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The Legend of the Condor Heroes - Chapter 28

Chapter 28 – Peak of the Iron Palm Mountain

At this time Lu You Jiao was having a debate with the other 3 elders. He said, "We have yet to learn the truth, so we should question them in more detail to determine the fate of our Clan Leader." The Clean-Faction 3rd Elder said, "We have already established our new Clan Leader, how can we change that at our whim? The rules established at the founding of our Clan states that we must never disobey the orders of our Clan Leader." The 4 Elders were having a heated argument. Lu You Jiao's fingers were broken and he bit his teeth to bear the pain but showed no sign of backing down. The Clean-Faction 3rd Elder made a hand sign and walked over to Yang Kang. Elder Peng said loudly, "We only trust Leader Yang. This evil girl helped cause the death of Leader Hong and cunningly escaped death, yet she's still here talking rubbish. Don't pay attention to her. Brothers, let's torture her till she confesses." Guo Jing jumped up and shouted, "Who dares touch her?" No one dared make a move on seeing his imposing figure. Qiu Qian Ren and his followers stood a distance away as they stood on the fence, taking delight in the Beggars' Clan's internal conflict. Huang Rong said clearly, "Leader Hong is now in the palace in Lin'an enjoying the Imperial Chef's food and is unable to reveal his identity. Hence he tasked me with the responsibility of this Clan's Leadership. When he's done savouring the food, he will naturally return." All the members of the Beggars' Clan knew about Hong Qi Gong's gluttony and felt there was much truth in her words, but still could hardly believe that such a young lass could be their new Leader.

Huang Rong continued, "This thief of the Jin Kingdom conspired with the Iron Palm Sect to harm me and steal the Clan Leader's Dog-Beating Stick, yet you people don't attempt to shed light on the truth? Our 4 Elders are very experienced and knowledgeable, yet how was it possible for them to fail to see through such a simple ploy?" When they heard her, the clan members looked at their 4 Elders with doubt. At this point Yang Kang could only stubbornly maintain his stand, saying, "You claim that Leader Hong is still alive, so why did he want you to be the Clan Leader? How do you prove your claim?" Huang Rong waved the bamboo stick, saying, "This is the Clan Leader's Dog-Beating Stick, isn't this proof enough?" Yang Kang laughed loudly, "Ha ha, this was originally mine and you snatched it away in front of everyone just moments ago. What 'proof' is this?" Huang Rong smiled, "If Leader Hong handed the Dog-Beating Stick to you, why didn't he teach you the Dog-Beating Skill too? If he did, how could I have snatched the Dog-Beating Stick from you?" When Yang Kang heard her mention the 'Dog-Beating Stick' 4 times, he felt that she made a blunder and he bellowed, "This is the token of authority of this Clan, what 'Dog-Beating Stick'? How dare you insult the treasure of this Clan?" He thought that his words could please the Beggars' Clan members but he was unaware that this stick was actually called the 'Dog- Beating Stick'. The 2 beggars with him deeply respected the Dog-Beating Stick and did not dare mention the name to him during their journey. Yang Kang had clearly showed his ignorance on the bamboo stick's name, and the Clan members all glared at him with displeasure. Yang Kang realized that he had said something wrong but could never have guessed that his mistake lay in the fact that the immensely important bamboo stick did actually have such an uncouth name. Huang Rong smiled, "Treasure? Take it if you like." She held the stick out for him.

Yang Kang was delighted and wanted to take it but was afraid of Guo Jing. Elder Peng said, "Leader, we'll protect you. Take it first." Yang Kang jumped up with Elder Jian and Elder Liang. Lu You Jiao saw that Huang Rong was alone and jumped up too. He thought, "Though my fingers are broken, I still have my legs. My name Lu You Jiao (Lu Has Legs) is not for nothing."

Huang Rong gallantly handed the bamboo stick over to Yang Kang. He was wary of her and made sure his vital organs were protected before taking the stick. Huang Rong let go of the stick and laughed, "Are you holding it tightly yet?" Yang Kang said sharply, "What?" Huang Rong suddenly laid her left hand on the stick and shot her leg up. She tossed the stick down and said, "Once you've held it properly, I'll snatch it again." Elder Jian waved his sleeve and retrieved the stick. This move was clean and fast, and the beggars around cheered. Elder Jian then handed it back to Yang Kang. He gripped it and thought, "Unless you chop off my hand, you're not going to snatch it again."

Huang Rong laughed, "When Chief Hong handed this stick to you, didn't he teach you to hold it properly so that others wouldn't snatch it easily?" The crowd laughed as Elder Jian and Elder Liang moved in front of Yang Kang. Elder Jian's leg moved out as he tried to grab her but Huang Rong used a leaping technique from Hong Qi Gong's [Carefree Boxing]. She moved like a swallow, causing Elder Jian to grab thin air even though he was so close to her. His heart trembled slightly just as he heard the bamboo stick swishing towards their legs. The 2 Elders jumped away to avoid the strike. Huang Rong laughed, "Pardon me, but the name of this stroke is [Rod Hitting 2 Dogs]!" Her white sleeve floated as she stood at the edge, the bright green bamboo stick glowing radiantly in her hand. This time she had moved even faster and no one could see what strokes she used. Guo Jing cheered, "Who did Chief Hong teach the [Dog-Beating Skill] now? Isn't this clear enough?" The beggars gathered around had seen her snatch the stick trice, each time faster than the previous, and they started debating among themselves. Lu You Jiao said clearly, "Brothers, this lady's strokes are indeed from our Chief's martial arts." The 3 Elders looked at each other. Knowing Hong Qigong for so many years, they knew that it was indeed from his martial arts. Elder Jian said, "Since she's our old Chief's disciple, it's natural that she knows some of his skills." Lu You Jiao said, "We also know that the [Dog-Beating Skill] is taught exclusively to our Clan Leaders only." Elder Jian laughed coldly, "That lass learnt some weapon-snatching skills, and though she's pretty good, how can it be proven that this is actually the [Dog-Beating Skill]?"

Lu You Jiao also had his doubts and said, "OK, young lady, please display the [Dog-Beating Skill] for all to see, and if it's really genuine, all the beggars will be convinced." Elder Jian said, "We've all heard about this skill, but none of us has actually seen it in action. How do we know if it's genuine?" Lu You Jiao asked, "What do you suggest?" Elder Jian clapped his hands and said loudly, "If this lady is able to defeat my [Pork Palms] with the [Dog-Beating Skill], I shall recognize her as our Chief. Should I have any 2nd thoughts, may my body be pierced with a thousand knives and arrows." Lu You Jiao protested, "Hey, you're a top expert in this Clan with your name known in Jiang Hu for 20 years now. How old is this lady? She's new to this skill, how can she be a match for your decades of experience?" As they were arguing, Elder Liang became impatient and jumped towards Huang Rong, shouting, "The truth about the [Dog-Beating Skill] shall be known now! En garde!" His sabre chopped trice through the air, the cold light glinting on the blade. The chops were fast and fierce, yet they avoided her body with the accuracy of an expert. Huang Rong stuffed the bamboo stick in her belt and without moving her feet, she avoided the chops. She laughed, "With you, why do I need the [Dog-Beating Skill]?" Her left hand started her stroke while her right hand tried to snatch his sabre with brute force.

