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The Legend of the Condor Heroes - Chapter 36

Chapter 36 – Expedition to the West

Huang Rong quietly said, “I appreciate Uncle Ouyang’s compliments to me. Too bad Guo Jing is so gullible that right now he doesn’t even want to live in the same world as my father and I. After you save my father, if your nephew were still alive, ay! Couldn’t the marriage proposal of the past be pursued further?”

Ouyang Feng’s heart was stirred, “What is she getting at by bringing this matter up?” he pondered. In the meantime, Huang Rong continued, “Shagu, this good brother is very nice to you, isn’t he?”

“Yes,” Shagu answered, “He is going to take me home. I don’t want to play on that island anymore, I want to go home.” “What are you going to do at home?” Huang Rong asked, “There is a dead man in your house; there is a ghost there.” “Ah!” Shagu cried, she was scared, “Ah! There is a ghost in my house, a ghost! I don’t want to go home.”

“Who killed that man?” Huang Rong asked.

“I saw it, it was this good brother …” Shagu answered, but before she finished, ‘bing! bing!’ a couple of metallic sounds were heard, two secret projectiles fell down on the ground.

Huang Rong laughed, “Xiao Wangye [Young Prince], you don’t want her to talk? Fine. Just don’t use secret projectiles to hurt her.” Yang Kang was indignant, “This idiot talked nonsense, with ghost and everything.”

“Shagu,” Huang Rong said, “You can keep talking. This nice Yeye [grandpa] loved to hear your story.” “No,” Shagu answered, “Good brother doesn’t want Shagu to talk, Shagu won’t talk.”

“That’s right,” Yang Kang said, “Go lie down and sleep. If you open your mouth for just one more word, I’ll have the ghost come over and eat you.”

Shagu was very scared, “Oh, Oh,” she said. Then Ke Zhen’E heard some rustling sound. It was Shagu’s clothes, she lied down and slept.

“Shagu,” Huang Rong said, “If you don’t want to talk to me, I’ll get Yeye to take you back to the Island.” “I don’t want to go, I don’t want to go,” Shagu scried.

“Then you’ll have to talk,” Huang Rong said, “This good brother has killed someone in your house; what kind of man has he killed?” Everybody felt strange on why she suddenly wanted to talk about Yang Kang killing a man.

Yang Kang’s heart was thumping loudly, he got his right hand ready; as soon as Shagu revealed his secret about him killing someone at the Ox Village, even if it would arouse Ouyang Feng’s suspicion, he would use the ‘Nine Yin White-bone Claw’ to kill Shagu. He was wondering in his heart at the same time, “When I killed Ouyang Ke, only Mu Nianci, Cheng Yaojia and Lu Guanying, three people saw it. Did any one of them leak the secret? Hmm, it is likely that Shagu was also there to witness it, I was not being careful.”

The temple was quiet and everybody was waiting for Shagu to open her mouth. Ke Zhen’E could feel the tension, but he did not dare to make a slightest move. After waiting for half a day Shagu still did not say anything, only her light snore was heard; apparently she had fallen asleep.

Yang Kang breathed out a sigh of relief; his palm was sweating cold, “This Shagu poses a great danger to me,” he thought, “I must think of a way to get rid of her.” He cast his glance toward Ouyang Feng who was sitting quietly with his eyes closed. The moon illuminated the side of his face. He looked indifferent, seemed like he was unconcerned of everything that was going on around him.

Everybody else thought Huang Rong was just talking nonsense. Shagu was asleep; looked like the case was closed. They started to lie down or sat leaning against the wall, trying to get some sleep.

Just when the moon was rising higher they heard Shagu’s startled voice. She jumped up and shouted, “Don’t hurt me! Ouch, it hurt!”

With shrilling voice Huang Rong cried, “Ghost! Ghost! It’s a ghost without legs! Shagu, you killed that young mister without legs; he is coming to get you!”

In the quietness of the night Huang Rong’s voice made the hair on everybody’s back rose up.

“No!” Shagu cried, “It wasn’t me! It was this good brother …” she had not finished when suddenly ‘Ah!’ ‘Bang!’ ‘Aiyo!’ were heard simultaneously. Yang Kang abruptly sprang up, his arms outstretched, his fingers forming a claw heading straight toward Shagu’s skull, but Huang Rong had used her dog-beating stick to entangle his legs.

The temple was in chaos; Sha Tongtian and the others immediately surrounded Huang Rong. Huang Rong, however, seemed oblivious to all this, her left index finger pointed toward the temple’s door; she cried out, “Mister with no legs, come here, Shagu is here!”

Shagu looked at the temple door. It was dark, so all she could see was blackness, but she was always scared of ghosts ever since she was little; quickly she pulled Huang Rong’s sleeve and cried in panic, “Don’t come to take my life, it was this good brother who killed you with an iron spearhead. I was in the kitchen watching through the door … ghost with no legs, don’t come looking for me!”

Not in a million years would Ouyang Feng guess that his beloved nephew was killed by Yang Kang; yet he always thought that Yang Kang was unable to tell lies. Obviously Shagu could not lie.

Sad and angry he laughed maniacally, casting a sharp glance toward Yang Kang. “Xiao Wangye, my nephew deserved to die. It’s good that you killed him, it’s good!” he said. His laughter sent a chill on everybody’s spine; his voice was very mournful, making ears buzzing like innumerable needles were piercing their eardrums at the same time. Everybody was trembling, their teeth chattered. There were thousands of white-head crows on the temple’s pagoda that night; Ouyang Feng’s laughter startled them. ‘Caw! Caw! Caw!’ they were crying noisily and then they flew away loudly flapping their wings.

Yang Kang thought he would not live to see another day; both eyes looking left and right, trying to find a way to escape.

Wanyan Honglie was also secretly frightened. After the crows noise subsided he said, “This girl is insane, Mister Ouyang, how can you believe what she said? Your honorable nephew came by Xiao Wangye’s invitation because Xiao Wang [lit. little king – he was referring to himself] is relying heavily on his assistance. How could Xiao Wangye harm him without any reason?”

Seemingly without making any effort Ouyang Feng stood up, his body glided over and with a slight bend on his knees he landed on Shagu’s side. His left hand grabbed Shagu’s arm. “Why did he kill my nephew? Speak up!” he roared.

Shagu was scared to death. “I didn’t kill him, don’t hurt me! Don’t hurt me!” she cried. She struggled hard, but Ouyang Feng’s grip was like a pair of steel pliers, how could Shagu free herself? The more she struggled, the harder his grip became. Shagu was frightened and cried, “Mama!”

Ouyang Feng repeated his question several times; Shagu became so scared from crying that she did not dare to cry anymore. She only stared at Ouyang Feng’s face with a blank expression.

“Shagu,” Huang Rong soothingly said, “Don’t be afraid, this nice grandpa is going to give you a cake.”

Her words reminded Ouyang Feng. He realized that if he used force, Shagu would not dare to talk; therefore, he groped inside his pocket and produced a dried and already cold steamed bun and held it out to Shagu’s hand. “That’s right! Here, you can eat this cake.”

Shagu grabbed the bun, her fear was gone. “Yeye, you grabbed my arm, it hurt, you must not grab me anymore,” she said. “Good Shagu, you are an obedient child,” Ouyang Feng warmly said, “Yeye won’t grab your arm anymore.”

Huang Rong said, “That day the mister without legs was hugging a lady. Tell me, was she pretty?” Shagu nodded. “Very pretty. I wonder where she is going.”

Huang Rong asked again, “Do you know who she is? You don’t know, do you?”

Shagu’s face lit, she was so proud of herself; she clapped her hands and said, “I know, I know! She is this good brother’s wife!”

Hearing this, any doubt left in Ouyang Feng’s heart was gone. He knew his nephew’s lecherous character; it must be because of Mu Nianci that his nephew met his fate. But, Ouyang Ke’s martial art was higher than Yang Kang’s; even though his legs were injured, Yang Kang was still not his match; he could not figure out how Yang Kang was able to kill him? He turned his head toward Yang Kang and said, “My nephew was oblivious to what’s good and what’s not, he dared to offend the Xiao Wangye’s concubine; he deserved to die ten thousand times.”

“No … No …” Yang Kang stammered. “It wasn’t me …” “Then who?” Ouyang Feng sternly asked.

Yang Kang was so scared that his knees turned into rubber, cold sweats pouring down his forehead; his usual shrewdness was gone, he was unable to utter a single word.

Huang Rong sighed, “Uncle Ouyang, you can’t blame the Xiao Wangye of being heartless, you can’t blame your nephew flirtatious character either, you have only your superb martial art to blame.”

“How so?” Ouyang Feng was puzzled.

Huang Rong answered, “I don’t know why, but in that house at the Ox Village I heard a couple, a man and a woman, were talking. I do not understand what they were discussing.”

Listening to this muddy talk with so many unknown Ouyang Feng was more confounded, “What did they say?” he asked.

Huang Rong answered, “I will repeat what they said word for word, I won’t add or subtract a single word; please Uncle hear me out. I did not see their faces, I don’t know who the man was, I don’t know who the woman was either; what I heard was that man said, ‘If this fact that I killed Ouyang Ke ever leaks out, won’t that be a disaster?’ That woman replied, ‘A real man is not afraid to take responsibility of his action. If you are afraid, you shouldn’t have killed him yesterday. Even though his uncle is very fierce, we can run away to some far away place, he won’t be able to find us.’”

Listening to Huang Rong, Ouyang Feng said, “That woman was right. What did the man say?”

While these two were talking, one asked the questions and the other answered, Yang Kang was getting more and more afraid than ever. The moon cast its light through the temple’s door, throwing a slanting column of light illuminating the face of the temple’s idol. Yang Kang slowly moved away from the light, quietly walked toward Huang Rong’s back. He heard Huang Rong answered Ouyang Feng’s question.

“That man said, ‘Meizi [sister/beloved], I have another thought: his uncle’s martial art is unparalleled, I wanted to take him as my master, I have had this thought for a while, but they followed a very strict rule: they only take one disciple per generation. Now that this man is dead, his uncle might take me as his disciple!”

Huang Rong did not mention anybody’s name, but she had an uncanny ability to imitate Yang Kang’s accent. Yang Kang grew up in the northern area, but Bai Xirou, his mother, was a native of Lin’an in the south; so Yang Kang’s accent was a mixture between northerners and southerners. As soon as Huang Rong said these things, everybody knew it was Yang Kang she was imitating.

Ouyang Feng laughed coldly; he turned his head but did not see Yang Kang.

Suddenly they heard ‘whack!’, then ‘Aiyo!’ Someone was crying in alarm. They saw Yang Kang standing under the moonlight with blood dripping from his right hand, his face was deathly pale.

