The Return of the Condor Heroes – Chapter 31

Half a pill of elixir.

Surrounded by the mountains, the floor of the Passionless Valley was vast, occupying about thirty thousand acres of land, with winding paths, towering hills, and deep ravines. But Yang Guo and Xiao Longnü used their lightness kungfu to follow the path on the map, and they arrived at their destination in just a short while. In front of them they saw several big elm trees, seventy or eighty-feet high, providing a shade for a brick and pottery kiln below. The map showed that the Indian monk and Zhu Ziliu were imprisoned here.

Yang Guo turned to Xiao Longnü and said, “You wait here. I’ll go in and take a look. With charcoal and ash in there, it must be very dirty.”

As he bent over to step into the kiln, he was hit by a heat wave.

“Who is there?” A voice shouted.

Yang Guo said, “I’ve got the chief’s order. I’m coming to get the prisoners.”

That person emerged from behind the brick wall and asked, “What?”

Seeing Yang Guo, he was startled and said, “You…You…”

Yang Guo saw that he was a valley disciple dressed in green so he said, “The chief has ordered me to come get the monk and the man surnamed Zhu.”

That disciple knew that Yang Guo had saved his master’s life, that she’d announced in front of everybody that Yang Guo was her intended son-in-law, and that he and Lu’E were on the best terms. This person would one day become the Valley Chief, and so he didn’t dare to offend Yang Guo.

He said, “But… what about the chief’s command sign?”

Yang Guo ignored him and said, “Let me come in and take a look.”

That disciple complied and turned back into the kiln.

Inside the brick walls, the heat was even more intense. Two lowly laborers were raking charcoal. Although it was bitterly cold at this time of year, the two people were actually bare-chested, each wearing short pants to cover his lower body. Still they were sweating profusely. The disciple in green pushed aside a big stone, revealing an opening. Yang Guo went inside and saw that it was actually a stone chamber of ten feet square. Zhu Ziliu sat there with his face to the wall, using his index finger to draw pictures. His arm rose and fell as if he was very pleased with himself. The Indian monk was actually lying on the floor, and it was hard to tell if he was still alive.

Yang Guo called out, “Uncle Zhu, how are you?”

Zhu Ziliu turned his head back. He laughed and said, “A friend has come to visit from afar; how could I not be fine?” Yang Guo had to admire him. He was stranded here for a long time but still kept calm as if everything was normal. Even in crisis, he could still be mirthful. He himself was far, far inferior to him in this regards.

“Is the Divine Monk sleeping?” He asked.

Having said this, his heart was beating wildly because Xiao Longnü’s life depended on this Divine Indian Monk.

Zhu Ziliu didn’t reply. Only after a while he let out a gentle sigh and said, “My Martial Uncle can usually withstand heat and cold much better than I can, but this time…”

It sounded like the Indian monk’s condition was critical. Frightened, Yang Guo didn’t bother to say any more words. He turned his head to the disciple in green. He ordered, “Unlock the door. Let them out.”

The disciple in green said in surprise, “What about the lock? The chief’s got the key. If she ordered you to free people, how come she didn’t give you the key?”

Impatient, Yang Guo shouted, “Make way!”

He lifted his black iron sword and struck down, making a big hole in the stone wall with a ‘ka’ sound. That disciple let out an ‘ah’ cry and froze with fright. Yang Guo swung his sword a few more times and that five-inch window became wide enough for a person to pass through.

Zhu Ziliu cried out, “Brother Yang, I congratulate you on your great skills!”

He bent over to pick up the Indian monk, passing him through that hole. As Yang Guo took him, he could feel that the Indian monk’s arm was warm. His heart jumped. But then he saw that the Indian monk’s eyes were shut tight. He thought to himself, “Aiyo, even a dead body is warm in this fire room.”

He quickly stretched his hand to feel the Indian monk’s breath and realized he was still breathing faintly.

Zhu Ziliu jumped out from that hole in the wall. He said, “Martial uncle has passed out. Hope it’s not a great obstacle.”

Yang Guo blushed. He thought to himself, “Shame on you!”

He thought about how he himself didn’t really care about the Indian monk’s well being but more about how to save his own wife.

He asked, “Did he pass out from heat exhaustion? Let’s quickly go outside to get some air.”

Then he carried him out.

Seeing the three people, Xiao Longnü was delighted.

Yang Guo said, “Let’s find some cold water to sprinkle on Reverend’s face.”

“No, Martial uncle was poisoned by the Passion Flowers.” Zhu Ziliu said.

Yang Guo was startled. He asked, “Is the poison severe?”

Zhu Ziliu replied, “I think not. It was he who poisoned himself.”

Yang Guo and Xiao Longnü were puzzled. In one voice, they exclaimed, “What?”

With a sign Zhu Ziliu said, “Uncle said that these Passion Flowers were already extinct in India. He didn’t know how it had been spread. He said that if it got out of hand, it would be a great disaster. Years ago, people and livestock in India had been poisoned and died because of these flowers. Martial uncle had thoroughly researched poison techniques but this Passion Flower poison was really strange. He came to the valley this time, knowing that the Divine Pill (Passionless Pill) could only help one person. He wanted to find out what could detoxify the poison to help people on a large scale. He used his body to test the poison so he would understand its nature and be able to find the antidote.”

Yang Guo was half amazed and half in awe. He said, “Buddha said – if I don’t go to hell who will? Reverend is trying to save people, not hesitating to face a disaster. People really have to respect him.”

Zhu Ziliu said, “In an ancient tale, Shen Nong tried a hundred kinds of herbs to save people. If it was the wrong herb, his face would turn blue. This Martial Uncle of mine must have had this story in mind.”

Yang Guo nodded and said, “Right. Do you know when he will regain consciousness?”

“After he poisoned himself, he said if his calculation was not wrong, he would wake up after three days and three nights,” said Zhu Ziliu.

Yang Guo and Xiao Longnü looked at each other. They both thought, “He’ll be in a coma for three days and three nights. It means the poison is very severe. Fortunately this Passion Flower poison affects people differently. If one has a passionate heart, the poison will act up very fiercely. This monk has a steady heart. He’s much better than an average person.”

Xiao Longnü said, “You two were in the kiln, how did you find Passion Flowers?”

Zhu Ziliu replied, “After we were put in the fire room, there was a girl who often came to visit…”

Xiao Longnü said, “Was she a tall girl with fair complexion and a small mole on one corner of her mouth?”

“Yes,” said Zhu Ziliu.

Xiao Longnü smiled at Yang Guo. Then she said to Zhu Ziliu, “That was the Valley Chief’s daughter Miss Lu’E. She heard that you two had come to help Yang Guo so she was fond of you. Although she didn’t dare to release you, she’d get you whatever you wanted.”

Zhu Ziliu said, “Correct. Martial uncle asked her for a branch of the Passion Flowers and I asked her to send my message asking for help. She complied. In the kiln, everyday there would be a time the fires blasted. She would pour water on them to reduce the intensity, making it bearable for us. I often asked her who she was but she never answered. I didn’t know she was the Valley Chief’s daughter.”

“She gave us the directions to come here,” said Xiao Longnü.

Yang Guo said, “Great Reverend Yideng is here too.”

Zhu Ziliu was delighted. He said, “Oh, let’s go.”

Yang Guo frowned and said, “Monk Ci’en is also here. I’m afraid there might be a little trouble.”

Zhu Ziliu was puzzled. He said, “Brother Ci’en is also here. How can it not be good? When brother and sister meet, Chief Qiu will have no choice but consider this kinship.”

Even though he became Reverend Yideng’s disciple before Ci’en, in Jianghu Ci’en’s kungfu was actually at the same level as that of Reverend Yideng. And so, Diancang, Yuyin and Zhu Ziliu highly respected him, treating him as ‘Martial Elder Brother.’ Zhu Ziliu had asked Lu’E to send his help message, hoping that Ci’en would come, and the two sides would be reconciled. Now that Yang Guo mentioned trouble, he couldn’t quite understand.

Yang Guo briefly told him about Ci’en’s mental instability and how Qiu Qianchi was trying to stir up his emotions.

Zhu Ziliu said, “Madame Guo is also here in the valley. That’s really the best. Her wisdom is second to none. My master is here to control the situation. Also, Brother Yang’s kungfu has reached this improved stage. There shouldn’t be any problem. I’m only worried about my Martial Uncle.”

Yang Guo also felt that the Indian monk’s safety was the first priority. He said, “We could find a place to stay, and wait for Reverend to regain consciousness. The three of us can protect him.”

Zhu Ziliu hesitated. He asked, “Where should we go?” He pondered for a long time, feeling that this Passionless Valley was dangerous everywhere. Then he figured out and said, “We wait right here.”

Yang Guo was startled but then he understood. With a smile he said, “Uncle Zhu’s idea is wonderful. This place seems bad but it actually is the best place in the valley. We just have to stop those valley disciples from leaking our secret.”

Zhu Ziliu stretched out his finger. With a laugh he said, “That’s easy.”

He picked up the Indian monk and said, “We’ll rest here in the kiln. May I ask Brother Yang and Mrs. to go help my master?”

Yang Guo remembered that Reverend Yideng’s injury had not recovered and that Ci’en had been swaying back and forth between good and evil. If he stayed here to guard the Indian monk, it would be rather selfish and he wouldn’t feel comfortable. Seeing Zhu Ziliu carry the Indian monk back into the kiln, he and Xiao Longnü returned to the path they’d just come from.

The two people passed by the Passion Flower thicket. It was bitter cold at this time. Undoubtedly soon there would be no flowers, and the leaves would fall, leaving only ugly bare branches, full of sharp thorns.

Suddenly Yang Guo thought of Li Mochou. He said, “No doubt this thing called passion is sometimes extremely beautiful but other times extremely ugly. Like your martial sister, spring flowers wither quickly but their thorns can still kill people.”

