The Return of the Condor Heroes – Chapter 40

On the peak of Mount Hua.

Early the next morning Guo Jing and the others quietly left Xiangyang through the north gate for Mount Hua (Hua Shan). They avoided the troops and the people’s festive farewell. They walked slowly since Zhou Botong, Lu Wushuang, the Wu Brothers and the Fisherman (Secret Fisherman from Si Shui ‘si shui yu yin’) still had not recovered from their injuries. They covered only about 10 li everyday.

By the time they arrived at Mount Hua, those who were injured had recovered. Yang Guo showed them Hong Qigong and Ouyang Feng’s graves, which were side by side. Huang Rong had purchased chicken, vegetables and other supplies. She lit a fire and prepared the food just as Hong Qigong liked it, as a memorial to him. Immediately they performed the ritual ceremony.

Guo Jing did not want to show respect toward Ouyang Feng’s grave. He still remembered how his five masters died by the Western Poison’s hands. True, it had been decades ago, but he could not forget it. Yang Guo was different. Together with Xiao Longnü they knelt in front of Ouyang’s grave. Zhou Botong only clasped his fists in front of the grave and said, “Old Poison, Old Poison! You committed countless crimes in your lifetime. And after you died, your grave is right next to the Old Beggar’s. I’d say you are very lucky! Today everybody else is kneeling in front of the Old Beggar, except these two kids. If you knew this, you would probably regret your ruthlessness!”

Everybody was amused to hear the Old Urchin’s (Lao Wan Tong) jabbering.

They were about to eat dinner after the ceremony when suddenly they heard distant sounds of weapons clashing and people cursing. Zhou Botong was always ready to have fun. He was the first to run toward the battle sound. The others followed behind.

After a couple of bends the path led them to a plateau. There they saw about thirty or forty people battling each other. Some were short, some were tall, some were old, some were young, and there were priests, monks, men and women. They did not pay any attention to the newcomers. Perhaps they thought these newcomers were tourists or pilgrims.

“Ladies and Gentlemen hold on a moment!” a big burly man shouted. “Fighting chaotically like this will not determine who will be the ‘Number One Valiant Hero under Heaven’. Let us take turns fighting. Whoever wins last shall hold the title.”

“That’s right!” said a priest with long whiskers. “There were Sword Meets on Mount Hua in the past. Why don’t we do the same? Let us see who will win.” That proposition was unanimously accepted.

“All right, who will go first?” Several people stepped forward.

Botong and the others looked on. They did not know who these people were.

When the first Swords Meet on Mount Hua was held, Guo Jing was not even born yet. The Eastern Heretic, Western Poison, Southern Emperor, Northern Beggar and Central Divinity were fighting for the ‘Nine Yin Manual’. In the end the Central Divinity won the title of ‘Number One Valiant Hero under Heaven’.

The second Swords Meet on Mount Hua was held twenty years later. Wang Chongyang, the Central Divinity had passed away by then. Eastern Heretic, Western Poison and Northern Beggar, Zhou Botong, Qiu Qianren and Guo Jing all attended. This time there was no clear winner. Who would have guessed that after decades there would be a third Swords Meet on Mount Hua, with unknown people as contestants? Therefore, Huang Yaoshi and the others were bewildered. Could the saying be true: “The later waves of the Chongjiang River always push the previous ones? The newer generation is competent to gain victory over the older one.” Could it be that they, Huang Yaoshi and the others, were like ‘a frog at the bottom of the well’ and were ignorant of ‘heaven above a heaven’, ‘people above the others’?

They saw six people fight in three pairs. As soon as they fought, Huang Yaoshi and the others began laughing; even the composed Reverend Yideng smiled. We don’t need to compare them with the experts; they were far inferior even to Guo Fu or Guo Xiang.

Hearing the laugh, the six people stopped the fight, leaped back and somebody barked, “You’re a reckless bunch! Your masters are having a contest here, and you are laughing? Go away, we may show mercy to you!”

Yang Guo laughed and whistled loudly. His voice echoed throughout the valley. Those people were shocked, and they were frightened to death. They threw away their weapons, and then they scrambled away.

“Ladies and Gentlemen…Come to me!” Yang Guo shouted.

The people looked up, screamed and ran away. Somebody shouted indistinctly, “Go! Go away quickly! That was the Eagle Hero!” A moment later the plateau was empty. Cheng Ying, Guo Fu and the others chuckled.

“There are useless people out there, but I couldn’t have dreamed they would dare hold a Swords Meet on Mount Hua,” Huang Yaoshi sighed.

“There were Five Experts,” said Zhou Botong. “With the death of Western Poison, Northern Beggar and the Central Divinity, who could take their places?”

Five Experts Zhou Botong referred to were: Eastern Heretic, Western Poison, Southern Emperor, Northern Beggar and Central Divinity. Among them only Eastern Heretic Huang Yaoshi and Southern Emperor Reverend Yideng were left.

Huang Rong chuckled, she said, “Reverend Yideng and my father have always improved their skills. Therefore, they were among the Five Experts then, they should be now. Frankly speaking, my husband has inherited Northern Beggar’s skills; he is one of the Experts. Guo’Er is young, but his martial arts are extraordinary. He is unmatched in his generation, plus he is Ouyang Feng’s adopted son. Therefore, he deserves to be one of the Experts so he inherits Western Poison’s title.”

Hearing her Zhou Botong shook his head. “No, no it’s not right!” he said.

“Why not?” Huang Rong asked.

“Because Western Poison was venomous, while this kid Yang Guo is not! We dare not call him ‘Western Poison’?”

“Well, Brother Jing is not a beggar!” Huang Rong laughed, “While Reverend Yideng is not an emperor anymore. I think we’d better modify their titles a little bit. Father is the Eastern Heretic. It is a trademark; no modification is necessary. Reverend Yideng has become a monk; let us call him the Southern Monk. Now, about Guo’Er, I’d like to propose a title, ‘Passionate Hero’. How’s that sound?”

Huang Yaoshi was the first to say: The “Eastern Heretic” and “Western Passionate Hero, the old and young. Yes! This is a good title.”

“Pardon me,” said Yang Guo, “I am too young, I do not dare to be compared with the Seniors …”

“Ha-ha… Little Brother!” said Huang Yaoshi. “You are wrong! You are called ‘Passionate Hero, why can’t we act it out for a moment? Besides, your name, your skills, don’t they exceed those of the Old Urchin?”

Huang Yaoshi understood Huang Rong’s intention. She did not mention the Old Urchin’s name to provoke him. Yang Guo also understood the father and daughter’s intention. He exchanged glances with Xiao Longnü; they both laughed. He thought, “These words ‘Passionate Hero’ is so appropriate …”

“Southern Monk and Western Passionate Hero have been settled. How about the Northern Beggar?” asked Botong.