Turned out that when Yang Kang heard Huang Rong was revealing his secret he could not restrain himself much longer; he leaped ferociously, his claw was aimed toward Huang Rong’s head. As Huang Rong imitated Yang Kang’s accent, she was fully aware he would certainly attack her; therefore, she had guarded against this attack from the start. Her martial art level was higher than Yang Kang’s. As soon as she heard the gust of wind she leaned her head sideways to elude, so the claw fell on her shoulder. Yang Kang had launched the ‘Nine Yin White-bone Claw’ with all his might, his five fingers landed on the soft hedgehog armor Huang Rong was wearing. A shot of pain traveled from his fingers to his brain; he almost pass out.

The others were clueless as whether it was Yang Kang who made the sneak attack, or was it Huang Rong or Ouyang Feng who attacked him. They were all scared of Ouyang Feng, so nobody dared to say anything.

Wanyan Honglie rushed forward, trying to help. “Kang’er, what happened to you? Where does it hurt?” he asked. Casually he took out the dagger on his belt and placed it on Yang Kang’s hand. He realized Ouyang Feng would not have good intention. He was hoping that in a chaotic battle they, father and son, would be able to save their lives.

Enduring his pain Yang Kang said, “I am all right.” He held out his hand to grab the dagger, but his hand was numb, ‘clank!’ the dagger fell on the floor. Hastily he stooped down to pick it up, but strangely his arm was stiff; it did not want to follow his command anymore. He was extremely shocked. He tried to pinch his right arm with his left fingers, but he did not feel anything. He looked up toward Huang Rong and cried out in horror, “Poison! Poison! You used poison to harm me!”

Peng Lianhu and the others knew they were going to offend Ouyang Feng, but Wanyan Honglie was the Great Jin’s prominent Prince; surely this Ouyang Ke affair could be discussed peacefully later. Seeing Yang Kang’s frightened expression, they immediately rushed forward to offer words of sympathy and called out to Huang Rong, “Quickly give the antidote to Xiao Wangye!” but everybody stayed as far as possible from Ouyang Feng.

Huang Rong was indifferent, “Don’t make a fuss; my soft hedgehog armor does not have any poison on it. There is somebody here who wants to kill him, I don’t have to lift a finger to harm him.”

But suddenly Yang Kang shouted, “I … I … I can’t move!” His knees buckled, his body slowly slid down, his mouth was producing a growling noise much like a wild beast.

Huang Rong felt strange and she turned toward Ouyang Feng, but saw that he was carrying a puzzled expression as well. She turned back toward Yang Kang, she saw Yang Kang was strangely happy, a crack of smile appeared on the corners of his mouth. Under the silvery moonlight he looked inhumanly ghastly. Suddenly a thought came into her mind, she said, “It was Uncle Ouyang who poisoned you.”

Ouyang Feng was puzzled, “From the look of him, it was indeed my marvelous snake’s poison. I had wanted him to taste it, this little girl had done it on my behalf. Wonderful! Wonderful! But those snakes, I am the only one in this world who owns them, where did the little girl get it from?”

“Where can I get that kind of snakes?” Huang Rong asked, “This is your own poison, you have unwittingly poison him yourself.” “You are talking weird,” Ouyang Feng said.

“Uncle Ouyang,” Huang Rong said, “I remember your bet against the Old Urchin. You took the poison from your snakes and feed it to a shark. As this shark died of the poison, the second shark ate its flesh and died of the same poison. This way the poison was spreading endlessly. Isn’t that so?”

Ouyang Feng laughed, “If my poison is not extraordinary, won’t my title ‘Western Poison’ be in vain?” “That’s right,” Huang Rong said, “Nan Xiren was the first shark.”

By that time Yang Kang was already rolling around on the ground like a madman. Liang Ziweng wanted to comfort him, but how could he stop him?

Ouyang Feng ignored everything, he knitted his eyebrows trying to understand what Huang Rong was saying, but it was still dark to him. “Please elaborate,” he said.

“Hmm, you used your viper to bite Nan Xiren. That day I came across him on the Peach Blossom Island and he hit me. His fist landed on my left shoulder. The sharp needles of my soft hedgehog armor punctured his hand, so his poisonous blood was transferred to my soft hedgehog armor, which became the second shark. When Xiao Wangye attacked me, heaven’s net tightened, his claw grabbed my shoulder. Nan Xiren’s poisoned blood was transferred once again to him. Hey, hey, he is the third shark.”

Hearing Huang Rong’s explanation everybody realized how deathly Ouyang Feng’s poison was. They also remembered Yang Kang’s treacherous plan in killing the Five Freaks; in the end it was Nan Xiren’s blood which kill him. It was truly a revenge well-deserved. A chill crept into everybody’s back.

Wanyan Honglie walked toward Ouyang Feng, knelt in front of him and asked, “Mr. Ouyang, please help save my son’s life; Xiao Wang will always remember your benevolence.”

Ouyang Feng laughed sinisterly, “Your son’s life is a life indeed, my nephew’s life was not a life!” His gaze swept through Peng Lianhu and the others’ faces and coldly said, “Which hero does not agree with me, please speak up!” Everybody recoiled simultaneously. Who would dare to open his mouth?

Yang Kang suddenly leaped up, ‘bang!’ he hit Liang Ziweng, sending him somersaulted in the air and passed out. Wanyan Honglie stood up, calling, “Quick! Take Xiao Wangye back to Lin’an; we’ll find a good doctor to cure his injury.” Ouyang Feng laughed, “Who in this world can neutralize The Old Poison’s venom? Which doctor won’t want to live and dare to mess up my handiwork?”

Wanyan Honglie ignored him, he shouted toward his martial artists, “What are you waiting for? Quickly take Xiao Wangye away.”

Suddenly Yang Kang jumped high until his head almost hit the beam. He pointed his finger at Wanyan Honglie and he shouted, “You are not my father! You killed my mother, now you kill me!”

Wanyan Honglie stepped back and stumbled down. Sha Tongtian said, “Xiao Wangye, please calm down.” He stepped forward to grab Yang Kang’s arms. Unexpectedly Yang Kang flipped his hand to push away Sha Tongtian’s hand and quickly seized his arm. Yang Kang’s left hand formed a claw scratching Sha Tongtian’s arm.

Sha Tongtian cried in pain, hastily he rolled backward to escape, but a moment later he felt itchiness on his arm. He was terror- stricken!

“This is the fourth shark,” Huang Rong coldly said.

Peng Lianhu and Sha Tongtian were good friends, moreover, Peng Lianhu was also an expert poison user, he knew Sha Tongtian was poisoned and his life was in grave danger. In this critical moment almost without thinking he took the saber from his waist and swiftly chopped Sha Tongtian’s arm halfway down.

Hou Tonghai did not understand Peng Lianhu’s good intention, “Peng Lianhu, you dare to hurt my ‘Shige’? [Elder martial brother]” He charged Peng Lianhu disregarding his own safety.

Sha Tongtian endured the pain and shouted, “Idiot, back-off! Brother Peng was saving my life!”

By this time Yang Kang’s mind was cloudy, he was charging to the east and striking to the west, kicking and biting randomly. Everybody saw what happened to Sha Tongtian, nobody dared to come close to him; shouting and yelling they darted out of the temple.

It was a very chaotic situation; the crows on the pagoda were startled, they flew around in confusion under the moonlight around the temple’s courtyard. Their noisy cries intermingled with Yang Kang’s neighing voice.

As Wanyan Honglie was heading toward the temple door he turned his head one more time and called out, “Kang’er! Kang’er!”

Yang Kang’s eyes were brimming with tears; he also called out, “Fu Wang! Fu Wang! [Father King]” He walked toward Wanyan Honglie.

Wanyan Honglie was delighted, he spread out his arms and hugged Yang Kang tightly, “Child, are you feeling better?”

Under the moonlight Yang Kang’s face suddenly changed; he opened his mouth, revealing two rows of white teeth, ready to bite. Wanyan Honglie was shocked. His left hand pushed out, breaking the hug. Yang Kang’s strength was completely gone; he fell backwards. He struggled hard to crawl back up to no avail.

Wanyan Honglie did not dare to linger much longer, without looking back he hurriedly went out the temple, mounted his horse and ran as fast as he could. The others were close on his heels, and in a short moment the temple was quiet again.

Ouyang Feng and Huang Rong saw Yang Kang was rolling around on the ground, each with his/her own thought, nobody said anything. A moment later Yang Kang’s body curled up and then ceased to move altogether.

“Enough commotion for half a night,” Ouyang Feng coldly said, “It’s almost daybreak; let us go looking for your father.” “Right now my father is on the Peach Blossom Island,” Huang Rong said, “Why do you want to look for him?”

Ouyang Feng was taken aback, “So the little girl was lying all along,” he sneered.

“The first few sentences were indeed to swindle you,” Huang Rong admitted, “What kind of man do you think my father is? How could he let himself surrounded by a bunch of stinky Quanzhen priests? If I did not mention the Nine Yin Manual you wouldn’t let me interrogate Shagu.”

By this time Ke Zhen’E had totally admired Huang Rong, but he was sad and full of regret at the same time. He only hoped she would find a clever trick to escape soon. He heard Ouyang Feng said, “There were three parts truth in your lies, otherwise, the Old Poison wouldn’t be so easily deceived. All right then, recite your father’s translation to me from the beginning to the end, don’t skip even half a word.”

“What if I don’t remember?” Huang Rong asked.

“It will be best if you remember, otherwise the beautiful face of a smart little girl would be bitten by my snakes, now that won’t be fun, will it?” Ouyang Feng threatened.

When Huang Rong jumped out from behind the idol she was ready to die; but seeing Yang Kang’s pitiful death she could not help but feeling frightened. She thought, “Even if I give him Reverend Yideng’s translation he still won’t let me go. Is it so difficult to escape from his grip?” She paced back and forth for a while but still could not think of a good way to escape, so she decided to buy some time and think again later. “If I read the original text I might remember the interpretation. Why don’t you recite it to me, let me try explaining it to you,” she said.

“Who could memorize these mumbo jumbo sentences?” Ouyang Feng said, “You don’t have to confuse me.”

As she heard Ouyang Feng was not able to recite it from memory Huang Rong got a sudden inspiration. After contemplating it back and forth she came to a conclusion, “He can’t memorize it, so he must treat the manual as precious as his life.” She quickly said, “All right then, take out the manual and read it to me.”

Ouyang Feng was determined to hear the explanation; immediately he took an oil-cloth package from his pocket, after opening three layers of cloth he produced Guo Jing’s altered manual from it. Huang Rong was amused, “Jing Gege wrote a whole bunch of nonsense, yet the Old Poison treats it as the most precious object.”

Ouyang Feng lighted a fire and found a half-burned candle from the worship table, with which light he started to read the manual, “Hu bu er, ken xing duo de, si gen liu bu.”

“That means ‘differentiate it well then divide it into twelve air passages’,” Huang Rong said. Ouyang Feng was delighted, “Ji er wen hua si, ha hu,” he read again.

“Capable of healing various illness, gradually entering divine perfection,” Huang Rong said. Ouyang Feng read, “Qu da bie si tu, en ni qu.”