Xiao Longnü said, “I hope the Divine Monk can find the antidote to this flower poison. Not only will it cure you, my martial sister can also be saved.”

But Yang Guo actually hoped that the Indian monk would regain consciousness and that the Indian monk would first treat the poisons in Xiao Longnü’s body. If he didn’t wake up and just passed away, what then? Looking at his wife, his heart was filled with infinite tender feelings. Suddenly, he was hit by a flash of pain in his chest. He knew that because he’d saved the Cheng-Lu cousins, the poison in his body was even more severe. Afraid that he would worry Xiao Longnü, he turned his head to look at the bare branches, appearing to be happy and not paying attention to life and death matters.

By now there was another scene in the main hall of the Passionless Valley. Qiu Qianchi was urging her brother to act. The more she talked, the more ferocious her words became. Reverend Yideng didn’t say a word, leaving Ci’en to make a decision for himself. Ci’en looked at his sister. He looked at his master. Then he looked at Huang Rong. One was his blood sister. Another was the master who had changed him. And the third caused his brother’s death. His mind fluctuated between kindness and hatred. Good and evil were battling. How would he decide? His entire life from childhood to old age flashed in his brain. Sometimes tears glistened in his eyes, other times a smile came to the corners of his mouth. His heart was aflame for this was fiercer than any battle he’d ever fought in.

Lu Wushuang noticed that Yang Guo had left the hall for a long time and still not returned. Ci’en’s state of mind had nothing to do with her whatsoever. She gently tugged at Cheng Ying’s gown sleeve and quietly slipped out of the hall. Cheng Ying followed her out.

“Where did Sha Dan (Dumb Egg) go?” Lu Wushuang asked.

Cheng Ying didn’t reply. She only said, “He’s been poisoned and we don’t know how bad his condition is.”

Lu Wushuang said, “Hmm.”

She was also worried. In a low-spirited voice, she said, “I really didn’t expect this. He and his master finally…”

Cheng Ying said in the same tone, “Miss Long is really beautiful, and she’s really good. Only such a person can be a match for Big Brother Yang.”

Lu Wushuang said, “How do you know she’s a good person? You haven’t really talked to her.”

Suddenly she heard a cold voice from behind, “Her foot is not lame. Naturally she’s good.”

Lu Wushuang drew out her Willow Leaf saber, turning her body around. That voice, of course, came from Guo Fu.

Seeing her unsheathed saber, Guo Fu quickly pulled out a long sword from Yelu Qi’s waist. She returned the angry glare and shouted, “You want to fight me?”

With a merry laugh Lu Wushuang said, “How come you don’t use your own sword?”

Her foot had been crippled since childhood, and it was her sore spot. Other people never mentioned this in front of her. Since Guo Fu ridiculed her ‘lame foot,’ she was enraged, and so she sarcastically brought up the broken sword issue.

Guo Fu barked, “I’m going to use someone else’s sword to give you a kungfu lesson.”

Having said that, the long sword struck, and the ‘weng-weng’ sounds echoed.

Lu Wushuang said, “How rude. The Guo family’s child doesn’t respect her senior. Good, today I’ll teach you the difference between good and bad.”

“Bah, how can you be my senior?” Guo Fu said.

With a laugh Lu Wushuang said, “My cousin is your Martial Uncle. If you won’t call me Gu Gu (paternal aunt) you should call me Ah-yi (maternal aunt). You can ask my cousin!”

Then she pointed at Cheng Ying.

By her mother’s order, Guo Fu had to call Cheng Ying ‘Martial Uncle.’ But deep down, she was still not convinced that her strange grandfather had accepted such a person as a disciple. She thought that she and Cheng Ying were about the same age so Cheng Ying’s kungfu shouldn’t be very good.

She looked at Lu Wushuang and said, “Who knows if she’s a real or fake disciple? My grandpa is world famous. There are many shameless people pretending to be his disciples.”

Although Cheng Ying’s natural disposition was gentle, hearing this she couldn’t help getting angry. But her whole heart right now was fixed on Yang Guo, and so she had no intention of bickering with people.

She said, “Cousin, let’s go… go find Big Brother Yang.”

Lu Wushuang nodded. She turned to Guo Fu and said, “Did you hear that? Did she or did she not call me her cousin? Hero Guo and Chief Huang Rong are world famous. I don’t know how many shameless people pretend to be their daughter!”

Then with a ‘hei-hei’ cold laugh, she turned to leave.

Guo Fu was slow. She thought, “Who pretends to be my parents’ daughter?”

But then it dawned on her, “Aiyo! She called me a bastard, saying that I’m not my parents’ daughter.” Now that she understood the meaning, how could she bear it? She jumped up and thrust her sword towards Lu Wushuang’s back.

Hearing the sound of Guo Fu’s sword cutting through the air, Lu Wushuang turned and blocked the strike with her saber. With a ‘dang’ sound, slight pains shot through their arms.

Guo Fu shouted, “Did you call me a bastard?”

The long sword struck again and again. Lu Wushuang blocked the sword left and right. She sneered, “Hero Guo is a righteous hero. Chief Huang is truly the daughter of the Chief of Peach Blossom Island. Their characters are remarkable…”

Guo Fu said, “Who doesn’t know that? There is no need to praise my parents to please me.” She really thought that Lu Wushuang had sincerely praised her parents, and so her sword slowed down.

But Lu Wushuang continued “You? You cut off Big Brother Yang’s arm. You couldn’t tell right from wrong, hurting a good person. How could such behavior be anything similar to that of the Guo couple? Makes people wonder.”

“Wonder, about what?” Guo Fu asked.

Lu Wushuang darkly said, “You think about it.”

Yelu Qi was standing on the side of the scene. He knew that Guo Fu’s intelligence was far inferior to Lu Wushuang. If this verbal spat went on, Guo Fu wouldn’t be able to stand it. He said, “Miss Guo, let’s not talk to her any more.”

He could see that Guo Fu’s kungfu was more advanced than Lu Wushuang’s. If she couldn’t win an argument, she would resort to a real fight. Who would have thought that Guo Fu would be blind with rage and not understand his intention? She said, “Don’t meddle. I’m asking her to explain what she said.”

Lu Wushuang gave Yelu Qi a stare. She said, “A dog that bites visitors will give you trouble in the future.”

Yelu Qi blushed, knowing that Lu Wushuang had already figured out his feelings towards Guo Fu. What she meant was that Guo Fu was so irrational that she would give him infinite trouble in the future.

Seeing Yelu Qi blush, Guo Fu was greatly suspicious. She questioned, “You suspect that I’m not my parents’ daughter as well?”

Yelu Qi quickly said, “No, no. Let’s go. Don’t pay attention to her.”

Lu Wushuang butted in, “Naturally, he is suspicious. Otherwise, why does he want you to leave so quickly?”

Guo Fu’s face reddened, and she pressed her hand on the sword.

Yelu Qi could only advise, “Miss Lu’s words are mean and cutting. If you want to test her kungfu, just do it. There’s no need to talk.”

Lu Wushuang said, “He said you’ve got a dumb mouth. Talking too much will only reveal what a fool you are.”

Guo Fu had feelings for Yelu Qi, and so she was worried that he wouldn’t like her. Although other people were talking nonsense, when it involved her loved one, she had to think about it. As she thought about what Lu Wushuang said, she feared that Yelu Qi would really think badly of her. Her parents had doted on her since she was little, and the Wu brothers — her childhood friends — had always obeyed her. Except for her occasional quarrels with Yang Guo, she’d never had an argument like this. Today she ran into a ferocious opponent, who outpaced and outwitted her no matter what she said. Realizing that talking would result in more damage, she scolded, “If I don’t cripple your other foot today, my name is not Guo.”

Having said that, her sword moved like the wind, flying towards Lu Wushuang.

Lu Wushuang said, “No need to cripple my foot. Your real name is not Guo anyway. Maybe your name is Zhang or Li.” Lu Wushuang carried on calling her a ‘bastard.’

While they were exchanging these verbal attacks, the saber and the sword clashed, and the battle became more intense.

The Guo couple had taught their daughter the best of kungfu. Guo Fu was taught all the basics but it was difficult to master the skills in a short period of time. When it came to martial proclivity, Guo Fu had a stronger resemblance to her father and very little in common with her mother. And so, even though her foundation of orthodox kungfu was good, she still needed to refine her skills before she could use any lethal kungfu. Even so, Lu Wushuang wasn’t her match. Besides, her retreat wasn’t very agile because of a crippled foot. Guo Fu was burning with rage and she kept on attacking. Sword lights flashed as she was trying to stab Lu Wushuang’s right leg.

Cheng Ying was watching them fight, her brows creasing with worry. She thought, “Although my cousin’s name-calling isn’t nice, this Guo girl is too rude and too unreasonable. No wonder Yang Guo’s right arm was cut off by her. If they continue to fight, my cousin’s right leg will be difficult to save.”

She saw Lu Wushuang constantly retreating. Suddenly she heard the ‘chi’ sound as Lu Wushuang’s skirt was ripped open. She let out a soft cry, “Aiyo!”

Lu Wushuang stumbled back, her face pale. Guo Fu quickly took a couple of steps forward and brought her sword around in a horizontal swipe, slashing Lu Wushuang’s leg. Seeing that Guo Fu had already won but still kept on attacking and that Lu Wushuang was dangerously cornered, Cheng Ying stepped in gently, using both hands to block Guo Fu.

She said, “Miss Guo, please go light on her.”

Guo Fu lifted her sword. Seeing blood on the blade, she knew that Lu Wushuang had already been injured. She pointed her sword proudly at Lu Wushuang and said, “My lesson today will teach you not to spout nonsense again.”

The sword wound on Lu Wushuang’s leg was aching. She angrily said, “Are you going to use your sword to stop people from talking?” She knew that Guo Fu basked in her parents’ glory, so she pretended to say that Guo Fu was not Guo Jing and Huang Rong’s daughter.

