The Heaven Sword and the Dragon Sabre – Chapter 1

Thinking of the unforgettable man far away.

She heard that the music was mixed by the singing of birds and it seemed that the birds were singing along. Guo Xiang thought, “According to mother there is a song called ‘Empty Mountain and Songs of Birds’. But this song was lost for may ages, is it possible this is that song?”

The vast and mighty tour through Spring, is every year’s winter yearning.
The season of the pear blossom is nearing. The white jade brocade is without wrinkles and smells fragrantly and is mesmerizing.
Snow is piling up on jade trees and jade petals.
The quiet night is deep.
The floating brightness is concealed through the clouds.
A cold steep is enough to melt the moon.
A dark silver fog illuminates heaven and earth. Her simple, natural but enchanting appearances mesmerizes me.
Even greater were her will and spirit.
She is like a bloom that exceeds other beautiful and fragrant flowers.
Her noble spirit is clear and pure, her immortal ability lies high.
She returns to the Jade palace and I can only see her from afar.

The author of this poem, Free from Mediocrity, was a famous martial arts expert from the southern Song dynasty. The name of this expert was Qiu Chuji, also known as the Everlasting One. He is one of the seven Masters of Quanzhen, and one of the most outstanding disciples of the Quanzhen School. Qiu Chuji wrote this poem after he met Xiao Longnü for the first time. She was a neighbour of Qiu for many years. At this time Qiu Chuji already passed away, and Xiao Longnü is the wife of the famous Condor Hero Yang Guo. Another girl was reciting this poem softly, in Henan province and on Mount Shaoshi. This young girl was about eighteen, nineteen years old and was wearing a cream yellow robe, she was riding on a mule and was proceeding up the mountain pass. She was thinking, “Only someone like sister Long is fit for him.” “Him” of course refers to Yang Guo.

After some time she softly recited, “Union is bliss, parting is woe, Agony is boundless for a lovelorn. Sweet heart, give me word….

“Trails of clouds drifting forward, Amid mountains cupped with snow, Whither shall my lonesome shadow go?”

This girl carried a short sword and looked travel stained. She was a beautiful young girl who was supposed to be happy and untroubled but somehow, she looked unhappy, melancholic.

Her name was Guo Xiang, the second daughter of the Great Hero Guo Jing and the famous Huang Rong. Her nickname was Little Eastern Heretic. With her mule and sword she has travelled a lot, her purpose was to forget her worries but her travelling only increased her sorrow.

Mount Shaoshi of Henan province were a set of large stone steps, these steps were constructed under the order of Emperor GaoZong of the Tang dynasty. It looked very impressive as Guo Xiang proceeded up the mountain. Before long she could see the monastery.

She stared at the roof for a moment and and thought, “The Shaolin Monastery is said to be the origin of martial arts, but why aren’t there any Shaolin experts among the Five Greats? Is it because the Shaolin experts knew there weren’t a match for the other experts and were afraid to disgrace Shaolin and refused to go? Or was it because the monks had evolved beyond earthly matters and didn’t want to scramble for power and fame.

After a while she saw a large stone tablet, half of it was gone and the characters were unclear, Guo Xiang was thinking, “How come characters carved into stone can fade away through time, but my feelings carved in my heart become more and more stronger as time goes by.”

This tablet was bestowed by Emperor Taizong of the Tang dynasty. He praised the Shaolin monks for helping him suppress the rebellions. The tablet states the military credits of the Shaolin monks for helping Emperor Taizong defeat the rebel general Wang ShiChong, of which thirteen monks were most famous. Only one monk became a general and the other twelve didn’t want to become officials and Emperor Taizong bestowed twelve purple kasayas. Guo Xiang was thinking, “During the Sui and Tang Dynasty, the Shaolin Monastery was already very famous for its martial arts, and now after a few hundred years they must be even more formidable.”

When Guo Xiang parted with Yang Guo and Xiao Longnü at Mount Hua three years ago. She lost all contact with them and missed them a lot. So she told her parents that she wanted to roam a bit but in fact, she wanted to hear some news about Yang Guo. She doesn’t want to actually meet them, she is very content if she can hear something about them. However, they seem to have disappeared entirely, Guo Xiang has travelled from north to south and from west to east. She practically travelled through China but still there was no news on Yang Guo.

She remembered that Yang Guo asked reverend Wuse to bring her a present on her sixteenth birthday. Wuse was a friend of Yang Guo and instructed someone to deliver Guo Xiang a present. Although she has never met him, she wants to know if he has any news about Yang Guo.

She was pensive for some time till she heard some metallic noise and a voice chanting Buddhist scriptures, “Through love worry will arise. Through love fear will arise. If you can free yourself from love, all worries and fear will be gone.”

When Guo Xiang heard this, she was completely dazzled. And softly repeated those words. The metallic noise and the chanting were becoming distant.

Guo Xiang said, “I must ask him, how I can free myself from love and how my worries and fear will disappear.” She tied her mule to a tree and chased after the sound. Guo Xiang caught with the monk and was shocked to see the monk carrying to large iron buckets and he was chained on his hands, feet, and neck, causing him to produce a metallic sound as he walked. The buckets were filled with water and it showed that the monk must posses extraordinary strength.

Guo Xiang spoke to the monk, “I have a few questions, please stop for awhile.”

The monk turned around and both Guo Xiang and the monk were surprised to see each other. The monk was Jueyuan. three years ago Guo Xiang met him on Mount Hua. Guo Xiang also knew that this monk was really pedantic, but had extremely powerful internal energy not inferior to any top martial arts expert of this time. She spoke to him, “Oh, it is you reverend Jueyuan. What happened to you?” Jueyuan smiled and nodded but didn’t speak. He turned around and walked away again. Guo Xiang said, “It’s me, Guo Xiang. Don’t you recognize me anymore?”

Jue Yuan turned his head and smiled and nodded but didn’t stop. Guo Xiang asked, “Who chained you? Why do they torture you?” Jue Yuan raised his left hand and shook his hand in admonition, meaning do not ask.

Guo Xiang wouldn’t let this matter rest until she got to the bottom of this. And wanted to run in front of Jueyuan but was not successful. Although Jueyuan was carrying two large buckets of water he was still very quick. Guo Xiang was amused and leapt up and wanted to grab one of the buckets, but she missed by an inch.

Guo Xiang said, “You have very impressive abilities, but I must catch up with you.”

Jueyuan continued to walk and the metallic noise sounded rather melodic. Guo Xiang was having difficulty keeping up and she was really impressed, “Both my father and mother praised this monk for his superior martial arts, at that time I wasn’t totally convinced, but now I know they were right.”

After awhile, Jueyuan walked to the back of a small house and emptied the buckets of water in an old well. Guo Xiang asked, “What are you doing? Why are you emptying the water in this well?” Jueyuan remained calm and shook his head. Guo Xiang thought she understood now and smiled, “You’re learning some sort of powerful martial arts, aren’t you?” Jueyuan shook his head again. Guo Xiang was feeling a bit angry now and said, “I just heard you chanting, you’re not dumb, why won’t you answer me?” Jueyuan put his palms together and looked apologetic and carried the buckets and walked away again.

Guo Xiang looked into the well and couldn’t find anything strange about it and stared at Jueyuan’s back and felt puzzled.

She gave chase for awhile but soon she felt tired and rested on a rock. She was admiring the scenery and felt very fresh afterwards. Guo Xiang was thinking, “I wonder where the pupil of this monk is. The pupil will probably tell me what is going here.”

She started going down again and wanted to find Zhang Junbao, the pupil of Jueyuan. She walked for awhile and soon she heard that metallic sound again, Jue Yuan came up again and Guo Xiang quickly hid and thought, “I’ll spy on him and see what he is up to.”

The metallic sound was becoming clearer and she saw Jueyuan reading a book. She silently approached him and called out, “What are you reading?”

Jueyuan was startled and cried out, “You gave me a scare, it’s only you.” Guo Xiang smiled, “You’re not pretending to be a dumb anymore.” Jueyuan looked slightly afraid and looked to the left and right and shook his hand.

Guo Xiang asked, “What is wrong?”

Before Jueyuan could answer, two monks in grey robes appeared out of the woods. One was very tall, the other one short. The tall monk sternly said to Jueyuan, “Jueyuan, you broke the rules by talking to an outsider and furthermore to a young girl. Come with us to see the elder of the Disciplinary Hall.”

Jueyuan looked crestfallen and nodded and started walking behind those two monks. Guo Xiang was angry and annoyed and sternly reproached, “What kind of rule forbids people from talking? I know this reverend and if I want to talk to him, it’s no concern to you.”

The tall monk gave her an arrogant look and said, “For more than thousand years, the Shaolin Monastery doesn’t allow women to enter. I suggest that Miss would leave before you get yourself in trouble.”

Guo Xiang became even more angry and said, “So what about women? Aren’t women humans? And why do you pester reverend Jueyuan? How come he is chained and you forbid him to talk to anyone?”

The monk coldly replied, “These are the rules of our monastery, no one has the right to question, not even the emperor. Miss, needn’t bother.”

