Decoy deployment on the cliff.
Original translation by Strunf
Remaining in the ger, the Six quietly conferred with each other. “This man taught a superior neigong to our Jing’er,” Han Xiaoying said. “He can’t possible want to hurt him…”
“Then why doesn’t he want us to know about it?” Quan Jinfa asked. “And why he doesn’t tell to our Jing’er that it’s neigong that he’s teaching him.
“I fear that he’s someone that we know,” Zhu Cong said.
“Someone we know?” Han Xiaoying wondered. “If it’s not a friend, it can only be an enemy!”
“Amongst our friends,” Quan Jinfa confirmed, “no one has kung fu this exceptional.”
“But if it is an enemy,” Han Xiaoying pursued, “what reason would he have to teach our Jing’er?”
“Maybe there is a devilish plan behind it.” Ke Zhen’E said with a cold voice. The others froze thinking about his words.
“Tonight,” Zhu Cong said, “Sixth brother and I will follow Jing’er discreetly to see who the expert is.” The five approved.
That night, Zhu Cong and Quan Jinfa hid themselves not far from Guo Jing and his mother’s ger. After a half-hour wait, they heard the young man say in a high voice, “I’m going, mom!” He left the ger, discreetly followed by his two masters, who were surprised at the speed of his leaving. Fortunately, there weren’t many obstacles on the arid plain and they could see him from afar. Arriving at the bottom of the cliff, he climbed it without slowing down.
By this time, Guo Jing had made huge progress in his lightness technique. Since he climbed the cliff every evening, he didn’t need the help of the Taoist anymore and went to the top very quickly.
Zhu Cong and Quan Jinfa were more and more astonished and stood for a long time in silence until the other ‘Freaks’ arrived. Afraid of falling into the hands of enemies, they brought their weapons and their hidden projectiles. Zhu Cong explained that Guo Jing was already up the cliff. Han Xiaoying raised her head and saw the summit of the cliff lost in the clouds and shivered. “We’ll have a difficult time getting up there,” she said.
“Let’s hide in the bushes,” Ke Zhen’E said, “we’ll wait for them to come down again.” The other five agreed.
Han Xiaoying thought about the night ten years ago when they fought the ‘Twin Killers of the Dark Winds’. She and her six brothers hid, waiting for enemies. It was as cold a night as this one and the wind cut to the bone. The lonely moon, the desolate hill, the swirling of sand, and the silence of the night only broken by some distant sounds… The only difference was that now she wouldn’t see Zhang Ahsheng and his always smiling face. She felt sadness in her heart.
The hours passed and they didn’t notice any movement on the cliff. Day broke and there was still no trace of Guo Jing or of his mysterious teacher. They tried looking up but couldn’t see anything.
“Sixth brother,” Zhu Cong said, “Let’s see what’s up there.”
“Will we be able to climb it?” Han Baoju asked.
“I’m not sure; we’ll only know after we try,” Zhu Cong said. After running back to the ger, he returned bringing back two long ropes, two axes and several big nails. Quan Jinfa and Zhu Cong attached themselves to each other with the rope and began the climb. They dug some holes and planted the nails in them in order to provide sure hand and foot-holds. Sweating, they finally arrived on the summit. Hardly had they put their feet on the top of the cliff when they exclaimed loudly and became pale with fear.
Next to a big rock, they saw nine white skulls perfectly stacked – five at the base, three in the middle and one on the top. It was identical to the arrangement once made by the ‘Twin Killers of the Dark Winds’. Examining the skulls, they saw that each also had the five holes in the forehead. The edges of the holes were very clean and without any breaks as if cut with a blade. Obviously, the power of the fingers of the ‘Killer’ had increased considerably when compared to the ones they had seen ten years ago. With their hearts thumping like drums they cautiously examined the surroundings, but saw nothing else unusual. Then they climbed down to tell the others what they had seen.
Seeing the look on their faces, Han Baoju was worried.
“It’s Mei Chaofeng!” Zhu Cong said. The other four froze.
“And our Jing’er?…” Han Xiaoying asked.
“They must have come down the other side,” Quan Jinfa answered. Then he told them what they had seen.
“Who would have guessed,” Ke Zhen’E sighed, “that for eighteen years, all of our efforts only served to feed a snake amongst us!”
“Jing’er is an honest, straight-forward boy and good as gold,” Han Xiaoying disagreed, “he would never betray us.”
“Honest and straight-forward?” Ke Zhen’E sneered. “How could he learn those martial arts from that witch for two years and not tell us anything?”
Han Xiaoying stayed uneasily silent, not knowing what to say.
“Unless,” Han Baoju said, “a blind Mei Chaofeng wants to use Jing’er to harm us?”
“That’s probably what she’s planning,” Zhu Cong confirmed.
“Even if Jing’er has bad intentions,” Han Xiaoying protested, “he would never agree to betray us like that!”
“Maybe,” Quan Jinfa suggested, “the witch hasn’t decided when the moment to inform him has come.”
“Ok, let’s admit,” Han Baoju said, “That Jing’er’s lightness technique is good and he has a good basis in neigong; but what of martial arts? He still is far behind us. Why didn’t the witch teach him any techniques?”
“The witch only uses him,” Ke Zhen’E explained, “She doesn’t want to make him good! Didn’t her husband die by Jing’er’s hand?”
“That’s it! That’s it!” Zhu Cong exclaimed. “She wants us all to die by Jing’er’s hand, and then she will kill him. That way full vengeance will be gained!” They all shivered, struck by the logic of this reasoning.
Ke Zhen’E struck the ground with his staff and quietly said, “Let’s go back and act as if we don’t know anything. When Jing’er arrives, we will eliminate him. Afterward, when the witch arrives to train him, we will take care of her. Even though she may have become stronger than before, she can’t see anything; with the six of us together, we should be able to get rid of her once and for all.
“Eliminate Jing’er?” Han Xiaoying exclaimed, frightened. “And what of the challenge we made with Qiu Chuji?”
“Which is more important,” Ke Zhen’E replied coldly, “to keep our lives safe or to go to that challenge?” All remained silent.
“No,” Nan Xiren suddenly said. “We can’t do it.”
“What can’t we do?” asked Han Baoju.
“We can’t eliminate him.” Nan Xiren said, shaking his head.
“I agree with the opinion of Fourth brother,” Han Xiaoying said. “It’s necessary to interrogate him in depth in order not to make an irreparable mistake.”
“The problem is too serious,” Quan Jinfa said. “If we hesitate and show the slightest weakness and he benefits from that to secretly betray us, what will happen to us?”
“If we don’t make the right decision,” Zhu Cong said, “the consequences may be terrifying. Do not forget that our adversary is Mei Chaofeng!”