Alone in that small underground room and seeing the painting of her deceased mother made by her father's own hand; with a roller coaster of emotions Huang Rong thought, “I have never seen Mother. I wonder after I die, will I meet her? Was she really as beautiful as in the picture? Where is she right now? Is she in the sky above, in the earth below, or still in this room?”Chapter 19 – Great Waves and School of Sharks
(Translated by Foxs, edited by Eliza Bennet)
Not in his wildest dreams did Hong Qigong think the memorization contest would end up this way. Guo Jing could beat Ouyang Ke and make him roll around on the ground seventeen, eighteen times would be ten times more believable to him. He was so happy that he was not able to wipe the smile out of his mouth; so hearing Ouyang Ke he snapped, “What? You are not convinced?”
“What Brother Guo recited was a lot more than what was written on the book,” Ouyang Ke said, “He must have the Nine Yin Manual in his possession. Gathering up all my courage Junior would like to do a body search on him.”
“Island Master Huang had accepted his proposal,” Hong Qigong said, “What other business there is to discuss? Didn’t you hear what your uncle said before the tests?”
Ouyang Feng put on his angry eyes. “Do you think the man surnamed Ouyang will be easily deceived?” he said. He heard what his nephew just said, and was convinced that Guo Jing knew the Nine Yin Manual; he wanted very much to get the book for himself. Whether Huang Yaoshi accepted his marriage proposal or not became secondary to him.
Guo Jing took out his belt and opened up his clothes, saying, “Senior Ouyang, you can search me if you want to.” Immediately he took everything out of his pocket and placed them on top of a big rock nearby: silver coins, handkerchief, flint, and the like.
“Humph!” Ouyang Feng snorted, and began searching Guo Jing’s body. Huang Yaoshi had known Ouyang Feng for a long time as a ruthless man; he would do unpredictable things when angry. Plus his strength was profound; so if he put forth a violent hand nobody would be able to rescue Guo Jing. Huang Yaoshi coughed and stretched out his left hand and placed it on Ouyang Ke’s neck just about on his spine; it was a vital point. Whenever Huang Yaoshi would put some force on it, Ouyang Ke’s spine would break and Ouyang Feng could give up any idea of saving him.
Hong Qigong knew his intention very well, secretly he was fascinated, “Old Heretic Huang is really one-sided. Now that he favored his daughter and future son-in-law he wanted to protect this dumb disciple of mine. Ay! He is capable of reciting the whole book, so I can’t call him dumb anymore.”
Originally Ouyang Feng was going to strike Guo Jing’s lower abdomen with his Toad Stance energy, let him suffer for three years before he would finally die; but seeing that Huang Yaoshi had guard against his scheme he did not dare to strike. He searched Guo Jing’s body without any result. All he could do was stay silent for half a day, thinking really hard. He did not believe all this nonsense about Madame Huang’s spirit choosing her son-in-law. He recalled this kid was dumb and slow, apparently he could not lie. Perhaps he could coerce the whereabouts of the Manual from his mouth. He shook the staff in his hand; with a clanking noise two weird looking snakes slithered up the length of the staff.
Huang Rong and Guo Jing saw these strange animals, they were scared and moved one step back. Pointing to Guo Jing’s throat, he asked, “Guo Xianzhi, where did you learn this Nine Yin Manual from?” His eyes were blazing red; looking at Guo Jing with a penetrating gaze.
“I knew about the Nine Yin Manual, but I have never seen it,” Guo Jing said. “The first volume is in the hand of Zhou Botong, Big Brother Zhou …”
“Why did you call Zhou Botong ‘Big Brother Zhou’?” Hong Qigong asked, “Have you met the Old Urchin Zhou Botong?”
“Yes,” Guo Jing replied, “Big Brother Zhou and your disciple have become sworn brothers.”
“One old the other young,” Hong Qigong mocked, “Really preposterous!”
“What about the second volume?” Ouyang Feng asked.
“The second volume was in Mei Chaofeng … Mei … Mei Shijie’s hand, but it was lost in Lake Tai,” Guo Jing explained. “Right now she is under Father-in-law order to search for it everywhere. Disciple was thinking that after everything here is done, I will go and lending her a helping hand.”
Ouyang Feng fiercely asked, “You have not seen the Nine Yin Manual, then how can you recite it so well?”
Guo Jing was puzzled. “Did I recite the Nine Yin Manual?” he asked, “That can’t be. It was the text Big Brother Zhou taught me; he said it was his own secret martial art creation.”
Huang Yaoshi inwardly sighed; he was dismayed and he thought, “Zhou Botong had received his late martial brother’s order to guard the Nine Yin Manual. He played some marbles and lost to me; I tricked him and in the end he burned the book to ashes. Before that he had not looked at the content of the book at all; that was not a bit strange. But now there seemed to be a divine intervention; everything happened so coincidentally that my daughter ended up betrothed to him. Isn’t he so lucky?”
Huang Yaoshi was still deep in thought, Ouyang Feng pressed on, “Where is that Zhou Botong now?” he asked.
Guo Jing was about to answer, but Huang Yaoshi cut him off, “Jing’er, no need to say more.” Turning his head to Ouyang Feng he said, “It is such a trivial matter, why do you care so much? Feng Xiong, Qi Xiong, we have not seen each other for 20 years. Let us spend three days in the Peach Blossom Island, drinking to our hearts’ content.”
“Shifu, I am going to prepare some food for you,” Huang Rong said, “Here on the island the lotus is superb; how about some chicken steamed in lotus petals, or some fresh water chestnut and lotus leaf soup? I am sure you’ll like it.”
Hong Qigong smiled widely, “Now that you’ve gotten what your heart’s desired, look how happy you are!”
Huang Rong just gave him a faint smile. “Shifu, Uncle Ouyang, Brother Ouyang, please,” she said. She was extremely happy to be betrothed to Guo Jing so that her animosity toward Ouyang Ke had vanished into the thin air. This very moment to her everybody in the whole wide world was a good person.
Ouyang Feng raised his hands in greeting to Huang Yaoshi, “Yao Xiong, I must decline your great hospitality. Many thanks. Let us part today.”
“Feng Xiong had come from a long way away,” Huang Yaoshi replied, “Brother has not fulfill my responsibility as a good host; how can I let you leave?”
From thousands of miles away Ouyang Feng had come, not only for his nephew’s sake, but for another grand scheme as well. He received his nephew’s pigeon-carried letter which said that the Nine Yin Manual had reappeared and was in the hands of Huang Yaoshi’s renegade blind female disciple. After the marriage he would join forces with Huang Yaoshi and obtain the Nine Yin Manual. But now the marriage proposal failed, his nephew lost the competition; he was really dejected, so he insisted on leaving.
“Uncle!” suddenly Ouyang Ke said, “Your nephew is useless, I have made you lost your face. But Uncle Huang had promised that he would teach Nephew some skills.”
“Humph!” Ouyang Feng muttered. He was aware his nephew had not given up hope on this Huang family’s girl; so he found some excuse by learning something to stay longer, to be close to Huang Rong, to try to win her heart; who knows she would eventually fall into his hands?
Huang Yaoshi was upset. He erroneously thought that Ouyang Ke would win the three tests; therefore, he made that promise to reward Guo Jing. But unexpectedly it was Ouyang Ke who failed the tests. Apologetically he said, “Ouyang Xianzhi, your uncle’s martial art is unparalleled in the world; others cannot hold a candle against him. You have mastered your own family heritage skills, what need do you have to learn somebody else’s skill? This old dog was lucky to master some ‘zuo dao pang men’ [lit. left-handed way, side door; means ‘second rate’ or ‘not the ultimate’] techniques. If Xianzhi does not think it too superficial, then whichever skill you like to learn, this old dog will be happy to teach you.”
Ouyang Ke thought, “I must choose the one needed the longest time to master. I have long heard about the Peach Blossom Island’s ‘wu xing qi men’ to be number one in the world. I am sure it won’t be finished in a day.” Thereupon he bowed and said, “Young Nephew admired your ‘wu xing qi men’ techniques so much. I am asking Uncle to kindly bestow that to me.”
Huang Yaoshi did not answer immediately; he hesitated, feeling awkward in his heart. The technique requested was the one he was most proud about. Apart from it being complicated to begin with, he had expanded and developed new interpretation and variation to the original technique he learned from his ancestors. His own daughter – due to her young age, had not learned this technique; how could he pass this knowledge to a total stranger? But he had given his promise; it was impossible to take it back, so reluctantly he asked, “The ‘wu xing qi men’ technique is very broad and deep. Which one do you want to learn?”
Ouyang Ke wanted to stay at the Peach Blossom Island as long as possible, so he requested, “Young Nephew saw the winding pathways of the Peach Blossom Island; the vegetation arrangement is complicated. My heart admires this arrangement to no end. I am asking Uncle to allow young nephew to stay in the island for several months and study the mystery of this complicated pathways and its variations thoroughly.”
Huang Yaoshi’s face changed slightly, he cast a glance toward Ouyang Feng. He thought, “So you want to investigate and find out the Peach Blossom Island’s ingenious arrangement. What is your real intention?”
Ouyang Feng saw his expression, he could guess what was in his heart, so he chided his nephew, “You don’t know how high the heaven is nor how deep the earth is! Uncle Huang had spent half of his life painstakingly arranging the island. It is his defense against the intruders; how could he divulge this mystery to you?”
Huang Yaoshi coldly laughed, “Peach Blossom Island is only a barren and rocky hill; yet I doubt it if anybody could come and harm me.”
Ouyang Feng smiled apologetically, “Little Brother crudely made an indiscreet remark, Yao Xiong please don’t be offended.”
Hong Qigong laughed, “Old Poison! You are very sly; you have planned this from the start. Very brilliant!” he mocked.
Huang Yaoshi slipped the jade flute into his belt and said, “Everybody please follow me.”
Ouyang Ke saw the indignation on his face; he looked at his uncle for guidance. Ouyang Feng nodded his head and started to walk behind Huang Yaoshi. Everybody followed not too far behind.
Winding through the bamboo grove they arrived at a big lotus pond. The lotuses were white, emanating a fragrant scent. The pond surface was full of lotus leaves. There was a strip of dike made of small stones winding through the center of the pond. Huang Yaoshi walked through the dike, taking everybody to a building on the other side of the pond. The building was made from logs of pine tree. A rattan tree was climbing the outside wall. It was midsummer, the weather was hot, but as soon as they saw that building everybody felt a burst of cool air. Huang Yaoshi took four people and entered his study. A deaf and mute servant immediately came serving tea. The tea was dark green, cold as snow. As soon as it entered their mouth the cold seeped to their bones.