“I propose the word ‘Hero’, hence the Northern Hero,” said Zhu Ziliu. “The valiant people of this era call Brother Guo Jing as Great Hero Guo [Guo Da Xia]. He did a great service for his country. He has defended Xiangyang for decades; he protects the people and secured the peace. His valor is superior to Zhu Qi or Guo Gai of yesteryear. I believe it is very appropriate to call him the ‘Northern Hero’.”

“Agreed!” Reverend Yideng, Wu Santong and the others voiced their support.

“Eastern Heretic and Western Passionate Hero, Southern Monk and Northern Hero, we have four experts,” said Huang Yaoshi, “What about the Central? Who deserves to hold the title?” He cast a glance at Botong, but he continued, “Madam Yang is the only heir of the Ancient Tomb Sect [Gu Mu Bai]. I reckon it is appropriate for her to hold the title! When she was still alive, Heroine Lin Chaoying roamed Jianghu; even Wang Chongyang held her in the highest regard. Who does not know the “Jade Maiden Swordplay” from the Ancient Tomb Sect? If Heroine Lin Chaoying attended the Swords Meet at Mount Hua, not only the titles of the ‘Five Experts’ would have changed, but the title ‘Number One Valiant Person under the Heaven’ would be hers. Yang Guo’s skill was acquired from his wife. If the disciple is one of the experts, can we question the master? Therefore, Madam Yang deserves to hold the Central position in place of the Central Divinity!”

Xiao Longnü laughed. “I really don’t deserve it,” she said.

“If not, Huang Rong should be one of the experts,” Huang Yaoshi continued. “She is still inferior in terms of martial arts skill, but she is intelligent and smart. Wasn’t there a saying: ‘brain over brawn’?”

“Good, good!” Botong clapped his hands. “What is Eastern Heretic? What is Great Hero Guo? I am not happy will all those names. This little girl Huang Rong is different. She is so smart. I, the Old Urchin, got a headache whenever I dealt with her. My limbs are weak, I cannot move! She should become one of the Five Experts; nobody deserves it more!”

Hearing him, everybody was amazed and impressed. They knew Zhou Botong liked to fool around but he had a big heart. Others deliberately did not mention his name to provoke him. Who knew he was really naïve? He did not have any intentions to boss anybody about; he did not desire fame.

“Old Urchin, you are great!” said Huang Yaoshi. “For me fame is nothing. For Reverend Yideng, it is emptiness. You are not like that. Your heart is free. You are superior to us all. Because we have already had Eastern Heretic and Western Passionate Hero, Southern Monk and Northern Hero, you should hold the Central position, you are the Central Urchin!”

Huang Yaoshi’s speech was applauded by loud cheering and clapping. Everybody was happy; the Five Experts had been decided. They scattered around Mount Hua sightseeing.

Yang Guo pointed to the Jade Maiden Peak. “Our sword technique is called “Jade Maiden Swordplay”. We cannot miss a visit to the peak,” he said to Xiao Longnü.

“That’s true,” answered his wife. Holding hands they climbed to the peak.

On the peak there was a small temple with a statue of a horse next to it. It was the Jade Maiden Temple. Inside the temple was a big rock – its center was hollow. It contained clear water. Yang Guo had climbed Mount Hua before, and Hong Qigong had explained to him the points of interest on the mountain. He pointed to the rock and told Xiao Longnü, “This is the water basin of the Jade Maiden. This clear water never dries up.” Xiao Longnü nodded. “Let us go to the hall to pay our respect to the Jade Maiden,” she said.

Yang Guo complied. They went to the hall. There was a statue of a very beautiful woman. She looked so dignified. What amazed them was that the face of the statue bore a close resemblance to the picture of Lin Chaoying inside the Ancient Tomb.

“Could it be that the Jade Maiden is actually our Grand Martial Master?” asked the wife.

“Very possible,” answered Yang Guo. “Grand Martial Master Lin liked to wander around. She helped many people. It could be that some people remembered her kindness and built this temple.”

“That’s right. If it was a Jade Maiden temple, how could there be a horse statue here? Looks like Grand Martial Master roamed around riding a horse.”

The two of them then knelt in front of the altar. They prayed silently for protection and happiness as husband and wife.

They heard footsteps coming near from outside. They turned their heads and saw Guo Xiang.

“Little Sister, let us look around together!” Yang Guo was delighted. “Oh yes!” answered Guo Xiang.

Xiao Longnü held her hand and together they left the hall. They followed a stone corridor and climbed to a big cave. Guo Xiang looked inside; she felt cold breeze coming from the cave and she shivered. The cave was like a deep well; one could not see its bottom. It was different from the gorge at the Passionless Valley, which was covered by heavy fog so that nobody could see the bottom. This cave was almost vertical as far as the eye could see and made people looking down feel very nervous.

“Be careful,” Xiao Longnü warned her, holding her hand.

“I heard the water from this cave flows to the Yellow River [Huang He],” said Yang Guo. “It is one of the eight Water Palaces in China. During the Tang Dynasty there was a drought in northern China. The Emperor Tang Xuan Zong wrote a letter to Heaven, asking for rain. He threw the letter down into this cave.”

“From here flowing to the Yellow River, how peculiar!” said Guo Xiang.

“Well, it was a legend!” Yang Guo chuckled. “Nobody has ever gone down into this cave. Who could prove it?”

“When the Emperor Tang Zong threw his jade board letter, did Concubine Yang stand next to him?” asked Guo Xiang. “Did it really rain?”

Yang Guo laughed. “How can I answer your question?” he said, “Whether it rained or not, that was the Heaven’s decision. Even an emperor could not force its will …”

Guo Xiang looked at the cave, she softly said, “That’s true, even an emperor could not have everything his heart desires …”

Yang Guo was amazed to hear her say that. “This girl is still young, but she is mature,” he thought. “I must try to make her happy.” He was going to open his mouth when suddenly Xiao Longnü said, “Ah, who’s that coming our way?” She pointed her finger.

Yang Guo turned around. Below the steps there were two people stealthily creeping nearer. Xiao Longnü’s eyes were really sharp; she could see them in the dim light of dusk.

“Their skills are not bad,” said Yang Guo softly, “Judging from their movements, they must have some ulterior motive. Let’s hide and see what’s going on.”

Xiao Longnü and Guo Xiang complied. They hid behind a big rock next to a big tree. Not too long after they could hear footsteps approaching. It was evening and the moon had risen.

Guo Xiang stood next to Xiao Longnü. She did not care about those two men, she looked at Yang Guo and thought in her heart, “If only I could be like this forever. Being with Big Brother and Sister Long, I would desire nothing else …” She wanted the time to stand still …

Xiao Longnü inadvertently looked toward her direction and she saw tears welling up in her eyes; she was puzzled. She thought, “This is strange, what is she thinking about? I’ll talk with my husband later and see what we can do to make her happy.”

Meanwhile those two men had reached the peak, where they hid themselves behind a big rock. After some time one of them said, “Brother Xiaoxiang, Mount Hua has so many thick forests where we can hide. I think even though that bald donkey [derogatory term for Buddhist monks] is good, he won’t be able to find us here. Let’s just stay here for a few days, and then we can go farther west.”