Guo Xiang angrily said, “Reverend Jueyuan is an honest good person, you’re bullying him because he’s a nice man. Where are reverend TianMing, the monks Wuse and Wuxiang?

The two monks were shocked. Reverend TianMing is the abbot of Shaolin, Wuse is the elder of the Luohan Hall and Wuxiang is the elder of the Damo Hall. The three of them are very respected, all the monks address them as ‘old abbot, elder of the Luohan Hall or elder of the Damo Hall.’

No one has dared to call out their names, and today these two monks hear this young girl calling out their names and creating a scene.

These two monks are the pupils of the elder of the Disciplinary Hall, and received orders to keep an eye on Jueyuan. But now they see Guo Xiang interfering, the tall monk yelled, “If you don’t leave now, we will not be friendly.”

Guo Xiang said, “Should I be afraid of you? Hurry up and free Jueyuan of his chains or else I will go to old monk TianMing.”

The short monk became angry now and saw Guo Xiang’s sword. He said, “Leave your weapon behind and we will not take actions against you. Leave now!”

Guo Xiang removed her sword and held them in her hands and scoffed, “Alright then, I will comply.”

The short monk grew up in the Shaolin monastery and heard his seniors say that Shaolin was the origin of all martial arts and no matter how respected or how skilled, martial arts experts never carried weapons to the Shaolin monastery. Although this young girl didn’t actually reach the monastery but she was already on Shaolin premises. He thought this young girl was afraid and presented her sword so he reached out to grab the sword. However, when his fingers touched the scabbard his felt a painful tingling, like being struck by lightning. He felt a strong force coming from the sword and pushing him backward. He couldn’t maintain his stand and fell down. As he was standing on a slope he soon rolled down a few metres. With some difficulty, he could stop himself from rolling anymore.

The tall monk was shocked and angry and yelled out, “Of all the nerves! How dare you come to Shaolin to wreak havoc!” He turned his body and and advanced one step in front and his right fist aimed at Guo Xiang. His left hand was put on the back of the fist causing two palms striking down. This was the twenty-eighth technique of “Dashing Shaolin” namely “Turning Over Split”

Guo Xiang held on to her sword and pressed down her sword with scabbard and all to the monks’ shoulder. The monk held on to the sword.

Jueyuan was very frantic and called out, “Stop! Don’t fight!”

The monk tried to pull the sword over, suddenly he felt a shock through his palm and both arms felt numb he cried, “No!” Guo Xiang swept her left leg and kicked him down the slope. He was somewhat more injured than the other monk, his face was bleeding.

Guo Xiang was thinking, “I came to Shaolin to find some information on brother Yang, but now I’m engaged in a fight for no apparent reason.”

She saw Jueyuan looking sad, she pulled out her sword and cut the chains. Jueyuan was screaming, “No, you musn’t!” for a few times. Guo Xiang cut three chains and said, “Those two wicked monks will go back for reinforcements. We must go now, where is your little disciple?” Jueyuan kept shaking his hands. Suddenly a voice came from behind saying, “Thank you for caring Miss Guo, I’m right here.”

Guo Xiang turned around and saw a sixteen, seventeen year old man standing there. He had thick eyebrows and big eyes and was very tall. But still looked very young. She met him three years ago at Mount Hua, he was Zhang Junbao. He was taller this time compared to three years ago but he very much looked the same. Guo Xiang was very pleased and said, “Those nasty monks were bullying your teacher, we must go now.” Jueyuan laughed wryly and shook his head and suggested that Guo Xiang should quickly leave now before trouble comes.

Guo Xiang knows that there were an uncountable amount of Shaolin experts that were superior to her, but seeing this situation she couldn’t leave this matter alone and she was worried that Shaolin experts would stop them. So she pulled Jueyuan in one hand and the other Zhang Junbao and told them, “Hurry up, we’ll discuss everything when we leave this place.” But the two of them just stood still.

At this time seven, eight monks with wooden rods came up the slope and yelled, “Who is that audacious girl? How dare she come to Shaolin and behave atrociously!” Zhang Junbao called out, “Please don’t be rude, this is……”

Guo Xiang hurriedly said, “Don’t say my name.” She knew that she created a big scene today and perhaps this might even escalate so she didn’t want to drag her parents into this. She added, “Let’s go the other way! Don’t mention my parents’ name.

But another seven, eight monks came towards them. Guo Xiang saw that they were surrounded and raised her elegant eyebrows and said to Jueyuan and Zhang, “The both of you are so fussy, you lack a hero spirit! Do you want to leave now?” Zhang Junbao said, “Master, Miss Guo has only good intentions…”

At this point four monks came up the slope, although they didn’t carry weapons but judging their body posture they were experts.

Guo Xiang knew that using force would be futile so she just stood still and waited to see what would happen.

The first monk walked up and spoke to Guo Xiang, “The elder of the Luohan Hall ordered that the intruder was to lay down her weapon and was to be taken to the YiWei pavilion for questioning.”

Guo Xiang scoffed, “The monks of Shaolin have mastered the air of government officials. All of you speak a bureaucratic tone! I’m wondering whether you’re officials to the Song emperor or officials to the Mongolian emperor?”

At this time, the entire northern territories of China were in hands of the Mongolians, the Shaolin monastery fell under Mongolian jurisdiction. However, the Mongolians were busy deploying their troops so they had no time to control any temples, monasteries. Everything in Shaolin remained the same.

The monk felt embarrassed by Guo Xiang’s remarks and his face turned red and he felt that giving orders to outsiders was not very appropriate. He put his palms together and said, “May I inquire what business you have here, Benefactress. Would you please lay down your weapon and go to the YiWei pavilion where tea will be served and we have some questions we would like to ask.”

Guo Xiang heard his tone became a bit more friendly and thought this would be a good chance to stop and said, “I don’t care if you let me enter or not. It’s not like Shaolin has any treasure and I’m not willing to benefit from it.” She turns to Zhang Junbao and quietly asked, “Are coming or not?” Zhang Junbao shook his head and looked at his teacher saying his place is here. Guo Xiang loudly said, “Alright then, I will not interfere. I’m off,” and started walking down the slope. The first monk moved away but two other monks blocked her. And said, “Lay down you sword!” Guo Xiang raised her eyebrows and put her hand on the hilt. The first monk explained, “We don’t want to keep your weapon, we will return it when you leave Mount Shaoshi. This is our rule, please forgive us.”

Guo Xiang heard his tone was polite and thought, “If I don’t leave my sword, there is bound to be a fight and alone I’m no match for these monks. But if I leave my sword, I will disgrace my parents, brother Yang, sister Long and my grandfather.”

She was still thinking, and suddenly a figure appeared in front of her and shouted, “You come here with a weapon, injured two of our disciples. What’s the meaning of this?” And he formed a claw and grabbed Guo Xiang’ sword. If this monk didn’t use force, Guo Xiang would surely hand over her sword after some consideration. She isn’t like her elder sister Guo Fu. Although she is straightforward, she is not rash. Seeing this disadvantage, she would have complied and discussed this matter with her parents and Huang YaoShi and come back for an explanation. But now this monk used force, how can she watch her sword being grabbed away?

The monk’s grip was firm and he held on to the scabbard. He wanted to quickly disarm her. Because it would not be proper for a monk to be pulling and pushing with a pretty young girl. Guo Xiang couldn’t hold on to the scabbard and pulled out her sword. The monk used his right hand to seize the scabbard but his two fingers on his left hand were cut off.

The other monks were angry when they saw their martial arts brother wounded and picked up their wooden rods, cudgels and attacked. Guo Xiang knew that she had no choice but to fight now and used “Descending Flower Swordsmanship” to defend herself.

The Descending Flower Swordsmanship was derived from Huang YaoShi’s Divine Descending Flower Sword Palms. Although this swordsmanship is not as refined and excellent as the “Jade Flute Swordsmanship”, it was still a special technique from the Peach Blossom Island. The monks saw green flashes surging, the sword dancing, making it seem like flowers descending. In a few moments, two monks were injured. But other monks took their places and soon Guo Xiang was completely surrounded. She would’ve been overwhelmed if not for the fact that the monks were benevolent and not willing to harm her life. All their stances were to immobilize her and not to kill her, so they would lecture her and escort her away from here. Also, all the monks saw that this young girl had learnt superior martial arts and they thought that she must be either the daughter of famous martial arts experts or at least the disciple of a skilled martial arts expert. So they didn’t want to make any enemies, so every stance was rather limited. Some monks went to notify the elder of the Luohan Hall.

In the heat of the battle, an old tall monk came and observed the fight with a smile on his face. Two monks approached him and told him something.

Guo Xiang was panting and her swordsmanship was becoming disorderly and she yelled out, “What origin of martial arts? ten monks surrounding one person, what a way to win?”

That old monk was the elder of the Luohan Hall, reverend Wuse, when he heard this he said, “Stand back everyone!”

All the monks jumped away. Reverend Wuse asked, “What is your name, Miss? And who is your father and teacher? What business do you have here at Shaolin?”

