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Thread: RoCH Chap 33 Onwards

  1. #181
    Senior Member IcyFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jin_yong_fan
    i think i jus lost this race since i havnt worked at it at all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I lost too... I'm only about 50% done with Chapter 37.



    Quote Originally Posted by Bangs
    Chapter 36 is done zomg! Thank you foxy-s! Can't wait to see if YG will make another flashy entrance. LOL!
    He will. And he's going to make GF mad. Heh heh.

  2. #182
    Senior Member IcyFox's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 36

    OK, so now Chapter 36 is finished. Here it is, thanks to Fox-s.


    CHAPTER 36 - THE BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION

    Translated By Foxs.


    The following day was the opening of the Heroes’ Summit, which continued for the next several days. Among other things, they discussed plans on how to unite valiant and patriotic men and women across the country, plans on how to disrupt Mongolians troop swift movement, and plans on how to reinforce Xiang Yang’s defense. The Summit was concluded on the twenty-fourth of the tenth month, with a very satisfactory result. Just before the closing ceremony, everybody agreed to have the Beggar Clan Chief election around noon that very same day. And so it was, right after lunch everybody marched toward the field used for military exercise located south of Xiang Yang. Among so many people, Guo Fu was most nervous … she was anxious if her husband could attain the Beggar Clan Chief position.

    Upon arrival, they all saw a huge stage located right in the middle of the field. On and around the stage nothing was set, not a single chair. This was because according to the Beggar Clan rules and regulations, no beggar was allowed to sit on a chair. Toward the east of the stage there were hundreds of chairs prepared for ‘outsiders’.

    Before one o’clock there were more than two thousand Clan disciples sitting around the stage. They were higher level members of the Clan. The lowest grade was the fourth. According to the Clan bylaws, these two thousand some members were under the directions of four elders.

    There were originally four Elders of the Beggar Clan, namely Elder Lu, Elder Kan, Elder Liang and Elder Peng. Lu You Jiao was promoted to be the Clan Leader, but was killed by Hou Dou. Elder Peng had become a traitor and was killed by Monk Ci’En. Elder Kan was very old and not in a good health condition, he was semi-retired. Therefore, Elder Liang held the highest position in the Clan; and he had three eighth grade disciples as the new appointed Elders assisting him.

    As was mentioned earlier, the beggars all sat on the ground around the stage. Thousands of valiant men and women from the Heroes’ Summit sat on the chairs to the east, while Yelu Qi, Guo Fu, and the other younger generations sat toward the back.

    Guo Po Lu watched this magnificent setting with awe. He whispered to Guo Fu, “Second Sister is so weird. Why doesn’t she come and join this meeting?”

    “What’s inside her mind, nobody could guess,” Guo Fu only snickered.

    Not too long, an eighth grade disciple blew a giant shell horn, “whooo … whooo … whooooo …!” It was the signal that the appointed time has come (it was between one and three in the afternoon).

    While the sound of the horn was fading away, Huang Rong leaped on stage and bowed to all directions. She then began her oration with a loud and clear voice. “Today is a big meeting day of our clan. On behalf of the Beggar Clan, I would like to extend our gratitude and respect to all Seniors and Heroes who have made an effort to join us here.” She then bowed one more time, and the guests reciprocated.

    “Our beloved leader, the late Chief Lu, was a wise and patriotic man, who had devoted his life for the clan and our nation,” Huang Rong continued. “Unfortunately, he was cowardly attacked and killed by that scoundrel Hou Dou at the Yang Tai Fu Temple over the hill yonder. This is an un-avenged deep resentment, not mentioning great disgrace to our Clan …”

    These words created loud response from the Beggars’ Clan members. They remembered Lu You Jiao’s benevolent heart, his impartiality and his patriotism. They were really saddened with his death. Some were sobbing loudly, while the others cursed Hou Dou uncontrollably.

    After the commotion subsided, Huang Rong continued, “By keeping in mind that the Mongols might attack any moment, we have made a decision not to put our Clan’s need above our country’s. Therefore, we will hold the thought of revenge until a more appropriate time, and we will discuss this matter at length after we defeat the enemies.”

    This statement was met by unanimous approval of the beggars.

    “With Chief Lu’s untimely death came another more pressing matter,” Huang Rong said, “our Clan members number in the tens of thousands, scattered across the country. They cannot be left leaderless. Therefore, we have to elect a new Clan Chief, even today. We need someone wise and benevolent, who knows martial arts as well as literature. Someone who has the respect and love of our entire clan. On how we are going to elect such leader, I will let Elder Liang give us further instructions.”

    In another moment Elder Liang had already stood on stage. His hairs were white, but his body still erect and his movement fluid. This Elder was welcomed with loud cheering and applause from the audience.

    Applause subsided, Elder Liang said, “Former Chief Huang is exceptionally intelligent. What she just said could not be incorrect. She was just being modest by asking four elders plus eight eighth grade members to decide on how to elect the new chief. What ability do we – twelve smelly beggars, in such important matter?”

    Elder Liang paused for a few seconds. The field was quiet. Everybody was straining their ears to hear what this Elder had to say.

    After sending his penetrating gaze across the field Elder Liang continued, “In our humble opinion, even though the beggars are good for nothing, but since we have a great number of members scattered throughout the country – as Former Chief Huang has mentioned, we cannot afford to be without a leader. A leader wise and benevolent, highly skilled in martial arts and literature. We believe with all of our hearts, that leaders like Former Chief Hong Qi Gong and Former Chief Huang are one in a million. Leader like Late Chief Lu, who was loved by all of us, is also not easy to duplicate.

    Therefore, after a long and careful deliberation, we came to conclusion that the best course to take is to ask Former Chief Huang to get her feet wet again and lead our Clan. If she refuses, then we’ll have to ask and ask again and again.

    Unfortunate for us, we have a bigger problem threatening our country. The Mongolian troops are attacking Xiang Yang, and as a devoted wife, as well as a patriot, Former Chief Huang has to stand by Chivalrous Hero Guo (Guo Da Xia) in defeating the enemy and defending our country. This is a formidable task to bear.

    Thus, if we bother Former Chief Huang with all the nitty-gritty business of the Beggar Clan, the people across the nation will curse us as scoundrels. And so, after another careful consideration, we have made our final decision: Elect a new Chief.”

    Elder Liang’s oration was received by nods across the field, everybody agreed that it was not proper to put a clan’s needs above the country’s.

    After another pause, Elder Liang resumed, “As of now, internal to our clan, we do not have someone capable of bearing the burden, while Former Chief Huang herself could not divide her attention for us. The only way we could think was inviting someone outside our Clan to lead us. This special provision has happened before at the Mount Jun summit, when we elect Former Chief Huang as our new Chief. As you all aware, Former Chief Huang was not a member of our Clan.

    To be frank with you, I was not alone in voicing our discontentment that resulted in a battle. But the outcome? Ha .. ha ..! Needless to say, we were beaten and could not help but subdued by her. Very fortunate for us, ever since Former Chief Huang took the lead, our Beggars Clan has developed to be a great Clan like you all see today.

    I remember – I can still see it clear as day – how at the Mount Jun Summit Former Chief Huang was still in her teens. By using a mere stick she has beaten us four Elders to submission. Ha! Now THAT was what I call a hero!” [the word ‘hero’ here is Ying Xiong – valiant person, not Xia of Da Xia]

    Listening to him, everybody’s eyes turned to Huang Rong involuntarily. There were a number among the beggars who attended the Mount Jun Summit. Their heart beating faster, as they saw it in their mind what happened there when they were still very young.

    “In today’s meeting we have the valiant people of the Jianghu world in attendance,” Elder Liang continued, “Any one of the valiant people deserves to be our leader. However, with so many valiant people around, we do not know how to pick one. Therefore, after careful consideration, we – twelve smelly beggars, decided on an election method less than perfect. That method is this: We would like the heroes to show their skills on this stage. Who’s strong and who’s weak, it will be evident to all.

    But I want to stress one very important point. In today’s match, as soon as somebody is touched by the opponent, the match has to stop. If anybody is heavily injured or even die here, we cannot bear the heavy responsibility. If any of you has any grudge against anybody else, we would ask that you do not try to solve the grudge on this stage. If you ignore this warning, then our Clan does not have any choice but will act accordingly.”

    Having said this, he again sent his piercing gaze across the field. Elder Liang thought it was necessary to issue this warning, because if blood were involved in the election process, and the valiant people fight among each others, then Guo Jing and Huang Rong’s effort to unite the country would be in vain. Elder Liang implied that whoever took any advantage to commit murder would be attacked by all the Beggars Clan’s members.

    Elder Liang had waited quiet some time on the stage, yet nobody showed up. The seniors, like clan or sect leaders, and those who had quite a reputation in the Jianghu world, obviously did not want to fight over the Chief position. Only those forty years and younger were excited and wanted to try. But since there were so many other valiant people around, plus they had to win over the hearts of tens of thousands beggars, nobody was bold enough to step out.

    After waiting some more time and still no takers, Elder Liang shouted, “Except some Seniors and Heroes who had already live in seclusion, I can safely say that all valiant people under the sky is gathered here. Whoever is willing to honor our Clan is welcome to show us a lesson or two. Our own Beggar Clan disciples who think they have some ability are also welcome to step out.”

    After repeating his invitation several times there came a loud shout, “I am coming!” A shadow was seen jumping on to the stage. The audience was shocked. This man was huge, like a giant; that the stage was swaying a little bit when he landed his feet.

    Without showing any respect he put his hands on his waist and said with a loud voice, “I am the Thousand-Jin-Giant [not sure ...] Tang Da Hay. I don’t want to be Chief. Who wants to fight, let’s come.”

    Everybody laughed. They thought they would enjoy a funny show from this silly giant.

    “Brother Tang,” said Elder Liang, smiling, “This stage is not a boxing ring. If Brother does not wish to become our Chief, then I would ask that you leave.”

    “Bulls**t!” he snapped. “What do you mean not a boxing ring? If you don’t want to fight, why did you invite people up here?” Before Elder Liang had a chance to respond, he hastily said, “All right. Why don’t you fight me?” Having said this he immediately thrust his fist toward Elder Liang’s face.

    Elder Liang leaped back, still smiling, “Brother Tang, I am an old man. How could I face your humongous fist?”

    The giant laughed heartily. With a delighted face he said, “You go away …” but before he could finish his sentence, a shadow flashed by, and on that stage stood a beggar with raggedy clothes.

    That beggar was around thirty years of age and had six bags on his back. He was one of Elder Liang’s own grand martial disciples. He was also a rash man that he could not hold himself seeing Tang Da Hay being disrespectful toward his Grand Martial Master. “Brother Tang, you are not worthy to fight my Grand Martial Master,” he said, “Let me fight you.”

    “Good!” the giant shouted, and without asking the beggar’s name, he thrust his fist forward.

    The beggar turned his back and “smack!” That fist hit something soft and slippery.

    “What’s inside your bag?” Tang Da Hay was surprised.

    The beggar snickered. “What’s a beggar’s usual catch?” he asked in response.

    Tang Da Hay was shocked. “Snake …!” he cried.

    “Yes, it’s a snake!” the beggar answered.

    Tang Da Hay was furious. He sent another fist toward the beggar’s face. But he beggar was quick. In a flash he leaped high into the air and made a somersault and again turned his back toward the giant.

    The giant was afraid the snake would bite him; he pulled his fist back and sent a kick instead. The beggar knew the giant was scared and he wanted to have some fun. While rolling himself on the stage, he quickly took his backpack and placed it on his calf. Actually the snake inside his bag was already tamed, and it has no venomous teeth any longer, but Tang Da Hay did not know this. He was getting anxious since his attacks did not give him any desirable result. Suddenly the beggar’s right hand grabbed his chest. “I, Zhu Xi [again, not sure ...] lift high the Thousand-Jin-Giant,” he said, lifted the giant’s body high in the air.

    Because the accupoint on his chest was sealed, Tang Da Hay was helpless; while the audience burst into laughter.

    “Let him go! Don’t be rude!” barked Elder Liang, but he could not help laughing too.

    “All right,” the beggar complied. He let the giant go, and jumping down the stage, he vanished among the crowd.

    Tang Da Hay’s face was flushed with anger; he was embarrassed and angry at the same time. “Rascal!” he cursed, “Come! Let’s fight again with weapons. Why do you run away? Smelly Beggar!” The beggars just laughed, nobody paid him any attention.

    Suddenly, a shadow leaped in, and when his left hand reached the stage, he staggered like he was going to fall down the stage.

    Tang Da Hay was reckless, but not wicked. He shouted, “Watch out!” and immediately moved forward to hold the man. Turned out that man was only pretending. He wanted to show off in front of all the valiant people. He quickly grabbed the giant’s hand, and pushed. Tang Da Hay’s body was thrown to the ground. The audience looked at that handsome young man, who was none other than Wu Xiu Wen, Guo Jing’s disciple.

    Guo Jing – who sat on the front row, was irritated with Wu Xiu Wen’s behavior; his countenance change. And he was not alone. But before he could do anything, three men had jumped on stage.

    At that time, Wu Xiu Wen could be regarded as a first class fighter among the younger generation. Not only had he received tutelage from Guo Jing and Huang Rong, but also from his own father and martial uncles. Seeing three men on stage, he was delighted. “Let me beat them once and for all,” he thought.

    He didn’t want those three to take turn fighting him, so, without further ado he attacked all three of them. Those three had just landed their feet on the stage, and were attacked before they could get a firm footing. No wonder they wavered and could not defend themselves. Xiu Wen didn’t give them any chance. Quick as a flash his fists flew around that those three felt like they were under a heavy rain of fists. They tried to retaliate, but ended up hitting each other. The audience was surprised and impressed. “Guo Da Xia is really a hero with no equal,” they thought, “his disciple is so fierce.”

    Those three counter-attacked again and again, but still could not get out from under Wu Xiu Wen’s fists.

    Wanyan Ping saw her husband had an upper hand and could not help but feel so proud.

    “Of course those three dummies are not Brother Xiu Wen’s match,” said Guo Fu. “But why did he go on stage and waste his energy for nothing? When someone with a really high skill show up later, wouldn’t it be difficult for him to beat?”

    Wanyan Ping was gentle by nature; she only smiled and ignored Guo Fu. Yelu Yan, on the other hand, was more straightforward. She was the sister of Yelu Qi, thus the sister-in-law of Guo Fu. But hearing Guo Fu’s remark – which she understood very well what it meant, she could not hold her peace any longer. “This situation actually fits you very well,” she snickered. “Young Wu beats several people, and when somebody beats him, Dun Ru will go next and beat some more. And finally my brother will go and wipe the rest of the competitors. Then Sister-in-law can be Mrs. Clan Chief with just a walk in the park.”

    Guo Fu blushed. “There are so many valiant people here, and they all want to be Clan Chief,” she said with embarrassment in her voice, “how could you say ‘walk in the park’?”

    “Actually, my brother does not even have to go on stage,” Yelu Yan continued.

    “Why so?” Guo Fu was curious.

    “Didn’t you hear Elder Liang?” her sister-in-law asked. “When the Beggar Clan Mount Jun Summit was held, Mistress was only in her teens. Wielding only a bamboo stick she subdued everybody and became the Clan leader. They say ‘the apple fell not far from the three’; Sister-in-law! I think you’d better go on stage. I believe you have a better chance than my brother to be the Beggar Clan Chief.”

    “Good! Such a sharp tongue! You dare to mock me!” Guo Fu shouted, attacking her sister-in-law’s armpit. Yelu Yan leaped backward. “Clan Chief! Help!” she called out, laughing hard. “Mrs. Clan Chief wants to kill me!”

    That time Guo Fu, Xiu Wen and Dun Ru were already over thirty years of age, while Yelu Yan and Wanyan Ping had born children. But they still like to goof around like kids.

    In the meantime, Huang Rong – who sat next to Guo Jing, was always alert. She kept looking around the field, to see if any stranger sneaked in. She had instructed several Beggar Clan disciples to guard around the area and report to her immediately if they saw anything out of ordinary. She was still worried that Priestess Shen Ying, Han Wu Gou and the others would show up and create a disruption.

    A few hours had passed, everything was still under control. “Why would those weirdo gathered in Xiang Yang?” she asked herself. “Something should have been happening by now. It’s beyond me that they would come over just to wish Xiang Er a happy birthday.” She lowered her head and sighed. Her intelligence could not penetrate this mystery.

    Another time she lifted her head and watched the match on the stage. Xiu Wen had defeated two competitors, and looked like the third would not hold him much longer. “Today the valiant people of the world are competing for the Clan Chief position,” she thought, “I wonder who would hold this prestige position?”

    Of course the same question had been hovering on everybody’s mind around. Except … in the flower garden behind the Guo’s Family Mansion, there was somebody who did not show the slightest interest on what has been happening on the field. She sat alone daydreaming, questions in her heart, “That day I have given him one golden needle and specifically asked him to see me today. Today is my sixteenth birthday. That day, he gave me his promise. But why doesn’t he show up yet?”

    She was sitting on a porch, leaning against a doorpost. The sun slowly crept to the west. “It’s already afternoon. Even if he comes, we will meet for only half a day at most,” she said softly to herself.

    She looked at the flowerbeds, while her little fingers held the last golden needle. She sighed and with an almost inaudible voice said again, “I can ask him one last favor … ah … ! I think he has already forgotten me. He didn’t even remember his promise today. What other favor I could ask?” Another moment she had another thought, “It’s impossible. He wouldn’t forget his promise. He is a chivalrous hero (Da Xia) of the world, and he must always keep his words. Just wait … he’ll be here.” With this thought, her face turned pink and the fingers that hold the golden needle were shaking a little bit.

    She sighed again. One thought kept coming back. “Even though he is a chivalrous hero, and he always keep his words, but I am only a young girl,” she thought, heart beating faster. “If he made a promise to Father, he will not fail his words. But to me? I am only Young Eastern Heretic (Xiao Dong Xia) Guo Xiang. What am I worth in his eyes? Only a young girl! It’s very possible that when he remembered his promise, he would only laugh and said: Ah! Don’t bother!”

    While Guo Xiang was busy thinking in that flower garden, Huang Rong on the field could not keep her second daughter off her mind. “According to Brother Jing, there were only two persons in this whole wide world who had the internal energy high enough to help Fu Er and Xiang Er back at the Yang Tai Fu temple,” she thought. “If not Benevolent Master Hong Qi Gong, then it must be Brother Jing himself. The fact is, Benevolent Master had passed away, and Brother Jing didn’t do it. Who could it be who invited Priestess Shen Ying and the other to wish Xiang Er a happy birthday? Old Urchin Zhou Bo Tong loves to fool around, but even he could not make this meticulous plan. Reverend Yi Deng? Impossible. He is a priest. Western Poison Ouyang Feng and Monk Ci En Qiu Qian Ren both have passed away. Could it be … Father?”