Huang Rong hesitated for a moment, shaking her head she said, “Not right, you did not read correctly.” “No, I read it correctly,” Ouyang Feng said, “That is what was written.”

“That’s strange,” Huang Rong said, “How come it’s so muddled?” Her left hand on her head, she pretended to be thinking hard.

Ouyang Feng was anxious. He stared at her, hoping she would find the answer quickly. A moment later Huang Rong exclaimed, “Ah, I know! It must be that dumb kid Guo Jing writing it wrong. Let me see.”

Ouyang Feng was not afraid Huang Rong would steal it from him, he handed the manual over. Huang Rong held out her right hand to take the manual, while her left hand took the candlestick, pretending to examine the manual closely. Suddenly her feet kicked the ground; she leaped backward for more than a ‘zhang’ [10 feet/3 meter]. She held the manual within half a ‘chi’ [approximately half a foot] to the candle and shouted, “Uncle Ouyang, this manual is fake, I’d better burn it down.”

Ouyang Feng was shocked, hastily said, “Hey, hey, what are you doing? Quickly give that back to me.” Huang Rong smiled, “Do you want the manual, or my life?”

“What do I want your life for? Quickly give that back to me,” Ouyang Feng said. His voice was urgent, unusually anxious. His body leaned forward as if ready to strike anytime.

Huang Rong held the manual two more inches closer to the candle. “Stop! I am going to burn this manual as soon as you move one more step, then you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.”

Ouyang Feng silently agreed with what she said. “Humph, you win,” he said, “Put that manual down and go before I change my mind!”

“You are a grand master of your school, you must not go back on your own words,” Huang Rong said. Ouyang Feng calmly said, “I said just put the manual down and you can go.”

Huang Rong knew that he was a proud man; although he was evil and cruel he had never broken his promise to anybody, so she put the manual along with the candle on the ground and smiled, “Uncle Ouyang, please excuse me.” Carrying her dog-beating stick she turned around and walked away.

Contrary to what she was expecting, Ouyang Feng did not even look at her. He jumped back and with a loud ‘bang!’ he smashed the Wang Yanzhang idol with the back of his hand, the idol broke halfway down. “Blind man Ke, roll out!” he shouted.

Huang Rong was startled; she turned her head only to see Ke Zhen’E had jumped out from behind the idol, brandishing his iron spear in front of his body. Huang Rong immediately realized her misjudgment, “With the Old Poison’s ability how could he not know Master Ke was hiding behind the idol? He must’ve heard his breathing early on, only he waited patiently for a good opportunity to expose him.” She dashed forward quickly, standing in front of Ke Zhen’E with the bamboo stick in front of her body.

“Uncle Ouyang, I am not going, you let him go,” said Huang Rong.

“No, Rong’er, you go” Ke Zhen’E said, “Go find Jing’er, tell him to avenge our six lives.”

Huang Rong mournfully answered, “If he is ever going to believe what I say, he would have already believed what I said. Master Ke, if you don’t go, my father and I will have a hard time proving our innocence. Tell Guo Jing that I don’t blame him, tell him not to feel bad.” But how could Ke Zhen’E let her embrace danger to save his own life? Two people were bickering incessantly.

Ouyang Feng became impatient, “Little girl, I let you go, you don’t want to go. What are you waiting for?”

“I’d love to stay,” Huang Rong said, “Uncle Ouyang, get this blind man out of here, I will accompany you chit-chatting, just don’t hurt him.”

Ouyang Feng thought, “You want to stay, that was what I want. Whether this blind man lives or dies, what does it have anything to do with me?” With big strides he went forward, holding out his hand to grab Ke Zhen’E on his chest.

Ke Zhen’E moved his spear to attack the incoming hand. Ouyang Feng raised his arm a little bit and Ke Zhen’E’s arms were numb, he felt pressure on his chest. ‘Clank!’ his spear flew upward, made a hole on the ceiling and landed on the temple’s roof.

Ke Zhen’E hastily leaped backward, but before his feet landed on the floor he felt his collar was pulled, his body was hung in front of Ouyang Feng. His battle experience was vast; in this dangerous moment he did not get nervous. His left hand moved slightly and two ‘du ling’ [poisonous water chestnut] flew toward the enemy’s face.

Ouyang Feng did not anticipate that in the face of danger Ke Zhen’E was still able to attack. They were very close to each other, the incoming attack was strong, it was difficult to parry; Ouyang Feng bent his body backward but his hand did not let Ke Zhen’E go, Ke Zhen’E was thrown across the top of his head.

When he jumped out from behind the idol Ke Zhen’E was facing the temple’s door, so Ouyang Feng’s throw made him fly out of the door. Because Ouyang Feng’s force was so strong, Ke Zhen’E’s body was actually flying faster than his own ‘du ling’. The ‘du ling’ missed Ouyang Feng’s head and flew straight toward Ke Zhen’E’s body.

“Aiyo!” Huang Rong cried out. But she saw that while he was airborne Ke Zhen’E was able to turn his body slightly, stretched out his right hand and deftly caught his own two ‘du ling’s. His ability to hear and differentiate secret-projectiles wind had been trained to near perfection; his ears could hear as clearly as other people could see.

“You are good!” Ouyang Feng exclaimed, “Blind man Ke, I’ll let you go.”

Ke Zhen’E landed on his feet, he was reluctant to go. Huang Rong laughed, “Master Ke, Ouyang Feng wanted to be my disciple; he wants to learn the Nine Yin Manual from me. You still want to stay; do you also want to be my disciple?”

Ke Zhen’E knew that although Huang Rong talked jokingly, but her situation was extremely precarious. He stood on the temple courtyard, but was hesitant to go.

Ouyang Feng looked up to the sky and said, “It’s daybreak. Let’s go!” Pulling Huang Rong’s hand they walked out the temple’s door.

“Master Ke, remember the letter I wrote on your palm,” Huang Rong called out. They moved really fast, Huang Rong’s last few words were heard from several ‘zhang’s away.

Ke Zhen’E stayed motionless for a long time. He heard flock upon flock of crows that came into the temple to feast on the corpse, so he leaped onto the roof to find his spear pole. Leaning against his pole on the roof again he stayed motionless for a while, thinking the heaven and earth are boundless, but what kind of place could a blind man like him call home? Then he heard the crows cried mournfully and they dropped to the ground one by one. Turned out those crows were feasting on Yang Kang’s corpse and they were poisoned one after another. Ke Zhen’E could not help but heaving a long sighed. He jumped back down to the ground, wielding his spear he walked to the north.

On the third day suddenly he heard eagle cry high up in the sky. He thought that if the birds were close by, then Guo Jing must not be very far; therefore, he raised his voice and shouted in the middle of the wilderness, “Jing’er, Jing’er!”

Not too long afterwards he heard hoof beats; it was indeed Guo Jing riding the little red horse coming toward him. He was separated from Ke Zhen’E in the chaotic battle the other night; this time he saw his master was well his joy was unspeakable. He did not even wait for the horse to stop; he jumped from the horseback and rushed to embrace his master, calling loudly, “Da Shifu!”

Unexpectedly Ke Zhen’E slapped him left and right until his ears were red. Guo Jing was stunned, but did not dare to fend off. He let his master off his embrace. Ke Zhen’E continued to slap Guo Jing with his left hand, while his right hand slapped his own face until his own ears were red.

Guo Jing was confounded, “Da Shifu, what happened to you?”

Ke Zhen’E viciously scolded, “You are the little muddle-head; I am the old muddle-head.”

Dozens or so slaps later he calmed down and stopped. Both men’s faces were red and swollen. Ke Zhen’E kept cursing Guo Jing and himself for half a day before finally he narrated everything that had happened in the temple.

Guo Jing was surprised yet happy, sorrowful yet ashamed, “So that’s what actually happened. I had wrongly accused Rong’er,” he thought.

“Tell me, don’t we deserve to die?” Ke Zhen’E shouted. Guo Jing agreed, he also said, “Disciple deserves to die; Da Shifu’s eyes are not perfect, you cannot be blamed.”

Ke Zhen’E was angry, “Damn it! My eyes are blind, is my heart also blind?”

Guo Jing tried to divert his attention, “We must quickly think of something to rescue Rong’er.” “What about her father?” Ke Zhen’E asked.

“Huang Daozhu [Island Master Huang] had taken Hong Enshi [Benevolent Master Hong] to recuperate on the Peach Blossom Island,” Guo Jing answered, “Da Shifu, where do you think Ouyang Feng is taking Rong’er?”

Ke Zhen’E pondered for a moment, then said, “Rong’er is in his hands, even if she did not die, I don’t know what kind of tortures she would be subjected to. Jing’er, you quickly rescue her, I am going to kill myself to thank her.”

“No!” Guo Jing cried out in alarm, “Don’t even think of doing such thing.” However, he knew his first master’s stubbornness very well, he would not listen to other people; once he said he would die, he was not going to back off; therefore, Guo Jing quickly said, “Da Shifu, you’d better go to the Peach Blossom Island to ask Huang Daozhu to lend us a hand. In all honesty, I am not Ouyang Feng’s match.”

Ke Zhen’E thought it was not a bad idea, so he picked his spear and left. Guo Jing was reluctant to part with his first master, he followed him behind. Ke Zhen’E knew he was being followed, he swung his spear backward and scolded, “You are still not going? If you don’t rescue my beloved Rong’er, I am going to take your little life!”

Guo Jing had no choice but stopped, his gaze followed his master until he disappeared beyond the mulberry grove toward the east. He had no idea where to start looking for Huang Rong. After thinking hard for quite a while he took his horse and pair of eagles and walked back to the Temple of the Iron Spear.

Around the temple he saw countless dead crows; on the courtyard he saw a pile of human remains. Guo Jing hated Yang Kang for killing his masters, but thought that Yang Kang was already dead, so he was willing to write-off that debt; moreover, he was his sworn brother. Guo Jing picked the remains and buried Yang Kang on the temple’s courtyard. He bowed in respect in front of the grave and said, “Brother Yang, if you know how I buried your remains today, you have to bless me in finding Rong’er; that way you can make up for your crimes during your lifetime.” Afterward Guo Jing started to make inquiries everywhere, trying to track Huang Rong’s trail.

Half a year had passed, autumn turned into winter, then winter turned into spring. Guo Jing, accompanied by his red horse and a pair of eagles have looked everywhere; he asked the Beggar Clan, went to the Quanzhen Sect, and inquired all Wulin characters he knew, yet nobody heard even a little bit of news about Huang Rong. He was miserable. He imagined how much suffering Huang Rong had to endure this past half a year; it was like a knife was piercing his heart. He was determined to find her, even to the end of the earth.

He had been to Yanjing, twice he had tried to find Wanyan Honglie at Bianliang, yet Wanyan Honglie also disappeared without a trace. The Beggar Clan members all over the country had tried to find their Bangzhu [Clan Leader], but still there were no words about Huang Rong. Guo Jing also stopped by the Cloud Village, but the village was burned to the ground. He did not know what kind of disaster Lu Chengfeng and Lu Guanying had encountered.