Guo Xiang was thinking, “I can’t tell him my name. And I cannot reveal my reason in front of so many people. If my parents and brother Yang found out the mess I created they will be upset, the best thing to do is sneak away.” She answered, “I can’t tell you my name, I just came here to enjoy the scenery. I never guessed that the Shaolin Monastery was even stricter than the imperial palace, with no reason your weapon will be confiscated. I would like to ask, did I enter the monastery? When Master Damo taught Shaolin martial arts he just wanted the monks to improve their conditions and concentrate on their meditation through martial arts. But when Shaolin became more and more famous, and their martial arts kept improving, now the Shaolin monks rely on martial arts to flaunt their superiority. Well you can have my sword, and if you don’t kill me, everyone in the realm of martial arts will know what happened today.”

Guo Xiang is famous for being clever and fluent, this entire matter was actually her fault but with those words she rendered reverend Wuse speechless. She thought, “I don’t want anyone to know about this, and it seems that Shaolin doesn’t want the outside world to know about this incident either. A group of ten monks attacking a young girl will not do their reputation any good.”

She threw her sword on the ground and started walking away. Reverend Wuse walked up and used his sleeve to pick the sword and said, “Miss, I will return your sword and see you off respectfully.”

Guo Xiang smiled sweetly and said, “It seems that you’re very reasonable. That’s more like it. That’s the style a martial arts expert should have.”

Seeming that she won, Guo Xiang just praised this old monk and reached out to get her sword back. When she wanted to pull back, she noticed it didn’t move an inch. She used strength three times but in vain, and she said, “You’re deliberately displaying your martial arts.” Suddenly her left hand curled up and softly wanted to brush against Wuse’s two left cheek acupoints, namely ‘TianDing and JuGu.’ Wuse moved away and released his grip. Guo Xiang quickly seized her sword.

Wuse said, “Very impressive “Whisking Acupoint Orchid Hand.” May I ask how you address the lord of the Peach Blossom Island?”

Guo Xiang laughed, “The lord of the Peach Blossom Island? I call him old Eastern Heretic.”

Huang YaoShi is her maternal grandfather. He is a strange, eccentric man and he calls his granddaughter little Eastern Heretic and Guo Xiang calls him old Eastern Heretic. Huang YaoShi is not angry when he hears it and he is even happy when he hears it.

Wuse was a robber in his early years. Although he has studied Zen for many years and has profound Buddhist knowledge, he still is very straightforward, otherwise, he couldn’t be friends with Yang Guo. Seeing that this little girl is not willing to tell him, he wants to test her and find out. He smiled and said, “Young Miss, if you can withstand ten of my stances, I can guess your school.”

Guo Xiang asked, “What if you cannot?”

Wuse laughed and said, “Well if you can withstand ten of my stances, I will have to listen to you.”

Guo Xiang pointed at Jueyuan and said, “I met this reverend Jueyuan some years ago and I want to plead on his behalf. If I can withstand ten of your stances you have to promise not to give him anymore trouble.”

Wuse was surprised, he knew that Jueyuan was very pedantic and stayed in the Library and watched over the scriptures and never met any outsiders. How did he meet this young girl? Wuse said, “We never did give him any trouble. He is sitting out his punishment, that is not giving him trouble.”

Guo Xiang pouted and scoffed, “It seems to me that you just want to go back on your word.”

Wuse clapped his hands and said, “Very well, if I lose I will carry threeteneight buckets of water for Jueyuan. Watch out, here I come.”

Guo Xiang was thinking when she spoke to him, “This old monk seems to be a true expert. If he starts to attack first, I will have to try my best to defend myself and will reveal my parents’ martial arts. The best thing to do is for me to attack first and try to gain the upperhand.” When she heard him say “Watch out, here I come.” she didn’t give him time to attack first and raised her sword and aimed for his chest. This was a technique from the “Descending Flower Swordsmanship” namely “Thousands and Myriads of Purple and Red.”

The tip of the sword kept moving, not revealing to the opponent where the sword was aiming for.

Guo Xiang yelled out, “The second stance!” the short sword turned around and came from bottom to top, this was called the “Celestial Gentry Topping Apart” which was a Quanzhen technique.

Wuse said, “Good, Quanzhen sword technique.”

Guo Xiang said, “Not necessarily.” Her short sword stabbed into the air and saw Wuse using an attack as a defense and using his fingers to grab her wrist. She was a bit afraid, “This old monk is very formidable, he can attack bare-handed under such a dangerous technique.”

Seeing his fingers were coming closer, her sword dazzled a few times and used a technique from the “Dog Beating Stick”, namely “Mean Hound Blocking the Road.” And this stance belonged to the Sealing Formula.

Guo Xiang was close friends with the deceased leader of the Beggars Association Lu YouJiao, they occasionally drank wine and played mora together. Sometimes Lu would demonstrate his martial arts, although the “Dog Beating Stick” is only permitted to be used and learnt by the leader of the Beggars Association, Guo Xiang could learn a few stances from Lu. Furthermore, her mother Huang Rong and her brother-in-law were leaders of the Beggars Association. So she has seen this style a lot and could trick people into believing that she knew this style although she didn’t know the exact secret of it.

Wuse’s fingers just reached her wrist but he saw a bright light shining and the blade was coming towards his fingers in an excellently beautiful way. Almost cutting off his five fingers, but luckily his martial arts were high and he could avoid the attack by pacing back two steps. But his left sleeve was split. Wuse looked terrified and cold sweat was breaking out.

Guo Xiang was very amused and smiled, “What sword style is this?” In fact this wasn’t a sword technique, she just used a stance from the “Dog Beating Stick” and used it as a sword stance. Because this style was magnificent, even Guo Xiang couldn’t completely learn it, it was still capable to scare off this martial arts expert of Shaolin.

Guo Xiang thought, “If I learnt a few more stances from the “Dog Beating Stick” I could easily defeat this old monk.

She didn’t give Wuse time to catch his breath and advanced forward. Her sword was slightly raised and she floated towards him. Her posture looked like a floating fairy, the blade was pointing at Wuse’s legs. This was called “A Small Orchard for Chrysanthemum” which belonged to the Jade Maiden Swordsmanship. Guo Xiang learnt this technique from Xiao Longnü.

The Jade Swordsmanship was created by Lin ChaoYing, this style was not only swift and fierce but also refined, elegant and beautiful. All the monks never saw something that beautiful, they were all surprised and pleased. Because Shaolin sword styles were firm and fierce, for example, Luohan and Damo Swordsmanship. This Jade Maiden Swordsmanship was hardly known throughout the world of martial arts, the essence of it is the opposite of Shaolin styles but when it comes to superiority of the stances, it is not above Shaolin Swordsmanship.

But this technique was absolutely beautiful and celestial.

Even in Buddhist scriptures it is mentioned, “When the appearances are gracious and charming, when the manner is solemn, gentle and elegant. And behavior proper and gratifying. The watcher will not be bored.”

Reverend Wuse was impressed by such a magnificent stance and hoped to see it more clearly so he moved away and waited till Guo Xiang attacked again.

Guo Xiang’s technique now was changing directions a few times from east to west and from west to east. Zhang Junbao was mesmerized by it and was surprised to recognize this stance as “Extend in all Directions.” three years ago Yang Guo taught Zhang Junbao this technique and Guo Xiang was there to see it and now is using it. This was originally a palm technique, now she used it as a sword stance, the power of this stance was not that powerful anymore but it was a very strange sword stance and Wuse was a bit frightened by it.

They reached the fifth stance now, and Wuse didn’t have any idea who she was. In his younger years, he roamed the world and gained a lot of martial arts experience and insight. And now he is the elder of the Luohan Hall for more than ten years and has examined all styles of different schools and compared to Shaolin martial arts. So he was always very confident to recognize the martial arts of any expert within a few stances.

His limit with Guo Xiang of ten stances was already a very big margin. He never guessed that the parents, relatives, friends of Guo Xiang were all top martial arts experts and she learnt a few stances of each and every one of them, causing Wuse to be confused. Wuse now thought, “The only way for me now is to attack with strength, forcing to use her own martial arts to defend herself. If not, I cannot even guess her school after a hundred stances.”

He turned around and used “Double Piercing Hands” and two fists aimed for Guo Xiang. She saw that his attack was fierce and didn’t dare to block it and twisted her body and glided away from that attack. She remembered when Ying Gu fought against Yang Guo, Ying Gu used this style.

Wuse praised, “Good movement! Try another stance.”

His left hand curled up like a flower, bending his left elbow in front of his chest and this was another Shaolin fist stance.

This stance completely sealed Guo Xiang. She turned around her sword and use the sword as her finger and displayed the “Yi Yang Finger”. She learnt this technique from her martial arts brother, Wu XiuWen. And she aimed for three of Wuse’s acupoint of his wrist. Although she only learned the mere basics of “Yi Yang Finger” this technique of sealing three acupoints in one go was one of the key points of “Yi Yang Finger.”

