cold as ice and his breathing was weak. Yu Lianzhou channeled his internal energy into him, but Wuji still did not wake up. Seeing that Wuji looked about to die as well, everyone paled. Zhang Sanfeng pressed Wuji’s Lingtai acupoint and transferred his internal energy to him. With Zhang Sanfeng’s current internal energy cultivation, unless a person was on the brink of death, no matter how severe his injury was he would definitely improve once he received Zhang Sanfeng’s internal energy. But when the internal energy entered Wuji’s body, his face turned from white to green and from green to purple, and Wuji shaking uncontrollably. Zhang Sanfeng felt Wuji’s forehead, which was as cold as a block of ice. Alarmed, Zhang Sanfeng felt the centre of Wuji’s back under his shirt and discovered that it was blazing hot like a fire was burning, while the rest of his body was a bone-penetratingly cold. If Zhang Sanfeng internal energy had not reached such an unfathomable level, he would have shivered upon coming into contact with the cold. He said: “Yuanqiao, where is the Tartar soldier who was carrying the child? Go and find him.” Yu Lianzhou, remembering how he had been injured by the Mongol soldier and knowing that his eldest martial brother was not his match, hurriedly said: “I’ll come as well.” The two of them left the hall together. When Zhang Sanfeng dragged the Mongol soldier into the hall, Zhang Cuishan had already committed suicide. This was followed by Yin Susu also committing suicide. In the midst of their grief, no one paid any attention to the Mongol soldier and he had fled.

Zhang Sanfeng tore upon Wuji’s shirt to reveal a clear dark green colour palm-print on his back. Zhang Sanfeng gently touched his back. The area of the palm-print was burning hot, while everywhere else was icy cold. Zhang Sanfeng’s hand felt uncomfortable. This injury of Wuji’s was very severe.

Before long, Song Yuanqiao and Yu Lianzhou returned to the hall. They reported: “There are no outsiders on the mountain.” When they saw the strange palm-print on Wuji’s back, they were both shocked. Zhang Sanfeng frowned and said: “I had always thought that since Taoist Priest Bai Sun (100 Damages/Injuries) died thirty years ago, the Xuan Ming Divine Palms have been lost from this world. How could it be that there is still someone who knows this martial art?” Song Yuanqiao said with shock: “This child has suffered under the Xuan Ming Divine Palm?” He was the oldest, thus he had heard of the Xuan Ming Divine Palms. Yu Lianzhou and the other had never even heard of the name. Zhang Sanfeng sighed, he did not reply. Tears running down his face, he held Wuji in his arms. He looked at Zhang Cuishan’s corpse and said: “Cuishan, Cuishan, you studied under my tutelage and entrusted me with your last wishes. But I can’t even save your only beloved son. What’s the point of me living to a hundred? What’s the point of Wudang Sect’s fame resonating throughout the world? It would be better if I were dead!” His disciples were shocked. Since they had become his disciples, Zhang Sanfeng was always easygoing and carefree. They had never heard him say such words of all-consuming despair.

Yin Liting asked: “Master, is there … is there no hope of saving this child?” Zhang Sanfeng picked up Wuji in both arms, paced back and forth in the hall, and said: “Unless … unless my Master Jueyuan comes back to life and passes the complete 9 Yang manual to me.” The hearts of his disciples sank. Zhang Sanfeng’s words meant that there was no way of treating Wuji’s injury. Everyone was silent. Yu Lianzhou said: “Master, when I fought with that man previously, the force of his palm was very uncommonly vicious. I was injured then, but have made a full recovery.” Zhang Sanfeng replied: “That was all due to the fame of the ‘Seven Heroes of Wudang’. If the Xuan Ming Diving Palms are used on an opponent with more powerful internal energy, the force of the palms will reflect back onto the user and injure him. If you meet this man in the future, you must be very very careful.”

