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The Legend of the Condor Heroes - Chapter 10

Chapter 10 – Enemies Meet

Wanyan Kang was shocked to find Yang Tiexin there and then recognized him. He shouted, “It's you!” Brandishing the iron spear, he quickly adopted the ‘Step of the Marching Tiger’ [Hang Bu Deng Hu], followed by the ‘Facing Upwards to Burn a Joss Stick’ [Chao Tian Yi Zhu Xiang]. The tip of the spear gleamed, going straight towards Yang Tiexin's throat.

Bao Xiruo called out, “He's your father, you... Don't you see?” As she raised her head, her son flung her against the wall, causing her to cry out. Wanyan Kang was shocked and quickly took a step back, still holding the spear. He glanced down to see his mother on the floor, her body covered with blood and her breathing shallow, so it was difficult for him to tell for sure if she was going to live or die. Remorse filled him and he was helpless for a moment. Yang Tiexin then bent down and took his wife into his arms and carried her towards the door and outside. Wanyan Kang called out, “Put her down!” He then used the stance ‘The Lone Wild Goose Excels’ [Gu Yan Chu Qun] and the spear, moving like the wind, headed towards his chest.

Yang Tiexin heard the rushing sound behind him and quickly sent out his left hand to counter. He was able to stop the iron spearhead about five inches from its target. On the battlefield, the ‘Yang Family Spear’ was invincible and one move, ‘Turning the Spear on Horseback’ [Hui Ma Qiang] was a unique skill passed from generation to generation. When Yang Tiexin used his left hand to grasp the spearhead, he was actually using some elements of this move but had to improvise a little. Originally, when he grasped the enemy's weapon, he only needed to send out his right hand as the iron spear drew closer, but because he was holding Bao Xiruo, he could only turn around and shout angrily, “The ‘Yang Family Spear’ is passed on only to sons. A pity your Shifu did not teach you this.”

Although Qiu Chuji's kung fu was very high, he actually did not research this spear art very deeply. The ‘Yang Family Spear’ was native to the Song Dynasty and was famous throughout Jianghu, but only nineteen schools were direct descendants of the orthodox school. He knew the principles of the orthodox ‘Yang Family Spear’ and that year when they fought in Ox Village, Yang Tiexin saw evidence of that. As for the unique skills that were passed on only from generation to generation, that, obviously, he did not understand. That was why Wanyan Kang also did not completely absorb the moves of the spear. The forces applied by the two people caused the iron spear, which was already old and its handle already starting to decay, to break into pieces with a "ka" sound. Guo Jing jumped forward and shouted angrily, “You heard that he's your father, why do you not kowtow?”

Wanyan Kang hesitated, unable to decide. Yang Tiexin then cradled his wife in his arms and ran out of the room. Mu Nianci was waiting for him outside to help him and then both father and daughter leapt over the wall.

Guo Jing did not dare wait and also rushed out of the room. He was just about to head towards the wall to flee when he suddenly sensed a rustle in the darkness and something rushing towards his neck. He felt the force of a palm brush the tip of his nose and he felt a severe pain on his face like it was scraped by a knife. This person's internal energy was fierce and moreover, there was barely a sound, nearly taking him completely unaware. He was shocked as he heard the person angrily shout, “Peasant boy, this old man has waited long enough! Extend your neck and let this old man drink your blood!” It was the ‘Ginseng Immortal’ Liang Ziwong.

o0o

Huang Rong heard Peng Lianhu proclaim that she was a disciple of the ‘Twin Killers of the Dark Winds’. She laughed and said, “You lose!” Then, she turned around and sprinted towards the hall's entrance.

Peng Lianhu quickly moved his body so that he was blocking the entrance and shouted, “Since you are a disciple of the ‘Twin Killers of the Dark Winds’, I won't embarrass you. But you must tell me, why did your Shifu send you here?”

Huang Rong, laughing, said, “You said that if in ten moves you can't recognize my sect, then you will let me leave. Old Senior, why are you being such a rascal?”

Peng Lianhu got angry, “That final move, the ‘Spirit Sea Turtle Step’ [Ling Ao Bu], didn't the ‘Twin Killers of the Dark Winds’ teach you that?”

Huang Rong laughed, “I only saw the ‘Twin Killers of the Dark Winds’ a few times and the level of their kung fu is low; how can they match my Shifu?”

Peng Lianhu said, “Your lying is useless.”

Huang Rong answered, “I have actually heard of the ‘Twin Killers of the Dark Winds’. I know that those two people are dishonorable; they will stop at no evil and cheat their elders. Their shamelessness is known throughout Wulin. How can Peng Zhaizhu [Chief] compare me to those two obscene people?”

The crowd at first thought that she was just unwilling to tell the truth; but when they heard her slander the ‘Twin Killers of the Dark Winds’ this way, they could not help but look at each other with blank dismay. Only then did they believe that she was in no way related to the two Corpses' sect. Although some people still wanted to find out if she was lying, they all decided that no one would dare to insult their Shifu in the presence of so many people.

Peng Lianhu stepped aside and said, “Young Miss, you win. Lao Peng admires you very much and wishes to know your name.” Huang Rong smiled, “I don't mind. I am called Rong’er.”

Peng Lianhu asked, “Your surname?”

Huang Rong answered, “I'll be honest. I am surnamed neither Peng nor Sha.” By this point, everyone in the hall, except the Tibetan Monk Ling Zhi and Ouyang Ke had lost to her. Ling Zhi was suffering from an internal injury and could not fight at the moment. That only left Ouyang Ke as the one who could temporarily stop her. The people all turned their gaze on him.

Ouyang Ke stepped forward, smiling pleasantly as he said, “This lowly one wants to go next and exchange moves with the young miss.”

Huang Rong glanced at the white clothes he was wearing and asked, “You are with those pretty girls of the ‘White Camel Group’ [Bai Tuoshan]?”

Ouyang Ke smiled and said, “You have seen them? If you put all those girls together, they could not match even half your beauty.”

Huang Rong's face turned red when she heard his flattery though she was also pleased. She said, “Then you'll help me with these old men who insist on being unreasonable.”

Ouyang Ke's kung fu was high and with the support of his Shifu's younger brother, he was able to run amuck in the western region for many years. His lascivious nature caused him to spend all those years collecting beautiful women from different places and turning them into his concubines. To occupy their time, these concubines also studied kung fu and therefore, they were also his female disciples. When Prince Zhao summoned him to Yanjing, he brought twenty-four of them with him, dressing them up in white robes and mounting them on white camels. Because the concubines were many, they took turns riding while the others walked. Eight of them encountered the Six Freaks of Jiangnan on the road talking with Guo Jing. They heard Zhu Cong speak of the precious Han Xie [Blood-Sweating] horse's origin and intended to steal it and give it to Ouyang Ke as a gift; but they failed in their attempt.

Ouyang Ke was very proud of his collection of concubines and knew that they were the most beautiful women in the world. Not even the ladies of the imperial palaces of the Jin and Song Dynasties could compare with them. How could he have thought that he would meet a beauty like Huang Rong in the Zhao Palace? He saw that her eyes were bright, her cheeks tender and though still very young, her body was graceful. Her beauty was unsurpassed and none of his numerous mistresses could compare to her. When she displayed her exquisite martial arts skills, his heart fluttered. Now, as he listened to her friendly voice and the soft and gentle words, he felt his heart burn and his bones going soft. He could not say a word.

Huang Rong, “I have to go. If they try to stop me, you will help me, won't you?”

Ouyang Ke smiled, “If you want me to help you, then you must obey me as your teacher and stay with me forever.” Huang Rong answered, “Obeisance to the Shifu does not mean staying with him forever!”

Ouyang Ke said, “My disciples are different. They're all women so they follow me wherever I go. I only need to call and they will come.”

Huang Rong tossed her head and laughed as she said, “I do not believe it.”