One day he arrived within the Shandong border. Nine out of ten houses he saw along the way were deserted; he barely saw other people walking around. He heard that the Mongolians and the Jins were fighting each other in that area. The Jins were defeated and while retreating they stopped at nothing; raping and plundering the people along their way.

Guo Jing walked for three more days heading north. The further he went, the more devastation he witnessed. His heart was embittered looking at the suffering of the common people as the result of war.

That day he arrived at a small village by a river bank in a valley; he was going to stop by for food and water for him as well as his horse, when suddenly he heard a commotion just ahead of him. People were screaming and horses were neighing in panic; dozens of Jin soldiers had entered the village. They set the village on fire, forcing the people to go out of their houses. If there was a young girl in the house, the soldiers would seize her and bind her with ropes. The rest of the people, young and old alike, were killed right there and then.

Guo Jing was seething with anger; he charged his horse toward the leader of this pack, snatching his spear; the back of Guo Jing’s left hand smacked his ‘tai yang’ [sun] acupoint. By that time Guo Jing had already reached high level in term of martial art skill; his strength was profound. With just one hit that officer’s eyes came out of their sockets and he died instantly.

The rest of the soldiers were shouting and yelling; sabers and spears attacked simultaneously. The little red horse was not afraid of battle; it dashed forward carrying Guo Jing on its back. Guo Jing snatched a saber with his left hand, and using the mutual hands combat technique he thrust the spear in his right hand and hacked the saber in his left, attacking the soldiers left and right.

As soon as the Jin soldiers saw this person’s fierceness, they lost their will to fight; they turned around and fled from the village. But suddenly a big banner appeared amidst the smoke; a squad of Mongolian soldiers had arrived. The Jin soldiers who had been defeated earlier did not dare to fight the Mongolian troops head-on so they turned back to the village, hoping they would be able to slip by Guo Jing relying on sheer numbers.

Guo Jing hated the Jin soldiers for cruelly abusing the people; he charged his horse toward the village entrance and single-handedly defending it against the intruders. About a dozen or so soldiers courageously attacked him; Guo Jing killed them all. The rest of the soldiers did not dare to attack but they could not go back either; they ran around in confusion, screaming in fear.

The Mongolian soldiers saw ahead of them somebody was helping them; they charged the rest of the Jin soldiers and killed them all. The ‘bai fu zhang’ [leader of a 100 men unit] was about to inquire Guo Jing’s background when suddenly one the Mongolian solider recognized him. That soldier shouted, “Jin dao fu ma! [the golden-blade consort]” and immediately kneeled on the ground.

The ‘bai fu zhang’ heard Guo Jing was their Great Khan’s son-in-law, he did not dare to be impolite; hastily he dismounted his horse and also kneeled on the ground while dispatching a courier to quickly inform their commander-in-chief.

The villagers, young and old, were coming out of their hiding places to thank Guo Jing when suddenly from outside the village came a loud thundering noise of cavalry’s hoof beats. The people were frightened; they looked at each other in blank dismay.

A bay horse with a black mane came fast, a young general shouted, “Where is Guo Jing Anda [Mongolian term for sworn brother]?”

Guo Jing saw it was Tuolei, he was delighted. “Tuolei Anda,” he answered. They rushed forward and hugged each other. The pair of eagles recognized Tuolei, they flew down and lovingly rubbed their necks to him.

Tuolei ordered a ‘qian fu zhang’ [leader of a 1000-men unit] to pursue the Jin soldiers, while the rest of his troops pitched their tents right there on the hillside; then he told Guo Jing everything that had happened since the last time they parted.

Tuolei told the war affair of the northern countries; only then did Guo Jing find out that within the last few years Genghis Khan attacked to the east and sent expedition to the west, expanded his territory. Jochi, Chagatai, Ogedei and Tuolei, four princes; plus Mukhali, Borchu, Boroul and Chilaun, the Great Khan’s four heroes, his right-hand men, all had established many distinguished services.

Presently Tuolei and Mukhali were leading their troops to attack the Jin toward the east; they had fought several battles and utterly routed Jin’s army. The Jins ran to the fortified city of Tongguan; did not dare to come out to Shandong to fight.

Guo Jing stayed with Tuolei’s troops for several days. A fast dispatch came one day; Genghis Khan ordered all princes and generals to go back north for a general assembly. Tuolei and Mukhali did not dare to linger much longer, they assigned their second-in-commands to lead the troops and that very same night they rode north. Guo Jing missed his mother, so he came along with Tuolei to the north.

In less than a day they had arrived at the bank of River Onon. As far as eyes could see, the vast prairies were full of tents, tens of thousands of warhorses running around and neighing, tens of thousands spearheads gleaming brilliantly under the bright sun light. In the middle of countless gray tents towered a big yellow silk tent. The tent ornaments were made of cast gold; above it fluttered nine big banners.

Guo Jing’s horse stood on the river bank as he watched this awe-inspiring military prowess. He thought about how the great power in this Golden Tent had shaken the desert, wiping out the other rulers of the area. He imagined how Genghis Khan would issue his commands from the Golden Tent; then fast horses would be dispatched to deliver the orders to the tens of thousands soldiers under the princes and the generals. The bugles would sound and the beacons on the prairie would be lighted, their fires reaching the sky. Arrows would fill the sky like a swarm of locusts, spears and blades would flash, horses and infantrymen would march amidst the dust rising to the sky.

Guo Jing thought, “The Great Khan wants to amass this much land, I wonder what he wants to do with it?” Suddenly he saw the dust rise and a group of cavalry came to welcome them. Three people, Tuolei, Mukhali and Guo Jing entered the Golden Tent to see the Great Khan. To his surprise he saw all the princes and the generals were already sitting on either side of the tent.

Genghis Khan was overjoyed to see these three people. Tuolei and Mukhali immediately reported the military situation. Guo Jing stepped forward and kneeled, saying, “The Great Khan has assigned me to sever the Jin prince, Wanyan Honglie’s head. I met him several times, yet every time he was able to escape. I am ready to accept The Great Khan’s punishment.”

Genghis Khan laughed, he said, “When the young eagle grows up, there will come a day when it will catch the fox. Why would I want to punish you? You arrived just in time; I often thought about you.”

The assembly then proceeded by discussing military plans to destroy the Jins. Mukhali proposed that since the Jins occupied the fortified city of Tongguan, it would be difficult to attack; the best plan would be forming an alliance with the Southern Song and execute a converging attack.

“Good! Let us do it then,” Genghis Khan said. Immediately he assigned his secretary to write the letter and sent an envoy to go south. The general assembly convened until dusk that day.

Guo Jing left the Golden Tent, under the darkened sky he walked to his mother’s tent. Suddenly a pair of hands appeared from behind, about to cover his eyes. With his current martial art skill how could he let anybody launched a sneak attack? He leaned sideways and was going to push that person away when suddenly his nostrils caught a whiff of perfume, then he saw it was a girl. Quickly he pulled back his hand and called out, “Sister Huazheng!” It was indeed Princess Huazheng standing in the dark with smile all over her face.

They have not seen each other for several years. This time they met again, Guo Jing saw she was growing taller. She just stood there among the tall grass, her skin jade-white; she looked beautiful yet valiant. Guo Jing called again, “’Meizi! [Younger Sister, used in a more intimate way]” Huazheng was extremely happy that tears flowed down her cheeks, “You really came back!”

Guo Jing was touched by the sincere expression of her feeling. Thousands of words were dancing around his mind, but he did not know where to start.

After a few minutes of silence Huazheng said, “Go see your mother. You came back alive, guess who will be happier, your mother or I?”

“My mother will be very happy, I am sure,” Guo Jing said. Huazheng pouted, “Do you think I am not happy?”

The Mongolians were more frank, they would say what they think. Guo Jing had lived among the southerners for quite some time; unconsciously he had been influenced by the way the southerners talked. Now he went back to his childhood home and heard Huazheng talked in a friendly manner, a warm feeling filled his heart. Two people walked hand in hand toward Li Ping’s tent. Mother and son met and there were more tears of happiness.

Several days later Genghis Khan summoned Guo Jing, “I have heard your conducts and deeds from Tuolei. You keep your words and have an upright heart, I like that very much. Just wait several more days, I am going to give you my daughter’s hand in marriage.”

Guo Jing was startled, he thought, “Right now I don’t even know if Rong’er is dead or alive. How can I marry someone else?” Seeing Genghis Khan’s imposing appearance, although he wanted to disobey, he stammered and nothing intelligible came out of his mouth. Genghis Khan misunderstood his behavior; he thought Guo Jing was ecstatic that he turned silly. Immediately Genghis Khan prepared a dowry for Guo Jing: one thousand maidservants, one hundred catties of gold, five hundred cows, two thousand sheep, plus he was told to prepare his own wedding and take anything he needed from Khan’s treasury.

Huazheng was Genghis Khan’s only daughter from his first wife; she was her father’s beloved since she was very little. By that time Genghis Khan’s power had already spread throughout the Mongolian desert, he had subdued many other Khans; who, upon hearing their Great Khan was going to give his daughter’s hand in marriage, immediately sent precious gifts in abundance. Not too long afterwards, more than a dozen big tents were needed to store all the gifts.

Princess Huazheng was so happy that she could not erase the smile from her face; Guo Jing, on the other hand, looked so haggard, his mind was filled with anxiety. He was often caught looking blankly to a far away place with a dejected look on his face.

Li Ping noticed her son’s countenance was unusual, one evening she asked Guo Jing point blankly inside their tent. Guo Jing recounted everything about Huang Rong, from the day they met until they parted a few months ago. Li Ping listened attentively; she was silent for half a day.

“Ma [Mother],” Guo Jing asked, “Your son is in a difficult situation, I don’t know how to manage this.”

“Great Khan has shown profound kindness to us, how can we forget it?” Li Ping answered, “But that Rong’er, that Rong’er, ay! Even though I have never met her, I believe she is an adorable girl.”

“Ma,” Guo Jing suddenly said, “If Father were in this situation, how would he act?”

This question was unexpected to Li Ping; she was silent for half a day; remembering her late husband’s personality; and then with conviction in her voice said, “Your father would rather suffer a hardship than offending other people.”

Guo Jing stood up, with a quivering voice he said, “Even though this son of yours has never seen his father, I should follow my father’s footsteps. If Rong’er is safe, your son will honor my promise to marry Princess Huazheng; but if Rong’er faced calamity, your son will not marry for as long as I live.”

Li Ping thought, “That is a proper thing to do, but how can I let you be the last descendant of the Guo family? Nevertheless, this child is the same as his father, both were stubborn. Once they made a decision what other people say would be useless.” Thereupon she asked, “How are you going to report to the Great Khan?”

“I will tell the Great Khan the truth,” Guo Jing answered.

Li Ping was willing to support her son’s intention. “Good,” she said, “We can’t put this off much longer. Go ahead and say thank you to the Great Khan, we, mother and son, will leave for the south even today.” Guo Jing nodded his approval.