Guo Fu shouted, “What did they say?”

She moved forward a step, with the tip of her sword straight towards Lu Wushuang’s chest.

Cheng Ying stepped in between them. Seeing the long sword arrive, she used three fingers to hold the blade and gently pushed it aside.

She persuaded, “Cousin, Miss Guo, we are in the middle of danger here. Let’s stop this senseless fight.”

Her sword was brushed aside by Cheng Ying’s bare hand. Guo Fu was half-startled and half-angry. She shouted, “Are you helping her? Good, good, good. Even two on one, I’m not afraid. Draw out your weapon!” After she said that, she pointed her long sword at Cheng Ying’s waist preparing to thrust. She waited calmly for her to pull out the jade flute from her waist.

With a faint smile Cheng Ying said, “I just asked you two not to fight, how can I fight you myself? Brother Yelu, please come and talk to Miss Guo.”

“Yes. Miss Guo, we are in the enemy territory. We’ve got to be careful everywhere we go.” Yelu Qi said.

Guo Fu quickly said, “Good. You don’t help me. Instead, you help an outsider.” Seeing that Cheng Ying was a girl of beauty and grace, she suddenly thought to herself, “Is he interested in her?”

Yelu Qi had no clue what she was thinking. He continued, “That monk Ci’en looked quite strange. Let’s go back to the hall and watch him.”

Lu Wushuang heard Guo Fu’s words and saw the look on her face. She understood what Guo Fu was worried about.

She said, “Compared to you, my cousin is prettier. Her behavior is gentler. And she had better kungfu. You’ve got to be very, very careful.”

These four sentences pierced Guo Fu’s heart. Nervously she asked, “Careful about what?”

Lu Wushuang sneered, “Even if I were an idiot, I would still prefer my cousin. You are rude and vicious, what’s so good about you?”

These words were so obvious, how could Guo Fu stand them? Her long sword flew out, swerving around Cheng Ying and flying towards Lu Wushuang.

This move of hers was called the ‘Jade Stance Guiding Silver Arrow,’ which was one of Huang Rong’s family techniques. The blade was swung in an arc and would strike the side of the target. The move appeared to be without haste but the damage zone was wide. Only one with higher sword skills would be able to block such a blow; otherwise, it was extremely difficult to escape.

Cheng Ying frowned. She thought to herself, “Why is this girl using her fiercest stance? My cousin only offends you with words. She isn’t your most hateful enemy. Why are you acting like you mean to kill a murderer?”

Fortunately, Huang Yaoshi had earlier taught her this sword stance. And so, she sent energy to her fingers, waiting for Guo Fu’s sword swing. Then with a clang, the long sword shot to the ground.

The technique Cheng Ying had just used was called ‘Divine Flicking Finger.’ But it came out strong only because Cheng Ying had understood Guo Fu’s technique and waited to strike when the power in Guo Fu’s sword dropped. Otherwise, since the two people’s martial skills were about the same level, Cheng Ying wouldn’t have been able to disarm Guo Fu with her fingers. Cheng Ying used her left foot to step on the long sword and the jade flute in her hand pointed at Guo Fu’s pressure point on her waist.

In a flash Cheng Ying had knocked Guo Fu’s sword out of her hand, stepped on it, and threatened Guo Fu’s pressure point. Guo Fu was in an extremely awkward situation. If she bent down to snatch the sword, the pressure point on her waist would be exposed. But if she jumped backwards, her long sword would of course be taken. Although her kungfu was not weak, she lacked battle experiences. At the moment, she was blushing profusely, not knowing what to do.

Yelu Qi shouted, “Hey, girl. Why did you step on my weapon?”

Then he leaned forward to grab the jade flute. Cheng Ying retracted her arm, and then she turned around to leave, pulling Lu Wushuang along with her.

Guo Fu snatched the long sword back. She called out, “Slow down, let’s see who the better person is.”

Lu Wushuang turned her head back and said, “Still want to…”

Cheng Ying grabbed her arm, dragging her cousin along. The two people were already twenty or thirty feet away from them, and so Lu Wushuang didn’t get to finish her sentence.

Yelu Qi said, “Miss Guo, she was just lucky with that move. Actually, the two of you are equals.”

Guo Fu bitterly said, “Right. I was swinging my sword in an arc. Before I could hit her, she took advantage of the moment the strength on my sword was void. I didn’t expect someone who looked quite refined to be sly like that.”

“Hmm.” Yelu Qi made a sound. He was a straight person. Not wanting to falsely flatter her, he said, “Miss Cheng’s kungfu isn’t weak. If you fight with her another time, you can’t underestimate her as an opponent.”

Hearing him commend Cheng Ying, Guo Fu frowned darkly. She couldn’t bear it and so she said, “Did you say her kungfu was good?”

Yelu Qi replied, “Yes.”

Guo Fu angrily said, “Then don’t mind me. Just go, be with her.”

As she said that she turned around.

Yelu Qi said, “I advised you not to underestimate the opponent. I asked you to be careful. Am I helping you, or am I helping her?”

Now that Yelu Qi had explained that he wanted her to protect herself, Guo Fu couldn’t help but smile.

Yelu Qi continued, “Didn’t I help you get the sword back? Why are you still blaming me?”

Guo Fu turned her head back and said, “I’m not. I’m not. I’m not blaming you!” A happy smile filled her face.

Yelu Qi was delighted but suddenly he heard repeated roars from inside the hall, accompanied by the interminable sounds of metal clanking.

Guo Fu cried out, “Aiyo, let’s go quickly and take a look.”

Originally, while listening to Qiu Qianchi ramble on about decades-ago events she did not realizing that a crisis was looming, the more she listened, the more annoyed she became. So she slipped out of the hall and ran into the Cheng-Lu cousins and fought with them. Now that she heard the strange sounds, her thoughts were on her mother. She rushed back into the hall.

In the middle of the hall Reverend Yideng sat cross-legged, holding a string of Buddhist rosary beads in his hands and reciting Buddhist sutras. He had a gentle look on his face. Monk Ci’en paced back and forth in the hall and often let out a roar, which sounded incredibly wicked. His hands were shackled, but the chain that linked the two cuffs had already been broken. When the two parts struck against each other, a clanking sound echoed in the hall. Qiu Qianchi also sat in the hall, her complexion pale. She was already ugly but at this time she looked fearsome. Huang Rong and Wu Santong were standing in a corner of the hall, intensely watching Ci’en.

Ci’en had been pacing around in a fit of insanity, and beads of sweat dripped profusely from his forehead. White steam emitted from the top of his head, looking like white clouds. These clouds were growing denser. And the more he paced, the faster he became. Reverend Yideng suddenly used his inner energy to shout, “Ci’en, Ci’en, distinguish between good and evil. Have you meditated today?”

Ci’en turned dull, his body swaying. He threw himself on the floor.

Qiu Qianchi shouted, “E’er, quickly go help your uncle up.”

Gongsun Lu’E did as told. Ci’en opened his eyes and saw Lu’E’s face. In his daze, Lu’E’s beautiful face, with long eyebrows and thin lips, looked very much like his sister when she was young.

He cried out, “Third sister, where am I?”

Lu’E said, “Uncle, I’m Lu’E.”

Ci’en muttered, “Uncle… who is your uncle? Who are you talking about?”

Qiu Qianchi shouted, “Second brother, she’s your third sister’s daughter. She wanted to meet her first uncle.”

Ci’en was startled. He said, “My big brother? You can’t meet him. He’s already fallen to death from the Iron Palms summit. His body was all gone.”

Then he jumped up. He looked at Huang Rong and shouted, “Huang Rong, you killed my big brother, you’ll pay for it!”

Arriving back in the hall, Guo Fu had stayed by her mother’s side, carrying her younger sister in her arms. Now that she saw Ci’en pointing his finger at her mother and scolding her, she couldn’t stand it.

And so, she stepped forward and said, “Monk, if you are rude again, this young girl won’t stand for it.”

Qiu Qianchi sneered, “This young girl is fearless…”

Ci’en asked, “Who are you?”

“Hero Guo is my father and Chief Huang is my mother,” replied Guo Fu.

Ci’en asked, “And the baby you are holding?”

Guo Fu said, “She’s my little sister.”

In a severe tone Ci’en said, “Humph, surprisingly Guo Jing and Huang Rong have two children.”

Hearing a strange tone in his voice, Huang Rong shouted, “Fu’er, get back here, quickly!”

Guo Fu saw that Ci’en was acting like a madman. After all this talking, he still hadn’t begun fighting. She thought he was afraid of her mother so she didn’t fear him. Instead, she moved a couple of steps forward. With a laugh she said, “If there’s revenge to extract, just get on with it. If not, don’t open your mouth!”

Ci’en shouted, “I will extract my revenge!”

His voice ripped through the air like a clap of thunder, and all the teacups were making ‘dang-dang’ rattling sounds. Guo Fu couldn’t move her hands and feet. She only saw his left and right hands coming at her with the force of a mountain being cast into the sea. She wanted to escape, but how could there be enough time?

As if by prior arrangement, Huang Rong, Wu Santong, and Yelu Qi jumped up into the air at the same time. The three people all noticed that even though Ci’en’s right hand was fierce, his left palm was far more lethal. So they all aimed at his left palm, and the four palms clashed with a ‘peng’ sound.

Ci’en let out a ‘hei’ sound and stood still but the three people fell back several steps. With the lowest skills, Yelu Qi was knocked back the furthest, and next to him was Huang Rong. Before she could steady herself, she saw that her daughter Guo Xiang had already been snatched by Ci’en. Guo Fu just stood there dumbly too frightened to escape.

