The Legend of the Condor Heroes – Chapter 10

Spectres of the past.

Original translation by Rayon

Guo Jing placed Mei Chaofeng on his shoulders, according to her instructions, and hurried after the fleeing enemy. His body had a strong kung fu basis and Mei Chaofeng’s body was not heavy so even though she was on his shoulders, it did nothing to diminish his speed. He quickly leapt and Mei Chaofeng soared along with him.

Wanyan Kang was shocked to find Yang Tiexin there and then recognizing him, he cried: “It’s you!” Brandishing the iron spear, he quickly adopted the “Hang2 Bu4 Deng4 Hu3” (The Line of Step of Marching Tiger), followed by the “Chao2 Tian1 Yi1 Zhu4 Xiang1” (Facing Upwards to Burn a Joss Stick). The tip of the spear gleamed, going straight towards Yang Tiexin’s throat.

Bao Xiruo called out: “He’s your father, you… Don’t you see?” As she raised her head, she saw him flung against the wall, causing her to cry out. Wanyan Kang was shocked, quickly taking a step back, still holding the spear. Then, he glanced down to see his mother on the ground, her body covered with blood and her breathing shallow, making it difficult for him to see for sure if she was going to live or die. Remorse filled him and he was helpless for a while. Yang Tiexin then bent down and took his wife into his arms, carrying her towards the door and outside.

Wanyan Kang called out: “Put her down!” He then used the stance “The Lone Wild Goose Excels,” the spear moving like the wind and heading towards his chest.

Yang Tiexin heard the rushing sound behind him and quickly sent out his left hand to counter, able to stop the iron spearhead about five inches from its target. In the battlefield, the “Yang Family Marksmanship” was invincible and one move, the “Hui2 Ma3 Qiang1” (Turning the Spear on Horseback) was a unique skill passed from generation to generation. When Yang Tiexin used his left hand to grasp the spearhead, he was actually using some elements of the “Hui2 Ma3 Qiang1” but had to improvise a little. Originally, when he grasped the enemy’s weapon, he only needed to send out his right hand as the iron spear drew closer but because he was holding Bao Xiruo, he could only turn around and shout angrily: “This Yang Family Marksmanship is passed only to sons. A pity your shifu did not teach you this.”

Although Qiu Chuji’s kung fu was very high, he actually did not research deeper into the marksmanship. The Yang Family Marksmanship was native to Song Dynasty and was famous throughout Jiang Hu, but only 19 schools were direct descendants of the orthodox school. He knew the principles of the orthodox Yang Family Marksmanship and that same year when they fought in Ox Village, Yang Tiexin saw evidence of that but as for the unique skill that was passed on only from generation to generation, he obviously did not understand. That was why Wanyan Kang also did not completely absorb the move of the marksmanship.

The force applied by two people caused the iron spear which was already old, its handle already starting to decay, to break into pieces with a “ka” sound. Guo Jing jumped forward and shouted angrily: “You saw that he’s your father, why do you not kowtow?”

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

Guo Jing did not dare wait and also rushed out of the room. He was just about to head towards the wall to flee when suddenly, he sensed a rustle in the darkness, rushing towards his neck. He felt the force of the palm scratch the tip of his nose and on his face, he felt a severe pain like it was scraped by a knife. This person’s internal strength was fierce and moreover, there was barely a sound, taking one completely unawares. He could not stop himself from feeling shocked as he heard the person angrily shout: “Peasant boy, this old man has waited enough! Extend your neck and let this old man drink your blood!” It was precisely Immortal Ginseng Liang Ziweng.

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

Peng Lianhu quickly moved his body so that he was blocking the entrance as he shouted: “Since you are a disciple of the Twin Corpses of the Dark Winds, I won’t embarass you. But you must tell me, why did your shifu send you here?”

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

Peng Lianhu got angry: “That final move, the “Ling2 Ao2 Bu4″ (Spirit Sea Turtle Step), didn’t the Twin Corpses of the Dark Winds teach you that?”

Huang Rong laughed: “I only saw the Twin Corpses of the Dark Winds a few times. Also, the level of their kung fu is so low, how can they match my shifu?”

Peng Lianhu said: “Your lying is useless.”

Huang Rong: “I have actually heard of the Twin Corpses of the Dark Winds. I know that these two people are dishonorable; they stop at no evil, cheat their elders; their shamelessness is known throughout wulin. How can Peng Zhaizhu compare me with these two obscene people?”

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

Peng Lianhu stepped aside and said, “Young Miss, you win. Lao Peng admires you very much and wishes to know your name.”

Huang Rong smiled: “I don’t mind. I am called Rong Er.”

Peng Lianhu asked: “Your surname?”

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

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

Huang Rong glanced at the white clothes he was wearing and asked: “You are with those pretty girls of the Bai Tuoshan (White Camel Group)?”

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

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

Ouyang Ke’s kung fu was high and with the support of his shifu’s younger brother, he was able to run amuck in the western region for many years. His lascivious nature caused him to spend all those years collecting beautiful women from different places, turning them into his concubines. To occupy their time, these concubines also studied kung fu and therefore, they were also his female disciples. When Prince Zhao summoned him to Yanjing, he brought 24 of his mistresses with him, dressing them up in white robes and mounting them on white camels. Because the concubines were many, they took turns riding while the others walked. Eight of them encountered on the road the Six Freaks of Chiangnan speaking with Guo Jing. They heard Zhu Cong talking about the precious Han Xie horse’s origin and intended to steal it and give it to Ouyang Ke as a gift but they failed in that attempt.

Ouyang Ke was very proud of his collection of concubines, knowing that they were the most beautiful women in the world and that not even the ladies of the imperial palaces of the Jin Dynasty and Song Country could compare to them. But who would have thought that he would meet Huang Rong in the Zhao Palace? He saw that her eyes were bright, her cheeks tender and though still very young, her body was graceful. Her beauty was unsurpassable that even his numerous mistresses could not compare to her. And when she displayed her exquisite martial arts skills, his heart fluttered. Now, he listened to her friendly voice, the soft and gentle words, feeling his heart burn and his bones go soft. He could not say a word.

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

Ouyang Ke smiled: “If you want me to help you, then you must obey me as your teacher and stay with me forever.”

Huang Rong: “Even obeisance to the shifu does not mean staying with him forever!”

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

Huang Rong tossed her head, laughing as she said: “I do not believe.”