That very same evening mother and son prepared their bags. Other than a few changes of clothes and some silvers, they left the Great Khan’s gifts in the tent.

As soon as they were finished Guo Jing said, “I am going to take my leave from the Princess.”

Li Ping hesitated, “How can you tell her? We’d better leave quietly, spare her the heartache,” she said. “No,” Guo Jing said, “I will personally tell her.” Leaving his tent, he walked towards Huazheng’s tent.

Huazheng and her mother lived in a big tent; they were busy discussing the wedding preparation. Suddenly Huazheng heard Guo Jing’s voice calling her from outside the tent. She was blushing, “Ma!” she said. Her mother smiled, “You are going to get married in a few days, yet you cannot bear not to see each other for just a day. All right, you may go.”

Huazheng smiled and walked out the tent. “Guo Jing Gege [big brother],” she called.

“Meizi [younger sister], I have something I need to tell you,” Guo Jing said. He led her walking to the west. Two people walked several li’s into the prairie, far from the big camp, and sat side by side on the grass.

Huazheng leaned against Guo Jing’s body. Lowering her head she said, “Jing Gege, I also have something I want to tell you.”

Guo Jing was slightly startled, “Ah! So you know already?” he said. He thought it would be better for her to find out, since he did not know where to start.

“Know what?” Huazheng was confused, “I wanted to tell you that I am not the Great Khan’s daughter.” “What?” Guo Jing was surprised.

Huazheng lifted up her eyes toward the crescent moon on the horizon, she slowly said, “After I am married to you, I will forget that I am the Great Khan’s daughter, I am only Guo Jing’s wife. If you want to beat me or scold me, go ahead and do it. Don’t think that because my father is the Great Khan you have to submit to me.”

Guo Jing felt a mixture of bitter-sweet and warm and fuzzy feeling in his heart, he said, “Meizi, you treated me very well. It’s a pity I don’t deserve to have you.”

“What do you mean you don’t deserve me?” Huazheng countered, “You are the kindest man in the world, except for my father, nobody is better than you. Even my four elder brothers don’t hold a candle compared to you.”

Guo Jing was silent for a long time; he was going to leave Mongolia for the south early in the morning the next day, yet he did not know how to tell her.

Huazheng continued, “These past several days I have been so happy. I remember that time when I heard you had died I was going to die with you. Lucky for me Brother Tuolei snatched the dagger from my hand; otherwise how can I marry you now? Guo Jing Gege, I’d rather die than not being your wife.”

Guo Jing silently thought, “Rong’er won’t talk to me like this; but both of them are very kind to me.” Thinking about Huang Rong he could not help letting out a long sigh.

“Uh, why did you sigh?” Huazheng wondered. “It was nothing,” Guo Jing reluctantly said.

Huazheng said, “Hmm, my first brother and second brother didn’t like you, but my third brother and fourth brother are very fond of you. I have told my father frankly that the first brother and second brother are not good, third brother and fourth brother are good, so you don’t have to worry.”

“Why would I worry?” Guo Jing wondered.

Huazheng was very proud of herself, “I heard mother said that since Father is getting older, he wants to appoint the Khan’s Crown Prince. Can you guess who will be chosen?”

“Naturally your first brother, Jochi. Not only he is the oldest, but has rendered most service as well,” Guo Jing said. Huazheng shook her head, “My guess is not the first brother, most likely the third brother, or even the fourth brother.”

Guo Jing knew Genghis Khan’s eldest son Jochi was smart and very competent; the second son, Chagatai was brave and a good strategist. These two men did not bow to each other, their competition was most ardent. The third son Ogedei loved to drink and to hunt; generosity was one of his traits. He realized that after his father passed away, the successor would be either his first or second brother. But among the four princes of the Khan, actually Tuolei was his father’s favorite. He realized he had no chance to become the next Khan; therefore, he had never fought over the position of the crown prince. He was in good terms with all of his three brothers.

Guo Jing was not convinced by Huazheng’s explanation, “Would the Great Khan appoint the Khan’s Crown Prince based on what you said?” he asked.

“I am not sure about that either,” Huazheng said, “That was my blind guess. But even if the first brother or the second brother becomes the next Khan, you don’t have to worry either. If they make things difficult for you, I will fight them to the death.” Huazheng was Genghis Khan’s beloved daughter; 30% of the time her four elder brothers yielded to her.

Guo Jing knew she would do what she said; he slightly smile and said, “You don’t have to do that.” “Why not?” Huazheng said, “If my brothers don’t treat us nicely, we can go together to the south.” “That’s what I was going to say,” Guo Jing blurted, “I must go back to the south.” Huazheng was silent for a moment, “I am afraid mother and father won’t let me go,” she said.

“It’s only me …” Guo Jing started to say, but Huazheng cut him off, “Hmm, I will always listen to you. If you say we are going south, I am coming with you. If mother and father won’t give their permission, we’ll elope.”

Guo Jing could not hold himself much longer, he jumped and stood up, “It’s only two people, me and my mother who are going back south,” he said. Having said this, one was standing up, the other was sitting down, four eyes looked at each other, both stayed still like a pair or statues.

Huazheng’s face showed confusion and despair, she did not understand what he was saying. “Meizi,” Guo Jing broke the silence, “Please forgive me! I can’t marry you.”

“Why? What did I do wrong? You are blaming me for not killing myself, are you not?” Huazheng was confused.

Guo Jing almost shouted, “NO! No! It’s not your fault. I don’t know whose fault it is; I have thought back and forth, and if I should blame anybody, it should be me.”

Henceforth he started telling Huazheng everything about Huang Rong. When he got to the part on how Huang Rong was currently held captive by Ouyang Feng, and that he had searched high and low for half a year without finding any trace of her; Huazheng could feel the excitement in his voice, she was unable to hold her tears from falling down.

Finally Guo Jing said, “Meizi, please just forget me, I must go and look for her.” “After you found her, would you come back here looking for me?” Huazheng asked.

“If she is safe and well, I will certainly go back north,” Guo Jing promised, “At that time, if you did not shut me off and still want me, I will marry you. I definitely won’t regret it.”

Huazheng slowly said, “You don’t have to say that. You know I will always want you to marry me. Go and find her, whether it will be ten years, twenty years, as long as I am still alive, I am going to wait for you in this grassland.”

Guo Jing was excited, “Yes,” he exclaimed, “Ten years, twenty years, I am going to look for her. Ten years, twenty years, I will also remember that you are waiting for me in this grassland.”

Huazheng sprang up and threw herself into his bosom, weeping uncontrollably. Guo Jing embraced her gently, his eyes were turning red. Two people hugged each other without saying anything. Things had come this far, they knew if they say another word they would only grieve the other.

After a long time, they saw four riders from the west came rushing by; they swept pass by Guo Jing and Huazheng’s side, went directly to the Golden Tent. They were still about dozens of ‘zhang’s away from the Golden Tent when suddenly one of the horses fell down and was unable to stand again; it was obvious that this horse was very tired, it dropped dead right then and there. The rider stood up and without casting a single glance toward his dead horse he dashed wildly into the Golden Tent.

A short moment later ten men with horns in their hand rushed out of the Golden Tent; they faced four directions and blow their horns, “Whooo! Whooo! Whooo!”

Guo Jing knew it was Genghis Khan’s most urgent call, whether it was his own son or his beloved general, if anybody did not show up by the time the Great Khan had bent all his ten fingers, he would be beheaded immediately, no question asked.

“The Great Khan summons us!” Guo Jing shouted. Without saying anything to Huazheng he used his lightness kungfu and flew toward the Golden Tent. He heard hoof beats coming urgently from all directions.

When Guo Jing arrived at the tent, Genghis Khan had only bent three fingers; and when he had bent eight fingers all the princes and senior generals were fully assembled. Genghis Khan loudly roared, “Does that dog king Muhammad have quicker princes? Does he have such gallant generals?”

“NO!” the assembly answered in unison.

Genghis Khan beat his chest and shouted, “Look! These are my special envoys to Khoresm; see how did that dog king Muhammad treat my loyal servants?” Every eye followed the Great Khan’s finger. They saw several Mongolians with their faces swollen black and blue; their beards completely burnt. Beards were the Mongolian warriors’ sign of dignity; it was considered a great insult just to bump into it, how much more insulting was it to burn it completely? As soon as the assembly saw this, everyone exploded in angry roars.

Genghis Khan said, “Khoresm is a big country with a strong army, but are we afraid of them? Because we have been concentrating our effort to battle the Jins, we were very lenient to them. Jochi my son, tell everybody how we should deal with that dog king Muhammad.”

Jochi stepped forward and said with a loud voice, “That year Father King sent your son to attack the deserved-to-die Mergid people. Your son returned triumphantly. That dog king Muhammad also sent a big army to attack the Mergids. Two armies met. Your son sent a good-will envoy, saying that Father King sincerely wished to be friend with the Khoresm. That red-bearded dog king actually said, ‘Genghis Khan did not order you to attack me, but Allah had sent me to attack you.’ As a result we were engaged in a fierce battle. We had gained the upper hand, but because the enemy was ten-times our number, we quietly withdrew the troops at midnight.” Boroul suddenly said, “For all that the Great Khan still showed respect towards this dog king. We sent a trade caravan, but the cargo was robbed by that dog king, while our merchants were killed. This time we sent ambassadors of goodwill, that dog king has listened to that Jin dog prince Wanyan Honglie’s instigation; he killed half of the Great Khan’s messengers, while burning the other half’s beards and sent them back home.”

Hearing the name Wanyan Honglie, Guo Jing’s heart turned cold, “Is Wanyan Honglie at the Khoresm?” he asked.

One of the burnt messengers answered, “I recognized him. He sat by that dog king’s side, constantly talking in low voice with that dog king.”

Genghis Khan called out, “The Jin dog has joined forces with Khoresm, they are going to press us from both sides, are we afraid of them?”

The assembly answered with one voice, “Our Great Khan is peerless in the world. You order us to attack the Khoresm, we will crush their cities, burn down their buildings, kill their men off, taking captive of their women and livestock!”

Genghis Khan shouted, “We must capture Muhammad! We must capture Wanyan Honglie!” The assembly answered his cry with a cheering so loud that the candle lights inside the tent swayed. Genghis Khan took his saber out and swung it in front of him. He rushed outside the tent, leaped onto his horseback. The assembly followed him out of the tent and mounted their horses.

Genghis Khan rode his horse several ‘li’s into the prairie until he arrived at a small hill. The assembly knew he wanted to be left alone to think, so they did not go up the hill, but formed a ring surrounding the small hill. Genghis Khan saw Guo Jing was standing not too far from him, he called, “Son, come here.” Guo Jing galloped his horse uphill.

Genghis Khan swept his gaze on the prairie, where the light from his army camp flickered like stars scattered throughout the vast grassland. He raised his whip and said, “Son, that day we were surrounded by Sangum and Jamukha on the mountain, I had said something to you. Do you remember what I said?”

