The Return of the Condor Heroes Chapter 11-15

@Chapter 11 – A Pause from Roaming
Yang Guo had dashed forward only two steps when suddenly a gust of wind brushed over his head, a person darted past and stood between him and the five clowns and laughed, “That was a great slumber!” It was the ‘Nine-Fingered Wondrous Beggar’ Hong Qigong. Yang Guo was delighted while the five clowns were startled and shocked. When Hong Qigong first lay down on the snow he really was sleeping, but woke up when the fifth clown stepped on him. He wanted to test the young man and see whether he could keep his promise of guarding him for three days. Every time Yang Guo checked his breathing, he would stop breathing and pretended to be dead. Now he was standing at the mouth of the path with an awe-inspiring air. His left hand made a semi-circle, his right hand pushed out a palm; it was his life’s proudest work, the stance of “Overcoming the Dragon with Regret” from the “Eighteen Dragon Subduing Palms”. The first clown couldn’t avoid it; he knew he couldn’t meet this stance head on but all he could do was to push his palms out and use his strength to fend off the attack.

Hong Qigong was keeping his palm’s power in check; he only used ten percent of his internal energy but the first clown felt his arms go numb and his chest ache. The second clown saw that he was in danger; he was afraid that Hong Qigong’s palms will force him into the deep valley so he quickly stretched out his hand and pushed the first clown’s back. Hong Qigong’s palm power increased; the second clown moved back, almost slipping down into the deep valley. The fourth clown was standing behind them and stretched out his arm to support them. Hong Qigong’s palms power spread through them, it spread towards the fourth clown who in turn passed it onto the third clown and the third clown spread it towards the final one in the line, the fifth clown. The clowns had nowhere to hide and nowhere to run; in the blink of an eye, they were defeated by Hong Qigong’s single palm.

Hong Qigong laughed, “You five scoundrels are evil and wicked you should be able to die without complaint under the single palm of the Old Beggar.”

The five of them positioned themselves into the mount posture; they flared up their chi and united their internal energy to resist the single palm but they felt the force of the palm getting heavier. Their chests felt tighter and gradually it was becoming more difficult to breathe. Hong Qigong suddenly gave out a ‘yi’ call showing his surprise. He took back eighty percent of his palm’s power and said, “Your internal energy has its good points, who is your master?”

The first clown still had his two palms pushing out against him; he struggled for breath as he said, “We are… are under the tutelage of Master Da’erba.”

Hong Qigong shook his head and said, “Da’erba? I haven’t heard of him. Hmm, your internal energy can be spread mutually to each other, this kung fu is terrific.”

Yang Guo thought, “To get Hong Qigong to say ‘terrific’, then it really must be terrific. Yet when I looked at their skills I thought they were very ordinary and none of them can beat me.”

Hong Qigong asked, “What’s your sect?”

The first clown said, “Our master is… is the second… second disciple of Western Tibet’s Holy … Holy Monk Jinlun Fawang.”

Hong Qigong shook his head again, and said, “Western Tibet’s Holy Monk, Jinlun Fawang? I’ve never heard of him. Western Tibet has a monk, his name is Reverend Lingzhi, he I have seen; his kung fu is stronger than yours but his skills aren’t advanced. Your kung fu is good; hmm, it makes sense. Go and get your Grand Master here to fight with me.”

The first monk replied, “Our Grand Master is a holy monk, the living Buddha, Mongolia’s number one martial artist, all knowing and all powerful. How…how…”

The second clown noticed from Hong Qigong’s tone that he was going to spare them, but with the way that the first clown was replying they were cutting off their escape route so he quickly interrupted and said, “Yes, yes. We’ll quickly go and get our Grand Master here to duel with Hong Qigong. Only our Grand Master can fight with senior Hong. We juniors will raise our wine gourds and… and…”

As he said this, there came a ‘duo’ ‘duo’ ‘duo’ sound; a person appeared from around the corner of the mountain. His body was upside down, each hand holding a piece of rock, walking with his palms, it was Western Poison Ouyang Feng. Yang Guo’s voice cracked as he called out, “Father!”

Ouyang Feng did not bother to find out what was happening and leapt behind the five clowns and stretched out his right foot and placed it on their backs; a strong energy rushed through the five clowns. Hong Qigong was shocked with the sudden appearance of Ouyang Feng; he heard Yang Guo call him ‘Father’ and understood that he was his son; no wonder he was so good. He felt his arm sink as the opponent’s internal energy reached him; he quickly increased his strength and returned the attack.

Since the second Mount Hua competition, Hong Qigong had not seen Ouyang Feng for over ten years. Although Ouyang Feng’s mind was unclear, he practiced the Contrary Nine Yin Manual”; the more he practiced the stranger his kung fu became, and the stranger it became the more powerful he became. Guo Jing and Huang Rong had recited a small portion of the manual to Hong Qigong; it made an impression on his kung fu and great progress in his martial arts. The final stage of the “Nine Yin Manual” is superior to the “Contrary Nine Yin Manual”, although Hong Qigong only knew a little; he wasn’t inferior to Ouyang Feng.

Tens of years ago it was difficult to separate the two, since then they had both met new boundaries. Today they came across each other on Mount Hua for the third time, once internal energy went out; it was indeed hard to differentiate between the two. The ones that were to be pitied are the Five Clowns of the Tibetan Border; being sandwiched between two of the world’s most powerful fighters, they became the apparatus for kung fu practice. A sandbag for punches and kicks, they were cold for a while, then hot for a while, their breathing was tight and then slow, the bones all over their body made ‘ka la’ noises; it was a hundred times more excruciating than the most severe punishments. Ouyang Feng suddenly asked, “The five’s internal energy is very good. What sect are you from?”

Yang Guo thought, “Even Godfather says their internal energy is very good; the five clowns indeed are not run-of-the-mill fighters.” He heard Hong Qigong say, “They said they are the grand disciples of Western Tibet’s Holy Monk Jinlun Fawang.”

Ouyang Feng said, “Jinlun Fawang compared to you, who’s better?” Hong Qigong said, “Don’t know, I don’t think there’s much difference.” Ouyang Feng said, “How about compared with me?”

Hong Qigong said, “He’s better than you a bit.”

Ouyang Feng was shocked and called out, “I don’t believe it!”

In between the exchange of words, the energy in the hand and foot increased. Hong Qigong sent out different levels of palm energy but they were all dispersed by Ouyang Feng’s foot energy; the power in the foot increased but it was difficult to move Hong Qigong back even half an inch. After this exchange both admired each other, they laughed and jumped back.

The strong force within the Five Clowns of the Tibetan Border suddenly disappeared; they couldn’t stop themselves wobbling about as if they were drunk on wine. The five had the internal energies of two great fighters circulated to and fro between them, their internal organs had been seriously injured, the muscles weakened and bones softened; they had become invalids. They wouldn’t be able to fight off even a small child of seven or eight years of age. Hong Qigong shouted, “You five scoundrels, your lifelines haven’t reached their end today; it doesn’t matter anyway since you can't do anymore harm, just crawl away. Remember to go and tell your Grand Master Jinlun Fawang to come to the central plains and find me so we can do a little sparring.”

Ouyang Feng said, “With me too.” The Five Clowns of the Tibetan Border all agreed and limped away, supporting each other as they descended down from the peak.

Ouyang Feng flipped upright and stared at Hong Qi Gong and then shouted, “Hey, your kung fu is very good, what’s your name.”

After hearing this and seeing the confused look on his face, Hong Qigong knew that since he went mad over ten years ago, he hadn’t recovered and so said, “I’m called Ouyang Feng, what’s your name?”

Ouyang Feng’s heart shook, he felt that the words ‘Ouyang Feng’ were very familiar but he couldn’t remember what he was called, and he shook his head and said, “I don’t know. Hey, what am I called?”

Hong Qigong laughed and said, “You don’t even know your own name. Go home and think about it.” Ouyang Feng angrily said, “You must know, tell me.”

Hong Qigong said, “Fine, you’re called Smelly Toad.” The word ‘Toad’ was very familiar to Ouyang Feng, when he heard this it felt right, but there was also a feeling that it was wrong. He and Hong Qigong had been adversaries for tens of years; the hate had been etched deeply into his mind, although he didn’t understand right now. Yet when he looked at him, Ouyang Feng felt aggravated.

Hong Qigong saw him standing there in a daze, a fierce glow was in his eyes. Hong Qigong secretly put his guard up, indeed he heard Ouyang Feng shout out and ruthlessly throw himself forward. He didn’t dare hesitate and immediately used his “Eighteen Dragon Subduing Palms”. The two fought in the wind and the slippery snow on a narrow path that was only about a foot wide; using their greatest skills with great effort in the battle. On one side was a two thousand foot deep chasm, just one little mistake and they would fall to their deaths; this was much more dangerous than fighting on flat, even ground. The two of them were now fairly old, though their vigor has lessened; their study of martial arts had reached an extremely pure level. The stances were pure and profound, so profound that everything was ingenious and masterly, only ten or so moves were exchanged. The two couldn’t stop themselves from admiring each other.

Ouyang Feng said, “The Old Beggar is very lethal.”

Hong Qigong laughed and said, “Smelly Toad is also terrific.”

Yang Guo knew that the terrain was extremely dangerous, he was afraid that Ouyang Feng would fall down into the valley; but then he could see that Hong Qigong was in distress and hoped that he too would be safe. Ouyang Feng was his Godfather, he had deep feelings for him; nevertheless, Hong Qigong was gallant, he had the air of a great hero around him. As soon as he met him an impression was left in his heart. He had endured hunger, cold, extreme dangers in guarding Hong Qigong for three days and three nights. Although they didn’t say a word to each other in the three days, in Yang Guo’s mind, it was as if they both endured hundreds and hundreds of life threatening dangers together.

Tens of stances later, Yang Guo saw that the two’s incomparably swift and powerful attacks had changed from dangerous to safe. He soon forgot about the safety of the two and concentrated on watching the masterly kung fu that was on display. The “Nine Yin Manual” is the peak of the world’s martial arts, he only knew odd fragments of it; now he saw the two use the theories of the manual within their stances. He couldn’t help himself from being shocked and surprised, he thought, “So even an ordinary sentence from the manual has so many ways to express its meaning.”

Over a thousand stances passed, although the two had yet to use all their skills, their age was catching up with them. They felt they were getting out of breath and their hearts were beating faster, it was unavoidable that their arms and legs would get slower.”

Yang Guo called out, “You two have been fighting for over half a day, you must be hungry, how about eating first and then carry on later?”

As soon as Hong Qigong heard the word ‘eat’ he immediately jumped back and said, “Great idea, great idea!”

Yang Guo had seen the fifth clown bring up cold food in a bamboo basket and had placed off to the side. He went to it and brought it over and opened the lid, he saw cold chicken and meat, white wine and cold rice; everything that was needed was there. Hong Qigong was delighted, he picked up a cold chicken and bit down with large bites hurriedly, eating noisily.

Yang Guo picked up some cold meat and passed it to Ouyang Feng and softly said, “Father, where have you been all this time?” Ouyang Feng stared at him and said, “I’ve been searching for you.”

Yang Guo’s heart ached and thought, “There is someone on this world that actually loves me like this.” He held his arm and said, “Father, you are Ouyang Feng. Senior Hong is a good person, don’t fight him.”

Ouyang Feng pointed to Hong Qigong and said, “He’s Ouyang Feng, Ouyang Feng is a bad person.” Yang Guo saw that his mind was confused and felt sad.

Hong Qigong laughed and said, “You’re right, Ouyang Feng is a bad person, Ouyang Feng deserves to die.” Ouyang Feng looked at Hong Qigong and then at Yang Guo. He exhausted his strength trying to remember but his mind and memories were still scrambled. Yang Guo fed Ouyang Feng some food and then stood up, he said to Hong Qigong, “Senior Hong, he is my Godfather. He has a severe mental illness, his mind is confused, please pity him and don’t make it hard for him.”

Hong Qigong heard this and nodded a few times, and said, “Young man, so he’s your Godfather.”

Who could have expected that Ouyang Feng would suddenly leap up and called out, “Ouyang Feng, we can’t find a winner using our fists and kicks, we’ll compete again using weapons.”

Hong Qigong shook his head and said, “There’s no need to compete, let’s just say you win.”

Ouyang Feng said, “What win or lose? I must kill you.” He stretched out his hand and broke off a branch; he took off the twigs and leaves from the branch forming a staff. He attacked downwards at Hong Qigong’s head. His snake staff was famous years ago, it was extremely lethal, although there wasn’t a snake at the head of this staff, before the attack arrived, the wind produced was so strong that it made if difficult for Yang Guo to breathe. Yang Guo quickly dived out of the way. When he looked up at Hong Qigong, he saw him pick up a branch and used it as a short rod, the two battled again. Hong Qigong’s “Dog Beating Stick Technique” has nothing like it in the world, but he doesn’t use it casually; apart from this technique, he has many refined and ingenious rod stances and right now he was using them.

This heated battle was another spectacular fight like the last one with fists and kicks; the stick was like an elusive dragon, the staff like an efficacious dancing snake. It was like watching a rainbow traveling across the sky or a shooting star chasing after the moon, the fight held Yang Guo entranced as he watched. The staff and stick went to and fro, they fought until dusk, and again it was difficult to separate the two. Yang Guo saw that the ground was extremely dangerous; the mountain was covered with ice and snow and was extremely slippery. The two of them were old, if they fought for much longer they would definitely loose their footing so he loudly called out, telling them to stop. But Hong Qigong and Ouyang Feng were fighting with great pleasure, why would they stop? Yang Guo knew that mentioning food to Hong Qigong made him stop, so he thought that luring him with good food would be effective. So he went to the wild mountainside and dug up some mountain herbs and yams, started a fire and roasted them.

Hong Qigong smelt the fragrant scent and called out, “Smelly Toad, I don’t want to fight with you, eating is more important.” He ran to Yang Guo’s side and picked up two clumps of mountain herbs and ate them. Although they burnt his mouth he kept on chewing. Ouyang Feng rushed over and raised his staff over Hong Qigong’s head chopping down. Hong Qigong ignored him and threw him a clump of the mountain herbs and called out, “Just eat!” Ouyang Feng stopped. He caught it and started to eat it, forgetting about the heated battle they were just in.

That night the three of them slept in a cave. Yang Guo wanted to help his Godfather regain his memories and mentioned past events to him. Ouyang Feng stood there in a daze not replying, sometimes he would hit his head with his fist, showing that he’s trying extremely hard to remember but he could not, it was extremely hard for him. Yang Guo worried that he would get even crazier so made him go to sleep, he himself was tossing and turning and couldn’t sleep. He was thinking about the fist and palm stances that the two used, the more he thought about it the more excited he got. He couldn’t stop himself and got up quietly. Studying them, he felt that the ingenuity and mastery of the stances was boundless; he practiced into the middle of the night until he was extremely tired and went to sleep.

The next morning, Yang Guo had not yet wakened up from his sleep when he heard gusts of wind from outside the cave, in between them were the sounds of leaping and jumping. He quickly hurried outside to see Hong Qigong and Ouyang Feng battling each other heatedly again. He sighed and thought, “These two old seniors aren’t acting their age, what’s the point of fighting like this?” He could only sit aside and watch. He saw Hong Qigong’s stances and understood every stance and every move but it was difficult for him to grasp Ouyang Feng’s strange stances, every time Hong Qigong seemed to gain the upper hand, Ouyang Feng’s strange stances would bring them to a level pegging again.

The two of them battled in the day and slept at night, they fought for four days running, both of them were exhausted but neither of them dared to let slip even half a stance. Yang Guo pondered, “Whatever happens tomorrow I mustn’t allow them to fight again.” That night he waited for Ouyang Feng to go to sleep and then quietly said to Hong Qigong, “Senior, please come outside, I have something to say.” Hong Qigong followed him outside. About a hundred feet away from the cave, Yang Guo suddenly got down on his knees, and kept on kowtowing, yet he didn’t say a word. Hong Qigong was startled but understood; he knew that Yang Guo wanted him to have pity on Ouyang Feng and his illness and leave. He laughed at the sky and said, “So be it.”

After only walking away for a few tens of feet, his garments were held in a gust of wind, Ouyang Feng darted out of the cave and swept out his staff angrily shouting, “Old Beggar, trying to escape?”

Hong Qigong conceded three stances to him as he tried to find a path of escape but he was held up by the gusts of wind created by the staff. When skilled fighters are dueling, one mustn’t concede even half a move, Hong Qigong had the intention of conceding to him and immediately fell into danger. It was a desperate situation; many times he almost lost his life to the staff. He saw the staff heading straight for him, attacking his lower abdomen; he knew that this stance must have a lethal move to follow it. He couldn’t avoid it and let him have this stance. He raised his stick to block it. He suddenly felt a powerful internal energy surging through the staff, he couldn’t stop himself from being shocked, “You want to compete internal energy with me?” He thought, “The enemy’s internal energy is arriving, there is no other way to defend apart from using my own internal energy to block it.” He quickly circulated his internal energy and prepared to defend. If they lose concentration for a split second and get struck by the opponent’s weapon or palm, their internal energy will be all over their body and will defend against the attack. Although they would be injured, it won’t be anything serious. Now that they are competing with internal energy, they couldn’t concede to the other one iota; they had reached a stage where it wouldn’t finish unless one died. The two of them had fought each other many times in the past, and each time both were worried about their own safety and how strong the other was. Normally they wouldn’t use such a dangerous way to attack each other since they were afraid that in their quest to seek glory, they would be disgraced instead and lose their lives for no purpose. But Ouyang Feng wasn’t thinking properly; he hadn’t managed to gain victory in the last few days so suddenly circulated his internal energy to attack.

Decades ago, Hong Qigong hated Ouyang Feng to the bone, but now he was old and had mellowed. Now Ouyang Feng was mad and Yang Guo had pleaded for his life; Hong Qigong had no intentions of killing him, so he circulated his chi throughout his ‘dan tian’. He just defended and didn’t attack, waiting for Ouyang Feng to exert all his energy. He didn’t know that his opponent’s internal energy was like the waves of a large river, the source of it incessantly sending out waves of internal energy. After one wave, came another, there was no sign of it weakening but instead it was getting fiercer and fiercer. Hong Qigong always believed that his internal energy was profound. In these past years he had refined his fierce internal energy to new levels; even if he couldn’t beat Western Poison, if he used all his energy to defend, he would not lose. But who could have guessed that after all these exchanges of internal energy, Ouyang Feng was getting stronger and stronger.

Hong Qigong remembered the time when he was competing internal energy with Ouyang Feng with the Five Clowns of the Tibetan Border sandwiched in between them; Ouyang Feng had sent out his internal energy with his foot three times, each time stronger than the last. He noticed, at that time, that before the first wave of internal energy had dissipated the second wave had arrived, after the second wave arrived, the third followed. If he just defended and let him keep on pressing, it would definitely be hard to defend against. Only by returning his own energy between the gaps and forcing him to defend will he stop Ouyang Feng from amassing a great force. Once he thought about this he immediately circulated his internal energy and attacked. The two’s bodies shook as the energies collided.

When Yang Guo saw the two competing internal energy he was extremely worried; if he attacked Hong Qigong’s back, he would help his Godfather gain victory. He looked at Hong Qigong and saw a head full of white hair, and within his commanding air there was a compassionate and merciful part. In the spaces between his heroic natures there was peacefulness to go with it. He couldn’t stop himself from bowing down to him, not to mention that he had responded to his plea and was willing to leave. How could he harm him?

The two of them froze for a while, white smoke came out from Ouyang Feng’s head, and gradually it became denser and denser, like steam coming from a steamer. Hong Qigong had also used all his strength to defend; right now he had no way to control whether or not he would harm his opponent’s life. If he could just protect himself that would be fortunate enough.

They competed from dawn until morning, from morning until midday until Hong Qigong gradually felt his internal energy draining away. However, his opponent’s internal energy kept on surging towards him like a violent storm. He quietly said, “So the madder the old poisonous animal gets, the more powerful he becomes; the Old Beggar’s life is going to end today.” He knew that his battle would have an ending; he now had no way to avoid this and could only use all his strength to resist. But he didn’t know that Ouyang Feng’s internal energy was also declining due to exhaustion, it was hard for him to maintain his palm’s power. They continued for another four hours until it got dark. Yang Guo saw that their faces had changed; he thought that if they battled any longer, they would definitely perish together. The difference in internal energy between him and the two was vast. If he wanted to break them up himself, most probably he would not be able to separate them. Instead he would lose his life in the attempt. He delayed for a while and saw Ouyang Feng’s face looked worried and Hong Qigong was out of breath, he thought, “Even if it is dangerous I need to save their lives.” So he went and broke off a tree branch and got down on his knees between the two; he circulated his chi around his body to protect himself and stretched out his branch placing it in between the staff and stick.

Who could have known that this separation would not waste any energy? The two’s internal energy rushed into the branch and after meeting his circulated chi, the energies were dispersed. A strong bow cannot pierce a silk cloth; although the Northern Beggar and Western Poison are two of the most renowned men in the world of Wulin, they had spent many days consuming and exhausting their energy. After being disturbed by his interference, the two of them fell onto the ground, their faces grey as ash and it was hard for them to move.

Yang Guo was alarmed and called out, “Father, Senior Hong, are you okay?”

The two of them struggled to breath and didn’t reply. Yang Guo wanted to move them into the cave to rest but Hong Qigong lightly shook his head. Yang Guo knew that the two were severely injured and could not be moved. That night he slept between the two, afraid that they would get up in the middle of the night and fight again. The two of them couldn’t even circulate their chi to recuperate, how could they fight each other? The next morning, Yang Guo saw that they looked like they were on the point of death, they looked worse than yesterday. He was alarmed and flustered; he dug up some more mountain herbs and roasted and fed it to them. On the third day, the two of them showed signs of being a little better. Yang Guo moved them into the cave, placing them on either side with him in the middle.

They rested like this for several days. Once Hong Qigong regained his appetite he started to recover. Ouyang Feng didn’t say anything but his expression was calm, Yang Guo tried to get him to talk but he wouldn’t say anything.

That day, the two of them were lying on the ground facing each other when Hong Qigong suddenly called out, “Smelly Toad”, do you revere me now?”

Ouyang Feng said, “Revere what? I still have many stances that I haven’t used, once I use them all, you’ll be beaten into dust.”

Hong Qigong laughed and said, “What a coincidence, I too have many kung fu that I haven’t used yet. Have you heard of the Beggar Clan’s “Dog Beating Stick Technique”?”

Ouyang Feng trembled, and thought, “The “Dog Beating Stick Technique” sounds familiar, it seems to be extremely potent, could it be that the Old Beggar knows it? But how come he hasn’t used it when we’ve been fighting for our lives? He’s probably used it already. Or, he doesn’t know it.” So he said, “What’s so special about the “Dog Beating Stick Technique”?” Hong Qigong was regretful; during the days when he was fighting with him, all he had to do was just use a few stances of the “Dog Beating Stick Technique” and he would definitely be able to subdue him. But he felt that Ouyang Feng was mentally unstable so he already has an advantage over him. Using the Beggar Clan’s treasured “Dog Beating Stick Technique” against him wouldn’t be fair. It was not the actions of a hero. But who knew that although his mind was unstable, his kung fu did not decline one bit. In the end, both of them ended up seriously injured. He wanted to use this set of skills but he had no energy to do so. When he heard Ouyang Feng ask this question he couldn’t take it and had a thought, he signaled to Yang Guo telling him to lower his ear and said, “I am the Beggar Clan’s previous chief, do you know that?”

Yang Guo nodded, in Chongyang Palace he heard the Taoists talk about the famous people of the world. They said that the Beggar Clan’s previous chief the “Nine Fingered Wondrous Beggar” Hong Qigong had supreme martial arts and was courageous, a real hero.

Hong Qigong said, “I have a set of techniques that I’m going to teach you. This set of techniques is passed onto the Beggar Clan’s chief only and never to outsiders. Because your Godfather is belittling me with his words, I want you to perform it for him to see.”

Yang Guo said, “Since this skill of Senior’s is never passed on to outsiders, this junior will not learn it. My Godfather’s mind hasn’t recovered yet, there is no need for Senior to torment him.”

Hong Qigong shook his head and said, “If you learn the stances but don’t know the formulae to accompany it, should you face an enemy, it would be useless. And so, you can’t really say that I’m teaching you kung fu. I don’t want you to attack your Godfather, just demonstrate it to him and once he sees it, he will understand.”

Yang Guo thought, “Since that this set of kung fu is a treasure of the Beggar Clan, my Godfather may not be able to beat it; why should I help you to defeat my Godfather?” He rejected the offer, saying that he can’t learn the secret skill of the Beggar Clan.

Hong Qigong saw through him and loudly said, “Smelly Toad”, your Godson knows that you can’t beat my “Dog Beating Stick Technique”, he doesn’t dare to demonstrate it to you.”

Ouyang Feng was angry and called out, “Son, I have many great skills that I haven’t used yet, why should I be afraid of him? Quickly demonstrate it for me.”

The two were forcing him, he had no other response but to go over to Hong Qigong’s side. Hong Qigong told him to take a branch and taught him a stance of the “Dog Beating Stick Technique”, “The Stick Beats Two Dogs”, carefully describing it to him. Yang Guo understood immediately and demonstrated it. Ouyang Feng saw that the stick technique was indeed wondrous and powerful, it would be difficult for him to overcome it straight away, he thought for a while and taught a staff technique stance to Yang Guo.

Hong Qigong gave a slight smile and said, “Fine, here’s another stance.”

The two of them then compared martial arts with their mouths and tongues. They continued until night fell, only ten or so moves were exchanged yet Yang Guo was exhausted and sweating all over. The next morning they continued, and they carried on for three days, by then, the thirty six stances of the “Dog Beating Stick Technique” were described. Though there were only thirty six stances, the changes in between them had boundless ingenuity, in the end, Ouyang Feng took longer and longer to come up with a solution. But the stances that he came up with attacked and defended at the same time, the strength and power of them was excellent; when Hong Qigong saw this he let out a sigh of respect.

By the night of that day, Hong Qigong described the thirty-sixth stance “No Dogs Under Heaven” sixth change. This was the “Dog Beating Stick Technique’s” final stance and final change; once this stance was used, there would be a stick everywhere and when the internal energy arrived, had there been eighty evil dogs, all of them would be killed at the same time. It was called “No Dogs Under Heaven” because of this, the ingenuity and mastery of the rod technique had reached the highest echelons of martial arts. Ouyang Feng couldn’t think of a reply. He spent that night tossing and turning as he pondered that stance.

Before Yang Guo woke up the next morning, Ouyang Feng suddenly called out, “I’ve got it… I’ve got it. Son, use this staff stance to break his.” His voice was excited and urgent at the same time. Yang Guo could hear that there was something wrong with him, he took a look and was shocked. Though Ouyang Feng was old, his internal energy was profound, so the hair on his face and head was grey white in colour; but he had exerted himself too much that night thinking. In just a night his hair became completely white, as if he’d suddenly aged ten years.

Yang Guo was sad, he wanted to ask Hong Qigong to stop the competition, but Ouyang Feng repeatedly forced him to do as he said, in the end he could only comply. This stance was extremely complicated, Ouyang Feng repeated it and explained it until Yang Guo understood and did as he was instructed. When Hong Qigong saw this stance his face changed. He was lying on the floor, unable to move; suddenly he somehow gained divine strength and leapt up calling out, “Old poisonous animal, Ouyang Feng! Today, Old Beggar is in awe of you.” He jumped forward and hugged him tightly. Yang Guo was startled, he assumed that he was trying to harm his Godfather. He tried to pull him away but Hong Qigong was holding on tightly, he was unable to pull him away. He heard Hong Qigong laugh and called out, “Old poisonous animal, Ouyang Feng, you actually thought of a stance to break mine, you really are something! Good Ouyang Feng, good Ouyang Feng.”

After many days of fighting and a whole night of thinking, Ouyang Feng had exhausted all his strength. When he heard Hong Qigong call him ‘Ouyang Feng’ three times, suddenly something lit up in him. His mind was like a mirror, all the events of the past came before his very eyes; he also laughed and called out, “I’m Ouyang Feng! I’m Ouyang Feng! I’m Ouyang Feng! You’re the Old Beggar Hong Qigong!”

The two white haired men hugged each other and laughed. After a bout of laughter, the voices became quieter, then suddenly stopped, and the two of them lay motionless.

Yang Guo was shocked and kept on calling out, “Father, Senior!” neither replied. Yang Guo pulled Hong Qigong’s arm, but as soon as he did so the arm hung limp, he was dead. Yang Guo was startled and bent over to take a look at Ouyang Feng; he too had all lost signs of being alive. Though the two’s laughter has ended, their faces still held a smile, and the valley quietly echoed back the sounds of two people laughing. Northern Beggar and Western Poison had been adversaries for many years and they hated each other. And now they ended up dead together on Mount Hua. The two of them were enemies when they were alive, but just before they died they were hugging each other and laughing. All the feuds and arguments that they have had over the years were ended with a laugh!

Yang Guo was shocked and sad at the same time; he had no idea what to do. He remembered that Hong Qigong pretended to be dead for three days and three nights, could it be that the two of them were pretending to be dead? But judging from how they looked, it didn’t appear that they were pretending. He thought, “Maybe after dying for a while they’ll come back to life. Their martial arts are extremely good; they wouldn’t die just like that. Maybe they are competing again, seeing who can fake death the longest.”

He guarded the two for seven days and nights and every time a day passed, a bit of his hope drained away. He saw that the two’s faces had changed colour and knew then that they had really passed away. He sobbed for a while, and then, in the side of the cave, he dug two holes and buried the two extraordinary figures of the Wulin world. The weapons they used and Hong Qigong’s wine gourd were buried with them. He saw that the footprints that the two had left when they were fighting had turned to ice, the prints were still here yet their bodies have now been placed in the ground. Yang Guo stepped into the footprints and reminisced, he couldn’t stop himself from being depressed again. He then thought about how even with their frightening abilities, in the end they were buried by someone the world despised. What is fame, what is reputation; it’s just a dream that’s finished.

He kowtowed eight times in front of their tombs, thinking, “Though Godfather was brilliant, in the end he was a level below Hong Qigong." When the “Dog Beating Stick Techniques” were demonstrated, Godfather had to think for quite a while before he overcame them, if he really faced this in battle, who would allow him to carefully study it and then think of a way to counter it?”

After many sighs, he found a path down the mountain and left it behind. This time when he was leaving the mountain, he was trusting in his footsteps again, he didn’t distinguish between east, south, west or north. He thought that since the world is a large place, he was alone, he would wander around and when his time comes, he’ll lie on the ground somewhere and die. He hadn’t been on Mount Hua for a month, yet to him it was like many years had passed. When he was ascending the mountain, he was thinking about how everyone looked down on him, he was full of hate and anger. As he descended, he felt life was like a passing cloud, if others respect him or look down on him it’s all the same. What’s it have to do with him anyway? At such a young age, he was resentful of the world’s customs, he won’t rise in respect for the world.

Within a day’s time he arrived at a wild place in Xianan; he took a look around and saw withered trees and wilted grass everywhere. The grass was fluttering in the wind. The sound of quiet hoofs could be heard in the west, dust and smoke rose, after a short while, tens of wild horses galloped past about a mile or so in front of him. He saw the herd of horses galloping wildly, freely, Yang Guo also felt carefree and joyous. With wild lands in front of his eyes and horses galloping afar, the world was vast and had no obstructions. Just as he was feeling satisfied he suddenly heard a horse hissing out for mercy from behind.

Yang Guo turned around and saw a yellow haired skinny horse pulling a cart of firewood slowly along the main road. He thought that the horse must have seen the other horses galloping freely in the wild lands. It was toiling with hard work and it hissed out as it lamented for itself. The horse was so skinny that its breast bone was sticking out, its four legs had no muscle and they were as thin as branches. Its fur was patchy, its skin was covered in scabies, and there were numerous traces of blood from wounds caused by whipping. A rude man was sitting on the cart, he disliked that the horse was going slow and whipped it incessantly. Yang Guo has suffered by others many times before; when he saw the horse suffering such punishment, it felt like he himself was suffering the whippings. His chest ached and tears almost escaped from his eyes. He stood in the road and angrily shouted, “Hey you, why are you whipping the horse?”

The rude man saw a kid in torn and old garments looking like a beggar blocking the road, he raised his whip and shouted, “Move out of the way now, don’t you want your life?” As he said this he slapped his whip on the horse’s back again. Yang Guo was furious and called out, “If you hit the horse again, I’ll kill you.” The man laughed and lashed out at Yang Guo’s head. Yang Guo stretched out his hand to take the whip and turned it around. He swung the whip and it made a tangling loop around the man’s neck and pulled him down, beating him on the head and face. Although the skinny horse was ugly, it was very lively, when it saw the man getting beaten; it neighed with delight and stretched out its head rubbing Yang Guo on the leg, displaying signs of affection. Yang Guo pulled apart the cart’s collar and harness then patted the horse on the back. He pointed in the direction of the other horse’s trail and said, “Go, no one’s going to harm you anymore.”

The horse reared and neighed, and galloped forward. But the horse’s body was weak; he wasn’t able to continue this sudden burst. It galloped for around a hundred feet then its front legs weakened and it fell onto the ground. Yang Guo couldn’t bear it, he ran over and picked up the horse by its stomach and shouted, “Up”, pulling the horse back onto its feet. The man saw Yang Guo’s unbelievable strength and was frightened, so frightened that he didn’t want his cart of firewood. He picked himself up and ran. About half a mile away, he shouted, “There’s someone strong stealing horses and firewood!”

Yang Guo thought this was funny. He pulled up some green grass for the horse. He saw that the horse had such an unfortunate life and couldn’t help but feel linked with it. He stroked the horse’s neck and said, “Horse, horse, follow me from now on.” He held its rope and walked slowly to a town. He bought some barley for the horse to eat. On the second day the horse seemed to regain its spirit and so he rode it slowly. At first the horse struggled along and limped, when wasn’t losing its footing it would stumble, but the further it walked the better it got. After seven or eight days of having enough to eat, it regained its strength; its steps as light as if it were flying. Yang Guo couldn’t speak his delight and took even more care of it. One day Yang Guo was in an outdoor restaurant awaiting an order when the horse walked over to a table and kept neighing at a bowl of wine on the table, as if he wanted to drink the wine. Yang Guo was curious and ordered a large bowl of wine and placed it on the table, and then stroked the horse’s head. The horse drank it all in one go; its tail raised its legs stepped, it was feeling very pleased. Yang Guo felt that this was interesting and called some more wine; the horse drank over ten bowls one after the other, and wasn’t finished. Yang Guo wanted to call for more wine but the waiter saw he was dressed in ragged garments and afraid that he had no money to pay so said that they didn’t have any more wine. Afterwards he got on the horse. The horse was under the influence of the wine and took large steps, galloping like crazy; the trees by the side of the road receded, it was extremely fast. When a normal spirited horse galloped, it would gallop steadily. Though this horse was fast, its body would be high and then low, jolting about very uncoordinated, if it weren’t for the fact that Yang Guo possessed excellent lightness kung fu, he would not have been able to ride it. The horse also had another strange characteristic, whenever there was another animal on the road, it would speed up and overtake it, no matter if it was a cow, horse, pony or donkey, it would gallop past them before slowing. This proud and competitive air seems to have come about because of the suffering it has had in its life.

Yang Guo thought that this thousand-mile colt has been trapped in the hands of the villager, wasting half its life; now that its spirit is free, it wants to gallop and fly over the lands. This behavior was similar to Yang Guo’s; the man and horse were like good friends. He was bored sometimes and would play with the horse, in a few days he was happy again. He has been heading south and had arrived at the banks of Han Shui. As he rode the horse he thought about how he teased Lu Wushuang and tricked the Li Mochou Master and disciple team, he couldn’t stop laughing. He then remembered he didn’t know where Xiao Longnu was or when they were going to meet again, he became sad and despondent.

That day he traveled until noon and on the road he kept on seeing beggars. From their appearances, most of them knew kung fu, he thought, “Could it be that the matter between Wifey and the beggars hasn’t finished yet? Or could it be that the Beggar Clan has summoned all these people to fight with Li Mochou? I must take a look.” He didn’t like the Beggar Clan much, but because he admired Hong Qigong, he couldn’t stop himself from feeling close to the Beggar Clan. He thought as long as the beggars don’t trouble Lu Wushuang he will give them the news that Hong Qigong had passed away. He carried on for a while and saw the road was filling up with more and more beggars. When the beggars saw Yang Guo they were surprised, there was no difference in the way they were dressed but if there wasn’t an urgent matter, members of the clan would not travel by horseback. Yang Guo ignored them and slowly carried on.

He continued until afternoon when suddenly he heard the cries of eagles in the air; two white eagles flew past, and descended ahead of him. He heard a beggar say, “Chief Huang is here, there’s probably going to be an assembly tonight.”

Another beggar said, “Will Hero Guo come?”

The first beggar replied, “The two are never apart.” he saw Yang Guo reign in his horse listening to their words; he gave him a glance and closed his mouth.

When Yang Guo heard the names Guo Jing and Huang Rong he was slightly alarmed, and then in his heart laughed coldly. “Earlier I lived in your home, ate your food and you made a fool out of me; then I was young and useless and I suffered a lot. Right now I’m relying on the world, who needs your support?” He had another thought, “Why don’t I pretend I have nowhere to go and have come to them for help and then see how they treat me.”

He then found a quiet place and messed up his hair. Then he punched himself in the left eye, he scratched his cheek a few times; there was now a blue green bruise on his left eye and there were some red marks on his face. His clothes were already torn and old but he tore them even more making them look even more ragged. He rolled in the mud and dust a few times and then got up on the horse that was covered in scars and skin ulcers. Indeed, he now looked like he was a person with nowhere to go and on his last legs. As soon as he finished he limped back to the main road, he didn’t ride on the horse and walked amongst the beggars. He didn’t lead the horse along, the horse just followed on its own. Someone from the Beggar Clan asked whether he was on his way to attend the great feast, Yang Guo stared and didn’t reply and slipped back into the crowd, walking back and forth. The group of people wound along the road and eventually came up to a large, old and ruined temple. He saw the two white eagles roosting on top of a pine tree in front of the temple.

One of the Wu brothers was holding a dish, while the other took a slab of meat from the dish and flung it towards the eagles. Yang Guo had seen the two before when they teamed up with Guo Fu to fight Li Mochou, but at that time he was too busy thinking about Guo Fu. He didn’t take the two to mind, but now he took a closer look at the two. He saw Wu Dunru looked intense, he was concentrating one hundred percent, on the other hand Wu Xiuwen was active and lively; he ran to east and darted to the west, not taking a moment’s respite. Wu Dunru was wearing a purple coloured Chong silk gown, Wu Xiuwen was wearing a large blue coloured Shandong silk gown, and around their waists were tied an embroidered satin ‘hero’ sash. They were indeed young heroes, standing out from the crowd. Yang Guo went up to them and made a bow, and stammered, “Greetings… greetings brothers Wu, I hope you’ve been…been well.”

At this time there were beggars everywhere around the temple, all their clothes were ragged, so although Yang Guo was covered in dirt, he did not look out of place in the crowd of beggars. Wu Dunru returned the favour and glanced up and down at Yang Guo, he couldn’t recognize him and said, “Forgive my inexperienced eyes, what is brother’s name?”

Yang Guo said, “There is no need to worry about such a lowly name, little brother… little brother wants to meet with Chief Huang.”

Wu Dunru thought his voice sounded slightly familiar, he was about to question him when a voice like a silver bell came from the entrance of the temple, “Big brother Wu, I asked you to buy me a soft horse whip, have you bought it?” Wu Dunru quickly moved Yang Guo aside and walked forward saying, “I bought it ages ago, give it a test, does it feel right?” He fished out a horse whip from his pocket as he said this.

Yang Guo turned his head and saw a girl in a light green dress hurrying from the temple’s doors; her brows were curved, her little nose slightly raised, her face like white jade, her smile like a flower, it was Guo Fu. The adornments in her hair weren’t extravagant, only a pearl was worn in her hair, the light make her look as if she was adorned with jade gem make up. Yang Guo only gave her a glance but he couldn’t stop himself from having a feeling of inferiority; he turned his head and didn’t look back. Wu Xiuwen also dashed forward and the two brothers spent all their effort talking to her. After speaking with Guo Fu for a while, Wu Dunru remembered Yang Guo and turned around saying, “You’ve come because of the ‘Heroes Feast’?”

Yang Guo did not know what the ‘Heroes Feast’ was and just answered agreeably. Wu Dunru summoned one of the beggars with his hand and said, “Take care of this friend, tomorrow take him to Da Xingguan.” After he said this he turned his attention back to Guo Fu and ignored him. The beggar agreed and after greeting each other, asked for his name. Yang Guo told him truthfully. He was a nobody. Of course the beggar won’t have heard of his name before and wouldn’t think anything of it. The beggar called himself Wang Shisan; he was a second band Beggar Clan member. He asked, “Where has brother Yang come from?”

Yang Guo said, “From Xiaxi.”

Wang Shisan said, “Ah, Brother Yang is from Quanzhen sect?”

As soon as he heard the words ‘Quanzhen sect’ Yang Guo’s head ached, he shook his head and said, “No.” Wang Shisan, “Brother Yang you’ve got the ‘Heroes’ invitation with you?”

Yang Guo was startled and said, “I’ve just wandered around Jianghu, how can I call myself a hero? I have met your clan’s chief Huang once before, I only want to see her and ask for some money to return to my home.”

Wang Shisan’s eyebrows wrinkled and he thought for a while and then said, “Chief Huang is receiving the heroes at the moment, I’m afraid that she won’t have time to see you.” Yang Guo had deliberately made himself such a sorry sight, the lower the regard the other person had for him, the prouder he’ll get, he made himself more pitiful and pleaded earnestly.

The members of the Beggar Clan are all people from poor environments, they have always helped those in need and distress; they would never look down on other poor people. Wang Shisan heard him speak with such grief and woe, and so said, “Little brother Yang, have a meal first, tomorrow we’ll go to Da Xingguan together. I’m your big brother, I’ll go and tell the elders, who in turn will inform our chief. We’ll wait and see what orders she gives, how about that?”

Wang Shisan had called him brother Yang, but now he heard that he wasn’t one of the guests for the ‘heroes’ feast. He was a fair few years older than him so he changed his greeting to little brother Yang. Yang Guo thanked him repeatedly. Wang Shisan invited him into the derelict temple and bought out some rice and dishes for the guest. One of the rules of the Beggar Clan is when a Beggar Clan member arrives to celebrate a ceremony, they’ll first need to get chicken, fish, beef and lamb and leave it until it starts to rot, and gets like a soup of spoiled meat. The meaning was that they shouldn’t forget their origins; but when treating guests, proper wine and dishes are bought out.

As Yang Guo was eating, a flash of light shone in his eyes, he saw Guo Fu enter the hall, her face with a smile, the Wu Brothers followed behind on her left and right. He heard Wu Xiuwen say, “Fine, we’ll leave tonight and travel through the night to rush to Da Xingguan. I’ll go and get your red horse.” The three of them were too busy talking to notice Yang Guo who was sitting on the floor eating. The three of them went to the back garden to get their bags and weapons and exited the temple. Many hoof beats could be heard as the horses galloped away. Yang Guo planted his chopsticks into his bowl, and heard the hoof beats of the horses become distant; a hundred emotions went through his mind, but was it worry or hate, anger or sorrow?

The next day, Wang Shisan looked after him as they went back to the road. On the road, apart from the crowds of Beggar Clan members, there were many eminent names of Wulin, some traveled by horseback, some traveled on foot, all heading for the ‘Heroes Feast’. Yang Guo didn’t know what the 'Heroes Feast’ was or what the 'Heroes’ invitation was about; he knew that Wang Shisan wouldn’t dare to reveal it to him so he pretended to be stupid and miserable. They arrived at Da Xingguan at around seven o’clock that night. Da Xingguan is an important strategic point in the Henan province, the topography of the area was divine yet there weren’t many towns and cities around. This was because the Mongolian soldiers were situated north of here. Wang Shisan led Yang Guo past a town and traveled for another seven or eight miles. In front of them were hundred of Japanese Scholar trees surrounding a large manor; all the heroes were heading for this manor. Building followed building inside the manor, all folding over each other and it was hard to see how many rooms there really were; but it appeared that the manor could easily hold thousands of guests and have room to spare.

Wang Shisan was just a lowly member of the Beggar Clan, he knew that their Chief was occupied right now; how could he go disturb her over such a trivial matter such as borrowing traveling money? He arranged quarters for Yang Guo and then went away with his friends.

Yang Guo saw that this was a very grand manor, there were many servants busy with serving the guests; he was curious and wondered who the master of the manor was and how come they had so much respect? He suddenly heard the three blasts from a trumpet and a musical ensemble started their music. Someone said, “The master and mistress of the manor are meeting the guests now, let’s go take a look and see who the hero is that just arrived?” He saw the guest and servant move to one side. The crowd of guests also stood to either side of the hall.

A man and a woman entered the hall shoulder to shoulder, they were both around forty years of age. The male wore an embroidered gown, he had a slight moustache, exuding an air of authority and prosperity; the woman had white skin, she was courteous and gracious like an affluent mistress. The guests quietly discussed amongst themselves, “Master Lu and Mistress Lu are greeting this important guest personally.”

Behind them was another couple, when Yang Guo saw them his heart trembled, he became flustered; it was Guo Jing and Huang Rong. He hadn’t seen them for many years, Guo Jing seems to be more serious, there was a slight smile of Huang Rong’s face; her beauty had not diminished slightly.

Yang Guo thought, “So Auntie Guo is this beautiful, I never noticed it when I was younger.”

Guo Jing wore a coarse long gown, Huang Rong was wearing a light purple silk gown, but because she was the Chief of the Beggar Clan, she could only tie the gown with pins in the places where it doesn’t catch the eye and that was it. Behind Guo Jing and Huang Rong followed Guo Fu and the Wu brothers. Right then, the hall was lit up with countless red candles, under the candle light the crowd could see that the males were noble and the girl was lovable and glamorous.

The crowd pointed, “That is hero Guo, and that is Madam Huang, Chief Huang.” “Who’s that girl who’s cute as a flower?”

“It is the Guo couple’s daughter.” “Are those young men their sons?” “No, they’re their disciples.”

Yang Guo didn’t want to meet the Guo couple in the crowd so he hid behind a tall man and watched; four Taoists appeared from the direction of the music. When Yang Guo saw them, he couldn’t refrain from feeling angry. The first one that entered was an old Taoist with a head of white hair, his face was purple, it was the Blithe Elder Hao Datong; behind him was a grey haired old Taoist priestess, Yang Guo has never seen her before. Behind them entered two middle-aged Taoists standing shoulder to shoulder, one was Yin Zhiping, and the other was Zhao Zhijing. Master and Mistress Lu greeted them; they greeted the old Taoist priestess Master; they received the Guo couple, Guo Fu and the Wu brothers and led them forward.

Yang Guo heard from the crowd, “That old Taoist priestess is Quanzhen’s sword heroine; her name is Sun Bu’Er.” “Ah, she’s the Sage of Tranquility, famous throughout the northern and southern sides of the Changjian River.” “Yes. She is Mistress Lu’s master. However, Master Lu’s kung fu was not taught by her.”

Master Lu’s first names are Guanying, his father Lu Chengfeng was a disciple of Huang Rong’s father Huang Yaoshi, and so, they could be regarded a generation lower than Guo Jing and Huang Rong. Lu Guanying’s wife Cheng Yaojia is Sun Bu’Er’s disciple. The couple originally resided in Lake Tai’s Returning Echo Manor. The manor was burned down by Ouyang Feng. Lu Chengfeng was furious and influenced by his anger, he told his son that he didn’t want to be on the minds of Lake Tai’s bandits again; so he took his family north and resided in Da Xingguan. Lu Chengfeng had now passed away. Years ago, Cheng Yaojia was in trouble, she was rescued by Guo Jing, Huang Rong and the Beggar Clan; she had always remembered this. When the Beggar Clan sent out the ‘Heroes’ invitation, the Lu couple took on the task themselves and arranged the ‘Heroes Feast’ here at their manor.

Guo Jing waited for the greetings to be over and led Hao Datong and Sun Bu’Er towards the hall to meet the gathering of heroes. Hao Datong stroked his beard as he said, “When Ma, Qiu, Liu and Wang received Chief Huang’s invitation, they wanted to come here in person but apprentice brother Ma has not been feeling well, apprentice brother Liu and the others are helping him to recuperate and can’t leave him, they can only apologize to Chief Huang.”

Huang Rong said, “Well said, well said. Those seniors are too polite.”

Though she was young, she was the leader of the world’s greatest clan, Hao Datong and the others treated her with great respect. Guo Jing and Yin Zhiping knew each other when they were young and had met when Qiu Chuji took Yin Zhiping and 18 or 20 others to meet Genghis Khan. When they saw each other both of them were delighted; the two of them entered together. Guo Jing asked about Ma Yu’s illness and missed him very much. The main hall was arranged for the feast, the noise of people and the reflection of the red candles created a great atmosphere.

Yin Zhiping looked to the east and then west, it was as if he was searching for someone in the crowd of people.

Zhao Zhijing chuckled and quietly said, “Apprentice brother Yin; will the one named Long make an appearance here?” Yin Zhiping’s face became red and didn’t reply.

Guo Jing did not know they were talking about Xiao Longnu and interrupted, “There’s a hero named Long? Are they your friend?”

Zhao Zhijing said, “It’s apprentice brother Yin’s friend, I dare not to make such a friend.” Guo Jing saw they looked strange; there was something else going on and he didn’t inquire any further.

Suddenly, Yin Zhiping spotted Yang Guo in the crowd; his whole body trembled like he was struck by lightning. He knew that if he’s here, Xiao Longnu would also be here. Zhao Zhijing followed his gaze and his face suddenly changed, he angrily shouted, “Yang Guo! It’s Yang Guo! That … That Xiao Longnu is here as well!” When Guo Jing heard the two words ‘Yang Guo’ he immediately turned around. The two haven’t seen each other for years; Yang Guo has now grown up, Guo Jing would have not been able to recognize him straight away. But when he heard Zhao Zhijing’s shout, he immediately recognized who he was. He was shocked and delighted, he dashed over and took his hand and said with joy, “Guo’er, you’re here as well? I was afraid that I was going to disturb your training so I did not request your presence. It’s great that your master has bought you here.”

Everyone in Quanzhen was ashamed about the incident of Yang Guo expelling himself from Chongyang Palace; no one had leaked a word about this to outsiders. Guo Jing did not know about it; at the time he was on Peach Blossom Island. The reason that Zhao Zhijing came to the ‘Heroes Feast’ was to tell Guo Jing about this event, he couldn’t predict that he would encounter Yang Guo here. He was afraid that he had heard Yang Guo’s account of the events and would take his side, but judging from his reaction he knew that the two had just met again. His face became clear and faced the sky saying, “How could this Taoist dream of being Master Yang’s Master?”

Guo Jing was shocked and asked, “Why does brother Zhao say this? The child does not listen to your teachings?”

Zhao Zhijing saw that the hall was filled with heroes, if he talked about this he would definitely get into an argument with Yang Guo. Quanzhen sect would lose face; he just chuckled coldly and didn’t say a word. Guo Jing was worried about Yang Guo, he saw his eye was bruised and nose blue, his garments were torn and ragged, his body covered in mud. It showed that he had suffered a lot and he held him to his chest. As soon as Yang Guo was held, he secretly circulated his chi to protect his body from harm. This hug was out of love, why would Guo Jing have any intentions to harm him? He called out to Huang Rong, “Rong’ Er, look who’s here.”

When Huang Rong saw Yang Guo she was shocked. She did not feel Guo Jing’s delight and calmly said, “Great, you’re here as well.”

Yang Guo lightly struggled free and said, “My body is filthy, there is no need to dirty your clothes.” His sentence was said coldly and he had a scornful tone in his voice. Guo Jing felt slightly sad and thought, “This child doesn’t have a father or mother; it looks like even his Master doesn’t care for him.” He held his hand, wanting him to sit at the same table as he. Yang Guo arranged to sit in the corner table. He didn’t want to sit with such people and said coldly, “I’ll sit over there. Uncle Guo, take care of your important guests.” Guo Jing felt that since there were many guests here, it wasn’t convenient to leave the guests alone so he lightly patted his shoulder and made a toast at the main guest’s table.

After three rounds of wine, Huang Rong stood up and said clearly, “Tomorrow is the day for the ‘Heroes Feast’. There are still many heroes and good men who have yet to arrive. Tonight I ask you to enjoy your appetite and don’t stop drinking until you are drunk; we’ll talk about the serious matters tomorrow.”

Meat piled up like mountains on the tables, wine flowed like rivers; the guests either played drinking games or told stories. That day, the amount of pigs and sheep that were prepared and the amount of wine that was poured in the Lu manor were beyond measure.

After the meal, the servants led the guests to their rooms to rest. Zhao Zhijing said a few quiet words to Hao Datong, Hao Datong nodded. Zhao Zhijing stood up and saluted with his hands towards Guo Jing and said, “Hero Guo, the Taoist has a heavy burden to reveal. It is extremely shameful, and today I have come to apologize because of this.”

Guo Jing quickly returned the greeting and said, “You are too modest apprentice brother Zhao. We’ll go and speak in the study. Whatever the child has done to offend apprentice brother Zhao, I will heavily punish him to ease apprentice brother Zhao’s anger.” He said these words clearly, though Yang Guo was a couple of tables away, Yang Guo heard it and decided, “If he shouts at me just once, I will get up and leave and never see him again. Though my kung fu cannot compare to his, if he beats me I will fight him with my life.” Once he made this decision he felt slightly more comfortable, he wasn’t as fearful as he was when he first saw Zhao Zhijing. He saw Guo Jing signaling to him with his hand and went over to him and followed behind him.

Guo Fu and the Wu brothers were drinking wine at another table, she didn’t know who Yang Guo was, but after being told the news by Guo Jing and Huang Rong, she remembered that it was the boy who they played with when they were younger on Peach Blossom Island. They had been separated for a long time; young people change their appearances the most, and after a few months great changes can be seen, let alone a few years. The fact that Yang Guo had made himself look in such a sorry state, and then hiding himself in the crowd, of course Guo Fu would not know who he was.

When she saw Yang Guo had returned, she couldn’t help herself from thinking: she remembered how they had a little argument when they were small on the island, would he still be angry at this event? She saw him in such a weary state, compared with the graceful and the distinguished look of the Wu brothers; they were poles apart. She couldn’t help but feel some pity for him and said to the Wu Dunru, “Father sent him to Quanzhen to learn martial arts; I wonder how his skills are compared to ours?”

Before Wu Dunru could reply, Wu Xiuwen interrupted, “Master’s skills are unequalled; how could he compete with us?”

Guo Fu nodded, “His foundation was bad before, it would be difficult for him to make any progress, how did he end up in such a state?”

Wu Xiuwen said, “Those old Taoists stared at him as if they wanted to swallow him whole. That kid has such a bad temper; he must have caused a major incident.”

The three of them talked quietly for a while, and then they heard Guo Jing inviting Hao Datong and the others to the study. He said he was going to punish Yang Guo heavily; she was curious and said, “Quick, we’ll go and hide ourselves in the study first and listen to what they are talking about.”

Wu Dunru was worried about being punished by their master if they found out and didn’t reply. Wu Xiuwen agreed and went ahead. Guo Fu’s right leg stopped; a slightly angry expression came across her face and she said to Wu Dunru, “Don’t listen to me then.”

Wu Du Run saw her face showed signs of anger but her brows, eyes and smile were still exuding their beauty, his heart jumped and he couldn’t disobey and followed her quickly. As soon as they hid behind the bookshelf, Guo Jing and Huang Rong led Hao Datong and the others to the study, and they sat down. Yang Guo followed and stood to one side.

Guo Jing said, “Guo’er, just sit!”

Yang Guo shook his head and said, “I won’t sit.” Even in the presence of six great fighters of the Wulin world he was still bold, but he couldn’t help but feel a little bit restless.