Huang Rong was alarmed. She thought, “Was Fu’er hurt by that palm strike?” Immediately she jumped up and out, her left hand pulling Guo Fu back. She wielded the “Dog Beating Stick” with her right hand, using the ‘seal’ trick. Although Ci’en’s palms were fierce, he couldn’t hurt her this time. Guo Fu was actually not injured but she was confused. Now that she leaned against her mother’s body, she could let out an ‘ah’ cry.

As the battle began, the Wu brothers, Yelu Yan, and Wanyan Ping unsheathed their weapons. Qiu Qianchi signaled the many valley disciples to scatter, waiting for her order to besiege them. Only Reverend Yideng was still sitting cross-legged in the center of the hall as if he didn’t see all these things. He was reciting Buddhist sutras. His voice was not loud, but very clear.

Ci’en lifted Guo Xiang. He shouted, “This is Guo Jing and Huang Rong’s daughter. I’ll kill this girl first, and then I’ll kill Huang Rong!”

Qiu Qianchi said in delight, “Good second brother! You are really the world-famous “Iron Palms Floating on Water”, Chief Qiu!”

In this situation, Huang Rong and the others couldn’t defeat Ci’en in battle without anybody getting hurt; they didn’t even have a way to save the baby from this mad man.

In a loud voice Guo Fu suddenly shouted, “Yang Guo, big brother Yang, quickly come and save my little sister.”

When facing a disaster, Yang Guo had always come out of nowhere to save her. Seeing that nobody could do anything at this time, she naturally hoped that Yang Guo would come to her rescue again. But at the moment Yang Guo and Xiao Longnü were enjoying their time together. The two people walked slowly hand in hand, watching the sunset. How could they know about this urgent situation in the hall?

Ci’en used his right hand to hold Guo Xiang high above his head and brought his left palm on guard.

He sneered, “Yang Guo? Who’s Yang Guo? Now even if East Heretic, West Venom, South Emperor, North Beggar, and Central Divinity all came at once, they could only kill me, Qiu Qianren, but they wouldn’t be able to save this baby.”

Yideng slowly lifted his head and saw blood lust and murderous intent in Ci’en’s eyes. He said, “You want to seek revenge on people, people will then come and take revenge on you. What good can come of it?”

Ci’en shouted, “If they dare, come!” Now dusk had begun to fall, and the evening light entered the hall. Despair showed in everyone’s eyes, while his face looked absolutely terrifying.

Suddenly Huang Rong let out a ‘ha-ha’ laugh, her voice alternating between high and low pitches, like a lunatic. The people couldn’t help being frightened.

Guo Fu cried out “Ma!”

Wu Santong and Yelu Qi called out in one voice “Madame Guo!”

Their hearts were thumping wildly, thinking that she’d gone insane because the enemy had her daughter. She tossed her “Dog Beating Stick” to the floor, moving a couple of steps forward. Her laugh sounded mournful and shrill.

“Ma!” Guo Fu called out and tried to grab her arm. Huang Rong brushed Guo Fu aside with her right hand and jumped towards Ci’en with a miserable cry.

Even Qiu Qianchi hadn’t expected this. She stared at Huang Rong in disbelief.

Huang Rong stretched out both hands and gave Ci’en an evil stare. She cried out, “Quickly kill this child. Hit her hard. You can’t spare her.”

Color left Ci’en’s face. He held Guo Xiang close to his chest and said, “You… you… who are you?”

Huang Rong laughed crazily, her arms flinging out. Although Ci’en’s left palm was on guard, he didn’t dare to strike. He sidestepped and asked again, “Who are you?”

Huang Rong sadly replied, “Have you completely forgotten? One evening in the Dali Imperial Palace, you held a small child like this in your hand. Right, it was… it was.. You injured him badly and he eventually died. I am this child’s mother. Kill this child quickly. Kill this child quickly. What are you waiting for?”

Ci’en listened to her, and his whole body trembled. Events of decades-ago flashed in his mind.

Years ago, he’d injured Dali Imperial Concubine Liu’s child, hoping that the South Emperor would use years of cultivated inner energy to treat the child’s injury. But Emperor Duan had been cruel enough to let the child meet a violent death. Afterwards Concubine Liu and Ci’en had run into each other twice and she fought like a mad tiger, willing to die together with him. Although Ci’en’s kungfu was superior, he actually didn’t dare to fight her; instead he fled into the wasteland. Huang Rong had twice met Yinggu, on the Black Dragon beach and at the top of Mount Hua and seen her insane smile. She’d known that this was Ci’en’s biggest worry. And so, seeing Ci’en holding Guo Xiang in his arms but unable to harm her, she’d told him to kill Guo Xiang. Wu Santong, Qiu Qianchi, Yelu Qi and the others all thought that she’d gone totally insane. Only Reverend Yideng secretly admired Huang Rong for her great wisdom and courage. He thought to himself that a strong man wouldn’t have the gall to come up with such a scheme and say “Kill the child quickly.” When Ci’en was frighteningly violent like this, if he hit Guo Xiang even lightly, how could she not die a sudden death?

Ci’en looked at Huang Rong and Yideng. Then his eyes turned to the child in his hand. A surge of pain and regret suddenly hit him, and he sobbed, “He was dead! He was dead! The child was alive and well, and I killed him.”

He stepped towards Huang Rong and handed Guo Xiang to her. He said, “I killed this small baby. Please beat me to death!”

Overjoyed, Huang Rong reached out to take Guo Xiang. But then Yideng shouted, “Revenge breeds revenge; when will it stop? Your hand holds a murderous blade. When will you throw it away?”

Ci’en was startled, and Guo Xiang fell from his hand.

Huang Rong didn’t wait for Guo Xiang to fall to the floor, her right foot flew out. She kicked the child, sending her out in the air. At the same time, she laughed crazily and said, “You killed the child. Good. Good. This is wonderful.”

Her kick looked as if it was fierce but when her foot touched Guo Xiang’s waist, it actually stopped her from falling and gently sent her out again into the air. She knew that this was an extremely critical moment. If she bent down to pick up her daughter, perhaps Ci’en would change his mind.

Guo Xiang flew through the air towards Yelu Qi. He caught her and saw that her black eyes were sparkling, and that her little mouth was about to let out a big cry. She was indeed unharmed. He was first startled and then understood that Huang Rong, knowing that Guo Fu was rash, sent him her daughter. So, he covered the child’s mouth with his palm and shouted, “Aiyo, the child was killed by the monk.”

Ci’en’s face was deathly pale. All of a sudden he was awakened. He put his hands together and bowed to Yideng. He said, “Great monk, many thanks for saving me!”

Yideng bowed back and said, “Congratulations, great monk. You’ve found the right path!”

The two monks exchanged a smile. Ci’en ran out.

Qiu Qianchi quickly called out, “Second Brother, Second Brother, you come back!”

Ci’en turned his head back and said, “You call me to come back; I’m now asking you to come back too.” Having said that his gown sleeves flared out, and he floated out of the hall.

With a joyful expression on his face Yideng said, “Good, good, good!”

Then he retreated to a corner of the hall. He lowered his head, his eyebrows drooping, and said no more.

Huang Rong fixed her hair and got Guo Xiang back from Yelu Qi. Seeing that her mother was normal and her little sister was all right, Guo Fu was pleasantly surprised. She threw herself into her mother’s arms and said, “Ma, I thought you really went insane!”

Huang Rong walked over to Yideng and kowtowed. She said, “I (niece) had no other way but to mention that past affair. Reverend, please forgive me.”

With a faint smile Yideng replied, “Rong’er, Rong’er, you are really the female Zhuge!”

In the hall, Wu Santong was the only person who knew about the past events. Others were looking perplexed at one another.

After this unexpected turn of events, Qiu Qianchi saw her brother going out the screened door. She thought about how she wouldn’t see him again and couldn’t help becoming heavy-hearted. His words “You call me to come back, I’m now asking to you come back too” sounded like advice, urging her to control herself, repent and be salvaged. She secretly felt a pang of regret but her regret disappeared in a flash. All of a sudden, she proudly said, “Everybody, please wait here, I’m afraid this old woman can’t keep you company.”

Huang Rong said, “Hold on a minute! We’ve come here today to ask for the Passionless Pill…”

Qiu Qianchi nodded at her numerous disciples and they all responded with a war cry. Each entrance was blocked by four disciples in green, with an adorned fishnet in their hands. Four maids lifted Qiu Qianchi’s chair and retreated to the inner hall.

Seeing the power of the fishnets, Huang Rong, Wu Santong, Yelu Qi, and the others were secretly alarmed. They thought, “These fishnets are deadly, how can we break out of the trap?”

While they were hesitating, both the front door and the back door of the hall were being pulled shut, and the disciples in green all squeezed out. The Wu Brothers struck one of the doors with their swords. With a ‘peng’ sound, their double swords were caught in the crack of the door and immediately snapped. It seemed that these doors were cast from metal after all.

In a low voice Huang Rong said, “No need to be frightened! Even if we aren’t allowed to leave the hall, we can still think of a way to defeat those fishnets and get the antidote to help Yang Guo.”

Gongsun Lu’E followed her mother into the inner hall.

She asked, “Ma, what should we do?”

Seeing that her brother had abruptly departed and that skilled enemies were gathering, Qiu Qianchi knew she had a big problem. But the murderer of her brother had arrived; no matter who tried to persuade her, she would never yield. With a slight hesitation she said, “Go take a look. What are Yang Guo and those three girls doing?”

This was actually what Lu’E had wanted to do. She nodded in compliance and left for the kiln.

As she was halfway to the kiln, she heard voices ahead of her. It was Yang Guo and Xiao Longnü talking. It seemed that they said something about ‘Miss Gongsun.’ By this time, the sky had become totally dark, and Lu’E hid herself in a willow grove nearby. She thought, “What are they talking about?”

She gingerly stepped forward, approaching them without making a sound. She saw Yang Guo and Xiao Longnü standing side by side.

