The Legend of the Condor Heroes – Chapter 23

In the midst of this chatter, they arrived at the village. The village center looked very desolate and dilapidated, with only a wine shop banner hanging off a pole at the eastern corner of the village, looking approximately like the village inn. The three people arrived in front of the inn, and saw two desks under the eaves, on top of which lay an extremely thick lair of dust. Zhou Botong yelled “Hey!” loudly several times, and a young girl of indeterminate age with dishevelled hair and clothing came out from the inner hall. She opened her eyes and gave the three a blank, lifeless stare. Huang Rong ordered wine and food, but the girl just shook her head continuously. Zhou Botong said: “Here you have neither wine nor food, what kind of shop are you running?” The girl shook her head and replied: “I don’t know.” Zhou Botong replied: “Ai, you really are a silly girl.” The girl grinned and laughed, saying: “That’s right, I’m called Silly Girl.” The three of them laughed and understood. Huang Rong went to take a look at the inner hall and the kitchen, finding it full of dust and cobwebs, with a few pots and other old stuff. On the bed was a torn mat. One couldn’t help but feel sympathy and sorrow. She returned outside and inquired: “Is it just you living here?”

Silly Girl smiled and nodded. Huang Rong asked again: “What about your mother?” Silly Girl replied: “Dead!” and wiped her hands across her eyes in imitation of somebody grieving. Huang Rong asked again: “What about your father?” Silly Girl shook her head, indicating she didn’t know. They saw her face and hands were filthy, with long fingernails filled up with black crud. Who knows how long it had been since she had washed her face and hands. Huang Rong said sadly: “Even if she were to cook, we wouldn’t be able to eat it.” She asked: “Do you have any rice?” Silly Girl smiled and nodded, producing half a jar of unpolished rice. Huang Rong immediately washed the rice and began preparing the meal. Guo Jing returned to the west side of the village and bought two fish and a chicken. By the time everything was prepared, it was already dark. Huang Rong brought out the food and placed it on one of the tables, and searched for an oil lamp, but Silly Girl again shook her head, indicating there was none.

Huang Rong took some firewood and lighted a fire in the furnace; then tried to find some bowls and chopsticks in the cupboard. She opened the cupboard’s door and a foul stench attacked her nostrils. She took a lighted wood and saw there were about seven, eight tattered bowls. Inside and around the bowls were dozens of died insects off all kinds. Guo Jing helped her fetch the bowls.

“Wash them thoroughly then get some tree branches to use as chopsticks,” Huang Rong said. Guo Jing mumbled his compliance and took the bowls outside.

Huang Rong stretched her hand to pick the last bowl, and immediately she felt a difference. This bowl was cold, colder than regular porcelain bowls; she tried to pick it up, but the bowl did not budge, liked it was nailed to the cupboard. Huang Rong was astonished. She was afraid she might break the bowl, so she did not dare to use too much strength. She tried it one more time, the bowl still refused to move. “Could it be that it has been too long that the dirt made the bowl stuck to the cupboard?” she wondered in her heart. She took a closer look and saw the bowl was covered with layers of rust; turned out it was an iron bowl.

Huang Rong let out a soft laugh, she thought, “I have seen rice bowl made of gold, silver and jade; but I have never even heard of rice bowl made of iron.” She exerted her strength and lifted the bowl up, but still the bowl did not move. She was more surprised, she thought that with her strength, even if the bowl was nailed down to the shelf, the shelf would be cracked. Then she had another thought, “Could it be that the shelf is also made of iron?” She stretched her middle finger to tap the shelf, she heard a metallic sound; the shelf was indeed made of iron.

Her curiosity was piqued and she tried lifting the bowl again but the bowl was still motionless. She tried turning the bowl to the left, still she did not perceive any movement; she tried turning it to the right, and felt some looseness. She tried turning it harder, the bowl moved. Suddenly she heard a cracking sound, the cupboard opened to both sides, revealing a dark hole behind it. An even fouler stench came out of the hole; making her almost threw up.

Huang Rong let out an “Ah!” and quickly leaped to the side. Guo Jing and Zhou Botong heard her cry and immediately came in to see the dark hole.

Huang Rong thought out loud, “Is it possible that this is a clandestine inn? That Shagu could be just pretending to be insane.” She handed over the lighted branch to Guo Jing, then walked to Shagu, trying to grab her hand. Shagu waved her hand trying to avoid her grab, and counterattacked by sending her palm toward Huang Rong’s shoulder. Even though Huang Rong had guessed she did not have a good intention, but she had never expected this incoming palm carried a powerful technique. She could not help but feeling slightly startled. Her left hand formed a hook and her right hand grabbed forward, she launched two strikes in succession.

Ever since she mastered the ‘yi jin duan gu bian’ [chapter on changing muscle forging bone] from the Nine Yin Manual, her speed and strength increased tremendously. With a loud slap Shagu cried out for her right arm was hit, but her attack did not slow down; she counterattacked with two stances one after another. After several more stances Huang Rong was secretly astonished; Shagu’s movements were actually the Peach Blossom Island’s basic skill of ‘bi bo zhang fa’ [jade-green waves palm technique]. Although it was somewhat shallow, but it was actually the foundation of all Peach Blossom Island’s martial arts; every disciple had to learn it. Huang Rong intensified her attacks in an attempt to identify Shagu’s martial art school. But Shagu came and went and was able to resist her for six, seven stances.

The situation was almost like when Guo Jing fought Liang Ziweng with only one stance, namely The Proud Dragon Repents; but actually her strength was greatly inferior to Guo Jing; moreover, her palm technique was so straightforward and did not have the simplest variation. It was beyond everybody’s expectation that in this remote village there was a clandestine wine shop with a filthy and poor girl who could fight Huang Rong for more than ten stances.

Zhou Botong found all these things were very amusing; he saw the gust of wind from Huang Rong’s palm was swift and fierce, while Shagu repeatedly cried out, “Aiyo!” while resisting Huang Rong’s attack; Zhou Botong shouted, “Hey! Rong’er, don’t harm her life; let me fight her.” Ever since he heard Hong Qigong and Guo Jing were calling her ‘Rong’er’ along the way, while Rong’er herself did not seem to mind, he thought he did not need to be polite by calling her ‘Huang guniang’ or ‘Huang xiaojie’ [both mean Miss (or Lady) Huang].

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