Ouyang Ke whistled and at once, 20 white-clad women appeared at the entrance. Whether they were fair or dark, fat or thin, all of them were wearing the same type of clothes, their carriage proud and their smiles seductive as they trained their eyes on Ouyang Ke. During the banquet earlier in the Fragrant Snow Hall, these mistresses served outside the wall. This is the first time Peng Lianhu and the others saw them and in their hearts, they were envious of his good fortune.

When Huang Rong challenged him into calling his mistresses, her intention was to cause a disorder in the hall, taking the opportunity to escape but who would have thought that Ouyang Ke would read her thoughts? He looked at the crowd, signaling them with his folding fan to stay in the entrance. Then, he cast a sidelong glance at Huang Rong, appearing casual and self-satisfied. The mistresses looked at Huang Rong steadily, some of them feeling inferior while others had only jealousy in their minds, knowing that the pretty girl had somehow caught the eye of the “shifu’s son.” They could not allow her to become another one of his “female disciples” because he might hereafter stop doting on them. These mistresses gathered around him tightly, making it difficult for Huang Rong to rush out through the door.

Seeing that the situation was not favorable, Huang Rong said: “You prefer a real fight. I have to obey you as my teacher which I’ve never done before. I don’t want to cause any embarassment.”

Ouyang Ke asked: “Is it possible that you don’t want to try?”

Huang Rong: “Alright.”

Ouyang Ke said: “Good, then come. Don’t be afraid. I won’t hit you back.”

Huang Rong: “How? If you don’t hit back, I’ll win, won’t I?”

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

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

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

Ouyang Ke stretched out is right foot to the ground, leaving his left foot at the center, which left about three feet of distance in between. Still standing, he proceeded to move his foot against the brick floor, creating a sound like flowing water until he was able to make a complete circle, six feet in diameter. Creating
such a circle was no easy task, thus displaying his great internal strength. Sha Tongtian, Peng Lianhu and the others all looked on in admiration. Ouyang Ke stepped into the crcle and said: “Whoever steps out of the circle loses.”

Huang Rong: “And if we both leave the circle?”

Ouyang Ke said: “Then, I lose.”

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

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

Huang Rong “Alright!”

She stepped into the circle, her left palm performing the “Hui2 Feng1 Fu2 Liu3” (Encircling the Wind to Stroke the Willow) and her right palm the “Xing1 He2 Zai4 Tian1” (River of Stars in the Sky). The left was light, the right was heavy, both hands exerting hard and soft forces. Ouyang Ke dodged slightly and both his shoulders were struck at the same time. Huang Rong encountered the force coming out of his body, startled to find that this Ouyang Ke’s internal strength was truly profound. Though he remained true to his word of not hitting back, he actually borrowed the force she used and used it as his own so that no matter how many times she hit him, he was always able to immediately retaliate. His hand remained motionless but Huang Rong was standing unsteadily, almost falling out of the circle. This was why she did not dare to attack for the moment as she paced inside the circle, saying: “If I go that doesn’t mean you won. You said before that if both of us left the circle, you lose.”

Ouyang Ke looked shocked as he watched Huang Rong jog out of the circle. She was afraid that a long delay might cause more complications so that she quickened her footsteps, her golden bangles sparkling and her flowing robes fluttering in the wind as she rushed towards the entrance.

Ouyang Ke shouted loudly: “I’ve been cheated!” He could only shout a warning but could not pursue. Sha Tongtian, Peng Lianhu, and the others saw how Huang Rong cleverly tricked Ouyang Ke and could not stop themselves from laughing loudly.

Huang Rong was just about to reach the entrance when a fierce sound could be heard coming from above and a large body suddenly dropped from nowhere. She moved sideways to avoid, suppressing her fear at this unknown thing. She saw that that person sitting down on a large round-backed wooden armchair was that tall Tibetan monk. He was wearing a red gown and even though he was seated, he was still able to tower over her. The skill with which he was able to leap high with the chair still stuck to his body was no ordinary feat. Huang Rong was just about to speak when she suddenly saw the Tibetan monk whip out a pair of cymbals from beneath his robes. He struck both hands, releasing a shocking, deafening sound, before opening it like a flower and sending both, one on top of the other, letting it fly fiercely towards her. The cymbals turned into a blur of shining metal, moving so fast like there were a dozen of them. She tried to fend it off but the cymbals suddenly turned into three. Startled, she turned only to find that the cymbals were drawing nearer. She dashed forward, parrying, before immediately fleeing away, then reversing, sending out a right palm towards the top cymbal while sending her left foot towards the two cymbals at the bottom. The two cymbals separated so that they were able to fly past. This fierce stance was unusual but the cymbals were able to avoid it and Ling Zhi then leapt forward. Ling Zhi executed his “Da4 Shou3 Yin4” (Big Hand Imprint) towards her. Huang Rong was hit, the blow sending her violently forward straight towards the center of the crowd.

Everyone shouted in alarm at the same time, seeing the young girl hit by Ling Zhi’s great palm, probably breaking several bones and causing severe internal injuries.

Ouyang Ke shouted: “Show mercy!” Was there enough time? He saw that Ling Zhi’s great palm struck her in the back but also saw that the hand was withdrawn immediately, its owner cursing loudly. Huang Rong used the force of his palm to run out of the hall. He heard her clear laughter as though she was not injured at all. He expected that Ling Zhi’s palm was strong but what he did not know was that before the palm could hit her, it was rapidly withdrawn so that the force behind the blow was diminished.

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

Startled, Peng Lianhu asked: “This girl was wearing the soft hedgehog armor? That is the treasure of the Taohua Island (Peach Blossom Island)!”

Sha Tongtian wondered, How can someone her age get a hold of the soft hedgehog armor?

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

Hou Tonghai asked: “Shi Ge (Elder Martial Brother), what is this soft hedgehog armor?”

Peng Lianhu snapped: “Have you seen a hedgehog?”

Hou Tonghai nodded: “Of course.”

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

Hou Tonghai bit his tongue, thinking, It’s good that I wasn’t able to hit the smelly boy!

Sha Tongtian said: “I’ll get her back!”

Hou Tonghai looked at him and said: “Shi Ge, she… You can’t touch her body.”

Sha Tongtian: “Who asked for your opinion? I can still pull her hair.”

Hou Tonghai said: “Right, right, why didn’t I think of that? Shi Ge, you are truly intelligent.” And both apprentice brothers and Peng Lianhu at once gave chase.