    Huang Rong had not seen her father for more than ten years. He had wandered everywhere and did not have certain address. She thought the peculiarity of this mystery went well with her father’s character. For a long time the name Huang Yu Shi had been well known in the jianghu world, and people called him the Eastern Heretic. His peculiar way of thinking went very well with those weird people. So if the Eastern Heretic asked, they would certainly oblige.

    Having this thought, Huang Rong’s heart beat faster and her countenance brightened. True, it was not appropriate for a grandfather to make jokes with his granddaughter. But Huang Yu Shi did not follow the ‘appropriateness’ – the custom and regulations of the days. He was like a heavenly dragon that was out of this world. Huang Rong was his own daughter, but even she could not predict what he would do. Could it be that this grandfather had invited guests to congratulate his granddaughter?

    She hold her train of thought and called Guo Fu. “When she returned from those two days of missing at Fenglingdu, did she mention Grandfather’s name?” “No. Sister has never even met Grandfather.”

    “Think hard,” urged her mother. “Did your sister ever mention anybody’s name?”

    “No,” she answered, shaking her head.

    Of course Guo Fu knew that her sister went to see Yang Guo. It was OK with her mother, but if her father ever heard that name, he would turn sour and wouldn’t talk to her for two-three days. Therefore, while Guo Xiang herself didn’t mention Yang Guo, Guo Fu certainly was not willing to seek for trouble.
    Huang Rong saw her daughter’s countenance changed and she knew Guo Fu was hiding something from her. “This is not a simple matter,” she said. “If you knew anything, you’d better tell me.”

    Guo Fu did not dare to hold anymore. “That day we heard people were talking about the Condor Hero, which is Yang … Guo, Yang Guo,” she said. “After listening to their story, Sister insisted she wanted to see him.”

    Huang Rong was startled. “Did Xiang Er meet him?” she asked.

    “Of course not,” came the answer. “If she did, she wouldn’t stop bragging about it.”

    “Guo Er … Guo Er …” mumbled Huang Rong softly. “Is it him?” She turned to her daughter and continued, “Fu Er, what do you think? Was it Guo Er who killed Ni Mo Xing at the Yang Tai Fu Temple? Tell me all, don’t skip anything.”

    Guo Fu then told her how her little sister didn’t want to attend the Heroes Summit, didn’t want to see the Beggar Clan Chief election, and how she told her that a very handsome hero would visit her on her birthday. Finally, she laughed and said, “Her friends did indeed come to visit. But they are Monks, Nuns, grandpas and grandmas. Where is that handsome hero?”

    Now Huang Rong was convinced that the handsome hero could not be anybody else but Yang Guo. She thought Guo Xiang and Yang Guo had made an appointment to meet at the Yang Tai Fu Temple, but that plan was foiled by Guo Fu. Then, to vent his anger Yang Guo had invited several Jianghu characters to wish Guo Xiang a happy birthday. “But … why would he spend so much time and energy just for a kid like Xiang Er?” she asked herself. Suddenly she remembered Guo Xiang’s extraordinary behavior. She remembered how Guo Xiang liked to daydream, talked to herself, and her countenance turned pink for no reason. Huang Rong shuddered involuntarily.

    Her heart pounding, she thought, “We are doomed! Yang Guo hates me because I caused his father’s death; he hates Fu Er who chopped his arm, he hates Fu Er even more for striking Xiao Long Nuu with a poisonous needle. Xiao Long Nuu had promised to meet him sixteen years later, and now it is sixteen years already. Aiyo! Yang Guo came to exact his revenge.” She suspected Yang Guo had lured Guo Xiang to be his target.

    Cold sweats trickled down her spine and Huang Rong – who was the epitome of intelligence of her time, could not do anything but sat there stupefied. “But … something is not right,” her brain clicked again. “Today is Xiang Er’s sixteenth birthday. It was several months after Xiang Er was born that he parted with Xiao Long Nuu in the Passionless Valley. If he wanted to exact revenge, he would’ve waited for a full sixteen years, just like his wife had promised him …” The longer she thought, the more muddled her mind became. “Ah! Whatever happened, Xiang Er should not be allowed to see him,” she thought. “Xiang Er is just a kid, she is too naïve for man’s wickedness.”

    Suddenly an “ouch!” was heard from the stage. Huang Rong turned her gaze there, and she saw Xiu Wen had defeated another opponent. She approached her husband and whispered, “You wait here. I am going to see Xiang Er.”

    “Isn’t Xiang Er here?” asked her husband.

    “I will take her here,” she answered. “That kid is kind of weird.”

    Guo Jing looked at his wife with smile on his face. Wasn’t his wife also a weird kid? He remembered the very first time they met, where Huang Rong dressed like a beggar boy.

    Seeing his smile, Huang Rong also smiled, and briskly walked back to her mansion. As upset as she was, seeing her husband’s smile and his broad shoulders – like he was strong enough to carry the burden of the whole world, Huang Rong suddenly felt better.

    Arriving at Guo Xiang’s room, she did not find her daughter there; and was told by a maid that the Second Miss went to the flower garden.

    Huang Rong was shocked. “Xiang Er did not want to see the election, I am sure she had made another appointment with Yang Guo,” she thought. She then turned her steps toward her own room, to get her own projectiles, a dagger, and a short stick. Only then did she go to the flower garden. She understood very well that Yang Guo now wouldn’t be the same as Yang Guo then. He was already a formidable opponent then and she would not dare to be careless. She did not take the brick-covered path, but walked stealthily around the decorative stones and rocks scattered throughout the garden. Several meters from the porch she could already heard her daughter’s sigh.

    She went closer still and hid herself behind a big rock. A moment later she heard her daughter’s voice, “Why isn’t he here yet?”

    Huang Rong was relieved. “Turns out he is not here yet. I can still prevent them from meeting,” she thought.

    “Every birthday Mother always tell me to make three wishes,” she heard Guo Xiang was talking to herself. “Good thing there is nobody around; I can talk to the Heaven.”

    Huang Rong was about to step out, but hearing her last sentence she retreated to her hiding place. “Even though her mother, I can’t predict what is in her heart,” she thought, “let me hear what she has to say.”

    A moment later Guo Xiang was heard, “God of Heaven, my first wish is so that Father and Mother will defeat the invaders; that the people of Xiang Yang will live in peace and prosperity.”

    Huang Rong exhaled softly. “Even though I call her weird, this kid has a benevolent heart,” she praised her in her heart.

    “My second wish is that Father and Mother are granted good health and longevity, that they may live to a hundred years,” the young miss continued. “I wish that everything will happen just like they had wished.”

    Guo Xiang was born to her parents when they were facing a great danger. Huang Rong’s heart was always pounding every time she recalled that incident. Thus, without she realized it, her love toward Guo Xiang was not as much as toward Guo Fu. But now, hearing the little girl’s wish, she was really touched and tears welled up her eyes.

    The young miss paused a moment before she continued, “My third wish is for the Condor Hero Yang Guo …”

    Huang Rong was startled. She had thought that the third wish must’ve had something to do with Yang Guo, but hearing his name, she was still startled. “ … that he might meet his wife, Xiao Long Nuu, a lot sooner, and let them live happily ever after,” finished Guo Xiang.

    This third wish had blown Huang Rong away. She originally thought Yang Guo had deceived her daughter with all kind of lies. Who would have known that her daughter knew everything about his marriage with Xiao Long Nuu and what had happened to them afterward. But a moment later another thought entered her mind and she became worried again. “Damn it, Yang Guo is so shrewd!” she moaned. “By showing her that he had never forgotten his wife, he had earned Xiang Er’s highest respect. Right! If after meeting me Brother Jing had ignored Princess Hua Zheng, I would’ve looked down on him.”

    And so, because of her own intelligence and shrewdness, Huang Rong had many-many thoughts coming in and out of her mind, which drove her crazy.

    Suddenly an unusual noise was heard above the wall, followed by someone jumping down to the ground. His body was short and small, but his head big. His figure, as well as his face looked very strange.

    But Guo Xiang leaped with joy upon seeing this dwarf. “Big Headed Ghost!” she greeted him with delight, “Is … is he coming?”

    That man indeed was the Big Headed Ghost. He walked to the porch and did obeisance to Guo Xiang. “Ooh!” cried the young Miss, “Uncle Big Headed Ghost, don’t you honor me like that.”

    “Miss, don’t call me ‘Uncle Big Headed Ghost’,” he said, “just call me ‘Big Headed Ghost’. The Condor Hero had instructed me to let Miss know …”

    “He isn’t able to come?” cut Guo Xiang, desperation in her voice, while tears welled up in her eyes, “He gave me his promise …”

    “No, not at all,” answered the dwarf.

    “Why not?” asked Guo Xiang. “Didn’t you know, he did give his promise to me?”

    “Miss, I did not say that the Condor Hero did not give you his promise,” explained the Ghost. “I was just saying that it’s not that the Condor Hero didn’t want to come over here.”

    Guo Xiang’s frustration was just blown away by the wind. She smiled sweetly and said, “You are silly. Why didn’t you say it clearly? Not this, not that …”

    The Big Headed Ghost smiled and explained, “The Condor Hero said that since he had to prepare three gifts for your birthday, he will be a little bit late.”

    Guo Xiang was ecstatic. “Ah! Why did he bother so much?” she asked, all smiles. “I have received lots of gifts and lacking nothing. Tell Big Brother I don’t want him to bother me with any other gift.”

    The Big Headed Ghost shook his head. “Among those three gifts, the first one is ready; while the second one has to be prepared by him personally, leading some of our friends. It is very possible that it is ready as we speak.” Guo Xiang sighed. “Actually, I prefer not to receive any gift, as long as he come over quickly,” she said softly.

    “About the third gift, the Condor Hero said that Miss needs to go to the field where the election is being held. You need to receive the gift straight from his hand,” the Big Headed Ghost continued. “Now that it’s almost time, I think you’d better go.”

    Guo Xiang sighed again, laughing she said, “I have told Big Sister I don’t want to see the Chief Election. But since Big Brother told me, I have no choice. Very well. Let’s go together.”

    The dwarf nodded his big head and then he whistled. Suddenly from outside jumped a big bird, none other than the Divine Condor itself. As soon as Guo Xiang saw it, she immediately came over and tried to hug its neck. But the condor leaped back and stood erect arrogantly. The little miss was amused, she laughed, “Brother Condor is so proud. You are ignoring me, but I want to hug you.” She jumped and tried to hug. This time the Condor did not avoid her and let its neck be hugged tightly. “Brother Condor,” Guo Xiang said, “Let us go together. I will give you some delicious food. Do you like to drink wine?”

    The Big Headed Ghost clapped his hands. “Good! The Divine Condor loves to drink wine,” he said.

    “Wait here,” the little miss said, walking toward the kitchen. Not too long she came back with a jug of wine in her hands.

    The Big Headed Ghost opened up the jug and a fragrant wine aroma tickled the nose. He lifted up the jug, and drank a couple of mouthfuls. He repeatedly praised the wine. Then he put the jug near the Condor.

    With its strong beak, it created a hole on the jug, and then the Condor sucked up the wine in just a few sips.

    “Ah, this brat needs to get some spanks!” Huang Rong said in her heart, “that wine is my Nine Flower Reveal Jade [Noodles translation] wine, and she fed it to the winged beast!” That wine was indeed brewed according to Huang Yu Shi’s recipe. It was difficult to brew; not only it used expensive ingredients, but also needed morning dews and was aged for quite some time. It was served only to their closest of friends.

    “Brother Condor is a good drinker,” Guo Xiang laughed, “let us go now.” Then they ran toward the field. The Condor impressed the people at the field with its big body and ugly face.

    Guo Xiang asked The Big Headed Ghost and the condor to sit on the ground not too far from the stage. The Beggar Clan disciples who acted as the hosts immediately came and asked The Big Headed Ghost’s name.

    “I don’t have no name and I know nothing! Miss Guo took me here, I follow her!” he answered coldly.

    At that time both Wu brothers, Dun Ru and Xiu Wen, had been beaten. Zhu Zi Liu’s martial nephew, as well as three of Si Shui Yu Yin’s (the Fisherman) disciples, four eighth grade and six seventh grade Beggar Clan’s disciples, had gone on stage, defeat and be defeated by their opponents. Right now Yelu Qi was seen on stage, using Zhou Bo Tong’s Vacant Fist [Noodles translation] technique, fighting a forty something years old Lan Tian He, from the Miauw tribe of western China.

    When he was young, Tian He went gathering herbs on the Mount Zheng Xia. There he slipped and fell down a ravine, and was rescued by a skilled martial artist. He then learned from his rescuer the external type of martial arts [wai-gong, as opposed to nei-gong]; therefore, his fists created a loud noise. Yelu Qi’s kungfu on the other hand, did not create any noise at all. Their match was really impressive.

    Both opponents had exchanged stances for quite some time. Lan Tian He became nervous, since this is the very first time that someone was able to match him for more than thirty stances; as a matter of fact, they have exchanged close to fifty stances. Lan Tian He felt he was getting tired. Yelu Qi, on the other hand, kept his attacks steady, not getting fierce, but also not slacking off. He knew there were more tough contenders out there. He wanted to conserve his energy.

    “Got you!” Tian He shouted. He used one of his trick stance, [Nine Demons Seize a Star]. He was delighted to see Yelu Qi’s chest was opened wide, and he was delighted his fist was right on target.

    The audience was shocked. They thought Yelu Qi would die, or at least would be heavily injured. They recalled Elder Liang’s warning, plus Yelu Qi was the Guo couple’s son-in-law.

    But the end result was beyond everybody’s expectation. As soon as his fist hit Yelu Qi’s chest, Lan Tian He’s face was paled. He staggered two steps backward. He then bowed to his opponent and said, “I give up!” He proceeded to the edge of the stage and loudly said, “Mr. Yelu has a benevolent heart, he didn’t want to take my life, for which I am very grateful!” And then he leaped down the stage.

    Everybody was surprised. They saw Yelu Qi was smiling, very composed, like nothing had happened to him. They didn’t know that when Tian He’s fist hit the target, he felt like his fist was hitting an empty space. He felt his energy was sucked in and he felt his fist hot. He then remembered his master’s instruction, that his kungfu of Wind and Thunder could be used against anybody, but he had to be very careful fighting against a nei-gong martial artist. He had not met any match for over thirty years, that he almost forgot his master’s word. Now that Yelu Qi had beaten and spared him, he knew his own limitation and admitted defeat willingly.

    As Guo Jing and Huang Rong’s son-in-law, Yelu Qi had a close tie with the Beggar Clan. The four elders and twelve eighth grade disciples all agreed to elect him as the Clan Chief. Because Yelu Qi was a Quan Zhen disciple, of course the Quan Zhen Sect did not voice any objection. Nobody from the Eastern Heretic and Southern Emperor was also willing to oppose. Therefore, Yelu Qi did not meet any formidable opponent. Several other men had come onstage but he defeated them one by one.

    Guo Fu was delighted her husband had gone thus far, but then she saw the Condor and the Big Headed Ghost she met at Fenglingdu, they were sitting next to Guo Xiang. She was surprised since her sister had told her she was not going to come. She missed their entrance since her attention was fixed to the stage.

    “Ah! Could it be Yang Guo’s bird that earned him the title Condor Hero?” she thought. “The bird is here, chances are Yang Guo is close by. If he is going on stage … oh …!”

    From delight, this young mistress became upset. She recalled the incident when Yang Guo bended her sword just using his empty sleeve. She thought, “Brother Qi is good, but he is no match for this one-armed weirdo. Looks like he is my black star, always appear in critical moment like this …!” She looked around all directions, but not even his shadow could be seen.

    The day was getting dark, Yelu Qi had defeated seven opponents, and no more contender. Elder Liang went up and announced loud and clear, “Master Yelu is intelligent and chivalrous. We all admire him, the whole Beggars Clan support his election to the Clan Chief position …”

    Immediately the beggars around the stage applauded and cheered.

    “I wonder if there is another valiant hero to challenge him?” Elder Liang continued. Three times he repeated himself, but no takers.

    Guo Fu was elated. She thought, “Yang Guo is not coming, he lost his chance. If he show up after Brother Qi is inaugurated as the Clan Chief in a moment, even if he wants to mess things up he would be too late then.”

    The thought has not even left her mind when suddenly they heard two horses galloping fast approaching the field. Looked like it was a very urgent matter.

    “Ah! He is coming after all!” Guo Fu was shocked.

    Two gray-robed riders arrived at the field. Turned out they were Guo Jing’s spies. He was expecting them all the time, even though his eyes never left the stage.

    “Ah! They are coming after all!” Guo Jing and Huang Rong thought.

    The three of them thought the same words, but Guo Fu meant Yang Guo, while her parents meant the Mongolian troops, their enemy.

    Immediately those two riders dismounted their horses and paid respect to their Commander.

    Guo Jing looked at them with his piercing gaze. He wanted to guess what the news would be, but he didn’t see worried faces. They looked so calm, more on the happy side, like they were bearing good news.

    “Please be informed Master Guo,” said one of them, “the Mongolian troops’ right flank has arrived at Xin Ye. They are one thousand men strong.”

    “Ah! They are that quick!” Guo Jing was shocked.

    “Also the left flank had arrived at Zhen Qiu, another one thousand men strong,” the second spy reported.

    Guo Jing was silent. He was amazed at the enemy’s swiftness. Both Xin Ye and Zhen Qiu were only fifty kilometers or so from Xiang Yang. From those cities to Hoan Xia, across the field from Xiang Yang, the terrain was flat, no river or mountain on the way. They could reach Xiang Yang in just one day.

    “Only something had happened there. Something strange but pleasant to us,” continued the second spy. “The troops at Zhen Qiu, all one thousand of them, had been killed, including all the officers …”

    “That so?” Guo Jing was more amazed.

    “That was what I witnessed,” the first spy confirmed. “The one thousand strong troops at Xin Ye had become ghosts, everybody died. The most peculiar thing was they all lost their left ear!”

    “Same thing happened at Zhen Qiu,” added the second spy, “they also lost their left ears.”

    Guo Jing exchanged look with his wife. They were both surprised and pleased. The enemy was tens of thousand strong, two thousand died would not make a dent. But the way they died could crush their spirit. Only which troop or who had destroyed these two enemy’s flanks?

    “What about the defense troops at Xin Ye and Zhen Qiu?” Guo Jing asked.

    “They were still inside their cities,” came the answer, “We don’t think they were even aware that the enemy’s troops were decimated outside their cities.”

    “Now you go and give the report to General Lu,” commanded Huang Rong, “I am sure he would be pleased and will give you some rewards.”

    The two spies nodded and happily retreated.