Guo Jing had always treated Yang Guo as his own son, he was also extremely respectful of the Quanzhen seven masters. He thought that it wasn’t necessary to ask about the rights and wrongs of what happened; it must be the junior’s fault, he put on a face and said to Yang Guo, “You are very bold, how dare you not greet your master. Quick, kowtow to your Martial Grandmasters, your Master and your Martial Uncle to apologize.”

The relationship between an emperor and his subjects, a father and son, a master and disciple were all very significant. When a subject is called upon by an emperor to die, they dare not stay alive; if the father wants the son to perish, the son must do so; the same can be said for the Wulin relationship between Master and disciple, a hint of disobedience is not allowed. Guo Jing reprimanded him this way because he pitied him for the suffering he has had alone, his tone was very gentle and soft. Had it been someone else, he would have shouted ‘bastard, animal’ long ago, and struck him with his fists on the head and face.

Zhao Zhijing stood up and chuckled, “How can I be Master Yang’s Master? Hero Guo, there is no need for you to ridicule me. Our Quanzhen sect has done nothing to offend hero Guo, why is it necessary to insult me in public? Master Yang, this little Taoist will kowtow to apologize to the Senior; it was my fault for being blind, I didn’t recognize such a hero and good man.”

The Guo couple saw that his expression had changed completely, the more he said the angrier he became, both of them were shocked. If a disciple did something wrong, the Master punishing them would be normal, why is it necessary for such a reaction? Huang Rong knew that whatever Yang Guo did, it was very serious. After this bout of anger by Zhao Zhijing, Guo Jing couldn’t speak so she slowly said, “I am extremely sorry for giving apprentice brother Zhao such trouble. Please don’t get angry apprentice brother Zhao, sit down and discuss what the child has done to offend his Master.”

Zhao Zhijing said loudly, “How can I, Zhao Zhijing dare to be someone’s Master with my lowly skills? Won’t that just make the heroes and good men of the world laugh their heads off? How does that make me look?”

Huang Rong’s eyebrows wrinkled, she was resentful. She and the Quanzhen sect weren’t the greatest of friends; years ago they used the “Big Dipper Formation” against her father. Qiu Chuji also tried to arrange for Mu Nianci to be Guo Jing’s bride; though these events happened long ago, the animosity had disappeared; but this outburst by Zhao Zhijing in front of her may have been a bit too impolite. Though both Hao Datong and Sun Bu’Er felt that it was hard to blame Zhao Zhijing for getting so angry, but the way he was acting was not how a Taoist should act.

Sun Bu’Er said, “Zhao Zhijing, explain everything to hero Guo and Chief Huang. Look at the way you’re acting and think how it looks! We are Taoists, what kind of Taoism have we been studying?” Though Sun Bu’Er was a woman, she was very stern, her juniors all feared her; when Zhao Zhijing heard her speak slowly he didn’t dare to make any more outbursts and said, “Yes, yes.” He returned to his seat.

Guo Jing said, “Guo’er, look how your Master treats his Seniors with such respect, why don’t you follow his example.”

Zhao Zhijing wanted to say, “I’m not his Master”, but he took a look at Sun Bu’Er and managed to restrain himself. But who knew that Yang Guo would say loudly, “He’s not my Master!” When he said this, Guo Jing and Huang Rong were both extremely shocked; Guo Fu and the Wu brothers who were hiding behind the bookshelf were also extremely surprised. The master disciple relationship was very significant in the world of Wulin, there’s a saying, “A Master for one day, a Father for life.”

Guo Jing was brought up the Jiangnan Seven Freaks and was taught martial arts by Hong Qigong; he was very grateful to his Masters. Ever since he was young he believed that the ways of his Masters were right and proper. How would he know that Yang Guo would dismiss his Master in public, and say such treasonous and heretical things? He got up and pointed at Yang Guo; his voice trembled as he said, “What…what… what did you say?” He wouldn’t scold anyone but his face went green, he was very angry. Huang Rong had very rarely seen him get so angry; she whispered to him, “Brother Jing, that child has always been bad; there is no need to get angry over him.”

Yang Guo was actually afraid but when he saw his loving Uncle Guo change his face to such an angry expression, he made a decision and thought, “Nothing is greater than death, and the worst that will happen is that you people will kill me.” So he said clearly, “My character has always been bad, but I have never begged you to teach me martial arts. You two are eminent people of the Wulin world, why was it necessary for you to use such a crafty plan to harm a child who doesn’t have a mother or father?” When he said ‘who doesn’t have a mother or father’, he pitied himself, his eyes became slightly red but he bit down on his lips and thought, “Even I die today, I won’t shed a single tear.”

Guo Jing angrily said, “Your Auntie Guo and Master taught you martial arts sincerely because of the friendship between me and your deceased father, who… who used a crafty plan? Who…who wants to harm you?” He wasn’t the most articulate; he stuttered even more now that he is angry. Yang Guo saw how impatient he was and spoke even slower, “Uncle Guo has treated me very well, I will never forget this.” Huang Rong slowly said, “Auntie Guo has wronged you; if you want to remember this for the rest of your life that's up to you.”

At this stage, he might as well boldly go on, he said, “Auntie Guo has not treated me badly, nor has she wronged me. You said you were going to teach me martial arts, in reality, you taught me to study. You didn’t teach me an ounce of kung fu. Studying is a good thing; this nephew has learned a few more words and heard you speak about the stories of the past. But those old Taoists” He pointed to Hao Datong and Zhao Zhijing and said furiously, “There will be a day when I will take my revenge.”

Guo Jing was shocked and quickly asked, “Whaa…What? What revenge… what happened?”

Yang Guo said, “The one named Zhao calls himself my Master, he didn’t teach me any martial arts, fine, but he ordered many young Taoists to beat me up. Auntie Guo didn’t teach me martial arts and the Quanzhen sect didn’t teach me martial arts, I could only take the beatings. The one named Hao saw that there was a Grandma that loved me, and he killed her. The rotten Taoist named Hao, speak, isn’t this the truth?” When he remembered how Grandma Sun died for him, he ground his teeth and wanted to leap over to Hao Datong and kill him.

Hao Datong was an eminent Taoist of Quanzhen, he had learned martial arts, and he had reached a deep level in both areas. He accidentally killed Grandma Sun and in all these years he hadn’t had a moment’s peace. This was the most hateful thing he had done in his life. The Seven Masters of Quanzhen had killed countless people in their lives, but all the people they had killed were scoundrels, traitors and crooks; they had never harmed an innocent. Now, he heard Yang Guo blaming him in front of everyone, he couldn’t stop his face from turning grey. The events of that day when he made Grandma Sun throw up blood with his palm flashed in front of his eyes. He didn’t have a weapon so he stretched out his left hand and took a long sword from Zhao Zhijing’s waist.

Everyone thought that he wanted to stab Yang Guo with the sword, Guo Jing took a step forward to protect Yang Guo but who could have known that he would turn the long sword around with the handle facing Yang Guo and say, “Correct. I killed the wrong person. Take revenge for Grandma Sun, I won’t retaliate.”

When everyone saw him do this, they were surprised. Guo Jing was afraid that Yang Guo would take the sword and harm him so he called out, “Guo’er, don’t be impolite.”

Yang Guo knew that he wouldn’t be able to avenge Grandma Sun in front of Guo Jing and Huang Rong; he said coldly, “You know that Uncle Guo won’t let me attack, so why are you pretending to be so gracious? If you really want me to kill you, then why don’t you hand me over the sword in a place where there isn’t anyone about?”

Hao Datong was a Senior of Wulin, he was made speechless by the words of this young man. He couldn’t hand over the long sword or take it back; he circulated his chi through his hands and forced the sword to snap in half. He flung the sword on the floor and gave a long sigh, he said, “It’s finished, it’s finished!” He exited the study. Guo Jing wanted to persuade him to remain behind but his head did not turn back.

Guo Jing looked at Yang Guo and then at Sun Bu’Er and the others, he thought that from what had happened, the child has not lied. He thought for a while and said, “Why didn’t Quanzhen teach you any martial arts? What have you been doing for the past few years?” As he said this, his words had slowed down a lot more.

Yang Guo said, “When Uncle Guo went up Mount Zhongnan, he defeated hundreds of Taoist without reply, even if Ma, Qiu, Liu, Wang and the others didn’t mind, would the others just forget about it? They couldn’t do anything to Uncle Guo but could it be that they wouldn’t vent their anger on a child like me? They wished they could kill me; why would they teach me martial arts? These few years I have experienced days where there was no light, the fact that today I have the chance to see Uncle Guo again is all down to heaven opening its eyes.” Those words did not mention the fact that he expelled himself from Quanzhen and pushed all the blame on Guo Jing. He said he had endured ‘days where there was no light’, this wasn’t a lie exactly, when he was living in the tomb, he didn’t see much light or day. When Guo Jing heard these words, he couldn’t stop his pity and compassion from rising.

Zhao Zhijing saw that Guo Jing more or less believed him and became anxious, he said, “You… you bastard talking such crap, the name of Quanzhen has been tarnished by... by”

Guo Jing believed that what Yang Guo said was the truth. Huang Rong’s face was not moved, she saw Yang Guo’s eyes sparkled and he had a clever expression on his face; she thought, “This child is extremely crafty, there must be a lie somewhere.” She said, “From what you said, you don’t know any martial arts? All these years in Quanzhen were wasted?” As she asked these questions she slowly got up, she suddenly stretched out her left hand and sent put a palm towards the crown of his head. The fingers of the palm was aiming for the head’s ‘Hundred Meetings’ pressure point, the base of the palm was heading for the ‘Rising Star’ pressure point that was an inch from the hairline, these two main pressure points were fatal. If there was a heavy blow to these places the person would die, there would be no saving them.

Guo Jing was shocked and he called out; “Rong’er!” But Huang Rong was extremely fast, this palm was her family’s “Descending Brave Divine Sword Palm”, there was no warning, as soon as the hand moved the palm arrived; if Guo Jing wanted to save him, it was too late.

Yang Guo moved back slightly and wanted to avoid it, but with Huang Rong’s kung fu, now that she had attacked, just how would he dodge it; he saw the palm going towards his head. Yang Guo was shocked, he quickly stretched out his arm to react but his mind had a quick thought, his right arm moved slightly and then hung down. Someone such as Guo Jing who was greatly skilled but slow in thought would not understand what was happening; they would quickly repel this attack. But Yang Guo was extremely quick, he immediately understood, “Auntie Guo is trying to test my kung fu, if I avoid this palm, then it will show that I’ve been lying.” He saw Huang Rong’s attack was fatal, if she wasn’t testing out his kung fu and he himself didn’t react, wouldn’t that mean he will have lost his life in vain? In a flash he fired up his stubborn nature and thought, “Fine, if I die then I die!” Though his kung fu may not be as good as Huang Rong’s, if he wanted to stretch out his hand and repel her palm, it wouldn’t be hard, but now he risked his life and didn’t move his arms.

Indeed Huang Rong was testing his kung fu with this stance, as soon as the palm reached his head she didn’t increase her strength, she saw a frightened and shocked expression on his face. He didn’t stretch out his hand to repel this attack and he didn’t secretly circulate his chi to protect his vital pressure points, showing he didn’t know an ounce of martial arts. She smiled and said, “I didn’t teach you kung fu because I wanted what was best for you. It looks like the Taoists of Quanzhen had the same thought as me.” She returned to her seat and quietly said to Guo Jing, “He really hasn’t learned any of the Quanzhen’s martial arts.” As soon as she said this, her mind secretly called out, “Ai yo, something’s wrong! I almost fell for his lie.” She remembered how when he was little he used the “Toad Stance” to attack Wu Dunru; he had some kung fu foundation. Even if he hasn’t made an inch of progress but knew she was about to strike with her palm, he would definitely block the attack. She thought, “Young man, young man, you’re too clever, if you scrambled and waved your hands in a frantic state to block my attack, I might have believed your lie. But there is one point that doesn’t make sense in your charade, you’ve left a flaw.” She didn’t reveal this and thought that she would watch him and see what other schemes he’ll come up with. She looked at Zhao Zhijing and then at Yang Guo, and she just smiled slightly.

Zhao Zhijing saw Huang Rong test out a stance on Yang Guo who didn’t fight back, he knew that Yang Guo had managed to conceal his kung fu from her, displaying even more signs that he was in the wrong. His anger erupted and said loudly, “That bastard is very crafty; if Chief Huang couldn’t find anything then let me try.” He went over to Yang Guo and pointed to his nose and said, “Little bastard, you really don’t know any martial arts? If you don’t defend, I will not hold back, if you want to live or die, it’s up to you.” He knew that Yang Guo’s kung fu was above his, but under his fatal attacks, there would be no other option for him but to reveal the truth. If he still kept up this charade, he might as well take his life. The worst that would happen is he will lose the Guo’s couple’s friendship and be heavily punished by his sect’s leader. Fury filled his chest, hate filled his guts, he thought, “You knew that Chief Huang wouldn’t harm your life that’s why you were so bold; you acted very well. Let’s see if you still have the guts to keep up the charade?” His sleeve waved, he was about to attack.

Guo Jing called out, “Please wait!” He was afraid that he would harm Yang Guo’s life and wanted to intervene.

Huang Rong tugged his sleeve and quietly said, “Don’t do anything.” She knew that Zhao Zhijing was extremely angry, his attacks would not be light, and Yang Guo had no way to avoid his attacks by mere luck. When he defends, the truth will come out. How would Guo Jing know that there are so many other things going on here; he was worried but knew that his wife’s plans had never failed before. He didn’t say anything else and just took one step forward, if there was a real danger he would still be able to make a rescue.

Zhao Zhijing said to Sun Bu’Er and Yin Zhiping, “Martial Uncle Sun, apprentice brother Yin, that bastard is pretending that he doesn’t know martial arts, I am forced with no other option but to test him myself. If he keeps it up to the end and I kill him, please be a witness for me in front of our leader, Martial Uncle Qiu and my Master.”

Sun Bu’Er knew what had happened with the incident of Yang Guo expelling himself from the Quanzhen sect. She saw him using his wits and craft to make sure Zhao Zhijing could not back down and make sure it was Quanzhen sect who was in the wrong. She hoped Zhao Zhijing would force him to use his martial arts and chuckled, “That disobedient disciple and traitor to our Quanzhen sect. Killing him wouldn’t be anything serious.” She is an eminent Taoist, how could she tell someone to kill? Those words were actually meant to scare Yang Guo, wanting him to stop pretending.

Zhao Zhijing had his Martial Uncle’s support and was even more daring; he raised his right foot and aimed for Yang Guo’s abdomen. The stance Flying Past Heaven’s Mountains” had softness within its hardness; in the yang there was yin, it was a really lethal stance. Though this kick was very powerful, it wasn’t very profound; it was a stance that is taught when one first enters the Quanzhen sect. It was a very ordinary stance when it is used, and as long as someone knows a little kung fu, they would be able to neutralize it. On the first day of practicing martial arts, the disciples of Quanzhen would first learn the stance of “Flying Past Heaven’s Mountains” and then “Force of the Retreating Horse”; this was the stance to avoid the stance of “Flying Past Heaven’s Mountains”. One attack one defense, this was the most basic set of kung fu. By using this stance, he wanted Guo Jing and Huang Rong to understand one thing, “Even if I did not teach him advanced martial arts, could it be that I didn’t even teach him the basic kung fu of our sect’s very first lesson?”

When Yang Guo saw the kick come, he did not use the “Force of the Retreating Horse”; his left hand hung down protecting his abdomen. Zhao Zhijing saw that he was so bold that he didn’t even move or dodge, he didn’t hold back on his kick and kicked straight across, when the tip of his foot was about three inches away from Yang Guo’s abdomen, he saw in the moonlight Yang Guo’s left thumb slightly sticking out, aiming for his right foot’s ankle ‘Large Opening’ pressure point. If he kicked out with power, before the tip of the foot had reached the abdomen, his pressure point will be sealed first; the opponent wouldn’t actually seal the pressure point themselves. As the foot strikes his finger, it will be struck on the pressure point, sealing it in the process.

He was the best fighter of Quanzhen’s third generation; in the midst of danger he quickly changed his stance, he turned and changed the direction of the kick, his right leg passing Yang Guo’s side. At least he was able to avoid the trap but his body was off balance, and his face turned red.

Guo Jing and Huang Rong were behind Yang Guo and didn’t see his thumb, they thought it was because Zhao Zhijing was holding back, at the very last second he changed his stance. But Sun Bu’Er and Yin Zhiping could see this clearly. Yin Zhiping didn’t say a word.

Sun Bu’Er stood up and shouted, “Little punk, very crafty!” Zhao Zhijing’s left palm hung in the air, his right palm aimed to chop across Yang Guo’s left cheek; this stance of “Purple Lightning Striking through Words” was a refined stance of advanced martial arts. As the palm arrives halfway, the direction suddenly changes, originally aimed to the left cheek it now was aiming to chop down on his neck on the right side. How could he know that Yang Guo has learned the “Jade Heart Manual” to a very fluent state, the manual was the Black Star of Quanzhen’s kung fu. Every lethal fist techniques and palm stances that Wang Chongyang invented were all defeated ingeniously by Lin Chaoying years ago. When Yang Guo saw his left palm hanging in the air, he quickly covered his head with his arms as if he was scared, his left index finger hid itself by his neck on the right side but because he covered it with his right palm, Zhao Zhijing had no way to see it. As soon as the palm arrives, Yang Guo’s right hand slanted slightly, a ‘bo’ sound was heard as the finger sealed the ‘Back Stream’ pressure point on Zhao Zhijing’s palm.

Once again, it was Zhao Zhijing himself who forced his own pressure point to be sealed by hitting it on his finger; Yang Guo knew what the opponent would do and prepared his finger in place. Once Zhao Zhijing’s pressure point on his palm was sealed, his arm immediately went numb; he knew he had fallen into his trap. He was furious and his left leg came sweeping out.

Yang Guo called out, “Oh no!” He bent his left arm and placed his elbow two and a half inches above his waist. When Zhao Zhijing’s left leg came, the elbow struck his ankle’s ‘Reflecting Sea’ and ‘Great River’ pressure points. This kick came out of fury; it was kicked with great strength. The pressure points were severely struck, his left leg went numb and he kneeled down on the floor.

Sun Bu’Er saw that her martial nephew was being embarrassed, she stretched out her left arm and pulled him up with her hand and then pushed his back a few times, unsealing his pressure points. Yang Guo quickly backed away. He saw that she unsealed Zhao Zhijing’s pressure points with ease. He knew that her martial arts were far superior Zhao Zhijing’s. Yang Guo was afraid of her and kept a distance between himself and Sun Bu’Er. Though she had been practicing Taoism for many years, she was still very stubborn and strong. She saw that his kung fu was extremely crafty, it looked like that it was their sect’s Black Star; if she fought herself she might not be able to win, so she called out, “Let’s go!” She then said goodbye to Guo Jing and Huang Rong. Her sleeve swept out and she leapt out of the study through the window, and then jumped up onto the roof.

Yin Zhiping had seemed to be out of it all this time; he wanted to tell Guo Jing and Huang Rong what happened when Zhao Zhijing angrily shouted, “What more is there to talk about?” He pulled on his sleeve and the two of them leapt out of the window and then followed Sun Bu’Er.

With Guo Jing’s and Huang Rong’s awareness, of course they knew that Zhao Zhijing’s pressure points had been sealed, but Yang Guo had not stretched out his finger, could it be that a eminent person was secretly helping him?

Guo Jing immediately went over to the window to take a look, where was the person? Guo Jing thought that as Zhao Zhijing was about to kill him, he couldn’t bear to and so pretended to have his pressure points sealed and left in the confusion. However, Huang Rong could see this was the doing of Yang Guo, firstly because she was behind him and couldn’t see his elbow and secondly, she was not aware of the existence of a martial art skill such as the “Jade Heart Manual”. This enabled the prediction of the enemy’s reaction and countered the skills of Quanzhen without reply; she wasn’t able to understand exactly what had happened. She wouldn’t act like Guo Jing and view others with the heart of a gentleman. When she saw the four Quanzhen Taoists sweeping their sleeves and leaving, it was very impolite, secretly, she was furious. She pondered and turned around to see Guo Fu’s dark green shoes sticking out from under the bookshelf, she immediately called out, “Fu’er, what are you doing here?”

Guo Fu laughed and came out with a silly look on her face and said, “Me and the Wu brothers are looking for a book to read.”

Huang Rong knows that the three of them have never been interested in books, why would they have suddenly taken an interest today? One look at her daughter’s face and she knew that they must sneaked in earlier to hide so they can eavesdrop on what was happening. As she was about to tell them off, a Beggar Clan member came with news of a guest arriving, she took a look at Yang Guo and then she and Guo Jing went out to meet the guest.

Guo Jing said to the Wu brothers, “Brother Yang is a childhood friend of yours, take good care of him.”

The Wu brothers had never been friendly with Yang Guo; right now they looked at the state that he was in. They knew that he hadn’t learned any martial arts at the Quanzhen sect and was called ‘bastard, animal’ by his Master. They looked down on him even more; they summoned a servant and told him to take care of Yang Guo.

However, Guo Fu was very curious about Yang Guo, she asked, “Brother Yang, why doesn’t your Master want you?”

Yang Guo said, “There are many reasons. I’m dumb and lazy, I have a bad temper and I don’t know how to treat the relatives of my Master well. ‘Buying horse whips and donkey whips and what nots’.”

When the Wu brothers heard this their faces changed, Wu Xiuwen was the first who couldn’t control himself anymore and shouted, “What did you say?”

Yang Guo said, “I said I’m useless, I don’t know how to please my Master.”

Guo Fu smiled captivatingly, and said, “Your Master is a Taoist, how would he have a daughter?” Yang Guo saw her smile, it was as if a flower suddenly blossomed, bright, beautiful and glamorous, unconsciously his heart jumped, his face went red and he turned his head away. Guo Fu had managed to control the Wu brothers and could mess them around long ago, now she saw Yang Guo turn his head away and knew that he was moved by her beauty, she was very proud of herself.

Yang Guo looked to the west and saw a couplet on the wall, the first line said: ‘The image of peach blossoms descending with the divine flying sword’, the second line was ‘The jade sea brings new waves according the jade flute’. Yang Guo has seen this couplet in the practicing sword pavilion on Peach Blossom Island. He knew that it was Huang Yaoshi who wrote it but underneath this couplet was signed ‘The five useless people who were ill fated’. Compared to the three people in front of him, he was only a few years older but as he read and studied the writing it was as if he was ten years older. When he saw the words ‘the five useless people’, he remembered about himself, how all those close to him had either died or have gone away; he wandered the world alone, there was no difference between himself and a useless person. The pride he felt just now forcing Zhao Zhijing to scamper away disappeared; a sad, lamenting feeling filled his heart, he couldn’t stop himself from dropping his head and pitying himself.

Guo Fu softly said, “Brother Yang, go and rest, I’ll come and speak with you tomorrow.”

Yang Guo calmly replied, “Fine!” He followed the servant out of the study and heard Guo Fu flare up at the Wu brothers, “I want to speak with him; can you two stop me? His kung fu is not good, I’ll ask father to teach him.”

End of Chapter 11. 
@Chapter 12 – The Heroes’ Feast
The next morning, while Yang Guo was eating breakfast in the hall, Guo Fu signaled him to the courtyard. The Wu brothers were at the side looking a bit troubled. Yang Guo was amused and went over to Guo Fu and asked, “You’re looking for me?”

Guo Fu laughed and said, “Yes, come with me outside, I want to ask what you’ve done in the last few years.” Yang Guo exhaled deeply, thinking that it wasn’t easy to explain, even if he spoke for three days and nights he would not have finished, and how could he reveal these things to her?

The two of them walked shoulder to shoulder to the main door, Yang Guo slightly turned his head and saw the two Wu brothers following. Guo Fu had noticed a long time ago and pretended that she didn’t see them and talked to Yang Guo. Yang Guo picked some insignificant events to talk about, he pushed and pulled making Guo Fu laugh. She knew that Yang Guo was keeping things from her but she still felt amused by his words. The two slowly walked to a Willow tree. Suddenly they heard a neigh; a skinny and scabby horse came hurrying over to Yang Guo, rubbing against him in an affectionate manner.

When the Wu brothers saw such an ugly horse, they couldn’t hold themselves back and burst out laughing. They went over to the two. Wu Xiuwen laughed and said, “That precious horse is very special, only someone with your ability could one find a horse like that. When are you going to find me one like that?”

Wu Dunru said seriously, “That is a Da Shi Guo’s (Great Master Guo’s) priceless treasure, how could you buy it?”

Guo Fu looked at Yang Guo and then at the ugly horse, when she saw the two had the same dirty and pitiful appearance, she couldn’t resist laughing. Yang Guo laughed and said, “I’m ugly, my horse is ugly, we’re a match. The horses that the Wu brothers ride must be very spirited horses.” Wu Xiuwen said, “The horses that we ride are only a bit better than yours. Sister Fu’s red horse, now that is a precious horse. You’ve seen it before when you were on Peach Blossom Island.”

Yang Guo said, “So Uncle Guo gave the red horse to a girl.”

The four of them chatted as they walked. Guo Fu suddenly pointed to the west and said, “Look, mother’s teaching stick techniques again.” Yang Guo turned his head and saw Huang Rong with an old beggar walking towards the mountainside, the two of them holding a stick in their hands.

Wu Xiuwen said, “Elder Lu is so dumb, he’s been practicing the “Dog Beating Stick Technique” for so long but he still hasn’t managed to learn it.”

When Yang Guo heard the words “Dog Beating Stick Technique” his heart trembled but he didn’t show any signs of it, he turned around and looked away, pretending to appreciate the scenery. He heard Guo Fu say, “The “Dog Beating Stick Technique” is the treasure of the Beggar Clan; my mother said that the mastery and ingenuity of the stances are unbeatable. It has the most powerful stances in the world of weapons; you can’t just learn it in ten days or a fortnight. You said he’s dumb, are you very clever?”

Wu Dunru sighed and said, “It’s a pity that apart from the Chief of the Beggar Clan, no one is allowed to learn it.”

Guo Fu said, “If you become the Chief of the Beggar Clan in the future, Chief Lu will impart it to you. Even my father does not know this skill, there’s no need to cry.”

Wu Dunru said, “How can I be the Chief of the Beggar Clan? Sister Fu, why did Master’s wife select Elder Lu to replace her?”

Guo Fu said, “Over the last few years, my mother just held the title. The running of the clan is all done by Elder Lu Youjiao. All the many bothersome things that go on in the clan give my mother a headache. She said why is it necessary to have the name and not do anything; so why not pass the position on to Elder Lu and make it official. Once Elder Lu learns the “Dog Beating Stick Technique”, my mother will pass on the position to him officially.”

Wu Xiuwen said, “Sister Fu, how exactly do you use the “Dog Beating Stick Technique”? Have you seen it before?”

Guo Fu said, “I haven’t seen it. Ah, I have seen it!” She picked up a branch off the ground and lightly attacked his shoulder and laughed, “It’s like this.”

Wu Xiuwen called out, “Fine, just see if I’ll let you go now you’ve called me a dog.” He stretched out his hand to grab her. Guo Fu laughed and jumped away. Wu Xiuwen chased after her. The two ran around a few times and returned to their original places.

Guo Fu laughed and said, “Little Brother Wu, don’t get angry. I’ve got an idea.” Wu Xiuwen said, “Fine, tell me.”

Guo Fu said, “We’ll watch in secret, we can see exactly how special the “Dog Beating Technique” is.” Wu Xiuwen clapped his hand in agreement.

But Wu Dunru shook his head and said, “If Master’s wife finds out we are secretly trying to learn the skill she will lecture us severely.”

Guo Fu said, “We are just going to watch, we’re not trying to learn it in secret. Anyway, an ingenious and masterly kung fu such as this, how could you learn it after just a few glances? Big brother Wu, so do you count as someone who’s amazing?” After this put down, he just smiled slightly. Guo Fu continued, “Last night when we were in the study eavesdropping, did my mother shout at anyone? You’re just a little chicken. Little Brother Wu, let’s go.”

Wu Dunru said, “Fine, fine, your reasoning does make some sense; I’ll go with you.”

Guo Fu said, “Is it possible that you don’t want to watch one of the world’s best skills? It doesn’t matter if you don’t go, once I’ve learned it I’ll come back and beat you with it.” As she said this she raised her stick and waved it at him.

The three of them had heard about the “Dog Beating Stick Technique” a long time ago and were fascinated by it but they had never seen what it looked like. Guo Jing once discussed martial arts with them; he told them how years ago on Mount Jun Huang Rong used the technique at the Beggar Clan’s gathering to beat everyone there and claimed the position of the Chief of the Beggar Clan. The three of them listened enchanted. Right now Guo Fu was encouraging them to take a look, though Wu Dunru spoke out against it, in his heart there wasn’t anything he wanted to do more. He pretended to be coerced into it and all he’s doing is listening to Guo Fu’s suggestion; if they are found out then his Master’s wife can’t blame him.

Guo Fu said, “Brother Yang, you come as well.” Yang Guo was gazing at the faraway mountains as if he was absorbed in thought and didn’t hear what they said. Guo Fu called out again and Yang Guo turned his head around, his face looked lost, he asked, “Fine, fine, follow you where?”

Guo Fu said, “Don’t ask; just follow me.”

Wu Dunru said, “Sister Fu, why do you want him to come, he won’t understand; his dumb brain is going to make some noise, how can Master’s wife not notice?” Guo Fu said, “Relax, I’ll take care of him. You two go first; brother Yang and I will follow. The four of us will make too much noise with our footsteps.” The Wu brothers didn’t want to but they knew they couldn’t defy Guo Fu’s orders. The two of them walked ahead discontentedly.

Guo Fu called out, “We’ll hide in a large tree nearby first; my mother will not notice if we are careful and don’t make any noise.” The Wu brothers nodded in reply and quickened their steps.

Guo Fu glanced at Yang Guo and saw his clothes were extremely ragged and torn, she said, “When we get back I’ll get mother to buy you some new clothes; once you’ve changed, you won’t be as ugly.”

Yang Guo shook his head and said, “I was born ugly; even if I change clothes and tidy myself up I’ll still be ugly.” Guo Fu said fine and didn’t take it to mind; she glanced at the backs of the Wu brothers and gave out a light sigh.

Yang Guo said, “Why are you sighing?”

Guo Fu said, “My mind is really troubled, you wouldn’t understand.”

Yang Guo saw a delicate redness on her face, her eyebrows slightly wrinkled, she really was an extremely beautiful girl. Compared to Lu Wushuang, Wanyan Ping and Yelu Yan, she was more beautiful than they. His heart was moved slightly and said, “I know why you are so troubled.”

Guo Fu said, “That’s strange, how would you know? You really are talking rubbish.” Yang Guo said, “Fine, if I guess correctly, you can’t deny it.”

Guo Fu placed her little white and tender finger against her right cheek, her pupils glimmered, a smile was on her lips and said, “Fine, take a guess.”

Yang Guo said, “It’s not simple. The Wu brothers both like you, they both try to please you, and it’s hard for you to give up one of them.”

After hearing this, Guo Fu’s heart raced. He knows about this, the Wu brothers know about this, her parents know about this and even Ke Zhen’E knows about this. But it was hard for anyone to mention it; everyone knew in their hearts but no one mentioned a word about it. Now, Yang Guo suddenly mentioned this matter, she couldn’t stop her face from going red; she was happy but sad, she wanted to laugh but also wanted to cry, droplets of tears rolled from her eyes.

Yang Guo said, “You’re thinking ‘Big Brother Wu is courteous and reliable, Little Brother Wu can keep me entertained. The two of them are both handsome, their martial arts are excellent and they treat me with respect and listen to me. The elder has his good points, the younger has his strong points; I’m just one person, how can I marry two men?”

Guo Fu listened to him startled, after she heard his last sentence, she said, “Your mouth is full of rubbish, who wants to pay attention to what you say?”

From her reaction, Yang Guo knew he had guessed correctly, he quietly repeated, “I’m just one person, how can I marry two men?” After repeating it a few times, Guo Fu still seemed to have something on her mind; it was as if she didn’t hear him.

After a while she said, “Brother Yang, tell me, who do you think the better of the brothers?” She asked this quite suddenly. Though she and Yang Guo were childhood friends, there was still some animosity between the two even though they not seen each other for a long time. Now that they’re grown up, how can she reveal such things to him? Yang Guo is a lively person, as long as you don’t get on the wrong side of him, he will joke with you, laugh with you, in a flash he will make you feel as if you were in a spring breeze, as if you were drinking a beautiful wine. Anyway, Guo Fu had gone over this hundreds and thousands of times in her mind. She felt that both of them had their good points; when it came to playing around and joking, she got on with Wu Xiuwen very well, but when it came to doing something serious Wu Dunru was much better. She was a girl going through puberty; she would alternate from being angry with them, or be pleased with them. She made the brothers fall in love with her; in her heart she was really troubled, she didn’t know who to treat better. As she and Yang Guo raised this point she couldn’t help herself but ask this question.

Yang Guo laughed and said, “I don’t think either of them is good.” Guo Fu was startled and asked, “Why?”

Yang Guo laughed and said, “If those two are good then what chance have I, Yang Guo, got?” He had been used to joking around with Lu Wushuang on the road and he didn’t mean what he just said, he was just teasing her when he said it.

Guo Fu was stunned, she was a girl who was used to being pampered and treated well, no one has ever said half an offensive word to her. Right now she didn’t know whether or not to be angry; she put on serious face and said, “If you don’t want to say, fine, who wants to joke with you? Let’s go.” As she said this she utilized her lightness kung fu and hurried along the small path to the mountainside.

Yang Guo felt there was no point to this and thought, “Why am I mixing with these three? I’d rather be far away and be on my own!” He turned around and slowly walked away, thinking, “The Wu brothers think that girl is a goddess, they’re afraid that she won’t marry them. If they really marry her, and spend everyday with such a pretty yet bullying girl, they will definitely experience more pain than joy, huh; crazy people like them are very funny.” Guo Fu hurried for a while and assumed that Yang Guo would go after her and apologize; but after stopping for a while there was no trace of Yang Guo. She had a thought and said, “That person does not know martial arts, of course he won’t be able to catch up. She turned around and returned to see that he had actually gone in the opposite direction. She thought this was strange and went over to Yang Guo. She asked, “Why aren’t you coming?”

Yang Guo said, “Miss Guo, please tell your parents that I’ve gone.” Guo Fu was shocked and said, “You’re fine, so why are you leaving?”

Yang Guo gave a dull laugh and said, “There’s no reason, originally I came here for no real reason, and now that I’ve been here I feel I should go.”

Guo Fu has always like crowded atmospheres; although she didn’t think very highly of Yang Guo, listening to him joking felt fresher and newer than listening to the Wu brothers. She really didn’t want him to leave, she said, “Brother Yang, we haven’t seen each other a long time, I have many things to say to you. Anyway, tonight is the ‘Heroes Feast, all the heroes from all over the world will be gathering here, why don’t you want to experience this?”

Yang Guo said, “I’m not a hero, if I’m actually there, won’t I just become an object of ridicule in front of all the heroes?”

Guo Fu said, “That makes sense.” She pondered for a while and said, “There are many people in the Lu Manor who don’t know martial arts, just eat and drink with the servants.”

When Yang heard this he was very angry, he thought, “Little Bitch, you class me with nobodies.” His face didn’t show any signs of anger; he laughed and said, “That’s a pretty good idea.” He had wanted to leave but now had a change of heart, he decided he was going to do something that would embarrass and disgrace her. Guo Fu was used to being pampered and cared for. She wasn’t wise and didn’t understand worldly matters; she didn’t have any ill intent in her words and didn’t know that she had deeply offended someone.

She saw that Yang Guo had changed his mind, she laughed and said, “Let’s go, if we’re late and mother gets there first, we won’t be able to peek.” She hurried ahead with Yang Guo following behind, he appeared out of breath and his footsteps seemed heavy showing that he was extremely clumsy and inept. They easily arrived in time at the place where Huang Rong normally taught Lu Youjiao the stick techniques. They saw the Wu brothers in a tree looking out. Guo Fu leapt up on the branch and then reached out her hand to Yang Guo pulling him up. When Yang Guo held her soft and warm hand, he couldn’t stop his heart from stirring but immediately thought, “Even if you were ten times as beautiful, you can’t compare with my Gu Gu.”

Guo Fu quietly asked, “My mother hasn’t arrived yet?”

Wu Xiuwen pointed to the west and quietly replied, “Elder Lu is practicing over there, Master and Master’s wife went away to talk about something.”

The only person that Guo Fu is afraid of is her father, when she heard that he was here she felt slightly uneasy. But when she saw Lu Youjiao holding a bamboo stick pointing to the east and stirring to the west, she forgot her fear and quietly said, “That’s the “Dog Beating Stick Technique”?”

Wu Dunru said, “Most likely. Master’s wife was teaching him when Master came over and said he had something to discuss with her, he led her to the side while Elder Lu practiced by himself.”

Guo Fu watched a few stances and felt that it was sluggish and didn’t see anything special about it, she said, “Elder Lu hasn’t learned it yet, and it isn’t nice to watch, let’s go.”

Yang Guo saw that the stances that Elder Lu was using were identical to the ones that Hong Qigong taught him on top of Mount Hua, he chuckled in his heart, “That girl doesn’t know anything.”

The Wu brothers always followed Guo Fu’s orders, they were about to jump down when they heard footsteps below; the Guo couple were walking over. They heard Guo Jing say, “Of course a decision about Fu’er’s future can’t be decided so lightly and suddenly. But Guo’er is young; it is unavoidable that young people will get into trouble. That business with the Quanzhen sect doesn’t seem to be all his fault.”

Huang Rong said, “I don’t care about him causing trouble at Quanzhen. You are respecting the long friendship between the families of Yang and Guo, as you should. But Yang Guo is very crafty, the more I look at him the more he looks like his father, how can I relax and allow Fu’er to get married to him?” When Yang Guo, Guo Fu and the Wu brothers heard this, they all were shocked. The four of them knew that the Guo and Yang families had some ties but they didn’t know that the previous generations had such deep ties. They could never have guessed that Guo Jing wanted to betroth his daughter to Yang Guo. That sentence affects all four of them, they all listened carefully, their hearts all racing.

Guo Jing said, “Brother Yang Kang was unfortunate that he ended up in the Jin palace and fell in with the wrong crowd. That’s how he ended up like he did, in the end he died without a full corpse. (a soul?) Had he been in the care of Uncle Yang Tiexin, he would never have ended up like that.”

Huang Rong sighed as she remembered the frightening events of that night at Jiaxing’s Iron Spear Temple, her heart froze and she quietly said, “You could say that.” Yang Guo does not fully understand his background, he knew that his father died earlier by someone’s hand but his own mother never revealed how he died or who killed him. Now he heard Guo Jing talking about his father and mentioned ‘ended up in the Jin palace and fell in with the wrong crowd’ and ‘died without a full corpse’, his body quivered as if he was struck by lighting, his face turned grey. Guo Fu glanced at him and saw that he was looking like he was in a trance; she was frightened and worried that he would suddenly fall and drop to his death.

Guo Jing and Huang Rong sat down on a rock with their backs to the tree. Guo Jing lightly stroked Huang Rong’s arm and warmly said, “Since you’ve been carrying our second child, your body has not been feeling well; quickly pass on all the responsibilities of the Beggar Clan to Lu Youjiao so you can rest properly.”

Guo Fu was delighted, “So mother’s having a baby, it’ll be great to have a little brother. How come mother never told me about this?” Huang Rong said, “I don’t worry about the matters of the Beggar Clan that much. What I’m worried about is Fu’er’s future.”

Guo Jing said, “Since the Quanzhen won’t take in Guo’er, I’ll teach him myself. He’s a very clever boy, once he’s learned all my skills in the future, the brotherly vow between his father and I won’t have been in vain.” Yang Guo now knew that Guo Jing was his father’s sworn brother, the words ‘Uncle Guo’ had a real meaning behind it, when he heard Guo Jing treating him with love in his words he was touched, tears almost rolled from of his eyes.

Huang Rong said, “That’s what I’m afraid of, in case he’s too clever for his own good. That’s why I taught him to study and didn’t teach him any martial arts. I hoped that he would become a deep, understanding and righteous man, even if he didn’t know any martial arts. I would have happily betrothed Fu’er to him in that case.”

Guo Jing said, “You have always planned everything to the last detail. This idea would have been good but with Fu’er’s temper and martial arts, wouldn’t having her to marry a weak scholar be a bit harsh for her? Tell me, how could she respect him? In my opinion such a couple would not get on well with each other.”

Huang Rong laughed and said, “You’re shameless! So the reason why we are such a good couple is because you have better martial arts than me. Hero Guo, come, come, come, let’s have a duel.”

Guo Jing laughed and said, “Fine, Chief Huang, give me your best.” A light sound was heard as Huang Rong lightly patted on Guo Jing’s shoulder.

After a while Huang Rong sighed and said, “Ah… this matter is complicated, even with Guo’er to one side, how can you separate the two Wu brothers? In your opinion, who is better?” Guo Fu and the Wu brother’s hearts naturally jumped. This wasn’t related to Yang Guo but he wanted to hear Guo Jing’s opinion of the two.

He heard Guo Jing go ‘hmm’ and didn’t say anything for a while, in the end he said, “I can’t give my opinions on them on small matters. Only when a person is faced with an important matter will they show their real character.” His voice became soft and said, “Fu’er is still young, we can still wait a few years. It could be that by then everything will have sorted itself out and we won’t have to worry about it. There’s no need to exert your self too much when teaching Lu Youjiao the stick techniques. In the last few days I’ve noticed that you don’t seem to look well, I’m worried. I’ll go and find Guo’er and talk to him.” After he said this he got up and walked to the road.

Huang Rong sat on the rock and evened her breathing for a while before she instructed Lu Youjiao to come over and perform the techniques. Lu Youjiao displayed all thirty-six strokes of the technique, but Lu Youjiao had yet to understand the formulae. Huang Rong kept her patience and explained everything more clearly to him. The stances of the “Dog Beating Stick Techniques” are of course ingenious and masterly, and the formulae behind it extremely clever and ingenious, otherwise how could a little bamboo stick become the treasure of the Beggar Clan? Even with Ouyang Feng’s great skills he had to think deep and hard for a long while; how could the opponent overcome a stance or half a move? Huang Rong had used a month’s time to teach Lu Youjiao the stances. Now she recited the formulae and the principles behind the changes a few times, and told him to remember this. When it comes to understanding and being able to use the skill, it depends on the person’s ability and intelligence. The Master cannot teach the disciple this.

Guo Fu and the Wu brothers did not understand the stick techniques, they didn’t have a clue as to what was going on. What the ‘seal’ point was like, how the ‘coil’ aim was meant to be, how the eighteenth change transforms into the nineteenth change and how the nineteenth change can be altered into the twentieth change. The three of them wanted to leap down from the tree but were afraid that Huang Rong would discover them; they hoped that she would go through it quickly and then leave with Lu Youjiao. But who could have guessed that Huang Rong had decided to hand over the position of Chief to Lu Youjiao today before the ‘Heroes Feast’. She decided she would impart all the formulae to him now, if he didn’t understand it she would slowly go over it with him later on. According to the rules of the clan, when he takes over the position he must have learned the “Dog Beating Stick Technique”; this is why that she spoke almost non-stop for around two hours. However, Lu Youjiao wasn’t the most gifted and he was now old, his memory is fading, how could he remember all this in just a short time? Huang Rong kept on going, passage after passage; it was hard for him to remember everything. Huang Rong had met Guo Jing when she was fifteen and was used to being around someone who was slow and not the most gifted. She was angry about Lu Youjiao’s poor memory. The rules of the clan states that the formulae to the technique must be passed on down orally and must not be written down. Otherwise writing it down and letting him slowly memorize it would have saved a lot of effort and energy.

That day on the peak of Mount Hua after both Hong Qigong and Ouyang Feng had suffered internal injuries in their duel, Hong Qigong had taught Yang Guo every stance and every change so that he could perform it for Ouyang Feng. But he didn’t teach him a single word of the formulae that are needed when fighting an enemy. Hong Qigong thought that without the formulae, the techniques would be useless to him. This doesn’t really go against the rules of the clan and at the time he wasn’t fighting Ouyang Feng for real, so there was no need to pass on the formulae to the technique. Who could have guessed that Yang Guo would now hear the whole thing in its entirety? He was over a hundred times more gifted than Lu Youjiao; after just three recitations he was able to remember the whole thing without forgetting a word, but Lu Youjiao still wasn’t able to remember as he recited it ambiguously.

When Huang Rong became pregnant for the second time, she became careless one day while meditating and disturbed the chi of the fetus; because of this she has become very weak. Today she had taught for over half a day and had become very tired, she sat on the rock and rested, she closed her eyes for a while and then called out, “Fu’er, Ru’er, Wen’er, Guo’er, come down at once!”

The four of them were shocked and thought, “So she knew we were here long ago!”

Guo Fu said, “Mother, you really are great, nothing can be kept from you.” As she said this she used a stance of “The Forest Sends a Sparrow” and lightly leapt down in front of her. The Wu brothers followed while Yang Guo climbed down slowly.

Huang Rong gave a ‘heng’ sound and said, “You wanted to steal a look with your kung fu? If I couldn’t even notice you little rascals, I’m afraid that when that I’m traveling around Jianghu I’d be ambushed in half a day.”

Guo Fu felt embarrassed by her mother’s comments but knew that her mother was lenient and wasn’t afraid of being scolded by her. She laughed and said, “Mother, I brought these three along to take a look at the world famous “Dog Beating Stick Technique”, but who knew that when Elder Lu uses it, the skill doesn’t look good at all. Mother, perform the skill for us.”

Huang Rong laughed and took the bamboo stick from Lu Youjiao’s hand, she said, “Fine, watch out, I’m going to trip a little puppy.”

Guo Fu concentrated on her lower body, as soon as the bamboo stick comes towards her, she will immediately jump and avoid the trip. Huang Rong’s bamboo stick flashed across, Guo Fu quickly leapt up, her legs were half way away from the ground when the bamboo stick came across and skillfully and lightly tripped her up. Guo Fu got up and called out, “I’m not taking about that! It was my fault.”

Huang Rong laughed and said, “Fine, you chose what you want to do.”

Guo Fu steadied herself in the Mount Posture and stood solidly, she had another thought and then said, “Big brother Wu and little brother Wu, come to my side and get into the Mount Posture as well.” The Wu brothers did as they were told and stood solidly. Guo Fu stretched out her arm and hooked it around the Wu brothers’ arms combining the strength of the three, as solid as Mount Tai. She said, “Mother, I’m not afraid of you, only father’s “Eighteen Dragon Subduing Palms” can push us.”

Huang Rong gave a slight smile and waved the stick across the three’s faces, a strong gust of wind rushed upon them. The three of them all moved backwards to avoid it, the Mount Posture of the lower body loosened as a result. Huang Rong’s bamboo stick returned and used the ‘turn’ formulae, the stick brushed across the three’s legs, the three of them could not stand steady and all fell down at the same time. At least the three’s kung fu had a good foundation, their bodies had just touched the ground slightly and they up immediately. Guo Fu called out, “Mother, that’s just trickery; I’m not taking about that either.”

Huang Rong laughed and said, “Just now I passed on the eight formulae to Lu Youjiao, ‘trip’, ‘chop’, ‘coil’, ‘poke’, ‘stir’, ‘lead’, ‘seal’ and ‘turn’; which one uses reckless strength? You said this is trickery, that’s correct, in the martial arts, ninety percent of it is used to trick someone, as long as you’ve tricked a skilled fighter, you’ve won. Only your father’s “Eighteen Dragon Subduing Palms” type of martial arts uses real kung fu to battle and doesn’t use any sort of trickery. But how many people in the world can reach such a stage?”

These words made Yang Guo nod in secret, he remembered the formulae that Huang Rong had recited and combined it with the stances that Hong Qigong taught him, the ingenuity and mastery behind it really was boundless. Though Guo Fu and the others understood what Huang Rong said, they didn’t appreciate the meaning behind it. Huang Rong continued, “The “Dog Beating Stick Technique” is Wulin’s most unique kung fu, it forms a branch on its own, and does not involve any other sect’s kung fu. If you just learn the stances but don’t know the formulae to accompany it, it is useless. Even if you are extremely clever it will be very difficult to come up with formulae to accompany the stances. But if you just know the formulae without me personally teaching you the stances, and only know the eight words ‘trip’, ‘chop’, ‘coil’, ‘poke’, ‘stir’, ‘lead’, ‘seal’ and ‘turn’, the result is the same. Because of this I’m not afraid of letting you four rascals eavesdrop. If I teach any sort of kung fu, without my permission, you must not eavesdrop or practice in secret ever, understand?”

Guo Fu agreed and laughed, “Mother, why should I try to practice your kung fu in secret? Could it be that you have other skills that you dare not teach me?”

Huang Rong used the bamboo stick to lightly hit Guo Fu’s behind, she laughed, “Go and play with your two Wu brothers. Guo’er, I want to speak with you. Elder Lu, take your time, if you can’t remember it all I’ll teach you again tomorrow.” Lu Youjiao, Guo Fu and the Wu brothers went on their way back to the Lu Manor, only Yang Guo remained.

Yang Guo’s heart raced, he was afraid that Huang Rong knew that he had secretly learned the “Dog Beating Stick Technique” and know wanted to take his life. Huang Rong saw the frightened expression on Yang Guo’s face; she took his hand and told him to sit down on the rock. She softly said, “Guo’er, there are many things that I don’t understand about you, if I ask you, I know you won’t tell me. But I can’t blame you. When I was young I was extremely eccentric, your Uncle Guo had to tolerate me in everything I did.” As she got up to this point, she lightly sighed and then a smile came across her face as she remembered the times when she vented her anger when she was younger. She continued, “I didn’t teach you martial arts because I wanted what’s best for you, who could’ve known that this caused you to suffer many hardships instead. Your Uncle Guo loves and adores me; of course I will do my best to repay his love. He has great faith in you and hopes that you will become a great man. I will do my best to help you so his wish can be granted. Guo’er, don’t ever disappoint him, please!” Yang Guo has never heard Huang Rong speak to him like this before, soft, gentle and sincere, he saw her eyes were filled with love and he couldn’t stop himself from being moved, hot blood rose to his chest and he groaned. Huang Rong stroked his hair and softly said, “Guo’er, I won’t keep anything from you anymore. In the past I didn’t like your father, which is why I have always disliked you. But from now on, I will treat you well; once my body has recovered I will teach you all the martial arts I know. Uncle Guo said he will do the same thing as well.”

Yang Guo was feeling sadder, he cried even louder and choked, “Auntie Guo, there are many things that I’ve kept from you, I’ll… I’ll… I’ll tell you everything.”

Huang Rong stroked his hair and said, “Today I’m very tired, it won’t be too late if you tell me in a few days, all you’ve got to do is be a good child and I’ll be happy. When the Beggar Clan’s meeting is on, come and take a look.”

Yang Guo thought that important news such as the passing away of Hong Qigong needed to be revealed at the meeting, he wiped his tears and kept on nodding.

The two of them spoke with their true feelings under the tree and managed to scatter away the mutual dislike that they used to have for each other. As they finished, Yang Guo’s tears turned into a smile, he remembered the faith and love that Guo Jing had in his words to him, this is the first time he had felt so warm and affectionate since he and Xiao Longnu split up.

After speaking for a while, Huang Rong felt a slight pain in her stomach; she slowly got up and said, “Let’s go.” She held his hand and they slowly walked.

Yang Guo thought that he should tell her the news of the Hong Qigong’s death and said, “Auntie Guo, I have something very important I have to tell you.”

Huang Rong just felt the chi in her ‘dan tian’ was uncomfortable and not fluent; she frowned and said, “Tell me tomorrow, I’m… I’m not feeling well.”

Yang Guo saw that she was pale and couldn’t help from worrying, he felt her hand was slightly cold, he became bold and secretly circulated his chi and sent a warm energy from his hand into her. When he and Xiao Longnu were practicing the “Jade Heart Manual” on Mount Zhongnan, he had become very fluent in this technique of passing energy through the palms. But he was afraid that his and Huang Rong’s internal energy would clash with each other so at the start he only sent a little; afterwards when he felt no resistance, he started to increase the energy. Huang Rong felt the internal energy that he was passing on was soft and concentrated; it was very different to the internal energies of the Quanzhen sect. It was soft and fluid, it wasn’t below the skilled fighters of Quanzhen, her body had a use for it and in a short while she felt the opposing chi and her blood flow became more fluid and comfortable, her cheeks glowed, she was surprised, “Where did the child learn this advanced internal energy?” She smiled at him.

Just as she was about to ask him, Guo Fu called out from afar, “Mother, mother, guess who’s here?”

Huang Rong laughed and said, “Today all the heroes of the world are gathered here, how do I know who’s here?” She suddenly had a thought and said happily, “Ah, it’s the Wu’s Martial Uncles; I haven’t seen them for many years.”

Guo Fu said, “Mother, you are really clever, how did you get it in one guess?”

Huang Rong smiled and said, “What’s hard about that? The Wu brothers never leave your side, since they’re not following, it must be because their relatives have arrived.” Yang Guo has always been assured of his intelligence but when he saw that Huang Rong predicted things like a god, he couldn’t stop himself from being startled and in awe of her.

Huang Rong continued, “Fu’er, congratulations, you can learn another advanced martial art but I’m afraid that you might not be able to learn it.”

Guo Fu asked, “What kung fu?”

Yang Guo blurted out, “The “Solitary Yang Finger”!”

Guo Fu ignored him and said, “What do you know? Mother, what kung fu is it?” Huang Rong laughed and said, “Hasn’t brother Yang mentioned it?”

Guo Fu said, “Ai… so mother told you.” Yang Guo and Huang Rong both smiled and didn’t say anything. Huang Rong thought, “Guo’er is very intelligent, he’s ten times cleverer than the Wu brothers. And there’s no need to mention Fu’er. He knows that the “Solitary Yang Finger” is Reverend Yideng’s skill, the Wu brothers’ Martial Uncles are here, and they will pity the Wu brothers because of their parents and will definitely teach them the “Solitary Yang Finger”. The brothers are always trying to please Fu’er, whatever they learn will be passed onto her.”

Guo Fu was surprised, “Why did mother tell Yang Guo first, could it be that she wants to betroth me to that little beggar?” When she thought about this, she gave Yang Guo a look and put on a silly face.

Reverend Yideng of Dali has four disciples: ‘Fisherman, Woodsman, Farmer, and Scholar’. The Wu brothers’ father Wu Santong is the third disciple, Farmer. Ever since the battle with Li Mochou where he was wounded, he hadn’t been seen since. The ones that have arrived for the ‘Heroes Feast’ today are the Fisherman, Si Shuiyuyin and the Scholar, Zhu Ziliu. Whenever Huang Rong and Zhu Ziliu meet, they start to battle with their wits. They haven’t seen each other for over ten years and as soon as they saw each other, they were at it again. After the greetings, Si Shuiyuyin and Zhu Ziliu found a room and they indeed did start to teach the “Solitary Yang Finger” to the Wu brothers.

That morning, the Lu Manor was filled with countless heroes and good men; though the Lu Manor was large, there were people everywhere. After lunch, the members of the Beggar Clan assembled in the forest outside the Lu Manor. The ceremony of the old Chief passing the position to a new one is the grandest ceremony in the Beggar Clan. All the members from the east, south, west and north no matter what rank gathered here. The heroes that were invited to the Lu Manor were also invited to watch the ceremony.

Over the last ten years or so, Lu Youjiao had helped Huang Rong in running all the matters of the clan; he was just, he did things boldly and accepted the consequences, the members from the ‘dirty’ clothed and ‘clean’ clothed factions all respected him. Elder Jian of the ‘clean’ clothed faction had passed away, Elder Liang has been incapacitated by illness and Elder Peng had revolted and left. There wasn’t anyone that could challenge for the position of chief; this is why this year’s ceremony proceeded smoothly. Huang Rong acted accordingly to the clan’s rules, after passing on the clan’s historic treasure, the Dog Beating Stick, to Lu Youjiao, she and the rest of the members spat on him to complete the procession. His face and body was covered in spittle.