Ouyang Ke whistled and at once about twenty white-clad women appeared at the entrance. Whether they were fair or dark, amply built or thin, all of them wore the same style of clothes. Their carriage was proud and their smiles seductive as they focused their eyes on Ouyang Ke. During the banquet earlier in the Fragrant Snow Hall, these mistresses remained outside the wall. This was the first time Peng Lianhu and the others saw them and in their hearts, they were envious of his good fortune.

When Huang Rong challenged him into calling his mistresses, her intention was to cause a disruption in the hall, and take the opportunity to escape; but who would have thought that Ouyang Ke anticipated her thoughts? He looked at the group of women and signaled them with his folded fan to stay in the entrance. Then, casting a sidelong glance at Huang Rong, he appeared casual and self- satisfied. The mistresses looked at Huang Rong fixedly; some of them feeling inferior while others felt jealousy in their hearts. They knew that the pretty girl had somehow caught the eye of Master Shifu's son. They could not allow her to become another one of his ‘female disciples’ because he might, thereafter, stop doting on them. These mistresses gathered around him tightly, making it difficult for Huang Rong to rush out through the door.

Seeing that the situation was not favorable, Huang Rong said, “You prefer a real fight? You want me to obey you as my teacher, which is something I've never done before, and I don't want to cause any embarrassment.”

Ouyang Ke asked, “Is it possible that you don't want to try?” “OK, I will.” Huang Rong answered.

Ouyang Ke said, “Good, then come. Don't be afraid. I won't hit you back.” Huang Rong said, “Why? If you don't hit back, I'll win, won't I?”

Ouyang Ke said smiling, “Even if you hit me, I'll still like you. How can I hit you back?” The crowd snickered at his frivolous manner but they were also wondering, “This young girl's kung fu is not weak. Even if you are ten times stronger, how do you expect to defeat her? What magic are you going to use?”

Huang Rong said, “I don't believe you're really not going to hit back. I must tie up both your hands.”

Ouyang Ke then loosened the sash around his waist to give it to her. He folded his hands behind his back and walked towards her. Huang Rong saw that he seemed harmless but her mind continued to work. Although her face remained smiling, in her heart she was actually feeling more and more anxious as she paced back and forth for a while, thinking, “I have to be careful with my steps.” Thereupon, she took the sash, spread both her hands, pulled on opposite sides, but the cloth was strong as though it was made of silk so that even though she used internal energy, she still could not tear it. She immediately tied up his hands and smiled as she said, “How will we know who loses or who wins?”

Ouyang Ke stretched out his right foot, while keeping his left foot anchored, which left about three feet of distance in between. He proceeded to move his right foot against the brick floor, creating a sound like flowing water, until he made a complete circle six feet in diameter. Creating such a circle was no easy task and thus displayed his great internal energy. Sha Tongtian, Peng Lianhu and the others all looked on with admiration. Ouyang Ke stepped into the circle and said, “Whoever steps out of the circle loses.”

Huang Rong said, “And if we both leave the circle?” Ouyang Ke said, “Then, I lose.”

Huang Rong answered, “If you lose, you won't try to chase or stop me?”

Ouyang Ke replied, “Naturally. But if you leave the circle, that will result in you becoming my little darling. Everyone here is witness to that.”

Huang Rong replied, “Alright!”

She stepped into the circle, her left palm performing the ‘Encircling the Wind to Stroke the Willow’ [Hui Feng Fu Liu] and her right palm the ‘River of Stars in the Sky’ [Xing He Zai Tian]. The left was light and the right was heavy, both hands exerting hard and soft forces. Ouyang Ke dodged slightly and both his shoulders were struck at the same time. Huang Rong encountered the force coming out of his body, startled to find that this Ouyang Ke's internal energy was truly profound. Though he remained true to his word of not hitting back, he actually borrowed the force she used and used it as his own so that no matter how many times she hit him, he was always able to retaliate immediately. His hands remained motionless but Huang Rong was unsteady, almost falling out of the circle. This was why she did not dare to attack for the moment as she paced inside the circle. Then she said, “If I leave, that doesn't mean you’ve won. You said before that if both of us leave the circle, you lose.”

Ouyang Ke looked shocked as he watched Huang Rong jog out of the circle. She was afraid that a long delay might cause more complications so she quickened her footsteps. With her golden bangles sparkling and her flowing robes fluttering in the wind, she rushed towards the entrance. Ouyang Ke shouted loudly, “I've been tricked!” He could only shout a warning but could not pursue. Sha Tongtian, Peng Lianhu and the others saw how Huang Rong cleverly tricked Ouyang Ke and could not stop themselves from laughing loudly.

Huang Rong was just about to reach the entrance when a fierce sound could be heard coming from above and a large body suddenly dropped from nowhere. She moved sideways to avoid it, suppressing her fear at this unknown thing. She saw a person sitting down in a large round-backed wooden armchair; it was that tall Tibetan monk. He was wearing a red gown and even though he was seated, he was still able to tower over her. The skill with which he was able to leap high with the chair still stuck to his body was no ordinary feat. Huang Rong was just about to speak when she suddenly saw the Tibetan monk whip out a pair of cymbals from beneath his robes. He struck them together, releasing a shocking, deafening sound, before opening them like a flower and sending both, one on top of the other, flying fiercely towards her. The cymbals turned into a blur of shining metal, moving so fast it seemed there were a dozen of them. She tried to fend them off but the cymbals suddenly became three. Startled, she turned only to find the cymbals still drawing nearer. She dashed forward, dodging, before immediately darting away; then reversed directions while sending out a right palm towards the top cymbal and her left foot flicked towards the two cymbals at the bottom. The two cymbals separated so that they were able to fly past. Her fierce stance was unusual but the cymbals were able to avoid it and Ling Zhi then leapt forward. He executed his ‘Big Hand Imprint’ [Da Shou Yin] towards her. Huang Rong was hit, the blow sending her violently towards the center of the crowd.

Everyone shouted in alarm at seeing the young girl hit by Ling Zhi’s great palm, which had probably broken several bones and caused severe internal injuries. Ouyang Ke shouted, “Show mercy!” But was there enough time? He saw Ling Zhi’s great palm strike her on the back, but also saw that the hand was withdrawn immediately, its owner cursing loudly. Huang Rong used the force of his palm to run out of the hall. He heard her clear laughter as though she was not injured at all. He expected that Ling Zhi’s palm was strong but what he did not know was that before the palm could hit her fully, it was rapidly withdrawn so that the force behind the blow was greatly diminished.

The crowd watched with rapt attention when they heard Ling Zhi roar again and again, his right palm dripping with blood. He lifted it and saw ten small punctures. His features changed as he remembered, shouting, “Soft Hedgehog Armor…Soft Hedgehog Armor!” His voice revealed his great surprise, his anger, and his pain.

Startled, Peng Lianhu asked, “This girl was wearing ‘Soft Hedgehog Armor’? That is the treasure of Peach Blossom Island [Taohua Island]!”

Sha Tongtian wondered, “How could someone her age get a hold of the ‘Soft Hedgehog Armor’?”

Missing Huang Rong, Ouyang Ke ran out the entrance but he could barely see anything in the darkness. Not knowing where she was, he whistled for his concubines and ordered them to track her down. In his heart, he was secretly relieved, “It's good that she was able to escape and did not get injured. Good or bad, I must have her hand.”

Hou Tonghai asked, “Shi Ge (Elder Martial Brother), what is this soft hedgehog armor?” Peng Lianhu snapped, "Have you seen a hedgehog?"

Hou Tonghai nodded, "Of course."

Peng Lianhu replied, “Under her clothes next to the skin, she wears a sort of soft armor. Though soft, this armor can withstand the thrust of a sword or a spear. Moreover, it is covered with spines like those of a hedgehog. A single kick or punch will be enough to get you pricked!”

Hou Tonghai bit his tongue, thinking, “It's good that I wasn't able to hit that ‘smelly boy’!” Sha Tongtian said, “I'll get her back!”

Hou Tonghai looked at him and said, “Shi Ge, she... You can’t touch her body.” Sha Tongtian, “Who asked for your opinion? I can still grab her hair.”