Elder Liang was a well-known figure, so he was furious that such a young inexperienced girl did not take him seriously. He immediately chopped towards her shoulder using his special move. Elder Jian no longer felt any enmity towards Huang Rong and instead thought that there was more to it then it met the eye, so on seeing Elder Liang's ferocity, he cautioned, "Elder Liang, don't apply lethal force!" Huang Rong laughed, "It's OK!" Her motion changed abruptly, punching and kicking, pushing and jabbing, changing between more than 10 different martial arts in rapid succession.

The beggars around glued their eyes to the action. An 8-Pocket skinny beggar shouted, "Ah! [Lotus Palms]!" The fat beggar then exclaimed, "Eh, she knows the [Bronze Hammer Boxing]!" Before he finished, she changed martial arts again, and the experts each exclaimed, "Ah it's the Chief's [Sky- Striking Skill]." "Hey, she's using the [Iron-Curtain Kicking Technique]!" "This move is [Limp Hands Overcoming the Enemy]!"

Hong Qi Gong was actually a lazy person who disliked taking martial disciples. It was only when the Beggars' Clan members made some important contribution that he would teach 1 or 2 strokes as a reward. Even when one of them performed his duties without regard for his life, Hong Qi Gong only taught him one of the strokes of the [18 Dragon Subduing Palms] - the [Divine Dragon Displays its Tail]. Hong Qi Gong also had another habit where he would not teach the same stroke to more than 1 person, so whatever the Beggars' Clan members learnt would not share any common ground. It was only due to Huang Rong's intelligence and fantastic culinary skills that pleased him into teaching her dozens of different martial arts. But because she loved to play, she only learnt a few strokes each. Besides, Hong Qi Gong was too lazy to train her properly, so Huang Rong could only display the skills without the finesse. Still, her purpose was just to display the martial arts Hong Qi Gong taught her, and the beggars exclaimed when they saw that it was something they knew. Elder Liang's sabre skills were far better than Huang Rong's; it was due to her rapid change in martial arts that momentarily dazzled him, preventing him from attacking and forcing him to defend himself.

As the sabre flashed, Huang Rong suddenly withdrew her palms to her side and laughed, "Do you admit defeat?" Elder Liang had yet to use all his stances, why should he admit defeat? His sabre flipped outwards from his bosom. Huang Rong did not evade the strike, causing the beggars around to call out in surprise as the sabre flew towards her. Elder Jian and Lu You Jiao shouted for him to stop. Elder Liang also knew something was not right and hastily tried to pull the sabre upwards, but could not pull back in time and it hit her left shoulder. He groaned silently, "Oh no!" The force behind the strike was not very light and he felt that he must have injured her. Suddenly his arm went numb and the sabre hit the ground with a clang. Little did he know that Huang Rong was wearing the Soft Armour and that she seized the opportunity when he hesitated with his strike to tap his accupoint using her family's [Flower-Plucking Hands]. She stepped on the sabre and smiled, "Well?" Elder Liang was so certain that he injured her in his strike that he was shocked by this sudden turn of events and wordlessly stepped away. Yang Kang said, "She's Huang Yao Shi's daughter, so there's nothing strange about her wearing the Soft Armour." Elder Jian creased his eyebrows in doubt. Huang Rong laughed, "You don't believe it?" Lu You Jiao observed that though her martial arts were good, she was still far behind Elder Liang. If not for her trick, she could only hope for a draw at best. Elder Jian was much better than Elder Liang and she was not his match, yet she was still giggling indifferently. Lu You Jiao was worried but the pain in his broken fingers was preventing him from speaking as he sweated profusely. Elder Jian lifted his head and said, "Miss, allow me to spar with you!" Guo Jing saw his imposing figure and solid steps and also knew Huang Rong was not his match, so he picked up the bundled cow skin and rushed forward. He tossed it out and wrapped it around Elder Jian's bronze staff (which Qiu Qian Ren lodged in the stone) and shouted, "Up!" The staff trembled and jerked upwards. The staff was facing Elder Jian but Guo Jing dashed in between and struck out with the [Six Dragon Palms] and hit it from the side. This was one of the strokes from the [18 Dragon Subduing Palms] and its force was something to be reckoned with. The impact caused the staff to change direction abruptly. Guo Jing caught hold of the staff and used it to execute the stroke [Clouds Without Rain] while his right hand executed the stroke [Convincing Sarcasm]. He applied the [Dual-Hand Skill] to execute 2 moves at the same time and the bronze staff rose up steadily. He then used the move [Sighting the Dragon in the Farm] and struck the middle of the staff. He shouted, "Watch it!" as it flew towards Elder Jian.

The staff flew like the snow and Elder Jian knew if he stretched out to intercept it, his hand would be dislocated, so he jumped aside. He feared that it may hit the beggars around so he shouted, "Get away!" However Huang Rong stretched out the bamboo stick and tapped the middle of the bronze staff and gently pressed it downwards. This was a good example of the saying "4 liang moving a thousand jin". Though the move was gentle, it was one of the ingenious strokes of the [Dog-Beating Skill] called [Pressure on the Dog's Back] which made very efficient use of the applied forces. She pressed down on the staff and laughed, "You use the staff, I use the stick. Let's have some fun."

Elder Jian was stunned and gave up all thoughts of sparring. He bent down to pick up the staff and held it head-down, then bowed and said, "Miss, please show leniency." This action was actually supposed to be a mark of respect of a junior to an elder indicating inequality between their skills and the desire to seek pointers from the elder.

Huang Rong stretched out the bamboo stick and used the stroke [Facing the Dog to the Sky] and tossed the head of the staff upwards. She laughed, "Please dispense on ceremony. I may not be as skillful as you." This bronze staff had been Elder Jian's precious weapon for decades and yet he almost could not hold on to it firmly as it brushed his forehead as he hastily withdrew the weapon. He was surprised and quickly applied the stroke [Qin King Whips the Stone] and hit downwards from behind - a stroke originated from the martial arts of the heroes from Liang Mountain Slope (Liang Shan Po) called the [Mad Demon's Staff Skill]. Huang Rong saw that this strike was strong and fierce and felt that if he managed to sweep her down, she would still sustain internal injuries even with the Soft Armour. She increased her pace and used the [Dog-Beating Skill] and slid the stick up the bronze staff. The bronze staff weighed around 30 jin while the stick was only about 10 liang but the skill was profound and ingenious and easily allowed the bamboo stick to prevent the staff from breaking through within just a few strokes.

At first Elder Jian was only afraid that he would break the bamboo stick, so he restrained himself, withdrawing the staff once it made contact with the stick. However, with Huang Rong's proficiency in the stick, Elder Jian was repeatedly forced to defend himself. Within a few more moves, he only saw the shadows of the stick in all directions and had to use all his strength to hold his ground and could not care if he hit the stick forcefully or not.

