By nature Zhou Botong was mischievous, he gave each and every stance a funny name. Hong Qigong only heard up to the eighteenth stance, his heart was already filled with admiration. He cut Guo Jing off, “You don’t need to continue, I have found a way to fight the Western Poison.”
“With Vacant Fist?” Guo Jing asked, “I am afraid the disciple’s skill is insufficient.”
“I know that,” Hong Qigong said, “But we are in a desperate situation, we have to take a risk. Do you still have the dagger given by Qiu Chuji on you?” A cold light flashed in the dark night; Guo Jing took out his dagger. Hong Qigong said, “With the Vacant Fist technique, use this dagger to cut down some trees.” Guo Jing held his dagger by the hilt, the thin blade was only about one foot long. He was doubtful and did not say anything.
Hong Qigong said, “The 18-Dragon Subduing Palms I passed on to you is the pinnacle of the external type of martial art; that Vacant Fist is a very profound inner type of martial art. Your dagger can cut through metal and carve jade; what would be the problem of cutting tree trunk? The important thing is, your hand strength must follow the ‘kong’ [empty] and ‘song’ [loose] principles.”
Guo Jing pondered about it for half a day. Hong Qigong also gave him some more directions. Finally he understood. He jumped down the tree and went to find a medium size pine tree. With the Vacant Fist method of exerting energy, as if with force and without force, he lightly struck the trunk and sure enough the dagger went through the tree trunk. He exerted his strength and cut around the trunk; that tree fell down immediately. Guo Jing was ecstatic, with the same method he cut dozens on trees one after another. Looked like before daybreak he would be able to cut down a hundred lumbers.
While he was cutting trees, suddenly he heard Hong Qigong called out, “Jing’er, come up here.”
Guo Jing leaped up to the platform. “It really worked,” he said, “I did not even use too much energy.”
“Certainly we can’t waste our energy, can we?” Hong Qigong said.
“That’s right! That’s right!” Guo Jing exclaimed, “Now I understand the ‘kong meng dong song’ principle. Big Brother Zhou had explained it to me, but I did not understand it.”
“This martial art is more than enough to cut down trees,” Hong Qigong said, “But it is still far from adequate to fight the Western Poison. You must train in the Nine Yin Manual again, only then will you have a chance to defeat him. Let us think of some way to buy some time.” Speaking about plan and strategy, Guo Jing could only stay silent, letting his master to think.
After a long time, Hong Qigong shook his head and said, “I can’t think of anything good. Let us wait till tomorrow, perhaps Rong’er can come up with some clever ideas. Jing’er, listening to you reciting the Nine Yin Manual I had a thought; I believe I am not wrong. Help me get down this tree, I am going to practice my martial art.”
Guo Jing was shocked. “Your injury is not healed yet, how can you train?” he asked.
Hong Qigong answered, “The Manual said, ‘The body is cultivated two-folds; namely movement and stillness. Being attacked but stay still.’ These sentences had opened my eyes. Let us go down.”
Guo Jing did not understand the meaning of these sentences, but he did not dare to defy his master; hence he propped his master’s body and gently jumped down the tree.
Hong Qigong calmed himself down, then opened up his arms and launched a palm strike. In the darkness Guo Jing saw his master’s body was staggering forward like he was falling down. Guo Jing rushed forward to help, but Hong Qigong had already steadied himself. His breathing was heavy, but he said, “I am alright.”
A moment later he launched a left palm strike. Guo Jing saw him staggering along, his feet stumbled; he appeared to be extremely exhausted. Guo Jing fought hard the urge to rush forward and help his master; who would have thought that the more Hong Qigong practiced, the stronger he became. Initially he had to catch his breath for every single stance he launched, but afterwards he was able to launch several stances in succession; his footsteps were getting steadier as well. It was a tremendous improvement. Hong Qigong launched the whole set of ’18-dragon subduing fist’, followed by a set of ‘fu hu quan’ [crouching tiger fist].
Guo Jing waited until he finished, then he shouted happily, “You are healed!”
“Help me back up,” Hong Qigong said.
Guo Jing wrapped his arm around his master’s waist and jumped up to the platform. His delight was unspeakable, he mumbled repeatedly, “Very good! Very good!”
Hong Qigong sighed and said, “Not so good, this martial art is only good to behold, it’s actually useless.” Guo Jing did not understand, Hong Qigong explained, “After suffering an injury, all I did was resting, trying to recuperate. It never occurred to me that my martial art is of the external type; the more I move the better. It’s too bad I realized it way too late; now although my life will be spared, but my martial art will be very difficult to be restored.”
Guo Jing wanted to utter some words of comfort, but he did not know what to say; so after a while he simply said, “I’ll go down and chop some more trees.”
“Jing’er,” Hong Qigong suddenly said, “I think I have an idea to intimidate the Old Poison. See if you agree with me.” And then he explained his idea. Guo Jing was delighted, “Splendid! Splendid!” he exclaimed; and immediately jumped down the tree to make preparations.
Early in the morning the next day, Ouyang Feng came under the tree. He counted the lumber Guo Jing chopped down and found only ninety of them. He coldly laughed and shouted, “Little bastard [the same ‘za zhong’ as in Ode to Gallantry]! Quickly roll down here! Where are the other ten?”
Huang Rong had spent the entire night by Ouyang Ke’s side, tending his injury. Listening to his pitiful groaning she felt sorry for him. That morning Ouyang Feng left the cave, she followed behind. Hearing his loud shouts she was worried for Guo Jing.
Ouyang Feng waited for a moment, but nothing was heard from the tree above, except some gust of winds coming out from the distant hill. It sounded like somebody was practicing martial art. Hastily he followed the source of the sound. When he turned on the hillside, what he saw surprised him. Hong Qigong was sparring with Guo Jing; palms and kicks flew toward each other, they were engaged in a tight fight.
Huang Rong saw her master not only was able to walk unaided, but it looked like his skill was restored as well; she was pleasantly surprised. She heard him shouted, “Jing’er, careful with this next stance!” and he launched a palm strike.