Yang Guo saw that this procession was extremely strange. He was just about to go and tell them the news of Hong Qigong’s death when suddenly an old beggar leapt up onto a rock and said loudly, “Chief Hong Lao has an order, he told me to tell everyone.” When the clan members heard this they all gave a cheer. They hadn’t had any news from Hong Qigong for over ten years, they all missed him, now they heard that he had news, they all called out in joy. An old beggar in the crowd called out, “Blessings to Elder Hong Lao!” The crowd all cheered, their voices really shook the earth. Cheer followed after cheer, and only after a while did it cease.

Yang Guo saw that everyone was moved, some even had tears on their faces, he thought, “If a man can achieve respect like this, his life will not be in vain. Look at all these people’s joy, how can I tell them that Hong Qigong has passed away? Never mind the fact that I’m a nobody; if I tell them such news they might not believe me. Once they hear this there’ll be chaos, this isn’t good news anyway, why spoil things for them?” He continued his thought, “If they asked ‘how did Hong Qigong die’, I can’t keep the fact that he was dueling with Godfather from them. The Wu brothers know that I’ve learned the “Toad Stance” from Godfather, what reason have they got not to tell everyone this? There are many beggars here and it would be unavoidable for some of them to be suspicious that I might have helped my Godfather kill Chief Hong Lao. I’ll have no way to argue against hundreds of mouths. After the meeting I will explain everything carefully to Auntie Guo and allow her to tell them the news.” He thought that it was fortunate for him that the old beggar dashed out and allowed him time to think, if he blurted it out, he would have caused himself a lot of trouble. He heard the old Beggar say, “Half a year ago, I was on the Guangnandong road in the Shao province and met Elder Hong Lao in Xingjun, and drank wine with him. He’s very healthy and his appetite is great; his drinking ability is the same as before and it’s still the only one of its kind.”

The crowd of beggars all cheered with delight again; within the cheers were sounds of laughter. That old beggar interrupted and continued, “Over the last few years, Chief Hong Lao has killed many unscrupulous officials and evil scoundrels who have terrorized our citizens. He said he had heard news that there are five evil bastards called the ‘Five Clowns of the Tibetan Border’ who are following the orders of the Mongols. They have done many evil things in places like Chuandong and Huguang, he said that he was going to take a look himself and if it is true, of course he’s going to take their lives.”

A middle-aged beggar got up and said, “The ‘Five Clowns of the Tibetan Border’, they caused trouble a while back, but they move without a trace, our brothers in Chuandong were not able to find them. Recently, there has been no news of them; Chief Hong Lao must have sorted out this problem.” The beggars and heroes who watched the ceremony all applauded.

Yang Guo was gloomy, “How would you people know that after Chief Hong Lao and my Godfather made the ‘Five Clowns of the Tibetan Border’ into invalids, the two of them left the world not long after.”

The old beggar continued, “Chief Hong Lao said, ‘Right now the world is in a mess, the Mongols are slowly invading southwards, eating into our Song land. Those in our clan must have loyalty in our hearts, swear to kill our enemies and defend against aggressors with all our might.” All the beggars agreed and their spirits soared. The beggar said, “The government is in a mess, corrupt ministers hold the power, and we can’t expect some rotten officials to protect the people and defend the land. They’ll never be able to do this. The foreign aggressors are getting closer, everyone must have the will to protect our country, and Chief Hong Lao ordered me to tell all of our brothers to remember the word ‘loyalty’.”

All the beggar clan members responded; they all called out, “We swear to follow Chief Hong Lao’s orders.”

Yang Guo had never been taught much since he was young and didn’t know how important the word ‘loyalty’ is; he saw the beggars all trembling with justice and righteousness, and he couldn’t stop himself from being touched. He felt that his making fools out of the Beggar Clan members before was wrong.

After the meeting, the clan’s matters were discussed; there was no need for the outsiders to listen and they took their leave.

When evening came, the Lu Manor was filled with lanterns and candles, all glowing brilliantly. There were over two hundred tables all together in the main hall, side halls, back and front halls, and the courtyard; over half of the world’s heroes attended this feast. This ‘Heroes Feast’ is an exceptional event, a once in a lifetime event; if the host didn’t have so many acquaintances who all respected him, it would be difficult for anyone to invite so many heroes of the Wulin world. Guo Jing and Huang Rong accompanied the main guests and sat in the main hall. Huang Rong arranged a place for Yang Guo and he sat at the table next to hers. Guo Fu and the Wu brothers sat quite a distance away.

Guo Fu was surprised at first and thought, “That person doesn’t know martial arts, why did mother give him such a good seat?” She had a sudden thought, and couldn’t stop herself from being alarmed, “Oh no, crap! Father said he was going to betroth me to him, could it be that mother is listening to father?” The more she thought about it the more frightened she became; she remembered how she saw her mother holding Yang Guo’s hand while walking, looking very close. She also thought about how her father and mother respected each other, if her father wants to do this, mother would not disagree. She was worried and angry, she thought, “How can I get married to that little beggar?” She wanted to cry.

Wu Xiuwen happened to speak at this time, “Sister Fu, look at where that punk named Yang is sitting. He counts as a hero?” Guo Fu forced out, “If you’ve any skill then drive him away!”

The Wu brothers had originally just looked down on him but after hearing Guo Jing saying that he wanted to betroth Guo Fu to him, they made him their enemy.

Wu Xiuwen heard what Guo Fu said and thought, “Why don’t I insult and embarrass him? He’ll be humiliated in front of all these heroes. Master’s wife has always favored those with a strong character, when the one named Yang trips up in public, Master’s wife will not want him to be her son-in-law.” He had just learned the “Solitary Yang Finger” from his Martial Uncle, now was a good time to test it, he said, “Since he wants to pretend that he is a hero, I’ll let him show off and then make him lose face.” He stood up and poured two cups of wine; he went over to Yang Guo and said, “Brother Yang, you must be proud of yourself regarding these last few years. I give you a toast.”

When Yang Guo saw Wu Xiuwen coming towards him, he had seen him glancing over at Guo Fu incessantly and his face had a sly look, showing that he didn’t have any good intentions. He thought, “He’s come over here to give a toast, he must be up to something. But he wouldn’t dare put poison in the wine.” So he stood up and received the wine, he said, “Thank you.” He drank the wine in one gulp.

Just at this moment, Wu Xiuwen stretched out his index finger and touched Yang Guo’s waist. He turned his body to block the view of others, he had sealed Yang Guo’s ‘Laughing Waist’ pressure point, according to his Marshal Uncle, if you use the “Solitary Yang Finger” to seal an enemy’s ‘Laughing Waist’ pressure point, the opponent will laugh and call out. If the pressure point is unsealed, the opponent will keep on laughing without stopping.

Yang Guo had already put his body on guard, how could he fall for the surprise attack? With Yang Guo’s present skills, he would never be ambushed by his opponent’s surprise attack. With Yang Guo’s temper, normally he would not take this ill intent and would definitely counterattack fiercely. If he hadn’t caught Wu Xiuwen out then he would have sealed Wu Xiuwen’s ‘Laughing Waist’ pressure point instead. But after having that conversation with Huang Rong, he was feeling happy and relaxed, he thought, “Although there is some animosity between us, you are still Uncle and Auntie Guo’s disciple, I won’t mess around with you.” He secretly circulated the internal energy that Ouyang Feng had taught him, in a flash all his bodies’ veins circulated the opposite way, all his pressure points changed places, but because he wasn’t upside down and he didn’t have much experience with this type of kung fu. After one inhalation and one exhalation, his body reverted back to normal; he needed to circulate his internal energy again to reverse his veins. But this short period of time it was enough to render Wu Xiuwen’s attack useless.

Wu Xiuwen saw that after touching his pressure point, Yang Guo had a little smile on his face, he was still sitting in his original position and there was no reaction from him. He was surprised and returned to his table. He quietly said, “Brother, how come the kung fu that Martial Uncle taught us doesn’t work?” Wu Xiuwen told him what had just happened.

Wu Dunru chuckled and said, “Your stance must have been wrong or you’ve pointed to the wrong place.”

Wu Xiuwen quickly said, “What’s wrong? Take a look.” He raised his finger and then pointed to his brother’s waist; the appearance, stance and strength were exactly the same as the method that his Martial Uncle taught him.

Guo Fu’s lips pursed and she said, “I thought that the “Solitary Yang Finger” was something amazing, huh! It doesn’t look like its much use.” She knew that the Wu brothers had learned the “Solitary Yang Finger” but she herself didn’t know it. She knows that they will definitely teach her eventually, she still had a feeling of unhappiness in her.

Wu Dunru stood up and poured two cups of wine, he went over to Yang Guo and said, “Brother Yang, me and my brother haven’t seen you for many years, now we meet again, junior also presents a toast to you.”

Yang Guo laughed in his heart and thought, “Your little brother has already shown his skills, let’s see what other great skills you have as the elder brother.” He was holding up a piece of beef with his chopstick and didn’t put it down; he stretched out his left arm to take the cup and laughed, “Thank you.”

Wu Dunru didn’t try to hide it, he stretched out his right arm, his sleeve carried a gust of wind, he stretched out his finger to seal the pressure point on Yang Guo’s waist. Yang Guo saw that the finger was coming in fiercely, his kung fu of reversing his veins was limited and he was afraid that he would not be able to block this attack. He dropped his arm and used the slab of beef to protect his ‘Laughing Waist’ pressure point. This move started second but arrived first, Wu Dunru did not notice this, and his finger went forward and pierced the slab of beef. Yang Guo placed his chopsticks down and said, “After drinking wine, it would be best to follow it with a slab of beef.” Wu Dunru raised his hand and saw his five fingers holding onto a large piece of beef, its juice dripping everywhere, he couldn’t hold onto it but couldn’t fling it away, he gave a furious stare at Yang Guo and scurried back to his seat. Guo Fu saw that he was holding a piece of beef, it was very strange and she asked, “What’s that?”

Wu Dunru’s face turned red, he couldn’t reply. Just at this time, the Beggar Clan’s new chief Lu Youjiao raised a cup and stood up. He gave a toast to all the heroes and then clearly said, “Our clan’s Chief Hong Lao has passed on an order, and he said that the Mongols are invading south and commanded all our clan members to defend our country against them with our lives. All the heroes of the world are gathered here today, everyone here has loyalty in their hearts, we need to discuss the situation and come up with a plan that will drive the Mongols away, never to come back to the land of the Song.”

After he finished, all the heroes stood up, a word here and there, everyone had the same thought. Most of the heroes that attended this feast are patriots, when they saw that their country was close to danger, they all were worried, and now someone has raised this issue, all the loyal and patriotic heroes responded.

A silver bearded old man stood up, his voice was like a bell as he said, “There’s a saying, ‘A snake without a head will not move’, we have loyalty in our hearts but without a leader we will not be able to accomplish our goals. Today, most of the world’s heroes are here; we need to elect a worthy, revered and respected hero who will take charge and lead us.”

A lot of them shouted out, someone called out, “Let the Senior take charge!” “There is no need to elect someone else!”

The old man laughed and said, “What sort of class does a rotten old man such as I belong to? The great fighters of Wulin have always been Eastern Heretic, Western Poison, Southern Emperor, Northern Beggar and Central Divinity. Central Divinity Elder Chongyang had passed away long ago, Eastern Heretic Island Master Huang does as he pleases by himself, Western Poison does not belong to our group; Southern Emperor is far away in Dali and is not a Song citizen. Only Northern Beggar senior Hong Lao can be the Chancellor of all the heroes here.” Hong Qigong is one of Wulin’s most eminent men, everyone agreed to this and stared to clap, no one had any other suggestions.

A voice from the crowd said, “Of course Chief Hong Lao can be the Chancellor of the heroes here. Apart from him, is there another who is as skilled, as revered and has the ability to take on such an important position?”

The voice was clear; everyone looked in the direction of the voice but didn’t see anyone. Actually, it was a very short person who had spoke out and was covered by the others around him. Someone asked, “Who said that?” The short man leaped on the table. He was about three feet tall, over forty years of age; his face exuded a serious air. A few of the crowd knew that he was a good man of Jiangxi, ‘Short Lion’ Lei Meng. The crowd wanted to laugh but when they saw his fierce eyes, they swallowed their laughter.

They heard him continue, “But Chief Hong Lao goes and comes as he pleases; over the last ten years he has only shown himself once. But when we discuss the important matter of defending against the enemy, but have no way to call on him, what should we do then?”

Everyone thought, “What he said does make sense.”

Lei Meng said, “Everything we are doing today is for protecting our country, not for ourselves. We will elect a Vice Chancellor; since Chancellor Hong Lao is roaming around the lands, we will follow the Vice Chancellor’s orders.”

In the midst of shouts and applause, someone called out, “Guo Jing Hero Guo!” Someone else called out, “Chief Lu is the best candidate.” Another person said, “The previous Beggar Clan chief is wise and clever, and she is the disciple of Chief Hong Lao, I elect Chief Huang.” Someone called out, “Let the present Master Lu...” Another one called out, “The Quanzhen sect leader Ma Yu. The “Eternal Spring” Elder Qiu...” Everyone discussed this. In this chaos, four people quickly entered the main hall; it was Hao Datong, Sun Bu’Er, Zhao Zhijing and Yin Zhiping.

When Yang Guo saw they had returned he thought, “Huh, you want to go another round with me?” Guo Jing and Lu Guanying were delighted; they left their table to meet them. The Quanzhen sect is famous for its orthodox martial arts, if there were not any skilled fighters from Quanzhen attending today’s ‘Heroes Feast’, of course their reputation will be tarnished. Hao Datong whispered into Guo Jing’s ear, “There is an enemy coming to cause trouble, be careful. We have come back especially to bring this news.”

Guo Jing pondered, the “Blithe Elder” Hao Datong is one of the skilled fighters of Quanzhen, there aren’t many people in the world of Jianghu with better skills than him; he trembled slightly as he said these words, the enemy must be extremely powerful, he quietly asked, “Ouyang Feng?”

Hao Datong said, “No, it is the Mongol that I’ve suffered from before.”

Guo Jing searched his mind and nodded, “Its Prince Huo Dou?” Before Hao Datong could reply, the sound of a horn blowing was heard outside.

Lu Guanying called out, “Greet the guest!” As soon as he finished, tens of people short and tall stood at the front of the hall.

There many heroes that were eating and drinking happily in the hall and all were slightly surprised when they saw these people suddenly enter, but they assumed that these people had come to attend the ‘Heroes Feast’. They didn’t see anyone they knew and didn’t take much notice.

Guo Jing passed on this news to Huang Rong, the both of them stood up and along with the Lu couple, they went out to meet the visitors. Guo Jing knew the elegant and prosperous looking Mongolian Prince Huo Dou; the sharp faced and skinny Tibetan monk was Huo Dou’s apprentice brother Da’erba. Guo Jing had met the two before; though the two were extremely good fighters, their skills were below his, there was no need for him to be alarmed. He the saw the two standing away from each other, a person in a red gown walked forward; the person was extremely tall and skinny. It was a Tibetan monk who looked like a bamboo tree; there was a groove on his head, like a plate. Guo Jing and Huang Rong glanced at each other. Huang Yaoshi had told them about the martial arts of the secret school of western Tibet before. When one has reached an extremely high level, the person’s head will have a groove. This person has a very deep groove; could it be that this person’s skills are extremely high? How come they had never heard about such a highly skilled fighter from the Western Tibet Jianghu world? The both of them were on guard. They bowed to greet the visitors at the same time. Guo Jing said, “Everyone has come from afar, come in and have a few drinks.” He knew that they were the enemy and didn’t use any fake pleasantries. Lu Guanying ordered his servants to set up another table. The Wu brothers have always helped their Master and Master’s wife in general affairs. They directed the servants and arranged for a table to be placed at the best position. They kept on apologizing to the guests as they did this and asked them to move their seats.

Guo Fu saw Yang Guo was sitting there comfortably without moving; she didn’t like this one bit and thought, “You count as a hero? When all the world’s heroes die, it still won’t be your turn.” She made a signal to Wu Xiuwen with her eyes and then mouthed in the direction of Yang Guo. Wu Xiuwen understood, he went over to Yang Guo and said, “Brother Yang, you need to move your seat a little.” He didn’t wait for his reaction and instructed the servants to move his cup and chopsticks to the table in the furthest corner in the room. Yang Guo’s temper started to flare up, but he didn’t say anything and just chuckled to himself.

Prince Huo Dou said to the tall Tibetan monk, “Master, I’ll introduce you to the two most famous heroes in the central plains.” Guo Jing was alarmed, “So he’s the Mongolian Prince’s master.”

The monk nodded, his eyes seemed to be open but also appeared to be closed. Prince Huo Dou said, “That person has been Mongolia’s Western Levy Right General Guo Jing…Hero Guo, and that is Mrs. Guo, she is the Beggar Clan’s Chief Huang.”

When the monk heard the words ‘Mongolia’s Western Levy Right General’ he suddenly opened his eyes and looked around, He took a look at Guo Jing’s face and then his eyes half closed again, he didn’t take the Beggar Clan’s Chief to heart.

Prince Huo Dou said clearly, “This is my mentor, the holy monk of Western Tibet; everyone calls him Jinlun Fawang. The reigning Mongolian Queen has assigned him the title of the First Protector of Mongolia.” Those words were said very clearly; all the heroes that were present heard everything he said. The crowd was stunned and looked at each other thinking, “We are here discussing the Mongols invading the South, where on earth did this Protector of Mongolia come from?”

Yang Guo was even more alarmed, he remembered how Hong Qigong and his Godfather praised the kung fu the ‘Five Clowns of the Tibetan Border’, calling it terrific. They told them to tell their Grandmaster to come down and have a duel. Right now both Jinlun Fawang and the master of the ‘Five Clowns of the Tibetan Border’ Da’erba are here, while his Godfather and Hong Qigong have both passed away, he was sad. He knew that this tall and skinny Tibetan monk must be extraordinary.

Guo Jing didn’t know how to confront these people, he just said calmly, “You have come from afar, please have a few drinks.”

After three rounds of wine, Prince Huo Dou stood up and opened his fan, revealing a delicate and beautiful peony flower; he said with a clear voice, “We have not received a ‘Heroes’ invitation but we have come here to attend the ‘Heroes Feast’. We are uninvited guests, but when I considered all the worthy and admirable people that would be gathered here, I had to take the risk. The gathering of the world’s heroes is a rare event. In my opinion, a chancellor needs to be elected who will organize the Wulin world in the interests of the worlds’ heroes, what does everyone think?”

‘Short Lion’ Lei Meng said loudly, “What you said is not wrong. We have already elected the Beggar Clan’s Chief Hong Lao as our chancellor, now we are in the middle of the electing a vice chancellor, what are your views?”

Huo Dou chuckled, “Hong Qigong had passed away a long time ago. By electing a spirit as a chancellor, do you treat us all as dead people?” As he said this, all the heroes made a clamor, the Beggar Clan members were especially angry, all were shouting.

Huo Dou said, “Fine, if Hong Qigong isn’t dead, then please invite him here.”

Lu Youjiao raised the Dog Beating Stick twice and said, “Chief Hong Lao is roaming the world; he never stays in one place. How can you see him so easily?”

Huo Dou chuckled, “Without mentioning the fact that it isn’t clear whether Hong Qigong is alive or dead, and even if he was alive and were sitting here, with his martial arts and virtue, how could he compare with my master Jinlun Fawang?” All the heroes of the world listened. “Apart from my master Jinlun Fawang; there isn’t a second person who can take the position of the Chancellor of Wulin.”

When the crowd heard these words, they all knew the reason these people had come here. They knew that the ‘Heroes Feast’ would not be in the best interests of Mongolia and so came here to compete for the place of Wulin’s Chancellor. If Jinlun Fawang manages to take the place of Chancellor by virtue of his kung fu, the heroes of the central plains will of course ignore his orders. But the Han defensive force against the Mongols would have been severely weakened.

Everyone knew that Huang Rong was wise and ingenious; they all turned their heads and looked at her, thinking, “Even if these people’s kung fu was a lot stronger, they will never be a match for the few thousands of us that are here. Whether it is one on one or a mass brawl, we won’t lose. Everyone just listen to Chief Huang’s instructions.”

Huang Rong knew that today’s matters would not be settled unless martial arts were used. A mass brawl will of course result in victory but the opposition will not be convinced. She said clearly, “Right now, all the heroes here have elected Hong Qigong to be the Chancellor of Wulin. This Mongolian gentleman has another suggestion and wants to elect a person that no one here has heard of or seen; someone called Jinlun Fawang. If Hong Qigong were here, then they both could show their divine skills and duel to a result, but senior is roaming the world and enjoying life. Killing Mongols and getting rid of our country’s traitors, he didn’t predict that today you would come here by your own choice. He isn’t here to greet you; when he hears of this news later on, he would definitely regret his absence. Luckily, Hong Qigong and Jinlun Fawang both have disciples, why don’t we let the disciples represent their masters in this exchange?” Most of the heroes of the central plains knew that Guo Jing’s skills were terrifyingly good and now in the prime of his life, he could be said to be the world’s number one fighter. Even if Hong Qigong came out right now, he might not be stronger than him. If he fights with the disciple of Jinlun Fawang, victory is certain, there is no way for him lose. Everyone called out and shouted loudly, shaking the tiles of the roof. When those in the side halls and back hall heard this news, they all rushed over. The front and back courtyard, the entrances to the room were full of people, everyone calling out to help enforce this suggestion. The numbers on Jinlun Fawang’s side were small, their voices could not compete.

Years ago, Huo Dou had been defeated by Guo Jing in one stance. He thought that Guo Jing was a disciple of Quanzhen’s sect; after that he looked into who he was and found out about his background. His apprentice brother Da’erba and he were afraid that even if the two of them went up at once, they would most probably lose to this disciple of Hong Qigong, Hero Guo. But if they didn’t follow Huang Rong’s suggestion, they would not be able to challenge for the position of Wulin’s Chancellor. This change of events really was unexpected and they couldn’t think of a way to respond.

Jinlun Fawang said, “Fine, Huo Dou, go ahead and compete with the disciple of Hong Qigong.” Those words were extremely heavy, he said this all in one breath without a need to breathe in again. He had always lived in Western Tibet and thought that with Huo Dou’s martial arts, he would have little competition in the central plains. The only people that he wouldn’t be able to beat are the likes of seniors such as Northern Beggar, Eastern Heretic, and Western Poison. He didn’t know that he had lost to Guo Jing before.

Huo Dou agreed but then quietly said, “Master, that disciple of Hong Qigong is amazing, this disciple is afraid that he will not be able to achieve victory. I do not want to tarnish Master’s name.”

Jinlun Fawang’s face sank, and said, “Could it be that you can’t beat someone else’s disciple? Go now.”

Hou Dou was in a very embarrassing situation; he had kept the matter of losing to Guo Jing away from his master. Right now he didn’t dare to tell him about it in this final moment. He knew that his master has the ability to go through heaven and penetrate earth; he had no match under heaven. He thought that all that they had to do was to hurry to the ‘Heroes Feast’ and the position of Wulin’s Chancellor will be in their hands. How could he have guessed that he would have to fight with Guo Jing? In this urgent situation, a fat man dressed in the clothes of a Mongolian official went over to him and whispered a few words into his ear. As soon as Huo Dou heard this he was delighted, he stood up and opened his fan, fluttering it a few times before he said clearly, “I have heard that the Beggar Clan has a treasured martial art, its called the “Dog Beating Stick Technique” or something; it is Chief Hong Lao’s most powerful skill. Little Prince is brazen; I’ll rely on my fan to break this skill. If I break this skill, then it appears the martial arts of Hong Qigong are merely mediocre!”

At first, when Huang Rong saw someone whispering into Huo Dou’s ear, she didn’t take it to heart; suddenly she heard him mentioning the “Dog Beating Stick Technique”. In just a few words he had placed their most powerful fighter Guo Jing to one side; who exactly came up with this plan? She took a look at that Mongolian and then it became clear; she recognized that it was one of four elders of the Beggar Clan Elder Peng. So he has gone over to the Mongols; he is now wearing Mongolian clothes and has grown a beard. His hat hung down, covering his eyes and if she hadn’t studied him carefully, she would not have been able to recognize him. Only he would know that the “Dog Beating Stick Technique” is passed on from chief to chief only; though Guo Jing’s skills are high, he doesn’t know this set of kung fu. These words were deliberately aimed to challenge Huang Rong and Lu Youjiao.

Lu Youjiao had just started to learn the “Dog Beating Stick Technique”, his understanding is limited and may not be able to use it; she herself will have to fight.

Guo Jing knew that his wife’s “Dog Beating Stick Technique” is ingenious; it would be able to beat Huo Dou. But in the past few months, her baby’s chi had moved, her body was not in tune, she cannot fight with someone else; so he got out of his seat and stood between the tables and said, “Chief Hong Lao has never used his “Dog Beating Stick Technique”, come and experience his “Eighteen Dragon Subduing Palms”.”

Jinlun Fawang’s eyes half opened and half closed, he saw Guo Jing moving out of his seat and standing up, he had an extraordinary air about him. He couldn’t stop himself from being secretly alarmed, “This person really is extraordinary.”

Huo Dou laughed and said, “At Chongyang Palace in Mount Zhongnan, we met once before; that day, you said that you are under the tutelage of Ma Yu, Qiu Chu Ji and the other Taoists; why are you now calling yourself a disciple of Hong Qigong’s?”

Guo Jing was about to reply when Huo Dou continued, “A person having many masters is a common thing. Today, it is an exchange of kung fu between Jinlun Fawang and Hong Qigong; though your kung fu is great, your skills come from a variety of schools, you cannot show Hong Qigong’s real abilities.”

His argument made some sense; Guo Jing was clumsy with words and had no way to rebuke.

The crowd all called out, “If you’ve got guts, then fight with hero Guo, if you haven’t scurry away with your tail hanging behind you.” “Hero Guo is Hong Qigong’s disciple, if he doesn’t qualify, then who can represent Hong Qigong?” “First suffer under the “Eighteen Dragon Subduing Palms”, you’ll still have time to experience the “Dog Beating Stick Technique”.”

Hou Dou laughed towards the sky, as he laughed he circulated his internal energy, ‘ha’ ‘ha’ ‘ha’ ‘ha’, ‘he’ ‘he’ ‘he’ ‘he’; he drowned out the clamor made by the heroes; his voice shaking the flames of the candles in the hall. The heroes looked at each other, their faces losing color, they thought, “Who would have thought that such a young man, who looks like a well to do person, have such strong internal energy.” In a flash, it had become quiet.

Huo Dou said to Jinlun Fawang, “Master, we have allowed ourselves to be wronged by these people. At first, when we heard that today is the ‘Heroes Feast’, we rushed to attend from thousands of li away, but who knew that these people are cowards. Let’s go quickly, if you unluckily become the Chancellor of these people, it’ll make our people say that you are in the same league as these people, won’t that tarnish your great name?”

The heroes all knew that he was trying to anger them, wanting to force Huang Rong to come out and battle; but his words were extremely infuriating, it really was difficult for anyone to endure them.

In the midst of these shouts and calls from the crowd, Lu Youjiao showed his bamboo stick and walked forward, standing between the tables. He said, “I am the newly appointed Beggar Clan Chief Lu Youjiao, I have only learnt less than ten percent of the “Dog Beating Stick Technique”, I actually shouldn’t use it. But if you insist on tasting the pain of the “Dog Beating Stick Technique”, I’ll beat you with a few stances.”

Lu Youjiao’s martial arts was already profound, though he hadn’t learned all of the “Dog Beating Stick Technique”, it had improved his martial arts a significant level. He saw that Huo Dou was around thirty years of age; he thought that even with a great teacher, his internal energy will not be profound. He saw that Huang Rong wasn’t well, whether he wins or loses, he couldn’t let her take the risk.

Huo Dou just wanted to ensure that he would not have to fight Guo Jing; he wasn’t afraid of anyone else and immediately held his hand and bowed, he said, “Chief Lu, nice to meet you. There’s no one better to exchange moves with than you.”

Huang Rong was secretly anxious, but she remembered that Lu Youjiao was the newly appointed chief; since he had made the challenge she couldn’t stop him. Otherwise she will question Lu Youjiao’s clout and show that her power is above the chief’s; she had to allow him to fight for a while and then decide what to do afterwards.

The managers of the Lu Manor instructed the servants to move the tables, creating seven or eight tables’ worth of space and added more red candles, lighting up the centre of the hall as if it were daytime.

Hou Dou called out, “Ready!” As he said this his fan swept across, a gust of wind threw itself towards Lu Youjiao, carrying a slight fragrance. Lu Youjiao was afraid that the wind carried poison and quickly darted out of the way of the wind. Huo Dou’s fan waved out, a ‘ca’ sound was heard; the fan folded and formed an eight-inch long pressure point sealing stick, and was thrust towards the enemy’s side. Lu Youjiao’s bamboo stick went forward, he ignored the threat of having his pressure point sealed and used the ‘coil’ formulae to trip and lift. The “Dog Beating Stick Technique” really was extremely ingenious, its direction is extremely difficult to predict; Huo Dou lightly leapt up to avoid this but he couldn’t have guessed that the stick would suddenly flip up fiercely and would hit his lower leg. He stumbled, leaped forward three steps and stopped himself from falling down.

The watching heroes all cheered and called out, “The dog’s been hit!” “This will teach you the power of the “Dog Beating Stick Technique”!”

Huo Dou’s face turned red immediately after this, he gracefully turned around and threw out a left palm. Lu Youjiao kicked out his left leg and swept with bamboo stick, the stick was in a flying dance, it kept on changing without stop.

Huo Dou was secretly alarmed, “The “Dog Beating Stick Technique” does live up to its name!” He concentrated and used all his strength with the fan in his right hand and palm with his left. Lu Youjiao has yet to complete the final stage of the stick technique, he had victory in his grasp many times but in the end it was a waste of his efforts. Guo Jing and Huang Rong watched from the side and kept on saying to themselves, “What a pity!”

After another ten stances or so, the weaknesses in Lu Youjiao’s “Dog Beating Stick Technique” began to show themselves. Yang Guo saw every stance clearly and couldn’t stop himself from frowning. Luckily the “Dog Beating Stick Technique” name is famous, and as soon as it was used, Huo Dou was struck in the lower leg. Huo Dou was worried and didn’t dare get too close, otherwise Lu Youjiao would have lost long ago. Huang Rong saw that something was wrong and was about to call out and tell Lu Youjiao to come back when Lu Youjiao suddenly used a stance of “Hitting the Dog’s Back from the Side”, the bamboo stick flashed across and struck Huo Dou’s left cheek. But his stance was too heavy; the lightness of the skill was lost. Huo Dou suddenly stretched out his hand and held the bamboo stick in his hand, he had no more worries and suddenly threw out a palm that struck Lu Youjiao in the chest and then followed it by a sweep, a ‘ka la’ sound was heard as Lu Youjiao’s leg was broken. He spat out a pool of blood as he fell forwards. Two seven band members dashed forward to support him. When everyone saw how ruthless Huo Dou was, they were extremely angry and they all shouted and cursed.

Hou Dou displayed the gem green jade bamboo stick; he was proud of himself and said, “The Beggar Clan’s treasure is the Dog Beating Stick, so it’s nothing more than this.” He wanted to insult the central plain’s largest heroic clan. He held the Dog Beating Stick in his two hands and wanted to snap it in half.

Suddenly a green image flashed, an elegant and beautiful young woman stood in front of him, she said, “Wait!” It was Huang Rong.

Huo Dou saw that her movements were extremely fast and was in shock, all he could say was, “You… ” Her left hand swept across and her right hand scoured across his eyes. Huo Dou quickly stretched his arm out but by that time, Huang Rong had already snatched the Dog Beating Stick back. This stance of snatching the stick back is called, “Snatching the Stick from the Dog’s Mouth” and is one of the extremely advanced stances of the “Dog Beating Stick Technique”. Years ago at the Mount Jun Beggar Clan gathering, Huang Rong used this technique to snatch the Dog Beating Stick away from Yang Kang three times. The changes of this stance are extremely mysterious; when snatching the stick in a hundred ways there would be one hundred successes, even a stronger opponent cannot avoid this.

All the heroes cheered. Huang Rong returned to her seat with the Dog Beating Stick by her side, leaving Huo Dou in the middle of the room in an embarrassing situation. Though his martial arts were profound, he couldn’t explain how Huang Rong snatched the stick away, he thought, “Could it be that this woman knows how to perform illusions?” He heard the onlookers ridiculing him; he glanced at his master and saw his face was not pleased. He thought that such a beautiful woman must have limited abilities so he called out, “Chief Huang, I have handed the Dog Beating Stick back to you, please come and exchange a few moves. You won’t dare turn this invitation down will you?” As soon as he said this, indeed there were people who thought that it wasn’t Huang Rong who had snatched back the Dog Beating Stick, but it was Huo Dou who handed it back to her so they can duel. Only people with high martial arts could see that it was Huang Rong who had used force to take the Dog Beating Stick back.

When Guo Fu heard these words she was extremely angry, in her life she had never seen anyone who dared treat her mother with such disrespect. A ‘shua’ sound was heard as she took out her precious sword. Wu Xiuwen said, “Sister Fu, I’ll help you vent your anger.” Wu Dunru also had the same thought, the two of them leapt into the heart of the main hall at the same time.

One of them said, “My Master’s wife’s body is very precious.” The other one said, “How can she fight with a ruffian like you.”

The other said, “First experience little Master’s kung fu first before doing anything else.”

Huo Dou saw that the two were young but their movements were steady, they have been taught by famous masters, he thought, “We have come here today to show off our martial arts and break the spirits of the Han martial artists, fighting a few more rounds will be great. But there are many of them and few of us, if we induce a brawl, things would be hard to handle.” So he said, “All the world’s heroes listen, these two little punks want to duel with me, if I do fight then I’m afraid that people will say I’m bullying them. If I don’t I’m afraid that people will think that I’m afraid of them. Let’s do it this way, we will agree to compete for three rounds, whichever side wins two rounds, then the place of Chancellor goes to them. The fight between Elder Lu and me does not count, we will start again. Does everyone agree?” Those words were said with his status in mind, displaying his great generosity.

Guo Jing, Huang Rong and all the special guests discussed this quietly; they felt that it would be difficult to reject this suggestion. Today, apart from Huang Rong who cannot come out and fight, the strongest people here are Guo Jing, Hao Datong and Reverend Yideng’s fourth disciple Zhu Ziliu. Zhu Ziliu is a citizen of Dali but he still had ties to this matter. Dali and Song depended on each other, and in the recent years Dali has suffered the oppression of Mongols; it could be said that they shared the same enemy. Never mind the fact that he had a very good friendship with the Guo couple, he was duty bound to help. They decided that Zhu Ziliu would battle with Huo Dou in the first round, Hao Datong with Da’erba in the second, Guo Jing and Jinlun Fawang in the final round. Whether or not this plan would assure victory was uncertain; suppose Jinlun Fawang’s martial arts are so high that even Guo Jing can’t withstand him. It wouldn’t be inconceivable that they would lose all three rounds, and if that happens they would really have suffered a crushing defeat. Before the decision was definite, Huang Rong suddenly said, “I have a way to guarantee victory.”

Guo Jing was delighted and was just about to ask her when suddenly wind sounds created by weapons could be heard, everyone turned their heads and saw the Wu brothers using their long swords fighting with Huo Dou and his fan. The Guo couple and the disciples of Reverend Yideng Diancang Yuyin and Zhu Ziliu were worried about their safety so all of them concentrated on the battle.

The Wu brothers heard Huo Dou was rude towards them in his words, calling them little punks, these words were heard by everyone, how could they live this down? Never mind the fact that they just saw their Master’s wife snatch the bamboo stick back from him. They thought that although he beat Lu Youjiao, it was because Lu Youjiao’s kung fu wasn’t up to scratch, not because that this person is terrific. They also thought that since they both had been taught great martial arts by Guo Jing, if one of them can’t beat him the two of them will definitely be able to overcome him. They didn’t care about competing over three or four rounds, they really were like newborn calves that were not afraid of tigers, the brothers signaled with their eyes and thrust out their swords together.

However, though Guo Jing’s martial arts were high, he had yet to pass on most of his skills to his disciples. He himself understood the theories of advanced martial arts but when he was passing it on, he wasn’t able to express clearly its meanings. The Wu brother’s natural endowments were just average to normal, how much could they learn in just a few years? In just a few moves, their long swords were controlled by Hou Dou; they were unable to use them fully. Hou Dou wanted to show off in front of these people, he saw Wu Xiuwen’s sword coming in and threw up his left index finger holding up the sword on the flat side, the fan waved across and the base struck the top of the blade, a ‘zheng’ sound was heard as the sword snapped in two. The Wu brothers were shocked, Wu Xiuwen quickly leapt out of the way, Wu Dunru was afraid that his brother would be hurt so he extended his sword towards Huo Dou’s back forcing him to stop his attack. Huo Dou had predicted this move, he didn’t turn back and folded his fan sending it backwards. The two weapons met, the fan hitting against the flat side of the sword, Huo Dou twisted his fingers around twice. Only his fingers moved but the Wu Dunru’s sword followed the fan in turning around, his joints would definitely twist out of place if he didn’t let go. He could only loosen his hand and let go of the sword. He leapt back and saw the sword flying upwards, the sword glimmered in the candlelight before it fell down to the floor.

The Wu brothers were shocked and angry, although they were empty handed they were not afraid. Wu Dunru’s left hand hung horizontally in the air, holding the position of a stance of “Eighteen Dragon Subduing Palms”. Wu Xiuwen’s right hand hung down, his left index finger slightly crooked; as soon as the enemy attacks he would use the “Solitary Yang Finger”.

Hou Dou saw that these stances looked serious, he was wary and didn’t dare to look lightly upon them, he thought, “Winning up to this point is enough, there is no need to refuse something good, asking for more is not in my interests.” The “Eighteen Dragon Subduing Palms” and “Solitary Yang Finger” are first class skills in the world of martial arts, though the Wu brothers’ internal energy was weak, the stances they put out were perfect. When normal people saw it they didn’t think much of it, but in the trained eyes of Huo Dou, he knew that it wasn’t that simple, he laughed and then bowed with his hands, he said, “Please sit down, we are just trying to find a winner, not fighting to the death.” His tone sounded a lot more polite. The Wu brothers’ faces showed signs of embarrassment; they knew that fighting empty handed with him will most probably result in an even more embarrassing defeat. The two of them hung their heads with a gloomy expression and retreated to the side, but not going back to where Guo Fu was. Guo Fu dashed forward and called out, “Wu Brothers, the three of us will go up and fight him again.” The crowd looked on. Guo Fu’s right hand held her sword and her left hand waved out, she said, “We three, apprentice brother and sister, will go up together.”

Guo Jing shouted, “Fu’er, stop making trouble!” Guo Jing was the person that Guo Fu most feared; she could only retreat a few steps and stare angrily at Huo Dou. Huo Dou saw that she was beautiful and desirable, he laughed as he nodded his head. Guo Fu gave him a glance and turned her head away, ignoring him. The Wu brothers were really frightened that Guo Fu would ridicule them, now they saw her shielding them, showing care for them, they felt great comfort in their hearts.

Huo Dou opened his fan and fluttered it a few times and then said, “Of course that last battle does not count. Hero Guo, the three people from our side will be my master, my apprentice brother and I. My kung fu is the weakest; I’ll be in the first round. Who have you elected to fight? Whoever wins or loses, it is now not a game.”

Guo Jing heard that his wife had a plan for a guaranteed victory; he knew that she was cunning and intelligent and had hundreds of ideas. Though he didn’t know what ingenious plan she had in mind he had great confidence in her and said loudly, “Fine, we will decide this over three rounds.”

Huo Dou knew that the strongest person on the opposite side was Guo Jing, his master has no match on earth, he will definitely beat him. Though Huang Rong used a strange move to take the stick back, judging from her delicate and apprehensive appearance if she really fought she may not be that strong. The others don’t even need any consideration, his eyes swept across the crowd and then said, “If anyone has another suggestion then please express it now. Once victory is decided, then the orders of the Wulin Chancellor must be followed.”

The heroes wanted to agree but they had seen him defeat Lu Youjiao and the Wu brothers one after the other sparingly; they didn’t know what other abilities he hadn’t shown yet, none of them dared to interrupt and all turned their heads towards the Guo couple. Huang Rong said, “You are competing in the first round, your apprentice brother in the second, your master in the third, that’s decided and won’t change right?”

Huo Dou said, “That is correct.”

Huang Rong said quietly to those around her, “Our victory is assured.” Guo Jing said, “How?”

Huang Rong said quietly, “Now, the king wins when the third class ‘si’ (team of four horses) competes against his first class ‘si’.” After she said this she looked at Zhu Ziliu. Zhu Ziliu laughed as he continued quietly, “Beat the king by using first class ‘si’ against his second class ‘si’; beat the king by using middle class ‘si’ against his third class ‘si’. The result of these races was that Tain Ji lost the first one but won the last two and received a thousand gold bars from the king.” Guo Jing looked blank; he didn’t understand what they were talking about. Huang Rong whispered into his ear and said, “You’re well versed in military techniques, have you forgotten the ingenious plan of the ancestor of military strategies Sun Bin?”

Guo Jing immediately remembered the times when he read ‘Wu Mu Yi Shu’ (a book containing military strategies) when he was younger; Huang Rong had told him a story; Qi’s general Tain Ji and the King of Qi had a horse race, the stake was a thousand gold bars. Sun Bin taught Tian Ji a method that would guarantee victory; use his third class horses to compete against the King of Qi’s first class horses, use his first class horses against King of Qi’s second class horses, use his second class horses against the king of Qi’s third class horses. The result was two wins and a loss, winning the thousand gold bars. Now, Huang Rong was using this idea.

Huang Rong said, “Apprentice brother Zhu, with your “Solitary Yang Finger”, beating that Mongolian Prince is not a hard thing to do.”

Years ago, Zhu Ziliu had been a lawyer and a governor in Dali; he was an educated and intelligent man. The martial arts of the school of the Mu Li Duan’s rely on one’s understanding. When Zhu Ziliu first entered the tutelage of the Southern Emperor, his kung fu was the worst out of the four disciples ‘Fisherman, Woodsman, Farmer, Scholar’; ten years later he moved up to second place, now his martial arts were much higher than his three older apprentice brothers. Reverend Yideng treated his four disciples equally, he taught them all the same kung fu; in the end it was Zhu Ziliu who had understood the most, especially the “Solitary Yang Finger”, he had refined it to a superb state. Right now his kung fu could not compare with Guo Jing, Ma Yu and Qiu Chu Ji but he was better than Wang Chuyi, Hao Datong and the others.

When Guo Jing heard his wife say this he interrupted, “Asking Taoist Hao to fight Jinlun Fawang may be a bit too risky. If the victory or loss won’t affect the overall result, then I’m afraid during that round the enemy might too be ruthless, it would be difficult to defend against him.” He spoke frankly and didn’t care that he counted as the first class ‘si’, regarding Hao Datong as the third class ‘si’ may be a bit too impolite.

Hao Datong knew that this duel will affect the fate of the country; this was not the normal duels for fame that occurs frequently in the world of Wulin. If the position of the Chancellor of Wulin is taken by the Mongolian Protector, not only will the Han martial artists lose face, they will also lose their spirit. The goal of uniting together and fighting against the invaders will be unachievable, he said, “There is no need to worry about that, as long as it’ll help my country, losing my life to that Tibetan monk is not important.”

Huang Rong said, “All we need to do is to win the first two matches, then there will be no need for the third match.” Guo Jing was delighted and agreed. Zhu Ziliu laughed and said, “I have an important mission; if I lost to that Mongolian Prince then I’d suffer a lifetime of insults from the world’s heroes.”

Huang Rong said, “There’s no need to be modest, please go ahead.”

Zhu Ziliu went to the middle of the hall and saluted Huo Dou with his hands and said, “In the first match, it will be me who’ll be asking for some advice. My surname is Zhu first names Ziliu; the things that I love most in life are poetry and literature, my kung fu is very coarse. I have come to request some pointers from you.” As he said this he searched himself, from his sleeve he took out a pen, he circled it a few times in the air, looking completely like a scholar.

Huo Dou thought, “These types of people will have profound skills, I cannot take it easy.” He held his fists and returned the greeting and said, “Little Prince requests pointers from senior, please show your weapon.”

Zhu Ziliu said, “Mongolians are a barbaric nation, they have yet to be enlightened, since you want some pointers, then I will point you in the right direction.”

Huo Dou was furious, “You insult my country; then I can’t spare you.” He opened his fan and said, “This is my weapon, are you going to use a saber or a sword?”

Zhu Ziliu wrote the word ‘pen’ in the air and laughed as he said, “In my life I have always been associated with a pen; how would I know how to use other weapons?”

Huo Dou concentrated on his pen, he saw the bamboo tube and the brush head, at the tip of the pen was half an inch of black ink, there was nothing special about it. It was completely different to the ‘chun gang’ pen that people in Wulin used for sealing pressure points, he was about to ask about it when a girl in white entered from outside.

She stood at the entrance of the hall, her eyes slowly scoured across the crowd; it was as if she was looking for someone. Everyone in the hall was concentrating on Zhu Ziliu and Huo Dou when the girl in white entered; they turned their heads involuntarily and looked at her. They saw her face was pale white as if she was ill; though the light of the candles was like red clouds, her face had no hint of blood in it, showing off her elegance even further, her beauty was incomparable. People use the phrase ‘as beautiful as a goddess’ to describe a girl’s beauty but no one knew how beautiful a goddess was. As soon as these people saw this girl, they couldn’t stop the words ‘as beautiful as a goddess’ from running though their minds. It was as if a light fog, a thin mist, surrounded her body; she appeared real but also looked like an illusion; she was not from this world.

As soon as Yang Guo saw this young girl, he was overjoyed, his chest felt like it had been struck by a metal hammer; he leapt from the corner of the room and hugged her, he called out, “Gu Gu, Gu Gu!” That young girl was Xiao Longnu.

After she left Yang Guo, she circled around the land a few times and then returned to the ancient tomb. Before she was eighteen, living in the ancient tomb was not hard for her, but after she met Yang Guo and experienced many twists and turns, she could never return to the way she was before, not caring about anything.

Every time she sat on the chilled jade bed to practice her martial arts she remembered that Yang Guo had slept on this bed; when she sat at the table eating she remembered the times when she ate with Yang Guo. After practicing kung fu for a little while she would become troubled and impatient, it was difficult to carry on. She spent over a month like this before she could endure it no longer; she decided to look for Yang Guo. She didn’t know how she would treat him once she had found him. She didn’t know anything about worldly matters, similar to a person from the mountains or wild lands, now something had suddenly changed and was unfamiliar, she was completely at a loss. After she left the mountain, everything that she saw was new to her; how would she know the roads, whenever she saw someone passing by she would ask, “Have you seen Yang Guo?” When she was hungry she would take other people’s food because she didn’t know that money was needed. She created a lot of trouble along the way. But when people saw that she was innocent and beautiful, they couldn’t refrain from making her allowances; no one caused trouble for her. One day she heard two men talking in a restaurant, they said that the famous heroes of the world will be going to Da Xingguan’s ‘Heroes Feast’ at the Lu Manor. She thought that Yang Guo might be there so she found out how to get there and headed for the Lu manor.

Apart from Hao Datong, Yin Zhiping and Zhao Zhijing, no one amongst the two thousand present knew a thing about her; all they saw was that she was extremely beautiful, everyone’s heart felt touched. Sun Bu’Er knew about this person but had never seen her before. Yin Zhiping’s face was pale, his body trembled. Zhao Zhijing looked at him and chuckled. Guo Jing and Huang Rong were greatly surprised with how Yang Guo reacted to her. Xiao Longnu said, “Guo’er, indeed you are here, I’ve finally found you.”

Tears flowed from Yang Guo’s eyes as he choked, “You… you won’t abandon me again will you?” Xiao Longnu shook her head and said, “I don’t know.”

Yang Guo said, “Where ever you go I will follow.” There were over a thousand people here in the main hall but the two acted as if no one else was there, talking naturally. Xiao Longnu held Yang Guo’s hand, she didn’t know whether she was happy or sad.

Though Huo Dou’s heart was moved when he saw Xiao Longnu, he didn’t know that this was the girl whose hand in marriage he was trying to get years ago at Mount Zhongnan. He saw that Yang Guo’s garments were ragged and torn but the two of them looked very close, his heart was disgusted and he said, “We are dueling, go and find another place for this!”

Yang Guo was not in the mood to talk to him, he held Xiao Longnu’s hand and went over to the side and they sat down shoulder to shoulder on the rock base of a pillar. His heart was bursting with joy. Huo Dou turned around and said to Zhu Ziliu, “Since you are not using a weapon, we’ll fight with our fists.”

Zhu Ziliu said, “Not so. We Chinese are a polite nation, not like the barbaric Mongols. In a treaty, one uses a pen to communicate; the enemy has a pen but no saber, so who needs a weapon?”

Huo Dou said, “Since it is like this, prepare!” He opened his fan and swept it across. Zhu Ziliu slanted his body, a step to the side and swung his head. His left hand swept lightly across himself, the pen in his right hand went towards Huo Dou’s face. Huo Dou moved his head to avoid it; he saw the opponent’s movements were light and his stances strange. He didn’t dare to attack, waiting to see through his kung fu clearly before making a decision.

Zhu Ziliu said, “The enemy’s pen can sweep away a thousand soldiers, you need to be careful.” As he said this the tip of the pen went forward. Huo Dou learned martial arts in Western Tibet, Jinlun Fawang was very knowledgeable, there was nothing he didn’t know about the central plains’ martial arts. When Huo Dou’s training was drawing to a close, he decided to go to the central plains to make his name, and so Jinlun Fawang taught him how to defeat the proudest kung fu of the central plain’s most famous sects. How could he know that he would meet up with Zhu Ziliu, the weapon he used was strange, his stances were unimaginably strange, he had never heard of such things. He saw the pen tip stroking across and hooking down; it was as if he was writing but the places where the pen was pointing were the places of the body’s main pressure points.

Zhu Ziliu is the number one calligrapher of the northern sky, though he practices martial arts he hadn’t stopped studying literature, in the end, the more he practiced his kung fu the further refined it became and eventually the two arts became connected to each other. The “Solitary Yang Finger” and calligraphy became one. This kung fu was his own invention; if the opponent was stronger but didn’t have a background in literature, it would be extremely difficult for them to defend against this martial art. From literature and literature on martial arts came a kung fu where both literature and martial arts have reached an extremely advanced state. Luckily, Huo Dou has studied under a Han scholar when he was young, he had read books and recited poems, and was able to defend against this attack. He saw the tip of the pen flashing across, in the calligraphy was the aim of sealing pressure points, in the pressure point sealing was the aim of calligraphy. It was like a silver hook and metal scull, the strokes were swift and powerful and in the midst of this there was a leisurely and elegant air.

Guo Jing wasn’t versed in literature, as he watched he thought this kung fu was extraordinary. Huang Rong’s father taught her both martial arts and literature, when she saw this excellent kung fu, she couldn’t stop herself from admiring and enjoying it. Guo Fu went over to her mother’s side and asked, “Mother, he’s holding that pen, stroking it here and there, what kind of game is that?”

Huang Rong was concentrating on the battle and just replied, “The Fang Xuan Ling Inscription.”

Guo Fu didn’t understand and asked, “What Fang Xuan Ling Inscription?” Huang Rong was absorbed in the battle and didn’t reply.

The ‘Fan Xuan Ling Inscription’ is a work written by the Tang minister Chu Sui Liang, and it is also a refined calligraphy style. The people before them have judged Chu’s book and likened it to ‘a girl from heaven scattering flowers’; the calligraphy style was firm, graceful and elegant, concentrating on creating beauty, every stroke was airy, completely focusing on this aspect. Zhu Ziliu’s “Solitary Yang Book Finger” uses a pen as the finger; every stance was measured and cautious, like a pen writing a book.

Though Huo Duo did not understand the intricacies of the “Solitary Yang Finger”, at least he had read the ‘Fang Xuan Ling Inscription’ before, he knew that the horizontal stroke will be followed by a vertical stroke, he defended well, and he didn’t show signs of losing. Zhu Ziliu saw that he knew this style of calligraphy; he called out and shouted, “Careful! A cursive calligraphy style is coming.” Suddenly he took off his hat and shot it at him, his sleeve flew across the air, and he dashed forward madly, his stances not following the style. He looked as if he were mad, crazy, drunk, as if a spell was put on him, the pen’s aim raining down, the finger moving like a dragon and snake. Guo Fu was startled and laughed as she asked, “Mother, has he gone mad?”

Huang Rong said, “If he drank three cups of wine then the pen would be even better.” She picked up a wine pot and poured three cups, she called out, “Brother Zhu, drink three cups to further you enjoyment.” The cup was in her left hand, the middle finger of her right hand flicked it, and the wine cup flew steadily across to him.

Zhu Ziliu raised his pen and brushed down, forcing Huo Dou to the side as he caught the cup, drinking it in one go. Huang Rong flicked the second and third cup over in the same way. Huo Dou saw the two of them offering wine in the battle, not even noticing that he was there, he wanted to wave his fan and knock the cups out of the air but Huang Rong followed Zhu Ziliu’s pen’s intent, she flicked out the cups in the gaps. Huo Dou was unable to knock them out of the air. Zhu Ziliu drank the three cups dry and called out, “Thank you. That is very handsome “Divine Flicking Finger” kung fu!”

Huang Rong laughed and said, “Very spirited ‘Zi Yan Tie’!”

Zhu Ziliu gave a laugh and thought, “I have always thought that I am clever, but I am still a level below that girl. I have studied this skill diligently for over ten years; just one look and she saw through it.”

The work that he was using now was Zhang Xu’s ‘Tie Yin Tie’ of the Tang dynasty. Zhang Xu has been given the title of ‘Cao Sheng’, the saint of cursive calligraphy. Du Fu’s poem ‘The Song of the eight drinking Immortals’ says; “Zhang Xu’s three cups passes onto Cao Sheng, the hat is removed showing his head in front of the king, the pen descending on the paper like a fog.”

Huang Rong offered him three cups firstly to acknowledge the class of kung fu he was using, secondly, once the influence of wine increases, the calligraphy will be even better, and lastly she wanted to dampen Huo Dou’s spirits. She then saw Zhu Ziliu write ‘The Bold Man Fights for the Road’, on the ‘road’ word, the pen hooked up and brushed across Huo Dou’s clothes. The heroes all laughed as Huo Dou retreated backwards. End of Chapter 12.
@Chapter 13 – The Chancellor of Wulin
Jinlun Fawang’s eyes sometimes opened and sometimes closed, it was as if he didn’t care about what happened in the battle but in actual fact, he saw everything clearly. When he saw Huo Dou was losing he suddenly called out, “A gu si jin de er, mi ma ha si deng, qi er qi er hu!” The crowd didn’t know what these Tibetan sentences were but Huo Dou knew, his master was reminding him not to defend so tightly, he needs to start using the “Ferocious Wind Rapid Thunder Skill” against the enemy, Huo Dou started to whistle, the fan on the right and his sleeve on the left created a strong gust of wind, rushing forwards to Zhu Ziliu.

The force of the wind was very strong, the crowd who were watching couldn’t help but move backwards slowly, they heard him making thunderbolt like noises with his mouth, they all thought that apart from using weapons, fists and kicks, this “Ferocious Wind Rapid Thunder Skill” also uses the surprising calls of thunder to subdue and control the opponent; it is a very powerful technique. Zhu Ziliu’s sleeve took flight, he carried himself proudly and matched him.

The two of them went back and forth for over a hundred moves, Zhu Ziliu had finished writing the ‘Zi Yan Tie’, the intention of his pen changed, his moves were slow and delayed, the pen strokes were fine and stiff, overflowing with ancient intent.