Hong Qigong laughed and made a comment, “People say: after being a beggar for three years one would not willing to be a government official. Yao Xiong, if I stay in your cool place for three years, I won’t be willing to be a beggar anymore!”
“If Qi Xiong is willing to stay to drink and talk to our hearts’ content, that is truly my wish come true,” Huang Yaoshi said.
Hong Qigong could hear the sincerity in his voice; his heart was touched. “Many thanks,” he said, “It’s a pity the Old Beggar leads a busy and laborious life; I don’t have the luxury to enjoy a peaceful life like Yao Xiong.”
Ouyang Feng said, “The two of you living together in the same place, as long as you don’t fight each other I bet within two months you will have created several sets of fist techniques or sword stances.”
Hong Qigong laughed, “Are you jealous?”
“This room is a big hall to study martial arts,” Ouyang Feng explained, “Naturally I came to that conclusion.”
Hong Qigong laughed, “Ha … ha …! Another one of those ‘what-you-said-is-not-what-you-were-thinking’ speech.”
Although these two men did not hold a deep animosity between them, their minds were usually a world apart and that was why they did not like each other. Only Ouyang Feng’s feeling was hidden behind a thick wall, unlike Hong Qigong who was open and outspoken. This time Ouyang Feng heard Hong Qigong’s comment he wanted to send Hong Qigong to the grave with one strike; but his face did not change. He laughed but did not say anything.
Huang Yaoshi pressed something on the side of the table and a landscape painting on the west wall slowly went up, revealing a secret compartment behind it. He walked toward the wall, opened up the door to the compartment and took out a roll of paper. Gently he ran his fingers on the scroll several times before he faced Ouyang Ke and said, “This is the map of the Peach Blossom Island, complete with all the five ways variations and yin and yang elements and the eight-diagram changes; everything. Take this and study thoroughly.”
Ouyang Ke was disappointed; he was hoping he could stay on the Peach Blossom Island for a while. He did not expect Huang Yaoshi only gave him a chart to look at. He knew it was a difficult topic to learn; but he did not have any choice but bowed respectfully and step forward to take the scroll from his hand.
“Hold on!” Huang Yaoshi suddenly said. Ouyang Ke was startled, he pulled his hands back. “After taking this drawing, I want you to go to Lin An and find an inn or a temple to stay. After three months I am going to send someone to retrieve it. Everything on the chart you can memorize, but I forbid you to make any copies,” Huang Yaoshi continued.
Ouyang Ke thought, “You won’t allow me to stay on the Peach Blossom Island; I don’t care much about your weird skill anyway. In the next three months I will be responsible for this chart. If not careful I might lose or damage this chart; then what would I do? No, I’d better not take it!” He was going to say some nice words to decline when suddenly another thought came into his mind, “He said he is going to send someone to retrieve it; that someone must be his daughter. This is a great opportunity to get intimate with her.” He was delighted with this thought and immediately held out his hands to receive the scroll while uttering some grateful words.
Huang Rong took out the small box of dragon pill and gave it back to Ouyang Feng. “Uncle Ouyang,” she said, “This is your poison antidote pill; your niece does not dare to accept it.”
Ouyang Feng thought, “If this thing falls into the Old Heretic Huang’s hands; he would be impervious to my poisons. Although to take it back again seemed so petty, I can’t afford to let him have it.” Therefore, he held out his hand to take the pill and immediately raised his hands to say goodbye to Huang Yaoshi.
Huang Yaoshi did not hold him back; he sent them away. Walking to the door Hong Qigong said, “Du Xiong [poison brother], the end of next year will be our Sword Meet on Mount Hua. You have to conserve your energy well since we are going to have a very tight competition.”
Ouyang Feng simply smiled casually, “The way I see it we don’t need to waste our energy to fight. The title ‘the world’s number one martial artist’ has been decided early on.”
Hong Qigong was taken aback, “Has been decided? Could it be that Du Xiong has mastered a matchless unique skill?”
Ouyang Feng showed a faint smile, “With a mediocre skill, how would Ouyang Feng dare to covet the title ‘the world’s number one martial artist’? I am talking about the person who taught this Guo Xianzhi.”
Hong Qigong laughed, “Are you talking about the Old Beggar?” he said, “I’d like that, but Yao Xiong’s martial art has improved daily. For you, Du Xiong, advancing years also mean advancing skill. I am afraid Emperor Duan’s martial art skill is not getting lower either. I don’t think the Old Beggar will have any advantage.”
Ouyang Feng coldly said, “Among the people who taught Guo Xianzhi, not necessarily Qi Xiong’s martial art is the finest.”
“What?” Hong Qigong barely closed his mouth when Huang Yaoshi interrupted, “Uh, are you talking about the Old Urchin Zhou Botong?”
“That’s right!” Ouyang Feng replied, “Since the Old Urchin had mastered the Nine Yin Manual, then all of us: the Eastern Heretic, Western Poison, Southern Emperor and Northern Beggar, are not his match anymore.”
“That is not necessarily true,” Huang Yaoshi said, “Manual is dead, but martial art is alive.”
Ouyang Feng noticed earlier that Huang Yaoshi had diverted his question; he did not let Guo Jing tell them Zhou Botong’s whereabouts; he knew something was amiss; so he decided to mention it again just before he leave. Hearing Huang Yaoshi said that he knew his suspicion was not unsubstantiated; but he was crafty, so his face did not show any changes. Nonchalantly he said, “We all know the quality of Quan Zhen Sect’s martial art; we even need to ask for their advice. Now the Old Urchin has added the skill of the Nine Yin Manual to that; even if Wang Chongyang were alive, I doubt he would be his match; not to mention us. Ay! Quan Zhen is really good; even if the three of us work hard for a lifetime, we are still a notch below them.”
“The Old Urchin’s martial art is a lot better than mine,” Huang Yaoshi said, “But has not reached Feng Xiong and Qi Xiong’s level. I know this for a fact.”
“Yao Xiong do not need to be modest,” Ouyang Feng said, “You and I are ‘ban jin ba liang’ [lit. half a ‘jin’ eight ‘liang’ – comparable, equal]. You have said so yourself; that Zhou Botong’s martial art is not as good as yours. However, I am afraid …” He shook his head.
“Feng Xiong will find out next year at the Sword Meet of Mount Hua,” Huang Yaoshi smiled.
Ouyang Feng was serious, “Yao Xiong, I usually respect your martial art, but I doubt it when you said you can defeat the Old Urchin. I think with him, you’d better watch out.”
It was not that Huang Yaoshi did not know that he was being provoked, but he was a proud man; of course he did not want anybody belittle him. So with indignation he said, “The Old Urchin is actually on the Peach Blossom Island. Brother has imprisoned him for fifteen years.”
Ouyang Feng and Hong Qigong were dumbstruck. Hong Qigong simply raised his eyebrows, but Ouyang Feng actually broke up in laughter, “Yao Xiong, that was a very good joke!”
Huang Yaoshi did not say anything; he pointed his finger as if showing the way, then he exerted his strength to his feet, and flew back to the bamboo groove. Hong Qigong followed along, his left hand holding Guo Jing, his right hand Huang Rong. Ouyang Feng also pulled Ouyang Ke’s arm; together they used their lightness kungfu and not too long afterward arrived in front of Zhou Botong’s cave.
When they were still quite a distance away Huang Yaoshi had noticed that the cave was empty. “Ah!” he uttered his surprise. With a body as light as a feather he leaped up to the sky; and several jumps later he had already arrived at the cave’s mouth. His left foot landed first, only to feel he stepped on an empty space. Suddenly meeting an accident he did not panic; he kicked his right foot to the air and jumped vertically up. Again he landed his left foot gently, but again he felt he was stepping on an empty air. This time he was not able to use anything as a stepping stone, so with the back of his hand he pulled the jade flute from his belt and in one fluid motion struck the flute to the cave wall. With one push his body flew out of the cave like a flying arrow.
That vertical leap, pulling out the jade flute and flying backward outside the cave were done in a flash. Hong Qigong and Ouyang Feng saw his wonderful skill and they cheered; only to hear a “Splotch!” sound. Huang Yaoshi’s both feet fell into a hole on the ground outside the cave.
Huang Yaoshi felt his feet were stepping on something wet and soft. With a light kick once again his body flew up. While he was still on the air he saw Hong Qigong and the rest had arrived and they did not fall into any trap, so he landed gently on his daughter’s side. Suddenly a stinky stench attacked his nostrils; he looked down and to his dismay he saw his feet were covered with dung.
Everybody was puzzled; with his high level of martial art skill, plus his intelligence, how could Huang Yaoshi fall into somebody else’s trap?
Huang Yaoshi was furious; he took a tree branch to test the ground, poking to the east and striking to the west. To his surprise, only those three holes were there, the rest was just solid ground.
Obviously Zhou Botong had expected him to come rushing into the cave, so he prepared the first hole. He had carefully calculated that with his level of lightness kungfu Huang Yaoshi would leap vertically up to avoid falling into this hole; therefore, he prepared the second hole. Again, he knew that this second hole would not trap Huang Yaoshi. So he cleverly placed the third hole, knowing Huang Yaoshi would leap backward, outside the cave; and filled this hole with dung.
Huang Yaoshi carefully entered the cave, looked to all directions and saw nothing inside the cave except some clay jars and clay bowls. He vaguely saw several lines of characters written on the cave wall.
Seeing Huang Yaoshi fell into a trap Ouyang Feng laughed in his heart. But now he saw Huang Yaoshi walk toward cave wall to take a look; he thought there was a slight possibility that the Nine Yin Manual was written on that wall; so he threw any cautions to the wind and hurriedly went forward to take a closer look. What he saw was several characters carved with a needle which read, “Old Heretic Huang, you have broken both of my legs and imprisoned me for fifteen years inside this cave. I should have broken both of your legs to vent my anger. But after some thoughts I decided to let it pass. I give you this pile of dung and a pot of stinky urine instead. Please, please …” The characters below those ‘please’ words were covered with a leaf.
