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Thread: Legendary Siblings Unabridged (COMPLETED)

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    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
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    Default Legendary Siblings Unabridged (COMPLETED)

    Here is the Legendary Siblings collected in a single thread for your reading pleasure. Many thanks to Athena and Wubbles for their time and effort in translating this!

    As usual, only a moderator or translator should post in this thread.

    Edit: Bubeng and Jean should receive our gratitude as well.
    Last edited by Mojo Jojo; 01-23-06 at 10:49 PM.

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    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
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    Chapter 1 Orphans

    Anyone with a pair of ears has heard of the names Jaded lover Jiang Feng and Yan Nantian, anyone with a pair of eyes would love to see the unsurpassed appearances of Jiang Feng and the ultimate unmatched swordsmanship of Yan Nantian.

    Because everyone knows that no young girl can withstand a mere smile of Jiang Feng and nobody can block a simple sword stance of Yan Nantian.

    Everybody is certain that Yan Nantian can chop off the head of a field marshal even surrounded by an army of a million soldiers, he can split a mere hair into two halves with ease. And Jian Feng's charismatic smile can crush any girl's heart.

    However at this moment the richest and most handsome young man of his time is wearing a rough robe and is driving an old shabby carriage pulled by a horse. He was hasting on an old deserted road, if anyone saw him nobody would believe he was once the young master who rode fine horses and spend gold like it was nothing.

    It was now the seventh month of the lunar calendar, high noon. The fiery sun was heating up the earth, both men and horse were dying for air. However he kept whipping the horse to keep running, the carriage was travelling with great speed.

    Suddenly he heard the cries of a rooster that broke the silence.

    It was now afternoon why would there be a rooster crowing in the middle of nowhere.

    Jiang Feng looked startled and saw a big rooster standing on stam of a broken tree not moving. His feathers and comb looked very shining and pretty.

    But the eyes of the rooster looked very sinister and evil. Jiang Feng's face turned pale, he stopped the carriage. The horse neighed loudly and a sweet gentle voice from in the carriage asked:"What is wrong?"

    Jiang Feng looked a bit flustered but smiled wryly:"Nothing is wrong, I just took the wrong way."

    He turned the carriage around and decided to go the other way back, the rooster was crowing again like it was scoffing at Jiang Feng.

    After about another 100 metres another object blocked the road, this road was old and abandoned but now there was a fat pig lying on the road, where did it come from?

    When Jiang Feng passed this spot earlier, there was not even one ounce of pork but now there was an entire fat pig lying in front of him.

    Jiang Feng looked flustered again and turned the carriage around again, the pig was rolling on the ground. It was cleaned thoroughly and it was shining in the sun.

    A voice from inside the carriage said:"Wrong turn again?"

    Jiang Feng was sweating now and said stuttered:"I......I......"

    The sweet voice from the carriage sighed:"You don't have to lie to me, I already know."

    Jiang Feng exclaimed with surprise:"What...how do you know?"

    The sweet voice said:"When I heard that rooster I knew the 12 Zodiacs are on to us. You were afraid I would worry and tried to keep it to yourself. Am I right?"

    Jiang Feng sighed deeply and said:"It is very strange, we have travelled with utmost carefulness and caution. How could they follow us? But....but don't you worry, I will deal with this alone."

    The woman in the carriage said softly and gently:"You're wrong again. Starting from that day....... I was ready to face all trials with you together through life and death. No matter what or who will come, we.....you and I will face it together."

    Jiang Feng retorted:"But you're........"

    The woman in the carriage laughed:"Don't worry about me. I am feeling much better now."

    Jiang Feng gritted his teeth and said:"Allright, can you walk now? Both roads are seemingly blocked, we will have to abandon our carriage and horse. Let us hope we can make it through these woods and reach the other side via this path."

    The woman said:"Why should we abandon our carriage and horse? They are following us anyhow, we cannot escape them anymore. Let us await them here, the 12 Zodiacs may be ruthless but we do not have to fear them."

    Jiang Feng stuttered anxiously:"I fear....I am just afraid that you....."

    The woman smiled gently:"Don't worry, I am fine."

    Jiang Feng's face glared up with love now and said gently:"Meeting you was the most fortunate thing that has ever happened to me."

    The sky paled into insignificance beside his charming, loving smile.

    The woman smiled sweetly:"I am the fortunate one. I know a lot girls in the realm envy, hate me. But these girls....."

    The horse neighed loudly with fear interrupting her words, both of them felt an icy wind sending shivers down their spines. What has upsetted the horse?

    After the wind calmed, the pig has turned over and the rooster could also be heard again. The atmosphere turned gloomy in an instant.

    The entire surrounding was covered with an ominous ambiance, the warm sun had made place for icy darkness in this desolate area in the seventh month.
    Jiang Feng's face turned pale and said:"They have come."

    A voice from behind the carriage said with a laugh:"You're right. We are here."

    That laugh sounded awful, it was sharp and out of key, Jiang Feng had never heard such nasty laughter before in his entire life.

    He turned around with fright and shouted:"Who is there?"

    Slowly seven, eight figures emerged.

    The first person was only about 150 centimetres, he wore a long very bright, shinning red brocade making him look riduculous but also sinister and perverted.

    The second person was about 2 metres long, he was muscular and big. He wore a yellow brocade and yellow hat. His face was emotionless. The other four figures that followed them had even stranger clothes, their robes were made up from different fabrics and colours with flower motif, they looked like actors who played beggars on Chinese opera.

    They all looked different but had one thing in common, that was that they all looked rough and mean and moved the same way and simultaneously.

    Following those was another figure, he was slowly walking towards the others. This man was extremely fat, he may even weigh more than those six strange characters combined. He was so fat that a slow pace was too much for him and he was panting heavily now.

    The fatty said softly to himself:"The heat is killing me....."

    Sweat was dripping of his fat face, he was really sweating like a [pig].

    Jiang Feng composed himself and got off the carriage and faced these strange people, his hands formed a greeting fist and said with a clear voice:"Are you the receivers of dawn and the black-faced lord?"

    The man in red robe chuckled:"Young master Jiang has very sharp eyes, but we're just a rooster and a pig....receivers of dawn and black-faced lord...... These nice names were given to us by people in the realm, we don't dare to claim such names."

    Jiang Feng's eyes directed to him and said:"Sir, I take it you are....."

    The man in the red robe interrupted him:"Red represents the comb and yellow the breast, and as for the flowers the main tail feathers of a rooster. And who he is....well, he looks like what he is."

    Jiang Feng said:"What can I do for you?"

    The man in the red robe said:"We have heard that young master Jiang has a new darling, we would love to see what this lady has that capture the heart of our "Jaded Lover." Furthermore we want something from you, young master Jiang."

    Jiang Feng said:"What is it that you want?"

    The man in the red robe laughed:"It must be priceless, otherwise my good black-faced brother would not make such haste to come here."

    The black-faced lord chuckled:"Well, if it isn't good why would I bother leaving my comfortable home."

    Jiang Feng was shocked but did not show it and said earnestly:"However in my hurry to leave my home I forgot to bring anything valuable with me. What on earth would I have that have caught the attention of so many collectors."

    The rooster comb said with a sinster smile:"I know that young master Jiang has sold all of his belongings including land, mansion etc. We don't know why and we don't even care why? But we do know that those bag of pearls you bought with your sales are invaluable......hehehe. Young master Jiang, you must know that we are thieves and robbers who do not return empty-handed. Hand over the pearls, please."

    Jiang Feng laughed loudly:"Good! Good! You are very well-informed. I too know that the 12 Zodiacs never return empty-handed. However......"

    The rooster comb said:"However what? Are you reluctant to hand over the pearls?"

    Jiang Feng sneered:"The only way I will hand them over is......"

    Before he could finish a silver object almost reached his chest. The comb was most fast, in an instant he had drawn a strange looking weapon shaped like a small rake but resembling a beak. His movements and stances resembled that of a rooster pecking, he aimed at the major acupoints of Jiang Feng's arms.

    Jiang Feng leapt up and made a somersault in mid-air and avoided the seven attacks, at this point another four claws shaped weapons like the feet of a rooster attacked him.

    When the comb came into action, the tail feathers followed closely, these four men were as quick as the comb and the claws they used were a formidable external martial arts form. One beak and four claws formed a deadly combination and they matched each other perfectly. They formed an adversary with nine arms and became a dreaded foe.

    Although Jiang Feng was not an easy opponent himself, but facing nine strange weapons and mysterious stances he had a difficult time to defend himself. Furthermore the man in the yellow robe---the breast was still standing there emotionless, looking like he was waiting for a window of an opportunity.

    The black-faced lord giggled:"My friends, we're not women. Put some strenght into it, we needn't be gentle to him. I will take a look at the beauty in the carriage."
    Jiang Feng angrilly roared:"Stop there!"

    He wanted to storm over to block the black-faced lord, but he couldn't break free from the attacks from those five men. The black-faced lord walked over casually and opened the door of the carriage.

    At this point a beautiful hand stuck out of the carriage, the hand as white and smooth like alabaster, the elegant perfect hand was holding a plum flower between her delicate fingers. A black plum flower. Plum flowers in summer were a rare sight, a black one even stranger. A white alabaster hand holding a black plum flower, it formed a strange combination of beauty and mystery. A clear sweet voice said:"Do you know what this is?"

    The black-faced lord's face made funny twitches and his hand remained motionless, it was still holding the door of the carriage, as for the nine weapons attacking Jiang Feng also ceased their attacks.

    These seven infamous rogues in the realm were like under a spell, they did not move and their faces were like frozen solid too.

    It was after some time the black-faced lord said with a shaky voice:"The Embroided Jade Valley, the Floral Palace."

    The voice from the carriage said:"You have good eyes too."

    The black-faced lord stuttered:"I.....I....this lowl.....lowly person....."

    He was trembling with fear and could not utter a word anymore.

    The sweet voice asked:"Do you wish to die?"

    The black-faced lord stuttered:"This lowly person doesn't...does no....not......"

    The voice said:"Doesn't want to die?"

    As soon as she finished this sentence, the red, yellow, flowery and the fat were gone in a flash. The black-faced lord wasn't walking slowly as before and was not panting anymore. He was amazingly fat, but he moved ever so swift. If one did not see this, one would not believe a fat man like him could move this rapidly.

    Jiang Feng quickly went over the carriage and asked:"Are you allright?"

    The woman in the carriage said with a smile:"I just waved my hand a bit."

    Jiang Feng felt relieved and sighed:"I never thought that a mere dark jaded plum flower you took from the palace could scare away evil rogues like the 12 Zodiacs. It seems that everyone fears them."

    The woman in the carriage said:"One can imagine how fearful they are, we must hurry. We needn't be afraid of anyone else. but if they....."

    She didn't finish her sentence because the people who fled away an instant ago have returned. They went swiftly but came even faster.

    The black-faced lord chuckled:"We were almost fooled."

    Jiang Feng said with a shocked face:"Are you really tired of living?"

    The black-faced lord laughed:"If there really is a disciple of the Floral Palace in that carriage, we would not have the chance to escape in the first place. Since when did you hear that disciples of the Floral Palace showing benevolence."

    The woman in the carriage said:"I spared your life and you......."

    The black-faced lord shouted:"Get out imposter!"

    And with one fist he smashed the door of the carriage.

    Sitting in the carriage was a young pregnant woman with a bit chaotic hair and looking sickly. Even though her hair was chaotic and her appearances were pale and sickly, she still looked beautiful and her eyes were filled with elegance. Her nose was not very sharp and she did not have cherry blossom mouth but somehow everything combined made her look really captivating. One look and one would not divert one's eyes of her, especially her eyes were filled with love, compassion, consideration.

    Judging by her belly, she was about eight, nine months pregnant now.

    The black-faced lord was a bit surprised but soon laughed loudly:"A pregnant woman pretending to be a disciple of the Floral Palace......"

    Before he could finish his sentence, the woman advanced forward with incredible speed and slapped him a few times. And in a flash she was seated again and smiled:"What about pregnant woman?"

    The black-faced lord roared angrilly:"A sneak attack!?! How dare you!"

    He struck out with his fist, he may look clumsy but this fist of his was lethal, quick and powerful.

    The young woman was still smiling and used her delicate hands to gently draw and poke in mid-air, not knowing what kind of technique she used the black-faced lord's fist was diverted back to himself. He struck himself on the shoulder and could not break off that attack on himself. The force he used in that attack was formidable and he fell down on the ground and was yelled out in pain.

    Both the comb and the main feather tails wanted to try initially but now they were too shocked to move, they just looked at the young woman with surprise.

    The young woman looked at them and smiled:"I take it you know the name of that technique I used?"

    The black-faced lord said with a shaky voice:"The Jaded Flower Stealth Substitution. Inconceivable by both ghosts and immortals......"

    The young woman said:"Since you know, you must also realizse I am not an imposter."

    The black-faced lord said with a trembling voice:"This lowly ....per...person deserves to die......"

    He used his hands to slap himself hard a few times, making his face look even more swollen and black.

    The young woman said with a sigh:"On behalf of my children, you....you can go now."

    This time they fled even faster, one would almost believe that they had seen a ghost.

    Jiang Feng felt relieved to see them flee, he turned around and and sighed:"Fortunately you had such a technique up your sleeve to scare them away. otherwise......"

    Suddenly he saw that the young woman was in pain and was trembling and sweating, he was shocked and scared and quickly asked:"What is wrong? How do you feel?"

    The young woman said with difficulty:"I.....I.....have used too m....much strength......my water has broken.....now......I am afraid our children will.......come to th...this wor....world......."

    Jiang Feng was frantic when he heard her and was saying to himself:"What shall we do? What shall we do?"

    The young woman said:"Drive the carriage to the side of......the...road. Quick.....quick......"

    Jiang Feng did what she said in a frantic manner, the horse kept neighing loudly and Jiang Feng was sweating heavily now.

    He kept wiping away his sweat and entered the carriage to help his wife to deliver the babies.

    The young woman was panting loudly:”My dear, ……I…..I am afraid….very afraid…..”

    “No need to be afraid……I will protect you…..Everything will be fine.”

    “I am still very afraid, dear…….please hold my….hand…..Hold my hand tightly……”

    “My hands….are weak and trembling too. In a moment the pain will be gone….I promise……”

    Suddenly there was the sound of babies crying .

    Jiang Feng loudly yelled with happiness:”Two…..twins……”

    After awhile he came out of the carriage still sweating and looking very happy and exhilarated, however his happiness made place for shock and fear.

    The pig and rooster have returned again and were standing in front of the carriage coldly observing Jiang Feng.

    Jiang Feng tried to compose himself but one could still see the fear and shock on his face, he exclaimed with shock:”You….you have returned?!?”

    The comb said with an evil smile:”Young master Jiang, are you surprised?”

    Jiang Feng said loudly:”Aren’t you afraid to die?”

    The black-faced lord laughed:”Die?”

    Jiang Feng said sternly:”I know you lot are well-informed about the matters in the realm. The Embroided Jade Valley and the Floral Palace are not new terms to you.”

    Jiang Feng was normally a very gentle and carefree person, but now he was filled with anxiety and rage and his eyes were turning red.

    The black-faced lord laughed:”Jiang Feng, you can stop pretending now! I know and you know it too that the two princesses of the Floral Palace are after you. They are not interested in our lives.”

    Fear struck Jiang Feng in his chest and he broke out in a cold sweat, but he managed to laugh loudly:”I think you’re mad. Why would the princesses of the Floral Palace want my life? Do you realise who is in that carriage?”

    The comb said coldly:”She is just a mere servant of the Floral Palace, a traitor who sneaked out of the palace without permission.”

    Jiang Feng was stunned and his laughter soon died out.

    The black-faced lord laughed:”Young master Jiang, are you surprised? I think you would want to know how we obtained this information. However I am afraid you will never find out.

    It was indeed a secret, Jiang Feng leaving his home to escape the fury of the two princesses of the Floral Palace. Besides himself and his wife practically no one knew of this, how is it possible that these thugs know his secret.

    Jiang Feng did not know and he did not care now, there was crying coming out of the carriage and in front of him were a group of merciless killers.

    Suddenly he moved as quick as lightning and stormed towards the man in yellow robe, the breast of the rooster. The breast used his dual sabres to block Jiang Feng’s attack. His dual sabres were made from precious metal and were designed to slice off people’s heads in a flash. The breast used the sabres to hack at Jiang Feng’s body.

    Jiang Feng did not avoid his hacks instead he gritted his teeth and advanced forward, in a flash he grabbed the wrist of the breast and took a sabre from him.
    Immediately he kicked the breast away, and blocked the hack of the comb. Then he stormed towards the black-faced lord and hacked at him, avoiding the four claws of the feathers. These attacks on Jiang Feng were lethal, vicious and fast fortunately Jiang Feng was not harmed by them. The black-faced lord quickly moved aside avoiding the hack but broke out in a cold sweat and managed to strike out with two fists towards Jiang Feng. The black-faced lord yelled:”Watch out! He is fighting with everything he has!”

    These thugs have wandered the realm long enough to know that if a person is fighting regardless of his own life, he is most difficult to encounter.

    The receivers of dawn avoided Jiang Feng’s attacks and just toured around him.

    Jiang Feng hacked, sliced at his opponents, his every stance was lethal, vicious and regardless of his own life but none of his adversaries were injured. The black-faced lord laughed arrogantly, although the breast only had one sabre left, but the stances of his left hand were very strange and dangerous. Furthermore the feathers combined their attacks were attacking in unison and the comb moved swiftly about lashing attacks on Jiang Feng’s acupoints.

    Jiang Feng’s hair was chaotic now, he was roaring….he was fighting for the woman he loves. This normally gentle, friendly young man had become a beast now. But no matter how hard he fought it was in vain, the lion was trapped, the tiger has been ambushed….he was only prolonging the inevitable.

    It was dusk now, the air was awfully gloomy.

    This fight was albeit soul-stirring, however the outcome was utmost sad. Jiang Feng was bleeding and sweating, all his efforts were repaid with scorn and mockery of his opponents.

    The young woman shouted:"Darling, be careful!......These thugs are no match against you."

    The black-faced lord advanced to the carriage and laughed sinisterly:"Jiang Feng is a very fortunate man.....he's father of twins now."

    Jiang Feng shouted angrilly:"You, fiend! Move away from them!"

    He wanted to storm over, but was blocked by the rooster, he made several attempts to storm towards the black-faced lord but in vain. His eyes were red with anger and sorrow.

    The young woman tightly held on to her babies and yelled:"You, monster.......you.....you......"

    The black-faced lord chuckled:"Little beauty, rest assured we won't harm you now. After you're feeling better, I will hahahahaha......."

    Jiang Feng roared:"Don't even think about touching her!"

    The black-faced lord reached out and stroked the young woman on her cheek and laughed sinsterly:"I have just touched her, what are you planning to do?"

    Jiang Feng cried loudly, because of his rage his stances were flawed now. The sabre, beak and claws immediately attacked viciously and Jiang Feng was injured, his chest, shoulders and back were bleeding heavily now.

    The young woman called out with worry:"Darling, be careful!"

    The black-faced lord laughed:"Your darling will soon become a darling ghost."

    Jiang Feng was covered in blood now and shouted:"You bastard! Even if I die, I will come back to haunt you!"

    There was the roaring of Jiang Feng, the crying of the babies and the sardonic laughter of the pig and the rooster, the combination of these sounds made the entire atmosphere sad and sorrow.

    Blood, Jiang Feng was covered in blood. His face, his entire body......

    The young woman was devastated and shouted:"I'll kill you."

    She put down her babies and leapt towards the black-faced lord and her fingers were aimed at his throat. The black-faced lord simply pushed her back and laughed:"Little beauty, where is your strength now? Weren't you were formidable awhile ago? Poor woman, why did you have to give birth?"

    During his arrogant laughter, the young woman again stormed towards him. The black-faced lord wanted to use the same method to push her back, but this time she embraced him and bit into the throat of the black-faced lord.

    He cried out in pain and blood flowed from the cherry lips of the young woman.

    The taste of her enemy's blood made her feel good, the taste of revenge.

    The black-faced lord was in extreme pain and used full force to strike the young woman down. She fell hard on the ground and could not get up anymore. But at least she sampled the blood of her enemy.

    She smiled tragically and tears welled up in her eyes, she called:"Darling, don't worry about us! Just run.....run....After I am dead the princesses will not trouble you anymore."

    Jiang Feng yelled:"You cannot die!"

    He wanted to storm forward once again, but all the weapons of his enemies had already struck him down, his body was covered with blood and wounds. Before he could reach his loved one, he had already fallen.

    The young woman shrieked and slowly crawled towards him, he did the same thing. Their only wish was to die together. Just when their hands were about to make contact the black-faced lord used his lump foot to step on their hands, almost crushing their hands.

    The young woman yelled with anger:"You, monster!"

    The black-faced lord laughed:"Now, you realise that I am a monster?"

    Jiang Feng roared:"I'll give you anything you want.....anything. I just beg of you let us die together."

    The black-faced lord laughed:"It is too late for that now. Just before you were feeling were happy right, when you tricked and hit me. Now I will let you die slowly and painfully and you can forget about dying together."

    The young woman yelled:"Why? Why? There are no grudges between us."

    The black-faced lord said:"Well, I can tell you that. The reason is we promised someone to torture you and were instructed not to let you two die together."

    Jiang Feng said:"Who.....who? Who is that person?"

    The black-faced lord laughed:"You can guess for yourself."

    The rooster breast returned to his emotionless self and just said coldly:"We don't want their offspring looking for us in the future. We cannot permit these bastards to live."

    The black-faced laughed:"Very true."

    The rooster breast raised his sabre and was about to hack the babies.

    Jiang Feng roared with anger and the young woman was too shocked to say anything.

    However suddenly the sabre broke into two halves.

    The rooster breast staggered back with seven paces and yelled:"Who is there!"

    With the exception of themselves and the heavily injured Jiang Feng and his wife no traces of other people could be seen.

    But how could this sabre just break into two halves.

    The comb was shocked and asked:"What happened?"

    The rooster breast said:"Ghosts! I don't know."

    He advanced forward again and used his half a sabre to hack at the infants again, but again the blade broke. All eyes were focussed on the blade this time, but nobody saw how it broke.

    The rooster breast turned pale and said with a shaky voice:"Could it really be ghosts?"

    The black-faced lord said earnestly:"Let me try."

    He picked up the sabre Jiang Feng dropped and walked to the carriage, he raised the sabre and hacked with full strength and speed towards the babies.

    However in mid-air his hand trembled and missed the babies. Everyone saw that the blade was chipped now.

    The comb said with a shocked voice:"There is someone here."

    The black-faced lord could not laugh anymore and said with his trembling voice:"Although we cannot see the projectile, it must be very small. This person is able to use a tiny projectile invisible to our eyes to break the sabres.....what a remarkable strenght....what a formidable power."

    The rooster breast said with a trembling voice:"It is impossible for someone to have such martial arts. Could it be.....could it be?"

    He trembled and did not dare to say the word [ghosts].

    The heavily injured Jiang Feng was also shocked to see this change of events and muttered softly:"Here.....it must be......"

    The black-faced lord asked:"Who? Do you mean Yan Nantian?"

    Suddenly a voice said:"Yan Nantian? Yan Nantian is nothing."

    This voice sounded sweet, clear and lively and filled with naivety, where did this voice come from especially in a desolated place like this. Everyone was shocked.
    Jiang Feng and his wife already knew who had came and did not bother to raise their heads, they just looked very pale now. The black-faced lord and others were very much afraid now and suddenly turned around and saw a figure standing in the tall gras behind them. It was a slim young woman, how did she come here without being noticed.

    Several metres away from them was the speaker.

    Judging from the voice you would expect a very young and naive little girl, sweet and innocent. But instead they saw a young woman in her twenties, she wore an elegant long gown similar to those worn by palace ladies. She had long beautiful hair, she looked sweet and pretty, prettier than most flowers in the Spring. Her eyes were filled with liveliness and wisdom, but there was also a hint of naivety-----unfitting for her age.

    Just looking at her once, you would know that she is a very complex person and nobody can guess what she is thinking.

    Furthermore one is immediately captivated by her beauty just by one look but one will soon feel sympathy for her. This peerless beauty is handicapped, she is limped even wearing an elegant gown could not hide her handicap.

    When the black-faced lord saw her, he looked very respectful and his fear was somewhat gone.

    He bowed and said:"Forgive me, are you the second princess of the Floral Palace?"

    The beauty said with a smile:"Do you recognize me?"

    The black-faced lord said:"The great name of princess Lianxing is known by all in the realm."

    Princess Lianxing smiled:"You're quite eloquent, just choose your words well."

    The black-faced lord replied:"I wouldn't dare."

    Princess Lianxing smiled softly:"It seems you're not afraid of me."

    The black-faced lord bowed again and smiled respectfully:"This lowly person does...."

    Princess Lianxing interrupted him with a laugh:"Commiting a series of unforgivable crims and you're still not afraid of me. Most strange, don't you know realise that I want your lives in a moment."

    The black-faced lord turned pale but managed to keep his respectful smile:"Your excellency must be joking."

    Princess Lianxing smiled sweetly:"Joking? You injured one of our maids, I cannot let you die too easily. Who is joking with you lot?"

    The black-faced lord laughed nervously:"But these were the wishes of princess Yaoyue....."

    Before he could finish he was slapped a dozen times, similar to his first encounter with Madame Jiang but much harder. His mouth was bleeding now and did not dare to utter a single word.

    Princess Lianxing was still standing there, her hair and gown swaying gently in the wind and looking very careless. But her smile was gone and said coldly:"How dare you mention my sister's name? You're not worthy to utter her name."

    The comb, breast and tail feathers were all shocked beyond words.

    In the end the comb said with a shaky voice:"But these were really the wishes of princess Yao....."

    Before he could finish he too slapped a dozen times, his little body flew up after being slapped and fell down.

    Princess Lianxing laughed:"Strange, you really don't believe I will kill you.....(sigh*)."

    During her sigh she moved forward and twirled around the rooster breast, everyone could not see what she did or even if she attacked. But the rooster breast slowly collapsed without a grunt.

    One of the feathers went over and suddenly yelled:"Dead?!? Old two is dead....."

    Princess Lianxing said:"Now do you believe me?"

    One of the feathers screamed:"You're too vicious!"

    Princess Lianxing said:"What is so bad about his death. You too have killed many people in your days, meeting your end today is just what you deserve."

    The comb looked evil and made a gesture with his hands, and three pairs of rooster claws curled towards princess Lianxing.

    There was a serie of sounds clung, whoosh and aaahhh. Vaguely they could see a figure moving gracefully and swiftly through the chains of iron.

    Three of the feathers were lying on the ground, motionless. One managed to back away for about a metre but his hands were empty, he did not even know how princess Lianxing defeated his partners and how she disarmed himself. It was like he was in a dream, a nightmare.

    Princess Lianxing gently shook her sleeve and 5 claws dropped on the ground with a clanging noise, she was holding one and looked at it. She smiled:"Chicken claws, I wonder how they taste like."

    She opened her delicate cherry shaped mouth and crunk bit off a part of the iron claw, this claw was made from the finest metal in the realm. This claw was also one of the most feared weapons of the realm, but she was able to bit off a piece of it with ease.

    The black-faced lord and the comb were flabbergasted by this rather young woman's martial arts. Other people's martial arts were only focussed on legs, arms, but she----every part of her was martial arts, perfect and excellent martial arts.

    The pig and the rooster were too scared to even move.

    Princess Lianxing shook her head and said:"Oof, it tastes rather bad."

    She gently spat out that piece of claw, the piece of metal flashed through the sky and suddenly the remaining feather called out in pain. He covered his face and was rolling on the ground, blood was oozing out of his face and rolling a few times he stayed motionless. Now the black-faced lord and comb saw that the face of the feather was shattered by that piece of claw, where his face once was was now a bloody, messy wound.

    The black-faced lord knelt down and begged with a shaky voice:"Your excellency, please spare me."

    Princess Lianxing ignored him and asked the comb with a smile:"What do you think of my martial arts?"

    The comb stuttered:"Your excellency's martial arts......I....this lowly person has never seen.....this lowly person has never even dreamt that such martial arts could exist."

    Princess Lianxing asked:"Are you afraid?"

    The comb never thought that someone would ask him such an infantile question, but now being asked this question he obediently said:"Afraid.....very much afraid."

    Princess Lianxing laughed:"Since you're afraid, why aren't you begging for your life."

    The comb knelt down and begged:"Please spare my life, your excellency......." It looked like he was about to cry.

    Princess Lianxing rolled her eyes before she laughed:"If you want me to spare your lives, that will be most easy. All you have to do is hit me with one fist."

    The comb said:"This lowly person would not dare."

    The black-faced lord said:"This lowly person would dream of hitting your excellency."

    Princess Lianxing stared at them and said:"Don't you want to live?"

    The black-faced lord and the comb have asked this question to countless of people in their lives, they would ask this question casually and never expect an answer. Even if they did, they would respond with a fist, scorn and chop of the people who were asked this question.

    But now they were asked that question and it came from princess Lianxing, so they had no choice but to reply and both said together:"This lowly person wants to live."

    Princess Lianxing said:"If you want to live, strike me fast."

    Both reluctantly got up and looked at each other.

    Princess Lianxing smiled:"That is more like it, go ahead and strike me. The harder the better, I promise I won't counter-attack. But if you use too little strenght (humph*)."

    The comb thought: Well, I might as well do as she says. I will attack her with everything I have, if I succeed that would be great. But if I fail no harm will come to me."

    The black-faced lord thought: You brought this one to yourself, don't blame me. Even if you have invincible skills and an iron-like body you cannot withstand my powerful fist."

    Both of them thought they had hope and were very happy but did not show it and pretended to be very sad.

    They said simultaneously:"This lowly person understands."

    Princess Lianxing said:"Well, what are you waiting for?"

    The black-faced lord generated his power and struck out his fists making a whoosing sound, furthermore he threw his full weight into this stance. This attack was both grand and powerful, but the position of his fists kept shifting. It was both agile and uncertain, till the very end it was clear he aimed for the bosom of princess Lianxing. This technique, The Celestial Boar Shifting Into Shape, was his best technique and he killed numerous people in Wulin with this stance.

    The comb flew up too and the beak weapon was twirled into flashes of light and he was aiming for the two major acupoints on princess Lianxing's bosom. Of course he used his special technique too, normally he would not even consider using this attack unless he was really in danger. This stance was called The Morning Rooster Crowing To The Sun, it was said that with this stance alone he killed eight head armed guards of the Power and Might Armed Guard Agency.

    Princess Lianxing laughed:"You really put everything in it."

    During her laughter she used her right hand to gently wave about through the rain of fists and claws, at this point the comb and the black-faced lord noticed that they had no control anymore on their aim. They wanted to retract their stances but it was not possible anymore, they wanted to redirect their aim but that too proved to be impossible.

    Suddenly both of them called out in pain, princess Lianxing was still standing there smiling. The black-faced lord was lying on the ground, while the comb was thrown away for about 2 metres and stayed motionless.

    There were a few moanings but then it died out, the black-faced lord pulled out the claw stuck into his chest and blood was oozing out of his wound.

    He stuttered with pain:"You....you....."

    Princess Lianxing said:"I did not attack you, why did you two attack each other?"

    The black-faced lord looked at her angrilly, his lips moved wanting to say something but not a single sylable could be produced-----never again can he speak again.

    Princess Lianxing sighed:"If you didn't want to kill me and used only half your powers, you would still be alive. I did give you a chance to live, right?"

    Of course nobody could answer her anymore.

    The horse pulling the carriage had died some time ago and the carriage was also pushed over. Jiang Feng and his wife were crawling towards the carriage to pick up their crying sons, just when they are about to reach their babies a beautiful alabaster hand had pushed away the children from their reach.

    Jiang Feng yelled:"Give....give them back to me!"

    The young woman begged loudly:"Your excellency, please give me back my children!"

    Princess Lianxing said:"Good, Yuenu. Very good! You have given Jiang Feng sons."

    She was still smiling but her smile was filled with sorrow, melancholy, resent and hate.

    The young woman, Hua Yuenu pleaded:"Your excellency, I know I am at fault.....I have commited a grave crime....but the children are innocent.....please spare them......."

    Princess Lianxing looked at the babies and softly said:"Children......adorable babies......if they were mine I would be so happy."

    She turned her look to Jiang Feng filled with hatred, resent but also sorrow. She looked at him for awhile before saying melancholically:"Why Jiang Feng? Why did you do that? Why?"

    Jiang Feng said:"Because I love her."

    Princess Lianxing screamed:"Because you love her......My sister is, I don't know how many times better than she is. You were wounded, my sister saved you and took care of you. She had never treated anyone with that much affection but she made an exception for....you......But you ran off with her maid......"

    Jiang Feng gritted his teeth and said:"Since you ask, I will tell you. Your sister is not a living person, she is like fire, a block of ice even a sword. You even can say she is a spirit or an immortal but not a human being.....but she......"

    He now looked at Hua Yuenu, his eyes were filled with love and affection and continued:"She is real, she is a real living person. She does not only treat me with affection, she understands me. She is the only woman in the world who loves my being, my soul and not just my face."

    Princess Lianxing suddenly slapped him and said:"You dare to say that again!"

    Jiang Feng retorted:"Why can't I speak up my mind!"

    Princess Lianxing said:"You only know she is good to you, but do you know how I feel for you? If....your face was destroyed....I would still.....would still....."

    She did not finish her words.

    Hua Yuenu exclaimed with surprise:"Your excellency, you are too....."

    Princess Lianxing said loudly:"What!?! Can't I be good to him? Can I not love him? ......Is it because I am handicapped, but being limp does not make me a lesser human. I am a woman too."

    She has changed, she was not the superior, high and mighty martial arts expert that controlled life and death. She was now an ordinary woman, an ordinary weak and sad woman.

    She was weeping now.

    This practically a legend in the realm of martial arts was weeping, both Jiang Feng and Hua Yuenu were shocked and surprised.

    After some time Hua Yuenu said sadly:"Your excellency, I am near my end.....from now on he is yours. You can save him, you are the only one who can save him."

    Princess Lianxing was trembling the words [from now on he is yours] shot her right into the heart.

    Jiang Feng suddenly laughed arrogantly, his laughter was loud but there was no joy on his face only sadness. His laughter sounded like crying, a tragic cry.

    With tears in his eyes he looked at Hua Yuenu and smiled tragically:"Save me? Who can save me now in this world? If you're gone, how can I continue to live? Yuenu, Yuenu, don't you understand?"

    Hua Yuenu who was crying too, said gently:"Of course I understand you, but if you die what will become of the children....someone has to take care of them."

    Her tone soon turned into weeping too and she was holding Jiang Feng's hand tightly now and continued:"This is our fault, we cannot allow the second generation to share our mistakes. Death is not an escape out of this."

    Jiang Feng's tragic smile died out and made place for despair.

    Hua Yuenu said with a shaky voice:"I know that death is a very easy solution to all problems and that living is much more difficult...But I beg of you for the children you must keep on living."

    Jiang Feng was crying too and was completely dazed, he said softly to himself:"I must keep on living.......Do I really have to keep on living...."

    "Your excellency, please no matter what you have to save him. If you truly love him you cannot watch him die."

    Princess Lianxing said slowly:"Really?"

    Hua Yuenu screamed:"You can save him.....You really must save him."

    Princess Lianxing sighed deeply:"Yes, I can save him....."

    Before she could finish her sentence another voice interrupted her:"Wrong! You cannot save him, no one can save him in this world."

    The voice was both elusive and clear, but also cold and emotionless, yet it was sweet, innocent and captivating.

    Nobody can clearly describe that voice, why is it both horrifying and sweet. Also nobody can forget this voice in his life after hearing it once.

    A simple few words changed the atmosphere again in this desolate area, filled with death, coldness and it seemed that even the setting sun had to make place for the speaker.

    Jiang Feng was trembling heavily now and princess Lianxing turned pale.

    They did not turn around, but a figure in white was now standing in front of them. Nobody could see where she came from or how she appeared in front of them.
    Gracefully the figure stood there dressed in an elegant white gown. She had long beautiful thick hair, her beauty was needless to say matchless. But nobody could descibe her appearances, because no one would dare look her into the face. She had a strange, mystifying threatening charisma which was awesome, making her exceptional, superior and powerful.

    Princess Lianxing bowed her head and bit her lip saying:"Sister, you're here."

    Princess Yaoyue said casually:"Yes, I am here. You did not expect that, did you?"

    Princess Lianxing bowed her head even deeper and asked:"How long were you here?"

    Princess Yaoyue said:"Not too late, I could overhear a lot which normally nobody would share with me."

    Jiang Feng suddenly thought of something and shouted:"You...you...you were here all along. So you were the one who instructed the rooster and pig to return, is it not? You told them about our secret, right?"

    Princess Yaoyue said:"Now you realise that. A bit too late."

    Jiang Feng was torn apart by anger and yelled:"Why? Why did you do that? Why were you that ruthless?"

    Princess Yaoyue said:"Against traitors I have to be ruthless."

    Hua Yuenu could not help but pleades tragically:"Your excellency, this is all my fault. You...you cannot blame him."

    Suddenly princess Yaoyue's tone turned awfully cold and stern:"You...you dare to speak in my presence."

    Hua Yuenu stuttered:"I....I..."

    Princess Yaoyue said:"Very good.....now that you've seen me, you can die now."

    When Hua Yuenu saw her, she was even too afraid to weep anymore. Now she closed her eyes and said:"Thank you, your excellency."

    Jiang Feng shouted:"She tells you to die! Why do you thank her!"

    Hua Yuenu managed to enforce a tragic smile on her face and said:"Because when I die first I am spared the agony of seeing you and the children suffer before you die.....this....this is the leniency her excellency has bestowed upon me. Of course I have to thank her for it."

    She opened her eyes and looked at Jiang Feng and then at her children----that simple gaze was filled with love and said it all.

    Jiang Feng's heart was broken and he shouted:"Yuenu, you can't die.....you cannot die."

    Hua Yuenu said gently:"I am leaving now......I will wait for you......"

    She closed her eyes one more time, but this time forever.

    "Yuenu! Wait, wait....I will accompany you...."

    Somehow he mustered all the strenght he had and staggered over to Hua Yuenu but before he reached her a powerful wind blew him back.

    Princess Yaoyue said:"Just stay there."

    Jiang Feng loudly said:"I have never begged for anything in my life.....but now....but now......I beg of you just let me die together with her.....that is all what I want."

    Princess Yaoyue said:"You will never touch her again."

    Jiang Feng stared at her, if eyes could kill or shoot fire this entire place would be set ablaze now.

    But princess Yaoyue just stood there not moving.

    Suddenly Jiang Feng laughed loudly, his laughter travelled far.

    Princess Lianxing sighed softly:"Why are you laughing?"

    Jiang Feng laughed:"You think you are so powerful! You think you can control life and death, but if I die I can be together with Yuenu. Can you really stop me?"

    During his laughter he rolled aside a few times, and then he stopped his back facing up and his laughter slowly died out.

    Princess Lianxing called out softly and quickly moved over, she turned him around and saw that the tip of a sabre was pierced through his chest.

    It was night now, the moon lit up the entire area.

    Princess Lianxing was kneeling there, not moving only the wind was blowing. After a long time she said softly:"Dead.....he got what he wished for.....but what about us?"

    She got up and walked to princess Yaoyue and shouted:"What about us?......We?....... They have what they wanted. But what do we have?"

    Princess Yaoyue seemed to be oblivious to this outburst and said coldly:"Quiet."

    Princess Lianxing said:"I will not stay quiet, I want to say this. What have you gained by doing this? You just made them love each other more and made them hate you even more."

    Before she could speak again princess Yaoyue slapped her.

    Princess Lianxing backed a bit away from her sister and said with a trembling voice:"You....you...."

    Princess Yaoyue said:"You just know that they hate me.....but do you know how much I hate him. I hate him so much that my heart is bleeding."

    She rolled up her sleeve and said loudly:"Look at this."

    Her alabaster arm which was almost perfect was now covered with tiny puncture wounds.

    Princess Lianxing was shocked and stammered:"This....this...."

    Princess Yaoyue said:"I used a needle to prick myself, ever since they left.....my hatred.....I...I hate.....I used a needle to prick myself. I kept tormenting myself every night, that way I could ease the pain in my heart somewhat. Do you know that! Do you know that!"

    Her voice was not cold anymore, but hysterical and emotional and she was shaking all over.

    Princess Lianxing looked at the wounds on her sister's arm and was shocked, and soon tears welled up in her eyes. She embraced her sister and wept:"I never......never thought that you would feel so much pain too."

    Princess Yaoyue hugged her sister too and looked at the moon, she melancholically said:"Because I am human too......I hate being human, I hate having these emotions. But because of these emotions I am perceptive of jealousy and hate."

    Both sisters embraced each other.......

    In this instant there were not the dreaded female demons of Wulin anymore, but ordinary young women who shared their emotions with each other.

    Princess Lianxing said softly:"Sister......sister.....now I realise......"

    All of a sudden princess Yaoyue pushed her away and said:"Stand straight."

    Princess Lianxing staggered backwards before standing still, she said tragically:"In more than 20 years, this is the first time you embraced me. Even just now you pushed me back I am still very happy."

    Princess Yaoyue ignored her now and said coldly:"Finish it."

    Princess Lianxing asked:"Finish what?"

    Princess Yaoyue said:"The children."

    Princess Lianxing exclaimed with shock:"The children? ......... But they were just born...do you really want to......"

    Princess Yaoyue said:"I cannot permit their children to live! If these children don't die, they will remind me constantly of the betrayal of Jiang Feng and that b-i-t-c-h. Furthermore if they live I will be pursued with agony for the rest of my life."

    Princess Lianxing said:"But I....."

    Princess Yaoyue said:"You don't want to do it?"

    Princess Lianxing said:"I cannot bear to do it."

    Princess Yaoyue said:"Fine! I will do it myself."

    She waved her sleeve casually and a sabre flew up right into her hand, she hurled the sabre and hacked at one of the sleeping babies.

    Suddenly princess Lianxing grabbed the hand of princess Yaoyue tightly, but the tip of the sword had already made a shallow cut on the baby's face.

    The baby cried in pain now.

    Princess Yaoyue said angrilly:"You dare to stop me!"

    Princess Lianxing said:"I....I...."

    Princess Yaoyue said:"Let go of me! Have you ever seen anyone who was capable of stopping me?"

    All of a sudden princess Lianxing laughed:"Sister, I am not stopping you. I just thought of a better to deal with these children, what do we gain by killing two babies who are unaware of anything."

    Princess Yaoyue stared at her and asked:"What do you suggest?"

    Princess Lianxing said:"If you can make these children suffer for the rest of their lives, we will have our revenge. Jiang Feng and Hua Yuenu won't be able to rest in peace if they knew what was going to happen."

    Princess Yaoyue remained pensive for awhile before sighing:"Tell me what you have planned for them."

    Princess Lianxing said:"Now nobody knows that Jiang Feng has twins, right?"

    Princess Yaoyue did not understand what she was hinting at and just said:"Right."

    Princess Lianxing said:"Not even the children know they are twins, right?"

    Princess Yaoyue grunted:"Rubbish!"

    Princess Lianxing said:"That self-proclaimed number one swordsman in the realm Yan Nantian is Jiang Feng's best friend. And he was supposed to meet up with Jiang Feng here. Otherwise Jiang Feng wouldn't take this road....."

    Princess Lianxing continued with a smile:"If we were to take one child away and leave one behind Yan Nantian will sure take care of the remaining one. Furthermore he will teach that child martial arts and tell him to avenge his parents. All we have to do is leave a palm imprint on Jiang Feng's body, he will think the Floral Palace is responsible. So when that child grows up, he will be looking for the Floral Palace."

    Princess Yaoyue was still looking pensive and said:"You're right."

    Princess Yaoyue added:"At that time we will have raised the other child and taught him martial arts too. He will be the only man in Floral Palace and when our arch-enemy will be looking for us he will be our champion. However no one will know that they are actually brothers and that way they will became each others nemeses."

    Princess Lianxing clapped her hands now and smiled:"Exactly, by that time the little brother will kill the older brother or vice versa. Because they're twins, so they're bound to be equals so whether they compete in martial arts or intelligence-----it will be a most bloody, interesting fight."

    On princess Yaoyue's face there was a faint smile now:"Indeed, a most interesting scenario. Even more interesting and better than killing them now. And we will tell the victor, no matter who he is, the truth. I can imagine the look on his face will be most pleasing."

    Princess Lianxing clapped her hands and said:"Very pleasing indeed."

    Suddenly princess Yaoyue said coldly:"However if someone would expose this secret before the right time, than the outcome would not be so pleasing anymore."

    Princess Lianxing said:"But nobody else knows about this....."

    "Except you!" Princess Yaoyue said.

    "Me? I thought of this plan, why would I foil it myself? You should know me by now, I am always fond of an pleasing and interesting plot." Princess Lianxing retorted.

    Princess Yaoyue remained silent for a moment before saying:"Indeed, nobody else can think of such a strange idea except you. You wouldn't foil your own masterplan."

    Princess Lianxing laughed:"This idea may be strange but it is very useful. The best part is that they are twins, but one of them is wounded now on his face. When he grows up, he will be bound to look a bit different now. So nobody will know the truth behind this, they will become each others enemies."

    That wounded baby stopped crying now, it seemed he was scared silent by this evil and maniacal revenge plot. He opened his innocent but startled eyes, he seemed to be aware of his coming disaster and sorrow-----a life filled with misery.

    Princess Yaoyue looked at the babies and said softly:"17 years......I have to wait at least another 17 years......"

    End of chapter 1

  3. #3
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
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    Chapter 2 The Peerless Celestial Sword

    A simple street, an ordinary house filled with friendliness of men.

    It was an ordinary town, the fiery sun brightened up the only street in this town. The sun shone on the banner of a wineshop, which was made from a green cloth. This wineshop was called Taibai Shop.

    It was a simple wineshop in an ordinary small town, business was not very good. The waiter leaning over the counter and was yawning, but there was one customer. But he was too lazy to attend to that customer, for the past two, three days that fellow had came here for wine. He only ordered the cheapest wine in the shop and did not even order dishes to go with the wine.

    This customer was too poor for words, he was so poor that there were holes in his shoes. Which was quite visible now, since he put his feet on the table. He leant his back to the wall and had his eyes closed, he was very tall almost two metres. He looked like a sleeping tiger in this wineshop.

    The sun also shone on his face revealing his thick eyebrows and edgy cheekbones and giving his short beard a greenish colour.

    Suddenly he frowned and used his skinny but huge hand to block the sun and with the other hand holding on to his rusty and practically worthless sword, he yawned a few times too before actually falling into a deep sleep.

    Noon had just passed and everything remained peaceful and quiet in this little town, till suddenly a group of horses swiftly galloped into town and stopped in front of the wineshop. A lot of passers-by took a look at the horses and riders. It was a group of men in rather expensive brocades and all of them entered the little wineshop.

    First man was a big man with a precious sword stuck in his girdle, he looked very proud and it seems that his pimples were extraordinary too. He laughed loudly:"Taibai Shop........such a worthless, shabby shop is called Taibai Shop...."

    Walking behind him was a rather fat man with also a sword in his girdle, he looked like a proprietor of a big restaurant, smiled:"Brother Lei, you're mistaken. Li Taibai* wrote some wonderful poems in his days, but he was a poor man without any power. So living in a shabby place is his style."

    That brother Lei laughed even louder:"Too bad he has been dead for so long, otherwise I would have invited him for a few cups of wine with us. Hey, you! Bring us some fine wine and some fine dishes and be quick!"

    After a few cups of wine they laughed even louder, the tall man in the corner woke up from his nap and stretched himself and said softly:"Riff-raff..riff-raff..."
    Suddenly he hit the table very hard and yelled:"Bring me some wine to quench the vulgair air here."

    That smack and that roar sounded like thunder and all those men jumped up.

    Brother Lei's face changed and stood up, but another rider pulled his sleeve and said softly:"The chief will be here shortly, don't create trouble."

    This man was rather short but he looked quite tough and smart.

    Brother Lei grunted and sat down again, he poured himself another cup and asked:"Third Sun, are you sure that the chief said to meet us here?"

    The short man smiled:"I am sure. Second brother Qian also heard the chief....."

    The fat man interrupted with a laugh:"Yes, this is the place. The chief is here to meet a great hero, so he ordered us to bring the presents here first."

    Brother Lei asked:"Do you know who he is going to meet?"

    Second brother Qian smiled and whispered a name.

    Brother Lei immediately exclaimed with shock:"Him!?! So we're going to meet HIM?!? Why would he even go to a place like this?"

    Second brother Qian said:"If he wouldn't come, why would our chief hurry over."

    Immediately these people quiet down and their laughter also became softer, but they drank more wine now and kept whispering.
    "It is said that he holds a sword given by an immortal, slicing metal like butter and it gives light during the night."

    "Hm, yes! Without such a sword how can he chop off the heads of the ghosts of Mount Yin in a matter of moments."

    At this point all of them removed their swords from their girdles and some even unsheated used their sleeves to polish it.

    Brother Lei laughed loudly:"My sword isn't too bad either, but compared to his it is still lacking a bit. If not I would be as famous as he is."

    Second brother Qian shook his head and said:"No....no.... Even with the same sword it is impossible to be as famous as he is. Not taking other things in account but just his level of perfection in the lightness martial arts...hah! You've seen the walls of Beijing too, he just casually leapt over the wall."

    Brother Lei stuck out his tongue and said:"Really?"

    Second brother Qian continued:"Yes.I heard he was still drinking wine in Beijing in the evening and before dawn he had reached Mount Yin. The ghosts saw a flash of light and all their heads were chopped off.....hah. It was said that the flash of light looked like thunderbolt and everyone in a radius of a few hundred kilometres could see that light."

    The poor tall man was drinking his wine too and used his sleeve to wipe the blade of his sword, but when he heard this he laughed loudly:"Impossible! No one is capable of doing that, and where on earth would one find a sword like that!"

    Brother Lei looked angry now and hit the table, he shouted:"Who is spouting nonsense here! Come out!"

    The tall man did not respond he continued to polish his blade and drinking wine.

    Brother Lei was furious now and jumped up and wanted to go over, he was stopped by second brother Qian. He winked at brother Lei and staggered slowly over to the tall man.

    He smiled:"My friend, it seems you're a practitioner of the sword too. It is not strange that you would not believe our words, but do you realise who we are talking about?"

    The tall man casually and carefree asked with a smile:"Who?"

    Second brother Qian said:"The great hero master Yan, Yan Nantian. Celestial Sword Yan......hahahaha! If you are really a practitioner of the sword you must have heard of him. Now do you believe our words."

    The tall man rolled his eyes and smiled in a silly way:"Yan Nantian? ....... Who is Yan Nantian?"

    Second brother Qian was laughing loudly now:"You haven't heard of Yan Nantian, you're not a learner of the sword."

    The tall man laughed too:"In that way, you must know him! How does he look like and what about that sword....."

    Brother Lei could not control himself anymore and rushed over and used his fist to hit the table bamm, he shouted:"We don't know him either. But we do know he is ten times more handsome than you and his sword is also at least ten times superior than that rusty piece of garbage you have."

    The tall man laughed:"It seems that you are armed guards, how can it be that you have such poor eyesight. Although I am not handsome, but this sword of mine....."

    Brother Lei laughed loudly:"Don't tell me that rusty piece of iron of yours is some sort of treasure."

    "This sword of mine is really an invaluable treasure. It cuts through metal like tofu."

    Everyone in the wineshop started to laugh now.

    Brother Lei laughed:"If that sword of yours is really a priceless treasure, we should at least treat you to a good meal. And....."

    The tall man stood up now and interrupted him:"Allright, draw your sword and we will test my sword."

    When he was seated, there was nothing seemingly impressive about him. But now he stood up, brother Lei unintentionally backed a bit away from him. Second brother Qian was a fat man but compared to his muscular and big body he looked like a skinny man. His shoulders were very broad and his arms were long and his hands were big.

    At this point a pale young man in a green robe entered the wineshop and when he saw what was happening he leaned over the counter and chuckled.

    Brother Lei drew his precious sword made from fine metal and mustered his courage, he roared:"Allright! I will test your sword."

    The tall man said:"Use all the strength you have."

    Brother Lei laughed arrogantly:"Watch out! Don't blame me if you're injured."

    He twirled his sword and hacked at the sword of the tall man.

    The tall man was holding a cup of wine in his left hand and casually used his sword to intercept that blow and everyone heard craaannng. Brother Lei backed away with two paces and was holding half a sword now, everyone was surprised and nobody believed their eyes.

    The tall man touched his sword and laughed:"What do you think?"

    Brother Lei swallowed his saliva and stammered:"A wonderful sword, a true treasure."

    The tall man sighed:"Unfortunately such a treasure is wasted in my hands."

    Brother Lei's eyes gleared up and said:"My friend......do...do you have intentions of selling this....magnificent weapon?"

    The tall man said:"I have the intention but I haven't met the right buyer yet."

    Brother Lei was very happy and one could see it on his face:"I....me....what do you think of me as a buyer?"

    The tall man examined him carefully for a moment and said:"Well, you do have somewhat of the grandeur of a hero in you and fit this sword quite nicely....but....but.....your knowledge is only mediocre. I wonder how high your bid is first."

    Brother Lei was very happy and said:"We can talk about that.....we can discuss a reasonable price."

    He gathered his friends around and were softly discussing this deal, in awhile all of them reached for their money bags. They were seeing how much each could spare.

    The tall man did not pay any attention to it and continued to drink wine.

    After some time, brother Lei walked over and said carefully:"How about 500 taels of silver......"

    The tall man stared at him and said:"How much?"

    Brother Lei immediately laughed:"How about 1000 taels of silver, would that be enough? To be honest we have emptied our money bags and this is all we can muster together."

    The tall man remained pensive for a moment before saying:"This sword is a priceless treasure, as the saying goes vermillion cosmetics are only fit for a beauty and a good sword only fits a true hero. Allright, it is a deal. I will sell this sword to you for 1000 taels of silver."

    Brother Lei never thought he would agree that fast, he was afraid that he would change his mind and quickly gave the tall man the silver and laughed:"Here is your 1000 taels of silver, please count them for yourself."

    The tall man put the silver in his bag and laughed:"No need to count it, I believe you. The sword is here, only the chosen one is fit to wield such an immortal sword. Do be humble in the future, otherwise even an immortal sword can turn into a piece of worthless iron."

    Brother Lei said happily:"Of course....of course."

    He took the sword with both hands and was estatic, like he had found a priceless treasure. Which he did.

    The tall man took out an ingot of silver and threw it on the table, he stretched himself and yawned one more time before laughing:"This round is on me, I'm off."

    Without looking back, he walked out the wineshop with big paces.

    The young man in green robe looked at brother Lei and his friends and chuckled one more time before following the tall man.

    Brother Lei was so happy that he almost forgot his family name.

    Second brother Qian smiled:"Now that our brother Lei has such a marvellous sword, he will be practically invincible. The realm will become brother Lei's playing field."

    Brother Lei laughed proudly:"Thank you....thank you..... Well, I have thank all my good brothers here for helping out. Hahahahaha, it seems that luck has changed for me, if not how would such a golden opportunity ran up to me."

    Second brother Qian said:"With this sword even Yan Nantian will turn pale, I think our armed guard agency will have a new chief soon."

    Brother Lei laughed even happier now:"If that really happens, I will not forget my good brothers here."

    He was holding his sword tightly, he did not whether to sit or to stand....he was so exhilarated that he had lost all track.

    A voice from outside laughed:"Why are all of you so happy?"

    A man stepped walked into the wineshop, this man was rather short but looked very tough and intelligent and his eyes were sharp. Furthermore he had an impressive grandeur as he walked and moved, with one look you would know that he is the sort of person who is accustomed to giving orders.

    Second brother Qian and others got up and smiled apologetically:"Chief Shen..."

    They were all talking through each other and explained to chief Shen what just happened.

    Chief Shen smiled:"Really? Congratulations for acquiring such a splendid weapon.You're most lucky."

    Brother Lei laughed too and started to walk over to chief Shen, but suddenly he realised his new status with his new sword and stood still.

    He laughed:"Chief...brother Shen is right. I am most fortunate to have acquired this magnificent sword."

    He changed very fast and he also changed the way of addressing chief Shen.

    Chief Shen did not notice the change and smiled:"To be honest I too would like to admire this weapon. Brother Lei, would you mind?"

    Brother Lei laughed:"This is easy! Brother Shen, go ahead."

    Chief Shen said:"Brother Qian, could I use your sword for a moment?"

    After borrowing the sword of second brother Qian, he rolled up his sleeve and smiled:"Brother Lei, be careful now."

    Chief Shen twirled the sword and hacked at the sword of brother Lei, brother Lei imitated that tall man. He too was holding a cup in his left hand now and was about to drink when he saw that the sword was coming at him with quite some speed, he immediately used his sword to intercept.

    clang, clang, clang, baafff could be heard. Indeed a sword was broken but not the sword of chief Shen, it was the precious sword of brother Lei which was broken now.

    The first clang was met the two swords met, the second clang was when the blade broke and dropped on the ground, the thrid clang was when brother Lei dropped his cup. As for the baaafff sound, that was brother Lei falling.

    Brother Lei sat on the floor totally confused and shocked, he did not spoke but was totally flabbergasted.

    Chief Shen threw the sword back to second brother Qian and scoffed:"Some splendid weapon!"

    Brother Lei put on a pitiful face and stuttered:"But I.....he.....it was......"

    Chief Shen coldly said:"Just awhile ago you were deceived."

    Now brother Lei leapt up and shouted:"I am going to look for that fiend now!"

    Chief Shen ordered:"Stop!"

    Brother Lei instantly obeyed and stood still, he asked:"Chief...chief, what are your orders?"

    He adressed chief Shen differently again, but chief Shen seemed to be oblivious to that change and coldly asked:"Do you remember how that man looked like?"

    Brother Lei said:"Just like some ordinary poor low-life, just a bit tall."

    Chief Shen remained pensive for a moment, suddenly he turned pale and asked:"Did he have thick eyebrows? And were his cheekbones edgy? And were his eyes half-closed the entire time, like he was about to doze of into a sleep?"

    Brother Lei said:"Yes, chief. Do you know him?"

    Chief Shen looked at him for a moment and looked at second brother Qian, then he sighed:"You have been working for me for a great deal of years, haven't you learnt anything in all those years?"

    Brother Lei did not dare to look up and only said:"Yes....yes...."

    Chief Shen asked:"Do you know who that man was?"

    All those men looked at each other before asking:"Who?"

    Chief Shen said slowly:"He is number one peerless celestial sword of the realm, Yan Nantian. He also the man I deliberately wanted to pay respects too this time."

    After he heard that brother Lei fell down once again.

    That pale-looking young man was following Yan Nantian after both of them had abandoned the main street, he said:"Are you master Yan?"

    Yan Nantian continued walk grandly and just asked earnestly:"Are you sent by second brother Jiang?"

    The young man answered:"Yes, I am. My name is Jiang Qin, I am the page of young master Jiang."

    Yan Nantian now turned around and sternly said:"Why are you so late?"

    It looked like his eyes shot out fire and Jiang Qin was terrified and trembled, he stuttered:"I....I....was afraid of being followed, so I only travelled after sunset....although I have been working for young master Jiang since I was a small boy, but my lightness martial arts are very bad."

    Yan Nantian was somewhat pacified by this answer and had his eyes half-closed again now, he asked:"Your master sent me a letter saying that he will meet up with me here. He did not explain why, but I take it is of great importance. Tell me what has happened."

    Jiang Qin said:"Master Jiang has sold all his belongings for some reason, he has also dismissed all his servants except me. He instructed me to meet up with master Yan first. Master said that he will explain everything to master Yan when he sees master Yan. It seems....it seems that.....the young master is running from....from....some great, formidable enemy."

    Yan Nantian was surprised and said:"Hmm? Really! Why didn't he tell me earlier? .....(sigh*) Second brother is a bit too muddle-headed, even if there is some formidable nemesis the two of us can handle it."

    Jiang Qin bowed and respectfully said:"Of course."

    Yan Nantian asked:"When did your master set out?"

    "Judging from the day he left, he should be here in a matter of hours."

    "You should have travelled faster! If something would happen......"

    Suddenly a voice shouted:"Master Yan.......master Yan......"

    A group of people were running towards Yan Nantian, the first man was rather short but looked tough and intelligent. His lightness martial arts were very good, it was chief Shen.

    Yan Nantian frowned and asked seriously:"Are you the chief of the united armed guards agency of Zhenyuan, Weiyuan and Lingyuan? The famous Shen Qinghong, Flying Petals Through The Sky And Descending Without A Sound."

    Shen Qinghong respectfully bowed and said:"Master Yan, I wouldn't dare to claim such a title, please forgive my guard's ignorance."

    Yan Nantian laughed:"I was a bit upset when I heard them saying that they wanted to invite the poem immortal for wine. On your behalf I could not just hit them, but at least I had to let them pay somehow for their insolence."

    Shen Qinghong bowed deeper:"Yes, they are too rude and deserve to be punished severly."

    Yan Nantian stopped laughing now and asked:"Are you here to see me?"

    "This humble disciple has come to pay his respects to you, master Yan."

    Yan Nantian was only a few years older than Shen Qinghong and Shen was also a respected martial artist in the realm. However his own reputation paled in comparison with Yan Nantian's fame, that is why he adressed himself as a junior in front of Yan Nantian.

    Yan Nantian sternly asked:"How did you know I was here?"

    "This humble disciple was quite frantic when I met up with an elder who directed me to this place. He said that master Yan will come here within these two days, that is why I hurried over."

    Yan Nantian laughed happily:"That drunkard has slipped his tongue again....."

    He turned around and looked at brother Lei who was still holding half a sword now, he laughed to brother Lei:"I take it you're still confused."

    Brother Lei lowered his head and said:"This lowly disciple.....I.....this sword...."

    Shen Qinghong chided:"You're a total embarrassement! Don't you know that master Yan without a sword is even superior to all renowned swordsmen with a sword. Any old piece of iron becomes a powerful weapon in the hands of master Yan."

    Yan Nantian smiled:"You must have something to ask of me, otherwise you wouldn't flatter me that much with such nice words."

    Shen Qinghong sighed:"To be honest master Yan I recently received an order to protect a large treasure, which is practically priceless. Nobody even knew about this order but somehow the 12 Zodiacs got wind of it. They sent me a [dawn receiving invitation] saying that they will raid my convoy, that is why I do not dare to escort this convoy now."

    Yan Nantian said:"Are you asking me to protect the convoy?"

    "This humble disciple wouldn't dream of asking master Yan to do that. But I have arranged to meet the 12 Zodiacs nearby, I was wondering if master Yan would accompany me. Master Yan only needs to give a few orders and the 12 Zodiacs won't even consider raiding anymore."

    Yan Nantian said seriously:"If you don't have the capabilities to protect the convoy, why did you accept the order in the first place?"

    "I deserve to die....I deserve to die.....I just beg of master Yan...."

    "The 12 Zodiacs are infamous thugs, and they really know to hide themselves from the outside world. I too have long planned on ridding the realm of them, it is not that I do not...."

    Shen Qinghong was very happy and said:"Thank you, master Yan."

    Yan Nantian shook his head and said:"Don't thank me, although I would like to help you but I have another pressing matter to attend to right now. That cannot be delayed."

    After he finished he turned around and walked away.

    Shen Qinghong was startled and called out panickly:"Please wait, master Yan."

    He waved his hand and second brother Qian walked up with a chest, Shen Qinghong opened the chest and it was filled with golden ingots.

    Shen Qinghong knelt down respectfully and said:"This lowly disciple knows that master Yan is unrestrained when it comes to using money, so I....."

    Yan Nantian laughed arrogantly now and said sternly:"Shen Qinghong, even if you put all the gold in the world in front of me I will not delay my meeting with my brother Jiang Feng....."

    He tapped on the shoulder of Jiang Qin and said loudly:"I am going first, follow me."

    After saying that he was about 30 metres away now.

    Shen Qinghong turned pale now, second brother Qian said softly to himself:"A most peculiar man, going through all that effort just to cheat us out of 1000 taels of silver, but when offered a chest full of gold, he just casually goes away....."

    In the boundless twilight it was impossible to see Yan Nantian clearly, he was moving with utmost speed and it seemed like a greyish shadow floating through the woods.

    He could only hear the wind, no sounds of a horse, carriage whatsoever.

    Still travelling with great speed, Yan Nantian thought: Strange, brother Jiang should be on this road by now....

    He looked up and saw two birds flying, one was a weak swallow the other was a hawk.

    The swallow was tired and weak, and in a moment it would fall prey to the claws of the hawk.

    Yan Nantian roared:"Audacious hawk! Just like humans picking on the weak!"

    Yan Nantian's family name was [Yan] meaning swallow----so he felt obliged to help out the swallow here.

    He was angered and leapt up like an arrow towards the hawk, the hawk spread its' wings and dove towards the swallow. Hence Yan Nantian missed the hawk and the swallow was injured by the claws of the hawk.

    The hawk seemed to be thrilled and had captured the swallow in its claws. And Yan Nantian roared:"Impressive, you managed to escape my attack!"

    He roared again and leapt up once more, he powerful gust of energy hit the hawk and the hawk made a somersault and landed on the ground.

    Yan Nantian laughed:"Brother, brother....if you could see me now. With my bare hands killing a hawk."

    He walked over and freed the swallow from the hawk's claws. The swallow was injured badly and could not fly anymore.

    Yan Nantian said softly:"Good little swallow, just be patient. You won't die...."

    He sat down on the ground and took out some herbal medicinal ointment and carefully attended to the wounds of the swallow. It took some time but gradually the swallow was able to fly a bit about again.

    The medicinal ointments used by this great hero were of course only the superior kinds.

    The swallow flew a few times around Yan Nantian before it flew into the twilight again.

    Yan Nantian laughed at himself:"10.000 taels of gold could not delay me, but a mere little swallow took up so much of my time."

    He was laughing happily and continued to walk forward.

    Suddenly he heard cries of a baby from afar.

    Yan Nantian was very happy and thought:"Could it be that my brother has a child now?"

    He moved as fast as he could towards the crying sound, when he reached that spot he saw a tragic scene, corpses everywhere......

    Yan Nantian was gone out of sight, even Jiang Qin was gone now. But Shen Qinghong still stood there dazed.

    Second brother Qian asked worriedly:"Chief, when will you meet up with the 12 Zodiacs?"

    Shen Qinghong answered:"Tonight."

    Second brother Qian called out with fear and shock:"Tonight?!? ......Where?"

    "Just further ahead."

    "H...how many of them?"

    "On the dawn receiving invitation, there were the names of the black-faced lord, the receivers of dawn, presenter of fruit and the welcomers."
    "......So....so.....the pig, rooster, dog and monkey will all be present....."

    "Exactly."

    Second brother Qian's voice changed even more now:"Chief, let us get out of here while we still can. We...we cannot...."

    Shen Qinghong grunted coldly:"You can leave now."

    "But what about you, chief?"

    "I have received the order myself to protect the treasure of the customer, I cannot back away from my responsibility. You....."

    He did not finish and started to walk forward.

    Second brother stepped forward and called:"Chief....."

    But stood still again.

    Brother Lei said:"What? Aren't you going?"

    Second brother Qian said softly:"Well, let him do the honourable thing! We don't have that responsiblity."

    Brother Lei was furious and scolded loudly:"Cowards! All of you are cowards! I, Lei Xiaohu, won't be like you."

    Second brother Qian said:"Fine! We're cowards and you're a hero."

    Lei Xiaohu shouted:"Cowards! Well, at least I have seen your true natures!"

    He continued to curse them and started to follow Shen Qinghong.

    Shen Qinghong moved forward with big steps but he was most cautious, he was headed for the twilight.

    He heard someone was following him and stopped, he did not turn around and said:"Is it Lei Xiaohu?"

    Lei Xiaohu answered:"Yes, chief. It's me."

    Shen Qinghong sighed:"I knew you were the only one who would accompany me."

    "Chief, just hearing that I will lay down my life for you. Lei Xiaohu may be an idiot but he's not a coward, but chief, this time...."

    "You're surprised why I did not invite any of my friends to join me."

    "Yes, I am a bit surprised."

    "Each of the 12 Zodiacs have a special skill, only a few people in the realm are able to defeat them. If I have asked my friends to assist me, they will help without any hesistation even if they don't want to come. They will accompany me because of a sense of righteousness, but how can I stand by and see my friends getting killed."

    Lei Xiaohu looked up and said with awe:"The chief will always remain the chief! Even if I had your martial arts I can never become the chief of the three united armed guard agencies...."

    All of a sudden he was interrupted by the howling of a dog.

    It is not strange to hear dogs howling in desolated areas, but this dog sounded awfully eerie.

    Lei Xiaohu's face changed and said:"Are they here...."

    Suddenly all the dogs in the area seemed to start howling.

    Lei Xiaohu was a rather courageous man normally, but now he was trembling, but when he saw that Shen Qinghong was not impressed by the howling. He mustered his courage and said with an enforced smile:"The 12 Zodiacs are quite mysterious...."

    Shen Qinghong said earnestly:"The 12 Zodiacs love to terrorize people, scaring them first before attacking. We shan't fall for their tricks."

    Lei Xiaohu put up his chest and said loudly:"Who is afraid! There are no cowards here!"

    Even though he said that he was quite terrified in his heart. It was dark, dogs howling a desolated area in the middle of nowhere, quite soul-stirring.

    Shen Qinghong put his fists together to form a greeting and said clearly:"Where are the 12 Zodiacs? Shen Qinghong of Luoyang City is here to meet you."

    He was a short man but his voice travelled far and outvoiced the howling of the dogs, showing that his internal strenght was quite good.

    In the dark two figures appeared, looked like a man riding a horse or some sort. On closer look it was just a gibbon riding on a big dog with fierce teeth.

    This dog was extremely big, it even resembled a wolf or even a small tiger. It was growling the entire time, intimidating people. The gibbon's eyes were very twinkly even scary. This dog and monkey seemed to have come from the netherworld.

    When the dog and monkey stood in front of Shen Qinghong, the monkey presented a peach.

    Shen Qinghong scoffed:"Marvellous indeed the divine dog welcomes the guest and the sacred monkey presents fruit! But I am here to meet the people of the 12 Zodiacs not these animals."

    The gibbon seemed to understand human tongue and made a somersault and presented a white cloth.

    It was written:
    If you eat the peach, we will see you.

    Shen Qinghong sneered:"If the 12 Zodiacs are really underhanded low-life, Shen Qinghong would not have come......I trust you, but even if it is poison I do not fear it."

    He was about to reach out and take the peach, but Lei Xiaohu beat him to it and gobbled up the peach.

    He laughed:"A free peach, such a waste not to eat it."

    Now a sinister voice laughed:"Not surprising why the Three Yuan Armed Agency is so famous, you seem to have a few courageous men working for you."

    Eight figures appeared from the dark laughing.

    Shen Qinghong was a short and skinny man, but this man was even skinnier than Shen Qinghong. He wore a golden-coloured brocade, he had a monkey face. You could say he only resembled a man for 30% and the other 70% was monkey.

    The other seven men were black robes and had a cloth covering their faces only revealing their sinister eyes.

    Shen Qinghong said:"You must be......"

    The man in the golden-coloured robe chuckled:"Judging by our appearances you must know who we are."

    Shen Qinghong coldly said:"I was just surprised why the black-faced lord and the receivers of dawn aren't here."

    The golden monkey constellation laughed strangely:"They have another appointment, I think we will be more than enough to deal with you."

    Shen Qinghong laughed clearly:"I am here by myself, I have no intentions of returning alive. I would be pleased if I could meet a few more of the 12 Zodiacs, I would be somewhat disappointed if I didn't."

    The golden monkey constellation laughed evilly:"Well said, I knew you have courage. And it seems your tongue is also not too bad either, no wonder you are the chief of the three united armed agencies. It would be a shame to lose that position today."

    Shen Qinghong said sternly:"I am not here to debate with you!"

    "You want to fight?"

    "Exactly! If I win, you will have to leave my convoy alone."

    "What happens if you lose? Will you leave behind the treasure?"

    Shen Qinghong laughed:"The treausure is being protected by the vice-chief of my agancy, dual rods Song Deyang. He is leading the convoy to its' destination as we speak, I am here to distract your attention."

    The golden monkey constellation waved his hand and one of the black dog stars handed him a small wooden box, he opened the box and shouted sinisterly:"Take a look at this!"

    It was a head, it was the head of the dual rods Song Deyang.

    Shen Qinghong's face turned pale now and shouted:"YOU.....YOU....."

    The golden monkey constellation laughed:"If we're so easily deceived we wouldn't be feared throughout the realm for so long. We have the treasure, we came here to claim your head."

    He waved his hand and ordered:"Attack!"

    The gibbon leapt up and stormed at Shen Qinghong, its' claws were aimed for the eyes of Shen Qinghong.

    That big dog also leapt towards Lei Xiaohu, Lei Xiaohu tried to avoid that jump. But the dog was very agile in spite of being so big and it had already jumped on Lei Xiaohu. The dog opened its' mouth and was about to bite Lei Xiaohu on the throat, Lei Xiaohu tried his best to push away the head of the dog. Both man and dog were fighting like beasts now, the dog was growling and Lei Xiaohu was roaring.

    Shen Qinghong struck two stances at the gibbon, but the monkey was also very agile and avoided those attacks and was still aiming for the eyes of Shen.
    The golden monkey constellation laughed:"What a joke, the armed guards of the Three Yuan agency cannot even defeat a few animals."

    After he finished Shen Qinghong reached for his girdle and took out his 3 metre long pliable silver whip, he whirled his whip around and the gibbon was forced back.
    Shen Qinghong chided:"Nowhere to run!"

    Suddenly ten odd metallic projectiles were shot out, half of them were aimed at the gibbon and the others at the black dog stars and the golden monkey constellation. Although the gibbon was agile, he could not avoid the famous secretive weaponry skills of this skilled martial artist. The gibbon was hit and died on the spot, while the golden monkey constellation and the black dog stars leapt up.

    The golden monkey constellation yelled:"Impressive! Worthy of being called [flying petals through the sky]!"

    All eight of them attacked Shen Qinghong, even if Shen had three heads and six arms he could not avoid this joint attack. He rolled away from their storm and wielded his whip like a shield protecting his chest, but his eight adversaries had gained the advantage now and there was no escape anymore for Shen Qinghong.
    While the big dog had bitten into the shoulder of Lei Xiaohu and he bit the dog in his throat, both were still wrestling in a pool of their own blood.

    At this point a loud roar startled all of them, the roar sounded like a big thunder and a figure descended from nowhere------like a god.

    The golden monkey constellation and the black star dogs were too surprised to attack and they saw a tall, muscular man about two metres tall. His eyes were red and furious, his hair chaotic and his face was filled with hatred. One look was enough to scare the living daylights out of anyone, but strange enough he was carrying a baby on his back.

    Shen Qinghong who was thrilled and called out with joy:"Master Yan!"

    The golden monkey constellation's face changed and called out:"Yan Nantian?"

    Yan Nantian roared:"The 12 Zodiacs, prepare to die!"

    The golden monkey constellation retorted:"There are no animosities between you and us, why....."

    Before he could finish his sentence, Yan Nantian had already reached one of the black dog stars. That man was terrified and raised his fists and struck Yan Nantian twice on the chest bom, bom. However Yan Nantian was not at all affected, but the wrists of that black dog star were broken now. Before he could cry out in pain, Yan Nantian had already grabbed him by his chest, in his anxiety he kicked towards Yan Nantian with everything he had.

    He was a practitioner of the northern martial arts school form formless kicks, it was indeed formless and unexpected. Which were the characteristics of this style.
    Yan Nantian grabbed his leg without even looking with one loud roar he ripped that black dog star into two pieces, blood splattered all over Yan Nantian's body.
    The other six black dog stars called out in anger and stormed towards Yan Nantian.

    These seven black dog stars were not first rate martial artists in the realm, but because they have trained together and fought and each others' side for many years they had developed a sort of attack formation. This attack formation was quite lethal, even with six stars now.

    Shen Qinghong could help himself to say:"Master Yan, be careful!"

    Yan Nantian stormed towards them, he was like a tiger entering a herd of sheep, those two parts of corpses became two iron maces in the hands of Yan Nantian. There was a rain of blood, it was the blood dripping from the corpse.

    In just a matter of seconds there were cries like aaahhhh, cruck, three of them had already died now. One gritted his teeth and stormed towards Yan Nantian, Yan Nantian used one corpse part to strike out and hit that man on the chest. He was killed instantly, all the bones in his chest were smashed.

    Another one was too shocked to fight anymore and turned around to run away.

    Yan Nantian laughed arrogantly and chucked one half of the body towards him, that body hit the man on the back. The man screamed but his legs continued to walk a few steps, but his upper body fell backwards. His spine was snapped into two.

    The remaining one hoped that Yan Nantian did not see him and sneaked behind hoping to use the baby as a hostage.

    But it was like Yan Nantian had eyes in his back and shouted:"Stop right there!"

    The man was stunned by the roar of Yan Nantian, Yan Nantian used the remaining half of the body to hit him on the head. Blood splattered everywhere including on Yan Nantian's face. The last black star dog was killed too, half his body sank into the ground, it was like he was a nail and Yan Nantian used a hammer to hit him.
    Shen Qinhong had goosebumps now and even a thug like the golden monkey constellation who was used to killing was scared stiff.

    Yan Nantian roared to him:"Do you want me to kill you personally?"

    The golden monkey constellation stuttered:"Why.....why?"

    Yan Nantian yelled angrilly:"Why? Do you know that Jiang Feng is my sworn brother!"

    The golden monkey constellation exclaimed:"The pig....is...are they..."

    Yan Nantian said:"Everyone else is dead, there is no point for you to live either. Die!"

    When he finished he had reached the golden monkey constellation and with his iron palms he grabbed the chest of the golden monkey constellation and lifted him up.
    But the golden monkey constellation did not move and fight back, Yan Nantian put force into his palms and his fingers penetrated the fles of the golden monkey constellation.

    But still he did not cry out in pain nor grunt.

    Yan Nantian said:"I am surprised that a small man like you can withstand pain this well. Normally I would spare you, but today.....(*humph)...What do you have to say?"

    The golden monkey constellation started to laugh loudly now and said:"I am surprised that a tall, tough fellow like you isn't a real man."

    At this point if he would curse Yan Nantian, Yan Nantian would not be surprised and ignore his cursings. But this sentence surprised Yan Nantian and he shouted:"I have roamed the realm for a long time, my deeds are known by all. And it is not strange that people will curse me behind my back, but it is only natural evil and good cannot coexist with each other. But I would like to hear what you mean with that sentence."

    The golden monkey constellation sneered:"You're muddle-headed, unclear in who you real enemy is. You call yourself a true man!"

    Yan Nantian angrilly said:"I...."

    The golden monkey constellation loudly interrupted him:"If you really know how to distinguish right and wrong, you will not kill me."

    Yan Nantian asked:"Why can't I kill you?"

    The golden monkey constellation asked:"Why do you want to kill me?"

    Yan Nantian sternly said:"Because of my brother Jiang...."

    Again the golden monkey constellation loudly interrupted him:"Right! If you kill me for another reason I have nothing to say. But if you kill me to avenge Jiang Feng than you are at wrong."

    Yan Nantian angrilly said:"So in other words the 12 Zodiacs did not raid my brother Jiang Feng?"

    The golden monkey constellation said:"You're right again, we did raid Jiang Feng. But we are robbers, you should know that. We steal and rob from the rich, that is what we do. There is no point debating about that, but you should kill the one who informed us of the route of Jiang Feng. Do you want to know who that is?"

    He spoke with boldness and not showing any sign of fear, Yan Nantian was filled with hatred but was still stunned by his words.

    The golden monkey constellation laughed arrogantly:"You're not looking for the real killers, but you came looking for us. Even if you killed all the 12 Zodiacs you wouldn't have avenged Jiang Feng."

    Yan Nantian looked pensive for awhile before shouting:"The one leaking information to you is that the page of my brother? Is it Jiang Qin, that little bastard! He was the only one who knew the route of my brother."

    The golden monkey constellation's face changed a bit and scoffed:"Right! You're not just a simple buff, it seems you do have a brain. Jiang Feng was betrayed by his trusted page, for only 3000 taels of silver."

    Yan Nantian almost exploded with anger and cursed:"THE BASTARD!.....THE BASTARD......"

    The golden monkey constellation coldly asked:"Do you know where the bastard is now?"

    Yan Nantian turned around and asked loudly:"Shen Qinghong, did you see where that bastard went to?"

    Shen Qinghong was also flabbergasted by his intimidating grandeur, he knew that Yan Nantian had no bad intentions towards him. But nonetheless he was terrified and stammered:"This...I...I....did not notice where he went off to?"

    Yan Nantian lifted the golden monkey constellation even higher and shouted:"You know where he is, right?"

    The golden monkey constellation remained calm and said:"If I didn't know, I wouldn't have talked so much."

    Yan Nantian roared:"Where is he?"

    The golden monkey constellation was still very calm and unaffected by his roar and asked with a smile:"What if I don't want to tell?"

    Yan Nantian looked at his calm face and said slowly:"If you don't tell, I will respect you."

    If he shouted that he will the golden monkey constellation or cut off his arms, legs etc. He wouldn't be afraid, because he knew that Yan Nantian needed his information on the whereabouts of Jiang Qin. But when he heard what Yan Nantian said, he shivered and asked:"What...what if I told you?"

    Yan Nantian said:"If you tell me I will only take your eyes!"

    Shen Qinghong almost called out with surprise and thought: Yan Nantian is quite unreasonable. If he is speaking he will take away his eyes, this way the monkey will never talk.

    But before he finished his thought he heard the golden monkey constellation sigh:"Blind is better than dead, allright I accept your terms."

    Yan Nantian shouted:"Talk!"

    The golden monkey constellation said:"Even if I told you, you wouldn't dare to go."

    "I fear nobody and nowhere."

    The golden monkey constellation had his eyes half-closed before saying with a strange grin:"Jiang Qin is no fool either. He knows that the 12 Zodiacs kill without thinking twice. He had the nerve to bargain with us, so isn't he afraid to lose his head."

    Yan Nantian said:"Hmm, continue."

    The golden monkey constellation said:"The reason for him being so bold is simple, he has found a good hiding-place. The 3000 taels of silver will cover his expenses, even if the 12 Zodiacs combined we wouldn't dare to enter that place."

    Yan Nantian laughed sternly:"Floral Palace? That is one of the places I was planning on going anyway."

    The golden monkey constellation said:"The Floral Palace isn't the only sacred, forbidden place in the realm."

    Yan Nantian shouted:"Mount Kunlun and [the Valley of Evil]......"

    When Yan Nantian uttered these few words, Shen Qinghong who was listening attentively was starting to tremble and said loudly:"Master Yan, you...you cannot go there."

    Yan Nantian looked at the golden monkey constellation sternly and roared:"Are you telling the truth?"

    The golden monkey constellation replied:"I have told you what I know. It is up to you whether you believe me or not."