Yang Guo said, “You said these matters revolved around Miss Gongsun. That’s absolutely right. If the Divine Monk wakes up, all past animosity is buried, and all the poisons are expelled, won’t that be wonderful? Aiyo!”

Lu’E jumped as Yang Guo let out a sudden cry, not knowing what had just happened to him. She was worried and couldn’t help poking her head out to look around. In the darkness, she saw Yang Guo fall to the ground.

Xiao Longnü hoarsely said, “The Passion Flower poison is acting up again?”

“Mmm…aah…” Yang Guo could only let out a groan.

This pain was very difficult to endure. Lu’E pitied him and thought to herself, “He’s already taken half of the Passionless pill. He needs the other half to get rid of the poisons, and he can only get this other half from mother.”

After a while, Yang Guo got up and let out a long gasp.

Xiao Longnü said, “Your seizures are getting more and more frequent, and every time more severe than the last one. The Divine Monk still has to regain consciousness before he can find the antidote. Even then, there may not necessarily… there may not necessarily… You must be in a lot of pain.”

She’d wanted to say “there may not necessarily be enough time” but she changed her last sentence.

With a bitter smile Yang Guo said, “This old Madame Gongsun is extremely stubborn. She’s hidden the antidote. Unless she wants to give it to me herself, even if we kill everybody in the valley and hold a knife against her neck, she still won’t give it up.”

“But I actually have a method,” said Xiao Longnü.

Yang Guo could guess what she was thinking and so he said, “Long’er, don’t say it. We…husband and wife, sincerely love each other. If we can grow old together, naturally we’ll thank heaven and earth. If something bad happens, its fate. No third person may come between the two of us.”

Xiao Longnü sobbed, “That Gongsun girl… She looks like a very good person. She will listen to me.”

Lu’E’s heart shook, understanding that Xiao Longnü was urging Yang Guo to marry her to save his own life. But then she heard Yang Guo’s reply.

In a resonant voice he said, “Miss Gongsun is a naturally good person. There are really quite a few good girls, aren’t there? Miss Cheng Ying and Miss Lu Wushuang were also the kind of girls who love deeply. But your heart and mine are one, how can we let other people intervene? You think, if there was a man who could get rid of the poisons in your body and he wanted you to give up your body, would you or would you not agree to it?”

“I’m a female. That would be unthinkable,” replied Xiao Longnü.

With a chuckle Yang Guo said, “To others, men are superior to women. To Yang Guo, it’s the other way around…”

As he was saying this, he suddenly heard a sound coming from a dense thicket. Yang Guo asked, “Who is it?”

Lu’E thought she’d been spotted and was about to reply. Suddenly she heard a female voice, “Dumb egg, it’s me!”

Then she saw Lu Wushuang and Cheng Ying step out from behind a thicket. And so, she used this opportunity to move back quietly. Her mind was in turmoil.

She thought, “Aside from comparing myself to Miss Long, look at Miss Cheng and Miss Lu’s beauty, kungfu, and past friendship with Yang Guo, how can I ever match them?”

When she met Yang Guo, she couldn’t help falling in love with him. She’d known that he was serious about Xiao Longnü but, deep in her heart, she still hoped that he could take two wives. Now that she’d heard his words, she realized that all her hopes were in vain. She’d been sad since she was little but today she was completely disheartened. She made up her mind that she no longer wanted to live, and then she walked away westward.

Low-spirited, she walked aimlessly. She didn’t know where she was. There was only a voice in her head, “I don’t want to live anymore. I don’t want to live anymore.”

She didn’t know how long she’d been walking when, suddenly, she heard voices coming from behind some mountain rocks. She pulled herself together feeling slightly startled. She’d been wandering about aimlessly, and to her own surprise she’d arrived on the west side of the valley where very few people frequented. She looked up and saw a mountain peak rising towards the sky. This was the most dangerous zone of the Passionless Peak.

On this mountain ledge, she could see the three letters ‘Broken Heart Cliff’ that someone had carved on the cliff ages ago, and twenty or thirty feet in front of her was a slippery and barren ledge where not even a blade of grass was seen. The place was enveloped by a blanket of fog all year long, and the wind here was so violent that even a bird would find it difficult to perch on this cliff top. Beyond and below was an abyss of shadows that no one could see the bottom of. The area surrounding the ‘Broken Heart Cliff’ was quiet and beautiful because the terrain was so rugged and dangerous. Slippery rocks made it very easy to fall into the abyss below. The valley dwellers stayed clear of this area, and even those disciples in green with their kungfu wouldn’t dare to come here. This being the case, she didn’t know whose voices she was hearing.

Originally Gongsun Lu’E was resigned to die but at this moment she became curious. She hid herself behind a rock pile and listened. Her heart jumped as she learned that it was her father talking. Although her father had wronged her mother and had been ruthless with her, she was still his daughter. She’d been worried about him since her mother blinded one of his eyes with a date stone and banished him from the Passionless Valley. Hearing the familiar voice, she now knew that he hadn’t left the valley. Instead, he’d come to this remote place to hide. She was secretly happy.

Then she heard him talk, “You’ve been beaten black and blue, and I actually lost my eye. It’s all because of that small thief Yang Guo. Not only do we have a common enemy, we share the same problem.” After saying that he smiled, but the other person didn’t reply. Lu’E felt this was quite strange. Who was her father talking to? His tone was faintly frivolous, was that person a female?

Then Gongsun Zhi continued, “We ran into each other at this rarely-frequented place. We were thousands of li apart, yet we met as if by predestination. It must be fate.”

That female let out a ‘pei’ sound in contempt. She angrily said, “I’ve been thoroughly injured by the Passion Flowers. Yet, you made light of it and mock me with such laughable nonsense.”

Lu’E thought to herself, “Oh, it’s Li Mochou who just broke into the valley today.”

Then she heard Gongsun Zhi quickly say, “No, no. Why would I make light of it? Naturally I will do all I can. Your body is in pain, so is my heart.”

The person Gongsun Zhi was talking to was of course Li Mochou. Her whole body was pricked by the Passion Flowers, and so the poison in her body was not small. Luckily she was filled with anger and hatred towards heaven and earth, not the sentiments between man and woman, and so her body wasn’t in that much pain. But she knew that the poison was deadly. While urgently searching for the antidote, she wandered about aimlessly on the crisscrossing paths inside the valley and unexpectedly arrived at this Broken Heart Cliff. Gongsun Zhi had actually been here for a long time, hiding from all the valley people and waiting for the right moment to kill Qiu Qianchi and reclaim his Valley Chief position.

The two of them had once fought so they both knew each other’s skills. After they met, they thought, “I’m having trouble in this valley, I could use some help.” By this short exchange of words, they were actually trying to strike a bargain.

Since the death of his beloved Rou’er years ago, Gongsun Zhi had been concentrating on his kungfu practice and ignoring beautiful females. But then he failed to marry Xiao Longnü. His long-suppressed lust gushed out like a broken dam, out of control. With his status, his attempt to abduct Wanyan Ping was considered extremely low in Jianghu. Now that he’d run into Li Mochou and saw her beauty, he thought, “After I kill that evil woman Qiu Qianchi, I’d better marry this woman. With her kungfu, she’s exactly my match.”

What he didn’t know was that Li Mochou was extremely vicious and without mercy and that the cause of her evil was none other than this ‘passion.’ At the moment, Gongsun Zhi’s words had become bolder and bolder, how could she not be enraged? But she wanted the antidote, so she had no choice but to feign interest, offering a perfunctory reply.

Gongsun Zhi said, “I’m the original chief of the valley. There’s no second person in the world who knows how to make the antidote to this flower poison. But the manufacturing process is time-consuming, and you won’t have enough time for that. Luckily, there’s one pill left in the valley, in that evil woman’s hand. Let us go get rid of her, then everything will be yours.”

His last sentence had a double meaning. It actually meant that not only would she get the antidote, she would also become the mistress of the Passionless Valley. That Gongsun Zhi was the only person in the world who knew how to make the antidote was not a lie. Passion Flowers had grown in this valley for a long time, and Gongsun Zhi’s ancestors had taken many lives, experimenting to get the right antidote. These passionless flowers stopped outsiders from entering the valley so of course they didn’t get rid of them. Anyhow, the antidote formula was only handed down from father to son so it wouldn’t fall into the hands of other people. Even Qiu Qianchi only knew that the pills they had were left by the previous generation and that the antidote formula had already been lost. But what Gongsun Zhi actually didn’t know was that Qiu Qianchi only had half a pill left.

Li Mochou hesitated and said, “Since it is so, aren’t you making an empty promise? Your wife has the antidote but you and she have become enemies. Even though killing her isn’t that hard, how will you actually get the antidote?”

Gongsun Zhi hesitated to reply. After a while he said, “Taoist Li, you and I have met by fate. Even if I die I have no regrets.”

Li Mochou blandly said, “You flatter me.”

Gongsun Zhi said, “I’ve got a plan. I can capture that evil person and force her to give up the pill. But I hope you can promise me one thing.”

Li Mochou said in agitation, “I’ve roamed Jianghu all my life. I come and go as I please and no one can ever force me to do anything. If you are willing to give me the antidote, do it. If not, just drop it. How can it be that I, Li Mochou, would ever beg for my life?”

Although Gongsun Zhi’s kungfu was strong, he’d been secluded in the valley his entire life. As a result, he didn’t know about Jianghu’s most ferocious characters. He only knew a little about decades-ago names that Qiu Qianchi had mentioned. Over the past ten years, the name Scarlet Serpent Deity Li Mochou had shaken Jianghu, and there was no one in the martial world who didn’t know that. Although Li Mochou did look like a peach, her heart was that of a serpent. Gongsun Zhi actually didn’t know any of this. As he heard her arrogant words, he was very pleased.

He quickly said, “You misunderstood my meaning. I only hoped you would do something for me. How could it be that I was forcing you? To snatch the antidote, we have to kill my daughter. If I said something inappropriate, please don’t be offended.”