By now, Prince Zhao Wanyan Honglie received the worried report from his son and learned that the princess was taken prisoner. Angered, both father and son, together with their personal guards left the palace to chase after the culprits. At the same time, Tang Zude led another group of armed guards to search for and arrest the intruder. Thus, the palace was on complete alert. Guo Jing ran into Liang Ziweng near the wall but how could he extend his neck like that and let him drink his blood? In his shock, he turned around and fled. He did not know which way was north or south so he decided to hide someplace. Liang Ziweng really wanted to drink his blood and would not slow down even a bit. It was a good thing that Guo Jing’s lightness kung fu was good otherwise, even though the night was dark, he would have been captured a long time ago. The light from the torch died and he could no longer see where he was going, only sensing that he had somehow stepped into a thorny area where the ground was rugged and rocky. More people were coming out of the palace, what time did Gou Jing have to deliberate? The thorny bristles cut through his legs but when he thought about Liang Ziweng biting his throat, he could not let the tiny thorns bother him. Not even a mountain or forest of swords could stop him.

Suddenly, he felt the ground beneath him give way, causing him to cry out as he started to drop, falling some 45 feet into an extremely deep cavern. While his body was in midair, he had already circulated his internal energy so that he would not lose his balance when he landed and prevent himself from getting injured. But who would have thought that his two feet would step on round stones? He lost his balance and fell down on his seat. His hands, which supported him, held one of these round stones. Fear shot through him when upon tracing these round stones with his fingers, he realized that these stones were actually the skeleton heads of dead persons. It looked as though this deep hole was where the corpses of dead people executed at the Zhao Palace were dumped. He heard Liang Ziweng call out from above: “Boy, come up here!”

Guo Jing thought, I’m not stupid enough to come up only to die! And with that, he raised his hand, feeling his way along and trying to feel the roof of the cave but he felt nothing. Thereupon, he moved forward to guard himself against Liang Ziweng who might follow him there and kill him. After shouting several curses, Liang Ziweng thought that perhaps Guo Jing could not come up and so he shouted angrily: “Even if you run all the way to hell, this old man will still come after you!” And taking a deep breath, he jumped down.

Greatly surprised, Guo Jing took several steps back only to find empty space behind him. He turned around, stretching both his arms out to feel the way. As he continued on, he discovered that it was a tunnel. Liang Ziweng also noticed the tunnel. His boldness was brought on by his high skill so that even though it was so dark that when he stretched his hand out, he could not even see his five fingers, he was not afraid that Guo Jing would be laying down a trap against him. He followed, only liking the situation more: This is just like seizing a turtle in a jar. This boy can’t get away again. How can I not drink his blood now?

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

Guo Jing ran several feet forward when he realized that the tunnel had ended to reveal an earth room. Liang Ziweng also followed, laughing: “The peasant boy wants to run away but to where?”

Suddenly, from the left corner an eerie, raspy voice said: “Who acts unruly in here?”

The two of them never expected that someone lived in this black pit but they could not deny this sound, the voice though raspy actually rumbled like thunder to their ears. Guo Jing was frightened, his heart jumping madly while Liang Ziweng also could not restrain himself from feeling absolutely terrified. They heard the gloomy voice say: “Those who enter my cave are already rotting. Are you that impatient to die?” The voice now began to resemble that of a woman, speaking anxiously, her breathing heavy as though she had a contracted a serious illness.

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

Before he could finish his words, Liang Ziweng was able to discern where he was. He dashed forward, stretching his hands out to take him. Guo Jing heard the rustle caused by his palm and hastily dodged. Liang Ziweng changed directions at once, forcing Guo Jing to dodge once more to the right. It was pitch dark so one could only grab thoughtlessly while the other could only hide blindly. Suddenly, there was a ripping sound. Liang Ziweng had taken hold of Guo Jing’s left sleeve.

The woman angrily said: “Who dares to seize a person here?”

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

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

Guo Jing had thought that the situation he was in was hopeless and critical in the extreme when he heard her saying this, without hesitation, he jumped as he felt five icy cold fingers touch his wrist. They were much stronger than him so that when he was pulled by her, his body was not able to resist from being thrown forwards and feeling himself growing numb. Gasping for breath, the woman said to Liang Ziweng: “You were able to grasp him adeptly which means your strength is not a trifle. You are from outside the mountain pass?”

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

The woman said: “Ah, is the Ginseng Immortal Liang Ziweng trying to right a wrong? The other person seems unaware of it. I have no desire to interfere but when he rushed into my cave, the crime can already be pardoned. Lao Liang, you are a martial arts expert, how come you don’t understand the rules of wulin?”

Liang Ziweng was even more surprised and asked: “May I consult the name of your excellency?” The woman said: “I… I…”

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

Liang Ziweng’s high kung fu allowed him to hear her groan and surmised that this person has lost her skills not from a sickness but from an injury which caused her to be greatly weakened. He immediately applied strength to his arm, sending both hands evenly to grasp Guo Jing’s chest. He managed to brush against his clothes, waiting for his fingers to grab hold when he suddenly felt a strong force meeting his wrists. Shocked, Liang Ziweng discovered that when he sent out his left hand, he managed to grab instead the enemy’s arm. The woman shouted angrily: “On guard!” A palm hit Liang Ziweng on his back. He leapt, the palm forcing him to take several steps back. Fortunately for him, his internal strength was good so that he was not injured.

Liang Ziweng said: “Hao3 zei2 po2! (Something like, you good mother-in-law of a thief! Po is sometimes used as a not-so polite term for old woman. The thief in question is Guo Jing.) You come here.” When that woman continued gasping for breath, remaining motionless, Liang Ziweng realized that she could not move the lower part of her body. His alarm and fear was immediately reduced and he began to slowly approach. He was just about to jump forward to attack when he suddenly felt something curl around his ankles. This thing was like a soft whip, silent, and came like electricity. Greatly alarmed, he quickly tried to resist it, but the whip was able to lift his body in a flash. He tried to aim a kick at the woman when a sound came as the top of his head hit the earthen wall.

His leg kung fu was of a high level, unmatched in wulin which caused him to enjoy more than 20 years of great prestige outside the mountain pass. This leg when executed was incomparably fierce. Who would have thought that before even the tip of his toe could arrive, he would suddenly sense his “Chong1Yang2 Xue2” (Flushing Out the Sun Hole) growing numb, causing him to immediately dodge in great alarm? This “Chong1Yang2 Xue2” was located five inches from the instep of the foot. If this vital point was sealed by the person, his whole leg would grow numb. Luckily, he was able to withdraw his foot quickly, avoiding it, but the action of anxiously kicking and then anxiously withdrawing has caused his knee to ache.