Reverend YiDeng’s Yi Yang Finger was renowned through the world. Wuse recognized it and quickly changed stance.

However if Wuse didn’t change technique, and let Guo Xiang touch his three acupoints he would have known that her “Yi Yang Finger” was far from perfect.

But in a fight he wasn’t willing to risk his reputation and name for it. Guo Xiang smiled sweetly and said, “You recognize a powerful technique when you see it.”

Wuse grunted and used a stance called “Single Phoenix Glaring At the Sun”. With this stance Wuse used both hands to knock out Guo Xiangs’ sword.

She knew that he wouldn’t really harm her but was still frightened and used Zhou Botong’s Kong Ming Fist to counter it. This Kong Ming Fist was quite new to the martial arts realm so Wuse didn’t recognize it and turned to another stance namely “Siding to the seven Stars Flower.” One of his palms was up the other down and pressed down on Guo Xiang. If she didn’t use internal energy to block it, her hands would be snapped.

Guo Xiang thought, “Do you really want to break my hands?” And used an Iron Palm technique to block this attack. She learned this stance from Wu XiuWen’s wife, WanYan Ping. This stance was created by the famous Qiu QianRen and this palm technique was known to be number one for being violent and fierce.

Wuse was shocked to see a young girl using the Iron Palm technique and quickly withdrew his attack. First of all, he didn’t want to harm her, second, he was quite afraid for the Iron Palm technique.

Guo Xiang smiled sweetly, “This is the tenth stance, guess what school I belong to?”

And attacked Wuse with a simple Shaolin Fist called “The Sea of Bitterness has no Bounds.” This stance belonged to the Luohan fist style and Wuse was both angry and amused to see this. And he quickly used another stance to block it and lift her up. This was called “Carry the Mountain and Leap over the Ocean.”

But when he did that he realised, “I’m only wanted to win her and cannot recognize her school. She used ten different stances, what can I say. I surely can’t say she belongs to Shaolin.”

Guo Xiang was yelling, “Let me go!” and something dropped out of her clothes. Guo Xiang yelled again, “Let me go, you old monk.”

Wuse was an enlightened monk, he believe all creatures were the same. He made no differences in men and women, he even treated animals with care. He said, “I’m old enough to be your grandfather. What are you afraid of?”

He gently flicked his arm and Guo Xiang landed a few metres further.

He was about to admit defeat, when he saw two small dark iron figures of two Arhats and picked them up.

Guo Xiang asked him, “Well, do you admit defeat?”

Wuse looked very pleased and said, “Why should I admit defeat? Your father is the great hero Guo Jing, your mother is the heroine Huang Rong. Your grandfather is Lord Huang of the Peach Blossom Island. You’re second Miss Guo Xiang. Your father learnt martial arts from the seven Eccentrics of Jiang Nan, Peach Blossom Island, Northern Beggar and the Quanzhen School. No wonder Miss Guo has such profound knowledge of martial arts.”

Guo Xiang was stunned, “This old monk is very formidable, I used ten different stances but he was still able to know who I was.”

Wuse smiled and said, “Miss Guo, I recognized you from these two Arhat statues, how is brother Yang?”

Guo Xiang was shocked for a moment and said, “You must be reverend Wuse. You gave me these two Arhats as a present to me. The reason I came here was to find out some news of brother Yang and sister Long.”

Wuse said, “Many years ago, Master Yang came to our monastery and stayed for a few days. And when he left for Xiangyang he asked me to help him. But I don’t know where he is now.”

It seems that both Guo Xiang and Wuse didn’t know where Yang Guo was.

Guo Xiang was stunned for a moment and said, “Not even you know where he is now. I wonder who does know.”

Guo Xiang thanked him for his present.

These two Arhats were made by a carpenter monk of Shaolin. These two Arhats could display a set of Luohan fist if you activate the mechanism. That’s why Guo Xiang knew that Shaolin fist.

Wuse laughed and said, “Because of the rules of our monastery I cannot invite you stay, however I will walk you down. Please forgive us.”

Guo Xiang was pensive and said, “It doesn’t matter, I asked what I came for anyway.”

Wuse said, “As for my Buddhist brother Jueyuan I will explain later. You know what, we will find a good inn and talk these things over by a good meal and some wine.” Reverend Wuse was highly respected by the Shaolin monks, and they were all puzzled to see him being so respectful towards a young girl.

Guo Xiang said, “No need for that, I’m sorry that injured a few reverends. Please forgive me for being rash. I will leave now and I hope to see you again.”

Wuse laughed and said, “I’m adamant, I will see you off. I’m sorry I couldn’t attend your sixteenth birthday that year. After burning down the supplies and the gunpowder of the Mongolian army I left without going to Xiangyang.

Guo Xiang knew he had good intentions, and like his straightforward manner and was very eager to make friends with him and said, “Good.”

After the two of them walked for awhile and passed the Yi Wei pavilion. They heard a footsteps behind them when they turned around to look they saw Zhang Junbao. Guo Xiang smiled and said, “Brother Zhang, did you come to see me off too?”

Zhang Junbao blushed and said, “Yes.”

Suddenly another monk ran towards Wuse looking rather hectic. Wuse frowned his eyebrows and said, “Why are you so frantic?” That monk went to Wuse and said something very quietly. Wuse’s face changed and said, “Really?”

The monk said, “The abbot asked master Wuse to return now and to discuss matter.”

Guo Xiang saw that Wuse looked worried and told him, “If you have something to do now, feel free to go back. Real friends don’t need all those formalities, we can always eat and drink another time.”

Wuse looked pleased and said, “No wonder Master Yang speaks highly of you. You’re a true heroine, today you’ve made a friend.”

Guo Xiang smiled and said, “You’re already friends with brother Yang. That makes you my friend too.”

The two parted and Wuse went back.

Guo Xiang continued to walk down, Zhang Junbao didn’t dare to walk next to her and kept Five steps in between them.

Guo Xiang asked, “Why do they punish your teacher?”

Zhang Junbao said, “The rules of the monastery are very strict, if the monks break them they have to be punished.”

Guo Xiang asked, “What did your teacher do wrong, he’s a very nice man.”

Zhang sighed, “It is all because of the Ni Jia Scripture that was lost.”

Guo Xiang said, “You mean the scripture that was stolen by Xiao Xiangzi and Yin Kexing.”

Zhang said, “Yes, that day at Mount Hua, I searched them and found nothing even with the help of Master Yang. After we left the mountain we couldn’t find them anymore. We returned to the monastery and reported it to the abbot. Because that scripture was written by Master Damo, the elder of the Disciplinary Hall blamed my teacher for not paying better attention to the scriptures and heavily punished him.”

Guo Xiang sighed, “This is blaming it on someone else. Why should reverend Jueyuan be punished for it. Because of this they ordered your teacher to fill that well and forbade him to speak.”

Zhang said, “This is an old punishment of Shaolin. According to the elders, this punishment can also be seen as good form of self-cultivation.”

Guo Xiang laughed, “It seems I’m a busybody.” Zhang quickly said, “We will always remember Miss Guo’s help and intentions.”

Guo Xiang sighed and thought, “But someone has completely forgotten about me.”

After awhile they reached the place where Guo Xiang tied her mule and she said, “Brother Zhang, you needn’t see me off anymore.” Zhang Junbao looked reluctant to part and didn’t know what to say to Guo Xiang.

Guo Xiang took out her two Arhats and gave them to Zhang Junbao, “Here take it.”

Zhang Junbao didn’t take it and said, “I…I..”

Guo Xiang said, “I’m giving it to you, so take it.” Zhang Junbao said, “I…..I….”

Guo Xiang put them in his hands and mounted the mule.

Suddenly someone called out, “Miss Guo, please wait.”

It was reverend Wuse, Guo Xiang thought, ” This old monk was too formal.”

Wuse reached Guo Xiang in a few moments and told Zhang Junbao, “Return to the monastery, don’t stroll about.”

Zhang Junbao said yes and stared at Guo Xiang for short while and quickly left.

Wuse waited till he was gone and took out a note and said, “Miss Guo, do you know who wrote this note?”

Guo Xiang took the note and read it:

“Shaolin martial arts have been proclaimed to be invincible throughout China for many years. Ten days from now, The Three Saints of Kunlun will see all Shaolin skills.”

The handwriting was very strong. Guo Xiang asked, “Who are these “The Three Saints of Kunlun,” they sound very arrogant.”

Wuse said, “You don’t know them?” Guo Xiang shook her head and said, “No, I don’t know them. I have not heard my parents mention this name before.”

Wuse said, “That’s the strange thing about it.” Guo Xiang asked, “What is strange?”

Wuse said, “Miss Guo, we are now friends and I will be honest with you. Do you know who brought this note?” Guo Xiang answered, “Probably a messenger from The Three Saints of Kunlun.”

Wuse said, “If it was, I’m not that surprised. Shaolin has been the leading martial arts school in wulin for hundreds of years. So many martial arts experts come here to challenge us, but we always treat our guests with courtesy. And we try to avoid fighting as much as possible, because if we battled every expert who came here for a fight, we wouldn’t have time for our cultivation.”