Huang Rong soliloquized, “There’s an ancient saying: ‘The fine and obstinate direction leads to the soul’, this “Stone Carving of Commending the Wrong Path”, never has there been such a display.”

Huo Dou continued to use the “Ferocious Wind Rapid Thunder Skill” but because the opponent’s strength was strong, the power in his fan increased as did the volume of his shouts and calls. The people who were watching the fight in the main hall cold not stand still; step by step they retreated to the courtyard.

Huang Rong saw Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu were sitting shoulder to shoulder by the pillar, they were only about ten feet away from the battle, deep in conversation, completely ignoring the battle. The wind that Huo Dou generated had completely no effect on them. She saw Xiao Longnu’s belt floating in the wind but Xiao Longnu was unmoved, she just stared lovingly at Yang Guo. The longer that Huang Rong looked, the more curious she became, in the end, she was concentrating on these two more than the battle between Huo Dou and Zhu Ziliu, she thought, “That little girl looks like she possess advanced martial arts, Guo’er and she are so close, I wonder which eminent master is she a disciple of?”

Xiao Longnu was now twenty years old, she had lived in the ancient tomb all her life, avoiding the sunlight, her skin was especially soft and delicate, her internal energy was high, from her appearance, she looked like a sixteen or seventeen year old. Before Xiao Longnu met Yang Guo, experiencing happiness, anger, grief and joy was a rare thing for her. Emotions have the greatest harmful affect on the body and its appearance; and she had spent the last two years like a normal person. If she actually followed her master’s teachings and practiced with a clear mind, not only could she meet her hundredth birthday, but when she reaches that age, her appearances would be the same as a normal fifty year old. Because of this, in Huang Rong’s eyes, Xiao Longnu looked younger than Yang Guo, her childlike and innocent air was even more obvious than Guo Fu, no wonder Huang Rong thought that she was a little girl.

Now, Zhu Ziliu’s pen was becoming unsightly, but its power was becoming stronger, the delivery of the pen was like a spider web, strong yet soft. Huo Dou was secretly alarmed; it was gradually becoming harder for him to grasp his kung fu.

Jinlun Fawang shouted, “Ma mi ba mi, gu si hei si.” No one knew what those eight words meant but the words shook everyone’s ears, leaving a ringing sound in them.

Zhu Ziliu was getting impatient, he thought, “If he changes his technique again, I don’t know when this battle will end. I am fighting in Dali’s name for the Song in this first round, I must not lose. Otherwise shame will be bought onto our nation and school.” He suddenly changed his calligraphy style again, the pen didn’t appear to be writing words, it now resembled a hatchet hacking into rocks.

Guo Fu managed to see what was happening and asked her mother, “Uncle Zhu is carving words?”

Huang Rong smiled and said, “My daughter is not stupid, the finger technique he’s now following is the ‘shi gu’ script. This is the scriptwriting that one uses in the spring and autumn period; it’s the characters that can be seen when one uses a hatchet to carve words on a stone drum. See whether you can recognize the words that Uncle Zhu is writing.”

Guo Fu followed the pen but saw that every word he wrote was windy and twisty, all looking like a small painting, she didn’t know one word. Huang Rong smiled and said, “That’s an ancient style of calligraphy (used in Zhou dynasty c11 to 256BC), no wonder you wouldn’t know any of them; even I can’t recognize all of them.”

Guo Fu clapped and said, “Naturally, it’ll be even harder for that Mongolian idiot to recognize them. Mother, take a look at him, his head is full of sweat and his legs and arms are all over the place.”

Indeed, Huo Dou could only recognize a word or two of this ancient style of calligraphy. Since he doesn’t know what the opponent is writing, of course he will not be able predict where the pen will attack. It was now difficult for him to respond.

Zhu Ziliu kept on producing word after word of this ancient calligraphy, the characters were profound with an ancient air, and the power of the “Solitary Yang Finger” which the calligraphy style uses as a base also increased.

Huo Dou’s fan waved out but he was a bit too slow to take it back, Zhu Ziliu’s pen moved and scripted an ancient character on his fan. Huo Dou took a look and asked uncertainly, “Is that ‘net’?”

Zhu Ziliu laughed and said, “Wrong, that is ‘you’.” He then wrote another character on his fan. Huo Dou said, “Most probably that’s ‘moon’ isn’t it?”

Zhu Ziliu shook his head and said, “Wrong, that’s ‘hence’.”

Huo Dou was discouraged, he shook his fan to shake off the pen tip and stop Zhu Ziliu from writing on his fan but he didn’t predict that Zhu Ziliu would suddenly sent out a left palm to attack. Huo Dou sent out a palm to block this but this allowed Zhu Ziliu in and he wrote another two characters on his fan but because there wasn’t much time, the characters were not written in the ancient calligraphy style but cursive calligraphy. Huo Dou recognized these characters and called out; “Barbarian!”

Zhu Ziliu laughed and said, “Correct, it is ‘You are hence a barbarian’.”

Everyone hated the Mongols for invading their country and killing their citizens, hate and anger was in their hearts; when they heard Zhu Ziliu insulting Huo Dou by saying ‘You are hence a barbarian’, they all cheered and shouted.

Huo Dou could not handle Zhu Ziliu’s “Solitary Yang Book Finger” with the cursive and ancient calligraphy, he was already afraid. When he heard the cheers and calls, he was even more disturbed. He saw Zhu Ziliu’s pen shaking and waving, writing three ancient characters in a row in midair, how could he think about trying to recognize these characters?

He could only force himself to fight on; he raised his fan to try to protect his vital points on his chest when suddenly he felt his knee go numb. His pressure point had been sealed by the opponent’s pen as it turned. Huo Dou’s knee felt numb and wanted to collapse, but he thought if he kneels, he would have no face. He took a deep breath and surged a current of chi towards the pressure point in his knee. He wanted to leap away and admit defeat when Zhu Ziliu’s pen came in like lightning, sealing his pressure point again. Zhu Ziliu used his pen to replace the finger, using the tip of the pen to make use of the “Solitary Yang Finger” technique, continuously attacking. Could Huo Dou defend against this? His knee became numb and he eventually knelt down onto the floor, his face was devoid of colour.

All the heroes cheered with thunderous noise. Guo Jing said to Huang Rong, “Your ingenious plan worked.” Huang Rong gave a slight smile.

The Wu brothers were watching from the side, when they saw the boundless changes of their Martial Uncle Zhu’s “Solitary Yang Finger”, they were both in awe, and were thinking, “Martial Uncle Zhu’s internal energy is profound and strong, embedding itself into calligraphy, there are many ingenious and masterly aspects within it. I don’t know when I will be able to reach such a stage.”

One called out, “Brother!”

The other called, “Little brother!”

The both of them were thinking of the same thing and were about to say something in praise of their Martial Uncle’s martial arts. Suddenly Zhu Ziliu called out, ‘ah’, they quickly turned their heads and saw that he had fallen.

Everyone was shocked at this sudden change of events. After Huo Dou had admitted defeat, Zhu Ziliu had come over to unseal his pressure point. The technique of sealing pressure points using the “Solitary Yang Finger” is completely different than conventional pressure point sealing; it is extremely difficult for others to unseal it so Zhu Ziliu went over to him and tapped his sides a few times, circulating his chi to unseal his pressure point. He couldn’t have known that as soon as Huo Dou’s pressure point was unsealed, there was an opportunity for Huo Dou to take advantage of him. He gave a grunt and before he stood up, he activated a booby trap in his fan; four poison nails flew out from the fan’s spine, all of them hitting Zhu Ziliu in the body.

When skilled fighters duel, when a win or loss is declared, they cannot act again. Never mind that everyone was watching, who could have guessed that that he would suddenly launch an ambush? If Huo Dou had launched his projectiles in the middle of the duel, even though the booby trap was ingenious, he would not have succeeded in harming his opponent. When Zhu Ziliu was unsealing his pressure point, he was only an inch away from him. The weapon was activated close to the body, even if one’s skills were higher, it would have been difficult to avoid this attack. The poison on the nails was produced from the snowy mountains of Western Tibet and is very lethal. As soon as Zhu Ziliu was struck with the nails, his body broke out in unbearable pain; it was difficult for him to stand up properly.

Everyone was shocked and angry, they were all pointing at Huo Dou, insulting and cursing him, saying that he was a brazen scoundrel and despicable.

Huo Dou laughed and said, “The ‘Little Prince’ has turned defeat into victory, what shame is there in that? Before we started, we did not forbid the use of projectiles. If that brother Zhu succeeded in using a projectile against me, I would have admitted defeat.”

Though not everyone agreed with what he said, they did not have a reply to his words, but the insults and curses kept on coming.

Guo Jing dashed over and picked up Zhu Ziliu, he saw the four nails sticking out of his chest, his face looked strange. Guo Jing knew that the poison on the nails was extremely exotic, he quickly sealed three main pressure points to slow down the blood flow, the veins were completely sealed stopping the poison from reaching his heart. He asked Huang Rong, “What should we do?”

Huang Rong frowned without replying, she knew that if she wanted to cure this poison, the antidote must come personally from Jinlun Fawang or Huo Dou. For the time being, she paced back and forth without an idea.

When Diancang Yuyin saw that his apprentice brother was poisoned, he was worried and angry; he tucked in his gown, wanting to dash forward and fight Huo Dou.

Huang Rong was still thinking about the plan, she thought, “The opponent has already won a match, if Brother Fisherman goes, Da’erba will be the one who will be sent out to meet him, and we won’t have a way to win.” She quickly said, “Brother, please wait!”

Diancang Yuyin asked, “What for?”

Though Huang Rong was wise and clever, she couldn’t give a reply, they had already lost the first match, and there will be some difficulty in the last two matches.

Huo Dou used a trick to beat Zhu Ziliu and he stood at the front of the hall pleased with himself, he took a look all around and felt that he was on top of the world. In the corner of his eye he saw Xiao Longnu and Yang Guo sitting shoulder to shoulder on a stone base, holding each other hands, engaged in conversation. They completely ignored his victory as if nothing had happened; he couldn’t stop himself from getting angry and pointed his fan at Yang Guo, shouting out, “Bastard; get up!”

All of Yang Guo’s attention was on Xiao Longnu, though the world is a big place, there was nothing that would distract him. Because of this, the heated battle between Huo Dou and Zhu Ziliu was nothing to him; he didn’t see or hear it.

In the years he lived with Xiao Longnu in the tomb, he didn’t know that he had etched Xiao Longnu deep into his heart and soul, in life or death. That day when Xiao Longnu said she wanted to be his wife, it was such a sudden event, he had never thought about this before and, startled, he could not think of a reply. After Xiao Longnu had disappeared, he repeated in his heart hundreds of times, “I want her, I want her. Even if I die immediately, I want Gu Gu to be my wife.”

The love between he and Xiao Longnu bloomed unconsciously, after they departed, the love kept on flourishing without stop. Yang Guo wasn’t afraid of anything, Xiao Longnu was blind to the world and its ways, they just knew that if they desired to love, they loved, if they desired happiness, then they’d get happiness, what had it to do with other people? One didn’t care and the other didn’t understand, in the midst of a thousand people in the middle of a heated battle, the two of them were holding hands talking to each other, wrapped in love.

When Huo Dou cursed him, Yang Guo was still oblivious of him. Huo Dou wanted to curse him further when Jinlun Fawang ordered, “Our side has won the first round, and we can now proceed onto the second round.”

Huo Dou glanced at Yang Guo with hate and then returned to his table and said clearly, “We have won the first round, my apprentice brother Da’erba will fight in the second round, which hero from the other side will come out to meet him?”

Da’erba took out a weapon from his Buddhist robe and went to the middle of the hall. When everyone saw his weapon, they were all shocked; it was a long coarse golden rod. The “Golden Demon Subduing Rod” was around four feet long, the ends of the rod were thick and rough, and the body of the rod glittered with a golden light. It appeared that the weapon was made out of pure gold; it was a lot heavier than an identical rod made out of steel.

He went to the middle of the hall and bowed to the heroes, and then threw his metal rod up in the air. The golden rod fell down and with a crash sound; two of the large jade flower bowls on the floor were smashed. The rod buried itself one foot into the floor. This was meant as a warning; he was a shriveled and skinny monk but he had the ability to use such a weapon, indicating the level of martial arts he had.

Huang Rong thought, “Brother Jing can subdue this rude monk but Fawang will fight in the third round, then our side will have no one to fight him, the match will be over. This is unspeakable; I’ll go and force myself to fight using masterly kung fu to battle him.” She raised the Dog Beating Stick and said, “I’ll go!”

Guo Jing was extremely shocked and quickly said, “You can’t…you can’t. Your body is not well, how can you fight?”

Huang Rong felt that there was no other way to achieve victory, if they lost this round then there will be no need for the third round. Just as she was hesitating, Diancang Yuyin called out, “Chief Huang, allow me to fight that evil monk.” When he saw the condition that his apprentice brother was in after contracting the poison, his heart was burning and he wanted to take revenge. Huang Rong had no other good ideas, she thought, “We can only struggle on, if he beats the monk, brother Jing will fight Jinlun Fawang to settle this.” So she said, “Please be careful apprentice brother.”

The Wu brothers took the pair of metal oars that their Marshal Uncle used to him. Diancang Yuyin held them under his arms and went to the middle of the hall. His eyes were red with fury as he circled Da’erba. Da’erba didn’t know what it was about, when he saw him walking around him, he turned with to him. Diancang Yuyin suddenly called out, his oars waved out as he hacked down towards his head. Da’erba’s movements were extremely fast; he quickly picked up his Golden Subduing Rod and raised it up in response. The rod and oars met, the clashing sound rang in everyone’s ears. Both of them felt a slight pain and both knew their opponent’s power was strong, and then they both leapt backwards. Da’erba said a sentence in Tibetan while Diancang Yuyin insulted him in a Dali dialect. Though the two didn’t understand the other, they suddenly came close to each other again, the oars and rod came out at the same time, another clashing sound of gold and metal colliding was heard.

This battle was completely different to the graceful and civil fight between Huo Dou and Zhu Ziliu. The two of them fought like copper versus iron, brute force against brute force, the two of them fought with advanced external hard kung fu. The oars and rod created gusts of wind; the onlookers were shocked and astonished.

Diancang Yuyin’s natural strength was already high; when he was serving Reverend Yideng he lived in secret in Xiangxi, he used his irons oars to row upstream against the current everyday, his arms became like steel. He is the first disciple of Reverend Yideng and was under his teaching for the longest time. Because he was simple and crass, Reverend Yideng had always treated him with care and love. His natural ability was lacking, his internal energy couldn’t compare with Zhu Ziliu’s. However, his external hard skills were extremely powerful. Right now, the two were competing with their external hard skills, his strong point; his oars flew up and down as he attacked. Each metal oar was about fifty kilos (110+lbs) but he lifted them up as if they were light, he was as fluid as normal people with sabers or swords that weighed a few kilos.

Da’erba has always thought shi natural strength was unbeatable; he couldn’t have guessed that he would meet a man with such divine strength in the central plains. Not only was the opponent’s strength high, his stances were also profound, he needed all his efforts to use his golden rod. The rod attacked the oars, the oars attacked the rod; the two of them attacking more than defending.

When Zhu Ziliu and Huo Dou were fighting, the people who were watching were forced backwards because of the great gusts of the winds they generated. Now, three extremely heavy weapons were clashing; along with resisting the wind generated by the weapons, the loud noises created by the clashing of the weapons was also extremely hard to endure. Most of them covered their ears as they watched.

Under the candlelight, the golden rod glittered, the two steel oars were like two streaks of black, the weapons swirled and tangled with each other; the fight was becoming more and more spectacular.

The crowd had never seen such a battle in their lives. Of course there had been even more dangerous and perilous situations, but when skilled fighters compete with internal energy one with another; the effects are on the inside. From the outside, it looks very ordinary. When it came to the stances and the countering techniques of weapons and fists, it had ingenious and refined aspects but it couldn’t compare with the ferocious aspects of the stances. It is extremely rare to see someone with Diancang Yuyin’s kind of divine strength, but it is even rarer to see two people with the same kind of divine strength engaged in such a heated battle as this one. Guo Jing and Huang Rong watched with sweating palms. Guo Jing said, “Rong’er, do you think our side will win?” Huang Rong said, “I can’t make it out right now.”

In reality, how would Guo Jing not know what was happening in the battle, but he hoped that his wife would say ‘Yuyin can win’ so his heart could be comforted.

Tens of moves passed but their energy didn’t decrease; instead it became even more vigorous. Diancang Yuyin called out as he attacked with his oars to increase his clout.

Da’erba asked, “What did you say?” He spoke in Tibetan, how would Diancang Yuyin understand? He too called out, “What did you say?” Da’erba didn’t understand either.

The two of them assumed that they were insulting each other, they fought fiercely, the chairs and tables in the hall flew up. The crowd was worried that the one of them would lose concentration and hit one of the pillars in the hall, causing the hall to collapse.

Jinlun Fawang and Huo Duo were both secretly alarmed, if this battle continued on for much longer, even if Da’erba gains victory, he will be severely injured. But how could the fight stop with the two battling so heatedly?

The two of them leapt and jumped around, calling out as they fought violently, the yellow glow and dark trail forced the candlelight to darken; suddenly, a ferocious heaven shattering noise was heard, the two of them called out and leapt away at the same time.

When the oar in Yuyin’s right hand collided with the golden rod, the two of them were using all their strength, the handle of the oar was narrow and not as firm as the golden rod, hence, the oar snapped in half. The blade part flew away and a ‘dang’ sound was heard as it dropped in front of Xiao Longnu.

Xiao Longnu was completely absorbed in conversation with Yang Guo, she was unaware and the oar blade part struck her on the toes of the left foot. She gave out a cry of ‘ai ya’ and leapt up. When she called out in pain, Yang Guo was alarmed and quickly asked, “Are you hurt?” Xiao Longnu rubbed her toes, the wincing at the pain that could be seen on her face.

Yang Guo was furious; he turned around to look for the person who used the metal slab to hurt his Gu Gu. He saw Diancang Yuyin holding the handle of the broken oar in his right hand and was disagreeing with Da’erba; he wanted to use his single oar to fight him. Da’erba shook his head; he knew that the enemy’s strength and stamina compared to his was six of one and half a dozen to the other. If they continued, it would be difficult to get a result, since now he has the advantage in weaponry; the winner of this round is himself.

Huo Dou stood up tall and said clearly, “We have won two rounds out of the three; the position of the Chancellor belongs to my master, everyone…”

Before he finished, Yang Guo said to Yuyin, “How did your steel oar break, how did it fly over and hit my Gu Gu?” Yuyin said, “I… I…”

Yang Guo said, “Your steel oar is poorly made, quickly go and apologize to my Gu Gu.” Diancang Yuyin saw that he was a little boy and didn’t pay him any attention. Yang Guo suddenly stretched out his arm and snatched the broken handle out of his hand and called out, “Quickly go and say sorry to my Gu Gu.”

Huo Dou was interrupted by him and was furious, he shouted, “Little bastard! Get out of the way!” Yang Guo called out, “Little bastard is insulting who?”

When Huo Dou heard him say ‘Little bastard is insulting who” he replied without much thought, “Little bastard is insulting you!” How would he know that boys from the south had always talked in this manner to argue, he wasn’t concentrating and fell into the trap.

Yang Guo laughed out loud and said, “Correct, it is a little bastard who’s insulting me!”

Everyone in the main hall was very worried and anxious, but after hearing this young man’s sudden comment, everyone broke out in laughter. Huo Dou was furious; he took out his folded fan and attacked Yang Guo’s head.

Everyone had just seen Huo Dou in action and knew that his martial arts were terrific, if the fan lands on Yang Guo’s head, if he didn’t die, he would be severely injured, they all called out, “Hold it!” “You can’t bully someone younger.”

Guo Jing darted out and was about to snatch the fan away when Yang Guo ducked down and darted underneath Huo Dou’s arm. The handle of the oar swirled round; Yang Guo used the “Dog Beating Stick Technique’s” ‘coil’ formulae and tripped up Huo Dou’s legs. Huo Dou could not stand up properly; he stumbled and almost fell onto the floor. Huo Dou was highly skilled, he changed the stumbling force into a leaping force, he leapt into the air and came down steady.

Guo Jing was startled, he asked, “Guo’er, what’s the matter?”

Yang Guo laughed and said, “Nothing. He doesn’t respect Hong Qigong’s “Dog Beating Stick Technique”. I wanted to use the “Dog Beating Stick Technique” to trip him up; it’s a pity that he managed to jump away.”

Guo Jing was surprised and asked, “How do you know this technique?” Yang Guo lied and said, “Just now when Chief Lu fought him; I learned a few stances after watching him.”

Guo Jing knew that he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the box, he knew that there are a lot of people who were cleverer than him, and he believed what Yang Guo said without any doubts.

Huo Dou assumed that it was his fault for being careless and this allowed Yang Guo to make him stumble; how would he know that a teenager like Yang Guo would possess such great martial arts? The most serious matter now is fighting for the position of the Chancellor of Wulin, it won’t be too late if he first completes the serious task and then punishes the punk. So he took a large step towards Guo Jing and said, “Hero Guo, it is we who are the victors in today’s duel, my master Jinlun Fawang is the Chancellor of Wulin. If there is anyone who doesn’t agree with this…”

Before he finished, Yang Guo sneaked up behind him, he sent the oar handle forward and used the “Dog Beating Stick Technique’s” fourth stance of the ‘poke’ formulae, suddenly poking Huo Dou’s backside. With Huo Dou’s abilities, how would he not know when someone was sneaking up behind to ambush him? However, the “Dog Beating Stick Technique” is extremely ingenious and masterly; though he realized what was happening, his sudden dodge was not perfect and there was still a chance to hit him. A ‘pu’ sound was heard as he was hit in the backside. Even though his internal energy was profound, the buttocks are an area of the body with a lot of flesh, the attack was very painful, and was coupled with the shock of getting hit. He thought that he would definitely avoid this attack but the attack managed to get him, and he couldn’t stop himself from giving out a ‘ah’ call.

Yang Guo shouted, “What was that? I don’t agree to this!”

In a flash the hall was filled with laughter. The heroes all thought not only is this teenager naughty, he was extremely bold, the Mongolian Prince was twice undone by him.

Now that it has reached this point, how could Huo Dou not be angry? He turned his hand and wanted to smack him across the face to vent his anger before doing anything else. This was a casual palm but the force behind the palm is derived from the main theories from the school of Tibet. This palm was meant to knock the young man unconscious.

Guo Jing knew that this palm was powerful, he stretched out his left arm and hooked it up, grabbing Huo Dou’s palm. Guo Jing said, “How can you mess around with a little kid?”

When Huo Dou’s arm was grabbed, he felt half his body going numb, he couldn’t stop his shock and anger from rising.

Yang Guo took the opportunity and swept the oar handle across, striking him heavily across the backside, he called out, “Disobedient bastard, father’s going to spank you!”

Guo Jing shouted, “Guo’er, get back, don’t make trouble.” But the crowd all laughed.

The Mongolian warriors on the other side were all calling out, “Two versus one?” “You don’t want face!” “Does that count as dueling?”

Guo Jing was startled, and released Huo Dou’s hand.

Huang Rong saw Yang Guo’s trip and poke that he just used were definitely the stances of the “Dog Beating Stick Technique”; she was very suspicious. “Where did he steal this technique from? Could it be that in the past few months that I’ve been teaching Lu Youjiao, he has been spying on us? But each time I start teaching, I’ve searched around, how could he hide from me?” She called out, “Brother Jing, come back.”

Guo Jing returned to this wife’s side but he was worried that Yang Guo would suffer, his eyes did not leave the two people in the middle of the hall. He saw Huo Dou sending out palms and kicks, attacking Yang Guo.

Yang Guo was dodging and calling out at the same time, “I’m going to spank you, spank you!” The oar handle kept on attacking Huo Duo’s backside, but Huo Dou’s movements were quick, each hit met thin air. Huo Dou wanted to use his folded fan to hit Yang Guo on his head, but Yang Guo kept on using the oar handle to hit his backside. The two were chasing and rushing around; the two of them circled the hall very rapidly but neither of them could hit each other. At first, the onlookers just felt something weird was going on, but when they saw the two of them circling around the hall, they were extremely shocked. Though Yang Guo is of a young age, his footsteps were light and his movements were swift and nimble, there was no difference between him and Huo Dou. Huo Dou attacked him a few times but each time, Yang Guo managed to escape cleverly.

Diancang Yuyin and Da’erba were originally arguing about their weapons and staring angrily at each other. One would want to dash forward and fight again; the other was completely prepared in case the opponent suddenly attacked. When they saw that Huo Dou couldn’t handle such a young man, they both were extremely surprised; one of them opened his mouth and laughed loudly, the other shouted out insults in Tibetan.

In the blink of an eye, Huo Dou and Yang Guo had circled around the hall three times; Huo Dou could see that his opponent’s lightness kung fu was terrific, if he continued to follow and chase him like this, he might lose. He suddenly turned around, his left palm came out in front of him to grab the oar handle, the fan in his right hand came out to seal the ‘Looping Jump’ pressure point of the side of his leg.

However Yang Guo did not want to meet him face on, he swerved his body around the fan and kept on hitting out with the oar handle, calling out, “Father wants to spank you! A day doesn’t go past without three spanks, I have spanked you twice, there’s one more!” To use such a method to ridicule your opponent in battle without danger, your kung fu must be a lot better than the opponent’s in all areas. Although Yang Guo had learned many advanced martial arts, his kung fu still could not compare with Huo Dou’s; acting like this would definitely result in trouble. However, the crowd was watching with passion, they all cheered, called out, and they applauded to urge him on.

When Huo Dou heard this, his mind was disturbed; if his backside is struck once more by this child in front of these people, even if he killed this boy, he still will have lost a lot of face. Because of this he concentrated on dodging and evading and forgot about attacking; Yang Guo was able to avoid danger for now.

By now, Huang Rong could tell that an eminent master had instructed Yang Guo, his kung fu really was terrific. She also remembered the day when he passed on his internal energy to her to help her recuperate; the internal energy he had developed was not ordinary. She thought that by allowing him to stir up trouble for a while, attention had actually been drawn away from the two defeats, so she called out, “Guo’er, go and fight him, I don’t think he’s your match.”

Yang Guo stuck his tongue out at Huo Dou and said, “Do you dare?” He stood still and pointed to his nose.

Although Huo Dou was furious, he couldn’t allow a little thing like this get in the way of the mission. Their side had now won two rounds; they have taken the position of Chancellor of Wulin. Why should he get involved with a little kid? He said, “Little bastard, I’ll take my time in teaching you a lesson. Right now, the Chancellor of Wulin Jinlun Fawang will say a few words, everyone listen to his orders.”

All the heroes made a hue and cry, disagreeing, clamoring and shouting.

Huo Dou said loudly, “We agreed before hand, two wins out of three. Doesn’t your word count?”

All these heroes are famous people of the Jianghu world, they all knew what his words meant, he wanted them to go back on their words, this would never happen; but they had lost the last two rounds in a unjust way. The first round they lost due to an ambush, in the second, only the weapon was broken, they haven’t really lost that round yet, and it was difficult for them to accept that justice was done. When Huo Dou asked them this question, they didn’t have a reply.

Yang Guo said, “Look at that old monk, look how tall and skinny he is, he looks weird, how can he be the Chancellor of Wulin? I don’t think he’s worthy.”

Huo Dou angrily said, “Who’s the Master of this child? Take a control of him. If he continues to cause trouble, I won’t hold back.” Yang Guo said, “My Master is worthy to take the position of the Chancellor of Wulin, what skill does your master have?”

Huo Dou said, “Who is your Master? Please invite them out.” He saw Yang Guo’s martial arts weren’t ordinary; he assumed that his master must be a skilled fighter so he used the word ‘please’ in his sentence.”

Yang Guo said, “Today, the disciples are representing their masters to fight for the position of Chancellor of Wulin, isn’t that it?” Huo Dou said, “Correct, our side has won two of the three rounds, because of this, my Master is the Chancellor of Wulin.”

Yang Guo said, “Fine, even if you beat them all, so what? You won’t be able to beat my Master’s disciple.” Huo Dou asked, “Who is you Master’s disciple?”

Yang Guo laughed and said, “Donkey! My Master’s disciple is of course me.” The crowd listened to his words with amusement and broke out in laughter. Yang Guo said, “We’ll compete for another three rounds, if you can win two rounds out of the three, I’ll recognize that monk as the Chancellor of Wulin. If I win two rounds, then sorry, the position of the Chancellor of Wulin goes to my Master.”

When the crowd heard him say this, they all thought, “Could it be that this boy’s master is some eminent master, and has come here to challenge the position of Chancellor of Wulin with Hong Qigong and Jinlun Fawang? They didn’t care who the master of this boy was; at least they are Han. The young man cannot beat Huo Dou; however victory to the Mongols will allow them to take the position of Chancellor. Our side has already been defeated, a new complication might bring about a reversal of fortunes so they all said, “Correct, I agree, only if you Mongols gain another two victories.” “That young brother is correct.” “The central plains have many great fighters, you were lucky in gaining those two rounds. Who cares about that?”

Huo Dou pondered, “The opponent’s two strongest fighters have already lost, what’s there to be afraid of in fighting two more rounds? I’m only afraid that after two comes another two.” He said to Yang Guo, “Your Master has a right to challenge for the position of the Chancellor of Wulin, however, there are thousands and thousands of heroes in this world, after one round comes another, when will it stop?”

Yang Guo raised his head and said, “My Master doesn’t care about who takes the place of the Chancellor of Wulin, but when she saw your Master, her anger flared up.”

Huo Dou said, “Who is your Master? Where is Senior?”

Yang Guo laughed and said, “Senior is in front of your eyes. Hey, Gu Gu, he asks how Senior is.” Xiao Longnu gave an ‘en’ sound and nodded to Huo Dou. Everyone was startled at first but then burst out in laughter. They saw that Xiao Longnu was beautiful, she was younger than Yang Guo; how could she be his master? The young man must be joking, trying to make a fool out of Huo Dou. Only Hao Datong, Sun Bu’Er, Zhao Zhijing and Yin Zhiping knew that he was telling the truth.

Though Huang Rong was intelligent and wise, she could not believe such a pretty, delicate, young girl could be his master.

Huo Duo was furious, he shouted, “Little bastard is talking crap! There are many important matters to be resolved today at this heroes gathering, how can I allow you to make trouble here? Crawl away.”

Yang Guo said, “Your Master is ugly and dark, his words are gibberish, it is extremely hard on the ears. Look at how beautiful my master is, graceful and elegant; if she is the Chancellor of Wulin, won’t that be a lot better than your ugly monk Master?” When Xiao Longnu heard Yang Guo praising her beauty, she was delighted, she revealed a smile, it really was like a flower blooming, a halo of beautiful jade, unparalleled elegance.

The crowd saw that Yang Guo was becoming more and more daring in his attempt to make a fool of his opponent, they felt great delight; a few experienced people were secretly worried that Huo Dou would take his life.

Indeed, Huo Dou could no longer take it and called out, “All the world’s heroes, please can I have your attention; when the young Prince kills this little punk, he will only have himself to blame, it is not my fault.” His folded fan moved, he was about to attack Yang Guo’s head.

Yang Guo impersonated his voice and stuck out his chest, he called out, “All the world’s heroes, please can I have your attention, when the little punk kills this Prince, he will only have himself to blame, it is not the fault of the little punk!” In the midst of the laughter, he suddenly swept the oar handle towards Huo Dou’s backside.

Huo Dou moved out of the way and sent his fan out along with a lightning left palm, straight towards his head. The fan was a decoy, the palm was not; all his strength was behind that palm, his intention was to split open Yang Guo’s head in one stroke. Yang Guo slanted his body and moved away, along the way, he pushed out a table towards him, a ‘ge’ sound was heard as Huo Dou’s palm landed on the table; splinters flew everywhere as the table was split in half.

The onlookers gulped as they saw Huo Dou’s frightening strength.

Huo Dou kicked the table out of the way and immediately afterward followed it up with another attack. Yang Guo saw that his palm was ruthless and didn’t dare to take it easy anymore; he used the “Dog Beating Stick Technique” with the oar handle to fight him. Hong Qigong personally taught him the stances of the “Dog Beating Stick Technique” that day on the peak of Mount Hua. He had performed the technique’s most ingenious and masterly aspects for Ouyang Feng; he had now also heard the formulae and changes of the technique from Huang Rong when she was teaching Lu Youjiao. When the two aspects were combined, he was able to use the technique properly. But the oar handle was too heavy and too short, it wasn’t very convenient, after another ten moves, the oar handle was trapped to one side by Huo Dou’s fan.

Huang Rong saw that he really was using the “Dog Beating Stick Technique”, though the stances weren’t smooth and not fully utilized. When he used it, the techniques he used looked proper and like the real thing, she knew that his weapon wasn’t convenient for him so she went into the middle of the hall and stuck the stick in between the two and said, “Guo’er, to beat dogs you need the Dog Beating Stick. You can borrow Chief Lu’s Dog Beating Stick. After you’ve finished beating the evil dog, return the stick.”

The Dog Beating Stick is the property of the Beggar Clan’s Chief; it had to be clear that it was being borrowed.

Yang Guo was delighted and received the stick. Huang Rong whispered into his ear, “Force him to give up the antidote.” As soon as she said this she returned to her place.

Yang Guo had not paid any attention to Zhu Ziliu falling victim to a concealed weapon; he didn’t know what antidote she was talking about and was slightly startled; Huo Dou’s palm chopped down. Yang Guo raised the Dog Beating Stick and pointed towards Huo Dou’s belly. The bamboo stick was strong and sturdy, the length and weight was perfect; using the Dog Beating Stick to perform the “Dog Beating Stick Technique” can only result in an increase of power. Huo Dou had sent out a palm that was chopping across his neck when he saw the bamboo stick come out, it was aiming for the ‘Sealed First’ pressure point three inches below his navel. This was an important pressure point to the movement of the veins; this little punk’s ability in recognizing pressure points was so precise that Huo Dou couldn’t help being shocked.

As he had tangled with Yang Guo, he thought that Yang Guo was just a nimble young man who had been advised by a great master; after he saw this stance of piercing towards his pressure point, he began to treat him as a an opponent who could match him. He didn’t dare to take it easy; he returned his palm and used his fan to protect his chest. The onlookers saw that he had changed his stance into defense showing that he was worried about Yang Guo, they were even more surprised.

Yang Guo said, “Wait, this little punk does not fight for no reason, there has to be a wager.”

Huo Dou said, “Fine, if you lose, kowtow to me three times and call me Grandfather three times.”

Yang Guo again used a trick that children from Jiang Nan used to take advantage of others, he pretended he didn’t hear and asked, “Call what?”

Using this trick makes it very easy for the other person to fall into the trap. Huo Duo had grown up in Mongolia and Tibet and had always been surrounded by honest people, how would he understand the craftiness of Jiang Nan kids, so he casually replied, “Call grandfather!”

Yang Guo responded, “En, good Grandson; say it one more time.”

The crowd broke out into laughter again and Huo Dou knew that he had again fallen for a trick; he clenched his teeth, with the fan in his right hand and his left palm, he attacked like a violent storm.

Yang Guo used all his strength to repel him and said, “If you lose, you need to give the antidote to me.” Huo Dou angrily said, “I’ll lose to you? Stop daydreaming bastard!”

Yang Guo raised the bamboo stick and shouted, “Little bastard is scolding who?”

Huo Dou said, “Little bastard is scolding…” As he got up to this part, he suddenly became aware; at least he managed to rein back the horse from the cliff, the last word ‘you’ was held back.

Yang Guo laughed and said, “Little Prince, I’ve taught you a few things, remember it.” Though his words were said easily, it was becoming more and more difficult for his hands to cope.

Huo Dou is Jinlun Fawang’s proudest disciple, he had received the important aspects of the Tibetan school, and he was able to exchange almost a thousand stances with Reverend Yideng’s strongest disciple. His internal energy was profound; he and Yang Guo should not be mentioned in the same breath.

At first, Yang Guo was able to get an advantage by making him angry; Huo Dou had not fought with his full strength, now he really was fighting. After twenty moves or so, the comparison between he and Yang Guo was clear; Yang Guo was definitely inferior. The crowd saw that he was of a young age yet he managed to last so long against Huo Dou, they all praised him and said, “This child is amazing.” They all asked each other whose tutelage is this young man under.

Huo Dou saw that his opponent was weaker than him and sent out stronger and stronger palms. The “Dog Beating Stick Technique” that Yang Guo was using is ingenious and inspired, Huo Dou’s fan and palm techniques could not match it; but all Hong Qigong taught him was the stances, he had heard the formulae and principles from Huang Rong. He was clever and managed to force himself to combine the two and use it, but it was impossible for him to understand and comprehend everything immediately, so of course the power of the technique cannot be fully utilized. After a while, Yang Guo was dodging and flashing around, but it was difficult for him to attack.

Ever since the first fight started, Guo Fu and the Wu brothers had been watching intently, quietly talking to each other. When Yang Guo came out and started to fight, they were shocked and surprised. The Wu brothers said that he was rash and impudent, he’s just asking for trouble, Guo Fu was on the opposite side, she praised Yang Guo, saying that he was daring and ardent. When the Wu brothers heard this, their hearts ached with an uncomfortable feeling. When the two brothers first saw the closeness between Xiao Longnu and Yang Guo when she first arrived, the two of them glanced at each other and were able to relax. When they heard Yang Guo say that she was his master, though they didn’t know whether this was true or not, their hearts sank. Now, they saw that Yang Guo was forced onto his back foot (as sign that he is losing) by Huo Dou, the two brothers knew that they shouldn’t wish that the enemy would win, but deep in their hearts, they hoped that the more he suffers the better. Because of the trouble in their hearts, the two experienced many different emotions in the blink of eye.

Guo Fu didn’t have any good feelings towards Yang Guo but she didn’t loathe him either; she just treated him as a down on his luck, incapable person. He was insignificant, but when she heard her father wanted to betroth her to him, she was angry. But she still thought that this would never happen so she didn’t take it to mind. Later on, she saw that his martial arts were anything but ordinary, she was just surprised and nothing more; yet when she saw that he was in danger, she couldn’t stop herself from worrying about him.

Yang Guo knew that if this continued, within ten moves he would succumb to his opponent. He had glanced over and saw that although Xiao Longnu was still sitting on the stone base, her back was no longer leaning against the pillar. She was paying close attention, at any moment she would leap out and help him. He had an idea; he suddenly waved the stick and flew across, leaping over Xiao Longnu’s legs.

Huo Dou shouted, “Where are you going?” He followed after him.

Xiao Longnu’s legs raised slightly, the tip of her left foot aimed towards Huo Dou’s ‘Descendant’s Arrangement’ pressure point on his right ankle, the tip of her right foot kicked towards his left foot’s ‘Surging Spring’ pressure point.

At least Huo Duo’s skills were profound and refined, he saw what was happening, there was a nimble change, Xiao Longnu’s legs had risen a little, and the bystanders didn’t think anything of it. He himself knew that Xiao Longnu had used a lethal attack, in the midst of this he used a stance of “The Mandarin Duck’s Looping Kick”; his legs kicked thin air in a loop and avoided the motionless pressure point kick by Xiao Longnu.

When Yang Guo went by Xiao Longnu’s legs, he knew what was going to happen; he didn’t wait for his opponent to fall to the ground and attacked with his Dog Beating Stick.

Huo Dou stretched out his fan and supported it against the stick and used the force to move faraway from Xiao Longnu. He couldn’t stop himself from glancing over at her, thinking, “Indeed there are many able people in the central plains, that boy and girl are still in their teens, how come they are so good?”

With the advantage of an extra stance, Yang Guo kept on attacking with the stick technique, he used three critical stances in a row, and Huo Dou was scrambling about, using all his strength to repel the attack. However, Yang Guo did not have an ingenious fourth attack to continue the chain, he slowed down momentarily and allowed Huo Dou to counterattack, and was on the receiving end again.

The onlookers did not understand the stick technique and it went by them, Huang Rong however kept on calling out “What a pity” in secret, she couldn’t hold in her thoughts and said, “The stick returns across the ground under the clever hand, striking the twin dogs without return.” This was one of the formulae of the “Dog Beating Stick Technique”, though Yang Guo knew the stances and formulae, he didn’t know when to use them; when he heard Huang Rong recite this, he immediately brushed the stick across the ground and attacked forward without returning.

The direction and force of this stick was weird, though he used it, he didn’t know what use it had. How could it be that as soon as the stick attacked forward, it happened just at the same time as the opponent raised his fan? Huo Dou had not finished using this stance but knew something was wrong, he hurriedly jumped up and moved away.

Huang Rong continued, “When the dog leaps over the wall how can it be beaten? Quickly hit its backside and chop its tail.” This stick technique had been passed from generation to generation in the Beggar Clan. Beggars aren’t the most elegant and cultured, the words of course would be vulgar.

The bystanders thought that Huang Rong was ridiculing him by calling him a dog; they didn’t know that she was giving martial arts advice to Yang Guo. Though the “Dog Beating Stick Technique” wasn’t taught to anyone other than the chief; but firstly, Yang Guo had already learned it, and secondly, this match was extremely important, victory was needed. Huang Rong couldn’t care about the clan’s rules anymore, when she saw the two of them advancing and retreating, attacking and defending, she kept on calling out pieces of advice.

Every phrase she called out was ingenious and what was needed, and along with Yang Guo’s intelligence, he was able to unleash the stances power. After he gained the upper hand many times, he didn’t wait for Huang Rong to finish the line before he continued, he just needed the first few words and was immediately able to use right technique. The power of the “Dog Beating Stick Technique” was indeed strong, even with Huo Dou’s level of martial arts, a bamboo stick was able to run circles around him, and he had no chance to attack. Everyone saw that after a few more moves, the skilled Prince of the other nation would lose. The heroes’ surprise and delight rose. The hall was filled with cheers.

Huo Dou quickly unleashed two stances with his fan forcing Yang Guo away a few steps and then called out, “Hold it!” Yang Guo laughed and said, “What? My Grandson admits defeat?”

Huo Dou’s face was angry and said firmly; “You said you are challenging for the position of Chancellor for your master, why are you using the martial arts of Hong Qigong? If you say you are representing Hong Qigong, we’ve just had two rounds. Are you people trying to cause confusion, deny it or not?”

Huang Rong didn’t think wrongly, these words were difficult to refute, she was about to argue with him when Yang Guo interrupted, “This time you are speaking like a person, indeed this stick technique is not my Master’s, even if I beat you, you won’t take it. If you want to test out my skills, it’s not hard. Just know I used another sect’s kung fu because I was afraid that when I unleash my own sect’s kung fu, you’d lose even more tragically.” When he heard Huo Dou’s words, he looked over towards Xiao Longnu and realized something, “Luckily that Prince woke me up. If I use the “Dog Beating Stick Technique” to beat him, how will I be able to show off Gu Gu’s abilities? How could Gu Gu not be offended if I’ve forgotten her great kindness in teaching me martial arts?” In reality, Xiao Longnu was really innocent and naïve, her heart was filled with love and passion for Yang Guo. As long as she could see him, she was fulfilled; she didn’t care about anything else. If he wins that’s great, if he loses there’s no harm, it doesn’t matter. And when it comes to whether he uses their sect’s kung fu or not, or whether he’d listen to Huang Rong’s advice, she didn’t take any of that to heart.

Huo Dou thought, “If you don’t use the “Dog Beating Stick Technique”, how hard will it be to take your life?” So he chuckled and said, “Fine, I’ll experience your Master’s great stances.”

The most refined techniques that Yang Guo had learned under Xiao Longnu were swordplay, so he faced the crowd and said, “Please can I borrow one of you Senior’s sword.” Within the two thousand or so people in the hall, three hundred of them carried a sword, when they heard Yang Guo’s request, they all agreed and offered their swords.

Before Hao Datong and Sun Bu’Er entered the tutelage of Wang Chongyang, they were patriotic people; after they were nurtured by Wang Chongyang; their desire to repel the barbarian invaders was even stronger.

They were of course angry with Yang Guo, who expelled himself from the Quanzhen sect, but now when they saw that he was helping China to fend off the enemy, they flung their sect’s feud with him to one side.

Sun Bu’Er was the weakest of the Quanzhen Seven Masters, before Wang Chongyang died, he gave her Quanzhen’s sharpest and most precious sword to help compensate for her weak kung fu. She saw that Yang Guo was requesting a sword to fight off the enemy so she dashed forward to the front, her hands holding a glittering, precious sword and said, “Use this sword!”

Yang Guo saw that the sword was like a clear autumn river, he knew that it was a weapon which could cut through gold and jade, if he used it to fight Huo Dou, he would definitely be able to gain some advantage. But as soon as he saw the Taoist gown that Sun Bu’Er was wearing, he immediately thought about the suffering that he had in Quanzhen, and also remembered how Grandma Sun died under the palm of Hao Datong. He rolled his eyes and didn’t take the sword, he instead turned around and borrowed a dark and rusted iron sword from a Beggar Clan member and said, “I’ll borrow this brother’s sword.” He left Sun Bu’Er standing there like a corpse; she couldn’t advance forward or go back. Though she practiced Taoism, it is hard to cleanse the fiery nature of martial artist; this young man dared to throw back her good intentions of lending her sword, she couldn’t stop herself from getting angry. She wanted to scold and curse him but the enemy was here, it wasn’t convenient to start another argument, she forced herself to endure her anger and returned to the crowd.

Yang Guo’s character was too determined and stubborn, he loved and hated in the extreme; originally he would have taken this opportunity to repair some of the damage between him and Quanzhen, but his reaction deepened the hatred between the two sides.

When Huo Dou saw that Yang Guo didn’t take the precious sword but chose a rusty iron sword instead, he was worried. When one reaches an extremely high level in martial arts, flowers and leaves can be used to harm people, not needing the sharpness of weaponry. He pondered about the opponent taking such a blunt sword, was he really that strong? He opened his fan and fluttered it twice; he was about to open his mouth to signal the start of the battle.

Yang Guo’s sword pointed to the four words written by Zhu Ziliu on his fan, he laughed and said, “You are hence a barbarian, everyone knows that, there’s no need to spread it everywhere.”

Huo Dou’s face went red, a ‘pai’ sound was heard as the fan close and became a short stick, he pointed the fan towards Yang Guo’s ‘Shoulder Well’ pressure point, his left palm came chopping out with the force of a strong wind, ruthless and swift. Yang Guo’s iron sword moved as he used the “Jade Maiden Sword Technique” in response.

Years ago when Lin Chaoying studied bitterly in the stone tomb, she didn’t leave the tomb again after she developed the “Jade Heart Manual” kung fu. She passed this skill onto her maid, who imparted it to Xiao Longnu who in turn passed it onto Yang Guo. Not only did the maid not take a step into the world of Wulin, she never took a step off Mount Zhongnan. Though Li Mochou is Xiao Longnu’s senior apprentice sister, she was not taught the advanced and profound sword techniques of her master. She gained fame throughout the Jianghu world through the use of her projectiles, fly whisk and palm techniques. Right now, he used the Ancient Tomb sect’s sword techniques, many skilled fighters from various schools and sects were amassed in the hall today, but apart from Xiao Longnu, no one knew this sword technique.

The martial arts of the Ancient Tomb sect was developed by a woman, the next two generations were also women, it was unavoidable that the martial arts developed too much lightness and softness, and there wasn’t enough power and fierceness. When Xiao Longnu taught him these stances, the stances carried thirty percent of this gracefulness and elegance. After he understood it completely, automatically he removed the femininity from the stances and turned its nature into a swift, at ease and airy style. The Ancient Tomb’s lightness kung fu is unparalleled; Yang Guo was now moving around the main hall, before a stance was finished, a second stance arrived.

When the sword stances were first unleashed, the body was on the left, when the stances were repelling the enemy the body had turned to the right, it was as if the sword and user were completely separated. The two of them had nothing to do with each other; he only used around ten stances of this sword technique. Everyone was startled and watched in admiration. Huo Dou’s fan techniques were also a great skill; it had swipes, strikes, thrusts and pierces, and this too relied on swiftness, lightness and softness to overcome the enemy. But now it had met up with the Ancient Tomb’s matchless lightness kung fu and he was unable to unleash his moves. Plus, he was ridiculed by Yang Guo because of the four words written by Zhu Ziliu, he didn’t want to open his fan again and so the ‘swiping’ aspect of his fan technique could not be used.

When Guo Fu and the Wu brothers saw how excellent Yang Guo’s sword techniques were, their six eyes were opened widely and they didn’t have anything more to say.

The happiest person in the crowd was Guo Jing, he saw that the son of Yang Kang had learned such a good level of martial arts; even he couldn’t see what the origins of these techniques were. When he remembered the deep ties between the Guo and Yang families, he couldn’t stop sadness and joy from stirring in his heart. Huang Rong glanced over at her husband, she saw that his eyes were red, a smile was on his lips; she knew what he was thinking and stretched out her hand and took his right hand.

When Huo Dou saw that he couldn’t handle his enemy, he began to get impatient; he thought that if he loses to this young punk today, his name will be in ruins, how could he make his name in the central plains? He saw Yang Guo’s sword pointed at an angle, the sword tip dispersed and he attacked three places in quick succession; if he only was able to dodge them, he would be on his way to losing, so he opened his fan and blocked these three attacks. He called out again and used the “Ferocious Wind Rapid Thunder Skill” again to counterattack. With his status as a skilled fighter of Wulin, he should not use all his abilities and effort in fighting a young man. He’ll lose all face if he wins in such a manner. But all he cared about right now was winning, how could he care about such things? He kept on calling out; a ruthless stance followed by an even more ruthless stance.

Yang Guo’s sword was light and lively, the stances kept on coming without stopping, and it really was graceful, elegant and leisurely. This set of “Beautiful Maiden Sword” overcomes the opponent through grace and subtlety, and in contrast with the opponent’s calls and shouts, Yang Guo’s gracefulness and exquisiteness was even more emphasized. Though Yang Guo was wearing a torn and ragged garment, the sword technique’s elegance and grace became clear in the eyes of the crowd; they felt that he was handsome and striking, and must be a fine son of a well to do family.

However, as Yang Guo prioritized in achieving the elegance and gracefulness of the stances, the power of the sword technique became difficult to unleash. Huo Dou fought without care for his life, he fought more and more fiercely; Yang Guo’s strength gradually started to drain away. Guo Jing and Huang Rong saw that he was on his way to losing and their eyebrows creased. They then saw the gusts of wind created by Huo Dou’s sleeve and fan becoming stronger and stronger, they couldn’t stop themselves from calling out in their hearts, “Oh no!”

Suddenly Yang Guo held his sword up and called out, “Careful! I’m going to use a projectile!”

Huo Dou had used his fan’s poison nails to injure Zhu Ziliu; when he heard Yang Guo say this, he knew that the iron sword was like his fan, there is a secret weapon hidden within. No wonder he didn’t pick the sharp sword and instead chose the rusty one. Since he used such a method to gain victory, the opponent could do so too. When he saw Yang Guo’s sword pointing to his front, he quickly leapt away. But all he saw was Yang Guo’s left hand leading the sword, thrusting forward; what projectile?

Huo Dou knew he had fallen into Yang Guo’s trap and cursed him; “Little bastard!”

Yang Guo asked, “Little bastard curses who?” Huo Dou didn’t reply and pressed forward with his palm.

Yang Guo’s left hand rose up and he called out, “The projectile is coming!” Huo Dou quickly dodged to the right, the opponent’s sword was coming in exactly from the right; Huo Dou quickly pulled back and turned his waist, the sword tip brushed past his ribs from the right. This sword was extremely vicious, when it missed; the crowd all called out, “What a pity!”

The Mongolian warriors secretly thought, “Shameful!”

Though Huo Dou managed to escape from death, his back had broken out in a cold sweat due to fright; he saw Yang Guo’s left hand rise up again and call out, “Projectile!” He didn’t take notice of him anymore and advanced forwards with his palms, indeed, the opponent was using a trick again.

Yang Guo’s sword pierced thin air as he attacked forwards, his left hand rose up a fourth time and loudly called out, “Projectile!” Huo Dou scolded, “Little….”

Before the second word was said, a flash of gold suddenly appeared in his eyes; he was now close to his opponent and after all the false calls by his opponent, he was completely off guard. He quickly leapt up but felt his leg pricked by a very small and fine projectile. Although a projectile hit him, he thought it was small and wouldn’t do much; furiously, his fan slashed forward and his palm chopped out, he wanted to kill that crafty kid right there and then.

Yang Guo had now achieved his aim, why should he continue to fight so hard; he just used his sword to defend, he laughed as he said, “I warned you on many occasions about launching a projectile, and you didn’t believe me. I didn’t lie, did I?”

Huo Duo was about to attack with his palm when he suddenly felt his leg go numb and itchy as if a large mosquito had bitten him. He tried to endure it and finish attacking but the numbness and itchiness became stronger and stronger. He was alarmed, “Damn, that little bastard’s projectile has poison on it!” After this quick thought, the numbness and itchiness became unbearable, he didn’t care about the situation he was in and stretched out his arm to scratch it. But after only one scratch, he felt his heart starting to feel itchy and irritated, he couldn’t’ stop himself from calling out and falling down onto the floor.

The potency of the poison on the Ancient Tomb’s Jade Bee Needles was rarely seen in the world, just one little needle would cause unbearable pain. Never mind the fact that in the middle of battle, his blood was flowing around quickly and he was struck by several needles.

Da’erba took a large step forward and picked up his apprentice brother and placed him in his master’s arms. He turned around to Yang Guo and said, “Little kid, I’ve come to fight you!”

The golden rod swept forwards, aiming towards Yang Guo’s waist.

A golden light was carried forward with this sweeping rod. The golden rod was extremely heavy, as soon he used it, the golden light could be seen; his natural strength was great, his movements were quick. Yang Guo’s legs didn’t move, he bent his waist in a few inches and the golden rod brushed past him. Who could have known that Da’erba wouldn’t wait for the golden rod to finish the sweep, his wrist used some force, and the sweeping force of the golden rod turned into a thrusting one, moving towards Yang Guo’s waist. With such a heavy weapon and such heavy and fierce stances, the ability to suddenly change direction midway was completely unexpected by everyone, Yang Guo too was shocked, he quickly pushed his sword against the rod and used its force to fly away.

Da’erba didn’t wait for him to land, he followed up with another attack; Yang Guo’s sword landed on the rod again and he flew away for a second time. Da’erba called out, “Where can you run?” The golden rod attacked again. Yang Guo’s body was in midair, it was not convenient for him to do anything; he saw that he was in an extremely dangerous situation and decided to test his luck and take a risk. He stretched out his arm and grabbed the golden rod, hacking down with his sword at the same time. If he had the strength of Diancang Yuyin, then the opponent would have definitely let go. The reality was that Da’erba was much stronger than him; he pulled back and quickly retreated. Yang Guo took a chance and landed lightly on the ground. He was forced into the air three times in succession; his life really was within a space of a breath, though he didn’t manage to take away the opponent’s weapon, he had escaped the danger. The crowd all breathed out a sigh of relief.

Da’erba saw that his lightness kung fu was excellent and his stances lively, he said, “This kid’s kung fu is not bad at all, who taught you?” He said this in Tibetan, of course Yang Guo would not understand. He had assumed that the monk was insulting him, and so copied what he said. The tone was perfect, there wasn’t a mistake in the order of the words, in the ears of Da’erba, he heard, “This kid’s kung fu is not bad at all, who taught you?” So he replied, “My Master is Jinlun Fawang. I am not a little kid; you should call me big monk.”

Yang Guo didn’t want to suffer or be the receiving end of anything, he thought, “I don’t care how you insult me, all I’ve got to do is give back what I get and I won’t lose out to him. You call me a bastard, a pig, a pig in another language; I’ll do the same to you.” He concentrated on what he said and when he finished, he repeated in Tibetan, “My Master is Jinlun Fawang. I am not a little kid; you should call me big monk.”