Yu Lianzhou said: “Yes.”. He shivered as he thought: “So that man held back during the fight, fearing that I was more powerful than him. He did not release the full force of the Xuan Ming Divine Palms, otherwise chances are that I would be dead now. If I meet him in the future, he will no longer hold back.” He then thought: “I suffered and was injured by his palm. Wuji is so young, I’m afraid … I’m afraid …”

Song Yuanqiao remarked: “From the brief glimpse I had of that man, he was around 50 years old with a high nose and deep-set eyes. He looks like he is from the Western Regions.” Mo Shenggu asked: “Why did that man kidnap Wuji only to bring him to our mountain?”

Zhang Songxi said: “The man tried unsuccessfully to force Wuji to answer his questions. So he used the Xuan Ming Divine Palms to injure Wuji. He wanted Fifth Brother and his wife to see Wuji suffer with their own eyes, and so, cannot help but reveal the Golden Hair Lion King’s location to him.”

Mo Shenggu said angrily: “This man is really daring. How dare he come to cause trouble on Wudang Mountain.” Zhang Songxi replied dejectedly: “Weren’t there many people who came to cause trouble on Wudang Mountain today? Plus that man had Wuji under his control. He anticipated that we would spare the rat to save the dishes (ie hesitate to take action for fear of hurting an innocent party) and wouldn’t dare to hurt him.” The six of them sat in silence in the hall for a long while.

Wuji suddenly opened his eyes and cried: “Dad, dad, it hurts. It’s very painful.” He clutched Zhang Sanfeng tightly, with his head resting on Zhang Sanfeng’s chest. Yu Lianzhou said sternly: “Wuji, your father has died. You have to live and learn some great martial arts, so you can avenge your father’s death.” Wuji cried: “I don’t want revenge! I don’t want revenge! I want daddy and mummy to come back to life again. Second Uncle, let’s just let all the bad people go, and concentrate on saving daddy and mummy.”

When Zhang Sanfeng heard these words, he could not help his tears rolling down again. He said: “We can all only try our very best. How long he lives will depend on heaven’s mercy.” He turned to Zhang Cuishan’s body and cried: “Cuishan, Cuishan! What an unfortunate child.”

He carried Wuji to his own room, where he sealed 18 major acupoints on his body. Wuji stopped shivering after his acupoints were sealed. The green shade of his face grew darker and darker. Zhang Sanfeng knew that when the green shade became black, Wuji would stop breathing and die. He took off Wuji’s shirt, undid his own Taoist robe, and pressed his chest onto Wuji’s back. At this time, Song Yuanqiao and Yin Liting were outside arranging Zhang Cuishan and Yin Susu’s funeral. Yu Lianzhuo, Zhang Songzi and Mo Shenggu came to their Master’s room. They knew that he was using the ‘Pure Yang Boundless Energy’ skill to transfer the cold poison from Wuji’s body to his own. Zhang Sanfeng had never married. Even though he was a hundred years of age, he was a virgin. He had cultivated this skill for eighty years. Because of all this, he had reached the pinnacle of this skill. Yu Lianzhou and the others waited by his side. About an hour later (half a shichen), Zhang Sanfeng’s face turned green and his fingers began to tremble. He opened his eyes and said: “Lianzhou, you take over. When you can’t bear it anymore, let Songxi take over. You must not continue.”

Yu Lianzhou replied: “Yes.” He removed his robe and held Wuji in his arms. When his flesh made contact with Wuji’s body, he began to shiver. It felt like he was holding a piece of ice to his chest. He said: “Seventh brother, go ask someone to bring in a charcoal brazier. The hotter it is, the better.” Not long later, the fire was lit. But Yu Lianzhou still found the cold difficult to bear.

Zhang Sanfeng sat by the side and slowly circulated his internal energy through three channels. He channeled his ‘Yin Yun Zi Qi (Dense/enshrouding Purple Qi)’ from in dantian to force the cold poison out of his body little by little. When he stood up after all the cold energy had been expelled, he saw that Mo Shenggu was holding Wuji. Yu Lianzhou and Zhang Songxi were sitting by the side in complete meditative focus, expelling the cold poison from their bodies. Not long later, Mo Shenggu could endure it no longer. He ordered a novice priest to ask Song Yuanqiao and Yin Liting to take over. From this technique of using internal energy to treat injuries, it became clear whose internal energy was strong and whose was weak. Mo Shenggu could not even tolerate it for the time it took to have a cup of hot tea. Song Yuanqiao was able to endure for the time it took to burn two incense sticks. When Yin Liting carried Wuji in his arms, he yelled loudly and his whole body shivered uncontrollably. Zhang Sanfeng ordered with alarm: “Give the child to me. Sit down, regulate your breathing and clear your mind of all thoughts.” Yin Liting had been hit so hard by Zhang Cuishan’s death that his mind and thoughts were in disarray. He had to calm his thoughts down before he could continue.

