The Return of the Condor Heroes – Chapter 14

The importance of ethical code.

The banquet opened again at the Lu manor, wine and many dishes were once again prepared. Yang Guo had suffered a lifetime of wrongs, mistreatment and being looked down upon, and today he had displayed himself well. He got rid of his anger, everyone’s eyes were opened as he achieved great merit for the central plain’s Wulin, he was extremely proud of himself.

Xiao Longnu did not understand the ways of the world, though she didn’t understand the reason for Yang Guo’s delight, she too was extremely happy. Huang Rong liked her very much, she held her hand as she asked short and long questions, wanting Xiao Longnu to sit next to her.

Xiao Longnu saw that Yang Guo was sitting in between Guo Jing and Diancang Yuyin, faraway from her, she quickly motioned her hand and said, “Guo’er, sit next to me.”

But Yang Guo knew that girls and boys have their differences, at first when he saw her, he forgot about this and showed his true feelings, now in front of the glare of all these heroes, it would be improper to show this closeness again. When he heard her call out like this, he couldn’t stop himself from blushing and smiled slightly but he didn’t go over.

Xiao Longnu called out again; “Guo’er, why aren’t you coming?”

Yang Guo said, “I’m fine over here, Uncle Guo is talking to me.”

Xiao Longnu’s elegant brows frowned and said, “I want you to sit next to me.”

When Yang Guo saw her angry expression, his heart shook, that slightly angry look made him feel if he were to die, he would die willingly.

That day when he met Lu Wushuang, he used all his might to defend her against her enemies and protected her for thousands of miles because of the resemblance of her angry expression to Xiao Longnu’s. Now the real person is here, how could he defy her? He immediately stood up and went over to her place.

The way the two acted made Huang Rong slightly suspicious. She ordered another chair and asked Yang Guo; “Guo’er, who taught you kung fu?”

Yang Guo pointed to Xiao Longnu and said, “She is my Master. Auntie Guo, why don’t you believe me?”

Huang Rong knew that he was crafty and sly, she saw that Xiao Longnu was innocent and naïve, she thought that she wouldn’t lie so she turned her head and asked her, “Sister, his kung fu was taught by you?”

Xiao Longnu was very proud and said, “Yes. Tell me, did I teach him well?”

Huang Rong now believed it and said, “Extremely well! Sister, who was your Master?”

Xiao Longnu said, “My Master is dead.” As she said this, her eyes went red, she was feeling rather sad. Her Master had taught her to curb her emotions but now her love for Yang Guo had surfaced, the emotions buried deeply within her heart also started to slowly show.

Huang Rong asked, “What is your Master’s name?”

Xiao Longnu shook her head and said, “I don’t know, Master is Master.”

Huang Rong thought that she didn’t want to say, refusing to mention the matters involving their sect’s Master was common within the Wulin community so she didn’t ask further.

In reality, her Master was just Lin Chaoying’s maid, she only had the name that Lin Chaoying gave her, and even she herself did not know what her surname was.

At this time, all the heroes gave a toast towards Guo Jing, Huang Rong, Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu, celebrating the fact that they defeated such a strong opponent as Jinlun Fawang.

Because Guo Fu was always by her parent’s side, she had the respect of others, right now she was being overshadowed, and she couldn’t stop from feeling depressed. Apart from the Wu brothers by her side who revered her, no one took any notice of her. She felt annoyed, she said, “Big brother Wu, little Brother Wu, let’s go outside and play instead of drinking wine.”

Wu Dunru and Wu Xiuwen both agreed. The three of them stood up and were about to leave the hall when Guo Jing suddenly called out, “Fu’er, come over here.” She turned her head and saw that her father had changed places and was now sitting at the same table as her mother, smiling and signaling her over so she went and called out, “Father, mother!” and leaned on Huang Rong.

Guo Jing smiled and said to Huang Rong, “At first you were worried about Guo’er’s character and were afraid that his martial arts weren’t up to scratch, you can’t say anything now, can you? He has achieved a great merit for the heroes of Wulin, without saying that he hasn’t done anything wrong. Even if he had, it cannot compare to what he has done today.”

Huang Rong nodded, she smiled and said, “It was my mistake, Guo’er’s character and martial arts both are good, I am very pleased as well.”

Guo Jing heard that his wife had now agreed about their daughter’s marriage and was delighted, he said to Xiao Longnu, “Miss Long, your disciple’s father and I are sworn brothers. The Yang’s and Guo’s have had a great relationship for generations, I have a daughter, her beauty and martial arts are both passable…” He had always been straight forward, whatever is in his heart will be said.

Huang Rong interrupted, she smiled and said, “Ai ya, who praises their own child like that, you’re not afraid of making sister Long laugh.”

Guo Jing laughed and followed on, “I wish to betroth my daughter to your disciple. Both his parents have passed away, the responsibility of making the decision is now passed onto Miss Long. I want to take the opportunity with all these heroes here, to add another celebration on top of the last one. Let’s ask two heroes of a venerable age and eminent virtue to be the matchmakers, and arrange the marriage, how about that?”

Marriage is decided by the orders of the parents and the words of the matchmakers, the boy and girl don’t actually have a say. This is why, years ago, there was the matter of an arranged marriage decided by Guo Jing’s father Guo Xiaotian and Yang Guo’s grandfather Yang Tiexin for their children.

When Guo Jing said this, he laughed out loud and looked at Yang Guo and his daughter, thinking that Xiao Longnu will definitely agree to this. Guo Fu was already embarrassed, her face was red and she hid in her mother’s arms, she felt this was inappropriate but she didn’t dare to say anything.

Xiao Longnu’s face changed slightly and before she replied, Yang Guo stood up and gave a prolonged bow to Guo Jing and Huang Rong and he said, “The gratitude that I have for Uncle Guo’s and Auntie Guo’s love and care would be impossible to repay. But nephew is from an ordinary family, my character is lowly, I am not worthy for your precious daughter.”

Guo Jing thought that because he and his wife are famous throughout the Wulin world, and his daughter’s character, beauty and kung fu are first class, now that he’s personally saying that he wants to betroth her to him, he thought he would definitely be ecstatic. He couldn’t have known that he would reject this, he couldn’t help being startled. Then had another thought; it must be because he is young, it was unexpected and he wanted to postpone it. Guo Jing gave a laugh and said, “Guo’er, the two of us aren’t exactly strangers, this matter involves your future, there is no need to be embarrassed.”

Yang Guo gave another deep bow to him and said, “If Uncle Guo has any other requests, nephew here will oblige without delay. But I dare not comply with this request of marriage.”

Guo Jing saw that his face was serious and he was surprised, he looked at his wife in hope that she would explain it.

Inside, Huang Rong blamed Guo Jing for being so straightforward. Without checking beforehand, he openly raised this matter in front of all these people, making a big mistake. She saw that the way Xiao Longnu and Yang Guo treated each other was like a couple in love, but they said they were Master and disciple, could it be that the two act in a manner contrary to the norm and have actually intermixed the relationships?

This was something that was extremely hard to believe, she thought that although Yang Guo may not be a man of honour, he would not do such a thing as this. The Song respect tradition above all; the relationship between Master and disciple were like that of an emperor and his minister, a father and son, they can never intermix. Though Huang Rong suspected it, this matter was so serious that she didn’t dare to believe it so she asked Yang Guo, “Guo’er, Miss Long really is your Master?”

Yang Guo said, “Yes!”

Huang Rong asked again, “You’ve kowtowed and gone through the ceremony of entering a Master’s tutelage?”

Yang Guo said, “Yes.”

His mouth was replying to Huang Rong but his eyes were fixed on Xiao Longnu, his face filled with joy, tenderness, love and affection. Without mentioning how clever and wise Huang Rong was, even an ordinary person could tell that the two’s relationship was not a normal Master and disciple relationship.

Guo Jing did not understand what Huang Rong was doing, thinking, “He has already said that Miss Long is his Master, their kung fu is from the same school, what’s untrue about that? I was talking about our daughter’s marriage, why did Rong’er ask them whether they were Master and disciple again? Ah, he first entered Quanzhen sect and then entered another sect later on, though it’s not according to the rules of Wulin, it’s not that difficult a thing to clear up.

Huang Rong was secretly alarmed at Yang Guo’s and Xiao Longnu’s expressions, she signaled with her eyes towards her husband and said, “Fu’er is still young; why is there a need to rush things? Today the heroes of the world are amassed here, it’s more important to discuss how to protect the country. Let’s put aside our personal matters.”

Guo Jing thought this was correct so he quickly said, “Yes, yes. I almost put my personal affairs over public matters. Miss Long, we’ll carry on discussing Guo’er’s and my daughter’s marriage at a later date.”

Xiao Longnu shook her head, “I myself will be Guo’er’s wife,” she said, “He cannot take your daughter as his wife.”

Those two sentences were crisp and clear, hundreds of people in the hall heard this. Guo Jing was startled, he stood up and didn’t believe his eyes, he saw her holding Yang Guo’s hand, looking affectionate towards him, he had to believe it, he stuttered, “He’s… he’s your disc… disc… disciple, could it be that he’s not?”

Xiao Longnu had lived in the ancient tomb for a long time; she was not exposed to the sunlight, because of this there were no traces of color in her cheeks and her was skin permanently white. But right now her heart was filled with joy and delight; her face looked tender and enchanting, just like when a flower first blooms. She smiled and said, “Yes! I taught him kung fu but now his kung fu is as strong as mine. He loves me in his heart and I love him. Before…” As she reached this point she lowered her voice, though she was very innocent, the embarrassment and shyness of girls began to show, she said gently, “Before… I thought that he didn’t love me, he didn’t want me to be his wife, my… my heart was in unbearable pain and I thought death would be better. But today, I know that he really loves me, I… I…”

Hundreds of people in the hall were silent, listening to her revealing her feelings. Even if a girl is filled with love, how could she tell it all in public? And how could she tell it to Guo Jing who had nothing to do with it? But she does not know anything about customs, tradition and the conduct of others, she just felt that these words needed to be said and immediately came out with them.

Yang Guo was extremely moved by her words of love but he looked at the crowd, some were startled and surprised, some looked awkward and some did not approve. He thought that Xiao Longnu was too unknowing, she shouldn’t have said this in this place, he pulled her hand and stood up, he softly said, “Gu Gu, let’s leave!”

Xiao Longnu said, “Yes!”

The two of them headed towards the exit shoulder to shoulder, though the hall was filled with people, in Xiao Longnu’s eyes there was only Yang Guo.

Guo Jing and Huang Rong looked at each other startled, the couple had been through countless strange events, endured many dangers, but they could never have predicted what was happening right now. For the time being, they didn’t know what to do.

Xiao Longnu and Yang Guo were about to leave the hall when Huang Rong called out, “Miss Long, you’re the Chancellor of Wulin, everyone is under your command, you need to think this over.”