Guo Jing sighed in admiration, "Master's martial arts are really unfathomable." He then thought, "I wonder where Master is now? I hope he has already recovered." He suddenly saw Huang Rong change tactics again. She held the stick with 3 fingers and it flew into a circular dance. Elder Jian was momentarily dazzled when he struck out towards her shoulder. Huang Rong flipped the stick to keep it close to the head of the staff, then she 'lured' the staff outwards, borrowing up to 90% of the staff's own momentum. Elder Jian felt as though the staff was about to fly out of his hands and he hastily tried to pull back but did not expect the stick to 'glue' to his staff. In his shock he changed moves 7 or 8 times in quick succession but found that he just could not 'shake off' the stick.

The [Dog-Beating Skill] has 8 main principles - Trip, Block, Trap, Poke, Pick, Lure, Steal and Turn. Huang Rong used the Trap technique to make the stick like a vine winding round a tree; no matter how the tree grows in width, the vine would not be separated from the tree. After more strokes, he tried to execute the [Massive Diamond Strength Staff Skill], causing the staff to produce a swishing sound but the stick still followed his staff around. Huang Rong hardly used any strength at all and simply used her stick to chase his staff, so it looked like she was being controlled by the staff when in fact she was like a shadow using his own strength against him, just like how Guo Jing tamed his Little Red Horse years ago. Elder Jian no longer doubted her and was about to concede defeat when Elder Peng suddenly shouted, "Use the [Hand-Catching Technique] and grab the stick!" Huang Rong said, "OK, go ahead!" Her stick now changed to the Turn technique, which forced the opponent to follow himself, but causing the opponent to see a mass of flashes and shadows. He suddenly found that 5 of his vital accupoints on his back being threatened. Those were sensitive accupoints and a hit could be fatal. Elder Jian knew that the situation was critical and he rapidly retreated to avoid being hit but Huang Rong did not lose momentum and kept targeting his accupoints very intensely.

Elder Jian ran out of ideas and simply rushed forward. He managed to avoid the stick but it came up from behind. He stepped harder and started running, but the faster he ran, the faster the stick chased him. The beggars saw him jumping and running in circles around Huang Rong. She stood in the centre and made sure the stick did not leave his back by continuously changing hands to wield the stick; hence, she did not need to move around. Elder Jian’s circles became larger and Lu You Jiao had to get down with the other two Elders to avoid being hit. Elder Jian hastily said, “Yes! Yes! Greetings to the Clan Leader!” He wanted to bow in respect but Huang Rong showed no sign of stopping, so he had to continue jumping around till the sweat was dripping down his white beard. Huang Rong laughed and used the Pick principle and tossed the bronze staff upward, borrowing much of Elder Jian’s own jumping momentum. Elder Jian immediately bowed and cupped his hands in salute. The beggars around saw her brilliant performance with the [Dog-Beating Skill] and no longer had any doubts. So they loudly cheered, “Greetings to our Clan Leader!” Elder Jian stepped forward to spit on Huang Rong’s face, but when he looked at her jade white delicate face which shone like the blooming flower, how could he bear to spit on her? He hesitated and finally swallowed his spit back into his throat. Just then, someone jumped up and caught hold of the bronze staff – it was Elder Peng. Huang Rong fell for his hypnotic trick before and utterly disliked him, so she looked at him in wary silence before lifting the stick to tap the accupoint on his chest using the Turn principle, which left him with no room for retreat. However, Elder Peng was very cunning, and as he knew his martial were below Elder Jian’s he did not try to evade but simply cupped his hands and bowed.

After tapping his accupoint, Huang Rong angrily said, “What do you want?” Elder Peng said, “Allow me to pay my respect to Chief.” Huang Rong starred at him and met his gaze, causing her heart to shudder and she hurriedly turned away. Still, she could not help but look at his eyes again. She turned back and saw his piercing gaze and this time, she could not turn away so she quickly shut her eyes. Elder Peng grinned “Chief, you’re tired. Please take a rest!” His voice was silky and gentle. Huang Rong felt the fatigue rapidly overcoming her. When Elder Jian acknowledged Huang Rong as the Clan Leader, he felt that he had the responsibility to protect her, so when he saw Elder Jian using his hypnotic trick, he growled, “Elder Peng, what are you doing to chief?” Elder Peng smiled and said softly, “Chief needs rest; she’s tired. Can you help her?” Huang Rong realized the danger but her body was dizzy and limp and she closed her eyes to fall into a deep sleep. In her semi-conscious state, she suddenly recalled something that Guo Jing mentioned and snapped out of her dream, exclaiming, “Brother Jing! Did you say the manual contains some [Soul-Shifting Skill]?” Guo Jing had long noticed something wrong and would have killed Elder Peng in one palm strike if he tried any tricks; when he heard her, he jumped up and whispered something in her ear. Huang Rong heard him recite the passage, and with her high intelligence and good internal energy foundation, she was able to compose herself and force her eyes wide open, oblivious to the surroundings. Elder Peng saw her close eyes for some time and was secretly elated that his trick worked but he suddenly saw her re- open her eyes and smile at him. He smiled back but before he realized it, he felt his body floating and burst into laughter. Huang Rong knew that the skill in the [Nine – Yin Manual] was indeed superior and managed to hypnotize him with just one smile, so she chuckled. Elder Peng realized everything was wrong and tried to concentrate but instead lost further control of himself and stood up in wild laughter. The echoes of his laughing could be heard clearly all around the nearby lake.

The beggars around looked at each other and wondered what he was laughing at. Elder Jian kept shouting, “Elder Peng, What are you doing? How dare you show disrespect to the Chief?” Elder Peng pointed at his nose and bent his waist in laughter. Elder Jian though it was something on his face and roughly brushed his hand across his face. Elder Peng laughed even more wildly and somersaulted down, rolling on the ground. The beggars realized something was not right. Two of his own aides tried to support him up but he shoved them away amidst his laughter. For this sort of hypnotizing technique, it required a substantial amount of internal energy and will power to control the other party. For an ordinary person, if subjected to such treatment, the person would simply fall asleep, but because Elder Peng was concentrating on controlling Huang Rong, the effect on him was ten times worse when she suddenly ‘attacked’ him while in such a state.