Hou Tonghai replied, “Right, right, why didn't I think of that? Shi Ge, you are truly intelligent.” Then both apprentice brothers and Peng Lianhu gave chase.

o0o

By now, Prince Zhao Wanyan Honglie heard the worried report from his son and learned that the princess had been taken prisoner. Angered, both father and son, together with their personal guards left the palace to chase after the culprits. At the same time, Tang Zude led another group of armed guards to search for and arrest the intruder. The palace was on full alert. o0o

Guo Jing had run into Liang Ziwong near the wall, but how could he just extend his neck and let him drink his blood? Shocked, he turned around and fled. He did not know which way was north or south so he decided to hide someplace. Liang Ziwong really wanted to drink his blood and did not slow down in the slightest. It was a good thing that Guo Jing's lightness kung fu was good; otherwise, even though the night was dark, he would have been captured a long time ago. The light from the torch died and he could no longer see where he was going; only sensing that he had somehow stepped into a thorny area where the ground was rugged and rocky. More people were coming out of the palace, so there was no time for Gou Jing to deliberate. The bristling thorns cut his legs, but when he thought about Liang Ziwong biting his throat, he could not let the tiny thorns bother him. Not even a mountain or forest of swords could stop him.

Suddenly, he felt the ground beneath him disappear, causing him to call out as he started to drop, falling some 45 feet into an extremely deep pit. While his body was in midair, he circulated his internal energy so that he would not lose his balance when he landed and to prevent himself from getting injured. But who would have thought that his feet would land on round stones? He lost his balance and fell down on his rear. His hands, which supported him, clutched one of these round stones. Fear shot through him as he felt these round stones with his fingers; he realized that these stones were actually the skulls of dead people. It seemed that this deep hole was where the corpses of people executed at the Zhao Palace were dumped. He heard Liang Ziwong call out from above, “Boy, come up here!”

Guo Jing thought, “I'm not stupid enough to come up only to die!” With that, he raised his hand trying to touch the back of the pit, but he felt nothing. He moved forward, ready to defend himself against Liang Ziwong, who might follow him and try to kill him.

After shouting several curses, Liang Ziwong thought that perhaps Guo Jing could not get back up and shouted angrily, “Even if you run all the way to hell, this old man will still come after you!” Taking a deep breath, he jumped down.

Greatly surprised, Guo Jing took several steps back only to find empty space behind him. He turned around and stretched both his arms out trying to feel his way. As he continued on, he discovered that it was actually a tunnel.

Liang Ziwong also noticed the tunnel. His boldness was brought on by his high skill so that even though it was so dark that he could not see his five fingers, he was not afraid that Guo Jing would be laying an ambush for him. He followed, liking the situation even more, thinking, “This is just like seizing a turtle in a jar. This boy can't get away again. How can I not drink his blood now?”

Guo Jing was quite worried. Tunnels always have a dead end! Liang Ziwong was laughing loudly, both arms spread as he traced the tunnel walls. He was not impatient and took his steps slowly, one at a time.

Guo Jing ran several feet forward when he realized that the tunnel had ended, revealing an earthen cavern. Liang Ziwong also followed, laughing, “The peasant boy wants to run away but to where?”

Suddenly, from the left corner came an eerie, raspy voice which said, “Who is it that acts unruly in here?”

Neither of them expected that someone lived in this black pit; but they could not deny this sound. The voice, though raspy, actually rumbled like thunder in their ears. Guo Jing was frightened and his heart was pumping madly. Liang Ziwong also could not restrain himself from feeling absolutely terrified. They heard the gloomy voice say, “Those who enter my cave are already rotting. Are you that impatient to die?” The voice now began to resemble that of a woman, anxious and breathing heavily as though she had contracted a serious illness.

When the two people realized that the voice did not belong to any ghost, their fears subsided. Guo Jing listened to her words and hurried to explain, “I did not mean to come here; some people are after me...”

Before he could finish his words, Liang Ziwong was able to discern where he was. He dashed forward, stretching his hands out to take him. Guo Jing heard the rustle caused by his palm and hastily dodged. Liang Ziwong changed directions at once, forcing Guo Jing to dodge once more to the right. It was pitch dark, so one could only grab aimlessly, while the other could only dodge blindly. Suddenly, there was a ripping sound. Liang Ziwong had taken hold of Guo Jing's left sleeve. The woman angrily said, “Who dares to capture a person here?”

Liang Ziwong scolded, “You disguise yourself like a crafty ghost. Are you trying to frighten me?”

Sounding asthmatic, the woman began to breathe heavily as she said, “Hmph, the young fellow can come here and hide."

Guo Jing had thought that the situation he was in was hopeless and extremely critical, but when he heard her say that, without hesitation, he jumped to her just as he felt Liang’s five icy cold fingers touch his wrist. They were much stronger than him so that when he was pulled by her, his body was not able to resist being thrown forward and felt himself growing numb. Gasping for breath, the woman said to Liang Ziwong, “You were able to grasp him adeptly which means your strength is not trifling. You are from beyond the mountain pass?”

Liang Ziwong was shocked as he thought, “I cannot see even half of her, how is it possible she was able to recognize my martial arts? Is she capable of seeing things in the dark? This woman must be an old eccentric who's proud and strict!” He did not dare to say anything careless or indiscreet and instead said pleasantly, “This lowly one, who is an invited guest here from Guandong, is surnamed Liang. This boy stole something from me and I'm trying to get it back. I ask your Excellency not to interfere.”

The woman said, “Ah, is the ‘Ginseng Immortal’ Liang Ziwong trying to right a wrong? The other person seems unaware of it. I have no desire to interfere but after he came into my cave, the crime cannot be pursued. Lao Liang, you are an expert martial artist, don't you understand the rules of Wulin?”

Liang Ziwong was even more surprised and asked, “May I ask the name of your Excellency?”

The woman said, “I... I...” Guo Jing felt the hand grasping his wrist shiver violently, the fingers slowly beginning to loosen and he also heard her trying to keep down a groan as though she was in extreme pain. He asked, “You are sick?”

Liang Ziwong's high kung fu allowed him to hear her groan and surmised that this person had lost her skills, not from a sickness, but from an injury which greatly weakened her. He immediately applied strength to his arms, sending both hands together to grasp Guo Jing's chest. He managed to brush against his clothing, waiting for his fingers to grab hold, when he suddenly felt a strong force meeting his wrists. Shocked, Liang Ziwong discovered that when he sent out his left hand, he’d managed to grab the woman's arm. The woman shouted angrily, “Prepare yourself!” A palm hit Liang Ziwong’s back which forced him to take several steps back. Fortunately for him, his internal energy was good enough so that he was not injured.

Liang Ziwong said, “Mother-in-law of a thief [Hao zei po]! (The thief in question is Guo Jing.) Come here.” When the woman continued gasping for breath and remained motionless, Liang Ziwong realized that she could not move the lower part of her body. His fear was immediately reduced and he began to slowly approach. He was just about to jump forward to attack when he suddenly felt something curl around his ankles. This thing was like a soft whip; silent and un-noticed. Greatly alarmed, he quickly tried to resist it, but the whip was able to lift his body in a flash. He tried to aim a kick at the woman just as the top of his head hit the earthen wall.

His leg kung fu was of a high level, unmatched in Wulin, which gave him more than twenty years of great prestige outside the mountain pass. This leg move, when executed, was incomparably fierce. Who would have thought that before the tip of his toe met its target, he would suddenly feel his ‘Flushing Out the Sun’ accupoint [Chong Yang Xue] growing numb. He immediately dodged, greatly alarmed. This ‘Flushing Out the Sun’ point is located five inches from the instep of the foot. If this vital point was sealed by an opponent, his whole leg would grow numb. Luckily, he was able to withdraw his foot quickly; but the action of kicking and suddenly withdrawing caused his knee to ache.

As he dodged, Liang Ziwong thought, “This person lives in this dark cave but acts as though she is dwelling in a bright and sunny place. She was able to accurately find my vital point, how can she not be a witch or a demon?”