Yang Guo could not see the speaker, but he guessed it was Yin Kexi and his companion must be Xiaoxiang Zi. Yang Guo thought, “Among the martial arts experts in the Mongolian camp, Jinlun Fawang and Nimoxing have died. Da’erba and Ma Guangzuo were not that bad. Only Yin Kexi and Xiaoxiang Zi were left. I have shown them mercy, but looks like they didn’t repent. I wonder what they are up to?”

“Don’t be happy yet, Brother Yin,” said Xiaoxiang Zi, his voice eerie. “If the baldheaded donkey can not find us, he might guard the mountain’s entrance. If we are not careful, he will certainly find us …”

“Brother Xiaoxiang is right. What is your thought?”

“There are so many temples scattered around this mountain. I think we’d better find the most remote one. No matter if the priests are Taoists or Buddhists, we kill them, we take over their temple and then we stay there. That bald donkey will not wait for us forever. Maybe months or years, but in the end he’ll have to leave.”

“Great idea Brother Xiaoxiang!” said Yin Kexi, his voice loud from excitement.

“Hush!” Xiaoxiang Zi reminded him.

“Uh, I was too excited,” said Yin Kexi apologetically. Then the two of them talked in low voice that Yang Guo wasn’t able to hear.

“I wonder who the monk is,” Yang Guo thought. “These two are experts, yet they are afraid of him. Actually, other than Island Master Huang, Reverend Yideng, Uncle Guo and their peers, these two are already unmatched. Why would someone want to capture them? No, I can’t let them go. Didn’t they say they are going to kill people and take over their temple?”

At that time Guo Fu was calling from a distance, “Brother Yang, Sister-in-law! Sister Xiang! Come and have dinner!” She repeated her calls a couple more times.

Yang Guo turned to his wife and Guo Xiang, signaling them not to make any noise.

After a while Guo Fu was gone. But from the mountain they heard a shout, “Book thief! Show yourself!” That voice was loud and powerful. It was a sign of strong internal energy. Yang Guo was astonished, the voice was not inferior to his. He wondered, “How come there is an expert I do not know?”

By moving his body a little bit, Yang Guo was able to see the source of the voice. He saw a grey shadow running lightning fast toward the hill where they were. Very soon he could see that the shadow was actually two people: a grey-robed monk holding a youngster’s hand.

Yin Kexi and Xiaoxiang Zi had already hidden themselves amongst the tall grasses. They did not dare to breathe.

Yang Guo kept staring, he thought, “In terms of lightness kungfu, he is not superior to Long’er or me, but he is able to carry someone on this difficult path. His strength is comparable to Reverend Yideng and Uncle Guo. How come I’ve never heard of him?”

Very soon the monk arrived at the top. His eyes gazed around him, but he didn’t see Yin Kexi or Xiaoxiang Zi. A moment later he dragged the youngster west.

“Hey, Reverend!” Guo Xiang suddenly shouted, she could not contain herself. “Reverend, those two people are here!” She was just shutting her mouth when three projectiles flew her way! They were two ‘flying awls’ and a ‘nail of death’.

Yang Guo’s eyes were sharp and he was quick. He waved his sleeve and caught all three projectiles.

Guo Xiang’s internal energy was not too strong; the monk could not hear her. They moved further away. “Big Brother, please go after them!” she said.

Yang Guo did not answer, but he spoke softly, like he was reciting a poem, “If it is meant to be, a distance of a thousand li does not hinder; if it isn’t meant to be, standing face to face yet cannot meet.”

His voice reached far. The monk stopped abruptly, turned his head and said, “Thank you Expert for showing the way!”

Yang Guo responded with similar voice, “Searching until iron shoes wear out yet do not meet; once you see it, it is right in front of your eyes.”

The monk was delighted, pulling along the youngster they came back.

Xiaoxiang Zi and Yin Kexi were very shocked to hear Yang Guo’s voice. They looked at each other and leaped toward the east, running away.

Yang Guo saw them starting to move while the monk was still a distance away. The monk would certainly miss these two criminals no matter how fast he could run. He quickly flicked one of Xiaoxiang Zi’s awls toward them. He didn’t want to take their lives; hence the awl was flying in front of them, to block their way.

The two were shocked; their faces were hot just from the wind of the projectile. They turned around and ran to the north. Yang Guo flicked again, and another projectile flew in front of them, forcing them to turn around once more. By that time the monk had arrived.

Seeing their escape route was blocked, both Yin Kexi and Xiaoxiang Zi unsheathed their weapons. They stood shoulder to shoulder. One was wielding a golden dragon whip, the other a wolf-fang staff. Yin Kexi’s jeweled whip was destroyed by Yang Guo at Chongyang Palace; this new whip of his –although inlaid with gold, was inferior to the old one.

The monk looked around. He didn’t see the man who gave him directions. Ignoring those two, he clasped his fists to the air and said, “Little Monk Jueyuan from the Shaolin Temple thanks the Benevolent Sir!”

Yang Guo did not answer immediately. He looked intently at the monk. The monk stood straight, his countenance fresh and ruddy. If it wasn’t for the fact that he was baldheaded and wearing a monk’s robe, he would have looked like a scholar. Compared to him, Huang Yaoshi looked more arrogant and wild, like a scholarly hermit. Zhu Ziliu had a more regal and sophisticated look, like a prime minister. He was about fifty years of age; therefore, Yang Guo did not dare to be disrespectful. He quickly came out and returned the greeting, “Junior Yang Guo pays his respects.” Yang Guo thought in his heart, “The Abbot of the Shaolin Temple, the Head of the Damo Hall, I know them all. Their level is not as high as his, how come I’ve never heard them mentioning his name?”

The monk again paid his respects. He was so polite and scholarly. “It’s an honor for little Monk to make the acquaintance of Benevolent Master Yang!” he said, and then he bade the youngster, “Quickly pay your respects to Benevolent Master Yang!”

The youngster complied; he knelt in front of Yang Guo. Quickly Yang Guo stood him up. In the meantime Xiao Longnü and Guo Xiang had come out. Jueyuan also paid them his respects, which they reciprocated.

Yin Kexi and Xiaoxiang Zi were still standing alert, ready to fight, but they were thinking about escaping too. They knew they were no match for these people. Jueyuan alone had frightened them.

Yang Guo said, “About six years ago I was fortunate to receive an invitation from the Shaolin’s Abbot Tianming. I visited Mount Shao Shi and made acquaintance with the Venerable Wuxiang from the Damo Hall and a number of other monks. I gained a lot of knowledge because of that. Wuse from the Luo Han Hall befriended me as well. It seems like the monk was not in the temple at the time, and I was not fortunate enough to make your acquaintance.”