In this way, the six of them took turns over three days and three nights of relentless effort to reduce the cold poison in Wuji’s body. Each person’s turn gradually became longer and longer. After the fourth day, they could finally steal a few moments of sleep. After the eight day, each person would spend four hours a day treating Wuji injury. They could then gradually recover their own strength. At first, there was great progress in Wuji’s condition. His body grew less cold, his spirits improved and he began to eat and drink. Everyone thought that he could be saved. But on the 36th day, Yu Lianzhou found that no matter how he tried to generate energy, he could not draw out a single bit of the cold poison in Wuji’s body. But his body was still as cold as ice and the green tinge in his face remained. Yu Lianzhou assumed that his own strength was not sufficient, so he went to tell his Master about it. Zhang Sanfeng tried, but he too was unsuccessful. During the next five days, all six of them tried every method they could think of, with no success.

Wuji said: “Tai shifu (Grandmaster), my arms and legs are warm, but the top of my head, my chest and abdomen are growing colder and colder.” Zhang Sanfeng was inwardly frightened, but he soothed him saying: “Your injury is now better. We won’t need to hold you every day anymore. Just sleep on my bed for now.” He then carried Wuji to his own bed to sleep.

Zhang Sanfeng and his disciples went out to the hall. He sighed: “The cold poison has seeped into the top of his head, his chest and his dantian (the area below the belly-button, where internal energy is stored). It cannot be drawn out with external strength. It looks like our hard work over these thirty-plus days has been in vain.”

He brooded for a long while, thinking: “Outsiders can no longer help him draw out the cold poison from his body. If he cultivates the unparalleled internal energy technique in the ‘9 Yang Manual’, he may then be able to use the Yang to disperse the Yin. But when my late Master Jueyuan imparted the Manual to me, I was unable to learn it fully. Even after meditating in seclusion the last few times and trying to work it out, I can only comprehend about 30 to 40 per cent of it. For now, I can only teach him to practice the skill. If he can live an extra day, let him have that extra day.”

So he taught the techniques and the formula of the 9 Yang Manual to Wuji. The skill had many complicated variations and could not be taught all at once. He started by teaching Wuji the ‘Da Zhou Tian Ban Yun’ (Heaven transporting everywhere), to circulate the warm energy from the dantian to the ren, du and chong meridians through the ‘Yin Xiang Wei Lu (Guide Yin Through the Back Door) Gate’. And after that, to divide the energy into two and channel it through the lower back to the ‘Lu Lu (Windlass) Gate’ located on both sides of the fourteenth spinal bone. From there, the energy would be directed to the ‘Yu Zhen (Jade pillow) Gate’ on the back, shoulders and neck. This was called ‘Ni Yun Zhen Qi Tong San Guan’ (transporting the energy in reverse through three gates). After that, the energy would be directed through the ‘Bai Hui (Hundred Meetings)’ acupoint at the top of the head, divided into five streams, and channeled through the whole body through the ‘Shan Zhong’ acupoint. The energy would then be divided into two again, before coming back together in the dantian. After one complete cycle, there would be a sweet feeling in the body and the energy in the dantian would feel like incense smoke was curling upwards and circulating freely around.(Translator’s note: I have no idea what Jin Yong is talking about here. Translation might not be accurate)

This was called ‘Yin Yun Zi Qi (Dense/enshrouding Purple Qi)’. When the Yin Yun Zi Qi was practiced to a high level of achievement, the cold poison in the dantian would be expelled. There was no great difference between each school’s internal energy principles, but each school’s method of practice was different. The method taught by Zhang Sanfeng was extremely powerful and could be considered the best in the world. Zhang Wuji practiced this technique for two years, developing a significant amount of Purple Qi (Yin Yun Zi Qi) in his dantian. However, the cold poison in his body stuck firmly within his meridians and would not be dispersed. The green tinge in his face grew more noticeable each day. Each time the cold poison attacked, his suffering worsened.