Elder Jian was worried that he would die from exhaustion, so he bowed to Huang Rong and said, “Chief, Elder Peng has been disrespectful, but I beg that Chief would be magnanimous and spare his life.” Elder Liang and Lu You Jiao came forward and bowed too. Huang Rong asked Guo Jing, “Do you think it’s enough?” Guo Jing replied, “OK, let him off.” Huang Rong said, “Elders, if you want me to spare him, fine, but you folks must not spit on me.” Elder Jian hurriedly said, “The clan rules are set by the Chief, and can be altered by the Chief, we will listen to you.” Huang Rong was delighted to hear that she could avoid the spitting and laughed, “Ok, go tap his accupoint.” Elder Jian jumped to Elder Peng and sealed two of his accupoints, causing him to stop laughing and he panted heavily. Huang Rong giggled, “Now I can rest! Hey, where’s Yang Kang?” Guo Jing replied, “Gone!” Huang Rong jumped, asking, “How did that happen? Where did he go?” Guo Jing pointed at the lake and said, “He went off with that old man Qiu,” Huang Rong saw the blur figures a distance away and did not pursue, knowing that Guo Jing let him off on account of their family ties. When Yang Kang witnessed the match between Huang Rong and Elder Jian and saw her gain the advantage, he knew that if he did not leave now, his life would be at stake, so he slipped away to join the Iron Palm Sect while everyone was concentrating on the match. Qiu Qian Ren saw Huang Rong take the Clan Leadership and realized that with Guo Jing’s and Huang Rong’s good martial arts, coupled with the numerical strength of the Beggars’ Clan, it was unwise for them to stay, so he led the Iron Palm Sect members and Yang Kang off the island by boat. Some of the beggars observed them leaving, but with the ongoing match, there was no one controlling the situation, so they ignored the party. Huang Rong held the stick up and said clearly, “Before Chief Hong returns, I shall preside over all matters in this Clan. Elder Jian and Liang should lead some 8-Pocket members to welcome Chief Hong back; Elder Lu should remain here to recover from his injuries.” The beggars all cheered.

Huang Rong then said, “How do you people propose we handle Elder Peng?” Elder Jian said, “Brother’s offense is major and he deserves a serious punishment, but based on his merit for the Beggars’ Clan, please spare him from death.” Huang Rong laughed, “I knew you’d plead for him, Fine, he’s already had enough laughing, so just demote him from Elder to an 8-Pocket member.” The four Elders thanked her. Huang Rong said, “Brothers, you hardly meet and so must have much to say, you must give Li Sheng and Yu Tiao Xin a good burial. I see that Elder Lu is of good character, so all big matters will be decided by him. Elders Jian and Liang, please assist him. I shall take my leave now and we shall meet in Lin’an.” She held Guo Jing’s hand and left.

The beggars escorted them down the mountain and watched until their boat could no longer be seen before assembling again to discuss their plans.

The couple returned to the Yue Yang mansion by dawn and found the red horse and the two condors waiting for them. Huang Rong looked around and saw the red sun rising up from the lake; it was a beautiful scenery. She laughed, “Brother Jing, the essay by Master Fan Wen is really well written : ‘The distant mountain swallows the river and is vast without boundaries. Day by day it stands majestically.’ How can we not appreciate such a wonderful scene? Let’s drink a few cups.” Guo Jing agreed and they went upstairs. They thought of the previous night’s events and laughed. They were drinking merrily when Huang Rong suddenly became angry and said, “Brother Jing, It’s your fault!” Guo Jing was lost in confusion and begged, “Rong-er, please say it.” She said, “Ok, let me ask you, last night when we were both facing the Beggars’ Clan formation you felt that your life was in danger, but why did you abandon me? If you had died could I still live? Don’t you understand my heart?” Her tears fell into the cup. Guo Jing felt her deep feelings for him and was filled with love, grabbing her hand in his wordlessly. After some time, he said, “Yes, It was my fault. We should face death together.” Huang Rong sighed and was about to reply when she heard someone on the stairs, when they saw each other, all three were surprised. It was Qiu Qian Ren.

Guo Jing quickly stood up and shielded Huang Rong as he was afraid of Qiu Qian Ren’s murderous intent. However, Qiu Qian Ren merely laughed and went down. The laughter seemed to indicate surprise and panic. Huang Rong said, “He’s scaring us. This is strange; I’ll go check it out.” She did not wait for Guo Jing’s reply and ran downstairs. Guo Jing yelled, “Be careful!” He hurriedly dug out a piece of silver and plonked it on the counter before dashing out. He looked around but did not see them and remembered Qiu Qian Ren’s vicious martial arts and underhand methods and was worried that Huang Rong might meet some mishap, so he shouted, “Rong-er, where are you?”

Huang Rong heard him but did not respond as she was closely tailing Qiu Qian Ren and knew that the slightest sound could betray her position. Huang Rong hid behind a wall and waited for Qiu Qian Ren to move further so that it would be safer for her to tail him. However, when he heard Guo Jing shouting, he knew she was behind and he too hid behind the wall on the other side. After some time, both of them heard nothing stirring and peered round the corner at the same time. They came face to face with each other and their expressions changed simultaneously.

The two people gasped and turned to walked away. Huang Rong was afraid of his palm strength but did not want to give up, so she went one big round, then used her Qinggong to dash behind the other corner of the wall. Qiu Qian Ren expected her to do that and he too made a circle then used his Qinggong to dash to the corner of the wall, but he went in the other direction and bumped into her again. Huang Rong thought, “If I turn around, he’d surely strike my back and I might not avoid it.” She thought, “I should stall for time until Brother Jing comes.” He laughed, “We met in Lin’an the other day and we meet here again. Miss, how are you?” She thought, “I clearly saw this scum last night yet he’s still trying to fake it. I think I’ll test him out with the [Dog-Beating Skill]. She shouted, “Brother Jing, strike his back!” Qiu Qian Ren turned and saw no one, he realized he was tricked and he heard swishing sound around his legs. He hurriedly jumped and managed to avoid being hit, but the [Dog-Beating Skill]’s Trip principle is continuous like the flowing river and would continue to target the opponent until it succeeds. Though the technique is only about tripping the opponent, it contains many variations. He jumped faster and faster, but he kept seeing the stick’s shadow dancing around his legs. By the 17th step, he accidentally slackened his pace and immediately found himself slamming onto the ground. He yelled, “Wait! I’ve something to say.” Huang Rong laughed and waited for him to get up before tripping him again. He fell another five times and did not attempt to get up again but instead remained motionless on the ground. Huang Rong laughed, “Stop faking death.” He stood up and snapped his belt. Holding on to his pants, he said, “Are you leaving? I’m going to let go!” Huang Rong was shocked, as she never expected a reputable clan leader to use such a dirty trick. She feared that he would really let his pants drop so she turned to leave. She heard him laughing behind as he grabbed his pants and chased her. The normally cunning Huang Rong somehow ran out of tricks and simply evaded him, finding it infuriating yet funny. He was about to catch up when he saw Guo Jing jumping out from the corner and shielding Huang Rong with his palms ready to strike. Qiu Qian Ren saw that this was a powerful stance so he laughed, “Ah! Oh no!” Huang Rong said, “Brother Jing, hit him.” From what Guo Jing saw the previous night, he knew Qiu Qian Ren’s martial arts level was comparable to Ouyang Feng, Huang Yao Shi and Zhou Bo Tong so he did not dare underestimate him. He concentrated his Qi in his Dan Tian to prepare for his enemy. Qiu Qian Ren still held on to his pants saying, “You dolls better listen to Master here – today I ate something bad and my stomach’s upset.” Huang Rong repeated, “Brother Jing, hit him.” But she herself stepped backwards. Qiu Qian Ren said, “I know what you’re up to. You won’t be satisfied unless old Master here teaches you a lesson. But today, I’ve got trouble with my stomach. Fine; listen up, within 7 days, meet me at the foot of Iron Palm Mountain. Do you dare come?” Huang Rong heard him refer to himself as Master and held her bronze needles to throw at him for talking rubbish. Just as she was about to release the needles, she heard “foot of the Iron Palm Mountain” and remembered the 4 lines of words in the painting she saw at Qu Ling Feng’s place. She said, “OK, we should come to take a look. When we meet then, we’re not going to play with you. How do we get there?”