Xiao Longnu turned her head and showed a smile, she said, “I don’t know how to be whatever Chancellor, sister if you want it, then you take the position.”

Huang Rong said, “No, if you want to elect someone else, then you ought to elect senior Chief Hong.”

The Chancellor of Wulin is the most revered position in the view of martial artists, but Xiao Longnu couldn’t have cared less and just replied, “Just do whatever you want, I don’t understand it anyway.” She pulled Yang Guo’s hand and headed for the exit again.

Suddenly there was a gust of wind, the candlelight swayed, and a person darted out. The person was dressed in a Taoist gown, a long sword in his hand; it was the Quanzhen Taoist Zhao Zhijing. He blocked the exit with his sword and said loudly, “Yang Guo, you disobeyed your Master and showed disrespect for Quanzhen’s founder, and today you have done such a monstrous thing, how can you still have the nerve to stand on this earth? As long as Zhao has one breath in him, I will not allow it.”

Yang Guo did not want to argue with this person in front of everyone, he deepened his voice and said, “Move!”

Zhao Zhijing said, “Apprentice brother Zhen, come over, you have a say as well, that night on Mount Zhongnan we saw with our eyes two people naked, what’s all that about?”

Zhen Zhibing stood up shakily, his left arm rose. People could see that the last two fingers on his hand were missing; though they didn’t know the intricacies of the situation, but judging from the way his body froze and the strange expression on his face, they knew that there must be something more to this.

That night, Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu were practicing the “Jade Heart Manual” in the flower thicket when Zhao and Zhen saw them. Yang Guo had forced Zhao Zhijing to take up a venomous oath, he couldn’t tell this matter to a fifth person, how could he have known that today, Zhao Zhijing would belittle and accuse them without restraint in front of everyone, Yang Guo was extremely furious, he shouted, “You swore an oath, you are forbidden to reveal this to a fifth person, why are you now… why…”

Zhao Zhijing laughed and said loudly, “Correct, I swore I won’t reveal this to a fifth person but in front of me there is a sixth, a seventh. It’s not a fifth person when there’s hundreds and thousands present. Naturally, I can tell everyone about this immoral thing that you two did.”

Zhao Zhijing had seen the two naked, in the middle of the night in a flower thicket, how could he think that they were practicing advanced martial arts? It came out now due to anger, and he didn’t care if he was falsely accusing them or not.

That night, Xiao Longnu was so angry that she threw up a pool of blood, almost losing her life. Now she heard him twisting his words and arguing his way, she couldn’t stand it any longer, she stretched out her hand and lightly grabbed his chest, she said, “You’d better stop talking rubbish.” She had completed the “Jade Heart Manual” and now the palm came out of nowhere, that, plus the fact that the “Jade Heart Manual” is the Black Star (the matching opposite) of Quanzhen’s kung fu made the move extraordinary. Xiao Longnu’s hand had went through Zhao Zhijing’s urgent attempt to repel it, grabbing his chest.

Zhao Zhijing blocked thin air and was startled, but the opponent’s palm just touched his chest briefly and then immediately departed, he didn’t feel anything and didn’t take it to heart, he chuckled and said, “Why are you touching me? I’m not…” Before he finished, he’s eyes suddenly went blank, a ‘peng’ sound was heard as he fell onto the ground, he had suffered a severe injury.

When Sun Bu’Er and Hao Datong saw their martial nephew hurt, they dashed forward to see his chi and blood had been forced upwards, his face was completely red as if he was drunk. Sun Bu’Er chuckled and said, “Fine, your Ancient Tomb sect really wants to start something with my Quanzhen sect.” She held out a long sword, about to start a fight with Xiao Longnu.

Guo Jing urgently got out of his seat and stood between the two, he said, “We’re on the same side, stop this fighting.” He said to Yang Guo, “Guo’er, both sides are your Master and elders. Advise them to return to their seats, and then we can quietly clear things up.”

Xiao Longnu had never thought that such a thing as not keeping to your word and breaking a promise existed, she was really troubled, she pulled Yang Guo’s hand with a frown, saying, “Guo’er, let’s leave, we won’t see these people ever again!”

Yang Guo followed her lead and took two steps forward.

Sun Bu’Er’s sword moved and she shouted, “You’ve hurt someone and now you want to leave?”

Guo Jing saw that both sides were about to fight, he said seriously, “Guo’er, you must stop your feet, you must be a good person, don’t destroy yourself and your name. I was the one who named you; do you know what the word ‘Guo’ means?”

When Yang Guo heard this, his heart trembled, he suddenly remembered all the events from when he was a child, thinking about all the sad and painful events he’s been through, and then he thought, “How come it was Uncle Guo who named me?”

Guo Jing loved Yang Guo very much, it was unavoidable that he would want to plead and scold him deeply and severely. Today he saw Yang Guo show himself in front of all these heroes, he was feeling delight and content when he suddenly found out that Yang Guo had done something he should never have done. His heart was anxious and urgent, his tone was especially strict, he continued, “Your deceased mother must have told you this before, your name is ‘Guo’, what are the words that accompanies it?”

Yang Guo remembered that his mother had told him this before, but then he was young, no one had used these words in regards him, he himself almost forgot it. Yang Guo replied, “They’re ‘Gai Zhi’.”

Guo Jing said with a severe tone, “Correct, and what does it mean?”

Yang Guo thought for a while and remembered the literature that Huang Rong had taught him when he was younger, he said, “Uncle Guo is saying that ‘if I have made mistakes then I must correct them’.”

Guo Jing’s tone now became gentler, he said, “Guo’er, people make mistakes, mistakes can be changed; this is the greatest advice. They are the words of the first virtuous men and sages. You’ve been disrespectful towards your seniors; this is a big mistake, think well about it.”

Yang Guo said, “If I was wrong, of course I would change. But he…” He pointed to Zhao Zhijing and said, “He beat me, insulted me, lied to me and hated me, how can he still be my Master? Gu Gu and I are clean and innocent, the day can be our witness. I respect her, and love her, could it be that’s wrong?” He said this boldly, with justice on his side.

Guo Jing’s intelligence and verbal ability couldn’t compare with his, how could he argue with him? But he knew that his actions were very wrong yet he didn’t know how to tell him clearly, he could only say, “This… this… you’re wrong…”

Huang Rong walked forward slowly and softly said, “Guo’er, Uncle Guo is looking out for your well being, you must understand this.”

Yang Guo was moved by her soft and gentle words; he lowered his voice and said, “I know that Uncle Guo has always treated me extremely well.” His eyes became red, he almost cried.

Huang Rong said, “He’s giving you sincere advice, don’t take this the wrong way.”

Yang Guo said, “I don’t understand, what, exactly, have I done wrong?”

Huang Rong’s face sank and said, “You really don’t understand, or are you deliberately stirring things up?”

Yang Guo was angry in his heart, he thought, “You have treated me well, I have paid you back well, what more do you want from me?” He bit down on his lips and didn’t reply.

Huang Rong said, “Fine, since you want me to tell you the truth, I won’t go around in circles. Since Miss Long is your Master, she is your senior, you cannot be lovers.”

This rule was not unheard of by Yang Guo as it was by Xiao Longnu, but he couldn’t accept it; why couldn’t Gu Gu be his wife just because she taught him some kung fu? Why even Uncle Guo doesn’t believe that he and Gu Gu have done anything immoral? When he thought about this, his anger erupted. He was already someone who wasn’t afraid of neither heaven nor earth; now that he’s being accused, he was even bolder and loudly said, “What have I done that has hindered you people? Who have I hurt? Gu Gu has taught me kung fu but I still want her to be my wife. Even if you chop me up into a thousand pieces I will still want her to be my wife.”

These words shocked and startled those who heard it. The Song at that time adhered to customs and traditions strictly; where on earth have they heard such fearless, wanton and rebellious logic? The person that Guo Jing respected the most was his Master, when he heard this, his anger erupted and he dashed forward, stretching out his arm, grabbing his chest.

Xiao Longnu was shocked and stretched out her hand to block this grab. Guo Jing’s martial arts were much stronger than Xiao Longnu’s and now he was furious; he used all his strength, a lead and a wave and he had flung her over ten feet away. He stretched out his arm and grabbed Yang Guo’s ‘Celestial Charge’ pressure point; with his left hand raised he shouted, “You animal, you dare to say such heresy?”

Yang Guo’s lost all his strength by this grab, but there wasn’t a shred of fear in his heart, he said, “Gu Gu loves me with all her heart; I treat her the same way. Uncle Guo, if you want to kill me then do it. But I will never change my mind.”

Guo Jing said, “I treat you like my own son, I cannot allow you to do wrong and not change.”

Yang Guo said proudly and boldly, “I haven’t done anything wrong! I haven’t done anything bad! I haven’t harmed anyone!” Those words were like the sounds of metal clanging.

Everyone’s heart shook when they heard this; his words really did have some reason in them. If a Master and disciple didn’t say anything and they got married on some remote island or deserted location then no one would know about it, it would not affect anyone. But publicly announcing such a wrong really contradicts the mentality of the people of this time, and means becoming the scum of Wulin.

Guo Jing raised his palm and mournfully said, “Guo’er, my heart is in great pain, do you understand? I’d rather you die than let you do bad things, do you understand?” As he reached this point, his voice choked.

When Yang Guo heard him say this, he knew that if he didn’t change what he said, Uncle Guo would kill him with one palm. Though he was crafty and sly at times, at this point, nothing could compare with his stubbornness, he said clearly, “I know I haven’t done anything wrong, if you don’t believe it then kill me.”

Guo Jing raised his palm; what chance has he of living if the palm landed on his head? Everyone watched without making a sound, hundreds of eyes stared at his palm.

Guo Jing’s palm stopped in midair for a second and he looked at Yang Guo again. He was biting down on his lips, his brows wrinkled. What Guo Jing saw was the picture of his father, Yang Kang, from years ago. His heart ached and he let out a long sigh, he loosened his right hand and said, “Think well about what you’re doing.” He turned around and went back to his place; he didn’t take another glance at Yang Guo, his face was full of hurt and grief. He was extremely disheartened.

Xiao Longnu signaled to him with her hand and said, “Guo’er, these people are extremely unreasonable, let’s go.” She didn’t know that just now, Yang Guo’s life was hanging by a thread.

Yang Guo thought that the word ‘unreasonable’ was extremely apt, he stepped towards the exit, holding Xiao Longnu’s hand as they went out. Outside the manor, they lead the skinny horse along as they made their way.

Everyone watched their backs as they left, a few were shocked, others despised them, some were regretful and a number of them were angry.

Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu walked shoulder to shoulder; it was deep into the night now. The two of them had finally reunited with each other; all the things that had happened today, the heated battle, the arguments, they were all clearly forgotten. They felt as though they were in heaven right now; all those wasted days they had lived apart before were in vain. Now there was no need to worry about the days that were to come. The two of them were linked to each other by thought; they didn’t exchange a word as they walked on silently. The two arrived at a willow tree and sat down by the tree trunk. They gradually grew tired and fell asleep. The skinny horse was grazing on grass faraway, making quiet neighing noises.