Liang Ziweng thought as he dodged, This person is in this dark cave but acts as though she is dwelling in a bright and sunny place, being able to accurately find my vital point, how can she not be a witch or a demon?

Realizing the critical situation he was in, he executed a half somersault to avoid, backhandedly sending out a palm in an effort to shake her off. He knew this stance was severe, the palm ten times stronger, and he thought that this person with asthma definitely would not have the internal strength to resist. However, he suddenly heard a loud cry as he felt the enemy’s arm heading violently towards him, its fingertips already making contact with his shoulder. Liang Ziweng’s left hand sensed the opponent’s ice-cold wrist, her body appearing as though it was not made of flesh and blood as it once more tried to attack. He immediately rolled away, rushing out in a hurry, even using his hands and foot to crawl out of the tunnel, panting heavily as he thought, I have lived for dozens of years but I have never encountered such a strange event where I don’t even know if she is a woman or a ghost! I must inform the prince about this matter. He hastily ran back to the Fragrant Snow Hall.

On the way, he thought: “I do not know if that creature is a woman ghost or female demon, but now that the stinky boy has fallen into her hands, she will naturally suck all the precious blood in his body dry. Would she act as if she was a polite guest of mine? Sigh, due to a strange combination of circumstances, I had met that stinky beggar. Then, having raised the snake and refined its blood, I had to run into that female ghost. I nearly lost my life in both encounters. Could the fabrication of the pill of longevity really be against the ways of Heaven, and envied by ghosts and deities, that I would fail on the verge of success?”

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

That woman was able to match Liang Ziweng’s moves earlier but now she was exhausted, causing her asthma to play up. She coughed, wheezing as she said: “Why did Lao Liang want to kill you?”

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

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

Guo Jing: “I took some of his medicine to treat an internal injury, but he was so angry he wanted to kill me. Is the old senior injured? Disciple has several medicines, four samples of tian2 qi1 (pseudoginseng), xie3 jie2 (dried blood), xiong2 dan3 (bear’s gall), mei2 yao4. Taoist Elder Wang does not have to use this many, if old senior…”

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

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

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

Guo Jing no longer dared to utter a sound, thinking that she did not want to leave. However, he had always been unable to stay content even though he knew that he ought to keep his head lowered so that he once again asked: “Whatever you want, I can go get it for you.”

The woman laughed coldly and said: “You are fussy like woman but I see that your heart is good.” She stretched out her left hand to pull on his shoulders. Guo Jing felt his shoulder snap and the sharp pain that followed but he was able to keep his body from falling on top of her, suddenly sensing an icy coldness as the woman’s arm wound around his neck. He heard her bark an order: “Carry me to the exit.”

Guo Jing thought, I originally wanted to carry you to the exit. Thereupon, he bent at the waist and slowly made his way out of the tunnel.

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

As soon as they left the hole, the woman asked: “Who taught you your lightness kung fu? Tell me quickly!” Her arm suddenly tightened, clutching Guo Jing’s throat so he was gasping for breath.

Alarmed, he hastily circulated his internal energy to resist. The woman was intentionally trying to test his skill by tightening her grip, but she paused before gradually relaxing.

She loudly exclaimed: “Hey, look here, the peasant boy knows the internal strength skills of the Taoist orthodox school. You said that Taoist Elder Wang was injured, what name is this Taoist priest called?”

Guo Jing thought, You have rescued me, so whatever you ask, I would answer you truthfully. Otherwise, how barbaric am I? He immediately replied: “Taoist Elder Wang is Wang Chuyi but others call him the Son of the Jade Sun.”

Suddenly, he felt the woman on his back begin to shake as he heard her breath out heavily: “You are a Quanzhen Sect disciple? That… That is very good.” As soon as she said this, she could not contain her delight so she went on and asked: “Who is Wang Chuyi to you? You call him Taoist Elder which is not equal to shifu. Is he your shi zi (martial uncle) or shi bo (martial senior)?”

Guo Jing: “I am not a Quanzhen sect disciple but Son of the Red Sun Ma Yu has long ago taught me his breathing techniques.”

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

Guo Jing replied: “Disciple altogether has seven teachers, the Seven Freaks of Chiangnan. First shifu is called Flying Bat and surnamed Ke.”

The woman began coughing violently, the sound bitter and sour as she said: “That is Ke Zhen’e!”

Guo Jing: “Yes.”

The woman said: “You come from Mongolia?”

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

The woman said slowly: “Your name is Yang Kang, is it not?” Her tone of voice changed from gloomy to angry.

Guo Jing said: “No. Disciple is surnamed Guo.”

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

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

While he was hesitating, the woman clamped his hand to grab the dagger as she shouted: “You recognize this dagger, do you not?”

If Guo Jing were more quick-witted and heard how sad and shrill her voice sounded, he would have felt compelled to turn his head and look at her. Instead, he thought only of the other’s kindness in saving his life, This person came to save my life. Certainly, that means she is a good person. Therefore, he was not the least bit suspicious as he immediately replied: “Ah, yes! When I was young, I once used this dagger to kill an evil man. That evil man suddenly disappeared, along with the precious dagger …”

As he spoke, he felt his neck tighten suddenly, suffocating him. In the midst of danger, he bent his arm and pushed it backwards but his wrist was held by that woman’s outstretched left hand.

The woman later relaxed her right arm, allowing her body to fall so that she was sitting on the ground as she shouted: “Who do you think I am?”

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

Mei Chaofeng sat on the ground, her right hand clutching Guo Jing’s neck, her left holding his wrist. For more than ten years, she had been searching for the man who killed her husband and now suddenly, he was here. Is it the work of Zei2 han4 zi3 (Thief Man. I think this is Mei Chaofeng’s pet name for Chen Xuanfeng) from below, to have that person die in my hands? In her heart she was delighted beyond measure but this was quickly overcome by grief as past events of her life, no matter how much she fought it, came in brief flashes.

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

Mei Chaofeng recalled how she and Chen Xuanfeng secretly married each other and how they feared their shifu’s punishment. When they ran away from the Island, her husband told her to steal the second “Jiu3 Yin1 Zhen1 Jing1″ (Nine Yin Scripture). Later, they came to a remote mountain where they trained hard but after practicing for half a year, her husband said that he could not understand the true meaning of the text. He wanted to break his head out of frustration. That same year, my husband said, ‘Zei2 po2 niang2 (Thief wife. His pet name for Mei Chaofeng?), we only stole one half of the Jiu Yin Zhen Jing. The first half of the scripture contains the foundation principles to practice the secret nei gong techniques. The kung fu scripture belongs to the Taoists and what our shifu taught us is completely different. We can’t master this, what do you suggest we do?’ I said, ‘What choice do we have?’ He said, ‘Return to Taohua Island.’ How could I dare to go back? Both of our skills had become ten times stronger but our shifu only had to use two fingers.