Qiu Qian Ren said, “From here, head west, pass through Chang De, Chun District, then proceed up Chao Yuan River. There will be a 5-peak mountain shaped like a palm. That’s it. That’s a dangerous place; if you’re afraid, then apologize to me and don’t come.” Huang Rong became more excited and said, “OK, it’s a promise. See you there.” Qiu Qian Ren nodded before exclaiming, “Ah!” and rushed off clutching his waist.

Guo Jing said, “Rong-er, there’s something I don’t understand. Please explain.” Huang Rong asked, “Yes?” Guo Jing said, “This old man’ martial arts are good; we’re not his match, but why does he try to fool us? That day at the Gui Yun mansion, he struck my chest. If he’d used his full strength, I’d be dead. What is he driving at?” Huang Rong nibbled her finger, saying, “I’ve got no idea. When I tripped him just now, he did not try to use his skill, maybe what he did with the bronze staff last night was a trick.” Guo Jing shook his head, “He broke Lu You Jiao’s hands – that can’t be faked.”

Huang Rong bent down and used her hairpin to draw on the ground. After a moment, she sighed, “I can’t figure out what this old thief is up to. Anyway when we reach the 5-peak mountain, we could find out.” Guo Jing asked, “Why should we go there? We should find Master. This old man is a trickster, yet you believe him?” Huang Rong said, “Brother Jing, the painting that father handed you was wet by the rain and some words were revealed; what were they?” Guo Jing shook his head. “The words were not complete, I can’t infer anything meaningful.” Huang Rong laughed “Really?” Guo Jing knew he could not have understood it on his own, so he quickly said, “Rong-er, you must know it, quick, tell me.” Huang Rong wrote the lines of words and said, “The first line had the word ‘Wu’ missing, so it should be ‘Wu Mu Yi Shu’ (Yue Fei’s War Strategies Manual ‘武穆遗书’). I couldn’t have guessed the 2nd line if not for that old man, so it should be either ‘Mountain’ or ‘Peak’.” She recited the lines, “Wu Mu Yi She, Zhai Tie Zhang Shan (The manual’s at the Iron Palm Mountain).” Guo Jing clapped and exclaimed, “Yes! Let’s go! The Iron Palm Sect is corroborating with the Jin troops – they’d surely hand the manual to Wanyan Hong Lie. What’s next?” Huang Rong laughed, “That old man said the mountain is shaped like a palm, and the 3rd line is ‘Zhong Zhi Feng Xia’ (under the peak of the middle finger).” Guo Jing said excitedly, “Yes, Yes Rong-er, you’re brilliant! The 4th line!” Huang Rong said, “I’m not sure. Di er…jie’ (The 2nd … ).” She tossed her hair in the wind, saying. “ I give up. We’ll talk when we get there.”

They rode towards the place described and reached it within a day. They asked around but everybody shook their heads. They were disappointed and put up at an inn. Huang Rong asked the waiter but he did not mention anything relevant. Huang Rong said, “This place is boring. Is there anything worth seeing?” The waiter could not resist and said, “There’s this Monkey’s Claw Mountain – the scenery is unparalleled.” Huang Rong asked, “Where is that?” The waiter did not reply but instead said, “Never mind,” and walked out.

Huang Rong chased him and pulled him back and placed a silver ingot on the table, saying, “Tell me more and this is yours.” The waiter gently touched the ingot and said, “You are sure about this?” Huang Rong nodded with a smile. The waiter said in a low voice, “I’ll talk, but you must not go. That place is reputed to be inhabited by beasts and demons. Whoever goes within 5 miles of the mountain can dream of coming back alive.” The couple nodded. Huang Rong said, “The mountain has 5 peaks shaped like a monkey’s hand, isn’t it?” The waiter exclaimed, “Yes! So you already knew! I didn’t say that. But there’s something strange about the mountain.” Guo Jing asked, “What?” He replied, “The mountain being shaped like a hand isn’t really strange, what’s strange is that every ‘finger’ on the mountain has 3 segments, just like our fingers.” Huang Rong jumped up, shouting, “The 2nd segment, the 2nd segment!” Guo Jing yelled happily, “Correct! Precisely!” The waiter did not know what was going on and starred at the couple blankly. Huang Rong asked for more details and handed him the silver. The waiter left happily.

Huang Rong stood up and said, “Brother Jing, Let’s go.” Guo Jing said, “It’s less than 30km from here. We can use the Red Horse to rush there now, and we can pay them a visit tomorrow morning.” Huang Rong laughed, “What visit? Steal the book.” Guo Jing exclaimed, “Yes! I’m so dense, I didn’t think of that.” They did not want to arouse any attention so they left through the window and galloped southeast. The waist-length grass hindered their movement, but when they were 20km away, they saw the 5- peak mountain in the distance. Guo Jing excitedly said, “The mountain looks exactly like the painting, see the pine trees at the summit?” Huang Rong laughed, “We’re short of a general up there. Brother Jing, go up and display your sword skills.” Guo Jing laughed, “But I’m not a general.” Huang Rong replied, “Isn’t that easy? Eventually Genghis Khan…” Her words trailed off. Guo Jing knew what she meant and turned his head away, not daring to face her.

They left their horse at the foot of the mountain and utilized their Qinggong to scale the mountain. After many twists and turns, they came to a thick clump of pine trees. They stopped to discuss if they should continue upwards or investigate the clump of trees when they saw a faint light among the trees. They exchanged hand signs and crept stealthily towards the light. Suddenly, there was a whoosh and two black-clad armed men jumped up and blocked the road. Huang Rong thought, “If we fight them, it would be difficult to steal the book.” She had an idea and took out Qiu Qian Ren’s Iron Palm token and showed them wordlessly. When the two men saw it, they were shocked and quickly bowed and stepped aside. Huang Rong swiftly drew her bamboo stick and struck their accupoints then kicked them into the tall grass. She crept closer and saw a large stone house with two boxes on the left and right of the entrance. In the center, a large urn was burning on a stove and the burning smell was easily detectable. Two young attendants stood on each side of the stove, one of them stirring the mixture inside with an iron ladle. From the sizzling sound, it was clear that the urn contained iron filings. An old man sat close by, breathing deeply – it was Qiu Qian Ren. After a while, he lifted his palms then stood up suddenly and struck his palms into the urn. Qiu Qian Ren practiced on the burning iron filings for a while then struck towards a cloth sack suspended above. The palm hit the sack with a solid slap, yet the sack did not even move.