Gongsun Lu’E was hiding behind a big rock. Hearing ‘we have to kill my daughter,’ she couldn’t help but tremble.

Li Mochou was also taken aback. “The antidote is in your daughter’s hands?”

“No,” replied Gongsun Zhi. “I’ll tell you the truth! That evil woman is excessively stubborn and violent. The antidote must be hidden in an extremely concealed place and we cannot possibly force her to hand it over. We can only resort to trickery, it’s the only way.”

“That sounds correct,” said Li Mochou, nodding in agreement.

“That wretch is heartless to everyone and there are no limits to her viciousness. However she does care for her daughter and her alone. We can use this to our advantage. I’ll trick Lu’E so you can capture her and toss her into the flower thickets, then that evil woman will have no choice but to retrieve the Passionless Pill to save her daughter. We’ll seize this opportunity to snatch it – there’s no reason why we’ll fail. It’s a pity there’s only one Passionless Pill in the world, and since it’s going to you, my daughter’s life cannot be saved.”

“We don’t actually have to use real Passion Flowers to prick your daughter. We just need to put on an act and make her seem like she’s poisoned – this way, we get the pill and your daughter stays safe.”

Gongsun Zhi sighed. “That wretch is extremely shrewd. If my daughter was merely poisoned by something else, it will not go unnoticed.” His voice became constrained towards the end and he choked, as if he was really becoming emotional.

Li Mochou said, “How can I let your daughter be harmed in exchange for my life? It seems also that you are reluctant to part with her. Let’s drop this matter.”

Gongsun Zhi said hurriedly; “No…no! Although I hate to part with her, it would be worse to part with you.”

Li Mochou remained silent, admitting as much that there really was no other way.

“Let’s wait here,” said Gongsun Zhi. “I’ll call her out when it’s past midnight. Clever she might be, but she would never guess that her father has got something up his sleeve.”

Gongsun Lu’E heard every sentence that had just transpired between the two, and the more she dwelled on it the more she was afraid. When Gongsun Zhi dropped her and Yang Guo into the alligator pit that day, she knew her father cared naught of their father-daughter relationship. But that day’s events could be explained as a rash fit of anger. This day, he had actually plotted and schemed to end his daughter’s life in order to please a woman he had just met. His heartlessness and cruelty truly exceeded that of the most savage beasts.

Gongsun Lu’E had originally lost her will to live, but when she heard them plotting her murder, she instinctively wanted to try and escape. It was a good thing that the area had plenty of hills and dense forests, making hiding places aplenty. And so she lightly took one step back, and after a few moments, took another step back. In this manner, she retreated tens of feet before finally turning around to flee.

After an hour’s journey, she was far from Passionless Valley. Knowing her father would come for her soon, she didn’t even dare to return to her bedroom. She sat perched on a rock, desolate. The cold wind pierced her flesh and the pale moon shone mercilessly down. There was nothing left in this world that she longed for, and she mumbled to herself, “I didn’t want to go on living anyway. Why did you still devise this plot to kill me, father? If you want to kill me, come along and kill me. It’s very strange, why did I escape?”

Suddenly, a notion struck her like a bolt of lightning: Father is vicious, but his scheme is brilliant. Since I’m going to commit suicide anyway, I might as well use his scheme to trick the Pill from mother and save Brother Yang. Then you, husband and wife, will have me to thank for your reunion – me, the ill-fated girl who cared for him with all her heart. At this thought, her heart was filled with a mixture of gladness and sorrow, but nevertheless she found her energy once again. She glanced at her surroundings to ascertain her location. Then, she rose and walked towards her mother’s bedroom.

When she passed by the Passionless Flowers, she severed two flower stalks. Holding them in her hands, she walked to her mother’s bedroom door and called in a low voice, “Mother, are you asleep?”

Qiu Qianchi answered from her room, “E’er, what is it?”

Lu’E cried, “Mother, mother! I’ve been pricked by the Passion Flowers.” As she spoke, she embraced the flower stalks and pushed down forcefully onto her chest.

The hundreds and thousands of little thorns sank into her flesh all at once. Since her childhood she had been repeatedly warned against getting pricked by the flowers. Because she did not have the capacity for such risks then, she suffered no serious injury despite being pricked occasionally. But as she grew up, the warnings from people around her became sterner. After more than 10 years of cautiously avoiding this object – to think that now, she was actually pricking herself on purpose! The pain in her heart grew a level deeper and she grits her teeth, calling again and again, “Mother!”

Shocked to hear that something was wrong with her, Qiu Qianchi anxiously ordered the maidservants to open the door and help Lu’E inside. Lu’E exclaimed, “I have the Passion Flower thorns in my body, you can’t come near me.” The color drained from the two maidservants’ faces and they opened the room door wide, allowing Lu’E to walk in herself. How would they dare to touch her body?

Upon seeing her daughter’s shivering body with a face as pale as death, and with two Passion Flower stalks hanging from her chest, Qiu Qianchi asked hurriedly, “What happened to you? What happened?”

Lu’E cried, “Its father…Its father!” Afraid of her mother’s suffocating gaze, she lowered her head, not daring to make eye contact.

Qiu Qianchi said furiously, “And you still call him ‘father’? What did that old thief do?”

“He… he…”

“Lift up your head and let me see you.”

Lu’E obeyed and met her mother’s frightening eyes. She shivered and said, “He… he was speaking secretively with the pretty Taoist priestess on Duan Chang Cliff… the priestess that came to the Valley today. I hid behind a rock to hear what they were saying…” Up till now, Lu’E had been speaking the truth. But after this point she would have to spin a lie, and afraid her mother would notice something unusual, she lowered her head.

Qiu Qianchi pressed, “What did the two of them say?”

Lu’E said, “They spoke of being together in illness, and something about being extraordinarily fated. They… they kept calling you ‘wretch’ and ‘evil woman’, and I couldn’t stomach it…” At this, she started weeping.

Grinding her teeth, Qiu Qianchi said, “Don’t cry…don’t cry! What happened next?”

“I accidentally moved from my position, and they realized my presence. That priestess… that priestess then pushed me into the flower thickets.”

Sensing hesitation in her tone, Qiu Qianchi said, “No, you’re lying! What really happened? Don’t even think of hiding it from me.”

Lu’E broke out in cold sweat. “I didn’t lie to you, this… aren’t these Passion Flowers?”

“There was something wrong with your intonation,” said Qiu Qianchi. “You have been like this since young, unable to tell lies of any sort. How would I, as your mother, not know this?”

An idea came to Lu’E and she said, “Mother, I was lying, it was actually father who pushed me into the thickets. He was angry at me for following you and helping you, saying that I only wanted mother and not father. He… he was trying his utmost to please that pretty Taoist priestess.”

Qiu Qianchi hated her husband to the core and Lu’E’s words struck precisely at her heart’s threshold, suiting her perfectly. Immediately she had no further doubts and took Lu’E’s lies to be true. She hurriedly held her daughter’s hand and said gently, “Lu’E, don’t be afraid, your mother will deal with that old thief. There was always going to be a time where we finally vented this hatred in our hearts.” She then ordered the maidservants to bring her a pair of scissors and tweezers. First she removed the stalks from Lu’E’s chest, and then used the tweezers to extract the broken thorns.

Choking with grief, Lu’E said, “Mother, I don’t think I’ll survive this time round.”

“Don’t worry, we still have one half of the Passionless Pill,” said Qiu Qianchi. “Luckily we didn’t waste it on that heartless scoundrel Yang Guo. After taking the half Pill, you still won’t be totally rid of the poison but if you be good and stay by mother, completely ignoring all worthless men, or even completely shutting them out from your thoughts, then you’ll definitely be safe.” Qiu Qianchi had bitterly endured her husband’s torture, and then Yang Guo refused to become her son-in-law. She hated all the world’s men with a vengeance, and there would be nothing better than if her daughter remained unmarried all her life.

Lu’E frowned in silence. Qiu Qianchi asked, “Where’s that old thief and the Taoist priestess? Where are they?”

Lu’E replied, “I struggled up from the flower thickets and didn’t dare look back. They’re probably still there.”

Qiu Qianchi thought to herself: “Now that the old thief has found a powerful helper, he will definitely return to claim back the Valley. The disciples here are all probably his followers. In a confrontation, they would undoubtedly help the old thief. Either that or they will just sit on the fence, not helping any side, but they will definitely not oppose him. All my limbs are crippled and I can only use my date stone skill. If fired at an unprepared opponent, its power is extremely great. But that old thief will be on his guard and I will probably not be able to withstand his attacks. If he uses the tablet to attack, then I will be left with no devices. What, then, should I do?” Qiu Qianchi’s eyes flickered as she remained silent, deep in thought.

Thinking that her mother was now deliberating if her words were truth or fallacy, she was terrified that more questions would be asked and the truth exposed, eventually. Her own pain and suffering was secondary, but if she failed to get the Passionless Pill, Yang Guo would never be rid of the poison. The moment Yang Guo flitted into her mind, a huge pain seized her chest and she let out a cry. Qiu Qianchi reached out and caressed her daughter’s hair, saying, “Let’s go and retrieve the Passionless Pill.” With two claps of her hand, the maidservants carried her chair out of the room.

Ever since Yang Guo left the valley previously, Lu’E had always wanted to know where her mother had hidden the half Passionless Pill. She had heard her mother mention before that the pill must never be hidden near her, or anyone could kill her and obtain it through a simple search. Lu’E thought to herself that since her mother was disabled and required people to carry her around, the pill couldn’t possibly be hidden in some place of extremely great height. Hiding it in the mountain caves or secluded valleys was also out of the question, so it should be hidden within the manor. But Lu’E had spent the last ten days or so searching the Pill Room, the Sword Room, the garden and the bedrooms, but there was no sign of it anywhere. Presently, the maidservants carried Qiu Qianchi towards the Great Hall, and this came as a big surprise. The Hall was where everyone frequented and it was the hardest place to conceal an object. Furthermore, strong opponents seeking the Passionless Pill were now congregated in the Great Hall itself. Could it be that the Pill had been there all along for anyone’s taking?