Zei Hanzi (Thief man) was also afraid but knowing how many wonderful techniques he could not practice at the time, he was willing to die. He had made up his mind to steal the scripture and said, ‘If we are going to be the unmatched couple under the heaven, then Zei Poniang (Thief wife) must be prepared to be a widow.’ I did not wish to be a widow! If one must die, then the other must also die in the same place. And so both of us decided to risk our lives by going back. We found out later that after we ran away, shifu in a great fit of temper broke the legs of all of his disciples and expelled them from his island. That was why there was only him, his wife, the two of us, and his servants.

When we arrived in Taohua Island, we discovered two people engaged in a fight. Shifu’s opponent looked like an expert. The two of them were arguing about the Jiu Yin Zhen Jing and as they quarreled, one of them opened a move. This person was Quanzhen sect and although he spoke foolish words, his kung fu was high, arriving at a level which I could not even imagine. But shifu, when compared to him, had a better chance of winning. Witnessing this martial arts duel only served to frighten us out of our wits. I said quietly, ‘Zei Hanzi, we are inferior. Let’s get away!” But he was not willing. We watched as shifu grabbed his opponent, forcing him to take the oath of never voluntarily leaving the Island. Remembering that shifu’s wife used to treat me with kindness, I decided to look for her through the window. Who would have thought that all I would see was a mourning hall? Shifu’s wife had passed away. In my heart, I felt very sad. Shifu’s wife always treated me well but now that she’s dead, shifu was alone. I really felt sorry for him that time. I couldn’t stand it.

While I was crying, I suddenly saw near the mourning hall a one-year old little girl, sitting straight up from a chair and smiling at me. This girl really looked like my shifu’s wife so I suposed she was the daughter. Was it because of childbirth that she died? I was thinking this when shifu noticed me. He flew from the mourning hall and stepped outside. I was so frightened, my feet grew soft and I couldn’t move. I heard the girl laughing and calling: ‘Daddy, hugs!’ Her smile was like a flower as she opened her arms towards shifu. This girl saved my life. Shifu feared that she would fall down and so stretched out a hand to grab her. Zei Hanzi then pulled me and we both dashed out, snatching the boat, the sea water splashing inside. My heart was thumping so hard, it seemed like it was going to jump out of my throat.

Zei Hanzi saw shifu fighting and had henceforth lost heart. He said, ‘Not only have we not learned a tenth of shifu’s kung fu but with this Quanzhen master, how can we compare?’ I said: ‘You regret? If the shifu can do it, then one day we can also learn his kung fu.’ He said, ‘If you don’t regret, then I do not regret.’ Thereupon, he used the fiercest martial arts method he could find and taught me everything. He said that although this method was heretical, it allowed us to increase our skills.

At the beginning, our abilities became astounding and as we ran amuck in Jiang Hu, we earned the nickname of ‘Twin corpses of the Dark Winds.’ That Shen Long who flew through the sky with his axe exorcising evil spirits, was it Zei Hanzi who killed him or was it I? My memory is not so clear as to who killed but all is the same in any case. One day, we were practicing in the temple ruins the “Cui1 Xin1 Zhang3” (Destroying Heart Palm), when suddenly from all directions appeared dozens of skilled people. They were lead by our fellow apprentice, Lu Chengfeng. He hated us after shifu broke his two legs and now gathered a large group of people to help him capture us to give to shifu. THis boy really thought that he could defeat us. Humph, the ‘Twin Corpses of the Dark Winds’ are not that easy to defeat. Though we were able to kill 78 men and run away, we were also heavily injured. After several months, we found out that the Quanzhen Seven Elders were also secretly following us. We did not want to fight the opponents all at once because they were too many so thereupon, we left the Central Plains until we reached the Mongolian prairies.

Zei Hanzi was worried that people would steal the Taoist scripture. He told me not to look. I did not know where he hid it. ‘Good, Zei Hanzi, I don’t know where to find it.’ ‘Zei Poniang, I will be good to you. I’ll take care of you and teach you everything except the Taoist nei gong. If we force it, we could harm our bodies.’ ‘Alright! What are you waiting for?’ Thereupon, we continued to practice the “Jiu3 Yin1 Bai2 Gu3 Zhua3” (Nine Yin White Bone Claw) and the “Cui1 Xin1 Zhang3.” He said these two techniques were heretical and fierce but did not require one to learn nei gong. Suddenly, one evening in that stark mountainside, the Seven Freaks of Chiangnan attacked me. ‘My eye! My eye!’ The pain was burning from the toxins. I crawled on the ground, scratching my eyes. I did not die but my eyes were blinded and my husband dead. That was retribution for that time when we once killed that blind Ke Zhen’e’s elder brother and blinded his (Ke Zhen’e) eyes.

As Mei Chaofeng thought about this painful matter, both her hands tightened instinctively, creating a noise as she grinded her teeth.

Guo Jing felt like the bones in his left hand were going to break and secretly complained, This is not good. How do I konw what kind of vicious method she’s going to use to kill me? Then, he said: “Hey, I don’t know what you want to do but I want to ask you something, please agree.”

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

Guo Jing said: “Yes. I have several medicines and I ask you to be generous. Please take away some of these and give it to Taoist Elder Wang in the Prosperity Inn outside the city.”

When Mei Chaofeng did not answer and continued to stare blankly at him, Guo Jing said: “You agree? Many thanks to you!”

Mei Chaofeng said: “Many thanks what? All my life, I’ve never done any good deed!”

She could not call to mind how much pain she suffered in her life, nor could she recall how many people she had killed, but that night on the barren hill, she remembered clearly. My surroundings suddenly went black and I could not see even the stars. Zei Hanzi said, ‘I have failed! The Taoist scripture is hidden in my chest…’ These were his last words. Suddenly, a heavy rain began to pour and the Seven Freaks of Chiangnan began fiercely attacking me. I was hit in the back by a palm. This person’s internal strength was profound; the pain from his hit reached my bones. I carried Zei Hanzi’s corpse and escaped, descending the mountain even though I could not see.