Huang Yaoshi casually stretched his hand to lift the leaf up, but the leaf was tied with a string. Without thinking he pulled the string only to hear some knocking noise above him. Realizing what had happened Huang Yaoshi quickly jumped to the left. Right next to him Ouyang Feng was also quick, seeing that Huang Yaoshi moved, he also jumped to the right. Who would have thought that a series of clanking noise was heard; a whole bunch of clay jars fell down from both sides of the cave wall. Both men were drenched in smelly urine!
Hong Qigong burst in laughter, “How sweet! How sweet!” he shouted. Huang Yaoshi was fuming mad, shouting some cursing words. Ouyang Feng was very good at concealing his feelings; he merely smiled.
Huang Rong dashed back to the house, taking some change of clothes for his father. She also brought his father’s robe for Ouyang Feng.
Huang Yaoshi decided to take a look inside the cave one more time, careful not to trip on any more booby-trap. He took out the leaf and saw two lines of very fine characters, “… don’t pull the leaf. There is smelly urine above to drench you up. Absolutely, 100%! Don’t ever say that I haven’t warned you.”
Huang Yaoshi was angry, but also amused. Suddenly he remembered that the urine was still a little bit warm; he turned his body and walked out the cave. “The Old Urchin has not left too long ago; we can still catch up with him.”
Guo Jing was wary, “As soon as these two see each other they will certainly engage in a fierce battle,” he thought. But before he had any chance to voice his opinion Huang Yaoshi had already flown to the east.
Everybody knew the pathways of the island were mysterious, nobody dared to be left behind, so they closely followed along. Not too far ahead they could see Zhou Botong was strolling leisurely. Huang Yaoshi exerted his strength to his feet and flew like an arrow leaving its bow; in a flash he had approached Zhou Botong. He stretched out his hand to grab Zhou Botong’s neck.
Zhou Botong evaded to the left. Turning his body around he called out, “Wow! It’s the sweet smelling Old Heretic Huang!”
In this one grab Huang Yaoshi had used the skill he painstakingly trained for decades; it was swift and fierce. He was mad because of the urine and dung, so he had used 100% of his strength in that one attack. Who would have thought that Zhou Botong was able to evade his attack casually, like he did not made too much effort at all. Huang Yaoshi’s heart turned cold; he stopped his attack. He calmed himself down and looked at Zhou Botong. To his surprise Zhou Botong’s hands were tied in front of his chest; but he was smiling happily, his face showed contentment.
Guo Jing rushed forward and said, “Big Brother, Island Master Huang has become my father-in-law; now we belong to the same family.”
Zhou Botong sighed, “What Father-in-law? Why didn’t you listen to me? Old Heretic Huang is wicked and weird; how can his daughter any better? You will suffer the consequences for the rest of your life. Good Brother, let me tell you this: No matter what happened, you cannot take the daughter of someone who loves to drench himself in urine everyday as your wife. It’s a good thing you haven’t bowed to the heaven and the earth to marry her; you can still slip away. Quickly you run away as far as you can, otherwise she’ll come looking for you …”
He was still babbling endlessly when Huang Rong stepped forward and smiled, “Big Brother Zhou, look who’s coming behind you?”
Zhou Botong turned his head, but of course he did not see anyone. Huang Rong raised the smelly change of clothes from his father and threw it toward his back. Zhou Botong heard the swishing sound and stepped sideways; “Splat!” that bundle of clothes fell to the ground dispersing a foul odor everywhere.
Zhou Botong doubled with laughter. “Old Heretic Huang,” he said, “You have imprisoned me for fifteen years and broken both of my legs; yet I only let you to step on my dung and drenched you with my urine. Don’t you think that was a fair deal?”
Huang Yaoshi pondered about it for a moment and felt Zhou Botong was right; so he did not give it another thought. “Why do you tie up your hands like that?” he asked.
“I have my reasons, which I can’t tell you,” Zhou Botong said, repeatedly shaking his head. He looked so solemn.
Actually when Zhou Botong was forced to endure suffering in that hole, several times he had a thought to come out and fight Huang Yaoshi. However, he realized that he was still not Huang Yaoshi’s match. Besides, if he got killed or heavily injured; who would defend the Nine Yin Manual entrusted to him by his martial brother? Therefore, he had to swallow his pride and endured everything patiently. Then Guo Jing came into the scene. Together they played four-hand mutual combat until one day he had an idea to fight as two Zhou Botongs against one Huang Yaoshi. He was confident that no matter how high Huang Yaoshi’s skill was, he would be able to exact a revenge for his fifteen years of suffering.
After Guo Jing left he sat on the ground, and all kinds of memories came flooding back to his mind: dozens of years of gratitude, grudges, love and hate; he felt like a thick curtain was covering up his mind. Suddenly he heard from a distant the flute, zither, and whistle sounds battling each other. His spirit was stirred; he became agitated; wanted to dash out, and was having difficulty controlling his own emotion. He had been pondering his own question for a while, “My little brother’s martial art is still far below mine, but why is it that the Old Heretic Huang’s flute sound did not affect him one bit?” But after he befriended Guo Jing for many days he started to understand Guo Jing’s personality. That day, after thinking deeply for a moment it suddenly dawned on him; “That’s right! That’s right!” he exclaimed, “He is young, does not understand the complexity of man-woman relationship; does not know its pleasure and heartache. Moreover, he is simple-minded, not ambitious; he has a naïve personality and a pure heart. I, on the other hand, am old; but why do I still thinking about revenge? I am so narrow-minded. It is ridiculous, really!”
Although belonged to Quan Zhen Sect, he had never become a Taoist Priest; still, the Taoist principles were deeply ingrained in his heart: ‘qing jing wu wei’ [peace and tranquility, no action - pacifism], lead a simple life and suppress ambition, all those Taoist teachings. It was like a light bulb suddenly turned on in his head. He let out a long breath, stood up and walked outside the cave. For the first time in so many years he realized that the sky was so blue, the clouds so white. His heart was clear and bright. The sufferings he experienced caused by Huang Yaoshi in the past 15 years simply became a small matter in his mind.
Once outside he thought aloud, “Once I leave the Peach Blossom Island I am not coming back. If I don’t leave some souvenirs for the Old Heretic Huang, how would he remember me in the days to come?” Hence with much eagerness he dug some holes and filled them with his dung and found some jars and filled them with his urine. After working hard for half a day he finally left the cave.
He only walked for several steps when suddenly remembered something, “The pathways of the Peach Blossom Island is strange, how would I know the right path to take? If I leave Brother Guo on this island, chances are more harm would come his way than not; I must take him with me. If the Old Heretic Huang tried to stop, ha … ha …, if the Old Heretic Huang wanted to fight, one Old Heretic Huang won’t be a match for two Old Urchins!” After thinking that he casually swung his hand and ‘Crack!’ a small tree by the pathway was broken in two. He was stunned! “How come I am so strong? This has nothing to do with the mutual hands combat technique.”
He swung his hand several more times and ‘Crack! Crack! Crack!’ without too much effort he had broken seven, eight small trees along the way. He was horrified. “This … this is the energy cultivation from the Nine Yin Manual. I … I … when did I learn this?” All of a sudden his body was drenched in cold sweats. “Strange, really strange!” he muttered.
Clearly he remembered his late martial brother’s death wish; that no one from Quan Zhen allowed to learn anything from the manual. Who would have thought that in order to teach Guo Jing he had to recite the text everyday, his hands moved to give a clearer explanation; unexpectedly the manual was ingrained in his mind. Even in his sleep he would dream about the manual; so unconsciously he cultivated his energy based on the text. Basically his martial art was already high; his understanding of martial arts theory was also profound, plus the Nine Yin Manual was created based on Taoist principle, which he had already learned all his life. Unwittingly the manual was interlinked with his own basic knowledge. He did not want to learn the martial art, but it was the martial art which came to him.
He vented off his frustration by shouting loudly, “Bad! It’s really bad! This is called once the ghost inhabits your body, you cannot drive it out. I wanted to play a big joke on Brother Guo; who knew that by smashing a big rock the debris hurts your own foot.”
He was depressed for half a day and kept knocking his own head. Afterward an idea came to his mind; he peeled off some tree bark and made a rope; then with his teeth he tied his own hands; muttering loudly, “From now on, if I cannot forget the manual completely, I must not resort to violence toward anybody. Even if the Old Heretic Huang chases me, I cannot fight him; so that I won’t disobey my martial brother’s death wish. Ay, Old Urchin, Old Urchin, you reap what you sow!”
Of course Huang Yaoshi could not guess the reason, he only knew the Old Urchin was naughty and weird, so he simply said, “Old Urchin, this is Brother Ouyang, which I believe you have met, this is …” Before he could finished, Zhou Botong had walked around them all, sniffing here and there; and then he laughed, “This must be the Old Beggar Hong Qigong. I know. He is a good man. Heaven’s nets do not miss; my stinky urine only drenched two people, the Eastern Heretic and Western Poison. Ouyang Feng, that time you fought with me, this time I soaked you with my urine; we are even now; nobody suffers any loss.”
Ouyang Feng merely smiled but did not say anything. He came close to Huang Yaoshi and whispered in his ear, “Yao Xiong, this man’s martial art is amazing; he’s already surpassed both you and me. I think it best not to provoke him.”
Huang Yaoshi thought, “We haven’t seen each other for twenty years, how would you know my martial art is inferior to his?” To Zhou Botong he said, “Botong, I have asked you over and over, I want burn the Nine Yin Manual as a sacrifice in front of my late wife’s memorial. As soon as you hand it down to me, I am going to let you go. Where do you think you are going now?”
“I am tired of living on this island,” Zhou Botong said, “I am going outside to take a stroll.”
“Then where is the manual?” Huang Yaoshi held out his hand.
“I have given that to you earlier,” Zhou Botong said.
“Don’t talk nonsense,” Huang Yaoshi said, “When did you give that to me?”
Zhou Botong smiled, “Guo Jing is your son-in-law, is he not? Then he belongs to you, does he not? I have passed on the Nine Yin Manual from top to bottom to him; isn’t that the same as giving the manual to you?”
Guo Jing was surprised, panicky he called out, “Big Brother, this … this … you taught me the Nine Yin Manual?”
Zhou Botong burst out in laughter, “So you think it was a fake?”
Guo Jing was dumbstruck, he looked like a fool. Zhou Botong was so happy. It was exactly for this moment that he was willing to spend innumerable effort to get Guo Jing memorizing the Nine Yin Manual; he wanted to see Guo Jing’s expression when he found out that he did learn the Nine Yin Manual in spite of his refusal. Now that his goal was achieved, how could Zhou Botong be not happy as he was crazy?