    Shen Qinghong said with a shaky voice:"The valley of evil is the gathering spot of all the most evil thugs in the realm. Rogues who have been forced to leave the realm and seek a new hide-away, the valley is packed with all the most vile and cruel martial artists of the world. Everyone in that valley is hated by all, but because they have consolidated themselves in the valley no one dares to look for them. Even the Seven Swords of Kunlun, the Four Divine Elders of Shaolin and the swordsman of the south Feng Xiaoyu would not....."

    Yan Nantian said earnestly:"I am not a Shaolin divine elder, nor am I the swordsman of the south."

    Shen Qinghong said:"I know that the swordsmanship of master Yan is matchless throughout the realm, but the valley of evil......the valley is filled with all kinds of evil monsters from the past and present....."

    Yan Nantian said loudly:"It is my responsibility to go there, even if I have to cross mountains of fire I will not be discouraged."

    Shen Qinghong said loudly:"But what if the golden monkey constellation is deceiving you, he hates you to the bone. That is why he wants you to go to the valley of evil to meet ....."

    He did not say the last word but it was evident what he was going to say.

    Yan Nantian laughed loudly:"Even if the valley of evil is made from moutains of blades and seas of fire, it will not be able to take my life."

    Shen Qinghong said:"But...but...."

    Yan Nantian said loudly:"My mind is set, you needn't say another word."

    Shen Qinghong was stunned and sighed deeply and stayed silent.

    The golden monkey constellation sighed too:"Good! Yan Nantian is really a true hero. Not even afraid of the valley of evil, even if you don't return from it you will be respected by everyone in Wulin."

    Yan Nantian said:"Do you have anything else to say?"

    The golden monkey constellation said:"No, you can take my eyes."

    There was a pain of cry and that pair of sharp, shining eyes of the golden monkey constellation were gone. There were just two bloody sockets, Yan Nantian chucked him in front of Shen Qinghong and said:"He is yours."

    And with that he left.

    That Lei Xiaohu was lying on top of the dog, both were bleeding heavily and were about to die.

    Shen Qinghong looked at him and turned his attention to the golden monkey constellation and said hatefully:"The famous intelligent golden monkey constellation has finally made one stupid mistake."

    Although the golden monkey constellation passed out when his eyes were removed but now he had woken up and was attending to his wounds. He took out a bottle of herbal medicinal ointment and was smearing it on his sockets.

    He said with a shaky voice:"Me, stupid?"

    Shen Qinghong said:"Yan Nantian may have spared your life, but now you've fallen into my hands! Do you expect me to let you live? There is not enough ointment in the world to save you now. Why bother attending to your wounds?"

    The golden monkey constellation said:"Of course I have to look after my wounds, because I won't die."

    Shen Qinghong laughed loudly:"Who will save you now?"

    The golden monkey constellation said:"I will save myself."

    Shen Qinghong shouted:"I would like to see how you're going to save yourself."

    He lifted his palm and was about to strike the golden monkey constellation on the skull.

    "Don't you want to find your lost treasure?"

    Shen Qinghong immediately retracted his palm.

    The golden monkey constellation laughed:"I knew you would not kill me! If you want to retrieve your lost treasure, you will let me live. Unless you don't want the treasure anymore."

    Shen Qinghong was hesistating and his palm was trembling. He didn't know whether to strike out or not, finally he sighed deeply:"You've won."

    For the sake of the Three Yuan united armed guard agency he had to let him live, he cannot disappoint the clients who entrusted the safe-keeping of the treasure to him.

    The golden monkey constellation laughed:"Shen Qinghong, now you must know! Nobody can easily kill me!"

    It was late now, most lights in the town were out now. Even the last few drunkards of the Taibai wineshop were staggering home now. The waiter was rubbing his eyes and was about to close up for the night.

    Suddenly a carriage came this way, it was not being pulled by a horse but by a man. It was that tall man who swindled that armed guard earlier.

    But he looked different now, his body was covered with blood and he looked as if he was ready to kill. The waiter was scared stiff and wanted to hide, but the tall man stopped in front of the wineshop. The man pulled the carriage like it was nothing, a carriage that would take a strong horse to pull. What an impressive strength.
    Yan Nantian took the baby in his arms now and walked into the wineshop, the baby was sleeping.

    The waiter mustered his courage and asked:"Sir.....sir....what kind of wine would you like?"

    Yan Nantian shouted:"Who said I wanted wine?"

    The waiter was stunned and asked:"What do you want, sir?"

    Yan Nantian said:"Rice soup!"

    The waiter was even more stunned and frowned:"We don't....selll..."

    Yan Nantian smacked a table very hard and said:"Bring me some rice soup first and then some wine!"

    The waiter was almost scared to death and did not even consider saying no.

    After the baby had eaten, he sleapt even deeper. Yan Nantian sat there drinking, with every cup his grandeur seemed to grow. The waiter did not even dare to look at him now.

    But he secretly peeked and noticed that Yan Nantian he drank 17 big bowls of strong wine, the waiter stuck out his tongue.

    Suddenly Yan Nantian threw two ingots of silver on the table and said loudly:"Go and buy me two coffins!"

    The waiter fell down and did not believe his ears, he was too scared to even respond.

    Yan Nantian smacked on the table again and two ingots flew up and fell into the lap of the waiter, Yan Nantian yelled again:"Coffins! Two coffins of the best materials! Did you hear me?"

    The waiter stammered:"I...heard.....you...."

    Yan Nantian shouted:"Well, what are you waiting for?"

    The waiter turned around and quickly went out, when Yan Nantian was about to drink his 28th bowl he had returned. The waiter was a clever man and knew that this was not the point to be asking questions or to raise objections.

    Yan Nantian carefully took out the bodies of Jiang Feng and Hua Yuenu from the carriage and carefully put them in the coffins. He did everything personally even when he hammered the nails through the lid. The waiter was totally surprised and wondered what this man was.

    When he was facing the two coffins, Yan Nantian drank another seven bowls although he was not weeping but he looked so tragic it was worst than crying.

    He was holding the last bowl of wine, he looked at that bowl for a very long time for almost an entire hour, the waiter just stood by his side.

    In the end Yan Nantian said:"Brother, I want you to accompany me. I want you to see me kill that treacherous bastard!"

    It was afternoon now, and in the main street of Taiyuan there was a big banner with shining golden characters:A thousand Kilometre Fragrance

    This shop was famous in Shanxi province. The spices and ingredients were indeed very fragrant.

    Around dusk some ten workers were eating and the main street was quite busy now. All of a sudden a carriage came this way and the man pulling the carriage roared loudly telling people to make way. His roar was most loud and he stopped in front of the inn.

    Those ten workers angrilly walked up and when they saw the tall man all of them felt numb and let him and take those jars of spices away and he put them into the coffin.

    When he was about to leave he shouted:"After an hour or so you will be able to move again! I will pay double for the spices I took today in the near future."

    Everyone was impressed by the powerful charisma and grandeur of this man, nobody would dare to stop him and the carriage.

    It was afternoon and a melon field was emitting a sweet fragrance. A ordinary peasant woman was sitting in the shades. She was breastfeeding her baby and almost fell asleep when a soft breeze provided for some cooling.

    In her sleepy state she felt that someone was looking at her breasts. A lot of young and naughty youngsters in the village had peeked at her bosom before. She was never really upset about it, she only had interest in her newborn baby.

    But this time she felt that the stare was different and she saw that a tall man was indeed looking at her bosom. She had never saw him before and looked rather sickly but still very grand, furthermore she notices he was holding a baby too.

    The baby was crying very loud, she had just became a mother and was filled with maternal love. When she heard the crying she looked up and saw that the man's eyes were not filled with lust but with request.

    She asked with a smile:"Isn't the mother of this child around?"

    The man shook his head and said:"No."

    She was quiet for a moment before saying:"He must be hungry."

    The man nodded and said:"Yes, he is."

    She looked at her own baby and suddenly smiled:"Give me your child, I will feed him. I've just eaten two chickens over the past few days, so I have plenty of milk. My little daughter cannot finish it all by herself."

    The man looked very happy and handed her the baby and he thanked her.

    She saw that the baby was very little and she knew he was only born a few days ago, when she saw the scar on his face she frowned:"You have to be careful when you're taking care of babies. The mother of this child should pay better attention to him, how could she leave the care of her son to a grown man?"

    She shook her head.

    The man said sadly:"The child's mother passed away."

    She was a bit shocked and gently touched the baby's face and sighed sadly:"So young and already motherless. How sad!"

    The man sighed deeply too and looked at the baby, his heart was filled with sorrow but also love for this child.

    This baby was born into a nightmare, he encountered horrible death and destruction on his very first day on this world. It is sad that he does not know that and on his face there is now a happy smile.

    End of chapter 2

  4. #4
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
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    Chapter 3 The Valley Of Evil

    The water of the river He glittered in the radiant sun of the seventh month. When one arrives at the upper reaches of the river, the river branches off into two streams.
    The Eastern stream is the famous Jade Dragon Hashen River, the water currents are very dangerous in these parts. If one follows this stream upwards one will enter the legendary birthplace of many heroes------namely the Kunlun mountain area.

    Although it was Summer now and the sun has not set yet, but it felt like a chilly Autumn day in the Jade Dragon Pass. The wind was blowing fiercely, but even the strong wind could not scatter the thick fog.

    Yan Nantian finally reached Jade Dragon Peak, he looked thin and pallid now and his horse was tired and weak. Even the carriage could not continue anymore when it reached a rugged mountain path.

    Yan Nantian drove the carriage and used one hand to hold the baby, there was a strong overwhelming scent coming from the carriage. Quite nauseating. The baby was asleep, he seemed to be accustomed to the harshness at his young age.

    Yan Nantian looked at the baby with love and affection, he smiled and said softly:"My good child, on your way you drank the milk from different women through the land, I think you're the only......"

    All of a sudden he stopped talking and leapt into the air, at the same moment he leapt up there was a series of sounds: Tak, tak, tak. Ten types of different secretive weapons hit the place where he just sat, if he was just a fraction too slow, all those projectiles would have hit him.

    Yan Nantian made a turn in mid-air and used his left hand to force the carriage to stop and he himself had hid under the horse now. He was not afraid of himself getting injured but he was afraid that the baby would get harmed.

    The leap, the turn, the stop of the carriage and the hiding were all conducted in one fluent move. As fast as light and as graceful as a dancing dragon, some of the ambushers could not help themselves and praised:"Excellent martial arts!"

    Yan Nantian roared angrilly:"Who dares to ambush...."

    Before he could finish the horse neighed loudly, Yan Nantian immediately came out and saw that the horse was injured from several sides by projectiles.

    Yan Nantian did not even have time to think, he struck out with his iron palms crassshh, crasssh the yoke was broken into two and the horse ran off alone. Yan Nantian raised his fist and punched a hole into the carriage and used his left hand to gently put the baby into the carriage.

    At this point another ten odd projectiles were headed for him, he leapt up again and the projectiles flew under his feet missing him barely. If his reaction was even a bit too slow not only he but also the baby would be killed, furthermore if he did not break the yoke in the nick of time the crazed horse would have pulled along the carriage in its' frantic state.

    Now the horse had collapsed and Yan Nantian was still in mid-air, now seven, eight swords came towards him like shooting stars. All the swords came from different sides, from left to right ensnaring him.

    Yan Nantian was totally entangled by his attackers' web of swords, however he still has power in him even in mid-air, he raised his arms and his body ascended another 2 metres or so. The swords passed him under his feet, a loud CLAAANNNGG could be heard. The seven, eight swords could not be retracted in time so they collided with each other, as soon as they hit they immediately fell back and scattered around. Seven, eight persons each stood at a corner quite far apart from each other. In the fog, you could not see their faces clearly but at least four of them were Taoist priests.

    Yan Nantian descended and landed on top of the carriage and as soon as he had landed he immediately launched an attack on a Taoist priest wearing a blue robe. He generated his ful internal power to his palms and did not hold back now, these people attacked without any reason and used the most lethal methods needless to say he was merciless too.

    The beard and robe of the Taoist priest swayed by the powerful palm energy released from Yan Nantian, he could hardly stand straight and in a flux he raised his sword and counter-attacked.

    His stance looked casually and simple, however he could raise his sword under the pressure of tremendous crashing stance which was highly impressive. This Taoist priest had to at least study the way of the sword for at least 20 to 30 years to able to do this.

    He knew that this stance would be unable to harm his opponent but at least it was sufficient to defend himself, but before he could finish his stance his sword was gone. It had flown right into the hand of the adversary.

    This Taoist priest was a remarkable martial artist and did not panick under such dire situation, he spinned his body around and escaped the palm attacks from Yan Nantian.

    Yan Nantian exclaimed:"Good!"

    During his praise he had advanced forward and used the sword to attack another adversary. Yan Nantian was proclaimed to be the peerless celestial sword, this attack was omnipotent. This stance looked like a thunderbolt crashing down, the man initially wanted to counter-attack but soon changed his mind and looked pale. He backed backwards and was afraid to even to block, but Yan Nantian's technique kept coming like a serie of waves. Seeing no escape the man gritted his teeth and decided to intercept.

    Claaannnnggg, both swords were forged from the same oven but somehow Yan Nantian broke the sword of the adversary into two halves.

    The man fell down and started to roll away, Yan Nantian roared and hacked at the man with incredible speed and power. This hack was suffice to say world-shaking.

    Suddenly flashes of silver could be seen and another clang could be heard.

    He saw three Taoist priests kneeling down with one knee and using their swords to form a cross to intercept Yan Nantian's attack saving that man from that lethal blow. That man had fainted now.

    Yan Nantian stood there looking very fierce and sternly asked:"Are you The Three Eagles? Or Four Vultures?"

    One of the Taoist priests said:"We're the Four Vultures, but how would you....."

    Yan Nantian laughed sternly:"Only a few people in this world can intercept a blow of mine and the Seven Swords of Kunlun belong to that small selected few!"

    That Taoist priest replied:"Indeed, in the entire world only master Yan Nantian can force the three of us to block that attack together."

    Yan Nantian now stopped laughing and shouted:"But why would the Seven Swords of Kunlun ambush me? That is something I do not understand!"

    That Taoist priest laughed wryly:"The four of us were here to prevent a man from entering the Valley of Evil, we never expected that master Yan would come here."

    Yan Nantian asked:"So you mistook me for that man?"

    That Taoist priest sighed:"Yes, if not we would never dream of attacking master Yan."

    It was now that Yan Nantian retracted his sword, the three Taoist priests dropped their swords. They could not lift their ams anymore now.

    Yan Nantian asked:"Who are you trying to stop?"

    That Taoist priest replied:"Sima Yan."

    Yan Nantian said with surprise:"That so-called intestines gutting sword Sima Yan?"

    That Taoist priest said hatefully:"Yes, that fiend!"

    Yan Nantian asked:"How do you know that rogue will pass here?"

    The Taoist priest answered:"The Eight Righteous from Sichuan pursued him to this area, these three benefactors are the three from the eight righteous. This Yang Ping, Hai Changpo and Hai Jinpo......"

    The Eight Righteous from Sichuan are famous martial artists in the realm, Yan Nantian turned around and looked at them. Three of them really looked very heroic and impressive, even if they were crawling up from the ground they did not look awkward.

    The head of the eight righteous, Yang Ping had a so-called country character face and a exceedingly high nose making him look very outstanding.

    He made a greeting fist gesture and said:"We have pursued that fiend to this point and we were afraid that he would enter the valley, so we asked the four reverends here to assist us and setting up an ambush for him......Little did we expect to find master Yan here."

    Hai Changpo added with a wry smile:"Although we saw that master Yan looked nothing like him, but we knew that Sima Yan is well-versed in the art of disguise. And we utterly hate that fiend, so....."

    Yan Nantian nodded and said:"No wonder you attacked so viciously. But when dealing with thugs like that, the more vicious the better."

    The head of the four vultures, Cangyi Zi asked:"But why...why are you here, master Yan?"

    Yan Nantian said:"I am on my way to the Valley of Evil."

    The four swords of Kunlun and the three righteous from Sichuan were shocked and all exclaimed with surprise:"Master Yan is going to the Valley of Evil?"

    Yan Nantian laughed:"I am going there not to hide from any enemy! I am going there to look for a certain person."

    Cangyi Zi said:"But....but the Valley of Evil...."

    Yan Nantian said sternly:"I don't care whether the Valley of Evil is a dragon's den or not, I will enter it anyway."

    Cangyi Zi was most impressed and said:"Master Yan's heroic spirit is truly admirable, but the....the Valley of Evil is filled with evil monsters of the past and present. No one has even dared to set foot in that valley, master Yan do reconsider."

    Yan Nantian's eyes were burning with anxiety and hate, he was looking into the thick fog and said earnestly:"If one can perform a few tasks which others cannot in this life, one can truly die without regrets!"

    The four swords of Kunlun looked at each other and looked embarrassed.

    Yang Ping said:"But, .....according to my knowledge four of the most evil ten monsters of the realm in the past 20 years are residing in that valley."

    Hai Changpo said:"I think more than four, blood hands Du Sha, a concealed dagger within a smile, the laughing monk Ha Ha'er, neither male nor female Du Qiaoqiao, not eating the head Li Dazui....."

    Yan Nantian frowned:"Li Dazui? Isn't he the thug that eats human flesh?"

    Hai Changpo said:"Yes, indeed. When others called him [not eating the head], meaning he ate everything except the head. He laughed loudly when he heard this and said he even ate the head."

    Yan Nantian said angrilly:"How is it possible that such a thug is even alive."

    Hai Changpo said:"According to many people, this Li Dazui does have a rather noble sentiments. And both his literary and martial arts are quite distinguished. The only flaw he has is that he eats people."

    Yan Nantian said angrilly:"Isn't that enough?"

    Hai Changpo smiled wryly:"That being the case, but the chancellor of the Sanxiang Wulin the admirer of talents Tie Wushuang was somehow impressed by his talents and even arranged for him to marry his own beloved daughter. Hoping he would turn over a new leaf and his daughter would help and keep an eye on Li Dazui."

    Yan Nantian sighed:"Tie Wushuang is really an admirer of talents."

    Hai Changpo sighed tragically:"However Li Dazui did not take this chance to change and within a short period of three years he killed his wife and had eaten her."

    Yan Nantian said with anger:"The bastard!"

    Hai Changpo said:"Now old master Tie was furious and assembled his 18 pupils and vowed to kill Li Dazui to avenge his daughter. However Li Dazui was not a fool and had fled into the Valley of Evil."

    Yang Ping added:"Old master Tie hated himself for not recognizing the bastard for what he is earlier and he did not want everyone to know that his daughter died this tragically so he said to the outside world that this daughter died of an illness. If we weren't that close to old master Tie, we would not know this too."

    Yan Nantian said hatefully:"No wonder nobody knows about this in the realm......but Tie Wushuang is considered a man who fears nothing. Why does he allow the killer of his daughter to reside in this valley?"

    Hai Changpo said:"Master Tie was planning on entering the valley and was not afraid to die doing so. But his 18 disciples urged him not to do so and Madame Tie also begged her husband to reconsider."

    Yan Nantian sighed:"After just losing her daughter she naturally does not want her husband to risk his life...... If men did not marry wouldn't that be a more sensible?"
    Hai Jinpo said:"Besides these four the self proclaimed number one in the field of lightness martial arts is also in the Valley of Evil. He never fights anyone but just ambushes them when they least expect it------Yin Jiuyou."

    Yan Nantian was somewhat surprised and said:"Half ghost, half human Yin Jiuyou is in the valley too? Wasn't he killed by the elders of Shaolin when he killed secular Shaolin disciple Li Dayuan?"

    Hai Changpo said:"That is indeed what is said, but there is another story behind it. It is said that the elders trapped Yin Jiuyou in the pits of the netherworld, but he managed to escape. Because this would damage the reputation of Shaolin, so every Shaolin disciple kept this to themselves."

    Yan Nantian sighed:"The once leading martial arts school of the realm is slowly degrading. I am afraid it is because the Shaolin disciples place too much emphasis on wordly matters like reputation and fame."

    Cangyi Zit said sadly:"It is not easy to protect the reputation of a school."

    He said this because Kunlun was gradually degrading too.

    Yang Ping said:"Each and everyone of them is most difficult to deal with. Especially Du Qiaoqiao, this monster is most cunning and she has reached the highest level possible in the art of disguise. The closest person to you could be her in disguise. It is said that she entered the valley for other reasons and it was not to escape her enemies."

    Hai Changpo said:"Yes, true. With her mastery in the art of disguise she did not have to flee into the Valley of Evil.....no one knows what her true appearances are."

    Yan Nantian said:"I don't care what her reasons are for fleeing into the valley and I don't even care how good her disguises are.....I am going to enter the valley on my own, she can't harm me.....hahahaha. Unless she has the ability to disguise herself as an infant of only half a month old."

    Yang Ping smiled happily:"Even if she had the ability to fly into the sky and drill through the ground she won't be able to stop master Yan......but....."

    Yan Nantian did not let him finish he made a fist and said:"The information you have given me is most useful. No matter what I have to enter the Valley of Evil.......I take my leave now."

    All of them called out:"Master Yan......"

    Yan Nantian did not look at them and pulled the carriage along with him and walked away, even with horse the carriage could not move this quickly.

    All of them looked at each other and stayed quiet.

    Cangyi Zi sighed deeply in the end:"I have long heard of Yan Nantian's exceptionally high martial arts, even to be unmatched in the realm. I was not totally convinced when I heard that, but now......(*sigh).....(*sigh)."

    Yang Ping was very impressed by Yan Nantian and said:"His impressive martial arts are not enough to make people respect him, but his grandeur, courage and charisma has earned me deepest respects."

    Hai Changpo watched as Yan Nantian's figure disappeared into the horizon said softly:"Let us hope he will come out of the valley alive to see us again....."

    The roads here were even more difficult to manoeuvre, but Yan Nantian was not bothered by it and continued to walk ahead. It was like he had supernatural strength.

    In the thick fog suddenly a lamp appeared.

    It was a lantern skillfully placed there where the wind could not blow the candle out, it burnt there like a ghastly fire from hell.

    Carved in the rocks there were the characters: Entering the valley is like ascending to heaven, this way please.

    Yan Nantian angrilly said:"The audacious thugs, how dare they carve the way to the valley this boldly. Do they really think that no one good has the courage to enter?"

    He was actually the first good man to have entered this valley.

    The mountain area of Kunlun was a very dangerous place to walk about, but this road easily lead one into the valley.

    He was now slowly descending a slope and did not have to use force to pull the carriage along now, in fact he could even sit back and let the carriage gently push him down.

    The road was becoming more and more curved and it was difficult to even see beyong a few metres. But suddenly nothing obstructed his sight anymore, in fact afar he could see lights burning. Like stars showing him the way.

    He knew that there was the Valley of Evil, even with a heart of steel he was feeling a bit anxious now. He was facing one of the most deadly and mysterious places in the entire realm. He walked over with big steps with no hesitation.

    Everyone thought that the Valley of Evil must be a dark place, but the opposite was true. It was very bright, but it did not make the valley less mysterious and frightning. In fact it made look more dangerous, what kind of place is the Valley of Evil?

    Yan Nantian felt that his heart was beating faster and faster, he was soon about to unravel one of the biggest secrets which every good man in Wulin wants to know.
    Below another lantern there was a slab with another series of characters: Enter the valley, enter the valley.....never be a slave again.

    After the slab the road became clear and straight, illuminated by lanterns. Yan Nantian knew that this road was perhaps one of the most dangerous roads in the world, every step is closer to death.

    No walls, no gates, no watchtowers. It looked like an ordinary village and every house there was a light burning, it looked very tranquil and peaceful.

    But in this seemingly tranquil and peaceful villlage there were uncountable traps and numerous murderers.

    Yan Nantian was still pulling the carriage along he noticed that his hands were sweaty, he was in the valley of evil now at any time now dangerous killers could attack.

    He could see houses on both his sides, all houses were constructed quite nicely. All the doors were shut and lights were burning, suddenly two men walked towards Yan Nantian.

    Yan Nantian's heart skipped a beat, this could be the first of a series of bloody battles to come in this place, the two men wore expensive robes and casually passed Yan Nantian without even looking at him.

    Yan Nantian's eyes turned red, he did not even pay attention to the appearances of those two men. He passed more people as he continued, but none of them looked at Yan Nantian.

    Yan Nantian was extremely surprised, he knew that everyone of these men he passed were evil villains who killed without blinking their eyes. He figured that they would attack him relentlesly, but the opposite was true. They seemed to be oblivious to him.

    This mysterious place in Wulin was not much different from any other prosper peaceful village in the world.

    Yan Nantian was confused and did not know what to do now, he has encountered numerous dangerous trials in his life but none were so strange and confusing as this one. He had entered many so-called dragon's dens, but none of those places were as tranquil and peaceful as the Valley of Evil.

    From the carriage Yan Nantian heard the baby crying, he took a deep breath and composed himself. He saw that one door was open ahead and a fragrant aroma came from it. Without any hesitation he walked over.

    He entered an elegant room with several tables and chairs, at the two tables a few men were sitting and drinking wine, chatting softly. This place was seeminly a wineshop, but it was more refined and elegant than any wineshop in the world.

    Yan Nantian took the baby in his arm and entered the wineshop, he found himself a seat and sat down. It looked like a wineshop, the customers were dressed neatly and smiled to each other. They did not look like chased outcasts or hunted thugs, Yan Nantian was suprised to see this. However the most vile people in the world do not look like evil at all. If they looked threacherous, one would immediately be on their guards. How could they even do evil, but why are men unaware of this?
    From behind a fat man with a pleasant smile walked up, he looked like a rich and friendly proprietor. Yan Nantian remained calm and stayed seated.

    The fat man came up and smiled:"Sorry for the incovenience, brother."

    Yan Nantian just said:"Hmm."

    The fat man laughed:"Three years ago I heard that brother had made enemies with the Tang clan I thought you would come. Little would I have known that you would arrive only today."

    Yan Nantian just said:"Hmm?"

    Yan Nantian now knew he had mistaken him for the intestines gutting sword Sima Yan, he remained quiet.

    The fat man waved his hand and a young girl with a sweet smile walked up, she wore a green dress and gave Yan Nantian a meaningful look. She said politely:"How are you, sir?"

    Yan Nantian said:"(*Humph)...good!"

    The fat man laughed:"Mr. Sima has come from afar and hasn't got the interest to chat with you. Prepare some warm wine for Mr. Sima and also prepare some rice soup for this little friend."

    The young girl giggled:"What an adorable baby."

    She had very lively eyes and looked at Yan Nantian one more time before gently going back.

    Yan Nantian carefully examined the fat man and thought: Could he be the concealed dagger within a smile, the laughing monk Ha Ha'er? Just looking at his friendly smile and his consideration for the baby, it is hard to believe that he slaughtered his teacher's family in just one night. Just because his little martial arts sister called him a [fat pig].

    Just about now the young girl returned with wine and a few dishes of food. It was very fragrant.

    The fat man laughed:"My friend, you have travelled for a very long time. You must be hungry now, let us eat first and talk later."

    Yan Nantian again simply responded:"Hmm."

    Although Yan Nantian has more or less agreed to eat and drink, but he did not move his hands to pick up anything. He is here to kill and not to drink nor to eat.
    The fat man laughed:"Everyone thinks we are suffering in the valley, but the opposite is true. With so many intelligent people gathered together here, how can we suffer? Not even the emperor could taste this delicious dishes and have this excellent wine. Do you know who prepared these dishes? You could never guess."
    The fat man continued:"My friend, have you heard of Tian Chixing (the heaven eating the constellation) of the Beggars Association? Within one hour he poisoned the seven great elders of the Beggars Association......"

    He smacked the table and laughed loudly:"That is really a true hero, a magnificent man! He is the one who prepared the dishes."

    Yan Nantian was shocked but did not show it and casually said:"Oh."

    The fat man laughed louder now:"Brother Sima is really an expert to our liking! Before sorting things out, you would not say anything. But we have considered you one of us even before you came here."

    He picked up a pair of chopsticks and sampled every dish, he laughed:"Are you assured now, brother Sima?"

    Yan Nantian thought: They think I am Sima Yan, this is a wonderful chance to find out where Jiang Qin is hiding. I will take action as soon as I have confirmed Jiang Qin's whereabouts. If I do not eat, they may become suspicious. Furthermore they would not put poison in the food, since they think I am Sima Yan."

    He thought about it and thought that it would hurt to eat and he picked up a pair of chopsticks and said:"Good." He started to eat and the food really tasted excellent and he finished all the dishes in no time because after he had eaten he could begin.

    The fat man laughed:"How is the cooking of Tian Chixing?"

    "Good."

    "The rice soup for this little friend is almost ready."

    "The sooner the better."

    "After the little friend has eaten master Yan can attack."

    Yan Nantian's face changed and said with surprise:"What....what did you say?"

    The fat man laughed:"Master Yan is famous throughout the corners of the world and master Yan has an unique physique. Even if Ha Ha'er is blind I would still recognize master Yan. Hahahaha, I deliberately mistook you for Sima Yan. If not how would you eat these dishes with a special sleeping potion of Tian Chixing."

    Yan Nantian roared:"You fiend!"

    He kicked the table away.

    Ha Ha'er dodged and stood three metres away from Yan Nantian now. He laughed:"Master Yan, I advise you not to use force. If not the potion will only work faster....hahahahahaha."

    Yan Nantian did not feel anything strange and thought that Ha Ha'er was just trying to confuse him. But secretly he took a deep breath as to generate his internal strength and noticed that he could not use his internal strength anymore.

    He was angry and shocked, he leapt up and his iron palms striking out.

    Ha Ha'er just stood there, not moving and just laughing. But before Yan Nantian reached him he had fallen down, he noticed that his limbs were becoming weak. All his strength left him, he could hear the loud and pleased laughter of Ha Ha'er and the crying sound of the baby.......the crying and laughing became distant.....gradually he could not hear a thing.

    A light shone on Yan Nantian's face, he felt that the lamp kept spinning in front of him. He wanted to rub his eyes but he could not move. His head was hurting and his throat felt like it was on fire. He gritted his teeth and focussed, the lamp was not spinning.

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"Good! Good! Master Yan has come by. Here are some friends who would like to see the peerless celestial sword's appearances."

    Yan Nantian could vaguely see some figures standing in front of him, but the light was hurting his eyes and he could not see clearly.

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"Does master Yan recognize these friends of mine? Let me introduce you to them, this is blood hands Du Sha."

    A cold voice said:"20 years ago I met master Yan once. Unfortunately I had another matter on my hands and was unable to sample master Yan's martial arts."

    The speaker was a tall and skinny man, he wore a long white robe and looked very pale. He practically looked like an icicle.

    Yan Nantian tried to forget his headache and laughed arrogantly:"If I didn't see you being injured by the southern heaven hero Lu Zhongda and did not want to have that unfair advantage, you would not have lived till today."

    Du Sha's face did not change and coldly said:"I have lived till today and will continue to live. But master Yan is about to die."

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"But master Yan is able to laugh in the face of death, we do share some traits, master Yan. This is not eating the head Li Dazui. Have you heard of him before?"

    A loud voice said:"I have long heard of master Yan's firm bones and strong tendons. I think your meat will taste very much like dried beef, one has to sample it slowly in order to appreciate it."

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"Li Dazui, you always talk about your hobby. Here I am introducing you to master Yan, you should at least show some courtesy. Immediately you start with eating his flesh."

    "I just said that master Yan's meat must taste wonderful. That is the best compliment I, Li Dazui, can give. What do you know, you all eat pork."

    "Well, pigs are disgusting and smelly. Not as clean as human meat I suppose. I, Ha Ha'er, would like to taste master Yan's meat too. However I am afraid that his meat is a bit too tough for me."

    Li Dazui said:"You're wrong there. Every type of meat is different and has its' own delicious characteristic. For example the meat of a Buddhist monk is different from the meat of a Buddhist nun.

    A sweet voice asked:"Have you eaten the meat of monk before?"

    Li Dazui said:"Ha! Of course, and lots of it too. The most famous one was the monk Tiejian of Mount Wutai. It took me three whole days to eat him.....eating the meat of famous people tastes better."

    The sweet voice asked:"How many people have you actually eaten?"

    "Can't remember, too many to count."

    "Whose meat was most delicous?"

    "When we're talking about the most tender meat.....that would be my late wife. Just thinking about her white, delicate flesh makes my mouth water."

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"Enough of this, look at master Yan. He is furious."

    "We cannot let master Yan get angry. When a man gets angry his meat becomes sour. This is something I've learnt from eating people all these years."

    Ha Ha'er continued:"This is neither male nor female Du Qiaoqiao."

    The sweet voice said:"I just served master Yan food and drinks earlier, he already knows me. No need for any further introduction."

    Yan Nantian was shocked and thought: That young girl was neither male nor female? This monster has been infamous for the last two decades. It is amazing that she can disguise herself as a young girl of 16, 17 years old."

    The hands of Du Sha and the cannibalism of Li Dazui were not enough to impress Yan Nantian, but the art of disguise of Du Qiaoqiao made Yan Nantian's face changed.

    Suddenly another voice said:"Ha Ha'er enough talking already. Do you want him to get acquainted with everyone in the valley? Ask him what you want to know and send him to the netherworld to accompany me."

    The voice sounded distant and yet close, the speaker (deliberately) crackled his voice. Sometimes one could hear him on the left but by the end of the sentence he was on the right. He sounded like someone who is very ill and is speaking weakly, his voice gave one the shivers.

    Even Yan Nantian had goosebumps when he heard him speak and thought: This Yin Jiuyou is really something! Even when talking he sounds like a ghost.

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"Old Yin is afraid to be alone, can't you wait a bit longer. Master Yan is about to join you."

    Yin Jiuyou said:"I cannot wait anymore."

    When he finished he put his hand on the back of Yan Nantian, his hand was as cold as ice and Yan Nantian shivered when he just gently touched him.

    Li Dazui shouted:"Remove your hand old Yin! How can I eat his meat when it is touched by you!"

    Yin Jiuyou laughed coldly:"You can kill him too, but just hurry up!"

    Du Sha said:"Stop! I have something to ask him."

    Du Qiaoqiao said:"Ask away, nobody is stopping you."

    Du Sha asked:"Yan Nantian, are you here because of me?"

    Yan Nantian said:"You're not worthy of my attention."

    Du Sha was not angered and said coldly:"If I am not worthy who is?"

    "Jiang Qin!"

    "Jiang Qin? Who has heard of that name before?"

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"Hahaha! The Valley of Evil doesn't have a worm with that name."

    Yan Nantian gritted his teeth and said:"He may not be famous, but he is more evil than all of you combined. Hand him over and I will spare your lives!"

    Ha Ha'er laughed loudly:"Excellent! Did you just hear master Yan? Master Yan has said that he will spare our lives, let us thank him for that now."

    Before he finished there was all kinds of different laughters, each was more horrible than the other.

    Yan Nantian said earnestly:"All of you are amused is it?"

    Du Qiaoqiao giggled:"We used 13 thick ropes to tie you down and brother Du Sha has sealed four of your main acupoints. You're supposed to beg for mercy and now you tell us that you will spare us our lives? I think it is hilarious!"

    Yan Nantian grunted.

    Du Qiaoqiao said:"Well, I might as well tell you that there is no Jiang Qin in this valley. You must have been deceived and that person wanted you to seek death here."

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"The funny part is that you actually believed that person! Never thought that Yan Nantian is as naive as a child."

    At this moment Yan Nantian roared:"The fiend!"

    This roar sounded like a thunderbolt and everyone's ears were numb.

    Du Qiaoqiao said with fear:"This fellow sounded awfully vital again! Has he managed to channel his sealed acupoints open again?"

    Yan Nantian laughed arrogantly:"You're correct!"

    While he was talking he stood up and put up his muscles and broke the ropes.

    Yin Jiuyou yelled:"The corpse has been revived!"

    Just after he finished he was already ten metres away, he has proclaimed himself to be unmatched in the field of lightness martial arts. Therefore he fleeing ability was quite superior, however the others were less fortunate.

    Bang, Ha Ha'er had knocked down the table and he rolled over the floor and was gone in a flash. He had escaped through a trapdoor.

    Du Qiaoqiao screamed:"Ladies should not fight with men! I am taking off my clothes!"

    She really took off her clothes and threw them at Yan Nantian, Yan Nantian used his palm to deflect the clothes and Du Qiaoqiao was gone too.

    Li Dazui was the slowest of them all and he stood up and said with a laugh:"Good! Yan Nantian, let me test your martial arts!"

    As soon as he was finished he quickly hid behind Du Sha and said:"But brother Du Sha's martial arts are better than mines. I would not dare to go first."

    Although Yan Nantian stood up, but he had not fully accumulated his internal energy yet. If the five of them would work together and stand up against Yan Nantian, Yan Nantian would surely be killed. But he figured that this people would never work together to face danger, they were too selfish and cowardly. It was easy to share fortunes with these people, but it was impossible to ask them to face difficulties together.

    All of them had fled away except Du Sha. Now Yan Nantian had fully recovered but he did not attack yet and just looked at Du Sha with his sharp eyes. After awhile he asked sternly:"Why didn't you flee?"

    "I have never fled from battles in my life."

    "You dare to stand up against me?"

    "Indeed."

    As soon as he said that he leapt up and dashed forward towards Yan Nantian, his red hands attacking non-stop.

    Soul searching Blood hands!

    No matter how the other stances were, it seemed most impressive now.

    Yan Nantian laughed arrogantly:"Good!"

    He raised his fists and aimed for the palms of Du Sha. Du Sha was pleased when he saw this, he had become famous for his lethal blood hands. He was wearing gloves that were dyed with poisonous blood, furthermore there were spikes on the gloves. When his opponent was even remotely injured by his gloves, the poison will take his enemy's life within just an hour.

    Yan Nantian had aimed his fists directly at his palms, he was seeking his own death.

    There was a load roar and a cry of surprise, followed by a sound of cracckkk.

    Yan Nantian had aimed his fists towards the palms of Du Sha, but suddenly he changed his stances during a normally impossible situation. Du Sha dashed forward only to see that his opponent had shifted position, suddenly he felt extreme pain coming from his wrists. Yan Nantian had grabbed his wrists and the cracking sound was when Yan Nantian had broken off his right hand.

    Yan Nantiand did not allow him to fall down and grabbed him by his robe and shouted:"Is there a Jiang Qin in this valley or not!"

    Du Sha was in excruxiating pain but shouted back:"No, there is not!"

    "Where is the child!"

    "I don't know! Kill me!"

    "I admire your courage, I'll spare you."

    After saying that he tossed Du Sha aside.

    Du Sha was really a martial arts expert, he made a somersault in the air and landed firmly on the ground with both his feet. His white robe was drenched with his own blood and he was holding his broken hand in his left hand.

    He yelled at Yan Nantian:"Although you spared me, but I won't show any mercy later on!"

    Yan Nantian laughed:"Yan Nantian doesn't need mercy from others!"

    Du Sha said hatefully:"Good!" And he turned around and walked away.

    Yan Nantian now roared loudly:"Return the child to me, or else I will destroy this valley!"

    His roar travelled loud and far, reaching the sky even. But there was no response. Yan Nantian was furious and kicked the table into pieces and hit a hole into the wall.

    As he walked he hit everything in his path, tables, chairs, walls, doors and windows......everything was smashed into bits by his fists and kicks. What once was a refined and elegant room was now a wreck. But still no one had showed himself, it was like everyone was dead in the Valley of Evil.

    Yan Nantian roared:"Let's see how long you can hide yourselves!"

    He left this house and advanced forward to the next house and kicked down the door. Two men were inside and when they saw his fierce look they wanted to run.
    Yan Nantian had caught up with them with only one step and he picked up one man by his back. This person had quite good martial arts too, but somehow he could not even move in the hands of Yan Nantian. Yan Nantian roared and tossed him to the wall, the man hit his head on the wall and blood and brains splattered against the white wall.

    The other man was too shocked to move and sat down in a daze, Yan Nantian lifted him up too.

    Suddenly the man said loudly:"Wait, I have something to say!"

    Yan Nantian thought he would tell him where the baby was.

    But the man asked:"There are no grudges between us, why do you want to kill me?"

    "Everyone in the Valley of Evil are wicked and vile fiends and deserve to die!"

    "True! I, Wan Chunliu, was a bad man years ago. But I have turned over a new leaf, what right do you have to kill me!"

    Yan Nantian was stunned by his words and said softly:"Why do I have to kill innocent people? Why can't I give people a chance to start over? It is true that everyone in here has blood on his hands, but there are bound to be a few who have turned over a new leaf."

    He released Wan Chunliu and said loudly:"Go!"

    The man crawled up and staggered out of the house.

    Yan Nantian sighed:"Why kill the innocent! Yan Nantian, Yan Nantian! Your sworn brother only has one son, you have to compose yourself and think of a plan to save him. You cannot allow your temper to get hold of you, even if you killed everyone here....."

    When he thought about this, he had controlled his temper and discovered something rather strange.

    The house he was in was very big and it was filled with all types and kinds of herbal weeds, there were several big furnaces and big bronze pots were on it. A strong herbal fragrance came out of those bronze pots.

    Yan Nantian had roamed the realm for a very long time and has learnt some medicine too. In his free time he would collect herbal weeds too and compose new medicine.

    But Yan Nantian only recognized only one third of the herbs here.

    He was shocked and thought: That Wan Chunliu's knowledge in medicine is amazing! It is good that I did not kill him, if he didn't change why would he only collect medicinal herbs and compose herbal medicine.

    The smoke emitted from the pots fogged up the house, suddenly a man walked towards the house. He was tall and wore a black robe, he moved more agile than a cat. His movements were lighten than a cat, his eyes were more sneaky and vile than a cat.

    Yan Nantian stayed calm and awaited him. When he entered he came up to Yan Nantian with a small sneaky smile.

    He raised his hands and greeted:"My respects, master Yan."

    Yan Nantian just grunted.

    The man said:"I am Sima Yan, the intestines gutting sword."

    "You? So you're already here."

    "I was here even before master Yan arrived. Even I have heard what master Yan did, so I take it you will know what my intentions are?"

    Yan Nantian carefully observed for some time and sternly said:"Aren't you afraid that I will kill you? What guarantee do you have?"

    "When two countries are at war, one does not kill the emissary."

    Yan Nantian frowned:"Whose emissary are you?"

    "I came here with the order to ask you one question, master Yan."

    Yan Nantian said immediately:"Is it about the baby?"

    "Yes."

    Yan Nantian instantly grabbed him and shouted:"Where is he?"

    Sima Yan did not answer and just smiled at Yan Nantian's hands, Yan Nantian gritted his teeth and let go of him.

    Sima Yan smiled now:"Master Yan, we would like to ask you, if we would return you the child what will you do?"

    Yan Nantian was stunned and said:"This...."

    "Will master Yan leave at once and never come back?"

    "Allright for the sake of the baby, I agree."

    "Your word?"

    "Yan Nantian never goes back on his words!"

    "Splendid! Master Yan, please follow me."

    Sima Yan lead the way, both of them walked through the peaceful and tranquil Valley of Evil. Sima Yan lead Yan Nantian to a small house, the door was not closed and there was a light burning inside.

    Sima Yan said:"The child is inside, we just hope master Yan will leave with the baby. Your carriage has been repaired and placed outside the valley."

    Without hearing him out Yan Nantian had instantly entered the house.

    The baby was lying on the table and Yan Nantian went over to pick him up and said sadly:"My poor child!"

    Before he finished he threw the baby on the floor and yelled:"The fiends!"

    It was not the baby but a wooden doll. When he found out it was too late, from all different sides secret, lethal projectiles were fired at him.

    The house was filled with whoosing sounds, the peole who fired were all experts and hundreds of secretive weapons flew towards Yan Nantian. With the soul purpose of killing him.

    They figured that there was no escape possible for Yan Nantian.

    But Yan Nantian whistled loudly and his body shot up, there was a clattering sounds and he had dashed through the roof.

    From all corners out of the house there were no sounds of confusion and panick. About ten people fled in different directions, again Yan Nantian whistled loudly and descended down like a startled and angered dragon.

    Series of shrieking cries could be heard, one man was flung across the house and landed on the back, another was thrown on the street, a third one was chucked through the roof.

    All three of them had their skulls smashed, brains blood splattered around. The rest still managed to get away from Yan Nantian's fury.

    Yan Nantian stood in the middle of the street and shouted angrilly:"A mere ambush like that cannot take my life! If you want my life come out and claim it!"

    His voice travelled far but there was no response only his echo.

    Yan Nantian walked manly through the valley cursing but nobody came out to face him. Singlehandedly Yan Nantian walked through the Valley of Evil, and all the fiends who lived here hid themselves. The heroic spirit and sentiments of Yan Nantian was awesome. But he was not feeling proud, in fact he was feeling worried, angry and sad. With every step his spirit darkened.

    All the lights in the valley were out now, only the stars and the moon provided for some light.

    Suddenly from nowhere a flash of light was to be seen, a sabre hacked at Yan Nantian.

    Judging from that slash the attacker was an expert, he calculated that he would be able to split Yan Nantian's head into two.

    This attack was fierce and accurate, he thought Yan Nantian could not escape from this hack. But all of a sudden Yan Nantian was gone but he could not retract his attack and he hacked at the ground causing sparks.

    Yan Nantian who was now standing next to him grabbed his wrist and sternly shouted:"Come out!"

    But the man chopped off his own right arm and immediately turned around to run away. He was most tough and did not even grunt.

    Yan Nantian was surprised, angry and anxious.

    He threw away the arm and picked up the sabre and hacked open a door. He was furious, mad.....but there was nobody in that house. He was mad, but there was nothing else he could do.

    His eyes were red and shouted:"Good! I would like to see how long you're going to hide."

    He placed a chair in the middle of the street and sat there, the moon shone on his face. His face and body was covered in blood.

    If the valley really consisted of evil demons, then Yan Nantian was the fierce slayer of demons.

    A voice laughed:"What is so special about this baby! Here take it!"

    Yan Nantian immediately leapt towards the sound, the speaker throw something towards Yan Nantian. It looked like the infant and he immediately caught it.
    As soon as he touched "it," he threw it back and shouted:"You can have it back, you foul thugs!"

    As he said it he used his internal power to push the package away and when it hit the wall, it exploded. It was a bomb. If Yan Nantian did not have fast reflexes, he would have been blasted into pieces. He was not concerned about his own life, he was worried about the baby? He broke out in a cold sweat.

    Vicious attacks, evil ambushes.....the entire valley was filled with it. Even a great hero will find death if he is just a bit careless.

    Yan Nantian had escaped several ambushes now, but how many trials can he withstand. His strength is bound to end up once. Can he really keep resisting them without sleeping, eating?

    Suddenly he thought: They are using the darkness to try and attack me. Why not use the darkness to my advantage and try to find them?

    When he thought of this, Yan Nantian refound his spirit and in a flash he disappeared into the night. Fight fire with fire, although he could not find the baby right away. But those ruffians could not ambush him either.

    Nobody could see Yan Nantian now, not even animals with exceptional senses could detect him. With a foe like Yan Nantian, it is not strange that all these rogues have gone into hiding here.

    Every house Yan Nantian searched was empty.

    And there were many houses in the valley, the entire valley seemed to be abandoned.

    After a long time, Yan Nantian heard something talking sounds, Yan Nantian decided to go in that direction. And without a sound he advanced towards the talking.

    A voice said:"Little Du, you really keep amazing me. You managed to get that little child to sleep."

    Although the speaker was not laughing but it was evident it was Ha Ha'er.

    Another person said:"Fortunately we have this child as hostage, if not...."

    Suddenly Du Qiaoqiao shouted:"Li Dazui, what are you doing?"

    Li Dazui laughes softly:"The flesh of the dead woman here reminds me of my late wife."

    Du Qiaoqiao said:"Judging by the bodies, they have been dead for some time now."

    Li Dazui said:"If they're well preserved, they're still edible."

    "Allright, go ahead. She was the sister-in-law of Yan Nantian. After you've eaten her, you have more or less avenged brother Du Sha."

    Yan Nantian was fuming when he heard this and could not control his temper anymore. With one load roar he kicked down the door and stormed in.

    There were sounds of shrieking and everyone fled. Li Dazui yelled:"Here you can eat them!" And he threw the coffins at him, the bodies fell on the floor.

    In the dark he could hear Ha Ha'er:"Good! Yan Nantian, you managed to find us! But don't forget the infant is in our hands! If you give chase, (*humph, humph). Hahahahaha"

    Yan Nantian wanted to storm towards the sound but when he heard what he said, he stopped.

    Because he could not control his temper again, he foiled everything again.

    The moon lit up the house and the mother of the baby was lying on the ground. Her face was white and swollen, her hair chaotic. She looked very eerie and tragic.

    Yan Nantian said sadly:"Brother.....brother.....I have failed you. I......I could not protect your son and even your bodies....I.....I...."

    His voice changed and he could not continue. He picked up the coffin and carefully picked up the bodies and wanted to place them in the coffins again.

    He had tears in his eyes, he could not bare to see his sister-in-law like this and he closed his eyes.

    He just said softly:"I hope you can rest in peace....."

    It was night, cold boundless darkness and a body of once a beautiful woman.

    At this point the corpse moved in Yan Nantian's arms.

    Tak, tak, tak, tak, four times the body hit Yan Nantian's body. The arms and feet of the corpse hit the acupoints on Yan Nantian's body.

    Even a great hero like Yan Nantian with unsurpassed martial arts and matchless intelligence was not prepared for this.

    Before he could speak, his main acupoint on his shoulder was sealed, then his acupoints in his armpit, chest and stomache were all sealed.
    He had fallen, the great hero had finally fallen.

    The corpse stood up and said:"Yan Nantian, know you how powerful I am."

    While she was laughing she rubbed her face a few times. The moon illuminated her face, it was Du Qiaoqiao.

    The lights were lit again and Sima Yan, Ha Ha'er, Li Dazui and Yin Jiuyou came in. Their faces resembled that of goblins and demons now in the light.

    Ha Ha'er laughed loudly:"Yan Nantian, did you really think you found us? We deliberately lured you over into our trap! Hahahaha, you fell right into it."

    Li Dazui laughed strangely:"Yan Nantian, did you really think we were afraid of you? Hahaha, we knew you would not make it out of here alive, that is why we didn't bother fighting you."

    They all spoke through each other and laughed through each other.

    Yan Nantian sighed and closed his eyes, he knew he would not survive this.

    Yin Jiuyou said:"What are we waiting for? Do you want him to have another chance to escape?"

    Du Qiaoqiao said loudly:"Wait! I did the most work, I should be the one to kill him."

    Yin Jiuyou said coldly:"If you listened to me in the first place, he would have been dead for a long time. There wouldn't be so much effort in capturing him."

    Li Dazui said:"Stop, you don't know how to kill someone properly. If you kill someone wrong, his meat will go sour. Then it won't be edible anymore. Let me do it."

    All of them were argueing who could have the honour of killing the peerless celestial sword, the number one swordsman of the world. The honour would be magnificent.

    end of chapter 3

  5. #5
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
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    Chapter 4 The Spared Little Fish

    Ha Ha'er looked at the fallen body of Yan Nantian and laughed:"Stop this argueing! I have a good solution."

    Du Qiaoqiao asked:"What is this solution of yours?"

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"Hahaha, this idea of mine will prevent us from quarelling and it will be quite amusing."

    Yin Jiuyou said:"Well, tell us!"

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"If we killed master Yan with one blow, it will be a waste. We should treat master Yan to the joys of torment before letting him die. I mean we as friends of master Yan, we owe him such a treatment."

    Du Qiaoqiao giggled:"A wonderful idea."

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"So, we all take turns to test our abilities on master Yan. The most vicious one will be the winner, but whoever kills master Yan will be punished."

    Yin Jiuyou started to laugh while Ha Ha'er was explaining:"Marvellous! A great idea! I want him to sample my Sinister Wind And Soul Searching Hands, I guarantee that he will remember the pain even after his reincarnation."

    Du Qiaoqiao said:"My Dazzling Beauty Skill is not inferior to your hands."

    Li Dazui loudly called out:"My Bone Scraping Sabre techniques are not inferior to your skills either!"

    Du Qiaoqiao laughed:"And we mustn't forget about brother Du Sha, his Heart Piercing Blood Hands and our brother Ha Ha'er here are keen to have a go too. Ha Ha'er's Brain Cleansing Technique must have improved by a lot. Furthermore master Yan will be most disappointed if he didn't sample those two skills either."

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"Allright, who will start?"

    Du Qiaoqiao said:"Since it is your idea, you may have the honours."

    Ha Ha'er laughed happily:"Very well!" He raised his palm and gently touched the head of Yan Nantian.

    Two hours later, it was early in the morning. The sky was dark and there was a cold wind blowing outside.

    The once vigorous, powerful Yan Nantian was now tortured beyond recognition, anyone with a heart would not bare to see him in this state.

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"I have attacked six times by now, it is brother Li's turn."

    Li Dazui said:"No I won't lay a finger on him now."

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"If you don't, that means you have lost."

    Li Dazui angrilly said:"He's dead for the most part, a child could kill him with one hand. Why do you want me to strike him?"

    Yin Jiuyou said coldly:"Not necessarily."

    Li Dazui asked:"Do you have a manner in preserving his life but yet inflicting pain on him."

    Yin Jiuyou said coldly:"Most easy."

    Li Dazui said:"Well, by all means."

    Yin Jiuyou said:"When it is my turn I will show it to you."

    Li Dazui said angrilly:"You know he won't make it to your turn! You......"

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"Not use in quarelling now, let us ask physician Wan to examine him. He will know whether Yan Nantian can last another few rounds or not."

    Yin Jiuyou coldly sneered:"It is not difficult to make a diagnosis on Yan Nantian."

    Li Dazui said:"I will look for him."

    At this moment he had called Wan Chunliu over, Wan Chunliu was a short and skinny man with sharp eyes. His face never revealed a trace of emotion.

    Li Dazui must have told him what they wanted him to do, when he entered he just nodded lightly and went over to examine Yan Nantian. After one hour he had examined Yan Nantian from top to toe, but he did not touch him.

    Li Dazui impatiently asked:"Well, how is he?"

    Wan Chunliu said:"All his main acupoints, tendons, veins and arteries are destroyed. It is amazing that he is still alive."

    Li Dazui asked Yin Jiuyou with a smile:"Well, what do you think?"

    Yin Jiuyou said:"I think you're wrong."

    Wan Chunliu said:"Although my martial arts are not as good as yours, but I have a lot of confidence in my medical knowledge."

    Yin Jiuyou scoffed:"Confidence?!? If it wasn't for your superb knowledge in medicine, how was is it possible that within one night 97 people died in the city of Kaifeng? Who is responsible for their deaths? Have you forgotten?"

    Wan Chunliu said coldly:"Although I killed many people in my past, but I have saved a lot of lives too in these years. I remember when you came to this valley, I was already here. And if I wasn't present you would not be alive now."

    Yin Jiuyou was fuming with anger, but he could not retort this. When he fled into the valley he was heavily injured and his life was hanging on a thread at that time, it was Wan Chunliu who saved him. The Valley of Evil needed and still needs Wan Chunliu without any doubt.

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"Well, I believe we have absolute faith in the expert opinion of physician Wan. If he says so, I can conclude that none of us have lost. Let us all kill Yan Nantian together."

    Wan Chunliu said earnestly:"Wait, I would like to ask you to spare him."

    Yin Jiuyou said angrilly:"You....you want to save him?"

    Wan Chunliu stayed calm and said:"With such heavy injuries and still living is most peculiar. I have never seen this before in my life, he is useless to you but I do have some usage for him."

    Li Dazui asked:"You have use for him? How? Do you want to eat him too?"

    Wan Chunliu said:"He has been wounded at 30 different places on his body, I want to test my herbal medicines on him. If I succeed all of you can benefit from my findings."

    Yin Jiuyou scoffed:"Even if there are any findings, the first one to benefit from it will be Yan Nantian. After he's been healed, while you rescue us from his wrath?"

    Wan Chunliu said calmly:"Even if he won't die, he will remain an invalid both phsycically and mentally. You can take his life at any time, why the haste now."

    Yin Jiuyou grunted and stayed silent, Sima Yan had not said a word and was just looking at Ha Ha'er. Ha Ha'er was looking at Du Qiaoqiao.

    She said:"Well, whatever physician Wan wants......"

    Li Dazui loudly interrupted:"I don't agree! He is supposed to be my meal....I....."

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"There are enough corpses in the valley now, still fresh. You can have those, why do you insist on eating Yan Nantian."

    Li Dazui angrilly said:"I said it before, the meat of a dignitary tastes differently. Ten of those cannot even match one ounce of Yan Nantian. Whoever wants to claim Yan Nantian will have to go through me first."

    Ha Ha'er shrugged and looked at Du Qiaoqiao, she shrugged too and looked at Wan Chunliu, she giggled:"I have tried, do not blame me."

    Wan Chunliu coldly said:"The 30 wounds on this man's body could at least produce 30 new types of herbal medicine. Of those 30 new medicine one could save your lives someday."

    Sima Yan suddenly said:"I think our lives have a bigger priority than the dishes of brother Li."

    Li Dazui shouted:"Who do you think you are giving opinions here! Shut up!"

    Sima Yan was not angered and smiled:"In my humble opinion, I think the chances of brother Li actually using those new medicine in the future is very big."

    Du Qiaoqiao giggled:"I think you're right."

    Li Dazui wanted to protest again but he now saw the cold stares everyone was giving him. No one in the world could become angry when one saw those cold looks.
    He sighed deeply and smiled wryly:"The cooked goose has flown off again."

    Du Qiaoqiao laughed:"Physician Wan, what are you waiting for? Yan Nantian is yours."

    Wan Chunliu did not look happy or pleased, he just casually said:"Thank you." He took out a bottle of pills from his robe and put a few pills in the mouth of Yan Nantian.

    Suddenly all of them heard the crying of a baby.

    Li Dazui glared up and said:"Of course, there is the baby."

    Ha Ha'er looked at Yin Jiuyou and asked:"And?"

    Yin Jiuyou said:"Kill it."

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"Brother Li must be waiting for his meal now."

    Li Dazui said with a big smile:"The meat of a child will taste wonderful too, but there isn't too much of it unfortunately."

    He walked over with his big smile, suddenly Du Qiaoqiao said:"Wait a minute!"

    Li Dazui frowned and said:"What?"

    Du Qiaoqiao said:"You can't kill this child!"

    Li Dazui said angrilly:"You b-i-t-c-h! Why can't I eat this brat?"

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"This time little Qiao is at wrong. This child will grow up to be a threat when we let him alive. Why not give him to brother Li and be done with it."

    Du Qiaoqiao did not respond to him but asked:"I would like to ask everyone here a question. We are all evil people, but who is the most evil one in this world."

    Li Dazui angrilly said:"What kind of question is that! Ridiculous! What are you up to?"

    Du Qiaoqiao smiled:"I am just asking and you might as well just answer me. I can guarantee that the child will not lose an ounce of meat after you've answered."

    Li Dazui grunted and angrilly sat in a corner.

    Ha Ha'er laughed loudly:"Well, the most evil one must be little Du."

    Du Qiaoqiao smiled:"Thanks for the compliment, but...."

    Li Dazui angrilly shouted:"What! What does she know! The most evil fiend in the world?!? Just because she knows a few idiotic tricks? She doesn't even have the courage to eat human flesh."

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"Since you put it that way, brother Li must be the most evil one."

    Du Qiaoqiao giggled:"Well, I agree with him that I am not the most evil one. Fair is fair brother Li isn't either. I mean I once knew a stableboy who could eat a couple kilos of meat too."

    Li Dazui asked:"In your opinion who is?"

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"I know Yin Jiuyou."

    Du Qiaoqiao said:"Well, old Yin is vicious, cruel and ruthless. However you can see right away that Yin Jiuyou is a bad man, so everyone will be on his guard when they see him."

    Ha Ha'er said:"So he isn't the most evil one either."

    Du Qiaoqiao giggled:"Unless he learns the concealed dagger within a smile techniques. Smiling and calling one brother while reaching for your weapon......"

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"Hahahaha, concealed dagger within a smile.....Little Du is talking about me."

    Du Qiaoqiao smiled:"Right! Brother Ha Ha has the face of a virtuous monk and nobody will know he is an evil man. His victims won't even know what hit them."

    Ha Ha'er laughed and clapped:"Hahaha, wonderful! If I am the most evil man on the world that would be nice. But when I see brother Du Sha I am most afraid, he is much more evil than I."

    Yin Jiuyou coldly interrupted:"The only thing he is capable of is killing. What else is he good at?"

    Du Qiaoqiao said with a smile:"Exactly. That is why we are standing here, while brother Du Sha is injured. If he was the most evil person around we would be the injured ones."

    Ha Ha'er looked at Sima Yan now and said:"Right, how can we forget brother Sima. Hahaha! Who hasn't heard of the venomous intestines gutting sword, slicing people like slicing garlic."

    Sima Yan smiled:"Although I have acquired a small, insignificant infamous name in the realm, however how can I compare to the legendary ten great malavolents. I pale in your comparison."

    Du Qiaoqiao said:"Right, how about the remaining five malavolents?"

    Sima Yan smiled:"In my humble opinion the remaining five are not much better than you. For example the mad lion Tie Zhan should not really be listen amongst the ten great malavolents."

    Du Qiaoqiao said:"The mad lion really doesn't hold back when he is insane, he will even fight his own son if he's gone. But only a few have died at his hands and he isn't always mad."

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"If the mad lion isn't suitable, how about the lethal enchantress Xiao Mimi. I think the famous filial son would sell his mother to be close to Xiao Mimi."

    Du Qiaoqiao said:"Her mesmerizing skills are awesome but truly enchanted by her are only young lads of 17, 18, 20 year old. If she meets up with old Li Dazui here, he will eat her alive."

    Li Dazui coldly said:"Of course neither male nor female will not fall for her tricks either."

    Ha Ha'er anxiously asked:"Well, it isn't me or you. Who is the most evil one in the world? Don't tell me it is some faithfull old monk in a Buddhist temple."

    Du Qiaoqiao said:"All of us are about the same level when it comes to being evil, ruthless, vicious. None of us is more evil than the other."

    Li Dazui said in an annoyed tone:"So all this talk was a waste of our time!"

    Du Qiaoqiao ignored him and continued:"Although the most evil person has not been created yet, but soon he will be."

    When she said this everyone was very curious and asked simultaneously:"Who?"

    Du Qiaoqiao blinked her eyes and said:"This crying baby."

    Everyone was stunned when they heard her.

    The first one to break out in laughter was Li Dazui, he laughed loudly:"You say that he is the most evil person in the world? Hahahaha......."

    Du Qiaoqiao ignored him and continued:"This child doesn't understand a thing now, we will teach and tell him everything. He will listen to our every word, if we tell him that crows are white he won't say that is not true."

    Li Dazui said:"Rubbish again!"

    Du Qiaoqiao said:"He will be raised by us, he will listen to us. Everything he hears and sees will be our words and actions, what will he grow out to be when he is older?"

    Li Dazui could not help himself but say:"A true demon."

    Du Qiaoqiao laughed:"Not any demon, the world's most evil demon. Think about it, if he can learn every dirty trick of everyone in this valley nobody can be more evil, vicious, ruthless than he is."

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"Even real demons would run away from him."

    "Right. If real demons would fear him, imagine when he will enter the realm of martial arts."

    Ha Ha'er clapped his hands and laughed:"The entire wulin will be in turmoil at that time."

    Du Qiaoqiao said:"Exactly! We're forced into this valley and we can't vent our anger on Wulin. This child is a gift, he will avenge us."

    At this point Yin Jiuyou had a smile on his face and said:"A good plan."

    Ha Ha'er laughed very loud and kept clapping his hands:"Hahaha, only little Du can think of such a wonderful idea."

    Li Dazui bit his lip and looked pensive, suddenly he said:"This idea is not good enough."

    Du Qiaoqiao asked:"Why is it not good enough?"

    Li Dazui said:"Well, no doubt he will become evil. But he won't look strange, I suggest we chop off one of his legs. So he won't be normal and will take out his frustration on the world."

    Ha Ha'er said:"Hmmm....sounds logical."

    Du Qiaoqiao giggled:"Don't listen to him, this Li Dazui just wants to taste the meat of this child here. Since he can't have the entire baby, he wants to settle for just a leg."

    Li Dazui jumped up and cursed:"Damn you! You filthy androgynous b-i-t-c-h! I have eaten almost everything in my life, but I haven't tasted the meat of androgynous s-l-u-t-. One of these days I will deep-fry one part of you and steam the other part."

    "You want to eat me? Aren't you afraid you will die of poison?"

    From then on there was a child in the Valley of Evil, everyone calls him Xiao Yu'er; the little spared fish in the net. Gradually Xiao Yu'er grew up, the closest people to him were uncle Du Sha, uncle Ha Ha'er (or better known as the laughing uncle), uncle Yin Jiuyou, uncle Li Dazui, uncle Wan Chunliu and another uncle-----no actually an aunt, auntie Du.

    Xiao Yu'er grew up with these uncles and aunt, one month he woud live with uncle Du, the second month with uncle Li and so on.

    The strictest one was uncle Du. Uncle Du only had one hand and never smiled, whenever Xiao Yu'er's progress in martial arts was a bit too slow he would spank Xiao Yu'er. In the beginning Xiao Yu'er would often be spanked but later on the chances of being hit were getting slimmer and slimmer.

    Xiao Yu'er had a wonderful time with laughing uncle Ha Ha'er, he loved to laugh and he demanded that Xiao Yu'er would laugh with him. But the awful part is that he had to laugh even when his buttocks were hurting a lot too.

    Xiao Yu'er was most terrified when he spent time with uncle Yin. This uncle Yin sort of emit a cold air from his body even in the Summer. Xiao Yu'er would tremble just sitting next to him, the jaws of Xiao Yu'er would hurt when he spent a month with uncle Ha Ha. With uncle Yin he could rest his jaws for awhile, nobody could laugh in the presence of uncle Yin.

    Xiao Yu'er had a horrible time with uncle Li, he would also sniff his body making him very uncomfortable. But his most peculiar time would be with auntie Du. Auntie Du would sometimes suddenly turn into a man, he wasn't sure whether auntie Du was actually an aunt or an uncle.

    The most special time would be with uncle Wan. Uncle Wan never smiled either but he looked friendlier than uncle Du. And his voice was much nicer too. He would always feed herbal medicines too Xiao Yu'er and made him bathe in medicinal herbal baths, sometimes Xiao Yu'er could not stand it.

    In the house of uncle Wan was another uncle. This uncle medicine cabinet would only sit there and eat medicine and nothing else. So Xiao Yu'er called him a medicine cabinet, like a medicine cabinet it just stores all kinds of herbal drugs. Even more than Xiao Yu'er.

    Xiao Yu'er felt sorry for uncle medicine cabinet, because he knew the sorrows of only eating those herbal medicine. But the strange thing was that this uncle would never speak, nor move. Furthermore his eyes were always closed.

    Besides them there were a lot of other uncles, one uncle made very nice figurines from clay. Xiao Yu'er was very fond of him, but suddenly he was gone one day.

    Xiao Yu'er looked for him everywhere and asked a lot of other people but nobody knew where he went. So he asked auntie Du, she pointed at the stomache of Li Dazui and said:"He is in the tummy of uncle Li now."

    "How can a grown man hide in the stomach of uncle Li?"

    Xiao Yu'er did not understand.

    However uncle Li went missing to once.

    At a certain day he yelled loudly:"I can't stand it here anymore!"

    And then he was gone.

    After half a month he came back and he was covered in wounds, he almost died.

    Auntie Du even laughed at him:"I told you not to leave the valley. Now do you believe me why? If we stay in the valley nobody can harm us, because no one dares to set foot in the valley. But if we go out, we will become meek sheep in the hands of butchers."

    When Xiao Yu'er was not even five years old yet, he was taken to Du Sha and was given a small dagger and there was also a dog in the room.

    Xiao Yu'er was surprised and asked:"Where....where is the knife for?"

    Du Sha answered:"The knife can be used to kill people, but it can also be used to kill dogs."

    Xiao Yu'er added:"It can also be used to chop meat and vedgetables, right?"

    Du Sha said coldly:"This is not a kitchen knife."

    Xiao Yu'er said:"I don't want this knife, I want a kitchen....."

    Du Sha interrupted:"Stop talking and kill that dog."

    Xiao Yu'er said:"If the dog is naughty just kick it, why should we kill it?"

    Du Sha said angrilly:"I told you to kill it!"

    Xiao Yu'er was about to break out in tears and said:"I.....don't.....want...."

    Du Sha said:"You don't want to kil it? Good!"

    He walked out of the room and closed the door.

    Xiao Yu'er shouted:"Let me out! Uncle Du, let me out! I want to go out....."

    Du Sha said from behind the door:"Kill the dog first!"

    Xiao Yu'er said:"I can't kill it, I am no match for the dog."

    Du Sha said:"If you can't kill it, let the dog eat you alive."

    Xiao Yu'er cried and yelled, he cried so long that his eyes were swollen and his voice was hoarse now from shouting. But Du Sha did not open the door and Xiao Yu'er stopped crying and shouting.

    If there is nobody around, children will often stop crying. It is as simple as that, however not many parents are aware of this little fact.

    Xiao Yu'er looked at the dog and the dog was looking at him. It was not a very big dog, but it looked quite mean and Xiao Yu'er was afraid of it.

    He was holding the knife and sat there. It was after a very long time he stomach started to growl, the dog started to bark too. Xiao Yu'er remembered now that he had not eaten yet.

    Xiao Yu'er said to the dog:"Little dog, don't bark anymore I haven't eaten too."

    The dog barked louder and his red tongue was licking Xiao Yu'er, Xiao Yu'er became even more afraid and clutched tightly to his knife. He said:"Little dog, I am very hungry too but I won't eat you. But you're not allowed to eat me either when you're hungry."

    The dog barked one more time and jumped at Xiao Yu'er.

    Xiao Yu'er shouted:"I am not tasty........ Don't eat me......"

    Du Sha who was standing outside heard the barking becoming fiercer and louder, all of a sudden the barking died out. After waiting for another few moments he opened the door.

    He saw Xiao Yu'er lying on the floor with a knife in his hand, like the dog he was covered with blood. But the only difference was he was alive and the dog dead.
    Du Sha picked him up and asked:"How many times did you use the knife?"

    Xiao Yu'er said:"Ten....... twenty, I don't remember anymore."

    Du Sha said:"You were reluctant to kill it in the beginning, right?"

    Xiao Yu'er said:"The dog wanted to eat me, I..... I had no choice but...."

    Du Sha said:"Exactly, if you don't kill it, it will eat you. If you don't kill, you will be killed. Remember this lesson."

    Xiao Yu'er nodded:"Yes."

    Du Sha said:"If you attacked first you wouldn't be injured this badly..... If you know you have no choice why wait till the dog attacked you? Are you dumber than a dog?"

    Xiao Yu'er answered:"The next time I will know what to do."

    Du Sha said:"Very good! Remember, all the people in the world are like that dog. You have to strike first and don't wait till your opponent attacks first. Do you understand?"

    Xiao Yu'er said:"Yes."

    Du Sha asked:"Are you sure you won't forget?"

    Xiao Yu'er replied:"I will never forget this lesson in my life."

    Du Sha looked at Xiao Yu'er and smiled.

    Xiao Yu'er had to stay at Wan Chunliu for at least ten days before he could walk again, he already had some scars but now there were even more.

    After a few more days Du Sha took him him to his place again. There was another dog, this time a much bigger dog.

    Du Sha said:"Do you still have that knife?"

    Xiao Yu'er nodded and turned pale and could not speak anymore.

    Du Sha said:"Good! Kill this dog too!"

    Xiao Yu'er stuttered:"This dog is very big....."

    Du Sha asked:"Are you afraid?"

    Xiao Yu'er nodded heavily and replied:"Very afraid."

    Du Sha angrilly said:"Useless."

    He turned around and closed the door again.

    After awhile the dog barked loudly and for a very long time. Du Sha opened the door and saw the dog was dead, Xiao Yu'er was alive.

    Although this time he was again covered in blood but he was standing. There were tears in his eyes and bit his lip, he said loudly:"I killed it and used my knife seven times."

    Du Sha asked:"Are you still afraid?"

    Xiao Yu'er replied:"No, but earlier....."

    Du Sha said:"What was the use of being afraid earlier? You have to kill it anyhow, regardless of the fact whether you're afraid or not. The dog still wanted to eat you. Do you understand?"

    Xiao Yu'er said:"Yes, I understand now."

    Du Sha asked:"Do you know why you're injured?"

    Xiao Yu'er lowered his head and said:"Because I was afraid and did not dare to attack first."

    Du Sha said:"Allright! Will you be afraid the next time?"

    Xiao Yu'er made two little fists and said:"No, I will not be afraid the next time."

    Du Sha looked at Xiao Yu'er and smiled again.

    This time Xiao Yu'er recovered faster, but when he was better again Du Sha would take him to his room. The dogs became bigger and bigger and fiercer and fiercer.

    However Xiao Yu'er was injured less severe every time and every time he was finished quicker than the previous time.

    Till the sixth time, Du Sha closed the door there was no dog. There was a small wolf.

    In the end Xiao Yu'er was lying in bed, taking medicine and lots more of medicine.

    One day Ha Ha'er came to visit Xiao Yu'er. Xiao Yu'er wanted to laugh but could not laugh.

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"Little Xiao Yu'er is lying here. The wolf didn't eat you."

    Xiao Yu'er said:"Laughing uncle, don't be angry."

    Ha Ha'er asked:"Angry for what?"

    Xiao Yu'er said:"I want to laugh, but..... but if I laugh my entire body hurts. I can't laugh now."

    Ha Ha'er laughed loudly:"Dumb child, let me tell you something. Sometimes when I am laughing I am in pain too, but the more pain I am in, the louder I laugh."

    Xiao Yu'er blinked his eyes with disbelief and asked:"Why?"

    Ha Ha'er said:"You should know that laughing is the best cure in the world. Not only that, it is also a powerful weapon, I have never seen a more effective weapon in my life."

    Xiao Yu'er stared at Ha Ha'er with disbelief again:"Weapon...... Laughing can kill wolves?"

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"Not only can it kill wolves, it can also kill men."

    XiaoYu'er looked pensive for a moment and said:"I don't understand."

    Ha Ha'er asked:"Do you know why you're hurt every time?"

    Xiao Yu'er replied:"I really don't know. I.... I am not afraid anymore, I am really not afraid anymore. It must be that my martial arts aren't good enough and I can't kill it with one stab."

    Ha Ha'er asked again:"Why can't you kill it with one stab?"

    Xiao Yu'er started saying:"Because my martial arts....."

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"It has nothing to do with your martial arts. It is because you don't laugh or smile. Even though dogs and wolves do not talk, that doesn't mean they do not understand our actions. The moment you walk into the room they know you're up to no good and are suspicious of you. So even if you strike first, it is in vain."

    Xiao Yu'er was listening attentively and kept nodding:"Yes, you're right."

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"So the next time you enter the room, always smile. It doesn't matter whether it is a dog, wolf or even a tiger always maintain your smile. That way it won't be suspicous of you."

    Xiao Yu'er said:"So that way I can kill it without being noticed."

    Ha Ha'er clapped his hands and laughed:"Good! If it doesn't suspect you and regards you as a friend. You can kill it with one stab, it sounds simple. But it is most effective."

    Xiao Yu'er said:"That way I won't be injured anymore."

    Ha Ha'er said:"Exactly! No matter if it is a dog, wolf even a human, it won't harm someone who has no ill intentions towards him. Just smile, laugh the entire time. Even when you stab him maintain your smile, even in his final moments it won't be suspicious of you."

    Xiao Yu'er said:"But.... but that isn't the way of a hero...."

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"Silly child! It wants to kill you. So you're bound to kill it first, since you have made up your mind to kill it, so it doesn't matter what methods you choose."

    Xiao Yu'er smiled happily:"I understand now."

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"Good child! Now you're a good boy."

    From then on Xiao Yu'er did not get wounded anymore. He had killed five dogs, four wolves, one lynx and a young tiger. He had about 20 scars on his body and he was not even six years old by that time.

    This year four people came to the Valley of Evil, but Xiao Yu'er was not interested in them. He felt that he was much stronger than those four newcomers.

    After some time......

    At a certain day, he suddenly asked Du Qiaoqiao:"Auntie Du, everyone says that you're a very intelligent person. Is that true?"

    Du Qiaoqiao giggled:"Who said that? ....... But that person is very right."

    Xiao Yu'er asked:"And is it true that you have a lot of strange but funny objects?"

    Du Qiaoqiao giggled:"You little mischief! What are you up to?"

    Xiao Yu'er blinked with his bright eyes and said:"If I wanted to stand up for you, will you give me one of your funny items?"

    Du Qiaoqiao asked:"Why should you want to stand up for me?"

    Xiao Yu'er smiled:"Well, unlce Li often makes you angry, but you cannot think of a way to deal with him...."

    Du Qiaoqiao said:"So in other words you have a way to deal with him?"

    Xiao Yu'er nodded and smiled.

    Du Qiaoqiao asked:"Well, what is that plan of yours?"

    Xiao Yu'er said:"Well, all I need is some herbs of auntie Du?"

    Du Qiaoqiao said:"Herbs? For herbs you need to go to Wan Chunliu."

    Xiao Yu'er said:"He doesn't have those herbs, but you do."

    Du Qiaoqiao shook her head and smiled:"You have me totally confused you little brat. Allright, what kind or herb do you need?"

    Xiao Yu'er laughed:"A smelly one, the smellier the better."

    Du Qiaoqiao stared at him for a moment and suddenly started to laugh loudly:"You, little devil! Now I know."

    Xiao Yu'er blinked and asked:"You know?"

    Du Qiaoqiao giggled:"You, little brat! Perhaps you can fool others but you cannot fool me. You hate it when Li Dazui sniffs at you, so you want to hide a package of smelly herbs on your body and let him sniff at you. However you're afraid of him, so you come up with a plot to drag me into your scheme. Not only do you have a strong back-up but also you can get into my good books."

    Xiao Yu'er blushed a bit and laughed:"Auntie Du is very smart."

    Du Qiaoqiao praised:"You're not stupid either."

    Xiao Yu'er said:"Compared to auntie Du....."

    Du Qiaoqiao giggled:"Xiao Yu'er, think about it. How old are you? If you reach my age, think of your possibilities....... You're a good child, no wonder I cherish you like treasure."

    Xiao Yu'er lowered his head and said:"The herbs...."

    Du Qiaoqiao laughed:"Of course I have those herbs, it is so smelly that it can kill."

    From that day on Li Dazui did not dare to sniff at Xiao Yu'er anymore. He vomitted for about two hours and could not eat for an entire day.

    The next day he seized Xiao Yu'er and said:"You stinky Yu'er! Did you get those herbs from Du Qiaoqiao?!?"

    Xiao Yu'er just giggled.

    Li Dazui said hatefully:"Aren't you afraid that I will eat you up!"

    Xiao Yu'er giggled:"My meat is smelly, I taste awful."

    Li Dazui scolded and laughed at the same time:"Good! You little demon, I won't eat you and I won't hit you. But I want you to punish Du Qiaoqiao for helping you. If you succeed I have a present for you."

    Xiao Yu'er asked:"Really?"

    Li Dazui said:"Of course."

    At dusk, Xiao Yu'er was having dinner with Du Qiaoqiao. There was a plate of roasted meat on the table. Xiao Yu'er kept putting pieces of meat into Du Qiaoqiao's bowl of rice.

    He laughed:"Auntie Du likes this roasted meat, eat some more."

    Du Qiaoqiao giggled:"You really know how to curry for favour."

    Xiao Yu'er said:"Well, auntie is nice to me. So I am nice to auntie."

    Du Qiaoqiao asked:"Why aren't you eating?"

    Xiao Yu'er said:"No, I don't want it."

    Du Qiaoqiao laughed:"Silly child! Are you reluctant to eat it? It is nothing special, you can have roasted meat every day if you want to."

    Xiao Yu'er's eyes twinkled and said:"There is something special about this meat."

    Du Qiaoqiao asked:"What?"

    Xiao Yu'er said:"I took this plate of roasted meat from uncle Li, I heard that....."

    Before he finished Du Qiaoqiao turned pale and stutttered:"Yester...... yesterday.... he killed....."

    Xiao Yu'er was smiling like an innocent child and nodded:"I think so."

    Du Qiaoqiao said:"You little brat..... "

    Before she could finish she was throwing up, she vomitted for about an hour and could not think of food for half a day.

    The quarters of Du Sha were at the remote corners of the Valley of Evil, quite desolate. The interior of his home was not too much better either. There was just one bed and that was it. It was the most simple house in the entire valley. Whenever Xiao Yu'er left the house of Du Qiaoqiao and was headed here, he was also quite gloomy. There were always maneating animals waiting for him, but he had to go anyhow.

    Today, Xiao Yu'er slowly staggered towards the house of Du Sha. Du Sha was sitting at the corner of the house, not moving. He wore a white robe. There was hardly any sun shining in his house, he looked like a snowman.

    Every time Xiao Yu'er saw him, Du Sha would sit at the same spot never different. Furthermore he never dared to speak to Du Sha.

    Du Sha coldly observed him for a moment and suddenly asked:"I hear you have a little box."

    Xiao Yu'er lowered his head and said:"Yes."

    Du Sha said:"I hear that your box is filled with all kinds of items."

    Xiao Yu'er said:"Yes."

    Du Sha said:"Tell me what you have in that box."

    Xiao Yu'er still did not lift up his head and said:"I...I have a package of smelly herbs, a very long stick and it can shoot many spikes out. A bottle of liquid that can turn both flesh and bone into water and....."

    Du Sha coldly interrupted:"Li Dazui and Du Qiaoqiao gave you these objects?"

    Xiao Yu'er answered:"Yes."

    Du Sha said:"I hear you've tricked them many times. You use the items of Du Qiaoqiao to trick Li Dazui and use the items Li Dazui ,gave you, to make fun of Du Qiaoqiao. Correct?"

    Xiao Yu'er said:"Yes."

    Du Sha asked:"Aren't you afraid that they will kill you in a fit of rage?"

    Xiao Yu'er said:"In..in the beginning I was afraid. However later on I discovered that the meaner and craftier I am the happier they are. Especially auntie Du, she sometimes even allow me to trick her."

    Du Sha looked at him for awhile, he turned around and said:"Follow me!"

    Before nearing that awful room, Xiao Yu'er could already hear a series of fierce roars. Those roars were very frightening.

    Xiao Yu'er said with fear:"A tiger?"

    Du Sha grunted and opened the door and roared:"Quickly enter!"

    Xiao Yu'er took up the sabre and had no choice but to go in. Du Sha was standing outside the door again, he had a special ability he could stand there for 10 hours without changing position.

    But this time Xiao Yu'er was only inside for a few moments and the roaring stopped.

    After awhile, Xiao Yu'er called out:"Uncle Du, you can open the door now."

    Du Sha was surprised and said:"That fast?"