The sky was bright when they woke up; the two looked at each other and smiled. Yang Guo said, “Gu Gu, where are we going?”

Xiao Longnu pondered for a while and said, “Let’s go back to the tomb.” Ever since she’d left the tomb she felt that, although outside was bustling and flourishing, it wasn’t as carefree and comfortable as the tomb. Yang Guo was deep in thought, “If I could spend the rest of my life with Gu Gu in the tomb, I would have no other desires.” Before, he longed for the outside world, hoping that she would let him leave the tomb but after going outside, he too longed for the quite life in the tomb. The two of them slowly started to head north. One still called the other ‘Guo’er’, the other one still called the other ‘Gu Gu’, and they both felt that being together and calling each other this way felt the most natural.

By midday, the two started to talk about Jinlun Fawang’s martial arts, they both said that his martial arts were excellent; it would be extremely hard to defend against it.

Xiao Longnu suddenly said, “Guo’er, we haven’t completed the final stage of the “Jade Heart Manual”, can you remember it?”

Yang Guo said, “I can remember it but we spent a lot of time pondering about it and still were unable to succeed; it seems like there’s something wrong somewhere.”

Xiao Longnu said, “Originally, I didn’t understand it but last night when the Taoist nun took her precious sword out, it allowed me to remember something.”

Yang Guo recalled the stance that Sun Bu’Er used last night and immediately understood, he called out, “Ah yes, yes, it requires the kung fu of the Ancient Tomb to be used simultaneously with the kung fu of Quanzhen, no wonder we’ve been going wrong.”

When Lin Chaoying developed the “Jade Heart Manual” alone in the ancient tomb, she wanted to defeat the techniques of the Quanzhen sect; but her love for Wang Chongyang still had not been extinguished. When she devised the final stage, she imagined that one day she would be fighting shoulder to shoulder with her lover. Because of this, the stage requires one person to use the techniques of the “Jade Heart Manual”, the other Quanzhen martial arts, mutually aiding each other and attacking together. That day, Lin Chaoying was filled with thoughts of love and affection, she was wrapped up in them; all those feelings were placed into this stage.

The pair of swords being horizontal and vertical is not the main aim; the most important aspect lies in fighting the enemy together hand in hand. But it wasn’t appropriate to mark this matter of the heart down clearly on the rooms ceiling. When Xiao Longnu and Yang Guo first practiced, their love had yet to blossom; they had no way to understand what their Ancestor Grandma sought. When they studied, both of them practiced the formulae of their own sect so of course they could not grasp the intricacies within.

Both of them now understood; they went and broke off a willow branch each, and began to study the stances. Xiao Longnu slowly used the “Jade Maiden Sword”, Yang Guo used the sword techniques of Quanzhen. After many stances, they felt that it was difficult to use them together harmoniously. The two of them did not envisage that when Lin Chaoying developed this particular swordplay, she was imagining herself fighting shoulder to shoulder with Wang Chongyang against an enemy. Every stance and move was designed to mutually protect the other. Right now, when Xiao Longnu and Yang Guo were studying it, they were treating each other as the enemy, thrusting and attacking each other. Killing the opposition was not what was intended. In reality, Lin Chaoying and Wang Chongyang were the first class fighters of the world at that time; there wasn’t anyone that was a match for just one of them. This particular set of unity kung fu didn’t have much use; it was just the unrestrained imagination of Lin Chaoying, showing her heart’s feelings. When she developed this swordplay her martial arts had already reached their pinnacle; the stances, postures and power were pressing, tight and continuous, not allowing a hair to be out of place. Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu did not understand the workings within and so, of course, it would be difficult for them to achieve this final level.

The two practiced for a while but still felt that something was wrong.

Xiao Longnu said, “It could be that we’ve remembered it wrong, let’s go back to the tomb and clarify things and then practice it again.”

Yang Guo was about to reply when suddenly the sounds of horse hoofs could be heard, and then a horse galloped past. The horse had red hair, the person on it was wearing purple, and they galloped past like the wind; it was Huang Rong who was riding on the little red horse.

Yang Guo didn’t want to be troubled by the Guo family so he discussed with Xiao Longnu about changing paths and followed a small path instead so they won’t bump into them again. Xiao Longnu was the Master; but aside from martial arts, she didn’t understand anything else, she had no opinions. That night the two lodged in a small inn. Yang Guo slept on the bed, Xiao Longnu hung a rope across the room and slept on the rope. The two had decided to marry each other, but naturally they still followed the sleeping arrangements that they’d had in the tomb for years. After meeting again and practicing martial arts as they used to, when they thought about their loved one being by their side, both felt limitless delight.

By midday the next day, the two arrived at a large town. People were everywhere, horses came, carts went; it was a great atmosphere. Yang Guo took Xiao Longnu to a restaurant for something to eat; as soon as they went upstairs he was surprised as he saw Huang Rong and Wu brothers at a table eating.

Yang Guo thought that since they’ve met, it wasn’t inappropriate for him to pretend that he didn’t see them so he greeted them and called out, “Auntie Guo.”

Huang Rong frowned, her face looked anxious and worried, she asked, “Have you seen my daughter?”

Yang Guo said, “No. Isn’t sister Fu with you?”

Before Huang Rong could reply, the stairs rattled, and a group of people came up. The first person was tall and slender; it was Jinlun Fawang. Yang Guo quickly turned around and didn’t carry on speaking with Huang Rong, he quietly went over to Xiao Longnu and whispered, “Turn your back, don’t look at them.”

But Jinlun Fawang’s eyes were very sharp, all the people upstairs entered his eyes, he gave a chuckle and sat down at a table. Yang Guo was about to turn his head around when suddenly Huang Rong called out, “Fu’er!”

He couldn’t stop himself from turning his head, and saw Guo Fu sitting at the same table as Jinlun Fawang. Her eyes were staring at her mother but she didn’t dare go over.

After Jinlun Fawang failed in his plan at the Lu Manor, he was angry and couldn’t accept what had happened. He was trying to formulate a plan to turn defeat into victory; also Huo Dou had fallen victim to the Jade Bee needles. The poison was showing its effects; he tried many methods to cure this poison but none of them were effective. He had to find a way to get the antidote and so they didn’t go far and stayed in the area around the Lu Manor. It was Guo Fu who happened to meet danger; in the early morning she took the red horse out for a ride, meeting this great enemy at this time. He took her off the horse in one swipe. The little red horse was quick witted; it dashed back to the manor and hissed out in distress incessantly.

Guo Jing and the others knew that Guo Fu had met with danger; they were alarmed and immediately went out to look for her separately.

Though Huang Rong was pregnant, she still went and took the Wu brothers along to search for her. They saw Yang Guo and his Master. They didn’t guess that it was Jinlun Fawang who was detaining Guo Fu; and then they too arrived at this particular restaurant.

When Huang Rong saw her daughter, she was happy but alarmed at seeing her in the hands of the enemy. After giving one call, she didn’t say another word. Holding a pair of chopsticks in her hand and waving them about on the table, and trying to come up with a plan to save her daughter. Just as she was pondering, Jinlun Fawang suddenly said, “Chief Huang, is this your lovely daughter? Yesterday I saw her in your arms, relaxing; it was really charming.”

Huang Rong gave a ‘heng’ sound, not replying.

Wu Xiuwen stood up and shouted, “And you’re supposed to be a leader of martial artists! You lost in the duel so you went to bully someone’s young daughter, aren’t you ashamed?”

Jinlun Fawang ignored his words and continued, “Chief Huang, when we dueled yesterday, we were clearly the winner yet you people made up a lot of excuses and complications; that is not the action of good men. First give me the antidote and then we’ll set a date for a duel; we’ll compete fairly and properly for the place of the Chancellor of Wulin.”

Huang Rong gave another ‘heng’ sound, not saying a word.

Wu Xiuwen said loudly, “First release Miss Guo; we’ll deliver the antidote immediately and there’ll still be time to discuss the matter of dueling again later on.”

Huang Rong glanced over at Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu thinking, “The antidote is on them, yet you hastily promised them the antidote without knowing whether or not they’ll give it to us.”

Jinlun Fawang said, “Could it be that only you know how to use poisonous projectiles? You people used a poisonous needle to injure my disciple. I can also prick your daughter with a few poisonous needles. If you give me the antidote, then I’ll cure her here. When it comes to releasing her, I’m afraid it won’t be easy.”

Huang Rong saw that her daughter looked normal, it looks like she wasn’t hurt, but the love between a mother and daughter is deep, she didn’t know what to do. There’s a saying; ‘worry then panic’; though she was matchless in terms of coming up with ideas and plans, right now, she was at her wit’s end.

She saw the waiter bringing dishes and wine to Jinlun Fawang’s table. Jinlun Fawang and the others ate heartily, talking and laughing. Guo Fu sat there frozen, just staring at her mother, not picking up her chopsticks. Huang Rong felt as if her heart was being cut open; she disturbed her internal chi and air and suddenly her lower abdomen ached.

After Jinlun Fawang finished eating and drinking, he stood up and said, “Chief Huang, follow us.”

Huang Rong was startled and understood, not only is he going to take her daughter but he wanted to take her away as well. Right now everything was in place; she only had the Wu brothers at her side and they were not his match; she couldn’t stop her face from completely changing.

Jinlun Fawang continued, “Chief Huang, there’s no need for you to be frightened, you are an eminent person of Wulin, we will treat you with respect. Once a decision has been made about the position of Chancellor of Wulin, we will immediately return you to the south.”

When he saw Huang Rong upstairs, he knew he had a great opportunity; all he had to do was capture her and the martial artists of the central plains would have no choice but to submit. This was a hundred times better than capturing Guo Fu; this really was the deal of a lifetime that had landed on his lap. Huang Rong was worrying about her daughter and didn’t think about this possible situation.

The Wu brothers saw that their Master’s wife was distressed; they knew they weren’t a match but they couldn’t just sit there doing nothing. A pair of long swords was drawn out to protect their Master’s wife.

Huang Rong whispered, “Quickly jump out of the window, then go and find your Master for help.”

The Wu brothers glanced at her and glanced at Guo Fu, then hurried to the window.

Huang Rong secretly cursed, “Idiot, how could you allow such a delay?”

Indeed, just a little delay and it was too late. Jinlun Fawang’s long arms came sweeping out, each arm grabbing the back of a brother, like an eagle catching two little chicks. The Wu brothers urgently thrust their swords back but Jinlun Fawang didn’t move out of the way; his arms swung a little, Wu Dunru’s sword was now heading towards his little brother, Wu Xiuwen’s sword was heading towards his big brother. They were startled; they quickly stopped the thrusts and flung their swords away. A ‘dang lang’ sound was heard as the swords landed on the floor with the Wu brothers avoiding injury.