“The first volume is always in your hands, but where did you get the second volume from?” Huang Yaoshi asked.
“Didn’t your good son-in-law deliver it personally to me?” Zhou Botong smiled mischievously.
“I … I did not!” Guo Jing was taken aback.
Huang Yaoshi was really indignant, he thought, “This kid Guo Jing dares to deceive me; that poor blind Mei Chaofeng is still desperately looking for that book.” He shot an angry glare toward Guo Jing, but then turned his head toward Zhou Botong, “I want the original manual.”
“Brother,” Zhou Botong called Guo Jing, “Help me take the book from my pocket.” Guo Jing stepped forward and groping inside Zhou Botong’s pocket he took a book about half an inch thick. Zhou Botong held out his hand to receive the book, and said to Huang Yaoshi, “This is the first volume manual, the second volume is folded inside it. If you have a skill, come and get it.”
“What kind of skill are you talking about?” Huang Yaoshi asked.
Zhou Botong held the book tight in his hands, he leaned his head and said “Wait, let me think …” Half a day later he smiled and said, “Pasting skill!”
“What?” Huang Yaoshi was puzzled.
Zhou Botong lifted up his hands high in the air, and soon the book turned into a million pieces. A flurry of paper pieces flew from his hands like a flock of butterflies flying in all direction, carried by the sea breeze, floating to the east and scattered to the west. It was impossible to track them down.
Huang Yaoshi was startled and angry at the same time; surprised that Zhou’s internal energy was so profound. In that short period of time the book has completely gone. Remembering his late wife Huang Yaoshi felt a stab of pain in his heart. “Old Urchin, you played trick on me! Don’t ever think of leaving this island alive!” he shouted angrily. Flying forward his palm got very close to Zhou Botong’s face.
Zhou Botong moved his body a little bit, like a pendulum he swung to the left and to the right. With a swish, swish sound Huang Yaoshi’s palms danced in the air, very close to Zhou Botong’s body, but were not able to touch him at all. It was Huang Yaoshi’s specialty, the ‘luo ying shen jian zhang’ [fallen (flower) divine sword palm]; who would have thought that after about twenty stances the palm technique was useless against Zhou Botong.
Huang Yaoshi was puzzled because Zhou Botong did not launch any counterattack at all; while he had used all his strength to compel Zhou Botong to withstand his attack. Suddenly he was alarmed, “I, Huang Yaoshi, how could I fight someone who has both his hands tied up like that?”
Leaping back three steps he called out, “Old Urchin, your legs are healed; I have done something inappropriate to you. Quickly break the rope on your hands, let me fight your Nine Yin Manual martial art.”
Zhou Botong looked dismayed, repeatedly he shook his head, “I don’t want to lie to you, but I have my own difficulty. This rope in my hand, whatever happens I can’t take it out.”
“Then let me take it out for you,” Huang Yaoshi said, immediately move forward to touch his hands.
“Aiyo! Help! Somebody help me!” Zhou Botong cried out and rolled around on the ground.
Guo Jing was shocked. “Father-in-law!” he called out. He was about to dash forward to block Huang Yaoshi when Hong Qigong held him back. “Don’t act foolishly!” he hissed. Guo Jing halted and looked. Zhou Botong was rolling around on the ground; he was very agile. Huang Yaoshi grabbed and kicked but was unable to even touch his body.
“Look closely to how his body moves,” Hong Qigong whispered.
Only then did Guo Jing realize that Zhou Botong was moving according to the ‘she xing li fan’ [snake slithers, wild cat flips] from the Nine Yin Manual. He watched with a rapt attention. Every time he saw an exquisite move he would cheer, “Good!”
Huang Yaoshi was getting angrier; his hands flew everywhere, resembling a hatchet or a knife hacking all over the place. Zhou Botong’s long sleeve and part of his robe have been cut by the strength of Huang Yaoshi’s hand. A moment later his long beard and long hair were also cut. Although he was not injured, Zhou Botong knew that if the fight was prolonged he might not be as lucky. Perhaps half a move later he would be dead or at least heavily injured.
At that moment Huang Yaoshi’s left hand was sweeping horizontally, while his right hand slashing down diagonally; each palm contained three deathly variations within. Zhou Botong knew that no matter how quick he could move, it would be difficult to avoid this attack. He had no other choice but exerting his strength to both hands breaking the rope. As soon as his hands were free, his left hand parried the attack, while his right hand went to his own back and scratched, “Aiyo! The itch is unbearable,” he said.
Huang Yaoshi was secretly alarmed when he saw Zhou Botong could act so casually, even to the point of playful, while they were fighting ferociously. Huang Yaoshi sent out three more fierce stances, all three were his best ones.
“With one hand I can’t fight you,” Zhou Botong said, “Ay! But I can’t help it. No matter what, I can’t let my martial brother down.” He put all his strength in his right hand and parried the attack; while his left hand hung loosely on his side. His strength was still inferior to Huang Yaoshi’s pure internal energy; so as soon as two hands collided Zhou Botong was shaken; he staggered and pushed a few steps back.
Huang Yaoshi flew forward with both palms surrounding Zhou Botong’s body. “Use both your hands! With one hand you are not my match,” he called out.
“I can’t,” said Zhou Botong, “I have to use only one hand.”
Huang Yaoshi was indignant, “All right then, try this!” Both of his palms struck forward with full strength. A loud bang was heard and Zhou Botong fell down to the ground. He sat still with both his eyes closed. Huang Yaoshi held his hands, only to see Zhou Botong coughed and spurted blood from his mouth; his face was paper-white.
Everybody felt strange; if he really fought with Huang Yaoshi, even if he couldn’t win, certainly he wouldn’t suffer so badly. Why did he insist on using only one hand?
Zhou Botong stood up slowly and said, “The Old Urchin has suffered the consequences of his own action. I had no intention, but had unexpectedly learned the martial arts from the Nine Yin Manual; hence violated my martial brother’s death wish. If I used both of my hands, Old Heretic Huang, you are not my match.”
Huang Yaoshi was aware that what he said was the truth; he was silent. He realized he had no reason to imprison Zhou Botong for fifteen years on the island; he also had no reason to injure him just now. He took a jade box from his pocket, opened it and produced three blood-like scarlet pills; he gave the pills to Zhou Botong and said, “Botong, I am afraid there is no medicine under the heaven can surpass these Peach Blossom Island’s red pills. Take one right now, and then take the next two seven days apart; your internal injury won’t be a problem anymore. Let me take you out of this island.”
Zhou Botong nodded, took the medicines and swallowed one; circulating his breath for a while he vomited some contusion blood. He said, “Old Heretic Huang, your red pill is very effective; no wonder you are called ‘Yaoshi’ [master pharmacist]. Eek! Strange! Very strange! My name is ‘Botong’, I wonder what that means?” After pondering that question for half a day he shook his head and said, “Old Heretic Huang, I must go now. Are you or aren’t you going to let me go?”
“I do not dare,” Huang Yaoshi replied, “It’s up to you to stay or to go. Botong Xiong, after today if you ever have a desire to come here, I will welcome you wholeheartedly. Right now let me walk you to the boat which will take you back to the mainland.”
Guo Jing squatted down to pick Zhou Botong up and carried him on his back; then he followed Huang Yaoshi walked to the seashore. Arriving at the marina he saw about six, seven boats, big and small.
“Yao Xiong,” Ouyang Feng said, “You don’t need to send a boat to take Big Brother Zhou home. He can ride on Little Brother’s boat.”
“In that case do what Feng Xiong’s heart desires,” Huang Yaoshi said. He made a hand signal to a deaf and mute servant and that servant went into a big boat nearby. When he reappeared he had a tray full of gold coins.
“Botong,” Huang Yaoshi said, “Take this money and use it to play around. Your martial art is better than Old Heretic Huang’s. I admire you very much.”
Zhou Botong’s eyes shone with a mischievous look on his face. He looked toward Ouyang Feng’s big boat and saw a white flag on the bow. On the flag was embroidered a strange looking snake, with two heads and their mouth open wide showing fork tongues on it. He was not happy at all.
Ouyang Feng took a wooden whistle from his pocket, blew some notes; and before long there came a strange noise from the forest ahead. Two Peach Blossom Island’s servants led some White Camel Mountain’s snake shepherds came out from the forest, followed by row after row of snakes slithered on the plank and went into the boat’s hold.
“I am not riding on Western Poison’s boat!” Zhou Botong cried out, “I am scared of snakes!”
Huang Yaoshi smiled faintly, “That is all right too; you can ride on that boat.” He pointed to a boat nearby.
Zhou Botong shook his head, “No! I don’t want that boat, I want THAT big boat.”
Huang Yaoshi’s face changed a little bit. “Botong, that ship is broken, it is not fixed yet. You can’t have it.”
Everybody could see that the boat’s tail was tall; the hull was painted blue and gold, very beautiful. It looked new and strong, why did he say it was broken?
“Why can’t I ride on that boat?” Zhou Botong asked, “Old Heretic Huang, how come you are so stingy?”
“This is a most ill-fated boat, that’s why it is always anchored here,” Huang Yaoshi explained. “Since when am I stingy? If you don’t believe me, I’ll have the boat burned down for you to see.” Making some hand signals four deaf and mute servants lighted some torch and rushed to the boat to burn it down.
Suddenly Zhou Botong sat on the ground, flailing his hands and feet; pulling his hair and beard and bawling loudly. Seeing him acting like that everybody was startled. Guo Jing was the only one who knew his temper; he was fascinated. Zhou Botong pulled his beard and rolling around on the ground, “I want to ride the new boat, I want to ride the new boat.” Huang Rong quickly moved forward to stop the four servants.
Hong Qigong smiled, “Yao Xiong,” he said, “For all my life the Old Beggar has been ill-fated. Let me accompany the Old Urchin riding this ill-fated boat. We can use poison to combat poison. Let us see whether the Old Beggar’s unlucky aura wins, or your ill-fated boat prevails.”
“Qi Xiong, I thought you are going to stay on the island for several days,” Huang Yaoshi said, “Why such a hurry to leave?”