    Xiao Yu'er said:"Thanks to the skills uncle Du taught me."

    Du Sha grunted and opened the door.

    With a load roar a big tiger leapt out. Du Sha did not see this coming, he was expecting Xiao Yu'er and not a fierce tiger. In a shock he was a bit slow in his evasion and his shoulder was injured by the claws.

    The tiger became fiercer after smelling blood and jumped at Du Sha again. This jump was quicker and fiercer than any martial artists could do. But Du Sha was not anybody, he leapt up and landed on the back of the tiger. In his shock he did not forget to yell:"Xiao Yu'er, are you injured?"

    If the tiger was not dead, was Xiao Yu'er killed?

    However he could hear Xiao Yu'er giggling now:"Xiao Yu'er isn't hurt. I am right here."

    Du Sha looked up and saw a cute little boy eating an apple standing on a narrow beam on top of the door.

    In a flash Du Sha did not know whether to be happy or angry, because of this distraction the tiger threw him off his back.

    Xiao Yu'er yelled softly:"Be careful, uncle Du."

    The tiger turned around and attacked Du Sha again.

    This jump was a sure hit, Du Sha could not escape from those sharp claws. However he lowered his body and slipped under the tiger. He raised his right arm, and a loud horrific cry could be heard. Blood splattered everywhere around, the tiger wobbled a bit before falling down. It was dead.

    All the walls were covered with the blood of the tiger and the room was utterly chaotic. Du Sha stood up and half his body was covered in blood. After Yan Nantian broke off his right hand, Du Sha had replaced it with a metal, sharp hook. He used the hook to rip open the abdomen of the tiger.

    Xiao Yu'er dropped his apple and was patting himself on the chest, he was saying:"What a terrific scene! Almost scared me to death."

    Du Sha stood there and looked at him, not showing anger at all. He was as always cold and said coldly:"Come down."

    Xiao Yu'er held on both sides of the door and slipped down, he giggled:"Although the tiger was strong, but uncle Du was much stronger."

    Du Sha said:"I told you to kill the tiger, why didn't you?"

    Half his face was covered with blood and his other part of his face was as white as paper. The wind was blowing through the room and with the body of a dead tiger next to him, the scene was horrifying.

    But Xiao Yu'er was not afraid and giggled:"Uncle Du told me to kill the tiger, but I wanted to see how uncle kills the tiger."

    Du Sha said:"You wanted to kill me?"

    The part of his face, which was drenched with blood, was turing purple. The other part was darkening too. If a demon from the netherworld would come and one would compare their faces, the most horrifying face would belong to Du Sha.

    Xiao Yu'er was still smiling and giggled:"I would not dare to plot to kill you. The tiger was caught by uncle Du, therefore uncle Du is bound to be able to kill the tiger...... I already understood that all along."

    Du Sha coldly looked at him and did not speak.

    Frankly he did not know what to say.

    It was summer now, although the valley was in the shadow of the Kunlun Mountains, it was still very warm. And the sun would make one quite sleepy. It was noon now, the only time when the sun shone in the Valley of Evil. The inhabitants of the valley were not too keen on the sun, so they usually stayed inside when the sun shone.

    Only a cat was lying in the sun and some flies were flying about, those were the only active ones in the entire valley. At this point someone from outside the valley was running towards the valley. There was no one near chasing that man at all, in fact there seemd there was not a living soul in a radius of 50 kilometres. But he was still running, like he had seen a ghost. He was panting heavily but did not dare to slow down.

    His lightness martial arts were not bad, but his stamina was running out. It could be because of the running but it could also be that he has not eaten for days now. He does not look too ugly, but he has a very sharp nose. One look at him and one would dislike him immediately.

    He was wearing rather expensive clothes, woven by the best tailor. But now it looked like rags and it was smelly and dirty now. The sun was shining in his face and sweat was dripping from his face, but he did not care.

    When he saw the characters [Valley of Evil], he took a deep breath and felt relieved. But he did not slow down and even tried to increase his speed. When he entered the valley he was walking down the street, the sun brightened the houses but all the doors and windows were shut. He could not see anyone or hear a thing.
    He was somewhat surprised and was feeling anxious now, he wanted to call out but was afraid to do that.

    Suddenly he heard a voice from his left:"Hey!"

    It was not very loud, but it was enough to scare him silly. He saw someone sitting on a bamboo chair under the eaves of that house. It was boy about 13, 14 years old and was narrowing his eyes to take a look at him. The young boy was topless and there were uncountable scars on his body. There was a scar from the corner of his eye to the corner of his mouth, his black hair was casually tied and he was stretching his arms and legs. He looked very carefree and it seemed he would not care even if the sky fell down.

    He looked tired like an old man, but his eyes twinkled like a naughty boy with one gaze he looked like a small child. Somehow this lazy, naughty looking boy with uncountable scars had a very strong charisma.

    Especially his face, even with the scar. He did not look ugly, the scar added something special, something charismatic to him.

    The first impression when one sees this naughty and lazy boy was that he is very handsome. Extremely handsome even.

    The man was stunned after looking once at him, he was thinking what would girls do if they saw that handsome young boy.

    The young boy seemed to want to wave at him, but seemingly he was too lazy to raise his hand, he smiled:"Why are you lurking about? Come over here."

    The man walked over and coughed lightly before smiling apologetically:"My respects, young brother."

    The young boy laughed:"Do you know me?"

    The man said:"No.... no I don't."

    The young boy said:"Since you don't know me, why would you pay respects to me?"

    The man was stunned and did not know what to say, he stammered:"I....this..." Normally he felt that he was quite eloquent but now he did not know what to say.

    The young boy laughed loudly:"Hahaha! I am Xiao Yu'er and who are you?"

    The man said:"I am Ba Shudong, the tiger killing constellation."

    Xiao Yu'er giggled:"Tiger killing constellation? Nice name! How many tigers have you killed?"

    Ba Shudong was again stunned and stuttered:"Ehh, I...."

    Xiao Yu'er laughed:"I have killed many tigers, even I am not called the tiger killing constellation. You haven't killed any tiger at all and you're called the tiger killing constellation. How unfair!"

    Ba Shudong was standing were flabbergasted, if this was not the Valley of Evil he would chop off the head of this boy.

    Xiao Yu'er said:"Judging by your expression, you must be running away from some enemies with some mediocre martial arts. Tell me who those people are."

    Ba Shudong remained silent for a moment before saying:"I have made many enemies, amongst them the Two Swords of Jiangnan, the Ding brothers, the Ill Tiger, Chang Feng, the dragon of Jiangbei, Tian Ba....."

    "I thought you had some impressive enemies, these people..... I have heard of them but they're not formidable or anything."

    Ba Shudong said coldly:"My young friend, you sound quite arrogant."

    Xiao Yu'er laughed:"My old friend, you're too cowardly."

    Ba Shudong gritted his teeth and said:"Perhaps these people aren't too great, but one of them is very famous and very much feared."

    Xiao Yu'er asked:"Who? Some ghost perhaps?"

    Ba Shudong ignored that remark and said softly:"This person is very very famous now."

    Xiao Yu'er asked:"What is his name?"

    Ba Shudong replied:"She is called Zhang Qing, the little fairy."

    Xiao Yu'er said:"Little fairy? Sounding by her name she should be a pretty young woman, everyone would like pretty girls like her. Why should they fear her?"

    Ba Shudong said hatefully:"This little wretch looks pretty, but she is very vicious and ruthless. Perhaps even surpassing Du Sha."

    Xiao Yu'er said:"That such a girl exits?"

    Ba Shudong was gritting his teeth and continued:"My five brothers were all killed by her in one night, the six constellations of the tiger forest, only I have survived."

    Xiao Yu'er said:"I would like to meet her, if I have the chance."

    Ba Shudong said:"You will regret the moment when you see her."

    Xiao Yu'er said:"Tell me how you offended her."

    Ba Shudong said angrilly:"You have a lot of questions."

    Xiao Yu'er laughed:"It is a rule."

    Ba Shudong was surprised and remained silent for a moment, at last he laughed:"Allright! My brothers raped the sister and widow of the deceased chief of the the united armed guards agency of Zhenyuan, Weiyuan and Lingyuan, Shen Qinghong."

    Xiao Yu'er gazed at Ba Shudong for a moment and said:"That is an evil deed! What you did is hardly worth mentioning, similar to what ordinary crooks would do! Nothing special."

    Ba Shudong angrilly said:"It is nothing special! Although Shen Qinhong lost the treasure he was supposed to protect and has vanished without a trace for many years. But his wife and sister are still very much respected by Wulin, therefore...."

    Xiao Yu'er shook his head and laughed:"No matter how you put it, with that deed you're not fit to enter this valley yet. Unless...."

    Ba Shudong asked:"What is going on here?"

    Xiao Yu'er answered:"It is a rule."

    Ba Shudong did not dare to break the rules of the Valley of Evil, especially now he was in it. He laughed and asked:"Unless what?"

    Xiao Yu'er laughed:"Unless you present two nice treasures to me."

    Ba Shudong said:"I rushed over here and have no presents on me."

    Xiao Yu'er said:"Since you have no presents, show me a few of your special skills."

    Ba Shudong's face changed and was stunned, after awhile he said:"Very well!"

    He pulled out a flexible sabre from his girdle, he shook the sabre and started to display three of his best techniques. Flashes of light could be seen, those three stances were quite good. It was called the three tiger killing special stances. The three techniques were swift, lethal and precise.

    Xiao Yu'er shook his head and laughed:"This is what you call your best skills? Exactly like the crime you commited, laughable and low. I think you're not qualified to stay here, you must think of another way if you want to stay."

    Ba Shudong asked:"What...what kind of way?"

    Xiao Yu'er's eyes twinkled and laughed:"Kneel down and kowtow three times to me. And call me [grandfather] three times and give me your sabre."

    Ba Shudong said:"Is this another rule?"

    Xiao Yu'er replied:"Yes, it is."

    Ba Shudong shouted:"I.... I never heard of such a rule of the Valley of Evil!"

    Xiao Yu'er laughed:"Who told you it was a rule of the valley?"

    Ba Shudong was flabbergasted and said:"But... but..."

    Xiao Yu'er giggled:"It is my rule."

    Ba Shudong was so angry he was shaking, he roared:"I will give it to you!"

    He hacked at Xiao Yu'er with his sabre.

    The lazy looking Xiao Yu'er was not lazy anymore, he smoothly glided away. Ba Shudong's hack missed Xiao Yu'er and hacked the bamboo chair in two halves.
    Ba Shudong was surprised and heard someone saying:"I am here, can't you see me?"

    Ba Shudong turned around to slice the speaker but missed again, laughter was coming from the roof. Xiao Yu'er giggled:"Don't be hasty, I am right over here."

    Ba Shudong was furious and wanted to leap up too.

    Suddenly someone called:"Is that second brother Ba?"

    A man was running towards Ba Shudong, he was about the same age as Ba Shudong. Somewhere in between 40 and 50 years old, but his movements were much swifter than Ba Shudong.

    The man was tall and skinny, he looked very mean and his right arm sleeve was swaying along with him. He had only one arm.

    Ba Shudong looked carefully and said happily:"Is that the silent lightning blade third brother Song? You.... you are really here, I had been looking for you. I came to seek refuge here."

    Xiao Yu'er laughed:"So you two blades know each other."

    Ba Shudong looked up and was furious again, he said:"Brother Song, this little brat......"

    Before he could finish, Song San pulled him away and said with a smile:"Since you're here, I will take you to meet...."

    Xiao Yu'er giggled:"Wait, wait! Before you lead him away, he has to pay for the broken chair."

    Ba Shudong angrilly said:"You...."

    Song San quickly interrupted him and smiled:"Of course, of course he will pay for the chair. But how much will it cost?"

    Xiao Yu'er laughed:"Since he is your friend, just tell him to leave his sabre behind."

    Ba Shudong shouted:"That broken chair.... you want my ...."

    Before he could finish Song San took his sabre and presented it to Xiao Yu'er. Ba Shudong wanted to speak but was again stopped by Song San.
    He quickly pulled him away and both of them quickly ran off.

    After putting some distance between them and Xiao Yu'er, Song San sighed:"Why did you antagonize that little mischief immediately after you entered the valley?"
    Ba Shudong was surprised and shocked:"Brother, why are you that afraid of him?"

    Song San smiled wryly:"Don't underestimate him. Who isn't afraid of him in the entire valley? In these recent years, this little mischief has everyone in the valley fretting and worrying. Whoever annoys him will suffer badly within three days."

    Ba Shudong was so surprised and did not know what he heard, he said:"That little brat is really that formidable?"

    Song San sighed:"Listen to me, being humiliated by this little brat is not a disgrace. Think about it, there are no good men here in this valley. With his young age he was able to run amok freely in the valley, have you considered how lethal he is?"

    Ba Shudong stuttered:"I...I can't believe it. I really cann...cannot believe it."

    Now he noticed that Song San only had one arm and asked with shock:"Brother, your...your arm... was it...."

    Song San sighed:"It is not his doing, but he has something to do with it."

    He looked at his own armless sleeve and sighed:"I lost my arm the day he entered the valley. 14 years, it has been 14 years. The awesome martial arts of Yan Nantian, if I did not make a prompt decision I wouldn't have lived till today."

    Ba Shudong exclaimed with surprise:"Yan Nantian? That little brat is Yan Nantian....aarrrgggh."

    Before he could finish he shouted loudly with pain and fell down. There was a hole in his back, blood was gushing out of the hole.

    Song San was terrified and turned around, he saw a ghostly apparition in a grey robe. It was floating about and was looking at him with his deep eyes.

    Song San turned pale and stuttered with a trembling voice:"Mr.... Mr. Yin..... Mr.. Yin, you...."

    Yin Jiuyou laughed sinisterly:"Nobody in this valley is allowed to speak of the relationship of Xiao Yu'er and that Yan fellow! Have you forgotten?"

    Song San said:"I....I didn't have the chance to tell him that."

    Yin Jiuyou smiled evily:"Before you could tell him, I already killed him. Are you unhappy about that?"

    Song San backed away and stammered:"I....I...."

    Suddenly he flew up about eight metres into the air and landed on the ground without a trace of injury, but he did not move anymore.

    An old smiling woman was standing where Song San was before, she was holding a cane and could not stand up straight.

    She laughed:"Old Yin Jiuyou, were you benevolent to him? The moment he spoke you should have killed him, why did you not kill him instantly?"

    Yin Jiuyou said:"I wanted to leave him to you."

    The old woman said:"Leave him to me? I haven't killed for a long time, were you afraid that my hands would itch?"

    Yin Jiuyou said coldly:"I just wanted to see whether your delicate hands have improved or not?"

    The old woman laughed loudly:"Well, did they improve? Do you want to see how delicate they are?" Her voice changed from old to clear, young and melodious. It was the voice of Du Qiaoqiao.

    Yin Jiuyou said sinsterly:"If you want to accompany this ghost, I suggest you would wear better clothes."

    Du Qiaoqiao laughed:"I am too old now, how can I keep pretending to be a young girl?"

    Yin Jiuyou laughed strangely:"No matter what you say, the next time I see a young pretty girl I will think it is you. If you want to enchant this ghost you still lack the skills."

    Du Qiaoqiao said with a smile:"Allright, I know you're clever..... Say, did that little devil hear the conversation of those?"

    Yin Jiuyou said:"If you don't know, how should I know?"

    Suddenly they heard the singing laughter of Xiao Yu'er coming from afar:"A bottle vinegar, a broken nose. Marry a woman and have baby. But the baby has no nose....."

    Du Qiaoqiao laughed:"Old Xi is in trouble again, the little brat is at his place."

    Yin Jiuyou said:"If he is at old Xi's, he could not have heard the words of these two."

    All of a sudden a man laughed loudly:"What are the two of you talking about? Hmmm, one man and one woman. One ghost and one human-----That makes four of you, isn't that strange?"

    Du Qiaoqiao did not turn around and laughed:"Li Dazui, there are two corpses here. Stuff those in your mouth please."

    Li Dazui laughed:"I don't have the appetite to eat those who have died at your hands."

    Yin Jiuyou asked:"Are you going to see brother Du Sha?"

    Li Dazui said:"Yes, I am. Ha Ha'er called us all over, I wonder what he wants."

    So the three of them set off to the house of Du Sha, but they kept at least four metres apart from each other. It seems that they were unwilling to stand to close to their companions.

    Du Sha as usual was sitting in his corner not moving.

    When everyone was assembled, Ha Ha'er laughed:"Hahaha, it has been a long time since all of us have gathered."

    Yin Jiuyou coldly said:"I hate gatherings, what is it that you want? If you don't have anything to say, I will....."

    Ha Ha'er quickly raised his hands and said:"Don't threaten me, don't forget I am coward."

    Du Qiaoqiao asked:"Did you call us over to discuss Xiao Yu'er?"

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"Little Du is always the smartest one."

    Yin Jiuyou said:"About that little mischief? What is there to discuss? All of us taught him something, to kill, to laugh, to cry.... Well, now he has learnt everything."

    Ha Ha'er said:"Because he has learnt everything, I called for this meeting."

    Li Dazui asked:"Why?"

    Ha Ha'er sighed:"I can't take it anymore."

    Du Qiaoqiao laughed:"The always laughing Ha Ha'er is actually sighing, I think he really can't stand it anymore."

    Ha Ha'er said:"This little overlord goes anywhere he wants, he eats and drinks anything he desires. Nobody dares to antagonize him, everyone fears him in the Valley of Evil. For the past few months, 30 people have come by to cry their grievances to me."

    Intestines gutting sword Sima Yan sighed:"This little mischief is becoming more formidable every day. Every time he talks to me, I have to think about my answer three times in my head before actually replying."

    Li Dazui smiled wryly:"Well, at least your situation is better. Every time I see him, I am terrified. If there was one day he doesn't visit me, I... I can finally sleep tightly. Otherwise I will be vigiliant of him even in my sleep."

    Ha Ha'er said:"We harm people for a purpose, but he does it for fun."

    Du Qiaoqiao said:"Isn't that what we hoped for?"

    Ha Ha'er said:"Yes, we wanted him to harm others, but who would have guessed that this little brat is plotting everyone he sees. Friend and foe are his victims, the only one who is better off here would be little Du."

    Du Qiaoqiao said:"Better off? Hardly! He has learnt all those specialties of mine, in fact he even surpasses me."

    Ha Ha'er asked:"How about you, brother Du?"

    Du Sha said:"Hmm."

    Du Qiaoqiao smiled:"And what does [hmm] mean?"

    Du Sha remained quiet for a moment before saying:"If you lock me and him in one room, the one coming out alive would be him without a doubt."

    Du Qiaoqiao sighed:"Well, it seems everyone cannot cope with him anymore. And that is the people in the valley, imagine how the outside world would deal with him? I think it is time to ask him to depart the valley....."

    Li Dazui immediately added:"Yes, exactly! We have suffered enough, it is time for others to suffer. Luckily all of us combined can stop him, think of the day when even our combined efforts are useles. That is an awful thought."

    Yin Jiuyou said:"If he is to leave, the sooner the better."

    Du Sha said:"Today."

    Ha Ha'er said:"Hahaha! Friends of the realm... heretic friends, orthodox friends, friends of the water and friends of the mountains, now it is your turn to suffer."

    Li Dazui added:"If that little brat is gone, I will not eat human meat for a month."

    At dusk, the Valley of Evil became alive again.

    Xiao Yu'er was frolicking about, until he ended up at Wan Chunliu's place.

    Wan Chunliu was cooking seven types of different herbs and was observing the changes of the cooked juices, when he saw Xiao Yu'er he asked:"What gifts did you receive today?"

    Xiao Yu'er laughed:"I managed to obtain a nice sabre."

    Wan Chunliu asked:"Where is it now?"

    Xiao Yu'er answered:"I gave it to old Xi."

    Wan Chunliu used a pair of chopsticks to stir the herbal contraction, the smoke from the oven made the face of Wan Chunliu look very mysterious. He was silent for awhile and asked:"Where is that little box of yours?"

    Xiao Yu'er said:"I threw it away a long time ago and I gave away those objects in it."

    Wan Chunliu said:"Why did you give those items away? You went through a lot of effort to obtain them."

    Xiao Yu'er said:"Well, they were quite usefull, but if I have to keep them I will have to fret as to where to keep them. I also have to worry about about losing them or being stolen, most troublesome."

    Wan Chunliu said:"Good!"

    Xiao Yu'er said:"If I give them away, I will also pass those troublesome thoughts to them too. I heard that there are some idiots who love to collect money and treasures, but they are too thrifty to spend. They must be mad."

    Wan Chunliu said:"If those idiots they didn't exist, we wouldn't look extraordinary compared to them."

    He stood up and said:"Take this pot of medicine and follow me."

    A wonderul herbal fragrance covered the entire room, behind the big house there were three seperate small houses connected to this house. There were no windows or other doors, these were the sickrooms.

    Nobody disturbed Wan Chunliu when he was busy in the sickrooms. There was a possibility that they were lying in one of those sickrooms one day, so they gave Wan Chunliu the space when he was there.

    There was no light in the sickroom, just like Wan Chunliu's face it was filled with mystery. In the corner on a small bed was a figure sitting there, motionless. It seemed he was created for the purpose of just sitting there, it was the living medicine cabinet.

    When Wan Chunliu entered the sickrooms he had closed the door, it was as the sickrooms was in a different world. Unrelated to the Valley of Evil.

    The expression of Xiao Yu'er also changed, he pulled Wan Chunliu's hand and softly asked:"Is there any change in uncle Yan's illness?"

    The cold and mysterious look on Wan Chunliu was gone, it made place for anxiety and care. He sighed deeply and shook his head and added sadly:"For the past five years, I have not seen any changes. I have tried every herb and every medicine I can think of......I am very tired." He sat down and did not want to get up anymore.

    Xiao Yu'er was silent for a minute and suddenly said:"I heard someone saying uncle Yan's name today."

    Wan Chunliu was rather shocked and asked:"Who was it?"

    Xiao Yu'er replied:"Dead men! The speakers are dead now."

    Wan Chunliu got up and held on to Xiao Yu'er's shoulder and asked earnestly:"Did someone know you heard their conversation?"

    Xiao Yu'er laughed:"How would they know? When I heard them talk, I immediately ran off and went to pester old Xi. I even deliberately scolded old Xi very loudly, that is why I gave him the sabre."

    Wan Chunliu released his grip and was silent for awhile, after some time he said softly:"Not easy, not easy at all. Although you're young, you have managed to keep this secret to yourself. Most admirable."

    He looked at Xiao Yu'er and added with a wry smile:"If this secret leaks out, the three of us will be dead within one hour, You... you must be very cautious. Don't take everyone to be a fool."

    Xiao Yu'er nodded:"I know. Uncle Wan has gone through a lot of danger to save uncle Yan, I.... I am most grateful, even if they chopped off my head I won't reveal a word."

    After saying this, his eyes turned red.

    Wan Chunliu sighed:"To be honest, I should not trust you. But growing up in this environment and not having lost your conscience.... You're a good child!"

    Xiao Yu'er smiled happily:"When I am bad, I am really bad. But that depends who I am facing, furthermore when I knew who uncle Yan was.... I..... I became good."

    Wan Chunliu smiled happily too:"Five years ago, when you came running to me that night and telling me you knew who the [living medicine cabinet] was, I was extremely shocked."

    Xiao Yu'er laughed:"I am sorry."

    Wan Chunliu was pensive for a moment before saying with a frowned smile:"Try to remember, who was that person who told you that secret."

    Xiao Yu'er said:"I really don't know."

    Wan Chunliu asked:"Tell me again what he looked like?"

    Xiao Yu'er smiled wryly:"I really don't know, I couldn't see clearly."

    He thought about it for awhile, he continued:"That night, I was sleeping in the house near Du Sha's home. During the night, I felt I was lifted from my bed....."

    Wan Chunliu asked:"Why didn't you call out?"

    Xiao Yu'er replied:"I couldn't cry out. Furthermore, I thought it was another of those tests of Du Sha, I didn't expect it to be someone else."

    Wan Chunliu sighed:"Indeed, who would have guessed."

    Xiao Yu'er said:"I knew that the movements of that person were extremely fast, I felt like flying through the air and in a few moments we were very far away from the valley."

    Wan Chunliu asked:"Weren't you afraid?"

    Xiao Yu'er said:"I am not even afraid of tigers, why should I fear men?"

    Wan Chunliu said softly:"Later on, you will understand that men are more dangerous than tigers."

    Xiao Yu'er said:"That person put me down and asked:[Do you know what your family name is?] I replied:[I don't know.] That person cursed me for being a beast, for not knowing my family name."

    Wan Chunliu said:"Afterwards, he told you your family name was Jiang."

    Xiao Yu'er added:"Hmm, he told me that my father was Jiang Feng and was killed by people from the Floral Palace. He told me to remember this and told me to avenge my parents when I grow up."

    Wan Chunliu asked:"Did he not mention the name Jiang Qin?"

    Xiao Yu'er answered:"No."

    Wan Chunliu said:"Very strange, because your uncle Yan came here looking for Jiang Qin to avenge your father."

    Xiao Yu'er's eyes twinkled and said:"Maybe this Jiang Qin is one of my enemies too."

    Wan Chunliu said:"Hmm."

    Xiao Yu'er said:"And then, he told me who uncle Yan was. I wanted to ask who he was, but he was gone like a gust of wind."

    Wan Chunliu said:"I know what happened afterwards."

    Xiao Yu'er said:"It was very dark that night, I saw him wearing a black robe and using a black cloth to cover up his entire head. I remember his eyes being bright and deep. One look at those eyes, you felt fear.... one would never forget thos pair of eyes."

    Wan Chunliu asked:"Would you recognize those pair of eyes if you saw them again?"

    Xiao Yu'er answered:"Most certainly."

    Wan Chunliu asked:"Was it someone in the valley, you think?"

    Xiao Yu'er answered:"Impossible, no one in the valley has such beautiful eyes. Although Du Qiaoqiao has bright eyes too, but her eyes pale in comparison to that mysterious person."

    Wan Chunliu sighed:"This person could enter and leave the valley, as he pleases. And he knows so many secrets (*sigh). Who could he be?"

    Xiao Yu'er said:"He must have extraordinary martial arts."

    Wan Chunliu said:"Of course, in the entire realm, with the exception of your uncle Yan, I really don't know who can enter and leave this valley at will."

    Xiao Yu'er asked:"Not even one?"

    Wan Chunliu answered:"The two princesses of the Floral Palace, but this person wants you to seek out people from the Floral Palace. It cannot be the two princesses."

    All of a sudden, Xiao Yu'er clapped his hands and said:"Yes, I remember now."

    Wan Chunliu immediately asked:"What do you remember?"

    Xiao Yu'er said:"That person is a woman."

    Wan Chunliu was surprised and said:"A woman?"

    Xiao Yu'er said:"Although, she covered her face and deliberately made her voice hoarse. But from her movements I can tell she is a woman."

    Wan Chunliu asked:"What kind of movements?"

    Xiao Yu'er said:"For example...... She had her head covered, but sometimes she would use her hands to stroke her hair. She was holding me in her arms, but she would not let me touch her breast."

    Wan Chunliu stamped his foot and said:"Why didn't you tell me this before?"

    Xiao Yu'er blushed now and laughed:"I....I.... didn't really pay any attention on who was male or female before."

    Wan Chunliu was stunned for a moment and said:"Yes, of course.You were a child then, in the eyes of children there are only adults and children. There is no distinction between male an female in the world of children."

    Xiao Yu'er added:"There is also only half a female in this valley."

    Wan Chunliu said softly:"I used to suspect it was the most famous busybody of Wulin the hero of the southern heaven Lu Zhongda. But now we know this mysterious person is a woman, that makes everything different."

    Xiao Yu'er asked:"Are there other female top martial artists in Wulin, except the Floral princesses?"

    Wan Chunliu sighed:"If she is a woman, I have no idea. In the entire Wulin only princess Yaoyue and princess Lianxing have the skills to enter and leave the valley freely. I can't think of any other."

    Xiao Yu'er said:"But there is. Firstly, she must know my father and know uncle Yan. Secondly, she knows exactly how my father died."

    Wan Chunliu said:"Indeed."

    Xiao Yu'er continued:"Point three; she is also aware of the animosities my family has and is very concerned about it. Point four; she must be a top martial arts expert. Point five; she must have something against the Floral Palace and number six; she has brilliant, beautiful eyes. Almost unique."

    Wan Chunliu sighed:"Amazing that you deducted this much at your young age."

    Xiao Yu'er said:"With these six points, I can surely trace her down."

    Wan Chunliu said:"I hope so."

    Xiao Yu'er said:"However.... however, I have to leave the valley first in order to find her. When can I leave this valley? When will they let me go?"

    Wan Chunliu sighed:"Difficult to say, I just hope..."

    Someone from outside the house was calling:"Physician Wan, is Xiao Yu'er with you?"

    Wan Chunliu's face changed and said:"Du Qiaoqiao is looking for you, go out quickly."

    When they left the sickrooms, their expressions changed. Wan Chunliu became the ever so cold and strange physician again and Xiao Yu'er became the naughty and clever boy again.

    Du Qiaoqiao was standing at the door, she laughed sweetly:"What are you two up to?"

    Xiao Yu'er made a funny face and said:"We were discussing how we're going to plot against you."

    Du Qiaoqiao laughed:"You, little mischief! You two should try to find a new smelly herb to foil Li Dazui's nose for good."

    Li Dazui giggled:"Unlce Li is too easy to fool, tricking him is no fun."

    Du Qiaoqiao laughed:"Listen to the arrogance, be careful Li Dazui might eat you."

    Wan Chunliu coldly addressed Du Qiaoqiao:"Are you here to joke around with Xiao Yu'er?"

    Du Qiaoqiao said:"Look, physician Wan is angry."

    Xiao Yu'er asked:"Is there something you want from me, auntie Du?"

    Du Qiaoqiao said with a smile:"I have some good news for you."

    Xiao Yu'er asked:"How good?"

    Du Qiaoqiao said:"Your laughing uncle has prepared some dishes, uncle Li has brought over a few bottles of good wine. I... I roasted some meat for you, we are inviting you to a feast."

    Xiao Yu'er's eyes were twinkling and asked:"Why?"

    Du Qiaoqiao said:"You'll know when you've arrived."

    Xiao Yu'er shook his head and laughed:"If auntie Du doesn't tell me, I won't attend that feast of yours. Otherwise I might have diarrhoea and vomit for three days."

    Du Qiaoqiao cursed and laughed at the same time:"You, little brat. Aren't you paranoid?"

    Xiao Yu'er laughed:"I learnt that from you, auntie Du."

    Du Qiaoqiao said:"Well, I will tell you. We're preparing this feast for you, because we're going to see you off."

    Xiao Yu'er was really surprised this time and leapt up and exclaimed:"See me off?"

    Du Qiaoqiao laughed:"You little brat, you didn't expect that, did you?"

    Xiao Yu'er asked:"Why....why do you see me off?"

    Du Qiaoqiao said:"Because you're leaving tonight."

    Xiao Yu'er opened his mouth and looked at her with disbelief:"I.... I am really leaving tonight? Where am I to go?"

    Du Qiaoqiao said:"Outside! It is a big world out there. Don't you want to see it?"

    Xiao Yu'er was touching his head and said:"I.... I...."

    Du Qiaoqiao giggled:"Besides, you're old enough now. You should be looking for a wife....(*sigh). A little mischief like you will dazzle many girls."

    She took Xiao Yu'er's hand and laughed:"Physician Wan, will you join us?"

    Wan Chunliu stood still for some time and said coldly:"Forgive me for not wasting my time on these matters. You may go now."

    He turned around and walked back inside.

    Du Qiaoqiao pouted:"He only thinks about his herbs and roots. He wouldn't see his own father off."

    Xiao Yu'er said:"Never mind him! Let us go and have some wine! I haven't had wine for some time now."

    Du Qiaoqiao asked:"How long is some time now?"

    Xiao Yu'er laughed:"A very long time, half a day now."

    Within two hours several bottles were empty, Li Dazui's face was becoming redder and redder. The face of Du Sha was becoming paler and paler, while the laughter of Ha Ha'er became louder and louder. The more Du Qiaoqiao drank the more she resembled a woman.

    Only Xiao Yu'er remained the same after drinking many cups.

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"Hahahah, Xiao Yu'er really knows how to drink. He is drinking wine as if it was water."

    Xiao Yu'er said:"Well, if this was water I wouldn't drink that much of it."

    Yin Jiuyou sneered:"What is so wonderful about drinking one or two cups of wine!"

    Du Qiaoqiao laughed:"Ghosts stay away from wine, but every man likes a cup or two. Except for one bad thing, you have mastered every bad skill there is."

    Li Dazui angrilly said:"What bad skills! They are all good skills."

    Xiao Yu'er blinked his eyes and asked:"What haven't I learnt?"

    Du Qiaoqiao chuckled:"This skill... well, after one or half a year.... Nobody needs to teach you that, after seeing you. I think you will learn faster than anyone else."

    Xiao Yu'er asked:"What...what is it?"

    Du Qiaoqiao said:"Little brat, are you really ignorant or are you pretending?"

    Xiao Yu'er giggled:"I am pretending."

    Li Dazui laughed:"If you're really ignorant.... Well, you should know that with normal people, it takes to people to do it. However your auntie Du can do it by herself."

    He was very pleased by his remark and wanted to drink another cup. But suddenly his cup broke into pieces.

    Yin Jiuyou said coldly:"You cannot drink anymore."

    Li Dazui angrilly shouted:"Why can't I drink anymore! And why did you break my cup!"

    Yin Jiuyou said:"If you continue to drink Xiao Yu'er won't be able to leave anymore."

    Li Dazui hatefully looked at him and kicked down the table with wine, he gritted his teeth:"One of these days, I will pour litres and litres of wine in your stomach!"

    Xiao Yu'er was chuckling at this sight:"Why are all of you in such a hurry to see me off?"

    Du Qiaoqiao said:"You're so paranoid! Who told you we're in a hurry to see you leave?"

    Xiao Yu'er laughed:"Well, it is fine with me if you don't want to say it. I know the reason."

    Du Qiaoqiao asked:"You know? Well, tell us."

    Xiao Yu'er said:"It is because I am becoming badder and badder every day. And all of you cannot cope with me anymore, so you want to see me leave and harm others instead."

    Du Qiaoqiao laughed:"Well, that last bit sounded good."

    Xiao Yu'er said:"You want me to leave, no problem. You want me to harm other people, no problem too. But everything works out for you, what do I gain?"

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"Hahaha! A good question! A worthy question, you have learnt a lot. Well, if there is nothing to gain, I wouldn't even lift a finger to help my father."

    Xiao Yu'er laughed and clapped his hands:"Uncle Ha Ha'er spoke my words."

    Li Dazui said:"Rest assured, we will give you something."

    Xiao Yu'er giggled:"Show it first, if I don't like it I might decide to stay."

    Du Qiaoqiao said:"Little brat, you're really formidable! Brother Du, show him."

    Du Sha took out two parcels, one contained a beautiful expensive brocade, one red cloak and one beautiful hat with a golden fish embroided on it and there was a pair of boots.

    Xiao Yu'er immediately wore his new clothes and was looking at himself in a bronze mirror, he laughed:"Well, this robe is just mediocre but when it is worn by me, it becomes magnificent."

    Du Qiaoqiao said:"Don't you feel embarrassed? Praising yourself."

    Xiao Yu'er laughed:"If you don't praise yourself, who will praise you?"

    Ha Ha'er laughed:"Hahaha! Well said!"

    Xiao Yu'er asked:"What else?"

    Du Qiaoqiao laughed:"And there is this. Take a look!"

    She opened the other parcel, and it was filled with a heap of golden leaves. Not many people can see that much gold together.

    Xiao Yu'er frowned:"What is this? I can't use this, if I am hungry, will it fill my stomach. If I am thirsty I can't drink it. It is heavy.... I don't want it."

    Du Qiaoqiao laughingly scolded:"Little fool, it may not serve those purposes but with it you can have anything in this world. Do you realize how many people would throw away their lives for this?"

    Xiao Yu'er shook his head and said:"I am not a fool, I don't want this."

    Li Dazui used his fingers to hold one golden leave and laughed:"Do you know, that with this leave alone you can buy three, four expensive robes similar to the one you're wearing? A normal household could live two years on this."

    Ha Ha'er said:"Don't you like horses? With that leave you can buy the best horse there is. If this isn't a wonderful invention, nothing is."

    Xiao Yu'er sighed:"Since you say it is that good, I will reluctantly accept it. What else is there?"

    Du Qiaoqiao said:"My word, you want more? You really are terrible, think about it, you already took away our best treasures for the past few years. We don't have anything anymore."

    Xiao Yu'er looked pensive and took the parcels and stood up and left.

    Li Dazui asked:"What are you doing?"

    Xiao Yu'er said:"What am I doing? I am leaving."

    Li Dazui said with surprise:"Just like that?"

    Xiao Yu'er said:"Why should I wait? There is no wine anymore, there is nothing else to receive...."

    Li Dazui asked:"Where are you going?"

    Xiao Yu'er said:"Outside the valley, I will head south-east and I'll see where I end up."

    Li Dazui asked:"What do you want to do?"

    Xiao Yu'er said:"Nothing. If I meet someone who pleases I will drink with him. If I dislike him, I will punish him for annoying me."

    Ha Ha'er laughed loudly:"Hahah! Wonderful! That is the way of a true man!"

    Du Sha suddenly asked:"Will....will you come back?"

    Xiao Yu'er giggled:"After I have made everyone outside miserable, I will come back. Come back to torment you."

    Ha Ha'er said:"Hahaha! Good! If everyone is miserable outside, we would happily welcome you back. We will even let you make us miserable."

    Xiao Yu'er put his hands together and said:"Goodbye, I will return very soon."

    He was really gone and did not even look back.

    Du Sha saw him off to the door and said:"He is really very determined."

    Ha Ha'er said:"We wanted him to be that tenaciously determined."

    Du Qiaoqiao said:"Wulin has been too quiet for too long, it is time that someone like him would create havoc.....It is a shame that we can't see it."

    Xiao Yu'er in new clothes and a big parcel was walking out. He was wearing his new boots and was walking over the street.

    While he was walking he shouted:"Listen everyone! Xiao Yu'er is now leaving, you can sleep tightly now!"

    All the people opened either the windows or doors to look at Xiao Yu'er.

    Xiao Yu'er said:"After doing such a wonderful deed, you should applaud me..... If you don't applaud I will not leave."

    Before he finished everyone applauded.

    Xiao Yu'er laughed happily, when he walked by Wan Chunliu's house, he stopped laughing. He just looked at Wan Chunliu-----just one look.

    Wan Chunliu did not speak, some things need not be said.

    Xiao Yu'er had finally left the Valley of Evil.

    All the starts glittered in the sky, it was still very cold in the nights here even in the Summer now. Xiao Yu'er put his cloak on and was walking towards the stars. He was a bit stunned and he did not know what he felt, he had seen such nights before. But somehow tonight everything seemed different.

    But he was about to enter a new, strange world. Is he afraid? No, he is not afraid! His heart is just filled with a strange emotion, an emotion he could not describe.

    But he did not look back and continued to walk forward.

    end of chapter 4

  6. #6
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
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    Chapter 5 Life outside the valley

    It was dusk now; the landscape was coloured dark blue. A fog gradually came up on the mountainside. The sky was grey; the greyness enwrapped the entire prairie. The wind was blowing through the grass and the cries of cows, sheep and horses were mixed in the wind producing a melancholic sound. Then great herds of horses, sheep and cows moved by, encircling the mountain. It was just a beautiful and grandiose picture, and the sound resembled a sad but yet touching love song. Black cows, yellow horses and white sheep marching greatly through the green grass, it was like an army of 100,000 pushing forward without fear.

    Xiao Yu’er looked at the entire scene from afar, his face lightened with excitement and his eyes flashed with enthusiasm, such an impressive scene…the world is an impressive place!

    He stood there dazzled till darkness came; he suddenly felt his heart had opened up.

    The herds of animals disappeared into the distance, and Xiao Yu’er could hear singing from afar. The singing was clear and melodious, but Xiao Yu’er did not understand what these people sang. He could make out that every part began with the characters [Allah]; he did not know that [Allah] was the god the nomadic people in Xinjiang believed in. He walked towards the singing. The light of the stars illuminated the prairie, the moonlight made the grass resemble waves in a clear blue sea.

    Xiao Yu’er did not know how long he walked, but after some time he saw several white tents in this boundless prairie. The contrast with the lights of the tents and the light emitted from the stars looked very small and insignificant, but it produced a very poetic ambiance.

    Xiao Yu’er ran towards the tents, there was a campfire and several girls were singing. They wore long, colourful gowns with long sleeves. Their long beautiful hair was braided into little pigtails. They were petite and they wore numerous pendants, emitting a radiant glow of gold and silver and they wore exquisite small hats with bright colours.

    Xiao Yu’er was mesmerized and walked over to the girls completely dazzled.

    All those girls stopped singing when they saw him and swarmed towards him. They were touching him and talking to him in a language he did not understand.

    The girls in Xinjiang were more naïve, sincere and full of affection.

    Xiao Yu’er could help but smile and said:”What are you saying?”

    The girl with the longest braids, the biggest eyes and the sweetest smile all of these girls said:”We speak Tibetan, are you…. A Han Chinese?”

    Xiao Yu’er blinked his eyes and said:”I think so.”

    All the other girls giggled.

    The girl with the sweetest smile asked:”What is your name?”

    Xiao Yu’er replied:”Xiao Yu’….no! My family name is Jiang, I am Jiang Yu.”

    The girl laughed:”Xiao Yu (little fish), I have heard that the fish in the rivers taste very good. Unfortunately, I have never tasted fish before.”

    She translated what she said in Tibetan to the other girls and the girls started laughing.

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Apart from you, don’t they know how to talk?”

    The girl smiled:”They know how to talk, but do not know Han Chinese.”

    Xiao Yu’er asked:”Why can’t they speak Han Chinese and why can you?”

    The girl replied:”My father was a Han Chinese.”

    She looked proudly now and smiled very confidently and said:”In the entire tribe, my Han Chinese is the best. That is why this time everyone asked me to represent them when doing business with all the Han Chinese.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”You’re not only pretty but also very capable.”

    She blushed and the in light of the campfire she looked even more ravishing.

    She said, still blushing:”You really know how to talk. Aren’t you travelling with them? Why have you arrived here first? They are….”

    Xiao Yu’er interrupted her:”I came here on my own.”

    The girl was surprised and her exclaimed with shock:”On…your own? You….you are very brave.”

    Xiao Yu’er asked with a smile:”What is your name?”

    The girl giggled sweetly and said:”If my name was translated to Han Chinese, I would be called Peach Blossom. And a lot of people say that my face….resembles a flower of a peach tree.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Peach Blossom? I have never seen that before, but I am sure you’re prettier.”

    Peach Blossom giggled:”I’ve never had fish from the river before, but I am sure you taste sweeter.”

    At this point a lot men walked about the tents, all of them stared at Xiao Yu’er. They were not very tall, but were all quite muscular.

    Xiao Yu’er said:”I have to go now.”

    Peach Blossom said:”Don’t be afraid! Although they are staring at you, they have no bad intentions.”

    Xiao Yu’er smiled:”I am not afraid, but I really have to leave now.”

    Peach Blossom blinked a few times and bit her lip before saying softly:”Don’t leave, tomorrow morning many Han Chinese will arrive. There will be lots of fun and joy.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”A lot of people? On my way here, in total I haven’t seen even ten men.”

    Peach Blossom said:”It’s true, I won’t lie to you.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”But, tonight…”

    Peach Blossom lowered her head and smiled:”Tonight you can sleep in my tent, you can talk to me the entire night.” She was taller than Xiao Yu’er, the wind blew strands of her in his face, and her eyes were brighter than the stars.

    The tent was warm and cosy and there was the aroma of milk.

    When Xiao Yu’er took off his clothes, Peach Blossom stared at him.

    She gently caressed his scars and said softly:”Poor you. How come you have so many injuries? But somehow those scars look good on you. You look more handsome with those scars.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Although I was injured, but the wolves and tigers that wounded are dead.”

    Peach Blossom exclaimed with surprise:”You…. You killed tigers?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Not too many, just four or five.”

    Peach Blossom looked at him completely mesmerized.

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Don’t you believe me?”

    Peach Blossom replied:”I believe you, why shouldn’t’t I believe you?

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”But why should I believe what I say?”

    Peach Blossom was a bit surprised by that comment, but said sweetly:”Because you’re my young brother. When I first say you, I just wanted to have a younger brother just like you…”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed heartily:”Having a brother like me is not a good thing.”

    This night, Xiao Yu’er deliberately slept very tight. Normally he is a light sleeper, but tonight he would not be disturbed by any noises. When he woke up, Peach Blossom was gone, but she left a bottle of sheep’s milk next to his pillow.

    Xiao Yu’er drank the milk and put on his clothes and walked out of the tent. He saw that eight metres away, new tents were set up. People from here walked to the new encampment.

    From afar saw Peach Blossom standing between a group of Tibetans and Han Chinese, she was smiling sweetly and was chirping like a bird.

    Her braids swayed in the wind, the sunlight shone on her pretty face. She really looked like a peach blossom, however no peach blossoms in the world could be prettier than her.

    Every time after she spoke, a Tibetan and Han Chinese would shake their hands. A transaction was made and with each transaction she smiled even sweeter.
    Xiao Yu’er walked over, but did not call her. He was looking about and saw that outside every tent all sorts of merchandise were displayed. A group of tall or short and fat or skinny men would stand next to the merchandise, and another group of tall or short and fat or skinny Tibetan merchants would look at the merchandise and select what they wanted.

    Xiao Yu’er was interested what these people were doing, even though he thought they were quite ignorant. Suddenly he understood that most people in this world were ignorant.

    A tall and skinny man pulled a spirited horse for a walk; the horse was as white as snow. The manes of the horse danced in the wind attracting Xiao Yu’er’s attention.

    Xiao Yu’er could not help himself and asked:”Is this horse for sale?”

    The tall and skinny man observed Xiao Yu’er carefully and said:”Do you want to buy? Tell your parents to come and we will talk.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Why should I call my parents? With money I am an adult.”

    The tall and skinny man laughed:”Do you have money?”

    Xiao Yu’er patted himself on his waist and said:”Not money, but I have plenty of gold.”

    The skinny man laughed even louder now, he kept his eyes on the bundle around Xiao Yu’er waist. He gently stroked the manes of the horse and laughed:”This is a wonderful horse, it will cost you a lot.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”I don’t care what it cost, name your price.”

    The skinny man blinked his eyes and stuttered:”This horse is at least worth….a hundred…a hundred and ninety taels of silver.”

    Xiao Yu’er thought for a moment before shaking his head and said:”The price you name is not correct.”

    The smile on the skinny man’s face was gone and had made place for an earnest expression, he said:”Why is it incorrect? How would you know? This is a good horse, it is worth at least…”

    Xiao Yu’er smiled:”I know it’s fine horse, therefore I think the price should be 380 taels of silver. 190 taels of silver do not do the horse justice.”

    The skinny man was puzzled at first; suddenly he burst out in anger:”What is the idea?”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”I never joke about gold, one tael of gold is worth 60 taels of silver. So seven of these leaves made of gold should cover it, here you are.”

    The skinny man was stunned, and confusingly accepted the gold and dumbfounded handed over the horse. Fortunately he had tight grip, otherwise he would have dropped his gold.

    Xiao Yu’er smilingly pulled the horse along and continued walking about.

    He noticed that there were more dumb people than smart people in this world. He also observed that ugly people were also in the majority and good-looking people in the minority.

    He saw a young man in white, who was very different than the rest.

    That young man kept a distance from the rest, like he was too good to mingle with this lot.

    He put his hands behind his back, and his white clothes swayed in the wind like floating from Mount Kunlun. His eyes were as bright as the stars last night.

    Xiao Yu’er unintentionally observed that young man for a short while, the young man looked at Xiao Yu’er too. Xiao Yu’er smiled to him, but he did not respond. Subsequently, Xiao Yu’er made a funny face to him; the young man turned his face away from Xiao Yu’er.

    Xiao Yu’er muttered to himself:”Aren’t we conceited? Since you ignore me, why should I pay attention to you? It is not like I crave for you attention.” He deliberately raised his voice, hoping that young man would hear him.

    But the young man did not hear him.

    Xiao Yu’er walked towards the nearest stall where that young man stood and looked at the merchandise and jewellery. The jewellery shone brightly, like it wanted to lure people to buy it.

    He picked up a pearl ornament shaped like a flower looking at the young man; he said:”Is this for sale?”

    The young man naturally would not respond, a short and fat man with a big hat replied with a warm smile:”This young master really has taste. A pearl ornament like this is very rare on the market.”

    He was looking at the bundle hanging from Xiao Yu’er’s waist, he saw Xiao Yu’er buying that horse earlier.

    Xiao Yu’er asked:”How much?”

    The fat man replied:”Forty… Fifty….No, seventy taels of silver.”

    Xiao Yu’er repeated:”Seventy taels of silver?”

    The fat man was a bit flustered and said:”Seventy… seventy taels of silver is not expensive, right?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”The pearl is fake!”

    The fat man said:”A fake? Who says that? It is….it’s an insult.”

    When he is not laughing all the fat flesh on his face look like a lump of dead meat.

    Xiao Yu’er smiled:”Since I was two years old, I have started to use real pearls as marbles. I just have to smell it and I can tell the difference between the real thing or not.”

    The fat man exploded with anger and thought [How is possible that is brat has become smart now?], but he put on the face of being unjustly wronged and said:”How….how about 60 taels?”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed loudly:”You’re wrong again. Real pearls have to fish from the sea, while fake pearls have to be made with a lot effort. And you have to make them look real, so fake pearls are much more expensive.”

    The fat man was confused and stuttered:”This…. That…”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Real pearls cost 70 taels of silver, but imitations should cost double. So, two taels of gold….”

    He is hoping that the young man would look at him and smile to him.

    However, the young man did not look at him and had walked away.

    Xiao Yu’er hurriedly threw down the gold and said:”Here are three taels of gold.”

    He did not even bother to look at the fat man, who was flabbergasted. He quickly gave chase, but the young man was gone.

    Xiao Yu’er was a bit disappointed and bit his lip thinking. Suddenly a hand pulled him away and started to run, the hand was delicate and warm. It was Peach Blossom, who pulled him away.

    They ran back to Peach Blossom’s tent hand in hand, her face was red and she was panting. She stamped her feet lightly and pouted:”You, little fool. If you wanted to buy things, come to me. Those merchants have tricked you. That is horse is not even worth 80 taels of silver and that pearl ornament is not even…”

    Xiao Yu’er interrupted her and said:”It’s not even worth 10 taels, is it?”

    Peach Blossom was surprised and said:”You know this?”

    Xiao Yu’er replied:”How would an intelligent person like me not know?”

    Peach Blossom asked:”But how come you were swindled by them?”

    Xiao Yu’er blinked his eyes and smiled:”Being swindled is sometimes gaining an advantage.”

    Peach Blossom looked at him, like she saw some strange creature, she never saw such a strange boy before in her life.

    Xiao Yu’er put the pearl ornament in the hair of Peach Blossom and laughed:”Good sister, don’t be angry! Look, with that pearl, you look just like a princess. Unfortunately, there isn’t a prince to match the princess.”

    Peach Blossom laughed and said:”Aren’t you that silly prince?”

    Xiao Yu’er blinked his eyes and said:”You’re saying that I am silly? Well, you’ll soon find out that I am not silly. Furthermore, I get even with those merchants who swindled me.”

    Peach Blossom asked with surprise:”Are you planning on tricking them?”

    Xiao Yu’er shook his head and smiled, he just patted the head of his horse. He said:”Good horse! Just stand here and attract those who want to swindle me.”

    The horse neighed softly and went outside the tent, Xiao Yu’er pulled his tail making sure it would not run off too far.

    Peach Blossom sighed softly:”You are one strange boy. Everything you say or do is so confusing. Nobody understands what you’re planning.”

    Before Xiao Yu’er could answer, he heard a group of people calling.

    A hoarse voice sighed:”Is the young master who purchased the horse in here?”

    Xiao Yu’er made a funny face and laughed softly:”The fools have arrived.”

    He suddenly pushed Peach Blossom over and used the blankets to cover her up, he said:”Stay there! Don’t move or talk.”

    Peach Blossom was full of doubt but before she could say anything, Xiao Yu’er said loudly:”Yes, I am here. Come in.”

    Ten men came in, the leader of this bunch was the skinny man who sold Xiao Yu’er the horse.

    All ten of them had parcels big or small, the one with the biggest parcel was the fat man of earlier. He looked even fatter now, with that big bundle in his hands.

    Xiao Yu’er deliberately frowned and asked:”What do you want? You have brought a lot of goods with you…”

    The skinny man bowed respectfully and smiled:”Fine goods should only be sold to a true connoisseur. All of them heard that young master is a true connoisseur. So they came over to show their goods to you.”

    Xiao Yu’er chortled:’Do you want me to be deceived again?”

    The skinny man quickly said:”No such thing! No such thing. Come, show your products to this young master.”

    Before he finished everyone had already opened their packages.

    There were many nice goods, like jewellery and other treasures. But some even had animal hides, antlers and musk. They just bought these goods from the Tibetans.

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”I like everything here, I will buy everything.”

    All the ten men laughed happily and said simultaneously:”Young master, it is wonderful that you want to buy everything.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Please wrap it up for me.”

    A few of those men wrapped everything up into one big bundle, the bundle was even bigger than Xiao Yu’er. No ordinary man can lift that.

    The fat man cautiously asked:”But how about the….”

    Xiao Yu’er interrupted him:”You want to be paid now? That is very easy, just tell me how much you are asking?”

    Seven, eight men spoke at the same time revealing the price of their products, somehow everything cost 7, 8 times more expensive than normal.

    Peach Blossom could not take it anymore and wanted to come out, but Xiao Yu’er pushed her head down and she could not get up.

    She heard him say:”How much in total?”

    The skinny man was the best in arithmetic and said:”A total of 6600 taels of silver.”

    Xiao Yu’er shook his head and said:”That is not right.”

    The skinny and the fat man heard Xiao Yu’er say something like that before and knew he had the habit of raising the price himself. The others had of course heard of this marvellous habit.

    All of them smiled and said:”Yes, the price is incorrect. Young master, would you be so kind to tell us what the correct price is.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Me? Are you sure? Won’t you object?”

    A few immediately replied:”We won’t have any objections. We will abide by your wishes.”

    Xiao Yu’er chortled:”If that’s the case, let’s see how much I am going to give you….”

    He opened the bundle tied around his waist again, and the merchants had their eyes fixed on that bundle of gold.

    Xiao Yu’er took out one leave and smiled:”This is all I will give.”

    A few of those men were dumbfounded, the skinny man stuttered:”Young…. Master, are you joking?”

    Xiao Yu’er looked very seriously and said:”I told you before that I never joke about gold. Furthermore, you said that you will abide by my wishes. Do you wish to go back on your words?”

    He threw the leave of gold on the ground and picked up the bundle of goods, although the bundle was bigger than him but he had no problems lifting it.

    Peach Blossom could not hold back her smile anymore, and she saw that all of those men were looking furiously and gave chase.

    She could hear some of them yelling:”The little swindler, return our goods!”

    She heard Xiao Yu’er saying:”Who is a swindler? You’re the swindlers!”

    Afterwards she could hear some painful moans and cries for help, and some loud thud sounds.

    She was shocked for awhile, finally she could not help herself and ran outside to have a look. All ten of those fellows were lying on the ground. Xiao Yu’er had easily defeated the entire lot, they had bruises and some even had broken legs and they could not get up.

    Peach Blossom was surprised, she knew that these merchants were quite strong and had learnt martial arts. She never thought a boy like Xiao Yu’er could defeat them.

    She was flabbergasted for a few moments, when she turned her head around…. The sun shone very brightly today, but the strange boy and the horse were gone.

    The horse carried the big parcel and Xiao Yu’er pulled the horse. Both man and horse ran about 2,5 kilometres, Xiao Yu’er laughed heartily every time he thought of the expressions of those merchants.

    Around noon, the sun was getting hotter and hotter. Although Xiao Yu’er was not unaffected by but his horse was feeling tired. In the prairie there was hardly anything, let alone a cool, shady spot.

    Xiao Yu’er thought about something for a moment and then opened the big parcel, he took out the antler’s of antelope and watched for awhile. He laughed and then threw the antler away as far as possible.

    While he was walking he threw this and that away, every item was worth a fortune but he did not care. He was laughing happily and throwing everything away.

    When almost everything was chucked away, he patiently packed the items in smaller bundles and threw the bundles in the long grass. When he was done, he clapped his hands and shouted:”That felt good!”

    Suddenly a sweet voice yelled:”Xiao Yu’er! Jiang Yu, don’t go! Wait for me!”

    A horse swiftly galloped towards him, the rider wore a beautiful, colourful gown. The girl had beautiful, dark hair in braids and her face was all red now. It was Peach Blossom.

    Xiao Yu’er clapped his hands and praised:”Excellent riding! And most pretty!”

    When the horse was almost near Xiao Yu’er, Peach Blossom stood on the back of the horse and made a somersault. Xiao Yu’er was shocked and before he knew it, Peach Blossom was standing in front of him.

    She bit her lip and stamped her feet gently, her eyes were watery. It seems that she just cried or she was about to cry. She was panting and pouted:”Why did you leave without saying anything to me?”

    Xiao Yu’er smiled:”I made a mess of things, I did not want to implicate you.”

    Peach Blossom pouted:”But why did you have to deceive those men?”

    Xiao Yu’er answered:”They deceived me in the first place, why shouldn’t I return the favour?”

    Peach Blossom was a bit shocked and asked:”Where are the goods?”

    Xiao Yu’er answered:”I threw them away.”

    Peach Blossom was really shocked now and exclaimed:”Threw away? Why did you do that?”

    Xiao Yu’er chortled:”I let those things ride the horse and I had to walk the entire way in the burning sun. I was such a fool, so I decided to throw those things away.”

    Peach Blossom was dumbfounded and said:”Those things cost a fortune, don’t you care?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Why should I care? Those things were not the only valuables in the world, and if I really wanted those things I can get anytime I want.”

    Peach Blossom exclaimed with shock:”You are really a little idiot.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed heartily and said after awhile:”I threw those things away, someone is bound to find sometime. If the finders are good people, they will be very happy. And I will be happy too, when I imagine their faces finding all those treasures. Even happier than when I am cracking my head open on how to spend those valuables.”

    Peach Blossom asked:”If bad men would find it?”

    Xiao Yu’er replied:”If bad men would find it, they would fight over how to divide it and kill each other over it.”

    Peach Blossom asked:”Will you be happy about that?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Why shouldn’t I be happy about that? In fact I will be ecstatic if that happens.”

    Peach Blossom said:”You’re really wicked.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Furthermore, if lazy people would find one parcel or one item, they would stop doing anything else and will want to find more treasures. They will search and search till they drop dead from starvation.”

    He added with laughter:”You see, by just throwing away a few items I might change the fates of I don’t know how many people. I think this is very funny.”

    Peach Blossom stood there not knowing what to say or what to do, finally she sighed softly:”You are really a little demon king.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Fine, earlier you called me a fool, now I am an idiot, a wicked person and a little demon king. If I am all of the things you say I am, why do you come after me?”

    Peach Blossom lowered her head and said softly:”I just… I just wanted to ask you something…Why did you leave without saying goodbye.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Since I am set on going, why should I say goodbye? What is the use? If I said goodbye and you can forget about me, I will gladly say it. But I am afraid you won’t be able to forget about me.”

    Peach Blossom raised her head defiantly and said loudly:”Why can’t I forget about you?”

    Xiao Yu’er chortled:”Anyone who meets me cannot forget about me.”

    Peach Blossom just looked at him and tears were running over her cheeks.

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Why are you crying? Besides I am too young, I can’t be your husband. And you’re pretty, so you should not worry about not finding a husband.”

    Peach Blossom screamed:”You’re…..You’re a…..”

    She could not think of any terms to name this [monster], she turned around and mounted her horse and rode away. She used whipped her horse maliciously.

    Xiao Yu’er sighed and shook his head:”Women….(sigh*). They’re all mad.”

    He stroked the manes of his horse and said to himself:”Horsy, if you’re as smart as I am, you should get close to women. And never let women ride you, otherwise you’ll only have bad luck. If they are angry, they will vent their anger at you and your behind. The behind of her horse must be red and swollen beyond recognition.”

    He mounted his horse and wanted to ride away, but suddenly he was blocked by someone.

    Under the sun, he saw a man in white clothes looking sternly and his face was filled with anger. But somehow he did not look angry but cute.

    Xiao Yu’er recognized him as the conceited young man in white, he was surprised and asked with a smile:”Oh, it’s you, are you enjoying the sun?”

    The young man answered coldly:”I am here to waiting for you.”


    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Waiting for me? You just ignored me earlier, why….”

    The young man rudely interrupted:”Enough nonsense! Hand it over!”

    Xiao Yu’er was surprised and asked:”Hand what over?”

    The young man answered:”The thing you swindled!”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Oh that! Well, if I knew you wanted those goods, I would have left them for you. But now…. (*Sigh), I have thrown them away.”

    The young man angrily said:”Thrown away! Are you trying to deceive me?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Why should I lie to you? And why should I keep those useless objects in the first place?”

    Xiao Yu’er added with a laugh:”Hey! Did you know that when you’re angry your face is all red? You look very pretty; you look just like a girl. I met a girl earlier, whose face would also turn red when she is angry and she is very pretty too. You and her really look like a couple, should I introduce her to you?”

    The young man’s face was even redder now, he wanted to look even angry but he could not. He was just staring at Xiao Yu’er and said sternly:”If you really lost those goods, you have to pay.”

    Xiao Yu’er asked:”Do you really want me to pay?”

    The young man answered:”Of course!”

    Xiao Yu’er asked:”And the reason why you came after me is because of those goods?”

    The young man loudly answered:”Yes, of course!”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”I don’t think so. You don’t care whether those foolish merchants are alive or dead, why would you be concerned if they’re deceived. Furthermore, they deserved to be tricked. So I think you’re not here for those items, but you’re here because of me.”

    The face of the young man was even redder now and he shouted:”Indeed! I am here because of you; I have noticed that you’re the troublemaker at such young age. I fear what will happen what you grow older.”

    Xiao Yu’er touched his own head and laughed:”Do you want to kill me?”

    The young man scoffed:”Killing you wouldn’t be injustice. However, you’re still young, you could be saved. The first thing you have to do is become my disciple. I will teach you the right way and you might be saved.”

    Xiao Yu’er looked at him for a while before bursting out in laughter, he was laughing so hard that he could not stand straight and said:”You want me to become your pupil?”

    The young man angrily said:”What is so funny about that?”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”There is nothing wrong of having a handsome teacher like you, but what can you teach me? Are you really stronger than me? I think…..You should become my pupil.”

    The young man sneered:”Do you wish to learn martial arts?”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed loudly:”Do you really think your martial arts are better than mine?”

    The young man angrily said:”I am the best expert of the entire Sichuan province.”

    Xiao Yu’er calmly said:”If you’re really the number one expert of Sichuan province, you would not flee to these parts, would you? You’re not here to do business or to have fun, so you must have come here to flee from your adversaries?”

    The expression of the young man changed, it seems that Xiao Yu’er had perceived his actions. He looked hostile and roared:”Who are you? Where do you come from?”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Don’t ask who I am and don’t you mind where I came from. If you think that you are stronger than me, let us have a small duel. Whoever loses shall have to become the pupil of the victor.”

    The young man scorned:”Very well, I would like to see where you learnt your martial arts.”

    Xiao Yu’er chortled:”Whoever loses shall have to become the pupil of the victor, you agreed to this, so no backing out later on….”

    Before he finished, he dismounted from his horse and kicked towards the eyes of the young man in midair.

    The young man did not expect that Xiao Yu’er would attack that fast and was taken by surprise. But the martial arts of this young man were not bad, it seems he had a lot of fighting experience too.

    Although flustered he did not back away, instead he advanced forward and manoeuvred behind Xiao Yu’er’s back. Without turned his head around, he struck his palm out, that attack was both swift and beautiful, he could also accurately recognize the acupoints of his adversary without looking.

    Originally, Xiao Yu’er thought he would gain the upper hand if he could attack first, however now the tables have turned. He made a somersault forward and landed 1,5 metres away. He laughed:”Wait a moment!”

    The young man stopped his advancement and asked:”Wait for what?”

    Xiao Yu’er asked:”Can you really see who my teacher is?”

    The young man scoffed:”Within ten stances.”

    Xiao Yu’er shook his head and smiled:”I don’t believe you.”

    His smile became even more enchanting now, and suddenly he made two fists and attacked without notice. His smile was most charming and friendly, but his hands were lethal. This was a typical trait of Ha Ha’er.

    Xiao Yu’er tricked the young man now, the advantage he had earlier was lost now. He even backed away a few steps.

    Xiao Yu’er chortled:”I think you….”

    Before he finished the young man advanced forward, risking being hit by the two fists of Xiao Yu’er but his elbow was aimed at the chest of his opponent.

    This time Xiao Yu’er was shocked, he did not want to be struck at the chest, he waved arms and fell over and avoided that blow. The young man would not leave it at that and followed tightly, his fists attacked fiercely and the stances were very lethal.

    Xiao Yu’er retaliated his hands would turn into fists and palms randomly. The stances he used were suddenly dangerous or strange, powerful and suddenly soft.
    Neither Yin nor Yang, neither aggressive nor calm.

    He was integrating the lethalness of Du Sha’s, the treacherousness of Yin Jiuyou, the aggressiveness of Li Dazui, the softness of Du Qiaoqiao and Ha Ha’er’s aspects into one.

    With martial arts like that, he was able to roam the realm without facing too much opponents, but the fist style of that young man was similar to a violent storm. He attack ferociously and Xiao Yu’er was panting now.

    The young man was also shocked; he never imagined that this boy’s martial arts would have so many changes. He could not tell whom his teacher(s) was/were.

    Suddenly Xiao Yu’er yelled:”Stop!”

    The young man said:”Fine, I will stop.”

    While he was talking he attacked with six fists.

    Xiao Yu’er stunned and dodged and managed to retaliate with three palms and called out loudly:”This is called stopping!”

    The young man scoffed:”I won’t be deceived this time.”

    Xiao Yu’er was both fighting and talking:”Ten stances have already passed. Can you tell me what school I belong to? If not, hear me out.”

    The young man slowed down a bit, giving Xiao Yu’er the chance to back away and he laughed:”Well, can you tell me?”

    The young man stopped too and sneered:”Of course not, you belong to no school.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”It is not that I do not belong to any school, but I just belong to too many schools. That is why you cannot recognize my style.”

    The young man asked:”To what schools do you belong?”

    Xiao Yu’er answered:”Well, to tell you the truth. I learnt martial arts from five different persons. And the martial arts of them consist of a lot of schools too, each of their style is complex and strange….”

    The young man interrupted:”I am familiar to all the martial arts styles of all the famous martial artists of entire China. You do not belong to any of those styles and schools, I think your teachers were just ordinary practitioners of martial arts who sell their lowly skills on markets hoping people will buy their medicine.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Ordinary practitioners of martial arts! The names of those five you scare the living daylights out of you. But it is that when the five of them retired you were still in your nappies.”

    The young man angrily said:”How can compare the martial arts of heretics with mine!”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Your martial arts are quite good too, I never thought that someone so refined looking would use the martial arts of a madman.”

    The young man retorted:”What do you know? My 108 Frenetic stances are ranked very high in the various boxing styles of all martial arts schools.”

    Xiao Yu’er clapped his hands and laughed:”108 Frenetic Stances? All the madmen would use martial arts like that; it’s a shame that you’re too handsome. It is such waste that you learnt something like that.”

    The young man said:”It seems to be a shame, but those suffering from a hit will know the real power behind it.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”I don’t want to learn it, but I also don’t want to suffer a hit….”

    After he finished he threw himself towards the young man, his palms made a whooshing sound.

    The young man had anticipated that and struck out with two fist attacks to block the two palms of Xiao Yu’er.

    Xiao Yu’er did not engage the young man head on; he kept changing positions and would strike out a palm and fist.

    This set of 108 Frenetic Stances was quite powerful, frenetic was the word here. It proved to be more effective than the lethalness, treachery, aggressiveness and softness of Du Sha, Yin Jiuyou, Li Dazui and Du Qiaoqiao. Xiao Yu’er was really quite tired out by it.

    After another ten bouts, Xiao Yu’er shouted:”Stop! Your boxing style is quite good, I am willing to learn.”

    The young man twirled away for a metre or so and was panting; he thought that this boy was not easy to deal with.

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”No wonder people say that sane people should never fight with madmen. You can never defeat insane people. Now, I know why.”

    The young man asked:”Have you finally realised how good I am?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”It’s a shame that you’re not insane. Otherwise, your boxing style would be even more impressive. However, I do fear the longer your practice this style, the chances are big that you will end up being mad.”

    The young man frowned and said:”Since you’re willing to become my pupil, you should not be rude.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”I only want to learn your boxing style, I never said I would become your pupil. Teachers can also learn styles from their disciples, don’t you agree?”

    The young man angrily said:”Do you want to fight again?”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”No, of course not. If you launch another attack, you will cough up blood and die. I am telling for your own good, you must believe me.”

    The young man was furious but laughed coldly:”You little brat! Do you really think I will fall for your lies!”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Why should I lie to you? I won’t lie to you, haven’t you heard of a secret skill in the realm called the [Icy wind palms of seven steps]. In other words anyone who has suffered a blow from this palm style will die after walking seven steps.”

    The young man said:”Rubbish! There is no such martial arts in the realm.”

    Although he said he did not believe Xiao Yu’er, he was feeling weak in his legs now.

    Xiao Yu’er looked at him and said:”Although this style has vanished for over a hundred years, however I had the luck to learn this palm technique. And I….”

    The young man scoffed:”And you used it on me?”

    Although he said he did not believe Xiao Yu’er, but he would not move another step now. No matter who asked him to walk, the name was quite scary already.

    Xiao Yu’er clapped his hands and said:”You’re right. I gently patted you with this technique, if you will become my student I can save you.”

    The young man sneered:”If you think I will be tricked by you that easily, you are dead wrong.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”You don’t believe me? Touch the third rib on your left side, if it hurts that means you suffered a blow from the Icy wind palms of seven steps.”

    The young man just scoffed.

    During his sneering, he touched his third rib on his left side and suddenly his face changed.

    Xiao Yu’er looked at his own shadow and asked:”Does it hurt?”

    The young man’s hand was trembling and said loudly:”Of course it hurts, that is because that particular spot is easily hurt.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”This pain is different, this pain is greater. Like being pierced by needles and burnt by fire. The pain feels like burning.”

    He looked at the hand of the young man and said:”Touch this spot, not there…… A bit more to the left, lower.”

    The young man did what he was asked.

    Suddenly Xiao Yu’er said loudly:”Yes, that is the spot. Press it.”

    The young man did what he was instructed.

    Suddenly he felt numb and fell down and could not get up.

    Xiao Yu’er clapped his hands and laughed:”Well, even if you’re as cunning as a fox, now you are mine. Finally, you have fallen for my trap, do you know how you were subdued?”

    The young man looked at him hatefully but did not speak.

    Xiao Yu’er said:”I will tell you, there is no such thing as Icy wind palms of seven steps. Even if there was I would not know of it. However, there is a secretive skill that does exist and it is called Sealing blood and Arteries technique.”

    He ran off to pull his horse back, which had ran off quite far by now. The young man carefully observed Xiao Yu’er and it seemed he wanted to hear the further explanation.

    Xiao Yu’er continued:”Sealing blood and sealing acupoints are practically the same concept. But with sealing acupoints is sealing fixed positions on someone’s body, but sealing blood is different.”

    He casually sealed the Qimen and Qixue nong acupoints of the young man, he laughed:”You see what I mean.”

    After demonstrating that, he patted the young man beneath his ribs and said:”Sealing blood means stopping your blood from circulating, when your blood doesn’t circulate, you can’t move and will fall over. With sealing blood you have to seal off the right arteries, veins at the right moment. Do you understand the basic difference now?”

    The young man had never heard of this before and listened attentively and replied:”Yes, now I understand.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”You can’t seal someone’s blood off too long or else he will die. So that is why I allowed your circulation to continue and that is why you can talk now.”

    Although the young man was still fuming, he could not help himself to ask:”So that is why you were looking at your shadow, you were calculating where and when my blood was circulating and told me to press that particular spot.”

    Xiao Yu’er clapped his hands and laughed:”Very smart! You starting to learn.”

    The young man gritted his teeth and said:”Although you have learnt that method, but you just know the basic. If not you would not trick me into sealing my own blood circulation, you could have done it yourself.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed loudly and said:”Very true! You’re absolutely right. Because the teacher, who taught me this, is the best physician alive. But his martial arts are quite low, he knows the entire human physiology like the back of his hand and can calculate the blood circulation of anyone. Unfortunately, he does know how to seal blood. That is also the reason why I asked you to do it for me.”

    He paused for a moment and continued:”Because you were ready to fight at any time, so your internal energy was flowing through the tips of your fingers. And when I told you to use force, your energy flowed out through your fingers. Naturally, I would not ask you to seal your own acupoints and that is why even asked to press a region with no acupoints at all. That is why you did not notice anything wrong.”

    The young man angrily said:”That is just underhanded trickery!”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Do you even realise how much knowledge and insight is needed to perform such trickery? First, I have to make sure you are on your guard; otherwise your energy will flow out of your fingers by itself. Secondly, I have to come up with something icy wind palms of seven steps to confuse you.”

    The young man sighed:”Those two steps alone were enough.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Not enough, I had to some basics on sealing blood and so. I had calculate your blood flow and take into account that you would not be suspicious too.”

    Xiao Yu’er patted himself on the chest and said:”This is the perfect combination of martial arts and intelligence. If my martial arts weren’t high, you would not be on your guard. And if I weren’t smarter, you would not be that cautious either. I had to make sure you would first be on your guard and later on I had to make sure you would drop your guard. So, you see I am superior to you in everything. You should be happy to have a teacher like me.”

    The young man shouted:”You will never be my teacher!”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”We both agreed to the terms before we fought, how can you go back on your words.”

    The young man’s face became red and said:”Just kill me!”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Why should I kill you? If you won’t keep your word, I will just cut off your noise, poke out your eyes and cut off your tongue. And then….”

    The young man yelled:”I am not even afraid of dying, why should I be afraid of that.”

    Xiao Yu’er blinked his eyes and said:”Are you really not afraid?”

    The young man scoffed.

    Xiao Yu’er chortled:”Alright, since you’re not afraid I will change tactics.”

    The young man said loudly:”I am not afraid of anything!”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”I will hang you on a tree remove your trousers and spank your buttocks. Are you afraid?”

    He knew that some people are not afraid of death and pain, but when they are faced with the fact their trousers will be removed and being spanked they will simply die.

    The face of the young man changed, first from white to red.

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”You’re finally afraid, call me [master] now!”

    The young man was trembling and shouted:”You’re a monster!”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”You’re not calling me [master], but you’re calling me a monster. Fine.”

    He moved forward to pull the girdle of the young man.

    Suddenly the young man shouted:”Master, master!”

    After calling two times [master], tears were running over his cheeks.

    Xiao Yu’er immediately wiped away the tears and said softly:”Why are you crying? With a teacher like me you should feel proud. Since you have acknowledged me as your teacher, there is really no point in crying…you’re still crying, if you don’t stop I will still have to spank you.”

    The young man bit his lip and tried his best to stop crying in a few moments, he stopped.

    Xiao Yu’er said:”That’s a good boy! Right, tell me your name.”

    The young man said:”I am Tie Xinnan.”

    Xiao Yu’er blinked his eyes and smiled:”Sorry, Tie Xinlan was it? The character [lan] (orchid *) as in flower?”

    The young man said loudly:”No, the nan character as in man.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Alright, Tie Xinnan, it is. A good name! Although you have some feminine features, but you really have a name of a true man.”

    Tie Xinnan lifted his head and said:”You!”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Although I am tougher than you are, my name is not that tough. My name is Jiang Yu. Someone told me that the fishes of the river are very good, have you ever had some?”

    Tie Xinnan said hatefully:”Yes, I really would like to eat some.”

    She wanted to eat something, but not fish but the flesh of Xiao Yu’er.

    Xiao Yu’er laughed and put his arm near his mouth and said:”If you want to, you can have a bite.”

    Tie Xinnan was stunned.

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Do you want to have a bite? To tell you the truth, I know every thought of yours.”

    Tie Xinnan sighed; he did not know what to do except sighing.

    Xiao Yu’er asked:”How old are you?”

    Tie Xinnan replied:”At least two years older than you.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Say, that is true, but you can still learn from someone younger than you.”

    Suddenly Xiao Yu’er was interrupted and he heard someone calling:”Xiao Yu’er! Xiao Yu’er!”

    A horse sped by and the rider was Peach Blossom, but her face was not red but pale. It was like she had seen a ghost. She quickly dismounted and hugged Xiao Yu’er and panted:”Thank you Allah, I have finally found him.”

    Xiao Yu’er was a bit surprised.

    Peach Blossom said:”Please come with me now! You can do with whatever you want when this is over.”

    She was crying as she spoke.

    Xiao Yu’er sighed:”Another one in tears, how troublesome.”

    He used his sleeve to wipe away her tears and said:”Don’t cry. Your eyes are all swollen. If you don’t stop crying you have to change your name into Peach, because your eyes will look like peaches.”

    Peach Blossom smiled, Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Crying and smiling….”

    Before he could finish, she started to weep again; she pulled the sleeve of Xiao Yu’er to wipe away her tears and said while crying:”When I was angered by you, I did not want to go back immediately. So rode around for some time, when I decided to return I saw that something had happened at home.”

    Xiao Yu’er asked with a smile:”Someone smeared tears on your new clothes?

    Peach Blossom did not hear him and said:”I heard the men shouting frantically and the women crying. I could also hear whipping sounds and several hoarse voices shouting to form a row or else he would kill.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Good imitations!”

    Peach Blossom said:”Originally I intended to go over, but I decided to dismount and crawl over to observe what they were doing. Fortunately, the grass was long and they could not see me. But I noticed that a group of men had surrounded us. They had whips in their hands and looked very mean, they looked like robbers.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Interesting, robbers have come.”

    Peach Blossom continued:”These robbers rounded up our people and the Han Chinese, I saw them using whips to hit my people. I was heartbroken.”

    Xiao Yu’er commented:”The robbers in the prairie are quite nasty.”

    Peach Blossom said:”The prairie has robbers too, but this is a different group.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”How would you know? Do they usual robbers know you?”

    Peach Blossom said:”The robbers of the prairie are Han Chinese too, but out of habit they wear clothes similar to ours. These robbers wore different clothes and their horses are not from Tibet. Tibetan horses have longer legs, they were riding horses from Sichuan, those horses have shorter legs.”

    Xiao Yu’er stopped laughing now, he frowned and said:”These people travelled 100 of kilometres and more, it is only natural to assume they are not here for simple cattle and goods.”

    Peach Blossom said:”They are not here from goods, but for people.”

    Xiao Yu’er looked at her and said:”For people? For who? You?”

    Peach Blossom bit her lip and said:”Han Chinese girls are prettier than me and Tibetan girls…. They are looking for a Han Chinese, they followed him here. According to their spies, they saw him walking about near our tents. Now, they are forcing us to hand over that man.”

    Xiao Yu’er asked:”Did your people hand him out?”

    Peach Blossom said:”Who don’t even know who he is. And they have searched the tents themselves and found nothing. So they said we must have hidden him and they gave us one hour to hand him out…..Or else they would rape the women and kill the men.”

    When she finished her story, she was in tears again.

    She was crying out on Xiao Yu’er’s shoulder:”I am begging you to rescue them, I know you are very capable. You even killed tigers, although those robbers are mean they are still humans and cannot be fiercer than tigers.”

    Xiao Yu’er sighed:”You’re wrong there, men can be fiercer than tigers.”

    Peach Blossom said:”But you have to go back and save them…..You have to!”

    Xiao Yu’er asked slowly:”Do you have any idea who they want?”

    Peach Blossom said:”Initially, I thought they were after you. However, afterwards I heard them saying that they were after a boy with the family name Tie. Do you know who that is?”

    Xiao Yu’er smiled:”Family name is Tie….I haven’t heard of him….I.”

    Tie Xinnan heard the entire story and loudly said:”My family name is Tie, they are after me.”

    Peach Blossom stared at him with shock.

    Xiao Yu’er touched his head and smiled wryly:”Little fool, why did you have to talk.”

    Tie Xinnan ignored him and asked loudly:”Is there a girl amongst those robbers?”

    Peach Blossom stuttered:”No…No…”

    She never imagined that those mean robbers were after a handsome and elegant young man; she was surprised and stopped crying.

    Tie Xinnan said loudly:”Fine! Since they’ve found me, I will go back with you.”

    Peach Blossom said:”No, you can’t go back.”

    Tie Xinnan said:”I am going back and that is the only way I can rescue your people.”

    Peach Blossom lowered her head and said melancholically:”But you will be killed if you go back, I can’t stand by to see you get killed. Please run away now.”

    Tie Xinnan sneered:”Do you think I am afraid of them? Even if there are a hundred of those fools, they are no match for me.”

    Peach Blossom asked:”But if you’re not afraid, why have fled all the way to Tibet?”

    Tie Xinnan said a bit taken by that remark and stuttered:”I….I…”

    Peach Blossom said:”It is because you’re only afraid of that woman. When you heard there were only men, you’re not afraid anymore.”

    Tie Xinnan’s face turned red and said:”Never you mind!”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed loudly:”You’re not afraid of men, but only afraid of women! That is a trait I have too, every time I see a woman my head hurts.”

    Tie Xinnan said:”Release me and I will go.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”If you get killed, I will lose my pupil.”

    Tie Xinnan said:”I can promise you, I will return.”

    Xiao Yu’er tilted his head a bit and thought for a moment, he laughed:”Peach Blossom, do you think this student of mine is a hero?”

    Peach Blossom just gazed at Tie Xinnan full of admiration and folded her palms together and said:”May Allah protect you.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”A hero saving a beautiful maiden, it will be a wonderful tale. I won’t be in your way. Fine, you can go.”

    He patted her twice on her body and Tie Xinnan jumped up.

    Peach Blossom said:”You….”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”You already found your hero. I will wait for you here.”

    Peach Blossom said hatefully:”People who are unwilling to help others, cannot expect help themselves.”

    She did not look at Xiao Yu’er and leapt up on her horse, she said:”Tie….Climb on!”

    Tie Xinnan looked at Xiao Yu’er and said:”I…I…”

    In the end he said nothing and mounted the horse, they rode off with great speed.

    Xiao Yu’er stared at the dust cloud the horse was making and said softly:”Girls full of love won’t love the same boy for too long. Well, she is in Tie Xinnan’s hands now, I wonder how long Tie Xinnan will be stuck with her.”