“I remember,” Guo Jing answered, “The Great Khan said that we the Mongolians have many valiant men. As long as we do not fight our own people and join our forces, we will be able to call the world our grazing land.”

‘Crack!’ Genghis Khan twirled his horse whip into the air, he called out, “That’s right! Now the Mongolians have joined forces, let us go and capture that Wanyan Honglie.”

Guo Jing had decided to go back south with his mother the next day, suddenly this matter arose, how could he forget to avenge his father’s death? Moreover, his mother and he have received Khan’s generosity. The opportunity had presented itself for him to repay this debt of gratitude; so he called out, “This time we will surely capture that scoundrel Wanyan Honglie.”

“Rumor has it that the Khoresm army is one million men strong, but I estimate their number to be close to six, seven hundred thousands,” Genghis Khan said, “We only have two-hundred thousand men, but we have to spare several thousands men to fight the Jin dogs. A hundred and fifty thousands against seven hundreds, what would you say? Will we win?”

Guo Jing was completely oblivious of battle strategy, but he was not a coward. Hearing the Great Khan so inquired, he boldly said, “We will win!”

“Of course we will win,” Genghis Khan said, “That day I said I will treat you as my own son. Once Temujin says something, he won’t forget it. You come with me on this expedition to the west; once we have captured Muhammad and Wanyan Honglie, we will go back home and consummate your marriage with my daughter.” This was precisely what he was hoping for, so Guo Jing agreed immediately.

Genghis Khan rode his horse descending that hill, “Summon the soldiers!” he gave his command. Immediately his personal guard sounded the bugle while Genghis Khan speedily went back to his camp.

Along the way men were seen moving around like shadows and horses were galloping back and forth but not a single voice was heard; a sign of a highly disciplined army. Before the Khan even arrived at the Golden Tent, his thirty thousand soldiers had already neatly arranged on the prairie. The bright moonlight shone on row upon row of spears and blade, making the prairie glittered with silvery gleams.

Genghis Khan entered the Golden Tent and called his secretary, assigning him to write a war declaration. The secretary immediately composed a lengthy letter on a sheet or parchment; then he knelt down in front of the Great Khan to read his letter: “The Heaven has appointed me as the Great Khan over many nations, enlarged my territory by tens of thousands ‘li’s, helped me to crush countless countries. From the ancient of days there is no one who can be called my equal. Once my thunder strikes, how can you resist? Your country’s existence until today depends on three things: unless you send a tribute, the great Mongolian army will …”

The more Genghis Khan heard, the angrier he became; he kicked that white-bearded secretary upside down and cursed him, “Who are you writing to? Why would Genghis Khan used such flowery words toward a dog king?” Raising his horse whip he struck the secretary’s face several times, and then called out, “Listen to me, what I say, you write down.”

That secretary gingerly crawled back up, he took a fresh parchment and knelt on the floor, looking intently to the Great Khan’s lips.

Genghis Khan walked to the tent entrance and opened up the curtain, looking toward his thirty-thousand strong cavalry. With a low and calm voice he said, “Write it this way, only six characters.” He paused for a moment then shouted, “If you want to fight, then fight!” [ni yao zhan, bian zou zhan – 6 characters]

The secretary was stunned, thinking this kind of official document was so scandalously unusual, but his face was still burning from the whip earlier, how could he dare to object? He wrote those six characters in large letters immediately.

“Put my gold seal on it and send it by the fastest horse,” Genghis Khan commanded. Mukhali put the seal on the letter and dispatch a ‘qian fu zhang’ [leader of a 1000 men unit] with his troops to deliver the letter.

The rest of the assembly learned about the Great Khan’s letter, which only had six characters on it, their spirit rose. They heard the hoof beats of the messengers gradually disappear into the prairie, suddenly as if by prior agreement they shouted in one voice, “If you want to fight, then fight!” While outside, the thirty-thousand soldiers cheered, “He hu! He hu! [lit. ‘hey! (or ‘I say!) Shout!’] It was the Mongolian cavalry’s battle cry. As the horses heard their masters shout they neighed loudly while lifting up their front legs. The noise on the prairie that night was deafening, as if they were in an actual battle.

Genghis Khan dismissed his army then he sat alone in his Golden Tent, deep in thought. The chair he was sitting on was taken from the Jins; a dragon snatching a giant pearl was carved on its back, while a pair of ferocious tiger heads was carved on its two armrests. It was the throne that belonged to the Jin emperor.

Genghis Khan reminisced his own youth, which was full of sufferings and difficult times; he recalled his own mother, his wife, his four sons and a beloved daughter; he also remembered his beautiful concubines, his ever-victorious army, his vast and boundless empire; at last he thought about the upcoming war against a powerful enemy.

Although he was getting old his hearing was as keen as when he was young; he heard a distant mournful cry of a warhorse, then the cry stopped abruptly. He understood it was an old horse with an incurable disease; its master could not bear to see it suffer, so he must have killed the horse. Suddenly he remembered, “I am also getting old, this time I am going to war, will I go back home alive? If I lose my life in the battlefield, my four sons will fight over the Great Khan position; it definitely will be a devastating fight. Ay, I wish I can live forever and not see death.”

Even if one was an invincible, fearless warrior; once one’s strength gradually faded, one’s mind would involuntarily think about ‘death’. He could not help but feeling trepidation; his heart trembled with fear.

“I heard in the south there exists a class of people called ‘Taoist Priests’ who can teach people how to become deity who will never grow old and never see death. I wonder if it is true?” he mused. Clapping his hands twice he called a guard to summon Guo Jing into the tent.

As soon as Guo Jing arrived Genghis Khan asked him about this matter. “I don’t know about becoming immortal deity, but there indeed some people who can teach you how to meditate, to do breathing exercise, circulating your energy; in the end, it will prolong your life,” Guo Jing answered.

Genghis Khan was delighted, “Do you know such person? Quickly go and find one to see me,” he said. “This kind of people won’t come with any casual invitation,” Guo Jing replied.

“Correct,” Genghis Khan said, “I am going to send a high official to invite him to the north. Tell me, whom should I invite?”

Guo Jing thought, “Among the Taoist orthodox sects, the Quanzhen is the best. Among the Quanzhen Six Masters, Qiu Daozhang’s [Taoist Priest] martial art is the highest, he is also the most amiable, perhaps he would be willing to come.” Therefore, he mentioned the name of Changchun Zi [Eternal Spring] Qiu Chuji.

Genghis Khan was ecstatic; he summoned his secretary immediately, told him his intention and ordered him to write an imperial letter.

The secretary had a bitter experience earlier that day, he thought for a long time, then finally wrote the imperial letter, “I have something to talk, please come immediately [zhen you shi, bian ji lai].” He followed the Great Khan’s literary style, also only used six characters. He thought this time surely the Great Khan would be pleased with his work. Who would have thought that as soon as Genghis Khan heard the letter, he was angry, and once again his whip hit the secretary’s face.

“I said that way to a dog king, but how can I treat an honorable Taoist Priest the same way?” Genghis Khan scolded, “You must write a long letter, a modest and respectful one.”

The secretary knelt down on the ground and started to compose this imperial letter:

‘The Heaven despises the arrogant in the Central Plains, I rule in the northern desert yet I also share the sentiment. I wish for a simple and pure character, shun the extravagance and embrace frugality. Each clothes each meal, along with the livestock in the corral enjoying the Heaven providence. Regarding the people like newborn babies, raising warriors like brothers, seeking harmony with the earth’s element and the living beings.

Training tens of thousands soldiers, dispatching hundreds of military expeditions with me leading in the front; within seven years I have completed great undertakings, uniting six elements into harmony. Not by my own virtue, but because of the Jin’s government’s lack of patience and the Heaven bestowed its blessing and gave honor to me.

To the south I made an alliance with the Zhao family’s Song Dynasty, to the north annexed the Hui Ge, to the east Xia and to the west Yi [name of countries, not sure the exact location]; all acknowledging Genghis Khan’s sovereignty, unparalleled since the founding of my Great Mongolia for thousands of years and hundreds of generations. However, my responsibilities are heavy; there is something I lack to maintain peace.

Just like marking the side of the boat where the sword fell into the lake, thinking that the water did not flow [meaning: vanity, something stupid]. I need worthy men to assist me in achieving peace under the sky. I assumed the throne with diligent mind to build a better nation; but three out of nine positions is not filled properly.

I seek Master Teacher Qiu to give guidance, governing nature, nourishing an exhausted mind; applying the strong Taoist virtue, cherishing the respected manners of honorable people of old; embracing the sage’s elegant deeds, living above the cliffs and valleys leading an invisible life. Enlightened forefathers have left behind a message: to devote one’s life in the way of the warrior.

An ancient saying shows the paths to immortality, every single one worthy of praise. Even after taking up arms, I am aware that the Master still possesses secret ancient way which I look up to cherish as my own.’

The secretary wrote to this point, he raised his head and asked, “Is it long enough?”

Genghis Khan smiled and said, “Such a nice letter. Enough. Write that I am dispatching a Han high ranking officer, Liu Zhonglu with my greetings to invite him over.”

The secretary continued,

‘If not for the battle how can one realize he needs the assistance of a secluded expert, that he visited the thatched hut three times? [Background info: Liu Bei visited Zhuge Liang three times before the latter agreed to help the former] The mountains and rivers are vast, yet missed to give a revered welcome.

It is time for me to leave my position. I fast and clean up my body, and I send my officer Liu Zhonglu, riding a plain carriage, enduring a thousand ‘li’s travel, to respectfully invite the Master to spare a moment from your journey treading immortal path, to brave the desolate desert in distant land, to tend to the affair of common people; and perhaps to give relief to the weary.

I long to go to the immortal place and wish not the immortal Master to spit on my desire. I will be happy to hear just one word of encouragement clearly; sincerely hope the Master would be willing to take the higher road to befriend me and not disappoint the hope of all living beings. Herewith the imperial letter ends; to be read by the appropriate addressee.’

Genghis Khan said, “Good, let it be like that.” He rewarded that secretary five ‘liang’s of gold; he also asked Guo Jing to write a personal letter of invitation to earnestly ask Qiu Chuji to come over. That very same day he sent Liu Zhonglu with the imperial letter to the south.

[Author’s note: Genghis Khan’s invitation to Qiu Chuji was based on the original text according to historical documents]

The next day Genghis Khan held a general assembly of all his high-ranking officials discussing the expedition to the west; conferring Guo Jing the title of ‘Noyon’, placing him in command of a ten-thousand men unit. ‘Noyon’ was the Mongolian highest official title, normally given only to the Great Khan’s close relative or a very senior general. By this time Guo Jing’s martial art had advanced immensely, but his military strategy knowledge was next to zero. He had no alternative but went to Jebeh, Subotai and other senior generals, asking for some advice. But he was slow and military tactics had an almost infinite variation; how could he learn it all in just a short period of time?