Guo Jing was secretly shocked, thinking, “This cloth sack is not supported by anything, yet it didn’t move. His palm skill must be extremely good.” Huang Rong, however felt that it must be a trick; if she wanted to steal the book first, she would have said so earlier. He struck his palms into the urn then struck the cloth sack again, repeating this process several times. Huang Rong just could not figure out how he did this trick and thought, “If 2nd Master were here, he’d surely guess it. I’m not as smart as he is.” They peeped into the adjacent room and had another shock. Inside, a male and female seated together – it was Yang Kang and Mu Nian Ci. Both Guo Jing and Huang Rong wondered, “How did Sister Mu get here?” They heard Yang Kang’s sweet and flattering words and discovered that he was trying to trick her into marriage earlier. Mu Nian Ci, however, insisted that he kill Wanyan Hong Lie first before going into a relationship. Yang Kang said, “My dear, how could you be so short-sighted?” Mu Nian Ci queried curiously, “How so?” Yang Kang said, “Yes! Wanyan Hong Lie is surrounded by many bodyguards. Based on just myself alone, how could I succeed? If you marry me, I could pretend to take you to visit your in-laws. With the two of us, our chances are naturally better.” Mu Nian Ci felt that this made sense, so she remained silent. Yang Kang saw that she was willing and so he held her hand and gently stroke it, then stretched his hand to hug her waist. Huang Rong could not take it and wanted to step forward and expose his plan when she heard an old rasping voice behind her, “Who dares trespass my mountain?” The couple turned around and saw Qiu Qian Ren’s face glowing under the moonlight. Though he must have been playing a trick, his menacing gaze showed that he should not be trifled with. Huang Rong was startled, then thought, “He’s on his own mountain now, of course he’d try to put on airs. Yup, he already discovered our presence earlier on, so he deliberately set this up for us, isn’t it?” She laughed, “Old Qiu, we are here on your invitation. Have you forgotten the 7 –day appointment?” Qiu Qian Ren snapped, “What appointment? Rubbish!” Huang Rong laughed, “Hmm, how could you forget it so soon? Is your stomach upset gone yet? If not, you should consult a physician before exchanging blows with me, to prevent … hehehe!” Qiu Qian Ren did not respond but launched both palms towards Huang Rong’s shoulder fiercely. She giggled and ignored his strike, wanting to use her Soft Armour to pierce his palms. Just then Guo Jing exclaimed, “Get away!” She felt a guest of wind and knew Guo Jing tried to intercept him but felt a heavy blow smashing right into her. She fell backwards and everything went black.

Qiu Qian Ren felt a shock to his palms as they bled profusely. He was shocked and furious when he saw Guo Jing’s palms flying to him, so he quickly retracted his palms and met Guo Jing’s strike. Their palms met with a smack and both retreated three steps. Qiu Qian Ren stood firmly while Guo Jing stumbled, which clearly showed the difference between their palm strengths. The previous night when they exchanged blows, Guo Jing appeared to be on par only because he used the Big Dipper Formation. Guo Jing was concerned about Huang Rong, so he withdrew from the battle and hugged her up to go, but he heard the wind gust from behind – he was being attacked again. Guo Jing struck his right hand backwards without turning around, using the move [Dragon Displays Its Tail] – this was a special move designed to save lives, and now when he was in great danger, the power of the move was increased. Qiu Qian Ren hit his palms and felt his body go slightly numb. He checked his hands and found the blood glistening in the moonlight and was afraid Huang Rong’s protective vest could be poisoned. He looked closely and saw that the blood was still bright red, so he breathed a sigh of relief. Guo Jing took advantage of his procrastination to grab Huang Rong and dash out towards the summit. He only ran a few dozen steps when he heard angry shouts from behind. He turned and saw numerous black – clad men with torches swarming towards him. In the chaos he happened to discover that Huang Rong was not breathing. He screamed, “Rong-er! Rong-er!” There was no response. With this slight delay, Qiu Qian Ren’s men came within a dangerous distance. Guo Jing thought, “If I were alone, I could break through this encirclement easily, but Rong-er is severely injured. I can’t take this risk.” He ran faster and climbed directly upwards. He had learnt mountain-scaling skills before, so it was not long before he threw his pursuers far behind. Still, he did not stop, and when his face came into contact with Huang Rong’s face, he felt the warmth of her cheeks and felt greatly relived. However, she had yet to respond to him. He looked up and saw that the summit was quite narrow and could be easily surrounded, so he tried to find somewhere where he could save Huang Rong first. He thought he saw a cave in the darkness, so he dashed in that direction and found that it was really a cave, and its entrance had some stacks of jade stones. Guo Jing ignored any danger which may have lurked inside and rush in. He placed her down and put his hand on her “Ling Tai” accupoint to aid her breathing. The Iron Palm Sect members could be heard shouting and yelling in the distance, but even if an army charged in row, he would still save her first. After some time, she coughed and regained consciousness, groaning feebly, “My chest hurts.” Guo Jing was delighted and exclaimed, “Rong-er, don’t be afraid, I’m here.” He walked to the entrance and looked down, and got a shock. The torches below formed a neat wall surrounding them and one prominent figure stood in the middle – it was Qiu Qian Ren. Yet for all the yelling and shouting, none of the people below moved any closer. He could not guess what they were up to, so he went back in to check on her when he suddenly heard footsteps in the darkness. Guo Jing was surprised and used his palm to guard his rear while he tuned around, but he could not see who it was in the darkness. He called out, “Who’s that? Come out now.” The echo could be clearly heard in the cave, and after a slight pause, there was someone laughing, and he sounded just like Qiu Qian Ren. Guo Jing could make out a figure walking into the light – it was indeed Qiu Qian Ren. Guo Jing had clearly seen him down the mountain shouting and cursing, yet how could he get there in the blink of an eye? He felt the cold sweat trickling down his spine. Qiu Qian Ren laughed, “You 2 dolls aren’t afraid of death and came here to find your master, good.” He then said loudly, “This is the forbidden territory of the Iron Palm Sect, and all who trespasses it shall die, are you dolls tired of living?” Guo Jing could not guess his intention, but Huang Rong quietly said, “Since it’s forbidden, why are you here?” Qiu Qian Ren was taken aback and said, “I’ve got something important to do and I’ve got no time for your question.” He tried to leave the cave. Guo Jing saw his quick steps and feared that he would try to ambush him and harm Huang Rong, so he thought, “I should strike first.” Both his palms flew out toward Qiu Qian Ren’s shoulders and he expected Qiu Qian Ren to block him, so Guo Jing would then strike his waist. This move was invented by the scholar Zhu Cong, with emphasis on masking the actual target so that the enemy could not block it. As expected, Qiu Qian Ren blocked him, but just as Guo Jing changed direction to hit him, Guo Jing felt that his opponent was not using any strength at all, totally unlike what he experienced just moments ago. Guo Jing did not think as fast as he moved, so he naturally grabbed his opponent’s hands. Qiu Qian Ren struggled frantically but could not break free. But with this struggle, he allowed Guo Jing to see through his martial arts. Guo Jing knew there was no danger and released him. Qiu Qian Ren stumbled towards him, allowing him to simply seal his “Yin Du” accupoint. Qiu Qian Ren collapsed immobilized onto the ground and said, “Young master, this is a dangerous situation, how could you play games with me?” Now the yelling and chanting were getting much louder – the rest of the Iron Palm Sect members had rushed to the scene. Guo Jing said, “Bring us safely down the mountain.” Qiu Qian Ren numbly shook his head saying, “My own life is in danger, how could I still help you?” Guo Jing said, “Ask your disciples to make way. When we reach the foot of the mountain, I’ll release your accupoint.” Qiu Qian Ren frowned, “Master, why torture me? Go the the entrance and see for yourself.”