Guo Xiang nodded and said, “That’s true.”

Wuse said, “However, when the experts are here, and if we don’t show them some special ability they will not be impressed. The Luohan Hall is there to welcome these guests with this special treatment.”

Guo Xiang laughed and said, “So you’re just here for the fights.” Wuse smiled with a wry, “Normally wulin persons, the disciples of the Luohan Hall can deal with them, I don’t need to fight them personally. But today when I saw that Miss Guo’s martial arts were out of the ordinary I decided to see for myself.”

Guo Xiang smiled, “You have a very high opinion of me.”

Wuse said, “Look at me, we’re digressing. To tell you the truth, we found this note in the Luohan Hall in the hands of the Dragon-Subduing Arhat.” Guo Xiang was surprised and asked, “Who put it there?” Wuse shook his head and said, “We don’t know. There are hundreds of Shaolin monks in the monastery, if someone sneaked in, someone must have noticed that. And there are eight disciples standing guard in the Luohan Hall every day. Someone just found the note and quickly reported it to the abbot. Everyone found it strange and that’s why I was called back so urgently.”

Guo Xiang now understood what he was getting it and said, “You think I’m in league with The Three Saints of Kunlun. I’m creating a diversion here while those three fellows enter the Luohan Hall and leave the note.”

Wuse said, “After meeting you I found it impossible you would do something like that. But it was very coincidental that with your appearance a note is left behind in the Luohan Hall. That’s why the abbot and my martial arts brother Wuxiang wrongly suspected you were involved in this.”

Guo Xiang said, “I don’t know them, what are you afraid of? Ten days later if they dare to come, just accept the challenge.”

Wuse said, “Afraid, of course we’re not afraid. I’m reassured now that they are not your friends.”

Guo Xiang knew Wuse’s intentions were good, he was afraid that The Three Saints were friends of hers and was afraid that in a fight they might damage their friendship. She said, “If they come here and courteously want to examine martial arts with you that’s not a problem. Otherwise, just teach them a lesson. Also the tone of the note was very arrogant, ‘see all Shaolin skills’. Do they really want to see the seventwo skills of Shaolin?”

Suddenly she thought of something and said, “Couldn’t it be that there is a traitor amongst you and secretly put the note there?” Wuse said, “We thought of this too, but that was impossible. Because the Arhat statue’s hand was almost ten metres tall. If someone was to jump up there, his art of levitation should be superb. If there was a traitor he wouldn’t have such good martial arts.”

Guo Xiang was very puzzled by this entire incident and was very interested to know the outcome of this duel. But she knew she would miss out on this fight because Shaolin didn’t allow women to enter.

Wuse saw she was pensive and thought that she was thinking of a plan to help them and said, “Shaolin has overcome many obstacles in these thousand years and is still standing. If “The Three Saints of Kunlun” really want to pick a fight, we will try our best to battle them. Miss Guo, in less than a month, you’ll hear whether these “Three Saints of Kunlun” have defeated Shaolin or not.”

At this point, he looked very energetic and brave.

Guo Xiang smiled and said, “Don’t forget about your cultivation? In less than a month I will await your good news.”

She mounted her mule again and smiled to Wuse.

And then she rode off thinking of a plan not to miss out on this battle.

After thinking for awhile, “Perhaps these “Three Saints of Kunlun” are just some ordinary wulin people. And will be easily defeated by the Shaolin monks, if they only had half the skills of my mother, father, grandfather or brother Yang, this fight will be very interesting.”

When she thought of Yang Guo she became melancholic again. These three years of searching were in vain. The tomb on Mount ZhongNan was empty, no news in the Loveless Valley, the Fengling Ferry was deserted too. She thought, “What do I do when I find him? It will only increase my feelings for him and bring extra frustration. He left for a faraway place, that was also good for me. Although I know everything I do is in vain, it can’t stop me from thinking about him and trying to find him.”

She rode her mule and wandered a bit on Mount Shaoshi and was feeling melancholic.

She heard music sounds, she was surprised to hear someone playing the zither. She learnt the arts of zither, chess, literature and painting from her mother. Although she learnt only the basics, she is intelligent enough to give her own unique perspective on matters. Frequently, she discussed these arts with her mother. She tied her mule to a tree and walked towards the music.

She heard the music was mixed by the singing of birds and it seemed that the birds were singing along. Guo Xiang thought, “According to mother there is a song called “Empty Mountain and Songs of Birds.” But this song was lost for may ages, is it possible this is that song?”

The music became more and more interesting. Guo Xiang was surprised and thought, “This man can lure birds with his music, this song must be “A Hundred Birds Admiring the Phoenix.” And thought if her grandfather was here, both of them could play this song together. Because Huang YaoShi’s flute was unequalled at this time.

The music became softer and the birds flew away and suddenly the music stopped. The man sighed and said he couldn’t find a soul mate and drew his sword and started carving on the ground.

Guo Xiang thought, “This man is both well versed in artistic fields and martial arts, let’s see how his swordsmanship is.”

She saw that this man was drawing a chessboard with his sword and started playing chess (Go) with himself.

Guo Xiang thought, “This man is lonely too and can’t find a soul mate either, so he’s playing chess with himself.”

After awhile she saw that the man trapped himself in the western side of the chessboard and leaving the central open.

Guo Xiang couldn’t help herself and spoke, “Why do you take the western borders? While the central plains are open.”

The man saw what he did and took the central plains causing a draw. The man laughed and said, “Good, good!” and continued to play and realised that someone was present. He tossed his sword away and said, “Thank you for your help. May I ask who helped me?”

Guo Xiang saw that he had a long face and dark eyes and was quite skinny. He was about thirty years old. She walked towards him and smiled, “I was very much enchanted by your music, Sir. And when I saw that you’re losing to yourself I couldn’t help pointing out. Please forgive me for my bluntness.”

The man was surprised to see a young girl and when he heard her talking about his music, he was very happy and said, “Miss, is a musician too? Would you please play a piece for me?”

Guo Xiang smiled and said, “My mother taught me some basics, compared to your divine music I’m very bad. But since I heard your song it’s only natural that I return a song back. But you musn’t laugh.”

The man said, “I wouldn’t dare.”

And handed the zither to Guo Xiang.

Guo Xiang saw that this zither was an antique. She started to play the zither and her playing was not very spectacular but the man was very happy and surprised.

The song was about a hermit and he lived alone on a mountain and felt lonely. Because he didn’t have a soulmate he looked sickly but his aspirations will always be very high.

The man heard his feelings in the music of Guo Xiang and was very grateful and when the music stopped, he just stared into the blank.

Guo Xiang gently put the zither on the ground and turned around and left again. Reciting the poem that matched this song:

A gentleman is exploring the mountainside
Close to a stream, all alone
Although he is forlorn, although he is unaware
But he is wise, and will never change
And this piece is the gentleman’s song:

The day is so short, a hundred years is so long
The earth is so wide, one hundred incarnations approaches the Tao
An angel releases the reins, one half is as white as snow
The Creator meets the Jade Lady laughing, I wish for the dragon’s embrace
Turning towards Phu Tang, to buy good wine at Bac Bau
Inviting the dragon to riches which I scorn,
That throughout the year beautify only the being.

Guo Xiang roamed the realm for three years now, and encountered many strange incidents. So she forgot all about the man who played the zither and chess. Another two days, The Three Saints of Kunlun will challenge Shaolin. She was thinking of a way to sneak in and watch but couldn’t think of anything. She thought, “My mother can think of eighteen plans in a blink of an eye. I’m just too stupid and I can’t even think of one plan. Never mind, I’ll just go to Shaolin and perhaps they are too busy fighting of the intruders that they forget to stop me from entering.”

She ate some rations for the journey and proceeded to Shaolin. After riding for some time, she saw three horses riding towards her. And in short while they passed her and were headed towards Shaolin. The riders were all men in their fifties and were green robes and weapons hung to the saddles.

Guo Xiang thought, “These three men are martial artists and they are carrying weapons. They must be The Three Saints of Kunlun. If I don’t hurry up, I’ll miss out on a good fight.”

She gave her mule a clap and he quickly pursued them. The three riders whipped their horses to increase speed. One of the old man turned back and gave a strange look.

Guo Xiang’s mule gave chase for a short distance. The three horses were out of sight. The mule looked exhausted. Guo Xiang scolded, “Lazy animal! Normally you never listen to me and keep running about. When I need you to run, you can’t keep up.” She pulled the mule to a small stone pavilion and gave the mule to rest. After awhile the three riders came back. Guo Xiang was surprised and thought, “Could it be that they are really that useless and were defeated in one blow?”

The three riders dismounted, Guo Xiang looked at them and saw that one of them had a cinnabar coloured face. The other had a really red face and looked very friendly. The third one was very tall and skinny and looked very pale, but in his paleness there was a touch of green.

These three old men looked very normal except for their strange skin complexion. She was very fascinated and asked, “Could I ask you whether you went to the Shaolin Monastery or not? Why did you return when you just when up there?” The pale-looking man gave her a stern look, like scolding her for asking questions.

