Both of Guo Jing’s feet sank deep into the mud; moreover, he did not dare to use too much strength and accidentally injure her, so after about only four or five stances he was already at a disadvantage. He heard a swishing sound of mud coming toward his face; hastily he dodged sideways. Who would have thought that as the first mud flew past; the second mud had arrived, followed by the third handful of mud, which hit him squarely on his face so that his mouth, nose and eyes were covered in stinky mud.
The Six Freaks of Jiangnan had taught him well, so he knew if he was hit by a secret projectile, he must not frantically trying to pull out the projectile, because then the enemy would seize the opportunity to assault and make a kill. At this moment he could not breathe and could not open his eyes; he moved his palms and launched three fierce stances so no one would be able to come within five feet near him. Just then he wiped the mud from his face with his left hand and opened his eyes; but Ying Gu had already leaped up to the stone bridge and dashed toward the meditation courtyard.
As Ying Gu successfully went through Guo Jing she secretly scolded herself, “Ashamed! If there were no pond, how would I overcome this dumb kid? It looks like the Heaven is helping me to seek revenge today.”
She sped up her steps and arrived at the temple door shortly. She raised her hand to push; the door was not bolted, it opened immediately with a soft creaking sound. This time she did not rush in, expecting an ambush or some booby trap on the door. She waited outside the door only to see the room was empty, nothing astir. Slowly Ying Gu entered the room. She saw it was a meditation room with a single oil lamp illuminating the image of Buddha with a dignified face. Ying Gu’s heart turned sour, she knelt on the meditation mat and offered a silent prayer.
She just barely prayed for a short moment when suddenly she heard someone chuckle softly behind her. Immediately her left hand flung backward in a sweeping movement to block any potential sneak attack, while her right hand pushed down the mediation mat, borrowing the momentum to leap upward and made a graceful somersault in the air before landing back down to the ground.
“Excellent skill!” she heard a woman’s voice applaud. Ying Gu turned to look and saw a young girl wearing green clothes with red belt around her waist and a bunch of golden hoops flickering under the lamp light on her hair, her pair of beautiful eyes stared at Ying Gu with a hint of smile in them; there was a gleaming dark green bamboo stick in her hand. Needless to say, it was Huang Rong. “Senior Ying Gu, I thank you for your kindness in saving my life,” she said.
“I gave you directions to treat your injury, but my real intention was to harm others,” Ying Gu said matter-of-factly, “So I really was not saving your life. Why should you thank me?”
Huang Rong sighed, “Vengeance and debt of kindness is really difficult to understand. My father imprisoned the Old Urchin Zhou Botong on the Peach Blossom Island for fifteen years. In the end he still could not save my mother’s life.”
As she heard the name ‘Zhou Botong’ was mentioned, Ying Gu was extremely shocked. “What relation did your mother have with Zhou Botong?” she asked sternly.
Hearing her tone Huang Rong knew she suspected Zhou Botong had some love affair with her mother and consequently was imprisoned by her father on the Peach Blossom Island. Apparently even after more than a dozen years her feeling toward Zhou Botong did not subside; otherwise why would she drink vinegar over nothing?
Lowering her head, in a mournful voice Huang Rong said, “My mother died of exhaustion due to the Old Urchin.”
Ying Gu was more suspicious than ever. Under the dim light she could see Huang Rong’s skin was as white as snow, her eyes and eyebrows were beautiful; even Ying Gu in her prime years was not as beautiful as she was. She deducted that Huang Rong’s mother must also be beautiful; it would be difficult for Zhou Botong to see her and not be attracted to her. Ying Gu frowned involuntarily.
“Don’t you have any ideas,” Huang Rong said, “My mother is like an angel; that Zhou Botong is as stupid and stubborn as a cow. Unless the woman has eyes but fails to see, nobody would have a crush on him.”
Ying Gu knew Huang Rong was mocking her, but her suspicion was gone; she was instantly relieved. Without batting an eyelid she coldly retorted, “Since there is someone who loves Guo Jing who is as stupid as a pig, there must be someone who loves a man as stupid and stubborn as a cow. How did the Old Urchin cause your mother’s death?”
Huang Rong pouted and said, “You scold my martial brother; I won’t talk to you.” She brushed her sleeve and turned around, pretending to be mad.
Ying Gu really wanted to know about Zhou Botong, so she busily said, “All right, I won’t do that anymore. Your martial brother is actually very smart.”
Huang Rong halted her steps and turned around. “That Old Urchin did not intentionally cause my mother’s death,” she said, “It was very unfortunate of my mother to die because of him. In his anger my father imprisoned him on the Peach Blossom Island; but afterwards my father regretted it. Injustice has its cause, debt has its originator. If someone killed your loved one you should go to the ends of the earth to seek vengeance on the murderer. Why would you vent your anger toward others?”
This speech was like a severe blow on Ying Gu’s head; she stood still without making any noise. She heard Huang Rong continue, “My father had long ago freed the Old Urchin …” Ying Gu was pleasantly surprised, “Then I don’t have to rescue him?” she asked.
Huang Rong smiled, “If my father had not released him, were you going to rescue the Old Urchin?” she asked. Ying Gu was silent.
When Ying Gu left Dali her intention was to look for Zhou Botong. The first few years was spent without hearing any news about him. Then quite by accident she heard from the Twin Killers of the Dark Wind that Zhou Botong was imprisoned on the Peach Blossom Island by Huang Yaoshi; but as for the reason behind it she could not inquire. That day when Zhou Botong renounced her and left Dali she knew that it would be very difficult for him to have a change of heart if not because of some significant cause. This time as she learned about his predicament she was both happy and sad at the same time; sad because the man she loved was in trouble, happy because she thought this was a good opportunity. If she managed to rescue him, how could he not have deep affection toward her? Who would have thought that the roads and pathways on the Peach Blossom Island had a thousand turns and a hundred detours? No need to mention rescuing anybody, she almost died of starvation for three days and three nights. If Huang Yaoshi did not send a deaf and mute servant to show her the way, she would never leave that island alive. Thereupon she made the Black Marsh her residence, diligently learning math and theory of numbers. Now she heard that Zhou Botong had been released she stared blankly with all kinds of thoughts bubbling up in her heart.