Ouyang Feng looked at him strangely, then turning his body he jumped into the sea. Hong Qigong was about to follow when suddenly Ouyang Feng flew back up. “Hold on! Now my body is also wet; we are on a level ground. Let us fight again to decide victory or defeat.” Holding onto the boat’s edge he swung his body up and landed on the deck.
“Wonderful! Wonderful!” Hong Qigong said, “I have a satisfying fight today!” With him sending his fist forward, the two people were engaged in a fierce battle one more time.
“Rong’er, do you see how fierce the Old Poison is?” Guo Jing asked. Huang Rong’s acupoint was still sealed, so of course she was not able to answer. “Do you think I should go up there and help Master to come down here? The boat is about to sink,” Guo Jing said again. Still no answer from Huang Rong. Guo Jing turned his head to see Ouyang Ke was hugging Huang Rong; he became angry and shouted, “Take your hands off!”
It was with great difficulty that Ouyang Ke finally able to touch Huang Rong’s hands; how could he let go that easily? Smiling he said, “If you move, I am going to hack her brain out with my palm.”
Guo Jing did not even think, he swept the oar in his hand horizontally. Ouyang Ke ducked to avoid this attack, but Guo Jing sent his palm with a whistling sound toward his head. Ouyang Ke was forced to let Huang Rong go, he swung his head backward to avoid this attack. Guo Jing’s fists moved simultaneously, one downward, the other upward, both aimed toward Ouyang Ke’s head.
Ouyang Ke realized this small boat was not the best place to fight; while the enemy attacked fiercely. He stood up and sent a stance from his ‘ling she quan’ [spirit snake fist technique], his hand swept horizontally. Guo Jing extended his left arm to parry, but suddenly Ouyang Ke’s fist curved upward and turning into a palm slapped Guo Jing hard on his cheek.
This hit was really heavy, Guo Jing’s head was spinning because of it; but he realized the danger he was in, so he opened his eyes and saw the second attack was coming. Ouyang Ke’s movement resembled a wine gourd with two successive bends. Guo Jing avoided this attack by throwing his head backward while sending his right arm forward to counterattack. But because his head was moving backward, this attack of his was not effective. Luckily he had learned the mutual hands combat technique from Zhou Botong, so both his left and right hands could move independently of each other. This time his left hand followed his right with a different stance coming toward the opponent. Ouyang Ke’s hand was still coming toward Guo Jing, hence Guo Jing’s arms were surrounding his hand. With a crack sound Ouyang Ke’s bone was broken.
Actually Ouyang Ke’s martial art skill was not under Ma Yu, Wang Chuyi or Sha Tongtian. No matter which technique he used, he should be able to defeat Guo Jing in a fair battle. It was just that Guo Jing’s techniques were more bizarre than any other techniques he had seen that he fell under Guo Jing’s hands twice.
Ouyang Ke fell onto the small boat’s deck. Guo Jing did not pursue his opponent; he quickly took Huang Rong’s yielding body and unsealed her acupoint. Lucky for him when Ouyang Feng sealed her acupoint he did not use too much energy; he was trying to conserve his energy because he anticipated Hong Qigong’s attack, otherwise Guo Jing would not be able to unseal the Western Poison’s sealed acupoint.
Huang Rong came to her senses, “Quickly help Shifu!” she called out.
Guo Jing lifted up his head to see his master and Ouyang Feng were engaged in a close hand-to-hand combat like they were dancing around amidst the blazing fire. The sound of the wind generated by their movements was intermingled with the sound of burning and cracking and falling debris all over them. Suddenly a loud crack was heard, the boat’s body broke; the stern was slowly sinking into the sea and vanished into the dark water. The bow was lighter, but slowly it sank nonetheless. Guo Jing took his oar and started paddling to get the small boat closer with the intention of helping his master.
Hong Qigong’s feet got into the water first. His clothes had been dried out by the fire, while Ouyang Feng’s were still wet from the sea earlier; so this time the Western Poison gained an upper hand against the Northern Beggar. Hong Qigong did not want to surrender so easily, he fought with all his might. At that moment the main mast broke and fell down. Two people hurriedly jumped backwards so they were separated by a burning mast.
Ouyang Feng fetched his snake staff and jumped over the burning mast. Hong Qigong immediately drew the bamboo stick from his waist and fended off the attack. They were fighting barehanded ferociously before, so imagine how fierce the battle had become now that both were wielding weapons.
Guo Jing held the oar in his hands, ready to jump on board. He was very concerned about his master’s safety, yet watching two people’s wonderful weapon techniques he was carried away, clucking his tongue and praising unceasingly.
There was a saying among the martial arts practitioners, “A hundred days to master a blade, a thousand days to master a spear, ten thousand days to master a sword,” showing that sword technique was the most difficult to learn. However, when the martial artists had reached perfection each would develop his/her own unique skill; then the difference between various weapons would be minuscule. Twenty years ago during the Sword Meet of Mount Hua both Hong Qigong and Ouyang Feng had already admired each other’s martial arts very much. Even using swords it was very difficult for them to defeat the other. Now both did not use any sword anymore.
Hong Qigong wield a bamboo stick which he carried anywhere he went, as a token of authority of his position as the Beggar Clan Leader. The bamboo was pliable but hard to break. Compared to a sword it was about one foot longer. His skill in external martial art was superb; he was able to impart an incredible strength to the flexible weapon in his hands, increasing its might tremendously.
Ouyang Feng’s snake staff was also unique in that he combined the cudgel, stick, and spear techniques; the movements were complicated. The staff head was carved in the form of a human head; its mouth grinned ferociously, looked very scary. Two rows of sharp teeth inside its mouth were covered with poison. The head danced around like a ghost ready to strike its victim. On top of that, there was a secret button on the staff that when pressed the head would shoot some poison toward the enemy. If those weren’t enough, fiercer still were the two snakes wrapped around the staff. They were alive and able to make unpredictable moves; very difficult to guard against.
Two people exchanged palms and weapons, unfolding their respective unique skill. Ouyang Feng had a slight advantage in term of weaponry, but Hong Qigong was the leader of beggars everywhere, and beggars were experts in catching snakes. His bamboo stick danced amidst the snake staff movements, parried every move that came his way but also took advantage of any opening in the opponent’s offensive line; striking the snake staff’s vital point. Ouyang Feng moved his staff very fast, to make it difficult for the opponent to have an accurate aim; he knew Hong Qigong meant to kill the snakes on his staff. He did not activate the secret device on his staff for fear that his reputation would be ruined.
Hong Qigong still had a unique skill set belonging to the Beggar Clan, namely the ‘da gou bang’ [Dog Beating Stick technique]; its changes were subtle yet marvelous, a very sophisticated stick technique. However, Hong Qigong did not want to use this special skill of his unless in an emergency situation. He was planning on using it on the second Sword Meet of Mount Hua the following year; so he did not want to let his would-be-contender to have an advantage by watching his moves beforehand.
Guo Jing was standing on the bow of his small boat; several times he wanted to jump on board to help his master, but those two combatants were fighting closely. He realized his own skill was too far below theirs; it would be very difficult to even get close to them. All he could do was staring blankly, unable to do anything.