    Huang Rong immediately went on stage and made the announcement; which was received with loud cheering and applause by their entire army.

    “The Beggar Clan had just elected a new chief, this is a very pleasing news,” said Huang Rong, “but this news is even more pleasing! Elder Liang, please prepare a feast, we will make a celebration!”

    The feast had indeed been prepared; therefore, they were able to move swiftly. Everybody was high in spirit, even Dun Ru and the others who were defeated during the match. The Beggar Clan party did not allow for tables and chairs, so they were just stood or sat around in groups across the field.

    Guo Jing and Huang Rong were repeatedly congratulated. People thought it was their doings. No matter how they denied it, nobody believed them.

    “Brother Jing, this is so strange,” said Huang Rong to her husband, “let’s just ignore them and see what will happen.”

    Mrs. Guo then sent eight smart beggars to run to Xin Ye and Zhen Qiu to investigate further.

    In the meantime, Guo Xiang was still sitting with the Big Headed Ghost and the Condor. Nobody dared to come close to them.

    “I wonder why Big Brother has not come yet?” Guo Xiang asked.

    “He said he would come, he’ll come,” answered the Big Headed Ghost. He was just finished speaking when he suddenly said, “There! Did you hear that? What’s that noise?”

    Guo Xiang strained her ears. From a distance she could hear animals’ noises, loud roars of lions and tigers, loud cries of big monkeys, and heavy footsteps of elephants.

    “Shi Brothers are here!” Guo Xiang was delighted.

    Not too long everybody could see the beasts. They were shocked and unsheathed their weapons. Panic voices were heard everywhere, “Where did they come from? Ah! Lions! Tigers! Watch out! Leopards! Monkeys!”

    Guo Jing stayed calm. “Go to the city, summon two thousand archers over here!” he commanded Xiu Wen.

    Xiu Wen complied and was just about to move when suddenly a loud voice was heard, “The Shi Brothers from the Beastly Mountain Village are here to carry out the Condor Hero’s instruction to wish Miss Guo Xiang a very happy birthday!”

    That voice did not come out of one, but from five mouths. The Shi brothers did not have a high level of internal energy, but by combining their voice, they could be heard from afar.

    Even though he heard them; Guo Jing still thought that preparation wouldn’t hurt anything. He signaled Xiu Wen to proceed. The Shi Brothers intention was not clear yet.

    Xiu Wen worked fast. In no time he arranged the archers to surround the field in a horseshoe formation. These archers were under Guo Jing’s coaching. As we remember, Guo Jing himself was a Jebeh (master archer – see LOCH). This was also one reason why Xiang Yang could defend herself from the Mongolian troops. The archers were not inferior to the Mongolian archers who were well known throughout the world.

    As soon was the archers were in formation, a big man appeared. He wore a tiger fur robe, and was accompanied by a hundred large tigers. It was the White Forehead Mountain Lion Lord Shi Bowei. His tigers immediately sat around him in an orderly fashion.

    Following him were Caring Eyesight Sage Shi Zhongmeng with his hundred leopards, Golden Claw Lion King Shi Shugang with his hundred male lions, Immortal of Giant Strength Shi Jiqiang with his hundred big elephants, and Eight Handed Monkey Immortal Shi Mengjie with his hundred big monkeys. These five groups of animals then sat around their master in neat formations. As well-trained as they were, the animals could not be kept quiet. They kept making loud and frightening noise, which made the hearts of the people of Xiang Yang tremble.

    Each one of the Shi Brothers brought a tiger skin pouch. They approached Guo Xiang and bowed, “We wish you a very happy birthday, good health and longevity!”

    Guo Xiang stood up and reciprocated, “Thank you, Shi Uncles!”

    Shi Bowei pointed to the pouches. “These are the first present from the Condor Hero to Miss,” he said.

    “I really cannot accept it!” said Guo Xiang, giggling. “What are those? Oh, I know! Yours must be a tiger cub, and his is a leopard cub! Am I right?”

    “No!” Shi Bowei smiled, “These are the fruits of the great effort of seven hundred Jianghu friends under the leadership of the Condor Hero!” Then he opened his pouch.

    “Ah!” Guo Xiang was startled to see the content. “Ears! Human ears!”

    “That’s right!” answered Shi Bowei, “These five pouches contain two thousand Mongolian troops’ ears!”

    Guo Xiang was dumbfounded, “What should I do with all these ears?” she asked.

    Guo Jing and Huang Rong saw and heard everything. They understood what happened. Immediately they stood up and came near Shi Bowei to see the ears. There in front of them was the proof of what their spies was telling them. They were surprised and delighted at the same time.

    “Brother Shi,” Huang Rong addressed Shi Bowei, “Turns out the Mongolian troops at Xin Ye and Zhen Qiu were destroyed by hero … Condor Hero’s troop. Is that right?”

    Before answering the Shi Brothers quickly kneeled down and paid their respect to Guo Jing and Huang Rong. Shi Bowei explained, “The Condor Hero said that Miss Guo Xiang is in Xiang Yang, where the Mongolian barbarians are going to attack. He regrets the fact that the enemy number is so great that we cannot destroy them all. However, he has led a number of valiant people to destroy two thousand of their front companies.”

    “Where is the Condor Hero at this moment?” asked Guo Jing. “I want to see him and convey the gratitude of the entire Xiang Yang population.”

    Guo Jing was so busy defending Xiang Yang and trained his troops for more than ten years, that he did not roam the Jianghu. Therefore, he was not aware that the Condor Hero was none other than his Yang Guo.

    “We apologize on his behalf,” said Shi Bowei, “because the Condor Hero has been busy preparing some presents for Miss Guo these past few days, he did not have a chance to pay a visit to Great Hero and Madame.”

    Shi Bowei was just finished when a whistle was heard from a distance, then a voice was heard, “The Xishan Ghosts have received the Condor Hero’s instruction to wish Miss Guo a happy birthday, and to deliver this present …!”

    That voice was not loud, but sharp. It sounded like the voice come and go, but every word was so clear.

    “Guo Jing awaits!” Guo Jing quickly answered. He saw the first present was so valuable, and did not dare to be inattentive. He used his internal energy, so his voice traveled far. He stood erect alongside his wife and waited.

    “Can you guess who this Condor Hero is?” Huang Rong whispered.

    “I don’t know,” answered her husband.

    “It’s Yang Guo!”

    Guo Jing looked up in surprise. But in the end he was ecstatic.

    “Great! Just great!” he exclaimed. “He has rendered his country a great service; this is the merit of our great Song Dynasty.”

    “Can you guess what this second present will be?” Huang Rong asked again.

    Her husband only smiled. “Guo Er is so smart; you are the only one who is his match,” he answered, “only you can guess.”

    “But this time I really don’t have any clue,” said Huang Rong, shaking her head.

    In a moment the Long-Sleeved Ghost appeared on the field, along with the other eight ghosts. They immediately paid their respect to Guo Jing and his wife. Only then did they approach Guo Xiang and said, “Wishing you health and unbounded happiness! The Condor Hero instructed us to deliver the second present!”

    “Thank you, thank you!” said Guo Xiang. The Xishan Ghosts all carried boxes, big boxes and small boxes.

    Guo Jing was afraid the content was some kind of ears or nose or other human parts, quickly he said, “If the contents are not good to behold, I ask you not to open them.”

    The Big Headed Ghost laughed. “This is a very good thing to behold!” he said.
    Fan Yi Wang then opened the lid and picked up what looked like a fire cracker. He lit that thing and it shot up, and exploded high in the air and created a letter “Gong” [congratulation – as in cantonese’s gong hee fat choy].

    Guo Xiang was so happy she jumped around and clapped her hands, “Good! Very good!”

    The Ghosts released the firework one by one, and they formed a string of characters which read, “Wishing the young Miss Guo prosperity and longevity!” Each character had its own color and they stayed afloat for quite some time. They were made by Han Gu’s well known Huang Yi Bo, a firework artist.

    Guo Jing smiled, he was also very happy. He thought, “My daughter loves fireworks so much. Good thing Yang Guo could find a very skilled artist to make them.”

    The fireworks were just about to disperse when a few kilometers to the north another firework was shot, then another one much further to the north.

    “These fireworks work like a beacon,” Huang Rong thought, “this way somebody could deliver a message a few hundred kilometers in just a short moment. I wonder what did Yang Guo prepare for the second present. I doubt it is just fireworks to make little Xiang happy.”

    Mrs. Guo immediately instructed the Beggar Clan to prepare a feast for the additional guests.

    When the feast was still underway, thunderous noise came from way up north, one after another. The noise was muffled because it was so far away.

    Upon hearing that noise, Shi Brothers and the Xishan Ghosts jumped up and down, ecstatically exclaimed, “Success! Success!” Nobody in Xiang Yang knew what they were talking about.

    The Big Headed Ghost pointed to the north and kept shouting, “Good! Good!”

    Because it was already dark, everybody could see fire light coming from the north.

    “The city of Nan Yang is on fire!” suddenly Huang Rong exclaimed. Guo Jing realized what had happened, he slapped his thigh, “That’s right! It is Nan Yang!”

    “I beg your explanation,” said Huang Rong to Fan Yi Weng.

    “That is the second present from the Condor Hero to Miss Guo,” came the answer. “We set the Mongolian’s troop logistics on fire.”

    Huang Rong had guessed correctly, but still they were surprised and ecstatic. In their effort to destroy Xiang Yang, the Mongolians had built the city of Nan Yang as its logistic center. They have built barns and fields of grass for several years. The supply of food and hay were gathered from all over the place to Nan Yang. The Mongolians rely on their cavalry; therefore, food and hay were indispensable to the troop movements. Guo Jing had tried on several occasions to send special commandos teams, but they never succeed in doing so, since the city was heavily guarded. Who knew that the city was on fire now!

    “Will they be able to retreat without any harm?” Guo Jing asked Fan Yi Weng. He was worried about the safety of the assault team.

    “Hero Guo did not ask the result, but ask the safety of the people, he has such a benevolent heart,” thought Yi Weng. Then he explained, “Thank you for Hero’s attention. Everything was carefully planned by the Condor Hero. The team consists of Priestess Shen Ying, the Deaf-mute Tou Tuo of Crows Mountain, Zhang Yi Mang, Bai Chao Xian and the others, eighty-one people total. Even though the Mongolian troop is strong, there is no way they can harm us.”

    Like he was just waking up from a deep sleep, Guo Jing said to Huang Rong, “You heard that? Guo Er has gathered so many valiant people to render this great service. If not for these highly skilled heroes, how could two thousand soldiers be decimated in a short period of time?”

    Fan Yi Weng explained further, “Our spies had reported that the Mongolians planned to attack Xiang Yang with fire power. We just followed their lead. They have prepared a lot of explosives inside Nan Yang. We made a thorough preparation. As soon as the team saw our signal, all eighty-one people moved together. According to our plan, first we destroy the explosives, and then set the supply of food and hay on fire. Let the Mongolian troop and their horses die of hunger!”

    Guo Jing and Huang Rong looked at each other. They were very impressed. They both have followed Gengiz Khan’s invasion to the west [for those of you who has not read the novel, it happened toward the last chapters of LOCH], where the Mongolians destroyed city walls with cannon and explosives. It was like volcano’s eruption. The reason the Mongolians had not used explosives toward Xiang Yang was because the rarity of the explosives. But now that the Mongolian Khan, Meng-ge himself led the attack, they brought the cannons along. Good thing Yang Guo had made the preemptive attack. The decimation of two thousand troops with their left ears missing could crush the enemy’s spirit, but the smashed Nan Yang could cause the enemy to retreat. Therefore, the Guo couple heartily thanked the Shi Brothers and the Xishan Ghosts.

    Up to that time they could still hear the sporadic explosions from the north. But since Nan Yang was quite a distant away, the noise was muffled. Then, a big and loud explosion was heard. The earth shook.

    “There! That must be the main explosive warehouse!” said Fan Yi Weng delightfully.

    Guo Jing immediately summoned the two Wu Brothers. “Take two thousand men with you, go attack Nan Yang,” he gave his command. “But don’t be reckless. If they are still intact, hold the attack, but if they are disorganized, attack with arrows!”

    The two brothers complied and immediately executed his command.

    Because of these two victories, the people partied with gladness of heart, except one person: Guo Fu. She thought her husband was to be the focus of the festivities since he was elected Chief of the Beggar Clan. Who knew that Yang Guo – without even showing up, had stolen the thunder. Of course she was happy with the victories, but she didn’t get to be the center of attention. Didn’t the Shi Brothers and Fan Yi Weng say that the victories were birthday presents for her little sister, Guo Xiang?

    “I understand now!” she was fuming, “I have chopped his arm, he bears a grudge against me. So he purposely made me lose face!” From discontent, she became enraged.

    Elder Liang sat right next to Yelu Qi and Guo Fu. He saw everybody’s countenance was bright, except Guo Fu’s. After pondering a while, he figured out the reason. Then he laughed and said, “Ah, this old man is so absent-minded. Because of these joyful victories I have neglected the important business right in front of my eyes!” He jumped on stage and said with a loud voice, “Valiant people! Twice has the Mongolian troops been beaten. We are all very happy, but right here, right now, we have another thing that should double our happiness. Master Yelu had shown his exquisite skills, and we all admire him. Master Yelu had been elected our Chief. Now I want to confirm this: is there any of you who still want to challenge our decision? Is there any Beggar Clan disciple who is having a second thought?”

    His question was repeated three times. Nobody said anything. Hence, he continued, “Master Yelu, please come on stage!”

    Yelu Qi accepted the bidding. He clasped his hand together in respect, and bowed to everybody. He was just going to open his mouth for acceptance speech when suddenly a voice was heard from underneath the stage, “Wait a moment! I – the lowly beggar, want to say something. Without regard of my own skill I want to ask a lesson or two from Master Yelu!”

    Yelu Qi looked up in surprise. He heard the voice came from the Beggar group. He said, “Please! Speak up!”

    That man stood up, and with a loud voice said, “Master Yelu, your respected father was the prime minister of Mongolia, your own brother was a high official in the Mongolian administration. It is true that they both have passed away, but we – the Beggar Clan, have always had enmities with the Mongolians. With your obscure background, I wonder if it will be proper for you to be our Chief!”

    Hearing this, Yelu Qi was irritated. He said, “My benevolent father, the late Yelu Chu Cai was poisoned to death by the Queen Mother of Mongolia. My brother, the late Yelu Qin, was executed by the Mongolian Khan! Wouldn’t that make me the sworn enemy of the Mongolians?”

    “Even so,” said the Beggar Clan disciple, “Your father’s death is still a mystery. Nobody knows for sure whether he was poisoned. Your brother had committed a crime against the monarch, he deserved the capital punishment. You can place your vengeance on hold, it’s fine with me; but how about our own resentment …?”

    Listening to someone offended her husband, Guo Fu was enraged. “Who are you?” she asked harshly, “You dare to speak nonsense here! If you have any guts, come up here on stage!”

    That beggar laughed mockingly. “Good! Good!” he repeatedly said, “The new Chief hasn’t been inaugurated yet, the Mrs. Chief has shown her fearsomeness!”

    As soon as he finished, he leaped to the stage. His movement was so swift that many missed seeing it. They were shocked and wondered in their heart, “Who is this guy? He is highly skilled.”

    Several thousand pairs of eyes turned their gaze toward this beggar. He was wearing an oversized black raggedy robe. His right hand held an iron stick with a diameter as big as a wine cup. His hair unkempt, his yellowish face swollen. He had pockmarks all over his face. He bore five bags on his back, hence he was a fifth grade disciple of the Beggar Clan. There were not many good-looking men among the Beggar Clan disciples, but this man was really, really ugly. As soon as he appeared, people recognized him as Hou Shi Wo. He was known as a quiet man, did not like to socialize with his peers, used to follow the crowd without questions. He had worked hard and very loyal to the clan that in more than ten years he managed to attain the fifth grade. His martial skill was low and he did not demonstrate any other knowledge that so far nobody had paid any special attention to him. Everybody thought that fifth grade was still too good for him and he would not be able to advance any higher. Who knew this ordinary beggar would dare to open his mouth, even jumped on stage to challenge Yelu Qi. “Where did he steal his skill from?” some people even have this thought in their head.

    Hou Shi Wo was nobody special, but because of his ugliness, whoever had seen him would have a hard time forgetting that face. Thus Yelu Qi also recognized him. He bowed to the beggar and said, “Martial Brother Hou has some great ideas. Would you enlighten me?”

    “Enlighten you I can’t do,” answered Hou Shi Wo coldly, “But there are two things that I do not understand. Therefore, I came on stage to beg your explanation.”

    “What are those two things?” asked Yelu Qi.

    “First,” said Hou Shi Wo, “it is our custom that every Chief of the Beggar Clan will have the Dog Beating Stick as the symbol of his authority. Today Master Yelu has been elected Chief. I wonder where that Dog Beating Stick is? The lowly beggar would like to see it.”

    His question stirred the hearts of the Beggar Clan disciples. That was a very good question.

    Yelu Qi answered, “Chief Lu had met his death in a criminal’s hands, that Dog Beating Stick was snatched by the criminal. This is a disgrace to our Clan. Therefore, it is our responsibility to get the Stick back.”

    “The second thing I don’t understand,” continued Hou Shi Wo, “is about Chief Lu’s death. Have we exacted our revenge yet? We cannot put that on hold.”

    “Chief Lu was murdered by Hou Dou, everybody knows that,” answered Yelu Qi. “We are all enraged by his atrocity. Unfortunately, we have searched everywhere and so far have not found any trace of that scoundrel Hou Du. This is our collective task, we will keep looking for him, even to the end of the earth, and exact our revenge on behalf of our beloved Chief Lu!”

    Hou Shi Wo coldly laughed and continued, “First, the Dog Beating Stick is still missing! Second, the assassin of the late Chief Lu has not been found! These two businesses need to be taken care of. Yet someone is actually thinking of becoming the new Chief. Don’t you think that is a rash decision?”

    Lots of people were shocked! Yelu Qi’s face was flushed with anger, he was loss of words.

    “Brother Hou, you have spoken reasonably,” Elder Liang intervened. “However, our disciples are numerous and scattered across the country. They cannot be left leaderless. Besides, the task of finding the Stick and the criminal is easier said than done. There must be someone who would spearhead the project. That was the reason why we worked hard to elect the new Chief.”

    Hou Shi Wo shook his head. “Elder Liang, I strongly disagree!” he said, “your logic is backward!”

    Elder Liang was the leading Elder of the Beggar Clan. With the death of Chief Lu, he was the highest ranking officer of the Clan. The fact that a fifth grade disciple dared to talk like that to him made him so furious.

    “What’s wrong with what I just said?” he asked.