The red-faced man smiled and said, “How did you know we are headed for the monastery?” Guo Xiang said, “If you go up there, you’ll go to the Shaolin Monastery.”

The red-faced man nodded and said, “That’s true, and Miss where are you going?” Guo Xiang said, “You’re going to Shaolin, and I’m going too.”

The pale-faced man said, “Shaolin doesn’t allow women to enter and carrying weapons is also forbidden.” He sounded very arrogant, and because of his height he looked over Guo Xiang’s head ignoring her completely.

Guo Xiang was annoyed and said, “Well you’re carrying weapons too. Or aren’t those weapons?”

The pale-faced man coldly said, “How can you compare yourself with us?”

Guo Xiang scoffed, “What about the three of you? Are The Three Saints of Kunlun fighting with the old monks of Shaolin yet? Who won and who lost?”

The three old men’s faces changed. The red-faced man asked, “Little Miss, how do you know about this incident with The Three Saints of Kunlun?” Guo Xiang said, “Of course I know.”

The pale-faced man walked up and sternly said, “What’s your name? Whose disciple are you? And what is your business here at Shaolin?

Guo Xiang raised her pretty face and said, “Never you mind.”

The pale-faced man was hot-tempered and raised his hand to slap her. But he realised that if he did that, he will be bullying a young girl. He swiftly advanced towards Guo Xiang and seized her sword.

Guo Xiang was taken off guard, this never happened before in her life. To be frank, with her martial arts and experience she was not fit to roam the realm on her own. But everyone respected Guo Jing and Huang Rong and knew she was their daughter and Yang Guo spread the word of her sixteenth birthday and all the unorthodox wulin person knew her. Even if they dared not to give Guo Jing and Huang Rong face, they would surely respect Yang Guo. Furthermore, she was very pretty and straightforward, she treated everyone equally no matter what social status they had. Although the realm of martial arts was a dangerous place, she always came out fine and without any harm. She never suffered such humiliation in her life and knew she couldn’t get her sword back. Because she was not their match yet, but to give up like this was very difficult to accept.

The pale-faced man held the sword between his index finger and middle finger and coldly said, “I’ll keep this sword for awhile. Seeing you have the audacity to be disrespectful towards me, it’s clearly that your parents and teachers didn’t teach you any manners. If you want them to come and reclaim the sword and I will tell them what happened and advise to pay more attention to you.”

Guo Xiang was furious when she heard this, according to this man she was a wild girl with no manners, and thought, “Fine! Not only did you scold me, you also scolded my parents, grandfather. Do you really think you have invincible abilities and you can be that arrogant.”

She held her temper and said, “What’s your name?”

The pale-faced man grunted and said, “Let me teach you, you should say: Sirs, may I be so bold to ask you what your names are?”

Guo Xiang angrily said, “No, I will say it however I want. If you don’t want to tell me, fine. It’s not that I’m desperate to know. This sword isn’t worth much, and you are bullying a young girl by stealing their possessions. I don’t want it anymore.”

She turned around and walked out the pavilion.

Suddenly the red-faced man blocked Guo Xiang and smiled, “Young girls shouldn’t be that hot-tempered, when you get married you can’t throw tantrums like that anymore. Let me tell you, we are three martial arts brothers, and we just arrived in China a few days. We’re from the western borders of China.”

Guo Xiang pouted, “I know that too, in China we don’t recognize the three of you.” The three men looked at each other and the red-faced man asked, “May I ask Miss, who your teacher is?” Guo Xiang didn’t want to reveal the names of her parents at Shaolin originally. But now she was angry and told them, “My father’s name is Guo Jing. And my mother is called Huang Rong. I don’t have a teacher, I learnt a bit of martial arts from my parents.”

The three old men looked at each other and the pale-face man softly said, “Guo Jing? Huang Rong? Of which school do they belong? Whose disciples are they?”

Guo Xiang was infuriated, because her parents were respected throughout the realm. Even ordinary people know them, let alone wulin persons, the famous great hero Guo Jing was respected for guarding the city of Xiangyang for many years.

But judging from their expressions, they are not pretending to be ignorant. She realised, “These Three Saints of Kunlun live on the western borders and rarely come to China. Otherwise, with their martial arts father and mother were bound to mention them to me. If they truly don’t know my parents then it’s not strange. It’s very likely that they just study martial arts at Mount Kunlun and forget all other matters.”

When she realised this, her anger disappeared, she is not a girl to throw tantrums and said, “My name is Guo Xiang. Fine, I have told you everything you wanted to know. Sirs, may I be so bold to ask you what your names are?”

The red-faced man smiled, “That’s a good girl, now you show respect to seniors.”

He pointed to the yellow-faced man and said, “That’s our eldest martial arts brother, his name Pan Tiangeng, I’m the second martial arts brother and my name is Fang Tianlao. This is my third martial arts brother and his name is Wei Tianwang. The three of us all belong to the Tian character generation.”

Guo Xiang nodded and remembered their names and asked, “Are you going to the Shaolin Monastery or not? Have you battle the monks there? And who is better?” Wei Tianwang sternly asked her, “How did you know we’re going to compete with the Shaolin monks? Hardly anyone knows this and when did you know this? Tell us now!” He walked towards Guo Xiang made a fist and stared at Guo Xiang very viciously. Guo Xiang thought, “Do you really think you can intimidate me? Originally I wanted to tell you, but now I won’t talk.”

She gave him an indifferent eye and said coldly, “Your name is good, why don’t you change it in to TianE (‘born viciously’)?”

Wei Tianwang angrily shouted, “What?”

Guo Xiang said, “I never met a more vicious man like you, you grabbed my weapon and you’re still this fierce. Are you the Deity of Ferociousness in reincarnation?”

Wei Tianwang made a few strange noises like an animal and his chest swelled up and it looked like his hair and eyebrows raised too.

Fang Tianlao said, “Third brother, don’t get upset.” and he pulled Guo Xiang back and he stood between the two of them.

Guo Xiang saw Wei Tianwang and knew if he attacked, she would not be able to withstand it and was beginning to get a bit scared.

Wei Tianwang pulled out the short sword of Guo Xiang and used two fingers to hold it and used his internal strength to break it into two halves. He returned the broken half back into the scabbard and said, “Who wants your unworthy sword.” Guo Xiang saw the powerful energy of his fingers and looked in awe.

Wei Tianwang saw her expression and was very pleased and laughed heartily. This laughter was ear-piercing and shook the roof tiles of the pavilion.

Suddenly the roof cracked open and something fell down. Everyone was surprised at this and even Wei Tianwang was even more surprised. He used his internal strength to make a laughing sound to tremble the tiles. But actually there was no tone of pleasure in his laughter. When he saw the roof cracking open he thought that without his own knowledge he reached a higher level in his cultivation of internal energy.

When he looked at that “thing” that dropped down he was shocked to see a man in a white robe holding a zither. He was just lying there, closing his eyes.

Guo Xiang was pleased to see him and said, “You’re here too.” This man was the man she met earlier.

The man jumped up when he heard Guo Xiang talking to him and said, “Miss, I was looking for you. I didn’t know you were here.”

Guo Xiang said, “Why are you looking for me?” That man said, “I forgot to ask you something, namely [ Miss, may I ask what your name is?].”

Guo Xiang said, “How very formal, I can’t stand that genteel and mournful way of talking.” That man was stunned for a moment and laughed, “You’re right, you’re right. Those that cling on to mere conventionalities and put on airs have no real abilities. Those men are only fit to fool ignorant peasants.” after saying that he looked at Wei Tianwang and scoffed.

Guo Xiang was very happy and thought this man was helping her.

Wei Tianwang stared at him and his face became even more white and coldly asked, “May I know your name, Sir?”

That man ignored him and asked, “Miss, what’s your name?”

Guo Xiang said, “My name is Guo Xiang.”

That man clapped his hand and said, “Forgive me for not recognizing you, you’re the famous Miss Guo. Your father is the great hero Master Guo Jing and your mother is the famous heroine Master Huang Rong. With the exception for ignorant peasants and idiots, everyone in the realm of martial arts knows them. The two of them are well-versed in both literary and martial arts, and are well-versed in sabre, swords, spears, halberds. Also renowned for their palm, fist techniques, internal energy, zither, chess, calligraphy, art, composing poems and songs. But there are clearly some foolish people who have never heard of them before.”

Guo Xiang was quite amused and thought, “You’re were listening at our conversation on the roof. It seems that you don’t know who my parents are. And my father being well-versed in literary fields is even more hilarious.” She laughed and said, “Well, what’s your name?”

The man answered, “My name is He Zudao.” Guo Xiang smiled and said, “He Zudao! He Zu Dao Zai (‘not worth mentioning’)? A very modest name.”

He Zudao said, “Compared to Tian (‘heaven’) something or Di (‘earth’) something these arrogant bragging, overweening ignoramuses, my name isn’t that appalling.”