“The world’s big beggars, medium-sized beggars, and little beggars, within a few days will gather together at Yueyang, in Hunan province. They will look up to the Old Beggar to appoint a new leader. If the Old Beggar meets a calamity and has to return to heaven before first appointed a successor, who would lead the world’s beggars? Therefore, the Old Beggar has to go, whether he wants it or not. Your brother truly appreciates Yao Xiong’s generosity. Whenever your daughter and son-in-law get married, I will come back to disturb the wedding.”
Huang Yaoshi sighed, “Qi Xiong, you are truly an ardent man; you dedicate your life toiling for others, like a horse that never stops galloping everywhere.”
Hong Qigong laughed, “The Old Beggar never ride a horse; my feet can’t be compared to a horse’s hoof. Aiyo! Something’s wrong! You are indirectly scolding me, saying that my feet are hoofs, wouldn’t that mean you are saying I am a horse?”
Huang Rong laughed, “Shifu, you said it yourself, my father never scolded you.”
“Of course, Shifu will always inferior to father,” Hong Qigong said, “Just you watch, I am going to take a Mistress Old Beggar, then we will have a baby girl beggar for you to look after.”
Huang Rong clapped her hands, “That’s great! I will have a little beggar as my martial sister to play with. Won’t that be fun?”
Ouyang Ke stole a glance toward her; under the bright sunlight she looked so beautiful, her cheeks pink like a spring flower, colorful as rosy-colored clouds at dawn; he couldn’t help but feeling crazy for her. However, from her his thought went to Guo Jing. His pulse quickened, knowing she had her eyes only for Guo Jing, his anger rose, he swore in his heart, “There will come a day when I will kill this stinky kid.”
Hong Qigong held out his hand to help Zhou Botong, he said, “Botong, I will accompany you riding this new boat. Old Heretic Huang is so weird, we two boys better not mind him at all.”
Zhou Botong was delighted, “Old Beggar, you are a very kind man, what do you say we become sworn brothers?”
Hong Qigong had not answered when Guo Jing interrupted, “Big Brother Zhou, you and I have become sworn brothers so how could you take my master as your sworn brother also?”
Zhou Botong laughed, “What’s the problem? If your father-in-law is kind enough and let me ride on this new boat, when my heart is happy I might take him as my sworn brother as well.”
“What about me?” Huang Rong laughed.
Zhou Botong squinted his eyes, “I am not too keen to take a baby doll; if I look at pretty women too much; they turn into trash.” Taking Hong Qigong’s arm he walked to the boat.
Quickly Huang Yaoshi blocked their way, stretching both arms and said, “Old Huang does not dare to take advantage of others. Riding this boat will bring more harm than good. Gentlemen, you don’t need to prove your courage, it has been well known on the Central Plains.”
Hong Qigong laughed heartily, “You have repeatedly warned us; even if the Old Beggar returns to heaven due to seasickness I will still appreciate Yao Xiong’s friendship.” Although he said those things jokingly, but in his heart he was quite wary seeing Huang Yaoshi had twice tried to stop them from boarding the boat. He knew something was wrong with that boat, but Zhou Botong was insistent on coming aboard. He saw with his own eyes how stubborn Zhou Botong was. If something really went wrong, Zhou Botong could not possibly face the danger alone, with his internal injury and all. That was the reason he made up his mind to come with Zhou Botong.
Huang Yaoshi made a humph sound and said, “You two gentlemen are experts in martial art; I am sure you would be able to turn bad luck into good. This Old Huang here worries too much. You, the boy surnamed Guo, you are going with them.”
Guo Jing was startled. When he became Huang Yaoshi’s son-in-law he was called ‘Jing’er’ but now suddenly Huang Yaoshi changed the way he called him; moreover, his expression was so stern. Looking at Huang Yaoshi he said, “Father-in-law …”
“Who’s your Father-in-law?” Huang Yaoshi cut him off with a harsh voice, “You are a greedy lying boy! If you ever tread your foot on the Peach Blossom Island again even for half a step, don’t blame the Old Huang for being ruthless.” Reaching backward he grabbed a servant’s collar, shouted, “This is your example!” The deaf and mute servant’s tongue was cut early on, so only a low and deep neighing was heard from his throat; his body flew to the sea. His internal organs were crushed by Huang Yaoshi’s palm; he dropped to the sea and in an instant disappeared among the waves without any trace.
The other deaf and mute servants were terribly terrified, they all knelt down at once. All of them were originally criminals; Huang Yaoshi had investigated their background carefully before capturing them one by one and took them to the island; cut their tongues and pierced their ears, making them his slaves. He once said, “The Old Huang is not a gentleman, Jianghu people call me the Eastern Heretic. Naturally I don’t like any gentlemen as my companions; I prefer wicked people to be my servants. The more wicked they are, the more I like them.” That one servant, although he deserved to be condemned, struck by his palm and thrown out to the sea without any reason, had shaken everybody’s heart. They could not help but sighing inwardly, “The Old Heretic Huang is really wicked.”
Guo Jing was scared; he also knelt down on the ground.
“What did he do to offend you?” Hong Qigong asked.
Huang Yaoshi did not answer his question, instead, sternly he asked Guo Jing, “Did you or did you not give the second volume of the Nine Yin Manual to Zhou Botong?”
“I did give something to Big Brother Zhou, but I really did not know if it was the manual,” Guo Jing said, “If I knew …”
“What do you mean you didn’t know?” Zhou Botong interrupted. He was always ignorant of what was serious and what was not. The more he saw other people upset, the more he wanted to play practical jokes on them. Without waiting for Guo Jing to explain he said, “You said it yourself that you took that manual from Mei Chaofeng; said you were lucky the old man Huang Yaoshi didn’t know. You also said that after you master the manual, you will become number one expert of martial art in the world.”
Guo Jing was stupefied. “Big Brother, I … when did I say that?” he said with a trembling voice.
Zhou Botong’s eyes glittered, with a stern voice he said, “You certainly have said that.”
The fact that Guo Jing was able to recite the book was well-known to those present; whether he knew it was the Nine Yin Manual or not, nobody cared. Now that Zhou Botong had confirmed it Huang Yaoshi was very, very angry. Why would he think Zhou Botong was only joking? He forgot that Zhou Botong was childish and always liked to crack a joke; while Guo Jing was naïve and unable to tell lies. He was so wild with rage that he was afraid he would rip Guo Jing apart, thus smearing his own reputation; so he raised his hand in respect of Zhou Botong, Hong Qigong and Ouyang Feng, saying, “Please!” Pulling along Huang Rong’s hand he turned around and walked away.
Huang Rong still wanted to have a few words with Guo Jing. “Brother Jing …” she called; but she was pulled by her father and in a blink of an eye they have traveled dozens of feet away, disappearing into the forest.
Zhou Botong burst out in laughter, but stopped abruptly because his chest hurt. Finally he chuckled and said, “The Old Heretic Huang has fallen into my trap. I spoke nonsense to deceive him and he took it seriously. Amusing, amusing!”
Hong Qigong was taken aback. “Then Jing’er really didn’t know beforehand?” he asked.
Zhou Botong laughed, “Of course he didn’t know! He thought the Nine Yin martial arts are evil; if he knew, he wouldn’t want to learn with me. Brother, you have memorized the manual really well didn’t you? Even if you want to forget it, you can’t, can you?” He held his stomach and burst out into laughter again; didn’t care if it hurt his chest; so his expression was really awkward.
Hong Qigong stomped his foot. “Ay! Old Urchin! Don’t you think this joke is too much? I am going to talk to Yao Xiong.” Moving his feet he dashed into the forest, but the pathways was confusing; he did not know which way Huang Yaoshi went. As for the deaf and mute servants, as soon as their master gone, they scampered away following him. Hong Qigong had no one to lead him the way, so he was compelled to come back. But suddenly he remembered that Ouyang Ke had the map of the Peach Blossom Island in details. “Ouyang Xianzhi, can I borrow the Peach Blossom Island map, please?” he asked urgently.
Ouyang Ke shook his head, “Without Uncle Huang’s permission little nephew does not dare to let other people see it; Uncle Hong please don’t blame me.”
“Humph!” Hong Qigong snorted. He said in his heart, “I am really stupid, how can I borrow the map from this kid? He earnestly wishes for the Old Heretic Huang to hate my dumb disciple.” While he was still staring at the forest suddenly he saw some white shadows coming out. Turned out they were Ouyang Feng’s 32 white clothed dancing girls.
As they came close to Ouyang Feng, they bent their knees and one of them said, “Master Huang told us to go back with Master.”
Ouyang Feng did not even look their way; he simply waved his hand telling them to board the boat. Toward Hong Qigong and Zhou Botong he said, “I am afraid Yao Xiong did put some booby-traps on board. Don’t you two gentlemen worry, Little Brother will follow closely on my boat. In case of emergency we can lend you a hand.”
Zhou Botong angrily said, “Who wants your charity? I want to see what kind of gadgets the Old Heretic Huang put on his boat. If you follow along the danger won’t come; where is the fun part then? If you mess with me, the Old Urchin will drench you with urine one more time!”
Ouyang Feng laughed, “Very well! In that case, till we meet again.” He cupped his fists and took his nephew boarding his own boat.
Guo Jing was still staring blankly at where Huang Rong disappeared, lost in his thought. Zhou Botong laughed, “Brother, let us board the boat. I wonder if this ill-fated boat will swallow us three people alive” His left hand took Hong Qigong’s arm and his right hand pulled Guo Jing along, together they board the new boat.
The boat came with about seven, eight sailors waiting to serve them; they were all mute. Zhou Botong laughed, “One day the Old Heretic Huang will be very angry that he cut his precious daughter’s tongue. Only then will I admire him to have guts.” Listening to this Guo Jing could not help but shivered. Zhou Botong saw him and laughed heartily, “Are you scared?” he asked; then made a hand signal to the sailor to start sailing. The sailors hoisted the anchor and raised the sail; under the southern wind they headed north.
“Come,” Hong Qigong said, “Let us take a look of this boat and see what is so strange about it.” Three men walked the boat from stern to bow; from the deck to the bottom of the hold. The boat was painted in bright and clear paint; the hold contained supply of foods and drinks: water, white rice, wine, meat and vegetables in abundance. Nothing was out of ordinary.
“The Old Heretic Huang deceived us!” Zhou Botong hatefully said, “Where is the strange thing on this boat he was talking about? He is such a liar!”