    “In the disciple’s opinion,” Hou Shi Wo said, still very bold, “Whoever manage to take the Stick back, and whoever can kill Hou Dou to avenge our Chief, he will be the new Chief! Right now we elected a new Chief only based on his martial art skill; but what happen if Hou Dou happen to come over here and defeat Yelu Qi, will we elect him our new Chief?”

    His words were so reasonable that the beggars were exchanging look with each other. But Guo Fu was upset and shouted from below the stage, “Rubbish! How could Hou Dou defeat him?”

    Hou Shi Wo snickered, he said, “Master Yelu is indeed highly skilled, but that does not mean that he is invincible! This lowly beggar only has five bags on my back, but I doubt if he can defeat me.”

    Guo Fu was fuming mad, she shouted, “Brother Qi! You’d better give this rascal disciple a lesson!”

    Hou Shi Wo ignored her, he looked at Elder Liang and asked, “Elder Liang, if this disciple could defeat Master Yelu, would I be the new Chief? Or do you think we should wait until after somebody get the Stick back and kill the criminal?”

    Elder Liang was getting angrier to hear him getting bolder than ever. “I don’t care whoever it is, if he cannot defeat all the contenders, he cannot be the Chief. Later on, if he cannot get the Stick back and cannot kill the enemy, he would regret being the Chief! Master Yelu is no exception. After he is inaugurated as the new Chief, he cannot shirk from these two responsibilities. If he cannot defeat you, Brother Hou, how could he become the new Chief?”

    Hearing this, Hou Shi Wo immediately said, “Elder Liang has spoken reasonably. Now this lowly beggar wants to ask a lesson or two from Master Yelu. Only then can we talk about getting the Stick back and kill the criminal!”

    From the tone of his voice, sounded like Hou Shi Wo was confident he would win.

    Yelu Qi was a patient man, but upon hearing Hou Shi Wo, he couldn’t help but feeling offended. But he still maintain his composure and said, “Younger Brother is indeed not worthy to accept this heavy responsibility. Therefore, if Older Brother Hou would like to teach me a thing or two, I would humbly accept.”

    “Good! Good!” said Hou Shi Wo. He planted his own stick to the stage floor, and thrust his fist to Yelu Qi. His attack did not seem to carry a lot of strength, but his fist created a gust of wind that Elder Liang – who was standing about two meters away, suddenly felt his face hot and hurting.

    Yelu Qi did not slack, he parried with his left hand, while his right hand counter attack with a stance from his Vacant Fist technique.

    The audience could see everything clearly, because even though it was already dark and moonless, but there were more than twenty big torches lighting all sides of the stage. Huang Rong kept her eyes open wide, but she was amazed that after more than ten stances Yelu Qi did not show any sign he had gained the upper hand. Also, as hard as she tried, she could not recognize which school Hou Shi Wo belonged to. She could tell though, that Hou Shi Wo had trained for about at least forty years.

    “For these last eleven or twelve years I have seen the list of the Beggar Clan disciples,” she thought, “and Hou Shi Wo has steadily climbed up in rank. Funny thing is, I’ve never heard anybody mentioning his martial arts. Who knows that in reality he possesses such a high skill. I believe he did not accidentally learn this skill. Could it be that he has hidden his true skill just to wait for a time like this?”

    The match was so fierce. They have exchanged more than fifty stances, and Yelu Qi became upset. No matter what stances he used against his opponent, Hou Shi Wo could parry very well. Turned out this beggar is the toughest opponent he had fought so far. Hou Shi Wo on the other hand, was not highly offensive, seemed like he wanted to conserve his energy and waited for something to happen.

    Yelu Qi had fought several opponents today, but with the exception of Lan Tian He, the rest were ordinary martial artists. He did not have to use too much effort to defeat them. Thus he was very surprised to see Hou Shi Wo’s agility.

    Yelu Qi was the head disciple of Zhou Bo Tong. True, he had not mastered his Master’s Dividing Mind skill, but he had mastered about 80 to 90% of the Quan Zhen Sect’s martial arts. It could be said that he could be regarded as one of the top level martial artists. Both he and his opponent moved very fast and their match was rather enjoyable to be watched.

    “Brother Jing, could you guess Hou Shi Wo’s school of martial arts?” finally Huang Rong asked her husband.

    “Up to this very second he has not shown his true skill,” answered Guo Jing. “I think he is trying to hide his origin. Just wait till the eightieth stance. By then Qi Er will gain an upper hand. If he does not give up, he will be forced to show his true skill.”

    The match was getting even fiercer. Both opponents attacked and counterattacked, both still showed their agility. Stance by stance passed. They exchanged the seventieth stance, then the eightieth. Guo Jing’s prediction was accurate; Yelu Qi was beginning to control his opponent’s move.

    Guo Jing and Huang Rong kept their eyes open wide. If Hou Shi Wo kept hiding his true skill and fighting with mixed-up techniques, he would certainly suffer some losses.

    Yelu Qi could also see his opponent’s predicament. Slowly but surely he intensified his attack. He stayed calm and did not want to make any reckless move.

    Suddenly Hou Shi Wo changed his tactic; he swung his long sleeve out then immediately pulled it back. As a result, the torches around the stage were extinguished. The stage became pitch dark. While nobody could see anything, they heard both Yelu Qi and Hou Shi Wo’s surprised shouts, then they saw Yelu Qi was thrown down the stage, while Hou Shi Wo was still standing on the stage, laughing maniacally.

    Nothing was heard except Hou Shi Wo’s laugh. Everybody was still shocked. A moment later Elder Liang came to his senses and barked his command, “Lit up the torches!” Immediately several beggars complied.

    When the light was back, it was seen that Yelu Qi had a bleeding wound on his left cheek, the size of a wine cup; while Hou Shi Wo stretched out his left arm and coldly said, “Good protective vest! Good protective vest!” His palm was bleeding.

    Guo Jing and Huang Rong exchanged another glance. They realized that because Guo Fu loved her husband, she had loaned her ‘ruan wei jia’ [protective vest, soft hedgehog armor]. Therefore, when Hou Shi Wo hit Yelu Qi, he hit the vest instead and his palm was injured by the thorns. Still, nobody knew how Yelu Qi got wounded and fell down the stage.

    What had happened was, in a critical time, Hou Shi Wo had used his sleeve to extinguish the torches. Yelu Qi was startled when the stage suddenly darkened, but he still remembered to protect himself by striking first. But again he was surprised because his hand touched something cold, a metal weapon. He realized now that Hou Shi Wo had planned to use a dirty trick in darkness. Yelu Qi knew he was in danger, but he was not scared. He kept going with his ‘giant strength in golden light’ fist technique, trying to snatch his opponent’s weapon with the intention of showing it off to the audience. He managed to get within two feet of Hou Shi Wo, his right hand grabbed the weapon while his left hand hit his opponent’s face.

    Hou Shi Wo could not hold his weapon any longer, he eluded the attack to his face by turning his head and let go of the weapon. While Yelu Qi was pulling the weapon, he felt a sting on his cheek and at the same time his chest was hit hard, which made him staggered and fell down the stage. The weapon had secret equipment inside. As soon as it was grabbed, it was separated into two parts. The first part stayed in Yelu Qi’s hand, while the second part flew and hit Yelu Qi on the cheek, making a half-inch deep wound, till his cheekbone was visible. Fortunately it did not hit any vital organ, and fortunately he was wearing the protective vest that his opponent was also injured.

    Guo Fu was shocked and enraged, she leaped to her husband.

    Elder Liang was facing a dilemma. In one hand he knew Hou Shi Wo was using a dirty trick, on the other hand, nobody knew what exactly happened, hence nobody could prove it. Both parties were injured, but Yelu Qi was thrown down the stage, so he could be considered lost.

    Guo Fu could not accept it. “He used a dirty trick!” she angrily shouted, “Brother Qi, go up there and fight him!”

    Yelu Qi shook his head. “Even so, he still won,” he said. “Even if we used honest techniques, I don’t have enough confident of victory against him.”

    Huang Rong signaled her son-in-law to come close so she could see what was inside Yelu Qi’s hand. It was a piece of steel, about five-inch long, and looked like a fan’s spine. She could not remember who in the jianghu world used that kind of weapon.

    While everybody was still quiet from shock, Hou Shi Wo lifted up his yellow and swollen ugly face, and was heard saying, “Even though this lowly beggar has defeated Master Yelu, I still do not dare to accept the Chief position. I want to wait until the Stick is back and the enemy Hou Dou is killed.”

    His speech was received with loud cheers by the beggar clan’s disciples. He was reasonable, even though he sounded so arrogant. Moreover, he had demonstrated his high martial arts.

    Hou Shi Wo then stood on the edge of the stage and bowed to the audience. “Is there any hero out there who would like to teach me a lesson or two?” he challenged.

    He was just shutting his mouth up when Shi Bowei loudly shouted, followed by his army of animals. Suddenly the beasts – who were sitting neatly in formation, leaped up and loudly roared. A single lion or tiger’s roar is loud; imagine all five hundreds animals roared at the same time. The earth shook, wine cups and rice bowl turned upside down, everybody was shocked.

    Immediately the Xishan Ghosts and Shi Brothers, fifteen people, leaped toward the stage, unsheathed their weapons and surrounded the stage.

    At that time the field was so bright since all torches were lit. Then eight people each holding high a torch were seen coming toward the stage. Somebody said loud and clear, “The Condor Hero wishes Miss Guo a happy birthday! We deliver the third present.”

    They moved fast, like they were flying above the ground, such a demonstration of a very high lightness kung fu. In no time they have come close to Guo Xiang. Four of them then stretched out their arms, presenting Guo Xiang with a big sack. Looked like the present was inside the sack.

    Then these eight people bowed to her and introduced themselves. Everybody who heard their names was surprised. They were not ordinary people. The first was a Buddhist Monk, none other that Reverend Wuse, the head of Lou Han Hall of Shaolin Temple. The others were Old Master Zhao of Xing Yang, Qing Ling Zi (Green Spirit Sage) and other Seniors of Wulin world!

    Guo Xiang did not seem to care about the background of all these people. She returned their greeting and laughing sweetly she asked, “I have bothered you all, Uncles! Thank you! OK, what kind of toy is that?”

    The four people holding the sack gave a strong tug and the sack was ripped into four pieces. A bald headed monk rolled out the sack.


    END OF CHAPTER 36
    Last edited by IcyFox; 01-02-06 at 08:43 PM.

  3. #183
    Senior Member Da Bao's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jin_yong_fan
    if u like we can work on ROCH ch. 34 2gether!!!!!!!!!!! id b really happy if i get some help......cuz u kno that i suck!!!!!!!!!!
    you don't suck... at least you've done something... I'm better at proofreading than translating... I'll try to help you.

    Oh yeah... for any of you who celebrate the New Years tomorrow HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! I'll see y'all next year! (or at least make my next post next year!!)
    Last edited by Da Bao; 01-01-06 at 03:26 AM.
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  4. #184
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    Happy New Year to everbody!
    Happy, Happy, Happy New Year to all the translators!
    Wizard

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    Just as a note, Deaf Mute "Camel Head" isn't literally "Camel Head" but should be translated as Tuo Tuo, monks who i think have taken vows but do not shave off their hair, and are not restricted to temple grounds.

    And if i recall correctly, some of the other "Seniors" of Wulin include Kunlun Pai's leader, ?TingNing? Si's Fang Zhang and the Deaf Mute Tuo Tuo and others i can't recall.

  6. #186
    Senior Member IcyFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JamesG
    Happy New Year to everbody!
    Happy, Happy, Happy New Year to all the translators!
    Wizard
    Ditto.



    Quote Originally Posted by Carefree Assassin
    Just as a note, Deaf Mute "Camel Head" isn't literally "Camel Head" but should be translated as Tuo Tuo, monks who i think have taken vows but do not shave off their hair, and are not restricted to temple grounds.

    And if i recall correctly, some of the other "Seniors" of Wulin include Kunlun Pai's leader, ?TingNing? Si's Fang Zhang and the Deaf Mute Tuo Tuo and others i can't recall.
    OK I'll make a note of this and make the necessary changes.
    Thanks.


    Anyway Chapter 37 should be finished soon... By Wed or Thu, hopefully.
    Last edited by IcyFox; 01-01-06 at 08:39 AM.

  7. #187
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    Quote Originally Posted by jin_yong_fan
    if u like we can work on ROCH ch. 34 2gether!!!!!!!!!!! id b really happy if i get some help......cuz u kno that i suck!!!!!!!!!!

    Absolutely right! (Not about the part that you suck, don't worry)

    There's nothing wrong with 10 or 20 people working on a chapter so long as it get's done. Then everyone's happy. Yeah

  8. #188
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carefree Assassin
    Just as a note, Deaf Mute "Camel Head" isn't literally "Camel Head" but should be translated as Tuo Tuo, monks who i think have taken vows but do not shave off their hair, and are not restricted to temple grounds.

    And if i recall correctly, some of the other "Seniors" of Wulin include Kunlun Pai's leader, ?TingNing? Si's Fang Zhang and the Deaf Mute Tuo Tuo and others i can't recall.
    Thanks for the info. Actually, my book also said something about the Tuo Tuo (the exact wording was Liong-Aa-Tauwto), but since I wasn't sure about the Pin Yin, I just used IcyFox's Chapter 35 as my reference.

    IcyFox, I was going to make the necessary correction, but then you beat me to the consolidation of the entire chapter. Could you make the correction, please? Then I am going to edit the parts to point to your entire chapter. (I have done it for Chapter 32, just to make this forum 'cleaner')

    Thank you,
    foxs

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    Quote Originally Posted by IcyFox
    Absolutely right! (Not about the part that you suck, don't worry)

    There's nothing wrong with 10 or 20 people working on a chapter so long as it get's done. Then everyone's happy. Yeah
    i kno wat u mean......ur saying i suck at translation......i knew it.....imma gonna go cry now!!!!!!!!!!!! teeheehehehe......

    Da Bao: thanx 4 the help!!!!!!!!!!! if i do get anything translated soon......ill pm it to u and fox-s so both of u can proofread and edit it and ill combine both of ur suggestions.....kk???? and whenever u feel like translating any part of the book.....jus pm me and let me kno!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Last edited by jin_yong_fan; 01-01-06 at 02:50 PM.
    The purpose of the ninja is to flip out and kill people.

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    Quote Originally Posted by IcyFox
    I lost too... I'm only about 50% done with Chapter 37.
    i lost ta u 2 cuz i don even hav 50% of ch. 34 done!!!!!!!!!!! teehee......im jus slow!!!!!!!!
    The purpose of the ninja is to flip out and kill people.

  11. #191
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    Quote Originally Posted by jin_yong_fan
    i kno wat u mean......ur saying i suck at translation......i knew it.....imma gonna go cry now!!!!!!!!!!!!
    ALAMAK.


    Quote Originally Posted by fox-s

    IcyFox, I was going to make the necessary correction, but then you beat me to the consolidation of the entire chapter. Could you make the correction, please? Then I am going to edit the parts to point to your entire chapter. (I have done it for Chapter 32, just to make this forum 'cleaner')

    Thank you,
    Oops... Moved a bit too fast.
    OK I'll do it.


    Oh yes! I'm promoted to 'Member' Yeah!
    Last edited by IcyFox; 01-02-06 at 12:43 AM.

  12. #192
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    In case you guys didn't know, I thought I'd just tell you guys there's a Chinese adaptation of RoCH starring Huang Xiao Ming as YG and Liu Yi Fei as XLN. Should be released in Spring 2006.

    Here's the thread:
    http://www.spcnet.tv/forums/showthread.php?t=10908


    (Decided to use this post after deleting it...)
    Last edited by IcyFox; 01-02-06 at 09:22 AM.

  13. #193
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    Even though I decided that I will not read the other chapters until 34 is finished, I have to congratulate you guys for your hard work and organization skills.

    JYF it is great that you are doing 34 and it is also great that fox-s is editing it.

  14. #194
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    Quote Originally Posted by IcyFox
    Oh yes! I'm promoted to 'Member' Yeah!
    congragulations IcyFox!

    btw..is this member thing based on posts?

  15. #195
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    Quote Originally Posted by Demonic Swordsman
    congragulations IcyFox!

    btw..is this member thing based on posts?
    Yup! You got hit 50 posts to get member status. A bunch more to get senior.

  16. #196
    Senior Member Da Bao's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jin_yong_fan
    i kno wat u mean......ur saying i suck at translation......i knew it.....imma gonna go cry now!!!!!!!!!!!! teeheehehehe......

    Da Bao: thanx 4 the help!!!!!!!!!!! if i do get anything translated soon......ill pm it to u and fox-s so both of u can proofread and edit it and ill combine both of ur suggestions.....kk???? and whenever u feel like translating any part of the book.....jus pm me and let me kno!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    OK!!! I'm feeling waaay better. I'll mostly be correcting grammer, punctuation. etc. etc. etc. and if I think I see something seriously wrong with that chapter (like an even gone awry) I'll tell you.

    School starts tomorrow... I feel so sad... (only about that). I wish school wasn't so uninteresting.
    Last edited by Da Bao; 01-03-06 at 02:34 AM.
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  17. #197
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    Default CHAPTER 37

    This is the whole of Chap 37. I was hoping to post this when Foxs completed Chap 36 but I was somewhat behind at that time...

    The next chapter I'll be doing is Chap 39. Foxs'll be doing Chap 38, I think.




    CHAPTER 37 – GRATITUDES AND GRUDGES OVER 3 GENERATIONS


    The monk hit his shoulder on the ground and stood up, appearing to be very agile. His face was red with fury and he shouted some words that seemed unintelligible. Guo Jing and Huang Rong knew he was the Golden Wheel Monk’s (Jin Lun Fa Wang) second disciple Daerba and did not know how Master Tan Hua and Old Master Zhao captured him.

    Guo Xiang thought there would be some amusing toy in the sack but saw a rough-looking monk instead, so she was somewhat disappointed and said, “I don’t like this monk that Big Brother has given me. Where is he? Why is he still not here?”

    One of those who came to deliver the 3rd present spent some time in Tibet before and understood Tibetian, so he whispered a few words to Daerba. His face changed and he stared at He Shi Wo. The guy, Qing Ling Zi (Green Spirit Sage), said a few more words in Tibetian to him and handed Daerba his golden rod which was taken away when he was captured by the 8 experts.

    Daerba raised his rod with a shout and jumped onto the stage.

    The guy laughed and told Guo Xiang, “Miss Guo, this monk can do magic tricks, the Condor Hero told him to conjure a few tricks for you. Guo Xiang was happy and clapped her hands, saying, “Oh OK, I was starting to wonder why did Big Brother spend such a great effort to bring the monk here.”