Guo Jing went to the entrance and looked down and was startled. Qiu Qian Ren stood in front of his disciples yelling away. Guo Jing quickly turned around and saw him lying down. He asked in a confused voice, “You… you…Why are there 2 of you?” Huang Rong said, “Silly boy, don’t you see, there are 2 of them. One is highly skilled in martial arts while the other can only brag and boast. They look exactly alike and this is the big-mouthed one.” Guo Jing was perplexed for a while before the truth dawned on him and he said, “Is that right?” Qiu Qian Ren made a sour face and said, “Since she said so, then it’s so. We’re twins and I’m the elder. At first I was better in martial arts but my brother’s improved drastically later.” Guo Jing said, “Then who is Qiu Qian Ren?” He replied, “What difference does it make? Isn’t it the same if I’m Qian Ren or he is? We were pretty close since young, so we share the same name.” Guo Jing said, “Quick, tell me.” Huang Rong said, “Isn’t it obvious? He’s the impersonator.” Guo Jing said, “Eh, old man, then what’s your name?” He could not avoid the question so he said, “I remember Father called me something like ‘Qian Zhang’. I felt it didn’t sound nice, so I didn’t use it.” Guo Jing laughed, “Ha, you’re Qiu Qian Zhang.” He replied, “So, what can you do about that? Ten ‘chi’ makes one ‘zhang’, and 7 ‘chi’ make one ‘ren’, so 1000 ‘zhang’ is longer than 1000 ‘ren’ by 3000 ‘chi’.” (Refers to the meaning of their names.) Huang Rong said, “I think you should change your name to ‘Qian Fen’ (1000 cm).”

Guo Jing said, “Why is he yelling there? What doesn’t he come up?” Qiu Qian Zhang said, “Without my orders, who dares come up?” Guo Jing half- believed him. Huang Rong said, “Brother Jing, don’t trust this wily old fox. Hit his ‘Tian Tu’ accupoint!” Guo Jing stretched out finger and tapped it.

This accupoint was beneath the throat, and once hit, Qiu Qian Zhang felt as though a thousand ants were crawling all over him, and he felt extremely numb and itchy. He kept squealing, “Ah! Ah, are you trying to kill me?” Guo Jing, “Then answer me now and I’ll release you.” Qiu Qian Zhang shouted, “Alright, I can’t win you.” Bearing with the discomfort, he revealed everything. So Qiu Qian Ren and Qiu Qian Zhang were actually twins, and their similarities in looks made it difficult to differentiate them. When they were 13, Qiu Qian Ren unintentionally saved the life of the previous Iron Palm Sect Leader; The Leader repaid him by teaching him all his martial arts. When he was 24, Qiu Qian Ren’s martial arts were very outstanding, so when the previous leader passed away, he became the new sect leader. With his talent and determination, he managed to expand his sect and improve its reputation; hence Jiang Hu was well aware of the name “Iron Palms Floating On Water.” During the first Mt. Hua Sword meet, Wang Chong Yang invited him, but though his palm skills were powerful, he knew he was no match for Wang Chong Yang, so he declined to attend the tournament. During the past decade he practiced diligently, hoping to clinch the ‘World No. 1’ title at the 2nd Mt. Hua Sword Meet. It was at this stage that Qiu Qian Zhang took on his brother’s name for himself to brag around outside. The one Guo Jing and Huang Rong met at Gui Yun Manor and Lin’an Mansion was Qiu Qian Zhang. Because of their resemblance and Huang Rong’s carelessness, she sustained such a life-threatening injury. Now this second segment of the middle ‘finger’ was designated as the burial ground for all the previous leaders. The leader would enter this cave to await death when he was about to breathe his last. If the leader died while away, it was considered an honor for any disciple to bring the leader’s remains inside and die with him. Hence, it was declared a sacred and forbidden ground and all who entered must not leave alive. Therefore, when Guo Jing and Huang Rong barged into the cave, the members could only curse them from a distance as none dared enter. Even the leader himself had to stoop to cursing them. Why then, did Qiu Qian Zhang dare to enter? Whenever a leader was close to death, he had to bring his favorite weapons and treasures with him, so the cave accumulated a lot of valuables. Hence, Qiu Qian Zhang wanted the weapons for himself to show off. He never expected to see Guo Jing and Huang Rong turn up here. Guo Jing listened to his narration and thought, “This place is forbidden to them, but there’s no other way down, how do we get out of this?” Huang Rong said, “Brother Jing, try looking inside.” Guo Jing said, “Allow me to check your injuries first.” He lit a torch and proceeded to undo her outer dress and Soft Armour. Her snow-white shoulders revealed two black palm-marks, indicating the grave condition of the injuries. If left untreated, the injuries would eventually claim her life. Guo Jing thought, “Ouyang Feng and Qiu Qian Ren’s martial arts are about the same, so Huang Rong’s injuries are probably just as a huge problem as Master’s injuries.” He stared into blank space. Qiu Qian Zhang yelled, “What rubbish is this lass talking now? Hurry up and unseal my accupoint. The itch is killing me, why don’t you try it yourself?” Guo Jing, though, was oblivious to all that.

Huang Rong smiled, “Silly boy, relax. Release that old man.” Guo Jing then walked over and released his accupoint. Qiu Qian Zhang’s itch stopped but his ‘Yin Du’ accupoint was still sealed, so he remained motionless apart from his pupils. Guo Jing found a 2-foot long club and lit it as a torch, saying, “Rong-er, I’ll go take a look inside, will you be OK here alone?” Huang Rong’s temperature rose and dropped rapidly and the pain was almost unbearable, but she forced a smile, “With this old man, I’m not afraid, go ahead.” Guo Jing raised up the torch and treaded carefully. After 2 turns, he came to a large natural cave which was 10 times larger than the cave outside. He scanned the room and observed many skeletons; some sitting, some lying, some scattered on the ground while some had missing bones. Each skeleton had some sort of weapon or treasure at its side. Guo Jing dreamily thought, “These ex-leaders must have been the great men of their day, yet today they are reduced to bones. Still, at least they have each other for company. This is good; at least it beats being buried alone.” It was as though he did not notice the weapons and treasure in his anxiety for Huang Rong. Just as he was about to leave, he happened to lay his eyes on a wooden box next to a skeleton. He shone his torch on it and looked closely and saw the inscription, “Secrets to Overcoming the Jin,” He started, “Maybe this is the manual by Grand Marshal Yue,” He tugged at the box when the skeleton suddenly ‘leapt’ toward him.