During these two years, Zhang Sanfeng painstakingly watched over Wuji’s internal energy cultivation. Song Yuanqiao and the others went in search of precious medicines, hundred year old ginseng, mature Chinese knotweed (Polygonum multiflorum), mountain Fuling (Wolfiporia extensa), and other types of rare herbs. Wuji consumed all of these, but the effect was like throwing a rock into the ocean. Everyone watched him become thinner and more sickly. Even though Wuji put on a brave and cheerful front, they all could not help but feel despondent, thinking that in the end, they would not be able to save Zhang Cuishan’s only heir. Wudang Sect were preoccupied with caring for Wuji, so they had no time to search out their enemies who had injured Yu Daiyan and Wuji. During these two years, the Heavenly Eagle Sect Leader Yin Tianzheng had, a few times, sent people over to visit his grandson and deliver many valuable presents. However, the Wudang Heroes hated the Heavenly Eagle Sect for indirectly bringing disaster upon Yu Daiyan and Zhang Cuishan. Each time a representative from the Heavenly Eagle Sect arrived, the presents were rejected. On one occasion, Mo Shenggu even fiercely beat up one of the representatives. After that incident, Yin Tianzheng stopped sending people over.

During the Mid-Autumn festival, the Wudang Heroes and their Master got together for a celebration. Before the banquet could begin, Wuji suddenly became ill. His face turned green and the cold surged through his body. He did not want to ruin the festive atmosphere, so he gritted his teeth and endured the pain. But who could fail to see what was happening? Yin Liting took Wuji to his room, covered him with a blanket and lit a big fire. Zhang Sanfeng suddenly said: “Tomorrow I’ll take Wuji to the Shaolin Temple in Songshan.” Everyone understood what his intention was. In order to save Wuji’s life, he had no other alternative but to humble himself and personally beg Shaolin’s Abbot Kong Wen for help to fill the gaps in the 9 Yang Manual.

Two years ago on Wudang Mountain, Shaolin and Wudang fostered a deep enmity between them. Zhang Sanfeng was a senior master of already a hundred years of age. To now surrender his position of honour and go begging for help was a big disgrace for him. Everyone knew that from now onwards, Wudang would be unable to raise their heads with pride everytime they met Shaolin. But because of their love and relationship with Zhang Cuishan, they were willing to put aside their pride. E-Mei School too had a portion of the 9 Yang Manual, but their Headmaster (Zhang Men) Mie Jue Shi Tai’s character was extremely strange. Zhang Sanfeng had written a few letters to her and ordered Yin Liting to deliver them. However, Mie Jue Shi Tai did not even open the envelopes and merely sent them back. It looked like that apart from humbling themselves before Shaolin Sect, there was no other alternative. If Song Yuanqiao led his martial brothers up to Shaolin to beg for help, that would be better for Wudang’s face. But Reverend Kong Wen would never have revealed the secrets of their 9 Yang Manual to them. When everyone thought about how the mighty Wudang School would be humbled before Shaolin from now on, they all felt depressed. Instead of enjoying the banquet and the festivities, they simply drank a few cups of wine in melancholy before cleaning up.

Early the next day, Zhang Sanfeng and Wuji set out on their journey. His five disciples initially wanted to follow along, but Zhang Sanfeng said: “If so many of us go, Shaolin School is definitely going to become suspicious. It will better if only the two of us, one old and one young, go.”