By that time the name Eagle Hero was very well known, yet Jueyuan seemed oblivious of him. He said, “Oh, it seems like Benevolent Sir knows Martial Uncle Tianming and both Martial Brothers Wuxiang and Wuse and the others. Little Monk abides in the library and has never left the temple even for a single step. My position is very low; I do not dare to meet any honorable guests, including you, Benefactor Sir …”

Yang Guo was amazed and he thought, “It is true that in this wide world there are many experts. Monk Jueyuan’s skill is very high, yet he hides himself away. It is very possible the people of Shaolin are not aware of his skill; if so, my good friend Wuse would have mentioned him …”

Meanwhile Huang Yaoshi and the others had arrived; they heard Yang Guo and Jueyuan’s shouts earlier and believed something must’ve happened on the peak. Yang Guo immediately introduced everybody to Jueyuan. Strangely, even though Huang Yaoshi, Reverend Yideng, Zhou Botong, Guo Jing and Huang Rong were very well known, he didn’t seem to recognize their names. He simply paid his respects and told the youngster to do the same. Huang Yaoshi and the others automatically noticed the Reverend’s grandeur from the way he moved and talked and couldn’t help but feel deep respect toward him.

Only after all these formalities did Jueyuan turn to Yin Kexi and Xiaoxiang Zi. He clasped his fists in respect and said, “Little Monk in is charge of the library. I would be responsible for and even punished if even a sheet of paper is lost. Therefore, I respectfully request you two gentlemen to return the books you borrowed. I will be very grateful to you two.”

Hearing this Yang Guo realized that Yin Kexi and Xiaoxiang Zi had stolen books from the Shaolin Monastery’s library. Only he did not know what kind of book would make Jueyuan pursue the thieves this far. Also, he was amazed that Jueyuan was very courteous toward the thieves.

Laughing, Yin Kexi said, “Venerable Monk, you are wrong! We are so grateful that you helped us while we were so unfortunate. How could we repay your kindness by borrowing books from you? We regret that you have made a long journey to find us here. Besides, we are not disciples of Buddhism, why would we borrow some scriptures?”

Yin Kexi was a merchant specializing in jewels; he was very eloquent, hence his words were very reasonable. But Yang Guo knew he must be lying. Both he and Xiaoxiang Zi were criminals. Also, the books they stole must not be any ordinary books. The books must be either a palm techniques or swords play manual. Yang Guo thought talking is a waste of time; it would be best to immobilize them, and then search their bodies. But Jueyuan was very courteous. He turned to Huang Yaoshi and the others and said, “Little Monk is going to lay the case in front of you, please adjudicate for us.”

Guo Xiang was straightforward and impatient, she loudly said, “Elder Monk, these two were hiding here and planning to kill people and take over their temple. They intend to hide themselves from you. Why would they be so afraid if they were innocent?”

“Mercy, mercy,” Jueyuan said. “Benefactor Sirs, you two must repent if indeed you were having that thought.”

Huang Yaoshi and the rest were amused. This Monk was very naïve. Why would he talk like that to criminals? On the other hand, Yin Kexi was relieved since Jueyuan obviously did not want to resort to violence; he still had hopes of escaping.

Jueyuan continued, “That day little Monk was inspecting the books in the library. I heard a commotion on the hill behind the temple. I could hear people fighting and some were crying for help. Therefore, I went out to see. There I saw these two gentlemen lying on the ground, being beaten by four Mongolian officers; they were dying. I couldn’t stay silent. I asked those four officers to let them go, and then I took them to my room. Now Benevolent Sirs, did I say anything untrue?”

“No, it was indeed the truth,” answered Yin Kexi. “We are very grateful to the Reverend.”

“Hmm!” Yang Guo intervened, “With your skills, forty or even four hundred Mongolian officers would not be able to harm you, let alone only four! You were deceiving Reverend Jueyuan!”

Jueyuan ignored Yang Guo and continued, “After a day of recuperation they said that they were bored and wanted to borrow something to read. This little Monk thinks that proselytizing is an honorable thing. These two gentlemen showed interest in Buddhism; therefore, little Monk loaned them several books. When I was meditating one evening, these two gentlemen took away four volumes of the Nijia Jing scripture being read by my disciple Junbao. They took the books without permission. That was an improper thing to do. Therefore, little Monk would respectfully ask the Benevolent Sirs to return the books.”

Listening to the monk, Reverend Yideng and Zhu Ziliu were amazed, and then they speculated. Yideng was a monk and he had read all kind of books. Zhu Ziliu was a scholar and because of his association with his master, he was also familiar with different kinds of scriptures. They thought, “These two stole some books from the Shaolin Monastery. I thought they must be some kind of martial arts manual; who knew they only stole the Nijia Jing. The books were brought by Master Damo to the east. The content was the fundamental teachings of Buddha, which he preached in Sri Lanka. There is no relation to martial arts whatsoever. Why would these two steal them? These books have been around for a while; there are no secrets within them. Why would Jueyuan waste his time chasing these two? I think there is more to it than what meets the eye …”

Jueyuan continued, “These four volumes of Nijia Jing were brought by Master Damo from the west. They were written in Sanskrit. I am sure Benevolent Sirs are not able to read them, but for us, they were our treasures.”

Only then did the others understand that Jueyuan was talking about the original Sutra, the one Bodhidarma wrote in India. No wonder the books were very important.

Yin Kexi laughed, he said, “That gave us a stronger reason not to borrow the books. We do not read Sanskrit. Even if we wanted to sell the books, just how much would we gain? Other than devout Buddhists and monks, nobody wants them anyway!”

Everybody was dissatisfied listening to this man’s sharp tongue, they started to get angry. Jueyuan, on the other hand, was very calm and patient. He continued, “The Nijia Jing had four different Chinese translations, but only three are left. The first one was translated by Guna-bhadra during the Liu family Song dynasty; it was named the Nijia Jing [“Guna-bhadra Lankavatara sutra].” It consisted of four volumes, also known as the Four Volumes of Lankavatara Sutra. It was similar to the Damo [Bodhidharma] taught version of the scripture and they could be compared with each other. The second one was translated by Bodhiruci during the Wei dynasty, named “Enlightened Lankavatara Sutra”, it consisted of ten volumes. It was later also known as the Ten Volumes of Lankavatara Sutra. The third one was translated by Siksaananda during the Tang dynasty, named the “Mahayana Lankavatara Sutra”, it consisted of seven volumes, it was later also known as the Seven Nijia Jing [Seven Volumes of Lankavatara Sutra], this was also the last translation. The final translation is also the clearest and most easily understood version, it is widely spread. I have a copy of it with me now. I am very happy to see that both benefactors are interested in Buddhism; I would be pleased to give you these scriptures. If you’re also interested in the other translations of the Nijia Jing [Lankavatara Sutra], it is not impossible to obtain copies for you.”

Jueyuan groped his pocket and brought out a copy of the Seven Nijia Jing. He gave them to his disciple, who in turn presented them to Yin Kexi and Xiaoxiang Zi.

“Jueyuan is so naïve yet so exceptional. No wonder these two scoundrels were able to steal the books under his care,” Yang Guo thought.