Realizing the critical situation he was in, he executed a half somersault to avoid the attack, and sent out a backward palm in an effort to shake her off. His palm was ten times stronger than before, and he thought that this asthmatic sounding person definitely would not have the internal energy to resist. Then he suddenly heard a loud cry as he felt the enemy's arm heading violently towards him, the fingertips already making contact with his shoulder. Liang Ziwong's left hand felt the opponent's ice-cold wrist, her body, appearing as though it was not made of flesh and bone, once more tried to attack. He immediately rolled away and rushed out using his hands and feet to crawl out of the tunnel. Panting heavily he thought, “I have lived for dozens of years but I have never encountered such a strange event! I don't even know if she is a woman or a ghost! I must inform the prince of this matter.” He hastily ran back to the Fragrant Snow Hall. On the way, he thought: “I don’t know if that creature is a woman ghost or female demon, but now that the boy has fallen into her hands, she will naturally suck all that precious blood from his body.” He sighed and thought, “Due to a strange combination of circumstances I met that thieving boy. Then, after raising the snake and refining its blood, I had to run into that female ghost. I nearly lost my life in both encounters. Could the fabrication of the pill of longevity really be against the will of Heaven and envied by ghosts and deities, so that I would fail on the verge of success?”

When Guo Jing heard him moving farther and farther away, he felt greatly relieved and fell on his knees, kowtowing to the woman as he said, “Junior politely thanks old senior for saving his life.”

The woman had been able to match Liang Ziwong's moves earlier, but now she was exhausted, causing her injury to act up. She coughed and wheezed as she said, “Why did the old Monster want to kill you?”

Guo Jing, “Taoist Elder Wang was injured and needed medicine to treat his injuries. The disciple then came to the palace to...” Suddenly, he thought, “This person lives in the Zhao Palace compound, how do I know she's not in league with Wanyan Honglie?” He stopped talking immediately.

The woman said, “Mmm, so you have stolen the old Monster's medicine. I have heard that he is very knowledgeable in the research of medicines and their properties, so you must have stolen a miraculous pill or a marvelous drug.”

Guo Jing, “I took some of his medicine to treat an internal injury, but he was so angry he wanted to kill me. Is the old senior injured? Disciple has several medicines, four samples of ‘pseudo ginseng’, ‘dragons blood’, ‘bear's gall’, and ‘myrrh’. Taoist Elder Wang does not have to use all of it, if old senior...”

The woman angrily said, “Whether I'm injured or not, what concern is it of yours?”

At this juncture, Guo Jing could only say hastily, “Yes, yes.” But after only a moment, he heard her gasping for breath and could not restrain himself from saying again, “If old senior cannot walk, junior offers to carry you out of here.”

The woman scolded, “Who is old? Who are you to say that someone is old?”

Guo Jing no longer dared to utter a sound, thinking that she did not want to leave. However, he had always been unable to stay content with half answers, so even though he knew that he ought to keep his silence he once again asked, “Whatever you want, I can go get it for you.” The woman laughed coldly and said, “You are as nosy as a woman but your heart is good.” She stretched out her left hand to pull on his shoulders. Guo Jing felt his shoulder snap and the sharp pain that followed, but he was able to keep himself from falling on top of her. He suddenly felt an icy coldness as the woman's arm wound around his neck. Then he heard her bark the order, “Carry me to the exit.”

Guo Jing thought, “That’s what I offered in the first place!” Thereupon, he bent at the waist and slowly made his way out of the tunnel.

The woman said, “I am compelling you to carry me on your back. I won't owe anyone any favors.” It was then that Guo Jing understood that this woman was very arrogant and was unwilling to receive any kindness from her juniors. As he walked out, he raised his head and saw the stars in the sky. He could not help letting out a sigh as he thought; “Only a moment ago, I was saved from death when I fell into this black hole and there was someone waiting to help me. If I told Rong’er about this, even she would not believe it. He was used to climbing cliffs with Ma Yu and even though that hole was like a deep well, he was actually able to climb up effortlessly.

As soon as they exited the hole, the woman asked, “Who taught you your lightness kung fu? Tell me quickly!” Her arm suddenly tightened, compressing Guo Jing's throat so he was gasping for breath. Alarmed, he hastily circulated his internal energy to resist. The woman was intentionally trying to test his skill by tightening her grip, but she paused before gradually relaxing.

She loudly exclaimed, “Surprise, the peasant boy knows the internal energy skills of the Taoist orthodox school. You said that Taoist Elder Wang was injured, by what name is this Taoist priest called?”

Guo Jing thought, “You have rescued me, so whatever you ask, I will answer you truthfully. To do otherwise would be barbaric!” He immediately replied, “Taoist Elder Wang is Wang Chuyi, but others call him the ‘Jade Sun’.”

Suddenly, he felt the woman on his back begin to shake and heard her breathe out heavily, “You are a Quanzhen Sect disciple? That...that is very good.” As soon as she said this, she could not contain her delight and she went on to ask, “Who is Wang Chuyi to you? Why do you call him ‘Taoist Elder’? Why not Shifu [master], Shi Zi (martial uncle younger than a persons Shifu], or Shi Bo (martial uncle older than a persons Shifu)?”

Guo Jing, “I am not a Quanzhen Sect disciple, but ‘Scarlet Sun’ Ma Yu taught me his breathing techniques.”

The woman said, “Mmm, so you studied the internal energy methods of the Quanzhen. That is good.” After a moment, she asked, “Who then is your Shifu?”

Guo Jing replied, “Disciple has seven teachers, the Seven Freaks of Jiangnan. First Shifu is called ‘Soaring Through the Heavens Bat’ and is surnamed Ke."

The woman began coughing violently, the sound bitter and sour as she said, “That is Ke Zhen’E!” Guo Jing, “Yes.”

The woman said, “You come from Mongolia?”

Guo Jing said, “Yes.” But in his heart, he wondered, “How did she know I come from Mongolia?”

The woman said slowly, “Your name is Yang Kang, is it not?” Her tone of voice changed from gloomy to angry. Guo Jing said, “No. Disciple is surnamed Guo.”

The woman hesitated for a moment before saying, “You sit on the ground.”

Guo Jing did what he was told and sat down. The woman then reached inside her bosom to fish out an object which she placed on the ground. This object was wrapped in a piece of cloth. When she revealed the thing, the star light shone on it, showing a dazzling and impressive looking dagger handle. Guo Jing thought it looked familiar and so he took a closer look; the dagger continued to shine brightly and on its handle were engraved the two characters ‘Yang Kang’. It was indeed the knife he’d used to kill ‘Copper Corpse’ Chen Xuanfeng. The year that Guo Xiaotian and Yang Tiexin met ‘Eternal Spring’ Qiu Chuji, he gave them daggers as presents. Both made the promise that if their wives gave birth to sons, the sons would become sworn brothers and if two daughters, they would become sworn sisters. However, if they are of different genders, then they would become husband and wife. The two fathers then exchanged their daggers as a token of their faith. This was the reason why the dagger with the inscription ‘Yang Kang’ ended up in Guo Jing's hands. When he was younger, he did not know what the two characters ‘Yang Kang’ meant but the shape of the dagger was enough for him to recognize it. He thought, “Yang Kang…Yang Kang?” But he did not remember that this name had been spoken by the princess only minutes ago.

While he was hesitating, the woman clamped his hand to prevent him grabbing the dagger as she shouted, “You recognize this dagger, do you not?” If Guo Jing was more quick-witted and heard how sad and shrill her voice sounded, he would have felt compelled to turn his head and look at her. Instead, he thought only of the other's kindness in saving his life, “This person saved my life. Certainly, that means she is a good person.” Therefore, he was not the least bit suspicious as he immediately replied, “Ah, yes! When I was young, I once used this dagger to kill an evil man. That evil man suddenly disappeared, along with the precious dagger ...”

As he spoke, he felt the arm around his neck tighten suddenly, strangling him. In the midst of danger, he bent his arm and pushed it backwards but his wrist was held by that woman's outstretched left hand. The woman later relaxed her right arm, allowing her body to drop so that she was sitting on the ground as she shouted, “Who do you think I am?”