    Daerba shouted a few grunts at He Shi Wo. He Shi Wo said, “What the hell are you yelling about? I don’t understand the words that are coming out of your mouth!” Daerba stepped forward fiercely and smashed the rod towards his head. He Shi Wo quickly avoided the blow. Daerba spun his rod and attacked swiftly. He Shi Wo was fighting single-handedly and was pushed back under Daerba’s heavy assault.

    The Beggars’ Sect members saw this monk was so fierce and his face full of hatred so they quickly rushed forward. Elder Liang said, “Big Monk, don’t cause any trouble here. He’s the future Beggars’ Sect leader. But Daerba ignored him and kept on spinning his rod, causing golden flashes and gusts of wind together with heavy crashing sounds.

    Several Beggars’ Sect members could not control themselves and jumped towards the stage, attempting to stop the fight. However the 8 experts, Shi brothers and Xishan Ghosts surrounded the stage and prevented everyone from accending the stage. Although the Beggars’ Sect had many people, they were held back and could not get onto the stage. Amidst the confusion Qing Ling Zi turned around and went up the stage and pulled up He Shi Wo’s metal staff. He Shi Wo was shocked and tried to snatch it back but was blocked by Daerba’s rod and could not advance a single step.

    Guo Jing and Huang Rong could not guess why Yang Guo sent these people here to create trouble, but since the first 2 presents he gave Guo Xiang were beneficial to Xiang Yang, so they guessed this 3rd present sould not mean any harm. Therefore the Guo couple stood by and watched silently.

    Although Yelu Qi was beaten by He Wo Shi, he was eager to continue his mother-in-law’s great service to the Beggars’ Sect, so when he saw He Shi Wo panicking under Daerba’s attacks, he shouted, “Brother He, don’t panic, I’m going to help you!” He jumped towards the stage. A person shouted fiercely, “Nobody’s allowed onto the stage!” Then the person blocked his way. Yelu Qi stretched his hand out to grab him but that person catched his hand instead with such a strange move and such great internal strength that he could not move. Yelu Qi was shocked and saw that it was the 3rd of the Shi brothers Shi Shu Gang. Yelu Qi changed a few moves but still could not force him to retreat, so he thought, “This person is a small fry under the Condor Hero’s command, yet he is so remarkable, besides the Condor Hero is able to command all these experts, he must be a really great man.” Qing Ling Zi raised the iron staff and shouted, “Ladies and gentlemen, please take a look at this.” He chopped down on the rod’s middle with his hand and the rod broke – it was actually hollow. He pulled one end off and took out a bright green bamboo rod.

    The Beggars’ Sect members were momentarily stunned and speechless, then all cried together, “The leader’s Dog Beating Staff!” The Shi Brothers and other experts stepped aside. Everyone was wondering, “Why was the Dog Beating Rod concealed in the iron staff? How did He Shi Wo lay his hands on it? Why did he not reveal it?”

    The people were all waiting for Qing Ling Zi to explain everything but he wordlessly stepped down the stage and handed the Dog Beating Rod respectfully with both hands to Guo Xiang. Guo Xiang saw the rod and thought about Lu You Jiao and became sad; she received the rod and handed it to Huang Rong.

    Daerba’s rod moves became more intense and He Shi Wo had to evade the dangerous stances with his agility. When the Beggars’ Sect members saw the Dog Beating Rod, they knew the experts must have a good reason for bringing Daerba here to deal with He Shi Wo, so none of them pushed their way up the stage any more.

    In less than 10 moves, He Shi Wo looked like he would die under the golden rod, then Huang Rong suddenly thought, “He Shi Wo used a weapon to hurt Qi-Er, so the weapon must be concealed in his sleeve, yet at this critical juncture, why doesn’t he use his weapon?” Daerba swept his rod on the ground and He Shi Wo leapt up and evaded it. Daerba flipped his rod and brought it upwards. He Shi Wo was in midair and could not evade this attack. Suddenly a clash of weapons was heard and He Shi Wo leapt aside with a short weapon in his hand. Daerba was seething with anger and cursed him and increased the intensity of his rod attacks. However, with a weapon in He Shi Wo’s hand, his martial skills increased and his strokes masterful although his weapon was short, so he was able to fend off Daerba. Zhu Zi Liu saw this and suddenly remembered something, saying, “Mrs. Guo, I know who he is. But I still don’t understand something.” Huang Rong laughed, “That was pasted on with glue, honey and flour.”

    Yelu Qi, Guo Fu and Guo Xiang were standing next to Huang Rong and heard their conversation but did not understand what on Earth they were talking about. Guo Fu asked, “Uncle Zhu, who did you say was what?” Zhu Zi Liu said, “I’m talking about the He Shi Wo who injured your husband.” Guo Fu said, “What? He’s not He Shi Wo? Then who’s he?” Zhu Zi Liu said, “Look carefully, what weapon is he using?” Guo Fu stared for a while then said, “This short weapon is less than a foot, yet it’s not sharp like those pens used to seal accupoints.”

    Huang Rong said, “Think carefully. He’d rather not use his weapon and risk danger, putting his life on the line fighting the monk. Why doesn’t he use his weapon? Why did he extinguish the fire before using his weapon?” Guo Fu said, “This person is sly and crafty, what’s wrong with that?” Guo Xiang said, “He knows someone in the crowd will recognize his weapon techniques, so he doesn’t want to reveal it.” Zhu Zi Liu praised, “Ah ha, Miss Guo is indeed clever.”

    Guo Fu heard him praise her and was not happy so she said, “What about not revealing the truth? Isn’t he standing on the stage? Everyone can see that.” Guo Xiang thought about what her mother just said and said, “Ah, his ugly face is actually a disguise made of flour. This face is really repulsive, after glancing once I don’t want to see it anymore.” Huang Rong said, “The more repulsive he disguises himself, the more he can conceal his identity because everyone wouldn’t like to stare at an ugly face for long, so if there’re any changes to his disguise no one would notice them. Ah, it’s really not easy keeping up such a disguise for so many years.” Zhu Zi Liu said, “His face may be fake, but his decades worth of martial arts can’t be faked.”

    Guo Fu said, “If this He Shi Wo is fake, then who’s he? Sister, since you’re so clever, tell us who he is.” Guo Xiang said, “I’m not that clever, so I don’t know.” Zhu Zi Liu smiled, “Elder Miss Guo has seen him before, at that time the younger Miss Guo wasn’t even born yet. 17 years ago, at the Da Sheng Heroes’ Meet, someone exchanged a few hundred moves with me, who was that?” Guo Fu said, “Hou Du? No, it can’t be him. He uses a fan; although this weapon looks like it, but this weapon only has the skeleton but not the surface.” Zhu Zi Liu said, “I fought such an intense battle with him before, it was the only time in my life I experienced such great dangers, how could I possibly forget his stances? If he isn’t Hou Du then I must be blind.”

    Guo Fu looked at He Shi Wo again and saw that he was agile and his strokes lethal, really appearing to be like the Hou Du at the Heroes’ Meet years ago, but she still had many doubts. She asked, “If he’s really Hou Du, then this monk is his martial brother, can it be he doesn’t recognize him so that’s why they’re fighting?” Huang Rong said, “It’s precisely because he recognizes him that they’re fighting. That year at Chong Yang Palace, Yang Guo used his sword to pin down Daerba and Hou Du but Hou Du didn’t want to risk his life so he desserted Daerba and his master and ran away. This incident was witnessed by the whole Quan Zhen Sect; you must have heard of that too.” Guo Fu said, “Hmmm, no wonder Daerba hates him so much.”

    When Guo Xiang heard “Yang Guo used his sword to pin down Daerba and Hou Du” she thought of how great he was and was awe-struck.

    Guo Fu asked, “Then why did he become a beggar? How did the Dog Beating Rod end up with him?”

    Huang Rong said, “Isn’t that easy? Hou Du betrayed his master, so he’s afraid his master and martial brother would find him, hence he disguised his face and joined the Beggars’ Sect, not revealing who he is, slowly rising to be a 5th grade member over the past 10-over years. Since no one in the Beggars’ Sect was suspicious of him, Fa Wang wasn’t able to find him. But this scoundrel won’t be contented with hiding here all his life so he was waiting for an opportunity to do something big. When Leader Lu was patrolling outside the city, he waited there and ambushed him, revealing his identity and a message for the beggars to bring back, which was to tell everyone Leader Lu was killed by Hou Du. After he snatched the Dog Beating Rod, he hid it inside his hollow metal staff. When the Beggars’ Sect elects a leader, he could raise the matter of finding the Dog Beating Rod. Since the Rod is a very significant icon of the Beggars’ Sect, who can oppose him? Ah, this scoundrel Hou Du is a really brilliant schemer to think of this plan.”

    Zhu Zi Liu laughed, “But with you, Mrs Guo, around, he can hide nothing from us.” Huang Rong didn’t laugh and said, “Hou Du hid himself in the Beggars’ Sect without revealing his identity and was able to fool me, but by trying to vie for the Beggars’ Sect Leader’s position, he really looks down on me.”

    Zhu Zi Liu said, “Yang Guo is really wonderful, he actually was able to discover Hou Du’s scheme, recover the Dog Beating Rod, reveal his identity and give the younger Miss Guo this present; he’s really capable.” Guo Fu said, “Humph, he happened to find out, there’s nothing great about that.”

    Guo Xiang thought, “That day Big Brother was outside the Yang Tai Fu Temple and saw me mourning Uncle Lu. He knew I’m great pals with Uncle Lu so he put in a lot of effort to help me avenge him; this present is no small thing, his efforts…” Then she suddenly thought of something and said, “Although Hou Du became an ugly beggar in the Beggars’ Sect, he still uses his true identity to cause trouble outside. Third Uncle Shi of the Shi brothers was injured by him before and must have wanted to settle this matter with him and so tracked him down.” Huang Rong said, “Correct. Hou Du leaves his trail behind in Jiang Hu time and again, but no one would expect the Beggars’ Sect’s He Shi Wo and Hou Du to be the same person. ‘He Shi Wo’, look at his fake name – he regards himself as his master. When someone thinks too highly of himself, he would inevitably fail one day.”

    Guo Fu said, “Mother, then why does this He Shi Wo say he wants to kill Hou Du? Isn’t that silly?” Huang Rong said, “This is just a sham to remove any doubts.”

    Guo Fu said, “Since Yang… Brother Yang already knew He Shi Wo is Hou Du, he should have said it long ago and not allow him to injure Brother Qi.” Huang Rong laughed, “Yang Guo is not God, how would he know that Qi-Er would get injured?” Guo Xiang said, “But Sister is a Goddess, so she let Brother-in-law don the Soft Armour.” Guo Fu stared at her, but she felt kind of proud inside.

    As they were talking, the fight between Daerba and Hou Du got even fiercer. The 2 had the same master and so they were familiar with each other’s martial arts – Daerba was superior in strength but Hou Du was superior in agility. After another 100 moves, there was still no clear victor. Suddenly Daerba shouted and threw his 50-jin rod towards Hou Du and it flew swiftly and fiercely. Hou Du was shocked as he has never seen Daerba use such a move before. He thought, “He has not won after so long, has he gone crazy?” and quickly jumped aside. Daerba rushed up and hit the rod with his palms and it changed directions, chasing closely behind Hou Du. Hou Du was greatly surprised, then he realised that Daerba followed their master for 10-over years and must have learnt some advanced martial arts. This rod move was derived from Fa Wang’s 5-wheel techniques and Hou Du saw the ferocity of the rod coming towards him and knew he could not take the blow so he slid away, causing the rod to miss his head by 2 inches.

    Daerba was spinning the rod even more rapidly, causing the candles to flicker under the great gusts of wind. Hou Du was jumping around on the darkly-lit stage and was in danger many times. The spectators all stared at this violent battle and could not take their eyes off. Daerba threw the rod 18 times then he shouted, using both hands to shoot his rod like an arrow. Hou Du could not evade this and the rod hit him squarely in the chest with a bang. He slowly collasped onto the stage and remained motionless.

    Daerba took his rod and cried out thrice, then he sat down in front of Hou Du and mumbled the “Reincarnation Chant”. He jumped off the stage and presented his weapon to Qing Ling Zi. Qing Ling Zi did not accept the weapon but said, “Congratulations. You have ridded your sect of a scum. The Condor hero will spare you and wants you to return to Tibet, never stepping into the Central Plains again.” Daerba said, “Thanks to the Condor Hero. I shall follow his instructions.” He bowed and went off.

    Guo Fu saw Hou Du lying motionlessly on the stage with his hideous face and could not believe it was fake, so she drew her sword and jumped onto the stage, saying, “Let’s see what this traitor really looks like.” She then used her sword’s tip to poke his nose.

    Suddenly Hou Du shouted out and leapt up, forcefully striking his palms downwards. Actually after being hit by the golden rod, he was fatally injured but he did not die immediately. He purposely remained motionless, waiting for Daerba to come forward and examine him so that he could execute a fatal move and cause Daerba to die together with him. However Daerba just chanted some prayers and left immediately, but Guo Fu came forward instead. Hou Du pretended to come back to life and stunned her to reduce her resistance. Her Soft Armour was with Yelu Qi so it seemed death was imminent. Guo Jing, Huang Rong and Yelu Qi jumped onto the stage but it seemed too late…

    Then 2 ‘peng’ sounds were heard and 2 projectiles flew through the air side by side and pierced Hou Du’s chest. The projectiles were small and seemed like pebbles but the force was mighty. Hou Du bent back and collasped backwards, throwing up a pool of blood. He was dead.

    The people were shocked and looked in the direction where the projectiles came from but only saw the pale moon and the stary night. The night was still and the projectiles seemed to have been launched from on top one of the 2 flags erected in front of the stage.

    When Huang Rong heard the projectiles hurtling through the air, she knew that apart from her father’s Dan Zi Shen Tong (Divine Flicking Finger), no one else had this skill, but the 2 flag poles were more than 10 yards away, how could the projectiles come from the 2 flag poles at the same time? However she was surprised and did not think clearly, so she said, “Father, is that you?”

    Then an old voice from atop 1 of the flag poles laughed, “My friend Yang Guo, let’s go down!” The voice atop the other flag pole repiled, “Yes!” and the 2 people jumped down together.
    (If you’ve forgotten, Huang Yao Shi taught Yang Guo the Divine Flicking Finger to counter Li Mo Chou years ago.)

    Under the moonlight, the 2 people decended gracefully, with their clothes floating in the wind. One was wearing a refine green robe while the other was a one-handed man wearing a blue shirt. It was indeed Yang Guo and Huang Yao Shi. Huang Yao Shi took Yang Guo’s hand and the 2 people landed on the stage. The people all thought they were witnessing the celestial generals decending from the heavens.

    Guo Jing and Huang Rong quickly junped up the stage and bowed to Huang Yao Shi. Then Yang Guo bowed to Guo Jing and Huang Rong, saying, “Nephew Yang Guo kowtows to Uncle and Aunt Guo.” Guo Jing quickly raised him and laughed, “Guo-Er, your three presents, ah, are really… really…” He was very grateful and could not find any words to express his gratitude.

    Guo Fu was afraid her Father wanted her to thank Yang Guo for saving her life so she quickly said to Huang Yao Shi, “Grandfather, fortunately you used your Divine Flicking Finger and saved me from that scoundrel’s palms.”

    Yang Guo jumped off the stage and walked to Guo Xiang, laughing, “Sister, I’m late.”

    Guo Xiang felt her heart beating rapidly and face turn red so she softly said, “You spent so much effort to get me the 3 presents, it was really… really a lot of trouble.” Yang Guo smiled, “It was nothing. Since it’s your birthday we merely added in to the fun.” He then waved his hand.

    The Big Head Ghost said, “Bring everything up.” Then several people also repeated, “Bring everything up.” The message was then relayed outside.

    After a while a group of people came in with lanterns, baskets and planks. They then put the planks together and started nailing, forming a wooden stage. More and more people came in but they moved orderly and worked silently.

    When the people saw Yang Guo’s presents they all respected and admired him deeply so they thought he brought those people here for some major purpose. However, before long the stage was completed and some people started drumming and donning opera costumes and performing “The Eight Immortals Celebrate A Birthday”. Following that several people entered from the west and started singing “Man Chuang Hu”, a song from the story of Guo Zi Yi celebrating his birthday with his 7 sons and 8 sons-in-law. At the same time some people lit firecrackers and conjured tricks, turning the whole event into a grand celebration. The performers were famous troupes from Henan and Huguang. The people were all in a festive mood and were jumping and cheering all over the field.

    By this time the Shi brothers had quietly left with their animals and the Xishan Ghosts, Qing Ling Zi and the group of experts followed suit.

    Guo Xiang saw that Yang Guo had arranged the matter down to the last detail and she was moved to tears, remaining speechless for a while.

    Guo Fu remembered their conversation at the Yang Tai Fu Temple, so now a young hero actually came to celebrate her birthday she was secretly seething with anger. She just took Huang Yao Shi’s arm and bombarded him with questions, pretending she did not see anything.

    Guo Jing felt the was Yang Guo celebrated his daughter’s birthday was making a mountain out of a mole-hill but he was broadminded, moreover Yang Guo helped Xiang Yang and the Beggars’ Sect accomplish 3 great feats in one day so Guo Jing just let him do whatever he wanted, only shaking his head with a smile.

    Huang Rong asked her father, “Father, did you arrange with Guo-Er to hide on top of the flag poles?” Huang Yao Shi laughed, “No, no! That day I was at a lake admiring the moon when I heard some people whispering that some whatever Condor Hero would be visiting Xiang Yang, and that his martial arts were excellent and his character strange. I was worried he wanted to harm my good daughter and son-in-law so I secretly came here. So this Condor Hero is Yang Guo. If I’d known earlier I needn’t have worried so much.” Huang Rong knew her father liked to roam Jianghu but was always thinking of her, so she laughed, “Father, don’t go any more, let us be reunited.”

    Huang Yao Shi did not answer and waved to Guo Xiang, laughing, “Little girl, come over here and let Grandfather take a look at you.” Guo Xiang has never met him before so she quickly stepped forward to bow to him. Huang Yao Shi took her hand and closely examined her face, saying sadly, “What a great resemblance.” Huang Rong knew he was thinking of his late wife, so he was saying that Guo Xiang looked like her grandmother. She was afraid to stir his emotions so she did not say anything. Guo Fu laughed, “Of course! You’re the Old Eastern Heretic and she’s the Little Eastern Heretic…” Guo Jing scolded, “Fu-Er, you have no respect for your grandfather!” Huang Yao Shi was however delighted and said, “Xiang-Er, are you the ‘Little Eastern Heretic’ ?” Guo Xiang blushed and said, “At first it was only Sister who called me that, later on everyone called me that.”