They did not pursue me which was really strange. The rain became heavier and the night had grown pitch-dark; they could not see me. I dashed about wildly in the rain. Zei Hanzi’s body was at first hot but afterwards, it gradually turned cold. My heart also turned cold with each minute that passed. I was shaking all over; I was very cold. ‘Zei Hanzi, are you really dead? Even with your fierce kung fu, how could you die so inexplicably? Who killed you?’ I drew out a dagger from his stomach, causing the blood to spurt out. What caused this? Murdered people certainly bleed, but I did not know how many people I murdered. ‘I must die with Zei Hanzi! No one else will call him ‘zei hanzi’, in the netherworld, he would be lonely!’ I placed the dagger to my throat and prepared to slice when suddenly, I traced two characters on the dagger handle, the characters “Yang Kang.” Mmm, the killer must be this person named Yang Kang. How can I not exact revenge? If I don’t kill this Yang Kang first, how can I die? Thereupon, I went through Zei Hanzi’s pockets, searching for the secret Taoist scripture, but even though I searched the whole body, I was not able to find a trace of it. I must find it! I started from his hair, not missing an inch until suddenly, while I was feeling the skin on his chest, I felt something strange.

As she came to this thought, she was unable to restrain bitter laughter from coming out of her throat. She said: “After careful investigation, I found that tattooed on his chest is the “Jiu Yin Zhen Jing.” ‘You were afraid that someone would steal this from you and so you tattooed this on your body so it won’t be taken away!’ Yes, like shifu’s martial arts teachings, someone could also steal the Taoist scripture from us so you came up with a way so it can’t be stolen. Your idea is ‘a person comes, after he is gone, everything goes with him’ (or something like that). I used the dagger to cut your chest, mmm, I must tan this skin so it won’t rot. I will keep it with me all the time so it will be like you are accompanying me forever. I was not sad anymore. When I laugh, people are usually frightened even though I was smiling. I used both hands to dig a pit in the ground to bury you inside. You taught me the “Jiu Yin Bai Gu Zhua” before; I used this technique to dig your grave. I hid in the cave, afraid that the Seven Freaks of Chiangnan would find me.

At that time, I was not their match but after some practice, humph, I could grab each of their hearts. Was it really dangerous to practice the Taoist nei gong? It would cause serious injuries but I was not afraid to die only what sort of injury? I must perfect my kung fu in the shortest time. It must have been some divine intervention that Zei Hanzi tattoed the Taoist scripture on his body or with my blind eye, what use would the written words have? All these years, even when he was playing with me, he never removed his clothing on his upper body, now I know it was for this…” When she thought about this, her face burned and she released a long sigh. What is it? Zei Hanzi, can you see me from the netherworld? If you married a female ghost and made it your wife, then we do not have forever…

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

One evening, oh, that mischievous young prince. He went looking for bird’s eggs in the garden at midnight without telling anyone. I did not see him but he saw me practicing with my silver whip and thereupon coerced me into teaching him. I taught him three moves and he learned them; he was really intelligent. Pleased with his progress, I also passed on to him the Jiu3 Yin1 Bai2 Gu3 Zhua3 (Jiu Yin White Bone Claw), tiu1 xin1 zhang3 ye3 (Push the Heart Palm). I wanted him to take the oath of not telling anyone, not even the prince or the princess. If he divulged it to anyone, I told him that I would capture him, break his bones, and send his soul to heaven. Young prince has practiced kung fu and his foundation was not low. He said that ‘Shifu, I also have another male shifu. This person is not good. I do not like him. I only like you as my shifu. I will never reveal to him that you are teaching me. He can’t compare to you. His kung fu teachings are not effective.’

Humph, the young prince knew how to flatter. His male shifu was definitely not incompetent. But I only asked that he did not tell him that he was studying kung fu with me and I in turn would not question him about his shifu. Several years passed and the young prince said that the prince (Prince Zhao) wanted to go to Mongolia. I asked the prince to allow me to go there with him to offer sacrifice for my husband’s grave. Young prince said to me that the prince agreed. The prince doted on him very much and whatever he asked, he agreed.

Oh, even if I couldn’t find Zei Hanzi’s (Thief Man) bones, I kept the skin from his flesh next to my own skin all day and all night. Also, why would I offer a sacrifice to his grave? I aimed to find the Seven Freaks of Chiangnan for revenge. But my luck was not good because the Seven Elders of Quanzhen were unexpectedly all in Mongolia. My eyes could not see, how could I match these seven people? That Son of the Red Sun Ma Yu’s internal strength was profound. Even though he spoke without effort, his voice was able to travel far. But my going to Mongolia was not in vain because that Ma Yu was asked by me right in his face, what, how, why, and he passed on to me some nei gong (internal strength) secrets.

After I came back to the palace, I went to the tunnel to practice diligently. Oh, this internal strength could not be completed without guidance. Two days ago, I was fiercely practicing, leaning on one thigh and vigorously dashing when suddenly my qi arrived at my hip area; I could not move it back up. In light of this, the lower part of my body suffered seriously. If the young prince did not look for me, how would he know that I had an accident while practicing martial arts? Or if this Guo boy did not rush in here, I would have starved to death in that tunnel. Humph, it’s Zei Hanzi’s ghost that sent him here to rescue me so I could I kill him to avenge Zei Hanzi. Ha ha, ha ha! Ha ha, ah, heh heh, humph, ha ha!

As Mei Chaofeng laughed madly, her whole body hook and her right hand suddenly made an effort to grab Guo Jing’s neck. Guo Jing sensed the danger to his life at this critical moment and tried to turn her hand wrong side up by grasping her wrist, using his external strength. Ma Yu’s orthodox school teachings were practiced by him for several years so his internal strength was not weak. Mei Chaofeng could not hold her fierce grip as she felt her hand being turned wrong side up by him, forcing it open. Startled, she thought, his boy’s kung fu is not bad!

Even hit three times, Guo Jing applied all his strength in that palm of hand. Mei Chaofeng cried loud and long, lifting her palm to hit him. She was using her “Cui1 Xin1 Zhang3” (Destroying Heart Palm) unique skill. Guo Jing’s level of skill and hers differed too much to begin with and his left was held firmly by her, how could he move to gain an opening? But he had to exert himself to overcome her strength, lifting his right hand to block. Mei Chaofeng raised her hand to meet his but only to feel her arm shake.

She changed her mind at that moment as she considered, I practiced nei gong without anyone to guide me so that it resulted in a serious illness where my lower body could not move. I heard him say a moment ago that Ma Yu taught him the Quanzhen Sect nei gong then it would be convenient if I force him to tell me the nei gong secrets. How could I kill him to avenge Zei Hanzi and only pick his brain later? Fortunately, this boy has not died yet. At that moment, she returned her hand again to grasp Gou Jing’s neck and said: “You killed my husband, how can you still expect to live? But if you listen to what I have to say, then I’ll let you die quickly; If you’re stubborn, I will let you experience suffering and misery. I’ll start with your finger, biting and chewing it until everything is eaten.”