Guo Jing had been throttled by her earlier, making him see stars, so it took him a moment to recover. Afterwards, he looked at her only glimpsing, through her shawl of long hair, a face like white paper; it was the face of ‘Iron Corpse’ of the ‘Twin Killers of the Dark Winds’, Mei Chaofeng. Frightened out of his wits, he lifted his left hand to struggle but with her fingers digging into his flesh, how could he escape? In his mind was confusion, “How come? Why did she save my life? It can't be! But she really is Mei Chaofeng!”

Mei Chaofeng sat on the ground, her right hand clutching Guo Jing's neck, her left holding his wrist. For more than ten years, she had been searching for the man who killed her husband and now, suddenly, he was here. “Is it the work of my ‘Bastard’ husband from below, to have that person die in my hands?” In her heart she was delighted beyond measure; but this was quickly overcome by grief as past events from her life, no matter how much she fought it, came to her in brief flashes.

o0o

She thought, “I was once an innocent young girl who played around and joked all day. My parents treated me as their most precious treasure to which they were much attached. At that time, I was called Mei Ruohua. However, my unfortunate parents died one after another, forcing me to suffer under an evil person. Shifu Huang Yaoshi rescued me and brought me to Taohua Island (Peach Blossom Island) where he accepted me into his school. My name was changed to Mei Chaofeng, for each of his disciples bore the character for "wind" [feng] in their names. Under the peach trees, I saw rugged looking youths standing in front of me. One of them picked a bright red peach and gave it to me to eat. That was apprentice brother Chen Xuanfeng. Among Shifu's disciples, he was the second; I was the third. We practiced kung fu together. He often taught me and treated me very well. Even though he sometimes scolded me for not studying hard, I knew he was only doing what was good for me. Slowly, as everyone grew up, I had him in my heart and he had me in his heart. One spring evening, when the peach blossoms were turning a brilliant red, he suddenly embraced me under a peach tree.” A blush colored Mei Chaofeng's face and Guo Jing heard her laborious breathing intensify. Then, she let out a soft, gentle sigh.

Mei Chaofeng recalled how she and Chen Xuanfeng secretly married each other and how they feared their Shifu's punishment. When they ran away from the Island, her husband told her to steal the second book of the ‘Nine Yin Manual’ [Jiu Yin Zhen Jing]. Later, they settled on a remote mountain where they trained hard; but after practicing for half a year, her husband said that he could not understand the true meaning of the text. He wanted to smash his head out of frustration. That same year, my husband said, “My ‘Shrew’, we only stole one half of the ‘Nine Yin Manual’. The first half contains the foundation principles needed to practice these secret kung fu techniques. The kung fu scripture belongs to the Taoists and what our Shifu taught us is completely different. We can't master this, what do you suggest we do?” I said, “What choice do we have?” He said, “Return to Taohua Island.” How would I dare to go back? Both our skills had become ten times stronger but our Shifu would only have to use two fingers to defeat us. My husband was also afraid but knowing how many wonderful techniques he could not practice, he was willing to die for them. He had made up his mind to steal the first part and said, “If we are going to be the unmatched couple under the heavens, then ‘My Shrew’ must be prepared to be a widow.” I did not wish to be a widow! If one must die, then the other must also die in the same place. Both of us decided to risk our lives by going back. We found out later that after we ran away, Shifu, in a great fit of anger, broke the legs of all his disciples and expelled them from his island. That was why there was only him, his wife, the two of us, and his servants. When we arrived at Taohua Island, we discovered two people engaged in a fight. Shifu's opponent looked like an expert. The two of them were arguing about the ‘Nine Yin Manual’ and as they quarreled, one of them opened with a recognizable move. This person was Quanzhen Sect and although he spoke foolish words, his kung fu was very high and had reached a level which I could not even imagine. But Shifu, when compared to him, had a better chance of winning. Witnessing this martial arts duel only served to frighten us out of our wits. I said quietly, “My Bastard, we are inferior. Let's get away!” But he was not willing. We watched as Shifu grabbed his opponent and forced him to take an oath of never voluntarily leaving the Island. Remembering that Shifu's wife used to treat me with kindness, I decided to look for her through the window of their home. Who would have thought that all I would see was a mourning hall? Shifu's wife had passed away. In my heart, I felt very sad. Shifu's wife always treated me well but now that she's dead, Shifu was alone. I really felt sorry for him and I couldn't stand it. While I was crying, I suddenly saw, near the mourning hall, a one-year old girl, sitting straight up in a chair and smiling at me. This girl really looked like my Shifu's wife so I supposed she was their daughter. Was it because of childbirth that she died? I was thinking about this when Shifu noticed me. He flew from the mourning hall and stepped outside. I was so frightened, my feet grew weak and I couldn't move. I heard the girl laughing and calling, “Daddy, hugs!” Her smile was like a flower as she opened her arms towards Shifu. That girl saved my life. Shifu feared that she would fall down and so stretched out a hand to grab her. My husband then pulled me away and we both dashed out and stole a boat with sea water splashing inside. My heart was thumping so hard, it seemed like it was going to jump out of my throat.

‘My Bastard’ saw Shifu fighting and had immediately lost heart. He said, “Not only have we not learned a tenth of Shifu's kung fu, but we now see this Quanzhen master, how can we compare to them?” I said, “You regret coming here? If the Shifu can do it, then one day we can also learn his kung fu.” He said, “If you don't regret it, then I do not regret it.” Thereafter, he used the fiercest martial arts methods he could find and taught me everything. He said that although this method was heretical, it allowed us to increase our skills.

In the beginning, our abilities became astounding and as we ran amok in Jianghu, we earned the nickname of 'Twin Killers of the Dark Winds’. Shen Long who flew through the sky with his axe exorcising evil spirits, was it my husband who killed him or was it me? My memory is not too clear as to who killed who but it is all the same in any case. One day, when we were practicing the ‘Destroying Heart Palm’ [Cui Xin Zhang] in the temple ruins, suddenly, from all directions, appeared dozens of skilled people. They were led by our fellow apprentice, Lu Chengfeng. He hated us after Shifu broke his legs and gathered a large group of people to help him capture us to give to Shifu. This man really thought that he could defeat us. Humph, the ‘Twin Killers of the Dark Winds’ are not that easy to defeat. Though we were able to kill seventy-eight men and run away, we were also heavily injured. After several months, we found out that the Quanzhen Seven Masters were also secretly following us. We did not want to fight these opponents all at once because they were too many, so we left the Central Plains and traveled until we reached the Mongolian steppe. ‘My Bastard’ was worried that people would steal the Taoist scripture so he told me not to look for it. I did not know where he hid it. I said, “Good, my ‘Bastard’, I don't know where to find it.” He said, “My ‘Shrew’, I will be good to you. I'll take care of you and teach you everything except the Taoist nei gong. If we force it, we could harm our bodies.” I said, “Alright! What are you waiting for?” Thereupon, we continued to practice the ‘Nine Yin White Bone Claw’ [Jiu Yin Bai Gu Zhua] and the ‘Destroying Heart Palm’ [Cui Xin Zhang]. He said these two techniques were heretical and fierce but did not require one to learn nei gong. Suddenly, one evening on that stark mountainside, the Seven Freaks of Jiangnan attacked me. “My eyes…my eyes!” The pain was burning from the poison. I crawled on the ground, clawing my eyes. I did not die but my eyes were blinded and my husband dead. That was retribution for that time when we killed that blind Ke Zhen’E's elder brother and blinded his (Ke Zhen’E) eyes.

o0o

As Mei Chaofeng thought about this painful matter, both hands tightened instinctively and she created a noise as she ground her teeth. Guo Jing felt as if the bones in his left hand were going to break and secretly thought, “This is not good. What kind of vicious method is she going to use to kill me?” Then, he said, “Hey, I don't know what you plan to do but I want to ask you something, please agree.”