He saw the other generals were busy preparing their soldiers, gathering provisions and choosing their horses and weaponry; everybody was very busy. One hundred and fifty thousands cavalry went on an expedition to the west, going through bitter cold and barren desert lands, the preparation was certainly not a small matter. He had no clue on what to do, hence he simply assigned ten ‘qian fu zhang’ [leader of a 1000 men unit] under his command to separately handle the preparations and Jebeh and Tuolei oftentimes giving their advice to help him out.

A month or so later he still felt his preparation to be inadequate. He realized it was beyond him to command his troops. To attack a strong army of a million using the ’18-Dragon Subduing Palms’ or even the Nine Yin Manual would not be possible. If he issued a wrong order even for only one time, he would be defeated by the enemy. Not only Genghis Khan’s reputation would be marred, but the lives of ten thousand men would be jeopardized as well.

That day he was seriously contemplating to see the Great Khan and resign from his position; he was willing to be a low ranking soldier under somebody else’s command, fighting the enemy as an individual, when suddenly his second-in-command came to report that more than a thousand Han people were waiting outside, they were seeking an audience with him.

Guo Jing was delighted, he thought, “Qiu Daozhang has arrived this soon?” Hastily he went out his tent to welcome the visitor. To his surprised however, he saw on the prairie stood a group of people dressed as beggars. Three men rushed forward and bowed to greet him; turned out they were the Beggar Clan’s Lu Youjiao, along with Jian and Liang Zhanglao [Elders].

“Have you heard anything about Miss Huang Rong?” Guo Jing anxiously asked.

“Xiao Ren [lit. little/lowly person] had anxiously waited for any news, but the Bangzhu’s whereabouts is still unknown. We heard Sir [‘guan ren’, lit. government officer] is commanding a troop on the expedition to the west. We come to offer our assistance,” Lu Youjiao answered. Guo Jing was greatly surprised, “How did you know?”

“The Great Khan sent a messenger inviting Qiu Chuji, Priest Qiu; we heard it from the Quanzhen people,” Lu Youjiao replied.

Guo Jing was silent for half a day, staring blankly toward the clouds on the southern horizon, he thought, “The Beggar Clan has eyes and ears all over the world, yet they don’t know Rong’er’s whereabouts. I am afraid her being in danger is more likely than not.” Thinking about Huang Rong his eyes turned red involuntarily. He assigned his second-in-command to help the newcomers settled down while he himself went to inform the Great Khan.

“Good,” Genghis Khan said, “Place them under your command.”

When Guo Jing conveyed his intention to resign, Genghis Khan was angry, “Who can fight a battle as soon as they are born? Nobody can. After fighting several battles you will pick up. You grew up with me, what are you afraid of? How could Genghis Khan’s son-in- law not go to war?”

Guo Jing did not dare to say another word. He returned to his tent with an anxious face. Lu Youjiao asked him what the matter was, and then tried to console him. When evening came Lu Youjiao came to his tent and said, “If I knew it would be this way, Xiao Ren would have brought ‘Sun Tzu’s Art of War’, or ‘Tai Gong’s Summary of Military Strategy’ from the south; then everything will be all right.”

It suddenly dawned on Guo Jing that he had the ‘Wumu’s Legacy’ by his side. It was a military manual; how could he forget about it? Right away he took the book out from his clothes pouch, and then read it by the lantern light all night long through the next day, stopping only because he felt tired.

This book contained all kinds of military strategy; from reconnaissance, planning an attack, defense strategy, to military training, officer management, troop disposition, field operation, as well as safety and danger situation overview and escape strategy, all were discussed in details.

That day Guo Jing had browsed through it on the boat at Yuanjiang, he did not pay too much attention. But this time he needed military guidance, so he read until he had a good grasp of what was written. When he did not understand any part of the book, he would invite Lu Youjiao to ask his advice. Lu Youjiao would answer, “Right now Xiao Ren does not understand, but let me think about it.” He would leave Guo Jing’s tent only for a moment then came back with a very detailed explanation. Guo Jing was delighted and would ask him more questions. Strangely, Lu Youjiao would always not able to answer immediately; he always asked for some time to think, but then afterwards would always come up with answers no matter how difficult the problem was. At first Guo Jing did not notice, but after several days this answer-finding-process repeated, he could not help but feeling suspicious.

One evening Guo Jing picked a character from the book and asked him what it meant. Lu Youjiao said he wasn’t clear about that, so he needed sometime to think about it, then he went out the tent. Guo Jing thought, “The book is difficult, it’s all right if you need some time to ponder its meaning; but it is only a character, how could you not know its meaning?”

Although holding a position of general, Guo Jing was still very young and he still had a childish character. As soon as Lu Youjiao exited his tent he followed immediately. He stealthily hid among the tall grass wanting to know Lu Youjiao’s secret. He saw Lu Youjiao entered a tiny tent, and in just a short while he went out the tent again. Guo Jing hastily went back to his own tent. Lu Youjiao went in and said, “Xiao Ren has thought about it.” Then he proceeded by explaining the character’s correct pronunciation and its meaning.

Guo Jing smiled, “Lu Zhanglao, you have an expert master; why don’t you invite your master to see me?” Lu Youjiao was startled, “I don’t,” he said.

Guo Jing grabbed his hand and smiled, “We will go out and see.” He pulled his hand and went out the tent, walked toward that tiny tent he saw earlier.

Outside that tiny tent two Beggar Clan members were standing on guard duty. As soon as they saw Guo Jing they coughed lightly. Guo Jing noticed their coughs he let Lu Youjiao’s hand go and darted toward the tent. As soon as he lifted the tent’s entrance he saw the rear part of the tent fluttered a little bit. Definitely someone has just gone out the tent. Guo Jing rushed forward and lifted up the tent, but he only saw tall grass, not a single human’s shadow was to be seen. He was perplexed, was silent for a while.

Guo Jing turned around and asked Lu Youjiao, but Lu Youjiao said the tent was his, nobody else lived there.

Guo Jing did not give up, he kept asking Lu Youjiao difficult questions from the ‘Wumu’s Legacy’, but from now on Lu Youjiao would wait for the next day before he could answer his questions.

Guo Jing knew the person in that tent did not have any ill intention, only did not want to see him. Guo Jing decided that person must be an expert from the Jianghu, and it would be difficult to deal with people like that, so he put this matter aside temporarily.

He studied the book in the evening then trained his soldiers during the day according to method he learned from the book. The Mongolian cavalry was used to fight an open battle, now they had to train battle formations; they were having a very difficult time. But an order is an order, they did not dare to disobey, so they had no choice and trained hard.

Another month had passed; Genghis Khan’s army and its logistic were ready. Guo Jing managed to train his ten thousand soldiers in all eight battle formations: ‘tian fu’ [high as the sky], ‘di zai’ [strong as the earth], ‘feng yang’ [scattered like a wind], ‘yun chui’ [dangling like a cloud] , ‘long fei’ [flying dragon], ‘hu yi’ [winged tiger], ‘niao xiang’ [soaring bird], and ‘she pan’ [coiling snake]; which they have mastered skillfully.

These eight formations were originally created by Zhuge Liang based on ancient methods; when they got to Yue Fei’s hand, he added many changes and variations. When Yue Fei was young, he went to war under Zong Ze who said, “Your bravery, wisdom and skill have exceeded those of the ancient times; however, in a real battle we can’t predict everything.” He was referring to the troop disposition method. Yue Fei answered, “In a real battle, the art of war does not change. Whoever manages to utilize its wonder will save their own hearts and minds.” Zong Ze could not help but agree to what he said. Later on Yue Fei led many other troop movements. He was aware that he could not always follow certain method, yet he still trained his officers and soldiers according to these methods. Only when it came to the real battle he executed his plan dynamically, thus had defeated countless enemies. This process was also recorded in the ‘Wumu’s Legacy’ book.

One particular day the weather was clear and the air was fresh, the sky stretched out for tens of thousands miles, blue like it was fresh from the laundry. The one hundred and fifty thousand Mongolian cavalry were arranged in row after row on the prairie. Genghis Khan offered a sacrifice to the heaven and earth, making a vow before going into battle. Toward all his generals he said, “Stone has no skin, but there is a limit to human’s life. My hair and beard have all turned white. This time I go to war, don’t know if I am going back home alive. My concubine has reminded me last night, and I think she was right. I have to assign one of my sons today to lift high my banner after I am gone.”

The generals had fought hundreds of battle, following Genghis Khan’s attacks to the east and expeditions to the west. His white hair had been gray. Suddenly hearing the Great Khan was going to appoint his successor, they were all surprised and delighted at the same time. All eyes gazed toward his face, waiting for him to say his successor’s name.

Genghis Khan said, “Jochi, you are my eldest son, tell me, whom should I appoint?” Jochi’s heart skipped a beat. He was very capable, had rendered the most service, besides, he was the eldest son. He had always thought that when his father king died, naturally the position would fall into his lap. Now that the Great Khan suddenly asked, he did not know how to reply.

Genghis Khan’s second son, Chagatai, was like a raging fire. He did not live harmoniously with his eldest brother. Hearing his father king asking his brother, he opened his mouth, “He wants Jochi to speak, what order will he receive? How can we let this Mergid bastard rule over us?”

Actually when Genghis Khan was young, his army was weak; as a result his wife was captured by their enemy, the Mergids. After several years in captivity, his wife was taken back, but by that time she had already given birth to Jochi. Genghis Khan accepted this fact with an open mind; he regarded Jochi as his own son.

Listening to his own brother’s insult Jochi could not hold his patience any longer, he charged forward, grabbing Chagatai’s chest, shouted, “Father King had never regarded me as an outsider, how dare you insulted me? What skill do you have that I don’t? You are nothing more than an irritable hot-tempered arrogant man. Let’s go out and have a duel; if I lost to you in archery, I will rip my own thumb. If I lost to you in martial arts, I will throw myself on the ground and never get up!” Turning his head toward Genghis Khan he said, “Father King, please give your order.” Two brothers grabbed each other’s chest, ready to have a duel right then and there.

The rest of the generals stepped forward to separate them; Bourchu pulled Jochi’s hand, while Mukhali held Chagatai’s hand.

Genghis Khan was silent; he remembered his own disgrace in his youth that he was not even able to defend his wife’s honor, which had caused today’s dispute. The generals all blamed Chagatai for bringing up past events and hurt their parents’ hearts.

“Both of you, drop it!” finally Genghis Khan said, “Jochi is my eldest son; I will always love him no matter what. I forbid anyone to speak bad about him.”

Chagatai let Jochi go, he said, “Jochi is very capable, everybody knows that. But in term of generosity and benevolence, he is inferior to the third brother, Ogedei. I vote for Ogedei.”

“Jochi, what do you say?” Genghis Khan asked.

Jochi could see the unfavorable situation; he knew his hope to be the Great Khan was shattered. He had always had good relationship with his third brother; he knew the third brother was kindhearted, certainly would not do him any harm in the future, therefore, he said, “Very well, I also support Ogedei.”