Da’erba was surprised, he looked up and down at him, he’s definitely a little kid; how could he be a big monk? And how could your Master be Jinlun Fawang? So he said, “I am Fawang’s first generation disciple. What generation are you?”

Yang Guo repeated, “I am Fawang’s first generation disciple. What generation are you?”

In the Lama schools of Tibet, they had always talked about reincarnation, especially the reincarnation of the Da Lai and Ban Chan (religious figures of the lama Buddhists) back into this world; the disciples of the lama schools all believed in reincarnation without any doubts.

When Jinlun Fawang was young, he had taken in a disciple; that disciple died before he was twenty. Da’erba and Huo Dou had never seen him, they just knew about this matter. Da’erba is Fawang’s second disciple, and Huo Dou the third, that was it. When Da’erba heard these words, he knew that it was his apprentice brother reincarnated, and he thought that if it wasn’t him reincarnated, then how could this young kid have such high martial arts? Anyway, how would a young central plains kid know such good Tibetan? He slanted his head and studied him for a while; the more he thought, the more likely it seemed to be true. He suddenly flung his golden rod away; he lowered his head and bowed to Yang Guo, he said, “Senior apprentice brother, junior apprentice brother Da’erba greets you.”

Yang Guo was surprised with what just had happened, he thought that the monk couldn’t beat him verbally so lowered his head in defeat. He saw that the monk was extremely respectful to him and his words were definitely not insults. They were words of respect, there was no need to copy him and so he nodded and smiled, showing that he accepted Da’erba’s words.

The crowd was even more surprised, they didn’t understand Tibetan; they didn’t know what Yang Guo and the monk were jabbering on about. After talking for a while, he actually managed to tame this monk of terrifyingly divine strength.

Only Jinlun Fawang understood what was happening, he knew that his disciple, always straight and simple, had fallen into Yang Guo’s trap; so he loudly said, “Da’erba, he’s not your reincarnated apprentice brother, go and fight him.”

Da’erba leapt up in shock and said, “Master, I think he must be apprentice brother, otherwise, at such a young age, how could he have such a high level of martial arts?”

Jinlun Fawang said, “Your apprentice brother’s martial arts were much better than yours; that kid is not a match for you.”

Da’erba shook his head, not believing him. Jinlun Fawang knew that he was very simple, he wouldn’t understand straight away so he said, “If you don’t believe it, go and test him out.”

Da’erba has always treated his Master’s orders as orders from above; since he said that Yang Guo was not his apprentice brother reincarnated then most probably he was not. But he had such high martial arts at such a young age, and said that he was his apprentice brother; it was difficult for him to not believe, but he followed his Master’s orders to go and test out the kid’s kung fu. The truth would be revealed by whoever wins or loses so he raised his hand to Yang Guo and said, “I’m going to duel with you, victory will decide whether this is the truth or not.”

Yang Guo saw him stand up and say a few words, he looked very respectful. The words must be of a polite nature so he repeated what he said flawlessly, Da’erba heard, “I’m going to duel with you, victory will decide whether this is the truth or not.” When he heard those words he felt very frightened, “Master said senior apprentice brother’s martial arts were much better than mine, I definitely won’t be able to compete with him.”

Yang Guo saw that there were signs of fear on his face, he thought, “I’ll give him another scare and send him away.” So he said, “You have five disciples, they are called the ‘Five Clowns of the Tibetan Border’; a few days ago they were rude towards me on the top of Mount Hua, and I crippled their kung fu. Are those punks still alive?” He spoke in Chinese, of course Da’erba would not understand, so he got one of the Mongolian warriors to translate for him. When Da’erba heard this, he was even more frightened. After the ‘Five Clowns of the Tibetan Border’ had their bodies’ crippled by Ouyang Feng and Hong Qigong, when they returned to him, they weren’t even able to speak. When Da’erba examined their injuries, he thought that even his master Jinlun Fawang didn’t have such high internal energy to destroy the five’s veins yet still keep them alive. The thing that did this must have the ability to move heaven and earth; it could only be a god or a demon. How would he know that Ouyang Feng and Hong Qigong’s internal energy was not below his master’s; with the two combined, the internal energy would be twice as strong as Jinlun Fawang’s. When he heard this, his fear flourished even more, he turned around and looked at Jinlun Fawang. He saw that there was an angry expression on his face, he didn’t dare to not exchange blows with Yang Guo, he could only say, “Please hold back.”

Yang Guo copied his Tibetan and said, “Please hold back.”

Guo Fu saw the two of them speaking in Tibetan without pause, she went over to Huang Rong and said, “Mother, what are they saying?”

Huang Rong knew that Yang Guo was just copying what Da’erba had said, doing what children do to annoy other people, but she didn’t understand why Da’erba had bowed to him. When she heard her daughter ask about this, she just gave an ‘en’ sound and said “Brother Yang is joking with him!”

Just at this point, Da’erba suddenly swept his golden rod out towards Yang Guo; he thought that since he’s made it clear, the opponent would have been prepared. But Yang Guo had seen that he had a respectful expression on him, he didn’t predict that he would suddenly lash out; this attack almost hit him, he leapt back urgently to avoid it.

He quickly retreated and hurried forward, immediately unleashing three strokes with the sword. Fear was in Da’erba’s heart, he was afraid that his apprentice brother had learnt frightening martial arts from his master, and now that he’s reincarnated, he would have even greater abilities. He just defended with his golden rod, not daring to make a single mistake. Many moves passed and Yang Guo could see that he was just defending and not attacking. Though he didn’t understand what was meant by this, he launched himself forward; he floated and darted around, a thrust from the east, an attack from the west, the “Jade Maiden Sword Techniques” were used with a clear gallant air and a flourishing beauty.

Over a hundred stances were exchanged, Jinlun Fawang was becoming impatient with the events and shouted, “Da’erba, quickly counterattack, he’s not your senior apprentice brother!”

Da’erba’s martial arts were well above Yang Guo’s but because there was fear in his heart, he only used half of his abilities, whereas Yang Guo took the chance and fought with everything he had. One of them wanted to take the upper hand, the other kept on retreating and allowing the opponent to attack. Though Yang Guo had the advantage, he was unable to harm him; this convinced Da’erba further and he thought that his apprentice brother was holding back.

Jinlun Fawang was furious and loudly shouted, “Counterattack now!” This line was said with a surprising ferociousness, it caused ringing in the ears of the people watching. Da’erba didn’t dare to defy his Master’s orders; he straightened his golden rod and immediately attacked ferociously.

This ferocious attack forced Yang Guo to go on the defensive; he kept on dodging and darted around, the weaknesses in his stances were gradually beginning to show up. Da’erba saw that his sword stances were slightly loose and flung his rod towards it, Yang Guo couldn’t pull back in time and the two collided. In a duel, weapons clashing were a regular event, but the rod was too heavy, Yang Guo’s sword had kept its distance, not daring to collide with the golden rod. Now when the weapons collided, he felt a sudden surge of a great force, shaking and causing him pain, a ‘pai’ sound was heard and the iron sword was snapped in two.

Da’erba called out, “I’m the victor!” He pulled back his rod and placed it on the ground vertically, his arms folded and bowed to him. Though he won, he didn’t dare to lose his manners in front of his senior apprentice brother.

Yang Guo also used Tibetan to say, “I’m the victor!” He shot the broken sword towards him.

Da’erba moved his body to avoid it, he was alarmed, “How did senior apprentice brother win? Could it be that stance was a decoy, a trap? He saw Yang Guo dashing forward empty handed moving his hands; Da’erba didn’t dare to hesitate and quickly used his golden rod to protect his body.

In the ancient tomb, Yang Guo learned palm techniques from Xiao Longnu; he reached a state where his two palms could keep eighty one sparrows within his control, not letting one fly away. This “Force of Nets Above and Snares Below” is a secret skill of Lin Chaoying’s; it had never left Mount Zhongnan one-step. Now as it was used, indeed it was extremely soft, continuous and unyielding, though he was empty handed, the power of it was not inferior to the power he had when he was equipped with a sword. Da’erba’s golden rod created gusts of winds as he used it, but Yang Guo used extremely high lightness kung fu to move around within the spaces of the rod. Though danger was always within a hair’s breadth, the golden rod was not able to touch him at all. He clawed, hacked, slashed and chopped, within his little trapping hand stances as he used the “Force of Nets Above and Snares Below” for attack after attack.

After another while, Da’erba’s strength increased, Yang Guo too got quicker and nimbler. During his time in the ancient tomb, he had refined his internal energy on the chilled jade bed, now in the middle of battle, the internal energy he spent years refining surged forward and showed itself.

Xiao Longnu sat on the stone rock next to the pillar with a slight smile on her face as she watched the two fight. She saw that Yang Guo had fought for a long time without losing, from her pockets, she took out a pair of snow white gloves and called out, “Guo Er, catch them!” Her right hand waved out and shot the gloves towards Yang Guo.

The pair of white gloves was made from very fine and very strong white gold silk, though it was thin, no type of precious blades or sharp swords could harm it.

When Hao Datong saw the white gloves in the air, his face changed slightly. Years ago at Chongyang Palace, Xiao Longnu wore these gloves to break his sword, forcing him to almost commit suicide. When he saw them again, he couldn’t stop himself from being disturbed.

Yang Guo caught the gloves, retreated a step, and he quickly put them on. He used the Ancient Tomb’s sect most ingenious and exquisite kung fu the “Beautiful Maiden Fist”. He had used a few stances from this fist technique before to help Lu Wushuang against her enemies; forcing the Beggar Clan members to retreat. Every stance of this technique is meant to take on the aura and impression of a famous beautiful woman of the past. Originally, when a male uses it, the stances do not look elegant at all. But when Yang Guo was studying this technique he had changed some of the appearance of the stances; the names and fist techniques were the same, but in the interval between palms and kicks, he changed its delicate and enchanting air into something graceful and stylish. The heroes who were watching became even more perplexed; they saw him suddenly move and then suddenly stop; his expression and aura changing, it was extremely mystifying.

A woman’s state of mind goes through many things, many changes. Along with the different extraordinary characters of each of the famous historic woman, came laughter, as brows were knitted, joy with worry; it was even more difficult to understand and surmise. Incorporating the hundreds and thousand year old feelings of these beautiful woman into martial arts, and then adding stances that reflect the beauty of goddesses, the mystery surrounding angels; how could ordinary people understand it?

Yang Guo used a stance of “Hong Yu Beats the Drum” his two arms attacking one after the other; Da’erba raised his rod and attacked. Yang Guo changed into “Hong Fu Hurries in the Night”, unexpectedly he charged forward. Da’erba pushed his rod down vertically to block it. Yang Guo suddenly used “Luu Zhu’s Falling Building”; he threw himself onto the ground and attacked his lower body.

Da’erba was shocked and thought, “How come senior apprentice brother’s stances are so hard to comprehend?” He quickly leapt up and avoided his left palm’s hack. Yang Guo’s palms kept on attacking downwards without stop; it was the stance of “Wen Ji Returns to Her Man”, in total there were eighteen palms.

Every stance of his had a background to it; Da’erba is a Tibetan monk, so how could he know about these histories of the central plains? In a flash he was forced to suddenly go high and then low, east and then west, his arms and legs were all over the place. With the Golden Silk Gloves, whenever Yang Guo had the chance he would use the stances “Hong Xian Steals the Box”, “Mu Lan Curved Bow”, “Ban Ji’s Poem” and “Chang E Steals Medicine” to snatch away Da’erba’s golden rod, forcing him to roar incessantly, looking embarrassed. The heroes were delighted and called out and cheered to support him.

Jinlun Fawang saw that his disciple’s martial arts were definitely better than this young man’s, but because he was afraid, he kept on allowing the opponent to attack and was forced back embarrassingly. He shouted with a stern tone, “Quickly use the “Supreme Strength Rod Technique”!”

Da’erba replied, “Yes!” He held the rod’s handle with one hand and started to move it around. Using one hand to move the rod was already frightening, now he used the strength in his two hands and the strength in his waist at the same time; the gusts of winds created by the rod were even louder.

The “Supreme Strength Rod Technique” does not have many variations; there are only eight sweeping stances, and eight thrusting stances, sixteen stances in total, but when the sixteen stances were used repeatedly, sweeping and thrusting, it forced Yang Guo farther away as he avoided it. He didn’t dare to meet the gusts of wind created by the rod let alone meeting the rod itself.

After Diancang Yuyin’s oar broke, he had refused to accept his defeat, but when he saw the power of the “Supreme Strength Rod Technique”, he pondered on the fact that his oar stances did not contain anything as fierce and wild as this, he couldn’t help but give his respect to him.

After another period of fighting, several candles in the main hall were extinguished by the wind created by Da’erba’s rod. Yang Guo just used his lightness kung fu to leap and jump around all over the place, just dodging and evading, but now that he was concentrating on avoiding the rod attacks, how could he attack? All of the heroes of the central plains were afraid and didn’t make a sound, the Mongolian warriors all cheered thunderously.

Yang Guo was faced with no other choice but to keep on retreating, in a short time he was forced into the corner of the hall. He wanted to change his stances but there was no way for him to do so.

This “Supreme Strength Rod Technique” causes one to carry some degree of blind fury, once this became evident in Da’erba, he forgot that he was fighting his reincarnated senior apprentice brother. He saw that Yang Guo had nowhere else to retreat, and then shouted out, “Die!” The golden rod swept across, a ferocious explosion noise was heard, smoke and dust filled the air, and a large hole was made in the wall of hall.

In this extremely perilous situation, Yang Guo managed to leap over his head and even in this extreme situation he did not forget to repeat what he said in Tibetan, “Die!” That leap was a technique from the “Nine Yin Manual”. He and Xiao Longnu had studied the markings of the manual left by Wang Chongyang on the ceiling of the stone chamber in the ancient tomb. They had learned some of the fist, kick and sword techniques but there was no one to advise them on practicing the internal aspect. They practiced it but they did not know if they practiced properly, right now he was facing a formidable enemy, how could he dare use it? He would never have thought that in the face of such a danger, he would use it naturally, saving his life in the process.

The crowd all thought that Da’erba would definitely hit his target with this stance; Guo Jing did not wait for the sweep to hit its target and dashed out, wanting to grab his back. He saw a red flash in front of his eyes; Jinlun Fawang’s palm was coming towards him. Guo Jing saw that the palm was coming in extremely fast so he quickly used a stance of “Seeing the Dragon in the Field”. The two of them did not make a sound as the palms clashed; two flashes were seen as the two separated.

Guo Jing took three steps back while Jinlun Fawang stood his ground steadily. His strength was much stronger than Guo Jing’s and his internal energy was profound, but the proficiency of his palms could not compare with Guo Jing’s. Guo Jing took the steps back to disperse the enemy’s force and avoid injury. But Jinlun Fawang was too proud; he forced himself to meet this palm solidly, enduring the pain in his chest, as he stood there without moving. Even great fighters such as Guo Jing and Jinlun Fawang thought that Yang Guo would definitely meet danger, so one of them flew out to save him; one of them came out to hinder the help. Who would have known that Yang Guo would use such an extraordinary stance, escaping in the space where the golden rod was sweeping next to his body. When the two of them saw that he avoided danger, both were surprised, one was comforted, the other lamented, and both of them retreated. Da’erba didn’t turn around after this failed attack; he swept the golden rod backwards fiercely. Yang Guo saw that this stance was coming in extremely quickly and automatically, he brushed across the floor like a sparrow gliding, he was a foot or so off the floor, going across it evenly, avoiding the golden rod with a few inches to spare. Again, this was kung fu from the “Nine Yin Manual”.

Huang Rong was surprised and said, “Brother Jing, how come Guo’er knows the “Nine Yin Manual”? Did you teach him?” She thought that Guo Jing had taught Yang Guo the “Nine Yin Manual” on the way to Mount Zhongnan out of his feelings and memories of the past.

Guo Jing said, “No, if I did teach him, why would I keep it from you?”

Huang Rong gave an ‘en’ sound; she knew that her husband had always told the truth to other people, towards her he was even more truthful. She saw Yang Guo shifting and moving, every time he was in danger he would rely on the martial arts of the “Nine Yin Manual” to protect himself. But he showed that he had yet to completely master it, he didn’t know how to counterattack according to the manual to achieve victory. Though he was able to protect his life, as the battle continues, he would still end up losing.

Huang Rong sighed to herself, “Guo’er is really an extraordinary talent, if he followed me for a year or so and learns the “Dog Beating Stick Technique” and “Nine Yin Manual” completely, how on earth would this Tibetan monk be a match for him?”

At this troubled time, she glanced over at a space and saw the Beggar Clan traitor Elder Peng in the midst of the Mongolian warriors, his face full of joy. She suddenly had an idea and called out, “Guo’er, “Soul Altering Spell”, “Soul Altering Spell”!”

The “Nine Yin Manual” has a technique called the “Soul Altering Spell”, using the power of the heart and soul to subdue the enemy and achieve victory. Years ago at the Beggar Clan meeting on Mount Jun, Huang Rong had used this technique to subdue Elder Peng’s hypnotizing “Fearful Heart Art”; because of this, when she saw this person she thought of it.

Yang Guo remembered the method of using the “Soul Altering Spell”; he didn’t have the confidence to completely focus on the enemy and subdue them to gain victory so he had never practiced it. But he was conscious of Huang Rong’s abilities, he thought, “Since Auntie Guo mentions this, there must be a reason, anyway, defeat is already definite so I might as well give it a try.”

So his body continued avoiding the attacks, in his mind however he was purging his thoughts, following the method stated in the manual, from ‘controlling the limits of the mind’ to ‘the limits of the real body’; everything became one, there weren’t any other thoughts in his mind. At this time, he relied on his natural reactions, when he heard anything he leapt and darted, when he felt the gust of wind he hurriedly dodged it, his eyes fixed on the opponent.

More stances passed, Da’erba suddenly felt something was wrong with Yang Guo’s movements; he glanced at him and then sent his golden rod forward fiercely.

Yang Guo used another stance of the “Beautiful Maiden Fist”, “Man’s Fine Waist”, his waist swung lightly to avoid the attack. As he’s using the “Soul Altering Spell”, his body and mind have become one, whatever stances his hands and feet are using, then the face will reflect whatever feeling and aura the stances exude.

Da’erba saw that his face suddenly seemed to look like a scroll of literature, how on earth could he know that Yang Guo was copying the posture of the Tang’s dynasty poet Zhu Letian’s concubine Xiao Man’ He couldn’t stop himself from being taken aback, the golden rod attacked forward towards his head. Yang Guo moved his head to avoid it, he spread his five fingers and brushed it through his hair, his five fingers then gently waved out, a slight smile on his face; it was a stance of “Dressing of Li Hua”. Zhang Lihua was Li Hou’s favorite imperial concubine, her hair was seven feet long, its light could reflect people, because of her, Li Hou abandoned his political duty and let the country go to ruin; her beauty was immensely enchanting.

Yang Guo’s smile infected Da’erba, he followed and smiled. Yang Guo’s face was handsome and striking, when he smiled, he was even more so, Da’erba’s cheekbones were high and his cheeks deep, when the crowd saw him follow Yang Guo and smile, all of them shivered.

Yang Guo saw that he was taken aback and stretched out his finger, jabbing out; it was the stance “The Divine Needle Ping Ji”. Da’erba slanted his body and moved away, his face copied Yang Guo’s in making an expression that one has when concentrating on sewing.

Huang Rong saw that Yang Guo understood her and managed to affect the opponent using the “Soul Altering Spell”, she was delighted; she whispered to Guo Jing, “Guo’er is extraordinary; when you were his age you didn’t have such a level of kung fu.”

Guo Jing expressed his joy, he nodded his head and concentrated on the two people in the middle of the hall without blinking.

The “Soul Altering Spell” uses the power of the heart and soul to affect the opponent; if the opponent’s mind and will was strong and still, it would not be effective. If the opponent’s internal energy was higher as well, the attack would be reflected back towards the user and they, instead, would fall under the control of the other person. When two people are dueling, if the user’s martial arts were better than the other person’s, then they could defeat them through weaponry, fists and kicks. There would be no need to resort to this technique. If on the other hand the user’s internal energy was weaker, they wouldn’t dare use this technique hastily. Though this technique is deep and profound, it didn’t have much use when facing a superior enemy.

Da’erba had heard Yang Guo speak a whole lot of Tibetan and had believed with some certainty that he was the reincarnation of his senior apprentice brother, but because there was fear in his heart, he was affected very quickly by this technique. Yang Guo was able to succeed in one go; if the target was Huo Dou, Yang Guo would definitely be in danger because he had never practiced this technique before and his internal energy could not match Huo Dou’s. Yang Guo performed the “Beautiful Maiden Fist”, whatever he did, whether his steps made lotuses or he moved like a willow, Da’erba copied. The watching crowd was startled and amused.

Guo Fu had felt this was extremely amusing, she said to her mother, “Mother, this technique of brother Yang is really something, why don’t you teach me?”

Huang Rong said, “If you learned the “Soul Altering Spell”, heaven and earth would definitely be turned upside down; it would be trouble, you would suffer and so would others.” She held her hand and said seriously, “Don’t think this is fun, brother Yang and that monk are fighting with their lives; this is much more dangerous than fighting with sabers and swords!”

Guo Fu stuck her tongue out and watched Yang Guo, she still felt this was fun, when Yang Guo smiled, so did Da’erba, when Yang Guo was angry Da’erba was angry, so she copied him. How would she know how powerful the “Soul Affecting Spell” was, she copied just two movements when her heart and mind became unclear and blurred, and she started to take steps towards the centre of the hall.

Huang Rong was shocked and quickly pulled her hand. At this time, Guo Fu was being controlled and used her strength to fling her mother away. Huang Rong twisted her hand and Guo Fu’s wrist, turning her face around, stopping her from facing Yang Guo. Guo Fu struggled for a bit, the hold restricted her vein’s movements, she fainted and fell unconscious into her mother’s arms.

Right now, Da’erba was completely controlled by Yang Guo, when he saw Yang Guo use a stance of “Xi Zi Offers the Heart” immediately followed by “Dong Shi Knits her Brows”, then another stance of “Descending Goddess’ Subtle Step”, he copied the steps and scurries, “Gliding like a frightened Crow, Slithering like a slippery Snake”.

Jinlun Fawang had noticed something was wrong long ago, he had called out many times but Da’erba acted like he didn’t hear. Yang Guo saw that time had come, he suddenly used a stance of “Cao Ling Slices her Nose”, and he waved his hand and cut a palm across his face, a left palm cut across followed by a right without stop.

In ancient times, a man called Cao Wenshu had a wife whose last name was Ling, after her husband died; she cut off her nose, showing that she will never marry again.

This stance originally uses the cut across the face to repel an enemy’s attack, however, Yang Guo had made the cuts closer to his face by a few inches, cutting across his cheeks, it looked like it was a very heavy blow but in reality he just lightly brushed across his face. But how would Da’erba know this, his palms attacked his own face with the great force. He possessed frightening strength, every palm had a force of over a hundred kilos (220lbs), over ten palms later, he couldn’t stand it, and he knocked himself dizzily to the floor.

Yang Guo quietly retreated a few steps and sat next to Xiao Longnu, his right hand supported his cheek, his left waved out lightly; he gave a long sigh, a lonely feeling on his face. This was the last stance of the “Beautiful Maiden Fist”, it’s called “Secluded in the Ancient Tomb” but this stance was invented by Yang Guo himself, Lin Chaoying did not know about this and Xiao Longnu too, did not know it. When Yang Guo completed learning the “Beautiful Maiden Fist”, he thought about how Ancestor Grandma excelled in beauty and grace, she did not lose compared to beauties of the ancient times, she was not in this fist technique, the beauty aspect is not really complete, so he devised his own stance. Though he said he invented this stance because of Lin Chaoying, the aura and feeling of this stance was that of his master Xiao Longnu. When Xiao Longnu first saw this, she just gave a little smile and let him be.

The heroes all cheered out in delight and called out, “We’ve won the second round as well!” “The position of Chancellor of Wulin belongs to the skilled fighters of the Song!” “You Mongols better crawl out of here and don’t show your face again in the central plains!”

The Mongolian warriors dashed out during this commotion and carried Da’erba back.

Jinlun Fawang saw that his two disciples had lost but not because their kung fu wasn’t good enough, they lost in some stupid way. He was furious but his face showed no signs of emotion, he sat on the chair and called out, “Young man, who is your Master?” Apart from excelling in martial arts, he was also knowledgeable in many things; he even knew how to speak Chinese.

Yang Guo pointed to Xiao Longnu and laughed as he said, “This is my Master, come and bow down to the Chancellor of Wulin!”

Jinlun Fawang saw that Xiao Longnu was beautiful and delicate, she was younger than Yang Guo, he did not believe that she was his master and thought, “The Han of the central plains are very sly and crafty but can you trick me?” He suddenly stood up; a clanking sound was heard as he took out a gold wheel from his compartment. The golden wheel was a foot and a half in diameter, cast out of solid gold, the Tibetan scriptures were inscribed on the wheel, in the middle were nine little spheres, a shake of the hands and a prolonged noise was heard.

Jinlun Fawang pointed to Xiao Longnu and said, “Huh, how is that this little girl is worthy of being the Chancellor of Wulin? If you can withstand ten stances of my golden wheel I’ll acknowledge you as the Chancellor of Wulin.”

Yang Guo laughed and said, “I’ve already won two rounds, two out of three, and your side said that at the start, so why are you trying to deny it?”

Jinlun Fawang said, “I want to test out her kung fu and see if she has the ability to take this task on.”

Xiao Longnu did not know that Jinlun Fawang’s abilities are shockingly brilliant, neither did she know what the Chancellor of Wulin was, the thought of whether to take this on had never crossed her mind. When she heard him say that he wanted to test whether she can withstand ten stances of his golden wheel, she stood up and said, “In that case I’ll have a try.” Jinlun Fawang said, “If you can’t withstand ten stances, what then?”

Xiao Longnu said, “If I can’t, I can’t, what about it?” Though she treated Yang Guo with love and compassion, when it comes to other things she didn’t have a care.

The heroes of the central plains and the Mongolian warriors did not know that this was her character, and they saw that she didn’t give Jinlun Fawang any consideration; they thought that she really must possess deep and profound martial arts. After seeing Yang Guo use the “Soul Altering Spell”, others thought that she knew witchcraft and was a young witch. At that time, they all burst into conversation.

Jinlun Fawang really was afraid that she knew witchcraft, he started to chant a mantra, “ji li gu lu, ji li gu lu”, he recited the “Devil Subduing Mantra” from the Tibetan scriptures. Yang Guo heard this and thought that the monk was insulting his master in Tibetan so he quickly concentrated and remembered every single word clearly. Once Jinlun Fawang finished reciting the mantra, from the golden wheel a period of ‘lang lang’ noises was heard, he shouted, “Young man, I’m about to start!” He said these two words in Chinese.

Yang Guo shook his hand, he didn’t want to speak a word, he was afraid that once his concentration was disturbed, he would forget the passage of Tibetan he had just remembered, he then began to recite every word and tone of the passage.

Da’erba regained consciousness at this time, he saw that his master was holding a golden wheel and was about to fight someone. Then he heard Yang Guo recite the ‘Devil Subduing Mantra’ from the Tibetan scriptures, this was something that was kept within the school, and it was never passed on to outsiders. If Yang Guo wasn’t the reincarnation of senior apprentice brother, how would he know this mantra? He quickly jumped up in urgency and knelt down in front of his master, he called out, “Master, he really is the reincarnation of senior apprentice brother, take him back into the school!”

Jinlun Fawang angrily said, “Rubbish! You don’t even know that you’ve fallen into his trap.” Da’erba said, “It really is, this is the truth, it’s definitely not a lie.”

Fawang saw that he was confused; he picked him up by the back and flung him away. Da’erba weighed about a hundred kilos (220lbs); the way he was tossed lightly aside was as if he weighed nothing.

The heroes had seen the frightening strength of Da’erba when he fought Diancang Yuyin and Yang Guo, but the toss by Jinlun Fawang showed that his strength was even stronger. They looked at the delicate appearance of Xiao Longnu, without even mentioning the ten stances, if he just used force to blow at her, she would be blown over, and they couldn’t stop themselves from worrying about her.

Many of the Mongolian warriors have seen Jinlun Fawang display his abilities, his skill could hold back ten thousand men, and his strength exceeded that of nine bulls. Though Xiao Longnu was the enemy, they saw that she was childlike, frail and beautiful. Even if she did know witchcraft, she may not be able to defend against the mysterious divine abilities of Jinlun Fawang. They couldn’t stop themselves from secretly hoping that Fawang would not be too ruthless.

After Yang Guo finished reciting the mantra, he whispered to Xiao Longnu, “Gu Gu, be careful of that monk.”

When Jinlun Fawang heard that Yang Guo had not recited one word wrong, he had respect for him, he praised him, “Young man, only you.”

Yang Guo said, “Monk, only you.”

Jinlun Fawang looked at him and said, “Only I what?”

Yang Guo said, “Only you’ve got the courage to fight with my Master, she is the reincarnation of the Goddess of Mercy; she has the ability to move heaven and earth, the power to subdue dragons and tigers, you better take care.” He saw that this monk was very powerful, he wanted to make him worry so he won’t fight with his full abilities, then it would be easier for his Master to defend against him.

But Jinlun Fawang is a hero that Tibet had never seen before; he excelled in both martial arts and the arts, how would he fall into the trap; he called out, “The first stance is coming, little miss, show your weapon!”

Yang Guo took off the golden silk gloves and put them on his Master before stepping back. Xiao Longnu took out a white silk belt from her pockets, the belt flew out and met the wind, a golden sphere was tied to the white belt. Something was inside the golden sphere, as the belt moved, the sphere rang like a bell, ‘ding ling, ding ling’, it was crisp and clear.

Everyone saw that the two’s weapons were extremely strange, they thought that today they would really experience something, one weapon was extremely short, the other was extremely long, one extremely hard, the other extremely soft, and by coincidence, both weapons made ‘ding dang’ noises.

The golden wheel that Jinlun Fawang uses traps the opponent’s weapon; no matter if it’s a saber, sword, spear, lance, pike, whip or stick. When the weapon meets the wheel, they would be tangled up; when a normal person sends a stance over, the weapon in their hand will be lost. If he didn’t see how impressive Yang Guo’s martial arts were, he would never have said ten stances. In his life, very few people have managed to take three stances of his golden wheel.

Xiao Longnu’s belt flew out, she was attacking first.

Jinlun Fawang said, “What is this?” He sent out his left hand to grab the belt, he saw that the silk belt moving gently and swiftly, he knew that there would be many variations. That grab he sent out covered all directions, up, down, left, right and middle, wherever the belt goes, it would not escape his clutches. He couldn’t have known that the golden sphere would counterattack, ringing as it moved, it was heading for his ‘Central Islet’ pressure point on the back of his hand. Jinlun Fawang was extremely swift in changing his stance, his palm turned around and went for the sphere again. Xiao Longnu’s wrist moved slightly, the sphere turned around, moving up and down, aiming to strike his arm’s ‘Combined Valley’ pressure point. Jinlun Fawang’s palm turned again, this time he stretched out his two fingers to catch the sphere. Xiao Longnu understood what he was doing, the belt rushed forward slightly, the sphere went for the ‘Crooked Marsh’ pressure point around the elbow area.

Those few variations were done within just the turn of a hand, Jinlun Fawang turned his palm twice, Xiao Longnu twisted her wrist three times; the two had exchanged five stances.

Yang Guo understood what was happening and loudly counted, “One, two, three, four, five… that’s five stances!” There are five stances left.”

Jinlun Fawang wanted Xiao Longnu to take ten of his stances, wanting her to defend against ten of his attacks. Yang Guo tried to be clever and counted the stances exchanged by both sides. Jinlun Fawang is a leading master of martial arts, why would he allow himself to get into an argument over numbers with this crafty young man? His left arm went to the side and avoided the sphere, and then sent his golden wheel forward.

Xiao Longnu heard the urgent ‘lang lang’ noise and saw a gold flash in front of her eyes, the enemy’s golden wheel was now only a foot or so in front of her. This move was sudden, she couldn’t even think about repelling this move, evading this attack was impossible. In this danger she flicked her wrist again, the silk belt went straight forward, the sphere attacked Fawang’s ‘Wind Pond’ pressure point on the front of his head. This is a fatal pressure point, even if you’re martial arts were higher, once this point has been struck, your life would be at risk. She had no other choice but to use this risky stance of making both sides suffer great losses and to force the opponent to take back his wheel.

Indeed, Jinlun Fawang did not want to risk his life with her, he lowered his head to avoid the attack, but once his head was lowered, the wheel in his hand became slower. Xiao Longnu took this opportunity and summoned back her silk belt and a ‘ding ding dang dang’ sound was heard as the sphere collided with the golden wheel, neutralizing Jinlun Fawang’s attack. All that happened in the blink of an eye, Xiao Longnu went from facing death to staying alive in a matter of seconds, she urgently utilized her lightness kung fu and retreated to the side, her face had a fearful expression.

Jinlun Fawang had just used one stance to attack but Yang Guo called out loudly, “Six, seven, eight, nine, ten… great, my master has received ten stances of yours, what more have you got to say?”

After that exchange, Jinlun Fawang knew that although Xiao Longnu’s martial arts were high, it was no where near his level. If they exchanged moves properly, he would definitely defeat her within ten stances. He did not like Yang Guo stirring the situation from the side, talking rubbish, and disturbing his concentration. He thought, “I’ll ignore the young man’s rubbish, I’ll intensify my attacks and beat the little girl first and then reason with them.” His sleeve carried forward and the golden wheel flashed, it was another extremely lethal fatal attack.

Yang Guo called out loudly, “You don’t want face! Ten moves have passed and you’re continuing, eleven, twelve, thirteen, and fourteen…” He didn’t care how many stances were exchanged in defense and attack by the two, his mouth kept on counting up.

After receiving one of his stances, Xiao Longnu was extremely afraid; she didn’t dare to receive another attack head on. She utilized her lightness kung fu and flew around the hall, the belt in her hand floating in the air, the golden sphere quickly turning, forming a streak of fog, a path of yellow light. The sounds that the golden sphere was producing sped up suddenly, slowed suddenly, lightened suddenly and loud suddenly, it was like a song. When she lived in the tomb, she studied the zither manuscripts left by Lin Chaoying and played the zither accordingly; she became rather wonderful with it. Later on, she started to practice with the silk belt and gold sphere, she noticed that the tones made by the sphere possessed a rhythm and tone, her character was still childlike then, and she managed to integrate music into this set of kung fu techniques.

Everything possesses a rhythm, from the way the world passes on, how trees and grass grow, to a person’s heartbeat and pulse. Music is created by the natural manipulation of the sounds of nature by people; music pleases the ear whereas noise creates trouble in the heart. When kung fu and music is combined, it is performed even more smoothly and softly, the body following whatever the mind wants.

The lightness kung fu of the Ancient Tomb sect belongs to its own class, other sects’ lightness kung fu cannot compare with it. When using it in the open plains, it is difficult to identify the strong points of the technique, right now, it was being used in the hall, the grace and ease of it was unparalleled, moving in thousands of different directions. She has practiced her martial arts in the rooms of the ancient tomb, within a radius of over ten feet, she really did move like a goddess.

Though Jinlun Fawang’s martial arts were much superior to hers, as she hurriedly leaped and suddenly shifted, there wasn’t anything he could do about it. He heard the ‘ding ling ding ling’ sounds of the sphere was like a song, after listening to it a while, he found himself fighting along with the music. He quickly swung his golden wheel to create a noise, mixing up the ‘ling’ sounds. In a flash the room was filled with the clashing of the two sounds, suddenly it was soft then loud, high then low. The sounds from the bell was crisp and clear, when one hears them they felt carefree and joyous, the sounds that Jinlun Fawang produced were like metal being forged, like a scraping of a cauldron, like killing a pig, beating a dog, many indescribable noises.

Guo Jing and Huang Rong were watching from the side and remembered how years ago they heard Hong Qigong, Ouyang Feng and Huang Yaoshi use the sounds of music to battle with each other on Peach Blossom Island. As they reminisced about it, it felt like it was lifetime ago. Though the martial arts of the two were masterly, when it comes to using music to fight, they could not compare with Hong, Huang and Ouyang.

Yang Guo had already counted up to, “One thousand and five, one thousand and six, one thousand and seven…” But Xiao Longnu had kept away from facing her opponent; Jinlun Fawang had yet to use ten stances. Guo Fu was unconscious in her mother’s arms but she was awakened by the sounds of the golden wheel, she raised her head, her face as dazed and she did not know what was going on.

Jinlun Fawang felt very impatient, he felt that with the status of a leading martial artist, if he was unable to beat this young girl after so long, and if the battle went on, he would eventually win but he would have lost all face. He suddenly stretched out his left arm, the golden wheel slanted across; his left palm pushed out low towards the left, the golden wheel went upwards towards the right. The two of them had fought for a long time, now Jinlun Fawang had grasped half of Xiao Longnu’s lightness kung fu; those two attacks were meant to block her escape routes, only allowing her to move forward, escaping backwards was not an option.

In this danger, Xiao Longnu waved her silk belt and wrapped it around a group of white flowers, her body quickly flew up.

Fawang’s golden wheel turned around, binding the silk belt. If it were a normal weapon, he would have taken it away long ago, but the silk belt did not have any stiffness, it just lightly slipped away from the hole of the golden wheel. Jinlun Fawang shouted, “That is the second stance, the third stance is coming!” He took a step forward; the golden wheel suddenly escaped from his hands, and was sent flying towards Xiao Longnu.

No one predicted that stance, the golden wheel spun urgently as it slashed towards Xiao Longnu. Xiao Longnu was extremely startled, she lowered her body and darted backwards, she suddenly heard a ‘chi chi’ sound, a yellow light passed her face within an inch, the gusts of wind created by the wheel hurt her tender face.

In the startled calls of the crowd, Fawang dashed forward and stretched out his arm, his palm gave a push on the wheel’s rim, turning it in midair, heading towards Xiao Longnu again. Xiao Longnu saw that the force the wheel was spinning with was extraordinary, how could she dare to use the silk belt to trap it? She could only use her matchless lightness kung fu to jump to the side to avoid it.

Jinlun Fawang had missed twice and called out, “Great lightness kung fu!” He dashed forwards and stretched out his left fist, a ‘dang’ sound was heard as he struck the wheel, at the same time he sent out both palms, blocking Xiao Longnu’s path forward, while the golden wheel flew with a ‘lang lang’ sound towards the back of her head.

The golden wheel wasn’t extremely quick, but before the wheel arrived, the gusts of wind created by the wheel moved towards Xiao Longnu, it was an extremely ferocious force. When Fawang punched the wheel, he had already calculated where the opponent could escape to, that is why the wheel seemed to have grown an eye; after making half a circle in midair, the wheel returned and headed for Xiao Longnu’s back. Xiao Longnu jumped and used all the skills that she had learnt in her life, but she still saw the Tibetan monk’s palms opened in front of her, blocking her way. The heroes’ ears were filled with calls, their eyes were dazzled, and all of them had fear in their hearts.

Yang Guo saw that Xiao Longnu was in danger; he was extremely concerned and picked up Da’erba’s golden rod. He used all his strength and flung it upwards towards the wheel, a loud ‘dang’ sound was heard, the rod managed to go through the wheel’s opening in the middle, but the force of the wheel was really ferocious, it shook his arms so much that his wrists split open, blood poured out, as he brought the wheel and rod crashing to the floor.

Xiao Longnu glanced over and saw that the wheel was on the floor, the threat from behind was taken away but her body was in midair, how could she avoid the enemy that was in front of her? She urgently waved out her silk belt, wrapping it around the pillar in the west and then pulled with all her strength, her body used this force to fly away towards the pillar, she smoothly and lightly slipped down behind the pillar, in the space of a hair’s breadth, she managed to avoid Fawang’s mountain shattering palm.

Jinlun Fawang had victory in his grasp but was again stopped by Yang Guo. Not only did the enemy get away, even his unbeatable weapon was knocked on to the floor by him; he has never experienced such a frustrating setback in his life. He originally was meticulous, wise and intelligent, yet right now he couldn’t stop himself from reacting without thinking. He didn’t wait for Yang Guo to get up and sent a palm chopping down on him.

According to his status as head of a school, what he was doing did not match how he had always thought of himself; Yang Guo was a junior, and he was on the floor when he sent out this palm, but in his great anger he couldn’t care less.

Guo Jing saw him staring angrily at Yang Guo, his shoulder was raised and arm taken back, Guo Jing knew that he was about to kill him, he called out in quietly, “Oh no!” If he took a step forward, he would still be able to block this attack but Yang Guo would still suffer a serious injury. In this urgent situation there was no time to think carefully, he used a stance of “Flying Dragon in the Sky”, his whole body leapt into the air, and attacked Jinlun Fawang’s head. If Jinlun Fawang didn’t take back this palm, though he would be able to kill Yang Guo, his life would be taken away under the matchless lethal and swift Dragon Subduing Palm. The force of his palm quickly turned around, he gave a ‘hei’ shout, and exchanged palms with Guo Jing.

This was the second time that two great masters of the present time exchanged palms. Guo Jing was in midair and had nothing to brace against, he used the opponent’s force and made a half somersault, landing backwards. Yet, Jinlun Fawang stood his ground steadily, his body didn’t sway and his legs didn’t shift, it was as if nothing had happened.

Hao Datong, Sun Bu’Er, Diancang Yuyin and the others knew about Guo Jing’s kung fu; after they saw this they all were shocked, that monk’s kung fu really is extraordinary. In reality, Guo Jing was just following the orthodox rules of martial arts by retreating backwards, naturally dispersing the enemy’s force.

After Yang Guo had interfered many times, Jinlun Fawang had lost face, he wanted to regain it back and so took Guo Jing’s palm; he actually consumed a lot of his chi and internal energy, though he looked like he was superior, he was suffering on the inside. The two of them are outstanding men of the world; it would be difficult to separate the two in tens of moves. Jinlun Fawang forced himself to take this stance without moving, his chest throbbed with pain again, luckily the aim of the opponent was just to stop him and he did not continue to attack. He closed his lips and eyes and circulated his internal energy, unblocking the motionless chi in his chest.

Yang Guo escaped death and picked himself up, he hurried to Xiao Longnu’s side, just as Xiao Longnu was about to come over and take a look at him. Both of them asked at the same time, “Are you okay?” The two nodded at the same time, a smile was on their faces, their hands held each other’s with joy in their hearts.

Yang Guo picked up the golden rod and placed the golden wheel on top, he rotated the wheel and it made ‘lang lang’ noises; he loudly called out, “All you Mongolian warriors listen; I’ve manage to take the weapon of your country’s great protector, how can you still talk about being the Chancellor of Wulin? Go and crawl back to Mongolia you Mongolian asses!”

None of the Mongolian warriors accepted what had happened, they saw that Jinlun Fawang was about to win in the duel between him and Xiao Longnu, the opponents came up with not only Yang Guo, but Guo Jing as well, they all called out, “It was Fawang who flung the wheel away himself, how could a little punk like you take it?” “One versus one” and “without the help of others!” “Correct, fight again,” They all made a clamor but it was all in Mongolian, apart from Guo Jing, no one understood what they were saying.

The heroes of the central plains were all reasonable and understanding people; they felt that when it comes to martial arts, Jinlun Fawang was indeed superior to Xiao Longnu. But they cannot allow a Mongolian to take the position of the Chancellor of Wulin; otherwise, the central plain’s Wulin would have lost all its face. Before it actually began, the spirits of the amassed heroes who planned to defend against the foreign invaders had been dampened. The younger members of the crowd also began to argue and shout. When they heard the clamor of the Mongolian warriors, they began to quarrel with them. Both sides raised their weapons; the situation was developing into a mass brawl.

Yang Guo raised the golden rod and golden wheel; he said to Jinlun Fawang, “You still won’t admit defeat? You have lost your weapons, what face have you got left? How can the world have a Wulin Chancellor whose weapon can be taken away by someone else?”

Jinlun Fawang was secretly circulating his internal energy right now, he heard every single word that Yang Guo said but he didn’t dare to open his mouth and speak.

Yang Guo looked at the situation and knew what was happening, quickly, he loudly said, “All the heroes please can I have your attention: I’m going to ask him three times, if he doesn’t reply then that means he admits defeat.”

He was afraid that as time passes, Fawang will have finished circulating his internal energy, he didn’t waste any time, he asked in one breath, “Did you or did you not lose? Are you still thinking about the position of the Chancellor of Wulin or not? If you don’t say anything then that means you admit defeat, right?”

Fawang had just finished ridding the motionless chi, the pain in his chest had cleared up, he was about to reply when Yang Guo saw his lips move, he quickly got in ahead and said, “Fine, since you’ve admitted defeat we won’t give you any trouble, you had better leave.” He then raised the golden rod and golden wheel and handed them over to Guo Jing. He actually wanted to hand them over to his Master but was afraid that Jinlun Fawang’s fury will erupt again; Xiao Longnu would not be able to block the attack.

Jinlun Fawang was so angry that his face swelled and turned purple. He was worried about how excellent Guo Jing’s martial arts were; his weapon has also fallen into the enemy’s hands. If he fights empty handed, it would be difficult for him to win. He also saw that there were many martial artists of the central plains here, if it became a mass brawl, their side would definitely lose. A good man doesn’t endure the suffering that’s in front of him, he could only retreat first and come up with another plan. He loudly said, “The barbarians of the central plains are crafty and sly, they win due to numbers, they are not heroes and good men, let’s go.” His left hand waved and the Mongolian warriors all headed towards the exit. He made a departing motion towards Guo Jing from faraway, he said, “Hero Guo, Chief Huang, today I have experienced your great skills. The mountains will remain green, the rivers will flow, and we will meet again.”

Guo Jing returned the gesture and bowed, he said, “Reverend’s martial arts are deep and profound, I respect your abilities deeply. Please take back the weapons.” As he said this, he offered the golden rod and wheel back.

Yang Guo loudly called out, “Jinlun Fawang, you are thinking about taking them back, do you want face?”

Guo Jing shouted, “Guo’er, stop talking rubbish.” Jinlun Fawang had already turned around with his sleeve floating behind, he didn’t look back as he exited the hall.

Yang Guo suddenly remembered something, he called out, “Hey, your disciple Huo Dou has contracted my poison, quickly bring the antidote to his poison and swap it with mine.”

Jinlun Fawang had always thought very highly of his own abilities; mysterious and divine martial arts, profound medical knowledge, he can cure any poison. He had an extreme dislike for Yang Guo because of his slyness and craftiness, he ignored what he said and left. Huang Rong saw that Zhu Ziliu had his eyes closed and was asleep, she considered that many of the people here are experts in using poison projectiles, there would be someone who has the ability to cure this poison, and she wasn’t too concerned with Jinlun Fawang’s refusal.

Now, the Lu manor was filled with thunderous cheers and calls; all of it was for Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu defeating Jinlun Fawang. Hundreds of people were around the two, one word here and another word there. Some said that Yang Guo defeated Huo Dou in the way he deserved, dealing with a man as he deals with you. Others said that the speed and ease of Xiao Longnu’s lightness kung fu was in a class of its own, actually managing to avoid the fierce and dangerous attacks of Jinlun Fawang. When it came to Yang Guo using the “Soul Altering Spell” to make Da’erba knock himself out, many of them did not understand what had happened. When someone asked about it, Yang Guo just made up a reply.

End of Chapter 13.
@Chapter 14 – Defending against Custom and Tradition
The banquet opened again at the Lu manor, wine and many dishes were once again prepared. Yang Guo had suffered a lifetime of wrongs, mistreatment and being looked down upon, and today he had displayed himself well. He got rid of his anger, everyone’s eyes were opened as he achieved great merit for the central plain’s Wulin, he was extremely proud of himself.

Xiao Longnu did not understand the ways of the world, though she didn’t understand the reason for Yang Guo’s delight, she too was extremely happy. Huang Rong liked her very much, she held her hand as she asked short and long questions, wanting Xiao Longnu to sit next to her.

Xiao Longnu saw that Yang Guo was sitting in between Guo Jing and Diancang Yuyin, faraway from her, she quickly motioned her hand and said, “Guo’er, sit next to me.”

But Yang Guo knew that girls and boys have their differences, at first when he saw her, he forgot about this and showed his true feelings, now in front of the glare of all these heroes, it would be improper to show this closeness again. When he heard her call out like this, he couldn’t stop himself from blushing and smiled slightly but he didn’t go over.

Xiao Longnu called out again; “Guo’er, why aren’t you coming?” Yang Guo said, “I’m fine over here, Uncle Guo is talking to me.”

Xiao Longnu’s elegant brows frowned and said, “I want you to sit next to me.”

When Yang Guo saw her angry expression, his heart shook, that slightly angry look made him feel if he were to die, he would die willingly. That day when he met Lu Wushuang, he used all his might to defend her against her enemies and protected her for thousands of miles because of the resemblance of her angry expression to Xiao Longnu’s. Now the real person is here, how could he defy her? He immediately stood up and went over to her place.

The way the two acted made Huang Rong slightly suspicious. She ordered another chair and asked Yang Guo; “Guo’er, who taught you kung fu?”

Yang Guo pointed to Xiao Longnu and said, “She is my Master. Auntie Guo, why don’t you believe me?”

Huang Rong knew that he was crafty and sly, she saw that Xiao Longnu was innocent and naïve, she thought that she wouldn’t lie so she turned her head and asked her, “Sister, his kung fu was taught by you?”

Xiao Longnu was very proud and said, “Yes. Tell me, did I teach him well?”

Huang Rong now believed it and said, “Extremely well! Sister, who was your Master?”

Xiao Longnu said, “My Master is dead.” As she said this, her eyes went red, she was feeling rather sad. Her Master had taught her to curb her emotions but now her love for Yang Guo had surfaced, the emotions buried deeply within her heart also started to slowly show.

Huang Rong asked, “What is your Master’s name?”

Xiao Longnu shook her head and said, “I don’t know, Master is Master.”

Huang Rong thought that she didn’t want to say, refusing to mention the matters involving their sect’s Master was common within the Wulin community so she didn’t ask further.

In reality, her Master was just Lin Chaoying’s maid, she only had the name that Lin Chaoying gave her, and even she herself did not know what her surname was.

At this time, all the heroes gave a toast towards Guo Jing, Huang Rong, Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu, celebrating the fact that they defeated such a strong opponent as Jinlun Fawang.

Because Guo Fu was always by her parent’s side, she had the respect of others, right now she was being overshadowed, and she couldn’t stop from feeling depressed. Apart from the Wu brothers by her side who revered her, no one took any notice of her. She felt annoyed, she said, “Big brother Wu, little Brother Wu, let’s go outside and play instead of drinking wine.”

Wu Dunru and Wu Xiuwen both agreed. The three of them stood up and were about to leave the hall when Guo Jing suddenly called out, “Fu’er, come over here.” She turned her head and saw that her father had changed places and was now sitting at the same table as her mother, smiling and signaling her over so she went and called out, “Father, mother!” and leaned on Huang Rong.

Guo Jing smiled and said to Huang Rong, “At first you were worried about Guo’er’s character and were afraid that his martial arts weren’t up to scratch, you can’t say anything now, can you? He has achieved a great merit for the heroes of Wulin, without saying that he hasn’t done anything wrong. Even if he had, it cannot compare to what he has done today.”

Huang Rong nodded, she smiled and said, “It was my mistake, Guo’er’s character and martial arts both are good, I am very pleased as well.”

Guo Jing heard that his wife had now agreed about their daughter’s marriage and was delighted, he said to Xiao Longnu, “Miss Long, your disciple’s father and I are sworn brothers. The Yang’s and Guo’s have had a great relationship for generations, I have a daughter, her beauty and martial arts are both passable…” He had always been straight forward, whatever is in his heart will be said.

Huang Rong interrupted, she smiled and said, “Ai ya, who praises their own child like that, you’re not afraid of making sister Long laugh.”

Guo Jing laughed and followed on, “I wish to betroth my daughter to your disciple. Both his parents have passed away, the responsibility of making the decision is now passed onto Miss Long. I want to take the opportunity with all these heroes here, to add another celebration on top of the last one. Let’s ask two heroes of a venerable age and eminent virtue to be the matchmakers, and arrange the marriage, how about that?”

Marriage is decided by the orders of the parents and the words of the matchmakers, the boy and girl don’t actually have a say. This is why, years ago, there was the matter of an arranged marriage decided by Guo Jing’s father Guo Xiaotian and Yang Guo’s grandfather Yang Tiexin for their children. When Guo Jing said this, he laughed out loud and looked at Yang Guo and his daughter, thinking that Xiao Longnu will definitely agree to this. Guo Fu was already embarrassed, her face was red and she hid in her mother’s arms, she felt this was inappropriate but she didn’t dare to say anything.

Xiao Longnu’s face changed slightly and before she replied, Yang Guo stood up and gave a prolonged bow to Guo Jing and Huang Rong and he said, “The gratitude that I have for Uncle Guo’s and Auntie Guo’s love and care would be impossible to repay. But nephew is from an ordinary family, my character is lowly, I am not worthy for your precious daughter.”

Guo Jing thought that because he and his wife are famous throughout the Wulin world, and his daughter’s character, beauty and kung fu are first class, now that he’s personally saying that he wants to betroth her to him, he thought he would definitely be ecstatic. He couldn’t have known that he would reject this, he couldn’t help being startled. Then had another thought; it must be because he is young, it was unexpected and he wanted to postpone it. Guo Jing gave a laugh and said, “Guo’er, the two of us aren’t exactly strangers, this matter involves your future, there is no need to be embarrassed.”

Yang Guo gave another deep bow to him and said, “If Uncle Guo has any other requests, nephew here will oblige without delay. But I dare not comply with this request of marriage.”

Guo Jing saw that his face was serious and he was surprised, he looked at his wife in hope that she would explain it.

Inside, Huang Rong blamed Guo Jing for being so straightforward. Without checking beforehand, he openly raised this matter in front of all these people, making a big mistake. She saw that the way Xiao Longnu and Yang Guo treated each other was like a couple in love, but they said they were Master and disciple, could it be that the two act in a manner contrary to the norm and have actually intermixed the relationships?

This was something that was extremely hard to believe, she thought that although Yang Guo may not be a man of honour, he would not do such a thing as this. The Song respect tradition above all; the relationship between Master and disciple were like that of an emperor and his minister, a father and son, they can never intermix. Though Huang Rong suspected it, this matter was so serious that she didn’t dare to believe it so she asked Yang Guo, “Guo’er, Miss Long really is your Master?”

Yang Guo said, “Yes!”

Huang Rong asked again, “You’ve kowtowed and gone through the ceremony of entering a Master’s tutelage?”

Yang Guo said, “Yes.” His mouth was replying to Huang Rong but his eyes were fixed on Xiao Longnu, his face filled with joy, tenderness, love and affection. Without mentioning how clever and wise Huang Rong was, even an ordinary person could tell that the two’s relationship was not a normal Master and disciple relationship.

Guo Jing did not understand what Huang Rong was doing, thinking, “He has already said that Miss Long is his Master, their kung fu is from the same school, what’s untrue about that? I was talking about our daughter’s marriage, why did Rong’er ask them whether they were Master and disciple again? Ah, he first entered Quanzhen sect and then entered another sect later on, though it’s not according to the rules of Wulin, it’s not that difficult a thing to clear up.

Huang Rong was secretly alarmed at Yang Guo’s and Xiao Longnu’s expressions, she signaled with her eyes towards her husband and said, “Fu’er is still young; why is there a need to rush things? Today the heroes of the world are amassed here, it’s more important to discuss how to protect the country. Let’s put aside our personal matters.”

Guo Jing thought this was correct so he quickly said, “Yes, yes. I almost put my personal affairs over public matters. Miss Long, we’ll carry on discussing Guo’er’s and my daughter’s marriage at a later date.”

Xiao Longnu shook her head, "I myself will be Guo'er’s wife," she said, "He cannot take your daughter as his wife."