Mei Chaofeng said coldly, “You want to ask me something?”

Guo Jing said, “Yes. I have medicines and I ask you to be generous. Please take these and give them to Taoist Elder Wang in the Prosperity Inn outside the city.”

When Mei Chaofeng did not answer and continued to look blankly at him, Guo Jing said, “Do you agree? If so, many thanks to you!” Mei Chaofeng said, “Many thanks for what? In all my life, I've never done any good deeds!”

o0o

She could not call to mind how much pain she suffered in her life, nor could she recall how many people she had killed, but that night on the barren mountain, she remembered clearly. My surroundings suddenly went black and I could not even see the stars. ‘My Bastard’ said, “I have failed! The Taoist scripture is hidden on my chest...” These were his last words. Suddenly, a heavy rain began and the Seven Freaks of Jiangnan began fiercely attacking me. I was hit in the back by a palm. This person's internal energy was profound; the pain from his hit reached my bones. I carried husband's corpse and escaped, descending the mountain even though I could not see. They did not pursue me which was really strange. The rain became heavier and the night had grown pitch-dark so they could not see me. I dashed about wildly in the rain. “My ‘Bastard’ husband’s body was at first hot but afterwards, it gradually turned cold. My heart also turned cold with each minute that passed. I was shaking all over; I was very cold. “My ‘Bastard’ husband, are you really dead? Even with your fierce kung fu, how could you die so inexplicably? Who killed you?” I drew out a dagger from his stomach, causing the blood to spurt out. What caused this? Murdered people certainly bleed, but I did not know how many people I murdered. “I must die with my ‘Bastard’ husband! If no one else will call him ‘My Bastard’ in the netherworld, he will be lonely!” I placed the dagger to my throat and prepared to slice when suddenly, I traced two characters on the dagger handle, the characters ‘Yang Kang’. “Mmm, the killer must be this person named Yang Kang. How can I not exact revenge? If I don't kill this Yang Kang first, how can I die?” Thereupon, I went through my husband’s pockets, searching for the secret Taoist scripture, but even though I searched his whole body, I was not able to find a trace of it. “I must find it!” I started from his hair, not missing an inch until suddenly, while I was feeling the skin on his chest, I felt something strange.

As she had this thought, she was unable to restrain her bitter laughter. She said, “After careful investigation, I found that the ‘Jiu Yin Zhen Jing’ was tattooed on his chest. You were afraid that someone would steal it from you so you tattooed it on your body so it couldn't be taken away! Yes, just like Shifu's martial arts teachings, someone could also steal the Taoist scripture from us so you came up with a way it couldn't be stolen. Your idea ‘a person comes, but after he is gone, everything goes with him'. I used the dagger to cut your chest, mmm, I must tan this skin so it won’t rot. I will keep it with me all the time so it will be like you are accompanying me forever.” I was not sad anymore. “When I laugh, people are usually frightened even though I was smiling. I used both hands to dig a pit in the ground to bury you inside. You taught me the ‘Jiu Yin Bai Gu Zhua" before; I used this technique to dig your grave. I hid in a cave, afraid that the Seven Freaks of Jiangnan would find me. At that time, I was not their match but after some practice, humph, I could grab each of their hearts. Was it really dangerous to practice the Taoist nei gong? It would cause serious injuries but I was not afraid to die, but of what sort of injury? I must perfect my kung fu in the shortest time. It must have been some sort of divine intervention that ‘My Bastard’ tattooed the Taoist scripture on his body or with my blind eyes, what purpose would the written words have? After all these years, even when he was playing with me, he never removed the clothing on his upper body; now I know why...” When she thought about this, her face burned and she released a long sigh. What is it ‘My Bastard’, can you see me from the netherworld? If you married a female ghost and made it your wife, then we do not have forever...

Two days passed and I was very hungry; then suddenly I heard a large army on horseback pass by the cave. From their dialect, I knew that they were from the Jin Empire. I came out and asked them for something to eat. The leader of the army saw my pitiful state, decided to give me shelter and brought me all the way to the palace. Afterwards, I discovered that he was actually the sixth son of the Jin emperor, Prince Zhao. I swept the ground in the back gardens for them but in the evening, I secretly trained. In this manner I was able to practice for several years and no one noticed anything. They only thought of me as a pitiful blind married woman.

One evening, that mischievous young prince went looking for bird's eggs in the garden at midnight without telling anyone. I did not see him but he saw me practicing with my silver whip and thereupon coerced me into teaching him. I taught him three moves and he learned them; he was really intelligent. Pleased with his progress, I also passed on to him the ‘Nine Yin White Bone Claw’, and the ‘Push the Heart Palm’. I wanted him to take the oath of not telling anyone, not even the prince or the princess. If he divulged it to anyone, I told him that I would capture him, break his bones, and send his soul to heaven. The young prince practiced kung fu and his foundation was not low. He said, “Shifu, I also have another male Shifu. This person is not good and I do not like him. I only like you as my Shifu. I will never reveal to him that you are teaching me. He can't compare to you. His kung fu teachings are not effective.” Humph, the young prince knew how to flatter. His male Shifu was definitely not incompetent. But I only asked that he not tell him that he was studying kung fu with me and I in turn would not question him about his Shifu. Several years passed and the young prince said that Prince Zhao wanted to go to Mongolia. I asked the prince to allow me to go there with him to offer a sacrifice at my husband's grave. The young prince said to me that the prince agreed. The prince doted on him very much and whatever he asked, he agreed to.

Even if I couldn't find my husband’s bones, I kept the skin from his flesh next to my own skin all day and all night. Besides, why would I offer a sacrifice at his grave? I wanted to find the Seven Freaks of Jiangnan for revenge. But my luck was not good because, unexpectedly, the Seven Elders of Quanzhen were all in Mongolia. My eyes could not see, how could I match those seven people? ‘Red Sun’ Ma Yu's internal energy was profound. Even though he spoke without effort, his voice was able to travel far. But my going to Mongolia was not in vain because when I asked Ma Yu a question he answered, and passed on to me some nei gong (internal energy) secrets. After I came back to the palace, I went to the tunnel to practice diligently. But this internal energy could not be completed without guidance. Two days ago I was practicing and as I was vigorously moving around, my qi suddenly arrived in my hip area and I could not move it back up. Because of this, the lower part of my body suffered seriously. If the young prince did not look for me, how would anyone know that I had an accident while practicing? Had this Guo boy not rushed in here, I would have starved to death in that tunnel. Humph, it's my husband’s ghost that sent him there to rescue me so I could I kill him to avenge his death. Mei Chaofeng laughed madly; her whole body shook and her right hand suddenly made an effort to grab Guo Jing's neck. Guo Jing sensed the danger to his life at this critical moment and tried to turn her hand wrong side up by grasping her wrist, using his external strength. Because of Ma Yu's orthodox school teachings his internal energy was not weak. Mei Chaofeng could not gain a grip as she felt her hand being turned wrong side up by him, forcing it to open. Startled, she thought that this boy's kung fu was not bad!

Even after being hit three times, Guo Jing applied all his strength in that hand. Mei Chaofeng called loud and long while lifting her palm to hit him. She was using her ‘Destroying Heart Palm’ unique skill. Guo Jing's level of skill and hers differed too much to begin with and his left was held firmly by her, how could he move to gain an opening? But he had to exert himself to overcome her strength and lifting his right hand to block. Mei Chaofeng raised her hand to meet his only to feel her arm shake. She changed her mind at that moment as she considered, “I practiced nei gong without anyone to guide me and it resulted in a serious injury so that my lower body can’t move. I heard him say a moment ago that Ma Yu taught him the Quanzhen Sect nei gong. It would be convenient if I forced him to tell me those nei gong secrets. How can I kill him to avenge ‘My Bastard’ and pick his brain later? Fortunately, this boy is not dead yet.” At that moment, she returned her hand again to grasp Gou Jing's neck and said, “You killed my husband, how can you still expect to live? But if you listen to what I have to say, then I'll let you die quickly, but if you're stubborn, I will let you experience suffering and misery. I'll start with your finger, biting and chewing it until everything is eaten.”