Jinlun Fawang’s arms shook as he flung the two over ten feet away and said, “Just be obedient and follow me.” He turned his head towards Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu and said, “If you aren’t with Chief Huang then leave at your convenience, but don’t hinder my plans again. Your kung fu is excellent; take care and practice for another ten or twenty years, by then, you won’t have a match under heaven.”

He wasn’t actually praising them; he knew that although Huang Rong, Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu’s martial arts could not compare to his, if they fought together it would be difficult to handle them. Although he’ll win, he may not be able to capture Huang Rong. Because of this he deliberately tried to divide them, concentrating on the trunk and ignoring the branches.

He didn’t know that Huang Rong was pregnant and inconvenienced; he calculated that her extremely ingenious “Dog Beating Stick Technique” would make her a strong opponent.

Xiao Longnu said, “Guo’er, let’s leave! That old monk is really powerful, we can’t beat him.” All that she hoped for was to return to the ancient tomb and spend the rest of her life with Yang Guo. She did not care about the world’s blood affairs. When she saw Jinlun Fawang she was afraid and so immediately said what she was feeling. Yang Guo agreed; he stood up and went to the top of the stairs, thinking that, now that they’re returning to the ancient tomb, most probably he won’t ever see Huang Rong again. He couldn’t stop himself from turning his head around and giving her another glance.

He saw her face looked bleak, her left arm holding her lower abdomen, showing that she was secretly in pain. Yang Guo thought, “Uncle and Auntie Guo were rather meddlesome in not allowing me and Gu Gu to be together, but they did not have any ill intentions. Today Auntie Guo’s in trouble, how can I just leave like this? But the enemy is too strong; me and Gu Gu fighting together won’t be a match for that Tibetan monk. I can’t save Auntie Guo, so why should I throw away mine and Gu Gu’s lives? It would be better for me to go and tell Uncle Guo and let him lead the rescue.”

Yang Guo took Xiao Longnu’s hand and moved his foot to walk down the stairs when he saw a Mongolian warrior going over to Huang Rong, coarsely saying, “Come quickly! Why are you delaying?” He stretched out his arm and grabbed her upper arm, treating her as a prisoner.

Huang Rong had been the Beggar Clan’s Chief for over ten years, her position and status was respected by all in Wulin. Although she is in a distressing situation today, how could she allow herself to be disgraced by this ruffian? She saw a pair of hairy hands reaching out towards her and immediately swept her sleeve. The sleeve covered his wrist as she flung out and a ‘hu’ sound was heard as the fat body of the Mongolian warrior flew out of the window, landing in the street, barely alive. Huang Rong didn’t want her hand to touch his wrist so she first covered his arm with her sleeve and then separated the sleeve throwing him away.

At first when they spoke politely, the people in the restaurant didn’t take much notice of them; when they suddenly saw a fight had broken out, the restaurant was in chaos.

Jinlun Fawang chuckled and said, “Indeed Chief Huang has great kung fu.” He copied the actions of the Mongolian warrior, stepping up to her and stretching out his hand to grab her arm. Huang Rong knew that he wanted to show off his martial arts; though he was using the same method, she could never do the same thing to him, she could only take a step back.

Yang Guo had taken a few steps down the stairs when he saw a struggle suddenly arising with Huang Rong about to suffer an insult; it stirred his heroic nature, he didn’t care about the dangers to himself, he flew over and picked up the sword that Wu Dunru dropped. He used a stance of “The Green Dragon Exits the Sea”, urgently thrusting towards Jinlun Fawang’s back. He shouted, “Chief Huang is carrying a child and you’re taking this opportunity to make your move, aren’t you ashamed?

Jinlun Fawang heard the noise of a blade cutting through air behind him, he didn’t turn around and turned his finger towards the dull side of the blade, striking it. A ‘dang’ sound was heard; Yang Guo’s arm trembled with numbness as the sword tip went downwards. Yang Guo quickly flew out of the way.

Jinlun Fawang turned around and said, “Young man, leave quickly! You’re young yet your martial arts are not weak, in the future you will be able to far exceed me. But you are not a match for me now, why come forward to die by my hands?”

Those sentences both praised and warned Yang Guo. Jinlun Fawang hated the two of them for knocking his golden wheel out of the air and interfering with this plans to take the position of the Chancellor of Wulin. Right now, he weighed up what was more important; capturing Huang Rong was the number one objective, he didn’t want to be distracted by other people. He hoped that Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu would leave this dispute and there’ll still be time for him to vent his anger on the two juniors later on. He calls himself a Hero of Tibet; not only are his martial arts frightening, his scheming ability was rather good.

Those words were neither haughty nor humble, yet were not deceiving either. Yang Guo was young and when he heard that in the future his martial arts would be much better than Jinlun Fawang, he was secretly pleased. He laughed and said, “There’s no need to be polite big monk, it’s not easy to reach a level as high as yours. Chief Huang raised me, so don’t give her any trouble. If she didn’t have an illness, your martial arts might not be able to defeat hers. If you don’t believe it, why don’t you wait until she recovers and then have a duel with her?”

He knew that Jinlun Fawang thought very highly of his martial arts; goading him like this might actually change his mind and he’d let Huang Rong go. How would he know that Jinlun Fawang was worried about Huang Rong, Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu joining together to fight him. That was why he was polite towards Yang Guo. When he heard these words he glanced at Huang Rong’s face; indeed her face did looked distressed, her illness was not light. He thought, “Why should he be worried about the threat of Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu?” He then gave a chuckle and went over to the stairs, he said, “You stay as well!”

Xiao Longnu stood on the stairs with Jinlun Fawang between her and Yang Guo; she didn’t like this and said, “Get out of the way monk, let him come down.”

Jinlun Fawang frowned, he sent a stance of “Opening the Tablet with a Single Palm”, his natural strength was already high, and attacking from above made this force even stronger. How could Xiao Longnu dare receive this stance head on? She was waiting for Yang Guo at the top of the stairs, she didn’t leap backwards; her legs lightly lifted, she used her amazing lightness kung fu to pass the opponent’s body to reach Yang Guo, standing shoulder to shoulder next to him.

When she was passing Jinlun Fawang’s side, he stuck out his elbow but it missed; he was in awe of the swiftness and agility of her movements. Yang Guo picked up Wu Xiuwen’s sword and passed it into her hand, he said, “Gu Gu, that monk is so rude, let’s give him a beating.”

A ‘qiang lang’ sound was heard as Jinlun Fawang took out a wheel from his gown; this wheel was the same size as his golden wheel but was dark green and was made out of iron. This wheel also had the Tibetan scriptures marked on it. He has a total of five wheels; golden, silver, bronze, iron and lead; when he met a strong enemy he really could send out all five wheels at once, but he had always used the golden wheel only. With it he had defeated countless strong enemies and because of this he received the nickname of ‘Jinlun Fawang’ (King of the Golden Wheel or Golden Wheel Monk). He had never used the other four wheels before so really, according to martial arts level he has reached, it should be ‘Wu Lun Fawang’ (King of the Five Wheels or The Five Wheeled Monk). In the Lu Manor, his golden wheel was taken out of the air by Yang Guo using the golden rod; now he took out his iron wheel and said, “Chief Huang, are you joining them as well?”

Though he saw that Huang Rong’s looked ill, he was still worried about her martial arts, he called her ‘Chief Huang’ to remind her of her status as the chief of a clan, joining up with others to fight one person would lower her.

Yang Guo called out, “Chief Huang is going home now; she hasn’t any time for you.” He turned around to Huang Rong and said, “Auntie Guo, take sister Fu and go.” He had made his decision; though he and Xiao Longnu would not be able to beat the enemy, they could force themselves to last a while. If it came to escaping, they would probably still be able to get away; luckily they weren’t fighting for victory but trying to escape from the devil’s grasp. So what if they had to run away pathetically?

He raised his sword and thrust towards Jinlun Fawang. Xiao Longnu saw that he was using the techniques of the “Jade Heart Manual” so she followed and attacked from the side; she hadn’t given any thought to it, when she saw Yang Guo attacking the monk, she too started to fight him to aid Yang Guo.

Jinlun Fawang used his wheel to block the two swords, but he didn’t like how cluttered the restaurant was, it hindered his movements. On one occasion he was fighting using his wheel, on another he kicked away the chairs and tables.

Yang Guo was thinking, “If we meet you head on, we’ll definitely lose; only by obstructing you will we last a little longer.” He saw that Jinlun Fawang was kicking away the tables and chairs, he did the opposite and pushed the tables and chairs in between them. His and Xiao Longnu’s lightness kung fu was superb, they darted around, not fighting the enemy properly; they would suddenly throw a jug of wine over, suddenly tip the dishes over causing the restaurant to be covered in wine and juices from the dishes.

Huang Rong took this opportunity to snatch Guo Fu back. After Da’erba fell under Yang Guo’s “Soul Altering Spell” he was out of it; sometimes he would be awake, sometimes in a daze. Huo Dou was seriously injured with the poison and the rest of the Mongolian warriors weren’t very skillful; how could they fend off Huang Rong?

Yang Guo called out, “Auntie Guo, leave quickly!”

But Huang Rong saw that the stances of Jinlun Fawang were lethal; even if Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu used all their strength it would be difficult for them to defend against the attacks. As of now they were able to fend him off by fighting like this, but once Jinlun Fawang finds a weakness and then makes his lethal move, how could their lives remain intact? Huang Rong thought, “He’s risking his life for me, how can I look out for myself only and leave?” She stood at the entrance of the stairs, quietly watching the battle.

But the Wu brothers kept on urging Huang Rong, “Master wife, let’s go, you’re not feeling well, you need to take care.”

At first Huang Rong ignored them but when they kept on pressing her she said angrily, “What use is it to learn martial arts if you don’t behave with ‘heroic’ values? What use have you got living in this world? The one named Yang is a hundred times better than you. Huh, you brothers better think well about this.”

The brothers felt embarrassed, their good intentions dismissed just like that by their Master’s wife.

Guo Fu picked up the broken leg of a table off the floor and called out, “Brother Wu’s, let’s all fight him.”

Huang Rong held her back and said, “Going up there with your lowly kung fu, do you want to die?”

Guo Fu pouted, not believing her mother. She saw that the stances that Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu weren’t anything special, sometimes their form looked Masterly but the sword stances weren’t at all lethal.

Every time Jinlun Fawang went to attack, the chairs and tables would impede him while Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu moved around vibrantly, flying here and suddenly darting there, fighting as they floated around.

He had a thought, he suddenly used the force in his legs, non-stop sounds of ‘ka la ka la’ were heard as the overturned tables and chairs were crushed and broken. He used the iron wheel in his hands to attack while his legs used the “Thousand Kilogram Fall”; the chairs and tables all broke wherever his legs were. After a while, the upstairs of the restaurant became covered by a layer of broken wood. The three of them battled on the debris without any obstructions.