Those two sentences were crisp and clear, hundreds of people in the hall heard this. Guo Jing was startled, he stood up and didn’t believe his eyes, he saw her holding Yang Guo’s hand, looking affectionate towards him, he had to believe it, he stuttered, “He’s… he’s your disc… disc… disciple, could it be that he’s not?”

Xiao Longnu had lived in the ancient tomb for a long time; she was not exposed to the sunlight, because of this there were no traces of color in her cheeks and her was skin permanently white. But right now her heart was filled with joy and delight; her face looked tender and enchanting, just like when a flower first blooms. She smiled and said, “Yes! I taught him kung fu but now his kung fu is as strong as mine. He loves me in his heart and I love him. Before…” As she reached this point she lowered her voice, though she was very innocent, the embarrassment and shyness of girls began to show, she said gently, “Before… I thought that he didn’t love me, he didn’t want me to be his wife, my… my heart was in unbearable pain and I thought death would be better. But today, I know that he really loves me, I… I…”

Hundreds of people in the hall were silent, listening to her revealing her feelings. Even if a girl is filled with love, how could she tell it all in public? And how could she tell it to Guo Jing who had nothing to do with it? But she does not know anything about customs, tradition and the conduct of others, she just felt that these words needed to be said and immediately came out with them.

Yang Guo was extremely moved by her words of love but he looked at the crowd, some were startled and surprised, some looked awkward and some did not approve. He thought that Xiao Longnu was too unknowing, she shouldn’t have said this in this place, he pulled her hand and stood up, he softly said, “Gu Gu, let’s leave!”

Xiao Longnu said, “Yes!”

The two of them headed towards the exit shoulder to shoulder, though the hall was filled with people, in Xiao Longnu’s eyes there was only Yang Guo.

Guo Jing and Huang Rong looked at each other startled, the couple had been through countless strange events, endured many dangers, but they could never have predicted what was happening right now. For the time being, they didn’t know what to do.

Xiao Longnu and Yang Guo were about to leave the hall when Huang Rong called out, “Miss Long, you’re the Chancellor of Wulin, everyone is under your command, you need to think this over.” Xiao Longnu turned her head and showed a smile, she said, “I don’t know how to be whatever Chancellor, sister if you want it, then you take the position.”

Huang Rong said, “No, if you want to elect someone else, then you ought to elect senior Chief Hong.”

The Chancellor of Wulin is the most revered position in the view of martial artists, but Xiao Longnu couldn’t have cared less and just replied, “Just do whatever you want, I don’t understand it anyway.” She pulled Yang Guo’s hand and headed for the exit again.

Suddenly there was a gust of wind, the candlelight swayed, and a person darted out. The person was dressed in a Taoist gown, a long sword in his hand; it was the Quanzhen Taoist Zhao Zhijing. He blocked the exit with his sword and said loudly, “Yang Guo, you disobeyed your Master and showed disrespect for Quanzhen’s founder, and today you have done such a monstrous thing, how can you still have the nerve to stand on this earth? As long as Zhao has one breath in him, I will not allow it.”

Yang Guo did not want to argue with this person in front of everyone, he deepened his voice and said, “Move!”

Zhao Zhijing said, “Apprentice brother Yin, come over, you have a say as well, that night on Mount Zhongnan we saw with our eyes two people naked, what’s all that about?”

Yin Zhiping stood up shakily, his left arm rose. People could see that the last two fingers on his hand were missing; though they didn’t know the intricacies of the situation, but judging from the way his body froze and the strange expression on his face, they knew that there must be something more to this.

That night, Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu were practicing the “Jade Heart Manual” in the flower thicket when Zhao and Yin saw them. Yang Guo had forced Zhao Zhijing to take up a venomous oath, he couldn’t tell this matter to a fifth person, how could he have known that today, Zhao Zhijing would belittle and accuse them without restraint in front of everyone, Yang Guo was extremely furious, he shouted, “You swore an oath, you are forbidden to reveal this to a fifth person, why are you now… why…”

Zhao Zhijing laughed and said loudly, “Correct, I swore I won’t reveal this to a fifth person but in front of me there is a sixth, a seventh. It’s not a fifth person when there’s hundreds and thousands present. Naturally, I can tell everyone about this immoral thing that you two did.”

Zhao Zhijing had seen the two naked, in the middle of the night in a flower thicket, how could he think that they were practicing advanced martial arts? It came out now due to anger, and he didn’t care if he was falsely accusing them or not.

That night, Xiao Longnu was so angry that she threw up a pool of blood, almost losing her life. Now she heard him twisting his words and arguing his way, she couldn’t stand it any longer, she stretched out her hand and lightly grabbed his chest, she said, “You’d better stop talking rubbish.” She had completed the “Jade Heart Manual” and now the palm came out of nowhere, that, plus the fact that the “Jade Heart Manual” is the Black Star (the matching opposite) of Quanzhen’s kung fu made the move extraordinary. Xiao Longnu’s hand had gone through Zhao Zhijing’s urgent attempt to repel it, grabbing his chest.

Zhao Zhijing blocked thin air and was startled, but the opponent’s palm just touched his chest briefly and then immediately departed, he didn’t feel anything and didn’t take it to heart, he chuckled and said, “Why are you touching me? I’m not…” Before he finished, he’s eyes suddenly went blank, a ‘peng’ sound was heard as he fell onto the ground, he had suffered a severe injury.

When Sun Bu’Er and Hao Datong saw their martial nephew hurt, they dashed forward to see his chi and blood had been forced upwards, his face was completely red as if he was drunk. Sun Bu’Er chuckled and said, “Fine, your Ancient Tomb sect really wants to start something with my Quanzhen sect.” She held out a long sword, about to start a fight with Xiao Longnu.

Guo Jing urgently got out of his seat and stood between the two, he said, “We’re on the same side, stop this fighting.” He said to Yang Guo, “Guo’er, both sides are your Master and elders. Advise them to return to their seats, and then we can quietly clear things up.”

Xiao Longnu had never thought that such a thing as not keeping to your word and breaking a promise existed, she was really troubled, she pulled Yang Guo’s hand with a frown, saying, “Guo’er, let’s leave, we won’t see these people ever again!” Yang Guo followed her lead and took two steps forward.

Sun Bu’Er’s sword moved and she shouted, “You’ve hurt someone and now you want to leave?”

Guo Jing saw that both sides were about to fight, he said seriously, “Guo’er, you must stop your feet, you must be a good person, don’t destroy yourself and your name. I was the one who named you; do you know what the word ‘Guo’ means?”

When Yang Guo heard this, his heart trembled, he suddenly remembered all the events from when he was a child, thinking about all the sad and painful events he’s been through, and then he thought, “How come it was Uncle Guo who named me?”

Guo Jing loved Yang Guo very much, it was unavoidable that he would want to plead and scold him deeply and severely. Today he saw Yang Guo show himself in front of all these heroes, he was feeling delight and content when he suddenly found out that Yang Guo had done something he should never have done. His heart was anxious and urgent, his tone was especially strict, he continued, “Your deceased mother must have told you this before, your name is ‘Guo’, what are the words that accompanies it?”

Yang Guo remembered that his mother had told him this before, but then he was young, no one had used these words in regards him, he himself almost forgot it. Yang Guo replied, “They’re ‘Gai Zhi’.”

Guo Jing said with a severe tone, “Correct, and what does it mean?” Yang Guo thought for a while and remembered the literature that Huang Rong had taught him when he was younger, he said, “Uncle Guo is saying that ‘if I have made mistakes then I must correct them’.”

Guo Jing’s tone now became gentler, he said, “Guo’er, people make mistakes, mistakes can be changed; this is the greatest advice. They are the words of the first virtuous men and sages. You’ve been disrespectful towards your seniors; this is a big mistake, think well about it.”

Yang Guo said, “If I was wrong, of course I would change. But he…” He pointed to Zhao Zhijing and said, “He beat me, insulted me, lied to me and hated me, how can he still be my Master? Gu Gu and I are clean and innocent, the day can be our witness. I respect her, and love her, could it be that’s wrong?” He said this boldly, with justice on his side.

Guo Jing’s intelligence and verbal ability couldn’t compare with his, how could he argue with him? But he knew that his actions were very wrong yet he didn’t know how to tell him clearly, he could only say, “This… this… you’re wrong…”

Huang Rong walked forward slowly and softly said, “Guo’er, Uncle Guo is looking out for your well being, you must understand this.”

Yang Guo was moved by her soft and gentle words; he lowered his voice and said, “I know that Uncle Guo has always treated me extremely well.” His eyes became red, he almost cried.

Huang Rong said, “He’s giving you sincere advice, don’t take this the wrong way.” Yang Guo said, “I don’t understand, what, exactly, have I done wrong?”

Huang Rong’s face sank and said, “You really don’t understand, or are you deliberately stirring things up?”

Yang Guo was angry in his heart, he thought, “You have treated me well, I have paid you back well, what more do you want from me?” He bit down on his lips and didn’t reply.

Huang Rong said, “Fine, since you want me to tell you the truth, I won’t go around in circles. Since Miss Long is your Master, she is your senior, you cannot be lovers.”

This rule was not unheard of by Yang Guo as it was by Xiao Longnu, but he couldn’t accept it; why couldn’t Gu Gu be his wife just because she taught him some kung fu? Why even Uncle Guo doesn’t believe that he and Gu Gu have done anything immoral? When he thought about this, his anger erupted. He was already someone who wasn’t afraid of neither heaven nor earth; now that he’s being accused, he was even bolder and loudly said, “What have I done that has hindered you people? Who have I hurt? Gu Gu has taught me kung fu but I still want her to be my wife. Even if you chop me up into a thousand pieces I will still want her to be my wife.”

These words shocked and startled those who heard it. The Song at that time adhered to customs and traditions strictly; where on earth have they heard such fearless, wanton and rebellious logic? The person that Guo Jing respected the most was his Master, when he heard this, his anger erupted and he dashed forward, stretching out his arm, grabbing his chest.

Xiao Longnu was shocked and stretched out her hand to block this grab. Guo Jing’s martial arts were much stronger than Xiao Longnu’s and now he was furious; he used all his strength, a lead and a wave and he had flung her over ten feet away. He stretched out his arm and grabbed Yang Guo’s ‘Celestial Charge’ pressure point; with his left hand raised he shouted, “You animal, you dare to say such heresy?”

Yang Guo’s lost all his strength by this grab, but there wasn’t a shred of fear in his heart, he said, “Gu Gu loves me with all her heart; I treat her the same way. Uncle Guo, if you want to kill me then do it. But I will never change my mind.”

Guo Jing said, “I treat you like my own son, I cannot allow you to do wrong and not change.”

Yang Guo said proudly and boldly, “I haven’t done anything wrong! I haven’t done anything bad! I haven’t harmed anyone!” Those words were like the sounds of metal clanging.

Everyone’s heart shook when they heard this; his words really did have some reason in them. If a Master and disciple didn’t say anything and they got married on some remote island or deserted location then no one would know about it, it would not affect anyone. But publicly announcing such a wrong really contradicts the mentality of the people of this time, and means becoming the scum of Wulin.

Guo Jing raised his palm and mournfully said, “Guo’er, my heart is in great pain, do you understand? I’d rather you die than let you do bad things, do you understand?” As he reached this point, his voice choked.

When Yang Guo heard him say this, he knew that if he didn’t change what he said, Uncle Guo would kill him with one palm. Though he was crafty and sly at times, at this point, nothing could compare with his stubbornness, he said clearly, “I know I haven’t done anything wrong, if you don’t believe it then kill me.”

Guo Jing raised his palm; what chance has he of living if the palm landed on his head? Everyone watched without making a sound, hundreds of eyes stared at his palm.

Guo Jing’s palm stopped in midair for a second and he looked at Yang Guo again. He was biting down on his lips, his brows wrinkled. What Guo Jing saw was the picture of his father, Yang Kang, from years ago. His heart ached and he let out a long sigh, he loosened his right hand and said, “Think well about what you’re doing.” He turned around and went back to his place; he didn’t take another glance at Yang Guo, his face was full of hurt and grief. He was extremely disheartened.

Xiao Longnu signaled to him with her hand and said, “Guo’er, these people are extremely unreasonable, let’s go.” She didn’t know that just now, Yang Guo’s life was hanging by a thread.

Yang Guo thought that the word ‘unreasonable’ was extremely apt, he stepped towards the exit, holding Xiao Longnu’s hand as they went out. Outside the manor, they lead the skinny horse along as they made their way.

Everyone watched their backs as they left, a few were shocked, others despised them, some were regretful and a number of them were angry.

Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu walked shoulder to shoulder; it was deep into the night now. The two of them had finally reunited with each other; all the things that had happened today, the heated battle, the arguments, they were all clearly forgotten. They felt as though they were in heaven right now; all those wasted days they had lived apart before were in vain. Now there was no need to worry about the days that were to come. The two of them were linked to each other by thought; they didn’t exchange a word as they walked on silently. The two arrived at a willow tree and sat down by the tree trunk. They gradually grew tired and fell asleep. The skinny horse was grazing on grass faraway, making quiet neighing noises.

The sky was bright when they woke up; the two looked at each other and smiled. Yang Guo said, “Gu Gu, where are we going?”

Xiao Longnu pondered for a while and said, “Let’s go back to the tomb.” Ever since she’d left the tomb she felt that, although outside was bustling and flourishing, it wasn’t as carefree and comfortable as the tomb. Yang Guo was deep in thought, “If I could spend the rest of my life with Gu Gu in the tomb, I would have no other desires.” Before, he longed for the outside world, hoping that she would let him leave the tomb but after going outside, he too longed for the quite life in the tomb. The two of them slowly started to head north. One still called the other ‘Guo’er’, the other one still called the other ‘Gu Gu’, and they both felt that being together and calling each other this way felt the most natural.

By midday, the two started to talk about Jinlun Fawang’s martial arts, they both said that his martial arts were excellent; it would be extremely hard to defend against it.

Xiao Longnu suddenly said, “Guo’er, we haven’t completed the final stage of the “Jade Heart Manual”, can you remember it?”

Yang Guo said, “I can remember it but we spent a lot of time pondering about it and still were unable to succeed; it seems like there’s something wrong somewhere.”

Xiao Longnu said, “Originally, I didn’t understand it but last night when the Taoist nun took her precious sword out, it allowed me to remember something.”

Yang Guo recalled the stance that Sun Bu’Er used last night and immediately understood, he called out, “Ah yes, yes, it requires the kung fu of the Ancient Tomb to be used simultaneously with the kung fu of Quanzhen, no wonder we’ve been going wrong.”

When Lin Chaoying developed the “Jade Heart Manual” alone in the ancient tomb, she wanted to defeat the techniques of the Quanzhen sect; but her love for Wang Chongyang still had not been extinguished. When she devised the final stage, she imagined that one day she would be fighting shoulder to shoulder with her lover. Because of this, the stage requires one person to use the techniques of the “Jade Heart Manual”, the other Quanzhen martial arts, mutually aiding each other and attacking together. That day, Lin Chaoying was filled with thoughts of love and affection, she was wrapped up in them; all those feelings were placed into this stage.

The pair of swords being horizontal and vertical is not the main aim; the most important aspect lies in fighting the enemy together hand in hand. But it wasn’t appropriate to mark this matter of the heart down clearly on the rooms ceiling. When Xiao Longnu and Yang Guo first practiced, their love had yet to blossom; they had no way to understand what their Ancestor Grandma sought. When they studied, both of them practiced the formulae of their own sect so of course they could not grasp the intricacies within.

Both of them now understood; they went and broke off a willow branch each, and began to study the stances. Xiao Longnu slowly used the “Jade Maiden Sword”, Yang Guo used the sword techniques of Quanzhen. After many stances, they felt that it was difficult to use them together harmoniously. The two of them did not envisage that when Lin Chaoying developed this particular swordplay, she was imagining herself fighting shoulder to shoulder with Wang Chongyang against an enemy. Every stance and move was designed to mutually protect the other. Right now, when Xiao Longnu and Yang Guo were studying it, they were treating each other as the enemy, thrusting and attacking each other. Killing the opposition was not what was intended. In reality, Lin Chaoying and Wang Chongyang were the first class fighters of the world at that time; there wasn’t anyone that was a match for just one of them. This particular set of unity kung fu didn’t have much use; it was just the unrestrained imagination of Lin Chaoying, showing her heart’s feelings. When she developed this swordplay her martial arts had already reached their pinnacle; the stances, postures and power were pressing, tight and continuous, not allowing a hair to be out of place. Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu did not understand the workings within and so, of course, it would be difficult for them to achieve this final level.

The two practiced for a while but still felt that something was wrong.

Xiao Longnu said, “It could be that we’ve remembered it wrong, let’s go back to the tomb and clarify things and then practice it again.”

Yang Guo was about to reply when suddenly the sounds of horse hoofs could be heard, and then a horse galloped past. The horse had red hair, the person on it was wearing purple, and they galloped past like the wind; it was Huang Rong who was riding on the little red horse. Yang Guo didn’t want to be troubled by the Guo family so he discussed with Xiao Longnu about changing paths and followed a small path instead so they won’t bump into them again. Xiao Longnu was the Master; but aside from martial arts, she didn’t understand anything else, she had no opinions. That night the two lodged in a small inn. Yang Guo slept on the bed, Xiao Longnu hung a rope across the room and slept on the rope. The two had decided to marry each other, but naturally they still followed the sleeping arrangements that they’d had in the tomb for years. After meeting again and practicing martial arts as they used to, when they thought about their loved one being by their side, both felt limitless delight.

By midday the next day, the two arrived at a large town. People were everywhere, horses came, carts went; it was a great atmosphere. Yang Guo took Xiao Longnu to a restaurant for something to eat; as soon as they went upstairs he was surprised as he saw Huang Rong and Wu brothers at a table eating.

Yang Guo thought that since they’ve met, it wasn’t inappropriate for him to pretend that he didn’t see them so he greeted them and called out, “Auntie Guo.”

Huang Rong frowned, her face looked anxious and worried, she asked, “Have you seen my daughter?” Yang Guo said, “No. Isn’t sister Fu with you?”

Before Huang Rong could reply, the stairs rattled, and a group of people came up. The first person was tall and slender; it was Jinlun Fawang. Yang Guo quickly turned around and didn’t carry on speaking with Huang Rong, he quietly went over to Xiao Longnu and whispered, “Turn your back, don’t look at them.”

But Jinlun Fawang’s eyes were very sharp, all the people upstairs entered his eyes, he gave a chuckle and sat down at a table. Yang Guo was about to turn his head around when suddenly Huang Rong called out, “Fu’er!” He couldn’t stop himself from turning his head, and saw Guo Fu sitting at the same table as Jinlun Fawang. Her eyes were staring at her mother but she didn’t dare go over.

After Jinlun Fawang failed in his plan at the Lu Manor, he was angry and couldn’t accept what had happened. He was trying to formulate a plan to turn defeat into victory; also Huo Dou had fallen victim to the Jade Bee needles. The poison was showing its effects; he tried many methods to cure this poison but none of them were effective. He had to find a way to get the antidote and so they didn’t go far and stayed in the area around the Lu Manor. It was Guo Fu who happened to meet danger; in the early morning she took the red horse out for a ride, meeting this great enemy at this time. He took her off the horse in one swipe. The little red horse was quick witted; it dashed back to the manor and hissed out in distress incessantly. Guo Jing and the others knew that Guo Fu had met with danger; they were alarmed and immediately went out to look for her separately.

Though Huang Rong was pregnant, she still went and took the Wu brothers along to search for her. They saw Yang Guo and his Master. They didn’t guess that it was Jinlun Fawang who was detaining Guo Fu; and then they too arrived at this particular restaurant.

When Huang Rong saw her daughter, she was happy but alarmed at seeing her in the hands of the enemy. After giving one call, she didn’t say another word. Holding a pair of chopsticks in her hand and waving them about on the table, and trying to come up with a plan to save her daughter. Just as she was pondering, Jinlun Fawang suddenly said, “Chief Huang, is this your lovely daughter? Yesterday I saw her in your arms, relaxing; it was really charming.”

Huang Rong gave a ‘heng’ sound, not replying.

Wu Xiuwen stood up and shouted, “And you’re supposed to be a leader of martial artists! You lost in the duel so you went to bully someone’s young daughter, aren’t you ashamed?”

Jinlun Fawang ignored his words and continued, “Chief Huang, when we dueled yesterday, we were clearly the winner yet you people made up a lot of excuses and complications; that is not the action of good men. First give me the antidote and then we’ll set a date for a duel; we’ll compete fairly and properly for the place of the Chancellor of Wulin.”

Huang Rong gave another ‘heng’ sound, not saying a word.

Wu Xiuwen said loudly, “First release Miss Guo; we’ll deliver the antidote immediately and there’ll still be time to discuss the matter of dueling again later on.”

Huang Rong glanced over at Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu thinking, “The antidote is on them, yet you hastily promised them the antidote without knowing whether or not they’ll give it to us.”

Jinlun Fawang said, “Could it be that only you know how to use poisonous projectiles? You people used a poisonous needle to injure my disciple. I can also prick your daughter with a few poisonous needles. If you give me the antidote, then I’ll cure her here. When it comes to releasing her, I’m afraid it won’t be easy.”

Huang Rong saw that her daughter looked normal, it looks like she wasn’t hurt, but the love between a mother and daughter is deep, she didn’t know what to do. There’s a saying; ‘worry then panic’; though she was matchless in terms of coming up with ideas and plans, right now, she was at her wit’s end.

She saw the waiter bringing dishes and wine to Jinlun Fawang’s table. Jinlun Fawang and the others ate heartily, talking and laughing. Guo Fu sat there frozen, just staring at her mother, not picking up her chopsticks. Huang Rong felt as if her heart was being cut open; she disturbed her internal chi and air and suddenly her lower abdomen ached. After Jinlun Fawang finished eating and drinking, he stood up and said, “Chief Huang, follow us.”

Huang Rong was startled and understood, not only is he going to take her daughter but he wanted to take her away as well. Right now everything was in place; she only had the Wu brothers at her side and they were not his match; she couldn’t stop her face from completely changing.

Jinlun Fawang continued, “Chief Huang, there’s no need for you to be frightened, you are an eminent person of Wulin, we will treat you with respect. Once a decision has been made about the position of Chancellor of Wulin, we will immediately return you to the south.”

When he saw Huang Rong upstairs, he knew he had a great opportunity; all he had to do was capture her and the martial artists of the central plains would have no choice but to submit. This was a hundred times better than capturing Guo Fu; this really was the deal of a lifetime that had landed on his lap. Huang Rong was worrying about her daughter and didn’t think about this possible situation.

The Wu brothers saw that their Master’s wife was distressed; they knew they weren’t a match but they couldn’t just sit there doing nothing. A pair of long swords was drawn out to protect their Master’s wife.

Huang Rong whispered, “Quickly jump out of the window, then go and find your Master for help.” The Wu brothers glanced at her and glanced at Guo Fu, then hurried to the window.

Huang Rong secretly cursed, “Idiot, how could you allow such a delay?”

Indeed, just a little delay and it was too late. Jinlun Fawang’s long arms came sweeping out, each arm grabbing the back of a brother, like an eagle catching two little chicks. The Wu brothers urgently thrust their swords back but Jinlun Fawang didn’t move out of the way; his arms swung a little, Wu Dunru’s sword was now heading towards his little brother, Wu Xiuwen’s sword was heading towards his big brother. They were startled; they quickly stopped the thrusts and flung their swords away. A ‘dang lang’ sound was heard as the swords landed on the floor with the Wu brothers avoiding injury.

Jinlun Fawang’s arms shook as he flung the two over ten feet away and said, “Just be obedient and follow me.” He turned his head towards Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu and said, “If you aren’t with Chief Huang then leave at your convenience, but don’t hinder my plans again. Your kung fu is excellent; take care and practice for another ten or twenty years, by then, you won’t have a match under heaven.”

He wasn’t actually praising them; he knew that although Huang Rong, Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu’s martial arts could not compare to his, if they fought together it would be difficult to handle them. Although he’ll win, he may not be able to capture Huang Rong. Because of this he deliberately tried to divide them, concentrating on the trunk and ignoring the branches.

He didn’t know that Huang Rong was pregnant and inconvenienced; he calculated that her extremely ingenious “Dog Beating Stick Technique” would make her a strong opponent.

Xiao Longnu said, “Guo’er, let’s leave! That old monk is really powerful, we can’t beat him.” All that she hoped for was to return to the ancient tomb and spend the rest of her life with Yang Guo. She did not care about the world’s blood affairs. When she saw Jinlun Fawang she was afraid and so immediately said what she was feeling. Yang Guo agreed; he stood up and went to the top of the stairs, thinking that, now that they’re returning to the ancient tomb, most probably he won’t ever see Huang Rong again. He couldn’t stop himself from turning his head around and giving her another glance.

He saw her face looked bleak, her left arm holding her lower abdomen, showing that she was secretly in pain. Yang Guo thought, “Uncle and Auntie Guo were rather meddlesome in not allowing me and Gu Gu to be together, but they did not have any ill intentions. Today Auntie Guo‘s in trouble, how can I just leave like this? But the enemy is too strong; me and Gu Gu fighting together won’t be a match for that Tibetan monk. I can’t save Auntie Guo, so why should I throw away mine and Gu Gu’s lives? It would be better for me to go and tell Uncle Guo and let him lead the rescue.”

Yang Guo took Xiao Longnu’s hand and moved his foot to walk down the stairs when he saw a Mongolian warrior going over to Huang Rong, coarsely saying, “Come quickly! Why are you delaying?” He stretched out his arm and grabbed her upper arm, treating her as a prisoner.

Huang Rong had been the Beggar Clan’s Chief for over ten years, her position and status was respected by all in Wulin. Although she is in a distressing situation today, how could she allow herself to be disgraced by this ruffian? She saw a pair of hairy hands reaching out towards her and immediately swept her sleeve. The sleeve covered his wrist as she flung out and a ‘hu’ sound was heard as the fat body of the Mongolian warrior flew out of the window, landing in the street, barely alive. Huang Rong didn’t want her hand to touch his wrist so she first covered his arm with her sleeve and then separated the sleeve throwing him away.

At first when they spoke politely, the people in the restaurant didn’t take much notice of them; when they suddenly saw a fight had broken out, the restaurant was in chaos.

Jinlun Fawang chuckled and said, “Indeed Chief Huang has great kung fu.” He copied the actions of the Mongolian warrior, stepping up to her and stretching out his hand to grab her arm. Huang Rong knew that he wanted to show off his martial arts; though he was using the same method, she could never do the same thing to him, she could only take a step back.

Yang Guo had taken a few steps down the stairs when he saw a struggle suddenly arising with Huang Rong about to suffer an insult; it stirred his heroic nature, he didn’t care about the dangers to himself, he flew over and picked up the sword that Wu Dunru dropped. He used a stance of “The Green Dragon Exits the Sea”, urgently thrusting towards Jinlun Fawang’s back. He shouted, “Chief Huang is carrying a child and you’re taking this opportunity to make your move, aren’t you ashamed?

Jinlun Fawang heard the noise of a blade cutting through air behind him, he didn’t turn around and turned his finger towards the dull side of the blade, striking it. A ‘dang’ sound was heard; Yang Guo’s arm trembled with numbness as the sword tip went downwards. Yang Guo quickly flew out of the way.

Jinlun Fawang turned around and said, “Young man, leave quickly! You’re young yet your martial arts are not weak, in the future you will be able to far exceed me. But you are not a match for me now, why come forward to die by my hands?”

Those sentences both praised and warned Yang Guo. Jinlun Fawang hated the two of them for knocking his golden wheel out of the air and interfering with this plans to take the position of the Chancellor of Wulin. Right now, he weighed up what was more important; capturing Huang Rong was the number one objective, he didn’t want to be distracted by other people. He hoped that Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu would leave this dispute and there’ll still be time for him to vent his anger on the two juniors later on. He calls himself a Hero of Tibet; not only are his martial arts frightening, his scheming ability was rather good.

Those words were neither haughty nor humble, yet were not deceiving either. Yang Guo was young and when he heard that in the future his martial arts would be much better than Jinlun Fawang, he was secretly pleased. He laughed and said, “There’s no need to be polite big monk, it’s not easy to reach a level as high as yours. Chief Huang raised me, so don’t give her any trouble. If she didn’t have an illness, your martial arts might not be able to defeat hers. If you don’t believe it, why don’t you wait until she recovers and then have a duel with her?”

He knew that Jinlun Fawang thought very highly of his martial arts; goading him like this might actually change his mind and he’d let Huang Rong go. How would he know that Jinlun Fawang was worried about Huang Rong, Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu joining together to fight him. That was why he was polite towards Yang Guo. When he heard these words he glanced at Huang Rong’s face; indeed her face did looked distressed, her illness was not light. He thought, “Why should he be worried about the threat of Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu?” He then gave a chuckle and went over to the stairs, he said, “You stay as well!”

Xiao Longnu stood on the stairs with Jinlun Fawang between her and Yang Guo; she didn’t like this and said, “Get out of the way monk, let him come down.”

Jinlun Fawang frowned, he sent a stance of “Opening the Tablet with a Single Palm”, his natural strength was already high, and attacking from above made this force even stronger. How could Xiao Longnu dare receive this stance head on? She was waiting for Yang Guo at the top of the stairs, she didn’t leap backwards; her legs lightly lifted, she used her amazing lightness kung fu to pass the opponent’s body to reach Yang Guo, standing shoulder to shoulder next to him.

When she was passing Jinlun Fawang’s side, he stuck out his elbow but it missed; he was in awe of the swiftness and agility of her movements. Yang Guo picked up Wu Xiuwen’s sword and passed it into her hand, he said, “Gu Gu, that monk is so rude, let’s give him a beating.”

A ‘qiang lang’ sound was heard as Jinlun Fawang took out a wheel from his gown; this wheel was the same size as his golden wheel but was dark green and was made out of iron. This wheel also had the Tibetan scriptures marked on it. He has a total of five wheels; golden, silver, bronze, iron and lead; when he met a strong enemy he really could send out all five wheels at once, but he had always used the golden wheel only. With it he had defeated countless strong enemies and because of this he received the nickname of ‘Jinlun Fawang’ (King of the Golden Wheel or Golden Wheel Monk). He had never used the other four wheels before so really, according to martial arts level he has reached, it should be ‘Wu Lun Fawang’ (King of the Five Wheels or The Five Wheeled Monk). In the Lu Manor, his golden wheel was taken out of the air by Yang Guo using the golden rod; now he took out his iron wheel and said, “Chief Huang, are you joining them as well?”

Though he saw that Huang Rong’s looked ill, he was still worried about her martial arts, he called her ‘Chief Huang’ to remind her of her status as the chief of a clan, joining up with others to fight one person would lower her.

Yang Guo called out, “Chief Huang is going home now; she hasn’t any time for you.” He turned around to Huang Rong and said, “Auntie Guo, take sister Fu and go.” He had made his decision; though he and Xiao Longnu would not be able to beat the enemy, they could force themselves to last a while. If it came to escaping, they would probably still be able to get away; luckily they weren’t fighting for victory but trying to escape from the devil’s grasp. So what if they had to run away pathetically?

He raised his sword and thrust towards Jinlun Fawang. Xiao Longnu saw that he was using the techniques of the “Jade Heart Manual” so she followed and attacked from the side; she hadn’t given any thought to it, when she saw Yang Guo attacking the monk, she too started to fight him to aid Yang Guo.

Jinlun Fawang used his wheel to block the two swords, but he didn’t like how cluttered the restaurant was, it hindered his movements. On one occasion he was fighting using his wheel, on another he kicked away the chairs and tables.

Yang Guo was thinking, “If we meet you head on, we’ll definitely lose; only by obstructing you will we last a little longer.” He saw that Jinlun Fawang was kicking away the tables and chairs, he did the opposite and pushed the tables and chairs in between them. His and Xiao Longnu’s lightness kung fu was superb, they darted around, not fighting the enemy properly; they would suddenly throw a jug of wine over, suddenly tip the dishes over causing the restaurant to be covered in wine and juices from the dishes.

Huang Rong took this opportunity to snatch Guo Fu back. After Da’erba fell under Yang Guo’s “Soul Altering Spell” he was out of it; sometimes he would be awake, sometimes in a daze. Huo Dou was seriously injured with the poison and the rest of the Mongolian warriors weren’t very skillful; how could they fend off Huang Rong? Yang Guo called out, “Auntie Guo, leave quickly!”

But Huang Rong saw that the stances of Jinlun Fawang were lethal; even if Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu used all their strength it would be difficult for them to defend against the attacks. As of now they were able to fend him off by fighting like this, but once Jinlun Fawang finds a weakness and then makes his lethal move, how could their lives remain intact? Huang Rong thought, “He’s risking his life for me, how can I look out for myself only and leave?” She stood at the entrance of the stairs, quietly watching the battle.

But the Wu brothers kept on urging Huang Rong, “Master wife, let’s go, you’re not feeling well, you need to take care.”

At first Huang Rong ignored them but when they kept on pressing her she said angrily, “What use is it to learn martial arts if you don’t behave with ‘heroic’ values? What use have you got living in this world? The one named Yang is a hundred times better than you. Huh, you brothers better think well about this.”

The brothers felt embarrassed, their good intentions dismissed just like that by their Master’s wife.

Guo Fu picked up the broken leg of a table off the floor and called out, “Brother Wu’s, let’s all fight him.” Huang Rong held her back and said, “Going up there with your lowly kung fu, do you want to die?”

Guo Fu pouted, not believing her mother. She saw that the stances that Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu weren’t anything special, sometimes their form looked Masterly but the sword stances weren’t at all lethal.

Every time Jinlun Fawang went to attack, the chairs and tables would impede him while Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu moved around vibrantly, flying here and suddenly darting there, fighting as they floated around.

He had a thought, he suddenly used the force in his legs, non-stop sounds of ‘ka la ka la’ were heard as the overturned tables and chairs were crushed and broken. He used the iron wheel in his hands to attack while his legs used the “Thousand Kilogram Fall”; the chairs and tables all broke wherever his legs were. After a while, the upstairs of the restaurant became covered by a layer of broken wood. The three of them battled on the debris without any obstructions.

Jinlun Fawang moved around in large steps, the iron wheel flashing around, ‘lang lang’ sounds were heard, his arms in motion as he attacked the two ferociously. There were now fewer tables and chairs in the way, so Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu had to use real martial arts to defend against him. Jinlun Fawang did not give an inch, on the fourth stance he smashed forward fiercely, a ferocious gust of wind rushed forward before the iron wheel even arrived.

Xiao Longnu and Yang Guo both thrust forwards, the sword tips striking the wheel, they were able to block this wheel with their combined strength but the swords were bent by the force.

The two used all their strength to repel the wheel, Yang Guo then thrust forward attacking the enemy’s upper body, Xiao Longnu cut urgently across the enemy’s left leg. Jinlun Fawang kicked out towards Xiao Longnu’s wrist, the iron wheel swerved and attacked Yang Guo’s neck. Yang Guo ducked and crouched to avoid the iron wheel. At that time, Jinlun Fawang suddenly let go with his right hand, the iron wheel dropped downwards towards Yang Guo’s head, at the same time Jinlun Fawang tried to grab Xiao Longnu’s shoulders with his free hand.

In just a flash of an eye, the two had fallen into great danger. Huang Rong gave an ‘ah’ cry and was about to go forward to save them when she saw Yang Guo swerve and fly just above the floor, before he touched down, the sword went towards Jinlun Fawang’s back. That stance achieved two aims at once, attacking and defending at the same time, solving the crisis he was in. He used the idea of ‘surrounding Wei to save Zhao’, and stopped Jinlun Fawang from attacking Xiao Longnu. This stance was called “The Wild Goose Attacks from the Side”, a technique from Quanzhen swordplay.

Jinlun Fawang gave a ‘yi’ call, before the iron wheel fell on the floor, the back of his right leg knocked against the wheel sending the wheel flying up with ‘lang lang’ noises, smashing towards Yang Guo’s head. In the midst of danger, Yang Guo had used a stance of Quanzhen swordplay which was surprisingly effective, so he used another Quanzhen stance, “The White Rainbow Traveling Across the Sky”, the flat side of the sword struck the wheel.

The sword was light, the wheel heavy, that attack originally had no chance, but the strike was just at the right place, fulfilling the martial art theory of ‘Four Liang Moving a Thousand Jin’, and the iron wheel changed directions, flying towards Jinlun Fawang’s head. Guo Fu clapped her hands as she watched with delight.

Jinlun Fawang dared to release his weapon because he thought that his enemies had no way to receive the wheel; if the opponent used their weapon to strike out against the wheel, even if it was a heavy whip or saber, once it meets the wheel the weapon will be knocked from the opponent’s hand. He could not have predicted that Yang Guo had the ability to redirect the wheel! Jinlun Fawang was furious, he caught the wheel and secretly used his spin technique and sent the wheel flying out again. This time his internal energy was more pressing, the wheel made no sounds because the iron wheel was spinning too fast and the spheres in the wheel could not collide with each other. When Yang Guo struck the wheel for the first time, he used the techniques of the “Nine Yin Manual” unwittingly, this time when he stretched out his sword to strike the wheel; a ‘dang’ noise was heard as the sword shook out of his hands. Jinlun Fawang immediately used “The Falling Obelisk Hand”, heavily smashing towards him. Yang Guo wasn’t completely familiar with the techniques of the “Nine Yin Manual”; this time the force he put behind his strike was incorrect. When Xiao Longnu saw Yang Guo was in danger, she twisted her trim waist and urgently thrust her sword forward. The force of this stance had an assured lethalness, the appearance attractive and extremely graceful; she was actually using the martial arts of the final stage of the “Jade Heart Manual”.

Huang Rong and her daughter watched with joy and both called out; “Wonderful!”

Jinlun Fawang took back his palm and leapt away, he used his wheel to fend off the sword. Yang Guo took this opportunity to recover his sword. Yang Guo really had escaped from the death’s clutches just now, but when one is at death’s door they are especially alert. He suddenly had a thought, “When Gu Gu and I both use the “Jade Maiden Swordplay”, it was difficult for us to defend against him. But when I used the “Quanzhen Swordplay” and Gu Gu the “Jade Maiden Swordplay” we actually managed to turn danger into safety. Could it be that the final stage of the “Jade Heart Manual” is used this way?”

He immediately called out, “Gu Gu, “The Traces of Waves at Heaven’s Cliffs”!” As he said this he slanted his sword and thrust forward.

Xiao Longnu didn’t give it much thought and followed his instructions and used the “The Traces of Waves at Heaven’s Cliffs” as stated in the manual, she waved her sword and chopped forward. The names of the stances are the same but they had a difference, one of them was a lethal sword stance from the “Quanzhen Swordplay”, the other a dangerous stance from the “Jade Maiden Swordplay”. When the two were used in unison, the power of it immediately increased to a frightening level.

Jinlun Fawang had no way to block both of the swords so he quickly moved back; two ‘chi’ sounds were heard as the swords thrust at his body. Luckily, he dodged appropriately, the two sword tips brushed past him and just made some holes in his clothes. He broke out in a cold sweat from the shock.

Jinlun Fawang urgently moved back another two steps to avoid the tip of the swords. He then heard Yang Guo call out, “‘Flowers under the Moon’!” The attack came downwards, like an icy wheel hanging in the air; a light glimmering crossed the floor. Xiao Longnu’s sword quivered, like a flower fluttering in the wind, cutting across to and fro, dazzling Jinlun Fawang’s eyes, he didn’t know where the attacks were coming from, he could only leap back to avoid it.

Yang Guo called out, “‘Drinking Wine Purely’!” The sword handle was raised, the sword tip aimed downwards, like raising a wine jug and pouring the wine. Xiao Longnu’s sword was the opposite, the tip aiming upwards towards her cherry lips, like raising a cup of wine and drinking it.

Jinlun Fawang saw that the sword stances of the two were becoming stranger and stranger, but they were matching each other; all the weaknesses of one were covered by the strengths of the other, and the lethal aspects of the stances were increasing without end. He was becoming more and more frightened, thinking, “The world is a large place, indeed there are many able people; how could I ever dream of such unimaginable swordplay in Tibet? Ai! I’m just a frog at the bottom of the well; I have seen little of the world’s heroes.” He was disheartened and looked even more like a defeated man.

Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu had studied this final level of swordplay many times without reward, now they were in extreme danger, the two of them concerned for each other. Both put the other’s life above theirs as they rescued their lover first, fulfilling the main aim of this swordplay. Every stance of this swordplay displays actions done by two, perhaps “Stroking the Zither and Playing the Flute”, or maybe “Sweeping Snow and Preparing Tea”, or perhaps “Playing Chess under the Pine” or “Exchange of the Cranes by the Pond”, all of them show a male and female together. The gracefulness and exquisiteness of the stances really was indescribable.

Lin Chaoying, lost in the game of love, spent the rest of her life in the tomb. She was versed in all the martial arts and literature, music and other arts; in the end she incorporated all the things she had learned in her life into this set of martial arts. When she was developing this set of martial arts, she was trying to comfort herself; how would she know that tens of years later, a pair of lovers would use this set of martial arts to fight off a strong enemy. This was something that she could never have predicted.

At first Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu did not completely understand the swordplay’s ingenuity but eventually as they kept on using it, their proficiency in the swordplay kept on getting better. If the male and female who used this set of sword plays weren’t lovers, there would be many aspects of the swordplay they would not be able to comprehend. The two would not have a feeling of being linked with each other. If it were friends who were teaming up they would be too polite, if it were a senior and junior it wouldn’t be suitable to rely on each other. However, if it were a husband and wife, they would be able to use some of the Masterly aspects of this swordplay, but without the feelings of being drowned in love, the shyness, the feeling of being close yet far, the pain of gains and losses, they would be a level lower. Now Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu were deeply in love but they had yet to marry, their hearts were concerned about the hardships of the future, they were joyous and sad, sweet and bitter, this feeling of gradually being linked with each other was what Lin Chaoying had intended to create when she developed the “Pure Heart of the Jade Maiden Sword”.

Huang Rong watched from the side and she saw Xiao Longnu’s cheeks going red, looking shy; Yang Guo would glance over at her all the time, returning her affection. Though they were fighting a strong enemy, they displayed their delights and joys, and the appearance of being deeply in love. Huang Rong couldn’t stop from being startled, but at the same time she was infected by the two and she began to remember feelings and events when she fell in love with Guo Jing.

The restaurant was filled with the noise of a life and death battle, but in the midst of this, unexpectedly, there were the boundless feelings of love showing.

Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu were now in tune with each other, it was even harder for Jinlun Fawang to defend. He regretted the fact that he had smashed up the chairs and tables earlier on, otherwise, with the table and chairs as obstructions, the enemies’ attacks would not be as lethal and swift. He saw that if he continued, he would definitely lose his life. He retreated down the stairs, step by step. Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu attacked from above and they saw that they were about to drive him away. Huang Rong called out, “Rid the evil completely, Guo’er, don’t let him go.”

She saw that the reason why Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu could beat Jinlun Fawang was because of this ingenious swordplay. It was somewhat fortunate that they had come up with this. If they spared Jinlun Fawang today and let a person with such abilities in martial arts go back and study for a way to defeat this swordplay, when the need to take his life arises again in the future, the task would be extremely difficult.

Yang Guo agreed and launched a fatal attack, “Cultivating the Chrysanthemum in the Little Garden”, “Speaking at Night at the Western Window”, “The Couplet in the Willow’s Shade”, “Bamboo Falling into the Pond”, when these stances came out, Jinlun Fawang nearly wasn’t able to evade these attacks let alone trying to counterattack.

Yang Guo had originally listened to Huang Rong’s instructions to take his life, but what he didn’t know was that when Lin Chaoying developed this particular swordplay, she was doing this to comfort herself, there was no intention to wound or kill the enemy especially with a heart filled with love. Though this swordplay was powerful, it did not aim to take the opponent’s life. Though Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu managed to force Jinlun Fawang to scramble around in a pathetic manner, taking his life was not an easy task.

Jinlun Fawang did not know about the background of this swordplay, he just saw that the opponent’s extraordinary stances folded in on each other, he knew that the enemy had yet to unleash their most powerful move. If the two attack, his old life would be lost. In this danger, a plan came into his mind; he used strength in his legs and snapped a stair step. He knew that with the obstruction of the hole in the stairs between him and the two, they would have no way to advance. By the time that a third step was snapped, the long swords could not reach his body.

Jinlun Fawang raised his iron wheel and said, “Today, I have seen the martial arts of the central plains, I am completely in awe. What is the name of your swordplay?”

Yang Guo said seriously, “The martial arts of the central plains are led by the “Dog Beating Stick Technique” and the “Donkey Piercing Sword”, our swordplay is the “Donkey Piercing Sword”.”

Jinlun Fawang was startled and said, ““Donkey Piercing Sword”?” Yang Guo said, “Yep, a swordplay that pierces bald donkeys.”

Jinlun Fawang then knew that Yang Guo was insulting him, he was furious and shouted, “Rude punk, you’ll get to know the power of Jinlun Fawang.” The iron wheel rang out with ‘lang lang’ noises as he left taking large steps.

All they saw was his body floating away quickly like a flash, disappearing in the shadows by the corner. Yang Guo knew it would be difficult to catch up; he turned around and saw Da’erba stand up holding up Huo Dou, his face pale. He said, “Senior apprentice brother, are you going to kill me?”

Yang Guo saw that the two looked pitiful; he said to Huang Rong, “Auntie Guo, should we let them go?” Huang Rong nodded. Yang Guo saw that Huo Dou looked like he was in unbearable distress; he took out a bottle of Jade Bee honey from his pockets and pointed to Huo Dou. He took medicine to Da’erba and gave the jar to him. Da’erba was delighted and he chatted with Huo Dou for a while.

Huo Dou took out a packet of medicine and gave it to Yang Guo, he said, “The Senior who used the pen fell under my poison nails; this is the antidote.”

Da’erba saluted Yang Guo and said, “Thank you Senior apprentice brother.”

Yang Guo copied his actions and smiled as he imitated his Tibetan, “Thank you senior apprentice brother.”

Da’erba was surprised, “Why did Senior apprentice brother call me Senior apprentice brother?” A thought went through his mind and then he understood, “He’s reincarnated as another person and is allowing me to be the senior apprentice brother; he doesn’t want to fight for this position with me.” He was even more touched and bowed deeply, he stretched out his arms and picked up Huo Dou and then left with the rest of the Mongolian warriors.

Yang Guo gave the antidote to Huang Rong and made a salute, he said, “Auntie Guo, nephew will leave now. Auntie and Uncle Guo take care.” He felt sad as he thought about how this would be the last time he would see her.

Huang Rong asked, “Where are you going?”

Yang Guo said, “Gu Gu and I are going to live in seclusion in a place where there will be no people, never leaving again to avoid bringing shame to your and Uncle Guo’s name.”

Huang Rong thought, “Today he has risked his life saving me and Fu’er, this is not a small deed; now I’m watching him going down this dark path, how can I not save him?” So she said, “There’s no need to rush, we’re all tired; we’ll rent some rooms and rest for the night, we could part tomorrow.” Yang Guo saw that she was earnest and sincere, it would be inappropriate to reject her offer so he agreed.

Huang Rong took out some money and gave it to the restaurant owner for the damages done, and then they went to an inn to rest. That night after supper, Huang Rong got rid of Guo Fu by telling her to go and talk with the Wu brothers; she called Xiao Longnu into her room and said, “Sister, I have something to give to you.” Xiao Longnu said, “What?”

Huang Rong pulled her in front of herself and took out a comb and brushed her hair, seeing her black silk hair hanging down across her shoulders, soft and shiny, extremely cute. She carefully rolled up her hair and removed a golden hair clasp from her own head and said, “Sister, I’m giving you this to wear.”

The gold hair clasp was exquisitely produced; the body of it resembled the stem of a rose, the stem and flower looped around; the place where it connected formed an unfolding rose. Huang Yaoshi collected countless treasures, out of them she had picked out this golden hair clasp of masterly artisanship.

Xiao Longnu had never worn any type of jewelry, to tie her hair she used a pine hairpin; though she saw the hair clasp was striking, she did not think anything of it, she just thanked her casually. Huang Rong fitted the hair clasp on her hair and then immediately chatted with her in a leisurely manner.

After talking to her for a while, she found that Xiao Longnu was very innocent and naïve, she didn’t know a thing about the ways of the world. Under the candlelight she saw her elegant and beautiful face, an extraordinary beauty; if she and Yang Guo weren’t Master and disciple, the two really were a great match. She asked, “Sister, you really love Guo’er, don’t you?”

Xiao Longnu beamed and said, “Yes, why won’t you people allow him to be with me?”

Huang Rong was startled, she remembered the times when she was young, her father wouldn’t allow her to marry Guo Jing, the Jiang Nan Seven Freaks called her a ‘little witch’, only after many trials and tribulations did she and Guo Jing finally marry. She saw that Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu really loved each other; could she make herself stop them?

But the fact is that they are a Master and disciple, if they become lovers it would be greatly unethical, what face would they have left with the heroes of the world? She gave a sigh and said, “Sister, there are many things that you don’t understand about the world. If you and Guo’er become husband and wife, others will look down on you for a generation.”

Xiao Longnu gave a slight smile and said, “What’s so important about others looking down on me?”

Huang Rong was startled again, she felt that her words had the same attitude as that of she and her father, a real feeling of ‘I do whatever I want’; not caring about the views of the world. When she thought about this, she nodded, such a character would not confine herself to the views of the world, but she then thought about the deep love and affection of her husband for Yang Guo. It wouldn’t matter whether Yang Guo was going to become her son in law or not, she just hoped that his character and morals would be perfect, so she said, “What about Guo’er? Others will look down on him as well.”

Xiao Longnu said, “He and I will live in a place where no one can see us for rest of our lives, happy for ever, why should we care about others?”

Huang Rong asked, “What place where no one can see you?”

Xiao Longnu said, “It is a large ancient tomb, I have always lived there.”

Huang Rong was stunned and said, “Could it be that you would live in there forever and never come out?”

Xiao Longnu was very happy, she stood up and paced back and forth across the room and then said, “Yes, why go outside? The people outside are so bad.”

Huang Rong said, “Guo’er has always roamed about since he was young, won’t he be bored staying in an ancient tomb forever?” Xiao Longnu smiled and said, “With me by his side, why would he get bored?”

Huang Rong sighed and said, “At first of course he won’t be bored. But after a few years he would start to remember the beautiful outside world, if he can’t come out when he gets older, he would be greatly troubled.”

Xiao Longnu was originally very happy and delighted; when she heard these words her heart sank and said, “I’m going to ask Guo’er, I don’t want to speak with you anymore.” She left the room.

Huang Rong saw that her beautiful face suddenly showed signs of being disturbed, her words just now had really hurt the heart of this innocent and naïve girl. She immediately felt rather regretful but she had another thought, she had seen many things but this pair of young lovers were deeply in love, even if these words aren’t nice to the ear, it’s the heart that matters. She thought, “What would Guo’er say?” So she quietly went over to Yang Guo’s window to listen to their conversation.

She heard Xiao Longnu ask, “Guo’er, would you be troubled if your spent the rest of your life with me? Would you get tired of it?”

Yang Guo said, “Why are you asking me again? You know that there isn’t anything more I want in this world. We’ll be together until we’re old, our hair white and our teeth falling out, we would still love each other as we do now, not ever parting.” His words were said earnestly and with real sincerity.

When Xiao Longnu heard this, her heart was moved, she couldn’t stop herself from being overwhelmed, after a while she said, “Yes, my feelings are the same.” She took out a rope from her bag and hung it across the room, she said, “Go to bed!”

Yang Guo said, “Auntie Guo said, tonight you should go and sleep in the same room as she and her daughter, I with the Wu brothers in another room.”

Xiao Longnu said, “No! Why does she want two boys to be with you? I want to be with you and sleep with you.” She waved her hand out and extinguished the oil lamp.

When Huang Rong heard these words outside, she was extremely startled, “Those two really are doing such things! Then the words of that old Taoist Zhao Zhijing weren’t a lie!”

When she thought about the two of them sleeping together on the same bed, she felt that it would be inappropriate to eavesdrop on them and was about to leave when she suddenly saw a white flash going across the room. Someone was lying in midair, after moving for a bit, they stopped. Huang Rong was surprised and used the moonlight in the room to see what was going on. She saw Xiao Longnu lying on a rope in midair while Yang Guo slept on the bed. Though the two slept in the same room, they kept their respect. Huang Rong stood in the courtyard, she felt that the actions of these two were greatly different to others, it really was difficult to discuss their rights and wrongs.

She stood there for a while and was about to enter her room to rest when she heard footsteps, Guo Fu and the Wu brothers had returned. Huang Rong said, “Dun’er, Xiu’er, you brothers go and get another room to rest in, don’t stay with brother Yang.” The Wu brothers agreed.

Guo Fu asked, “Mother, why?”

Huang Rong said, “It’s none of your business.”

Wu Xiuwen laughed and said, “I know why. Those two are a Master and disciple yet they aren’t; that dirty couple is sleeping in the same room.”

Huang Rong reprimanded him; “Xiu’er, what dirty things are you saying?”

Wu Dunru said, “Master wife, you are too kind, why should you care about those sorts of people? I won’t speak to him.” Guo Fu said, “Those two saved us; that was a great deed.”

Wu Xiuwen said, “Huh, I rather die by the hands of Jinlun Fawang than suffer a favour from animals.” Huang Rong didn’t look happy, she said, “Stop talking, go and rest.”

Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu heard all this. Yang Guo had never gotten on with the Wu brothers ever since they were kids; he just snickered and didn’t take it to heart.

But Xiao Longnu was carefully thinking, “Why is it that if Guo’er and I are together, he becomes an animal and us a dirty couple?” She couldn’t grasp this and in the middle of the night she woke Yang Guo up and asked, “Guo’er, there is one thing that you must answer truthfully. After living with me in the ancient tomb for a few years, would you start to think about the outside world?”

Yang Guo was startled and didn’t reply for a while. Xiao Longnu continued to ask, “If you don’t go out, would you become troubled? Though your love for me will never change, would you get bored living in the tomb for such a long time?”

Yang Guo felt that it was difficult to answer these questions, as he thought about it, living with Xiao Longnu forever really would be better than living as a god; but in a cold and dark tomb, even if he didn’t get tired of the tomb in ten or twenty years, what about in thirty years? What about forty years? Replying casually, “I would never get bored” would be easy but he has always been frank and true towards Xiao Longnu, he had never said half a lie to her. He pondered for a while and said, “Gu Gu, if we get bored and tired of living in the tomb, we’ll go out together.”

Xiao Longnu gave an ‘en’ sound, not saying anymore. She thought, “Mrs. Guo’s words weren’t a lie. In the future he will get bored and will leave the tomb, and then everyone will be looking down on him, how can he live like that? Why do people look down on him if he and I get together? It looks like I’m an ominous person. I love him, I care for him; I would give my life for him. But these feelings will lead him to have an unhappy life; it looks like it would be better for him not to marry me. It must be for that reason that he refused to agree to marry me that night on Mount Zhongnan.”

She kept on going over this in her mind for a long while. Yang Guo’s breathing slowed; he was in deep sleep. Xiao Longnu leapt down lightly and went to his bedside, she stared at his handsome face, her heart was in a mess, her emotions kept on turning over, she couldn’t stop tears from flowing.

Yang Guo woke up the next morning and felt his shoulder and head was wet; he was slightly surprised and saw that Xiao Longnu wasn’t in the room. He sat up and saw some words carefully carved on the table with a golden needle.

‘Take care, forget about me.'

Yang Guo’s mind immediately became a confused; he stood there stunned and was at his wit’s end. He saw that the tears on the table had yet to dry, the dampness on his shoulder and head were also caused by her tears. He wasn’t thinking straight, he opened the window and leapt out, calling out, “Gu Gu, Gu Gu!”

The waiter of the inn came over to serve him. Yang Guo asked him when the girl in white left and which direction she headed in. The waiter stared at him; he didn’t know how to reply. Yang Guo knew that the opportunity to find her was ever diminishing, if he can’t find her today; then there may not be a chance to see her ever again. He went to the stables and leapt onto the skinny horse. At this time, Guo Fu came out of her room and asked, “Where are you going?”