    At this time the 4 Elders of the Beggars’ Sect crowded round Yang Guo and thanked him profusely, thinking, “He rendered such a great service to Xiang Yang, recovered the Dog-Beating Rod, exposed Hou Du’s devious plan, avenged Leader Lu, if he’s willing to be the next Leader that would be splendid.” Elder Liang said, “Hero Yang, our late leader passed away tragically…” Yang Guo had already guessed what they were up to and quickly interrupted, “Master Yelu is proficient in both martial arts and literature, he’s heroic and compassionate and he is a great buddy of mine. If he becomes the new Leader, he would be able to continue the great legacy of Leaders Hong, Huang and Lu.”

    Huang Yao Shi briefly asked about Guo Xiang’s martial arts and turned his head to get Yang Guo here to talk to him. When he turned around, he saw Yang Guo already walking out of the place so he said, “My friend Yang Guo, I’m off too!” He waved his sleeves and in the blink of an eye he had caught up with Yang Guo. The 2 of them swiftly disappeared into the darkness.

    Huang Rong had something urgent to tell her Father but because there were too many people around it was not convenient to speak, who knew he would suddenly leave, so she was shocked and quickly gave chase.

    However Huang Yao Shi and Yang Guo moved extremely fast and Huang Rong could not catch up. Huang Rong said, “Father, Guo-Er, how about leaving after a few days?” Huang Yao Shi’s distant voice said, “We both have wild characters and are most afraid of restrictions, just let us be.” The last few words seemed to be almost a hundred metres away. Huang Rong was secretly groaning as she could not catch up, so she had to go back. Back at the field, the drumming noises filled the night.

    The 4 Elders of the Beggars’ Sect held a discussion. Firstly, before Hou Du came and messed things up, Yelu Qi was already elected the Leader. Secondly, the Beggars’ Sect owed great gratitude to Yang Guo, so since even he nominated Yelu Qi, then the affair was settled. The 4 Elders informed Huang Rong and accended the stage and proclaimed Yelu Qi the new Beggars’ Sect Leader.

    The Beggars’ Sect members all carried out their tradition and spat on Yelu Qi. They then clapped and cheered.

    Guo Xiang saw that this time Yang Guo only said a few words to her and left shortly after meeting her, she felt rather disappointed inside, then she saw her sister standing next to Yelu Qi and receiving congratulations from the Beggars’ Sect members she felt even worse so she turned around and headed home. She had not gone a few steps when Huang Rong caught up with her and held her hand, gently saying, “Xiang-Er, what is it? Are not unhappy?” Guo Xiang said, “No, I’m extremely delighted.” After saying this she lowered her head and tears welled up in her eyes, then falling to the ground. Huang Rong could not understand her daughter’s heart so she mentioned some interesting stories to make her happy.

    The two people slowly went home. Huang Rong accompanied her back to her room and asked, “Xiang-Er, are you tired?” Guo Xiang said, “I’m alright. Mother, you’ve been up all night, you should rest.” Huang Rong pulled her and sat shoulder-to-shoulder on the bed and fondled her hair, saying, “Xiang-Er, I’ve never mentioned your brother Yang Guo’s matter to you before. This is a long story, so if you’re not tired, I’ll tell you.” That caught Guo Xiang’s attention and she said, “Mother, tell me.”

    Huang Rong said, “I should start from his grandfather.” Then she told her how Guo Xiao Tian and Yang Tie Xing became sworn brothers, how they betrothed their children even before birth, how Yang Kang acknoledged the enemy as his father and lost his life, why Yang Guo lived on Peach Blossom Island when young, why Guo Fu chopped off his arm and how he and Xiao Long Nu separated at the Loveless Valley. She told the entire story to her.

    Huang Rong then sighed and said, “At first I was suspicious of him and was afraid nothing good would come out of you knowing him. Ah, in terms of trusting people I’m way behind your father. Your brother Yang Guo did 3 great things tonight so instead of being evil, he’s far from it. We really owe him a debt of gratitude.” Guo Xiang curiously asked, “Mother, why would he be evil?” Huang Rong said, “At first I thought wrong, I thought he bore deep hatred for our Guo family and wanted to take revenge on you.” Guo Xiang shook her head, “How could that be? If he wanted to kill me it would be too easy. At Fenglingdu, all he needed was his last finger to kill me.” Huang Rong said, “You’re still young. You don’t know about all these things yet. If he wants you to suffer and make us worried and depressed, it would be 10 times as terrible as killing a person. Ah, there’s no need to say more, now I know he won’t. But I’m still worried over something.”

    Guo Xiang said, “Mother, what’s there to worry? I think brother Yang won’t take past matters to heart. He would be reunited with Sister-in-law soon and he’d be so happy he’d forget everything.” Huang Rong said, “That’s exactly what I’m worried about; he may not get to see Xiao Long Nu.”

    Guo Xiang was shocked and said, “What? How could that be? Brother Yang personally told me Sisier-in-law was badly injured and was taken away by the South Sea Nun (Nan Hai Shen Ni or South Sea Divine Nun) for treatment and arranged to meet again 16 years later. The couple has deep feelings for each other, why wouldn’t they meet after waiting for so long?” Huang Rong frowned and only said, “Hmmmmm.” Guo Xiang said, “Brother Yang told me she carved several words on the Heart-Wrenching Cliff which said, ‘16 years later, meet at this place, the love between (us) husband and wife is profoundly deep, never fail this promise’ Could the words be fake?” Huang Rong said, “The words are genuine, but I’m afraid Xiao Long Nu loved Yang Guo too much so he won’t be able to see her again.”

    Guo Xiang did not know what in Heaven’s name Huang Rong was talking about and stared at her expectantly. Huang Rong said, “16 years ago, your Brother Yang and his wife were seriously injured; Brother Yang’s injuries could be treated while Xiao Long Nu’s poison attacked her major accupoints. He saw that she would hardly survive and didn’t want to accept treatment.” When she said this, she became soft and gentle and continued, “Ah, you’re still young, you won’t understand.”

    Guo Xiang was lost in thought for a while then said, “Mother, if I were Sister-in-law, I’d pretend I’m alright and let him take the medicine to recover.”

    Huang Rong was surprised, she had never expected her daughter to be so thoughtful of others at such a young age, so she said, “Correct, I’m afraid Xiao Long Nu did just that and left Yang Guo. She earnestly said ‘the love between (us) husband and wife is profoundly deep, never fail this promise’ and said ‘please treasure this, beg that you fufill this reunion’. When I saw ‘please treasure this’, I guessed Xiao Long Nu disappeared suddenly to make your Brother Yang patiently and quietly wait for her for 16 years. Ah, she thought after 16 years, your Brother Yang would slowly forget her, although he’d be disappointed, he wouldn’t want to commit suicide.”

    Guo Xiang said, “Then what about the South Sea Nun?” Huang Rong said, “I made that up. There’s really no such person.” Guo Xiang was shocked and stammered, “No… no such person?”

    Huang Rong said, “That day at the Loveless Valley, I saw Yang Guo so miserable so I could not help it but make sume stuff up to console him to make him wait for the past 16 years. I said the South Sea Nun lived on Wisdom Island, but actually there’s no such island. I also said she taught your grandfather some palm strokes to reduce his suspicion. This Yang Guo is so intelligent, if I didn’t make it sound realistic, how would he believe me? If he didn’t, then Xiao Long Nu’s efforts would be wasted.”

    Guo Xiang said, “So you’re saying Sister-in-law is already dead? This whole thing is just to fool him?” Huang Rong quickly said, “No, no! Maybe Xiao Long Nu’s still alive and would meet him when the time comes; if so that’d be great. She’s the only diciple of the Ancient Tomb Sect, the founder Lin Chao Ying was extremely knowledgable and had profound martial arts and internal energy, so she might have left some incredible skill for Xiao Long Nu to save her life.”

    Guo Xiang thought for a while then said, “Yeah, I think so too, Sister-in-law is such a kind person and Brother Yang loves her so much, she wouldn’t die so easily. But if he doesn’t get to meet her, won’t he go crazy?”

    Huang Rong said, “Today when your grandfather came, I was thinking of asking him to cover up for us, but I was unable to do so.” Guo Xiang became worried and said, “Now Brother Yang and Grandfather are together, he’d surely ask about the South Sea Nun. Grandfather doesn’t know what’s going on and he’d surely let the cat out of the bag. That’d be terrible.” Huang Rong said, “If Xiao Long Nu could be reunited with him, which would require a lot of luck, then everything would be fine. But if he doesn’t get to see Xiao Long Nu, then I really don’t know what he’d do. He’d hate me deeply for lying to him and making him wait in loneliness for 16 years.” Guo Xiang said, “Mother, don’t worry, it was for his own good. You saved his life.”

    Huang Rong said, “Besides the deep friendship of the Guo and Yang families for the past 3 generations, Guo-Er himself has saved your father, mother and sister numerous times. Today he did so much for Xiang Yang, we are truly grateful and we can never repay him. Ah, Guo-Er has been lonely almost all his life, he’s already past 30 but the only happy moments he had only made up a few days.”

    Guo Xiang thought, “If Brother really can’t meet Sister-in-law, he might really go crazy.” Huang Rong said, “Your Brother Yang is of good character, but he has gone through much hardship when young so he’s rather eccentric, but his conduct is extraordinary.” Guo Xiang tried to smile and said, “He, Grandfather and I are all heretic people.” Huang Rong said, “Correct, he’s a good man but he has a heretic aura. If Xiao Long Nu has unfortunately passed away, you must never ever meet him again.”

    Guo Xiang never expected Huang Rong to say that so she quickly asked, “Why? Why not?” Huang Rong held her hand and said, “If they get to meet, of course you can roam around with them or visit their home. Even if you follow them to the edge of the world I wouldn’t be worried. But if he doesn’t get to meet her; Xiang-Er, you don’t know him well enough, if he goes crazy he’s capable of anything.” Guo Xiang said, “Mother, if he doesn’t see her, he’d be sad and depressed, so we should console him.” Huang Rong shook her head, saying, “He doesn’t listen to others.”

    Guo Xiang thought for a while then said, “Mother, after 16 years, do you think he would commit suicide in his sorrow?” Huang Rong was quiet for a long while then replied, “I can guess what most people are thinking but I can’t read your Brother Yang’s thoughts ever since he was young, so it’s precisely because I can’t guess what he’d do so I won’t allow you to meet again. Unless of course he’s reunited with Xiao Long Nu. Then that’s a different story.” Guo Xiang was lost in thought and did not respond.

    Huang Rong said, “Xiang-Er, Mother is doing this for your own good. If you don’t listen to me, it might be too late when you regret it.” She saw her daughter frowning and her eyes turn red, so she said gently, “Xiang-Er, let me tell you something else. It’s about your Brother Yang’s father Yang Kang.” So she then talked about how Yang Tie Xin took Mu Nian Ci as his god daughter and how she sparred to find a husband, how she gave birth to Yang Guo and finally how she died of depression. Then she said, “Sister Mu Nian Ci’s character and beauty are flawless, such a good girl is hard to come by, but she was tormented by her affairs of the heart and suffered such a fate.”

    Guo Xiang said, “Mother, she didn’t have any choice. She liked Uncle Yang, so no matter what he did she still liked him.”

    Huang Rong stared at her and thought, “She’s so young, how does she know so much?” She saw that she was exhausted and her eyes could hardly stay open so she helped her get out of her coat and tucked her into bed, saying, “Quickly close your eyes! I’ll watch you sleep then leave.” Guo Xiang closed her eyes and as she had not slept for the whole night she was really tired so she sank into a deep sleep soon after.

    Huang Rong looked at her sweet and refined face she thought, “Among my three children, I worry about you the most. But among the 3 of you, I really can’t say who I pity the most.” She then returned to her room and slept.

    In the evening, the Wu brothers sent back fast horses with the report that all the supplies at Nan Yang had been destroyed, the gun powder had exploded and killed many Mongolian troops so after the loss, the Mongolians had withdrawn 100 li (50 km) and did not stir from the camp. When Xiang Yang heard this message, everyone cheered with joy and kept talking about the Condor Hero. Some exaggarated the story and made Yang Guo seem like a deity and excitedly talked about how he exterminated the vanguard forces and burnt Nan Yang. All of them talked as if they saw everything with their own eyes.

    That night the Guo couple was invited by Lu Wen De to discuss the military situation so they reached home very late. The next morning Yelu Qi, Guo Fu and Guo Polu went to pay their respects but after a long time, Guo Xiang still did not turn up. Huang Rong got worried and instructed a maid to check her room to see if she’s ill. After a while, the maid came back with Guo Xiang’s maid saying, “The lady did not go to bed last night.”

    Huang Rong was shocked and asked, “Then why didn’t you say so last night?” Guo Xiang’s maid Xiao Bang Tou said, “Madam returned very late last night, so I didn’t dare disturb you; I thought the lady would return after a while, I didn’t know she’d be missing until now.”

    Huang Rong quickly went to Guo Xiang’s room and saw that she did not bring any spare clothes, weapons or money and was very curious, then she saw a white slip of paper half-concealed under her pillow. Huang Rong knew something was wrong and she groaned inwardly then she picked up the slip of paper which said :

    “Dear Father and Mother,
    I’m going to convince Brother Yang not to commit suicide. When I’ve done that, I’ll return immediately.
    Signed, Xiang.”

    Huang Rong stood there motionless and thought, “This kid is really naïve. Given Yang Guo’s character, apart from Xiao Long Nu, he listens to no one. If he did, he won’t be Yang Guo.” She wanted to quickly find her daughter back but the Mongolians were slowly closing in on Xiang Yang on 2 fronts and they could attack any time, so she could not attend to her daughter’s private affairs. After discussing with Guo Jing, she wrote several letters to some capable Beggars’ Sect members who would split up to look for Guo Xiang and bring her back.

    That day after Guo Xiang heard her mother’s stories, she had several nightmares shortly after falling asleep, dreaming that Yang Guo slit his throat with a sword, then dreaming that Yang Guo jumped off a high cliff and ended up in a bloody mess. After that she awoke in cold sweat so she sat up and thought carefully, “Brother gave me 3 golden needles and promised to do 3 things for me. I have one left, so I’ll use it to get him not to commit suicide. He’s a hero and won’t go back on his words, so I must find him.” So she left a short note and set off immediately.

    However she had the slightest idea where Yang Guo and Huang Yao Shi could have gone so she walked rather aimlessly for around 30 li (15km) and became famished, so she tried to look for a food court. But all the people around the city had fled even before the Mongolians had arrived so the whole place was lifeless like a ghost town. Guo Xiang had never gone out alone before, so she never expected to get into this mess. She sat down on a stone and folded her arms, becoming frustrated.

    After sitting down for a while, she thought, “Since there’s no food court, I’ll pick some wild fruits.” She walked around but there was not even a single fruit tree for a few miles. Just as she felt helpless, she suddenly heard a horse galloping. When the horse past her, she saw a tall and skinny yellow-robed monk mounted on the horse. The horse was very swift and was gone in the blink of an eye. But after going a few dozen metres, the horse turned around and returned. The horse stopped in front of Guo Xiang and the monk asked, “Lady, who’re you? Why are you here alone?”

    Guo Xiang saw that his eyes had a piercing gaze and she shuddered, but at the Black Dragon Marsh she met Reverend Yi Deng, so she thought, “Reverend Yi Deng is kind and benevolent, so this monk should also be a good guy.” She answered, “I’m named Guo, I’m looking for someone.” The monk asked, “Who?” Guo Xiang shook her head and smiled, “You’re so busybody, I’m not talking to you.” The monk said, “How does that person look like, maybe I’ve met him before and can tell you where he is.” Guo Xiang thought this was not a bad idea and said, “You might not know him. He’s a one-armed young man. He might be with a large condor or he might be alone.”

    That monk was actually Jin Lun Fa Wang (Golden Wheel Monk) and he realised she was talking about Yang Guo. His heart missed a beat but appeared normal, saying, “Ah, you’re looking for someone named Yang Guo, right?” Guo Xiang was delighted and said, “Yeah, you know him?” Fa Wang laughed, “How would I not know him? He’s my friend. We knew each other even before you were born.”

    Guo Xiang blushed slightly and asked, “Big monk, what’s your religious name?” Fa Wang said, “I’m Zhu Mu Lang Ma.” Zhu Mu Lang Ma is the tallest mountain in Tibet and it’s peak reached the clouds, so Fa Wang was trying to say his martial arts were unmatched in the world. (I think this mountain should be Mt. Everest.)

    Guo Xiang said, “What a long and messy name.” Fa Wang said, “It’s Zhu Mu Lang Ma.” Guo Xiang said, “OK, Reverend Zhu Mu Lang Ma, where is my brother?” Fa Wang said, “Your brother?” Guo Xiang said, “Yeah, Yang Guo.” Fa Wang said, “You call Yang Guo your brother? But you’re Guo, right?” Guo Xiang said, “We’re sworn siblings, he lived in my home when he was young.”

    Fa Wang said, “I also have a sworn brother, we’ve known each other for many years, his martial arts are excellent and he is very well-known, his name is Guo Jing, do you know him?” Guo Xiang thought, “I sneaked out, so if he’s one of Father’s friends he might want to take me home, so I’d better not tell him.” So she said, “You’re talking about Hero Guo? He’s an elder in my family. You want to meet him?”

    Fa Wang was clever and alert, so how could he miss Guo Xiang’s change in expression? He sighed, “He’s my saviour, we’ve not met for more than 20 years, then I heard a rumour that he had passed away. I’m very sad, so I came here to pay my respects. Ah, heven must be blind to make a hero’s life is so short.” When he said this, his tears started to drop. His internal strength is very strong and he can control his entire body’s functions, so he can cry at will.

    Guo Xiang saw him crying tragically, although she knew her father was not dead, she was still concerned about her father and her feelings were affected by him, so she said, “Big monk, don’t worry, Hero Guo isn’t dead.” Fa Wang said, “You’re talking nonsense. He’s really dead. What does a girl like you know?” Guo Xiang said, “I just came out from Xiang Yang, of course I’d know. I just saw Hero Guo yesterday.”

    Fa Wang faced the sky, laughing, “Ah, you’re Hero Guo’s daughter.” Then he shook his head and said, “No, no, his daughter is Guo Fu, I know her too, she’s around 35 this year, she’s not as young as you.” Guo Xiang couldn’t resist and said, “She’s my elder sister. I’m Guo Xiang.”

    Fa Wang was delighted and thought, “I’m really in luck today. Such an opportunity is hard to come by.” Then he said, “Oh OK, so Hero Guo’s not dead.” Guo Xiang saw his happy expression and thought he was happy about her father, so she thought he was a nice person and said, “Of course he’s not dead. If my father died, I’d die crying over him.” Fa Wang said, “OK, OK, I believe you. I’m not going to Xiang Yang already. Please help me tell Hero Guo and Chief Huang that I send my regards to them.” However Guo Xiang was persistent in asking about Yang Guo, so as he was leaving so she stopped him as he mounted the horse.