Hong Qigong, however, was still in doubt. He leaped to the mast and with his strength tried to rock the mast and the sail, but again, he found nothing out of ordinary. He lifted up his eyes looking at a distance; he saw seagulls flying, the billows rolled and the horizon where the sea met the sky. The boat’s three sails were fully raised; they were heading north. He spread his collar and enjoyed the invigorating wind. Turning his head he saw Ouyang Feng’s boat following them approximately two li’s [about 1 km] behind.
Hong Qigong leaped down the mast, made a hand signal to the sailor, told him to change course to the northwest. A moment later he looked again and saw that Ouyang Feng’s boat had also changed its direction to the northwest.
“What does he follow us for?” Hong Qigong muttered under his breath, “Can he really have good intentions? The Old Venom shows kindness of heart, the sun may have to come out from the west.” He was afraid if Zhou Botong knew he would throw a fit of temper. He didn’t say anything, but signaling the sailor to change course to the east.
The boat made an abrupt turn that the sail were almost touching the water and they slowed down. Approximately the time needed to drink a cup of tea later Ouyang Feng’s boat was also changing its direction to the east. “If you want to settle our score on the sea, that’s allright with me,” Hong Qigong thought.
He left the deck to enter the cabin only to see Guo Jing looked depressed; he was quiet, lost in thought. Hong Qigong said, “Tu’er [disciple], let me teach you how a beggar begs for rice: if the master of the house did not give you anything, you hang around his door for three days and three nights, see if he still didn’t want to give you anything.”
Zhou Botong laughed, “What if the master of the house owns a vicious dog? What if he told to dog to bite you because you don’t want to go? What would you do?” he asked.
Hong Qigong laughed, “That case he is a heartless rich man. If you come again at night and steal his belonging, you are not violating the heaven’s law.”
Zhou Botong turned to Guo Jing. “Brother, do you understand your Master’s speech? He taught you to be persistent in front of your father-in-law. If he still won’t give his daughter to you and beat you for no reason, then you can steal her at night,” he said, “Only if you really have to steal that treasure, you don’t have to do it yourself; all you need to do is just call out, ‘bao bei er [Treasure, precious], come!’ And she herself will come out and follow you.”
Listening to him Guo Jing was unable to restrain a smile. He saw Zhou Botong pacing up and down the cabin, could not stay still even for a moment. Suddenly a thought came into his mind, “Big Brother, do you have any destination to go?” he asked.
“I don’t have any,” replied Zhou Botong, “I will go where my heart tells me to. I have stayed on the Peach Blossom Island for too long, I felt cooped up.”
“I have a favor I’d like to ask Big Brother,” Guo Jing said.
Zhou Botong shook his head. “No, I am not going to the Peach Blossom Island to help you steal a wife, I don’t want to.”
Guo Jing blushed, “No, not that,” he said, “I want to bother Big Brother to visit the Cloud Village in Yixing, by the Lake Tai.”
“What for?” Zhou Botong asked.
“The Cloud Village Master, Lu Chengfeng is a brave hero,” Guo Jing explained, “He was Father-in-law’s disciple. Because of the Twin Killers of the Dark Wind’s affair, Father-in-law has broken his legs so he became a cripple. I saw Big Brother’s legs recovered, so I want to ask Big Brother to teach him the technique to heal his legs.”
“That’s easy,” Zhou Botong said, “Even if Old Heretic Huang breaks my legs again, I know how to heal myself. If you don’t believe me, go ahead, break my legs.” After saying that, he sat on a chair and stretched out his legs with a challenging look on his face.
Guo Jing smiled, “I don’t need to try, I know Big Brother have this ability,” he said.
While they were still talking suddenly a loud crashing was heard, the door burst open and a sailor came rushing in with a terror-stricken face. He could not speak, so he just gesticulated in panic. Three of them knew something was terribly wrong, so they dashed out of the cabin.
Huang Rong wanted to have a word with Guo Jing when was pulled away by her father. She was really upset, so as soon as they arrived at their home she went straight to her room and locked the door, crying uncontrollably. In his anger Huang Yaoshi had expelled Guo Jing from the island; now that his anger had subsided he regretted his rash decision; realizing he had sent Guo Jing to his death. He wanted to comfort his daughter, but no matter how hard or how long he knocked on her door, she just simply turned a deaf ear to him. During supper he called for her, but she did not appear; he sent a servant with Huang Rong’s dinner, but she trashed the dinner to the ground, she even hit the servant a couple of times.
“Father had said that if Brother Jing ever step his foot on this island again he would kill him. I want to go out and find him, but how can I leave Father alone here? He will definitely be grieved,” Huang Rong pondered left and right, but could not come out with any idea until her stomach hurt.
Several months ago Huang Yaoshi scolded her and she ran away from the island; in her childish thinking she did not want to go back. Afterwards she met her father and saw that the number of white hair on his temple suddenly increased. It was only several months, but he looked ten years older than she remembered him. She felt really sorry, and promised in her heart never to leave him again. Who would have thought that now she was facing a difficult situation? She stayed on her bed all day, crying. She thought, “If Mother were still alive, she would take care of me; would she allow me to suffer like this?”
Thinking about her mother she decided to get out of the room, she walked through the hall to the front door. Her house on the Peach Blossom Island had a front door that was always open, night and day; unless there was storm coming. Huang Rong went out to the yard. It was a starry sky; the air was heavy with flowers’ scent. “Brother Jing must be miles away by now, I wonder when we are going to see each other again,” she wondered in her heart. She heaved a deep sigh, wiped the tears from her eyes with the end of her long sleeve, and walked toward the flower bushes at the end of their yard. Entering the bushes and brushing away the leaves she arrived at her mother’s tomb.
The exquisiteness of the coffin wood, the various plants and rare orchids, the different flowers that bloom at different seasons, everything was Huang Yaoshi’s personal choice. They glittered under the moonlight, each radiating its own unique scent. Huang Rong pushed the tombstone three times to the left and three times to the right; then exerting her strength she pushed it forward. The tombstone slowly moved to the side, revealing a long and narrow stonewalled tunnel. She went in; and after making three turns she arrived at another secret door. Beyond this door was where the coffin was placed. The room was bright from the oil lamp inside a precious stone container, illuminating Huang Rong’s mother’s memorial tablet.
Alone in that small underground room, seeing the painting of her deceased mother made by her father’s own hand, Huang Rong’s heart was filled with a roller coaster emotion; she thought, “I have never seen Mother. I wonder after I die, will I meet her? Was she really that young and beautiful as in the picture? Where is she right now? Is she at the sky above, or in the earth below, or still in this room? I am going to stay here forever to accompany her.”
Along the wall of this tomb there were precious jewels, antique collections, and paintings and calligraphy from famous artists; each worth a fortune. After his wife died, Huang Yaoshi roamed the sea and lakes to collect these precious articles. Whether it was inside the imperial palace, or inside the house of some rich government official, or in a robbers’ den high up on the mountain; as long as he knew there was a treasure, he would come and steal or take it by force. His martial art was high, he had keen eyes and sophisticated taste; hence he managed to collect quite a bit of treasures piling up inside his wife’s grave.
Huang Rong could see the bright pearls, beautiful jade, emeralds and amethysts glimmering under the firelight; she thought, “These precious jewels don’t have any feeling, yet they will live for million of years. Today I am looking at them in here, but in the future my body will turn into dust while they will still be here. Is it true that among the living things, the smart and intelligent won’t have a long life? Is it because she was so smart that my mother died when she was only twenty?”
Huang Rong stared at her mother’s picture for a moment, heaved a sigh, then blew out the light and walked toward her mother’s coffin’s side. She stroked the coffin lovingly and sat on the ground. Her heart was heavy from self-pity. She was leaning on the coffin, pretending she was cuddling by her mother’s side, relying on her for support. Earlier that day she experienced great joy and great anxiety; that night she was simply exhausted, so after a while she drifted off to sleep.
She dreamt she was inside the Zhao Palace in Beijing, alone fighting a group of martial artists; but then the scenery changed, she was in the northern area, unexpectedly met Guo Jing there. She barely said a few words with him when suddenly her mother showed up. She just knew it was her mother even though she could not see her face clearly, tried as she might. Then her mother started to fly to the sky with her calling and pursuing on the ground. Her mother was flying higher and higher and she was so scared. And then out of the blue she heard her father’s voice calling her mother. At first it was a distant sound, then the voice getting nearer and clearer. Huang Rong awoke with a start but her father’s voice could still be heard, mumbling indistinctly in front of the curtain. Then she calmed herself down and realized that it was not a dream; her father was indeed inside the tomb, talking to her mother’s spirit.
When she was little her father often took her here; he would tell her mother anything that happened outside, regardless of how trivial those matters were. In the past several years she did not go with her father as often yet it still did not surprise her to hear her father talking in front of the coffin. She was still upset with him, so she did not want to see him. She wanted to wait quietly until he left, but what she heard next surprised her.
“I have found your heart’s desire,” he said, “I know you have suffered a lot that year you rewrote the Nine Yin Manual; I want to find it and burn it in your presence, so your spirit in heaven will be consoled. I have searched in vain for fifteen years, but today I have found it.”
Huang Rong was surprised, “Where did Father get the Nine Yin Manual from?” she wondered.
“I did not want to intentionally kill your son-in-law,” she heard her father continued. “But it was they who insisted to ride on that boat.”
Huang Rong was puzzled, “Mother’s son-in-law? Is he talking about Brother Jing? He rode on that boat, then what?” She opened her ears wide and listened attentively.
Huang Yaoshi recounted how miserable and lonely his life had become ever since his wife passed away and how bad he missed her. Huang Rong listened to him pouring out his heart and her own heart was filled with sorrow. “Brother Jing and I are merely teenagers and we love each other. I don’t think it is impossible to see each other in the future; but I cannot leave my father,” she thought.
Once her mind was set, she continued listening to her father. “The Old Urchin has destroyed the entire Nine Yin Manual with the strength of his hands. I thought my hope of sacrificing the manual to you was shattered; who would have thought that perhaps by divine intervention he insisted on riding the boat I made for our future meeting?” he said.
“Every time I wanted to play aboard that boat Father had always sternly prohibited me; how would he use the boat to meet Mother?” Huang Rong wondered in her heart.
Huang Yaoshi loved his wife very much. Moreover, his wife died because she wanted to make him happy. Therefore, he wanted to commit suicide as a sacrifice to her. But he knew his martial art was profound, he would not die easily by hanging himself or simply drinking a poison. Plus, if he died on the island, he was sure his mute and deaf servants would mutilate his body. Hence he went mainland and kidnapped a highly skilled boat builder to build him this fancy boat.