Yang Guo heard but didn’t reply, he hurried to the main road and galloped north, in a short while he had gone over tens of li. He kept on calling out, “Gu Gu, Gu Gu!” on the way but where was Xiao Longnu?

After a little while, he saw Jinlun Fawang and his followers on horseback heading west. They all felt shocked when they saw him riding by himself. Jinlun Fawang pulled his reigns and galloped towards him.

Yang Guo had not brought a weapon with him, meeting the enemy like this was extremely dangerous but the only thing on his mind right now was Xiao Longnu, he didn’t even consider his own safety. When he saw Jinlun Fawang coming towards him, he actually turned his horse towards him and went forward to meet him, he asked, “Have you seen my Master?”

Jinlun Fawang was surprised that he didn’t run away, he was even more startled when he heard him ask this, he casually replied, “No, isn’t she with you?”

At first both of them didn’t really think too deeply as they asked and replied, but shortly after, both of them thought about how Yang Guo, being by himself, was not a match for Jinlun Fawang. The two of them looked each other in the eye and both knew. Yang Guo kicked his legs as Jinlun Fawang sent out a hand to grab him. But the skinny horse was exceptionally spirited; it galloped like the wind past him. Jinlun Fawang tried to catch up but Yang Guo and the horse had galloped afar, it would be difficult to catch up with him. Jinlun Fawang had a thought and reigned in his horse, “Since he and his Master has separated, what more have I got to be afraid of? If Chief Huang hasn’t gotten far… ha-ha...!” He then gathered his men and led them back.

Yang Guo searched for another while and still there was no trace of Xiao Longnu within tens of li. Emotions stirred in his heart, he felt dizzy and shaky and almost fainted on the back of the horse. He thought with sadness and lamented, “Why did Gu Gu leave me again? How have I offended her again? She cried many tears before she left, she’s not angry with me.” He suddenly thought of something, “Ah, yes, it must be because of what I said about getting tired of the ancient tomb, she thought that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life with her.” His eyes glistened as it became clear as to what he should do, “She’s returning to the tomb. I’ll just go back and be with her.” Yang Guo’s tears turned into smiles and he flipped over a few times on the horse’s back.

Now, as the horse dashed and galloped, he wasn’t thinking straight and didn’t clarify which direction he was heading in. Then he settled down, he determined where north was and turned the horse around and headed for Mount Zhongnan. The more he thought about it the more he believed this was most likely as to where she would be. Most of the pain and despair had now disappeared. He opened his mouth and sang a mountain song.

After midday, he arrived at a small roadside eating place. He finished eating some buns but remembered that when he left in a rush, he forgot to bring money with him. When the owner of the shop was off guard, he quickly leapt onto the horse and galloped away. He heard the insults of the owner from faraway, but what could he do to Yang Guo? He couldn’t stop himself from laughing inside.

He continued traveling until ‘shen pai shi fen’ (evening), all he saw in front of him now was a dense, dark and deep forest, shouts and insults could be heard from within the forest. He was slightly alarmed and listened closely; it was the voices of Jinlun Fawang and Guo Fu.

He knew something was wrong and leapt off the horse. He placed the reigns on the saddle and hid behind trees. He slowly followed the voices and after about a hundred feet or so, he saw Huang Rong and her daughter with the Wu brothers fending off Jinlun Fawang in a pile of jumbled rocks deep in the forest. He saw bloodstains on the faces and clothes of the Wu brothers, Huang Rong’s and Guo Fu’s hair was in a mess, and they looked wretched. It appeared that if it wasn’t for the fact that Jinlun Fawang wanted to keep them alive, they would have long ago died by his iron wheel.

Yang Guo watched for a while and thought, “Gu Gu is not here, if I go up and help them I could lose my life for no reason. What should I do? How can I save Auntie Guo? He suddenly saw Jinlun Fawang send his wheel smashing out; Huang Rong had no way to receive this attack and retreated backwards behind the pile of rocks. Jinlun Fawang hovered around the outside of the rocks, he actually couldn’t attack her.

Yang Guo was surprised, he took a closer look and saw that Guo Fu and the Wu brothers also relied on the rocks to avoid danger, in the midst of this danger all they had to do was hide behind the rocks. Da’erba and the others circled from afar, they could close in from any direction; at that time, Guo Fu and the others would hide behind another pile of disorderly rocks.

Yang Guo was extremely surprised, those normal looking pile of rocks actually had such an ingenious use; it really was uncanny. It looked like Huang Rong and the others would be safe from danger but there was no way for them to leave the rock formation.

Jinlun Fawang kept on attacking without stop, though he managed to injure the Wu brothers, it wasn’t life threatening, and on their side, one of the Mongolians died by Guo Fu’s sword. He saw that there was something strange with this pile of rocks formed by Huang Rong; he first had to grasp and see through the theories behind it before he could get to the four.

He had always thought highly of his intelligence, it’s not too urgent at the moment since they can’t escape his clutches. Once he’s seen through this formation he’ll break into it and capture them, showing his power. So he waved out his left hand and ordered his men back, he also retreated back ten feet or so, staring at and studying the rock formation. Most formation uses variations of the ‘Wu Xing Ba Gua’ trigram; Jinlun Fawang was well versed with these types of tactics, he thought that although the formation was strange, it won’t be too far off from the theories of the five elements.

He studied it for a long while, when it looked like he saw through an aspect of the formation, he pondered on it further and it then didn’t make sense. The left wing was correct but the right wing changed, when he seemingly saw through the front of the formation, it was difficult to understand the back of it. He was taken aback by this, he was startled and in awe. He excelled in everything, a real outstanding person of the world; with this difficult problem in front of him, he wanted to rely on his own intellect to solve it.

Yang Guo watched as Jinlun Fawang stood there without moving, his eyebrows raised; suddenly his eyes glistened and he flashed over, breaking into the formation, grabbing Guo Fu’s arm and quickly retreated. Huang Rong and the brothers were extremely shocked with this sudden change of events. They were at their wit’s end, if they left the formation to rescue Guo Fu, they would definitely suffer under his hands.

What had happened was that Guo Fu became careless when she saw the enemy frozen like that; she didn’t follow her mother’s instructions as to where to stand and was out of the formation’s protection. When Jinlun Fawang saw this opportunity he immediately went over and captured her; he then sealed a pressure point on the side of her body and placed her down on the ground. He deliberately kept her mute pressure point unsealed, letting her call out and plead, wanting her to agitate Huang Rong into exiting the formation.

Guo Fu felt her body ache unbearably and she couldn’t stop herself from calling out. How could Huang Rong not know what the enemy was planning, but when she heard the calls of her daughter, her heart ached unbearably, she could only bite down on her lips and endure it.

From behind a tree Yang Guo understood what was happening. He saw Huang Rong raising her stick, about to come out from the rock formation and rescue her daughter; this was extremely dangerous, he didn’t give it much thought and suddenly leapt out and grabbed Guo Fu from behind, throwing himself forward into the rock formation.

Jinlun Fawang’s iron wheel flew out towards Yang Guo’s back. Yang Guo was in midair, it would be difficult to dodge this attack; he pushed Guo Fu towards Huang Rong and used the “Thousand Kilogram Fall”. His body dropped straight down and fell down solidly onto the pile of rocks, he heard the ‘qiang lang lang’ sound of the iron wheel brushing past his head, the wheel circled around and came back into Jinlun Fawang’s hand.

Huang Rong hugged her daughter lovingly. She saw Yang Guo pick himself up from the rocks, his eyes were green and nose bruised, she quickly stretched out her stick and led him into the formation.

Jinlun Fawang’s plan had failed and again it was due to Yang Guo, but instead of being angry he was actually pleased, he gave a chuckle and said, “Fine, coming here now saves me the trouble of finding you later on.”

Yang Guo risked his life for this rescue out of righteous indignation; only after entering the formation did he see that by doing this, his life would most probably end soon. He would never have the opportunity to see Xiao Longnu ever again. He couldn’t stop himself from feeling regret.

Huang Rong asked, “Where’s your Master?”

Yang Guo gloomily said, “She suddenly left in the middle of the night, I was in the middle of searching for her.” Huang Rong sighed and said, “Guo’er, why did you have to risk your life again?”

Yang Guo gave a bitter laugh and shook his head, he said, “Auntie Guo, I’m not too bright, once my emotions get the better of me I can’t control myself.”

Huang Rong said, “Good child, you have a great heart, your father…” She stopped mid sentence. Yang Guo’s voice trembled, “Auntie Guo, my father was a bad person, wasn’t he?”

Huang Rong’s head hung down and said, “You want to know about it?” She suddenly called out, “Careful, come over here!” She pulled him over two piles of rock and avoided Jinlun Fawang’s sneak attack.

Yang Guo took a look at the rock formation in awe, he said, “Auntie Guo, there isn’t anyone one else in the world who has your intelligence and wisdom.”

Huang Rong unsealed her daughter’s pressure point and massaged her; she gave a slight smile but didn’t reply. Guo Fu said, “What do you know? My grandfather taught my mother’s skills. My grandfather is as intelligent.”

Yang Guo had seen the handwriting and articles of Huang Yaoshi before when he was on Peach Blossom Island but then he was young, he didn’t understand the intricacies within it. When Guo Fu reminded him, he nodded and drifted away, he sighed and said, “When will I be able to greet this Senior? If I do my life won’t be all in vain.”

Suddenly Jinlun Fawang charged past two rock formations and attacked. Yang Guo didn’t have a weapon and quickly picked up the stick that Huang Rong had flung on the ground and dashed out to stop him, he sent out two strokes with the stick, using the “Dog Beating Stick Technique”. Jinlun Fawang saw that his stick technique was profound, he concentrated and fought with him, after a few stances, both of them suddenly tripped up on the jumbled rocks, both stumbled. Fawang was afraid that he would be ambushed and leapt out of the formation.

Huang Rong led Yang Guo back and ordered Guo Fu and the Wu brothers to move the stones and change the formation. She asked Yang Guo, “Where exactly did you learn this stick technique from?”

Yang Guo told her the truth about how he met Hong Qigong on Mount Hua, how the Northern Beggar dueled with Western Poison, how Hong Qigong taught him the “Dog Beating Stick Techniques”. He then told her of the passing of both Hong Qigong and Ouyang Feng.

Huang Rong felt deep sorrow at this news, but then sighed and said, “You’ve come upon such extraordinary meetings; it really is rare to come across such events.” She suddenly had a thought, and said, “Guo’er, you are very clever, think of a way to escape today’s dangers.”

Yang Guo looked at her, judging from her expression she had already thought of a plan, he pretended he didn’t know and said, “If you were feeling well, me and you could beat Fawang; or if we could get my Master to come here, then that would be a way as well.”

Huang Rong said, “How can my health recover over such a short period of time? We don’t know where your Master has gone. I have another plan; it involves the rock formation. This formation was devised by my father, there are hundred of variations; we haven’t used even twenty percent of them yet.” Yang Guo was shocked and pleased, he sighed in awe as he thought about the knowledge that Huang Yaoshi possessed.

Huang Rong said, “My Master only taught you the stances of the “Dog Beating Stick Technique”, and you’ve only heard the main points of the formulae while you hid in the tree. I’m now going to teach you all the profound and subtle variations and changes of this technique.”

Yang Guo was delighted but he pretended to dismiss this, he said, “I’m afraid that won’t do, the “Dog Beating Stick Technique” is passed onto the Beggar Clan’s Chief only, it has never been passed onto an outsider.”

Huang Rong rolled her eyes, she said, “What are you trying in front of me now? My Master has taught you thirty percent of this technique, you learnt another twenty percent when you eavesdropped, today I’ll teach you another twenty percent. The final thirty percent relies on your intelligence and how you grasp and understand the technique; no one can teach you this. One, no one is teaching you the whole thing, two, today’s situation is desperate, just follow the order.”

Yang Guo knelt down on the ground and bowed to her, he smiled and said, “Auntie Guo, when I was young you said you were going to teach me martial arts, today you are teaching me.”

Huang Rong gave a subtle smile and said, “You’ve always bitterly kept this in your heart, haven’t you?” Yang Guo said, “How would I dare?”

Huang Rong then quietly imparted all the aspects of the “Dog Beating Stick Technique” to him.

From outside the rock formation, Jinlun Fawang saw Yang Guo kowtowing to Huang Rong, the two of them laughed as they talked, he didn’t know what on earth they were trying now. It appeared that they were confident about the situation, and it looked like they weren’t even giving him a second thought. Though he was angry, he had always been careful and meticulous; though he knew that their martial arts could not compare with his, the two of them are extremely crafty. Why should he be careless and fall into their traps? He wanted to see through what they had in mind and then make his decision.

Luckily, he slowed his attacks; without the distraction of the enemy, Huang Rong passed on everything to Yang Guo in under an hour’s time.

Yang Guo’s intelligence and perception was a hundred times better than Lu Youjiao; if you asked him one thing he knew ten, if you ask him to raise one point he raised three. He had spent a great deal of effort in learning this technique and had pondered hundreds of times on the things he didn’t understand. Because of this fact, when Huang Rong advised and pointed him in the right direction, he immediately understood and grasped everything about the technique.

From afar, Jinlun Fawang saw that Huang Rong looked at ease, her lips moving slightly yet Yang Guo was scratching his ear and touching his cheeks; he didn’t know what the two were conjuring up, most probably it wasn’t to his best interests, he should break up their conversation.

After listening to the important aspects, Yang Guo asked ten or so difficult questions. Huang Rong explained it all to him. She said, “Good, since you can ask these questions then that means you understand a great deal. The second stage is to trap the monk in the formation.”

Yang Guo was startled and said, “Capture him?”

Huang Rong said, “What’s so hard about that? With you and I teamed up, we’ve got more intelligence and strength than needed. Right now, I’m going to explain the key points of this rock formation to you. You most probable won’t be able to understand it in such a short time but luckily you have a great memory, all you’ve got to do is remember thirty six different types of changes.” She then started to list them: how the green dragon appears as the white tiger, how the black forces transforms into the vermillion sparrow. The rock formation was derived from Zhuge Liang’s ‘Central Map of the Eight Formations’. Years ago, Zhuge Liang had set up a formation on the shores of the Changjiang River using stone slabs. After Dong Wu’s general Lu Xun entered the formation, it was difficult for him to escape.

Now, Huang Rong had set up one of Zhuge’s methods, but because time was pressing, Huang Rong did not set up the formation completely, however only a few things were missing. Even so, the formation disturbed Jinlun Fawang, he stared at the five of them but he didn’t dare make a move.

The thirty-six variations of this formation were very complicated, even with Yang Guo’s intelligence he could only remember ten or so changes.

It was now evening, Jinlun Fawang slowly waited to make his move.

Huang Rong said, “With these ten or so changes; it’s enough to trap him. Go out and lure him into the formation, I’ll then change it and trap him in there.

Yang Guo was delighted and said, “Auntie Guo, if I visit Peach Blossom Island again, would you be willing to teach me this type of skill?”

Huang Rong gave a smile, and said, “If you are willing to visit the island, why wouldn’t I be willing to teach you this? You risked your life and saved Fu’er and I twice now, could I still treat you the same way as before?”

When Yang Guo heard this, he was filled with an extremely relaxed and comfortable feeling throughout his chest; what does it matter whether Huang Rong teaches him or not? He felt that even if he had a hundred deaths he would not have any regrets. He raised his bamboo stick and exited the formation calling out, “Rusty old Jinlun Fawang if you’ve got guts then come over and go through three hundred stances with me!”

Jinlun Fawang was worried that they had planned something in the formation to ambush him; he couldn’t have asked for more when he saw Yang Guo coming out of the formation. The iron wheel rang ‘qiang lang lang’ as he chopped out. He was afraid that Yang Guo would escape back into the formation if he started to lose; after the first two stances, he had already blocked his path back, forcing him as far away from the formation as possible.

How could he know that after Yang Guo learned the important aspects of the “Dog Beating Stick Technique” his technique was superb? When he used the eight key formulae of ‘trip’, ‘chop’, ‘coil’, ‘poke’, ‘stir’, ‘seal’, ‘lead’ and ‘turn’, the variations and changes were indeed subtle and ingenious. When he made a careless attack, Yang Guo poked him in the leg, though he managed to shut his pressure point to the danger and stop injury, the pain lasted a long time.

He didn’t dare be careless after he suffered that attack, he spun his wheel and concentrated on the battle; though his opponent was just a young man in his teens, he treated him as formidable enemy. He attacked with respect and defended tightly, looking upon him as a great Master.

When he did this, Yang Guo immediately felt he couldn’t hold on; though the “Dog Beating Stick” was ingenious, it is difficult to perform straight after learning it. Yang Guo used the ‘seal’ formulae to block the attack of the iron wheel and then shifted his legs, suddenly going east and then surging west.

Jinlun Fawang followed the changes of his bamboo stick, he felt that it was about time to act. When he saw Yang Guo surging and attacking away from the formation Fawang kept on moving backwards to lure him as faraway from the formation as possible. He didn’t predicted that after moving back over ten or so steps, his right leg suddenly tripped over a large rock; he had unwittingly been lured into the formation.

He knew something was wrong. He then heard Huang Rong call out, “The Vermillion Sparrow Displaces the Green Dragon, the ‘Xun’ position changes to the ‘Li’, wood into water.”

Guo Fu and the Wu brothers shifted the rocks and changed the formation. Jinlun Fawang’s face lost it’s colour from shock, he stopped his wheel to inspect the surroundings, while Yang Guo’s bamboo stick coiled its way around towards him. Though Yang Guo’s “Dog Beating Stick Technique” wasn’t good enough to meet him head on, it was more than enough to confuse and distract him. Fawang’s legs were tripped up a few times and he almost couldn’t stand up. He knew that this formation was powerful, the longer he was in it the more confusing it became. In this danger he shouted and leaped up on top of a pile of rocks. Normally, being on top of the rocks keeps one from being trapped and confused by the formation and allows them to regain their sense of direction. He thought that if he went forward in a straight line he will be able to get out of the formation. But he didn’t know that he just went from east to west, north to south, and had circled around a couple of times over an area of a hundred feet. Eventually his vigor was depleted and he stopped on the rocks. As soon as he landed on top of the pile of rocks, Yang Guo waved out the bamboo stick to his leg. Fawang’s weapon was short and couldn’t be used to protect all of his body; he could only drop down back to the ground and sweep out his wheel to counterattack.

After another ten or so moves, the sky had darkened, he was surrounded by rocks everywhere; the formation seemed to give off an eerie air. Even someone as bold as he couldn’t stop himself from being slightly frightened, suddenly his mind lit up; he had a plan.

His left leg lifted up, a twenty plus kilo (44lb) stone was lifted in the air and sent flying. His right leg came out and another large stone went flying. He darted around, his legs kept on kicking out, the rocks collided with each other and sparks flew. In a flash, the formation had been broken. Huang Rong, Yang Guo and the others were extremely shocked by this and they had to keep on moving to avoid the rocks falling from the sky. If Jinlun Fawang just wanted to leave the formation it couldn’t be easier, but he turned defense into attack and his left palm came searching out to capture Huang Rong. Yang Guo sent the tip of the stick towards his back, Fawang swerved his iron wheel and repelled it; however, his left palm had hung onto Huang Rong’s shoulder. If she leapt back she could have avoided this but she heard a urgent gust of wind coming down, a large rock was smashing down behind her at that time, she could only use the “Great Trapping Hand” to reverse his grab and hooked onto his left wrist.

Jinlun Fawang said, “Good!” He let her hook his left wrist and waited for her to use force to fling him away; he suddenly circulated his strength and pulled her towards him.

If it was any other time, Huang Rong could have circulated her internal energy and escaped from this pull, but right now she didn’t have sufficient internal energy, she called out, “Ai ya!” and fell.

Yang Guo was extremely alarmed; he threw away any care for his life and threw himself forward, grabbing Jinlun Fawang’s legs. The two of them started to fall.

Jinlun Fawang’s martial arts were much higher than his, before they hit the ground, his right palm had come waving out towards Yang Guo’s chest. Yang Guo quickly stretched out his left arm to block it; a ‘pai’ sound was heard as their palms struck. Yang Guo felt blood surging upwards from his chest; his body flew away like a rock.

Just at this time, the last remaining rock fell down fiercely from the sky; a ‘peng’ sound was heard as it struck Jinlun Fawang on the back.

It was an extremely heavy collision, even if Jinlun Fawang’s internal energy were higher, he would not be able to take it, though he circulated his internal energy to divert the rock away, his body wobbled a few times and he eventually fell forward onto the ground.

In a short period of time, the formation had been broken and stones had rained down. Huang Rong, Jinlun Fawang and Yang Guo were all on the ground injured.

End of Chapter 14. 
@Chapter 15 – The Disciples of Eastern Heretic
Inside the formation were the extremely shocked Wu brothers and Guo Fu; outside the formation were Da’erba and the Mongolian warriors. They dashed forward to rescue Fawang. Da’erba had terrifying strength, there were many skilled fighters within the crowd of Mongolian warriors; how could Guo Fu and the Wu brothers fight them off? Suddenly a swaying Jinlun Fawang stood up and waved his iron wheel, the ‘qiang lang lang’ sounds were soul disturbing, his face was pale. He laughed out at the sky yet his laugh was filled with a cold and mournful feeling; the band of people all looked at each other startled and stopped their advance.

Jinlun Fawang hissed, “I have never suffered even half an injury whilst in battle in my entire life; today I actually injured myself.” He stretched out his hand and grabbed Huang Rong’s back.

Yang Guo’s chest was severely injured by Jinlun Fawang’s palm, he didn’t have any strength to stand up and crawled across the ground; when he saw Huang Rong in danger he again swept out his stick to repel this grab. But as soon as he used any strength, he spat out a pool of blood.

Huang Rong said mournfully, “Guo’er, we give in, don’t fight on, take care of yourself.” Guo Fu raised her long sword and protected her mother.

Yang Guo quietly said, “Sister Fu, run away quickly, it’s important to tell your father about this.”

Guo Fu’s mind was in a mess, she knew her martial arts were poor but how could she leave her mother?

Jinlun Fawang swung his iron wheel slightly and the wheel collided with Guo Fu’s sword, a ‘dang’ sound was heard and a white light glimmered, the sword flew up into the air and landed in the forest. Jinlun Fawang was about to push her out of the way and grab Huang Rong when suddenly a girl’s voice from behind said, “Wait!”

A blue green flash leapt out of the forest. She stretched out her hand to catch the sword and hurried to the middle of the pile of rocks.

Jinlun Fawang saw that her face was extremely terrifying; it looked three parts human and seven parts ghost, he has never seen such a strange face before in his life. He couldn’t stop himself from being startled and said, “Who are you?”

The young girl didn’t answer and pushed a rock in between Jinlun Fawang and Huang Rong. She said, “You’re the famous Jinlun Fawang?” Her face was ugly but her voice was gentle and tender.

Fawang said, “Correct, what is your name?”

The girl replied, “I’m a nameless young girl, you won’t know me.” As she said this, she moved another slab of stone three inches.

The sun had gone down long ago; the forest was full of darkness. Jinlun Fawang’s mind lit up and shouted, “What are you doing?” He was about to stop the girl from moving the stones when she suddenly called out, “The Horned Wooden Dragon Changes into the Overbearing Golden Dragon!”

Guo Fu and the Wu brothers were startled and they all pondered, “How does she know the changes of the formation?” But they heard her voice had a commanding tone and immediately started to move the rocks according to her instructions. Four, fives stones were moved, the scattered formation changed again.

Jinlun Fawang was alarmed and angry, he shouted, “Little girl, you dare to come and mess things around!”

He just heard her say, “The Moon Fox Turns into the Day Rabbit, the Crow of the Final Moon Shifts into the Wooden Wolf of ‘Kui’, Bat of the Earth Enters the Room of the Fire Pig.” All the things that she called out were the twenty-eight positions of ‘su’. Guo Fu and the Wu brothers felt that the way she led the formation was exactly the way that Huang Rong did while she led formations. They were delighted and used all their efforts in moving the rocks; they saw that they were about to trap Jinlun Fawang in the formation again.

Jinlun Fawang had circulated his internal energy with force to protect himself from the wound from the collision with the rock; though the injury didn’t react for now, he actually had a serious internal injury. He had no way to start kicking the stones again. He knew that in just a little while he would be trapped in the stone formation again; his disciple Da’erba was brave but he doesn’t understand the formation and so it would be difficult for him to help. He saw that Huang Rong was picking herself up, struggling to stand upright; all he needed to do was take a few steps forward and he would be able to capture her. But saving himself was more important right now; he picked up his iron wheel and sent an attack towards Wu Xiuwen’s head.

After he suffered the injury his arms had no strength; he was forcing himself to move the iron wheel. If Wu Xiuwen had a sword, he would be able to knock the wheel out of his hands. But Fawang was surrounded by a powerful air; though the stance had no force behind it, it still looked like the real thing. How could Wu Xiuwen dare to take this attack; he immediately withdrew back into the formation.

Jinlun Fawang slowly walked out of the formation and stood there in a daze for a while thinking, “I’m afraid that I’ll never get an opportunity as good as this again. Could it be that heaven is protecting the Song and stopping me from succeeding? The Wulin of the central plain have many able people; these few youngsters are already versed in both the arts and martial arts. Just they alone make strong opponents; our Mongolian and Tibetan warriors pale by comparison.” He held his chest and sighed. He turned around and walked away. Ten or so steps later, a ‘qiang lang lang’ sound was heard; the wheel had fallen to the ground as he struggled to stay up.

Da’erba was alarmed and called out, “Master!” He dashed over and held him up and said, “Master, are you alright?” Fawang frowned and didn’t reply, he stretched out his arm and leaned on his shoulder and quietly said, “What a pity! What a pity! Let’s go!” A Mongolian warrior led a horse over. Due to his injury, Jinlun Fawang had no strength to pull himself up on the horse. Da’erba used his left palm and pushed his master’s waist and helped him up on the horse. They left heading east.

The girl in blue green slowly walked towards Yang Guo. She stopped and bent down to examine his face, wanting to see how seriously injured he was. It was now deep into the night; things couldn’t be seen clearly even if it was just a distance of one inch away from your face. She went up to Yang Guo’s face and saw that his eyes were open wide, seemingly in a trance; his cheeks were red and his breathing rapid, it appeared that his injury was not light.

In this blurry state, all he saw was a pair of soft and gentle eyes in front of his face, like the way Xiao Longnu’s eyes appeared when she looked at him. It was soft and gentle, understanding and caring, he opened his arms and grabbed the girl and called out, “Gu Gu, Guo’er is hurt, don’t leave me.”

The girl in blue green was embarrassed and flustered, she struggled slightly. Yang Guo’s chest immediately suffered a flash of pain and he couldn’t stop himself from calling out ‘ai ya!”

The girl didn’t dare to struggle and quietly said, “I’m not your Gu Gu; let me go.”

Yang Guo stared at her eyes and pleaded, “Gu Gu, don’t leave me… I’m… I’m… I’m your Guo’er.” The girl’s heart softened and said gently, “I’m not your Gu Gu.”

The sky was even darker now; the girl’s terrifying face was hidden, showing only a pair of bright pupils. Yang Guo pulled her hand and pleaded, “You are, you are! Don’t… don’t leave me again.”

The young girl was held by him. Her body burnt up with embarrassment; she didn’t know what to do.

Suddenly Yang Guo’s mind became clear; he saw that the girl in front of him was not Xiao Longnu. He was extremely disappointed, his mind turned upside down and he fainted.

The young girl was shocked. She saw Guo Fu and the Wu brothers surrounding Huang Rong, showing concern and serving her yet Yang Guo had no one. She knew that his injury was serious, if he doesn’t take her Master’s medicine, his life will be in danger. She supported his waist and pushed and pulled him out of the formation and then slowly walked out of the forest. The skinny horse was very sharp; it recognized its master and rushed towards him. The girl put him on the horse’s back but she didn’t get on, she held the horse’s reigns and walked on.

Yang Guo was conscious one moment and in a daze the next; sometimes he thought that the person next to him was Xiao Longnu and he called out in delight; other times he found out that she wasn’t and his whole body felt as if it was in an ice cellar.

After sometime, he felt a clear fragrance enter the places where his chest was injured, it was extremely comfortable. He was startled and discovered that he was now lying on a couch, a thin blanket covered his body; he wanted to sit up but suddenly felt a severe pain going through his chest, he couldn’t move. He turned his head and saw a girl in blue green by the window; her left hand was holding down a piece of paper, her right holding a brush, she was in the middle of doing calligraphy. Her back was towards the couch and he couldn’t see her face; her back was slender with a fine waist, extremely elegant and beautiful. He took a look around and found out that he was in the room of a thatch house; the benches, chairs, table and bed were all simple and crude, the four walls were gloomy, yet it felt peaceful and serene. Beside the bed were a long zither and a jade flute. All he remembered was how he fought with Jinlun Fawang in the forest but his mind was a blank as to how he got to this place. He concentrated harder and recalled that he was on his horse’s back; someone was leading them, a girl. Now he remembered, the girl in front of him was that girl.

She was now concentrating on her calligraphy; he saw her arm moved lightly, her form graceful and elegant. There wasn’t a sound in the room; it felt like he had arrived in a completely different world to the heated battle he had just been in. He didn’t dare to make a noise and disturb the young girl, he just lay down on the couch peacefully; it was like settling down again after a dream, he really didn’t know what world he was in.

His mind suddenly lit up, the girl in blue green in front of him was the girl who gave him the warning on the Changan road, and later on she helped him save Lu Wushuang. There were no ties between him and her, why was she treating him so well? He couldn’t stop his mouth from opening, “Sister, so it’s you who has saved me again.”

The girl stopped her brush but she didn’t turn around, she said softly, “You can’t really say I saved you. I happened to be passing by and saw how unreasonable that Tibetan monk was, and you were injured as well…” She lowered her head slightly after she said this.

Yang Guo said, “Sister, I… I…” He was touched but his throat choked up and he couldn’t make a sound.

The young girl said, “You have a good heart; you save other people without regard for your life. I just gave a little help; it’s nothing.” Yang Guo said, “Auntie Guo raised me, of course I had to use all my efforts in saving her when she was in danger, but sister and I…” The young girl said, “I’m not talking about your Auntie Guo, I’m talking about Lu Wushuang sister Lu.”

Yang Guo hadn’t heard the name Lu Wushuang for a long time, when he heard her mention this name he quickly asked, “Is Miss Lu safe? Has she recovered from her injury?”

The young girl replied, “Thank you for your concern, she has recovered from her injury. You haven’t forgotten her.”

From her tone, Yang Guo could tell that she and Lu Wushuang are very close. He asked, “I wonder how sister greets Miss Lu?”

The young girl didn’t reply, she gave a subtle smile and said, “Don’t call me elder sister this, elder sister that, I’m not older than you.” After a while, she laughed and said, “I’m afraid that it’s a bit too late now to change your greeting after calling me ‘Gu Gu’ a few times.”

Yang Guo’s face went red; he knew that when he was dazed and unclear after the injury, he must have wrongly recognized her as Xiao Longnu, incessantly calling out, ‘Gu Gu’. It could be that he also said some tender and affectionate things, the more he thought about it, the more uneasy he got, he stuttered, “You… you… you’re not offended are you?”

The young girl laughed and said, “Of course I’m not offended; just rest here peacefully. You can search for your Gu Gu when you’ve recovered from your injury.” She continued, “Don’t be too worried, you’ll eventually find her.”

Those few words were affectionate and considerate and within the softness there was respect; it made a person feel at ease and happy. This was completely different to all the other girls he knew. She wasn’t like Lu Wushuang who was vivacious and wily, and even further away from the unrestrained pride of Guo Fu. Yelu Yan was straight to the point and Wanyan Ping was long-suffering and piteous. When it came to Xiao Longnu: at first she was cold as frost and unfeeling, but eventually she fell in love and all her emotions were stirred and brought forward. This girl in blue green was cultured and refined, warm and attentive. She knew that he missed his ‘Gu Gu’ so she advised him to rest peacefully first, and once he had recovered he could go and find her. He felt that being with her made him feel relaxed and calm. After she said these words she picked up her brush again. Yang Guo said, “Sister, what is your surname?”

The girl said, “Don’t ask questions, just rest peacefully on the bed and stop thinking so much, your injury will recover quicker.” Yang Guo said, “Fine. Actually, I knew that I was asking in vain, you wouldn’t even let me see your face let alone know your name.” The young girl sighed and said, “My face is ugly, you’ve seen it before.”

Yang Guo said, “No…no! That’s when you had the human skin mask on.”

The young girl said, “If I’m as beautiful as your Gu Gu, why do I need to wear this mask?”

Yang Guo was pleased when she praised Xiao Longnu’s beauty, he asked, “How do you know my Gu Gu is beautiful? You’ve seen her before?”

The young girl said, “I haven’t seen her before. But the way you think about her, spell bound and completely enchanted, she must be the number one beauty in the world.”

Yang Guo sighed and said, “I long for her not because of her beauty, even if she was the ugliest woman in the world, I would still long for her like this. But… but if you see her yourself you will definitely praise her beauty even more.”

If Guo Fu or Lu Wushuang heard these words, they would definitely answer back with some chiding comment; but this young girl replied, “It must be true. Not only is she beautiful, she treats you extremely well.” After she said this, she continued on with her calligraphy.

Yang Guo looked up at the ceiling for a while, but he couldn’t stop himself from turning around and facing the slender back of the young girl. He asked, “Sister, what are you writing?”

The young girl replied, “I’m practicing calligraphy.”

Yang Guo said, “What ‘bei tie’ (beautiful calligraphy written on silk/beautifully presented calligraphy) are you copying?” The young girl replied, “My writing is ugly, how can one describe it as a copy of a ‘bei tie’.”

Yang Guo said, “You’re too modest, I can tell it’s definitely great.” The young girl laughed and said, “Strange, how can you tell?”

Yang Guo said, “Someone as elegant and refined as you must have calligraphy that is also elegant and refined. Sister, how about letting me look at what you’ve written?”

The young girl gave another light laugh and said, “My writing can’t see the light of day; I’ll need to ask you for lessons when you’ve recovered.”

Yang Guo secretly said, “Shameful.” He couldn’t stop himself from appreciating the lessons of literature and calligraphy that Huang Rong taught him on Peach Blossom Island. If he didn’t have that experience, he wouldn’t be able to tell what someone was writing let alone distinguish the difference between beautiful and ugly calligraphy.

As he was lost in thought, he felt a throbbing pain in his chest. Immediately he circulated his internal energy, chi flowing through his pressure points. He gradually felt comfortable and at ease and soon he fell into a deep sleep.

By the time he woke up, the sky had already gone dark. The girl had prepared a few dishes and had put them on a short table next to the bed he was on. She helped him to eat. Though the bamboo chopsticks and clay bowl were coarse implements, they were all new and specially prepared for him.

The dishes were nothing special, just ordinary vegetables, tofu, eggs and fish, but they were all cooked deliciously. Yang Guo ate three bowls of rice in one go and kept on praising her cooking. Though her face was hidden by the mask and covered her expression, her bright eyes showed signs of delight.

Yang Guo’s injury had recovered a little more by the next day. The young girl had moved a chair next to the end of the bed. She sat there and mended his long gown. She lifted up the gown and said, “How can a person like you wear something like this?” After she said this she left the room and returned will a roll of blue green fabric and started to prepare a gown according to the fitting of his old one.

From her voice and figure, she was no older than seventeen or eighteen; but not only was she like an older sister to Yang Guo, she was tender and loving to him like a mother. His mother had passed away a long time ago but today he experienced the feeling of being that child once again; he was touched and surprised and asked, “Sister, why are you treating me so well? I really can’t accept it.”

The young girl replied, “What’s so difficult about making a gown? You risked your life to save someone; that was a much harder task.”

The morning of that day passed peacefully. After midday, the girl once again sat at the table and practiced calligraphy. Yang Guo really wanted to see what she was writing but after pleading a few times she still said no. She practiced for about two hours; she wrote one piece and then thought for a while before she ripped it up and started another piece. It appeared that she couldn’t get what she wanted; she wrote a piece and then ripped it up. It seemed like she was writing some sort of martial arts manual. Eventually she gave a sigh and asked, “What do you want to eat, I’ll make something for you.”

Yang Guo had an idea and said, “I’m afraid that it might be too time consuming.” The young girl said, “What? Tell me.”

Yang Guo said, “I want to eat zong zi (glutinous rice dumplings wrapped in leaves).”

The young girl was startled and said, “What’s so hard about wrapping a few zong? I’d like to eat some myself. Do you like sweet or savory ones?”

Yang Guo said, “Whichever is fine. As long as I can eat some I’ll be satisfied, how can I be picky?”

Indeed, that night the young girl did wrap up a few zong zi for him. The sweet ones were filled with soy beans, the savory filled with ham; they were both delicious. Yang Guo ate and praised her incessantly at the same time.

The young girl sighed and said, “You really are clever, you’ve finally guessed who I am.”

Yang Guo was surprised and thought, “I haven’t guessed! How have I guessed who you are?” But his reply was, “How did you know?”

The young girl replied, “Jiangnan, my home, is famous for its zong zi; there were many things for you to pick from but you had to pick zong zi.”

Yang Guo recalled the events of years ago in Zhexi where he met the Guo couple, the fight with Li Mochou, how he became Ouyang Feng’s godson but he could not remember who this girl was.

He wanted to eat zong zi for another reason. When he finished eating, he waited for the moment when the young girl was not looking and placed a piece in his palm. When the girl collected up the chopsticks and bowls, he quickly took a piece of fabric that the girl had left behind when she was making the gown for him and attached some zong to one end and then shot it out towards the pieces of torn paper on the table. When he pulled a piece back and took a look, he couldn’t stop himself from being startled. The words that were on the paper were: ‘since a gentleman has passed my eyes, the clouds are not pleasant.” That phrase was from the ‘Shi Jing’. Years ago Huang Rong had taught him the meaning of this phrase: ‘since I’ve seen such a man, how come I am not pleased?” He shot out the piece of cloth again for another piece. The same thing was written on it but the ‘since’ word was torn in half. Yang Guo’s heart ran, he had collected ten pieces of paper but the same thing was written on all of them. He carefully thought about the meaning and went off into a daydream.

Suddenly, he heard footsteps, the young girl was returning to the room. Yang Guo quickly hid the pieces of paper underneath his blanket. The young girl gathered up the rest of the pieces of paper and burned them outside.

Yang Guo thought, “She wrote ‘since a gentleman has passed my eyes’, could that gentleman be me? I’ve only spoken a few words with her, what could she see in me that she likes? Anyway, how can someone describe me as a gentleman? But if it isn’t me, who else can it be since there’s no one else around.”

Just as he was in deep thought, the girl returned to the room. She stood quietly by the window for a while and then blew out the candle. The pale light of the moon shone through the window, covering the floor.

Yang Guo called out, “Sister.”

But the young girl did not reply and slowly left the room.

After a while, he heard the sound of a flute coming through the window. Yang Guo had seen her use a jade flute to fight with Li Mochou, her martial arts weren’t weak; her musical skills with the flute were great as well.

During his time in the Ancient Tomb, Xiao Longnu would occasionally play the zither and he would sit by the side and listen to her explain the meaning of songs; thus he was coarsely learned in music. He could tell that she was playing a tune of ‘Wu She Shang’, the song of ‘qi ao’. This song was peaceful and serene; Yang Guo had heard it a few times but he didn’t love it. He heard that she kept on repeating the first five phrases, ‘Looking into the distance of the mysterious Qi, the green bamboo aplenty, there’s a gentleman, like a clean cut, polished and carved jade.’ Whether it’s high or low, whether there are sudden drops and rises, the tunes are variations of these five phrases, winding and drowning in its meanings. Yang Guo knew that these five phrases also came from the ‘Shi Jing’, it praises the elegance of a male, cut and polished elegantly like the smoothness of beautiful jade.

Yang Guo listened for a while and couldn’t stop himself from quietly reciting, “Looking into the distance of the mysterious Qi, the green bamboo aplenty…” The flute suddenly stopped after these two phrases. Yang Guo was startled and lamented his actions, “She was playing the flute to comfort herself; by quietly reciting those lines I showed that I understood what she was thinking, that is a bit too impolite.”

When the young girl brought breakfast in the next morning, she saw that Yang Guo was wearing the human skin mask, she was taken aback, and then laughed and she said, “Why are you wearing that?”

Yang Guo said, “You gave this to me; you don’t want to show your true face so I’m wearing this.” The young girl said calmly, “That’s fine.” After she said this she placed the breakfast down and left the room; she didn’t say anything else to him that day.

Yang Guo was feeling uneasy; he was afraid that he had offended her and wanted to say a few apologetic words. She didn’t stop in the room for the rest of the day. Later on during the evening, she waited for Yang Guo to finish eating supper before returning to collect the bowls and chopsticks; as she was about to leave, Yang Guo said, “Sister, you play the flute really well, can you play a tune for me?”

The young girl gave a subtle moan and then said, “Fine.” She left the room and collected her jade flute. She returned and sat by Yang Guo’s bed, playing a tune on the flute. This time she played the song ‘Ying Xian Ke’ (Meeting the Divine Guest), it was a graceful and joyous tune, a song that greets a guest.

Yang Guo thought, “So your flute also wear’s a mask, not willing to show the song that is in your heart.”

Suddenly, the sound of footsteps could be heard in the midst of the flute’s music; someone was hurrying towards this place. The young girl placed the flute down and went to the door, calling out, “Cousin!”

Someone rushed to the house and was panting as they said, “Cousin, that witch has picked up our traces and she’s on her way now; let’s go!”

Yang Guo was pleased when he heard Lu Wushuang’s voice, but he was alarmed when he heard that witch Li Mochou was on the way. He then thought, “So that girl is Wifey’s cousin.”

He heard the young girl say, “Someone’s injured and is recuperating inside.” Lu Wushuang said, “Who?”

The young girl replied, “The person that saved your life.”

Lu Wushuang replied, “Sha Dan! He’s… he’s in there!! She dashed into the room as she said this.

The joy and delight on her face could be seen in the moonlight; she called out, “Sha Dan, Sha Dan! How come you’re here? This time, it seems like it’s your turn to be the injured one.”

Yang Guo said, “Wifey…” He could only say one word before he thought about the elegant and refined young girl in blue green standing aside, he stopped joking and took back his words, he asked, “How did Li Mochou find you again?”

Lu Wushuang said, “After that battle at the restaurant, you suddenly left and my cousin took me to this place to recuperate. Actually, I recovered from my wound a long time ago; I was feeling bored so I went to Xianguang for a little while. That day, I bumped into two beggars, I eavesdropped on them and heard that there was a ‘Heroes’ gathering at Da Xingguan. I hurried to Da Xingguan to take a look but by the time I got there, it had finished. I was afraid that my cousin was worrying about me so I hurried back. Outside a teashop at the town ahead, I saw that witch’s donkey, her donkey has changed but the ringing of the golden bell hasn’t…” As she got to this point, her voice trembled as she continued, “At least my time wasn’t up yet, if I had bumped into her head on, I wouldn’t have been able to see you two.”

Yang Guo said, “This girl is your cousin? She saved me but I still don’t know her name.” The young girl replied, “I…”

Lu Wushuang suddenly stretched out her hand and pulled their masks off at the same time and said, “That witch is going to get here soon; why are you two still mucking around with these masks at a time like this?”

A bright light shone in Yang Guo’s eyes; the young girl had an oval face that sparkled, her skin glimmered like snow; though her beauty couldn’t match Xiao Longnu’s, she was still an extremely beautiful girl.

Lu Wushuang said, “She’s my cousin Cheng Ying, a disciple of the Master of Peach Blossom Island, Master Huang.” Yang Guo bowed and greeted her, “Miss Cheng.”

Cheng Ying returned the greeting and said, “Young Hero Yang.”

Yang Guo thought, “She’s of such a young age, yet she’s actually a disciple of Island Master Huang? Counting back from Auntie Guo’s status, doesn’t that mean I’m a generation lower than her?”

Years ago when she was captured by Li Mochou and almost lost her life by the Scarlet Serpent Deity’s hand, it was Peach Blossom Island’s Island Master Huang Yaoshi who rescued her while passing by. After his daughter married, Huang Yaoshi roamed Jianghu making the world his home. He was old and by himself, so it was unavoidable that he would get lonely. When he saw that Cheng Ying was weak and had no where else to go, he couldn’t stop himself from pitying her. After he cured her poison, he took her with him. Cheng Ying served him carefully and meticulously. This was much better than the naughty, restless and unruly Huang Rong. Huang Yaoshi grew from his pity to love her and took her in as his disciple. Though Cheng Ying’s intelligence could not compare to Huang Rong’s, she was extremely careful and paid attention to everything. She studied the lesser points but she still managed to learn a considerable number of skills from Huang Yaoshi. This year, her martial arts became able and she told her Master that she was going north to search for her cousin. On the Guanxia road, she bumped into Yang Guo and Lu Wushuang; it was she who gave the warnings along the way and she who gave news of Lu Wushuang’s capture. After the battle with Li Mochou in the restaurant with all the other youngsters, she took Lu Wushuang to a secluded place and built a hut to allow her to recuperate.

The day before, Lu Wushuang had left by herself and had not returned after a long period of time. Cheng Ying worried about her and went out in search of her. Instead of finding her, she saw Huang Rong using the stone formations to fend off Jinlun Fawang. She had learned the formations from Huang Yaoshi; although she didn’t know much, the things that she did know were learned thoroughly. And so, by coincidence, she managed to rescue Yang Guo.

Lu Wushuang said, “In a situation like this, why are you two still so formal?” Yang Guo said, “Did Li Mochou see you eventually.”

Lu Wushuang said, “You really are naïve! If she saw me and you weren’t there to rescue me, how would I be able to escape from her? As soon as I heard the donkey’s bell, I hid behind the teahouse; I didn’t even dare to breath. I heard her ask the manager of the teahouse if he had seen two girls, one was a little lame and the other one was an extremely ugly girl. Cousin, she said you were an ugly girl, but she didn’t know that you are the exact opposite, a beautiful girl…”

Cheng Ying’s face went slightly red and said, “Don’t talk rubbish, Young Hero Yang will laugh.” Yang Guo said, “I can’t take a title such as Young Hero Yang; just call me Yang Guo.”

Lu Wushuang angrily said, “As soon as you saw my cousin, you’re all nice and polite; you even told her your name, yet with me you lied and messed me around.”

Yang Guo gave a light laugh and said, “You called me ‘Sha Dan’, I listened to your orders and pretended to be a ‘Sha Dan’, isn’t that obedient enough?”

Lu Wushuang pouted and said, “I’ll deal with you later on.” She turned around to Cheng Ying and said, “Cousin, whenever you went into town to buy things, you would wear your mask, the townspeople recognized you. The manager of the teahouse could never have dreamed that a courteous and polite Taoist priestess would have ill intentions, so of course he would tell her where we are. The witch thanked him and asked him where she can seek lodgings and then she took apprentice sister Hong to search. She has always killed people at the first light of day; it looks like we’ve got six hours.”

Cheng Ying said, “Yes. That day when she attacked cousin’s home, it was ‘yin mo mao chu fen’ (I think it’s the fourth hour).” The three of them talked about how Li Mochou killed Lu Wushuang’s parents and then realized that they had met before in Jiaxing when they were kids. The cousins recalled staying in the old kiln that Yang Guo lived in, and then remembered that they have indeed met before; they all felt a close and intimate feeling.

Yang Guo said, “That witch’s martial arts are extremely high; even if I wasn’t injured, the three of us would not be able to beat her. Let’s just leave everything as it is, leave the lamps lit and escape.”

Cheng Ying nodded and said, “We’ve got six hours left. Brother Yang’s horse has great speed and stamina, if we leave now the witch might not be able to catch up.”

Lu Wushuang said, “Sha Dan, you’re injured, can you still ride?”

Yang Guo sighed and said, “I can’t but I’ll force myself; at least it’s better than falling into the hands of that witch.” Lu Wushuang said, “We’ve only got one horse. Cousin, take Sha Dan and head west, I’ll head east and lure her away.”

Cheng Ying’s face went slightly red. She said, “No, you go with brother Yang. I don’t have any ties or debts with Li Mochou, even if I do fall into her hands, she might not harm me; if you fall into her hands, you’ll suffer.”

Lu Wushuang said, “She came for me, if she sees me with him, won’t his life be lost in vain because of me?” The cousins reasoned with each other, trying to push the other into accompanying Yang Guo in escaping.

Yang Guo was extremely touched by this, these two girls were filled with loyalty, yet in this danger they were both willing to risk their lives for him; even if I die at the hands of this witch, my life wouldn’t exactly have been lived for no purpose.

He then heard Lu Wushuang ask, “Sha Dan, say something, do you want my cousin to go with you or me?”

Before Yang Guo replied, Cheng Ying said, “Why do you keep on calling him Sha Dan this, Sha Dan that, are you not afraid of making brother Yang angry at all?”

Lu Wushuang stuck out her tongue, she laughed and said, “Look at how courteous and considerate you are to him; brother Sha would definitely want you to go with him.” Changing her greeting from ‘Sha Dan’ to ‘Brother Sha’ was her way of showing her sincerity.

Cheng Ying’s face was distinctly white and it was very easy to make her blush, so when Lu Wushuang said this, Cheng Ying’s face immediately turned red as a rose. She gave a slight laugh and said, “He calls you ‘Wifey’, doesn’t he? How can the wife not go along with him?” This time it was Lu Wushuang’s turn to blush. She stretched out her hand and tried to tickle Cheng Ying; Cheng Ying turned around and leapt away. In a short while, the room felt as if a gentle relaxing breeze was blowing through the room, the three of them didn’t appear to be as worried and frightened as they were at the start.

Yang Guo thought, “If Miss Cheng escapes with me, then Wifey’s life would be in danger. If Wifey goes with me, then Miss Cheng would be in extreme danger.” He said, “I am extremely touched by the way you two treat me. I say that you two should escape and let me handle the witch. My master and she are apprentice sisters; she would still have some respect towards that relationship. Not only that, she’s afraid of my master, she wouldn’t dare to do anything to me…”

Before he finished, Lu Wushuang interrupted, “That won’t do…that won’t do.”

Yang Guo knew that the two would not abandon the other so he said clearly, “The three of us will escape together. If we do encounter that witch then we’ll fight for our lives; whether we live or die, let the heavens decide.”

Lu Wushuang clapped her hands and said, “Fine, let’s do that.”

Cheng Ying said grimly, “That witch comes and goes like the wind, if the three of us travel together, she will definitely catch up with us. We’re going to fight with her on the way so why don’t we remain here and wait for her to come when she’s exhausted.”

Yang Guo said, “That’s right. Sister knows how to use formations, she could even trap that monk Jinlun Fawang, the Scarlet Serpent Deity may not be able to break through it.”

Once he said this, the three’s eyes lit up softly.

Cheng Ying said, “That formation was set up by Mrs. Guo, I just added a few variations to it, I can never set something up like that. We’ll do our best and let fate decide. Cousin, come and help me.”

Yang Guo thought, “When Auntie Guo taught me the formation, I could only remember ten or so different types and it could only be used to lure the rusty Jinlun Fawang into the formation; it would have no use in blocking that heaven hating and world resenting Li Mochou. This type of art is extremely complicated; to be well versed in it requires at least one year’s worth of work. Miss Cheng is young so of course the things that she has learned cannot compare with Auntie Guo, she wasn’t trying to be modest. But no matter how simple and crude her formation is, it’s better than nothing.”

The two girls picked up an iron shovel and a hoe, they went outside and started to dig up earth and move stones as they started to set up the formation. They had worked urgently for two hours when the faint calls of cockerels could be heard from faraway. Cheng Ying’s head was covered with sweat as she looked at her efforts. She saw that her formation was miles apart from the rock formation that Huang Rong had set up; she was slightly depressed as she thought, “Mrs. Guo’s talents exceeds mine by a hundred times over. It really would be extremely difficult to try to fend off the Scarlet Serpent Deity with such a coarse earth formation.” She was afraid that her cousin and Yang Guo would get depressed about it so she did not tell them her thoughts.

Under the moonlight, Lu Wushuang saw something was wrong with her cousin and knew that her cousin wasn’t completely confident. She took out a book from her pockets and returned to the hut and handed the book over to Yang Guo. She said, “Sha Dan, this is my master’s ‘Five Poison Codex’.”

Yang Guo shivered slightly at the sight of the blood covered book.

Lu Wushuang said, “I lied to her about the book falling into the Beggar Clan’s hands; if she catches me she will definitely search me and discover the book. Take a good look and once you’ve memorized it, burn it.” She had never talked in a serious manner with Yang Guo before, but she had no interest in joking around in this time of danger. Yang Guo saw her expression was bleak and just nodded and accepted the book.

Lu Wushuang also took out a handkerchief and quietly said to him, “If you’re unlucky and fall into the hands of that witch, when she wants to take your life give this handkerchief to her.”

Yang Guo saw that one side of the handkerchief looked that it was torn from somewhere, the embroidered red flower on the handkerchief was torn in half, he didn’t know what she meant by this and was startled, he did not take it and asked, “What is this?”

Lu Wushuang, “I’m asking you to give this to her, are you going to promise me?”

Yang Guo nodded and placed it by the side of the pillow. Lu Wushuang picked it up and put it in his pockets and whispered, “Don’t let my cousin know.” She suddenly smelt the manly scent on him and remembered how he undressed her and helped her fix her broken rib in place on the Guanxia road. And how they slept on the same bed; her heart stirred and she stared at him in a trance before turning around and leaving the room.

Yang Guo saw that her eyes were filled with boundless love, his heart raced. He opened the ‘Five Poison Codex’ and flipped through a few pages and remembered the antidote to the “Five Poison Palm” and the “Soul Freezing Silver Needles”. He thought, “These two antidotes are both extremely hard to create but if I don’t die today, these two antidotes will eventually have a use later.”

He heard the hut’s door creak as someone pushed opened the door. He raised his head and saw Cheng Ying with red cheeks, she came over to the bed and he could see pearls of sweat on her forehead. Her breathing was slightly fast. She said, “Brother Yang, the earth formation that I have set outside is not good enough to hold back the Scarlet Serpent Deity.” She then took out a handkerchief from her pockets and offered it to him. She continued, “If she breaks through and enters the house, give this to her.”

Yang Guo saw that it was only half a handkerchief, the decoration and quality was the same as the one that Lu Wushuang gave him. He was surprised and raised his head, his eyes met hers and he saw eyes that glistened with tears, she was embarrassed and pleased at the same time. He was about to ask further when Cheng Ying suddenly blushed and whispered, “Whatever you do, don’t let my cousin know about this.” When she finished, she swiftly exited.

Yang Guo took out the handkerchief that Lu Wushuang gave him and lifted it up. Indeed, the two pieces of handkerchief came from the same one; the handkerchief was old, the white silk was now a pale yellow colour, but the embroidered red flowers were still as beautiful as before. He looked at the handkerchiefs and knew that there was something behind this. Why did the two of them each give half the handkerchief to me? Why did they want me to give it to Li Mochou? Why did they want to keep the fact they gave the handkerchief to me away from each other? Why was it that when they handed the handkerchief over to me, their faces were filled with awkwardness and embarrassment?

He sat on the bed, thinking to himself in a trance. He heard the faraway faint calls of a cockerel followed by music from a flute, he knew that Cheng Ying had finished setting up the formation and was now playing the flute to comfort herself. She was playing the song ‘Liu Bo’ (Flowing Waves). The flute was soft and gentle, there was no sorrow within the music, and instead there was a soothing feeling, like the feeling of being carefree. Yang Guo listened for a little while and quietly followed along with it.

Lu Wushuang sat behind the pile of earth and listened to her cousin’s flute and Yang Guo following along to it. Dawn was gradually approaching in the east. She thought, “My master will be here very shortly, my life won’t be able to pass this hour. I hope that when master sees the handkerchief pieces, she will spare cousin and him, the two of them…”

Lu Wushuang had always been sharp and astute; her cousin had always given her some degree of leeway ever since they were kids. But in the face of danger, she truly hoped that Yang Guo would be able to avoid harm. She loved him in her heart and secretly wished that he would be able to escape, even if he married her cousin, she would have no regrets in death.