    He gently patted his white horse and said:”Horsy, let us go back and watch the fun. But if you see an attractive young mare, you must keep your distance. We are still young, if we are caught by women we will never be able to get away from them.”


    End of chapter 5

  7. #7
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
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    Chapter 6 The little fairy punishing the evil

    Peach Blossom whipped her horse, her long hair was blown into the face of Tie Xinnan, but he was unmoved by it. Peach Blossom felt his breath in her neck, she felt weak and warm all over. She tightened her grip on the reins, she turned around and asked:”Hold on tight, if not you fall of the horse.”

    Tie Xinnan just grunted.

    Peach Blossom said:”Hold on to me, if not you might fall off.”

    Tie Xinnan grunted and held on to Peach Blossom.

    Peach Blossom almost fainted and said:”If you can rescue my people….I will give you anything you want.”

    Tie Xinnan merely grunted again.

    There was an excited sparkle in her eyes and she rode faster and faster, the road back was quite long. But somehow Peach Blossom felt it was too short.
    They could hear cries coming from the yellow tent. Peach Blossom asked:”Are we going to storm in like that?”

    Before she had finished her question, she saw a white flash flying over her head. Tie Xinnan had already dismounted and was standing metres ahead.

    Peach Blossom was both surprised and happy, she halted her horse. She saw Tie Xinnan standing there, although her clothes were a bit dirty, but in the radiant show it looked clean and suave. Tie Xinnan looked like the ideal lover for any girl now.

    Peach Blossom was mesmerized and almost forgot everything.

    The crying, shouting continued, Tie Xinnan suddenly loudly yelled:”I am here. Who is looking for me?”

    Suddenly the shouting and crying stopped, only the wind could be heard. The clothes were swaying in the wind.

    An arrogant and loud voice from the tent laughed:”Good! You have courage, Tie Xinnnan! The Li Brothers have not waited in vain.”

    Tie Xinnan scoffed:”I could have guessed it was you. Since you came for me, come out and face me!”

    He turned around and walked away.

    Suddenly a series of loud roars could be heard and horses galloped out of the tent. The trembling sound of the hooves and the roars were ear deafening and were very terrifying.

    But Tie Xinnan continued to walk, he did not even blink.

    Peach Blossom was watching this from afar; she was both worried and happy. Happy, because Tie Xinnan was really a brave hero. Worried, because how could someone so frail looking defeat all these men.

    About ten horses surrounded Tie Xinnan, but Tie Xinnan remained calm. The riders had sabres in their hands, but did not attack.

    After walking for another metres or so, Tie Xinnan stopped and he scoffed:”Alright! What is it that you want from me?”

    A tall man with a thick beard and one eye ride forward, he said sternly:”My brothers and me would like to ask you if you have the item with you?”

    Tie Xinnan scoffed:”Yes, I have. But you and your brothers are not worthy enough to claim that map! If you think I came here to escape you, you are sadly wrong!”

    The man with one eye roared:”Rubbish!”

    The man rode forward and his horsewhip whizzed through the air. Tie Xinnan shouted:”Come down!”

    He waved his hand and the handle of the whip was in his hand, and he shook the whip, he lifted the heavy one-eyed man and chucked him away. The man landed metres away.

    The horses neighed and suddenly two flashes of light could be seen. Two robbers decided to sneak attack Tie Xinnan. They raised their sabres and hacked towards the neck of Tie Xinnan.

    Tie Xinnnan did not look back, he ducked a bit and the sabres missed him. He used the handle of the whip to poke into the ribs of the two robbers. The two robbers fell off their horses, one was trampled by his own horse and yelled out of pain and rolled away for metres. During his rolling he also accidentally used his own sabre to cut off half his head and died.

    In a few moves, he defeated three robbers without any effort, the rest of the robbers were afraid of him now.

    Tie Xinnan smiled:”The martial arts of the Li brothers are just mediocre. If anyone else wants the map, they might stand a chance, but the you are just too overbearing.”

    Before he finished laughing, he heard a cold voice saying:”If the Li brothers are not worthy, how about the Mao brothers?”

    The voice was weak; it was like someone spoke very distantly. Because you could not hear him speak, you would pay more attention to the voice. But when you listened attentively, you will notice that the voice sounded disgusting. Like millions of small caterpillars crawling in your ear, the first thing you would do is cut off your own ear.

    Tie Xinnan’s face changed colour and exclaimed with shock:”The three hairs of Mount E Mei….”

    The voice behind him interrupted him:”Men and ghosts will flee from them….So you have heard of this saying too.” His voice was shrieking, it felt like needles piercing your ears when you heard him talk.

    Tie Xinnan slowly turned around and saw a big horse; on the saddle there were three men.

    The first one was very small; he was as tall as a child of five, six years old. However, he had a beard, his beard was white and thin similar to the fur of an ape.
    Besides having a beard, he had hair everywhere. On his cheeks, arms, hands, eyelids, etc. Every spot that was not covered by his clothes. He had all the regular features, but all of them were asymmetrical. He did not look human, it seemed that when heaven created him, heaven was not pleased with the outcome and threw him into a pool of muck. However, somehow he made it into this life after all.

    Tie Xinnan got goose bumps just by looking at him.

    He looked at Tie Xinnan and laughed:”I am the [eating hearts and chewing lungs] hairy caterpillar. Well, I suggest you should stop looking at me, you might have a tummy ache if you watch too long.”

    She did want to listen to him, but she could not help herself. Because another look she would even feel sick in her stomach.

    So she looked at the second man, this man was not better looking than the first one. At least he was much taller than the first one. He had a very long neck and a very small head. His head was full of hairy spikes and his mouth was shaped like a tout.

    Tie Xinnan gritted his teeth and asked:”Are you the hairy rooster?”

    The man laughed:”Don’t grit your teeth? Everyone who sees me grit their teeth.”

    Tie Xinnan wanted to cover up her ears; his voice sounded awful, even the death cries of roosters sounded more pleasant.

    He really did not want to look at the third person, but he was curious and looked. He thought no matter what he cannot be uglier than the other two.
    However, the first two at least resembled men. But the third person did not look human at all; he looked like a big ape.

    The hairy rooster was twice the size of the hairy caterpillar, but this ape was four times the size of the caterpillar. The hairy rooster had a very long neck, maybe a bit too long. But this ape did not have a neck at all. The caterpillar had white thin fur, but this ape had thick black hair everywhere. You could not even see his nose and mouth, just his bright and shiny eyes.

    The pair of eyes was watching Tie Xinnan and said:”I am the hairy ape.”

    Hiding in the long grass was Xiao Yu’er, and he too was looking at the three men.

    He could not stop himself from laughing; he could not imagine what kind of a mother could give birth to these three. He shuddered to think.

    He did not know that these three brothers were one of the most lethal and dangerous characters in the realm for the past ten years. Whoever saw them would never dream of laughing, nor would they even cry in their presence.

    Xiao Yu’er had spied on them for some time, he saw that the Li brothers were chasing Tie Xinnnan and the Mao brothers were following the Li brothers. The steed of the Mao brothers was swift and silent, so the Li brothers did not notice them.

    The Li brothers had noticed them now, the tough robbers of earlier were trembling and terrified.

    Xiao Yu’er thought: [That is strange; the Mao brothers are not after them. Why are they afraid? It seems that those three monsters will kill anyone.]

    The Li brothers were all trembling, all of them could ride excellently and although they were trembling, they secretly commanded their horses to back away slowly.
    The hairy caterpillar laughed:”Strange, that Tie Xinnan has not left yet, but why are the Li brothers retreating.”

    One of the Li robbers managed a smile and said:”Sir, we do not want that item anymore. It belongs to you, sirs. So that is why we will be on our way, if you don’t mind, sirs.”

    The hairy rooster laughed:”The instant you saw us, you want to leave. Could it be you think we are too ugly?”

    That Li robber quickly said:”No, of course not, sir.”

    The hairy rooster said:”So, why do you want to leave?”

    The hairy caterpillar laughed:”Old rooster, you’re wrong! They are not moving, but their horses are moving.”

    The hairy rooster said:”So in other horse, their horses are disobedient.”

    That Li brother quickly said:”Yes, it is the horses…It’s the horses….”

    The hairy rooster said:”Those horses really should be killed for being disobedient.”

    When he finished the hairy ape dismounted, he looked like a barrel but his arms were long and strong. He looked stupid but his movements were very fast.
    In one move he had reached one horse, he used his fist to hit the horse on the head. Without even neighing, the horse fell down and its’ head was shattered.
    Even Xiao Yu’er was shocked and thought: [That fellow is really strong.]

    That hairy ape had killed three horses now in an instant; the other horses were neighing in fear. In a matter of moments, more than ten horses were all killed. All the horse heads were crushed.

    All the Li brothers jumped off their horses before their steeds were hit, they look terrified. One of them started to run away as fast as possible.

    The hairy rooster said:”Another disobedient one.”

    He flew up, head first legs behind… He shot out like an arrow. His head collided with the back of the runaway robber. The man was running very fast, but when he heard a whooshing sound he did not have the time to turn around and he was hit in the back. His spine was broken into several pieces, he slowly caved in. The hair rooster lifted him up and yelled:”Old caterpillar, here is your dinner!”

    He threw the man over the Li brother’s heads, the hairy caterpillar laughed:”A delicious warm bun.”

    When the dead man flew towards him, he stretched out his small monkey arms and hands and he gently grasped at the chest of the man.

    The man kept flying away and landed several metres away, but blood was gushing from his chest. There was a big hole in his chest.

    And the hairy caterpillar’s hand was covered with blood and holding a human heart. It looked like as the heart was still beating slightly.

    The hairy caterpillar laughed:”Who wants a hot, steamy bun?”

    All the Li brothers were as white as paper now, Tie Xinnan’s face turned pale too.

    The hairy caterpillar laughed:”Since nobody wants it, I will have to enjoy it by myself.”

    And he took a bite and was chewing on half a heart. His mouth was covered with blood and his was making a disgusting chewing noise.

    The Li brothers could not stand up anymore and Tie Xinnan covered her mouth if not he would throw up.

    Even Xiao Yu’er thought it was revolting.

    Li Dazui ate humans too, but at least he ate people in a “sophisticated “ manner, he cooked them in several different ways and knew how to prepare his human dishes.

    But the way this hairy caterpillar ate was just plain repulsive. Xiao Yu’er never saw something like that, and he looked down on this manner too. He thought this fellow was ignorant, barbaric and does not know how to savour life. If you really want to eat people, you should follow Li Dazui’s example.

    The strength of the hairy ape was incredible, the hairy rooster was very fast too and the palm techniques of the hairy caterpillar were lethal too.

    This Xiao Yu’er had to admit, especially the technique, the accuracy of how he removed the heart was incredible. Even Xiao Yu’er was impressed by it, he decided to keep low and observe awhile longer.

    In a few moments the hairy caterpillar had finished the heart, he was licking his lips and fingers. He laughed:”Autumn is near now, and we have to eat some healthy food to strengthen ourselves. The human heart is very healthy, you see I feel regenerated again.”

    He really did seem to look stronger now, his voice was louder, his eyes shone brighter and he had a healthy reddish colour in his cheeks.

    Tie Xinnan sneered:”Should I be impressed now?”

    The hairy caterpillar said:”There is a healthy heart in your chest too, if you don’t want me to eat that as well. You should hand over that item. I don’t want to exhaust myself and having to eat your heart.”

    Tie Xinnan said:”Don’t even think about it!” He did not want to engage them and wanted to run away.

    But the hairy ape had already blocked his path, he spread his arms and because of his size Tie Xinnan could not pass.

    The hairy ape laughed strangely:”A handsome face, it is shame to destroy it.”

    While he was talking, Tie Xinnan launched 14 attacking stances on the hairy ape. All the stances hit the hairy ape‘s body, but the hairy ape just stood there not moving. He seemed not to be affected by those stances.

    After 14 stances, Tie Xinnan was pale and he did not launch the 15th stance anymore.

    The hairy ape asked:”Are you finished?”

    Tie Xinnan gritted his teeth and said:”Finished!”

    The hairy ape said:”Now, it is my turn.”

    He made a fist and struck out to Tie Xinnan. Tie Xinnan could not cope with such a blow, so he dodged and emerged behind his fist attack. He used his foot to trip the feet of the hairy ape and added a palm on the back of the hairy ape. The hairy ape struck out with all his might, with he tripped and was pushed over.

    He felt down and Tie Xinnan did not bother to look at him anymore. He ran as fast as he can, suddenly he noticed something emerging in front of him. It was the hairy rooster. He turned around and saw that the hairy ape got up now and was smiling strangely to him.

    To his left a small hand stretched out and said:”Hand it over!”

    The three Mao brothers were not weak, Xiao Yu’er knew from their movements and stances that Tie Xinnan could not escape from them nor defeat them.

    Xiao Yu’er sighed and thought: [It seems I have to intervene now. Even if a teacher does not necessarily need to aid his disciple in combat, he cannot allow a valuable item of my disciple being stolen.]

    Tie Xinnan was surrounded and he was readying his fists, ready to fight. Suddenly from afar soft bells could be heard and the sounds became clearer and clearer. Before long a reddish figure rode towards them.

    It was like ball of fire, the horse was fiery reddish, and the rider wore fiery red clothes. They came at incredible speed; it was like the horse could fly.

    When they heard the bells, the Li brothers, Mao brothers and Tie Xinnan were shocked. When they saw the fiery red presence, they were all stunned.

    The rider said in a melodious voice:”19 in total! Nobody is allowed to leave!”

    Both rider and horse arrived at the scene in a matter of moments, the rider whizzed his whip and a few of the Li robbers were hit and were rolling on the ground in pain. But they did not dare to run, block or even cry out. The horse galloped around and all the Li brothers’ robbers were down.

    Xiao Yu’er praised her in his heart: [Marvellous technique! And well hit! I never thought Tie Xinnan would have a friend like that. It seems I don’t need to interfere anymore.” He did notice that Tie Xinnan’s face was the palest, because the rider in red captivated him.

    The Mao brothers were too ugly, but this rider was too beautiful. The Mao brothers looked like animals, but this rider looked like a fairy.

    She wore a red gown and her face was red. Her whip was like an evil serpent; her eyes were like the stars in the sky.

    Xiao Yu’er sighed and thought: [If you can only look at her for just a few moments, it does not matter if she hits you. But the techniques of her whip are quite vicious; perhaps that is why people say that beautiful women have vicious hearts.]

    The girl did not stop her whip and continued to hit those robbers; she had a cold expression on her reddish cheeks.

    Tie Xinnan suddenly shouted:”They have done nothing to you! You’re very vicious.”

    The girl in red said coldly:”I have a vendetta with everyone evils in the realm.”

    Tie Xinnan shouted:”Stop!”

    The girl red said:”I won’t stop! I will continue to these people!”

    After another ten hits, she stopped and turned around to face the Mao brothers. Her eyes shone and she sneered:”Good, you haven’t left. Very smart, but I haven’t forgotten you.”

    The hairy caterpillar smiled:”Since Miss wants us to stay, we will stay.”

    The girl in red said:”Do you know what I did not use my whip against you?”

    The hairy caterpillar smiled:”I don’t know.”

    The girl in red said:”Those I whip might live, those my whip spare will certainly be killed.”

    The hairy caterpillar said:”Miss, do you know why we stay behind?”

    The girl in red said:”Do you have the courage to leave?”

    The hairy caterpillar laughed:”The reason why we stay behind is that others may fear you, we certainly do not!”

    The three of them leapt up like they had already planned this.

    The hairy rooster aimed his head at the waist of the girl, the hairy ape wanted to strike down the horse of the girl, the claws of the hairy caterpillar went for the eyes of the girl.

    The three brothers were fast and coordinated their attack flawlessly, they aimed at the top, centre of the girl and one attacked her steed. Every point was covered.

    Xiao Yu’er could not think of a way that the girl could block this attack, if she could block her eyes, she could block her waist, if she could block her waist, her horse will be hit.

    The girl in red sneered:”Die!”

    She whistled softly and her horse suddenly stood on two legs and used his forward legs to crash down on the hairy ape. Even if the hairy ape could withstand a blow from a man, he wanted to dodge but it was too late. He suffered two blows and fell down and rolled away.

    Xiao Yu’er almost applauded; he knew that this girl must have spectacular martial arts. But he did not expect his horse to be skilful too.

    When he looked at the hairy rooster and hairy caterpillar, both landed on the ground. The caterpillar’s hands were broken and the hairy rooster had lost half a head.

    Although Xiao Yu’er had keen eyes, he had just pair and he missed out on how the girl defeated those two. Xiao Yu’er was most impressed by the way the girl defeated these three monsters.

    However, Tie Xinnan knew what the girl was capable of and she knew what fate awaited the Mao brothers. He was not surprised at all. He just stood there, not moving, completely calm. But calm was not the right word, one should say he was scared stiff.

    The girl ignored him for now, she kept whipping various people. In the end no one was standing except Tie Xinnan. All 19 of them were dead.

    Days are short here, in the setting sun the girl’s face became even redder. The sun also shone on the bodies of the 19 dead men, a girl in red slowly rode through the corpses. It was a very bizarre scene.

    Tie Xinnan stood there, he did think of running, he just stared at her. His face had the same colour as those who lied on the ground.

    The girl in red finally stopped in front of him, Xiao Yu’er could not see her face. But he thought she must be smiling now, He thought she looked pretty enough when she was not smiling, so her smile must be lovely. Unfortunately, he could not see it. He also thought that this girl was probably in love with Tie Xinnan, so that is why she would use such lethal methods to dispose of Tie Xinnan’s adversaries.

    However, the girl scoffed:”Alright, Tie Xinnan! I must say you really have some abilities. You’re the first who could run from me for so far and so long.”

    Tie Xinnan just looked at her and did not speak.

    The girl in red said:”You can’t escape now!”

    Tie Xinnan responded:”So I don’t want to run.”

    The girl in red said:”You’re smart. Smarter than a lot of people, but if you are really smart you will hand over that item.”

    Xiao Yu’er understood now, the girl was after the item that Tie Xinnan has.

    He thought for a moment and took out something and carefully crawled forward. The wind was blowing hard through the grass, covering his crawling sound.

    He heard the girl saying:”Will you hand over or not!”

    Tie Xinnan replied:”I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

    The girl in red angrily said:”I’ve asked you nicely! Stop pretending!”

    She raised her whip and struck out.

    Tie Xinnan did not dodge and the whip hit Tie Xinnan, but the girl did not use a lot of force. Tie Xinnan was not moved by that whip and said casually:”Even if you killed me, I still won’t know what you’re talking about.”

    The girl in red shouted:”Very well, you forced me! Don’t forget when I start to fight I won’t stop. You should know my temper, are you really….”

    Because she was getting angrier and angrier she did not notice Xiao Yu’er. He had crawled up to the tail of her horse and he held something in the wind and a flame fluttered and the tail of her rouge horse caught fire. Although her horse was an intelligent animal, it was still an animal. All animals are afraid of fire and it neighed frantically immediately ran off. Before the girl in red could finish, her horse had rode off for metres now. If she would have jumped of her horse, she could still catch Xiao Yu’er and Tie Xinnan. But she loved her horse too much and could not just leave abandon her horse. Xiao Yu’er anticipated that much and that is why he came up with such a plan.

    The horse kept running.

    The girl shrieked:”Cherry, stop! Don’t be afraid!”

    She tightened her grip on the reins, but riding a horse gone mad is very difficult. That [Cherry] of her was very fast, in a few moments they were out of sight.

    Xiao Yu’er pulled Tie Xinnan along and ran the opposite direction. When his white horse saw him, he quickly followed his master. Xiao Yu’er ran and ran, he was afraid to stop.

    Tie Xinnan was afraid to stop too and both young men were panting and sweating heavily.

    They ran till it was dark, both Xiao Yu’er and Tie Xinnan never ran this hard and far before. They kept running and finally saw an old broken wooden house ahead. Xiao Yu’er could not care whether it was abandoned or not, he immediately entered. Both of them fell down, panting heavily. Xiao Yu’er accidentally put his head on Tie Xinnan’s chest and he could hear her heart beating very rapidly.

    Fortunately, the house was abandoned, there were cobwebs everywhere. When they came in they ran into some too. Xiao Yu’er wanted to wipe away the cobwebs, but suddenly Tie Xinnan pushed him away as hard as possible.

    Xiao Yu’er looked at him and said:”I saved your life. Is this your way of saying [thank you]?”

    Tie Xinnan blushed and said:”I am sorry! Thank you very much!”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed and started to sing a nonsense song:”Apologizing, make a friendly gesture and then break the wind….”

    Tie Xinnan actually broke the wind, Xiao Yu’er laughed so hard that he was rolling on the ground.

    Tie Xinnan became even redder now and wanted to find a place to hide.

    Xiao Yu’er crawled up and laughed:”Breaking wind is nothing. Some people might even wet their trousers when they are really afraid. You’re just like a girl, blushing almost every time.”

    Tie Xinnan stuttered:”I….I….”

    His voice became very soft.

    Xiao Yu’er said:”You’re not the only one to be afraid. Even I…I am afraid of that girl. I never imagined a sweet girl like that could be that ruthless.”

    Tie Xinnan smiled:”Most people in the realm are afraid of her.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”I would not be surprised, even a courageous man like me is afraid of her. Who can’t be afraid of her? Tell me, what is her name?”

    Tie Xinnan said:”Her family name is Zhang, everyone calls her the Little Fairy Zhang Qing.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”I heard of this name before….”

    Suddenly he remembered, that day when he left the valley that Ba Shudong mentioned this name too.

    That Ba Shudong was terrified of her, but at that time Xiao Yu’er never thought that such an infamous person would be a mere pretty young girl.

    Xiao Yu’er imagined how she looked like riding her horse roaming the realm. Anyone who saw her would bow before her…..Xiao Yu’er was dreaming about that sight.

    After awhile, Tie Xinnan said softly:”You managed to save me from her, it was very difficult what you did. But I think she will hate you very much from now on, you must be careful.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”I am not afraid, she never saw me and does not recognize me. Furthermore, in a real fight I may not be inferior to her.”

    Tie Xinnan laughed:”You can’t defeat her. I don’t know who taught her martial arts, but in one year she defeated about 50, 60 martial arts experts.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Those martial arts experts who sell their arts on the market?”

    Tie Xinnan said:”Some of them are really good, for instance…..”

    Xiao Yu’er said loudly:”That is of no concern now. I would like to see that priceless item of yours.”

    Tie Xinnan trembled a bit and said:”What item?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”The item which everyone wants so desperately. The item which you hold more precious than your own life and will rather die than hand it over to those people. Now do you know what item I am talking about?”

    Tie Xinnan said:”I don’t know.”

    Xiao Yu’er pulled his clothes and said loudly:”I saved your life, I just want to have a look. Are you really that heartless? I just to look, I don’t want to keep it.”

    Tie Xinnan said:”Let me go and I will tell you!”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Very well.”

    Tie Xinnan sighed:”This is a secret, you can’t tell anyone else.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Who am I going to tell? You, fool. I like you very much; I will protect you from whoever wants to harm you. I won’t tell anyone.”

    Tie Xinnan blushed; he raised his head and said softly:”I don’t have the item.”

    Xiao Yu’er looked at him for some time and suddenly burst out in laughter.

    Tie Xinnan asked:”Why are you laughing?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Do you think I am stupid? Don’t lie to me?”

    Tie Xinnan said:”I swear I am not lying.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”If you don’t have the item, why would they come after you? And why are running away from them?”

    Tie Xinnan sighed:”The item is in the possession of someone very close to me, I am afraid those people will go after him. That is why I pretend that I have it and lure these people away from him.”

    Xiao Yu’er was a bit surprised and said:”Hmm, a diversionary tactic.”

    Tie Xinnan said:”Yes.”

    Xiao Yu’er sighed:”I never thought you were such a heroic person.”

    Tie Xinnan lowered his head and said:”I am not, but that person is my own brother.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”I understand now, but tell me that is that item everyone wants.”

    Tie Xinnan lowered her head even further and said:”It is treasure map.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”A treasure map. If I knew it was something that worthless I would not bothered to ask about it? If I wanted riches I could get it anywhere, why all this trouble.”

    He stood up and walked around and frowned:”It is strange that there is a house here.”

    Tie Xinnan said:”We have run so long and hard, we must be near a village. This must be a guard house for soldiers to keep watch, but now there is peace in the land there is no need to post guards here anymore.”

    Xiao Yu’er walked to the door and smiled:”There is a well.”

    Tie Xinnan said:”There are a few bowls in that old cabinet, I will get some water.”

    Xiao Yu’er looked at him and said:”Will you run away?”

    Tie Xinnan replied:”Why should I run away?”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”I know you won’t run off.”

    Tie Xinnan did not run away, she came back with a bucket of water. That conceited look on his face was gone, he looked very gentle. He was even willing to do jobs like getting water, washing the bowls and such, tasks which most men will not do and he was doing very accurately.

    Xiao Yu’er was very amused, but then he heard the hooves of a horse. Both of them were startled, fortunately Xiao Yu’er had sharp eyes and saw it was his own white horse. The horse had ran off earlier when the two of them were running, and now it came back to look for its’ master again.

    Xiao Yu’er was surprised and happy; he quickly went outside and hugged the head of his horse. He said:”Horsy, you’re a good horse. Tomorrow I will feed you cabbage. Hmm, I have to give you a name too. Her horse was called Cherry, I will name you White Cabbage.”

    He looked into the house, but it was very dark and he could not see anything. After a few moments, Tie Xinnan came out with two bowls of water, he was smiling happily:”I have tasted the water, it is very refreshing.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Horsy, should drink too. Give him these two bowls first.”

    Tie Xinnan anxiously said:”No…No! I…I have just cleaned these two bowls. Let it drink from the bucket.”

    He put one bowl near the well and handed the other to Xiao Yu’er. He hurried inside.

    When he came back, Xiao Yu’er was still standing there. Tie Xinnan blinked her eyes and smiled:”Drink, the water is very refreshing.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”I am afraid that the water in the well is poisoned.”

    Tie Xinnan laughed:”Impossible! If the water is poisoned I will be dead by now. I just drank a bowl earlier, I am going to drink another bowl now.”

    He picked up the bowl near the well and drank it up.

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”I feel safer now.”

    He picked up his bowl and drank the water, and poured bowl after bowl.

    Evening came and the sky was full of stars now.

    Suddenly, Xiao Yu’er yelled out:”Something is wrong! I feel dizzy.”

    Tie Xinnan looked at him and said:”Just sit down, you will be fine.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”There is definitely something wrong, I feel weak all over.”

    After he finished he fell down and shouted:”Poison….The water is poisoned!”

    Tie Xinnan back away with two steps and coldly said:”Don’t be afraid. There is no poison in the water, just some sleeping powder in it. You can stay here and have a good long nap, tomorrow morning you will be able to walk again.”

    Xiao Yu’er panted:”Why did you put sleeping powder in the water?”

    Tie Xinnan said:”I can’t take you along to where I am going.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”You…..You…..”

    But fatigue took over and he did not speak anymore.

    Tie Xinnan laughed:”You’re a smart boy, but….”

    While he was talking he turned around and wanted to walk away, suddenly his legs felt weak and he fell down too.

    His face changed, he got up and tried to walk but after two steps he fell down again. He did not even have the strength to crawl anymore, he said in a crackling voice:”What is going on here?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Could it be that you put sleeping powder in your own water too?”

    Tie Xinnan said:”Impossible! I just put….”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed loudly and leapt up.

    Tie Xinnan was shocked and said:”You…But…”

    Xiao Yu’er clapped his hands and said:”You’re a smart boy too, but compared to me you have still a long way to go. Do you really think I did not see you putting sleeping powder in the water? Let me tell you something, my pair of eyes were washed with top herbal elixirs, I can even find a needle middle in the night.”

    Tie Xinnan said with fear:”You switched the bowls?”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Yes, I did. But you did not see it. I will tell you something else; I learnt tricks like this when I was two years old. The people who raised me are the patriarchs of using sleeping powder and other substances like that.”

    Tie Xinnan tried her best to stay awake and shouted:”What….What do you want to do with me?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”I don’t want to do anything with you. But I just don’t believe what you told me. First I will have to search you thoroughly and see if you really don’t have the map.”

    In the beginning Tie Xinnan’s face was as white as paper, but now it turned red, he shouted:”I beg of you don’t…..”

    His voice was cracking, his body was trembling too. He tightly held on to his clothes. He kept begging:”Please, I beg of you…..Don’t…..”

    Gradually his voice died out and her grip loosened.

    Xiao Yu’er looked at him and chuckled. When he stopped moving, Xiao Yu’er knelt beside her and thought the more you plead the more I want to search you.

    At this moment, the wind was blowing and a figure appeared. Although the figure did not make a noise and stood behind Xiao Yu’er like a ghost. In the corners of his eyes he could vaguely see that the figure wore red clothes.

    Xiao Yu realised who came.

    The mysterious figure just stood there, she was very slender and loveable.

    She raised her hand and her manner was so refined and beautiful. Like a fairy distributing happiness and love to mortals.

    But this hand only distributed death and that hand could take Xiao Yu’er life any time.

    Xiao Yu’er seemed unaware of that and said to himself softly:”This man is really strange, why would he sleep here? And he won’t wake up. Hey! Hey, wake up! You will catch a cold sleeping here!”

    The hand that wanted to pat down stopped.

    Xiao Yu’er was talking to himself:”What should I do? Since I saw him I cannot just leave him here like that. Just my luck to see that well when I was thirsty, and now I am stuck with this fellow.”

    The girl in red said:”Don’t you know this man?”

    Xiao Yu’er jumped up like he was stuck by needle in his behind. When he turned around he gazed at the figure with big eyes like he saw a ghost.

    Xiao Yu’er already knew who came, he saw a reflection in the bucket of water and knew the Little Fairy, Zhang Qing had come. But Xiao Yu’er really had her fooled with his brilliant acting, he looked at her for some time and stuttered:”Little Miss, when did you came in? I…”

    Before he could finish, Zhang Qing slapped him in his face. Xiao Yu’er wanted to dodge but he could not, he was rolling on the ground now.

    Zhang Qing coldly said coldly:”How dare you call me [little Miss]!”

    Xiao Yu’er covered his mouth and put on a long face, he crawled up and said:”Yes, I understand, honourable Miss….I..”

    Before he could finish, he was slapped again.

    Zhang Qing sternly said:”I don’t like the way you call me.”

    Xiao Yu’er stuttered:”Yes, auntie. I won’t do it again.”

    Zhang Qing coldly said:”That is more like it.”

    She still sounded very cold, but at least she was not so hostile anymore. She did not understand why she was less hostile now, but one look at Xiao Yu’er she could not stay angry with him.

    Xiao Yu’er blinked his eyes and said:”Auntie, don’t be angry. I have an uncle who said that if a person becomes angry his flesh will turn sour. No….No! When people become angry they will become old and ugly. Auntie, you’re so pretty, it will be a shame if you would become old and ugly.”

    Surprisingly, Zhang Qing heard him out.

    She looked at this boy and thought he was most strange.

    She asked:”Do you really think I am pretty?”

    When she asked that question, she realised that she became too friendly and immediately slapped Xiao Yu’er again. Her pretty eyes looked stern again and said:”Even if I am, you should not talk about it.”

    Xiao Yu’er chuckled to himself and thought this slap was much softer, but he still looked like he was crying and said:”Yes, auntie is very pretty, but I won’t speak of it again.”

    Zhang Qing asked:”Tell me, how you came here?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”I came here with a few uncles to do business. Today an uncle bought a new horse for me, and told me to ride and play with it. Although the horse was young, it was very fierce. It ran off and I could not control it and finally it stopped. Now, I don’t know where I am.”

    He did not even have to think about making up this story; it just flew out of his mouth. It was such a convincing lie.

    Zhang Qing nodded and said:”True, even the most obedient horse can be difficult to ride when it is out of control. And you’re just a small boy.”

    She knew from her own experience, that is why she was a bit sympathetic towards the little brat. But she did not know that it was this brat who was responsible for her painful experience.

    Xiao Yu’er almost exploded with laughter, but he just said:”Yes, yes. I was riding a wild horse and finally it stopped, when I saw the well I wanted to have a bit of water and that is when I saw sleepyhead here.”

    Zhang Qing looked at Tie Xinnan and scoffed:”Do you think he is sleeping?”

    Xiao Yu’er exclaimed with surprise:”But what is he doing if he isn’t sleeping.”

    Zhang Qing said:”Little brat, let me tell you he is been drugged by someone. Strange, who could have drugged him? Never mind that, I can now search him.”

    She did not suspect Xiao Yu’er anymore and talked to herself in his presence. Xiao Yu’er became anxious when he saw her searching Tie Xinnan, but he could not do a thing.

    However, she could not find anything after an extensive search. Xiao Yu’er thought: [It seems that the map really isn’t in his possession, but why was he so afraid when I said I would search him.]

    Suddenly, Zhang Qing called out:”Darn! The item must be taken by the one who drugged Tie Xinnan. Who could that be? Little brat, get a bucket of water and pour it over him. I want to question him.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Yes, don’t worry. I can even carry ten buckets of water.”

    But he pretended to have trouble carrying even one, and when he came back he was panting heavily. He muttered to himself:”How come the bucket is so heavy? I…”

    Suddenly he tripped and fell down; the water was splashed on Zhang Qing.

    She scolded:”You worthless pig!”

    Xiao Yu’er turned pale of fear and crawled up, he took of his clothes clumsily and used it to wipe Zhang Qing’s clothes.

    He kept saying:”Auntie, please forgive! It was an accident.”

    Zhang Qing angrily said:”You look like human, but you are as useless as stupid pig. If you ruined my clothes, I will kill you.”

    She stamped her feet and shook her clothes. Xiao Yu’er hurriedly crawled down to wipe. She was muttering to herself and wanted to kick the stupid pig away.

    But before she could lift her leg, the Yinling Quan acupoint of her felt numb. She could not move half her body anymore, she was shocked and yelled:”You, little brat!”

    Xiao Yu’er kept saying:”I am sorry, it was an accident. I am very sorry….”

    While he was talking, he sealed her Zhongbi, Liangqiu, Pailing acupoints; he sealed all her major acupoints of her leg, with that she fell down.

    Zhang Qing may be young, but she had encountered some formidable people in her life. Some of them were infamous rogues, but she never thought that this little brat was ten times more dangerous than those thugs. She never saw through him and was already defeated; she was fuming but could not do a thing.

    Xiao Yu’er chortled and deliberately looked at her closely:”Oh, are you ill? Did you catch a cold? Why did you suddenly fall over? I never thought you would be that sickly, a little bit of cold water and you are ill.”

    Zhang Qing was fuming and said angrily:”Good! Very good! I never imagined you would be so good.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”I am sorry, it was not my intention. I wanted to give your horse some water, since I burnt his tail and behind I feel a bit remorseful about that. Since you horse is almost completely healed, there is no need for the water. I thought I might as well give it all to you.”

    Zhang Qing shouted:”So it was you who burnt Cherry’s tail.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Burning Cherry, drowning Little Fairy, this stupid pig is not that stupid. Let me teach you something, never underestimate anyone and never overestimate yourself. A little girl wanting to be an aunt, always wanting to be superior can only lead to downfall.”

    He did not care whether Zhang Qing was about to explode with anger; he carried Tie Xinnan in his arms and put her on his white horse. It looked like he was about to leave.

    Zhang Qing gritted her teeth, she knew it was best to keep quiet or else she might suffer bigger humiliation.

    However, Xiao Yu’er turned around and laughed:”Right! If I have to return those three slaps you gave me earlier. Seeing that you are a girl, I will settle with returning three slaps back.”

    Zhang Qing said with fear:”How dare you?”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”I would not dare, I would not dare…”

    And then he swung out his palm and slapped Zhang Qing in her face, her cheek was all red. She had never suffered so heavily before in her life.

    She yelled:”You….You! You remember this!”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Rest assured! I won’t forget anything. Your first slap was very hard, so I had to return that hard slap back. Your second slap was not so heavy anymore.”

    After the second slap, Zhang Qing tried to hold back her tears but in vain. From the day she was born, nobody had ever hit her before.

    She was crying and looked at Xiao Yu’er resentfully and said:”I will never forget you! Never! Never!”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”I know you will never be able to forget about me. Women always remember the men who hit them for the first time. And I will feel very happy being remembered by a girl like you.”

    He laughed loudly and said:”But I cannot just forget about the third slap, but your third slap was very light. I cannot bear to strike you hard. What do you think I should do?”

    Zhang Qing roared:”Drop dead!”

    Xiao Yu’er blinked his eyes and laughed:”Well, like this we will call it even!”

    He looked into Zhang Qing’s eyes and bent his head forward.

    Zhang Qing was trembling now and shouted:”What do you want?”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”You used your hand to slap me, I will use my mouth to hit you. I will be much lighter than your hand.”

    Zhang Qing shouted:”You, monster! How….”

    She could not say the word [dare] anymore, because Xiao Yu’er gently lifter her chin and kissed her softly on her lips.

    She stopped yelling and was totally stunned.

    Xiao Yu’er sighed:”You’re just 15, 16 years old. How can you be my aunt? You could be my wife; you have a sweet little mouth. I would like kiss your mouth ten times a day, I would still like it.”

    Zhang Qing looked at him and said slowly:”If you touch me again, I will kill you…. I will kill you….”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Don’t worry! I will never touch you again; I will never want a bad-tempered girl like you. I wonder who the unlucky fool is who will become your husband.”

    Zhang Qing shouted:”Kill me! You would be smart to kill me, if not I will hunt you down and kill you slowly, bit by bit!”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed loudly; he turned around and walked to his horse.

    Zhang Qing shouted:”Why don’t you kill me? Why? One of these days, you will regret it. I swear you will regret it!”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed and pulled his horse along as he walked.

    Zhang Qing looked at him walking away till he was out of sight, she could not hold back her tears anymore and cried.

    She could hear Xiao Yu’er sing a song:”Poor little fairy…. Weeping and crying! If Xiao Yu’er hears it, he will clap his hands and laugh heartily.”

    As he walked he kept singing, he noticed that his singing voice was quite good. At least it sounded better than the weeping sounds of Zhang Qing.

    He stopped singing when he could not hear Zhang Qing’s crying anymore. He rubbed his face and sighed, but suddenly he started to laugh loudly again.

    That little tigress was really fierce, his cheeks still ached. But her lips were sweet and soft, it seemed that delicious taste was still in his mouth. He started to run forward again, his white horse followed. But soon his horse began to pant and then it stopped, it lied down to rest. It was too tired to continue. The sky was vast in the prairie, the stars were bright and the evening wind was cool, Xiao Yu’er soon fell asleep. He dreamt he was holding Zhang Qing in his arms, and she told him:”Every day you can only give a hundred kisses. Just a hundred and no more, but I expect at least a hundred a day.”

    When he was about to kiss Zhang Qing, she leapt up and slapped him. But something is wrong, someone really slapped him. Could it be that Zhang Qing had returned? He woke up startled and saw Tie Xinnan. It was Tie Xinnan who slapped him; he also poured water on Xiao Yu’er.

    Under the stars, the beautiful eyes of Tie Xinnan were filled with anger, he bit his lip and said:”You, brat! Like everyone else, you have to sleep too! You have finally fallen into my hands now.”

    Xiao Yu’er wanted to jump up, but he could not move anymore. His acupoints were sealed, but he was neither angry nor anxious. He chortled:”I was having such a nice dream, you disturb my beautiful dream you have pay now. I was about to kiss someone a hundred times, you have to let me kiss you a hundred times.”

    Tie Xinnan was trembling and said:”What did you do to me?”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Nothing special. I just searched you from top to toe and covered every spot of your body.”

    Tie Xinnan trembled even harder now, her face was so red it was showing even in the dark. She was so upset now, that she could not speak.

    Xiao Yu’er blinked his eyes and sighed:”Why didn’t you tell me that you were a girl? If I knew I would not have searched you. You should know that although I am young I am still a man, how could I control myself…”

    Tie Xinnan shouted:”Shut up! Shut up! If you say another word, I will kill you!”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”I have done it already, does it really matter if I keep quiet about it.”

    Tie Xinnan gritted her teeth and she burst into tears.

    Xiao Yu’er made a funny face and said:”It seems that you have no choice but to marry me. I have to take an older woman as my wife. (*Sigh) When I am 30, you will be an old hag.”

    Tie Xinnan pulled a dagger from her shoe and said in a shaky voice:”What last words do you have? Say it now!”

    Xiao Yu’er exclaimed with surprise:”You really want to kill me? I don’t mind if you want to marry someone else, I won’t object. Why do you have to kill me?”

    Tie Xinnan gritted her teeth and said:”If you have nothing to say, I will….”

    Xiao Yu’er wanted to burst out with laughter, but he could not. He could almost cry, because she really believed that lie of his.

    Women?!? Are they smart of dumb?

    Xiao Yu’er smiled wryly:”I beg of you marry someone else. I don’t care who you want to marry, as long it isn’t me. I really can’t stand it.”

    Tie Xinnan shouted:”Are these your final words? Good!”

    She tightened her grip on her dagger and was about to stab Xiao Yu’er in the chest.

    Xiao Yu’er yelled:”I have something to say! Wait! Wait!”

    Tie Xinnan stamped her feet and said:”Be quick about it!”

    Xiao Yu’er sighed:”I have something to say, I hope you can tell it to all the men in the world. Tell them never to save anyone and especially women. If they see a woman about to be killed, never burn the tail of a horse. Instead set fire to their own arses and run in the opposite direction.”

    Tie Xinnan said:”Yes, you did save my life. But….I…”

    She sat down and started to weep, she wept and said:”What can I do? What should I do?”

    Xiao Yu’er gently said:”Don’t worry, just kill me. Don’t let the worries get to you, let me die. If I can die at your hands I will be happy too.”

    Although he said that he was secretly watching Tie Xinnan, she was crying harder and harder. Xiao Yu’er felt smart and thought: [I finally know how to deal with women. You have reach their hearts, and when you have succeeded, they will listen to you and be obedient.”

    While he began to feel proud, Tie Xinnan stopped crying and leapt up and ran away.

    Xiao Yu’er was shocked and shouted:”You cannot leave me behind like this! What will happen if wolves or tigers come? Even worse, what if Zhang Qing catches up with me? Do you know that I saved you again earlier?”

    He shouted loudly, but Tie Xinnan could not hear him.

    The wind was cool; the sky was filled with beautiful, shining starts. But Xiao Yu’er was certainly not enjoying it.

    In fact he was angry and muttered to himself:”Jiang Yu! Who can you blame but yourself. Why did you have to antagonize women? It is your own fault if you’re eaten by wolves or killed by Zhang Qing.”

    His white little horse walked next to him and started to neigh.

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Little Cabbage, my words are true. The next time if you see a man trying to strangle a woman with a rope, get a longer and thicker rope for him. Or if you see a man about to kill a woman with a knife, help him to sharpen the knife.”

    His white horse neighed and ran off.

    Xiao Yu’er smiled wryly:”Even you are not reliable, you must be a mare.”

    He noticed that White Cabbage ran towards a person, that person just stood there not moving. It was Tie Xinnan, she came back.

    Xiao Yu’er was surprised and happy, but he stayed silent. White Cabbage went over to her and neighed softly. She slowly walked over; in the blowing wind she looked very elegant.

    Xiao Yu’er sighed and thought: [I should have seen that she is a woman. Only women walk that elegantly.]

    Tie Xinnan stood next to him; Xiao Yu’er closed his eyes deliberately.

    She said melancholically:”I know you’ve done nothing to me.”

    Xiao Yu’er finally laughed:”You only found out now?”

    Tie Xinnan said:”I thought you….That is why….”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”For the love of heaven, please speak up.”

    Tie Xinnan lowered her head and said earnestly:”Are you willing to accompany me to a certain place?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Of course I am willing, but first you have to unseal my acupoints. I don’t suppose you will carry me on the way to that place of yours.”

    Tie Xinnan’s face became redder and laughed; she bent over and gently patted Xiao Yu’er a few times and unsealed his acupoints. It seemed that she was afraid to hurt Xiao Yu’er.

    Xiao Yu’er smiled wryly:”When you sealed my acupoints, you were most harsh. But now you’re all weak and meek. Women, women….”

    He got up and spat on the ground.

    Tie Xinnan turned her back to Xiao Yu’er and said softly:”Originally, I did not want you to go with me. But now, but now I know you’re very kind to me.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”You did not know it earlier?”

    Tie Xinnan said:”I did not want you to go with me, because the place where I am going is very secretive…”

    Xiao Yu’er asked:”Where do you want to go anyway?”

    Tie Xinnan slowly said:”It is near Mount Kunlun…”

    Xiao Yu’er exclaimed with surprise:”The Valley of Evil? Are you planning to go to the Valley of Evil?”

    Tie Xinnan turned around and said with shock:”How did you know?”

    Xiao Yu’er hit himself lightly on the head and muttered to himself:”Oh heaven! This girl asks me about the Valley of Evil, I know everything about the Valley of Evil.”

    Tie Xinnan looked at him completely surprised and asked:”How come?”

    Xiao Yu’er answered:”Don’t ask me that first. Please tell me, why you want to go the Valley of Evil. You don’t look like the sort to go to the Valley of Evil.”

    Tie Xinnan said:”I…I am going there to look for someone.”

    Xiao Yu’er asked:”Who?”

    Tie Xinnan said:”You would not know even if I told you.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”You should know, that I know everyone in the Valley of Evil.”

    Tie Xinnan was surprised and said:”You…”

    Xiao Yu’er interrupted her:”I grew up in the Valley of Evil.”

    Tie Xinnan’s expression changed and said:”I don’t believe you.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”You don’t believe me? Well, only a place like the Valley of Evil can produce someone like me. Can you think of any place else?”

    Tie Xinnan was a bit dumbfounded for a moment, but soon she smiled sweetly:”I can’t think of any place else. I should have known.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Can you now tell me who you are looking for?”

    Tie Xinnan lowered her head and stayed silent for a moment, she then slowly said:”I am looking for someone who has the same surname as me, Tie. He is very famous.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Could it be that you’re looking for one of the Ten Great Malevolents, the Mad Lion Tie Zhan?”

    Tie Xinnan lifted her head and exclaimed with shock:”Do you know him? Is he really there?”

    Xiao Yu’er smiled:”You are very fortunate to have meet me, otherwise you would have gone there in vain. Who told you that the Mad Lion was there? You should really beat that person up.”

    Before Tie Xinnan could respond, she had passed out.

    Tie Xinnan rode the horse and Xiao Yu’er pulled the reins and walked. Both of them did not speak.

    It was night now, it was cold and quiet and the vast prairie seemed limitless but it was not.

    After a long journey, they finally left the prairie behind. The wonderful, simple but mesmerizing prairie had left a deep impression behind in Xiao Yu’er’s heart.
    But Xiao Yu’er did not look back, what he left behind was over. No point on dwelling on it. Tie Xinnan looked very pale, but she was still very pretty. Ever since Xiao Yu’er found out she was a girl, he noticed that she was prettier than most girls. Furthermore, he noticed she was more fragile than he imagined. Ever since she heard Tie Zhan was not in the valley, she did not speak or moved. If the white horse were not here, she would not have been able to travel either. Xiao Yu’er could not help it but sigh and think: [Women, women. They cannot cope with setbacks, the ugly ones cannot and the pretty ones cannot either.]

    But he did not speak out his thoughts; he could not be bothered by it.

    Suddenly, Tie Xinnan spoke softly. She still had tears in her eyes, but she did not look at Xiao Yu’er:”Why won’t you talk?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Since you do not speak, why should I talk?”

    Tie Xinnan asked:”But don’t you have questions?”

    Xiao Yu’er answered:”Why should I ask questions? I know everything.”

    Tie Xinnan said:”You know everything?”

    Xiao Yu’er smiled casually:”You were forced to flee from your home, so you decided to look for your father. Although you do not really like him, perhaps you even left him when you were young. Or even abandoned by him, but he is still your father.”

    Tie Xinnan’s eyes glared up and looked at Xiao Yu’er, she asked:”My father? Who is my father?”

    Xiao Yu’er answered:”The Mad Lion, Tie Zhan.”

    Tie Xinnan exclaimed with shock:”Who? Who told you that?”

    Xiao Yu’er yawned and said:”I told myself! I know that women won’t confess the truth even if they are confronted by it. So, I don’t need you to acknowledge it.”

    Tie Xinnan stared at him, like she never saw him before. This boy is not human, he is a little demon. He is an oracle.

    After some time, she finally asked:”How…How did you know?”

    Xiao Yu’er continued:”I also your name is not [nan] as in “man.” But it is actually Tie Xinlan, [lan] as in orchid. That should be a name that is worthy of you.”

    Tie Xinnan stuttered:”Yes, …you’re right. My name is Tie Xinlan.”

    Xiao Yu’er smiled:”I know you must be quite flustered now and you do not know where you should go now. That is why I did not speak, I wanted to give you some peace to think things over.”

    Tie Xinlan smiled wryly:”How old are you? Sometimes I am quite frightened, I don’t know if you’re a boy or some….”

    Xiao Yu’er interrupted:”Demon?”

    Tie Xinlan sighed softly:”I sometimes think you are the personification of an oracle, how else can you guess the thoughts of other people?”

    Xiao Yu’er seriously said:”Because I am smarter than anyone in the world.”

    Tie Xinlan said melancholically:”Perhaps you’re right…”

    Xiao Yu’er asked:”Have you thought it out?”

    Tie Xinlan asked:”What do you mean?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Do you know what you are going to do?”

    Tie Xinlan lowered her head and said:”I….I…”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Well, you should hurry up. I can’t stay here and keep you company forever.”

    Tie Xinlan lifted her head and her face was whiter than paper and exclaimed with shock:”You…you can’t?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Of course I can’t.”

    Tie Xinlan said softly:”But….But…”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Yes, initially I wanted to accompany you. We could have roamed the realm together, but since you’re a girl this plan cannot go through. I can’t have you as my disciple anymore.”

    Tie Xinlan shrieked:”You….You…You…”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”We’re not related, we’re not really friends. Why should we keep each other company? Furthermore, I have a lot of things to do, I can’t be stuck with a woman the entire time.”

    Tie Xinlan felt like she was horsewhipped, she was stunned and trembled. After a long while she smiled sadly:”We’re not friends nor are we related….You can go now…”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Are you…”

    Tie Xinlan turned around and sneered:”You have your own places to go, you don’t have to worry about me.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”I am afraid you are not fit to walk, I will give you this horse.”

    Tie Xinlan bit her lip and said:”Thank you, but I don’t need your horse. I don’t need anything from you….You…”

    She dismounted and immediately turned her head around. She did not want to look at Xiao Yu’er, because she did not want him to see her tears.

    Xiao Yu’er pretended not to see that, he took the reins and laughed:”It is good that you don’t need a horse. Because I’ve grown to like my horse. I would be saddened if I should part with White Cabbage.”

    Tie Xinlan said in shaky voice:”I…I…” She wanted to say: [I am even inferior to a horse? Aren’t you saddened if we should part?]

    But she did not say that, her heart was shattered.

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Very well, I am off. Take good care of yourself.”

    Tie Xinlan did not turn back, she heard him mount the horse, whip it and riding off. He left, just like that.

    Xiao Yu’er could not keep quiet anymore and shouted:”Of course I will take good care of myself. I don’t need your hypocritical care. I would rather die than to see you again.”

    She fell down and started to cry.

    Xiao Yu’er did not hear her crying. In any event, he at least pretended not to hear her. He patted the head of the horse and muttered:”You see how smart I am, like that I have freed myself from a woman. You should know that women are not easily dealt with.”

    As he rode on, he did not look back. After a long time, he muttered to the horse again:”White Cabbage, can you guess where she is off to? You don’t know, do you? To tell you the truth, I don’t know either. Shall we wait and spy on her?”

    White Cabbage could not talk back, although he could disagree.

    Xiao Yu’er dismounted and muttered again:”Just knowing a few secrets of a girl won’t do any harm. And we have no urgent matters at hand. There is no harm in waiting, is it?”

    White Cabbage could not talk back; Xiao Yu’er was just looking for reasons for him to wait. The good thing about horses or other animals is that at least they cannot expose you or betray your true intentions.

    Tie Xinlan did not come this way, could she have taken another direction? But this is the only way, could it be that she lost her way? Or could it be….

    Xiao Yu’er suddenly mounted his horse and shouted:”Go! White Cabbage, we’re going to see what she is doing? You should know that I am not worried about her well-being. I don’t have feelings for anyone in this world.”

    While he was talking, White Cabbage had already taken off faster than he came. In a few moments, they returned to where they parted with Tie Xinlan. Xiao Yu’er saw Tie Xinlan.

    She was lying on the ground, not crying nor moving.

    Xiao Yu’er flew down from his horse and yelled:”This is not the place to sleep!”

    Tie Xinlan trembled and crawled up yelling:”Go away! Who told you to come back? Why have you come back?”

    In the dark, Xiao Yu’er saw the face of Tie Xinlan was all red a bit too red, almost purple. Her slender body was trembling and every word she said took a lot of her energy.

    Xiao Yu’er exclaimed:”You’re ill!”

    Tie Xinlan scoffed:”Even if I am, that is none of your business. We’re not friends, nor related, why should you care?”

    She managed to stand up, but was about to fall down again.

    Xiao Yu’er said:”I want to care now!”

    He held her up and touched her cheek with his other hand. She was burning.

    Tie Xinlan was pushing away Xiao Yu’er’s hand and said in a weak voice:”Don’t touch me!”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Too late, I am not letting go.” With that he lifted her in his arms.

    Tie Xinlan shouted:”Let me go! Don’t touch me!”

    She was resisting and yelling, but she could not break free from his grip and her voice became weaker and weaker. She used her fists to hit Xiao Yu’er, but even her hits were soft and weak.

    Xiao Yu’er said:”You’re very ill, you could die! If you don’t listen to me, I will remover your trousers and spank you! You should know that I am not joking now.”

    Tie Xinlan yelled:”You….you….”

    She put her head on Xiao Yu’er chest and started to weep loudly.

    The end of chapter 6

  8. #8
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
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    Chapter 7 Shock and Fear

    Tie Xinlan was seriously ill. When they arrived at Haiyan, Xiao Yu’er found the best inn and asked for the best room. The best room was already occupied by someone else, Xiao Yu’er just said:”If you leave, this ingot of gold is yours.” With that he put an ingot of gold on the table.

    All he said were nine words; the occupant took the gold and left as soon as he could. Gold cannot speak, but it is more useful than saying a hundred or thousand words.

    Because Tie Xinlan endured disappointment, fear, sorrow, anxiety and the cold wind of the prairie made normally very healthy and strong Tie Xinlan ill. She had a high fever and slept for an entire day.

    When she woke up, she saw Xiao Yu’er boiling some herbal medicine. She tried to get up but Xiao Yu’er pushed her down. Tie Xinlan groaned:”Why? Why have…?” Xiao Yu’er said loudly:”Don’t open your mouth!”

    She saw bags under Xiao Yu’er’s eyes, it seemed he did not have a proper night of sleep for some time now. She started to cry again.

    Xiao Yu’er walked over to her with a bowl of herbal medicine soup and said:”Don’t cry and drink this up! This is a very good prescription and this is best herbal soup. After drinking it, you will feel better again. Stop crying like a child, or else I will spank you.”

    Tie Xinlan asked:”Who prescribed this?”

    Xiao Yu’er answered:”I did.”

    Tie Xinlan said:”You’re a physician too? Are there things you don’t know?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Keep your mouth shut and drink up!”

    She smiled sweetly:”If I am not allowed to open my mouth, how I am going to drink your soup.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed; he suddenly noticed that girls could be very cute too. Especially, when they are smiling sweetly to you.

    At dusk, Tie Xinlan was sleeping again.

    Xiao Yu’er walked around in the inn aimlessly and muttered to himself:”Jiang Yu! Don’t forget, when girls smile to you they want to harm you! The gentler they are, the more dangerous your situation is. If you’re not careful, your life will be over.”

    His white horse was in the stables eating grass.

    Xiao Yu’er walked over and caressed his head and said:”White Cabbage, don’t worry! I won’t fall for their tricks, when she is better again I will leave at once.”

    He suddenly heard horses coming this way from and stopping in front of the inn. The inn was small, but it had everything even a fine wine house.

    Xiao Yu’er heard that these people came here in a hurry and decided to have a look.

    From afar, he could see four, five muscular men entering the inn. They were not talking to each other and found a table and sat down. The proprietor was afraid to ask and immediately put a bottle of liquor and cups down at their table. These people just sat there, dumbfounded.

    They wore expensive brocades and had swords hanging from their girdles, they looked quite impressive. But their cheeks were red and swollen, like they were slapped numerous times by someone.

    After some time, two more men came in. They looked even worse, their cheeks were red and swollen too but they also had no ears. There was bloody bandage tied around where their ears supposed to be.

    The first five men stared at the two newcomers totally surprised. When those two noticed the other five, they wanted to leave but it was too late. They had been seen.

    Xiao Yu’er was amused and decided to hide and watch what was going on here.

    Could the two groups be enemies? And they were so unfortunate to meet each other here and were going to fight each other. Xiao Yu’er did not want to go in and be involved in this.

    But they were not fighting; they just looked at each other.

    A muscular man of the group of five with pimples, although you could not see his red pimples clearly now due to the redness and swelling of his cheeks, he looked at those two men for a moment and laughed:”Protecting silver peacefully into Anxi…. I have heard that the two great escort guards of the Anxi guard agency never lose anything. How come you have lost your ears now? Most peculiar!”

    When he laughed his cheeks hurt incredibly, but he could not help himself. Later on he covered his mouth with his hands and it looked like he was crying more than laughing.

    The two men were fuming and their eyes were red now, the man on the left with a scar said coldly:”You should not laugh when your face has been slapped red and swollen. The pain will ruin the laughter.”

    The man with pimples slammed his hand on the table and shouted:”What did you say?”

    The man with the scar sneered:”We should make fun of each other, we’re both in the same predicament now.”

    The man with the pimples jumped up and wanted to go over, the man with the scar stood up too. Xiao Yu’er thought: [They are going to fight now.”

    But before they could fight, their companions to pulled them down.

    The one who pulled down the man with pimples was an elderly man with a long beard. His face was not that red and swollen as the rest. He shook his hands and said with an enforced smile:”The Anxi and the Dingyuan guard agency have been rivals for a long time. Competing with each other and trying to snatch away each other’s businesses, but that is just business rivalry. We are all martial artists in the realm, let us not fight now and create more problems.”

    The companion who pulled down the man with scar was a skinny man, he said with an enforced smile too:”Brother Ouyang is right. We’re all sent here to this forsaken place by our guard agencies, that is already very unfortunate. We should create even more problems now.”

    The elder man with the surname Ouyang sighed:”Furthermore, we all suffered at the hands of the same person. We should unite ourselves instead of fighting each other.”

    The skinny man said with surprise:”Were you assaulted by her too?”

    The Ouyang elderly man smiled wryly:”Who else could it be? Who else could be that lethal and vicious? We really suffered terribly at her hands.”

    With that he and the other six men sighed deeply and sat down again.

    All seven of them had a different facial expression, but all had anger and hatred in their eyes.

    The man with the pimples slammed his fist on the table and said angrily:”If we did something wrong and that little wretch would punish us, we would have nothing to say. But for no reason she just beat us up.”

    The Ouyang elder sighed:”The weaker will be bullied by the strong, which is the universal rule of the realm. I am not looking down on us, but our martial arts are nowhere near the level of her. Even if we are unhappy, what can we do about it.”?

    The skinny man suddenly laughed:”But looking at that wretch it seems that she suffered a bit too at the hands of someone too. Her eyes were red; like she had been weeping bitterly and even her precious horse is gone. We just had the sheer luck of meeting her when she was furious, and she used us to vent her anger.”

    The man with the pimples laughed:”Brother Xu is right. That little wretch must have met someone more formidable than her, or she could have met a handsome young fellow and lost her heart and horse to him.”

    All of them laughed, even if their cheeks hurt a lot. But at least they felt a bit better and happy again.

    Xiao Yu’er immediately understood that they met the Little Fairy, Zhang Qing. He too experienced her slapping methods at first hand. But these people suffered even harder than he did, she must have taken out her frustration and anger out on them.

    Xiao Yu’er wanted to laugh too, but suddenly he noticed that the seven men stopped laughing. He took a look and saw that their faces were all frozen and their eyes gazed at the door, they broke out in a cold sweat.

    Zhang Qing was standing at the door and slowly:”I told you to look for someone, why are you here drinking?”

    Xiao Yu’er’s heart skipped a beat, he remained calm and slowly backed out. He knew very well, he was the person Zhang Qing was looking for.

    Fortunately, it was dark now. Only lamps inside the rooms were lit and it was very dark outside. Xiao Yu’er drew back along the corner of a wall, he continued to back away to the stable.

    He could not be seen by Zhang Qing, his horse could not be seen by her either. Unfortunately, his horse was a bit too white.

    There was pool of mud near the stable, Xiao Yu’er grabbed some mud and smeared it on his horse. His horse wanted to neigh; he quickly stuffed his mouth with hay. He patted his horse and said softly:”White Cabbage, don’t make a sound! I am sorry, but it is your own fault for being so white. You’re even whiter than the skin of Tie Xinlan.”

    While he was talking, his white horse was all dirty and muddy. Xiao Yu’er laughed when he saw this and wiped his hands on the tail. He quickly returned to the room.

    The lamps were not lit and Tie Xinlan was awake. She looked at Xiao Yu’er with her pretty, shiny eyes, she immediately grabbed Xiao Yu’er arm and screamed:”Where are my boots?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Your boots? Those old boots of yours?”

    Tie Xinlan panted:”Yes, that pair of boots.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”The soles were almost gone, so I threw them in the sewer canal.”

    Tie Xinlan was trembling and repeated:”Threw away?”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Even beggars won’t want those old, worn out boots of yours, why are you so anxious about them? I bought you a new pair, a hundred times better than the old ones.”

    Tie Xinlan jumped off the bed and said with a shaky voice:”Where did you dump them? Take me there….”

    Xiao Yu’er said pulled her arm and said:”You need not go.”

    Tie Xinlan stamped her feet and said:”You, idiot! I want to look for those boots, I have hidden…”

    Xiao Yu’er blinked his eyes and asked:”What have you hidden?”

    Tie Xinlan said:”That item! That thing…. I almost list my life for it and now it is gone. I wish I was dead.”

    Xiao Yu’er asked:”Didn’t you say that you did not have it?”

    Tie Xinlan was weeping and said:”I lied to you.”

    Xiao Yu’er sighed:”Who told you to lie to me? Now, you’ve done it. I just chucked it away and I don’t remember where I threw it away.”

    Tie Xinlan fell on the bed and could not move anymore, she stuttered:”Everything is gone now….”

    Xiao Yu’er smiled:”It is just a piece of wrinkled, old paper. What is the fuss about it? Don’t let the anxiety make you ill again.”

    Tie Xinlan immediately got up and asked:”How did you know it is a piece of paper?”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”If you’re talking about that piece of paper, I already took it out of your boots. Not only is it old and wrinkle, it is smelly too. It smells like sweat.”

    Tie Xinlan threw herself into his arms and hit him on the chest, she smiled and yelled:”You’re horrible! Why did you trick me?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”You lied to me first. I already guessed that it was hidden in your boots. But, I never thought you would hide it there, you are quite clever.”

    Tie Xinlan said:”You’re the clever one, nothing can deceive you. You really scared the living daylights out of me.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Are you not afraid now? I have the map now.”

    Tie Xinlan lowered her head and said:”Why should I be afraid when it is in your possession?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Are you not afraid I won’t return it to you?”

    Tie Xinlan said:”I am not afraid.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Alright, I am not giving it back.”

    Tie Xinlan said gently:”I am giving it to you.”

    Xiao Yu’er looked at her with surprise and said:”But you were willing to die for it than seeing other people take it”

    Tie Xinlan said:”You’re different from the rest.”

    Xiao Yu’er did not understand why, but he felt happy and a sweet feeling overwhelmed him.

    But immediately he convinced himself: [Jiang Yu, be careful! This sweet feeling is dangerous.]

    He wanted to push her away, but he could not bear to do that.

    Tie Xinlan slowly asked:”Where did you go earlier?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Outside and I saw someone.”

    Tie Xinlan asked:”Who?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”You know her too, unfortunately I know her too.”

    Tie Xinlan exclaimed with fear:”Zhang Qing?”

    Xiao Yu’er nodded and said:”Yes, it’s her.”

    Tie Xinlan said with a trembling voice:”Where is she now?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Open the window and you might see her.”

    Tie Xinlan felt cold all over and said:”She…she is outside. How can you joke at a time like this?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Even if she stood in front of me I would still joke.”

    Tie Xinlan bit her lip and said:”You….What shall we do?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Now, the only thing we can do is run. We….”

    Before he could finish, he heard a loud voice yelling:”Open up! When we tell you to open the door, you should open! Don’t ask questions about what we want!”
    With that they heard a door being kicked open.

    Xiao Yu’er sighed:”We can’t run anymore.”

    Tie Xinlan looked pale and said in high voice:”It seems Zhang Qing is going to search every room. She must have found out that we were staying in the area. But they have not found us yet, let us run while we still can.”

    She pulled Xiao Yu’er arm and wanted to jump out of the window.

    Xiao Yu’er shook his head and said:”That won’t work, they will immediately know it is us. Zhang Qing will come after us and we can’t escape from her.”

    Tie Xinlan broke out in a cold sweat and said:”What can we do?”

    Xiao Yu’er smiled:”Don’t worry, I have a plan.”

    Suddenly they heard a female voice shouting:”Get out! Get out now! How dare you barge in without knocking!”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Perhaps that woman was taking a bath.”

    He was not anxious at all, he was chuckling and too out small old bag.

    Tie Xinlan asked:”What is that?”

    Xiao Yu’er answered:”One of my treasures, I stole this from someone with someone with the surname Du.”

    He took out a pack of things; sticky, soft. It looked like a combination of dried bean curd and human skin.

    Tie Xinlan looked at it and suddenly said:”Is it human skin?”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Good eyesight!”

    He took out two pieces gently and said:”Take off your outer clothes, stuff them anywhere. And then put on this mantle….Good, now come here with your face.”

    She close her eyes and felt her face was cool and her body got goose bumps all over. When she opened her eyes, Xiao Yu’er face had changed too.

    He had wrinkles all over his face but he did not have a beard.

    Tie Xinlan could not help herself but to laugh softly:”You really are something. You turned into a short old man.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”A short old man and an old woman.”

    The footsteps and voices were nearing their room.

    Xiao Yu’er was not flustered and took out a beard from the bag and attached it on his mouth. He took a bottle of silver powder and sprinkled on the hair of Tie Xinlan. Both of them had greyish hair, Xiao Yu’er then took out some pens of different sizes and began to draw something on Tie Xinlan’s face.

    The footsteps were getting very close now; they were almost at their door.

    Tie Xinlan was feeling cold and her limbs were weak.

    Xiao Yu’er remained calm and kept saying softly:”Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid. My art of disguise is not perfect yet, but it is sufficient to deceive them.”

    Now, the footsteps could be heard outside their door.

    Xiao Yu’er cleaned everything up in a go and held Tie Xinlan’s arm and said:”We’re leaving now. We’re going to through the main door.”

    Tie Xinlan exclaimed with fear:”The main door?”

    But her voice had gone hoarse now; Xiao Yu’er calmly opened the door.

    In front of them stood the men with the red and swollen cheeks, they had just arrived at their door. Zhang Qing stood behind them in her fiery red dress.

    Xiao Yu’er did not lift his head and said:”Sirs, please make way. My wife has eaten something wrong and is terribly ill. If we don’t see a physician soon, I am afraid she will die.”

    His voice sounded old and hoarse, he sounded like an old, anxious man. Tie Xinlan was trembling and looked like a sickly old woman.

    All the men made way at once, they were afraid to infected by the old woman. The man with pimples covered his nose and frowned:”Suddenly falling ill in the 6th Month, it must be malaria. Why else would she tremble in cold?”

    Xiao Yu’er sighed and walked slowly through them. Tie Xinlan almost fainted, she wished she had wings and could fly off now. She did not understand how Xiao Yu’er was able to keep calm at such a time.

    When they finally passed Zhang Qing and were in the main courtyard, Zhang Qing carefully looked at them. It seems that she was not suspicious for a bit.
    However, after a few more steps, they heard a clang sound. Zhang Qing drew a sabre from one of the men and hacked at the head of Xiao Yu’er.

    Tie Xinlan was so shocked that she went numb, but Xiao Yu’er did notice that hack. He allowed it the sabre to reach his head and the possibility that his head could be split into two. He continued to walk slowly through the courtyard. The sabre halted a few centimetres from his head.

    All those men sighed with relief and thought: [The little wretch is very paranoid, she even wanted to kill an old harmless man.]

    Xiao Yu’er seemed to be unaware of everything, when he reached the stables he pulled out his disguised horse and stuttered:”I can’t leave you even if the old woman has fallen ill.”

    Tie Xinlan was so tensed and her sight was blurred, her clothes were soaked with sweat. She wanted to pinch Xiao Yu’re very hard, for even going to get the horse instead of running off.

    Now, Xiao Yu’er and Tie Xinlan were on the main street. Tie Xinlan still did not realize how they escaped, it was like a dream. She let Xiao Yu’er help her mount the horse and Xiao Yu’er was stilling pulling the reins and slowly pulled the horse along.

    Tie Xinlan said anxiously:”Please, I beg of you. Let us leave as fast as possible.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”No, we can’t do that. They might still be watching us. If we run, we will be uncovered. Look at this beautiful night, let us enjoy the scenery. It is most idyllic.”

    Tie Xinlan sighed deeply; she was totally bemused by Xiao Yu’er. He wanted to enjoy the lovely night scenery now, it seemed there was no end to the street.

    They reached the outskirts; they had left the lights of the lamps behind them.

    Tie Xinlan sighed deeply and smiled wryly:”You…You…. I can never guess what is going on in your heart.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Heart? I don’t have a heart. I have everything else, but I don‘t have a heart.”

    Tie Xinlan bit her lip and smiled at him:”But when she did not stop that hack, you would be dead by now.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”I knew al along that she only used that sabre to test me. If she really saw through my disguise, she would have drawn her own weapon and attacked me.”

    Tie Xinlan sighed:”You’re right. You are really remarkable that you can think of that in such a dire situation. Are you never afraid?”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Do you think I am not afraid? Let me tell you something, I am very afraid of dying. I think only madmen are not afraid of death.”

    Tie Xinlan smiled sweetly:”Where are we going now?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”We can go anywhere, no one recognizes us. However, you’re still ill….”

    Tie Xinlan smiled:”I broke out in a sweat when I was scared by them earlier. I think I am better now; I have some strength in my limbs now. Strange, isn’t it?”

    Xiao Yu’er asked:”Can you walk?”

    Tie Xinlan said:”Yes, I can. If you don’t believe me I can dismount and walk a bit for you.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Very well, dismount. Because I have to go now.”

    Tie Xinlan’s body shook and exclaimed:”What are you saying?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”We already parted earlier, didn’t we? It was because you were ill, I had to take care of you. Now you’re better, we should go our separate ways.”

    Tie Xinlan’s face turned pale, even paler and scarier when she heard Zhang Qing came. She started to tremble again and tears welled up in her eyes, she screamed:”Are you…are you going to leave? Really….”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Of course. You already gave me the map and I saved your life. We’re even now.”

    Tie Xinlan was crying and bit her lip:”Haven’t you got a heart? Have you really lost it? Did wild dogs ate your heart when you were young?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Yes, you’re right.”

    Tie Xinlan said:”You….You….”

    She raised her hand and slapped him very hard.

    Xiao Yu’er did not dodge and looked at her, he said casually:”Fortunately, my heart was eaten by wild dogs. I should thank those dogs, if the hearts of men are captured by women they will suffer a fate worse than death.”

    Tie Xinlan was weeping bitterly and fell down from the horse, she continued to cry:”You’re not a human! You’re awful!…”

    Xiao Yu’er pulled her up and smiled:”Goodbye! It does not matter whether I am a human or not. At least I am not an idiot who will be moved by women’s tears.”

    A cold voice from behind said:”You’re not an idiot, you’re very intelligent. Perhaps a bit too intelligent.”

    The voice sounded both cold and beautiful, it was the voice of the Little Fairy, Zhang Qing.

    Tie Xinlan immediately stopped crying, Xiao Yu’er trembled for a moment. But he did not turn around, he just sighed:”My good wife, why are you crying? You won’t die, let us see the physician first, if we’re too slow he close up.”

    Zhang Qing coldly said:”Are you finished? Yes, your disguise is excellent. But it is too late for you to find a doctor, no doctor in this world can save you know.”

    Xiao Yu’er stood there, not moving, Tie Xinlan did not move either.

    Zhang Qing asked:”What do you have to say?”

    Xiao Yu’er suddenly turned around and laughed:”Very good! I saw through my disguise, but how did you do that? Could you tell me?”

    Zhang Qing sneered:”When I hacked at you, even if a deaf man can hear the whooshing sound of the blade. If you really were an old feeble man, you would roll on the ground out of fear. It was improbable for an ordinary old man to walk away that casually.”

    Xiao Yu’er tilted his head and thought for a moment, he sighed:”You’re right! You’re smart too, smarter than I thought.”

    Zhang Qing said:”You found that out a bit too late.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Don’t be conceited either! I deceived you at least for a while. You found out a bit too late too, if I wasn’t dragged behind I would have been gone a long time ago. And you would not have the chance to catch up with me now.”

    Zhang Qing was not angered and scoffed:”If you are really that clever, you would be able to think of a plan to escape. If you can’t, your head is useless and you might as well cut if off.”

    Xiao Yu’er chortled:”Why should I think of a plan? Do you really think I can’t defeat you? I was just lazy to fight you earlier on. People say that men should not fight with women, I….”

    Before he could finish, Zhang Qing’s palm was almost in his face. It was a normal palm technique, but it was very fast. Incredibly fast, if you did not see it you won’t even believe that someone could be that swift.

    Xiao Yu’er was watching her as he spoke, being on guard. But he could not avoid that palm, he twisted his body but he was still hit. Three fingertips hit him on the face and left three red imprints.

    Zhang Qing had attacked now with her second stance.

    Xiao Yu’er shouted:“Stop! Good men should not fight with women! Stop!”

    Zhang Qing ignored his shouts, she hated to awful boy. Her face was white and in a matter of moments, she attacked him with 20, 30 stances.

    Xiao Yu’er could not see the brilliance of her stances; Xiao Yu’er could easily every attacking technique.

    But when her technique actually came, Xiao Yu’er had to avoid that attack most awkwardly. He changed a dozen movements, even groping the chest of the opponent. But he noticed that he could not retaliate in time. Every time he wanted to retaliate, Zhang Qing’s new stance had already come. With great difficulty he could avoid the attack, and when he wanted to counter-attack her third attack had begun. It was simply dodging and avoiding for Xiao Yu’er.

    Tie Xinlan looked at the fight and all she saw was red flashy figure moving about. She could not see the stances, moves of Zhang Qing; she could only see a pair of hands that looked like a white line.

    That while line zigzagged through that red flashy figure like a whip. Xiao Yu’er was dodging every whiplash, but wherever he went the whip would follow closely.
    Tie Xinlan could not see the brilliance of her techniques either; she had never seen such fast stances in her life. It was like a demon or a ghost was guiding the hands of Zhang Qing.

    Xiao Yu’er felt that Zhang Qing had a dozen hands; whenever he avoided one hand another hand would follow.

    In the end Xiao Yu could only see the white, flashy palm figures of her, he was feeling dizzy and shouted:“Stop! I poisoned you! You…”

    He wanted to use this old trick again, but Zhang Qing did not even listen. Tie Xinlan was very anxious and became paler and paler, but she was still too weak to help and fight.

    Xiao Yu’er was sweating heavily and said:“Don’t you believe it? Do you have any idea how powerful my poison is?”

    Zhang Qing scoffed:”No one is capable of using poison when fighting with me! Especially, a little brat like you. You can’t trick me!”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”I am not lying, I….”

    He suffered a hit on his face and flew away; he landed 2 metres away and rolled on the ground.

    Tie Xinlan screamed:“Xiao Yu’er! Are you….”? Xiao Yu’er jumped up and wiped away the blood from the corners of his mouth, he grinned:”Don’t worry, she can’t kill me. As long as she is incapable of killing me, I have a chance to defeat her.”

    Zhang Qing laughed coldly:”I would like to see how tough your body really is.”

    With that she stormed forward and attacked with another seven stances.

    Her stances were not exquisite nor were they vicious, but she was too fast for words. She did not give people the chance to recover. If her opponents cannot fight back, how can they defeat her?

    Xiao Yu’er gritted his teeth, he was decided to be ruthless. No matter what, he had to hit her twice.
    He saw a flaw in her palm techniques and decided to attack relentlessly.

    But when he attacked, Zhang Qing had already covered up her flaw. His attack was only launched and already he suffered a palm in his stomach.

    Tie Xinlan shouted sadly:”Stop, please stop! Just give her the map!”

    Xiao Yu’er made two somersaults and jumped up again. His face hurt very much, but he gritted his teeth and laughed:”She will have to kill me first in order to….”

    Zhang Qing angrily said:“Do you really think I can’t kill you?”

    And she attacked with another five, six stances.

    This time Xiao Yu’er would not allow himself to be hit, he changed strategy again. Forego attack, concentrate on the defence. He twirled his pair of small fists hoping it would block all coming attacks.

    But Zhang Qing was able to punch through his defensive stances.

    Stance after stance, like she was using an axe to chop wood, and finally she managed to chop her away through his defences.

    Tie Xinlan called out:”Watch out!”

    But Xiao Yu’er flew up again and rolled on the ground.

    Tie Xinlan pleaded:”Stop! I beg of you, you can’t defeat her. She is too fast.”

    But Xiao Yu’er stood up again and had a painful smile on his face and said:”Because she is too fast, she can’t kill me. If she is fast, she can’t use too much force. Don’t you understand?”

    Zhang Qing’s face changed, she did not thought that this little brat would be that brave. He could still stand up, she knew herself that her palms were quite powerful.
    Anyone else would be dead or seriously wounded after three palms, but this brat was able to get up and ready to fight again.

    Zhang Qing bit her lip and said:”I know your body is tough, but let’s see how many attacks you can still endure.”

    Her attacks became faster and faster, Xiao Yu’er stances became slower and slower. He fell and got, he fell and got up again….

    Tie Xinlan with tears flowing from her eyes and pleaded:”Little Fairy, please spare him. He can’t take anymore.”

    Xiao Yu’er shouted:”Shut up! She hit me seven times, I have to hit her back seven times too.”

    Zhang Qing scoffed:”You’re dreaming.”

    He jumped up for the seventh time, but soon he fell down again. However, he would crawl up every time he was thrown on the ground.

    Zhang Qing looked at him, her facial expression was very strange. It looked like she was angry, hatred, pity or even pain.

    She coldly said:”If you admit defeat, I will spare you.”

    Xiao Yu’er said loudly:”Rubbish! Who needs to be spared by you? I want you to beg to me, I want to tear your clothes to shreds and hang you on a tree and hit you severely.”

    He staggered somewhat before standing again.

    Zhang Qing stormed over and kicked him down, Xiao Yu’er rolled over the ground.

    Tie Xinlan closed her eyes; she could not watch it anymore. Her heart was broken; she did not know why she would care so much for this hated enemy.

    Xiao Yu’er was panting on the ground and could not move anymore.

    Zhang Qing’s chest moved up and down, she was breathing heavily too. She panted:”Little brat! You, rascal! You, little demon! Can you still stand up now? Can you still fight?”

    Xiao Yu’er clutched the grass and slowly crawled up, he said with a shaky voice:”You’re the brat, rascal! You’re a thug….a thug!”

    Zhang Qing angrily shouted:”How dare you to insult me!”

    She rushed over and kicked Xiao Yu’er again, sending him rolling again. Tie Xinlan shouted:”You’re ruthless! How can you hit someone who is down.”?

    Zhang Qing said hatefully:”It is his own fault, he should not have insulted me.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”I love to insult you! You’re a thief, you kill for riches! You’re a ruthless thug, you’re not a fairy you’re a shrew!”

    His voice was very weak but he kept swearing at her. Zhang Qing was trembling with anger; she put a foot on his chest and said:”Continue to swear! Go on! I will make sure you will never be able to swear again. I didn’t want to kill you, but you’ve forced me to do this….”

    She gritted her teeth and was about to strike out her palm, Tie Xinlan screamed with fear and crawled over. But at this point Xiao Yu’er held embraced Zhang Qing’s legs. He did not know where he got the strength, but he held her slender body up now and kicked her in the waist. Zhang Qing did not expect a dying person capable of fighting. Her legs felt numb and her head span, before she understood what went on she was kicked in the waist and fell on the ground.

    Xiao Yu’er immediately dropped himself on her and quickly sealed all major her acupoints. Tie Xinlan was surprised and happy, she said with a shaky voice:”Xiao Yu’er, what just happened?”

    Xiao Yu’er panted and laughed:”I told you before, she can’t kill me….I bathed in herbal medicinal water when I was a child. When other children drank milk, I was drinking herbal soups instead. Even people who use ten times more force than her can’t keep me down from getting up.”

    Tie Xinlan said:”But you were…..earlier….”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”I was putting up a show, hoping she would drop her guard. I deliberately sweat at her, making her mad. When she is fuming with anger, I will have the last laugh.”

    Tie Xinlan broke out in tears of happiness but was still a bit worried, she asked:”Are you alright?”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”I am tougher than iron and bronze. How can she injure me with those white delicate hands of her? Her fists feel like cotton.”

    Although it was cotton, it must have been heavy cotton. He felt pain almost everywhere, every bone felt dislocated.

    He looked resentfully at Zhang Qing and said:” What do you have to say now?”

    Zhang Qing kept her mouth shut, but tears welled up in her eyes.

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Tears won’t do you any good. I have said that I will return the blows you dealt on me…..”

    With that he dealt a blow at her, in one go he used his fists to deal four blows. Four heavy blows.

    Zhang Qing closed her eyes and gritted her teeth, she did not make a sound.

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Beg and I might forget a few blows.”

    Zhang Qing shouted:”You despicable fiend! Kill me!”

    Xiao Yu’er slapped her face. Tie Xinlan pleaded:”Let her be.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Let her be? Why should I spare her? Did she show mercy earlier? I said I would tear her clothes to pieces and hang her on a tree…..”

    Zhang Qing yelled:”You dare?!? If you do that, I will come back to haunt you even when I am dead.”

    Xiao Yu’er grinned:”I was not afraid of you when you were alive, why should I fear you when you’re dead.”

    He pulled her up by her hair and he slapped her four times in her face. He laughed:”Now, we are even. The interest will follow in awhile.”

    Tears ran from Zhang Qing’s cheeks, she said:”You’re ruthless…..”

    Xiao Yu’er said with indignation:”Me, ruthless? Aren’t you ruthless too? You perceive what others do to you as ruthless. But, have you forgotten how merciless you are when you’re dealing with your adversaries.”