Jinlun Fawang moved around in large steps, the iron wheel flashing around, ‘lang lang’ sounds were heard, his arms in motion as he attacked the two ferociously. There were now fewer tables and chairs in the way, so Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu had to use real martial arts to defend against him. Jinlun Fawang did not give an inch, on the fourth stance he smashed forward fiercely, a ferocious gust of wind rushed forward before the iron wheel even arrived.

Xiao Longnu and Yang Guo both thrust forwards, the sword tips striking the wheel, they were able to block this wheel with their combined strength but the swords were bent by the force.

The two used all their strength to repel the wheel, Yang Guo then thrust forward attacking the enemy’s upper body, Xiao Longnu cut urgently across the enemy’s left leg. Jinlun Fawang kicked out towards Xiao Longnu’s wrist, the iron wheel swerved and attacked Yang Guo’s neck. Yang Guo ducked and crouched to avoid the iron wheel. At that time, Jinlun Fawang suddenly let go with his right hand, the iron wheel dropped downwards towards Yang Guo’s head, at the same time Jinlun Fawang tried to grab Xiao Longnu’s shoulders with his free hand.

In just a flash of an eye, the two had fallen into great danger. Huang Rong gave an ‘ah’ cry and was about to go forward to save them when she saw Yang Guo swerve and fly just above the floor, before he touched down, the sword went towards Jinlun Fawang’s back. That stance achieved two aims at once, attacking and defending at the same time, solving the crisis he was in. He used the idea of ‘surrounding Wei to save Zhao’, and stopped Jinlun Fawang from attacking Xiao Longnu. This stance was called “The Wild Goose Attacks from the Side”, a technique from Quanzhen swordplay.

Jinlun Fawang gave a ‘yi’ call, before the iron wheel fell on the floor, the back of his right leg knocked against the wheel sending the wheel flying up with ‘lang lang’ noises, smashing towards Yang Guo’s head. In the midst of danger, Yang Guo had used a stance of Quanzhen swordplay which was surprisingly effective, so he used another Quanzhen stance, “The White Rainbow Traveling Across the Sky”, the flat side of the sword struck the wheel.

The sword was light, the wheel heavy, that attack originally had no chance, but the strike was just at the right place, fulfilling the martial art theory of ‘Four Liang Moving a Thousand Jin’, and the iron wheel changed directions, flying towards Jinlun Fawang’s head. Guo Fu clapped her hands as she watched with delight.

Jinlun Fawang dared to release his weapon because he thought that his enemies had no way to receive the wheel; if the opponent used their weapon to strike out against the wheel, even if it was a heavy whip or saber, once it meets the wheel the weapon will be knocked from the opponent’s hand. He could not have predicted that Yang Guo had the ability to redirect the wheel! Jinlun Fawang was furious, he caught the wheel and secretly used his spin technique and sent the wheel flying out again. This time his internal energy was more pressing, the wheel made no sounds because the iron wheel was spinning too fast and the spheres in the wheel could not collide with each other. When Yang Guo struck the wheel for the first time, he used the techniques of the “Nine Yin Manual” unwittingly, this time when he stretched out his sword to strike the wheel; a ‘dang’ noise was heard as the sword shook out of his hands. Jinlun Fawang immediately used “The Falling Obelisk Hand”, heavily smashing towards him. Yang Guo wasn’t completely familiar with the techniques of the “Nine Yin Manual”; this time the force he put behind his strike was incorrect.

When Xiao Longnu saw Yang Guo was in danger, she twisted her trim waist and urgently thrust her sword forward. The force of this stance had an assured lethalness, the appearance attractive and extremely graceful; she was actually using the martial arts of the final stage of the “Jade Heart Manual”.

Huang Rong and her daughter watched with joy and both called out; “Wonderful!”

Jinlun Fawang took back his palm and leapt away, he used his wheel to fend off the sword. Yang Guo took this opportunity to recover his sword. Yang Guo really had escaped from the death’s clutches just now, but when one is at death’s door they are especially alert. He suddenly had a thought, “When Gu Gu and I both use the “Jade Maiden Swordplay”, it was difficult for us to defend against him. But when I used the “Quanzhen Swordplay” and Gu Gu the “Jade Maiden Swordplay” we actually managed to turn danger into safety. Could it be that the final stage of the “Jade Heart Manual” is used this way?”

He immediately called out, “Gu Gu, “The Traces of Waves at Heaven’s Cliffs”!” As he said this he slanted his sword and thrust forward.

Xiao Longnu didn’t give it much thought and followed his instructions and used the “The Traces of Waves at Heaven’s Cliffs” as stated in the manual, she waved her sword and chopped forward. The names of the stances are the same but they had a difference, one of them was a lethal sword stance from the “Quanzhen Swordplay”, the other a dangerous stance from the “Jade Maiden Swordplay”. When the two were used in unison, the power of it immediately increased to a frightening level.

Jinlun Fawang had no way to block both of the swords so he quickly moved back; two ‘chi’ sounds were heard as the swords thrust at his body. Luckily, he dodged appropriately, the two sword tips brushed past him and just made some holes in his clothes. He broke out in a cold sweat from the shock.

Jinlun Fawang urgently moved back another two steps to avoid the tip of the swords. He then heard Yang Guo call out, “‘Flowers under the Moon’!” The attack came downwards, like an icy wheel hanging in the air; a light glimmering crossed the floor. Xiao Longnu’s sword quivered, like a flower fluttering in the wind, cutting across to and fro, dazzling Jinlun Fawang’s eyes, he didn’t know where the attacks were coming from, he could only leap back to avoid it.

Yang Guo called out, “‘Drinking Wine Purely’!” The sword handle was raised, the sword tip aimed downwards, like raising a wine jug and pouring the wine. Xiao Longnu’s sword was the opposite, the tip aiming upwards towards her cherry lips, like raising a cup of wine and drinking it.

Jinlun Fawang saw that the sword stances of the two were becoming stranger and stranger, but they were matching each other; all the weaknesses of one were covered by the strengths of the other, and the lethal aspects of the stances were increasing without end. He was becoming more and more frightened, thinking, “The world is a large place, indeed there are many able people; how could I ever dream of such unimaginable swordplay in Tibet? Ai! I’m just a frog at the bottom of the well; I have seen little of the world’s heroes.” He was disheartened and looked even more like a defeated man.

Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu had studied this final level of swordplay many times without reward, now they were in extreme danger, the two of them concerned for each other. Both put the other’s life above theirs as they rescued their lover first, fulfilling the main aim of this swordplay. Every stance of this swordplay displays actions done by two, perhaps “Stroking the Zither and Playing the Flute”, or maybe “Sweeping Snow and Preparing Tea”, or perhaps “Playing Chess under the Pine” or “Exchange of the Cranes by the Pond”, all of them show a male and female together. The gracefulness and exquisiteness of the stances really was indescribable.

Lin Chaoying, lost in the game of love, spent the rest of her life in the tomb. She was versed in all the martial arts and literature, music and other arts; in the end she incorporated all the things she had learned in her life into this set of martial arts. When she was developing this set of martial arts, she was trying to comfort herself; how would she know that tens of years later, a pair of lovers would use this set of martial arts to fight off a strong enemy. This was something that she could never have predicted.

At first Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu did not completely understand the swordplay’s ingenuity but eventually as they kept on using it, their proficiency in the swordplay kept on getting better. If the male and female who used this set of sword plays weren’t lovers, there would be many aspects of the swordplay they would not be able to comprehend. The two would not have a feeling of being linked with each other. If it were friends who were teaming up they would be too polite, if it were a senior and junior it wouldn’t be suitable to rely on each other. However, if it were a husband and wife, they would be able to use some of the Masterly aspects of this swordplay, but without the feelings of being drowned in love, the shyness, the feeling of being close yet far, the pain of gains and losses, they would be a level lower. Now Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu were deeply in love but they had yet to marry, their hearts were concerned about the hardships of the future, they were joyous and sad, sweet and bitter, this feeling of gradually being linked with each other was what Lin Chaoying had intended to create when she developed the “Pure Heart of the Jade Maiden Sword”.

Huang Rong watched from the side and she saw Xiao Longnu’s cheeks going red, looking shy; Yang Guo would glance over at her all the time, returning her affection. Though they were fighting a strong enemy, they displayed their delights and joys, and the appearance of being deeply in love. Huang Rong couldn’t stop from being startled, but at the same time she was infected by the two and she began to remember feelings and events when she fell in love with Guo Jing.

The restaurant was filled with the noise of a life and death battle, but in the midst of this, unexpectedly, there were the boundless feelings of love showing.

Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu were now in tune with each other, it was even harder for Jinlun Fawang to defend. He regretted the fact that he had smashed up the chairs and tables earlier on, otherwise, with the table and chairs as obstructions, the enemies’ attacks would not be as lethal and swift. He saw that if he continued, he would definitely lose his life. He retreated down the stairs, step by step. Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu attacked from above and they saw that they were about to drive him away.

Huang Rong called out, “Rid the evil completely, Guo’er, don’t let him go.”

She saw that the reason why Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu could beat Jinlun Fawang was because of this ingenious swordplay. It was somewhat fortunate that they had come up with this. If they spared Jinlun Fawang today and let a person with such abilities in martial arts go back and study for a way to defeat this swordplay, when the need to take his life arises again in the future, the task would be extremely difficult.

Yang Guo agreed and launched a fatal attack, “Cultivating the Chrysanthemum in the Little Garden”, “Speaking at Night at the Western Window”, “The Couplet in the Willow’s Shade”, “Bamboo Falling into the Pond”, when these stances came out, Jinlun Fawang nearly wasn’t able to evade these attacks let alone trying to counterattack.

Yang Guo had originally listened to Huang Rong’s instructions to take his life, but what he didn’t know was that when Lin Chaoying developed this particular swordplay, she was doing this to comfort herself, there was no intention to wound or kill the enemy especially with a heart filled with love. Though this swordplay was powerful, it did not aim to take the opponent’s life. Though Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu managed to force Jinlun Fawang to scramble around in a pathetic manner, taking his life was not an easy task.

Jinlun Fawang did not know about the background of this swordplay, he just saw that the opponent’s extraordinary stances folded in on each other, he knew that the enemy had yet to unleash their most powerful move. If the two attack, his old life would be lost. In this danger, a plan came into his mind; he used strength in his legs and snapped a stair step. He knew that with the obstruction of the hole in the stairs between him and the two, they would have no way to advance. By the time that a third step was snapped, the long swords could not reach his body.

Jinlun Fawang raised his iron wheel and said, “Today, I have seen the martial arts of the central plains, I am completely in awe. What is the name of your swordplay?”

Yang Guo said seriously, “The martial arts of the central plains are led by the “Dog Beating Stick Technique” and the “Donkey Piercing Sword”, our swordplay is the “Donkey Piercing Sword”.”

Jinlun Fawang was startled and said, ““Donkey Piercing Sword”?”

