Using his bare hand Ku Toutuo attacked Zhao Min’s sword. Sparring for the third time Ku Toutuo’s hand moved lightning fast; his speed was unimaginable. Zhao Min could not match his speed; but although her sword was slower, her movement was similar to his, without the slightest amount of discrepancy. Ku Toutuo turned his body around, shot both of his hands out then stopped dead on his track.
“Good!” Zhang Wuji applauded silently, “That was brilliant!”
For a moment Zhao Min did not understand, leaning her head sideways she stared at Ku Toutuo’s position. After thinking for a while she finally understood. “Ah, Ku Dashi, if you were holding a weapon, then the staff would break my arm,” she said, “How do you counter it?”
Ku Toutuo made a movement of flipping his hand and grabbing the steel staff. His left foot flew up, his head raised up; he simultaneously snatched the enemy’s staff and kicked. This movement looked clumsy, but actually it was a very skillful movement of martial art from outside the great wall.
Zhao Min smiled and said, “Good Shifu, quickly teach me.” Her expression was tender and flattering.
Zhang Wuji’s heart skipped a beat. He thought, “Your internal energy is not enough, you can’t learn it. But the way she asked made it difficult for others to refuse.”
Ku Toutuo made two hand signals; his meaning was obvious, ‘You don’t have enough internal energy, you can’t learn this move.’ Then he turned around and ignored her.
Zhang Wuji pondered in his heart, “Ku Toutuo’s martial art is strong; I am afraid he is not below the Xuanming Elders. I don’t know his internal energy level, but his movements were exquisite. He is truly a formidable opponent. He keeps making hand signals, but did not speak a single word; could it be that he is mute? But he definitely is not deaf. Miss Zhao is very respectful to him; he is obviously a character with an extraordinary background.”
Seeing Ku Toutuo was not willing to teach her Zhao Min was not angry; she showed a faint smile and said, “Take Kongtong Sect’s Tang Wenliang here.”
Not too long afterwards Tang Wenliang was ushered into the hall. Again Lu Zhangke ordered three of his men to fight with him. Tang Wenliang was not willing to suffer defeat under a weapon, so with bare hands he fought against the enemy’s palms. He won the first two matches; but on the third match his opponent used internal energy. Tang Wenliang was not able to resist and he lost one of his fingers. Again Zhao Min practiced according to what she just saw while Lu Zhangke gave directions from the side.
It dawned on Zhang Wuji that Zhao Min realized her internal energy was insufficient and it was difficult to cultivate internal energy intensively; so she wanted to learn the martial arts of various sects’ sect leaders and experts. This method was not only more feasible, but by practicing the most exquisite of each skill she might be able to greatly make up of her own inadequacy.
After practicing the fist technique Zhao Min said, “Call the Old Nun Miejue!”
One of the yellow-robed men said, “The Old Nun Miejue has gone on a hunger strike for five days. She is still as stubborn as ever; not willing to take any order.”
“Starve her to death, then!” Zhao Min smiled, “Hey, call that Emei Sect’s young girl, Zhou Zhiruo.” Her subordinate complied; he turned around and went out the hall.
Zhang Wuji remembered Zhou Zhiruo had cared for him attentively on the boat in Han River; he felt that he owed her a debt of gratitude. On the Brightness Peak Zhou Zhiruo also helped him by giving him pointers on positions, so that he was able to defeat the Huashan Sect and Kunlun Sect’s Saber and Sword Combination Technique; later on she stabbed him with her sword, but it was because she was following her Shifu’s strict order, so he did not hold it against her. Now that he heard Zhao Min’s order to get her, his heart was shaken.
A short moment later the group of yellow-robed men came back, ushering Zhou Zhiruo into the hall. Zhang Wuji saw that she was as beautiful as he remembered her; only compared to at the Brightness Peak she was slightly thinner and paler. Although imprisoned by the enemy, she managed to maintain her composure as if she had already disregarded life and death.
As usual Lu Zhangke asked if she was willing to surrender or not. Zhou Zhiruo simply shook her head without saying anything. Lu Zhangke was about to send someone to fight with her when Zhao Min said, “Miss Zhou, you are very young, yet you are one of Emei Sect’s martial art experts; that is truly something to be envious of. I heard you are Reverend Mie Jue’s protégé and have mastered her profound swordsmanship, is that true?”
Zhou Zhiruo replied, “My Master’s martial art is so broad and deep; let’s just say that she [here the term used was ‘lao ren jia’ – Senior] has passed all her knowledge to me, I am [here the term used was ‘xiao nu zi’ – a little girl] young and my understanding is shallow, I fall far too short.”
Zhao Min smiled, “The rule is as long as you can defeat three of our people, then we’ll let you go, free and unharmed; we won’t trouble you anymore. Why is your honorable master so proud that she disdains to compare martial art with us?” she asked.
Zhou Zhiruo replied, “My Master prefers death over disgrace. She is the Sect Leader of Emei; how could she ask for mercy from your subordinate? What you said was not wrong; my Master certainly look down upon contemptible, evil woman and lowly people. Of course she disdains fighting with you.”
Surprisingly Zhao Min was not angry; she still smiled and asked, “How about you, Miss Zhou?”
“I am but a little girl, what do I have to say?” Zhou Zhiruo answered, “Whatever Shifu said, I follow.”
“Your honorable master also forbade you to fight with us, didn’t she?” Zhao Min asked, “Why is that?”
Zhou Zhiruo replied, “Although Emei Sect’s sword technique is not the greatest technique there is, it is still the Central Plains’ major sect’s martial art; certainly we cannot allow some shameless barbarian captors to steal it.” She spoke with a refined manner, but her words were sharp, in total disregard of other people’s feeling.
Zhao Min was startled; she did not expect Miejue Shitai to correctly guess her true intention. She heard Zhou Zhiruo first said ‘evil woman, lowly people’, then she said, ‘shameless barbarian’; she could not bear her anger. ‘Swish!’ the Yitian Sword appeared in her hand. “Your Shifu cursed us as shameless barbarians. Fine! Let me ask you this: this Yitian Sword is obviously my family’s treasure; how could the Emei steal it?”
Zhou Zhiruo indifferently said, “Yitian Sword and Tulong [slaying dragon] Saber have always been the Central Plain Wulin world’s precious weapons. I have never heard they have anything to do with a barbarian woman.”
Zhao Min’s face turned completely red; “Humph!” she angrily said, “I did not know your tongue is actually very sharp. So you are determined not to fight with us?” Zhou Zhiruo shook her head. Zhao Min said, “I always cut a finger of those other people who lost in the martial art match or simply refuse to fight. You, this little girl, must be very proud of your beautiful face; no wonder you are so arrogant. I am not going to cut your finger.” While saying that she pointed her finger toward Ku Toutuo and continued, “I am going to make you as this Reverend; I am going to add twenty, thirty sword marks on your face. I want to see if you are still arrogant.” She waved her left hand and immediately two of the yellow-robed men came forward to grab Zhou Zhiruo’s arms. Zhao Min smiled and said, “I want to turn your smart face into a honeycomb; and I don’t need Emei’s exquisite sword technique to do that. Do you think I can’t turn you into an ugly clown with my ‘three-legged cat’ skill?”
Tears started to well up Zhou Zhiruo’s eyes; her body started to tremble. She saw the tip of the Yitian Sword was only a few inches apart from her own cheeks. She knew as soon as this demon moved her hand, her face would look like that ugly and fearsome ‘toutuo’.
“Are you scared?” Zhao Min asked with a smile. Zhou Zhiruo did not dare to act strong anymore; she nodded her head. “Good!” Zhao Min said, “Do you surrender?”