He Zudao keeps mocking the three of them, they could keep their tempers under control because they knew this man wasn’t an ordinary man. But He’s remarks were getting even more insulting and Wei Tianwang was the first to attack and raised his palm to strike He Zudao. He Zudao ducked his head and passed under Wei’s arms. Wei Tianwang felt a numbness in his left hand and saw that He seized the sword out of his hand. When Wei Tianwang seized the sword, he was so swift that no one could see his movements, but He Zudao did in a very floating and light manner.

Wei Tianwang was shocked and he used his hands as claws to try to get the sword back. He aimed for He’s shoulder. He avoided that claw. Pan Tiangeng and Fang Tianlao leapt out of the pavilion. Wei Tianwang attacked with both hands, left hand with a fist, right hand palm stances causing a ‘whooshing sound.’ He Zudao avoided Wei’s seven, eight stances, Wei couldn’t even touch He’s clothes. With one hand holding the sword, he could still avoid the attacker’s violent attacks, with a small movement Wei Tianwang’s attacks were always in vain.

Guo Xiang, herself was not a real martial arts expert due to her young age. However, her friends and relatives are all top martial arts experts of this time so her insight is very profound on martial arts. When she saw that He Zudao used balanced movements and very clever moves to avoid very violent attacks she knew his martial arts were of an entire different type and were very different from the martial arts found in China.

Wei Tianwang used twenty stances already and still couldn’t force his opponent to fight back, so he took a deep breath and his fist techniques changed and he attacked slowly now but the force of his fists increased. Guo Xiang felt his energy and stepped out of the pavilion.

At this point, He Zudao didn’t dare just to avoid these attacks and hung the sword at his belt and stood still and yelled, “You’re not the only one skilled in tough martial arts.” When Wei’s two palms reached him He used his left hand to respond at this attack. Tough against tough, the three palms made a ‘bamming’ sound. Wei’s body shook and he took two paces back. He Zudao stood still.

Wei Tianwang always believed that this skill of his was unequalled in the realm. But today he was unable to win and he himself was pushed back two paces. He wasn’t ready to give up and took a deep breath and yelled out both palms pushed forward. He Zudao yelled out too and returned a palm, shaking the broken roof.

Wei Tianwang backed four paces, before he could stand still again. After two times of palm to palm attacks his hair was messy and he had bug-eyes now looking very eerie. He put his hands around his public region and took a few breaths causing his chest to swell up again. All his joints made a funny cracking sound and he walked towards He Zudao.

He Zudao didn’t dare to be inattentive and readied himself to encounter him. Wei Tianwang kept walking towards He and walked so close that they could feel each other’s breath. At this point, one of Wei’s palms aimed for He’s face the other palm aimed for the lower abdomen. With this attack he hoped to divide the opponent’s energy. This stance was very violent and fierce.

He Zudao used his both palms to meet up with Wei’s palms. He divided his energy into two sorts, Ying and Yang. Wei felt that the palm that aimed for his face was empty and hollow, the other palm felt it hit an iron brick wall. Wei Tianwang knew this wasn’t good and he felt an enormous energy coming towards him and pushing him out of the pavilion.

This sort of tough attacks, the weaker one will be injured and there was no way to avoid that. No matter whether Wei Tianwang could stand still or fall down. His own energy was reflected back and He Zudao’s energy was added to it. Wei was surely to cough up blood. Pan Tiangeng and Fang Tianlao both yelled, “Now!” Both jumped up and grabbed Wei’s arms and picked him up, and helped him avoid the enormous blow. Although Wei Tianwang wasn’t injured, his Five internal organs felt like it was turned upside-down and all his joints seemed to be cracked. He couldn’t breathe easily now and was panting.

Fang Tianlao was angry and surprised to see his third martial arts brother wounded but remained smiling and said, “Your palm techniques are indeed very powerful, and are hardly equaled in the realm. My respects.”

Guo Xiang thought, “When it comes to powerful palm techniques, who can match my father’s Eighteen Palms of Dragon Subduing. You, The Three Saints of Kunlun, are just too ignorant. One of these days you’ll meet a true hero of the central plains.”

When she thought of this, she felt grieved again. Because she wished that the hero they would meet was Yang Guo and not her father Guo Jing.

Fang Tianlao said, “This unworthy old man wants to try your swordsmanship.”

He Zudao said, “Brother Fang was very friendly towards Miss Guo. I don’t blame you for anything and we needn’t battle.”

Guo Xiang was surprised and thought, “The reason why you taught Wei Tianwang a lesson was that he was very rude to me?”

Fang Tianlao drew his sword and used a finger to tick the tip of his sword. The sword made a humming sound. When Fang drew his sword, his smile disappeared. The sword pointed into the sky and this stance was called “An Immortal Giving Directions.”

He Zudao said, “If brother Fang really wants to battle I’ll use the short sword of Miss Guo.” He drew the broken sword, the sword originally was very short and after Wei Tianwang broke it was even shorter. Furthermore, the tip was gone now and it didn’t even resemble a dagger.

He Zudao held the scabbard in his left hand and thrust the sword forward. This was a very fast manoeuvre, Fang Tianlao saw a white flash and already He Zudao attacked with three stances, because the sword He used was too short he couldn’t wound Fang Tianlao. But Fang was still frightened and thought, “Very fast three stances, most difficult to block. What kind of swordsmanship does he use? If he used an ordinary long sword I would be dead by now.”

After He Zudao attacked with three stances, he backed away and stood still. Fang Tianlao displayed his sword techniques in half defending and half attacking. He Zudao avoided the attacks and didn’t counter attack. Suddenly he attacked with incredible speed again forcing Fang Tianlao to be in a frantic rush. And He Zudao jumped back again. Fang Tianlao displayed his sword into a white light, and his movements were very swift.

Guo Xiang thought, “This old man’s techniques are violent, fierce, ruthless and viscous. Similar to the palm techniques of Wei Tianwang, but he’s swifter and makes him more lethal……”

When she thought of here, she heard He Zudao yell out, “Be careful!” After saying ‘careful’ his scabbard in his left hand was quick as lightning and encased Fangs’ sword and his right hand sword pointed at the throat of Fang Tianlao.

Fang Tianlaos’ sword was stuck in the scabbard and couldn’t be used to block that stance. Seeing that sword was about to thrust through his throat, he let go of his sword and rolled away on the ground and avoided that lethal blow. Before Fang got up, Pan Tiangeng seized the hilt of the sword and pulled it out of the scabbard. Both Guo Xiang and He Zudao exclaimed, “Excellent movement!” This sickly looking old man didn’t say a word, but it was evident his martial arts were above his two younger martial arts brothers.

He Zudao said, “Sir, you have very good martial arts. My respects.” He Zudao turned his head to Guo Xiang and said, “Miss Guo, after hearing your enchanting performance earlier, I’ve composed another song. And I would like you to give me your opinion.”

Guo Xiang asked, “What kind of song is it?” He Zudao sat on the ground and started to prepare his zither.

Pan Tiangeng said, “You’ve defeated my two martial arts brothers. I would like to compete with you.”

He Zudao shook his hands and said, “I have already competed and had no pleasure in it. I want to play a song for Miss Guo now. It’s a new song, if you’re interested you can stay and listen if you don’t understand you’re welcome to leave.” And started playing the zither.

Guo Xiang was amazed and pleased. Somehow He Zudao composed this new song from the song she played earlier. Making it even more brilliant and interesting. The music was very mesmerizing.

The actual translation will have to wait for some time, or someone else already knows the translation. He/she is welcome to do that part.

At one point of this song, He Zudao mentioned a “she” in his lyrics, Guo Xiang thought, “The “she” in his song, could it be me? The music was very touching, moving and was filled with admiration and love.”

Realising that Guo Xiang blushed. Never in her life did she even hear such beautiful music.

Pan Tiangeng and others didn’t understand any of this. They don’t know that He Zudao was a rather arrogant man with a flair of a silly bookworm behavior.

After composing a new song he rushed over to play it for Guo Xiang. Furthermore, he composed it for her and he forgot everything else. But seeing him like this, Pan and the others thought he was looking down upon them and couldn’t restrain their anger anymore.

Pan pointed the sword at He Zudaos’ shoulder and yelled, “Stand up, I want to battle you.”

He Zudao was entirely into the music and thought himself to be a proud scholar who was roaming about to enjoy the scenery. He vaguely saw a very gentle young girl standing on a small island. No matter what stood in his way he had to reach her……

Suddenly he felt a pain in his shoulder and raised his head to see Pan Tiangeng pointing a sword against his shoulder and penetrating a bit of skin. He knew that if he didn’t fight Pan would surely wound him. However, he didn’t finish his song yet and felt that these Philistines were preventing him from finishing his song to Guo Xiang.

He Zudao drew the broken sword of Guo Xiang in his left hand and blocked Pan Tiangeng’s attacks and used his right hand to play the zither.

He Zudao displayed his special ability, one hand playing the zither and the other hand using a sword. He managed perfectly well with one hand playing the zither. He also used a puff of air to play another chord of the zither.