The metal doors of the Great Hall had been firmly shut and the disciples were guarding it with their knives and fishnets. Upon seeing Qiu Qianchi’s arrival, the disciples went forward and saluted. The head disciple bowed and said, “The enemies have not made any move and seem to be helplessly waiting for death.”

Qiu Qianchi retorted with a “humph”, thinking: “What of a frog in the well, not knowing the vastness of earth and sky. These are no ordinary people who have come with ill intentions. How could they be ones to helplessly wait for death?” Aloud, she commanded, “Open the door!” Two disciples opened the metal door while another eight flanked Qiu Qianchi, guarding her with two fishnets. Together, they moved into the Hall.

Yideng, Huang Rong, Wu Santong and Yelu Qi were all sitting in one corner of the Hall. After Qiu Qianchi’s maidservants lowered her chair onto the floor, she said, “All here except Huang Rong and her two daughters are free to leave without hindrance. I will not pursue your crime of intruding into the Valley, so please take your leave immediately.”

Huang Rong smiled and said, “Valley-Owner Qiu, a misfortune looms over your head and still you do not know enough to flee. Instead you come here and exaggerate your importance. It makes one’s teeth go cold.”

Qiu Qianchi’s heart chilled at this, thinking: “How does she know a misfortune looms? Could it be that she knows the old thief has returned?” She said coolly, “Whether it is a blessing or misfortune, retribution will reveal. This old lady is a cripple with handicapped limbs, what else can I be afraid of?”

Of course, Huang Rong knew nothing of Gongsun Zhi’s return. But one’s countenance speaks everything: she noticed that there was a furrow in Qiu Qianchi’s brow and could tell that something weighed heavily on her mind. This was a contrast to the arrogant and ruthless expression she wore when exiting the Hall. Huang Rong conjectured that something must have cropped up in the Valley and so, said a few words to verify. Qiu Qianchi’s defensive response told her that she was most probably right.

“Valley-Owner Qiu, your elder brother slipped and fell into the depths of the valley himself, and was definitely not harmed by junior. If you still bear a grudge over this matter then junior will not try to avoid death, but you must first hand over the antidote to cure Yang Guo’s poison,” said Huang Rong. “If I do die, all my friends here will bear no grudge against you for it and will even help you fend off this pending misfortune and fight the internal enemy. Do you accept this bargain?”

Huang Rong’s offer seemed extremely advantageous to Qiu Qianchi, seeing as the latter, being a cripple, could only rely on her powerful date stone skill to inflict any kind of harm. Mentioning the words ‘internal enemy’ also struck Qiu Qianchi’s biggest worry.

Qiu Qianchi thought to herself: “Isn’t this too good to be true?” Aloud, she said: “You are Leader of the Beggar Clan, so I assume you will hold true to your words. Should I strike you with three of my date stones, you will not dodge or use any weapon to deflect them?”

Before Huang Rong could even reply, Guo Fu butted in, “My mother just said she will not avoid it, but she never said she wouldn’t use a weapon to deflect it.”

Huang Rong smiled and said, “If Valley-Owner Qiu wants to vent her heart’s hatred, then junior will certainly not use any weapons to deflect.”

“Mother! How can this do?” cried Guo Fu. Her long sword had earlier been broken by the date stone’s strike, and she knew its power was incomparable. Her mother was after all made of flesh and blood, how could she survive without avoiding or deflecting?

But Huang Rong thought: “The Guo family owes Guo’er a huge debt. Now that he has contracted this deadly poison, we must obtain the antidote no matter what. Her date stone skill is one of the deadliest projectile arts in the world, if I let her hit me with three stones it is indeed dangerous. Just a slight moment of carelessness will cost me my life, but how would she be willing to hand over the antidote otherwise?”

Huang Rong had chosen her words wisely, making sure that Qiu Qianchi’s every need was met. The intention was to lessen her bitterness and worry. In her moment of anxiety they would help her fend off her enemy, and to lessen her bitterness she would be free to injure Huang Rong in the only way she could. Even Qiu Qianchi herself would not be able to think a more advantageous offer than this.

But Qiu Qianchi suspected it was too good to be true. She said hoarsely: “You are my mortal enemy, yet here you are, willing to take three date stones from me. What scheme are you hiding? What ill intentions do you have?”

Huang Rong went forward and said in a low voice, “There are many pairs of eyes and ears in this place, most of which harbor ill intentions towards you. I’m going to whisper a few things in your ear.”

Qiu Qianchi swept a glance at all the disciples and thought: “Amongst them are many of the old thief’s followers. Indeed I should be careful.” She nodded.

Huang Rong went near and whispered, “Your enemy will be attacking soon. Isn’t junior in a precarious situation as well? Let us quickly bury this hatchet and, no matter if junior lives or dies everyone can fight side-by-side and resist the enemy. Furthermore I am indebted to Yang Guo; I must obtain the Passionless Pill for him even if it costs me my life. If one does not know how to repay kindness, would he be any different to any beast on this earth?” Ending her sentence, she took three steps back and concentrated her gaze on Qiu Qianchi.

At the words ‘if one does not know how to repay kindness, would he be different to any beast’, Qiu Qianchi gave a start, thinking: “If it wasn’t for that fellow Yang Guo who saved me, I’d still be all alone in that underground cave, suffering in silence.” But this thought came and went as fast as lightning and her heart hardened once more. She said icily: “Your pretty words do nothing to change my iron heart. Come, come! Take three of my date stones!”

Huang Rong flung her sleeve and said, “Then I’ll put my life on the line and take three of your iron date stones.” As she spoke she moved backwards, stopping in the middle of the Hall about thirty feet from Qiu Qianchi. “Please fire your date stones!”

Though Wu Santong knew that Huang Rong was always full of wit and ideas, everyone was witness to the power of Qiu Qianchi’s date stone skill. Now, seeing Huang Rong standing there barehanded, all their hearts beat anxiously. Guo Fu was even more worried and walked over to Huang Rong, tugging at her sleeve. “Mother,” she whispered. “Let’s find a place, I’ll give you the Hedgehog Armor so you can put it on, then we don’t have to be afraid of that old hag’s deadly projectiles.”

Huang Rong slid. “What’s the point if I use the Hedgehog Armor to block the date stones? Wait and see your mother’s method.”

At this moment, Qiu Qianchi said: “Everyone else move…” before the word ‘aside’ left her mouth, a date stone had already been fired at Huang Rong’s abdomen. Though it was just a tiny date stone, it sliced through the air so violently that the sound of its speed sounded like a shrill flute. With a high-pitched cry, Huang Rong bent over, clutching her stomach.

Guo Fu, Wu Santong and the others were horrified and before they could go over to help her up, the ‘flute’ sounded again – the second date stone had been fired, this time at Huang Rong’s chest. Again, with a loud cry, Huang Rong swayed and moved unsteadily backwards, looking like she was about to fall.

Qiu Qianchi saw that Huang Rong was indeed true to her word, making no attempt to dodge. The two date stones had already struck the essential points of her body. With that same kind of compelling force, the iron date stones could break even a rock, what more of human flesh? But Huang Rong had sustained two date stones without falling, obviously hanging on despite the pain to receive the third date stone. Secretly astounded, Qiu Qianchi thought to her self: “At first I thought this woman looked too delicate to possess any real substance as Leader of the Beggar Clan. But now it seems like she is indeed a formidable pugilist!”

At the thought of Huang Rong’s imminent death after receiving two date stones, she couldn’t help but feel pleased. With a “po” sound, the third date stone left her mouth. This time, it went for Huang Rong’s throat. With the stone penetrating the throat, her brother’s killer would definitely die on the spot.

When Huang Rong said that she would take three hits of her date stones, she had yet to think of any good ideas, knowing that she could only do so in exchange for the Pill. She would then die and repay her debt to Yang Guo. But after having a quiet chat with Qiu Qianchi, she had a notion which invoked many thoughts in her brain, a plan struck her mind. Huang Rong had secretly picked up Guo Fu’s sword. It had been broken earlier by the fired date stones. She had it hidden in her sleeve. When the dates were fired later, she could bend her elbow and use the broken sword’s handle to deflect the stone. But the impact of the date stones and the sword would cause a metallic sound, so she had shouted two times to cover the sounds. This clever move had indeed perfectly prevented Qiu Qianchi from suspecting anything.

Huang Rong had deliberately faked being injured severely as these could both reduce the anger of Qiu Qianchi and save her face for being the master of the valley. The third date stone was aimed to hit her throat, so Huang Rong could not raise her sleeve, and block it with the hidden sword handle. If she did, Qiu Qianchi would then be able to see through the ruse. This would expose her breaking of the covenant of not blocking and not avoiding. In the situation now, she could only accept the risk. She slightly bent both of her elbows, waiting for the date stone to fly to her lips. Her chest had already been filled with ‘Zhen Qi’, and when she opened her mouth, with all her effort, she pushed the ‘Zhen QI’ out of her mouth. It was all because she knew where the date stones would come that caused her to be so flexible. She used her ‘Zhen Qi’ against Qiu Qianchi’s as her’s was near but Qiu Qianchi’s was far. She could then take great advantage of this situation and reduce the speed of the date stones. One thing she did not know was, that in the past, Qiu Qianchi had been living in a cave alone. Though her limbs were disabled, she had practiced spitting date stones everyday and all the time not wondering about other things.

Huang Rong, on the other hand, had gong li that was not as deep and profound as Qiu Qianchi’s. She still had to take care of the matters of the Beggar Clan, protecting Xiangyang, giving birth to children and teaching her disciples. How could she compare with Qiu Qianchi? Thus, when her ‘Zhen Qi’ was released, the date stone’s speed was only reduced a little, as it was not comparable to the force and power of the flying date stone.