Yang Guo said, “Yep, a swordplay that pierces bald donkeys.”

Jinlun Fawang then knew that Yang Guo was insulting him, he was furious and shouted, “Rude punk, you’ll get to know the power of Jinlun Fawang.” The iron wheel rang out with ‘lang lang’ noises as he left taking large steps.

All they saw was his body floating away quickly like a flash, disappearing in the shadows by the corner. Yang Guo knew it would be difficult to catch up; he turned around and saw Da’erba stand up holding up Huo Dou, his face pale. He said, “Senior apprentice brother, are you going to kill me?”

Yang Guo saw that the two looked pitiful; he said to Huang Rong, “Auntie Guo, should we let them go?” Huang Rong nodded. Yang Guo saw that Huo Dou looked like he was in unbearable distress; he took out a bottle of Jade Bee honey from his pockets and pointed to Huo Dou. He took medicine to Da’erba and gave the jar to him. Da’erba was delighted and he chatted with Huo Dou for a while.

Huo Dou took out a packet of medicine and gave it to Yang Guo, he said, “The Senior who used the pen fell under my poison nails; this is the antidote.”

Da’erba saluted Yang Guo and said, “Thank you Senior apprentice brother.”

Yang Guo copied his actions and smiled as he imitated his Tibetan, “Thank you senior apprentice brother.”

Da’erba was surprised, “Why did Senior apprentice brother call me Senior apprentice brother?” A thought went through his mind and then he understood, “He’s reincarnated as another person and is allowing me to be the senior apprentice brother; he doesn’t want to fight for this position with me.” He was even more touched and bowed deeply, he stretched out his arms and picked up Huo Dou and then left with the rest of the Mongolian warriors.

Yang Guo gave the antidote to Huang Rong and made a salute, he said, “Auntie Guo, nephew will leave now. Auntie and Uncle Guo take care.” He felt sad as he thought about how this would be the last time he would see her.

Huang Rong asked, “Where are you going?”

Yang Guo said, “Gu Gu and I are going to live in seclusion in a place where there will be no people, never leaving again to avoid bringing shame to your and Uncle Guo’s name.”

Huang Rong thought, “Today he has risked his life saving me and Fu’er, this is not a small deed; now I’m watching him going down this dark path, how can I not save him?” So she said, “There’s no need to rush, we’re all tired; we’ll rent some rooms and rest for the night, we could part tomorrow.” Yang Guo saw that she was earnest and sincere, it would be inappropriate to reject her offer so he agreed.

Huang Rong took out some money and gave it to the restaurant owner for the damages done, and then they went to an inn to rest. That night after supper, Huang Rong got rid of Guo Fu by telling her to go and talk with the Wu brothers; she called Xiao Longnu into her room and said, “Sister, I have something to give to you.”

Xiao Longnu said, “What?”

Huang Rong pulled her in front of herself and took out a comb and brushed her hair, seeing her black silk hair hanging down across her shoulders, soft and shiny, extremely cute. She carefully rolled up her hair and removed a golden hair clasp from her own head and said, “Sister, I’m giving you this to wear.”

The gold hair clasp was exquisitely produced; the body of it resembled the stem of a rose, the stem and flower looped around; the place where it connected formed an unfolding rose. Huang Yaoshi collected countless treasures, out of them she had picked out this golden hair clasp of masterly artisanship.

Xiao Longnu had never worn any type of jewelry, to tie her hair she used a pine hairpin; though she saw the hair clasp was striking, she did not think anything of it, she just thanked her casually. Huang Rong fitted the hair clasp on her hair and then immediately chatted with her in a leisurely manner.

After talking to her for a while, she found that Xiao Longnu was very innocent and naïve, she didn’t know a thing about the ways of the world. Under the candlelight she saw her elegant and beautiful face, an extraordinary beauty; if she and Yang Guo weren’t Master and disciple, the two really were a great match. She asked, “Sister, you really love Guo’er, don’t you?”

Xiao Longnu beamed and said, “Yes, why won’t you people allow him to be with me?”

Huang Rong was startled, she remembered the times when she was young, her father wouldn’t allow her to marry Guo Jing, the Jiang Nan Seven Freaks called her a ‘little witch’, only after many trials and tribulations did she and Guo Jing finally marry. She saw that Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu really loved each other; could she make herself stop them?

But the fact is that they are a Master and disciple, if they become lovers it would be greatly unethical, what face would they have left with the heroes of the world? She gave a sigh and said, “Sister, there are many things that you don’t understand about the world. If you and Guo’er become husband and wife, others will look down on you for a generation.”

Xiao Longnu gave a slight smile and said, “What’s so important about others looking down on me?”

Huang Rong was startled again, she felt that her words had the same attitude as that of she and her father, a real feeling of ‘I do whatever I want’; not caring about the views of the world. When she thought about this, she nodded, such a character would not confine herself to the views of the world, but she then thought about the deep love and affection of her husband for Yang Guo. It wouldn’t matter whether Yang Guo was going to become her son in law or not, she just hoped that his character and morals would be perfect, so she said, “What about Guo’er? Others will look down on him as well.”

Xiao Longnu said, “He and I will live in a place where no one can see us for rest of our lives, happy for ever, why should we care about others?”

Huang Rong asked, “What place where no one can see you?”

Xiao Longnu said, “It is a large ancient tomb, I have always lived there.”

Huang Rong was stunned and said, “Could it be that you would live in there forever and never come out?”

Xiao Longnu was very happy, she stood up and paced back and forth across the room and then said, “Yes, why go outside? The people outside are so bad.”

Huang Rong said, “Guo’er has always roamed about since he was young, won’t he be bored staying in an ancient tomb forever?”

Xiao Longnu smiled and said, “With me by his side, why would he get bored?”

Huang Rong sighed and said, “At first of course he won’t be bored. But after a few years he would start to remember the beautiful outside world, if he can’t come out when he gets older, he would be greatly troubled.”

Xiao Longnu was originally very happy and delighted; when she heard these words her heart sank and said, “I’m going to ask Guo’er, I don’t want to speak with you anymore.” She left the room.

Huang Rong saw that her beautiful face suddenly showed signs of being disturbed, her words just now had really hurt the heart of this innocent and naïve girl. She immediately felt rather regretful but she had another thought, she had seen many things but this pair of young lovers were deeply in love, even if these words aren’t nice to the ear, it’s the heart that matters. She thought, “What would Guo’er say?” So she quietly went over to Yang Guo’s window to listen to their conversation.

She heard Xiao Longnu ask, “Guo’er, would you be troubled if your spent the rest of your life with me? Would you get tired of it?”

Yang Guo said, “Why are you asking me again? You know that there isn’t anything more I want in this world. We’ll be together until we’re old, our hair white and our teeth falling out, we would still love each other as we do now, not ever parting.” His words were said earnestly and with real sincerity.

When Xiao Longnu heard this, her heart was moved, she couldn’t stop herself from being overwhelmed, after a while she said, “Yes, my feelings are the same.” She took out a rope from her bag and hung it across the room, she said, “Go to bed!”

Yang Guo said, “Auntie Guo said, tonight you should go and sleep in the same room as she and her daughter, I with the Wu brothers in another room.”

Xiao Longnu said, “No! Why does she want two boys to be with you? I want to be with you and sleep with you.” She waved her hand out and extinguished the oil lamp.

When Huang Rong heard these words outside, she was extremely startled, “Those two really are doing such things! Then the words of that old Taoist Zhao Zhijing weren’t a lie!”

When she thought about the two of them sleeping together on the same bed, she felt that it would be inappropriate to eavesdrop on them and was about to leave when she suddenly saw a white flash going across the room. Someone was lying in midair, after moving for a bit, they stopped. Huang Rong was surprised and used the moonlight in the room to see what was going on. She saw Xiao Longnu lying on a rope in midair while Yang Guo slept on the bed. Though the two slept in the same room, they kept their respect. Huang Rong stood in the courtyard, she felt that the actions of these two were greatly different to others, it really was difficult to discuss their rights and wrongs.

She stood there for a while and was about to enter her room to rest when she heard footsteps, Guo Fu and the Wu brothers had returned. Huang Rong said, “Dun’er, Xiu’er, you brothers go and get another room to rest in, don’t stay with brother Yang.” The Wu brothers agreed.

Guo Fu asked, “Mother, why?”

Huang Rong said, “It’s none of your business.”

Wu Xiuwen laughed and said, “I know why. Those two are a Master and disciple yet they aren’t; that dirty couple is sleeping in the same room.”

Huang Rong reprimanded him; “Xiu’er, what dirty things are you saying?”

Wu Dunru said, “Master wife, you are too kind, why should you care about those sorts of people? I won’t speak to him.”

Guo Fu said, “Those two saved us; that was a great deed.”

Wu Xiuwen said, “Huh, I rather die by the hands of Jinlun Fawang than suffer a favour from animals.”

Huang Rong didn’t look happy, she said, “Stop talking, go and rest.”

Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu heard all this. Yang Guo had never gotten on with the Wu brothers ever since they were kids; he just snickered and didn’t take it to heart.

But Xiao Longnu was carefully thinking, “Why is it that if Guo’er and I are together, he becomes an animal and us a dirty couple?” She couldn’t grasp this and in the middle of the night she woke Yang Guo up and asked, “Guo’er, there is one thing that you must answer truthfully. After living with me in the ancient tomb for a few years, would you start to think about the outside world?”

Yang Guo was startled and didn’t reply for a while. Xiao Longnu continued to ask, “If you don’t go out, would you become troubled? Though your love for me will never change, would you get bored living in the tomb for such a long time?”

Yang Guo felt that it was difficult to answer these questions, as he thought about it, living with Xiao Longnu forever really would be better than living as a god; but in a cold and dark tomb, even if he didn’t get tired of the tomb in ten or twenty years, what about in thirty years? What about forty years? Replying casually, “I would never get bored” would be easy but he has always been frank and true towards Xiao Longnu, he had never said half a lie to her. He pondered for a while and said, “Gu Gu, if we get bored and tired of living in the tomb, we’ll go out together.”

Xiao Longnu gave an ‘en’ sound, not saying anymore. She thought, “Mrs. Guo’s words weren’t a lie. In the future he will get bored and will leave the tomb, and then everyone will be looking down on him, how can he live like that? Why do people look down on him if he and I get together? It looks like I’m an ominous person. I love him, I care for him; I would give my life for him. But these feelings will lead him to have an unhappy life; it looks like it would be better for him not to marry me. It must be for that reason that he refused to agree to marry me that night on Mount Zhongnan.”

She kept on going over this in her mind for a long while. Yang Guo’s breathing slowed; he was in deep sleep. Xiao Longnu leapt down lightly and went to his bedside, she stared at his handsome face, her heart was in a mess, her emotions kept on turning over, she couldn’t stop tears from flowing.