Pan Tiangeng attacked rapidly with a few violent techniques, He Zudao easily blocked them and his eyes were concentrated on the zither and was afraid his puff of air will disperse.

Pan Tiangeng became angrier and angrier, his sword techniques were becoming fiercer and fiercer, but still He Zudao easily warded them off.

Guo Xiang was listening to the music and didn’t pay any attention to the attacks of Pan Tiangeng. However, the sounds of the swords intersecting was disturbing the music. She softly clapped her hands and raised her eyebrows and said to Pan Tiangeng, “Your techniques are not in unison, are you not familiar with music? If you listen carefully the sounds of the swords won’t disrupt the music.”

Pan Tiangeng didn’t pay any attention to her and saw that the enemy was sitting on the ground and was concentrated on the zither. And still he wasn’t able to overcome He Zudao, Pan became very anxious and his stances changed to rapid attacks and the clatter of the sounds were becoming very dense. This sound was the total opposite of the gentle soft music. He Zudao raised his eyebrows and passed strength to his sword and the sword of Pan Tiangeng made ‘clank’ sound and broke into two halves. However, one of the chords of the zither broke as well. Pan Tiangeng looked very pale and didn’t say a word and left the pavilion. The three martial arts brother mounted their horses and quickly rode up the mountain.

Guo Xiang was a bit surprised to see that and said, “These three men were defeated, how come they’re still headed towards the Shaolin Monastery? Do they really want to fight to the end?”

She turned to He Zudao and saw him looking sad and was touching that broken chord and looked very unhappy. Guo Xiang thought, “Just a broken chord why so unhappy?” She picked up the zither and removed the broken chord and was tuning the zither again.

He Zudao sighed, “After all these years of training, I still cannot focus properly. I used force in my left hand breaking his sword but also breaking that chord.”

Now Guo Xiang understood and knew he was unhappy that his martial arts was still not perfect and smiled, “You want to fight with your left hand and play the zither with your right hand. This form of using your concentration of two matters is only known to three persons in the realm. You haven’t reached that level yet, why worry so much about it.”

He Zudao asked, “Who are these three people?” Guo Xiang said, “The first one is “The Old Imp” Zhou Botong, the second one is my father and the third one is Madame Yang, Xiao Longnü. Apart from these three people, even people with great martial arts like my grandfather the lord of the Peach Blossom Island, my mother and “the Condor Hero” Yang Guo are unable to that.”

He Zudao said, “It’s hard to believe that there are so many astonishing people in the realm. You must introduce me to them.”

Guo Xiang faintly said, “If you want to meet my father that is not difficult, as for the other two, I don’t even know where to look.” She saw He Zudao looking disappointed she said, “You’ve defeated “The Three Saints of Kunlun” which is a amazing thing. Why fret over such a small incident like a broken chord.”

He Zudao was shocked and asked, “The Three Saints of Kunlun? What are you talking about? And how did you know?”

Guo Xiang smiled, “Those three old men came from the western borders, they must be “The Three Saints of Kunlun.” They do have their unique abilities, but challenging Shaolin is a bit too arrogant…..”

She saw that He Zudao was looking very strangely and asked, “What’s so strange?”

He Zudao softly said, “The Three Saints of Kunlun, The Three Saints of Kunlun, He Zudao. That’s me.”

Guo Xiang was surprised and asked, “You’re “The Three Saints of Kunlun”? Where are the other two?”

He Zudao said, “The Three Saints of Kunlun” is one person, there were never three. I have established a small reputation in the western borders, and the local friends say that my chess, sword and zither skills are superb. Also they say I’m fit to be a saint in the zither, a saint if chess and a saint in swordsmanship. But I knew that the saint was not something that could easily be assumed. So I changed my name to He Zudao (‘not worth mentioning’). So when other people hear my name they won’t think I’m an arrogant, overbearing man.”

Guo Xiang smiled and clapped her hands, “Now I get it. I thought that “The Three Saints of Kunlun were three persons. But who were those three old men?”

He Zudao answered, “They? Those were Shaolin disciples.”

Guo Xiang was even more confused and said, “So they belong to Shaolin. Right, their martial arts were firm and strong. Indeed that red-faced man used “Damo” swordsmanship and the sickly-looking man used “WeiTuo” Demon-Subduing Sword techniques. But there were a lot of changes and alterations to them I couldn’t recognize them. Why did they come here?”

He Zudao said, “This is not without reason. Last year Spring, I was at Mount Kunlun, peak JingShen playing the zither. Suddenly I heard fighting noises and took a look and saw two men were struggling on the ground. Both were heavily injured but both were still wrestling with each other. I yelled at them to stop but they still continued and walked over to push them aside. When I did so, one of them fell down and died, the other was still breathing. I took him to my home and gave him some medicines, after half a day he was revived. But he was mortally wounded and no medicine could prolong his life anymore. Before he died he said his name was Yin Kexi…..”

Guo Xiang called out in surprise and asked, “Was the other man called Xiao Xiangzi? He was very tall and skinny and his face looked like a corpse, right?”

He Zudao was surprised and said, “Yes, how did you know?”

Guo Xiang said, “I saw them once, I never thought they two would fight each other to the death.”

He Zudao said, “That Yin Kexi said he did a life full wicked deeds, there was no use in feeling sorry for himself anymore. He said that he and Xiao Xiangzi went to the Shaolin Monastery and stole a manuscript, both of them were suspicious of each other. Both of them didn’t trust each other and were afraid if the other one learnt the manuscript he would kill the other one and keep the manuscript for himself. Both ate at the same table, slept in the same bed and didn’t leave the other out of sight. But, both were afraid that one would put in poison in the food or sneak up on him in the night and kill him. Both were extremely edgy and couldn’t eat or rest properly, also, they were afraid that Shaolin monks would catch up on them. So they went to the western borders and at Peak JingShen, both were extremely weary and knew if this continued both of them would be tired to death. So they fought it out there and then. According to Yin Kexi, Xiao Xiangzi’s martial arts was better than his and attacked first. Yin Kexi suffered a blow, but in the end, Yin Kexi gained the advantage. Then Yin realised that Xiao Xiangzi was heavily injured at Mount Hua and hadn’t recovered yet. If otherwise, they wouldn’t have made it to Mount Kunlun.”

After Guo Xiang heard this story she thought of the situation Yin Kexi and Xiao Xiangzi were in and became gloomy and sighed, “Just because of a manuscript, this isn’t worth it.”

He Zudao said, “After telling this, Yin Kexi was having difficulty breathing and begged me to go to the Shaolin Monastery and tell a monk called Jueyuan something about ‘the manuscript is in the oil’ (‘Jing Zai You Zhong’). I found this sentence very strange and didn’t understand what he meant with the manuscript in the oil. Just when I wanted to ask him what he meant, he fainted. I thought after he rested for awhile I will ask him again. But he never woke up again. I thought perhaps he hid the manuscript in an oilcloth, but I couldn’t find anything in their clothes. Anyway, I have been entrusted to deliver a message so I decided to carry this mission out. Furthermore, I’ve never been to China before so I decided to tour around for some time and ended up here.

Guo Xiang asked, “Why did you leave a note at Shaolin? And challenged the Shaolin monks?

He Zudao smiled and said, “This is has to do with those three old men earlier. They are the Shaolin disciples of the Western Shaolin Monastery. According to the people there, they belong to the same “Tian” generation as the TianMing abbot of this Shaolin. It seems that their patriarch had a disagreement with his martial arts brothers here and in a fury he left and founded the Western Shaolin Monastery. Originally, the martial arts of Shaolin came with Master Damo of India to China and from China to the western regions. Which wasn’t a strange thing. These three men heard of my reputation as “The Three Saints of Kunlun” and wanted to duel with me. On their way here, they kept boasting that Shaolin martial arts were unequalled in the realm, I was permitted to be a saint in chess and the zither but not in swordsmanship. So I had to be the two saints instead of three. And this happened before I met Yin Kexi so I thought I could finish two tasks in one go. I sent someone to notify those three old men to meet me at the Shaolin Monastery. Anyway, the three of them were travelling very fast and could catch up with me.”

Guo Xiang laughed, “I guessed entirely wrong. I wonder what those three old men will say when they reach the Shaolin Monastery.”

He Zudao said, “I don’t have any grudges against Shaolin so I left a note that I will come ten days later. I did this because I wanted those three old men to arrive at Shaolin and battle them. But now the duel is over, let us go to Shaolin together and after I delivered the message we will leave again.”

Guo Xiang frowned her eyebrows and said, “The rules of these monks are very strict, women may not enter.”

He Zudao said, “Pooh! What damn rules! We’re just going to enter and what are they going to do about it? Kill us?”

Guo Xiang is a rather meddlesome girl, but after meeting reverend Wuse she has no bad feelings towards Shaolin and shook her head and smiled, “I’ll wait for you outside, you just enter and deliver the message. There’s no need to create unnecessary trouble.”

He Zudao nodded and said, “Alright! I haven’t finished playing my song for you after delivering the message I’ll played once again for you.”