She had an accident, resulting in lower body paralysis. Afterwards, she starved for days so when she said that she wanted to eat Guo Jing's finger, it was not just idle talk to intimidate him. Guo Jing felt a shiver as he saw her open mouth, showing several white teeth. He did not dare say a word.

Mei Chaofeng asked, “Ma Yu taught you how to sit properly while meditating, how is it done?”

Guo Jing then understood, “She thinks I will teach her nei gong. Then later, she will go after my six Shifus to harm them. Even if I die now, how can I let this jealous woman increase her skill and harm my six Shifus?” He shut his mouth and did not answer immediately.

Mei Chaofeng's left hand tightened and Guo Jing felt pain and biting cold, but he had made up his mind. He said, "You want to obtain the orthodox nei gong. Give up that idea.”

Mei Chaofeng saw that he was tough and unyielding so she loosened her hands to let him go as she said softly, “I promise you that I will take the medicine to Wang Chuyi and save his life.”

Guo Jing felt a shiver of cold as he thought, “Ah, this is an important change. It's good that the lower part of her body cannot move. My six Shifu have no need to fear her.” Thereupon he said, “Alright, you make an oath and I in return will pass on to you the training methods.”

Mei Chaofeng was extremely happy and said, “Surname of Guo... This boy with the surname of Guo said that he will teach me the Quanzhen Sect nei gong methods. If I, Mei Chaofeng, do not deliver the medicine to Wang Chuyi, may my entire body lose its movement and forever endure misery.”

As soon as she said this, to their left some ten zhang in front of the palace, a person scolded, “Stinky boy, come out here and die!”

When Guo Jing heard the voice, he recognized it as the Three-Headed Dragon Hou Tonghai. Another one said, “Surely, the small girl is nearby. I'm relieved. She can't run away.” The same time that the two people were talking, they were also walking away.

Gou Jing was startled; Rong’er had not left yet and allowed them to follow her trail. Changing his intent, he turned to Mei Chaofeng and said, “You still need to do one more thing, otherwise, no matter what you force me to endure, I won't tell you the secrets.”

Mei Chaofeng got angry, “What is this other thing? I don't agree.”

Guo Jing said, “I have a good friend, a young girl. The experts from the palace are chasing her. You must rescue her and get her out of danger.”

Mei Chaofeng grunted and said, “How would I know where she is? If you want me to do it then quickly, tell me the nei gong secret!” Her arm immediately tightened.

Guo Jing felt his throat constrict, causing him great alarm. However, he was still unyielding and said, “Rescue... You said... Did not say...” Having no other alternative, Mei Chaofeng said, “Alright, I'm depending on you but don't think that Mei Chaofeng does things to please others. Today is the exception, you stinky boy. This young girl is your sweetheart? You're full of affection but dumb. We made a deal and I'm only doing my part. I have agreed to rescue your sweetheart but I haven't consented to spare your life.”

Guo Jing heard her agree and was glad. Then he raised his voice and called out, ‘Rong’er, come here! Rong’er...”

Just after calling twice, Huang Rong's figure suddenly appeared from behind some rose shrubs nearby. She said, “I'm already here!” Guo Jing was delighted, “Rong’er, come quickly. She agreed to help you. The others can't harm you now.”

Huang Rong had been listening to Guo Jing and Mei Chaofeng for some time from behind the rose shrubs. She heard how he gave no thought to his own life and never forgot about her safety. In gratitude, two tear drops rolled down her cheeks as she shouted at Mei Chaofeng, “Mei Ruohua, let him go!”

‘Mei Ruohua’ was Mei Chaofeng's name before her master changed it. No one in Jianghu knew and for dozens of years, she had not heard these three characters uttered by anyone. However, today it was being shouted by this person. Greatly surprised, she asked, “Who are you?”

Huang Rong said clearly, “‘The peach blossom shade leaves behind the divine sword, the jade ocean current gives life to the jade flute!’ I am surnamed Huang.”

Mei Chaofeng was even more startled and could only stammer, “You... You... You...”

Huang Rong called out, “You what? The east China sea Taohua Island snapping finger, the pure sound of the cave, the green bamboo forest, the Trial Sword Pavilion, you also remember?”

Mei Chaofeng knew these places from her discipleship and when she heard them mentioned now, a sudden thought came to her and she asked, “Taohua Island’s Huang... Shifu Huang, is...is...What is he to you?”

Huang Rong said, “Since you have not forgotten my father, he has not forgotten you, either. He is coming to look for you!”

Mei Chaofeng wanted to turn around and flee but how could she move a foot even one step? Frightened out of her wits and shocked, she could only clench her teeth, making a grating sound. She did not know what to do.

Huang Rong called out, “Quickly release him.”

Mei Chaofeng suddenly remembered, “Shifu swore that he would never leave Taohua Island, how could he be here? It was only because of this that I and ‘My Bastard’ stole the Nine Yin Manual. He made an oath and could not leave the island to pursue us. This person is trying to deceive me. I won't let myself get confused.”

When Huang Rong saw her hesitate, her left foot pointed downwards as she leapt up ten feet and successively executed two half-circles before soaring into the air and wielding a palm towards Mei Chaofeng's head, intending to hit her. It was the ‘Fallen Hero Divine Sword Palm’ [Luo Ying Shen Jian Zhang], a pillar move of the ‘River Town Flying Blossom’ [Jiang Cheng Fei Hua]. She called out, "My father taught you this move. Have you forgotten it?"

Mei Chaofeng heard the noise of the air rustling around her but she kept still, her suspicions still in place, though she raised her hand and softly called out, “Shi Mei [Apprentice Sister], you have spoken with Shifu?” Huang Rong let her body drop, using one hand to pull and then drag Guo Jing to her side.

o0o

Huang Rong was the Peach Blossom Island Master Huang Yaoshi's only daughter. Before giving birth to her, her mother became ill which caused her to be physically and mentally exhausted and this led to her death after a difficult labor. Huang Yaoshi, in a fit of extreme grief, expelled all his disciples from the island, leaving the father and daughter alone there.

Huang Yaoshi was called ‘Eastern Heretic’ [Dong Xie] because of his peculiar conduct. He often said that the etiquette and customs of the world were nonsense. His love for his daughter was excessive and he naturally did nothing to control her and allowed her to become arrogant and willful. Although she was highly intelligent, she was not willing to focus her mind on learning martial arts. Her father had proficient knowledge of yin and yang and the five elements, and the methods from of calculating them. She was able to learn while still very young but even though her father had already reached a divine level, she was nevertheless unable to get beyond the basic Taohua Island martial arts. One day, she was playing on the island when she came upon her father's enemy imprisoned in a cave. Feeling lonely, she talked with that person for almost half a day. That person's words were interesting to her so she returned often, seeking him out to speak with him and find relief from loneliness. Later, Huang Yaoshi found out and reproached her severely. Huang Rong had never been beaten or scolded by her father so she reacted with anger and self-pity. Her cunning and unreasonable temperament manifested itself suddenly and she took a boat to escape Taohua Island, thinking that no one cared for her there. Thus, she cut her ties to it and disguised herself as a poor, disorderly, miserable youth, wandering in all directions, though her heart was still with her father. She thought angrily, “Since you don't love me, then I will make the world feel pity for a young beggar.” However, she did not count on meeting Guo Jing in Zhangjiakou [Kalgan]. At first, she went to the restaurant with him to spend his money and cause a disturbance, intending to displace her resentment towards her father on him. Who would have thought that he would be so dumb as to have no suspicions at all and talked with her as though they were old friends and showed his concern by giving her his horse. She was bitter and lonely and thought about how she had deceived him, while he continued to treat her honestly. She was touched. Since then, the two became good friends.

o0o

Huang Rong once listened to her father speak about Chen Xuanfeng and Mei Chaofeng's affair in great detail and because of this, she learned Mei Chaofeng's maiden name and the lines: ‘The peach blossom leaves behind the divine sword, the jade green sea gives life to the jade flute’, which was the heretical couplet that hung inside the Sword Trial Pavilion and embodied the principles of Huang Yaoshi's wugong. Every Peach Blossom Island disciple knew this. Since she knew that her kung fu could not rival Mei Chaofeng's, she lied and told her that her father was coming. As a result, Mei Chaofeng was frightened into releasing Guo Jing.