Yang Guo woke up the next morning and felt his shoulder and head was wet; he was slightly surprised and saw that Xiao Longnu wasn’t in the room. He sat up and saw some words carefully carved on the table with a golden needle.

‘Take care, forget about me.’

Yang Guo’s mind immediately became a confused; he stood there stunned and was at his wit’s end. He saw that the tears on the table had yet to dry, the dampness on his shoulder and head were also caused by her tears. He wasn’t thinking straight, he opened the window and leapt out, calling out, “Gu Gu, Gu Gu!”

The waiter of the inn came over to serve him. Yang Guo asked him when the girl in white left and which direction she headed in. The waiter stared at him; he didn’t know how to reply. Yang Guo knew that the opportunity to find her was ever diminishing, if he can’t find her today; then there may not be a chance to see her ever again. He went to the stables and leapt onto the skinny horse. At this time, Guo Fu came out of her room and asked, “Where are you going?”

Yang Guo heard but didn’t reply, he hurried to the main road and galloped north, in a short while he had gone over tens of li. He kept on calling out, “Gu Gu, Gu Gu!” on the way but where was Xiao Longnu?

After a little while, he saw Jinlun Fawang and his followers on horseback heading west. They all felt shocked when they saw him riding by himself. Jinlun Fawang pulled his reigns and galloped towards him.

Yang Guo had not brought a weapon with him, meeting the enemy like this was extremely dangerous but the only thing on his mind right now was Xiao Longnu, he didn’t even consider his own safety. When he saw Jinlun Fawang coming towards him, he actually turned his horse towards him and went forward to meet him, he asked, “Have you seen my Master?”

Jinlun Fawang was surprised that he didn’t run away, he was even more startled when he heard him ask this, he casually replied, “No, isn’t she with you?”

At first both of them didn’t really think too deeply as they asked and replied, but shortly after, both of them thought about how Yang Guo, being by himself, was not a match for Jinlun Fawang. The two of them looked each other in the eye and both knew. Yang Guo kicked his legs as Jinlun Fawang sent out a hand to grab him. But the skinny horse was exceptionally spirited; it galloped like the wind past him. Jinlun Fawang tried to catch up but Yang Guo and the horse had galloped afar, it would be difficult to catch up with him. Jinlun Fawang had a thought and reigned in his horse, “Since he and his Master has separated, what more have I got to be afraid of? If Chief Huang hasn’t gotten far… ha-ha…!” He then gathered his men and led them back.

Yang Guo searched for another while and still there was no trace of Xiao Longnu within tens of li. Emotions stirred in his heart, he felt dizzy and shaky and almost fainted on the back of the horse. He thought with sadness and lamented, “Why did Gu Gu leave me again? How have I offended her again? She cried many tears before she left, she’s not angry with me.” He suddenly thought of something, “Ah, yes, it must be because of what I said about getting tired of the ancient tomb, she thought that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life with her.” His eyes glistened as it became clear as to what he should do, “She’s returning to the tomb. I’ll just go back and be with her.” Yang Guo’s tears turned into smiles and he flipped over a few times on the horse’s back.

Now, as the horse dashed and galloped, he wasn’t thinking straight and didn’t clarify which direction he was heading in. Then he settled down, he determined where north was and turned the horse around and headed for Mount Zhongnan. The more he thought about it the more he believed this was most likely as to where she would be. Most of the pain and despair had now disappeared. He opened his mouth and sang a mountain song.

After midday, he arrived at a small roadside eating place. He finished eating some buns but remembered that when he left in a rush, he forgot to bring money with him. When the owner of the shop was off guard, he quickly leapt onto the horse and galloped away. He heard the insults of the owner from faraway, but what could he do to Yang Guo? He couldn’t stop himself from laughing inside.

He continued traveling until ‘shen pai shi fen’ (evening), all he saw in front of him now was a dense, dark and deep forest, shouts and insults could be heard from within the forest. He was slightly alarmed and listened closely; it was the voices of Jinlun Fawang and Guo Fu.

He knew something was wrong and leapt off the horse. He placed the reigns on the saddle and hid behind trees. He slowly followed the voices and after about a hundred feet or so, he saw Huang Rong and her daughter with the Wu brothers fending off Jinlun Fawang in a pile of jumbled rocks deep in the forest. He saw bloodstains on the faces and clothes of the Wu brothers, Huang Rong’s and Guo Fu’s hair was in a mess, and they looked wretched. It appeared that if it wasn’t for the fact that Jinlun Fawang wanted to keep them alive, they would have long ago died by his iron wheel.

Yang Guo watched for a while and thought, “Gu Gu is not here, if I go up and help them I could lose my life for no reason. What should I do? How can I save Auntie Guo? He suddenly saw Jinlun Fawang send his wheel smashing out; Huang Rong had no way to receive this attack and retreated backwards behind the pile of rocks. Jinlun Fawang hovered around the outside of the rocks, he actually couldn’t attack her.

Yang Guo was surprised, he took a closer look and saw that Guo Fu and the Wu brothers also relied on the rocks to avoid danger, in the midst of this danger all they had to do was hide behind the rocks. Da’erba and the others circled from afar, they could close in from any direction; at that time, Guo Fu and the others would hide behind another pile of disorderly rocks.

Yang Guo was extremely surprised, those normal looking pile of rocks actually had such an ingenious use; it really was uncanny. It looked like Huang Rong and the others would be safe from danger but there was no way for them to leave the rock formation.

Jinlun Fawang kept on attacking without stop, though he managed to injure the Wu brothers, it wasn’t life threatening, and on their side, one of the Mongolians died by Guo Fu’s sword. He saw that there was something strange with this pile of rocks formed by Huang Rong; he first had to grasp and see through the theories behind it before he could get to the four.

He had always thought highly of his intelligence, it’s not too urgent at the moment since they can’t escape his clutches. Once he’s seen through this formation he’ll break into it and capture them, showing his power.

So he waved out his left hand and ordered his men back, he also retreated back ten feet or so, staring at and studying the rock formation. Most formation uses variations of the ‘Wu Xing Ba Gua’ trigram; Jinlun Fawang was well versed with these types of tactics, he thought that although the formation was strange, it won’t be too far off from the theories of the five elements.

He studied it for a long while, when it looked like he saw through an aspect of the formation, he pondered on it further and it then didn’t make sense. The left wing was correct but the right wing changed, when he seemingly saw through the front of the formation, it was difficult to understand the back of it. He was taken aback by this, he was startled and in awe. He excelled in everything, a real outstanding person of the world; with this difficult problem in front of him, he wanted to rely on his own intellect to solve it.

Yang Guo watched as Jinlun Fawang stood there without moving, his eyebrows raised; suddenly his eyes glistened and he flashed over, breaking into the formation, grabbing Guo Fu’s arm and quickly retreated. Huang Rong and the brothers were extremely shocked with this sudden change of events. They were at their wit’s end, if they left the formation to rescue Guo Fu, they would definitely suffer under his hands.

What had happened was that Guo Fu became careless when she saw the enemy frozen like that; she didn’t follow her mother’s instructions as to where to stand and was out of the formation’s protection. When Jinlun Fawang saw this opportunity he immediately went over and captured her; he then sealed a pressure point on the side of her body and placed her down on the ground. He deliberately kept her mute pressure point unsealed, letting her call out and plead, wanting her to agitate Huang Rong into exiting the formation.

Guo Fu felt her body ache unbearably and she couldn’t stop herself from calling out. How could Huang Rong not know what the enemy was planning, but when she heard the calls of her daughter, her heart ached unbearably, she could only bite down on her lips and endure it.

From behind a tree Yang Guo understood what was happening. He saw Huang Rong raising her stick, about to come out from the rock formation and rescue her daughter; this was extremely dangerous, he didn’t give it much thought and suddenly leapt out and grabbed Guo Fu from behind, throwing himself forward into the rock formation.

Jinlun Fawang’s iron wheel flew out towards Yang Guo’s back. Yang Guo was in midair, it would be difficult to dodge this attack; he pushed Guo Fu towards Huang Rong and used the “Thousand Kilogram Fall”. His body dropped straight down and fell down solidly onto the pile of rocks, he heard the ‘qiang lang lang’ sound of the iron wheel brushing past his head, the wheel circled around and came back into Jinlun Fawang’s hand.

Huang Rong hugged her daughter lovingly. She saw Yang Guo pick himself up from the rocks, his eyes were green and nose bruised, she quickly stretched out her stick and led him into the formation.

Jinlun Fawang’s plan had failed and again it was due to Yang Guo, but instead of being angry he was actually pleased, he gave a chuckle and said, “Fine, coming here now saves me the trouble of finding you later on.”

Yang Guo risked his life for this rescue out of righteous indignation; only after entering the formation did he see that by doing this, his life would most probably end soon. He would never have the opportunity to see Xiao Longnu ever again. He couldn’t stop himself from feeling regret.

Huang Rong asked, “Where’s your Master?”

Yang Guo gloomily said, “She suddenly left in the middle of the night, I was in the middle of searching for her.”

Huang Rong sighed and said, “Guo’er, why did you have to risk your life again?”

Yang Guo gave a bitter laugh and shook his head, he said, “Auntie Guo, I’m not too bright, once my emotions get the better of me I can’t control myself.”

Huang Rong said, “Good child, you have a great heart, your father…” She stopped mid sentence.

Yang Guo’s voice trembled, “Auntie Guo, my father was a bad person, wasn’t he?”

Huang Rong’s head hung down and said, “You want to know about it?” She suddenly called out, “Careful, come over here!” She pulled him over two piles of rock and avoided Jinlun Fawang’s sneak attack.

Yang Guo took a look at the rock formation in awe, he said, “Auntie Guo, there isn’t anyone one else in the world who has your intelligence and wisdom.”

Huang Rong unsealed her daughter’s pressure point and massaged her; she gave a slight smile but didn’t reply.

Guo Fu said, “What do you know? My grandfather taught my mother’s skills. My grandfather is as intelligent.”

Yang Guo had seen the handwriting and articles of Huang Yaoshi before when he was on Peach Blossom Island but then he was young, he didn’t understand the intricacies within it. When Guo Fu reminded him, he nodded and drifted away, he sighed and said, “When will I be able to greet this Senior? If I do my life won’t be all in vain.”

Suddenly Jinlun Fawang charged past two rock formations and attacked. Yang Guo didn’t have a weapon and quickly picked up the stick that Huang Rong had flung on the ground and dashed out to stop him, he sent out two strokes with the stick, using the “Dog Beating Stick Technique”. Jinlun Fawang saw that his stick technique was profound, he concentrated and fought with him, after a few stances, both of them suddenly tripped up on the jumbled rocks, both stumbled. Fawang was afraid that he would be ambushed and leapt out of the formation.

Huang Rong led Yang Guo back and ordered Guo Fu and the Wu brothers to move the stones and change the formation. She asked Yang Guo, “Where exactly did you learn this stick technique from?”