Zhang Sanfeng and Wuji mounted black horses and headed north. Shaolin and Wudang Schools were located quite close to each other. It only took a few days to travel from Wudang in Hubei to Shaolin in Henan. After Zhang Sanfeng and Wuji crossed the Han River, they arrived in Nanyang. They then traveled north to Ruzhou, then turned to the west and headed for Mt. Song. When they reached Mt Shaoshi (a mountain the Song Shan range, Shaolin is located at its foot), they tied their horses to a tree and continued on foot. Zhang Sanfeng reminisced about the past – how over eighty years ago, his Master Jueyuan ran away from Shaolin while carrying him and Guo Xiang inside a pair of buckets. With a heart heavy with regret, he held Wuji’s hand and walked up the mountain slowly. He saw that the Five Peaks (of Mt Song) and the Pagoda Forest were unchanged, but Jueyuan, Guo Xiang and the rest had long passed away.

The two of them reached a pavilion and looked at Shaolin Temple. They saw two young monks talking and laughing while walking towards them. Zhang Sanfeng stopped them and asked: “Please report that Zhang Sanfeng of Wudang Mountain humbly requests a meeting with the Abbot.”

The two monks were shocked when they heard Zhang Sanfeng’s name. They looked at him to size him up. What they saw was a very tall man with a silver beard, a shinny red face, a kindly smile and wearing a filthy green Taoist robe. Zhang Sanfeng was carefree and never paid attention to his appearance. When he was a young man, some people in the Jianghu called him the “Scruffy Priest” behind his back. Others called him “Scruffy Zhang”. Then later on, when Wudang’s martial arts were great and its name famous, no one dared to call him such.

The two monks thought: “Zhang Sanfeng is the founding master of Wudang School. Wudang is on par with our Shaolin School. Could it be that he has come to make trouble and to fight?” They saw that he was accompanied with a skinny, green-faced boy of around eleven to twelve years old. Neither of them looked special and the monks could not see any power or prestige. One of the monks asked: “Are you really Wudang’s Ven… Venerable (Zhang Zhen Ren - respectful form of address to a Taoist priest)?” Zhang Sanfeng laughed: “Yes I am, I wouldn’t dare be an impersonator.” Listening to him, the other monk felt that he did not have the bearing of the founding master of a school and disbelieved him even more. The monk asked: “You are really not joking?” Zhang Sanfeng laughed: “What is so special about Zhang Sanfeng? What is the use in impersonating him?” Half believing and half not believing him, the two monks quickly returned to the temple to report.

After quite a long time, the temple door opened and Abbot Kong Weng, Kong Zhi and Kong Xing came out. The three men were followed by about ten old monks in yellow robes. Zhang Sanfeng knew that these were the Damo Hall Elders, who may even be from a more senior generation than the Abbot. They stayed in the temple and studied martial arts, with not a care of the outside world. It was likely that they only accompanied the Abbot out when they heard that the Head of Wudang Sect, who was no ordinary person, had arrived.

Zhang Sanfeng left the pavilion, bowed and said: “How could I trouble the Abbot and all the Reverends to come out and welcome us?” Kong Wen and the others put their hands together and bowed Buddhist-style. Kong Wen said: “Venerable Zhang has come from a far, it is really beyond my expectations. What instructions do you have for me?” Zhang Sanfeng replied: “I have a request to make.” Kong Wen said: “Please sit, please sit.”

Zhang Sanfeng sat down in the pavilion and some monks served tea. Zhang Sanfeng could not help thinking with annoyance: “Regardless of anything, I am still the founding master of a Sect and your senior. Why am I not invited into the temple, but merely made to sit here halfway up the mountain? Let’s not talk about me, it would not even be appropriate for them to treat any other guest in this manner.” But he had an open-minded personality, so he did not take it to heart.

Kong Wen said: “Venerable Zhang, you have humbled yourself by coming to our mountain. By right we should invite you into the temple. But you left Shaolin Temple as a young man. You would know that our rules dictate that all disciples who forsake our Sect or are expelled are not permitted to enter the temple again. If they do, they will be subject to punishment.” Zhang Sanfeng laughed and said: “So that’s the reason. When I was young, all I did was attend to Reverend Jueyuan performing tasks like sweeping floors and making tea. Since I never shaved my head or entered into any master’s tutelage, I could not be considered a Shaolin disciple. Kong Zhi replied coldly: “But you nevertheless secretly learnt Shaolin martial arts.”