Suddenly the youngster opened his mouth, “Shifu, these two criminals did not have good intentions, they only want the treasured book! I don’t believe they have any interest in our religion.”

Everybody was surprised hearing this youngster’s voice. He was only a boy, yet his voice was loud and clear like a bell. They looked at him and saw his extraordinary features. He had a narrow forehead, slim neck, broad chest, round eyes, and big ears. His skin was ruddy. He looked about twelve or thirteen years of age, but acted like an adult.

“Little Brother, what is your great surname and given name?” asked Yang Guo.

“The little Monk’s disciple is surnamed Zhang and given name Junbao,” Jueyuan answered on his disciple’s behalf. “He has helped me in the library since he was really young, sweeping the floor and watering the plants. He calls me Master, but he has not shaved his head, since he is a layman disciple.”

Yang Guo was impressed, he praised, “An excellent Master will produce an excellent disciple. The Venerable Monk’s disciple is an extraordinary one.”

“It’s not ‘excellent Master’, it’s just that this boy has a flawless talent,” said Jueyuan humbly. “It’s a pity little Monk does not know anything. I am afraid I will not do him any good. Junbao, you are very fortunate to meet such experts today. You have to ask for advice. Remember the saying that goes like ‘listening to a master’s words is more precious than reading books for ten years’.”

“That’s right,” answered Junbao, while he thought in his heart, “Right now the most important thing is getting the books back. I can ask advice later …” He kept this thought to himself, and did not say anything.

Zhou Botong could not contain himself any longer after listening to Jueyuan’s gentle words.

“Hey Yin Kexi and Xiaoxiang Zi!” he said, scolding those two. “You can deceive Elder Monk, but you cannot deceive me, the Old Urchin! Do you know who the Five Experts of today are?”

“I do not know,” answered Yin Kexi. “Please enlighten me.”

“Good!” said Botong proudly. “Stand straight and listen! They are the Eastern Heretic, Western Passionate, Southern Monk, Northern Hero and Central Urchin! The first and foremost is the Central Urchin! I say you stole those books, and therefore, you are the thieves! If you were not the thieves, then those books must be in your possession somehow! You have to present those books to this monk! If you hesitate, watch out, I am going to cut off one of your ears!”

Having said that, the Old Urchin moved forward, his arms open wide. He wanted to carry out his threat.

Xiaoxiang Zi and Yin Kexi frowned. They knew the Old Urchin’s skill; they also knew he would do what he said he would. While they are contemplating what to do, Jueyuan opened his mouth again, “Benevolent Master Zhou, you are wrong! There are rules for everything. On the matter of the Nijia Jing scriptures, if they said they borrowed them, then they borrowed them. If not, then they didn’t borrow them. But if they did borrow and did not admit it, then we can say they broke the rules.”

Botong heartily laughed. “You see?” he said, “Elder Monk is remarkable! I’m helping him to get his books back, yet he helps them to speak! What kind of rule is that? Elder Monk, I want to say something! I want to make sure they stole the books. If they didn’t, I’ll take them back to Mount Shaoshi for them to steal the books. Either they did or did not steal, but they still are the thieves!”

Botong spoke unreasonably, but Jueyuan nodded his head. “Benevolent Master Zhou, now you are talking!” he said. “Only let us not use the word ‘steal’, let’s just say that they ‘took without permission’. These two gentlemen had the desire to borrow; yet they did not have the permission. They have taken the books without permission.”

Listening to this discussion, everybody smiled in amusement. They talked without logic. Yang Guo could not contain his anger. He stood up in front of Zhou Botong, facing Yin Kexi and Xiaoxiang Zi. “You have assisted a tyrant committing atrocities!” he said, “You have betrayed our country by being allies with the Mongolians! You deserve death for this crime! We have Reverend Yideng and Venerable Jueyuan here. These two monks won’t let me beat you to death. Therefore, I am going to give you two choices. First, you return the books you stole and never set foot on the central plains again. Second, each of you will receive one blow from me. Whether you live or you die, let your fate decide!”

The two looked at each other. They did not dare to give an answer. They knew the fierceness of this man surnamed Yang. They realized they would not be able to take even one of his blows. Yin Kexi thought, “Only this one day…if I can survive this day, I can train myself and take revenge later on … Seems to me that amongst this bunch the monk is the easiest one to talk to. I’d better try him.” He said, “Great Hero Yang [Yang Da Xia], let’s sort out the business between you and I later. In terms of martial arts skills, you are way superior to me; I do not dare to offend you. But about the books, let us talk to Monk Jueyuan. You don’t have any business in it; do you, Yang Da Xia?”

Before Yang Guo could answer, Jueyuan had already nodded his head repeatedly. “That’s true!” he said, “This Benevolent Sir had spoken reasonably.”

Yang Guo could only shake his head. He grinned and turned to Zhang Junbao. He saw the youngster’s eyes were shining; it looked like he wanted to attack. Therefore, Yang Guo winked at him, encouraging him to go. Yang Guo then positioned himself behind the boy.

Zhang Junbao understood his signal; he moved toward Yin Kexi and harshly said, “Benevolent Mister Yin, I was reading the book that day. You sneaked up on me, sealed my accupoints and disabled me; then you stole the four-volume Nijia Jing scripture. Is that true?”

Yin Kexi shook his head. “If I wanted to borrow the book, I would ask you,” he denied, “I believed little Master would not deny me. Why would I seal your accupoints?”

Jueyuan nodded. “Yes, yes, that’s true,” he said.

“Both of you said you did not borrow the book, do you mind if I search your body?” Junbao asked.

“Body search is not proper,” said Jueyuan, “But this business is complicated. Benevolent Sirs, do you have a better idea on how you can remove my suspicions?”

Yin Kexi was about to deny further when Yang Guo suddenly said, “Venerable Monk Jueyuan, I believe these two would not have any interest in the teachings of Buddha! Monk Jueyuan, is there anything special in those books?”

Jueyuan was silent for a while, he was thinking hard. But then he answered with a deep voice, “As a monk I cannot tell lies. Since Benevolent Master Yang has asked, little Monk has to give you the truth. Inside the Nijia Jing scripture there is another book written by Master Damo himself. That book is the ‘Nine Yang Manual’ [Jiu Yang Zhen Jing].”

Everybody was stunned. In the past, the ‘Nine Yin Manual’ [Jiu Yin Zhen Jing] had caused people to fight to the death; blood had been shed. It was at the Mount Hua Sword Meet that Wang Zhongyang won the right to that book. But Wang Zhongyang was a man of honor; he was not greedy. He won the book but did not to take advantage of its contents at that time. He later read the book out of curiosity. He divided it into two parts. He wanted to avoid further bloodshed due to people fighting over it. But still, the book created more disasters. For instance, Huang Yaoshi had to expel his disciples, Zhou Botong was kept captive on the Peach Blossom Island, Ouyang Feng went crazy, and, indirectly, Emperor Duan became a monk.