Mei thought, “If Shifu is indeed coming, how do I know that he won't kill me?” She remembered that Huang Yaoshi had a ruthless nature and his methods were cruel. She could not stop her face from growing ashen and her whole body shook as though Huang Yaoshi, his face grim, was already standing in front of her. Her body became limp. It was as though she had lost her kung fu skills as she bent towards the ground and shakily said, “Disciple's many sins make her deserving of death. But I beseech Shifu to take pity because my two eyes are blind and my lower body is handicapped. Please grant disciple leniency even though disciple is no better than a swine or a dog.” Then she remembered how Huang Yaoshi used to treat her with favor. Fearing that his heart had changed, her bosom was filled with shame as she said, “No, Shifu does not need to be lenient. Punish me severely.”

The whole time Guo Jing was with her, she appeared to be fierce and her manner evil. Even when faced with a great enemy or when climbing up that steep precipice, she remained unfazed as though nothing mattered. However, when Huang Rong mentioned her father, her attitude changed unexpectedly which he found very strange. Huang Rong was laughing inside as she pulled Guo Jing by the hand and led him towards the outside wall. But before they could leap over it to escape, they were stopped by a clear voice. Chuckling softly, a person came holding a fan. He laughed, “Girl, I'm not certain you can manage to climb that.”

Huang Rong saw that it was Ouyang Ke. She knew his kung fu skills and knew that it would be difficult to get past him. So, she immediately turned to Mei Chaofeng and said, "Mei Shizi [Elder Martial Sister Mei], father is always willing to listen to me. I can ask favor for you. But first, you have to do something meritorious so father can forgive you.”

Mei Chaofeng asked, “What is it?”

Huang Rong said, “There's a bad person who wants to bully me. I will pretend to go along but you mustn’t allow the enemy to strike or beat me. Once father comes and sees you helping me, he'll be pleased.”

Mei Chaofeng, hearing that her younger apprentice sister was willing to ask her father for a favor, felt her spirits revive. As they spoke, four of Ouyang Ke's concubines arrived. Huang Rong dragged Guo Jing behind Mei Chaofeng to avoid getting in the way, waiting for Mei Chaofeng or Ouyang Ke to make opening moves and then take the opportunity to sneak off. Ouyang Ke saw Mei Chaofeng sitting on the ground, her hair disheveled and her skin covered with dirt. She tightly clutched the upper part of her bosom. Opening his fan lightly and moving forward to catch Huang Rong, he suddenly felt a force heading towards his chest. He looked down to find the woman on the ground stretching out her hand to grab him. He had never encountered such level of strength in one stance before. Shocked, he hastily struck towards her wrist with his fan and at the same time, leapt aside. He heard a mocking sound, a noise, and loud successive cries. The front piece of Ouyang Ke's jacket was torn, his fan broken in two, and his four concubines were collapsing to the ground. He took a quick look around and saw that all four women had been killed violently. Their spirits left their bodies as soon as they were hit. The tops of their heads were covered with blood and brain matter oozed out of five holes. The swiftness and viciousness of the move was extremely rare. Ouyang Ke was surprised and angry at the same time when he saw the woman still sitting motionless as though paralyzed. His fear lessened and he quickly launched a stance passed on by his family, the ‘Divine Camel Snowy Mountain Palm’ [Shen Tuo Xue Shan Zhang]. His body floated as his palm prepared to attack. Mei Chaofeng's ten finger nails were sharp, each poised to grab and squeeze the air out of him as she sneered at him. How could Ouyang Ke dare get close?

Just as Huang Rong pulled Guo Jing so they could walk away, they suddenly heard a mad roar coming from behind them. Hou Tonghai's two fists were headed towards them. Huang Rong leaned slightly to one side. When Hou Tonghai saw this, he aimed for her shoulders, feeling pleased with himself. His blunt brain did not function fast enough and he belatedly remembered that she was wearing the soft hedgehog armor. He let out a loud shout, hastily withdrew his two fists, and hit his own forehead above the three bumps, yelling out in pain. Where else could he grab her besides her hair? At that moment, Sha Tongtian, Liang Ziwong, and Peng Lianhu arrived. Liang Ziwong saw Ouyang Ke engaged in a vicious fight, his long gown torn and ragged, and realized that the woman was the same one who pretended to be a ghost in the cave. Roaring angrily, he went forward to attack. Sha Tongtian and the others noted that Mei Chaofeng's stances were fierce. They were astonished and so decided to keep close watch, waiting for the first opportunity to attack. They thought, “Where does this woman's high kung fu come from?” Peng Lianhu watched and figured it out, he shouted, “The ‘Twin Killers of the Dark Winds’!”

Huang Rong's body moved swiftly, first darting to the east before flashing to the west. How could Hou Tonghai grab her hair? Huang Rong noticed that his hands were always aimed at the top of her head and was able to surmise his intentions. She darted towards the rose bushes and hid behind them. She removed her long two-pronged hairpin and inserted it up from the base of the bun in her hair. Then she poked her head out and called, “I'm over here!”

Hou Tonghai was greatly pleased, and sent out a hand to grab the top of her head as he said, “This time, you can't get away, smelly boy...Ai yo, ai yo! Shi Ge (Martial Brother), the smelly boy's head also has thorns...thorns!” His palm had been punctured by the metal tips of the hairpin and caused him to jump back in pain.

Huang Rong laughingly said, “Your head has three horns. It's not fair. I only have two horns. Let's do this again!” Hou Tonghai replied, “No, not again!” Sha Tongtian scolded, “Do not shout!” Then he hurried over to his side to help.

By this time, Mei Chaofeng was engaging two masters who were attacking together. Suddenly, she sent her arm back to grab Guo Jing's chest, calling out, “Hold my legs.” Guo Jing did not understand what she meant but he wanted to help her fight the two powerful enemies. At her words, he immediately bent down and grabbed her legs.

Mei Chaofeng used her left hand to resist Ouyang Ke's palm while her right hand thrust towards Liang Ziwong. She said to Guo Jing, “Carry me to that old man Liang!”

Guo Jing suddenly understood, “Her lower body cannot move. She wants me to help her.” Thereupon he placed Mei Chaofeng on his shoulders and hurried after the fleeing enemy. His body had a strong kung fu basis and Mei Chaofeng's body was not heavy so even though she was on his shoulders, it did nothing to diminish his speed. He quickly leapt forward and Mei Chaofeng soared along with him.

Mei Chaofeng did not forget about the nei gong secret so even though she was facing the enemy, she also asked, “When you practice nei gong, how is it done?”

Guo Jing replied, “Sit cross-legged with five hearts facing heaven.” Mei Chaofeng asked, “What does five hearts facing heaven mean?

Guo Jing said, “The center of two palms, the center of two soles of the feet, and the center of the crown of the head – these are the five hearts.” Mei Chaofeng was delighted and her spirits rose. She reached out to brush the shoulders of Liang Ziwong, whose heart jumped as he started and ran away.

Guo Jing was about to chase after him when suddenly the Dragon King Sha Tongtian ran in front of him to help his apprentice brother capture Huang Rong. Startled, he hastily carried Mei Chaofeng towards them, shouting, “First, let's take care of these two!” Mei Chaofeng stretched out her left arm, heading towards Hou Tonghai. Hou Tonghai anxiously withdrew, trying to dodge. Who would think that Mei Chaofeng's arm would be so violent as though it had the strength of an ape? Although Hou Tonghai's dodging was quick, her arm was still able to follow his body. Grabbing him, the fingers of her right hand were already digging into him. Hou Tonghai's entire body went numb. He could no longer move.

He shouted, “Spare my life, spare my life, I have surrendered!”