    Guo Xiang said, “Hey big monk, why are you so unreasonable?” Fa Wang said, “How so?” Guo Xiang said, “I told you about my father yet you never told me anything about Yang Guo. So where is he?” Fa Wang said, “Ah, yesterday at the valley near the north of Nan Yang he was training his sword strokes. He might not have left yet, you can go find him.” Guo Xiang frowned, saying, “There’re many valleys. Which is it? Please tell me clearly.” Fa Wang thought for a while then said, “OK! I’m going north anyway, so I’ll bring you there.” Guo Xiang said, “Thanks a lot.”

    Fa Wang took his horse over and said, “Miss, please ride the horse, I’ll walk.” Guo Xiang said, “That’s not such a good idea.” Fa Wang laughed, “This horse has 4 legs but it might not run faster than my 2 legs.”

    Guo Xiang was about to mount the horse then she said, “Oh yeah, I’m very hungry, do you have anything to eat?” Fa Wang took a bag from his back and Guo Xiang ate 2 biscuits from it, then she rode the horse.

    Fa Wang flipped his sleeves and followed behind. Guo Xiang thought about what he said so she took the reins and said, “Big monk, I’ll be waiting for you in front.” Before she finished speaking, the horse started galloping and charged forwards.

    This horse was very swift and Guo Xiang felt the wind in her face and saw the trees flash past her. She turned her head around and laughed, “Big monk, can you catch up?” Then she was slightly surprised as there was no trace of him behind. Then suddenly his voice came from the forest in front, saying, “Miss Guo, my horse is not very fast, you mist whip it harder.” Guo Xiang was extremely curious, wondering how he had gotten in front instead. When the horse caught up, she saw the monk taking huge strides forwards. Guo Xiang whipped the horse and it moved faster, but it always remained several metres behind, not being able to catch up. By this time they had already reached the expressway north of Xiang Yang. The horse was kicking up a lot of dust while Fa Wang did not stir any sand or dirt and moved like the wind.

    Guo Xiang was in awe of him and thought, “If he didn’t have this level of martial arts he wouldn’t be worthy of Father’s sworn brotherhood.” She respectfully said, “Big Monk, you’re an elder, you should ride the horse, I’ll follow slowly behind.” Fa Wang laughed, “Why should we waste time? Don’t you want to find your brother earlier?” By this time the horse was losing its speed and was lagging further behind Fa Wang.

    Now 2 horses appeared up in front in the distance. Fa Wang said, “Let’s capture those 2 horses and ride them alternately so that we can move faster.” After a while the horses came closer and Fa Wang stretched out his hands, saying, “Get down and walk!”

    The horses were shocked and neighed, stopping immediately. The riders however had good riding skills and did not fall from the horses. One of them angrily said, “Who’re you? Do you want to die?” He lashed out with his whip. Guo Xiang happily said, “Big Head Ghost, Long Sleeve Ghost, don’t fight, we’re all friends!” The 2 riders were the Big Head Ghost and Long Sleeve Ghost of the Xishan Ghosts.

    Then Fa Wang grabbed the whip and tried to seize it. However although the Big Head Ghost was small-sized, he had great strength and the whip was made of tough leather, so it did not snap even under Fa Wang’s force of a few hundred jin (Few thousand newtons, I suppose). Fa Wang said, “Not bad!” and increased his strength, pulling the Big Head Ghost off his horse.

    The Big Head Ghost got angry and threw down his whip and charged forwards, wanting to fight with Fa Wang. The Long Sleeved Ghost said, “Brother, wait!” Then he said, “Miss Guo, why are you together with the Golden Wheel Monk?” Many years ago Yang Guo had gone to the Loveless Valley with Fa Wang before so the Long Sleeved Ghost (Fan Yi Weng) recognized him.

    Guo Xiang laughed, “You’re mistaken, he’s Reverend Zhu Mu Lang Ma, a good friend of my father. The Golden Wheel Monk is my father’s enemy, so how could this be?” Fan Yi Weng asked, “Where did you meet him?” Guo Xiang said, “I bumped into him not long ago. He said my father is dead, isn’t that silly? He wants to bring me to see Big Brother now.” The Big Head Ghost said, “Quickly get over here. This monk is a bad guy.” Guo Xiang became doubtful and asked, “Is he fooling me?” The Big Head Ghost said, “The Condor Hero is in the south, why is he taking you north?”

    Fa Wang smiled and said, “This 2 midgets are talking garbage.” He suddenly brought up his palms and struck them on the head.

    For the past decade, Fa Wang had been training his “Dragon/Elephant Moving Skill” (Long Xiang Ban Lao Gong) and he had reached and unprecedented level in this fearsome skill.

    The “Dragon/Elephant Moving Skill” has 13 levels, the 1st being very easy and even an idiot could master it within 2 years with some guidiance. The 2nd is more difficult than the 1st and requires about 3-4 years. The 3rd level is even more difficult than the 2nd and needs 7-8 years. So the difficulty level increases exponentially for each new level. For the 5th level alone, it usually requires more than 30 years to master. This profound skill was created by some obscure monk but no one has actually passed the 10th level. This skill is so profound that it is nearly impossible to complete all 13 levels unless one can live to a thousand years old. The creator himself only mastered it to the 8th level and could make no more progress as he had reached a dangerous obstacle which he could not overcome. During the Nothern Song Dynasty, a monk who mastered the 9th level trained without rest and managed to reach the 10th level, but in his excitement he lost control (what some might call a ‘fire deviation’) and became insane, dancing crazily for 7 days and nights before severing his arteries and dying. (This sounds factual enough to be true… But don’t forget this is just a story.)

    This Golden Wheel Monk, however, is a prodigy and through his hard work and intelligence, he managed to break through the obstacle at the 9th level and reached the 10th level. This is an unprecedented achievement and no one will probably reach this level again. According to the description of the “Dragon/Elephant Moving Skill”, each palm thrust out is equivalent to the force generated by 10 dragons and 10 elephants. He knew he might not be able to reach the next level but he felt he did not have any opponent under the sky so he thought it was unnecessary to master the 11th level. That year when he was defeated by Yang Guo and Xiao Long Nu’s swords, it was the biggest defeat and insult in his whole life, so he trained relentlessly and now when the Khan is preparing to invade the south, he took this opportunity to come south and seek the Yang-Long couple for a re-match, hoping to avenge his bitter defeat.

    Now when he struck out with his palms, the Big Head Ghost was struck on his arm and it broke immediately with a snap. Following that he was struck on his forehead and his brain was smashed in without even a sound and he died instantly. Feng Yi Weng’s skills were high and when he saw that the palm attacking him was lethal, he used the “Tuo Tian Stance” to block this palm, however it was too strong for him and he felt as though a thousand-jin force had smashed his back, so he saw everything turn black and he collasped.

    Guo Xiang was extremely taken aback and shouted, “They’re my friends! Why did you hit them?”

    Feng Yi Weng spat out a pool of blood and used his last ounce of strength to get up and pounce onto Fa Wang’s leg, yelling, “Miss, get the hell out of here!” Fa Wang grabbed his back, wanting to lift him up and smash him down but Feng Yi Weng used his life to protect Guo Xiang, so he grabbed onto Fa Wang’s leg for all he was worth. Although Fa Wang was incredibly strong, he could not get rid of him. Guo Xiang was stunned and furious and immediately knew this monk was a bad egg but she did not want to dessert Feng Yi Weng and escape alone. She placed her hands on her waist and coldly said, “Evil monk, how dare you commit evil? Let him go, I’ll follow you.” Feng Yi Weng yelled, “Just go! Don’t care about…” Before he could say “me” he was dead.

    Fa Wang lifted his body and cast it aside, laughing, “If you want to escape why not use the horse?” Guo Xiang had never hated anyone her whole life, even when Hou Du ambushed and killed Lu You Jiao she just grieved for him but did not hate Hou Du. But now when she saw Fa Wang being so cruel and brutal she could not help it but hate him and stared at him with hatred in her eyes. Fa Wang said, “Miss, aren’t you scared of me?” Guo Xiang said, “Scared? Of what? If you want to kill me just do it now!” Fa Wang stuck out his thumb and said, “Good. A very brave girl, just like her father.”

    Guo Xiang gazed at him with rage in her eyes and wanted to burry her friends but she did not have any tools so she just carried the bodies and placed them on Feng Yi Weng’s horse and kicked the horse, saying, “Horse, please send them home.” The horse galloped away.

    That night when Yang Guo and Huang Yao Shi left Xiang Yang, they used their Qinggong and ran 10 miles south, and before morning they were near Yi Cheng. They came to a tea house, ordered some dishes and started eating. Huang Yao Shi told him that Cheng Ying and Lu Wu Shuang had been living in their hometown Jia Xing in seclusion with Sha Gu for company. He wanted to take them and roam Jiang Hu to ease themselves but they did not want to. Yang Guo sadly gave a sigh and reproached himself inwardly.

    They drank 2 cups of wine. Yang Guo said, “Island Master Huang, for these past 10 years, I’ve been looking for you to consult you over a matter.” Huang Yao Shi laughed, “I’m always on the move without a fixed destination, so it was hard for you to find me. But what would you like to ask?” Yang Guo was about to reply when he heard foot steps on ths stairs and saw 3 people coming up.

    When Yang Guo and Huang Yao Shi heard the foot steps, they knew the 3 people’s martial arts were strong and recognised 2 of them after a glance. One was Xiao Xiang Zi, the other was Yin Kexi, but he did not recognise the 3rd person who had a dark complexion. Yin Kexi and Xiao Xiang Zi had seen Yang Guo too and they stood rooted for a moment and quickly turned around, wanting to get downstairs.


    Taken from the RoCH Exerpts By Athena

    Yang Guo raised his eyebrows and laughed:"Long time no see! Why such a hurry?"
    Yin Kexi raised his hands and greeted with a smile:"How are you doing, master Yang?"
    Xiaoxiang Zi was still angry for the fact that Yang Guo broke his arm at Mount Zhongnan 16 years ago, although his internal strength has increased a lot, he knew he was no match for Yang Guo. He did not bother to look at Yang Guo one more time and turned around and started to descend from the stairs.

    The man with the dark face was another famous warrior of Khubilai, together with Yin Kexi and Xiaoxiang Zi they were here to scout the vicinity. When he saw that Xiaoxiang Zi looking angry, he loudly said:"Brother Xiaoxiang, wait! If there is a rogue disturbing our moods let me deal with him." He walked over and wanted to use his big hand to toss Yang Guo of the first floor.

    Yang Guo saw that his palm was coloured purple and knew he was trained in the Poisonous Sand Palms, he thought:"Why don't I use these three men to inquire old master Huang about the Celestial Nun of the South Sea?" He saw that the man's hand was about to touch his shoulder, he put up his palm and pats he had slapped the man on the cheek. Huang Yao Shi was shocked:"How very fast!" Just by seeing that slap, he knew that Yang Guo had invented his own style and this style was unique. He heard another two slaps, Xiaoxiang Zi was slapped on his left and right cheek. Yang Guo spared Yin Kexi because he had shown some courtesy.

    Huang Yao Shi laughed:"Young brother Yang, your new invented style is most sophisticated. I would like to see the entire set as to appease my eyes."
    Yang Guo said:"I was just about to ask old master Huang for some pointers."
    His body rocked about and he was now displaying his Melancholic Sad Palms, his long sleeve whisked around and his left palm was pushing forward. Suddenly he used the stance Entangled by the web of love and following he added the technique, Hesitating on returing to the the empty valley, with these two stances he curled Xiaoxiang Zi, Yin Kexi and the other warrior in his waves of palm energy. The three of them were like trapped in a tidal wave and were falling back and forth, they were totally submissive to Yang Guo's palm. They were practically unable to stand up straight, let alone trying to break free here. In a few moments they were at the mercy of Yang Guo, Huang Yao Shi was holding a cup and sighed:"The ancients were drinking wine while reading the Han History Analects, today I am drinking wine and beholding your martial arts. This kind of lofty sentiments has surpassed the ancients."

    Yang Guo said loudly:"Old master, please give me a few pointers." He waved his palm and Xiaoxiang Zi was pushed towards Huang Yao Shi. Huang Yao Shi did not dare to be leisurely, he pushed out with his left hand and returned Xiaoxiang back, he saw that the black-faced warrior was coming towards him now. He first sipped some wine before using his palm to repel that man back too. Yang Guo carefully examined his stances and saw that although his internal power was strong but his techniques were not extraordinary exquisite. He thought:"If I don't go all out, I cannot force him to display the martial arts of the Celestial Nun of the South Sea." He accumulated his energy in his public region and increased energy to his palms. That way Xiaoxiang Zi, Yin Kexi and the black-faced warrior were pushed to Huang Yao Shi faster and faster.

    After returning a few palms Huang Yao Shi felt that the three men came crashing towards him like tidal waves, the second wave fiercer than the first wave.
    He thought:"This child's palms become stronger with every stance, he is really one outstanding martial arts master."

    At this point the black-faced warrior soared through the sky, his feet first and head back. He was headed towards the face of Huang Yao Shi tilted his palm to discharge the coming energy force, his right hand trembled a bit and some wine splattered out of the cup. Following were Yin Kexi and Xiaoxiang Zi who were soaring through the sky now, one was directly flying towards him the other diagonally. Huang Yao Shi called out:"Good!", he put down his cup and used his right palm to retalliate.

    Yang Guo and Huang Yao Shi were now several zhang (1 zhang is about 4 metres) apart from each other, and were exchanging palms with each other. Xiaoxiang Zi, Yin Kexi and the black-faced warrior became as it were rubber balls or other toys at the hands of Yang and Huang. They were entirely at their control and were sent soaring back and forth. Only after displaying half of his Melancholic Sad Palms, the Changing Peach and Descending Flower Palms of Huang Yao Shi was paling in comparison now. When he saw that Yin Kexi was soaring towards him and he figured that his palm energy was not able to resist that palm. He flicked his finger and a soft splang sound could be heard, a light and delicate energy burst out and countered the energy blast of Yang Guo. He flicked his finger three times and three shots of splangs could be heard, Xiaoxiang Zi, Yin Kexi and the black-faced warrior had fallen on the floor and fainted. His Divine Finger Flick and the Melancholic Sad Palms of Yang Guo were evenly well-matched. No one was either the winner or the loser.

    Both of them laughed heartily and sat down at their table again, they were pouring wine and drinking again. Huang Yao Shi said:"Young brother Yang, the power of your new created palm stances are very forceful. In the entire realm only the 18 Dragon Subduing Palms of my son-in-law, Guo Jing can be compared to it. My Changing Peach and Descending Flower Palms is one level inferior."

    End Of Segment


    Yang Guo thanked him repeatedly, then said, “I learnt your 2 great skills ‘Divine Flicking Finger’ and ‘Jade Flute Swordplay’ years ago and when I created this palm skill, I derived some of the essence from your skills. I heard you were once taught by the South Sea Nun and learnt a palm skill, I would humbly request Elder to display it as an eye-opener for me.”

    Huang Yao Shi curiously asked, “South Sea Nun? Who’s that? I’ve never heard of such a person.”

    Yang Guo’s face turned green. He stood up and stuttered, “What?! There’s no… no such person as the South Sea Nun?” Huang Yao Shi saw his face changed colour and got a shock so he said, “Could it be a young hero who has risen in recent years? This old man is rather ignorant, I’ve never heard of her.”

    Yang Guo stood there speechless but his heart was beating like crazy, thinking, “Aunt Guo clearly told me Long-Er was saved by the South Sea Nun, so this whole thing is a lie, this whole thing is a sham to fool me!” He faced the sky and let off a roar which shuddered the whole building, then his tears fell to the floor.

    Huang Yao Shi said, “If you have any troubles you could tell me, maybe this old man can help you.” Yang Guo said with a trembling voice, “My heart is in a great mess. Please pardon me.” He waved his sleeve and dashed down the stairs, causing some of the planks to break under his force.

    Huang Yao Shi wondered what on Earth was going on and mumbled, “South Sea Nun? Who the heck is that??”

    Yang Guo increased his speed and rushed around madly, not eating or sleeping for several days, just charging around like a typhoon. It was only when he became half-dead from fatigue that he thought of Xiao Long Nu, not even daring to imagine if he could meet her again. In less than a day he had reached the bank of a large river. Finally he could not take it anymore and just boarded the nearest boat he saw, handed two taels of silver to the boatman and went to sleep without even asking where it was heading.

    The boat headed east on the choppy river and stopped every few days to trade goods; it was a trading boat. Yang Guo’s heart was still in disarray and did not bother where the boat was taking him to, drinking by day and sighing by night, passing several days in that fashion. The boatsman received his money and thought he was just an aimless wanderer and did not bother him.

    Then one day a trader on board said the boat was nearing Jia Xing and Lin An. When Yang Guo heard ‘Jia Xing’, he was surprised, thinking, “My father’s death was brought about by Huang Rong years ago at the Iron Spear Temple in Jia Xing and his body was eaten by the crows, but what heppened to his bones? I must be a filial son and bury his remains properly.” He then got off the boat.

    At that time it was the start of winter, and although Jiangnan was not as cold as the north, it was still snowing heavily. Yang Guo put on a cape and started walking. In 3 days he reached Jia Xing.

    When he reached there it was evening and he went to a restaurant and ordered some diahes then asked where the Iron Spear Temple was. He then went out into the snow and went straight there. It was still snowing and the north wind did not show any signs of slackening.

    Under the snow’s reflection, he saw that this temple has been abandoned for many years and no one tended to the repairs. The door was rotting away and it creaked open when pushed gently. He entered the temple and saw the statue in a bad shape and the place was filled with cobwebs. There was no one around. More than 30 years ago his father died here and he had never seen his father before, which made him even sadder.

    He looked round the temple and hoped he could find any traces his father had left behind although so many years had passed already. He went to the back of the temple and found a grave and a tombstone between 2 large trees and the tombstone was covered in snow. He waved the snow away with his sleeve and read the inscription. When he read it he became very angry. It read, “Unfilial Diciple Yang Kang’s Grave” and the sub-heading read, “Inscribed by his Useless Teacher Qiu Chi Ji”.

    Yang Guo was furious thinking, “This old priest Qiu Chu Ji is really heartless, even after my father is dead he wouldn’t leave him alone. How was my father unfilial? Humph, what’s the bloody use of being filial to that old Cow-nose? If I don’t go to Quan Zhen Sect and kill those people, my anger would never subside.” He lifted his palm and wanted to smash the tombstone.

    Before he could strike, he heard footsteps moving fast outside the temple which sounded strange – they sounded like martial arts experts yet sounded like animals. Yang Guo became curious so he did not strike down, then he heard the footsteps heading towards the temple. He quickly got back inside and hid behind the statue, trying to see what it was.