Just as she was thinking about this, she raised her head suddenly and saw a Taoist priestess dressed in apricot yellow standing outside the earth formation. Her right hand held a fly whisk, her gown fluttering in the wind; it was her master Li Mochou.

Lu Wushuang trembled. She picked up her sword and stood up. Li Mochou stood there without moving, just listening with her ears.

When she heard the flute and song, she recalled events of years ago when she was playing music along with Lu Zhanyuan. One played a flute, the other a panpipe, this song ‘Liu Bo’ was the song that they used to play.

This was twenty years ago; now the music was of old yet for her there was ‘no secret exchange of the lover under the moon and wind’. When she heard the soft and tender tune of the flute and song, she felt pain and sorrow and eventually couldn’t stop herself from crying.

Lu Wushuang could not have expected this sorrowful crying by her master; she had always known her to be a ruthless killer, where did this gentle and tender side come from? She has come here to kill, how come she’s crying? But her cries were extremely sorrowful and somber; she couldn’t stop her heart from suffering the sadness.

Yang Guo and Cheng Ying were startled when they heard the crying of Li Mochou and the song became disorganized. Li Mochou had a thought and suddenly started to sing, her voice graceful and mournful, she sang:

“O mortals, what is love? That binds beyond life on earth?

To all corners, as pair we fly... braving summer and winter, by and by...

Union is bliss, parting is woe, agony is boundless, for a lovelorn soul, sweetheart... Give me word, a trail of clouds drifting forward...

And mountains capped with snow, whither shall my lonesome shadow go?”

The flute was originally joyous, but Li Mochou’s song was filled with sorrow, her tone mournful, it was completely different from the tune of ‘Liu Bo’. The voice became quieter, but the quieter it got, the higher it got.

Cheng Ying was slightly disturbed, she actually began to follow the song from ‘union is bliss’ and by ‘parting is woe’, she could no longer stop herself from following her. She was alarmed and quickly changed the tune, but the music from a flute is peaceful and serene but her internal energy was shallow, she could not produce a high tune to subdue the song of Li Mochou. She stumbled slightly and headed into the hut. She placed the jade flute down and sat aside. She began to play the zither. Yang Guo also started to sing to help.

Li Mochou’s song was becoming more and more mournful; Cheng Ying’s strings were producing higher and higher notes, a ‘zheng’ sound was heard as the first ‘zheng’ string on the zither suddenly snapped.

Cheng Ying was startled and her fingers became slightly disorganized, the zither’s second ‘yu’ string snapped. Li Mochou’s prolonged song was filled with tears, the third ‘gong’ string also snapped. Huang Yaoshi taught Cheng Ying the flute and zither; though she learned from a great master she was still young, her abilities with them were not profound.

Li Mochou had originally wanted to take the chance, when the opponent was disturbed and distracted with the broken strings, to break straight through. But she thought that, although the earth formation outside the hut seemed to be in a mess, yet hidden within were the changes of the five elements. She didn’t understand this particular art and she had suffered many times in the ancient tomb, there were some worries in her mind. She suddenly had an idea; she wound around to the right and crashed through the wall in the midst of the music and song.

Cheng Ying’s earth formation was placed to protect the front of the house and it slipped her mind that the sides of the house weren’t guarded. Li Mochou slipped around the house and with her two palms crashed through the earth walls. Lu Wushuang was alarmed; she raised her sword and rushed into the house.

Yang Guo was injured and had no strength to stand up and fight, he could only lie there, not moving. Cheng Ying knew that if she fought Li Mochou she would lose her life in vain. She made a decision and forgot about life and death; she started to play the zither, a song of ‘tao yao’. It was a beautiful tune, flowing with joy. In her heart she was thinking, “I have had a life of hardships, dieing here by brother Yang’s side means at least my life hasn’t been in vain.” She looked towards Yang Guo. Yang Guo gave a subtle smile towards her, Cheng Ying was filled with joy and bliss, she sang:

“The beauty of the blossom burns brightly, The zither flows the ocean spray,

The music carries the fragrance of flowers, the soothing spring breeze.”

The bitterness on Li Mochou’s face gradually disappeared, she asked Lu Wushuang, “Where’s the book? Was it the Beggar Clan who took it?”

Yang Guo took out the ‘Five Poison Codex’ and threw it over to her. He said, “The Beggar Clan’s Chief Huang and Chief Lu are righteous and virtuous people, what do they want with this evil book? They long ago passed down an order to Beggar Clan members to not to open even one page of this book.”

Li Mochou saw that this book was in its original condition; she knew the Beggar Clan was a righteous clan and had strict regulations; most probably they did not take a look at her book.

Yang Guo also took out the two half pieces of handkerchief from his pockets and placed it down on the end of the bed and said, “Take these handkerchiefs away!”

Li Mochou’s face changed completely, she waved her fly whisk and wrapped it around the handkerchiefs bringing them towards her. She held them in her hand, startled, her thoughts stirred, and her state of mind unstable.

Lu Wushuang and Cheng Ying looked at each other and both were red faced; they didn’t guess that the other would give a handkerchief half to Yang Guo, who now had brought them out into the open.

As one looked at the other, their hearts were filled with many thoughts and their eyes glistened. The air of death that was in the hut had now changed into an air of love. Cheng Ying’s song ‘Tao Yao’ was played with even more happiness.

Suddenly, Li Mochou tore the handkerchief in four and said, “The past is the past, why is there a need to return there?” Her hands ripped urgently for a while and then flung the pieces into the air; the pieces of the torn handkerchief fell like descending petals.

Cheng Ying was startled and after a ‘zheng’ sound, another string of the zither snapped. Li Mochou angrily shouted, “Break another string!”

In the midst of the mournful song, the fifth ‘gen’ string did indeed snap. Li Mochou chuckled and said, “Now I’m going to make you suffer, you won’t be able to beg for your life nor death, quickly wail for me.”

The zither had two strings remaining, Cheng Ying’s abilities with a zither were ordinary and it was difficult for her to form a tune. Li Mochou said, “Quickly play mournful notes! There is too much suffering in the world, what joy is there in living?”

Cheng Ying played two notes, although it didn’t form a tune, it was still following the music of the ‘Tao Yao’. Li Mochou said, “Fine, I’ll first kill one of you, will you be mournful then?”

That severely toned shout caused another string of the zither to snap, she raised her fly whisk, about to strike down on Lu Wushuang’s head.

Yang Guo smiled and said, “The three of us dying together today is a much happier experience than you will have living alone in the world. Sister Ying, Sister Shuang, come over here.” Lu Wushuang and Cheng Ying went over to the bed. Yang Guo’s right hand held Lu Wushuang, his left held Cheng Ying, he smiled and said, “The three of us dying together will allow us to chat and joke on the Huang Guan path (road to underworld), isn’t that ten times better than being that evil woman?”

Lu Wushuang smiled and said, “Yes, good Sha Dan, you’re right.” Cheng Ying gave a warm smile. The two cousins were both enchanted as Yang Guo held onto their hands.

Yet Yang Guo was thinking, “It’s a pity that it isn’t Gu Gu who is by my side.” But he forced a joyful smile, he lightly pulled the two closer against his body. Li Mochou thought, “He’s right, those three dying like this is better than living like me.” She pondered, “How can you have things that are to your advantage on this earth? I’ll make sure that you’re filled with sorrow and grief before you die.” So she lightly swung her fly whisk and with a face resembling bitter frost, she started to quietly sing. She was singing the ‘O mortals, what is love? That binds beyond life on earth?’ song; the song and tone was filled with sorrow and grief, like an abandoned woman crying, like a night ghost wailing.

The three of them held hands together as they listened, after a while, they couldn’t stop themselves from feeling hurt in their hearts. Yang Guo’s internal energy was relatively profound and wasn’t moved, his face still carried a subtle smile; Lu Wushuang was strong, she would not be easily moved; Cheng Ying however could endure no longer and tears flowed. The longer Li Mochou sang, the quieter it became, eventually, it was as if there was no song.

As soon as the three cried, the Scarlet Serpent Deity will wave out her fly whisk and kill them all. Just as soon as the song was becoming extremely sad and depressing, someone from outside the hut suddenly laughed out loud and clapped as they made their way towards the hut.

It was a woman’s voice, it appeared that the voice was not young but what she was singing was a naïve and innocent song: “Sway, sway, sway, sway until granny’s bridge falls, granny calls me my precious, sweets in one bag, fruit in the other, once I’ve finished I’ll take another.”

The song was filled with joy and happiness, Li Mochou’s sadness and the sorrow in her song was disturbed. The song was getting closer and closer. After a while someone entered the hut from the front door, it was a middle-aged woman with disheveled hair and clothes, her eyes round and wide open, she laughed foolishly and her hand held a fire fork (fireplace fork).

Li Mochou was startled, “How did she get past those piles of earth and enter through the main door so easily? If she isn’t with them then she must be versed in art of formations and changes.” As she concentrated on this, the power of her song immediately decreased.

When Cheng Ying saw this woman she was delighted and called out, “Senior Apprentice Sister, that woman wants to hurt me, help me.”

That disheveled hair woman was Sha Gu. She was actually a generation lower than Cheng Ying but she was a lot older, that’s the reason why Cheng Ying called her senior apprentice sister.

Sha Gu clapped her hands and laughed, she started to sing some songs at the top of her voice, she would sing songs like ‘Sparkling star in the sky, nothing on the ground my oh my’, ‘Precious Pagoda tip, surging up, the sky it rips’. Sometimes she would remember the wrong lyrics and replace them with whatever she thought of.

Li Mochou wanted to use the sorrowful and mournful song to subdue her but how would she know that it wouldn’t affect her. Love comes from the heart, but since her heart was full of confusion and disorder, even if the outside influence was stronger there will be no way to create and stir up these feelings. Instead, Sha Gu’s muddled up songs disturbed Li Mochou’s sorrowful tones, it ended her control over Yang Guo and the others.

Li Mochou was furious and thought, “I need to get rid of this person first.” Before the song finished, she waved her fly whisk and attacked her head.

Years ago, Huang Yaoshi punished his innocent disciples out of anger and as a result caused his disciple Qu Lingfeng to die at the hands of his enemies. He regretted this and so took in Qu Lingfeng’s daughter Sha Gu under his care and decided to teach everything he knew to her. However, when Sha Gu saw her father being harmed, she suffered a severe shock and it remained in her mind, no matter how many times Huang Yaoshi tried to make her better. A man cannot turn time back, without mentioning the futility of trying to teach her all the arts and martial arts he knew. Even trying to get her to recognize a few words and learn a few coarse martial arts was something that he couldn’t do. But over the last ten years, under the instruction of a great master, Sha Gu had learned a set of palm techniques and a fork technique. It’s called a set but really there were only three stances of palm and fork techniques.

Huang Yaoshi knew she would not remember any sort of variations or extraordinary stances so he thought deeply and came up with three palm stances and three fork stances. Those six stances were ordinary and didn’t have any variation behind them; the power of these techniques all comes from practice. When normal people practice martial arts, a little practice will lead to only tens of stances being learned, a lot will lead to variations surpassing a thousand. Sha Gu only practiced the six stances so as time went by, naturally these stances will be refined and precise; though there are few stances, it was not anything ordinary.

As to how she went through the formation, it was because she had lived on Peach Blossom Island for a long time, the formation that Cheng Ying had set up was a coarse and basic skill of Peach Blossom Island. Sha Gu didn’t even need to take a look and just naturally followed her steps forward to the hut.

Now, she saw Li Mochou’s fly whisk coming towards her; she thrust out the fork towards her chest. Li Mochou heard that the sound of air being sliced through and was furious, she couldn’t stop herself from being alarmed, “Hard to predict that this woman possesses such profound internal strength.” She quickly stepped to the left and sent the fly whisk towards her head. Sha Gu didn’t care what the opponent’s stance was and just thrust her fork forward. Li Mochou’s fly whisk twisted and wrapped around the head of the fork. It was as if Sha Gu didn’t see what had happened, the fork kept on going forward. Li Mochou circulated her internal energy to fling the weapon away but the fire fork didn’t move an inch, in a flash it was now in between her breasts. Li Mochou’s martial arts were high and she managed to use “Steps of the Turning Seven Stars” in this danger, and leapt out of the hole in the wall, avoiding this lightning like attack but, because of the fright, she broke out in a cold sweat. She concentrated and leapt back into the hut and attacked with her fly whisk in midair. Sha Gu didn’t change her stance with the enemy’s and just thrust forwards again but because the enemy was in the air, the fork was now aiming for her opponent’s abdomen.

Li Mochou saw the incoming attack was fast and powerful; she turned her fly whisk around and used the handle to block the attack and used its force to dart away. She looked at her stunned, thinking, “Just know, my three attacks contained nine different variations and twelve different follow ups; a skilled fighter of Wulin would not be able to see through them just like that. This woman just uses one fork and neutralized my sixty-three variations in these stances. This person’s martial arts are excellent, I’d better leave!”

She didn’t know that Sha Gu’s fork technique only had three stances; if Li Mochou fought for a little while longer she would be able to see through her martial arts and win easily. Sha Gu had three fork stances, just by using one fork stance she scared away an extremely powerful enemy, the master of Peach Blossom Island should be very proud.

Li Mochou turned around and was about to leap out of the hut through the hole in the wall when she saw someone sitting down by the hole. The person was in a blue green gown and had a long beard; it was the person who saved Cheng Ying from her clutches all those years ago, Huang Yaoshi. Island Master Huang. He was sitting down and had placed Cheng Ying’s zither on a stool.

When Li Mochou was in battle, her eyes and ears were extremely alert; how had Huang Yaoshi entered, how had he taken the zither and when had he sat down on the floor? She failed to notice all those things; if he had ambushed her from behind, wouldn’t taking her life be as easy as turning his palm?

When Li Mochou was exchanging stances with Sha Gu, she was worried about Cheng Ying and the others joining in to help so she did not stop her song, keeping their state of mind unbalanced. As she saw Huang Yaoshi sitting there quietly strumming the zither, she trembled and her song stopped.

Huang Yaoshi played one note on the zither and sang; “O mortals, what is love? That binds beyond life on earth?” He sang Li Mochou’s song. The zither only had the ‘yu’ string remaining but he still managed to play the notes of the ‘gong’, ‘shang’, ‘jiao’, ‘zheng’ and ‘yu’. With the mournful tone of the zither, Huang Yaoshi overwhelmed Li Mochou’s song.

Li Mochou was extremely familiar with this song; as soon as Huang Yaoshi added the tune, she was affected ten times deeper than when Yang Guo and the others were affected by her song. Huang Yaoshi had known long ago about her evil ways, today he wanted to take the opportunity to get rid of her.

Years ago he had used his jade flute to compete against Ouyang Feng’s iron zither and Hong Qi Gong’s whistling and fought to a draw. That was many years ago; because of his age, his vigor wasn’t what it used to be but his internal energy became more and more profound as he practiced. How could Li Mochou resist? In just a short while she felt her mind slipping out of her control.

Huang Yaoshi’s song and tune would suddenly turn joyous, then anger, resounding and overbearing, then suddenly lowly and humble, many changes in the wink of an eye. He was forcing Li Mochou to suddenly feel delight and then sorrow, suddenly anger then worry; when this song finishes, Li Mochou would have been forced to go mad.

Just at this time, Sha Gu turned her head around and suddenly saw Yang Guo, under the candlelight; he was an image of his father Yang Kang. The thing that Sha Gu is most afraid of are ghosts; the images of what had happened when Yang Kang died due to poison were deeply etched into her mind. She would never forget it. When she saw Yang Guo sitting there, she knew that it was Yang Kang’s ghost coming back to haunt her. She quickly leapt up and pointed to him, saying, “Brother… brother Yang, don’t… don’t hurt me… it… it wasn’t me who killed you… go… go and find someone else.”

Huang Yaoshi wasn’t prepared for her disturbance and a ‘zheng’ sound was heard as the final string on the zither snapped. Sha Gu hid behind him and called out, “Ghost… ghost… grandpa, it’s brother Yang’s ghost.”

With this pause, Li Mochou quickly used her fly whisk and extinguished all the candles in the room and leapt out through the hole in the wall.

Huang Yaoshi had yet to take her life and eventually she managed to escape; he had to uphold his status and so he could not go and chase after her.

Sha Gu was even more afraid in the dark and called out even louder, “It’s an evil ghost, grandpa, beat that ghost, beat that ghost!”

Huang Yaoshi kept Sha Gu in check. Cheng Ying lit the candles and then knelt on the floor and bowed to her master. She stood up and then told him the simple background of Yang Guo and Lu Wushuang.

Huang Yaoshi laughed and said, “My martial grand daughter has always been simple like this. She knew your father. You indeed do look a lot like him.”

Yang Guo bent his waist and bowed to him from the bed and said, “Forgive junior, I have an injury and cannot bow properly.”

Huang Yaoshi’s face was very friendly and said, “You didn’t give a care about your life and saved my daughter and granddaughter, you really are a good child.” Huang Yaoshi had seen Huang Rong and knew what had happened, he heard that Cheng Ying had rescued him so he took Sha Gu with him and searched for them.

Huang Yaoshi took out some effective recuperative medicine and gave it to Yang Guo to take. He then circulated his internal energy and passed it into Yang Guo through his palm to help him recover. Yang Guo felt as if his arms were on fire, his body started to create a force to repel this. Huang Yaoshi felt him tremble and noticed that his veins and chi were circulating, there was a resisting internal energy that was being created so he increased the strength in his hands. After a while, Yang Guo felt his limbs and bones were at ease and soothed, and gradually he fell into a deep sleep.

When Yang Guo woke up the next day, he opened his eyes and saw Huang Yaoshi sitting at the end of the bed. He quickly sat up and greeted him.

Huang Yaoshi said, “Do you know what title I go by in Jianghu?” Yang Guo said, “Senior is Island Master Huang?”

Huang Yaoshi said, “And?”

Yang Guo felt that it was inappropriate to say the words ‘Eastern Heretic’ but he had a thought, since his nickname is ‘Eastern Heretic’, his character will be different to normal people so he boldly said, “You are the ‘Eastern Heretic’!”

Huang Yaoshi laughed and said, “Correct. I’ve heard that your martial arts are not bad, your heart is good but you do things in heretical ways. I also heard that you want to marry your Master, is that right?”

Yang Guo said, “Correct, senior, no one will allow me to do this, but even if I’ll die I still want to marry her.”

Those words were like a nail striking metal; Huang Yaoshi stared at him for a while and then suddenly raised his head and laughed towards the sky, shaking the grass on the roof.

Yang Guo said angrily, “What’s so funny about that? I thought that because you are called ‘Eastern Heretic’, you would have some extraordinary opinion, but who would have thought that you are just like the others.”

Huang Yaoshi loudly said, “Good, good, good!” After he said this, he turned around and left.

Yang Guo sat on the bed startled, he thought, “My words really offended that senior. But how come he didn’t show any signs of anger on his face?”

He didn’t know that as Huang Yaoshi roamed the world and the one thing he hated most were the present custom and traditions of the world. His actions and words did not match with the normal and because of this he was given the name ‘Heretic’. He had met many people, but in his life, he did not have an understanding friend. Though he had a daughter and son-in-law as loved ones, they did not understand him. He didn’t know that in his later years he would come upon Yang Guo.

The events of the heroes meet had already spread to his ears and Huang Rong told him about this young man’s actions and behavior. After speaking to him a few times he found that Yang Guo matched his expectations even more.

That night, Huang Yaoshi returned to the room and said, “Yang Guo, I heard you expelled yourself from the Quanzhen sect and beat up your Master, you are rather heretical. Why don’t you leave the Ancient Tomb sect, and then enter my tutelage.”

Yang Guo was startled and said, “Why?”

Huang Yaoshi laughed and said, “First you’ll acknowledge that Xiao Longnu is not your Master and then marry her, won’t that be proper?”

Yang Guo said, “That’s a good idea. But who set the rule that you can’t marry your Master? I want her to be my Master and my wife.”

Huang Yaoshi clapped and laughed, he said, “Good! The way you think is a level higher than me.” He stretched out his hand to help him recuperate through his palms and said, “I originally wanted you to enter my tutelage so I could let the world know that after Senior Heretic Huang, there’s a young Heretic Yang. You don’t want to be my disciple; I can’t do anything about that.”

Yang Guo said, “I don’t have to be your disciple to spread your ‘Heretic’ name. If you don’t mind me being of a young age and have poor martial arts, we could be friends or else we could become brothers.”

Huang Yaoshi angrily said, “You sure are bold for a little kid. I’m not the Old Urchin Zhou Botong, how can there be no order between us?”

Yang Guo said, “Who’s the Old Urchin Zhou Botong?”

Huang Yaoshi then told him a few things about Zhou Botong’s character and how he became sworn brothers with Guo Jing.

The two of them chatted and hit it off perfectly, there’s a saying: ‘A thousand cups is too little for understanding friends who meet through wine, half a word is too much for those whose words don’t get along’.

Yang Guo was good with words and they got along because of the closeness of his character to Huang Yaoshi’s. Whenever he spoke, Huang Yaoshi would sigh as someone who understood him. For Huang Yaoshi, it really was like the first meeting of an old friend, a meeting that has come extremely late in life. Though he didn’t admit it through his words, in his heart he treated him as a friend of old. That night he told Cheng Ying to prepare another bed for him in the same room and the two continued their exchange. Days passed and Yang Guo recovered from his injury. He and Huang Yaoshi were like glue, like paint, it was difficult to separate the two. Huang Yaoshi had originally wanted to take Sha Gu south but now he didn’t mention one word about leaving. Cheng Ying and Lu Wushuang watched the old and young with amusement; in the day they would drink wine together and at night, they would talk in the candlelight without end. They felt that the old man didn’t maintain the status of a Senior and the young man was too unrestrained and fearless.

When it came to discussions of knowledge, Yang Guo wasn’t anywhere as knowledgeable as Huang Yaoshi. But whatever Huang Yaoshi said, Yang Guo would concentrate on understanding. When he made a comment he would just add a single word yet his comment had its fine points. Huang Yaoshi couldn’t stop himself from treating him as the closest friend in his life.

In these past few days, apart from spending time with Huang Yaoshi talking, he would always think about how Sha Gu mistakenly recognized him as his father and the words that she said, “It wasn’t me who killed you, go and find someone else!” He knew that Sha Gu must know who had killed his father; other people might not say, but Sha Gu is mad and crazy and maybe he could get the truth from her.

After midday, Yang Guo said, “Sha Gu, come, I have something to say to you.”

Sha Gu felt that he looked too much like Yang Kang and was still afraid; she shook her head and said, “I don’t want to play with you.” Yang Guo said, “I know circus tricks, are you going to watch?”

Sha Gu shook her head and said, “You’re lying, I don’t want to watch.” She closed her eyes after she said this. Yang Guo suddenly flipped upside down with his legs above his head and called out, “Quickly look!” He used the martial arts that Ouyang Feng taught him of walking upside down and leaping forward. Sha Gu opened her eyes and was delighted as soon as she saw this, she clapped and cheered and followed behind him.

Yang Guo kept on leaping forward and arrived at a hidden and covered wood faraway from the hut, he turned upright and said, “Let’s play hide and seek, you want to? But the loser has to be punished.”

Sha Gu has been following Huang Yaoshi for the past few years; nobody played with her. When she heard Yang Guo say this, she was ecstatic and clapped her hands, most of the fear she had for him disappeared and she said, “Yes, yes. Good brother, what is the punishment?” She called his father brother, and she also called him brother.

Yang Guo took out a handkerchief and blindfolded her and said, “Come and catch me. If you catch me, then whatever question you ask I’ll have to answer it truthfully. If you can’t catch me then I get to ask you a question, you have to answer it truthfully as well.”

Sha Gu replied, “Good, good!”

Yang Guo called out, “I’m over here, come and catch me!”

Sha Gu opened her arms and followed the calls. Yang Guo possessed the lightness kung fu of the Ancient Tomb sect, even if Sha Gu wasn’t blindfolded she would not be able to catch him, after chasing for a while, she crashed into a tree and bruised her forehead as a result; she started to cry out in pain.

Yang Guo was afraid that Sha Gu would not want to play anymore so he deliberately slowed down and made light noise. Sha Gu rushed forward and grabbed his back and called out, “I’ve caught you, I’ve caught you!” Her face was full of delight as she took off her blindfold.

Yang Guo said, “Fine, I’ve lost, ask me ask a question.”

She stared at him, startled, her mind was uncertain; she didn’t know what to ask. After a long while, she asked, “Good brother, have you eaten yet?”

She thought for so long but came up with such a simple question, Yang Guo almost laughed. He didn’t make a sound and seriously replied, “I’ve eaten already.”

Sha Gu nodded and didn’t say anything else. Yang Guo said, “What else do you want to ask?”

Sha Gu shook her head and said, “I don’t want to ask anymore, let’s play again.” Yang Guo said, “Fine, come and catch me.”

Sha Gu touched the bruise on her forehead and said, “This time it’s your turn to catch me.” This time, she didn’t act crazy, Yang Guo didn’t predict this but since this was what he wanted he took the handkerchief and blindfolded himself. Though Sha Gu was mad, her lightness kung fu was pretty good; Yang Guo couldn’t see, how could he catch her? He leapt forward a few times and then secretly he tore an opening in the blindfold and saw her hiding on the right behind a large tree. He deliberately faced the left, pretending to think, he said, “Where are you? Where are you?” He suddenly flipped over and caught her wrist. He quickly put the handkerchief in his pockets with his left hand in case she saw the ripped handkerchief. He laughed and said, “This time it’s my turn to ask you a question.”

Sha Gu said, “I’ve eaten already.” Yang Guo laughed and said, “I’m not asking about that. This is my question, you know my father, right?” His face was extremely serious as he said this.

Sha Gu said, “Who’s your father?”

Yang Guo said, “There’s a person who looks just like me, who is that?” Sha Gu said, “Ah, that’s brother Yang.”

Yang Guo asked, “You saw that brother Yang being killed by someone didn’t you?”

Sha Gu said, “Yeah, it was in the middle of the night in a temple, there were lots of crows calling out ‘wu ai’, ‘wu ai’, ‘wu ai’!” The forest was covered and hidden and was already dark; the calls made the forest seem even more eerie.

Yang Guo trembled and asked, “How did brother Yang die?”

Sha Gu said, “Auntie wanted me to say something but brother Yang didn’t allow me to say it; he struck Auntie with a palm and laughed out loud, ha-ha! Ha-ha! Ha-ha!” She used all her efforts in copying Yang Kang’s laugh before he died, her laugh even scared herself and her face was filled with fear.

Yang Guo listened puzzled, he asked, “Who is Auntie?” Sha Gu said, “Auntie is Auntie.”

Yang Guo knew that the puzzle to his father’s death was about to be solved, he was full of emotions and was about to ask another question when suddenly someone from behind said, “What are you two playing here?” It was Huang Yaoshi’s voice.

Sha Gu said, “Good brother is playing hide and seek with me. It was he who wanted me to play, not me wanting him to play. Don’t scold me.”

Huang Yaoshi smiled a little and then looked at Yang Guo, he looked as if he has seen through what Yang Guo was thinking about.

Yang Guo’s heart raced, he was about to say a few words to cover it up. Suddenly, footsteps could be heard from outside the forest, Cheng Ying was holding Lu Wushuang as they hurried towards them and she said to Huang Yaoshi, “Master is right, she is still around.” She then pointed to the hill in the west.

Yang Guo asked, “Who?” Cheng Ying said, “Li Mochou!”

Yang Guo was extremely shocked; he was thinking why on earth was she so bold, he looked at Huang Yaoshi, hoping that he will be able to explain.

Huang Yaoshi gave laugh and said, “Let’s go over there and take a look.” None of them had any fear with him around, so they headed towards that hill in the west.

Cheng Ying knew that Yang Guo had questions in his heart and quietly said, “Master said that Li Mochou knows that he has the status of a great Master. That night he wanted to take her life but he was unable to at the first attempt, a second attempt on her life would be shameful.”

Yang Guo understood. Alarmed he said, “Because of this she could guard this place confidently and wait for the chance to take our lives. If Island Master Huang hadn’t seen through this, we would have thought that she had long gone and let our guard down and eventually suffered by her hands.”

Cheng Ying smiled warmly and nodded. Lu Wushuang interrupted, “You think you are cleverer than most people; but compared with Island Master Huang, there’s a long way to go.”

Yang Guo laughed and said, “I’m Sha Dan, I’m dumber than most people; I’m Sha Gu’s good brother.”

The five of them soon arrived on the hill. There was a small hut beside a large tree, it was broken and dilapidated; there was a piece of paper nailed onto the door. On it were four lines:

The master of Peach Blossom Island, Disciples he has many,

Five against one,

It’s the laughing stock of Jianghu!

Huang Yaoshi laughed and casually picked up two pebbles and placed them in between his middle finger and thumb, after a ‘chi’ ‘chi’ sound, the pebbles shot forward forcefully. A ‘pai’ sound was heard as the two small pebbles, from over ten paces away, knocked the doors open.

When Yang Guo was on Peach Blossom Island, he heard from Guo Fu that her grandfather had a skill called the “Divine Flicking Finger”; today, he saw it with his own eyes and it far exceeded the tales about it; he was in awe.

Once the doors opened, they saw Li Mochou sitting on a mat on the floor, her hands holding her fly whisk, her eyes closed; she looked collected and was meditating just like a Taoist. She was in the hut by herself; Hong Lingbo was nowhere to be seen. A thought went through Yang Guo’s mind and he understood, “She’s laughing at Island Master Huang for having many disciples and winning through numbers, that’s why she sent Hong Lingbo away to make it even more apparent. She’s confident not because she can defend against Island Master Huang, it’s because since she’s by herself. With Island Master Huang’s status, it would not be appropriate to attack her.”

The memories of her parents death and the torment she’s had through the years stirred in Lu Wushuang; she suddenly drew out her sword and called out, “Cousin, Sha Dan, we don’t have the same restraints as Island Master Huang about fighting her, let’s all attack her.”

Sha Gu rubbed her knuckles and palms and said, “And me!”

Li Mochou opened her eyes and glanced across at the five; a look of contempt was on her face and she closed her eyes again; it was as if she was ignoring the enemies in front of her. Cheng Ying looked at her master, waiting for his orders.

Huang Yaoshi sighed and said, “Indeed, old Heretic Huang has many disciples, if any of my four senior disciples Qu, Chen, Mei, Lu were here, how would she be allowed to say a word?” He then waved his hand and said, “Let’s leave.”

The four of them did not understand what he was thinking and followed him back to the hut. They saw that he was unhappy; he went to bed and didn’t even eat supper.

Yang Guo slept on the bed next to his and recalled the things he said with Sha Gu; he then pondered about Li Mochou, and he thought, “She’s laughing at us because its five against one. I’ve recovered from my injury now, with my strength alone I might not lose to her; why don’t I sneak away and fight a round with her. This way I can clear her insults about me and Gu Gu and help Island Master Huang vent his anger.”

He made his decision and dressed himself quietly. Though he was impulsive, he did things rather carefully; he knew Li Mochou was a very strong foe, if he made just one wrong move he would die by her hands. So he sat on his bed circulating his chi and prepared himself, once he was at his peak, he would go and fight the duel to the death.

He had sat there for around an hour when suddenly his eyes lit up, chi was everywhere in his body and he couldn’t stop himself from calling out. The call was like the roar of a dragon, like a tiger bellowing in a deep valley, the sound spreading far and wide.

Huang Yaoshi had noticed that he was awake when he had got up to dress himself; when he heard this extraordinary call, he was shocked and delighted. He hadn’t predicted that Yang Guo’s internal energy would make a break through right at this time.

When someone’s internal energy reaches a certain stage, they would unconsciously call out.

Later on in the Ming Dynasty, the Da Ru King Yang Ming was practicing his chi in the middle in the night in his encampment when he suddenly made a prolonged call, shocking his entire camp.

Yang Guo’s chi was abundant and it was hard for him to control, the bellow spread for many li.

Cheng Ying and Lu Wushuang were extremely startled; even Li Mochou was frightened when she heard it. But she thought that it was Huang Yaoshi who was exercising his chi, there was no need to be afraid since he wasn’t going to do anything.

Yang Guo had the help of the ‘Chilled Jade Bed’ and had practiced the important aspects of the “Jade Heart Manual” and “Nine Yin Manual”; his accumulated internal energy had become profound. A few days before, Huang Yaoshi had helped him to recuperate, but Island Master Huang’s internal energy was of a different nature to his. It was provoked by this extremely profound internal energy, now he couldn’t control himself and released a long bellow.

The bellow continued for a while before gradually it quieted and then stilled.

Huang Yaoshi thought, “I have always thought that my talents were not of this earth, yet I had to wait until I was thirty before reaching such a stage. This young man has reached this stage at least ten years before me; I wonder what events he has encountered?” He waited for Yang Guo to finish and stand up before asking, “Tell me, what do you think is Li Mochou’s most powerful skill?”

When Yang Guo heard this, he knew that his intentions had been seen through and replied, “It is the “Divine Five Poison Palm” and her fly whisk techniques.”

Huang Yaoshi said, “Correct, since your internal energy has some foundation it shouldn’t be difficult to neutralize her most proficient skill.” Yang Guo was delighted and bowed down to him. Yang Guo was very proud; though he recognized Huang Yaoshi was a senior and his abilities were superb, he wouldn’t lower his head to him. Now that he heard that the martial arts Li Mochou used to roam the realm could be neutralized, how could he not be in awe?”

Huang Yaoshi then taught him the skill of the “Divine Flicking Finger” to neutralize Li Mochou’s “Divine Five Poison Palms” and a sword technique derived from his “Jade Flute Swordplay” to neutralize the fly whisk techniques.

Yang Guo listened to him point out the important aspects of these techniques and then asked him to explain some of the difficulties; he concentrated and committed them to memory. But he felt that although these two types of martial arts are profound and masterly, to make some progress, one will need to practice for at least a year. If he wanted to reach a stage where he would be able to beat her, it would take three years and no less. He said, “Island Master Huang, there is no way to beat her right now.”

Huang Yaoshi said, “Three years will pass in the blink of an eye. Then you’ll be twenty one or twenty two years of age, and will have learned these two types of martial arts. Isn’t that enough?”

Yang Guo said, “I’m… I’m not doing it for me…”

Huang Yaoshi patted his shoulder and said warmly, “When you kill her for me three years from now, I will be extremely touched. Years ago I destroyed my disciples, shouldn’t I get some kind of payback today?” He gave a long sigh after he said this.

Yang Guo knelt down and kowtowed eight times to him and then called out, “Master!” He knew that Huang Yaoshi had passed on martial arts to him so that he will be able to cleanse the four lines of Li Mochou’s insult. To do this, they will have to be recognized as master and disciple. But Huang Yaoshi knew that his ties with the Ancient Tomb were extremely deep, he would be unwillingly to accept another master so he helped him up and said, “When you fight that witch, you are my disciple, at all other times, you are my friend. Little brother Yang, do you understand?”

Yang Guo laughed and said, “To be able to make a friend like you really is a glorious event.”

Huang Yaoshi said, “The two of us meeting is the luck of three generations.” The two of them laughed, their sounds moving the four walls.

Huang Yaoshi once again explained in detail the secrets and ideas of the “Divine Flicking Finger” and the “Jade Flute Swordplay” to him. Yang Guo noted that he was explaining them thoroughly and knew that he was about to leave.

He said gloomily, “We’ve just met and now we are about to part; when will we be able to meet again?”

Huang Yaoshi laughed and said, “The two of us are linked; even if we are at the opposite ends of the world, we’ll still be like neighbors. If in the future I find out that someone is blocking your marriage, even if I’m ten thousand li away, I will rush back and help you.”

Yang Guo was comforted by this promise and laughed, “I’m afraid that the first person who will come out and stop this marriage will be your loved one.”

Huang Yaoshi said, “She marries her ideal man and forgets about the suffering and bitterness of others? My precious daughter only listens to her husband, ha-ha, ‘obey the husband when married’, that really is something!” He laughed loudly after he said this and turned around and left the room, in a flash his laughter could be heard tens of feet away, he really moved like a divine dragon leaving no trace.

Yang Guo stood there for a while stunned and then sat down and went over the two martial arts that he had just learned. Not long after, the sky became bright. He saw the door open, Cheng Ying had entered with blue green cloth and a blue green gown in her hands; she gave a little smile and said, “Try this on, see whether it fits you.”

Yang Guo was extremely touched; his hands trembled slightly as he received it.

Their eyes met and he saw that Cheng Ying’s eyes were full of love and boundless tenderness. He went over to the side of the bed and tried the new gown. He felt that the gown fitted perfectly and said, “I’m… I’m… I’m really grateful.”

Cheng Ying showed another smile but immediately a depressed expression was on her face, she sighed and said, “Master has gone, I don’t know when I’ll be able to see him again.” She was about to sit down and say something when she saw a yellow image at the door that immediately disappeared. She knew it was her cousin outside and thought, “That girl has too many thoughts, it’s not appropriate for me to stay in his room for too long.” She stood up and slowly walked out.

He carefully studied the gown and noticed that the stitching was careful and tight, he thought, “She and Wifey treat me the same but my heart belongs to someone else, I can’t love any others. If I don’t leave soon, I’ll be giving those two a lot of grief.” He thought about this for half a day. He was also afraid that when he leaves, Li Mochou would come and attack them. He went to her hut to take a look and saw that in its place was a pile of ash, Li Mochou had burned the hut and left.

The enemy had left and so that night, he wrote a parting letter by candlelight; he thought about the two girls’ love and felt depressed. He saw that his letter wasn’t worded with great aptitude and his handwriting was poor; he was afraid that Cheng Ying would laugh and so ripped the letter up. That night he tossed and turned in his bed as he tried to sleep.

In his blurry state, he suddenly heard Lu Wushuang tapping his door and calling out, “Sha Dan, Sha Dan! Quickly come and take a look.” Her voice sounded rather anxious and afraid.

Yang Guo got up, dressed himself, and opened the door; he felt a slightly chilly breeze and the sky wasn’t bright yet.

Lu Wushuang’s face was filled with fear and pointed at the outside of the door. Yang Guo followed her hand and was shocked; there were four blood red handprints on the door. Li Mochou must have come over to survey the group and found that Huang Yaoshi had left; the four prints were left to tell them that she was going to kill the four of them.

Cheng Ying came out after them and asked, “When did you see this?” Lu Wushuang said, “Before the sky started to get bright.” Once she said this, her face went red. She was longing for Yang Guo and had paced back and forth below his window.

Cheng Ying pretended that she didn’t know and said, “Luckily you didn’t bump into her. The sun has begun to rise, that witch won’t come again today. We’ve still got time to plan.” The three of them returned to Yang Guo’s room and discussed what to do about the situation.

Lu Wushuang said, “She had a taste of Sha Gu’s kung fu the other day, how come she’s not afraid of her?”

Cheng Ying said, “Apprentice sister’s fork technique only has a few stances. She went away and thought about it carefully and must have come up with a way to neutralize it.”

Lu Wushuang said, “However, Sha Dan has recovered from his injury; with the two Sha people together, won’t their power be great?” Yang Guo laughed and said, “With Sha Dan plus a Sha Gu, you’ve got dumb and dumber, what power?”

The three of them continued their discussion for a while but couldn’t come up with any great plan. They thought about the four of them fighting together; they won’t be able to beat her but could protect themselves. They decided on fighting her with all their might when she came again the next day.

Yang Guo said, “The two Sha people will join up and fight her from the front, you two attack from the sides. Let’s go find Sha Gu and practice our plan.”

The three of them called for Sha Gu but there was no reply. They didn’t know where she was and the three of them began to worry. The three of them split up to search for her.

Cheng Ying searched for a little while and suddenly saw Sha Gu lying on a pile of rocks, her breathing was weak. Cheng Ying was alarmed and quickly took off her clothes to take a look; she saw that there was a red palm print on her back; she had fallen victim to Li Mochou’s “Divine Five Poison Palm”. Cheng Ying quickly called for Yang Guo and Lu Wushuang and then fed a ‘Nine Flower Jade Dew’ pill to her.

Yang Guo remembered the method to cure this palm from the ‘Five Poison Codex’ and quickly circulated his internal energy and controlled her pressure points.

Sha Gu laughed foolishly and said, “Evil woman, behind, hit me. Sha Gu, hit back, hit her.” The counterattack that Sha Gu used was one of the three palms techniques that Huang Yaoshi taught her. Though Li Mochou succeeded in her ambush, she was struck on the arm and her arm was almost broken; she was frightened and in pain so she left swiftly, not daring to continue her stances and take Sha Gu’s life.

The three took Sha Gu back to the hut and sat anxiously; with one of the good fighters hurt, in tomorrow’s battle it would be even harder to defend against her. Sha Gu had a serious injury; if they escaped with her in tow, they would definitely be caught by Li Mochou.

Yang Guo looked at Cheng Ying and then at Lu Wushuang. Then he then picked up a piece of string from the needle basket that was at hand and then grabbed a pair of scissors and started to cut.

Sha Gu was lying on the bed and suddenly called out “Cut it; cut that evil woman’s broom! Cut that broom!” She didn’t know it was called a ‘fly whisk’ and called it a ‘broom’.

Yang Guo had an idea, “That witch’s fly whisk is a soft weapon and she uses it superbly; precious sabers and sharp swords can’t harm her. If there really was a large pair of scissors that could be used as a weapon and cut her fly whisk, that would be great.” As he thought about this, the string in his left hand started to move like a fly whisk, the scissors in his right hand came forward and cut the string in two. He then pondered about the fly whisk’s movements and how to control the scissors to attack; dreaming up a set of techniques.

Cheng Ying and Lu Wushuang watched for a while and then understood, delight was on their faces. Cheng Ying said, “There’s a blacksmith seven or eight li north of here...”

Lu Wushuang interrupted and said, “Good, we’ll go and get that blacksmith to forge a large pair of scissors.”

Yang Guo thought, “It would be difficult to forge this weapon in such a rush and I’ll have to adjust to the change of battle. This is a lot easier than learning the “Jade Flute Swordplay”, and anyway, we don’t have another plan so we’ve got to give it a try.”

If one of them leaves and takes the order to the blacksmith, it will be extremely dangerous if Li Mochou were to suddenly ambush that person. Right now the four of them could not be separated. So Cheng Ying and Lu Wushuang set up some bedding on the horse and placed Sha Gu on the back of the horse. They made their way to the blacksmith.

After the Mongols conquered the Jin, they entered the boundaries of the Song land. This place was the northern frontier of the Song borders, the Mongols had ransacked cities and towns and the whole place was in ruins.

The blacksmith shop was very simple; in the middle was a large anvil, on the floor were pieces of coal and fragments of metals and there were a few plows and sickles hung on the wall. There was no one in the shop. Yang Guo looked at the shop and thought, “How can weapons be made here!” But since they’ve made their way here, he might as well ask so he called out loudly, “Is the blacksmith home?”

After a while, an old man entered from a side room; his beard and hair was grey, he was about fifty years old. The man had a hump, most probably from bending down to forge metal over a long time; his eyes were red and small because of smoke from the fires. His left leg was crippled and he had a crutch under his arm. He said, “How can I help you?”

Yang Guo was about to reply when suddenly the noise of galloping horses could be heard; two horses rushed towards the shop. On one of the horses was a Mongolian captain, on the other was a Han, Yang Guo didn’t know whether he was a translator or a guide.

The Han loudly said, “Blacksmith Feng? Come over here and listen to the orders.” The old man greeted them and said, “I am he.”

The Han said, “The captain has the following orders: all the blacksmiths of this town have three days to gather together at Xian city to aid the army. You have to be there tomorrow, you hear?”

Blacksmith Feng said, “I am old…”

The Mongolian captain raised his whip and said a few words.

The Han said, “If you’re not there tomorrow, you’ll watch your head get cut off.” After he said this, the two left.

Blacksmith Feng stood there and was lost in thought. Cheng Ying saw that he was old and pitiful; she took out some money and placed it on the table. She said, “Master Feng, you’re old and can’t move well, won’t working in the Mongolian camp lead to losing your life for no reason? Take this money and run away!”

Blacksmith Feng sighed and said, “Thank you for Miss’s kindness. This old blacksmith has lived for so long, living and dying isn’t much to me. But the thousands and thousands of lives of Jiangnan will be in danger.”

The three of them were startled and asked, “Why?”

Blacksmith Feng said, “The Mongolian army is gathering blacksmiths to forge weapons. Once they have enough, they will definitely invade south into the land of the Song.”

The three of them heard that his words were carefully thought and were very reasonable; they wanted to ask further when Blacksmith Feng said, “What do you three want to order?”

Yang Guo said, “Since Master Feng has other matters to attend to, I shouldn’t disturb you but I need it urgently so I have to trouble you.” Yang Guo then described the form and size of the scissors to him. The scissors were a special object but no one would have thought that as soon as Blacksmith Feng heard it, there were not any signs of surprise on his face. He nodded and pushed and pulled the air bellows and started the furnace up. He then placed two pieces of iron into the furnace.

Yang Guo said, “Will it be forged by tonight?”

Blacksmith Feng said, “I will do my best and go as fast as possible.” He pulled and pushed the air bellows furiously, the coals turned a blood red color.

Sha Gu was on a table; half lying down and half sitting up. Yang Guo and the others whose homeland was Jiangnan, though young, when they heard their homeland was in danger, they were worried. The three of them looked at the furnace and thought about the trouble and strife of the world. Human lives weren’t regarded as important and there was worry, hardships and danger everywhere. Though they were facing difficulties the next day, the fear in their hearts diminished a little.

In a little over two hours, blacksmith Feng had heated the iron. He used tongs in his left hand and placed the softened metal on the anvil, with his right, he used an iron hammer to forge the metal. Though he was old, he was still strong; it seemed as if he didn’t use any effort in using the hammer. After a while, the two pieces of metal started to take the rough shape of a large pairs of scissors, forming gradually.

Lu Wushuang said happily, “Sha Dan, it’s going to be made in time.”

Suddenly a voice from behind said coldly, “Making a pair of scissors to cut my fly whisk?” The three of them were startled and turned their heads around, only to see Li Mochou standing at the entrance, lightly waving her fly whisk about.

The weapon had yet to be finished but the enemy had arrived. Cheng Ying and Lu Wushuang both drew their swords. Yang Guo looked at an iron rod by the furnace, as soon as the enemy makes her move, he will grab the rod and use it.

Li Mochou chuckled, “Forging a pair of large scissors to cut my fly whisk; only you kids would think of that. I’ll sit here and wait for you to finish, there’s still time.” She then sat on a bench, and looked upon the three as nothing to worry about.

Yang Guo said, “That’s good. I say that your fly whisk will definitely be cut by the scissors.”

Li Mochou saw Sha Gu sitting up on the table and thought, “That woman took a palm of mine and is still able to sit up, she’s quite good.” She asked coldly, “Where’s Huang Yaoshi?”

When Blacksmith Feng heard the three words ‘Huang Yaoshi’ he shivered and looked up at her and then immediately lowered his head, continuing with the forging.

Cheng Ying said, “You know that my master is not here, so why ask? If you knew he was still here, even if you’ve got the greatest gall of anyone, you wouldn’t dare come.”

Li Mochou gave a ‘humph’ sound and took out a piece of paper from her pockets and said, “Huang Yaoshi got his fame by taking in many disciples and relying on numbers to win. Huh! Out of all his disciples, which one was really able?” She waved out her left hand and the paper flew away, her arm moved slightly and a silver needle shot out, pinning the piece of paper on a pillar. She said, “I’ll leave this as evidence. When that old ‘Heretic’ Huang comes back, he’ll know who killed his two precious disciples.” She turned her head around to Blacksmith Feng and said, “Work quicker, I’m getting impatient.”

Blacksmith Feng squinted his red eyes and looked at the piece of paper, he saw the words: The Master of Peach Blossom Island,

Disciples he has many,

Five against one,

It’s the laughing stock of Jianghu!

He looked up at the roof and was lost in thought.

Li Mochou said, “Why aren’t you working quickly?”

Blacksmith Feng lowered his head and said, “Yes, quicker, quicker.” His left hand stretched out the iron tongs and held the needle and paper, he placed them into the flaming fire of the furnace; in a flash the paper burned to ash.

Everyone was extremely surprised by this event. Li Mochou was furious; she raised her fly whisk and wanted to strike down on his head but thought, “This small town blacksmith is extremely bold, could it be that he is an extraordinary person?” She was now standing, she then slowly sat down asked, “Who are you?”

Blacksmith Feng said, “Can’t you see? I’m an old blacksmith.” Li Mochou said, “Why did you burn my piece of paper?”

Blacksmith Feng said, “The words on the paper are wrong; it’s best not to hang it in this shop.” Li Mochou said sternly, “What’s wrong with the words?”

Blacksmith Feng said, “The Master of Peach Blossom Island has the ability to move heaven and earth, all his disciples need to do is to learn one art of his and they will be able to roam the realm. His first disciple is called Qu Lingfeng, his lightness kung fu is divine, and he is specialized in the art of the Iron Eight Trigram Palms, the variations in his martial arts are incredible. His second disciple is Chen Xuanfeng, he has trained his body to the point of that his bones and muscles are as strong as bronze and iron, impenetrable by sabers and spears. Have you heard about this?” When he was talking, he was still forging at the same time; the hammering sounds increased the force of his words.

Li Mochou was surprised when she heard him mention Qu Lingfeng; Yang Guo and others were also surprised. They would never have thought that an old blacksmith in a place like this would know about the people of Jianghu.

Li Mochou said, "Humph, there’s a tale around Jianghu, that someone snuck into the imperial palace to steal treasures and he was killed by the imperial guards. That was the Qu Lingfeng with his incredible variations in martial arts. As for the Bronze Corpse Chen Xuanfeng, I heard that a little child stabbed him to death, what is so powerful about him? Impenetrable by sabers and spears, bah, such nonsense!"

Blacksmith Feng said: "Hmm, hmmm The Master of the Peach Blossom Island's third disciple is called Mei Chaofeng, although she

is a woman. Her claw and whip techniques are very fierce."

Li Mochou laughed and said, “Yes, that woman's claw and whip techniques were just too fierce, because of this the Seven Freaks of Jiangnan blinded her and later on, Western Poison Ouyang Feng shattered her lungs.”

Blacksmith Feng was stunned for a while and then said bleakly, “That happened? I didn’t know about it. The Master of Peach Blossom Island’s fourth disciple is Lu Chengfeng, his lightness kung fu is divine, the “Slashing Air Palm” extraordinarily powerful.”

Li Mochou said, “Someone with two broken legs and who can't walk, that must be Lu Chengfeng with his divine lightness kung fu. Without working legs, he should rely on the wind (Chengfeng means ‘ride on the wind’) to fly, Ha-ha! Powerful “Slashing Air Palm”… every palm that comes out meets thin air; that is the “Slashing Air Palm” of the Master of Peach Blossom Island.”

Blacksmith Feng lowered his head, two ‘chi’ sounds were heard as two tear drops landed on the heated iron and turned into steam.

Lu Wushuang was sitting the closest to him and saw his tears clearly; she secretly wondered what it was about. She just saw him raised his hammer even higher, the striking sounds of the metal now even louder. After a while, Blacksmith Feng continued, “Peach Blossom Island has four senior disciples; Qu, Chen, Mei, Lu. The fourth disciple Lu Chengfeng had not only great martial arts; he was also well versed in the arts of formations and changes. If you meet him, you definitely won’t be able to escape.”

Li Mochou chuckled and said, “What use is the art of formations and changes? He built the Returning Cloud Manor by Lake Tai, the men of Jianghu said that is was extremely ingenious, but someone burned it to the ground. From then onwards there was no news of him; most probably he got burned to death along with his manor.”

Feng Mofeng continued: "The beloved daughter of the Master of the Peach Blossom Island is also the leader of the Beggars' Clan. Chief Huang's intelligence is unsurpassed and she is famous throughout the realm. If she wanted to deal with you, you would never be able to see it coming."

Li Mochou scoffed: "Young Huang Rong, I dare to say that she doesn't really have any true martial arts. She just relies on her husband's fame and great martial arts. The reason why she could become the leader of the Beggars' Association is due to the fact that her teacher was Hong Qigong and he supported her in becoming the leader."

Blacksmith Feng raised his head and said sternly, “You talk rubbish priestess, all the disciples of the Master of Peach Blossom Island are highly skilled in martial arts, how could they all fall at the hands of others? Are you trying to take advantage of this country bumpkin not knowing the matters of the world?”

Li Mochou chuckled and said, “Ask those three kids and you’ll know.” Blacksmith Feng turned his head towards Cheng Ying, his eyes inquiring.

Cheng Ying stood up and said gloomily, “My apprentice brothers and sisters have been unfortunate, they have all passed away. I haven’t been in the school for long, my martial arts are low and I can’t help Master fight. I really am ashamed. Do you have ties with my Master?”

Blacksmith Feng didn’t reply and examined her; he looked suspicious and said, “The Master of Peach Blossom Island took in another disciple in his later years?”

Cheng Ying saw that Blacksmith Feng’s left leg was crippled, she suddenly had a thought and said, “Master was lonely in his later years, he ordered me to serve him at his side. With my age and study, I really wouldn’t dare to say that I’m a disciple of Peach Blossom Island, I haven’t even taken a single step onto Peach Blossom Island.” The way she phrased her words, she admitted that she was a disciple of Peach Blossom Island.

Blacksmith Feng nodded, his eyes were very gentle, there was a feeling of being close to someone, he lowered his head and continued to forge metal, it was as if he was in deep thought about something.

Cheng Ying saw that when his hammer was in the air, it made half a circle, when it descended onto the anvil, it was tilted and dragged, the hand movements were extremely similar to her school’s “Divine Descending Sword Palm Technique”, she understood further and said, “When Master had spare time, he would talk to me; he talked about how years ago he sent his disciples away from the island, Chen and Mei were the ones who did wrong. Qu, Lu, Wu and Feng were innocent but because of those two they were punished. What was especially tragic was apprentice brother Feng, Feng Mofeng. He was young and had a harsh background; when Master thought about this, he would feel uncomfortable and extremely regretful.”

In reality, Huang Yaoshi’s character is eccentric, though his heart had these thoughts, he would never say them. Cheng Ying was warm, kind and understanding, when her Master was lonely and chatted with her, he would reveal a little of his thoughts through his words. She herself guessed what he wanted to say, though what she said right now was not exactly from her Master’s mouth, it wasn’t against his intentions.

From the way the two talked, Li Mochou had guessed who he was; then she heard Blacksmith Feng sigh and his tears fell like rain, ‘chi’ ‘chi’ ‘chi’. As the tears struck the hot metal and turned into steam, she couldn’t stop her heart from softening, but after thinking, she became strong again. She thought, “Even if they got another fighter, the old blacksmith is crippled, how could he help?” She chuckled and said, “Feng Mofeng, congratulations on your reunion with your apprentice sister.”

That blacksmith was Huang Yaoshi’s junior disciple Feng Mofeng. Years ago when Chen Xuanfeng and Mei Chaofeng stole the “Nine Yin Manual” and escaped from the island, Huang Yaoshi broke the legs of all the remaining disciples before expelling them from the island. Qu Lingfeng, Lu Chengfeng and Wu Tianfeng had both their legs broken, but when he came to Feng Mofeng, because he was young and his martial arts low, pity stirred in his mind and he just broke his left leg. Feng Mofeng was extremely hurt inside; he eventually came to this place and made a living as a blacksmith. He didn’t keep any contacts with the Jianghu world and had silently lived here for the past thirty years. He couldn’t have predicted that today he would have news of his Master and apprentices again. Huang Yaoshi saved his life from his enemies. Huang Yaoshi brought him up, his debts to him were great; no matter how Huang Yaoshi had treated him, there was no hate in his heart. When he heard the words of Cheng Ying, his emotions were stirred and his grief and sorrow came out.

End of Chapter 15.

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