Guo Jing was shocked and hurriedly jumped back while the skeleton smashed on the ground. He grabbed the box and dashed out. He then supported Huang Rong up and opened the box in front of her. There were two books inside. Flipping through the first book, Guo Jing saw that its contents were Yue Fei’s essays and other literary works. As he glanced through the words and passages he was filled with a strong surge of loyalty and righteousness, and he sighed in admiration. Huang Rong said, “Read a passage to me.” He flipped through casually and recited the passage <The Five Hill Treaties>, “Since the strife in the Central Plains began, the Barbarians have invaded, anger flowed like the spring river; rising united, armies assembled, fighting hundreds of battles. Though we failed to advance far, we cleansed their lair, and swiftly ending the feud between states. Yet today the lone army marches on, for Yixing. The war of Jing Kang defeated and humiliated our lands, and our hatred will not rein our horses. The troops lay in wait for the enemy, raising the morale of the soldiers; battling through time, moving through the northern desert, shedding blood in the cities, exterminating the Barbarians, welcoming the return of the 2 sages, capturing their land; the Imperial Court had no worries, the Emperor slept in peace, and so Yue Fei wrote.” The passage summarized Yue Fei’s life ambitions. Though Guo Jing’s literacy was limited, he was filled with the desire to serve the people. While he read some of the words wrongly, he nevertheless felt the essay was extremely well written.

If they were back at Gui Yun manor, Qiu Qian Zhang would not have hesitated to mock and scorn Yue Fei, but now he feared his accupoint would be sealed again. Though he was not well informed about Yue Fei, he still nodded his head, saying, “Yes, it’s indeed well written, and a worthy hero is reading a hero’s essay, nothing could be better.”

Huang Rong sighed, “No wonder Father kept lamenting that he was born decades late; if not he would definitely meet such a great hero. Please recite his poems,” Guo Jing went through a few poems, and some like <The Crimson River> were familiar to her, while others like <Title of a soldier’s pavilion> were new to her.

The Iron Palm Sect members continued to shout and curse; Guo Jing let Huang Rong’s head rest on his thigh while he continued to recite Yue Fei’s works, “The title is <Title of the Sun Dragon’s Residence> : At the Wei Mountain Monastery, the mountain spring defeats the stillness. At the Buddha’s statue in Zijin, the snow covered the old monk’s head. The cold lake water welcomes a new month, and the pine tree welcomes the autumn wind. I leave the dragon’s words, hoping to aid the people in the storm.” The wind blew and the birds chirped as Huang Rong rested snugly in Guo Jing’s arms. Guo Jing said, “Grand Marshal Yue deeply remembered the suffering of the people; he is a true hero indeed.” Huang Rong nodded and smiled, “The young hero is reading the works of a great hero while and old ‘hero’ is listening in. How redundant.” She then asked, “What’s the contents of the other book?” Guo Jing read a few lines inside and excitedly exclaimed, “This… this is really Grand Marshal Yue’s hand written text on the war strategies! Wanyan Hong Lie would never have imagined that this it. Fortunately it’s not been taken by him.” On the first page was written, in 18 bold words: Repeatedly examine plans, Tough/rigorous training, Equal rewards/punishments, Clear uncompromising orders, Fair/just rules, Everyone sharing hardship.

As they were reading, the shouting below abruptly ceased and not a single voice was heard. Suddenly, they were left in the unnatural silence. Guo Jing and Huang Rong listened carefully and heard the crackling of burning grass in the distance as Qiu Qian Zhang groaned loudly, “Today you 2 dolls have caused my destruction.” In his panic, he called them “dolls” again. Guo Jing rushed out and saw a whole wall of fire swiftly burning towards them. As the mountain was filled with tall grass, the flames rapidly spread to form a sea of fire.

Guo Jing gasped, “They don’t dare step into this forbidden territory, so they’re attacking by fire. The cave doesn’t have any flammable objects, but we’d surely be fried.” He immediately grabbed Huang Rong when he heard Qiu Qian Zhang screaming on the ground, so he kicked him lightly to unseal his accupoint to let him make his own escape. He then snatched the wooden box and ran up the mountain. They were still a few hundred metres from the summit. Guo Jing gathered his concentration and sprinted upwards with Qiu Qian Zhang following behind. Guo Jing looked down and saw the fire spreading in the distance and knew that thought they temporarily safe, it would not be for long, so he gave a long sigh. Huang Rong suddenly said, “Grand Marshal Yue’s given name is ‘Fei’ (fly), styled ‘Crane’. Let’s try ‘Condor’, how about that?” Guo Jing asked, “What condor?” Huang Rong said, “Call the condors up to fetch us down.” Guo Jing jumped up and exclaimed, “That would be fun. I’ll summon them. But I’m not sure they can take our weight.” Huang Rong sighed, “After all we’re heading for doom, so we might as well take the risk.” Guo Jing sat properly and gathered his Qi in his Dan Tian and made a loud, shrill whistle which propagated in all directions. This was the result of his internal energy training under Ma Yu, and with the [Nine Yin Manual], his internal energy improved by leaps and bounds. Though it was quite a great distance between the base and the summit, it was not long before the condors flew up and stopped in front of them. Guo Jing helped Huang Rong remove the Soft Armour and placed her on a condor’s back. He was worried that she might not be able to hold on tightly to it with her injury, so he strapped her down with a cloth belt. Mounting the other condor, he whistled and the condors flapped their wings. They trembled greatly as they took off, but once in flight, the condors stabilized. At first, Guo Jing feared that he might be too heavy, but once it spread it s wings, it flew effortlessly. Huang Rong, being a child at heart, felt this was an interesting sight, so she guided the condor towards Qiu Qian Zhang and it glided gracefully past him. Qiu Qian Zhang was shocked and shouted, “Miss, take me along. The fire will consume me soon!” Huang Rong laughed, “It can’t take the weight of 2 people. Why don’t you try begging your brother? Since his shorter by 3000 chi, wouldn’t he listen to you?” She tapped the bird and flew away; Qiu Qian Zhang became more and nervous and called out, “Miss, don’t you think this is interesting?” Her curiosity was aroused and she turned around to what he was up to. Suddenly, he launched himself forward, throwing his body off the mountain to grab her. He knew that either way he would die, so he took such a desperate gamble. With the sudden increase in weight, the condor plunged swiftly. It flapped its wings frantically but still could not produce enough lift. Qiu Qian Zhang grabbed Huang Rong’s back and tried to yank her off and toss her down, but she was strapped to the condor which prevented her from falling off. They were about to plunge to their death, and the Iron Palm Sect members who witnessed them were too shocked to speak. At this critical moment, Guo Jing’s condor flew straight at them and pecked at Qiu Qian Zhang’s head. He felt a sharp pain shoot through his head and he stretched out his hands to shield his head. But he lost his grip and flipped downwards, screaming madly as he fell into the valley below. The decrease in weight allowed the condor to regain its thrust and it gained altitude. The two condors then flew north.

End of Chapter 28.

Author’s Note:

Yue Fei’s poem <The crimson River> ( 满江红 ) was very well known, but the Song Dynasty had no known records of it. Yue Fei and Sun Yue He’s

<Jin Soldier’s Passages> and <Domestic Calling Volume>, a compilation of Yue Fei’s literary works have not been found to date. The text quoted above first appeared in the Ming Dynasty, so some believe that it belongs to the works of Ming Dynasty authors. Some sources claim that these works are of no value as they merely used Yue Fei’s name for the works.