Actually, besides the ‘Nine Yin Manual’ Master Damo had written another book, which was the ‘Nine Yang Manual’. This book had the same value as the ‘Nine Yin Manual’; as a matter of fact, these two books complement each other. Only the name of the ‘Nine Yang Manual’ was not as widely known as the ‘Nine Yin Manual’. It was the first time that everybody heard this book mentioned. No wonder Huang Yaoshi and the others were astonished and amazed.

Jueyuan ignored these astonished people and continued his explanation, “Little Monk is in charge of the library. It is my duty to inspect every single book of the library’s collection. The ‘Nine Yang Manual’ is different from any other book. It contains lessons to make our body healthy and strong, like ‘Replacing Muscles Cleaning the Marrow’. I have mastered the lessons for many-many years, and true enough, I have never been sick. I have taught Junbao the rudimentary lessons from the ‘Nine Yang Manual’ for the last several years. Even though it was Master Damo’s original work, it was not as valuable as the Nijia Jing, which contains great teachings. Benevolent Sirs do not read Sanskrit; the book is useless to you. You’d better return it to me.”

Yang Guo was puzzled. He didn’t understand what the Monk was saying. He thought, “Lessons on health? This is very peculiar. The Monk is also very remarkable. If I didn’t know better, I would say the Monk is just acting. I wonder why Venerable Wuxiang and Wuse – who literally lived together with this Monk for decades, are not aware there is an expert of this caliber in their midst.” Reverend Yideng on the other hand, recognized that Jueyuan has reached perfection, that was the reason he could act so naïvely.

Yin Kexi patted his body. “I don’t have anything on me, how could I have the book?” he said loudly. “I don’t either!” Xiaoxiang Zi said, shaking his clothes.

“Let me see!” Junbao suddenly shouted. His body flew toward Yin Kexi. He grabbed his chest.

Yin Kexi turned his left arm around, eluding the attack. His right arm pushed Junbao’s shoulder. It looked like his movement was light, but it resulted in Junbao’s body collapsing to the ground.

“Aha! That was incorrect, Junbao!” cried Jueyuan, “You have to be patient. Your strength concentrated like a mountain. You will see whether he can push you down or not …”

Zhang Junbao leaped up. “That’s right, Shifu!” he said. Then he leaped toward Yin Kexi again.

Everybody else had lost their patience, but they were delighted hearing Jueyuan’s advice. They thought, “This gentle monk could encourage his disciple to fight after all …”

Yin Kexi repeated his former moves; he eluded the attack and then pushed out. But this time Junbao only staggered and did not collapse to the ground like before. Yin Kexi was astonished, he was afraid of Zhou Botong, Guo Jing and Yang Guo and their peers; who would have thought that he was not even able to overcome the boy? He was anxious and pushed harder.

Zhang Junbao held his ground. But Yin Kexi’s force abruptly disappeared and he fell down, face to the ground. Yin Kexi quickly straightened up and laughed, “Little Master, you shouldn’t have kneeled to me.” Of course he was mocking him.

Junbao’s face flushed. He came to his master and said, “I failed, Shifu.”

Jueyuan scratched his head. “He purposely made an ‘emptiness’,” he said. “He uses nothingness to defeat something. When you are exerting your energy, you must use it freely, don’t mind your opponent’s force’s direction. You see that mountain peak over there?” He pointed to a mountain peak to the west. “It has stood strong from thousands of years ago until today. Storms came from the west, rains from the east, it didn’t budge, but it did not purposely challenge the force of the nature either.”

Junbao was smart, he understood easily. He nodded. “Very well Shifu. I understand,” he said. “Let me try again.” After having said that, he slowly walked toward Yin Kexi.

Yang Guo kept his gaze on the youngster. He saw him leap forward before, and now he was walking slowly. Yang Guo knew it must be the principle taken from the ‘Nine Yang Manual’. So the book not only taught how to keep one’s body healthy, but also how to defeat an opponent.

When he was about four feet away from Yin Kexi, Junbao stretched out his arms to hold Yin’s hand. Yin Kexi laughed. He put forth his left arm as bait, and his right hand punched the boy’s chest. He had no intention to hurt him, so his punch was not frontal; it was slanted toward the boy’s side. He only wanted the boy to experience a little bit of pain and to learn a lesson.

Zhang Junbao did not elude the attack. In a flash his chest was hit. “Shifu, I can hold it!” he said.

Yin Kexi was shocked. His fist hit its target, yet he felt the boy’s body imparting an opposing force, which made his punch bounce back. Fortunately he was skilled. He quickly neutralized the force. His left hand moved toward the boy’s shoulder. He wanted to grab and lift and toss the boy away. When he lifted, the boy did not budge. He was shocked and amazed, and finally anxious. Several times he changed his tactics. Junbao only swayed back and forth, left and right, but he could not make him fall down. He kept throwing punches, and out of embarrassment said, “Little Master, I am not fighting with you! A valiant man would use diplomacy, not brute force. You go away, let us talk as decent people do.”

Each one of Yin Kexi’s punches was stronger than the previous one, but Junbao did not budge. His body kept imparting opposing forces. The harder he was hit, the stronger the opposing force was. After a while Junbao cried, “Ah, Shifu, he hit me hard! I feel pain! Shifu, help me!”

Yin Kexi said, “I won’t hit you if you don’t hit me first. Elder Master, if you want to hit me just do so. If you show mercy to me, I won’t dare to retaliate.”

Jueyuan shook his head. “What Benevolent Master Yin said was true!” he said, “You don’t need to use brute force … No, I can’t help you. You have to overcome your own problem. You have to know which one is empty which one is not. Everything is either empty or full. Remember what I said, your body must be like a drum, with nothing inside. Don’t put in too much, don’t put in too little, and don’t let it break.”

Junbao understood. He had been with Jueyuan since he was only six or seven years old, and his master had bestowed the ‘Nine Yang Manual’ on him. He readied himself. Now he only felt a little bit of pain, not as severe as before.

With a man of his skill, Yin Kexi could hurt the boy severely. But there were Yang Guo, Xiao Longnü, Zhou Botong, Guo Jing and the others standing nearby. He was afraid of them, thus he did not dare to kill or harm the boy. He could not knock the boy down, but the boy could not touch him either; so the two kept fighting.

Yang Guo and the others were amused. Xiaoxiang Zi frowned, he was perplexed and anxious. Guo Xiang also had lost her patience. “Little Brother, hit him!” she urged, “Why do you let him beat you without you retaliating?”

“No! Don’t!” Jueyuan cried, “Don’t be anxious, and don’t be angry! Don’t hit, don’t curse!”

“You hit him!” Guo Xiang encouraged, “If you can’t, I’ll help you!”

“Thank you, Miss!” said Junbao. He hit Yin Kexi’s chest.