Yang Guo told her the truth about how he met Hong Qigong on Mount Hua, how the Northern Beggar dueled with Western Poison, how Hong Qigong taught him the “Dog Beating Stick Techniques”. He then told her of the passing of both Hong Qigong and Ouyang Feng.

Huang Rong felt deep sorrow at this news, but then sighed and said, “You’ve come upon such extraordinary meetings; it really is rare to come across such events.” She suddenly had a thought, and said, “Guo’er, you are very clever, think of a way to escape today’s dangers.”

Yang Guo looked at her, judging from her expression she had already thought of a plan, he pretended he didn’t know and said, “If you were feeling well, me and you could beat Fawang; or if we could get my Master to come here, then that would be a way as well.”

Huang Rong said, “How can my health recover over such a short period of time? We don’t know where your Master has gone. I have another plan; it involves the rock formation. This formation was devised by my father, there are hundred of variations; we haven’t used even twenty percent of them yet.” Yang Guo was shocked and pleased, he sighed in awe as he thought about the knowledge that Huang Yaoshi possessed.

Huang Rong said, “My Master only taught you the stances of the “Dog Beating Stick Technique”, and you’ve only heard the main points of the formulae while you hid in the tree. I’m now going to teach you all the profound and subtle variations and changes of this technique.”

Yang Guo was delighted but he pretended to dismiss this, he said, “I’m afraid that won’t do, the “Dog Beating Stick Technique” is passed onto the Beggar Clan’s Chief only, it has never been passed onto an outsider.”

Huang Rong rolled her eyes, she said, “What are you trying in front of me now? My Master has taught you thirty percent of this technique, you learnt another twenty percent when you eavesdropped, today I’ll teach you another twenty percent. The final thirty percent relies on your intelligence and how you grasp and understand the technique; no one can teach you this. One, no one is teaching you the whole thing, two, today’s situation is desperate, just follow the order.”

Yang Guo knelt down on the ground and bowed to her, he smiled and said, “Auntie Guo, when I was young you said you were going to teach me martial arts, today you are teaching me.”

Huang Rong gave a subtle smile and said, “You’ve always bitterly kept this in your heart, haven’t you?”

Yang Guo said, “How would I dare?”

Huang Rong then quietly imparted all the aspects of the “Dog Beating Stick Technique” to him.

From outside the rock formation, Jinlun Fawang saw Yang Guo kowtowing to Huang Rong, the two of them laughed as they talked, he didn’t know what on earth they were trying now. It appeared that they were confident about the situation, and it looked like they weren’t even giving him a second thought. Though he was angry, he had always been careful and meticulous; though he knew that their martial arts could not compare with his, the two of them are extremely crafty. Why should he be careless and fall into their traps? He wanted to see through what they had in mind and then make his decision.

Luckily, he slowed his attacks; without the distraction of the enemy, Huang Rong passed on everything to Yang Guo in under an hour’s time.

Yang Guo’s intelligence and perception was a hundred times better than Lu Youjiao; if you asked him one thing he knew ten, if you ask him to raise one point he raised three. He had spent a great deal of effort in learning this technique and had pondered hundreds of times on the things he didn’t understand. Because of this fact, when Huang Rong advised and pointed him in the right direction, he immediately understood and grasped everything about the technique.

From afar, Jinlun Fawang saw that Huang Rong looked at ease, her lips moving slightly yet Yang Guo was scratching his ear and touching his cheeks; he didn’t know what the two were conjuring up, most probably it wasn’t to his best interests, he should break up their conversation.

After listening to the important aspects, Yang Guo asked ten or so difficult questions. Huang Rong explained it all to him. She said, “Good, since you can ask these questions then that means you understand a great deal. The second stage is to trap the monk in the formation.”

Yang Guo was startled and said, “Capture him?”

Huang Rong said, “What’s so hard about that? With you and I teamed up, we’ve got more intelligence and strength than needed. Right now, I’m going to explain the key points of this rock formation to you. You most probable won’t be able to understand it in such a short time but luckily you have a great memory, all you’ve got to do is remember thirty six different types of changes.” She then started to list them: how the green dragon appears as the white tiger, how the black forces transforms into the vermillion sparrow.

The rock formation was derived from Zhuge Liang’s ‘Central Map of the Eight Formations’. Years ago, Zhuge Liang had set up a formation on the shores of the Changjiang River using stone slabs. After Dong Wu’s general Lu Xun entered the formation, it was difficult for him to escape.

Now, Huang Rong had set up one of Zhuge’s methods, but because time was pressing, Huang Rong did not set up the formation completely, however only a few things were missing. Even so, the formation disturbed Jinlun Fawang, he stared at the five of them but he didn’t dare make a move.

The thirty-six variations of this formation were very complicated, even with Yang Guo’s intelligence he could only remember ten or so changes.

It was now evening, Jinlun Fawang slowly waited to make his move.

Huang Rong said, “With these ten or so changes; it’s enough to trap him. Go out and lure him into the formation, I’ll then change it and trap him in there.

Yang Guo was delighted and said, “Auntie Guo, if I visit Peach Blossom Island again, would you be willing to teach me this type of skill?

Huang Rong gave a smile, and said, “If you are willing to visit the island, why wouldn’t I be willing to teach you this? You risked your life and saved Fu’er and I twice now, could I still treat you the same way as before?”

When Yang Guo heard this, he was filled with an extremely relaxed and comfortable feeling throughout his chest; what does it matter whether Huang Rong teaches him or not? He felt that even if he had a hundred deaths he would not have any regrets. He raised his bamboo stick and exited the formation calling out, “Rusty old Jinlun Fawang if you’ve got guts then come over and go through three hundred stances with me!”

Jinlun Fawang was worried that they had planned something in the formation to ambush him; he couldn’t have asked for more when he saw Yang Guo coming out of the formation. The iron wheel rang ‘qiang lang lang’ as he chopped out. He was afraid that Yang Guo would escape back into the formation if he started to lose; after the first two stances, he had already blocked his path back, forcing him as far away from the formation as possible.

How could he know that after Yang Guo learned the important aspects of the “Dog Beating Stick Technique” his technique was superb? When he used the eight key formulae of ‘trip’, ‘chop’, ‘coil’, ‘poke’, ‘stir’, ‘seal’, ‘lead’ and ‘turn’, the variations and changes were indeed subtle and ingenious. When he made a careless attack, Yang Guo poked him in the leg, though he managed to shut his pressure point to the danger and stop injury, the pain lasted a long time.

He didn’t dare be careless after he suffered that attack, he spun his wheel and concentrated on the battle; though his opponent was just a young man in his teens, he treated him as formidable enemy. He attacked with respect and defended tightly, looking upon him as a great Master.

When he did this, Yang Guo immediately felt he couldn’t hold on; though the “Dog Beating Stick” was ingenious, it is difficult to perform straight after learning it. Yang Guo used the ‘seal’ formulae to block the attack of the iron wheel and then shifted his legs, suddenly going east and then surging west.

Jinlun Fawang followed the changes of his bamboo stick, he felt that it was about time to act. When he saw Yang Guo surging and attacking away from the formation Fawang kept on moving backwards to lure him as faraway from the formation as possible. He didn’t predicted that after moving back over ten or so steps, his right leg suddenly tripped over a large rock; he had unwittingly been lured into the formation.

He knew something was wrong. He then heard Huang Rong call out, “The Vermillion Sparrow Displaces the Green Dragon, the ‘Xun’ position changes to the ‘Li’, wood into water.”

Guo Fu and the Wu brothers shifted the rocks and changed the formation.

Jinlun Fawang’s face lost it’s colour from shock, he stopped his wheel to inspect the surroundings, while Yang Guo’s bamboo stick coiled its way around towards him. Though Yang Guo’s “Dog Beating Stick Technique” wasn’t good enough to meet him head on, it was more than enough to confuse and distract him. Fawang’s legs were tripped up a few times and he almost couldn’t stand up. He knew that this formation was powerful, the longer he was in it the more confusing it became. In this danger he shouted and leaped up on top of a pile of rocks. Normally, being on top of the rocks keeps one from being trapped and confused by the formation and allows them to regain their sense of direction. He thought that if he went forward in a straight line he will be able to get out of the formation. But he didn’t know that he just went from east to west, north to south, and had circled around a couple of times over an area of a hundred feet. Eventually his vigor was depleted and he stopped on the rocks. As soon as he landed on top of the pile of rocks, Yang Guo waved out the bamboo stick to his leg. Fawang’s weapon was short and couldn’t be used to protect all of his body; he could only drop down back to the ground and sweep out his wheel to counterattack.

After another ten or so moves, the sky had darkened, he was surrounded by rocks everywhere; the formation seemed to give off an eerie air. Even someone as bold as he couldn’t stop himself from being slightly frightened, suddenly his mind lit up; he had a plan.

His left leg lifted up, a twenty plus kilo (44lb) stone was lifted in the air and sent flying. His right leg came out and another large stone went flying. He darted around, his legs kept on kicking out, the rocks collided with each other and sparks flew. In a flash, the formation had been broken. Huang Rong, Yang Guo and the others were extremely shocked by this and they had to keep on moving to avoid the rocks falling from the sky.

If Jinlun Fawang just wanted to leave the formation it couldn’t be easier, but he turned defense into attack and his left palm came searching out to capture Huang Rong. Yang Guo sent the tip of the stick towards his back, Fawang swerved his iron wheel and repelled it; however, his left palm had hung onto Huang Rong’s shoulder. If she leapt back she could have avoided this but she heard a urgent gust of wind coming down, a large rock was smashing down behind her at that time, she could only use the “Great Trapping Hand” to reverse his grab and hooked onto his left wrist.

Jinlun Fawang said, “Good!” He let her hook his left wrist and waited for her to use force to fling him away; he suddenly circulated his strength and pulled her towards him.

If it was any other time, Huang Rong could have circulated her internal energy and escaped from this pull, but right now she didn’t have sufficient internal energy, she called out, “Ai ya!” and fell.

Yang Guo was extremely alarmed; he threw away any care for his life and threw himself forward, grabbing Jinlun Fawang’s legs. The two of them started to fall.

Jinlun Fawang’s martial arts were much higher than his, before they hit the ground, his right palm had come waving out towards Yang Guo’s chest. Yang Guo quickly stretched out his left arm to block it; a ‘pai’ sound was heard as their palms struck. Yang Guo felt blood surging upwards from his chest; his body flew away like a rock.

Just at this time, the last remaining rock fell down fiercely from the sky; a ‘peng’ sound was heard as it struck Jinlun Fawang on the back.

It was an extremely heavy collision, even if Jinlun Fawang’s internal energy were higher, he would not be able to take it, though he circulated his internal energy to divert the rock away, his body wobbled a few times and he eventually fell forward onto the ground.

In a short period of time, the formation had been broken and stones had rained down. Huang Rong, Jinlun Fawang and Yang Guo were all on the ground injured.