She had an accident, resulting in her lower body paralysis. Afterwards, she was starving for days so when she said that she wanted to eat Guo Jing’s finger, it was not just idle talk to intimidate him.

Guo Jing felt a shiver as he watched her open mouth, showing several white teeth. He did not dare say a word.

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

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

Mei Chaofeng’s left hand tightened and Guo Jing felt the pain and the biting cold but he had made up his mind so that he said: “You want to obtain the orthodox nei gong. Give up the idea while it’s still early.”

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

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

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

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

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

Gou Jing was startled, Rong Er has not yet left and allowed them to track her trail. Changing his intention, he turned to Mei Chaofeng and said: “You still need to do one more thing, otherwise no matter what you force me to endure, I won’t tell you the secret.”

Mei Chaofeng got angry: “What is this other thing you have? I don’t agree.”

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

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

Guo Jing felt his throat constrict, causing him great alarm. However, he was still unyielding and said: “Rescue… You said… Did not say…”

Having no other alternative, Mei Chaofeng said: “Alright. Then I’m depending on you but don’t think that Mei Chaofeng does things to please others. Today is the exception, you stinky boy. This young girl is your sweetheart? You’re really full of affection but dumb. We made a deal. I’m only doing my part. I have agreed to rescue your sweetheart out of danger but I haven’t consented to sparing your life.”

Guo Jing heard her agree and was glad. Then he raised his voice and called out: “Rong Er, come here! Rong Er…”

Just after calling twice, suddenly Huang Rong’s figure appeared from behind some rose shrubs nearby. She said: “I’m already here!”

Guo Jing was delighted: “Rong Er, come quickly. She agreed to help you. The others can’t harm you now.”

Huang Rong had been listening to Guo Jing and Mei Chaofeng for some time behind the rose shrubs. She heard how he never gave a thought to his own life and never forgot about her safety. In her gratitude, two drops of tears rolled down her cheeks as she shouted at Mei Chaofeng: “Mei Rehua, let him go!”

“Mei Rehua” was Mei Chaofeng’s name before her master changed it. No one in Jiang Hu knew and for dozens of years, she had not heard these three characters uttered by anyone. However, today it was being shouted by this person.

Greatly startled, she asked: “Who are you?”

Huang Rong said clearly: “Taohua ying3 la4 fei1 shen2 jian4, bi4 hai3 chao2 sheng1 an4 yu4 xiao1! (The peach blossom shade leaves behind the divine sword, the jade ocean current gives life to the jade flute!) I am surnamed Huang.”

Mei Chaofeng was even more startled and could only stammer: “You… You… You…”

Huang Rong called out: “You what? The East China Sea Taohua Island snapping finger, the pure sound of the cave, the green bamboo forest, the trial sword pavilion, you also remember?”

Mei Chaofeng knew these places during her discipleship and when she heard them mentioned now, suddenly a thought came to her and she asked: “Taohua Island Huang… Shifu Huang, is… Is…What is he to you?”

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

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

Huang Rong called out: “Quickly release him.”

Mei Chaofeng suddenly remembered, Shifu swore that he would never leave Taohua Island, how could he be here? It was only because of this that I and Zei Hanzi stole the “Jiu Yin Zhen Jing” (Nine Yin Manual). He had taken an oath and could not leave the island to pursue. This person is trying to deceive me. I won’t let myself get confused.”

When Huang Rong saw her hesitate, her left foot pointed downwards as she leapt up ten feet and successively executed two half-circles before soaring into the air and wielding a palm towards Mei Chaofeng’s head, intending to hit her. It was precisely the “La4 Ying1 Shen2 Jian4 Zhang3” (Fallen Hero Divine Sword Palm), a center move of the “Jiang1 Cheng2 Fei1 Hua1” (River Town Flying Blossom).

She called out: “My father taught you this move. Have you forgotten?”

Mei Chaofeng heard the noise of the air rustling around her but she kept still, her suspicion still in place, though she raised her hand and softly called out: “Shi Mei (Apprentice Sister), you have spoken with shifu?”

Huang Rong let her body drop, using one hand to pull and then drag Guo Jing to her side. Originally, Huang Rong was the Taohua Island (Peach Blossom Island) Master Huang Yaoshi’s only daughter. Before giving birth to her, her mother had a turn for the worse, which caused her to be physically and mentally exhausted, leading to her death after a difficult labor. Huang Yaoshi had a fit afterwards, expelling all his disciples from the island, leaving only the father and the daughter alone there.

Huang Yaoshi was called “Dong Xie” (Eastern Heretic) because of his peculiarity of conduct. He often said that the etiquette and customs of the world were all nonsense. His love for his daughter was excessive and he naturally did nothing to control her, thus allowing her to become arrogant and willful. Although she was intelligent, she was not willing to focus her mind on learning martial arts. Her father was actually very proficient in the ying yang five lines, learning these methods from several classics. She was able to learn when still very young but even though her father had already reached a divine level, she was nevertheless unable to go beyond the Taohua Island martial arts basics.

One day, she was playing in the island when she came upon her father’s enemy imprisoned in the cave. Feeling lonely, she conversed with that person, talking for almost half a day. The person’s words were interesting to her so that she often returned, seeking him out only to speak with him, finding relief in that exercise. Afterwards, Master Huang Yaoshi found out and reproached her severely. Huang Rong had never been beaten or scolded by her father so she reacted with anger and self-pity. Her cunning and unreasonable temperament manifested itself suddenly and she took the boat to escape Taohua Island, thinking that no one cared for her there. Thus, she cut all wish for it and disguised herself as a poor, miserable youth, going in all directions, dissolute, though in her heart she was still with her father.

She thought angrily, Since you don’t love me, then I will make the world feel most pitiful for a young beggar!” (I’m not sure about this. This is the text: 你既不爱我,我便做个天下最可怜的小叫化罢了)

However, she did not expect to meet Guo Jing in Zhangjiakou. At first, she went to the wine shop with him to spend his money and cause a disturbance, intending to lay on him her resentment towards her father. Who would have thought that he would be so dumb with no idea at all, talking with her as though they were old friends and even giving her his horse, showing his concern? She was bitter and lonely, thinking about how she deceived him but he continued to treat her honestly. She was touched. Since then, the two of them became good friends.