“What a sin! What a sin!” cried Jueyuan shaking his head, “Your mind is no longer clear like a bright mirror stopping the water flow …”

Junbao fought as one who had never learned martial arts before, he just threw punches randomly; how could he injure the opponent? Yin Kexi heartily laughed, but actually he was distressed. He had been well known in the Jianghu world for dozens of years; nobody had the audacity to mock him. Who would have thought that he had to suffer humiliation by fighting with a young boy? The worse part was: he was not able to do anything … Even if Junbao’s punches were not hard, he eventually felt the pain.

Yin Kexi was anxious. His attacks were in vain. He wanted to kill the boy, but he was afraid of the others. He kept throwing punches, but the boy stood his ground. He was screaming with pain until Jueyuan repeatedly implored, “Benevolent Master Yin, please don’t kill my disciple; he is a very smart boy. He is bothering you because of the lost books; the treasured scriptures of our Sect. If the Abbot finds out, we will be severely punished. Little Monk implores you …” While to Junbao he said, “Junbao, remember your lessons. Use your brain, not your brawn. Follow the opponent’s movements, be flexible. Put your mind where he hits you …”

“That’s right!” Junbao loudly answered. Afterward, he did not scream anymore. Where Yin Kexi’s attack was, his mind was there. No more pain. Again Yin Kexi was puzzled. “Watch out, I will hit your head!” he threatened.

Junbao lifted his hand in anticipation, but he was tricked. Yin Kexi did not hit his head, but kicked with left leg so that the boy fell rolling to the ground. He kept rolling and came near Yang Guo.

“Benevolent Master Yin, why did you lie?” Jueyuan rebuked. “You said you were going to hit his head, you told him to watch out, but you kicked instead. You used trickery to deceive others.”

Huang Yaoshi and the others were very amused. In battle, emptiness is full, fullness is empty. One must use any trick that is unpredictable to the opponent.

Junbao was displeased. He rubbed the kicked part of his body and said, “I won’t stop until I search you!” He strode toward Yin Kexi.

Yang Guo stretched his arm to hold the boy. “Little Brother, wait a moment!” he said. Junbao was startled; he turned his head. He felt numbness from Yang Guo’s grip.

Yang Guo whispered, “All you did was let him hit you without hitting him back. You can’t do that. Let me teach you a move. And then you hit him and see what happens.” He then flicked his empty right sleeve in front to Junbao’s face while thrusting his left hand to the youngster’s chest. About half a foot away he suddenly changed direction to the boy’s waist. He whispered again, “Your Master was right, he said ‘put your mind where the opponent hits’. It is the same thing with your punch. Put your mind where your punch goes. As your Master said, use your brain, not your brawn.”

Junbao was delighted; he followed Yang Guo’s direction. He moved toward Yin Kexi, lifted his right arm toward Yin Kexi’s face while thrusting his left hand toward Yin’s chest. Yin Kexi lifted his hand to parry. Junbao could see the opponent’s movement; he suddenly moved his hand toward Yin’s ribs.

Yin Kexi had experienced the youngster’s punch before; it was not too hard. He also saw Yang Guo was giving the boy some pointers. He did not pay too much attention since he thought what harm could come from the kid’s hundred or two hundred punches anyway? But he was wrong. When the punch hit his ribs he felt an excruciating pain so that his body bent over. He almost screamed. Of course he was surprised, but also livid. He saw Junbao was going to repeat his attack. He waved his right hand toward Yin’s face and thrust his left hand toward Yin’s chest. Yin Kexi was already familiar with this move. He parried the thrust. Junbao was thrown toward, and hit, a rock so that his forehead was bleeding.

The youngster did not utter any words. He quickly wiped the blood away and walked toward Yang Guo. Kneeling in front of Yang Guo he said, “Benevolent Master Yang, please teach me another one.”

Yang Guo nodded. He knew Yin Kexi was paying attention now, so he whispered, “This time I teach you three moves. In the first, your left and right hands are interchangeable. It will look like you will use your left, but in actuality it will be your right. When you thrust your right, actually it will be your left.”

Junbao nodded. Yang Guo taught him the stance ‘Repelling the Heart Pressing the Stomach’ [tui xin zhi fu]. The boy memorized it well.

“And now the second move,” Yang Guo continued. “This time left is left and right is right.” He taught him the stance ‘To Extend in All Directions, Four Pass Through, Eight Reached’ [si tong ba da li]. Junbao went through it in his head twice and he would remember it forever.

“The third move is ‘Who Killed the Deer’ [lu si shui shou]. It involves front and rear exchange, it is more complex than the others, so you can’t make mistake. You don’t understand accupoints sealing technique, that’s fine. I will mark his back. If you press that, you will be able to control him.” While talking Yang Guo also moved his finger to give an example, he said, “Remember, this move relies on footwork. Understand it?”

“Yes,” Junbao nodded and walked toward Yin Kexi.

Yin Kexi had watched Yang Guo carefully; he said in his heart, “These three stances are good. They are difficult to counter if they came from Yang Guo himself, but he taught that kid in front of my eyes. Did he think Yin Kexi is as stupid as an ox or a wooden horse? Ah Yang Guo, you underestimate me too much!”

Because he was filled with anger, Yin Kexi did not think straight. As soon as Junbao came in front of him, he immediately attacked the boy’s shoulder. His punch was right on target.

Junbao remembered Yang Guo’s instructions, he let the attack come, he didn’t even dodge it, he only gritted his teeth. Yin Kexi hit using five parts of his strength; his objective was to frighten the kid. Junbao screamed in pain, his shoulder made a popping sound; but he ignored it and attacked with the first move.

Yin Kexi had watched Yang Guo’s instructions; he had thought of ways to fend off the attack, but he did not hear Yang Guo’s words. He thought he would punch the kid to the ground as he did before.

But Junbao’s attack was beyond his expectation: he parried the boy’s right hand punch with his left, but the attack was a fake one; while his right hand also grabbed in vain. Suddenly his stomach was hit very hard and he began to sweat profusely.

“Brother Yang that was a well executed “Repelling the Heart Pressing the Stomach”!” Zhou Botong praised while laughing heartily.

Yin Kexi was stunned, but Junbao had already attacked him with the second stance, “To Extend in All Directions”, which could be interpreted as the punch would come from all directions. He still felt pain when the boy flashed in front of his eyes. He thought this attack would be similar to the previous one; from left to right and vice versa; therefore, he counterattacked by moving to the left; half defense, half counterattack. But again he was tricked.

Junbao was able to execute his stance well. Both his hands hit Yin’s shoulder, chest and back. He moved nimbly, his hands fast; it was a pity his inner strength was still weak. Yin Kexi did not feel excessive pain, but he was frantically fending off the punches and dodging here and there.

Jueyuan watched his predicament and shouted, “Benevolent Master Yin, you are wrong! You must remember that there is no definite meaning of front and rear, left and right. Who lags behind will actually gain the initiative; and who initiates the attack will be under the opponent’s power.”