Anger surged through Zhang Sanfeng, but he thought: “Wudang’s martial arts are the product of my diligent work and study. But if Reverend Jueyuan had not taught me the ‘9 Yang Manual’ and Heroine Guo had not given me the Shaolin Iron Lohans (Arhats), the martial arts that came later would not have come into being. So it is not wrong to say that my martial arts originate from Shaolin.” So he calmed down and said: “It is regarding this matter that I came here today.”

Kong Wen and Kong Zhi glanced at each other, thinking: “Why did he come here? He can’t have good intentions. It is more likely than not that he is here over Zhang Cuishan’s death.” Kong Wen said: “Please elaborate.” Zhang Sanfeng replied: “Reverend Kong Zhi said that my martial arts originated from Shaolin. What he said is not wrong. At that time, I was Reverend Jueyuan’s attendant and learnt the 9 Yang Manual. But the Manual was too profound. As I was very young then, I was unable to learn it completely. This is one of my deepest regrets. When Reverend Jueyuan recited the Manual on that remote mountain, there were three fortunate people who heard him. One of E-Mei School’s founder Heroine Guo, one was your honourable school’s Reverend Wuse, and the last person was me. I was the youngest and had the least ability. I also had no martial arts foundation. So among the three sects, I probably absorbed the least.” Kong Zhi said coldly: “That may not necessarily be the case. Venerable Zhang attended to Jueyuan when you were young. How could it be that he did not secretly pass on the skills to you? Wudang’s fame of today is all down to Jueyuan’s efforts.” Jueyuan was three generations more senior than Kong Zhi. By right, Kong Zhi should have called him “Martial great- granduncle”. But after Jueyuan escaped from Shaolin, he was considered an expelled disciple of Shaolin and his name had been removed from the list of disciples. So in his anger, Kongzhi simply dispensed with manners. Zhang Sanfeng stood up and respectfully said: “I have never forgotten my late master’s debt of kindness to me.”

Among the Four Great Monks of Shaolin, Kong Jian was the most merciful, but unfortunately he passed away the earliest. Kong Wen was a person of deep thoughts, who did not openly display his emotions. Kong Xing was simple-minded and na├»ve, he did not pay attention to the affairs of the world. Kong Zhi was temperamental and narrow-minded. He had always felt that Zhang Sanfeng had stolen Shaolin’s martial arts. He could not help feeling angry that Wudang’s name was renown through the world. Furthermore, before Yin Susu died, she pretended to tell the whereabouts of Xie Sun to Kong Wen. This ‘Moving Disaster to Jiangdong’ scheme was very devious. During the last two years, Wulin fighters had incessantly come to Shaolin every two or three days to find out about Xie Xun’s location. Some of them came openly, others furtively and some pleaded, while others demanded. Kong Wen swore and insisted that he did not know where Xie Xun was. But that day in Wudang’s Zi Xiao Palace/Hall, hundreds of people from many sects had seen Yin Susu whisper in Kong Wen’s ear. No matter how Kong Wen tried to explain, nobody believed him. Because of this, battles were fought a few times each month, causing many injuries and deaths on both sides. When all things were considered, how could Shaolin lay the blame on anyone but Wudang? The monks had been suppressing their anger for the last two years. Beyond their expectations, Zhang Sanfeng turned up on their doorstep so they vented their anger and insulted him. Kong Zhi said: “Zhang Sanfeng has admitted stealing martial arts from Shaolin Temple, it is a pity that there are no witnesses to hear it. Otherwise this would be spread through the wulin for everyone to know.” Zhang Sanfeng said: “All the martial arts under heaven are from the same family. For hundreds and thousands of years, the strengths of some have been incorporated to offset the weakness of others (“take from the long to patch up the short”). We can no longer differentiate the true origins of each martial art. But Shaolin School has been recognized as the leader of the wulin for the last few hundred years. I came here today because I admire your noble school’s martial arts. Knowing I have not reached that level, I came to learn a few things from you, the various reverends.”