This boat’s keel was no different from a regular boat; except that the bottom of the boat was not nailed together with ordinary metal nails, but was put together by ropes and glue. Mooring on the marina it looked like an extremely magnificent and beautiful yacht; but as soon as it sailed to the sea, the waves would disintegrate the rope and glue, and the boat would certainly sink.
Originally he intended to put his wife’s coffin on the boat, take the boat to the sea and while the waves rock the boat, he would play with his jade flute the [jade-colored tidal wave song]; together with his wife they would be buried thousands of feet under the sea. This way he would make a clean end to his life and not disgracing his reputation as a martial art master of his age. However, every time he wanted to go he could not bear to take their daughter along; and who would raise her up if he died? Finally he decided to build a tomb and placed his wife in it. He repainted the boat every year, so it always looked new. He was going to wait their daughter to grow up before he would take his last voyage.
Of course Huang Rong did not know her father’s plan. But she kept listening anyway. “The Old Urchin was able to recite the Nine Yin Manual completely; that surnamed Guo kid could also recite it from memory. So, if I sink these two people to the sea, it would be like I am burning down two manuals for you. If your spirit in heaven knows this, you can then rest in peace. My only regret was that the Old Beggar Hong will deliver his life in vain; it is rather unfair to him. Within one day I have killed three martial arts masters for your sake. When we meet again later, you can certainly say that your husband has fulfilled his promise to you. Ha ... ha … !”
Listening to this last part the hair on Huang Rong’s back stood up; her heart turned really cold. She did not completely understand what was going on, but knowing her father’s ability very well, she was sure that there must be something terribly wrong with that boat. She was anxious for the safety of Guo Jing three people on board. Her heart was filled with shock and sorrow at the same time. She wanted to stand up and beg her father to save them, but she was not able to neither stand nor speak; her legs were weak and her throat dry from fear. She only heard her father’s long and mournful laughter – sounded like a song or a cry, while he walked out of the tomb.
Huang Rong tried to calm herself down and thought out loud, “I must go to rescue Brother Jing. If I can’t make it, I am going to die with him.” She knew her father’s strange temper well, he turned crazy because of his excessive love to his deceased wife; it would be useless to ask him for help. She dashed out of the tomb toward the seashore; jumped up the boat, woke up the deaf and mute servants in charge of the boat and immediately set sail.
Suddenly she heard hoof beats coming her way, and at the same time she could hear her father’s jade flute in a distance. Huang Rong looked back; it was Guo Jing’s red horse, galloping under the moonlight. It had wandered aimlessly on the island, and at that particular night it ran toward the shore. Huang Rong thought, “Where can I find Brother Jing on this boundless sea? The little red horse has divine ability on dry land, but on the water it is completely useless.”
Hong Qigong, Zhou Botong and Guo Jing dashed out of the cabin only to find their feet were submerged in water almost to their knees. They were extremely shocked. Immediately they jumped up to the mast; Hong Qigong even remembered to snatch a couple of deaf and mute sailors along. They looked down and saw the turbulent water was coming up fast. It all happened so fast that they were at loss of what to do.
“Old Beggar,” Zhou Botong called, “Old Heretic Huang is so amazing! How did he build this boat?”
“I don’t know!” replied Hong Qigong, “Jing’er, hold the mast tight, don’t let go …”
Guo Jing was about to answer when suddenly a loud crack was heard; the boat was broken into two, and both halves slowly sank into the water. The two sailors were shocked that they lost their hold on the mast and fell down into the raging water below. Zhou Botong flexed his muscle and jumped into the water.
“Old Urchin!” Hong Qigong called, “Do you know how to swim?”
Zhou Botong’s head coming out from the water, “I guess I’ll have to try …” he laughed. These exchanges happened in the midst of blowing wind and they could not hear each other clearly.
By this time the mast was leaning down far enough that very soon it will hit the water. Hong Qigong called out, “Jing’er, the mast is joined with the hull; let us break it free. Come on!” Two people gathered their strength and struck the mast near its center. The mast was made from solid wood, but how could it withstand the joined forces of Hong Qigong and Guo Jing? With several strikes, “Crack!” The mast gave up. Two people held on to it and together they fell into the sea below.
They were already miles away from the Peach Blossom Island; looking at four directions all around there were great big waves as high as a mountain and no land was in sight. Hong Qigong was secretly very anxious. Drifting on the sea like this, without food or fresh water, if nobody was going to rescue them, they would certainly die in less than ten days no matter how high their martial art skill were. Hong Qigong tried to look for Ouyang Feng’s boat, but it was nowhere to be seen. He heard someone laughing hard toward the south of them, it was Zhou Botong.
“Jing’er,” Hong Qigong said, “Let’s try coming to him.” With one hand holding the mast, the other hand rowed toward Zhou Botong. The waves were quite strong in that area, as they moved dozens of feet they were pushed back dozens of feet.
“Old Urchin, we are coming!” Hong Qigong laughed. Due to his strong internal energy, his voice was heard amidst the sound of rushing waves around them. They heard Zhou Botong called out, “The Old Urchin has become a dog in the water; this is an old dog in salty soup!”
Guo Jing was amused that in such a dangerous situation like this he still had a mood to goof around; truly he did not bear the title ‘the Old Urchin’ in vain.
The sea was raging wild around them. No matter how hard they tried, they were still dozens of feet apart from each other. Only after working hard for a long time did they finally managed to gather together on the broken mast. As soon as Hong Qigong and Guo Jing saw Zhou Botong, they were unable to stifle their laughter; Zhou Botong used the sail rope to tie a piece of board to his feet, displaying his excellent lightness kungfu to tread the waves. Unfortunately the waves were too strong. Even though his body was going up and down with the waves, as if free and unrestrained, but actually it was very difficult to move forward. Zhou Botong played on the water enthusiastically, seemingly oblivious of the danger they were facing.
Guo Jing looked around only to see their boat was totally gone; along with all the crews, they were buried under the sea. Suddenly he heard Zhou Botong cried in alarm, “Aiyo! This is serious! The Old Urchin might meet a cruel death.”
Hong Qigong and Guo Jing heard his frightened voice, they asked, “What is it?”
Zhou Botong pointed his finger away and said, “Sharks! A school of sharks!”
Guo Jing grew up in the desert; he did not know how fierce a shark was. He turned around to see Hong Qigong’s face looked strange. He wondered what kind of monster a shark was, that his master and big brother Zhou who were used to face danger with smiles on their face looked so nervous.
Hong Qigong sent his strength to his palm and broke the end of the mast; then he divided the broken pieces further into two halves. Suddenly he saw a shark head appeared among the white foam of the waves; its two rows of sharp white teeth glistening under the sunlight. It was only a moment, and then disappeared into the water. Hong Qigong threw the wooden stick to Guo Jing. “Aim for their heads!” he called out.
Guo Jing groped his pocket and produced a dagger. “Disciple has a dagger!” he called back and threw the wooden stick toward Zhou Botong.
By now there were four, five sharks circling around Zhou Botong; looked like they were just assessing the situation, so no shark had attacked yet. Zhou Botong bent his waist and struck; as a result a shark’s head split open. As soon as the other sharks smelt blood they all attacked their dead comrade.
Guo Jing saw the water surface bubbled like boiling water; did not know how many thousands of sharks were there. He saw white teeth flashing and in a very short moment nothing was left of that dead shark. He was horrified. Suddenly he felt something bumped his feet. Nervously he kicked around, and a big shark jumped up the water toward him. With his left hand holding the mast he sent all his might to his right hand and with an unmatched accuracy his extremely sharp dagger made a hole on the shark’s head. Again the water boiled from a flock of sharks feasting on their dead comrade. Thousands of sharks moved and bite randomly in the water.
Three men’s martial arts were superb; surrounded by thousands of sharks they moved to the west and dodged to the east. Every time their hands struck a shark was either dead or heavily injured; while their own bodies were not even scratched. As soon as a shark bleeds, it became the others’ food and in a flash it became a pile of bones sinking to the sea. These three people’s martial arts were profound and they have great courage; yet seeing this they could not help feeling scared. The sharks were uncountable; seemed like they were killing endlessly. They did not have time to think of anything else; they needed all their energy and concentration to fight and fight and fight …
After a few hours of fighting they have killed more than two hundreds sharks, but the fog started rising from the water, the sun slowly fell to the western horizon. Zhou Botong called out, “Old Beggar, Brother Guo, once the sky is dark all three of us will go to the sharks’ tummy. Shall we make a bet? Who will be first to be eaten?”
“Is the first to be eaten the winner or the loser?” Hong Qigong asked.
“Certainly the winner,” Zhou Botong replied.
“Aiyo, in that case I’d rather be the loser,” Hong Qigong said. With the back of his hand he launched the ‘divine dragon swings its tail’ and hit a big shark on its side. That big shark weight approximately 200 jins; but by Hong Qigong’s strength it flew to the air and rolled twice before it fell down to the water, creating a big splash everywhere. That shark went belly up, killed instantly.
“Excellent palm technique!” Zhou Botong praised, “I’ll bow to you and take you as my master so you can teach me this ’18-Dragon Subduing Palms’. Only it’s too bad I won’t have time to learn. Old Beggar, do you want to compete with me?”
“I am sorry I can’t accompany you right now,” Hong Qigong said.
Zhou Botong laughed heartily, “Brother, are you scared?” he asked Guo Jing.
In his heart Guo Jing was really scared, but seeing those two people were still able to chat and making jokes in life and death situation his spirit was lifted up. “I was scared, but not anymore,” he replied. Suddenly he saw a monstrous shark came charging his way. He leaned sideways then lifted his left hand high in the air as a bait. That big shark turned around and leaped out of the water to bite his hand. The dagger in Guo Jing’s right hand moved upward and stabbed underneath the shark’s mouth, but because the shark was moving forward the dagger made a long cut along the shark’s body. Blood came gushing out like a spring of water and the contents of its stomach spilled out.
By that time Zhou Botong and Hong Qigong each had killed another shark. Zhou Botong had not recovered from Huang Yaoshi’s blow earlier; after fighting for a long time he started to feel a severe pain in his chest. He laughed out loud and said, “Old Beggar, Brother Guo, I am so sorry I can’t accompany you much longer, I have to be the first going into a shark’s belly. Ay! Too bad you two didn’t want to bet. I should’ve won!”