Yang Guo was impressed. “This Monk is right,” he thought. “He happens to know very well the essence of martial arts. His words were very valuable. I originally thought he only let his disciple fight; but he also gives valuable instructions. Yin Kexi had achieved a high level of martial arts, but I doubt he would grasp this lesson even if he were given five more years to ponder it.”

He was right; Yin Kexi did not realize the meaning behind Jueyuan’s words. He thought the monk was just mocking him to disturb his concentration.

“Hey donkey head [derogatory name for monk], don’t talk rubbish!” he snapped. “Oh, ouch … ouch!”

He screamed in pain because his left thigh had been kicked by Zhang Junbao. He was enraged and lifted both his hands; he intended to attack at the top of his strength. He ignored Junbao’s attack and all he wanted was to vent his anger.

Junbao was nervous to see his fierce countenance; his hair and whiskers stood up. Junbao called out. He was about to leap back when he heard his master say, “Junbao, our strength against his! Quick, quick! Take rigidity from flexibility. Borrowing strength with ‘Four Taels Against a Thousand Jin’ [si liang bo qian jin]!”

Jueyuan was teaching the essence of Jiu Yang Zhen Jing; unfortunately it was too late. No matter how smart Junbao was, he could not grasp it in a short moment. Because of his anxiety, Junbao could not breathe. He could see Yin Kexi was really angry and was going to kill him.

At that critical moment he heard the swishing noise of a small stone flying toward Yin Kexi. The stone was really small, yet it made Yin Kexi clench his teeth and move a step backward. It was Yang Guo who helped Junbao. He had picked a couple of flowers, squeezed them in his hand and made a small flower ball. He then flicked the small stone with “Divine Flicking Finger” and immediately flicked the flower ball right after that.

Yin Kexi was trying to avoid the stone by moving backward, but the flower ball which came later hit his [da zhui xue] accupoint on his back accurately. The ball did not hit hard, but it left a flower juice mark on his clothes.

Junbao was saved from danger. He leaped to the west, but did not run away. On the contrary, he continued his attack with Yang Guo’s “Who Killed the Deer”.

Yin Kexi hesitated. He had experienced several punches from this youngster, “On the first move the left and right were interchangeable, the second move they were straight; I wonder what the third move will be?” Yang Guo was ingenious, he developed that move based on the old saying, ‘qin shi qi lu, tian xia gong zhu zhi’ [lit. Qin (Dynasty) lost its deer, everybody was chasing after it]; how could Yin anticipate the move?

No matter how hard Yin Kexi tried to keep up he got behind. Junbao moved fast, flashing to the left and right, and in no time he was behind Yin’s back. At that time the moon was already high in the sky. Junbao could see the thumb-size flower juice mark. Without wasting any time he hit the mark. He thought, “Benevolent Master Yang is so good, without my being able to see it, he has given me the promised mark …”

Yin Kexi did not move quickly enough, before he realized it his back had been hit by Junbao’s finger. This [da zhui xue] is the meeting point of three arteries. He felt a sudden numbness and he collapsed to the ground.

Except for Xiaoxiang Zi, everybody cheered! They praised, “A very nice “Who Killed the Deer”.”

“Excuse me!” Junbao said and searched his fallen opponent’s body. Unfortunately he did not find the sutra book he was looking for. He turned his eyes to Xiaoxiang Zi.

Xiaoxiang Zi was not stupid. He understood the boy’s intention. His skill level was almost the same as Yin Kexi’s. Therefore, if Yin Kexi has fallen, he would not gain victory either. Without waiting he brushed his long robe and said, “I don’t have the books you are looking for. Farewell!” He paid no attention to Yin Kexi and immediately leaped southward to escape.

Unexpectedly Jueyuan flicked his sleeve; his body flew past him blocking Xiaoxiang Zi’s way. Xiaoxiang Zi was fast, Jueyuan was even faster. Without further ado Xiaoxiang Zi attacked the monk’s chest. He exerted his whole energy toward his both hands.

“Watch out!” Yang Guo, Zhou Botong, Reverend Yideng and Guo Jing cried simultaneously. They knew the fierceness of this blow. While they were still shouting, a loud crash was heard. The monk’s chest was squarely hit by the ‘book thief’. They groaned inwardly, “Damn!”

Even though his attack hit the monk’s chest, Xiaoxiang Zi was the one who suffered from this blow. He flew away like a kite without a string; his body flew several meters and he fell to the ground, unconscious.

Jueyuan did not have any martial arts, but he has mastered the ‘Nine Yang Manual’. His body could be controlled at will. He did not dodge Xiaoxiang Zi’s attack, but his body reacted to external force naturally. A soft blow would produce a softer reaction, and a hard blow would produce an even harder reaction. Xiaoxiang Zi’s blow was very forceful; therefore, the reaction force was also enormous. Xiaoxiang’s strength bounced back and he injured himself severely.

The spectators were pleasantly surprised; they secretly praised this monk’s profound internal energy. But Jueyuan was dumbfounded, he softly murmured, “Amitaba Buddha, Amitaba Buddha.” Zhang Junbao immediately leaped over and searched his body. As with Yin Kexi, he did not find any books. He stood still in bewilderment.

“I overheard their conversation. I am sure they stole the books,” Yang Guo said, “I wonder where they hid them.”

“Let us torture them and force their confession,” Wu Xiuwen proposed.

“Please, please …” Jueyuan said, “don’t …”

“I believe they won’t confess even if we chop one off their arms or legs,” Huang Rong quipped. She knew very well these two’s characters.

While everybody was at loss as to what to do next, they heard a monkey’s cry from the western peak. They turned their head and saw the Divine Eagle chasing a dark green ape. The ape was big, but it was no match for the Eagle. The ape frantically ran and shrieked incessantly.

“Brother Eagle, have mercy on the monkey, let him go,” Guo Xiang ran toward the Eagle.

The Eagle understood, it stopped and stood still.

Yin Kexi woke up and stood. He helped Xiaoxiang Zi to stand; then beckoned to the ape. The ape rushed to his side; it seemed like it had been tamed by them. They leaned against the ape and limping, walked away down the mountain. Yang Guo and the others felt pity and let them go.

Guo Xiang saw Junbao’s forehead was still bleeding; she took her handkerchief out and dressed the wound. Junbao was very grateful; he was about to open his mouth to express his gratitude when he saw tears welling up in Guo Xiang’s eyes. He did not know why the Miss was heartbroken.

(Partially Translated by IcyBlade)

At that moment he heard Yang Guo’s clear voice, “We had a great time gathering on this beautiful evening. We shall chat over a cup of wine when we meet again. Let us part here.” He waved his sleeve, held Xiao Longnü’s hand and walked down the mountain together with the Divine Eagle.

The moon was bright like it was day, a cool breeze stirred the leaves, the night birds chirped cheerfully but Guo Xiang could not hold back her tears and the tear drops fell to the ground.

So it is said:

“The autumn wind is clear and bright, the fallen leaves clump together, the birds go south for the winter. When can they meet again; that time is hard to decide.”

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