The fourth prince Tuolei did not challenge that nomination, Ogedei was about to decline; but Genghis Khan said, “You don’t need to decline. Your battle skill is inferior to your two elder brothers, but you treat people kindly. When you become the Great Khan in the future, all princes and generals won’t fight each other. We the Mongolian people will have no enemy as long as we don’t fight each other. What are we anxious about then?”

That day Genghis Khan threw a big feast in celebration of the newly appointed crown prince. All the troops, from the generals to the soldiers drank until very late that night. Guo Jing went back to his tent a little tipsy. He was just about to take out his clothes to sleep when suddenly one of his officers came rushing in, gave him this report, “’Fu Ma Ye’ [Master Consort], it’s not good; the First Prince and the Second Prince were drunk. Each took his troops to kill each other.”

Guo Jing was stunned, quickly said, “Inform the Great Khan!”

“The Great Khan is also drunk, we couldn’t wake him up,” the officer replied. Guo Jing knew both Jochi and Chagatai had loyal followers, the troops under their flags were ferocious; if they killed each other the Mongolian army’s strength would be hurt considerably. They were having a brawl in the Great Khan’s presence earlier, but this time both were drunk; he had the urge to help, but how could he separate them? He was lost at what to do, pacing back and forth inside his tent while tapping his own forehead, musing, “If only Rong’er is here, she would know what to do.” He heard a distant battle cry, looked like both troops were about to kill each other.

Guo Jing was getting more anxious than ever; but suddenly Lu Youjiao rushed in and handed him a piece of paper with this message, “Use ‘coiled snake’ to cut off two armies, then use ‘winged tiger’ to capture those who refuse to surrender.” By that time Guo Jing had mastered the ‘Wumu’s Legacy’ from top to bottom. As soon as he saw these two lines of characters his mind was enlightened. He shouted, “How could I be so stupid? What’s the use of reading the military strategy book?” Immediately he gave orders for his own troops to move.

The discipline among the Mongolian army was very strict; even though all the officers and soldiers were drunk once the order was given, they armed themselves and mounted their horse; in a very short time had formed a neat battle formation.

The drums were sounded three times, the bugle was blown, the troops under Guo Jing’s command started to move toward the northeast. Several li’s later his scout came back reporting that the First and the Second Princes’ troops had started to battle each other; their ‘He hu! He hu!” shouts were heard from afar.

Guo Jing was anxious, “I am afraid I come one step too late and not able to prevent this big calamity.” Hastily he waved his hand to give orders; his ten thousand men divided itself, the right-hand ‘hou tian’ [rear sky]’s three axes moved forward, the right-hand ‘hou di’ [rear earth]’s three axes moved toward the tail; the right ‘hou tian’ charged, the right ‘hou di’ charged, moved toward northwest and northeast they occupied the right-hand position. Their corresponding left-hand teams did the same and occupied the left-hand position; while Guo Jing’s big banner moved in the center, followed by a ‘coiled snake’ formation fiercely broke through the front.

Jochi and Chagatai had each brought their twenty-thousand men, fighting with long saber in their hands. Guo Jing’s ‘coiled snake’ suddenly charged in between still maintaining their neat formation. The battling troops were startled, they scattered slightly disorderly.

Chagatai’s loud voice was heard, “Who’s there? Who’s there? Are you coming to help me or to help this bastard Jochi?”

Guo Jing paid no attention, his command flag waved, his teams moved around, the ‘coiled snake’ changed into ‘winged tiger’ immediately, the four smaller groups left-hand and right-hand ‘qian tian’ [front sky] occupied the front position, the rest of the groups enveloped Chagatai’s troops from both sides, their corresponding left groups outflanked Jochi’s troops on the other side.

By this time Chagatai could see Guo Jing’s banner clearly; angrily he swore, “I knew from the start the southern barbarian is not a good person.” He gave an order to his troops to kill Guo Jing’s. But those tiger’s wings contained subtle variations; each was very powerful; it was the formation Han Xin used to crush Xiang Yu at Gai Xia. It was called, “Ten principles to surround the enemy” in the military strategy books. It was said to have a power of surrounding the enemy ten times stronger, the principle of small number surrounding many using ever changing movements.

Chagatai’s troops saw Guo Jing’s small groups came and went continually, they did not know the exact number of the enemy and their hearts trembled with fear. In a short moment Chagatai’s twenty-thousand troops had been cut off, each group could not help the other.

The fight against Jochi’s troops took a different turn since their fighting spirit was already weakened. First, it was their fellow countrymen, more than half of them were good friends to each other. Second, they were afraid of the Great Khan’s wrath. As soon as Guo Jing small groups surrounded them in confusing movements, they lost their will to fight.

Among the troop movement Guo Jing’s loud voice could be heard, “We are all Mongolian brothers, no need to kill each other. Quickly put down your sabers, spears, bows and arrows to avoid the Great Khan’s beheadings.” Almost all officers and soldiers listened to his plea; immediately they dismounted their horses and threw their weapons to the ground.

Chagatai and about a thousand of his loyal followers charged ferociously toward Guo Jing’s troops, but three drumbeats were heard, eight groups of riders came surrounding them from all directions; they carried horse-tripping ropes. One by one the thousand troops fell down their horsebacks. From those eight groups, four or five soldiers surrounded one of Chagatai’s loyal followers. They were forced to sit on the ground with their hands tied behind their backs.

Jochi saw how Guo Jing’s troops routed Chagatai, he could not help but feeling scared but happy. He was about to move forward to talk to Guo Jing when suddenly the horn sounded again, Guo Jing’s front teams moved backward and the rear teams moved forward, very soon Jochi was surrounded on all directions.

Jochi had an extensive battle experience, but he had never seen anything like this. Hastily ordered his men to attack, but Guo Jing’s ten thousand men split into twelve smaller groups, did not charge forward, but moved backward instead. Jochi was marveled; he did not know that these twelve groups were:

‘da hei zi’ [black darkness, 11pm – 1am, the first hour], ‘po di chou’ [worn out enemy, 1 – 3am, the second hour], ‘zuo tu yin’ [dashing to the left, 3 – 5am, the third hour], ‘qing she mao’ [green snake, 5 – 7am, the fourth hour],

‘cui xiong chen’ [terrible devastation, 7 – 9am, the fifth hour], ‘qian chong si’ [charge forward, 9 – 11am, the sixth hour], ‘da chi wu’ [great scarlet, 11am – 1pm, the seventh hour], ‘xian feng wei’ [first tip (of the tool/weapon), 1 – 3pm, the eight hour], ‘you ji shen’ [right-hand strike, 3 – 5pm, the ninth hour],

‘bai yun you’ [white cloud, 5 – 7pm, the tenth hour], ‘jue sheng xu’ [sure victory, 7 – 9pm, the eleventh hour],

and ‘hou wei hai’ [rear guard, 9 – 11pm, the twelfth hour ], according to the twelve two-hour periods of the day; with strange variations, swiftly moved back and forth.

These twelve groups moved around, the right-hand groups charged to the left, the left-hand groups strike to the right; Jochi’s troops were confused. Less than the time to eat a bowl of rice later Jochi and his men were also surrounded and captured.

Jochi remembered when all of them were kids he had whipped Guo Jing half-dead. Chagatai also remembered he let his dogs loose and bite Guo Jing really bad. Both were afraid that Guo Jing would seek revenge; they sobered up immediately. They were also really scared that their father king would punish them severely.

After capturing these two people Guo Jing thought that as an outsider he had interfered in this sibling rivalry; he was not sure if his action might result in disaster or good luck. He was thinking of discussing this matter over with Ogedei and Tuolei when suddenly he heard loud horn sound; amidst the flickering torches the Great Khan’s nine big banners came galloping fast.

Genghis Khan had sobered up from wine, he received the report that his two sons were about to kill each other. He was startled and angrily jumped out of his bed. Without wearing clothes or armor, with his hair unkempt he jumped on his horse and sped to the prairie.

When he came near, he saw his sons’ troops sat on the ground, with Guo Jing’s troops standing around, guarding them. His two sons, although they were still sitting on the horsebacks, but each were surrounded by eight of Guo Jing’s men wielding unsheathed blades in their hands. He was very surprised.

Guo Jing stepped forward and knelt down on the ground, reporting everything. Realizing that a major disaster had been unexpectedly thwarted, Genghis Khan’s delight was unspeakable. He came rushing in thinking that two Mongolian armies had fought each other, the casualty must be serious; his two sons might be dead already. Who would have thought that his two sons were alive and well, three armies were intact. Of course he was delighted.

Immediately he called a general assembly of all the princes and generals. He scolded Jochi and Chagatai, and heavily rewarded Guo Jing and his men. He said to Guo Jing, “Do you still say that you cannot lead troops to war? Your merit in this matter alone can easily dwarf the war against the Jin country. If we cannot destroy the enemy’s city wall today, we can always come back tomorrow and try again. But if my sons were dead, how can we make them alive again?”

Guo Jing took the rewards, but divided the gold, silver and livestock to his troops. There was a thunderous cheering and applause among his troops that day. All generals came to congratulate him on this great merit.

After sending off the guests, Guo Jing took out the note given to him by Lu Youjiao. He examined it carefully, the handwriting was shoddy, most likely it was Lu Youjiao’s handwriting, but he was suspicious, “Although I have trained my troops in ‘coiled snake’ and ‘winged tiger’ formations, but I have never mentioned these names to Lu Zhanglao. The difficult parts of the book that I asked him for advice also do not have anything to do with this battle formations. How did he know? Did he read my military strategy book without my knowledge?”

Right away he invited Lu Youjiao into his tent. “Lu Zhanglao, if you like to read this military strategy book, I will gladly lend it to you.”

Lu Youjiao smiled, “A poor beggar like me will not become a general in my lifetime; leading a whole bunch of little beggars also did not need to use the art of war. What use will the military strategy book for me?”

Guo Jing pointed his finger to the note, “Then how did you know about the ‘coiled snake’ and ‘winged tiger’ formations?”

“Sir has mentioned it to Xiao Ren, have you forgotten?” Lu Youjiao said. Guo Jing knew he was not telling the truth. The more he thought about it the more he was perplexed; but he was not sure what did Lu Youjiao hide.

The next day Genghis Khan held another general assembly. The vanguard was under Chagatai and Ogedei’s command. The left flank was under Jochi’s command, while the right was under Guo Jing’s. Each of the vanguard, left and right units were thirty thousand men strong. Genghis Khan and Tuolei commanded over sixty thousand soldiers as the main army. Each soldier rode on one of a pair of horses; they would ride one horse at a time to conserve the horses’ strength. The officers took even more horses. With one hundred and fifty thousand men, they took with them nearly a million horses.

The horns were sounded, the drums were beaten, the noise was deafening. The thirty-thousand strong vanguard cavalry unit started to gallop majestically to the west. The great army moved farther and farther west, entering Khoresm territory with irresistible force. Muhammad’s army was bigger, but they were not the Mongolian’s army match. Guo Jing led his unit destroying cities and killing the enemies, he had rendered not a few merits.