    The footsteps came right up to the temple but stopped at the entrance, probably fearing the enemy lying in ambush inside. After a while, they stepped in. Yang Guo peeked at them then almost laughed out. He saw 4 men enter the temple; the 4 men had their left legs broken, their hands holding on to a stick and their right legs were clapped in chains, so their footsteps made such strange noises as they had to move their feet together.

    The leader of the group had a bald and shiny head and only half a left arm. The second person had a lump on his forehead and his left arm stopped at the elbow. The 3rd person was small-sized while the 4th was a huge monk. The four of them looked rather old and were obviously disabled. Yang Guo wondered, “What is their background? Why do they stick together like that and never leave each other?” The leader took out his flint and lit a fire, then he found a candle and lit it. Yang Guo then saw clearly that apart from the leader, the other 3 had no eyeballs in their eye sockets, then he realised, “So these 3 people depend on the 1st person to lead the way.”

    The bald man held the candle and looked arounf the temple. The 4 of them moved like crabs, one following the other and the didtance between them was less than 3 feet. Yang Guo had concealed himself well, moreover these people were disabled and only one of them could see, so they did not find him although their ears were sharp and their movement rather agile. The bald man said, “That old man Ke didn’t reveal our whereabouts or invite helpers to lie in ambush here.” The 3rd man said, “Correct, he promised not to squeal on us. These people are valliant and always keep their word of honour.”

    The 4 people sat on the floor together. The 2nd man said, “Shi Ge (Martial Brother), do you think this old man Ke will really come?” The 1st man said, “It’s quite hard to say, but I think he won’t come. Who’s so stupid to come and seek death?” The 3rd man said, “But this old man Ke is the head of the Jiangnan Seven Freaks. That year he made a bet with that scoundrel priest Qiu and so he went all the way to Mongolia to teach Guo Jing martial arts. This matter is well-known in Jiang Hu; everyone’s saying the Jiangnan Seven Freaks never go back on their word. It’s because of this that we released him.”

    Yang Guo heard every word clearly from behind the statue and thought, “So they’re waiting for Elder Ke.” Then he heard the 2nd man say, “I say he’d definitely come. Brother Peng, why don’t we make a bet to see who…” Before he finished talking, they heard footsteps out in the snow which were heavy and light alternately – someone was using a walking stick. Yang Guo knew Ke Zhen-Ee when he was on Peach Blossom Island, so he knew it was him immediately. The skinny man laughed, “Brother Hou, that old man Ke is here, you still want to bet?” The man with the lump said, “You scoundrel, are you really not afraid of death?”

    A few tapping sounds were heard and the Flying Bat (Bats seemed common then – there was also a bat in HSDS) Ke Zhen-Ee walked in and said, “Ke Zhen-Ee has kept his word and come, these are the Nine Flowers Jade Reavealing Pills, althogether there’re 12 of them, which makes it 3 for each of you.” He threw a small bottle over to the bald man. He said happily, “Many thanks.” and caught it. Ke Zhen-Ee said, “This old man has completed his business and is here to die.” He was standing erect proudly in front of them and his beard was floating in the wind.

    The man with the lump said, “Shi Ge, he brought us the Nine Flowers Jade Reavealing Pills which can treat our internal injuries, moreover we don’t have any deep feud with him, let’s just let him off.” The skinny man laughed, “Hey Brother Hou, don’t let the tiger escape back into the wild. Your kindness may cause us to die a horrible death. Although he never revealed our secret, how can we be sure he’d never do it?” He shouted, “Let’s act together!” The 4 people rushed up and surrounded Ke Zhen-Ee.

    The old man said hoarsely, “More than 30 years ago, all of us saw Yang Kang die here tragically, who knew it would happen to you too, this is retribution.”

    Ke Zhen-Ee smashed his walking stick and said angrily, “ThatYang Kang acknowledged a scoundrel as his father, betrayed his country for wealth; he was a despicable scum. I, Ke Zhen-Ee, am a true man who has never let down the sky or the Earth, how can you compare that traitor with me, the Flying Bat? Didn’t you know I can be killed but not be insulted (Ke Sha Bu Ke Ru – A rather common phrase at that time)?” The skinny man sneered, “You’re about to die and you still try to be a hero!” Three of them shot out their palms together and aimed at his head. Ke Zhen-Ee knew he was not their match and just stood there, not attempting any retaliation.

    Suddenly a gust of wind blew over them and a ‘peng’ sound was heard, causing the dust to fly. The 4 of them knew something was wrong and felt as if they did not hit any flesh. That bald man understood what was going on but Ke Zhen-Ee had suddenly disappeared and in is position was actually the statue. The statue’s head was smashed and fell into pieces under the 4 people’s combined force.

    The bald man was shocked. He turned around and saw a 30-something year old man with a furious face holding Ke Zhen-Ee’s neck and lifted him high into the air, shouting, “Why did you insult my father?”

    Ke Zhen-Ee asked, “Who’re you?” Yang Guo said, “I’m Yang Guo and Yang Kang is my father. When I was young you didn’t treat me badly but why do you slander my late father behind my back?” Ke Zhen-Ee coldly said, “There are many men in history, some leave a good reputation for a hundred generations, while some leave behind a stinking name. How can you silence everyone?”

    Yang Guo saw that he was very stubborn and became more furious and threw him down hardly onto the ground, shouting, “So you’re saying my father was despicable and shameless?”

    The bald man saw that Yang Guo’s martial arts were superb as he could swap a person with a statue without even him knowing, so he knew he was not his match and lightly tugged at the chain, wanting to sneak out of the temple. Yang Guo darted forward and blocked the exit, saying, “No one’s getting out of here alive without giving me an explaination.” The 4 people yelled and threw out a palm each towards him. Yang Guo said, “Good!” He also shot out his left palm a force of a tornado smashed onto them, causing them to lose their balance and fall backwards, hitting the statue and smashing it. The 2nd man’s skills were the weakest and his lump hit right smack into the statue, causing him to black out immediately.

    Yang Guo said, “Who’re you people? Why are you chained together in this strange manner? And why do you want to meet Ke Zhen-Ee here?” After being hit by Yang Guo’s palm, his chest became congested and his organs seemed to turn upside down, so he sat quietly for a while trying to circulate his chi before talking slowly.

    This bald man was Sha Tong Tian, the 2nd man was his martial brother the 3-Headed Mosquito Hou Tong Hai, the 3rd man was the 1000-Hand Killer Peng Lian Hu, was the Big Handprint Monk Ling Zi. More than 30 years ago, the Old Urchin (Old Imp) Zhou Bo Tong captured them and handed to Qiu Chu Ji and Wang Chu Yi who imprisoned them in Chong Yang Palace, wanting them to repent before releasing them. But their evil characters were hard to change and they tried ways and means to escape but were recaptured each time. On their 3rd attempt, Hou Tong Hai, Peng Lian Hu and Ling Zi killed several of the Quan Zhen diciples who were their wardens. The Quan Zhen Taoists punished them by breaking their leg and blinding them. Since only Sha Tong Tian killed no one, he was not blinded. Then 16 years ago the Mongolians overran Chong Yang Palace so they managed to escape. However, as 3 of them were blind, they had to rely on Sha Tong Tian to lead the way and they were afraid that he would dessert them, so they chained themselves up in that manner.
    (Read the Legend of The Condor Heroes for details.)

    At that time Yang Guo only spent a short time at Chong Yang Palace and was not in his master’s and fellow diciples’ good books so he has never been allowed to go near their cell, therefore he has never seen them and did not know their background.

    When they escaped from Chong Yang Palace, although the Quan Zhen’s base had been destroyed, but their strength in Jiang Hu had not diminished, besides the 4 of them were disabled so they could not fight the Quan Zhen diciples, so they came to Jiangnan and lived in a deserted village, passing 16 years uneventfully. But one day they came out and saw Ke Zhen-Ee passing along a small road. Sha Tong Tian was afraid he had come for them so they went to confront him. Ke Zhen-Ee’s skills were no match for the 4 people and was subdued almost immediately. After interrogating him, they found he was attending to some other matters. Although the 4 of them had no feud with him, they were afraid he would leak out their secret so they wanted to kill him.

    Ke Zhen-Ee sweared that he would make a trip to Jia Xing to attend to a matter then he would return to seek death, promising that if they let him off for now he would obtain the Nine Flowers Jade Reavealing Pills from Peach Blossom Island to return the favour. After their leg was broken, it would ache and hurt whenever it rained, so when they heard he would bring them such an effective treatment, they made him swear an oath not to reveal their whereabouts and not to get help to fight them and finally to meet at the Iron Spear Temple.

    When Sha Tong Tian finished his story, he said, “Hero Yang, when your father was still alive we were guests in his palace. We never did anything against him even until he passed away. We hope that you consider our good ties with him and let us off.” Many years ago these 4 people were outstanding people in Jiang Hu, even if they were threatened by swords and axes they would never be willing to show their weakness, but after being disabled and suffering many years of hardship, they discarded their pride and begged Yang Guo for mercy.

    Yang Guo snorted did not bother about them, facing Ke Zhen-Ee and saying, “So you went to see Cheng Ying and Lu Wu Shuang? What is it about?” Ke Zhen-Ee faced the sky and laughed, “Yang Guo ah Yang Guo, you’re really ignorant.” Yang Guo angrily said, “In what way?” Ke Zhen-Ee said, “At this stage, I already ignore my old life, even when I was in my prime I have never been intimidated by anyone. No matter how good your martial arts are, you can only frighten people who’re afraid of death. The Jiangnan Seven Freaks never submit under interrogation.”

    Yang Guo saw that his manner was imposing and gallant and respected him so he said, “Elder Ke, I’m at fault, pardon me. I was offended because you insulted my father. Elder Ke’s name is well-known throughout the world, I have admired you since young and do not dare offend you.” Ke Zhen-Ee said, “This is more like it. I heard your character is good and you contributed greatly to Xiang Yang, so I regard you as an outstanding person. If you were like your father, by just talking to me alone you would have insulted me.”

    Yang Guo’s anger erupted again and he shouted, “What on Earth had my father done? Tell me clearly.” Among all the people Yang Guo knew, there were many who knew about his father but no one wanted to tell him the whole story in order not to offend him. Even if he asked, they just picked some unrelated details and told him. Ke Zhen-Ee bore a deep grudge against his father and he also did not have any regard for his own life, so he did not care if Yang Guo was offended or not. He told Yang Guo the whole story of Guo Jing and Yang Kang and mentioned how Yang Kang corroborated with Ouyang Feng to kill 5 of the Jiangnan Seven Freaks, and finally how he died after striking Huang Rong here in this very temple. Then he said, “These people witnessed everything that happened that night. Sha Tong Tian, Peng Lian Hu, tell us, have I spoken the truth?”

    The six people had smashed the statue and shouted loudly, frightening the crows at the top of the temple. They circled in the air and cawed continuously.

    Sha Tong Tian sighed, “That night there were so many crows as well… My hand was scratched by the elder Master Yang, if not for Brother Peng’s quick reaction of cutting off my arm, how could I live till today?” Peng Lian Hu said, “Old man Ke is more or less correct, but Hero Yang’s father treated us with courtesy and his was really… really outstanding and talented.”

    (Some background information : In LoCH, Yang Kang struck Huang Rong’s Soft Armour which had Ouyang Feng’s poison on it – why the poison was there is one long story. Hance he eventually died from the poison; when he scratched Sha Tong Tian the poison was spread to him, so his arm had to be amputated.)

    Yang Guo hugged his head with both hands in grief and indignation – he never expected his father to be such an evil traitor. No matter how great he was, it was hard to erase his father’s bad name. The six people sat there silently while the crows continued cawing.

    After a long time, Ke Zhen-Ee said, “Master Yang, you contributed greatly to Xiang Yang, no matter how many wrongdoings your father had commited, you have already covered up for him. Even in the Underworld he would be proud of you.”

    Yang Guo thought back about his relationship with the Guo couple and remembered how Huang Rong guarded against him. Many of the misunderstandings in the past resulted from this. But without his father how would he be here? Still, many of his problems originated from his father, so he gave a long sigh and asked Ke Zhen-Ee, “Elder Ke, how are Cheng Ying and Lu Wu Shuang?”

    Ke Zhen-Ee said, “They heard about how you burnt the supplies at Nan Yang and how you annihilated the Mongolian vanguard, so they were delighted. They asked every detail about you and also asked if you had news of Xiao Long Nu. They really miss you a lot, but it’s a pity I don’t know much myself.”

    Yang Guo said, “I’ve never seen my 2 sworn sisters for 16 years.” Suddenly he turned around and told Sha Tong Tian, “Elder Ke has promised to give his life to you, he is a man of honour and never goes back on his word. Now you can act. If you gang up on him you can win by numbers and kill him. But if you do that I will kill you dogs to avenge him.”

    They sat wordlessly for a while. Then Peng Lian Hu said, “The 4 of us are really naïve, we offended old Hero Ke, we beg you two great men to forgive us.” Yang Guo said, “Then remember that it is you who do not keep your word and do not dare kill Elder Ke.” Peng Lian Hu said, “Yes, yes. Old Hero Ke is a man of honour, we really admire him.” Yang Guo said, “Then leave quickly. Don’t mess with me again.” The 4 men bowed together and left the temple.

    Yang Guo saved Ke Zhen-Ee’s life as well as defended his honour, so he was really grateful. The 2 men kicked away the broken pieces of the statue and sat down.

    Ke Zhen-Ee said, “Actually I came to Jia Xing because of the younger Miss Guo.” Yang Guo was slightly surprised, asking, “What happened to her?” Ke Zhen-Ee sighed but smiled, “Each of Guo Jing’s daughters are mischevious in their own way, which really causes a lot of headaches. No one knows why that doll Guo Xiang left Xiang Yang wordlessly and no one knows where she is, so her father sent out people to find her whereabouts in his anxiety, but so far she could not be traced. Some of them actually came to Peach Blossom Island to look for her. But why would such an active young girl come to Peach Blossom Island to keep this blind old man company? I also became worried and came here to help find her.”

    Yang Guo said, “So have you got any news?” Ke Zhen-Ee said, “Yesterday I was at Lin An and I heard 2 Mongols saying that Hero Guo’s daughter has been captured and imprisoned in the Mongolian Camp…” Yang Guo exclaimed, “Ah! Is this for real?” Ke Zhen-Ee said, “The 2 Mongolian armies have come to attack Xiang Yang, yet the Imperial Court’s officials still think they can make peace. These 2 Mongols must be here to fool our officials, so their ranks must be very high. I have lived with the Mongolians for many years and although I’m blind my ears are very sharp so I heard it very clearly.” Yang Guo said, “So this is true?”

    Ke Zhen-Ee said, “Yes! I orginally wanted to send poison to these 2 Mongolians, but reporting the matter to Xiang Yang is more urgent so I didn’t want to be stuck with this problem. Unfortunately I met those 4 goons along the way. I don’t really care when I die but the news concerning Guo Xiang must be reported, so I requested for several days’ grace and came to Jia Xing to relay the news to Cheng Ying and Lu Wu Shuang. After receiving the news they went north immediately, so I came to seek death. I never expected that I would keep my promise while those 4 goons didn’t, Ha ha ha!”

    Yang Guo remained quiet for some time before asking, “Elder Ke, did you happen to overhear where Miss Guo is held? Is her life in danger?” Ke Zhen-Ee said, “They didn’t mention this; from what I heard it seems like those 2 Mongols aren’t too sure themselves.” Yang Guo said, “This is really urgent, I must rush there and conduct a rescue operation. Elder Ke, please take your time.”

    Ke Zhen-Ee heard from the Beggars’ Sect members who came to Peach Blossom Island to look for Guo Xiang about Yang Guo’s great deeds at Xiang Yang, so he knew that he was exceptionally capable. He said, “With you going, I don’t have to worry.”

    Yang Guo said, “Elder Ke, I’d like to ask for a favour – please help my father errect a new tombstone which says, ‘My Father Lord Yang Kang’s Grave, by his unfilial son Yang Guo’.” Ke Zhen-Ee was surprised then he realised what he wanted, saying, “Absolutely right! Although you’re unfilial, even you being unfilial has far surpassed others being filial. I’ll definitely do it.”

    Yang Guo went back to Jia Xing and bought 3 good horses and set off towards north immediately. Throughout the entire journey he kept switching horses to prevent any delays and he reached the Mongolian camp the same day.

    The Mongolian Khan was trying to capture Xiang Yang but they suffered 2 great defeats without knowing why, furthermore their supplies at Nan Yang were burnt completely and they lost many troops. Their morale was low and they did not know the real situation of the Song Soldiers, so they camped at the north of Nan Yang and did not stir. Their flags were all over the place and their weapons were displayed for all to see. Yang Guo swept across the camp with his eyes and saw tent after tent, seemingly unending.

    Yang Guo waited for nightfall and sneaked into the camp to scout around, but he only saw that their weapons were neatly arranged and the whole camp was in order; it was really serious for the Song army. Yang Guo knew there were many great fighters in the camp and he could not fight them all so he was careful not to reveal himself. After sneaking around for half a night he still could not find out where Guo Xiang was held. He managed to capture an advisor who spoke Mandarin and interrogated him, but the advisor claimed he had never even heard of such a matter at all.

    Yang Guo was still worried and he examined the camp for a few days. Finally he determined that she was not in the camp and thought, “It looks like Uncle Guo has already rescued her or perhaps those 2 Mongol officials had just heard some rumours.” Then after checking the dates he found that it was nearing his reunion with Xiao Long Nu, so he hurriedly headed towards the Loveless Valley.


    END OF CHAPTER 37.
    Last edited by IcyFox; 01-04-06 at 11:43 AM.

  18. #198
    Senior Member IcyFox's Avatar
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    One reason why I don't post translations in daily snippets is because I think that's more for comic strips...
    So I post them in chapters like a TV serial...

    Enjoy!
    Last edited by IcyFox; 01-03-06 at 10:51 AM.

  19. #199
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    Ohhhh!!!!!!!!! Thank you very much sir Icyfoxy!!!!

    YG is so strong now. BTW, Huang Rong is very smart but till now she still doesn't understand YG, even if YG is chaotic Im sure he would never hurt Guo Xiang no matter what.

  20. #200
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    First of all I'd like to thank all the translators for their efforts. You should know that even if only a few post, there are probably a great deal of people who are reading your work. I'm just another lurker who occasionaly posts a little note saying "thank you".

    I check this forum DAILY, and even when no one was working on books in which I was interested, I kept visiting at least twice a week.

    * * *

    I am in pain. I am trying to resist skipping the 34th chapter for now. :\

    jin_yong_fan: PLEASE SAVE ME!!

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