    He was getting angrier with every word he said, he tore her clothes apart revealing her white shoulders.

    She shouted:”Demon, monster! Bastard………..!”

    She cursed with every word she thought of.

    Xiao Yu’er just grinned and listened, he shook his head and said:”If you knew how to swear, I might even listen and be amused. But your cursing methods are really crude, I see no other alternative but to shut you up.”

    He took some mud from the ground and wanted to stuff it into her mouth.

    Zhang Qing now showed signs of fear and wept:”Please, spare me….Please, spare me….”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Good, you finally know to beg for forgiveness. Don’t you forget that.”

    Zhang Qing wept bitterly, she was still a girl. She was still very young and for the first time in her life she knew how it felt when you’re bullied and she finally knew fear.

    Xiao Yu’er laughed and threw her on the ground, he said:”Good, I will spare you.”

    He did not look at Zhang Qing again; he turned around and helped Tie Xinlan up. He whistled and yelled:”White Cabbage, White Cabbage….”

    That white horse really liked him and came immediately.

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”White Cabbage, sorry to trouble you but you have to take us both on your backs. If we have put some distance, I will let you rest a very long time and let you drink.”

    He helped Tie Xinlan mount the horse and he leapt up too, although the horse was small he was quite strong. It neighed and galloped forward.

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Little Fairy, goodbye! I hope we will never meet again.”

    With that he left, leaving behind a Little Fairy who could not move and was just lying there on the ground. The only thing she could do was cry, but Xiao Yu’er did not hear that.

    They sat closely together; Tie Xinlan felt her body was light and soft. She thought she was floating in the clouds and would not move nor talk.

    After some time, they could not hear the crying of the Little Fairy anymore.

    Tie Xinlan sighed softly:”You are really the bane of the Little Fairy.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”It’s her bad luck that she should run into me.”

    Tie Xinlan remained quiet for a while, she said casually:”I did not expect that you could fight that fiercely and savage. You were totally oblivious to death….”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed loudly:”I may be a rascal, but I am definitely not a coward. You can expect a lot from me, but don’t expect me to beg for my life.”

    Tie Xinlan smiled sweetly and said gently:”You’re right, you may be a rascal but you are a real man.”

    After another long silent moment, Tie Xinlan said:”Do you know why Zhang Qing is after the treasure map?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”She is probably greedy.”

    Tie Xinlan said:”You’re wrong there, she might be cruel but she is not an evil person.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”She doesn’t look like a good one either. A good person tried to kill you, but an evil person saved your life. That is very strange.”

    Tie Xinlan said:”I am serious now. She wants the treasure map, because her mother has a very close relationship to the owner of the treasure.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Hmm, she is quite fierce, her mother was be an old shrew.”

    Tie Xinlan smiled:”Her mother is not an old shrew at all, she was once a beautiful maiden in the realm. Any men who saw her would be mesmerized by her.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”I would like to meet someone like that.”

    Tie Xinlan bit her lip and said:”If you were born at least ten years earlier you might have seen her when she was young. She is old now but the elder generation of the realm will still be flustered when they hear the name of the [Jade Maiden] Zhang Sanniang.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Why didn’t you say that she was born ten years too early, and could not have met me? Who is the father of Zhang Qing?”

    Tie Xinlan said:”This….I don’t know.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”True! The children of a beautiful woman have a lot of missing fathers. One of the reasons could be that there are too many possible fathers in the game.”

    Tie Xinlan laughed when she heard this and continued:”Don’t be that rude. That Jade Maiden was very pretty but she was a cold and strict woman. She attracted a lot of suitors, but she did not even look at them. She only had eyes for one.”

    Xiao Yu’er asked:”Who is the lucky man?”

    Tie Xinlan said:”The owner of the treasure, Yan Nantian.”

    Xiao Yu’er’s body shook and exclaimed:”Yan Nantian?”

    Tie Xinlan asked:”Have you heard of this name before?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”I…I think I’ve heard it once, but I can’t remember.”

    Tie Xinlan said:”When you’ve heard this name, you should not forget it. He was the most famous swordsman of the realm, even till now nobody can match his swordsmanship.”

    Xiao Yu’er only said:”Hmm.”

    Tie Xinlan said slowly:”Although he was not very handsome, he really looked heroic and valiant. Unfortunately I was born too late too, so I will never have the chance to meet him.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Do you want my help to look for him?”

    Tie Xinlan sighed:”You can’t find him anymore, no one can. According to the stories of the realm, he entered the Valley of Evil for some reason more than ten years ago and never came back. His swordplay might be invincible, but there are so many evil men in there. How could he survive?”

    Xiao Yu’er stayed silent for some time, he just said:”Hmm.”

    Tie Xinlan said:”It is said that before he entered the valley, he knew he would not survive. So that is why he hid his numerous treasures and his manual of invincible swordsmanship in secret place. Without the map, you can’t find it.”

    Xiao Yu’er nodded his head in agreement:”Those riches are not the driving factor, but that manual is. Whoever obtains that manual can become invincible. No wonder so many people want to claim it.”

    Tie Xinlan said:”The Little Fairy does not want the manual, she just wants to comfort her mother….”

    She turned around and she swiftly glanced at the ground, her entire body shook and exclaimed:”Did you…Did you see that? This….”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”I have noticed that some time ago, there is an extra shadow.”

    If you looked at the ground, you would notice there was an extra shadow. It seems that someone was standing on the rear of the horse. But the horse continued to gallop forward, totally oblivious to the extra passenger.

    Xiao Yu’er stayed calm, but Tie Xinlan was flustered. She held on to a hand of Xiao Yu’er. She pulled the reins of the horse, the horse neighed and Tie Xinlan almost fell down.

    The voice said coldly:”Why are you afraid? If I really wanted to kill you, you would be dead by now.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”I was afraid, I would have leapt off the horse by now.”

    The voice laughed too:”You’re a funny person. I immediately saw that you are an interesting person, I came here to make friends.”

    The voice sounded clear but hoarse, you could say that his voice sounded metallic and cold. However, you could hear that the voice belonged to a young man.” Tie Xinlan was afraid; she looked around and saw a short but skinny person dressed in black. He stood there like he was glued to the horse nevertheless he seem to be able to float away at any time.

    He wore tight shining clothes and he had used a black mask to cover his face. You could only see his pair of eyes, his pupils were as dark as ink and his irises were as white as paper. In the night, it looked very scary whenever he blinked.

    Tie Xinlan was startled and exclaimed:”Are you the Black Spider?”

    That strange person laughed:”Yes, I am. I am surprised that you recognize me.”

    Tie Xinlan said:”Why…Why are you here?”

    The Black Spider said:”I am not here because of you, when I saw that boy I was quite amused by him. He is even more interesting than the treasure map, I want to make friends so I have to forget about the map.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”I never imagined that I would be more important than a treasure map. I want to make friends with you too. Black Spider, what is your real name?”

    The Black Spider coldly said:”You are really ill-informed, almost everyone in the realm has heard of me. How can you roam the realm if you do not have sufficient information.”

    Xiao Yu’er asked:”When did you start to follow us?”

    The Black Spider said:”When I saw you colouring your own horse.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”That is strange, why didn’t I see you?”

    The black spider laughed coldly:”When I want to follow someone for the rest of his life, he won’t even feel my presence. If I don’t reveal myself, no one can see my shadow.”

    Xiao Yu’er turned around to look at the Black Spider and laughed:”You look young, but you sound arrogant.”

    The Black Spider angrily said:”Who said I was young!”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”I can tell from your voice. Can’t you hear it yourself?”

    The Black Spider stayed silent for a while and grinned:”I may be young, but I am still old enough to be your uncle. I just came here to make friends and not to impose my age on you. You can call me, older brother.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Older brother? You’re shorter than me, I should be the older brother.”

    The Black Spider looked at him angrily and said:”I don’t know how many people in realm would beg for a chance to call me older brother, but I just ignore those people. I want you to call me older brother, and you are refusing.”

    Tie Xinlan gave Xiao Yu’er a look not to antagonize the Black Spider.

    Xiao Yu’er pretended not to see it and laughed:”Very good, younger brother Black Spider. You’re very capable….”

    The Black Spider angrily shouted:”What did you call me?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Younger brother, shall we go for a drink?”

    The Black Spider laughed:”You don’t know that calamity will fall upon you soon. Only I can save you, if you would call me older brother, it will be of great help to you.”

    Tie Xinlan was very anxious and could strangle Xiao Yu’er now, how hard can it be just call him [older brother] and be done with it? However, Xiao Yu’er grinned:”Younger brother, what can I trouble will I run into? Tell me a bit about it.”

    The Black Spider looked at him for some time and scoffed:”Fine, I wanted to help you but since you want to be the older brother I will have nothing to do with you anymore.”

    With that he waved his hand, in the moonlight you could see a silver line of some sort shooting out of his sleeve.

    Xiao Yu’er wanted to see what that was, but when he blinked his eyes the Black Spider shook his hand and flew away.

    And then he disappeared and his silver line too.

    Xiao Yu’er was a bit stunned and sighed:”No wonder he sounded arrogant, his lightness martial arts is quite good.”

    Tie Xinlan sighed:”Not just quite good, his personal secretive lightness martial arts [The Flying Celestial Spider] is unmatched in the realm.”

    Xiao Yu’er asked:”What is so special about this skill?”

    Tie Xinlan said:”He has hidden some special lanyard made from the silk spun by a thousand year old rare spider in Nanhai. It is very strong, not even swords and sabres can sever it. The lanyard is put in a mechanized tube, when he waves his hand the lanyard will shoot out. It can reach about 40 metres and at the end of the cord there is a sharp silver needle that can puncture anything. He will go with the line and that is why he is so swift, he also makes him very secretive.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”He is not only strange and funny, but his martial arts are funny and strange too. But I wonder how old he really is, why is he so fixated on being other people’s seniors.”

    Tie Xinlan said:”No one has ever seen his real face and nobody knows his true age. He hates when people call him young. Whoever makes that mistake will suffer dearly.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Why am I not suffering?”

    Tie Xinlan laughed sweetly:”That is strange, he really likes you. If not he might have cut out your tongue for calling him younger brother.”

    After laughing some time, she sighed:”But he never lies, so there could be trouble ahead. I am afraid that we will really have a calamity at our hands.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Don’t listen to him! How many calamities could there be?”

    His voice became softer and softer, almost like a whisper. He looked at the rear of the horse like he saw something. Tie Xinlan wanted to look too, but Xiao Yu’er said:”Let’s go!”

    Tie Xinlan asked:”What did you see?”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Nothing….Hahahaha! What could there be?”

    Tie Xinlan lowered her head and stayed quiet, she then said sadly:”Every time you laugh, you are lying.”

    Xiao Yu’er was a bit taken back, he laughed:”You saw through me, I took up this bad habit from one of my guardians. I can’t shake this habit.”

    Tie Xinlan did not know that the guardian Xiao Yu’er mentioned was the ever-lying Ha Ha’er. She did not want to ask, she only anxiously asked:”What did you see?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Nothing special, there is no need for you to look too.”

    Tie Xinlan laughed:”I know you don’t want me to worry. But if you won’t let me have a look I will be even more worried.”

    Xiao Yu’er smiled wryly and shook his head:”Women…Women… Well, have a look.”

    Someone managed to print a small snake figure on the croup. The snake figure was printed on with blue ink; under the moonlight it looked greenish and ugly. It looked like it could move and was about to bite.

    Xiao Yu’er knew it could not move, but he felt uneasy when he saw it. He got goose bumps all over.

    Tie Xinlan’s face changed and stuttered with fear:”Snake….The Blue phosphorous snake….The spirit of Qinghai…..The Deer Eating Celestial Lord….”

    Xiao Yu’er blinked his eyes and laughed:”What are you saying?”

    Tie Xinlan was pale again and said with a trembling voice:”You don’t understand….you don’t understand…”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Just a little snake, what is all the fuss about?”

    Tie Xinlan said:”This is a great disaster!”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Why?”

    Tie Xinlan took a deep breath and said:”The blue phosphorous snake is the sign of the spirit of Qinghai, the deer eating celestial lord. If you can see his symbol that means his is in the area. With him around, disaster will come.”

    Xiao Yu’er frowned:”What is this dear eating celestial lord?”

    Tie Xinlan asked:”Have you ever heard of the 12 Zodiacs?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”I think so, but I am not sure.”

    Tie Xinlan said:”The 12 Zodiacs are the most diabolical, evil and ruthless robbers of the realm for the last 30 years. Normally, they keep a low profile. But when they have their sights on something or someone, no one and nothing can escape them. In the past 30 years, they only failed once.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”That snake is one of the 12 Zodiacs.”

    Tie Xinlan said:”Yes, that deer eating celestial lord is the most vicious and diabolical one of the 12 zodiacs. He always dwells near Qinghai. I should have guessed that he would want me and my map.”

    Xiao Yu’er asked:”Why do you say that?”

    Tie Xinlan said:”The only time the 12 Zodiacs failed was when they encountered Yan Nantian. How can they not want to have the treasure and manual of Yan Nantian.”?

    Xiao Yu’er blinked his eyes and smiled:”You’re very knowledgeable for your age.”

    Tie Xinlan said sadly:”I had to roam about on my own when I was very young. It is not strange that I would know a bit more about the realm. When you start to roam the realm, you will learn these things too.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”The more you know, the more you fear. Ignorance is a bliss, no matter who we encounter we will fight him with everything we have.”

    Tie Xinlan smiled:”But we already know now, what shall we do now?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Since we can’t overcome him, we might as well run.”

    Tie Xinlan muttered:”Run? Where can we run to?”

    The end of chapter 7

  9. #9
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
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    Chapter 8 The Azure Serpent Lord

    They both rode the same horse; they were travelling intensively and were sweating heavily washing away their disguises.

    The white horse was foaming at the mouth; Xiao Yu’er took a handkerchief to wipe away the foam. He patted him and said softly:”White Cabbage, I am very sorry. But we have no choice….”

    Tie Xinlan looked at him and suddenly smiled:”Strange, you are nicer to the horse than to humans.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”That is because the horse is nicer to me than anyone else.”

    Tie Xinlan sighed and said sadly:”Who is unkind to you? I…”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Are you kind to me? If I can’t walk, will you carry me on your back and walk several kilometres? When I am feeling down, can you keep quiet and let me be?”

    Tie Xinlan was a bit taken by that and smiled wryly:”Why are your words also so be perplexing?”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”That is why I am inferior to a horse too. If you’re really good to a horse, it won’t abandon you. And it won’t say things to make you uncomfortable.”

    Tie Xinlan bit her lip and really wanted to bite Xiao Yu’er.

    Up ahead was a small mountain village; they could only vaguely see houses. However, they could see the smoke emitting from the kitchen chimneys.

    The greying green smoke blended in beautifully with the blue sky, it looked like a beautiful painting. No artist could paint should a wonderful scene.

    Tie Xinlan smiled:”Look at the smoke….”

    Xiao Yu’er interrupted:”It looks dirty, what is so nice about it?”

    Tie Xinlan said:”Can’t you see the beauty of it?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”The only good I see in that some is that up ahead we can get something to eat.”

    They were near the borders of Qinghai and Sichuan; there are more Han Chinese here.

    They saw an old man standing outside a house, and smoke a pipe. He looked at the sky and muttered:”It looks like a sunny day today, I will put the cotton blankets in the sun.”

    Xiao Yu’er dismounted and walked over, he smiled:”Old sir, can we have something to drink and to eat? My sister and me are quite hungry.”

    The old man looked at him and Tie Xinlan for a while and laughed:”You’re very polite, young master. If you don’t find my house too dirty, please come in.”

    Xiao Yu’er smiled and thanked him; he helped Tie Xinlan dismount and said quietly:”These peasant people can be quite friendly.”

    Tie Xinlan smiled:”How can they not be after seeing a lovable and polite young boy like you.”

    She blushed when she said this.

    Xiao Yu’er laughed when he saw her reed cheeks:”Maybe, he saw that you are a pretty young girl. He may be old but he is not blind.”

    Tie Xinlan smiled sweetly and put her hand on his shoulder and they entered the house of the old man.

    The old man had cleaned the table and put two bowls and two pair of chopsticks, he smiled:”Please wait, I will see if my wife is done with cooking.”

    When he entered, Tie Xinlan and Xiao Yu’er could smell the fragrant rice scent. Xiao Yu’er’s stomach rumbled and eagerly looked at the door of the kitchen. They just heard some clanging noises from the kitchen.

    An old woman finally came out of the kitchen with two big bowls of coarse rice with some salted vegetables and meat in her hands.

    She limped over the table and put the food down, she bended her waist and smiled:”Please eat first. Don’t be polite, don’t let the rice get cold.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Alright, we will.”

    He did not wait till the old woman left the room; he took a pair of chopsticks and was about to eat. Suddenly, he heard a clang sound, Tie Xinlan had just picked up a bowl of rice put it down again and said:”Very hot.”

    Xiao Yu’er immediately used his chopsticks hit Tie Xinlan’s hand and she dropped her chopsticks. She looked at him surprised and asked:”Why did you do that?”

    Xiao Yu’er did not speak; he emptied the bowls of rice on the table. The dry and coarse rice filled the table, but a small green snake was crawling through the rice.
    Tie Xinlan exclaimed with fear:”Snake…..The 12 Zodiacs!”

    Xiao Yu’er stormed into the kitchen, Tie Xinlan followed closely. They saw the old man lying on the ground, his face was all black. An old woman lied on the ground next to the furnace, her face had a green, black colour. But her hair was black; she did not look like the woman who brought the food.

    The old woman with white hair was gone.

    Tie Xinlan said in a trembling voice:”Utterly ruthless…..How very dangerous.”

    Xiao Yu’er gritted his teeth and said bitterly:”These people are ten times more evil than I am. How can they just kill two poor elderly people like that!”

    Tie Xinlan said:”I knew we could not escape.”

    Xiao Yu’er took out an ingot of gold and threw it on the ground, he took up a piece of charcoal and wrote on the wall: [Bury these two properly, or else I will come back for your life.]

    Suddenly the white horse neighed frantically; Xiao Yu’er stormed outside and saw a snake crawling up the shank. The tore off a piece of his robe and brushed off the snake and stamped it to death. He stroked the manes and said:”White Cabbage, don’t be afraid! Those evil people can’t harm you and can’t harm me either.”
    She pulled Tie Xinlan up and rode off as soon as possible.

    The white horse knew there was danger around and really galloped very hard, in a few moments they ran passed the mountain village.

    Tie Xinlan was still trembling and muttered:”That was very dangerous, if we took half a bite we would be dead now.” Xiao Yu’er laughed:”But we are still alive.”

    Tie Xinlan asked:”How did you find out?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”When you lifted the bowl you immediately put it down again, because it was hot. But that old woman held the bowls in her hands with no pain at all, she must have learnt some sort of poisonous sand palms or such.”

    Tie Xinlan said:”Nothing can deceive your eyes.”

    Up ahead was a carpet of green grass, but on further examination that carpet of grass could move, a hundred green small snakes.

    Tie Xinlan shrieked, Xiao Yu’er directed the horse to head towards another path, this path was smaller and narrower, and it was a forest path.

    Xiao Yu’er had never travelled through on such a clean and picturesque road before, he was a bit suspicious. Unexpectedly, a snake hung upside down from a tree, it was a big azure coloured snake and its’ body was as thick as the arm of Tie Xinlan. It hung in front of Tie Xinlan, the horse was startled and Tie Xinlan screamed.

    Xiao Yu’er yelled:”Don’t be afraid! Catching snakes and hitting dogs are my specialties.”

    He swiftly seized the snake’s head and threw it against a tree. That grasp and fling was both fast and beautifully, the snake was knocked out.

    Tie Xinlan sighed with relief and said:”Luckily you’re not a woman. Most women are terrified of snakes.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Give me your dagger.”

    Tie Xinlan handed him the dagger and said:”Be careful! Don’t let the blood splatter on you.”

    Xiao Yu’er grunted, Tie Xinlan saw that Xiao Yu’er was as white as paper. He used the dagger to cut himself in the arm.

    Tie Xinlan exclaimed with shock:”What are you….”

    She could finish her sentence, because it was like someone took the air out of her lungs, she saw black blood flowing out Xiao Yu’er’s wound.

    Xiao Yu’er was very pale and shouted:”I am finally deceived once.”

    He opened his palm and drops of black blood formed. Looking at the snake, it was still stiff and motionless. Near its’ head, the snake glimmered. Tie Xinlan exclaimed with shock:”The snake was already dead, that monster hid a bendable sword in the snake and when you grabbed the snake you were cut by that poisonous blade.

    Xiao Yu’er smiled tragically:”You’re so clever, a true prodigy.”

    Tie Xinlan said:”Fortunately, you discovered it on time. You’ve released the venomous blood from your body. Are you alright now?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Fine, but after one hour I will be no more.”

    Tie Xinlan trembled and fell down the horse, she said in a shaky voice:”You’re joking?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”There is no cure for the venom, if I didn’t cut myself to release the venomous blood I would be talking to the old man we met earlier now. But now I can still live for another hour.”

    She ran into his arms and wept:”There must be a cure, you don’t know…”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”I grew up with experts in using poison, if I don’t know, nobody knows.” Even now he was smiling and feeling proud.

    Tie Xinlan said:”But you can make an antidote, right?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Yes, I can.” Tie Xinlan was very happy and said loudly:”You were teasing me again.”

    Xiao Yu’er slowly said:”It takes three months to make an antidote.” Tie Xinlan’s smile disappeared, she sat down and wept:”How can you joke at a time like this! Tell me, what can I do! Tell me!”

    She sobbed bitterly:”I hate you! You’re not human, how can you make jokes at a time like this. Don’t you know how I will feel? I hate you!”

    Xiao Yu’er ignored her; he took out the parchment and waved it in his hand, he shouted:”Stupid snake! Can you see? This is the treasure map, do you want it?”

    He shouted the same words twice, and from a tree a cold, sharp and revolting voice coldly laughed.

    That man sneered:”It will be mine sooner or later, there is no rush.”

    The man wore azure brocade; he blended in with the leaves. He was skinny and tall and he curved his body to hide in the tree, it seemed that he did not have a bone in his body. Those beady little eyes of his stared at Xiao Yu’er, he really resembled a snake, a venomous snake.

    Tie Xinlan looked up and felt numb, it was like a snake was crawling up her clothes. Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Is this map yours sooner or later?”

    That Azure Serpent Lord laughed evilly:”If you present it to me now, I spare your life.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Of course, I believe you.” Tie Xinlan screamed:”Hand it to him! We….we don’t need it anyway.”

    The Azure Serpent Lord said:”The girl is smart.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”She is smart and I am stupid.”

    He abruptly put the parchment in his mouth and began to chew on it.

    The Azure Serpent Lord slithered down from the tree and lifted Xiao Yu’er from the horse, he angrily roared:”Spit it out!”

    Xiao Yu’er allowed him to throw him down the horse and swallowed the parchment, he opened his mouth and laughed:”I can’t spit it out anymore.”

    The Azure Serpent Lord roared:”You just sealed your fate!”

    Xiao Yu’er grinned:”There is only one map in the world and I am the only one who knows the contents. If you kill me, you will never find the treasure.”

    The Azure Serpent Lord was stunned and loosened his grip.

    Xiao Yu’er said casually:”If I were you, I would present the antidote now. If I live I might be able to draw another copy of the map, a corpse cannot draw.”

    The Azure Serpent Lord looked at him madly, suddenly a sinister smile appeared on that bony face of his. He smiled evilly:”Do you really think I will be threatened by you?”

    Xiao Yu’er lifted his head and grinned:”Really.”

    The Azure Serpent Lord said slowly:”The parchment is light but strong, it must be still in your stomach in one piece. I just have to cut you open and retrieve it.”

    Xiao Yu’er kept his smile, but a chill ran through his heart. Tie Xinlan screamed:”You can’t do that! You can’t…” The Azure Serpent Lord laughed sinisterly:”Why can’t I? Just watch me.”

    He drew a bendable sword from his girdle and shook it straightening it out.

    Xiao Yu’er might be very intelligent but he could not think of plan of escape. Tie Xinlan struggled up to attack him, but she was still recovering from her illness. The Azure Serpent Lord raised his palm and struck her down in one go. He laughed evilly:”You might be specialized in hitting dogs and catching snakes, but cutting open people’s chests and stomachs are my specialities. Don’t worry, this stab won’t kill you yet.”

    Xiao Yu’er was sweating and said with a smile”Thank you!”

    The Azure Serpent Lord said:”Even if I have cut you open and retrieved the parchment, you will still be alive. I will let you die slowly and painfully.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”But you should be careful before you start. I ate the patriarch of snakes this morning and it still not digested. Do be careful that you won’t cut your own father.”

    The Azure Serpent Lord angrily shouted:”You, little dog!”

    When he was about to stab Xiao Yu’er, there was a sudden clang sound that pushed away his sword.

    Xiao Yu’er had secretly picked up the dead snake with the sword; he used it to block the blade of the Azure Serpent Lord. He raised the sword and stabbed at the Azure Serpent Lord.

    The Azure Serpent Lord gently avoided that attack, he laughed maliciously:”If you use force, the poison will only travel faster and you will only die quicker!” With that he counter-attacked and Xiao Yu’er blocked four of his stances but his arm was beginning to feel weak and could not lift his arm anymore.

    Tie Xinlan had fainted, a chill went up Xiao Yu’er’s heart.

    The Azure Serpent Lord laughed:”What other tricks do you still have?”

    He pointed his sword at the chest of Xiao Yu’er and slowly moved the tip down to the abdomen. Xiao Yu’er chest was bleeding now and laughed arrogantly:”Being cut open is such a happy event! I am lucky that I can enjoy such treatment….”

    While he was laughing, he could hear a series of clanging sounds; the sword of the Azure Serpent Lord was broken into four parts.

    He made a somersault backwards and clutched to a tree, he shouted:”Who is there!”

    A sweet and beautiful female voice said:”You should know who I am.” The voice sounded like Zhang Qing’s voice. Xiao Yu’er was happy that he was saved, but when he heard that voice his hope was gone again. There was not much difference whether he fell into the hands of the Azure Serpent Lord or Zhang Qing.

    The face of the Azure Serpent Lord turned pale, he said:”Oh, it is you, Miss.”

    The voice said:”Even if you don’t know who I am, you should know where this road leads to. How dare you to behave audaciously here!”

    Xiao Yu’er almost could clap in his hands, he had hope again. Because it was not the Little Fairy, Zhang Qing. Her voice was very similar to Zhang Qing’s, but this voice talked much slower than her. A girl in a green dress holding a flower basket walked between the trees. She was very graceful and slender, it seemed that she could be blown away by the wind at any time. Her elegant eyebrows were knit and her eyes were filled with melancholy. She was not an absolute beauty, but she was very exquisite and you would immediately take a liking to her. Behind her was a young man with thick eyebrows, he looked quite tall and muscular. But he still looked very naïve, he respectfully followed her and he did not even dare to lift his head. The girl looked like a daughter of a wealthy prominent family, and the boy looked like the son of a family with stern upbringing.

    The Azure Serpent Lord’s face changed when he saw those two young people, he lowered his head deeply and said with an enforced smile:”It is you, ninth Miss.”

    The girl said casually:”Very good, you seem to remember me. But you seem to have forgotten whose property this is. How dare you cut people open here!”

    She did not look callous, but her voice was cold and indifferent. It was not like she did not want to care, but she was just inattentive to everyone. Nobody is important or worthy of her attention.

    Xiao Yu’er could not guess who this girl was, she looked like a princess but she is not. She is obviously a girl with a martial arts background. She should be filled with hope, happiness like most girls her age, but she seems to be tired of all worldly affairs.

    The Azure Serpent Lord lowered his head even lower; he said with a trembling voice:”I thought I haven’t entered the restricted part yet….”

    The girl said:”Now, you know.”

    The Azure Serpent Lord said:”Now, I know.”

    The girl said:”Now, you know. So you also know what to do?”

    The Azure Serpent Lord smiled sadly:”Yes, I know.” He used his broken blade and slashed off his left hand. Even Xiao Yu’er was surprised by that action. This [ninth Miss] was very casual about it and just waved her hand saying:”Good, you can leave now.” With that the Azure Serpent Lord quickly left.

    Suddenly Tie Xinlan shouted:”No, you can’t let him go! Don’t let him go!” She had woken up, and crawled up but soon fell down again.

    The girl looked at her and said:”Why?”

    Tie Xinlan pointed at Xiao Yu’er and said:”He is poisoned by him, only the Azure Serpent Lord has the antidote. If he doesn’t give the antidote, he won’t make it through the day.”

    The girl said plainly:”Why should I care?” Tie Xinlan’s body shook and she fell again.

    The young man smiled:”Ninth sister, let us help them.”

    The girl said:”If you want to save them, go ahead. I won’t interfere.”

    She turned around, and walked away without looking at anyone again. The young man looked at Tie Xinlan who was lying on the ground, he lowered his head and said:”I am sorry….” With that he quickly followed the girl.

    Tie Xinlan shouted:”Miss, I beg of you….Miss….”

    Xiao Yu’er blinked his eyes and suddenly laughed loudly:”Let’s go, no need to beg.”

    Tie Xinlan said:”But you….”

    Xiao Yu’er said loudly:”Life or death, it is all the same. Besides, she is too young, how can she help us. Stop pestering her, you will only make things difficult for her.”

    He walked over and helped Tie Xinlan up, and they started to walk.

    The girl said coldly:”Stop.”A smile formed at the corners of Xiao Yu’er mouth, but he just said loudly:”Why should we stop? If I die here, I will only tarnish your clean road.”

    He continued to walk and did not turn around. All of a sudden he saw a flash and the girl was standing in front of him. She said coldly:”You won’t die! But don’t think I don’t know you’re provoking me. I am saving you, because I want you to know that the Murong sisters can do almost everything.”

    Xiao Yu’er scoffed:”I never wanted your help! It is my own decision if I want to die or live happily, I don’t need your concern.”

    The ninth Miss said indifferently:”I have decided to save you, you have nothing to say about your own fate now.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”This is your own decision, right? I have never begged for your help, even if you saved me I won’t thank you for it.”

    The ninth Miss did not reply, she turned around and said:”Follow me.”

    The end of chapter 8

  10. #10
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
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    Chapter 9 Trapped in ice

    At the end of the road was a manor; it was not a very grand manor. But every brick, every tile, every room was built with care and flawless. After walking through the courtyard they came into the main hall, it seemed that there were no servants, but everything looked very tidy. Xiao Yu’er was panting and staggering now, the young man secretly supported Xiao Yu’er.

    Xiao Yu’er gratefully smiled:”Thank you, what is your name?”

    The young man’s face turned red and said:”My name is Gu Renyu.”

    Xiao Yu’er asked:”You’re not a Murong?”

    Gu Renyu’s face was still red and said:”I am their cousin.”

    Xiao Yu’er smiled:”You’re very nice, but a bit too honest. You look like a girl, blushing all the time.”

    Gu Renyu stuttered:”I…I….”

    If he did not have thick eyebrows and was not that tall and muscular, he did not look like a man. Xiao Yu’er would have mistaken him for a girl.

    The ninth Miss did not stop and walked through the main hall and through the corridor, but they could not see anyone here. Finally she walked to a small garden with two, three elegant gates on both sides, she stopped there and said:”Enter.” With that she turned around and walked away again.

    Gu Renyu said:”Please…please go inside. This is…this is my room.”

    Tie Xinlan smiled too:”I think this is the only room suitable for men.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Hmm, with the exception of you, only women live here.”

    Gu Renyu stared at Xiao Yu’er with some disbelief and said:”Haven’t you heard of the names of the nine Murong sisters before?” Tie Xinlan was sitting and had closed her eyes for a moment, but when she heard this she opened her eyes again and exclaimed:”You mean the [Nine elegant ladies of the realm]?”

    Gu Renyu blushed again and said softly:”Yes, you’re right.”

    Xiao Yu’er looked at Tie Xinlan and smiled:”You know this too, tell me how formidable these Murong sisters are.”

    Tie Xinlan sighed:”These nine sisters are excelled in every field of martial arts, from lightness, projectiles and so on. All of them are both beautiful and intelligent. They almost know anything, so a lot of people in the realm would like to have a Murong sister as spouse.”

    Xiao Yu’er blinked and laughed:”Are they all married now?”

    Tie Xinlan said:”All of them are married with the exception of the ninth sister, the other eight are either married to young masters of prominent Wulin families or famous young heroes…”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed loudly:”No wonder everyone fears them in the realm, even if people are not afraid of the Murong sisters, they should be afraid of the eight accomplished husbands.”

    His face gradually became black and breathed quite heavily now, but it did not stop him from laughing and joking.

    He patted Gu Renyu’s shoulder and laughed:”Just stay close to her and pay a lot of attention to her, sooner or later she will notice you.”

    Gu Renyu’s face turned even redder now, he lowered his head and looked secretly at Tie Xinlan. He said:”It is really my mother’s wishes that I would….”

    At this point, that ninth Miss of the Murong family appeared, he scoffed:”Yes, these are auntie’s wishes. You’re not too keen on being treated coldly.”

    Gu Renyu could almost crawl under a table and stuttered:”I didn’t…I did not mean it that way….”

    Murong Jiumei said coldly:”Young master Gu, nobody invited you over and nobody will ask you to stay. Auntie thinks you’re very special, but nobody here shares that idea.”

    She did not look at Gu Renyu anymore; she threw a black jaded bottle on the table in front of Xiao Yu’er. She coldly said:”Take half and smear the other half on your wound, in six hours you will be healed. And by then I want you to be gone.”

    Xiao Yu’er grinned:”I have never begged for your help and I don’t want you to become my wife. There is no need for you to act conceited and such, you may think that you’re special but I don’t share that idea.”

    Murong Jiumei turned around and looked at him coldly.

    Xiao Yu’er pretended not to notice that, he opened the bottle swallowed half the contents, licking his lips and said:”Very sour.”

    And then he smeared the remaining half on his wound. He was an intelligent man; although he was nitpicking it did not stop him from using the medicine.

    Murong Jiumei hatefully looked at him, in her cold eyes there was almost a spark of fire, she slowly said:”Although I saved you, I can still kill you.”

    Xiao Yu’er stuck out his tongue and laughed:”You won’t, because you look vicious but deep in your heart you are very kind.” Somehow, Murong Jiumei blushed now, and then sternly said:”Leave now! Don’t let me ever see you again! Or else I will poke out your eyes, cut off your tongue and then kill you.”

    Gu Renyu was terrified, he never saw the always cold and cool Murong Jiumei being furious. He had certainly never heard her say such bitter words before.

    Xiao Yu’er still grinned:”I will leave, but don’t beg me to return when I am gone.”

    Murong Jiumei was trembling with anger and said:”You…..You….”

    Suddenly from afar someone shouted:”Murong Jiumei, where are you? Your little sister has come to see you.”

    The speaker was very fast before she was finished, she was standing outside, and Murong Jiumei bit her lip and gracefully walked outside.

    When Xiao Yu’er heard that voice, his smile was gone. Tie Xinlan’s face turned pale and said:”Is it the Little Fairy Zhang Qing?” Gu Renyu said:”You’re…you’re right. She is a good friend of the ninth Miss.”

    Xiao Yu’er slowly sat down and smiled wryly:”What a small world…..”

    He heard Zhang Qing laughing:”Well, aren’t we arrogant nowadays? Don’t you come out to greet friends anymore?”

    Murong Jiumei said:”Who knows where you wander off to? I haven’t scolded you for forgetting about me for such a long time, you have a lot of nerves to lecture me first.”

    Zhang Qing laughed:”Ha! Our ninth Miss really knows how to talk, her cheeks are all red, and you’re becoming more beautiful by the day. Tell me, how many people have come asking for your hand.”

    Murong Jiumei said:”Stop being so annoying.”

    Zhang Qing said:”I don’t think your heart finds this question annoying.”

    Murong Jiumei coldly said:”I will never marry anyone in my life.”

    Zhang Qing said:”You’re right! All men are despicable and deserve to die! Especially those who look quite handsome and have a sharp tongue.”

    It was like she was talking about Xiao Yu’er, judging by her tone she deeply resented and hated Xiao Yu’er. Tie Xinlan’s limbs felt cold and asked softly:”What shall we do?”

    Xiao Yu’er sighed:”We can’t run, we can’t fight. I can’t think of anything.”

    After he was finished, Zhang Qing had entered. She exclaimed with shock:”How come you’re here too?”

    Xiao Yu’er grinned:”Long time no see, how are you doing?”

    Murong Jiumei frowned and asked:”Sister Qing, do you know him?”

    Zhang Qing hatefully said:”I know him, of course I know him. But…but why is he here?”

    Murong Jiumei casually said:”He was injured just outside, I….”

    Xiao Yu’er loudly interrupted:”Don’t ask anymore. I am neither friend nor relative of the Murong family. I am injured now, if you want to kill me go ahead. You don’t have to give face to anyone and I will not fight back.”

    Zhang Qing sneered:”Can you fight back?”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”If I can fight back, you would be lying on the ground now.”

    Zhang Qing slapped him and angrily said:”Stop talking!”

    Xiao Yu’er did not move, and laughed:”I will keep quiet, what else can I say. You fell into my hands twice, I should blame myself for taking pity on you and sparing your life twice.”

    His words were righteous and fair and quite moving, but he did not mention how he managed to defeat Zhang Qing those two times.

    Murong Jiumei could not help herself but to ask:”Sister Qing, did you really fall into his hands twice?”

    Zhang Qing was furious now, but she did not know how to retort Xiao Yu’er. When Murong Jiumei saw Zhang Qing’s anger, her expression changed awfully strange too.

    Xiao Yu’er saw that and said with an astounded tone:”Miss Murong, let her kill me. Even if I am killed in your home, I know you look down upon her and I won’t blame you.”

    Zhang Qing was boiling with anger and laughed:”You really think I won’t kill you!”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”I know you can and will, the famous Little Fairy Zhang Qing is not afraid of anyone. And especially not afraid of a person who can’t fight back.”

    Zhang Qing roared and her fingers looked like swords and were aimed at the temples of Xiao Yu’er. Xiao Yu’er did not move, but Tie Xinlan was scared stiff.

    Suddenly a figure stood in front of Xiao Yu’er, Murong Jiumei blocked Zhang Qing. The fingers of Zhang Qing almost made contact with Murong Jiumei, she quickly retracted her attack.

    She angrily shouted:”Are you siding with the enemy?”

    Murong Jiumei said casually:”If it was somewhere else, I would not care who you would kill. However, she should show some respect here, sister Qing.”

    Zhang Qing said:”I will apologize to you after I have killed him.”

    Murong Jiumei said:”Ever since this manor was built, blood was never spilled here, nor allowed to be spilled. If you really want to break this rule, I suggest you do it now.”

    Zhang Qing stamped her feet and said:”You don’t know how horrible, this little brat is.”

    Murong Jiumei said:”That can be true, but you just have to wait till he…”

    Zhang Qing shouted:”I can’t wait any longer.”

    She changed movements seven times, hoping to evade Murong Jiumei, however Murong Jiumei quickly adapted every change she made. Even if Murong Jiumei did not block Zhang Qing and allowed her to pass, Zhang Qing would not have killed Xiao Yu’er. However, when she saw that Murong Jiumei kept blocking her, she became angrier and angrier and really wanted to kill him. She stretched out her hand and her fingers attacked Murong Jiumei seven times. Murong Jiumei avoided those seven stances and coldly said:”Sister Qing, you attacked me first, don’t blame me for being rude.”

    Zhang Qing did not stop her attacks and said coldly:”Whenever I set my mind to something nobody can stop me! Not even you, just use her famous Murong needles on me…..”

    She was interrupted with a powerful blast. Zhang Qing shifted her body to avoid that fist, she shouted:”Little sister Gu! You’re joining the fight too.”

    Xiao Yu’er chuckled: [So he has the nickname little sister Gu, it really suits him. He is too honest, but his martial arts are very solid, worthy of a descendant of prominent martial arts family. That conceited Zhang Qing can’t defeat him.]

    He did not know that Gu Renyu looked very shy and honest, but his martial arts are quite good. He is known in the realm as the Jade-faced Divine Fists Gu Renyu.

    Zhang Qing looked at them and put her hands on her waist and said:”What are you waiting for?”

    Xiao Yu’er was thinking the same thing: [What are you waiting for? Fight!]

    But Gu Renyu just stood there not moving, he lowered his head and said:”If Miss Zhang will stop fighting I would dream of lifting my finger against you.”

    Zhang Qing sneered:”The heir of the famous Divine fists of the Gu family is a useless coward. The only thing you can do is flatter up to Miss Murong here.”

    Gu Renyu just stood there, not saying another word.

    Zhang Qing stamped her feet and said:”Alright! Murong Jiumei, show me what you have in that seven exquisite pouch of yours.”

    Murong Jiumei coldly said:”As long you won’t try to kill people here, I won’t fight you.”

    Zhang Qing first looked at her and then at Gu Renyu, one was standing in front of a window the other stood in front of the door. With or without intention they had surrounded Zhang Qing.

    Xiao Yu’er grinned:”No good looking around, you can’t overcome them. The famous Little Fairy is surrounded.”

    Zhang Qing looked at him for a while and laughed:”You want me to fight them and then you can watch and enjoy the fight.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”If you’re too afraid to fight just leave. No need to find an excuse.”

    Zhang Qing said:”I am leaving now, if you can hide in here for the rest of your life….My respects! If not the moment you leave this place, I will kill you at once.”

    She turned around to Murong Jiumei and smiled:”Unless you marry him and will stay at his side, otherwise I will make sure he dies at my hands. There is no reason why I should fight you, people might say that I am bullying you.”

    She took three steps back and disappeared with a sweet laughter. Xiao Yu’er did not expect her to leave like that.

    He was stunned and smiled wryly:”Women….women….. The hearts of women….truly mysterious.”

    Murong Jiumei sighed softly:”No one can guess the thoughts of her, nor can one perceive her character. I am the only one in the realm who can match her…”

    Xiao Yu’er blinked his eyes and asked:”In other words, only you and her are worthy of being called heroes?”

    Murong Jiumei said:”Yes.”

    Xiao Yu’er asked:”Who should be number one?”

    Murong Jiumei said after some thinking:”She handles her affairs most strangely, her temperament keeps changing. Even I cannot guess what she is thinking, she is definitely the most lethal person in the realm.”

    Xiao Yu’er asked:”How about you?”

    Murong Jiumei said coldly:”I don’t interfere in the affairs of the martial arts realm.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”If you would take an interest in the realm, she would be number two, wouldn’t she?”

    Murong Jiumei just grunted. Xiao Yu’er said very seriously:”Yes, you are really number one….” He paused for a moment; Murong Jiumei actually smiled a bit.
    However, Xiao Yu’er continued:”You’re self absorbing skills should really be ranked number one in the realm.”

    Murong Jiumei’s mood changed again, Xiao Yu’er busted out in laughter:”I only thought men were capable of being self absorbed, but women are capable of that too and are even better than in that. You should really go out and have a look, and then you will see that there are countless of people who are just or even more capable than you. Just by closing your own doors and proclaiming to be invincible is just plain stupid, but I can’t help it if you do that.”

    Murong Jiumei said:”You….You….” Xiao Yu’er laughed:”You have saved my life twice, but you did that out of your own will. I never begged for it and I won’t you show gratitude. I will certainly not flatter up to you.”

    The only thing Murong Jiumei could say was:”Good….Very good….”

    She wanted to look at cold and refined, but in vain. She was shaking with anger. She was a cold and not easily aggravated person, but somehow Xiao Yu’er could get to her with just a few sentences.

    Gu Renyu said slowly:”She is very kind to you, why do you have to anger her?”

    Xiao Yu’er grinned:”I am doing it on purpose, she is much prettier when she is angry. And that cold façade of her is quite annoying.”

    Gu Renyu could not help himself but to look at Murong Jiumei. He saw her red cheeks and really made her more attractive than usual. After a look he was completely dazzled and shook his head saying:”You’re right. Much prettier.”

    Murong Jiumei looked at him and said:”How dare you say such things in my presence! What do you take me for?”

    Gu Renyu was shocked and quickly lowered his head, he said:”You’re not pretty, you’re ugly when you’re angry.” Tie Xinlan was very worried and pensive, but when she heard that she had to laugh too. Without saying Xiao Yu’er was rolling on the ground laughing.

    Two young girls ran through the woods, they giggled and called:”Ninth Miss, Ninth Miss….”

    Murong Jiumei was still fuming and did not know how to vent her anger, she angrily shouted:”Why are you shouting? I am not deaf!”

    The two maids lowered their heads and said:”Yes, ninth Miss.”

    They secretly looked at Xiao Yu’er and said:”The room is ready, Miss. Are you now….”

    Murong Jiumei said:”Of course now, I am going to have a look like always.”

    The two girls never heard Murong Jiumei talk like this; they only muttered a soft:”Yes.”

    They immediately left again. Murong Jiumei coldly said:”Young master Gu, if you have nothing else to do please watch these two here. If not you can go too.”

    Gu Renyu said:”I am fine, I will….”

    He stuttered some more, but Murong Jiumei had already left. Xiao Yu’er looked at Tie Xinlan for a moment and then followed Murong Jiumei. Gu Renyu looked at her absentmindedly, Tie Xinlan also looked at Xiao Yu’er a bit surprised. Gu Renyu sighed, Tie Xinlan sighed too:”You’re very kind to her, perhaps a bit too kind.”

    She was talking about Gu Renyu and Murong Jiumei, but she thought of her and Xiao Yu’er. Why was Gu Renyu so nice to Murong Jiumei? What about Xiao Yu’er…..she was very confused and was caught in her own thoughts, she did not hear what Gu Renyu said. After a while, she said melancholically:”Do you love her?”

    Gu Renyu said a bit dumbfounded:”I don’t know.”

    Tie Xinlan smiled kindly and said:”How can you not know?”

    Gu Renyu sighed:”Everyone thinks that I should love her, even I think I should love her. But….but I don’t know if I love her. I just know that I am afraid of her.”

    Tie Xinlan smiled pleasantly:”You’re a very good man.”

    Gu Renyu looked at her and then lowered his head saying:”You…you’re a very good person too.”

    When Murong Jiumei was in the garden, she turned around and said coldly:”Why are you following me?”

    Xiao Yu’er grinned:”I don’t to follow you, but I don’t kill Zhang Qing might find a chance to kill me. I don’t mind dying, but I don’t want to disgrace you.”

    Murong Jiumei looked at him for a while not saying anything, then she turned around and walked away again.

    Xiao Yu’er followed, he was panting and said sensitively:”I can’t walk anymore. Can you hold my hand?” Murong Jiumei ignored him and even walked even faster.
    Xiao Yu’er said:”Let me die of fatigue, you can present my body to Zhang Qing when I am dead. She won’t cause anymore trouble for you when I am dead.”

    Murong Jiumei did not look back, but she started to slow down. Xiao Yu’er said:”Some girls just need to look tougher than men. But when they actually meet a man, they will be useless. Hey! Have you ever seen a girl before who is afraid to hold the arm of a man?”

    Murong Jiumei could not take it anymore and sneered:”Afraid? I am just….”

    Xiao Yu’er interrupted:”You’re just not willing. Nobody likes to admit that they are afraid and not willing is just a better sounding excuse.”

    Murong Jiumei turned back and actually held his arm.

    Xiao Yu’er followed her again, he grinned:”Your hands are very small, mine should be at least twice…..”

    He was talking to her, but he was also carefully observing the gardens, corridors, chambers they passed. They reached a very nice looking garden with beautiful porches, and there were a series of different chambers with different sizes, colours and designs. Xiao Yu’er counted nine chambers in total; they must be the rooms of the Murong sisters. The first chamber was cream yellow, Murong Jiumei pushed open the doors and entered. The curtains, tablecloths and bedding with all cream yellow. The room was simply decorated, but it looked very smart and sophisticated.

    Murong Jiumei examined everything carefully, she inspected if there was any dust. Xiao Yu’er looked at her and asked:”Is this the room of your oldest sister? Is she coming back?”

    Murong Jiumei said:”Is it alright to let her room covered in the dust when she is not here?”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Right, even if she isn’t coming back everything has to be tidy too. It seems you have a good bond with your sisters.”

    Suddenly he did not spout nonsense anymore, Murong Jiumei could not guess his intentions and merely grunted.

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Your eldest sister must be a very sophisticated, refined and tranquil person. Not to mention gentle and beautiful. There are not many women like her in this world, who is her husband?”

    Murong Jiumei finally looked at him and said:”Nobody is good enough to be her husband, but if one should look the closest match would be my eldest brother-in-law.”

    Xiao Yu’er asked:”How are his martial arts?”

    Murong Jiumei said coldly:”Have you ever heard of the Splendid Jade Swordsman?” Originally, she intended not to speak to this annoying brat anymore. But somehow, she started a conversation with him. The brat talked to her about something she loved to discuss. Xiao Yu’er could aggravate her with just a few sentences, but he could also pacify her again with another few sentences.

    The second room was all pink, on the walls hung short swords, long bows even the scabbards of the swords were red. Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Your second sister must be very different from your eldest sister. She is a very frank and open person and has quite a temper. But she is a very nice person and is also very considerate.

    Murong Jiumei stayed quiet for a while, but in the end she asked:”How did you know?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”The secretive weaponry of the Murong family is renowned in the realm, but your sister seems to love using bows. That would point out that she is a rather open and frank, loving simplicity instead of complex projectiles and such.”

    Murong Jiumei said:”Hmm and what else?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Users of long swords are usually stable, calm. Users of short swords are usually turbulent, dangerous. Your second sister’s swords almost look like daggers, meaning whenever she gets angered she will go all out and will not hold back.”

    Murong Jiumei nodded in agreement and said:”The swordplay of my second sisters is renowned for being turbulent and dangerous throughout the realm.”

    Xiao Yu’er smiled:”But your second brother-in-laws’s martial arts are not very high, are they?”

    Murong Jiumei was surprised that he said that, she looked at him for a long time and nodded. She said:”My second brother-in-law is the only son of the famous Nangong family. The martial arts of the Nangong family are good and high, but my brother-in-law has always been sickly. That is why…(* sigh).”

    Xiao Yu’er clapped his hands and laughed:”That explains it all.”

    Murong Jiumei asked:”What do you mean?” Xiao Yu’er said:”When she married to your brother-in-law, she left all her weapons at home. Meaning that her husband’s martial arts are clearly beneath her own and because she is a considerate person she deliberately left her own weapons back. She did not want to harm the feelings of her husband, she is truly a kind and considerate woman.”

    Murong Jiumei silently looked at him for a while, and then they went to the third room.

    The walls of the third room were covered with black wallpaper; the room was a bit dark. However, the room was decorated with style and elegance. There was a go board, a painter’s accessories and painting of lady painting hung at the wall. There was an inscription [Murong Lady]; it must be her own work.

    Xiao Yu’er looked around and smiled:”Your third sister must be a literary talent, but she is a bit of a loner. She must be a rather melancholic person, but most literary women are like that.”

    Murong Jiumei said slowly:”She does not like sunshine, she likes rain and she always paints or plays the qin* when it rains. It sometimes seems that she does not belong to this mortal world. Her music sounds so celestial, unfortunately…unfortunately I haven’t heard it in a long time.”

    Xiao Yu’er asked:”What about your third brother-in-law?”

    Murong Jiumei said:”He is a true prodigy of the realm, he is excelled in the literary fields. And at the age of 29 he became the Wulin chancellor of the provinces Guangdong and Guangxi.

    Xiao Yu’er smiled:”A perfect match.”

    Xiao Yu’er followed Murong Jiumei to each room and after walking out of the eighth room, Murong Jiumei looked very calm and gentle. She suddenly thought this brat was not that annoying anymore, they finally arrived at the ninth chamber.

    The room was light blue, it was the most magnificent and beautiful of all the rooms. Every item in this room was precious and exquisite. Murong Jiumei looked at Xiao Yu’er, as if she asked: [Do you know that this is my room? Can you tell me what kind of person I am?].

    Xiao Yu’er looked around for a while, he suddenly laughed:”The owner of this room is different from the others, she is entirely different.”

    There was a faint smile on the face of Murong Jiumei, but she still looked cold and indifferent. She just casually asked:”What is different?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Blue means that she is quite self absorbed and pretentious. All those antique just prove that she is childish, prestigious and very common….”

    Murong Jiumei could not endure to hear the rest and stormed out the room, she looked very white. She was boiling with anger and did not look at the awful little monster again.

    Xiao Yu’er laughed loudly:”If I am wrong, why should you be angry? If I am right, you should not be angry at all.” Murong Jiumei did not look back and continued to walk, Xiao Yu’er just followed. After making a few turns here and there, they came on a brick road that lead to a big bronze door. Xiao Yu’er could not look beyond that door, but somehow that door had something mysterious and terrifying. He could not explain that feeling, he just saw Murong Jiumei taking out a key and used it to open the door. Without a sound the door opened, a cold air escaped gushed out from the door. Xiao Yu’er felt that this room looked very much like the house of uncle Wan Chunliu. There were all sorts of jars, bottles with herbal medicine. There was also a big copper cauldron for cooking and composing different medicinal herbs or herbal extracts. But the house of Wan Chunliu was built with normal bricks, but this room looked like it was built out of one giant blue stone. The house of Wan Chuliu felt warm and comfortable, but this room was eerie looking and cold.

    Murong Jiumei had closed the door again; her normal white face looked a bit greenish in here.

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Miss Murong is a female physician. You are really a talented girl, why have you brought me here? Do you want to examine me?”

    Murong Jiumei said:”Yes, you’re right.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”The poison in my body is gone, what else would you like to examine?”

    Murong Jiumei said:”You have something in your body which is very annoying, if I cut that off you will be a much better person.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”What would that be?”

    Murong Jiumei said coldly:”Your tongue.”

    Xiao Yu’er stuck out his tongue and quickly backed away from her, he said:”Do my words really aggravate you that much? If so, I feel very flattered.”

    Murong Jiumei turned around and sneered:”These herbal extracts are all very expensive, don’t touch them.” Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Do you think I will touch them?”
    Murong Jiumei smiled coldly:”Go ahead and touch them if you want to. Some of the extracts could prolong life and restore vitality, but there are some extracts that are very poisonous. One mistake and no one can save you.”

    Xiao Yu’er stuck out his tongue and said:”Don’t frighten me! I don’t have a lot of courage, I get scared very easily.”

    Murong Jiumei said coldly:”If you just stay here and don’t move, no one can harm you.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”With you near me, nobody can harm me.”

    Murong Jiumei said:”I have to practise my martial arts, I must leave now.”

    Xiao Yu’er asked:”Where are you going to? I will follow you.”

    Murong Jiumei sternly said:”If you keep following I will kill you myself.”

    Xiao Yu’er sighed:”A beautiful girl like you just have to smile and everyone will be at your mercy. Why should you study martial arts, if you reach the desired level you will probably be very old.”

    Murong Jiumei did not pay any attention to him and went to another bronze door and used a golden key to open it, she turned around and said:”Don’t enter this room if you do you won’t be able to get out.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”If you lock the door how can I get in.”

    Murong Jiumei scoffed:”Yes, you cannot find a way in.”

    She passed through the door and the door was closed it again and locked. Xiao Yu’er was not anxious to find out what was on the other side. He stretched himself and muttered:”Women…. Women…..really have a lot problems. Do you think that all the men in the world are fools? And do you think I cannot tell the difference from poison and medicine? I grew up with herbal medicine, I probably know more about it than you do.”

    While he was muttering to himself, he was looking about. He said:”No wonder she tried to scare me, most of the extracts here are of good quality. Even uncle Wan could not find some of these herbs and here there are three, four of them. Time to eat something.”

    He chose three, four types of herbs and put it in his mouth and started to chew on them. If Murong Jiumei would see it, she would probably go mad with anger again. Some herbs are so rare that even Xiao Yu’er had never seen them before; he just recognized them from the books of Wan Chunliu. Wan Chunliu had been searching for some of those herbs for several decades, but he was unable to find them. These herbs are invaluable; if these herbs boiled into an herbal extract it can even save people with terminal diseases. But Xiao Yu’er just put them in his mouth, similar to a cow eating ginseng; a total waste. In a few moments it was all gone.
    He rubbed his tummy and said:”You really had a good meal today.”

    He walked around opening some bottles and drinking or eating the contents, or he would put some bottles in his clothes. What he could not take away anymore, he would mix the extracts up. He made a funny face and laughed:”Since you have nothing to do, let me create some chores for you.” If Murong Jiumei had to clean up this mess, she would be busy for at least five, six days.

    But Xiao Yu’er was not feeling to comfortable either, eating all those things together made his stomach uncomfortable. He felt like he was on fire, he sat down and thought for a while. He took a copper thread from his clothes and poked into the lock of the other bronze door. He grinned:”Do you really think you can keep me out?”

    He put his ear near the lock, he poking the lock with the copper thread, a smile gradually appeared on his face and he muttered:”Yes, that is it…..Right, here is it.”

    With that the door opened and cold air gushed out. Xiao Yu’er took a deep breath and said:”Feels wonderful.”

    His body felt on fire earlier, but with the cold air gushing out this room he felt much better again. He opened the door and laughed loudly:”Miss Murong, I am inside. I just want to look at your martial arts practice, I won’t disturb you.”

    After he was finished, he was flabbergasted. He saw a room made of stone, there was a basement packed with huge cubes of ice. Murong Jiumei sat on an ice cube, her both hands grasped her two legs, her index fingers were pointed at the centre of her feet. She was completely naked. Xiao Yu’er had seen many things in his young life, but he had never seen a naked young woman before. He was never afraid of anything, but to this he was completely taken by surprise.

    Murong Jiumei opened her eyes and saw him; her eyes were filled with shame, anger, shock, and humiliation. No words could describe her expression, but she did not move. Xiao Yu’er was stunned for a while, he turned around and looked all around but did not dare to look at Murong Jiumei anymore. He deliberately said:”Where are you, Miss Murong? Why can’t I see you?”

    This little brat could perceive the thoughts of girls; he said that just to calm Murong Jiumei a bit.

    While he was talking, he turned around and was walking away. He was almost through the door, but then he saw nine drawings on the wall. He could not resist having a look.

    On the first drawing was a picture of a naked girl standing upside down on a piece of ice. Next to the drawing were some small characters: [Modulating Stone Craft, only virgins can study this. This is the first step op this craft, within three years success is at grasp.]

    The formula is: [Craft of Modulating Stone, when the craft is mastered rotate your energy nine times through your body. Your skin hardens like stone, impervious to wounds. After nine rotations, invincibility is yours….]

    Xiao Yu’er was stunned and exclaimed with surprise:”This idiotic skill wants people to become zombies, no wonder Murong Jiumei is such a cold and unfriendly woman.”

    He quickly looked at the second drawing, the picture showed a girl standing upside down again and there was another line of characters: [When this level is mastered, rotate your energy twice. First go against the…..]

    Xiao Yu’er did not read on, he was absolutely not interested in such an idiotic craft. If a person could turn as cold and hard as a stone, what good will that do even if you become invincible.

    The position of the girl on the third drawing was similar to Murong Jiumei’s. Xiao Yu’er felt relieved and muttered:”Fortunately, she has just reached the third drawing. If she had mastered this skill, she would be some monster now. A danger to herself and others.”

    He did not bother to look at the other drawings; he tore them of the wall. Murong Jiumei was looking at him, her anger was gone, and she was now begging him with her eyes.

    Xiao Yu’er did not look back, he loudly said:”Miss Murong, don’t hate me! I am doing this for your own good. You’re a lively girl, you should live your life to its’ limit and not punish yourself with this martial arts.”

    If Murong Jiumei could speak now, she would either curse him or beg him. If she could move, she would eat him up.

    But she could not move nor talk, she could just see Xiao Yu’er walking off with those nine drawings. Tears were forming in her eyes now.

    Xiao Yu’er threw the nine drawings in the furnace and quickly locked the door. He left and did not look for Tie Xinlan and jumped over the wall.

    Xiao Yu’er does things as he pleases, sometimes he is right and sometimes he is wrong. It does not bother him whether it is right or wrong. What he did earlier made him feel good and he did not care about the consequences.

    He was not feeling very comfortable now; he was feeling stuffed and warm. He ran through the woods as fast as he could, he felt cooler walking in the shades of the trees.

    Xiao Yu’er could not move anymore and was resting under a tree. He was hoping that Zhang Qing would not come now and he also hoped that Murong Jiumei would not come either. He felt warm, stuffed, and itchy all over his body, he muttered:”I wish there was a pond here, I jump into it. All I want is water now…”

    A cold voice said:”What you need is a coffin.”

    Xiao Yu’er felt a chill running up his spine and a sword was pointed at his neck. He was shocked and smiled wryly:”Women are truly formidable, if men are pursued by women they cannot and never escape.”

    The voice said coldly:”That is something you found out too late.”

    Xiao Yu’er asked:”Who are you? Are you Miss Murong or the Little Fairy?”

    The voice said:”Do you think that Murong Jiumei can save you now? You’re dreaming.”

    Xiao Yu’er suddenly laughed and muttered:”Good! It’s you! I am very fortunate.”

    Zhang Qing did not know that Xiao Yu’er was terrified of Murong Jiumei at this moment, she sneered:”You’re right. You’re very fortunate to pick this path and I was waiting for you right here.”

    She just wanted to antagonize Xiao Yu’er; even if Xiao Yu’er took a different path he could not escape her.

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Your sword is very fast.” Zhang Qing said:”It is not too fast, but I think I can cut off your hand and while your mouth is still speaking.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”I really mocked you those two times, killing me with one blow is not sufficient. If I were you, I would think of a way to torture me first.”

    Zhang Qing said:”You like to be tortured. That can be arranged, what do you have in mind?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”At least beat me up severely.”

    Zhang Qing said coldly:”Do you think I am afraid to hit you.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Well, I think you can’t bear to hit me.”

    Suddenly he felt a blow to his neck and another to his back. Zhang Qing gritted his teeth and said:”Very good! Take this….”

    She hit him twice and kicked, Xiao Yu’er was sent rolling over the ground, but he laughed loudly:”That feels great.” He was really enjoying it, because his body was itching all over and Zhang Qing was actually giving him a massage. Zhang Qing angrily said:”Feeling great! If you like it so much, take some more.” She put more force in her fists and struck Xiao Yu’er heavily on the back. Xiao Yu’er said:”Too soft, try again harder.”

    Zhang Qing almost exploded with anger; she saw that Xiao Yu’er did not show signs of pain. She was shocked and could not guess that after eating all those herbs made Xiao Yu’er very resilient. Even an iron hammer could not inflict much damage on him. Zhang Qing’s hands felt tired now; Xiao Yu’er was still shouting:”It feels great, harder please…”

    Zhang Qing remembered that fight of earlier; he could withstand all those hits to his body. She really wondered how it was possible that Xiao Yu’er was not afraid of pain.

    She was wondering whether she should hit him again or just stop. All of a sudden a cold voice said:”Are you done?” Zhang Qing turned around and saw Murong Jiumei. Zhang Qing saw that Murong Jiumei’s hair was messy and her eyes were red, her hands were shaking too. Zhang Qing did not expect her to look this; she replied loudly:”I am not done, what are you planning to do?”

    Murong Jiumei said:”Then continue.”

    Zhang Qing angrily said:”What will you do when I am done.” Murong Jiumei said:”When you’re done, I want him.” Zhang Qing scoffed:”We are not on your property anymore, don’t try to stop me. I….”

    Murong Jiumei interrupted her:”Did you think that I am here to save him?”

    Zhang Qing was stunned by that question and said:”Of course you’re here to save him, why else would you be here? Don’t tell me you want to kill him too?”

    Murong Jiumei said:”Yes, I am here to kill him too.” She moved over to Xiao Yu’er and drew a dagger and wanted to stab him. When Xiao Yu’er saw them both here, he was not afraid anymore. Death was inevitable, why be afraid? He took a look at the dagger and suddenly he saw a flash and heard a metallic clang sound. Zhang Qing used her short sword to intercept the dagger. Murong Jiumei angrily said:”You wanted to kill him too, why are you stopping me?”

    Zhang Qing sneered:”You were trying to protect him earlier, why do you want to kill him now?”

    Murong Jiumei shouted:”That is none of your business.”

    Zhang Qing said loudly:”I will make it my business.”

    Murong Jiumei twirled her wrist and attacked with seven stances, she said:”No matter what, I have to kill him.”

    Zhang Qing used her short sword to intercept all seven stances and said:”You did not allow me to kill him earlier, so I won’t allow you to kill now.” Murong Jiumei jumped away and said coldly:”Fine, you can kill now. I will just stand here and watch.” Zhang Qing was surprised, she raised her sword but then lowered it again, and she said coldly: ”I won’t kill him now because you want me to do so.” Murong Jiumei said:”What is the meaning of this?”

    Zhang Qing said:”Why should I listen to you?”

    Murong Jiumei said:”Just a while ago, you had to kill him. But now you’re trying to save him…..What is wrong? Are you…Are you…..with him…” Zhang Qing knew what word was left out, her face turned red and said loudly:”You were trying to rescue him from me earlier and now you’re trying to kill him. Are you in ……in….with him too?”

    Murong Jiumei’s white face turned red and shouted:”How dare you talk to me like that!” Zhang Qing shouted back:”You started!” Both of them exchanged stances now, and their hands felt numb after the exchange of one stance. She backed away from each other ad suddenly both yelled.

    Xiao Yu’er was gone. Zhang Qing stamped her feet and blamed Murong Jiumei:”This is all your fault!”

    Murong Jiumei blamed Zhang Qing and said:”This is all your fault!” They said the same words simultaneously and when they both turned red. They looked at each other, and both lowered their heads when their gazes met.

    Zhang Qing lifted her head after a moment:”He can’t be far.”

    Murong Jiumei lifted her head too and said:”After him!” They wanted to smile to each other, but they really could not smile now. Zhang Qing bit her lip and said:”If we find him this time, we will kill him at the same time.”

    Xiao Yu’er knew that with his lightness martial arts he could not escape, so he did not try to run away. Instead he ran back to the Murong Manor. He jumped over the same wall and went back to that stone house of earlier. He picked up the lock and quickly went inside. He stretched himself and rested on a block of ice, he started to laugh now. When he thought of the looks on Murong Jiumei and Zhang Qing he laughed even louder. Other people might think of them as heroines, literary female prodigies and such, but in his eyes they were just two women. In Xiao Yu’er’s heart men consisted of several hundreds of different types, but women consisted of only one type. His body still felt warm and he started to break some pieces of ice and ate that, he felt much better after consuming some ice and decided to sleep for a while. He was not an ordinary person, because not many people can sleep at a time like this. He slept for some time, suddenly he heard the outer door opening and was aroused. He did not move and even held his breath. He could hear Zhang Qing saying:”It’s very cold.”

    Murong Jiumei said:”When my late mother ordered the construction of this ice cellar, it was because my late father did not like the hot weather. And a few ice cubes in the certain cold soups taste extra good in the summer. Furthermore, the ice house is also useful for another reason.”

    Zhang Qing asked:”What other reason?” Murong Jiumei stayed silent for a moment before sighing:”Well, that does not matter now. It is too late for that.” She sounded disappointed and angry. Xiao Yu’er was really afraid now; he knew that Murong Jiumei really hated him. If they would lock him inside he could never escape.

    Zhang Qing asked:”Were you afraid that he would hide in here?”

    Murong Jiumei replied:”Hmm.” Zhang Qing laughed:”You are really too careful. He would not hide in here, that would be suicidal.” Murong Jiumei said:”I really don’t know, where else could he have disappeared to?” Zhang Qing sighed:”That rascal is really slippery and clever, the next time we catch him and I won’t even talk to him anymore and I will immediately kill him and be done with it.”

    Her voice gradually became softer meaning that she and Murong Jiumei left the icehouse and Xiao Yu’er heard the door being locked. Finally, they have left. Xiao Yu’er thought: [Fortunately, women are too careless, if they had searched this place they would have found me.] He remained for a while longer and his body began to feel the cold in here. If he had cultivated his internal strength earlier instead of sleeping, his body would have absorbed the essences of those herbs and extracts. However, he just slept and wasting that precious time to absorb the essences. After resting for some time, he looked through the keyhole he saw Zhang Qing and Murong Jiumei standing in the outer room. Zhang Qing leaned against a wall, thinking of something. Murong Jiumei was looking very pale. Tie Xinlan was also in the outer room; she sat in front of the cauldron. She was picking up the pills that Xiao Yu’er threw on the floor; she was separating them and putting in separate bottles.
    She was weeping while she was picking up those pills. Xiao Yu’er frowned when he saw that and thought: [I just wanted to aggravate that Murong Jiumei, but Murong Jiumei must vent her anger on her and told her to do all sorts of hard jobs to compensate.] But where is Gu Renyu? Gu Renyu must be not allowed to enter this room. Zhang Qing recomposed herself and walked over to Tie Xinlan, Tie Xinlan was a bit startled and dropped all the pills she had in her hands. Xiao Yu’er could hear Zhang Qing talking to Tie Xinlan:”Don’t be afraid. I won’t harm you. We are all deceived by that awful little fiend, we should help each other.”

    Tie Xinlan lowered her head and tears flowed.

    Zhang Qing smiled:”Let me help you. If we don’t clean up this mess, ninth Miss won’t let us have dinner.” Murong Jiumei just stood there looking at them coldly not smiling. Xiao Yu’er thought: [Little Fairy looks very fierce, but she is really a nice girl…But all women are like that, you just need to flatter up to them and they will be appeased.] After some time, Zhang Qing asked:”That map….Did you really let that rascal trick you out of the map?”

    Tie Xinlan stayed quiet for a moment before saying:”He did not trick me, I gave it to him.” Zhang Qing asked:”Why did you give it to him?” Tie Xinlan lowered her head and just said:”I….I….”

    Zhang Qing said:”You must be deceived by him, you….”

    Tie Xinlan stood up resolutely and said loudly:”It is my business to whom I give that map, nobody has any say about that.”

    Zhang Qing was shocked and exclaimed:”Why are you angry?” Tie Xinlan said sternly:”Your martial arts are better and higher than mine, but I will not stand it that you laugh at me!”

    Zhang Qing shook her head and sighed:”Nobody is laughing at you, nobody is.”

    Xiao Yu’er chuckled and thought: [The Little Fairy looks tough from the outside but is soft on the inside, but Tie Xinlan looks weak from the outside but is tough on the inside. Their personalities are very different from each other. Murong Jiumei has started to learn that idiotic martial art ever since she was a child. She is like a cube of ice; her heart must be frozen too. Of the three girls she was the most dangerous and lethal.]

    After some time, Zhang Qing asked:”Are you still angry?” Tie Xinlan lowered her head and it looked she was a bit embarrassed. If someone was threatening her, she would never give in, but if someone treated her nicely she did not know how to react.

    Zhang Qing asked:”You must have seen the map too.”

    Tie Xinlan said:”Hmm.” Zhang Qing asked:”Do you still remember it?” Tie Xinlan said:”I can’t….can’t remember.” Zhang Qing said:”I don’t want that treasure, I swear I don’t want it. But I…I think that the brat must have gone there. If you can remember where it is we could find him and teach him a lesson.”

    Tie Xinlan lowered her head and said:”I really don’t remember, I am not lying.”

    Xiao Yu’er looked through the keyhole; he noticed that Tie Xinlan blinked her eyes a few times. He chuckled and thought: [She already knew where the location is. But she won’t reveal it, she may look like honest but she knows how to tell a lie and does quite a good job too.]

    But then he thought: [Why does she lie? Is it because of me? But why I treated her quite badly. But she has not said one single bad word about me and when Zhang Qing attacked me she immediately defended me and became angry, why is that?] He was thinking about it but got confused by his own trail of thoughts, in the end he just thought: [Why should I care what her reasons are? All women are a bit mad.]

    All of a sudden, Murong Jiumei walked away, Xiao Yu’er was a bit surprised and then he saw her come back. She was holding a lead ladle and a small urn. Zhang Qing asked:”What is in there?”

    Murong Jiumei replied:”Lead.” Zhang Qing was surprised and asked:”Lead, what do you want to do with lead?”

    Murong Jiumei did not answer, she put the urn on the furnace, there was a sinister glow in her eyes. She said:”This room has become redundant, I will stuff the keyhole so no one can leave or enter it again.”

    Xiao Yu’er saw her evil smile and knew something was wrong. When he heard her, he was terrified. This Murong Jiumei was very vicious; she wanted to trap Xiao Yu’er in here. She had noticed Xiao Yu’er’s presence inside, but did not say a word she knew that Tie Xinlan and Zhang Qing would try to save him.

    Xiao Yu’er was shocked and wanted to open pick the lock and storm out. But Murong Jiumei was faster than he was and poured liquid lead on to the keyhole. With that Xiao Yu’er could not see nor hear anything anymore. He could vaguely hear someone knocking on the outer door. Murong Jiumei was afraid that Xiao Yu’er would bang on the door and Zhang Qing, Tie Xinlan would hear him. Nobody could hear Xiao Yu’er anymore. He was afraid, shocked, he stamped his feet and cursed:”Murong Jiumei, you b-itch! You disgusting, horrible wretch! What have I done to you? I haven’t killed your parents nor have I raped you! Why do you have to use such a cruel method to kill me! It was because I was not interested in that skinny body of yours; otherwise you would be my woman now! If that had happened you would not try something like this!” He cursed and cursed, he used every expletive he knew. He was a boy who grew up in the Valley of Evil; his cursing technique was really superb.

    If Murong Jiumei could hear these words, she would probably cough up blood. Unfortunately, because of the thick walls, no one could hear a single word.
    After cursing for a very long time, Xiao Yu’er knew that cursing was useless. He was walking up and down, thinking of a way to escape this place. But this ice cellar was practically airtight for obvious reasons a bit of warm breeze and the ice would melt. This place was prison; Xiao Yu’er could not even dig a small hole in here.

    He smiled wryly:”Who says that this room is redundant? It can be used to lock people up, much better than other prisons. It seems that I will soon become a frozen fish.” He was shivering, he sat down cross-legged and generated his internal power to fight the cold, and before soon he was not feeling cold anymore. Xiao Yu’er was not a very diligent martial arts practitioner, which is why he did not feel bad about that missed opportunity when he could absorb the essence of those herbs he ate. He thinks he is the most intelligent person alive, and never placed a heavy emphasis on his martial arts. Because he is of the assumption that no matter how powerful his adversary is, he cannot compete with pure intelligence. But in situations like this, he has to rely on martial arts. He now feels a bit sorry for wasting such an opportunity earlier.

    However, there is still a part of the essence of herbs left in his body, he was cultivating his internal energy and his energy grew due to the herbs. He gradually entered a state of nothingness.

    He did not know or realise how much had passed, a few hours a few days even. When he felt hungry he would take out those bottles of medicine or herbs he hid in his clothes and took some. It helped him fight the cold and hunger. But there was no way he could he escape, it seems that he accepted that he was going to die in here sooner or later. What good would mastering invincible martial arts be in here? He felt depressed when he thought of this, but if he did not cultivate his internal energy he would feel cold. He was not afraid to die, but he did not want to suffer too much. He was not an immortal and soon he felt very hungry, internal energy could stop the cold but it could stop the hunger. He knew death was near. He did not understand that the most intelligent person in this world would die here and at the hands of a woman. He also understood that women are not that easy as he thought they would be. He was blaming himself and muttered:”It never pays to be a good person, if I had killed both Murong Jiumei and Zhang Qing I would not be in this mess….”

    He also started to blame Wan Chunliu; if it wasn’t for him he would a true evil person. Utterly ruthless and cruel, he would be hated and cursed at but at least he would stay alive. He was shivering and he felt dizzy, the cold and hunger had caught up with him. He muttered:”Everyone has to die once, at least I won’t be bothered by women anymore when I am dead.”

    All of a sudden, he did not feel the cold anymore. Instead he felt warm, he noticed that the ice was melting. He was surprised and when he touched the wall, it was scorching.

    Xiao Yu’er jumped up and said:”What is happening? Does she want to burn me and freeze me to death? That is not right, she treasures the rooms of her sisters as much as her own life. Why would she set fire to the manor?”

    He kept walking back and forth; only one wall was a bit cool. So he leaned back against that wall to find some coolness. Suddenly it dawned to him, he muttered:”Enemies of the Murong family must have come, not only have they come to kill but also to burn the Murong Manor to a crisp. Those idiots can burn ten Murong Manors for all I care, but they do not know that I am stuck in this accursed manor too. He was cursing those enemies of the Murong family now.

    In a matter of moments, the ice had melted and Xiao Yu’er was drifting in the water. He could not escape now; the water is quite warm now. Xiao Yu’er could not think of plan to escape so he took off his clothes and took a bath.

    He is the type that will never be afraid of death unless he is confronted with it. Nobody can force him to be afraid or worried. But now he has reached the point of no return, the water became hotter and hotter. Xiao Yu’er was like a fish that was about to be boiled.

    He was hoping the walls would give in before the water boiled him, but there was not even a crack in the walls. He was gradually becoming weak and swallowed some water in. Xiao Yu’er smiled wryly:”This will be a large bowl of fish soup, it’s a shame that I should enjoy it alone….”

    Suddenly he heard a series of [ting, tang] sounds, someone was knocking at the door.

    Xiao Yu’er found hope again and thought: [Good, this way someone can enjoy the soup too.]

    He knew that the fire could not destroy that bronze door, but the keyhole and the lead should be destroyed. If someone would use a mallet and chisel the door could surely be opened.

    And surely it did not take long and the door was opened, the water gushed out and Xiao Yu’er allowed himself to be carried out by the water.

    The two men outside did not anticipate that there would be so much water inside and they were drenched. Little did they expect to someone would be riding on the rapids of the water. The water flushed Xiao Yu’er quite far away; he just stayed down and did not move. He was starved to death and soaked to death, how could he move?

    He narrowed his eyes and focussed, he secretly saw that the fire outside was out. But there was burnt wood, rubble and smoke.

    When Xiao Yu’er looked at those two men, he saw that one was tall, muscular and fat. He also had a big beard, he was still looking quite valiant and tough even he was soaked now. Xiao Yu’er suddenly felt that this man resembled an ox. He felt assured again, he thought that this man looked tough but did not look too bright. One or two small lies, he will be tricked.

    The other one looked more difficult to handle, he wore a white robe and was much shorter than the other man. He bended his waist all the time and had hunchback, his face looked like it was gourd hanging upside down, and he had a long white beard. If he would walk among a herd of sheep, no one would recognize him from the sheep. It was clear that he was the more dangerous one of the two. Xiao Yu’er immediately deducted that they were two of the 12 Zodiacs. Probably the white sheep and yellow ox. He gradually understood that that all the 12 Zodiacs did not look like humans, they really resembled animals. It was amazing that there exactly 12 of such characters in the world. The two men looked at Xiao Yu’er and were stunned. The Yellow Ox said:”I should have never listened to you, years ago I promised myself that I would never listen to you again. But, why did I listen to you this time.”

    The White Sheep said:”Listening to me is the smart thing to do.”

    The Yellow Ox laughed strangely:”Smart? I am soaking wet now. You said that this icehouse was full of treasures, well where are those treasures?”

    The White Sheep said:”This brat is the treasure.” The Yellow Ox said:”This brat has fine flesh. Brother Li could prepare a nice meal if he was here. But you only eat grass.”

    Xiao Yu’er was a bit worried when he was the White Sheep, but when he hear their conversation he knew what to do. He grinned:”Old ox and sheep, how have you been doing lately?”

    The Yellow Ox was surprised and said:”This brat knows us.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Well, sometimes brother Dazui would tell me that the bravest of the 12 Zodiacs is the ox and the sheep is the smartest. I am happy to see you today.”

    The Yellow Ox laughed loudly:”Thank you, thank you. You’re too kind…” Suddenly he stopped laughing and carefully watched Xiao Yu’er, he said:”How….How is it possible that you know old brother Li?”

    He addressed Li Dazui as old brother Li this time instead of brother Li and he was stuttering now. Xiao Yu’er immediately knew what to do. He said:”Brother Dazui told me that the Yellow Ox of the 12 Zodiacs is his junior. Could it be that you are an uncle of the Yellow Ox?”

    The Yellow Ox’s faced turned red and said:”I am the Yellow Ox.” Xiao Yu’er said:”If that is so, you should call me uncle too. If you carelessly address people, the gap between generations will become very muddled. And brother Dazui won’t be pleased either.” The Yellow Ox laughed apologetically:”Yes, little brother. But please don’t tell master Li.”

    Xiao Yu’er looked stern and said:”You should not address me as [little brother].”

    The Yellow Ox stuttered:”Yes….I….I…”

    The White Sheep sneered:”If you were not travelling with me, you would probably be sold off and you would not even know who sold you.”

    The Yellow Ox looked at him and asked:”What do you mean?”

    The White Sheep said:”Do you really believe that this brat is a brother of old master Li? He is even too young to be the son of old master Li.”

    The Yellow Ox touched his head and said:”But, his words do make sense.” The White Sheep said:”You, idiot! He heard what you said earlier and is trying to deceive you now. Let me ask you, why would a brother of old master Li do in the Murong Manor?”

    The Yellow Ox said:”He is probably imprisoned by that Murong wretch.”

    The White Sheep scoffed”Are you blind? Don’t you realize what the purposes are of that house? That Murong wretch is not an idiot, why would she imprison someone in the room where she stores treasures and valuable medicinal herbs. This brat must know where the treasures are, that is why I said that this brat is the real treasure.”

    The Yellow Ox rubbed his head and said to Xiao Yu’er:”You, little brat! I was trying to defend you, but here you were lying to me.”

    Xiao Yu’er sneered:”Does this room have to be the place to store treasures and herbs? When there is nothing stored inside, it could serve as a prison. That Murong wretch is not an idiot, why would she flood that house if it was filled with treasures.” The Yellow Ox clapped his hands and said:”Yes, very true. For instance this hand of mine could caress the face of a woman but it could also slap her. The same theory could apply for this room.”

    The White Sheep sneered:”If there is a man who has lived for almost 50 years can still be tricked by a mere boy, that man must be you! If he wants me to believe his lies, he should come up with some proof! For instance…”

    Xiao Yu’er clapped his hands and smiled:”Come here and I will show you something.”

    He was lying on the ground enjoying the sun, the White Sheep walked over and stood in front of him. All of a sudden the body of Xiao Yu’er slid and his hands and legs attacked the White Sheep. He struck out four fists and kicked at him three times. He performed this series of attacks in one short instant, there was only one person who had studied and created such stances and that man was Li Dazui. This soft of technique looked formidable but is not really useful, why would someone lie on the ground when he is fighting. Unless he was pretending to be ill or injured and wants to launch a sneak attack. Furthermore, there are not too many people who look honest like Li Dazui and have such a vile heart and the tenacity to create such martial arts. If he was not vile, he does not need to pretend to be ill or injured and could not devise such stances. And if he did not look honest, people would not believe him even if he were pretending. So this attack was unique in the realm, it was a trademark of Li Dazui.