Huang Rong once listened to her father speak about Chen Xuanfeng and Mei Chaofeng’s affair in great detail and because of this, she learned about Mei Chaofeng’s maiden name and the lines “Taohua Ying3 La4 Fei1 Shen2 Jian4, Bi4 Hai3 Chao2 Sheng1 An4 Yu4 Xiao1” (The peach blossom leaves behind the divine sword, the jade green sea gives life to the jade flute), which was the heretical couplet that hung inside the sword trial pavilion and which embodied the principles of Huang Yaoshi’s wugong. Every Taohua Island disciple knew this. Since she knew that her wugong could not rival Mei Chaofeng’s, she then lied and told her that her father was coming. As a result, Mei Chaofeng was frightened into releasing Guo Jing.

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

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

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

Mei Chaofeng asked: “What merit?”

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

Mei Chaofeng heard that her younger apprentice sister was willing to ask her father for a favor. Her spirit was revived. While they spoke, four of Ouyang Ke’s concubines arrived. Huang Rong dragged Guo Jing behind Mei Chaofeng to avoid getting in the way, only waiting for Mei Chaofeng or Ouyang Ke to open moves and take the opportunity to sneak off. Ouyang Ke saw Mei Chaofeng sitting on the ground, her hair disheveled and her whole body covered with dark skin. She was clutching tightly the upper part of her bosom. Opening his folding fan lightly, he moved forward to catch Huang Rong when suddenly he felt a force heading towards his chest. He looked down to find the woman on the ground stretching out her hand to grab him. He had never encountered such level of strength in one stance before. Shocked, he hastily struck towards her wrist with his fan and at the same time, leapt away. He heard a scoff, “ka” “la”, and loud successive cries. The front piece of Ouyang Ke’s jacket was torn, his fan broken into two, and his four concubines collapsing to the ground. He took a quick look around and saw that all four women had been violently killed, their spirits left their bodies as soon as they were hit. The tops of their heads were covered in blood and brain matter gushed out of the five holes at the center. The swiftness and viciousness of the move was extremely rare. Ouyang Ke was surprised and angry at the same time when he saw the woman still sitting motionless as though paralyzed. His fear was lessened and he quickly launched into a stance passed on by his family, “Shen2 Tuo2 Xue3 SHan1 Zhang3” (Divine Camel Snowy Mountain Palm). His body floated as his palm prepared to attack. Mei Chaofeng’s ten fingers were sharp, each one poised to grab him and squeeze the air out of him while she sneered. How could Ouyang Ke dare to get close?

Huang Rong pulled Guo Jing so they could walk away when suddenly they heard a mad roar coming from behind. Hou Tonghai’s two fists headed towards them. Huang Rong leaned slightly to one side. When Hou Tonghai saw this, he aimed for her shoulders, feeling pleased with himself. His blunt brain did not calculate fast enough and it was then that he abruptly remembered that she was wearing the prickly soft hedgehog armor. He gave out a loud cry, hastily withdrawing his two fists, clapping both before hitting his own forehead above the three bumps, only to yell out in pain. Where else could he grab her besides her hair?

At that moment, Sha Tongtian, Liang Ziweng, and Peng Lianhu all rushed in. Liang Ziweng saw Ouyang Ke engaged in a dangerous fight, his long gown torn and ragged, and realized that this woman was the same one who pretended to be a ghost in the tunnel. Roaring angrily, he went forward to attack. Sha Tongtian and the others saw Mei Chaofeng’s stances were fierce. They were all astonished and so decided to keep close guard, waiting for the first opportunity to attack. They thought, Where does this woman’s high wugong come from?

Peng Lianhu watched and after figuring it out, he shouted: “The Twin Corpses of the Dark Winds!”

Huang Rong’s body moved swiftly, first hiding to the east before flashing to the west. How could Hou Tonghai grab her hair? Huang Rong saw that his hands were always aiming for the top of her head and so was able to surmise his real intention. She darted towards the rose bushes and hid behind it. Then, she used a piece of metal and stuck some thorns around it before inserting it around her head. Afterwards, she poked her head out and called: “I’m over here!”

Hou Tonghai was greatly pleased, sending out a hand to grab the top of her head as he said: “This time, you can’t get away, smelly boy…Ayo, ayo! Shi Ge (Martial Brother), the smelly boy’s head also has thorns…thorns!” His palm had been punctured by the metal tips, causing him to jump out in pain.

Huang Rong laughingly said: “Your head has three horns. It’s not fair. I only have one horn. Let’s do this again!”

Hou Tonghai called out: “If you don’t come, then you can’t come again!”

Sha Tongtian scolded: “Do not shout!” Then he hurried over to his side to help.

By that time, Mei Chaofeng was engaging two masters who were attacking together. Suddenly, she sent her arm back to grab Guo Jing’s chest, calling out: “Hold my legs.”

Guo Jing did not understand what she meant but he wanted to help her fight the two powerful enemies. At her words, he immediately bent down and grabbed her legs.

Mei Chaofeng used her left hand to resist Ouyang Ke’s palm while her right hand thrust towards Liang Ziweng. She said to Guo Jing: “Carry me to chase after that old man Liang!”

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

(I’m not sure about the next ones. The translation for the nei gong secret sounds a bit off. So, please, anyone…if you can piece it together, please do.)

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

Guo Jing replied: “Sit cross-legged, five hearts facing the heaven. (盘膝而坐,五心向天) ”

Mei Chaofeng asked: “What are the five hearts facing the heaven? (甚么是五心向天) ”

Guo Jing said: “Two hands, two feet, and the head all become five hearts. (双手掌心、双足掌心、头顶心,是为五心) ”

Mei Chaofeng was delighted and her spirits rose. She reached out to brush the shoulders of Liang Ziweng, whose blood jumped as he started and ran away.

Guo Jing was about to chase after him when suddenly the Dragon King Sha Tongtian ran in front of him to help his apprentice brother capture Huang Rong. Startled, he hastily carried Mei Chaofeng towards them, shouting: “First, let’s take care of these two!”

Mei Chaofeng stretched out her left arm, heading towards Hou Tonghai. Hou Tonghai anxiously withdrew, trying to dodge. Who would have thought Mei Chaofeng’s arm would be so violent as though it had the strength of an ape? Although Hou Tonghai’s dodging was quick, her arm was still able to follow his body, grabbing him, the fingers of her right hand already digging into him. Hou Tonghai’s entire body went numb. He could no longer move.

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