When Kong Wen, Kong Zhi and the others heard Zhang Sanfeng say “I can to learn a few things from you”, their expressions changed as they thought he was trying to challenge them to a fight. They thought this old priest had cultivated his skills for a hundred years, so his martial arts must be without measure. There was no one who was his match in the whole wide world, and he feared no one. Who knew what sort of peerless martial arts he had been practicing during the last two years? The three monks were momentarily silent.

Finally Kong Xing said: “Good Old Priest, so you want to test our abilities. I, Kong Xing, am not afraid of you. Shaolin has hundreds and thousands of monks. You may not necessarily be able to defeat us all.” Though he said he was “not afraid”, in his heart he was truly afraid. So he came up with this idea of attacking Zhang Sanfeng with hundreds and thousands of monks.

Zhang Sanfeng hastily clarified: “Please don’t misunderstand me. When I said learn a few things, I really meant that I came to ask for some pointers. I have been practicing the ‘9 Yang Manual’ that my late master passed on to me, but there are few things that I don’t understand so I have not mastered it all. Shaolin has many monks who have reached a profound level of cultivation. If Shaolin is willing to teach me, you will have Zhang Sanfeng’s eternal gratitude.” As he said this, he stood up and made a deep bow.”

These words of Zhang Sanfeng were far outside the expectations of the Shaolin monks. His martial arts were without equal, he was the founder of a school and had practiced and cultivated for ninety years. Among the denizens of the wulin in this era, there was no grander name. His status was so high that no one was his equal. The monks could never have imagined that Zhang Sanfeng would now come to Shaolin to beg for instruction. Kong Wen hurriedly bowed and said: “Venerable Zhang, you must be joking. We, your juniors, have shallow knowledge. We cannot measure up to the saying ‘the stone of the mountain studies the jade’ (this is a proverb that basically means "to remedy one’s defects by learing from other’s strenghts”; ie their level of learning is so low/inferior that they cannot measure up to that). How can we give you any pointers?”

Zhang Sanfeng knew that the whole matter appeared very strange. It would be difficult for the monks to understand and trust him, so he told them the whole story right from the beginning – how Wuji was injured by the Xuan Ming Divine Palms and how they had failed to purge the cold Yin poison from his body despite trying everything. He also spoke of how Wuji was Zhang Cuishan only beloved son, and that no matter what, he had to save Wuji’s life. He said that the current situation was that apart from learning the complete ‘9 Yang Manual’, there was no other way. He offered to relate the part of the 9 Yang Manual that he had learnt in exchange for Shaolin’s part, in order to form a more complete whole.

After Kong Wen heard this, he pondered about it for a while. Then he replied: “Shaolin has 72 martial art skills, but in all our history, not a single Shaolin disciple has been able to master more than twelve. Though Venerable Zhang’s knowledge is incomparable, there are far too many martial arts that have been passed on to us by our humble school’s ancestors. It would be extremely difficult to even learn ten percent of it all. Venerable Zhang’s suggestion of exchanging the 9 Yang Manual with us is very generous, but another skill is really surplus to our requirements.” After a while, he added: “Wudang School’s martial arts originate from Shaolin. If we exchange our skills today, in the future the ignorant denizens of the Jianghu will say that Shaolin has benefited from Venerable Zhang. As the head of Shaolin, I cannot allow that to happen.”

Zhang Sanfeng’s heart sank, thinking: “You are the head of the Wulin’s number one school and the first of the Four Divine Monks. Yet, you are narrow-minded and only have the interests of your school at heart.” But as someone who had come seeking a favour, he could not speak his mind. So he said: “You three are the divine monks of this era and merciful. This child is dying. I hope that you’ll have the saving heart of Buddha and fulfill our request. I will be much obliged.” But no matter how he tried to persuade them, the three monks politely declined.

Finally, Kong Wen said: “I can only act according to our rules, please do not take offense.” He turned around and instructed a monk: “Tell the kitchen to prepare a vegetarian banquet. We will entertain Venerable Zhang here.” The monk acquiesced and left. Zhang Sanfeng’s face darkened. He raised his hand and said: “In that case, I have come here in vain. I do not dare partake in the feast. My apologies for bothering you, please do not take offence.” He bowed, took Wuji’s hand and departed.

End of Chapter 10.

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