    The White Sheep was shocked and leapt up; he did not look like a sheep but like a rabbit. If Xiao Yu’er was not too tired now, the White Sheep would be a dead sheep now.

    Xiao Yu’er sat down cross-legged and grinned:”Do you believe me now?” The White Sheep was still recovering from the shock, but the Yellow Ox bowed to Xiao Yu’re three times and said:”Little exalted uncle, I don’t care how old you are even if you were just three days old if you’re a brother of Li Dazui you will be my exalted little uncle.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”How about the old sheep here?”

    The White Sheep’s eyes flashed and he lifted his head, saying slowly:”How is old master Li doing in the valley?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Good people die early, he is still around.”

    The White Sheep laughed sinisterly:”Everyone in the valley will live at least to be a hundred years. Old master Li will stay there and enjoy the rest he deserves, he won’t come out and be troubled again by worldly affairs.”

    Xiao Yu’er rolled his eyes and laughed:”Normally, he wouldn’t.”

    The White Sheep was startled and said:”How about now?”

    Xiao Yu’er said slowly:”Now. Well, not only is he out but brothers Du and Yin and sister Du are also around. If not how would I dare to walk about on my own.”

    The White Sheep’s face turned white and said:”But they….”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”They have been trapped in that valley for too long now, and they have all mastered some incredible new martial arts which nobody has seen before. If you were them, would you not do the same thing.”

    The White Sheep lowered his head and said:”Yes….do you….Does young master know where they are now?”

    He had lowered his head, but Xiao Yu’er could see that his eyes were still flashing and had a something sinister in them. Xiao Yu’er saw that and just smiled:”They always like to be mysterious, even I do not know where they are now.” The White Sheep was relieved to hear that, but Xiao Yu’er continued:”But who knows? They could be standing behind you now.” The White Sheep was scared again, but he did not dare to look back.

    The Yellow Ox laughed happily:”It would be wonderful if uncle Li would come, we would not have to fear that Murong wretch and her wrath.”

    Xiao Yu’er casually asked:”Have you let her escape?”

    The Yellow Ox sighed:”We are invited by the snake, but we had longed for the treasures of the Murong Manor for a long time.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”The mere thought of the herbal extracts of the Murong Manor just water your mouth.”

    The Yellow Ox smiled wryly:”Unfortunately, that Murong wretch is really clever. Somehow she knew that we would attack and had already left before we came.”

    Xiao Yu’er was shocked and exclaimed:”She ran off?”

    The Yellow Ox hatefully said:”Not only that, she took everything valuable with her. She did not even bother to lock the door. She just left a note [Trespassers, die]. Arrogant little b-itch!”

    Xiao Yu’er agreed:”The arrogant little b-itch!” He guessed the motive why Murong Jiumei had left. Zhang Qing and Tie Xinlan must think that Xiao Yu’er had escaped and they are eager to find him. Murong Jiumei knows that they have a weak spot for Xiao Yu’er and will obviously not reveal where she hid Xiao Yu’er. She would naturally go along with them so she won’t give herself away.

    When he thought of this, he cursed:”That b-itch is not only but she is also vicious. It is a good thing that you burnt her manor down. Who started the fire, I have to buy him a drink….two drinks even.”

    The Yellow Ox said:”The people who started the fire have already left, but we can…”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Yes, we can still drink. We will only stop after drinking a few hundred cups. We can drink while we are on our way. I will take you to see Li Dazui, and when we see someone we like we can even ….well, we will find out what we will do then.”

    The Yellow Ox clapped his hands and said:”Marvellous!”

    Xiao Yu’er asked:”What about you old sheep?”

    The White Sheep stuttered:”I….I….”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”If you don’t want to go, I am not going to force you. When I see brother Dazui, I will just tell him that you were not too keen on seeing him again.”
    The White Sheep said loudly:”Who said that? Old ox, did you hear me say that?” He pulled the Yellow Ox and said:”Let’s go, why are we still standing here.”

    And indeed the three of them travelled together, drinking along the way. Xiao Yu’er noticed that he was a talent in drinking liquor too, he could never become intoxicated. He sometimes wondered what happened to all that wine he drank, it did not even affect a bit. And his belly did not grow.

    The Yellow Ox and the White Sheep obeyed his every command, Xiao Yu’er never had to worry about eating, drinking and sleeping arrangements. They took care of it for him. While they were travelling, the two of them did not even question where Xiao Yu’er was taking them. These two demons of the 12 Zodiacs were totally obedient to this young boy; nobody would believe this if they did not see it.

    On their way they saw a lot of Wulin people, whenever those Wulin people saw them they would turn around or evade them. Some of these people did not recognize whom they met, but they quite taken by the strange looks of the ox and sheep and nobody dare to mess with them.

    After entering Yanmen Pass, Xiao Yu’er noticed that some people were following them but kept a noticeable distance. Wherever they went, they would follow. But they all looked respectful and did not speak; it is obvious that they were not here to trouble them.

    Xiao Yu’er looked at the ox and the sheep to see if their faces changed. But there was nothing on their faces; Xiao Yu’er did not say anything. After arriving at Jiange, they found an inn and lodged there.

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Qu wine and spicy hot chicken, excellent!”

    The Yellow Ox agreed and laughed. Normally, if Xiao Yu’er would say something they would immediately bring it over. But today they just sat there. After some time Xiao Yu’er said:”If it is good, why won’t you get some for us?” The Yellow Ox laughed:”From today onwards, we won’t have to get things personally.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Do you expect me to do it?” The White Sheep said:”We wouldn’t dare to trouble young master to do such lowly jobs.” Xiao Yu’er said:”But if we don’t do it and we don’t notify the proprietor who will bring the dishes of food and bottles of wine. It won’t drop from the sky.”

    The Yellow Ox chortled:”Just wait and see.”

    Xiao Yu’er walked up and down in the room a few times, suddenly someone knocked three times on the door. When they opened the door nobody was there but on the floor there was platter with a plate of spicy hot chicken, a plate of deep-fried pork, a plate with some small cold food, a plate with to fish cooked with tofu and a large bowl of chicken soup and one big bottle of wine, it was fragrant and it was the Qu wine Xiao Yu’er mentioned before.

    Xiao Yu’er blinked his eyes and laughed:”The two of you know magic.”

    The Yellow Ox laughed:”This isn’t magic, but really filial sons showing proper respect to their elders.” Xiao Yu’er said:”Hmm?” The White Sheep said:”On our way here, did young master see all those people respectfully following us?”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”I thought you just ignored them.” The Yellow Ox said:”Those are our filial sons and grandsons.” Xiao Yu’er said:”They are your disciples.”

    The Yellow Ox laughed:”What useless disciples! We don’t even know them” Xiao Yu’er asked:”But why do they follow you?” The Yellow Ox laughed:”Everyone knows in the realm that whenever the 12 Zodiacs appear, they will be after something invaluable. These sons and grandsons are afraid to do something grand. We, 12 Zodiacs, are only interested in the most valuable items and will usually leave the gold and silver alone. And those scavengers can pick some rather valuable assets here and there.”

    The White Sheep said:”Wherever the 12 Zodiacs go, we are always welcomed by friends of the bandit world. If they receive any news, they will even report it to us.”

    Xiao Yu’er applauded them and laughed:”No wonder that the 12 Zodiacs are so wealthy and feared, you have eyes and hands everywhere.”

    The Yellow Ox laughed:”But this time they are barking up the wrong tree, this time they will gain nothing.”

    The White Sheep laughed too:”But they are bringing food over out of their own free will. So, we don’t need to be polite.” Their laughter was loud but their voices stayed low.

    They travelled very comfortably, no matter what they wanted they just had to say it loudly and it would be presented to them. After passing the pass earlier, Xiao Yu’er did not travel east anymore he changed direction to the southwest. They passed through Mianyang, Longquan, Mount Mei and finally they were near Mount Emei. Xiao Yu’er seemed to know the way and wherever he went he just needed to know the name of the place and then he would know what road to take. The scenery of Sichuan province was different from the prairie. Xiao Yu’er was rather happy here; he loved the spicy food and the fine wine.

    When they arrived at Emei, he snuck out when the ox and sheep were not paying attention. He would come back when it was very late in the night, the ox and sheep did not ask him where he went. And he did not tell them anything either. He did the same thing the second day and came back late at night. He did the same thing three days in a row. The two of them were very obedient and did not dare to say a word, it seemed that they feared Li Dazui a lot even after all these years.
    The Ten Great Malevolents were not to be trifled with.

    On the third day, Xiao Yu’er was wandering about in the market; there were Wulin people in almost all the inns, restaurants and such. All of them sat at their tables drinking and eating silently.

    Xiao Yu’er did not know what the names were of these people, or if they were bandits or members of orthodox schools. They could even be famous heroes or unknown characters.

    From time to time, Xiao Yu’er would see Taoist priests carrying swords. They carried long and thin swords and looked very conceited, it seemed that they looked down upon everyone. Sometimes they would carefully observe people, it did not seem that they were just taking a stroll in the city. They all looked a bit worried. Xiao Yu’er knew that these Taoist priests must belong to the Emei School. The Emei swordsmanship is renowned for being swift and vicious, the disciples of the school would of course be quite arrogant. Besides, this is their terrain, the foot of Mount Emei. It was only natural that they would feel proud and carefully watch people here; nobody would question their motives here.

    Xiao Yu’er bought a fragrant pouch, half a catty of pork tendons, and half a catty of beef before returning to the inn. When he returned he fought the table full of food, the ox and sheep were waiting for him. The food was getting cold but still they waited for the return of Xiao Yu’er. Xiao Yu’er laughed:”The two of you are very attached to this room, you haven’t left the room for two days now. It is quite nice outside.”

    The Yellow Ox said wryly:”We know that it is nice outside, but with our reputation and seeing that is Mount Emei we cannot go out.”

    Xiao Yu’er asked:”Are those damned Taoists of Mount Emei really that formidable?”

    The Yellow Ox sighed:”Let us not talk about that, let me pour you a drink first.”

    Xiao Yu’er took out what he bought and laughed:”The proprietor of the shop where I bought this has a secret recipe of preparing this beef and tendons. He would soak the meat with wine several decades old and that is why it tastes better than normal dried beef and such. Have some.”

    The Yellow Ox laughed:”Those so-called sons and grandsons have sent a lot of food over, my exalted uncle did not need to waste your money.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”I just wanted to taste something else.” The White Sheep said:”In that case, thank you “ He helped himself to some beef and praised it. Well, the Yellow Ox had already eaten five pieces.

    Xiao Yu’er drank two cups of wine, although he was not drunk he was feeling euphoric and laughed:”It seems that Emei swordsmanship is really quite good, all those Wulin people were very silent and looked very pensive. Sooner or later I would like to see how good it is.”

    The Yellow Ox laughed:”All those accursed Taoists will run away when they see you.”

    The White Sheep looked at the pouch, he said:”Do you really want to go up Mount Emei, sir?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”I wanted to go up with the two of you, but since you cannot go I will have to go alone.”

    The Yellow Ox asked:”When will you depart, sir?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Tomorrow morning.”

    The Yellow Ox sighed:”It is a shame that your plans have changed, sir.”

    Xiao Yu’er frowned and asked:”What change?”

    The Yellow Ox laughed at him, his laugh was very strange.

    The White Sheep smiled evilly:”You little bastard! Don’t you know yet?”

    The [sir] was dropped now and he called him a little bastard instead. Xiao Yu’er was shocked, but he got up and slammed his hand very hard on the table, he angrily said:”You old goat! How dare…”

    But soon he sat down again, his body felt weak all over. The White Sheep laughed:”Little bastard, do you now know why?”

    Xiao Yu’er fell down on the floor and said:”There was poison in the wine.”

    The Yellow Ox proudly laughed:”We were afraid that we could not trick you, so we drank with you and from the same bottle. The only difference is that we took an antidote before drinking.”

    Xiao Yu’er asked:”Why did you this?”

    The White Sheep said:”Why do you think we went to the Murong Manor? Do you really think those useless herbs of theirs can interest us? The herbal medicines of the Murong family cannot attract the attention of the 12 Zodiacs.”

    The Yellow Ox said:”To tell you the truth we came for you.” The White Sheep said:”In the world you are the only one who knows the location of Yan Nantian’s treasure. Old snake had posted a number of spies near the Murong Manor. He alerted us via carrier pigeons and when we arrived that Murong wretch had already left.”

    The Yellow Ox said:”We looked everywhere for you but we could not find you, in our anger we set fire to the manor.” The White Sheep said:”When the manor was burnt down, we saw the stone house. We thought that you might have offended that Murong girl and was locked inside.”

    The Yellow Ox said:”Offending is quite easily with her strange temper….”

    When Xiao Yu’er heard this he sighed and asked:”But why were there only you two?”

    The Yellow Ox laughed:”We knew that you were a diabolical, cunning little bastard. If we forced you, you might even think of a few cunning plans to escape or even spout nonsense to confuse us. What is worse would be if you managed to escape us.” The White Sheep said:”Our good friend the Yellow Ox deduced that the first place you would go to was the location of the Yan Nantian treasure. So he came up with a good plan to lead you on.”

    Xiao Yu’er carefully looked at the Yellow Ox and asked:”Was it really you?”

    The Yellow Ox said:”Surprised?”

    Xiao Yu’er was drugged by them and could not move anymore, he just sighed:”You really cannot judge a man by his looks. A stupid ox can be as cunning as a fox, that is something I never imagined could happen.”

    The White Sheep chuckled:”Uncountable people in Wulin have been tricked by him. You, little bastard are not the first one. Why all the sighing?”

    Xiao Yu’er asked:”But how did you know….”

    The Yellow Ox asked:”I know that you travelled together with the daughter of Tie Zhan, so he had to know the Ten Great Malevolents. I just randomly picked a name of them and you took the bait.”

    Xiao Yu’er smiled wryly:”A luck hit and I must be lucky these days.”

    The Yellow Ox said:”When you saw that we were that easily tricked by you, you were very proud of yourself, weren’t you? Fortunately, you are diabolical little monster that is why our plan worked perfectly. You did not suspect a thing.”

    Xiao Yu’er sighed:”I was surprised to see you all so obedient and friendly, because the 12 Zodiacs are ruthless thugs. Unfortunately, I was still deceived by you….”

    The Yellow Ox laughed:”You think you’re very smart, but you still have a lot to learn before you can roam the realm.”

    The White Sheep said:”The 12 Zodiacs are not fools. If we did not have our motives, we would not play along with you. Even if Li Dazui was here, we would not fear him.”

    The Yellow Ox said:”Initially we wanted to dispose after we have found the treasure. But you are too slippery, so we had to use other means of incapacitating you.”

    The White Sheep said:”Since we now know that the treasure is on Mount Emei and we are not far from it, we are not afraid of your little feeble tricks.”

    The Yellow Ox laughed evilly:”If you will tell us where the treasure is we might even spare your life. You’re a smart boy, you will make the right choice, won’t you?”

    Xiao Yu’er looked at them for some time and then started to laugh very hard. It looked like he was very happy and pleased.

    The White Sheep angrily said:”You little bastard, do you really think we have no means to make you talk!”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Old bastard, do you really think I have fallen for your trick?”

    The Yellow Ox laughed:”What devious plan do you still have? Tell us.”

    Xiao Yu’er sighed:”Well, I am willing to tell you. But I am afraid when I am just in the middle of my story, you are dead.”

    The Yellow Ox laughed:”Really?”

    Xiao Yu’er grinned:”Not true, there was no poison on the beef you ate earlier. No poison at all.”

    Before Xiao Yu’er finished his sentence, the Yellow Ox could not laugh anymore. The White Sheep’s face changed and he grabbed his Xiao Yu’er’s jacket, he said:”You little bastard, what did you say?”

    Xiao Yu’er smiled:”I just said I was a fool. I knew I was going treasure hunting tomorrow and I did not want you to follow me, but I could not bear to poison you two. Instead I put the poison on those tendons and beef.”

    Before Xiao Yu’er had finished, the White Sheep was terrified. He shouted:”Give us…us the antidote!”

    Xiao Yu’er grinned:”Yes, of course. I should really give you the antidote. I really should even if you tried to dispose of me. Don’t forget, you need me to find the treasure, I don’t need you. The effects of immobilizing drugs can wear off, but poison is lethal.”

    The Yellow Ox suddenly laughed and pulled the White Sheep up, he grinned:”Yes, we are the fools. We don’t know anything, you have to tell us that we are poisoned and then we really are poisoned.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Of course, don’t believe me. But if you would press the spot next to your Rugen acupoint under your fifth rib, you won’t find anything wrong. Don’t even try to press it.”

    When Xiao Yu’er said [Don’t even try to press it], the ox and the sheep had already pressed that spot. And when they did, their faces became whiter than paper. They looked at each other back and forth and did not move.

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”It is nothing, it just feels a bit numb. You won’t die anytime soon, you can always kill me first.” He told them to kill him first, but they would never do something like that now. Who would give them the antidote if Xiao Yu’er died? Xiao Yu’er laughed:”If I were you, I would first give me the antidote of the immobilizing drug. And if you would listen carefully to my words and stay obedient…..”

    The Yellow Ox protested:”But after you have your antidote, how do we know you will give us our antidote.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Yes, you don’t need to the antitoxin. I will give you your antidote first.”

    The White Sheep and the Yellow Ox looked at each other; suddenly they walked over to Xiao Yu’er.

    Xiao Yu’er slowly said:”Some types of venom cannot be cured with conventional methods. Besides, apart from the user no one knows what the poison can do. But if you don’t believe, try and see if you’re lucky.”

    Both of them stopped walking, their lives were at stake now.

    They both thought: [We could always kill him after taking the antidote, making false promises or swearing is what we do best.]

    The two of them knelt down and swore that they would obey Xiao Yu’er no matter what, and then they respectfully fed Xiao Yu’er the antidote to the immobilizing drug. Everything else can wait, but not their lives. After some time, Xiao Yu’er could get up he dusted away the dust on his clothes and laughed:”The drug and antidote of the 12 Zodiacs are very effective.” The Yellow Ox laughed:”I think your antitoxin must be very effective too, sir.”

    Xiao Yu’er asked:”What antitoxin?”

    The two of them felt that someone punched them in their stomachs. Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Don’t worry, I was just joking.” He smiled and took out a small bottle, saying:”The antidote was on me all the time, if you just searched me earlier…(* sigh). Sometimes you must not blindly believe the words of others.”

    The two of them were furious and could strangle this brat, but first they had to save their own lives. The Yellow Ox grabbed the bottle and immediately poured some of the antitoxin in his mouth.

    The White Sheep’s face changed and said:”Why do you have take that much?” The Yellow Ox grinned:”I am bigger than you, so I have to take a bit more.”

    The White Sheep angrily took the bottle and poured the remaining contents down his throat. They both stared at Xiao Yu’er and were thinking: [There is nowhere to run now, you little bastard].

    Xiao Yu’er looked back at them and asked:”Does that spot still hurt?”

    They both pressed and the numbness was gone.

    The White Sheep laughed:”It is very effective.” The Yellow Ox laughed sinisterly:”Where do you….”

    Xiao Yu’er loudly interrupted him with laughter:”The spot I told you to press was where your blood flows make contact, even a slight pinch pain and numbness can occur. Now your blood flows have moved on, it is natural that the pain is gone.”

    They were furious and shocked when they heard that.

    The White Sheep roared:”You lying little bastard!”

    Xiao Yu’er grinned:”Yes, I lied to two old bastards. You have to think here, I did not cook the beef how could I have put poison in it. And if I did, why should I save you.”

    The Yellow Ox laughed loudly too:”You’re clever, but we’re not complete idiots either. Although you have taken the antidote of the immobilizing drug you cannot fully use strength for another hour. We can kill you right now.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Really?”

    The Yellow Ox laughed evilly:”No, we won’t kill you. I just want to cut off your ears, half your nose and chop off one of your hands and legs.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Hmm, I am really afraid.”

    The Yellow Ox said:”No need to be afraid, we are not Li Dazui. We will just feed your flesh to dogs.”

    With every word he said, he moved one step forward towards Xiao Yu’er.

    Xiao Yu’er did not look at him and just counted softly:”1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, …..”

    When he reached seven, the huge palm of the Yellow Ox hacked at him but Xiao Yu’er did not move.

    Before his palm made contact the Yellow Ox’s body swayed and his face changed colour. He suddenly fell down and was foaming at the mouth.

    The White Sheep was shocked and said:”What is going on?”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”The beef was not poisoned but the so-called antidote is poison. He ate most of it, so he noticed the effects sooner than you.”

    The White Sheep angrily roared and leapt up, but in midair his body dropped like a brick. And when he fell down he bumped his head very hard, a lump was forming.

    Xiao Yu’er laughed and clapped his hands:”Now you’ve turned into a goat.”

    He was still laughing loudly when someone outside sighed:”It is an utter disgrace that two full grown men can be deceived this easily by a mere boy. How can you face your peers afterwards?”


    Xiao Yu’er saw that the window was opened and a man looking a snake slithered in. He looked slimy and smooth; it was the Azure Serpent Lord.

    Xiao Yu’er rolled his eyes and laughed:”Long time no see, how are you doing? Take a seat and have a drink.” The Azure Serpent Lord smiled evilly:”I created that immobilizing drug, nobody in this world knows the effects better than me. It is futile of you to think you can stall time, even if you managed to speak a hundred words to buy some time it is still not possible for you to use your internal energy.”

    Xiao Yu’er sighed:”It seems that I cannot escape my fate today. Most unfortunate.”

    The Azure Serpent Lord replied:”Very true.” He looked at the ox and the sheep; they only managed to make some humming noises. Their limbs and muscles have gone stiff and they could not blink their eyes. This poison was more lethal than the venom of the Azure Serpent Lord. When he saw this, his face changed a bit and exclaimed:”The zombie powder of Yin Jiuyou.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Excellent deduction! These two good brothers here did not take enough of it. After an hour they will be as stiff as zombies, they won’t die but they can’t walk about anymore. A sheep and an ox jumping around in the market, that must be a hilarious sight.”

    When the White Sheep and Yellow Ox hear this, they broke out in a cold sweat and hummed even harder. The Azure Serpent Lord said:”Do you want me to save you?”

    The two of them tried to nod very hard, but it just seemed that they just moved their heads slightly.

    The Azure Serpent Lord smiled sinisterly:”One treasure divided by three, everyone will only have a small portion. Furthermore, I could remember that you two promised me to leave some secret markings behind so I can follow you. But somehow I could not find those markings. Fortunately, I know you too well and arranged some of my own people amongst those so-called sons and grandsons of yours if not I could not catch up with you.”

    The White Sheep and The Yellow Ox sweated even harder now, there was fear in their eyes. The Azure Serpent Lord laughed:”Since you always like to pretend to be ghastly, it is only fitting that you will become real zombies.”

    He stopped laughing and walked over to Xiao Yu’er.

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”If you want to seal my acupoints, I suggest you would be gentle. I can’t use my internal strength now so if you use too much strength I might die and then it is all over.”

    The Azure Serpent Lord laughed sinisterly:”In that case I won’t seal your acupoints. I will just tell my [azure silk] to bite you and I promise it won’t hart. It will feel like you are being hugged by a woman.”

    While he was talking, an azure small snake crawled out of his sleeve. The snake was almost the size of a worm, but it was very fast and its’ tongue was fiery red, it looked very scary.

    Even Xiao Yu’er was a bit startled. The brocade of the Azure Serpent Lord was like a nest full of snakes; in a short while ten odd little azure snakes as thin as worms and as long as chopsticks crawled out. They all crawled up Xiao Yu’er’s body, some were around his neck, others crawled around his face, back, in his clothes and even in his boots. They feeling of a dozen cold snakes crawling up and down your body is really disgusting and repulsive.

    Xiao Yu’er felt numb all over and did not dare to move.

    The Azure Serpent Lord raised his thumb and middle finger and said:”All I have to do is snap my fingers all you instantly be hugged and kissed by these little maidens. Except for you nobody in this world can have the luck of being kissed by these lovely beauties all the same time.”

    Xiao Yu’er sighed:”If being hugged women really feels like this, no wonder that smart people become Buddhist monks of Taoist priests.”

    The Azure Serpent Lord smiled evilly:”You haven’t even…”

    Xiao Yu’er loudly interrupted:”Please stop, I really can’t take this.”

    The Azure Serpent Lord asked:”Are you begging me now?”

    Xiao Yu’er smiled wryly:”Where do you want to go, I will lead the way.” The Azure Serpent Lord’s eyes glittered and he was so happy that he could hardly speak:”The….Is the treasure really on Mount Emei?”

    Xiao Yu’er replied:”Yes, it is.” The Azure Serpent Lord swallowed his saliva, he said:”So, tonight I could see the treasure with my own eyes?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Not only that, you can even take it away.” The Azure Serpent Lord leapt up and said:”Let us go now.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”What…what about these snakes?”

    The Azure Serpent Lord laughed:”I will allow these beauties to keep you company, don’t you feel honoured?”

    Xiao Yu’er looked wryly and said:”But how can I walk with these beauties on me?”

    The Azure Serpent Lord said:”I know I don’t have the ability to watch you the entire time. So they will do it for me, if you’re obedient they will stay friendly too. But if you move about too much or try to run, they might bite you….one small bite….hahahahaha!”

    He started to laugh very loudly, his laughter sounded hideous. Xiao Yu’er had no choice but to obey, he would not even cough if it were not allowed. He has never been more obedient than this in his life.

    When they left the door, the White Sheep and Yellow Ox were humming very loudly. It sounded like begging, crying or even cursing, anyone with a heart would feel sorry for them. Unfortunately, the Azure Serpent Lord had no heart and Xiao Yu’er was in dire straits himself, he did not have the ability to save himself now let alone others. A waiter smilingly walked over and said:”Young master, what….”

    Before he was finished he saw Xiao Yu’er and screamed loudly and then fainted, he thought he saw a ghost.

    Xiao Yu’er smiled wryly:”I must look very handsome now, a snake hanging from each ear. Another two snakes around my neck and another two around my wrists. I should give these beauties to Murong Jiumei.”

    He was muttering to himself and the Azure Serpent Lord did not pay any notice to it.

    Xiao Yu’er said:”The map was very detailed, it took my two nights to fully calculate its’ position. I did not anticipate that you would end claiming the treasure.”

    The Azure Serpent Lord asked:”Is the entrance at the front or at the back?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”At the back…” Before he finished, the Azure Serpent Lord had covered his head with a black cotton sack.

    The Azure Serpent Lord said coldly:”From now on, you don’t need to lead the way. If you’re smart you will just follow me and not try to attract someone’s attention.”

    Xiao Yu’er sighed in his heart, but he laughed:”Why should I attract someone’s attention? I only have enemies in this world, I don’t have friends.”

    The Azure Serpent Lord shouted:”Silence!” Xiao Yu’er sighed:”Can’t I even talk?” He was like a blind and mute man now, he could only follow silently. If the Azure Serpent Lord increased his speed, he had to follow and if he walked slowly Xiao Yu’er had to do the same thing. Xiao Yu’er did not know how long they walked and where they went.

    Suddenly, Xiao Yu’er was pulled away into the bushes by the Azure Serpent Lord. Xiao Yu’er thought: [Could he have seen some powerful adversaries?]
    The Azure Serpent Lord whispered into his ear:”Don’t make a noise or else…”

    Xiao Yu’er could no hear voices several ten metres away:”How could Tie Xinlan just disappear like that?”

    The voice was very lovely, but Xiao Yu’er was startled when he heard that voice, it was Zhang Qing. Why was she here? Another voice said:”Maybe she noticed us.”

    That voice was cold and lovely, it belonged to Murong Jiumei. Xiao Yu’er’s heart skipped a beat and hoped they would come over, normally he would run away as fast as he could if he saw or heard them. He felt that although they were his enemies but they were also very close to him.

    Zhang Qing said:”We followed her here, and she did not even notice us. How could she have detected anything now? She looks all confused and woozy, she must be thinking of that rascal. She would not even detect an entire crowd behind her.”

    Murong Jiumei said indifferently:”So, why are you afraid that we can’t find her?”

    Zhang Qing said:”I am just afraid….afraid…”

    Murong Jiumei scoffed:”You’re just afraid that you can’t find that rascal, right?”

    Zhang Qing said:”You’re right. I am really afraid that I can’t find that rascal and that I can’t rip out his heart and see what colour it is.”

    Murong Jiumei said coldly:”No need to look, it is bound to be black.”

    The voice slowly died out, they have moved on.

    Xiao Yu’er could almost call out, but if he did the snakes would bite him and that will be the end of him.

    He could only be patient. From their conversation, Xiao Yu’er understood that they deliberately let Tie Xinlan go, so that they could follow her. It was a simple but good plan, which is very effective. But where is Tie Xinlan now?

    Tie Xinlan is not interested in the treasure; she just wants to wait for Xiao Yu’er. She knew that Xiao Yu’er would come to Mount Emei, so she would await him here. But Murong Jiumei knew that Xiao Yu’er was still trapped in the stone icehouse, why would she come here too? Was she interested in the treasure? But that is very unfitting for a cold woman like her. Xiao Yu’er rolled his eyes but he could think of the reason. The Azure Serpent Lord said sternly:”Did you tell others about the location of the treasure?”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Do you think I will tell others?”

    The Azure Serpent Lord said:”But who else could know about this place except you?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”That Yan Nantian should probably know too.”

    The Azure Serpent Lord felt relieved and said:”This is the back of Mount Emei, you can lead now.”

    Xiao Yu’er could see again and the sack was gone, it was night now but it was good to see the stars again after being blind for an entire day.

    Mount Emei is famous for its’ dangerous cliffs and if you would look down your heart will skip a beat.

    This was one of the more desolate and high places of Mount Emei, there were fog everywhere here. Xiao Yu’er wanted to climb as fast as he could and leave the Azure Serpent Lord behind, but with all those snakes on him he would not dare to do so. And with more than ten snakes crawling about, how could he climb fast. After climbing for two hours, both of them were panting heavily. The Azure Serpent Lord panted:”Are we there yet?” Xiao Yu’er said:”Are you complaining now? If it was not for me, you would not find the treasure even if you knew it was in this area.”

    Suddenly the Azure Serpent Lord laughed:”You’re a very clever boy, even more clever than me.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”You’re right about that. Before we find the treasure you might as well flatter up to me. After finding the treasure you can kill me and chop me up in small pieces.”

    The Azure Serpent Lord said friendly:”Don’t worry after finding the treasure I won’t kill you. I will treat you nicely….”

    All of a sudden he roared:”Come out, you little bastard!”

    While he was feeling mighty proud, Xiao Yu’er had disappeared. The Azure Serpent Lord broke out in a cold sweat and shouted:”Come out now, if you don’t I will whistle and the snakes will instantly bite you. You can’t run, come out now!”

    But in the darkness, there was no sign of Xiao Yu’er. The Azure Serpent Lord was jumping up and down, saying:”Those snakes of mine only obey me, without me you can never remove them. Think carefully about that.”

    Suddenly he heard someone laughing behind him:”I am here, why are you so anxious?”

    The Azure Serpent Lord looked for some time and finally saw an entrance to a cave.

    Xiao Yu’er crawled inside and laughed:”Crawl inside too, this is the entrance to the treasure.”

    The Azure Serpent Lord was fuming but now his anger was gone. He crawled in and felt the cold air in the cave, he shivered and sighed:”It is remarkable that Yan Nantian could find somewhere like this to hide his treasure.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Only places like this can safeguard a treasure.”

    The Azure Serpent Lord laughed happily:”Only with the map of Yan Nantian could one find such a secretive place. Otherwise, no one can find it. Yan Nantian, Yan Nantian. You wasted so many energy and time to find this place but in the end your treasure has been found.”

    It was a very secret place here and the Azure Serpent Lord was thinking about the treasure he was about to find. He felt very happy and did not feel the cold anymore.

    But the cave was very dark, the Azure Serpent Lord took out a paper flint, the flint was small but the fire was very bright.

    He laughed happily:”Do you see this flint? To tell you the truth, I have been preparing for this journey for a long time now. I used 300 taels of silver to buy this flint of the hand so the Fire Crow. It can be lit for an entire day and won’t go out.”

    However, the fire did go out. Xiao Yu’er laughed very loud:”Some special flint!”

    The Azure Serpent Lord angrily said:”That Fire Crow has a lot of nerves to deceive me!”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”You can’t blame him, perhaps the fire could not withstand your arrogant breath.”

    Suddenly Xiao Yu’er stepped on something and tripped. The Azure Serpent Lord made a small cry of surprise too, the flint was lit again and both cried out of shock and stared at the ground. On the ground were three corpses, the three men in expensive brocades and holding sharp swords that shone brightly in the fire. The bodies were all curled up, it seemed that these three men died a horrible death.

    Upon touch they felt cold, they were dead for some time now. But their limbs were still flexible, meaning that they could not have been dead for more than two hours.

    The Azure Serpent Lord turned over the bodies and looked at the face, the three men looked alike and the hand of the Azure Serpent Lord began to tremble. Xiao Yu’er asked:”Do you recognize them?”

    The Azure Serpent Lord said:”The Three Swords of Jinlin, united they stand!”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Hmm, they are famous martial artists.”

    The Azure Serpent Lord said:”Not only famous, but they are first rate martial arts experts. But if the location of the treasure has not leaked out how come that they came here.”

    Xiao Yu’er frowned too and said:”That is strange.” The Azure Serpent Lord sternly said:”What is strange?”

    Xiao Yu’er shrugged and explained friendly:”These three are dead, why worry?”

    The Azure Serpent Lord angrily said:”They are dead, but their killer could be around. This killer was able to kill the Three Swords of Jinlin, he must be a terrible opponent.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Who could that be? And who did he find out about this place?”

    The Azure Serpent Lord gritted his teeth and said:”How can you now know? You must have told them. Yan Nantian went through all this effort to bury his treasure and there is only one map. And the only map was….”

    All of a sudden the flint went out again.

    The Azure Serpent Lord now knew someone was responsible for putting out the fire, he took three steps back and leant against a wall, he shouted:”Who is out there!”

    In the dark a voice said:”You’re right, the killer is still here. And I am the killer.”

    The voice sounded calm and was slow; there was nothing strange to it. But because the sound sounded too normal, it sounded extra eerie in this cave.

    Even someone like the Azure Serpent Lord’s face changed and shivered, he said:”Who…who are you?”

    The voice said:”Do you really want to know who I am?”

    The Azure Serpent Lord gritted his teeth and picked up the flint, in the light he could see a man in a grey robe walking in the cave. His face was greyish; you could not see his eyes, nose. His face looked like a dried up lemon, and looked hideous. Xiao Yu’er knew that this man wore a mask, but even so he felt frightened. But why did he cover his eyes as well, but he could move about like nothing was wrong. Being blindfolded is not very pleasant; Xiao Yu’er experienced that just a while ago. The Azure Serpent Lord broke out in a cold sweat and said:”You’re the Grey Bat?”

    The man in grey smiled faintly:”Have you taken a good look?”

    The Azure Serpent Lord said:”The Owl must….”

    Suddenly he stopped talking and stood still, he did not move. It was like he was turned into a statue holding a flint, but he was still sweating heavily.

    Xiao Yu’er saw someone walking up to him from his behind; there was nothing strange about this man except for his eyes. His eyes were hideously big and very bright.

    The man in grey smiled:”If the Grey Bat is here, the Owl cannot be far away. Remember to watch your rear when you’re talking to someone in front of you.” With that a palm ended the life of the Azure Serpent Lord.

    The Owl looked at Xiao Yu’er and chuckled:”I would like to ask you, how did you find this place?”

    His voice really sounded like an owl, no wonders this man’s nickname was the Owl.

    Xiao Yu’er blinked his eyes and said:”It was you who told us.”

    The Owl said with surprise:”Me?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”There is only one map to the Yan Nantian’s treasure. If you did not tell me how would we find this place? And you needed our help to dispose of the Grey Bat and claim the treasure for your own. Why do you go back on your words? Have you asked the help of others?”

    He put his hands on his waist and stared at the Owl, his lie was very convincing.

    The Owl was furious and his face had turned red, he angrily shouted:”How dare you make such false accusations! You have a powerful forked tongue like your teacher at a young age, what will become of you when you grow up!” He was of the impression that Xiao Yu’er was the student of the Azure Serpent Lord.

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Yes, kill me now! So no one will know about your evil plans!”

    The Owl roared:”I will rid the world of this little monster right now.”

    He raised his hands and his fingers formed claws like an eagle and he aimed at the throat and chest of Xiao Yu’er.

    Xiao Yu’er did not move, he was a bit afraid of the snake’s bite than those eagle claws. The claws were almost at him when suddenly stood in front of him. It was the Grey Bat, saying:”How can you kill a mere boy?”

    The Owl retracted his attack, his face changed and said:”Why do you stop me? Do you believe the lies of this boy?”

    The Grey Bat said casually:”I thought it was strange why so many people could find this place, since we have the only map.”

    The Owl shouted:”We have known each other for 20 years, don’t you trust me?”

    The Grey Bat said:”Blind people are often deceived by people, we are a bit more paranoid than others.”

    The Owl stamped his feet and said:”Very well! I think you want to have the treasure for your own, you’re just finding an excuse to attack me. People told me that blind people are difficult lot, it is a shame that I did listen…”

    The Grey Bat put out the fire with his palm. Xiao Yu’er took three steps back and heard the Owl shout:”You really want to kill me!”

    There was a series of fist and palm exchange.

    Xiao Yu’er thought: [Owl, you will not survive this fight.]

    The Grey Bat was blind and was accustomed in the dark, although the Owl could see in the dark he was still in a disadvantage.

    And then Xiao Yu’er heard a cracking sound, like bones being shattered. He heard the Owl say:”You will…will regret this one day!”

    With that his voice died out.

    The Grey Bat said calmly:”Little child, where are you?”

    Xiao Yu’er covered his breathing and did not move, he knew that after killing the Azure Serpent Lord and the Owl he would be next.

    The Grey Bat breathed normally and said friendly:”Little brother, why won’t you talk? You exposed his evil plans I would like to thank you.”

    While he was talking he was walking towards Xiao Yu’er, blind people can sense better than others. Xiao Yu’er had covered his breathing, but the Grey Bat could feel the body warmth coming from Xiao Yu’er. His steps were closer and closer, Xiao Yu’er was sweating heavily.

    The Grey Bat said friendly:”Here you are, why aren’t you running?”

    Xiao Yu’er saw the hand of the Grey Bat reaching out to him, Xiao Yu’er did not move.

    The hand of the Grey Bat were almost at his throat and slowly said:”I won’t let you suffer, just a gentle press and you will die very peacefully and without pain. Don’t blame me, but the treasure cannot be divided into two.”

    All of a sudden he yelled and took two steps back, he said with a shaky voice:”Your neck….Your neck…”

    His fingers were almost at the throat of Xiao Yu’er and the snake around Xiao Yu’er’s neck bit his fingers. And the Grey Bat was blind and could not see the snakes.

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Great having snakes on your body, isn’t it? How can a mere blind fellow like you kill me.”

    The Grey Bat shouted:”Snake….Snake….”

    He shouted loudly and stared to run, but after taking the tenth step he fell down.

    Xiao Yu’er was both happy and shocked. He was happy because his adversaries are dead now, he was shocked to see how lethal those snakes were.

    He took a deep breath and muttered:”Grey Bat, if you were not that vicious and wanted to grab my throat you would not be dead now. The snakes that wanted to harm me have saved me now, the world is filled with contradictions.”

    He sat down now, he was totally exhausted. Only Xiao Yu’er was capable of turning the tables around in such situations.

    He found the flint of the Azure Serpent Lord, but he did not dare to move too frantically those snake beauties were deadly. He sighed:”Maggots attached to the bone! How do I get rid of these snakes? I might as well die.”

    All of a sudden there was some light and a tall man in expensive brocade with a big beard walked this way. He looked very tough and proud. Xiao Yu’er was shocked and the man was also surprised to see Xiao Yu’er surrounded with corpses. He took three steps back and raised his palm in front of his chest, he said sternly:”Who are you?”

    Xiao Yu’er rolled his eyes and asked:”Who are you?”

    The man in the expensive brocade said proudly:”Don’t you even recognize me? How can you roam the realm?”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”In other words, you must be rather famous.”

    The man said loudly:”I am the leader of 17 joint guard agencies. Also named the [Power that moves mountains and rivers, copper fists and iron palms shaking China] Zhao Quanhai. You must have heard of this name before!”

    Xiao Yu’er smiled:”An impressive and long name, but do you know who I am?”

    That Zhao Quanhai scoffed:”Who are you, why should I know who you are?”

    Xiao Yu’er sneered:”I am [the Saint of 10,000 serpents, the sage of 10,000 swords, the king of kings, undefeated throughout the 63 provinces of China, earthshaking “Yu Wangzi”]. Have you heard of this name?”

    He said that long nickname in one go and Zhao Quanhai was really quite shocked by that name and said:”I have never heard of that name before.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Even if you haven’t heard of my name, your teacher must have. He must know who I am, most of the older generation in realm al show great respect when they see me.”

    Zhao Quanhai angrily said:”You little brat, how dare you spout nonsense like that!”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Do you think I am very young?”

    Zhao Quanhai said:”You’re even too young to be my son.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Do you know when you’ve reached the ultimate level of perfection in martial arts, you will be able to rejuvenate?”

    Zhao Quanhai was a bit stunned and looked at Xiao Yu’er; he did not know what to believe.

    Xiao Yu’er said:”I have already killed too many today, I really don’t want to engage anymore people. You look like a good fellow, I will let you go.”

    Zhao Quanhai angrily shouted:”I will not be chased away by a few words!”

    Xiao Yu’er sneered:”Take a look at the bodies and see if you can recognize them.”

    Zhao Quanhai bent down to have a look, suddenly he was extremely startled and said:”The Three Swords of Jinlin? The Grey Bat, the Owl? And…..and…?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Don’t you recognize the Azure Serpent Lord of the 12 Zodiacs?”

    Zhao Quanhai shivered and asked:”Were they all killed by you?”

    Xiao Yu’er said calmly:”That is nothing. I just want to ask you how are your martial arts compared to them?”

    Zhao Quanhai was stunned for a while and said valiantly:”I have gone through a lot of troubles to get here. If old master wants me to leave I will, but I cannot leave in peace.”

    He told Xiao Yu’er he did not want to go, but he had changed the manner of addressing Xiao Yu’er.

    Xiao Yu’er smiled:”What do you want?”

    Zhao Quanhai said:”Old master, I would like to see your martial arts so I can leave in peace.”

    He looked crude, but he was quite a careful man. He did not become the leader of the 17 joined guard agencies by pure luck.

    Xiao Yu’er remained calm and said:”You would like to see my martial arts, that is very easy. If you can manage to kill all the snakes on me without harming you, I will let you have the treasure.”

    Zhao Quanhai’s eyes glittered and asked:”Really?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”An old master does not lie to young ones.” Zhao Quanhai walked over with big steps and looked at the snakes. Xiao Yu’er was pleased, he hoped this man had good martial arts and could kill all those snakes. However, suddenly they were interrupted by a series of sword and sabre clashing. There were people fighting up ahead, normally there would be pauses between the clashing sounds but here the sounds did not stop. The fighters must be very swift wielders of the sabre and the sword.

    Zhao Quanhai turned around and his face changed colour, he said:”Another group of people? Very swift swordplay.”

    Xiao Yu’er blinked his eyes and said:”Don’t be afraid, stand behind me. Nobody will be able to harm you.”

    Zhao Quanhai looked at him for a moment and saw all those snakes on him and felt eerie. He really believed that he had met a senior Wulin dignitary.

    He looked at him for another moment and said:”Thank you.”

    The clanging sounds came closer, a while ago they came from the entrance and now they were near where Xiao Yu’er stood.

    A cold and unfriendly voice said:”Snow Sabre, do you really wish to fight to the death?”

    The other voice said:”I have long heard that your swordsmanship is very swift, the swiftest of outer regions. Now is a good chance to see it for myself. I don’t know how you found out about the treasure, but let us first fight to determine who is stronger and who can survive.”

    The voice was sharp and high, it was a woman.

    Xiao Yu’er asked:”Is this Snow Sabre a woman?”

    Zhao Quanhai sighed:”She was one of the three famous and feared Luo Sha*. Her sabre techniques are miraculous, even famous Peng disciples of the famous school with a long history like the Five Tiger Slashing sabre have been defeated by her.”

    Xiao Yu’er asked:”Who is the other?”

    Zhao Quanhai said:”Judging by what the Snow Sabre said, that must be the dignitary of the Changbai Sword school, the [Dragon Sword of the Outer regions], Feng Tianyu. His swordsmanship is unmatched in the outer regions.”

    Xiao Yu’er sighed deeply:”I am old, I am oblivious to all the famous martial artists of the younger generation.”

    Zhao Quanhai frowned and said:”The location of the treasure should be a secret, how come so many people know of it. This is very strange.”

    The fighting came closer and they could see that the sparks lit the dark cave; the flashes of sword and sabre were magnificent. One was a skinny and tall wearing black tight clothes, the other wore white and was very slender and her stances of the willow leaved sabre were very fast.

    Zhao Quanhai became a bit uneasy now.

    Xiao Yu’er said calmly:”They have good martial arts, but there are too many flaws. If I would attack they will be defeated within ten stances.”

    The heard a loud clang and then the fighting stopped, and looked at Xiao Yu’er.

    The Snow Sabre was a middle-aged woman who still looked very beautiful, her figure was very slender and her eyes were pretty too. She suddenly exclaimed with shock:”Quanhai, you’re here too?”

    Zhao Quanhai put up an enforced smile and said:”After all these years, you still look the same.”

    The Snow Sabre smiled sweetly:”Thank you, I never imagined I would see you here…..11 years now, almost 12 years. Why have you not looked for me? Do you only want fame and fortune, don’t you want anything else?”

    Zhao Quanhai coughed and said:”I….I….”

    That Feng Tianyu suddenly sneered:”Good, old lovers meeting up with each other again! But I do not fear Liu Ruyu and Zhao Quanhai even if you team up.”

    The Snow Sabre, Liu Ruyu just ignored him seeing that she has found help, she looked at Xiao Yu’er and said:”Have you brought along your pupil? Why does he look so strange?”

    Zhao Quanhai said:”This is old master Yu.”

    Xiao Yu’er listened with disbelief and repeated:”Old master Yu?”

    Zhao Quanhai said loudly:”Old master Yu had just killed the Three Swords of Jinlin, the Grey Bat, the Owl and the Azure Serpent Lord, their bodies are here.”

    After he said that, both Feng Tianyu and Liu Ruyu were shocked. Feng Tianyu took a few steps back and raised his sword at Xiao Yu’er. He carefully observed Xiao Yu’er and tightened the grip on his sword.

    Xiao Yu’er almost burst out in laughter, but stayed calm and serious. He said:”Miss Liu, do you have a map too?”

    Liu Ruyu nodded and said:”Hmm.” Xiao Yu’er looked at Feng Tianyu and said:”And you?”

    Feng Tianyu said coldly:”Without a map I could not have reached this place.”

    Xiao Yu’er eyes flashed and said:”Up till now, there are six maps. One treasure and six maps, that is very strange.”

    Feng Tianyu raised his sword and said sternly:”No matter how many people will come, the last standing will be the owner of the treasure.”

    Xiao Yu’er coldly said:”If you want to die that is fine. But it would be a shame to die before actually seeing the treasure, don’t you agree?” Feng Tianyu was taken by this remark and lowered his sword. Zhao Quanhai said:”Old master Yu is right. It is better that we will take a look first. After finding the treasure we can still fight to the death.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”The leader of the joined guard agencies is more sensible.”

    He turned around and started to walk, suddenly he turned around and said:”Would you be so kind to see what the Azure Serpent Lord has hidden in his clothes?”

    There were three small boxes hidden in his clothes, all of the same shape and size. But there were different labels on each, on the first box there was label: immobilizing drug. On the second label there were the characters: antidote and on the third were the characters: snake grain.

    Xiao Yu’er took the boxes and could almost jump in the air with happiness. With the box of snake grain he could lure those snake beauties away. But thought about it for a while and decided to put those boxes away first.

    He discovered that with these little snakes he could scare and fool a lot of people and this was a time when he needed to fool and scare others.

    The end of chapter 9

  11. #11
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
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    Chapter 10 Unexpected Turn

    The cave was deep and there was a cold and eerie atmosphere. Xiao Yu’er lead the way, Zhao Quanhai followed with a torch. Liu Ruyu deliberately let Feng Tianyu follow her, Feng Tianyu put his hand on the hilt of his sword and he had a scornful smile on his face.

    After walking for some time, the cave widened and up ahead was light. It was very strange, there were five men standing there. Three of them were standing and the other two sat down and exchanged palms. They were competing internal energy. One was a Buddhist monk wearing a yellow robe; the other was a skinny old man.
    Their eyes bugged out and were sweating heavily now. The other three looked a bit worried, when Xiao Yu’er and others came the three men just ignored them.

    Xiao Yu’er looked around and saw that Zhao Quanhai, Liu Ruyu and Feng Tianyu turned pale. It would seem that they recognized these five men and were very much afraid of them. These five men must have higher martial arts and status than them.

    Zhao Quanhai muttered:”How come these five freaks are here too?”

    Xiao Yu’er smiled:”Freaks? Tell me about them? Are they famous?”

    Zhao Quanhai sighed:”They are very famous.” Xiao Yu’er said:”Hmm?”

    Zhao Quanhai said:”Old master, you must have heard of the Wang family of Huai Nan and their [Invincible Eagle Claws], this skill has been renowned for almost 70 years.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Hmm, yes I have heard of that.”

    Zhao Quanhai said:”That old skinny man is the head of the Eagle Claw family. He is called [Regarding people like chickens] Wang Yizhua.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Regarding people as chickens? What kind of name is that?”

    Zhao Quanhai smiled wryly:”He created that name for himself. He sees everyone as chickens and eagles catch chicken with ease, meaning he is invincible.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”An arrogant and funny man….”

    He looked at the Buddhist monk, he was tall and muscular. He was at least a head taller than Wang Yizhua.

    The two of them still exchanged palms and compared to that monk Wang Yizhua looked like the chicken and the monk like an eagle.

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Who looks more like a chicken in your opinion?”

    Zhao Quanhai wanted to laugh he did not dare to, so he tried his best to keep his laughter inside. But he looked very silly by doing so, he coughed clearing his throat and said:”That Buddhist monk is reverend Huangji (translated yellow chicken) of Jiming (chicken cackle) Monastery on Mount Wutai.”

    Xiao Yu’er burst with laughter:”The chicken wants to be the eagle, but eagle is called a chicken! These two are destined to be enemies of each other…..!”

    Suddenly a voice interrupted:”Silence!”

    The voice did not sound to loud but it was very deep. Xiao Yu’er’s ears felt numb and saw that the person shouting was an old man in a blue robe. The old man did not turn around and was observing the palm clash between Wang Yizhua and Huangji.

    Xiao Yu’er asked Zhao Quanhai:”Who is that brat?” Zhao Quanhai looked pale then red, he looked at the old man first and then looked at Xiao Yu’er’s snakes. He finally whispered:”This gentleman’s internal energy is unmatched. He is called [One roar to open a mountain], the Xiaoyun hermit. He is an old friend of reverend Huangji.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Why won’t he help since they are old friends.”

    Zhao Quanhai whispered even softer:”Wang Yizhua is not here alone, those two men standing next to him are his friends. One is the leader of the Tiannan Sword School, Sun Tiannan, renowned for his sword and palm techniques. The other is the leader of the Zhejiang Qiu family; this family became famous for their excellent spear skills, seventh master Qiu Qingpo. The Wang and Qiu family have been friends for many years.”

    He took a deep breath and continued:”Furthermore, with the reputation of reverend Huangji and Wang Yizhua they will not allow people to help them."

    Xiao Yu’er sneered: “What reputation! If that Wang Yizhua came alone that Xiaoyun hermit would have attacked Wang Yizhua a long time ago.”

    He made a friendly gesture to Qiu Qingpo and smiled:”How are you doing seventh brother?”

    Qiu Qingpo looked quite handsome, fair and solemn; he looked at Xiao Yu’er strange looks and asked with a frown:”Whom are you calling seventh brother?”

    Xiao Yu’er smiled:”Don’t you recognize me? I have brought Zhao Quanhai, Feng Tianyu and Miss Liu Ruyu with me to help you. You and brother Sun Tiannan can get rid of that Xiaoyun hermit without fear, I will deal with that Buddhist monk.”

    Qiu Qingpo was dumbfounded, the Xiaoyun hermit’s face changed. He made a sharp and loud cry making the fires sway. Wang Yizhua and Huangji were both disturbed by that cry and their palm contact was severed.

    These five men were famous martial artists; their reactions were very fast. Immediately, all of them presented their weapons. Buddhist monk Huangji leapt up into the air and glided several metres away.

    The Xiaoyun hermit roared:”The Wang and Qiu families have a good reputation, do you really want to ruin that good name!”

    Xiao Yu’er lifted his head and laughed loudly:”You are all prominent dignitaries, but your actions are no different from ordinary thugs. Everyone has his ulterior motive.”

    The Xiaoyun hermit looked angrily and said:”What do you want?”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”Don’t get excited first! We’re not here to help either side. I just wanted to save you from dying at each other’s hands before finding the treasure.”

    Wang Yizhua looked at him with his sharp eyes and said deeply:”Who are you?”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”Don’t you know me? Ask him?” He pointed at Zhao Quanhai. All their eyes were staring at Zhao Quanhai.

    Zhao Quanhai lowered his head and stuttered:”This old master Yu, he is known as [the Saint of 10,000 snakes, the sage of 10,000 swords, the king of kings undefeated throughout the China, the earthshaking Yu Wangzi.]”

    Xiao Yu’er nodded and smiled:”You forgot a few words, but that is about it. If you haven’t heard of this name before you are really ignorant.”

    Wang Yizhua angrily said:”You little brat, how dare you use such a name!”

    Zhao Quanhai said:”Old master Yu has superb martial arts, he had just killed the Three Swords of Jinlin, the Grey Bat, the Owl and the Azure Serpent Lord.”

    When those five men heard that they were shocked.

    The Xiaoyun hermit looked at Zhao Quanhai and sternly asked:”How did you know that they died at his hands? Did you see him killing them?”

    Zhao Quanhai said:”I…I…Of course, I saw it. Their bodies are still there.”

    Although he did not see it, but he truly believed that Xiao Yu’er killed those martial arts experts. Furthermore, he had put himself in an awkward position and really could not say [No, I did not see it.]

    Those five men looked at Xiao Yu’er, but this time they looked at him differently. These five men looked down upon Zhao Quanhai’s martial arts but they did not doubt the words and the name of the 17 joined guard agencies of the two rivers.

    Xiao Yu’er looked around and smiled:”There was only one treasure, but somehow there are several maps. Don’t you find that a bit strange? Isn’t it more sensible to find the treasure first?”

    If he said the same words just a few moments ago, no one would have listened. Even if they listened they would not pay attention to it. But now his status had gone up and his words carried a lot of weight, Wang Yizhua and Buddhist monk Huangji were beginning to think that something was amiss.

    Xiao Yu’er looked up and saw a gap, suddenly the moon moved and moonlight shone through the gap.

    Everyone said with surprise:”It is time.”

    The Xiaoyun hermit blew out a torch and Wang Yizhua waved his palm to extinguish the other, the moonlight revealed a stone path, the way to the treasure.

    Wang Yizhua was first to move forward, the Buddhist monk Huangji used his sleeves to whisk at him. Wang Yizhua’s hands formed two claws and were about to engage the sleeves. Qiu Qingpo took out his spear and aimed at the Xiaoyun hermit. Liu Ruyu’s used her sabre to hack at Feng Tianyu three times; Feng Tianyu used his sword to counter-attack twice. They were all starting to fight again.

    Xiao Yu’er stood quite far away from them and sneered:”Why are you so excited? We don’t even know if there is a treasure. We can all fight to the death after finding the treasure.”

    All of them stopped fighting.

    The rock that blocked the path could be pushed away and a tunnel appeared. Wang Yizhua, Buddhist monk Huangji, Qiu Qingpo, the Xiaoyun hermit, Sun Tiannan, Zhao Quanhai, Feng Tianyu, Liu Ruyu entered in this order. They were watching each other and looked very solemn, like they could face their greatest enemy.

    Xiao Yu’er was the last one, he was smiling. But he too was excited and curious; he could not guess what could happen at any moment.

    All of a sudden, Wang Yizhua and Buddhist monk Huangji cried out in surprise. Both of them were leaders of a leading martial arts school and had profound insight and knowledge, so something must have caught their attention. Soon the others hurried for and cried out in surprise too and were a bit stunned.

    At the end of the tunnel they could see about ten coffins and there was no trace of a treasure.

    In the dark, those coffins looked very eerie, every coffin had an ancestral plaque above it. The wind was blowing quite hard here, the robe of Buddhist monk Huangji swayed in the wind. Liu Ruyu moved closer to Zhao Quanhai. They counted a total of 13 coffins, there were several ceremonial candles burning in here. Their torches were extinguished before they entered so it was very dark in here. Xiao Yu’er carefully looked around and he saw a plaque that wrote: [The ancestral resting place of the patriarchs].

    Xiao Yu’er was a bit scared now and asked:”Where are we?”

    Qiu Qingpo said deeply:”Perhaps this is the ancestral resting place of the previous Emei leaders. If it is, this is a sacred place.”

    When Buddhist monk Huangji heard the word [sacred], he frowned and said:”If this is a sacred place, we must leave here at once.”

    The Xiaoyun hermit agreed:”Trespassing on someone’s sacred property is a serious offence.”

    Wang Yizhua’s eyes glittered and interrupted:”If that is the case, you should all leave.”

    Buddhist monk Huangji thought for a moment and then turned around.

    Feng Tianyu suddenly said loudly:”Reverend, please wait. Don’t be deceived.”

    Buddhist monk Huangji said:”Deceived? What do you mean?”

    Feng Tianyu said:”A coffin is good place to hide a treasure, won’t you agree?”

    Buddhist monk Huangji stopped walking, the Xiaoyun hermit and Wang Yizhua moved to a coffin.

    All of a sudden eight doors were opened around them, eight very strong lights illuminated the room. The light stunned everyone and the light shone in their eyes causing them close their eyes for a moment.

    When they opened their eyes they saw swords.

    A deep voice spoke from behind the lights:”Who are these audacious thugs! How dare you trespass on Emei sacred grounds!”

    Another voice said sternly:”Trespassers, die! No need to ask for their identities!”

    His voice was powerful and threatening.

    Buddhist monk Huangji suddenly exclaimed:”Are you reverend Shenxi?

    The voice only grunted.

    Buddhist monk Huangji said:”Reverend, don’t you recognize me? I am Buddhist monk Huangji of Mount Wutai.”

    That voice said solemnly:”Old friendships are irrelevant on sacred ground. Go!”

    When he said [go], swords as fast lightening stabbed towards the throats and other vital spots of Wang Yizhua, Huangji and others.

    Xiao Yu’er did not dodge when he saw those swords, those swords may be lethal but the bites of those snakes were even more lethal. Xiao Yu’er lifted his head and laughed loudly.

    When he laughed, those snakes of his stuck out their tongues and shook their little heads. Everyone was surprised and shocked to see snakes on Xiao Yu’er’s body.

    The two swords aimed at Xiao Yu’er retracted; the wielders of the swords were two Taoist priests in purple robes and a moustache.

    The Taoist priest on the left raised his sword and said sternly:”Little child, why are you laughing?”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed:”I only laugh at the arrogance and ignorance of the Emei School.”

    All the Taoist priests around started to shout angrily.

    That Taoist priest stepped forward and shouted:”What are you saying?”

    The Taoist priest spoke with a heavy Sichuan accent.

    Xiao Yu’er blinked his eyes and said:”Let me ask you this, how did you know that we trespassed on sacred grounds?”

    That Taoist priest sneered:”How can we allow intruders walk about freely on our sacred grounds, how can we not know that there are intruders!”

    Xiao Yu’er sneered back:”If we were discovered by you after we invaded the sacred grounds we have nothing to say. But it seems that you were awaiting us. I find it hard to believe that Emei could predict our coming.”

    That Taoist priest said loudly:”That is none of your business.”

    Xiao Yu’er said:”It is my business, because you were informed of our coming. And how did that informer know we were coming? Have you thought about that?”

    Zhao Quanhai loudly shouted:”Very true! The informer has set us up against each other! He wants us to battle each to the death…..”

    Suddenly he shouted painfully, it seemed that he was injured.

    That Taoist priest frowned and said deeply:”Set up? There is no set up!”

    Xiao Yu’er said loudly:”If you would stop fighting, I will explain what is happening here.”

    Another Taoist priest said:”Don’t be deceived by them.”

    That Taoist priest said loudly:”Yes, let us capture them first and interrogate them.”

    Xiao Yu’er regretted that he did not lure away those snakes first, because he knew that he would be bitten if he tried to avoid the attacks of those two Taoist priests.
    In his fluster he threw the small boxes of the Azure Serpent Lord at the Taoist priests, but the Taoist priest twirled his sword and the boxes were sliced into two. The antidote, snake food, etc. all fell down on the ground, the Taoist priest now aimed his sword at Xiao Yu’er.

    Xiao Yu’er sighed and smiled wryly.

    All of a sudden the lights were extinguished and Xiao Yu’er felt someone holding his hand.

    A voice said softly:”Follow me.”

    Xiao Yu’er felt that the hand was very cold and soft and the voice was sweet and familiar. He felt warm and comfortable hearing that voice and whispered:”Are you Tie Xinlan?”

    The voice whispered back:”Yes.”

    Xiao Yu’er followed her and sighed softly:”You’re much better than me in the field of secretive weaponry. Even I cannot put out all those torches at once.”

    Tie Xinlan said:”I did not put out those lights.”

    Xiao Yu’er was a bit shocked and asked:”Who did?”

    When the lights were out there was a dead silence, but soon people started to shout and yell again.

    Many people shouted:”Who is there?”

    “Are there more intruders?”

    “Light the torches, quick!”

    Before Tie Xinlan quick tell Xiao Yu’er what had happened, the lights were lit again. The Emei disciples were standing with their backs against a wall and Wang Yizhua and others had gathered around.

    Another two people had entered the room; they wore white gowns and were very pale. But they had beautiful long black hair and pretty eyes.

    Xiao Yu’er had wondered what martial arts experts had put out the light; he was surprised to see two beautiful young girls here.

    All the people gathered here were top martial artists even those Taoist priests in purple robes were experts of the Emei School, but these girls looked rather conceited and showed contempt.

    Their arrogance silenced everyone.

    The Xiaoyun hermit scoffed:”Mere girls can barge into the sacred grounds of Emei, and the Emei disciples can only watch. This is truly laughable.”

    While he was talking he glanced at reverend Shenxi and the Emei disciples, everyone looked surprised and angry.

    Two girls in white were not impressed by the anger and surprise of the Emei disciples. The girl on the left was a bit shorter; she had a long oval face, eyebrows like sharp willow leaves. There was a hint of naughtiness in the conceited look of her.

    The girl on the right was a bit more slender; she had big eyes and some freckles on her nose. She looked cold but yet sweet.

    The girl on the right scoffed:”Sister Helu, did you hear that? This is the sacred shrine of the Emei School, we are not allowed here.”

    That Helu said coldly:”We can go anywhere we please, who dares to stop us? And who can stop us?”

    Reverend Shenxi was angered now and said sternly:”Where did you come from? How dare you to be this insolent!”

    After saying that, the Emei disciples attacked. Two swords were aimed at the chests’s of the girls.

    The two girls did not pay any attention to it and when the swords were near them, they waved their hands and redirected the swords. Nobody could exactly see how they did that, but the swords were redirected back. The Taoist priest on the left stabbed his sword into the shoulder of the Taoist priest on the right and the Taoist priest on the right side had hacked off the hair bun of the Taoist priest on the left.

    They could not lift their hands anymore; they were too terrified and shocked.

    Even Wang Yizhua, Buddhist monk Huangji were stunned.

    Reverend Shenxi leapt forward, his face was pale and exclaimed:”Is that the [jaded flower stealth substitution]?”

    Helu said indifferently:”Good eyesight!”

    The other girl said coldly:”Do you know now where we come from? Do you still think we are too arrogant?”

    Reverend Shenxi looked awfully pale and said:”Misses, Emei and Floral Palace have no connections. May I enquire why you are here?”

    Helu said:”We just here to look at the treasure of Yan Nantian. We don’t want it, we just want to have a look at it.”

    Reverend Shenxi repeated with surprise:”The treasure of Yan Nantian?”

    The girl on the right said:”Stop pretending! Just hand over the treasure and give us a look. Or else….”

    Reverend Shenxi said:”Yan Nantian has no ties with Emei, why should there be a treasure of Yan Nantian on Mount Emei?”

    He looked around and suddenly he understood, he smiled sadly:”All of you have come here to look for a treasure.”

    Wang Yizhua, Buddhist monk Huangji and others kept quiet. They were afraid to talk; with the disciples of the Floral Palace present it would be wise to keep silent.

    Reverend Shenxi shouted:”It is a trap, we are all deceived. If we start to fight now, we will be falling into the traps of that mastermind.”

    Xiao Yu’er had backed away from everyone, he was thinking: [When I said that, you did not believe me. Why should they believe you now.]

    He looked at the two girls, and was thinking of something.

    The girl on the right said:”In other words, you claim that there is no treasure here.”

    Reverend Shenxi sighed:”I have never heard of a treasure being hidden here.”

    The girl on the right asked Helu:”Sister Helu, shall we believe his words?”

    Helu said indifferently:”I never believe other people’s words.”

    Reverend Shenxi said:”I can’t help it if you don’t believe me, Miss.”

    The girl on the right said:”You can’t help it, but we can. We will search this place.”

    Reverend Shenxi said earnestly:”Search!?!”

    The girl on the right said:”Yes. We will look through those coffins. Those seem like a good place to hide a treasure, why don’t you open up those treasure so we can have a look.”

    Before she finished her sentence all the Emei disciples were furious.

    Reverend Shenxi was shaking with anger, he restrained his anger and said solemnly:”The late leaders of Emei are resting in those coffins, no one can open those coffins.”

    The girl on the right sneered:”If there are only corpses in those coffins, would a look really be harmful? They won’t lose a bone by opening the coffins, could it be that you’re trying to hide something else. Let’s say a treasure!”

    Reverend Shenxi shouted angrily:”Nobody is allowed to open those coffins, anyone who tries will have to kill all the Emei disciples first.”

    The girl on the right said:”I don’t have the time to wait till all of you are dead. I will open it myself.”

    Reverend Shenxi roared furiously:”The Floral Palace has gone too far! Emei will fight you to the death!”

    He drew out his sword with extreme speed and aimed at the larynx of the young girl.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
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    (Wubbles takes over from here and the chapter naming convention changes)

    In his anger, this stroke contained the strength of years of training, and was truly as fast as lightning, as powerful as thunder; everyone was stunned.

    The young girl was, after all, still inexperienced and, faced with such a stroke, did not dare to counter his blade. She repeated the [jaded flower stealth substitution?], and avoided him.

    But now the Emei disciples drew their swords and attacked. The girls could not hope to escape.

    Tie Xinlan suddenly released Xiao Yu’er’s hand, and said, “Stay here and don’t move. I …”

    Xiao Yu’er stared at her and asked, “What are you going to do?”

    Tie Xinlan said, “When I was lost in the wilderness, fortunately they took care of me. When you were in danger, again they intervened. Now that they are being attacked, I cannot stand by and do nothing.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed, saying, “Well, if people of the Floral Palace are in danger, do they really need other people to save them?”

    He had hardly finished speaking, when behind him a voice declared: “Well spoken!”

    The sound of the voice was loud and clear, but died away quickly; as soon as the voice registered in their ears, someone stepped out from Xiao Yu’er’s side. In the firelight, Xiao Yu’er could not see if the person was male, female, or even what they looked like. Even the colour of the speaker’s clothes was not clearly discernible.

    In his life, Xiao Yu’er had never seen someone move so rapidly, nor could he have imagined such a lightning attack. A silhouette flashed by him, into the light cast by the swordplay.

    It happened in a split second- clashing swords ringing in his ears, then a dozen blades landed on the ground as one. Although none among the onlookers could see clearly how the swords had been wrenched free, the Emei disciples themselves had felt a sudden irresistible force on their weapons. Each person’s sword, still in his grip, clashed against the clenched sword of a fellow disciple. Each person in each pair felt a terrifying strength from the opposing sword. Their wrists went numb, and the blades fell from their shocked hands. The disciples cried out in alarm as they stumbled backwards. They held their injured arms, their thoughts wild and confused, as if in a waking nightmare(?).

    Although his hand still gripped his weapon, Reverend Shenxi had also been caught off guard and retreated a pace. He swept his gaze in all directions, but no one was there except for the two girls in white. And though all was visible by the firelight, and no one moved, still, the dozen blades lay, horrifyingly, on the ground.

    Reverend Shenxi stopped short and gritted his teeth. He finally raised his eyes heavenward and sighed. “It’s over.” With a flick of his wrist, he slashed his sword across his own neck. Under the amazing power of this mysterious attacker, the reputation of the Emei sect was now ruined. The only thing left to do was to end his own life.

    At that moment a hand snaked out from behind him to gently grasp his arm. Another hand reached around to lightly seize his weapon.

    Reverend Shenxi always carried this sword with him. It had accompanied him through countless trials and dangers and never left his side. Now to find it so easily taken from him, was something he would never have dreamed of.

    Reverend Shenxi was startled at this, and angry. A youth clothed in white, slowly came out from behind him and stepped forward. He held the Reverend’s sword in both hands. His demeanor was respectful; he smiled and said, “May the Reverend forgive my discourtesy. Had your esteemed sect not attempted to use force on women, I would never have dared to intervene.”

    Under the torchlight, you could see that the youth was no more than 13 or 14 years of age. Yet his abilities clearly surpassed even the dreams of the various assembled experts in martial arts. He was only clothed in a plain white robe, but his air of nobility could not be matched by most men clad in brocade.

    Until this moment, he had only spoken a few sentences, yet his charisma and charm were apparent. Even the Snow Sabre Liu Ruyu, whose eyes had appraised many men, felt her heart racing. Seventh Master Qiu Qingpo, who had been much admired and sought after in his younger days, felt a twinge of inadequacy, having met this young man.

    Without being aware of it, everyone had fallen silent just staring at him.

    Although Reverend Shenxi was furious, somehow he seemed to be intimidated by this person’s demeanour, and he found himself returning the young man’s salute. He asked, “Would you be from the Floral Palace?”

    The white-robed youth replied, “My name is Hua Wuque, I am indeed from the Floral Palace. It has been many years since my people have roamed abroad, and thus we are unfamiliar with some of the formal courtesies. We beg forgiveness for any offence we may have given.”

    His words were humble and polite, and yet somehow the situation resembled that of a master gently extending a courtesy to his servant. Although the master was being sincere, the servant would still feel uneasy. Some people are naturally born to be proud and noble. Although such a man would try to put the pride behind him and feel that it is wrong to be proud, others would see it and feel that he should be as he should be.

    The smile on his face was peaceful and warm, yet the others still felt somehow that he was above them. Although his actions were courteous and friendly, they still found it hard to accept.

    Reverend Shenxi, Buddhist monk Huangji, Wang Yizhua, Qiu Qingpo, Sun Tiannan, Feng Tianyu, Zhao Quanhai and the others were all leaders of their respective sects. But for some reason, in front of this youth, none of them could find any proper response to give.

    Helu rolled her eyes and couldn’t help laughing. She said in a loud voice: “Now that my master is here, I take it we may view the contents of the coffins?”

    Reverend Shenxi’s expression darkened. Before he could say a word, Hua Wuque said slowly: “The matter of the treasure will (?)… I just hope that no-one is deceived by the evil intentions of others. From now on we will never mention this day’s events again.”

    The Buddhist monk Huangji murmured, “Amitaba, the young master is gracious.”

    Wang Yizhua said loudly: “Whoever wanted to continue fighting would wind up being the laughingstock of everyone. Only a fool would be that stupid.”

    Qiu Qingpo, Sun Tiannan and the others said in unison: “Young master, you have spoken wisely. We will take our leave now.”

    Reverend Shenxi said: “Thank you young master!” What should have resulted in a bloodbath, this Hua Wuque had, with merely a few words, brought to a peaceful resolution.

    Throughout all this, Liu Ruyu’s eyes had never left his face. As Tie Xinlan watched him, the corners of her mouth lifted unconsciously in a smile of admiration.

    With a “hmph”, Xiao Yu’er abruptly turned and ran towards the entrance of the cave. Tie Xinlan was startled, paused briefly, then eventually ran outside and followed him.

    Xiao Yu’er heard Zhao Quanhai call out to him from behind: “Hero Yu, Hero Yu…” [[ I think earlier Xiao Yu’er had told Zhao Quanhai that his name was Yu Wangzi…the long nick name starting with…Saint of 10 000 serpents etc.]]

    Helu also called out: “Hey, young lady, where did you go?”

    Reverend Shenxi called to him: “Young man, please stay behind and have some tea with me.”

    Xiao Yu’er could not understand what they were shouting, and even if he did, he would not turn back. He ran straight outside of the cave.

    Outside, there was a thin fog, yet the bright moon in the sky lit the ground; the evening was beautiful.

    Xiao Yu’er had no eyes for any of this; he only stared straight ahead and kept running. After a while, he stopped, found a big stone and sat down.

    Tie Xinlan took a deep breath, and said, “Who knew that the treasure hunting would turn out like this, I could never have guessed.” Xiao Yu’er said, “As if you could ever guess anything.”

    Tie Xinlan was startled. She lowered her head and said quietly, “For this worthless treasure I have endured so many dangers and nearly lost my life. This is really not worth it.”

    Xiao Yu’er said, “You’ll live.” (?)

    Tie Xinlan bit her lips, her head even lower, and said, “At the Murong Manor, I know it was only because you were in a lot of danger, that’s why you left me behind. I don’t blame you, but you…”

    Xiao Yu’er cut in: “And so what if you did blame me?”

    Tie Xinlan suddenly raised her head in surprise: “You…you…why are you saying such things…”

    Xiao Yu’er said, “I’ve always talked like this. If you don’t like it, then don’t listen…hmph, someone else’s words are much nicer, why don’t you go and listen to him?”

    Tie Xinlan’s eyes were now red. After a brief silence, she mustered up a smile and asked, “When did you arrive at Mount Emei?”

    “Hmph!” was the only response.

    Tie Xinlan coaxed gently, “How did you get so many snakes on your body?”

    Xiao Yu’er ignored her again.

    Tie Xinlan stamped her foot, then also sat down. The two of them sat back to back and ignored each other. No one moved and no one spoke.

    After a short while, Xiao Yu’er couldn’t stand it any more. He spat loudly and said: “Ha, that little rascal(?) really has an arrogant air(?) about him!”

    Tie Xinlan didn’t respond, as if she hadn’t heard him at all.

    Xiao Yu’er kept quiet for a bit but then couldn’t restrain himself. He nudged her with his back and said, “Hey, are you deaf? Didn’t you hear what I said?”

    Tie Xinlan replied: “How could a deaf person hear someone talking?”

    Xiao Yu’er was confused: “But…you answered me; you clearly heard what I just said. If you couldn’t hear someone talking, then how did you hear me…that means you aren’t…deaf…” His words became muddled, he couldn’t stop himself and laughed out loud.

    Tie Xinlan had already been giggling secretly; at this point she let out a big “ha ha” and started laughing even harder.

    In the midst of their laughter, the two of them unconsciously wound up sitting side by side. Neither could tell; was it Tie Xinlan who came closer first, or was it Xiao Yu’er who moved over?

    After laughing some more, Xiao Yu’er abruptly said again: “That rascal really is too proud(?)!”

    Tie Xinlan said softly, “Actually he’s not the proud one, it’s just the reactions of people around him that make him seem so.”

    Xiao Yu’er sneered: “Of course he’s proud, look at him-what an actor. Others think he’s so humble and courteous, but he actually- Hmph, what dog crap!”

    Tie Xinlan laughed: “One could say that the Floral palace is one of the meccas of wulin. Since he is the only descendant of the Floral Palace, if he is proud, that is only natural.”

    Xiao Yu’er merely said: “Hmph.” “Hmph hmph…..hmph. Hmph.”

    Tie Xinlan smiled charmingly and lightly touched his hand. She saw the snakes on his wrist and quickly drew back. Winking at Xiao Yu’er, she said, “Did you notice, his eyes, they really look like yours, they’re practically identical. A stranger would have thought you were brothers.”

    Xiao Yu’er retorted: “If I was born looking like that sissy(?), I’d rather die.”

    Tie Xinlan held back her laughter and stared at his eyes, without a word.

    Xiao Yu’er cocked his head to one side, and laughed coldly: “The funny thing is, someone actually likes this pretentious, sissy man.”

    Tie Xinlan said, “I…who likes him?”

    “You.”

    Tie Xinlan broke into stunned laughter: “I, like him? You’re crazy!”

    Xiao Yu’er said, “If you didn’t like him, why would you stare at him with those bright eyes of yours? If you didn’t like him, why would you hang on his every word?”

    Tie Xinlan’s face was flushed with anger; she gritted her teeth and said, “Fine. So what if I like him? It’s none of your business, we’re neither friends nor family, remember?”

    She stamped her foot and turned her back on him again.

    Xiao Yu’er sat down on the ground, and mumbled, “Pretentious, overacting like an old man(?), that’s the most annoying type.”

    Tie Xinlan said without turning around: “Didn’t you just call him a sissy? Now he’s like an old man?”

    Xiao Yu’er said, “I…I meant to say he’s like…an old sissy.”

    Tie Xinlan suddenly burst out laughing.

    Xiao Yu’er raised his eyes questioningly: “Why are you laughing?”

    Tie Xinlan slowly and clearly pronounced each word: “You are jealous.”

    Xiao Yu’er jumped up and cried out: “I, am jealous?.....What a joke….give me a break…”

    Suddenly he sat back down and sighed, “That’s right. I do seem to be getting a little jealous…”

    Tie Xinlan smiled sweetly and was about to snuggle into his arms, but suddenly jumped up and screamed: “Snakes….why don’t you get rid of these poisonous snakes?”

    Xiao Yu’er said sadly, “If only I could.”

    Tie Xinlan exclaimed in surprise: “Even you can’t get rid of them yourself?”

    Xiao Yu’er sighed: “Now that the Azure Serpent Lord is dead, I’m not sure that anyone can get rid of them. They’ll bite whoever touches them.”

    Tie Xinlan said anxiously, “Then…then what are we going to do? You can’t carry them around for the rest of your life.”

    Xiao Yu’er said nothing for a while, discouraged. Then suddenly he made a face, smiled and said, “It’s not so bad. With the snakes all over me, girls won’t dare to touch me.”

    Tie Xinlan stamped her foot and shouted: “I’m being serious, and you’re still joking around.”

    She turned her back in a huff, but then turned around instantly, smiling: “I have an idea.”

    Xiao Yu’er asked happily, “What idea?”

    Tie Xinlan said, “Starve them to death. Once they’re dead, they’ll fall off.”

    Xiao Yu’er appeared to think it over, then nodded his head: “Not bad, not bad. That is a pretty good idea.”

    Tie Xinlan said, “Thank you, thank you.”

    Xiao Yu’er winked at her: “Only you forgot one thing.”

    “What?”

    Xiao Yu’er said, “Although these snakes are hairless, it doesn’t mean they’re monks.”

    Tie Xinlan was confused: “What is that supposed to mean?”

    Xiao Yu’er said, holding back his laughter: “If they’re not monks, they eat meat…”

    Tie Xinlan was still confused, then suddenly she jumped up and cried out: “They….if they really get hungry, they’ll eat your flesh and drink your blood.”

    Xiao Yu’er sighed: “You really are a brainchild. You didn’t get it till now.”

    Tie Xinlan was so worried that she wanted to weep. She stamped her foot and said: “So what do we do? What do we do? The only way is…the only way…”

    As for what “the only way” was, she couldn’t say. She was so anxious, she was turning in circles. By about the seventh or eighth circle, she heard voices approaching.

    Someone said, “How did that girl disappear so suddenly. That is really strange.”

    Someone else chimed in coldly: “She can escape today, but can she escape tomorrow?”

    As soon as they heard these two voices, Xiao Yu’er and Tie Xinlan’s expressions changed.

    Tie Xinlan whispered, “Zhang Qing!” Xiao Yu’er said: “And Murong Jiumei!”

    Tie Xinlan said, “Let’s escape.”

    It was only at this point that they noticed they were at a dead end. They were surrounded on three sides by mountain slopes(?), and the only way out was the direction from which Zhang Qing and Murong Jiumei had come.

    Tie Xinlan’s feet and hands were icy cold. She said, “This…this…”

    Xiao Yu’er said, “Let’s just hide for a bit and see.”

    They had just settled in their hiding places when the two girls arrived.

    Zhang Qing said, “Mount Emei is a really strange place. Aside from the caves where monkeys live, the only shelter we’ve found is this place.”

    Murong Jiumei said, “There’s no point in searching the entire mountain randomly. Why don’t we rest here tonight and start again tomorrow.”

    Zhang Qing had sat down already, on the exact same stone that Xiao Yu’er had previously occupied. The two of them relaxed and closed their eyes.

    Xiao Yu’er and Tie Xinlan suffered in silence; at this rate, who knew how long they would have to wait before being able to escape?

    After a while, Zhang Qing opened her eyes and asked, “Are you cold?”

    Murong Jiumei said mockingly, “You are quite the spoiled princess. Even if we were in an icy snowstorm I wouldn’t complain of cold.”

    Zhang Qing shrugged, and closed her eyes again.

    Xiao Yu’er thought inwardly: “Of course you’re not cold. Consider the type of martial arts you’re practicing. Even if you were naked as a dog’s butt and sleeping on ice, you wouldn’t mind. Other people however, haven’t practiced such witchcraft.”

    After another pause, Zhang Qing suddenly stood up and said, “You’re not cold, good for you. But I can’t take it.”

    Murong Jiumei replied, “Even if you can’t handle it, you must still endure.”

    Zhang Qing smiled and said: “Please Jiu Guniang, come with me to find firewood.”

    Murong Jiumei stood up slowly. They glanced in all directions, but finally decided, of all places, to approach the spot where Xiao Yu’er and Tie Xinlan were hiding.

    Xiao Yu’er thought to himself: “Why did I have to pick this spot of all places? And why did this spot have to have firewood, of all places! This is really the worst luck.” Who could have guessed that they would choose to hide behind some dried rattan wood (?). And this type of wood just happened to be the best type to start a fire. Coincidence upon coincidence, this was not Xiao Yu’er’s lucky day.

    Tie Xinlan’s palms were already drenched in cold sweat. Her body began to tremble.

    Zhang Qing and Murong Jiumei came closer. The closer they got, the more Tie Xinlan shook. The firewood began to shake from her trembling.

    Zhang Qing suddenly stopped moving and said, “Listen, what’s making that noise?”