Even though he was laughing, Guo Jing could hear the desperation in his voice. “All right!” he shouted, “I’ll bet with you!”
“Now, at last I can die an interesting death!” Zhou Botong laughed. He turned around to avoid a converging attack of two sharks charging together; suddenly saw a high white sail far away. Under the dim light of dusk a big boat [translator’s note: actually it was a yacht, but I wonder if the ancient Chinese has a specific word for yacht?] was cutting the waves, coming their way.
Hong Qigong also saw the boat; it was Ouyang Feng’s. They were exuberant knowing help is on the way. Guo Jing immediately came toward Zhou Botong to help him fight the sharks. A moment later the boat arrived; it lowered two small sampans to rescue the three people. Zhou Botong vomited some more blood, but he did not stop talking and laughing; pointing his finger to the sharks and cursing incessantly.
Ouyang Feng and Ouyang Ke stood on the bow of the big boat to welcome them. As far as their eyes could see, the water was full with sharks’ fins; they were secretly alarmed.
Zhou Botong was unwilling to admit inferiority, he said, “Old Poison, it was you who came and rescued us, I did not call you for help; so I don’t owe you anything.”
“Naturally you don’t owe me anything,” Ouyang Feng replied, “Today I came across the three of you on a shark killing spree; Little Brother was fascinated.”
Zhou Botong laughed, “You came across us and hindered us from playing inside the sharks’ belly; so I will call it even, we don’t owe anybody anything.”
Ouyang Ke and a snake shepherd put some big chunks of beef on an iron hook as baits and in a short period of time had fished seven, eight big sharks.
Hong Qigong pointed to the sharks and laughed, “Good, you can’t eat us, looks like we are going to eat you.”
Ouyang Ke laughed, “Little Nephew has a way to avenge Uncle Hong.” Quickly he cut some short sticks, sharpening their both ends, then pried open the shark’s mouth with a spear and stuck the wooden stick in the shark’s mouth. Next, he kicked the shark back to the water.
Zhou Botong laughed, “This way the shark won’t be able to eat anything forever; but I bet it will die within eight to ten days.”
Guo Jing said in his heart, “Such an evil plan, he is the only one who can think of it. This gluttonous shark will be starved to death in the sea. That is so cruel.”
Zhou Botong saw Guo Jing’s face showed a disgusted look, he laughed, “Brother, such a malicious method is not pleasing to the eye, is it? Well, this is called ‘a poisonous uncle results in a poisonous nephew’.”
Hearing others cursing him as evil did not bother Western Poison Ouyang Feng at all; on the contrary, he was pleased. Listening Zhou Botong he showed a faint smile, and said, “Old Urchin, this small trick is nothing compared to what the Western Poison can do. You three people were already out of breath fighting this bunch of baby sharks. Even though they are many, to me they are nothing.” After saying that he stretched his right hand; facing the sea he moved his hand in a sweeping motion from left to right and said, “Even if there were ten times more sharks than these, I can annihilate them all without breaking a sweat.”
“Ah!” Zhou Botong exclaimed, “The Western Poison blew his horn really loud! If you can prove your great prowess and really kill the sharks, the Old Urchin will kowtow to you and will call you ‘Grandfather’ three hundred times.”
“I do not dare to accept that,” Ouyang Feng said, “If you don’t believe me, why don’t we make a bet?”
“All right!” Zhou Botong almost shouted, “I’ll bet you my head!”
Hong Qigong, on the other hand, was suspicious, “Even if his skill is as high as the sky, yet it is impossible to kill millions of sharks at once,” he thought, “I am afraid he has another evil scheme up in his sleeve.”
“I don’t need your head,” Ouyang Feng said with a smile, “If I win, I want you to do something for me, and you must obey it. If I lose, I can’t decline whatever difficult matter you want me to do. What do you think?”
“I don’t care, whatever you say!” Zhou Botong shouted.
Ouyang Feng turned to Hong Qigong, “I am asking Qi Xiong to be our witness,” he said.
Hong Qigong nodded, “Very well,” he said, “But what if after the winner assigns the loser something to do and he is not able to do it?”
“Then the loser must jump to the sea to be eaten by the sharks,” Zhou Botong said.
Again Ouyang Feng showed a faint smile, he did not say anything. He signaled a servant to bring in a small wine cup. Two of his right fingers pinched the neck of his strange looking snake on his staff, forced it to open its mouth and the venom from its teeth gushed out. Ouyang Feng held out the wine cup that the venom went into it, black and thick like China ink, filling almost half of the cup. As soon as this one snake ran out of venom he took the other one and did the same; filling the whole cup with snake’s venom. When he was done those two snakes wrapped around the staff quietly, no longer slithering up and down, liked they were dead-tired.
Ouyang Feng’s servant fished another big shark and placed it on the deck. With his left hand Ouyang Feng gripped the shark’s upper jaw, while his right foot stepped on the lower jaw; prying the jaws open. That shark was about two zhang’s long [approximately 20 feet or 7 meters], but it could not resist its mouth being opened; revealing two rows of dagger-sharp teeth. Then he poured the cup of venom in his hand into the shark’s mouth, right at the gaping wound caused by the iron hook. With an abrupt movement his left hand lifted the shark on its belly and without much trouble swung it up. The 200 catties [about 100 kg.] shark flew to the air and with a loud splash fell into the sea.
Zhou Botong laughed, “Aha! I understand now,” he said, “This is the old monk’s method of killing bedbugs [lice].”
“Big Brother,” Guo Jing asked, “How did the old monk kill the bugs?”
“There was once an old monk who hawked on a Bianliang [a city in Henan province] street market selling concoction to get rid of the bedbugs,” Zhou Botong told him, “He claimed his concoction to be very effective; once the bugs ate his product they would surely die; if not, he was going to reimburse the customer’s money tenfold. Of course with this kind of guarantee his business was brisk. One of his customers went back home and scattered the concoction on his bed. Heh, heh … that night the bedbugs still came up by the thousands, biting him half-dead. That customer was upset, early the next morning he went back to the market to find that old monk, wanted him to refund his money. That old monk said, ‘My concoction is really effective, if it did not kill your bugs, perhaps you did not use it correctly.’ The customer asked, ‘How do you use it?’”
Speaking to this point he shook his head with a mischievous smile on his face; but did not continue. “Then how did he use it?” Guo Jing asked.
With a straight face Zhou Botong said, “That old monk said, ‘You catch the bug, pry open its mouth and feed just a little bit of this concoction to its mouth. If it didn’t die, then you can come to the old monk again.’ The customer was mad, he said, ‘If I can catch the bug, I can pinch it dead with my fingers, why would I need your effective concoction?’ To which the old monk replied, ‘Of course, I have never said you can’t pinch it dead, have I?’”
Guo Jing, Hong Qigong, Ouyang Feng uncle and nephew, along with everybody who listened to Zhou Botong were all burst in laugher. “My concoction is somewhat different than those of the old monk,” Ouyang Feng said with a smile.
“I don’t see much difference,” Zhou Botong said.
Ouyang Feng pointed his finger to the sea and said, “Well, just take a look.”
The shark which was fed with the venom went belly up, of course; and seven, eight other sharks were having a feeding frenzy over it, that in a short time it became another pile of bones; sank to the bottom of the ocean. The strange thing was that the seven, eight sharks which ate their comrade’s flesh were also gone belly up not too long afterwards. Each dead shark was immediately eaten by another flock of sharks, which, in turn, also went belly up in the water. One shark killed ten others, ten sharks killed a hundred, a hundred killed a thousand; not too long the sea was full with dead sharks floating around. The remainder of the sharks were not too many, but they were still feeding on their dead comrades, so a while later the sea became calm, no more sharks left alive.
Hong Qigong, Zhou Botong and Guo Jing saw this chilling scene their faces paled. Hong Qigong sighed and said, “Old poison, Old poison, your evil plan is truly evil; only a small amount of poison from your two snakes is extremely deathly.”
Ouyang Feng chuckled and looked at Zhou Botong with a smug expression. Zhou Botong rubbed his hands and stomped his foot, pulling his beard and hair randomly. As far as everybody could see, the sea surface was full of dead sharks with their white belly upward, floating and fluctuating on the waves.
“Looking at these many white bellies makes my tummy sick; thinking that these many sharks were killed by the Old Poison’s venom, also makes my tummy sick,” Zhou Botong said, “Old Poison, you need to watch out, once the ‘hai long wang’ [dragon king of the sea] found out, he is going to send his shrimp army and crab generals to deal with you.” Ouyang Feng simply smiled without saying anything.
“Feng Xiong, little brother is unclear about something, I beg you to explain it to me,” Hong Qigong said.
“I don’t dare,” Ouyang Feng replied.
“It was only a small cup of venom, even if the poison was extremely deathly, how could it kill thousands of sharks?” Hong Qigong asked.
Ouyang Feng laughed, “This type of venom is very special,” he explained, “As soon as it entered the blood, the blood became poisonous. If this blood enters another shark’s system, that second shark’s entire blood would also be poisonous. Just imagine the amount of venom increased a hundredfold. Each dead shark would multiply that amount another hundredfold; very soon you’ll have an infinite amount of venom to kill forever.”
“That is called perpetual killing,” Hong Qigong commented.
“Exactly,” Ouyang Feng replied. “Little brother’s title is ‘Western Poison’; if my skill in using poison is somewhat lacking, then I’m afraid I’m not worthy to hold that title.”
While they were still talking the rest of the sharks were already dead. Other smaller fish were also gone; if not being eaten by the sharks, then they had already run away; so the sea was eerily calm.
“Quickly sail away! Quickly sail away! The air here is too thick with poison,” Hong Qigong urged.
Ouyang Feng gave his signal and the boat moved full speed forward; the triangle shaped sails were all raised up. With the wind coming from the south they were heading northwest.
“The Old Poison really sells effective concoction to get rid of bedbugs,” Zhou Botong said. “What do you want me to do?”
“I’d like to welcome the three of you in my cabin first,” Ouyang Feng said, “You need to change into dry clothes, eat something, and then take a rest. About the bet, it won’t be too late to talk about later.”
Zhou Botong was really impatient, “That won’t do, that won’t do!” he called out, “Just say it! You won’t gain anything by waiting. If the Old Urchin dies of suffocation, then it will be your loss for not telling me what you want.”
Ouyang Feng smiled, “In that case, Botong Xiong, please come with me.”
End of Chapter 19