Huang Rong was shocked when she noticed this, but the date stone was already in front of her lips. She had no other ideas and so she opened her mouth and bit at the date stone as hard as possible. The force of the iron date stone shook her teeth terribly and created awful pain in her gums. She was staggered and stepped back two steps. The date stone had really forced her back this time. But, fortunately for her fast thinking in such a short time and the two quick back steps she took, her front teeth were saved or else they would have broken off immediately after the hit. Though they were saved from breaking off, the impact had her gums bleeding.

The people standing around shouted in shock together, and surrounded her. Huang Rong raised her head and spit out the date stone and it stuck in one of the wooden planks of the roof. She frowned and said, “Qiu Valley Master, sister has taken your three date stone hits, my life will not last long. I only hope you will not break your promise and give me the pill.” Qiu Qianchi saw that she could even stop her swift flying date stone by biting it, and was a little shocked as well, but she could not understand why the first two date stones did not cause her to fall down though they were shot into her body with great force. She glanced at Gongsun Lu’E, and thought, ‘My daughter has been poisoned by the Passion Flower. Even if he becomes my son-in-law, how could I still give the remaining half Passionless Pill to him..?’ But just now she had agreed, in front of everyone, that she would give Huang Rong the pill. She could not deny it. She had a plan suddenly and spoke, “Guo Madam, though both of us are women, we do what we promise, it is always this way. You have voluntarily taken my three date stones; such bravery is very rare now in this world. I admire you very much, and so the pill I will surely give you. If I am in trouble, I do wish everyone here could lend me a helping hand.”

Guo Fu really thought her mother had taken the three date stones without trickery, and shouted, “If my mother is injured heavily, everyone here would have already fought with their lives against you.” She turned her head towards Huang Rong and said, “Ma…where did the old woman’s date stones hit you?”

Huang Rong did not answer her daughter’s question, but spoke to Qiu Qianchi instead, “My daughter speaks nonsense. Valley Master need not take it seriously. Sister had always spoken and done what she says and will voluntarily help Valley Master force the enemy to retreat if you could give me the pill.” Wu Santong and the others had heard Huang Rong speak with clear and bright voice and plenty of air in her lungs. They were slowly feeling relieved when she didn’t seem to be injured at all. Qiu Qianchi had also noticed it too. She was very shocked and confused deep in her heart, and thought, “She has such great martial arts that makes it even more difficult for me to break the promise. I can only lie to her.” She nodded and spoke, “I would thank you first then.” And turned her head towards her daughter and said, “Come over here Lu’E, I have something to say.”

Huang Rong had faced so many people who were cunning and unfaithful in her life. She had already noticed there was something amiss when Qiu Qianchi’s eyes blinked non stop. She knew that Qiu Qianchi would not easily give up the pill, but she could not think of any trickery to use yet. She only heard Qiu Qianchi say, “Go ahead in front of me and flip over the fifth tile.” Gongsun Lu’E was both shocked and amazed, ‘Could it be that the Passionless Pill is hidden under the tile..?’ Once Huang Rong heard what she said, she was astonished and praised her in her heart for being so cautious and clever. “This Passionless Pill is so precious that there are many who wanted to have it. It is really ingenious of her to keep it in such an unthinkable place. The pill kept under the tile must really be the real one. She could not possibly have thought that she could be left in such a situation as now, and keep a fake pill under the tile.” If Qiu Qianchi was to order her servants to go any medicine room or pharmacy to get the pill, Huang Rong would have wondered if the pill was the real one or a fake one. But now, when she saw Gongsun Lu’E following her mother’s orders to flip the tile over, she had fewer worries.

Gongsun Lu’E counted to the fifth tile and pried it up with the small dagger from her waist. She saw dust and ashes under the tile, which was nothing unusual. Qiu Qianchi then spoke, “The hidden secret under the tile cannot be known by others, Lu’E, come over here.”

Huang Rong knew that Qiu Qianchi had some cunning thoughts, deliberately acted as though she was seriously injured. She bent herself down slowly so Qiu Qianchi would suspect nothing about her yet. Then, she tilted her ear slightly towards them, trying to eavesdrop on their words. She gave full attention toward them but to no avail. She could only hear “the Passionless Pill is under the green tile” these seven words. This information was not much of a use, as she already knew that the pill was underneath the tile. Qiu Qianchi’s voice gradually softened, and thus she was not able to hear another word. She took a look back at Gongsun Lu’E but there was only a slight frown on her face. She was also nodding in reply.

Huang Rong was already in a frantic state, as she knew that the situation was aggravating but had no way to deal with it. Suddenly, she heard Reverend Yideng speak, “Rong’er, come over here so I can see your wounds…” Huang Rong turned her head to face Reverend Yideng. Seeing Reverend Yideng sitting in a corner of the room, and realizing he had caring look, she thought, “If he feels my wrist, he will know I was actually not injured.” Thus, she walked over and stuck out her hand. Reverend Yideng stretched three fingers and placed them on her wrist, mumbling, “Amituofo (the Buddhist word)…the old granny said… Amituofo…there are two bottles under the tile… Amituofo, Amituofo…in the East side is the real pill…Amituofo…in the West side is the fake pill…tells her daughter to take the fake pill, which is on the west… Amituofo… you take the real pill… Amituofo…”

When Reverend Yideng mumbled the Buddhist words, his voice was bright and clear, but when he told her the hidden information, he lowered his voice into a whisper. Huang Rong had only to hear him say, “the old granny said”, these four words, and she immediately understood and knew Reverend Yideng’s tremendously powerful internal energy made his eyes and ears much better than a normal human. The Buddhist religion is said to have “eyes that can see heaven”, and “ears that can hear heaven”. It is said in the Buddhist scripture that people with such skills, could hear six different types of sounds in the world without being confused. This type of saying is over exaggerated and is, of course, not believable. But when someone with deep and profound internal energy, a pure and simple heart, has exceptionally incredible ears, which could hear what a normal human could not. This is not strange but rather to be expected.

Though Qiu Qianchi had whispered to her daughter, Reverend Yideng, who sat a few feet away, could hear every single word clearly. He knew that the pill’s ingenuity is linked to Yang Guo’s life, and so informed Huang Rong about it. The Buddhist religion had always cared about other people’s lives.

Huang Rong waited for Reverend Yideng to finish his Buddhist words, and so asked, “Can my injury be healed?” “Can the date stones shoot all at once?” Every sentence she asked, had just nicely covered up Reverend Yideng’s hidden speech, such as “in the East side is the real pill”, “in the West side is the fake pill”. Qiu Qianchi glanced at both of them for a while, but seeing that Huang Rong had a worried look on her face, asking non-stop about her injuries and Reverend Yideng’s continuously repeating “Amituofo”, she fell for the trick, not knowing that her treacherous plan was discovered.

After listening to her mother’s words, Lu’E nodded, bent down and reached into the soil under the tile and felt. There were indeed two bottles; her heart turned sour and thought secretly, ‘Dear Yang Guo dear Yang Guo, today I risk my life to get the real pill for you. Of this bitter effort, you will never know, will you?’ Immediately, she touched the East bottle and took it out saying, “Mother, the Passionless Pill is here!” She stretched her hand deep under the tile, and was the only one who knew it was the bottle which contained the real pill. Both Qiu Qianchi and Huang Rong thought that it was the one from the West side.

The physical appearance of the two bottles was the same; the pills in the two bottles looked alike too. If Qiu Qianchi did not stick out her tongue to try the pill herself, she would not be able to tell whether it’s real or fake. She saw Gongsun Lu’E take out a bottle and thought, “At first, I was still suspecting that this daughter would steal the pill from me to help her lover, but now she had also gotten the Passionless Flower’s poison. She will now be thinking to save herself.” Qiu Qianchi was born to be very cunning, evil, harsh and ungrateful. She would never believe anyone on Earth to be willing to sacrifice their life to save others and so said, “We will do what we promised, and l will give the pill to Guo madam…” Lu’E walked towards Huang Rong with both her hands carrying the bottle.

Huang Rong bowed towards Qiu Qianchi in the traditional way and replied, “Thank you for the sincere offer.” But she thought in the other way, ‘Now I know where the real pill is, could I not easily steal it..?’

Just as she stretched out her hand to receive the bottle, a man suddenly crashed through the roof, making a big hole. That man dropped down and immediately snatched away the bottle which was in Gongsun Lu’E’s hands.

Gongsun Lu’E hollered, “Father!” Huang Rong saw that Gongsun Lu’E’s face turned pale all of a sudden, and was very anxious. She couldn’t stop from feeling astonished, “The bottle Gongsun Zhi took was obviously the fake one, but why is she so worried..?” At this moment, the main room’s door suddenly got blasted off with a huge sound, shaking the whole room and causing every red candle’s flame to flicker non-stop. The light in the room glowed brightly, followed by a loud sound. The main door split in two, and the door flew off. A man and three women walked in. The man was Yang Guo; the others were Xiao Longnü, Cheng Ying and Lu Wushuang.

Gongsun Lu’E saw Yang Guo coming in, shouted with a lost voice, “Brother Yang…….” Running towards him, but she felt it was inappropriate and stopped after two steps. She also restrained the sentence she wanted to say. Huang Rong had been noticing Gongsun Lu’E, and saw her eyes revealing deep love towards Yang Guo when she glanced at him. There was also infinite worry in her eyes.

Huang Rong suddenly realized, “Rong’er, Rong’er. How come you don’t understand the girl’s heart even though you have been a mother for so long? Though her mother ordered her to give me the fake pill, she was totally obsessed with Yang Guo, and the pill she tried to give me was the real one. Gongsun Zhi had snatched away the miracle pill, why would she not worry?”