    Murong Jiumei said coldly, “Don’t worry, there are no ghosts here.” Xiao Yu’er, suddenly inspired, messed up his hair, and secretly laughed to himself, who knows what he was laughing at?

    Tie Xinlan, seeing him laughing at a time like this, was both furious and frightened.

    Zhang Qing approached a little further, mumbling, “Even if there were no ghosts, even snakes would be enough to scare me out of my wits.”

    Murong Jiumei said coldly, “I’m here, there’s nothing to worry about.”

    Before her words were finished, a monster suddenly sprung out from the darkness.

    Zhang Qing jumped and screamed, cold sweat pouring down.

    Murong Jiumei calmly said, “Who’s playing at monsters and ghosts?”

    The monster shrieked: “Murong Jiumei… Murong Jiumei, you made me die a horrible death. Murong Jiumei…I want you to pay with your life!”

    End of Chapter 23

  13. #13
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
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    Chapter 24

    Under the moonlight, Murong Jiumei could clearly see the face of the monster, who else could it be but Xiao Yu’er? And wasn’t it the very same Xiao Yu’er whom she had indeed caused to die a horrible death?

    In the deep night and the mountain wilderness, the dark wind blew in gusts. In such a place, and so unexpectedly meeting a freak with wild hair and snakes slithering all over his body, whom she recognized as a victim murdered by her own cruel hand.

    No matter how brave Murong Jiumei was, this was something she could not handle.

    She pointed a trembling finger at Xiao Yu’er, her voice quavered: “You…you…”

    Upon speaking the second “you”, she had already fainted dead away from fright.

    Zhang Qing, although she didn’t understand the underlying details behind Murong Jiumei’s reaction, she could certainly see the many snakes writhing around Xiao Yu’er. Seeing Murong Jiumei in a frightened swoon on the ground, she herself was scared out of her wits. With a scream of fear, she turned and ran. In a moment she was out of sight.

    Xiao Yu’er laughed loudly and said, “My snake brothers, no matter if you harm me in the future or not, I still have to thank you. After all, you have saved my life at least twice now.”

    Tie Xinlan was the most bewildered of all. She sprang out from the darkness and stared at Xiao Yu’er. She couldn’t help asking, “When were you killed by Murong Jiumei? I don’t get it, you’re confusing me.”

    Xiao Yu’er said, laughing, “It’s better when girls are a bit confused; the more they know, the more troubles occur. All you need to know is that I’m damn good.”

    Tie Xinlan paused, then sighed: “You are good…you even scared Murong Jiumei into a faint, and frightened Zhang Qing away. Even if we told other people about this, no one would believe us.”

    Looking down at the unconscious Murong Jiumei, Xiao Yu’er mused: “What do you think, how should I deal with her?”

    Tie Xinlan thought for a bit, then said, “Just let her lie here, and we’ll leave.” She looked at Xiao Yu’er’s expression, then continued: “Or perhaps, perhaps you could use the rattan reeds(?) to tie her up. Wait till she comes around, then beat her a few times to get even.”

    Xiao Yu’er said coldly: “Women are really too soft-hearted.”(?) Tie Xinlan asked, “Even this method is not cruel enough?”

    “Of course not.”

    Tie Xinlan’s voice shook: “Unless…unless you mean to kill her?”

    Xiao Yu’er said, “So you’d rather I let her live to return and kill me instead?” Tie Xinlan stamped her foot: “I never thought you…. You are really cruel-hearted.”

    “Well, now you know,” Xiao Yu’er retorted. “Just go somewhere far off if you don’t want to watch me kill her.”

    Tie Xinlan stamped her foot once more and ran off.

    Xiao Yu’er ignored her, his gaze still focused on Murong Jiumei. He murmured, “You evil woman, if I don’t kill you, how could I face myself.” Then he laughed coldly: “I should get my snakes to bite you, then we’ll see who’s more poisonous, you or the snakes.” He grasped Murong Jiumei’s hand as if to feed the snakes on his wrists.

    At this moment the moonlight in the skies happened to shine down on her face. He saw her thin and pale face, her long eyelashes. Although she was still in a swoon, her appearance would make anyone feel pity. Her hands were cold and soft. To feed such hands to the snakes, would take a very ruthless person.

    Xiao Yu’er’s hands also softened slightly, but then he thought of himself imprisoned in the ice cellar, Murong Jiumei leaving him to freeze and starve to death. His anger flared up again, and he gave a sinister laugh: “Whatever happens, you can’t blame me. If you hadn’t tried to kill me, I wouldn’t be avenging myself.”

    Suddenly he heard someone slowly criticizing: “Using this kind of tactics to threaten a girl? You should be ashamed to call yourself a man.”

    Xiao Yu’er’s head snapped up in surprise: “Who’s there?”

    On the word “who”, he could already see a person standing before him. It was the elegant and refined Hua Wuque. Three people stood behind him. Two were the girls in white, and the third was Tie Xinlan. The three girls stared at Xiao Yu’er with huge eyes, as if wanting to devour him whole.

    Xiao Yu’er was furious, but he merely smiled and kept his grip on Murong Jiumei’s hand: “You mean I can’t kill her?”

    “A man should be more courteous when dealing with girls,” Hua Wuque responded evenly. “No matter how she may have wronged you, you should still be gentle, because she is a woman.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed out loud: “What a perfect gentleman! A man like you is truly the good fortune of women everywhere, they should make you an embroidered flag.(?)”

    Hua Wuque smiled faintly and said, “Well said.”(?)

    Xiao Yu’er went on: “But say the women wish to kill you, what should you do then? Should you close your eyes and await your death by their hands? You wouldn’t even return a single blow?”

    “If I have wronged a woman,” Hua Wuque slowly said, “even if she wished to kill me, I would have no complaints.”

    Xiao Yu’er persisted: “And if the woman wronged you? Would you kill her?” Hua Wuque said, “Men should always be gentle with women.”

    “Where did you learn such a strange way of thinking?” Xiao Yu’er laughed bitterly. “According to you, all men everywhere deserve to die, we should all just drown ourselves in the Yellow River.”

    “Not necessarily.”

    Xiao Yu’er stared at him, torn between anger and amusement. Xiao Yu’er could not tell if Hua Wuque honestly didn’t understand him, or was merely pretending not to. He couldn’t decide if Hua Wuque was intelligent or an idiot.

    Hua Wuque looked at him, smiling, without a trace of anger or anxiety. If he had truly been the gentle scholar type he seemed, Xiao Yu’er would have given him a beating a long time ago.

    But his martial arts were truly shocking, as Xiao Yu’er knew. He could only sigh, and say: “What you want is for me to release her?”

    Hua Wuque smiled and said, “Even to release her would be a deed worthy of a hero.”

    Xiao Yu’er retorted, “If I release her today, and in future she returns to kill me, what then?”

    Hua Wuque paused, then said, “Who can predict what will happen in the future?”

    “Fine. If I want to kill her, I’m not a hero, nor a man, and I deserve to die. But if she wants to kill me, this is her natural right, and I should obviously let her murder me, is that it?”

    Hua Wuque laughed, “That’s not what I meant to say. It’s just that…”

    Xiao Yu’er shouted at him: “I don’t care what you meant. Today I am not your match. Even if you farted I’d have to pay attention. But, if ever I gain the upper hand, I swear I will slaughter some women in cold blood for your viewing pleasure.”

    He heavily slapped away Murong Jiumei’s hand, saying, “Take her away.”

    Hua Wuque was not angry at all; in fact he smiled slightly and said: “Thank you.”

    The girls in white darted over like swallows and lifted Murong Jiumei into their arms.

    The round-faced girl stared at Xiao Yu’er and gave a cold laugh: “If my master weren’t here, I would have killed you, to teach you a lesson about respecting women.”

    Xiao Yu’er sneered, “Go ahead. Scold me as you wish. You’re a woman, you have a natural right to scold men, isn’t that right, young master Hua?”

    Hua Wuque smiled: “A man who is scolded by a woman is actually lucky. Certain types of men, are not even worth a scolding.”

    Xiao Yu’er barked out a mirthless laugh. “Ha ha…ha, so then, I must be really lucky. To make you feel better, some day I’ll have to find some women to give you loads of luck.”

    “At that time, I’ll certainly be all ears,” Hua Wuque said, laughing.

    Xiao Yu’er rolled his eyes; he felt as if he would explode with frustration.

    He saw Helu tugging at Tie Xinlan’s hand, urging her: “Young lady, come with us.”

    Tie Xinlan murmured, head bowed, “But I….I…”

    Although her head was lowered, her gaze had never left Xiao Yu’er.

    The round-faced girl said harshly, “Why should you care about this kind of man? Come with us.”

    Helu smiled and added, “My master wishes to speak with you.”

    Xiao Yu’er hollered: “Go, go! Leave with them then. I’m having a bad day already- with you around, my luck will get worse.”

    Tie Xinlan’s head lowered still further, tears already brimming at the corners of her eyes.

    The round-faced girl pulled at her hand, saying, “Ignore him, let’s go.”

    Hua Wuque smiled and bowed, then turned to leave. Murong Jiumei, in Helu’s arms, suddenly moved and mumbled woozily, “Xiao Yu’er….Jiang Yu, let me go…let me go.”

    Hua Wuque’s expression changed slightly. He swiftly turned to stare at Xiao Yu’er, and said, each word distinct: “You are Jiang Yu, and you are also Xiao Yu’er?”

    Quite unconsciously, Xiao Yu’er began to grow alarmed, but he only said: “Why, is my name famous or something?”

    Hua Wuque still stared at him for a brief moment, then lightly sighed and said, “I am very sorry.”

    Xiao Yu’er opened his eyes in surprise: “Sorry? For what?”

    Hua Wuque slowly said: “Because I’m going to kill you!”

    These words shocked everyone.

    “Is your head messed or something?” Xiao Yu’er cried out. “Why do you want to kill me all of a sudden?”

    Hua Wuque answered, “Because you are Jiang Yu. In the entire world there is only one person I must kill. That person is Jiang Yu, and that means you.”

    Xiao Yu’er sat in stunned silence. Then he sighed, “I see. But there must be someone who sent you to kill me.” Hua Wuque replied: “It was an order from my master.”

    Tie Xinlan screamed, “Why would your master want you to kill him? Why?”

    She tried to rush to Xiao Yu’er’s side, but the round-faced girl held her tightly.

    Xiao Yu’er and Hua Wuque faced each other. Neither cast even a glance at Tie Xinlan.

    A pause. Xiao Yu’er suddenly laughed aloud: “Very well. I had wanted to kill you already, but I only held back because my martial arts were inferior. But now…”

    He raised his arms and rushed toward Hua Wuque. He was certainly not Hua Wuque’s match but as long as he could get near him, then his snakes would deal with him. No one could escape his snakes. They would not only take Hua Wuque’s life, but also his own.

    But suddenly his arms shook. His chi(?) suddenly went awry, and both his wrists went numb. Before he had even reached Hua Wuque, the world turned to black.

    Xiao Yu’er awoke. In front of him was an incense burner(?). The scented smoke permeated throughout and wafted towards Xiao Yu’er’s nose. He could not identify the scent. He sniffed…perhaps it was the fragrance of flowers, but no, now it smelled like herbs, maybe. He sniffed carefully a third time and thought maybe it was the scent of a lady’s cosmetics.

    He didn’t care what it was, as long as it smelled wonderful, that was good enough for him.

    Then he saw a knife.

    It was a short dagger, with a jewel-encrusted handle. It was hung above the head of the bed. Its sheath appeared to be made of sharkskin; this was probably an ornamental blade.

    These were the only decorations. The rest of the room was very plain, but neat and tidy(?), and meant to make its occupants comfortable.

    Xiao Yu’er could not figure out where he was. He thought perhaps this was a bamboo hut built for Hua Wuque’s temporary use while on Mount Emei.

    But how did he get here?

    Had he not just been bitten by those lethal snakes? Why had he not succumbed to the poison? Unless it was Hua Wuque who had saved him. But why would he, didn’t he want to kill Xiao Yu’er?

    He turned his head. His eyes instantly met Hua Wuque’s.

    Sunlight streamed through the window. Under the light, Xiao Yu’er saw his eyes, his face, his elegant and refined demeanour, his clothes white as snow. He had to admit, Hua Wuque was a rare example of an extremely handsome young man.

    Hua Wuque seemed to have been sitting there for quite some time. But he did not appear at all impatient or annoyed. Indeed, he seemed prepared to go on sitting there quietly, for a long while yet.

    Xiao Yu’er could not help but admire this. He himself would not have been able to sit still for even fifteen minutes. Xiao Yu’er secretly tried a few movements and found that he was not in any pain. Furthermore, the lethal snakes on his body were entirely gone.

    He inwardly relaxed. “Hey,” he called out, “was it you who saved me?”

    Hua Wuque calmly replied, “It was me.”

    Xiao Yu’er continued: “And it was you who cured me of the snake poison?”

    Hua Wuque explained, “The Fairy Incense (?) and the Lady Pill (?) that you took, they are strong antidotes to many poisons.”

    “But weren’t you trying to kill me just now?” Xiao Yu’er asked.

    Slowly, Hua Wuque said: “I am still going to kill you. But I must do it myself; I can’t allow you to die from other causes.”

    Xiao Yu’er blinked. “Why must you personally kill me?”

    “Those were my orders.”

    Xiao Yu’er was silent for a bit. Then: “I must die by your hand, and I must not be killed by anyone or anything else? So…Don’t you think that’s odd? You’ve never asked why?”

    Hua Wuque said, “I don’t need to ask.” Xiao Yu’er deadpanned: “Looks like you’re quite obedient.”

    “No one may disobey the decrees of the Floral Palace.”

    “Seems like you’re quite honest too,” Xiao Yu’er mused. “Whatever questions I ask, you answer.”

    Hua Wuque said, “No matter who asks me anything, I will always answer truthfully. I still must kill you. But killing you and answering your questions are two utterly unrelated matters.”

    “You must kill me yourself?” Xiao Yu’er repeated. “What if I kill you?”

    “You won’t be able to kill me,” said Hua Wuque. “You dare to fight to the death?” challenged Xiao Yu’er.

    Hua Wuque declared, “I will take your life fairly and honestly!”

    “Fine then, “Xiao Yu’er said. “Just move back a bit first, let me get up.”

    Hua Wuque stood up and retreated eight or nine steps accordingly.

    Xiao Yu’er slowly got up, and mumbled to himself: “You’re too honest a man, but I’m not sure if you’re really honest, or just so confident that you don’t care what I do.”

    While he was speaking, he abruptly drew out the ornamental dagger from its sheath, and dropped to the ground.

    Hua Wuque calmly watched him. His peaceful and noble air was enough to shame many who called themselves martial arts experts.

    Xiao Yu’er suddenly burst into loud laughter: “It’s a simple thing if you merely want me dead. But to kill me yourself, that will never happen.”

    Swiftly he flipped the blade around to point at his own heart.

    Hua Wuque’s expression changed slightly. He asked: “What…what are you doing?”

    Laughing, Xiao Yu’er made a face at him: “You make one move towards me, and I’ll stab myself. Then you’ll never get to kill me.”

    Hua Wuque stood there stunned. He didn’t move. He never could have imagined that Xiao Yu’er would use such a strategy.

    In martial arts, of course Hua Wuque was superior by far. But as for improvisation and adapting to danger, how could he even compare to the unpredictable and wily Xiao Yu’er?

    This disparity, of course, was due to the two men being raised in entirely different environments. The lofty Fairies of the Floral Palace (?) could not hope to match the denizens of the Valley of Evil in craftiness. As for this trick of Xiao Yu’er’s, Hua Wuque would never have been able to execute it, even in his dreams.

    Xiao Yu’er laughed like crazy: “If you still want to kill me, show a little patience. Don’t move…Not even one little move.”

    His eyes were fixed on Hua Wuque, and he retreated step by step. Hua Wuque had no idea how to deal with such a situation, and could only stand still, helplessly watching Xiao Yu’er back out the door.

    Xiao Yu’er did not dare to make a single mistake; although he had exited the door, still his eyes stared at Hua Wuque without blinking. He did not dare to relax even a bit.

    Outside the door, the morning mist surrounded nameless flowers on the mountain. Although the sun had already risen, its light still had not yet dispersed the early morning fog on Mount Emei.

    Step by backward step. He backed across a small path strewn with mountain flowers.(?) Unless he made sure Hua Wuque would not pursue him, Xiao Yu’er could not turn his head around. His steps were slow and his footfalls firm…

    Hua Wuque was suddenly reminded of something, and called out: “Jiang Yu, don’t move!” As he shouted, he began to run out the door.

    Xiao Yu’er threatened: “Stop right there! If you step one foot outside the door, I’ll immediately…”

    Hua Wuque stopped dead at the threshold, beads of anxious, cold sweat on his forehead. He shouted loudly: “I said don’t move, you can’t go any further. Behind you…”

    His warning was in vain; Xiao Yu’er’s left foot stepped backward onto thin air. By the time his shout of surprise could be heard, he had already fallen off the path. Behind him was a precipice; the fog and clouds made it hard to judge its depth. Hua Wuque saw Xiao Yu’er disappear over the edge, and could not reach him in time to pull him back.

    Xiao Yu’er’s shout was sharp and brief; yet its echoes from the surrounding mountains continued to ring. Hua Wuque’s body seemed drained of strength- he clung to the door, slumped against it. He stared into the fog, sweat rolling down drop by drop.

    By now Tie Xinlan had dashed outside, followed by four or five white-robed girls. She ran up to Hua Wuque and demanded, “Who was screaming just now? Was it him…tell me, was it him?!”

    Hua Wuque nodded.

    “Where…where is he?”

    Hua Wuque sighed and shook his head.

    Tie Xinlan saw his expression and stumbled backwards, her voice shaking: “You- you killed him…you killed him!”

    She suddenly flung herself onto Hua Wuque and started hitting him with her fists. Her blows fell like rain upon him.

    Hua Wuque still had not moved. He neither dodged nor defended himself. Tie Xinlan kept hitting him with all her strength, yet it was as if he didn’t even feel it.

    The white-robed girls all cried out in surprise and anger, and simultaneously advanced on Tie Xinlan. Hua Wuque, unexpectedly, shielded her from their attacks, and said gently, “I did not kill him. He actually tripped himself and fell off the cliff edge.”

    Tie Xinlan’s body shook. She drew back, and asked, “You…you really didn’t kill him?”

    Hua Wuque said, “I have never lied in my life.”

    “Then why did you not defend yourself?” she cried out.

    Hua Wuque gazed at her with gentle eyes, and sighed: “I knew that right now you must be suffering greatly in your heart. Even if you hurt me, I wouldn’t blame you.”

    Tie Xinlan was stunned by his words. Emotions clashed in her heart so that she no longer knew what she felt: tenderness, sorrow, bitterness, and anger. Hua Wuque was truly a kind and gentle man. But Xiao Yu’er…that rough and sly Xiao Yu’er, why was he the one who had left a deeper impression on her heart? He, above the other, was the one she always missed, the one she could neither forget nor leave behind. (1)

    Hua Wuque looked at her kindly, and said: “Tie Guniang, you should rest now.”

    Tie Xinlan agreed: “You’re right…I should go to rest…I should go…”

    She suddenly made a mad dash towards the cliff edge, crying out hoarsely: “Xiao Yu’er, wait for me! I’m coming, to rest together with you…”

    But before she reached the edge, Hua Wuque grabbed her hand and stopped her short. Tie Xinlan struggled furiously with all her might, but could not break free.

    Tears flowed freely down her face. She screamed: “Let go of me…let go, why won’t you let me join him? He’s dead, down there by himself, he must be so lonely…”

    They heard someone calmly say: “Who’s dead down there? He must be so lucky, to be left alone to rest forever in peace and quiet.”

    In the milky white fog, they saw a feminine(?) silhouette slowly step out and approach them. It was Murong Jiumei.

    Her face was even paler than the fog. Her once beautiful and lively(?) eyes had lost their brightness. In fact, they now seemed a little crazed.

    Tie Xinlan gritted her teeth and shouted: “Xiao Yu’er is dead now, are you satisfied? He fell off the cliff, why don’t you go down and see how he’s doing?”

    Murong Jiumei lightly shook her head back and forth. She said slowly, “He would not have died here. The dead person here could not be him!”

    Suddenly she laughed out loud a few times. She said, still laughing, “He already died at the Murong Manor, by my hand…One person cannot die twice. What…are you talking about…?”

    Her long hair, unbound, danced and flew about in the wind, just as wild as her crazed giggles.

    Hua Wuque looked at her, sympathy in his eyes. He said softly, “Helu, this young lady must not have yet recovered from fright. Please help her back to the house to rest.”

    Helu grasped Murong Jiumei’s hand, but Murong Jiumei continued to laugh: “I killed him myself, I saw his ghost with my own eyes! Ha, ha! Have you ever seen a ghost? How could you have killed him(?)?”

    A fierce laughter suddenly joined her giggles. Tie Xinlan declared: “None of you could ever kill him. The only person who could do that…is himself.”

    Her laughter dissolved into tears, as her voice cracked and she sobbed, “He has finally died by his own hand…he has destroyed himself. Why do clever people always destroy themselves?”

    Tie Xinlan spoke truly. Clever people will sometimes place too much faith in their own intelligence. Intending to harm others, they wind up hurting themselves.

    Xiao Yu’er, of course, had much more sense than that. That critical moment, when he stepped backward into thin air, had been staged for the benefit of Hua Wuque.

    He had actually already assessed his surroundings and the situation to the smallest detail, even down to the strength he would need to break his fall(?). As his body plummeted, he stabbed his dagger into the cliff face with his right hand. The left immediately grasped onto some reeds(?) growing on the side of the mountain, plastering his body to the cliff wall.

    This stunt alone would naturally demand a fast pair of eyes, an attentive, sharp mind and a brave heart. But in order to actually fool an onlooker, especially one of Hua Wuque’s caliber, the risk would be far greater, would it not?

    Throughout the anguished cries of Tie Xinlan, the wild screams and laughter of Murong Jiumei, and Hua Wuque’s soft and gentle words, Xiao Yu’er had remained pressed against the cliff face. As he heard their speech, thoughts and emotions mixed in his mind to produce an indescribable feeling. But he managed to restrain himself and did not react, as if not a single syllable had reached his ears.

    Finally, as the voices of the onlookers faded away and receded, Xiao Yu’er was able to relax. After a while, he quietly climbed upwards, his eyes turning from the cliff face to look outward. Just as he thought. No one there. He was just about to start upwards again, when, from beside him, someone spoke!

    End of Chapter 24

  14. #14
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
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    The Legendary Siblings translation Ch. 25

    In surprise, Xiao Yu’er whipped his head around. He found himself staring at some monkeys. Dozens of monkeys, who knows where they came from. They began aping his expression and movements, bodies pressed to the cliff wall, heads turning to look outwards. Xiao Yu’er had heard of these Mount Emei monkeys, that they were numerous, and they loved to mimic people.

    But now, upon his first real-life encounter with them, he couldn’t help feeling both angry and amused. He wasn’t sure quite how to get rid of them; he pursed his lips: “Hey…get out of here…”

    The monkeys made faces at him, and copied his lip movements, screaming and yammering. Some of them had really red cheeks, making their expressions quite scary. Xiao Yu’er worried that these monkeys would draw the attention of Hua Wuque, and he began to get nervous. Without thinking, he put out a hand to hit and shoo them away. At once he realized his mistake.

    The monkeys suddenly surrounded him like a nest of angry bees. Together they thrust out their paws.

    Normally Xiao Yu’er wouldn’t even be concerned. But right now his body hung from the cliff wall and his arms were not free to exert any sort of strength. As the monkeys swarmed him, he could only tumble straight down.

    He was fearful, and anxious, and he did not even dare to call out. His arms scratched and grasped wildly at the cliff face. His knife fell from his grasp and also plunged downward. Only after a long interval did he hear a “pok” sound. The cliff wall happened to slope inward(?) and thus the blade was able to fall straight to the bottom. The echo took a long time to reach his ears; the precipice must be terrifyingly deep.

    Xiao Yu’er’s entire body was slippery with sweat. His hands could no longer grip properly. At the point where the cliff face began to slope inward(?), he would also plummet straight to the bottom, where inevitably his body would shatter to pieces.

    The most intelligent man in the world, succumbing to a troop of monkeys…at this thought, Xiao Yu’er didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    The monkeys were also falling downward, but unexpectedly, as they chattered away, each one grabbed the hand of another. Dozens of monkeys, hand in hand, used their feet to climb the slope. They hung in a chain down the side of the cliff, like a string of gourds(?). Not a single one fell off.

    Xiao Yu’er, unfortunately, did fall, and his hands couldn’t grasp anything!

    He could only close his eyes tightly, and laugh bitterly: “It’s over, Xiao Yu’er dies at the hands of apes…”

    At this moment, unexpectedly, a hairy monkey’s paw flew out from nowhere and grabbed his shirt at his chest. This monkey’s grip was frighteningly strong, but the pull of gravity was stronger. Although the paw still clenched the shirt, it ripped, and Xiao Yu’er continued to fall. Without warning, another monkey paw snatched out like lightning, and seized his hair.

    Although the pain made tears stream from his eyes, Xiao Yu’er’s body had finally stopped. He saw the chain of monkeys still there, watching him, making faces and shrieking. And then he saw that the pair of paws grasping him had reached out from a small cave within the cliff face.

    Xiao Yu’er thought to himself, “Probably the one who saved me is the monkey king, otherwise how could it be so strong? Monkeys most likely bear no good will toward humans; surely this one wants to torture me once it has pulled me up into the cave.”

    Xiao Yu’er was indeed a rapidly decisive man. Upon this thought, at once he secretly gathered his chi(?) and prepared to immediately ascend and secure himself to the cave entrance. Then he could deal with the monkey.

    Before he could even make a move, a person’s voice issued from the cave. Its thin and shrill tones warned him: “Don’t move – a single movement and I’ll let you fall!” This voice sounded seven tenths ape-like, but clearly it spoke human language. Was it possible that on Mount Emei, monkeys could converse with words?

    As Xiao Yu’er listened, his body grew clammy with perspiration. In a trembling voice he asked, “Who…what are you?”

    The voice cackled, “Whatever you are, so am I.”

    “You…you are human then?” Xiao Yu’er demanded.

    The voice teased: “Take a guess.”

    Xiao Yu’er sucked in a breath before asking: “What do you want?”

    “Lower your hands and don’t move.”

    Xiao Yu’er could only let his hands fall accordingly. His body was tugged straight up through the air, like riding clouds or floating through fog. All of a sudden the monkey’s paw tapped once on each of his shoulders, squarely on his acupoints. Xiao Yu’er could no longer lift his arms.

    Consequently, as he was pulled into the cave, Xiao Yu’er did indeed resemble a fish.

    The mouth of the cave was not big, yet its interior could not be considered small. Xiao Yu’er’s entire body was sore and hurting from the dragging. His head felt dizzy and close to fainting. He opened his eyes to find a monkey looking at him, its mouth split wide in laughter.

    The monkey was quite large, not much shorter than Xiao Yu’er himself. Upon further inspection, the monkey was actually dressed in material which, although ragged and tattered, was indeed human clothing. Certainly, the monkey’s body was covered in long hair. Undeniably, its bottom was also sprouting long hair. But those eyes, that nose, definitely resembled a man’s. The strangest thing was, the monkey not only had long body hair, he also had a lengthy beard.

    The monkey screeched with laughter: “Do you see now? Which do I resemble?”

    Xiao Yu’er swallowed hard, then said: “You seem three tenths human.”

    The monkey finished for him, “But still I look seven tenths an ape, right?”

    “If it weren’t for hearing you speak words with my own ears, you wouldn’t seem human at all,” Xiao Yu’er admitted. In such a weird situation, it never occurred to him not to be honest- thoughts of life and death were entirely forgotten. Consequently he did not worry about what this creature might do to him.

    Oddly enough, the monkey was not angry at all and instead laughed loudly: “Let me tell you, I am an ape among people, but yet, among the apes, I am the most human. If you called me a man you would be correct, but to label me a monkey would not be wrong either.”

    Xiao Yu’er cried out, stunned: “An ape among humans, but a human among apes. Could it be…you are…”

    Abruptly someone’s voice said coldly, “Don’t listen to him, of course he is a man. It’s just that he was born looking like a monkey, and after having spent so much time living among them, he seems even less like a human.”

    The cave was huge. Sunlight streamed through the small entrance, leaving the back of the cave largely dark and poorly visible. The voice came from this area, and it sounded entirely human(?). Xiao Yu’er jumped again: “And what are you?”

    A person stepped out slowly from the shadows. Thin and withered, his entire head covered in hair and fur, at first glance he also appeared barely human. But his eyes were very clear(?), and seemed to be full of intelligence. Other than man, there was no other animal with eyes like these.

    Xiao Yu’er released his breath. “That’s right. You are a man…but who are you exactly? And exactly how did you wind up here? And how did you become like this?"

    This man let out a long sigh: “You’d better ask him.”

    Before he had finished speaking, the monkey jumped up and started yelling: “Ask me? If it wasn’t for you, why would I be trapped in this place like a living ghost? And how would I have become like this, not even recognizable as a human?”

    The man sneered, “Did you ever look human from the day you were born? Of the Twelve Zodiacs, who even resembled a human?”

    Xiao Yu’er’s eyes had been darting back and forth between the two speakers. Although he had felt frightened, this was also mixed with amusement and curiosity. Upon hearing these last words, however, he stared in shock and fear at the monkey: “You…you really are one of the Twelve Zodiacs?”

    The monkey straightened his back and proudly declared: “That is correct. I am the Lord of Monkeys(?)….of the Twelve Zodiacs!”

    Xiao Yu’er unconsciously recoiled , his back against the wall. Turning to the man, he said, “And…you are?”

    The man smiled bitterly: “At your young age, of course you’ve never heard of my name…” He, too, drew himself up straight. From his eyes shone a sudden light, and he thundered, “But fourteen years ago, if you mentioned the name “Countless blossoms in the sky, soundlessly descending(?)”, who wouldn’t know you meant Shen Qinghong?”

    The Lord of Monkeys barked out a sarcastic laugh: “Dog crap, you were never more than a mere protection agency guard. Upon hearing the name of the Twelve Zodiacs, you would have been cowering in fear.”

    Shen Qinghong laughed mockingly: “Is that so? If the Twelve Zodiacs were really that powerful, why weren’t you able to take a single penny from me? And how did I trap you in here fully fourteen years?”

    As the two ridiculed and jeered at each other, Xiao Yu’er listened in astonishment; only thus did he know that these companions of fourteen years were hardly friends and in fact were bitter enemies. He could not imagine how they had passed all this time, and still survived.

    The monkey and the man glared at each other. Both tensed up like arrows on the drawn bow, ready to go off at the slightest touch. But before either made a move, the Lord of Monkeys burst into ferocious laughter: “But you forget, now this little pipsqueak is here, I’m not afraid of being alone anymore. I could care less if I killed you right now.”

    Shen Qinghong snapped coldly: “It’s only because you loathe me, you resent me so much that you couldn’t bear to let me die first. That’s why you’ve lasted so long. If I really died, heh, you’d be following me soon after.”

    Before he could stop himself, Xiao Yu’er blurted out: “You mean that it was only the mutual hatred that has sustained you for so long? That you even had to compete at living the longest?”

    The Lord of Monkeys growled through gritted teeth: “How could the Twelve Zodiacs allow this lowly guard to die first?”

    Xiao Yu’er repeated, “And these long fourteen years, you have spent bickering and fighting with each other all the while?”

    “Without that, how could we have endured the passage of time?” Shen Qinghong retorted.

    “Otherwise, I would have slaughtered him a long, long time ago!” the Lord of Monkeys agreed.

    Xiao Yu’er asked, incredulous: “But why didn’t you both try to think of a way to escape out of here?”

    The Lord of Monkeys explained, “If I could think of a plan, wouldn’t I have left a long time ago, instead of waiting here for this pipsqueak to suggest it?”

    “But if you can’t leave,” Xiao Yu’er persisted, “then how did you get here in the first place?”

    The Lord of Monkeys said fiercely: “Only because those goods(?) were hidden here, I forced him to bring me here! At the time I almost didn’t believe it, so I made him enter first. I then followed…obviously we came down by rope.”

    Most likely it was due to his long abstinence from normal conversation, or perhaps it was hatred that had made him overly emotional. In any case, his words made no sense.

    He blinked his eyes, thinking to himself, then slowly continued: “He originally was a guard assigned to escort a pile of goods. I knew this and tried to steal it. But who could have guessed, he pulled the “cicada shedding its husk” strategy, first hiding the goods here.(1) If I had tried to make my move, I would have stolen a whole lot of nothing!”

    The Lord of Monkeys ground his teeth again and muttered: “His mother must be a real b*tch for sure.”

    Xiao Yu’er said, barely containing his laughter, “I think it was only because your martial arts were too strong for him, so he had no choice, yet he was smarter than you and eventually trapped you in here.”

    “Yes, although there were certain other twists and turns, in general you have the story right, “admitted Shen Qinghong.

    Xiao Yu’er, continuing to think through the tale, said to the Lord of Monkeys, “The two of you descended on a rope together. Of course he would have been in front, and you behind, since you would be afraid of him cutting the rope.”

    The Lord of Monkeys concurred: “That treacherous protection agency mongrel, I wouldn’t put it past him to do anything. Of course I had my guard up.”

    “But what happened to that piece of rope?” Xiao Yu’er demanded curiously.

    The Lord of Monkeys ground his teeth –scrunch, scrunch- and snarled: “I was so happy to see the pile of goods that I forgot to keep my eye on him. How would I know that the scoundrel would set fire to that rope?”

    Xiao Yu’er sighed, “Of course you wouldn’t know. This plan was too clever for you to figure out; he must have already planned for you to die trapped in here. And he must have prepared himself beforehand to die with you, otherwise why would he bring you to the treasure’s true hiding place?”

    Shen Qinghong sighed as well: “Amazing, that at such a tender age, you could know me inside and out. At the time, I kept thinking and thinking, and could only settle on this method to ensnare him. Otherwise I’d rather die than lead him here.”

    Xiao Yu’er was still puzzled on one point: “But during all this time, what food did the two of you live on?”

    The Lord of Monkeys boasted loudly: “Of course, that all depended on me…”

    Unexpectedly bursting into laughter, Xiao Yu’er said, “Yes, yes of course it would. You are the Lord of Monkeys, of course you would have ways to make the monkeys bring food to you.” (2)

    His words were sarcastic, perhaps even scornful, but the Lord of Monkeys, was paradoxically pleased and laughed, “The temperament of monkeys, no one understands better than I. I just need to throw a stone from the cave; when it hits them, they will try to hit me back, and wind up pelting fruit into the cave…”

    “And what if they cast stones instead, and not fruit?” Xiao Yu’er interrupted.

    The Lord of Monkeys cackled twice before replying: “Outside, the steep precipice is so deep, where could they conveniently find stones?”

    Xiao Yu’er smiled and nodded in agreement: “That makes sense, it would be a lot easier for the monkeys to pick fruit rather than searching for stones. But…but, are such small amounts of fruit enough to sustain you?”

    “Whatever the monkeys eat, is good enough for us,” the Lord of Monkeys declared. “Although the monkeys don’t eat a lot, then again, we don’t need to eat that much either.”

    Xiao Yu’er glanced at their thin and withered bodies. Suppressing his laughter, he said: “Indeed, I can certainly see that.”

    The Lord of Monkeys bared his teeth in a grin: “Don’t get smug yet, little pipsqueak- from now on you’ll be eating like this too. But don’t worry! You’re the first new person I’ve seen in years, I won’t let you starve.”

    Shen Qinghong said, “I’m so sick of looking at that monkey’s face, even if he wanted to starve you to death, I wouldn’t permit it.”

    Xiao Yu’er paid no attention to him; instead he stared out of the cave, lost in thought.

    The Lord of Monkeys laughed: “From now on we’ll be family. Who knows, we could be living together thirty, fifty years. Hey, what’s your name? You should tell us that first.”

    “Jiang Yu,” Xiao Yu’er answered automatically. After a pause, he asked, “Where is the pile of treasure now?”

    Shen Qinghong said, “You want to look at it?”

    “After all, it’s treasure, who wouldn’t want to?” replied Xiao Yu’er.

    “Very well. Follow me…” Shen Qinghong started to say, but was cut off by the Lord of Monkeys: “The treasure is mine- you touch it, you die!”

    He glared at them for a while, but eventually relaxed. With a smile, he said, “But perhaps we’ll let this little fish see it, and let him see the might of the Twelve Zodiacs.”

    As he spoke, he pulled out two chests from a corner in the darkness.

    Although the dark metal(?) chests were covered in rust, their contents shone with the light of jewels and treasure. Their brightness stung the eyes; the Lord of Monkeys was so dazzled that his eyes had become slits in the dark. With mad glee he giggled: “Do you see now, Xiao Yu’er?(3) All this is mine; I would only need to bestow a thousandth of it on you for you to live comfortably the rest of your life.”

    Xiao Yu’er took no notice of him. He ruminated, his eyes fixed on the gleaming hoard. A long pause. Unexpectedly he gave a deep sigh and lamented, “What a pity. A pity, I say!”

    He spoke again slowly and wistfully: “It’s a shame that you two have only met me now, a bit late.”

    “And so what if we had met you earlier?” the Lord of Monkeys asked, startled.

    “If you had met me one year earlier, “ Xiao Yu’er stated, “at this moment you would have savoured one year’s worth of freedom in the wide, wide world. Had you met me a decade before now, you would have escaped for ten years already.”

    The Lord of Monkeys, just like a real monkey, blinked over and over while saying, “You mean…”

    Xiao Yu’er chimed in, “I mean that the sooner you met me, the earlier I would have rescued you.”

    The Lord of Monkeys stepped backward three paces. He stopped blinking. He stared open-eyed at Xiao Yu’er, as if flowers had suddenly started sprouting on Xiao Yu’er’s nose.

    Recovering himself, he hooted loudly: “You crazy nut, you madman, how could you get us out?”

    He grabbed Shen Qinghong, he was laughing so hard that he could hardly catch his breath. He went on, “Did you hear that? This buffoon said he could get us out of here! Who does he think he is, a god?”

    Shen Qinghong focused his gaze on Xiao Yu’er. He saw the other man’s clear, bright eyes. He saw the smile playing at the corners of his mouth. The words fell one by one from Shen Qinghong’s lips: “He might just have a way. It is possible.”

    Disbelievingly the Lord of Monkeys cried out: “You…you actually believe the words of this little runt?”

    Xiao Yu’er smiled slightly: “It is only because my brain was built just the tiniest bit different from yours.”

    Infuriated, the Lord of Monkeys shouted: “What, you’re saying your brain is more useful than mine?”

    “Not at all. My brain might not be too much superior to yours, only about ten or twenty times,” Xiao Yu’er smiled soothingly.

    The Lord of Monkeys jumped: “Bull sh*t.”

    “But there’s no need to get upset,” Xiao Yu’er continued. “Your type of brain probably isn’t bad at all. As for my kind of brain, you probably couldn’t find a second one like it on this earth.”

    Emitting a strange screech, the Lord of Monkeys yelled, “All right, in that case, if you don’t come up with an idea, I’ll murder you.”

    Xiao Yu’er wagered: “If I can’t get you out of this godforsaken place within three months, my head is forfeit.”

    The Lord of Monkeys echoed, “Three months…ha, ha ha! I think your head must be deranged, even three years…”

    “Three years won’t be necessary,” Xiao Yu’er cut in. “I only need three months. And if in three months time, I really do manage to lead you away from here, how will you repay me?”

    The Lord of Monkeys said, “I wouldn’t care if I lost my head to you.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed, “Well, your head is too cumbersome to carry, and even Li Dazhui wouldn’t want to scavenge it. Even one head would be too much; if there were eight, I’d be crushed under all the dead weight.”

    He held up a hand to prevent another outburst from the Lord of Monkeys. Smiling, he said, “If you lose, I just want you to turn a few cartwheels(?) for me to see, that will be enough.”

    The Lord of Monkeys sprang up, his face like thunder. “You dare insult me…fine. If I lose, I will do as you wish. But if you lose, I must have your head.”

    “You have my word,” Xiao Yu’er agreed. “But, as long as I can get you out, you can’t object to any method I may use.”

    The Lord of Monkeys replied, “Whatever, you could use your mother, it’s entirely up to you.”

    “All right then,” Xiao Yu’er declared, “three months. We will commence our wager now.”

    Without warning, he snatched up the largest piece of deep green jade, and flung it out of the cave.

    End of Chapter 25

  15. #15
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
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    The Legendary Siblings Chapter 26

    The piece of brilliant jade was still able to dazzle the eyes as it flew through the darkness. Shen Qinghong, who had looked at Xiao Yu’er with a suppressed smile throughout all this, felt a shock at this point. The Lord of Monkeys appeared to have been driven mad- he grabbed Xiao Yu’er and screamed wildly, “You…you idiot, do you even know what you’ve done?”

    “How could I not know?” Xiao Yu’er returned with a laugh.

    The Lord of Monkeys hopped around frantically: “You knew that you just threw out a piece of imperial jade(?), which is equivalent to destroying a big house with smooth walls, completely tiled (?)…it’s worth three hundred big, fat oxen.”

    “Of course I also know that,” Xiao Yu’er said.

    “You…you consider this rescuing me?” cried the Lord of Monkeys. “You may as well kill me now.”

    Xiao Yu’er sighed, “Well, if you desire riches above your own life, then forget it.”

    The Lord of Monkeys protested, “But you…you…what is the point of this?”

    “I already knew that you wouldn’t see my point,” Xiao Yu’er laughed mockingly. “But even you don’t understand?”

    Those last words, of course, were meant for Shen Qinghong.

    Shen Qinghong’s face lit up. “I think I understand a little, but still not entirely.”

    Xiao Yu’er explained, “Once I cast out all these pieces of treasure, the monkeys will, of course, scramble to catch them. They would naturally, like my monkey brother here, not even dream of throwing away such curious and pretty objects.”

    “But of course.” Shen Qinghong agreed, smiling.

    “If I throw out one hundred pieces of treasure,” Xiao Yu’er went on, “at least fifty pieces will be caught by them. Then the monkeys would take the various pieces to different places, to play and catch the light with them.(?) Even if only a single piece caught someone’s attention, that person would be hooked into investigating the origin of the treasure.”

    Shen Qinghong concurred: “If it were me, I would be just the same.”

    Xiao Yu’er further postulated, “The discoverer of the treasure would not trust in his own solitary abilities. He would find a companion to help him. With this type of secret, as soon as you let a second person know, then instantly a third person will know as well. Once a third person hears of the treasure, then the third hundredth person will be aware of it too. As soon as the rumour leaks out, people will come, never you fear.”

    Clapping his hands, Shen Qinghong laughed: “Exactly. Even if the initial finder was a totally inept person, when tempted with a treasure, he would suddenly become resourceful. Besides, when the news spreads, all sorts of talents and treasure hunters will appear.”

    Xiao Yu’er sighed again: “So now you understand, we just need people to find this place, and then we’ll be sure to find a way out. The fact that neither of you managed to think of this simple strategy, is exceedingly strange.”

    The furious expression had long vanished from the Lord of Monkeys, and at this point he actually leapt up and hugged Xiao Yu’er, and began giggling crazily like a madman: “You are truly, indeed, the cleverest man alive.”

    In this way, many baubles and precious objects, the value of which most people could not earn even over a lifetime, were thrown out by Xiao Yu’er like so many rotten peaches or banana peels. Throughout all this, the Lord of Monkeys looked as if he was being gutted by knives; he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    From then on, as Xiao Yu’er discarded more and still more treasure, the Lord of Monkeys turned blue in the face and his eyes bulged. He ceaselessly muttered and yammered aloud: “Clever one, oh clever one, do you realize how much riches you have thrown away? If we converted them into money, we could have physically filled in this entire pit of a precipice.”

    Xiao Yu’er paid no attention to him.

    By the seventh day, the Lord of Monkeys began to constantly wipe beads of sweat from his forehead, his fists clenched. He hissed, “Intelligent one, oh intelligent one, if your brilliant plan does not succeed, do you know how horribly you are going to die?”

    Xiao Yu’er replied indifferently, “If, by the time I have used up the treasure, no one has come, then you may dispose of me as you wish.” In reality he himself was also beginning to get worried. The treasure had already diminished by half, and not even a curious ghost was to be seen.

    Eventually the Lord of Monkeys seized the chests and sat on top of them, howling: “No more, don’t even think about touching them!”

    “So you really value treasure above your own life?” Xiao Yu’er asked.

    The Lord of Monkeys ground his teeth: “I have suffered fifteen long years for the sake of this treasure. If it all goes to waste at the hands of a runt like you, what’s the point of living?”

    Xiao Yu’er rolled his eyes: “What you say is not entirely unreasonable. But think, it might just take one more precious item to bring some rescuers. It’s a shame to go so far and waste our efforts now.(?)”

    The Lord of Monkeys rubbed his head, thinking, “This…”

    Xiao Yu’er looked at him, smiling, and leisurely added, “Perhaps it just needs one more…only one…”

    At last the Lord of Monkeys gave a screech, and sprang aside: “You little pipsqueak, you’ve got quite a tongue. All right, you’ve convinced me.”

    If it needed one more item, then perhaps it needed two. And if it took two pieces, then maybe three…days passed like this, and still not a soul could be seen.

    Now the Lord of Monkeys seized Xiao Yu’er’s clothes, teeth grinding –grr grr- and hissed: “What does the pipsqueak have to say now?”

    Xiao Yu’er said, “You never know, it could just take…”

    “It could just take one more, right?!” the Lord of Monkeys screamed.

    “Precisely,” Xiao Yu’er laughed.

    The Lord of Monkeys stamped his foot: “Dog crap on your mother! You’ve made me suffer enough, and you still want to…want to…” Two hands, like monkey paws, reached out to wring Xiao Yu’er’s neck.

    At that moment Shen Qinghong let out a “hey”, then whispered, “Someone’s coming!”

    By the side of the cave, a person’s head half peeked out.

    It was indeed someone’s head, which had been combed into a (?) style, but the hat that should have been sitting on it was gone, apparently swept off by the wind.

    This person’s eyebrows were thick and dark, he looked quite threatening. But the eyebrows were drawn together in the middle, as if he was troubled by something. Even if he had many troubles, it was not apparent from his eyes(?).

    His eyes bulged out from his face, almost as if the eyeballs were growing out of the sockets. His pupils were fixed and motionless, while the whites were crisscrossed with blood vessels. Those bloodshot eyes stared at the three people in the cave, empty and expressionless.

    Although these were clearly the eyes of a person, they somehow were not. Such large eyes, and yet no signs of life in them! Xiao Yu’er, Shen Qinghong and the Lord of Monkeys were all looking back at those eyes. Stare as they might, yet for some reason, their hearts all felt a chill.

    Those expressionless and lifeless eyes seemed so cruel, so cold and so terrifying. The motionless pupils carried an inexorable air of death.

    The Lord of Monkeys couldn’t help shouting, “Who the h*ll are you?”
    His cry was cut short-the head flew through the air towards them!

    No hands, no chest, no body…no nothing. This was definitely only a head, one solitary, human head.

    The Lord of Monkeys stood there, stunned. From outside the cave there floated the sounds of eerie, threatening laughter, as a few monkeys showed their laughing faces.

    Xiao Yu’er let out a breath, and smilingly scolded them, “So it was you who were playing tricks!”

    But this head could not have been severed by the monkeys.

    Shen Qinghong picked up the head, and looked at the eyebrows, the bulging pair of eyes. He muttered, “But who killed him?”

    Xiao Yu’er glanced outside at the setting sun, and said slowly, “The killer should arrive shortly.”

    But no one arrived, killer or otherwise.

    The sunset stretched into the long, deep night, which also exhausted itself. During this long while, the Lord of Monkeys could neither sit nor stand still. The misty colours of dawn gradually penetrated the darkness of the cave…Without warning, a hand reached in from the outside of the cave!

    The five fingers on this hand resembled hooks, as if they wished to grasp something. But the hand was empty. The hand somehow looked sinister in the early morning light. The Lord of Monkeys flew over with the speed of wind, and seized the wrist. Without using much force, however, the entire hand was wrenched into the cave!

    Once again, this was a single, solitary hand. And as before, it had been completely cut off. The blood at the wound had already clotted and congealed into a miserable red colour. There was a scar on the back of the hand, long and deep, with twists and turns like the writhing of a snake. Presumably, many years ago this hand had also been chopped at and narrowly missed an amputation.

    The faces of the monkeys with their sly smiles swayed outside the cave, red as if painted with fresh blood.(?) The Lord of Monkeys ground his teeth audibly, and hissed: “The head precedes, and then the hand follows. Heaven forbid, the next body part will be a stinky foot.”

    Xiao Yu’er declared, “The head and the hand do not belong to the same person.”

    “How would you know? Did you ask him?” the Lord of Monkeys laughed coldly.

    Xiao Yu’er observed: “The skin on the face was delicate and soft. On the hand, however, it was like sandpaper. Even if you can’t see it, you should be able to feel the difference.”

    “Hmph!” the Lord of Monkeys retorted. After a while, he couldn’t help admitting, “Then perhaps the hand belongs to another person…”

    “Correct,” Xiao Yu’er said. “Furthermore, it was this hand that chopped off that head!”

    The Lord of Monkeys said, surprised: “What, you know that too? Did you witness it?”

    “Take a look at the hand,” Xiao Yu’er explained. “A single glance, and you should know that this hand is a strong one. Only a hand with this kind of strength could achieve a clean decapitation with one stroke.”

    “Hmph!” the Lord of Monkeys said once more.

    Xiao Yu’er elaborated further: “If you note the markings on this hand, you can tell that just before it was amputated, it must have been tightly gripping a blade. And not just any blade, but the weapon must have been a rare, precious one. Therefore, as soon as the hand that held it was chopped off, the blade was wrenched from its grasp… A strong hand gripping a keen blade, this must have made it much easier to cut off someone’s head. What doesn’t make sense is, how exactly was the hand severed?”

    Shen Qinghong suddenly let out a long sigh: “You speak truly; this is indeed a strong hand, and it was indeed gripping a valuable weapon.”

    The Lord of Monkeys laughed mockingly, his eyes flashed: “Ha, and all of a sudden you are sure of this too?”

    “Of course I do,” Shen Qinghong retorted. “The head I might not know, but the hand I certainly recognize.”

    Xiao Yu’er raised his eyebrows, and guessed: “Is it the scar you recognize?”

    “Precisely.” Shen Qinghong confirmed. “I was the one who injured the hand and made this scar. And it was I who applied healing herbs to this wound. Judging from the way it healed, I(?)…how could I forget?” His voice betrayed much sadness.

    The Lord of Monkeys scratched his nose, saying: “First you wounded him, then you gave him medicines… are you mentally ill or something?”

    Xiao Yu’er blinked his eyes, thinking aloud: “That cut must have been an accident. Thus, at once you felt regret and applied the medicines to the hand, is that it?”

    “Exactly,” Shen Qinghong agreed with a sad smile.

    “In that case, this person must be your friend?” Xiao Yu’er asked.

    Shen Qinghong sighed deeply once again: “In former days, this person was known in wulin as “Boss Tie, the Golden Blade”. Tie Yulong and I were certainly good friends, but it was only because we were competing for the position of protection agency boss that I…I accidentally sliced his hand once. Afterwards I wished to make amends, but he…he had left without saying goodbye. This was roughly twenty years ago now. Who could have guessed that today, he…” Shen Qinghong turned his head away.

    The Lord of Monkeys mused, “ ‘Boss Tie, the Golden Blade’ …hmm, I have heard of this name before. Apparently he not only had more guts, but his martial arts were also superior to yours. What a pity that he wasn’t as devious as you, and so he suffered that blow.”

    Shen Qinghong gloomily agreed, “I am far from his equal.”

    The Lord of Monkeys drew his eyebrows together, and anxiously said: “This person’s martial arts were quite good in the first place. In these twenty years, he must have trained hard, to make up for his injury. Thus his martial arts must have improved quite a bit. Yet even at that advanced level, his hand was cut off. The perpetrator must be very skilled; we must therefore be very cautious.”

    After this speech, he said nothing more, but would only sit cross-legged(?) in the darkest corner of the cave, breathing evenly and cultivating his chi(?), staring at the entrance to the cave.

    Outside the cave, it began to brighten, a tiny breeze was carrying the fragrance and warmth of summer. Occasionally the queer howls of laughter from the monkeys sounded back and forth(?).

    The sunlight, the scents and the warmth, such unfettered freedom… tears suddenly streamed from Shen Qinghong’s eyes. He turned his head and said hoarsely, “Do you…do you honestly think someone will come? Will someone really find this place?”

    Xiao Yu’er responded: “They will.”

    Shen Qinghong asked, “But who will come? And will they rescue us or not?”

    The Lord of Monkeys gave a ferocious laugh: “Of course they will. No matter who, I don’t care, I just need them to lower a rope, that rope…”

    “But if what they want is not you, but your treasure, once they come in here they will kill you, what do they care?” Shen Qinghong interrupted.

    Cackling wildly, the Lord of Monkeys replied, “They can’t kill me, no one can kill me…before they even saw me, I would have killed them first.”

    Shen Qinghong persisted: “And what if it was a friend, you would still kill…”

    The Lord of Monkeys hooted with laughter: “Friend? On this earth, who is my friend? From the age of seven I have been friendless. When I hear the word “friend” I want to vomit.”

    Shen Qinghong slowly blinked his eyes and said: “Very well then.”

    The Lord of Monkeys instructed them, slowly and clearly pronouncing his words: “The two of you, if you want to live to get out of here, don’t do anything stupid. In fact, it doesn’t matter if you don’t do anything. Just when the person enters, distract him, otherwise…”

    Suddenly with a “sough” sound, a sword flew straight into the cave. Without waiting for it to hit the cave wall, Shen Qinghong had already seized it in his hand. He saw a blue light shimmer along the blade; although it was not a rare treasure, it was still certainly a well-crafted weapon(?).

    The Lord of Monkeys shouted: “Where is the swordsman?”

    “The swordsman?” Xiao Yu’er slowly repeated. “Doubtless he is also dead. This weapon was flung into the cave by your monkey brothers. If the sword’s owner were still alive, how could he permit such a well-made weapon fall into the hands of apes?”

    “But of course. While the man exists, so does the sword; when the man dies, the sword also is no more…” sighed Shen Qinghong.

    He lightly stroked the intricate and elegant sword, and found that exact sentiment carved into the blade in eight golden words like glittering thread: “Man and sword live and perish as one.”

    “To match this sword, its owner must have been a superb swordsman,” Xiao Yu’er remarked.

    Shen Qinghong thrust the sword before Xiao Yu’er, saying: “Examine the sword; are there any further markings besides these eight words?”

    There were three golden circles also inscribed on the blade.

    Xiao Yu’er blinked: “Nothing much, merely three circles…”

    Shen Qinghong heaved a sigh: “You are correct in what your eyes observe. But these mere three circles… did you know what serious meaning these would have among the heroes of wulin?”

    “What do they mean?” Xiao Yu’er asked.

    “With these three circles alone,” explained Shen Qinghong, “you could procure vast quantities of silver and gold. You could change the lives of a thousand people. (?) You could make bitter rivals shake hands and vow peace. And you could also turn sworn brothers into lifelong enemies.”

    Laughing, Xiao Yu’er said, “There must be some devilry in these circles then.” Shen Qinghong replied: “They contain no devilry, but these three circles are the mark of “Hunter of spirits, raider of lives, Three-Ring Swordsman” Shen Yang. By using those three circles, a task could be accomplished as easily as crossing a river.” (?)

    “Oh, I see,” Xiao Yu’er said. “This Shen character truly has such influence and power?”

    Shen Qinghong continued: “This Three-Ring Sword is one of the ‘Famed Seven Swords’. As for his stroke “Three Rings Envelop the Moon”, when Shen Yang executes it, it is truly…”

    Shen Qinghong fell silent for a while, then with a long sigh he said, “The Three Ring Swordsman, dying in this fashion, is really something I could not have imagined. From this we can see, the caliber of the experts you have lured here with your treasure, must be great indeed.”

    Xiao Yu’er said, amused: “At the top of the precipice, they must be fighting like mad right now. Only too bad we couldn’t see it.”

    Moodily, Shen Qinghong commented: “True. At this moment, up above, there must be so many of our wulin peers and friends shedding blood and taking lives. This is all as a result of your doing, you should be regretful and sorrowful, instead of…”

    Laughing even harder, Xiao Yu’er pointed out to him: “The sort of people who would, for mere metal and baubles (?), take others’ lives and risk their own, should not be calling themselves heroes of wulin. To my mind, they’re nothing but a herd of idiots; who deserves to be mocked if not them?”

    A brief pause. Shen Qinghong fell silent, and slowly lowered his head. With a sigh he spoke again: “Fighting so ruthlessly for such superficial gains…on second thought, it really does seem stupid. But I…how could I claim to be different from them?”

    Xiao Yu’er told him, “If you start talking with me more often, who knows, in the future you may just get a little smarter.”

    This day also was spent in nervous anticipation. The Lord of Monkeys opened his already wide eyes even further. The day slowly faded, and his eyes became like two lanterns for some intense, brilliant ghost lights(?).

    It was close to midnight,(?) and not a soul was visible outside the cave entrance. But just when they had waited until the long, long night had almost exhausted itself, from the endless outer darkness, there suddenly came a burst of loud noise. Earsplitting and devious cackles; it was the monkeys laughing again.

    His eyebrows drawn together, Xiao Yu’er scolded, “Monkeys, it’s the middle of the night, why are you making all this racket?”

    Shen Qinghong said heavily: “The monkeys dislike the night. If they are making so much noise now, there must be a reason for it.”

    He had barely finished speaking, when “ding dong, wa-la” –a stream of clattering noises announced that the monkeys had hurled about ten or so objects into the cave. The cave interior was pitch-black; no one could see what these objects were. The monkeys’ laughter gradually faded, as if they had accomplished some obscure mission and had left.

    Xiao Yu’er felt around blindly, and grasped an object. He said, “This feels like a sickled(?) sword.”

    Shen Qinghong said glumly, “A sickled sword? In recent years this type of weapon has become rather rare in wulin, and its strokes have gradually been lost to the common repertoire. Anyone able to use this type of sword, must be a top-notch practitioner.”

    “Then it seems, once again, that a top-notch practitioner has just lost his life,” Xiao Yu’er quipped.

    He again searched with his fingers, and fished up another object. Shen Qinghong asked, “What is that?”

    “It is round, smooth, and has a chain attached(?),” Xiao Yu’er noted. “Seems like a morningstar, yet not exactly. (1) I can’t really tell what it is.”

    Shen Qinghong repeated, mumbling: “Round? And smooth…ah, perhaps it is the most poisonous weapon of the Five Great Sects(?) of wulin, ‘the Pearl of Thunder and Five Poisons’!”

    Xiao Yu’er said, “Pearl of Thunder and Five Poisons, this name sounds quite powerful.”

    “When you use it,” Shen Qinghong explained, “you use the same technique as with ordinary morningstars, but in the copper sphere there lies some hidden projectiles. When an enemy encounters it, the hidden projectiles will fly out. Even a high-level martial arts expert would be hard pressed to avoid injury. In this way, the possessor of this weapon, Yang Lu, became quite feared throughout most of wulin.”

    Although Shen Qinghong had been gone from wulin for fifteen years, his knowledge of its inner secrets was as detailed as though they were his household heirlooms.(?)

    Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Well apparently this Yang fellow didn’t get to show off his special technique this time before he was killed. The killer undoubtedly must be an expert of the highest quality.”

    “Take another look, do you see anything more?” Shen Qinghong prompted. “But be careful, since there are experts here from the Five Sects, these objects here must be reeking of poison.”

    Laughing, Xiao Yu’er reassured him, “Do I look like the type of person who would fall for another’s poison? Of course I covered my hands in cloth first. Hmm, there’s a sword here that resembles a Nine-Ring sword.” He made a thrust with his hand; an ear-numbing noise thundered forth.

    “Judging from that sound,” Shen Qinghong observed, “this sword sounds extremely heavy.”

    “It is indeed,” Xiao Yu’er agreed. “About fifty catties, I’m afraid.”

    Shen Qinghong said, “The noise alone from such a sword would be lethal. Presumably its owner had incredible arm strength and martial arts, definitely not below Golden Blade Tie Yulong. Indeed, it could be ‘Evil-Cleansing Sword’ Zeng Lun!”

    Xiao Yu’er continued searching: “Here we have a Judge’s Pen. It’s very heavy too. To be able to use this pen to seal acupoints, the user’s abilities must also be quite superb.”

    “Pass it over, let me see it,” Shen Qinghong said.

    “See it?” joked Xiao Yu’er. “Don’t you mean- let me touch it? I don’t think you could see anything right now.”

    Shen Qinghong’s finger ran lightly over the cold and strong brush. Where he gripped the brush, he thought he felt many engraved words. He blindly spelled them out with his fingers moving down the brush.

    At the top were carved the four words: “Those without righteousness die”.

    Shen Qinghong cried out: “Indeed, it is the ‘Judge of Life and Death’ Zhao Gong, he…how did he die as well?”

    “All people die, what is so strange about that?” asked Xiao Yu’er.

    “But…but the “Judge of Life and Death” was the foremost expert alive in wulin with respect to sealing acupoints. His martial arts were unsurpassed in the central plains. Who killed him? In fact, who could have killed him?!”

    Xiao Yu’er hypothesized, “It is possible that he didn’t die, but was merely parted from his weapon.”

    Shen Qinghong disagreed: “All martial arts experts everywhere, without question, view their esteemed weapons as their lives. Since these weapons have fallen into the hands of monkeys, their owners must have lost their lives as well!”

    By this time, a faint light had started shining into the cave. Although it was not strong, it was enough for the keen eyes of Shen Qinghong and the others to perceive clearly the state of the lost weapons.

    They saw that besides the sickled sword, the Pearl of Five Poisons, and the Nine-Ring sword, there were also two other swords, a spear, a pair of tiger’s head hooks(?), three steel projectiles(?) and two bags of stealth projectiles.

    Shen Qinghong picked up one of the other swords. It was light and skillfully crafted, its blade thin as paper. He said, “This is from the pair of swords called ‘Dragon and Phoenix in Twin Flight, Mandarins’ Swords’ – it is the ‘Skyward Phoenix’ sword. Where is its partner ‘Divine Dragon”? Perhaps they were forced apart…ai!”

    He continued, “The Dragon and Phoenix, what a pair…throughout wulin, they were considered to have wings- they could soar and glide the skies for nine days straight, who could have guessed that in the end, they would be separated by a cruel hand!”

    Sighing, he put down the “Skyward Phoenix” sword. His eyes swept from the spear to the tiger’s head hooks and across the other weapons. His sighs became heavier, and he muttered: “All of these people died for the same reason, this I could never have dreamed of. Certainly the fierce fighting and violent conditions under which they perished, we will not see again in a hundred years.”

    Xiao Yu’er said, “These people not only died, but evidently they died at the same time. To be able to kill so many experts simultaneously, this killer’s abilities must be unimaginable. Can you guess who it was?”

    Shen Qinghong mused, “The people who could slay so many experts at once, are definitely few in number. However, I would say there are about seven or eight. Among them, the ones who have the most skillful martial arts and who use the cruelest tactics, are the two princesses of the Floral Palace!”

    The tone of his voice changed somewhat on uttering the final two words. He glanced about in all directions, as if afraid that the two princesses, beautiful as fairies yet monster-like in their brutality, might suddenly appear out of the darkness.

    Xiao Yu’er smiled and reassured him, “Don’t worry. They would never appear in such an uncouth place.”

    Shen Qinghong released his held breath, and said, “You’re right. Those two are like lofty fairies, why would they kill for such earthly treasures? They are assuredly not the murderers.”

    “Besides them, who else is there?” Xiao Yu’er pressed.

    “Among the “Ten Evils” of old,” Shen Qinghong declared, “the ones with the highest martial arts were “Bloody Hand” Du Sha and “Mad Lion” Tie Shan. I’m afraid they would also be capable of such cruel tactics.”

    Xiao Yu’er rejected the idea: “Neither of them is a possibility.”

    Shen Qinghong corrected himself, “That is right. The first one, no one knows his current whereabouts. According to rumour, he has taken shelter in the “Valley of Evil”. What about “Mad Lion” Tie Shan? Ai…if these people were killed by him, even their weapons would have been torn to pieces; they would never escape intact like this.”

    “Who else is there?” Xiao Yu’er repeated.

    Shen Qinghong replied, “There are a few, but their names are not worth mentioning.”

    “Why is that?”

    “Because although their martial arts are indeed first-class, they are honourable and righteous, truly the heroes of our generation, and would never stoop so low as this kind of act. For example, the Peerless Celestial Sword, Yan Nantian! Although this esteemed swordsman could easily kill those people, he would not, unless they were evildoers. He would rather endure suffering himself than wrongfully commit a murder. “

    Xiao Yu’er had been waiting for him to name Yan Nantian; now, upon hearing Shen Qinghong’s description, his blood rose in his chest, warm and rushing. He cried: “Well spoken! Truly a man! If a man lives on this earth, he should live like Yan Nantian, so that at the mere mention of his name, one would raise a thumb in admiration.”

    Shen Qinghong stared at the Lord of Monkeys, and said loudly, “Not only those who have benefited from him, praise him to the skies both openly and behind his back, but even his enemies would not dare speak ill of him outside of his presence.”

    The Lord of Monkeys sneered coldly: “Ha, you think I wouldn’t dare mock him?”

    Without warning, Shen Qinghong was on his feet. He shouted: “How dare you?”

    The Lord of Monkeys sighed, saying: “Although I do wish to curse him, I don’t even know exactly how I should.”

    Shen Qinghong burst into loud laughter: “Did you hear that? Of course there are people who want to curse him, but they don’t even know how. This is because he has never in his life done anything to be ashamed of. Although I haven’t seen him in fifteen years, but this kind of man, who has no regrets under heaven or on earth, must still be alive and well, wouldn’t you agree?”

    Xiao Yu’er echoed, “Definitely, he must be alive and well! He must be living a good life right now…” As he spoke, his eyes moistened. He lowered his head, and hurriedly picked up one of the bags of stealth projectiles, spilling its contents on the floor.

    They saw that there were thirteen poison needles, seven clusters of black metal projectiles (?) , and also one big pile of poison sand. Shen Qinghong’s face changed colour. He said, “The River (?) sect also sent people here!”

    Xiao Yu’er said, “The perpetrator could not be in the list of people you just named. Yet the person also could not be from among the few you said weren’t worth mentioning. In that case, do you have any idea who it is?”

    Shen Qinghong sighed, “I honestly don’t think I would be able to guess.”

    Xiao Yu’er stretched out his cramped waist. He said, “Well, it doesn’t matter anyway. He’ll definitely come soon, let’s just wait and see.”

    The fear and wariness was apparent in the Lord of Monkeys’ wide, round eyes, even though he was indeed confident in his own martial arts, and that they would be able to overpower the killer in the darkness. But the martial arts of the approaching, unfathomable enemy were truly too strong! It was enough to chill one’s courage. If he were to miss on the first stroke, he may not have another chance to attack.

    A breeze gently stirred. Outside the cave unexpectedly there appeared a hand. It was delicate, beautiful and graceful. Each finger seemed carved from white jade. Even the most critical person alive would not be able to pick out a flaw from this hand.

    But here, in this kind of place, to suddenly see such a captivating sight, seemed extremely eerie and strange. To the eyes of Shen Qinghong and the others, this perfect and elegant jade hand, truly seemed to have a sad, mysteriously bewitching air. You could not help but wonder if this could really be a human hand. Right now the Lord of Monkeys appeared to have stopped breathing; he was speechless.

    They saw the hand lightly knock on the stone at the cave entrance…the hand had moved, and so had the fingers, this could not be a dead person’s hand!

    Then a gentle and sweet voice laughed, like a silver bell: “Is anyone home?”

    At this moment and in such a place, they could hardly believe such words could be spoken, by such a soft voice. It sounded as if a neighbour’s young wife had dropped by on a casual social visit. The hair was raised on their skin as the Lord of Monkeys and Shen Qinghong listened. They looked at each other, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. Neither could find any words to say.

    Xiao Yu’er rolled his eyes and replied, laughing: “Oh yes, there certainly are, and quite a few of us!”

    The speaker teased, “Well then, if you are home, you should come out and open the door!”

    “Unfortunately yesterday I ate somebody’s sweets(?) without paying for it, so they came and confiscated my door,” Xiao Yu’er joked back.

    He was answered by another silvery peal of laughter: “I have been waiting outside so long that my legs are getting weak, may I come in and sit for a while?”

    “Of course you may,” said Xiao Yu’er. “But be careful when you enter. The threshold is quite high, you wouldn’t want to tear your new dress.”

    The voice replied, “Many thanks to you.”


    End of Chapter 26

  16. #16
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
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    The Legendary Siblings Chapter 27

    A young girl, clad in a light blouse and green dress, with a sprig of fresh mountain flowers tucked into her hair, stepped elegantly into the cave. Her steps were delicate, her waist was slender and graceful. Although she had obviously just climbed in out of a steep and dangerous precipice, she truly looked as if she were nothing more than a young woman stepping over a threshold. Even the flowers at her hair were firmly tucked into place, and not crooked a bit.

    In the darkness, the Lord of Monkeys flew at her wildly like a forceful wind- straight towards the delicate and tender girl. It appeared she was about to be thrown out, but then, inexplicably, her waist twisted aside slightly, and there she stood still, gracefully, behind the Lord of Monkeys.

    The Lord of Monkeys spun around in shock, and was about to strike a second time. The maiden in a green dress threw him an enchanting smile, and said softly, “Sir, if you wish me to leave, I will leave of course, there is no need for you to waste so much energy and get so upset.” The smiling face was as beautiful as a living flower, sweet as honey.

    The Lord of Monkeys fumed: “You…you…”

    Although he feared no-one, and was a cruel and devious creature, when faced with such a gentle, and pretty girl, his heart was moved in spite of itself. He found he could no longer hurl insults at her.

    The maiden in a green dress said, “If this kind sir desires it, I will stay here, and cook for you. I will clean for you, mend your clothes…”

    During all this time, Xiao Yu’er had stared at her with wide, steady eyes. Now he suddenly gave a happy laugh: “I have a better idea- why don’t you be my little wife.”

    The girl clad in green smiled demurely, “If you really want me to be your wife, that would be my happiest wish. Such a clever and handsome husband like you, I couldn’t find in ten years of searching- unfortunately…”

    “Unfortunately what?” Xiao Yu’er interrupted.

    She continued softly, “It’s just that I’m too old for you, when you’re thirty, I’ll already be an old woman. By then, you would want to cast me aside, yet you wouldn’t have the heart to. Wouldn’t that be placing a burden on you? How could I bear to do that?”

    Xiao Yu’er clearly knew that she spoke not one word of truth, but somehow, when her words sang in his ears, his heart felt very warm and soft. He couldn’t help smiling: “Instead of complaining that I was too young, you instead claimed that you yourself were too old. Any girl like you, who has such a way with words, it wouldn’t matter if she were a bloodthirsty, murdering pig, I would still like her.”

    “No matter whether you are sincere or not, these words I will forever keep in my heart,” the maiden in a green dress said tenderly.

    “And what if I don’t want to stay?” the Lord of Monkeys cut in harshly, changing the subject.

    She replied, “If you, sir, find this place too confining, and wish to roam outside, I’ve already set up a ladder, you may exit at any time.”

    “Really?” the Lord of Monkeys whispered.

    The green-skirted girl reassured him, “Sir, if you are still worried, you may go up first, and then we will follow. Leave this young gentleman to carry the chest with him last. In this way, you may relax, and we will rest assured also.”

    In his heart were a million voices telling him not to heed her; yet her words did indeed sound reasonable, and were just what he wanted to hear. So the Lord of Monkeys couldn’t help but be convinced. Even Shen Qinghong, who was certain that this girl must be a cold-blooded monster, seemed to have fallen under her spell; he nodded as he listened.

    The two of them thought hard and searched their minds, and still failed to find any evil intent in her actions. What she said made sense, she had considered others as well as herself.

    Xiao Yu’er clapped his hands: “This is indeed the best way. If anyone else climbed up first, my monkey brother would certainly be anxious. Since we’re letting him ascend first, he must wait until finally the treasure chest comes up too. This way he won’t cut the rope.”

    The Lord of Monkeys stared hard at the young girl, and couldn’t restrain himself from asking: “You…you did this entirely with good intentions?”

    The maiden gently protested: “But why would I have any malicious intent?” The Lord of Monkeys cried out: “Are there truly people as good as you in this world?”

    “I was born with this nature,” she lightly sighed. “I only think of others, and do things for them, without thinking for myself.”

    The Lord of Monkeys’ eyes flashed, and darted back and forth, but he could still not figure out why he should mistrust her. He stamped his foot and declared, “Very well. I don’t care if you’re good or evil. Let’s just get up there first!” His heart long ago had been bursting with impatience. The sunlight, the warm wind, the free world outside, beckoned to him invitingly.

    He peeked his head out. As she said, there indeed was a long rope dangling down from above, as thick as an arm. If this rope were somehow rigged to break under a weight, the maiden in a green dress herself would be trapped here with them. So therefore, if the rope were safe, there must be some other trick here. But he’d deal with it after he climbed up first.

    The Lord of Monkeys pondered and reflected, but still could not come up with any sound strategy. At last he decided to ignore his suspicions, and sprang forward to grab the rope. Laughing gleefully, he cried, “Shen Qinghong, you follow me…”

    His laughter was abruptly cut short as his body twisted and plunged straight down the vertical cliff face, thousands of feet down. All that could be heard now were screams of agony.

    Shen Qinghong’s face went white. In alarm, his voice cracked: “This, this…”

    The maiden in green had also turned pale. She said in a trembling voice, “How...how did this happen?”

    Shen Qinghong whipped around to face her. He thundered, “I think we should be asking you this question!”

    She said, “Perhaps…perhaps he was too aged and could not grip the rope properly?”

    “I want the truth,” Shen Qinghong demanded. “Just how did you tamper with the rope?”

    She looked at him with eyes clearer than autumn springs, innocent like a child. Softly she insisted, “There is nothing wrong with the rope. It didn’t break; didn’t I just come down on this rope a short while ago? If you don’t believe me, give it a tug.”

    Accordingly Shen Qinghong reached out his hand, when Xiao Yu’er stopped him dead with a laugh: “Let’s say the rope had a few poison needles hidden within it, that wouldn’t feel very nice when you tugged it, would it?”

    Instantly Shen Qinghong’s hand snaked backwards like lightning. In a loud voice he declared, “You are right. This rope must have contained poison needles, otherwise the Lord of Monkeys would not have loosened his grip. What a vicious woman you are- my eyes are indeed opened today!”

    The tears shone brightly in the girl’s eyes. She said sadly, “If you insist on being suspicious, I can say no more. In that case, I…I can only pull it myself for you to see.” Upon those words she began to ascend the rope.

    Shen Qinghong watched her go up with wide eyes. Her body, graceful as a dancer’s, began to recede upwards into the sky. He began to get anxious, and slightly regretful. He really didn’t dare to climb up on the same rope as this possibly evil, potentially blameless young girl. Yet to just helplessly watch this opportunity escape, would be heartbreaking.

    He struggled with his doubts, unsure whether to take the chance. At this moment, this enigmatic young girl came lightly sliding back down again. Xiao Yu’er laughed: “Oh, I knew you would come back.”

    She softly sighed: “Well, I was thinking of leaving you, but really I couldn’t bear to. Ai! Why is my heart always so tender, I don’t even know myself.”

    She lightly swept her eyes over to Shen Qinghong, then said to him, “Whether the rope can be trusted or not, you should know by now.”

    By this time, Shen Qinghong no longer knew whose words to believe. He even began to wonder if the Lord of Monkeys hadn’t in fact accidentally lost his grip on the rope and fallen.

    The green maiden said leisurely, “If you still have doubts, why not use cloth to cover your hands first?”

    Shen Qinghong looked at the rope. Then he gazed outside the cave, at the blue skies and clear heavens. Finally he glanced at the gloomy, dark interior of the cave, and he brooded on the long, hard fifteen years he had spent here.

    This kind of chance was not easy to pass up.

    He gritted his teeth, and eventually looked at Xiao Yu’er. Xiao Yu’er himself had his eyebrows drawn together tightly, and said, “Don’t look at me, I’m also out of ideas. And yet…I think this rope shouldn’t break, otherwise she would not have been able to descend on it.”

    Shen Qinghong expelled a long breath. Then: “At this point, I must give it a try no matter what.”

    He leapt up, and gripping the rope he started to climb.

    Xiao Yu’er’s spirits also lifted as he saw him ascend. One foot, now two…he had reached thirty or forty metres. Xiao Yu’er released his held breath. He smiled and teased the young girl: “I still can’t figure out whether you’re a good or bad person...”

    His words were cut short- the rope snapped.

    Shen Qinghong screamed, he struggled, and fell past the cave entrance straight down. In the blink of an eye he was out of sight. All that remained of him was the echo of his shocked cries reverberating off the surrounding cliffs.

    Xiao Yu’er stood there stunned, eyes wide open. For a moment he was speechless. Finally he mumbled, “You…you…you truly are a monster, tricking these people to their deaths!”

    The girl smiled captivatingly: “Oh? Really?”

    “You placed venomous needles in the rope to poison the old monkey,” Xiao Yu’er grimly accused her. “Then you cut the rope across half its thickness, to trick Shen Qinghong. But with your skill in martial arts, you never needed to use such devious methods to kill them!”

    Pleasantly, she explained: “There’s not much point in killing them using skills in violence. Never in my life have I lifted so much as a finger to kill a single person. All of them died voluntarily and of their own free will.”

    “But I still don’t understand,” Xiao Yu’er said. “Since the rope is now severed, how are you going to get back up?”

    The girl in green said, “This place is nice and comfortable, I like it here; I don’t intend on leaving.”

    Xiao Yu’er scratched his head in surprise, then smiled wryly, “A girl saying something that I can’t figure out; you are indeed the first.”

    She gazed at him steadily, then said softly, “Your friends died by my hand, aren’t you going to avenge them?”

    He sighed: “I can’t beat you with my martial arts, and I’m not skilled enough to trick you either, how am I supposed to avenge them? Besides, as you said, you didn’t force them, they willingly let themselves be fooled.”

    “You’re not angry or upset at all?” she asked.

    Xiao Yu’er said, “Of these two, one of them deserved to die a long time ago. The other one was ready to die fifteen years before. Their deaths today are therefore appropriate, why should I be upset?”

    Her eyes darted back and forth, then she said, giggling: “You little kid, I’ve never met anyone like you.”

    Joining in her laughter, Xiao Yu’er said, “Right then, you can start tricking me. Go ahead, lure me to my death.”

    The maiden in green said, “If I did that, I’d be pretty lonely all here by myself…”

    Xiao Yu’er said, wide-eyed, “You…you mean you’re really not going back up there?”

    “I don’t have wings, and I can’t fly,” she replied.

    He was silent for a while. Finally he smiled: “You really are a monster among women!”

    She joked back: “If I was a girl monster, you would be a baby monster.”

    Xiao Yu’er sighed: “That’s actually quite right. A girl monster and a little monster, spending their lives in this ghostly cave. Perhaps in the future we’ll spawn a whole brood of tiny monster babies…” Before he had finished, she was laughing so hard she was doubled over.

    Unexpectedly, a wave of crazed laughter floated over from afar.

    A demented voice cackled, “Xiao, you wench, you can’t run from me, your old man knows where you’re hiding. He’s waiting for you here, you can’t wait forever down there!” (1)

    The voice clearly came from somewhere in the mist and mountains, but it sounded like it was madly screaming right in your ear. Instantly the girl’s expression changed; now it was whiter than paper.

    Xiao Yu’er asked, “Who is he?”

    She answered, “He…he isn’t human, he’s an old fiend!”

    “Are you really that afraid of him?” Xiao Yu’er demanded.

    The maiden in a green dress shook her head and sighed, “You don’t understand, you don’t…the things he does to you, no one could imagine.”

    They heard the voice cry out again: “Xiao, you’re really not coming up?”

    She bit her lip and made no reply.

    After a pause, the voice called out, “All right then, your old man is going to count to ten. If you don’t come up by then, and you wait for me to catch you, I swear I will keep you in a living hell for ten days and ten nights straight. If I let you suffer less a minute, I won’t call myself a man!”

    Xiao Yu’er blinked his eyes, then sighed, “It appears that he has the ability to torture people beyond the point of being able to die.”

    The voice howled, “We’re counting down now! One!”

    The strength seemed to drain from her entire body; the green maiden collapsed onto the floor, unable to move. The flowers that were tucked into her hair shook uncontrollably.

    “Two!”

    Xiao Yu’er’s eyes flickered. “Could it be that he is one of the ‘Ten Evils’?”

    The girl sighed, “The ‘Ten Evils’, when compared with him, would be obedient little children.”

    Xiao Yu’er cried out, shocked, “You mean he’s worse than the ‘Ten Evils’?”

    “Three!” the voice shouted.

    “What’s his name?” Xiao Yu’er asked her after a pause.

    She answered, “You wouldn’t recognize it.”

    He said, “Well if he’s more vicious than the ‘Ten Evils’, his name should be exceedingly famous.”

    The girl in green let out a long sigh: “Don’t you know that dogs who give the most vicious bites, are usually the most silent? The nameless ones are the most to be feared. Even if he committed the most unimaginable horrors, no-one would know.”

    “Four!” the voice hollered. “Fine, it appears that you’re not coming back up. Would you like to hear how your old man will torture you when he does catch you?” It seemed the speaker was in the throes of a paroxysmal rage. He screamed, “When I get you, I’ll poke out one of your eyes, then start filling its socket with salt water. Ten days later, your entire body will be a hunk of salted pork.”

    Xiao Yu’er chuckled bitterly: “What a demon- such a style of salting meat alive, I don’t think even Li Dazhui has tried it.”

    Abruptly she asked him: “You know Li Dazhui?”

    Blinking, he answered her with a question of his own: “Why, do you know him?”

    The girl in green paused, then said slowly, “Throughout wulin, who wouldn’t know him?”

    Now the voice screamed shrilly from above: “Five! You heard it, five! Five more counts, and you’re dead. If you think your old man won’t be able to catch you, you’re making a big mistake!”

    Suddenly she stood up and gave a long, despairing sigh: “It’s over. Rather than waiting for him to torture me, I may as well kill myself properly first.”

    Xiao Yu’er asked: “You…what are you scared of? Let’s just wait here and not go up, he’s not going to come down.”

    The girl clad in green sighed again: “You don’t understand. This person has never made an empty threat. If he claims to be able to capture me, then I don’t doubt that he can.”

    He protested, “You can’t die just like that. If you die, then I’ll be left all alone here.”

    She gave a melancholic smile: “Do you still want to live?”

    “Why wouldn’t I? My life has just started to become interesting.”

    She shook her head. “He won’t let you go either…” she said, sighing.

    “Six!” the voice threatened. “I’ve counted to six now!”

    The girl in green said, “He’ll be able to catch you somehow. If I die, he’ll vent his anger on you. At that time you’ll really be in trouble!”

    As she spoke, she slowly stepped toward the cave entrance.

    Xiao Yu’er asked, “You’re going to jump?”

    She replied, “If you ask me, I think you’d be better off coming with me.”

    His voice cracked in surprise: “You want me to jump with you?”

    Unexpectedly she turned back towards him. Gazing at him, she slowly said, “If I die by myself, I would also feel terribly lonely. Would you be willing to come with me?”

    Xiao Yu’er rubbed his head. He muttered to himself: “Asking someone to die with her so she won’t feel lonely…ha! This is certainly a rare type of request.”

    Slowly she spoke again: “The only reason I ask is because I am fond of you. Otherwise…I wouldn’t care if you lived or died.”

    “Seven!” the voice cut in from above.

    Xiao Yu’er looked back at her. He gazed at her for a long time. Finally he said, “You are fond of me?”

    “You are a clever person, couldn’t you tell?” she slowly replied.

    Still he stared at her for a while. Abruptly he cried: “Fine! I will come with you!”

    In shock, the girl said hoarsely, “You will?”

    Xiao Yu’er told her, “Not only will we go together, but I will hold you in my arms as well.”

    Again her eyes were fixed on him. Eventually she said, “Very well. You are very good to me.”

    “Eight!” the voice interrupted. “Still holding out, are you, you little wench? You won’t be living much longer!”

    Xiao Yu’er did indeed jump up and bound towards her. He held her tightly to him, and even laughed, murmuring: “You smell wonderful…dying with you in my arms, is not bad at all.”

    She suddenly laughed with him: “You are really an adorable little boy. Dying while being held by you, doesn’t feel bad at all.”

    “Nine!” the voice screeched. “Nine! Did you hear me, you wench? Your old man has counted to nine!”

    She asked him, “Are you holding on tight? Hang on firmly now, I am going to jump!”

    “Go ahead!” he replied. He closed his eyes tightly. He took a few deep breaths, and reflected: “To die, I wonder what it feels like.”

    She said ironically, “Well, you’ll find out shortly.” With that, she really did leap into the air, and they began their rapid plunge into the invisible depths of nothingness.(?)

    He heard the rapid whistling of the wind by his ears, (?) and his body continued to descend. At this moment, you could have said he felt afraid; yet he was also fascinated, and comfortable at the same time. No matter what, you had to admit that not many people had had the experience of jumping down through a depth of a thousand metres.

    Or perhaps it was that the word “frightened” had already been frightened from his thoughts. Or maybe he had never believed that the girl in green would really jump to begin with.

    The deeper the fell, the faster they went. He felt as though his lower body would split apart from his upper half. Now he thought to himself: “Am I really clever? Or incredibly stupid?”

    Then with a “foong” sound, his body was stunned; their descent began to slow down. He heard the girl clad in green softly laugh in his ear: “How does it feel to die?”

    He joked back: “Not bad, not bad at all…”

    Xiao Yu’er opened his eyes. He looked left, then right. On both sides, the mountain slopes were covered in forest, giving a peaceful and calm feeling, as if one by one each tree were floating upwards. From this you could tell that the speed of his fall was very slow indeed.

    His companion laughed: “You know, you are one very lucky person. You have tasted death without really losing your life.”

    “How…how is this possible?” Xiao Yu’er asked.

    “Lift your head, take a look,” she replied.

    Upon raising his head, he saw a bizarre contraption. It looked like an umbrella and yet was not. It was larger than an umbrella by at least ten times.

    This odd device had actually burst out from the back of the girl in green. Apparently she had used a lot of thread and rope to make a multi-coloured, giant umbrella. This ‘umbrella’ caught the wind, therefore their descent naturally slowed down.

    Xiao Yu’er felt as if he were riding downwards on a cloud. This feeling was very fun and interesting. He couldn’t help but laugh out loud: “This little toy isn’t bad, how did you come up with it?”

    Unexpectedly another shock hit his body- they had landed on the ground. The huge ‘umbrella’ began to roll away in the wind, tugging at them.

    The girl in green pulled out a small dagger and started cutting the ropes. She smiled sweetly: “Little flirt, you can let go of my hand now.”

    Instead, Xiao Yu’er squeezed her hand tighter: “No, I won’t. You really tricked me good, I almost went mad. Now you should let me hug you for a bit, to make up for it.”

    “You little flirt, are you really clever, or an idiot?” she asked laughing.

    He replied, amused, “I just asked that myself a while ago. Even I couldn’t come up with an answer.”

    “Well, if you ask me, you’re just a little bit of an idiot,” she teased.

    Xiao Yu’er suddenly sprang to his feet. His eyes flashed; staring at her he said, “You really think that you deceived me?”

    She looked back at him with an enchanting smile: “You haven’t figured it out?”

    He laughed loudly: “Let me tell you, I already knew you wouldn’t let yourself die. That’s why I agreed to jump with you. You don’t seem the sort to kill yourself.”

    The girl blinked a few times: “Oh? Really?”

    Xiao Yu’er drew himself up and declared loudly: “I tell you, no one in this world can fool Jiang Yu.”

    She looked at him, then softly said, “Indeed then, I find now you are truly a man, no longer a child. I have never met a man like you.” Her eyes were warm and kind. Xiao Yu’er puffed out his chest and thought to himself that he agreed with her. He had grown up and was now a man.

    The girl clad in green looked around in all directions, then abruptly sighed: “Although I haven’t died, but now at this point, I’m really out of ideas. Now…I really have to rely on you, please don’t leave me.”

    Xiao Yu’er thought he had never felt more strong or brave than at this moment. He felt that he must really be quite capable, or this girl would never have wholeheartedly put her faith in him.

    He said firmly, “You can rely on me, I won’t regret it.”

    She smiled gratefully: “You are so good, I know I haven’t picked the wrong person.” He laughed: “Of course you haven’t, you’ve chosen the best.”

    The girl in green relaxed and said, “Good, now if you could think of a way out of here, we’ll be able to leave this godforsaken place.”

    “Certainly,” agreed Xiao Yu’er. Although the word came readily from his lips, in his heart he felt anxious, because he had already surveyed this ‘godforsaken place’ and truly could not see a way out.

    This place resembled the bottom of a wine bottle. Even with as many legs as a centipede, and the strongest will to live, it was impossible to climb out.

    The strangest thing was, the place didn’t seem as damp as they might have imagined. There wasn’t the slightest bit of humidity, in fact it was warm and rather dry. The dense fog and clouds from above were very far away.

    Below his feet, instead of thick and sticky mud, (?) was refreshing grass. It was soft, springy, and green, like a large colourful blanket. Under the bright shards of sunlight, the air was filled with a delightful fragrance.

    Everywhere there was thick and dense forest. In between the trees would peek some grass and flowers. Xiao Yu’er felt as though he had landed in a paradise.

    The only disturbing part about this paradise was, there was an endless silence and stillness. No breeze, and no sounds. Every blade of grass, each leaf, was motionless. There was no breath of life anywhere.

    This terrible stillness was enough to drive a person mad. Such a beautiful paradise was actually a place of death.

    The girl in green softly interrupted his thoughts: “Have you thought of a way out yet?”

    Xiao Yu’er could no longer force a smile to his lips. He could only keep mumbling, “There must be a way, of course there is.”

    She said, “All right then, you lead and I’ll obey your instructions.” She looked at him gently and fell silent.

    With his hands behind his back, Xiao Yu’er began to turn in circles. By about the seventeenth or eighteenth circle, he suddenly cried out: “Something’s wrong, something’s not right here!”

    “What’s wrong?” the girl asked.

    He asked her, “What’s missing here?”

    “Something’s missing? What’s missing?” she echoed.

    Xiao Yu’er said worriedly, “Where are the old monkey and Shen Qinghong? Flown up to heaven?”

    She said, “Didn’t…didn’t they fall to their deaths?”

    He said excitedly, “Right, exactly, they did. But where are the bodies? I’ve looked everywhere, and I can’t find a single bone. Even if they were devoured by wolves, they couldn’t have been eaten that fast. Furthermore, there’s not even a kitten to be found here, let alone a wolf.”

    The expression on the girl’s face changed. She said anxiously, “You really couldn’t find their corpses?”

    “No, I didn’t, not even a bone,” he repeated.

    Even as he said it, Xiao Yu’er still couldn’t believe his own words. As he spoke, he continued his search. The girl in green followed along, helping him. The area was not large, and very soon they had already finished two or three complete searches. They had looked in every corner, under every tree, and over all the patches of grass.

    Not only were even the bones missing, but not even a single bloodstain was visible. There was no evidence at all of the two others having died here.

    Suddenly Xiao Yu’er began to grow afraid. He said, “Maybe there are ghosts here.”

    The girl shrank back, but forced herself to laugh, “Ghosts, how could there be ghosts?”

    Xiao Yu’er said, “If it weren’t for ghosts, how could they have disappeared? Even if they weren’t killed by the fall, they should still be here. Besides, there is no way they could still be alive.”

    He added, “There is something weird about this place. I must get to the root of this mystery.” As he spoke, he began to search for clues again. But the trees remained just trees, and the grassy patched yielded no further clues.

    Firmly he concluded, “There must be someone else in this place.”

    “How could there be anyone else in this place?” she asked.

    Xiao Yu’er explained, “If this were a natural and freely growing patch of grass, how could it be so neat and tidy? Therefore, there must be someone here, someone who regularly tends the grounds.”

    Her puzzled expression cleared: “Ah, you are right. Not only is your brain clever, but your eyes are observant…since someone lives here, I’m a little more relieved.”

    She jumped up, her eyes dancing, but then drew her eyebrows in worry and said, “But…where are they then?”

    Xiao Yu’er said, “They…they…”

    He looked around, but not a soul could be seen, let alone a living human.

    A mystery. A puzzling, unsolvable mystery.

    The girl in green said, “I can’t even bear to think of it, it’s too creepy.”

    Xiao Yu’er said steadfastly: “Don’t you worry about it, you can leave the thinking to me.”

    In reality he couldn’t figure it out either, he was starting to get a headache.

    The light was beginning to fade, and quickly too. Xiao Yu’er ceaselessly walked, here and there, back and forth. He was so hungry he was sure his stomach would start to leak acid.

    He was starting to go crazy.

    He always used to say, “There is nothing impossible in this world.” At this point, he was beginning to feel that anyone who could say that was either a madman or a simpleton.

    He didn’t dare look at the girl in green. She had said that she would leave everything up to him. If she had chosen the right person, well, perhaps her eyes were a little blind.

    Eventually Xiao Yu’er began to feel faint. He mumbled, “I’ll rest for a bit, then we’ll see. If only I could sleep and never have to wake up…”

    Suddenly the girl cried, “Come over here…come!”

    He turned his head in her direction, but had already lost sight of her. He shouted, “Where are you? Have you learned the art of invisibility or something?”

    “I’m here, over here!” she called back. Her voice could be heard from behind a tree. The tree was thick in diameter, and large. Its leaves were especially green. Xiao Yu’er had been suspicious of it a long time ago, but had not been able to pinpoint anything specific.

    Xiao Yu’er flew over to her side, and found her kneeling on the ground behind the tree, as if praying.(?) She made no move, but her eyes were huge.

    He drew his eyebrows together, frowning: “What are you doing? Praying?”

    She beckoned him with her hand, urging him: “Come quickly, take a look at this spot.”

    Accordingly, Xiao Yu’er crouched down beside her and looked. After a while he said, “There’s nothing there, only…whoa, wait, there is something!”

    He had suddenly noticed that the bark on the lower part of the tree was different from its upper half. It was thick and rough above; below it was shiny and smooth.

    The girl pointed out, “Look here, the bark appears to be regularly touched by people. And why should they touch this spot? Clearly there is only one explanation…there must be a door in this tree.”

    Xiao Yu’er’s face lit up. He returned her compliment from before: “Not only is your brain clever, but your eyes are observant.”

    She teased back, “Thank you, thank you.”

    He winked at her, then knocked on the tree a few times, laughing: “Is anybody home?”

    End of Chapter 27

  17. #17
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
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    The Legendary Siblings Chapter 28

    Xiao Yu’er had an odd habit. He liked to make jokes at any time, and no matter where he was. But this particular joke wasn’t exactly purposeless either; he wished to see if the tree was hollow or solid.

    Never in his dreams would he have guessed that he would get a response. Indeed, no one answered him, but the piece of bark suddenly moved aside, and in the middle of a live tree, there unexpectedly appeared a doorway!

    This was quite a shock to Xiao Yu’er. He was so startled that he flew backwards out of the doorway. The girl in green was also surprised; she fell to her knees, unable to move.

    The tree was indeed hollow. Xiao Yu’er stared into the black hole and called loudly, “Is anyone in here? Ghost or human, I want you to come out right now.”

    Not a sound or reply. He advanced step by step. His fists were clenched so tightly that the knuckles were white. (?) His eyes, already wide, grew even bigger and rounder.

    The girl in green said to him in a trembling voice, “Don’t go in, we don’t know what’s in there.”

    Xiao Yu’er said firmly, “What’s there to be scared of? Anything that’s sneaking around is nothing to be scared of, otherwise it wouldn’t be hiding from us!”

    She asked, “You…are you going in?”

    His body shrank back a bit. He stuttered, “Go…go in…” But then he coughed and shouted, “Of course I’m going in, this is the only lead we have. How could I not investigate it properly?”

    Suddenly, a wonderful fragrance wafted outside from within.

    It smelled like chicken cooking in a pot, simmering in sauces and fragrant spices.

    Xiao Yu’er’s nose twitched. Right now to him this was the best smell in the world. He drooled and swallowed a few times, then cried out: “There must be people inside, ghosts don’t eat chicken. Monsters might eat chicken, but they wouldn’t cook it…therefore there’s nothing to be scared of.”

    These words appeared to be spoken to reassure the girl in green, or maybe they were for his own sake. Her voice shook: “Please be careful if you insist on going in.”

    He said loudly, “Of course I’ll be careful, I’m careful in all things, otherwise how would I have lived this long?” As he spoke, he scooped up a stone from the bottom of the tree and flung it into the opening.

    They heard a “kwa” sound as it hit something. Xiao Yu’er observed, “This hole isn’t very big.”

    The girl in green gently praised him, “You really are the most cautious person I’ve met.”

    Xiao Yu’er unconsciously puffed out his chest and said: “You stay here and wait for me. I’m going to take a look.”

    In a quavering voice she protested, “No…no wait. How could I wait outside all alone? I’d be scared to death. I’m coming with you, with you by my side, I’ll feel safe.”

    Xiao Yu’er looked into her eyes. Finally he said, “Ai, women, women…all right, follow me then. Hold on tight and don’t stray.”

    She murmured, “I wouldn’t stray if you beat me with a whip.” Xiao Yu’er felt as if he were floating on air as he stepped inside.

    The interior of the tree was indeed hollow. Although it was not large, it was quite dark.

    The girl in green clung tightly to Xiao Yu’er. Her voice shook: “Strange, there’s not a single person here.”

    “No, there must be someone here,” Xiao Yu’er insisted.

    She said, puzzled, “This place can only be so big, where could they be?”

    The tree’s diameter only spanned five metres. There wasn’t a single place to hide in it.

    Xiao Yu’er drew his eyebrows together. “That’s really odd. Where did that chicken smell come from?”

    “It seems to be coming from below,” the girl in green realized.

    Upon her words, the ground beneath their feet began to sink. The girl in green threw herself into Xiao Yu’er’s arms. In a trembling voice she whispered, “What’s happening? What are we going to do?”

    Xiao Yu’er’s eyes were wide. He cried out loudly, “Don’t be scared, we may as well go down and take a look.”

    They continued to descend. They were surrounded by blackness. Apparently they were standing in some sort of tube, one that could go up and down. The girl in green clutched Xiao Yu’er’s hand tightly. Her hand was damp and cold. This cold blooded killer, reduced to such a state, was actually quite surprising.

    The ‘tube’ finally stopped. Xiao Yu’er opened his eyes and saw a door. A few rays of light shone from behind it into the tube.

    He crouched down, and with a “shhh” he squirmed out. Outside there was a tunnel. On either side the stone walls were intricately carved, and there were bronze torches set into the walls.

    Xiao Yu’er muttered, “This bastard sure knows how to treat himself. What a luxurious place. The owner of this place is no monster, but to call him a monster would be quite fitting.”

    He turned his head to tell the girl in green to come out. Just then she screamed in pain. The door to the metal tube had suddenly shut itself, and the tube was going down. Her cries could be heard coming from the tube as it descended.

    Xiao Yu’er heard her scream: “Fire…help me, save me…fire….” He quickly tried to pull, but there was no way he could stop that big metal tube from moving. He decided to jump in after the tube, but at that moment it stopped moving. He could still hear the girl in green shrieking: “Fire…oh I beg you, save me…fire…”

    Her yells made Xiao Yu’er break out in a cold sweat. He struck out with his fists and legs, trying to break through the roof of the metal tube, but it was made of well-tempered steel. He exhausted his energy in vain.

    Her cries grew weaker and weaker. “Please…I’m going to die…help me…” Suddenly the sounds stopped. Then, a deathly silence.

    Xiao Yu’er’s fists also stopped. He stood there stunned. The girl in green had been burned to death in the metal tube!

    Although she had been vicious, and they were not related in any way, she had still fully trusted her life to him. Having ended up like this, one could only say that she picked the wrong hero, she had chosen poorly indeed…

    Xiao Yu’er’s eyes were damp. He suddenly yelled, “Listen to me, I don’t care who you are. You can’t scare me, and you won’t kill me either. I am going to murder you!”

    No answer came from the tunnel. Xiao Yu’er gritted his teeth and boldly advanced.

    The tunnel was short. At its end was another door, engraved with a scene of people and flowers and grass. This underground tunnel must have taken a lot of time, effort and money to create. The owner must be a strange person, to want to build such an elaborate structure underground.

    The door was unlocked. With one hand he pushed it open.

    He didn’t know why he was being so bold. Perhaps he felt he was invincible. If he was going to die, he would have been burnt to death just now like the girl in green. He felt somehow that the owner of this place didn’t want to kill him. He had no idea why.

    He didn’t think much more beyond that. This was the secret to his thinking. Just focus on one thought, and don’t worry too much about other things. Otherwise you just got mixed up.

    A hall lay beyond the door. Since even the tunnel was fancy, the hall was naturally even more lavish. Aside from not having windows, this underground hall was more than comparable with the houses of the gentry above ground. Luxurious though it was, no one was in it.

    Xiao Yu’er remarked, “Well the owner might be a monster but he sure knew how to live the life. If he let this place be all dark and cold, it would scare off enemies, but he wouldn’t be enjoying it either.”

    A peal of laughter suddenly sounded: “How well you know the master of this place.”

    The voice was male, but the slow, gentle tone was very feminine. Xiao Yu’er turned around but still saw no one. He shouted: “Who are you? And where are you?”

    The voice answered, “You can’t see me, but I can certainly see you.”

    Although Xiao Yu’er couldn’t see anyone, he did see another door. He crossed over in huge strides and pushed it open. Yet another hall.

    In the centre of the hall was a long table. The table held a large blue bowl, which was the source of the fragrance that had attracted him here. In the bowl, there was indeed cooked chicken, young and tender.

    His eyes grew round. The voice said slowly, “Jiang Yu, this chicken is very nice, it was especially prepared for you.”

    Xiao Yu’er shook. He cried out: “You…how do you know my name?”

    The voice laughed, “The master of this place knows everything.”

    “Who are you exactly?” Xiao Yu’er asked again.

    The voice replied, “How do you know we are human?”

    Xiao Yu’er stepped backward in alarm. Finally he said, “What do you want from me?”

    The voice said, “Fine, we will show ourselves. Put on the blindfold in front of you first.”

    Xiao Yu’er did as instructed, then said, “Hmm.”

    The voice teased, “How do you know you are living and not dead? A person or a ghost? Now, open your eyes and look.”

    As he spoke, torches flared up everywhere. Suddenly Xiao Yu’er saw that there were seven or eight people in chairs sitting around him.

    They were dressed in large, flowing robes. Their ages seemed to be about twenty years old or so. Each person was elegant and refined in appearance.

    All of them were men, but somehow they seemed feminine as well. They all lounged on their chairs as if draped across them, and smiled lazily at Xiao Yu’er.

    He asked, “You are the masters of this place?”

    They shook their heads simultaneously. All of them seemed to be delicate and soft, not a bone in their bodies. Although they were alive, they weren’t far off from being dead.

    Xiao Yu’er hollered in frustration: “Who is your master? Why won’t he come out and see me? If he’s like you androgynous freaks, half alive and half dead, I’d rather not meet him.”

    One of them said, “I wouldn’t be mocking us if I were you. In three months time, you’ll be just like us.”

    Xiao Yu’er jeered, “I don’t think so.”

    The speaker smiled and retorted, “You don’t think so? You have a strong body, but you can’t beat her.”

    Xiao Yu’er echoed, “Her? Who is she?”

    “She is our empress.”

    He heard a ripple of laughter like a silvery bell: “I am, indeed, the empress of this place!”

    That particular laugh was very familiar to Xiao Yu’er. He turned, and saw her. The girl in green, who apparently had been burned alive.

    Xiao Yu’er stood there, stunned, his staring eyes larger than a chicken’s egg.

    The girl in green laughed “ge ge” while gazing at him. She quoted him, “Oh, the most intelligent man in the world, no one can fool you, can they?”

    His eyes were still fixed on her in shock. “No wonder the two bodies disappeared. No wonder you found the tree entrance so easily. Because you are the master of this place…you…you have really tricked me this time.”

    “Now do you respect me?” she teased.

    He sighed, “I do indeed…like I said before, you can lure people to their deaths. What I didn’t know was that you came from the underground.”

    She spun around in a circle, her arms apart, and laughed, “What do you think of my palace?”

    “Not bad, not bad at all,” he complimented her.

    Her eyes flickered over to his, and asked, “And what do you think of my concubines?”

    Xiao Yu’er’s eyes widened at her words.

    She giggled sweetly, “If a man can have three wives and four brides, why can’t a woman?”

    He smiled wryly, then suddenly grasped her meaning, and said with wide eyes, “You mean…you mean that I am also to be one of your concubines?”

    The girl in green looked at him, and smiled: “Wrong.”

    Xiao Yu’er sighed in relief, but stopped short as she said, “I want you to be my queen.”

    Xiao Yu’er stood there stunned, then broke into laughter. He laughed until he became quite breathless, he had never laughed so hard in his life before.

    The girl in green said, “Aren’t you happy?”

    He laughed even louder, “Oh, I’m happy, I’m thrilled to death! I have imagined all manner of crazy possibilities, but I would never have dreamed that one day I would be a queen.”

    “Why, you are not willing?” the girl in green teased.

    Xiao Yu’er opened his eyes wide and said, “Why wouldn’t I be willing? How many men on this earth could be a queen?”

    He suddenly leapt up, sat on the table(?), and commanded in a loud voice, “Hey, aren’t you all going to come over and bow to your new queen?”

    The youths dressed in light robes looked at each other, hesitated, then finally shuffled over. Xiao Yu’er said, “Oh, about three kowtows each should be sufficient, not too many.”

    The youths all looked over at the girl in green, who just smiled and nodded encouragement. At this point they had no choice but to kowtow.

    Xiao Yu’er joked, “Well, now you’ve finished paying your respects, you may leave. Go on now, I’ve got to have a few drinks with the king…I hope none of the royal concubines are thinking of competing for his affections, because the queen will get jealous and chop your heads off.”

    The youths all stared at him as if he were a monster. Without a word they all fled as one and disappeared.

    Xiao Yu’er clapped his hands and laughed, “Fantastic, being a queen feels pretty good after all.”

    Doubled over, the girl in green was laughing so hard that she could not lift her head. Still giggling she said, “Oh, you little flirt, you entertain me. I have been here for over ten years and never have I been more amused.”

    Laughing with her, Xiao Yu’er said, “Well from now on, every day I’ll amuse you, until you die of it. Yes, you are called “the Siren, luring men to death with impunity”, and for good reason, but I still intend to charm you to your death.”

    The laughter died in her throat. Her eyes wide, she looked at him and stammered: “How…how did you know my name?”

    “Not only do I know this name of yours,” Xiao Yu’er went on, “I know that you are also called Xiao Mimi, of the ‘Ten Evils’. (1) You appear to be graceful and tender, but actually you are already four or five decades old. But don’t worry, I won’t be repulsed by your age. The older the ginger, the more bite it has; the more mature a woman, the more I appreciate her.”

    He went on and on like a machine gun, while the girl in green stood motionless in her shock.

    “Don’t just stand there,” Xiao Yu’er teased her. “One moment in a spring evening is worth a thousand pieces of gold, you should come over and show your queen just how intimate you can be.”

    Still, she stared at him. At last she said slowly, “But you were inaccurate regarding one thing.”

    “What’s that?”

    “I am only thirty seven.”

    Xiao Yu’er replied with amusement in his eyes: “It doesn’t matter if you are seventeen. ‘Never debate with a woman about her age’ – I’ve understood this since I was young.”

    The girl in green retorted, “It doesn’t matter if you make any other mistake. But if you get a woman’s age wrong, she will never forgive you.”

    Her hands were soft and tender, as was her smile.

    Yet somehow a murderous expression shone through her smile. Those soft hands, could, in a flash, cruelly take someone’s life. Xiao Yu’er, of course, knew this well.

    However, he insisted on playing dumb, and laughing he asked, “I know who you are, but do you know who I am?”

    Her eyes darting back and forth, Xiao Mimi realized: “You…”

    Xiao Yu’er declared, “If the ‘Ten Evils’ had one friend, it would be me, Jiang Yu.”

    She said, “You dare to call yourself a friend of the ‘Ten Evils’?”

    He laughed, “What, you think I am a person of upstanding and moral character?”

    Xiao Mimi smiled sweetly: “Well, that you are certainly not. But you are far too young to be that smart. I think you…you must be sent here by that old monster, are you not? Otherwise how could you know who I am?”

    Xiao Yu’er admitted, “Well, I do indeed know quite a few monsters.”

    “Quite a few?” she echoed.

    He winked at her, and then laughing he said: “ ‘Ha ha, this little monk here never follows evil, amitaba. ‘Those who follow evil must die.’ ‘When you kill, be careful, don’t spill too much blood, or the meat will not taste fresh.’ ‘Under the gates of hell, there are too many hungry ghosts. The ghosts would eat even unfresh meat.’ ‘Oh you, silly, you are definitely a wicked one.’ .”

    As he quoted these phrases, there appeared the impressions of Ha ha’er, “Bloody Hand” Du Sha, “Not eating the head” Li Dazhui, “Half human, half ghost” Yin Jiuyou, “Neither male nor female”, Du Qiaoqiao. The tones and articulations were exactly identical to each of the original speakers. It was as if they had appeared and were speaking in person. (?)

    Xiao Mimi widened her eyes, then laughed sweetly, “Little flirt, you know all of these people?”

    “I grew up in the Valley of Evil,” Xiao Yu’er told her.

    Xiao Mimi lowered her hands and relaxed. She applauded him and laughed, “Well no wonder that you are a little monster then, you grew up with these people. Do they mention me often?”

    He smiled at her: “They told me that when I met you, to be extremely careful and not be tempted to my death. No matter who, friend or family, you would try your siren tricks on them.”

    Xiao Mimi giggled a few times, then said, “And do you believe their naughty words?”

    Xiao Yu’er stared at her as if enthralled: “To be able to meet someone like you, I wouldn’t care if I really were lured to my death.”

    Another enchanting laugh. “Oh, little flirt, it is you who are charming me; at this rate, I won’t be able to kill you at all.”

    He laughed back: “Now, are you going to drink with me or not?”

    Surprisingly, the winebearer was a young boy. His eyebrows were elegant above clear, clear eyes. And yet he was jaundiced and emaciated, as if his growth spurt had been inadequate. He appeared to be older than Xiao Yu’er, yet his body was quite a bit smaller.

    He shrank his neck into a hunched back and carried the platter with both hands, trembling all the while. But his two eyes would constantly flicker back to rest on Xiao Mimi’s bosom.

    Xiao Mimi laughed and called, “Little pervert, what are you looking at?”

    The boy’s face reddened and he lowered his head. “Nothing, nothing at all.”

    With a tempting smile, she said, “You wanted to kiss me, is that it?”

    He went a deeper shade of red as she said, “Come then, if you want to kiss me then come, what are you afraid of?”

    The boy then set down the platter, and embraced her.

    All of a sudden she slapped him with the back of her hand, so hard that he rolled on the floor a few times. Xiao Yu’er raised his head in time to see a murderous expression on the boy’s face as his back was turned. The hate on his face was terrifying.

    Yet when he stood up and faced her, only a pitiable expression could be seen. His cheeks flushed and head down, step by step, he slowly limped out, as if even walking were a difficult task.

    “Is that boy one of your concubines?” Xiao Yu’er asked.

    Xiao Mimi smiled: “Jealous, are you?”

    He merely said, “Ai, this is like destroying a tender young plant.”

    She bit out, “I insist on torturing him, until he dies.” Xiao Yu’er said in surprise, “Why do you hate him so much? He’s only a kid!”

    Xiao Mimi explained, “He is, but his father…ha, in the whole world, there is not another as vicious and cruel.”

    “Oh?” Xiao Yu’er laughed. “He is crueler than Yin Jiuyou? More vicious than Li Dazhui?”

    She pointed out: “So Yin Jiuyou is cruel. Li Dazhui is indeed vicious. But they at least do not hide their brutality. That brat’s father, however, would commit the most evil crimes, and people would still praise him as a hero.”

    Xiao Yu’er rolled his eyes and laughed: “If even you call him evil, this person must really be unforgivable.” What his heart was really thinking was: [If she considers him bad, he probably is quite a decent sort.]

    He deliberately refrained from asking the father’s name. To his surprise, Xiao Mimi did not mention it either, and merely watched the boy come in again with a fresh platter.

    Xiao Yu’er suddenly said, “Before we drink, I just need to freshen up a bit.”

    “Useless thing,” she scolded him while sipping her wine.

    He teased, “When the queen relieves herself, she must have servants to attend to her.”(?) He tugged at the boy’s hand and ordered, “Come, lead me there.”

    Xiao Mimi called after him: “Hurry up, or I’ll be done eating before you’re done. (?) The wine and food are waiting here for you.”

    The young boy went ahead of Xiao Yu’er, his head lowered and neck shrunk into his shoulders like a turtle. Xiao Yu’er, looking at his profile, seemed to be thinking of something.

    The underground palace was clearly designed with care. There was not an inch of excess or waste. He realized that the places for relieving oneself must be in the twists and turns of the long tunnel.

    Abruptly he asked the young boy, “Hey, what’s your family name?”

    “Jiang.”

    Xiao Yu’er mused, “Your last name is Jiang? What a coincidence. And what’s your first name?”

    The boy replied, “Yulang.”

    Xiao Yu’er scrunched his eyebrows together. His eyes darted back and forth. Suddenly he laughed aloud. “Strange, this is the underground, but where do all the human wastes go? Is there some sort of tunnel underneath?”

    Jiang Yulang answered, “Under here is not a tunnel, but a grave.”

    “A grave?” Xiao Yu’er repeated. “Whose grave?”

    “Supposedly the grave of the workers who built this place,” Jiang Yulang responded.

    Xiao Yu’er couldn’t help frowning. Hurriedly he stood up and remarked, “You know quite a bit, you must have been here for a long time.”

    “One year,” said Jiang Yulang.

    “A year…how did you get here?”

    Jiang Yulang answered him, “And how did you get here?”

    Xiao Yu’er snorted a laugh: “Hmm, that’s right, Xiao Mimi would definitely find a way to get you here.” He spoke again: “There must be some sort of underground opening to the surface…would you know?”

    “No.”

    “You haven’t tried to find one?” Xiao Yu’er inquired.

    “No,” Jiang Yulang said again.

    Xiao Yu’er asked him, “Don’t you want to leave here? You don’t want to go home?”

    Jiang Yulang said, “This place is very nice, it’s good enough for me.”

    Suddenly Xiao Yu’er gripped his shoulder and said in a low voice, “You little trickster, I know you’re thinking about it, you’re always thinking of ways to escape. You can’t fool me. If you work with me, we can think of a way out!”


    End of Chapter 28

  18. #18
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    The Legendary Siblings Chapter 29

    Jiang Yulang’s face was expressionless. Flatly he said, “If you are finished, please return to enjoy your wine.”

    Xiao Yu’er stared at him. For quite some time. Finally he said, each word distinct, “Remember what I said, don’t you forget a word!”

    Jiang Yulang remained impassive, and led him back, with his head lowered and back hunched. Once again Xiao Yu’er stared at his back, as if contemplating something.

    The two of them re-entered. Xiao Mimi laughed: “It appears you had a lot of business to do.”

    Xiao Yu’er rubbed his stomach, and gave a laugh: “Well, this stomach of mine…”

    Jiang Yulang abruptly cut in: “He was lying about relieving himself. He wanted me to conspire with him. He wanted me to tell him a way out of here, and even asked me to escape with him.”

    Xiao Mimi opened her eyes wide. Coldly she laughed, “Did you really want to leave, Jiang Yu? Forget asking him; I would have easily told you.”

    Xiao Yu’er did not react, but merely burst into laughter. He said, “I have lived in the Valley of Evil for over a decade. How could this place be harder to escape from? I was only testing this little devil here, do you really believe him?”

    She slowly replied, “Actually, it doesn’t matter if you lied or not. It would still be useless to ask him. No one knows the exit to this place, except for me.”

    She patted Jiang Yulang on the head, smiling: “I didn’t know you were so honest.”

    Jiang Yulang blushed. With eyes on the ground he murmured, “I only wish to be by my lady’s side. I don’t want to go anywhere else.”

    Xiao Mimi laughed, pleased. “You little pervert, go to bed and rest, don’t think of silly things now.”

    He glanced at Xiao Yu’er, protesting: “But he…my lady…”

    “You want me to kill him?” Xiao Mimi asked.

    Jiang Yulang said, “He…he’s too…” Xiao Mimi teasingly tugged his earlobe, and chuckled, “I don’t think you should be the one to be jealous. Get out of here.”

    He lowered his head, turned around, and obediently left. Xiao Mimi didn’t spare him another glance; this little devil was nothing to her. No matter what tricks he tried to play, she could see right through him. She only had eyes for another little devil.

    With a smile on his face, Xiao Yu’er said, “What a little rascal he is.”

    Xiao Mimi countered: “If he’s a little rascal, you must be even worse.”

    “You think I can’t compare to him?” Xiao Yu’er asked.

    Xiao Mimi’s eyes crinkled in amusement: “Do you know why I haven’t killed you?”

    “Because you can’t bear to,” he teased.

    With a peal of laughter, she admitted, “That’s right. I can’t bear to kill you right now, I want to see just how good you are. Du Qiaoqiao must have taught you some devilry, and I…I want to try it.”

    She slowly slid across the soft couch.(?) Desire flushed across her cheeks and forehead. Gently she murmured: “Won’t you come over? Are you waiting for me to teach you?”

    Xiao Yu’er’s eyes darted back and forth, a smile on his face.

    Xiao Mimi said in a low voice, “Well? What are you waiting for?”

    He said, “It’s just that…”

    Before he could finish his sentence, he was interrupted by Jiang Yulang rushing in. His face was drained of colour. In a trembling voice he said: “My…my lady, something’s wrong!”

    “What are you doing?” Xiao Mimi snapped crossly.

    Jiang Yulang stammered, “Dead…they are all dead.”

    Her expression changed. “Who is dead?” Jiang Yulang could only say: “You…please come quickly…they…they…” He collapsed on the floor in a dead faint.

    Corpses. Everywhere there were dead bodies. The crowd of youths dressed in light robes, not one of them remained alive.

    Upon turning their faces, they found that some had exsanguinated from the seven orifices,(1) and some had been mutilated beyond recognition(?). Even Xiao Yu’er, normally calm and collected under most circumstances, felt a chill seep into his heart.

    Xiao Mimi stamped her foot in shock and anger: “How…how did this happen?”

    Xiao Yu’er’s eyes flickered back and forth as he realized: “Perhaps the old monster has secretly arrived.”

    “Impossible, that is not possible!” Xiao Mimi declared. “No one knows about this place.”

    Although her lips said “impossible”, she had already dashed outside. Suddenly she turned back and screamed: “Don’t you dare follow, or I’ll kill you!”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed sarcastically, “Don’t worry, of course I know I won’t live long if I eavesdrop on your secrets. I still wish to live a while yet…”

    No sooner had she rushed out the front door, Xiao Yu’er had reached the back entrance. Although he knew that Xiao Mimi was leaving by the secret entrance, he did not follow to find out where it was. The only reason was because he wanted to spy on another person’s secret!

    He crouched on the floor, and opened half an eye. He saw Jiang Yulang suddenly arise from his swoon on the ground, and open an eye to survey his surroundings. He did not see Xiao Yu’er hiding there. Xiao Yu’er quietly breathed and did not move.

    Suddenly Jiang Yulang called out, “Young master Jiang, Jiang Yu, you can come out now.”

    Xiao Yu’er’s heart jumped. But he gritted his teeth and did not make a sound. Jiang Yulang waited a while, then jumped up. Unexpectedly he became swifter than a swallow in his movements, more slippery than a fish, livelier than a fox. With a flash, he darted into a small door to the side.

    The small door was the place where he had taken Xiao Yu’er to relieve himself. Xiao Yu’er had oriented himself properly, and as soon as Jiang Yulang disappeared into the door, he followed and stared at that little door with half an eye.

    He saw Jiang Yulang trying to squirm headfirst into the toilet. Xiao Yu’er, also swallow-like in his speed, crossed over. Jiang Yulang had lifted the lid of the toilet and plunged into it.

    Suddenly his waist went numb, and the waistband of his pants was grasped by someone. He heard Xiao Yu’er laugh mockingly: “Well well well…trying to escape by yourself, that won’t do.”

    This time his face was truly pale from fear. His voice shook: “Please…please don’t kid around with me.”

    Xiao Yu’er burst into cold laughter: “Who’s kidding? Seriously now, what do you think you’re doing?”

    Jiang Yulang stammered, “I…I just had to use the toilet.”

    “Dog crap,” Xiao Yu’er said flatly. “You don’t need to dive into the pile of crap to relieve yourself!”

    “I…I wanted to…”

    Suppressing his laughter, Xiao Yu’er guessed: “You wanted to eat sh*t?”

    Jiang Yulang mumbled, “I heard that feces could be used to cleanse poisons from the body. I am poisoned, so therefore…” Xiao Yu’er chuckled mirthlessly: “You little devil, you’ve got quite a tongue, but don’t think you can fool me. If you don’t tell me the truth now, I’ll drag you in front of Xiao Mimi. And I’ll tell her that you killed all these people!”

    Jiang Yulang began to involuntarily twitch, all over his body. “No…no I didn’t…”

    Xiao Yu’er said: “You killed them to divert Xiao Mimi, then you planned to hide in a secret place. When she finally gave up searching for you, you would then sneak out!”

    “You…you…” was all Jiang Yulang could say.

    Xiao Yu’er added, “What a little fiend; you really deserve to drink the used water from my footbaths. Tell you the truth- I saw through you a long time ago – if you want to escape alive, you’d better be a good boy and co-operate with me.”

    Jiang Yulang let out a sigh, then said, “All right, you win. You were right, my hiding place is in the pile of crap. I wasted an entire year to dig it.”

    Xiao Yu’er whistled: “Amazing, that you could have a hiding place here. You’re not afraid of the stink?”

    “It’s not too smelly that I can’t use it to save my life,” Jiang Yulang retorted.

    “I’ve seen many villains in my time,” Xiao Yu’er remarked, “but one so patient and ruthless, I have never met before, little devil. I have to say, I can’t help but admire you.”

    Jiang Yulang interrupted him, “Quick, we’re running out of time. Let me go, I’ll lead you!”

    Smiling, Xiao Yu’er let go of his hand and said, “If you clean it up a bit, I’ll…”

    His words were cut short, Jiang Yulang suddenly kicked out with his two feet. His kicks were truly vicious and accurate; which was surprising since he didn’t appear to have such advanced martial arts.

    Unfortunately, Xiao Yu’er had already accounted for that possibility. As soon as Jiang Yulang kicked again, the acupoints on his waist were all sealed. The entire lower half of his body was effectively paralyzed.

    Xiao Yu’er sneered again: “Didn’t I already tell you, you can’t trick me. Be a good boy and crawl along now.”

    Jiang Yulang’s voice trembled: “But I…I can’t move.”

    “That’s all right,” Xiao Yu’er said. “You can’t move your legs, but you can pull yourself with your hands!”

    Jiang Yulang fell silent and obediently scrabbled along with his arms.

    The toilet was already designed with an underground drainage tunnel of sorts. What Jiang Yulang had done was scrape out a little tunnel branching out from it, large enough to accommodate his body. He moved along like a young snake.

    Xiao Yu’er plugged his nose and followed. Luckily the stench disappeared after a short distance. He could only smile ironically and say: “And they call me a little monster. I think the little monster is you. Unbelievable, that you could think of this, and do such work in such a place.”

    The small tunnel was only seven or eight feet long, and at its end there was a tiny room, which was only about seven or eight square feet in size. But inside, Jiang Yulang had set up four or five blankets, two tubs of water, one jar of wine, and a big pile of salted meat, preserved sausages, cakes, and there were also about ten books.

    Xiao Yu’er looked and looked. He couldn’t help repeating himself: “You sure put a lot of effort into this, you’ve thought of every detail.” Jiang Yulang crouched in a corner, peering at him. His eyes were like those of a snake, they flickered with a poisonous, hateful, and devious light.

    Xiao Yu’er looked back at him. He didn’t care if Jiang Yulang was a snake or a fox or even a slippery fish. Xiao Yu’er had never been afraid of evil people; the more evil they were, the more interesting he found them.

    It was so still and lonely here underground, which was hard to bear, but at least it was safe. He leisurely flung himself onto a blanket and grabbed a sausage for himself. He sniffed at it and took a bite. The taste was pretty good, not bad at all.

    Xiao Yu’er joked, “Hiding in a pile of crap, eating sausages in a pile of crap… Jiang Yulang you are really a genius.”

    Jiang Yulang lowered his eyelids. He mumbled to himself, “Genius! Genius…”

    “Carving out a hiding spot from a sewage drain is a pretty brilliant idea, only a really smart person would have thought of it,” Xiao Yu’er praised, laughing. “No matter how close an eye Xiao Mimi kept on you, she would never follow you around when you went to the bathroom.”

    Jiang Yulang said glumly, “That’s right, it really is a genius idea. But after coming up with such an intelligent plan, do you know what price I had to pay, what agonies I had to suffer, could you even imagine?”

    “Go ahead, tell me,” Xiao Yu’er said. “I enjoy hearing of others’ miseries.”

    “All you would know about is the need for secrecy while pretending to defecate and digging this place,” Jiang Yulang spat out. “But could you imagine how many times I would have to sh*t in order to dig this kind of a hole?”

    Xiao Yu’er agreed, “Hmm, it would take quite a few times.”

    “Have you ever counted how many times a person goes in a day?” Jiang Yulang went on. “How many chances I would have in a year? If you crap too often, wouldn’t that make others suspicious?”

    Scratching his head, Xiao Yu’er mused, “Mmm…that would…”

    Jiang Yulang continued, “Just think of a person, digging like crazy while he was supposed to be crapping. But where would his crap go? Would he just hold it in forever and never go?”

    Xiao Yu’er scratched his head again. He could only laugh wryly: “Hmm…that would be quite a difficulty. If you really took a sh*t while you were excused to go to the bathroom, you wouldn’t have time to dig your tunnel. But if you spent all your time digging, you wouldn’t be able to crap. So what did you do?”

    Jiang Yulang laughed bitterly. He said, “What I did, you could never imagine. A fancy lord like you, could never dream of what a slave like me had to go through.”

    His eyes widened, and he gritted his teeth. The words fell one by one from his lips: “I became like a dog. I crapped as I worked. I couldn’t waste a second in the toilet. I learned to strip off my clothes in the shortest time possible, once inside the bathroom. I almost froze to death half the time, but I had to stay there naked. I couldn’t dirty my clothes with the sh*t and mud, and arouse suspicion. But my body was covered in it.”

    His lips stopped moving, and trembled, as if he wanted to vomit. Xiao Yu’er felt a strange emotion in his heart, and he tossed aside his half eaten sausage. He wanted to say something, but after a while, no words came out.

    Jiang Yulang’s eyes were fixed on the piece of discarded sausage, and slowly said, “Do you know why I’m so scrawny?”

    Xiao Yu’er said, “You…ummm…you…”

    Jiang Yulang ground his teeth and snarled, “I’m skinny because I was forced to starve myself. To reduce the amount of crap I had to sh*t out every day. To save up food for this place.”

    His teeth flashed white behind his lips as he gave a shrill laugh: “This was the life of a genius for a year. One whole year living like a dog, to get this place. And you! You haven’t done a thing, and you’re lying here ever so comfortable.”

    Xiao Yu’er was still rubbing his head. Suddenly he smiled. “You want to know why?”

    “Tell me,” Jiang Yulang hissed.

    “Let me tell you,” Xiao Yu’er said, laughing, “this is because you are a genius. But I am a genius among geniuses. Someone as brilliant as me, would never be reduced to suffering like this.”

    Jiang Yulang stared at him for a long while. Finally he lowered his head, muttering, “You’re right, I am definitely not your equal. You are brilliant!”

    What should have been a compliment, somehow cast a chill through Xiao Yu’er’s body when he heard it. It sounded like he was spitting out a vicious curse. This stunted and pale youth, although perhaps not as clever as Xiao Yu’er, was far beyond him in terms of spitefulness and hatred.

    This was especially true with respect to patience. Xiao Yu’er could never compare to this child. Patience was a virtue, but sometimes, if used the wrong way, it could be quite horrifying. Xiao Yu’er said no more.

    He thought to himself: [If anyone in the world could be considered a rival for me, it would be this little fox.] But immediately he knew he was wrong. There was still another rival, and quite a formidable one at that!

    Before his eyes flashed an image of an elegant, gentle and courteous figure. An ever considerate figure who never lost his temper.

    Hua Wuque, a flawless gentleman. (2) He was not the least bit vicious, nor devious in any way. He seemed to be without evil intent. Aside from his martial arts, there appeared to be nothing worth fearing. But the type of person who seemed to have nothing worth fearing, was actually the one you should be most wary of. Hua Wuque was like an ocean, deep and vast, unfathomable.

    Xiao Yu’er secretly sighed, and mumbled to himself, “That rascal is really an enigma. Anyone who can puzzle me, is not bad quality at all.”

    Jiang Yulang looked at him, as if wanting to say something, but he restrained himself.

    Xiao Yu’er saw him and laughed: “No, I wasn’t talking about you, I was thinking of someone else.”

    “Oh,” said Jiang Yulang.

    Xiao Yu’er mused, “The thing is, he doesn’t seem intelligent at all. But no matter how smart you are, or what tricks you use, it’s all useless against him. Because whatever strategy you try, he’ll never fall for it. In the end, you somehow wind up the loser.”

    Jiang Yulang laughed indifferently: “I’ve never met that kind of person before…”

    With a chuckle, Xiao Yu’er said, “Just you wait, as long as you live to get out of here, you will.”

    Despairingly, Jiang Yulang echoed him, “If only I live to get out of here…”

    Suddenly his expression changed. His voice cracked: “Oh no.”

    Xiao Yu’er knew that if he was frightened, it must be something serious. Despite himself, his face also began to drain of colour. He said, “What is it?”

    Jiang Yulang stammered, “You…did you replace the cover on top of the toilet after you entered the tunnel?”

    With wide eyes Xiao Yu’er admitted, “Oh no, I didn’t, I forgot.”

    His face pale, Jiang Yulang moaned, “When she finds us missing, Xiao Mimi will search everywhere, if she sees this…”

    Xiao Yu’er smiled comfortingly, “Maybe you’re too obsessive, do you really think she would look for us in the toilet?”

    Jiang Yulang countered: “Of course I’m obsessive. Even a little mistake could cost me my life. Have you any idea of the depth of Xiao Mimi’s martial arts?”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed sarcastically: “It’s precisely because I don’t know how good she is, that’s why I’ve never dared to cross her…when dealing with someone stupid, it doesn’t matter how good their martial arts are. But she, on the other hand, she is a monster.”

    Sighing, Jiang Yulang explained, “You couldn’t even imagine the height of her abilities. According to rumour, she has had more than seven hundred lovers. Among them were disciples of the Famed Seven Swords. If each lover merely taught her a single stroke, that would be enough to make her terrifying.”

    Xiao Yu’er’s eyes darted back and forth. Finally he said, “In that case, we should probably be very careful. I’ll sneak out and cover the lid back up.”

    Jiang Yulang cut him off: “Wait.” As he spoke, he was listening with his ear pressed against the dirt wall. After a pause, he turned to Xiao Yu’er, ashen-faced. “Sh*t. She’s come back.”

    End of Chapter 29

  19. #19
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
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    The Legendary Siblings Chapter 30

    Xiao Yu’er pressed his ear to the dirt wall as well. Quietly he listened for sounds up above.

    Xiao Mimi was indeed raging up there. Her yells of anger and curses were clearly audible, although he couldn’t make out her exact words, he could imagine.

    Jiang Yulang said, “I’ve planned for this for so long. I figured that she would never figure out my hiding place. She would think I had escaped somehow. But that toilet cover…”

    Xiao Yu’er comforted him, “She’s so mad right now, if I were her, the last thing I’d notice would be if the toilet lid was on or not.”

    “Let’s hope that’s true,” Jiang Yulang said. He paused, then said, “As long as she doesn’t find us, she won’t stay long here. And if everyone’s dead, why would she stay in this place?”

    Xiao Yu’er agreed: “Right, she would surely leave.”

    “We’d just have to hide here at most for half a month,” Jiang Yulang guessed. “By that time she’ll have left for sure. Then we can walk out of here, free men, not worrying about her chasing us.”

    “So you know about the secret exit?” Xiao Yu’er asked.

    Smiling calmly, Jiang Yulang said, “There’s not a secret in the world that can be kept from everyone.”

    Laughing, Xiao Yu’er said, “Good. We’ll wait our half month. Living underground for half a month, would be rather interesting. I dare say not many people have enjoyed such an experience.”

    He flung himself down again, winked and laughed: “Only…I do apologize, but I cannot unseal your acupoints.”

    “You…you really insist on this?” Jiang Yulang said.

    Xiao Yu’er explained, “I can’t. You and I will be living together day and night, I really have some misgivings. I have to be on my guard.”

    With a smile he went on, “By the way, I almost forgot to tell you, I sealed your acupoints in such a way that you will not be able to independently unseal them.”

    This little hole was like a snake’s lair, and Jiang Yulang was the snake itself. Sleeping with a snake in its home; most people wouldn’t be able to get a wink.

    Xiao Yu’er, however, did it easily. He gobbled up his preserved sausage, wolfed down some cake, and washed it all down with a bowl of wine. Cheeks red and belly full, he settled down nicely into a sweet slumber.

    There was a torch set into the wall. Its light showed Xiao Yu’er’s pink cheeks clearly. Jiang Yulang stared at them for a while. He was secretly counting Xiao Yu’er’s breaths. He had already reached four thousand. Xiao Yu’er’s breaths were even and deep.

    Jiang Yulang had already examined the meridians (?) on his own legs. The bastard wasn’t lying, he must have used some bewitched sealing technique from some d*mned sect. Now he was just lying there, sleeping happily, precisely because he knew Jiang Yulang wouldn’t dare kill him.

    But Jiang Yulang quietly reached out his hands. Xiao Yu’er continued to sleep, and even began to snore lightly.

    With eyes fixed on Xiao Yu’er, Jiang Yulang kept stretching his hands forward. Xiao Yu’er’s sounds grew louder.

    Jiang Yulang’s hands suddenly found a book, and rapidly flipped its pages. There was a piece of folded paper sandwiched within the book. Jiang Yulang let out a breath, and took out the paper.

    Lightly he set the book back, and carefully folded the paper even smaller. He thought for a bit. In the boots? No. Finally he settled on tucking it into his topknot. Now his pale face shone with a light.

    Then he let out another breath, closed his eyes, and fell asleep.

    On the instant, Xiao Yu’er’s eyes popped wide open. The torch in the wall showed Jiang Yulang’s pale cheeks clearly. Xiao Yu’er’s face betrayed a mocking smile.

    His eyes seemed to say: [You cannot fool me, there is nothing in which you can fool me.]

    Jiang Yulang’s breaths also grew even and deep. Silently Xiao Yu’er stood up. He also reached his hands out, and waved them about ten times in front of Jiang Yulang’s face. Still Jiang Yulang breathed steadily. He hadn’t noticed at all.

    The little fox was very exhausted, and had truly fallen asleep. Xiao Yu’er slowly and lightly extended two fingers to pull at Jiang Yulang’s hair. However, he had not yet reached the hair when he changed direction. Now the fingers were aimed at Jiang Yulang’s “sleep” acupoint.

    The sleeping Jiang Yulang suddenly sighed: “If you want to take it, go ahead. There’s hardly a need to seal another acupoint.”

    Xiao Yu’er blinked, then burst into stunned laughter: “Ah, so you weren’t asleep.”

    Jiang Yulang morosely pointed out: “Being with someone like you, how could I sleep at all?”

    “But your acting abilities are superb,” Xiao Yu’er complimented him with a laugh. “Even I was tricked by you.”

    “You’re not bad yourself,” Jiang Yulang snorted.

    Xiao Yu’er laughed out loud: “Excellent! Well then…are you going to let me peek at what’s in your hair?”

    Jiang Yulang smiled bitterly: “How could I refuse?” Meanwhile he drew out the long piece of paper. His fingertips shook. Obviously the piece of paper was very important to him, but still he took it out. With respect to matters in which he had no choice, Jiang Yulang never tried to resist.

    He tossed it to Xiao Yu’er, then sighed deeply: “I must have been really evil in my former life, to be running into you.”

    Xiao Yu’er’s heart was full of curiosity. What secret could be on that paper? By the way Jiang Yulang was acting, this could be no ordinary secret.

    His heart hammering, he flipped open the paper. It took no more than a glance- he burst into giggles.

    Jiang Yulang stared at him: “Smug, aren’t we?”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed even harder, “Oh yes, certainly.”

    “To be able to view this secret, of course you would be smug,” Jiang Yulang growled through gritted teeth. “Otherwise, you would never in one lifetime be able to see the treasures this paper has hidden.”

    Xiao Yu’er gasped, “Oh yes, this paper is truly valuable indeed…” As he spoke, he tore the paper into shreds. Jiang Yulang got the shock of his life. His face went even paler, making him look terrifying. His voice trembled: “You…do you know how much this piece of paper is worth?”

    Slowly Xiao Yu’er said, “Of course I know. I’ve seen this before. Not only that, but I had a copy of my own.”

    Jiang Yulang was stunned. He repeated, “You…you also had a copy?”

    “Not only did I possess a copy, I’ve also been to the hiding place of the treasure!”

    Jiang Yulang’s valuable piece of paper, naturally, was identical to the one Tie Xinlan had given to Xiao Yu’er, the treasure map which had cost many lives.

    Of course, Jiang Yulang could not know these details, and right now could only stand there in shock. “You…you are telling the truth? You have been there?”

    “Why should I lie to you?” Xiao Yu’er retorted.

    Jiang Yulang’s breathing became rapid and shallow. He stammered, “Then…the treasure…who has it now? Where is it?”

    His eyes gleaming, Xiao Yu’er said, “You tell me how you got this map, and I’ll tell you.”

    Jiang Yulang’s hands twisted tightly on his own clothing. He said, “If I tell you, you will really tell me?”

    Xiao Yu’er reassured him, “If you tell me and I don’t tell you, then I’m a turtle.”

    Sighing in relief, Jiang Yulang told him, “I stole the treasure map from my father’s study.”

    “And where did your father get it from?” Xiao Yu’er persisted.

    “This I really don’t know.”

    “Hmm, that’s right,” Xiao Yu’er muttered, “I heard your father is quite a famous man. This map was probably a gift to him. Little did he guess what a good son he had.”

    Sighing and shaking his head, he laughed, “Stealing even your father’s possessions, this type of filial son is rare indeed.”

    Jiang Yulang’s face did not redden in the slightest. He said, “This is nothing, I…”

    Xiao Yu’er cut in: “You wanted the treasure all for yourself, so you stole out secretly, and reached Mount Emei. Who knew you would then fall into Xiao Mimi’s hands. Luckily you did, or you may have been dead at this point.”

    “Why?” Jiang Yulang asked curiously.

    Xiao Yu’er went on, “Indeed, it was fortunate that your father had you for a thieving son, otherwise he would have fallen for a big trick.”

    “Trick?” Jiang Yulang repeated.

    “To tell you the truth,” Xiao Yu’er said, “the treasure map was a fake. It is worthless. The maker of the map merely wished any treasure seekers to kill themselves while fighting each other for it!”

    Jiang Yulang was completely stunned. After a pause, he mumbled, “And who is the mapmaker?”

    Xiao Yu’er said spitefully, “I don’t know either. But I will find them. Not for the sake of any greater good, but because this person has tricked me, and so I will make them pay.”

    Jiang Yulang muttered, “No wonder you asked me where I got the map from, no wonder…”

    Suddenly, sounds came up to them through the underground tunnel.

    It was Xiao Mimi’s voice. She was hollering: “Jiang Yulang, Xiao Yu’er, you little rotten eggs, are you down there?”

    Their hands turned to ice. Neither could move.

    They heard her peals of laughter: “It doesn’t matter if you don’t make a sound, I already know you’re down there.”

    Jiang Yulang said, trembling: “She…she’s trying to trick us.”

    Xiao Yu’er disagreed: “I don’t think so. Right now she’s speaking directly into the toilet hole, or we wouldn’t hear her so clearly.”

    “I told you that toilet cover would get us in trouble,” sighed Jiang Yulang.

    Xiao Yu’er also sighed, “That woman is too much.”

    They heard Xiao Mimi laughing again: “Jiang Yulang, what a genius, what an idea to escape using a sh*t hole.”

    “Did you hear that, she called you a genius,” Xiao Yu’er teased.

    Jiang Yulang asked, incredulous, “How can you even be laughing right now?”

    “Think about it,” Xiao Yu’er said. “Why shouldn’t I be laughing?”

    Jiang Yulang said: “Because…because you aren’t afraid of her?”

    “That’s right,” Xiao Yu’er said. “No matter how powerful she is, as long as we stay here, she won’t dare to come in. And with her temperament, she won’t be waiting around out there either.”

    After reflecting on it, Jiang Yulang also laughed: “Ah, that’s right, she doesn’t know what we’ve got in here. She won’t take the risk. Even if she waited out there, she won’t wait for very long. Eventually we’ll get a chance to escape.”

    Xiao Mimi coaxed: “Come out, you little rotten eggs.”

    Xiao Yu’er yelled back: “Why don’t you come in, you old rotten egg.”

    She said, “So you’re really not coming out?”

    “How about you coming in?” he replied.

    “You’d rather stink yourselves to death?” Xiao Mimi said.

    Xiao Yu’er laughed loudly: “Don’t you worry, we won’t die of the stench. It’s so nice and comfy here, there’s sausages, wine, are you sure you won’t join us for a drink or two?”

    She joked back: “Even if you don’t care, I can’t bear the smell.” In a low voice she added, “Besides, I don’t even want you to come back up.”

    “Really now?” chortled Xiao Yu’er.

    Xiao Mimi explained, “If you come back up, I might kill you in a fit of anger. That would be too easy a death for you; I need you to die in a slow agony.”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed even louder: “And how are you going to make us slowly…” His laughter suddenly died.

    She was laughing now: “Go ahead, laugh, little rotten egg, why aren’t you laughing?”

    Jiang Yulang’s expression also changed. The two men yelled together: “Xiao Guniang, Miss Xiao…”

    No response came up the tunnel. They looked at each other, their faces the colour of ash.

    They heard a rumble, then a “wa la la” clattering and banging cacophony up the tunnel.

    Jiang Yulang stammered, “It’s over…”

    Xiao Yu’er muttered: “Incredible…hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, I should have known she would do this.”

    “Well, now we don’t have to worry about that toilet cover anymore,” Jiang Yulang groaned.

    Xiao Yu’er said loudly, “Well, she may have sealed up the entrance to the tunnel, but we could still dig our way out.”

    Sighing, Jiang Yulang said despairingly, “She meant to trap us in here. She would surely have fixed a metal barrier onto the toilet, or a stone lid or something...”

    “So we’ll just dig upward in another direction,” Xiao Yu’er stubbornly insisted.

    Jiang Yulang pointed out, “When this place was first constructed, it was designed to be water-resistant. Between us and the surface, there is a layer of stone about a foot thick.”

    A pause. Then Xiao Yu’er released Jiang Yulang’s sealed acupoints with a flick of his wrist. He said, “I suppose you won’t be trying anything funny…”

    Jiang Yulang could only mumble: “Half a month…after that, we’ll starve to death in here.”

    Xiao Yu’er slapped him heartily on the shoulder, then laughed loudly: “Come on, don’t give up, we’ve got at least half a month’s life to live then…I should have died so many times before now, this half a month is practically a gift.”

    Although he was laughing, his laughter was harsh and grated on their ears.

    Jiang Yulang had not moved for three hours.

    He was just sitting there, staring at nothing, in a daze, thinking about he knew not what. Xiao Yu’er opened the wine jar, and called to him eight times, but was ignored.

    So Xiao Yu’er had to drink by himself. He drank a mouthful and laughed. Another gulp, then a sigh. He muttered, “Refusing to drink when at death’s door, that person must be an idiot.” Jiang Yulang stared at him without a word.

    Xiao Yu’er continued to rant: “My only regret is, we’re dying a bit too soon. In fact I really regret it now, I should have enjoyed that body of Xiao Mimi’s. Ai, to not enjoy the fairer sex, what a positive waste of youth…”

    Swaying, he got to his feet, and went to swipe another link of sausage.

    Jiang Yulang snapped coldly: “You’re drunk.”

    Laughing, Xiao Yu’er shot back: “Well, drinking yourself to death is a much better way to go than dying of starvation.”

    Suddenly Jiang Yulang sprang up, and struck out with a palm. His body was light, and his hand was quick- this stroke was meant to take Xiao Yu’er’s life!

    End of Chapter 30

  20. #20
    Senior Member Mojo Jojo's Avatar
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    The Legendary Siblings Chapter 31

    The torchlight flickered before Xiao Yu’er’s eyes. Instantly he shifted and parried Jiang Yulang’s palm. Both of them were flung against the earthen wall from the shock.

    Xiao Yu’er cried out with bulging eyes: “You…you want to kill me?”

    “Of course.”

    “If you’re going to die anyway,” Xiao Yu’er protested, “why bother…”

    Jiang Yulang explained, “These supplies would only last me a month. With you, I have one less half month to live. By killing you, I save half a month.”

    Incredulously Xiao Yu’er sputtered: “You would kill me for one more day of life?”

    “I would kill you for one hour’s worth!” hooted Jiang Yulang.

    Xiao Yu’er snickered: “I knew you were a bad one, but I had no idea just how evil. You have got to be number one when it comes to being evil.”

    “And you?” Jiang Yulang retorted.

    “Compared with you,” Xiao Yu’er asserted, “I’m like an old granny on a vegetarian diet.”

    He had hardly finished speaking, when his hands flashed before Jiang Yulang. Because this cave was so small, he hardly needed to move before he had reached Jiang Yulang’s face.

    Perhaps Xiao Yu’er had struck out too quickly, or maybe Jiang Yulang had not anticipated an offensive move from him. In any case, Jiang Yulang had no time to dodge at all before he was soundly smacked. With a “pak” sound, half of Jiang Yulang’s face turned crimson, and he crumpled to the floor.

    Xiao Yu’er laughingly mocked him: “You might seem quite scrawny, but your cheeks are rather well padded. If I hadn’t seen clearly that I had slapped your face, I might have thought I was spanking a cheek from a woman’s ***.”

    His hand on his injured cheek, Jiang Yulang’s voice quivered: “You…what are you going to do?”

    “Since you want to kill me, can’t I kill you?” Xiao Yu’er barked. With the back of his hand, he slapped Jiang Yulang again.

    Jiang Yulang’s face was now beginning to resemble the underbelly of a dead fish. He trembled: “You and I, we’re going to die anyway, why are you…”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed out loud. “You’re right, but you just reminded me, if I kill you, I’ve got an extra half month to live.”

    Jiang Yulang lowered his head, whimpering: “I…I deserve to die…it’s all my fault…” Without warning he lashed out like a morningstar and launched his head toward Xiao Yu’er’s abdomen. Although his head might not be that hard, it certainly had to be a lot harder than a stomach.

    Although Xiao Yu’er had been tracking Jiang Yulang’s hand and leg movements all along, it was true that he had not been keeping an eye on that little ball of a head. He was knocked into a corner, rather like a baby shrimp, with a curved out middle(?). Clutching his stomach, he could not catch his breath for a few minutes.

    Laughing coldly, Jiang Yulang sneered, “I think you know now who deserves to die.” He used his full strength to smash his foot onto Xiao Yu’er’s chin.

    Xiao Yu’er lay there as if unable to raise his head. But when Jiang Yulang Jiang Yulang’s foot had just reached his face, Xiao Yu’er’s hand which had been clutching his own tummy, flew up. Together his hands reached, as if they were snatching at the embroidered silk ball flung into the air by the minister’s daughter. (1) He grabbed Jiang Yulang’s right foot, and wrenched it sharply to the left.

    Jiang Yulang shrieked in pain, and flipped over his entire body like a fish. He collapsed on the floor, blood pouring out from his nostrils.

    Xiao Yu’er immediately jumped on his back and laughed: “Now I really do know who deserves to die.”

    Wheezing and puffing, Jiang Yulang dragged himself on the floor, panting: “All right, you win, you are stronger than me in all things. But I know you won’t kill me. If you had really wanted to, you didn’t need to wait until now.”

    The little rascal was actually trying for pity, trying to flatter Xiao Yu’er. Although this should have been easy to do, Xiao Yu’er was not pleased at all and in fact felt uneasy(?). He knew that Jiang Yulang would love nothing more than to plunge a sharp dagger into his throat, or some other place, some other more vulnerable place. But at this moment he had no dagger, and even if he did it would be useless. When someone else is riding on your back, it’s impossible to stab them in the throat.

    He was merely waiting for an opportunity, when he could take his time to stab slowly, over and over.

    You might not be able to consider Xiao Yu’er the most evil and ruthless person. But at least you could say he was extremely clever. He knew exactly how Jiang Yulang felt. And yet, although he knew Jiang Yulang wanted to kill him, he would still give the rascal chances to kill him. He wanted to see just how Jiang Yulang would try it.

    This would certainly be a fun thing to see. And with regard to curious and interesting things, Xiao Yu’er would never pass up an opportunity. Especially when he didn’t have long to live.

    As he pondered in fascination, he seemed to have forgotten his imminent danger of dying.

    Just as he was getting really excited, Jiang Yulang vaulted his body back into an upright position, and flung Xiao Yu’er off his back. Normally, this would hardly be a problem at all, but such a confined space now made it dangerous.

    With a “dong” sound, like a drum being struck, Xiao Yu’er’s head hit the roof of the cave. Then his body fell to the floor.

    Jiang Yulang took a long while to get up. He grabbed Xiao Yu’er’s neck and sneered coldly: “I know you won’t really try to kill me, but I am really going to kill you.”

    His fingers dug in forcefully, but Xiao Yu’er did not react.

    Jiang Yulang’s grip relaxed. He did not wish to kill Xiao Yu’er while he was unconscious. He wanted to see him struggle, wanted to see his expression while he was unable to breathe.

    Xiao Yu’er, irritatingly, refused to regain consciousness. Jiang Yulang reached out one hand and grabbed the wine jar which had rolled off to one side. He dumped all of the leftover wine straight onto Xiao Yu’er’s head.

    Before he was done, Xiao Yu’er’s hands suddenly reached in between Jiang Yulang’s arms. One fist sailed into Jiang Yulang’s throat. Jiang Yulang’s face contorted in pain, but he still managed to remember to smash the wine jar on Xiao Yu’er’s head.

    Of course Xiao Yu’er had predicted this maneuver. He rolled his body to one side, then his foot lashed out and kicked Jiang Yulang in his private parts. The wine jar was smashed to bits. Jiang Yulang was curled up in exquisite agony, unable to move or breathe.

    This kick was certainly effective, but also clearly not sportsmanlike. In fact you couldn’t really consider it a real martial arts move. Indeed, from beginning to end, neither of them had used proper techniques. Because they were confined in this rat’s nest-sized cave, they were unable to use proper martial arts at all. Luckily they weren’t fighting for other people to watch, nor were there any spectators.

    The torchlight appeared to gradually dim down.

    Xiao Yu’er suddenly sprang up, and said, “Oh no.”

    Jiang Yulang snarled, “What, we aren’t in enough trouble, that something more could go wrong?”

    Sighing, Xiao Yu’er explained, “Even before we starved to death, we would die from suffocation in here.”

    Since the tunnel entrance was blocked up, the oxygen in the air was slowly thinning out. The light from the torches would soon extinguish. He felt that his breaths were become stifled, that his eyelids were growing heavy.

    Jiang Yulang said in a trembling voice, “I thought of everything, except this…”

    Xiao Yu’er said, “Now even if you killed me, at most you would only gain an extra half hour.”

    Jiang Yulang mumbled repetitively, “Half an hour, half an hour…” His teeth began to chatter. Xiao Yu’er’s expression was also despairing, he mumbled to himself: “Suffocating…I wonder how it feels?”

    “I’ve heard that suffocating is the worst,” moaned Jiang Yulang. “Before suffocating, people go crazy, they even claw out their own faces!” The only reason why he was going into such detail, was because he didn’t like being scared alone, he wanted Xiao Yu’er to share in his misery.

    Xiao Yu’er was silent for a bit, then broke into a laugh: “It’s all right! I only fear dying too ordinary a death, now at last I have found a unique way! The number of people in this world who have suffocated to death must not be many.”

    Jiang Yulang disagreed, saying slowly, “It might not be many, but it’s also not a small number! The builders of this place, were also buried alive.”

    Xiao Yu’er winked at him: “Even at this point, you are still thinking of ways to upset me?”

    “You are far too calm and happy, I want to see how long your happiness can last,” snarled Jiang Yulang.

    “You really hate me that much?” Xiao Yu’er asked in surprise. “Hmph!” retorted Jiang Yulang.

    “You hate me, because I am better than you in every way, isn’t that right?” Xiao Yu’er said.

    Jiang Yulang said, “Perhaps you and I were born to be enemies!” When he said this, he had no idea how accurate his words were.

    The firelight had weakened still further. Xiao Yu’er saw it grow dim, and mumbled, “Wine! That d*mn wine, was wasted by that d*mn fool.” He glanced about. The smashed pieces of the wine jar were quickly drying out on the floor. The odd thing was, the spilled wine itself was not seeping into the earth.

    The ground was uneven, of course the wine would flow towards the lowest level. Xiao Yu’er suddenly jumped up, and spilled a tub of water on the floor. The water also followed the wine. He screamed wildly: “Wai, look…look!”

    Jiang Yulang mumbled, “What’s there to look at.”

    Xiao Yu’er said: “The water…it’s flowing…”

    “Of course water flows, and it flows downward,” Jiang Yulang said.

    Xiao Yu’er jabbed his finger at a corner of the cave, so excited that he could not speak properly. He stuttered, “Look. The water is flowing in that direction, yet it is not pooling in here.”

    He continued excitedly: “The water is not pooling here! That means it’s flowing outside, where there must be a hole. But we are already underground, how could there be another exit for water to flow outside?”

    He stopped talking and snatched up a broken piece of wine jar. He started digging at the corner as though his life depended on it. Jiang Yulang watched him in a daze, his hands shaking.

    It was getting even harder for the two of them to breathe. The weak light suddenly went out. They were surrounded by blackness, so complete that you could not see your fingers in front of your face. Jiang Yulang could not see what kind of progress Xiao Yu’er was making, he could only hear him panting for breath. He himself was also panting.

    Unexpectedly, there was a “ping” sound, as if a wooden board had split apart. Then Xiao Yu’er cried: “I’ve dug a hole…it’s empty out there!”

    His voice trembling, Jiang Yulang said, “You…you’re sure?”

    Xiao Yu’er ordered: “A flint, light a torch. In the name of heaven, don’t tell me you don’t have a flint.”

    But what use was a flint? Xiao Yu’er looked as though he would faint.

    However, the torch was lit. Xiao Yu’er’s body could not be seen, and in the cave there was suddenly a gaping hole.

    Gusts of a damp, stinking breeze was blowing out from the hole.

    Jiang Yulang felt his breathing relax and become more easy. He cried out in delight: “Jiang…young master Jiang, brother Jiang.”

    Xiao Yu’er’s voice echoed through the hole: “Quickly, get over here.” His voice sounded surprised and wildly happy. Jiang Yulang half rolled, half dived into the hole. Then, he stood there stunned.

    They stood in an octagonal room. The eight walls were constructed differently; one of steel, another of bronze, one was stone, and there was even a wall of solid gold.

    Thank heaven that the wall they had been facing was made of wood. Otherwise they would most likely have suffocated to death.

    In this octagonal room, there were no tables or cupboards. Because they were underground, there were also no spiderwebs. The air came from an unknown source.

    The room only contained a collection of knobs(?). Large and small, or different designs. Some were made of metal, others of stone, and of course, some were made of solid gold.

    Jiang Yulang could hardly catch his breath. He wailed: “Oh heaven! Heaven…what is this kind of place. You could kill me and I wouldn’t come in! And…”

    Xiao Yu’er had made several circuits around the room, and was still unsure of what to do next. Indeed, what kind of a place was this? And for what purpose were those knobs intended? He looked and looked, but could not figure out any special purpose. The knobs were lined up one after another, and who knows how much work it took to make them.

    Jiang Yulang moaned, “Have you figured it out yet? What kind of a place is this?”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed bitterly: “I think the only ones who know are ghosts now.”

    Jiang Yulang dashed over and wiped at a wall with his sleeve. After a while, he cried out: “Oh my, this wall really is made of gold.”

    Xiao Yu’er said, “That’s not too surprising. What’s strange is, this place is ventilated somehow. Unless the maker were crazy, there must be a purpose behind this.”

    “What purpose?” Jiang Yulang repeated.

    Heaving a long sigh, Xiao Yu’er said, “This purpose may be the biggest secret you and I have ever encountered.” With one hand he pressed down on a knob.

    Jiang Yulang said, “You’re going to move it?”

    “Could you bear not to?” Xiao Yu’er retorted. He winked at Jiang Yulang, joking: “Maybe this is the gateway to hell, if I twist this knob, I may release its demons.”

    Gritting his teeth, Jiang Yulang said, “What a good joke, this joke is very funny indeed.”

    Together they shivered, as with a “jee!” sound, the knob twisted. The stone wall suddenly turned and a door was revealed.

    Xiao Yu’er chuckled: “Look, the gateway to hell appears.” His chuckles sounded shrill and full of fear, and he knew it.

    Jiang Yulang returned to their cave and grabbed a lantern. Xiao Yu’er went ahead with the torch. As they advanced, gusts of a rotting stench floated towards them. Xiao Yu’er had never smelled such decay, and never wanted to again.

    Bravely, they continued on. Corpses, inside the doorway dead bodies lay everywhere! Jiang Yulang’s hands began to tremble and wouldn’t stop. The way they died, and the way they looked, this writer would rather not say. Besides, I don’t think I could properly express it, and neither could anyone else.

    On closer examination, these were skeletons covered in clothes. Xiao Yu’er trembled and sneezed- before him, a skeleton’s clothing had suddenly crumbled to dust.

    Xiao Yu’er felt a chill creep through his back. He said, “I’m afraid these people have been dead here for more than ten years.”

    Jiang Yulang stammered, “I think they…starved to death. Look at them, they must have gone crazy before they died, look at their hands.”

    Xiao Yu’er thought he would go crazy himself. He looked, and suddenly could not resist the urge to vomit. He threw up all the wine and meat he had eaten earlier.

    “I wonder what kind of people these were?” Jiang Yulang mused.

    Xiao Yu’er coughed up a final mouthful of spit before he panted: “It seems their clothing was quite rough and common, they must have been the construction workers.”

    Jiang Yulang sneered, “What a pack of idiots.” “Idiots?” Xiao Yu’er echoed.

    “If they weren’t idiots, why would they build such a secret place? They must have known that after they built it, their lives would be in danger.”

    Xiao Yu’er asked in disbelief, “You see these people and the horrible deaths they died, and you feel not one bit of pity?”

    “Who will pity me if I die?” Jiang Yulang retorted.

    Sighing, Xiao Yu’er said, “Wow, I’m really impressed. I have been raised and taught in a gathering place for the villains of this earth, and I can’t even compare to you. In fact I think I need to learn from you.”

    Jiang Yulang ignored him and said, “The strange thing is, Xiao…”

    Before he had finished speaking, footsteps sounded from above. They were very slow, yet heavy, as if carrying a huge load.

    The hairs shot up on Xiao Yu’er’s skin. Even if he were the bravest man alive, at this moment, he could not help being afraid.

    Jiang Yulang’s hands, of course, were shaking. He said, “This…this…” Although he was spiteful and vicious, his courage was lacking, and he was speechless with fear. With a “dong” sound, the lantern in his hand hit the floor. The footsteps came nearer and nearer.

    Xiao Yu’er felt his arms and legs weaken. His torch had also fallen to the ground. Everywhere was darkness, all this d*mned darkness.

    The heavy footsteps seemed to crush their courage. They wanted to escape, but could not lift their legs!

    Suddenly, an opening appeared from above, and a thread of yellow light shone through. The two of them held their breaths and did not dare to move.

    They saw a pair of feet. The feet were small and delicate, and were encased in a pair of embroidered shoes. Above the feet was a green dress. Above that no more could be seen.

    They stole a look at each other- almost unable to keep from crying out: “Xiao Mimi!”

    This was not a female ghost, but indeed was Xiao Mimi.

    They heard her mutter: “You can rest a bit here, this place is not bad, but a bit quiet…”

    A person fell down into the room. Who else was that monster trying to kill?

    With a chill, they realized this person was already a dead body. One by one, bodies were dropped in.

    Xiao Mimi continued speaking: “To be able to rest in such a luxurious grave, I don’t think you could have any complaints. Farewell, all of you…I will think of you sometimes.”

    With a “peng” sound, the opening closed, and once again all was blackness.

    Jiang Yulang and Xiao Yu’er stayed motionless for a long time, before they relaxed and took a deep breath. Xiao Yu’er suddenly laughed out loud: “Jiang Yulang, these bodies belong to the people you killed. Aren’t you afraid they’ll seek revenge?”

    Jiang Yulang shot back: “I never feared them when they were alive, why would I start now!”

    Xiao Yu’er felt around and found the flint and torch by his feet. He struck up a light. Jiang Yulang’s face hardly seemed human. Xiao Yu’er giggled: “If you’re not afraid, why does your face look so funny?”

    Jiang Yulang snatched up the lantern and dashed back into the cave. Xiao Yu’er hurriedly followed, he did not want Jiang Yulang to seal him inside the octagonal room.

    What Xiao Mimi had labeled as a “luxurious” place, Jiang Yulang could not tolerate. He stood off to one side and began to vomit. Mouthful after mouthful.

    Xiao Yu’er reflected: “I suspected from the beginning that this place was not made by Xiao Mimi. Women, how could their designs be so grand…now we know that my suspicions were correct.”

    Jiang Yulang could only say, “Hmph.”

    Xiao Yu’er went on, “By some odd chance, she stumbled onto this place. But upon seeing all the dead bodies, she did not dare to explore further. She did not know that she had only discovered a part of this underground palace. It could have been the worst part, in fact. The best part may be yet to come.”

    He sighed, then added: “But then who did construct this place? Who could have been this ambitious?”

    Laughing coldly, Jiang Yulang sneered, “At the very least, it wouldn’t be you.”

    Xiao Yu’er made a face at him, and said: “Don’t forget, my martial arts are better than yours, I could kill you at any time.”

    Jiang Yulang sprang backwards a step. His expression changed. “You…you…”

    Xiao Yu’er laughed merrily, teasing: “But you don’t need to get quite so worried, I just want you to have some manners when speaking.”

    Jiang Yulang stared at him for a while. With his head lowered, he said, “I’m young and I don’t know anything. If I have offended you, please forgive me, I…in my heart, I see you as my older brother.”

    Laughing, Xiao Yu’er said, “Fortunately you aren’t really my younger brother.”

    Carrying the torch, he made another circuit around the octagonal room. With one hand, he touched here and knocked about there, his eyes darting back and forth. He said, “Of these eight walls, only one is made of earth. Seven left, and two are stone and wood. That leaves gold, silver, bronze, steel, and tin.”

    Jiang Yulang commented, “To use eight different kinds of material to construct eight walls, there must be some kind of meaning.”

    “Precisely,” Xiao Yu’er agreed. “And what kind of meaning would that be?”

    Smiling, Jiang Yulang said, “I’m sure I don’t know, that’s why I’m deferring to you, big brother.”

    Xiao Yu’er looked at him for a while. Slowly he said, “Listen to me, I want to tell you two things.”

    “Your wish is my command.”

    With a fixed stare, Xiao Yu’er declared: “First, never call me big brother again. I find it disturbing.”

    Surprised, Jiang Yulang lowered his head, and said, “Yes.”

    “Second,” Xiao Yu’er continued, “you will never again play dumb in front of me. I know you are an intelligent person, very clever, there’s no point in pretending to be stupid.”

    “Yes.” Jiang Yulang obediently nodded.

    With a smile, Xiao Yu’er spoke again, “Now, what were you saying about the maker’s intent?”

    Jiang Yulang said falteringly: “I’m not sure if my guess is right…in making these walls, one reason would be to signify that there is something different behind each wall.”

    “Not bad,” Xiao Yu’er said. “And another reason?”

    “Another reason,” Jiang Yulang added, “would be related to the knobs. The stone knob was made to control the stone wall. Therefore the golden knob must control the gold wall.”

    “Excellent,” Xiao Yu’er smiled. “Go on.”

    Jiang Yulang continued: “The wall of wood was where we came from, so there’s nothing special behind it. Behind the stone wall was a mass grave, we don’t need to go there again. As for the earthen wall, it seems to be solid, so probably there’s nothing of interest there. The only remaining choices are the walls made of gold, silver, bronze, steel and tin.”

    “Just so,” agreed Xiao Yu’er. “There must be something interesting behind these five walls.” He winked and added, “Here, you choose, which wall shall we explore first?”

    “Gold,” Jiang Yulang replied at once.

    “Very good,” Xiao Yu’er approved. “This time you were honest. I also wanted to try to the gold wall first. Who wouldn’t?”

    He reached towards the gold knob.

    End of Chapter 31

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